“Why was you divested of all metals when you was made a Mason?”
Ans. “Because Masonry regards no man on account of his worldly wealth or honors; it is, therefore, the internal and not the external qualifications that recommend a man to Masonry.”
“A second reason?”
Ans. “There was neither the sound of an axe, hammer, or any other metal tool heard at the building of King Solomon’s temple.”
“How could so stupendous a fabric be erected without the sound of axe, hammer, or any other metal tool?”
Ans. “All the stones were hewed, squared and numbered in the quarries where they were raised, all the timbers felled and prepared in the forests of Lebanon, and carried down to Joppa on floats, and taken from thence up to Jerusalem, and set up with wooden mauls, prepared for that purpose; which, when completed, every part thereof fitted with that exact nicety, that it had more the resemblance of the hand workmanship of the Supreme Architect of the Universe, than that of human hands.”
“Why was you neither naked nor clothed?”
Ans. “As I was an object of distress at that time, it was to remind me, if ever I saw a friend, more especially a brother, in a like distressed situation, that I should contribute as liberally to his relief as his situation required, and my abilities would admit, without material injury to myself or family.”
“Why were you neither barefoot or shod?”
Ans. “It was an ancient Israelitish custom, adopted among Masons; and we read, in the book of Ruth, concerning
their mode and manner of changing and redeeming, ‘and to confirm all things, a brother plucked off his shoe and gave it to his neighbor, and that was testimony in Israel.’ This, then, therefore, we do in confirmation of a token and as a pledge of our fidelity; thereby signifying that we will renounce our own wills in all things, and become obedient to the laws of our ancient institutions.”
“Why were you hoodwinked?”
“That my heart might conceive before my eyes beheld the beauties of Masonry.”
“A second reason?”
Ans. “As I was in darkness at that time, it was to remind me that I should keep the whole world so respecting Masonry.”
“Why had you a Cable Tow about your neck?”
Ans. “In case I had not submitted to the manner and mode of my initiation, that I might have been led out of the lodge without seeing the form and beauties thereof.”
“Why did you give three distinct knocks at the door?”
Ans. “To alarm the lodge, and let the Worshipful Master, Wardens and brethren know that a poor blind candidate prayed admission.”
“What does those three distinct knocks allude to?”
Ans. “A certain passage in Scripture, wherein it says, ‘Ask and it shall be given, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.'”
“How did you apply this to your then case in Masonry?”
Ans. “I asked the recommendations of a friend to become a Mason, I sought admission through his recommendations, and knocked, and the door of Masonry opened unto me.”
“Why was you caused to enter on the point of some sharp instrument pressing your naked left breast in the name of the Lord?”
Ans. “As this was a torture to my flesh, so might the recollection of it ever be to my heart and conscience, if ever I attempted to reveal the secrets of Masonry unlawfully.”
“Why was you conducted to the center of the lodge, and there caused to kneel for the benefit of a prayer?”
Ans. “Before entering on this, or any other great and important undertaking, it is highly necessary to implore a blessing from Deity.”
“Why was you asked in whom you put your trust?”
Ans. “Agreeable to the laws of our ancient institution, no atheist could be made a Mason, it was therefore necessary that I should believe in Deity; otherwise no oath or obligation could bind me.”
“Why did the Worshipful Master take you by the right hand and bid you arise, follow your leader and fear no danger?”
The intellect of the Atheist would find matter everywhere; but no Causing and Providing Mind: his moral sense would find no Equitable Will, no Beauty of Moral Excellence, no Conscience enacting justice into the unchanging law of right, no spiritual Order or spiritual Providence, but only material Fate and Chance. His affections would find only finite things to love; and to them the dead who were loved and who died yesterday, are like the rainbow that yesterday evening lived a moment and then passed away. His soul, flying through the vast Inane, and feeling the darkness with its wings, seeking the Soul of all, which at once is Reason, Conscience, and the Heart of all that is, would find no God, but a Universe all disorder; no Infinite, no Reason, no Conscience, no Heart, no Soul of things; nothing to reverence, to esteem, to love, to worship, to trust in; but only an Ugly Force, alien and foreign to us, that strikes down those we love, and makes us mere worms on the hot sand of the world. No voice would speak from the Earth to comfort him. It is a cruel mother, that great Earth, that devours her young,–a Force and nothing more. Out of the sky would smile no kind Providence, in all its thousand starry eyes; and in storms a malignant violence, with its lightning-sword, would stab into the darkness, seeking for men to murder.
