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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

by Benjamin Franklin

Religion Quotes Page 3

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

[God] ought to be worshiped by Adoration, Prayer and Thanksgiving.
But that the most acceptable Service of God is doing Good to Man. […]
And that God will certainly reward Virtue and punish Vice either here or hereafter. (3.4)

In another of Franklin's prayers, he presents some pretty traditional-sounding Christian beliefs: that God should be worshipped through prayer and thanks, and that people's actions in life will have consequences either in heaven or on earth. Franklin's prayer is notable, though, for the way it prioritizes doing good works for other people as the most important way of serving God, showing it as even more important than prayer or traditional worship.

Quote #8

I stuck by him, however, as I rather approv'd his giving us good Sermons compos'd by others, than bad ones of his own Manufacture; tho' the latter was the Practice of our common Teachers. (3.10)

Franklin has a different system of judgment than most: because this guy is preaching the kinds of ideas Franklin approves of, he doesn't care that Hemphill is really giving other people's sermons. Even though we treat copying and plagiarism as sins today, Franklin treats that as way less important than the big ideas that are being conveyed in those unoriginal sermons. It pushes us to ask what we consider more important: originality or goodness.

Quote #9

It was wonderful to see the Change soon made in the Manners of our Inhabitants; from being thoughtless or indifferent about Religion, it seem'd as if all the World were growing Religious; so that one could not walk thro' the Town in an Evening without Hearing Psalms sung in different Families of every Street. (3.20)

While Franklin isn't a churchgoer or an advocate for any particular religious sect – except his own, non-sect beliefs – he's open-minded enough to still consider people's beliefs in religion a good thing and support them in his society. His use of the word "wonderful" here is really interesting, too. While it can mean awesome or great, it can also mean miraculous or amazing. This religious fervor is, in a way, a miracle.

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