The Masonic Trowel

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The Government of the Fraternity Explained



Thomas Smith Webb

The mode of government observed by the Fraternity will best explain the importance, and give the truest idea of the nature and design of the Masonic system.

There are several classes of Masons, under different appellations. The privileges of these classes are distinct, and particular means are adopted to preserve those privileges to the just and meritorious of each class.

Honor and probity are recommendations to the first, class, in which the practice of virtue is enforced, and the duties of morality inculcated, while the mind is prepared for regular and social converse in the principles of knowledge and philosophy.

Diligence, assiduity, and application are qualifications for the second class, in which an accurate elucidation of science, both in theory and practice, is given. Here human reason is cultivated by a due exertion of the rational and intellectual powers and faculties, nice and difficult theories are explained, new discoveries produced, and those already known beautifully embellished.

The third class is composed of those whom truth and fidelity have distinguished; who, when assaulted by threats and violence, after solicitation and persuasion have failed, have evinced their firmness and integrity in preserving inviolate the mysteries of the Order.

The fourth class consists of those who have perseveringly studied the scientific branches of the art and exhibited proofs of their skill and acquirements, and who have, consequently, obtained the honor of this degree as a reward of merit.

The fifth class consists of those who, having acquired a proficiency of knowledge to become teachers, have been elected to preside over regularly constituted bodies of Masons.

The sixth class consists of those who, having discharged the duties of the Chair with honor and reputation, are acknowledged and recorded as excellent masters.

The seventh class consists of a select few, whom years and experience have improved, and whom merit and abilities have entitled to preferment. With this class the ancient landmarks of the Order are preserved; and from them we learn and practice the necessary and instructive lessons which at once dignify the art, and qualify its professors to illustrate its excellence and utility.

This is the established mode of the Masonic government when the rules of the system are observed. By this judicious arrangement, true friendship is cultivated among different ranks and degrees of men, hospitality promoted, industry rewarded, and ingenuity encouraged.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014