|A lecture on Freemasonry|
|delivered before the Lodge 'Union' 231, Bahamas holding under the Registry of Scotland on Wednesday 1st February AL 5861, AD 1857 compiled by James H Minns, PM PGJW1862 Printed At The Office Of The Nassau Advertiser|
This humble effort in the cause of Freemasonry is dedicated to Brother Stephen Dillet, Esq., Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Bahamas. Under Registry of England, in token of the high Respect for his Masonic Knowledge as well as the personal regard entertained towards him by the Compiler
Lecture on Freemasonry.
To the Members of Union Lodge No 231 under Registry of Scotland
RW Sir, & Brethren of the Mystic Tie.
In accordance with a Resolution passed at our last regular meeting, in order to promote the study of the Royal Art, as well as to render our meetings more interesting and instructive, I come before you this evening prepared with a Lecture on Freemasonry; and I am led to hope that the cordial acquiescence of the brethren at that meeting evinces an earnest desire to improve the state of Freemasonry in the Bahamas, and a determination to explore the hidden recesses and mysteries of Our Ancient and Honourable Institution.
I shall in the first instance lay aside all claim to originality, as my object in bringing forward the subject I have chosen is not for my own glory, but for that of the Institution of which I have the honour of being a humble member; and to prove that Freemasonry has for its object, not the worldly pleasures of sensual conviviality but the more noble and exalted purpose of intellectual pursuits, and the glory of God in its highest sense.
I further consider it unnecessary to point out the particular works from which I have chosen my arguments and extracts; suffice it to say, that this lecture is composed, chiefly from the general works of that brilliant luminary of Masonic literature, the Rev. George Oliver, D.D., incumbent of the Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton; an intelligent, learned, and pious pastor in England's Church; many of whose Masonic works I have read within the few years since I have had the honour of Initiation, and in not one of which, but the subject of this lecture is treated of.
The subject which I have chosen for the present lecture as the most appropriate for the commencement of the series, is - "That the basis for Freemasonry is Religion; and its tendency, that of Christianity, the perfection of Religion." Strip it of this, and you rob it of its most princely gem, render it worthless, and it possesses no charm for a rational being.
In order to prove the former part of my assertion, viz.: "that the basis of Freemasonry is Religion", I shall proceed first to consider the object of this widely spread and highly extolled Institution: and, secondly, to bring before your notice, some of its general features, as displayed in its acknowledged lectures, its mechanism and the opinions of some of the most celebrated Masonic writers.
In delivering a lecture to a body of Freemasons, it may be considered superfluous to prove that the institution is based on Religion; for the most careless and inattentive of the Initiated, cannot possibly fail to observe the analogy between the two systems.
The object of every well-governed association is set forth in its rules and instructions. I cannot therefore with greater advantage point out the object of Freemasonry, than by a few quotations from its sanctioned lectures, and the authorised instructions of some of its enlightened members.
In the year 1721, the Revd. James Anderson D.D. Minister of the Scots Presbyterian Church, in Swallow Street, Piccadilly, and well known in those days amongst the people of that persuasion resident in London, by the name of Bishop Anderson - a member dear to the Craft as well for his extensive labours in the advancement of its interests, as for his example of sterling piety and Brotherly love, writes thus:
"The end and moral purport of Masonry is to subdue our passions; not to do our own will; to make a daily progress in a laudable art; to promote morality, charity, good-fellowship, good-nature and humanity."
The ancient constitutions and charges etc were framed about the year 926, from manuscripts in Greek, Latin, French and other languages, which were produced by the Brethren who met at York for the purpose of forming a Grand Lodge in that city, pursuant to the summons of Prince Edwin: from the charges I select the following:
"A Mason is to study the moral law as contained in 'the sacred code'; to consider it as the unerring standard of truth and justice; and to regulate his life and actions by its divine precepts. He is strictly to observe his duty to God, by never mentioning his name but with that awe and reverence which is due from a creature to his Creator; to esteem him as the chief good, and to implore his aid in all laudable undertakings."
"A Mason is obliged, by his tenure, to obey the moral law, and if he rightly understands the art, he will neither be a stupid atheist nor an irreligious libertine."
