Letter to Bradford, September 25, 1773
Bradford, having decided not to pursue the ministry
as a career, wrote James Madison asking his advice on
the choice between law, medicine, and merchandising.
Madison's response expressed disappointment in Bradford's
decision not to pursue the ministry, yet he remained
supportive of any choice his friend would make. The
advice that follows is an expression of humility and
devotion to Christ. Madison seems to say that too often
men in positions of great public influence fail to follow
Christ in their public lives. According to Madison,
no stronger testimony of Christ can be born than for
those who have acquired much reputation and wealth to
publicly declare their devotion to the cause of Christ.
Religious Institutions Group
cannot however suppress [this] much of my advice on that
head that you would always keep the Ministry obliquely in
View whatever your profession be. This will lead you to
cultivate an acquaintance occasionally with the most sublime
of all Sciences and will qualify you for a change of public
character if you should hereafter desire it. I have sometimes
thought there could be no stronger testimony in favor of
Religion or against temporal Enjoyments even the most rational
and manly than for men who occupy the most honorable and
gainful departments and are rising in reputation and wealth,
publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming
fervent Advocates in the cause of Christ, & I wish you
may give in your Evidence in this way. Such instances have
seldom occurred, therefore they would be more striking and
would be instead of a "Cloud of Witnesses."
from James Madison to William Bradford, Jr. (September 25,
1773), in 1 Papers of James Madison, at 96 (Robert A. Rutland
and William M. E. Rachal eds., 1973).