The Cross of Calvary

“Here we commemorate the greatest and deepest demonstration of true love the world has ever known. For God looked down upon sorrowing, struggling, sinning humanity and was moved with compassion for the contrary, sheep-like creatures He had made. In spite of the tremendous personal cost it would entail to Himself to deliver them from their dilemma He chose deliberately to descend and live amongst them that He might deliver them.incarnation

This meant laying aside His splendor, His position, His prerogatives as the perfect and faultless One. He knew He would be exposed to terrible privation, to ridicule, to false accusations, to rumor, gossip and malicious charges that branded Him as a glutton, drunkard, friend of sinners and even an imposter. It entailed losing His reputation. It would involve physical suffering, mental anguish and spiritual agony.

In short, His coming to earth as the Christ, as Jesus of Nazareth, was a straightforward case of utter self-sacrifice that culminated in the cross of Calvary. The laid-down life, the poured-out blood were the supreme symbols of total selflessness. This was love. This was God. This was divinity in action, delivering men from their own utter selfishness, their own stupidity, their own suicidal instincts as lost sheep unable to help themselves.” – A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

Four Marks

Archbishop Foley Beach:foleybeach

I will call these the “Four Marks of Continuing a Spirit-filled Movement” or rather “Four Marks of Modern Anglicanism”

You see, we could go on playing Church and being religious and make no impact spiritually in our world. Yes, we could be married to our forms and traditions and remain a holy huddle in the midst of an ever-increasing secular society. This, however, would quench the Holy Spirit.

We are not and cannot be the Church as we have known it in the past. We must be a living Body engaged with the people around us. We must be the Temple of the Holy Spirit exhibiting the fruit and gifts of the Spirit in all we do. We must honor Jesus in all we do and all we say. We must have a culture that frees the Holy Spirit to do His Work in us and through us.

The First Mark of Modern Anglicanism is that we must be a Repenting Church.

After all, this is the message we have received in the Gospel. Remember the message of John the Baptist: Repent

Mt.3:2 – Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Remember the message of Jesus: Repent

Mt.4:17 – From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Remember the message of the Apostle Peter – at the end of his Pentecost sermon and the people were asking, “what must we do?”

Acts 2:38 – Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you and your children…

Remember the words of Apostle Paul when he was addressing the people of Athens in

Acts 17:22 – The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands people everywhere to repent.

He went on to write to the Romans…

Romans 2:4 – Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

We are called to be a repenting Church. That is, we must be a repenting people of God; a group of repenting followers of Jesus. When God shows us our sin, we must turn from it and return to the Lord.

Isn’t this what repent means? Literally, it means to change your mind.

St. John of Dasmacus: Repentance is returning from the unnatural to the natural state, from the devil to God, through discipline and effort.

I know…here in the south, people will say that is how you become a believer – and it is – we repent of our sins and follow Jesus.

Because of God’s love for us, Because of Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. Because of his resurrection and the promise of eternal life, we change our minds (repent) about living for me, myself and I, and begin to live for Jesus. And this does lead to salvation.

But this repentance doesn’t stop when one is born again or comes into a relationship with God through Jesus;

It’s a day by day, moment by moment reality.

When a person comes to faith in Jesus, God does a wonderful and amazing thing – he places within the person the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit begins to teach you, guide you, reveal to you the ways of God, change your thinking, and he also begins to reveal to you your sin.

As God the Holy Spirit reveals to you your sin – usually through His Word, you then have a choice — continue in the sin, or change your mind (repent) and begin to believe the behavior or attitude is a sin – and turn from it! This is repentance. He is constantly showing me my sin –and unless I repent, I quench the Holy Spirit in my life and in my ministry. 1 Thess.5:19.

As God shows us our sin, we must turn from it and return to the Lord, or we quench the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives.

St. Paul of the Cross: Should we fall into a sin, let us humble ourselves sorrowfully in his presence, and then, with an act of unbounded confidence, let us throw ourselves into the ocean of his goodness, where every failing will be cancelled and anxiety turned into love.

We are called to be a repenting Church. I call on our bishops to repent. I call on our priests to repent. I call on our deacons to repent. I call on our vestry members to repent. I call on our musicians to repent. I call on all the laity to repent.

God loves you. God cares for you. It truly is his kindness which leads us to repentance. It’s for our good. It’s so he can shower us with His grace. This is part of what we confess as Anglicans.

Isn’t this what we pray each week when we pray the General Confession? If you pray the Daily Office, you pray it twice a day every day…

“We are truly sorry, and we humbly repent” or some version of this – depending on the liturgy.

As we confess our sins, we tell God that we are sorry, and that we humbly repent. Yet, do we? The question each of us must ask ourselves: “Is there something in my life which the Lord has shown me of which I must repent?”

