WHAT SHALL MASONS READ?
By W.O. Junbins, M.D., Greenland
of Masonry - 1880
ENTHUSIASTIC neophytes, after listening to the work and admonitions of
Freemasonry, are confronted with the question: "What shall we read to thoroughly
acquaint ourselves with the ethics of the Fraternity?" They look around, make
inquiries of the Craft, especially of senior members, and sometimes get the
desired information, but too often are told that the Manual of the Lodge is the
only literature they have ever seen bearing upon the subject. Or they are told
that Brother A. or B. is thoroughly posted in the ritual, and they had better
take lessons of him. Meeting with such obstacles on every hand, in their
researches after hidden treasures, they are soon disconcerted, and too often
their embryotic enthusiasm is "nipped in the bud" by a premature frost, and the
sunshine of future development is unable to resuscitate it.
Young Masonic minds are in an active condition; better qualified, more apt
and willing to receive instruction than weary operators, fatigued and exhausted
by delving in the quarries, where they have borne the sunshine and heat of the
day, therefore, they should promptly receive proper assistance in discovering
and obtaining the " beacon lights" of Masonic literature. The wheat must be
sifted from the chaff that no deleterious particles may take root and develop
into unprofitable plants.
Every lodge should possess a library, selected by competent brethren, and
kept under the supervision of a trusty Librarian.
The Master's admonition to the newly-made brother to be a lover of the arts
and sciences should go further, and advise him to give attention to moral and
religious science, so that he may attain and possess all the virtues which tend
to make men valuable members of society. It should impress upon his
understanding the landmarks of the Fraternity, and imbue it with divine
teachings, so that his mind, unfolding in manliness, shall be actuated to extend
its researches far into the realms of history, science, and philosophy.
The Masonic magazines and papers published in this country contain nourishing
dainties, worthy of the most exacting intellectual epicures. Lodges, as well as
brethren, should subscribe for them, that they may be within the reach of all.
The Masonic reader becomes a better member of society, his brain and heart thus
receiving a stimulant which makes man shine with a divine light.
I would admonish the young Mason not to adopt the custom of studying the
Ritual to the exclusion of all other Masonic teachings. I am aware that there
are many Masters of lodges who stand in need of this admonition, as they never
have studied anything Masonic beyond the Ritual, the Trestleboard, and the
Constitution and Regulations of the Grand Lodge, and are not even thorough in
them. No Mason should accept of the responsible position of Master of a lodge,
unless his reading has been extensive and his mind thoroughly cultured in moral
and religious lore, that his admonitions may be heeded and productive of good.
The Bible - the noblest gift of GOD to man - should be mental and spiritual
food for us by day and night, for in its pages we are taught the great
principles of Freemasonry, and if we obey its precepts we will become living
examples of what GOD intended we should be. Let us not despise nor neglect the
Holy Writings, for the golden truths taught therein make them the greatest of
Masonic works, and the best attestor of the divine origin of the Fraternity.
The arts and sciences should be studied. Geometry, that science which treats
of the "relation of properties, and measurement of solids, surfaces, lines, and
angles," should be diligently studied, that we may be able to 'work and receive
Master's wages. The pages of ancient history have recorded much, pointing
directly to societies having like secrets and requirements to those of
Freemasonry, while Mythology, ever ready with its mysteries, shows us various
scenic representations of mythical legends, pointing directly to societies and
religious institutions of the Middle Ages.
Every Craftsman should possess an Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry, which should
contain a complete synopsis of Masonic literature. Such a. work is
indispensable, and, as a work of reference, has no equal.
In conclusion, I would admonish every neophyte to cultivate a love of
literature; to visit Masonic libraries; to purchase those Masonic books best
suited to his taste and thoroughly study them, as thereby he will enrich his
mind with knowledge that will be beneficial in all his subsequent life.
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