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hold out to man. They isolate the individual, and make him the natural enemy of his brother man, deceiving and deceived.
Now, he who enters our fraternal association is supposed to rise above this life of selfishness, hypocrisy, and deceit. He moves in the midst of men who have laid aside their dissimulation, and sees himself surrounded by friends and friendly faces ; and hearts into which he may look, as into the pure and cloudless sky. The mystic tie of sympathy raises and binds him to the society of congenial spirits, on whose kindness and truth he may always rely—whose words to him will be always true, and whose acts will be always open and sincere.
Here, it seems to us, we must see the need of Freemasonry, and its adaptation to the wants of the present times. It opens a new temple and erects a new altar above all prejudice, and dissensions, and selfishness-a temple dedicated to Friendship, Love, and Truth, where men of all parties are taught to lay aside their differences and their hypocrisy, and meet on the common ground of truth and charity. Our lodges are the asylums of peace and love; political or religious disputes can never enter there, and within their peace-inspiring walls men of antagonistical faiths meet as brothers, and bind themselves by solemn vows to fulfill the Christian law of love, and to do good to all men, as they have opportunity or ability. There may the lone wanderer,
, weary and discouraged in his search for friendship, find repose in sympathizing and loving hearts.
We ask, then, if there is not a need, and a pressing need, of an institution like this ?-an institution which will recombine the scattered elements of society, recall men to a sense of their fraternal relations and duties, and revive the almost extinguished faith in friendship and virtue? Our association is peculiarly adapted to this end; nay, Unity, Love, and Friendship, are the very objects it seeks to promote. We affirm, then, without any qualification, that there is no human institution which has so many legitimate demands on our reverence and sympathy. There is no institution existing save this whose only aim is to promote social harmony.
But we would not be unjust. We would not say one word against those charitable and philanthropic associations, in which the present age is so remarkable and rich. There are peace societies, temperance, and other societies, all of which spring from a laudable desire to improve the condition of man. These are all very good ; but Masonry not only embraces all the excellences of each of these it goes far beyond them. It asks not only that justice be done ; it demands friendship and love. Thus it towers above them all, stands preëminent in beauty and splendor, as the bright moon amid a heaven of stars.
The Philosophy of Mysterp.
It is not strange that a society, which veils some of its rites and symbols from the public gaze, should be calumniated, by those especially who care more about prying into the business and secrets of their neighbors, than they do about attending to their own. That morbid curiosity--which, when it possesses an individual, transforms him into a foul spirit, and moves him to outrage every virtuous principle, and every sentiment of honor, and to violate the sanctity of domestic life, so he may gain his purpose and gratify his filthy taste-is a vice which every true man regards with the deepest abhorrence. And yet it is the vice of the age. It is a sort of intellectual agrarianism, which demands that all thoughts, plans, intentions, even the heart's sweetest secrets, shall be put into a general fund for the amusement or profit of the public. Of course this spirit, which now walks incarnate among us, will deny the right of any man to keep any thought, however sacred, in holy secrecy, or of any association to close its doors against the curious public.
There is probably no objection to our fraternity which is more frequently or more strenuously urged than this : “ We are opposed to all secret societies," is the universal exclamation. This is no new charge. It has been repeated these two thousand years – at least, ever since the age of Philo, the Jew. “God," he says, addressing the advocates of the ancient Mysteries, “ God displays the beautiful spectacle of the Universe before the eyes of all men ; now,
if your Mysteries are so sublime and useful, why not reveal them to all, that all may equally participate in their advantages ?" This is plausible reasoning; it is equally sophistical. One might as well ask, why limit the mysterious enjoyments of the Holy Eucharist to those who can approach that sacrament with pure hands and clear hearts ? Why not allow all, the holy and profane, an equal participation therein? Again, the righteous man enjoys a
peace which the world knows not of-a secret peace; (if this peace be truly advantageous, why not allow
the wicked as well as the good to possess it? These questions belong to the same category as the foregoing ; and the answer which the devout man will make to them, we will accept as a satisfactory reply to the question : “If the Mysteries of Freemasonry be so beneficial, why not open your Lodges to all ?" Notwithstanding this prejudice against what are called secret societies, it cannot be denied that these much calumniated institutions have done more for the civilization of the world, and the progress of society, than all other means combined.
But let us examine this objection still further. It is said we are a secret association. In what respect can this be true? The society is known, its acts are known, its objects are known, its laws are known, and also its times and places of meeting. At least, if all these facts are not known to the public, it is not our fault. The truth is, we have no secrets which it would be of the least importance for the world to know. Signs and tokens, by which Masons, although strangers, may recognise one another, are all the secrets we have. And in this we are by no means peculiar. All individuals and all business organizations have their secrets. Ours is but a business organization, although of a holier character. Its business is charity, and our signs and secrets are necessary to transact the business efficiently. Were the institution limited to a town, county, or even state, signs might not, perhaps, be absolutely necessary. A certificate, declaring the possessor an acting and worthy member of the Order, might be sufficient for all common purposes. But the institution is designed to spread over the world, and to embrace within its parental arms all nations, kindreds, and tongues. Hence the necessity of some universal language, which shall be comprehended by Masons the world over. There are other