V. PERFECT MASTER.
V. PERFECT MASTER.
V. PERFECT MASTER.
The Master Khurum was an industrious and an honest man. What he was
employed to do he did diligently, and he did it well and faithfully. He
received no wages that were not his due. Industry and honesty are the
virtues peculiarly inculcated in this Degree. They are common and homely
virtues; but not for that beneath our notice. As the bees do not love or
respect the drones, so Masonry neither loves nor respects the idle and
those who live by their wits; and least of all those parasitic acari that
live upon themselves. For those who are indolent are likely to become
dissipated and vicious; and perfect honesty, which ought to be the common
qualification of all, is more rare than diamonds. To do earnestly and
steadily, and to do faithfully and honestly that which we have to
do--perhaps this wants but little, when looked at from every point of view,
of including the whole body of the moral law; and even in their commonest
and homeliest application, these virtues belong to the character of a
Idleness is the burial of a living man. For an idle person is so useless to
any purposes of God and man, that he is like one who is dead, unconcerned
in the changes and necessities of the world; and he only lives to spend his
time, and eat the fruits of the earth. Like a vermin or a wolf, when his
time comes, he dies and perishes, and in the meantime is nought. He neither
ploughs nor carries burdens: all that he does is either unprofitable or
It is a vast work that any man may do, if he never be idle: and it is a
huge way that a man may go in virtue, if he never go out of his way by a
vicious habit or a great crime: and he who perpetually reads good books, if
his parts be answerable, will have a huge stock of knowledge.
St. Ambrose, and from his example, St. Augustine, divided every day into
these tertias of employment: eight hours they spent in the necessities of
nature and recreation: eight hours in charity, in doing assistance to
others, dispatching their business, reconciling their enmities, reproving
their vices, correcting their errors, instructing their ignorance, and in
transacting the affairs of their dioceses; and the other eight hours they
spent in study and prayer.
We think, at the age of twenty, that life is much too long for that which
we have to learn and do; and that there is an almost fabulous distance
between our age and that of our grandfather. But when, at the age of sixty,
if we are fortunate enough to reach it, or unfortunate enough, as the case
may be, and according as we have profitably invested or wasted our time, we
halt, and look back along the way we have come, and cast up and endeavour
to balance our accounts with time and opportunity, we find that we have
made life much too short, and thrown away a huge portion of our time. Then
we, in our mind, deduct from the sum total of our years the hours that we
have needlessly passed in sleep; the working-hours each day, during which
the surface of the mind's sluggish pool has not been stirred or ruffied by
a single thought; the days that we have gladly got rid of, to attain some
real or fancied object that lay beyond, in the way between us and which
stood irksomely the intervening days; the hours worse than wasted in
follies and dissipation, or misspent in useless and unprofitable studies;
and we acknowledge, with a sigh, that we could have learned and done, in
half a score of years well spent, more than we have done in all our forty
years of manhood.
To learn and to do !--this is the soul's work here below. The soul grows as
truly as an oak grows. As the tree takes the carbon of the air, the dew,
the rain, and the light, and the food that the earth supplies to its roots,
and by its mysterious chemistry transmutes them into sap and fibre, into
wood and leaf, and flower and fruit, and colour and perfume, so the soul
imbibes knowledge and by a divine alchemy changes what it learns into its
own substance, and grows from within outwardly with an inherent force and
power like those that lie hidden in the grain of wheat.
The soul hath its senses, like the body, that may be cultivated, enlarged,
refined, as itself grows in stature and proportion; and he who cannot
appreciate a fine painting or statue, a noble poem, a sweet harmony, a
heroic thought, or a disinterested action, or to whom the wisdom of
philosophy is but foolishness and babble, and the loftiest truths of less
importance than the price of stocks or cotton, or the elevation of baseness
to once, merely lives on the level of commonplace, and fitly prides himself
upon that inferiority of the soul's senses, which is the inferiority and
imperfect development of the soul itself.