In answer to an attack on Freemasonry, by Latocnaye, entitled "The Philosophy of Freemasonry," in the Freemason's Magazine for 1793, we find the following: - "This sublime institutions refines society into a more beautiful and a more perfect system, by joining men together in closer and more affectionate relations than is the case in the enlarged state of general intercourse. But its grand labour to bring about the glorious end, is to make its votaries good men and true; and as the strongest motive to virtue, it points their view to that Temple of immortal perfection beyond the present state, where social happiness is alone complete, but which you have endeavoured to persuade men is only a visionary structure erected by artifice, and supported by superstition."
About the year 1800, the Rev Jethro Inwood, writes: "Masonry has no principle but what might still more ornament the purest mind; nor any appendage but what might give additional lustre to the brightest character. By the exercise of the duties of Masonry, the rich may add abundantly to the fund of their eternal inheritance. The wise may increase their knowledge of the nature of God, in all his best perfections, and thereby daily grow still more wise unto eternal salvation. The pure in heart may be always advancing in the divine likeness; and they who walk in this path of the just, with zeal and activity, will find it as the shining Light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
The celebrated, but unfortunate Dr Dodd, AD 1772, says: "Freemasonry annihilates all parties, conciliates all private opinions, and renders those who, by their Almighty Father, were made of one blood, to be also of one heart and one mind; Brethren bound, firmly bound together by that indissoluble tie, the love of their God, and the love of their kind."
It would be useless to multiply evidences from the writings of Masonic authors on this point, sufficient has been given, and if not, that which follows will show, - that Freemasonry has for its object, to teach mankind the knowledge of a true God; - that it enforces the duty of morality, and imprints on the memory the noblest principles that can adorn the human mind; that it recommends and brings before its members the necessity of the study of the liberal sciences, especially Geometry, more particularly illustrated in the mechanism of the Second Degree; and traces every circumstance that respects government and system, ancient law and deep research, curious investigation, and ingenious discovery. It teaches its votaries the virtue Charity, in its most extensive sense. Masonic Charity is this defined by the Rev. Jethro Inwood, curate of St Paul's at Deptford in the year 1800, a R W M justly celebrated for his Masonic Virtues and learning, and well known through his works to every reading mason.
"The universal Charity of a Mason is like the Charity of a Mason's God, and his God is the God of Love. Within the compass of his mind he measures and draws the Square of his conduct; and within that square, having honestly provided for his own household, he forms his little angles of benevolence and charity to the distressed of all communities. He visits the fatherless and the widow, not out of idle curiosity, to know the extremity of distress, but from the impulse of a loving heart, to cherish and to relieve. He searches out the secret and concealed cottages of distress; pours the balm, and oil, and wine of consolation into the bosom of sorrow, affliction and misery; and through the influence of the love of God and of his brother, he thus keeps himself unspotted from the evil of the world. This is true Masonry; this is true religion, and the conduct of every true Mason.
Masonic charity is the charity of the heart; he thinks no evil of his brother; he cherishes no designs against him. It is charity upon the tongue also; he speaks no evil; bears no false witness; defames no character; blasts no reputation; he knows that to take away a good name is to commit an evil, the damage of which no wealth can repay - it is of more value than great riches - rubies cannot purchase it; the gold of Ophir cannot gild it again to its original beauty. It is the charity of the hand also; he anticipates his brothers wants nor forces him to the pain of petition; he enters the house of woe, and there finds the mouth he ought to feed, the sickness he ought to cure, and perhaps also the very mind he ought to instruct before it can be fitted for an eternal world. Thus the heart, the tongue, the hand of a really Free and Accepted Mason, are warmly engaged and diligently exercised in all those Grand Principles of the Royal Order which render it in its nature and effects so much like the Order of that amiable band, whose love to each other so forcibly convinced their adversaries as to draw from them that honourable acclamation: "See how these Christians love!"
And whilst at the same time it teaches us that we are all brethren, from royalty on its throne to the humblest member of the fraternity; and that notwithstanding our position in this life, sooner or later Death the Grand Leveller will lay aside all distinctions; yet in no Institution are the grades of rank better defined and preserved. The R W M sits in the East to rule and govern his Lodge. The Wardens are his assistants, not his equals, and each has a particular duty assigned to him. Next are the Deacons, subordinate in office, with their peculiar duties and each rank, when the duties are properly performed, is a stepping stone to future preferment - for there is no royal road to Freemasonry - and loyalty to the Sovereign, and obedience to the government in which we live, is one of its most ancient and unalterable landmarks.
