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Socialists, Chartists, and Teetotallers, who use every species of agency, both private and public, to disseminate their distorted opinions; and will even renounce their oldest and best friends, if they withhold their assent from the doctrines which they propound.
It follows, therefore, that serious injury is inflicted on individuals, and on society at large, by the agency of any one who professes “ freedom of thought” in matters of religion, while he practically denies the being of a God; and entertains the delusive belief, that, even if his opinions on this subject should be erroneous, no one suffers by them but himself. Such an argument, if it were founded in truth, would unhinge the whole frame of civil society; religion would become useless-masonic lodges unnecessary and the Pedestal, with its sacred furniture, little better than a mockery of TGAO TU.
This, however, is the light in which the enemy of mankind would wish to place morality and religion, for the purpose of obstructing our progress through the consecutive gates of the three principal avenues of the Ladder leading from this world to the next. He influences his agents, the Atheist, the Socialist, and their compeers, to persuade mankind that pleasure is the chief purpose for which man was created; and for that purpose offers them all the kingdoms of the world as the reward of their allegiance. But Freemasonry will arm the worthy brother with the symbolical panoply of the Order; the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit; that he may triumphantly resist the insidious persecutions of those who would lead him from the direct line of truth, to stray beyond the circle of duty. And if he comes out of the battle as a conqueror, he will realize the promise of the Most High, "I will be his God, and he shall be my son." 11
The precise meaning of this promise involves the subject of the present Lecture. It refers to an asylum provided for the good and worthy Mason in the paradise of God; where he will be clothed in white robes; with the Sacred Name of Jehovah inscribed on his forehead. This region of Light is so resplendent with the glory of God and the Lamb, that it has no need of the Sun or of the Moon to enlighten it; and none can enter there but they whose names are duly registered in the Book of Life.12 This happy region is concealed from mortal view, by the cloudy canopy at the summit of the masonic Ladder; being surrounded with clouds and thick darkness to us who are in the flesh, but clear and refulgent to the spirits of just men made perfect; but its glories are accessible to the anxious Mason, by an assiduous endeavour to perform his moral and religious duties.
11 Rey. xxi., 7.
How bright these glorious spirits shine ;
Whence all their white array ?
Of everlasting day?
Who came from realms of light,
Those robes which shine so bright.
This reward ought to be an object of some importance to every good and worthy brother, who is desirous of making his profession of Masonry subservient to his best and dearest interests. And this is really the ultimate design of the Order, to those who consider it as a spiritual institution calculated to ennoble the moral character of man. For nothing can tend more effectually to induce holiness here, than the prospect of happiness hereafter. Whoever is desirous of sitting on a throne in heaven, must, as the old Prestonian Charges express it, “study the Sacred Law of God as the unerring standard of truth and justice, and regulate his life and actions by its divine precepts in a strict discharge of the several duties of his station.” If he have grace to do this, T GAOTU will be his friend in the present world, and will give him an inheritance in the holy and happy mansions which lie beyond the cloudy canopy, when his allotted period of probation shall be ended.
Will it, then, be considered wise to risk the loss of this happiness for the sake of any worldly good, which, how pleasing soever it may appear, will suddenly vanish away, like the evanescent shadows of the morning sun? Whoever thinks otherwise, must have disregarded equally his masonic obligations, his lessons of initiation, and the
12 Rev. vii., 9, xiv. 1, xxi., 23, 27.
moral investigations which attend his improved progress in the art, by renouncing all thoughts of Him, in whom he professed to put his trust, and of his moral government of the world. For no Mason could be induced, by any consideration, to neglect the duties, so solemnly undertaken in the name and presence of the Most High, if he really believed Him to possess the power of depriving him in a single instant of life and hope, and excluding him from that blessed abode which is hidden from mortal view in the glorious Symbol before us.
Let every zealous brother, who is desirous of ornamenting the Craft which he professes, seriously consider that every round of the Ladder which he surmounts, will bring him nearer to its summit; that the Hand of God beckons him on, and encourages him to proceed; and that the hosts of heaven rejoice at his successful progress. And if he regularly performs his devotions in public and private, and does his duty in the station of life to which he has been called, he will gradually advance through the open Gates of Faith, Hope, and Charity, till he occupy a throne in heaven, and be rewarded with glory and immortality.
Such is the happiness which is attainable by a steady course in the ascending path of the Theological Virtues. Whoever wishes to share in it, will glorify the Sacred Name of God; will extol Him that rideth upon the heavens by his Name Jay, and rejoice before him. And in addition to this, they will be kind and charitable to each other, and practise all the virtues recommended in the system of Freemasonry. It is, indeed, true, and unfortunately so, that there are many amongst us, who do not possess the power of doing much good to their necessitous fellow creatures; but this is of very little consequence, provided they do all the good they can. It is not the extent of the action, but the feeling of the heart which shows the true Mason. Be merciful after thy power, says the First Great Light; “if thou hast much, give plenteously; if thou hast little, do thy diligence gladly to give of that little; for so thou gatherest to thyself a good reward against the day of necessity."'14
Ps. lxviii., 4.
14 Tobit iv., 8.
And so it is of all the duties which a Mason is bound by his 0. B. to perform. He is not expected to be charitable beyond his ability; but in all cases, whatever he does, he ought to do it gladly and cheerfully; for a kind and sympathetic word is often of more value than the most profuse pecuniary assistance, if it be rendered with a grudging mind.
But if any brother have reason to believe, that he has not performed his sacred obligations to God and man so strictly as he ought to have done, let him lose no time in endeavouring to repair the evil. If he pray with sincerity and zeal, TGAO TU will vouchsafe his aid in the work of reformation, that he may become a true and faithful brother amongst us; and will endue him with a competency of divine wisdom, that by the aid of the mysteries of Masonry, he may in future display the beauties of godliness; and the answer to his petition will be, “He that keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron. And I will give him the MORNING STAR."15
15 Rev. ii., 26, 27, 28.
SEC. S. D.
STEWARDS. Of the Rising Star of Western India.
MY DEAR BRETHREN,
It is quite refreshing to a lover of Masonry like myself, to find that its holy principles are flourishing so extensively in the Eastern part of the globe, where they first originated, and enlightening in an equal ratio both Europeans and natives with the brilliancy of its beams. The Rising Star will, as every good Mason anticipates, be a blessing to ages yet unborn; and, like its type, in the centre of the lodge, will herald a state of universal peace, embodied by your Provincial Grand Master in his new Order of the Olive Branch, which may cement the native and European population into one happy people, as
* The Author has not received the names of the officers of the Lodge, and therefore has no alternative but to leave blanks that they may be filled up with the pen.