No man ever was or ever can be content with that. The evidence of .God has been ploughed into Nature so deeply, and so deeply woven into the texture of the human soul, that Atheism has never become a faith, though it has sometimes assumed the shape of theory. Religion is natural to man. Instinctively he turns to God and reverences and relies on Him. In the Mathematics of the Heavens, written in gorgeous diagrams of fire, he sees law, order, beauty, harmony without end: in the ethics of the little nations that inhabit the ant-hills he sees the same; in all Nature, animate and inanimate, he sees the evidences of a Design, a Will, an Intelligence, and a God,–of a God beneficent and loving as well as wise, and merciful and indulgent as well as powerful.
To man, surrounded by the material Universe, and conscious of the influence that his material environments exercised upon his fortunes and his present destiny;–to man, ever confronted with the splendors of the starry heavens, the regular march of the
seasons, the phenomena of sunrise and moonrise, and all the evidences of intelligence and design that everywhere pressed upon and overwhelmed him, all imaginable questions as to the nature and cause of these phenomena constantly recurred, demanding to be solved, and refusing to be sent away unanswered. And still, after the lapse of ages, press upon the human mind and demand solution, the same great questions–perhaps still demanding it in vain.
Advancing to the period when man had ceased to look upon the separate parts and individual forces of the Universe as gods,–when he had come to look upon it as a whole, this question, among the earliest, occurred to him, and insisted on being answered: “Is this material Universe self-existent, or was it created? Is it eternal, or did it originate?”
And then in succession came crowding on the human mind these other questions:
“Is this material Universe a mere aggregate of fortuitous combinations of matter, or is it the result and work of intelligence, acting upon a plan?
“If there be such an Intelligence, what and where is it? Is the material Universe itself an Intelligent being? Is it like man, a body and a soul? Does Nature act upon itself, or is there a Cause beyond it that acts upon it?
“If there is a personal God, separate from the material Universe, that created all things, Himself uncreated, is He corporeal or incorporeal, material or spiritual, the soul of the Universe or wholly apart from it? and if He be Spirit, what then is spirit?
“Was that Supreme Deity active or quiescent before the creation; and if quiescent during a previous eternity, what necessity of His nature moved Him at last to create a world; or was it a mere whim that had no motive?
limiting the sacerdotal power, by teaching the intelligent laity the folly and absurdity of the creeds of the populace. They were therefore necessarily changed by the religious systems of the countries into which they were transplanted. In Greece, they were the Mysteries of Ceres; in Rome, of Bona Dea, the Good Goddess; in Gaul, the School of Mars; in Sicily, the Academy of the Sciences; among the Hebrews, they partook of the rites and ceremonies of a religion which placed all the powers of government, and all the knowledge, in the hands of the Priests and Levites. The pagodas of India, the retreats of the Magi of Persia and Chaldea, and the pyramids of Egypt, were no longer the sources at which men drank in knowledge. Each people, at all informed, had its Mysteries. After a time the Temples of Greece and the School of Pythagoras lost their reputation, and Freemasonry took their place.
Masonry, when properly expounded, is at once the interpretation of the great book of nature, the recital of physical and astronomical phenomena, the purest philosophy, and the place of deposit, where, as in a Treasury, are kept in safety all the great truths of the primitive revelation, that form the basis of all religions. In the modern Degrees three things are to be recognized: The image of primeval times, the tableau of the efficient causes of the Universe, and the book in which are written the morality of all peoples, and the code by which they must govern themselves if they would be prosperous.
