Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

PREFACE.

In the present extension of Freemasonry, when it flourishes abundantly in every quarter of the globe, and embraces many objects of research, which our brethren, even of the eighteenth century, did not entertain; and when spurious rituals have been offered to public notice, professing to contain a description of the entire secrets, pursuits, and machinery of the Craft, it becomes a duty of no inconsiderable moment, to place the Institution on its proper basis, as a society which blends science and morals, unites benevolence and philosophy, and displays an example of paternal union which is sought in vain amidst other scenes in these times of religious and political excitement.

The pure philosophy of Freemasonry is embodied in the legitimate Lectures of the Three Degrees. These form the Text on which the scientific Mason loves to expatiate. He draws from this fountain his materials for dissertation and research ; and the improvement of his mind becomes commensurate with the extent to which he carries his investigations. To make a satisfactory progress in this sublime study, a previous knowledge of the routine business and Lectures of the Lodge is indispensable. The practical working Mason is best qualified to estimate the beauties of its theory, provided he have acquired also a competent knowledge of its history and antiquities, and possess the requisite zeal and industry to surmount the difficulties which impede his first attempts to explore the hidden stores of Freemasonry.

It is a matter of extreme regret to the well-informed portion of the fraternity, that Freemasonry, as it is practised in some of our Lodges, offers to the candidate few opportunities for satisfying his enquiries on the subject of its refined philosophy, and affords little aid towards the enlightenment of his mind on those abstruse subjects which none can understand without the labour and assiduity which are prompted by a zealous desire to excel. It is for the satisfaction of this class of enquirers that the Author has been induced to publish a consecutive series of Lectures, all of which are intended to contribute to the same end, viz., the honour of Masonry as a moral and scientific institution—the instruction of the brethren -and the glory of the Most High; in the anticipation that they may lead, at no very distant period, to the formation of Lodges in the metropolis, and the populous manufacturing and marine towns of England, in this age of literary improvement and refined taste, where the leisure of talented brethren may be exclusively devoted to a minute investigation of the genuine principles of the Order; that the true and valuable pursuits of science may be substituted for unimportant observances on the one hand, and on the other, an extended conviviality which may terminate in debauch.

It is in the pursuits of philosophy, blended with those great principles of the Order, active benevolence and universal charity, that Freemasonry claims our unmitigated esteem. That fills our bosoms with the undisguised love of our species; this shews our love to be sincere by its practical development in our commerce with the world and with each other. That stores the mind with a pure religious feeling, by tracing the works of nature, till they lead to reflections on the immensity of power—the triumphs of wisdom and goodness of Him, who constructed the vast machine of the universe for the advantage of his creatures ;this evinces our gratitude and reverence, by inciting us to “act on the square” with the worthy and the good, whatever may be the external circumstances in which they are placed by the just and equitable decree of Providence. In any other point of view Freemasonry is human-here it is divine. This consideration encircles it with the luminous rays that enlighten the “glory in the centre," and confer its real dignity and value. It is the Theocratic PhiloSOPHY OF FREEMASONRY that commands our unqualified esteem, and seals in our heart that love for the Institution which will produce an active religious faith and practice; and lead, in the end, to “ a building not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."

Such being the professed design of the following work, little need be said on the principle of its construction. A view of the Institution has been taken under every form which it has assumed throughout the long series of ages that have intervened from the creation to the days in which we live. It is admitted that ample justice has not been done to the diversity of subjects which presented themselves to the Author's attention ; because, in a field so wide, twelve short Lectures is a space too limited to afford scope for all the important investigations to which they naturally give rise ; but it is hoped that much important information has been communicated, which may direct the learned reader's view to subjects which his previous knowledge of the art may render interesting, and which the disquisitions suggested by his own ingenuity may illustrate and confirm. And if the fraternity should admit that the Author has succeeded in displaying a connected view of the science in all its principal divisions; if he have correctly traced its progress in the ancient world, until it assumed the form

« AnteriorContinuar »