2001-04-09 - Benjamin Franklin
Philippians 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
From time to time I come upon something in my reading that seems worth sharing with you all. I have always been taught that Benjamin Franklin was a deist. Deists believe that knowledge of God comes through reason rather than the revealed will of God as found in the Bible. They also hold that after God created the world, he ceased to be involved in it. Thus they do not believe in a personal God.
However, I came upon this short article from a journal published in 1870. It relates an instance from the life of Benjamin Franklin. It used to be said of Franklin that all you had to do was to look at his face to prove the existence of God. His face was so full of wisdom and intelligence that it proved that there must be a wise and intelligent creator.
After the American revolution Franklin represented the interests of America in France. He was probably more popular in France and England than in America. While being entertained with some dignitaries someone attributed the phrase, "he had snatched the lightning from the heavens and the scepter from tyrants," to him. This was meant as a compliment, but Franklin did not take it this way. He replied, "Gentlemen! I thank you! I thought I knew before all the proofs of the existence of a God; but your blasphemies have taught me I had yet one more to learn. To hate God, and to insult Him, as you do, demonstrates that He is …"
He continued, "According to you, a man is great in proportion as he revolts and rebels; but I say, a man is never greater or stronger than when he truly humbles himself before God." He continues in a dialogue for a short time and then speaks of his thoughts when he discovered electricity. "When I was on the verge of the discovery you allude to, I felt a species of religious awe, which brought me to my knees, asking pardon of the Almighty Being against whose power I was in a sense arming myself. Shall I go further, and tell you what befell as I returned from England to my own country?"
"Our ship was mid-ocean; I was seated one evening on deck, indulging pleasing reflections on the honorable reception which had been accorded to me in Europe, and the applause which probably awaited me in America. Proud thoughts were not wanting when I looked on myself as the acknowledged mediator between two hemispheres, the old world and the new! Suddenly there was an awful crash. A storm, which had been gradually gathering in the horizon, broke with terrific violence over our heads, a flash of lightning had struck the mast against which I was leaning, splitting it from top to bottom, and throwing me prostrate on the deck."
"I arose unhurt, exclaiming, 'God be thanked!' And for what? Was it for the preservation of my life? No! That thought came later. But the first was, 'Thank God for teaching me by this striking lesson that He alone is great; and that I am but a feeble worm in His sight.'"
There is little here of Christ, and whatever Franklin believed concerning Christ, we know that the real teacher of humility is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, as the above verse says, "humbled Himself." In the gospels and throughout the New Testament we see how Jesus Christ, who deserved the right to be prideful, modeled selflessness to the disciples and through the Word to us also. It is so easy to latch onto the praise others give us and develop a unhealthy view of ourselves. We, as followers of Christ, take any accolades or kind words that come our way and return Glory to God, who alone is worthy of praise. "Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed and were created." Revelation 4:11
Soli Deo Gloria,