« PreviousContinue »
generous hearts and sympathizing bosoms that appreciate his condition, and know the remedy, and will apply it. If this is the effect on those that receive benefits, can we suppose the giver is left cold and insensible in this matter? No. Farthest from it possible.
"The quality of mercy is not strained ;
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven,
Yes, it is the stamp of the Divinity, it is the handwriting of God on the soul, to feel an unbounded pleasure in doing good to our fellow-men. It is one of the purest and highest gratifications which a bountiful Creator has placed within our reach, to soothe the pains of the distressed, to wipe away the tears of the sorrowful, and help the unfortunate. Besides, where poverty and want are left unpitied and neglected, ignorance and crime are the consequences. Let us come to despise the poor, and make no efforts, individually or conjointly, to meliorate their condition, and we sow the very seeds of national immorality and vice; we endanger the very foundations of social order and virtue.
On the contrary, where institutions arise which have for their object the aid of the distressed, the protection of the widow and orphan; where they are patronized and sustained, the poor man is not
left to sink into despair, or driven into crime ; he is encouraged to think right, and act right, and thus a healthful moral influence goes forth, shoulder to shoulder, and hand in hand, with the operations of Charity.
“ In Faith and Hope, the world will disagree,
But all mankind's concern is Charity.”
Qualifications for Membership.
“IF, in the circle of your acquaintance, you find a person desirous of being initiated into Masonry, be particularly careful not to recommend him unless you are convinced he will conform to our rules ; and that the honor, glory, and reputation of the institution may be firmly established.”
CHARGE TO AN ENTERED APPRENTICE.
We are more and more convinced, every day, that our Order has grown too rapidly, and that its beauty and usefulness are very much impaired by the unworthy conduct of those among us who have a name to live, but are dead. The time has now come when a check should be put to this excessive increase, and efforts should be made to elevate the standard of moral and theological qualification.
Those should be for ever kept out of the Order who have only selfish views in seeking its membership. We have known some men who were the bitterest opposers of Freemasonry, so long as they could make capital out of it; but when circumstances changed, so they could drive a lucrative trade by jumping to the other side of the question, they have done it with a facility which would make one bolieve that there was no more any such thing as conscience.
Freemasonry can gain nothing by such acquisitions. It has no need of such supports, and will at length cast them away with indignation.
There is another class of men who will do us no good, if allowed to come among us. They are rebellious, ambitious, fault-finding, mischief-making spirits, who are ever restless, and appear to have no enjoyment but in a storm. Persons of this description do great injury to our Lodges—they will either rule or destroy. They love the Order, it may be, but they love themselves more; and when the Order no longer flatters their foolish pride, they are ready to engage in the opposition and denounce it. These men we do not want.
Again, the Order is based upon religious ideas. It does not claim to be a religion, but it recognizes and accepts reverently all the facts of religion, the sanctity of the Scriptures, and the everlasting verities of Christianity; consequently it is no place for an infidel. The Order is for Humanity, for men ; and Humanity is naturally religious, and men yield everywhere to the law of worship. Therefore, they who deny God, a future life, and divine retribution, having thus cut themselves loose from Humanity, and sold their birth-right as men, cannot, without perjury, join themselves to us, nor can we, without danger, receive them.
Those, and those only, should be admitted who can come with generous hearts and open hands, and kind dispositions and loveful spirits. The selfish, the profane, the impious, and the unbelieving, should be rejected utterly. It is to be hoped that those who have a real regard for the Order, will be watchful of its interests, and see that no harm come to it by the introduction of unworthy men.
An old myth relates, that on a certain time the demigod Hercules wished to become a member of one of the secret societies of antiquity. He accordingly presented himself, and applied, in form, for initiation. His case was referred to a council of wise and virtuous men, who objected to his admission, on account of some crimes which he had committed. Consequently he was rejected. Their language to him was, “ You are forbidden to enter here; your heart is cruel, your hands are stained with crime. Go, repair the wrong you have done ; repent of your evil doings, and then come with pure heart and clean hands, and the doors of our Mysteries shall be opened to you.” After his regeneration, the myth goes on to say, he returned, and became a worthy member of the Order.
Let Freemasons contemplate this example, and profit by it. We should allow no persons, whatever be their standing in society, whatever be the