THE PROPRIETY OF ALLOWING THE USE OF THEIR
CHURCHES FOR MASONIC CELEBRATIONS.
"THE HISTORICAL LANDMARKS OF FREEMASONRY," "THE HISTORY OF INITIATION," ETC.
PAST DEPUTY GRAND MASTER OF THE GRAND LODGE OF MASSACHUSETTS, U.S.,
PAST DEPUTY PROVINCIAL GRAND MASTER FOR LINCOLNSHIRE,
&c. &c. &c.
RICHARD SPENCER, 314, HIGH HOLBORN.
"Masonic Faith acknowledges the Holy Bible to be the Word of God, that it was written by persons divinely inspired, and reveals the whole duty of man. It exhibits the nature, character, and perfections of God, as essentially and infinitely excellent, and himself as a Being in whom all our holy affections should ultimately centre. Masonry, in the strongest and most impressive language, inculcates the same interesting truths. The Scriptures enjoin supreme love to God, and universal benevolence to all mankind. These are the first duties impressed on the heart of a Mason."--Town's Speculative Masonry.
There is nothing perfect under the sun. The Almighty Disposer of Events has ordered it, for wise and beneficent purposes secret to us, that the attainment of knowledge should be progressive. Thus the endowments or qualities of inanimate stones are exceeded by those which appear inherent in plants; their properties must succumb to the instinct of animals, and that to the reason of man. But man, compared with the higher range of beings, is as imperfect as the rough stone compared with himself; for he is incapable of attaining to the perfection of the heavenly hierarchy. Hooker says, "In the matter of knowledge, there is betweene the angels of God and the children of men this difference. Angels alreadie have full and complete knowledge in the highest degree that can bee imparted vnto them; men, if wee view them in their spring, are at first without vnderstanding or knowledge at all. Never-thelesse from this vtter vacuity they grow by degrees, till they come at length to be even as the angels themselves are. The soule of man, being therefore at the first as a booke, wherein nothing is, and yet all things may be imprinted, we are to search by what steppes and degrees it riseth vnto perfection of knowledge." [Eccles. Pol. folio, ed., no date, p. 12.]
Experience teaches, that, at different periods of his life, man is unequal in his talents, and advances by slow and progressive steps, to such a measure of knowledge as may reward his industry and application. In his infancy he is little superior to the animals which are void of reason. Light gradually springs up in his mind, and he becomes intelligent. As he advances in years, he learns to know the difference between [3/4] good and evil, right and wrong. Learning, science, and religion, follow in due course, as the ripening faculties expand; and he may in the end, by assiduity and research, attain the limited knowledge of which his nature is capable; and this is but to understand and feel his own weakness and incapacity; and humbly to aspire to an increase of light in a better and happier state, through the influence of his religious feelings, and a firm reliance on the aid of that great and perfect Being, who has placed the means of knowledge and happiness within his reach.
The times in which we live are distinguished by a rigorous severity of profession, accompanied by a laxity of practice, both in spiritual and temporal matters, which, I believe, is without precedent It is to the former that my present observations will apply, in an earnest appeal to the sober sense of mankind, in behalf of a sublime institution, which, although much maligned, is making its way silently amongst all classes of the community, being recommended by its pure and chaste virtues, and the general correctness of conduct exhibited by its members.
Objections have been urged against Freemasonry in all ages of its existence, by those who were jealous of its secret influence, or envied the privileges of the favoured individuals who had been initiated into its mysteries. But although refuted over and over again, the same objections recur at stated periods; being re-produced, as it should appear, for the purpose of fanning our zeal, and keeping alive our interest in the Institution. It is amusing, in studying the history of the Craft, to find the hackneyed arguments, which were refuted by Hutchinson, Callcott, and others, in the last century, brought forward again and again by new candidates for the honour of an anonymous blow at the immortal giantess, whose huge limbs overspread the earth. Scarcely any novelty in the form of an objection is to be found. The censures have been chiefly confined to its secrecy, the exclusion of females, the obligation, &c. &c.
In the present times, however, the monotony has been relieved by a series of new objections, which, like the former, though extremely plausible, are not founded on truth, and therefore will not endure the test of critical examination. They equally allude to a presumption that the character of Freemasonry is anti-Christian; and that its rites and ceremonies are consequently a profanation of sacred things, and unworthy the practice of a minister, or serious professor of [4/5] the Gospel of Christ. [This opinion is strongly expressed in the Tablet, a Roman Catholic journal of anti-Masonic tendency; where it is gravely asserted that our Lodges are "diametrically opposed to our most holy Catholic religion; destructive of every bond of heavenly as well as earthly authority; contradictory to all the maxims of the gospel; and tending solely, under the fraudful veil of a deceitfully pleasing novelty, and ill-understood philanthropy, and a spurious liberty, to disorganize, to overthrow, and to destroy all that is religious, honourable, or beneficial, not only to the Catholic as such, but to the simplest citizen in his social position."] Such charges display a profound ignorance of the plan on which Freemasonry has been framed; and it is for the purpose of correcting such mistaken notions that the author of the present essay has been induced to enter on the following explanation of the nature and tendency of an Order, to the study of which he has devoted his leisure time for any years, in the humble hope of converting those who may have been too hastily led, from a concurrence of causes, to doubt its purity, or call in question the moral and religious influence of its principles in promoting the happiness and well-being of society at large.
The benefits of Freemasonry were intended to be progressive; increasing with every step, till they arrive at the great sacrifice of atonement, by which we are sanctified, and made capable of a divine inheritance. The first or blue degrees, are symbolical. They contain no direct allusion to the Christian plan of salvation, although the entire system of Craft Masonry is typical of that one event. Every historical landmark is so evident a type of this auspicious scheme, that the coincidence can neither be overlooked nor misapplied. What are the references of Jacob's vision; the three grand offerings; the deliverance from Egyptian bondage, with the burning bush, and the pillar of cloud and of fire; the pot of manna, the scape-goat, the brazen serpent, the tabernacle, the ark of the covenant and its appendages, with many other adjuncts to Blue Masonry, if they are not typical of the Christian dispensation? The whole system is essentially, though not professedly Christian. [Brother Poole, in his excellent sermon on the Creation of Light, justly observes, "from what we are taught and instructed in by the lectures and workings of our Lodges, we see that Masonry, in its most sacred sense, is a science of light, a bright beam, a noble and holy system of practical religion, which derives its excellence from, and would ever direct its children to the First Grand Source of all Light, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."]
The reception of these degrees was intended as an exercise of the judgment, and a trial of virtue. The process is gradual, [5/6] from the rough stone in the north-east angle of the Lodge, to the perfected aspirant, standing on the five points of fellowship. His progress, however, can only be matured by serious reflection and mental assiduity, without which he will never understand the typical references contained in the degrees he has received, or their tendency to dignify his nature, and make him a wiser and a better man. Still these steps, sublime though they be, are only preparatory to something infinitely more striking, and more directly applicable to the great dispensation on which all our hopes of happiness, both in this world and a better, are suspended. Red Masonry displays the direct prophecies of the Messiah, the star of Jacob, Shiloh, the cornerstone, Moses at the bush, &c. In Military Masonry, all these prophecies are fulfilled, and the Christian system clearly developed; while in the Rose Croix it is displayed in all its comely and perfect proportions.
There are abundant reasons for believing that Freemasonry had no stated lectures before the great revival in 1717; and the disquisitions enjoined at that period were compiled by Drs. Anderson, Desaguliers, and other worthy and learned brethren, from ancient records, and the viva voce information of experienced members of the four old lodges then in active operation. It is evident, from a copy of these primitive lectures in my possession, that the compilers intended to associate Freemasonry, to a certain extent, with Christianity. Thus, at the very outset, in the first degree, we find the candidate assuming to have been recommended by "the Brethren of the Holy Lodge of St. John," and "professing the Christian doctrine, ruling and governing his passions, and doing to others as he would have others do to him." He also refers a significant part of the ceremony to an observation of Jesus Christ, "ask, and ye shall have; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." They had also a tradition of St. John the Evangelist being invited to take upon himself the Grand Mastership of the Order. Now, although this tradition may be of no authority, yet its very existence proves that our ancient brethren were desirous of connecting Masonry with Christianity by a decided and unequivocal link.
