Shall I be a Mason
16 October 23
This article is from Transactions of the Lodge Quatuor Coronati Vol 1 1888, pages 146–147, unaltered and as unearthed from the archives by W Bro Kim Nielsen. The original article was written by Bro P Tempels, a Belgian mason from Brussels who was presented with the very first AQC Lodge Medal in 1888. The translation from the original French was by G.W. Speth, the Secretary of Lodge Quatuor Coronati at the time.
The author indicates the disposition required in order to make those sacrifices to which one is exposed in Freemasonry. Those who do not possess this temperament, he counsels to abstain. Do not offer yourself, he says, without due consideration.
How should one approach this?
Read a History of Masonry: there is no lack of them. Read the libels published against Masons; the Bulls of Excommunication; examine the charges made. Read some earnest work on its tenets, for example, Morals and Dogma, by the learned and Venerable Bro Pike, Grand Commander of the Supreme Council of the Southern States of America.
Do not present yourself out of mere puerile curiosity; you will only be disappointed.
Do not join the Craft except with a firm resolution to study the institution. It partakes of the nature of certain natural phenomena, of certain masterpieces of art, of the genius of certain men. The first view destroys the illusion: one must study them to comprehend them.
If, combined with the love of the true and the good, you have not also a slight mental attraction towards the poetry resident in all things, and a judgment tempered by feeling and sentiment, enter not, you will be bored. He who, with the culture of progress, combines that of old memories; who, whilst pursuing exact science can yet understand all the charm of a venerable myth; who loves custom because it is old, antique forms because they are beautiful, even prejudice, because it is at the root of human history, such a one will find full play for his instincts as an archaeologist. But, should you enquire how it will benefit your pocket or influence the elections, —go not in!
If, in religious matters, you start with the assumption that your opponent is a fool or a knave, venture not to approach. But, if you respect every sincere opinion, or if, being of a religious temperament you can bear with those who are not so, or rather, are so differently from yourself, then go; no one will wound your susceptibilities, and you will hurt no one.
If, as regards God and your soul, you appreciate the majesty of the issue, whilst possibly of the opinion that the science of some does not differ greatly from the agnosticism of others, your aspirations may probably encounter comforting support.
If, as a physician or lawyer, a tradesman or merchant, official or clerk, you seek to find there either clients or patrons, you will be grievously disappointed. As an official you would inspire the good-humoured contempt of the minister, were he a mason, and his successor would, perhaps, send you about your business. As a merchant, you would cause both your Masonry and your merchandise to be regarded with suspicion.
If, being ambitious, you have capabilities equal to your ambition, go: many will learn to know you thoroughly. But if you merely seek to acquire stilts for your too diminutive legs, keep aloof: and for the very same reason.
As a politician, do not dream of making partisans in a lodge: you will only prevail with those who already follow you; and you will possibly lose them and have to endure their reproach that you have imported discord within the sacred precincts: your success will be short-lived.
If you hold opinions which possess you rather than you them, if your disposition be such as to render you too prone to blame others, or if you have no pride in your birthright independence in all matters that concern yourself, the education of your children, the actions of your religious, civil or family life, you will never possess the requisite masonic qualifications, you will never understand those who do.
If you be entirely absorbed by your profession, your associations, your position in society, approach not! Why should you undertake obligations which will be onerous to you?
If you owe all your time and resources to your family, abstract nothing from a duty which is above all others. The lodge is an incentive to outlay. You would either regret not being able to do even as the others, or you would violate our statutes in consecrating to your pleasure that which is justly claimed elsewhere.
If you be a hypochondriac, keep away! but, if you love a word in season and a merry jest, enter in.
And cherish no illusions! Do not allow yourself to be carried away by the idea that you owe a sacrifice to humanity, to progress, and all the rest! Masons are apt to laugh at high-flown notions of self-sacrifice.
Join the Masons only if you desire it for your own sake; whoever you be, they can get on excellently well without you.