Points of Fellowship, Five
There are duties owing by every Freemason to his Brethren, which, from their symbolic allusion to certain points of the body, and from the lesson of brotherly love which they teach, are called the Five Points of Fellowship. They are symbolically illustrated in the Third Degree, and have been summed up by Doctor Oliver as "assisting a Brother in his distress, supporting him in his virtuous undertakings, praying for his welfare, keeping inviolate his secrets, and vindicating his reputation as well in his absence as in his presence" (Landmarks i, page 185).
Cole, in the Freemasons Library (page 190) gives the same ideas in extended language, as follows:
1. When the necessities of a Brother call for my aid and support, I will be ever ready to lend him such assistance, to save him from sinking, as may not be detrimental to myself or connection, if I find him worthy thereof.
2. Indolence shall not cause my footsteps to halt nor wrath turn them aside- but forgetting every selfish consideration I will be ever swift of foot to serve, help, and execute benevolence to a fellow-creature in distress, and more particularly to a Brother Freemason.
3. When I offer up my ejaculations to almighty God, a Brother's welfare I will remember as my own; for as the voices of babes and sucklings ascend to the Throne of Grace, so most assuredly fill the breathings of a fervent heart arise to the mansions of bliss, as our prayers are certainly required of each other.
4. A Brother's secrets, delivered to me as such, I will keep as I would my own; as betraying that trust might be doing him the greatest injury he could sustain in this mortal life; nay, it would be like the villainy of an assassins who lurks in darkness to stab his adversary, when unarmed and least prepared to meet an enemy.
5. A Brother's character I will support in his absence as I would in his presence: I will not wrongfully revile him myself, nor will I suffer it to be done by others, if in my power to prevent it.
The enumeration of these Points by some other more recent authorities differs from Cole's, apparently, only in the order in which the Points are placed. The latter order is given by Doctor Mackey: 1. Indolence should not cause our footsteps to halt, or wrath turn them aside; but with eager alacrity and swiftness of foot, we should press forward in the exercise of charity and kindness to a distressed fellow-creature.
2. In our devotions to almighty God, we should remember a Brother's welfare as our own; for the prayers of a fervent and sincere heart will find no less favor in the sight of Heaven, because the petition for self is mingled with aspirations of benevolence for a friend. 3. When a Brother intrusts to our keeping the secret thoughts of his bosom, prudence and fidelity should place a sacred seal upon our lips lest, in an unguarded moment, we betray the solemn trust confided to our honor.
4. When adversity has visited our Brother, and his calamities call for our aid, we should cheerfully and liberally stretch forth the hand of kindness, to save him from sinking, and to relieve his necessities.
5. While with candor and kindness we should admonish a Brother of his faults, we should never revile his character behind his back, hut rather, when attacked by others, support and defend it.
The difference here is apparently only in the order of enumeration, but really there is an important difference in the symbols on which the instructions are founded. In the old system, the symbols are the hand, the foot, the knee, the breast, and the back. In the new system, the first symbol or the hand is omitted, and the mouth and the ear substituted. There is no doubt that this omission of the first and insertion of the last are innovations, which sprung up in 1843 at the Baltimore Convention, and the enumeration given by Cole is the old and genuine one, which was originally taught in England by Preston, and in the United States by Webb.
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