Classic Works of Apologetics - Eternal Rewards and PunishmentsClassic Works of Apologetics Online
Eternal Rewards and Punishments
The Christian doctrine of future rewards and punishments serves to regulate our conduct in this life.
"There are many promises in the NT of a reward not only in this life but also in the world to come-'a hundredfold now and in the world to come eternal life' (Mark 10: 29, 30); give to the poor, and there is to be treasure in heaven (Luke 18: 22). Complementary to the promise of rewards is the warning of punishments (Matt. 22: 13). However, the rewards are promised by Jesus (Mark 8: 35) to those who follow him from motives other than for the sake of the rewards, such as 'for my sake and the gospel's', and it is possible that the references to reward are a recognition that the ideal of self-forgetfulness is not obtainable by obsessive self-scrutiny and discipline. Reward was not the goal of ethical goodness; neither was its possibility to be deliberately suppressed."
--"reward" A Dictionary of the Bible, by W. R. F. Browning. Oxford University Press Inc.
Disclaimer: This webpage includes appraisals from a Deist (Anthony Collins) and Unitarians (John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson) advocating rewards and punishments in the afterlife.
Adams, President John
Second American President. Read more about President Adams here. Disclaimer: Adams shifted from Congregationalist to Unitarian.
The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a life of the author, notes and illustrations. Boston, 1850-1856. 579 pp. Volume 3 of 10. Diary. Extracts.
"The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity, and humanity, let the blackguard Paine say what he will; it is resignation to God, it is goodness itself to man."
... "One great advantage of the Christian religion is, that it brings the great principle of the law of nature and nations, -- Love your neighbor as yourself, and do to others as you would that others should do to you, -- to the knowledge, belief, and veneration of the whole people. Children, servants, women, and men, are all professors in the science of public and private morality. No other institution of education, no kind of political discipline, could diffuse this kind of necessary information, so universally among all ranks and descriptions of citizens. The duties and rights of the man and the citizen are thus taught from early infancy to every creature. The sanctions of a future life are thus added to the observance of civil and political, as well as domestic and private duties. Prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude, are thus taught to be the means and conditions of future as well as present happiness."
[DRAFT OF A NEWSPAPER COMMUNICATION, AUGUST? 1770.]
"The Good of the governed is the End, and Rewards and Punishments are the Means of all Government. The Government of the Supream and alperfect Mind, over all his intellectual Creation, is by proportioning Rewards to Piety and Virtue, and Punishments to Disobedience and Vice. Virtue, by the Constitution of Nature carries in general its own Reward, and Vice its own Punishment, even in this World. But as many Exceptions to this Rule, take Place upon Earth, the Joys of Heaven are prepared, and the Horrors of Hell in a future State to render the moral Government of the Universe, perfect and compleat. Human Government is more or less perfect, as it approaches nearer or diverges farther from an Imitation of this perfect Plan of divine and moral Government."
The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a life of the author, notes and illustrations. Boston, 1850-1856. 528 pp. Volume 10 of 10. TO F. A. VANDERKEMP, 27 DECEMBER, 1816.
"Let it once be revealed or demonstrated that there is no future state, and my advice to every man, woman and child would be, as our existence would be in our own power, to take opium. For, I am certain, there is nothing in this world worth living for but hope, and every hope will fail us, if the last hope, that of a future state, is extinguished."
The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a life of the author, notes and illustrations. Boston, 1850-1856. 528 pp. Volume 10 of 10. TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, 8 DECEMBER, 1818.
"I know not how to prove, physically, that we shall meet and know each other in a future state; nor does revelation, as I can find, give us any positive assurance of such a felicity. My reasons for believing it, as I do most undoubtedly, are that I cannot conceive such a being could make such a species as the human, merely to live and die on this earth. If I did not believe a future state, I should believe in no God. This universe, this all, this [Hebrew word for 'totality'], would appear, with all its swelling pomp, a boyish fire-work. And, if there be a future state, why should the Almighty dissolve forever all the tender ties which unite us so delightfully in this world, and forbid us to see each other in the next?"
Adams, President John Quincy
Sixth American President. Note: Bill Haymin, "Letters of John Quincy Adams to His Son." American Chronicle, January 12, 2008. "In his later years Adams was associated with the Unitarian Church, yet, Unitarianism at this time was much different than it is today. For one, it was firmly rooted in the Bible. Adams believed in the divine nature of the Holy Scriptures and the assertion that Christ was God. Unitarians were described in the Theological Dictionary of 1823 in these words:
"In common with other Christians, they confess that He [Jesus] is the Christ, the Son of the Living God; and in one word, they believe all that the writers of the New Testament, particularly the four Evangelists, have stated concerning him." Entry by Rev. Charles Buck, A Theological Dictionary Containing Definitions of All Religious Terms. Philadelphia: Edwin T. Scott, 1823, p. 582. See here for more about Adams's faith.
Read more about President Adams here, here and here.
Letters of John Quincy Adams to His Son on the Bible and Its Teachings. Auburn: James M. Alden, 1850. 128 pp.
"There are three points of doctrine the belief of which forms the foundation of all morality. The first is the existence of God; the second is the immortality of the human soul; and the third is a future state of rewards and punishments. Suppose it possible for a man to disbelieve either of these three articles of faith and that man will have no conscience, he will have no other law than that of the tiger or the shark. The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy."
