UNION-LODGE, New-London, Dec. 23, 1794.
VOTED unanimously, That Brothers William Richards, Elias Perkins, and Robert Allyn, be appointed a Committee to wait on our Right Rev. Brother BISHOP SEABURY, with the Thanks of this Lodge for his Sermon delivered to the Brethren this day; and to request a copy of the same for the Press.
Extract from the Records,
Attest, S. GREEN, Sec'y.
Worthy and honored Friends and Brothers,
GREAT is the pleasure with which I embrace the opportunity that your kind invitation has given me of addressing myself to you this day--a day which, I trust, will ever be joyfully remembered by you all;--a day in which, by the Installation of the Master and other Officers of a Lodge of Masons in this city, the influence of that venerable fraternity will be extended, and the bands of mutual love and good-will strengthened among them;--A day in which the presence of so many Brothers from the [5/6] neighboring Lodges met together to cultivate the principles of mutual love, and spread its happy influence, must cheer the heart and exhilarate the spirits of every humane man.
BOTH as a Minister of that Gospel which proclaimeth peace and good-will to mankind, and as one of the common brotherhood of men, I feel myself deeply interested in the honor, prosperity, and happiness of every Society, whose object is the peace, order, and welfare of the human race; and whose aim is the establishment and cultivation of unity, brotherly love, and benevolence among its several branches.
THIS is the professed design of your society. It considers the helplessness of the infantine state of man, the wants and necessities of his mature age, the numberless evils attendant on his declining years, as so many proofs that "it is not good for man to be alone"--that in a solitary, unconnected state, He could not subsist, or could not subsist with safety and satisfaction to himself.
 ANOTHER proof that man was made for society arises from the tender feelings of which his heart is susceptible; of which, indeed, without violence and often repeated efforts it cannot be divested; from the sympathetic anguish which rises in it at the distresses of others; from the thrillings of joy and gladness with which it is delighted by the prospect of human happiness; from the soft emotions and extacy of pleasure which spring from the reciprocal offices of friendship and love.--These all proclaim that God intended man for society--that every individual of the human race should be a help and comfort to every other.
TO give full energy to these happy principles of human nature, and to carry them to their utmost effect, to cultivate natural knowledge and acquired arts, and to disseminate their principles and improvements for the comfort and benefit of man, as well as to harmonize the soul, and bring the tender affections of his nature into action, is the professed purpose of the Masonic institution. It commences its origin from the origin of man, [7/8] because, from his origin, man hath ever wanted the advantage of knowledge, and arts, and humane affections to ensure and make perfect the happiness of social life. Through various forms and degrees of refinement it hath hitherto subsisted in the world, sometimes clouded in obscurity, and sometimes shining in splendor; now distressed by persecution and oppression, then cherished by the favor of the world and the countenance of great men and princes. The former state arose from the ignorance and the prejudices of narrow-minded men, the latter from the improvement of the human mind by knowledge and liberality of sentiment.
BUT whatever was its outward condition in the world, whether persecuted or cherished, Masonry was still the same; still it labored to promote the peace and harmony of the world, by cultivating the principles of benevolence and love; still it sought the happiness of men, by advancing the knowledge of Architecture, Agriculture, Manufactures, and Commerce; still it endeavored to promote the prosperity of social life, by restraining the tempers and enlivening the affections which [8/9] could either retard or advance it. Human happiness was its object, and that object it kept ever in view. Through evil report and good, it still pursued it. Though sometimes disappointed of its aim, it renewed its attempts: Though baffled by human infirmity, and possibly by the fault and ill conduct of particular members, it pursued its point, it repeated its efforts, its object was still before it, still the end of its warmest wishes, of its most zealous endeavors.
EXACTLY does the Masonic institution in this respect, coincide with the morality of that holy religion, to the profession of which the mercy of God hath called us. T o establish this assertion, I recommend to your attention the exhortation of St. Paul, which I purpose for the subject of my present discourse. It is recorded in
HEB. XIII. I. LET BROTHERLY LOVE CONTINUE.
