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Ben’s careful thoughts about religion

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Most of us know Franklin as one of the fathers of our country and a curious man who tested the lightning of heavens by flying a kite in a storm. Few of us know he thought a lot about religion. These thoughts are found in letters, speeches and in 1728 in his text Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion. How might our thoughts compare to his?

“I believe there is one Supreme most perfect Being, Author and Father of the Gods themselves. For I believe that Man is not the most perfect Being but One, rather that as there are many Degrees of Beings his Inferiors, so there are many Degrees of Beings superior to him. Also, when I stretch my Imagination thro’ and beyond our System of Planets, beyond the visible fix’d Stars themselves, into that Space that is every Way infinite, and conceive it fill’d with Suns like ours, each with a Chorus of Worlds for ever moving round him, then this little Ball on which we move, seems, even in my narrow Imagination, to be almost Nothing, and my self less than nothing, and of no sort of Consequence. When I think thus, I imagine it great Vanity in me to suppose, that the Supremely Perfect, does in the least regard such an inconsiderable Nothing as Man. More especially, since it is impossible for me to have any positive clear Idea of that which is infinite and incomprehensible, I cannot conceive otherwise, than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no Worship or Praise from us, but that he is even INFINITELY ABOVE IT. But since there is in all Men something like a natural Principle which enclines them to DEVOTION or the Worship of some unseen Power; And since Men are endued with Reason superior to all other Animals that we are in our World acquainted with; Therefore I think it seems required of me, and my Duty, as a Man, to pay Divine Regards to SOMETHING. I CONCEIVE then, that the INFINITE has created many Beings or Gods, vastly superior to Man, who can better conceive his Perfections than we, and return him a more rational and glorious Praise. As among Men, the Praise of the Ignorant or of Children, is not regarded by the ingenious Painter or Architect, who is rather honour’d and pleas’d with the Approbation of Wise men and Artists…

“It is that particular wise and good God, who is the Author and Owner of our System, that I propose for the Object of my Praise and Adoration. For I conceive that he has in himself some of those Passions he has planted in us, and that, since he has given us Reason whereby we are capable of observing his Wisdom in the Creation, he is not above caring for us, being pleas’d with our Praise, and offended when we slight Him, or neglect his Glory.”

Franklin, Benjamin. “The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, Volume II: Philadelphia, 1726 – 1757 — Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion.” The History Carper — Primary Source Documents, Histories, and Stories. Web. 06 July 2010. <www.historycarper.com/resources/twobf2/articles.htm>.

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