Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America
The American Colonist's Library; Primary Source Documents Pertaining to Early American History ^ | 1851 & perhaps earlier | John Adams

Posted on 06/30/2003 4:26:21 PM PDT by unspun

(Source, Charles F. Adams, ed., The Works of John Adams [1851] Vol. 6, p. 3-4)

There have been three periods in the history of England, in which the principles of government have been anxiously studied, and very valuable productions published, which, at this day, if they are not wholly forgotten in their native country, are perhaps more frequently read abroad than at home.

The first of these periods was that of the Reformation, as early as the writings of Machiavel himself, who is called the great restorer of the true politics.  The "Shorte Treatise of Politick Power, and of the True Obedience which Subjects owe to Kyngs and other Civile Governors, with an Exhortation to all True Natural Englishemen, compyled by John Poynet, D. D.," was printed in 1556, and contains all the essential principles of liberty, which were afterwards dilated on by Sidney and Locke. This writer is clearly for a mixed government, in three equiponderant branches, as appears by these words:

"In some countreyes they were content to be governed and have the laws executed by one king or judge; in some places by many of the best sorte; in some places by the people of the lowest sorte; and in some places also by the king, nobilitie, and the people, all together. And these diverse kyndes of states, or policies, had their distincte names; as where one ruled, a monarchie; where many of the best, aristocratie; and where the multitude, democratie ; and where all together, that is a king, the nobilitie, and commons, a mixte state; and which men by long continuance have judged to be the best sort of all.  For where that mixte state was exercised, there did the commonwealths longest continue."
The second period was the Interregnum, and indeed the whole interval between 1640 and 1660. In the course of those twenty years, not only Ponnet and others were reprinted, but Harrington, Milton, the Vindiciae contra Tyrannos, and a multitude of others, came upon the stage.

The third period was the Revolution in 1688, which produced Sidney, Locke, Hoadley, Trenchard, Gordon, Plato Redivivus, who is also clear for three equipollent branches in the mixture, and others without number. The discourses of Sidney were indeed written before, but the same causes produced his writings as did the Revolution.Americans should make collections of all these speculations, to be preserved as the most precious relics of antiquity, both for curiosity and use.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Free Republic; Government; Philosophy; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: adams; algernonsidney; johnadams; johnlocke; johnmilton; johnpoynet; locke; milton; poynet; sidney
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-67 next last
I thought it would be good to post these words of John Adams, regarding key sources for the philosophy of the American Republic.

Going to sources is good for many purposes, not the least of which in this case is the dispelling of undue ideas of the influence of singular philosophers (Locke, or otherwise and certainly no one who came after the American Revolution).

(Going back further, one finds understanding from New Covenant, Former Covenant, and Platonic sources, and further still, the Source of the truths depticted therein, purely and otherwise, respectively.)

"Americans should make collections of all these speculations, to be preserved as the most precious relics of antiquity, both for curiosity and use."

1 posted on 06/30/2003 4:26:21 PM PDT by unspun
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: unspun
proposed ammendment. call it preservation:

"Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."
2 posted on 06/30/2003 4:33:45 PM PDT by longtermmemmory (Vote!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: betty boop; logos; Kudsman; cherry_bomb88; chicagolady; TheRightGuy; BillyBoy; pram; tdadams; ...
Thought you just might like to note this.
Also, the Web site it lives in is wondrous to behold:
http://personal.pitnet.net/primarysources/

BTW, don't quiz me on all its links just yet... unless it's "open book" of course.

So, It's just after 6:45PM CDST. Do you know where this is bookmarked, this evening? ;-)

3 posted on 06/30/2003 4:46:07 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: longtermmemmory
You may have something, there.
4 posted on 06/30/2003 4:46:50 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: longtermmemmory
If this amendment passes, Muslims or Mormons will not be able to argue that prohibitions on polygamy violate their first amendment rights to free exercise of religion. This amendment would be part of the Constitution, and would coequal to the first amendement.

5 posted on 06/30/2003 4:47:53 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative (Go Al Go!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: unspun
Your link is amazing. The amount of information is mind boggling.

I have bookmarked your link for future reading.

Thank you.
6 posted on 06/30/2003 5:03:12 PM PDT by Weimdog
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Weimdog
You're welcome. Pretty boggling, all-right.
7 posted on 06/30/2003 5:04:06 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: unspun
Awesome! Thanks for the notice.
8 posted on 06/30/2003 5:19:38 PM PDT by gitmo (The perfect symbol for democracy: the guillotine.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: unspun; sultan88; yankhater
Did you ping Sultan & yankhater on this site??? I think yankhater would be most interested in this.
9 posted on 06/30/2003 5:24:51 PM PDT by cherry_bomb88 (The mind is its own place, and in itself can make heaven of hell, a hell of heaven~Milton)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: unspun
AAAHHHHH!!!

An ill spent youth can destroy a person's argument faster than anything.

It's back to sleeping four hours a night, and lots of coffee.

