John Adams' Diary
FEBRUARY 22, 1756
Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their
only law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts
there exhibited! Every member would be obliged, in conscience, to temperance
and frugality and industry; to justice and kindness and charity towards
his fellow men; and to piety, love and reverence towards Almighty God.
In this commonwealth, no man would impair his health by gluttony, drunkenness,
or lust; no man would sacrifice his most precious time to cards or any
other trifling and mean amusement; no man would steal, or lie, or in any
way defraud his neighbor, but would live in peace and good will with all
men; no man would blaspheme his Maker or profane his worship; but a rational
and manly, a sincere and unaffected piety and devotion would reign in all
hearts. What a Utopia; what a Paradise would this region be
MARCH 2, 1756
Began this afternoon my third quarter. The great and Almighty author
of nature, who at first established those rules which regulate the world,
can as easily suspend those laws whenever his providence sees sufficient
reason for such suspension. This can be no objection, then, to the miracles
of Jesus Christ. Although some very thoughtful and contemplative men among
the heathen attained a strong persuasion of the great principles of religion,
yet the far greater number, having little time for speculation, gradually
sunk into the grossest opinions and the grossest practices. These, therefore,
could not be made to embrace the true religion till their attention was
roused by some astonishing and miraculous appearances. Ile reasoning of
philosophers, having nothing surprising in them, could not overcome the
force of prejudice, custom, passion, and bigotry. But when wise and virtuous
men commissioned from heaven, by miracles awakened men's attention to their
reasonings, the force of truth made its way with ease to their minds.
MARCH 7, 1756
Heard Mr. Maccarty all day. Spent the evening and supped at Mr. Greene's
with Thayer. Honesty, sincerity, and openness I esteem essential marks
of a good mind. I am, therefore, of opinion that men ought (after they
have examined with unbiased judgments every system of religion, and chosen
one system, on their own authority, for themselves), to avow their opinions
and defend them with boldness.
MAY 1, 1756
If we consider a little of this our globe, we find an endless variety
of substances mutually connected with and dependent on each other. In the
wilderness we see an amazing profusion of vegetables, which afford sustenance
and covering to the wild beasts. The cultivated plains and meadows produce
grass for, the cattle, and herbs for the service of man. The milk and the
flesh of other animals afford a delicious provision for mankind.
A great part of the human species are obliged to provide food and nourishment
for other helpless and improvident animals. Vegetables sustain some animals;
these animals are devoured by others, and these others are continually
cultivating and improving the vegetable species. Thus, nature upon our
earth is in a continual rotation.
If we rise higher, we find the sun and moon, to a very great degree,
influencing us. Tides are produced in the ocean; clouds in the atmosphere;
all nature is made to flourish and look gay by these enlivening and invigorating
luminaries. Yea, life and cheerfulness is diffused to all other planets,
as well as ours, upon the sprightly sunbeams.
No doubt, there is as great a multitude and variety of bodies upon each
Planet in proportion to its magnitude, as there is upon ours. These bodies
are connected with, and influenced by each other. Thus, we see the amazing
harmony of our solar system.
The minutest particle, in one of Saturn's satellites, may have some
influence upon the most distant regions of the system. The stupendous plan
of operation was projected by Him who rules the universe, and a part assigned
to every particle of matter, to act in this great and complicated drama.
The Creator looked into the remotest futurity, and saw his great designs
accomplished by this inextricable, this mysterious complication of causes.
But to rise still higher, this solar system is but one very small wheel
in the great, the astonishing machine of the world. Those stars, that twinkle
in the heavens, have each of them a choir of planets, comets, and satellites
dancing round them, playing mutually on each other, and all, together playing
on the other systems that lie around them.
Our system, considered as one body hanging on its center of gravity,
may affect and be affected by all the other systems within the compass
of creation. Thus it is highly probable every particle of matter influences
and is influenced by every other particle in the whole collected universe.
JULY 26, 1796
Cloudy . . .
The Christian religion is above all the religions that ever prevailed
or existed in ancient or modem times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity,
and humanity, let the blackguard Paine say what he will; it is resignation
to God, it is goodness itself to man.
AUGUST 24, 1796
One great advantage of the Christian religion is that it brings the
great principle of the law of nature and nations--Love your neighbor as
yourself, and do to others as you would that others should do to you,--to
the knowledge, belief, and veneration of the whole people. Children, servants,
women, and men, are all professors in the science of public and private
morality. No other institution for education, no kind of political discipline,
could diffuse this kind of necessary information, so universally among
all ranks and descriptions of citizens. The duties and rights of the man
and the citizen are thus taught from early infancy to every creature. The
sanctions of a future life are thus added to the observance of civil and
political, as well as domestic and private duties. Prudence, justice, temperance,
and fortitude, are thus taught to be the means and conditions of future
as well as present happiness.