Chartered By: John Soley
Charter Date: 03/14/1827 IV-81
Precedence Date: 03/12/1826
Current Status: unknown
REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
- 1827 (Constitution of lodge, IV-126)
ø Charter surrendered 06/11/1834
FEAST OF ST. JOHN, JUNE 1830
From Boston Masonic Mirror, New Series, Vol. 2, No. 2, July 10, 1830, Page 11:
From the Southbridge Register.
The anniversary of the nativity of St. John the Baptist, was celebrated at Dudley, on the 24th ult. under circumstances peculiarly interesting to the Fraternity. The exercises of the occasion were under the direction of the Central Lodge, aided by a great number of Masons present from the Lodges in the vicinity. There were also present a large concourse of spectators, apparently willing to testify their respect for an ancient and much abused Institution, which has for its object to make men more charitable, generous and humane. The exercises at the Meeting house were a prayer by the Rev. Mr. Goodwin, of the Episcopal Church, East Sutton, and an excellent address by the Rev. Mr. Colton, of Monson Academy. It is announced with great pleasure that it will be published.
After the exercises at the Meeting house, a large company of Gentlemen and Ladies consisting of about three hundred, sat down to a dinner served up in a beautiful bower by Wm. Winsor, Esq. Col. Alexander DeWitt presided at the table, and after the cloth had been removed, the following sentiments were announced.
- 1st. The day we celebrate - May it admonish us to cultivate peace and good will towards men - a maxim so forcibly taught and exemplified by him in honor of whom we commemorate this day.
- 2d. The Masonic Institution - Like a well Keyed Arch, it gathers strength and compactness, from the intensity of pressure which surrounds it.
- 3d. Freemasonry and Religion - Both well calculated to render all who live agreeably to the precepts they enjoin, better, happier and more useful to their fellow men.
- 4th. Freemasonry - By its aid, science survived the grand wreck of intellect during the dark ages. May its guardianship never be withdrawn.
- 5th. Our Country - May its altars never be polluted by a practical illustration of a leading Antimasonic principle - "pardon, and future affluence to State convicts, on condition that they commit perjury."
- 6th. Ancient Masonry - Though frequently assailed by the storms of envy and prejudice - like the Oak it increases strength with age.
- 7th. Freemasons - May they come forth from the present Antimasonic excitement, like the three who withstood the fiery furnace - without even a bad smell on their garments.
- 8th. Unity and Discord - May they never meet, until the latter becomes a proselyte to the former.
- 9th. The Memories of Washington and Warren - Foremost alike in repelling the foes of their Country, and in cultivating the Masonic arts of peace.
- 10th. Seceders - Ephraim is joined to his Idols, let him alone.
- 11th. Antimasonry - Like the car of juggernaut, it destroys its own votaries.
- 12th. Our Masonic Brethren throughout the world - Whilst they practice upon the principles of our order, they shall enjoy the highest meed which earth bestows on virtuous actions - "a self approving conscience.
- 13th. The Ladies who adorn and honor our festival - May Masons appreciate their worth and deserve their approbation.
A great number of volunteer sentiments were given on the occasion, evincing the good sense and good feelings of the company.
Rev. Goodwin was probably Rev. Hersey Bradford Goodwin, who was made a co-pastor with Rev. Ezra Ripley at the Congregational Society in Concord, MA in February 1830; the following sermon and charge were presented at that time.
Rev. Mr. Colton of Monson Academy was Simeon Colton, one of the earliest instructors of that institution. He was raised in Thomas Lodge in 1819; he appears in the Centennial History on Page 1896-410 as follows:
Dr. Colton was a native of Longmeadow, a graduate of Yale in 1806, settled over the church in Palmer in 1811, dismissed in 1821, after which he was for some years the principal of Monson Academy, a teacher in North Carolina, and later president of Clinton College, Mississippi. The degree of D.D. was conferred upon him in 1846. He died at Ashborough, N.C., December, 1868. He was a man of much enterprise and of scholarly attainments. Dr. Colton often officiated as chaplain of the Lodge, and took much interest in the work.
