Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Saturday. 17th.

Monday. 19th.

Sunday. 18th. CFA Sunday. 18th. CFA
Sunday. 18th.

The day was wet but warm. I was occupied in reading a little but principally in writing letters upon the matters I could not finish with 401yesterday. One to my father upon business in general,1 one to T. B. Adams forwarding his semiannual Account.2

Attended divine service all day and heard Mr. Frothingham preach, in the morning from Numbers 20. 10. “Hear now, ye rebels, must we fetch you water out of this rock?” He briefly ran over the condition and prospects of the Hebrews in the desert and alluded to their distrust and the error of Moses. He applied the moral to present times, but as usual, the manner in which it was done has escaped me. The afternoon’s discourse was from Genesis 1. 16 “he made the stars also.” Upon the character of the account of the creation, the absence of all the superstition of ignorance without the knowledge which subsequent times have unfolded. Incidentally he alluded to the prevailing notion during the last year that a Comet would strike the world, but he did not follow out the idea, nor was there any of that forcible eloquence which came immediately to my mind in connection with the same subject as explained by my father a few weeks since before Mr. Degrand and Mr. Clapp.3

Read a Sermon of Massillon upon the employment of time. Text John 7. 33 “Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me.” His division was two fold. First upon the abuse or waste of time which is criminal, because it is the price of eternity, because it is short, and because it is irrecoverable; next upon the use of time, not in worldly occupations which engross the mind, nor even exclusively in duties which are useful or honourable to the world, but in the cultivation of the virtues which Christianity inculcates as preparation for a holier state. This is exactly in accordance with my own sentiments and therefore appears to me the soundest of all his Sermons. The illusion that men make to themselves on this subject is worthy of deep reflection.

Evening, quiet at home, reading with my Wife as a lesson of French to her, Marmontel’s Tales. I afterwards continued working upon le Trepied d’Helene.

1.

(LbC, Adams Papers.) For this letter see above, entry for 15 Nov., note.

2.

To Thomas B. Adams Jr. (LbC, Adams Papers).

3.

Before the conversation with Messrs. Clapp and Degrand on 4 Nov., JQA had been “poring in the Astronomics of Manilius” and had been led by the current interest in phrenology to speculate that the “parallel between judicial astrology and phrenology might if well treated be presented in a very striking light” (JQA, Diary, 1 and 2 Nov.).