The Kabalistic doctrine was long the religion of the Sage and the Savant; because, like Freemasonry, it incessantly tends toward spiritual perfection, and the fusion of the creeds and Nationalities of Mankind. In the eyes of the Kabalist, all men are his brothers; and their relative ignorance is, to him, but a reason for instructing them. There were illustrious Kabalists among the Egyptians and Greeks, whose doctrines the Orthodox Church has accepted; and among the Arabs were many, whose wisdom was not slighted by the Mediæval Church.
The Sages proudly wore the name of Kabalists. The Kabalah embodied a noble philosophy, pure, not mysterious, but symbolic. It taught the doctrine of the Unity of God, the art of knowing and explaining the essence and operations of the Supreme Being, of spiritual powers and natural forces, and of determining their action by symbolic figures; by the arrangement of the alphabet,
the combinations of numbers, the inversion of letters in writing and the concealed meanings which they claimed to discover therein. The Kabalah is the key of the occult sciences; and the Gnostics were born of the Kabalists.
The science of numbers represented not only arithmetical qualities, but also all grandeur, all proportion. By it we necessarily arrive at the discovery of the Principle or First Cause of things, called at the present day THE ABSOLUTE.
Or UNITY,–that loftiest term to which all philosophy directs itself; that imperious necessity of the human mind, that pivot round which it is compelled to group the aggregate of its ideas: Unity, this source, this centre of all systematic order, this principle of existence, this central point, unknown in its essence, but manifest in its effects; Unity, that sublime centre to which the chain of causes necessarily ascends, was the august Idea toward which all the ideas of Pythagoras converged. He refused the title of Sage, which means one who knows. He invented, and applied to himself that of Philosopher, signifying one who is fond of or studies things secret and occult. The astronomy which he mysteriously taught, was astrology: his science of numbers was based on Kabalistical principles.
The Ancients, and Pythagoras himself, whose real principles have not been always understood, never meant to ascribe to numbers, that is to say, to abstract signs, any special virtue. But the Sages of Antiquity concurred in recognizing a ONE FIRST CAUSE (material or spiritual) of the existence of the Universe. Thence, UNITY became the symbol of the Supreme Deity. It was made to express, to represent God; but without attributing to the mere, number ONE any divine or supernatural virtue.
The essence of the ψυχικοὶ [psuchikoi] is disruption into multiplicity, manifoldness; which, however, is subordinate to a higher unity, by which it allows itself to be guided, first unconsciously, then consciously.
The essence of the ὑλικοὶ [Hulikoi] (of whom Satan is the head), is the direct opposite to all unity; disruption and disunion in itself, without the least sympathy, without any point of coalescence whatever for unity; together with an effort to destroy all unity, to extend its own inherent disunion to everything, and to rend everything asunder. This principle has no power to posit anything; but only to negative: it is unable to create, to produce, to form, but only to destroy, to decompose.
By Marcus, the disciple of Valentinus, the idea of a Λογος του οντος [Logos Tou Ontos], of a WORD, manifesting the hidden Divine Essence, in the Creation, was spun out into the most subtle details–the entire creation being, in his view, a continuous utterance of the Ineffable. The way in which the germs of divine life [the σπέρματα πνευματικὰ . . spermata pneumatika], which lie shut up in the Eons, continually unfold and individualize themselves more and more, is represented as a spontaneous analysis of the several names of the Ineffable, into their several sounds. An echo of the Ple_roma falls down into the ὕλη [Hule_], and becomes the forming of a new but lower creation.
One formula of the pneumatical baptism among the Gnostics ran thus: “In the NAME which is hidden from all the Divinities and Powers” [of the Demiurge], “The Name of Truth” [the Αλήθεια [Aletheia], self-manifestation of the Buthos], which Jesus of Nazareth has put on in the light-zones of Christ, the living Christ, through the Holy Ghost, for the redemption of the angels,–the Name by which all things attain to Perfection.” The candidate then said: “I am established and redeemed; I am redeemed in my soul from this world, and from all that belongs to it, by the name of ו ?Y?H?W?H, who has redeemed the Soul of Jesus by the living Christ.” The assembly then said: “Peace (or Salvation) to all on whom this name rests!”