As a Province and as believers, unless we repent of our sins, we quench the Holy Spirit in our amidst. If we are going to be the Church, the people of God, the Lord wants us to be, we must be a repenting Church.

The Second Mark of Modern Anglicanism is that we must be is a Reconciling Church.

When I speak of reconciliation, I am not talking about being reconciled with the world, or with sin, or with sinful behavior or giving up one’s principles or compromising Biblical Truth in order to be reconciled. However, the Scriptures do tell us that we are all ministers of reconciliation and that we are to be reconciled with each other.

This reconciliation is based on the cross of Jesus, on the Truth in the Scriptures, and on the Tradition handed down to us by the Church Fathers. To be reconciled means there was once a problem.

The Australia Anglican scholar, Leon Morris: “Reconciliation properly applies not to good relations in general but to the doing away of an enmity, the bridging over of a quarrel. It implies that the parties being reconciled were formerly hostile to one another.”

This was true with us, and The Lord. This is also true with too many of God’s people with each other. For real reconciliation to take place, you must remove the enmity – the source of the quarrel. We may apologize for our actions. We may pay back money we owe. We may return something which we borrowed.

We may make restitution for the damage we have done. In every situation there must be a dealing with the root cause of the enmity. In other words, there is no true reconciliation without repentance.

Tau Malachi: Quotes on Gnosticism

feileadhmor.wordpress.com

Interesting stuff – just thought I’d share.

“Gnostics, in general, are not trying to delineate a set of beliefs. The intent is to inspire the sacred quest for true gnosis and to provide keys through which true gnosis might be acquired.”

“Whether heaven or hell or a world of admixture, it is all a state of mind, a condition of consciousness-being. The kingdom of heaven is not a place, but a spaciousness in consciousness, just as hell is a severe confinement and limitation upon consciousness. There are worlds within worlds and worlds beyond, heavens and hells and spaces in between. All are an expression of consciousness-being, which is the radiant nature of consciousness, and all exist within consciousness.”

“It is, in effect, as though we forget who and what we most truly are, and thus must labor to remember ourselves and reintegrate ourselves to the state of the person of light who is united with divine being in the light-continuum.”

“The nature of one’s own consciousness is the same as the nature of God and Godhead and, therefore, to know God, one must seek to know oneself.”

“Death will come, as it has for all prophets and saints, but it will just be an appearance of departure-a transition to another mode of existence, no more or less real than falling asleep, only to dream and awaken again. Death, for the Gnostic, is not an end as much as a new beginning. Ultimately, death has no substantial reality, but is merely a natural moment of transition. Knowing this changes everything.”

“When seeking is based upon preconception, precondition, and expectations, upon who and what you think you are and who and what you believe reality or God to be, then seeking itself becomes an obstruction and what is sought cannot be discovered.”

“We share many of the same essential points of faith with sisters and brothers in mainstream churches, but we tend to venture deeper into esoteric and metaphysical dimensions of the Gospel, and as much as viewing Christ as the Savior, we also view Christ as the Gnostic Revealer, a teacher of a path to self-realization or enlightement. You might say we share advanced teachings of Christianity. We do have some views, beliefs, significantly different than those of mainstream Christianity, but we do not view differences as a conflict or contradiction – there is an outer, inner and secret Gospel, and for us the outer, inner and secret are completely interwoven. In our extended community, the EPS, we have some members who attend other, mainstream churches, as well as being members of our gnostic church.”

 

Simply Let Them Go

-Beloved, have unity of spirit in prayer...- 1 Peter 3.8

How should one pray? John Tauler answers the question:

Every good person, when he intends to pray, should gather together to himself his external senses and look into his heart and mind to see that they are well focused on God. A person can do this in the highest, lowest, or intermediate manner. and to this end it is good for a person to examine very carefully what is most suitable and what most moves him to proper, true devotion; and let him then make use of his manner of work. But you should realize that whatever good person wants to engage in true, proper prayer, so that his prayer will truly be heard, must have already turned his back on all temporal and external things and on whatever is not divine, whether it be friend or foe, and on all vanity, whether it be clothes or jewels or anything of which God is not the true source. And he must separate his words and actions from all disorder, internal or external.

Often we are caught up in temporal matters and forget to set temporal things aside and focus on God. That has been happening to me over the last year. My study of the scriptures and historic theology became an idol and obscured my view of Jesus Christ and with Christ obscured my prayer life suffered. Pride in my own ability to hash out the deeper meaning of a text or passage left my soul barren and lifeless. Being focused on temporal things, like dispelling doubt or proving to others the truthfulness of the Reformed Confessions, was causing me to doubt and lack faith. The last few months I’ve focused my time on prayer instead of polemics, devotion instead of study, and just as He promised I was graciously brought back to prayer. 

