Benjamin Franklin, Jonathan Edwards, and the Representation by Barbara B. Oberg, Harry S. Stout

By Barbara B. Oberg, Harry S. Stout

This interdisciplinary choice of comparative essays by means of distinctive historians and literary critics appears at features of the idea of Jonathan Edwards and Benjamin Franklin and considers where of those males in American tradition. most likely the 2 so much tested figures of the colonial interval, they've got frequently been the thing of comparative reviews. those characterizations often painting them as together particular perfect varieties, hence putting them in different types as various and hostile as "traditional" and "modern." In those essays--by such students as William Breitenbach, Edwin Gaustad, Elizabeth Dunn, and Ruth Bloch--polemical contrasts disappear and Edwards and Franklin turn out to be contrapuntal topics in a bigger solidarity. Benjamin Franklin, Jonathan Edwards, and the illustration of yankee tradition is a worthwhile addition to scholarship on American literature and notion.

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Extra info for Benjamin Franklin, Jonathan Edwards, and the Representation of American Culture

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He was accountable to God but followed his own notions of right and wrong. For Franklin, the problem of accountability is not in the least complex. Although he believed in a deistical God throughout his life, there is no evidence that he ever acknowledged a personal relationship with Christ. Indeed, in a statement in his private "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion" at the age of twenty-two, he specifically denied the possibility of personal communication with the supreme being. In his words, "I imagine it great Vanity in me to suppose, that the Supremely Perfect, does in the least regard such an inconsiderable Nothing as Man .

21. Autobiography, ed. Labarce, pp. 80, 87. 22. , p. 81. 23. , p. 94. 24. R. Jackson Wilson argues persuasively that BF's Autobiography describes a struggle to break out of a system of patronage and to establish independence and autonomy. Sec Wilson, Figures of Speech, pp. 42-51; see also in this regard, Hugh J. Dawson, "Fathers and Sons: Franklin's 'Memoirs' as Myth and Metaphor," Early American Literature 14 (1979-80): 269-78. It is perhaps worth noting that JE, and his New Divinity followers, in their discussions of original sin and the atonement, moved away from the older interpretations of imputation and convenantal status that were, in a sense, theological versions of a patronage system.

The Bible offered strong motives to virtue but no universal rule for deciding which actions are virtuous and which not. Edwards affirmed that men must act out of a sense of duty. "21 While maintaining that "devotion and not mutual love, charity, justice, beneficence, etc. is the highest end of man,"22 he also insists on the paramount obligation of works of charity. Although he speaks of those things that are our duty as "being required by moral rules, or absolute positive commands of God,23 nowhere does he declare whether rules of conduct are based upon Scriptures, rational decision, or conscience.

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