Thomas Paine, still relevant today?

Thomas Paine was a very influential, and controversial, historical figure during revolutionary times. During the American revolution he spoke out against British tyranny. He was a faithful friend and vicious enemy. He was always causing trouble by voicing his opinion openly, not caring who he hurt or offended. In 1775 he wrote his most famous work, “Common Sense.” This work was written in common everyday vernacular in order to speak to all people, not just the rich and well educated. This was one of the first works expressing a political opinion from such a blunt, bias perspective in America, and is still one of the most well known today. He was not afraid to step on toes as he constantly made fun of nearly everyone, from the King of England to his own friends (such as Thomas Jefferson). Paine spoke to the common ordinary person, and was calling them to make their own decisions about politics. He encouraged them to form their own opinions and to revolt, to take the country as their own. This was one of the major literary influences behind the start of the revolution. Paine’s work was widely published and read by most all colonists. It called for the colonists to pick up arms and retaliate, which they did. This illustrates how powerful and influential Thomas Paine really was. While now their are thousands of politicians and lobbyists trying to spread their thoughts and opinions about various political issues, none of them have had so much as half the influence that Thomas Paine had on the American people. Paine related the current issues in a way that interested and was understood by the common everyday people of his time, an ability most politicians of our time lack.

The following video elicits how Thomas Paine was a troublemaker, failed at many things, but ultimately influenced an entire country.
“Common Sense”

Thomas Paine was a visionary. He has many quotes that are still universally applicable today. While many are profound and relatively truthful, some are still very controversial today. His statement “The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion”
is a concept nearly none can grasp. For all history people have fought and discriminated against because of different beliefs, religions, ethnicities, and gender’s. Paine claims all people of all nations as his family and equals. He just wants to be a good person to all people. Think of all that has happened over the course of time since Paine was alive. From the women’s rights movement, to the Holocaust, to the Civil Rights movement, think of all the things that would not have been an issue if people could take this advice from Paine. Thomas Paine practiced what he preached. For example, Paine was one of the first and most influential Americans against slavery.

Paine left us with a lot to think about, and also some great advice with his many witty quotes. In this paragraph I will share some of my favorites, starting with “Character is much easier kept than recovered.” This statement is so truthful. One can go decades trying to rebuild their character, but once lost people often never completely trust you again. It is not all too hard to live a life of good character, but it is nearly impossible to regain your good character once you have lost it. Another of Paine’s quotes states “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. This is the exact opposite of how most people live their lives now. We live in an instant gratification, live it up country. Most, even if they say otherwise, are not at all concerned with the future generations. This is made evident through the fact that most Americans are not very concerned with issues such as global warming and fossil fuel emissions.
Quotes from this paragraph from:

Industry and pollution are a major issue


When I think about future generations and how we affect them, the first thing the comes to my mind is the environment. In the last century or so, from the Industrial Age to the present, pollution has changed the worlds climate in what could turn out to be catastrophic ways. Paine declares we should take on the future generations problems now, but instead we make matters worse and do not heed nature’s warning signs. Politicians today constantly tussle over what we should do, but for the most part pollution is still a major problem. Even the renowned children’s author Thedor Giesel, better known as Dr. Suess, wrote about the harmful affects of human industry on the environment. He did this in his work “The Lorax.” Looking out for future generations instead of ourselves has never been a priority in American society. We would all do good to apply Paine’s words of wisdom and take care of future issues such as pollution and global warming.

The following is a video giving a brief description about global warming:

Dr. Suess: “The Lorax”


Thomas Paine was not shy about calling people out. He felt we should all do our fair share of work in society. He said, “Those who want to reap the benefits of this great nation must bear the fatigue of supporting it.” Needless to say, I bet Paine would not approve of all the handouts and social services offered in the United States today. He felt everyone should reap what they sow. He felt everyone should work and earn a living, not be lazy and taken care of by another. Paine also illustrates this as he states “The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.”Here he is telling us that adversity, struggles, and conflicts are what make us stronger, tougher people. Thomas Paine’s advice can be found through his works and statements and are still very applicable today. We can all learn from his stubborn, often controversial ways of always expressing how he felt no matter who disagreed or how much trouble he might get it. A lot can be taken away from Thomas Paine as I have illustrated above. There is plenty of knowledge and education to be found through the works of Paine and from the style by which he delivered his demanding calls for action and change. Paine’s works, statements, and style are still completely relevant to today’s world.
Quotes from this paragraph from:


Image of Thomas Paine:



Why was Jonathan Edwards dismissed from being a minister in North Hampton, and what became of him afterwards?

