Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 74

and unedifying, since not a single moral principle was
inculcated or enforced, their aim seeming to be rather to make us
Presbyterians than good citizens.

At length he took for his text that verse of the fourth chapter of
Philippians: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever
things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are
of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise,
think on these things;" and I imagined, in a sermon on such a text, we
could not miss of having some morality. But he confined himself to
five points only, as meant by the apostle: 1. Keeping holy the Sabbath
day. 2. Being diligent in reading the holy Scriptures. 3. Attending
duly the public worship. 4. Partaking of the sacrament. 5. Paying a
due respect to God's ministers. These might be all good things; but,
as they were not the kind of good things that I expected from that
text, I despaired of ever meeting with them from any other, was
disgusted, and attended his preaching no more. I had some years before
composed a little liturgy, or form of prayer, for my own private use
(in 1728), entitled "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion." I
returned to the use of this, and went no more to the public
assemblies. My conduct might be blamable, but I leave it without
attempting further to excuse it, my present purpose being to relate
facts, and not to make apologies for them.

[Footnote 81: This method of expression was adopted on the reformation
of the calendar in England in 1752. It shows in this case that the
February was of the year 1726 according to the old style, and 1727
according to the new calendar. The year 1751 began on the 25th of
March, the former New-Year's Day, and ended, by act of Parliament, at
the 1st of January, 1752.]

[Footnote 82: Declared by word of mouth, not written.]

[Footnote 83: Those who were unable to pay for their passage by ship
from one country to another, sometimes sold their service for a term
of years to the captain who brought them over.]

[Footnote 84: Bound by articles of apprenticeship.]

[Footnote 85: The guinea contains twenty-one shillings, while the
pound has twenty.]

[Footnote 86: A crimp is one who brings recruits to the army or
sailors to ships by false inducements.]

[Footnote 87: Molds.]

[Footnote 88: Here used for salesman.]

[Footnote 89: Marks or registers by which a bill may be identified.]

[Footnote 90: See Note 3, p. 19.]

[Footnote 91: Belief in the existence

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Their youngest son, In filial regard to their memory, Places this stone.
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To return: I continued thus employed in my father's business for two years, that is, till I was twelve years old; and my brother John, who was bred to that business, having left my father, married, and set up for himself at Rhode Island, there was all appearance that I was destined to supply his place, and become a tallow-chandler.
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[3] [3] I fancy his harsh and tyrannical treatment of me might be a means of impressing me with that aversion to arbitrary power that has stuck to me through my whole life.
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by good people as an infidel or atheist.
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the Catholic religion by her husband, whose memory she much revered; had lived much among people of distinction, and knew a thousand anecdotes of them as far back as the times of Charles the Second.
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and farmers as intelligent as most gentlemen from other countries, and perhaps have contributed in some degree to the stand so generally made throughout the colonies in defense of their privileges.
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But your biography will not merely teach self-education, but the education of a wise man; and the wisest man will receive lights and improve his progress, by seeing detailed the conduct of another wise man.
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Tho' I seldom attended any public worship, I had still an opinion of its propriety, and of its utility when rightly conducted, and I regularly paid my annual subscription for the support of the only Presbyterian minister or meeting we had in Philadelphia.
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| M.
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" Another from the Proverbs of Solomon, speaking of wisdom or virtue: "Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand .
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This article, therefore, cost me so much painful attention, and my faults in it vexed me so much, and I made so little progress in amendment, and had such frequent relapses, that I was almost ready to give up the attempt, and content myself with a faulty character in that respect, like the man who, in buying an ax of a smith, my neighbour, desired to have the whole of its surface as bright as the edge.
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in other points of vice and virtue, have given up the struggle, and concluded that "a speckled ax was best"; for something, that pretended to be reason, was every now and then suggesting to me that such extream nicety as I exacted of myself might be a kind of foppery in morals, which, if it were known, would make me ridiculous; that a perfect character might be attended with the inconvenience of being envied and hated; and that a benevolent man should allow a few faults in himself, to keep his friends in countenance.
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About the year 1734 there arrived among us from Ireland a young Presbyterian preacher, named Hemphill, who delivered with a good voice, and apparently extempore, most excellent discourses, which drew together considerable numbers of different persuasion, who join'd in admiring them.
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This detection gave many of our party disgust, who accordingly abandoned his cause, and occasion'd our more speedy discomfiture in the synod.
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They were useful to themselves, and afforded us a good deal of amusement, information, and instruction, besides answering, in some considerable degree, our views of influencing the public opinion on particular occasions, of which I shall give some instances in course of time as they happened.
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Only one Quaker, Mr.
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[10] [10] See the votes.
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Our new governor, Captain Denny, brought over for me the before-mentioned medal from the Royal Society, which he presented to me at an entertainment given him by the city.
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I agreed to go with him the next morning.
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We reply'd that the act had no such intention, and would have no such effect.