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once gives way to a habit of debate; and members, fond of displaying their rhetorical powers, meet with encouragement from the chair, the growing evil carries ruin in its train; division disunites the brethren; parties are formed by a systematic canvass to carry improper motions into effect, and distrust are the mildest consequences to be expected; for every division leaves a certain portion of the members discontented; in the warmth of debate, strong and objectionable phrases and reflections may be indiscreetly used, which leave . a thorn rankling in the bosom of those at whom they have been levelled; and in the end, the minority are certain to relax in their attendance, if not to withdraw themselves altogether from an institution where their counsels are rejected and their opinions treated with contempt.
Let not these hints be despised, or deemed useless and impertinent. They are the result of long experience in the art of governing a Lodge; which is a much more difficult task than unskilful brethren are willing to admit. Something more is necessary to constitute a perfect Master than the mere competency to repeat certain forms of opening, closing, qualifications, and lectures. These, though absolutely essential, are but the technical trappings of a ruler in Masonry. Sterling good sense, accomplished manners, long experience, a perfect knowledge of men and things, calmness and command of temper, prudence and foresight, added to a
graceful and natural flow of eloquence, are unitedly necessary to form a governor of the craft; and he who assumes this high and most important office without possessing the greater part of these essentials, is in danger of exposing himself to the animadversion, if not to the ridicule of his brethren.
LECTURE XII. 1
CONCLUSION OF THE COURSE.
Having now arrived at the conclusion of my labours, I flatter myself that the results of the whole investigation will be apparent and intelligible. The antiquity of Freemasonry may be deduced from the similarity of our rites to those of the mysteries; and we can only account for the resemblance which the ceremonies and doctrines of distant nations bear to each other, by supposing that they were all derived from some great primitive system which was practised when all mankind lived together as a single family. It is morally impossible, on any other principle, that the same events, perpetuated by the same ceremonies and symbols, and the same secret system of communication, could subsist in nations so widely separated as to preclude all possibility of intercourse between the inhabitants.
But the antiquity of these mysterious institutions falls before the superior claims of Masonry, as the idols of Memphis were precipitated from their pedestals at the appearance of the infant Saviour.* The deductions of reason produce a result absolutely asserted in the sacred volume, that all modes of false worship emanated from Shinar, where genuine Masonry was originally practised by the descendants of Noah. The reasons of that variety which diversified the practice of religion amongst different nations may be reduced within a very narrow compass. The apostacy began on these extensive plains, and the seed of every new religion was here scattered. Each ambitious and enterprising individual whose abilities enabled him to collect a party, would set off with his followers, east or west, as his inclinations might lead, and forming a colony at no great distance from the place of departure, would, as its ostensible king and priest, deliver, ex cathedra, his own speculative opinions on the subject of religion, which would of course be adopted as the system of the newly planted tribe. When the population of a colony thus formed became too abundant for the settlement, new migrations would take place, moving to a greater distance from Shinar, each family under its respective leader, whose religious tenets would doubtless possess some peculiarity. Thus the sentiments of mankind as they separated more widely from each other, would diverge by insensible degrees from the true mode of worship, until at length, great nations would be formed in every part of the world by the union of many small tribes, as policy or conquest might prevail, each practising a religion of its own, which, though differing essentially from the rest of the world, would still retain many characteristic marks which unequivocally point out a common derivation.
The great and important truths which I have collected in these Lectures, necessarily proceeded from a system of theology more ancient, and were derived from a source of greater purity than the mysteries in which they were preserved. In point of fact they could scarcely be obliterated, as they were fundamental principles from which all re-, ligious obedience radiated, and naturally refer to the patriarchal mode of worship instituted by the God himself, to preserve men from the paths of error in this world, and to produce their eternal salvation in the next. With this pure system of truth our science was coeval, and in these primitive times was usually identified. But human reason was too weak to retain just impressions of the sublime truths revealed by the divinity, when that revelation was either doubted or finally rejected; and therefore, though the visible symbols were retained in every mysterious institution which flourished throughout the heathen world, the true interpretation was entirely lost.
The idolatrous mysteries, then, emanated from