Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

connected as they are with the fundamental principles of religion ; that thinking men, though not admitted amongst us, may possess the means of investigating our pretensions, without being able to unravel the web in whose meshes our peculiar secrets are carefully enfolded.

In this work the light actually shines in darkness. I have blended the whole theory with the history of Masonry so minutely, that the most penetrating eye cannot discover a peculiar secret without the legitimate key; and that key is—INITIATION. I do not profess to reveal the secrets of Masonry, or to convey any improper knowledge to those who are not dignified with the name of Brother ; nor have I any wish to be needlessly technical, or to involve the subject more deeply in mystery than its nature demands; my only desire is to place Masonry on tenable ground as a science, and to lend my feeble aid, in the hope of wiping off the opprobrium too frequently attached to its practice by those who, not devoid of candour in other respects, join inconsiderately in the cry against Masonry, without reflecting on its claims, at least to respect, if not to praise and veneration. It is not a proselyting system, it is not made up of plots and conspiracies against peace and social order; it interferes with no other institution, moral or religious; nor does it take any part in the disputes and broils which periodically agitate and enfeeble the ecclesiastical or political world. These negative merits should entitle Masonry to some degree of consideration, at least they should protect it from that thoughtless and indiscriminate censure with which it is too frequently overwhelmed. Its positive m its I do not press here, as they will be copiously unfolded in the following pages, and will shew that our employment is neither puerile nor ridiculous ; but that it consists in critical investigations of human science, history, and religious truth, enlivened by the sweet influences of social converse and mutual communication of happiness.

Without descending to minute particulars, this may be illustrated in a few words. The well known symbols of Masonry are the SQUARE and COMPASSES, which convey the abstract means and end of the science in the most clear and comprehensive manner. The whole system of man's moral and social duties lies on a level, as far as relates to his commerce with this world; but his duties to God rise into a perpendicular, which united emblems form a perfect SQUARE. And hence the propriety of that ornament to decorate the chief governor of the craft, as it points out the high responsibility which rests upon him, not only to teach, but also to perform the great duties which we owe to God and man.* The COMPASSES

not only describe the

* One of the ancient charges of Masonry, which is recited by the master immediately subsequent to the initiation of every candidate, contains the following earnest exhortation : “ As a Mason, I would first recommend to your most anxious

contem,

widely-extended circle of Masonic benevolence, but also represent the boundless power and eternal duration of the Creator and Governor of the universe. And thus it is clear that practical Masonry, in its most extended sense, is but a line extending from the beginning to the end of time, while speculative Masonry is a sphere without dimensions; it fills all space, extends through all extent ; its centre is every where, and its . eircumference no where ; for Masonry is the only order amongst mankind whose beginning and end are equally involved in darkness. For as practical human Masonry comprehends the whole human race, wherever they may be dispersed under the wide canopy of heaven, in one great scheme of social benevolence, so speculative, divine Masonry, comprehends the whole

YOURSELF.

contemplation the volume of the Sacred Law, charging you to consider it as the unerring standard of truth and justice, and to regulate your actions by the divine precepts it contains. Therein you will be taught the important duties you owe to God, your NEIGHBOUR, and

To God, by never mentioning His name but with that awe and reverence which are due from the creature to his Creator; by imploring His aid on all your lawful undertakings, and by looking up to Him in every emergency for comfort and support. To your neighbour, by acting with him upon the square; by rendering him every kind office which justice or mercy may require ; by relieving his distresses, and soothing his afflictions; and by doing to him as in similar cases you would wish him to do to you. And to yourself, by such a prudent and well-regulaied course of discipline as may best conduce to the preservation of your corporeal and mental faculties in their fullest energy; thereby enabling you to exert the talents wherewith God has blessed you, as well to His glory as to the welfare of your fellow-creatures.”

Creation, from the meanest of God's works, through the progressive scale of being, and the peopled regions of unlimited space, to the heavenly mansions of eternal day.

I have endeavoured, in the following disquisitions, to define these two essential parts of Masonry as ininutely as possible, because their separation led to errors of the most deplorable and fatal nature, introduced idolatry, with all its attendant train of defilements, amongst mankind, and offered sacrifices to the spirits of darkness on altars stained with human gore. In successive ages of the world, Masonry alternately emitted a brilliant lustre, or shrunk into obscurity, as the varying shades of a deteriorated worship might preponderate, or casually give way before the effulgent blaze of truth. The five Periods which I have selected for illustration, have been equally distinguished by the practice of Masonry, considered in the perfect union of its operative and speculative forms. This union is essential to Masonry; and the component parts of each are so blended in all its disquisitions, that they can only be separated by a total renunciation of our belief in the existence of a God, and the consequent rejection of the doctrine of a future state. And these results did always follow the unnatural severing of operative and speculative Masonry.

These Periods occupy a space of three thousand years; and I have selected them for illustration, because it is generally believed that Masonry took its rise at the building of King Solomon's Temple. To shew that Masonry existed in its most perfect form before that event, is a sufficient refutation of the opinion. It is true the building and history of that most celebrated edifice furnish matter for illustrations of great interest amongst us, which spring from various causes, and particularly as the two grand divisions of Masonry, which had been long separated, became re-united at that period, and the art was consequently revived, and shone in its full lustre. A new arrangement of the system was at this time rendered necessary by the occurrence of a most melancholy event; which arrangement Masonry retains to this day.

The attempt which I have made, how imperfect soever, to vindicate Masonry from the sneers of erudition, and the irreverent sallies of wit, may induce others, possessing greater leisure and more extensive means of information, to take up the pen in her behalf. The incessant attention which the more weighty and indispensable duties of my profession demand, has left me little time for deep and elaborate research. What I have produced is the mere offspring of relaxation; and if it should stimulate others to pursue the same track, my purpose will be fully accomplished: for Masonry, the more it is examined, the more beau tiful it becomes; and, like the purgation of a precious metal, it rises from each successive ordeal with renewed

« VorigeDoorgaan »