The last was from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, dated the 7th instant, and announced the very sudden decease there, on the evening of the 6th, of Mr. Robert Little, the minister of the Unitarian church at Washington. He died, after an illness of little more than twenty-four hours, of an inflammation of the brain, after having preached morning and evening at Harrisburg, on Sunday, the 5th, the day before his death. This is an event deeply to be lamented by his congregation, of whom I was one. I had constantly attended on his ministration for the last seven years, though I had never formally joined his society. I did not subscribe to many of his doctrines, particularly not to the fundamental one of his Unitarian creed. I believe in one God, but His nature is incomprehensible to me, and of the question between the Unitarians and Trinitarians I have no precise belief, because no definite understanding.-John Q. Adams, 6th President of the United States, Secretary of State, U.S. Senator 1803-1808, Minister to Holland, Russia, Portugal, Prussia, and Minister to Great Britain where he was Chief Negotiator for the Treaty of Ghent to end the War of 1812. Wrote the Monroe Doctrine. Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, comprising portions of his diary ..., Volume 7. Aug. 13, 1827 [bold face mine]
His thoughts are not different from fundamentalist Christians today. Thinking about the Tri-unity of God can drive you nuts. It is no use to try and figure it out. This understanding is beyond our comprehension; as Adams fully attested. It is the rejection of that doctrine that is important. Much to my delight, Adams believed in Christ's Deity:
In the evening I attended again, at Mr. Little's, and heard him from Acts xvii. 11: "And searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so." He digressed from the historical narrative of the rise and progress of Christianity to discuss the question whether the doctrine of the Trinity had any warrant in Scripture. He chiefly considered Matthew xxviii. 19, and the first chapter of St. John's Gospel. But neither this, 1 See vol. iii. p. 370, note. nor any other argument that I ever heard, can satisfy my judgment that the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ is not countenanced by the New Testament. As little can I say that it is clearly revealed. It is often obscurely intimated; sometimes directly, and sometimes indirectly, asserted; but left, on the whole, in a debatable state, never to be either demonstrated or refuted till another revelation shall clear it up.-Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, comprising portions of his diary ..., Volume 7. Feb. 18, 1827. P. 228-229. [bold face mine]
From these comments, Adams was an Orthodox Christian, not a Unitarian. If he had no trouble with Christ's Deity, neither should he have of the Atonement. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. The Last Supper is in three of the four Gospels, with the atonement doctrine started by Abraham then Moses, although only a "covering". Besides Jesus claiming Deity, can someone without sin not be God and thus pay the penalty for violating God's Laws? Only a sinless man could be a sin-bearer. If blood does not atone for sin, what does? Works? The Founding Fathers believed "Merits" of a mediator cleansed man from sin. Did Calvinist Samuel Adams refer to works that took away our sin?
Merits must then refer to the Crucifixion.