In the Lecture of the Second Degree, we again find a reference to the "Lodge of St. John;" and, which is more to our present purpose, we have also an explanation of the Masonic meaning attached to the title, "Great Architect of the Universe," who is plainly declared to be Jesus Christ. These are the words: "The Grand Architect or Contriver of the [6/7] Universe, or He that was taken to the top of the pinnacle of the Holy Temple." In another course of lectures, used a few years later, called the "Old York Lectures," we find the five in this degree referred to "the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ." The ceremonies of the third degree were openly explained by learned Brethren, not many years after the revival of Masonry, to be typical of Christianity. And it does not weaken the force of the argument, to urge, that these direct references were expunged from the system at the revision of the lectures consequent on the union of Ancient and Modern Masonry in 1813; it is enough to show, that they existed in the earliest known ritual, and hence constitute an evident proof that Freemasonry, at its revival, was considered applicable to that religion which is the perfection of Judaism, and the glory of the whole earth.
I now proceed to state the objections seriatim. They are four in number, and have been so framed as to constitute as many distinct propositions.
1. It is objected, that a true Christian cannot or ought not to join in Masonry, because Masons offer prayers to God without the mediation of a Redeemer, through whom alone our prayers can meet with acceptance.
2. It is objected, that we inculcate the principles of brotherly I love and charity as peculiarly incumbent on us, because we are bound by the ties of Masonry; whereas such acts, to be acceptable to God, should proceed from a love of God, reconciled to mankind through the sacrifice of Christ, any other motive being not only not acceptable, but sinful.
3. That the mention of the Lord's name in the Lodge is a contravention of the third commandment. It is fully acknowledged, that this Name is never introduced with levity, but with the greatest reverence, yet is not its use in some degree objectionable, in the same way as is its heedless introduction into any ordinary discourse?
And 4. That the Protestant Church of England knows nothing of the society of Freemasons, therefore it is a desecration to suffer any section of that society to appear, in the character of Masons, within the walls of its sacred edifices.
How untenable soever these propositions may be, it is under the impression that the objectors conscientiously believe them to be true, that this apology or defence has been undertaken. It is readily admitted that these objections are specious in appearance, but they will be found extremely superficial when submitted to the test of critical examination. They all [7/8] originate in a mistaken idea of the nature and design of Freemasonry. It is assumed to be a system of religion; whereas, in fact, it merely embraces one branch of religion, which is common to all the modes of worshipping God that exist upon the earth. "It is a system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols." The premises, therefore, being unsound, the conclusions will be necessarily false, as will appear from a slight examination of their tendency.
I. "It is objected that a true Christian cannot, or ought not, to join in Masonry, because Masons offer prayers to God without the mediation of a Redeemer, through whom alone our prayers can meet with acceptance."
This objection pronounces it improper to offer up prayers to God without a reference to the mediation of Christ. Now, although prayer is undoubtedly of much greater efficacy when used in the Redeemer's name, yet it will not be difficult to prove that the offering up of such prayers is not without precedent, even amongst the formularies of devotion which have been prescribed for the observance of Christians. Nor will it be necessary to cite the extreme cases of Socinians and Roman Catholics--the former denying the efficacy of Christ's atonement, and the latter in some instances using the mediation of the Virgin and Saints--in proof of the position. In the Liturgy of our own church, we have no reference to the mediation of Christ in many of the prayers. For instance, in the prayer of St. Chrysostom, the collect for Trinity Sunday, the Bishop's prayer in the confirmation service, and, most of all, in that divine prayer which Jesus Christ recommended to his disciples for their daily use. This constitutes an undeniable proof that those pious and holy men who compiled our formularies, did not maintain the exclusive opinion that prayer to God would be unacceptable, even though, under peculiar circumstances, the name of Christ were not directly used.
It may, however, be demanded of the objectors to verify their assertion, that our prayers have no reference to a Saviour, because nothing can be more incorrect; for in all our appeals to God, His Name is actually used, and His mediation implied. The legitimate prayers of Freemasonry, are short addresses to the Great Architect of the Universe for a blessing on our labours. Now, who is this divine Being whom we thus invoke? Why, according to the interpretation of our ancient brethren, "Him that was carried to the top pinnacle of the holy temple," or Jesus Christ. Nor is Freemasonry singular in this interpretation. St. Paul says, "Jesus Christ laid the foundations [8/9] of the earth, and the heavens are the work of his hands;" or, in other words, that he is the Grand Architect of the Universe. One of our ancient Masonic parallels, St. John, says--"All things were made by him." The Scriptures abound with testimonies to this fact; and as our prayers are all addressed to this glorious Being, I see no force in the objection, although grounded, as it evidently is, on the supposition that Jews, Turks, and Hindoos, may join in the prayers, and apply them to the Supreme object of their respective adoration. Our ancient Brethren, in the construction of an universal system, have adopted a style in their addresses to the Throne of Grace, which, while it may be undoubtedly applied to the God of the Jews and Mussulmans, is still more particularly applicable to the Redeemer, under the Christian covenant, because it is the very title by which he is designated in the inspired writings of the New Testament; and, therefore, every Christian Mason in appealing to the Grand Architect of the Universe, ought to be fully impressed with the salutary truth, that his prayer is directed to God through the mediation of Christ; precisely according to the precedent in the collects for the third Sunday in Advent, and the first Sunday in Lent, as set forth in the formularies of our church.
The same reasoning will apply to the Tetragrammaton, or name of Jehovah, used in the Old Testament, which is universally understood to mean the Messiah, or Christ. Some of the Rabbins believe that the Messiah will reveal himself to man by this name; and our Saviour did so, and commanded his disciples to baptise in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, which Trinity is comprehended in the name Jehovah. The first letter, Jod, signifying the Father; the second, He, the Son; and the third, Vau, the Holy Ghost; the repetition of the letter He referring to the humanity of Christ, as the former He refers to his divinity.
2. "It is objected that we inculcate the principles of brotherly love and charity as peculiarly incumbent on us, because we are bound by the ties of Masonry; whereas such acts, to be acceptable to God, should proceed from a love of God, reconciled to mankind through the sacrifice of Christ; any other motive being not only not acceptable, but sinful."
St. Paul's directions to the Galatians on this point are--"As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." The doctrine of Masonry respecting brotherly love and charity is founded upon this model--"To extend relief to all mankind, [9/10] especially to those who are Brother Masons." In many parts of the lectures, however, the precepts are general and unrestricted. Thus, at his initiation, the candidate is instructed "never to shut his ears against the cries of the distressed, but listening with attention to the recital of their sufferings, pity should flow from his heart, accompanied by that relief which their necessities require, and his own circumstances will admit." The definition of Charity contains a similar recommendation: "By the exercise of brotherly love, we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family; who, as children of the same parent, and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support, and protect each other." It is unnecessary to multiply examples. The general doctrine pervades the entire system. Indeed, the charge to an E. A. P. confirms it by saying that "the basis on which Freemasonry rests is, the practice of social and moral virtue, including benevolence and charity."
As to the charge of relieving a distressed Brother "because he is a Mason," the principle is borne out by the practice of all civilized nations. What are the various asylums, hospitals, benevolent societies, and public charities, but associations for purposes which are exclusive in their operation? The clergy of this country have a fund for the relief of aged and decayed ministers, their widows and orphans, and none other can participate in its bounties. The medical profession, the law, the army and navy, possess similar institutions; which, indeed, are not uncommon amongst other classes of the community. How then can Freemasonry be consistently condemned, because she has her benevolent fund for widows, her schools for orphans, and her asylum for worthy, aged, and decayed Brethren, which are exclusively confined to those for whose benefit they have been peculiarly established? Can a subscription to any of these institutions be offensive to God? Our Saviour answers the question in the instructions which he gave to his apostles when he sent them forth to preach the gospel: "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils; freely you have received, freely give. Into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go hence. And whosoever shall not receive you nor hear your words, shake off the dust of your feet;" or, in other words, withhold from them the benefits of your ministration, and confer them only on those who are worthy.
But it is urged, that "such acts, to be acceptable to God, should proceed from a love of God, reconciled to mankind through the sacrifice of Christ." This argument displays an [10/11] utter ignorance of the true design of Freemasonry. On the very threshold of the first degree, when the candidate represents the corner-stone, the intent of the Order is expounded as a moral edifice of the love of man, founded on the love of God, and of three great duties linked together, and proceeding from each other, the basis being his duty to, his dependence on, and his reverence for, the Great Architect of the Universe. Nothing can be clearer than this exposition; nothing can more satisfactorily show, that in whatever manner we may perform our duty to our neighbour or ourselves, by conferring benefits, all must be founded on a love of God, under the name of the Great Architect of the Universe, which, to the Christian Mason, means Jesus Christ.
3. "It is objected that the mention of the Lord's name in the Lodge is a contravention of the third commandment. It is fully, acknowledged that this name is never introduced with levity, but with the greatest reverence; yet, is not its use in some degree objectionable, in the same way as is its heedless introduction into any ordinary discourse?"