... "But, it is the God of the Hebrews alone, who is announced to us as the Creator of the world. The ideas of God entertained by all the most illustrious and most ingenious nations of antiquity were weak and absurd. The Persians worshipped the sun; the Egyptians believed in an innumerable multitude of gods, and worshipped not only oxen, crocodiles, dogs, and cats, but even garlics and onions. The Greeks invented a poetical religion, and adored men and women, virtues and vices, air, water, and fire, and everything that a vivid imagination could personify. Almost all the Greek philosophers reasoned and meditated upon the nature of the gods; but scarcely any of them reflected enough even to imagine that there was but one God, and not one of them ever conceived of him as the Creator of the world. Cicero has collected together all their opinions upon the nature of the gods, and pronounced them more like the dreams of madmen than the sober judgment of wise men. In the first book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, there is an account of the change of chaos in the world. Before the sea, and the earth, and the sky that surrounds all things (says Ovid), there was a thing called chaos, and some of the gods (he does not know which), separated from each other the elements of this chaos, and turned them into the world; thus far and no farther could human reason extend. But the first words of the Bible are, 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.' The blessed and sublime idea of God, as the creator of the universe, the source of all human happiness for which all the sages and philosophers of Greece and Rome groped in darkness and never found, is recalled in the first verse of the book of Genesis. I call it the source of all human virtue and happiness; because when we have attained the conception of a Being, who by the mere act of his will, created the world, it would follow as an irresistible consequence--even if we were not told that the same Being must also be the governor of his own creation--that man, with all other things, was also created by him, and must hold his felicity and virtue on the condition of obedience to his will."
..."The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes adapted to that time only, and to the particular circumstances of the nation to whom it was given; they could of course be binding upon them, and only upon them, until abrogated by the same authority which enacted them, as they afterward were by the Christian dispensation: but many others were of universal application -- laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation which ever professed any code of laws."
Extract from Volume 6, 1916. 508 pages. Original from the University of California.
"Now in the sermon upon the mount much is said about the kingdom of Heaven, and those who alone shall enter it. The preacher of that sermon announced himself as a being superior at least to human nature. If you say that he was a mere ordinary man, you include him also in the class of those who are not competent to dogmatize upon the system of the universe. You, or at least I,
can by no possible process of reasoning consider him as a
mere man, without at the same time pronouncing him an
Impostor. You ask me what Bible I take as the standard of my faith? the Hebrew, the Samaritan, the old English
translation, or what? I answer, the Bible containing the
sermon upon the mount? any Bible that I can read and
understand. The New Testament I have repeatedly read in the original Greek, in the Latin, in the Genevan protestant,
and in Sacy's Catholic French translations, in Luther's
German translation, in the common English protestant, and
in the Douay English Catholic (Jesuitical) translations. I
take any one of them for my standard of faith. If Socinus
or Priestley had made a fair translation of the Bible, I would have taken that, but without their comments. I would also
give up all the passages upon which any sound suspicion
of interpretation can be fastened. But the sermon upon the
mount commands me to lay up for myself treasures, not
upon earth, but in Heaven. My hopes of a future life are
all founded upon the Gospel of Christ, and I cannot cavil or
quibble away, not single words and ambiguous expressions,
but the whole tenor of his conduct, by which he sometimes
positively asserted, and at others countenanced his disciples
in asserting that he was God. You think it blasphemous
to believe that the omnipotent Creator could be
crucified. God is a spirit. The spirit was not crucified.
The body of Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. The Spirit
whether eternal or created was beyond the reach of the
cross. You see my orthodoxy grows upon me, and I still unite with you in the doctrine of toleration and benevolence." pp. 134-135.
Charter of the University of Georgia Preamble.
"As it is the distinguishing happiness of free governments that civil Order should be the Result of choice and not necessity, and the common wishes of the People become the Laws of the Land, their public prosperity and even existence very much depends upon suitably forming the minds and morals of their Citizens. When the Minds of people in general are viciously disposed and unprincipled and their Conduct disorderly, a free government will be attended with greater Confusions and with Evils more horrid than the wild, uncultivated State of Nature. It can only be happy where the public principles and Opinions are properly directed and their Manners regulated. This is an influence beyond the Stretch of Laws and punishments and can be claimed only by Religion and Education. It should therefore be among the first objects of those who wish well to the national prosperity to encourage and support the principles of Religion and morality, and early to place the youth under the forming hand of Society that by instruction they may be moulded to the love of Virtue and good Order."
Universalist minister, Falmouth.
Barnes vs. Inhabitants of the First Parish in Falmouth.
N.p., c.1810. 16 pp. Contained in 6 Mass. Reports, p. 404, &c.
"The object of a free civil government is the promotion and security of the happiness of the citizens. These effects cannot be produced, but by the knowledge and practice of our moral duties, which comprehend all the social and civil obligations of man to man, and the citizen to the State. If the civil magistrate in any State, could procure by his regulations an uniform practice of these duties, the government of that State would be perfect.
