Benjamin Franklin Autobiography Essay
“And now I speak of thanking God, I desire with all Humility to acknowledge, that I owe the mention’d Happiness of my past Life to his kind Providence, which led me to the Means I us’d and gave them Success. ” (Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, 28) I chose this quote to open this essay because it’s one of the first things Franklin talks about when he takes over in his autobiography. It shows that he has a relationship with god because he gives god the credit for all of the things he had accomplished.
Throughout his biography he mentions religion quite a few times.
He opposes organized religion, which according to him consists of: Attending Church, donating to pastors ideas, and having to follow (in his opinion) Arbitrary rules. But he is all for believing in god. He says that for someone to believe in god all you need is to pray honestly, be virtuous and do good works.
He often describes the religions out there but he talks about how he doesn’t conform to any certain religion, he talks, and believes in god in his own way, with his own beliefs. Religion was with Benjamin Franklin from the very beginning of his life.
His parents were very religious, especially since his father was a minister. He shared the same beliefs as his parents all until he discovered his passion for reading and writing. “My Parents had early given me religious Impressions, and brought me through my Childhood piously in the Dissenting Way. But I was scarce 15 when, after doubting by turns of several Points as I found them disputed in the different Books I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself. ” (Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, 73) This was the time in his life where he started really making his own decisions.
This was a very risky thing for Franklin at the time. For someone of that time period to question the solidarity of their religion has major repercussions. It just goes to show how confident Franklin was in his beliefs. “Tho’ I seldom attended any Public Worship, I had still an Opinion of its Propriety, and of its Utility when rightly conducted…” (Franklin, Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, 94) This basically shows his respect for people that attend church every Sunday, even though he rarely attends.
He also talks about how he doesn’t mind contributing to the local Presbyterian minister’s salary even though he hardly attended, or really paid attention to his sermons. It’s all because of Franklin’s very progressive process of thought. He didn’t think like most of the people around him, he was able to see that some things didn’t make sense and he would oppose said thoughts that most people agreed with because of their faith. “It will be remark’d that, tho’ my Scheme was not wholly without Religion there was in it no Mark of any of the distinguishing Tenets of any particular Sect. (Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, 102) This is just him pointing out that his beliefs are not without the ideals that religion has put out there, but that he is not a part of any sole religion. Ironically, in a way, he is part of his own personalized religion. It’s not one many people are part of, but he follows his own rules, beliefs and traditions. Now, I wouldn’t call Benjamin Franklin a VERY religious person, but I definitely would say he is religious. My reasoning for this is because yes, he does believe in god, and has his own customs for what he believes in, but he doesn’t focus everything he talks about on religion.
He is also one of the only people from that time that can acknowledge and respect the fact that other people should be entitled to their own religion. He also often spoke of his problems with certain religions and why he never stuck to any of them. Most people from his time period would scoff at the idea of another religion because they are so passionate about theirs. Benjamin Franklin noticed flaws in religions because of things in the books he read that contradicted what a certain religion would say. But on the other side, he does believe in god, and it does help drive him to be the best man he can be.
He strives to be virtuous, do good deeds, and pray as honest as he can. Religion surrounded Benjamin Franklin’s life from the day he was born, til the day he passed. He was one of the first to see the many flaws organized religion had, and he was definitely one of the first to speak out against it. In the end, Franklin thanked one person for all of his accomplishments, and that was his god, and he didn’t need to follow everybody else’s rituals and traditions to believe in him. He did it in his own way, and for him, it worked.