Benjamin Franklin Compared to Jonathan Edwards

Kendra Hughes Professor Machann English 2327 March 24, 2010 Errata in the Hands of an Un-Angry God: A Comparison of Edwards and Franklin Oberg and Stout put it best in the introduction of their book Benjamin Franklin, Jonathan Edwards, and the Representation of American Culture, “It is difficult, if not impossible to, think of two more widely studied colonial figures than Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Edwards. As Franklin and Edwards have been studied individually over generations, so also have they been looked at together” (Oberg and Stout 3).

Through their influential writing and critical evaluations of how to improve oneself, Jonathan Edwards and Benjamin Franklin both encompass American themes that ultimately define them as part of American literature. While living in different times and writing for different reasons they share the common themes of self-improvement, the setting and accomplishment of goals, and the importance of cohesion of society.

By studying Edwards’ “Personal Narrative”, “Resolutions”, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, and excerpts from Benjamin Franklin’s “Autobiography”, found in Norton’s Anthology of American Literature, edited by Nina Baym, their distinct individual ideas, and these shared fundamental themes of American literature can be seen. Their personal narratives show how their environment impacted them to better themselves. Jonathan Edwards’ “Personal Narrative” portrays his progress towards a more close relationship with God. His family was followers of the Congregationalist Church, and from early childhood, he followed a Christian life” (Edwards 385). Edwards’ autobiography, “Personal Narrative”, begins with him saying, “I had a variety of concerns and exercise about my soul from my childhood; but had two more remarkable seasons of awakening, before I met with that change, by which I was brought to those new dispositions, and that new sense of things, that I have had” (Edwards 386). Edward completes a sojourn that brings him closer to God.

This discovery helped him in his evaluation of what it took to become a better Christian in God’s eyes. On the other hand however, Benjamin Franklin less closely adhered to his family’s Christian beliefs. As a Deist, Franklin believed that there was a “Supreme Being” and that it is ones own chore to discover reality through reason. In his autobiography, he reveals a few instances that altered his way of life. Case in point, he had qualms about not further pursing his relationship with Miss Read when he left for England. Franklin calls these wrong doings or regrets “Errata” (Franklin 473).

The spirituality of Edwards and Franklin, although different, and very distinctive, their works resonate their exposure and the impact it had on their personal improvement and growth. Also, as a Deist, Franklin believed he determined his inevitability by his own accord. This encouraged him to set and accomplish goals to achieve what he desired in life. His autobiography portrays his faults and his accomplishments. This lack of modesty in revealing his errata is targeted towards his assembly, the American man, with hopes of prompting them to augment themselves and progress upon their deficiencies.

Franklin rallied for the reformation of the American man through self-evaluation and correction. On the contrary, Edwards believed that it was God’s divine will of which men were the selected few who could entered into heaven after life. Edwards focused his writings towards Christians more so than just purely Americans. His goal was to prepare Christians to become these select individuals that gained entrance into heaven. Christians under Edwards felt responsible to live better lives and to set examples for the congregation and the community.

As Christian individuals, just as Franklin’s Americans, they continually believed that one must examine and self-asses their place in life, the church, and the community. In the book Early American Literature: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Michael T. Gilmore, Gilmore writes in the introduction, “The Puritans in their minds the Bible was the book of history, and typology revealed the developmental pattern of everyday events by finding correspondences between the Old and New Testaments” (Gilmore 2). Edwards consistently leads his life adhering to the bible. He believed like Winthrop, that his community needed to prepare and become ‘a city upon a hill’ ” (Gilmore 2). In “Resolutions” Edwards’ self-reflection and goals can be seen. He constantly tries to improve himself and his congregation so that they can achieve God’s envisage of a new homeland in New England. Edwards’ primary commitment was to understand the Bible and to abide by it to live life to the fullest. Edwards aspired to better himself and set a precedent for his congregation and his Christian community.