To understand this objection rightly, it will be necessary to premise that there are three ways of using the holy Name of God, which have been pronounced sinful. 1, By wilful perjury; 2, By rash and profane swearing; 3, By an irreverent use of it in common conversation. It does not appear, however, that either of these is included in the objection, although it is so loosely expressed, as to render the precise meaning rather equivocal. The words are--"It is fully acknowledged that this name is never introduced with levity, but with the greatest reverence; yet is not its use in some degree objectionable, in the same way as its heedless introduction into any ordinary discourse?" Now, it appears to me that if it be not used in the Lodge with levity, it cannot justly be classed with the "heedless introduction of it into ordinary discourse." The first application of this name is not sinful, except in its violation. It is introduced into all legal institutions in every part of the world without the least impropriety. Moses says--"Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and shalt swear by his Name." And Bishop Sanderson remarks: "The obligation of an oath ariseth precisely from this, that God is invoked as a witness and avenger. And it is a matter well worthy of the consideration of every man, that as the object of a lawful oath is God alone, so it contains a solemn confession of his omnipresence, his omniscience, and his omnipotence." Apply this reasoning [11/12] to Freemasonry, and it will appear perfectly justified in the limited use of God's name which prevails in our Lodges.
I am unwilling to believe that the use of the name of the Lord, in serious discourse, is either sinful or improper. Indeed, I cannot understand how the work of the ministry is to be carried on without it. How is the sinner to be turned from darkness to light--how are the wicked to be brought to know the error of their ways, if the Redeemer's name is not to be used as an incentive to their reformation? St. James, however, is explicit on this point. He says, when instructing the Christian converts on the correct method of performing their worldly duties, "Go to now, ye that say to-day or to-morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy, and sell, and get gain; whereas ye know not what will be on the morrow. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this or that." Here is an unexceptionable rule for the use of the Lord's name "in ordinary discourse." It is universally understood, and universally practised, by men of the greatest piety and virtue. It follows, therefore, that its introduction into the serious rituals of Freemasonry, is neither unnecessary nor sinful.
4. "It is asserted by some persons who are unfriendly to the Order, that the Protestant Church of England knows nothing of the Society of Freemasons, and therefore it is a desecration to suffer any section of that society to appear in the character of Masons within the walls of its sacred edifices."
Now, I will undertake to prove, from indisputable evidence, that our Christian Church does know something of the Fraternity; that it is mainly indebted to Freemasonry for its preservation in the darker ages; that the Order is acknowledged as an existing institution both by Church and State; and that, so far from being desecrated by the appearance of the Masonic paraphernalia within its walls, such exhibitions are in strict accordance with the ancient discipline of the Church.
Freemasonry is principally professed and practised by members of the Church of England. And if we take a prima facie view of its doctrines, we shall find them to correspond with those of the Thirty-nine Articles, on which our Church is founded. We profess a faith in God through Jesus Christ, under the name of the Grand Architect of the Universe, or "Him who was placed on a Pinnacle of the Temple;" and inculcate a strict and conscientious performance of the duties which we owe to God, our neighbour, and ourselves, as a [12/13] means of elevating us to the Grand Lodge above, "a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
But this is not all. Freemasonry was introduced into this country, according to our traditions, along with Christianity, by St. Austin, and has been patronized in all ages by the prelates of the Church. It is peculiarly an episcopal institution; and in early times the bishops were enjoined to make the study of Masonry their especial care. ["From the first rise of Gothic architecture in the twelfth," says Whittingham, in his Essay, "to its completion in the fifteenth century, the improvements are owing to the munificence of the church, and the vast abilities of the Freemasons in the middle ages. These scientific persons have great claim to our admiration, from the richness and fertility of their inventive powers. By them the eastern style was transplanted into the west; and under them it was so much altered and amplified, that it assumed an entirely new appearance."] We find honourable examples of their Masonic excellence in the history of the Order; and the Grand Masters were frequently selected from the highest dignitaries of the Church. Thus we find in
A. D. 597, Austin the Monk was the Grand Master of Masons.
A. D. 680, the Abbot of Wirral.
A. D. 856, St. Swithin.
A. D. 857, Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury.
A. D. 1066, Gundulph, Bishop of Rochester.
A. D. 1155, The Grand Master of the Templars.
A. D. 1216, Peter de Rupibus, Bishop of Winchester.
A. D. 1272, Walter Giffard, Archbishop of York.
A. D. 1307, Walter Stapleton, Bishop of Exeter.
A. D. 1357, William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester. [NOTE]
A. D. 1375, Simon Langham, Abbot of Westminster.
A. D. 1413, Henry Chichely, Archbishop of Canterbury.
A. D. 1443, William Waynfleet, Bishop of Winchester.
A. D. 1471, Richard Beauchamp, Bishop of Salisbury.
A. D. 1500, The Grand Master of the Order of St. John.
A. D. 1515, Cardinal Wolsey.
A. D. 1552, John Poynet, Bishop of Winchester.
[NOTE. Bishop Lowth, in his life of that eminent prelate, asserts that his talents were originally discovered in his knowledge of architecture; and that, at a; very early period of life, before he had dedicated himself to the priesthood, he was employed in designing the royal works at Windsor and Queenborough. In the years 1357 and 1359, he received patents, with a competent salary, and with powers to impress every kind of artificer. That this knowledge and taste for architecture retained their strongest influence through his whole life, cannot admit of a doubt, and that he was the architect, in fact, (sciens et efficas,) of both his colleges at Oxford and Winton. In the decline of his life, his works in the cathedral of the last-mentioned, were solely entrusted to William Wynford, a master mason, of great ability, who had long enjoyed his patronage, and whose future services are commanded in the Bishop's will: "Volo etiam et ordino quod dispositio et ordinatio hujusmodi novi operis fiant per magistrum Wilhelmum Wynford et alios sufficientes, discretos et in arte illâ approbatos (evidently meaning Freemasons), ab executoribus meis deputandos; ac quod Dominus Simon Membury (a priest), sit supervisor et solutor dicti operis sit in futurum." (Lowth's Life of Wykeham, app. xxxv. See Dallaway's Architecture, p. 415.)]
 After the Reformation the Grand Mastership fell into the hands of laymen, because its patrons were generally the kings of England, Defenders of the Faith, and Supreme Heads of the Church. The dignified clergy, however, have frequently been initiated into the mysteries of the Craft, and the present venerable and exemplary Archbishop of Canterbury is a Mason, although his Grace's onerous duties will not allow him to attend its meetings. But he is too truly imbued with its pure and holy principles to enter a protest against the Order, or to prohibit its assemblies, for divine purposes, within the churches of his province.
Hence, the assertion that the Church of England knows nothing of the principles of Freemasonry, is not borne Out by facts. Besides, Freemasonry is practised under the sanction of laws enacted by a British Parliament, by lords spiritual and temporal, and confirmed by the Supreme Head of the Church in these dominions. It pervades every city and town in England. It shows itself, without disguise, in places of public concourse; its principles are open to discussion, and are actually subjects of curious investigation in every phase of society; and they are displayed in published volumes, and periodical journals. No one can be ignorant of its existence, and its tenets have not been hid under a bushel. All is open-- all is unreserved--all is without concealment. Can the Church of England be ignorant of matters which have been enacted under its immediate eye, and with its especial consent, for centuries? Can it be ignorant of the processions and ceremonies that have so frequently been exhibited within its walls? Can it be ignorant of the many pious and learned discourses on the principles of the Order, which have been preached and published under its sanction? It is impossible. Say no more, then, that the Church of England knows nothing of Freemasonry; but if the doors of the sacred edifice must be closed against it, let it be under some pretext more consistent with truth, reason, and propriety.
