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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 278

race. In the
plainest terms, no law of nature ever produced a human being without
parents. In other words, it is not a miracle for children to come from
parents, but it was a miracle to create the first human pair. All who
admit that the human race ever had a beginning, must admit that it
began by miracle. It is not a miracle for an oak to produce an acorn,
nor for an acorn to produce an oak; but it is a miracle to produce an
oak without an acorn, and equally a miracle to produce an acorn
without an oak. The laws of nature, in the legitimate and ordinary
course of their operation, never produced an acorn without an oak,
or an oak without an acorn. The first acorn, or the first oak, was,
unquestionably, a miracle. The first man was a miracle. The second man,
the Lord from heaven, was a miracle. Isaac, the child of promise, and
the only son of Abraham, as Jesus was the child of promise, and the
only begotten of the Father, was a miracle. To sum all up, and express
it in one sentence, everything,—every species of animal, insect and
vegetable, began by miracle. The laws of nature create nothing, give us
no new species or kind, but simply propagate and perpetuate that which
was given by miracle at first. By the established laws of nature, the
human race have been propagated and perpetuated, but the human race had
its commencement in miracle.

The laws of nature never raised a man from the dead, instantaneously
gave hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, or sight to the blind. No
laws of nature can heal a leper in an instant, multiply “five loaves
and a few small fishes,” till the amount will be sufficient to feed
five thousand persons, leaving “twelve baskets full of fragments,”
or enable men to speak in some fifteen or seventeen languages, never
studied or learned in the ordinary way. A miracle may suspend laws of
nature for the time being, do something above them, or something that
they never perform; but to be a miracle at all, something must be
done above all human art, device or ability, and something which we
know the laws of nature, in their legitimate course, and ordinary
operation, never perform. When anything of this kind occurs, we
know that it could not have taken place without foreign and direct
interposition. This is a miracle; it is above and superior to all human
art or device; above and superior to any thing ever done by the

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Text Comparison with Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Page 18
Inquiry was made after the removers; we were discovered and complained of; several of us were corrected by our fathers; and, though I pleaded the usefulness of the work, mine convinced me that nothing was useful which was not honest.
Page 28
Hearing their conversations, and their accounts of the approbation their papers were received with, I was excited to try my hand among them; but, being still a boy, and suspecting that my brother would object to printing anything of mine in his paper if he knew it to be mine, I contrived to disguise my hand, and, writing an anonymous paper, I put it in at night under the door of the printing-house.
Page 36
I, who stood by and heard all, saw immediately that one of them was a crafty old sophister, and the other a mere novice.
Page 58
He had formerly been in business at Bristol, but failed in debt to a number of people, compounded and went to America.
Page 68
Our friendship continued without interruption to his death, upwards of forty years; and the club continued almost as long, and was the best school of philosophy, morality, and politics that then existed in the province; for our queries, which were read the week preceding their discussion, put us upon reading with attention upon the several subjects, that we might speak more to the purpose; and here, too, we acquired better habits of conversation, everything being studied in our rules which might prevent our disgusting each other.
Page 72
I gave him what he demanded, and he went soon after to Carolina, from whence he sent me next year two long letters, containing the best account that had been given of that country, the climate, the soil, husbandry, etc.
Page 75
The old folks encourag'd me by continual invitations to supper, and by leaving us together, till at length it was time to explain.
Page 80
We kept no idle servants, our table was plain and simple, our furniture of the cheapest.
Page 85
| +----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+ | T.
Page 96
Franklin took his title from _Poor Robin_, a famous English almanac, and from Richard Saunders, a well-known almanac publisher.
Page 103
In 1733 I sent one of my journeymen to Charleston, South Carolina, where a printer was wanting.
Page 130
But, these holes being made for another purpose, viz.
Page 142
The owners, however, alleging they did not know General Braddock, or what dependence might be had on his promise, insisted on my bond for the performance, which I accordingly gave them.
Page 146
This he readily granted, and several were accordingly return'd to their masters, on my application.
Page 147
General Shirley at length relieved me from this terrible situation by appointing commissioners to examine the claims, and ordering payment.
Page 148
I had but little difficulty in raising men, having soon five hundred and sixty under my command.
Page 166
Kennedy thereupon examin'd rigorously the log-line, and, being satisfi'd with that, he determin'd to throw the log himself.
Page 169
He assur'd me I was totally mistaken.
Page 176
So much for Industry, my Friends, and Attention to one's own Business; but to these we must add _Frugality_.
Page 188