Symbolical Masonry, by H.L. Haywood, , at sacred-texts.com
The Rite of Salutation, during which the candidate pays his respects to the various stations, is in one sense only the lodge's recognition of the membership of the candidate, he having now been received by the Master as a brother and fellow workman, and encouraged to make himself at home in his new fellowship; in another sense, and one of much greater importance, I believe, the salutation is the candidate's recognition of the constituted authority of the Craft as vested in the Master and Wardens. Of this there is need to speak at some length as it is a lesson to be learned by the citizen of a state as well as by a member of the Fraternity, since it is nothing other than the old and badly needed teaching of true Liberty, and of the relationship between Liberty and Law, a teaching to which Masonry has always borne testimony by its actions as well as its words.
"No part of its history has been more noble," writes Dr. J. F. Newton ("The Builders," p. 273), "no principle of its teaching has been more precious than its age-long demand for the right and duty of every soul to seek that light by which no man was ever injured, and that truth which makes men free. Down through the centuries—often in times when the highest crime was not murder, but thinking, and the human conscience was a captive dragged at the wheel of the ecclesiastical chariot—always and everywhere Masonry has stood for the
right of the soul to know the truth and to look up unhindered from the lap of earth into the face of God. Not freedom from faith, but freedom of faith, has been its watchword, on the ground that as despotism is the mother of anarchy, so bigoted dogmatism is the prolific source of scepticism—knowing also that our race has made its most rapid advance in those fields where it has been free the longest."
True to this spirit, always, Masonry has everywhere fought as a champion of human freedom, in civil life, in art, and in religion. It worked as a leaven in France long before the Revolution set that country aflame; it was one of the secret forces that made for Italian nationality; it was a power behind the scenes in the American colonies’ struggle for independence. Truly, as Albert Pike has said, it "is devoted to the cause of Toleration and Liberality against Fanaticism and Persecution, political and religious, and to that of Education. Instruction and Enlightenment against Error, Barbarism and Ignorance."
But this Freedom, be it noted—it is my point here—is freedom in, not freedom from, the law. This is nature's way, and law is never anything else, if it be truly law and not conventionality, than the open path along which Life walks to ample power. He that keeps the laws of hygiene enjoys the vigorous liberty of health; he that keeps step with the seasons reaps the first fruits of the fields; he that thinks in accordance with fact and evidence is given the sceptre of truth. It is our loyalty that sets us free; it is our keeping the rules of the game that yields us the joy and spontaneity of the game.
All just civil law partakes of this character, for its
purpose is to relieve a man from the bondage of caprice, the dominance of the brutal, and the superciliousness of the tyrant, making it safe for children to play along the streets and for women to walk in the dark. It is the friend and protectress of the human. It guards our property and our limbs, it arbitrates our quarrels, it secures to us the fruit of our toil, and night and day stands watch above our lives. Always the best country is that where the head is held high, the heart is free, and men walk in that liberty which is "inbound in law."
If there is one danger lurking in our midst to-day it is the spread of that subtle civil scepticism that flouts authority and makes light of order. The rich would prostitute the statutes of the land to the support of ill-gotten gains; those that have nothing would shape them into means of wresting what they want from those that have; and the anarchists, of whom there are many in fact if not in name, whisper that law itself is bondage and every officer a tyrant. Masonry's word to this condition is that the evil of law is to be remedied only by making laws wiser and more just and that the one cure for bad authority is good authority. Accordingly, the candidate is no sooner released from his cable tow than he is told to salute the Wardens; this act may be a contradiction in appearance but is not in fact.