Benjamin Franklin Representative selections, with introduction, bibliograpy, and notes

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 90

freeing man "from vain Terrors."[i-487] To
Condorcet, his friend and disciple, Franklin was one who "was enabled to
wield a power sufficient to disarm the wrath of Heaven."[i-488]

He expressed his creed just before his death in the often-quoted letter
to Ezra Stiles.[i-489] Bearing in mind his inveterate scientific deism,
we are not surprised that his religion is one created apart from
Christian scripture, that Jesus is the conventional, amiable
philosopher, respected but not worshipped by the Enlightenment. If he
seems convinced in this letter that God "governs" the universe "by his
Providence," we have seen above that his attitude toward the Deity's
relation to man and his world was anything but sure and free from
disturbing reflection. Convinced that the Deity "ought to be
worshipped," he next observed "that the most acceptable service we
render to him is doing good to his other children." His a priori concept
of a benevolent Deity whose goodness is expressed in the harmony of the
creation, in effect challenged him to attempt to approximate this
kindness in his relations with his fellow men. Apart from provoking
humanitarianism, primarily an ethical experience guided not by
sentimentality but by reason and practicality. Franklin's natural
religion--like deism in general--failed, as scriptural religion does
not, to establish a union between theology, the religious life, and
ethical behavior. It must be seen that Franklin had no confidence in
achieving the good life through mere fellow-service: he continually
urged man to conquer passion through reason, seeming to covet pagan
sobriety more than he did the satisfaction of having aided man to
achieve greater physical ease. If he felt that "to relieve the
misfortunes of our fellow creatures is concurring with the Deity; it is
godlike,"[i-490] he warned against helping those who had failed to help
themselves, implying that the inner growth of the individual is more
significant than his outward charity to others. Whatever be the ultimate
resolution of these antithetic principles, we see that his
humanitarianism was the offspring of his a priori conceived Deity,
augmented by his experiments in science which led to discovery of
nature's laws. His emphasis on the inward and vertical growth of the
individual toward perfection, on the other hand, may be viewed as the
expression of the introspective force of his Puritan heritage and his
knowledge, direct and indirect, of classical literature. As in the
polarity of his thoughts concerning Providence, so here we see that the
_modus operandi_ of his mind is explicable in terms of the interplay of
the old and the new, Greek paganism (Socratic self-knowledge) and
Christianity and the rationale of the Enlightenment.

Before he became an economist, a

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Text Comparison with Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Page 7
As a writer, he has produced, in his _Autobiography_ and in _Poor Richard's Almanac_, two works that are not surpassed by similar writing.
Page 11
To which I have besides some other inducements.
Page 15
John was bred a dyer, I believe of woollens, Benjamin was bred a silk dyer, serving an apprenticeship at London.
Page 25
[18] A daily London journal, comprising satirical essays on social subjects, published by Addison and Steele in 1711-1712.
Page 30
It was not fair in me to take this advantage, and this I therefore reckon one of the first errata of my life; but the unfairness of it weighed little with me, when under the impressions of resentment for the blows his passion too often urged him to bestow upon me, though he was otherwise not an ill-natur'd man: perhaps I was too saucy and provoking.
Page 31
In our way, a drunken Dutchman, who was a passenger too, fell overboard; when he was sinking, I reached through the water to his shock pate, and drew him up, so that we got him in again.
Page 36
So there being no copy,[27] but one pair of cases, and the Elegy likely to require all the letter, no one could help him.
Page 37
[28] The frames for holding type are in two sections, the upper for capitals and the lower for small letters.
Page 45
When he came to explain with me upon the doctrines, I found several conundrums which I objected to, unless I might have my way a little too, and introduce some of mine.
Page 47
I told him I had been busy, and, having little inclination, had done nothing.
Page 57
employment for a confessor?" "Oh," said she, "it is impossible to avoid _vain thoughts_.
Page 77
Grace's, set apart for that purpose, a proposition was made by me, that, since our books were often referr'd to in our disquisitions upon the queries, it might be convenient to us to have them altogether where we met, that upon occasion they might be consulted; and by thus clubbing our books to a common library, we should, while we lik'd to keep them together, have each of us the advantage of using the books of all the other members, which would be nearly as beneficial as if each owned the whole.
Page 82
, in 1728), entitled, _Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion_.
Page 85
| T.
Page 104
[77] This detection gave many of our party disgust, who accordingly abandoned his cause, and occasion'd our more speedy discomfiture in the synod.
Page 123
It is to be noted that the contributions to this building being made by people of different sects, care was taken in the nomination of trustees, in whom the building and ground was to be vested, that a predominancy should not be given to any sect, lest in time that predominancy might be a means of appropriating the whole to the use of such sect, contrary to the original intention.
Page 137
Page 143
1 bottle flour of mustard.
Page 178
Yet I ought to have charity for these unhappy people, when I consider, that, with all this wisdom of which I am boasting, there are certain things in the world so tempting, for example, the apples of King John, which happily are not to be bought; for if they were put to sale by auction, I might very easily be led to ruin myself in the purchase, and find that I had once more given too much for the _whistle_.
Page 186
_ The Conspiracy form'd by the Grand Vizir last January was Twelvemonth, with design to make himself King of Persia, was seasonably discover'd, and himself and Accomplices secured; since which the State hath enjoy'd its former Tranquility, and a new Vizir is appointed in his room, The old one's Eyes being both put out, he is kept alive (but in Prison) to make him discover all his Riches; which must be immensely great, since they found in one of his Chests four hundred thousand Persian Ducats, beside Foreign Coin, and in another Place abundance of Jewels, Gold and Silver; and so in proportion among several of his Accomplices; by the help of which Treasure they hoped to compass their Ends.