Although almsgiving, or the pecuniary relief of the destitute, was not one of the original objects for which the Institution of Freemasonry was established, yet, as in every society of men bound together by a common tie, it becomes incidentally, yet necessarily, a duty to be practised by all its members in their individual as well as in their corporate capacity.
In fact, this virtue is intimately interwoven with the whole superstructure of the Institution, and its practise is a necessary corollary from all its principles.
At an early period in his initiation, the candidate is instructed in the beauty of Charity by the most impressive ceremonies, which are not easily forgotten, and which, with the same benevolent design, are repeated from time to time during his advancement to higher degrees, in various forms and under different circumstances.
“The true Mason,” says Bro. Pike, “must be, and must have a right to be, content with himself; and he can be so only when he lives not for himself alone, but for others who need his assistance and have a claim upon his sympathy.”
And the same eloquent writer lays down this rule for a Mason’s almsgiving: “Give, looking for nothing again, without consideration of future advantages; give to children, to old men, to the unthankful, and the dying, and to those you shall never see again; for else your alms or courtesy is not charity, but traffic and merchandise. And omit not to relieve the needs of your enemy and him who does you injury.”