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being perpetually open to view, pass unnoticed. The most astonishing productions of Nature, on the same account, escape observation, and excite no emotion, either in admiration of the great Cause, or of gratitude for the blessing conferred. Even Virtue herself is not exempted from this unhappy bias in the human frame. 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 attained, however noble or eminent, is sure to be disregarded by the giddy and the unthinking.
Did the essence of Masonry consist in the knowledge of particular secrets, or peculiar forms, it might, indeed, be alleged that our pursuits were trifling and superficial. But this is not the case; they are only the keys to our treasure, and, having their use, are preserved; while, from the recollection of the lessons which they inculcate, the wellinformed Mason derives instruction: he draws them to a near inspection, views them through a proper medium, adverts to the circumstances which gave them rise, and dwells upon the tenets they convey. Finding them replete with useful information, he prizes them as sacred; and, being convinced of their propriety, estimates their value by their utility.
Many are deluded by the vague supposition that our mysteries are merely nominal; that the practices established amongst us are frivolous; and that our ceremonies may be adopted or waived at pleasure. On this false basis we find too many of the Brethren hurrying through all the degrees of the Order, without adverting to the propriety of one step they pursue, or possessing a single qualification to entitle them to advancement. Passing through the usual formalities, they consider themselves authorised to rank as masters of the art, solicit and accept offices, and even assume the government of the lodge, equally unacquainted with the rules of the institution that they pretend to support, and the nature of the trust which they are bound to perform. The consequence is obvious; anarchy and confusion ensue, and the substance is lost in the shadow.—Hence men who are eminent for ability, rank, and fortune, frequently view the honours of Masonry with indifference; and, when their patronage is solicited, either accent offices with reluctance, or reject them with disdain.
Masonry has long laboured under these disadvantages, and every zealous friend to the Order must earnestly wish for a correction of the abuse. Of late years, it must be acknowledged, our assemblies have been in general better regulated; of which the good effects are sufficiently displayed in the judicious selection of our members, and the more proper observance of our general regulations.
Were the Brethren who preside at our meetings to be properly instructed previous to their appointment, and duly apprised of the importance of the offices they are chosen to support, a general reformation would speedily take place. This conduct would establish the propriety of our government, and lead men to acknowledge that our honours were not undeservedly conferred; the ancient con
* The above remarks are worthy of the serious consideration of every person who is ambitious to hold an office in Masonry. I have had much experience in the management of country lodges, and am convinced, that the want of success, which is so often and so justly complained of, and frequently ends in the actual dissolution of the establishment, is to be attributed, in nine instances out of ten, to a deficiency in point of judgment, as well as talent, in the presiding officer. Vide Signs and Symbols, by the Editor, sec. 11, on the government of a lodge. Editor.
sequence of the Order would be restored, and the reputation of the Society preserved. Till genuine merit shall distinguish our claim to the honours of Masonry, and regularity of deportment display the influence and utility of our rules, the world in general will not be led to reconcile our proceedings with our professions.
Few Societies exempted from Censure. Irregularities of Masons no Argument against the Institution.
Among the various societies of men, few, if any, are wholly exempted from censure. Friendship, however valuable in itself, and however universal may be its pretensions, has seldom operated so powerfully in general associations as to promote that sincere attachment to the welfare and prosperity of each other which is necessary to constitute true happiness. This may be ascribed to sundry causes, but to none with more propriety than to the reprehensible motives which too frequently lead men to a participation of social entertainments. If to pass an idle hour, to oblige a friend, or probably to gratify an irregular indulgence, be the only inducement to mix in company, is it surprising that the important duties of society should be neglected, and that, in the quick circulation of the cheerful glass, the noblest faculties should be sometimes buried in the cup of ebriety?
It is an obvious truth, that the privileges of Masonry have long been prostituted for unworthy considerations, and hence their good effects have been less conspicuous. Many have enrolled their names in our records for the mere purposes of conviviality, without inquiring into the nature of the particular engagements to which they are subjected by becoming Masons.' Several have been prompted by motives of interest, and many introduced to gratify an idle curiosity, or to please as jolly companions. A general odium, or at least a careless indifference, must be the result of such conduct. But the evil stops not here. Persons of this description, ignorant of the true nature of the institution, probably without any real defect in their own morals, are induced to recommend others of the same cast to join the society for the same purpose. Hence the true knowledge of the art decreases with the increase of its members, and the most valuable part of the institution is turned into ridicule; while the dissipations of luxury and intemperance bury in oblivion principles which might have dignified the most exalted characters.
* It is provided by the laws of Masonry, that no person shall be received as a candidate for initiation, except he be "a freeman, and his own master; and at the time of his initiation, be known to be in reputable circumstances. He should be a lover of the liberal Arts and Sciences, and have made some progress in one or other of them." (const. Of proposing members, s. iv. p. 90.) A want of attention to this salutary rule induces other irregularities, which seldom fail to involve a lodge in ultimate ruin. The following censure of the Grand Lodge on this point merits general circulation amongst the brethren. For obvious reasons the name of the offending lodge is omitted. "It being remarked iu the Grand Lodge that some of the brethren of the Lodge No. — were unable to write, inasmuch as their marks only were affixed against their names, and amongst them was the junior warden; and the law, sec. iv. p. 90, declaring such individuals ineligible for initiation, the M. W. Grand Master will, after this notice, feel it a duty he owes to the craft to bring under the cognizance of the Grand Lodge the conduct of any Lodge which shall violate the wholesome and necessary law above referred to; a breach of which, it is declared in the preamble to the regulations for proposing members, &c. p. 88, shall subject the offending Lodge to erasure. And the M. W. Grand Master will require his Provincial Grand Masters to warn the Lodges under their respective superintendence, of this His Royal Highness's determination, and to report to him any instance which shall come to their knowledge of a disregard of the law in this respect.1' (Quart. Com. 20th Sept. 1826.)—Editor.
When we consider the variety of members of which the society of Masons is composed, and the small number who are really conversant with the tenets of the institution, we need not wonder that few should be distinguished for exemplary lives. By persons who are precipitately introduced into the mysteries of the art, without the requisite qualifications, it cannot be expected that much regard will be paid to the observance of duties which they perceive to be openly violated by their own initiation; and it is an incontrovertible truth, that, such is the unhappy bias in the disposition of some men, though the fairest and best ideas were imprinted on the mind, they are so careless of their own reputation as to disregard the most instructive lessons. We have reason to regret, that even persons who are distinguished for a knowledge in the art, are too frequently induced to violate the rules, a pretended conformity to which may have gained them applause. The hypocrisy, however, is speedily unveiled; no sooner are they liberated from the trammels, as they conceive, of a regular and virtuous deportment, in the temporary government of the lodge, than, by abusing the innocent and cheerful repast, they become slaves to vice and intemperance, and not only disgrace themselves, but reflect dishonour on the Fraternity. By such indiscretion, the best of institutions is brought into contempt; and the more deserving part of the community justly conceived a prejudice against the society, of which it is difficult afterwards to do away the impression.
But if some do transgress, no wise man will thence argue against the institution, or condemn the whole Fraternity for the errors of a few misguided individuals. Were the wicked lives of men admitted as an argument against the religion which they profess, the wisest and most judicious establishments might be exposed to censure. It may be averred in fa