In delineating the character of the Freemason, we shall avoid giving too free a rein to the imagination.
We may set up an ideal standard of excellence, but we shall not go the length of imagining that every Mason has attained that standard.
In our opening number we pointed out, with a certain freedom of language which some, perhaps, may have mistaken for overboldness, that at all events every representative Freemason, holding distinguished rank in the Fraternity, should exhibit that refinement of mind and manner which characterise the gentleman.
Otherwise, and we cited a not improbable case, he might involve the Order he represented in endless ridicule.
every true mason is essentially a sincere man
In the present article we shall mark the limits of our proposition somewhat more precisely, and not with-out reason.
We claim that every true Mason is essentially a sincere man.
It is quite possible, of course, that some may be more sincere than others. Some, again, are sincere under certain conditions, while others exhibit this trait under certain other conditions.
But, though the scale of sincerity which prevails among the brotherhood may be graduated, the quality itself is of the very essence of Masonry.
To take a man on the very threshold of his Masonic career;—-he joins the Order from pure love and respect for its principles.
So, offering himself as a candidate for the first degree, he openly avers that he has no ulterior hope of gain, in becoming a Mason.
He is aware of the respectable most universally accorded to Freemasons in free countries.
He is not ignorant of the oppression and persecutions to which the brotherhood have been and still are subjected under despotic governments, or of the reasons that have led to such oppression and persecution.
He knows there is one mystic tie which, quite apart from all other ties, unites all the brethren in all parts of the world.
With this knowledge, he voluntarily undertakes the obligations of Masonry. Can it or ought it to be doubted that such a man is actuated by sincerity ?
Some there may be who are influenced by other and less worthy motives.
They see or think they see their way clear to profit by the new “connection” they have established, anticipating, perhaps, a speedier advance in wealth and social estimation, or some other advantage more or less material.
In ordinary circumstances this kind of motive—that is, a desire for advancement in wealth and the worlds esteem—may not be looked upon very unfavourably, but we trust and believe that the Masons who hope for profit from their enrolment in the order are few and far between.
It is, perhaps, in the nature of things that some men should be more, some less sincere than others.
All minds are not constituted alike. There are those which are readily im-pressed by momentary occurrences, but the impression soon passes away, and is forgotten.
Others again are influenced but very slowly, but the influence is an abiding one.
There is, in fact, the same difference between these two classes of men as between tablets of wax on the one hand, and tablets of stone or brass on the other.
The inscription on the former is clear and precise enough while it lasts, but the material of the tablets is very perishable.
Equally clear and precise are the inscriptions on stone or brazen tablets, but stone and brass, as compared with wax, are, so to speak, imperishable.
The impression remains therefore, nor can it be removed, save by the utter destruction of the tablet on which it is engraven.
Again, the smooth soft surface of wax is capable of receiving any number of impressions one after the other.
A very moderate degree of heat or pressure suffices to remove all traces of the first, and but little is necessary to make a second, and, it may be, an entirely opposite one.
This is not possible with such unyielding material as stone or brass. Time and labour are required both to efface the old, and substitute the new inscription.
Thus, the impressionable man is no doubt sincere enough so long as the impression remains, but only for so long; while he who yields less readily is, in the majority of cases, more lastingly impressed.
Of course, every man must judge for himself, as to the worthiness or unworthiness of the motives which prompt him to any particular course.
Our province, is to point out what motives should influence the Mason, in the entering upon and fulfilling his duties. Assuredly not the least important among them is sincerity.
We offer these remarks in perfect good faith. Many people imagine that Masonry is a kind of hobby, which men follow for mere amusement.
They are not aware that every member on entering the brotherhood binds him-self, by the most solemn obligations, to certain rules of life, that he accepts certain principles to guide him in his relations and intercourse with the other brethren.
Some regard it as an ancient mystery, with much quaint ceremonial, but comparatively meaningless.
Others fancy that admission to a Lodge is pretty much the same thing as admission to a club.
It is perfectly true, that Masons have certain signs and symbols for the purpose of mutual recognition. It is highly probable that a Mason is what Dr. Johnson called a clubbable man.
But these notions fall very far short of the reality, ignoring, as they do, the true aims which have always influenced Masons from the remotest ages.
We are neither surprised nor offended that the outer world should hold these views. Considering the state of darkness in which they live, they could hardly, indeed, do otherwise.
The business of a Mason, is the fulfilment of certain sacred duties, and no one can conscientiously observe these duties, who is not animated by the purest and most disinterested motives, or, in other words, who is not a perfectly sincere man.
Extract: The Freemason’s Chronicle – January 23, 1875 – printed 146 years ago
Recent Articles: in this series
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Types of Masonic Character
Another example that demonstrates that nothing really changes in Freemasonry. In an article the Types of Masonic Character published 145 years ago in The Freemason's Chronicle 10th April, 1875
Royalty And The Craft
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Nothing really changes, an article Indifferent Masons, From Le Monde Maçonnique 1874. Translation published in The Freemason's Chronicle 20th February, 1875
The Mason: A Discreet Man
In handling an intruder in the lodge, we endeavoured to show that a good Mason should be a gentleman, and a sincere man. The Freemason's Chronicle 20th February, 1875
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Freemasonry In The United States during And After The Revolution
We take a look at Freemasonry in the United States during and after the Revolution first published in The Freemason's Chronicle - February 6, 1875
The Archaeology of the Craft
We take a look at the archaeological connection with the Craft, first published in The Freemason's Chronicle - January 30, 1875
The Mason: A Sincere Man
What it means to a Freemason to be a sincere man
Citizenship of the World
What it means to a Freemason to be a citizen of the world ?
Brotherhood! In that one word what sympathetic associations arise.
The Mason: A Gentleman
This opening article was written 145 years ago, yet it resonates with Freemasons today as it did then.
to be a better citizen of the world
share the square with two brothers
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