To sleep little, and to study much; to say little, and to hear and think
much; to learn, that we may be able to do, and then to do, earnestly and
vigorously, whatever may be required of us by duty, and by the good of our
fellows, our country, and mankind,-- these are the duties of every Mason
who desires to imitate the Master Khurum.
The duty of a Mason as an honest man is plain and easy. It requires of us
honesty in contracts, sincerity in arming, simplicity in bargaining, and
faithfulness in performing. Lie not at all, neither in a little thing nor
in a great, neither in the substance nor in the circumstance, neither in
word nor deed: that is, pretend not what is false; cover not what is true;
and let the measure of your affirmation or denial be the understanding of
your contractor; for he who deceives the buyer or the seller by speaking
what is true, in a sense not intended or understood by the other, is a liar
and a thief. A Perfect Master must avoid that which deceives, equally with
that which is false.
Let your prices be according to that measure of good and evil which is
established in the fame and common accounts of the wisest and most merciful
men, skilled in that manufacture or commodity; and the gain such, which,
without scandal, is allowed to persons in all the same circumstances.
In intercourse with others, do not do all which thou mayest lawfully do;
but keep something within thy power; and, because there is a latitude of
gain in buying and selling, take not thou the utmost penny that is lawful,
or which thou thinkest so; for although it be lawful, yet it is not safe;
and he who gains all that he can gain lawfully, this year, will possibly be
tempted, next year, to gain something unlawfully.
Let no man, for his own poverty, become more oppressing and cruel in his
bargain; but quietly, modestly, diligently, and patiently recommend his
estate to God, and follow his interest, and leave the success to Him.
Detain not the wages of the hireling; for every degree of detention of it
beyond the time, is injustice and uncharitableness, and grinds his face
till tears and blood come out; but pay him exactly according to covenant,
or according to his needs.
Religiously keep all promises and covenants, though made to your
disadvantage, though afterward you perceive you might have done better; and
let not any precedent act of yours be altered by any after-accident. Let
nothing make you break your promise, unless it be unlawful or impossible;
that is, either out of your nature or out of your civil power, yourself
being under the power of another; or that it be intolerably inconvenient to
yourself, and of no advantage to another; or that you have leave expressed
or reasonably presumed.
Let no man take wages or fees for a work that he cannot do, or cannot with
probability undertake; or in some sense profitably, and with ease, or with
advantage manage. Let no man appropriate to his own use, what God, by a
special mercy, or the Republic, hath made common; for that is against both
Justice and Charity.
That any man should be the worse for us, and for our direct act, and by our
intention, is against the rule of equity, of justice, and of charity. We
then do not that to others, which we would have done to ourselves; for we
grow richer upon the ruins of their fortune.
It is not honest to receive anything from another without returning him an
equivalent therefor. The gamester who wins the money of another is
dishonest. There should be no such thing as bets and gaming among Masons:
for no honest man should desire that for nothing which belongs to another.
The merchant who sells an inferior article for a sound price, the
speculator who makes the distresses and needs of others fill his exchequer
are neither fair nor honest, but base, ignoble, unfit for immortality.
It should be the earnest desire of every Perfect Master so to live and deal
and act, that when it comes to him to die, he may be able to say, and his
conscience to adjudge, that no man on earth is poorer, because he is
richer; that what he hath he has honestly earned, and no man can go before
God, and claim that by the rules of equity administered in His great
chancery, this house in which we die, this land we devise to our heirs this
money that enriches those who survive to bear our name, is his and not
ours, and we in that forum are only his trustees. For it is most certain
that God is just, and will sternly enforce every such trust; and that to
all whom we despoil, to all whom we defraud, to all from whom we take or
win anything whatever, without fair consideration and equivalent, He will
decree a full and adequate compensation.
Be careful, then, that thou receive no wages, here or elsewhere, that are
not thy due ! For if thou doest, thou wrongst some one, by taking that
which in God's chancery belongs to him; and whether that which thou takest
thus be wealth, or rank, or influence, or reputation or affection, thou
wilt surely be held to make full satisfaction.