The many turns of life did not facilitate the mid week discussion that I was intending regarding the relationship of Madison to John Witherspoon. Therefore, this week I bring in the interesting tidbits about Madison and a good deal about John Witherspoon.
What is striking about Witherspoon is detailed in the ‘Introduction’ of the reference containing his ‘Lecture on Moral Philosophy’ or as otherwise titled ‘Moral Society’. What caught me is the reality that many of the pastors in the US are even more now of the Moderatist perspective then like Witherspoon who was a Populist in the church debates in Scotland. So that you don’t have to look it up, which most of you would not do, here is the quote from the Intro for clarification:
“The Scottish Church at this period was in the midst of a struggle between two parties known as the Moderate and the Popular. Moderatism voiced the new spirit of the age, the new element of liberalism permeating the Church. It was, moreover, as Scottish historians have pointed out, an ecclesiastical policy whose chief feature was the absolute enforcement of the aristocratic law of patronage, whereby in practical disregard of parishioners concerned, church livings were at the disposal of patrons. The Popular party, on the other hand, was the conservative and strictly orthodox party. It earnestly combatted the decline of personal religion and the relaxation of the old standards of faith and conduct, which it claimed were results of the rising tide of liberalism; and it opposed strenuously the undemocratic features of the patronage law. With this party Mr.Witherspoon identified himself, and speedily became its leading champion. All of his early publications owe their inception to this struggle, his anonymous “Ecclesiastical Characteristics” (1753), a bit- ing satire on the Moderates, being the best known and passing through several editions, although his “Essay on Justification” (1756), his “Serious Enquiry into the Stage” (1757), directly inspired by the famous “Doug- las” controversy, and a group of doctrinal sermons print- ed in 1758 and republished in a three volume edition in 1764, with an important additional “Essay on Regeneration”, savored more of his calling and won for him reputation as a dauntless defender of personal piety and simple evangelical truth.” I don’t have time to get to what I believe is the cross pollination of Moderatism even into ‘Biblical Evangelical’ Churches in the US such that they are in the least – take on the ‘enforcement of aristocratical law of patronage’ concepts over the foundational principles core to the American Revolution. My simplistic way of saying they misspeak Romans 13. But that is for a midweek conversation.
Getting back to James Madison, he was a student of Witherspoon and although unique in his studies, he obviously gained much insight to the over all perspective of the true Reformation principles regarding a Christian involvement in governance. Witherspoon lived the example as a Minister, President of Princeton and Political Patriot Leader serving the Citizenry.
I get back to Federalist #10, which I will not finish since there is so much to delve into that is so pertinent to the present. The key is that although there will always be ‘Factions’ in civil society, the principles of self-governance should be the dominant guide for executing the core principles of Constitutionalism.
This is the last week that we will putting anything up on FaceBook and most likely YouTube. We will completely host the audio and video archives at samueladamsreturns.net. I hope you will continue to follow the programing there. I also hope that you invest in my books as well as schedule either Mr. Adams to speak or me to bring my seminars to your location.
And because you keep asking!
1. History Channel: 10 Things You May Not Know About James Madison
2. Witherspoon: Lectures on Moral Philosophy (Society)
3. Moderatism: Moderate Party (Scotland)