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them eminent, because it evinced a spirit which defied death, and hailed it as a consummation of their earthly labors. But the holy fervor which dictated the willing sacrifice in these holy fathers, and the feeling which their devotion excited in the breasts of the powerful Barons of that day, were very different. In no cause that has ever engaged the attention of mankind, can we find the same high purpose—the same disregard of death-the same indifference to temporal praise or censure—the same neglect of ease—that marked the lives of these early martyrs. Disdaining temporal distinction-immuring themselves in the dark and damp vaults of the cloister, that they might be made strong in the spirit of their mission-enduring severe penance, to teach them how to bear the severest ills of life—devoting themselves to no object that could interfere with the cheerfulness of self-immolation,—they went forth with the cowl and staff, and while the storm of life rolled fearfully over them, yet they stood unmoved. All around was filled with darkness and gloom. The high battlement of the Feudal lord frowned upon the poor stranger who knocked at the gate for shelter, and the storm and wind and lightning of heaven sported in the forests he tracked. Yet the elements that rocked the proud tower like a reed, touched not the holy palmer; and the bolt of heaven that cast from its proud seat the turret of the castle, played harmlessly around the uncovered head that was bared to the storm, and bowed in obedience to the will of Him with whom he was forever united. In the full and flushed enjoyment of health, the life to come, was like the spectre that was chronicled as the tenant of some neglected apartment. It gave no concern, commanded no attention. The spirit that lived upon dominion, brooked not the idea of power superior to its own. At times, indeed, the mild influence of religion would find an advocate in the bosom of woman; and to some who shared the honors of these castles, religion owes a debt for the conversion of the most distinguished of their day. When the stalworth frame of the warrior was laid low on his couch of sickness and death, then did the fair form of her who was at once the honored and neglected partner of his fortune, watch over the pain and disease that were consuming life. Sorrow and suffering were then forgotten by her, and her mild and meek spirit would rise superior to itself, and death, that appals the stoutest, would be braved by her, and her efforts protract if they could not defeat, the final triumph that was approaching. Her voice would soothe the ear of the dying with the hope of a better existence; and her love, like the religion she would teach, knew no limit even in life, but continued holy even after death, and cherished in immortal memory the spirit of existence, when there was no witness to her constancy but the God to whom she prayed for mercy to the dead. In this night of existence, our search is toilsome and hard, when we seek to find among our fellows the germ of that refinement, which in a later day, has blazed forth with the illumination of a volcanic eruption, and lighted the deep blue arch of heaven. The Divine will, which had planted religion on earth, as if to prove the immensity of its power in its final triumph, had for good and wise reasons, seemed to ordain that the depravity of our race, when not redeemed by the virtue of redeeming grace, should be chronicled to warn us forever from a relapse into barbarism and vice.And basking now in the noontide radiance of its beam, we pry with a wondering curiosity into those earlier times, when men lived without the charities of social life, the refinement or blessing of religious truth.
Inseparably connected with the progress of religion and civilization, were the christian virtues of charity and benevolence, which blossomed into early existence, and flourished under the inclement sky that seemed to frown upon their growth. As in the cause of truth we have seen that the mild influence of woman's character lent wholesome aid to its success in times of difficulty and danger, so in these milder virtues do we perceive the kind and fostering care of the hand, that even in the darkness of the storm was stretched forth the rainbow of hope, to promise succor and relief to the distressed. For years and years however, did these springs of life lay choked with the weeds of neglect and powerful hostility. Charity and benevolence were preached as principles, but there were few to practice the benefits they conferred. Existence seemed a wild and matted forest, in whose bosom fierce passions, like untamed beasts, roamed fearless and uncontrolled; and though from the lattice of the convent, the pale rushlight of the monk sent forth its earnest but ill-sustained blaze, it could not yet penetrate the wall of darkness, which on every side encompassed it. How inadequately do we estimate the labors of those who were for us the pioneers of the great cause, in whose ample folds we are all encased. We imagine but feebly the storm, they felt so really; and now faint at the picture of the torture and the stake, they braved and endured. Strong and confiding in the truth of the cause they preached, few apostates disgrace the band to which they belonged. The end of their labors, though buried deep in the bosom of time, was yet revealed to them; and its consolation refreshed the weary body-moistened the parched lip. Labor was sweet, because it was in a good cause; and death was no terror, for it was the evidence that the Master they served had appreciated the work they had done, and was pleased to remove them from further strife. How delightful, how glorious that end. Upon truth had they leaned—the staff that never broke under the severest weightand even in death, that staff did they grasp. The eye that was closed to earth, had opened on the future—the veil that was hung before the mind, was suddenly withdrawn; and they found the welcome of their labors, in the far distant periods of time, when Friendship would bind the hand of brother to brother—when Love would fill the hearts of all men-and Truth would hang around mankind the guardian angel of life, to teach the path that was right, and to avoid the
