The Masonic Trowel

... to spread the cement of brotherly love and affection, that cement which unites us into one sacred band or society of brothers, among whom no contention should ever exist, but that noble emulation of who can best work or best agree ...

[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership Development] [Education] [Masonic Talks] [Masonic Magazines Online]
Articles] [Masonic Books Online] [E-Books] [Library Of All Articles] [Masonic Blogs] [Links]
What is New] [Feedback]

 Masonic quotes by Brothers

Search Website For

Add To Favorites

Help Me Maintain OUR Website!!!!!!

List of Contributors

PDF This File

Print This Page

Email This Site To ...


by Brother Col. R. H, Forman
The American Freemason - January 1913

The following, taken from an address delivered to the Grand Lodge of Scottish Freemasonry in India by Brother Col. R. H, Forman, then Grand Master, is pithy and pertinent. The extract is from The Freemason (London);

Permit me, brethren, to draw your attention to a point in Masonic ethics which is always too prominently in evidence. I may well describe it as the straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel. Freemasonry must be one of two things: either it is a mere allegorical olla podrida of empty forms and ceremonies. dressed in a fictitious and tawdry cloak of mysticism; or it is a something far nobler and grander, containing within it those deeper and profounder truths which are at once the hope and the despair of all religions and of philosophies. Did I believe that the former was its sole aim and object -- did I think that its symbolism had to be accepted solely at its face value, so to speak -- I would resign my position tomorrow. wash my hands of a puerile and contemptible farce, whose only petty claim to respect is a childish clinging to obsolete superstition, and I would recommend every self-respecting and intelligent man to follow my example. But believing, as I do, that it is much more, and knowing that its deeper truths are obscured by a slavish adherence to the letter to the extinction of the spirit -- that controversy which is as old as humanity -- I stand by the Craft, hoping that I may be able, be it in ever so small a degree, to lift the cloud which oppresses her.

May I illustrate my meaning by example? Freemasonry acknowledges no ritual, and rightly enough, looked at from one point of view; yet we find individuals and Lodges continually bickering over points of ceremonial, as often as not contained in some printed ritual which it has pleased some brother to write, and which gradually assumes the dignity of a sacred volume, especially in the eyes of the neophyte. Ay, more, we frequently find ruling bodies flatly contradicting themselves - on the one hand denying any existence to ritual, and on the other delivering ponderous rulings on points of ritual. So common has this become that there is danger that ceremonial may take precedence of the landmarks, the outward form overshadow the inward meaning, the husk replace the kernel, the spirit succumb to the letter. I am not advocating slipshod working. On the contrary, I am a strong supporter of uniformity and thoroughness, recognizing that the frame sets off the picture; but what I want to insist upon is that the frame is not the picture, but an adjunct thereto. Ceremonial and ritual are good things in their way, but they never were, and never will be, of the essence of Freemasonry. There has been many a stout pillar of the Craft who has never known a word of ritual, and similarly there has been, I regret to add, many an impressive ritualist whose subsequent actions gave the lie direct to his professions, and stamped him a recreant. We argue, and hotly contest, such trivialities as the knocks which should be given at the closing of a degree, and get solemn rulings thereon from august bodies in conclave assembled, or prate of the sacredness of the ballot when some Lodge, or members of a Lodge, with as much grasp of the true meaning of Freemasonry as an infant has of the differential calculus, black-balls en bloc Brother Masons of high repute. Verily a straining at the gnat and swallowing of the camel!

I plead, Brethren, with all the earnestness at my command, for the cultivation of the spirit and the relegation of the letter to its proper place. In that direction, and in that direction only, the future welfare of the Craft lies. Without the motive power of the spirit the Order degenerates into a whitewashed sepulcher, pure without, corrupt within; and only rescued from contempt by reason of its efforts in the cause of Charity. Nor need it plume itself too much on that virtue, as the records of a Peabody, a Mitchell, a Carnegie - or, nearer home, a Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy - clearly show. We don't want secrecy, mystical ceremonies, and general bogyism to inculcate the lessons of ordinary morality; why should we?

Two days ago an old P.M. related to me an incident, with, I am afraid, a certain degree of approbation, about a Lodge refusing admission to a well-known and distinguished Brother because he did not know the P.W., it having pleased them to decree that the t. of g. p. was that P.W. It was quoted as an instance of the strict adherence to Masonic principles - save the mark - maintained in that Lodge, Do you know what I would term it? Childish rudeness and impertinence, with a strong flavoring of perjury, in that they had sworn never to do an unkind action to a Brother. Little wonder that the Brother in question washed his hands of an Institution which tolerated nonsensical mummery of this kind. I plead for broad-mindedness in Freemasonry, for tolerance, for brotherly love. Ignore the gnat, Brethren - it will not choke you; and strive to see that Masonry is a thing that soars far above mere forms and ceremonies, being, as it is, an expression of man's yearning towards the divine which is within him, and having ever before it the ideal of the regeneration of humanity. To those who can pierce through the outward seeming to the inner soul, I appeal, for therein lies the vindication of Freemasonry. Behind the veil there stands the awful Eidolon, the Pleroma filling more than conceivable space, dispensing with the conditions of form, and obtruding beyond the upper and nether ring of eternity.

back to top

[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership Development] [Education] [Masonic Talks] [Masonic Magazines Online]
Articles] [Masonic Books Online] [E-Books] [Library Of All Articles] [Masonic Blogs] [Links]
What is New] [Feedback]

This site is not an official site of any recognized Masonic body in the United States or elsewhere.
It is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion
of Freemasonry, nor webmaster nor those of any other regular Masonic body other than those stated.

DEAD LINKS & Reproduction | Legal Disclaimer | Regarding Copyrights

Last modified: March 22, 2014