Jonathan Edwards And Benjamin Franklin

From their critical assessments on how to improve themselves and to the American
public that they influenced by their writings, Jonathan Edwards and Benjamin

Franklin illustrate American themes in their personal narratives that
quintessentially make part of American Literature. Although they lived in
different times during the early development of the United States of America and
wrote for different purposes, they share common themes. Their influence by their
environment, individualism, proposals for a better society, and events that
affected their society generate from their writings. By analyzing Jonathan

Edwards\' "Personal Narrative," "Resolutions," "Sinners
in the Hands of an Angry God," and selections from Benjamin Franklin\'s The

Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin found in The Heath Anthology of American

Literature: Third Edition Volume One edited by Paul Lauter, the fundamental
themes in American literature are evident and their individual ideas are
distinctive. These personal narratives reveal the influences of their
environment that gave them epiphanies to their closer perfection of themselves.

Jonathan Edwards\' "Personal Narrative" shows his journey towards a
closer relationship to God. His family was followers of the Congregationalist

Church, and from early childhood, he followed a Christian life (Lauter 569). In
the beginning of his autobiography, "Personal Narrative," he says
"I had a variety of concerns and exercise about my soul from my childhood;
but had two more remarkable seasons of Mckenize 2 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" (Lauter 581). Edwards endures a
"rite of passage," which brings him closer to God. These epiphanies
assisted on his assessment of becoming a better man in the eyes of God and
minister to his community. Benjamin Franklin did not hold his family beliefs of

Christianity, but from his early environment, he drew his relationship to God as
a Deist. Franklin believed there is a Supreme Being and it is our job to
discover our own reality by reasoning. In his autobiography, he notes several
epiphanies that changed his lifestyle. For example, he regretted his leaving

Miss Read for England without pursuing their relationship further. He calls
these regrets or wrongdoings "Erratum" (Lauter 788). The spirituality
of Franklin and Edwards is distinctive, and their writings reflect their
experiences and growth of improvement. Franklin as a Deist felt that he created
his destiny by the decisions he made. His autobiography illustrates his faults
and accomplishments. This openness aims to the audience, the American, in order
for them to reevaluate themselves and improve from their weaknesses. Franklin
wanted Americans to become better Americans. With Edwards\' beliefs, he felt that
god predestined every man, and only the "elect" entered in the
afterlife to heaven. He focuses his writing to the Christian audience. His goal
is to prepare them to become candidates to be "elect" and show how the
"elect" can set an example for the rest of the congregation. These men
felt the responsibility to live a better life and set the example for every man
in their community. As individuals, they constantly contemplate and
self-evaluate there position in life and Mckenzie 3 community. In Early American

Literature: A Collection of Critical Essays, the editor Michael T. Gilmore
writes in the introduction, "[the Puritans] in their minds the Bible was
the book of history, and typology revealed the developmental pattern of events
by finding correspondences between the Old and New Testaments" (2). Edwards
constantly places his life according to the bible. He believed like Winthrop,
that his community needs to prepare and become "a city upon a hill"
(Gilmore 2). Through his contemplation and goals seen in
"Resolutions," he constantly seeks to improve himself, so he can
fulfill God\'s plan for a new Holy Land, which is his congregation in New

England. His sole concentration was interpreting the Bible and living by its
words. He recorded his goals to improve himself and set an example to his
community. Benjamin Franklin seeks the same goals as an individual, but he
desires to improve 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" (9, 11). Franklin lists virtues that he
intended his audience to try to follow when they chose to improve themselves. By
explaining that no one can change overnight and work on one vice until
successively conquered, such as chastity, every man can find self-improvement
and further contribute to their community (Lauter 810-11). With a diary and
documenting each vice,