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OUR ANCIENT BRETHREN TEACH US - October 07, 1993
PRESENTED TO: THUNDER BAY LODGE A.F. & A.M. No. 618 BY SHUNIAH LODGE A.F. & A.M. No. 287
THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO
A short talk given by W. Bro. B. R. Siegfried derived From a Lecture Given To Him By V.W. Bro. Bob Faithfull
OUR ANCIENT BRETHREN TEACH US
It seems almost absurd to deliver a lecture proposing to give instruction in architecture and the 1iberal arts and sciences. In this age, when, the operation of free public schools not only provides the fundamentals, but the heights of learning to the inquiring mind. But we must not lose sight of the fact that the various ceremonies of masonry have a base in the ancient usages of our fraternity, which have been transmitted unaltered to us through the ages. These teachings have a foundation in operative masonry, and while our work is only in the speculative art, we may learn invaluable lessons from our ancient brethren who truly worked in stone.
The rise of the art of operative masonry was simultaneous with the birth of society. The desire to provide shelter, to honour a deity, and to leave for posterity, in enduring stone, a record of the achievements of the day, have cal1ed forth the utmost exert ions and ski1ls in all ages. Our ancient brethren were touched by this cal1 and have left for us lasting monuments for our instruction, and indeed our admiration. These monuments form an unbroken chain connecting us to the birth of our fraternity and the very foundation of society.
Many of the great works of the past lie in open sp1endor for our inspection, others exist in b1acken and crumpled ruins, some lie buried under the debris of centuries, while of still others, not two stones lie upon each other to mark their site.
The pyramids of Egypt stand today as testaments to the skill, knowledge, and profound symbolism of their builders. The temple of King Solomon, so magnificently erected to the honour of God by our lost master Hiram Abiff, remains today but a few fragments of walls and aqueducts. The sea walls and palaces constructed by Hiram, King of Tyre, have long lain under the ruins of later bui1ders, and of the wondrous temp1e of Diana, on1y 1egend remains.
We can look with open amazement at the magnificent cathedrals of Europe and on1y wonder. Such stupendous structures as these, built in a time when knowledge was a rare gem, point to a skill in their builders, not only beyond their contemporaries, but rival1ing that of modern man. We cannot fail to acknowledge that these ancient craftsmen had something that is worthy to be learned. We teach in our symbolism and degrees the moral and specu1ative 1essons of their craft. Just as the masons that came before us we 1earn that “no man shou1d ever enter upon any great or important undertaking without first invoking the blessing of Deity”. That placing our trust in that Great Being, who rules over both heaven and earth shal1 insure that our 1ives work shal1 be established in strength, be united with peace and be exuberant with prosperity. We are taught to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and promised all things will be “added unto thee”.
The original craft lodges were a structured guild and the organization of our modern lodges is based on that structure. Through that model we learn the necessity of 1aw and order to human progress. Masonry is a symbol of the greater organization of men in society, and organization is the first essential step in the progress from savagery to civilization. We as masons comprehend the fact that as members of a lodge we have obligations, not only to ourselves, but to our brethren and to the multitude that is the greater brotherhood of man.
Like our ancient brethren, we develop our physical skills in our immediate duties. The ear must be taught to hear, the eye to see, and the hand to 1abour. These material works are balanced with a mental cultivation and education. Like the operative masons, who were always striving for advances in the art of building, we honour progress made in our specu1ative arts, whi1e at the same time jealously protecting our ancient landmarks. In this advancement we soon realize that the knowledge of God is both the beginning and end of wisdom and to attain divine truth is our greatest reward.
The greatest truth handed down to us by our ancient brethren is the gift of charity, for charity is the true measure of human greatness. It is in charity that our society shines as a beacon for al1 others to follow. Let us recognize the fact that benevolence is not confined only to giving gifts of money to those in need, but is also the cultivation of a kindly attitude and an unbiased spirit towards our brethren and the world at large.
It is an ideal that recognizes the inherent weakness of all men, it is considerate of the beliefs of others, it is above slander, and it is broad enough to overlook the petty flaws of personality. No, it is not enough to relieve the distressed, sustain the weak, and rescue the fa11en, we must a1so be slow to accuse, and show to1erance of the religious beliefs and opinions of others. This, we are taught, is true charity!
Thus we enter into masonry as an E.A., symbolically an irrational child with underdeveloped senses. We are educated to become a F.C., symbolically a youth with an expanding mind in search of knowledge, and we emerge from our rituals a M.M. enlighten and sure into the paths of truth and light.
Presented by W. Bro. B. R. Siegfried