Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Was Gouverneur Morris A Rationalist?

Much has been said about the debauchery of Founding Father Gouverneur Morris. Until, his retirement, he did not live like a Christian, yet he called himself one:
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.

Morris was not shy to give his true beliefs for the Enlightenment's exaltation of man's reason:
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.

Morris believed in the Virgin Birth, with Reason subservient to the King of Heaven.

Here, is another quote I found from Morris, that shows his religion is beyond the scope of reason:
 ..Mr. Henry is most warm and powerful in Declamation being perfectly master of action Utterance and the Power of Speech to stir Men's Blood yet the Weight of Argument is so strong on the Side of Truth as wholly to destroy even on weak Minds the effects of his Eloquence but there are as you well know certain dark Modes of operating on the Minds of Members which like contagious Diseases are only known by their Effects on the Frame and unfortunately our moral like our ph[y]sical Doctors are often mistaken in their Judgment from Diagnostics..My Religion steps in where my Understanding falters and I feel Faith as I lose confidence. [Italics Mine]
-To Hamilton, June 13, 1788.     

A more closer look at this quote reveals his understanding the mind is flawed, and his religion begins where his reason cannot attain. The Enlightenment proclaimed reason and understanding over faith. The Gospel is for men like Morris, where works cannot accomplish, God gave Grace, through faith.

I am not aware of any proclamation in his later years affirming Christ. He obviously believed in the supernatural aspects of Christianity. However, did his head knowledge lead to faith and a virtuous life? How does his Last Will and Testament read?

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