« AnteriorContinuar »
and sciences at that time existing, raised two pillars of stone, and inscribed thereon an abridgment of the arts and sciences, particularly geometry or masonry, in order to withstand the overthrow of the flood, which Josephus the historian informs us was to be seen in his time, in the land of Siriad, by the name of Seth's or Enoch's pillars.
Methuselah, with his son Lamech and grandson Noah, retired from the corrupt world, and in their own peculiar family preserved the religion of the promised Messiah pure, and also the art of masonry till the flood.
The ark was built on principles of geometry. Noah and his family, besides a number of all created beings, were saved from the general deluge; he and his four sons are, therefore, the progenitors of the present race of mankind.
From the Sacred Writings we learn, that Noah and his sons, being all of one language and speech, it came to pass as they journeyed from the East to the West, they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and dwelt there together as Noachidae or sons of Noah, the first name of Masons, and under which name many brethren are known in France up to the present day.
In following that great luminary of the craft, the Holy Bible, we find the tower of Babel is built, and before its entire completion, by the will of the Divine Architect, the language of the builders is confounded and the people dispersed, all which shows that, after the dispersion, they still carried with them the knowledge of masonry, and improved it to a great degree of perfection.
Nimrod or Belus, the son of Cush, the eldest son of Ham, and founder of the Babylonian Monarchy, kept possession of the plain, and founded the first great empire at Babylon.
From Shinar the science and the art were carried to distant parts of the world, notwithstanding the confusion of the dialects, and which is presumed to having given rise to the universal practice of conversing without speaking, and communications between Masons by tokens or signs.
Mizraim, the second son of Ham, carried to, and preserved in Egypt the original skill, and cultivated the arts, monuments of which are still extant in that country under the name of Pyramids, which are, and have been, the universal admiration of succeeding ages. The successors of Mizraim, who were styled the sons of ancient kings, encouraged the art, down to the last of their race, the learned King Amasis.
It is presumed that the offspring of Shem propagated the science as far as China and Japan.
Abraham, born two years after the death of Noah, had learned the science, before the Grand Architect of the universe called him to travel from Ur of the Chaldees. He communicated it to the Canaanites, for which they honoured him as a prince.
Isaac, Ishmael, and Jacob no doubt were taught the science by their progenitor. Joseph was also well instructed by his father, for Scripture informs us he excelled the Egyptians in knowledge, and was installed by Pharaoh himself as a ruler over the people.
It is well known, and needs no comment here, that Melchizedeck is recognised amongst us as one of the most venerable patrons of the order.
That the Israelites practised masonry in Egypt, is a well authenticated fact from the Bible. We read “they were trained up" to the building of two cities with stone and brick for the Egyptians, and undoubtedly was the design of the Most High, to make them expert masons before they should possess the promised land.
In their peregrinations through the wilderness after their singular delivery of Egyptian bondage, on their voyage to the land which was promised they should possess for an inheritance for ever, God was pleased to inspire Moses, and gave him the decalogue which can be summed up in those two doctrines, Honour God and love thy neighbour, (and in what society are those two precepts better exemplified than among Masons.) When Moses, after a sojourn of forty days on Mount Sinai, came down with the laws, he entered into his tent. Aaron his brother, who afterwards became high priest, came to visit him, and Moses acquainted him with the laws he had received from God with the explanation of them. After this Aaron placed himself at the right hand of Moses, and Eleazar and Ithamar (sons of Aaron) were admitted, to whom Moses repeated what he had said to Aaron. Moses afterwards declared the same over to the Elders of the Sanhedrim composed of seventy members, after which instruction he reduced the law to writing, except the explanations; these he thought sufficient to commit and entrust to their memories, with instructions to teach them to their children and their offspring. He also ordered the more skilful to meet him as in a lodge or tabernacle, and gave them wise charges and regulations, from which they should not deviate.
Joshua, the faithful follower of Moses, succeeded him, with Caleb and Eleazer the high priest, and Phineas his deputy.
After the conquest and settlement of the promised land, the Israelites made further progress in the study of geometry and architecture, having many expert artists.
The city of Tyre or Tsor was built by a great body of Sidonian masons from Gabala, under a grand master and a number of princes.
In after times, Ahibal, king of Tyre, repaired and beautified that city, and so did his son Hiram, being also a
He became one of the principal architects of that stupendous edifice which has been and always will remain the admiration of the world, viz. Solomon's temple.
Having traced Masonry thus far, I will reserve to its proper place the commencement, building, and completion of that edifice, from which, with more accuracy, we trace our origin.
CONSISTING OF A NUMBER OF EXTRACTS FROM OLD
MANUSCRIPTS AND RECORDS IN ENGLAND.
An old manuscript, which was destroyed with many others in 1720, said to have been in the possession of Nicholas Stone, a curious sculptor under Inigo Jones, contains the following particulars :
“ St. Albans loved Masons well, and cherished them much, and made their pay right good; for he gave them 2 shillings per week, and 3d. to their cheer; whereas, before that time, in all the land, a Mason had but a penny a day, and his meat, until St. Albans mended itt, and he gott them a charter from the King and his counsell for to hold a general counsell, and gave it the name of assemblie. Thereat he was himselfe, and did helpe to make masons, and gave them good charges.”
A record of the society, written in the reign of Edward IV., formerly in possession of the famous Elias Ashmole, the founder of the Museum at Oxford, England.
Though the ancient records of the Brotherhood in England were many of them destroyed or lost in the wars of the Saxons and Danes, yet King Athelstane, (the grandson of King Alfred the Great, a mighty architect, the first anointed King of England, and who translated the Sacred Scriptures into the Saxon tongue, (A. D. 930,) when he had brought the land into rest and peace,
built many great works, and encouraged many Masons from France, who were appointed overseers thereof, and brought with them the charges and regulations of the lodges, preserved since the Roman times; who also prevailed with the king to improve the constitution of the English lodges according to the foreign model, and to increase the wages of working Masons.
The said king's brother, Prince Edwin, being taught Masonry, and taking upon him the charges of a Master Mason, for the love he had to the said craft, and the honourable principles whereon it is grounded, purchased a free charter of King Athelstane, for the Masons having a correction among themselves (as it was anciently expressed,) or a freedom and power to regulate themselves, to amend what might happen amiss, and to hold a yearly communication and general assembly.
Accordingly, Prince Edward summoned all the Masons in the realm to meet him in a congregation at York,* who came and composed a general Lodge, of which he was Grand Master; and having brought with him all the writings and records extant, some in Greek, some in Latin, some in French, and other languages, from the contents thereof the assembly did frame the constitution and charges of the ancient English Lodge; they made a law to preserve and observe the same in all time coming, and ordained good pay for working masons, &c. And he made a book thereof, how the craft was founded : and he himself ordered and commanded that it should be read, and told when any Mason should be made, and for to give him his charges. And from that day until this time, manners of Masons have been kept in that form, as well as men might govern.
“ Furthermore, however, at diverse assemblies certain
• Hence the origin of Ancient York Masonry.