If there are any candidates to be brought forward, that will be the first business to be attended to. I will therefore proceed with a description of the ceremonies used in the admission and initiation of a candidate into the first degree of Masonry.
A person wishing to become a Mason must get some one who is a Mason to present his petition to a lodge, when, if there are no serious objections, it will be entered on the minutes, and a committee of two or three appointed to enquire into his character, and report to the next regular communication. The following is a form of petition used by a candidate; but a worthy candidate will not be rejected for the want of formality in his petition:
To the Worshipful Master, Wardens and Brethren of Lodge No. —, of Free and Accepted Masons. The subscriber, residing in ——, of lawful age, and by occupation a ——, begs leave to state that, unbiased by friends, and uninfluenced by mercenary motives, he freely and voluntarily offers himself a candidate for the mysteries of Masonry, and that he is prompted to solicit this privilege by a favorable opinion conceived of the institution, a desire
of knowledge, and a sincere wish of being serviceable to his fellow creatures. Should his petition be granted, he will cheerfully conform to all the ancient established usages and customs of the fraternity.
A. B. At the next regular communication, (if no very serious objection appears against the candidate) the ballot boxes wilt be passed; one black ball will reject a candidate. The boxes may be passed three times. The Deacons are the proper persons to pass them. One of the boxes has black and white beans or balls in it, the other empty, the one with the balls in it goes before, and furnishes each member with a black and white ball; the empty box follows and receives them. There are two holes in the top of this box with a small tube, (generally) in each, one of which is black and the other white, with a partition in the box. The members put both their balls into this box as their feelings dictate; when the balls are received, the box is presented to the Master, Senior and Junior Wardens, who pronounce clear or not clear, as the case may be. The ballot proving clear, the candidate (if present) is conducted into a small preparation room, adjoining the lodge when he is asked the following questions and gives the following answers. Senior Deacon to Candidate, “Do you sincerely declare, upon your honor before these gentlemen, that, unbiased by friends, uninfluenced by unworthy motives, you freely and voluntarily offer yourself a candidate for the mysteries of Masonry?”
Ans. “I do.”
Senior Deacon to candidate. “Do you sincerely declare, upon your honor before these gentlemen, that you are prompted to solicit the privileges of Masonry by a favorable opinion conceived of the institution, a desire of knowledge, and a sincere wish of being serviceable to your fellow creatures?”
Ans. “I do.”
Senior Deacon to candidate, “Do you sincerely declare upon your honor before these gentlemen, that you will cheerfully conform to all the ancient established usages and customs of the fraternity?”
Ans. “I do.”
After the above questions are proposed and answered and the result reported to the Master, he says, ‘Brethren
at the request of Mr. A. B. he has been proposed and accepted in regular form. I therefore recommend him as a proper candidate for the mysteries of Masonry and worthy to partake of the privileges of the fraternity and in consequence of a declaration of his intentions, voluntarily made, I believe he will cheerfully conform to the rules of the order.”
The candidate during the time is divested of all his apparel (shirt excepted) and furnished with a pair of drawers kept in the lodge for the use of candidates. The candidate is then blindfolded, his left foot bare, his right in a slipper, his left breast and arm naked, and a rope called a Cable-tow round his neck and left arm, [the rope is not put round the arm in all lodges] in which posture the candidate is conducted to the door where he is caused to give, or the conductor gives three distinct knocks, which are answered by three from within; the conductor gives one more, which is also answered by one from within. The door is then partly opened and the Senior Deacon generally asks, “Who comes there? Who comes there? Who comes there?”
Having described all the ceremonies and forms appertaining to the opening of a lodge of Entered Apprentice Masons, setting them to work, initiating a candidate, and closing the lodge, I will now proceed too give the lecture on this degree. It is divided into three sections. The lecture is nothing more or less than a recapitulation of the preceding ceremonies and forms, by way of question and answer, and fully explains the same. In fact, the ceremonies and forms (generally Masonically called the work) and lectures are so much the same that he who possesses a knowledge of the lectures cannot be destitute of a knowledge of what the ceremonies and forms are. As the ceremonies used in opening and closing are the same in all the degrees it is thought best to give the whole in one insertion; it being the sincere wish of the writer that every reader should perfectly understand all the formulas of the whole Masonic fabric, as he then will thereby be able to form correct opinions of the propriety or impropriety, advantages or disadvantages of the same.
