The day was clear but quite cool. I attended divine service and heard Mr. E. Q. Sewall preach two sensible, tolerably well written Sermons. One from 6. Matthew 6. the other text I did not catch, but the discourse was far the best. It was upon the exercise of religion producing joy.1 I can understand this better than the melancholy, discouraging tones which Massillon is so fond of indulging. To be innocent is surely to be happy, the more a man makes himself innocent by the conscientious discharge of all his duties, the more happy he ought to be. Sin is misery, whereas Massillon’s doctrine reverses the whole process and makes man miserable in proportion as he becomes more religious, and happy as he brings his mind to indifference. What views of the Creator!
Massillon’s Sermon for today was in honor of St. Benedict the ascetic. Hebrews 11.7. “By faith, Noah being named of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house, by the which he condemned the world.” Benedict by the light of faith discovered the vanity of the hopes and security of the world. 2. He condemned the vacillation and despair of man by his activity in securing the means of eternal safety. And all this how, because he went into the forest and lived like a brute, because he deprived himself of God’s best gifts for fear he might abuse them, because he set an example which deprived the world of thousands of useful beings. I do not comprehend such religion. The Apostles did not do so. The Saviour set no such example. Evening quietly at home.
Edmund Quincy Sewall (Harvard 1815) was Congregational minister of Scituate. JQA noted of his performance, “His voice is not good and his articulation is indistinct; but the composition of his Sermons is very good, and his afternoon discourse was occasionally pathetic. Religious sentimentalism is the most common characteristic of the writings of the young Unitarian Sons of Harvard University.” (Diary, 23 June 1833.)