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attending every where, and a general invitation to
The Rev. Rees David (mentioned in the account of the formation of the Lynn Church) was the intimate friend of Mr. Richards, being a native of South Wales, and having been educated with him at the Baptist Academy, Bristol. He was settled at Norwich, by ordination, May 6, 1779, when the celebrated Robert Robinson gave the charge, and Mr. Richards took a part in the services of the day. The church was at a low ebb when he came amongst them; but so successful was his ministry, that, in 1783, his place of worship was enlarged, An intelligent friend who knew him characterizes him as “a strong-minded man, of religious charity, and high political feeling!” He published, during the American war, a spirited Fast Sermon, which attracted attention; and for which the patriotic Mr. Coke, and the Whigs of Norfolk, thanked him. But his sun, alas! set at noon; for he was cut of in the midst of his days, and sent to an early grave. In the Meeting-house is a meat monument, with this inscription—
“Near to this Marble are deposited the remains of
the Rev. Rees DAvid : he died the 6th of February, 1788, in the 39th year of his age, lamented by all who knew him. He was a faithful and laborious minister of the Gospel—a pious and upright man— a true and constant friend. He was pastor of this church near ten years; which office he discharged well, and purchased to himself a good degree and great boldness in the faith. By it—he being dead— is yet spoken of . He was born March 25, 1749, near Bridge-End, Glamorganshire.” Mr. Richards and Mr. David were indeed, altogether, kindred souls. Active in the promotion of religion, and ardent in the cause of civil as well as religious liberty, they deserved well of their country. The Fast Sermon spread Mr. David's same far and widel Though some were displeased on account of its boldness; yet Dr. Caleb Evans was gratified with it. It, however, brought the preacher a handsome legacy from an old gentleman in his congregation; on which Dr. Evans, in a letter to: him, remarks, “let them laugh who win”—with his usual pleasantry. The Rev. Joseph Kinghorn (my old and much respected fellow student) succeeded Mr. David—who, left behind him a widow and two sons to imitate his. virtues, as well as revere his memory. Mr. Richards being now comfortably settled at Lynn, he continued to correspond with his tutors, especially with Dr. Caleb Evans, to the latest period of his life—entreating advice in cases of emergency, or soliciting his opinion upon some of the
controverted doctrines of Christianity. Mr. Richards was a thinking man; he saw the difficulties attached to abstruse topics of every kind, and was thankful for information. This generated a love of free inquiry, attempered by the exercise of Christian charity.
As the letter of Dr. Evans, on the subject of Free Communion, already inserted, must have imparted a pleasing idea of his talents and disposition, so the following Epistle on miscellaneous topics is too good to be suppressed.
DEAR SIR, Bristol May 8, 1784.
Very gladly, would my time admit of it, should I send the best answer in my power to your enquiries concerning a PARTICULAR and GENERAL PRovide NCE; but you too well know the nature of my situation to require an apology for not undertaking it. The best thoughts I have met with on the subject were in one of the Monthly Reviews, in which an account was given of the sentiments of two very able writers; one in favour of a particular, the other of a general providence. But after all, the dispute to me appears to be more about words than things; for what GENERAL PRovidence is there that is not made up of particular dispensations; or what PARTICULAR PROvIDENCE is there which will not imply a General one Nor can I possibly think the Jews in any respect enjoyed a more perfect dispensation of Providence than we do, though a different one, suited to the then infant state both of the church and the world. As to the essence of a miracle, I confess myself at a loss how to express my ideas, or perhaps I have no ideas to express. But it must certainly imply the production of an effect beyond the reach of mere natural power; and which, therefore, bespeaks a divine interposition. I wish I could say any thing on this subject or any other more satisfactory; but if what I have said tempts you to say more to me, I shall esteem it a peculiar felicity. L. have lately been reading BELLAMY (an American divine) on the wisdom of God in the permission of sin, and have received considerable instruction and entertainment from it; though I cannot say it has perfectly satisfied me. I very much wish you to read it, and to give me your candid thoughts upon. it. It is too great a subject for my weak mind; and yet I know of nothing which would give me equal pleasure with being able to conceive of THE GREAT SUPREME, acting, as I doubt not he really. does, in the most uniform, consistent, glorious manner throughout the whole of his dispensations towards fallen angels and fallen men! The scheme of UNIVERSAL RESTITUTION which is now making, Mr. Mullett (my brother-in-law) writes me, a rapid spread in some parts of America, does not seem to me to be a scripture doctrine; and yet without This scheme, or that of the final destruction of the wicked, and the total annihilation of all MoRAL and PENAL EVIL out of the system, is it not rather difficult to reconcile, after all, the permission of sin
with the perfect benignity of the Supreme Author of all things? You may have Bellamy at Buckland's; and when you have read it, I beg you would favour me with your freest and most candid thoughts on the subject. However poor a correspondent you may find in me, you will meet with no one that more sincerely prizes your correspondence than
The doctrine of Providence is admirably explained by the late Dr. Richard Price in his Dissertations: and the system of Universal Restoration is satisfactorily discussed by my friend Dr. T. S. Smith, of Yeovil, in his Illustrations of the Divine Government. Liberal views of a kind and righteous Providence gladden every step of our mortal pilgrimage; whilst the enlivening anticipation of UNIv ERs.AL RESTORATION illuminates and emblazons our prospects of eternity Good men will differ; but in its best moments the pious and benevolent heart must exult in the ultimate happiness of the immense and congregated family of mankind.
A few biographical particulars of Mr. Richards’ worthy Tutors shall be here communicated. They will be acceptable to a number of individuals in the religious world. The account shall, at least, have the recommendation of brevity. In THE Second Part of this Memoir there will be a sketch of their Ancestors, Mr. Richards having judged it proper to put them