Project Canterbury







ON ST. JOHN'S DAY, JUNE 24, 1811,







Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2008

Philadelphia, Monday,
24th June, A. D. 1811, A. L. 5811.

ON motion made and seconded,

Resolved, unanimously, that the Thanks of this R. W. Grand Lodge be presented to the R. W. Grand Master, for the elegant and appropriate Oration, by him this day delivered, in St. John's Church, before this Grand Lodge; and that he be respectfully requested to furnish a copy thereof for publication.

Extract from the Minutes.
GEORGE A. BAKER, Grand Secretary.

ST. JOHN'S DAY, JUNE 24th, 1811.

MONDAY the 24th June, instant, being the Anniversary of St. John the Baptist, was celebrated by the numerous and respectable Society of Ancient York Masons of this place, with unprecedented elegance and splendour. At 8 o'clock in the morning the Brethren of all the City Lodges,together with a considerable number belonging to other Lodges under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, and the Grand Lodges of our sister states, (amongst the latter of whom were the Grand Officers of New-Jersey and Maryland) assembled at the Old College in Fourth-street, where a Procession was formed, which proceeded to St. John's Church in Race-street, in the following order.

            TWO TRUMPETS.
            Tyler with drawn swords
            Industry Lodge, No. 131, in the following order, viz.
            Masters of Ceremonies, with drawn swords,
            Entered Apprentices, two and two,
            Fellow Crafts, two and two,
            Master Masons, two and two,
            Past Masters, two and two,
            Deacons with their wands, blue tipt with white,
            Secretary and Treasurer,
            Wardens of the Lodge, bearing their columns,
            Master of the Lodge, carrying his mallet,
            [4] On the flank of the Lodge, one of the members of the Lodge,
            acting as marshal of his own Lodge in the Procession,
            and bearing a blue wand tipt with silver.
            Phoenix Lodge, No. 130, in the same order.
            Temple Lodge, No. 128, in the same order.
            Philanthropy Lodge, No. 127, in the same order.
            Rising Star Lodge, No. 126, in the same order.
            Herman's Lodge, No. 125, (a German Lodge) in the same order.
            Union Lodge, No. 121, in the same order.
            St. John's Lodge, No. 115, in the same order.
            Solomon's Lodge, No. 114, in the same order.
            Columbia Lodge, No. 91, in the same order.
            Lodge Amenite, No. 73, (a French Lodge) in the same order.
            Philadelphia Lodge, No. 72, in the same order.
            Orange Lodge, No. 71, in the same order.
            Concordia Lodge, No. 67, in the same order.
            Washington Lodge, No. 59, in the same order.
            Harmony Lodge, No. 52, in the same order.
            Lodge No 51, in the same order.
            Lodge No. 19, in the same order.
            Lodge No. 9, in the same order.
            Lodge No. 3, in the same order.
            Lodge No. 2, in the same order.
            The above are the Lodges held in the City; Lodges from the
            country joined in the Procession, according to juniority.
            After the senior Lodge, the Brethren, not united by membership to any Lodge,
            and also the Brethren, members of Lodges under other jurisdictions, two and two.
            Music, composed of two military bands.
            Grand Lodge in the following order, viz,
            Grand Tyler, with drawn Sword,
            Members of the building Committee, carrying the key of the New Hall,
            Banner of Free Mason's arms, borne by a Past Master,
            Twelve Past Masters, two and two, bearing white wands,
            Architect, carrying the square, level, and plumb rule, with the book of Architecture,
            [5] Trustees of the Masonic Loan, two and two,
            Four Past Masters, carrying the Lodge covered with white Sattin,
            Two Past Masters, carrying golden pitchers, containing oil and wine,
            A past Master, carrying a golden cornucopiae, containing corn,
            The Third Light, borne by a Past Master,
            Past Grand Wardens,
            The Second Light, borne by a Past Master,
            Past Deputy Grand Masters,
            The First Light, borne by a Past Master,
            Past Grand Masters,
            A Past Master, carrying the Holy Bible, square and compass, on a crimson velvet
            cushion, supported by two Past Masters, Grand Chaplains,
            Deputy Grand Secretary, carrying the Book of Minutes,
            Grand Secretary, carrying the bag and book of constitutions, and
            Grand Treasurer carrying his Staff,
            Grand Wardens, bearing their columns,
            Grand Officers of our sister Grand Lodges,
            Deputy Grand Master,
            Grand Sword Bearer, carrying the Sword of state, and
            Past Master carrying the golden mallet,
            GRAND MASTER,
            Two Grand Deacons with wands, silvered, and tipt with gold,
            Grand Pursuivant, with drawn Sword,
            Two Marshals, on Horseback, on the Flanks of the Procession,
            superintended the Marshals of the subordinate Lodges
            and the whole line of the Procession, carrying Blue Truncheons, tipt with gold.

The front of the procession having arrived at the church, the Brethren halted, faced inwards and opened their ranks. The Grand Lodge with the R. W. Grand Master at their head, moved forward through the ranks, the Brethren uncovered as the Grand Lodge passed them, closed their ranks from the rear, and followed the Grand Lodge into the Church, where an Oration, adapted to the occasion, was delivered by the R. W. Grand Master, accompanied with Prayers, Thanksgiving and Solemn Music, in the following order, to wit:

[6] On the entrance of the Procession, VOLUNTARY on the organ,
by Brother R. Taylor.

Written by Brother John Nesbit, P. M. of Lodge No. 126,
composed by Brother R. Taylor.


RAISE, raise the choral strain,
To hail the noble train,
Of Masons bright;
Lo! where the social band!
Honoured with high command,
Still firm in Wisdom stand,
Hail Chiefs of Light!


By the Reverend Brother George Richards, Grand Chaplain.

Composed by Brother R. Taylor.


Supreme Grand Master! most sublime!
High thron'd in glory's radiant clime;
Behold thy sons on bended knee,
Conven'd, O God! to worship Thee!

And as 'tis Thine, with open ear,
The suppliant voice of Prayer to hear,
Grant thou, O Lord! this one request,
Let Masons be, in blessing, blest.

O give the Craft, from pole to pole,
The feeling heart, the pitying soul,
The gen'rous breast, the lib'ral hand,
Compassion's balm, and Mercy's band.

