A Book of Gems Choice selections from the writings of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 270

to work
something out of it, in the nature of the case calculated to corrupt
and destroy it. We must be awake to these wily manœuverings and guard
against them, or they will ruin the great work so well begun and so
successfully carried on in our time. The insidious, wily and stealthy
machinations of the Grecian and Gnostic philosophers, did an immense
work in corrupting the primitive church. Many of these did this, too,
with the best intentions in the world. They thought it would be a
grand acquisition to the Christian religion, an accomplishment and
refinement, to append to it philosophy, and require every preacher
to be a philosopher. These were constantly edging into the pure
religion of Christ their fine philosophical notions, pagan customs and
ceremonies, and destroying the church whenever they did it. On the
other hand, learned Judaizers were foisting Judaism into the church at
every opportunity. Between Judaizers on the one hand, and Gnostic
philosophers on the other, they amalgamated Christianity, Judaism and
Paganism, and made Romanism. It was easy to obtain the idea of infant
membership from Judaism, the idea of image worship from Paganism, and
the idea of one true church from Christianity, and thus incorporate a
system with a membership based in the flesh, making all the infants
members, without any regeneration, under pagan idolatry, in worshipping
images, and at the same time, with the idea that they are the true


For fifty years, we, as christians, have stood on the Bible alone,
as a rule of faith and practice. Till recently, no difficulty was
experienced in reducing it to practice. For forty years after the
effort was first made in this country, to return to original ground,
to the apostolic faith and practice, and restore the ancient order
of things; submit to the law of the Lord in all things; we found no
difficulty of consequence. But on the other hand we realized our
vantage ground, answered all the cavils of creed-mongers, fought our
way through, built up churches on Christ, set them in order under the
law of God, and thus were happy in the Lord. No people in this country
have ever been as happy and prosperous. All worked well. We silenced
all opposition.

But more recently, subtle schemes are on foot to invent an excuse for
something like the traditions of the elders among the Jews, substituted
for the law of God, the unwritten traditions of Rome, that has assumed
the place of the law of God, or the doctrines and commandments of
men, in our time, embodied in human creeds. One man

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Text Comparison with Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself. [Vol. 2 of 2] With his Most Interesting Essays, Letters, and Miscellaneous Writings; Familiar, Moral, Political, Economical, and Philosophical, Selected with Care from All His Published Productions, and Comprising Whatever Is Most Entertaining and Valuable to the General Reader

Page 20
While there is a conflict between the two principles of passion and reason, we must be miserable in proportion to the struggle; and when the victory is gained, and reason so far subdued as seldom to trouble us with its remonstrances, the happiness we have then is not the happiness of our rational nature, but the happiness only of the inferior and sensual part of us, and, consequently, a very low and imperfect happiness to what the other would have afforded us.
Page 54
The world was much more enlightened in those ages, and the air much warmer.
Page 57
The public treasure is the treasure of the nation, to be applied to national purposes.
Page 58
And yet such is our insensibility to justice in this particular, that nothing is more common than to see, even in a reputable company, a _very honest_ gentleman or lady declare his or her intention to cheat the nation of threepence by a frank, and, without blushing, apply to one of the very legislators themselves, with a modest request that he would be pleased to become an accomplice in the crime and assist in the perpetration.
Page 70
I thought this might be in favour of Old England, and that now we should get a good price for our grain, which would bring millions among us, and make us flow.
Page 79
the police, but, on a farther inquiry, find it is a religious rite preparatory to the Sabbath, and is, I believe, the only religious rite in which the numerous sectaries of this city perfectly agree.
Page 85
Franklin, as one of the American plenipotentiaries, was principally concerned, viz.
Page 90
We got again about half what we lost.
Page 100
"I send my good girl the books I mentioned to her last night.
Page 123
"In your last, you also express yourself in vague terms when you desire to be informed whether you may expect '_d'etre recu d'une maniere cenvenable_'[21] in our troops.
Page 134
Thus the same words of the Mohock language written by an English, a French, and a German interpreter, often differ very much in the spelling; and without knowing the usual powers of the letters in the language of the interpreter, one cannot come at the pronunciation of the Indian words.
Page 139
[26] The country residence of the bishop.
Page 175
_ "Philadelphia, April 8, 1790.
Page 182
Is not the finding of great quantities of shells and bones of animals (natural to hot climates) in the cold ones of our present world, some proof that its poles have been changed? Is not the supposition that the poles have been changed, the easiest way of accounting for the deluge, by getting rid of the old difficulty how to dispose of its waters after it was over! Since, if the poles were again to be changed, and placed in the present equator, the sea would fall there about fifteen miles in height, and rise as much in the present polar regions; and the effect would be proportionable if the new poles were placed anywhere between the present and the equator.
Page 196
The distance at which a body charged with this fluid will discharge itself suddenly, striking through the air into another body that is not charged or not so highly charged, is different according to the quantity of the fluid, the dimensions and form of the bodies themselves, and the state of the air between them.
Page 206
Nothing certainly can be more improving to a searcher into nature than objections judiciously made to his opinion, taken up, perhaps, too hastily: for such objections oblige him to restudy the point, consider every circumstance carefully, compare facts, make experiments, weigh arguments, and be slow in drawing conclusions.
Page 208
Whirlwinds and spouts are not always,.
Page 218
Lining, at Charleston.
Page 242
If this be the case, it might prove a commodious method of transporting from distant countries those delicate plants which are unable to sustain the inclemency of the weather at sea, and which require particular care and attention.
Page 245
proverbs and feign parables for the guidance of apprenticed youths and servile maidens; and the hands that sketched a free constitution for a whole continent, or drew down the lightning from heaven, easily and cheerfully lent themselves to simplify the apparatus by which truths were to be illustrated or discoveries pursued.