PRONOUNCED AT MONTREAL, (LOWER CANADA,)
ANNIVERSARY OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST,
JUNE 24, A. L. 5812.
By Bro. Benjamin Gleason, A. M.
"Hail! generous, glorious Masonry, "Which makes man good, kind, great, and free."
"Homo est "Nexus utriusque tnundi."
"Man is the connecting link, in the great chain of creation."
SECOND EDITION, BOSTON: PUBLISHED BY JAMES SCOTT, No. 10, STATE-STREET.
Watson & Bangs, Printers, 1812.
The following Address was written at short notice, in a few hours, at the special request of the R. W. Master and Brethren of St. Paul's Lodge, No. 12, by Bro. B. Gleason, then on a visit to Montreal. On the anniversary of St. John, it was pronounced before the Brethren of St. Paul's Lodge, No. 12, and Union Lodge, No. 8, in the city of Montreal. Elegant entertainments were provided, and good fellowship prevailed. Many Gentlemen visitors attended, and to several companies of Ladies and Gentlemen, it was afterwards read.
A generous approbation was bestowed on this performance; by special request, a copy was left at Montreal, for the press; and to gratify the Brethren of Massachusetts, who, by an ample subscription, solicit its republication, a Second Edition is now presented, to the respected members and friends of our benevolent institution. The sentiments inculcated and illustrated, in this production, are Benevolence and Industry: may none but affectionate eyes and hearts investigate the same. Criticism may be at rest— let Friendship only adjudge its merits.
Particular thanks are rendered the Brethren of Montreal, for kindnesses, which do them honor.
THE CITY OF MONTREAL
Is situated on an island, in the river St. Lawrence, within the British possessions, in North America. The whole island is said to be nine leagues in length, and three in breadth; the soil fertile, and the air wholesome. "It was surrendered by the French, in 1760, to the English, by a capitulation, by which all Canada was likewise ceded." The city and suburbs take the name of the island are built on the side of the river, having the Mountain westwardly, in a back-ground perspective, perhaps a mile distant, to which the French attached the name of Mont Royale.
The streets are open, and mostly regular, rising in an easy ascent from the river St. Lawrence. The city has a good, and rather a formidable appearance, the houses being entirely of stone, the shutters, &c. of iron, the tops are mostly covered with untarnished tin, and many of the buildings are not only durable, but elegant; the great Church, College, Court-House, Gaol, &c. are of this description.
The soldiers' barracks are at what is called the Citadel, the Gate, and other parts of the city. The Parade is an elevated ground. There are two markets, and at the head of the New-Market, is a superb monument of Nelson; his figure, in ample size, is placed on the top ; and around the base, in relievo, characteristic representations of naval victory, &c. with suitable inscriptions. There are three suburbs, extending from the city, West, North, and South. The whole population judged to be 5000. 180 miles S. W. from Quebec: 310 N. W. from Boston. Lat. about 46° N. and long. 72° W.
Worthy and honored Companions, Much respected Brethren:—
Assembled, as we are, on this pleasing and hallowed occasion, to celebrate the anniversary of our illustrious patron, St. John the Baptist; it is our peculiar privilege ; in whatever hemisphere we meet, from the golden portals of the East, to the ample and brilliant gates of the West and South— under whatever Sun our generous Labors may have been performed — and around whatever altars we associate, consecrating the rites and mysteries of our permanent Affiliation — it is indeed our peculiar privilege to lose the name of Stranger, in the endearing and honorable appellation of Brother. It is our privilege to keep the joyous Jubilee,on this returning anniversary day, with festivity and delight; to indulge ourselves, like the workmen of the ancient glorious temple, when they ceased from their labors — in song, sentiment, and social-loving mirth: to inspire our hearts, with the amiable love of virtue, and the laudable practice of Benevolence: to have three times three thousand thrills of generous sensations possess our bosoms, vibrating to the remotest pulsations of sensibility: to do honor to the Craft, by exhibiting our Principles, like a strong Citadel, venerable for its massive bulwarks and lofty towers, indurated and invincible through immemorial years; whose outworks are all firm and secure, whose guards are numerous and powerful, whose ramparts are formidable and proof to assault, whose battlements are adorned, like the glorious "Plains of Abraham," richly and triumphantly, with the sprigs of laurel, and the wreaths of everlasting honor and glory.