First Section of the Lecture on the First Degree of Masonry. “From whence come you as an Entered Apprentice Mason?”
Ans. “From the holy lodge of St. John, at Jerusalem.” “What recommendations do you bring?”
Ans. “Recommendations from the Worshipful Master, Wardens and brethren of that right worshipful lodge, whom greet you.”
“What comest thou hither to do?”
Ans. “To learn to subdue my passions, and improve myself in the secret arts and mysteries of ancient Freemasonry.”
“You are a Mason, then I presume?”
Ans. “I am.”
“How shall I know you to be a Mason?”
Ans. “By certain signs and a token.”
“What are signs?”
Ans. “All right angles, horizontals and perpendiculars.”
“What is a token?”
Ans. “A certain friendly and brotherly grip, whereby one Mason may know another, in the dark as well as in the light.”
“Where were you first prepared to be made a Mason?”
Ans. “In my heart.”
Ans. “In a room adjacent to the body of a just and lawfully constituted lodge of such.”
“How were you prepared?”
Ans. “By being divested of all metals, neither naked nor clothed, barefoot nor shod, hoodwinked, with a Cable Tow † about my neck, in which situation I was conducted to the door of the lodge.”
“You being hoodwinked how did you know it to be a door?”
Ans. “By first meeting with resistance, and afterwards gaining admission.”
“How did you gain admission?”
Ans. “By three distinct knocks from without, answered by the same within.”
“What was said to you from within?”
Ans. “Who comes there? Who comes there? Who comes there?
Ans. “A poor blind candidate who has long been desirous of having and receiving a part of the rights and benefits of this worshipful lodge, dedicated to God, and held forth to the holy order of St. John, as all true fellows and brothers have done, who have gone this way before me.”
“What further was said to you from within?”
Ans. “I was asked if it was of my own free will and accord I made this request, if I was duly and truly proposed, worthy and well qualified, all of which being answered in the affirmative, I was asked by what further rights I expected
to obtain so great a favor or benefit.”
Ans. “By being a man, free born, of lawful age and well recommended.”
“What was then said to you?”
Ans. “I was bid to wait till the Worshipful Master in the east was made acquainted with my request and his answer returned.”
“After his answer returned what followed?”
Ans. “I was caused to enter the lodge.”
Ans. “On the point of some sharp instrument pressing my naked left breast in the name of the Lord.”
“How were you then disposed of?”
Ans. “I was conducted to the center of the lodge and there caused to kneel for the benefit of a prayer.” [See page 19.]
“We have been saying a good deal about a lodge; I want to know what constitutes a lodge?”
Ans. “A certain number of Free and Accepted Masons duly assembled in a room, or place, with the Holy Bible,
[paragraph continues] Square and Compass, and other Masonic implements with a charter from the Grand Lodge empowering them to work.”
“Where did our ancient brethren meet before lodges were erected?”
Ans. “On the highest hills, and in the lowest vales.”
“Why on the highest hills and the lowest vales?”
Ans. “The better to guard against cowans and enemies, either ascending or descending, that the brethren might have timely notice of their approach to prevent being surprised.”
“What is the form of your lodge?”
Ans. “An oblong square.”
Ans. “From east to west.”
Ans. “Between north and south.”
Ans. “From the surface of the earth to the highest heavens.”
Ans. “From the surface to the center.”
“What supports your lodge?”
Ans. “Three large columns or pillars.”
“What are their names?”
Ans. “Wisdom, Strength and Beauty.”
Ans. “It is necessary there should be wisdom to contrive, strength to support, and beauty to adorn all great and important undertakings, but more especially this of ours.”
“Has your lodge any covering?”
Ans. “It has; a clouded canopy, or a starry decked heaven, where all good Masons hope to arrive.”
“How do they hope to arrive there?”
Ans. “By the assistance of Jacob’s ladder.”
“How many principal rounds has it got?”
“What are their names?”
Ans. “Faith, Hope and Charity.”
“What do they teach?”
Ans. “Faith in God, Hope in immortality, and Charity to all mankind.”
“Has your lodge any furniture?”