way The root of all the virtues that we estimate and cherish as the fruits of civilization, is first found in individual example. History, we are told, is philosophy teaching by example; and the diffusion of charities springs from the small fountain which was cherished and protected in the bosoms of the early Christians. The mild influence of their example—an example immediately beneficial in confirming their principles-gradually worked its way into the densest mass of mankind; and classes began to understand, appreciate and promote the abstract principle, that in its widest circle, was so illuminated with infinite goodness, and in its then limited practice so full of benefit to all. The existence, however, of the best principle of our nature, if indulged in only as the dream of the closet, works no benefit to the different classes of mankind; and unless illustrated by a view of practical good, will speedily become classed with the multiplied Utopias which have fitted across the minds of the few, but have not, and never will reach the hearts of the many. And hence, altlıough
that was wrong;
the virtues of life were strongly implanted in the bosoms of many, until they became recommended to large portions of each community, and adopted by them as a rule of life, their practical tendencies were imperfectly understood, and the extent of their goodness rather a question, than an ascertained belief. The diffusion of the charities of life is never with. in the grasp of finite, mortal man. Itself an emanation from the source of all goodness, and partaking of the quality of infinite excellence; it is only when the whole body of mankind unite in its active support, that it can exhibit a faint image of the good it possesses, and the blessings it is intended to confer.
Well understanding this position, we look with great satisfaction upon the means that in the earliest times were used to draw men together in the bonds of love and truth; and however slowly each recruit came in, yet was each a host in the gathering of that army, that we now see in majestic motion, through every quarter of the civilized globe, with Faith as the shield they bear, and Universal Charity the end they strive to obtain.
It has been said that vice is more ingenious than virtue, and in the contest which, since the creation of man, has been waged between these two antagonist principles, we may gather some experience from the worst part of our nature. If the profane interpretation of sacred writ be true, and we should be taught to believe that depravity is the natural state of man, and that his disposition clings to vice, -it will be seen how important it is for us, to consider the means with which, even though possessed of this natural advantage, the foe to humanity prepares itself for conquest. In the gratification of the worst and most malignant passions of our nature,-in the sating of the thirst for blood—and the impious gratification of the law of violence, which sacrifices tens of thousands to win a crown, or boast an empty title, we never find him whose heart is thus possessed, going forth alone to consummate his unholy purpose. Thousands and hundreds of thousands are collected together from all parts of the world where his authority extends, and the most active and minute preparation is made to insure success, before the banner is flung to the breeze, and the roar of artillery, the mockery of heaven's thunder, bears upon the gale the summons of death to the multitude. The influence which the congregated character of the mass produces on each, is the philosophy of the design; and each is brought to act upon the other, and to create an invisible bond that is severed only in death.
The same reasoning which has always made these measures successful in the plans of personal or national aggrandizement, commended them to those who were about to undertake a moral fight, when the happiness of mankind was at stake. The weakness of individual enterprize appeared manifest to all, and they began to gather their followers into small communities, which like the snow-drift, would in time lose the identity of its particles, and swell into the glittering mountain, that would catch and reflect with a thousand hues, the advent of the light of coming day. The practical benefit which resulted from such communities, was soon apparent. While there was no loss of individual excellence, the aggregation of spirit bound each member in a suit of triple armor. The opinion of a community became reflected through each member. And to this glorious spirit of unity, should we, under the direction of Divine omnipotence, be profoundly grateful, as the means vouchsafed to mortal man, whereby the blessings of light and knowledge have been obtained. To us as a nation, the appropriateness of this thanksgiving is truly peculiar. To it we may look as the chief element in that glorious reform, whereby the advantages of refined civilization, in the diffusion of wholesome liberty and well balanced laws, have been cast from afar on our land. And to it may we look as the means whereby, in the political history of the world, a revolution the most successful on record has been accomplished, and our nation, like a young giant, now reposes, bathed in the mild light of civil and religious freedom.
