Masonic Articles and Essays
An Ennobling Science
The Masonic Craftsman Magazine
Freemasonry, necessarily shrouded in mystery and secrecy, has always drawn the ire of those who do not understand it. What is Freemasonry and what does it mean to be a Mason?
Freemasonry has its bitter enemies and its doubting despisers. There are some who have formed the opinion that it was created as a substitute for religion, whereas it is only the handmaid to her fair graces. Others presume the labours of Masons are trifling, absurd mysteries, or profane mummeries; whereas there is no subject existing within the range and grasp of the human intellect into which the science of Freemasonry does not enter in the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge. Some ridicule the secrets of Freemasons, declaring them to be either hurtful to society or wrong in themselves, whereas those secrets are bonds of their mutual fidelity by which they pledge themselves to wisdom and follow virtue.Time was when the members of the Craft were denounced as dangerous, and every man of eminence known to be a Mason was called upon to renounce his connection with other social activities. But in the face of all opposition the fraternity remained calm, and the sun of Masonry has dispersed the clouds which darkened her sky so long.
Without territorial possessions, without any other coercing power titan that of morality and virtue, Freemasonry has survived the wreck of mighty empires, and resisted the destroying hand of time. No other institution can be compared with it. Every other society sinks into insignificance when placed by the side of Masonry. Christianity alone excepted. Like Gray's virtuous peasant, Freemasonry keeps the noiseless tenor of its way, and rejoices in the unsullied happiness of doing good. When did Freemasonry first begin to exist, and why has the institution been thus preserved? Masonswork began with the creation. To understand the measures of weight and light and sound - to unravel, seize upon, and comprehend those unchanging laws by which the earth, the sun, the moon, the planets, are sustained in space to follow up the changes of seasons, and in every step of the investigation, as the intellect climbed from lofty truths to truths still more lofty, to pause in profound admiration, to feel the Creator close to the creature, and to adore - this was the first aim of Masonry, this its task, ever fresh, never ended - a science teeming with new results and adding incentive after incentive to praise and glorify T.G.A.O.T.U.
Freemasonry has been preserved because it instructs its members to worship their Almighty Maker, to honour and obey the sovereign of the country, to be peaceful in their stations, diligent in their callings, honest in their dealings, respectful towards their superiors, gentle and condescending to their inferiors, merciful towards their enemies, kind and obliging in all the duties of their common life. Such is the institution which has been preserved to the world, unlimited in its numbers, and scattered over every land and kingdom. The work of the fraternity today is to be true to the original character of the order; to continue to follow the God of nature through all the wonderful variety of His works: and to keep the silence and observe the sacred rules imposed upon the Craft. It might be said by some scoffer if Masonry be such a pure and ennobling science, should not all Masons be wise, and good, and temperate, and self-denying, full of piety and good words? The answer is that the fitness of any system is not to be tried and condemned because of unworthiness in some. If any man has been led by an impatient curiosity, without higher motive, to place unhallowed feet on the tessellated pavement, if any has turned the hallowed purposes of Masonry into mere convivial meetings, if any has been content with merely, acquiring superficial acquaintance with the Craft, let not the system itself be charged with their perversions, their sins, or their folly: an unworthy brother would perhaps have been a worse man if he had not been a Mason.
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