Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hamilton's Religion as Seen Through His "Soul Entering Into Bliss"

Before I delve into writing "Alexander Hamilton's Religion: Part Four," I will take a moment to explain a poem, or "hymn" as his son John Church Hamilton called it, which was written by Hamilton either some days after the devastating hurricane which Hamilton survived, or when he was in America going to school. Because of its overt "evangelical" tone, it has been often overlooked by the mainstream writing crowd, when they examine Hamilton's life, or even his religion.

Let us examine this piece, which was obviously important for the early generations of Hamilton's succeeding family and lineage. According to a note left by the editors of The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Hamilton's wife, grandsons, and great-grandsons hand-copied this hymn.

"Although it is impossible to determine beyond dispute that Hamilton was the author of this poem, it is attributed to him by J. C. Hamilton (John Church Hamilton, a son of Alexander Hamilton), who refers to it as 'a hymn,' but ascribes it to the period when Hamilton attended school in Elizabethtown, New Jersey (The Life of Alexander Hamilton, Hamilton, J.C., vol. I, 10 and The Works of Alexander Hamilton, editor Hamilton, J.C., vol. I, 48). In the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, there is a copy of an unidentified writing of the first three verses of this poem. At the end of the third verse is written in the same hand: "Written by A.H. when 18 years old." At the bottom of the page in still another handwriting is written: "This is a copy in pencil by Alex: Hamilton, my uncle – P.S." The "P.S" presumably refers to the Philip Schuyler who was the son of George L. Schuyler. George L. Schuyler had married Hamilton's granddaughter, Mary Hamilton, daughter of James A. Hamilton. The Alexander Hamilton who copied the poem was probably the son of James A. Hamilton, brother-in-law of George Schuyler and uncle of Philip Schuyler." --from The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, volume 1

Now let us examine the work itself.

"AH! whither, whither am I flown,
A wandering guest in worlds unknown?
What is that I see and hear?
What heav'nly music fills mine ear?
Etherial glories shine around;
More than Arabias sweets abound."

Hamilton is obviously speaking of a Christian entering into heaven. Included in the original title of the poem, in The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, was a notification that this piece was inspired by Alexander Pope's "A Christian Dying to His Soul."

Hark! hark! a voice from yonder sky!
Methinks I hear my Saviour cry,
Come gentle spirit come away,
Com to thy Lord without delay;
For thee the gates of bliss unbar'd
Thy constant virtue to reward."

The "Savior" referred to in this verse can be no other than Jesus Christ. Hamilton, as indicated from this portion of his writings, as well as others (the "hurricane letter," "The Stand, No. I," his deathbed profession of faith, etc.), demonstrates unequivocally that Hamilton believed that Jesus was the divine Son of God, and the one who atoned for the human race. There is not the slightest implication in his writings that he ever became skeptical of this claim, but there are places in his writings, such as the one here, which show that he did acknowledge the divinity of Christ.

"I come oh Lord! I mount, I fly,
On rapid wings I cleave the sky;
Stretch out thine arm and aid my flight;
For oh! I long to gain that height,
Where all celestial beings sing
Eternal praises to their King."

This verse suggests Hamilton's familiarity with, and belief in, the Book of Revelation -- the last book of the Bible. For instance:

Revelation 4:8
"Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.' "

"O Lamb of God! thrice gracious Lord
Now, now I feel how true thy word;
Translated to this happy place,
This blessed vision of thy face;
My soul shall all thy steps attend
In songs of triumph without end."

This writings suggests that Hamilton's religious sentiments were not merely temporary, as David Loth, in his biography of Hamilton, claimed. That event had a long-lasting impact on Hamilton, as is seen from this poem, and from the eyewitness accounts of his friends and contemporaries when he came to America.


Our Founding Truth said...

The secularists neglect this one for sure, probably because they claim Hamilton didn't write it, but they cannot prove their assertion, and the evidence supports his authorship.

I talked with Mark Moore at the Christian Const. Society, it seems like a grass roots type thing. Are you involved with it, and does it have any relationships with the Hamilton groups in New York?

I've been thinking on Madison, my last blog. I've almost changed my view of him, and ironically of George Bush(he is a polytheist, not a universalist). I called them both universalists, but that is not the case. If Madison was orthodox prior to 1800, he makes it very difficult for the fact Jon Rowe brings up on my blog.

If Madison was orthodox, why would he ask "is socianism, unitarianism, and arianism Christian"? I can't figure him out, because he affirms the supernatural in the same writing, which contradicts what he lists?

If he was orthodox, he need not be concerned about Judges determining what is Christianity? Because right next to the judge was probably hanging the Westminster Catechism, which he had to memorize as a boy. So they didn't need to interpret anything, Madison knew what the essentials were, and what heterodoxy was.

