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THE DUTIES OF A FREEMASON
by Thomas Dunckerly, Esq.
THE DUTIES OF A FREE-MASON IN SEVERAL CHARGES, DELIVERED In regular LODGES, held under the Constitution of the GRAND MASTER OF ENGLAND. Honour all Men. Love the Brother-hood. Fear God. Honour the King.
I PET. ii. V. I7.
A CHARGE , delivered to the Members of the Lodge of FREE and ACCEPTED MASONS, held at the Castleinn, MARLBOROUGH, at a Meeting for the Distribution Of CHARITY to twenty-four poor People, at which most of the Ladies in MARLBOROUGH were present, Sept. 11, A. L. 5769.
Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master over the Lodge in Hampshire, and Right Worshipful Master of that Lodge.
BRETHREN, IT is with the greatest satisfaction I meet you here in the cause of charity. Charity is the basis of our order; it is for this purpose we have a Grand Lodge at London, another at Edinburgh, and a third at Dublin. Lodges are now held on every part of this globe, and charities are collected and sent to the respective grand lodge of each kingdom or state: There the different Brethren apply and find relief; nor is any exception made to difference of country or religion.
For, as in the sight of God we are all equally his children, having the same common parent and preserver, so we, in like manner, look on every Free-Mason as our Brother; nor regard where he was born or educated, provided he is a good man, an honest man, which is "the noblest work of God:'
A laudable custom prevailed among our antient Brethren; after they had sent. their donations to the general charities, they considered the distress of those in particular that resided in their respective neighbourhoods, and assisted them with such a sum as could be conveniently spared from the lodge. In humble imitation of this masonic principle, I recommended the present charity to your consideration; to which you readily and unanimously consented. The sum is, indeed, but small, yet, when it is considered that this lodge is in its infant state, having been constituted little more three months; I hope, as the widow's mite was acceptable, this act of ours will be considered, not with respect to the sum, but the principles by which we were influenced.
I have told you in the lodge, and I repeat it now, that Brotherly-love, Relief and Truth, are the grand principles of Masonry, and as the principal part of the company are unacquainted with the original intention of this society, it may be proper for their information, and your instruction, that I explain those principles, by which it is our duty in particular to be actuated.
By Brotherly-love,. we are to understand that generous principle of the soul, which respects the human species as one family, created by an All-wise Being, and placed on this globe for the mutual assistance of each other. It is this attractive principle, or power, that draws men together and unites them in bodies politic, families, societies, and the various orders and denominations among men. But as most of these are partial, contracted, or confined to a particular country, religion, or opinion; our order, on the contrary, is calculated to unite mankind as one family: High and low, rich and poor, one with another; to adore the same God, and observe his law. All worthy members of this society are free to visit every lodge in the world; and though he knows not the language of the country, yet by a silent universal language of our own, he will gain admittance, and find that true friendship, which flows from the Brotherly-love I am now describing.
At that peaceable and harmonious meeting he will hear no disputes concerning religion or politics; no swearing; no obscene, immoral, or ludicrous discourse; no other contention but who can work best, who can agree best.
To subdue our passions, and improve in useful scientific knowledge; to instruct the younger Brethren, and initiate the unenlightened, are principal duties in the lodge; which, when done, and the word of God is closed, we indulge with the song and cheerful glass, still observing the same decency and regularity, with strict attention to the golden mean, believing, with the poet, that
Let me travel from east to west, or between north and south, when I meet a true Brother I shall find a friend, who will do all. in his power to serve me, without having the least view of self-interest. And if I am poor, and in distress, he will relieve me to the utmost of his power, interest, and capacity. This is the second grand principle. For relief will follow where there is Brotherly-love.
I have already mentioned our general charities as they are at present conducted; it remains now that I consider particular donations given from private lodges, either to those that are not Masons, or to a. Brother in distress. And first, with respect to a charity like this before us; perhaps it is better to be distributed in small sums, that more may receive the benefit, than to give it in larger sums, which would confine it to few.
