John Rippon tells the remarkable story of a preaching occasion when Benjamin Beddome had forgotten what he was to preach on. Rippon begins:
“Amongst the biographical traits given of this respectable minister in our obituary of January 1796, we said:
Sermonizing was so much his forte, that at length when knowledge had received maturity from years, and composition was familiarized by habit; he has been known, with a wonderful facility of the moment, to sketch his picture at the foot of the pulpit stairs, to colour it as he was ascending, and, without turning his eyes from the canvas, in the same hour, to give it all the finish of a master. One instance of this will long be remembered, which happened at a minister’s meeting at Fairford, in Gloucestershire. After public service began, his natural timidity, it seems, overcame his recollection,—His text and his discourse, (for he did not preach by notes,) had left him; and in the way from the pew to the pulpit, he leaned his head over the shoulder of Rev. Mr. Davis, pastor of the place, and said, ‘Brother Davis, what must I preach from?’ Mr. Davis, thinking he could not be at a loss, answered, ‘Ask no foolish questions.’ This became the occasion of the following discourse, for Mr. Beddome turned immediately to the text,—
Titus 3:9. Avoid foolish questions."