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MR. M'CLURE's SERMON, AT THE INSTALLATION OF VILLAGE LODGE.

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A SERMON, DELIVERED AT THE INSTALLATION OF VILLAGE LODGE, OF Free Masons, IN SIMSBURY, CONNECTICUT, October 7th, 1794.

BY DAVID M'CLURE, A. M. Minister of the first Church in East-Windsor.

HARTFORD: PRINTED BY HUDSON & GOODWIN. MDCCXCV.

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To Major Reuben Humphreys, master of Ʋillage Lodge, and to the Brethren of said Lodge, the following Discourse is respectfully inscribed, by

The Author.
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Solomon and Hiram; or Jews and Gentiles uni­ted, in building the Church of God.

AS a christian minister invited to address you on this occa­sion, allow me to ask your consideration to some important truths, which by the divine assistance will be suggested for your moral and religious improvement, from that passage of the inspired writings, recorded,

1 KINGS, v.12.

And the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as he pro­mised him: and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon, and they two made a league to­gether.

THESE words call our attention to an im­portant period in the ancient history of the providence of God, towards the church and world. What is humbly proposed by the prea­cher, is to offer some preliminary observations to elucidate the part of sacred history, with which the words now read, have a connection,—and [Page 6] from the example the happy peace and mutual friendship and esteem, which existed between the ancient monarchs Solomon and Hiram, to ex­plain the nature and recommend the obligations of brotherly love—and to make such application, as may be suitable to the subject and occasion.

That the knowledge of the one true God, the creator of the universe, and of his will to mankind as the rule of duty, might not be lost amidst the moral darkness and polytheism which overspread the nations of the earth; it had pleas­ed God to select the numerous descendants of the patriarch Abraham, to be the depositary of this sacred betrustment.

A succession of enlightened leaders under the divine direction, had conducted the nation of Israel, through perils from surrounding enemies, whom God had commanded them to extirpate, as unworthy longer to live, and planted them in peace and happiness, in the promised land.

Among those heroes and servants of the Most High, David the father of Solomon, shone with distinguished lustre, as a pious patriot, and an accomplished soldier. His victorious arms had subdued the nations all around the borders of Palestine. To his successor, he left the peacea­ble possession of an extensive kingdom, bounded by the Euphrates—by Arabia—by the Mediter­ranean—by Egypt, and by Tyre.

Solomon was worthy in all respects, to succeed so illustrious a father, and to ascend the throne of a powerful kingdom.

[Page 7]Tributary nations were to be held in subjec­tion, factions to be crushed, and the people long habituated to bloody wars, and the triumphs of victory, to be formed to peaceable and indus­trious citizens; and the civil polity and ecclesi­astic government, required an arrangement ac­commodated to the new order of things.

In so critical a situation the young monarch needed wisdom, to preside with dignity, and be a blessing to his people. "And gave him wisdom as he promised him." As the many signal in­terpositions of heaven, in favor of the nation of Israel were intended principally with a view to the preservation of the true religion, it was ne­cessary that there should be a common center of union; and Jerusalem was chosen. And at that early period, when men were less accustom­ed to the labor of rational investigation of divine truths, and most struck with the glare of sensi­ble objects, that the place and rites of their reli­gious homage, should be magnificent and splen­did.

The great Jehovah, ever condescendent to the wants and weakness of his creatures, command­ed Solomon to build him a house, for the mani­festation of his glorious visible presence.

The building arose, and the world admired the richness and splendor of the structure, the earthly palace, and throne of the God of Israel. It corresponded to the great idea of Solomon, the pattern of which had been divinely com­municated. With pious joy, he contemplated the dome, and consecrated it to God. He asked [Page 8] wisdom, and God gave him wisdom. His uncom­mon wisdom appears in the salutary maxims and laws, and the orderly and equitable administra­tion of his government; attended with a long, peaceable and glorious reign; but principally in his ardent piety to God, and righteousness to men.

His natural genius was set off to great ad­vantage by early piety. When young and ten­der his parents taught him the lessons of wisdom and virtue. His early instruction was watered with heavenly grace. His manners were adorn­ed with the most accomplished education that a royal court could give, and where the simpli­city of piety and virtue, and every manly virtue dwelt. God was pleased to give him a wisdom more than human in government, and in the arts and sciences, and in subjects of philosophy and theology, and questions agitated in his day; and which the wisest of his cotemporaries could not explain.

