WHAT SHALL MASONS READ?
W.O. JUNBINS, M. D., GREENLAND, N. H.
The Voice of Masonry 1880
ENTHUSIASTIC neophytes, after listening to the work and
admonitions of Freemasonry, are confronted with the
question: "What shall we read to thoroughly acquaint
ourselves with the ethics of the Fraternity?" They look
around, make inquiries of the Craft, especially of senior
members, and sometimes get the desired information, but
too often are told that the Manual of the Lodge is the only
literature they have ever seen bearing upon the subject. Or
they are told that Brother A. or B. is thoroughly posted in the
ritual, and they had better take lessons of him. Meeting with
such obstacles on every hand, in their researches after hid-
den treasures, they are soon disconcerted, and too often
their embryotic enthusiasm is "nipped in the bud" by a
premature frost, and the sunshine of future development is
unable to resuscitate it.
Young Masonic minds are in an active condition; better
qualified, more apt and willing to receive instruction than
weary operators, fatigued and exhausted by delving in the
quarries, where they have borne the sunshine and heat of
the day, therefore, they should promptly receive proper
assistance in discovering and obtaining the " beacon lights"
of Masonic literature. The wheat must be sifted from the
chaff that no deleterious particles may take root and develop
into unprofitable plants.
Every lodge should possess a library, selected by competent
brethren, and kept under the supervision of a trusty
The Master's admonition to the newly-made brother to be a
lover of the arts and sciences should go further, and advise
him to give attention to moral and religious science, so that
he may attain and possess all the virtues which tend to make
men valuable members of society. It should impress upon
his understanding the landmarks of the Fraternity, and imbue
it with divine teachings, so that his mind, unfolding in
manliness, shall be actuated to extend its researches far into
the realms of history, science, and philosophy.
The Masonic magazines and papers published in this
country contain nourishing dainties, worthy of the most
exacting intellectual epicures. Lodges, as well as brethren,
should subscribe for them, that they may be within the reach
of all. The Masonic reader becomes a better member of
society, his brain and heart thus receiving a stimulant which
makes man shine with a divine light.
I would admonish the young Mason not to adopt the custom
of studying the Ritual to the exclusion of all other Masonic
teachings. I am aware that there are many Masters of lodges
who stand in need of this admonition, as they never have
studied anything Masonic beyond the Ritual, the
Trestleboard, and the Constitution and Regulations of the
Grand Lodge, and are not even thorough in them. No Mason
should accept of the responsible position of Master of a
lodge, unless his reading has been extensive and his mind
thoroughly cultured in moral and religious lore, that his
admonitions may be heeded and productive of good.
The Bible - the noblest gift of GOD to man - should be
mental and spiritual food for us by day and night, for in its
pages we are taught the great principles of Freemasonry,
and if we obey its precepts we will become living examples
of what GOD intended we should be. Let us not despise nor
neglect the Holy Writings, for the golden truths taught therein
make them the greatest of Masonic works, and the best
attestor of the divine origin of the Fraternity.
The arts and sciences should be studied. Geometry, that
science which treats of the "relation of properties, and
measurement of solids, surfaces, lines, and angles," should
be diligently studied, that we may be able to 'work and
receive Master's wages. The pages of ancient history have
recorded much, pointing directly to societies having like
secrets and requirements to those of Freemasonry, while
Mythology, ever ready with its mysteries, shows us various
scenic representations of mythical legends, pointing directly
to societies and religious institutions of the Middle Ages.
Every Craftsman should possess an Encyclopaedia of
Freemasonry, which should contain a complete synopsis of
Masonic literature. Such a. work is indispensable, and, as a
work of reference, has no equal.
In conclusion, I would admonish every neophyte to cultivate
a love of literature; to visit Masonic libraries; to purchase
those Masonic books best suited to his taste and thoroughly
study them, as thereby he will enrich his mind with
knowledge that will be beneficial in all his subsequent life.