Such shall be this day to us :— let this day thus be consecrated.
Free Masonry is emphatically called the "School of all the virtues." Its original design was unquestionably such; it should indeed, my Brethren, be always so, — the nursery of Virtue, and the seminary of the Sciences ; and would be so, could we, with effective influence, inscribe upon tbe two magnificent Columns, reared in front of the masonic edifice, interwreathing their rich emblems and ornaments, the lilly-work, net-work and pomegranates—those two illustrious maxims of the ancients,
"Procul, O procul este profani."
The first teaching,to "know thyself," a maxim so venerable, that it was inscriptively displayed, on the front of the temple of Delphos, and was said to have descended from Heaven, from Apollo, and the gods ("e coelo descendit.") The second, importing, "Approach not, ye prophane— but at a distance," — a sentiment much in use, in elder times, that the sacred rituals of our Order should not he witnessed, by unhallowed eyes; nor debased, by unconsecrated hands; were the emblems and inscriptions of the Craft, in our times, thus effectively influential — our labors in the grand Temple of Love would be displayed in purity and brilliancy; our fellowship would be one and uninterrupted ; and we should well deserve the approbation of the poet, who, in offering just encomiums, to our excellent institution, observes—
To works of Art, her merit's not confin'd,
She regulates the morals, squares the mind;
Corrects, with care, the tempest-working soul,
And points the tide of passions how to roll;
Forms all our principles by Virtue's rule,
And constitutes her Lodge, a universal School.
Yes, we should do more,— we should do justice to our profession, by the most amiable conduct, affectionate sympathies, and exemplary transactions; and as our works would follow us, the admiration of the world would follow them, in all their beneficent operations; and the blessing of Him, whose name we pronounce not, but with the utmost reverence and adoration, His all-propitious blessing would be with us, even as the radiant blazing-star under the beaming and divergent rays of the Jill-Seeing Eye, on the chequered Mosaic work; and that blessing would be our continual felicity.
Benevolence is the best of all our professional virtues, because it is the most God-like, and I cannot pass this favorable moment, without expatiating on its superior excellence. It is pictured among our masonic emblems, a Ladder, whose ascending steps are Faith, Hope and Charity, and like Jacob's ladder, in the vision of Bethel, its top reaches even unto Heaven. It is, by the principles of Benevolence, that free-masonry has acquired its exalted reputation. It is by the practice of this Virtue, that its meliorating and honorable influence has spread and extended, throughout the habitable globe. It is, by this invaluable testimony, that our hearts unite, in the bands of fraternal affection. It is, by this inestimable Charter of privileges, that we engage in our professional exercises of Philanthropy and Devotion — Love to God, and Love to Man, being the inculcated duties of our holy Religion, explicitly contained in that sacred volume, which is "the rule and guide of our faith,"— these are the ground-work, the cement and the glory of that noble superstructure, which is here highly emblematical to us of that grand temple far away— "not made with hands — which is eternal in the Heavens."
Preserve this sacred and honorable Principle, my worthy Brethren, unsoiled, by the contaminations of impurity ; let it be as the fair sheet of Innoeence impressed by inviolable Honor(1); – as the bright chart of Virtue delineated by the hands of Industry and Truth(2); as the bounteous soil of value producing human blessings—"some sixty, some eighty, some an hundred fold;(3) let it be as "the sacred Incense, which burns day and night, before the holy altar ;"(4) and "as this glows with fervent heat, so may our hearts continually glow with gratitude" and beneficence — our most reasonable and acceptable service, to Him, for all bis multiplied and munificent favors, who is "good to all, and whose tender mercies are over all his works."
Note 1: According to the opinion of many writers, the human mind in infancy and innocence, is like fair blank paper — capable of receiving any impression — how great then should be the solicitude of parents, in "rearing the tender thought," and furnishing their offspring, "in the nurture and admonition" of love, with the fruitful benefits of a truly virtuous education.
Note 2: Wisdom's ways are pleasantness, and all her paths are peace"— —Truth directs therein, by the most faithful representations: but without Industry, no one can ever ascend, to the exalted eminence of Virtue.
Note 3: Vide Evangelists.
Note 4: In allusion to the mystic ceremonies of the superior degrees in Masonry; wherein piety, purity, benevolence, &c. are beautifully exemplified by the most striking emblems.
