The Temple We Must Build



The Temple We Must Build 

A Lecture by V. Wor. Bro. Rev. Canon W.G. Hilliard, Grand Chaplain
delivered in The Sydney Lodge of Research on Tuesday 16th August, 1932.

                                           
Freemasonry has been defined as "a peculiar system of morality, veiled
in allegory and illustrated by symbols," and on closer inspection we
find that this allegory veils itself, and this symbolism finds
expression in a dignified and beautiful ceremonial which is chiefly
based upon the circumstances attending the erection of K.S.T. The Temple
is, therefore, naturally a prominent idea in the mind of every Mason. As
he gazes on the starry heavens, or standing on the mountain top, looks
out over the many miles of land and sea, he remembers that "the Universe
is the temple of that Deity whom we serve," and this picture of the
celestial dwelling of the Eternal finds a symbolical reflection in the
name and appointments of the building where the Masons meet to receive
instruction in the practice of their art. That also is a temple, and
there too are the pillars that support, there they are reminded of the
celestial canopy of divers colours, and above all is the dominating
symbol of the Almighty Ruler of the Universe. The Mason is moreover,
taught to build his own life into a temple, and to co-operate with
others in building the great temple of humanity on earth. It is of this
stupendous, but inspiring, task ˇ the Mason's true life-work ˇ that I
propose to speak to-night.

It is worthy of a man's most earnest energy, this enterprise of making
his own character and the whole of human life the temple of the Most
High, but how shall he accomplish it? Well, in the first place, since
the atmosphere of the temple is the atmosphere of reverence, he can
strive for an ever increasing spirit of reverence among men for the
sacred things of God, and this is an idea that is prominent in the
teachings of the Craft. Our Lodges stand on holy ground, they are
closely tyled to guard the sacred precincts from the unworthy and the
intruder, candidates are so prepared as to have impressed upon them the
appropriateness of humility in the presence of the Most High, the
secrets of each degree are carefully guarded and conferred only upon
those who in reverent mien and spirit solemnly undertake to keep them
sacred, and the distinguishing badge of a Mason reminds him that
entrance to the Grand Lodge above cannot be secured without purity of
life. Surely, too, the absence of all instruments of iron in the quiet
building of K.S.T. is intended to be a picture of the reverent hush in
which the social structure should be raised; so different from the
bitter strife of tongues, and discordant party cries with which we are
unfortunately only too familiar in our day and generation.

It seems to me that there are three main directions in which this
reverent attitude of mind and soul needs to be pursued. I have already
indicated one, namely, the sphere of political and other social
activity. Another is the approach to knowledge. The scientific
discoveries of these modern days have been so wonderful and so extensive
as to dazzle many minds, the revelation of the Eternal's glory through
the splendours of His creation has blinded some to the person and the
presence of the great Creator Himself. Men have been enabled to explain
so much that they have sometimes imagined that God has been explained
away, and this is most unfortunate, for it is to miss the secret of life
and to bar the gate that leads to the higher knowledge, the experience
of the Most High. After all, the body of human knowledge won by patient
scientific research, though considerable, is incomplete. When the doctor
has described the whole development of a human being from the moment of
conception till the time of birth, he still needs to postulate the human
parents to account for the existence of the child; and when the
scientist has explained the whole evolutionary process from the original
protoplasm to the most highly developed forms of life, he leaves us with
a similar postulate to be made. When science has unfolded its whole
wonderful story of processes and methods, it still leaves us with
questions as to Maker and Origin in our minds, and
then the voice of revelation speaks: "In the beginning God created the
heavens and the earth, and the earth was without form and void, and
darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon
the face of the waters, and God said: 'Let there be light and there was
light'."

"A fire-mist and a planet,      
A crystal and a cell,
A jelly-fish and a saurian,
And caves where the cave men dwell;
Then a sense of law and beauty,
And a face turned from the clod:
Some call it Evolution,
And others call it God."

It is all a matter of angle: from the point of view of method and
process, it is evolution; from the point of view of Maker and Origin, it
is God. Similarly:ˇ

"A haze on the far horizon,
The infinite tender sky,
The ripe, rich tints of the cornfields,
And the wild geese sailing high,
And all over upland and lowland
The charm of the golden rod:
Some of us call it Nature,
And others call it God."

The beautiful garment is Nature, but it is wrought by the living God.