But is it wise, is it just, is it even prudent, to prohibit the [14/15] venerable Order from worshipping the Grand Architect of the Universe within the walls of an edifice consecrated to holy services? Is it, grateful in the clergy of our evangelical Church to forbid an institution, professing the purest Christian morality, from approaching its altars? Why, if it had not been for Freemasonry, the Church of England would have had no existence. To whom are the clergy indebted for their churches? To the Freemasons. Who built all those stately edifices which dignify and adorn the land? ["These immense works produced a host of artificers, out of whom, in imitation of the confraternities, which, for various purposes, had existed from ancient times, companies were formed, academies, schools, and bodies were established. An oath of secrecy was administered to the novitiates; a veil of mystery pervaded their meetings, which, in an age when many were ignorant, conferred importance. Such institutions, in the infancy of science, were singularly beneficial. By their efforts, new lights were elicited, and valuable discoveries extensively diffused." (Gunn. Goth. Arch. p. 60.)] The Freemasons, under episcopal authority and superintendence. ["The opulence of the clergy, and zeal of the laity, furnished ample funds for building so great a number of magnificent churches, monasteries, and religious houses, that it was with great difficulty workmen could be procured to execute those pious works. The popes, for very obvious reasons, favoured the erection and endowment of churches and convents, and granted many indulgences by their bulls to the society of Masons, in order to increase their numbers. They styled themselves Freemasons, and ranged from one nation to another, as they found churches to be built; for very many in those ages were every where in building, through piety and emulation. Their government was regular; and when they fixed near the building in hand, they made a camp of huts. A Surveyor governed in chief; every tenth man was called a Warden, and overlooked each nine. The gentlemen in the neighbourhood, either out of charity or commutation of penance, gave the materials and carriages. Those who have seen the accounts in records of the charge of the fabrics of some of our cathedrals, near four hundred years old, cannot but have a great esteem for their economy, and admire how soon they erected such lofty structures." (Wren's Parentalia, p. 306. Henry's England, vol. vi. p. 191.)] The Church of England ignorant of Freemasonry! The Church of England unconscious of an institution whose presidents have been its bishops, whose supporters have been its clergy, and whose patrons have been its Supreme Head! If this be true, the Church of England has much to answer for. But I am persuaded it is not true; and, for the credit of our venerable establishment, I hope to remove the unmerited odium which has been cast upon it by this idle objection.
It is freely conceded that Freemasonry is not Christianity. Neither is the Church of England. But the Church is a means of applying Christianity to the condition of man's [15/16] depraved nature, in order to inspire a lively faith in God's mercy through Christ, which may stimulate obedience to the ordinance and commands of the Gospel, and produce the salvation of souls. In like manner, Freemasonry is an application of the precepts of Christianity, to enforce the obligations of moral duty, that the free and accepted Mason may be induced to obey the royal law of Christ, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them."
And this affords a plausible reason why Freemasonry is repudiated, and denounced by the Vatican. [An anecdote of a noble brother, which is related on undoubted authority, will show the power of Freemasonry even on the dignitaries of the Romish Church, when they will give themselves the trouble to investigate its principles, and put the truth of its pretensions to the test. "M. le Baron de R------, during a long life honourably employed in the diplomatic service of his sovereign, was for several years stationed at Rome as the representative of his country. On one of the festivals of the Church, previous to participation in which confession is enjoined, he attended the celebrated Cardinal Gonsalva, who officiated as Grand Penitentiary. After having unburthened his bosom, be waited for some time in expectation of the customary rite. His Eminence paused--there was evidently something labouring upon his mind. He at last observed to his still kneeling penitent, 'You are a Freemason.' As Secretary of State, the prelate had been made, acquainted with the fact by the police, who had watched the meeting of a Lodge which the Baron, being privileged as a foreign minister, occasionally held at his residence. Our noble brother frankly acknowledged the fact, adding,' that so far from considering it a crime, from the moral excellence of the institution, he was proud of it as a virtue.' In the language of Scripture, the Cardinal replied, If God hath not condemned it, neither will I. What further passed, the sacred landmarks of our Order command me to keep silent; but the illustrious Gonsalva died a Brother."--(Freemasons' Quarterly Review, vol. iii., p. 12.)] It is of a nature too enlightening--too well calculated to remove prejudice, and infuse into the heart a spirit of inquiry after truth--and too sensible a corrective of that species of religious bigotry which ought to be discountenanced by every sincere Christian--to be tolerated by any exclusive system. The denunciations against Freemasonry which have been thundered from the highest quarters in the Romish Church,9 and re-echoed from the pulpits of the inferior clergy, ought to operate amongst the professors of a reformed religion as an incentive to inquiry, and to a charitable construction of those secret observances (few though they be) which are withheld from public view. [It is styled in The Tablet, "This infernal Sanhedrim, the scope and tendency of which are no other than to shake off every tie of duty, human or divine, and to destroy, as far as it may be possible, all the foundations of the Catholic religion."] Secretiora non divuleganda non communicanda [16/17] in vulgus. When we hear a party shouting, "Down with the Freemasons! Have no fellowship with them! They are impious and immoral! They are prohibited and condemned! They are excommunicate!" &c.; and when we find that party exhibiting a jealousy of mental enlightenment on many other subjects, we are justified in concluding that the denunciations are of doubtful authority, and intended to lead the ignorant and unwary astray. [See The Tablet, passim. It is ignorance, and not knowledge, which will prove the worst enemy to Freemasonry. Look at a recent instance in the prohibition of the Archbishop of Malta. If he had known what Masonry is, would he have described it thus?--"In the name of God Almighty, and of his only true Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, and authorized as we are expressly by the Papal authority, denounce, proscribe, and condemn, in the most public manner, the instalments, unions, meetings, and all the proceedings of this Lodge of abominations, as being diametrically opposed to our sacred religion, as destructive to every celestial law, every mundane authority, contradictory to every evangelical maxim, and as tending to disorganize and put to flight whatever of religion, of honesty, and of good there may be in the holy Catholic faith.' If this unfortunate individual had possessed correct information on the true nature and principles of Freemasonry, he would not have exposed himself to the charge of bigotry, by denouncing it.]
Such outrageous proceedings, so contrary to the mild and tolerant spirit of the nineteenth century, will naturally excite a suspicion that they have something further in view than the extirpation of error, or the defence of truth, because violence will be incapable of producing either the one or the other. The means are not adapted to the end. And therefore the clergy of our Church ought to be on their guard, lest, by joining in the senseless cry, they subject themselves to the same charges of intolerance and bigotry which have been frequently applied to the Church of Rome, and thrown a shade of suspicion and doubt over its proceedings.
But those Protestant clergymen who refuse the use of their churches for a Masonic service, differing in no one respect from that prescribed by the rubrics and canons, are guilty of an error in judgment, which exposes them to the stigma of uncharitableness and want of courtesy at the least, if not to a severer censure. Besides, such a selfish exercise of power is indefensible, either from reason or analogy. What degree of consistency can be awarded to a clergyman who refuses his church to Freemasonry, which is a charitable institution on a broad and extensive scale, while he freely grants the use of it for sermons in aid of hospitals, schools, and other exclusive [17/18] charities, although their design is restricted within comparatively narrow limits.
The emblems and regalia of Freemasonry are sometimes objected to, as being forbidden by the 88th Canon, which enjoins the churchwardens not to suffer "plays, feasts, banquets, suppers, church ales, drinkings, &c, to be kept in the church." But how does this apply to the Masonic regalia? And if badges are to be prohibited during the time of divine service, farewell surplices and bands, gowns and cassocks; farewell silk aprons, wigs, and lawn sleeves; our noble senators must lay aside their robes, and the royal household their dresses of state; the crown and sceptre will become unmeaning baubles, and the rich ermine of no greater estimation than the chequered dress of harlequin, or the chintz jacket of the facetious clown.
But as the Canons of the Church have been cited as an overwhelming argument against Masonic badges, we will consider what they actually enjoin in this respect. They command that "all Masters and Fellows of Colleges, all scholars and students, at the time of divine service, shall wear surplices, according to the order of the Church of England." [Can. 17.] Again, "The holy communion shall be administered, &c, the principal minister using a decent cope." [Can. 24.] "All deans, masters, and heads of collegiate churches, canons, and prebendaries, shall daily, at the times both of prayer and preaching, wear with their surplices such hoods as are agreeable to their degrees; [Can. 25.] such ministers as are not graduates to wear upon their surplices, instead of hoods, some decent tippet of black." [Can. 58.] Again, "All doctors in divinity, law, and physic, &c, shall wear gowns with standing collars and sleeves, and hoods or tippets of silk, and square caps." [Can. 74.]
It will be unnecessary to add a single word of commentary on the above extracts from the Canons of our Church. They are plain and explicit, and establish the general principle that the use of badges during the celebration of divine service is not only not forbidden, but absolutely enjoined. And the argument that these regulations do not extend to the laity beyond the universities, will have no weight, when we consider that the constant practice of the Church has lent its sanction to the custom amongst laymen, in the surplice of the singing man and boy, the gown of the clerk and verger, and the canonical band of the bluecoat boy.
 And further, the Church teaches the absolute utility of ceremonies, as a means of "setting forth God's honour and glory, and reducing of the people to a most perfect and godly living, without error or superstition; and without some ceremonies, it is not possible to keep any order or quiet discipline in the Church." [Com. Prayer. (Of Ceremonies.)] Now, the ceremonies of Freemasonry are as pure, and as rational, and, I may add, as holy, as the external ceremonies of any religious establishment; and, therefore, it is extremely offensive to hear them classed with "feasts, banquets, suppers, church ales, and drinkings," as if it were the intention of Freemasons to imitate the conduct which at Corinth elicited the animadversion of St. Paul. [1 Cor. xi. 22.] The public processions of the Order are decorous and unexceptionable; and the Church is rather honoured than desecrated by their presence. It would indeed be well if every minister of the Church could be able to reflect, that in the administration of its services he was never surrounded by a congregation of a more degrading character, than when it is resplendent with the badges and regalia of the Masonic Fraternity.