Mark well the generous cause I advocate, for it is to us the Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty of our profession, in all their loveliest exhibitions.
Observe the interesting scenes delineated, as drawn from real life ;— they affix a lustre perennial and glorious, on our venerable Institution :—how great is Virtue thus engaged, in the generous sympathies of life, cultivating, promoting, and diffusing advantages, blisses and blessings to the world.
Hast thou seen decrepid Old Age leaning on the crutch ; the hoary head bending beneath the weight of years, and the firm, hardy and athletic powers of man reduced, with the waste of life, to frail infirmity? Hast thou seen the hoar frost of Time, scattered upon those brows, which even yet appear the two thrones of intelligence and contentment, while the faithful dog, with watchful aspect, sits smiling approbation in his master's face ?—This is the work of Benevolence : Age hath found a friend, in the bosom of a Brother, and still is happy; the years of the aged, under the guardianship of fraternal affections, thus placidly decline, like a cloudless sun, leaving the world to regret the loss of its cheering beams. So Masonry cheers the hard and rugged paths of life, and smoothes the passage to the silent tomb.
Hast thou known an amiable and lovely Youth— to be decoyed by the seductive villain— to leave her parents' home, to forsake the kind friends of her early years— to become profligate, helpless, and abandoned; to become the outcast of society, "for the unmoving finger of scorn to point at?" Thy Benevolence has saved her;— the villainy is retorted on the aggressor's head; — the virtuous daughter is restored to parental love — shares the affections of a worthy partner; and "till memory shall lose its mental seat," her gratitude and her happiness will be unceasing.
Hast thou seen the little Orphan Boy, whose infant years no guardian hand sustained? Hast thou seen a thoughtless world, and all the world of fashion pass heedless by, nor once attend to his imploring voice? or if a look should fall askance, but say, " 'tis pity.'" If thou hast seen this, thou never yet hast seen thine own benevolent Institution neglect that little orphan child ; — he is the child of thy Brother, and Masonry teaches— "do thy duty."
Hast thou seen the ship-wrecked Mariner just escaped, by arduous struggles, from the conflicting tempest, and all the dread tumult of the elements in motion? Hast thou seen him on his last plank, in solemn devotion, a monument of despair;— heard his availing signal, and seen his mystic sign of distress? Then hast thou saved him from the o'erwhelming waves, and rescued him from the impending destruction : for thy Brother could not suffer thus—could not do this, and thou be able, but upon the principles of thy Benevolence, thou wouldst save him, for his wife, for his children and for his country; or sink with him, in the same common grave.
Once more— indulge me— for this gallery of portraits, while it exhibits the passing scenes of human life, demonstrates the advantages of that profession, which teaches us Virtue and Beneficence— "to subdue the passions— to act upon the square— to keep a tongue of good report— to maintain secrecy, and to practice Charity ;"— to offer rational devotion to Heaven, and to make that devotion acceptable, by a sincere, a grateful, and a benevolent heart.
Hast thou seen the widowed Mother, surrounded by her offspring ;— her little orphan children soliciting, with tears, the necessary comforts of life:— the mother's kisses and persuasion proffered as a substitute for bread;— the mother herself, in privations, reduced to beggary? Hast thou heard their solicitations — known their wants, and witnessed their sufferings? Then hast thou been the herald messenger of peace and happiness to them; —the widow and the fatherless children of thy deceased Brother can never cry in vain: thy respected Lodge heard their petition — listened with interest to thy pleadings for Charity; gave with liberal hands extended, as from the regions of the heart; made thee the welcome bearer of their dispatches, with the "corn, wine and oil" of their liberality, and changed the scene of gloom to the bright, perspective realities of happiness.
Such is the power of masonic Benevolence :— like the Philosopher's Stone, it turns to gold whatever it touches: may it never be abused ;— may it never be shrouded in deformity—to become like Medusa's head— which turned every tiling to stone that looked upon it. Remember Minerva's polished and prevailing shield, and use its virtues well.
