Hoosack Valley Lodge.

Constitution by-laws and rules of Hoosack Valley Lodge, number one hundred & twenty-nine : I.O. of O.F. instituted at South Adams, Mass online

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Online LibraryHoosack Valley LodgeConstitution by-laws and rules of Hoosack Valley Lodge, number one hundred & twenty-nine : I.O. of O.F. instituted at South Adams, Mass → online text (page 1 of 3)
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L O. of O. F.

Instituted at South. Adams, Mass.





In presenting the public with our Constitution and By-
Laws, it is but just that lliey should be accompanied with
at least a br^^f notice of the principles, tendency and his-
tory of the Order. The principles and tendency of any
system demand exposition ; both for its own sake and for
the sake of the community. Principles are frequently
judged of, not by the fair operation of those principles,
but by the acts of professors. Hence, pure doctrines,
and schemes of good, darkened and distorted to the vision of
the world, are denounced and ridiculed ; when, had they
been clearly exhibited, these erroneous judgments would
have been refuted and these misunderstandings rectified —
they would have been joyfully adopted and would have
triumphantly prevailed. Even holy and inspired religion
has suffered from such causes. She has been despised
and persecuted, and from within her own temples bave
arisen her deadliest foes. Cunning ambition, perverting
her spiritual precepts, has reached after thrones and dia-
dems : — mad fanaticism has shouted from her battlements:
— narrow-minded bigotry, and drunken zeal, have sharp-
ened instruments of torture in her name :- -envy, hate,
and war have gone out from her ; and thus from the acts
of her own professed votaries, has the world lost sight
of her principles of judgment, faith, and mercy; and has
considered the evil acts of these instead: — cold hearts
have therefore been given to her pure teachings, and the
finger of contempt, and the scornful smile of unbelief have
been bent upon her real messengers. If, then, a system
emanating from the throne of omnipotence, on account of
a perversion and m.isjudgment of its principles, would
have utterly perished from the earth, but that it is upheld
by an almighty arm— what may we not rationally expect



for those which partake more of the earthly and human
in their character? Therefore, for the sake of a sys-
tem ITSELF, its principles should be exhibited.

The principle of association, that has wrought such
wonders in this age, and in every department of society,
has been adopted by our order; and we unite in social
compact, for our own mutual benefit, and for the specific
purpose of extending to the sick, the widow, and orphan,
efficient and timely aid. The experience of years has
proved, that, though our regular contributions to the treas-
ury are, in themselves, but trifling, still they afford abun-
dant means for affording effectual relief to all our needy
members ; and we are not aware that a single instance
has occured, where a lodge has not been able to meet all
the demands of this kind that have been niade upon its
treasury. And we may safely say, that ui^r our pres-
ent organization and regulations, no poor brother will
want the necessaries of life — no widow will go out to beg
— no orphan be left uneducated. Such things have not
been known amongst us, and they will not occur. Our
means, then, are sufficient to carry out our objects.

And then, again, we save the distressed from the hu-
miliating necessity of asking for charity. The mpmber of
this institution, by the payment of a small sum xveekly,
fully within the reach of every man in health, secures to
himself a positive right, not to a trifle of charity to be
meted out at pleasure, but to a liberal and specified amount
in time of sickness and distress. He secures to his wife
in case of his demise, a like specified sum, and to his
children the means of an education. The sick brother,
therefore appeals not to his lodge m the character of a
petitioner for alms. But he goes to a fund which he has
himself, in part, created ; and in the full consciousness
of his independence, he claims that which is his own, by
virtue of the very terms of the compact into which he has
entered. There is here no crushing of the spirits,no com-
promise of the dignity of the rnan, no humbling of that
laudable pride that every man ought to feel in being able
to provide for himself. So of the widow 3 she comes not
to the lodge as a beggar. But she comes with the knowl-
edge of her rights, and she demands that boon for whicti
she knows her husband has paid. She asks no stinted
charity, to be dealt out by the miserly hand of avarice. —
But she asks that which is her own. So, also, with the


orphan." He comes not to our halls to crave alms, as an
humble mendicant ; but in the consciousness of Ins right,
he claims care, protection and education, by virtue of
what his father has done and paid. It is his inheritance
from his father, and wo to the lodge, or the man, that
would withhold it, or rob him of his portion. There is
therefore none of that sinking of the spirits or searing of
the heart, which is attendant upon the course of the beg-
gar, ana especially upon contact with the unfeeling, who
turn the needy away empty.

Against the imposition of unworthy applicants for the
benetits of the order we are secured by our secrecy. — ■
There are,with us "certain well-known signs and tokens,"
knovvn only to Odd Fellows, and by which we have the
means of knowing whether a man is, or is not, what he
professes to be. No matter what these signs are. If
they were no more than taking oflF the hat with the left
hand instead of the right, as is usual, yet you see at once,
if ^^ were an inviolable secret, and known only to an
OciPFellow, no impostor could deceive us. And here let
us say, that the only earthly use of all our signs is to
preserve us from imposition. Their utility consists only
in the fact that they are secrets. And if you ask, why
we do not make them known? Our answer is, that if
vie should do so they would cease to be of any utility to
us or any other person. They would serve us no better
purpose than the private msrk of the merchant if every
one knew the key by which to read i't. Should you ask.
why we cannot as well secure ourselves against imposi-
tion without these secrets, as a common benefit society I
Our reply is, if we were confined, like such institutions,
to one place, we could do so. But you will bear in mind
that ours is a widely extended fraternity, scattered over
the length and breadth of this vast continent, crossing the
waters and spreading over Europe ; and when the stran-
ger comes from afar, and presents a certificate, perhaps in
a foreign language, we are bound to relieve his wants;—
but how do we know that this certificate is not a forgery,
or even that he is the man in whose name it is given ?
we need, in such cases, security greater than a mere lo-
cal institution; and this we have in our secrecy. We
cannot be deceived ; but when we relieve a distressed
brother we have the satisfaction of knowing that he is
an Odd Fellow, and as such, has done a share at least, to

relieve others similarly situated. That the Institution is
perfect we cannot pretend, for what offspring of human
\lisdom is faultless ? But we point you to the fact that
this is a world of suffering, that sickness and poverty may,
and death positively will come, and that suffering does
exist, in nameless forms, through all the world. And we
present ours as an institution that combines many advan-
tages for securing the most efifectual mitigation of these

