By: Joseph Fort Newton
Dr Joseph Fort Newton was a clergyman and Masonic author. He lived from 1880 until 1950. Bro. Newton was raised in Friendship Lodge7, Dixon, Illinois later affiliating with Mt. Hermon Lodge263, Cedar Rapids, lowa. He is the author of one of Freemasonry 's classics, The Builders from which this STB was taken. A list of Joseph Fort Newton's books still in print and avail- able for purchase is on pages 7-8. This STB is dedicated to the memory of Joseph Fort Newton, one of Freemasonry's greatest philosophers. --Editor
Because the human soul is akin to God, and is endowed with powers to which no one may set a limit, it is and of right ought to be free. Thus, by the logic of its philosophy, not less than the inspiration of its faith, Masonry has been impelled to make its historic demand for liberty of conscience, for the freedom of the intellect, and for the right of all men to stand erect, unfettered, and unafraid, equal before God and the law, each respecting the rights of his fellows.
What we have to remember is, that before this truth was advocated by any order, or embodied in any political constitution, it was embedded in the will of God and the consti- tution of the human soul. Nor will Masonry ever swerve one jot or tittle from its ancient and eloquent demand till all men, every- where, are free in body, mind, and soul.
Some day, when the cloud of prejudice has been dispelled by the searchlight of truth, the world will honor Masonry for its service to freedom of thought and the liberty of faith. No part of its history has been more noble, no principle of its teaching has been more precious than its age-long demand for the right and duty of every soul to seek that light by which no man was ever injured, and that truth which makes man free.
Down through the centuries--often in times when the highest crime was not mur- der, but thinking, and the human conscience was a captive dragged at the wheel of the ecclesiastical chariot--always and every- where Masonry has stood for the right of the soul to know the truth, and to look up unhin- dered from the lap of earth into the tace of God. Not freedom from faith, but freedom of faith, has been its watchword, on the ground that as despotism is the mother of anarchy, so bigoted dogmatism is the prolific source of scepticism.
Not only does Masonry plead for that lib- erty of faith which permits a man to hold what seems to him true, but also, and with equal emphasis, for the liberty which faith gives to the soul, emancipating it from the despotism of doubt and the fetters of fear.
Therefore, by every art of spiritual culture, it seeks to keep alive in the hearts of men a great and simple trust in the goodness of God, in the worth of life, and the divinity of the soul--a trust so apt to be crushed by the tramp of heavy years. Help a man to a firm faith in an Infinite Pity at the heart of this dark world, and from how many fears is he free!
Once a temple of terror, haunted by shad- ows, his heart becomes "a cathedral of seren- ity and gladness," and his life is enlarged and unfolded into richness of character and ser- vice. Nor is there any tyranny like the tyranny of time. Give a man a day to live, and he is like a bird in a cage beating against its bars. Give him a year in which to move to and fro with his thoughts and plans, his pur- poses and hopes, and you have liberated him from the despotism of a day. Enlarge the scope of his life to fifty years, and he has a moral dignity of attitude and a sweep of power impossible hitherto. But give him a sense of Eternity; let him know that he plans and works in an ageless time; that above his blunders and sins there hovers and waits the infinite--then he is free!
Nevertheless, if life on earth be worthless, so is immortality. The real question, after all, is not as to the quantity of life, but its qual- ity--its depth, its purity, its fortitude, its fine- ness of spirit and gesture of soul. Hence the insistent emphasis of Masonry upon the building of character and the practice of righteousness; upon that moral culture with- out which man is rudimentary, and that spir- itual vision without which intellect is the slave of greed or passion. What makes a man great and free of soul, here or anywhither, is loyalty to the laws of right, of truth, of purity, of love, and the lofty will of God.
How to live is the one matter; and the old- est man in his ripe age has yet to seek a wiser way than to build, year by year, upon a foun- dation of faith in God, using the Square of justice, the Plumb-line of rectitude, the Compass to restrain the passions, and the Rule by which to divide our time into labor, rest, and service to our fellows.
