Sunday, December 20, 2009

Finally, To The Blogosphere; James Madison's Notes On The Bible Part I


When I first saw these notes (and others James Madison wrote attending college), I felt like a kid in a candy store. I knew they were real, however, did his notes present Christian Orthodoxy, as the Bible explains? I have seen some of these quotes, one in particular, that is never sourced. They make their rounds, posted both by Christian Nation, and secularist hounds, who have no gumption to check its authenticity, thereby bringing attention to themselves, rather than to the substance of the quotes.

Before I present Founding Father James Madison's Notes on the Bible, the biggest question I had after reading them, was, did Madison write anything while forming the nation that blatantly contradicts these words from 1770 to 1775? That answer is a resounding no! But, let's face it, that some of the Founding Fathers changed their views is a fact of history. Along with Madison, Robert Treat Paine, John Marshall, James Kent, and John Adams come to mind. I mention John Adams because he also believed in inerrancy of Scripture until after he helped form the nation:

"The idea of infidelity [a disbelief in the inspiration of the Scriptures or the divine origin of Christianity, Websters 1828 Dict.] cannot be treated with too much resentment or too much horror. The man who can think of it with patience is a traitor in his heart and ought to be execrated [denounced] as one who adds the deepest hypocrisy to the blackest treason.

-John Adams to James Warren on August 4, 1778.

A thorough examination of each of their writings, show their fundamental views on religion changed over time. Calling the "Great Spirit" of the Indians the "Father of us all" and Christianity, "The best and purest religion" as Madison did, happened in the 19th century, beyond the time of our founding. Furthermore, Marshall and Kent never departed from inerrancy of the Bible, but Madison's quotes do.

Here are some of Madison's "Notes on Commentary on the Bible" found in The Papers of James Madison, p. 51-59. Vol. I. 16 Mar 1751 - 16 Dec. 1779. Edited by William T. Hutchinson and William M. E. Rachal. 1962, by the University of Chicago Press.

[Th]e Acts

Ch. 20. Grace, it is the free gift of God. Luke. 120 32-v. 32

Ch. 21. Sins, or Faults, committed before conversion should not be related to the prejudice of the late Sinner v. 8

Ch. 22. Carnal Reason, when against the command of God, should be laid by. v. 19

Ch. 23. Conscience[:] it should be inform'd as well as followed. v. 1.
Herod mentioned ib[id].
Sadducees, deny the Resurrection & the existence of Angel or Spirit v. 8

Ch. 26. Unconverted has little reason to expect to convert others by their ministry

Ch. 28. Charity[:] no duty more certainly rewarded in another World; so is it frequently rewarded in this, as was Publius, by the miraculous cure perform'd on his Father for his Charity to Paul. v. 8.

Gospels.

Mat. Ch 1st Pollution[:] Christ did by the power of his Godhead purify our nature from all the pollution of our Ancestors v. 5. &c

Virgin Mary had no other Child (probably) but our Saviour. v. 25

Some Proverbs of Solomon

XX 9 Who can say I have made my Heart clean; I am pure from my sin

In the book of Acts, where the Bereans are mentioned that they searched the scriptures, JM commends their conduct "as a noble example for all succeeding Christians to imitate and follow..."

"Omnisciency--God's foreknowledge doth not compel, but permits to be done." Acts, ch. II. v. 23.
"Christ's divinity appears by St. John, ch. XX. v. 28."
"Resurrection testified and witnessed by the Apostles. Acts, ch. IV. v. 33."

The editor believes these notes, with the exception of the extracts from Proverbs, were quoted from William Burkitt's, Expository Notes, with Practical Observations, on the New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, printed in London in 1724. JM most likely wrote these notes while a student at the College of New Jersey.

Of course the above sentiments is what JM and his family believed for generations; foreknowledge, depravity, The Trinity, Grace, etc. encommpassed the Calvinist beliefs of James Madison.

JM's Calvinism is written in: The Federalist Papers of 1787-88, and his Memorial and Remonstrance of 1785, evidenced from "that religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction.."..It is unalienable also, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society."

The Worship of God, (in its Christian context), is not a choice, but a duty, brought on by the conscience.

In part II, I'll discuss JM's later Calvinist writings.

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