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We proceed then, under the directing influence of this luminous body, to inquire into the nature, origin, and end of masonry. What is masonry Masonry is, like our divine Master, made up of body, soul and spirit. The body is the aggregate of symbolic materials, signs and figures; the soul is the divinity manifested through these materials; and the spirit is the animating principle proceeding from the union of both. This will more abundantly appear in the progress of our inquiries.
First, The origin of our sublime craft. Little can be gleaned from the first ages of the world; it is in the middle age of time, that our ancient and honourable order attained its maturity.
Masonry becomes manifest by its contrast. The false and the true masonry is exhibited in the tower of Babel, and the temple of Solomon, in their situation, materials, motives of the builders, and the names of the buildings, TOWER OF BABEL, TEMPLE OF SOLOMON.
Secondly. The dispersion. Colony emigrating to Egypt. The Grecians. One of their sages drawn forth from obscurity, where he had been long concealed, under the name of Peter Gower, who we are informed by the ingenious and indefatigable compiler of our constitutions was no other than Pythagoras. Knowledge did not then fly on paper wings through the world, as it hath since done. This sage sought, and obtained admittance into the society of the craftsmen of Egypt, and returned richly freighted to his native island. Hence, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temple, and the cloud capt tower. The scattered fragments of many of these stupendous fabrics.
Thirdly, The arts progress, and artists multiply. For the security and improvement of the craft, and the advantage of the craftsmen, they formed Lodges, and they established rulers.
No mason is a free mason, until he has served a regular apprenticeship; none are accepted until they are free; hence the expression, free and accepted masons. Men of distinguished characters patronized the craft, and attaching themselves to the craftsmen, they were admitted as honourary members, first, however, submiting to prescribed conditions, upon which, these honourary members became free, and consequently accepted.
Certificates granted to either, admitted them into the Lodges of their fellow craftsmen, in any part of the world. But those certifi. cates might be forged, and for the purpose of preventing fraud, masons, upon admittance, were instructed in certain words and signs, which they were bound, by the most 'solemn obligations, never to divulge. By those words and signs, a brother could, and can make
himself known, where his certificate cannot be read, nor his vernacular tongue be understood. Communications of this description are inade in the midst of darkness, as well as at the noon of day, and fraternal affection, like electricity, instantly imparted from one to the other, and diffused through their respective frames.
Honourary members improved and sublimated the masonic art, and have ultimately conducted it to that perfection, which the great Architect originally designed.
Fourthly, Masonry is a system of religion, which may be properly described under the figure of a tree. But to trace its sublimity and mystery, in its highest perfection, we must revert to the days of Solomon; to his wisdom; to Hiram ; to the materials for building the temple ; to the framing it under the eye of the master. We must view the temple ; its foundation, corner, and top stone. We must enter; we must knock, and it will be opened unto us. We must put off the shoes from our feet--Examine the light; the oracle; the mercy seat ; the cherubims; of what they are cornposed; their attitude; the direction of their eyes; the veil; the pillars before the temple. We must consider the queen of the south; the collected wisdom of Solomon; the house that he built ; the meat of his table ; the sitting of his servants; the attendance of his ministers; and their apparel ; and his cup bearers; and his ascent by which he went up to the house of the Lord.
Kings and emperors were, in the old world, attached to our order, and amongst ourselves we can name men, brethren, on whom, a kingly or imperial crown could confer no additional splendour. We could bring a cloud of witnesses to support our asser, tion; we content ourselves with naming only two, WARREN and WASHINGTON
Fifthly, Exhortations to diligence are salutary to every description of men. Works of faith, and labours of love, are always beau. tiful; such manifestations are best calculated to silence gainsayers ; they convince and they convert.
“ The opposers will admire,
HERE are, it seems, who embrace so confidently the doctrines taught by the apostles of our Lord as to affirm, “There is nothing left for them to do”!!! This is a gross deception; for the Redeemer hath said, he who would be his disciple must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow him. I really believe there is not an individual in the world, who thinks he has nothing to do. I suppose all that the professors of faith in the doctrines of God the. Saviour mean, is
at they have not that to do, which God hath declared was done by the Saviour, and so far they are right. Whatever Christ Jesus did was perfect, it required no addition ; and whatever injunctions he hath laid upon his purchased possession, are of a nature totally distinct from their eternal salvation. But to be disciples of Jesus Christ, we must deny. Deny what? Deny ourselves. Believers do this; but those who consider themselves as actually concerned in the grand work of redemption, do not deny themselves, they own themselves; and whether they consider themşelves as the Alpha or the Omega, if they be at all necessary, it would not be just for them to deny themselves. It is only him, who is a believer in the doctrine of God our Saviour, that can deny himself. The believer does not view himself as having any personal existence in the work of salvation ; like the younger brother of Esau, considering his own name exposed to a curse rather than a blessing, he gladly relinquishes it, and assuming the name and dress of his elder brother; in other words, putting on the Lord Jesus, he asks for every blessing in his name.
