Universal Love recommended IN A SERMON Preached before the Ancient and Honourable SOCIETY OF Free and Accepted MASONS, IN Trinity-Church, BOSTON, ON Wednesday the 1st of October, 1755.

By Arthur Browne, A.M. Missionary from the SOCIETY, for propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts, at PORTSMOUTH, NEW-HAMPSHIRE.

Published at the Request of the Society.

1 Epist. Joh. ii. 10. He that loveth his Brother abideth in the Light.

BOSTON; NEW-ENGLAND: Printed for J. & T. LEVERETT, in Cornhill. M,DCC,LV.


At a GRAND LODGE, Held in the Concert-Hall, in BOSTON, on Wednesday the 1st Day of October, 1755.

It was unanimously Agreed, THAT our Right Worshipful Bro­thers, Henry Price, Benjamin Hal­lowell, James Forbes, Robert Jenkins, and Hugh McDaniel, be a Committee, to wait upon our Brother, the Rev. Mr. Arthur Browne, and return him the Thanks of this SOCIETY for his Sermon, Preached this Day before them; and that he be Re­quested to give a Copy of the same for the Press.

John Leverett, Grand Secretary


To the Right Worshipful JEREMY GRIDLEY, Esq Provincial Grand Master of NORTH-AMERICA; Mr. BENJAMIN HALLOWELL, Deputy Grand Master; Mr. JAMES FORBES, Mr. ROBERT JENKINS, Grand Wardens.

The Right Worshipful PETER LEIGH, Esq Provincial Grand Master of SOUTH-CAROLINA; And Others the Worshipful BROTHERS and FELLOWS Of the Ancient and Honourable SOCIETY OF Free and Accepted MASONS: This SERMON, Preached and Published at their Request, is DEDICATED, By their most affectionate Brother, and humble Servant, ARTHUR BROWNE.


Universal Love recom­mended.

13th St. JOHN 34.

A new Commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another.

AS it is highly probable, that I am upon this occasion, to discourse to persons of several denominations, I have pitched upon a sub­ject equally interesting and obligatory upon all. For though we may differ and dispute about things of an inferior nature, yet in the duty of universal bene­volence, which St. Paul makes the fulfilling of the law; (and is the chief corner-stone, on which this antient fra­ternity is founded; at whose desire I appear [...]e this day:) It would be uncharitable even to suspect a disa­greement.

[Page 8] WE are sent into this world, necessitous weak creatures, necessarily depending upon one another for the supply of manifold wants, and a great part of the positive comforts and enjoyments of life; It has therefore pleased the infi­nitely wise and good Author of our beings, to provide a remedy against those evils, to which the indigency and frailty of our state subject us, by forming us with disposi­tions of charity, with tender, social, friendly, and generous affections for one another, which ought carefully to be cherished and cultivated, in order to remove, at least alle­viate the miseries that abound in the world, and to pro­mote the ease and happiness of every individual.

THIS love according to a great * philosopher, results from the grounds of affinity and resemblance among men. And if so, must be a branch of the primitive law of nature.

AND it appears from Lev. xix. 18. that it was an ac­knowledged precept of the Jewish Religion.—How then comes it to pass, that love is enjoined as a new command­in the gospel, and is made a peculiar characteristic of the christian religion? The answer is, both Jews and Gentiles (it is allowed) did adopt this precept into their respective religions, but they maintain'd it in a very limi­ted and contracted sense: They made all their concerns terminate in themselves. As to the Gentiles, this in some [Page 9]measure appears, from our blessed LORD'S reasoning with his disciples in the IVth of St. Matthew's gospel, upon this very subject; where he informs them, that if they did not extend their love to such as were their enemies, they had no distinguishing excellency: for if they loved those only who loved them, what Reward had they? Do not even Publicans (who were heathens by profession) do the same? You see the foundation and extent of the duty as observed by the Gentiles.