This is how a person should prepare himself for true prayer. This is what St. Peter calls being one of spirit – that the heart and mind are attached completely to God alone, and that a person have the focus of his ground and spirit completely turned to God as present, and have a tender, benevolent attachment to God.

Children, everything we have, after all, we have from God. And how could it ever be otherwise than that we offer back completely everything that we have ever received from him with our interior focus and spirit, undivided and simple, turned toward him. And then one should engage all one’s facilities, interior and exterior, and should carry them up entirely into God.

A warning against ritualism and lack of zeal in prayer:

This is the proper manner of true prayer. And do not imagine that true prayer is when one babbles away outwardly with the mouth, reads the Psalter a lot, keeps vigils often, and fingers a rosary while one’s heart is running hither and yon. You should realize truly: all prayers or actions that hinder your spirit from praying should simply be let go, whatever they might be or be called, or however great or good they might seem, with the sole exception of prayers prescribed for those obliged by order or holy church.  Except for that, simply let go whatever else keeps you from true, essential prayer.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

“A 14th century Dominican, John Tauler was a renowned preacher of the middle ages. Although not as speculative or poetic as some of his contemporaries, Tauler’s sermons are among the noblest, showing his gift for clearly expressing spiritual truths. Inner Way is a collection of his festival sermons. Often called a Christian mystic, Tauler emphasized the “blessed contemplation” of God. However, his emphasis on divine contemplation was always tempered with practical advice for daily Christian living. Inner Way is consequently a true gem. It is historically valuable, spiritually enriching, and ideal for the liturgical season. Many believers–including Martin Luther–have found these sermons engaging and instructive. They are well worth the read.” Tim Perrine CCEL Staff Writer

Blessed be God!

FEILEADH MOR blog (2)

“Is there no balm in Gilead?”

Yes, there is, blessed be God; the blood of Jesus and the sweet promises of the gospel.

“Is there no physician there?”

Yes, blessed be God, there is, a wise, a mighty, yea, an Almighty, an all-sufficient One.

“Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?”

If not recovered, it is only delayed and delays are not denials. The time will come, the appointed season will roll round, and then every hindrance will be removed. If it be the world, some affliction will be sent to wean the heart from it. If an idol, the hand of God will take it away or destroy its power. If it be a temptation, God will deliver from it, or make a way of escape that the soul may be able to bear it. If unbelief prevail, He will overcome it, and give faith a victory over it. If there be any lust indulged, He will purge the heart from its power and prevalence. So that our wisdom and mercy alike are to fall into His compassionate hands, to renounce our own righteousness, to acknowledge that we have nothing in ourselves but filth and folly, and thus to seek His face, to call upon His name, to hope in His mercy, and rest in His goodness; and, as He may be pleased to shine upon the soul, to thank and praise His holy name for the mercy He displays in Christ to the vilest of the vile.

Here, then, is the answer to this important question, “Is there no balm in Gilead; Is there no physician there?” Blessed be God, there is both one and the other. “Why then is not the health of the daughter of God s people recovered?” It is already accomplished in the mind of God, and will be made experimentally manifest in His own time and way.

J. C. Philpot

Roger Olsen on Freemasonry

SOURCE

Going where angels fear to tread: Christianity and Freemasonry

One of my biggest culture shocks in moving to the South has been seeing all the enormous Masonic lodges and discovering that many, if not most, older Baptist (and other) men are members.  Where I come from originally (upper midwest), evangelical Christianity (including the majority of Baptists) and Freemasonry don’t mix.  They’re like oil and water.  In fact, some denominations divided over whether members could be Freemasons; the conservatives considered the drift toward allowing it a sign of liberal theology or worse (nominal Christianity).

A friend of mine was in line to succeed the retiring Fire Chief in his town of about 100,000.  Some city council members came to him and told him he would be Fire Chief if he joined the Masonic Lodge.  It was against his evangelical convictions, so he never became the city’s Fire Chief.

As I was growing up in the thick of evangelicalism (my uncle was on the national board of the National Association of Evangelicals) somehow I just knew one could not be both evangelical and a Mason.  None of my relatives were Masons; nobody in our church or denomination was a Mason.

The reasons given when I asked (probably in my late teens when I became aware of Masons through my high school friends who were joining DeMolay–the boys’ branch of Freemasonry) were that 1) Christians should not belong to secret societies and should devote their free time to the church and its mission rather than to an organization that is not specifically Christian, and 2) Freemasonry’s deep background, if not present reality, is inconsistent with evangelical Christianity.

I didn’t really think that much about it for quite a few years.  After all, there were no Masons in the evangelical circles I moved in (even after becoming a Baptist while attending an evangelical Baptist seminary).  The issue really first came to concern me when we made our first move to the South for me to pursue my Ph.D. at a major Southern secular research university.  I became youth pastor and Christian education director at a Presbyterian church and discovered that most of the older men of the congregation were Masons and were inviting the boys of the youth group to join DeMolay by suggesting they would get college scholarships.  They started attending DeMolay meetings INSTEAD of youth group meetings.  It was a struggle to hold on to them for the youth group and church.  I gradually realized that some of the men of the congregation were more invested in their Masonic relationships and activities than in the church.