Ans. “It has; the Holy Bible, Square, and Compass.”
“To whom do they belong?”
Ans. “The Bible to God, the Square to the Master, and the Compass to the Craft.”
Ans. “The Bible to God, it being the inestimable gift of God to man, for his instruction to guide him through the rugged paths of life; the Square to the Master, it being the proper emblem of his office; the Compass to, the Craft, by a due attention to which we are taught to limit our desires, curb our ambition, subdue our irregular appetites, and keep our passions and prejudices in due bonds with all mankind, but more especially with the brethren,”
“Has your lodge any ornaments?”
Ans. “It has; the mosaic, or chequered pavement, the indented tessels, the beautiful tessellated border which surrounds it, with the blazing star in the center.”
“What do they represent?”
Ans. “Mosaic or chequered pavement represents this world, which, though chequered over with good and evil, yet brethren may walk together thereon and not stumble; the indented tessel, with the blazing star in the center, the manifold blessings and comforts with which we are surrounded in this life, but more especially those which we hope to enjoy hereafter; the blazing star, that prudence which ought to appear conspicuous in the conduct of every Mason, but more especially commemorative of the star which appeared in the east, to guide the wise men to Bethlehem, to proclaim the birth and the presence of the Son of God.”
“Has your lodge any lights?”
Ans. “It has three.”
“How are they situated?”
Ans. “East, west, and south.”
“Has it none in the north?”
Ans. “It has not.”
Ans. “Because this and every other lodge is, or ought to be a true representation of King Solomon’s Temple, which
was situated north of the ecliptic; the sun and moon therefore darting their rays from the south, no light was to be expected from the north; we, therefore, Masonically, term the north a place of darkness.”
“Has your lodge any jewels?”
Ans. “It has six; three movable and three immovable.”
“What are the three movable jewels?”
Ans. “The Square, Level, and Plumb.”
“What do they teach?”
Ans. “The Square, morality; the Level, equality; and the Plumb, rectitude of life and conduct.”
“What are the three immovable jewels?”
Ans. “The rough Ashlar, the perfect Ashlar, and the Trestle-board.”
To hear patiently, to weigh deliberately and dispassionately, and to decide impartially;–these are the chief duties of a Judge. After the lessons you have received, I need not further enlarge upon them. You will be ever eloquently reminded of them by the furniture upon our Altar, and the decorations of the Tribunal.
The Holy Bible will remind you of your obligation; and that as you judge here below, so you will be yourself judged hereafter, by One who has not to submit, like an earthly judge, to the sad necessity of inferring the motives, intentions, and purposes of men [of which all crime essentially consists] from the uncertain and often unsafe testimony of their acts and words; as men in thick darkness grope their way, with hands outstretched before them: but before Whom every thought, feeling, impulse, and intention of every soul that now is, or ever was, or ever will be on earth, is, and ever will be through the whole infinite duration of eternity, present and visible.
The Square and Compass, the Plumb and Level, are well known to you as a Mason. Upon you as a Judge, they peculiarly inculcate uprightness, impartiality, careful consideration of facts and circumstances, accuracy in judgment, and uniformity in decision As a Judge, too, you are to bring up square work and square work only. Like a temple erected by the plumb, you are to lean neither to one side nor the other. Like a building well squared and levelled, you are to be firm and steadfast in your convictions of right and justice. Like the circle swept with the compasses, you are to be true. In the scales of justice you are to weigh the facts and the law alone, nor place in either scale personal friendship or personal dislike, neither fear nor favor: and when reformation is no longer to be hoped for, you are to smite relentlessly with the sword of justice.
The peculiar and principal symbol of this Degree is the Tetractys of Pythagoras, suspended in the East, where ordinarily the sacred word or letter glitters, like it, representing the Deity. Its nine external points form the triangle, the chief symbol in Masonry, with many of the meanings of which you are familiar.
To us, its three sides represent the three principal attributes of the Deity, which created, and now, as ever, support, uphold, and guide the Universe in its eternal movement; the three supports of the Masonic Temple, itself an emblem of the Universe:–Wisdom, or the Infinite Divine Intelligence; Strength, or Power, the Infinite Divine Will; and Beauty, or the Infinite Divine Harmony, the Eternal Law, by virtue of which the infinite myriads of suns and worlds flash ever onward in their ceaseless revolutions, without clash or conflict, in the Infinite of space, and change and movement are the law of all created existences.
