I was in Cambridge for a few days speaking for some events that took place far too late at night for me (carol services at 10pm!!). So naturally, my mind wandered from time to time while the shepherds were watching. And my gaze settled on this memorial which was just above my head. It looks like any other, and is quite wordy. But those words definitely bear close reading. For this particular plaque testified to something far greater than the usual pieties of such things.
It is in St Andrew’s Street Baptist Church, and remembers a former pastor who began in 1812: in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars and when the UK was at war with the USA (we actually burned down the White House). This also means that he almost certainly would have known the great Charles Simeon – and it is not fanciful to imagine that Simeon was one of the friends who sustained him by visits after he was struck blind…
Here is the full text:
In Memory of
The Revd THOMAS CLARKE EDMONDS M.A.
who became Pastor of the church in this place
in the year 1812.
He was a man of enlightened and chastened piety,
sound judgment, refined taste, courteous and dignified carriage,
and a truly catholic spirit.
His ministry was adorned by a blameless life, and
sustained with much ability, till severe affliction which terminated
in total blindness compelled him in the year 1831
to retire into private life.
Alleviated by the resources of a cultivated intellect and the
esteem of a large circle of friends, his last years were
spent in devout resignation to the will of God.
Looking for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ
unto eternal life he died on the 8th of July 1860.
His remains were interred in the adjoining burial ground.
That is quite a testimony of faithfulness in the face of real difficulty and struggles. Very challenging indeed.