Egypt had long been celebrated as the school of science; but Solomon excelled her wisest philosophers, Heman and Ethan, Calcol and Darda. Monarchs heard the same of his wis­dom, and came to be instructed, or honored his court by splendid embassies. Among these is particularly mentioned the illustrious queen of Sheba, now the ancient kingdom of Abysinia, in the interior parts of Africa. The people there still observe many jewish rites in their religious worship; and their monarchs boast their descent from that celebrated queen. The city and kingdom of Tyre bordered upon Israel; and Hi­ram [Page 9] a wise and religious monarch, sat upon the throne. He had been the friend and ally of the father of Solomon, and upon the accession of the son, he sent to congratulate him. Hiram, tho' king over an idolatrous people, yet acknowledg­es, and worships the true God. Probably he was one of the numerous Gentile proselytes who received the knowledge of God from the Jews. And from the same source are derived, those right notions of God and duty, which are found in the writings of the philosophers of Greece and Rome; and which are much extoled by modern infidels, while they affect to despise the divine fountain, from which they were derived. The souls of these two monarchs were formed for mutual friendship and esteem. Hiram was the lover of David, and the friend and lover of his son. And there was peace between them. He in whose hands are the hearts of kings, brought this about, to accomplish the purposes of his mercy to the church and world. The friendship and assistance of Hiram was necessary to Solomon, to accomplish the vast work assign­ed him. Neighbouring kings are usually hostile, because they stand in the way of each other's de­signs of worldly grandeur. But those two royal brothers possessed souls too great and good to embrace the little and unjust projects of kings.

Solomon was the friend of Hiram through life, and found him worthy of his regard. And probably had him in view, when he penned that excellent proverb, worthy of perpetual remem­brance, "Thine own friend and thy father's friend, forsake not."

[Page 10]Tyre lay upon the Mediterranean sea, and was the most flourishing trading city in the world. Navigation and commerce, of which they were the inventors, elevated them to great opulence and power. They were the first who carried the art of ship building to any degree of perfection, and navigated to foreign climes. Though ignorant of the polar properties of the magnet, and guided only by the stars and shores, yet were they very adventurous arid enterpri­zing. They had established a regular commerce to the East Indies by the Red sea, and to the streights of Gibraltar. They were the mart of nations—the crowning city, whose merchants were princes, and the honorable of the earth. By their wealth and industry they had arrived at the heighth of excellence, in the various arts which embellished life, and particularly in archi­tecture.

Solomon requested Hiram to send him some of his architects, and acknowledges their skill in building, and all mechanic arts to be greatly superior to his own people. And the Tyrian monarch most readily complied with his desire.

The magnificent temple of Jehovah was eight years in building. Two hundred thousand Jews and Tyrians labored in the work. Precious marbles were sought for among the quarries, and hewed and polished with the nicest art; and Lebanon furnished the choicest timber. Jews and Gentiles in perfect harmony, built the house of God. Lively emblem of the gospel church, built up by nations of all languages, where char­ity is the bond of perfection and peace.

[Page 11]The temple was erected three thousand years from the creation, and a thousand before the incarnation.

To teach us that perfection is not the lot of mortality, the fall of the wise and good Solomon is recorded. He arose glorious, as the sun after a night of storms, and long continued his joyful course: but a dark cloud obscured his beams, from which however, through the divine mercy he emerged, and bitterly laments his folly in the pursuits of happiness, in the gaiety and gran­deurs of life, and pleasures of sense; pronoun­cing vanity and vexation upon them. His mar­riage with the daughter of Pharaoh, then the most powerful monarch of the East, and with other wives taken from the royal courts of neighbouring princes, though steps of policy to secure the peace and glory of his reign, yet were the unhappy occasion of plunging him into idol­atry and misery. For this, and the sin of poliga­my, once suffered for the hardness of men's hearts, though a violation of the original institu­tion; Solomon and the nation were severely punished, by the rebellion of his children, and the insurrection of his subjects, and the division of the kingdom. God the supreme governor of nations, prospers a people who obey his immuta­table laws, but frowns upon and casts off those who despise his authority.

While on this part of sacred history, suffer me to add, what is most worthy of our solemn consideration, as individuals, and as members of the great community; That prevailing wicked­ness, [Page 12] the effect of great worldly prosperty and of hu­man depravity, are the alone cause of the desolation and ruin of a people.

