Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Benjamin Franklin - a very human man beset with frailties.

"Oh, that cunning plan of the evil one, oh the vainness and the frailties and the foolishness of men. When they are learned they think they are wise and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for the set it aside supposing they know of themselves. Wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsel of God."

Benjamin Franklin, it appears from his autobiography, fell into this trap on numerous occasions. Furthermore, he appeared to want to save himself, negating the Atonement of Christ. He says, "It was about this time I conceiv'd the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wish'd to live without committing any fault at any time;"

Yes, very admirable I'm sure. The impression I get of Franklin thus far in his autobiography was that he was incredibly stubborn, headstrong, and had quite the mouth about him. He was very strict with himself; an exceptionally hard worker, qualities I admire very much. He was an incredibly independent man from a very young age. However, he had other qualities which I do not admire at all. I can see no evidence, as yet, of his affection for his wife; he entered matrimony as a business arrangement.

He was before almost betrothed to Miss Read, then went to London and as soon as he got there wrote to her telling her to get lost, basically. (Lovely) While in London he attempted to seduce the fiancee of a friend of his (The friend, btw, was married to another woman and had abandoned her after she had a child. What great company Franklin kept. He and his friend are quite the pair) but was repulsed and this caused a great rift between his friend and himself.

After he came back from England he wanted to marry a young lady, but because her family wouldn't give him enough money he didn't marry her (See what I mean about it being a business arrangement?) He later met up with Miss Read again and acknowledged she was pretty miserable and it was probably due to him dumping her. He said it was a "great erratum" on his part to have done that, and so married her.

I don't think I would have touched him with a ten foot bargepole.

Anyway, so he's trying to be perfect and acknowledges he can't be and so decides to created HABITS to work on. Sounds kinda like Charlotte Mason. =) These habits are pretty dang good. And here they are:

1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid
trifling conversation.

3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of
your business have its time.

4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without
fail what you resolve.

5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself;
i.e., waste nothing.

6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful;
cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly,
and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits
that are your duty.

9. MODERATION. Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as
you think they deserve.

10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or

11. TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common
or unavoidable.

12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to
dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or

13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Venery: the gratification of sexual desire. Rarely use Venery but for health? Anyone know what he means by that?

And putting Socrates on the same plane as Jesus? Hmm, yes well. See what I mean about "When men are learned they think they are wise"?

I am finding Franklin's biography absolutely fascinating. One sees his pride in his learning so clearly. While he certainly set an absolutely admirable example of self-education, he was also lifted up in his heart because of this. He delighted in confounding others with twisty logic - lifting himself up by putting them down. Not very nice at all.

I believe he was so prideful that he cut off all contact with his only son, and never reconciled with him. What a waste! I've yet to read about that in his autobiography though.

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