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THE IMPERIAL MAGAZINE.
MEMOIR OF THE REV. RICHARD HERNE SHEPHERD.
(With a Portrait.)
THERE is a strong propensity in the human mind to estimate the talents of individuals by the opportunities which they have of obtaining publicity. We are too apt to forget, that great occasions make great men in the estimation of the world, and that many who now shine with the brightest lustre in the ranks of honour, fame, and power, are as much indebted to favourable circumstances, as to their inherent genius. It cannot be denied, that men of superior talents are more numerous than illustrious stations, and when the latter are inaccessible, the former are destined—
"to blush unseen,
And waste their sweetness in the desert air."
We must not, however, forget, that
"All fame is foreign, but of true desert,
Plays round the head, but comes not near the heart."
Yet, in too many instances, the phantom is courted with eagerness, pursued with avidity, and frequently purchased at the expense of probity, virtue, and honour. Few individuals are called to shine in the conspicuous ranks of life, but the lustre which encircles integrity, in a more contracted sphere, diffuses, within the range of its operation, a splendour not less brilliant than that which accompanies the mitre, the coronet, or the diadem. Orators may command the applause of listening senates, and victorious heroes may revel for a season in the triumphs of national acclamations, but we learn, from an authority which cannot err, that they who turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever. It is in this latter character that the object of this memoir appears before us.
The Rev. RICHARD HERNE SHEPHERD was born in the county of Oxford, on the 25th of August, 1775. In this shire his ancestors had been respectable residents for more than two centuries; but through some of those changes which are incident to human affairs, his parents, while he was yet a child, removed to the metropolis, where he received his early education. For this he was pre-eminently indebted to the unwearied care and guidance of his father, who possessed a peculiar and pleasing talent for communicating knowledge to the youthful mind, and for rendering that knowledge subservient to interests which lie beyond the grave. Of the great advantages thus derived, and lon enjoyed, the son has frequently been heard to speak in terms of the most grateful recollection.
With a mind thus early imbued with the great principles of gospel truth, in the year 1790, Mr. Shepherd was providentially led to attend the ministry of the Rev. Thomas Scott, the well-known and justly venerated 2D. SERIES, NO. 8.-VOL. I,
commentator. To the advantage derived from his public teaching, was added that which resulted from private friendship, and an uninterrupted personal intercourse, until this able minister resigned the chaplaincy of the Lock Hospital, in 1803.
During these years, Mr. Shepherd having occasionally exercised in public, his talents so far attracted the attention of those who had been favoured with evidence of his ability for preaching, that, in 1804, he was solicited to prepare himself fully for the Christian ministry. To accomplish this, he was requested to enter himself as a student at Oxford, and in the most liberal and handsome manner, many Christian friends, and others to whom he was known, promised every assistance that his most sanguine wishes could desire. This, however, after much deliberation and prayer, and the advice of some whose counsels were founded on piety, age, and experience, he eventually declined, but without losing sight of the ministerial work in which he delighted to be engaged.
Casting in his lot among the dissenters, on the 14th of January, 1814, Mr. Shepherd was ordained pastor over the church and congregation assembling at Ranelagh chapel, Chelsea. Here he has remained stationary from the above period to the present time, dispensing the word of life to those who attend his ministry; and the pleasure of the Lord has prospered in his hands. His place of worship having been found too small and inconvenient for his congregation, an enlarged and commodious place was erected in 1818, in which he continues to officiate to a numerous and highly respectable congregation.
In the early periods of his ministry, Mr. Shepherd enjoyed the friendship, and kind advice, of the late Rev. John Townsend, of Rotherhithe. It was in his pulpit that he delivered his first sermon, and their mutual and friendly intercourse remained unimpaired, until death bereaved the church of that valuable minister of Christ.
In May, 1796, Mr. Shepherd was married, at St. Mary Woolnoth, by the Rev. John Newton, to Elizabeth, the youngest daughter of the late Walter Shropshire, Esq., of Hendon, and only sister to the late Mrs. Mary Cooke, wife of the late Rev. John Cooke, of Maidenhead. His family by this lady consists of two sons and three daughters.
In the literary department, Mr. Shepherd has not been idle. His first publication appeared in 1816. This was a sermon to the young. Since that time he has published a Sermon on the Lord's Day;" a Sermon on Family Worship;" "The Root of all Evil," " a Sermon on Covetousness ;" "Consolation for Mourners," which has passed through seven editions; a large collection of hymns, partly original, and partly collected. To the above may be added, several minor productions, which have appeared in various periodicals, especially the Evangelical Magazine, since the year 1798, under the signature of " S—, Westminster."
But it was not, either by the pulpit or the press, that Mr. Shepherd's time has been exclusively engrossed. During many years he has been a director of the London Missionary Society; and in the Home Missionary Society he has taken a lively interest from its first formation in 1819. He also fills the important and useful office of secretary to the London Society, established in 1765, for the benefit of widows.
Having been for many years greatly interested in the communication and advancement of knowledge, Mr. Shepherd readily entered into the plan for establishing, in and near the metropolis, proprietary grammar schools, for the education of youth in the best possible manner, at the least expense. Of the Western Grammar School, established at Brompton in 1828, he
MEMOIR OF THE REV. RICHARD HERNE SHEPHERD.
was one of the first promoters and directors; and to a more recent institution, on the same plan, he has also lent his aid. It is to his unwearied and persevering exertions, that the Pimlico Grammar School owes its establishment. During its infant state, he watched over its progress and vicissitudes with great anxiety and solicitude, and, cherishing it to maturity, he has lived to see his exertions crowned with pleasing success. On the 30th of September, 1830, he had the gratification of beholding its opening session, under auspicious indications of permanent utility.
Mr. Shepherd, by thus laying himself out for public good, in the formation and support of institutions, which are a honour to the country, and a blessing to all who come within the range of their atmosphere, is gathering laurels which will never fade. To such as are captivated with the tinsel of worldly greatness, his deeds may impart no lustre, but future generations will rise up, and pronounce a blessing on these benefactors of the human race. The songs of Zion will retain their melody, when the sound of the cannon can no more be heard; and to a certain portion of this immortality, the following hymn, extracted from his volume, and with which we shall conclude this memoir, will shew that Mr. Shepherd has an indisputable title.