There are three definitions of Freemasonry, either of which is in itself sufficient to prove the fact in the course of illustration.
The historical Landmarks, Charges and regulations assume as a foundation which cannot be moved, a belief in the being of a God, and a future state of rewards and punishments. The first step which a Candidate makes in advancing to the floor of a Lodge, is attended with an acknowledgment that he believes in an Omnipresent Deity, and that he puts his trust in that Great and Omnipresent Being to shield him from danger, and to remove his apprehensions. The grounds of his solemn obligation point out an Omniscient, Omnipresent and Omnipotent Deity. The emblems brought before His notice, are all explained with a religious reference. The subject of the Charge immediately after Initiation, is religion. The first lesson which it teaches, is to persevere in the continual study of the Holy Bible as the sacred source of our Faith, and containing the only certain information on a subject the most interesting to a responsible agent in the probationary state; and the next is an admonition to practise the three great duties of Morality - our duty to God, our neighbour and ourselves
It would occupy too much time, and also much greater talent than I possess, to point out the mechanism of the Second Degree. In the words of Dr Oliver "he whose various talents shall allow him to conquer all the impediments opposed to his advancement in the knowledge of Fellow-Craft Masonry, will be eminently entitled to the honourable distinction of a Master of Science, and a perfect moralist". I shall therefore confine myself to the 1st Degree in this portion of my lecture, and to the 3rd in the latter.
To treat of the Mechanism of an Institution that has for its motto "Audi, Vide, Tace" requires the greatest circumspection, lest those things be made mention of, or hinted; which should be safely kept in the repository of faithful breasts. I shall therefore in this part be brief - and follow the outlines laid down by Dr Oliver, being fully assured that by doing so I shall keep within proper bounds.
The first important act which takes place at the Establishment of a Masonic Lodge, is the business of Dedication and Consecration. Dedicated to God, and inscribed to St John the Evangelist, who finished by his learning what the Baptist began by his zeal. These two parallels of Freemasonry are burning and shining Lights on Earth, which illuminate our journey as we travel on to attain the third Great Light, in Heaven. The next ceremonies are the opening and closing of the Lodge. These are attended with a prayer to TGAOTU supplicating a blessing and assistance in the business about to be commenced; and at the Conclusion a prayer of Gratitude to the same Being for the protection afforded not only to us, but to the Fraternity at large, wheresoever dispersed under the Canopy of Heaven.
Next comes the admission of Candidates. The reception is by prayer, the Candidate is bound by solemn obligations to keep faith with his brethren - and the Illumination is performed in the name of the Divinity. The aspirant with his face to the East, fancies he beholds, in succession, the place where Adam enjoyed the happiest period of his existence; the place where Christianity was revealed to man; the place where the Star proclaimed the birth of Jesus; the place where Christ was crucified; and the place where he ascended into heaven. The early Christians prayed with their eyes turned towards the East, or in other words towards the Saviour who was crucified with his face towards the West; and Clemeus Alexandrinus gives us a reason for praying towards the East, that it is the Dayspring or source of Light. And the same practice constitutes an essential ceremony in our Lodges, where wisdom is placed in the East.
The Aspirant is next presented with a white apron of the purest lambskin, a symbol of innocence, and referring to the innocence and perfection of the Christian life, which makes the Lamb without spot, a model for his imitation, and looks to futurity for a crown of glory and a sceptre of peace. He is next taken by the right hand of friendship and faithfulness and shewn the Greater and Lesser Lights of Masonry; the former as rules of faith and practice, and the latter to express the regularity and usefulness of the creatures which God has graciously formed for the use of man. Next the form and dimensions of the Lodge engage his attention and are explained with their peculiar significance as "extending from the heavens to the Centre of the Earth, from the East to the West, from the North to the South." There are many other ceremonies, which it would be improper to put to paper, besides the elucidation of the hidden meaning of all our forms, symbols and ceremonies, which want of space in a limited lecture does not allow me even to take notice of; however, I trust that sufficient has been given to prove "that the basis of Freemasonry is religion".