The boy Dionusos, torn in pieces, according to the Bacchic Mysteries, by the Titans, was considered by the Manicheans as simply representing the Soul, swallowed up by the powers of darkness,–the
divine life rent into fragments by matter:–that part of the luminous essence of the primitive man [the πρῶτος ἄνθρωπος [Protos Anthropos] of Mani, the πράων ἄνθρωπος [Prao_n Anthro_pos] of the Valentinians, the Adam Kadmon of the Kabalah; and the Kaiomorts of the Zendavesta], swallowed up by the powers of darkness; the Mundane Soul, mixed with matter–the seed of divine life, which had fallen into matter, and had thence to undergo a process of purification and development.
The Γνῶσις [Gnosis] of Carpocrates and his son Epiphanes consisted in the knowledge of one Supreme Original being, the highest unity, from whom all existence has emanated, and to whom it strives to return. The finite spirits that rule over the several portions of the Earth, seek to counteract this universal tendency to unity; and from their influence, their laws, and arrangements, proceeds all that checks, disturbs, or limits the original communion, which is the basis of nature, as the outward manifestation of that highest Unity. These spirits, moreover, seek to retain under their dominion the souls which, emanating from the highest Unity, and still partaking of its nature, have lapsed into the corporeal world, and have there been imprisoned in bodies, in order, under their dominion, to be kept within the cycle of migration. From these finite spirits, the popular religions of different nations derive their origin. But the souls which, from a reminiscence of their former condition, soar upward to the contemplation of that higher Unity, reach to such perfect freedom and repose, as nothing afterward can disturb or limit, and rise superior to the popular deities and religions. As examples of this sort, they named Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, and Christ. They made no distinction between the latter and the wise and good men of every nation. They taught that any other soul which could soar to the same height of contemplation, might be regarded as equal with Him.
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.
[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!
IT is for each individual Mason to discover the secret of Masonry, by reflection upon its symbols and a wise consideration and analysis of what is said and done in the work. Masonry does not inculcate her truths. She states them, once and briefly; or hints them, perhaps, darkly; or interposes a cloud between them and eyes that would be dazzled by them. “Seek, and ye shall find,” knowledge and the truth.
The practical object of Masonry is the physical and moral amelioration and the intellectual and spiritual improvement of individuals and society. Neither can be effected, except by the dissemination of truth. It is falsehood in doctrines and fallacy in principles, to which most of the miseries of men and the misfortunes of nations are owing. Public opinion is rarely right on any point; and there are and always will be important truths to be substituted in that opinion in the place of many errors and absurd and injurious prejudices. There are few truths that public opinion has not at some time hated and persecuted as heresies; and few errors that have not at some time seemed to it truths radiant from the immediate presence of God. There are moral maladies, also, of man and society, the treatment of which requires not only boldness, but also, and more, prudence and discretion; since they are more the fruit of false and pernicious doctrines, moral, political, and religious, than of vicious inclinations.
Much of the Masonic secret manifests itself, without speech
revealing it, to him who even partially comprehends all the Degrees in proportion as he receives them; and particularly to those who advance to the highest Degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. That Rite raises a corner of the veil, even in the Degree of Apprentice; for it there declares that Masonry is a worship.
Masonry labors to improve the social order by enlightening men’s minds, warming their hearts with the love of the good, inspiring them with the great principle of human fraternity, and requiring of its disciples that their language and actions shall con-form to that principle, that they shall enlighten each other, control their passions, abhor vice, and pity the vicious man as one afflicted with a deplorable malady.
It is the universal, eternal, immutable religion, such as God planted it in the heart of universal humanity. No creed has ever been long-lived that was not built on this foundation. It is the base, and they are the superstructure. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” The ministers of this religion are all Masons who comprehend it and are devoted to it; its sacrifices to God are good works, the sacrifices of the base and disorderly passions, the offering up of self-interest on the altar of humanity, and perpetual efforts to attain to all the moral perfection of which man is capable.
