Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Saturday 14th.

Monday. 16th.

Sunday. 15th. CFA


Sunday. 15th. CFA
Sunday. 15th.

The day was really lovely, much like the weather we frequently used to have at Washington as the first notice of Spring. I went to Meeting all day. Heard in the morning Dr. Lowell from Ecclesiastes 11. 9. “Rejoice, O young man in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, but know then, that God will bring thee into Judgment.” This is only one half of the verse and that so chosen as entirely to vary it’s meaning from the original intention. I have many doubts how far this is allowable or proper. The principal object of preaching is to expound the Gospel. Now this is altering it. The verse as it stands, conveys a warning to the young to abstain from such indulgences as will subject them to the justice of the Deity. Dr. Lowell made it mean an encouragement to the joyful character of youth. A doubt of the expediency of forcing a premature gravity of thought and action. The Sermon was Common place but on the whole sound. My only objection would be that he might have found a more suitable Text. Mr. Frothingham drew his Afternoon’s Discourse from Mark. 7. 37. “And they were beyond measure astonished, saying, he hath done all things well; he maketh both the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak” but I must candidly confess that further than the text, though I listened with some attention, I made nothing out of it whatever. This I consider as quite a misfortune. But I can devise no way to remedy it.

Returned home and read a Sermon of Massillon upon the Esteem of the world. Text from Matthew 23. 5. “But all their works they do for to be seen of men.” His division was three fold. 1. The crime of neglecting duty for the sake of worldly regard. 2. The folly of it from its temporary nature. 3. The incorrectness of it as the world finally respects the man more who acts independently. Perhaps there is no kind of subject which deserves so fully to be treated as this. I regret my time was so short I did not give this Sermon its full weight. In life, every man meets with occasions in which there is a conflict between his duty and his interest. Most men overlook the former, but on the whole do not gain any thing by it. Yet it requires some character to bear even the temporary alienation of one’s fellows.

In the evening I read to myself one of Barrow’s Sermons upon the duty of honouring God and the reward of it. Afterwards, resumed my 222letter to my father, but became disgusted and left it.1 Read Homer’s Iliad and the two last numbers of the Spectator.


The letter remained uncompleted. CFA to JQA, 21 Jan. (Adams Papers).