To us, as Masonic Judges, the triangle figures forth the Pyramids, which, planted firmly as the everlasting hills, and accurately adjusted to the four cardinal points, defiant of all assaults of men and time, teach us to stand firm and unshaken as they, when our feet are planted upon the solid truth.
It includes a multitude of geometrical figures, all having a deep significance to Masons. The triple triangle is peculiarly sacred, having ever been among all nations a symbol of the Deity. Prolonging all the external lines of the Hexagon, which also it includes, we have six smaller triangles, whose bases cut each other in the central point of the Tetractys, itself always the symbol of
the generative power of the Universe, the Sun, Brahma, Osiris, Apollo, Bel, and the Deity Himself. Thus, too, we form twelve still smaller triangles, three times three of which compose the Tetractys itself.
I refrain from enumerating all the figures that you may trace within it: but one may not be passed unnoticed. The Hexagon itself faintly images to us a cube, not visible at the first glance, and therefore the fit emblem of that faith in things invisible, most essential to salvation. The first perfect solid, and reminding you of the cubical stone that sweated blood, and of that deposited by Enoch, it teaches justice, accuracy, and consistency.
SYMPATHY with the great laboring classes, respect for labor itself, and resolution to do some good work in our day and generation, these are the lessons of this Degree, and they are purely Masonic. Masonry has made a working-man and his associates the Heroes of her principal legend, and himself the companion of Kings. The idea is as simple and true as it is sublime. From first to last, Masonry is work. It venerates the Grand Architect of the Universe. It commemorates the building of a Temple. Its principal emblems are the working tools of Masons and Artisans. It preserves the name of the first worker in brass and iron as one of its pass-words. When the Brethren meet together, they are at labor. The Master is the overseer who sets the craft to work and gives them proper instruction. Masonry is the apotheosis of WORK.
It is the hands of brave, forgotten men that have made this great, populous, cultivated world a world for us. It is all work, and forgotten work. The real conquerors, creators, and eternal proprietors of every great and civilized land are all the heroic souls that ever were in it, each in his degree: all the men that ever felled a forest-tree or drained a marsh, or contrived a wise scheme, or did or said a true or valiant thing therein. Genuine work alone, done faithfully, is eternal, even as the Almighty Founder and World-builder Himself. All work is noble: a life of ease is not for any man, nor for any God. The Almighty Maker is not like one who, in old immemorial ages, having made his machine of a Universe, sits ever since, and sees it go. Out of that belief comes Atheism. The faith in an Invisible, Unnamable, Directing Deity, present everywhere in all that we see, and work, and suffer, is the essence of all faith whatsoever.
The life of all Gods figures itself to us as a Sublime Earnestness,–of
[paragraph continues] Infinite battle against Infinite labor Our highest religion is named the Worship of Sorrow. For the Son of Man there is no noble crown, well-worn, or even ill-worn, but is a crown of thorns. Man’s highest destiny is not to be happy, to love pleasant things and find them. His only true unhappiness should be that he cannot work, and get his destiny as a man fulfilled. The day passes swiftly over, our life passes swiftly over, and the night cometh, wherein no man can work. That night once come, our happiness and unhappiness are vanished, and become as things that never were. But our work is not abolished, and has not vanished. It remains, or the want of it remains, for endless Times and Eternities.
Whatsoever of morality and intelligence; what of patience, perseverance, faithfulness, of method, insight, ingenuity, energy; in a word, whatsoever of STRENGTH a man has in him, will lie written in the WORK he does. To work is to try himself against Nature and her unerring, everlasting laws: and they will return true verdict as to him. The noblest Epic is a mighty Empire slowly built together, a mighty series of heroic deeds, a mighty conquest over chaos. Deeds are greater than words. They have a life, mute, but undeniable; and grow. They people the vacuity of Time, and make it green and worthy.
