Exclusiveness of Freemasonry
The exclusiveness of Masonic benevolence is a charge that has frequently been made against the Order; and it is said that the charity of which it boasts is always conferred on its own members in preference to strangers. It cannot be denied that Freemasons, simply as Freemasons, have ever been more constant and more profuse in their charities to their own Brethren than to the rest of the world; that in apportioning the alms which God has given them to bestow, they have first looked for the poor in their own home before they sought those who were abroad; and that their hearts have felt more deeply for the destitution of a Brother than a stranger. The principle that governs the Institution of Freemasonry, in the distribution of its charities, and the exercise of all the friendly affections, is that which was laid down by Saint Paul for the government of the infant church at Galatia: "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith" (Galatians vi, 10). This sentiment of preference for those of one's own faith, thus sanctioned by apostolic authority, is the dictate of human nature, and the words of Scripture find their echo in every heart. "Blood," says the Spanish proverb, "is thicker than water," and the claims of kindred, of friends and comrades to our affections, must not be weighed in the same scale with those of the stranger, who has no stronger tie to bind him to our sympathies, than that of a common origin from the founder of our race. All associations of men act on this principle. It is acknowledged in the church which follows with strict obedience the injunction of the apostle; and in the relief it affords to the distressed, in the comforts and consolations which it imparts to the afflicted, and in the rights and privileges which it bestows upon its own members, distinguishes between those who have no community with it of religious belief, and those who, by worshiping at the same altar, have established the higher claim of being of the household of faith.
It is recognized by all other societies, which, however they may, from time to time, and under the pressure of peculiar circumstances, extend temporary aid to accidental cases of distress, carefully preserve their own peculiar funds for the relief of those who, by their election as members, by their subscription to a written constitution, and by the regular payment of arrears, have assumed the relationship which Saint Paul defines as being of the household of faith.
It is recognized by governments, which, however liberally they may frame their laws, so that every burden may bear equally on all, and each may enjoy the same civil and religious rights, never fail, in the privileges which they bestow, to discriminate between the alien and foreigner, whose visit is but temporary or whose allegiance is elsewhere, and their own citizens.
This principle of preference is universally diffused, and it is well that it is so. It is well that those who are nearer should be dearer; and that a similitude of blood, an identity of interest, or a community of purpose, should give additional strength to the ordinary ties that bind man to man. man, in the weakness of his nature, requires this security by his own unaided efforts, he cannot accomplish the objects of his life nor supply the necessary wants of his existence. In this state of utter helplessness, God has wisely and mercifully provided a remedy by implanting in the human breast a love of union and an ardent desire for society.
Guided by this instinct of preservation, man eagerly seeks communion of man, and the weakness of the individual is compensated by the strength of association. It is to this consciousness of mutual dependence, that nations are indebted for their existence, and governments for their durability. And under the impulse of the same instinct of society, brotherhoods and associations are formed, whose members, concentrating their efforts for the attainment of one common object, bind themselves by voluntary ties of love and friendship, more powerful than those which arise from the ordinary feelings of human nature.
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