General Ahiman Rezon, by Daniel Sickels, , at sacred-texts.com
The three great tenets of a Freemason's profession inculcate the practice of those truly commendable virtues, BROTHERLY LOVE, RELIEF, and TRUTH.
By the exercise of Brotherly Love, we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family—the high, the low, the rich, the poor—who, as created by 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 otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance.
Brotherly Love or Friendship is regarded by Freemasons as the strong cement of the Order; without this high moral virtue, the Fraternity would soon cease to exist. By Brotherly Love, we are to understand that generous principle of the soul which regards the human species as one family, created by an All-wise Being, and placed on this globe for the mutual assistance of each other. The man who is actuated by the pure principle of Brotherly Love, will not desert his friend when dangers threaten or misfortunes assail him. When he is calumniated, he will openly and boldly espouse his cause, and endeavor to remove the aspersion. When sickness or infirmity occasion him to be deserted by others, he will seize the opportunity, and redouble all the affectionate attentions which love suggests. No society can exist for any length of time, unless Brotherly Love prevail among its members. To "dwell together in unity," is the life and support of the great Masonic institution.
To relieve the distressed, is a duty incumbent on all men, but particularly on Masons, who are linked together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affection. To soothe the unhappy; to sympathize with their misfortunes; to compassionate their miseries, and to restore peace to their troubled minds, is the great aim we have in view. On this basis, we form our friendships and establish our connections.
Relief flows from brotherly love, as free, pure, and refreshing as the mountain air. It dries up the gushing fountains of grief, banishes want from the abode of a distressed brother, and pours the oil of joy into the wounded hearts of the widow and the orphan.
Is a divine attribute, and the foundation of every virtue. To be good 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. Hence, while influenced by this principle, hypocrisy and deceit are unknown among us; sincerity and plain dealing distinguish us; and the heart and the tongue join in promoting each other's welfare, and rejoicing in each other's prosperity. *
Truth is the foundation of all Masonic virtues; it is one of our grand principles; for to be good men and true, is a part of the first lesson we are taught; and at the commencement of our freedom we are exhorted to be fervent and zealous in the pursuit of truth and goodness. It is not sufficient that we walk in the light, unless we do so in the truth also. All hypocrisy and deceit must be banished from among us. Sincerity and plain dealing complete the harmony of a Lodge, and render us acceptable in the sight of Him unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid. There is a charm in truth, which draws and attracts the mind continually towards it. The more we discover, the more we desire; and the great reward is wisdom, virtue, and happiness. This is an edifice founded on a rock, which malice cannot shake or time destroy.
The * * * * are explained, in connection with the four cardinal virtues, FORTITUDE, PRUDENCE, TEMPERANCE, and JUSTICE.
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 or cowardice; and should be deeply impressed upon the mind of every Mason, as a safeguard 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, and * * * *
In the absence of this virtue, no person can perform his duty, either to GOD, his neighbor, or himself, in an acceptable manner. He will be too much overwhelmed with the cares and troubles of the world to find leisure or resolution to protect himself from the enticing machinations with which he will be continually beset during his progress through life; and may be led unintentionally to rend asunder the sacred ties of brotherhood which unite men of all parties, religions, or politics, by forfeiting the confidence trustingly reposed in him, and thereby becoming the victim of his own weakness.
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 cur 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, and * * * * *
Prudence is among the most exalted objects that demand every Mason's special attention, for it is the rule which governs all other virtues. She directs us to the path which leads to every degree of propriety, inciting us to the performance of worthy actions, and, as a guiding-star, lighting our steps through the dreary and dark-some ways of this life.
Is that due restraint upon our affections and passions, which renders the body tame and governable, and frees the mind from the allurements of vice. This virtue should be the constant practice of every Mason; as he is thereby taught to avoid excess, or contracting any licentious or vicious habits, the indulgence of which might lead him to disclose some of those valuable secrets which he has promised to conceal, and never reveal, and which would consequently
subject him to the contempt and detestation of all good Masons.
This virtue should be the constant practice of every Freemason, while its opposite should be carefully guarded against. At the shrine of Intemperance, how many victims are daily offered!—Blooming youth and hoary age have alike bowed before it. They continue offering libations on the unhallowed altar, until their fortunes are wasted, their credit lost, their constitutions impaired, their children beggared, and that life which might have been usefully and honorably employed, becomes a burden to the possessor.
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 really good man, so should it be the invariable practice of every Mason never to deviate from the minutest principle thereof. * * *
The exercise of this principle incites us to act toward others, in all the transactions of life, as we wish they would act toward us; and as, in a great measure, it constitutes real goodness, it is therefore represented as the perpetual study of an accomplished Freemason. Without the influence of justice, universal confusion would ensue; lawless force would overcome the principles of equity, and social intercourse would no longer exist.
Here may be given some general instructions peculiar to Freemasons, relative to the manner in which Entered Apprentices
serve their * * *, and how represented * * *; together with a few observations regarding the comparison between it and clay, etc., and concluding thus:
Our Mother EARTH alone, of all the elements, has never proved unfriendly to man; the bodies of water deluge him with rain, oppress him with hail, and drown him with inundations. The air rushes in storms, prepares the tempest, and lights up the volcano; but the earth, ever kind and indulgent, is found subservient to his wishes. Though constantly harassed, more to furnish the luxuries than the necessaries of life, she never refuses her accustomed yield; spreading his path with flowers and his table with plenty; though she produces poison, still she supplies the antidote, and returns with interest every good committed to her care; and when at last he is called upon to pass through the "dark valley of the shadow of Death," she once more receives him, and piously covers his remains within her bosom: this admonishes us that from it we came, and to it we must shortly return.
Such is the arrangement of the different sections in the first lecture, which, with the forms adopted at the Opening and Closing of a Lodge, comprehends the whole of the first degree of Masonry. This plan has the advantage of regularity
to recommend it, the support of precedent and authority, and the sanction and respect which flow from antiquity.
94:* In the ancient mythology of Rome, TRUTH was called the mother of VIRTUE, and was depicted with white and flowing garments. Her looks were cheerful and pleasant, though modest and serene. She was the protectress of honor and honesty, and the light and joy of human society.