Labor is the truest emblem of God, the Architect and Eternal Maker; noble Labor, which is yet to be the King of this Earth, and sit on the highest Throne. Men without duties to do, are like trees planted on precipices; from the roots of which all the earth has crumbled. Nature owns no man who is not also a Martyr. She scorns the man who sits screened from all work, from want, danger, hardship, the victory over which is work; and has all his work and battling done by other men; and yet there are men who pride themselves that they and theirs have done no work time out of mind. So neither have the swine.
The chief of men is he who stands in the van of men, fronting the peril which frightens back all others, and if not vanquished would devour them. Hercules was worshipped for twelve labors. The Czar of Russia became a toiling shipwright, and worked with his axe in the docks of Saardam; and something came of that. Cromwell worked, and Napoleon; and effected somewhat.
THE true Mason is a practical Philosopher, who, under religious emblems, in all ages adopted by wisdom, builds upon plans traced by nature and reason the moral edifice of knowledge. He ought to find, in the symmetrical relation of all the parts of this rational edifice, the principle and rule of all his duties, the source of all his pleasures. He improves his moral nature, becomes a better man, and finds in the reunion of virtuous men, assembled with pure views, the means of multiplying his acts of beneficence. Masonry and Philosophy, without being one and the same thing, have the same object, and propose to themselves the same end, the worship of the Grand Architect of the Universe, acquaintance and familiarity with the wonders of nature, and the happiness of humanity attained by the constant practice of all the virtues.
As Grand Master of all Symbolic Lodges, it is your especial duty to aid in restoring Masonry to its primitive purity. You have become an instructor. Masonry long wandered in error. Instead of improving, it degenerated from its primitive simplicity, and retrograded toward a system, distorted by stupidity and ignorance, which, unable to construct a beautiful machine, made a complicated one. Less than two hundred years ago, its organization was simple, and altogether moral, its emblems, allegories, and ceremonies easy to be understood, and their purpose and object readily to be seen. It was then confined to a very small number of Degrees. Its constitutions were like those of a Society of Essenes, written in the first century of our era. There could be seen the primitive Christianity, organized into Masonry, the school of Pythagoras without incongruities or absurdities; a Masonry simple and significant, in which it was not necessary to torture the mind to discover reasonable interpretations; a Masonry at once religious and philosophical, worthy of a good citizen and an enlightened philanthropist.
Innovators and inventors overturned that primitive simplicity.
[paragraph continues] Ignorance engaged in the work of making Degrees, and trifles and gewgaws and pretended mysteries, absurd or hideous, usurped the place of Masonic Truth. The picture of a horrid vengeance, the poniard and the bloody head, appeared in the peaceful Temple of Masonry, without sufficient explanation of their symbolic meaning: Oaths out of all proportion with their object, shocked the candidate, and then became ridiculous, and were wholly disregarded. Acolytes were exposed to tests, and compelled to perform acts, which, if real, would have been abominable; but being mere chimeras, were preposterous, and excited contempt and laughter only. Eight hundred Degrees of one kind and another were invented: Infidelity and even Jesuitry were taught under the mask of Masonry. The rituals even of the respectable Degrees, copied and mutilated by ignorant men, became nonsensical and trivial; and the words so corrupted that it has hitherto been found impossible to recover many of them at all. Candidates were made to degrade themselves, and to submit to insults not tolerable to a man of spirit and honor.
Hence it was that, practically, the largest portion of the Degrees claimed by the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, and before it by the Rite of Perfection, fell into disuse, were merely communicated, and their rituals became jejune and insignificant. These Rites resembled those old palaces and baronial castles, the different parts of which, built at different periods remote from one another, upon plans and according to tastes that greatly varied, formed a discordant and incongruous whole. Judaism and chivalry, superstition and philosophy, philanthropy and insane hatred and longing for vengeance, a pure morality and unjust and illegal revenge, were found strangely mated and standing hand in hand within the Temples of Peace and Concord; and the whole system was one grotesque commingling of incongruous things, of contrasts and contradictions, of shocking and fantastic extravagances, of parts repugnant to good taste, and fine conceptions overlaid and disfigured by absurdities engendered by ignorance, fanaticism, and a senseless mysticism.
An empty and sterile pomp, impossible indeed to be carried out, and to which no meaning whatever was attached, with far-fetched explanations that were either so many stupid platitudes or themselves needed an interpreter; lofty titles, arbitrarily assumed, and to which the inventors had not condescended to attach any explanation
[Knight of the East, of the Sword, or of the Eagle.]
