« ForrigeFortsæt »
we are taught to believe in the blessings of redemption; and with his faith thus strengthened, the Christian Mason is enabled to ascend the first step on the road to heaven.
This faith naturally creates a Hope that we may be partakers of the promises contained in the volume which is thus recommended to our notice; and, accordingly, Hope is represented by a female figure resting on an anchor, to symbolize the anchor of the soul" on which our hopes are founded, and bearing the insignia of
power. Hence Hope appropriately occupies the centre of the space between earth and heaven; to intimate that if the faithful brother perseveres in the uniform practice of his moral and social duties, not only to God, but also to his neighbour and himself, he will finally overcome all difficulties. Hope will unlock the second gate, and admit the zealous Mason into the Naos of the Temple, where he is allowed to participate in divine things; and then unveils the glories of the Church triumphant. With such an object in view, he manfully labours to ascend the steep acclivity for its attainment. Hope is to the soul what an anchor is to a ship: a sure and steadfast stay amidst the storms of temptation; which when firmly placed upon the rock of Ages in the Holy of Holies, within the veil, will bear him safely through all his difficulties.
In the Heathen mythology, the figure of Hope is generally represented upon medals, a great number of which are furnished by Montfaucon, as a female crowned with flowers, and resting her right hand upon a pillar, with a bee-hive before her, out of which rise flowers and ears of corn. She sometimes holds, in her left hand, poppies; sometimes lilies, and at others, ears of corn. And most of these symbols have, at one time or another, been introduced into Freemasonry.
When Faith shall be rescinded by beholding its glorious object face to face, and Hope shall be superseded by certainty, Charity will still subsist as the virtue of angels and just men made perfect. Its personation is therefore rightly placed at the summit of the Ladder, where we represent it as a female seated, with an infant on her lap, and two children of unequal ages at her knees. She is also invested with the symbolical Key, and has a circular Jewel suspended from a collar round her neck, on which is inscribed a Heart. At this point the Ladder forms a junction with the highest heavens, and penetrates the regions which lead to the throne of God.
The practice of Charity displays itself in relieving the wants, and comforting the distresses of our brethren in the flesh; and this constitutes the chief boast and glory of our divine science. But this is the least and most inferior part of Charity, and if it consisted in nothing more, it would be difficult to determine why St. Paul should have given it such a decided preference over the other two, by saying, “ Now abideth Faith, Hope, and Charity, these three, but the greatest of these is Charity."23 Bishop Horne says, “ Love cannot work ill to his neighbour; it can never injure him in his person, his bed, his property, or his character; it cannot so much as conceive a desire for any thing that belongs to him. But it resteth not content with negatives. It not only worketh him no ill, but it must work for him all the good in its power. Is he hungry? It will give him meat. Is he thirsty? It will give him drink. Is he naked? It will clothe him. Is he sick? It will visit him. Is he sorrowful? It will comfort him. Is he in prison? It will go to him, and, if possible, bring him out. Upon this ground, wars must for ever cease among nations, dissentions of every kind among smaller societies, and the individuals that compose them. All must be peace, because all would be love. And thus would every end of the incarnation be accomplished; good will to men, peace on earth, and to God on high, glory to both."
This divine virtue consists in the love of God and man, which is the only perfect and durable quality we can possess. Prophecies shall fail, tongues shall cease, knowfedge shall vanish away; even Faith will become useless when we see God as he is; and Hope will be swallowed up in certainty; but Charity will be the employment of just men for everlasting ages. “This benevolent disposition is made the great characteristic of a Christian, the test of obedience, and the mark by which he is to be distinguished. This love for each other includes the qualities of humility, patience, meekness, and beneficence; without which we must live in perpetual discord; and it is so sublime, so rational, and so beneficial, so wisely calculated to correct the depravity, diminish the wickedness, and abate the miseries of human nature, that did we universally practise it, we should soon be relieved from all the inquietudes arising from our unruly passions, as well as from all the injuries to which we are exposed from the indulgence of the same passions in others.''24
23 1 Cor. xiii., 13.
Thus the exercise of Faith and Hope having terminated in Charity, the Mason who is possessed of this divine quality, in its utmost perfection, may justly be deemed to have attained the summit of his profession; figuratively speaking, an ethereal mansion veiled from mortal eye by the starry firmament; and emblematically depicted in a Mason's lodge by stars, which have an allusion to as many regularly made Masons; without which number no lodge is perfect, nor can any candidate be legally initiated therein.
On the whole, to use the language of a writer of the last century, the Ladder was designed for a type and emblem of the covenant of grace, which was in force from the time of man's apostacy, and began to be put in execution at the incarnation of our Saviour Christ, that only Mediator, who opened an intercourse between earth and heaven. To this mystical meaning of the Ladder, the Redeemer is supposed to allude when he says, “hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”
24 Soame Jenyns. View of the Internal Evidences of Christianity.
25 John i., 51.
BRO. THE EARL OF ABOYNE,
P. G. M.
J. W. & SEC.
Of the St. Peter's Lodge, Peterborough.
MY DEAR BRETHREN,
Nothing can be more natural than for a Mason to feel a predilection in favour of the Lodge where he first saw light streaming from the east, to convey a new impetus to his understanding, and to invigorate his reason with the bright rays of Truth, as the beams of the rising sun gild objects in the west with a portion of their gorgeous splendour.
My Alma Mater is the St. Peter's Lodge. There I first imbibed those elements of masonic knowledge which formed the ground-work of all my subsequent studies; and I shall never forget the pleasurable sensations with which I listened to the first instructions I received from Bro. Stevens, who was then the Worshipful Master. In the same lodge my masonic regeneration was completed, for there I received all the three degrees. You will not, therefore, wonder that I entertain lively recollections of a community where I became acquainted with a system which has been a source of no ordinary pleasure and satisfaction, amidst the variegated scenes of a long and eventful life.
It was said of the Egyptian Isis, as I had the pleasure of remarking on a personal visit to the lodge in 1843, and I repeat it here to show that no change has taken place in my filial affection and gratitude to the St. Peter's Lodge ;-it was said of the Egyptian Isis, who was the mother of the Spurious Freemasonry, that she was all that was, and is, and shall be ; and that no mortal was able to remove the veil that covered her. My masonic Mother has acted towards me a kinder and more maternal part. She removed the veil of darkness and ignorance which blinded my eyes and clouded my understanding; displaying to my delighted view all the charms of her philosophy, her morality, her science; a new world of splendour and surpassing beauty, where Faith, Hope, and Charity, form a gradual ascent to the Grand Lodge above; enlightening the studies of geometrical science by the practice of Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice; and cheering the road to heaven by the charms of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.
I am grateful to the Lodge of St. Peter for having conferred on me the title of a Master Mason; a title which, like our glorious badge of innocence, I consider to be more ancient, and more honourable, than any other order under the sun; and I trust I have never disgraced the confidence which was then reposed in me. I have ever considered Freemasonry as the best and kindest gift of heaven to man; subordinate only to our most holy religion. I consider it to be an institution where men of all opinions, and all shades of opinion in religion and politics, may meet as on neutral ground, and exchange the right hand of fellowship; may pursue their mental researches into the region of science and morality, without fearing any collision from hostile opinions to sever the links of harmony and brotherly love by which their hearts are cemented and knit together.
The doctrines which arise out of a consideration of the mysterious Ladder of Freemasonry, are of a character so