These are the doctrines of the Apostle St. John, your "Christian patron;" who, in the essence if all his instructions, inculcated this Benevolence — recommending, in the most solemn and affectionate injunctions, a sacred Charge, that we should "love one another;"— nor should any change in the condition of human life, make us forget that we are Brethren—children of that same great Parent, whose love and goodness, like his Omniscience, is every where visible, throughout the double worlds of his terrestrial and celestial creation. The square, level and plumb, which are considered the first Jewels of a Mason, the working implements of a Craftsman, and the peculiar emblems of a Master, with many others duly selected and appropriate, teach the morality, equality and rectitude of life, necessary to be incorporated, with all our Christian and humane duties ; may we properly appreciate their value; and as we understand their import, may we ever hold them in high and respectable estimation: For as (he few alphabetical and numeral characters, used by the English nation, embody our whole language.and embrace the vast and extensive subjects of all the Sciences— so should the jewels, implements and emblems of our Fraternity import to us, in our great circle of fellowship throughout the world, the unceasing duties of Morality, Religion and Virtue:— that we should never be remiss, but active; never tardy, but prompt; never delinquent, but energetic;— never ambiguous, but worthy and sincere ;— never reluctant, but greatly ambitious to produce, to promote and to perpetuate the genuine good, intended in our immemorial and exalted Institution : may our emblems and labors thus be assimilated, in a mutual correspondence, from the ground-floor to the Sanctum Sanctorum— and from the cornerstone to the grand canopy and capstone of the masonic Edifice.
Even the Ceremonies of initiation, to our several grades and degrees, are substantially important;—as conveying, with all our Traditions, pleasing and interesting moral lessons— highly descriptive of the eventful and busy scenes of life, and thus richly worthy of our reflection:— in a mental retrospection, through the long range of traditional communications, we explore, as it were, the ample volumes of Time, and trace, in miniature, the multitudinous transactions of the world. These things are, for the wise, to consider. On the subject of our Lectures, we notice with pleasure, this day, the venerable Preston of England, whose Illustrations of Masonry redound to the honor of the Craft — and whose estimable system of improvements —while with precision and certainty, they define,— with purity and elegance, aggrandize the immovable Landmarks of our ancient Society.
May we duly estimate the advantages, privileges and improvements we possess— which, according to our directing Monitor, are numerous and important, and according to the Sacred Book, are "Instructions in Righteousness," that we should "be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works," thus in the school of social Benevolence, learning to "walk uprightly before God and man, squaring our actions by the square of virtue, ever remembering that we are travelling on the level of time, to that undiscovered country, from whose bourne no Traveller returns."
By a faithful and constant attention to those improvements, for the attainment of which we are, made capable, and have infinite excitements and directions,— we obtain wisdom, "get understanding"—are qualified for pre-eminence, and are eligible to distinctions and honor;— if true wisdom is
"To see all others faults, and feel our own."
Let us spread the broad mantle of Charity over the failings of a Brother;—" seek peace with all men ;"— be anxious and industrious to do good ;—in one word, let us, at all times, cultivate those social and benevolent affections, which, while they do honor to our nature, are the glory of our Institution.
A most important duty of Benevolence is the forgiveness of injuries and enemies. Among injuries, next to overt acts and crimes, Slander is perhaps the most base, hateful and detestable, in the whole catalogue of human depravity; but for this injury, forgiveness is the best antidote,—the very best, to blunt the weapons of Envy, and nullify the envenomed shafts of Slander.
Of overt acts and crimes, they neither require our resentment, or forgiveness ; they are ever within the cognizance of those excellent English Laws, which are respectfully designated and noticed, by Sir William Jones, as "the improving collected labors of some thousand years."
Of enemies, the only situation in which man, with some, justifiable appearance, is considered the enemy of man, is in War; hut how excellent is that benevolence, which is inculcated in the most forcible and impressive manner, by symbols, emblems, and interesting representations, in our immemorial Institution— taught also by our blessed Saviour, to his disciples, that we should forgive even our Enemies.
Hence, "Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth," predominating as the "tenets of our profession,"— the faggots have been scattered from the stake, where the pinioned victim, with excruciating torture, was to have been immolated; the avenging hand of resentment has been stayed; the imprisoned captive has been liberated;— at the signal of the suffering Brother, who was thus rescued, by virtue of the munificent benefits in Masonry!