"To obtain that perfection, it is not enough for the magistrate to define the rights of the several citizens, as they are related to life, liberty, property and reputation, and to punish those by whom they may be invaded. Wise laws, made to this end, and faithfully executed, may leave the people strangers to many of the enjoyments of civil and social life, without which their happiness will be extremely imperfect. Human laws cannot oblige to the performance of the duties of imperfect obligation; as the duties of charity and hospitality, benevolence and good neighbourhood; as the duties resulting from the relation of husband and wife, parent and child; of man to man as children of a common parent; and of real patriotism, by influencing every citizen to love his country, and to obey all its laws. These are moral duties, flowing from the disposition of the heart, and not subject to the control of human legislation.
"Neither can the laws prevent by temporal punishment, secret offences committed without witness, to gratify malice, revenge, or any other passion, by assailing the most important and most estimable rights of others. For human tribunals cannot proceed against any crimes unless ascertained by evidence; and they are destitute of all power to prevent the commission of offences, unless by the feeble examples exhibited in the punishment of those who may be detected.
"Civil government, therefore, availing itself only of its own powers, is extremely defective; and unless it could derive assistance from some superior power, whose laws extend to the temper and disposition of the human heart, and before whom no offence is secret; wretched indeed would be the state of man under a civil constitution of any form.
"This most manifest truth has been felt by legislators in all ages; and as man is born not only a social but a religious being, so in the pagan world, false and absurd systems of religion were adopted and patronized by the magistrate, to remedy the defects necessarily existing in a government merely civil.
"On these principles tested by the experience of mankind, and by the reflections of reason, the people of Massachusetts, in the frame of their government, adopted and patronized a religion, which by its benign and energetic influences, might co-operate with human institutions, to promote and secure the happiness of the citizens, so far as might be consistent with the imperfections of man.
"In selecting a religion, the people were not exposed to the hazard of choosing a false and defective religious system; Christianity had long been promulgated, its pretensions and excellencies well known, and its divine authority admitted. This religion was found to rest on the basis of immortal truth; to contain a system of morals adapted to man in all possible ranks and conditions, situations and circumstances, by conforming to which he would be ameliorated and improved in all the relations of human life; and to furnish the most efficacious sanctions, by bringing to light a future state of retribution. And this religion as understood by Protestants, tending by its effects to make every man, submitting to its influences, a better husband, parent, child, neighbour, citizen and magistrate, was, by the people, established as a fundamental and essential part of their Constitution.
"The manner in which this establishment was made, is liberal, and consistent with the rights of conscience on religious subjects. As religious opinions, and the time and manner of expressing the homage due to the Governor of the Universe, are points depending on the sincerity and belief of each individual, and do not concern the public interest, care is taken in the second article of the Declaration of Rights, to guard these points from the interference of the civil magistrate; and no man can be hurt, molested or restrained in his person, liberty or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience, or for his religious profession or sentiment, provided he does not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship; in which case he is punished, not for his religious opinions or worship, but because he interrupts others in the enjoyment of the rights he claims for himself, or because he has broken the public peace."
The Great Duties of Life. In three parts. I. With respect to the supreme being. II. With respect to the laws of morality. III. With respect to the law of Christ. Examined By the Standard of Right Reason, and established on the most Natural Dictates of it, against the Deists, Free-Thinkers, and other Modern Infidels. Wherein, All their Objections against the Existence of Evil, Providence, a Future State, the Immortality of the Soul, Rewards and Punishments of the next Life, and the Divine Institution of Christianity, are set in all the Light they deserve; and shewn to be Vain and Illusory, when compared with the most just and forcible Reasons, for the Obligations of Religion, both Natural and Revealed. With A Preface, shewing the dismal Effects of Infidelity and Irreligion, from the Beginning of the World, down to this present Generation. By S.B. Gent. London, MDCCXXXVIII. . 422 pp.
English divine. (TM): There are few names more honored in the history of the Anglican church than that of the theologian, apologist, and philosopher Joseph Butler (1692-1752), Bishop of Durham.
Read more about Butler here.
The Analogy of Religion natural and revealed, to the constitution and course of nature. To which are added, two brief dissertations: I. On personal identity. II. On the nature of virtue. Together with a charge delivered to the clergy of the diocese of Durham, in the year MDCCLI. By Joseph Butler. A new edition, corrected. With a preface by Samuel Halifax. London: printed for F. and C. Rivington, G. Wilkie, W. Otridge, J. Deighton, and Cadell and Davies, 1798. iv, xlix, , 408 pp. 1863 edition here. 1873 edition here. CCEL edition.
The foundation of all our hopes and fears is a future life; and with this the treatise begins. Neither the reason of the thing, nor the analogy of nature, according to Bishop Butler, give ground for imagining, that the unknown event, death, will be our destruction. The states in which we have formerly existed, in the womb and in infancy, are not more different from each other than from that of mature age in which we now exist: therefore, that we shall continue to exist hereafter, in a state as different from the present as the present is from those through which we have passed already, is a presumption favoured by the analogy of nature.
... The probability of a future state once granted, an important question arises, How best to secure our interest in that state. We find from what passes daily before us, that the constitution of nature admits of misery as well as happiness; that both of these are the consequences of our own actions; and these consequences we are enabled to foresee.
Therefore, that our happiness or misery in a future world may depend on our own actions also, and that rewards or punishments hereafter may follow our good or ill behaviour here, is but an appointment of the same sort with what we experience under the divine government, according to the regular course of nature.
