|The Masonic Legend
Zeal and Faithfulness
See also:Introduction to the Bible
Degree VI Questions
Arriving at Jerusalem, King Hiram went directly to the Palace of King Solomon and, without waiting to be announced, angrily passed through the Guards in the Court and into the audience chamber where he found King Solomon and charged him with bad faith and violation of his kingly promise.
Zabud, the devoted servant and favourite of King Solomon, seeing King Hiram thus enter, and not personally knowing him, and seeing that he was excited and enraged, feared that he intended some violence and approached the door of the audience chamber to be ready to rush in and defend his master if there should be occasion. His zeal and devotion causing him to neglect the precaution which mere curiosity would have observed, he was seen by King Hiram who seized upon him and dragged him into the Hall where he would have been at once slain by the enraged king but for the interference of his own Sovereign.
The result we need not repeat to you, as you have represented Zabud throughout the entire scene, even to his pardon, and his appointment as Confidential Secretary of the two kings.
You are especially taught in this degree to be zealous and faithful; to be disinterested and benevolent; to act the peacemaker in case of dissensions, disputes, and quarrels among the brethren.
If, therefore, he that imagines the world filled with his actions and praises shall subduct from the number of his encomiasts all those who are placed below the light of fame and who hear in the valleys of life no voice but that of necessity; all those who imagine themselves too important to regard him and consider mention of his name as a usurpation of their time; all those who are too much or too little pleased with themselves to attend to anything external; all those who are attracted by pleasure or chained down by pain to unvaried ideas; all who are withheld from attending his triumph by different pursuits; and all who slumber in universal negligence: he will find his renown straitened by nearer bounds than the rocks of Caucasus and perceive that no man can be venerable or formidable but to a small part of his fellow-creatures. And therefore, that we may not languish in our endeavours after excellence, it is necessary that, as Africanus counsels his descendants, we raise our eyes to higher prospects and contemplate our future and eternal state without giving up our hearts to the praise of crowds or fixing our hopes on such rewards as human power can bestow.
Suffer others to be praised in thy presence and entertain their good and glory with delight; but at no hand disparage them or lessen the report or make an objection; and think not the advancement of thy brother is a lessening of thy worth. Upbraid no man's weakness to discomfit him, neither report it to disparage him, neither delight to remember it to lessen him or to set thyself above him; nor ever praise thyself or dispraise any man else unless some sufficiently worthy end do hallow it.
Remember that we usually disparage others upon slight grounds and little instances; and if a man be highly commended, we think him sufficiently lessened if we can but charge one sin of folly or inferiority in his account. We should be more severe to ourselves or less so to others, and consider that whatsoever good any one can think or say of us, we can tell him of many unworthy and foolish and perhaps worse actions of ours, any one of which, done by another, would be enough, we think, to destroy his reputation.
If we think the people wise and sagacious and just and appreciative when they praise and make idols of us, let us not call them unlearned and ignorant and ill and stupid judges when our neighbour is cried up by public fame and popular noises.
Every man has in his own life sins enough, in his own mind trouble enough, and in performance of his offices failings more than enough, to entertain his own inquiry: so that curiosity after the affairs of others cannot be without envy and an ill mind. The generous man will be solicitous and inquisitive into the beauty and order of a well-governed family and after the virtues of an excellent person; but anything for which men keep locks and bars or that blushes to see the light or that is either shameful in manners or private in nature, this thing will not be his care and business.
The generous man is not careful to return no more than he receives, but prefers that the balances upon the ledger of benefits shall be in his favour. He who has received pay in full for all the benefits and favours that he has conferred is like a spendthrift who has consumed his whole estate and laments oven an empty exchequer. He who requites my favours with ingratitude adds to, instead of diminishing, my wealth: and he who cannot return a favour is equally poor, whether that inability arise from poverty of spirit, sordidness of soul, or actual pecuniary poverty.
If he is wealthy who has large sums invested and the mass of whose fortune consists in obligations that bind other men to pay him money, he is still more so to whom many men owe large returns of kindnesses and favours. Beyond a moderate sum each year, the wealthy man merely invests his means; and that which he never uses is still, like favours unreturned and kindnesses unreciprocated, an actual and real portion of his fortune.
Covetousness teaches men to be cruel and crafty, industrious in evil, full of care and malice; it devours young heirs and grinds the face of the poor and undoes those who specially belong to God's protection — helpless, craftless and innocent people; it inquires into our parents' age and longs for the death of our friends; it makes friendship an act of rapine, and changes a partner into a vulture and a companion into a thief.
But generosity and a liberal spirit teach men to be human and genial, open-hearted, frank and sincere, earnest to do good, easy and contented, and well-wishers of all mankind. They protect the feeble against the strong and the defenceless against rapacity and craft. They succour and comfort the poor and are the guardians, under God, of His innocent and helpless wards. They value friends more than riches or fame, and gratitude more than money or power. They are noblemen by God's patent, and their escutcheons and quarterings are to be found in Heaven's great book of Heraldry. Nor can any man any more be a Mason than he can be a gentleman unless he is generous, liberal, and disinterested.
