I continue to have a raging recurrence of insomnia so am going to weave together a few sentences from the biography ‘Benjamin Franklin’, by Walter Isaacson, for today’s post.
We all know that Franklin, though a token Presbyterian, was in reality a deist. Still, he couldn’t stop being common sense Ben Franklin – observing and analyzing effects. Consequently:
As a young man, “….he soon came to the conclusion that a simple and complacent deism had its own set of drawbacks. He had converted Collins and Ralph (two friends) to deism, and they soon wronged him without moral compunction.”
Of course. No lawgiver. No accountability. No restraint. Franklin saw this clearly.
So did this send him scurrying back to the Calvinism of his youth?
No. He decided to fine-tune and expand his deism! He declared that, “The most acceptable service to God (‘God’, that is) is doing good to man.”
And he developed thirteen categories of moral uprightness he felt he must cultivate to meet this goal.
So, as Charles Stanley used to (and may still) say, “Now watch this.”
“On the pages of a little notebook, he made a chart with seven red columns for the days of the week and thirteen rows labeled with his virtues. Infractions were marked with a black spot. The first week he focused on temperance, trying to keep that line clear while not worrying about the other lines. With that virtue strengthened, he could turn his attention to the next one, silence, hoping that the temperance line would stay clear as well. In the course of the year, he would complete the thirteen-week cycle four times.
‘I was surprised to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined’, he dryly noted. In fact, his notebook became filled with holes as he erased the marks in order to reuse the pages….”
So, again, did this send him back to the theology of his youth, which was so clearly being legitimized?
“So he transferred his charts to ivory tablets that could more easily be wiped clean.”
Oh, human nature!