Adams, William(4), Dd, Lld
Adams, William.(4), D.D., LL.D., a Presbyterian minister, was born at Colchester, Conn., Jan. 25, 1807. He received his early education from his father, John Adams, LL.D., the eminent. teacher and philanthropist, president of Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass. It was here the son laid the foundation of that accurate and extensive scholarship in ancient and modern learning which enriched his life and public. labors. He graduated at Yale College in 1827. He pursued his theological studies at Andover Seminary, and was licensed to preach in Boston in 1830, and ordained and installed pastor of the Congregational Church in Brighton, Mass., where he remained for three years; and, after preaching a short time in Pearl Street, New York, he accepted a call from the Central Presbyterian Church in Broome. Street, New York, where he was installed in 1834. His whole subsequent life was spent in that city; and his name and influence have been happily identified with its best interests, religious, civil, and social, for nearly half a century. In 1853 the Madison Square Presbyterian Church was organized; and a large and beautiful building was erected on the eastern side of the square. Of this church he became pastor.
Dr. Adams stood at the head of the profession in the denomination which he distinguished by his scholarship, his varied accomplishments, his purity and dignity: of life and manners. In the. division which took place in the Presbyterian Church, Dr. Adams became identified with the New-school branch. In May, 1852, he was elected moderator of the Assembly, which was held in Washington, D. C. When the movement was made to effect a reunion of the two severed branches, he was one of the hearty promoters of the same, and was .made chairman of the Committee of Conference on the part of the New-school Assembly appointed in 1866; and continued to act in that capacity until the reunion was consummated. At the meetings of the two assemblies in .New York in 1869, when the preliminaries were definitely arranged, he appeared before the Old-school Assembly in the Brick Church, to present the cordial greetings of the Assembly with which he was connected. He was often designated to represent the clergy on occasions of great responsibility, and always proved himself equal to the occasion. At the Evangelical Alliance of 1873 held in New York, Dr. Adams was naturally and without question selected as the most suitable man to deliver, in the name of the American Alliance, the address of. welcome to the distinguished theologians, professors, preachers, and laymen from ail other lands.;
In the fall of 1873 Dr. Adams was elected president of the Union Theological Seminary and professor of sacred rhetoric. Twice before he had been elected to the same position, but had declined. He was eminently qualified for the position by his extensive and varied attainments as a scholar, combined with his rare elocutionary gifts as a speaker. The ministerial labor of' Dr. Adams was by no means the extent and measure of his work. He was identified with all the benevolent schemes of the Church,' and devoted much of his time to their practical working. He was a frequent contributor to religious and secular journals, and an industrious writer otherwise. Besides sermons, addresses, magazine articles, etc., he published in 1850, The Three Gardens, Eden, Gethsemane, and Paradise:- -Spirit of Hebrew Poetry, with Biographical Introduction Thanksgiving Memories of the Day, and Helps to the Habit :-Conversations of Jesus Christ with Representative Men.. His Lecture on the Catacombs of Rome, delivered to a crowded audience in Association Hall, was one of the most interesting ever given to a New York audience. He was the first to read and interpret correctly the inscriptions on the monuments in the Catacombs. 'He died at Orange Mountain, N. J., Aug. 31, 1880.
Dr. Adams was a very successful teacher. He had an old department, into which little that was new could be introduced; but he treated it in a wonderfully fresh way. He delivered lectures regularly to the senior class, and at first also to the junior class. But his strength was in his method of giving private instruction to all of the students. It was his custom to call some one of them to him every day, and, taking him into the chapel, have him go through the whole service. At the conclusion of these exercises, he would criticise the efforts of the student kindly but severely.
Dr. Adams was remarkable for his fine personal appearance.. He had a commanding figure, a greatful, dignified presence, and a courtly address. When a young man he was six feet high, and possessed a light, elastic step. His great energy and indefatigable industry kept him constantly employed at some task His cheerful disposition and conversational powers made him an amiable companion. He had a-large acquaintance with men prominent in all of the professions in this country and Europe. See N. Y. Observer, Sept. 2; N. Y. Tribune, Sept. 1, 1880; Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v. (W. P. S.)