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we can well conceive. Such a Lodge would indeed deserve the title of true elect; of adepts, in the full sense of the word; of oracles, if not infallible, at least most worthy of being listened to, by those over whom credulity, error, superstition and prejudice do not exercise their tyranny.
It seems, in truth, if we judge at first glance, that the idea we have just expressed, is not altogether destitute of reality. There are philosophical Freemasons who compose a species of firmament, consisting of stars of different magnitude, with here and there one shining with unusual brilliancy. In fixing our attention upon this vast luminous region, we find this brilliancy obscured by nebulous stars and opaque bodies. The number of those glittering with borrowed rays, is almost infinite. Meteors composed of light and ofttimes mischievous exhalations, form a deceptive spectacle, which is soon dissipated. It is no easy task, therefore, for the new initiate, among the large number of guides who present themselves, to discriminate between those who deserve to be listened to or followed, and those who do not. He in the end finds that many so far from meriting the title of chiefs, possess scarcely the qualifications necessary for good subalterns. In the midst of this anarchy and confusion, a considerable time must necessarily elapse, before he can make choice of worthy conductors. Should he in the least degree be deficient in attention, or have no well-balanced mind; or should he be of a turn of mind readily captivated by external slow, and disposed to judge of things as they appear, and not as they really are, or be too indolent or incompetent, or, perchance, not have the means at hand to enable him to study and understand the truth, he may yield at once to false or superficial explanations of a pretended science, and become bewildered or entirely lost in vain efforts to comprehend it.
If Freemasonry is aristocratic, its aristocracy is that of the mind and of moral worth. In this sense, it knows not how to be democratic. "All are not Israel that are of Israel;"" many are called, but few are chosen." The throng of false Brethren, of the half-instructed, of showy yet superficial minds, of plagiarists, of the ignorant, as well as of the crafty and unprincipled, serve to confuse and disorganize the well-intentioned plans and "works" of the wise, good and true, to nullify all Masonic government and laws, engender and perpetuate corruption and “innovation, which is treason, and saps the foundation of the venerable fabric." "The word of promise is kept to the ear, but broken to the . . . ."
If we bring Freemasonry back to aristocracy, or (to resume our former figure,) consolidate in the firmament of Freemasonry, exclusively those stars that shine with their own proper lustre, with the substantial light of wisdom, enduring power, and the beauty of virtue, shall we not then finally have what we seek for? Will we then have secured respectable repositories of the genuine and solid science and royal art, which they change not nor adulterate in any respect, but which they preserve with care, and communicate to "the faithful and accepted" of the "holy empire” as integral and pure as they themselves possess it? So we fondly hope and truly believe.
THE SPIRIT OF MASONRY.
[From an Address delivered before St. George's Lodge, Kingston, Canada, on the 27th Dec. last, by Rev. W. M. HERCHMER.]
MASONRY is defined to be "a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols."
Because it is a system, which is the guardian of every virtue, and is calculated to enlarge the mind and improve the heart; because its precepts, if rightly observed, prepare us to live well, and teach us how to die; I yield my feeble efforts to extend its light. Because all its leading doctrines are drawn from the Bible, which is acknowledged to contain all things necessary to salvation; because, by her emblems, Masonry seeks to illustrate and enforce its cheering truths; tells man of his exalted origin, his present degraded and helpless condition, his ignorance, blindness and bondage; because she bids him look up to heaven, whence cometh aid, I give her my countenance and support. How the charge brought against our Order, of being the encourager of Infidelity, can be sustained, is to me inexplicable; how any of the initiated can hold views subversive of revelation, or practice vices destructive of peace and happiness, both social and civil, is beyond my comprehension. For at every step we take we are reminded of our duty to God, and of the efficacious intercession of our adorable Redeemer; we are taught the necessity of a pure heart, as the work of the renewing spirit, and as the condition upon which alone eternal life can be secured. Wherever we turn our eyes, we behold the fundamental truths of the gospel strikingly represented by various significant emblems. We are directed to the Star which led the wise men to Bethlehem, proclaiming to mankind the nativity of the Son of God, and here conducting our spiritual progress to the author of redemption. The uncertainty of life, with its chequered scenes, is ever before us; we are reminded that there is no escape from the piercing arrows of death; that today, the sun of prosperity and joy may shine upon our persons and families, health and strength may invigorate our frame, and we only feel the sorrow of another's woe; but tomorrow, nay, perhaps, before this day closes its light, some friendly heart may sigh over our breathless corpse, Alas! my Brother. The coffin lies before us, the skull and bones are presented to our view, and though the solemn thought of death, without the assurance of revelation, is dark and gloomy, yet the Christian is suddenly revived by the evergreen and ever-living sprig of faith, in the merits of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, which strengthens him with confidence to look forward to a blessed immortality. The precepts of industry, and fidelity to God and man, the virtues of Fortitude, Temperance, Justice and Prudence, are constantly inculcated. Now what is there in all this, calculated in the remotest degree, to encourage infidel opinions, or profligate immorality? Rather is there not in it every thing to recommend it to a Christian's notice? Masonry has been well described as the handmaid of the gospel; in espousing it, there is of necessity no compromise of principle, no temptation to neglect Christian duty.
