Archive for April, 2008
ACCORDING to the ethics of Freemasonry, it is made a duty obligatory upon every member of the Order to conceal the faults of a brother, that is , not to blazon forth his errors and infirmities, to let them be learned by the world from some other tongue than his, and to admonish him of them in private.
So there is another but a like duty or obligation, which instructs him to whisper good counsel in his brother’s ear and to warn him of approaching danger.
And this refers not more to the danger that is without and around him than to that which is within him; not more to the peril that springs from the concealed foe who would waylay him and covertly injure him, than to that deeper peril of whose faults and infirmities which lie within his own heart, and which, if not timely crushed by good and earnest resolution of amendment, will, like the ungrateful serpent in the fable, become warm with life only to sting the bosom that has nourished them.
Admonition of a brother’s fault is, then, the duty of every Mason, and no true one will, for either fear or favor, neglect its performance.
But as the duty is Masonic, so is there a Masonic way in which that duty should be discharged.
We must admonish not with self-sufficient pride in our own reputed goodness; not in imperious tones, as though we looked down in scorn upon the degraded offender; not in language that, by its harshness, will wound rather than win, will irritate more than it will reform; but with that persuasive gentleness that gains the heart — with the all subduing influences of “mercy unrestrained;” with the magic might of love; with the language and the accents of affection, which mingle grave displeasure for the offense and with grief and pity for the offender.
This and this alone, is Masonic admonition. I am not to rebuke my brother in anger, for I, too, have my faults, and I dare not draw around me the folds of my garment lest they should be polluted by my neighbor’s touch.
But I am to admonish in private, not before the world, for that would degrade him; and I am to warn him, perhaps from my own example, how vice ever should be followed by sorrow, for that goodly sorrow leads to repentance, and repentance to amendment, and amendment to joy.
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”
— 1 Corinthian 13: 1-2
SUCH WAS THE LANGUAGE of an eminent apostle of the Christian church, and such is the sentiment that constitutes the cementing bond of Freemasonry.
The apostle, in comparing it with faith and hope, calls it the greatest of the three, and hence in Masonry it is made the topmost round of its mystic ladder.
We must not fall into the too common error that charity is only that sentiment of commiseration which leads us to assist the poor with pecuniary donations.
Its Masonic, as well as its Christian application is nobler and more extensive.
The word used by the apostle is, in the original, love, a word denoting that kindly state of mind which renders a person full of goodwill and affectionate regard toward others.
John Wesley expressed his regret that the Greek had not been correctly translated as “love” instead of “charity,” so that the apostolic triad of virtues would have been, not “faith, hope and charity,” but “faith, hope and love.”
Then would we have understood the comparison made by St. Paul when he said:
“Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,
And though I give my body to be burned,
And have not love, it profiteth me nothing.”
Guided by this sentiment, the true Mason will “suffer long and kind.” He will be slow to anger and easy to forgive. He will handle his falling brother by gentle admonition, and warn him with kindness of approaching danger.
He will not open his ear to his slanderers, and will close his lips against all reproach.
His faults and his follies will be locked in his breast, and the prayer for mercy will ascend to Jehovah for his brother’s sins.
Nor will these sentiments of benevolence be confined to those who are bound to him by ties of kindred or worldly friendship alone; but — extending them throughout the globe — he will love and cherish all who sit beneath the broad canopy of our universal Lodge.
For it is the boast of our Institution, that a Mason, destitute and worthy, may find in every clime a Brother, and in every land, a Home.
THERE IS ONE PECULIAR feature in the Masonic Institution that must commend it to the respect of every generous mind.
In other associations it is considered meritorious in a member to exert his influence in obtaining applications for admission; but it is wholly uncongenial with the spirit of our Order to persuade anyone to become a Mason.
Whosoever seeks knowledge of our mystic rites must first be prepared for the ordeal in his heart. He must not only be endowed with the necessary moral qualifications which would fit him for admission into our ranks, but he must come, too, uninfluenced by friends and unbiased by unworthy motives.
This is a settled landmark of the Order, and therefore, nothing can be more painful to a true Mason than to see this landmark violated by young and heedless brethren.
For it cannot be denied that it is sometimes violated; and this habit of violation is one of those unhappy influences sometimes almost insensibly exerted upon Masonry by the existence of the many secret societies to which the present age has given birth, and which resemble Masonry in nothing except in having some sort of a secret ceremony of initiation.
These societies are introducing such phraseology as a “card” for a “demit;” “worthy” for “worshipful;” and “brothers” for “brethren.”