I HAVE the rather chosen this text because it will give me the opportunity of contributing my endeavors to promote the good purposes of your Society and the end of this day's [9/10] solemnity, by enforcing the precepts and spirit of that amiable and divine Religion which we profess, respecting brotherly love and benevolence--a principle which, did it engage the hearts, and regulate the actions of men, would calm all their discordant passions and partial views, and bind them together, as strong cement binds together the materials of a building, which without it would part and fall asunder.
THIS religion, I trust, is not only ours by profession, but by its being the ruling principle in our hearts; and that it will bring every thought and design, every temper and passion in obedience to its divine precepts. Its importance demands our utmost attention; and that attention will convince us that Christianity furnishes mankind with the best philosophy, and most perfect institutions of life; that it contains not only the best system of moral duties that is extant, but, in truth, the only system that is full adapted to the nature and condition of man in this world; being exactly squared to his circumstances, and levelled to his capacity; laying the sure foundation for his happiness; tending to raise [10/11] his powers and faculties to their highest perfection, to cement together the whole brotherhood of men, and build them up an edifice of love, supported by the two grand pillars of virtue and holiness, the light and strength of the world.
THE precepts of this religion which enjoin love and charity are very numerous, and expressed in the strongest and plainest terms: And reason, as well as experience, evinces the necessity of these precepts, to procure and preserve the happiness of the human species. Born in weakness and ignorance, entirely dependant on the care and protection of others; how soon must man fall a prey to those numberless evils which surround him, did not the tenderness of love, and sympathy of affection prevent it? And as he grows up to more mature age, he still continues indebted to the same amiable principles for almost all his enjoyments. Bodily strength comes too late to protect him against injuries, and experience comes too late to point out the road to happiness. He must depend on the protection and instruction of others; and nothing but love and affection can excite others to afford [11/12] this protection, or give this instruction. And in his best estate, when bodily strength is perfected; when reason has come to maturity, and instruction and experience supply their utmost help, the greater part of his happiness must arise from the affectionate and social tendencies of his nature.
LOOK at the malignant and baneful passions and tempers with which his nature is now unhappily debased, and you will be immediately convinced of the truth of what I have said. Malice, and revenge, and ill-nature carry their own torment with them.--They may, and they probably will, vex, and fret and torment those against whom they are exerted: But, at the same time, they musttorment the bosom which indulges them; and, while they prevail, render it incapable of any rational enjoyment. To have mentioned this matter is enough: It carries its own evidence along with it, and needs no elaborate proof to convince us of its reality. We know that ill-nature and malice make those who indulge them miserable in themselves, and odious to all around them. And we know that the benign and social propensities of our [12/13] nature give pleasure in their exercise, and ensure happiness wherever they are practised.
IN this view, then, as well as in all other views, the Christian Religion deserves our best regards. It teaches us to consider mankind as one common brotherhood--the children of the same parent, and members of the same family--allied to each other by partaking of the same nature, and being subject to the same necessities and infirmities: And it directs us to seek and promote their happiness by all the means that shall be in our power; to comfort the afflicted, to protect the weak, to relieve the oppressed, to support the indigent, to instruct the ignorant, to administer, in short, to the various necessities of mankind, as God shall bless us with ability and opportunity.--It forbids all malevolent designs and intentions, as well as the open and avowed acts of malice; and it carries the principle of love and charity so high, as to require the forgiveness of real injuries, and the suppression of even our just anger.
ALL the writers of the New Testament, [13/14] however they may vary in the enumeration of the other virtues, and in the encomiums they bestow upon them, are unanimous in giving this of brotherly love the preference; making it pre-eminent in its station, in its influence, and excellency above them all.
