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THE public are informed, that the following pages were originally prepared in separate addresses, only to be exhibited before Masons. That the author had not the most distant idea of their appearing in print. Not that he thought some publication, of a similar nature, inight not be exceedingly important; but ihat it should come from one better able to do justice to a subject of so much public interest.
The sentiments contained in this little book, have been exbibited before the Grand Chapter of this stale, and the most of them in the samne language they are now found. The arrangement in chapters, was to throw the work into the forın of a regular system.
At the annual meeting of the Grand Chapter in February, eighteen hundred and sixteen, the idea was suggested of preparing for the press, several Masonic addresses, which bad been delivered before that honourable body. On nature delibera. tion, the measure was thought expedient, and therefore adopted. Relying on the better discernment of respectable and well informed brethren, the work has been submitted. It is, therefore, presented to the
public, not for its elegance of composition, but for its truth. The primary object was, to give a plain, concise description of Speculative Free Masonry.
Some few repetitions will be found to occur in language and sentiment, which are to be ascribed to the original preparation in distinct addresses. It is, however, sincerely hoped, some good may result to community. It is confidently believed, the brotherhood will take occasion to improve on those general ideas suggested in the work; that the community in general, will be inclined to think favourably of our Institution. We mean not to deceive. We mean to state facts, in relation to Speculative Free-Masonry. We have no doubt, but what you find in these pages, would accord with your own views and feelings on the subject, should you unite with our Society, and fully understand its principles. We are not deceived as to the nature of those important instructions derived from the institution. We know we are not. They are plain, and according to the common acceptation entertained of moral fitness, not only by the wise and prudent and discerning, but the more burnble capacity. As we are your neighbours and friends, we wish to be your brethren. To love and cherish you as such, and per
form all those mutual and reciprocal acts of friendship, wbich are required, and are binding on members of this Society. We wish to be fellow helpers with you, in promoting the general happiness and well being of mankind. Our charity is more extensive. We wish the whole world might become brethren of one cominon fainily, and fulfil all those offices of kindness, resulting from such a relation.
These are privileges peculiar to our profession, and we desire they may be commensurate with human wants. Many, however, are restricted to members of our own Society. This, we think, cannot be wrong in itself. It is according to the very nature of things. It is precisely what exists in every associated body of inen, formed for any laudable purpose whatever. In such bodies we expect to find privileges peculiar to their own inembers.
Nothing is intended by this work, but a plain, unadorned statement of Masonic principles. Nothing is designed to be construed unfavourably, as to the sacred scriptures, or the churches of Christ, or any religious denomination. Nothing is designed to reflect, either on the community in general, or individuals of that community.
The plain truth is, we, as Masons, do believe in the high importance and utility of
the Institution, and are not only willing, but desire that others should be informed, as far as consistent, what our privileges are.
If, therefore, the public are pleased with us as citizens, as neighbours, as friends and corinexions, why not esteem us as Masons? If we are wholesome citizens, good neighbours, honest mercbants and mechanics, or wise and prudent statesmen, why may we not be good and honest Masons? If our opinions in other matters; are esteemed equally sound with other men's, why should we be disbelieved in our opinions of Masonry? Let the inquiry be made, whether it is in any way probable, that all Masons should bave been deceived. Let us exercise charity towards each other, and be assured, neither our happiness, nor our friendship, nor our interest will, in the least, suffer by it.