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THE

FREEMASON’S LIBRARY.

ORIGIN OF MASONRY.

To proclaim and encourage virtue, in whatever form it

, may appear, is truly laudable, and will always meet with the approbation of the good in this, and every other country. Such has been the endeavour of FREEMASONRY, from the earliest periods to the present day.

When the wild savage leaped from his den, in all the horrors of barbarian ferocity; and men knew no rights but those of the strongest: FREEMASONRY, shackled, but not destroyed, exerted itself in filial tenderness, parental regard, an adoration of some deity, and gratitude for benevolent actions.

In the dark pages of primeval history, when mad ambition rashly overrun the bounds of property, trod uncontrouled the barren wilds of savage freedom: it was then that the Originals of our present Order, framed the rude but glorious superstructure of the moral world: and we plainly perceive that Masonry has in all ages been instrumental in ameliorating the condition of the human race.

The disciples of Religion and Vitruvious, have in all ages gone hand in hand; and we see the moral and divine precepts of the gospel have, from time immemorial, been introduced under the symbolic expressions of Masonic art.

FREEMASONRY (or VIRTUE, its christian name) ventured to correct the ferocious manners of men, to tame their savage cruelty, convoke their synod, frame their laws, and, with a sort of magic power, convert the lawless robber into the peaceful citizen: 'Twas the order of Philanthropy; or, to speak more modernized, of Freemasonry.

The structures of humanity were often erazed by the inroads of barbarian fury, mutilated by the ignorant monk, and, in ancient times, often prostituted to the service of an ecclesiastic council; where debate, rancour, and animosity, with daring projects, were too often seen, through the gilded veil of clerical dignity. The religious, it is well known, ingrossed in the early ages of christianity, the whole stock of general knowledge, together with christian learning; and whatever mankind might be possessed of, flowed through the channels of intolerant zeal, and religious prejudice. The ignorance of monkish transcribers has been already very judiciously detected, in a former Masonic Treatise,* and I fear they have been less merciful, respecting the cardinal expression Philanthropy, erasing the four first letters and inserting Mis, exposed to the world that horrid collection of Letters, MISANTHROPY.

From this mistake alone religious persecution raged, carnage strewed the plains with the mangled bodies of our noble ancestors, laid waste the ripening fields of golden hara vest, and devastation raged, until the Masonic spirit broke open the monastic prison and exposed the holy cheat; by them has the original expression ever been held sacred.

From that period the clouds of darkness began to disappear. Virtue travelled westerly, and meeting with patrons, has now fixed her seat, with imperial greatness, in the Grand and Subordinate Lodge of North America,

It is a public misfortune, that the purity of manners of a Society, which exceeds every other, should not be more generally known among all ranks, especially the lower orders; the people have been long ignorant of the Masonic principles. Virtue, when hunted from her abode on the Continent of Europe, seems to have formed her only phalanx in this Society: to wipe the tear from the eye of distress, to cheer the heart of the unfortunate, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and prevent, by anticipation, the wants of the unfortunate, has always been the practice of Masons.

*See Annotations of Mr. Locke, under the name of Peter Gower, in Prescan's Illustrations of Masonry, p. 136.

We may equal, but cannot surpass such actions: it is not here they can be excelled; and it is our fervent wish that people may no longer be ignorant of the principles of the institution; such a confession, indeed, reflects on themselves as men: nor should they perplex the mind in the minute investigation of the secret signs, when they reflect that the base of this Order is Charity, the figurative and typical emblenis are illustrations of a nobler subject. Buildings, however strong or noble, will decay; but Virtue, immortal Virtue! takes its flight from these to the celestial abodes, and is at last received into the bosom of its God.

Far different from the design of many meetings of the day, whose prominent feature is excess, the Freemasons are a standing exception; they revel in Charity and riot in nobleness of heart.

Freemasons are a public benefit to the world, uniting in the strongest ties the people of all countries; their language is as general as that of the eyes, and in all parts of the globe it is understood; by communicative signs it has become peculiarly valuable, and Freemasons possess, what the learned have sought in vain, an invariable cypher for : general communication: theirs is a sort of personal shorthand.