One elder of the church invited me to lunch to discuss this problem.  I had made a little noise about it–mostly just by asking questions such as “Why are our men drawing our boys away from church to Masonry?”  And I asked some questions about Masonic beliefs and practices–most of which never received answers. The elder, who was a 32nd degree Mason, took me to lunch and said (direct quote seared into my mind): “If there is a conflict between Masonry and the Bible I’ll go with Masonry any day.”

Curious, I decided to do some reading about the history, dogma and rituals of Masonry.  Of course, that’s not easy.  So I looked for a book by a current (not former) Mason that would explain its basic beliefs.  What I found was The Meaning of Masonry by W. L. Wilmshurst, a Grand Master over a group of Masonic Lodges in Great Britain.  Wilmshurst was clearly NOT talking about his own branch of Masonry (whether York Rite or Scottish Rite or whatever); he was talking about the deep roots of Masonry in general.  According to Wilmshurst, an acknowledged authority on Masonic history and beliefs, Masonry necessarily has an esoteric side.  As he described it I recognized it as modern Gnosticism.

What am I saying?  That all Masons are Gnostics?  No.  Of course not.  But, if Wilmshurst (and many knowledgeable critics of Masonry) is right, even in the 20th century Freemasonry is rooted in a basically esoteric quasi-religious belief system that is incompatible with orthodox Christianity.  Do most Masons know that?  I don’t know.  But why would anyone join a group without knowing as much as possible about its history and beliefs–especially if that group requires an oath of secrecy and loyalty?

A few years ago an influential fundamentalist Southern Baptist “anti-cult” watcher led a crusade against Freemasonry especially among Southern Baptists and evangelical Christians in general.  He produced a book and a video attempting to expose Freemasonry as incompatible with Christianity.  He and some of his friends brought a resolution to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention that, if passed, would have asked Southern Baptists to avoid membership in Masonic Lodges.  It would probably also have made it unlikely that Southern Baptist churches allow Masonic ceremonies in them and at Southern Baptist led funerals.  (Masonic members who die are given a special ritual by their Masonic brothers.  One explanation I was given by a Mason is that they do not believe in the resurrection of the body but only in the immortality of the soul.)

The resolution was soundly defeated.

I came to the South again 12 years ago and right away noticed the presence of enormous Masonic Lodges in this relatively small city with over 100 Baptist churches.  I discovered that many, if not most, older Baptist men have at one time or another been inducted into Masonry.  I have been told that all but the most recent presidents of the university where I teach were Masons.  I haven’t asked, but I’m sure many of the older men in the congregation to which I belong are Masons.  It’s part of the fabric of Southern culture including Southern Baptist culture.

Now, let me make clear I am not “against Masonry.”  I know too little about it to be against it.  Rather, I’m perplexed.  First, I was raised to believe that the church is one’s extended family, the family of God, and that one’s energy should be devoted to its ministry and mission first and foremost.  Second, I was raised to believe that membership in secret societies is not compatible with biblical Christianity.  It would be like an early Christian belonging also to a mystery religion; it wasn’t encouraged (to say the least).  Third, I was raised to believe that Masonic Lodges were competitors with the churches even if many Masons also belonged to churches.

Whether all that is true, I’m not sure.  But I continue to be perplexed about it.  How many Masons know that the first modern Masonic Lodges grew out of Rosicrucianism (an esoteric sect on the fringes of Christianity)?  How many know about the esoteric meanings of Masonic rituals?  How many are aware that, historically, Freemasonry denies the resurrection of the body and emphasizes the immortality of the soul instead?  Why would a Christian devote a hearty portion of his free time and energy to a secret society when that time and energy could be devoted to the work of Christ through the church?

These are questions I struggle with.  I’d love to hear real answers that carry some authority and weight from a knowledgeable Mason.  In the meantime I continue to suffer a bit of culture shock every time I drive by one of the several large Masonic Lodges in this region and realize that most of the members are probably Baptists.

Brotherly Love Recommended

A sermon preached by Charles Brockwell, A.M. “His Majesty’s Chaplain in BOSTON” Post your comments below.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

brotherly love

In the GRAND LODGE, Held at the Exchange Tavern in BOSTON, on Wednesday the 27th Day of December 1749.

AGREED,THAT the Thanks of this ANCIENT and HONOURABLE SOCIETY be given to our Brother the Reverend Mr. CHARLES BROCKWELL, for his SERMON preached this Day before the said SOCIETY, and that the Right Worshipful Brother Hugh M’Daniel, Brother Henry Price, and Brother Thomas Aston request a Copy of the same, to be printed by the SOCIETY.

