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wanting where such advantages are liable to be perverted for indirect purposes. But Masonic traditions stand upon much firmer ground; the chief bond of connection among Masons in all ages having been FIDELITY. It is well known that in former times, while learning remained in few hands, the ancients had several institutions for the cultivation of knowledge, concealed under doctrinal and ritual mysteries, that were sacredly withheld from all who were not initiated into a participation of the privileges they led to,
they might not be prostituted to the vulgar. Among these institutions may be ranked that of Masonry; and its value may be inferred from its surviving those revolutions of government, religion, and manners that have swallowed up the rest. And the traditions of so venerable an institution claim an attention far superior to the loose oral relations or epic songs of any uncultivated people wbatever.”10
Operative Masonry was cherished by the Egyptians, who received it from their great progenitor Mizraim," the grandson of Noah. He displayed his Masonic skill and taste for the liberal arts, by building the magnificent cities of Memphis and Thebæ Egyptiæ: the latter called by the Greeks Diospolis, and by the Jews Hammon No. We learn also from hieroglyphical inscriptions, which still exist on Egyptian monuments," that Speculative Masonry was originally known amongst that people, though afterwards deteriorated to advance a different interest—the propagation of idolatry. Our claims to antiquity, however, do not rest upon the exclusive authority of these inscriptions, though they are adduced as a corroborative proof of the existence of Masonry in the ages immediately posterior to the Flood; the principal evidences being found amongst that people who preserved the true worship of God."
10 North. Const. part 1, chap. 1.
11 This name is said by Bochart to be derived from the Syriac word town Mizra, Free.
12 The Lectures of Spineto have thrown much light on this subject. He has condensed, with great labour, a mass of inter
esting matter from the publications of the Society of Antiquaries, and of many learned individuals—the discoveries of Dr. Youngthe labours of the indefatigable Champollion—the monuments of all sorts which have been imported into England—the great collection of Egyptian Antiquities in the British Museum, and the magnificent descriptions which travellers of all nations have given of the majestic and wonderful ruins existing throughout Nubia and Egypt; and has thus rendered a service to literature which will convey his name with honour to posterity.
13 Of these inscriptions candour obliges me to remark, that their interpretation being rather equivocal, they are by no means a certain criterion of Masonic truth; particularly as the institution is founded on those leges non scripta, which are unattainable by all mankind excepting the initiated. The tropical hieroglyphic, used for general purposes, was easily comprehended ; but the subsequent introduction of the tropical symbol cast the veil of secrecy over their knowledge, and was employed for the purpose of concealing their sacred mysteries from common observation. But the tropical symbol was a very late improvement on the system of hieroglyphical writing: for the proper hieroglyphic was used many ages before the tropical symbol was invented, and possessed a significant meaning generally understood, and adapted to the same purpose as modern letters; to perpetuate a knowledge of past events, and to record the wisdom and experience of every age, for the benefit of posterity. The early hieroglyphics being of a very simple construction, their meaning was not of that doubtful character which rendered the subsequent use of enigmatic symbols so difficult of comprehension. And if Masonry Our secrets embrace, in a comprehensive manner, human science and divine knowledge; they link mankind together in the indissoluble chain of sincere affection; and, which is of far greater import, they incite to the practice of those virtues which may do much towards securing happiness in a future state. It cannot then be denied that such valuable secrets might be truly transmitted by oral tradition, when it is admitted that the idolatrous mysteries were actually transmitted through the same medium for the space of two thousand years, and only sunk into oblivion with the systems they were established to uphold. Now Christianity, or the system of salvation through the atonement of a crucified Mediator, was the main pillar of Masonry at the fall of man ; and there is, therefore, every reason to believe that it will exist until the final dissolution of all sublunary things; and shine together with perfected Christianity, in the glorified state of blessedness for ever and ever. Masonic tradition could only be pure
when united with the true worship of God; and hence it was miserably perverted amongst idolatrous
rested its claims to antiquity, as some have unlearnedly pretended, on the unlimited construction which might be given to these vague and mysterious records, it would be impossible for the most zealous and indefatigable Mason to trace the science back to the antediluvian ages, amidst the darkness of ignorance and barbarity which overspread a great portion of the globe, at various periods, and under forbidden forms, from the Deluge to the full revelation of Christianity. But the traditions of Masonry require not the feeble and adventitious aid of ancient hieroglyphics: they pos
an internal evidence of truth which no argument can supersede, no sophism overwhelm, and no incredulity can dissipate.
nations, until nothing remained, after this worship was rejected, to serve the purposes of ambition and pride, but the simple belief of the soul's existence in a future state, together with the general principles of operative Masonry. These were preserved amidst the increasing degeneracy of mankind, and their apostacy from God and true religion.
Stillingfleet lays this down as an axiom :-“ There is no certain credibility in any ancient histories which seem to contradict the Scriptures, nor any ground of reason why we should assent to them when they differ from the Bible." This observation will equally apply to Free masonry. If its traditions were in any respect opposed to religion, or its precepts at variance with the Holy Scriptures, it ought to be rejected as unworthy of credibility or attention. On this ground the cause of Masonry rests, and it is a foundation firm and immoveable as the basis of our holy faith; for nothing can be permanent, nothing successful, except it be grounded on religion. Hence, when idolatry assumed its em
14 That the early idolaters believed in a resurrection and fu. ture state, is deducible from their practice of deifying dead men ; for without a renewed existence they could not have been expected to aid their worshippers, either by conveying blessings or averting misfortunes. But we are furnished with positive authorities in proof of this fact. Herodotus informs us that the Egyptians maintained the immortality of the soul. Tully says that the wisest of the heathen philosophers taught the same doctrine; and Homer took it for granted that the soul's existence in an after state, either of misery or happiness, according to the deeds done in this life, was a doctrine universally admitted by all the world.
Orig. Sacr., l. 1, c. 1.
pire over the world, the most sublime and beautiful part of Masonry receded from the view; and when a false worship degenerated into little better than atheism, it became obscured amidst the same mazes of intellectual darkness, and, like certain mysterious secrets, was lost to heathen nations; until, by the practice of Operative Masonry, in building an actual edifice to the true God, future ages recovered it.
As a man loses not his reason, sensibility, or activity of intellect by the loss of a limb, so Masonry, though, amidst the increasing atheism of the world, it suffered the loss of many noble members, was never wholly obliterated. Enfeebled by the degeneracy of mankind amongst apostate nations, its essence was nevertheless preserved by that small race of men who adhered to the genuine worship of God. Hence, though one of its general grand divisions sunk with the knowledge of God, the other suffered no material deterioration; because, when the former was finally restored by Jesus Christ, the latter, having received accessions of strength in almost every age, was in the maturity of its vigour and excellence.
Masonry was known and practised under the name of Lux, or its equivalent in all languages used since the creation; and they who search for its existence, in its true and spiritual form, amongst idolatrous operative Masons in the early ages of the world, may expend much time to a fruitless purpose, and help to confound our science with many systems at variance with its great and prominent designs, though apparently founded on the same basis. It