General Ahiman Rezon, by Daniel Sickels, , at sacred-texts.com
An analysis of the human faculties is next given in this section, in which the FIVE EXTERNAL SENSES particularly claim attention.
The senses we are to consider as the gifts of Nature, and though not the acquisition of our reasoning faculty, yet, in the use of them, are still subject to reason. REASON, properly employed, confirms the regulations of Nature, which are always true and wholesome: she distinguishes
the good from the bad; rejects the last with modesty—adheres to the first with reverence. The objects of human knowledge are innumerable; the channels by which this knowledge is conveyed are few. Among these, the perception of external things by the senses, and the information we receive from human testimony, are not the least considerable: the analogy between them is obvious. In the testimony of Nature, given by the senses, as well as in human testimony, given by information, things are signified by signs. In one as well as the other, the mind, either by original principles or by custom, passes from the sign to the conception and belief of the thing signified. The signs in the natural language, as well as the signs in our original perceptions, have the same signification in all climates and nations, and the skill of interpreting them is not acquired, but innate.
Having made these observations, we shall proceed to give a brief description of the five senses:
Is that sense by which we distinguish sounds, and are capable of enjoying all the agreeable charms of music. By it we are enabled to enjoy
the pleasures of society, and reciprocally to communicate to each other our thoughts and intentions—our purposes and desires; and thus our reason is rendered capable of exerting its utmost power and energy. The wise and beneficent Author of Nature intended, by the formation of this sense, that we should be social creatures, and receive the greatest and most important part of our knowledge from social intercourse with each other. For these purposes we are endowed with hearing, that, by a proper exertion of our rational powers, our happiness may be complete.
Is that sense by which we distinguish objects, and in an instant of time, without change of place or situation, view armies in battle array, figures of the most stately structures, and all the agreeable variety displayed in the landscape of Nature. By this sense, we find our way on the pathless ocean, traverse the globe of earth, determine its figure and dimensions, and delineate any region or quarter of it. By it we measure the planetary orbs, and make new discoveries in the sphere of the fixed stars. Nay, more, by it we perceive the tempers and dispositions, the
passions and affections of our fellow-creatures, when they wish most to conceal them; so that, though the tongue may be taught to lie and dissemble, the countenance will display the hypocrisy to the discerning eye. In fine, the rays of LIGHT which administer to this sense, are the most astonishing parts of the animated creation, and render the eye a peculiar object of admiration.
Of all the faculties, SIGHT is the noblest. The structure of the eye, and its appurtenances, evince the admirable contrivance of Nature for performing all its various external and internal motions; while the variety displayed in the eyes of different animals, suited to their several ways of life, clearly demonstrate this organ to be .the master-piece of Nature's works.
Is that sense by which we distinguish the different qualities of bodies:—such as heat and cold, hardness and softness, roughness and smoothness, figure, solidity, motion, and extension.
These three senses, Hearing, Seeing and Feeling, are deemed peculiarly essential among Masons.
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Is that sense by which we distinguish odors, the various kinds of which convey different impressions to the mind. Animal and vegetable bodies, and indeed most other bodies, while exposed to the air, continually send forth effluvia of vast subtility, as well in a state of life and growth, as in the state of fermentation and putrefaction. These effluvia, being drawn into the nostrils along with the air, are the means by which all bodies are distinguished. Hence it is evident, that there is a manifest appearance of design in the great Creator's having planted the organ of smell in the inside of that canal through which the air continually passes in respiration.
Enables us to make a proper distinction in the choice of our food. The organ of this sense guards the entrance of the alimentary canal, as that of smelling guards the entrance of the canal for respiration. From the situation of both these organs, it is plain that they were intended by Nature to distinguish wholesome food from that which is nauseous. Every thing that enters into
the stomach must undergo the scrutiny of tasting; and by it we are capable of discerning the changes which the same body undergoes in the different compositions of art, cookery, chemistry, pharmacy, etc.
Smelling and tasting are inseparably connected; and it is by the unnatural kind of life men commonly lead in society, that these senses are rendered less fit to perform their natural offices.
The proper use of these five senses enables us to form just and accurate notions of the operations of Nature; and when we reflect on the objects with which our senses are gratified, we become conscious of them, and are enabled to attend to them till they become familiar objects of thought.
On the mind all our knowledge must depend. What, therefore, can be a more proper subject for the investigation of Masons?
To sum up the whole of this transcendent measure of GOD'S bounty to man, we shall add, that Memory, Imagination, Taste, Reasoning, Moral Perception, and all the active powers of the soul, present a vast and boundless field for philosophical disquisition, which far exceeds
human inquiry, and are peculiar mysteries, known only to Nature and to Nature's GOD, to whom all are indebted for creation, preservation, and every blessing we enjoy.