General Charge for New Masons


Brethren, such is the nature of our institution, that while some must of necessity
rule and teach, so others must of course learn to submit and obey. Humility in
both is an essential duty. The brethren elected and appointed to assist in the
government of this lodge are too well acquainted with the principles of
Freemasonry and the rules of propriety to exceed the power with which they are
entrusted, and you are of too generous a disposition to envy their preferment. I,
therefore, shall trust that we have but one aim, to please each other and unite in
the grand design of being happy and communicating happiness.
Masonry, my brethren, according to the general acceptance of the term, is an art,
founded on the principles of geometry and directed to the service and
convenience of mankind; but, Freemasonry, embracing a wider range, and
having a nobler object in view, namely the cultivation and improvement of the
human mind, may with more propriety be styled a science, inasmuch as availing
itself of the term of the former it inculcates principles of the purest morality,
though veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. To draw aside this veil,
therefore, or more properly speaking, to penetrate throughout it, is the object of
rulers in Freemasonry, and by a careful and appropriate attention to them, we
may hope, ultimately, to become acquainted with all its mysteries.
Freemasonry, from its origin to the present time, in all its vicissitudes, has been
the steady unvarying friend of man. It has (in the language of an eloquent
brother) gone forth from age to age, the constant messenger of peace and love;
never weary, never forgetful of its holy mission, patiently ministering to the relief
of want and sorrow, and scattering with unsparing hand blessings and benefits to
all around. It comforts the mourner, it speaks peace and consolation to the
troubled spirit, it carries relief and gladness to the habitations of want and
destitution, it dries the tears of the widow and the orphan, it opens the sources of
knowledge, it widens the sphere of human happiness, it even seeks to light up
the darkness and gloom of the grave by pointing to the hopes and promises of a
better life to come. All this Freemasonry has done, and is still doing. Such is
Freemasonry, and such its mission; and we should never forget, while enjoying
its benefits and appreciating its value, the duties we owe to the Order; for there is
no right without a parallel duty, no liberty without the supremacy of the law, no
high destiny without earnest perseverance and no real greatness without selfdenial.
A Freemason's Lodge is the temple of peace, harmony and brotherly love;
nothing is allowed to enter which has the remotest tendency to disturb the
quietude of its pursuits. A calm enquiry into the beauty of wisdom and virtue, and
the study of moral geometry, constitute the chief employments in the tyled
recesses of the lodge. The lessons of virtue which proceed from the east, like
rays of brilliant light from the rising sun, illumine the west and the south, and as
the work proceeds, are carefully imbibed by the workmen. Thus while wisdom
contrives the plan, strength lends its able support to the moral fabric, and beauty
adorns it with curious and cunning workmanship. All this is accomplished without
any compulsory or coercive means, but on the principle of friendship and
brotherly love, which guards the precincts of our temple that nothing may enter to
disturb the peaceful sanctity of that holy place.
The object, however, of meeting in the lodge is of a two-fold nature, namely
moral instruction and social intercourse. Our meetings are intended to cultivate
and enlighten the mind, to induce the habit of virtue and to strengthen the
fundamental principles of our order: Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. And if these
meetings are blended with social mirth, and a mutual interchange of fraternal
feelings, then Freemasonry will be shown in its true light, as an institution which
fosters and improves the best affections of our nature, and carries into active
operation the practice of the four cardinal virtues: Temperance, Fortitude,
Prudence and Justice, combined with the theological virtues: Faith, Hope and
Charity, thereby demonstrating to the world at large that in Freemasonry is to be
found the true import of the three great social treasures: Fraternity, Liberty and
Equality. Therefore the utmost extension of fraternal feeling and affections which
can exist between man and man is expected to be displayed amongst the
brethren in a Freemason's lodge, and then will be attained the chief point in
Freemasonry, namely, to endeavour to be happy ourselves, and to communicate
that happiness to others.
Before I conclude my brethren, let me portray to you the ideal of a Freemason.
If you see a man who quietly and modestly moves in the sphere of his life; who
without blemish fulfills his duties as a man, a subject, a husband and a father;
who is pious without hypocrisy, benevolent without ostentation, and who aids his
fellowman without self-interest; whose heart beats warm for friendship, whose
serene mind is open for licensed pleasures, who in vicissitudes does not despair,
nor in fortune will be presumptuous, and who will be resolute in the hour of
danger.
The man who is free from superstition and free from infidelity; who, in nature,
sees the finger of the Eternal Master; who feels and adores the higher
destination of man; to whom Faith, Hope and Charity are not mere words without
any meaning; to whom property, nay, even life, is not too dear for the protection
of innocence and virtue, and for the defense of truth.
The man who towards himself is a severe judge, but who is tolerant with the
debilities of his neighbour; who endeavors to oppose errors with arrogance, and
to propagate intelligence without precipitation, who properly understands to
estimate and employ his means; who honors virtue though it be in the most
humble garment, who does not favor vice though it be clothed in purple; and who
administers justice to merit whether dwelling in palaces or in cottages.
The man who, without courting applause, is loved by all noble-minded men,
respected by his superiors and revered by his subordinates; the man who never
proclaims what he has done, will do, can do, but where need is, will lay hold with
dispassionate courage, circumspect resolution, indefatigable exertion, and a rare
power of mind, and who will not cease until he has accomplished his work. but
who then, without pretension, will retire into the multitude, because he did the
good act, not for himself, but for the cause of good.
If you, my brethren, meet such a man, you will see the personification of brotherly
love, relief and truth; and you will have found the ideal of a Freemason.
Finally, my brethren, as our fraternity has been formed and maintained in perfect
unanimity and concord, in which we all greatly rejoice, so may it continue until
time shall be no more. May kindness and brotherly love distinguish your conduct
as men and as Masons. Within your peaceful walls may your children's children
celebrate with joy and gratitude the annual recurrence of this auspicious
solemnity. And may the genuine tenets of our time-honoured institution be
transmitted through your lodge, pure and unimpaired, from generation to
generation.