If we were always reverent in our approach to knowledge, we should
appreciate it more and apply it better, with less selfishness and more
conscience in the application. Well may Tennyson sing :ˇ

"Let knowledge grow from more to more
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,
But vaster. We are fools and slight;
We mock Thee when we do not fear;
But help Thy foolish ones to bear:
Help Thy vain worlds to bear Thy light."

Only that man who has made himself acquainted with the principles of
moral truth and virtue is properly qualified to extend his researches
into the hidden paths of Nature and Science. Any other will miss his
way, and may even become a menace to humanity like the man whose only
application of his knowledge of chemistry is to the manufacture of
poison-gas.

In all our social activities, therefore, and in our approach to
knowledge we need a reverent attitude; we also need a greater reverence
for the old moral sanctions if life is to be kept wholesome and sweet.
The foul demon of lust has laid its contaminating hand on the sacred
marriage-tie, the world has pushed open the door of the home and
obtruded its boisterous presence into that sacred atmosphere, the
priceless innocence of little children has been ruthlessly besmirched by
the sights and sounds of our daily life, and there has been a growing
disregard for sacred times and sacred things. A greater spirit of
reverence is needed in life if the temple of God is to be raised in our
midst.

A second element in the building of the temple is the cultivation of the
sense of fellowship with God, for a temple is a building that aims at
helping the worshipper to realise there that Divine presence in his
life. Is it not so in our own temples?  There is a sacred symbol in our
midst, there is a sacred volume recommended to our most serious study
and contemplation, the primary duty of prayer and meditation is urged
upon us, and the blessing of God is invoked on all our undertakings. The
very first question which the Master asks the candidate suggests the
same idea, and after his reply he is immediately sent forth upon a path
of fellowship; the whole world has become for him a temple, and at the
end he is taught to seek the Divine aid in all his lawful undertakings
and to look up to the Eternal for comfort, guidance, and support in
every emergency. 

This fellowship with God is a priceless boon that the world around us
needs to cultivate to-day. We were brought very near to him when in our
distress we called to Him from time to time in the days of the Great
War, but our memories are notoriously short. And it is hard to escape
the conviction that just as we demobilised our various fighting units
when the need for their services had passed, so we strove to demobilise
God, because relief had come from the pressure of distress. But we can
never do without God ˇ all history tells us that ˇ and life is terribly
impoverished when we make the futile attempt. There is a beautiful
symbolism in the temple of King Solomon, the visible reminder of the
presence of the Invisible King in the midst of His faithful people. As
that temple was the centre of their national life, so should it be our
aim to make the whole of our social life thrill with the sense of the
presence of God. We should struggle after the universal recognition of
loyalty to Him in all the varied relationships of men.

This would help us to the realisation of the third of the elements in
the temple we must build, namely the effective recognition of the
Brotherhood of Man. In a temple where all realise their sonship of the
Common Father, they cannot but remember the Brotherhood of Man, and
this, of course, is a Masonic principle, nay, one of the grand
principles upon which our Order is founded. It is, moreover, referred to
over and over again. We pray that our labours may be conducted in
harmony and closed in peace, and that our candidates may become true and
faithful brethren among us. At the supreme moment in his initiation the
candidate is impressed with a symbolical expression of brotherhood, he
is admitted to fellowship in a crusade, he is invested with a badge of
friendship, and is bidden not to enter a Masonic assembly whose harmony
his presence may disturb. The duty of brotherly charity is forcibly
impressed upon him in an earnest charge, he is taught that his duty to
his neighbour demands the practice of the Golden Rule, and is reminded
that the time given to necessary refreshment and rest should not cause
us to neglect the exercise of kindly aid and charity to our brethren in
need.

Thus he is taught to do his share in building into our daily life an
element it most sorely needs. The world is crying out for brotherhood
to-day. In the international sphere we have statesmen trembling with
dread lest another world-conflict should break out, transcending in
terror the catastrophe of 1914, and wiping out our Western civilisation
from the earth. Only the spirit of brotherhood that looks upward to the
heavens for its inspiration can ensure that the resources of modern
science shall be a blessing rather than a curse to the sons of men. In
our political, our economic, our industrial life there is the same
clamant need of human brotherhood, divinely inspired, that will enable
men to rise above their sectional interests and seek only the welfare of
the whole. I like to think of a picturesque description I have read of
the last night of the International World Conference of Youth, at
Helsingfors in August, 1926. Two hundred and thirty boys of twenty-six
different nations approached the Fire of International Friendship, each
group bearing its own national flag and singing its own national song,
and each group going away with these inspiring words: "We leave this
fire with a vision of a great Christian fellowship, conscious of
differences, but resolved to love." That is the spirit that will save
the world; that is the spirit that thrills through the temple; that is
the spirit we must build into life.