AND the Jews were as shamefully deficient: for by one another, or neighbour, which seem to be terms equi­valent, they understood only a Jew, one of their own nation or a proselyte at most; and the law, Lev. xix. that enjoins, the duty favours this sense: Thou shalt not bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The children of thy peo­ple, and neighbour, seem to express the same thing. GOD had fenced them in with ordinances, on purpose to keep them a separate and distinct nation from all other nations, who were stigmatized as aliens from the common-wealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise.

BUT now, blessed be GOD! the wall of partition be­ing broken down, and GOD discovered to be no respecter of persons; the laws of our common LORD, and the mer­cies of redemption, extending at least to all, within the [Page 10]sound of the gospel: For as by the offence of one, judg­ment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one, the free-gist came upon all men to jus­tification of life. The blood of CHRIST cementing all mankind together, by his tasteing death for every man, and the favour of GOD being so universally extended, as to invite all men, to mercy: Our duty must necessa­rily be co-extended with his grace, and our charity must con [...] in imitating our LORD and Saviour.

By the laws of our religion therefore, we are to carry on benevolence to the utmost compass and extent; to enemies as well as friends; to all without exception with­in the sphere of our authority.

Well then, and with the greatest propriety did our blessed LORD call this duty of loving one another, a new commandment, since to the extent and measure of it, the world were altogether strangers before.

A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another.

In discoursing on the words, I shall first endeavour to shew, wherein this love to one another consists.

In the second place, shall consider the object of this love.

[Page 11] Thirdly, The excellency of it.

AND, in the last place, hope I shall be able to make it appear, that the antient fraternity of free and accepted MASONS, is governed by the principle of universal love; and other, the most important principles of morality in all their proceedings.

First, I am to endeavour to shew, wherein love to one another consists.

MORALISTS usually distinguish between a love of esteem, and complacency, and of benevolence and good­will: And the distinction is just, for it is impossible in the very nature of the thing, to love every individual with complacency and esteem; but benevolence may, and ought to be extended to all. The actions and quali­ties of men, do not only differ in their own nature, but in some respects are often contrary to one another. Good and evil are as opposite as pain and pleasure, the nature of things is unalterable. Some persons must therefore ap­pear amiable and agreeable, others disagreeable and odi­ous: If men are unjust, and injurious, we can neither ap­prove their actions, nor be delighted with their charac­ters: If they are debauched and prophane, we are obli­ged to withdraw from their society and conversation, be­cause consorting with, and delighting in the company of such persons, if it does not discover an entire approbation [Page 12]of their ways, yet, at the least, it argues a very indiffer­ent concern for the honour of GOD.

BUT however we may disapprove of the conduct of such persons, and detest their proceedings; yet we are to wish well to them, to promote their temporal, and spi­ritual happiness, as we have opportunity, and that fervent­ly, and with a pure heart. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth, (says St. Peter,) through the spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren; see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently. 1 Pet. i. 20, 21.

AND have we not a glorious example to imitate, the Fa­ther of all spirits, the almighty architect of heaven and earth, who is loving, and gracious unto all, showers down his blessings, without distinction upon the just, and on the unjust; is bountiful even to his profest enemies, the ob­jects of his wrath and indignation.

But still his favour and esteem without reformation can­not be expected; so far from it, that such iniquity is an abomination to him, yet, notwithstanding he earnestly seeks their recovery, and desires their welfare. So plain is the distinction between that love which consists in benevolence, and that of complacency and esteem.

BUT instead of duly observing this distinction, men are led to entertain very false notions of the duty; and [Page 13]by confounding these ideas, do represent it to themselves and others, in a very wrong light, and thereby magnify the difficulty of putting it in practice.—Is it possible say they, for a man to love his enemy! one that injuriously treats him, and would willingly ruin and destroy him? Is this consistent with the great law of self-preservation? Is it reconcilable with reason?