THE adorable Jesus, the great lover of men, declares that command of God, which enjoins us to love our neighbor as ourselves, to be equal to that great command which requires us to love the Lord our God with all our hearts; and says, that on these two commandments, the love of God and man, all the Law and the Prophets do hang: Thereby more than intimating to us, that the foundation of all moral precepts, lies in this love of God and man; and that nothing in morality has any virtue or real excellency in it, but as it is deducible from, or may be referred to one or other of these principles.
ST. James calls this law which commands the love of our neighbor, the Royal Law; thereby declaring its excellency and pre-eminence: And assures us that the whole train of social duties is fulfilled by fulfilling this law, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
ST. Paul resents Love to others as a debt which, though due to all, can never be paid so as to cancel its obligation, and declares, in expressions similar to those of St. James, that the whole law, or obligation of duty, which one man owes to another, is fulfilled by observing this one precept, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. And in the conclusion of his epistle to the Hebrews, the strong sense he had of it returns upon his mind with such force, that he could not help mentioning it, as necessary to complete the Christian character, Let brotherly love continue. He saith nothing of the commencement of it. It already subsisted among Christians. Christians they could not be without it--it was woven into their religion, and made a part of it. Their duty, therefore, required them to nourish it, to support and maintain it, to regulate their hearts and actions by it, to pursue it through all its branches, and follow wherever it led them. It was one of the fruits of the Spirit of God, and at no rate to be neglected.
FROM the Spirit of God it hath descended and become the professed principle of the Masonic [15/16] fraternity: For wherever the principle of brotherly love is, wherever it resides and governs the passions and actions of men, there is the Spirit of God; for God is love; and "there is none good but one, that is God."
BE this love then the Line which directs your conduct, the Square by which to form the rectitude of your principles and actions, the Plummet to try their uprightness, the Level to ascertain their conformity to the Almighty Architect; and let its Compass embrace the whole human race. Love hath ever distinguished your fraternity: Let, therefore, brotherly love continue. It will give reputation to your Society, stability to the Lodge this day installed, and make it an ornament to the city in which we live. Love to others, a desire to promote their happiness will ensure respect. Real worth alone can acquire real dignity, and propriety of conduct only can secure respect, either to individuals, or to bodies of men.
I HAVE thought it needless to take up your time in explaining what is meant by brotherly love. The feelings of your own hearts will do [16/17] that better than the most elaborate description. Let us only remember that every man is our brother, being all the children of the same common parent, God Almighty, and the extent of the duty will be immediately perceived. Only consider the common wants and necessities of this brotherhood--that its happiness can no otherwise be promoted, and the variety of evils to which it is exposed no otherwise prevented than by loving one another, and the reasonableness of the duty will be clearly seen. Only reflect, that to love one another, to delight in doing good to all, to cultivate the tender, benign, and social propensities of our nature, is the command of our Creator, and the obligation of the duty will be strongly felt. Only recollect, that god hath declared him who hateth his brother to be a murderer, and that he must have his portion with apostate spirits--that He, God himself is the essence of love; and that he who loves his brother resembles his Creator, and shall enjoy everlasting felicity with him in heaven, and the motives to the practice of the duty will be too forcible for an ingenuous mind to resist.
 HOW unhappy is it for the world that unthinking man attends so little to these considerations! How much of the misery which man endures, how many of the evils under which he constantly groans, might be prevented by cultivating this amiable, this divine quality! Look at the calamities that overspread the earth--What we call the evils of nature, sickness and accidents, storms and tempests, thunder and earthquakes, bear no proportion to those evils which the malevolent and baneful passions of men bring on it. War alone hath done more mischief, hath destroyed more of the human race, hath brought more misery into the world, than all of them together. And whence come wars and fightings among men? come they not from their unbridled lusts and malignant passions? How dreadful is the situation! how melancholy the prospect, when brotherhoods of men arm themselves for mutual destruction!
