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PART I. A good Minister of C/trist. Paul.
Biography is a species of writing which administers to our instruction and entertainment. It is pleasing to behold the gradual developement of the mind—to mark the formation of virtuous habits, and to contemplate the human character refined, as well as sublimated, by the exercises of an enlightened piety. Of Jesus himself, it is recorded, that he increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man! As history records the intrigues of statesmen, the exploits of warriors, and the progress of nations towards maturity—so Biography holds up to imitation, whatever is praiseworthy in the conduct of man—involving either the happiness of the individual or conducing to the welfare of the community. It is indeed an intellectual and moral picture, which, portrayed with its apportioned light and shade, yields a fascinating variety. It cannot fail to interest and benefit mankind.
Mr. William Richards was born 1749, in the parish of Penrhydd, in the vicinity of Haverford West, Pembrokeshire, South Wales. His ancestors ranked among the ejected ministers of the principality. Mr. Job Orton having remarked, that "wise and good men lay little stress on any hereditary honours but those which arise from the piety and usefulness of their ancestors"—assures us, that Doddridge "thought it a great honour to be descended from those suffering servants of Christ who had made sacrifices to conscience and liberty." Such was the feeling of my deceased friend.—Hence his ardent zeal, as well as his undeviating efforts, in the promotion of virtue and piety.
The Father of the subject of this Memoir, Mr. Henry Richards, was a respectable farmer, of the Particular Baptist persuasion. Removing when his son was only nine years of age, he settled near St. Clears, in Carmarthenshire. Some ministers of his denomination were invited to preach in his house; and in course of time he secured a plot of ground for the erection of a place of worship. He enclosed it and planted it with trees, devoting part to the interment of the dead. But before the foundation-stone was laid, the good man sickened and died. He was, alas, the first inhabitant of this burying-ground! In less than a month a beloved daughter was laid to moulder by his side. Thus awfully rapid both the father and •sister of my deceased friend, were called out of time into eternity!
This circumstance imparted to the Son a serious thoughtful turn of mind. But previous to this period, he discovered a thirst for knowledge which attracted attention. It so happened, that, at twelve years of age, he had been only a year at school, and was then removed home. Here he continued without any instruction; but his application was unabated. Hearing that he was not again to be sent to school, the son felt much distressed. But on exclaiming to his father, "you will let me get all the knowledge I can at home," he was cheered by the parental reply—" Surely, My Boy; and you shall receive every assistance from me for that purpose." Though one year's education only was granted him, yet his thirst for information of every kind was inextinguishable. His example shows how much industry will effect, and perseverance accomplish—a lesson of no mean value to The Rising GeNeration. By the time he was of age he was deemed a prodigy of knowledge; for he was not only complete master of his Bible, but was acquainted with the best authors in the English language. None of his youthful companions were better versed in civil and ecclesiastical history! Both the English and Welsh languages had been the subject of his particular attention. An eminent printer at Carmarthen, deemed him an admirable critic in the CambroBritish tongue. His seriousness also kept pace with his knowledge. Prior to his father's decease, being baptized, by immersion, on his profession of
faith in the divine mission of Christ, he became a member of the Church meeting at Rhydwillim, in the county of Carmarthen. I need not add that he was an ornament to his Christian profession.
After his father's death, in the year 1769, the intended Meeting House was erected—a small, but neat place. Its name was Salem. In this affair Mr. Richards was particularly active, spending much of his time and property in its completion. Soon, however, the individuals constituting the church, knowing the talents and piety of Mr. Richards, invited him to exercise his gifts, which he did with acceptance. This naturally led him on by degrees, and terminated in his undertaking the Christian ministry. It was impossible that such a young man should remain in obscurity. The ministers around him were partial to his juvenile efforts, devoted to the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed from early youth up to manhood there was a gradual disclosure of intellect, mingled with an unaffected humility and modesty. The removal of his father, and other disastrous events, seem only to have caused his piety to strike deeper root. In him submission to the will of Heaven, on every occasion, produced the peaceable fruits of righteousness.
His venerable Mother survived for many years. Her letters in the Welsh language, addressed to him at the academy at Bristol, to which he afterwards went, are expressive of the tenderest affection; whilst, in return, he never failed to abound towards her in all the exercises of filial piety. In several epistles which have fallen into my hands, I have