Thanks unspun? hehe
10 posted on 06/30/2003 5:30:08 PM PDT by bondserv (Alignment is critical)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: unspun
Thank you for that fantastic link, unspun.
11 posted on 06/30/2003 5:34:40 PM PDT by Yeti
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: unspun
Very much appreciate the link. Thanks a big bunch!
12 posted on 06/30/2003 5:48:21 PM PDT by Eastbound
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: gitmo; Weimdog; cherry_bomb88; bondserv; Yeti; Eastbound; betty boop; Alamo-Girl; logos; Kudsman
You're welcome.  I'm eager to read some of Algernon Sidney's writing, soon.  I've just read a bit, so far.  In addition to the "double negative" of government existing to compell us to be protected from the violation of rights, I understand he also referred to the fostering of virtue being a primary reason for a lean government of free people.

I'd like to read more about that, especially from the source. Here is some of it:
"[I]f governments arise from the consent of men, and are instituted by men according to their own inclinations, they did therein seek their own good; for the will is ever drawn by some real good, or the appearance of it. This is that which man seeks by all the regular or irregular motions of his mind. Reason and passion, virtue and vice, do herein concur.... A people therefore that sets up [government does it so]...that it may be well with themselves and their posterity."

"Nothing can be called stable, that is not so in principle and practice, in which respect human nature is not well capable of stability; but the utmost deviation from it that can be imagined, is, when such an error is laid for a foundation as can never be corrected. All will confess, that if there be any stability in man, it must be in wisdom and virtue, and in those actions that are thereby directed; for in weakness, folly, and madness, there can be none. The stability therefore that we seek, in relation to the exercise of civil and military powers, can never be found, unless care be taken, that such as shall exercise those powers, be endowed with the qualities that should make them stable."

"Virtue is the dictate of reason, or the remains of divine light, by which men are made beneficent and beneficial to each other. Religion proceeds from the same spring; and tends to the same end; and the good of mankind so entirely depends upon the two, that no people ever enjoyed anything worth desiring that was not the product of them; and whatsoever any have suffered that [which] deserves to be abhorred and feared, has proceeded either from the defect of these, or the wrath of God against them. If any [leader] therefore has been an enemy to virtue and religion, he must also have been an enemy to mankind, and most especially to the people under him."

"But if all depended upon the will of a man, the worst would be often the most safe, and the best in the greatest hazard; slaves would be often advanced, the good and the brave scorned and neglected. The most generous nations have above all things sought to avoid this evil: and the virtue, wisdom, and generosity of each, may be discerned by the right fixing of the rule, that must be the guide of every man's life, and so continue their magistracy, that it may be duly observed. Such as have attained to this perfection, have always flourished in virtue and happiness: they are, as Aristotle says, governed by God, rather than by men, whilst those who subjected themselves to the will of a man, were governed by a beast."

"The creature having nothing, and being nothing but what the creator makes him, must owe all to him, and nothing to any one from whom he has received nothing. Man therefore must be naturally free, unless he be created by another power than we have yet heard of. The obedience due to parents arises from hence, in that they are the instruments of our generation; and we are instructed by the light of reason, that we ought to make great returns to those from whom under God we have received all. When they die, we are their heirs, we enjoy the same rights, and devolve the same to our posterity. God only, who confers this right upon us, can deprive us of it: and we can no-way understand that he does so, unless he had so declared by express revelation, ore had set some distinguishing marks of dominion and subjection upon men; and as an ingenious person not long since said, caused some to be born with crowns upon their heads, and all others with saddles upon their backs. This liberty therefor must continue, till it be either forfeited, or willingly resigned. The forfeiture is hardly comprehensible in a multitude, that is not entered into any society; for as they are all equal, and 'equals can have no right over each other,' no man can forfeit any thing to one, who can justly demand nothing, unless it may be by a personal injury, which is nothing to this case; because where there is no society, one man is not bound by the actions of another. . . .
"[F]or men could not could not resign their liberty, unless they naturally had it in themselves. Resignation is a public declaration of their assent to be governed by the person to whom they resign; that is, they do by act constitute him to be their governor. This necessarily puts us upon the inquiry, why do they resign, how they will be governed, and proves the governor to be their creature; and the right of disposing the government must be in them, or they who receive it can have none."

"They who are enemies of virtue, and fear not God, are afraid of men, and dare not offer such things as the world will not bear, lest by that means they should overthrow their own designs. All poison must be disguised, and no man can be persuaded to eat arsenic, unless it be covered with something that appears to be harmless."

"The head must be of the same nature with the other members, or it cannot subsist. . . . [T]he head cannot have a subsistence without the body, nor any interest contrary to that of the body; and it is impossible for anything that is good for the head, that is hurtful to the body. A prince therefore or magistrate, who sets up an interest in himself distinct from, or repugnant to, that of the people, renounces the title or quality of their head. . . . The head cannot stand in need of an exterior help against the body, nor subsist when divided from it. . . . The head cannot desire to draw all the nourishment of the body to itself, nor more than a due proportion. If the rest of the parts are sick, weak, or cold, the head suffers equally with them; and if they perish, must perish also. . . . If any therefore . . . have merited the glorious name of head of nations, it must have been by their personal virtues, by a vigilant care of the good of their people, by an inseparable conjunction of interests with them, by an ardent love of every member of society, by a moderation of spirit affecting no undue superiority, or assuming any singular advantage, which they are not willing to communicate to every part of the political body."