PERhaps it is better we should still remain unacquainted with the magnitude of human wickedness. I am not very fond of those who are constantly labouring to prove, that there is no excellence in our nature. Were there really no excellence in our nature, we should stand a single exception to the works of God but the assertion is not true. It is a fact, there are none divinely good, but one, that is, God. But while we discover so much good in every part of animated nature, why should we deny some portion of good to the lords of the creation? Yet should we uniformly deny every
good to man, facts, blessed be God, would be stronger than our most potent arguments. I, myself, have had sweet experience of human excellence through the journey of life, through a journey which would else have been indeed dreary. I have not, I never had any quarrel with human excellence, except when it presumes to dethrone my Saviour, when it would take the crown from the head of Jesus Christ and place it upon that of the sinner. Nothing short of perfection, undeviating perfection, can satisfy him, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. When, therefore, our imper. fect works are made the matter of our justification in his sight, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, it is then that I becoine jealous for the Redeemer with a godly jealousy.
Christians, I trust, genuine believers, will have too much gratitude, too much love for their Saviour, to mingle with those who are devoted to folly. Those who can make the comparison will not hesitate in preferring virtue to vice. Virtue hath in every view, abundant advantage over vice; Christians may derive benefit from the greatest evil. I pray God that the genuine believer may remain steadfast and immoveable, always confessing, and that from convic. tion, that even if there were no hereafter, it would be the interest of every individual to persevere in the paths of rectitude. It is wisdom's ways alone that are ways of pleasantness; it is her paths alone, that are paths of peace--Right well is my soul acquainted with this truth.
I trust I shall never look with any, but a single eye to the Author of salvation ; I trust I shall never expect deliverance from the curse of the law, and a title to everlasting life from any power or in any name, but the name of Christ Jesus.
But as my future happiness depends upon my knowledge of this truth, so does my present felicity rest on my conduct in life. If I sow to the flesh, I shall of the flesh reap corruption.
WHAT is the second death? It is certainly death, not life. But the disciples of Mr. W. inform us, it has been administered, and is administering with different duration by the law and by the gospel!! Amazing! the second death administered by the gospel! Surely, the gospel is not the administration of death ; the gospel is glad tidings to every creature. But can the administration of the second death be glad tidings to every creature? The equity of God, in punishing the wicked and rewarding the goed, is a standing
theme. But if there be equity in punishing human sinners as breakers of God's law, it must follow that Jesus did not make reconciliation for iniquity, that he did not fulfil the law nor satisfy divine justice, that he hath not made an end of sin and completed his work, by finishing transgression. But if he did not, where was the equity of Christ's sufferings? And if he died for the ungodly, where is the equity of justice when demanding two payments for one debt? Suppose we could prove, that some were entitled by their own deeds of righteousness to life eternal, and that they were thus rewarded by their own individual righteousness, where then would the grace appear? There is no grace in rewarding the good. The good deserve a reward. How does it appear that the gift of God is eternal life?
It is said, every unregenerated individual will receive, according to the various degrees of sin which may be committed, a corres. ponding punishment. If by generation is meant something done by the creature, that satisfies the justice of God for the breach of his law in time past, and effectually guards against sinning in future, then the reward to them is of debt; but if this regeneration, whether we consider it in Christ Jesus or in ourselves, be the work of God, the reward is undoubtedly due to the worker.
Again, If the generation, so warmly advocated, admits of sin, and the soul that sinneth shall die, and if those who are considered regenerated, offend in many things, and God is no respecter of persons, will not divine justice exercise its rigours on the regenerate? Why should not a regenerate sinner be as much subject to death as an unregenerate sinner? What reason have we to suppose that some crimes render the sinner the object of divine wrath, and others do not?
In one thing, however, I perfectly agree with my religious brethren; no one can be perfectly happy, until he be perfectly holy; hence, in the present state, our felicities are always imperfect. But, blessed be God, there is such a thing as living by faith on the Son of God, whom, having not seen, we love. We endure as seeing what is invisible.
As long as the least spot remains, we cannot be admitted where nothing that defileth can enter; and hence, the propriety of our Saviour's thoroughly purging his floor, and then gathering his wheat into his garner. Hence, he will give his angels charge to gather out of his kingdom every thing that offends, which things