Monday, April 29, 2013

The Sublime Wisdom of Benjamin Franklin

Mike Corthell, Editor & Publisher

Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 - April 17, 1790)

Greatest of American diplomats, hero of the War of Independence, distinguished also as publisher and printer, editor and author, a notable philosopher whose instructive wisdom always charms and edifies, a scientist whose valuable discoveries are even today highly esteemed fundamental additions to practical knowledge he was a devoted Freemason occupying for many years places of official prominence and serving his Brethren with conspicuous Masonic zeal and aptitude.
Born January 17, 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts, he had only two years of school and at the age of ten left to work for his father in soap and candle making. At thirteen apprenticed to his brother James, a printer and publisher who started in 1721 a newspaper, the New England Courant, Franklin soon commenced to write both verse and prose, the latter quaint and vigorous of timely argument on public questions. Franklin went to rev York and in 1723 to Philadelphia, working as a printer. Encouraged to go into business for himself, he left for England, December, 1724, but the promised support failed and as a printer he was employed at London until October, 1726, when he again reached Philadelphia to resume his position there as a workman. In 1728 he formed a printing partnership. More

Benjamin Franklin's Manifest Wisdom

"I beg I may not be understood to infer, that our general convention was divinely inspired when it formed the new federal constitution, merely because that constitution has been unreasonably and vehemently opposed; yet, I must own, I have so much faith in the general government of the world by Providence, that I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance to the welfare of millions now existing, and to exist in the posterity of a great nation, should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent, and beneficent Ruler, in whom all inferior spirits live, and move, and have their being." - A Comparison of the Conduct of the Ancient Jews and of the Anti-Federalists in the United States of America, 1787

"In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth-that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly be lieve this. I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in the political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little, partial local interests; our projects will be confounded; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war, or conquest. I therefore beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business." - To Colleagues at the Constitutional Convention 1787

"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." - Letter to the Abbes Chalut and Arnaud, April 17, 1787

7 Must-Read Life Lessons from Benjamin Franklin:
  1. Waste Not
    "Do not squander time for that is the stuff life is made of."

    Your time is your life. If you waste your time, you are wasting your life. I’ve never met a successful person who didn’t value their time, and I’ve never met an unsuccessful person who did.

    Don’t let other people waste your time either, why is it when someone wants to “kill an hour,” they want to kill your hour as well? Protect your time, it can never be replaced, it can never be replenished, your time is your life.

  2. Learn
    "Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn."

    Benjamin Franklin said, “He that won't be counseled can't be helped.” Always be open to learning. You can learnfrom anyone, and from any situation. You can learn from the fool as well as the genius. Bruce Lee said, “A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”

  3. Make Mistakes
    "Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out."

    Success comes from doing things “right,” and doing things right is usually the result of first doing things wrong. You are certain to make mistakes; the path to success is lined with mistakes and failures, just keep moving. Successful people make a lot of mistakes, but they don’t quit, they keep moving until they arrive to their goal.

  4. Energy and Persistence
    "Energy and persistence conquer all things."

    To have energy and persistence you must have passion, there must be an inner vision that drives you to achieve your goal.

    If you don’t have a clear picture of where you’re going, then you don’t have the energy or persistence to make any noteworthy progress. You must be driven by a picture that is bigger than your current reality.

  5. Prepare
    "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."

    It’s better to not have an opportunity and be prepared, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared. Success loves preparation, are you prepared?

    If the perfect opportunity presented itself, would you be ready for it? Spend your days preparing for success, so when your opportunity comes, you will be ready.

  6. Be Diligent
    "Diligence is the mother of good luck."

    Solomon wrote, the diligent shall be made rich. If you want to be lucky, be diligent, the more diligent you are, the luckier you will be. Everyone has the ability to increase their luck seven fold by becoming more diligent.

    Create the habit of being diligent in all you do, and you will be surprised at how lucky you become.

  7. Make an Impression
    "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."

    Benjamin Franklin said, “Many people die at twenty five and aren't buried until they are seventy five.” I hope you’re not dead, I hope you haven’t achieved all that you’re going to achieve; I hope your best days are in front of you. I think they are.


"I've lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing Proofs I see of this Truth - That God governs in the Affairs of Men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that except the Lord build the House they labor in vain who build it. I firmly believe this, - and I also believe that without his concurring Aid, we shall succeed in this political Building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our Projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a Reproach and Bye word down to future Ages." - Speech to the Constitutional Convention, June 28, 1787

"In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults, - if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered; and I believe, farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other." - Speech to the Constitutional Convention, June 28, 1787

"Remember me affectionately to good Dr. Price and to the honest heretic Dr. Priestly. I do not call him honest by way of distinction; for I think all the heretics I have known have been virtuous men. They have the virtue of fortitude or they would not venture to own their heresy; and they cannot afford to be deficient in any of the other virtues, as that would give advantage to their many enemies; and they have not like orthodox sinners, such a number of friends to excuse or justify them. Do not, however mistake me. It is not to my good friend's heresy that I impute his honesty. On the contrary, 'tis his honesty that has brought upon him the character of heretic." - Letter to Benjamin Vaughn, October 24, 1788

