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Preston Illustrations of Masonry- Book 2 General Remarks

Section 1 - General Remarks.

Section 2 - The Ceremony of Opening and Closing A Lodge

Section 3 - Remarks on the First Lecture.

Section 4 - Remarks on the Second Lecture.

Section 5 - Remarks on the Third Lecture

Section 6 - Of the Ancient Ceremonies of the Order

Section 3. - Remarks on the First Lecture

Having illustrated the ceremony of opening and closing a Lodge, and inserted the Charges and Prayers usually rehearsed in our regular assemblies on those occasions, we shall now enter on a disquisition of the different Sections of the Lectures appropriated to the three Degrees of Masonry, giving a brief summary of the whole, and annexing to every remark the particulars to which the Section alludes. By these means the industrious mason will be better instructed in the regular arrangement of the Sections in each Lecture , and be enabled with more cease to acquire a knowledge of the Art.

[The full text of the lectures can be found under Lectures of The Craft menu tab]

The First Lecture is divided into Sections and each Section into Clauses. In this Lecture virtue is painted in the most beautiful colours, and the duties of morality are strictly enforced. In it we are taught such useful lessons as prepare the mind for a regular advancement in the principles of knowledge and philosophy, and these are imprinted on the memory by lively and sensible images, to influence our conduct in the proper discharge of the duties of social life.

The First Section

The First Section of the Lecture is suited to all capacities, and ought to be known by every person who wishes to rank as a mason. It consists of general heads, which, though short and simple carry weight with them. they not only serve as marks of distinction, but communicate useful and interesting knowledge when they are duly investigated. They qualify us to try and examine the rights of others to our privileges, while they prove ourselves; and as they induce us to inquire more minutely into other particulars of greater importance, they serve as an introduction to subjects which are more amply explained in the following Sections.

As we can annex to these remark no other explanation consistent with the rules of masonry. we must refer the more inquisitive to our regular assembles for further instruction.

The Second Section

The Second Section makes us acquainted with the peculiar forms and ceremonies at the initiation of candidates into masonry; and convinces us, beyond the power of contradiction, of the propriety of our rites; while it demonstrates to the most sceptical and hesitating mind, their excellence and utility.

The following particulars relative to that ceremony may be introduced here with propriety.

A Declaration to be assented to by every Candidate in an adjoining apartment, previous to Initiation.

"Do you seriously declare, upon your honour, before these gentlemen [The Stewards of the Lodge.], that, unbiased by friends against your own inclination, and uninfluenced by mercenary motives, you freely and voluntarily offer yourself a candidate for the mysteries of Masonry?" - I do.

"Do you seriously declare, upon your honour, before these gentlemen, that you are solely prompted to solicit the privileges of Masonry, by a favourable opinion conceived of the institution, a desire of knowledge, and a sincere wish of being serviceable to your fellow-creatures?" - I do.

"Do you seriously declare, upon your honour, before these gentlemen, that you will cheerfully conform to all the ancient established usages and customs of the fraternity?" - I do.

The Candidate is then proposed in open lodge, as follows:

"R. W. Master, and Brethren, At the request of Mr. A. B. [mentioning his profession and residence] I propose him in due form as a proper Candidate for the mysteries of Masonry; I recommend him, as worthy to partake the privileges of the fraternity; and, in consequence of a Declaration of his intentions, voluntarily made and properly attested, I believe he will cheerfully conform to the rules of the Order."

The Candidate is ordered to be prepared for Initiation.

A Prayer used at Initiation

"Vouchsafe thine aid, Almighty Father of the Universe, to this our present convention; and grant that this Candidate for Masonry may dedicate and devote his life to thy service, and become a true and faithful Brother among us! Endue him with a competence of thy divine wisdom, that, by the secrets of this Art, he may be better enabled to display the beauties of godliness, to the honour of thy holy Name! Amen."

Note. It is a duty incumbent on every Master of a lodge, before the ceremony of initiation takes place, to inform the Candidate of the purpose and design of the institution; to explain the nature of his solemn engagements; and, in a manner peculiar to masons alone, to require his cheerful acquiescence to the duties of morality and virtue, and all the sacred tenets of the Order.

The Third Section

The Third Section, by the reciprocal communication of our marks of distinction, proves us to be regular members of the Order; and inculcates those necessary and instructive duties which at once dignify our characters in the double capacity of men and masons.

We cannot better illustrate this Section, than by inserting the following

Charge at Initiation into the first Degree

[The paragraphs enclosed in brackets [] may be occasionally omitted, if time will not admit of delivering the whole Charge.]

Brother, - [As you are now introduced into the first principles of our Order, it is my duty to congratulate you on being accepted a member of an ancient and honourable Society: ancient, as having subsisted from time immemorial; and honourable, as tending, in every particular, so to render all men, who will be conformable to its precepts. No institution was ever raised on a better principle, or more solid foundation; nor were ever more excellent rules and useful maxims laid down, than are inculcated on all persons at their initiation into our mysteries. Monarchs, in every age, have been encouragers and promoters of our Art, and have never deemed it derogatory from their dignities, to level themselves with the fraternities, to extend their privileges, and to patronise their assemblies.]

