John Quincy Adams on the Bible

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), the sixth President of the United States, served as the Chairman of the American Bible Society in 1844. He was still serving as a U.S. Congressman at age 76. In a speech that same year, given to the American Bible Society on February 27, he shared his beliefs about the Bible:

I deem myself fortunate in having the opportunity, at a stage of a long life drawing rapidly to its close, to bear at this place, the capital of our National Union, in the Hall of representatives of the North American people, in the chair of the presiding officer of the assembly representing the whole people, the personification of the great and mighty nation – to bear my solemn testimonial of reverence and gratitude to that book of books, the Holy Bible…. The Bible carries with it the history of the creation, the fall and redemption of man, and discloses to him, in the infant born at Bethlehem, the Legislator and Saviour of the world.

... and when he became a father himself, he wrote extensive letters to his own son, George Washington Adams, intentionally passing on the legacy to the next generation. While serving as a diplomat in Saint Petersburg, Russia, September 1811, John Quincy wrote:

My Dear Son:
In your letter of the 18th January to your mother, you mentioned that you read to your aunt a chapter in the Bible or a section of Doddridge's Annotations every evening. This information gave me real pleasure; for so great is my veneration for the Bible, and so strong my belief, that when duly read and meditated on, it is of all books in the world, that which contributes most to make men good, wise, and happy - that earlier my children begin to read it, the more steadily they pursue the practice of reading it throughout their lives, the more lively and confident will be my hopes that they will prove useful citizens to their country, respectable members of society, and a real blessing to their parents.… I have always endeavored to read it with the same spirit and temper of mind, which I now recommend to you: that is, with the intention and desire that it may contribute to my advancement in wisdom and virtue…. I can only pray Almighty God, for the aid of his Spirit to strengthen my good desires, and to subdue my propensities to evil; for it is from him, that every good and every perfect gift descends. My custom is, to read four or five chapters every morning, immediately after rising from my bed. It employs about an hour of my time, and seems to me the most suitable manner of beginning the day…. You have already come to that age in many respects; you know that difference between right and wrong, and you know some of your duties, and the obligation you are under, to become acquainted with them all. It is in the Bible you must learn them and from the Bible how to practice them. Those duties are to God, to your fellow creatures, and to yourself.

Let us, then, search the Scriptures…. The Bible contains the revelation of the will of God. It contains the history of the creation of the world, and of mankind… It contains a system of religion, and of morality, which we may examine upon its own merits…. it contains a numerous collection of books, written at different ages of the world, by different authors, which we may survey as curious monuments of antiquity, and as literary compositions. In what light so ever we regard it, whether with reference to revelation, to literature, to history, or to morality - it is an invaluable and inexhaustible mine of knowledge and virtue.
From your affectionate Father,
John Quincy Adams.

("The Bible in America: What We Believe About the Most Important Book in Our History" Second Edition/ Steve Green and Todd Hillard
www.museumofthebible.org)