Charles Pelham, Secretary.


To the Right WorshipfulTHOMAS OXNARD, Esq;

Provincial Grand MasterOf NORTH-AMERICA;

Mr. HUGH McDANIEL,Deputy Grand Master;Mr. BENJAMIN HALLOWELL,Mr. JOHN BOX,

Grand Wardens;And OTHERS the Worshipful

BROTHERS and FELLOWSOF THEAncient and Honourable SOCIETYOFFree and Accepted MASONS:This SERMON,Preached and Published at their Request, isDEDICATEDByTheir most affectionate Brother,And humble Servant,Charles Brockwell.

I. THESS. IV. 9.
But as touching brotherly love, ye need not that I write unto you; for ye your selves are taught of God to love one another.

THE principal intention in forming societies is undoubtedly the uniting men in the stricter bands of love; for men considered as social creatures, must derive their happiness from each other: Every man being designed by Providence to promote the good of others, as he tenders his own advantage; and by that intercourse to secure their good offices, by being as occasion may offer serviceable unto them.

[8] But the Apostle in my text displays the necessity of brotherly love, from a far more noble principle than that of interest; even from the inculcations of GOD, who is love: For Ye your selves are taught of God to love one another. We are engaged to imitate the love of God in Christ, in the Motive, Pattern, and Direction, to as high a degree, as the vast distance and disproportion betwixt him and us renders our nature and condition capable of attaining. Our obligations them of resembling God in this favourite attribute, should be incentives to our most earnest endeavours thereafter, should invigorate our love and charity by that irresistible influence his example should have over us, both in the Equity, Measure, and Extent of this duty; in order whereunto my present design is

I. To enforce the practice of this communicative virtue, from those particular instances, wherein the love of Christ to Mankind, may, and ought to be imitated by us.

II. To lay before you the necessity of our following his example, from the consideration of his goodness towards us.

And

III. I shall close this discourse with some reflections suitable to the present Occasion.

[9] And,

First, To enforce the practice of this communicative virtue, we must observe that our blessed Saviour’s love towards mankind was open, generous, and free; not the effect of any former engagement; no, nor commenced upon prospect of any future advantage from the object of that love; for, herein was love manifested, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. The meaning whereof is this; that all the marvellous methods of Grace, all the great things done and suffered for us, by our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, were not in requital of any merit or desert in us; but the motions of meer mercy and undeserved compassion.

His happiness could suffer no diminution by our misery, nor receive any addition from our rectitude. Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect? No, but stupendous Goodness! when we had deserved the severest of his vengeance, he rather chose to have his mercy glorified in our rescue, than his justice signalized in our destruction. And for this choice was reason can be assigned? only his own exceeding goodness, and the incomprehensible greatness of his love! He would be gracious to whom he would be gracious, and would shew mercy on whom he [9/10] would shew mercy. And mercy triumphed over judgement, not because it was better for him, but because it was more profitable for us.

This was the nature of the affection itself, and herein we are to observe what an ensample our Lord hath set before us; for, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. Moreover, if a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for her that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? This is close reasoning, and claimeth the attention of all men; but more especially of Us, who challenge the inspired Author as the Patron of our Society.

The love and esteem we entertain for each other, must be neither sordid nor mercenary, but free and unconfined as the open and ambient air. We must do good unto all men, yet at the same time we are obliged especially to consider and have a due regard to them who are of the house-hold of faith. Our benevolence as Men and Christians should be universal, shewing no respect of persons; but then as Brothers joined in Society, if any distinction can be made, without prejudice to other men, we ought to be as favourable and beneficent as may be, to those of our own fraternity. Now, that what I have offered may not appear with any air of inconsistency, in regard to Religion or Charity, I must beg leave to observe to you, [10/11] that it is not only a rule almost without exception, generally practiced by all men; but even countenanced and warranted by, and from our Saviour’s own example, whose love was equally extended to the benefit of every one of his Apostles or Disciples; yet he gave more distinguishing marks of his affection to the Evangelist St. John, whose anniversary we this day commemorate, than to any other. The disciple whom Jesus loved occurring no less than five several times in the sacred pages, to distinguish him from the other Disciples.

Our love should terminate entirely in the party to whom it is born, without any, the least view or prospect of returning to our own future profit; for such seeming love upon the minutest examination will prove a meer fiction, an empty sound, an ensnaring disguise; because, with what pretences soever it may be varnished, SELF, DEAR SELF, is only at the bottom. Do not even the publicans the same? This is driving a trade, nor rather putting our good offices clandestinely out to interest; which is in reality, not only the most ungenerous, but the most dangerous traffick in the world, as imposing upon mankind in the most tender point. This abases the noblest and bravest Virtues, prostitutes and profanes the sacred and venerable name of Friendship, causing a well-grounded suspicion, that this narrow principle, as predominant in our selves, in the master-spring of other men’s actions; so that consequently there are no such principles, as true generosity, disinterested friendship, or christian good-nature, subsisting among the sons of men.

