Monday, January 25, 2010

Alexander Hamilton; The Calvinist, Part I

Scholars that claim Alexander Hamilton was less than a Christian may be hard-pressed. However, neither Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris, nor George Washington should be labeled rationalists. The correct definition of "rationalist" as Wilkipedia explains, says "reason is king." A rationalist denies the supernatural, and anything unreasonable to the enlightened man. All three believed human nature was depraved, by none other than The Fall. Original Sin is unreasonable to rationalists, which exempts all three men from the label. Calvinist Professor Gregg Frazer, claim these men are a special kind of Theistic Rationalist; one that can pick and choose what miracles; apparently biblical, are legitimate. However, Hamilton goes so far as to claim miracles are possible apart from Biblical Revelation, or Right Reason, casting further doubt on his thesis. Here is a taste of Frazer's thesis:

"They [Founding Fathers] similarly felt free to define God according to the dictates of their own reason and to reject Christian doctrines which did not seem to them to be rational..Theistic rationalists generally disdained doctrines or dogmas. They found them to be divisive, speculative, and ultimately unimportant since many roads lead to God."

Granted, there may have been some framers who denied the supernatural; Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine come to mind, however Alexander Hamilton is not one of them. Is Original Sin a divisive doctrine? Many would claim it is a fact of everyday life.

"And making the proper deductions for the ordinary depravity of human nature, the number must be still smaller of those who unite the requisite integrity with the requisite knowledge." [bold face mine]

-Hamilton, FEDERALIST No. 78

Thus, unlike, the rationalists, he did not believe learning and the enlightenment would cause virtue, but only that the depravity would change its form. Hamilton knew he couldn't change his condition, because it was inherrant:

"As riches increase and accumulate in few hands; as luxury prevails in society; virtue will be in a greater degree considered as only a graceful appendage of wealth, and the tendency of things will be to depart from the republican standard. This is the real disposition of human nature: It is what, neither the honorable member nor myself can correct. It is a common misfortune, that awaits our state constitution, as well as all others..It is a harsh doctrine, that men grow wicked in proportion as they improve and enlighten their minds. Experience has by no means justified us in the supposition, that there is more virtue in one class of men than in another. Look through the rich and the poor of the community; the learned and the ignorant. Where does virtue predominate? The difference indeed consists, not in the quantity but kind of vices, which are incident to the various classes; and here the advantage of character belongs to the wealthy. Their vices are probably more favorable to the prosperity of the state, than those of the indigent; and partake less of moral depravity." [bold face mine]

-Alexander Hamilton, New York Ratifying Convention 21 June 1788. Papers 5:36--37, 40--43
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch13s38.html

Gouverneur Morris; the Penman of the Constitution, cannot be considered a Rationalist either. He never exalted reason over revelation; however, he did attack it, hence Morris lived in Paris at the height of the French Revolution:

"Those who slaughtered their prince and made havoc of each other; those who endeavored to dethrone the King of Heaven and establish the worship of human reason, who placed, as representative on the altar which piety had dedicated to the holy virgin, and fell down and paid to her their adoration, were, at length, compelled to see and to feel, and, in agony, to own that there is a God. I cannot proceed. My heart sickens at the recollection of those horrors which desolated France." [bold face mine]

-An oration, delivered on Wednesday, June 29, 1814, at the request of a number of citizens of New-York : in celebration of the recent deliverance of Europe from the yoke of military despotism.

What is interesting in Morris' quote is his mention of the Holy Virgin. If Morris didn't believe what he wrote, why even mention it? Also, this quote proves Morris could not be a rationalist, as he says the King of Heaven is superior to reason, that the French tried to establish Reason over Christianity. One can only imagine what Morris saw in that dreadful time.

Morris, like Hamilton, Madison, Washington, et al. believed in human depravity:

"Your history of the two Barons is very amusing ; but when
you take occasion to pity the infirmity of human nature, be-
cause of their attachment to a trivial decoration, you assail
the wisdom of Providence in his moral government of the
world." [bold face mine]

-TO JOHN PARISH. February 18th, 1806.

Morris claimed to be a Christian, not a rationalist:

"As a good Christian I pray not to be led into it..."
-The diary and letters of Gouverneur Morris, Minister of the United States to France. Vol II.

9 comments:

mud_rake said...

Oh, you apologists dig deeply and frantically into the dustbins of history hoping like hell to 'prove' that our Founding Fathers established a christian nation here.

What a hopeless pursuit and of what value is your quest?

What do you hope to gain in this fanciful, quixotic adventure?

Our Founding Truth said...

If I'm right, which the framers' writings support, then our country is now what the framers did not want.

They were deeply concerned about that; talking about virtue, morality, etc. However I'm not naive enough to claim this country is now a Christian Nation.

Learning about the Founding Fathers, the difficulty they went through establishing this nation is not unlike an adventure. I learn something about them day to day. Thank God, they wrote many volumes for us to read.

mud_rake said...

If I'm right, which the framers' writings support, then our country is now what the framers did not want.

And exactly what was it that framers did want? Can you clearly extrapolate their desires?

Our Founding Truth said...

And exactly what was it that framers did want? Can you clearly extrapolate their desires?

I believe John Hancock gives a good example of what the framers desired to form; a desire to form as much as possible, God's Kingdom on earth; a Christian Nation:

"Surely you never will tamely suffer this country to be a den of thieves. Remember, my friends, from whom you sprang. Let not a meanness of spirit, unknown to those whom you boast of as your fathers, excite a thought to the dishonor of your mothers I conjure you, by all that is dear, by all that is honorable, by all that is sacred, not only that ye pray, but that ye act; that, if necessary, ye fight, and even die, for the prosperity of our Jerusalem...And let us play the man for our God, and for the cities of our God; while we are using the means in our power, let us humbly commit our righteous cause to the great Lord of the Universe, who loveth righteousness and hateth iniquity. And having secured the approbation of our hearts, by a faithful and unwearied discharge of our duty to our country, let us joyfully leave our concerns in the hands of him who raiseth up and pulleth down the empires and kingdoms of the world as he pleases; and with cheerful submission to his sovereign will, devoutly say: "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the field shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet we will rejoice in the Lord, we will joy in the God of our salvation." [bold face mine]

-John Hancock, Boston Massacre Oration. 5 March 1774. Delivered at Boston, Massachusetts, on the anniversary of the Boston Massacre of 1770

mud_rake said...

And what, may I ask, do you suppose Madison was up to when he wrote the First Amendment?

Could it be that his memory of the bloody religious wars that killed thousands of Europeans ought not happen here in this new experiment in democracy?

I am afraid, sir, that you are way-too deep in your christian apologetics to understand this very important historical precept.

Our Founding Truth said...

And what, may I ask, do you suppose Madison was up to when he wrote the First Amendment?

The difference between you and I is, I try to find out what Madison meant by finding his words. Don't assume like everyone else, that he believes as you do.

Search this blog, and you will find the answer. Go to my posts on Madison, study them, and you will find Madison's writings on the First Amendment.

Let me know what you find.

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