General Ahiman Rezon, by Daniel Sickels, , at sacred-texts.com
We work in Speculative Masonry, but our ancient brethren wrought in both Operative and Speculative. * They worked at the building of King SOLOMON'S temple, and many other sacred and Masonic edifices.
By Operative Masonry, we allude to a proper application of the useful rules of architecture, whence a structure will derive figure, strength, and beauty, and whence will result a due proportion and a just correspondence in all its parts. It furnishes us with dwellings and convenient shelters from the vicissitudes and inclemencies of seasons; and while it displays the effects of
human wisdom, as well in the choke as in the arrangement of the sundry materials of which an edifice is composed, it demonstrates that a fund of science and industry is implanted in man, for the best, most salutary, and beneficent purposes.
By Speculative Masonry, we learn to subdue the passions, act upon the square, keep a tongue of good report, maintain secrecy, and practice charity. It is so far interwoven with religion, as to lay us under obligations to pay that rational homage to the Deity, which at once constitutes our duty and our happiness. It leads the contemplative to view, with reverence and admiration, the glorious works of creation, and inspires him with the most exalted ideas of the perfection of his Divine Creator.
FOR a considerable time previous to the building of SOLOMON'S Temple, the Societies of Sidonian Architects and Builders had become celebrated throughout the ancient world. A company of these masons and architects, under the superintendence of HIRAM, the Widow's Son, was sent by the King of Tyre to SOLOMON, to assist in the erection of that stately edifice. At this period commences the history of Masonry among the Jews. Thus introduced into Judea, it flourished greatly under the protection of SOLOMON and some of his successors; but it was also, in the course of years,
subject to bitter persecutions, gross misrepresentations, and fierce denunciations. The exclusive and stern Hebrews were slow to appreciate fully its catholic and benign spirit, and its great value as an industrial agent.
Even at this period, we have reason to believe, the Sidonian Order was not entirely an operative society, but rather was a mixed body, consisting of both operative and speculative Masons. In the formation of its rituals, it had drawn largely on the Rites of the Orphic, Cabirian, and Isianic Mysteries. The speculative character finally triumphed over the operative, and the ancient Order of Hiram was transformed into the Order of the Essen, or Breast-plate, or the Essenian Brotherhood.
At an early period the Sidonian Masons had planted their societies in Rome, and in the reign of NUMA POMPUAUS were highly favored by that monarch. These societies were there known under the name of Colleges of Builders and Artificers. After Christianity had subdued the pagan world, these "Colleges of Builders," or societies of Operative Masons, were engaged in erecting cathedrals, churches, and other public edifices, and continued, in unbroken succession, down to A. D. 1717. In 1459 they held a general convention of the Crafts at Ratisbon, and decided to institute a Grand Lodge at Strasburg, and that the architect of that cathedral, for the time being, should be, ex officio, Grand Master.
These Lodges also preserved the ancient rituals, which gave them a speculative or philosophical character; and thus we find that the history of the Order of Operative Masons in Europe reproduces that of Sidonian Masonry in ancient Judea. As that Order culminated in the Essenian Brotherhood, so the Order of Operative was in 1717 transformed into that of Speculative Masonry.
That Speculative Masonry is the offspring of the ancient corporations of Builders and Masons, there cannot be a doubt. It possesses all the venerable forms of those old societies, their rituals, and their language of signs and symbols. The instruments of the builder's art—the Gavel, Twenty-four-inch Gauge, Trowel, Level, Plumb, Square, Compasses, Spade, Setting-Maul, etc.—it retains, and applies them to moral uses. They have become the most significant and instructive of emblems. All Freemasons are familiar with their symbolical interpretations, and appreciate their beauty and the force of their teaching. The Free or Speculative Mason is also a builder, but not of material edifices. He is, or should be, the constructer of a Temple, more glorious than that of SOLOMON—
a Temple of Virtue, of Honor, of Charity, Purity, and Knowledge; and these implements of the Operative Mason's art, in their emblematic use, indicate the labors he is to execute, the dangers he is to encounter, and the preparations he is to make in the great work of uprearing that spiritual fabric wherein his soul may find peace for evermore.
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This section also refers to the origin of the Jewish Sabbath, as well as to the manner in which it was kept by our ancient brethren.
In six days GOD created the heaven and the earth, and rested upon the seventh day; the seventh, therefore, our ancient brethren consecrated as a day of rest from their labors, thereby enjoying frequent opportunities to contemplate the glorious works of creation, and to adore their great Creator.
