The Antiquity and Genius of Masonry.
Part 2
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
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
George Helmer FPS
PM Norwood #90 GRA
PZ Norwood #18 RAM