Letter from James Madison to F.L. Schaeffer

James Madison
December 3, 1821
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An aging James Madison write that American history has proved that religion thrives most when it is independent of government. Also, his praise for Martin Luther contrasts with Thomas Jefferson's sharp criticism of Luther.
Revd Sir,

--I have received, with your letter of November 19th, the copy of your address at the ceremonial of laying the corner-stone of St Matthew's Church in New York.

It is a pleasing and persuasive example of pious zeal, united with pure benevolence and of a cordial attachment to a particular creed, untinctured with sectarian illiberality. It illustrates the excellence of a system which, by a due distinction, to which the genius and courage of Luther led the way, between what is due to Caesar and what is due God, best promotes the discharge of both obligations. The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well-meaning Christians, as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without a legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be supported. A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical Religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity.

In return for your kind sentiments, I tender assurances of my estaeem and my best wishes.


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