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the nature of the circumstances will admit; for in the limited portion of time which can be assigned to their delivery, it would require almost the whole twelve months from festival to festival to go deliberately through the entire lectures of the three degrees. For this reason many Lodges confine themselves to the first three or four sections of the E. A. P. Lecture, and seldom touch on the other two, except at passings and raisings ; some are content with a simple explanation of the Floor Cloth or Tracing Board ; while others seldom venture beyond the Qualification Questions !

Now it will be readily admitted that Freemasonry, as it ought to be, is invested with higher views and more interesting and useful objects of contemplation. By the principle of association, and a mutual interchange of sentiments, it inculcates brotherly love among all mankind; it tends to soften the harshness of an exclusive or sectarian feeling towards those who differ from us in our views of religion and politics, although it allows of no discussions in either the one or the other; it suppresses the attachment to class, which is the bane of all other institutions; and by the purity of its sentiments, it harmonizes the mind, ameliorates the disposition, and produces that genuine feeling of benevolence and Christian charity which “suffereth long and is kind; which envieth not, vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, endureth all things."

The above principles are almost exclusively Christian, and afford ample evidence that a corroboration of the moral precepts of Freemasonry will be found in the Gospel of Christ. A talented Brother, with whom I have had an extensive correspondence on the subject of masonry, writes thus :—“Your hypothesis that the Lectures of Masonry, as now authorized by the Grand Lodge, are intended to enforce the great truth of Christianity, is undoubtedly correct. And as they were framed by a clergyman of the Church of England, less was scarcely to be expected. But I contend that all allusions to Christianity are interpolations in the system. In a mere Blue Lodge, which I maintain to have been originally restricted to working masons, with very few exceptions, nothing more was required than a moral explanation of the Bible, Square, Compasses, Level, and Plumb. In Scotland the three first degrees were considered to be confined almost entirely to science, and the correct definition of masonry is—A science founded on Geometry, Mathematics, and Astronomy. And accordingly the top of the Master's Rod of Office is surmounted by a triangular spear head, on which are the letters G. M. A. The Scotch masons consider the moral explanation, if obvious and simple, to be proper, but refer all deep and mystical topics to a superior degree. In short they allow of no allusion to the New Testament, nor to anything in the Old Testament after the book of Kings and Chronicles, referring to the Temple of Solomon; and there must be no anachronism. All after the building of the Temple, are topics that cannot be touched on until we arrive at the Royal Order of H. R. D. M.; and therefore it is not en règle to refer to the chief corner stone till the

6. Cor. xiii. 4-7.

appearance

of a Christian degree. Faith, Hope, and Charity have no business in the lectures of the Blue degrees; unless, indeed, we are to abandon our claims to antiquity, and admit that Freemasonry is a fabrication, invented at some recent period subsequently to the crucifixion of Christ.”

It will be observed, however, that Christian allusions abound in the lectures of masonry long before Dr. Hemming remodelled them in 1814. They exist copiously in the very earliest masonic manuscripts known; which Mr. Halliwell pronounces to be a production of the 14th century; while others consider them to be coeval with the time of Athelstone. Christian references are also found in the first lectures authorized by our own Grand Lodge in 1720. In fact Dr. Hemming, so far from introducing into his formula any new allusions to our most holy faith, actually expunged some of those which were in use before his time.

The first lectures after the revival, when it was arranged that “the privileges of masonry should no longer be restrieted to operative masons, but extend to men of various professions, provided they were regularly approved and initiated into the Order,” contained many Christian references, which were gradually increased in every successive arrangement, until Hutchinson, about the year 1784, interpreted the third degree as being exclusively Christian. Now although I cannot subscribe to this view of the case, it shows at least the feelings of our brethren of the last century on this particular subject; and it is my deliberate opinion, that if even the group of symbols which form the subject of this volume, was struck out of Freemasonry, and it forms chiefly an illustration of the first degree, the system would be so thoroughly impoverished that it would fail to interest the mind even of an indifferent enquirer; while the more talented candidate would take leave of us on the threshold, and consider the charges of frivolity and uselessness, which have be enpreferred by our enemies, to be amply confirmed.

That this can never happen in masonry as it is at present constructed, will be shown by the evidence of my friend Bro. Tucker, P. G. M. for Dorset; who, said, in his speech at Weymouth, 1846 : The whole of our proceedings stamp the institution of Freemasonry with à character, divine in its origin, holy in its purposes, and conducive to the best interests of man. We will not enquire how far it may be supposed to be allied in form to the ancient Druid in his rites and mysteries, or in the erection of his temple, nor to the refined philosophy of the early Greek, or the dark and mysterious knowledge of the Egyptian hieroglyphic; neither will we consider how far we are warranted in applying the use of familiar masonic terms to the ancient patriarchs to whom came the divine message tu man in all the power and terrific grandeur of heavenly majesty, as well as in the sweetness of divine love, in the still small voice of mercy; but we will take it on its own merits, as founded on the Word of God, as the guide of our days, and setting before us the hope of eternal life;—an institution equally apart from bigotry and fanaticism, teaching us to walk in the good old paths of our forefathers; to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God, being also heir with them of the same promises, and endeavouring to draw all mankind of every clime, colour, and religion, within the circle, to that point from which a master mason cannot materially err.'

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Of the Bank of England Lodge, No. 329, London.

MY DEAR BRETHREN,

I have much pleasure in dedicating to you the following observations on the Lectures on Masonry, as they were arranged at the Union in 1813, and directed to be used in all the private lodges under the Grand Lodge of England ; and am right glad that a public opportunity has occurred of acknowledging the kindness which you have extended to me on several occasions, and of expressing the gratification I have ever felt in being associated, as an honorary member of the lodge, with so many eminent men, whose zeal and services in the cause of masonry have justly excited the approbation of the fraternity, and placed them high in the estimation of the wise and good.

It will be needless to repeat my opinion of the Order which we venerate and profess. It is well known that I have bestowed much attention on the subject both as a theoretical and a practical science, and the results of my enquiries are before you.

The benefits arising from a competent knowledge of the poetry and philosophy of Freemasonry are open to every studious person, and may be easily attained by a proper exercise of the mental faculties. It is by care and industry that every earthly good is secured. The Freemason, therefore, who expects to reap any intellectual advantages from the Order, must study its principles with diligence and assiduity, as you have done, else he will fail in the attempt.

A true knowledge of the science will not be acquired by indolence and apathy, nor by a mere acquisition of its signs, and tokens, and technicalities. These are but the keys to our treasure. The cabinet must be opened, and its contents examined carefully, and with an ardent desire to profit by the materials which are deposited there.

If a brother be desirous of becoming useful to the science of Freemasonry, he will not be content with a mere superficial knowledge of the externals, but will examine its esoteric secrets with the feelings of an enthusiast; and by bringing forth its latent virtues into view, will himself reap a full share of the blessings which it is so well calculated to confer on society at large.

It is by the practice of such a judicious course of study that the brethren of 329 have distinguished themselves; and the acknowledgment of such a belief will not be thought presumptuous or inappropriate, when avowed by one who has the greatest pleasure in thus subscribing himself,

My dear Brethren,
Your obliged and faithful

Servant and Brother,
GEO. OLIVER, D.D.,
Hon. Member of the Lodge.

SCOPWICK VICARAGE,

August 1, 1849.

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