Pres. John Quincy Adams, "The Hourglass"

Discussion in 'Quotes Forum' started by Haeralis, Feb 20, 2018.

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  1. Haeralis

    Haeralis Puritan Board Freshman

    Pres. Adams wrote this beautiful and profoundly Christian poem on the fleetingness of time. In this poem, Adams captured the elusiveness of the present moment and the importance of God's atoning lamb—the great I AM—for us to have any permanence in the midst of time's unceasing movement.

    Alas! How swift the moments fly!
    How flash the years along!
    Scarce here, yet gone already by,
    The burden of a song.
    See childhood, youth, and manhood pass,
    And age, with furrowed brow;
    Time was—Time shall be;
    But where in Time is now?

    Time is the measure but of change;
    No present hour is found;
    The past, the future, fill the range
    Of Time's unceasing round.
    Where, then, is now?
    In realms above,
    With God’s atoning Lamb,
    In regions of eternal love,
    Where sits enthroned I AM.

    Then, pilgrim, let thy joys and tears
    On Time no longer lean;
    But henceforth all thy hopes and fears
    From earth's affections wean:
    To God let votive accents rise;
    With truth, with virtue, live;
    So all the bliss that Time denies
    Eternity shall give.

    The final lines are so powerful: "To God let votive accents rise; with truth, with virtue live; so all the Bliss that Time denies, Eternity shall give."
  2. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Yes, but... Unitarian, like his folks.
    Universal fatherhood of God, brotherhood of man.
    (no divinity of Christ, no virgin birth, Bible not divine)
  3. Haeralis

    Haeralis Puritan Board Freshman

    If you read letters between Quincy and his family, you will find that they engaged in theological disputes wherein Adams Sr. would disparage his son for believing in Christian doctrines such as the Trinity and the atonement of Christ. Quincy admits to adhering to Calvinism in these exchanges.

    Notice here that the elder, apostate John Adams decries Quincy Adams initially with the words "notwithstanding your Calvinism!!!"

    In letters to John Adams and Abigail Adams, Quincy also couldn't be more explicit in his endorsement of trinitarianism.

    I plainly perceive that you are not to be converted, even by the eloquence of Massillon, to the Athanasian Creed—But when you recommend to me Carlostad and Scheffmacher; and Priestly, and Waterland, and Clark, and Beausobre—Mercy! Mercy! what can a blind man do to be saved by unitarianism; if he must read all this to understand his Bible? I went last Christmas day to Ealing church, and heard the Revd Colston Carr, the Vicar, declare and pronounce, among other things, that whosoever doth not keep the Catholic Faith whole and undefiled: without doubt he shall perish everlastingly; And the Catholic Faith is THIS—That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity &c—in short, the Creed of St Athanasius: which as you know, the 8th Article of the English Church says, may be proved, by certain warrants of the Holy Scripture—Now I have had many doubts about the Athanasian Creed; but if I read much more controversy about it, I shall finish by faithfully believing it—Mr Channing says he does not believe, because he cannot comprehend it—Does he comprehend, how the Omnipotent, Omnipresent, infinite, eternal Spirit, can be the Father, of a mortal Man, conceived, and born of a Virgin? Does he comprehend his own meaning when he speaks of God as the Father, and of Christ as the Son? Does he comprehend the possibility according to human reason, of one page in the Bible from the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of the Apocalypse? If he does, I give him joy of his discovery, and wish he would impart it to his fellow-Christians—If the Bible is a Moral Tale, there is no need of believing in the Trinity—But if it is the Rule of Faith? I hope you will not think me in danger of perishing everlastingly, for believing too much.

    I find in the New Testament Jesus Christ accosted in his own presence by one of His disciples as God without disclaiming the appellation. I see him explicitly declared by at least two other of the Apostles to be God, expressly and repeatedly announced, not only as having existed before the worlds, but as the Creator of the worlds without beginning of days or end of years. I see him named in the great prophecy of Isaiah concerning him the mighty God! and I cannot be entirely satisfied to be told that one of the expressions is merely a figure, that another may be an interpolation, and a third is not perhaps correctly translated; nor yet, as I am told by Mr. Channing, that solitary texts collected here and there may be found in the Bible to support any doctrine whatsoever. The texts are too numerous, they are from parts of the Scriptures too diversified, they are sometimes connected by too strong a chain of argument, and the infer ences from them are to my mind too direct and irresistible, to admit of the explanations which the Unitarians sometimes attempt to give them, or of the evasions by which at others they endeavor to escape from them.

    I believe that he was buried with his father in a Congregationalist-Unitarian church so it is definitely possible that he rejected biblical Christianity later on but I think that he was still a Calvinist at the time that he wrote this poem.

    In any case, I do not see any unbiblical ideas expressed in it but perhaps I'm missing something.
  4. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Perhaps, we may entertain a better hope for the son than for the father? That would be nice...

    The Unitarians claim them both, and JQA was identified as one of two principal organizers of Washington's All Souls (Unitarian) congregation, 1821.

    Here he is said to wrestle life-long with the question of Jesus' divine nature:!english a thing that makes me wonder quite: whether a man can have as his Savior a being who lacks the infinite capacity to bear for him the wrath due to one for his sin. I found a few ambiguous quotations, in which he basically declares himself agnostic on such a vital thing as the Trinity. I'm not so sure what you have quoted above bears any better witness to a hearty faith; but rather a too-vague uncertainty, which apparently the pastors he resorted to did little to deepen.

    Whether he moved rightward in life from his parent's witness, certainly, the Unitarians have a better right to claim him than any others.

    Neither the skeptics, nor the ChristianAmerica people can really be trusted to teach without bias about the often obscure testaments of these folk. So, if we simply go with their affiliations and public confessions, we can do no more than hope at times for some happy inconsistency.
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  5. Haeralis

    Haeralis Puritan Board Freshman

    I've seen that the Unitarians claim John Quincy Adams, but I'm hesitant to believe any piece of propaganda that their site would put out. Their goal would be to aggrandize their apostasy at the cost of historical truth. A good friend of mine who is a professional historian with a Ph.D. in history is convinced that JQ Adams both was and remained a good Christian in stark contradistinction to his father. I'll have to ask him about Adams' alleged creation of a Unitarian church, though, since that might be extremely damnable evidence to this claim.

    With respect to the poem, I do not see how it is that any real Unitarian could speak of Jesus Christ as "God's atoning lamb" who sits enthroned with the "great I AM." That is quite explicit in its claim that Christ is the author of the atonement who sits beside the Father in Heaven. How could it be, then, that he would follow his father and the other Unitarians in adhering to the idea that Christ was a mere mortal who served as a good example but did not really have any traits that we do not possess? This is one of the reasons that the poem seems to be very biblical to me. Do you see any Unitarian ideas in it that would make this poem anti-Christian?

    I do agree that he was, like many public figures, pretty ambiguous. I hope that he died in belief and remained an opponent of his father's theology. Of course, being buried at his father's church dampens this prospect somewhat though it is possible that he did it just to be buried with his family and not out of any commitment to anti-Trinitarian doctrine. We do know, without a doubt, that Quincy Adams studied the Scriptures daily and believed them to be the inspired Word of God. Hopefully this led him to endorse the supremacy of God's Son over all Creation and His equal divinity with God the Father.
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