[7] With Charity that pours around,
The wine and oil, on Mis'ry's wound;
And heals the Widow's, Orphan's heart,
Deep pierc'd by Sorrow's venom'd dart.

Then to thy throne, the Craft shall raise 
One deathless song of grateful praise;
And Masons, men, in chorus join,
To hymn the pow'r of Love divine.

That Love supreme, thy Love, O God!
Which Heav'n itself shall pour abroad:
Till Light, Life, Peace, adorn the vale,
And Angels, men, pronounce—all hail!


By Brother James Milnor, Esq. R. W. Grand Master

Written by brother Joseph Clay, P. M. No. 3,
composed by Brother Carr, sung by Brother Nesbit.


Before revolving years began,
The whole Creation's glorious plan,
Almighty wisdom laid;
But, till the appointed time should pass,
A void, deform'd, chaotic mass,
The Universe was made.

Nor yet had dawn'd the sacred light,
But o'er the world, primeval night
Held undivided sway:
"Let there be light," the ALMIGHTY spoke—
As the first beam through Chaos broke,
HE bless'd the heavenly ray.

Then starting from Confusion's bed,
Young Order heav'd his beauteous head,
And the first Day-Spring hail'd:
[8] 'Twas then the rosy Hours were born,
That blushing, led the orient Morn,
And Nature's face unveil'd.

Then, first, the teeming Earth appear'd;
Then, first, the heavenly Vault was rear'd,
And fill'd with Glory's blaze;
On high the Ruling Lights were hung,
While Angel to Archangel sung,

His Wisdom saw that all was good;
Beauty with Strength united stood,
In Harmony combin'd.
The gloomy reign of Night was o'er,
Hoarse Discord's voice was heard no more,
Disorder stood confin'd.

'Twas thus, the Human Race remain'd
In hopeless bonds, by Passion chain'd,
To Ignorance and Guilt;
Till, after many a rolling age,
The HOLY TEMPLE built.

Then intellectual darkness ceas'd—
Majestic, in the kindling East,
The Sun of Masons shone;
Thence to the West the Light he shed;
To us the bright effulgence spread,
To Masons only known.

THOU, who did'st into being call,
Yon rolling orbs, this earthly ball,
Thou bad'st THY LIGHT to shine:
For THIS—for ALL thy Mercies LORD!
But chiefly for thy HOLY WORD,
Eternal praise be thine.


By the Rev. Brothel Doctor William Rogers, Grand Chaplain.


1. Lo, what an entertaining sight
Are brethren that agree;
Brethren, whose cheerful hearts unite
In bands of piety!

3. 'Tis like the oil, divinely sweet,
On Aaron's rev'rend head:
The trickling drops perfum'd his feet,
And o'er his garments spread.

4. 'Tis pleasant as the morning dews
That fall on Zion's hill,
Where God his mildest glory shews,
And makes his grace distil.

By the Rev. Brother Dr. Rogers,

The Society were honoured with the attendance at the Church of the Honourable Judges of the several Courts, the Attorney General of the State, the Mayor, Recorder, and Aldermen of the city, the Reverend Clergy of various denominations, and the Directors of the Academy of the Fine Arts, together with many other respectable characters, and a brilliant assemblage of Ladies.

After the services were concluded, the procession was again taken up in the same order, and proceeded from the Church, along the South side of Race to Fourth-street, along the East side of Fourth to Arch-street, along the South side of Arch to Third-street, along the East side of Third to Chesnut-street, and along the South side of Chesnut-street to the New Hall. The front of the procession having arrived at the New Hall, the Brethren halted, faced inwards and opened their ranks as before. The members of the Building Committee, carrying the Key, [9/10] moved on to the front door of the New Hall, unlocked and opened the same on the approach of the R. W. Grand Master. The R. W. Grand Master, preceded by the Grand Banner Bearer, Grand Pursuivant, and Grand Deacons, followed in the first place by the Grand Lodge, in the second place by all the Masters of the Lodges (who left their Lodges as the Grand Lodge passed by them, and fell in immediately after the Grand Lodge according to seniority,) and in the third place, by the remainder of the procession, closing from the rear, thereupon entered the New Hall, in ancient and solemn form.

On the Grand Master's reaching Solomon's Chair, the officers and members took their seats. The Lodge was then placed in the centre of the Hall, and the three lights, with the Golden Cornucopiae, and Pitchers, containing Wine and Oil, were placed thereon. The Bible, Square, and Compasses, on a crimson velvet cushion, were placed on the Grand Master's Pedestal, and the Grand Lodge was tyled.

The Lodge was then uncovered, and Grand Lodge opened in ample form, when an impressive. prayer was offered up by the Rev. Brother William Rogers, D. D. one of the Grand Chaplains.

The Grand Secretary intimated to the R. W. Grand Master, the architect's desire to return the implements entrusted to his care in the erecting of the Hall; whereupon Brother Darrah, the architect, addressed the Grand Master, who expressed his high satisfaction at the completion of the Hall, and commanded the Grand Wardens to receive back the implements, which was complied with, and they were laid on the Lodge.

The Grand Secretary then informed the Grand Master, that it was the desire of the Brethren, to have the Hall Dedicated to the GRAND ARCHITECT OF THE UNIVERSE AND MASONRY.The Grand Master thereupon commanded his Grand Officers, and requested the favour of the R. W. Grand Masters of the R. W. Grand Lodges of New Jersey, and Maryland, and of his Venerable Predecessors the R. W. Past Grand Masters of Pennsylvania to assist in that solemn ceremony.


Was then offered up by the Rev. Brother George Richards, D. D. one of the Grand Chaplains.

The Grand Officers then made a procession round the Lodge three different times, at the end of which the Grand Master strewing CORN over the lodge, declared in solemn form, the Hall dedicated TO THE GRAND ARCHITECT OF THE UNIVERSE, and to MASONRY, which being proclaimed by the Grand Secretary, the Grand Honours were given. The Grand Officers again made a procession round the Lodge three different times, at the end of which the Grand Master pouring WINE over the Lodge, declared in solemn form, the Hall dedicated TO VIRTUE AND SCIENCE, which being proclaimed by the Grand Secretary, the Grand Honours were given as before. The Grand Officers again made a procession round the Lodge three different times, at the end of which the Grand Master pouring OIL on the Lodge in solemn form, declared the Hall dedicated TO UNIVERSAL CHARITY AND BENEVOLENCE, which being proclaimed by the Grand Secretary, the Grand Honours were given as before.



