Saturday, September 11, 2010
Landmarks of Freemasonry 14 - 25 in Detail
THE RIGHT OF EVERY FREEMASON TO VISIT and sit in every regular Lodge is an unquestionable Landmark of the Order. This is called the right of visitation. This right of visitation has always been recognized as an inherent right, which inures to every Freemason as he travels through the world. And this is because Lodges are justly considered as only divisions for convenience of the universal Masonic family. This right may, of course, be impaired or forfeited on special occasions by various circumstances; but when admission is refused to a Freemason in good standing, who knocks at the door of a Lodge as a visitor, it is to be expected that some good and sufficient reason shall be furnished for this violation, of what is in general a Masonic right, founded on the Landmarks of the Order.
It is a Landmark of the Order, THAT NO VISITOR, UNKNOWN TO THE BRETHREN PRESENT, or to some one of them as a Freemason, can enter a Lodge without first passing an examination according to ancient usage. Of course, if the visitor is known to any brother present to be a Mason in good standing, and if that brother will vouch for his qualifications, the examination may be dispensed with, as the Landmark refers only to the cases of strangers, who are not to be recognized unless after strict trial, due examination, or lawful information.
NO LODGE CAN INTERFERE IN THE BUSINESS OF ANOTHER LODGE, nor give degrees to brethren who are members of other Lodges. This is undoubtedly an ancient Landmark, founded on the great principles of courtesy and fraternal kindness, which are at the very foundation of our Institution. It has been repeatedly recognized by subsequent statutory enactments of all Grand Lodges.
It is a Landmark that EVERY FREEMASON is AMENABLE TO THE LAWS AND REGULATIONS OF THE MASONIC JURISDICTION in which he resides, and this although he may not be a member of any Lodge. Non-affiliation, which is, in fact, in itself a Masonic offense, does not exempt a Freemason from Masonic jurisdiction.
CERTAIN QUALIFICATIONS OF CANDIDATES FOR INITIATION are derived from a Landmark of the Order. These qualifications are that he shall be a man, shall be unmutilated, free born, and of mature age. That is to say, a woman, a cripple, or a slave, or one born in slavery, is disqualified for initiation into the rites of Freemasonry. Statutes have from time to time been enacted, enforcing or explaining these principles; but the qualifications really arise from the very nature of the Masonic Institution, and from its symbolic teachings, and have always existed as Landmarks.
A BELIEF IN THE EXISTENCE OF GOD AS THE GRAND ARCHITECT of the Universe, is one of the most important Landmarks of the Order. It has been always deemed essential that a denial of the existence of a Supreme and Superintending Power, is an absolute disqualification for initiation. The annals of the Order never yet have furnished or could furnish an instance in which an avowed atheist was ever made a Freemason. The very initiatory ceremonies of the First Degree forbid and prevent the possibility of so monstrous an occurrence.
Subsidiary to this belief in God, as a Landmark of the Order, is THE BELIEF IN A RESURRECTION TO A FUTURE LIFE. This Landmark is not so positively impressed on the candidate by exact words as the preceding; but the doctrine is taught by very plain implication, and runs through the whole symbolism of the Order. To believe in Freemasonry, and not to believe in a resurrection, would be an absurd anomaly, which could only be excused by the reflection, that he who thus confounded his belief and his skepticism, was so ignorant of the meaning of both theories as to have no rational foundation for his knowledge of either.
LANDMARK TWENTY FIRST
It is a Landmark, that a "BOOK OF THE LAW" shall constitute an indispensable part of the furniture of every Lodge. I say advisedly, a Book of the Law, because it is not absolutely required that everywhere the Old and New Testaments shall be used. The "Book of the Law" is that volume which, by the religion of the country, is believed to contain the revealed will of the Grand Architect of the Universe. Hence, in all Lodges in Christian countries, the Book of the Law is composed of the Old and New Testaments; in a country where Judaism was the prevailing faith, the Old Testament alone would be sufficient; and in Mohammedan countries, and among Mohammedan Freemasons, the Koran might be substituted. Freemasonry does not attempt to interfere with the peculiar religious faith of its disciples, except so far as relates to the belief in the existence of God, and what necessarily results from that belief. The Book of the Law is to the speculative Freemason his spiritual Trestle-board; without this he cannot labor; whatever he believes to be the revealed will of the Grand Architect constitutes for him this spiritual Trestle-board, and must ever be before him in his hours of speculative labor, to be the rule and guide of his conduct. The Landmark, therefore, requires that a Book of the Law, a religious code of some kind, purporting to be an exemplar of the revealed will of God, shall form an essential part of the furniture of every Lodge.
