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sisted in cherishing the ordinarily recognized virtues These were Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation, Cleanliness, Tranquillity, Charity and Humility.
His ritual consisted in devoting one week to the cultivation of each of these virtues. He had no Sab. bath, no preached Gospel, no Sacraments. But his creed, with its corresponding practice, certainly exerted a very powerful influence, and in many respects beneficial, upon his own mind.
With his list of virtues before him, this remarkable young man commenced the effort vigorously to attain perfection. The Christian reader will not be at all surprised to read from Franklin's pen the following account of the result:
“I was surprised to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined. But I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish. After a while I went through one course only in a year, and afterwards only one in several years; till at length I omitted them entirely, being employed in voyages and business abroad, with a multiplicity of affairs that interfered."
Franklin was a very proud man. He could not but be conscious of his great superiority over most of those with whom he associated. He avows that the virtue of humility he never could attain. The semblance of that virtue he could easily assume, but he says that the pride of his heart was such that had he attained it, he would have been proud of his humility. He adopted the following as the ordinary routine of life.
He rose at five, very carefully performed his ablutions, and then offered a brief prayer to a being whom he called “Powerful Goodness." Why he should have preferred that address to the more simple one of “ Our Heavenly Father," we know not. He then laid out the business of the day, and for a short time directed his mind to the especial virtue which he intended that day and week to cherish.*
In the freshness of all his morning energies he devoted himself to his books for an hour and a half. This brought him to breakfast-time. At eight o'clock he commenced work in his shop, to which he devoted himself assiduously until twelve. An hour was then allowed for dinner and rest. At one he returned to the arduous labors of his shop, labors which engrossed all his energies, and continued the employment until six. His day's hard work was then ordinarily closed. He took his supper, received his friends, or more commonly read and studied until ten o'clock at night, when almost invariably he retired to his bed.
* “It was about this time I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wished to live without committing any fault at any time. As I knew, or thought I knew what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found that I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined.”—Autobiography, p. 105.
His mind still for a time continued much interested in his plan for the church of the Free and Easy. We find among his papers that he decided that candidates for admission should, after a careful examination, to ascertain that their creed was, to 1:ave no creed, and that their faith was, to abjure all faith, be subject to a probation of thirteen weeks. It seems that no candidate ever applied for admission. There were no apostles to wander abroad proclaiming the new gospel. Increasing business absorbed Franklin's time, and the new church was forgotten.
The sole motive which Franklin urged to inspire to action, was self-interest. “You should be honest," he would say, “because it is politic. You abstain from vice for the same reason that you should not drink poison, for it will hurt you.” In the enforcement of these views he writes,
“It was my design to explain and enforce this doctrine, that vicious actions are not hurtful because they are forbidden, but forbidden because they are kurtful. It was, therefore, every one's interest to be virtuous who wished to be happy in this world. And I should from this circumstance (there being always in the world a number of rich merchants, nobility, states and princes, who have need of honest instruments for the management of their affairs, and such being so rare) have endeavored to convince young persons that no qualities are so likely to make a poor man's fortune as those of probity and integrity.”
It may be doubted whether such considerations ever made a truly good man. Virtue must be loved for its own sake. Vice must be deserted for its inherent baseness, even though it may bring a great reward.
Franklin, in the prosecution of his studies, devoted himself to French, Spanish, Italian, and even to Latin. In all these he became a proficient. His mind was wonderfully prompt in the acquisition of knowledge. He could hardly have devoted himself more assiduously and successfully to these studies, had some good angel whispered in the ear of the young printer the astounding intelligence, “You are yet to be the ambassador of the United States to European courts. You are to appear in those glittering assemblages as the equal of the highest noble; and are to enjoy the hospitalities of kings and queens. Familiarity with these languages, and the intellectual culture you are thus acquiring will be of more value to you than mines of gold."
This remarkable man prized all branches of knowledge; and seemed to excel in all. He devoted much attention to music. With much skill he played upon the harp, the guitar, the violin, and the violincello.
In the year 1734, a young preacher by the name of Hemphill came to Philadelphia from England. He was deemed by the orthodox clergy, very heterodox in his opinions. Probably suspicions of his orthodoxy were enhanced from the fact that he brought high testimonials of eloquence from several of the most prominent deists and free-thinkers in England. He was very fluent, at times very eloquent, and Franklin was charmed with the man and his doctrines.
Boldly denouncing all creeds, and all religious faith, he announced it as his creed and his faith that piety consists in conduct alone. Crowds flocked to hear him. One day, after preaching a very eloquent sermon, some one discovered that he had stolen that sermon from Dr. James Foster, the most popular preacher in London. An investigation took place, in which he was compelled to acknowledge that he had stolen every one of his sermons. Franklin writes,
“ This detection gave many of our party disgust, who accordingly abandoned his cause, and occasioned