Was then offered up by the Rev. Brother Richards, and the Grand Master returned to Solomon's Chair.

The Thanks of the Grand Lodge were unanimously voted to the Building Committee, for their care and attention in superintending the erection of the Hall:—to the R. W. the Grand Officers of the Grand Lodges of New-Jersey, and Maryland, for their assistance in the ceremonies of the day:—to the Committee of arrangement, and the Committee which attended at the Church, for the services by them rendered:—to the Trustees of St. John's Church for the use of their Church obligingly granted to the Grand Lodge:—to the Ladies and Gentlemen composing the Choir, and to all who assisted in the vocal and instrumental performances at Church:—and also, to the Gentlemen composing the Musical Bands, attached to Captains Fotterall's and [11/12] Rush's Companies for the services by them gratuitously rendered.

The Grand Lodge was then closed, and the Brethren repaired to the various places of refreshment previously arranged.

The Grand Lodge with the Grand Officers of New-Jersey and Maryland, a number of other respectable visitors, and about two hundred of the Brethren sat down at five o'clock in the afternoon, to a banquet provided in the New Hall, and at half-past eight o'clock in the evening, the company separated in the utmost harmony and good order.

The impressive solemnities of the day were interrupted by no unpleasant occurrence. As large a concourse of spectators as were ever assembled on a public occasion, conducted themselves with the greatest propriety and decorum, and the display made by the Craft (about eight hundred in number) far excelled in beauty and order, any former exhibition of a similar kind.


The connexion of the institution of Free Masonry with the mechanic arts, and more particularly with that of architecture, has frequently occasioned the agency of its members to be solicited, in the conduct of ceremonials used at the commencement and completion of public structures. In Europe, much of the pomp and solemnity exhibited on such occasions, has been derived from this society, which has always manifested a becoming promptitude and zeal, as well in the encouragement of works of art calculated to embellish the places of their erection, as of the scientific, moral, religious or beneficent objects of the institutions, to which they appertain.

The solemn dedication of their own lodges, it has immemorially been the usage of masons, to accompany with the most impressive evidences of the serious and instructive nature of their institution. Public exhibitions of the badges and implements of their order, neither are, nor ought to be eagerly sought; but it has been conceived due to the interesting event of a successful completion of a great and arduous undertaking, [13/14] that none of the accustomed rites of our ancient and honourable society should on this occasion be neglected.

The determination of the Grand Lodge has been followed by one painful circumstance to him, who has now the honour of addressing this respectable and crowded audience. He has been constrained by his official station and the solicitations of the brethren, to assume a duty of a novel and embarrassing nature, from which, had obedience and respect permitted, he would gladly have retired. On the united indulgence of his brethren and his fellow citizens he depends, for a favourable reception of a few unadorned reflections, and imperfect elucidations, of the antiquity, nature, and design of the oldest institution at this time existing in the known world, followed by a few counsels to our members, arising out of the subject, and the auspicious solemnities of the day.

On the point of our antiquity, there is no division of sentiment, either amongst the members of our fraternity, or others who have been at the pains of investigating the subject. Some, however, would carry back our annals not only to the remote ages of the world, but to the origin of the world itself; in which respect they are only so far incorrect, as to claim for the ceremonials of the masonic system, an antiquity which belongs more certainly to the principles on which it is founded.

Those principles have their unquestioned source in the pure and immaculate mind of the Almighty Architect; and his beneficence to the human race in their implantation in the mind of man, is forever a subject of humble gratitude in the mind of every faithful Mason. [14/15] To this divine fountain of light and knowledge, were the first framers of our inestimable order indebted, for the means of so settling its foundations, and raising its goodly superstructure, as to render it impregnable to every attack hostile or insidious, that has ever been aimed at its existence. While, however, we do not claim for the order, in a form similar to what we see it now assume, a birth coeval with creation; yet its rudiments are to be found in the earliest efforts of mankind in the art of building, and more particularly in some of those stupendous monuments of art, which sacred history informs us occupied the industry of man in the first ages of the world. Operative masonry preceded that which we term spiritual, or sometimes, though incorrectly, speculative. Associations in the labours of a handicraft occupation, produced an intimate union of its followers in the interests connected with their pursuits in life. These led to an extension of the objects of their union, beyond the views of those with whom it commenced. The narrow limits of a contracted professional intercourse were soon disregarded. Members of the other mechanical branches of human industry were admitted into fellowship, the ties of mutual friendship were strengthened, and the general interests of architecture and the other useful arts were advanced by a combination of all the talents and exertions of their numerous professors. A yet more 1iberal extension of the benefits of this social fraternity at length succeeded. The institution no longer excluded from its meetings, the votaries of science, the teachers of religion, the cultivators of philosophy. Under the disposing hand of Providence, a measure, at first of [15/16] apparently the most confined tendency, eventuated in the establishment of a confederacy of the wise and good of all nations; engaged them in the most laudable objects of emulation, without distinction of sect or name; and gave promise of a duration to this work as permanent as the globe itself.

I do not contemplate a profound investigation of the various circumstances attending the formation and progress of this magnificent plan. Many of them, like other remote historical transactions, lie buried in the gloom of obscurity; some are illumined by a doubtful light; and others can only be commented upon within the hallowed walls of the lodge itself. One fact, however, is handed down to us by evidence which we deem indisputable. It is our well grounded boast, that although Masonry did not originate with, yet is it indebted to Solomon, the wisest of men, for some of its most essential embellishments, and characteristic securities against decay.

From the days in which he was engaged, in complying with the high behests of Almighty wisdom, by the erection of a sublime temple, to the glory of the King of Universal Nature, exhibiting a display of unrivalled taste and skill in architectural grandeur and magnificence, a faithful tradition has transmitted to us imperishable memorials of his assiduity in the promotion of the royal art. Through a long line of distinguished professors, the utmost reverence has been maintained for this dignified and renowned Grand Master, whose superior wisdom, as evinced by the sacred records, is with us still further established, by the permanent advantages secured by him to the [16/17] indestructible fabric of the Lodge. His temple, the product of so much wisdom and labour, has in the fulfilment of divine volition fallen into ruins. Reared a second time, it has long since been overtaken by destruction; but the Temple of Masonry still endures. It has withstood the waste of ages, and continues to look without the indulgence of a single fear for its own safety, at the gradual decline, or more rapid overthrow, of the various other monuments of man's wisdom and industry, from time to time laid prostrate around it.