Where is now Jerusalem, the holy city and the holy temples, the admiration of ages? Where is Tyre the opulent, the mart of nations? Lo, the bosom of destruction hath passed over them! Behold, the beloved city trodden down by the Gentiles! Barbarous Turks and Saracens possess the once fertile land, the glorious holy mount, and theatre of God's wonderous works in for­mer ages,—the birth place of the divine Savi­our;—that witnessed his miracles—that heard his sublime and heavenly discourses—that saw him expire without the gates, upon the cross, to make atonement and reconciliation—that beheld his glorious resurrection, and triumphant trans­lation to the celestial regions, and from whence the glad tidings of salvation have gone forth into all lands. But now alas, it suffers the curse of barrenness and barbarians, for the wickedness of them who once dwelt therein. And in its pre­sent desolation it will remain, until the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled. But glorious things are spoken of thee, O Jerusalem, thou city of the living God! of which we wait for the accom­plishment, when the daughters also of Tyre shall be there, and nations come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

For some wonderful designs of providence, the people of the Hebrews are continued as a remark­able exception from all other people, separated and unmixed, tho' mixed and scattered, over the earth, and aliens among the nations. Times [Page 13] and seasons are in the hands of God, whose wonder working providence will accomplish the purposes of his righteousness, in due time. Some great events relative to the church and the world, we are ready to conjecture, art about to take place, from the present unprecedented convul­sions, amazement and revolutions, among the nations of the earth. ‘Hasten, O Lord, thy works of grace in this disordered world▪ in the midst of the years make known thy mer­cy! We will wait for thy salvation, O Lord.’

Sin has also overthrown the once famous city Tyre. Extreme opulence, the fruit of their ex­tensive commerce, abused to promote the vices of luxury, pride, effeminacy and oppression, brought upon them perpetual desolation.

Tyre was an island adjoining the continent. ‘They shall, says the prophet Ezekiel, destroy the walls of Tyre, and break down her tow­ers; I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for the spreading of nets, in the midst of the sea, and it shall become a spoil to the na­tions.’ The present state of Tyre remarkably verifies this ancient prediction. As you sail a­long the desolate coast, you see a few scattering huts, and poor fishermen spreading their nets up­on the sun burnt rocks and ruins, or hauling them to the shores. Let us, sirs, guard against those private and public sins and vices, which have drawn down judgments upon a sinful peo­ple, and let us love and practice that universal righteousness and virtue, which exalteth a na­tion.

[Page 14]2. From the example of that happy peace, and mutual friendship and esteem, which existed between King Solomon and Hiram, I shall take occasion to explain the nature, and recommend the obligations of brotherly love. There was peace be­tween them, and they two made a league to­gether.

How good and pleasant is it for brethren to dwell in unity together! Where mutual brother­ly love reigns in a society, there peace, content­ment and every moral and social virtue dwell. Where hatred reigns, the bands of society are burst asunder, the fire brands and arrows of con­tention are scattered around, and death with ghast­ly smiles sits upon the ruins. But love cements mankind together, as brethren, and society is as a strong and beautiful edifice.

Mankind are made for society. It is not good for man to be alone. And virtuous friendship is the foundation on which society rests.

"Celestial happiness, when'er she stoops
"To visit earth, one shrine the goddess finds,
"And one alone, to make her sweet amends
"For absent heaven,—the bosom of a friend.
YOUNG.

The obligations of brotherly love, charity and kindness, are derived from the mutual depen­dence of mankind, for the preservation of life and the acquisition of the means of a comforta­ble existence. Man is weak and wretched in solitude, but powerful and happy in society.

[Page 15]This mutual love in our social state, the chris­tian's master and Lord, hath taught us to put into practice, from higher considerations than meer humane principles, even from love to God, and to the Redeemer of men; that we should love our fellow men, as the creatures of God and children of our universal father.

The divine law which commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves, and to do to others as we would that others should do to us, is a most safe, disinterested and benevolent rule; intelligi­ble to every capacity, and calculated for our dai­ly use.

Christianity teaches us that with the same sincerity and zeal, with which we pursue our own interest and happiness, we should pursue also that of our fellow men. Our own self-love is made the rule and square of our love to others.

Do we enter zealously into the defence of our reputation from the tongue of slander, and estab­lish our innocency, through love to ourselves? With the same zeal, are we to vindicate the reputation of others. Do we overlook and par­don our own infirmities through love to our­selves? So should we overlook and pardon the infirmities and failings of our fellow men, through love to them. Do we labour to enjoy peace and comfort in this life, and to secure im­mortal happiness beyond the grave? With the same sincerity and zeal should we labor to pro­mote the temporal and eternal happiness of our fellow men.

[Page 16]In these things essentially consists genuine brotherly love, upon evangelic principles. O, sirs, what happiness would ensue were this di­vine law in universal practice! Of this law, the divine philanthropist, who came down from heaven to unite himself to us, as our elder bro­ther, has given us the illustrious example. Bre­thren, if God hath thus loved us, we ought to love me another.