As a proof that the above observations are founded in truth, and that the practice of Masonry includes the fundamental principles of Christianity, I shall now proceed' to examine how the great plan of human redemption may be traced in the system by the light of its accredited symbols.
The abundance of Christian types which are dispersed throughout the entire system of speculative Freemasonry, must have a tendency to show that the Order is essentially Christian. In its earliest stages it was undoubtedly a patriarchal and Jewish institution; but, like the design of the Mosaical economy, its reference was evidently to a better; dispensation, which had been promised to Adam at the fall, and renewed to all the principal patriarchs in succession;--revealed to the prophets, and perfected at the Advent of Christ. The principal types which have been recorded in Holy Scripture are incorporated into the system of Freemasonry, and constitute landmarks which are unchangeable. The conclusion, therefore, is evident. If they are types of the Redeemer in one instance, they must be also in the other. And as the Jewish religion was a temporary dispensation to herald a more perfect system of faith, so Jewish Freemasonry was the precursor and symbol of that which is now Christian.
One of the most remarkable of these types is that luminous [19/20] appearance which enlightens the centre of our Lodges, called the BLAZING STAR.
This ornament refers to the sun; and is considered by Masons to be an emblem of Prudence. Thus our lectures say: "The Blazing Star, or glory in the centre, refers us to that grand luminary the sun, which enlightens the earth, and by its genial influence dispenses blessings to mankind." And again, "It is placed in the centre, ever to be present to the eye of the Mason, that his heart may be attentive to the dictates, and steadfast in the laws, of Prudence; for prudence is the rule of all virtues; prudence is the path which leads to every degree of propriety; prudence is the channel whence self-approbation for ever flows; she leads us forth to worthy actions; and, as a Blazing Star, enlightens us through the dreary and darksome paths of life." But the Masons of the last century applied this symbol in a sense much more appropriate and sublime. It was said to represent "the star which led the wise men to Bethlehem, proclaiming to mankind the nativity of the Son of God, and here conducting our spiritual progress to the author of our Redemption." [Hutchinson's Spirit of Masonry, p. 123.] And this application of the symbol is blended with the former by our transatlantic Brethren thus--"The Blazing Star is emblematical of that Prudence which ought to appear conspicuous in the conduct of every Mason; but more especially commemorative of the Star which appeared in the East, to guide the wise men to Bethlehem, and proclaim the birth and the presence of the Son of God."
This latter reference of the Blazing Star I shall now proceed to illustrate.
St. John speaks of the sublime Being who was thus proclaimed, under the name of the Word. In Freemasonry, he is denominated the Great Architect of the Universe, which has precisely the same signification. Tertullian says "God made the fabric of this world out of nothing, by means of his Word, Wisdom, or Power." [Apol. c. 21.] The ancient philosophers held the opinion that the Word or Wisdom was the creator of all things; and Zeno plainly terms him the Great Architect of the Universe. The doctrine of the inspired Evangelist could not, therefore, be misunderstood, when he said, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was [20/21] the light of man. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." [John i. 1-14.]
There is an old tradition amongst Masons that this passage as in existence long before St. John flourished; and that, finding the formula suited to his purpose, he commenced his evangelical labours with it. Henry O'Brien says, "That St. John never wrote them, is beyond all question; but having found them to his hand, existing after the circuit of ages and centuries, the composition seemed so pure, and so consonant with Christianity--nay, its very vitality and soul--he adopted it as the preface to his own production." [Round Towers, p. 483.] In the English system of Freemasonry this tradition is exploded; but it is retained in all other parts of the world. It is mentioned by several credible authors in the early times of Christianity; and we are quite sure that our ancient Brethren attached to it this precise signification. Thus it is related by Philostorgius, and after him by Nicephorus, that at the clearing of the foundations, when Julian the apostate set himself to rebuild the temple, a stone was taken up that covered the mouth of a deep square cave, cut out of the rock, into which one of the labourers, being let down by a rope, found in the centre of the floor a cubical pillar, on which lay a roll or book, wrapped up in a fine linen cloth, which being unfolded was found to contain, amongst other matter, the commencement of the Gospel of St. John, in capital letters, In the beginning was the Word, &c. [Philost. 1. vii., c. 14. Niceph. l. x. p. 76.]
The expression--in the beginning was the Word--evidently referred to the pre-existence and eternity of Christ, because St. John glances at times, not only prior to the incarnation, but to the creation of the world. In the system of Freemasonry propounded by Scroeder, a tedious and abstruse philosophical lecture concludes with asserting that "this Word was, and is, and for ever shall be, the noble tree, and spiritual philosopher's stone, even Christ Jesus the Lord." This Word was termed Light, one of the primitive names of our science. Again he says, "the Word was with God;" or, was of one substance with the Father; as he himself declares when he says, "I and my Father are one." [John x. 13.] The same was in the beginning with God, and united with the Father from all eternity; which is expressed in the Apocalypse by A and W; [Rev. xxii. 13.] and originated the [21/22] nineteenth degree of the Rite Ancien et Accepte, called Grand Pontiff. "All things were made by him." He was the Creator and Grand Architect of the Universe, so frequently referred to in Freemasonry, and symbolized by a blazing star; and the words, "was made flesh and dwelt among men," are an illustration of the star personified.
The evidences of this fact are numerous and striking. When any great event for the benefit of mankind has been deemed necessary, it has been invariably effected by the agency of the Great Architect of the Universe, manifested in a visible lucid appearance, as a smoke, a cloud, a fire, or a blazing star. Hence Philo terms the divine Word "a supercelestial star." [De Mundi Opificio, p. 6.] All the various revelations of the Deity, whether in the works of creation, providence, or redemption, were made through him, and therefore he is properly styled the Word of God. He conversed with Adam in the garden of Eden; [Genesis ii. 16,17; iii. 8, 9.] and the appearance was uniformly by a light like fire; ["To Adam the Logos appeared, I know not whether I should say in the shape of a man, or in the way of a bright cloud moving in Paradise when the wind began to rise, and asking with a voice of majesty after his rebellious subject And that this was the Son of God is insinuated by the Targon of Onkelos, in Genesis iii. 8. The text of Moses is thus translated: 'And when they heard the voice of the Lord God.' But this is the sense of the words of Onkelos: 'And they heard the voice of the Word of the Lord God.'"--(Ten. Idol. p. 321.)] appeared after the fall as a flaming sword; [Gen. iii. 24.] fell like a beam of glory upon Abel's sacrifice; passed like the flame of a lamp between the sacrifices of Abraham; [Gen. xv. 17.] displayed himself in the pillar of a cloud and of fire, which guided and protected the Israelites in their deliverance from Egyptian bondage; [Exod. xiii. 21.] in the cloud of glory, and in the judgment of Urim. [Numb. xii. 5; xxvii. 21.] The same Being appeared under such different forms as were best adapted to the occasion--to Abraham, under the oak of Mamre; [Gen. xviii.] and the Chaldee paraphrist, to express that "God went up from Abraham," uses the words Fulgur Dei; to Isaac, at Beersheba; [Gen. xxvi. 24.] to Jacob, at Mahanaim; [Gen. xxxii. 18.] to Moses, as a flame of fire, at Horeb; [Exod. iii. 2-6.] and to Joshua, before the city of Jericho. [Joshua v. 14.] He answered the prayers of Elijah by fire; [1 Kings xviii. 38.] and those of Solomon, at the dedication of the temple, by the same element. [2 Chron. vii. 1.]
But the most remarkable manifestation of the Grand [22/23] Architect of the Universe is that which is symbolized in Freemasonry by a Blazing Star, as the herald of our salvation. We have already seen that almost every divine appearance, from the creation to the advent of Christ, was attended with a luminous appearance like fire, or the flame of a lamp; and, therefore, the star in the east, which was seen by the wise men, would be of the same nature; for, when it appeared, they immediately departed, and it conducted them on their way to Bethlehem, "till it came and stood over the place where the young child was." [Mat. ii. 9.] It was the same glory of the Lord which, on the night of the nativity, shone round about the pious shepherds near Bethlehem; and might, therefore, have been of a globular form, and ascending along with the celestial choir, might have been seen in its ascent by the magi at the distance of five or six hundred miles, diminished to the size of a star, hovering over the land of Judea. [Luke ii. 8-15.] This appearance must have strongly attracted their notice and attention. And if these magi were the descendants of Balaam, who prophesied of the Star to rise out of Jacob, [Numb. xxiv. 9.] and also of the school of Daniel, [Dan. ii. 48.] who foretold the precise time of the coming of Messiah, [Dan. ix. 25.] we may naturally account for their journey to Jerusalem; which is illustrated in a Masonic degree called the Illustrious Order of the Cross; and their adoration of the divine child, who was "a light to lighten the Gentiles, and a glory to his people Israel;" [Luke ii. 23] the day-spring from on high; [Luke i. 78.] the bright and morning star; [Rev. xxii. 16.] the day-star which riseth in our hearts. [2 Pet. i. 19.]
