Section. 6 - Reasons why the secrets of Masonry ought not to be publicly exposed;
and the importance of those secrets demonstrated.
If the secrets of Masonry are replete with such advantage to mankind, it
may be asked, why are they not divulged for the general good of society?
To this may be answered; Were the privileges of Masonry to be indiscriminately
dispensed, the institution would be subverted; and being familiar, like other
important matters, would lose their value, and sink into disregard.
Is is a weakness in human nature, that men are generally more charmed with
novelty, than with the intrinsic value of things. Innumerable testimonies
might be adduced to confirm this truth. The most wonderful operations of
the Divine Artificer, however, beautiful, magnificent and useful, are overlooked,
because common and familiar. The sun rises and sets, the sea flows and reflows,
rivers glide along their channels, trees and plants vegetate, men and beasts
act, yet this is unnoticed. The most astonishing productions of Nature on
the same account escape observation, and excite no emotion, either in admiration
of the great cause, or of gratitude for the blessing conferred. Even Virtue
herself is not exempted from this unhappy bias in the human frame. Novelty
influences all our actions and determinations. What is new, or difficult
in the acquisition, however, trifling or insignificant, readily captures
the imagination, and ensures a temporary admiration; while what is familiar,
or easily attained, however, noble or eminent, is sure to be disregarded
by the giddy and the unthinking.
Did the essence of masonry consist in the knowledge of particular secrets
or peculiar forms, it might be alleged that our amusements were trifling
and superficial. But this is not the case. These are the keys to our treasure
and having their use are preserved, while from the recollection of the lessons
they inculcate, the well informed Mason derives instruction; he draws them
to a near inspection; he views them through a proper medium; he adverts to
the circumference which gave them rise; and he dwells upon the tenets they
convey. Finding them replete with useful information, he prizes them as sacred;
and convinced of their propriety, he estimates their value from their utility.
Many persons are deluded by the vague supposition that our mysteries are
merely nominal; that the practices established among us are frivolous; and
that our ceremonies may be adopted, or waved, at pleasure. On this false
foundation, we find them hurrying through all the degrees of the Order, without
adverting to the propriety of one step they persue, or possessing a single
qualification requisite for advancement. Passing through the usual formalities,
they consider themselves entitled to rank as master of the art, solicit and
accept offices, and assume the government of lodges, equally and assume the
government of lodges, equally unacquainted with the rules of the institution
they pretend to support, or the nature of the trust reposed in them. The
consequences is obvious; anarchy and confusion ensue, and the substance is
left in shadow. Hence men eminent for ability, rank , and fortune, are often
led to view the honours of Masonry with such indifference, that when their
patronage is solicited, they accept offices with reluctance, or reject them
Masonry has long laboured under these disadvantages, and every zealous friend
to the Order must earnestly wish for a correction of the abuse. Of late years
it must be acknowledged, that Lodges are in general better regulated, and
the good effects of such government are sufficiently displayed in the proper
observance of the general regulations.
Were brethren who preside over Lodges, properly instructed previous to their
appointment, and regularly apprized of the importance of their respective
offices, a general reformation would speedily take place. This would establish
the propriety of our government, and lead men to acknowledge; that our hours
were deservedly conferred. Till prudent actions shall distinguish our title
to the honours of Masonry, and our regular deportment display the influence
and utility of our rules, the world in general will not be led to reconcile
our proceedings with the tenets of the profession.