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Sunday, February 16, 2014

New release from Dreisbach and Hall

Their new collaboration is due for release April 1, 2014. Faith and the Founders of the American Republic will hopefully provide more evidence of Calvinist faith from the Founding Fathers. The book has a section on Gouverneur Morris, written by Gregg Frazer. Here is one of Frazer's questionable comments:
Like the Deists, Morris and the other theistic rationalists used generic "God words" rather than specifically Christian terms for God (p. 214).  
Yet, Calvinists used this classical terminology, including Samuel Adams, William Livingston, John Witherspoon and many others. How can this understanding be used to claim someone wasn't orthodox when the orthodox used it? The fact is Morris called himself a Christian.

The problem with many historians like Frazer is the Natural Law tradition. Because many framers referred to Natural Law, scholars believe these men gave a higher respect for reason than they really did. Taken from the Scriptures, John Calvin himself promoted this tradition. Further, Montesquieu and Locke understood the Natural Law tradition from Calvin and the Reformers. Morris rejected the authority of human reason for the Kingship of Christ:
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.
A man who believed in total depravity, as Morris did would not exalt man's reason as the rationalists did:
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
. [bold face mine]

--TO JOHN PARISH. February 18th, 1806.
The above quote refers to God's moral authority of the world. This is precisely the statement of Grotius and the Christians who denied the correct biblical atonement for the moral atonement theory Grotius and the Arminians believed.

Another comment made in the book referring to Hamilton says:
Although a consistent spokesman for Enlightened principles in politics (p. 22).
However, Hamilton rejected Enlightenment principles. He believed in Calvin's Total Depravity and rejected any human exaltation by learning:

"Experience is a continual comment on the worthlessness of the human race; and the few exceptions we find have the greater right to be valued in proportion as they are rare."

-To Colonel Richard K. Meade, Albany, August 27, 1782.

Hamilton even mentions the enlightenment with disdain by clarifying man becomes more wicked the more he learns:

"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.

The kicker for rejecting Frazer's opinion is eyewitness testimony from one of Morris's best friends, who was an evangelical and claimed Morris was saved, Oct 28, 1816.