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THIRD, OR MASTER MASON'S DEGREE.
(The enlightened brother Hutchinson, in his elaborate work, entitled the
Spirit of Masonry, from which I have elucidated the present compilation, by copious extracts, commences his lecture on the Master Mason's order as follows:]
The Master Mason's Order. As I at first proposed to investigate the three progressivo orders of Masons, Apprentices, Craftsmen, and Masters, by a definition and description of the several circumstances which attended the worshippers of the true God—so have I, in the former lectures, shewn, that by the Apprentices order is implied, the first knowledge of the God of nature, in the earliest ages of man. Under the Craftsmen, I have shewn the Mosaic legation, and the Jewish temple at Jerusalem: together with the light which men received, for the discovery of the divine wisdom, by geometrical solutions. I now proceed to the third stage, the most sacred and solemn order of Masons, the Master Mason's Order.
Under the Jewish law, the service of God became clouded and obscured by ceremonies and rites, which had daily crept in upon it, through imitation of the neighbouring heathen. When the morals of the Jewish nation were corrupted, civil jurisdiction reeled upon its throne-innovations sapped the religious rule, and anarchy succeeded. No sooner was this compact loosened, than the strength of the Jews was dissolved, and the heathen triumphed in Jerusalem.
The gracious Divinity, perceiving the ruin which was overwhelming mankind, in his benevolence, was moved to redcem us. He saw that the revelation which he had deigned to make of his divinity, might, majesty, and wisdom to the Jewish tribes, was not suflicient to preserve them in their duty: he weighed the frailty of mankind in the balance which his justice suspended, and to their deficiencies he bestowed his mercy. The Egyptians had abused their learning and wisdom; the Jews had polluted God's ordinances and laws; and sin had made her dominion in the strong places of the earth.
Piety, which had planned the temple at Jerusalem, was expunged; the reverence and adoration due to the divinity, was buried in the filth and rubbish of the world; persecution had dispersed the few who retained their obedience, and the name of the true God was almost totally lost and forgotten among men; religion sat mourning in Israel, in sackcloth and ashes, and morality was scattered, as it were, by the four winds of Heaven.
In this situation, it might well be said, "that the guide to heaven was lost, and the master of the works of righteousness was smitten." The nations had given themselves up to the grossest idolatry; Solomon had fallen; and the service of the true God was faced, from the memory of those who had yielded themselves to the dominion of sin.
In order that mankind might be preserved from this dcplorable estate of darkness and destruction, and as the old law was dead, and become rottenness, a new doctrine, and new precepts were wanting to give the key to salvation; in the language of which we might touch the ear of an offended Deity, and bring forth hope for eternity. True religion was fled: “Those who sought her through the wisdom of the ancients were not able to raise her; she eluded the grasp; and their polluted hands were stretched forth in vain for her restoration.” Those who sought her by the old law were frustrated, for “Death had stepped between, and corruption defiled the embrace;" Sin had beset her steps, and the vices of the world had overwhelmed her.
The great Father of all, commiserating the miscries of the world, sent his only son, who was innocence itself, to teach the doctrine of salvation; by whom man was raised from the death of sin, unto the life of righteousness; from the tomb of corruption into the chambers of hope; from the darkness of despair to the celestial beams of faith; and not only working for us this redemption; but making with us the covenant of regeneration; whence we are become the children of the Divinity, and inheritors of the realms of Heaven,
We masons, describing the deplorable estate of religion under the Jewish law, speak in figures. - "Her tomb was in the rubbish and filth cast forth of the temple, and acacia wove its branches over her monument;" áranía, being the Greek word for innocence, or being free from sin; implying that the sins and corruptions of the old law, and devotees of the Jewish altar, had hid religion from those who sought her, and she was only to be found where innocence survived,
and under the banner of the divine lamb; and as to ourselves professing that we were to be distinguished by our acacy, or as true acacians in our religious faith and tenets.*
The acquisition of the doctrine of redemption, is expressed in the typical character of Huramen (Hupmus, inveni) and by the applications of that name with masons, it is implied, that we have discovered the knowledge of God and of bis salvation, and have been redeemed from the death of sin, and the sepulchre of pollution and unrighteousness.t
Thus the master mason represents a man under the christian doctrine, saved from the grave of iniquity, and raised to the faith of salvation.