Among the communities which have existed among men, based upon the exercise of the charities of life, those which looked to the social condition of man, and sought for him relief from temporary distress, and per. manent good, are among the most important. Whatever may have been the original constitution of civil society; however formed, and under whatever influences it has prospered, are matters entertaining to the curious, but profitless in the discussion of our present topic. We have found it with all the traces of a Divine institution, and see in its organization the temporal means of relieving the hardships which belong to individual isolated existence. At this day, it rests so firmly fixed on the wants and necessities of our race, that it must be co-extensive with existence. None of us exist independently of our neighbor, and the wants of body and mind have become so assimilated, that we look with equal anxiety for the creature comforts, and the good opinion of the community in which we live. The association, however, which belongs to large communities, is naturally directed more to those considerations which affect its members in a religious or political view, than those which relate to individual or personal necessities; and hence it has happened, that under the influence of the same principle, we have had occasion before to remark, in the exercise of works of philanthropy and kindness, they in whose bosom the fame of sympathy brightly burns, have been induced to associate together, and lend their united energy and character to the extension of the virtues they claim to cultivate and encourage. As auxiliaries to the grand society in which communities are united, they seek to make each member a brother, and from the more narrowed circle of their own existence, to cheer and help him in the support of the place he is to occupy in the human family. As the sons of a common mother cheer each other at the fireside of their home, so do these smaller communities, united in a holy brotherhood, sympathize with and relieve the suffering, which one of that family may have to endure.
Founded upon the same principles that have given strength to the cause of religion, and carried its banner into the wildest recesses of ignorance and idolatry; resting upon the same considerations that have bound the sons of freedom in the old and new world, to battle and win success in that great and glorious cause; cherishing the image that belongs to the teaching of Divine wisdom, that “where two or three are gathered together, there would be happiness; breathing the purest communion of sympathy, and stretching forth the hand of aid to the widow and the orphan; united in a bond of union, which Friendship, Love and Truth, stud and adorn; resting upon Charity, as a rock around which the passions of men will play like angry waves around a sea-built tower: The Inde
pendent Order of Odd Fellows now publicly celebrate the second anniversary of the introduction of the Order into South-Carolina, and are anxious to illustrate the principles they have so successfully cherished and supported.
The history of our Order has been a theme in which much ingenuity and talent has been displayed, and the analogies and resemblances which have been brought to light for the purpose of proving its title to a remote antiquity, are rather creditable to the zeal which they exhibit in the cause of humanity, than instructive or true as historical lessons. In associations where the spring of existence is dried up; where no fresh flow starts up at each coming day to awaken the life, and invigorate the being of all that is around, it is well to treasure the holy reverence that belongs to antiquity, and lend to it the sacred character that is borrowed from age. And if the principle be good, and the facts proved, there is nothing that can attach a more mystic and holy reverence to our Order, than the reflection, that in the farthest periods of time-time which we rather dream of than comprehend—the same rites and ceremonies were performed in other lands, and by those whose identity has long since departed.
With all the attention, however, which the subject well deserves to receive, it does not appear that any positive traces of the existence of this particular community, can be very clearly recognized for a longer period than a little more than a half century. True it is, that the influence of Paganism was aided and supported by rites and ceremonies, which were known only to the initiated: true it is, that in all ages, among every people on the face of the globe, we can find records of societies, the union of which was represented by a mystic bond, and the secrets of which were kept in impenetrable obscurity. But the single circumstance of a resemblance in the existence of certain rites, can no more prove the brotherhood of which we are a part, to be identical with these associations of remote antiquity, than that we are Pagans or Infidels.
Our association, about fifteen years before the year of our Lord 1809, attracted attention in the kingdom of Great Britain. It flourished, but was not extensively known until that year, when in the organization of the Manchester Unity it received its present form; and having been purged of many objectionable features, assumed the shape under which it now appears, and commenced the well adjusted exercise of those charities which have supported it so long, and which we so carefully preserve.
At a much later day, the Order was introduced into the United States of America. In Baltimore, the first regular meeting of Odd Fellows in these States was held; and though the number was few, and the prospects far from bright, yet the spirit which presided at that meeting seemed to hallow the cause, and even in the poor material of which it was then composed, to prophesy the high future it would attain. Twenty years ago, five brothers of the Order assembled in that city to build for themselves an altar, on which they might nurse into a bright flame the few sparks of our fire, which slumbered in this vast country; now in the United States, in twenty-one States and Territories, the Order is firmly established, and thousands of altars support its holy fire, the gentlest gales from heaven breathing life into the flame, propitious and eager to raise our Order to that place of high distinction, where it shall remain one of the landmarks of time—the white stone of our generation-the pillar of the nineteenth century