Goodness Party Franklin quote 23 Clergy in great danger of being deceived

Open the eyes of the deceived

Franklin’s wisdom for US: Beware of hypocrites under the religious banner.

Franklin wrote this piece under his pseudonym Silence Dogood. He begins his letter to the editor with a bang. We should be reminded that Franklin wrote this in 1722.

It has been for some time a question with me, whether a commonwealth suffers more by hypocritical pretenders to religion, or by the openly profane? But some late thoughts of this nature have inclined me to think that the hypocrite is the most dangerous person of the two, especially if he sustains a post in the government, and we consider his conduct as it regards the public. The first artifice of a State Hypocrite is, by a few savory expressions which cost him nothing, to betray the best men in his country into an opinion of his goodness; and if the country wherein he lives is noted for the purity of religion, he the more easily gains his end, and consequently may more justly be exposed and detested. A notoriously profane person in a private capacity, ruins himself, and perhaps forwards the destruction of a few of his equals; but a public hypocrite every day deceives his betters, and makes them the ignorant trumpeters of his supposed godliness: They take him for a saint, and pass him for one, without considering that they are (as it were) the instruments of public mischief out of conscience, and ruin their country for God’s sake.

Franklin ends the piece by quoting another author:

Upon the whole we must not judge of one another by their best actions; since the worst men do some good, and all men make fine professions: But we must judge of men by the whole of their conduct, and the effects of it. Thorough honesty requires great and long proof, since many a man, long thought honest, has at length proved a knave. And it is from judging without proof, or false proof, that mankind continue unhappy.

Franklin’s call to action for US: Expose hypocrites. Do not vote for hypocrites.

Quote on image:

“And here the clergy are in great danger of being deceived, and the people of being deceived by the clergy, until the monster arrives to such power and wealth, that he is out of the reach of both, and can oppress the people without their own blind assistance. And it is a sad observation, that when the people too late see their error, yet the clergy still persist in their encomiums on the hypocrite.”