Yes, the writings of this man, whom John Adams listed first among his peers whose influence of mind provided for our American Republic, and whom Jefferson also put on his "short list" of seminal thinkers, are writings to be read, I'd say.  Josiah and the lost Book of the Covenant comes to mind.
13 posted on 06/30/2003 5:54:59 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: gitmo; Weimdog; cherry_bomb88; bondserv; Yeti; Eastbound; betty boop; Alamo-Girl; logos; Kudsman
The above are extracted quotes, not uninterrupted; see the link to "this man": http://www.liberty1.org/sidney.htm
14 posted on 06/30/2003 5:57:41 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: unspun
There is genius in a copotent realtionship of the basic systems of government, but always genius evolves to bend it toward the will and profit of a few. As we see in the present instance.

Man does not seem to be able to govern himself in large numbers for any appreciable length of time. A seat of government is always a repository for wealth and power, and has to be to function.

Eventually, attracted by these two corrosive elements to the human soul, less than honest people will perculate to the top. Following will be lesser and greater sociopaths, who will be more successful because they will be willing to do things even a dishonest man will not do to achieve his goal.

Thus proceeds the rot. No, I don't have a solution. Each individual must govern himself for a human government to work, and then, any system will work, or none at all. Perhaps in some future level spiritual evolution.

Sorry to be negative, but history compels me so.

15 posted on 06/30/2003 6:03:08 PM PDT by William Terrell (People can exist without government but government can't exist without people)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: William Terrell
Sorry to be negative, but history compels me so.

And so it goes. But then, as the words of our Declaration of Independence admonish us, it is our duty to "throw the bums out," one way or another....

16 posted on 06/30/2003 6:07:32 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Everybody
Of course, I'm also eager to read the cited writings of bishop John Poynet, aren't you?

Or, have you already?

Happy Independence Week.
17 posted on 06/30/2003 6:13:09 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: unspun
"Who will wear a shoe that hurts him, because the shoemaker tells him it is well made? or who will live in a house that yields no defense against the extremities of weather, because the mason or carpenter assures him it is a very good house?

Such as have reason, understanding, or common sense, will, and ought to make use of it in those things that concern themselves, and their prosperity, and suspect the words of such as are interested in deceiving or persuading them not to see with their own eyes, that they may be more easily deceived.

This rule obliges us so far to search into matters of state, as to examine the original principles of government in general, and of our own in particular.

We cannot distinguish truth from falsehood, right from wrong, or know what obedience we owe to the magistrate, or what we may justly expect from him, unless we know what he is, why he is, and by whom he is made to be what he is.

These perhaps may be called 'mysteries of state,' and some would persuade us they are to be esteemed 'arcana;' but whosoever confesses himself to be ignorant of them, must acknowledge that he is uncapable of giving any judgement upon things relating to the superstructure; and in so doing evidently shows to others, that they ought not at all hearken to what he says." I:3:9



Algernon Sidney was a prophet! This is dead on for today.

He also rivals Saint Paul for sentence length.

Thanks again unspun.

18 posted on 06/30/2003 7:25:22 PM PDT by bondserv (Alignment is critical)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: William Terrell
Eventually, attracted by these two corrosive elements to the human soul, less than honest people will perculate to the top. Following will be lesser and greater sociopaths, who will be more successful because they will be willing to do things even a dishonest man will not do to achieve his goal.

This is exactly why "character matters" and why scum like Clinton's so-called personal life was an extension of his public life. If someone is inclined to use and abuse and exploit the people around him for personal gratification, he (or she) will have the same exploitive and abusive mentality in the public sphere. The only reason someone wouldn't understand this is because of their own desires to do the same thing - at least in theory.

19 posted on 06/30/2003 8:01:46 PM PDT by First Amendment
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: unspun
Kudos, unspun! Thank you so much for all this information!!!
20 posted on 06/30/2003 8:11:12 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: unspun
Thanks. for the link. A new favorite!

;^)
21 posted on 06/30/2003 8:42:06 PM PDT by headsonpikes
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: unspun
Great post - thanks for sharing.
22 posted on 06/30/2003 8:47:50 PM PDT by stainlessbanner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: unspun
Good post. I've known about primary sources for a while, but haven't been able yet to devise a robot good enough to download it all... hmmmm... maybe I'll try Mozilla under linux.
Stay well.
23 posted on 06/30/2003 8:59:49 PM PDT by djf
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: unspun
Also, the Web site it lives in is wondrous to behold:

A mind boggling compilation beyond comprehension. You might want to save it on your local drive in case the site disappears in a month as alluded to in its plea for book sales.