TO have mentioned this horrible state of human depravity is enough to expose its enormity. With pleasure I turn from such a theme, to the contemplation of the amiable [18/19] qualities of affection and benevolence, which first founded that brotherhood to which I have, this day, the pleasure of addressing myself; and which hath cemented it together, and built it up, an edifice of love, a temple of unity and concord. May God prosper their endeavors to extend the blessings of peace, friendship, love, and knowledge through the world!
IN cultivating this principle you are engaged; a principle on which human happiness must be built. Of this happiness the foundation was laid by God his Creator, when he gave man those tender, benign, and social feelings which are the greatest ornament and highest perfection of his nature. To rear the fair fabrick to this perfection; to bring to maturity that seed of salvation which was sown in the hearts of all men, when God said, The seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent, was the end of the Son of God, the adorable Savior of men, had in view, when he took our nature upon him. He therefore went about doing good, cultivating the tender propensities of that nature he had assumed, [19/20] calling into action all the amities and charities of the human heart, enforcing them by his precepts, and confirming them by his example; making it the very mark and essential characteristic of his disciples, that they should love one another.
To further this blessed disposition, and give it its utmost efficacy, is your professed design; and as, I trust, it has the warmest wishes of your hearts, I trust, also, it will have the utmost exertions of your abilities to bring it to perfection. In this business you are workers together with God, and fellow-laborers with Christ and his apostles, and with all good men.
PERMIT me then with the affection of a brother who earnestly wishes your propensity, as well as with the authority of a minister of the Gospel of peace and good-will to men, whose greatest glory it is to recommend that Gospel to men, and make it effectual to their salvation, to put you in mind of your obligations in this respect, and earnestly to exhort you, not to be weary in doing good, but to let brotherly love continue, and mark all your conversation as Christians, as well as Masons.
 THE evil propensities of wicked men will, it is true, rise up in opposition; and the malignant passions of human nature will counteract the benevolent design of your holy religion, as well as of your particular institution. But these, by their contrariety, will only add to the splendor of your glory, and make the virtue of your conduct the more conspicuous, while you strive to bring order and peace out of confusion and discord, and to make friendship and love triumphant over enmity and malice.
RECOLLECT, therefore, that all the words and actions of men,--the whole tenor and particulars of their lives--are noted by God who made them, and will by him be brought into judgment. Not only so; but their open conduct is viewed and scanned, and judged by their fellow-men; and that they will esteem or disregard the particular Society to which they belong, not only according to the worth of its institutions and regulations, but also according to the conduct of those who are members of it. Of the institutions of Masonry, it may, I assure myself, be justly [21/22] asserted, that they are calculated to promote the happiness of the world. Let then the conduct of Masons be answerable to them. Let the force of their good institutions appear in their deportment. Let truth and justice, sobriety and modesty, courtesy and affability, liberality and candor, affection and love, benevolence and charity mark their whole conduct, and shew to the world, that they are the faithful servants of the merciful Savior of men, united by particular badges and institutions, to do good to mankind by promoting their happiness. Then shall their fellow-men regard and respect them: God will look with favor upon them and bless them: This temporary life will be closed in the satisfaction of having done good in their generation, and the merit of their Redeemer will carry them to the eternal kingdom of peace and love.
KEEP, therefore, Brethren, the lamp of brotherly love burning bright in your hearts, square all your actions by the eternal rules of equity and just proportion; measure your designs by analogy with that ration which the lip of truth hath given you, "Whatsoever ye [22/23] would that others should do to you, do ye even so to them;" circumscribe all your desires by the compass of duty, and level them by patience to your circumstances: So shall the Lodges of the craft rise in order, beauty, and strength, cemented by the Spirit of the Almighty Architect of nature, who always worketh in and by Love--Jehovah--Trinity of Persons, in Unity of Essence: To whom be ascribed, by men and angels--by every creature his hand hath formed--Glory, Honor, Dominion, Praise, thanksgiving, now and forever.