"If by the liberty of the press were understood merely the liberty of discussing the propriety of public measures and political opinions, let us have as much of it as you please: But if it means the liberty of affronting, calumniating and defaming one another, I, for my part, own myself willing to part with my  share of it, whenever our legislators shall please so to alter the law and shall cheerfully consent to exchange my liberty of abusing others for the privilege of not being abused myself." - An Account of the Supremest Court of Judicature in Pennsylvania, viz. The Court of the Press, September 12, 1789

"Slavery is such an atrocious debasement of human nature, that its very extirpation, if not performed with solicitous care, may sometimes open a source of serious evils." - An Address to the Public, November, 1789

"Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." - Letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, November 13, 1789

"1. Temperance... drink not to elevation; 2. Silence... avoid trifling conversation; 3. Order... Let all your things have their places; 4. Resolution... perform without fail what you resolve; 5. Frugality... i.e. waste nothing; 6. Industry... Lose no time, be always employ'd; 7. Sincerity... Use no hurtful deceit, think innocently; 8. Justice... Wrong none by doing injuries; 9. Moderation... Avoid extremes, forbear resenting; 10. Cleanliness... Tolerate no uncleanliness in body; 11. Tranquility... Be not disturbed at trifles; 12. Chastity; 13. Humility... Imitate Jesus." - Autobiography, 1789

"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 favours to me." - Autobiography, his daily prayer, 1789

"I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian; and though some of the dogmas of that persuasion, such as the eternal decrees of God, election, reprobation, etc., appeared to me unintelligible, others doubtful, and I early absented myself from the public assemblies of the sect, Sunday being my studying day, I was never without religious principles. 

I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that he made the world, and governed it by his Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter. These I esteemed the essentials of every religion; and, being to be found in all the religions we had in our country, I respected them all, though with different degrees of respect, as I found them more or less mixed with other articles, which without any tendency to inspire, promote, or co nfirm morality, served principally to divide us, and make us unfriendly to one another. 

This respect of all... induced me to avoid all discourse that might tend to lessen the good opinion another might have of his own religion; and as our province increased in people, and new places of worship were continually wanted, and generally erected by voluntary contribution, my mite for such propose, whatever might bane the sect, was never refused. 

Though I seldom attended any public worship, I had still an opinion of its propriety, and of its utility when rightly conducted, and I regularly paid my annual subscription for the support of the only Presbyterian minister or meeting we had in Philadelphia. He used to visit me sometimes as a friend, and admonish me to attend his administration." - Autobiography, 1789

"Human felicity [happiness] is produc'd not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day." - Autobiography, 1789

"My parents had early given me religious impressions, and brought me through my childhood piously in the Dissenting way. But I was scarce fifteen, 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. Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyle's Lectures. It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist." - Autobiography, 1789

"So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do." - Autobiography, 1789

"Search others for their virtues, thy self for thy vices; Keep your eyes open before marriage, half shut afterwards; My father convinced me that nothing was useful which was not honest; Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature; Virtue alone is sufficient to make a man great, glorious and happy; Let the fair sex be assured that I shall always treat them and their affairs with the utmost decency and respect; Self-denial is really the highest self-gratification; Beware of little expenses; Remember Job suffered and was afterwards prosperous; I never doubted the existence of the Deity, that he made the world, and governed it by His Providence; The event God only knows; Good wives and good plantations are made by good husbands; Hope and faith may be more firmly grounded upon Charity than Charity upon hope and faith; Virtue is not secure until its practice has become habitual; Nothing is so likely to make a man's fortune as virtue; Without virtue man can have no happiness; The pleasures of this world are rather from God's goodness than our own merit; Contrary habits must be broken, and good ones acquired and established, before we can have any dependence on a steady, uniform rectitude of conduct; Let no pleasure tempt thee, no profit allure thee, no ambition corrupt thee, no example sway thee, no persuasion move thee to do anything which thou knowest to be evil, so thou shalt live jollily, for a good conscience is a continual Christmas." - Maxims and Morals, 1789

"Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshipped. 

That the most acceptable service we render to Him is in doing good to His other Children. That the soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound Religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever Sect I meet with them. 

As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, is the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see." - Letter to Ezra Stiles, President of Yale University, March 9, 1790

"THE BODY of BENJAMIN FRANKLIN Printer, Like the cover of an old book, Its contents torn out, And stripped of its lettering and gilding Lies here, food for worms; Yet the work itself shall not be lost, For it will (as he believed) appear once more, In a new, And more beautiful edition, Corrected and amended By the AUTHOR" - His self-written Epitaph, April 17, 1790


This is the electronic edition of the the first Masonic book printed in America, which was originally produced and printed in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin in 1734, and was a reprint of a work by James Anderson (who is identified as the author in an appendix) printed in London in 1723. This is the seminal work of American Masonry, edited and published by one of the founding fathers, and of great importance to the development of colonial society and the formation of the Republic. The work contains a 40-page history of Masonry: from Adam to the reign of King George I, including, among others, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Solomon, Hiram Abif, Nebuchadnezzar, Augustus Caesar, Vitruvius, King Athelstan the Saxon, Inigo Jones, and James I of England. It is a celebration of the science of Geometry and the Royal Art of Architecture.

History, Charges, Regulations, &c.
of that most Ancient and Right
Worshipful FRATERNITY.
For the Use of the L O D G E S .
LONDON Printed; Anno 5723.
Re-printed in Philadelphia by special Order, for the Use
of the Brethren in NORTH-AMERICA.
In the Year of Masonry 5734, Anno Domini 1734.

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