Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Saturday. December 1.

Monday. 3d.

Sunday. 2. CFA


Sunday. 2. CFA
Sunday. 2.

Bright morning and pleasant. But the snow gave a chill to the air that tells us of winter in no equivocating terms. I passed the greater part of my time in reading over the Story of Morgan all the facts relating to which I am anxious to master.

Attended divine Service and heard Mr. Frothingham from 1. Peter. 2. 21. “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example.” It was upon the passion of the Saviour and calculated for the occasion of Communion day. Very well in it’s way but not remarkable for any thing that I could perceive. Afternoon. Mr. Barrett from 10. Mark 21. “But one thing thou lackest.” He discoursed upon the absence of a single virtue in a character destroying the value of all the rest. For instance a man wants prudence and he will find no benefit in benevolence, justice, honesty &ca. If he wants piety, his morality will serve him little. I was struck with one defect in the argument. All his examples were brought forward with an eye to temporal success. It was always, how he had failed to be esteemed, or to be distinguished, to have influence or wealth. As an illustration it might possibly do, if it did not tend to mislead ordinary minds as to the end of existence. Self should not be the standard either of morality or religion. The practice 411of all the virtues might easily be supposed and yet be unattended with worldly prosperity. Look for example at the character of Christ. Another objection occurred to me. Man is naturally imperfect. His virtues are many of them the result of his conscientious state of mind. To say then that because he fails in one, it is to ruin the value of all the rest, is in fact to discourage from the performance of any. I do not read the Text or the story thus. All merit is comparative. The Young man asked of the Saviour a question. What shall I do to inherit eternal life? The answer was to obey the commandments. Of course a grade of merit or it would not have been required. Upon his replying that he had done this from his youth upwards, Christ then suggested the performance of a still higher Act of virtue and this was too much for his questioner. That one thing he wanted. Yet I should not say that therefore he was no better than one who had never obeyed a Commandment but on the contrary had violated them all. It has always appeared to me that the whole of this Story is one of the most trying portions of the Testament. It requires a sacrifice from Man which but very few would make any sooner than the Young man. Human ingenuity has done much to modify the phrases that follow, but there is an expressiveness in them, notwithstanding, that is fearful.

Read Massillon. John 10. 31. “Then the Jews took up stones again, to stone him.” Upon the discouragements to Piety. 1. They are many. 2. They are not so unpleasant as one imagines. 3. Not so unpleasant as those the World creates. 4. They are compensated by gratifications never found in the World. A good Sermon.

Quiet in the evening. My wife wrote letters and I read Marmontel. Afterwards. Read over the details in Stone’s book.