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On Masonic Tradition
tion of the World to the time of Enoch 26
On the spurious, as contrasted with the true
CHAPTER VII. On Symbolical Instruction.......
to the deliverance from Egyptian Captivity 184
Dedication of King Solomon's Temple ... 255
FRE E-M A S O N R Y.
On Masonic Tradition.
6 The true stress of tradition lies in an appeal to the common sense of all mankind. It is a reliance upon the testimony of men, considered as men, and not as persons of this or that people or persuasion, actuated by principles implanted in that nature which the whole species partake of, and not influenced by the power of such as are peculiar to any particular community or religion.”!
On this principle have the traditions of Masonry been transferred from father to son, along with the knowledge of God's eternal existence and the im
mortality of the soul. Before the time of Moses tradition could scarcely err, and that legislator modelled Masonry into so perfect a system, and circumscribed its mysteries by land-marks so significant and unalterable, that from him its transmission was little liable to perversion or error. The length of life, in the early ages of the world, was such, that oral tradition in general might be safely relied on, proceeding to Amram, the father of Moses, as it did, from Joseph, who received it from Isaac, who received it from Abraham, to whom it was communicated by Shem, who had it from Lamech, and to Lamech it was revealed by Adam. The Samaritan Pentateuch makes the communication still more direct, by placing Adam as contemporary with Noah.
Bishop Tomline inquires, with his usual penetration and judgment :-“Could the grandchildren of
• Howard thinks it extraordinary that every remarkable event which actually occurred in the infancy of the world should have been accurately preserved by idolatrous nations, how widely soever they had departed from that peculiar people to whom the conservation of the antediluvian history was committed. A son of the first man was violently assaulted and slain by his brother, as we are told by Moses. Accordingly, other nations have a corresponding tradition. Sanchoniatho has recorded that a son of Uranus was killed by his brothers. In Diodorus we find Hesperion meets a similar fate; and the Persian annals represent Siameck, the son of Cai Amurath, the first king of Persia, as being killed by giants. (Thoughts on the Structure of the Globe, p. 229.) There is, however, nothing very extraordinary in the naked fact. The outline of the history of the antediluvian world was known to the family of Noah, and consequently to their immediate descendants, the Cuthites of Shinar. And when the language was confounded, the memory of all the principal events would remain, and be transmitted by every tribe which wandered thence to people the distant parts of the earth.
Jacob be ignorant of their own pedigree, and of the time when they came into Egypt? Can we think that so many remarkable circumstances as attended the selling and advancement of Joseph could be forgotten in so short a time? Could Jacob be ignorant whence his grandfather Abraham came, especially as he lived so long in the country himself, and married into that branch of the family which was remaining there ? Could Abraham be ignorant of the flood, when he was contemporary with and descended from Shem, one of the eight persons who escaped in the ark? Could Shem be ignorant of what passed before the flood, when Adam, the first man, lived so near the time of Noah? And could Noah be ignorant of the creation and fall of man, when he was contemporary with those who conversed with Adam ?”
Oral tradition is fairly admissible when its subject contains nothing improbable or inconsistent with Scripture or reason; and the traditions of Masonry, tried by this standard, will be possessed of irresistible claims to our belief. But in matters of religion, as we possess a book of revelation to regulate our faith and practice, it must be carefully rejected, because the Scriptures contain every thing necessary to salvation ; and the passions and contending interests of men would induce such numerous perversions, as would place our hopes on too precarious a basis. A most remarkable instance of this perversion occurs in the extraordinary oblivion of God's power and providences, as well as
3 El. of Theol., part 1, chap. 1.