To make honor and duty the steady beacon-lights that shall guide your life-vessel over the stormy seas of time; to do that which it is right to do, not because it will insure you success, or bring with it a reward, or gain the applause of men, or be “the best policy,” more prudent or more advisable; but because it is right, and therefore ought to be done; to war incessantly against error, intolerance, ignorance, and vice, and yet to pity those who err, to be tolerant even of intolerance, to teach the ignorant, and to labor to reclaim the vicious, are some of the duties of a Mason.
A good Mason is one that can look upon death, and see its face with the same countenance with which he hears its story; that can endure all the labors of his life with his soul supporting his body, that can equally despise riches when he hath them and
WHETHER the legend and history of this Degree are historically true, or but an allegory, containing in itself a deeper truth and a profounder meaning, we shall not now debate. If it be but a legendary myth, you must find out for yourself what it means. It is certain that the word which the Hebrews are not now permitted to pronounce was in common use by Abraham, Lot, Isaac, Jacob, Laban, Rebecca, and even among tribes foreign to the Hebrews, before the time of Moses; and that it recurs a hundred times in the lyrical effusions of David and other Hebrew poets.
We know that for many centuries the Hebrews have been forbidden to pronounce the Sacred Name; that wherever it occurs, they have for ages read the word Adonaï instead; and that under it, when the masoretic points, which represent the vowels, came to be used, they placed those which belonged to the latter word. The possession of the true pronunciation was deemed to confer on him who had it extraordinary and supernatural powers; and the Word itself, worn upon the person, was regarded as an amulet, a protection against personal danger, sickness, and evil spirits. We know that all this was a vain superstition, natural to a rude people, necessarily disappearing as the intellect of man became enlightened; and wholly unworthy of a Mason.
It is noticeable that this notion of the sanctity of the Divine Name or Creative Word was common to all the ancient nations. The Sacred Word HOM was supposed by the ancient Persians (who were among the earliest emigrants from Northern India) to
be pregnant with a mysterious power; and they taught that by its utterance the world was created. In India it was forbidden to pronounce the word AUM or OM, the Sacred Name of the One Deity, manifested as Brahma, Vishna, and Seeva.
These superstitious notions in regard to the efficacy of the Word, and the prohibition against pronouncing it, could, being errors, have formed no part of the pure primitive religion, or of the esoteric doctrine taught by Moses, and the full knowledge of which was confined to the Initiates; unless the whole was but an ingenious invention for the concealment of some other Name or truth, the interpretation and meaning whereof was made known only to the select few. If so, the common notions in regard to the Word grew up in the minds of the people, like other errors and fables among all the ancient nations, out of original truths and symbols and allegories misunderstood. So it has always been that allegories, intended as vehicles of truth, to be understood by the sages, have become or bred errors, by being literally accepted.
It is true, that before the masoretic points were invented (which was after the beginning of the Christian era), the pronunciation of a word in the Hebrew language could not be known from the characters in which it was written. It was, therefore, possible for that of the name of the Deity to have been forgotten and lost. It is certain that its true pronunciation is not that represented by the word Jehovah; and therefore that that is not the true name of Deity, nor the Ineffable Word.
The ancient symbols and allegories always had more than one interpretation. They always had a double meaning, and sometimes more than two, one serving as the envelope of the other. Thus the pronunciation of the word was a symbol; and that pronunciation and the word itself were lost, when the knowledge of the true nature and attributes of God faded out of the minds of the Jewish people. That is one interpretation–true, but not the inner and profoundest one.
Men were figuratively said to forget the name of God, when they lost that knowledge, and worshipped the heathen deities, and burned incense to them on the high places, and passed their children through the fire to Moloch.
