The Characteristics of a Freemason
J. L. Beckstead
39th Annual Banff Conference
Thursday, July 29, 1999 1:47 PM
As a point of departure and a brief introduction to our new member, let us look at him as he progresses through the various ceremonies involved in becoming a Freemason. During the course of his initiation, he was admonished to consider the volume of the sacred law an unerring standard of truth and justice and to regular his life by the divine precepts which it contains. As a citizen, he was advised to be exemplary in his civil duties and as an individual, the practice of every domestic and social virtue was recommended to him, as a model for him to follow. What then should we expect to see in a man who by his own admission sought membership in our order because of a general desire for knowledge and a sincere with to render himself more serviceable to his fellow creatures?
Many characteristics could be considered, since it is clear that we expect him to exhibit all possible virtues. The list could be so long as to become tedious and it is difficult to know wherein to begin or to end. When I have finished, I am sure you will all have thought of others which should have been discussed.
The charge delivered annually at the installation ceremony contains a very good summary of the characteristics of a Freemason and these will now be reviewed.
The ideal Freemason has developed his basic personality traits and has established his own fundamental approach to the world and its stresses and strains, is secure in his position in life and is able to live quietly and modestly. He does not have to put on airs to impress others. He is able to fulfill his duties as a man, a citizen, a husband and a father without fanfare.
His religious faith is firmly founded. He is able to live piously without being hypocritical. He is able to be benevolent but does not feel compelled to make a great show of it. He is able to feel concern for others and extends help when he recognizes the need. He does so, quietly and unobtrusively, without asking or expecting any return or recognition.
He is warm-hearted and friendly and enjoys pleasurable activity. He has his serious side as well and is thoughtful in his attitude toward others. He is able to withstand difficult times without yielding to despair or despondency. Conversely, good fortune will not cause him to lose his perspective and be unmindful of the needs of others. If his high standards are threatened, he will be resolute in maintaining them at whatever difficulty.
Because of his first belief in the Great Architect of the Universe, he is able to perceive the high destiny of man and to see in nature the workmanship of God. He is ever faithful to his belief and this is not clouded by superstition. The practice of the virtues of faith, hope and charity are an active and integral part of his life. His dedication to truth is firmly fixed in his being and he will defend innocence and virtue at whatever cost, even though his personal comfort and even his safety may be threatened.
He has set a high standard for himself, but he is not rigid or demanding and he will be tolerant within limits if others fail to measure up to it. He will endeavour to correct aberrations or deviations in the behaviour of others but he will not be stubborn in the upholding of his beliefs. He will advocate a conciliatory approach. He will have a clear understanding of his own capabilities, will carefully consider his situation and problems and thereby reach a rational decision in solving them.
He is expected to set a virtuous example himself and will recognize virtue in others, even though they are in a humble station. He will not condone or excuse vise, even in persons of high rank. Merit and ability will be his standard for judging worth rather than a position in life.
Such a man will be loved by all discerning men, and he will be respected by his superiors and revered by his subordinates. He will not feel the need to draw attention to himself by courting applause nor will be boast of his accomplishments either past or present, but where he sees the need, he will quietly go to work and will do whatever is necessary to accomplish the task. When the work is done, he will not ask for recognition but will continue the quiet tenure of his ways, because he is motivated to do the good act for its own sake and does not expect praise.
Such a man personifies brotherly love, relief and truth, and embodies the attributes which we expect and admire in a Freemason.