There are marked contrasts and comparisons between these two individuals relatedto their perceptions of God. Religion was a vital part of life in colonial America. A shift fromtheism to deism was occurring. The Puritans of this time were fleeing the Churchof England.
Their hope was to return to the more primitive ways, to reject thechurches hierarchy and ritual. Mary Rowlandson, a puritan in Lancaster, Massachusetts was captured byIndians, along with three of her children in the year 1676. In her narrativeshe relates the story of her survival in the wilderness for a period of threemonths. She is taken away from her home and husband, “all was gone (except mylife); and I knew not but the next moment that might go too” (127). Benjamin Franklin’s The Autobiography is an account of his life and beginswith his boyhood life in Boston.
He later flees to Philadelphia to escape hisbrother’s rule over him. He relates how he was “dirty”, “fatigu’d”, and “Want ofRest” (222). In these depictions we can see an analogy. These individuals are removedfrom their homes and families. Although Benjamin Franklin’s removal was of hisown free will. They each suffered as they no longer had the comforts of whichthey were accustomed.
Rowlandson’s faith was remarkable considering all that she endured. Through out the narrative she must rely on her faith in God. She incorporatesnumerous verses from the Bible to offer explanations for all that she hassuffered, “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thineheart: wait, I say on the Lord” (129). It is also noted that she was able to useher trade to survive, “knitting a pair of white cotton stockings for mymistress”(130).
This is also a parallel to Franklin in that he also used histrade to survive. But one must ask what is motivating Rowlandson? Is she writingfor posterity or is she merely egocentric? Rowlandson has depicted herself asthe ultimate Puritan. Was the glory to God or to herself? She also relates here”how many Sabbaths I had lost and misspent” (128). It is interesting to notethat toward the end of the narrative she begins to see that her fate is in God’shands, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee”(133). At theend she recounts her old ways, “I have seen the extreme vanity of this world”(134). Franklin, states, ” I had been religiously educated”, Iseldom attended anyPublic Worship”(226).
Some of the dogma he described as “unintelligible”,”others doubtful” (225). He saw a need to center authority for our lives not inGod but in oneself. He also noted “My conduct may be blameable, but I leave itwithout attempting farther to excuse it” (227). Franklin is explaining hisbehavior but not making apologies. It is also noted that he reveals that he hadundertaken “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).
InFranklin’s “Thirteen Names of Virtues”, He lists the qualities he deems”Desirable” (228). Originally there were only 12 but “a Quaker friend kindlyinform’d me that I was generally thought proud” (233). The last virtue ishumility, and his statement “imitate Jesus and Socrates”, reflect deism(228). Although Franklin does state that he was not able to achieve this virtue, hereveals, ” 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 marksI could easily wipe out with a wet sponge”(231).
Could this possibly be ananalogy to God? Franklin is forming his own destiny in relation with his deistbeliefs. The ideas he projects are rectitude, justice and belief that happinessmay