Imágenes de páginas

It was very remarkable that Mr. Beddome, on the very day his son died, (though he was unacquainted with his illness) preached from Psalm xxxi. 15, “ My times are in thy hand,” (a sketch of the discourse will be found in this volume;) and composed that beautiful hymn so suitable to the time, though he knew it not, and which has so often eased the aching heart of the Christian while he has repeated the lines.

My times of sorrow and of joy,

Great God, are in thy hand ;
My choicest comforts come from thee,

And go at thy command.

“ If thou should'st take them all away,

Yet would I not repine,
Before they were possessed by me

They were entirely thine.

“ Nor would I drop a murmuring word

Though the whole world were gone,
But seek enduring happiness

In thee, and thee alone.

“ What is the world with all its store ?

'Tis but a bitter sweet,
When I attempt to pluck the rose,

A pricking thorn I meet.

“ Here perfect bliss can ne'er be found,

The honey's mixed with gall;
Mid'st changing scenes and dying friends

When recording these singular and painful events, Mr. Beddome says, “ Alas, how much easier it is to preach than to practise! I will complain to God; but not of God. This is undoubtedly the most afflicting loss I have ever yet sustained in my family. Heavenly Father ! let me see the smiles of thy countenance, while I feel the smart of thy rod. Thou destroyest the hope of man."

Six more years had scarcely revolved before he was called to part with her who had been for thirty-four years the companion of his life, in its sorrows, duties, and joys. Mrs. Beddome died January 21, 1784, of a fever, then very prevalent in the village. She was eminent for her unobtrusive piety, the amiableness of her temper, and the sincerity and permanence of her attachment; while her patience under suffering excited the admiration of all. There was scarce any one in the country who, when living, was more beloved, or whose death was more deeply lamented. The close of this year was again clouded by an awfully sudden bereavement. Another son of our author, whose name was Foskett, fell into the river Thames near Deptford, and was drowned, in the 26th year of his age. He, also, had been educated for the medical profession.

Notwithstanding the increasing infirmities of age, Mr. Beddome still continued to discharge his numerous and important duties. Besides attending to his own flock at Bourton, he travelled to different places, instructing and comforting the churches of Christ. The Association held at Evesham, in 1789, was the last at which he preached ; that Association he had addressed seventeen times in forty-six years, which was as often as the rules of the Society would allow any minister. From this period, to the close of his life, he expended all that he received from his people on charitable purposes. He visited his children and friends in London in 1792, where he preached with undiminished acceptance. Indeed, his ministrations retained to the very last their wonted liveliness and attraction, improved by the increased solemnity and wisdom of age. It was his earnest desire not to be long laid aside from his beloved employment, and in this he was gratified; for having, during his infirmities, been carried to and from the chapel, where he preached sitting, he was confined only one Lord's day, and was composing a hymn for public worship only an hour before his death ; and of this the subjoined is the portion he had actually written:

“ God of my life, and of my choice,

Shall I no longer hear thy voice ?
O let that Source of joy divine

With rapture fill this heart of mine !

“Thou openedst Jonah's prison doors,

Be pleased, O Lord, to open ours ;
Then will we to the world proclaim,

The various honours of thy name.”

[ocr errors]

In the prospect of this event, he was calm and resigned, in the full assurance, not only that the Almighty Father had a right to do as he pleased, but that his soul was secure in the hands of Jesus, and that “ to die is gain.” Thus prepared, he awaited the “ last enemy,” and “ fell asleep in Jesus, September 3, 1795, in the 79th year of his having laboured at Bourton fifty-five years. A funeral discourse was preached for him by his affectionate friend, the Rev. Benjamin Francis, of Horsley, from Philippians i. 21, " To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” He spoke of the whole to the deceased, not as the vaunting language of his lips, but as the ferrent desire of his heart. At the close of the sermon the mortal remains were consigned to the grave, while the preacher exhorted his numerous auditory to improve the labours of their late pastor, and prepare for the solemnities of death,

of his age,

The usefulness of such a man can only be known at the resurrection of the just. In his numerous visits and public labours at Abingdon, Bristol, London, and the circle of the Midland Association, an incalculable amount of good was done in promoting the unity, awakening the zeal, and directing the energies of the people of God, while many sinners were known to be converted to the faith. At Bourton he was highly successful. When he went there the church consisted only of about seventy members; in 1751 they had increased to one hundred and eighty; and in 1766, since his residence amongst them, one hundred and ninety-six persons had been added to the church. During that period, six were called to the work of the ministry, in whom he had reason to rejoice:— The Revs. John Ryland, sen. A.M. Richard Hayner, John Reynolds, A.M. Nathaniel Rawlins, and Alexander Payne, to which may be added their present pastor, the Rev. Thomas Coles, A.M.

Of his powers of mind and tone of sentiment, though not of his powers as a preacher, some idea may be formed from the following short sketches of sermons which are taken from his manuscripts. It must not, however, be forgotten, that they are the mere skeletons and hints, which he filled out in the pulpit, and preserved without the least design of publication. His invention seemed almost unlimited; while the extent and correctness of his biblical knowledge were evidently great. His diligence must have been incessant, as he generally selected each Sabbath evening the topics for the discourses of the next; besides composing a hymn to be sung after each sermon. These, if collected, would fill several volumes; and he wrote hundreds of short discourses beside those that have appeared in print, and those which are here given. In the pulpit he was emphatically at home. He completely overcame the defect of his early efforts; and by high and various endowments, succeeded in arresting the attention, and exciting the feelings, of the most numerous auditories. But we cannot conclude this brief notice better than by introducing a graphic sketch of this extraordinary man, by the pen of one who was himself the greatest preacher of his day, the Rev. Robert Hall, furnished in a preface to a volume of Mr. Beddome's Hymns.

“ Mr. Beddome was, on many accounts, an extraordinary person ; his mind was cast in an original mould; his conceptions on every subject were eminently his own; and where the stamina of his thoughts were the same as other men's, (as must often be the case with the most original thinkers,) a peculiarity marked the mode of their exhibition. Favoured with the advantages of a learned education, he continued to the last to cultivate an acquaintance with the best writers of antiquity, to which he was much indebted for the chaste, terse, and nervous diction which distinguished his compositions, both in prose and verse. Though he spent the principal part of a long life in a village retirement, he was eminent for his colloquial powers, in which he displayed the urbanity of the gentleman and the erudition of the scholar, combined with a more copious vein of Attic salt, than any person it has been my lot to

« AnteriorContinuar »