I chose this topic because I was interested to know why John Edwards’ own congregation turned against him and outcast him, and was also intrigued to find out what befell of him in the later part of his life. The following is several sources documenting the dismissal of Edwards’ from his congregation in New Hampton and his life afterwards.

Jonathan Edwards’ grandfather Solomon Stoddard died on February 11th, 1729. He left his grandson the difficult job of being the only minister in charge of one of the largest and wealthiest congregations in the colony. All during his service in Northampton his preaching brought outstanding religious revivals. Jonathan Edwards became a key figure in what is now known as the First Great Awakening that took place during the 1730s and 1740s.
Tensions flared as Edwards refused to continue his grandfather’s practice of practicing an open communion. His grandfather (Stoddard) believed that communion was a “converting ordinance.” Other congregations of the area had also been convinced of this, and as Edwards believed that this was harmful, his public disagreement with the idea caused him to be relinquished of his duty as minister in North Hampton.
After his dismissal from North Hampton Edwards moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts. This was a frontier settlement where he ministered to a small congregation and served as missionary to the Housatonic Indians. Here he had more time to study and write. He finished his celebrated work, “The Freedom of the Will” in 1754.
Edwards became president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) in early 1758. He was a easy and popular choice as he had been a friend of the College since its founding and was the most respected American philosopher-theologian of his time. Sadly, Edwards died on March 22, 1758 of a fever at the age of fifty-four following an experimental vaccination for smallpox. He was buried in the President’s Lot in the Princeton cemetery beside his son-in-law, Aaron Burr.


Princeton University


The 1750 dismissal of Jonathan Edwards by his Northampton congregation was very disheveled, him being one of the greatest theologians in American history. Another aspect worth looking at is that friends and enemies alike agreed that in this drawn out and utterly degrading dismissal, Edwards continued to love and pray for these people, even when they showed their fangs.
Salary disagreements and power conflicts marred his ministry during the 1740s. In one particular occasion some teen boys in the church passed around a midwife’s manual, and used it to harass and make suggestive comments in front of girls. When the boys were caught the were summoned before the church, their response, according to documents of the proceedings, was “contemptuous … toward the authority of this Church.” Edwards made the decision to read to the church a list containing, indiscriminately, the names of both the young men along with the witnesses of the wrong doing. Several parents grew angry with Edwards.
Yet another issue was with Edwards’ personality and style as a minister. For instance at the beginning of his ministry at Northampton, Edwards’ decided that he would regularly visit his congregants but would instead come to their side when called upon as needed or in the case of sickness or some other emergency. This made many in the church see him as quite cold and distant.

North Hampton


Even though Edwards was very successful, his church and area ministers began to disapprove of him in 1748. He wanted stricter requirements on receiving communion than did his grandfather Solomon Stoddard. Edwards believed that there were too many hypocrites and unbelievers being accepted into church membership; therefore, he developed a rigid screening process. This controversy was a large contributing factor behind his dismissal from the Northampton church in 1750.Scholars see this event as a turning point in American religious history. Many believe Edwards’ ideas of reliance on God’s grace instead of good works began the rejection of Puritan attitudes from previously prevalent beliefs in New England.
Edwards’ next post was not near as grand. He ministered a small English church in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where he also served as a missionary to 150 Mohawk and Mohegan families. He served there from 1751 to 1757.
Even on the frontier, Edwards was not forgotten. In late 1757 he was called to be president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). Sadly, he only got to work here for a few months. On March 22, 1758, Jonathan Edwards died of a fever following an experimental small pox vaccination. He was buried in Princeton cemetery.

Mohawk Indian


The research I have done on the latter part of Jonathan Edwards’ life has made me feel sorry for him. At first, after reading some of his excerpts, I viewed him as just a scary pastor who loved to preach on condemnation; however, I now understand he was also a very honorable, religious, well educated, and hard working individual. He was outcast and shunned by those he served and loved, and died of a tragic death at a relatively early age. I’m glad I researched this because I now have a better understanding of Jonathan Edwards and the reasons behind his dismissal and knowledge of his latter life.

The following videos are examples of how Jonathan Edwards feels.
Jonathan Edwards Resolutions part 1.

Jonathan Edwards Resolutions part 2.

If interested in his preaching style, the following is his most famous sermon “Sinners in the hands of an Angry God”