Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Saturday. 24th.

Monday. 26th.

Sunday. 25th. CFA


Sunday. 25th. CFA
Sunday. 25th.

Another fine day. Attended Divine Service and heard Mr. Bulfinch1 preach Sermon taken from 2. Timothy 4. 6, 7, 8. “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” It was upon the truth of the Christian Religion, drawn from the character of Paul. The substance of the whole, a repetition of the old argument, that it was more difficult to disbelieve the evidence of his disinterestedness, than to assume it. A pretty ordinary production, I thought.

Mr. Frothingham’s Sermon in the Afternoon was from 2. Timothy 3. 15. “That from a child thou hast known the Scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation.” This of course he said referred to the Old Testament. He proceeded to illustrate the value of the read-268ing the Bible as a whole. He considered it beneficial in three points of view. 1. As it expresses more forcibly the divine Commandments 2. As it proposes bright examples for imitation 3. As it sets forth a clear promise of reward in a future state. A sensible Sermon.

I read Massillon in the Afternoon. The Text cited was from 4 John 5 “Then cometh he to a City of Samaria which is called Sychar,” but the subject in fact extended to the whole story of the Samaritan Woman. From her replies to the various inquiries of Jesus, the Preacher draws several moral reflections. He considers the obstacles to the operation of divine grace to be fairly represented by them. They form excuses of these kinds. 1. Excuses of condition. That is that Persons are not in a state fit for grace, as the Samaritan Woman pleaded her being of a different Community. 2. Excuses of difficulty or want of means as she objected the depth of the well. 3. Excuses of confusion, in other words, that from the endless jarrings of sects and doctrines it was not of any use to attempt to follow the subject. This gives a singular view of that passage in the Bible, and as I said of that last Sunday, to me not a natural one. The Woman appears to have been ignorant and sinful, but there is no evidence that she intended to resist the effort of divine grace to save her. She meets an unknown person at a well. That person is of a Sect who refuse all connection with her own, and she naturally wonders at the unusual advance. It is not until the third question is put and he tells her of what was known only to herself, that she can form any idea of the character of the person addressing her. And she then declares it. All this is simple enough. It is just the natural working of a common mind. There seems no intentional resistance of grace about it. And the whole of the preacher’s ingenious edifice falls to the ground. Apart from the Text and its application however, the moral of the Sermon is very well. Quiet evening at home.


Perhaps Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch, who had graduated in divinity in 1830 ( Harvard Quinquennial Cat. ).