To Samuel C. Johonnet

    Philadelphia        12 December 1790

    My friend,

    I was made very happy, on my arrival to this City, in finding your favour of the 4th November, waiting for me at the Post-Office—which agreeable state of mind has been much increased, by the fresh assurance of your friendship & correspondence, by in the receipt of your Letter wrote the day after throwing the votes for federal Representative—

    I beleive I ought to give you a gentle reprimand for intimating, in your first Letter, that there could be any ice, between you & me, in the way of a social friendly, & philosophical Correspondence—but since you tell me tis broke, I promise myself that no event will ever be able to congeal it again—

    I am neither surprised, or offended that one of the Reverends should point me out by description or name if they please, in a pulpit discourse—I am told that the uninformed, Ranter of Gorham1 did the same the sunday before votes were given for federal Representative two years ago, & yet it seems I had a very generous majority of the votes in that Town at this election2—So long as preachers of the Gospel are called & deemed Religious men, that is, set apart for religious services, and their duties of office are conceived principally of a religious nature, they will gain nothing by medling with politics—But the more they step out of their Line of duty the more will their influence fail them. The history of the late war is pretty good proof of this—But it may be said as ministers have the care of souls upon them ought they not to extend their precepts and directions to all the actions of men whether political, moral, or religious, in this world as they may all of them have an effect friendly, or unfriendly upon their souls beyound the Grave—And tis more especially the duty of the Clergy to watch that nothing is done here to disturb the soulds hereafter?

    Here I am opened into a field too large to traverse in my present situation—but a field delightfull beyoung [beyond] description; and which, I am determined, if I live & can get time from the business of my profession, to explore more accurately than it has yet been done—How my descriptions and accounts of the Country will be received I will not take it upon me to say; tho tis probable I shall pass off much like other travlers into unknown countries—

    To drop all metaphor—the subject seems to require an examination—first of actions that are strictly & solely religious—& what they are—secondly of actions strictly political—and thirdly of actions purely moral—fourthly whether there are not actions that partake of two or more of the foregoing Qualities; and what they are—

    This being done we may speak with more precision upon the subject of Clerical, or Ministeral duty—and be enabled to determine whether the ministers thro New-England are properly speaking religious, or political, or moral men, or teachers, or a compound of the whole—And what amendments are necessary in order to convert them to the greatest benefit Society can receive from their administration—

    In the foregoing analysis we must take a pretty general survey of the actions in different nations which, from the earliest account of time to the settlement of the Government of the United States, that have been deemed solely religious altogether or partaking of a religious quality—& the same of the policy & morality of nations—But, my friend, where have I led myself, & what am I about! I set down with a designe to acknowledge your favours, & then before I recollected myself I wandered into the Labyrinth of of Religion Politics & History—And now to return where I was an hour ago, & from whence I ought not to have wandered strayed—I fear my friends will interest themselves to such a degree in my behalf, that their disappointment, at my not being elected, will create to them extreme mortifycation & chagrin—heighthened by the triumphs of the adverse party—

    At a non-election I must be much hurt—but, if I know myself, the pain will be chiefly of the reflected kind—It will hurt me exceedingly to see my friends insulted.

    My attachments to domestic Life, & pleasures of study are infinitely too great strong to receive the least diminution by being out of public life3—Public Life is what I never expected nor counted upon its pleasures. I did not even know that it was in contemplation to chose me, till I was actually informed of my election—consequently I came into it without a desire of its pleasures, & I can now retire without carrying with me a Taste that cannot will want objects of gratification in my humble retired Cottage at Saco—

    Adieu, my friend, and beleive me to be yours. &c

    * * *

    FC, TFP. Written to Portland.