Chalcidius, in his commentary on the Timaeus of Plato, corroborates this opinion, declaring it to be the universal belief of all nations, that "the appearance of a certain star should declare the descent of a venerable Deity for the salvation of mankind." [c. 7.] And he adds--"When this star had been seen by some truly wise men amongst the Chaldeans, who were well versed in the contemplation of the heavenly bodies, they made enquiry concerning the birth of God; and when they had found him, they paid him the worship and adoration which were due to so great a Being."
The final manifestation of the Great Architect of the Universe is recorded in the ingenious degree of Knight of the East and West, taken from the book of Revelation.--"And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse; and he that sat [23/24] upon him was called Faithful and True; and in righteousness; he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written that no man knew but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and his name is called the Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords." [Rev. xix. 11-16.]
Now, considering the omnipresent nature of God, that the heaven of heavens cannot contain him, he necessarily fills all space, and extends through all extent, connecting earth, heaven, and every part of the universe, in a chain of endless gradation; expressed in Freemasonry under the symbol of "a circle whose centre is everywhere, and whose circumference is nowhere." [2 Chron. ii. 6.] Whether we contemplate the most minute or the most magnificent objects of the creation, our minds are filled with an equal degree of wonder, awe, and adoration. All is Masonry. The spacious firmament, containing those blazing stars which beautify and adorn the spangled canopy of heaven, was the work of his hands; nor could the smallest particle of dust have been produced but by his holy Word. It was the Great Architect of the Universe whom God employed in forming the universe out of nothing; and the same Almighty Being is used in supporting and governing his own workmanship; and the visible communications vouchsafed by God to man, are referred by St. Paul to Jesus Christ, who, he says, "being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high." [Heb. i. 3.] ["The Chaldee oracle adviseth us, when we see the most holy fire shining without a form or determinate shape, then hear the voice of it-- that is, esteem it then the true oracle of God, and not the imposture of a demon. And such a fire Psellus, the Scholiast on this oracle, affirmeth to have been seen by many men."--(Ten. ut. supra, p. 317.)]
St. Paul uses the word Anatole, Oriens, to represent the Redeemer of mankind in his glorious brightness. In the application of this word some distinctions have been made: [24/25] apo anatolh, means, from the east; by anatolai, the rising of stars in general is signified; and by h anatolh, the expression of St. Luke, the rising of a particular star in the east, which is the blazing star of Freemasonry, and, with the Cabalists, denoted the eternal wisdom of God, which is the same as the eternal word of God, or Christ. And hence the early Christians, when they prayed, turned their eyes towards the east, or, in other words, towards the Saviour, who was crucified with his face towards the west. Clemens Alexandrinus gives as a reason for praying towards the east, that it is the dayspring, or source of light. And the same practice constitutes an essential ceremony in our Lodges, where wisdom is placed in the east.
God created man upright, in mind as well as in body; but he was tempted by the serpent to fall into sin, which was immediately punished. He was driven out of the happy garden; and the Shekinah, or blazing star from heaven, was placed as a guard to protect the tree of life. From this Shekinah proceeded that celebrated cabalistical symbol of the Deity called the Sephiroth, consisting of ten splendours, three of which are placed as the united light of God, or crown of glory. They were called splendours from a Hebrew root, signifying that they shone with the brightness of the sapphire. Corona summa, quae est mysterium centri, ipsa est radix abscondita, et tres mentes superiores sunt germen, quae uniunt sese in centro, quod est radix earum; septem vero numerationes quae sunt rami, uniunt se germini quod refert mentes, et omnes se uniunt in centro, quod est radix in mysterio nominis radicalis et essentialis, quae radix influit in omnes, et unit omnes influentia sua." [Sephir Jetzirah. Oedip. Egypt, tom. ii. p. 279.] In one of the ineffable degrees of Masonry, called "Master in Israel," the blazing star is made to consist of five points, like a royal crown, in the centre of which appears the initial of the sacred name. They refer to the five equal lights of Masonry--viz., the Bible, square, compasses, key, and triangle; and as the blazing star enlightens the physical, so the five equal points should enlighten the moral condition of an initiated Brother. They denoted the five orders of architecture; the five points of fellowship; the five senses, which constitute the physical perfection of man; and the five zones of the world, all of which are Masonically peopled.
The punishment of Adam was followed by repentance, and [25/26] repentance was the basis of that covenant between God and man which is embodied in the system of speculative Masonry; and comprehends the promise of salvation through faith in a Redeemer, who should bruise the serpent's head. Hence the serpent has been introduced amongst our symbols. One of M. Peuvret's degrees refers to this event: but it is expressed so cabalistically obscure, as to be difficult of comprehension. Thus, the lecture says, "when Adam was created, the light of his life shone in the pure oil of divine essentiality; but, by his fall, mortal water penetrated, so that his mercury became a cold poison, which was before an exaltation to joyfulness. So came darkness into his oil, and he died to the divine light, drawn thereto by the property of the serpent; for in the serpent the wrath kingdom and outward also, was manifest, whose subtilty Eve desired." With much more of the same kind.
The conditions of the divine covenant included repentance, faith, and obedience, or our duty to God, our neighbour, and ourselves. And this was primitive Freemasonry. In different ages and nations the rites and ceremonies of religious worship varied; but its essence was always the same wherever the worship of the true God prevailed. And even when it was abandoned, the fictious worship of the spurious Freemasonry was so modelled as to imitate it as nearly as human reason could approach divine perfection. The principal feature in primitive worship, as in all succeeding ages till the coming of Christ, was annual sacrifices, instituted as an atonement for sin, and typical of that one great sacrifice offered by Jesus Christ as an expiation for the sins of all mankind. This sacrifice is not obscurely intimated in Freemasonry; but several of the degrees are founded upon, and derive all their excellence from the awful fact. In Templarism it is described "the splendid conclusion of the hallowed sacrifice, offered by the Redeemer of mankind, to propitiate the anger of an offended Deity." And again, in another degree, the Senior Sir Knight is directed to "take the signet, and set a mark on the forehead of those who have passed through tribulation patiently, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb which was slain, from the foundation of the world." The Thrice Illustrious Order of the Cross thus notices the atonement:--"It is now the first hour of the day, the time when our Lord suffered, and the veil of the temple was rent asunder; when darkness and consternation was spread over the earth; and when the confusion of the old covenant was made light in the new, in the temple of the cross." [26/27] There are several other Masonic degrees in which the crucifixion is referred to, and particularly the Rose + and Prince of the Royal Secret.
The system of religion, or Lux, or Masonry, call it by what name you will, was practised by the first family after the unhappy fall of man; and God's acceptance of Abel's sacrifice proves that his Freemasonry was true, and that his faith in obtaining salvation through the promised Messiah, and his obedience resulting from it, were well pleasing in the sight of God, for "he obtained witness that he was righteous." [Heb. xi. 4.] This distinction tempted Cain to forfeit his obligation, and wrought upon the stormy passions of his heart till he murdered his brother, and fled into the land of Nod. Hence originated the degree called the Knight of the Black Mark. In his new residence he founded a colony, built a fortified city, and laid the basis of that idolatry which was subsequently embodied in the spurious Freemasonry, and soon overspread and contaminated the world. Amidst the accumulating oblivion of religious knowledge, Enoch, a primitive Mason, held the faith of the promised Messiah. "By faith Enoch was translated, that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." [Ibid. xi. 5.] He clearly evinced his faith in Christ Jesus; and displayed a knowledge of his first coming by prophecying of his second. "Behold," says he, "the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all; and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." [Jude 14,15.]
These events, and many others of equal importance in the life of Enoch, have been embodied in a high degree, called the Knight of the Ninth Arch, in some systems, and the Royal Arch of Enoch, in others. Colonel Webb, in his Masonic Monitor, published under the sanction of the Grand Chapter of Rhode Island, and other Masonic authorities, has recorded the history and charges of this degree, and it will therefore be unnecessary to repeat them here.
Thus we may safely conjecture that the Freemasonry of Adam included a knowledge of the doctrine of human redemption, which was preserved and transmitted to his descendants, from whom the Messiah was to spring.