THIS Degree, like all others in Masonry, is symbolical. Based upon historical truth and authentic tradition, it is still an allegory. The leading lesson of this Degree is Fidelity to obligation, and Constancy and Perseverance under difficulties and discouragement.
Masonry is engaged in her crusade, against ignorance, intolerance, fanaticism, superstition, uncharitableness, and error. She does not sail with the trade-winds, upon a smooth sea, with a steady free breeze, fair for a welcoming harbor; but meets and must overcome many opposing currents, baffling winds, and dead calms.
The chief obstacles to her success are the apathy and faithlessness of her own selfish children, and the supine indifference of the world. In the roar and crush and hurry of life and business, and the tumult and uproar of politics, the quiet voice of Masonry is unheard and unheeded. The first lesson which one learns, who engages in any great work of reform or beneficence, is, that men are essentially careless, lukewarm, and indifferent as to everything that does not concern their own personal and immediate
welfare. It is to single men, and not to the united efforts of many, that all the great works of man, struggling toward perfection, are owing. The enthusiast, who imagines that he can inspire with his own enthusiasm the multitude that eddies around him, or even the few who have associated themselves with him as co-workers, is grievously mistaken; and most often the conviction of his own mistake is followed by discouragement and disgust. To do all, to pay all, and to suffer all, and then, when despite all obstacles and hindrances, success is accomplished, and a great work done, to see those who opposed or looked coldly on it, claim and reap all the praise and reward, is the common and almost universal lot of the benefactor of his kind.
He who endeavors to serve, to benefit, and improve the world, is like a swimmer, who struggles against a rapid current, in a river lashed into angry waves by the winds. Often they roar over his head, often they beat him back and baffle him. Most men yield to the stress of the current, and float with it to the shore, or are swept over the rapids; and only here and there the stout, strong heart and vigorous arms struggle on toward ultimate success.
It is the motionless and stationary that most frets and impedes the current of progress; the solid rock or stupid dead tree, rested firmly on the bottom; and around which the river whirls and eddies: the Masons that doubt and hesitate and are discouraged; that disbelieve in the capability of man to improve; that are not disposed to toil and labor for the interest and well-being of general humanity; that expect others to do all, even of that which they do not oppose or ridicule; while they sit, applauding and doing nothing, or perhaps prognosticating failure.
There were many such at the rebuilding of the Temple. There were prophets of evil and misfortune–the lukewarm and the in-different and the apathetic; those who stood by and sneered; and those who thought they did God service enough if they now and then faintly applauded. There were ravens croaking ill omen, and murmurers who preached the folly and futility of the attempt. The world is made up of such; and they were as abundant then as they are now.
But gloomy and discouraging as was the prospect, with lukewarmness within and bitter opposition without, our ancient brethren persevered. Let us leave them engaged in the good work, and whenever to us, as to them, success is uncertain, remote, and
contingent, let us still remember that the only question for us to ask, as true men and Masons, is, what does duty require; and not what will be the result and our reward if we do our duty. Work on, with the Sword in one hand, and the Trowel in the other!
THIS Degree is devoted to the same objects as those of the Elu of Nine; and also to the cause of Toleration and Liberality against Fanaticism and Persecution, political and religious; and to that of Education, Instruction, and Enlightenment against Error, Barbarism, and Ignorance. To these objects you have irrevocably and forever devoted your hand, your heart, and your intellect; and whenever in your presence a Chapter of this Degree is opened, you will be most solemnly reminded of your vows here taken at the altar.
Toleration, holding that every other man has the same right to his opinion and faith that we have to ours; and liberality, holding that as no human being can with certainty say, in the clash and conflict of hostile faiths and creeds, what is truth, or that he is surely in possession of it, so every one should feel that it is quite possible that another equally honest and sincere with himself, and yet holding the contrary opinion, may himself be in possession of the truth, and that whatever one firmly and conscientiously believes, is truth, to him–these are the mortal enemies of that fanaticism which persecutes for opinion’s sake, and initiates crusades against whatever it, in its imaginary holiness, deems to be contrary to the law of God or verity of dogma. And education, instruction, and enlightenment are the most certain means by which fanaticism and intolerance can be rendered powerless.
