General Ahiman Rezon, by Daniel Sickels, , at sacred-texts.com
Its covering is no less than the clouded canopy, or starry-decked heaven, where all good Masons hope at last to arrive, by the aid of that theological ladder * which JACOB, in his vision, saw extending from earth to heaven; the three principal rounds of which are denominated FAITH, HOPE, and CHARITY; which admonishes us to have faith in GOD, hope in immortality, and charity to all mankind. The greatest of these is CHARITY: for our faith may be lost in sight; hope ends in fruition; but charity extends beyond the grave, through the boundless realms of eternity.
FAITH is the foundation of justice, the bond of amity, and the chief support of society. We live by faith; we walk by faith; by faith we have a continual hope in the acknowledgment of a Supreme Being; by faith we are justified, accepted, and finally saved. Faith is the substance of things hoped for—the evidence of things not seen. If we—with suitable, true devotion—maintain our Masonic profession, our faith will become a beam of light, and bring us to those blessed mansions where we shall be eternally happy with God, the Grand Architect of the Universe.
HOPE is the anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and enters into that within the vail; let a firm reliance in the Almighty's faithfulness animate our endeavors, and teach us to fix our hopes within the limits of His promises, so shall success attend us. If we believe a thing to be impossible, our despondency may render it so; but he who perseveres, will ultimately overcome all difficulties.
CHARITY is the brightest gem that can adorn our Masonic profession. Happy is the man who has sowed in his breast. the seeds of benevolence, the produce thereof is love and peace: he envieth not his neighbor; he listeneth not to a tale, when reported by slander; revenge or malice has no place in his breast; he forgives the injuries of men, and endeavors to blot them from his recollection. The objects of true charity among Masons are, merit and virtue in distress; persons who are incapable of extricating themselves from misfortunes in their journey through life; industrious men, who, from inevitable accidents and acts of Providence, have fallen into ruin; widows, who are left survivors of their husbands, by whose labors they subsisted; orphans in tender years, left naked to the world; and the aged, whose spirits are exhausted, whose arms are unbraced by time, and thereby rendered unable to procure for themselves that sustenance they could accomplish in their youthful days. This is Charity, the Keystone to our mystic fabric.
78:* Standing firmly on the Bible, Square, and Compasses, is a ladder which connects the earth with the heavens, or covering of the Lodge, and is a simile of that which JACOB saw in a vision when journeying to Padanarum, in Mesopotamia. It is composed of staves or rounds innumerable, which point out as many moral virtues; but principally of three, which refer to Faith, Hope, and Charity: Faith in the Great Architect of the Universe; Hope in salvation; and to be in Charity with all mankind, but more particularly with the brethren. It reaches to the heavens, and rests on the volume of the sacred law; because, by the doctrine contained in that Holy Book, we are taught to believe in the wise dispensations of Divine Providence; which belief strengthens our faith, and enables us to ascend the first step. This faith naturally creates in us a hope of becoming partakers of the blessed promises therein recorded; which hope enables us to ascend the second step. But the third and last, being Charity, comprehends the whole; and the Mason who is possessed of that virtue, in its amplest sense, may justly be deemed to have attained the summit of the science.