24 posted on 07/01/2003 4:50:55 AM PDT by TheRightGuy (I like PEACE ...and there's nothing more peaceful than a dead terrorist!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: unspun
Thanks for the excellent resource. This Paine link on the page caught my eye. If there ever was a doubt as to whether Thomas Paine was a lunatic, a look at this page should remove it.
25 posted on 07/01/2003 5:46:29 AM PDT by Dataman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: TheRightGuy; homeschooler; Home School; Homeschoolmom; homeschool_dad; HomeTeacher; ...
A mind boggling compilation beyond comprehension. You might want to save it on your local drive in case the site disappears in a month as alluded to in its plea for book sales.

Just took a look at the book. It's a textbook (High School to College level, I'd say). If anyone sees this and has a home schooling ping list, feel free.... Or, if anyone like me, would like to have a synopsis --with pictures, no less!

Never Before In History

http://www2.pitnet.net/primarysources/never.html
by
Gary Amos and Richard Gardiner


If you like THE AMERICAN COLONISTS LIBRARY, you need to read Never Before in History. This important and scholarly new book documents the way in which the American colonial experience was permeated with religion. This is a must read for anyone interested in understanding the dominant socio-political and socio-cultural milieu of early America.

Feedback about Never Before In History:

"Among all of the reading I've done while completing undergraduate and graduate degrees in American history this book ranks as the best work I have ever read on the colonial and revolutionary periods. Simply masterful from start to finish, Gardiner and Amos artfully fashion a wonderful portrait of the genesis of our nation. Leaving aside the superficial and the cliche so characteristic of such works, the authors penetrate to the roots of the American experience and gently expose and deflate a whole lot of bloated revisionists history in the process. This book will revolutionize its readers understanding of the origins of America."

-- Raymond Cannata

"Never Before is ... of the highest scholarly quality and should be required reading for those who teach and those who take American History in all our schools."

-- Professor Harold J. Berman, Harvard Law School (emeritus)

"I do not believe that there has been a time since the War Between the States that such a need for books of this kind has existed. Careful research, accurate history, and a passionate devotion to the great principles upon which this nation was established combine to make this book an ideal answer to that pressing need."

-- D. James Kennedy, Ph.D.

"Never Before in History shows, convincingly, that Christian writers before, during, and after the Reformation supported many of the ideas that led to the American founding."

-- Professor Thomas G. West, University of Dallas

"Nicely written, and beautifully laid out -- an excellent piece of work"

-- Peter Marshall


About the authors :

Dr. Gary Amos - Associate Professor, Regent University Law School; holds a Juris Doctor degree and a B.A. in history, pre-law, and theology. He is a member of the Bar of the Commonwealth of Virginia . Dr. Amos has published several works dealing with the the history of the religious background of the common law and its relationship to American political theory. Richard Gardiner - Ph.D. Candidate, Marquette University; B.A. (Magna Cum Laude) University of Maryland --College Park; M.Div., Princeton Theological Seminary ; History Teacher's Certification, Princeton University . While at Princeton Theological Seminary, Richard Gardiner re-founded and edited The Princeton Theological Review, now in its 7th year. Mr. Gardiner has published a number of journal and periodical articles related to the study of American History.


ORDERING INFORMATION:
Our Price: $19.99 (HARDCOVER )
Shipping: $3.76

26 posted on 07/01/2003 8:22:10 AM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: unspun
Great link!!

I've had this bookmarked under a different page for a long time, but the links look to be basically the same, AND your link is quicker to load.

Apparently they got all the links from Mr. Gardiner, because his name is mentioned on the Keep and Bear Arms site.

27 posted on 07/01/2003 8:35:13 AM PDT by Constitution Day
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Constitution Day
Well great! Thanks! Now we can buy a book from one and learn how to shoot better from the other! ;-)
28 posted on 07/01/2003 8:41:11 AM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: unspun
ping keeper
29 posted on 07/01/2003 10:50:49 AM PDT by CGVet58 (I still miss my ex-wife... but my aim is improving!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: exmarine; betty boop; Alamo-Girl; Polycarp; logos; TheRightGuy; cherry_bomb88; BillyBoy; Dataman; ..
"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever." -Thomas Jefferson

About our massively studied Christian experiment in a Republic, the tactics for the political corruptives and destroyers has been pretty basic:

1. Shift the attention away from the great, great numbers of Christian planners of our republic, and instead onto John Locke and at the time of the Revolution, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine.

2. Mislabel Locke and Jefferson as "Deists" like Paine.

3. Equate Deism with modern Humanism.

4. Proclaim Marxist dogma as advances of the Humanism of America's founders.

Adams and Jefferson gave credit for the conception of the American Republic to people such as these. Adams listed Algernon Sidney before John Locke (who was a devout if somewhat heretical Christian, yet displaying unheretical wisdom beyond most of today's Christians in certain aspects, including the requirement of freedom from religious control, in his treatise "The Reasonablness of Christianity"). Sidney did not find it necessary to formulate a government out of a twisty double negative (constraint of people only to keep them from violating others' "natural rights") preferring to pull that slip-knot and expound upon the foment of Christian virtue as a fundamental reason for the self-governance of a free people. (Whoodathunkit?)