Now I readily allow, that our corrupted nature instead of submitting to, and acknowledging the reasonableness of the precept, seems to dictate quite the reverse, repre­sents it highly unreasonable to love such as would ruin or destroy us.—Before any man can discover the fitness and propriety of such practice, he must be freed from the influence of natural corruption, and rais'd above the level of human reason; he must entertain a very exalted opinion of the christian religion; must be possessed with a generous love for the author of it, with true faith in him, and the promises of another life, in order to over­ballance his natural sentiments, and aversions in the case, to qualify him to think and practise so disagreeably to nature.

THERE can be no such love, (it is granted) where the fleshly principle rules, and acts. For all its motions and suggestions have respect only to self; the pleasures, the honours, the riches of this life. And while these things [Page 14]are only pursued; and the law in the members prevails, this rule will be altogether impracticable: For it is not to be conceived, that a covetous, or intemperate man should love others, as well as he does himself. But when once this corrupt principle, and the suggestions that spring from it are mortified and corrected, and grace gains the ascen­dant; when the spirit of GOD once takes possession of the man, it will produce true christian love; for one of the fruits of the spirit is love. This will attract our minds to GOD, kindle in us a lively flame after him, and necessarily unite us to such as bear his image; not from any mean, pitiful motives of interest, but from the spiritual alliance we contract with him, and one another; which disposes us to perform his commands, to desire his favours, to imitate his actions and example, as well as those of his beloved SON, resembling them both, as much, and as near as possible.—This is loving one another, accord­ing to the new commandment; i. e. from and upon a christian principle.

OH! the infinite goodness of GOD! notwithstanding our baseness, our ingratitude for all his favours; yet He still discovers a disposition of doing us good, is grieved at our folly and misery; freely forgives the one, and cures the other, upon our sincere endeavours of returning to him. Oh! the incomprehensible love of CHRIST the REDEEMER! who died for us, when we were enemies [Page 15]to him. And shall not we love one another, love the very worst of men, wish them well, pray for them, do them good, forgive them, tho' they curse, hate, and dis­pitefully use us? Nay, lay down our lives for their ser­vice, (if need be) after the example of our gracious SAVIOUR. What generous, what disinterested love is this that the christian religion inculcates and displays to the world? Upon what exalted motives and considerations does it turn. A perfect contempt of all earthly interest, all temporal applause.

SUCH a love was certainly new, when it first appeared among our LORD's disciples: And I am sorry to say that an exertion of it in its full extent would appear as new now, as it was then, even among those that profess them­selves his most zealous followers.

HAVING shewn wherein a due discharge of the com­mandment in the text consists, I shall now consider the ob­ject of this love, one another. That is, all mankind; all who partake of the common nature with ourselves wherever dispers'd. But because our powers are limitted, the sacred writings with the greatest propriety recommend this be­nevolence to our neighbours more particularly; to those with whom we are more immediately converse, and are acquainted. The Jews by neighbour, as has been already observed, understood one of their own nation. And when [Page 16]this duty was press'd upon them, they were wont to con­fider it in a very confined and limited sense.

BUT our blessed LORD corrected their contracted notion of the duty, and set it in a more extensive and just light, in answer to a question proposed by a lawyer; which was exactly to the Point.

THE question was, and who is my neighbour?

HERE I beg leave to observe, that as the eternal SON of GOD descended from the bosom of his father, to instruct the world in a new righteousness, to lay before them many unacceptable doctrines to flesh and blood; He often chose to address them in the parabolick way, as the most engaging method to win over the well dis­posed to hear and apply, and to print his lessons in the most lively and lasting characters on their minds.

