Symbolical Masonry, by H.L. Haywood, , at sacred-texts.com
On his entrance to the Third Degree the candidate is received in a manner peculiarly impressive; he is told that as the vital parts of the body are in the breasts so are the vital things of the human world to be found in Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love. How vague are these words! We have rolled them around in our mouths so much that they have become smooth as billiard balls; they have been used so often for merely oratorical purposes that they have grown nebulous and abstract; and because they have become smooth and vague we are prone to let them slip through our minds without their depositing their meaning behind them, a thing fatal to an understanding of Masonry, the essence of much of which lies in these three wonderful words.
Man is by nature a social being. It has been proved that he cannot exist as a sane creature except he live among his fellows, for his very personality itself is a social product; the language on his lips implies another to hear and to understand; his emotions and affections seek another in whom to find satisfaction. Not until the individual has found other human individuals who can feel with him, think with him, and act with him can he know the meaning of happiness. But it is a part of the tragedy of our lives that we are so clumsy in uncovering our own souls, and others are so inexpert in understanding our secret feelings, that our fellowship is never complete,
so that the music of companionship is continually being disturbed by jangling dissonances of misunderstanding. With a friend, however, it is different; he is one with whom we can live in harmony, as if the two lives could mingle like two streams, his thoughts and our thoughts merging together and the two spirits living as one. Such a union is one of the sweetest experiences in all the world and he who has found his friend may well congratulate himself as being one who has discovered the pearl of great price. Little wonder that our prophets and seers have so often broken into rhapsody on this subject! that our literature may count as its richest treasures such utterances as those of Emerson, Black, Trumbull, Montaigne, Bacon, and Cicero concerning friendship.
Morality has been stretched to cover so many meanings, it has been forced into the support of so many conflicting theories, and been made fellow to so many crimes against reason, that we can hardly blame many for not being interested in it. But the word is necessary because the idea of which it is the sign is a real and a necessary idea. If men misuse it there is all the more reason for our learning how to rightly use it.
What is morality? It is derived from a Latin word meaning "custom," and it is probable that the Romans first used it in the sense of living according to the custom. In Christian times a richer meaning was poured into it so that it has come to mean "the life of righteousness." But what is righteousness? It is living the right way, doing the right things, thinking the right thoughts,—a very Masonic behaviour. But what is right? We might answer that question in two ways; we might say that the right is that which gives us the fullest, completest
life, for it is the purpose of morality to give us life and give it more abundantly; or, we might say that right is conformity to the law of our being. As the scientist seeks to learn the laws of nature and to conform to them, so does a righteous man seek to discover the laws of his own nature in order to conform to them; he obeys the laws of the body by living healthfully, he obeys the laws of the intellect by thinking facts without prejudice or haste, and he obeys the laws of the heart by loving only that which he finds to be good and true.
Of Brotherly Love much more might be said, though space may not permit, especially the Brotherly Love which Masonry inculcates. How can brotherhood be possible among us men? We are all so unbrotherly, we are so selfish, we are so quick to take or give offence! The solution of this troublesome problem lies in the fact that the one cure for unbrotherliness is brotherliness. We love our enemies that they may cease being enemies. We make friends in order to have friends. Brotherliness is a creative force. Brotherhood is not a thing already made, it is a condition we must create, so that the very presence of unbrotherliness is a challenge to brotherhood to do its best. When our fellows in lodge act thoughtlessly toward us, and bruise and hurt us, it is not for us to retaliate; insofar as we are true Masons we shall love them even though they are not lovable, simply because the only way in which we can make men lovable is by loving them. Brotherly Love, therefore, is a task, a kingly task, one of the greatest and most important inside the whole compass of life. Indeed, we may say that one of the chief purposes of Masonry is to mobilise all men of goodwill in order that they may help to brother the world into a world-wide brotherliness.