National Benevolent Society
Ritual of the Sublime Degree of Benevolence
This lecture to be given after regular lodge meeting.
Master calls lodge to order with two raps.
Master: Officers, take your respective stations; Brothers, be seated; Guard, secure the door and admit no one without permission of the Warden.
The Master will appoint members to fil1 the stations of absent officers, preference being given to experienced members of the Order.
Master, * *: Conductor, you will carefully examine each member present and learn if he is fully invested with the pass-word of Benevolence and the grip of the Sublime Degree.
Conductor tries each member, commencing with the Master. Taking position in front of the altar, Conductor gives recognition sign and says: Noble Master, all present are invested with the pass-word and grip, entitling them to enjoy the privilege of the Degree of Benevolence or reports adversely on any member.
Master, *: It is well. Resume your stations.
If any member has been reported adversely the Master now calls him before the altar and tries him.
If examination is satisfactory Master so announces, but if unsatisfactory Master instructs Conductor to conduct the member to an ante-room, and appoints a committee of two members and the Warden to further examine him and report.
Master, * *: Warden, what is your duty in the Lodge of the Sublime Degree of Benevolence?
Warden, rises, *: To lend my humble assistance in raising members of the National Benevolent Society to the Sublime Degree.
Master: Treasurer, what is your duty in the Lodge of the Sublime Degree of Benevolence?
Treasurer, rises and repeats answer of Warden.
Master: Chief Committeeman, what is your duty in the Lodge of the Sublime Degree of Benevolence?
Chief Committeeman rises and repeats answer of Warden.
Master: Recorder, what is your duty in the Lodge of the Sublime Degree of Benevolence?
Recorder, rises: To assist the Noble Master as he may direct.
Master: Inner Guard, what is your duty?
Inner Guard, rises: To obey the order of the Noble Master, and to see that the Outer Guard is at his post, and to further see that no person molest him, and to assist him should he summon me.
Master: Is he now at his post?
Inner Guard looks out: Noble Master, he is now at his post.
Master gives one rap. All take seats.
Master: Brother Warden, upon what occasion is this Noble Lodge assembled here this evening?
Warden, rising: To aid in its humble way in extending the Sublime Benevolent Degree.
Master: How can we best extent that Degree?
Warden: By perfecting ourselves in its work, and by adding acceptable initiated members of this Order to this Sublime Lodge.
Master: Are there any initiated brethren seeking admission to this Lodge?
Warden, rises: I will inquire of the Outer Guard.
Warden now retires to ante-room to prepare the candidate, who is instructed to walk with cane as if lame and blind.
Master: * * *, all rise. Appoints two lance bearers, who stand at left of Master, and one torch bearer. Torch bearer goes to ante-room at proper time. Master gives *, all take seats. Lights are lowered.
Violent raping at the ante-room.
Guard: An alarm, Master.
Master: Attend the alarm.
Guard, opening slide: Who comes?
Warden, for candidate: A blind wayfarer, who is in strange kinds and begs your hospitality.
Guard: Be gone, we have no alms to give or charity to bestow, go hence. Closes slide, turns
to Master: Master, it was only a blind wanderer, and I bade him be gone.
Master: Oh! cruel, cruel humanity, so it is where'er we go; no place for the unfortunate.
Guard, call him back and let us inaugurate a new and more humane manner of treating with the unfortunate.
Guard, opens slide and calls: Ho, stranger! the Master orders your presence.
Lets in Warden and candidate, torch and lance bearers take proper positions, all Past Masters assemble on the right of the Master, lights in hall are turned very low, leaving almost total darkness.
Master: Advance stranger and tell us your name.
Under guidance of Warden candidate advances to the altar.
Master: Is it your desire to receive charity or benevolence?
Master: Why not charity?
Answer: I will not beg for myself.
Master: Noble man, we welcome you to our household. You may now lie down safely and sleep, when you awake your other wants will be attended to.
Warden conducts candidate to a couch or rug on the floor on the side of the hall to the Master’s left, torch bearer will dim torch steals softly and stealthily into the hall from ante-room, glides up to the sleeper and steals from him his cane and then attempts to retreat.
Lancer: Stand, who are you; a thief in our midst. Ho! comrade, come quickly.
Both Lancers run and seize thief.
Lancer: Let's conduct him before the Master for sentence.
All three proceed to Master's station.
Lancer: Ho! Master, your Guards have served you well this night.
Master: Always well and nobly, my faithful Guards, but who have you here? It is now growing daylight, apace, and we shall soon see.
Lights are turned up.
Master: What do you here?
Culprit: It matters not.
Master: Insolent, I see now what you have done, stolen from the blind his only support. Wretch that thou art, thou shalt be treated as you deserve. Guards, to the dungeon with him.
Guards take him away.
Master: Warden, awake the stranger who accepted our shelter last night, we must make good his loss.
Warden awakens candidate and leads him to the Master.
Master: Unwittingly betrayed by those who would be your friends, you have been robbed of your only support, but in its place we will give you the support of this great and good Order, which will amply repay you for all you have lost.
Do you desire it? Candidate answers. Before so doing, it is necessary that you should take upon yourself an obligation of honor that will make you a noble and better man, and one that will not conflict with your duties to your family, country or church. Will you take it?
Master: Then with our Noble Warden's guidance go to the altar and place your right hand upon the emblem of the Society (Greek Cross), and repeat after me:
I, …, promise on my honor as a man and a citizen, that I will at all times strive to so live and conduct myself that my Brothers will honor the day that I was raised to the Degree of Benevolence. I promise that I will at all times be ready and willing to obey the summons of any brother who may be in distress, and that I will assist him as far as possible without injury to my family or myself; that I will at all times assist to secure him employment and retain the same; that I will not discharge a brother employed by me for a first offense; that I will not freely offer to bear witness against a brother if I think my testimony would result in injury to his family, and not save an injury to myself or my family.
I further agree and promise on my sacred honor not to cheat, defraud or wrong the National Benevolent Society, or any member whatsoever, and that I will at all times stand steadfast for its principles and honor.
To all of these I solemnly promise and agree on my honor as an honorable man.
All rise and form circle around candidate.
Master: Brother …, now having obligated himself he will pass from darkness.
Master: The lesson which has just been imparted to you is for the purpose of proving to you how helpless a man comes into the world, and how he is liable at any time to need the assistance and comfort of his fellowmen. No man could prosper or live without that assistance and support from his fellows which meets him at frequent turns. At times you may feel that the world is against you, and you may be refused aid, but a place always exists where you may find succor and assistance.
Let this lesson remind you, my brother, that you should at all times closely follow the obligation you have just taken, in spirit and in deed. You will now pass to the honorable roll of brothers and record your name therein.
Master: Brother Warden, you will now invest the candidate with the pass-word of Benevolence and the grip of the Sublime Degree.
Warden gives instruction.
Warden: Master, Brother … is now fully qualified to enter the Lodge.
Master, *, all take seats: An evening well spent, and honorable deeds performed. Let us now depart from here, and crown our work by our return to our firesides to make glad these who are not with us, but for whose welfare we have been striving this night.
Guard, attend the door and bid a happy return to each member of our fold.
* * * *. I now declare this Lodge closed. Good night, my Brethren, and may your homeward journey be a safe one, may your bond of Brotherly Love be strengthened by the lesson taught tonight, I bid you Godspeed.
Guard sees that all is safe after members have all gone.
This lecture to be given after regular lodge meeting.