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Some thoughts of Ben Franklin (1790)

I have been reading Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography and other writings (ISBN: 0140390529) and his writings do stand well the test of time, as well as being quite entertaining to read.

Towards the end of this book, amongst his miscellaneous writings, is an interesting one from a letter to Ezra Stiles:

“Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, 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. These I take to be the fundamental Principles of all Sound Religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever Sect I meet with them.

As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity; tho’ it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, never having 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.”

This is as good a summary of the position I hold as I’ve seen in modern times. Although I’m not sure I agree with Franklin’s thoughts on the Divinity of Jesus. But it is food for thought.