Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Saturday. 29th.

Monday. 31st.

Sunday. 30th. CFA


Sunday. 30th. CFA
Sunday. 30th.

Morning clear but cool with a Northerly Wind which was not over agreeable to us, though it may have helped my father and family on their way. I tried to make a Fire in my study but the wind was in the smoky quarter and I desisted, not however until after I had been almost blinded.

Attended divine Service all day and heard in the morning Mr. Pierpont from Matthew 20. 27. “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your Servant.” The whole Sermon was upon the difference between the essentials of Christian superiority and that of the world. The latter finding its substance in display, in luxury, in passion and vice, while the former was derived from self subjection for the benefit of others. This is common place enough but still good. Mr. Frothingham preached in the Afternoon from 65. Isaiah 5. “I am holier than thou,” in other words the disposition of men to excuse to themselves their faults, by comparisons with others. This generates censoriousness, uncharitableness, and the various social sins. The Sermon was sensible.

I took two walks for exercise and on my return read Massillon’s third Sermon in Careme. “Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” It was a defence of the Christian faith against Infidelity rested upon three grounds. 1. The reasonableness of 167it, 2. the glorious character of it, 3. its necessity. An Englishman would have relied mainly upon the first point. Massillon adheres to the Catholic doctrine of implicit faith and therefore makes that the least. Among the curious parts of the Sermon is that it deplores the condition of England and argues from it the necessity of the Catholic faith to make People happy. It does not seem to have entered his head, that to allow men to differ is sometimes the surest way of making them agree. To force them to unite ensures constant division.

My family is still in a very unsettled state. The sickness of this woman is a little discouraging. Evening. Continued Mackintosh’s History, and began the Abbé Condillac’s Art d’Ecrire,1 which seems to be nothing more than showing the faults of other Writers in order to avoid them. Many of the remarks are good as general ones, and many being confined to points of French nicety in criticism, of no use to us. Read also the Spectator.


In the edition at MQA of the Oeuvres of Etienne Bonnot de Condillac (31 vols., Paris, 1803), Art d’écrire is in vol. 10.