A Desire for Virtue is Not Enough

In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin writes some insightful words, recognizing that the pursuit of self-improvement, while a commendable desire, is a fool’s errand. What he fails to recognize is the need for grace to which all of our “slipping” points.

I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wished to live without committing any fault at any time; I would conquer all that either natural inclinations, custom, or company might lead me into. As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right or wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined. While my care was employed in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another; habit took the advantage of inattention; inclination was sometimes too strong for reason. I concluded, at length, that the mere speculative conviction that it was our interest to be completely virtuous was not sufficient to prevent our slipping.

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