Letters by Rev. John Beddome to his son, Benjamin

A book "Sermons of the late Rev. Benjamin Beddome; with a brief memoir of the author" was printed in 1835. The "memoir" is a short history of Rev. Benjamin Beddome, but the book doesn't say who wrote it. It is given in full here. It quotes some letters written by Rev. John Beddome to his son, Benjamin, who was starting as a preacher. Benjamin was about 25 years old in 1742.

May 17, 1742

My dear Benj.

I wish from my heart I could prevail with you not to strain your voice so much in the delivery of your sermons; and if you would make them shorter, and less crowded with matter, it would be more acceptable and edifying to your hearers, and more safe and easy for yourself. Strive, then, to comply with this advice, which is given with great affection, and, I think, with judgment. If you deliver the great truths of the gospel with calmness, and with a soft, mellow voice, they will drop as the gentle rain or dew. For the good of souls, then, and for your own good, be persuaded to strive after this.

August 6, 1742

My dear Benj.

I cannot but advise, and earnestly press you, to strive with all your might to soften your voice, and shorten your sermons; for it might be better both for you and your hearers. I say this, not merely from myself, but from many of the most judicious I know. I lately heard a great man say, that if you could deliver the matter you produce in the same manner as Mr. Evans, you would be more popular and useful than ever likely to be if you retain your harsh mode of speaking.' Mr. Grant, not four days ago, said the same things in other words; and I well know, that those of your people who have the best sense, have said to several, that if you strain yourself less, and shorten sermons, it would be better to all. What all say, give ear to. Of one discourse I beg you will make two, and so take care of your health and my comfort. Let two hours be the longest time you spend in the pulpit at any place. This I leave as my special charge; and as I write with all the love and tenderness of a father, I hope you will consider these things.

Benjamin seems to have taken his father's advice. He became well-known as a preacher. He was minister in Bourton-on-water for 55 years. Several of the subscribers to the book of sermons came from Bourton-on-water, and I suspect that they wouldn't have been so enthusiastic if they had continued to suffer from sermons over two hours long!

I find this quite a tactful letter from a father to a son about their mutual profession. John Beddome could have been a lot more dogmatic in his advice. One other point - a family trait is a loud voice (I suffer from this myself). It has always been called the Barclay Voice, since the Barclays are one line of my ancestors. However, perhaps it ought to be the Beddome Voice!

The next year, in July, Benjamin Beddome started preaching at Bourton-on-the-water. However, he was still preaching at Warwick as well, and his father wrote to him about this:

As to the continuance of your journeys between Bourton and Warwick, you are the best judge. If your strength will permit, and the people's desire remains strong, and there is a prospect of serving the interests of religion at both places, to my judgment, it may be best to continue at least some time longer: and if you pray fervently, and commit your way to the Lord, you will see the leadings of his providence. 'The humble he will teach his way.' Take notice of the feelings you are subject to, and the assistance you obtain at each place, and consider where the gospel is most needed and most likely to be received, for that place will yeild most satisfaction to a gracious mind. We are not so much to consult our own ease of pleasure, as to honour Him who made us, and promote his interests.

In September 1743, Benjamin Beddome was ordained to become full-time minister at Bourton. His father wrote to him about this:

I should have been glad to have attended your ordination, but cannot. I never expect to travel so far on horseback more. I hope what you are about to take upon you will be a stimulus to you to walk closer with God than ever, and make you more sincerely and simply concerned for the good of the souls of men. I desire, with my whole heart, that an unction of the Holy Spirit may be poured out upon you at the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery; and that your faith therein may be strong.

However, the Pithay church in Bristol wanted him to move there. His father wanted this as well:

Oct. 28, 1748.

My dear Bemj.

I wish from my heart the Lord would incline you to come to this city. Here you would have a comfortable income, and a better people than you take them to be. They very much desire you, and are willing to make extraordinary efforts for your comfortable support. But my principal reasons why I so much desire your removal are these:-
1. It would save a large number of people from sinking.
2. My children would be all together.
3. It would be a great comfort to your poor mother to sit under your ministry.
4. You would have less labour, an honest, good-hearted man to be your partner, much good conversation for your improvement, and an abundant harvest of souls, as well as any where else.

Benjamin Beddome refused to move, either to Bristol, or (later) to London, and remained in Bourton for the rest of his life.