No true Mason scoffs at honest convictions and an ardent zeal in the cause of what one believes to be truth and justice. But he
does absolutely deny the right of any man to assume the prerogative of Deity, and condemn another’s faith and opinions as deserving to be punished because heretical. Nor does he approve the course of those who endanger the peace and quiet of great nations, and the best interest of their own race by indulging in a chimerical and visionary philanthropy–a luxury which chiefly consists in drawing their robes around them to avoid contact with their fellows, and proclaiming themselves holier than they.
For he knows that such follies are often more calamitous than the ambition of kings; and that intolerance and bigotry have been infinitely greater curses to mankind than ignorance and error. Better any error than persecution! Better any opinion than the thumb-screw, the rack, and the stake! And he knows also how unspeakably absurd it is, for a creature to whom himself and everything around him are mysteries, to torture and slay others, because they cannot think as he does in regard to the profoundest of those mysteries, to understand which is utterly beyond the comprehension of either the persecutor or the persecuted.
Masonry is not a religion. He who makes of it a religious belief, falsifies and denaturalizes it. The Brahmin, the Jew, the Mahometan, the Catholic, the Protestant, each professing his peculiar religion, sanctioned by the laws, by time, and by climate, must needs retain it, and cannot have two religions; for the social and sacred laws adapted to the usages, manners, and prejudices of particular countries, are the work of men.
But Masonry teaches, and has preserved in their purity, the cardinal tenets of the old primitive faith, which underlie and are the foundation of all religions. All that ever existed have had a basis of truth; and all have overlaid that truth with errors. The primitive truths taught by the Redeemer were sooner corrupted, and intermingled and alloyed with fictions than when taught to the first of our race. Masonry is the universal morality which is suitable to the inhabitants of every clime, to the man of every creed. It has taught no doctrines, except those truths that tend directly to the well-being of man; and those who have attempted to direct it toward useless vengeance, political ends, and Jesuitism, have merely perverted it to purposes foreign to its pure spirit and real nature.
Mankind outgrows the sacrifices and the mythologies of the childhood of the world. Yet it is easy for human indolence to
You are especially taught in this Degree to be zealous and faithful; to be disinterested and benevolent; and to act the peace-maker, in case of dissensions, disputes, and quarrels among the brethren.
Duty is the moral magnetism which controls and guides the true Mason’s course over the tumultuous seas of life. Whether the stars of honor, reputation, and reward do or do not shine, in the light of day or in the darkness of the night of trouble and adversity, in calm or storm, that unerring magnet still shows him the true course to steer, and indicates with certainty where-away lies the port which not to reach involves shipwreck and dishonor. He follows its silent bidding, as the mariner, when land is for many days not in sight, and the ocean without path or landmark spreads out all around him, follows the bidding of the needle, never doubting that it points truly to the north. To perform that duty, whether the performance be rewarded or unrewarded, is his sole care. And it doth not matter, though of this performance there may be no witnesses, and though what he does will be forever unknown to all mankind.
A little consideration will teach us that Fame has other limits than mountains and oceans; and that he who places happiness in the frequent repetition of his name, may spend his life in propagating it, without any danger of weeping for new worlds, or necessity of passing the Atlantic sea.
If, therefore, he who imagines the world to be filled with his actions
and praises, shall subduct from the number of his encomiasts all those who are placed below the flight of fame, and who hear in the valley of life no voice but that of necessity; all those who imagine themselves too important to regard him, and consider the mention of his name as a usurpation of their time; all who are too much or too little pleased with themselves to attend to anything external; all who are attracted by pleasure, or chained down by pain to unvaried ideas; all who are withheld from attending his triumph by different pursuits; and all who slumber in universal negligence; he will find his renown straitened by nearer bounds than the rocks of Caucasus; and perceive that no man can be venerable or formidable, but to a small part of his fellow-creatures. And therefore, that we may not languish in our endeavors after excellence, it is necessary that, as Africanus counsels his descendants, we raise our eyes to higher prospects, and contemplate our future and eternal state, without giving up our hearts to the praise of crowds, or fixing our hopes on such rewards as human power can bestow.
