page 43 - Start of Part 3 Autobiography start page page 45
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Ben Franklin

autobiography

page 44

Franklin's Autobiography
Revolving this project in my mind, as to be undertaking hereafter, when my circumstances should afford me the necessary leisure, I put down from time to time, on pieces of paper, such thoughts as occurred to me respecting it. Most of these are lost; but I find one purporting to be the substance of an intended creed, containing, as I thought, the essentials of every known religion and being free of everything that might shock the professors of any religion. It is expressed in these words, viz.:

"That there is one God, who made all things.

"That He governs the world by His providence.

"That He ought to be worshiped by adoration, prayer, and thanksgiving.

"But that the most acceptable service of God is doing good to man.

"That the soul is immortal.,

"And that God will certainly reward virtue and punish vice, either here or hereafter."

My ideas at that time were that the sect should be begun and spread at first among young and single men only; that each person to be initiated should not only declare his assent to such creed, but should have exercised himself with the thirteen weeks' examination and practice of the virtues, as in the before-mentioned model; that the existence of such society should be kept a secret till it was become considerable, to prevent solicitation for the admission of improper persons, but that the members should each of them search among his acquaintance for ingenuous, well-disposed youths, to whom, with prudent caution, the scheme should be gradually communicated; that the members should engage to afford their advice, assistance, and support to each other in promoting one another's interests, business, and advancement in life; that, for distinction, we should be called The society of the free and easy: free, as being, by the general practice and habit of the virtues, free from the dominion of vice; and particularly, by the practice of industry and frugality, free from debt, which expose a man to confinement and a species of slavery to his creditors.

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