Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

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

A high Easterly gale all night followed by a pretty heavy fall of snow today. My Wife now gains steadily and the baby improves so that I feel grateful, deeply grateful to the divine being for having once more carried her through the dangers of her condition. Do I endeavour to make myself better for all the manifestation of blessings to me and mine? I trust I do but fear not.

Attended divine service and heard Mr. Ellis, a youngish man from Job, 26. 14. “Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?” A very calm, well reasoned discourse upon the difficulty made by sceptics in regard to matters which they cannot satisfactorily explain. The inattention to the order of providence produces this by which for certain purposes we are left to a very imperfect consciousness of the existence of a Deity. Yet that it exists is little to be doubted, and that it’s power is inestimable can hardly be questioned.

In the afternoon, discourse upon that passage in James 2. 10. “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” An argument in support of works combined with faith against the notions of the Jews—an argument to prove that the neglect or violation of one rule must be followed by the same punishment morally speaking that in law falls upon the committer of a single crime. He is treated as if he had committed all.

A sermon of Buckminster upon faith from Hebrews 11. 1. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” After a definition he considers in this Sermon the objects of faith or enumerates the things not seen a conviction of which must be derived from faith alone. These may be past events which we believe have happened through the testimony of others, or may be future promises as yet not realized. But it seems to me this is not quite all, for faith may be the result of the simple operations of the mind, and I may be as thoroughly convinced of the existence of a beneficent Deity from the material world as from an account of a special revelation. The senses supply nothing but the facts, and reasoning supplies an ingenious argument, but neither of these yield certainty—faith must supply that. Evening at home. I sit now until nine with Abby, after which Ferguson.

Monday 19th. CFA Monday 19th. CFA
Monday 19th.

The morning cloudy and moist but it cleared and the streets very soon presented great difficulties in walking. I went to the Office where 10I spent my time rather idly. Read a little of Sismondi. I have come to that part of his book which is now most interesting, that which relates to money. And in this, many of his views strike me as sound. Call from a Mr. Stearns who is now Tenant of the House at the corner of the Common. Application to renew the Lease. Agreed to call tomorrow.

Home. Sophocles. Read Brumoy’s account of the play of Antigone, with his occasional translations and references to a piece on the same subject by Rotrou long since obsolete. Afternoon coins. In the evening I now sit until nine with my Wife and try to amuse her with reading &c. Afterwards I read Potter’s translation of the Oedipus Coloneus.1

1.

A copy of The Tragedies of Sophocles, transl. Robert Potter, Oxford, 1819, is in MQA.