With regard to a Brother in distress, who should happen to apply to this lodge, or any particular member for relief, it is necessary that I inform you in what manner you are to receive him. And here I cannot help regretting, that such is the depravity of the human heart, there is no religion or society free from bad professors, or unworthy members, for, as it is impossible for us to read the heart of man, the best regulated societies may be imposed on, by the insinuations of the artful, and hypocrisy of the abandoned. It should, therefore, by no means lessen the dignity and excellency of the royal craft, because it is our misfortune to have bad men among us, any more than the purity and holiness of the Christian religion should be doubted because too many of the wicked and profligate approach the holy altar.
Since, therefore, these things are so, be careful whenever a Brother applies for relief, to examine strictly whether he is worthy of acceptance; enquire the cause of his misfortunes, and if you are satisfied they are not the result of vice or extravagance, relieve him with such a sum as the lodge shall think proper, and assist him with your interest and recommendation, that he may be employed according to his capacity, and not eat the bread of idleness. This will be acting consistent with Truth, which is the third grand principle of Masonry.
Truth is a divine attribute, and the foundation of all masonic virtues. To be good men anal tree, is part of the first great lesson we are taught ; and at the commencement of our freedom, we are exhorted to be fervent and zealous in the practice of truth and goodness. It is not sufficient that we walk in the light, unless we do the truth. All hypocrisy and deceit must be banished from us:- Sincerity and plain dealing complete the harmony of the Brethren, within and without the lodge; and will render us acceptable in the sight of that great Being, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid. There is a charm in truth that draws and attracts the mind continually towards it; the more we discover, the more we desire, and the great reward is wisdom, virtue, and happiness. This is au edifice founded upon a rock, which malice cannot shake, or time destroy. What a secret satisfaction do we enjoy, when in searching for truth, we find the first principles of useful science, still preserved among us, as we received them by oral tradition from the earliest ages ; and we also find this truth corroborated by the testimonies of the best and greatest men the world has produced. But this is not all; the sacred writings confirm what I assert; the sublime part of our antient mystery being there to be found; nor can any Christian Brother be a good Mason that does not make the word of God his first and principal study.
I sincerely congratulate you on the happy establishment of this lodge, and the prospect you have of its utility and permanency, by the choice you have made of members capable to conduct it. Let wisdom direct you to contrive for the best. - Strengthen the cause of Masonry, by mutual friendship, which is the companion and support of fraternal love, and which will never suffer any misunderstanding to inflame a Brother, or cause him to behave unbecoming a member of our peaceable and harmonious society. Let us, then, resolve to beautify and adorn our order, by discharging the duties of our respective stations, as good subjects, good parents, good husbands, good masters, and dutiful children; for by so doing, we shall put to silence the reproaches of foolish men. As you know these things, Brethren, happy are ye if you do them; and thrice happy shall I esteem it to be looked on as the founder of a society in Marlborough whose grand principles are, Brotherly-love. Relief, and Truth.
Let us consider these poor persons as our brothers and sisters, and be thankful to Almighty God, that he has been pleased to make us his instruments of affording them this small relief; most humbly supplicating the GRAND ARCHITECT OF THE UNIVERSE, from whom all holy desires, all good councels, and all just works do proceed, to bless our undertaking, and grant that we may continue to add some little comfort to the poor of this town.
Next to the Deity, whom can I so properly address myself to, as the most beautiful part of the creation?
You have heard, Ladies, our grand principles explained, with the instructions given to the Brethren, and I doubt not but at other times you have heard many disrespectful things said of this society. Envy, malice, and all uncharitableness will never be at a loss to decry, find fault, and raise objections to what they do not know. How great, then, are the obligations you lay on this lodge! With what superior esteem, respect, and regard, are we to look on every Lady present that has done us the honor of her company this evening. To have the sanction of the fair is our highest ambition, as our greatest care will be to preserve it. The virtues of humanity are peculiar to your sex; and we flatter ourselves, the most splendid ball could not afford you greater pleasure than to see the human heart made happy, and the poor and distrest obtain present relief.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014