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The providence of God is indeed mysterious. When these friends parted, Mr. Walker's earthly race was near its close, while that of Mr. Adam was to continue nearly a quarter of a century, before he should finish his testimony. Mr. Walker died Sunday, July 19th, 1761, and Mr. Adam lived till March 31st, 1784.
During the years 1757, 8, and 9, Mr. Adam was writing, and delivering, in the form of lectures to his parishioners, annotations on the Gospels of St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John. He had done the same with the Gospel of St. Matthew, and on that Gospel he afterwards composed lectures, sixty-six in number, with a prayer to each. These Lectures were published, together with the Exposition, by the editors of his posthumous works, and indeed make up nearly two of the three volumes, in which they were comprised. The reason of uniting the Exposition with the Lectures on St. Matthew is given in a note by the editors. "It is not quite clear to the editors, whether his intention was to publish the Exposition and the Lectures together, or separately." The editors seem to have mistaken Mr. Adam's meaning, and therefore they put them together. They were probably afraid of burdening the public with four or five posthumous volumes, otherwise, from Mr. Adam's sermons, a valuable volume or two might have been selected. They would have done well, also, if they had inserted the whole text of the English version, instead of fragments of verses. This is a serious omission, probably arising from a fear of increasing the price of the work. Mr. Adam intended the whole text of
each paragraph to be read at the time the annotation is considered. In the first sentence of his Preliminary Lecture, he says, "I told you last Sunday that I intended, with God's help, to read St. Matthew's Gospel with you; and I then desired bring your bibles, to look on them as I read and expound."
Mr. Adam's Annotations on the Gospel of St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John, are in manuscript in his own hand-writing, in the possession of the Rev. John Storry, A. M., vicar of Great Tey, Essex; through whose kindness the editor has been permitted to copy the manuscript, and to publish them. In this work the editor is engaged; and he hopes he shall be able to give the Annotations now in inanuscript, and the Exposition of St. Matthew, and that on the Romans, in a form equally suited to meet the convenience of the divine in his study, the Christian in his closet, and the heads of families in their daily worship.
It is to be regretted that Mr. Adam did not publish his Annotations on the Gospels during his life. There is little doubt but that the present Bishop of Calcutta would have quoted Mr. Adam on the Gospels, along with Quesnell and Bishop Hall, with the same notes of approbation. Probably a severe domestic trial which Mr. Adam suffered in the illness and death of his wife, prevented him from publishing his Annotations at the time he finished those on the Gospel of St. John. He also soon lost his friend, the Rev. S. Walker, of Truro, in 1761, as we have noticed. He, no doubt, would have urged Mr. Adam to publish them, as he had
already endeavoured to induce him to print a volume of sermons.
The design of publishing them was not wholly laid aside in January, 1763, as we learn from an extract of a letter to the Rev. G. Burnett, from Mr. Adam, of that date. "Methinks I am sorry that my specimen should make Mr. Newton (afterward the Rev. John Newton, rector of St. Mary Woolnoth) give over his design, especially as I do not know when mine will take effect. I verily believe his will be better executed; and you are not to look upon my saying this as a strain of modesty. My own Annotations have been out of my hands so long, that I hardly know what they are; one thing I am sure of, they will need much revisal. I took the liberty to send his paper on Matthew, the first chapter, to Lord Dartmouth."
Mr. Adam seems to have taken occasion to introduce Mr. Newton to the notice of Lord Dartmouth. This introduction seems the more probable from the date of Mr. Newton's ordination, about eighteen months after, on June 14th, 1764. And no doubt the obstacles which had hitherto prevented Mr. Newton from obtaining ordination in another diocese, were overruled in that of Lincoln through the influence of Lord Dartmouth, Archdeacon Basset, and the good offices of Mr. Adam, who was forward to introduce him to the notice of Lord Dartmouth.
We are not informed how early John Thornton, Esq., became intimate with Mr. Adam. It is not improbable that Mr. Adam was the means of bringing about the connexion also between Mr. Newton
and that gentleman. The preceding circumstances show the great importance of the union of learning, character, and sober piety, in the same person. Mr. Adam possessed these in an eminent degree, and the influence he derived from them, he used to the utmost of his power for promoting the gospel of Christ in the world.
The reader will pardon this digression, which has arisen from the editor's design to finish what related to Mr. Adam's Annotations; and to show how they were incidentally an occasion of introducing Mr. Newton into the ministry of the Church of England. The editor feels interested in this particular, from having lived many years near to Olney, which has shared in the labours of Mr. Newton.
The next letter, which we have from Mr. Adam, is addressed to the Rev. G. Burnett, who had recently been ordained to the curacy of Huddersfield, Yorkshire, during the incumbency of the late Rev. H. Venn; and to whom the Christian world is indebted in many particulars.
"Wintringham, June 27th, 1760.
"I am letters in your debt, and should certainly have written before now if I had not expected you here every week. My wife too has been desiring it with great good will, and some degree of impatience. Alas! she is in a very weak condition, and I fear sinking under the infirmities of a broken constitution. God be gracious to her! Help us with your prayers. I hope she knows her refuge, and flies to it. Nothing in life or death for strong consolation
like our great high-priest, and his atonement for sinners. It is very mortifying to nature to be saved as the thief upon the cross was; but there is no other way, and in our best estate we are brands plucked out of the fire. Settle yourself and your hearers upon this ground. If our good works follow us, we are beholden to faith for them; and to faith, first and last, for our whole salvation. I hear you are labouring hard, in conjunction with Mr. Venn, to whom I desire my best respects. Go on, and the blessing of God go along with you. Keep a watchful eye on the risings of pride. It will beset you on all occasions, and success or disappointment, evil report or good report, will add fuel to it.
"I received a dozen franks from Lord Dartmouth for the use of Mr. Venn. I suppose his work goes on. Though it is a delicate affair, his light and spirit will carry him through.
The Whole Duty of Man,' is in possession of the general esteem, and in many hands; but for that very reason the insufficiency of it, as not answering to the title, should be laid open. To do justice to it, it is perhaps the completest system of Christian ethics we have. I never read a section of it, without being convinced by it of sin; and in that view, as well as a directory to those who are aiming at perfection under Christ, it is of great use, and cannot be too much commended. The apology commonly made for its defects, in not laying the foundation of Christian doctrine, is, that it was written at a time when faith was disgraced by practice. Ever since, things have been wheeling about to the other extreme; and there has long been a necessity of insisting on the