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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0002-0002-0011

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1756-02-11

11 Wednesday.

Serene Weather, but somewhat cool. I am constantly forming, but never executing good resolutions. I take great Pleasure, in viewing and examining the magnificent Prospects of Nature, that lie before us in this Town. If I cast my Eyes one Way, I am entertained with the Savage and unsightly appearance of naked woods and leafless Forests. In another place a chain of broken and irregular mountains, throws my mind into a pleasing kind of astonishment. But if I turn my self round, I perceive a wide extensive Tract before me, made up of Woods, and meadows, wandring streams, and barren Planes, covered in various places by herds of grazing Cattle, and terminated by the distant View of the Town.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0002-0002-0012

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1756-02-12

12 Thurdsday.

A cool, but pleasant morning. Heard Mr. Welman [Wellman] preach the Lecture, and drank Tea, with him, at home where he made this observation, (viz.) That Dr. Mayhew was a smart man, but he embraced some doctrines, not generally approved.1
1. Jonathan Mayhew (1720–1766), Harvard 1744; D.D., Aberdeen 1749; minister of the West Church, Boston; early famous for his radical theological and political views. JA admired him as “a transcendent genius” whose character would require “a dozen volumes” to delineate; and there can be no question that Mayhew’s numerous published discourses profoundly influenced young JA. (DAB; Clinton Rossiter, “The Life and Mind of Jonathan Mayhew,” WMQ, 3d ser., 7:531–558 [Oct. 1950]; JA, Works, 10:288.) See also 17 March, below.

Docno: ADMS-01-01-02-0002-0002-0013

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1756-02-13

13 Fryday.

A pleasant morning. Saw my classmates Gardner, and Wheeler. Wheeler dined, spent the afternoon, and drank Tea with me. Supped at Major Gardiners, and ingag’d to keep School at Bristol, provided Worcester People, at their insuing March meeting, should change this into a moving School, not otherwise.1 Major Greene this Evening fell into some conversation with me about the Divinity and Satisfaction of Jesus Christ.2 All the Argument he advanced was, “that a mere creature, or finite Being, could not make Satisfaction to infinite Justice, for any Crimes,” and that “these things are very misterious.”
[In the margin:] Thus mystery is made a convenient Cover for absurdity.
1. Prior to the formation of school districts, schoolmasters were obliged to keep school for stated periods in different parts of a town (township), so that the children of all those who supported schools by taxes would have equal access to them; this arrangement was called a “moving school” (DAH, under School, { 7 } District). Extract from the Worcester Town Records, 1 March 1756: “Voted that the School[s] be Kept in the same way and manner as they were the Last year and that John Chandler Junr. and Timo. Paine Esq. and Mr. Asa Moore be a Comitte for provid[ing] a master for the Center School” (Worcester Soc. of Antiquity, Colls., 4 [1882]:23).
2. See OED under Satisfaction, 3: “Theol. The atonement made by Christ for sin, according to the view that His sufferings and merits are accepted by the Divine justice as an equivalent for the penalty due for the sins of the world.” In recent published sermons Jonathan Mayhew had called in question the divinity of Christ; see 17 March, below.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.