Let us begin now and seek wisdom in the beauty of virtue and live in the light of it, rejoicing; so in this world shall we have a foregleam of the world to come--bringing down to the Gate in the Mist something that ought not to die, assured that, though hearts are dust, as God lives what is excellent is enduring!
Joseph Fort Newton (1880-1950) Clergyman and Masonic author. b. July 21 1880 in Decatur, Texas. Graduate of Coe Coll. (Ia.) in 1912; Tufts Coll. in 1918; and Temple U. in 1929. Ordained to Baptist min- istry in 1893. Pastor in Paris, Texas, and St Louis, Mo. Founder and pastor of People's Church, Dixon, ILL., 1901-08; pastor of Liberal Christian Church, Cedar Rapids lowa, 1908-16; The City Temple, London England, 1916-19; Church of the Divine Paternity, N.Y.C., 1919-25; Memoria Church of St. Paul, Philadelphia, 1925-30 St. James Church, Philadelphia, 1930-35; St. Luke and Epiphany, Philadelphia from 1938 He was raised in Friendship Lodge No. 7 Dixon, Ill., May 28, 1902, and later affiliated with Mt. Hermon Lodge No. 263, Cedar Rapids, lowa. He was grand chaplain of the Grand Lodge of lowa from 1911-13. In 1944 he dimitted to Lodge No. 51, Philadelphia Receivcd 32ø AASR (SJ) in lowa Consistory, Cedar Rapids, Iowa in Oct. 1909, and 33ø, honorary, Oct. 20, 1933 Grand prelate of Grand Encampment, K.T U.S.A. in 1929. His Masonic book, The Builders, stands as the most notable writing of the century. He also wrote A Story and Study of Masonry (1914); The Religion of Masonry (1926); his autobiography River of Years (1944) contains many Masonic refer- ences. He produced a score of other non Masonic books. d. Jan. 24, 1950.
(From: Denslow'.s 10,000 Fomous Freemasons)
SHORT TALKS ON MASONRY by Joseph Fort Newton
Whether one is seeking information, or inspiration, or material for a series of talks before Masonic audiences, the topics cov- ered in this book will prove valuable. It has relevance in the world today because of the universal ideals so beautifully explained by the author. Here you will find many refer- ences to the Holy Bible, great Masons, a lucid description of Masonic emblems, and much light on the symbolism, history, and philosophy of Freemasonry.
Softcover, 255 pages. ISBN-0-88053-036-7
M085 $10.00 (Less 25% on 5 or more, plus postage)
THE MEN'S HOUSE by Joseph Fort Newton
To the Freemason, be he only beginning his work in the quarries of the Craft, or a laborer of many years standing, these inspir- ing writings and addresses from one of the Craft's most eloquent authors, will bring joy and meaning. Their patriotic and spiritual appeal will be welcomed by the non-Mason as well and bring a new understanding and help in meeting the everyday problems fac- ing human society yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Perhaps most quoted of all Dr. Newton's messages is "When is a man a Mason?" con- tained in the third chapter. In these 38 lines, Dr. Newton gives thought for a lifetime of study.
Hard cover with jacket, 253 pages. ISBN-0-88053-037-5
M086 $12.95 (Less 25% on 5 or more, plus postage)
THE BUILDERS: A Story and Study of Freemasonry by Joseph Fort Newton
The outstanding classic in Masonic litera- ture of all times. Many Grand Lodges present a copy to each newly raised Mason.
The first part covers the early history of Freemasonry: Its tradition, mythology and symbolism. The second is the story of the Order of builders through the centuries from the building of King Solomon's Temple. The final part is a statement and exposition of the faith of masonry.
Cloth with jacket. 345 pages. Bibliography, Index, Illustrated. ISBN-0-88053-045-6
M301 $19.50 (Less 25% on 5 or more, plus postage)
Available from: Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co., Inc. 3011 Old Dumbarton Road Richmond, VA 23228
The preceding book descriptions were taken from the catalog of Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co., Inc.