Excerpt from Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Edwards: Selections From Their Writings Significance may justly be attached to the difference between the social classes from which the two sprang, and perhaps to the difference between their native colonies. Edwards, the senior by three years, was born in 17 03 at East Windsor, Connecticut, a compact and orthodox par ish of the most oak-hearted of all the Puritan states. Franklin, on the other hand, passed his first seventeen years in Boston, exposed to the liberal winds which gen erally blow, much or little, even in provincial Puritan metropolises. Moreover, Franklin came from plain tradesman or artisan stock, which boasted - or rather, did not boast - a versifying scion or two, but which had had no clergymen or magistrates. Edwards had in him the blood of both those professions, and was bred in the strict est paths of orthodoxy and responsibility. While Frank lin was being taken about by his thrifty father to see the various trades that he might discover a partiality for some one of them, Edwards was already in Yale, being confirmed in the clerical disposition which was his birth right and fate.
The Autobiography has a classic passage upon Frank lin's youthful reading and writing, and upon the careful pains the boy took to form his prose style. He passed somewhat casually by his father's books Of divinity, and rapidly devoured such Virtuous romance and history as came his way, but at sixteen or so he read Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Xenophon's Memo rabilia, Shaftesbury, and Collins. Becoming a free thinker, he studied, as an aid to argument, the Socratic method of humble, though premeditated, inquiry never using, when I advanced anything that may pos sibly be disputed, the words certainly, undoubtedly, or any others that give the air of positiveness to an Opinion.
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