Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston on January 17, 1706. He was the 15th of 17 children. His father was not wealthy, but a poor candle maker. His education was scant, just two years of formal education. Yet, his accomplishments and contributions to society are legendary.
His interests and thirst for learning seem almost insatiable. He was a writer, publisher, inventor, scientist, statesman, politician, and great contributor to society, even a man interested in languages and spelling.
He was a writer and publisher. Some of his “proverbial sentences,” as he called them, still survive to this day, such as: “haste makes waste” and “God helps them that help themselves.”
He was an inventor. Among his inventions were the Franklin stove, a musical instrument called the Armonica, an odometer for wagons, a mechanical hand for getting books off of high shelves, a battery, and the lightening rod, even swimming fins. He patented nothing; He simply wanted to benefit society.
He was a scientist. His experiments discovered that light colors reflect more heat than do dark colors. His experiments with electricity laid much of the foundation for future studies of the subject.
He was a statesman and politician. In 1754 he proposed the Albany Plan, which if followed might have prevented the Revolutionary War. He was a member of the Second Continental Congress. He had diplomatic missions to Britain, France, and Canada. He served as President (Governor) of Pennsylvania. He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and proposed The Great Compromise between the small and large states. He is the only person who signed all four documents that led to the creation of this country: The Declaration of Independence; the treaty with France (that brought French money, troops, warships); the peace treaty with Great Britain (ending the war); and the U. S. Constitution.
He was a great contributor to society. He helped organize Philadelphia’s first fire department, and street cleaning department. He helped organize America’s first fire insurance company. He served as Postmaster of Philadelphia and later all of the colonies, entirely reorganizing the Postal Service. He helped establish what is today the University of Pennsylvania. He was an abolitionist.
He also taught himself the French, Spanish, Italian, German and Latin languages. His interest in languages also led him to try to create a new alphabet and simplify spelling, but his efforts never were accepted.
At age 84, Franklin received a letter from Ezra Stiles (President of Yale University). Stiles wrote, “As much as I know of Dr. Franklin, I have not an idea of his religious sentiments. I wish to know the opinion of my venerable friend concerning Jesus of Nazareth… If I have said too much, let the request be blotted out and be no more; and yet I shall never cease to wish you that happy immortality, which I believe Jesus alone has purchased.” That is, to paraphrase, “Friend, I am concerned for you. You have not much longer on earth. What do you believe?”
Franklin’s response “Here is my creed. I believe in one God, the creator of the universe. That He governs it by His providence. That He ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to Him is doing good to His other children. That the soul of man is immortal and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this… As to Jesus of Nazareth – my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think his system of morals and his religion as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is like to see… some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble…” Paraphrase, “I’ve studied many things but never found time to study this. I am not going to start now, for soon I’ll be gone and will know the truth.”
Franklin never saw another year. Don’t you think it is tragic that the man who had interest in nearly everything, never found time to investigate spiritual matters more thoroughly?
Don’t waste your life finding the answers to nearly everything except what really matters.
Is there a God?
Is the Bible from God?
Is Jesus the divine Son of God?
What must I do to be saved?
How should we worship?
How does one find the right church in this day and age.
How does God want me to live each day?
“Come, let us reason together…” Isaiah 1:18