Alexander De Witt (1798-1879) was a textile manufacturer from Oxford who at this time had just been elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He later served briefly in the U.S. Congress.
DR. COLTON'S ADDRESS
From Boston Masonic Mirror, New Series:
- Vol. 2, No. 12, September 18, 1830, Page 89;
- Vol. 2, No. 13, September 25, 1830, Page 97;
- Vol. 2, No. 14, October 2, 1830, Page 105
From the Hampshire Sentinel.
You have heard of the Gordian knot. Historians inform us that Alexander, in a fit of vexation, because he could not discover the secret of untying it, raised his sword, and determined with a single blow, to end a difficulty, which he had not the sagacity to comprehend nor the magnanimity to let alone.
Much like this is the feeling that has of late prevailed, in relation to the Masonic Institution. While some affect to consider it too contemptible to deserve attention; while some decry it as dangerous, and while others have tortured their invention in trying to find out its secrets, not a few in a fit of vexation have resolved with one blow to end the inquiry by cutting the knot, which they have not the skill to untie.
Under this paroxysm of feeling, a war of extermination has been proclaimed. No truce is to be allowed: no quarter is to be given. Absolute, unqualified submission is the only condition of peace. Such are the feelings which have of late been excited in relation to the Masonic Institution, and which it has been the endeavor of individuals to urge forward into an irreconcilable hatred and an unrelenting persecution.
Called to address you under such circumstances, it is no easy matter to select from the variety of subjects that present themselves a topic to which, for a few moments, your attention may most properly be directed. The history of the Institution; the principles on which it was founded; the salutary influence it has had on society; and its ability to become more extensively useful; are themes, which have often, on such occasions, been discussed. - Passing these, therefore, some may expect that in opposition to the attack recently commenced against the Institution, I should undertake its defence. This might be done, and this defence would furnish a subject to which our attention might be profitably directed. I will not, however, spend the time allotted to me in undertaking to defend that which, for the sake of Masons, needs no defence, and to defend which, in the view of enemies, would be worse than useless.
There are other topics that press upon our attention. - Under the ostensible plea of opposing Masonry, an attack has been made upon rights and privileges that lie at the foundation of all good society. Masons, it is true, are the immediate object of the attack, but should the demand made upon them be admitted there is not a man in the community who would be secure in his right for a moment. Masons, therefore, are not the only persons concerned in the case now pending before the public. Others are alike concerned, and the question at issue is one in which the dearest interest of individuals and society are at stake.
Allow me, then, to ask your attention for a brief examination of some of the claims of this antimasonic opposition - and to some remarks on the utter incompatibility of these claims with the rights of individuals, and on the duty of Masons in view of the existing circumstances of their Institution.
The principle which, if I understand it, is assumed as the basis of the prevailing sentiment is that the Institution is dangerous to the community and hazardous to personal safety. And in accordance with this principle, no pains have been spared to create and strengthen the impression that Masons are unworthy of confidence and unfit for stations of public trust. Attempts have been made to exclude them from offices which they have long sustained, and in instances not a few attempts have been made to exclude them from Christian privileges, as member of churches. These measures have all been attempted, and the work of proscription has not only commenced but in many places has been carried to the greatest extent that public sentiment would allow. Nor has this proscription been confined to Masons. Individuals not Masons, who have dared to question the propriety of the course adopted, have been loaded with opprobrious names, with a view to bring them into public contempt.
A more particular detail of the assumed principles and of the practices of this antimasonic excitement is not necessary at this time, for the history of the excitement is too well known to need a recapitulation. Suffice it to observe in relation to some of them, that they are utterly incompatible with the rights of individuals and subversive of the fundamental principles of liberty.
