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FREE MASON'S MONITOR.
ORIGIN OF MASONRY.
To proclaim and encourage virtue, in whatever form it may appears, is truly laudable, and will always meet with the approbation of the good in this, and every other country. Such has been the endeavour of Free Masonry from the earliest period to the present day.
When the wild savage leaped from his den, in all the horrors of barbarian ferocity, and men knew no rights but those of the strongest, Free Masonry, shackled, but not destroyed, exerted itself in filial tenderness, paternal regard, an adoration of the deity, and gratitude for benevolent actions.
In the dark times of primeval history, when mad ambition rashly overrun the bounds of property, trod uncontrolled the barren wilds of savage freedom, it was then that the originals of our present order framed the rude but glorious superstructure of the moral world : and we plainly perceive that Masonry has in all ages been instrumental in ameliorating the condition of the human race.
The disciples of Religion and Reason, have in all ages gone hand in hand : and we see the moral and divine precepts of the Scriptures have, from time immemorial, been introduced under the symbolic expressions of masonic art.
Free Masonry (or Virtue, its true name) ventured to correct the ferocious manners of men, to tame their savage cruelty, convoke their synod, frame their laws, and, with a sort of magic power, convert the lawless robber into the peaceful citizen: it was the order of Philanthropy, or, to speak in more explicit language, of Free Masonry.
The structures of humanity were often erased by the inroads of barbarian fury, mutilated by the ignorants in ancient times often prostituted to the service of an ecclesiastic council ; where debate, rancour, and animosity, with daring projects were too often seen through the gilded veil of clerical dignity. The religious, it is well known, engrossed in the early ages of Christianity the whole stock of general knowledge, together with Christian learning; and whatever mankind might be possessed of, flowed through the channels of intolerant zeal and religious prejudice. The ignorance of some of the ancient transcribers has been already very judiciously detected in a former masonic treatise,* and I fear they have been less merciful, respecting the cardinal expression Philanthropy, erasing the first four letters, and substituting Mis, exposed to the world that horrid collection of letters Misanthropy.
From this mistake alone religious persecution raged, carnage strewed the plains with the mangled bodies of our noble ancestors, laid waste the ripening fields of golden harvest, and devastation raged, until the masonic spirit enlightened the reason.
From that period the clouds of darkness began to disappear. Virtue travelled westerly, and meeting with patrons, has now fixed her seat with imperial greatness in the Grand and Subordinate Lodges of the United States of America.
It is a public misfortune, that the purity of manners of
* See annotations of Mr. Locke, under the name of Peter Gower, in Preston's Illustrations of Masonry, page 136.
a society, which exceeds every other, should not be more generally known among all ranks. The people have too long been ignorant of our masonic principles. Virtue, when hunted from her abode on the continent of Europe, seems to have formed her only phalanx in this Society, to wipe the tear from the eye of distress, to cheer the heart of the unfortunate, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and prevent, by anticipation, the wants of the unfortunate, has always been the practice of masons.
We may equal, but cannot surpass such actions: it is not here they can be excelled ; and it is our fervent wish that people may no longer be ignorant of the true principles of our institution. Such a confession, indeed, reflects on themselves as inen: nor should they perplex the mind in the minute investigation of the secret signs, when they reflect that the base of this order is Charity, the figurative and typical emblems are illustrations of a nobler subject. Buildings, however strong or noble, will decay; but Virtue, immortal Virtue! takes its flight from these to the celestial abodes, and is at last received into the bosom of its God.
Far different from the designs of many meetings of the day, whose features are excess, the Free Masons are a standing exception, they revel in Charity and riot in nobleness of heart.
Free Masons are a public benefit to the world, uniting in the strongest ties people of all countries, and all religious creeds; their language is as general as that of the eyes, and in all parts of the globe it is understood. By communicative signs it has become peculiarly valuable, and Free Masons possess, what the learned have sought in vain, an invariable cypher for universal communication; theirs is a sort of personal short hand.
We now come to the operative part, called Masonry, which is distinct from the social aim of the institution, although the original cause of it.
This consists in rearing stately fabrics to the honour of God, the glory of our country, and the welfare of the public: and as we in that must observe the strictest order and regularity in the course of the work, so we must in the other act upon the square, and frame our behaviour to the good of society, the honour of our order, and the credit of every individual ; as the more a building is ornamented with ingenious devices, the more it redounds to the honour of the workman, so here, the more accomplishments men possess, the higher they will rise in the estimation of their brethren. Among them every art and science is alternately treated; it forms within itself a living encyclopædia, where every one adorns his subject with the most instructive lessons. It is to be hoped that the Masonic will in time thoroughly agree with the social part. We already behold the living graves of society (convents) in a great degree abolished; and may they ever continue so! I am sure, no Free Mason wishes the craft to erect another, under the mask of religious retirement, for ever to exclude a human being from the social intercourse of civilized life. In recounting the many stately edifices raised by architectural skill, we admire, we stand astonished at the art, but when reflection weighs in the scales of reason the various ends for which they were founded, we admire the work, but detest the purposes of it. The temples, which locked up the vestal virgins, have now few votaries, and we indulge the pleasing hope that in future ages there will be no such an order as the inquisition ever re-established.
These sentiments, we presume, are not hostile to Free Masons, who glow with the love as well as the peace of mankind. Their influence by the aid of an honourable brother,* has already wrested the fetters from the ancles of the galled African, after the toils of a tedious but weak opposition. We feel the most glowing pleasure at thus addressing these sentiments to our brethren, as we daily feel the truth of the observation : “ That in every nation a Mason may find a friend, in every climate he may find a home.”
* Wilberforce, M. P.
It is proper here to premise, that Masonry, in its ancient history, is used in a sense equivalent to the liberal sciences, but particularly geometry; upon this assumption the early Masonic history dates the commencement of the Masonic institution with the beginning of time, and begins its history with the work of creation.
All things necessary for man's felicity were perfected by the Grand Architect of the universe according to geometry. *
That Adam, our great progenitor, was ignorant of the principles of geometry can hardly be supposed, for after his expulsion from the garden of Eden, he built an habitation for himself and family, and no doubt instructed his descendants in that noble science, and its application to whatsoever crafts were convenient for those early times.
Cain with his family and adherents being pre-instructed in the principles of geometry and architecture, built a strong city and called it, Dedicate or Consecrate, after the name of his eldest son Enoch, whose race following his example improved themselves, not only in geometry and masonry, but made discoveries of several other useful arts.
The descendants of Seth came nothing behind those of Cain, in the cultivation of geometry and masonry. This patriarch greatly profited in those noble sciences, under the tuition of Adam, with whom he lived till the year of the world 930, and succeeded him in the direction of the craft; who, as a monument of his superior abilities, and love to posterity, foreseeing the universal desolation which would happen by fire or water, and deprive mankind of those arts
* See John Entick's work, published under the sanction of the Grand Lodge in London, England, in 1756, and Anderson, 1723.