Adams Papers

13 Fryday.
[from the Diary of John Adams]

13 Fryday.

A pleasant morning. Saw my classmates Gardner, and Wheeler. Wheeler dined, spent the afternoon, and drank Tea with me. Supped at Major Gardiners, and ingag’d to keep School at Bristol, provided Worcester People, at their insuing March meeting, should change this into a moving School, not otherwise.1 Major Greene this Evening fell into some conversation with me about the Divinity and Satisfaction of Jesus Christ.2 All the Argument he advanced was, “that a mere creature, or finite Being, could not make Satisfaction to infinite Justice, for any Crimes,” and that “these things are very misterious.”

[In the margin:] Thus mystery is made a convenient Cover for absurdity.

1Prior to the formation of school districts, schoolmasters were obliged to keep school for stated periods in different parts of a town (township), so that the children of all those who supported schools by taxes would have equal access to them; this arrangement was called a “moving school” (DAH description begins James Truslow Adams and R. V. Coleman, eds., Dictionary of American History, New York, 1940; 5 vols. and index. description ends , under School, District). Extract from the Worcester Town Records, 1 March 1756: “Voted that the School[s] be Kept in the same way and manner as they were the Last year and that John Chandler Junr. and Timo. Paine Esq. and Mr. Asa Moore be a Comitte for provid[ing] a master for the Center School” (Worcester Soc. of Antiquity, Colls., 4 [1882]:23).

2See OED description begins The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford, 1933; 12 vols. and supplement. description ends under Satisfaction, 3: “Theol. The atonement made by Christ for sin, according to the view that His sufferings and merits are accepted by the Divine justice as an equivalent for the penalty due for the sins of the world.” In recent published sermons Jonathan Mayhew had called in question the divinity of Christ; see 17 March, below.

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