Shall we be considered as vainglorious, when we insist, that strong antidotes against the fell destroyer, to which other associations have fallen victims, are possessed by the votaries of this august edifice, or will we be accused of presumption, in considering it as singularly protected by the guardianship of that Omniscient Providence, without whose divine permission not even a sparrow falls.

It would be a matter of interest and amusement, to deduce the history of Masonry from the times already spoken of, through a succession of after ages; to point out its extensive ramifications through the different parts of the civilized world; to exhibit the manner in which its useful purposes have been accomplished, under all the disparities and contentions of nations, sects and parties; to evince its powerful influence at various times in softening the passions of men; in assuaging the horrors of war; and in rescuing the helpless sons of poverty and misfortune, from the miseries of sickness and distress. A still more lively feeling of interest and pleasure would be created, by confining our view to the land of our forefathers, from which our original authority [17/18] for carrying on the work of the craft was derived, and with whom, as an independent body, we continue to maintain the most amicable intercourse.

There we should witness its existence under the dominion of a Caesar; its subsequent propagation by the celebrated St. Alban, who died a martyr to the Christian faith; its zealous protection by the enlightened Alfred and his grandson Athelstan; the personal superintendence of the craft by king Edwin, by whom the first grand constitution at York was framed; its subsequent patronage by successive sovereigns, and ardent pursuit by men whose names are an honour to the page of history, and whose talents and virtues were the boast of the times in which they lived. Would time permit to take such a view, we should see, on the one hand, the splendours of royalty and nobility encircling the first offices of the institution, while on the other, we would perceive their effulgence dimmed by the brighter rays of Genius and Science, emitted by a Locke and many other shining and distinguished luminaries, whose corruscations have in various times illumined the inner vail of the temple.

The transition to our own hemisphere would be still more exhilarating; because the sentiments of patriotism would be added to the love of the craft, and our feelings, both as citizens and masons, would be gratified by dwelling on a host of American worthies, whose memories are endeared to us, by a recollection of their merits in the field and in the cabinet; men who evinced a successful union of sublime and undeviating attachment to the liberties and happiness of their country, with a sedulous attention to all the duties arising out of their relation to the craft.

[19] Averse as is the genius of our order from scenes of war and carnage, we should see her accompanying the patriot soldiers of our revolution to the ensanguined field of battle. Her gentle accents persuading to deeds of humanity were heard amid the din of arms and the clangour of the loud swelling trumpet. The leaders of our armies performed the duties of the Lodge in the midst of the hurrying engagements of the camp. Congenial minds found gratification in the exchanges of fraternal confidence. Relief was ever ready for a brother's wants, and even a yielding enemy found succour, not forbidden by the laws of war, in a recognizing brother's arms.

In one of the memorable occurrences of those eventful times, the warrant of a British Military Lodge fell into the hands of the American army. The generosity of a patriot and a mason instantly restored it, accompanied by a letter of the following import.

"When the ambition of monarchs or the jarring interests of contending states call forth their subjects to war; as masons, we are disarmed of that resentment, which stimulates to undistinguished desolation, and however our political sentiments may impel us in the public dispute, we are still brethren, and (our professional duty apart) ought to promote the happiness, and advance the weal of each other. Accept, therefore, at the hands of a brother, the constitution of the "Lodge Unity, No. 18," held in the seventeenth British regiment, which your late misfortunes have put in my power to restore to you."

Our valued countryman and brother, general Parsons, tarnished none of his laurels by this fraternal and gentlemanly action.

[20] If, after carrying back our grateful recollections to the times just referred to, we had leisure to proceed to the enumeration of our eminent American brethren, first on the bright roll of Masonic fame would stand forth, in majestic preeminence, our glorious WASHINGTON. Ah! lamented brother! For we dare to greet thy memory by that endearing appellation, thou knewest how to value the association which thy engaging presence so often graced. Dazzled not with the gewgaws of titles and distinctions, thy consummate wisdom could rightly appreciate the honours of the Lodge. The recorded evidences of thy warm attachment to the brethren, they will treasure as the jewels of their order; the precepts thou hast left them, will remain engraven on the tablets of their hearts; and thy sainted memory shall live forever, in the bosoms of the faithful and upright.

The venerable sage, whose philosophic mind held converse with the heavenly bodies, while the best affections of his heart were engaged in the promotion of the welfare of mankind, would conspicuously shine as one of the great lights of our temple. The illustrious FRANKLIN, added to his other merits, an unremitted attention to the requirements of masonry, and in the exercise of the highest offices of the craft, zealously inculcated its inestimable benefits.

The bold defender of the liberties of America, the brave, the unfortunate WARREN, who met his resistless fate at the dawn of his country's independence, was ranked as a distinguished Grand Master of this society. The gratitude of his brethren has rescued his remains from the obscurity of an unmonumented [20/21] grave. They have erected to his memory an evidence of their love, just to the virtues of his character, and honourable to themselves.

How long shall it be told, to the disgrace of a great and flourishing people, indebted under God, in a great degree, for their happiness and prosperity to the unparalleled efforts of our lamented WASHINGTON, that though he sacrificed domestic comfort and tranquillity and all his best enjoyments to acquire for them freedom and independence, with listless indifference, they can let his dear remains moulder in the private tomb of his family, without one solitary public evidence of a nation's gratitude and love!

Pardon this digression my friends. This is no place, nor is it my proud aim to wake a slumbering people’s ear by my accusing voice; but I have a right to say to you, my brethren of the fraternity, to whom he was so affectionately allied, that although you may not be able to raise imposing columns, and soaring monumental trophies, worthy of his exalted merits, yet does the sweet and animating hope warm this breast, that the example of your eastern brethren, will not be disregarded. They have honoured themselves in honouring the manes of the gallant WARREN. Is the moment far distant, when you shall achieve a greater object, in being the earliest to testify your love to the man "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen," to which we may add, preeminently first, in the affections of his bereaved brethren?

