Doctrine to be Preached
Doct. to be preached
That there is one God Father of the Universe.
That he is infinitely good, powerful and
That he is omnipresent.
That he ought to be worshipped, by Adoration Prayer and
Thanksgiving both in public and in private.
That he loves such of his creatures as love and do good to
others: and will reward them either in this World or
That Men's minds do not die with their bodies, but are made
more happy or miserable after this life according to their
That Virtuous men ought to league together to strengthen the
interest of Virtue, in the World: and so strengthen
themselves in Virtue.
That Knowledge and Learning is to be cultivated, and
That none but the virtuous are wise.
That Man's perfection is in Virtue.
The literacy rate in the colonies was greater than that in
Europe. Men of letters, like John Adams, Thomas Jefferson,
Thomas Paine, and Benjamin Franklin, were men as interested in
science and technology as they were in literature. Franklin in
particular made great strides in our understanding of
electricity, and he made it in spite of, perhaps because of, the
time delay between advances on the continent and their arrival in
America. The gulf that later opened up between the intellectual
and the average American did not exist in the latter eighteenth
century. Franklin became America's elder statesman and
represented America in Europe. He undoubtedly came closer to
representing all Americans than any ambassador since.
When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence he
leaned heavily on John Locke's theory of the rights of man.
Locke had listed two kinds of rights that every man held. The
first were those rights that men can relinquish. These are the
rights that a man may, in a social contract, turn over to the
state. These are called alienable rights. He also developed
another set of rights. These rights, the right to life for
example, no man could voluntarily give up. These are called
inalienable rights. Many scholars are quick to point out that
the impositions that King George III placed on the American
colonies were not particularly burdensome. They may have been
felt more strongly because the colonies were experiencing an
economic downturn at the same time. However, seen from
historical distance, they don't appear to have been so strong as
to call for revolution. Some years after the evolution was over
John Adams wrote to Jefferson and stated this simple fact; 'The
American Revolution was a revolution of ideas. The fighting was
only an aftermath.' John Locke called usurpation the act of a
government of taking alienable rights from the people without
their consent. Tyranny, he said, was the taking of inalienable
rights. As Jefferson stated in the Declaration of Independence,
King George's usurpation of the rights of the American Colonists
was to be considered the first steps toward tyranny. Therefore,
based on the Lokean theory of the right of revolution, it was the
duty of America to overthrow the English rule and establish one
of her own. The real power of this statement was in the simple
fact that it expressed exactly what the people felt.
The followers of Jonathan Edwards added that such tyranny would
remove from them the liberty of following the will of God as each
individual person saw it. The American "Great Awakening" was a
reaction to the enlightenment. Isaac Watts suggested that the
new work of God must begin in America. The prophet Isaiah had
foretold that stirrings would occur in a remote part of the
world. America would be the site of a new earth and new heavens.
It became the duty of every American Christian to shake off the
evil of the old world.
Unlike Europe, America was a fresh start. The American colonies
were not subject to the kind of traditions that were so
fundamental to most European communities. Most Europeans of the
period admired the new sense of freedom that developed in the new
American nation. However, for them it represented a rash step, a
rejection of long-standing traditions. Yet it was purely
rational. Although, as we shall see, the idea that the world is
a rational place remained an unassailable assumption for all
westerners, many Europeans saw the drift towards rationality as a
rejection of tradition and thus as an example of man
overextending his powers. Thus European philosophy from the late
eighteenth century on became involved with a rejection of