Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

Saturday 10th.

Monday. 12th.

397 Sunday. 11th. CFA Sunday. 11th. CFA
Sunday. 11th.

Cloudy day with snow. As the season advances the atmosphere takes more of a chill. Read Potter’s Account of the civil government of Athens. How much of this which would so facilitate a youth’s early classical knowledge if he was familiarized to it!

Attended divine Service as usual and heard Dr. Walker of Charlestown. Romans 2. 14.15. “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves; which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.” The preacher began by a definition of the so called natural law of the Universe, and argued the existence of a corresponding moral law, or in other words a conscience which was as certain an indicator of violated general principles as the consequence of any deviation from physical rules. There was however a general petitio principii which runs through all this gentleman’s reasoning. The question is precisely this whether there is any intellectual moral sense and moreover whether if admitted, it is not susceptible of almost infinite modification by local laws and habits.

Afternoon, the same from Revelations 3. 17. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” The necessity of feeling the value of virtue and religion as a want, and the tendency so frequent to substitute in their place other objects of a temporary and deceptive kind. Dr. Walker is a reasoner strong in his way, but he makes me doubt his premises, so positively does he press his conclusions. Logic is not a strong instrument when its working is too apparent.

Read a discourse of Buckminster’s from Psalms 119. 71. “It is good for me, that I have been afflicted.” An interesting discourse drawn from his melancholy experience at the threshold of active existence of the effects of a severe disease. He reviews the various reasons for consolation under sickness and it’s susceptibility of a useful application. I deny not this, but adversity though hard to bear is most frequently a refiner of character. Perhaps the occasion when moral reflection is most necessary is in the midst of prosperity.

Sensible as I too often am of the weakness of the judgment when set in array against the dazzling and seductive vanities of life, I rejoice with trembling. My lot has been so happy that I always feel as if the 398approach of evil would be but the signal how entirely I had been corrupted. May God be merciful to me and mine and not deal with us according to our offences is my frequent and earnest exclamation. Evening at home. Read a little of Miss Baillie.