A Plain Talk About Masonry
The principles of Freemasonry — what are they? — do they not teach men to do unto others as they would that others should do unto them?
If the members of that fraternity, individually, would faithfully consider those principles, with a desire to practice accordingly, would they not exert an influence for good that would be felt sensibly by community; and if they were zealous for the greatest good of the institution, would they not do it?
With the vows which I suppose they have taken upon themselves, and the instructions given them, should they not be faithful brethren, moral and honorable citizens, kind and sympathizing husbands, and affectionate parents?
I may not be correct in my views of Masonry, being one of those that have always been excluded from the rites and benefits of the institution, but if I am correct, how very important that every member should be a good Mason, and exert every faculty of mind and body to promote the best interests of the institution, by exerting an influence in community which could and would be felt for good to all, and the honor of the institution be thereby preserved untarnished.
A man without good principles is a detriment to any institution, and a curse to himself. He may be zealous, but not according to knowledge; a desire to increase the numbers and dimes, without any regard to moral worth, certainly must be not according to knowledge.
Of what benefit can an individual be that is void of every principle required to make a man of a man; that seeks no society but the low and vicious; that will profane sacred things; gamble, lie and cheat; that will tamper with intoxicating drinks, until he is a moral pestilence in the community — going about, not a man, but a walking brandy-cask — his disposition soured, his faculties benumbed, poisoning the air with his breath, and community with his foul acts and conversation; and destroying the happiness of all the virtuous, noble and aspiring who are compelled to associate with him? Can such expect to be of benefit in any way, or to fulfill the object of their existence?
If individuals would close their eyes to self and its gratification, and, with the light they have received, look at the subject as they should, they would see the privileges, benefits, and duties they are trampling under their feet; they would also see how far they were wandering from the ancient landmarks of the institution, and how much injury and injustice they were doing, and how they were wounding the cause they have promised to honor and maintain.
I do not expect that free and accepted Masons build temples of stone; but I do expect they should erect a spiritual building in every Lodge, and every member should feel interested and take an active part in the work, and show to the world by a moral, honest, and upright life, that they have not wasted their time and money for that which profiteth not. In short, that they live and deal on the square of equal and exact justice.
A friend, a good Mason, said in my hearing, he was really discouraged at the conduct of men. If, they seemed to heed instruction and advice, it was only to be more sly in their workings of iniquity; and if provoked to an act that in itself was good, it was only from sordid motives. But I think a person has no right to be discouraged or weary in well-doing. "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand."
Some probably will say I ought not to write or think on the subject of Masonry. I never saw a serpent writhe with more energy than when a foot was set upon his head. My tongue and pen may be controlled by others, but my mind never can. I shall surely think. O, that every one would think-think-think.