ACCORDING to the ethics of Freemasonry, it is made a duty obligatory upon every member of the Order to conceal the faults of a brother, that is , not to blazon forth his errors and infirmities, to let them be learned by the world from some other tongue than his, and to admonish him of them in private.
So there is another but a like duty or obligation, which instructs him to whisper good counsel in his brother’s ear and to warn him of approaching danger.
And this refers not more to the danger that is without and around him than to that which is within him; not more to the peril that springs from the concealed foe who would waylay him and covertly injure him, than to that deeper peril of whose faults and infirmities which lie within his own heart, and which, if not timely crushed by good and earnest resolution of amendment, will, like the ungrateful serpent in the fable, become warm with life only to sting the bosom that has nourished them.
Admonition of a brother’s fault is, then, the duty of every Mason, and no true one will, for either fear or favor, neglect its performance.
But as the duty is Masonic, so is there a Masonic way in which that duty should be discharged.
We must admonish not with self-sufficient pride in our own reputed goodness; not in imperious tones, as though we looked down in scorn upon the degraded offender; not in language that, by its harshness, will wound rather than win, will irritate more than it will reform; but with that persuasive gentleness that gains the heart — with the all subduing influences of “mercy unrestrained;” with the magic might of love; with the language and the accents of affection, which mingle grave displeasure for the offense and with grief and pity for the offender.
This and this alone, is Masonic admonition. I am not to rebuke my brother in anger, for I, too, have my faults, and I dare not draw around me the folds of my garment lest they should be polluted by my neighbor’s touch.
But I am to admonish in private, not before the world, for that would degrade him; and I am to warn him, perhaps from my own example, how vice ever should be followed by sorrow, for that goodly sorrow leads to repentance, and repentance to amendment, and amendment to joy.