In a very real sense, a man’s religion is what he most deeply believes in and what commands his deepest loyalty and devotion, whatever its outward form or its label. When going to church on Sunday becomes for him a matter merely of habit and of conformity to community or folk ways, it remains a religious act, if at all, only in that his doing so may be symbolic of his belief in something more than just “going to church.” When in public worship he repeats a creed, many of the individual tenets of which have become completely meaningless to him — if not in fact almost an insult to his intelligence — this act, too, has lost any religious meaning, except, again, as it may still remain for him a kind of symbol of non-rational values, and except as joining in with the congregation in its repetition in solemn worship itself gives that act a kind of religious value.


Deep Loyalty Public Worship Firm Believer Religious Meaning Humble Person 
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  1. 5.
    See Tytler, II, 225n., and Sketches, IV, 416ff. This “parable,” or more properly speaking “parody” — in imitation of a Genesis story and beginning, “It came to pass after these things that Abraham sat in the door of his tentchrw ...” — focuses on the patience of Jehovah with a stranger who insisted on worshipping another God, as contrasted with the impatience of Abraham, who drives him out into the wilderness. It was not original with Franklin, as has sometimes been thought, and he did not himself pretend otherwise. It is first known to have appeared in a poem entitled “Bostan” by the Persian poet Sadi in 1206 A.D., and it also appeared in Jeremy Taylor’s Liberty of Prophesying. (See Tytler, Memoirs, 2nd. ed. (1814), vol. II, pp. 308f.; also Randall, op. cit., p. 14). The “parable” is also quoted in The Art of Thinking, item 87.Google Scholar
  2. 11.
    Principles of Equity (3rd. ed.; Edinburgh, 1778), Introduction. See also infra, pp. 212ff.Google Scholar
  3. 12.
    Essays upon Several Subjects Concerning British Antiquities (Edinburgh, 1747), pp. 22 and 72.Google Scholar
  4. 15.
    Loose Hints on Education (Edinburgh, 1781), pp. 210f.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1971

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  • William C. Lehmann

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