We have not time to finish the catalogue of deceased heroes and patriots, whose names adorn the records of [21/22] Masonry in our land, nor will we detain you by pointing you to the pillars, by which the august dome of the Masonic edifice is now sustained throughout the United States. Let us employ a few moments in pursuing our cursory review of the nature and design of a society which has in so extraordinary a manner, engaged the affections of many of the wisest and best men in all ages of the World.

I have adverted to the manner in which this society first took its rise. It grew out of apparently obvious causes. The principle of association is grounded in the nature of man. From his origin, solitude has been averse from his inclinations and his habits. In the society of his fellow man alone, he finds an opportunity for the exercise of the best qualities with which he has been endowed by his Creator; and he is therefore prompted to seek it by motives, that have only yielded in some unhappy instances to the bias of misanthropy or the errors of superstition.

Frequently, however, the indulgence of this natural and commendable propensity, has been alloyed by many inconveniences. Mischievous objects in their framers, the use of bad means for the attainment of laudable ends, the perversion of the original design of their formation, contracted principles of exclusion, on the score of a want of perfect coincidence with settled creeds and opinions, and an illiberal want of regard to the fair and honest sentiments of others, have given a short lived existence to many an undertaking in spite of every boasted attempt at the enlistment of popular feeling in its favour.

[23] It is not meant to condemn the union of individuals for purposes of a less general kind. Limited as are the objects of many of these connexions, they are in themselves useful, and are the links by which the great chain of human society is united and maintained. But Masonry does not arrogate too much, when she professes to combine all the advantages and to avoid many of the evils, to which establishments of a more confined nature are exposed. Her arms encircle the habitable globe. She disdains proselytism, but she opens the portals of her sacred asylum, to all who seek admission, with the recommendation of a character unspotted by immorality and vice. Leaving to the great searcher of hearts the awful charge of trying the consciences of men, she enquires not whether the candidate for her favours be of Paul or Apollos or Cephas. She requires only his assent to those great principles of unerring truth, those infallible doctrines for the government of life, which are written by the finger of God on the heart of man. Let not however, this liberal acknowledgment be misunderstood, so as to subject us to mistaken censure and reproach. Imagine not that Christian Masons are insensible to the blessings of the divine system, which the Saviour of Men has propounded, for the exercise of their faith, and the regulation of their lives. Their solemn rites, the sanctions of their Masonic fidelity, the orisons which they unite in addressing to the Supreme Grand Master of the Universe, have all a reference to, and dependence upon the inestimable volumes of revelation, by which the precepts of natural religion are so intelligibly explained and so awfully enforced. The universality of our great scheme embraces the benevolent and good [23/24] wherever they are found; but greatly must its objects be perverted, when in a Christian land, it becomes the encourager of scepticism and infidelity. Such however, as been the accusation of a Barruel, and a Robison. Their motives and their learning we can duly appreciate, but we solemnly believe, they have cast an imputation upon our society, which it does not merit. The evidences of our belief on this head, we cannot in this place fully detail. Suffice it to observe, that to all Masons, the facts relied on by these writers, are the best evidence of the falsehood of the charge. They know that the very forms pursued, as it is said, in the orgies of those midnight conspirators against the peace of society, no less than the diabolical views of their association, belong not to the practice of legitimate masonry, are incapable of admixture with it. In the too general depravation of morals, prevalent throughout the European world, which has convulsed it to its centre, that some individuals, honoured with the badges of our order, have so far disgraced them as to lend their aid in the work of destruction, is more than probable; that sacrilegious profanations and perversions of some of our rites, may by such have been attempted is also possible; but that the regularly constituted Lodges of Masons have engaged in these nefarious schemes, will only be believed by the prejudiced and uncandid.

The equality recognized in our assemblies, is of a more rational kind than to invite to visionary schemes for levelling the distinctions established in society, or depriving those of honors, on whom the community has thought to fit to bestow them. To excel in virtue and in a knowledge of the Royal art, are the recommendations, [24/25] which, without regard to his condition as to rank or property, should alone entitle to the honours of the Lodge. But it would be derogatory to the character of Masonry, were it for a moment to be considered as depriving any of its members of the respect due to their various stations in life. It would indirectly at least, infringe upon a settled rule of our order to which the preceding observations naturally lead. For next to reverence towards the Supreme Being, and respect for the religion of his country, the most early and important lesson impressed upon the mind of a mason, is submission to its government and laws. As the contensions of theological discussion are banished from our meetings, so are all the distractions of political strife. As men, we cleave to that religious faith, which our reason and conscience enjoin. As citizens, we adhere to those political principles and pursuits, which our best judgments have adopted. The ever varying opinions of mankind on these subjects, will never be reconciled. Masonry does not attempt it but she invites her votaries to the indulgence of mutual candour and forbearance. She restricts not the independent enjoyment and exercise of civil and religious privileges, as personal predilection or our several stations in the community require, but she sedulously tyles the doors of her hallowed sanctuary, against the intrusion of every thing calculated to disturb the unruffled peace and harmony of its transactions. The strong wall of partition erected by our great Master Builders, between the mild and peaceful employments of this abode of charity and love, and the discord and contentions which agitate and distract the world, has hitherto stood firm and immoveable. [25/26] The towers of strength, which surmount its elevated height, are our sure defence against external force. The truth and honour of virtuous and upright minds, are our internal security against all attempts, to overthrow or weaken the grand bulwarks of our confidence and safety.

The remarks already made, are sufficient to show the evils, against whose introduction the Lodge is on its guard. But many an inquisitive mind has already within itself, proposed the question. If thus you exclude the favourite topics of the day; if the amiable aspect of religion is not permitted to be seared among you, by vain attempts to make her such, as each one's fancy would desire; if the modes and forms of civil government, and the political conduct of rulers, claim none of your attention; if even the alluring occupation of personal scandal be banished from your meetings, how do you amuse the passing hour? What are the employments that thus fasten on the affections of your members, and continue, in prosperous succession, your multiplied associations through the world?

