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our more speedy disconfiture in the synod. I stuck by him, however. I rather approved his giving us good sermons composed by others, than bad ones of his own, though the latter was the practice of our common teachers."
Had the young man said frankly, “I am rehearsing to you the most eloquent sermons of the most eloquent English divines,” no one could have found any fault. But for him to assume that the sermons were his own, and that he personally was entitled to the credit of whatever power they exhibited, was certainly practicing deception.
a gross violation of Franklin's cardinal virtue of sinterity. It was unworthy of Franklin, in his charitable regard for the offender, to gloss over the real criminality of the offence.
A year after Franklin's marriage, a son was born to him, to whom he gave the name of Francis Folger Franklin. All accounts agree in describing the child as endowed with remarkable beauty and intelligence. Probably Franklin never loved any being as he loved that child. In the year 1736, when this wonderful boy was but four years of age, he was seized with the small-pox and died. Even the philosophic Franklin was almost crushed by the terrible calamity. The cheering views of the Christian faith could not sustain him. He had no vivid conception of his cherub boy an angel in Heaven awaiting his father's arrival. He could only say that “ I am inclined to believe that my child has not passed away into utter annihilation; but who knows? Many of the wisest and best on earth utterly discard the idea of a future existence. They deem the thought the conceit of ignorance and fanaticism.”
We read the following epitah on his little gravestone with much sympathy for the bereaved father. He could only write
The delight of all who knew him.
In the year 1739, Rev. George Whitefield arrived in Philadelphia. It is remarkable that a warm friendship should have sprung up between men so very diverse in character. But Franklin could not be insensible to the wonderful power of this preacher, in promoting public morals, and in transforming the worst of men into valuable citizens, faithfully performing all the duties of life. It is surprising that this effect of the Gospel did not teach him that Christianity is the “wisdom of God, and the power of God to salvation.” Love was emphatically the message which Whitefield, with tearful eyes and throbbing heart, proclaimed to the wicked and the sorrowing. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but should have everlasting life.” Christ “came not into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved."
Such were the themes which this apostolic preacher unfolded, and which moved human hearts, in these new colonies as seventeen hundred years ago they were moved by the preaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, and his disciple Paul, upon the plains of Asia.
Whitefield taught that belief controlled conduct. As a man sincerely believes so will he act. Franklin, with his accustomed candor, in his Autobiography, wrote in the following terms, the effects of the preaching of this remarkable reformer:
“The multitudes of all sects and denominations that attended his sermons were enormous. wonderful to see the change soon made in the manriers of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious; so that one could not walk through the town, in an evening, without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.
“ Mr. Whitefield, on leaving us, went preaching all the way through the colonies to Georgia. The settlement of that province had been lately begun; but instead of being made with hardy, industrious husbandmen, accustomed to labor, the only people fit for such an enterprise, it was with families of broken shop-keepers, and other insolvent debtors; many of indolent and idle habits, taken out of the jails who, being set down in the woods, unqualified for clearing land, and unable to endure the hardships of a new settlement, perished in numbers, leaving many helpless children unprovided for.
“The sight of their miserable situation inspired the benevolent heart of Mr. Whitefield with the idea of building an Orphan House there in which they might be supported and educated. Returning northward, he preached up this charity, and made large collections."
“I did not disapprove of the design; but as Georgia was then destitute of materials and workmen, and it was proposed to send them from Philadelphia at a great expense, I thought it would have been better to have built the house at Philadelphia, and brought the children to it. This I advised. But he was resolute in his first project, rejected my counsel, and I therefore refused to contribute.
“I happened soon after to attend one of his ser
mons, in the course of which I perceived he intended to finish with a collection, and I silently resolved he should get nothing from me.
I had in my pocket a handful of copper money, three or four silver dollars, and five pistoles in gold, (about twenty-five dollars). As he proceeded I began to soften, and concluded to give the copper; another stroke of his oratory made me ashamed of that, and determined me to give the silver; and he finished so admirably that I emptied my pockets wholly into the collector's dish, gold and all.
“Some of Mr. Whitefield's enemies affected to suppose that he would apply these collections to his own private emolument. But I, who was intimately acquainted with him, being employed in printing his sermons and journals, never had the least suspicion of his integrity; but am to this day decidedly of the opinion, that he was in all his conduct a perfectly honest man; and methinks my testimony ought have the more weight, as we had no religious connection.
He used, indeed, sometimes to pray for my conversion, but never had the satisfaction of believing that his prayers were heard. Ours was a friendship sincere on both sides, and lasted to his death." *
At one time Franklin wrote to Whitefield, in
Autobiography of Franklin," as given by Sparks, p. 139.