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civilization took place, and the progress 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 acquired 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 a brother Briton, Franc 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 esteem. 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 principles 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 nation 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
eonverse, in the principles of knowledge and phi losophy.
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 cultivated 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 merit.
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 consists of a select few whom years and experience have improved, and whom merit 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, true 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. Novelty 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 temporary 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 alledged that our amusements. were trifling, and our ceremonies 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 them to a near inspection, he views them through a proper medium; adverts to the circumstances which gave them rise; dwells upon the tenets they convey; and, finding them replete with useful information, adopts them as keys to the privileges of his art, and prizes them as sacred. Thus convinced of their propriety, he estimates the value from their utility.