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A. D. 1748-1756.
Publishes Lectures on the Church Catechism-State of the
Parish —Methodism-Letters to a Lady, to Rev. S. Walker, to the Rev. John Wesley, on leaving the Church-His Preface to Mr. Walker’s Sermons.
DURING four or five years subsequent to the date of the paper inserted in the last chapter, we have no particular notice either of Mr. Adam's state of mind, or of his parochial labours. His papers have been scattered ; and it is the more to be regretted, since they were once numerous, as appears from a remark of the Rev. William Richardson, who had them in his possession, and who, when writing to the Rev. Mr. Stillingfleet, says, “ It was a long work to select his Private Thoughts, from the great mass of manuscripts."
In the year 1753, Mr. Adam published a book, entitled “ Practical Lectures on the Church Catechism.” The Address, with which he prefaces the book, serves to show the concern which he felt for the spiritual good of his people.
" TO THE PARISHIONERS OF WINTRINGHAM.
“ My dear Friends and Neighbours,
“ Having drawn up these Lectures upon the Church Catechism, chiefly for your benefit, and in discharge of my office amongst you, I now take this method of making them better known to you, and would gladly bespeak your favourable attention to them, which I have the more reason to hope for, as I can say they are published by the advice, and at the repeated request, of some persons of knowledge and experience, who judged that they might be of service to the cause of religion.
“ I commend you to the blessing of God in the reading of them; in whose hands a well-meant attempt may be to you and to others, the savour of life unto life ;' and with my hearty prayers that it may be so, I desire you to accept this public testimony of respect and concern for you; who am “Your servant in the Lord,
“ THOMAS ADAM.”
The first edition, a copy of which lies before me, was printed at Lincoln ; it is corrected by Mr. Adam's own hand, and seems to have been a gift.
Even so early as 1753, it may be presumed from the above address, that Mr. Adam's preaching had made an impression upon some of his parishioners. The ideas of morality and religion which they entertained, when he began to preach to them the unsearchable riches of Christ, must have been very
defective.* The character of the inhabitants at that time may be in some measure collected from the following circumstance, which the editor has heard from his father and others.
In the spring of the year, cock-fighting was not an unusual amusement, even on a Sunday afternoon. Mr. Adam used frequently to surprise these disorderly assemblies, which included farmers and tradesmen, as well as labourers. Foot-ball also, and other rude games, were amusements pursued on the Sabbath-day. About half a mile from the church and parsonage-house, where the principal street divides the high from the low borough, is a space called the Gate-end, notorious as a rendezvous for the idle and the profligate. This spot commanded a fine view of the Yorkshire hills, the Humber, the haven, and ferry-boats. Here a scene of riot and blasphemy, of gaming, wrestling, and fighting, was frequently exhibited. Few persons, and especially strangers, could pass without annoyance. These evils were lessened by the interference of Mr. Adam, but not wholly eradicated. Intoxication was the prevailing vice of the inhabitants. The parishioners had rights of common pasture over extensive meadows, and upland grounds for hay. On May-day the common pasture called the Marsh was stocked with horses, cows, and other cattle. On this occasion it was usual to have bull-fighting, and the worst passions of the owners were stirred up. The editor just remembers being present, on the last occasion of this sort, previous to the inclosure of the meadows. The bulls fought
* Vide Appendix.
very furiously for some time, and the contests ended with confusion and the ill-will of the owners.
Although at the time Mr. Adam published his Lectures on the Catechism, his parishioners were generally living without God in the world,” yet there is reason to conclude that some were in. fluenced by his zeal and piety. Among the rest, the editor hopes he may reckon his grandmother, the wife of John Scarbrough, Esq.
However Mr. Adam might be vexed with the sin and folly of his people, he did not spend all his care in reforming their manners. In his sermons, he chiefly struck at the root of superstition and immorality; and he was encouraged to hope, that he had not struck in vain.
After the address to his parishioners, prefixed to his Lectures on the Catechism, he says, “I have only two things to desire of the reader, by way of preface. One is, that if he be a real Christian, pressing unto the kingdom of God, he would not quarrel with me for a form of expression, or peculiarity of opinion ; differing perhaps from his, in one or more points, not of the essence of religion ; but that we may strengthen one another's hands in the great point of turning to God, according to the faith of Christ, in the way of an inward work, under the influence of the Spirit. The other is, that if he be a formalist, or outward professor only, and has never been stirred up to seek after the redemption that is in Christ, in the deep ground of his heart, he would consider seriously with himself, whether religion, according to the plain meaning of the Bible, is not conversion? and whether any kind of religion, which leaves him without any change of his tempers and affections, can be pleasing to God, or a ground of his present and future happiness.”
These Lectures exhibit a mind sincerely in earnest to forward the salvation of others. They have the merit of being short and plain, and the judicious reader cannot fail to remark the degree of thought Mr. Adam bestowed on his subject. The matter is so condensed that he could hardly have said, “ If I had had more time I should have written a shorter book.” His design in the work was to assist his readers in applying the summary of divine truth to themselves, and to turn it into heads of self-examination.
Mr. Adam remarks, “ The Church Catechism is a short and plain instruction in these several points,
I. The Christian Covenant.
V. The Christian Sacraments.” The Rev. Messrs. Stillingfleet and Milner designate them “ excellent and searching Lectures, which discover in an eminent degree the able divine and the experienced Christian,” The observations of the late Rev. William Richardson, of York, in 1802, fifty years after they were published, show his esteem for them. “ The Lectures of Mr. Adam are very animated, as are those of Mr. Walker, of Truro, on the Church Catechism. But the Rev.