A demand is made upon Masons that Masonry shall be renounced, at the expense of forfeiting the confidence and favor of all who are not members of the Institution. This is the spirit that is breathed forth in the numerous publication which have been enlisted on that side of the question; in the addresses and what are called lectures which have been delivered in various parts of the country; and particularly in the resolutions that have been passed in antimasonic conventions. That I have not articulated this demand in too strong terms may be determined by numerous facts to which I refer you. What less than this can we infer from votes that have been passed in antimasonic meetings and even in Ecclesiastical bodies, where the subject has been taken up, discussed, and consequent measures pursued? What less can we infer from the votes that have been passed in some churches, concerning the fellowship of members? What less than this can be inferred from the votes of some of our towns, in the selection of names for jurors? What less from the votes of many political meetings and other assemblies that have been called for the purpose of expressing the feelings of the members?
Again then I ask, what is the Mason required to yield? The same that every man may be called to yield, should he happen to be so unfortunate as to be obnoxious to a party - viz., the right of private opinion. And suppose the Mason should yield; what will be the result? He has consented to be controlled by others in his opinions. He has given a pledge that whenever a demand is made upon him, he will consent to submit to dictation. This would be the first and a rapid step toward establishing a tyrannical government. And I hesitate not to say that the moment an individual yields to such a demand he forges a chain for himself that he can never break.
This demand, therefore, involves the general interest of society as well as those of the Mason. Nay, should Masons consent to yield to the demand, every discerning man would object; for in that act he would see but too plainly a signal for a demand to be made upon himself. - This demand is therefore so incompatible with the principles of liberty that antimasons do themselves compel Masons to say they cannot comply; for they demand a surrender, not of what belongs to them as Masons merely, but a right enjoyed in common with other citizens; a right which they cannot surrender without surrendering all that is dear to them as men. Had the demand been limited within the bounds of sober conviction; had it proceeded no further than reason would justify; had it been based upon evidence of wrong - Masons might have yielded to the weight of argument. But to ask men to yield to such a demand as that which is now made is but to require them to make a yoke for their own necks, or submit to be trampled on at pleasure.
Rather than submit to such a demand as this, give me my dwelling in the lonely forest; let my covering be the broad canopy of Heaven, and my food the spontaneous productions of the earth.
But this incompatibility is not the only objection to the claims of antimasonry. They are unreasonable.
That individuals have a right to associate themselves together for the purposes of business, for mutual improvement or for social enjoyment, provided the principles of association involve nothing contrary to the public good, will not I suppose be called in question. Nor will anyone doubt whether such an association may not prescribe its own rules for the management of its concerns, and its own terms on which new members shall be received. So far then, the Masonic Institution stands on the same footing with every association. The object is mutual improvement, mutual and peculiar assistance in the duties and trials of life. But it is said the association is peculiar for it has some things, intended to be secret, and thus it becomes a dangerous Institution. That there are things connected with the Institution which are intended to be known only to the members I do not deny. These however have no connection with the principles of the Institution, which are open to the world, nor have they any possible connection with the public good so that they can either benefit or injure. The forms and ceremonies of initiation, and the tokens whereby the members know each other, are all that can be considered secret. And if to keep these secrets be a crime, where is there an association to which the same objection may not be urged? For where is there an association, formed for business of pleasure or improvement, that does not assume the right of prescribing the terms of initiation, and of directing the mode and manner of operations, and all this without publishing to the world more than it pleases?
But it is said the Masonic Institution requires a special obligation. And where is there an association that does not, either formally or by implication require the same? But it is said this obligation binds the members to the performance of duties inconsistent with the public good. This insinuation is flatly denied. Nor will any Mason, who understands himself, ever assert it. Seceding Masons, I know, the better justify themselves before the public in denouncing the Institution, have asserted this. I would charitably hope they can plead ignorance of the obligation in excuse for their assertion; for it is certainly without foundation. Let the obligation be what it may, every candidate for initiation is expressly informed previous to taking it upon himself, that it requires nothing of him inconsistent with his duty to his Country or to God. He has, therefore, no right to interpret the obligation as implying a liberty to violate the peace of society in any case whatever. And it is a gross slander to insinuate such a thing concerning the Institution.
