THE CRAFTSMAN - 1866
From an address by De Witt Clinton, before Holland Lodge, the
evening of his installation, Dec. 24, 1793
HIS DEFINITION OF FREEMASONRY.
It is well known that our Order was at first composed of scientific
and ingenious men who assembled to improve the arts and
sciences, and cultivate a pure and sublime system of morality.
Knowledge at that time, was restricted to a chosen few; but when
the invention of printing had opened the means of instruction to all
ranks of people, then the generous cultivators of Masonry
communicated with cheerfulness to the world those secrets of the
arts and sciences which had been transmitted and improved from
the foundation of the institutions then our Fraternity bent their
principal attention to the cultivation of morality. And Masonry
may now be defined as a moral institution, intended to promote
individual and social happiness.
THE EQUALITY OF MASONRY.
Our institution asserts, in language not to be misunderstood, the
natural equality of mankind. It declares that all brethren are upon a
level, and it throws open its hospitable doors to all men of all
nations. It admits of no rank, except the priority of merit, and its
only aristocracy is the nobility of virtue.
THE ONEROUS CARES OF THE MASTER.
Sensible I am that neither m age, experience nor abilities entitle me
to fill this place. Sensible I am that it is surrounded with
difficulties and embarassements; that it requires promptitude of
expression, quickness of thought and presence of mind, and that it
demands conciliatory manners and instantaneous perception of
character, and a considerable knowledge of mankind.
THE BENEFICENT WORK OF MASONRY.
How often has it showered down its golden gifts into the
seemingly inaccessible dungeons of misery! How often has it
radiated with its beneficent rays the glooms of affliction, and
converted its horrors of despair into the meridian splendor of
unexpected joy! How often has it, with its philanthropic voice,
recalled the unhappy wanderer into the paths of felicity, and with
its powerful arm, protected from the grasp of malice and
oppression the forlorn outcast of society! Let the widow, the
orphan, the prisoner, the debtor, the unfortunate, witness its
beneficent deeds, and in a symphony of gratitude, declare that on
the flight of all the other virtues, charity as well as hope remained
to bless mankind.
THE DUTIES OF A MASON TO HIS BROTHER.
A Mason is bound to consult the happiness and to promote the
interests of his brother; to avoid everything offensive to his
feelings; to abstain from reproach censure and unjust suspicions; to
warn him of tie machinations of his enemies; to advise him of his
errors; to advance the welfare and reputation of his family; to
protect the chastity of his house; to defend his life, his property,
and what is dearer to a roan of honor, his character, against unjust
attacks; to relieve his wants and his distress; to instill into his mind
proper ideas of conduct in the department of life which he is called
to fill; and, let me add, to foster his schemes of interest and
promotion, if compatible with the paramount duties a man owes to
the community. If such are the obligations which a man owes to
brother, they are precisely the duties that one freemason ought to
perform to another. Our Order enjoins them as rules from which
nothing can justify a deviation, and considers their infraction a
violation of honor; conscience and religion; a prostitution of all
that is deemed sacred and venerable among men. But Masonry
does not confine the benignity of her precepts to her followers; she
rises higher in the scale of excellence, and enjoins the observance
of honor, honesty and good faith to all men; she espouses the cause
of universal benevolence and virtue; she declares as unworthy of
her patronage those who violate the laws of rectitude, and her
votaries exemplify in their lives the truth of the remark that,
although there are vicious men in the fraternity, yet they are better,
than if they were not Masons.
THE RELIGION OF MASONRY.
As Christian Masons, acknowledging the divinity of Christ, we
have introduced the Bible into our Lodges, to manifest our belief in
the doctrines which it inculcates. In like manner the followers of
Moses, Mahomet and Burmah may introduce into their Masonic
assemblies their Pentateuch, their Alcoran, and their Vedan; and
yet the unity of Masonry would remain - the essential principles on
which she moves would be the same; she would still declare to her
votaries, I regard not to what sect you attach yourselves; venerate
the popular religion of your respective countries; follow the light
of your understanding; forget not, however, the doctrines of the
religion of nature; adore the Great Architect of the Universe,
acknowledge the immortal soul, and look forward to a state of
future retribution when the virtuous of all religions and countries
shall meet together, and enjoy never fading bliss.