[12] Having thus far enforced the Practice of this communicative Virtue, I proceed

II. To lay before you, the necessity of following his example, from the consideration of his goodness to us.

He is bountiful and kind from the essential goodness of his own nature, and because it is his most glorious attribute so to be. And as he is, beyond the utmost stretch of expectation liberal and munificent, tho’ no additional happiness can accrue to him, from the poor impotent creatures that bask in the sunshine of his favours: so we, influenced by the force of so great an example, or incited by some inherent principle of christian perfection, should not sit down first, and compute what account our good intentions, kind offices, or works and labour that proceedeth of Love to our indigent brothers, will turn to: but heedfully observe and pursue, those excellent rules of Generous compassion prescribed by our Great Master, and his Apostles. As Christ having loved his own, loved them unto the end; not with sudden sallies of passion, but with a love unfeigned, issuing from that inexhaustible spring of goodness, which was ever flowing, ever diffusing itself, upon all who sought, or received its communications; so should it be our constant endeavours to raise our affections to the constancy and perseverance, the sincerity and extent of his love. As St. John explains it, not in word only, but in deed and [12/13] in truth. Not growing hot or cold in our inclinations, according to the ebbings and flowings of uncertain fortune; but proceeding upon the steady principles of Reason and Religion. Such as are always fixed and consistent with themselves, and if pursued as they ought to be, will not fail to make us increase, and to abound in love one towards another, as in society particularly, so generally toward all men.

Christianity in the general (for I now enter not upon the melancholy divisions so rife among us) never circumscribes our benevolence within the narrow confines of Nature, Fortune, Profit, or Personal Obligation. What I would advance is this: That we restrain not our love to our next neighbour only, this being meerly a point of conveniency–Nor to our acquaintance solely, this being the effect of inclination purely to gratify ourselves–We are not to caress our friends only, because gratitude and common justice require even that at our hands–Nor yet those especially from whom we expect to receive benefit, for this interest and policy will prompt us to–Nor our relations only, for this the ties of blood and meer nature dictate–Nor is our love and charity limited to them particularly who are of the same Church of Opinion with us: for by the very same reason that we are induced to believe ourselves in the right, they may imagine themselves so too; and what we may judge to be a perfection among ourselves, they may condemn as a blemish. Be it so then: that in some points or rather [13/14] modes of worship we may differ or dissent from each other: yet still the LODGE reconciles even these–There we all meet amicably, and converse sociably together–There we harmonize in principals, though we vary in punctilioes–There we join in conversation and intermingle interests–There we discover no estrangement of behaviour, nor alienation of affection–We serve one another most readily in all the kind Offices of a cordial Friendship. Thus are we united, tho’ distinguished: united in the same Grand Christian Fundamentals, tho’ distinguished by some circumstantials: united in one important band of Brotherly Love, tho’ distinguished by some Peculiarity of sentiment.

Freedom of Opinion thus indulged, but its points never discussed, is the happy influence under which the unity of this truly Ancient and Honourable Society has been preserved, from time immemorial. And whoever is an Upright Mason, can neither be an Atheist, Deist, or Libertine. For he is under the strictest obligation to be a good man, a true Christian, and to act with honour and honesty, however distinguished by different opinions in the circumstantials of Religion. Upon which account MASONRY is become the Center of Union, and the means of conciliating friendship among men that might have otherwise remained at perpetual distance; causing them to love as Brethren, as Heirs of the same hope, Partakers of the same promises, Children of the same God, and Candidates for the same Heaven.

But to return from this digression, into which the subject hath insensibly led me.

[15] The necessity of our following Christ’s example, particularly in our love to each other: flows from the consideration of his goodness to us: in putting on bowels of Charity for the most miserable, the most despicable, the most negligent, the most mistaken, the most obstinate, the worst of men, the most implacable of enemies, nay, the most revengeful, that even thirsted after his blood–In all this Christ is our pattern, He died, and in the inexpressible agonies of a most painful and ignominious death, he prayed for those inexorable persons, who were Actors, and Causes, of this most traffic scene. And therefore from this illustrious example does the Apostle urge us, and moreover our own very Constitution teaches us, that all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil-speaking be put away from us, with all malice. And that we be kind to one another. We ourselves (besides these apostolic instructions) being taught of God, to love one another.

I have now gone through my two proposed heads of discourse, tho’ not so fully as I might, as being willing to reserve the more useful reflections on the present Occasion–Which I beg leave particularly to Address to you, my Right Worshipful BROTHERS, at whose request I now stand here, and which I therefore hope will prove the more acceptable.