What then is there in the Masonic Institution that can form a just cause of alarm? Based on the purest principles of morality, designed as the means of promoting social intercourse; having nothing secret that can in the least degree affect the condition of any without, what is there in it that need excite the public odium? But it has said that it has been made a political engine. And suppose this were true: is the Institution to be condemned because it has been perverted? Why not then condemn the Church; why not condemn every literary association and every benevolent Institution?
Again, it is said that Masonry has been the means of impeding the course of justice, of condemning the innocent and clearing the guilty. I grant that this has been said, but I deny that it is with any just foundation, so far as the principles of Masonry or its obligations are concerned. - It is said, also, that Masonry sanctions the violations of private rights. This is downright falsehood, and no man would ever think of asserting it unless to support a bad cause, and the better to vindicate himself in defaming the character of the Institution. But it is still further said that Masonry encourages partiality in society, by binding its members to particular duties among themselves. I admit that the members are under peculiar obligation to each other, but not to the detriment of society, nor when their duty as good citizens require them to take an opposite course. And what association is there, where a similar feeling is not expected? Does not every member of a Mechanic, an Agricultural, or Literary Association cherish the same feeling? But Masonic charity, it is said, is a system of selfishness, being wholly confined to the members of the Association. This is not true. All men are to be the objects of his concern, but if a Masonic brother is to the be first object of attention, what is there in this inconsistent with reason or the practice of the best of men? Would any one expect a brother to leave a brother to perish that he might help a stranger? Where then is the crime that a Mason should first exercise his charity upon his suffering Brother?
But it is said that the Masonic Institution, operating in secret, is liable to be perverted. This objection is not without foundation. Bad men, obtaining the control of such an association, may sometimes make use of the secrecy as the means of carrying on their selfish schemes. Against this evil a remedy is provided in the union of virtuous men; for as all the transactions of a Lodge are open to each individual member, any improper proceeding is liable to be exposed if good men are found in the body sufficient to do it. In reply to this it is said that they would not dare to expose a fault. Such an assertion is too idle to be admitted by any one who knows anything of the Institution. No member is bound to keep as a secret an act done in a Lodge to the injury of the community. Nay, more, he is bound to proclaim every such act, and so far from having anything to fear there is not a Lodge in the land that would dare to censure him for his boldness. Is it reasonable then to decry an Institution as based and destructive against which no other objection can be urged? Is it reasonable to denounce an Institution which, if not possessing all the positive excellencies it might, is yet harmless in its character?
But beside this unreasonableness in opposing the Institution, there is a like unreasonableness, as well as much inconsistency in the manner of conducting the opposition. At one time we are told it is contemptible, and then all the arts of ridicule are mustered to make it appear odious. At another time it is clothed in all the array and terror of the Inquisition, and then men are called upon to watch its movements with a jealous eye. At one time we are told that its members are not worthy of confidence - at another, the same bold calumniator honestly confesses that the members with whom he is acquainted are as upright and honorable men as any that Society numbers. At one time we hear an individual denouncing Masonry in every stage and in every feature of the Institution - at another this same individual, pressed for proof of his assertion, confesses that the wickedness consists not in anything he has seen but in higher departments, to which he has not been admitted. Against individual members of the Association, a like unreasonableness and inconsistency has been manifested. Some are told that if they do not renounce, patronage in business shall be withdrawn from them. Some, who cannot be persuaded to renounce, are told that if they will abstain from all actual connection with Masons as such this shall be satisfactory as the means of securing a continuance of confidence. And when for the sake of peace the proposal has been met by a pledge, the whole transaction on the part of the persons demanding has proved like an Indian Treaty, the obligation of which the country feels no disposition to perform because the opposite contracting party has no power to compel the performance. The more peaceable, the more unoffending, the more defenceless the victim, the greater has been the violence shewn in attacking him. And to such an extent has this violence in some instances been carried that nothing has seemed capable of satisfying the cravings of the appetite for persecution. Detraction and slander are but common weapons that have been used, and there seems to be a determination that right or wrong the whole fabric shall be hurled to ruin. such is the manner in which this war upon Masonry has been conducted; - with a persecuting spirit, resolving to pursue its victim to death.
