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PREACHED BEFORE THE GRAND LODGE OF COMMUNICATION,
ON ST. JOHN BAPTIST'S DAY, JUNE 24, 1795, IN ST. PETER'S CHURCH, PHILADELPHIA.
ECCLESIASTES, ii. 21.
There is a Man, whose Labour is in Wisdom, and in Know
ledge, and in Equity.*
THIS text addresses you, Brethren, in the language of our great master, Solomon, who, after a consummate investigation of the good and evil things under the Sun, and the final tendency of all the labours of man, places him whose labours are “ in Wisdom and Knowledge and Equity,” in the same illustrious point of view, as the man who discharges the whole duties of Humanity, by“ fearing God and keeping His Commandments.”
The emphatical meaning of the word Man, as used by our master, Solomon, in the Philosophical and Masonic sense of this text, I need not explain in this splendid assembly of Masons. It is understood within the walls of the congregated Lodge, and
carried abroad into the world by every true Brother, in the Grand Lodge of the heart.
As such a Man, I would strive to acquit myself on this occasion. Forty years will this day have finished the long period, since I first addressed, from this pulpit, a Grand Communication of Brethren, with our great fellow-labourer, the venerable Franklin, at their head; and frequent have been the calls upon me for similar addresses, during the important æra that hath since succeeded.
It was with reluctance, therefore, that I engaged in this day's duty, knowing that I had little new to offer; and that little must be offered, with a great decay of former vigour, both of body and mind.
But the unanimous request of the Brotherhood operates as a command on me, once more to undertake what I trust they will accept as a final labour among them; squared by the Rules of Wisdom and Equity, and mensurated by the best Compass of my Knowledge; taking as a model not only the labours of Solomon, but of one greater than Solomon, so far as they can be imitated, namely, the Great Architect of the world; all whose labours are in the Infinite Perfection of Wisdom and Knowledge and Equity. For
“Before the foundations of this Terrestrial Lodge were laid-before the Almighty Fiat was pronounced-before the Sun, and the Moon, and the Stars appeared, as the beauty of Heaven, and an ornament giving light in the highest places of the Lord-Hethe great Architect-in his stupendous Wisdom and Knowledge and Equity and Love, breathing on the vast abyss of Chaos, surveyed the uncreated images of things, in the comprehension of his own unbounded mind, and commanded them to exist, according to Order, and in Measure, Number and Weight!"*
Then, from the innumerable worlds which He spoke into existence, He chose this Earth, as the temporary Lodge of Man; and distinguished him, above its other inhabitants, with a rational soul, according to His own divine Image! For, as Solomon adds, “ His spirit rejoiceth in the habitable parts of “ His Earth, and His delights are with the sons of
Wherefore, Man, being thus distinguished above the rest of the creatures of this world, by the superior qualities of his soul, was designed for superior pursuits; and his chief labours were to be “in Wisdom, in Knowledge, and in Equity”—that he might rise into more intimate kindred with the exalted Beings of superior Worlds.
From this source, therefore, namely, from the Soul and more dignified faculties of Man, flowed the Sciences, as from their true fountain; whose streams, rolling still deeper and clearer, through the channels of Time, have flowed even unto Us in this new World; brightening and enlarging their current, further as they flow!
The Masonic reader will readily allow, that in different Masonic Ser. mons, even by different Authors, repetitions and copying from each other, 30 far as concerns the mysteries of the Craft, Metaphors, Allusions, &c. are unavoidable.
† Prov. ch. 31.
Nor have any of the sons of men laboured more strenuously, for clearing and widening and deepening the channels of Arts and Sciences, than the fraternity of true Masons, from ancient to modern times. In all ages,
every country and climate, on Land and on Water, under every circumstance, adverse and prosperous, they have adhered to the Rules of their Craft, seeking to adorn the precepts of their chief Master Solomon, and to merit individually the character of a Man, whose labours are in Wisdom, and in Knowledge, and in Equity.
The Arts and Sciences, are the grand pillars, which support the Fabric of human Wisdom, and are in turn supported by it. The Arts, in practical life, produce magnificent buildings to delight the eye, and accommodate man with terrestrial Lodges; while the Sciences, especially as improved and exalted by the divine science of Christianity, produce moral order, and all the charities of Friendship and brotherly Love, to humanize the heart; and lead to piety, both in speculation and practice; to comfort us in our walk below, and prepare us for our seat in the celestial Lodge above.
Seeing, therefore, that this happy union of science with art, produces such a valuable issue, we are not to wonder at the honours paid to those great Men, and Master Masons, who have benefited the world by their Ingenuity and their labours of Wisdom and Knowledge and Equity; nor are we to neglect the proper occasions of displaying their illustrious example, for the imitation of others.
The memory of those great Craftsmen, who first taught mankind to build, to plant, to sow, to defend the body from injury, and to adorn the mind with knowledge, will still be held dearer, and more precious, to a man whose labours are in Wisdom and Knowledge and Equity; than the memory of the most renowned Conquerors, though mounting to a throne, through the spoils of War, and the devastation of Nations!
To the discoveries in Science, we owe our acquaintance with the works and wonders of Nature, have been enabled to travel the ocean, and behold the wonders of the great Deep; to explore the starry Heavens, to pursue the eccentric comet through its long and devious track, to measure the swiftness of a sun-beam, and the rapid journies of Light; to trace the divine Wisdom and Agency, not only in the greatest, but the minutest parts of His works; and this enlargement of our knowledge of the works of creation, has enlarged our conceptions of the Creator, the mighty Lord of Cherubin and Seraphin—the immortal and invisible God!
It is thus that by the good examples of labourers of this kind, and as we are further instructed by the precepts and example of our heavenly master Christ in his Gospel, that we reap the glorious crop of Christian virtues; which calm and cheer the conscience, purify the heart, and maintain Concord, Unity, Friendship, Charity and brotherly Love in the Lodge; thereby opening a happy intercourse of love, between the Workmen upon earth, and their great Master in heaven.
Now, since it hath pleased Him, that the cunning Craftsman, the learned Philosopher and the good Man,