And there are some men, who, coming among us imbued with the principles and accustomed to the usages of these modern societies, in which the persevering solicitation of candidates is considered as a legitimate and even laudable practice, bring with them these preconceived notions and consider it their duty to exert all their influence in persuading their friends to become members of the Craft.
Men, who thus misunderstand the true policy of our Institution should be instructed by their older and more experienced brethren that it is wholly in opposition to all our laws and principles to ask any man to become a Mason, or to exercise any kind of influence upon the minds of others, except that of a truly Masonic life and a practical exemplification of its tenets, by which they may be induced to ask admission into our Lodges.
We must not seek — we are to be sought!
And if this were not an ancient law, embedded in the very cement that upholds our system, policy alone would dictate an adherence to the voluntary usage.
We need not, now, fear that our Institution will suffer from a deficiency of members. Our greater dread should be that, in its rapid expansion, less care may be given to the selection of candidates than the interests and welfare of the Order demand.
There can, therefore, be no excuse for the practice of persuading candidates, and every hope of safety in avoiding such a practice.
It should always be borne in mind that the candidate who comes to us not of his own “free-will and accord,” but induced by the persuasions of his friends – no matter how worthy he otherwise may be – violates, by so coming, the requirements of our Institution on the very threshold of its temple, and, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, fails to become imbued with that zealous attachment to the Order which is absolutely essential to the formation of a true Masonic character.
OF THOSE WHO WERE ENGAGED in the revival of Freemasonry in the beginning of the 18th century, none performed a more important part than he to whom may be well applied the epithet of the Father of Modern Speculative Masonry, and to whom, perhaps, more than any other person, is the present Grand Lodge of England indebted for its existence.
A sketch of his life, drawn from the scanty materials to be found in Masonic records, and in the brief notices of a few of his contemporaries, cannot fail to be interesting to the student of Masonic history.
The Reverend John Theophilus Desaguliers (pronounced day-za-güly-ay), was born on March 12, 1683, at Rochelle in France. He was the son of a French Protestant clergyman; and, his father having removed to England as a refugee on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, he was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, where he took lessons of the celebrated Keill in experimental philosophy.
In 1712 he received the degree of Master of Arts, and in the same year succeeded Dr. Keill as a lecturer on experimental philosophy at Hert Hall (now Hertford College).
In 1713 he removed to Westminster, where he continued his course of lectures, being the first one, it is said, who ever lectured upon physical science in the metropolis.
At this time he attracted the notice and secured the friendship of Sir Isaac Newton. His reputation as a philosopher obtained for him a fellowship in the Royal Society. He was also about this time admitted to clerical orders, and appointed by the Duke of Chandos his chaplain, who also presented him to the living of Whit church.
In 1718 he received from the University of Oxford the degree of Doctor of Civil Law, and was presented by the Earl of Sunderland to a living in Norfolk, which he afterward exchanged for one in Essex. He maintained, however, his residence in London, where he continued to deliver his lectures until his death in 1744.
His contributions to science consist of a “Treatise on the Construction of Chimneys (translated from the French and published in 1716);” Lectures of Experimental Philosophy, of which a second edition was issued in 1719; A Course of Experimental Philosophy, in 2 volumes, published in 1734; and in 1735 he edited and edition of Gregory’s Elements of Catoptrics and Dioptrics. He also translated from the Latin Gravesandes’ Mathematical Elements of Natural Philosophy.
In the clerical profession he seems not to have been an ardent worker, and his theological labors were confined to the publication of a single sermon on repentance. He was in fact more distinguished as a scientist than as a clergyman, and Priestly calls him “an indefatigable experimental philosopher.”
It is, however, as a Mason that Dr. Desaguliers will most attract our attention. But nothing is known as to his connection with Freemasonry until 1719, when he was elevated to the throne of the Grand Lodge, succeeding George Payne, and being thus the third Grand Master after the revival.
He paid much attention to the interests of the Fraternity, and so elevated the character of the Order, that the records of the Grand Lodge show that during his administration several of the older brethren who had hitherto neglected the Craft resumed their visits to the Lodges, and many noblemen were initiated into the Institution.
Dr. Desaguliers was peculiarly zealous in the investigation and collection of the old records of the society, and to him we are principally indebted for the preservation of the “Charges of a Freemason” and the preparation of the “General Regulations,” which are found in the first edition of the Constitutions; which, although attributed to Dr. Anderson, were undoubtedly compiled under the supervision of Desaguliers.
