September 17, 2008

No man is an island

Rev. Abraham Williams addressed an assembly of politicians in the days prior to the American Revolution. He preached a sermon from 1 Corinthians 12:25: That there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care one for another. In his sermon, Rev. Williams tried to impress on the minds of these men that we all need each other and that whatever our disagreements may be, we should not seek to live separately. It's an interesting sermon when viewed through the lens of another 200+ years of the progress of our civilization.

Here's an excerpt

An election sermon by the Reverend Abraham Williams

As to the origin of civil Societies or Governments; the Author of our being has given man a nature fitted for, and disposed to society. It was not good for man at first to be alone; his nature is social, having various affections, propensities and passions, which respect society, and cannot be indulged without a social intercourse: The natural principles of benevolence, compassion, justice, and indeed most of our natural affections, powerfully incite to, and plainly indicate that man was formed for society.

To a man detached from all society, man essential parts of his frame are useless—are troublesome: He is unable to supply himself with man materials of happiness, which require the assistance and concurrence of others: Most of the conveniences of life require the concurrence of several. If we suppose a man without exterior assistance able to procure what is barely necessary to his being—at best it would be with diffiulty—but in sickness and the decline of life would be impossible: yet allowing it possible, all the elegancies and comforts of life would be wanting. If we examine the materials of our temporal happiness we shall find they chiefly result from society: from hence proceed the pleasures, of books, conversation, friends, relations, and all the social and relative virtues. So that the social nature of man and his natural desire of happiness strongly urge him to society as eligible—to which, if we add, the natural principle of self-preservation, the dangers men’s lives and properties are exposed to, when considered as unconnected with others, society will appear necessary.

Rev. Abraham Williams (1727–1784), addressing the Governor and General Court of Massachusetts on the eve of the Stamp Act

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