Thus the attempts of the ancient Israelites and of the Initiates to ascertain the True Name of the Deity, and its pronunciation, and the loss of the True Word, are an allegory, in which are represented
ORIGINALLY created to reward fidelity, obedience, and devotion, this Degree was consecrated to bravery, devotedness, and patriot-ism; and your obligation has made known to you the duties which you have assumed. They are summed up in the simple mandate, “Protect the oppressed against the oppressor; and devote yourself to the honor and interests of your Country.”
Masonry is not “speculative,” nor theoretical, but experimental; not sentimental, but practical. It requires self-renunciation and self-control. It wears a stern face toward men’s vices, and interferes with many of our pursuits and our fancied pleasures. It penetrates beyond the region of vague sentiment; beyond the regions where moralizers and philosophers have woven their fine theories and elaborated their beautiful maxims, to the very depths of the heart, rebuking our littlenesses and meannesses, arraigning our prejudices and passions, and warring against the armies of our vices.
It wars against the passions that spring out of the bosom of a world of fine sentiments, a world of admirable sayings and foul practices, of good maxims and bad deeds; whose darker passions are not only restrained by custom and ceremony, but hidden even from itself by a veil of beautiful sentiments. This terrible solecism has existed in all ages. Romish sentimentalism has often covered infidelity and vice; Protestant straightness often lauds spirituality and faith, and neglects homely truth, candor, and generosity; and ultra-liberal Rationalistic refinement sometimes soars
to heaven in its dreams, and wallows in the mire of earth in its deeds.
There may be a world of Masonic sentiment; and yet a world of little or no Masonry. In many minds there is a vague and general sentiment of Masonic charity, generosity, and disinterestedness, but no practical, active virtue, nor habitual kindness, self-sacrifice, or liberality. Masonry plays about them like the cold though brilliant lights that flush and eddy over Northern skies. There are occasional flashes of generous and manly feeling, transitory splendors, and momentary gleams of just and noble thought, and transient coruscations, that light the Heaven of their imagination; but there is no vital warmth in the heart; and it remains as cold and sterile as the Arctic or Antarctic regions. They do nothing; they gain no victories over themselves; they make no progress; they are still in the Northeast corner of the Lodge, as when they first stood there as Apprentices; and they do not cultivate Masonry, with a cultivation, determined, resolute, and regular, like their cultivation of their estate, profession, or knowledge. Their Masonry takes its chance in general and inefficient sentiment, mournfully barren of results; in words and formulas and fine professions.
Most men have sentiments, but not principles. The former are temporary sensations, the latter permanent and controlling impressions of goodness and virtue. The former are general and involuntary, and do not rise to the character of virtue. Every one feels them. They flash up spontaneously in every heart. The latter are rules of action, and shape and control our conduct; and it is these that Masonry insists upon.
We approve the right; but pursue the wrong. It is the old story of human deficiency. No one abets or praises injustice, fraud, oppression, covetousness, revenge, envy, or slander; and yet how many who condemn these things, are themselves guilty of them. It is no rare thing for him whose indignation is kindled at a tale of wicked injustice, cruel oppression, base slander, or misery inflicted by unbridled indulgence; whose anger flames in behalf of the injured and ruined victims of wrong; to be in some relation unjust, or oppressive, or envious, or self-indulgent, or a careless talker of others. How wonderfully indignant the penurious man often is, at the avarice or want of public spirit of another!
A great Preacher well said, “Therefore thou art inexcusable. O
[paragraph continues] Man, whosoever thou art, that judgest; for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself: for thou that judgest, doest the same things.” It is amazing to see how men can talk of virtue and honor, whose life denies both. It is curious to see with what a marvellous facility many bad men quote Scripture. It seems to comfort their evil consciences, to use good words; and to gloze over bad deeds with holy texts, wrested to their purpose. Often, the more a man talks about Charity and Toleration, the less he has of either; the more he talks about Virtue, the smaller stock he has of it. The mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart; but often the very reverse of what the man practises. And the vicious and sensual often express, and in a sense feel, strong disgust at vice and sensuality. Hypocrisy is not so common as is imagined.