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The man's the gold:
And true nobility of soul is as likely to be found in the heart that beats under homespun, the hunting-shirt, and the mechanic's jacket as in that which throbs under star or coronet.
To be liberal, but only of that which is our own; to be generous, but only when we have first been just; to give, when to give costs something in the way of deprivation of luxury or comfort: this is Masonry indeed.
He who is worldly, covetous, or sensual must change before he can be a good Mason. If we are governed by inclination and not by duty; if we are unkind, severe, censorious or injurious in the relations or intercourse of life; if we are unfaithful parents or undutiful children; if we are severe masters or faithless servants; if we are treacherous friends or bad neighbours or bitter competitors; we are wandering at a great distance from true Masonic light.
Masons must be kind and affectionate, one to another. Coming to the same Lodge, kneeling at the same altar, they must feel and respect that kindness for each other which their common relation and common approach to one God should inspire. There needs to be more of the spirit of the Ancient Fellowship among us: more tenderness to each other's faults, more zeal and solicitude for each other's improvement and good fortune.
Nothing should be allowed to interfere with that kindness and affection: neither the spirit of business, absorbing, eager and over-reaching, ungenerous and hard in its dealings, keen and bitter in its competitions, low and sordid in its purposes; nor that of ambition, selfish, mercenary, restless, circumventing, living only in the opinion of others, envious of the good fortune of others, miserably vain of its own success, unjust, unscrupulous and slanderous.
He that does me a favour has bound me to make a return of thankfulness. The obligation comes not by covenant, not by his own express intention, but by the nature of the thing; and it is a duty springing up within the spirit of the obliged person to whom it is more natural to love his friend and to do good for good than to return evil for evil. A man may forgive an injury, but he must never forget a good turn. He that refuses to do good to them whom he is bound to love, or to love that which did him good, is unnatural and monstrous in his affections and thinks all the world born to minister to him, with a greediness worse than that of the sea — which, although it receives all rivers into itself, yet furnishes the clouds and springs with a return of all they need. Our duty to those who are our benefactors is to esteem and love their persons, to make them proportionate returns of service or duty or profit, according as we can or as they need or as opportunity presents itself, and according to the greatness of their kindness.
For anger is a professed enemy to counsel. It is a direct storm, in which no man can be heard to speak or call from without: for if you counsel gently, you are disregarded; if you urge it and be vehement, you provoke it more. It is neither manly not ingenuous. It makes marriage to be a necessary and unavoidable trouble; friendships and societies and familiarities to be intolerable. It multiplies the evils of drunkenness, and makes the levity of wine to run into madness. It makes innocent jesting to be the beginning of tragedies. It turns friendship into hatred; it makes a man to lose himself and his reason and his argument in disputation. It turns the desires of knowledge into an itch of wrangling. It adds insolence to power. It turns justice into cruelty and judgment into oppression. It changes discipline into tediousness and hatred of liberal institution. It makes a prosperous man to be envied and the unfortunate to be unpitied.
See therefore, my Brother, that first controlling your own temper and governing your own passions, you fit yourself to keep peace and harmony among other men, and especially the brethren. Above all, remember that Masonry is the realm of peace, and that among Masons there must be no dissension, but only that noble emulation which can best work and best agree. Wherever there is strife and hatred among the brethren, there is no Masonry: for Masonry is Peace, and Brotherly Love, and Concord.
Masonry is the great Peace Society of the world. Wherever it exists, it struggles to prevent international difficulties and disputes, and to bind Republics, Kingdoms and Empires together in one great band of peace and amity.
Who can sum up the horrors and woes accumulated in a single war? Masonry is not dazzled with all its pomp and circumstance, all its glitter and glory. War comes with its bloody hand into our very dwellings. It takes from ten thousand homes those who lived there in peace and comfort, held by the tender ties of family and kindred. It drags them away to die untended of fever or exposure in infectious climes, to be hacked, torn and mangled in the fierce fight, to fall in the gory field to rise no more, or to be borne away in awful agony to noisome and horrid hospitals. The groans of the battlefield are echoed in sighs of bereavement from thousands of desolated hearths. Returning, the soldier brings worse sorrow to his home by the infection which he has caught of camp vices. The country is demoralised. The national mind is brought down from the noble interchange of kind offices with another people to wrath and revenge and base pride and the habit of measuring brute strength against brute strength in battle. Treasures are expended that would suffice to build ten thousand churches, hospitals and universities, or rib and tie together a continent with rails of iron. If that treasure were sunk in the sea, it would be calamity enough; but it is put to worse use, for it is expended in cutting into the veins and arteries of human life, until the earth is deluged with a sea of blood.
Such, my brother, are the lessons of this degree; and you have sworn to make them the rule, the law, and the guide of your life and conduct. If you do so, you will be fitted and entitled to advance in Masonry. If you do not, you have already gone too far.