Reverence, the sense of fellowship with God, the realisation of the
brotherhood of man ˇ these are three of the characteristics of that
human attitude which would turn the world into the Temple of God. The
fourth characteristic is a sense of consecration. Vows are made and
lives are dedicated in the temple, and only those who are animated by a
sincere wish to render themselves more extensively serviceable to their
fellow-creatures are welcome candidates for our mysteries. They are
given an apron and working tools, bidden measure time with unswerving
regard to eternity, and taught so to regulate their lives that they may
be enabled to devote the talents wherewith God has blessed them both to
His glory and to the welfare of their fellow creatures. There is a great
call to this spirit in our life to-day, to so go about our daily task
that we may in very truth be Masons working according to the plans,
under the direction, and in the inspiration of the G.A.O.T.U.

I suppose you have heard the story of the three Masons engaged upon the
work of building St Paul's Cathedral, to whom a visitor put the
question: "What are you doing?" Their answers were indicative of their
general outlook on their work. One is reported to have said: "Working
for my wages, of course," and another : "Squaring this stone, can't you
see?" But the third man answered : "I am helping the great architect,
Sir Christopher Wren, to build a cathedral." It is this last attitude
towards work that we need to cultivate. There are people whose mainˇif
not only ˇ object in working seems to be the wage that comes at the end
of the week; work has for them no interest or value in itself, no great
significance for mankind at large, no place of importance in the
development and expression of the personal soul; their daily task has
chiefly, if not merely, a monetary value to themselves. Of course,
wages, dividends, and prices are important, but they ought to be put in
their proper place.

There are other folk, a host of unimaginative souls, who cannot see
beyond the particular task they have in hand, who never seem to
appreciate its relation to other tasks, its place in the whole finished
scheme of things, and this criticism applies not only to the
wage-earner, but to the big man of business when his only object is the
building up of his own concern without much thought of its place in the
common life of the community as a whole. 

From both the mercenary and the unimaginative outlook our task of
temple-building calls us to the broader vision laid the nobler attitude
of helping the G.A.O.T.U. to build the temple of a consecrated humanity
Ś to do our work, whatever it may be, to the the glory of God, and the
welfare of our fellow men. To such a splendid task the idealists of the
centuries have given themselves with a consuming zeal ; to such a noble
enterprise they challenge us to-day. Let us reply in the words of
William Blake:ˇ 

"I will not cease from mental strife,
Nor shall the sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land."


 

                                        DISCUSSION

V.WOR. BRO. W. J. WILLIAMS :

We have had a wonderful opportunity to-night of listening to an
astonishingly inspiring address, one which I am sure has been very
helpful to us all. I do not attempt to criticise it, as it is quite
beyond criticism in any way. Our Grand Chaplain has led us through our
ritual, and taken out of it a great number of golden thoughts, which we
have been able to listen to and to dwell upon, and upon which we will be
able to think and meditate still further at some future date. It is
glorious to be taken through our ritual by means of various lectures
such as we have enjoyed to-night, by one who is so well acquainted with
the ideas connected with it. Shall we not say that it has been good for
us to be here this evening, because
we have been able without any doubt to delve into the spiritual side of
Freemasonry. In our Lodge room, although we should meet in a spiritual
atmosphere, sometimes it is missing. It should always be present, and if
the Brethren could think, as we have been thinking to-night, I believe
our ceremonies would be on a much higher plane than some of them are. It
is only by thinking of those ideals and those beautiful jewels of
thought which are in the ritual and only want bringing out, that we can
make the very ceremonies through which we go from time to time as
spiritual as they should be. For surely it is in the Temple life of the
Mason that he comes so closely in contact with God Himself. The lecturer
would have us realise that
we are nothing more nor less than temples of the Living God, as St. Paul
tells us.

I am thankful to the Grand Chaplain for his lecture this evening. I can
remember the days when he was the W.M. of his Lodge, and I was District
Inspector, and he gave me words of great encouragement on the occasions
when I visited his Lodge. Not only that, but in another sphere of
action, the Canon was able by some words which he has perhaps long
forgotten, to be of considerable help to me.