(TM): The Analogy of Religion has long been recognized as one of the masterpieces of Christian apologetics. The deists, who were a rising force in England in the early 18th century, acknowledged the existence of a divine author of nature who had created the universe and given man a moral conscience; but they objected to the idea of special revelation, often attacked miracles, and criticized the character of God as he is revealed in the Old Testament. Butler's response was to show that the Christian revelation, though surpassing knowledge that can be acquired from nature, is nevertheless analogous to the order of nature. Objections to the character of God on account of events recorded in the Old Testament, for example, could equally well be used against the author of nature.
Butler is a thoughtful and careful writer, and his discussion of the particular evidence for Christianity in Part II of the Analogy, though brief, shows a profound appreciation for the nature of a cumulative case argument. The work is available in multiple editions. At the end of his long life, the four-time Prime Minister of England, the Rt. Hon. William Ewart Gladstone, paid a handsome compliment to Butler by writing Studies Subsidiary to the Works of Bishop Butler (1896).
"By the certain knowledge of these rewards and punishments it is that the practice of virtue is now established upon a sure foundation. Men have now abundantly sufficient encouragement to support them in their choice of virtue, and in their constant adherence to it, in all cases and under all circumstances that can be supposed. There is now sufficient weight on the side of virtue to enable men to conquer all the temptations of the devil, the flesh, and the world; and to despise the severest threatenings, even death itself. This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. The only difficulty in this matter, arising from the duration of the final punishment of the wicked, shall be considered when I come to discourse of the articles of our belief."
A Vindication of the histories of the Old and New Testament. Part III. Containing some observations on the nature of angels, and the scriptural account of the fall and redemption of mankind. In a series of letters to a young nobleman. By Dr. Robert Clayton, Lord Bishop of Clogher, fellow of the Royal Society, and of the Society of Antiquaries, London. [London], MDCCLVIII. . 170 pp.
"His chief work, A Discourse of Freethinking, occasioned by the Rise and Growth of a Sect called Freethinkers (1713). Notwithstanding the ambiguity of its title, and the fact that it attacks the priests of all churches without moderation, it contends for the most part, at least explicitly, for no more than must be admitted by every Protestant. Freethinking is a right which cannot and must not be limited, for it is the only means of attaining to a knowledge of truth, it essentially contributes to the well-being of society, and it is not only permitted but enjoined by the Bible. In fact the first introduction of Christianity and the success of all missionary enterprise involve freethinking (in its etymological sense) on the part of those converted." -- Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911 edition.
"If man was not a necessary agent, determined by pleasure and pain, there would be no foundation for rewards and punishments, which are the essential supports of society.
"For if men were not necessarily determined by pleasure and pain, or if pleasure and pain were no causes to determine men's wills; of what use would be the prospect of rewards to frame a man's will to the observation of the law, or punishments to hinder his transgression thereof? Were pain, as such, eligible, and pleasure, as such, avoidable; rewards and punishments could be no motives to a man, to make him do or forbear any action. But if pleasure and pain have a necessary effect on men, and if it be impossible for men not to choose what seems good to them, and not to avoid what seems evil, the necessity of rewards and punishments is then evident, and rewards will be of use to all those who conceive those rewards to be pleasure, and punishments will be of use to all those who conceive them to be pain; and rewards and punishments will frame those men's wills to observe and not transgress the laws."
Professor of Arabic, Cambridge, educated at St John's College.
The Child's Christian education: or, spelling and reading made easy. Being the most proper introduction to the profitable reading the Holy Bible, &c. In five parts. Containing, I. An Alphabet, illustrated with Cuts; and easy Lessons of Monosyllables, leading Children gradually from Spelling to Reading in a very short Time. II. Tables of Words, from two to five Syllables, with their proper Divisions and Accents. III. A plain and impartial Account of the whole Faith and Duty of a Christian: Collected out of the Writings of the Old and New Testament: Digested under proper Heads, and delivered in the Words of Scripture, &c. IV. Rules for Spelling. The Use of Stops. Bishop Ken's three Hymns. Questions with Answers out of the Scripture. Prayers for Children. The Bishop of Sodor and Man's Admonition to Masters of Families, &c. V. An Exposition of the Church Catechism, collected from our best Divines; namely, Archbishop Wake, Bishop Williams, Bishop Burnet, Bishop Beveridge, Dr Worthington, Dr Isham, Dr Stobbing, Dr Bishop, &c. The seventh edition. By the Reverend Mr Fisher, (late of Whickham) Now Master of the Grammar School in Cockermouth. Designed for the Use of Schools and Families. London, MDCCLXIII. . 107 pp.
A Founding Father of the United States of America. Author, printer, satirist, political theorist, politician, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. While he is considered to be a deist, we include him here because he did promote Christian values. Read more about Franklin here, here, here, and in The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.
Professor of law at the University of Michigan. Read about Goddard here.
The Law in the United States in its Relation to Religion.
From Michigan Law Review, v. 10, n. 3. January 1912, pp. 161-177. Cited in Appellee's Brief, People of the State of Illinoi Ex Rel. Vashti McCollum v. Board of Education of Schooll District no. 71, Champaign County, Illinois (Appellees).