The inquiry cannot be fully answered in this place. A mystic veil of secrecy enshrouds the Lodge, which no effort of man dare attempt to rend. The bond of our union is sealed with those impressive and irrevocable sanctions, whose force no lapse of time, no occurring circumstance can ever destroy. The laboured attempts of curiosity to gain an unwarrantable knowledge of the mysteries of Masonry, have never yet been partially successful. An acquaintance with the craft, through the proper medium of access, has satisfied many an incredulous noviciate, how impracticable is every exertion [26/27] to become possessed of the benefits of the institution, in any other way, than that which immemorial usage has prescribed. But although, the mysterious operations of the interior of our temple, are thus concealed from the uninitiated, we are at liberty to reiterate the declaration, that they involve not the most indirect infraction of the laws of God, or of our country; that they strengthen, not impair, all our obligations and duties towards the Supreme Being, our families, the community in which we live, and the world of mankind.

The assurance just advanced produces another inquiry. If our employments be thus innocent, why invest them with an impenetrable cloud of obscurity and concealment? It is our means of security against the sure destruction, that has awaited all the other establishments of man; the most important pledge for the continuance of our usefulness.

Communicated to all, the value of our mysteries would be mistakenly appreciated by many, and strange as the assertion may seem, it would really diminish, while it seemed to enlarge our sphere of practical benevolence. The commonness of the good, however estimable, would rob it of its attraction. The force of individual motive would be destroyed; and instead of those peculiar incentives, that now so powerfully influence the feelings of Masons, in favour of each other,all would be confounded and lost in the ever fluctuating opinions, and fashions, and follies of the world. The universal language by which Brother now recognizes Brother, whatever clime may have given him birth, must cease to exist. The privacy of our appeals to the humanity of each other, now attended with no prostration [27/28] of personal feeling or manly sentiment, must also vanish, and an invidious crowd must witness alms solicited with timidity, and bestowed with reluctance, as of favour, not of right. Our distressed and unfortunate brethren, if not irreclaimably vicious, under the present admirable constitutions of our order, have little occasion for the language of solicitation. Their connexion with the fraternity entitles to claim, were it necessary, what it is our happiness in general to see spontaneously afforded.

This is an office of the Lodge, that I may speak of as its most delicious employment. Its exercise is the means of greater personal delight, than all the other engagements of the craft combined.

Oh! Charity! Thou first of Christian graces! How resplendent is thy lustre in the bosom of the Lodge! Here let the faithful suffering brother divulge his misfortunes and his wrongs. No matter though a frowning world has crushed him to the dust. No matter though unpitying friends have passed him heedless by—here shall he find a balsam for his wounds, a cordial to assuage the sufferings of an agonized mind.

The godlike offices of Charity amongst Masons know not intermission. Within the enclosures of the Masonic temple, she is ever present, prompting her obedient votaries to deeds of kindness and of love. She wipes the tears from Sorrow's weeping eye, restores the fading blush of Health to the wo-worn cheek, and gives the welcome of Friendship to the wandering child of Poverty and Distress. Does she hear the faint whisper of complaint, the distant wailings of misery and wo? At her bidding, the messengers of consolation and relief fly forth with winged speed. Ah! widowed [28/29] mourner! Ah! fatherless victim of wretchedness and want! you are ready to attest the alacrity and sufficiency of the relief afforded by your husband's—by your father's friends. You bless the hour, which bestowed on him the franchise of the Lodge. It was in the days of his prosperity; before the billows of adverse fortune were even seen rolling at a distance; ere one cloud of fearful apprehension had risen into view. He joined the band of brethren, to become the minister of good to others. Little did he foresee this unlooked for reverse, which has made the bounty he intended to relieve the wants of strangers, the means of rescuing his own innocent helpless family from the depths of wretchedness and despair. If his ascended spirit possesses a knowledge of this world's doings, how will it exult in a view of the grateful services, to which a recollection of his virtues is now inciting his associates and friends; of the peaceful asylum which he has unconsciously prepared for the loved objects of his heart's affections!

The dispensation of relief by this Society, is qualified by but one restriction, while the sphere of its extension is most benevolently enlarged, by disregarding several to which common charities are subjected. The indiscriminate lavisher of pecuniary grants, is often unactuated by generosity of feeling, or the desire of doing good. He throws away his money, with equal indifference and folly, upon suffering merit or upon the worthless and undeserving; because inquiry into the justice of the petition, would intrude upon his leisure, or the lamentations of misery are unwelcome to his ears. His carelessness makes him often the minister of vice, the prompter of dissipation, the encourager of the profligate in his downward course, to ruin and destruction. [29/30] His motive, if he has any, will scarcely apologize for the crime of adding fuel to the flame which is consuming the wretched slave of intemperance and excess. Not so the Lodge. While her rules prescribe a patient hearing to the tale of sorrow, she applies a guard against the impositions of affected grief. While she anticipates with anxious solicitude the complaints of meritorious poverty, she refuses to administer to the lusts and passions of men. Not meanly fastidious, not unkindly slow and dilatory, not anxiously seeking an excuse for withholding the required boon, she, nevertheless, by her regular and well known plan of inquiry prevents the treasury of the virtuous and good, from being wasted upon the idle and the wicked. She thus proposes a new incentive to the increase of her fund of beneficence by the certainty of its being suitably and worthily applied. She affords no reason for the dissolute and vile to pursue their course, under the degrading expectation, that when their resources are exhausted, they may find necessities of their own creation, relieved by means laid up only for the pitiable sufferings of the children of misfortune. Thus far the restriction of Masonic Charity.

In other respects, the benefactions of the Lodge are extended beyond the usual limit. Pecuniary grants are but one means of administering to the wants of the distressed. An upholding hand, a friendly word of admonition, a soothing encouragement of drooping spirits, a right direction to dispositions for application and industry, the formation of plans of useful employment, and assisting in their accomplishment, these often prove more really useful than largesses of money. Masonry inculcates upon every distributor of her bounties, to be [30/31] singularly attentive in appropriately dispensing these grateful services. Many a delicate and ingenuous mind has been rendered happy by them, that would have revolted at the idea of asking or receiving pecuniary bounty.

Neither do the principles of our society, allow the corn of nourishment, the wine of refreshment and the oil of joy, to be withheld from the sufferings of humanity wheresoever they exist. They enjoin the most expansive benevolence. While they make the anguish of a suffering brother and his afflicted family, the especial objects of regard, they teach us not to let our attention or assistance be denied to the afflictions of our fellow mortals, however unallied to us by the cords of masonic attachment. As the man who faithfully fulfils the duties of a father and a husband, will in general be found also to be in other respects a valuable member of the community in which he lives, so will the feeling mason by the exercise of his benevolent affections in the Lodge, go into the discharge of his general duties of generosity and humanity towards the rest of mankind, with an improved and ameliorated mind. The engagements into which he enters, in relation to the practice of the offices of kindness and beneficence, will be rendered still more influential, by the reiterated injunction of precept, by the force of habit. The lessons taught in the school of the Lodge, and their practical illustration, will have the effect, if properly regarded, to fortify and prepare his mind for the discharge of this and all his other relative duties in society at large.

