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more light #01
by Ed Halpaus
11 January 2005
From the book “From Boyhood to Manhood – Life of Benjamin Franklin” by William
M. Thayer, (William Makepeace)
I have your favors of the 21st of March, in which you both seem concerned lest I have imbibed some erroneous opinions. Doubtless I have my share, and when the natural weakness and imperfection of human understanding is considered, the unavoidable influence of education, custom, books, and company, upon our ways of thinking, I imagine a man must have a good deal of vanity who believes, and a good deal of boldness who affirms, that all the doctrines he holds are true, and all he rejects are false. And, perhaps, the same may be justly said of every sect, church, and society of men, when they assume to themselves that infallibility which they deny to the pope and councils.
"I think opinions should be judged of by their influences and effects; and if man holds none that tend to make him less virtuous or more vicious, it may be concluded he holds none that are dangerous, which, I hope, is the case with me.
"I am sorry you should have any uneasiness on my account, and, if it were a thing possible for one to alter his opinions in order to please another's, I know none whom I ought more willingly to oblige in that respect than yourselves. But, since it is no more in a man's power to think than to look like another, methinks all that should be expected from me is to keep my mind open to conviction; to hear patiently, and examine attentively, whatever is offered me for that end; and, if after all I continue in the same errors, I believe your usual charity will induce you rather to pity and excuse than blame me; in the mean time your care and concern for me is what I am very thankful for.
"My mother grieves that one of her sons is an Arian, another an Arminian; what
an Arminian or an Arian is, I can not say that I very well know. The truth is, I
make such distinctions very little my study. I think vital religion has always
suffered when orthodoxy is more regarded than virtue; and the Scriptures assure
me that at the last day we shall not be examined what we thought, but what we
did; and our recommendation will not be that we said, Lord! Lord! but that we
did good to our fellow-creatures. See Matt. xx.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014