Wisdom Strength Beauty

The Three Great Principles and Four Cardinal Virtues of Freemasonry

The Three Great Principles

Brotherly Love

Brotherly love is the sacred principle which combines and cements our fraternity in the practice of moral virtue and the pursuit of scientific attainment. By this generous sentiment, we are taught to divest ourselves of each selfish consideration and narrow prejudice, reflecting that we are united by a strict and endearing relation, as creatures of the same God, children of the same first parents, and Brethren of the same solid tie.


Relief is a duty which every man owes to his fellow man in consideration of the common infirmities of human nature : but stronger is the claim of those to whom we are voluntarily and reciprocally pledged in the bond of brotherly love and affection, and therefore unquestionably it is the right of Masons to rely upon each other for succor in the hour of need, by pecuniary aid, or by pro curing assistance, advice, and protection, according to their relative circumstances and conditions in life.


Truth is a principle of inimitable and eternal nature, derived from the great Father of Light, conformable with his holy will, and interwoven with the laws of his creation. It is the duty of every true Mason who seeks to walk according to the light, to make that sacred principle the guide of his words and actions, ever remembering that truth and wisdom are the same; and to him who makes truth the object of his search, that truth will assuredly prove the reward of his perseverance.

The Four Cardinal Virtues


Temperance is more peculiarly the virtue of prosperity, as it guards the soul against. Those insidious allurements by which its nobler feelings are too often corrupted. But her influence is not confined to the hour of prosperity alone: she forms the mind to a general habit of restraint over its appetites, its passions, and even its virtues; any of which, if allowed to acquire exclusive influence over the soul, would concentrate the faculties in a single point, absorb its feelings, and confine its energies, insensibly producing intolerance of sentiment, and degenerating into an excess scarcely less pernicious than vice itself. Temperance may, therefore, be styled the crown of all the virtues. Her influence, like the masters of the ancient lyre, can modulate the varied chords of lively sympathy, or generous feelings, till each acquires its due tone and vibration, and the whole become blended in one sweet accordant harmony.


Fortitude is that virtue which arms the soul against the storms of adversity, enables it to rise superior to distress and danger, and gives its strength to resist the temptations and allurements of vice. But this virtue is equally distant from impetuous rashness on the one hand, and from dishonest cowardice on the other. The truly brave neither shrink from the evils which they are constrained to encounter, nor rush on danger without feeling and estimating its full extent. Fortitude, therefore, differs from constitutional hardiness, as real benevolence is distinguished from weakness, being actuated not by a principle of blind instinctive daring, but by the nobler motives of virtuous energy. He who with steady aim pursues the course which wisdom recommends, and justice consecrates, can cheerfully meet the hour of trial, smile at impending danger, and contemn every sordid or unworthy motive which would deter or seduce him from the path of duty; whilst fearing God alone, he knows no other fear, and dares do all that does become a man—ever remembering, that he who dares do more is none.


Prudence may justly be defined the clear and distinct perception of the several relations between our actions and the purposes to which they are directed. In this view, it deserves to be considered as the first great principle of human wisdom; and justly has the Roman moralist declared, that where prudence rules the mind, fortune has no influence. The prudent man, before he engages in any enterprise, maturely reflects on the consequences which may probably result from it, balancing with steady deliberations the several probabilities of good and evil, extending his views into futurity, and revolving in his mind every circumstance of doubtful event affecting the end which he has in view, or the means which he purposes to use. He decides not hastily, and when he has decided, commits nothing to chance; but, comparing the three great periods of time with each other, from the reflection of the past regulates the present, and provides for the future; by which means he neither wastes his energies improvidently, nor meets the occurrences in life incautiously.


Justice As prudence directs us in the selection of the means most proper to attain our ends, so Justice teaches us to propose to ourselves such ends only as are consistent with our several relations to society, rendering to all, without distinction, those dues, which they are respectively entitled to claim from us ; bending with implicit obedience to the will of our Creator, and being scrupulously attentive to the sacred duties of life; zealous in our attachment to our native country; exemplary in our allegiance to the government under which we reside; treating our superiors with reverence, our equals with kindness, and to our inferiors, extending the benefit of admonition, instruction, and protection.

The distinguishing characters of a good Freemason are virtue, honor and mercy; and should those be banished from all other societies, may they ever be found in a Mason's breast.