THE six days of creation are technically known among Freemasons as the "Grand Architect's Six Periods." These important periods in the world's history may be more particularly illustrated as follows:
Before the Almighty was pleased to command this vast world into existence, the elements and materials of creation lay blended together without distinction or form. Darkness was on the face of the great deep, and the spirit of GOD moved on the surface of the waters. The Almighty, as an example to man, that all things of moment should be done with due deliberation, was pleased to be six days in commanding it from chaos to perfection. The first instance of his supreme power was made manifest by commanding light; and being pleased with this new operation, he distinguished it by name, calling the light DAY, and the darkness he called NIGHT. And, in order to keep this same framed matter within just limits.
the second day was employed in laying the foundations for the heavens, which be called firmament, designed to keep the waters that were within the clouds, and those beneath them, asunder. Ou the third day, he commanded those waters within due limits, and dry land appeared, which he called EARTH; and the mighty congregated waters he called SEA. The earth being yet irregular and barren, GOD spoke the word, and it was immediately covered with a beautiful carpet of grass, designed as pasture for the brute creation. Trees, shrubs, and flowers of all sorts, succeeded in full growth, maturity, and perfection. On the fourth day, the two grand luminaries, the SUN and moots, were created; the sum to rule the day, and the MOON to govern the night. And the sacred historian informs us that they were ordained for signs, seasons, days, and years, The Almighty was also pleased to bespangle the ethereal concave of heaven with a multitude of stars, that man, whom he intended to make, might contemplate thereon, and justly admire his majesty and glory. On the fifth day, he caused the waters to bring forth a variety of fish for our use; and, in order to imprint on the mind of man a reverential awe of his divine omnipotence, he created the other inhabitants of the mighty deep, which multiplied exceedingly after their kind. On the same day, the Almighty caused the birds to fly in the air, that man might delight his eyes and ears—with some for their beautiful plumage, and others for their melodious notes.
On the sixth day, he created the beasts of the field and the reptiles which crawl on the earth. And here we may plainly perceive the wisdom, power, and goodness of the Grand Geometrician of the Universe, made manifest throughout the whole of his proceedings. He produced what effects he pleased without the aid of their natural causes—such as giving light to the world before he created the sun and moon, and making the earth fruitful without the influence of the heavenly bodies. He did not create the beasts of the field until he had provided sufficient herbage for their support; neither did he create man until be had furnished him with a dwelling, and every thing requisite for life and pleasure. Then, to dignify the work of his hands still more, ho made man, who came into the world with greater pomp than any creature which preceded him. They came but with a single command. GOD spake the word, and it was done. But at the formation of man, we are told, there was a consultation, in which GOD said, Let us make man. He was immediately formed out of the dust of the earth. The breath of life
was blown into his nostrils, and man became a living soul. In this one creature, there is a combination of every thing throughout the whole creation—such as the quality and substance of an animate being, the life of plants, the senses of beasts; but, above all, the understanding of angels; formed after the immediate image of GOD, thereby intimating to him that integrity and uprightness should ever influence him to adore his Creator, who has so liberally bestowed on him the faculty of speech, and further endued him with that noble instinct called REASON. The Almighty, as his last and best gift to man, created WOMAN. Under his forming hand, the creature grew—man-like, but of different sex—so lovely fair, that what seemed fair in all the world, seemed now mean: all in her summed up—in her contained. On she came, led by her Heavenly Maker, though unseen, yet guided by his voice, adorned with all that heaven could bestow to make her amiable.
The Almighty, having finished the sixth day's work, rested on the seventh. He blessed, hallowed, and sanctified it. He thereby taught man to work industriously six days, but strictly commanded him to rest on the seventh, the better to contemplate on the beautiful works of creation—to adore him as their Creator—to go into his sanctuaries, and offer up praises for life and every blessing he so amply enjoys at his bountiful hands.
122:* Freemasonry is to be considered as divided into two parts—the Operative and Speculative; and these are again subdivided—that is, Craft Masonry—into three distinct branches: the Manual, the Instrumental, and the Scientific. The Manual consists of such parts of business as are performed by hand-labor alone, or by the help of some simple instruments, the uses whereof are not to be learned by any problems or rules of art, but by labor and practice only; and this is more particularly applicable to the brethren of the first degree, called Entered Apprentices.