Hitherto I have considered the opposition of antimasonry chiefly as connected with Masons. We will now notice some of its effects upon society. And alas! How sad have its ravages have been! What divisions, what animosity of feeling, what separation among friends, what alienation among members of the same community! Private character has been traduced; stories a thousand times refuted, have been unblushingly repeated; tales the most ridiculous and absurd have been soberly published. The fountains of public morals have been polluted; the passions of men have been inflames; the press, already heated, has burst into a flame, and is throwing out torrents from its overcharged furnaces.
Add to this a spirit of jealousy and distrust has been awakened; suspicion has been engendered and encouraged to such an extent that the most tender ties of friendship are in danger of being torn asunder, and man set at variance with his fellow man. Political demagogues have seized the occasion as favorable to their ambitious views, not hesitating to use their utmost exertion to widen the breach that has been so inauspiciously created. Professing Christians forgetting the dictates of that religion, which forbids all angry feellings, have in many instances stigmatized their brethren as vile and treated them as enemies to the Church and to Christ. And some, even among Ministers of the Gospel, descending from the dignity of their station, have condescended to lend their aid to strengthen the exertions of those who are striving to kindle into a flame the worst passions that rankle in the human breast. While professing to wish for the prosperity of the Redeemer's Kingdom, they have literally joined hands with those who would rejoice at nothing more than the destruction of those benevolent Institutions which constitute so bright a gem in the crown of him whose cause they are bound to protect. Such have been the devastating effects of the wide-spreading pestilence that there is scarcely a nook or corner of the land that has been wholly exempt. The poisonous effluvia send forth from the caverns of corruption have spread far and wide, already producing a sickly state of public feeling; and in instances not a few the blain has become so deeply fixed that a sure and speedy death must be result.
To all this I am aware it will be said that Masonry is the cause and therefore must be chargeable with the evil. Bust as well might Gibbon and his infidel compeers charge all the wars that have existed since the Christian era upon the religion of Christ. As well might the Jews charge all the calamities that happened to them in the destruction of their city upon Christ and the Prophets.
Masonry, it is true, has been the occasion but not the cause of the excitement. Where is the man to be found who really believes that the death of the man (if he be dead) about whom so much has been said and written, was the authorized act of the Masonic association? There is not a seceding Mason in the country who in the sober moments of reflection will dare to utter such an assertion. Suppose, then, he was murdered as has been alleged: - shall the unauthorized act of a few individuals be a sufficient reason for denouncing an Institution and proscribing its members? Associations of men are not to be judged by the evil which may accidentally spring from them: for if this be considered a correct rule of judging, we shall at once be thrown into this strange paradox, The better the Institution, the worse its character. Allow that Masonry has been the occasion of evil; but was it necessary that men should run mad in order to show their disapprobation of the cause of this evil? Must the worst passions be kindled into a flame; was it necessary to resort to all the acts of intrigue, detraction, falsehood and the concomitant train of mischief to destroy the Masonic Institution? If as some pretend the Institution is contemptible, why thrown society into confusion to destroy it? If dangerous, as some assert, why not bring it before the bar of public opinion, order a regular impeachment, and support the cause by fair argument? Why not appeal to real fact, rather than hunt the world over for stories of murder and abuse that never had an existence except in an old woman's fancy, and which admit of no better defence than the slanders of a drunkard's shop. Why not come out in an open and dignified manner; why not march boldly to the combat and enter the open field, rather than undertake to support the cause with volleys of terrific sounds, which serve only to frighten the timid and render the actor contemptible in the eyes of the undaunted.
