10 Masonic Commandments
Masonry has as its decalogue, which is as a law to its Initiates. These are its Ten Commandments;
I. God is the Eternal, Omnipotent Immutable Wisdom, Supreme Intellligence and Exhaustless Love. Thou shalt adore, revere, and love him! Thou shalt honor him by practicing the virtues!
II. Thy religion shall be, to do good because it is a pleasure to thee, and not merely because it is a duty. That thou mayest become the friend of the wiseman, thou shalt obey his precepts! Thy soul is immortal! Thou shalt do nothing to degrade it!
III. Thalt shall unceasingly war against vice! Thou shalt not do unto others that which thou wouldst not wish for them to do unto thee! Thou shalt be submissive to thy fortunes, and keep burning the light of wisdom!
IV. Thou shalt honor thy parents! Thou shalt pay respect and homage to the aged! Thou shalt instruct the young! Thou shalt protect and defend infancy and innocence!
V. Thou shalt cherish thy wife and thy children! Thou shalt love thy country, and obey its laws!
VI. Thy friend shall be to thee a second self. Misfortune shall not estrange thee from him! Thou shalt do for his memory whatever thou wouldst do for him, were he living!
VII. Thou shalt avoid and flee from insincere friendships! Thou shalt in everything refrain from excess! Thou shalt fear to be the cause of a stain on thy memory!
VIII. Thou shalt allow no passions to become thy master! Thou shalt make the passions of others profitable lessons to thyself! Thou shalt be indulgent to error!
IX. Thou shalt hear much; Thou shalt speak little; Thou shalt act well! Thou shalt forget injuries! Thou shalt render good for evil! Thou shalt not misuse either thy strength or thy superiority!
X. Thou shalt study to know men, that thereby thou mayest learn to know thyself! Thou shalt ever seek after virtue! Thou shalt be just! Thou shalt avoid idleness of thought and deed!
But the great commandment of Masonry is this:
"A New Commandment give I unto Thee; That ye love one another! He That saith he is in the Light, and hateth his brother, remaineth still in the Darkness!" Such are the moral duties of a Mason. But it is also the duty of all FreeMasons to assist in elevating the moral and intellectual level of society; in coining of knowledge, bringing ideas into circulation, and causing the mind of youth to grow; and in putting, gradually, by the teaching of axioms and the promulgation of positive laws, the human race in harmony with its destinies.
To this duty and work the Initiate is apprenticed. He must not ever imagine that he can effect nothing, and therefore despairing, become inert. It is in this, as in a man's daily life. Many great deeds are done in the small struggles of life. There is, we are told, a determined though unseen bravery, which defends itself, foot to foot, in the darkness, against the fatal invasion of necessity and of baseness. There are noble and mysterious triumphs, which no eye sees, which no renown rewards, which no flourish of trumpets salutes. Life, misfortune, isolation, abandonment, poverty, are battle-fields, which have their heroes, -heroes obscure-, but sometimes far greater than those who become illustrious. The Mason should struggle in the same manner, and with the same bravery, against those invasions of necessity and baseness, which come to nations as well as to men. He should meet them too, foot to foot, even in the Darkness, and protest against the national wrongs and follies; against usurpation and the first inroads of that hydra, Tyranny. There is no more sovereign eloquence than the truth in indignation.
It is more difficult for a people to keep than to gain their freedom. The protests of truth are always needed. Continually, the right must protest against the fact. There is, in fact, eternity in the right. The Mason should be the priest and the soldier of the right. If his country should be robbed of her liberties, he should still not despair. The protest of the right against the fact persists forever. The robbery of a people never becomes prescriptive. Reclaimation of its rights, is barred by no length of time. Warsaw can no more be Tartar than Venice can be Teutonic. A people may endure military usurpation, and subjugated states kneel to states and wear the yoke, while under the stress of necessity; but when the necessity disappears, if the people is fit to be free, the submerged country will float to the surface and reappear, and Tyranny be adjugated by history to have murdered its victims.
Whatever occurs, we should have faith in the justice and overruling Wisdom of God, and Hope for the Future, and Loving-Kindness for those who are in error. God makes visible to men his will in events; an obscure text, written in a mysterious language.
Men make their translations of it forthwith hasty, incorrect, full of faults, omissions, and misreadings. We see so short a way along the arc of the great circle! Few minds comprehend the Divine tongue. The most sagacious, the most calm, the most profound, decipher the hieroglyphs slowly; and when they arrive with their text, perhaps the need has long gone by; there are already twenty translations in the public square, the most incorrect being, as of course, the most accepted and popular. From each of these translations, a party is born; and from misreading, a faction. Each party believes or pretends that it has the only true text, and each faction believes or pretends that it alone possesses the Light. Moreover, factions are blind men, who aim straight, errors are excellent projectiles, striking skillfully, and with all the violence that springs from false reasoning, wherever a want of logic in those who defend the right, like a defect in a cuirass, makes them vulnerable.
Therefore it is that we shall often be discomfitted in combating error before the people. Antaeus long resisted Hercules; and the heads of the Hydra grew as fast as they were cut off. It is absurd to say that error, wounded, writhes in pain, and dies amid her whorshippers. Truth conquers very slowly. There is a wondrous vitality in error. Truth, indeed, for the most part, shoots over the heads of the masses; or if an error is prostrated for a moment, it is up again in a moment, and as vigorous as ever. It will not die when the brains are out, and the most stupid and irrational errors are the longest-lived.
Nevertheless, Masonry, which is Morality and Philosophy, must not cease to do its duty. We never know at what moment success awaits our efforts -generally when most unexpected- nor with what effect our efforts are, or are not to be attended.
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