Clear and wintry. Read Smollett’s Independence, an ode the first Stanza of which is superior to the rest. I do not admire the genealogy he traces, as if Independence was a bastard, but many of the lines are noble, and there is vigour throughout.1
Attended divine service all day. Mr. Frothingham preached. Matthew 8. 29. “What have we to do with thee? Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” The demoniacs and the swine, an allusion to the various explanations of the text and an examination of the idea prevailing among men that they were to be called before the time. I was inattentive and this explanation is lame. Habakkuk. 2. 2. “And the Lord answered me and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon the tables that he may run that readeth it.” The necessity of simplicity in matters of concernment to men. The doctrines taught by the Bible are all simple, but the ingenuity of man has perpetually attached theories to them which obscure and mystify and do injury. Theology has sprung from these theories. Theology is not Religion—As an instance the doctrine of the Atonement from the simple story of the passion of Christ.
I afterwards read Massillon. Revelations 14. 13. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.” The death of the Sinner and that of the just man. Contrast forcibly made. And some fine points. But the thing is rather too much laboured. And after all, the one idea is a simple one. I did little besides. Judge Hall dropped in for half an hour in the evening.2 Political news not very important. Finished the extracts from Wieland and wrote a letter to my Mother.
An earlier reading was recorded with similar pleasure (vol. 1:160–161).
Judge Joseph Hall was a friend of JQA and an Antimason (vol. 2:154). Of his visit CFA wrote to his mother, “Judge Hall has been putting Abby to sleep until she feels totally unable to do any thing but lounge on the Sofa” (27 Jan., Adams Papers).