The manner in which this excitement has been produced and conducted savors too much of passion, prejudice and party zeal. To denounce, to proscribe, the crush without investigation has been too much the mode of procedure. Some have indulged themselves in throwing out insinuations, tending to lead people to suspect more evil than exists. Some have resorted to ridicule as if to bring into contempt, were to convict of wrong. Others have imputed to Masons the worst of crimes and have not hesitated to impeach character without a shadow of proof.
And by whom has this excitement been kindled? Far be it for me to say that in the ranks of those who are opposing Masonry there are not some upright and conscientious men - men who honestly mean to do their duty. But who have been most forward in opposition, most bold in denouncing? Seceders, men who feel it necessary to go to all lengths to make good their assertions, and to say a great deal in order to prevent a suspicion of mistake or wrong in the course they have taken. Who have been their most powerful coadjutors? Such men as love nothing better than change - such as hope in the general ruin to secure some advantage to themselves - such as are too bigoted to admit anything as good which does not exactly accord with their own opinions - such as love to find fault and are always ready to condemn everything of which they have not direction - such as through envy wish to destroy a reputation, which they know they cannot equal - and such as would prefer to see everything good destroyed rather than fail in a purpose they had undertaken.
These are the men who have undertaken this crusade against the Masonic Institution, who have raised the hue and cry, proscribing all who do not denounce as they do, and all who think there is less occasion for alarm suffering the Institution to be continued, than in encouraging this unreasonable excitement. These are the men who must answer to society for the evil that this excitement is producing. For such of them as have engaged in the work from unworthy motives there ought to be no pity. But for such as have been unwarily drawn in there ought to be less severity of censure. That Seceders should undertake to vilify and denounce was to be expected. As none have so much occasion, so none are so commonly so bold as Traitors. He who sells his Country must, to justify the sale, prove that it was unworthy of the privileges it enjoyed. So with the Seceding Mason. the louder and wider he can extend his cry of wickedness, the more he hopes to vindicate himself. Abuse, slander, detraction in every form may therefore be expected from him. But that people wholly unconcerned should volunteer to cover the retreat of the Traitor can be attributed to no other cause than a misguided zeal, or a love of change.
A Robinson and a Baruel frightened themselves and frightened half the world by their suspicions of illuminism. They dreamed of nothing but swords and spears, of war, blood and carnage proceeding from these supposed nurseries of iniquity. They were honest men, but they raised a needless alarm about a project, half of which existed only in their own imagination. Honest men in like manner have been drawn in to encourage the antimasonic excitement and through their means suspicion has been strengthened where there was no occasion for suspicion, and a spirit of distrust has been fostered, not warranted by facts, nor justified by any prospect of good to be gained. Even allowing the worst to be true of Masonry which enemies assert, on what principle can this violence in the mode of attack be justified? But making the deductions from these assertions which circumstances demand, how can sober men justify themselves for taking an active part in this work of proscription? I do not say it is the duty of people to approve; I do not ask that they should undertake to vindicate; but is it unreasonable to ask that every one remain neutral till he has more than suspicion to call him into the field? What if solicited by Conventions to express their opinion - is that a reason why any should place themselves in the ranks of opposition and in alliance with those who consider bold denunciation a sufficient proof of the baseness of the Institution they please to decry?
Let honest and sober men estimate the evils which to the present and future generations must grow out of this excitement, and then answer to their consciences if they can for the part they have taken. In view of this strange excitement, it is natural to inquire: what course ought the Masons to pursue? That the public mind has been thrown int oa state of great agitation cannot be denied. That this agitation is deeply to be regretted is equally certain. What then is the Mason's duty? Shielded under a consciousness of his integrity, I might say to him - go on in the enjoyment of your rights.
But even with conscience on your side, we are not always to be strenuous in defence of our priviliges. All things are not expedient that are lawful. For the sake of peace and the public good, we are sometimes to surrender what we may esteem a right and a privilege. In the present case one that demand of the Mason a surrender of his Institution to the public good? Some, and even friends have proposed, thinking it better that they give up their privileges than that society be thrown into confusion to support them. But can the Institution be abandoned while circumstances continue as they are? I answer plainly it cannot, because enemies by demanding too much have rendered it impossible to do anything without surrendering unalienable rights.