"Blessed Redeemer, inspire our souls with a portion of that celestial charity which thou hast shewn for us!" Then would universal gladness abound, and peace and happiness reign. All selfishness, fraud and violence cease; and justice, charity and kindness prevail. Then would be realized the golden age, which ancient prophets have foretold, and poets often sung.

The wise author of our existence has here pla­ced us in such a condition, that our many and various connections and dependencies, may give us abundant opportunities and occasions, for the exercise of the moral and social virtues; that our life may be filled up with usefulness, and our character as men and christians, supported with reputation. And by divine grace assisting, we may be preparing for a more perfect society in the regions of immortality, where the universal principle is, mutual love.

Let it be our daily care to cultivate this most worthy principle, since it lives and reigns in that pure celestial society, to which the wise and good only are united, and where no malevolent, envi­ous or unmerciful disposition, will be admitted. [Page 17] A present reward attends the exercise of charity. It relieves and comforts the mind. A generous mind feels more pleasure in doing a kindness, than receiving one. It is, says our Lord, more blessed to give than to receive. He who gives you an opportunity to do good is your benefac­tor. And he who bestows a needed charity is more obliged, than he who receives. To do good then, sirs, and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

What sacred pleasure does the generous breast feel, who by sympathy and kindness, dries up the tears of anguish, and drives before him mourning and woe, and lights up joy and glad­ness in the heart oppressed with grief? It is as the serene light of the morning, arising upon the weary and lost traveller, or the shipwrecked mar­iner, after a night of storms and darkness. Bles­sed are the merciful, for they shall find mercy.

Some Reflections will conclude.

1. My brethren, let grateful sentiments arise to God, by whose disposing providence, we are placed in that favorable condition, in which we may enjoy all the profits and pleasures, of the social and friendly connections, which consist with this state of our mortality. We live in a land of quietness and plenty, and heaven showers down upon us, innumerable mercies, temporal and spiritual.

Let us improve them to glorify our father in heaven, in the ways of piety and benevolence, and to do good to mankind by the usefulness of [Page 18] our lives. And may we escape those evils which an ungrateful abuse of the divine mercies bring upon men.

2. Our subject presents to every social insti­tution, as well as to individuals, the sacred obli­gations of brotherly love.

The society now to be formed, professes this, as the ground of their institution. And to take as their pattern in peace and social affection, the two royal brothers and master builders, Hi­ram and Solomon. Between them there was peace, and they two made a league together. A treaty of national friendship and alliance and of a free trade and commerce, was probably formed and ratified, for the mutual benefit of Judea and Tyre; and a personal friendship and correspon­dence also established, between the two mon­archs.

An institution founded for the promotion of mutual edification and brotherly love is useful and laudable. It appears from the history of operative masonry, that regular societies or lodg­es, were formed in Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. And the circumstances which led to this originated from one of the most wonderful events which the world had ever witnessed.

After a long night of ignorance and moral darkness, had overspread the nations, two or three millions of people in different crusades, led on by kings, princes and priests, and armed with enthusiastic ardor, marched from the ex­tremities [Page 19] of Europe into Asia, to recover the ho­ly city Jerusalem from the hands of infidel Sar­acens. They performed prodigies of valor and violence, and with the loss of thousands of lives, got possession of Jerusalem. In their progress they marched thro' Constantinople, then the capital of the Grecian or eastern Roman empire, where the arts and sciences were still cultivated. The Europeans were barbarians compared with the people of the East. They were astonished at the magnificence which they saw every where; and especially at the noble and magnificent build­ings, contrasted with the thatched and smoaky huts, in which they lived in Europe. They were inspired with a new taste for architecture. Skilful masons and builders were invited from Asia, and splendid palaces, churches and edifi­ces arose, as it were by magic. The builders found the secrets of their art profitable. They became opulent and powerful. Kings and ba­rons were desirous to be initiated into the mys­teries of the geometrical proportions of mason­ry and architecture, and were admitted. Oth­er sister-mechanic arts at the same time arose, and held within themselves the secrets or myste­ries of their respective trades. And something of this custom remains to the present day. We hence see a deserved respect paid to a useful, me­chanical, ancient and honorable profession.

Brethren and friends of this ancient and honor­able order:

Accept a word addressed to you, the dictate of benevolence, and an earnest desire for your usefulness and reputation in life, and happiness beyond the grave.