Naturally -- and supernaturally, he was right. However, he was executed for it. We should heed such wisdom, before we suffer such fates, ourselves. Time for a bringing people (kicking and screaming, as necessary) back down through our roots. That kidn of an inversion, I'm all for.

u

30 posted on 07/02/2003 11:01:32 AM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: exmarine; betty boop; Alamo-Girl; Polycarp; logos; TheRightGuy; cherry_bomb88; BillyBoy; Dataman; ..
u

Oops. Meant to use the link that had cb88's caption:

"He just saw Hillary..." (America's wannabe executioner).

31 posted on 07/02/2003 11:07:19 AM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: unspun
Rotfl....you did have that look on your face! :o)
32 posted on 07/02/2003 11:10:16 AM PDT by cherry_bomb88 (The mind is its own place, and in itself can make heaven of hell, a hell of heaven~Milton)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: unspun
Mislabel Locke and Jefferson as "Deists" like Paine.

Jafferson must have "mislabeled" himself. He professed to being a Deist.

33 posted on 07/02/2003 11:50:07 AM PDT by tdadams
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: tdadams
Jefferson must have "mislabeled" himself. He professed to being a Deist.

Documentation?

34 posted on 07/02/2003 12:05:04 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: unspun
In an letter written in 1800 to one of his fellow signers of the Declaration of Independence, Dr. Benjamin Rush, Jefferson said his views were consistent with Deism.

He was also known to be openly scornful of many of the tenets of Christianity and held in contempt most leaders of the Christian church. Look into it sometime. You might be surprised what you find.

35 posted on 07/02/2003 12:27:46 PM PDT by tdadams
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: tdadams
Jefferson must have "mislabeled" himself. He professed to being a Deist.

I didn't say he was a Christian

You say you are a Calvinist. I am not. I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Ezra Stiles Ely, June 25, 1819

Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.
-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782.

Jefferson believed in what he gathered to be good from his Christian culture and teachings and rejected what he chose from the Bible (to his detriment).

We must reduce our volume to the simple evangelists [and] select, even from them, the very words only of Jesus, paring off the amphibologisms into which they have been led by forgetting often, or not understanding, what had fallen from him.…There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man. I have performed this operation for my own use by cutting verse by verse out of the printed book, and arranging the matter which is evidently his, and which is as easily distinguishable as diamonds in a dunghill. The result is an octavo of forty-six pages of pure and unsophisticated doctrines such as were professed and acted on by the unlettered Apostles, the Apostolic Fathers, and the Christians of the first century. Their Platonizing successors, indeed, in after times, in order to legitimate the corruptions which they had incorporated into the doctrines of Jesus, found it necessary to disavow the primitive Christians, who had taken their principles from the mouth of Jesus himself, of his Apostles, and the Fathers contemporary with them. They excommunicated their followers as heretics.
- To John Adams. Bergh 13:389. (1813.)

[Christ's] system of morality was the most benevolent and sublime probably that has been ever taught, and consequently more perfect than those of any of the ancient philosophers.…[He was] the most innocent, the most benevolent, the most eloquent and sublime character that ever has been exhibited to man. —To Dr. Joseph Priestley. Bergh 10:375. (1803.)

I concur with the author [of a recent sermon] in considering the moral precepts of Jesus as more pure, correct, and sublime than those of the ancient philosophers; yet I do not concur with him in the mode of proving it. He thinks it necessary to libel and decry the doctrines of the philosophers; but a man must be blinded, indeed, by prejudice who can deny them a great degree of merit. I give them their just due, and yet maintain that the morality of Jesus as taught by himself, and freed from the corruptions of latter times, is far superior. Their philosophy went chiefly to the government of our passions, so far as respected ourselves, and the procuring our own tranquility. In our duties to others they were short and deficient. They extended their cares scarcely beyond our kindred and friends individually, and our country in the abstract. Jesus embraced with charity and philanthropy our neighbors, our countrymen, and the whole family of mankind. They confined themselves to actions; he pressed his sentiments into the region of our thoughts, and called for purity at the fountainhead. —Bergh 10:376. (1803.)

[His] system of morals,…if filled up in the style and spirit of the rich fragments he left us, would be the most perfect and sublime that has ever been taught by man.…1. He corrected the deism of the Jews, confirming them in their belief of one only God, and giving them juster notions of His attributes and government. 2. His moral doctrines relating to kindred and friends were more pure and perfect than those of the most correct of the philosophers, and greatly more so than those of the Jews; and they went far beyond both in inculcating universal philanthropy, not only to kindred and friends, to neighbors and countrymen, but to all mankind, gathering all into one family under the bonds of love, charity, peace, common wants, and common aids. A development of this head will evince the peculiar superiority of the system of Jesus over all others. 3. The precepts of philosophy, and of the Hebrew code, laid hold of actions only. He pushed his scrutinies into the heart of man, erected his tribunal in the region of his thoughts, and purified the waters at the fountainhead. 4. He taught emphatically the doctrines of a future state, which was either doubted or disbelieved by the Jews, and wielded it with efficacy as an important incentive, supplementary to the other motives to moral conduct. —To Dr. Benjamin Rush. Bergh 10:384. (1803.)