Prayer at raising a Brother to the Sublime Degree of a Nas
ter Mason. Thou, O God! knowest our down-sitting and our up-rising, and understandest our thoughts afar off. Shield and defend us from the evil intentions of our enemies, and support us under the trials and afflictions we are destined to endure, while travelling through this vale of tears. Man that is born of a woman, is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth as a flower, and is cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee; thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass; turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish bis day. For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. But man dieth and wasteth away, yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is lie? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up, so man lieth down, and riseth not up till the lieavens shall be no more. Yet, O
* Acacia-- Akakia, in antiquity, a roll, or bag, represented on the medals of the Greek and Roman Emperors: some think it is only an handkerchief, which they used as a signal; others take it for a volume, or roll of memorandums or petitions; and others will have it to be a purple bag filled with earth, to remind the prince of his mortality.
# The mason advancing to this state of masonry, pronounces his own sen. tence, as confessional of the imperfection of the second stage of his profession, and as probationary of the exalted degree to which he aspires, in this Greek distich, Tuborgosw, Struto tumultuin: "I prepare my sepulchre; I
ave in the pollutions of the earth; I am under the shadow of death.” This distich has been v'ilgarly corrupted among us, and an expres. sion takes its place scarcely similar in sound, and entirely inconsistent with masonry, and unme
meaning in itself.
Lord! have compassion on the children of thy creation; administer them comfort in time of trouble, and save thein with an everlasting salvation.-Amen. So mote it be.
The First Section. The ceremonies attending this stage of our profession are solemn and tremendous; during which a sacred awe is diffused over the mind, the soul is struck with reverence, and all the spiritual faculties are called forth to worship and adoration.
This, our order, is a positive contradistinction to the Judaic blindness and infidelity, and testifies our faith concerning the resurrection of the body.
In fine, such is the importance of this section, that we may safely declare, that the person who is unacquainted with it, is illy qualified to act as a ruler or governor of the work.
The following passage of scripture is introduced during the ceremonies:
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; while the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: in the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened; and the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low; and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird; and all the daughters of music shall be brought low: also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grashopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail; because man gocth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern: then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." -- Ecclesiastes xii. 1-7.
Or this Selection. It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting. For that is the end of all men, which is there signified, and the living must lay it to heart. All flesh shạil wax old as a garment; and as Icaves growing on
a green tree, some bud forth, and others fall off; so is the generation of flesh and blood; one is buried, and another is born. If a man live many years, and rejoice in them all, yet let him remember the days of darkness; which, when they come, the things which are past shall be reproved of vanity. Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them: before the dust return to its earth, from whence it came, and the spirit to God who gave it. Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness to the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter; fear God and keep bis command, ments; for this is the whole duty of man.
In all thy works remember thy last end, when thou must bid a long farewell to all the world. Remember that dread. ful day of the universal judgment, and thou shalt not sin forever.". Remember the joys prepared for the righteous, and the miseries that attend the wicked; and remember how nearly it concerns thy soul to have a happy or a miserable eternity, "and thou wilt break off thy sins by repentance, and acts of mercy to the poor.”
Holy Resolution.—I will be steadfast, and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as I know that my labour shall not be in vain in the world.
Invocation.-0 gracious Mediator, who lay in the grave for me, a miserable sinner, let me not die eternally, but save .ne for thy mercy's sake.
O Son of God and Man! who camest in mercy to save us; bring the same mercy with thee when thou comest to judge us.
Meanwhile, o be pleased to assist us with thy heavenly grace, that we may continue thine forever, and to stand perpetually with our accounts prepared:
That we may die in thy peace, and after death pass throngh the gate of our grave to a joyful resurrection, through hiin who is the resurrection and the life, our only mediator and redeemer. So mote it be.
The Second Section.
This section recites the historical traditions of the order. and presents to view a finished picture, of the utmost couse