Faithlife Corporation

Ben Franklin

Notes & Transcripts

Even though Ben Franklin did not really accept Christianity personally, he still tried to be moral. In fact, he had settled on 13 particular virtues. Among them were these

Silence: "Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation."

Frugality: "Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; that is, waste nothing."

Industry: "Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions."

Tranquility: "Be not disturbed at trifles or accidents common or unavoidable."

He set up a book with a page for each virtue, lining a column in which to record his "defects." He would choose a different virtue to work on each week, and every day of that week, he would note every mistake he made. When the 13 weeks were over, he started down the list again. In this way, he could cycle through the list four times a year. For many decades, Franklin carried his little book with him, striving for a clean 13-week cycle.

But, as he made progress, he found himself struggling with yet another defect: his own pride. There is perhaps not one of the natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it. Struggle with it. Stifle it. Mortify it as much as one pleases. It is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself….

Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.

That’s the way pride is. It will sneak up on you and deceive you. So, since pride is the grinch that steals thanksgiving and since that grinch is so universal and so deceptive, how can we recognize it and overcome it.

Well, Moses sermon to the Israelites really tells you how. In fact, he describes for us a cycle that we go through in our battle with arrogance. It looks something like this. First,

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