THUS he proceeds in the present case, and resolves the lawyer's question, by proposing a parable, which is expressed in the strongest, and most engaging manner. Luk. x. 30, &c. A certain man went down from Jeru­salem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance, there came down a cer­tain priest that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came, and looked on him, and passed by on the [Page 17]other side. But a certain Samaritane, as he journeyed, came where be was. And when he saw him, he had com­passion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow, when he departed, he took out two-pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, he that shewed mercy on him. Then said JESUS unto him, go, and do thou likewise. i. e. Thou hast answered thyself: Every person that stands in need of thy relief, be he Jew or Samaritane, is thy neighbour; and to him are thy good offices to be extended.

BUT is our benevolence to be equally extended to all? This I do not maintain.—We are undoubtedly to do good unto all men, but the Text gives a preference to some, especially to them that are of the houshold of faith.

'TIS highly reasonable that the most lovely objects should be the greater partakers of our love. There is nothing so amiable as true goodness. Commensurate then to this, ought the degree of our love to be. GOD is the object of our greatest love, because he is perfectly and originally good. As men then more or less resemble [Page 18]him, the greater or the less complacency ought we to take in them, and the less ardently to desire, or endeavour to promote their welfare. True christian love chiefly consists, in loving his image, from whom we are denomi­nated christians: Where that displays itself with most advantage, there, in a proportionable degree, is our love to take place. Indeed nature as well as scripture prescribes different degrees of love, in proportion to the amiableness and value of the object. But this does not at all affect the point I have in view, which is, that our love is to extend to all, though not in the same degree, that we are to desire, and as far as is in our power, to promote the happiness of every man living.

THE excellency of this duty is now to be considered. The beloved disciple seems to be in raptures, whenever he discourses of love; he makes it the very essence of the Deity. GOD is love. He makes it the only sure mark of our regeneration; we know, that we have pas­sed from death to life, because we love the brethren. St. Paul also earnestly inculcates the same duty.—Owe no man any thing, (says he,) but to love one another, for he that loveth another, hath fulfilled the law. In short, he prefers this grace to all other endowments, and accom­plishments; indeed none of them in his judgment were of any consequence without it. 1 Cor. xiii. 1, 2, 3, 4. For though I speak with the Tongues of men and angels, and [Page 19]have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, and a thinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing: And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Here we have the excellency of charity sufficiently dis­played; but our blessed SAVIOUR gives it the finishing stroke, being pleased to make it the distinguishing character of his disciples. Joh. xiii. 35. By this (says he,) shall all men know, that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another; He likewise particularly prays, that this Grace might animate and influence them, that they may be all one, as thou father art in me, and I in thee; i. e. united in love, having one heart and one soul: And for this be assigns a most important reason; that the world may believe, that thou hast sent me. Joh. xvii. 21. Here are the highest encomiums conceivable, passed upon this grace; and this without any other, is a sufficient proof of its excellency, since it evinces the truth of christianity, when it manifests itself in the lives of its professors.

I am now to shew, that the antient fraternity of free and accepted MASONS is governed by the universal love; and make it with other moral principles of the greatest importance, the rule of all their proceedings.

[Page 20] FOR the truth of this assertion, I must refer the inqui­sitive to the book of constitutions, published by the au­thority and approbation of the whole society of MASONS, wherein it is thus declared;

‘You must avoid all wrath, malice, and rancor, not saying or doing any thing that may hinder either the continuance, or the renewal of brotherly love and friendship, which is the glory and cement of this an­cient fraternity; that we may shew to all the world the benign influence of MASONRY; all, all wise and true brothers have done from the beginning of time, and will do, 'till architecture be dissolved in the ge­neral conflagration.’—Again, ‘free and accepted MASONS have been ever charged to avoid all slander­ing and backbiting, all malice or unjust resentment.’— But in nothing does this spirit of universal love more clearly manifest itself, than in the admission of members into the society; from which neither rich nor poor are excluded, provided they are duly qualified; i. e. ‘are good men and true, men of honour and honesty, by whatever names, religion, or perswasions they may be distinguished;’ which excellent institution has been a means of conciliating persons, who otherwise must have lived (without extraordinary interposition,) in perpetual discord and contention. In that book we are also directed ‘to speak evil of no man, to heal all differences, to [Page 21]compose all animosities, and diligently and faithfully to perform all social duties, as good husbands, good pa­rents, good sons, and good neighbours.’—With regard to the dispensing of charity so very common among us; we are governed by that apostolic rule, (which all chari­table societies we presume, strictly observe,) of preferring those, who are more nearly related to us; and then indis­criminately extending our relief to the necessitous and indigent, according to their several circumstances and recommendations.

