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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

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.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Founding Father John Jay's Quote About The Trinity

Jonathan Rowe, of American Creation blog, has written a post about private religious tests, and posted this quote by John Jay. Jay was the most decorated Founding Father. Washington told him he could have any post he wanted. He was the First Chief Justice:

"It appeared to me that the Trinity was a Fact fully revealed and substantiated, but that the quo modo was incomprehensible by human Ingenuity. According to sundry Creeds, the divine Being whom we denominate the second Person in the Trinity had before all worlds been so generated or begotten by the first Person in the Trinity, as to be his coeval, coequal and coeternal Son. For proof of this I searched the Scriptures diligently -- but without Success. I therefore consider the Position of being at least of questionable Orthodoxy."

-- John Jay to Samuel Miller, February 18, 1822. Jay Papers, Columbia University Library.

Rowe goes on to say:

"Even the great "John Jay" has given rope with which the heresy hunters could hang him. Though Jay is conceded as one of the "authentic" orthodox Christian notable Founders, one could argue Jay may not have been a "Christian." Or at least that he doubted his Christianity and flirted with Arianism."

However, there is a flip-side to this statement, and there may be a better interpretation of the aforementioned quote.

You see, Mr. Jay was about as Orthodox as a person can be. He affirmed the Sacrificial Atonement of Christ, His Deity, and what I will attempt to show from that quote, The Trinity.

Here is Jay affirming the Trinity, claiming The Holy Spirit is God:

"Condescend, merciful Father! to grant as far as proper these imperfect petitions, to accept these inadequate thanksgivings, and to pardon whatever of sin hath mingled in them for the sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Savior; unto Whom, with Thee, and the blessed Spirit, ever one God, be rendered all honor and glory, now and forever." [bold face mine]

--William Jay, The Life of John Jay (New York: J & J Harper, 1833), Vol. I p. 518, Appendix V, from a prayer found among Mr. Jay’s papers and in his handwriting.

Jay also affirmed the Atonement; mandatory for believers, specifically shown in the New Testament; Matthew, Mark, Luke, Romans 5, 9, and Hebrews 9, 10, 12, and 13:

"The Bible will also inform them that our gracious Creator has provided for us a Redeemer in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed – that this Redeemer has made atonement “for the sins of the whole world,” and thereby reconciling the Divine justice with the Divine mercy, has opened a way for our redemption and salvation; and that these inestimable benefits are of the free gift and grace of God, not of our deserving, nor in our power to deserve." [bold face mine]

--John Jay, The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, 1794-1826, Henry P. Johnston, editor (New York: Burt Franklin, 1890), Vol. IV, pp. 494, 498, from his “Address at the Annual Meeting of the American Bible Society,” May 13, 1824.

I believe here is the complete and correct quote of John Jay. The original is a little different, and there's more to it than meets the eye:

"I adopted no articles from Creeds, but such only as on careful examination I found to be confirmed by the Bible. It appeared to me that the Trinity was a Fact fully revealed and substantiated, but that the quo modo was incomprehensible and consequently inexplicable by human Ingenuity. According to sundry [several] Creeds, the divine Being whom we denominate the second Person in the Trinity had before all worlds been so generated or begotten by the first Person in the Trinity, as to be his coeval, coequal and coeternal Son. For proof of this I searched the Scriptures diligently -- but without Success. I therefore consider the Position of being at least of questionable Orthodoxy." [bold face mine]
-To Samuel Miller 1822

Mr. Jay is saying some Creeds, most likely Arianism, is the subject, and he doesn't go by those creeds. The Bible doesn't teach what he's writing; the Creeds do. The Scriptures teach The Second Person of the Trinity is eternal and always existed; that he wasn't generated by the Father. He searched for that heresy in the Scriptures and couldn't find it. He's saying that position; Arianism, is questionable Orthodoxy.

I can go further, and say it's not in the Bible at all. The Scriptures are clear, before Jesus became a man, He was God, an Eternal Spirit Being:

It was Jesus at the Burning Bush, for He used the same name He told Moses, which is why the Pharisees tried to stone Him:

John 8:57-58
"Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. [bold face mine]

Here, Peter says the Holy Spirit is God:

Acts 5:3-4
But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. [bold face mine]

There are many more referring to the Deity, thereby Trinity, but here are a few:

Phillippians 2:6-7
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men."

Acts 20:28
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." [bold face mine]

Romans 9:5
"Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." [bold face mine]

Here is the Trinity in Genesis 1:26:

"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. [bold face mine]

Even the Jewish prophets knew the Messiah was Eternal:

Micah 5:2
"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. [bold face mine]

Isaiah 9:6
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." [bold face mine]

The Everlasting Father refers to Jesus as the Father of Eternity, reigning like a Father.

No wonder the great John Jay believed the Trinity. Belief in Jesus' Deity, implies Trinity.