The question of abandonment under existing circumstances ought not to be named. I will not undertake to say that under different circumstances it might not be abandoned. Many good men, and even worthy Masons, have supposed the continuance of the Institution is not necessary. The general aspect of society has materially changed since Masonry was introduced. There is now no longer occasion for those special pledges which were so necessary a few centuries since for the security of individuals. The improvements in Education and the extension of social intercourse furnish the protection of assistance which formerly were secured by special obligation. I will not therefore take upon me to say how much society would gain or lose by the extinction of the Masonic Institution. But though I am no enthusiast in support of Masonry, I feel bound to enter my solemn protest against the hostile and disorganizing spirit which to prostrate an enemy would level every valuable Institution in the dust.
So long as this spirit of proscription prevails I cannot, I will not think of a surrender of my rights. I feel myself called upon to stand forth with firmness against every effort to wrest from me the precious privileges conferred on me by the great Author of my Being. And it is to bear my testimony against the unwarrantable assumption of power that I the more resolutely stand here this day to address you on these important subjects. I love my liberty. I venerate the spirit which prompted our Fathers to cross the ocean and seek an asylum in these inhospitable wilds. I admire that noble resolution which nerved them to brave the dangers of the deep, to endure the cold and heat, the frost and snows of a New-England clime rather than submit to be dictated in the right of thinking and acting for themselves. From them I humbly claim to have received a portion of the same disposition, and rather than prove myself unworthy of the descent by tamely surrendering my right at the point of demand, let me be caged in some solitary spot, no more to disgrace the name of Pilgrim on New England soil.
If then, as I have supposed, the Institution cannot honorably be abandoned, what is to be done? I answer, patiently and quietly perform the duties of life, nor be disturbed by the whirlwind that roars around your dwelling. The degree of violence that accompanies the tempest is commonly an indication of the extent of its duration. This bold spirit of demand which antimasonry assumes will not be tolerated for a long time in a well-informed community. And already, if I mistake not, there are more than equivocal indications that they who have been so forward in kindling a fire for the destruction of others have only been collecting materials the better to accomplish their own ruin.
Let enemies go on and traduce, let them proscribe, but let Masons be patient in well-doing. If they are denied the confidence of their fellow-men, it is better to submit to the injury than run the hazard of disturbing society to avenge the wrong. Let them not return evil for evil, but rather imitate Him who returned good for evil, and when He was reviled, reviled not again. But it is not enough with Masons that they be passive in duty. They are to show by their conduct that they do not deserve the odium that is attempted to be heaped upon them. This they are to do by a consistent walk and by active diligence in all the duties of life. Masons may not be able to convince their enemies by argument, but they can live down the spirit of opposition by a faithful attention to duty.
And I will add, if the aspect of the times has changed, there may also be a change in the Institution without deviating from its original design. And perhaps the present is a favorable time to introduce some of those changes in the operations of the Institution which the improved state of society possibly requires. If the state of society furnishes less occasion for the special pledges of Masonry, let the Institution be devoted to the further improvement of that very society whose defects it was originally intended to remedy. - Among other things which ought to be patronized, allow me to recommend to every Lodge the establishment of a well chosen library. An appropriation for this purpose will be of immense service to all the members. I speak from experience on this subject. I have seen the experiment tried and can bear testimony to its favorable result. Knowledge is thus diffused through society, the Lodge is honored, and the world convinced that Masons are looking for improvement in life.
Masons should also be active in aiding the various benevolent and humane operations of the day. In the great cause of temperance, they should be found among the foremost of friends. That Lodge which meets only for the purpose of conviviality is unworthy of its place, acts not in accordance with its own professed principles, but brings a stain upon the whole Institution. - Pardon me then if I say in strong terms that the Mason is the last man who should be backward in pledging himself to use every possible exertion to banish intemperance, and the first to set the example that he will neither 'touch nor taste nor handle' the poisonous draught. The time has come when society has a right to expect that every friend to order will take a firm stand in this important work of reformation. Let no man therefore who professes to bear a Masonic character forget that Temperance stands foremost in the list of the virtues required of him.
