Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Saturday. 18th.

Monday. 20th.

Sunday. 19th. CFA


Sunday. 19th. CFA
Sunday. 19th.

Nothing can be worse than our Weather has been for a considerable time past. The Alternations have been so rapid from cold to warm, and from dry to wet that the systems of People must be severely tried. I attended Divine Service all day. Heard in the morning a young man by name Chapman,1 a brother of him who was my Class-mate at College. His Text from Matthew 18. 3. “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.” The subject, the purity necessary to a holy character. The Preacher did not lean to the doctrine of innate depravity for he spoke of Children as perfectly innocent and pure. Indeed it is difficult to make any thing out of the Text unless we suppose Children to be pure. Yet what becomes of the great orthodox doctrine if we do. Mr. Ripley preached in the Afternoon from Matthew 14. 23. “And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray.” He inculcated the propriety of private meditation and secret prayer, giving in the mean while something of a reproof to the prevailing fashion in these days of resorting to sympathy and public excitement for religious feeling. There was much sense in what he said, but he is dry in manner, as are nearly all of our Clergy.

I lounged over Spence’s Anecdotes of Pope an hour or two and read Massillon’s Sermon upon the small number of the elect. “And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the Prophet, and none of them was cleansed saving Naaman the Syrian.” He gives three reasons why there can be very few saved. 1. They must either be innocent, or having been sinners, truly repentant. Of the first there are scarcely any, and no great number of the other. 2. Most people are led away by the voice of the Majority, and pay implicit deference to the regulations of the world which are not compatible with their salvation. 3. The rules which are most commonly rejected, are the most necessary to that salvation. This must be the Sermon which is said to have produced so powerful an effect that all the Auditors rose at one passage. That bold one in which he imagines the presence of Christ. On the whole the Sermon is a very powerful though far from a convincing one. There is too much effect in it, too much harshness in sentiment to be agreeable to my notion of the Deity and Religion.


Quiet Evening. Began the Old Testament to my Wife which I propose to read to her two Chapters nightly. Read a good deal of Grahame’s second volume.


George Chapman, Harvard 1828, had completed his divinity studies there in 1831 ( Harvard Quinquennial Cat. ).