Preston says, with much justice, Many are deluded by the vague supposition, that our mysteries are merely nominal; that the practices established amongst us are frivolous ;and that our ceremonies may be adopted or waived at pleasure. On this false basis we find too many of the Brethren hurrying through all the degrees of the Order, without adverting to the propriety of one step they pursue, or possessing a single qualification to entitle them to advancement. Passing through the usual formalities, they consider themselves authorised to rank as Masters of the A rt, solicit and accept offices, and even assume the government of the Lodge, equally unacquainted with the rules of the Institution that they pretend to support, and the nature of the trust which they are bound to perform. The consequence is obvious; anarchy and confusion ensue, and the substance is lost in the shadow. Hence men, who are eminent for ability, rank, and fortune, frequently view the honours of Masonry with indifference; and, when their patronage is solicited, either accept office with reluctance, or reject them with disdain. Masonry has long laboured under these disadvantages, and every zealous friend of the Order must earnestly wish for a correction of the abuse. Of late years, it must be acknowledged, our assemblies have been in general better regulated; of which the good effects are sufficiently displayed, in the judicious selection of our members, and the proper observance of our general regulations. (Typographical errors above are due to OCR software and don't occur in the book.)
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