LANDMARK TWENTY SECOND
THE EQUALITY OF ALL MASONS is another Landmark of the Order. This equality has no reference to any subversion of those gradations of rank which have been instituted by the usage of "society. The monarch, the nobleman or the gentleman is entitled to all the influence, and receives all the respect which rightly belong to his exalted position. But the doctrine of Masonic equality implies that, as children of one great Father, we meet in the Lodge upon the level-that on that level we are all traveling to one predestined goal-that in the Lodge genuine merit shall receive more respect than boundless wealth, and that virtue and knowledge alone should be the basis of all Masonic honors, and be rewarded with preferment. When the labors of the Lodge are over, and the brethren have retired from their peaceful retreat, to mingle once more with the world, each will then.again resume that social position, and exercise the privileges of that rank, to which the customs of society entitle him.
LANDMARK TWENTY THIRD
THE SECRECY OF THE INSTITUTION is another and a most important Landmark . There is some difficulty in precisely defining what is meant by a secret society. If the term refers, as perhaps, in strictly logical language it should, to those associations whose designs are concealed from the public eye, and whose members are unknown, which produce their results in darkness, and whose operations are carefully hidden from the public gaze - a definition which will be appropriate to many political clubs and revolutionary combination's in despotic countries, where reform, if it is at all to be effected, must be effected by stealth - then clearly Freemasonry is not a secret society. Its design is not only publicly proclaimed, but is vaunted by its disciples as something to be venerated - its disciples are known, for its membership is considered an honor to be coveted - it works for a result of which it boasts - the civilization and refinement of man, the amelioration of his condition, and the reformation of his manners.
But if by a secret society is meant-and this is the most popular understanding of the term-a society in which there is a certain amount of knowledge, whether it be of methods of recognition, or of legendary and traditional learning' which is imparted to those only who have passed through an established form of initiation, the form itself being also concealed or esoteric, then in this sense is Freemasonry undoubtedly a secret society. Now this form of secrecy is a form inherent in it, existing with it from its very foundation, and secured to it by its ancient Landmarks. If divested of its secret character, it would lose its identity, and would cease to be Freemasonry. Whatever objections may, therefore, be made to the Institution, on account of its secrecy, and however much some unskillful brethren have been willing in times of trial, to divest it of its secret character, it will be ever impossible to do so, even were the Landmark not standing before us as an insurmountable obstacle; because such change of its character would be social suicide, and the death of the Order would follow its legalized exposure. Freemasonry, as a secret association, has lived unchanged for centuries-as an open society it would not last for as many years.
LANDMARK TWENTY FOURTH
THE FOUNDATION OF A SPECULATIVE SCIENCE UPON AN OPERATIVE ART, and the symbolic use and explanation of the terms of that art, for purposes of religious or moral teaching, constitute another Landmark of the Order. The Temple of Solomon was the cradle of the Institution, and, therefore, the reference to the operative Masonry, which constructed that magnificent edifice to the materials and implements which were employed in its construction, and to the artists who were engaged in the building, are all component and essential parts of the body of Freemasonry, which could not be subtracted from it without an entire destruction of the whole identity of the Order. Hence, all the comparatively modern rites of Freemasonry, however they may differ in other respects, religiously preserve this temple history and these operative elements,. as the substratum of all their modifications of the Masonic system.
LANDMARK TWENTY FIFTH
The last and crowning Landmark of all is, that THESE LANDMARKS CAN NEVER BE CHANGED. Nothing can be subtracted from them-nothing can be added to them-not the slightest modification can be made in them. As they were received from our predecessors, we are bound by the most solemn obligations of duty to transmit them to our successors. Not one jot or one title of these unwritten laws can be repealed; for in respect to them, we are not only willing, but compelled to adopt the language of the sturdy old barons of England, Nolumus leges mutari, let the laws abide.