Explain why you would rather be like Ben Franklin as opposed to Jonathan Edwards and provide four reasons each backed by quotes from the narratives provided. Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography Parts...

Explain why you would rather be like Ben Franklin as opposed to Jonathan Edwards and provide four reasons each backed by quotes from the narratives provided.

Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography Parts one and two Only:


Jonathan Edwards Personal Narrative:


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edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would rather be like Benjamin Franklin than Jonathan Edwards.

From Franklin's Autobiography:

1. "During my brother's confinement, which I resented a good deal, notwithstanding our private differences, I had the management of the paper; and I made bold to give our rulers some rubs in it, which my brother took very kindly."  I would relish the opportunity to manage a newspaper and write editorials that criticized an unjust government, while at the same time avenging my brother's unjust imprisonment for speaking his mind.

2. "At length a fresh difference arising between my brother and me, I took upon me to assert my freedom, presuming that he would not venture to produce the new indentures." Through legal means, Franklin was able to outmaneuver his brother James, to whom he had been signed into indentured servitude by their father.  It would be gratifying to remove myself from a form of slavery and embrace my freedom in the colonies, which were filled with opportunities for people willing to work hard. 

3.  "...my father having, among his instructions to me when a boy, frequently repeated a proverb of Solomon, "Seest thou a man diligent in his calling? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men," I from thence considered industry as a means of obtaining wealth and distinction, which encouraged me, tho' I did not think that I should ever literally stand before kings, which, however, has since happened; for I have stood before five, and even had the honor of sitting down with one, the King of Denmark, to dinner." Ben Franklin rose from very humble roots to a position of international prominence. It would be very satisfying to be rewarded for hard work and natural intelligence and become a player on the international stage.

4.  "In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history; for, even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility." Franklin's ability to laugh at himself and understand the value of humility as a personal trait is, to me, highly admirable.  Living a life in which you appreciate your gifts but don't become too full of yourself is a worthy life.

The life of Jonathan Edwards holds less appeal than that of Benjamin Franklin. 

From Personal Narrative:

1. "My mind was very much taken up with contemplations (sic) on heaven, and the enjoyments there; and living there in perfect holiness, humility and love."  Unlike Edwards, who was preoccupied with the afterlife, I would prefer to live in the moment and enjoy my earthly life and hope that my faith would get me to heaven without contemplating it to the extent that Edwards did.

2. "My wickedness, as I am in myself, has long appeared to me perfectly ineffable, and swallowing up all thought and imagination; like an infinite deluge, or mountain over my head." It would not be an enjoyable life to think of myself as being buried under a mountain of sinful behavior.

3. "Indeed I was at times very uneasy, especially towards the latter part of my time at college; when it pleased God, to seize me with a pleurisy; in which he brought me nigh to the grave, and shook me over the pit of hell."  I would not like to live a life in which I felt that when I became ill it was because God was trying to punish and terrify me. 

4. "It was my continual strife day and night, and constant inquiry, how I should be more holy, and live more holily, and more becoming a child of God, and a disciple of Christ." Unlike Edwards, I would like to focus on living a life of broad experience rather than constantly ruminating over how I could make myself more appealing, in God's estimation.