undated notes

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    Section 1st.

    The total depravity and wickedness of human nature is a doctrine that has been most generally admitted in the Christian Church—and made the foundation of that pure System of Divinity delivered to the World from Heaven, by Jesus Christ—In consequence of which Doctrine it has been concluded by this same Church, that every individual man & woman, is naturally averse to that which is Good & Right—and is naturally prone or inclined to that mode of Conduct which is <written over> wicked & disagreeable to God, their Creator & Preserver as tis for the Sparks to fly upwards—or water to run down a precipice

    From all which they pretty justly draw this Inference—and which would be true if their Premisses were just—That God actually hates, detests & abominates the whole human Race—merely as his Creatures & descendants from the first man & woman Adam & Eve, by ordinary Generation.

    But notwithstanding this total wickedness of the human Race by nature, some few, by Reason of an unaccountable Whim in God are aided & assisted with Gods holy Spirit to perform [so]me Actions that are acceptable & pleasing to him—[an]d thereby become the chosen Elect out of the rest [of] the world—And that the others are going on according to the Laws of their Nature adding sin, to sin, Wickedness to Wickedness—and becoming more & more odious and detestable, if possible, to God their Creator & Preserver, will finally be made proper Subjects to magnify and display the Power, Wisdom and Benevolence of their God in being Roasted, & Boiled in a Dungeon of Liquid Brimston with Pains and Torments infinitely beyond the most lively conception and to whose duration there shall be no end.

    These Doctrines are the general Subjects of Sundays Instruction in our public meetings to worship & glorify that Being to whom we are indebted for the innumerable mercies & means of Perfection he is continually passing before us with—

    Every one of which is false, dishonourable to God—repugnant to Experience, and injurious to Society, Good humour & right Education—and therefore may be opposed without fear of prosecution or Persecution save what will arise from Ignorance Prejudice and venerable Age that never never has been accustomed to think and Reason & now become altogether incapable to perform either. Religious, Moral and Political Prejudices are nearly allied with one another—And the Glorious and ever memorable Revolution in the Political world that was compleated at Paris on the twentieth day of January one thousand seven hundred and eighty three has come near to banishing these Pests of human Felicity from Civil Society.

    And may that blissfull time swiftly approach when forms & ceremonies shall be estimated according to their importance in human Life—and the Substance only pursued; When all men may think freely upon nature & natures Laws—and as boldly speak their Thoughts without fear of being censured by Customs or injured by the Laws.

    Nature, or the World, in the most comprehensive sense, is the Book of God—and it is the only Book of Divine Wisdom of which there can be no possible dou[b]t as to its Divinity. Many other Books may be palmed upon men as coming from God—some of them may have evidence sufficient to induce the faith of a candid man after the maturest examination—These are profitable and every Christian & true Philosopher will study them, others taking their origin in the Clouds of Antiquity & being handed down from Father to Son become more sacred by being less understood, and totally differing from the Text of Gods Book the world till they are repugnant to every sentiment of the human heart, they make friends with the unnatural Affections of Ignorance & Old Age & then by enlisting with Prejudice a positive Law is procured to gain them that Faith which Reason, Candor & a knowledge of the Text very justly hold from them. Thus Nonsense, Confusion, Barbarism & Stupidity are, by one fatal stroke made the foundation Stone of Education & Science! But to one who is acquainted with his own heart & the nature of Prejudice & the force of Education nothing can be strange.

    Whoever applys to the Book of the world with a proper Temper, & a mind open to the Rays of Knowledge may sometimes err, but he can never do wrong. A sense of his Own dignity, a Love of Order & Harmony amidst apparent variety, with the Happiness he soon discovers to be the natural result of an Adherence to the Laws of Nature under the Direction of Reason will ever suppress those Passions the excess of which are only evil, and constantly keep him in the easy, peacefull Paths of Virtue.

    Nature never errs—man only errs when he deviates from her Laws—Hence those unhappy beings who sometimes with good Intentions, but often from excesses of Passions naturally good, have grasped at an imaginary Something above nature, live in one constant Error: and as they contemplate and pursue this Phantom of Imagination they receed from the Substance; till lost & bewildered in Cobwebs of their own spining they conceit themselves directed by some spiritual agency superior to the Laws by which the material world is governed—Hence spring the several Tribes of absurd Doctrines—such as special Grace—Divine Assistance the necessity of Prayer as a mean to bring about some event above natural Laws—Regeneration, the New bearth—Sanctification &c

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    AN, Thacher’s Tracts, v. 12. These sheets of text were among fifty-seven pages of manuscript notes bound among the four pamphlets comprising the volume. There is no apparent connection between the manuscripts and the tracts with which they are bound, which are all divinity tracts published in Boston in 1782 and 1783.