The Masonic Trowel

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by R W Bro Wally Marner

Brethren, following is the general charge given at the completion of the installation of the worshipful master and investiture of the officers in the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario. This lecture, although partially used in other jurisdictions, in its complete form is unique to our jurisdiction.

I find this to be the most impressive charge of all Masonic lectures and one which can, and should, be shared with those both within and without the Craft. I offer it as a sign of peace to all.

Brethren, such is the nature of our institution, that while some must of necessity rule and teach, so others must of course learn to submit and obey. Humility in both is an essential duty. The brethren elected and appointed to assist in the government of this lodge are too well acquainted with the principles of Freemasonry and the rules of propriety to exceed the power with which they are entrusted, and you are of too generous a disposition to envy their preferment. I, therefore, shall trust that we have but one aim, to please each other and unite in the grand design of being happy and communicating happiness.

Masonry, my brethren, according to the general acceptance of the term, is an art, founded on the principles of geometry and directed to the service and convenience of mankind; but, Freemasonry, embracing a wider range, and having a nobler object in view, namely the cultivation and improvement of the human mind, may with more propriety be styled a science, inasmuch as availing itself of the term of the former it inculcates principles of the purest morality, though veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. To draw aside this veil, therefore, or more properly speaking, to penetrate throughout it, is the object of rulers in Freemasonry, and by a careful and appropriate attention to them, we may hope, ultimately, to become acquainted with all its mysteries.

Freemasonry, from its origin to the present time, in all its vicissitudes, has been the steady unvarying friend of man. It has (in the language of an eloquent brother) gone forth from age to age, the constant messenger of peace and love; never weary, never forgetful of its holy mission, patiently ministering to the relief of want and sorrow, and scattering with unsparing hand blessings and benefits to all around. It comforts the mourner, it speaks peace and consolation to the troubled spirit, it carries relief and gladness to the habitations of want and destitution, it dries the tears of the widow and the orphan, it opens the sources of knowledge, it widens the sphere of human happiness, it even seeks to light up the darkness and gloom of the grave by pointing to the hopes and promises of a better life to come. All this Freemasonry has done, and is still doing. Such is Freemasonry, and such its mission; and we should never forget, while enjoying its benefits and appreciating its value, the duties we owe to the Order; for there is no right without a parallel duty, no liberty without the supremacy of the law, no high destiny without earnest perseverance and no real greatness without self-denial.

A Freemason's Lodge is the temple of peace, harmony and brotherly love; nothing is allowed to enter which has the remotest tendency to disturb the quietude of its pursuits. A calm enquiry into the beauty of wisdom and virtue, and the study of moral geometry, constitute the chief employments in the tyled recesses of the lodge. The lessons of virtue which proceed from the east, like rays of brilliant light from the rising sun, illumine the west and the south, and as the work proceeds, are carefully imbibed by the workmen. Thus while wisdom contrives the plan, strength lends its able support to the moral fabric, and beauty adorns it with curious and cunning workmanship. All this is accomplished without any compulsory or coercive means, but on the principle of friendship and brotherly love, which guards the precincts of our temple that nothing may enter to disturb the peaceful sanctity of that holy place.

The object, however, of meeting in the lodge is of a two-fold nature, namely moral instruction and social intercourse. Our meetings are intended to cultivate and enlighten the mind, to induce the habit of virtue and to strengthen the fundamental principles of our order: Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. And if these meetings are blended with social mirth, and a mutual interchange of fraternal feelings, then Freemasonry will be shown in its true light, as an institution which fosters and improves the best affections of our nature, and carries into active operation the practice of the four cardinal virtues: Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice, combined with the theological virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity, thereby demonstrating to the world at large that in Freemasonry is to be found the true import of the three great social treasures: Fraternity, Liberty and Equality. Therefore the utmost extension of fraternal feeling and affections which can exist between man and man is expected to be displayed amongst the brethren in a Freemason's lodge, and then will be attained the chief point in Freemasonry, namely, to endeavor to be happy ourselves, and to communicate that happiness to others.

Before I conclude my brethren, let me portray to you the ideal of a Freemason.

If you see a man who quietly and modestly moves in the sphere of his life; who without blemish fulfills his duties as a man, a subject, a husband and a father; who is pious without hypocrisy, benevolent without ostentation, and who aids his fellowman without self-interest; whose heart beats warm for friendship, whose serene mind is open for licensed pleasures, who in vicissitudes does not despair, nor in fortune will be presumptuous, and who will be resolute in the hour of danger.

The man who is free from superstition and free from infidelity; who, in nature, sees the finger of the Eternal Master; who feels and adores the higher destination of man; to whom Faith, Hope and Charity are not mere words without any meaning; to whom property, nay, even life, is not too dear for the protection of innocence and virtue, and for the defense of truth.

The man who towards himself is a severe judge, but who is tolerant with the debilities of his neighbor; who endeavors to oppose errors with arrogance, and to propagate intelligence without precipitation, who properly understands to estimate and employ his means; who honors virtue though it be in the most humble garment, who does not favor vice though it be clothed in purple; and who administers justice to merit whether dwelling in palaces or in cottages.

The man who, without courting applause, is loved by all noble-minded men, respected by his superiors and revered by his subordinates; the man who never proclaims what he has done, will do, can do, but where need is, will lay hold with dispassionate courage, circumspect resolution, indefatigable exertion, and a rare power of mind, and who will not cease until he has accomplished his work. but who then, without pretension, will retire into the multitude, because he did the good act, not for himself, but for the cause of good.

If you, my brethren, meet such a man, you will see the personification of brotherly love, relief and truth; and you will have found the ideal of a Freemason.

Finally, my brethren, as our fraternity has been formed and maintained in perfect unanimity and concord, in which we all greatly rejoice, so may it continue until time shall be no more. May kindness and brotherly love distinguish your conduct as men and as Masons. Within your peaceful walls may your children's children celebrate with joy and gratitude the annual recurrence of this auspicious solemnity. And may the genuine tenets of our time-honored institution be transmitted through your lodge, pure and unimpaired, from generation to generation.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014