So why did Madison include heresy in his question "what is xtianity"

The only logical explanation is he believed all supposed Christian sects should get aid. But if he believed that, then he believed heresy was Christianity, most likely because he denied orthodoxy.

Crazy, but in the same paper, he affirms the supernatural of the church, which refutes the heresy . Any explanations?


Hercules Mulligan said...

Hello OFT. I am finally able to get back to your questions. I am sorry that I have not been able to answer you sooner. I have been extremely busy over the last couple of weeks, and I wanted to give your comment and questions the attention they deserve.

"I talked with Mark Moore at the Christian Const. Society, it seems like a grass roots type thing. Are you involved with it, and does it have any relationships with the Hamilton groups in New York?"

Presently, I am not involved with the CCS. It is not really a society yet; it needs members for various state societies (which, I think, have not been organized yet), and members of the national (or head) group. The CCS has only gone so far as to be a publicly announced idea; Mark Moore and his friends have taken the CCS the next step that Hamilton did not take, and that is to make the idea public. Perhaps if Hamilton had made it public, the CCS would have had better prospects of being established, than it would enjoy in this present day and age where people (sadly, even "conservative Christians" rally around a personality rather than a cause). Hamilton's (and apparently the effort of Mr. Moore) has been to get people to rally around the CAUSE once again, and not the PARTY.

To my knowledge, the Alexander Hamilton Institute, which is brand new, is not affiliated with the CCS. However, their goals are rather similar. They acknowledge the influence of Christianity and the Bible in their materials and in their "curriculum," that is, their presentations and manner of presenting the history of Western civilization. I have spoken with its founders, and they are all supporters of such things as intelligent design (that God created the universe), the role of Christians in the civil realm, etc. Their goals are to promote true educational excellence in universities and colleges throughout the nation. On of its founders has participated in a Christian Worldview Conference which was held at Princeton, and he was very enthusiastic about it. Another of its founders said that the Publius Society which is a sub-group of the AHI, is going to host a public lecture by author Barry Shain, who wrote a fabulous book on how the Protestant Reformation was the primary influence behind American political thought. Anyway, this group, though it may not be a strictly Christian group, as the CCS (if it was a real society) would be, but it is not far from the same purposes!

Interesting thoughts on Madison. I quickly searched his Memorial and Remonstrance, and can't find any mentions of unitarianism, etc, in it. Do you think you could give me the quote to which you refer, as well as the context, so I can properly determine?

Did Madison merely list unitarianism, arianism, etc., as groups that the government might persecute as a result of the bill that was in question? Did Madison list them among sects who CLAIMED to be Christian? Or did he list them as legitimately Christian denominations? These questions must be answered in order to form a proper conclusion on the question "Did Madison really believe that unitarianism, arianism, etc., were in line with the Bible?"

And quick side note: one may be a unitarian, and still believe in supernatural happenings, I think; he may not believe in the resurrection of Christ, however, or the miraculous virgin birth. Perhaps the Unitarian may accept miraculous happenings in the Old Testament, or may acknowledge that Jesus did miracles. But all that depends upon WHY the individual is a Unitarian. Jefferson was a Unitarian because he did not believe in the miraculous PERIOD, whereas, if Madison was a Unitarian at the time of his Remonstrance, he may have been one because he doubted the atonement, and therefore the divinity of Christ (or perhaps vice versa) but not necessarily because he thought miraculous occurances irrational.

Well, a long comment from me again. Hope this satisfactorily answered your questions. :)

Our Founding Truth said...

Hey Herc,

Hope you Thanksgiving was Blessed. I found some new information on Madison that is public, but obviously Jon Rowe hasn't seen it. Check out my latest, and hopefully final post on Madison, about his beliefs.

Based on the comment he made at the Federal Convention, we know without a doubt, he wasn't a rationalist. I can't wait to see what Rowe says about this one. Let's see if he retracts everything he said about him.

It took me a while to go through all the writings in the Virginia State Convention, as well as Madison's comments at the Fed Convention. No doubt, he was brilliant, I also, have him commenting on religion is left to states to do whatever they want, affirming my earlier belief that the people could establish hinduism if they wanted to.

Anyway, it's new info on Madison, without a doubt, he was not a theistic rationalist, as those authors who subscribe to that, I proved are wrong.

Something else incredible I've discovered. I have found evidence that Alexander Hamilton believed the Constitution was based on the Law of the Bible! I have it in his own words, but I don't think I can release it, as I want to write a book to show the world. It's actually common knowledge of his writings, but people have obviously missed this.

I couldn't believe it when I saw it, it hit me immediately, and I knew exactly what he was saying.

It's too important to put on a blog, I have to release it in a book.

Talk to you soon


Thanks for Reading!