Franklin, like Edwards, also seeks these goals and achievements as and individual and for the American man. In Soundings: Some Early American Writers, Lewis Leary writes, “Franklin was the true American …he constantly redefines himself…none better represented the simple, noble men…who lived close to nature faithful to her laws uncontaminated by artificialities of court or town” (Leary 9,11). Franklin provides his audience with virtues to adhere to when trying to set goals to improve themselves.

Franklin explains, “no one can change overnight and one must work on one vice until successively conquered, such as chastity, everyman can find self-improvement and further contribute to their community” (Franklin 487). Franklin’s determination to overcome vices enabled him to become closer to virtuosity, and hopefully in the end encourage his community to do the same. Similarly, Edward’s efforts to overcome his sins enabled him to become closer to God and to set an example for his congregation.

Both men documented the progress of their goals to follow their self-defined resolutions and both men hoped their comrades would adhere to the same principles. They desired to be influential and catch attention and esteem from their community by showcasing their sacrifices. Along with self-improvement and setting of goals Edwards’ and Franklin’s writings reflect the importance of cohesion as a society. While Edwards urges his congregation of the need to seek salvation and bind together during a time when America was redefining religion, Franklin, through his writing encourages society to move closer together after the Revolutionary War.

In, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” Edwards reciprocates with ferocity and anger to his congregation when faced with “The Great Awakening. ” In the sermon to his congregation Edwards’ objective is to rationalize with the countless that are doomed to damnation and not saved. He preaches, “Now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open” (Edwards 435). Edwards begs for the cohesion of his congregational community in effort to defeat the influences of uncertified preachers and the impendence of damnation.

Ursula Brumm explains in her essay “Jonathan Edwards and Typology,” In Early American Literature: A Collection of Critical Essays, “ Edwards took part heart and soul in the events of the Great Awakening He regarded this movement with overwhelming expectations in the belief that it marked the beginning of a new millennium” (Brumm 71). Edwards felt “The Great Awakening” was a test from God, that Satan was causing these events, and that by force through his sermons he could hold his congregation together and pass this test from God to see who was faithful.

Being much less forceful in his path, Franklin simply attempted to coax others to follow his path to become more patriotic. Franklin delves into the concept of how man can be made into a good citizen by following his list of virtues. He says, “It’s every one’s interest to be virtuous, who wish’d to be happy even in this world” (Franklin 495). Franklin’s goal is, “to show men that his autobiography and literature alike can help oneself to analyze and correct their own errors” (Leary 15). Franklin’s autobiography is defined by the case of “rags to riches” and has become a commonly used theme by many American writers.

In the book Making the American Self: Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln by Daniel Walker Howe, Howe further explains the evolution of the self made man, “Edwards and Franklin agreed in their assessment of human nature and the difficulties put in the way of a virtuous life. The origins of the model of human nature that Edwards and Franklin shared with so many others, led to the cult of the self made man” (Howe 2). During the period after the recently acquired American independence, the nation attempted to define the representative citizen.

Climbing from the lower class “rags” to the upper class “riches” Franklin achieved true success, set an example of the model citizen and influenced many fellow Americans during this time of need. Edwards and Franklin were both avant-gardes to their societies when people most yearned for an exemplary to live their lives by. Although so different Edwards and Franklin both were able to adhere to the American themes of self-improvement, setting and achieving goals, and coming together as a community. Through their erpetual self-appraisal, self-advancement, disclosure of their personal narratives, and their acknowledgment of a need to unite the community as one, they were able to produce the model of the American, Christian man, and epitomize American Literature through their works. Works Cited Brumm, Ursula. “Jonathan Edwards and Typology. ” Early American Literature: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Michael T. Gilmore. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. , 1980. Pg 71. Edwards, Jonathan. “Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions and Advice to Young Converts. ” Ed. Stephen J.

