Remarks on the First Lecture
Having illustrated the ceremony of opening and closing the
lodge, and inserted the Prayers and Charges usually rehearsed
in our regular assemblies on those occasions, we shall now enter
on a disquisition of the different Sections of the Lectures which
are appropriated to the three Degrees of the Order, 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 Lectures,
and be enabled with more ease to acquire a competent knowledge
of the Art.
The First Lecture is divided into Sections, and each Section
is subdivided into Clauses. In this Lecture, virtue is painted
in the most beautiful colors, and the duties of morality are strictly
enforced. Here we are taught such wise and 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, well calculated to influence our conduct
in the proper discharge of the duties of social life.
The First Section.
The first Section of this 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 they be short
and simple, will be found to 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 demonstrate our own claim; and as they induce us to
inquire minutely into other particulars of great importance, they
serve as a proper introduction to subjects which are more amply
explained in the following Sections.
As we can annex to this remark no other explanation consistent
with the rules of Masonry, we must refer the more inquisitive
to our regular assemblies for farther instruction.
The Second Section.
The Second Section makes us acquainted with the peculiar forms
and ceremonies which are adopted at the initiation of candidates
into Masonry; and convinces us beyond the power of contradiction,
of the propriety of our rites; whilst it demonstrates to the most
sceptical and hesitating mind their excellence and utility.
The following particulars relative to the ceremony of initiation
may be introduced here with propriety:
The Declaration to be assented to by every Candidate previous
'Do you seriously declare, upon your honor, before these gentlemen,
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 honor, before these gentlemen,
that you are solely prompted to solicit the privileges of Masonry,
by a favorable 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 honor, before these gentlemen,
that you will cheerfully conform to all the ancient established
usages and customs of the Order?' - 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 form as a proper Candidate for the
mysteries of Masonry; I recommend him, as worthy to share the
privileges of the Fraternity; and, in consequence of a Declaration
of his intentions, voluntarily made and properly attested, I believe
he will strictly 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 competency
of thy divine wisdom; that, by the secrets of this Art, he may
be the better enabled to display the beauties of godliness, to
the honor of thy holy Name! Amen.
Note: It is a duty incumbent on the Master of the 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,
to require his cheerful acquiescence to the tenets of the Order.
The Third Section.
The Third Section, by the reciprocal communication of our
marks of distinction, proves the regularity of our initiation;
and inculcates those necessary and instructive duties which dignify
our character in the double capacity of Men and Masons.
We cannot better illustrate this Section, than by inserting
Charge at Initiation into the First Degree.
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 honorable Society; ancient, as having
subsisted from time immemorial; and honorable, 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 every person when
he is initiated into our mysteries. Monarchs in all ages have
been encouragers and promoters of the Art, and have never deemed
it derogatory from their dignities, to level themselves with the
brethren, to extend their privileges, and to patronize their assemblies.]
As a Mason, you are to study the moral law, as it is contained
in the sacred code; 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 neighbor, and yourself,
you are strictly to observe: To God, by holding his name in awe
and veneration; viewing him as the chief good, imploring his aid
in laudable pursuits, and supplicating his protection on well-meant
endeavors: To your neighbor, by acting upon the square, and, considering
him equally entitled with yourself to share the blessings of Providence,
rendering unto him those favors, which in a similar situation
you would expect to receive from him: And to yourself, by not
abusing the bounties of Providence, impairing the faculties by
irregularity, or debasing the profession by intemperance.
In the state, you are to be a 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 place of your nativity, or the allegiance due to the sovereign
or protectors of that spot.
[In your outward demeanour you are to avoid censure or reproach;
and beware of all who may artfully endeavor 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, favor, or prejudice, bias your integrity, or influence
you to be guilty of a dishonorable action; but let your conduct
be uniform, and your deportment suitable to the dignity of the
Above all, practice benevolence and charity; for these virtues
have distinguished Masons 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; by supposing himself
in the situation of an unhappy sufferer, he listens to the tale
of woe with attention, bewails misfortune, and speedily relieves
The Constitutions of the Order are next to engage your attention.
[These consist of two points, oral and written communication.
The former comprehends the mysteries of the Art, and are only
to be acquired by practice and experience in the lodge; the latter
includes the history of genuine Masonry, the lives and characters
of its patrons, and the ancient charges and general regulations
of the Craft.]
A punctual attendance on the duties of the Order we earnestly
enjoin, more especially in that assembly where your name is enrolled
as a member. [There, and in all 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-breeding you are never to violate, by using unbecoming
language, in derogation of the name of God, or toward the corruption
of good manners: neither are you to enter into any dispute about
religion or politics; or behave irreverently, while the lodge
is engaged in what is serious and important.] On every occasion
you are to pay a proper deference and respect to the Master and
presiding officers, and diligently apply to the work of Masonry,
that you may sooner become a proficient therein, as well for your
own credit, as the honour of the company with whom you associate.
Although your frequent appearance at our regular meetings
be earnestly solicited, your necessary employments are not to
be neglected on that account: neither are you to suffer your zeal
for Masonry to exceed the bounds of discretion, or lead you into
argument with persons who may ridicule our system; but extend
your pity toward those who may be apt through ignorance to contemn,
what they never had an opportunity to comprehend. All that is
required for your general observance is, that you study the liberal
arts at leisure, trace science in the works of eminent masters,
and improve in the disquisitions of the system, by the conversation
of well-informed brethren, who will be equally ready to give,
as you can be to receive, instruction.