THIS I think sufficient to shew how great a regard MASONS pay to the duty of universal love. And as to other duties of morality, be it known; ‘that profaneness, and all manner of vice are destructive to the very genius of MASONRY; it is repugnant to the beauty and harmonious order of this honourable society to ad­mit tale-bearers, bablers, or liars, litigious or quarrelsome persons, habitual drunkards, enemies to religion or go­vernment among them. Nor can any member, that rightly understands, and acts agreably to his profession, be a disbeliever of GOD and his providence, or refuse due honour and obedience to the King, and all that are in authority under him.’

As a civil society, it is true, we do not presume to meddle with the religion of the blessed JESUS, nor con­cern [Page 22]ourselves with politics: To this prudence directs; we are no strangers to the various tempers and dispositions of men; and therefore decline interfering with things of so nice, so delicate, and tender a nature, in which we have no right to determine, and which we very well know may create animosities, and disturb the peace, union, har­mony, and love that prevails among us; upon the account of which we do rejoice, yea, and we will rejoice.—

IN points therefore of so concerning and important a nature, every member is left to the enjoyment of his own private opinion, to the perswasion of his own mind.—And I think it may not be amiss to observe upon this occasion, that the religion of the ever blessed JESUS, is too solemn, too sacred a subject to be made the topick of common conversation. To discourse idly, flippantly, and incon­siderately upon it, is doing it dishonour. Certain prepa­ration is necessary to qualify us for this work; to which I fear, many of its most zealous espousers are altogether strangers.

‘SUCH are the principles, such the practices, upon which this ancient society is established; such the re­gulations by which it is supported, such the ends for which it i calculated; to investigate and propagate useful knowledge; to promote, to continue unity, peace, and love, by a faithful discharge of all the offi­ces [Page 23]of an unfeigned charity, and generous friendship. And all these in due subordination to the most excel­lent, and everlasting precepts of the grand master, the glorious, the incomparable builder of the christian church.’

WE are neither so wicked, or so vain, to imagine that human injunctions can carry such authority, such influ­ence, as those that are divine; but think we are entitled to the same natural rights which all other well constituted societies do claim, of making such laws and regulations, and even distinguishing ourselves, by some peculiarities, that may secure our constitution from violence and en­croachment; without impeachment, or reflection, without giving offence either to GOD or man.

AND now it might be expected, that even envy itself could find no objection to so inoffensive, so useful a fra­ternity! But, why should we expect to escape the cen­sure, and reproach of licentious and reviling tongues; when the great, the glorious author of the christian scheme, the only begotten, the everlasting SON of the FATHER, without sin, without guile, met with the most violent op­position, which ceased not but with his death, from the bands of ignorant men; as St. Peter testifies, Act. 3. 17. And now brethren, I wot, that thro' ignorance ye did it, as did also their rulers.

[Page 24] LET us follow the steps of this unparallelled pattern, who when he was reviled, reviled not again, when he suffered, he threatned not, but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously. Such behaviour will recom­mend us to the approbation of the generous, and impar­tial; and at least put to silence our adversaries, tho' their prejudices and aversion should still subsist and continue.

AFTER all, we are not ashamed to acknowledge, that our constitution is imperfect, and liable to abuse; the best of human institutions is so, and may suffer acciden­tally in the opinion of the world thro' the indiscretion of their members: But surely the unworthiness of an indi­vidual should never reflect dishonour upon a whole body, or profession of men: If so, farewell christianity, farewell the perfect and unerring law of GOD.

