Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Judge Samuel McDowell: Are the people in and about Lexington as religious as they were some time ago?

(via Literaghost)

Found in "The Biography of Ephraim McDowell," by Mrs. Mary T. Valentine.

Excerpt from a letter, from Judge Samuel McDowell (father of Ephraim McDowell), to his son-in-law, mr. Andrew Reid, of Virginia.
Mercer, Co., July 11th, 1792.

[...] Are the people in and about Lexington as religious as they were some time ago? My dear sir, religion is a most excellent thing, and that we should all be earnest to obtain, but the zeal of some of the Lexingtonians goes wild or carries them to extravagances and folly; that is, in my opinion, very foreign to true religion; and will have a tendency to make them people very proud and unsocial, looking upon all who are acting like rational creatures to be the wicked ones on earth, and look down on them with contempt. I am persuaded that the way them people (or some of them) are acting, will inevitably lead to a savage or superstitious state in the course of one or two hundred years — perhaps in much less time. Those good people will not associate with the wicked (as they call them) but meet only for religious worship or socially with their religious friends. Had that been the case formerly we had yet been in ignorance, but mankind mixing in assemblys [sic] for innocent amusement, cultivates friendship and civilizes the world. It makes their manners more mild and friendly and removes that sourness that superstition and bigotry leaves on the mind. May you and me, my dear sir, be earnest to live in this world as not to give offense to any one, and still act like rational creatures; for I am persuaded that the Divine Being cannot delight to see his creatures, that he has endowed with rational power, lay aside their reasoning powers, and give themselves up to superstition.

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