Thursday, June 18, 2020

This week I have been reading some early American literature from the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries reflecting the ideals of the founding fathers of this Nation.  I read part of the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). Almost exactly the same years Mr. John Wesley (1703-1791) was living and working in England resulting in the founding of Methodism which spread quickly to America.  Franklin, born in Boston, moved to Philadelphia at the age of 17 where he worked first as a printer — expanding to founding a newspaper, inventor and serving as a diplomat.  His last public act was to petition the US Congress to abolish slavery.  The lines I quote from Franklin help us to understand the source of his greatness:

“About this time I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection.  I wished to live without committing any fault at any time . . . . . I concluded that the mere conviction that it was our interest to be completely virtuous was not sufficient to prevent our slipping, and that the contrary habits must be broken, and good ones acquired and established . . . . . I proposed to myself, for the sake of clearness, to name thirteen virtues that at that time occurred to me as necessary, and annexed to each a short precept, which fully expressed the extent I gave to its meaning . . . . . I made a little book, in which I allotted a page for each of the virtues . . . on which I might mark, by a little black spot, every fault I found upon examination to have been  committed respecting that virtue upon that day . . . . . I hoped, the encouraging pleasure of seeing on my pages the progress I made in virtue, . . . I should be happy in viewing a clean book . . . . . and conceiving God to be the fountain of wisdom, I thought it right and necessary to solicit His assistance for obtaining it; to this end I formed the following little prayer, which are prefixed to my tables of examinations, for daily use:

O powerful Goodness!  Bountiful Father!  Merciful Guide!  Increase in me that wisdom which discovers my truest interest.  Strengthen my resolution to perform what that wisdom dictates.  Accept my kind offices to Thy other children as the only return in my power for Thy continual favors to me.”  Amen — Benjamin Franklin

–Pastor John

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