I now come to the second proposition. "That its tendency is that of Christianity, the perfection of religion." - I would here premise, that till of late years, there was never a doubt of its Christian tendency. The Church of England is indebted to Freemasonry for its most stately edifices. The Prelates of the Church were, as our records will show; frequently the Chief Rulers of Masonry from Austin the Monk AD 597 to John Poynet Bishop of Winchester AD 1552 - and since the Reformation the Grand Mastership has fallen into the hands of laymen because its Patrons were generally the Kings of England - Defenders of the Faith Etc., and Supreme Heads of the Church - notwithstanding which, many of the dignified Clergy have frequently been initiated into the Mysteries of Masonry, among whom may be numbered the late Venerable and exemplary Archbishop of Canterbury, who before he was prevented by his onerous duties from attending the Meetings of the Craft, served as Master of a Bristol Lodge; and yet there are those who say that the Church of England knows nothing of the principles of Freemasonry, though it be practised under the sanction of laws enacted by a British parliament, by Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and confirmed by the Supreme Head of the Church. - If this be true, says Dr Oliver, the Church of England has much to answer for, the prayers were offered in the actual name of the Redeemer - the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England was an established Lodge book, as it was found to contain all the moral laws of the order.
The Master used his discretion in choosing from the prayers and Collects an appropriate form at Initiations etc, this being found inconvenient on some occasions as set form was prepared by Drs Manningham and Anderson AD 1754, concluding with the following words: "Endue him with Divine Wisdom, that he may, with the secrets of Masonry, be able to unfold the mysteries of godliness and Christianity. This we humbly beg, in the name, and for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, Amen," which form received the sanction of Grand Lodge. In the revision of the Lectures by Preston AD 1772 the actual name was omitted, and again at the revision by Dr Hemming in 1813 consequent upon the reunion of the two rival bodies of Masons each calling itself The Grand Lodge of England, the name was still omitted and the revision was sanctioned by the United Grand Lodge of England, but in order to show that the Gospel revelation was yet considered equally with the Old Testament the rule, guide, and Grand Chart of the Order, I give the following extract from a charge delivered by Bro Hemming at the Initiation of a noble and learned peer of the realm.
"But it is only when a Mason ha been raised to the 3rd Degree that he can form an accurate judgement of the real tendency of our mysterious association. Up to this point all has been preliminary, and consequently superficial. But now the whole scheme of Masonry becomes revealed to the enlightened eye. Like the High Priest of Israel entering the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Tabernacle and Temple, he beholds with steady gaze, the Shekinah of glory - like the perfect Christian admitted to commune with his God and Saviour, enters the Church Triumphant, and beholds inexplicable things, which it is not lawful for him to reveal, and like St Paul in the third heaven, he hears unspeakable words, which to utter would be death." - Thus we see that although the actual name came into disuse, yet His doctrines were enunciated in open Lodge, and His Gospel proclaimed to the Brethren. But I shall further endeavour to prove that the prayers in Lodges are directed positively to the Redeemer of Mankind even by the present system of lectures.
Throughout the Sacred Writings we find a great variety of significant appellations all of which refer to Jehovah or Christ. The objection against Masonry, might with equal propriety be made against the Church of England, for in many of her prayers, there is no reference to the mediation of Christ. For instance, the prayer of St Chrysostom; the Collect for Trinity Sunday; the Bishop's prayer in the Confirmation Service, and, most of all, in that Divine Prayer which Jesus Christ recommended to his disciples for their daily use; our invocations are usually made in the name of TGAOTU and he, according to the teaching of Masonry, is "Him that was placed on the pinnacle of the Temple at Jerusalem" - which was Jesus Christ, for no other person was ever placed in that perilous situation.: and He, if we may believe the Scriptures, was the Creator or Architect of the Universal world; or as St Paul expresses it, "by whom, and for whom all things were made" - but we also use the Titles of "Most High", Jehovah" - as well as "The Light", all of which are the names of Christ, and amongst the diversity of appellations bestowed on Him in Holy Writ.
In the present system of Masonic lectures, every event alluded to, in the historical part, has a direct reference to Jesus Christ or the Christian religion. "The Creation of the World." "The Sacrifice of Abel" "The preservation of Noah in the Ark" "The Grand Festival at the weaning of Isaac" "The sacrifice of Isaac" "Jacob's dream" "His wrestling with the Angel" "Moses and the Burning Bush" "The passage of the Israelites over the Red Sea and their deliverance from Egyptian Bondage" "The pillar of a cloud and of fire" "The wanderings in the Wilderness" and the "miraculous feeding with bread from Heaven, and water from a dry Rock" "The erection of a Tabernacle in the Wilderness" "The token of Reconciliation given to David, on offering prayers to God for the cessation of the pestilence" "The harmony and peace among the workmen of Sion; as there was neither hammer, axe, nor metal tool used at the building of King Solomon's Temple" The carving marking, and numbering of the Stones in the quarry, and preparation of the timber before being brought to Jerusalem" All these which constitute a part of the Landmarks of Freemasonry which are unalterable, have a direct reference to Christ and His holy religion, and the Christian Mason considers the law, but a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.
