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we may also hope to obtain a share in their praise.— This cannot possibly be done in a scene of disorder: pearls are never found but when the sea is calm; and silent water is generally deepest.
It has been long, and still is, the glory and happiness of this Society, to have its interest espoused by the Great, the Noble, and the Honoured of the land: persons who, after the example of the wisest and the grandest of kings, esteem it neither condescension nor dishonour to patronize and encourage the professors of the CraftIt is our duty, in return, to do nothing inconsistent with this favour; and, being Members of this body, it becomes us to act in some degree suitable to the honour we receive from our illustrious Head.
If this be done at our general meetings, every good and desirable end will the better be promoted among us. The Craft will have the advantage of being governed by good, wholsome, and dispassionate laws: the business of the Lodge will be smoothly and effectually carried on: your officers will communicate their sentiments, and receive your opinions and advice with pleasure and satisfaction: in a word, true Masonry will flourish; and those that are without will soon come to know that there are more substantial pleasures to be found, as well as greater advantages to be reaped, in our Society, orderly conducted, than can possibly be met with in any other bodies of men, how magnificent soever their pretensions may be. For none can be so amiable as that which promotes brotherly love, and fixes that as the grand cement of all our actions; to the performance of which we are bound by an obligation, both solemn and awful, and that entered into by our own free and deliberate choice , and, as it is to direct our lives and actions, it can never be too often repeated, nor too frequently inculcated.
WAS DELIVERED IN A LODGE OF FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS, IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE EXPULSION OF A MEMBER, WHO HAD BEEN REPEATEDLY, BUT IN VAIN, ADMONISHED FOR THE ILLIBERAL PRACTICE OF BACKBITING AND SLANDERING HIS BRETHREN.
As in all numerous bodies and societies of men, some unworthy will ever be found, it can be no wonder that, notwithstanding the excellent principles and valuable precepts laid down and inculcated by our venerable institution, we have such amongst us: men who, instead of being ornaments or useful members of our body, I am sorry to say, are a shame and disgrace to it!
These are sufficiently characterized by a natural propensity to backbite and slander their brethren; a vice truly detestable in all men, and more peculiarly so in Free-masons, who, by the regulations of their institution, are especially exhorted and enjoined "to speak as well of a brother when absent as present; to defend his honour and reputation wherever attacked, as far as truth and justice will permit: and where they cannot reasonably vindicate him, at least to refrain from contributing to condemn him."
But, alas! regardless of their duty in general, and of these laudable injunctions in particular, we fro
quently find such men assiduously employed in traducing the characters of their brethren; and instead of rejoicing at their good fortune, pitying their misfortune, and apologizing for their weaknesses and errors, envying their prosperity, and (unaffected by their adversity) with a secret and malicious pleasure, exploring and publishing their defects and failings; like trading vessels, they pass from place to place, receiving and discharging whatever Calumny they can procure from others, of invent themselves.
As we have just now had a mortifying instance of the necessary consequence of such base conduct, in the expulsion of one of our members, permit me to deliver to you some sentiments of the great Archbishop TilloU son on the subject. He assigns various causes of this evil, and also furnishes directions, which, if adhered to» will greatly contribute to prevent and remedy it.
"If we consider the causes of this evil practice, we shall find one of the most common is ill-nature; and, by a general mistake, ill-nature passeth for wit, as cunning doth for wisdom; though in truth they are as different as vice and virtue.
'' There is no greater evidence of the bad temper of mankind, than their proneness to evil-speaking. For, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaieth, and therefore we commonly incline to the censorious and
"Thb good spoken of others we easily forget, or seldom mention; but the evil lies uppermost in our memories, and is ready to be published upon all occasions; nay, what is more ill natured and unjust, though many times we do not believe it ourselves, we tell it to others, and venture it to be believed according to the charity of those to whom it is told.
"Another cause of the frequency of this vice is, That many are so bad themselves. For to think and speak ill of others is not only a bad thing, but a sign of a bad man. "When men are bad themselves, they are glad of any opportunity to censure others, and endeavour to bring things to a level; hoping it will be some justification of their own faults, if they can but make others appear equally guilty.
"A Third cause of evil-speaking is malice and re venge. When we are blinded by our passions, we do not consider what is true, but what is mischievous o" we care not whether the evil we speak be true or not; nay, many are so base as to invent and raise false reports, on purpose to blast the reputations of those by whom they think themselves injured.
"A Fourth cause of this vice is envy. Men look with an evil eye upon the good that is in others, and do what they can to discredit their commendable qualities; thinking their own character lessened by them, they greedily entertain, and industriously publish, what may raise themselves upon the ruins of other men's reputations.
M A Fifth cause of evil-speaking is impertinence and curiosity; an itch of talking of affairs which do not.