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CHAPTER

Adaptation of Freemasonry to the Wants and

Circumstances of ¥oung Men.

AMONG the almost endless variety of human wants, there is not one which makes itself so powerfully and keenly felt as the want of friendship-societythe intimate and constant communion of soul with soul. We all are conscious of it, the young especially. They have need of virtuous associates, whose conservative influence will always surround them ; without these, their virtue has no security. We know how powerful the family influence, judiciously directed, is to preserve one from the seductions of vice. In the bosom of a family, with brothers and sisters around him, the young man spends the first years of his life. Parental kindness, sisterly and brotherly affection, and the sympathy of the family acquaintances, gratify all his social wants, and leave him nothing in that direction to desire. When he is ill, the most tender and self-sacrificing love watches over him, anticipates every want, and, without weariness or complaint, seeks to tranquilize his sleeping, or amuse his waking hours. But this charming state cannot endure. Life is inexorable in its claims ; its duties, and responsibilities, and labors must be promptly inet. A time must come when every youth must be thrown back upon himself-leave the tranquil security of his father's home, and seek for himself a position among strangers. Now, when he is beyond the reach of this family influence—beyond the reach of that tender providence which had so carefully guarded him from vice, and soothed his griefs, and sympathized with all his youthful aspirations and pleasures—when this influence ceases to surround him, what will take its place ? what power will continue its ministry of love ? what will be to him father, mother, brother, sister-HOME? Will society ? Alas! society, to its deepest core, is selfish, corrupt, unnatural, unloving! Society will not, and cannot! He is in the heart of the great world-seductions and temptations are rife around himever and ever do they sing to him, more and more do they gain upon him, and now he is drawn to the very edge of the abyss-troops of foul fiends are preparing to plunge him headlong ; but where is the saving, helping arm, the rescuing power that can redeem him from his fearful peril? He stands on the brink of a precipice, fascinated by the Delilan songs of vice, dazzled by its golden splendor, entirely unconscious of that thunder-stream of ruin which foams and boils at his feet, as if impatient to engulf him in its burning tide!

He is also in distress, and must suffer alone, with none to console him with a word of hope, of sympathy, or of love; he falls sick, and has no attention but such as money may purchase; he dies, and the cold eyes of strangers only look upon his grave, if indeed a grave he has.

This is the picture of thousands of young men ; and we wish to say that it is precisely here that we see the beauty and utility of our Order. We wish to present the institution of Freemasonry as a vast family circle, spread through the entire world; always powerful and efficient to preserve those who are brought within the sphere of its influence. The young man who is a member of this fraternity, may go where his father's counsel and his mother's care cannot reach him-cannot preserve him ; but he cannot go beyond the reach of that larger family to which he belongs! Silently and invisibly, yet with unslumbering assiduity, it watches over him, and by its wise counsels, its tender sympathies, its judicial disciplines, and rational restraints, saves him from those ways of vice which ultimate in perdition.

Were we the father of sons, who had grown to maturity, and who were about to enter upon the duties and labors of life, to work out their own moral, and spiritual, and temporal destiny, it would be one of the first wishes of our heart that the

protecting shield of this Order should overshadow them. For we should know, that when they were beyond the reach of our personal influence-where our counsels could not be heard, when temptations were luring them to their ruin ; nor our paternal Bympathy and love surround them when misfortunes crushed their brightest hopes, or sickness laid them low on the bed of suffering--they would still be protected and preserved in those same good principles in which they were cradled, and in those habits of virtue to which they had been reared ; and receive those same tender cares which our own paternal heart would have prompted, were they under our immediate inspection.

What we wish, then, particularly to say is, that our Order is the only substitute for that home influcnce, without which there can be but little or no security for young men. And we would say most earnestly to all lovers of humanity, especially to you, fathers, who have sons, whom you wish to preserve in those virtuous principles to which they were trained in their youth-to you, mothers, whose sons are already thrown upon the world, to be buffeted by its storms and assailed by its temptations—to you, sisters, whose brothers, far from the celestial consolations of parental and sisterly love, and victims to disease, would give worlds for some sympathizing breast, upon which to repose their throbbing temples-you should be the very last to say a word or think a thought against an institution which is now nearly the only green spot in the dreary waste of life ; which binds those sons and brothers to the practice of every virtue, guides them in prosperity and health, and, as a ministering angel, bends over them with tenderest pity, in their chamber of suffering. True, there are sorrows which our Order cannot reach ; there are griefs which it cannot remove; but nevertheless it still pursues its way, imparts its healthful influence, accomplishes its beautiful ministry of charity. It breaks the blow, although it cannot heal all the wounds of misfortune.

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