His character and integrity related by pastors of his church -
Handbook of Christ Church, Philadelphia – 1695-1920 (Excerpted from, The Christian Heritage of the 50 United States
of America, copyright 2000 by Catherine Millard).
“There is no building in our city, and it may be doubted whether there is any in our country, around which so many hallowed associations cluster, and which calls up so many time-honored and holy reminiscences, as the venerable structure known as Christ Church.”
“Christ Church shares with old Faneuil Hall (the gift of a Churchman to Boston patriots) the proud distinction of being a cradle of the country itself, as it is a cradle of the American Church. This
sacred pile is a memorial to God, to the Church and to the nation.”
The University and Hospital
In speaking of the influence of the members of this congregation on public affairs during the provincial era, Provost Stille said: “I must not forget to claim for some of them the great honor of having been the founders and the early guardians of the College and academy of Philadelphia. Doctor Franklin, who first conceived the plan of this establishment, was a pewholder in this Church. When he looked around for those who would appreciate and support his project, he took from this congregation, mainly, the men of education and means who would aid him. His first choice for Headmaster of the Academy was the Rev. Richard Peters, for nearly ten years the Rector of Christ Church. Finding it impossible to induce Mr. Peters to accept the place, he made the final choice of Rev. William Smith, a member of this congregation. In a short time the College, thus founded by two members of this Parish, was possibly unrivalled, and certainly not surpassed, by any seminary at that time existing in the Province. Of the trustees previous to the Revolution, nearly four-fifths were members here. And Mr. Peters was for many years the President of the Board.”
Christ Church Patriots 1790 Stained-glass Window
The subject of this window also illustrates the Church’s vital relation to the equally important crisis of the Revolution. It is a view of the Christ Church Patriots in 1790, and shows a part of the regular congregation that were stirred by the exhortations of Bishop White and Doctor Smith and Doctor Duche from the wine-glass pulpit outlined in the foreground. They are standing in their high-backed pews in the act of praise. The portraits are reproduced from lithographs admirably – Robert Morris with the White and Harrison children, the President and Mrs. Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Betsy Ross, Joseph Hopkinson, Doctor Benjamin Rush, Francis Hopkinson, Doctor Franklin and his daughter, Mrs. Bache, and their fellow-worshippers, John Penn, Joseph Swift, William Bradford and others. Dignified and rich in coloring, the full message of the unique work unfolds, as it is approached…(Editor’s note: Christ Church Patriots 1790 Stained-glass Window was permanently removed to storage in the basement of The Neighborhood House – parish house of Christ Church – in September, 1986.)
Printer, Inventor, Statesman
(Excerpted from, The Rewriting of America’s History,
copyright 1991 by Catherine Millard.)
Of all the founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin was perhaps the most versatile in his accomplishments. He achieved great heights in the fields of philosophy, diplomacy, government, invention, science and printing. He served in the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention and as president of Pennsylvania. This great statesman and inventor arrived in Philadelphia at age 17 as a poor Bostonian. The site of the house in which he lived with his wife, Deborah, and family, together with his original print shop facing Market Street in Philadelphia, is open to inspection by the public.
His contributions to charitable causes are many, including the founding of Pennsylvania Hospital in 1751, for which he composed the inscription for the cornerstone. It reads:
In the year of Christ, 1755: George the second happily reigning, (for he sought the happiness of the people); Philadelphia flourishing, for its inhabitants were publick-spirited. This building, by the bounty
of the government and of many private persons, was piously founded, for the relief of the sick and miserable. May the God of mercies bless the undertaking!
A short time after the establishment of the hospital, Franklin wrote an account of the undertaking. It is called
Some Account of the Pennsylvania Hospital from its first rise, to the beginning of the fifth month, called May
1754, and it was printed in Philadelphia by B. Franklin and D. Hall. Franklin concludes his account of this charitable institution with a sermon on the subject of charity, preached by Thomas Hartley, in Northhampton, Great Britain, in 1750. The sermon clearly illustrates the biblical foundations on which the hospital was built, and the implementing of Scriptural principles, to include: “But prove yourselves doers of the Word and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22).
“…We read, that Almighty God, upon taking a Survey of the six days of work of Creation, pronounced of everything which he had made, that it was very good: How beautiful and perfect then must he have been in his better part, for whose sake all things were created! How excellent that Creature, who was made in the image, and after the likeness of his Creator! But he lusted after the vanity of Time, and so lost the riches of Eternity; together with his Innocence, his Divine Light and Love, and Purity departed from him – God made Man upright, but he sought out many inventions, Eccls. VII.29. He sought to be happy independently of God, and so lost his happiness in him: Hence by nature our sad alienation from the Life of God; instead of heavenly Wisdom, a serpentine craft; instead of Divine Love, gross and corrupt affections; and in the room of that perfect harmony in all its powers and faculties, which tuned the soul to peace, all the discord and rage of conflicting passions – behold, O Man! In this thy aggravated misery of a distempered soul and body, the greatness of thy fall, and sad apostasy! But behold also the greatness of Redeeming Love, the infinite compassion of thy so much neglected Saviour! Who, when thou wast cast out in the open field to the loathing of thy person, passed by thee, and when he saw thee polluted in thine own blood, said unto thee, - Live. I passed by thee, and looked upon thee; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness; yea, I aware unto thee, and entered into a Covenant with thee; saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine. Ezek. XVI. 5, 6,8…
And now having pointed out that most excellent way of Charity, or Love to God, and our Neighbor, that Gospel Way of Pleasantness, that sure Path of Peace leading on to Glory, what remains but that we walk therein. We are called Christians, professing one faith, one Lord, one Baptism: Let us shew ourselves to be such, not in Word only, but in Deed and in Truth; whilst our Faith worketh by Love, and our Love by shewing Mercy to the Poor.”
Toward the end of his life Benjamin Franklin wrote the following letter to Robert R. Livingston, which reveals a strong faith in God:
I am now entering on my 78th year; I wish now to be, for the little time I have left, my own master. If I live to see this peace concluded, I shall beg leave to remind the Congress of their promise, then to dismiss me. I shall be happy to sing with old Simeon, “Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”
In 1790, after a full, long and useful life, Franklin’s mortal remains, according to the terms of his will, were laid to rest in the burial grounds of Christ Church, Philadelphia, later dubbed “the Nation’s Church” because of the pivotal role played by members of this church leading to the birth of the nation. His wife and life-long companion, Deborah, is buried by his side.
Seven other signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried here. The eulogy, verbalized by Washington, and inscribed on a bronze plaque adjacent to the tomb, reads as follows:
Venerated for benevolence, admired for talents; esteemed for patriotism, beloved for philanthropy.