Like his father, John Quincy Adams served for only one term as President. Like his father, he left office following a bitter election. Like his father, John Quincy Adams made good use of his post-presidential years.
John Quincy Adams had been serving his country since he accompanied his father John Adams to France to serve as his personal secretary during the American Revolution. He was fourteen years old at the time. Before becoming President, John Quincy Adams served as an American diplomat to the Netherlands, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, and England. He was Secretary of State under President James Monroe.
After leaving the presidency, the citizens of Adams’ congressional district elected him to serve them in the U.S. House of Representatives for eight consecutive terms. John Quincy Adams served there until he had a stroke at his desk on the floor of the House chamber. His colleagues moved him to another room in the U.S. Capitol where he died two days later. The desk where Adams had his stroke is on display in the family home of Peace field.
While Ray and I were touring the First Parish Church of Quincy, we learned of another accomplishment of this brilliant public servant. John Quincy Adams, who read his Bible each day, was also a poet and hymnwriter. He once wrote, “Could I have chosen my own genius and condition, I would have made myself a great poet.”
When Ray and I returned from the MassHOPE convention a few weeks ago, I shared with our ladies Bible class some of the insights from our trip which I have been sharing with you. Having only been home for eleven hours before class began, I asked Ray to find and print some hymns written by John Quincy Adams (Ray’s so sweet). This one, entitled “Lord of All Worlds,” is beautiful.
Lord of all worlds, let thanks and praise
To Thee forever fill my soul.
With blessings Thou hast crowned my days,
My heart, my head, my hand control.
O, let no vain presumptions rise,
No impious murmur in my heart,
To crave the boon Thy will denies,
Or shrink from ill Thy hands impart.
Thy child am I, and not an hour,
Revolving in the orbs above,
But brings some token of Thy power,
But brings some token of Thy love;
And shall this bosom dare repine,
In darkness dare deny the dawn,
Or spurn the treasures of the mine,
Because one diamond is withdrawn?
The fool denies, the fool alone,
Thy being, Lord, and boundless might;
Denies the firmament, Thy throne,
Denies the sun’s meridian light;
Denies the fashion of his frame,
The voice he hears, the breath he draws;
O idiot atheist! To proclaim
Effects unnumbered without cause!
Matter and mind, mysterious one,
Are man’s for threescore years and ten;
Where, ere the thread of life was spun?
Where, when reduced to dust again?
All seeing God, the doubt suppress;
The doubt Thou only canst relieve;
My soul Thy Savior Son shall bless,
Fly to Thy Gospel, and believe.
John Quincy Adams was right. As the psalmist said:
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”