Again the morality of Masonry is precisely the same as that of Christianity. The lectures define Masonry to be "a science which includes all others; which inculcates human and Divine knowledge; and teaches man his duty to God, his neighbour, and himself" The principle rounds of the Theological ladder are explained in the lectures to be Faith, Hope and Charity, which admonish us to have Faith in God, Hope in Immortality and Charity to all Mankind.
The ornamented parts of the Lodge are the Mosaic Pavement, the indented Tressel, and the Blazing Star. Emblematical of the good and evil of human life. The blessing and comforts which surrounds us, and which we hope to obtain by a faithful reliance on Divine Providence, hieroglyphically represented by the Blazing Star in the Centre. The moveable and immovable jewels are the Square, the Level and the Plumb Rule - the Rough and Perfect Ashlar and the Tressel Board. The Square teaches morality and justice; the Level equality, and the Plumb Rule integrity. The Rough Ashlar our rude and imperfect state by nature. The Perfect Ashlar the perfection at which we hope to arrive by a virtuous education aided by Divine Grace; - as the operative workman erects his building agreeably to the rules and designs laid down by the Master on his Tressel Board - so we, as masons, should endeavour to erect our Spiritual Building agreeably to the rules and designs laid down by the Supreme Architect of the Universe in the Hold Bible, which is the Masonic Spiritual Tressel Board, a book which is never closed in any Lodge.
It would too far exceed the limits of my essay to expatiate on the instructive lessons taught by Freemasonry, on Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice; with the inferior powers of peace, concord, quietness, liberty, safety, honour, felicity, piety and Charity, with many others. To trace in the Second Degree, the greatness and Majesty of the Creator by minutely examining his works, and in the study of the arts and Sciences. And in the Third and Sublime Degree to treat of the Mystic Points of Fellowship, the doctrine of the Resurrection, and a future state in which reward or punishment will be received according to the works done in the flesh. To repeat the lessons taught by the emblems - the pot of incense, The Beehive, the sword pointing to the naked heart, The All Seeing Eye, which Sun, Moon and Stars obey, and under whose watchful care, even Comets perform their stupendous revolutions. The Anchor and Ark, the Hour Glass, the Scythe, the Coffin with Skull and Cross-Bones, the Three Steps and the Sprig of Acacia - a full and perfect knowledge of all these points is within the reach of every Brother, if it pleases him to seek for it, and not to remain satisfied with the mere name of a Freemason, and the knowledge, of certain signs, tokens and words, and space only permits me to call your attention to the fact in proof that masonry has a Christian tendency, that St John the Baptist, the Forerunner, and St John the Evangelist, who completed what the former began, are acknowledged in all Lodges "The parallels" - and the chief Patrons of Freemasonry.
To conclude therefore this portion I shall proceed to sum up the reference to the third degree; and would solicit the earnest attention of the Brethren to the method and terms used. The ceremonies of the third degree are introduced by a prayer expressive of the feeble and inefficient nature of man without the blessing of God's assistance; and the duration of that eternity to which death is the avenue, is depicted by circumambulation. The candidate is burthened with ceremonies to denote the galling nature of the Jewish dispensation, even when at its highest stage of perfection. The surrounding idolators, envying privileges which appeared to insure the favour of the Deity, determined to become possessed of these invaluable secrets, or to extirpate the Jewish nation. The Jews, refusing to abandon their religion to the profanation of idolatry, finally suffered a moral death in the extermination of their polity. The three assassins were the Assyrians, the Chaldeans and the Romans. The first blow which this dispensation received was inflicted by Shalmanezer, who carried the ten tribes into captivity, from which they never returned. The second blow was still more severe. It was inflicted by Nebuchadnezzar, who utterly destroyed their city and their temple, and carried the two remaining tribes to Babylon. Weakened, but not destroyed by these attacks, they rebuilt their temple and assumed the semblance of their former system of worship, though much deteriorated from the loss of many valuable privileges.
