The Masonic Trowel

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By Bro. Isaac Head

A Lecture delivered in Cornwall, England, in 1752, before Lodge No. 151

As I have the honor of being distinguished by a badge of office in this regularly constituted Lodge, I have made choice of this opportunity to assure you that I will use my best endeavors to execute the trust that you have reposed in me with freedom, fervency, and zeal: and I beg the favor of your attention for a few minutes, while I exhort you to consider, with a becoming seriousness, some useful hints which concern all of us. And first, I beg leave to recommend an unwearied diligence and assiduity in the great work wherein you are immediately concerned, to be upon your guard at all times, and on all occasions, especially before strangers, who will certainly watch every opportunity to extract from you that secret which has for ages and generations been hid from those who are unqualified to receive it. The proper observance and diligent execution of this part of your duty will recommend you to the notice of the world in general, and the regard of this Lodge in particular.  

Be ye also careful, my brethren, to avoid every action which has the least tendency to brand you with the odious name and character of a covetous man, which our holy brother the Apostle Paul, has with great reason declared to be idolatry. For what, my brethren, can be expected from the man who makes gold his hope, and places his confidence in his riches? what! but that he will be deaf to the cries of the destitute orphan, and intreaties of the distressed widow? Let the contrary disposition prevail with us, and let not our charity be circumscribed within a narrow circle; but like that glorious luminary which opens the day, dispense its kindly influence to all around us. Indeed, if we are good Masons, we cannot be capable of abusing the means with which Providence has supplied us to do good unto all men, as opportunity shall offer, and in a more especial manner the miserable and distressed. These are objects which not only deserve our commisseration, but also claim relief at our hands; let the grand principles of brotherly love, relief, and truth, at all times distinguish us in the world, and ever prevail amongst us. This compassionate temper cannot fail of obtaining the love and esteem of all good and wise men; and, what is of infinitely greater importance, the approbation of that gracious Being whose favor is better than life.  

Let us also be resolutely fixed in the great duty of sobriety, and not suffer liquor to get the ascendency of our reason; it is reason, my brethren, informs us that we are creatures every way adapted to and fitted for society; and that God has given us knowledge and understanding superior to other beings on the habitable globe, who all tend by a natural impulse to answer in their respective spheres the end of their creation; and shall the creatures thus fulfil, with the greatest regularity, the different purposes to which Providence assigned them, and man, the glory of this lower world, pervert the gracious designs of his Creator in appointing proper liquids to satisfy his thirst, and exhilarate his heart, by abusing the means, and forgetting the end of their appointment, use them beyond the bounds of moderation, and thereby render himself equal, I had/ almost said inferior to the beastly swine? Did we but rightly and seriously consider the many mischiefs to which this vice exposes us, we should certainly be very cautious of drinking to excess, well knowing the fatal consequences which attend it, that it lays our reason asleep, and rouses the many, too often, predominant passions which disturb the mind of main.  

And whilst we are careful to avoid the shameful sin of drunkenness, let us at the same time remember that we are in duty bound to abstain from another vice, which is too common in the present age, I mean the detestable practice of swearing by, and invoking the solemn name of the great and glorious God on the most trifling occasions. This vice, my brethren, has not one motive or inducement, that I know of, to support the practice of it. Is it practised by the great vulgar? It is forbid by the positive command of an Almighty God, who is ever jealous of his, honor, and will not hold any guiltless who taketh his holy name in vain. This vice is a scandal to society, and degrades the man below the level of the brutal tribe, who all join with the feathered choir in the praises of their great Creator. Let us, if it be possible, live peaceably with all men; let us keep our passions in constant subjection; by this means we shall be enabled to demonstrate to the world that we are good men and true, that we aim at no other character than that of piety towards God, and unfeigned love to one another. Love, my brethren, is the bond of perfectness; it is this divine temper which enables us to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, and makes us like him, who is the pure and inexhaustible fountain of it. Stand fast in one spirit, and be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment; let us consider that this is a duty incumbent on us, that it is recommended to our notice and imitation by our great Leader and Exemplar, who came to seek and to save that which was lost, and laid down his life even for his enemies. What a powerful motive and inducement have we in this unparalleled instance of Divine love opened to our view for our instruction and government in this state of trial, unto which we shall do well if we take heed as unto a light shining in a dark place. And I hope there is not one member of this community who dons not endeavor, to the utmost of his power, to discharge thin duty as it behoves every good and wise man ; truly sensible of the necessity we lie under to fulfil thin great, this important part of an obligation, which is an indissoluble bond by which the particular members are united and cemented in one body. Let us support and recommend this great and laudable virtue by examples worthy the imitation of mankind. This is the moat effectual method we can pursue to silence the illnatured suggestions of the proud, the wicked, and the vain part of our species, who, though they are by no means proper to be members of our well-governed community, yet must by this means be induced (as it were forcibly) to own, and secretly to admire, the benign influence of that love and unity which naturally produce peace and harmony amongst brethren.  

I must also beg leave to recommend a proper regard to be paid to the laws, constitutions, and orders of our moat ancient and honorable fraternity, and due deference and respect to the particular officers thereof in their respective places, whose business it is to carry them into execution; and I hope the only contention among you will be a laudable emulation in cultivating the royal art, and striving to excel each other in everything which is great and good. Let us convince the unbelieving multitude that no private, sordid, or lucrative views can ever prevail upon us to admit into the number of those who are acquainted with the knowledge of our mysteries, the unworthy, the profane, or contentious part of mankind; but that we will stand fast in that liberty with which God hath blessed us, and join, with one heart, and one voice, in excluding such wolves from our peaceable fold. In a word, let all of us endeavor, in our respective stations, so to regulate our whole conduct as not to give just occasion for offence in any thing. Let us be submissive to superiors, courteous and affable to equals, kind and condescending to inferiors; and let our whole deportment testify for us that we have formed our lives upon the perfect model of God's revealed Will, exhibited to us in the Holy Bible; that this book is the basin of all our craft, and that it is by this piece of divine furniture, so essential to our society, that we are taught wisdom to contrive in all our doings such means as may conduce to His honor, and the salvation of our immortal souls; strength to support us in all difficulties and distresses; and beauty to polish the rough unhewn block of the mere natural man, and bring it into the likeness of our Maker. Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, and by an unwearied perseverence in yell-doing, put to silence the ignorance and malice of foolish men; and the wise and great will think it no disparagement to be influenced by our example, when we shall let our light shine before men, that they, seeing by our good works, may be also induced to glorify the Supreme and Almighty Architect of the universe. Let us approve ourselves faithful stewards of those things committed to our charge, that whensoever it shall please our great Creator to demand of us an account of those talents which He, in His infinite wisdom, has thought fit to bestow upon us, we may be found ready to render it up with joy, may have our loins girded up, and our lights burning, and we ourselves be as men waiting for the kingdom of God, and in that morning when the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing on his wings, we may be allotted to a house not made with hands, in the happy regions of eternal day - may hear this welcome salutation of the Redeemer in the presence of men and angels" Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful in a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things ; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." O happy day! when the faithful shall outlive the world and all its fading glories, shall see the sun, moon, and stars obliterated from the concave of heaven, and himself employed, swallowed up in the never-fading glories of a boundless eternity.

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