 The meaning attached to light and darkness in the system of Freemasonry, is not included amongst its ineffable secrets. The former does not imply a material or elementary substance, but is purely intellectual. It is explained by St. John the Evangelist, when he says, "the darkness is past and the true light shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness, even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him; but he that hateth his brother is in darkness." [1 John ii. 8-11.] In the foreign degrees of Teutonic Masonry, the explanation is conveyed cabalistically. One of their lectures says, "there are two sorts of fire and two sorts of light, viz. according to the dark impression, a cold fire and a false light, originating in the stern might and imagination, desiring a self-will dominion. The second fire is a hot fire and true light, originating in the Eternal, in the substance of divine geniture; and that light shineth in the darkness, and illustrateth it; standing in a perceptible life. The life of man is in it, and he is the light of the world."
This intellectual light, which is one of the characteristics of ancient Masonry, is frequently identified with Christ; and, to adapt the metaphor to every capacity, he condescended, even in his human form, to clothe himself with light as with a garment at his transfiguration, [Mat. xvii. 2.] and in other places is represented as the source and essence of light. [Ps. lxxxiv. 11; Mal. iv. 2; Acts xxvi. 13; Rev. i. 14, xxi. 23, xxii.5.] Hence Freemasonry, as dedicated to this ancient Being, in his character of the Great Architect of the Universe, has been denominated a system of Light, invested with the sun, moon, and stars, as symbols of his handy work, and referring to his universal appearance as a flame of fire, whenever he was pleased to communicate his will to man by a personal revelation.
The patriarch Noah taught this pure system to his descendants, as including the worship of God through a divine Mediator, verified and made perfect by the practice of moral duty. And hence the primitive Masons were called Noachidae, and professed to entertain a high respect for the seven precepts of that patriarch. The circumstances attending the preservation of Noah and his family are preserved in a degree called "the Royal Ark Mariners," in some of the systems of which the deluge is said to have been produced by a Blazing star. There is another Masonic degree, which records a transaction [28/29] that took place at the same period, called "the Ark and Dove." It also forms a portion of a third, which is termed "the Grand Patriarch, or Prince of Libanus." And in the 60th degree of Fustier the subject is again renewed, by an explanation of the mystery of the three sons of Noah; of the three stories of the ark; of the three men that appeared to Abraham; of the seven pair of clean beasts; of the dove which was sent forth at the end of seven days; of the forty days' rain, &c. &c. The deluge is also referred to in the lectures of the first symbolical degree.
After the destruction of the world, God renewed his covenant with Noah, and confirmed it to Abraham and Moses, and it was fulfilled in Christ. The ceremonial law, which was abolished when the veil of the temple was rent in twain, and the holy of holies, with its ark, mercy seat and cherubim exposed to public view, formed no part of this compact, but "was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator;" [Gal. iii. 19.] and was typical of the divine plan to render the compact perfect. And the sublime degree of Knight of the Eagle, or Sovereign Prince of the Eagle and Pelican, as some term it, or Rose Croix de Heredon or flarodim, as it is named by others,--for the appellation is by no means uniform--offers a glorious description of that
portentous period when the veil of the temple was rent, the amp of day was obscured, the stars disappeared, and darkness and consternation covered the earth; for in the midst of this unnatural darkness the greatest calamities befel our noble Order.
As time moved on, from the deluge to the advent of Christ, the system of light progressed and acquired an accession of truths commensurate with the increasing intelligence of mankind; it taught that all who died before Christ came personally into the world, were justified by faith in the prospect of his coming to offer himself a sacrifice for the sins of men. This faith would include a firm belief in the veracity and immutability of God, and a full persuasion that he would perform the covenant into which he had entered for the security of human salvation. Hence Freemasonry became the sacred depository of numerous types of this remarkable fact,--the pillar of a cloud of fire, the Shekinah in the tabernacle and the temple, the blazing star, and many others. Indeed, if we look [29/30] curiously into the system of Freemasonry, even as it is practised at the present day, we shall find it to consist of a regular series of types of the Redeemer or his dispensation. Adam was a type of Christ; for "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." Abel was the same, and so was Noah; and the whole history of his salvation in the ark is typical of our purification by Christian baptism. Again, the sacrifice of Isaac was a figure of the death of Christ. All the Masonic worthies, whose names are so celebrated amongst us, were, in like manner, types of the Messiah. Joseph, Moses, and Aaron; Joshua, David, Solomon, and Zerubbabel. Even the Israelites, whose redemption from bondage forms an unalterable Landmark of Freemasonry, prefigured the same event. And what are Jacob's vision of the ladder, the burning bush, the manna which fell in the wilderness, &c &c, all illustrated in our disquisitions, but typical events which bear a direct reference to the establishment of our most holy religion.
It is certain that there is not, nor ever was, any name under heaven whereby salvation can be obtained but only the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is styled in Masonry the Tetragrammaton. Now the great truth having been communicated to the first man, and frequently repeated to the sages of his posterity, that in the fulness of time the Messiah should suffer and die for human redemption, and that his appearance should be heralded by a blazing star; a faith in that revelation must have been as efficacious before his incarnation as it is now; and so it was believed by all the holy men of old. Faith in a specific revelation of things to come is precisely the same as in a divine attestation of things past. St. Paul expressly declares the efficacy of this faith, for he says--and his definition has been transferred to the first degree of Symbolical Masonry--"Faith is the substance of things hoped for," as well as "the evidence of things not seen;" and it was therefore by this faith that our ancient Brethren were justified before the coming of Christ. [Heb. xi. 1.]
"If any one," says Eusebius, "beginning with Abraham and going upwards to the first man, should affirm, that all those men who have given such glorious testimonies of their holiness, were, in reality, though not by name, Christians, he shall not err far from the truth." [Eccl. Hist c. 1.] And why not Masons also? for they all practised the principles of Masonry, although they were ignorant of the name. We cannot admit that this [30/31] hackneyed argument, which is so often produced by our adversaries, has any weight or soundness in it. The name of Masonry, it is true, was unknown in those ages; and so was the name of Christians, till the year of our Lord 42. As well might it be said that the disciples of Christ were not Christians, because the name was unknown till after his crucifixion, or that there were no slaves in Greece before the Spartans gave them the name of Helots.
"A Christian," continues Eusebius, "signifies a man who, through the knowledge and doctrine of Christ, excelleth in modesty and righteousness, in patience of life and virtuous fortitude, and in profession of sincere piety towards God. In this the patriarchs were no less studious than we are." This definition will apply equally to the Free and Accepted Mason. He is one who puts his trust in God, as a firm foundation on which he fears no danger; he practises morality in the three theological and four cardinal virtues, producing brotherly love, relief, and truth; and feels himself under "the strongest obligations to pay that rationed homage to the deity, which at once constitutes our duty and our happiness; it leads the contemplative to view with reverence and admiration the glorious works of the creation, and inspires them with the most exalted ideas of the perfection of the divine Creator." [Preston's Illustrations, p. 8.] Eusebius concludes, that they of old, i. e. the Noachidse or Masons, "evidently knew the very Christ of God."
Let us see how this principle operated in the ages before us. Through faith in the promised Mediator, Abraham received the gospel preached to him by the Grand Architect of the Universe, under the appearance of a flame or bright star; and it was accounted to him for righteousness, because he believed God. [Gen. xxii. 18.] The blessing of Abraham, says St. Paul, came on the gentiles also through Jesus Christ. [Some of M. Peuvret's Cabalistic degrees were formed to explain this mysterious subject allegorically. Thus the lectures say, as I am informed, that "Abraham, i.e. Christ digged the fountain of Agar, and there preached the doctrine of truth. The covenant between Abraham and Abimelech is the covenant delivered by Christ to Abraham. Abimelech represented the soul; Phicol the outward nature of man, which is the third principle, or captain of the soul; and Abraham was Christ. Moses in the bullrushes was allegorized in another degree; his father and mother represented Adam and Eve, Pharaoh the severe justice of God," &c. &c. The application of these and many other postulata of a similar nature, referring to the history of the early patriarchs, form the subjects of his several lectures. Detached portions of these lectures are before me, but as I cannot subscribe to the cabalistic and fanciful interpretation of facts which they contain, I pass over them without further notice.] By the same faith [31/32] Isaac and Jacob received the promises, and worshipped God through the expected Mediator; the latter of whom was favoured with a remarkable vision of the Grand Architect of the Universe, which is embodied in Freemasonry, and predicted on his death-bed that "the sceptre should not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be." [Gen. xlix. 10.] Job believed in the existence of a Redeemer, who "should stand at the latter day upon the earth;" [Job. xix. 25.] and his calamities originated that sublime description of universality which has been applied to the extent of the Lodge. "It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? Deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth and broader than the sea.'' [Job xi. 8, 9.] He anticipated death with the greatest satisfaction as a refuge from his sorrows, and the avenue through which he would be admitted into the presence of his Redeemer.
