Johnathan Edwards And Benjamin Franklin Essay, Research Paper
Jonathan Edwards and Benjamin Franklin
Jonathan Edwards and Benjamin Franklin both wrote simply, directly and without aristocratic pretense. They felt writing was not an end in itself, but a work done in the service of something greater whether it be God or mankind. In his “Personal Narrative,” Edwards focuses on the ecclesiastical whereas Franklin, in “The Way to Wealth” appeals to the individual. Edwards wrote to understand what was happening around him and admits, “I made seeking my salvation the main business of my life,”. Franklin, rather, wrote on self improvement, similarly to an author of a modern day self-help book. He wrote to inform and would represent himself attractively with numerous aphorisms such as “Lost time is never found” and “The sleeping fox catches no poultry”.
Edwards, in “Personal Narrative,” crystallized into language of permanent beauty one of the great mystical experiences of the race. His conversion at age 17, demonstrates his awareness of a meaningful world: “I often used to sit and view the Moon, for a long time; and so in the daytime spent much time in viewing the clouds and sky, to behold glory of God in these things. . . ” Franklin would not sit quietly and view the moon for he reminds his audience that “there will be sleeping enough in the grave”. He encourages independence saying “God helps them that help themselves”. Franklin tried that strategy: “I used to be continually examining myself, and studying and contriving for likely ways and means, how I should live holily, with far greater diligence and earnestness, than ever I pursued any thing in my life” and he writes of his failure: ” but yet with too great a dependence on my own strength; which afterwards proved a great damage to me.” To undue the damage, Edward later viewed “that God should govern the world, and order all things according to his own pleasure; and I rejoiced in it, that God reigned, and that his will was done”.
The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 5th ed. Vol. 1. Eds
Bayme, et al. New York: W.W. Norton. 1998