IN this Degree you have been taught the important lesson, that none are entitled to advance in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, who have not by study and application made themselves familiar with Masonic learning and jurisprudence. The Degrees of this Rite are not for those who are content with the mere work and ceremonies, and do not seek to explore the mines of wisdom that lie buried beneath the surface. You still advance toward the Light, toward that star, blazing in the distance, which is an emblem of the Divine Truth, given by God to the first men, and preserved amid all the vicissitudes of ages in the traditions and teachings of Masonry. How far you will advance, depends upon yourself alone. Here, as everywhere in the world, Darkness struggles with Light, and clouds and shadows intervene between you and the Truth.
When you shall have become imbued with the morality of Masonry, with which you yet are, and for some time will be exclusively occupied,--when you shall have learned to practice all the virtues which it inculcates; when they become familiar to you as your Household Gods; then will you be prepared to receive its lofty philosophical instruction, and to scale the heights upon whose summit Light and Truth sit enthroned. Step by step men must advance toward Perfection; and each Masonic Degree is meant to be one of those steps. Each is a development of a particular duty; and in the present you are taught charity and benevolence;
to be to your brethren an example of virtue; to correct your own faults; and to endeavor to correct those of your brethren.
Here, as in all the Degrees, you meet with the emblems and the names of Deity, the true knowledge of whose character and attributes it has ever been a chief object of Masonry to perpetuate. To appreciate His infinite greatness and goodness, to rely implicitly upon His Providence, to revere and venerate Him as the Supreme Architect, Creator, and Legislator of the universe, is the first of Masonic duties.
The Battery of this Degree, and the five circuits which you made around the Lodge, allude to the five points of fellowship, and are intended to recall them vividly to your mind. To go upon a brother's errand or to his relief, even barefoot and upon flinty ground; to remember him in your supplications to the Deity; to clasp him to your heart, and protect him against malice and evil-speaking; to uphold him when about to stumble and fall; and to give him prudent, honest, and friendly counsel, are duties plainly written upon the pages of God's great code of law, and first among the ordinances of Masonry.
The first sign of the Degree is expressive of the diffidence and humility with which we inquire into the nature and attributes of the Deity; the second, of the profound awe and reverence with which we contemplate His glories; and the third, of the sorrow with which we reflect upon our insufficient observance of our duties, and our imperfect compliance with His statutes.
The distinguishing property of man is to search for and follow after truth. Therefore, when relaxed from our necessary cares and concerns, we then covet to see, to hear, and to learn somewhat; and we esteem knowledge of things, either obscure or wonderful, to be the indispensable means of living happily. Truth, Simplicity, and Candor are most agreeable to the nature of mankind. Whatever is virtuous consists either in Sagacity, and the perception of Truth; or in the preservation of Human Society, by giving to every man his due, and observing the faith of contracts; or in the greatness and firmness of an elevated and unsubdued mind; or in observing order and regularity in all our words and in all our actions; in which consist Moderation and Temperance.
Masonry has in all times religiously preserved that enlightened faith from which flow sublime Devotedness, the sentiment of Fraternity fruitful of good works, the spirit of indulgence and peace,