"It has often been suggested that this provision of the Constitution [Article VI, Section 3] grew out of the influence of French atheism, especially upon Franklin and Jefferson, and through them upon the whole Constitutional Convention. But Jefferson was not a member of that convention, being in Europe as Ambassador to France at that time. Every one of its members was a believer in God, and in future reward and punishment, and most of them, including the presiding officer, Washington, were church members."
Observations on Man, his frame, his duty, and his expectations. In two parts. London, 1791. Volume 1 of 3, 531 pp., Volume 2, 469 pp., Volume 3, 351 pp. Vol. 3 has title: 'Notes and additions to Dr. Hartley's Observations on man', London, printed for J. Johnson, 1791./ Vols. 2-3 have continuous pagination./ Reproduction of original from the Harvard University Libraries. This work was recommended by Joseph Priestley to Benjamin Franklin. (Priestley, Joseph. Memoirs of Dr. Joseph Priestley to the year 1795. Volume 1, page 99. London, 1825. 499 pp. 2 vols.)
Sermons. By Samuel Hoole. A.M. The second edition. To which is added, a discourse first delivered in the beginning of the year 1793. [Salisbury], 1795. 264 pp.
An Inquiry concering [sic] the future state of those who die in their sins: Wherein the dictates of Scripture and reason, upon this important subject, are carefully considered; and whether endless punishment be consistent with divine justice, wisdom and goodness: in which also objections are stated and answered. By Samuel Hopkins, A.M. Pastor of the First Congregational Church in Newport. [Two lines of Scripture text].
Newport, Rhode-Island: Printed by Solomon Southwick. 1783. , vi, 194 p. 19 cm. (4to)
A Founding Father of the United States. Principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Third American President. Horticulturist, statesman, architect, archaeologist, inventor, and founder of the University of Virginia. Read about President Jefferson here.
Henry Stephens Randall. The Life of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 3 of 3. New York: Derby and Jackson, 1858. Chapter 14: 1826-1848. This chapter documents Jefferson's views on religion.
"Mr. Jefferson was a public professor of his belief in the Christian religion. In all his most important early Slate papers, much as his Summary View of the Rights of British America, his portion of the Declaration made by Congress on the Causes of taking up Arms, the Declaration of Independence, the draft of a Constitution for Virginia, etc., there are more or less pointed recognitions of God and Providence. In his two Inaugural Addresses as President of the United States, and in many of his annual messages he makes the same recognitions--clothes them on several occasions in the most explicit language--substantially avows the God of his faith to be the God of revelation--declares his belief in the efficacy of prayer, and the duty of ascription- of praise to the Author of all mercies--and speaks of the Christian religion as professed in his country as a benign religion, evincing the favor of Heaven.1
Had his wishes been consulted, the symbol borne on our national seal would have contained our public profession of Christianity as a nation.2
There is nothing in his writings or in the history of his life to show that his public declarations were insincere, or thrown out for mere effect.3 On the contrary, his most confidential writings sustain his public professions, and advance beyond them into the avowal of a belief in a future state of rewards and punishments.4
4 This is implied in his letter to Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, June 26th, 1822. And if the inference needed any support it will be found in the fact that while he repeatedly dissents from doctrines imputed to Christ, he nowhere in his writings dissents from this one, which he enumerates as a cardinal doctrine of the Saviour and as "tending to the happiness of man." The letter to Waterhouse will be found in Randolph's edition of his Works, vol. 1v. p. 349; in the congress edition, vol. vii, p. 252.
To Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse. June 26, 1822. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 15; by Albert Ellery Bergh. 20 vols. Washington: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1907. (Memorial Edition) vol. 15, pp. 383-384.
"The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man:
1. That there is one only God, and He all perfect.
2. That there is a future state of rewards and punishments.
3. That to love God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself, is the sum of religion....
... Had the doctrines of Jesus been preached always as pure as they came from his lips, the whole civilized world would now have been Christian."
On General Henry Knox: General Knox was a supporter of christian institutions, and contributed much, by his liberality and his example, to promote the preaching of the gospel. It always appeared to afford him the highest pleasure to bear testimony to the excellence of Christianity, and he often expressed his firm belief that its exalted principles were intended to correct the heart, and to purify the life; to make man what he ought to be in this world, and to prepare him for the more elevated enjoyments of the future. He most firmly believed in the immortality, and the immateriality of the soul.
From his reflections on religion, committed by him to paper, it is evident that his thoughts were often and intensely employed on the all important concerns of a future state of existence; that he firmly believed in an overruling Providence, and that he was created and sustained by its power and goodness. He considered the order, harmony and beauty of creation, as affording the most convincing proof of wisdom and design. He thought the universal distribution of blessings among mankind, furnished conclusive evidence of the goodness of the Being from whose bounty they flow. But it was a subject on which he reasoned for himself, unfettered by the arrogant dogmas of the churchmen, or the metaphysical subtleties of the schools. He expressed exalted pleasure in the full conviction, that the arm of Almighty Power was extended for the protection of the whole family of man, without respect to Jew or Gentile. The exclusive pretensions of the various sects and denominations in the church, he considered the fruits of human invention, and altogether unworthy the wisdom of the Almighty Mind. -- p. 466.
(TM): John Leland, an English dissenting (Presbyterian) minister who settled in Dublin, well deserves Hunt's description as 'the indefatigable opponent of the whole generation of the deists.' Near the end of his life he began writing a series of letters to a friend regarding the history of the controversy, and the result was this massive work, the only tolerably complete contemporary survey of the vast literature on both sides. Read more about Leland here
A View of the Principal Deistical Writers that have appeared in England in the last and present century: with observations upon them, and some account of the answers that have been published against them; in several letters to a friend. The Fifth edition. London: Printed by W. Richardson and S. Clark, for R. and J. Dodsley in Pall-Mall, and T. Longman in Pater-oster-Row. 1766. Volume 1 of 2. 443 pp. Volume 2 of 2. 463 pp.
A View of the principal deistical writers that have appeared in England in the last and present century: with observations upon them, and some account of the answers that have been published against them; in several letters to a friend. London: Published by W. Baynes, Bookseller, 54, Paternoster Row, 1808. Volume 1 of 2. 508 pp. Volume 2 of 2. 508 pp.
(TM): The casual origin of Leland's View still shows in the disproportionate space given to the work of Lord Bolingbroke, who is no longer considered to be a major figure. But as Leland's survey runs to over 900 pages, there is no lack of material on other deists such as Blount, Toland, Collins, Morgan, Tindal, Annet, Chubb, and Hume, in each case citing copiously from the responses given to them. Students of the history of apologetics will want to supplement their reading of Leland with other works, such as the second volume of John Hunt's Religious Thought in England and Sir Leslie Stephen's unsympathetic but extensive discussion of the deist controversy in his History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century. But no one interested in 18th century apologetics can afford to be without Leland's work.
The View is of much more than merely historical value; because it gives a minute account of numerous responses to the deists, it contains a comprehensive defense of Christianity against all of the objections that its most determined adversaries in the Enlightenment could raise. Leland's own summary of the controversy shows that he understood both the magnitude of the issues and the nature of the achievement of the defenders of Christianity:
They [the deists] have appealed to the bar of reason; the advocates for Christianity have followed them to that bar, and have fairly shewn, that the evidences of revealed religion are such as approve themselves to impartial reason, and, if taken together, are fully sufficient to satisfy an honest and unprejudiced mind. (Letter 35)
"I take it for granted that a system of rewards and punishments is necessary to efficient government. The laws of our physical organization involve such a system. He who regards these laws is rewarded by a healthy, sound action of the body, while he who puts them at defiance, is punished with sickness, pain, and an enfeebled constitution. Rewards and punishments are among the essential elements of a peaceful and prosperous community. They occupy an important place in the moral government of God.
"The Bible clearly teaches the doctrine of reward. Moses chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. He considered reproach for Christ's sake greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt. The reason assigned is, that he had respect unto the recompense of reward. David declared, 'Verily there is a reward for the righteous.' Retribution was constantly held up by the prophets. 'If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured by the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.' Our Lord and his apostles constantly exhibited this principle in the divine government. Paul says, 'He that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of all them that diligently seek him.'"
(c. 18th Century)
Discourses on the Following Peculiar and Important Subjects: I. The nature and extent of repentance. II. Faith imputed for righteousness. III. The Lord's sufficiency, and Man's obedience. IV. Christ Man's Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, &c. V. Paul's Fighting, Running, Faith, and Crown. VI. The Lord works, and Man works. Vii. All Things being dissolved, &c. Viii. God's Judgment according to Truth. IX. Rewards and Punishments according to Works. X. Sinning and perishing without, and with the Law. XI. The Lord's foreknowledge, predestinating, calling, &c. XII. Sodom consumed. XIII. Jacob's Vision. XIV. Jacob's Wrestling. XV. Pharaoh's Ignorance and Disobedience. XVI. Preachers described, and the people advised. By Nicholas Manners. York, MDCCXCI. . 184 pp.
American statesman. Signer of the United States Constitution and the namesake of Fort McHenry, the bombardment of which inspired The Star-Spangled Banner. Delegate to the Continental Congress from Maryland, and the third United States Secretary of War from January 27, 1796 to May 13, 1800, under Presidents George Washington and John Adams. Read about McHenry here, here, and here.
In 1813, James McHenry prepared an Address of the Bible Society of Baltimore to the Citizens of the State of Maryland, reprinted in the Report of the Maryland Bible Society for 1903.
McHenry: "All Christians allow that the Old and New Testaments taken together, are the only books in the world which clearly reveal the nature of God, contain a perfect law for our government, propose the most powerful persuasions to obey this law, and furnish the best motives for patience and resignation, under every circumstance and vicissitude of life. Even those writers who deny their divinity, have yet acknowledged that the matters contained in them are, at last, calculated to make mankind wiser and better. These surprising and salutary effects the scriptures have unequivocally produced, and whenever they are read and attended to, will continue to produce. Facts so fully ascertained and so clearly demonstrating the great importance of circulating the sacred writings have (within these few years past) called the attention of men more particularly to this subject, and given rise to the establishment of Societies whse object is to encourage their circulation, by promoting the printing of them in all languages, and their distribution gratis, whenever they coud not be otherwise obtained."
... "[P]ublic utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures. The doctrine they preach, the obligations they impose, the punishment they threaten, the rewards they promise, the stamp and image of divinity they bear, which produces a conviction of their truths, can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability and usefulness. In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses, and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience."
Scottish Episcopal clergyman and Jacobite sympathizer.
"I am now to treat of religion, and of the claims which it has upon the acknowledgement and support of him, who sustains the character of an advocate In our courts of justice. The worship of a Supreme Cause and the belief of a future state, have not only, in general, been concomitant, but have so universally engaged the concurrence of mankind, that they who have pretended to teach the contrary, have been looked upon in every age and state of society, as men opposing the pure emotions of our nature. This Supreme Cause, it is true, has been prefigured to the imagination by symbols suited to the darkness and ignorance of unlettered ages; but the great and secret original has nevertheless been the same in the contemplation of the simplest heathen and the most refined Christian. There must have been something exceedingly powerful in an idea that has made so prodigious a progress in the mind of man. The opinions of men have experienced a thousand changes; kingdoms that have been most powerful have been removed; the form of the earth itself has undergone various alterations; but amidst these grand and ruinous concussions, religion has remained unshaken; and a principle so consentaneous to the first formation of our nature must remain, until by some power, of which, at present we have no conception, the laws of that nature are universally dissolved. Powers thus singular must have their foundation in truth; for men may rest in truth, but they can never rest in error. To charm the human mind, and to maintain its monstrous empire, error must, ere this, have chosen innumerable shapes, all, too, wearing, more or less, the semblance of truth. And what is thus true must be also just; and of course, to acknowledge its influence must be the spontaneous and natural effusion of a love of truth; and the love of truth either is really, or is affected to be, the character of those who have dedicated themselves to the study of our laws. Thus naturally, even upon the first glance, do the characters of the lawyer and the supporter of religion meet; the conclusion must be, that he who affects to doubt of the fundamental truths of religion, much more he who dares to deride them, is dissolving by fraud and violence, a tie which all good men have agreed to hold in respect, and the violation of which must render the violator unworthy the esteem and support of his fellow creatures."-pp. 372-373.
Supreme Court justice. Read more about Story here. and here.
A Familiar exposition of the Constitution of the United States: Containing a brief commentary on every clause, explaining the true nature, reasons, and objects thereof: designed for the use of school libraries and general readers: with an appendix, containing important public documents, illustrative of the Constitution. New York, 1865. 369 pp.
§442. "Indeed, the right of a society or government to [participate] in matters of religion will hardly be contested by any persons who believe that piety, religion, and morality are intimately connected with the well being of the state and indispensable to the administrations of civil justice. The promulgation of the great doctrines of religion-the being, and attributes, and providence of one Almighty God; the responsibility to Him for all our actions, founded upon moral accountability; a future state of rewards and punishments; the cultivation of all the personal, social, and benevolent virtues-these never can be a matter of indifference in any well-ordered community. It is, indeed, difficult to conceive how any civilized society can well exist without them."
One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is, that Christianity is a part of the common law, from which it seeks the sanction of its rights, and by which it endeavours to regulate its doctrines. And, notwithstanding the specious objection of one of our distinguished statesmen, the boast is as true as it is beautiful. There never has been a period, in which the common law did not recognise Christianity as lying at its foundations.*
* See the remarks of Mr. Justice Park, in Smith v. Sparrow, 4 Bing. R. 84, 88.
For many ages it was almost exclusively administered by those, who held its ecclesiastical dignities. It now repudiates every act done in violation of its duties of perfect obligation. It pronounces illegal every contract offensive to its morals. It recognises with profound humility its holidays and festivals, and obeys them, as dies non juridici.
... [T]he Law of Nature ... lies at the foundation of all other laws, and constitutes the first step in the science of jurisprudence. The law of nature is nothing more than those rules, which human reason deduces from the various relations of man; to form his character, and regulate his conduct, and thereby ensure his permanent happiness. It embraces a survey of his duties to God, his duties to himself, and his duties to his fellow men; deducing from those duties a corresponding obligation. It considers man, not merely in his private relations as a social being, but as a subject and magistrate, called upon to frame, administer, or obey laws, and owing allegiance to his country and government, and bound, from the protection he derives from the institutions of society, to uphold and protect them in return. It is, therefore, in the largest sense, the philosophy of morals; what Justinian has defined justice to be, 'constans et perpetua voluntas jus suuum cuique tribuendi;' or what may be denominated national jurisprudence, as expounded in the same authority; 'divinarum atque humanarum rerum notitia, justi atque injusti scientia.' With us, indeed, who form a part of the Christian community of nations, the law of nature has a higher sanction, as it stands supported and illustrated by revelation. Christianity, while with many minds it acquires authority from its coincidences with the law of nature, as deduced from reason, has added strength and dignity to the latter by its positive declarations. It goes farther. It unfolds our duties with far more clearness and perfection than had been known before its promulgation; and has given a commanding force to those of imperfect obligation. It relieves the mind from many harassing doubts and disquietudes, and imparts a blessed influence to the peaceful and benevolent virtues, to mercy, charity, humility, and gratitude. It seems to concentrate all morality in the simple precept of love to God and love to man. It points out the original equality of all mankind in the eyes of the Supreme Being, and brings down the monarch to the level of his subjects. It thus endeavours to check the arrogance of power, and the oppression of prerogative; and becomes the teacher, as well as the advocate of rational liberty. Above all, by unfolding in a more authoritative manner the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, it connects all the motives and actions of man in his present state with his future interminable destiny. It thus exhorts him to the practice of virtue, by all, that can awaken hope, or secure happiness. It deters him from crimes by all, that can operate upon his fears, his sensibility, or his conscience. It teaches him, that the present life is but the dawn of being; and that in the endless progress of things the slightest movement here may communicate an impulse, which may be felt though eternity. Thus Christianity becomes, not merely an auxiliary, but a guide to the law of nature, establishing its conclusions, removing its doubts, and elevating its precepts.
Bishop of Gloucester. Read more about Warburton here.
Divine Legation of Moses Demonstrated. London: printed for J. and P. Knapton, 1755. Part 1; Part 2.
Divine Legation of Moses Demonstrated. The Fourth Edition, Corrected and Enlarged. London: Printed for A. Millar, and J. and R. Tonson in the Strand, 1765. Volume 1.
Divine Legation of Moses Demonstrated. Printed for T. Tegg, 1837. Volume 1; Volume 2.
Divine Legation of Moses Demonstrated. The Tenth Edition, Carefully Revised. Printed for T. Tegg, 1846. London: Printed By James Nichols, Hoxton-Square.
Volume 1 of 3.
The Author begs leave to assure Those who have no time to
spare from their attention on the Public, that the Protection of Religion is indispensably necessary to all Governments; and for his warrant he offers them the following volume; which endeavours to shew the necessity of RELIGION in general, and of the doctrine of a FUTURE STATE in particular, to civil Society, from the nature of things and the universal consent of Mankind. The proving this, I make no question, many Politicians will esteem sufficient: But those who are solicitious to have Religion TRUE as well as USEFUL, the author will endeavour to satisfy in the following volumes.
Lexicographer. Read more about Noah Webster here and here.
Letters to a young gentleman commencing his education: to which is subjoined a brief history of the United States. New-Haven, 1823. 335 pp.
... 578. "Origin of Civil Liberty. Almost all the civil liberty now enjoyed in the world owes its origin to the principles of the Christian religion. Men began to understand their natural rights, as soon as the reformation from popery began to dawn in the sixteenth century; and civil liberty has been gradually advancing and improving, as genuine Christianity has prevailed. By the principles of the Christian religion we are not to understand the decisions of ecclesiastical councils, for thse are the opinions of mere men; nor are we to suppose that religion to be any particular church established by law, with numerous dignitaries, living in stately palaces, arrayed in gorgeous attire, and rioting in luxury and wealth, squeezed from the scanty earnings of the labouring poor; nor is it a religion which consists in a round of forms, and in pompous rites and ceremonies. No; the religion which has introduced civil liberty, is the religion of Christ and His Apostles, which enjoins humility, piety, and benevolence; which acknowledges in every person a brother, or a sister, and a citizen with equal rights. This is genuine Christianity and to this we owe our free constitutions of government." pp. 273-274.
... 53. "But were we assured that there is to be no future life, and that men are to perish at death like the beasts of the field; the moral principles and precepts contained in the scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. These principles and precepts have truth, immutable truth, for their foundation; and they are adapted to the wants of men in every condition of life. They are the best principles and precepts, because they are exactly adapted to secure the practice of universal justice and kindness among men; and of course to prevent crimes, war, and disorders in society. No human laws dictated by different principles from those in the gospel, can ever secure these objects. All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible." pp. 309-310.
Anglican Archbishop of Dublin. Expert in logic and rhetoric. Read more about Whately here. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911 edition: "While he was at St Alban Hall (1826) the work appeared which is perhaps most closely associated with his name - his treatise on Logic, originally contributed to the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana, in which he raised the study of the subject to a new level. It gave a great impetus to the study of logic throughout Great Britain."
Essays on Some of the Peculiarities of the Christian religion. Oxford: Printed by W. Baxter, for John Murray, London, 1825. , vi-xvi, 285 pp. Contents: On a future state.--On the declaration of God in his Son.--On love towards Christ as a motive to obedience.--On the practical character of revelation.--On the example of children as proposed to Christians. Also here.
"Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other. The divine law, as discovered by reason and the moral sense, forms an essential part of both." p. 106.
"III. Reason and conscience can do much; but still they stand in need of support and assistance. They are useful and excellent monitors; but, at some times, their admonitions are not sufficiently clear; at other times, they are not sufficiently powerful; at all times, their influence is not sufficiently extensive. Great and sublime truths, indeed, would appear to a few; but the world, at large, would be dark and ignorant. The mass of mankind would resemble a chaos, in which a few sparks, that would diffuse a glimmering light, would serve only to show, in a more striking manner, the thick darkness with which they are surrounded. Their weakness is strengthened, their darkness is illuminated, their influence is enlarged by that heaven-descended science, which has brought life and immortality to light. In compassion to the imperfection of our internal powers, our all-gracious Creator, Preserver, and Ruler has been pleased to discover and enforce his laws, by a revelation given to us immediately and directly from himself. This revelation is contained in the holy scriptures. The moral precepts delivered in the sacred oracles form a part of the law of nature, are of the same origin, and of the same obligation, operating universally and perpetually.
"On some important subjects, those in particular, which relate to the Deity, to Providence, and to a future state, our natural knowledge is greatly improved, refined, and exalted by that which is revealed. On these subjects, one who has had the advantage of a common education in a christian country, knows more, and with more certainty, than was known by the wisest of the ancient philosophers.