Anderson, we suppose, did the work, while Desaguliers furnished much of the material and the thought.
One of the first controversial works in favor of Freemasonry, namely “A Detection of Dr. Plots’ Account of the Freemasons,” was also attributed to his pen; but he is said to have repudiated the credit of its authorship, of which indeed the paper furnishes no internal evidence.
In 1721 he delivered before the Grand Lodge what the records call “an eloquent oration about Masons and Masonry.” It does not appear it was ever published; at least no copy of it is extant, although Kloss puts the title at the head of his “Catalogue of Masonic Orations.”
It is, indeed, the first Masonic address of which we have any notice, and would be highly interesting, because it would give us, in all probability, as Kloss remarks, the views of the Masons of that day in reference to the design of the Institution.
After his retirement from the office of Grand Master in 1720, Desaguliers was thrice appointed Deputy Grand Master: in 1723, by the Duke of Wharton; in June of the same year, by the Earl of Dalkeith; in 1725, by Lord Paisley; and during this period of service he did many things for the benefit of the Craft, among others, initiating that scheme of charity which was subsequently developed in what is now known in the Grand Lodge of England as the Fund of Benevolence.
After this, Dr. Desaguliers passed over to the Continent, and resided for a few years in Holland. In 1731, he was at The Hague, and presided as Worshipful Master of a Lodge organized under a special dispensation for the purpose of initiating and passing the Duke of Lorraine, who was subsequently Grand Duke of Tuscany, and then Emperor of Germany. The Duke was, during the same year, made a Master Mason in England.
On his return to England, Desaguliers was considered from his position in Masonry, as the most fitting person to confer the degrees on the Prince of Wales, who was accordingly entered, passed, and raised in an occasional Lodge, held on two occasions at Kew, over which Dr. Desaguilers presided as Master.
Dr. Desaguilers was very attentive to his Masonic duties, and punctual in his attendance on the communications of the Grand Lodge. His last recorded appearance by name is on February 8, 1742, a few years before his death.
Of Desaguilers’ Masonic and personal character, Dr. Oliver gives, from tradition, the following description:
“There were many traits in his character that redound to his immortal praise. He was a grave man in private life, almost approaching to austerity; but he could relax in the private recesses of a Tyled Lodge, and in company with brothers and fellows, where the ties of social intercourse are not particularly stringent. He considered the proceedings of the Lodge as strictly confidential; and being persuaded that his brothers by initiation actually occupied the same position as brothers by blood, he was undisguisedly free and familiar in the mutual interchange of unrestrained courtesy. In the Lodge he was jocose and free-hearted, sang his song, and had no objection to his share of the bottle, although one of the most learned and distinguished men of his day (excerpt from the Revelations of a Square, p. 10).”
In 1713, Desaguilers had married a daughter of William Pudsey, Esq., by whom he had two sons – Alexander, who was a clergyman; and Thomas, who went into the army, and became a colonel of artillery and an equerry to George III.
The latter days of Dr. Desaguilers are said to have been clouded with sorrow and poverty. De Feller, in the “Biographie Universelle,” says that he became insane, dressing sometimes as a harlequin, and sometimes as a clown, and that in one of these fits of insanity he died.
And Cawthorn, in a poem entitled “The Vanity of Human Enjoyments,” intimates in the following lines that Desaguilers was in very necessitous circumstances at the time of his death:
“How poor, neglected Desaguilers fell!
How he, who taught 2 gracious kings to view
All Boyle ennobled and all Bacon knew,
Died in a cell, without a friend to save,
Without a guinea, and without a grave.”
But the accounts of the French biographer and the English poet are most probably both apocryphal, or, at least, much exaggerated; for Nichols, who knew him personally, and has given a fine portrait of him in the ninth volume of his “Literary Anecdotes,” says that he died on February 29, 1744, at the Bedford Coffee House, and was buried in the Savoy.
Too few Masons of the present day, except to those who have made Freemasonry a subject of special study, is the name of Desaguilers very familiar.
But it is well they should know that to him, perhaps, more than to any other man, are we indebted for the present existence of Freemasonry as a living institution, for it was his learning and social position that gave a standing to the Institution, which brought to its support noblemen and men of influence, so that the insignificant assemblage of four London Lodges at the Apple-Tree Tavern has expanded into an association which now overshadows the entire civilized world.
And the moving spirit of all this was Brother John Theophilus Desaguilers.