[Page 20]For good and sufficient reasons, a society may retain within themselves, the knowledge of some things, which would be an advantage neither to the world, or themselves, to reveal. Man is naturally inquisitive. He wishes to know every thing. It may be useful policy to keep alive this curiosity. I presume not to explain the mysteries, so called, of masonry. And I suppose I should not, if I knew them.

To diffuse useful knowledge, and increase in wisdom—to extend charity and relief to those whom misfortunes have reduced—to cultivate the endearments of friendship and brotherly love —and to enjoy the innocent pleasures of society as a relaxation from the fatigues of business; I would charitably hope, are some of the most im­portant secrets of your society. These are things pleasing and profitable. The public laws of your fraternity are good. They exclude the im­moral and vicious. They demand that your members be examplary in their lives and wor­thy citizens. They require more than this; even the acknowledgement and worship of God, a belief in divine revelation and reverence for the institutions of our holy religion.

If you act up to your principles, the influence of your social combinations will never be used to serve the interests of a party; neither to sow the seeds of faction in the community, or to ad­vance to places of public trust, the unqualified. But while you pay the deserved respect to the worthy of your own community, you will not exclude others, equally deserving your confi­dence. In your individual and social character▪ [Page 21] ever act with integrity and impartiality; and pur­sue such a line of conduct as shall silence the ob­jections of those, who may express their fears, that your society may have an undue influence, in any respect. Act worthily as men and profes­sed masons, and let me add as christians. Fol­low peace with all men. And may a happy ru­ral simplicity of innocent and virtuous manners be ever characteristic of the members of the VILLAGE LODGE.

Though your laws do not admit into your fraternity, the fair and lovely daughters of Eve, because the labors of the trowel were not inten­ded for them, and the lillies toil not; yet every true mason is by profession, the protector and friend of the virtuous fair. The emblematic badges of your orders, strike the mind of an un­initiated brother as very significant and happily designed.

Imitate, brethren the SUN, in the diffusion of goodness and useful knowledge all around you. He shines upon the evil and the good, and scat­ters joy and gladness wherever his light and heat come.

Observe the shining STARS, their regular and harmonious revolutions. Like them be perse­vering in all useful labor. Take the COMPASS of propriety of behaviour; the SQUARE of rect­itude, in all your conversation. The PLUM­LINE, and LEVEL of unshaken justice. The SWORD of fortitude in duty, and the TROWEL of diligence in business, cementing all labor with brotherly love; and daub not with untempered [Page 22] mortar, but be ambitious to excel in every no­ble and useful work. Let your life be uniform, like a finished and well proportioned EDIFICE, supported by the comely PILLARS of virtue, be­nevolence, truth and friendship. Let wisdom and integrity be the base, and charity the princi­ple; and strength and beauty will adorn the structure.

Bear the HOD of patience in the necessary la­bors and sufferings of life, and ascend the LAD­DER of honorable promotion, and be worthy of a seat in SOLOMON's chair. And let the white and fair APRON, be truly significant of your in­nocency and purity of character, and fidelity in all business. Take the HIVE of industrious bees, may you gather knowledge and virtue from the wide fields of nature and revelation, and your labors benefit others as well as yourselves. And in all your professions and actions, may the naked HEART, be descriptive of your sincerity and brotherly love. And see the naked SWORD of justice, pointed to punish all falsehood and wickedness there. Ever live under the solemn, impressive sense of the OMNISCIENT EYE of Jeho­vah, which sees your secret thoughts, your pub­lic and private ways. O may you approve your­selves to him, who is greater than your heart and knoweth all things.

As the glorious STAR guided the sages of the East, to the infant Jesus, so my the blessed gos­pel, sins, lead you to the divine Redeemer, our ARK of safety. And may you secure the AN­CHOR of a good hope, and be supported on the boisterous sea of life, and in the storm of death.

[Page 23]These moral and emblematic figures, respected friends, calling you to virtue and to God, re­ceive additional force from the solemn shroud and COFFIN, which terminate all earthly scenes and remind you of the shortness of your abode on earth.

May your remembrance live as the sprig of EVER-GREEN, when the grass growing over your graves shall wave to the whispering winds! May you live and flourish in the bright climes of im­mortality!

It is God who forms us for social joys, and gives us the blessings of friendship. Let our in­nocent recreations, and convivial comforts, be consecrated to him.

May the love and fear of God, now and ever reign in all our hearts, that we offend not that high and holy being, who is the constant witness of all our secret purposes, and public ac­tions, and will be our righteous Judge. To whom be ascribed dominion, salvation and glory, now and evermore.

AMEN.

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