At length came the ruffian band, more determined than either of the former, under the command of Herod, who gave the death blow to their civil and religious liberties by the conquest of Jerusalem, and the reduction of Judea to the state of a Roman province, over which this tyrant, not of their own regal line, not even a Jew, was appointed King. The old law was now dead and become perfect rottenness. Her tomb was in the rubbish cast forth of the temple and acacia wore its branches over its monument. They attempted to raise her from the dead, but she fell from their grasp, a mass of putrefaction; until at length the resurrection of Jesus cemented the bands of Christian fellowship, and formed an indissoluble chain of connexion, of which Christianity was the basis, amongst all mankind who were inclined to comply with the terms of initiation into the covenant of grace. Here then the perfected mason feels, and acknowledges the power of religion over the soul, by a full and striking proof of that resurrection from the dead, which is the precursor to a new accession of light and knowledge, that bursts upon him like an ethereal flood, and leaves him astonished at his own acquisitions.
In conclusion Brethren; - I maintain that Freemasonry is founded on a Rock, and that Rock is Religion. It is a religious Institution, and its tendency is Christianity, and hence it has stood for many ages the attacks of persecution, the fires of Martyrdom, the combined efforts of princes and potentates to overthrow it, the machinations of parties, the denial of seceders, the treachery of apostates, and, in a word, all the energy that the power of evil could excite for its destruction; - Yes! the rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a Rock! Such was the experience of our Ancient Brethren. History is full of the trials of the Fraternity; and within the memory of some of our Brothers, on whom age has not stretched his iron hand, not withered the bud nor blossom of intellect, it was predicted with great confidence by our enemies in that dark day, when calamities came like a flood, and the work of the Craft was suspended, and a long silence rested in the Lodges, that Freemasonry had fallen, never to rise again!
They deemed us like the captives of Babylon, while they seemed to have got possession of the Temple, and were glorifying the god of this world on its ruins. But, thank Heaven, there is a redeeming spirit in our Institution, a conservative power in its very nature; and now where are those thousands of Babylonians who assailed us? We hear no more of them. They are dead in the grave, or in trespasses and sins. Such is our noble and venerable Institution, my Brethren, and it behoves you who have the keys of entrance to guard well the portals; a recent and much to be lamented instance is now fresh in your memory, where the biggest punishment which is in the power of Freemasonry to inflict was passed upon an unfortunate erring brother; let the past be a warning for the future, and let us guard well our own evil hearts, and corrupt natures, with prayer for Divine assistance from TGAOTU "lest we also be tempted".
I have thus endeavoured to carry out and prove the subject which I have taken in hand; how far I have been successful in so doing is left for you to judge. Being throughout well aware of my own incapacity, I should be delighted to hear the subject discussed by some of our talented brethren; at the same time I would earnestly recommend the Brotherhood to take the subject of Freemasonry into their earnest consideration, not to be satisfied with signs, words and tokens, and the mere outward forms and ceremonies, but with fervent zeal, to press forward to the mark of high calling, without fear or shame of the cavils of the uninitiated who ignorantly despise our ancient and honourable Institution, bearing in mind the Masonic prologue of 1770:
"Let Cowans, therefore, and the upstart fry
- A peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols
- The study of science, and the practice of virtue
- A science which includes all others, which teaches all human and divine knowledge; and the moral duties which are incumbent on us as Masons and members of civil society
Of Gormagons, our well-earn'd praise deny,
Our secrets let them as they will deride,
For thus the fabled fox the grapes decried,
While we superior to their malice live,
And freely their conjectures wild forgive."
And now, my brethren, having concluded my lecture, I would say, that if I have excited only a curiosity which will lead to a search after truth, my aim will have been attained, and in the words of the Rev. Samuel Oliver of Leicester, the respected parent of the justly celebrated Masonic writer, I would say
"So now being fearful I trespass too long,
I beg to conclude with my thanks and my song.
Your praises, dear Brethren, I'll sing while I've breath
May we meet in the Grand Lodge above after death."
So mote it be.
James H Minns S W
Union Lodge No 231
February AD 1857 AL 5861
Nassau, New Providence
I hereby certify that the foregoing Lecture on Masonry was read to the Brethren of the Union Lodge No 231, under the Registry of Scotland, by Brother James H Minns SW and received marked attention and approbation.
Given under my hand and the Seal of the Lodge the 12th May 1857 AL 5857
Thos E Murphy