Finally; Adhere to the constitutions, and support the privileges
which are to distinguish you as a Mason above 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 the Order, be particularly attentive not
to recommend him, unless you are convinced he will conform to
our rules; that the value of Masonry may be enhanced by the difficulty
of the purchase; the honour and reputation of the institution
established on the firmest basis; and the world at large convinced
of its benign influence.
[From the attention you have paid to the recital of the duties
of the Order, we are led to hope that you will form a proper estimate
of the value of Free-masonry, and imprint on your mind the dictates
of truth, honour, and justice.]
This section usually closes with the following
Masonry comprehends within its circle every branch of useful
knowledge and learning, and stamps an indelible mark of pre-eminence
on its genuine professors, which neither chance, power, nor fortune,
can bestow. When its rules are strictly observed, it is a sure
foundation of tranquillity amid the various disappointments of
life; a friend that will not deceive, but will comfort and assist,
in prosperity and adversity; a blessing, that will remain with
all time, circumstances, and places; and to which recourse may
be had, when other earthly comforts sink in disregard.
Masonry gives real and intrinsic excellency to man, and renders
him fit for the duties of society. It strengthens the mind against
the storms of life, paves the way to peace, and promotes domestic
happiness. It meliorates the temper, and improves the understanding;
it is company in solitude, and gives vivacity, variety, and energy
to social conversation. In youth, it governs the passions, and
employs usefully our most active faculties; and in age, when sickness,
imbecility, and disease, have benumbed the corporeal frame, and
rendered the union of soul and body almost intolerable, it yields
an ample fund of comfort and satisfaction.
These are its general advantages; to enumerate them separately,
would be an endless labour: it may be sufficient to observe, that
he who cultivates this science, and acts agreeably to the character
of a Mason, has within himself the spring and support of every
social virtue; a subject of contemplation, that enlarges the mind,
and expands all its powers; a theme that is inexhaustible, ever
new, and always interesting.
The Fourth Section.
The Fourth Section rationally accounts for the origin of our
hieroglyphical instruction, and points out the advantages which
accompany a faithful observance of our duty; it illustrates, at
the same time, certain particulars, our ignorance of which 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 symbols which tend to improve
and embellish the mind? Every thing that strikes the eye more
immediately engages the attention, and imprints on the memory
serious and solemn truths. Masons have therefore universally adopted
the plan of inculcating the tenets of their order by typical figures
and allegorical emblems, to prevent their mysteries from descending
within the familiar reach of inattentive and unprepared novices,
from whom they might not receive due veneration.
The usages and customs of Masons have ever corresponded with
those of the ancient Egyptians; to which they bear a near affinity.
Those philosophers, unwilling to expose their mysteries to vulgar
eyes, concealed their particular tenets and principles of polity
and philosophy 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 never 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; as every character, figure, emblem,
depicted in the lodge, has a moral tendency, and tends to inculcate
the practice of virtue.
The Fifth Section.
The Fifth Section explains the nature and principles of our
constitution, and teaches us to discharge with propriety the duties
of the different departments which we are appointed to sustain
in the government of the lodge. Here, too, our ornaments are displayed,
and our jewels and furniture specified; while a proper attention
is paid to our antient and venerable patrons.
To explain the subjects treated in this Section, and assist
the industrious Mason to acquire them, we can only recommend a
punctual attendance on the duties of the lodge, and a diligent
application to the lessons which are there inculcated.
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 here
expatiate.-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 the same 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
otherwise 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,
alleviate misfortune, compassionate misery, and restore peace
to the troubled mind, is the grand aim of the true Mason. On this
basis he establishes his friendships, and forms his connections.
Truth is a divine attribute, and the foundation of every virtue.
To be good men and true, is the first lesson we are taught in
Masonry. On this theme we contemplate, and by its dictates endeavor
to regulate our conduct: influenced by this principle, hypocrisy
and deceit are unknown in the lodge, sincerity and plain-dealing
distinguish us; while the heart and tongue join in promoting the
general welfare, and rejoicing in each other's prosperity.
To this illustration succeeds an explanation of the four cardinal
virtues, 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
everything that tends to promote either our present or future
well-being. On this virtue, all others depend; it is, therefore,
the chief jewel that can adorn the human frame. Justice, the boundary
of right, constitutes the cement of civil society. This virtue,
in a great measure, constitutes real goodness, and is therefore
represented as the perpetual study of the accomplished Mason.
Without the exercise of justice, universal confusion would ensue;
lawless force might overcome the principles of equity, and social
intercourse no longer exist.
The explanation of these virtues is accompanied with some
general observations on the equality observed among Masons. In
the lodge, no estrangement of behaviour is discovered; influenced
by the same principle, a uniformity of opinion, which is useful
in exigencies, and pleasing in familiar life, universally prevails,
strengthens the ties of friendship, and promotes love and esteem.
Masons are brethren by a double tie; and among them, as brothers,
no invidious distinctions exist; merit being always respected,
and honour rendered to whom honour is due. A king, in the lodge,
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 statesman, the senator, and the artist, are there taught that,
equally with others, they are, by nature, exposed to infirmity
and disease; and that an unforeseen misfortune, or a disordered
frame, may impair their faculties, and level them with the most
ignorant of their species. This checks pride, and incites courtesy
of behaviour. Men of inferior talents, or who are not placed by
fortune in such exalted stations, are instructed to regard their
superiors with peculiar esteem, when they discover them voluntarily
divested of the trappings of external grandeur, and condescending,
in the badge of innocence and bond of friendship, to trace wisdom
and follow virtue, assisted 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 Virtue only mark distinction
Such is the arrangement of the Sections in the First Lecture,
which, including the forms adopted at opening and closing the
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 a strain of interesting allegory, which readily unfolds
its beauties to the candid and industrious inquirer.
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