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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Benjamin Frankin, on religion

Benjamin Franklin, from a letter to Ezra Stiles (3-9-1790):

"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, haver 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. I see no harm,
however, in its being believed, if that Belief has the good
Consequence, as probably it has, of making his Doctrines more
respected and better observed; especially as I do not perceive, that
the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the Unbelievers of the
World with any peculiar Marks of his Displeasure."

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