« PreviousContinue »
but, at the same time, they find themselves not a little embarrassed in the execution, through want of a proper supply of materials.”
“ Mr. Adam lived to such an age, as to survive almost all his contemporaries, and left little or nothing on the subject himself, which may serve to direct or assist us in such an undertaking. It is hoped therefore that the public will indulge us with that candour, which the circumstances in which we stand so evidently call for.”
“ It may not be improper to apprise our readers, that they are not to look for anything surprising or uncommon in this sketch. Our professed design is utility, not admiration. The account indeed of a person, who lived, like Mr. Adam, utterly secluded from the public, and shut up in a country village, cannot be supposed to yield much variety, or furnish those striking incidents which are so pleasing in biography, and give life and vigor to the whole. But if the old adage be true,
Bene vixit, qui bene latuit,' few will produce fairer pretensions to the character than the subject of the following pages.
L I F E, &c.
His Parentage-Birth-and Education.
THE Rev. Thomas Adam, was born at Leeds, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, on the 25th day of February, 1701 ; his father, Mr. Henry Adam, was of the profession of the law, and town clerk of that corporation. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Jasper Bligthman, Esq., recorder of Leeds, whose mother, Elizabeth, was one of the twenty children of Sir John Stanhope, which he had, together with two others, still-born, before either he or his lady was forty years of age. Mr. Henry Adam had six children, Jasper, Henry, Thomas, Katherine, Elizabeth, and Sibyl.
Thomas, the subject of this Memoir, was the third and youngest son.
The earliest notice which is preserved of him, is, that he was first put to the public grammar school in Leeds, the head master of which at that time, was the pious and worthy Mr. Thomas Barnard, author of the Life and Character of Lady Elizabeth Hastings. Mr. Adam afterwards went to the grammar school at Wakefield, and, about the usual time of life, entered Christ's College, Cambridge. After a residence there of about two years, he removed to Hart Hall, afterwards Hertford College, and since known by the name of Magdalen Hall, in Oxford. He took the degree of bachelor of arts only, probably on the principle of economy; as he had imbibed the doctrine of the indefensible nature of pluralities from the Rev. Dr. Richard Newton, the master of Hart Hall, who wrote a treatise against pluralities and non-residence. What his conduct and behaviour were during his residence at Oxford, as also his literary attainments, may be gathered from the high recommendation given of him by the Rev. Dr. Newton to the Bishop of Lincoln, which is alluded to in the sequel.
A. D. 1723-1748.
He obtains the living of Wintringham-refuses to seek further
preferment—He is noticed by his Diocesan-His marriage; birth and death of his only child-His change of views on the subject of religion-Deep exercises of his mind—The Mystics-Luther's works—Reflections on these events--A prayer.
By the interest of his uncle, a gentleman of eminence in the profession of the law, who had been of singular service to the family of the patron of Wintringham, in Lincolnshire, Mr. Adam was presented, in 1724, to the living, of which he was rector fiftyeight years. A friend held it for him about a year, till he was of age to take possession of it himself.
From the time of his accepting the rectory of Wintringham, he seems to have resolved neither to solicit nor accept any other preferment. His uncle and other friends were disposed to interest themselves on his behalf, and to foster in his mind the worldly prospects of rising in his profession. Such advisers might be expected to excite his ambition; still, however, his strong objections to increase his means of expenditure by holding additional preferment remained unshaken, and throughout his whole
life he endeavoured to cultivate moderation without parsimony.
Mr. Adam's uncle, who was intent upon procuring advancement for his promising nephew, urged him greatly to visit him in London, where he lived, and, as he termed it, to show himself, concluding this to be the most likely way to recommend him to the favour of those who were able to advance him in the world. When Mr. Adam understood that his uncle's design in inviting him to London was to put him in the way of obtaining further preferment, he thought it his duty to decline the invitation in as civil a manner as he was able, saying, “ that it was incumbent
him to be with his flock at Wintringham.” This answer gave great offence to his uncle, as it frustrated all his preconcerted schemes for promoting his nephew's further advancement in the church.
When Dr. Thomas was promoted to the see of Lincoln, it was seen that Mr. Adam's good behaviour and proficiency in learning at the University had procured for him the esteem of his superiors there, who strongly recommended him to the Bishop's notice, as a clergyman whom he would find deserving his regard. It is probable, that from this recommendation, he was appointed to preach before his lordship, at his primary visitation at Gainsborough.
At that time he seems not to have had the same clear ideas of the doctrine of justification by faith, which he afterwards attained, and of which he became an able advocate. Yet even so early as the period to which we have alluded, there was a display of