BROTHER BENJAMIN FRANKLIN led a remarkable life. He was born in the city of Boston, Massachusetts, on January 6, 1706. He was a revolutionary, a scientist, an inventor, a statesman, and a Mason.
He was most probably initiated in 1731 in the St. John’s Lodge at Philadelphia. In 1734 he was elected Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania; and in November of the same year Franklin applied to Henry Price, who had received from England authority to establish Masonry in this country, for a confirmation of those powers conferred by the first deputation of warrant.
It is probable that the request was granted, although no record of the fact can be found. In 1734, Brother Franklin edited an edition of Anderson’s Constitutions, which was probably the first Masonic work published in America.
In 1743, He was appointed Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvania by Thomas Oxnard, who, also on that same year, was appointed Grand Master of all North America.
While Franklin was in France as the Ambassador from this country, he appears to have taken much interest in Masonry.
He affiliated with the celebrated Lodge of the Nine Sisters, of which Lalande, Count de Gebelin, and other celebrities of French Literature, were members.
He took a prominent part in the initiation of Voltaire, and on the French philosopher’s death, acted as Senior Warden of the Lodge of Sorrow held in his memory.
The Lodge of the Nine Sisters held Brother Franklin in such esteem that it struck a medal in his honor, of which a copy, supposed to be the only one now in existence, belongs to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Mecklenburg.
But if Ben Franklin was such an active Mason, why didn’t he mention the Fraternity in his Autobiography, and why wasn’t he buried with Masonic honors?
In Prof. Steven Bullock’s book entitled “Revolutionary Brotherhood,” he proposed that the answer lies on the fact that Brother Franklin was affiliated with the Grand Lodge of Moderns.
The first Ancient’s lodge was formed in Philadelphia in 1757, and by the end of the Revolutionary War, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania was controlled by Ancients.
According to Bullock: “By the time Franklin returned from England for good in 1785, he could not enter a Pennsylvania Lodge. The Grand Lodge he had headed no longer existed, and its past grand master could not even set foot in a lodge room without a ceremony of ‘healing’ to convert him from an unacceptable Modern Mason into an Ancient brother.”
While he never said anything explicitly, Brother Franklin probably disassociated himself from the Ancients, and they refused to acknowledge or bury “an unacceptable Modern Mason.”
Thus, we see the bitter fruits of pride and rigid legalism.
On his impression about Freemasonry, Bro. Franklin wrote:
“Freemasonry has tenets peculiar to itself.
They serve as testimonials of character and qualifications,
which are only conferred after due course of instruction and examination.
These are of no small value; they speak a universal language, and act as a passport
to the attentions and support of the initiated in all parts of the world.
They cannot be lost as long as memory retains its power.
Let the possessor of them be expatriated, shipwrecked or imprisoned,
let him be stripped of everything he has got in the world,
still those credentials remain, and are available for use as circumstances require.
The good effects they have produced are established by the most incontestable facts of history.
They have stayed the uplifted hand of the destroyer;
they have softened the asperities of the tyrant;
they have mitigated the horrors of captivity;
they have subdued the rancour of malevolence;
and broken down the barriers of political animosity and sectarian alienation.
On the field of battle, in the solitudes of the uncultivated forest,
or in the busy haunts of the crowded city, they have made men of the most hostile feelings,
the most distant regions, and diversified conditions, rush to the aid of each other, and feel a special joy and satisfaction that they have been able to afford relief to a Brother Mason.”
— Benjamin Franklin
“MY BEST AMBITION having ever aimed at the unbiased approbation of my fellow citizen, it is peculiarly pleasing to find my conduct so affectionately approved by a fraternity whose association is founded in justice and benevolence.”
“So far as I am acquainted with the principles and Doctrines of Freemasonry, I conceive it to be founded in the benevolence and to be exercised only for the good of mankind.”
– George Washington
“THERE ARE GREAT TRUTHS at the foundation of Freemasonry—truths which it is its mission to teach—and which as constituting the very essence of that sublime system which gives to the venerable institution its peculiar identity as a science of morality, and it behooves every disciple diligently to ponder and inwardly digest.
– Albert Pike
“WHENEVER there is a human cause, we are certain to find Freemasonry for it is the fundamental basis of all true liberal association.”
– Giuseppe Garibaldi
“I WISH SOMEHOW WE could have fraternity among nations, as it is taught in America among men. I do not mean to employ sign, grip, and password, which affords an appealing mystery to our relationship, but the insistent demands for just dealings, the respect for rights of others, and the ideals of brotherhood recited in the Golden Rule, and the righteous fellow-relationship which every man knows his God approves. Under such a reign of fraternity cruel human warfare will never come again.”
