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master, was a little neglected. In truth, he was an odd creature; ignorant of common life, fond of rudely opposing received opinions, slovenly to extreme dirtiness, enthusiastic in some points of religion, and a little knavish withal.
We continued there near three months; and by that time I could reckon among my acquired friends, Judge Allen, Samuel Bustill, the Secretary of the Province, Isaac Pearson, Joseph Cooper, and several of the Smiths, members of Assembly, and Isaac Decow, the Surveyor-General.
The latter was a shrewd, sagacious old man, who told me, that he began for himself when young by wheeling clay for the brickmakers, learned to write after he was of age, carried the chain for surveyors, who taught him surveying, and he had now by his industry acquired a good estate; and said he, "I foresee, that you will soon work this man out of his business, and make a fortune in it at Philadelphia." He had then not the least intimation of my intention to set up there or anywhere. These friends were afterwards of great use to me, as I occasionally was to some of them. They all continued their regard for me as long as they lived.
Before I enter upon my public appearance in business, it may be well to let you know the then state of my mind, with regard to my principles and morals, that you may see how far those influenced the future events of my life. 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 several points, as I found them disputed in the different books I read, I began to doubt of the Revelation itself. Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of the sermons, which had been
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. My arguments perverted some others, particularly Collins and Ralph; but, each of these having wronged me greatly without the least compunction, and recollecting Keith's conduct towards me, (who was another freethinker,) and my own towards Vernon and Miss Read, which at times gave me great trouble; I began to suspect that this doctrine, though it might be true, was not very useful. My London pamphlet, printed in 1725,* which had for its motto these lines of Dryden ;
"Whatever is, is right. But purblind man
Sees but a part o' the chain, the nearest links;
and which from the attributes of God, his infinite wisdom, goodness, and power, concluded that nothing could possibly be wrong in the world; and that vice and virtue were empty distinctions, no such things existing ; appeared now not so clever a performance as I once
* Dr. Franklin, in a letter to Benjamin Vaughan, dated November 9th, 1779, gives a further account of this pamphlet in these words.
"It was addressed to Mr. J. R., that is, James Ralph, then a youth of about my age, and my intimate friend; afterwards a political writer and historian. The purport of it was to prove the doctrine of fate, from the supposed attributes of God; in some such manner as this. That in erecting and governing the world, as he was infinitely wise, he knew what would be best; infinitely good, he must be disposed, and infinitely powerful, he must be able, to execute it. Consequently all is right.
"There were only a hundred copies printed, of which I gave a few to friends; and afterwards disliking the piece, as conceiving it might have an ill tendency, I burnt the rest, except one copy, the margin of which was filled with manuscript notes by Lyons, author of the Infallibility of Human Judgment, who was at that time another of my acquaint
thought it; and I doubted whether some error had not insinuated itself unperceived into my argument, so as to infect all that followed, as is common in metaphysical reasonings.
I grew convinced, that truth, sincerity, and integrity, in dealings between man and man, were of the utmost importance to the felicity of life; and I formed written resolutions, which still remain in my journal book, to practise them ever while I lived.* Revelation had indeed no weight with me, as such; but I entertained an opinion, that, though certain actions might not be bad, because they were forbidden by it, or good because it commanded them; yet probably those actions might be forbidden because they were bad for us, or commanded because they were beneficial to us, in their own natures, all the circumstances of things considered. And this persuasion, with the kind hand of Providence, or some guardian angel, or accidental favorable circumstances and situations, or all together, preserved me, through this dangerous time of youth, and the hazardous situations I was sometimes in among strangers, remote from the eye and advice of my father, free from any wilful gross immorality or injustice, that
ance in London. I was not nineteen years of age when it was written. In 1730, I wrote a piece on the other side of the question, which began with laying for its foundation this fact; That almost all men in all ages and countries have at times made use of PRAYER.' Thence I reasoned, that, if all things are ordained, prayer must among the rest be ordained. But, as prayer can procure no change in things that are ordained, praying must then be useless, and an absurdity. God would therefore not ordain praying if every thing else was ordained. But praying exists, therefore all other things are not ordained, &c. This pamphlet was never printed, and the manuscript has been long lost. The great uncertainty I found in metaphysical reasonings disgusted me, and I quitted that kind of reading and study for others more satisfactory."— W. T. F. * See Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion, Vol. II. p. 1. Among Franklin's papers I have found a curious manuscript in his handwriting, which contains a new version of the Lord's Prayer. The
might have been expected from my want of religion. I say wilful, because the instances I have mentioned. had something of necessity in them, from my youth, inexperience, and the knavery of others. I had therefore a tolerable character to begin the world with; I valued it properly, and determined to preserve it.
We had not been long returned to Philadelphia, before the new types arrived from London. We settled with Keimer, and left him by his consent before he heard of it. We found a house to let near the Market, and took it. To lessen the rent, which was then but twenty-four pounds a year, though I have
condition and appearance of the manuscript prove it to have been an early performance, but its precise date is not known. The form in which it is written is here preserved. - EDITOR.
4. Thy will be done on earth, as it 4. May thy laws be obeyed on is in heaven.
earth, as perfectly as they are in heaven.
5. Give us this day our daily bread. 5. Provide for us this day, as thou
hast hitherto daily done.
6. Forgive us our debts, as we for- 6. Forgive us our trespasses, and give our debtors. enable us to forgive those who offend us.
7. And lead us not into temptation, 7. Keep us out of temptation, and
- Our Father which art in Heaven.
NEW VERSION. Heavenly Father is more concise, equally expressive, and better modern English.
OLD VERSION.— - Hallowed be thy name. This seems to relate to an observance among the Jews not to pronounce the proper or peculiar name of God, they deeming it a profanation so to do. We have in our language no proper name for God; the word God being a common, or general name, expressing all chief objects of worship, true or false. The
since known it to let for seventy, we took in Thomas Godfrey, a glazier, and his family, who were to pay a considerable part of it to us, and we to board with them. We had scarce opened our letters and put our press in order, before George House, an acquaintance of mine, brought a countryman to us, whom he had met in the street, inquiring for a printer. All our cash was now expended in the variety of particulars we had been obliged to procure, and this countryman's five shillings, being our first-fruits, and coming so seasonably, gave me more pleasure than any crown I have since earned; and the gratitude I felt towards
word hallowed is almost obsolete. People now have but an imperfect conception of the meaning of the petition. It is therefore proposed to change the expression into
- May all revere thee.
NEW VERSION. OLD VERSION. Thy kingdom come. This petition seems suited to the then condition of the Jewish nation. Originally their state was a theocracy; God was their king. Dissatisfied with that kind of government, they desired a visible, earthly king, in the manner of the nations around them. They had such kings accordingly; but their happiness was not increased by the change, and they had reason to wish and pray for a return of the theocracy, or government of God. Christians in these times have other ideas, when they speak of the kingdom of God, such as are perhaps more adequately expressed by the
NEW VERSION. - Become thy dutiful children and faithful subjects. OLD VERSION.- Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven; more explicitly
NEW VERSION.-May thy laws be obeyed on earth, as perfectly as they are in heaven.
OLD VERSION. Give us this day our daily bread. - Give us what is ours seems to put in a claim of right, and to contain too little of the grateful acknowledgment and sense of dependence that become creatures, who live on the daily bounty of their Creator. Therefore it is changed to
NEW VERSION. - Provide for us this day, as thou hast hitherto daily done. OLD VERSION.-Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. (Matthew). Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. (Luke). Offerings were due to God on many occasions by the Jewish law, which, when people could not pay, or had forgotten, as debtors are apt to do, it was proper to pray that those debts might be