From the book "Illustrations of Masonry"
by William Preston 1895
The most inveterate enemies of Masonry must acknowledge, that no society is more remarkable for the practice of charity, or any association of men more famed for disinterested liberality. It cannot be said that Masons indulge in convivial mirth, while the poor and needy pine for relief. Our quarterly contributions, exclusive of private subscriptions to relieve distress, prove that we are ever ready with cheerfulness, in proportion to our circumstances, to contribute to alleviate the misfortunes of our fellow-creatures. Considering, however, the variety of object, whose distress the dictates of Nature as well as the ties of Masonry incline us to relieve, we find it necessary sometimes to inquire into the cause of misfortunes; lest a misconceived tenderness of disposition, or an impolitic generosity of heart, might prevent us from making a proper distinction in the choice of objects. Though our ears are always open to the distresses of the deserving poor, yet our charity is not to be dispensed with a profuse liberality on impostors. The parents of a numerous offspring, who, through age, sickness, infirmity, or any unforeseen accident in life, are reduced to want, particularly claim our attention, and seldom fail to experience the happy effects of our friendly association. To such objects, whose situation is more easy to be conceived than expressed, we are induced liberally to extend our bounty. Hence we give convincing proofs of wisdom and discernment; for though our benevolence, like our laws, be unlimited, yet our hearts glow principally with affection toward the deserving part of mankind.
From this view of the advantages which result from the practice and profession of Masonry, every candid and impartial mind must acknowledge its utility and importance to the state; and surely , if the picture here drawn be just, it must be no trifling acquisition to any government, to have under its jurisdiction, a society of men, who are not only true patriots and loyal subject, but the patrons of science and the friends of mankind.