The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man:

1. That there is one only God, and He all perfect.
2. That there is a future state of rewards and punishments.
3. That to love God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself, is the sum of religion.…

Had the doctrines of Jesus been preached always as pure as they came from his lips, the whole civilized world would now have been Christian.

—Bergh 15:383. (1822.)

From what I understand, what Jefferson rejected most of all was a material/immaterial duality.  This seemed to drive him to refuse the concept of things "supernatural," even when expressed in the Bible he loved, hence his use of "nature and nature's God," the language of at least some Deists, when referring to God.

I think that every Christian sect gives a great handle to atheism by their general dogma that without a revelation there would not be sufficient proof of the being of a God.…On the contrary, I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the universe in its parts, general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition. The movements of the heavenly bodies, so exactly held in their course by the balance of centrifugal and centripetal forces; the structure of our earth itself, with its distribution of lands, waters, and atmosphere; animal and vegetable bodies, examined in all their minutest particles; insects, mere atoms of life, yet as perfectly organized as man or mammoth; the mineral substances, their generation and uses—it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe that there is, in all this, design, cause, and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a Fabricator of all things from matter and motion, their Preserver and Regulator while permitted to exist in their present forms, and their regeneration into new and other forms.

We see, too, evident proofs of the necessity of a superintending power to maintain the universe in its course and order. Stars, well known, have disappeared, new ones have come into view; comets, in their incalculable courses, may run foul of suns and planets, and require renovation under other laws; certain races of animals are become extinct; and were there no restoring power, all existences might extinguish successively, one by one, until all should be reduced to a shapeless chaos.

So irresistible are these evidences of an intelligent and powerful Agent that, of the infinite numbers of men who have existed through all time, they have believed, in the proportion of a million at least to a unit, in the hypothesis of an eternal pre-existence of a Creator, rather than in that of a self-existent universe. Surely this unanimous sentiment renders this more probable than that of the few in the other hypothesis. Some early Christians, indeed, have believed in the co-eternal pre-existence of both the Creator and the world, without changing their relation of cause and effect. —To John Adams. Bergh 15:425. (April 11, 1823.)

I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.
-letter to Francis Hopkinson, March 13, 1789

While the theological views of Jefferson resemble Deism, Jefferson even refused the creed of Deism, while desiring to cling to Jesus as a moral teacher and effectively a material archetype.  One will find Jefferson extolling Jesus Christ, in a very truncated way.  I have not found him extolling Deism, per se.  This is a real distinction, and as Jefferson himself said, he believed only as he chose, without regard to the tenets of others. But as far as I'm concerned, enough space devoted to Jefferson. (As he stated, when he drafted the Declaration of Independence, he was summing up in his way, the sentiments and positions common to the American people. Naturally, Christians don't object to the idea that God is "nature's God," and they sought agreement with as many fellow revolutionaries as possible.)

36 posted on 07/02/2003 12:42:51 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: tdadams
In an letter written in 1800 to one of his fellow signers of the Declaration of Independence, Dr. Benjamin Rush, Jefferson said his views were consistent with Deism.

It would be interesting to have that quote, in its context. As I've said, Jefferson's philosophy and theology were largely consistent with Deism, but from what I've seen, he had a great affinity (of his own interpretation) for Christ and did not choose to call himself by the label "Deist," preferring to position himself and act according to his interpretation of how Christ acted (i.e., independently).

37 posted on 07/02/2003 12:59:25 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: unspun
When the founders spoke of "nature's law and nature's God," they were not referring to the libertarian type of natural law as understood today. The natural law they spoke of came from Christian philosophers such as Grotius and Puffendorf and the context was purely Christian. It was later than natural law was changed to mean something else.
38 posted on 07/02/2003 1:04:08 PM PDT by exmarine
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: tdadams
Here is the quote that it seems you've referred to.  It is important to read the precise words in their context.  Here, while putting up barriers to being pidgeonholed, the one focus he says he would point to is the person of Christ, whom he believes the clergy of the various denominations of Christianity have rejected (by thier belief in Jesus as God come in the flesh, as the apostle John wrote, and according to the other attestations of God in Scripture as being beyond the material universe).
To Dr. Benjamin Rush   -  Monticello, Sep. 23, 1800   -  1800092

I promised you a letter on Christianity, which I have not forgotten. On the contrary, it is because I have reflected on it, that I find much more time necessary for it than I can at present dispose of. I have a view of the subject which ought to displease neither the rational Christian nor Deists, and would reconcile many to a character they have too hastily rejected. do not know that it would reconcile the genus irritabile vatum who are all in arms against me. Their hostility is on too interesting ground to be softened. The delusion into which the X. Y. Z. plot shewed it possible to push the people; the successful experiment made under the prevalence of that delusion on the clause of the constitution, which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity thro' the U. S.; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians & Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, & they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: & enough too in their opinion, & this is the cause of their printing lying pamphlets against me, forging conversations for me with Mazzei, Bishop Madison, &c., which are absolute falsehoods without a circumstance of truth to rest on; falsehoods, too, of which I acquit Mazzei & Bishop Madison, for they are men of truth.

