Washington & Lincoln

{Presentation given by Chaplain Bro. Carl deVyver at a communication on September 26th, 2018}

Our great founding Father, and fellow Mason, George Washington, in his inaugural address on April 30, 1789, declared that “The foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality”. Washington felt that private morality was not merely a peripheral issue, it was actually a foundational necessity.

America’s earliest settlers believed that American was the new Israel. What made this Country different from all the others was the prevalent belief that the Great Architect of the Universe played a direct and active hand in the founding of a new nation. Like Jerusalem of old, America’s New Jerusalem was to become God’s promised land to the oppressed, an example to all humankind! Early Americans believed that it was their destiny to set an example for the world. I surely hope that we continue to do that.

In his farewell address in 1796, Washington stated that “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to [national] prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” He continued “In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.” Historians believe that America would not even exist without Washington. God was with him, the first great American warrior.

Our Brother George believed that character is everything. He strove to establish a national character. French historian, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote “Religion and morality were indispensable to the maintenance of the American Republic.” Washington knew that without religion and morality, America could not succeed. de Tocqueville observed that “While the constitutional law of liberty allowed Americans complete freedom to do as they pleased, their religion prevented them from doing that which is immoral and unjust.” de Tocqueville surmised that “Liberty could not be governed apart from religious faith, lest there be anarchy”. Our second President, John Adams, likewise declared that “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people”. Our Craft was founded on a similar belief. Even today one cannot become a Mason without the belief in the Supreme God, creator of all, and, individually, possess a visible, functioning morality.

de Tocqueville wrote that “Any free society founded on liberty, yet without a sacred moral code to govern the actions of individuals, cannot stand.” If a county without a moral compass cannot survive, so a Fraternity cannot prevail when it=s moral code begins to fray, and so especially any individual without a strong moral code will surely fail. Religion! There is a word that strikes trepidation into many people. But what is religion? We can sum it up with a simple phrase. Religion is “Giving back to God what God has blessed us with”.

Abraham Lincoln, a presumed wanna-be Mason, issued a proclamation on March 30, 1863, designating a day of prayer and fasting. He stated “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown, but we have forgotten God”. He continued, “We have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before [God], to confess our sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness”. When working to reunite a divided county, Lincoln felt that “Unless the great God who assisted [George Washington] shall be with me and aid me, I must fail. But if He shall guide and support me, I shall not fail. I shall succeed. Let us all pray that the God of our forefathers may not forsake us now.”

Obviously, as we now stand the UNITED States of America, God did not forsake us. Lincoln, as did Washington, succeeded because they looked to the Almighty Father, our Great Architect of the Universe, for guidance and direction. Do we now, today, do the same in our Craft, or in our lives?

So many of us emphasize our independence, “I am my own man”, “I don’t need anyone.” Picture a flock of sheep, grazing on a grassy hill. Each sheep is his own sheep. No sheep needs anyone else. But when the wolf comes, the “I am my own sheep”, and the “I don’t need anyone” quickly goes away, and they all swiftly flock to the Good Shepard for guidance and relief. The really “independent” sheep would swiftly devolve into wolf meat. We, as humans, likewise need our Good Shepard for guidance and relief.

We have a specific dress code in Lodge, depending on the nature of the event. In Colossians 3:12-14 the Lord itemizes His specific desired dress code for our daily living. He wants us dressed in tenderhearted mercy, humility, gentleness, forgiveness, and patience. Tenderhearted mercy. How many times do we judge someone without even knowing them, based solely on their appearance? Judging someone does not define who or what they are. But, judging someone definitely defines who or what you are. Gentleness, as Masons we all know what is right. But knowing what is right is meaningless unless we also DO what is right. .

After we have clothed ourselves with the aforementioned attributes, the Lord adds a special bow tie to our dress code. He instructs us “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony”. Our Lodge closing prayer asks the Lord to “enable us to love one another in the bonds of union and friendship”. It would be a great idea to follow our Great Architect’s “dress code”, not only when in the Lodge, but also when abroad in the world.

As I have frequently stressed in most of my presentations, in the Book of Proverbs, Chapter 3, Verses 4 and 5, we find the promise “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he WILL direct your paths.” That is a promise from God! Why not take Him up on it?

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