We read that when Tertullus pleaded against St. Paul, that the chief accusation whereon he founded his Plea, [15/16] was, his being ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes–and this sect (said the Jews) we know that every where it is spoken against. And wherefore was this sect so spoken against? Was it from any evil they knew of its professors? Or from meer ignorance or blind prejudice? We find nothing of the former, but undoubted proof of the latter. And this I take to be pretty much our case, in respect to Masonry–as flowing from the same corrupted principles. I have had the Honour of being a member of this Ancient and Honourable SOCIETY many Years, have sustained many of its offices, and can, and do aver, in this sacred place, and before the Grand ARCHITECT of the World, that I never could observe according to the strictest rules of Society. This being founded on the rules of the Gospel, the doing the Will of God, and the subduing our passions, and highly conducing to every sacred and social virtue. But not to insist on my own experiences, the very Antiquity of our Constitution furnishes a sufficient argument to confuste all gainsayers. For no combination of wicked men, for a wicked purpose, ever lasted long. The want of virtue, on which mutual trust and confidence is founded, soon divides and breaks them to pieces. Nor would men of unquestionable wisdom, known integrity, strict honour, undoubted veracity, and good sense (tho’ they might be trapand into a foolish or ridiculous society, which could pretend to nothing valuable) ever continue it, (as all the world may see they have [16/17] done, and now do) or contribute toward supporting and propagating it to posterity.–

As to any objections that have been raised against this society, they are as ridiculous as they are groundless:–For what can discover more egregious folly in any man, than to attempt to vilifie what he knows nothing of? At any rate, he may with equal justice abuse or calumniate any thing else that he is unacquainted with–But there are some peculiar customs among us; surely these can be liable to no censure, hath every Society some peculiarities, which are not to be revealed to men of different communities?–But some among us behave not so well as might be expected: we fear this is too true, and are heartily sorry for it, let us therefore every one try to mend one: but even this objection is of no weight with a man of ingenuity and candour. For if the unworthiness of a professor, casts a reflection upon the profession, it may be inferred by parity of reason, that the misconduct of a christian, is an argument against christianity. But this is a conclusion which I presume no man will allow, and yet it is no more than what he must subscribe to, who is so unreasonable as to insist on the other.

Upon the whole then, it appears that the Rules of this society have a direct tendency to render Conversation agreable, as well as innocent; and so to influence our practice, as to be useful to others, and profitable to our selves; for to continue in Amity, and maintain a fair correspondence, to be disposed reciprocally to all offices of humanity, and to act upon mutual terms of Benevolence, which are the Characteristicks of Christianity, are [17/18] likewise the Cement of this Society. And how Good it is to assist, Comfort, and Relieve the oppressed, I need not now observe. Nor is it less obvious, how pleasant it is to contribute to the innocent delight, and promote the lawful advantage of one another; and always to converse with security without any the least suspicion of fraudulent, injurious, or malicious practices.

Now in order to cherish and promote this harmony within doors and without; Let us first lay hold on the surest means to stop the mouth of detraction, by endeavouring to lead a pure and unblemished life. Let us consider my Brethren that not the reputation of one only but that of the whole Society is affected by a brother’s misbehaviour. Invested as we are with that distinguishing BADGE, which at this Day is the Glory of the greatest Potentates upon earth, We should scorn to act beneath the dignity of our profession. Let us then walk worthy of our vocation, and do honour to our profession.

Let us rejoice in every opportunity of serving and obliging each other, for then and only then are we answering the great end of our institution. Brotherly love, Relief and Truth, oblige us not only to be compassionate and benevolent, but to administer that relief and comfort, which the condition of any member requires, and we can bestow without manifest inconvenience to ourselves. No artful dissimulation of affection can ever be [18/19] allowed among those, who are upon a Level, nor can persons who live within Compass, act otherwise than upon the Square consistently with the Golden rule of doing as they would be done by. For among us every one is, or should be another self: so that he that hates another must necessarily abhor himself also: He that prejudices another, injures his own nature; and he that doth not relieve a distressed Brother starves a member of his own body; but then this relief is not to be bestow’d upon the idle, indolent, and extravagant; but upon the unfortunate, industrious, successless brother.

Let us next remember the regulations of this Society are calculated not only for the prevention of enmity, wrath, and dissention; but for the promotion of Love, Peace and Friendship; then here surely conversation must be attended with mutual confidence, freedom, and complacency. He who neither contrives mischief against others, nor suspects any against himself, has his mind always serene, and his affections compos’d. all the human Faculties rejoice in Order, Harmony, and Proportion; by this our Society subsists, and upon this depends its Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty. Let therefore no narrow distinctions discompose this goodly Frame or disturb its Symmetry. But when good and worthy Men offer themselves, let them ever have the first place in our Esteem. But as for the abettors of Atheism, Irreligion, Libertinism, Infidelity, let us in the words of the prophet shake our hands from them just as a person would do, who [19/20] happens to have burning-coals or some venomous creature fastening upon his flesh. In such a case none would stand a moment to consider; none would debate with himself the expediency of the thing; but instantly fling off the pernicious incumbrance; instantly endeavour to disengage himself from the clinging mischief; so should every upright Mason from such perilous false Brethren.

