A Comparison and Contrast of the Supernatural’s Active
There are marked contracts and comparisons between these two individuals related to their perceptions of God. Religion was a vital part of life In colonial America. A shift from theism to deism was occurring. The Puritans of this time were fleeing the Church of England. Their hope was to return to the more primitive ways, to reject the churches hierarchy and ritual.
Mary , a puritan in Lancaster, Massachusetts was captured by Indians, along with three of her children in the year 1676. In her narrative she relates the story of her survival in the wilderness for a period of three months.She is taken away from her home and husband, “all was gone (except my life); and I knew not but the next moment that might go too” (127). Ben]amen Franklins The Autobiography Is an account of his life and begins with his boyhood life in Boston. He later flees to Philadelphia to escape his brother’s rule over him.
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He relates how he was “dirty”, “fatigued”, and “Want of Rest” (222). In these depictions we can see an analogy.
These individuals are removed from their homes and families. Although Benjamin Franklins removal was of his own free will.They each suffered as they no longer had the comforts of which they were accustomed. Rowland son’s faith was remarkable considering all that she endured. Through out the narrative she must rely on her faith in God. She incorporates numerous verses from the Bible to offer explanations for all that she has suffered, “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thin heart: wait, I say on the Lord” (129). It Is also noted that she was able to use her trade to survive, “knitting a pair of white cotton stockings for my 30).
This Is also a parallel to Franklin In that he also used his trade to survive.But one must ask what is motivating ? Is she writing for posterity or is she merely egocentric? Has depicted herself as the ultimate Puritan. Was the glory to God or to herself? She also relates here “how many Sabbath I had lost and misspent” (128). It is interesting to note that toward the end of the narrative she begins to see that her fate is in God’s hands, “When thou Pasta through the waters, I will be with thee”(133). At the end she Franklin, states, ” I had been religiously educated”, ‘seldom attended any Public Worship”(226).Some of the dogma he described as “unintelligible”, “others doubtful” (225). He saw a need to center authority for our lives not in God but in oneself.
He also noted “My conduct may be , but I leave it without attempting farther to excuse it” (227). Franklin is explaining his behavior but not making apologies. It is also noted that he reveals that he had undertaken “the bold and arduous Project of arriving at moral perfection” (227). He had also written a “Form of Prayer for my own private use” (227). In Franklins “Thirteen Names of Virtues”, He lists the qualities he deems “Desirable” (228).Originally there were only 2 but “a Quaker friend kindly inform me that I was generally thought proud” (233). The last virtue is humility, and his statement “imitate Jesus and Socrates”, reflect deism(228).
Although Franklin does state that he was not able to achieve this virtue, he reveals, ” I had a good deal with regard to the Appearance of it” (233). Franklin also had a “Memorandum Book”, in which he kept track of his virtues. The book was lined in red ink and his faults were marked in black, “which marks I could easily wipe out with a wet sponge”(231). Could this possibly be an analogy to God?Franklin is coming his own destiny in relation with his deist beliefs. The ideas he projects are rectitude, Justice and belief that happiness may be found in secular values. Near the end Franklin reviews his “Scheme” and relates it “was not wholly without Religion” but it did not necessarily reflect any “particular sect”(233). Is this an elision of the America to come? A new world which offered religious freedom? This America in its infancy was establishing an identity free from the mother land.
Breaking the tie that binds is never easy. In his Autobiography Franklin was seeking to establish a new identity for the new world.This parallels in that she at the end of her captivity has evolved into a new person. Although has placed her fate more in the hands of her God. Franklin suggests that man controls his own destiny but also makes reference throughout to God. He must deal with his excessive pride, even as Mary has dealt with her own vanity. Thus the supernatural (God) did help to shape our country to what it is today.
Our beliefs reflect what our purpose is, what our identity is. Mary and Benjamin Franklin were setting the standards for Americans to aspire to be.