– Warren Harding, 29th President of the USA
“FREEMASONRY IS AN ORDER whose leading star is philanthropy, and whose principles inculcate an unceasing devotion to the cause of virtue and morality.”
– La Fayette
“I AM CLOSING MY ADDRESS WITH A CONFESSION. Since becoming a Freemason, I forgot hate. Instead, I learned to love – to love God and my fellowman. I am now at ease with my own conscience. I only do what I think is right, and shun all evil. I also forget fear. I can be alone no matter where I am, what I do, or where I go.
A clean conscience makes a man brave. I hope that Freemasonry has had the same influence upon all of you, which is an assurance of a better world to live in, and a happier humanity to live with.”
– General Emillio Aguinaldo, Filipino Hero and President, to the Grand Lodge of the Philippines in 1955
“OUR ORDER, for now I can say, ‘our order,’ teaches, ‘the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God’ and this is great! The world needs so desperately to discover the value of this great truth in human relationships and world affairs. It is also a truth that will motivate men and women to continue to explore avenues of service and areas of common concerns in order to restore a measure of sanity to the madness of our day and to enrich the quality of life for all peoples everywhere. Now I join hands and heart with you in all your endeavors of philanthropy and say we must not slacken our efforts ‘to do good to all,’ especially those with needs that will not be met if we fail in our common task of service to humanity.”
– Brother Danny Thomas, world-famous entertainer & founder of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital (the world’s only institution devoted solely to the study and treatment of catastrophic childhood illnesses)
“THE STUDY OF FREEMASONRY is the study of man as a candidate for a blessed eternity. It furnishes examples of holy living, and displays the conduct which is pleasing and acceptable to God. The doctrine and examples which distinguish the Order are obvious and suited to every capacity. It is impossible for the most fastidious Mason to misunderstand, however he may slight or neglect them. It is impossible for the most superficial brother to say that he is unable to comprehend the plain precepts, and the unanswerable arguments which are furnished by Freemasonry.”
“THE SACRED AND INVISIBLE BOND that unites men of the most discordant opinions into one band of brothers, which gives one language to men of all nations and one altar to men of all religions, is properly, from the mysterious influence it exerts, denominated the mystic tie; and Freemasons because they alone are under its influence, or enjoy its benefits, are called brethren of the mystic tie”
– Albert Mackey [33rd degree Mason; Secretary General of the Supreme Council of the 33rd degree Scottish Rite], ‘Encyclopedia of Freemasonry’. Vol. 2, p. 778.
(to be continued)
Q: How do we define the body of masonry? Are our landmarks a part, or is it already the body, of masonry? Are rituals, installation of officers, and others also part of the body of masonry? (Bro. Antonio Valencia, April 17, 10:22 am)
A: First of all, allow me to express to you my sincerest apology for replying to your query in a terribly late manner. Your email, I must admit, was overlooked upon because of the deluge of comments and questions asked, by both the fellow brethren and non-Masons alike, whom I have, fortunately, interested into this website.
As to your question about what Masonic bodies mean, here is my humble take:
The fraternity of Freemasonry, also known as “Free and Accepted Masons,” is organized into lodges, chapters, councils, commanderies, consistories, etc., which are collectively referred to as Masonic “bodies.” The most basic Masonic body is the local “Masonic lodge,” which confers the first three degrees in Masonry, being that of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason.
Whilst there is no degree in Freemasonry higher than that of Master Mason, there are a number of related organizations which have as a prerequisite to joining that one be a Master Mason. These include, but are not limited to Scottish Rite, York Rite, and the Shriners.
Additionally, there are also organizations that are affiliated with Freemasonry that admit both Master Masons as well as non-Masons who have some relation to a Master Mason. These include, but are not limited to, the Order of the Eastern Star and the Order of the Amaranth. Still other affiliated organizations like the Order of DeMolay, the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls and others, admit non-Masons and have no requirement that an applicant be related to a Master Mason.
A number of terms, such as “appendant,” “affiliated,” “concordant,” or “in amity” is used, sometimes interchangeably, to describe these bodies, illustrating that there is no one, single accurate description that includes them all.
As to our Landmarks, it is another important subject that I wish to expound soon. Unlike the Masonic Bodies, however, which is purely “structural,” our Landmarks are wholly “instructional, methodological, and procedural” which we must solemnly protect and preserve.