As a mason you are to study the moral law, as contained in the sacred code [The Bible; and in countries where that book is not know, whatever is understood to contain the will or law of God.] to consider it as the unerring standard of truth and justice, and to regulate your life and actions by its divine precepts.

The three great moral duties, to God, your neighbour, and yourself, you are strictly to observe: - To God, by never mentioning his name, but with that awe and reverence which is due from a creature to his creator; to implore his aid in your laudable undertakings; and to esteem him as the chief good: - To your neighbour, by acting upon the square, and, considering him equally entitled with yourself to share the blessings of Providence, rendering unto him those favours, which in a similar situation you would expect to receive from him: - And to yourself, by avoiding irregularity and intemperance, which might impair your faculties, and debase the dignity of your profession.

In the state, you are to be quiet and peaceable subject, true to your sovereign, and just to your country; you are not to countenance disloyalty or rebellion, but patiently submit to legal authority, and conform with cheerfulness to the government under which you live, yielding obedience to the laws which afford you protection, and never forgetting the attachment you owe to the spot where you first drew breath.

[In your outward demeanour, you are to avoid censure or reproach; and beware of all who may artfully endeavour to insinuate themselves into your esteem, with a view to betray your virtuous resolutions, or make you swerve from the principles of the institution. Let not interest, favour, or prejudice, bias your integrity, or influence you to be guilty of a dishonourable action; but let your conduct and behaviour be regular and uniform, and your deportment suitable to the dignity of the profession.]

Above all, practise benevolence and charity; for by these virtues, masons have been distinguished in every age and country. [The inconceivable pleasure of contributing toward the relief of our fellow-creatures, is truly experienced by persons of a humane disposition; who are naturally excited, by sympathy, to extend their aid in alleviation of the miseries of others. This encourages the generous mason to distribute his bounty with cheerfulness. Supposing himself in the situation of an unhappy sufferer, he listens to the tale of woe with attention, bewails misfortune, and speedily relieves distress.]

The Constitutions of the Order ought next to engage your attentions. These contain the history of masonry from the earliest periods, with an account of illustrious characters who have enriched the Art in various countries; and the laws and charges, by which the brethren have been long governed.

A punctual attendance on our assemblies I am earnestly to enjoin, especially on the duties of the lodge in which you are enrolled a member. Here, and in all other regular meetings of the fraternity, you are to behave with order and decorum, that harmony may be preserved, and the business of masonry properly conducted.

[The rules of good manners you are not to violate; you are to use no unbecoming language, in derogation of the name of God, or toward the corruption of good manners: you are not to introduce or maintain any dispute about religion or politics; or behave irreverently while the lodge is engaged in what is serious and important; but you are to pay a proper deference and respect to the Master and presiding officers, and diligently apply to the practice of the Art, that you may sooner become a proficient therein, as well for your own credit, as the honour of the lodge in which you have been received.]

But although your frequent appearance at our regular meetings is earnestly solicited, masonry is not intended to interfere with your necessary vocations in life, as these on no account are to be neglected: neither are you to suffer your zeal for the institution, however laudable, to lead you into argument with those who may ridicule it; but rather extend your pity toward all, who through ignorance contemn, what they never had an opportunity to comprehend. At leisure hours, study the liberal arts and sciences; and improve in Masonic disquisitions, by the conversation of well-informed brethren, who will be as ready to give, as you can be to receive instruction.

Finally; keep sacred and inviolable those mysteries of the Order which are to distinguish you from the rest of the community, and mark your consequence among the fraternity. If, in the circle of your acquaintance, you find a person desirous of being initiated into masonry, be particularly attentive not to recommend him unless you are convinced he will conform to our rules; that the honour, the glory, and the reputation of the institution may be firmly established, and the world at large convinced of its benign influence.

[From the attention you have paid to the recital of this charge, we are led to hope that you will form a proper estimate of the value of freemasonry, and imprint on your mind the dictates of truth, honour, and justice.]

[This section usually closes with the EULOGIUM, which can be found in Book One]

The Fourth Section

The Fourth Section rationally accounts for the origin of hieroglyphical instruction, and points out the advantages which accompany a faithful observance of our duty; it illustrates, at the same time, certain particulars, of which our ignorance might lead us into error, and which as masons, we are indispensably bound to know.

To make daily progress in the Art, is a constant duty, and expressly required by our general laws. What end can be more noble, than the pursuit of virtue? what motive more alluring, than the practice of justice? or what instruction more beneficial, than an accurate elucidation of those symbols which tend to embellish and adorn the mind? Every thing that strikes the eye, more immediately engages the attention, and imprints on the memory serious and solemn truths. Hence masons have universally adopted the plan of inculcating the tenets of their Order by typical figures and allegorical emblems, to prevent their mysteries from descending to the familiar reach of inattentive and unprepared novices, from whom they might not receive due veneration.