We are not born for ourselves alone; and our country claims her share, and our friends their share of us. As all that the earth produces is created for the use of man, so men are created for the sake of men, that they may mutually do good to one another. In this we ought to take nature for our guide, and throw into the public stock the offices of general utility, by a reciprocation of duties; sometimes by receiving, sometimes by giving, and sometimes to cement human society by arts, by industry, and by our resources.
Suffer others to be praised in thy presence, and entertain their good and glory with delight; but at no hand disparage them, or lessen the report, or make an objection; and think not the advancement of thy brother is a lessening of thy worth. Upbraid no man’s weakness to him to discomfit him, neither report it to disparage him, neither delight to remember it to lessen him, or to set thyself above him; nor ever praise thyself or dispraise any man else, unless some sufficient worthy end do hallow it.
Remember that we usually disparage others upon slight grounds and little instances; and if a man be highly commended, we think him sufficiently lessened, if we can but charge one sin of folly or inferiority in his account. We should either be more severe to ourselves, or less so to others, and consider that whatsoever good any one can think or say of us, we can tell him of many unworthy and
THE Master Khu_ru_m was an industrious and an honest man. What he was employed to do he did diligently, and he did it well and faithfully. He received no wages that were not his due. Industry and honesty are the virtues peculiarly inculcated in this Degree. They are common and homely virtues; but not for that beneath our notice. As the bees do not love or respect the drones, so Masonry neither loves nor respects the idle and those who live by their wits; and least of all those parasitic acari that live upon themselves. For those who are indolent are likely to become dissipated and vicious; and perfect honesty, which ought to be the common qualification of all, is more rare than diamonds. To do earnestly and steadily, and to do faithfully and honestly that which we have to do–perhaps this wants but little, when looked at from every point of view, of including the whole body of the moral law; and even in their commonest and homeliest application, these virtues belong to the character of a Perfect Master.
Idleness is the burial of a living man. For an idle person is so useless to any purposes of God and man, that he is like one who is dead, unconcerned in the changes and necessities of the world; and he only lives to spend his time, and eat the fruits of the earth. Like a vermin or a wolf, when his time comes, he dies and perishes, and in the meantime is nought. He neither ploughs nor carries burdens: all that he does is either unprofitable or mischievous.
It is a vast work that any man may do, if he never be idle: and it is a huge way that a man may go in virtue, if he never go out of his way by a vicious habit or a great crime: and he who perpetually
reads good books, if his parts be answerable, will have a huge stock of knowledge.
St. Ambrose, and from his example, St. Augustine, divided every day into these tertias of employment: eight hours they spent in the necessities of nature and recreation: eight hours in charity, in doing assistance to others, dispatching their business, reconciling their enmities, reproving their vices, correcting their errors, instructing their ignorance, and in transacting the affairs of their dioceses; and the other eight hours they spent in study and prayer.
We think, at the age of twenty, that life is much too long for that which we have to learn and do; and that there is an almost fabulous distance between our age and that of our grandfather. But when, at the age of sixty, if we are fortunate enough to reach it, or unfortunate enough, as the case may be, and according as we have profitably invested or wasted our time, we halt, and look back along the way we have come, and cast up and endeavor to balance our accounts with time and opportunity, we find that we have made life much too short, and thrown away a huge portion of our time. Then we, in our mind, deduct from the sum total of our years the hours that we have needlessly passed in sleep; the working-hours each day, during which the surface of the mind’s sluggish pool has not been stirred or ruffled by a single thought; the days that we have gladly got rid of, to attain some real or fancied object that lay beyond, in the way between us and which stood irksomely the intervening days; the hours worse than wasted in follies and dissipation, or misspent in useless and unprofitable studies; and we acknowledge, with a sigh, that we could have learned and done, in half a score of years well spent, more than we have done in all our forty years of manhood.
To learn and to do!–this is the soul’s work here below. The soul grows as truly as an oak grows. As the tree takes the carbon of the air, the dew, the rain, and the light, and the food that the earth supplies to its roots, and by its mysterious chemistry trans-mutes them into sap and fibre, into wood and leaf, and flower and fruit, and color and perfume, so the soul imbibes knowledge and by a divine alchemy changes what it learns into its own substance, and grows from within outwardly with an inherent force and power like those that lie hidden in the grain of wheat.