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Whether esteem or private ends
From the society in question are banished all those disputes which might affect the tranquillity of friendship, or interrupt that perfect harmony, which cannot subsist without rejecting all indecent excesses and every
discordant passion. The obligation, which is imposed upon this order is, that each member is to protect a brother as far as may be in his power, to advise him by his abilities, to assist him in an exigence, to sacrifice all personal resentment, and to seek diligently for every thing which may contribute to the pleasure and profit of the society.
True it is, that this society hath its secrets ; but let not those who are not initiated, laugh at the confession ; for those figurative signs and words, which constitute amongst free-masons a language, sometimes mute and sometimes eloquent, are only invented to prevent imposition, to communicate at the greatest distance, and to know the true member from the false, of whatever tongue or country he may be.
Another quality required by those, who enter into the order of free-masons is, a taste for all liberal sciences and useful arts. Thus the decorum expected from each of the members is a work, which no academy or university have been able to establish so well. The name oi' free-masons ought not, therefore, to be taken in a literal sense ; as if the institutors had been really workers in marble and stone. They were not only able architects ; but many of them princes and prelates, who dedicated their talents and their fortunes, under this banner, to the Most High.
In the 1st. chapter of this book, I have given a summary of the origin and history of Free-Masonry; but the following brief account of it, which I have compiled from an essay in the Westminster Magazine for November 1778, may afford some additional light on the subject, which I trust will be satisfactory to my readers.
In the times of the Holy Wars in Palestine, a great many princes, noblemen and citizens, entered into a scheme to establish christian temples in the Holy Land, and engaged themselves by an oath to employ their talents and fortunes to give them all the primitive advantages of architecture. They agreed amongst themselves to use certain signs and symbolical words to distinguish themselves from others, and these mysteries were never communicated to any except to those, who promised at the foot of the altar, never to reveal them. But this sacred promise, so far from being the impious and unmeaning oath, which some people imagine, was a respectable guarantee, entered into for the purpose of uniting men of all nations in the same confraternity. Free-masonry, therefore, ought not to be considered as a revival of Bachanalian dissipation or scandalous intemperance, but as a moral order, instituted by ou virtuous ancestors in the Holy Land, with a view to recal the remembrance of the most sublime truths, in the midst of the most innocent and social pleasures.
The Kings, princes, and noblemen, on their return from the Holy Land, established a number of Lodges ; and in the time of the last crusade, we find several of these were erected in Germany, Italy, France, and Spain.
King James of Scotland was grand master of a lodge established at Kilwinnen in the year 1286, after the demolition of the crusades, the discomfiture of the Chris
tian armies, and the triumph of the Turks. Henry III. King of England, seeing, that there was no longer any security for the masons in the Holy Land, led them from Palestine, and established his colony of brothers in Enggland. As Prince Edward his son, was endowed with all those qualities of the heart and understanding, which form the hero, he declared himself protector of the order and gave it the name of “ The Free-Mason So
ciety.” It was soon after propogated in every nation in Europe, wrought its way into Asia, and also into America. It is, likewise, known to exist in Africa, although to what extent we have no certain information. Of its existence there, however, there can be no doubt, as it is well known to many brethren, that some years ago, three Turks visited several lodges in the city of New York. In fine, it may be asserted, that there are few places in the civilized world, in which masonic lodges may not be found. Its universality is, no doubt, a proof of its value and worthy tendency.
The GREAT First Cause, ought to be the first object of a mason's adoration ; his next great care should be to perform acts of humanity, beneficence, and compassion, to all men, as far as may be in his power, particularly to those, who may be connected with himself in the same mystic tie. As masons, we consider it our bounden duty to extend our good offices to every human being when in distress ; but it would be unjust to accuse us of illiberality, if we should be found more attentive to the wants of a brother or of his family than to those of others. Here the duties of an upright mason are circumscribed by similar boundaries to those assigned to the pious christian“ As we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men, “especially unto those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians vi. 10,
To this society, as will be seen in the following pages; emperors, kings, princes, bishops, &c. have deemed and still do deem it an honour to belong. The immortal Washington, the illustrious Franklin, the brave General War. ren, the patriotic Samuel Adams, for many years, governor of Massachusetts, together with a great proportion of our most eminent revolutionary characters were amongst its votaries ; and it is a well known fact, that many, perhaps the greatest part, of those citizens who now sustain the most distinguished stations in the army
in church and state, have deemed it as one of their greatest honours to have their names enrolled in the list of free-masons.
In this institution, party spirit is absolutely unknown. The prince regent of England, the Emperor of Austria, the Kings of Prusia, Sweden and the Netherlands, His Excellency Daniel D. Tompkins, Vice President of the United States, and His Excellency De Witt Clinton, governor of the state of New York, His Highness Prince Omrah Bohaudir nabob of the Carnatic, as well as the lowest peasant or labourer in the universe, provided he be a mason, may unite together as a band of brothers.. Here that asperity, which is so common among men, who meet together, entertaining different sentiments with respect to politics and religion, is entirely unknown, as discussions on such topics are never tolerated within the walls of a lodge ; but harmony, love, and benevolence are enforced by such emblems, that these virtues cannot easily be eradicated from the human mind.
Masonry excludes all distinction of rank as well as of religion. It considers all men as being naturally on a level, and according to its rules transmitted to us from time immemorial, gives precedence only to those amongst the brethren, who have made themselves con
spicuous by the rectitude of their conduct, and their
mprovement in those arts and sciences, which tend to
Actuated by this divine principle, the Roman Catholic, the Episcopalian, the Presbyterian, the Baptist, the Independent, the Lutheran, the Methodist, the Universalist, the Hebrew, the Mahometan, the Gentoo, the Indian, &c. may here sit together in harmony. Such an institution requires only to be better known to be more respected.
But here I may observe, and I make the observation with much pleasure, that notwithstanding all the difficulties and discouragements, all the reproach and abloquy, all the scandal and defamation, with which the fraternity has been loaded, they still not only beep their ground, but every where increase in a degree unparallelļed in the history of any other institution, if we except that of Christianity.
Upon the subject of masonry, many books have been written : but most of those which I have perused, appear to me to be greatly deficient in the communication of that kind of knowledge, which is most important to those, for whose benefit such publieations have been intended. In this science or mystery, it is well known, that there are secrets, which will never be divulged to the world at large ; but the history of masonry, its general regulations, the benevolent views, by which masons are actuated, the constitution and government, as well as the consecration of lodges, the ceremonies observed at funerals, &c. may be communicated with propriety; nor is there any obligation of secrecy with respect to our hymns, anthems and songs, wbich delight the ears of the fraternity at almost every meeting.
To my worthy brethren I return my most grateful ac