I've finally cracked open Ye Will Say I Am No Christian
, which collects the correspondence of John Adams and Tom Jefferson on the topic of religion. Back in the day, AIM was called letters. And I think Wikipedia was called Jefferson. So far, half the correspondence is roughly like this:
Adams: "Tom, I heard about this thing this one time about the Chickasaw tribe's worship of the Great Spirit. What do you know about it?"
Jefferson: "Why, Jack, I'm surprised. Although it is true that I probably have the only copy in the Americas of De Bry's three volume Latin work from the 16th century that bears on this issue. Naturally, like all of my books, I have memorized them so that I may lay out the following five paragraph theme on the subject for your edification."
Anyway, here are the highlights from reading stint #1:
Adams on the end times and prophecy:
"Dr. Towers who wrote two ponderous volumes, near twenty years ago to prove that the French Revolution was the commencement of the Millennium... Nor than Dr. Priestley [the chemist] who told me soberly ... that the king of France, who had been executed, was the first of the Ten Horns of the great Beast... Nor than the Reverend Mr. Faber who has lately written a very elegant and learned volume to prove that Napoleon is Antichrist; nor that our worthy friend, r. Joseph Wharton ... [who[ has settled his opinion that the city of London is, or is to be, the Headquarters of Antichrist ... The Crusades were commenced by the prophets and every age since, whenever any great turmoil happens in the world, has produced fresh prophets. The continual refutation of all their prognostications by time and experience has no effect in extinguishing or damping their ardor."
Adams later on prophets: "I had forgotten the custom of putting prophets in the stocks, and was obliged to have recourse to the Concordance to discover Jer. 29.26 for your text, and found at the same time Jer. 20.2-3 that Jeremiah himself had been put in the stocks.
It may be thought impiety by many, but I could not help wishing that the ancient practive had been continued down to more modern times and that all the prophets, at least from Peter the Hermit, to Nimrod Hewes inclusively, had been confined in the stocks and prevented from spreading so many delusions and shedding so much blood."
And finally just a bit of interesting pronoun usage from Adams: "I think these prophecies are not only unphilosophical and inconsistent with the political safety of states and nations, but that most sincere and sober Christians in the world ought, upon their own principles, to hold them impious. For, nothing is clearer from their scriptures than that their prophecies were not intended to make us prophets."