Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THOMAS JEFFERSON. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes)
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TO THOMAS JEFFERSON. - John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes) 
The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). 10 volumes. Vol. 10.
Part of: The Works of John Adams, 10 vols.
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TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Quincy, 18 July, 1813.
I have more to say on religion. For more than sixty years I have been attentive to this great subject. Controversies between Calvinists and Arminians, Trinitarians and Unitarians, Deists and Christians, Atheists and both, have attracted my attention, whenever the singular life I have led would admit, to all these questions. The history of this little village of Quincy, if it were worth recording, would explain to you how this happened. I think I can now say I have read away bigotry, if not enthusiasm.
What does Priestley mean by an unbeliever, when he applies it to you? How much did he unbelieve himself? Gibbon had him right when he denominated his creed “scanty.” We are to understand, no doubt, that he believed the resurrection of Jesus, some of his miracles, his inspiration; but in what degree? He did not believe in the inspiration of the writings that contain his history. Yet he believed in the Apocalyptic beast, and he believed as much as he pleased in the writings of Daniel and John. This great and extraordinary man, whom I sincerely loved, esteemed, and respected, was really a phenomenon; a comet in the system, like Voltaire, Bolingbroke, and Hume. Had Bolingbroke or Voltaire taken him in hand, what would they have made of him and his creed?
I do not believe you have read much of Priestley’s “Corruptions of Christianity,” his History of early opinions concerning Jesus Christ, his predestination, his no soul system, or his controversy with Horsley. I have been a diligent student for many years in books whose titles you have never seen. In Priestley’s and Lindsey’s writings, in Farmer, Cappe, in Tucker, or Edward Search’s Light of Nature Pursued, in Edwards and Hopkins, and, lately, in Ezra Stiles Ely, his reverend and learned panegyrists, and his elegant and spirited opponents. I am not wholly uninformed of the controversies in Germany, and the learned researches of universities and professors, in which the sanctity of the Bible and the inspiration of its authors are taken for granted or waved, or admitted or not denied. I have also read Condorcet’s Progress of the Human Mind. Now, what is all this to you? No more than if I should tell you that I read Dr. Clarke, and Dr. Waterland, and Emlyn, and Leland’s View or Review of the Deistical writers, more than fifty years ago, which is a literal truth.
I blame you not for reading Euclid and Newton, Thucydides and Theocritus, for I believe you will find as much entertainment and instruction in them as I have found in my theological and ecclesiastical instructors, or even, as I have found, in a profound investigation of the life, writings, and doctrines of Erastus, whose disciples were Milton, Harrington, Selden, St. John, the Chief Justice, father of Bolingbroke, and others, the choicest spirits of their age; or in La Harpe’s history of the philosophy of the eighteenth century; or in Vanderkemp’s vast map of the causes of the revolutionary spirit, in the same and preceding centuries. These things are to me the marbles and nine-pins of old age; I will not say the beads and prayer-books. I agree with you as far as you go, most cordially, and, I think, solidly. How much farther I go, how much more I believe than you, I may explain in a future letter. Thus much I will say at present. I have found so many difficulties that I am not astonished at your stopping where you are; and, so far from sentencing you to perdition, I hope soon to meet you in another country.