And here is another quote, where Jefferson posits that his views are strictly personal in nature.  As in other places, he vaguely alludes to himself being oriented in the neighborhood of Christianity, while preferring not to admit to any creed.  Interestingly enough, he also speaks of Deism as an identity that can't be pinned on him, so to speak.

To Mrs. Samuel H. Smith   -  Monticello, August 6, 1816   -  1816080

I have received, dear Madam, your very friendly letter of July 21st, and assure you that I feel with deep sensibility its kind expressions towards myself, and the more as from a person than whom no others could be more in sympathy with my own affections. I often call to mind the occasions of knowing your worth, which the societies of Washington furnished; and none more than those derived from your much valued visit to Monticello. recognize the same motives of goodness in the solicitude you express on the rumor supposed to proceed from a letter of mine to Charles Thomson, on the subject of the Christian religion. It is true that, in writing to the translator of the Bible and Testament, that subject was mentioned; but equally so that no adherence to any particular mode of Christianity was there expressed, nor any change of opinions suggested. A change from what? the priests indeed have heretofore thought proper to ascribe to me religious, or rather anti-religious sentiments, of their own fabric, but such as soothed their resentments against the act of Virginia for establishing religious freedom. They wished him to be thought atheist, deist, or devil, who could advocate freedom from their religious dictations. But I have ever thought religion a concern purely between our God and our consciences, for which we were accountable to him, and not to the priests. I never told my own religion, nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another's creed. I have ever judged of the religion of others by their lives, and by this test, my dear Madam, I have been satisfied yours must be an excellent one, to have produced a life of such exemplary virtue and correctness. For it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read. By the same test the world must judge me. But this does not satisfy the priesthood. They must have a positive, a declared assent to all their interested absurdities. My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest. The artificial structures they have built on the purest of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolts those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there. These, therefore, they brand with such nick-names as their enmity chooses gratuitously to impute. I have left the world, in silence, to judge of causes from their effects; and I am consoled in this course, my dear friend, when I perceive the candor with which I am judged by your justice and discernment; and that, notwithstanding the slanders of the saints, my fellow citizens have thought me worthy of trusts. The imputations of irreligion having spent their force; they think an imputation of change might now be turned to account as a holster for their duperies. I shall leave them, as heretofore, to grope on in the dark.

But, I wouldn't spend very much time looking for kernel of truth in Jefferson's view of God.  When one is furtive, it is often to hide nothing.

39 posted on 07/02/2003 1:26:50 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: exmarine; betty boop; Alamo-Girl; logos; Phaedrus; cornelis; philosopher
When the founders spoke of "nature's law and nature's God," they were not referring to the libertarian type of natural law as understood today. The natural law they spoke of came from Christian philosophers such as Grotius and Puffendorf and the context was purely Christian. It was later than natural law was changed to mean something else.

Excellent point (and over my head some, in its specificity). From what I understand, the Deists took concepts such as natural law and the God of nature and redacted them into their truncated view that the natural world was all one has to be concerned with, one way or some another (even though... doh! ...nature had to come from God).

40 posted on 07/02/2003 1:33:54 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: Everybody
And now... anyone want to discuss what John Adams real mentors really had to say?

(BTW, if I understand correctly, because of his centrality to the cause of the independent American Republic, John Adams was asked to pen the Declaration of Independence, but decided to solicit Jefferson to do the same, believing Jefferson to be a more talented scribe.)

41 posted on 07/02/2003 1:37:50 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: unspun
Excellent point (and over my head some, in its specificity). From what I understand, the Deists took concepts such as natural law and the God of nature and redacted them into their truncated view that the natural world was all one has to be concerned with, one way or some another (even though... doh! ...nature had to come from God).

I believe you are correct. This can become a deep philosphical topic and I am no expert either. However, Francis Schaeffer explains in his writings that a line of thought beginning with Rousseau ("the noble savage") sprang up which held that morals can be discerned by observing nature. Shaeffer contended that this is a flawed way of looking at the world because nature is both cruel and non-cruel (i.e. morally neutral), but people are made in God's image and one cannot use nature to establish one's ethics.

42 posted on 07/02/2003 1:39:21 PM PDT by exmarine
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: exmarine
...Rousseau ("the noble savage") sprang up which held that morals can be discerned by observing nature. Shaeffer contended that this is a flawed way of looking at the world because nature is both cruel and non-cruel (i.e. morally neutral), but people are made in God's image and one cannot use nature to establish one's ethics.

Yes and Rousseau even revised his political philosophy, painting over his search for the Noble Savage with his view of bumping and grinding out a Social Contract, somewhat acquiescent to the understanding that many others already related by his time.