The ends designed by human society are the glory of God, and the well-being of man; as unity is designed to promote these objects, it must be good; and whatever tends to bring about that blessing surely ought to be supported, not reprobated. Now Masonry, in order that her sons may be stimulated to a life of virtuous purity, teaches thein to love as brethren, to dwell together in unity. This is an eternal rule of right, an express requirement of the Divine law; it is an injunction founded on the fitness of things, and is such as every one would desire others to observe in relation to himself. It inculcates agreement, good order, friendship and happiness. It forbids scandal, backbiting and evil speaking; all jealousies in families, division and wrath among men. It teaches man to be content with the lot assigned him by Providence, to give every man his due, tribute to whom tribute, custom to whom custom. The poor, by the observance of this law, envy not the rich; and the rich neither scorn nor oppress the poor. Oh! how many of the troubles and vexations of life would be unknown, if this precept were only obeyed!
To bring about such an observance is one, among the many important objects, which our Order has in view. In this respect it is a handmaid to Christianity. Within the Lodge is assembled a family animated by one desire, and influenced by one motive, Brotherly Love: no angry passions are allowed to arise; no violent discussions to provoke dissension; no political sentiments to disturb unanimity. What Christianity is designed to effect universally, Masonry, which has caught its spirit, effects partially; for her motto too is, "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will towards men."
Is it asked, what good has Masonry done? If we answered, that it has promoted pure friendship, encouraged the virtues which adorn life, and disarmed prejudice of its poison, this would be saying much; but we shall answer the question with greater satisfaction by asking another: What evil can grow out of a society, whose avowed object and aim is the amelioration of human misery and wretchedness; whose distinguishing doctrines are Faith in God, Hope in Immortality, and Charity to all mankind?"
We have no right to expect, my Brethren, that our ancient Order will escape the reproaches and evil insinuations of those who understand neither the principle on which it is based, nor the end it seeks to attain. Even the benign Gospel of Jesus Christ, which offers to man such peace as passes his understanding, has been maligned with bitterness, and persecuted with rage. But notwithstanding every combination against it, it stands firm as a rock of adamant; yes, the vengeance denounced against it, the violence that has descended upon it, has left just as great an impression as the sea on an iron-bound coast, lashed into fury by the tempest, but retiring unavenged. When we shall have passed off this busy scene, it will be handed down to the generations that succeed us, pure and unchanged, amid the revolutions of time. Empires have been dissolved, kingdoms have been annihilated, monarchs dethroned, while Masonry stands erect and uninjured. Go where you please, visit every tribe, of every hue, of every tongue, you will find the Brother, whose foot will be swift to your relief, whose ear will be opened to your cry, whose hands will be uplifted to protect you. And why is this? Because Masonry speaks the language of kindness to all the initiated, regarding all as mutually engaged in promoting each other's welfare; yes, the secret of her permanency is this: while other institutions have depended upon their own supposed excellence, she has based her system on God's unchanging Word. And considering the universality of her language, the ready access she has to every nation on earth, the reception she meets with in the bosom of all grades of society, methinks our Order might be made a most effective instrument in the hands of Christian men for the evangelizing of the world. The Prince on his throne, the peasant in his cottage, could be approached with confidence; and a listening ear to the invitations of the gospel, be gained by those who seek to spread the glad tidings of salvation. Thus Masonry is a passport to every land, an introduction to every society. The traveller finds a home in every clime. The soldier goes forth to battle, and whilst the sword is uplifted to strike the fatal blow, a recognizance is made, and life is spared. The sailor cast upon the strand needs but make the sign, and comfort and safety are his; and the missionary, laboring in foreign lands, thwarted, opposed and rejected, may, on joining our Brotherhood, find a hearing.
Although the admonition of the Evangelist, to love as brethren, embraces all mankind, being the children of one Father, still it is my duty to remind you that this chain ought to surround and unite, more perfectly and indissolubly, the inner circle formed by the Masonic Order. Permit me then to point out the way by which the tie that binds us in friendship may become more lasting, and by which the fruits of our love may be more bountiful and blessed.
It is in vain for us to talk of love to our Brethren, unless we can prove that we love God. We may give our goods to feed the poor; we may even make great sacrifices to supply their need; we may give our bodies to be burned; and yet after all, lack Charity, the very bond of peace and all virtues. Love to God is the test of love to man. Our benevolence may command attention and call forth the admiration of our fellows, but in the sight of God it will be worthless, unless
it proceed from a principle of obedience to His commandments. Christian love, which is alone acceptable, is proved solely by the fruits of righteousness. Let me beseech you, then, rest not satisfied with the ceremonies of your Order, nor yet with the speculations of Philosophy; but, with care and diligence, cultivate those graces and virtues so beautifully typified by our significant emblems. The Bible, that never is closed in the Lodge, proclaims the glorious truths that are worthy our belief and practice, points out the way to eternal life, and fits us for the glorious inheritance of the saints. Let us search those Scriptures.