Do I observe a countenance indicating a suspicion of the justice of this eulogy, and a disposition to abate its truth by a reference to the unworthy conduct of [31/32] some of our members? The fact is admitted—The inference denied. Masons are human beings, subject to all the passions and infirmities of man's fallen nature. Vice and its incentives belong not to the theory of the order, are banished from the practice of its duties. Individual conduct is scrupulously superintended in the body of the Lodge; but mistaken apprehension of character, and a variety of obvious causes, have exposed this, like all other human establishments, to the inroads of the base and undeserving. Many also have prejudiced our association by forfeiting after their union with us, that reputation which alone gained them admission. On such, the purest precepts, the brightest examples of moral and correct deportment, although presented to them with the illuminations of the Sun of Righteousness himself, and sanctioned by the irresistible evidence of divine authority, sometimes are without effect. The obligations arising from a connection with a high professing order, on such are equally unavailing. Private counsel contemned, more public admonition disregarded, the censures of the Lodge at length attach. The offender is removed as "a cumberer of the ground," and the destruction which awaited the healthy and vigorous plants into whose neighbourhood he had intruded in the garden of the Lodge, is thus averted. The records of this Grand Lodge, and of those with whom we correspond, bear ample testimony to the well-merited severity and extent of Masonic punishments. Yet in candour, we allow, that the mild doctrines of our Society, lead in some instances to prejudicial indulgence to the failings and offences of our brethren. Cannot every candid mind supply [32/33] us with an apology for even blameable forbearance? Forgiveness, Oh, Christianity! is the distinguishing attribute of thy divine author. Let not its exercise be restrained in the humble copiers of thy holy precepts! Rather afford the aids of thy glorious system in amending, than in destroying the unhappy wanderer from the paths of virtue!

Let such be our prayer; but irreclaimable vice must not be encouraged by false compassion. The hand of correction must not be in cruelty withheld, where its inflictions, properly applied, may be the means at once of convincing and amending an erring brother, and preserving that sacred temple, which our beloved Washington pronounced to be "a sanctuary for Brothers and a Lodge for the virtues," from the stains of impurity and vice.

When the good effects designed by our order are really produced, we humbly trust, it will stand in a favourable point of view with many, who may not anticipate an union with it. It will we hope lay some claims to the regard of our amiable friends, by whose presence, our exercises are this day graced and honoured. Admitted not into participation in our mysteries, let them not suppose their exclusion to proceed, from an invidious apprehension of the inferiority of their merits, or a mean suspicion of their ability sacredly to maintain a trust confided to their charge. In the daily habit of entrusting them with our joys and our sorrows, our hopes and our fears, such a motive would convict us of glaring inconsistency and obvious injustice. A better reason is to be found by considering the subject, in analogy with the other institutions of civil society. These [33/34] have marked out with a convenient discrimination, the offices appertaining to either sex. The dignity of the one, and the amiableness of the other, are injured by an infringement of the proper line of demarcation, between their respective duties and employments. The broils of political controversy, the agitations of a military life, the turmoils of professional competition, the severer labours of the field and of the workshop, as well as most of those active pursuits which call the agent from the privacy of domestic life, are usually the lot of man. They would mar the delicacy, offend the retiring modesty, and interfere with the milder, though not less interesting engagements in which the virtuous woman so much delights. It is also the just eulogy of the sex, that to those offices of kindness, in which we require a prompter, nature has so admirably adapted the female disposition, as to render all incentives of an artificial nature wholly useless. Often while we are forming with much deliberation, a mode of relieving the distresses of poverty and sickness, the alacrity of female benevolence has already afforded the requisite assistance. We are sometimes also happy, in making them the personal distributors of the bounty of the lodge, in soliciting their participation in one of the most grateful offices of the institution, the delicate application of succour and support to the worthy sufferers of their own sex, whose misfortunes require the interposition of masonic aid. It has been well observed, that "in excluding beauty from the temple of wisdom, we distrust ourselves rather than them." The powerful attraction of female charms placed constantly before us, might lessen our attention to those obligations, in the tendency [34/35] and result of which, our female friends by the unforeseen casualties of life, frequently become deeply interested. For it is the proudest boast of our association, that it has in view as a most prominent object of regard, this loveliest part of Nature's handy-work. In shutting the door of the lodge against their entrance, it exempts them from an intercourse of too general a kind, to be consonant with their sentiments and habits. Those estimable associations of their own sex, for the encouragement of industry, and the relief of meritorious poverty, which rank amongst the highest evidences of the philanthropy of our city, we hail as our co-workers in the cause of charity. Their associates we greet as our sisters, in the allied family of the feeling and humane. We offer our prayers to the beneficent Author of all good, for his continued assistance in their pious undertakings, and may the blessing of many, who are ready to perish, rest upon their heads.

To you, my Brethren of the Fraternity, it remains to submit a brief address. A great deposit has been placed in your hands. On your fidelity to the delegated trust under your charge, depends, I will not say, the existence, but much of the character and usefulness of your laudable assemblages. I speak to you on this public occasion, with the anxious solicitude of one allied to you by the most sacred ties; but would make my appeal in the language of fraternal affection, rather than with the authority which my station gives me. I claim a brother's right, to avail myself of the present opportunity, of making some suggestions, and urging upon you some counsels, which this interesting epoch of our society renders peculiarly proper.

[36] You have been of late favoured by our Supreme Grand Master, with a course of unexampled prosperity. The number of our Lodges, and of the members in each Lodge, has increased beyond the measure of any previous calculation. Order and discipline have reigned triumphant at your meetings. Abuses have been corrected; intelligence and talents in the conduct of your labours, have succeeded, in many lodges, to awkwardness and deformity; neatness and regularity now occupy the stations sometimes disgraced by carelessness and disorder. The wisdom of the East, the strength of the West, and the beauty of the South, combine their energies to plan, to erect, and to adorn the several compartments in the edifice of the Lodge. Your leaders selected for their talents and their worth, superintend and direct the work in which you are severally engaged, with sagacity and skill; and the literary acquirements of many of them, afford you means of instruction of the most valuable kind. Your employments, under such auspices, become the ministers of pleasure and improvement. Their variety, symmetry and beauty delight the imagination; their tendency to invigorate the faculties and promote the best interests of the human race, engage the understanding; and the disinterested benevolence of their practical operation, enchain the best feelings of the heart.