43 posted on 07/02/2003 1:47:45 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: tdadams
Oops. One more quote from Jefferson about his beliefs of God.  My apologies for filling up your "My Comments" page.  Evidently there did come a time that Jefferson became comfortable with a nominal Christian creed -- that of Unitarianism (presumably while maintaining his theological naturalism, anti-Platonism, or perhaps... weak materialism).
To Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse  -  Monticello, June 26, 1822  -  1822062
 Now, which of these is the true and charitable Christian? He who believes and acts on the simple doctrines of Jesus? Or the impious dogmatists, as Athanasius and Calvin? Verily I say these are the false shepherds foretold as to enter not by the door into the sheepfold, but to climb up some other way. They are mere usurpers of the Christian name, teaching a counter-religion made up of the deliria of crazy imaginations, as foreign from Christianity as is that of Mahomet. Their blasphemies have driven thinking men into infidelity, who have too hastily rejected the supposed author himself, with the horrors so falsely imputed to him. Had the doctrines of Jesus been preached always as pure as they came from his lips, the whole civilized world would now have been Christian. I rejoice that in this blessed country of free inquiry and belief, which has surrendered its creed and conscience to neither kings nor priests, the genuine doctrine of one only God is reviving, and trust that there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die an Unitarian.

44 posted on 07/02/2003 2:20:48 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: AnnaZ
"[I]f governments arise from the consent of men, and are instituted by men according to their own inclinations, they did therein seek their own good; for the will is ever drawn by some real good, or the appearance of it. This is that which man seeks by all the regular or irregular motions of his mind. Reason and passion, virtue and vice, do herein concur.... A people therefore that sets up [government does it so]...that it may be well with themselves and their posterity."
- Algernon Sidney
OK, Anna.  Here is a tagline plug post. Have you ever had one, before?  Sounds like something a person could use to dry laundry, at the very least.  May it do at least as well by you.

Arlen
(Of course you'll have to click into this thread of long sentences, to see it.)
45 posted on 07/02/2003 3:11:28 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love." -- btw, I don't look anything like AnnaZ, but I do listen on RadioFR.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: unspun
Jefferson was a deist.

Revising history is a tool of the left.

46 posted on 07/02/2003 5:03:01 PM PDT by DAnconia55 (Taxation is a greater threat to the family than gay sex is.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: DAnconia55
Jefferson was a deist. Revising history is a tool of the left.

Oh my....

I've copied Jefferson's own words here. Accuse him of being untrue to himself if you like, but please leave me out of it. ;-)

47 posted on 07/02/2003 5:08:19 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love." -- btw, I don't look anything like AnnaZ, but I do listen on RadioFR.o)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 46 | View Replies]

To: unspun
This source is very impressive, however I did not see any Roman or Greek references. Since they are founbdational to the structure of our government, the military, and many laws which evolved into British common law the site leaves a large hole and give thie impression that the "pagans" were not significant. If I missed the citations, please let me know.
48 posted on 07/02/2003 5:08:57 PM PDT by breakem
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: breakem
This source is very impressive, however I did not see any Roman or Greek references.

Thanks for mentioning your concern.  The closer one gets to the American Revolution, the greater are the number of individual references.  However, those Greek and Roman are linked in the first section of "The American Colonist's Library."

Classical Literature Having Significant Influence Upon the American Colonists
Classic Philosophers and Poets,  Most of the founding fathers in America were thorougly familiar with these Greco-Roman authors: e.g., Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, Virgil.
The Latin Library, (Cicero, Livy, Horace, etc.) Ability to read these sources extemporaneously was an entrance requirement at colonial schools such as Harvard.
The Vulgate, The Holy Bible in Latin.
The Bible, The best Bible online, which allows the user to immediately discover the Hebrew and Greek words behind the English words.
The Bible, This book was, of course, the most influential piece of literature in Colonial America.
St. Augustine , The church father of choice among American Puritans.
St. Augustine , English translations of his works on predestination which greatly influenced the Puritans.

BTW, what did you think of how John Adams summed up sources of the Revolution?  We don't hear much about those writers he is first to mention (John Poynet and Algernon Sidney).  Do you suppose that is because of their strong Biblical Christian principles?
49 posted on 07/02/2003 5:25:39 PM PDT by unspun ("Do everything in love." -- btw, I don't look anything like AnnaZ, but I do listen on RadioFR.o)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 48 | View Replies]

To: unspun
These sources seem to bve biblical in nature. The roman law, structure of government, military, civil service etc. served as a model for future european governments and are easilly identifiable in the US constitution and government. The romans were pagans when these institution were established. The Greeks including Platos Republic and democratic philosophies got the whole ball started.

If it is the intent of this site to support the US as a Christian nation, then let us know. If the intent to to identify sources for the US as a country and government then the pagans must get their due and the cite has a serious omission problem.

50 posted on 07/02/2003 5:30:07 PM PDT by breakem
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 49 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-67 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson