To Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse Monticello, June 26, 1822DEAR SIR,
-- I have received and read with thankfulness and
pleasure your denunciation of the abuses of tobacco and wine. Yet,
however sound in its principles, I expect it will be but a sermon to
the wind. You will find it as difficult to inculcate these sanative
precepts on the sensualities of the present day, as to convince an
Athanasian that there is but one God. I wish success to both
attempts, and am happy to learn from you that the latter, at least,
is making progress, and the more rapidly in proportion as our
Platonizing Christians make more stir and noise about it. The
doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man.
- That there is one only God, and he all perfect.
- That there is a future state of rewards and punishments.
- That to love God with all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself, is the sum of religion.
These are the great points on which he endeavored to reform the religion of the Jews. But compare with these the demoralizing dogmas of Calvin.
- That there are three Gods.
- That good works, or the love of our neighbor, are nothing.
- That faith is every thing, and the more incomprehensible the proposition, the more merit in its faith.
- That reason in religion is of unlawful use.
- That God, from the beginning, elected certain individuals to be saved, and certain others to be damned; and that no crimes of the former can damn them; no virtues of the latter save.
But much I fear, that when this great truth shall be re-established, its votaries will fall into the fatal error of fabricating formulas of creed and confessions of faith, the engines which so soon destroyed the religion of Jesus, and made of Christendom a mere Aceldama; that they will give up morals for mysteries, and Jesus for Plato. How much wiser are the Quakers, who, agreeing in the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, schismatize about no mysteries, and, keeping within the pale of common sense, suffer no speculative differences of opinion, any more than of feature, to impair the love of their brethren. Be this the wisdom of Unitarians, this the holy mantle which shall cover within its charitable circumference all who believe in one God, and who love their neighbor!
I conclude my sermon with sincere assurances of my
friendly esteem and respect.