The motto that we should wear, not only on our foreheads, but on the side-posts and lintels of our doors, should ever be "Holiness to the Lord;" then should our enemies be put to silence, and the object of our Order be fully answered. We should love God, and by consequence love our Brethren.
True love is inseparable from godliness. If we then would advance the interests of our Order, accomplish the object it is designed to promote, we shall strive to adorn the doctrine of God in all things; and with hearts filled with love to the Supreme Architect of the Universe, our stream of Charity to our fellow-creatures will flow with so strong a current, that others seeing our consistency, will be led to enrol their names in the Masonic Registry.
Let us walk worthy of our high calling, be diligent in our good cause, never relax our efforts, until all within the circle of our influence shall have feit the benefit of our labor; until the needy shall have been relieved, the unhappy comforted, the vicious reclaimed and the ignorant informed.
And may the blessing of the God of Love rest on you during your pilgrimage, and after your sojourn here is ended, may you be admitted into that heavenly Temple above, where Faith is swallowed up of sight, Hope ends in fruition, and Charity blossoms for evermore!
APPROPRIATE FOR A SUB.. G.'. LODGE OF PERFECTION.
Lo! Nature guards our vestal fire,
Which never, never can expire!
With hearts unwilling e'er to falter,
We here surround our common altar.
Religion builds it; and a beam
From heaven's own throne-no fitful gleam
Wraps it in flame. While hand in hand
We round this blazing altar stand,
Let us as elect Masons true,
Virtue's eternal league renew.
While celebrating Friendship's feasts,
To HIM who hears and seals each vow.
Glory to God! who reigns above,
BY JOSEPH R. CHANDLER, ESQ., P. G. M. OF THE G. L. OF PENN.
To be a good Mason, a simple, unjeweled Brother, is to have all the good principles, and to practice all the virtues which can be imputed to the highest officer of the Craft. Other qualities joined to these, and various circumstances, commend a Mason to official station; but these make beautiful and useful all of every grade.
1st. A Mason must be obedient.-It is one of the first of Masonic virtues to be obedient, to bend to the high authority that is above, to feel that the officer in whose presence he stands, is clothed with rights and powers that command respect. The character and worldly condition of the man is merged in the officer, and he sits in the east not to exercise an arbitrary, but a delegated power; and he is thus in some degree the infallible exponent of the rules and landmarks of the Craft, the impersonation of the genius and the authority of Masonry. The good Mason inquires what are the rules, the prescriptive regulations? what are those customs of the Craft that are to effect the members? He asks thus that he may adopt them as governing causes, and that he may throw himself into their influences, and thus mould and fashion his Masonic life by all their action, and make it comformable with all their requirements. He may startle at some exposition of the hidden laws; but no sooner does he find them obligatory, than he yields himself up to willing obedience, and sacrifices to the genius of the Craft, all of personal predilection in that regard.
2d. A Mason must be constant.-No man is ever endued with the spirit of our Craft without having that fixed attachment to its principles, its ordinances, and its labors, which makes him a willing attendant upon the Lodges, and induces in him a constantly growing fondness for our assemblies. The man who catches the honors of the Craft, and leaves the Lodge as he hands to his successor the jewels of his place, may have some of the secrets of Freemasonry, but he has none of its principles. His attachments are to the fleeting honors of the officer; he knows nothing of the constancy of the true and faithful Brother.
3d. A Mason must be faithful.-Fidelity implies a strict conformity to all the solemn requirements of a Master Mason; a full, perfect, continued fulfillment of all the obligations of the Craft; obligations deep, strict, unconditional—asseverated, sealed with awful solemnities; obligations to do and to forbear. To some of these I may not, and I need not, refer with more distinctness. But fidelity-the fidelity of a Mason, involves a watchful care; a delicate but unwinking vigilance upon all that concerns the Craft. No movement that has a direct bearing upon the Order can escape the faithful Mason's notice; he sees the evil and gives the aların. Our Order is wounded through the Brethren. Her glory is the pure morals and correct principles of her children. Her shame is found in neglected ordinances, a desolate fraternity. Can, then, a true Mason see a Brother falling into errors, lapsing from the path of rectitude, wandering away after the enticements of pleasant vices, and neglect the solemn duty of admonition? Can he admonish, lure, entreat the erring Brother in vain, and yet be faithful, if he neglect to inform the Craft of the danger they incur by the relaxed morals of the offender? Surely not. He forgets the letter and the spirit of the Craft; he overlooks the ties that bind him by one link to the Brother, and by another to the Order, and cowardly and traitorously lets the enemy of our race get possession of the heart of a Brother to whom he should give due and timely notice; and he lets that enemy of our Institution find ingress to our Lodges, secreted in the bosom of a vicious Brother. Fidelity to the Craft involves the unpleasant duty of rebuking the erring as well as of admonishing the tempted Brother.
4th. A Mason must be charitable. Of all the words in our language, there seems to be none so much abused as the term, charity. With some, the charitable man is he that gives his thousands of dollars to an object of public benevolence, or who doles a small portion to the beggar at the door. Either act may be charitable, or it may be a contemptible ostentation, as undeserving the name of virtue,