There is one essential property which belongs to our Craft, which had like to have slipped me, and which, however condemned, is highly worthy of all applause; and that is, Secrecy. All that should be disclosed of a Lodge is this, that in our meetings we are all good-natured, loving and cheerful one with another. But what are these secrets? why, If a Brother in necessity seeks relief, ’tis an inviolable secret, because true Charity vaunteth not itself. If an overtaken Brother be admonished, ’tis in secret; because Charity is kind. If possible little differences, feuds, or animosities should invade our peaceful walls, they are still kept secret, for Charity suffereth long, is not easily provoked, thinketh no Evil.–These and many more (would time permit) which I could name, are the embellishments that emblazon the Mason’s Escutcheon. And as a further ornament, let us add that aromatic sprig of Cassia, of letting our light so shine before men, that they may see our good works; and that whereas they speak against us as evil doers they may by our good works which they shall behold glorify God. [20/21] In order to which, Lord we pray thee that thy grace may always prevent and follow us and make us continually to be given to all good works through Jesus Christ our Lord; to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost, three Persons, and God eternal, immortal, invisible, be Honour and Glory forever and ever. AMEN.

FINIS.

Project Canterbury

Mourning the Departed

Image result for wisdom of sirachMy son, let tears fall down over the dead, and begin to lament, as if thou hadst suffered great harm thyself; and then cover his body according to the custom, and neglect not his burial.

Weep bitterly, and make great moan, and use lamentation, as he is worthy, and that a day or two, lest thou be evil spoken of: and then comfort thyself for thy heaviness.

For of heaviness cometh death, and the heaviness of the heart breaketh strength. In affliction also sorrow remaineth: and the life of the poor is the curse of the heart.

Take no heaviness to heart: drive it away, and member the last end. Forget it not, for there is no turning again: thou shalt not do him good, but hurt thyself. Remember my judgment: for thine also shall be so; yesterday for me, and to day for thee. When the dead is at rest, let his remembrance rest; and be comforted for him, when his Spirit is departed from him.” Ecclesiasticus (Wisdom of Sirach) Chapter 38.16-23 Authorized King James Version

From The Orthodox Study Bible, “Proper mourning for the dead is essential to the healing of our grief. An honorable burial for the departed was considered a great work of mercy in the ancient Church. Each parish had its volunteers who washed and dressed the body, making preparation for burial. We are warned not to allow our hearts to be grief-stricken (v.18) so grief overpowers us, for some have even died from grief. Thus, St. Paul says we grieve, but not as those “who have no hope” (1 Th. 4:13) (END QUOTE)

John Gill on 1 Th. 4.13, “the apostle’s view is not to encourage and establish a stoical apathy, a stupid indolence, and a brutal insensibility, which are contrary to the make of human nature, to the practice of the saints, and even of Christ and his apostles, and our apostle himself; but to forbid excessive and immoderate sorrow, and all the extravagant forms of it the Gentiles ran into; who having no notion of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, had no hope of ever seeing their friends more,

but looked upon them as entirely lost,

as no longer in being,

and never more to be met with, seen, and enjoyed;

this drove them to extravagant actions, furious transports, and downright madness; as to throw off their clothes, pluck off their hair, tear their flesh, cut themselves, and make baldness between their eyes for the dead; see Deuteronomy 14:1 practices forbidden the Jews, and which very ill become Christians, that believe the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead:

the words are to be understood not of other Christians, who have no hope of the eternal welfare of their deceased friends; not but that the sorrow of those who have a good hope of the future Well being of their dear relatives, must and ought to be greatly different from that of others, who have no hope at all: it is observed by the Jews on those words in Genesis 23:2 and “Abraham came to mourn for Sarah”

“it is not said to weep for Sarah, but to mourn for her; “for such a woman as this, it is not fit to weep”, after her soul is joined in the bundle of life, but to mourn for her, and do her great honour at her funeral; though because it is not possible that a man should not weep for his dead, it is said at the end, “and to weep for her”:’

but here the words are to be understood of the other Gentiles that were in a state of nature and unregeneracy, who had no knowledge of the resurrection of the dead, or and hope of a future state, and of enjoying their friends in it: they are called οι λοιποι, “the rest”; and the Syriac version renders it, “other men”. (END QUOTE)

Grieve passionately for a time but keep in mind the hope we have in Christ.

Yours in the Lord,

jm