THE CRAFTSMAN - 1866
Of such thoughts are we reminded by the Lodge and the Dedication Service. Turn we now to the living stones of the temple - the members of the craft. As a society of men, we assert the dignity of labour, the Harmony of Union, and the Wisdom of Organization.
We assert the dignity of labour. Activity is demanded, inaction and sloth proscribed. The high vocation of man is to be the fellow-worker of God. The vitalities of the universe are of God, the instrumentalities are of man. The Great Architect has laid out for us a plan, and richly covered the earth with material, but man must work it to its end. Even Paradise had to be dressed, and though the earth were all to become as fair and fertile as the primeval abode, the neglect of a single generation would throw it back to a weary waste. God has sown in society the seeds of government, of science, of art; but man must develop and apply them. The laws of taste, for instance, are innately planted within us, but it is the chisel of the sculptor and the pencil of the artist that give embodiment to these laws in the noble temple and the magnificent picture. In everything, man's labor is the complement of the Creator's bounty. "Laborare est orare." Work is truly religious, nay, labor is life.
"Nature rives by action; Beast, bird, air, fire, the heavens and rolling world, All live by action; nothing lives at rest But death and ruin; man is cured of care, Fashioned and improved by labor."
These truths are too often forgotten. They have in some measure been slipping away from the present generation - that looks upon work as degrading. To look upon our platforms and our exchanges where men most do congregate, one might think that the chief end of man was to talk to buy and to sell - not to work. In the midst of all this does Masonry assert the dignity of labour. Originally a fraternity of practical builders, in later days the work is of a speculative nature; still, however, the motto is "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." Honours are given to the diligent, the drones are discouraged in the busy hive, and in many ways she asserts the dignity of man's primeval duty.
Your presence here also asserts the Harmony of Union. The lodge is the world in miniature. From east to west is its length, from south to north is its breadth, from earth to heaven is its height, and from the surface to the centre of the terraqueous globe is its depth. And in few places can this conception be realized so well as here. At the ends of the earth we draw material from all the earth. What a variety of races, nationalities, creeds and religions are here represented! We have the Jew, long identified with Masonry, forgetting his exclusiveness in communion with his brethren - the Italian, from the sunny south, joining hand with the exile from Old Caledonia, the "Ultima Thule" of his forefathers - the Saxon from the good old German stock, sitting in fellow ship with his sprightly neighbour from the joyous land of France. The Englishman and the American forgetting each their jealousies, and rejoicing together in liberty, equality and fraternity. Nor are the Colonists awanting. Here the Canadian meets the Australian, and here Nova Scotia and Vancouver Island intertwine their branches - all living stones in the building, bound together by the cement of charity, all forming a fit symbol and type of the time.
"When man to man the wand o'er, Shall brithers be for a' that."
Furthermore, we assert the wisdom of organization. There may be a union which is not a unity. The atoms in a sandpit are close enough together, but they do not form a unity. There is no unity in a flock of sheep, it is simply the repetition of so many things similar to each other. In an organized unity all the members are properly subordinated each to another, and the parts harmoniously arranged in their suitable relations. The body of man is an organization where all the different parts, head, heart, finger, fibres, and limbs severally conduce to a common good, and depend on each other. Now, Nature has not intended us to be like a flock of sheep, near each other and yet distinct from each other; we are to be organized. A common interest is to flow as the lifeblood through all. As men rise in civilization, there appear the higher and finer developments of combined relations. In savage life men are slightly organized. The tribe is simply like a flock of sheep. The kingdom or the empire is the result of experience or refinement. It says much for Masonry that its common name has become "The Order." To quote from an illustrious member, whose memory is deservedly dear on this Pacific coast - the manly and large hearted Thomas Stair King:- "How Masonry reflects to us or rather illustrates the wisdom breathed by the Great Architect through all nature! It is said that order is Heaven's first law; it is no less true that it is Earth's first privilege. It is the condition of beauty, of liberty, of peace. Think how the principle of order for all the orbs of heaven is hidden in the Sun. The tremendous power of his gravitation reaches thousands of millions of miles - and hampers the self-will - the centrifugal force of the mighty Jupiter, of Uranus with his staff of moons, and of Neptune. There's a Grand Lodge for you, in which these separate masters are held in check by the Most Worshipful Grand Master's Power. Nor is it any hardship that these separate globes are so strictly under rule, and pay obedience to the Sun. Is it not their chief blessing - their sovereign privilege? What if the order were less distinct and punctual? What if the force in these globes that chafes under the central rein, and champs its curb, should be successful for even a single day? What if the earth should gain liberty against the pull of the sun? Beauty from that moment would wither, fertility would begin to shrivel. The hour of seeming freedom would be the dawn of anarchy; for the Sun's rule is the condition of perpetual harmony, bounty, and joy."
"The idea of this Heaven determined order is committed to our body through its Worshipful Grand Masters, Master, Wardens, Deacons, and Craftsmen. The proper regard for it has preserved it amid the breaking up of empires, and maintains it in its mysterious, symmetrical and sublime proportions. It is the source of its living vigor, and the promise of its future strength."
Finally, brethren, we read that when Solomon had finished the Temple, he besought that the presence of the Lord would dwell there. May this enlivening presence ever sanctify our fellowship! What of our beautiful house and our service without that? What of the altar without the altar fire? What of the richly ornate casket without the jewel within? What of the Mason without Masonic principle? He is only as the dead among the livings rotten stone in the building. Our Masonry brethren, must either be a real thing, or an awful sham, a thing to be laid hold of and nailed down to the counter by the detector and hater of all shams. Am I to respect the bad man, because forsooth by forswearing himself, he has gamed the secrets of the craft? Shall I prefer the man who has tried to hide his rottenness with the garments of light? No, brethren, I will endure him - I will try faithfully to perform my vows to him, but it is not in human nature to restrain my contempt for him.
Masonry is the daughter of Heaven; let us who wear her favors, never soil them on the earth. Invested as we are with these ancient and noble badges, let us walk in the light and not in darkness. With clean hands and right spirits - with an eye of compassion for the tear of sorrow, with an ear ever open to the cry of the distressed - with a hand ever ready to help the widow, and the orphan, and the stranger, let us show to the world the inherent nobleness of our order. Thus may we go on from strength to strength, and at length be admitted into the presence of the Supreme Grand Master, and receive the password to celestial bliss.
The words of that old Masonic marching hymn, lately quoted by Carlyle in his address to the students at Edinburgh, should ring upon our ears
The Mason's ways are A type of existence, And his persistence Is as the days are, Of men in the world.
The future hides in it Gladness and sorrow We press still through, Nought that abides in it Daunting us. Onward,
And solemn before us, Veiled, the dark portal, Goal of all mortal. Stars silent rest o'er us, Graves under us silent,
While earnest thou gazest, Comes boding of terror, Comes phantasm and error, Perplexes the bravest With doubt and misgiving.
But heard are the voices Heard are the sages, The worlds and the ages, Choose well! your choice is Brief, and yet endless.
Here eyes do regard you In eternity's stillness; Here is all fullness Ye brave, to reward you; Work and despair not.
The prosperity of Masonry as a means of strengthening our religion and propagating true brotherly love, is one of the dearest wishes of my heart, which, I trust, will be gratified by the help of the Grand Architect of the Universe. CHRISTIAN, KING OF DENMARK.George Helmer FPS