The Beginning of Masonry (Chapter)

The writer is a firm believes in the extreme antiquity of the speculative philosophy now known to the world as Freemasonry. He credits it with a continuous and unbroken existence extending in one form or another over a period of at least 6,000 years. All the groundwork connecting the mid-period history of Freemasonry with the Dionysiac artificers, the Collegia Romana, the Comacine architects, the medieval temple and cathedral builders, etc., may be conceded without argument and is probably correct-but none of it goes far enough. Only sentimental reasons have ever been given for these associations of mystic architects and builders, while most writers take it blandly for granted that the average mortar mixer of ancient days was a learned mystic as well. Friendship, morality, and brotherly love have doubtless played great and inspiring parts in cementing such numbers of brethren of the rule and plumb; but they have been the consequences, not the incentives, of such unions. These noble attributes ruled in but not over them.

Freemasonry has to a certain extent shared the fate and followed the course of all organizations of like weight and character, in completely surviving all recollection of its primal impulse; but we must consider that its founders were dealing with a system of perpetuating truth by means of imperishable symbols, and that they must have originally foreseen that this system would survive without the aid of either written record or graphic key to its mysteries. If we are able to justify this by proving that such a system might be started at this or any other age of the world, we shall make no incredible statement in averring that such was the beginning of our ancient craft. Every phrase of our ritual is fraught with such meaning; every obligation is couched in phraseology that admits of no other construction.

Freemasonry possesses the most stupendous and awe-inspiring secret ever imparted by revelation of Deity to mankind. It is not, however, an unknowable or unknown secret. It is the precious heritage of Freemasonry’s greatest existing antagonist, the Church of Rome, of the Sufi of Mohammedanism, the Druse of Syria, the Pareses and Brahmans of India and the Lamas of Tibet. It was the mystery of the ancient Magi, of the founders of the faiths of Babylonia and Assyria, of Egypt and Phoenicia, of Greece and Rome, of the Druids of Gaul, the Mithraics of Persia, the patriarchs of the Jews, and the sponsors of Christianity. Only the modern Masonry of the western world ignores it. intoning over and over again the subtle keywords that should serve to unlock the hidden treasure to every initiate, passing incessantly in review the symbolic secrets that exacted the homage of the builders of the Pyramids and were still known to a select few among the founders of the modern craft in the 18th century, without knowing the occult sense of that which it idly repeats.

No oath nor obligation today hedges about the onetime deepest wisdom that man was able to attain – a wisdom that even the lapse of ages and majestic strides of modern science have failed to render obsolete; for it is all science in one, the law of harmony that rules the universe. This was the science of “thrice-great” Hermes, of Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Pythagoras, and Jesus, proclaimed by each: to those who could understand the language in which it was permitted them to reveal and which may, even now, be interpreted to the worthy and well qualified.

If this secret have any message for our time and conditions greater than it has ever borne to humanity, it is the much needed lesson of the end of all controversy in the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God. It is more than a sentiment, more than a chance or a coincidence, this wedding of a pure religious contemplation of an only true and living God to the materials, tools, and implements of architecture, this undeviating adherence to the ritualism of a mishandled race, which of all peoples of the earth, has preserved and handed down the notion of Deity as a Shepherd of Lambs and a Divine Patron of Architecture addressing his holy prophets in the language, sometimes of one and sometimes of the other.

It is in the age-long absence of anything like systematic pursuit of the clues arising from these facts that Freemasonry has become a sort of intellectual no-man’s land, open to the assaults of the wildest conjecture and most trivial speculation.

On this latter basis, almost exclusively, has the literature of the craft been built up. It is only within the last few years that have appeared a few well-considered studies of the more salient phases which have not been intended to prop up some improbable theory. The mathematical, geometrical, architectural, astronomical, and other pointed allusions of our ritual have been well recognized and ably commented upon; but most of them are biblical in origin, and it has not seemed to occur to the commentators that a day was approaching when our Great Light, as well, would reveal still greater truths than were perceived by our forefathers, from literal interpretation of cabalistic texts destroyed by translation into foreign tongues.

It is therefore obvious that there can be no successful Masonic research that is not also biblical research, reverently and patiently conducted, for the purpose of ascertaining the precise connecting links that have raised up, in addition to innumerable religious bodies, an auxiliary organization counting its votaries by the million which, while disavowing sectarianism, is nevertheless one of the most militant, persistent, and potent factors for the uplift of humanity and the perpetuation of divine worship that the world has ever known.

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