Profession and Practice

Most of our readers in the course of their experience, have doubtless met with enthusiastic brethren who take it for granted that a Mason can do no wrong.

These enthusiasts are thoroughly convinced that the vast majority of those who join the Order are the most benevolent, the most moral, and the very noblest members of society. The theory in their minds, like some religious theories of “conversion”, is that the instant a man has been received into the mystic circle he becomes a new being.

The ignoble become noble minded, the hard hearted become sensitive, and the man of lax morals becomes a pattern of all the virtues. An enthusiastic over-estimate of the Order such as this, although it embodies a great deal of truth, is certain to do harm.

We have never undervalued enthusiasm, and indeed we regard it as a great moral force, but when a brother, bent, at all hazards, upon blowing the trumpet of fame for the Order, ventures to describe the whole of his confraternity in terms which would be flattering if applied to the saints, we cannot but think that such commendation is sure to excite antagonism.

The enemies of Masonry, on the watch for holes in our garments, will assuredly take up such a challenge as this. They will tell us that there are mean and ignoble Masons, mercenary Masons, they may add indeed, by way of capping the sweeping assertions of the enthusiast, that Masons generally are no better than other people, and are not to be distinguished from their neighbours for any of the special graces of character.

Possibly a calm and clear thinker might be disposed to admit the general truth of some of these charges, but he would join issue with reference to the latter, and, on fairly reasonable grounds; he might urge, that Masons are a carefully selected community, that whereas society is necessarily composed of persons of all classes and dispositions, the ranks of the Order are filled only with men whose characters will bear a close inspection.

Granted that men of the middle classes, for example, are generally speaking good citizens, the Mason, as such, gives an additional guarantee to society for his good behaviour, in the fact that he has become a member of a fraternity which rigidly punishes any infringement of a code which for high and pure morality will bear comparison with any system of ethics which has yet attracted the attention of men .

In saying thus much for the Order we should not unfairly beg the real point in dispute.
In fact, we are willing enough to admit that there are indifferent Masons in the Order. A community of saints is quite unknown in this sublunary sphere. Wherever men are banded together for any noble object, there will be people who will seek admission to their ranks for purely selfish purposes.

We are not, indeed, ignorant of the fact that the self seekers who employ Masonry for purposes of their own are to be found in every social grade. We should be the last to assert that the Order is more frequently degraded for purposes of trade than for objects which appear less sordid, but which in reality are not one whit more reputable. The rich man, who desires to get into a circle which may be entered by the agency of Grand Lodge, is unfortunately to be found occasionally in our midst.

Some men make Masonry an engine for obtaining power and distinction, and while in pursuit of this object they are often willing to simulate a benevolence they do not feel. Thackeray has remarked, over and over again in his wonderful fictions, that rich people will do far more unkind things than persons of low degree.

A poor man would blush to be seen squabbling over the expenditure of a few shillings.
He would be ashamed to depart from his word, or to permit any one to think that he had done so. Some of our brethren who are by no means rich are the most active in all works of benevolence. They seek no reward for their labours, and would be astonished if they received any.

But it has sometimes happened that a rich man has made his Masonic professions chime in with his personal interest. He does not indeed display the emblems of the Order over his door, or on his carriage, but there are other ways of trading on Masonry, and not a few candidates for social position have first qualified themselves by joining a Lodge.

Some of our brethren have painful personal recollections of men of this class, who are all things to all men in the Lodge room, but who greet a brother when they meet him in the street with the cut direct.

The great man, who is seeking to make his way into society, forgets the humbler member of the fraternity when it is convenient to do so, and only wakes up to a general and cordial recognition of his Masonic associates when his personal interests are directly at stake. We do not hesitate to characterise men of this stamp as unworthy members of the Craft.

They may be eloquent advocates of the claims of the charities, but they have no heart in the cause, and merely display a fictitious activity to suit their own convenience .

An insincere professor is, indeed, a very unpleasant person, and it is gratifying to know that, although they are not uncommon, they are yet few and far between.

A man whose zeal for Masonry keeps time with his personal interests, who is constantly making his voice heard while he has private objects of his own in view, but who is silent the moment he has accomplished his purpose, deserves to be received, when he appears among his brethren, with withering contempt.

We have known Masons who were always ready with honied phrases, but who invariably forgot the homely adage that ” fair words butter no parsnips.” They were willing to patronise everything; our Schools, our Benevolent Institutions, anything, in fact, which might be converted into a Masonic ladder to lift them above the crowd.

But when this height was gained they could afford to ignore the Charities, could turn their back upon their toiling brethren, and were utterly oblivious of the fact that they were indebted to the Order for all their poor social distinctions.

The cynic who decries Masonry is sure to point to men of this stamp when he is seeking to drive his adverse arguments home.

He reminds us of the persons who have pushed themselves to the front by means of the fraternity, and concludes by asking us whether our professions of purity are not a mere sham; whether our Order is not, after all, a gigantic organisation, based on selfish interests, and trading upon sacred principles which deserve a better fate than to be thus perverted.

Our answer to these unfair innuendoes is clear enough.

We frankly admit that there are men in our midst who are grossly selfish, in spite of their professions of benevolence and charity, but we urge that they are rare exceptions.

We challenge denial when we assert that the Order, as a whole, is perfectly pure, that its devotion to charity and general benevolence is no mere sham, and that Masons as a body are true men, who have done, and are still doing, their best to make toleration, peace and goodwill universally current in the world .

The Freemasons Chronicle, a weekly record of masonic intelligence, was first published 2nd January 1875 London, England as an independent weekly journal of masonic interest and continued for 27 years.

 

It should be the business of a journal devoted to the interests of the Order to attempt the removal of prejudices such as these, which, though they may have little perceptible influence upon the prosperity of the Fraternity, yet have the effect of preventing timid or ill-informed persons from enlisting under its banner.

It will not only attempt to keep pace with the growing literary requirements of the day, but it will seek to exhibit the Order to the non-Masonic world divested of its technical details, and clothed in the garb of Charity and Brotherly Love.

The questions of the hour, which exercise the minds of thoughtful men, will be handled freely and broadly, without any tinge of political or sectarian bias.

The memoranda of Masonic gatherings which will appear from week to week, will be full and accurate; and as free interchange of opinion is one of the best signs of life and vigour in any society, ample scope will be given for Correspondence on topics of interest to the Order.

If we may venture upon a new rendering of words which recent events have made memorable, we will say here, once and for all, that we will be keen men of business, and will spare no effort, consistent with honour, to achieve commercial success; but first, and before all things, we will prove to our brethren and the world that we are FREEMASONS.

Recent Articles: The Freemason's Chronicle

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