The New Zealand Evangelist
Anecdote of Dr. Franklin
It is said of Dr. Franklin, that during his long residence in Paris, being invided to a party of the nobility, where most of the court and courtiers were present, he produced a great sensation by one of his bold movements, and gained great applause for its ingenuity.
According to the custom of that age and country, the nobles, after the usual ceremonies of the evening were over, sat down to a free and promiscuous conversation. Christianity was then the great topic. The Church was always ridiculed, and the Bible was treated with unsparing severity. Growing warmer and warmer in their sarcastic remarks, one great lord commanded, for a moment, universal attention, by his asserting in a round voice, that the Bible was not only a piece of arrant deception, but totally void of literary merit. Although the entire company of Frenchmen nodded a hearty assent to the sentance, Franklin gave no signs of approval. Being at that time a court favourite, his companions could not bear even a tacit reproof from a man of his weight of influence. They all appealed to him for his opinion. Franklin in one of his peculiar ways, replied that he was hardly prepared to give them a suitable answer, as his mind had been running on the merits of a new book, of rare excellence, which he had just fallen in with at one of the bookstores; and as they had been pleased to make allusion to the literary character of the Bible, page 277 parhaps it might interest them to compare with that old volume the merits of his new prize. If so, he would read them a short section. All were eager to have the Doctor read a portion of his rare book. In a very grave and serious manner, he took an old book from his coat pocket, and with propriety of utterance read to them a poem.
The poem had its effect. The admiring listeners pronounced it the best they had ever heard or read. “That is pretty,” said one. “That is sublimity,” said another. “It has not its superior in the world,” was the unanimous opinion. They all wished to know the name of the new work, and whether that was a specimen of its contents.
“Certainly, gentlemen,” said the Doctor, smiling at his triumph, ’ my book is full of such passages. It is no other than your good-for-nothing Bible; and I have read you the prayer of the prophet Habakkuk.”
There is nothing more certain than death, nothing more uncertain than the time of dying. I will therefore be prepared for that at all times, which may come at any time, must come at one time or another. I shall not hasten my death by being still ready, but sweeten it. It makes me not die the sooner, but the better.
Pride And Vanity.—
Proud people deceive themselves; vain people attempt to deceive others, even when they are not themselves deceived.
I care less and less for information, and more and more for the pure exercise of the mind; for answering a question concisely and comprehensively; for showing a command of language, a delicacy of taste, and a comprehensiveness of thought, and power of combination.—
Ease And Age.—
One's age should be tranquil as one's childhood is playful. Hard work at either extremity of human existence, seems to me out of place, the morning and the evening should be alike, cool and peaceful; at mid-day the sun may burn, and men may labour under it.
I believe that any man can make himself an Atheist speedily, by breaking off his own personal communion with God in Christ; but, if he keeps this unimpaired, I believe that no intellectual study, whether of nature or of man, will force him into Atheism.
Childishness, in boys, even of good abilities, seems to me to be a growing fault, and I do not know to what to ascribe it except to the great number of exciting books of amusement like Pickwick and Nickleby, Bentley's Magazine. &c., &c. These completely satisfy all the intellectual appetite of a boy, which is rarely very voracious, and leave him totally palled, not only for his regular work, which I could readily excuse in comparison, but for good literature of all sorts, even for History and for Poetry.
“You see the wine when it sparkles in the cup and are going to drink it. I tell you there is poison in it! and, therefore, I beg of you to throw it away. You answer, the wine is harmless in itself. I reply, perhaps it is so, but still if it be mixed with what is not harmless (alcohol) no one in his senses, if he knows it, will ever think of drinking it. If you add, it is not poison to me, though it may be to others; then I say, throw it away for thy brother's sake, lest thou embolden him to drink also!”