On Landmarks: # 2

Moral Law

by Greg Davis, January 25

That the Moral Law, which inculcates, among other things, charity and probity, industry and sobriety, is the rule and guide of every Mason.

-Tennessee Craftsman, Bicentennial Edition 1813-2013 (pg. 182)

harity.

It is the last thing (almost) we encounter in the first degree.

The bible speaks at long length about the subject.

In the first book of Corinthians, Chapter 13, verse one we are taught:

1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.


And, of course, there is the teaching of Christ – from the Book of Saint Mark, Chapter 12, v. 41-42

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

So quite obviously, there is something to this business of charity.

It seems a thread that runs throughout Freemsonry, and then, also, the Holy Bible.

So what does it mean for that change to flow freely from one’s purse? Is it really all about pity, or “there but for the grace of God” ?

It should be more than either.

It is our obligation, and not just to one another, but to the whole world.

The admonishment is any poor and distressed person.

But more, you know, it is “who” we are.

The Freemason is essentially a charitable being, emulating his own God.

Think of how many times God shows mercy and forbearance to those who have chosen to stray.

Yet another is the prodigal’s son.

Every lodge I know has a charity fund. We make it our business.

How about you make it yours too.

As a dear friend once said “don’t give until it hurts; give, until it feels good”.

Be well, my brethren, and always remember that poor and distressed person you encounter.

Probity:

Link to a past article regarding probity.

Industry:

Industry. An interesting word. As a noun, it defines what really makes a Nation prosperous.

Without industry, where would we work?

There is health care “industry”; automotive; chemical; agricultural; technological. Industries are everywhere. And they are about production. Twenty-four seven.

The wealth of nations.

But when the term is applied to an individual, it takes on a slightly different meaning

To be industrious is a description. The noun becomes an adverb, and words come together in industrious style to form a sentence; an industrious writer throws out a lot of these — words.

While the writer is measured (too often) by his words, the mason may be measured by his stones. But more than quantity, he is measured by how well they fit together. So is the industrious writer.

But what of the industrious Freemason? Well, his work may not be measured so much by how well he chooses his words, nor how well the stones may fit together, but more by the work he pours into his Masonic career.

This often translates to the work carried out by the ritualist, or by the lodge officer, or by those performing charity work in the community.

All are hallmarks of industry, and of the industrious Mason.

Sobriety:

This on the surface would seem so very obvious, would it not? We take vows of chastity, vows of purity, we promise to be industrious; to be just, prudent, temperate and to practice fortitude (or steadfastness and strength).

And yet again, here in the landmarks are reiterated the concept already covered. In temperance is sobriety. So what else could it possibly mean.

Well again, it seems so very obvious. It is keeping a cool and calm demeanor. Unlike the fellow who could not pronounce a certain word under pressure, the sober Mason would take his time to frame and enunciate his words.

The intemperate mason would roll off at the tongue half-cocked, like a drunken sailor, let’s say, or some flea bag bar fly.

But the temperate mason would take his time. Think things through, before he speaks, and frame his words carefully.

But, the obvious is also true as well. A mason should never find himself in the gutter, either in practice, or in his mannerism or his speech, and worse still, face down. It is a place for the profane, and the sober man would avoid it like the plague.

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