You desire to know something of my religion. It is the first time I have been questioned upon it. Bit I cannot take your curiosity amiss, and shall endeavour in a few words to gratify it. Here is my creed. I believe in one God, creator of the universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to Him is doing good to His other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them.
As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think his system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received carious corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence, as probably it has, of making his doctrines more respected and more observed; especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any peculiar marks of his displeasure.
I shall only add respecting myself that, having experienced the goodness of that Being in conducting me prosperously through a long life, I have no doubt of its continuance in the next, though without the smallest conceit of meriting such goodness. My sentiments on this head you will see in the copy of an old letter inclosed, which I wrote in answer to one from a zealous religionist whom I had relieved in a paralytic case by electricity, and who, being afraid I should grow proud upon it, sent me his serious though rather impertinent caution. I send you also the copy of another letter which will show something of my disposition relating to religion. With great and sincere esteem and affection, I am your obliged old friend and most obedient humble servant. . . .
P. S. Had not your College some present of books from the King of France? Please to let me know if you had an expectation given you of more, and the nature of that expectation. I have a reason for the enquiry.
I confide that you will not expose me to criticisms and censures by
publishing any part of this communication to you. I have ever let others
enjoy their religious sentiments, without reflecting on them for those
that appeared to me unsupportable or even absurd. All sects here, and we
have a great variety, have experienced my good will in assisting them with
subscriptions for building their new places of worship; and, as I have
never opposed any of their doctrines, I hope to go out of the world in
peace with them all.