Samuel Merrill Woodbridge (1819–1905) was an American clergyman, theologian, author, and college professor. A graduate of New York University and the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, Woodbridge served several congregations in New York and New Jersey for sixteen years as a minister in the Reformed Church in America. His was the eleventh generation in a large family of English and American clergymen dating back to the late fifteenth century. After accepting a pastoral call in New Brunswick, New Jersey, he was appointed professor of ecclesiastical history and church government at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, where he taught for 44 years. He also taught for seven years as professor of "metaphysics and philosophy of the human mind" at Rutgers College (now Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey). Woodbridge later led the New Brunswick seminary as Dean and President of the Faculty from 1883 to 1901—both positions were equivalent to a seminary president. He was the author of three books and several published sermons and addresses covering various aspects of Christian faith, theology, church history and gov Samuel Merrill Woodbridge was born 5 April 1819 in Greenfield, Massachusetts. He was the third of six children born to the Rev. Sylvester Woodbridge, D.D. (1790–1863) and Elizabeth Gould (died in 1851).:p.140 According to a genealogical chart published in Munsey's Magazine in 1907, Woodbridge was in the eleventh generation of a family of clergymen dating back to the late 15th century. The earliest clergyman in this ancestral line, the Rev. John Woodbridge (born in 1493), was a follower of John Wycliffe. Woodbridge attended New York University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) degree in 1838. As an undergraduate student, Woodbridge was a member of the university's secretive, all-male Eucleian Society and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He was awarded a Master of Arts (A.M.) from the New Brunswick Theological Seminary in 1841 and was installed as a minister by the Reformed Church's Classis of New York, a governing body overseeing churches within the region.:p.4 At this time, his alma mater, New York University, promoted his bachelors degree to a Master of Arts. After his graduation from seminary, he served as pastor to congregations in South Brooklyn (1841–49), at the Second Reformed Church in Coxsackie, New York (1849–52), and at the Second Reformed Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey (1852–57). In December 1857, Woodbridge was appointed to the faculty of two schools in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He would serve 44 years as a professor of ecclesiastical history and church government at New Brunswick Theological Seminary (from 1857 to 1901) and for seven years as a professor of "Metaphysics and Philosophy of the Human Mind" at Rutgers College (from 1857 to 1864).:pp.40,397[a] Both schools were then affiliated with the Protestant Dutch Reformed faith.[b] He was appointed by the Synod to a vacancy in both professorates caused by the death of the Rev. John Ludlow, D.D. (1793–1857), on 8 September 1857.:p.128 During his tenure at the seminary, Woodbridge also provided instruction in the areas of pastoral, didactic and polemic theology—often when there were vacancies amongst the faculty.:pp.414–415
Emeritus professor Woodbridge (seated, center, with white beard and robes) with the seminary's faculty, circa 1904 In 1883, the church's General Synod decided that the "oldest professor in service in the Theological Seminary at New Brunswick be styled Dean of the Seminary, and to him shall be entrusted the discipline of the Institution, according to such regulations as may be agreed upon by the Faculty.":p.134 Woodbridge led the seminary as its first Dean of the Seminary, and subsequently as President of the Faculty until his retirement in 1901. Both positions were predecessors to the present seminary president. During his career, Woodbridge...
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