We now come to the operative part, called MASONRY, which is distinct from the social aim of the Institution, although the original cause of it.

This consists in rearing stately fabrics to the honor of God, the glory of our country, and the welfare of the public; and as we in that must observe the strictest order and regularity in the course of the work, so we must in the other act upon the square, and frame our behaviour to the good of society, the honour of our Order, and the credit of every individual: as the more a building is ornamented with ingenious devices, the more it redounds to the honour of the workman; so here, the more accomplishments men possess, the higher they will rise in the estimation of their brethren. Among them every art and science is alternately treated; it forms within itself a living encyclopædia, where every one adorns his subject with the most instructive lessons. It is to be hoped that the Masonic will in time thoroughly agree with the Social part; we already behold the graves of society (convents) in a great degree abolished; and may they ever continue so! I am sure, no Freemason wishes the Craft to erect another, under the mask of religious retirement,

for ever to exclude a brother from the social intercourse of civilized life. In recounting the many stately edifices raised by architectural skill, we admire, we stand astonished at the art: but when reflection weighs in the scales of reason the various ends for which they were founded, we admire the work, but detest the purposes of it. The Temples, which locked up the vestal virgins, have now few votaries; and we indulge the pleasing lope, that, in process of time, there will not be such and order as the Inquisition.

These sentiments, we presume, are not hostile to Freemasons, who glow with the love as well as the peace of mankind; their influence, by the aid of an honorable Brother, has already wrested the fetters from the ancles of the galled African, after the toils of a tedious but weak opposition. We feel the most glowing pleasure at thus addressing these sentiments to our brethren, as we daily feel the truth of the observation: “That in every nation a Mason may find a friend, in every climate he may find a home.”

ANTIQUITIES.

MANU

CONSISTING OF A NUMBER OF EXTRACTS FROM OLD

SCRIPTS AND RECORDS IN GREAT BRITAIN.

No. I.

An old Manuscript which was destroyed with many others in

1720, said to have been in the possession of Nicholas Stone, a curious Sculptor under Inigo Jones, contains the following particulars:

"Sr. Alban loved Masons well, and cherished them much, and made their pay right good; for he gave them 2s. per weeke, and sd. to their cheer; whereas, before that time, in all the land, a Mason had but a penny a day, and his meat, until St. Alban mended itt. And he gott then a charter from the king and his counsel for to hold a general counsell, and gave itt to name Assooblie. Thereat he was bimselfc, and did helpe to make Masons, and gave them good charges.

II.

A Record of the Society, written in the reign of Edward IV. formerly in the possession of the famous Elias Ashmole,

founder of the Museum at Oxford, and unfortunately destroyed, with other papers on the subject of Masonry, at the revolution, gives the following account of the State of Masonry at that period:

“Though the ancient records of the Brotherhood in England were many of them destroyed or lost in the wars of the Saxons and Danes, yet king Athelstane (the grandson of king Alfrede the great, a mighty architect,) the first anointed king of England, and who translated the Holy Bible into the Saxon tongue, (A. D. 930) when he had brought the land into rest and peace, built many great works, and encouraged many Masons from France, who were appointed overseers thereof, and brought with them the charges and regulations of the Lodges, preserved since the Roman times; who also prevailed with the king to improve the constitution of the English Lodges according to the foreign model, and to increase the wages of working Masons.

“The said king's brother, Prince Edwin, being taught Masonry, and taking upon him the charges of a Master Mason, for the love he had to the said Craft, and the honourable principles whereon it is grounded, purchased a free charter of king Athelstane, for the Masons having a correction among themselves (as it was anciently expressed,) or a freedom and power to regulate themselves, to amend what might happen amiss, and to hold a yearly communication and general assembly:

“Accordingly Prince Edwin summoned all the Masons in the realm to meet him in a congregation at York, who came and composed a general Lodge, of which he was Grand Master; and having brought with them all the writings and records extant, some in Greek, some in Latin, some in French, and other languages, from the contents thereof that assembly did frame the constitution and charges of an English Lodge, made a law to preserve and observe the same in all time coming, and ordained good pay for working Masons, &c." And he made a book thereof, how the Craft was founded: And he himself ordered and commanded that it should be read and tolde when any Ma

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