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Origin of Masonry and its general Advantages.
ROM the commencement of the world we may trace the foundation of Masonry.* Ever since symmetry began, and harmony displayed her charms, our order has had a being. During many ages, and in many different countries, it has flourished. In the dark periods of antiquity, when literature was in a low state, and the rude manners of our forefathers withheld from them that knowledge we now so amply share, masonry diffused its influence. This science unveiled, arts arose, civilization took place, and the pro. gress of knowledge and philosophy gradually dispelled the gloom of ignorance and barbarism. Government being settled, authority was given to laws, and the assemblies of the fraternity ac
Masonry and Geometry are somelines used as synonimous terms.
quired the patronage of the great and the good, while the tenets of the profession were attended with unbounded utility.
Masonry is a science confined to no particular country, but diffused over the whole terrestrial globe. Wherever arts flourish, there it flourishes too. Add to this, that by secret and inviolable signs, carefully preserved among the fraternity throughout the world, masonry becomes an universal language. Hence many advantages are gained: the distant Chinese, the wild Arab, and the American savage, will embrace à brother Briton, Frank, or German ; and will know, that beside the common ties of humanity there is still a stronger obligation to induce him to kind and friendly offices. The spirit of the fulminating priest will be tamed ; and a moral brother, though of a different persuasion, engage his es teem. Thus, through the influence of masonry, which is reconcileable to the best policy, all those disputes, which embitter life, and sour the tempers of men, are avoided : while the common good, the general design of the craft, is zealously pursued.
From this view of the system, its utility must be sufficiently obvious. The universal princi. ples of the art unite 'men of the most opposite tenets, of the most distant countries, and of the most contradictory opinions, in one indissoluble bond of affection, so that in every natiou a mason finds a friend, and in every climate a home.
The Government of the Fraternity explained.
The mode of government observed by the fraternity will best explain the importance, and give the truest idea of the nature and design of the masonic system.
There are several classes of masons, under different appellations. The privileges of these classes are distinct, and particular means are adopted to preserve those privileges to the just and meritorious of each class.
Honour and probity are recommendations to the first class ; in which the practice of virtue is enforced, and the duties of morality inculcated, while the mind is prepared for regular and social converse in the principles of knowledge and philosophy,
Diligence, assiduity and application, are qualifications for the second class; in which an accurate elucidation of science, both in theory and practice, is given. Here human reason is cultivaled by a due exertion of the rational and intellectual powers and faculties : nice and difficult theories are explained ; new discoveries produced, and those already known beautifully embellished.
The third class is composed of those whom truth and fidelity have distinguished ; who, when assaulted by threats and violence, after solicitation and persuasion have failed, have evinced their firmness and integrity in preserving inviolate the mysteries of the order.
The fourth class consists of those who have perseveringly studied the scientific branches of the art, and exhibited proofs of their skill and acquirements, and who have consequently obtained the honour of this degree, as a reward of inerit.
The fifth class consists of those who, having acquired a proficiency of knowledge to become teachers, have been elected to preside over regularly constituted bodies of masons.
The sixth class consists of those who, having discharged the duties of the chair with honour and reputation, are acknowledged and recorded as excellent masters.
The seventh class cousists of a select fèw, whom years and experience have improved, and whom inerit and abilities have entitled to preferment. With this class the ancient landmarks of the order are preserved ; and from them we learn and practise the necessary and instructive lessons, which at once dignify the art, and qualify its professors to illustrate its excellence and utility.
This is the established mode of the masonic government, when the rules of the system are observed. By this judicious arrangement, trne friendship is cultivated among different ranks and degrees of men, hospitality promoted, industry rewarded, and ingenuity encouraged,
The importance of the Secrets of Masonry demonstrated..
If the secrets of masonry are replete with such advantages to mankind, it may be asked, Why are they not divulged for the general good of society? To which it may be answered: Were the privileges of masonry to be indiscriminately bestowed, the design of the institution would be subverted ; and, being familiar, like many other important matters, would soon lose their value, and sink into disregard.
It is a weakness in human nature, that men are generally more charmed with novelty, than the real worth or intrinsic value of things. Noyelty influences all our actions and determinations.
What is new, or difficult in the acquisition, however trifling or insignificant, readily captivates the imagination, and ensures a tenporary admiration ; while what is familiar, or easily obtained, however noble and eminent for its utility, is sure to be disregarded by the giddy and unthinking.
Did the particular secrets or peculiar forms prevalent among masons constitute the essence; of the art, it might be alleged that our amusements were trifling, aud our ceremovies superficial. But this is not the case. Having their use, they are preserved ; and from the recollection of the lessons they inculcate, the well. informed mason derives instruction. Drawing