« PreviousContinue »
his intimacy and friendship with his master must have inspired; a day rendered still more memorable by being the anniversary of a society whose fundamental principle is brotherly love, shining forth in the fair fruits of
peace and harmony, charity and good works—a society the most liberal in its plan, the most benevolent in its intention, and the most inoffensive in its conduct, that ever was instituted in the world—a society which encourages and observes the most profound respect for the Supreme Being, the great architect of nature-a society which embraces the whole human race, considers all mankind as one blessed family of brethren, and unites men of all ranks and conditions, of all parties and sects, of all nations and religions--a society which inculcates rectitude and moderation of conduct by the most significant emblems—a society from whose meetings all strife and vain argument, all riot and intemperance are, by the laws of it's institution, carefully excluded—a society whose ears have been ever open to the cry of the indigent and needy—a society which, if it did not stand secure in its own intrinsick excellence, might well claim respect from its high antiquity and the numerous catalogue of great and shining names of which it can boasma society which has not excited nor can excite the indignation of any but the suspicious despot, or the blood-thirsty inquisitor.
The great objection which has been so often made to our institution, is the secrecy of our proceedings; that we have laws which are not to be divulged, and meetings removed from the eye
of the inquisitive. Such an objection may excite fear in the breast of the tyrant, whose throne totters under him, and whose feeble arm is unable to wield the sceptre which he holds ; but scarcely deserves attention in a land of freedom where no man has an inquisitorial power over the private opinions and conduct of another. By their actions all men oughi to be judged ; and to these, the members of this society need not be afraid to appeal. For it has been proved by universal experience, that our meetings have never once been prostituted to purposes hurtful to society; and that, while
other human institution has degenerated, this alone has preserved it's original purity and exemption from everything not calculated for the good of mankind. Societies instituted for the laudable purpose
In no age
promoting knowledge and literature, forsaking the peaceful walks of science, have become the tools of a party, and given the sanction of their authority to the varying doctrines of the day. Even religion itself has been made the engine of despotism, or has yielded to the fury of popular commotion; and the pulpit has at one time resounded with the maxims of nonresistance, and, at another with incentives to insurrection. But free masonry has ever kept itself pure from the blood of all men. nor nation have the assemblies of the Brotherhood become the seats of sedition, or the scenes of intrigue. In their meetings no dark cabals are formed against the constituted authorities; no secret shaft is aimed at the reputation of the innocent; no foul crime is committed which shuns the examination of the light. Like
other society, we have secrets and signs of distinction, which, upon application, may be made known to the duly qualified ; but thesc regard only ourselves, , As far as the world is concerned, our grand secret is—Love: Love, the cement of society and the balm of life ; Love, that adamanline chain which reaches from heaven to earth, and binds the universe together ;
Love, eternal as God himself, without beginning and without end. In short, our fundamental principles differ in nothing from those of our holy religion. So much, indeed, are they the same, that he who is a good free mason will not be a bad christian.
After bestowing this just tribute of praise upon what I conceive to be the best of all human institutions, it is natural for me to exhort such of the brethren as are present, to walk worthy of their profession. Let not your good be evil spoken of ; but be an example to others, and show to the world, by your conduct, that you belong to a society which is innocent and virtuous-Hereby shall all men know that ye are FREE MASONS, if ye love one : another: This is a surer test of your initiation into the sublime mysteries of your art, than any sign or secret whatever. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil-speaking, be put away far from you : and be ye kindly affectioned one towards another, in brotherly love preferring one another.
Above all, let your meetings be conducted with that harmony, peace and good order, which brotherly love ought to produce, without which society is not worth enjoying, and without which it were better to dwell in the wilderness, or on the house top. No strife, nor idle debate ought ever to be heard among you. You do not assemble to display your talents, or, in dire conflict, to brandish the weapons of political disputation, but as brethren and friends, to enjoy social conversation, and to promote one another's happiness.
Permit me to conclude this discourse with observing, to the honour of your institution, that on this grand festival you piously join trembling with your mirth; that, within these sacred walls, dedicated to Alinighty God, you engage in his service, and acknowledge your dependence on him, before you proceed to partake of his bounty. Let the same principle of religion actuate the whole of your proceedings on this day, and teach you the wisdom of temperance, sobriety and moderation. Under these limitations, I know no principle in the order to which you belong, nor in the religion which you profess, prohibiting an indulgence in the innocent and lawful enjoyments of life. To every one who acts up to the true principles of Free Masonry, I may address myself in the words of the preacher, Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a