Symbolical Masonry, by H.L. Haywood, , at sacred-texts.com
The Greeks, as we recall from our discussion of circumambulation, chanted an ode as the worshipper moved about the altar from left to right, for their odes were the most sacred literature in their possession; but the Master of the Masonic lodge reads from the Holy Bible as the Fellow Craft makes his mystic rounds, and that for the same reason. He on whose life's journey the Great Light sends its rays may walk confidently and cheerfully and not as those who stumble through the dark.
And it is fitting that in this connection the rays come from the prophecy of Amos, for that seer sought to bring order and light into the workaday world of men, one of the chief tasks of the Fellow Craft, who receives knowledge that he may become a social builder. Amos wrought his great work during the days of Jeroboam II, in whose reign religion had grown hard and formal, pleasure had rotted into vice, luxury had become a disease, and the aristocracy fattened on the poor. Against these conditions Amos set himself, though he was "no prophet, nor the son of a prophet," and he lashed the abuses of his people with such effective fury, that the high-ups had him banished from the kingdom. "The first great social reformer in history" Amos was no mere denunciator, but one who condemned things as they are by setting before them a picture of things as they should be.
In the graphic visions recorded in his book, Amos sets
before us a picture of Israel being judged by a plague of locusts; then follows a fire that "devoured the great deep, and had begun to devour the tilled land;" these visitations are stayed by the supplication of the prophet, and then Jehovah brings a new kind of judgment to bear on his people. As we may read in Amos’ own words; "Thus the Lord shewed me; and behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand. And the Lord said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, a plumbline. Then said the Lord, behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel; I will not pass by them any more."
This was no mere dramatic way of saying, The people had been bad; they must now be good. The lesson is no such banality as that, but cuts deeper into things. It is really a vision of an entirely new kind of judgment, for consider:—At first Jehovah chastised his people physically, as one may whip a child; later, he passed from external things into their hearts and said, In your conscience you will be judged and in your conscience you will be punished. It was just the Lord's method of plunging a sharp instrument into the naked left breast of Israel! External punishments came and passed, but when the inner standard was set up, it remained whatever came and went, and the Lord did "not pass by them any more."
Ever is this the truth of things, the law of life—that bad men are not always visited by physical evils, and that good men do not always receive material reward. This was a lesson learned by Job many centuries ago. But there is a harvest from wrongdoing that is always sure, as sure as the tides, and it is nothing other than inward corruption. To lie blunts the moral perception; to fall
into impurity beclouds the heart; to live in selfishness puts out the eyes of love, for "the wages of sin is death." Like the path of the eagle the ways of the punishment of transgression may be viewless, but they are sure, as sure as a plumbline; the universe is just, and in its laws there is neither variableness nor turning, and he that is a skilled Fellow Craft in the building tasks of life will be wise to govern himself accordingly.