Fine day. I passed the early part of the morning in reading a Sermon of Massillon upon the resurrection. Romans 4. 25 “Who was delivered for our offences and was raised again for our justification.” He considers this event as furnishing, 1. the motive. 2. the means for perseverance in grace. In the first point I agree with his reasoning. In the second I am hardly so willing. One position of his strikes me painfully. He describes the condition of Christians as utterly miserable if the truth of Revelation is not real. That is to say, that the privation of all the sensual gratification the world affords is a serious and tremendous evil unless it is compensated by a state of future happiness. I think the philosophy of many of the ancient heathen sects is superior to this, and the practical effect of the doctrine is far worse than the theory. That a future existence operates as a powerful superinducing motive to good conduct is certain, but without it, it is by no means true that a state of sensual indulgence would be a state of happiness. Virtue in many respects is its own reward. And it should always in public be so inculcated. For the passions are quite strong enough to require every possible obstacle to their indulgence.
We went to Quincy at eleven o’clock—My Wife and I. Found my father quietly settled at home. Dined with him, and in the Afternoon I attended Divine Service with him. Mr. Whitney preached upon Reform. Text Jeremiah 13. 23. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots, then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” Sermon commonplace enough. The old Church is in serious peril on account of the pressure of the debt and the incompetency of Mr. Whitney to sustain himself.1 It is impossible to tell what the 78result is to be. Returned to the house, took tea and then back to Boston. The Country looks cheerless yet. W. G. Brooks passed half an hour with us.
Rev. Peter Whitney was in his thirty-third year as minister of the First Church in Quincy (vol. 1:157). Both because of his age and as a result of recent over-expenditure by the parish, a special committee of inquiry had been recently constituted with JQA as its chairman (JQA, Diary, 22 April and following entries).