‘THRO' the carelessness and negligence of watchmen, persons of impure lives and manners may creep into our society, and bring disgrace to our most friendly structure,’ but candor and generosity will cease to im­pute their crimes to us, when we openly renounce, and bear testimony against them.

AND may You RIGHT WORSHIPFUL (to whom the in­spection and care of the lodges in North-America are so safely intrusted) be directed to the most effectual me­thods of guarding against all such impositions; may you [Page 25]fall upon such expedients (in conjunction with the wor­shipful masters and wardens of the several lodges) as may not only improve and perpetuate MASONRY, but also suppress all immoralities (if any such prevail or subsist among us) in conformity to the most excellent and unex­ceptionable pattern on the Mount; which prescribes the most equitable and wholsome rules of living: In a just observation of which, MASONS will undoubtedly square all their actions aright, and bring their passions upon a level with the excellent rules that are there laid down. "Then may we expect to taste and see, how good the LORD is." For the practice of religion may well be compared to the river of the Psalmist; the streams whereof make glad the city of GOD.

AND to you my well respected BRETHREN, a few words of ADDRESS may not be improper.—Let love be without dissimulation; let it be extended to all men, without regard to party disputes, or religious differences; and let this important truth be frequent in your thoughts; that before the almighty JUDGE, all must stand or fall, according to their works, with or without our censure.— Use the blessings of Heaven with temperance and mode­ration; set bounds to your pleasures, and avoid all man­ner of excess: Let all spots and blemishes be absent from your meetings, more particularly from the entertainment provided for our present refreshment: And as our assem­bly [Page 26]is here begun in the house of GOD, let it be con­tinued in his fear, and conclude in promoting his honour and glory.

AND shall I be condemned! Will it now be thought improper! at the conclusion of a discourse calculated to promote universal love, and withal to display the affectio­nate tender regard that the brethren of this society are presumed to bear to one another: I say, can it be thought improper to manifest the thing in fact, by dropping a few tears on the grave, and doing some justice to the memory of a departed brother; I mean the Rev. Mr. Charles Brothwell.—A few words upon the occasion, will not, I flatter myself, be thought impertinent or tedious; (altho' I am sensible I have sufficiently trespass'd on your pati­ence already) For I know he was dear to some of you, in the several capacities of a good man, a good christian, a faithful pastor, and I will add upon the account of the craft (however mysterious it may be!) as a good MASON.

HE was an honest and an orthodox man, noted for his zeal, which was according to knowledge; a workman that needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth; boldly rebuking vice, and espousing the cause of the GOD of Israel upon all occasions.

WHETHER we have respect to the faith, the life, the doctrine of our departed brother, we shall find cause to [Page 27]glorify GOD, and to comfort ourselves with a well­grounded hope, that he still continues to live in CHRIST; the souls of the righteous are in the hands of GOD.— His views were not earthly; his treasure, his heart was in heaven; so that when the alarming summons came (as I have been credibly informed) he discovered no reluc­tance in obeying it, but patiently submitted to the stroke, with hopes full of immortality, and a joyful expectation of a glorious resurrection.—Let us not lament then, but congratulate one another upon the glorious exchange our brother has made: He is parted from us for a while, but we may meet again in Glory. In the mean time, Let us shew our regard and affection to him, by extending our pity, compassion and charity to the distrest Relict, who addresses us in the words of one of the wives of the sons of the Prophets; 2 Kings 4. 6. Thy servant my husband is dead, and thou knowest that thy servant did serve the LORD.—Take the case into consideration; remember the hands that have been lifted up at the altar: Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, by extending your christian benevolence to the widow of your pastor, and your brother.

Now to GOD the FATHER, GOD the SON, and GOD the HOLY GHOST, be ascribed all power, glory, might, majesty, and dominion, now and for evermore.


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