It is well known, that the usages and customs of masons have ever corresponded with those of the ancient Egyptians, to which they bear a near affinity. These philosophers, unwilling to expose their mysteries to vulgar eyes, concealed their particular tenets and principles of polity under hieroglyphical figures; and expressed their notions of government by signs and symbols, which they communicated to their Magi alone, who were bound by oath not to reveal them. Pythagoras seems to have established his system on a similar plan, and many orders of a more recent date have copied the example. Masonry, however, is not only the most ancient, but the most moral institution that ever subsisted; every character, figure, and emblem, depicted in a Lodge, has a moral tendency, and tends to inculcate the practice of virtue.

[This section closes with a definition of Charity.]

The Fifth Section

The Fifth Section explains the nature and principles of our constitution, and teaches us to discharge the duties of the different departments which we are top sustain in the government of a lodge. Here, too, our ornaments are displayed, our jewels and furniture specified, and proper attention is paid to our ancient and venerable patrons.

To explain the subject of this Section, and to assist the industrious mason to acquire it, we recommend a punctual attendance on the duties of a Lodge, and a diligent application to the truths there demonstrated.

The Sixth Section

The Sixth Section, though the last in rank, is not the least considerable in importance. It strengthens those which precede, and enforces in the most engaging manner, a due regard to character and behaviour, in public as well as in private life, in the lodge as well as in the general commerce of society.

This Section forcibly inculcates the most instructive lessons. Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth are themes on which we expatiate; while the Cardinal Virtues claim our attention. - By the exercise of Brotherly Love, we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family, the high and low, the rich and poor; who, as children of one Almighty Parent and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid , support and protect each other. On this principle masonry unites men of every country, sect and opinion, and conciliates true friendship among those who might other wise have remained at a perpetual distance. - Relief is the next tenet of the profession. To relieve the distressed, is a duty incumbent on all men; particularly on masons, who are linked together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affection. To soothe calamity, to alleviate misfortune, to compassionate misery, and to restore peace to the troubled mind, is the grand aim of the true mason. On this basis, he establishes his friendship, and forms his connections. - Truth is a divine attribute, and the foundation of every virtue. To be good and true is the first lesson we are taught. On this theme we contemplate, and by its dictates endeavour to regulate our conduct: influenced by this principle, hypocrisy and deceit are unknown, sincerity and plain-dealing distinguish us, while the heart and tongue join in promoting each other's welfare, and rejoicing in each other's prosperity.

To this illustration succeeds an explanation of Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence , and Justice. - By Temperance, we are instructed to govern the passions and check unruly desires. The health of the body, and the dignity of the species, are equally concerned in a faithful observance of it. - By Fortitude, we are taught to resist temptation, and encounter danger with spirit and resolution. This virtue is equally distant from rashness and cowardice; and he who possesses it, is seldom shaken, and never overthrown, by the storms that surround him. - By Prudence, we are instructed to regulate our conduct by the dictates of reason, and to judge and determine with propriety in the execution of very than that can tend to promote either present or future well-being. In this virtue all other depend; it is there fore the chief jewel that can adorn the human frame.- Justice, the boundary of right, constitutes the cement of civil society. Without the exercise of this virtue, universal confusion must ensue; lawless force would overcome the principles of equity, and social intercourse no longer exist. Justice in a great measure constitutes real goodness, and therefore it is represented to be the perpetual study of the accomplished mason.

The explanation of these virtues is accompanied with some general observations on the Equality observed among masons. - In a Lodge no estrangement of behaviour is discovered. Influenced by one principles, an uniformity of opinion, useful in exigencies, and pleasing in familiar life, universally prevails, strengthens all the ties of friendship, and equally promotes love and esteem. Masons are brethren by a double tie, and among brothers no invidious distinctions should still exist. Merit is always respected and honour rendered to whom it is due. - A king is reminded, that although a crown may adorn the head, or a sceptre the hand, the blood in the veins is derived from the common parent of mankind. and is no better than that of the meanest subject.- The senator and the artist are alike taught that, equally with other, they are by nature exposed to infirmity and disease; and an unforeseen misfortune , or a disordered frame, may impair their faculties, and level them with the most ignorance of the species. This checks pride, and incites courtesy or behaviour. - Men of inferior talents, or not placed by fortune on such exalted stations, are instructed to regard their superiors with peculiar esteem, when, divested of pride, vanity, and external grandeur, they condescend, in the badge of friendship, to trace wisdom, and follow virtue, asserted by those who are of a rank beneath them. Virtue is true nobility, and wisdom is the channel by which Virtue is directed and conveyed; Wisdom and Virtues only mark distinction among masons.

Such is the arrangement of the Sections in the First Lecture of Masonry, which including the forms adopted at opening and closing a lodge, comprehends the whole of the First Degree. This plan has not only the advantage of regularity to recommend it, but the support of precedent and authority, and the sanction and respect which flow from antiquity, The whole is a regular system of morality, conceived in s strain of interesting allegory, which readily unfolds its beauties to the candid and industrious inquirer.

Home Lectures of the Craft Lectures of the Holy Royal Arch Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite The Royal Order of Scotland York Rite Side Degrees English Knights Templar Order of Women Freemasons Walter Leslie Wilmshurst Preston Illustrations of Masonry Masonic Tutor Support

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