Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Saturday. 3d. CFA Saturday. 3d. CFA
Saturday. 3d.

Fine day. I went to the Office as usual and was occupied in making up Accounts after which I finished the sixth volume of Gibbon which closes the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in the West. A work in itself of immense labour and erudition. I admire it upon the whole. The disposition of the historian seems to have been warped by a sense of real injury done to virtue through the Agency of hypocrisy and fanaticism. He goes to one extreme from a dislike of the other. Attended a meeting of the Bar at one o’clock, and from thence went to the Athenaeum, so that I did not walk today.

Afternoon. Finished the Georgics and the story of Aristaeus which 253is considered as the greatest ornament. They are models for that species of composition, a sign of which is that all subsequent times have only imitated them.1 Quiet Evening at home. Read part of Goëthe’s Memoirs to my Wife.2

1.

At the conclusion of the section devoted to the Georgics in the London, 1824, edition of Virgil’s Opera at MQA, CFA has written, “These books have never been equalled.”

2.

An English translation was published at New York in 1824.

Sunday. 4th. CFA Sunday. 4th. CFA
Sunday. 4th.

This was another fine day though a little more cool. I attended divine service all day and heard Mr. Frothingham’s Sermon in the morning from 2. Corinthians 5. 15. “That he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again.” It was upon that particular feature of the Christian doctrine which manifests an abandonment of self for the sake of others. One remark of his I was particularly struck with, that if we were to judge of the mass of men by the rigid justice of this Rule, we should find exceedingly few who lived up either to the letter or the spirit of it. Selfishness is the characteristic of the race. But I lost the trace of the discourse generally for which I am the more sorry as it was a good one. The text of the Afternoon has also escaped me though its subject was the character of the Deity as a Judge, the dispensation of rewards and punishments here and hereafter. He considered it probable that this was much more equally done even in this life than our limited faculties can form an idea of, but he did not deny that there were still inequalities which could only be explained consistently with our idea of the Deity, by a state of compensation in future.

On returning home I read Massillon though superficially so that I was obliged to read him at night again. Matthew 15. 8. “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” He considered the nature of the true worship of God. Dividing the subject into two parts. First, the neglect of all formal worship and the reasons assigned for so doing. He considered these to be what in fact they most often are mere excuses for neglect of all religion. He thought some attention to external devotion beneficial on various accounts, the strongest of which is the effect upon other and weaker members. But second he took up the idea that attention to form was very injurious when it was made to take the place of real piety, when as in the text the lips speak but the heart is hard. A very good Sermon.

254

I felt depressed as the Child seemed unwell. Mr. Blake called and spent a couple of hours very pleasantly.