We avow it as our firm conviction, that there is no insti-
tution on earth which has done and is doing more, in pro-
portion to its numbers, for the benefit of the distressed and
the poor. For this reason alone, we feel a cheering con-
fidence, that when the objects and works of this institu-
tion are known, they will be appreciated ; and we invoke
upon it, in an especial manner, the srrnles and the appro-
bation of our fair friends, who of all others, are most inter-
ested in its objects. We say most interested, because it
is upon the tender and delicate female that the v\^|«ht
of adversity falls most heavily, and is felt most sevSwly.
When man's strong arm is feeble with disease, and the
means of subsistence for his dependent family are cut off,
he may indeed suffer ; but more keen, by far, are the suf-
ferings of his companion, who, in addition to her midnight
watchings, is borne down with new and numerous cares
and oppressed with fearful apprehensions of the future. —
So when death comes, and cuts down the husband and
the father, when the'hearthstone is desolate, and the stay
and support of the family is laid in the grave, the orphans
indeed may weep ; but happily for them, they cannot ap-
preciate their loss ; and though crushed for a moment,
their buoyant spirits soon recover from the shock ; and
as bright visions of hope dance from their eyes, they
will look up and smile through their tears. But it is
not so with the wife and the mother. Upon her head
comes the fury of the storm. Worn down with wea'-y
watchings, she feels that a new and weighty responsibility
has devolved upon her ; the present is dreary, and the fu-
ture dark and cheerless, and she feels not for herself a-
lone, but more keenly than all, for the tender babes that
are left unprotected in the world. To afford all the re-,
lief that human aid can afford, in seasons like these, is the
prime object of our institution ; and for this cause, we
conceive that woman should be the last to raise her voica
against it.


Man alone, under ordinary circumstances, can b?'
his way through the difficulties and dangers of life;
for his own sake, he might not, perhaps, so much
the security afforded by such an institution as tliis.
if he have a wife and children, they may be left alon
and for her sake and theirs, a provident care fur tht
Ture should admonish him of the propriety of securing .
them, against the day of triai^ that friendly and efficient
aid which this institution so certainly extends.

There is still another feature in our institution, which
is worthy of a passing notice. We allude to its influence
upon human character through the social disposition of
man. We are social beings, formed for converse, and
social communion with our fellow creatures. We would
not be alone, but instinctively we seek the society of our
brethren of the human race ; and to these associations, i.i
a great measure, we owe the formation of our characters.
We hold it to be one of the defects of our social system,
that. we are too much engaged in a desperate rush for the
"l^ves and fishes,'' and too little inclined to cultivate
our social faculties. We do indeed mingle with our fel-
low men, but it is in the bustle and confusion of business.
Intent upon our object, we hurry past each other in the
crowd, with a nod of recognition, or meet each other in
the sharp contest for gain. And when the labor of the day
is over, we sit down to count our "cent per cent," and
form our plans for the morrow. Possibly we may spend an
hour with^ few select friends ; but they are men of sim-
ilar pursuits, or similar political or religious opinion^, and
all the world besides is to us as heathens and barbarians.
The consequence is that we become unsocial in our feel-
ings, and bigots to a creed, or slaves to a party. Who is
the sour-hearted bigot and partizan, but the' man who
knows nothing of the world but what he has learned in
communion with his own sect or his own party ? Who
the Ishmael, whose hand is against every man, but he
that, in the midst of a thronged world, dwells in a desert
alone ? To us as least, it appears evident that there is
need of an institution that will bring together men of va-
rious pursuits, and different parties and sects, and give
them a fellow feeling by uniting them in one work, thus
laying the foundation of a broader feeling of charity, a
more extended chain of social union.

Such is the InstitnM.on of which we are speaking. It


brings together men of every sect and party; and as they
mingle, from week to week, the rough corners of preju-
dice are sure to be battered off— and the sharp features of
hfird-faced bigotry to be smoothed and softened. Men
thus learn that there is virtue in every sect and in every
parly, and begin to indulge more far-reachings and expand-
ed feelings of kindness and charity. The golden chain of
friendship is lengthened and brightened, the social facul-
ties are improved, their sphere of operation enlarged, and
the partition walls that divide sect from sect, and party
from party, are broken down. The reason is obvious. —
There grows up naturally between men who commune
frequently with each other, in fiee and familiar, but yet
in dignified association, a feeling of brotherhood — a firmer
friendship than can exist between men who merely jostle
each other in the crowd, or in the confusion of business.
If charity of feeling, and broad principles of good will to
man, are worth possessing, it should always be remember-
ed that they will not grow up spontaneously in the clois-
ter of the monk, or the cell of the recluse. They must
proceed from, or rather be drawn out by, the social prin-
ciple of human nature, in a wide sense.' Furious and vin-
dictive party feelings exist alone in the man who associ-
ates with kindred spirits of his ov

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Online LibraryHoosack Valley LodgeConstitution by-laws and rules of Hoosack Valley Lodge, number one hundred & twenty-nine : I.O. of O.F. instituted at South Adams, Mass → online text (page 1 of 3)