Aug 4, 2013

John Quincy Adams read the Bible each year

John Quincy Adams read the Bible each year, John Quincy Adams (1767– 1848) was the sixth President of the United States, and son of the second President, John Adams. The great majority of his life was spent in public service. This began at the age of 14 when he received a Congressional diplomatic appointment as secretary to the ambassador of the court of Catherine the Great in Russia. During his life he served as foreign ambassador to England, France, Holland, Prussia, and Russia, Secretary of State, a member of the U.S. Senate, President, and then 18 years as a member of the House of Representatives. He died in the U.S. Capitol on February 23, 1848.

His last words were: “This is the last of earth; I am content.” He could be content, for he faithfully discharged his duties as a public servant, and his devout Christian faith prepared him to face the eternal hereafter.

Shortly after his death, a series of letters Adams had written from Russia to his son on the Bible and its teachings were printed in a little book and widely distributed throughout America. They were received with great enthusiasm and the book underwent many printings and editions. This article contains one of the nine letters Adams wrote to his son. This letter reflects well the Christian faith of John Quincy Adams. Some additional materials on the faith of this man are provided before his letter to his son.
Faith of John Quincy Adams

Following are some words and actions that reflect the devote Christian faith of John Quincy Adams.

1. For many years John Quincy Adams was a member of the American Bible Society, and he served as one of the Vice Presidents. In 1830 he wrote a letter to that body stating in part:

The distribution of Bibles, if the simplest, is not the least efficacious of the means of extending the blessings of the Gospel to the remotest corners of the earth; for the Comforter is in the sacred volume: and among the receivers of that million of copies distributed by the Society, who shall number the multitudes awakened thereby, with good will to man in their hearts, and with the song of the Lamb upon their lips?

The hope of a Christian is inseparable from his faith. Whoever believes in the divine inspiration of the holy Scriptures, must hope that the religion of Jesus shall prevail throughout the earth. Never since the foundation of the world have the prospects of mankind been more encouraging to that hope than they appear to be at the present time. And may the associated distribution of the Bible proceed and prosper, till the Lord shall have made “bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”

2. Adams attended church throughout his life, including services in the Capitol and other public buildings in Washington, D.C.

Adams attended church services in many places while living in Washington, D.C., including various locations in the Capitol Building. In his diary entry for October 23, 1803 he wrote: “Attended public service at the Capitol where Mr. Rattoon, an Episcopalian clergyman from Baltimore, preached a sermon.”

His diary entry for Oct. 30, 1803 was:

[R]eligious service is usually performed on Sundays at the Treasury office and at the Capitol. I went both forenoon and afternoon to the Treasury.

In 1827 while President, Adams attended a service in the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol to listen to Harriet Livermore, an evangelical female minister. He “sat on the steps leading up to her feet because he could not find a free chair.”

In his diary of February 2, 1806, he recorded:

Several of the Ladies went to pay visits — I rode with them to the Capitol for the purpose of attending Church; but I found there was no preaching at the House of Representatives, and the Court-House below . . . was so crowded that I could not get within the room.

Adams also recorded in his diary attending a four-hour Presbyterian service conducted in the War Office on January 29, 1804.

The last Sunday of his life, February 20th, 1848, he attended public worship at the Capitol in the morning, and at St. John’s church in the afternoon.

3. Adams was Vice-President of the American Bible Society and a member of the Massachusetts Bible Society

4. In an Oration delivered July 4th 1837 he stated:

Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birth-day of the Saviour? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the corner stone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity, and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies, announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Saviour and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets six hundred years before?

5. Adams spoke of the Christian faith of the American people:

[T]he people of the North American union, and of its constituent States . . . were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of the Gospel, which they nearly all, acknowledged as the rules of their conduct.

6. Adams said that Christianity produced the public morality necessary for civil freedom because Christianity effects the heart.

Human legislators can undertake only to prescribe the actions of men: they acknowledge their inability to govern and direct the sentiments of the heart; the very law styles it a rule of civil conduct, not of internal principles. . . . It is one of the greatest marks of Divine favor . . . that the Legislator gave them rules not only of action but for the government of the heart.

Three points of doctrine, the belief of which, forms the foundation of all morality. The first is the existence of a God; the second is the immortality of the human soul; and the third is a future state of rewards and punishments. Suppose it possible for a man to disbelieve either of these articles of faith and that man will have no conscience, he will have no other law than that of the tiger or the shark; the law of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.