"Moses chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king, for he endured as seeing him that is invisible." [Heb. xi. 20, 27.] This invisibility of the divine Architect forms the subject of more than one of the degrees of M. Fustier, and is thus illustrated,--"The great mystery is the hiddenness of the Deity, the substance of all substances; whence issue all mysteries, each representing that which was its immediate producer. The greatest wonder of eternity, the reflection of the wisdom. Everything exists, even all the forms of nature, by this reflection, as in a clear mirror, viz. light and darkness, love and hatred, anger and desire." [See the Landmarks of Masonry, vol. ii. p. 95.] When the children of Israel were delivered from their Egyptian bondage, a circumstance which rationally accounts for the peculiar situation of our Lodges, "they were all baptized unto Moses, in the cloud and in the sea, and drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ," who manifested himself to them in [32/33] fire. [1 Cor. x. 2, 4.] [32/33] And it was from these lucid manifestations that the Talmudical writers affirm that there are three lights in God--the ancient light, the pure light, and the purified light. The transactions in the wilderness are abundantly recorded in Freemasonry; the symbolical degrees are full of them; and in the system of the Ancien et accepte, three especial ones are founded on them, viz. the 23rd, 24th, and the 25th, called the Chief and Prince of the Tabernacle, and Prince of Mercy, as well as the degree of Scotch Master.
If we examine the temporary dispensation of Moses--even that portion of it which has been incorporated with Freemasonry, we shall find that it had but one object in view, which was to prefigure the true plan of human redemption by the establishment of a religion which, in God's good time, should embrace all the inhabitants of the earth. This design is plainly avowed in the Scriptures, and not obscurely intimated in our Masonic Lectures. The priestly orders, the sanctum sanctorum, the veil of the tabernacle, the scapegoat, Mount Sion, the temples of Solomon and Zerubbabel, &c. were nothing more than typical institutions which point out the true Way of salvation through Christ. And those who interpret our noble science in a more restricted sense, entertain a lower estimate of its merits, and a more confined idea of its usefulness, than it deserves. Our Transatlantic Brethren hold the opinion of its peculiar adaptation to Christianity. The Rev. Salem Town says, that "the principles of speculative Freemasonry have the same co-eternal and unshaken foundation, contain and inculcate in substance the same truth, and propose the same ultimate end, as the doctrines of Christianity taught by divine revelation." [Town, Spec. Mas. p. 13.] Similar testimonies to the same fact might be quoted from other American writers if necessary. But we will proceed with our argument. Balaam's remarkable history and prophecy are indubitable proofs, that even amongst the idolatrous nations the knowledge of the true God was not wholly lost in that age of the world; and the glimmering that remained of expected salvation through a promised Mediator, plainly indicates that it was a doctrine which had been fully understood by their forefathers. Balaam, as is recorded in one of the degrees of Masonry, plainly prophesied of his appearance as the star of Jacob, and that the time should be when the sceptre had departed from Judah. This prediction was spread throughout the heathen world, and preserved in all their spurious systems.
 Our Grand Master David, whose anxiety to build a temple for the service of the Most High, is so honourably recorded in Freemasonry, was possessed of the same faith, and worshipped God through the mediation of Jesus Christ. [Matt. xxii. 43. David calls the ark God's Glory, or his kallonh, his beautiful lustre; and speaks of having seen doxan, the glory, or radiant presence of God, in the sanctuary. The latter word is used by the LXX for the Shekinah.] The prophetical part of his writings is so clear and express, that their application to the Great Architect of the Universe has never been doubted or mistaken, Isaiah believed in the same divine Being, and prophesied of his birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Micah placed his hopes of salvation on the same basis; and foretold not only the birth of Christ, but also the very place of his nativity. Zachariah worshipped him as a "Branch," which is thought by the Rabbinical writers to be an allusion to a very ancient symbol, called the tree of the sephiroth, or divine splendours. Jeremiah rejoiced in the midst of his affliction in the prospect of Christ, the anointed of the Lord, taking away, by suffering, the sins of man. While Malachi, impressed with the fear of God, looked forward for redemption to the period when the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing on his wings. [Mai. iv. 2.] Simeon rejoiced to see him, and declared that he should die in peace, since he had lived to behold the fulfilment of prophecy, in the salvation prepared before the face of the people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Israel. [Luke ii. 30.]
These predictions were not the result of any reasoning process; for "prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;" [2 Pet i. 21.] which testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. [1 Pet. i. 11.] And this Holy Spirit, which thus communicated with Moses and the prophets, was no other than the Lord Jehovah, the Day spring, Blazing Star, or Grand Architect of the Universe, called in the Teutonic system of Masonry, the White stone, with the new name; [Rev. ii. 17.] the Stone of Fire; [Ezek. xxviii. 14.] the Stone with seven eyes; [Zech iii. 9.] and the Rock in the wilderness of Sinai. [Deut. xxxii. 4.; 1 Cor. x. 4.] Thus the intimate, though incomprehensible union of three persons in the Godhead, symbolized in the system of Freemasonry by the three steps of the winding [34/35] staircase leading to the middle chamber of King Solomon's temple, is clearly pointed out.
It is observable, says an eminent writer, that as their religion and hopes centered in the Messiah, their notices of him from the earliest times were so frequent, that every prophet who arose in Israel spake plainly of him. "Receive," says St. Peter, "the salvation of your souls, of which salvation (through Christ) the prophets have inquired and searched diligently." [1 Pet. i. 9, 10.] So that every age has had its distinguished Freemasons, by whatever name they may have been known. The passion and resurrection of Christ, through which alone salvation could be had, with the glory that should follow, were articles of the prophets' as well as of the apostles' creed. This doctrine is therefore inculcated in one of the higher degrees of Fremasonry; the lecture to which teaches that Christ, being the day-star of mercy, rose, at his birth, to conduct our feet in the paths of truth and peace; that by his life we are taught all virtues requisite for us to follow, he being the way, the truth, and the life; by his death, we learn that our debt of nature is fully paid, and the rigour of the law satisfied; by his resurrection, he rescued us from the dominion of sin, death, and hell; and by his ascension, we learn that glorious truth, that he has gone before us to prepare a place where his faithful servants will for ever dwell, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. And in the United States of America these sublime verses are chanted while conferring the degree--
The rising God forsakes the tomb,
Up to his Father's courts he flies;
Cherubic legions guard him home,
And shout his welcome to the skies.
Break off your tears, ye saints, and tell
How high our great deliverer reigns;
Sing how he spoil'd the hosts of hell,
And led the monster death in chains.
Say, "live for ever, wondrous king,
Born to redeem, and strong to save!"
Then ask the tyrant, "where's thy sting?
And where's thy victory, boasting grave?"
From the above facts we conclude, that if the grace of God, which bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men; [Tit. ii. 11.] and if the patriarchs and true ancient Masons were saved by it, it follows, in the correct language of Dr. Ellis, [Inquiry, whence cometh wisdom and understanding to man.] "that there is [35/36] little difference between their system of faith and ours. For when all is said--to believe in a true God and his Messiah; a remission of sins through him, on sincere repentance and obedience; a resurrection from the dead; the soul's survivance, and a future state of rewards and punishments, ever were and will be the sum of all religion;" as they are undoubtedly the sum and substance of all Freemasonry, even confining it to the symbolical degrees; but they are much more abundantly enunciated in the higher orders, which contain a, perfect outline of the great plan of salvation through the sufferings and death of Christ. If then Freemasonry be the depository of such sublime mysteries, it may be safely pronounced superior to any society of merely human foundation, and entitled to the earnest support of every sincere and pious Christian.
I conclude with a few apposite remarks from an American publication. [Brown's Narrative, p. 237.] "Freemasonry, though constantly assailed, has hitherto remained unhurt by ignorance, superstition, or tyranny; and by the aid of her enlightened philanthropy and undefiled religion, has soared aloft, dipped her broad pencil in the clouds of heaven, and spread the cement of brotherly affection through earth's remotest realms. She has shed her rays in every portion of the habitable globe, and extended her salutary influence to the distressed in every clime. The widow's thanks, and the orphan's tears, are her grateful enconiums. Courtesy and friendship hail her with gratitude. She has promoted the kindly intercourse of nations--she has softened the asperities and diminished the miseries of war--she has smiled upon science and literature; and, in consort with other institutions, she has aided Christianity in introducing this distinguished era of light and salvation."