Under the controuling influence of intellect, worthily engaged in laying open the arcana of our order, dead and unmeaning ceremony rises into life and spirit. Beauties obscured, and hid by the rubbish, heaped upon them by undesigning ignorance, emerge to the view of the astonished noviciate. An unchangeable attachment [36/37] to a system, which requires only to be understood, to be loved and admired, is generally formed, and the mind and heart are strengthened and enlarged by the study and pursuit of its precepts and duties. Many of my brethren, who now hear me, and to whose zeal and knowledge and industry I am rejoiced to bear testimony, will bear me out in this just and unexaggerated statement; and they will lament with me, that truth, to which Religion and Masonry demand our adherence, cannot apply to the labours of every lodge under our charge, the praise which so many may justly claim.

Astonishing however is the influence of example, and the rising virtues of every branch of the Masonic family, have the double effect of increasing the happiness of its own members, and inciting the emulation of others. My brethren, can there be a more noble ambition than the ambition of well doing? Is there any strife to be tolerated among us, but the glorious contest of excelling each other, in all the qualifications that should characterize our profession, as masons? A mean jealousy of the merits and acquirements of others, the noble mind disdains; but the generous attempt to equal and surpass in intelligence and goodness, the brightest patterns of excellence around us, is our privilege and pride, both as masons and as men.

If there are any of my brethren now present, who have entertained unworthy apprehensions of the noble order in which they stand enrolled: if there are any whose understandings have not yet embraced the vast scope of its design: if there are any whose habits are at variance with the purity of the precepts enjoined upon them in the Lodge: if there are any whose depraved [37/38] inclinations would lead them to convert the brief and moderate indulgence of social but rational enjoyment after the labours of the Lodge, into a shameful gratification of the lowest appetites of our nature; if there is a solitary individual, the weakness of whose resolution in the practice of his relative duties in society, has not been assisted by his union with the craft; to all such, I would present this honoured festival, this jubilee of masonic gratulation and delight, as the most favourable moment of reformation and amendment.

We are in a few moments to be engaged in the most interesting ceremonials of our institution. Under the benignant smiles of the Supreme Grand Architect, we have accomplished a work, which is an honour to us, and an ornament to our city. We are now to dedicate it to the honour of his glory. What mind so callous as not to feel awe the most reverent, mixed with the highest exultation, at this solemn, yet delightful service. Shall it be the mockery of senseless parade, and sterile and unmeaning form? Or shall we unitedly consider it, as a sincere consecration of the house of our future intercourse, to the best interests of virtue and humanity?

This day, let an irrevocable decree of exclusion be passed, upon every vice and impropriety that has ever intruded itself amongst us. The eyes of many are upon us, whose characters as our fellow citizens and friends, entitle them to the highest estimation and regard: they have witnessed the exhibitions of this day, and their good sense will prevent them from hastily joining in the sneers, which in some instances, amazed ignorance has thrown out, at what its shallow apprehension [38/39] has deemed trivial and unimportant appendages to light and insignificant pursuits. But on us, my brethren, on our future management and conduct of the affairs of this venerable institution will it depend, whether from this day forward the number of its patrons shall diminish or increase. In vain will have been the skill of the architect, and the labours of the craftsmen employed in the erection of the magnificent building, into which we are now about to enter, if the beauty and harmony of the interior correspond not with the elegance of its exterior appearance. Vice cannot be rendered virtue, by the splendours of outside decoration and embellishment. Her hated visage is often rendered the more disgusting, by laboured attempts to array her in the ornaments of virtue. Let us exhibit an exemplary consistency, between the grandeur and elegance of the place of our assemblage, and the conduct of all its internal transactions.

To you, who hold the respectable rank of masters in the several lodges, the duty of superintending the craft under your immediate charge properly belongs. Faithfully exercise it, with impartiality and diligence, but without fear. Let no unbecoming departure from good order and discipline, be for a moment countenanced. Be examples yourselves of the virtues you are called to impress on others. Let the eminent stations you occupy, receive a lustre from your able and intelligent discharge of all the duties they involve. If you have prematurely acquired the distinctions of the lodge, without the previous preparation requisite for a distinguished administration of their functions, retrieve your own character and that of our lodge by an ardent [39/40] pursuit of the necessary knowledge. And you my brethren, who aim at future exaltation, qualify yourselves for well deserved preferment; remembering that ignorance and imbecility are rendered more visible by the glare of official distinction, and that the humblest situation is preferable to the highest, if the latter be not adorned with the essential qualifications of masonic talents and personal virtue. To members of every class I would recommend the prosecution of earnest endeavours after the reputation of bright workmen, in all the labours belonging to their several grades of advancement; and to annex to the recommendation this Solemn assurance, that after their greatest attainments in the noble science, they will have achieved but little, unless it strengthen and improve all their moral and social virtues.

To you, my young brethren, I offer but one admonition. Temper your masonic zeal with a becoming prudence and discretion. Be cautiously attentive to the injunction addressed to you at your initiation, never to neglect your respective avocations for the business of masonry. A prudent distribution of your hours will soon convince you, that no such sacrifice is required; but that your duties as masons, are altogether compatible with the closest attention to your various pursuits in life.

And now, may that Almighty Being, without whose light and direction, we "grope for the wall like the blind, and stumble at noon-day as in the night," afford his divine assistance, in all our well intended and laudable exertions for the honour and usefulness of this benevolent institution.

[41] Under the auspices of His all-seeing eye, may all our undertakings be confessedly conducted. Regulating our actions by the square of virtue, the plumb-line of rectitude, and the level of propriety; keeping our pleasurable gratifications within the compass of decency and moderation, and uniting our several associations with the cement of brotherly affection, may our terrestrial lodge become the emblem of the heavenly, and the innocent pleasures it dispenses, the harbingers of joys ineffable and eternal.


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