Has not the day of battle arrived, and the brave warrior, on his proud steed, mid the clangor of arms and shouts of conquest, advanced triumphant to victory ? Has not the imploring Brother, making himself known, in distress, been spared, even on the ensanguined field of carnage,— while yet the reeking bayonet was raised to pierce his valiant heart? Not only spared, but protected, from suffering, from insult and from danger, by the friendship of one, no longer now his boasted conquering enemy,—he is a "Brother." and Masonry thus makes Brothers of us all:— for the scenes of jeopardy,—imminent trials and dangers, these are the most conspicuous fields of display, to evince the loyalty of our profession, and to exhibit those generous and sacred affections, which cement our mystic union, and bind our hearts together forever.
May this sublime virtue ever be the boast and pride of our Fraternity.— To those, who are heedless and neglectful, much might be. said, by way of inducement to frame their hearts, agreeably to the lines, rules and precepts of the Royal Art ;— but, in brief, we offer only one Memento. This illustrious nation affords the most liberal and honorary patronage, to all the Arts and Sciences, especially to Masonry ; and connected, with the first Order of her respected country, is this admonitory motto,
Honi soit qui mal y pense
Evil be to him, who evil thinks."
A double allusion is here intended—
- 1st, To the "Order of the Star and Garter"—instituted by Edward 3d, King of England, A. D. 1350. (See English History.)
- 2nd, To the distinguishing and honorable badge of Masonry, an emblem of Innocence, and a "praise to them who do well"—and therefore, "if worthily worn," considered pre-eminent, as being "more ancient than the Golden Fleece, or the Roman Eagle" — "more honorable than the Star and Garter. &c, (See Masonic Constitutions.)
Next to Benevolence, which includes almost, every virtue, that can be named on the splendid pages of Masonic history, I would recommend Industry, the importance of which, among our various emblems, is well illustrated, by the gavel and gauge, presented to the Apprentice; the plumb,square, and level to the Craftsman; the trowel), and other valuable implements to the Master; the chisel, the mallet, &c. but particularly the Bee-Hive, a striking emblem, recommending the practice of this virtue, with the utmost persuasion and rationality. Let us, my Brethren, be attentive to all their valuable instructions, in Morality ; that we may, with generous emulation, strive "who best can work, and who best agree;" that we may rival each other, in excellence^ and the active cultivation of all the virtues ; that Heaven may smile upon oar Labors, approving and applauding our Industry and Benevolence; that others, seeing our good works may "go and do likewise:"— that our fair Sisters may give us their smiles, their approbation and blessing, and do us honor ; and as they share our society and our sincere affections, generously acknowledge,
"No mortals can more
The Ladies adore,
Than a free and an accepted Mason."
Two substantial reasons are offered, why Ladies are not admitted to the Fraternity of Free-Masons ;— the one is, that our labors all bear a masculine complexion;— that man is therefore the only proper agent to be engaged, in the responsible interests of our Masonic Fellowship ; and hence, that it would be as inconsistent, and improper, for our lovely and amiable female friends to become Masons, according to the prescriptive customs of the world, as to be farmers, mechanics or merchants,— soldiers in a campaign, mariners on the ocean, or the legislators of a country. Another, and what is adjudged a much more plausible reason, is, that although Masonry "teaches to subdue the passions," it is however evident that our Supreme Master has implanted, in our hearts, under the guidance of Reason, the most ardent passions and tender sensibilities, susceptible sometimes, even in the extreme ; then it is asked, as a question ; who being man, replete with humanity, could be in the presence of Nature's loveliest charms; of Nature's fairest workmanship, and not forget and even neglect, for love and tender friendship, the work, and duties, and emblems, indeed all of Masonry?—for LoveI
To be wise, virtuous and happy, are the three grand secrets of Masonry : hence it is said "every good man is a mason: although every mason may not be a good man:" hence our affectionate connexion, with the good St. John, and the worthy of every age and nation: hence the illustrious Washingtons, and Franklins,— the Nelsons and Wellingtons of the present age, Princes and their Peers have done our profession honor.
It is now, my respected Brethren, our bounden duty to preserve unsullied the glorious reputation of the Craft. May we be instant, in every time and season, to do good. "Fear God and keep his Commandments"— this is not only "the conclusion of the whole matter," but it is "the whole duty of man."
Finally, Brethren, "be ye all of one mind, live in peace, and may the God of love and peace delight ever to dwell with, and to bless you."
So mote it be!
In Virtue thus be our delight,—
Religion, Reason, Nature, Law;
'Till Brothers,—Sisters all unite,
In that Grand Lodge, that's far awa'."
Response.— So mote it be.
– "The Masons' Adieu."