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

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 306

them to
abandon all human authorities and hold on to the word of the Lord for


There is no telling the evils that have arisen in some old
congregations, from preachers assuming that their audiences knew all
about what are usually called first principles, and not preaching
them. In this way, they never get their audiences to understand the
principles of the gospel at all. They preach to their half-sleeping
audiences, not _hearers_, some little, exhortatory sermon, of
twenty-five or thirty minutes, and not a syllable is recollected two
days. The people are thankful that the sermon was short, and the
preacher thankful that “service” is over. In this way the gospel has
literally been shut out of some churches, and year after year passes
without any thing like a clear development of the gospel, and neither
the church nor the regular hearers understand the gospel, or know the
difference between the gospel and something else. This also gives rise
to textuary preaching and preaching a sermon “to develop a single
thought.” We heard of one preacher who delivered a sermon on the
text, “And there shall be no night there.” The wording was soft as a
summer breeze and as harmless as a butterfly. Now, we must say that
we abominate this as mere trash. We want good, sound, solid and manly
preaching, containing principles and practical instruction, that will
make an audience _think_ and _feel_, and _that to some purpose_. Let us
advocate the cause, maintain and defend it, with zeal, earnestness and
power. Unfold the great principles of the faith, spread them out and
let the world see them, and see at the same time that we intend they
shall prevail. The principles are self-evidently right, and there is
no reason why any man should be ashamed of them, or afraid to advocate
them. They can be carried through the world, and we have the men and
ability, and, the Lord helping us, we shall spread them throughout the


We must make an effort to bring out our young people. If they are
brought into the church, and not employed any way, not induced to do
anything, nor in any way made useful, one half of them will be led off
into the world again. A bishop who understands this matter, will engage
not simply the attention of the young, but their ability, whatever it
may be, and bring it out. We fell in company with a bishop of this kind
a few evenings since, on the cars, who informed us, if our memory is

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Text Comparison with The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2 [of 3]

Page 45
I can neither attract nor repel any thing at a distance, without something between my hand and that thing, like a string, or a stick; nor can I conceive any mutual action without some middle thing, when the action is continued to some distance.
Page 46
It passed slowly by the vessel.
Page 58
The atmosphere being heavier in the polar regions than in the equatorial, will there be lower; as well from that cause, as from the smaller effect of the centrifugal force: consequently the distance of the vacuum above the atmosphere will be less at the poles, than elsewhere; and probably much less than the distance (upon the surface of the globe) extending from the pole to those latitudes in which the earth is so thawed as to receive and imbibe electricity; (the frost continuing to lat.
Page 68
I am persuaded, from several instances happening within my knowledge, that they do not bear cold weather so well as the whites; they will perish when exposed to a less degree of it, and are more apt to have their limbs frostbitten; and may not this be from the same cause? Would not the earth grow much hotter under the summer-sun, if a constant evaporation from its surface, greater as the sun shines stronger, did not, by tending to cool it; balance, in some degree, the warmer effects of the sun's rays? Is it not owing to the constant evaporation from the surface of every leaf, that trees, though shone on by the sun, are always, even the leaves themselves, cool to our sense? at least much cooler than they would otherwise be? May it not be owing to this, that fanning ourselves when warm, does really cool us, though the air is itself warm that we drive with the fan upon our faces; for the atmosphere round, and next to our bodies, having imbibed as much of the perspired vapour as it can well contain, receives no more, and the evaporation is therefore checked and retarded, till we drive away that atmosphere, and bring drier air in its place, that will receive the vapour, and thereby facilitate and increase the evaporation? Certain it is, that mere blowing of air on a dry body does not cool it, as any one may satisfy himself, by blowing with a bellows on the dry ball of a thermometer; the mercury will not fall; if it moves at all, it rather rises, as being.
Page 97
FOOTNOTE: [22] Retranslated from the French edition of Dr.
Page 104
And this I supposed an effect of its being an island, where every wind that blew must necessarily pass over some sea before it arrived, and of course lick up some vapour.
Page 115
My idea was, that possibly by sailing to and fro at some distance from such lee-shore, continually pouring oil into the sea, the waves might be so much depressed, and lessened before they reached the shore, as to abate the height and violence of the surf, and permit a landing; which, in such circumstances, was a point of sufficient importance to justify the expense of the oil that might be requisite for the purpose.
Page 138
When the winds are but light, he added, they are carried back by the current more than they are forwarded by the wind: and if the wind be good, the subtraction of 70 miles a day from their course is of some importance.
Page 168
In this attempt you will find, that the water buoys you up against your inclination; that it is not so easy a thing to sink as you imagined; that you cannot but by active force get down to the egg.
Page 191
When you come to re-kindle the fire in the morning, turn open the register before you lift up the slider, otherwise, if there be any smoke in the fireplace, it will come out into the room.
Page 209
Part of it enters and goes up the chimney, and the rest rises and takes place near the ceiling.
Page 210
The same kind of shelf should also be placed here.
Page 271
_I should not have_ noticed _this, were it not that the gentleman_, &c.
Page 284
Page 288
Perhaps the latter is best done by pairing the scholars; two of those nearest equal in their spelling to be put together.
Page 329
Humanizing by degrees, it admitted slavery instead of death: a farther step was the exchange of prisoners instead of slavery: another, to respect more the property of private persons under conquest, and be content with acquired dominion.
Page 347
Page 357
draws electricity from the clouds, 428.
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