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Fortitude is that noble and steady purpose of the mind, whereby we are enabled to undergo any pain, peril, or danger, when prudentially deemed expedient. This virtue is equally distant from rashness and cowardice; and, like the former, should be deeply impressed upon the mind of every Mason, as a safe-guard or security against any illegal attack that may be made, by force or otherwise, to extort from him any of those valuable secrets, with which he has been so solemnly intrusted, and which were emblematically represented upon his first admission into the lodge. *
Prudence teaches us to regulate our lives and actions agreeably to the dictates of reason, and is that habit by which we wisely judge, and prudentially determine, on all things relative to our present as well as to our future happiness. This virtue should be the peculiar characteristic of every Mason, not only for the government of his conduct while in the lodge, but also when abroad in the world. It should be particularly attended to, in all strange and mixed companies, never to let fall the least sign, token, or word, whereby the secrets of Masonry might be unlawfully obtained.
Justice is that standard or boundary of right, which enables us to render to every man his just due without distinction. This virtue is not only consistent with divine and human laws, but is the very cement and support of civil society; and as justice in a great measure constitutes the real good man, so should it be the invariable practice of
every Mason, never to deviate from the minutest principles thereof.
The illustration of these virtues is accompanied with some general observations peculiar to Masons. Due veneration is also paid to our ancient patrons.
Such is the arrangement of the different sections in the first lecture; and comprehends the whole of the first degree. The whole is a regular system of morality, conceived in a strain of interesting allegory, which must unfold its beauties to the candid and industrious inquirer.
CHARGE AT INITIATION INTO THE FIRST DEGREE.
As you are now introduced into the first principles of Masonry, I congratulate you on being accepted into this ancient and honourable order; 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 in the several Masonic lectures. The greatest and best of men, in all ages, have been encouragers and promoters of the art; and have never deemed it derogatory to their dignity, to level themselves with the fraternity, extend their privileges, and patronize their assemblies. There are three great duties, which, as a Mason, you are charged to inculcate to God, your neighbour, and yourself. To God, in never mentioning his name, but with that reverential awe which is due from a creature to his Creator; to implore his aid in all your laudable undertakings, and to esteem him as the chief good:-to your neighbour, in acting upon the square, and doing unto him as you wish he should do unto you:-and to yourself, in avoiding all irre
gularity and intemperance, which may impair your faculties, or debase the dignity of your profession. A zealous attachment to these duties, will insure public and private
In the state, you are to be a quiet and peaceable subject, true to your government, 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 of the country in which you live. In your outward demeanour, be particularly careful to avoid censure or reproach.
Although your frequent appearance at our regular meetings is earnestly solicited, yet it is not meant that Masonry should interfere with your necessary vocations; for these are on no account to be neglected; neither are you to suffer your zeal for the institution to lead you into argument with those who, through ignorance, may ridicule it. At your leisure hours, that you may improve in Masonic knowledge, you are to converse with well-informed brethren, who will be always as ready to give, as you will be ready to receive, instruction.
Finally, keep sacred and inviolable the mysteries of the order; as these are to distinguish you from the rest of the community, and mark your consequence among Masons. 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, glory, and reputation of the institution may be finally established, and the world at large convinced of its good effects.
The following beautiful explanations of the working tools will no doubt be duly appreciated by every Mason. They are from the pen of the R. W. Brother Dalcho:
As the various tools and instruments, which we use in
the lodge, are all emblematical of the conduct which Free Masons should pursue in their intercourse with society, I shall, therefore, endeavour to explain to you such of them as we most frequently use.
In a lodge of Masonry, the first object which deserves attention, is the Mosaic floor upon which we tread. It is intended to convey to our minds, the vicissitudes of human affairs, checkered with a strange contrariety of events. Today, elevated with the smiles of prosperity: to-morrow, depressed by the frowns of misfortune. The precariousness of our situation, in this world, should teach us humility, to walk uprightly and firmly upon the broad basis of virtue and religion, and to give assistance to our unfortunate fellow creatures who are in distress; lest on some capricious turn of fortune's wheel, we may become dependants on those who before looked up to us as their benefactors.
The two emblematical pillars, erected in front of the porch of the temple, independent of the beauty which they added to the building, conveyed to the minds of those who entered, a knowledge of the attributes of that Being to whom it was dedicated. The literal translation of the name of the left pillar is, "in thee is strength;" and that of the right, "it shall be established," which, as a learned author observes, may very naturally be transposed in this manner-“O Lord, thou art mighty, and thy power is established from everlasting to everlasting." The name of one of the pillars, as relating to a person, may give a different translation, which may be pointed out on some other occasion.
The next object which demands attention, is the holy bible, with the square and compasses. As these instruments remind us to keep our actions within the bounds of propriety, and to square them with all mankind, the sacred volume on which they lie, contains the unerring guide for our conduct through life, as it relates to our worship of the
Supreme Master of the world, and our conduct to each other. For these reasons, the book of the divine law is never closed: "it is open to every eye, and comprehensible to every mind."
The blazing star is the emblem of prudence, which is one of the emanations of the Deity, agreeably to the system of Basilides. It points out to Free Masons the path which leads to happiness, and is the sure source of self-approbation. It enlightens us through the dark and rugged paths of life, and enables us to shun the many obstacles which would impede our progress and embitter our journey with pain.
The three great luminaries allude to the three Masonic degrees, and at the same time are emblematical of that effulgence which should illuminate the mind of a Free Mason, and which he can alone receive from a perfect understanding of the principles of the order. The white apron and gloves are also emblematical. They are not worn merely as insignia of the order, but as badges of that innate innocence, and purity of soul, which Free Masons should always possess; and, in this point of view, they are more honorable distinctions than any order of knighthood which can be conferred. On being invested with these badges of innocence and humility, a Free Mason should firmly resolve to support that purity and integrity of heart, of which he outwardly wears the emblems.
The rule, the square, and the compasses, are emblematical of the conduct we should pursue in society. To observe punctuality in all our engagements, faithfully and religiously to discharge those important obligations, which we owe to God, and our neighbour; to be upright in all our dealings; to hold the scale of justice in equal poise; to square our actions by the unerring rule of God's sacred word; to keep within compass and bounds with all mankind, particularly with a brother; to govern our expenses by our incomes; to