There is another object which at this time may properly present its claims to the consideration of Masons. It is the establishment of an Institution on a broad and extensive scale as an Asylum for the children of Masons that have been thrown out friendless upon the cold and stinted charity of the world. Such an Institution where these unfortunate orphan children might be collected, taught in the rudiments of Education, and early trained to habits of industry, would form a splendid column in the Masonic Temple which none could condemn and which every good man would decidedly approve. And how, let me ask, can the Grand Lodge, the subordinate Lodges, and the other Masonic Institutions of this state better appropriate their funds than in thus providing means to raise the helpless orphan from degradation and to furnish him an honorable station in society? In some central situation within the commonwealth let a suitable farm be purchased, proper buildings be prepared, some discreet person be appointed to superintend the concern; there let the children of a given age and under particular circumstances be collected; let them be instructed in such various branches of business as their taste may warrant, and in such kind of learning as will lay the foundation for usefulness; and when they have arrived at proper age, let them be transferred to some regular occupation for life.
What object can be presented more interesting than this? What sight could be more delightful, what more cheering than a group of such children training up under the patronage of society founded for benevolent purposes, becoming the protector of the defenceless, and the guide of the young pilgrim in the journey of life. Among all the humane institutions that exist, there is no one more interesting than that designed for the rescue of the defenceless orphan. And to what object more worthy can the charities of the benevolent be directed than that of saving the fatherless child from want and raising him to usefulness in life? How grateful must be the reflection to a tender parent, when recollecting that he must be separated from his beloved children and knows that he must leave them friendless and poor in the world, that they will find in the bosom of the Masonic Fraternity friends and guardians and protectors that will provide for their wants and rescue them from danger - an Asylum where the moral habits will be carefully formed, where they will be instructed in the elements of human knowledge, where they will be instructed in the elements of human knowledge, in the principles of religion, and trained up in the occupations of life. Happy shall I be if these few hints on a subject I deem so important may lead any in stations of influence to think in earnest of the suggestions I offer.
Brethren of the masonic Institution. The special directions that need be urged upon you at this present time are few and simple. Guard your Institution from abuse; take heed to yourselves and let your light shine before men. - It is our lot to live in an age justly styled an age of Benevolence. If in accordance with the benevolent of the times all our movements are directed, enemies will assail our Institution in vain. Go then, let Masonry appear in practice what you profess to consider it in the theory. - Live you like Masons, and the tongue of slander shall be let loose upon you in vain. Nor be you disturbed about what may be the result of the present excitement in relation to your Institution.
If you are compelled to behold the destruction of this Edifice, remember there is a building not made with hands that shall never decay. Into that let it be your endeavour to gain admission. Thither let all your treasures be borne, and there seek for that inheritance which can never be taken away. You are at present professedly engaged in the season of apprenticeship; passing through a state of pilgrimage; seeking a Country and a city that hath foundations. Think it not strange then if you are visited with trails. It is the furnace of affliction that men are prepared for a place in the Temple above. And happy shall you be if you shall be numbered with those whose trials have wrought together for their spiritual benefit. See then that you walk honestly and that in all things you be a pattern to others, prompt to forgive injuries, ready to do good, humble for your faults, always cherishing a most affectionate regard for him who has been constituted and appointed to be your leader.
Go then, my brethren, and redouble your diligence. - Let the whirlwind blow its threatening blast; let Traitors raise the cry of denunciation; let enemies foam out your rage, but be you firm to your poses, be undaunted and unwavering amid the threats that assail you. In the end you will see that every trial has had its benefit, and if you shall be so happy as to reach the celestial city you will find that your way, though it led you over a rough and rugged Country, was yet the most direct to the place of Habitation.