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A Lesson for Freemasons
A LESSON FOR FREEMASONS OR, A SERIES OF MORAL
OBSERVATIONS ON THE INSTRUMENTS OF MASONRY.
From "The Spirit of Masonry" - 1843
The various instruments which we of this profession make use of,
are all emblematical or picturesque of the conduct of life we ought
to persevere in.
The RULE directs us to observe punctually every gospel duty to
press forward in the right path, neither inclining to the right nor left
hand, for the sake of any transient amusement or gratification
whatsoever it forbids us to give into the least inclination or
propensity into the curve of life, and reminds us to beware of the
least tendency to a circle, either in religion or morals! - not to mind
(because they have seldom any other than selfish views) neither
outs, or ins in politics and to have in all our conduct eternity in
The LINE should make us pay the strictest attention to that line of
duty which has been given us, or rather which was marked out to
us, by our great Benefactor and Redeemer. It teaches us to avoid
all kinds of double-dealing, both in conversation and actions it
points out the direct but narrow path that leads to a glorious
immortality and that sincerity in our profession will be our only
passport thither. This line, like Jacob's ladder, connects heaven and
earth together and, by laying hold of it, we climb up to that place
where we shall change this short line of time for the never-ending
circle of eternity.
The PLUME-LINE admonishes us to walk erect and upright in our
Christian vocation not to lean to a side, but to hold the scale of
justice in equal poise to observe the just medium between
temperance and voluptuousness to fathom the depth of our limited
capacities, and to make our several passions and prejudices of
education fall plumb in, or coincide with, our line of duty.
The SQUARE will teach us to square all our actions by this gospel
rule and line, and to make our whole conduct harmonise with this
most salutary scheme. Our behaviour will be regular and uniform,
not aspiring at things above our reach, nor pretending to things
above our finite capacities, nor to affect things above what our
circumstances can possibly bear. In our expenses, therefore, we
shall neither ape those that are placed in a more exalted sphere, nor
attend so much to the glitter of gold as to sink beneath our proper
station but we shall observe the golden mean,
"And always to our acres join our sense,
Because 'tis use that sanctifies expense."
The COMPASSES will inform us that we should in every station
learn to live within proper bounds, that we may, therefore, be
enabled to contribute freely and cheerfully to the relief of the
necessities and indigencies of our fellow-creatures. Hence we shall
rise to notice, live with honour, and make our exit in humble hopes
of compassing what ought to be the main pursuit of the most
aspiring genius, a crown of glory.
The LEVEL should advise us that, since we are all descended from
the same common stock, partake of the like nature, have the same
faith and the same hope through the redemption, which render us
naturally upon a level with one another, that we ought not to divest
ourselves of the feelings of humanity and though distinctions
necessarily make a subordination among mankind, yet eminence of
station should not make us forget that we are men, nor cause us to
treat our brethren, because placed on the lowest spoke of the wheel
of fortune, with contempt because a time will come, and the
wisest of men know not how soon, when all distinctions, except in
goodness, will cease, and when death - that grand leveller of all
human greatness - will bring us to a level at the last. From hence,
too, the sceptic, the shallow reasoner, and babbling disputer of this
world, may learn to forbear the measuring of infinity by the dull
level of his own grovelling capacity, and endeavour, by way of
atonement for his insults upon every thing that tends to mankind,
either good or great, to vindicate the ways of God to man.
From your MALLET and CHISEL, you may likewise know what
advantages accrue from a proper education. The human and
unpolished mind, like a diamond surrounded with a dense crust,
discovers neither its sparkling nor different powers, till the rough
external is smoothed off, and beauties, till then unknown, rise full
to our view. Education gives, what a chisel does to the stone, not
only an external polish and smoothness, but discovers all the
inward beauties latent under the roughest surfaces. By education
our minds are enlarged, and they not only range through the large
fields of matter and space, but also learn with greater perspicuity -
what is above all other knowledge - our real duty to God and man.
Your TROWEL will teach you that nothing is united together
without proper cement: no strict union, nor external polish can be
made without it. And, as the Trowel connects each stone together
by a proper disposition of the cement, so charity, that bond of
perfection and of all social union (which I earnestly recommend to
you all), links separate minds and various interests together and,
like the radii of a circle, that extend from the centre to every part of
the circumference, makes each member have a tender regard for
the real welfare of the whole community. But as some members
will be refractory in every society, your Hammer will likewise
teach you how to use becoming discipline and correction towards
such like offenders. If they will not submit to rule, you may strike
off the excrescences of their swelling pride, till they sink into a
modest deportment. Are they irregular in their practices? Your
Hammer will instruct you to strike off each irregularity, and fit
them to act a decent part on the stage of life. Do any affect things
above their stations? Your Hammer will teach you to press them
down to their proper level, that they may learn, in the school of
discipline, that necessary knowledge - to be courteous.
What the HAMMER is to the workman, that enlightened reason is
to the passions in the human mind: it curbs ambition, that aspires
to its own and neighbour's hurt: it depresses envy, moderates
anger, checks every rising frailty, and encourages every good
disposition of the soul from whence must arise that comely order,
that delightful selfcomplacency,
"Which nothing earthly gives or can destroy,
The soul's calm sunshine, and the heart-felt joy."
Thus, from our instruments may we all be instructed to raise a
stately fabric of good works, upon the strong foundation of faith,
that we may be fitted at last to inhabit that glorious house, not
made with hands, eternal in the Heavens!
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