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branch of the human race.
Actuated by these sentiments, each individual centres his happiness in that of his neighbour, and a fixed and permanent union is established among men.
Nevertheless, though friendship, considered as the source of universal benevolence, is unlimited, it exerts its influence more or less powerfully as the objects it favours are nearer or more remote. Hence, the love of friends and of country takes the lead in our affections, and gives rise to that true patriotism, which fires the soul with the most generous flame, creates the best and most disinterested virtue, and inspires that public spirit and heroic ardour, which enables us to support a good cause, and risk our lives in its defence.
This commendable virtue crowns the lover of his country with unfading laurels, gives a lustre to his actions, and consecrates his name to posterity. The warrior's glory may consist in murder, and the rude ravage of the desolating sword; but the blood of thousands will never stain the hands of his country's friend. His virtues are open, and of the noblest kind. Conscious integrity supports him against the arm of power; and should he bleed by tyrant's hands, he gloriously dies a martyr in the cause of liberty, and leaves to posterity an everlasting monument of the greatness of his soul.
ADVANTAGES RESULTING FROM FRIENDSHIP.
Friendship not only appears divine when employed in preserving the liberties of our country, but shines with equal splendour in the more tranquil scenes of life. Before it rises into the noble flame of patriotism, aiming destruction at the heads of tyrants, thundering for liberty, and courting danger in defence of rights, we behold it calm and moderate, burning with an even glow, improving the soft hours of peace, and heightening the relish for virtue. In these happy moments contracts are formed, societies are instituted, and the vacant hours of life wisely employed, in the cultivation of social and polished manners.
ON MASONIC SECRESY.
MANY are the charges brought against the society on account of secresy; one of our grand charcteristics, and the innocent cause of most of the persecutions and reproaches we suffer.
We are condemned for keeping the essentials of our institution from the knowledge of those who are not members of it; which, it is said, must sufficiently prove them to be of a very bad nature and tendency, else why are they not made public for the satisfaction of mankind.
If secresy be a virtue, (a thing never yet denied,) can that be imputed to us as a crime, which has always been considered as an excellence in all ages? Does not Solomon, the wisest of all men, tell us, "He that discovers secrets is a traitor, but a man of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.'
In conducting all worldly affairs, secresy is not only essential, but absolutely necessary; and was ever esteemed a quality of the greatest worth.
To be faithful in keeping secrets, is the constant aim of a Mason, and to possess a degree of taciturnity ought to be his constant study, by which he ought to divest himself of that close mysterious air, so common to the reserved; for while it appears that he carries his whole heart upon his lips, communicating what is of no importance, yet he ought to know how to stop just in the proper moment, without proceeding to those things which might raise up any suspicion, or furnish even a hint to discover the purposes of his mind.
If we turn our eyes to antiquity, we shall find the ancient Egyptians had so great a regard for silence and secresy in
the mysteries of their religion, that they set up the God Harpocrates, to whom they paid peculiar honour and veneration, who was represented with his right hand placed near his heart, and the left down by his side, covered with a skin before full of eyes and ears, to signify, that of many things to be seen and heard, few are to be spoken.
And among the same people, their great Isis, the Minerva of the Greeks, had always an image of a sphynx* placed at the entrance of her temples, to denote that secrets were there preserved under sacred coverings, that they might be kept from the knowledge of the vulgar, as much as the riddles of that creature.
Among the Greek nations, the Athenians had a statue of brass, which they awfully revered. This figure was without a tongue, by which secresy was intimated.
The Romans had a goddess of silence, named Angerona, represented with her fore-finger on her lips, a symbol of prudence and taciturnity.†
Annacarchus, who (according to Pliny) was apprehended in order to extort his secrets from him, bit his tongue off in the midst, and afterwards spit it in the tyrant's face, rather choosing to lose that organ, than to discover those things which he had promised to conceal.
Therefore, since it evidently appears from the foregoing instances, (among many others) that there were ever secrets among mankind, as well respecting societies as individuals, and that the keeping of these inviolable was always reputed an indispensable duty, and attended with an honourable estimation, it must be very difficult to assign a sufficient
* The Sphynx was a famous monster in Egypt, having the face of a virgin and the body of a lion; it was hewn out of the rock, and about thirty feet high, and placed near one of the pyramids.
+ A beautiful representation of this goddess must be familiar to all who have visited the New Masonic Hall in Philadelphia.
reason why the same practice should be at all wondered at, or less approved of, among Free and accepted Masons of the present age, than they were among the wisest men and the greatest philosophers of antiquity.
The constant applause and the general practice of the ancients, as well as the customs of the moderns, one would naturally imagine, should be sufficient to justify Masons against any charge of singularity or innovation on this account; for how can this be thought singular, or new, by any one who will but calmly allow himself the smallest time for reflection.
Do not all incorporated bodies among us enjoy this liberty without impeachment or censure? An apprentice is bound to keep the secrets of his Master. In England, a freeman is obliged to consult the interest of his company, and not to prostitute, in common, the mysteries of his profession. Secret committees and private councils are solemnly enjoined not to publish abroad their debates and resolutions. In courts martial the members are bound to secresy, as also members of the bar, who cannot divulge the secrets of their clients, and for more effectual security an oath is administered in many of the above cases.
As in society in general we are united together by our indigencies and infirmities, and a vast variety of circumstances contributing to our mutual and necessary dependence on each other, (which lays a general foundation for terrestrial happiness, by securing general amity and the reciprocation of good offices in the world,) so, in all particular societies, of whatever denomination, they are all enjoined by a sort of cement, by bonds and laws which are peculiar to each of them, from the highest assemblies to the lowest. Consequently, the injunctions to secresy among Free Masons can be no more unwarrantable, than in the societies and cases already pointed out; and to report, or even to insinuate, that they are, must argue a want of can
dour, a want of reason and charity. For by the laws of nature and of nations, every individual and every society has a right to be supposed innocent till proved otherwise.
Yet, notwithstanding the mysteries of our profession are kept inviolable, none are excluded from a full knowledge of them in due time and manner, upon proper application, and being found capable and worthy of the trust. To form other designs and expectations, is building on a sandy foundation, and will only serve to testify, that like a rash man their discretion is always out of the way when they have most occasion to make use of it.
ON MASONIC OATHS.
It is but too frequently alleged by the enemies of our order, that upon the initiation of a member into our mysteries, he lays himself under an obligation by an Oath, with very severe penalties. This, by them, is pronounced an unwarrantable proceeding. Certainly these persons are as ignorant as they are ungenerous, and for want of better judgments form erroneous notions, and from false premises, draw false conclusions. To obviate this objection I will trace the origin of swearing, and observe the different customs adopted by the ancients on this head. After examining the nature of the Oath, supposing that one is required, as set forth by the adversaries of Masonry, I will consider how far it is, or is not, warrantable in the present
From that great luminary of the craft, the Holy Scriptures, we are informed what was the custom of swearing among the Hebrews, who sometimes swore by stretching