Nichols. New York: P&R Publishing, 2001. Edwards, Jonathan. “Personal Narrative. ” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 7th Ed. Ed. Nina Baym. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2007. Pg 385-396. Edwards, Jonathan. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. ” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 7th Ed. Ed. Nina Baym. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2007. Pg 425-436 Franklin, Benjamin. “The Autobiography. ” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 7th Ed. Ed. Nina Baym. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2007. Pg 472-517. Works Cited Continued

Howe, Daniel Walker, ed. Making the American Self: Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Pg 2. Gilmore, Michael T. , ed. Early American Literature: A Collection of Critical Essays. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. , 1980. Pg 2. Leary, Lewis. Soundings: Some Early American Writers. Athens: University Of Georgia Press, 1975. Pg 9-15. Oberg, Barbara B. , and Stout, Harry S. , eds. Benjamin Franklin, Jonathan Edwards, and the Representation of American Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Pg 3.

Calculate the price
Make an order in advance and get the best price
Pages (550 words)
*Price with a welcome 15% discount applied.
Pro tip: If you want to save more money and pay the lowest price, you need to set a more extended deadline.
We know how difficult it is to be a student these days. That's why our prices are one of the most affordable on the market, and there are no hidden fees.

Instead, we offer bonuses, discounts, and free services to make your experience outstanding.
How it works
Receive a 100% original paper that will pass Turnitin from a top essay writing service
step 1
Upload your instructions
Fill out the order form and provide paper details. You can even attach screenshots or add additional instructions later. If something is not clear or missing, the writer will contact you for clarification.
Pro service tips
How to get the most out of your experience with MyhomeworkGeeks
One writer throughout the entire course
If you like the writer, you can hire them again. Just copy & paste their ID on the order form ("Preferred Writer's ID" field). This way, your vocabulary will be uniform, and the writer will be aware of your needs.
The same paper from different writers
You can order essay or any other work from two different writers to choose the best one or give another version to a friend. This can be done through the add-on "Same paper from another writer."
Copy of sources used by the writer
Our college essay writers work with ScienceDirect and other databases. They can send you articles or materials used in PDF or through screenshots. Just tick the "Copy of sources" field on the order form.
See why 20k+ students have chosen us as their sole writing assistance provider
Check out the latest reviews and opinions submitted by real customers worldwide and make an informed decision.
Business and administrative studies
excellent work
Customer 452773, March 9th, 2023
Customer 452773, March 15th, 2024
Impressive writing
Customer 452547, February 6th, 2021
Human Resources Management (HRM)
excellent work
Customer 452773, July 3rd, 2023
Leadership Studies
excellent job
Customer 452773, July 28th, 2023
Human Resources Management (HRM)
Customer 452773, July 11th, 2023
Business Studies
Thank you very much for a good job done and a quick turn around time.
Customer 452615, March 31st, 2021
Business and administrative studies
Thank you for your hard work and help
Customer 452773, February 21st, 2023
excellent work
Customer 452773, March 1st, 2024
Business and administrative studies
excellent job thank you Your Score 166.25/ 175- A 1. Current Culture 15% of total grade 18.37 Criterion "1. Current Culture" has textual feedback Criterion Feedback I see interesting points, though, in general they are not about the culture.
Customer 452773, June 4th, 2023
excellent job made a 93
Customer 452773, March 22nd, 2023
Business and administrative studies
excellent, got a 100
Customer 452773, May 17th, 2023
Customer reviews in total
Current satisfaction rate
3 pages
Average paper length
Customers referred by a friend
15% OFF your first order
Use a coupon FIRST15 and enjoy expert help with any task at the most affordable price.
Claim my 15% OFF Order in Chat

Sometimes it is hard to do all the work on your own

Let us help you get a good grade on your paper. Get professional help and free up your time for more important courses. Let us handle your;

  • Dissertations and Thesis
  • Essays
  • All Assignments

  • Research papers
  • Terms Papers
  • Online Classes
Live ChatWhatsApp