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Without suspicion of being betrayed in our words, or ensnared in the openness of our dealings, our mirth here is undisguised, is governed by prudence, tempered with love, and cloathed in charity:—thus it standeth void of offence:—no malicious mind warps, innocent expressions to wicked constructions, or interprets unmeaning jests into sarcasms or satires; but as every sentiment flows full of benevolence, so every ear here, is attuned to the strain, in harmonious concord, and tastes the pleasures of festivity so pure, that they bear our reflections, in the morning, without remorse.
Peace, regularity, and decorum, which, we observed, were indispensible duties here, are not the offspring of controul, or the issue of authority; but a voluntary service, which every man brings to the lodge.
There are seasons indeed, in which authority is properly exercised;—man is frail;—the most prudent may sometimes deviate,—it was a maxim of the ancient philosophers, u that to err is human;" therefore in the lodge there ought to be a constant governor, who should restrain the improprieties which may creep in among us, by any brother coming here after an intemperance in liquor.
Another degree of brotherly love which should prevail here, is to hear the petitions of every member of this society with tenderness and attention.—Where there is at any time a brother of our community sick or in distress, the case of his calamities should come here represented by a brother, who will neither deceive us, nor hold back any part of his merits:—and the lodge must testify all due regard, by receiving the petition patiently, and giving relief according to the deserts.
The most material part of that brotherly love which should subsist among masons, is that of speaking well of each other to the world:—more especially it is expected of every member of this fraternity, that he should not traduce his brother.—Calumny and slander are detestable crimes against society.—Nothing can be viler than to traduce a man behind his back; it is like the villany of an assassin, who has not virtue enough to give his adversary the means of self-defence; but lurking in darkness, stabs him whilst he is unarmed, and unsuspicious of an enemy.
Of this crime, the much-admired poet Shakespear has given a just description.
"The man who steals my purse, steals trash;
Calumny has this direful consequence, that it carries with it not a momentary effect only, but endures for time uncounted.—The wickedness of the world is such, that it is greedy of scandal; and when once the voice of defamation hath uttered its poison, like a pestilence it smites and contaminates;—it spreads jealousies in families, division and wrath among friends, urges fathers against children, and brother against brother.—When once the pernicious talc gets birth, it cannot be recalled; and thence the sinner's penitence is not capable of expiation: for the evil consequences may lay dormant in the womb of futurity, and become an intail of sorrow on the third and fourth generation of him that is injured.—What malice and mischief, what infernal disposition, must actuate the mind which is capable of defaming the innocent!— there is no crime of which such a wretch might not be the perpetrator;—against such a villain there is no armour for defence;—he assaults the naked and unsuspicious, and like the contagion of some horrid disease, he smiteth whilst the victim sleeps.—Justice is disarmed against such a sinner, as concealment is his safeguard, and only the eye of heaven discovers his iniquity.
It is not only expected of masons, that they should, with a conscientious soul, refrain from evil-speaking; but also, that they should speak well of each other.
To give a man his just and due character, is so easy a duty, that it is not possible for a benevolent mind to avoid it's —it is a degree of common justice which hoilcsty itself prompts one to.—It is not enough that we refrain from slander; but it is required of masons that they should speak graciously and with affection, withholding nothing that can be uttered to a brother's praise or good name with truth.—What a pleasure doth it give the heart, feeling benevolent dispositions, to give praises where due,—There is a selfish joy in good speaking, as self-approbation succeeds it. —Besides, the breast of such a man feels enlarged, whilst he utters the praise due to his neighbour; and he experiences all the finest sensations of love, whilst he moves others to feel for the same object of his regard..
The neutral disposition, frigid and reserved, neither tends to good nor evil;—but the man tasting bro, therly love, is warm to commend.—It is an easy and cheap means of bestowing good gifts and working good works;—for by a just praise to industry, you recommend the industrious man to those to whom he might never be known, and thereby enlarge his credit and his trade.—By a just commendation of merit, you may open the paths of advancement through those whose power might never have been petitioned.—By a proper praise of genius and art, you may rouse the attention of those patrons to whom the greatest deservings mighf haveiemained a secret. It is a degree of justice which every man has a right to, from his brother, that his virtues be not concealed.
To shroud the imperfections of our friend, and cloak his infirmities, is Christian-like and charitable, consequently befitting a mason:—even the truth should not be told at all times; for where we cannot approve, we should pity in silence—What pleasure or profit can there arise by exposing the secrets of a brother?— To exhort him, is virtuous;—to revile him, is inhuman;—and to set him out as an object of ridicule, is infernal.
From hence we must necessarily determine, that the duty of a good man leads to work out the works of benevolence; and his heart is touched with joy, whilst he acts within these precepts.
Let us therefore be stedfast and immoveable in our ordinances, that we be proved to have a tongue of good report.
ON THE OCCUPATIONS OF MASONS.
In the former lectures we have declared it to be the opinion, that Masons, in the present state of Masonry, were never a body of architects.—^By the book of constitutions published by authority, we see no grand communication held in form, till of very late date: neither is there any evidence therein to contradict the positions we have laid down.—The succession therein described, is by no means to be accepted and understood in a literal sense; but as a pedigree or chronological table of the servants of the Deity, working the duties of righteousness.
"we ground a judgment of the nature of out profession on our ceremonials, and flatter ourselves every mason will be convinced that they, have not relation to building and architecture, but are emblematical, and imply moral, and spiritual, and religious tenets.^—It appears self-evident, that the situation of the lodge, and its several parts, are copied after the tabernacle and temple, and are representative of the universe, implying that the universe is the temple in which the Deity is every where present; our mode of teaching the principles of our profession, is derived from the Druids; cur maxims of morality, from Pythagoras; our chief emblems, originally from Egypt; to Basilides we owe the science of Abrax, and the characters of those emanations of the Deity which we have adopted, and which are so necessary for the