V. WOR. BRO. R. S. ROBERTSON : 

I desire to express my appreciation of the delightful manner in which
the Grand Chaplain has presented to our minds the beautiful attributes
of reverence, fellowship, consecration and dedication, and also the
necessity for giving due and strict attention to sacred things. I think
that very often, we as Masons in our ordinary Lodge room, become
somewhat casual. If we only entered into the right spirit at the very
opening of our Lodges, we would realise the beauty of the prayer of
invocation we offer ˇ that all our work may be begun, continued and
ended in Him Who is our Almighty Creator.

I think the Lecturer somehow struck a note of pessimism when (speaking
very reverently), he said that he was afraid that we, as a British
Nation, had at the close of the war, practically told the Almighty Being
that He was no longer wantedˇjust as we had demobilised the troops and
told them they were no longer wanted. In the Great War to which he
referred, there were leaders raised up by God from every nation to lead
the forces of right to conquer; and I think you will agree with me, that
even in the present day there are leaders of thought in the Church who
are strong men and brave, and just in their own way as capable and as
ardent in their profession in directing their congregations in various
cities and among different nations to the thought and worship of our
Almighty Father.

In connection with the beautiful address we have listened to to-night, I
have just jotted down a few thoughts. Our third degree is really the
initiation to the hidden mysteries. The true Mason is not like the
Pharisee of old. He does not, say, "I am here to instruct the brethren,
and to reform them," but it seems to me that with true humility he
realises that he requires assistance much more than those with whom he
is coming into contact and is called upon to instruct. So that brings
home to him the necessity and the realisation that he must improve
himself intellectually and otherwise, and that he must take the beam out
of his own eye before he can think of trying to remove the mote out of
his Brother's eye. So he must cultivate the qualities of
self-improvement and self-abnegation. As they are worked out in one's
character, one feels that he must do good to others, and that brings
before us the principles of faith, hope and charity; faith in our
Almighty Creator. Faith inspires in us hope, not only for this life, but
for that which is to come, and that brings us to the last ˇ charity.
"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of
these is charity."

In building our own characters we realise that Masonry is not a
religion, but it is founded upon the purest religious principles. So
without conflicting with the so-called creeds or religions of the world,
we as Masons acknowledge the G.A. whether known to us as Jehovah, Abba
or Our Father.

In closing, I would like to express my deep appreciation of the way in
which the lecturer has directed our thoughts upward. 

BRO. GLANVILLE :

I wish to add my tribute of appreciation to those who have spoken
previously with regard to the address we have had this evening from V.
Wor. Bro. Hilliard. Many of the themes that he brought out so clearly to
our minds were themes of which we had been dimly conscious as we have
tried to follow the ritual month after month in our respective Lodges,
but we have not been able to think them out clearly for ourselves. They
were things we wanted to know, but had never been able to grasp them.
Bro. Hilliard has brought to us the realisation of those things
to-night.

To my mind, the address may be summed up under three rather than four
headings, and those are, Wonder, Vision and Venture. He called Wonder,
reverence, with regard to the Universe in which the Creator has placed
us. He placed before us all the wonders and workings of science as they
have been revealed to us, and he asked us to wonder as to what was to be
the outcome of the political and social movements of the world to-day ˇ
movements which are causing all earnest people a great deal of anxiety.
A man is not to be called a pessimist because he faces these things
seriously. Everything of a material nature is emphasised. Every argument
can be produced, but where have we heard anyone ask, "What is the will
of the Creator?" Economic, social and political questions,
statesmanship and statecraft, all these things are being emphasised, but
not once in our public life, not even in great conferences such as is
being held at Ottawa, is there any mention of the will of God. After
all, the will of the Creator ought to be supreme, and people ought to be
anxious to know what it is. There should be the right spirit of wonder
as to how the Creator will enable us to get out of our difficulties.

Philosophy and history tell us that the Creator has not scrupled to put
on to the scrap heap civilisations as great as those we have built up
for ourselves in the present day. Long ago there were civilisations
which were the wonder of the world, and are the wonder of those
archaeologists who, to-day, try to pick up threads of knowledge about
them. Those mighty empires went into oblivion, and were forgotten. Is
that going to happen to our own western civilisation?

Bro. Hilliard took us to that other attitude of Vision. He showed us how
the spirit of Freemasonry, carried out in daily life and lived by us
individually, would help not only to create the temple of our own lives,
but the temple of humanity, which, like Solomon's Temple, must be
magnifical. Freemasonry can do it, and if anything is going to save our
western civilisation, it is the spirit that is in Freemasonry, together
with that in the Churches.

Then the Lecturer referred, in other words, to the spirit of Venture,
that as Masons we should risk something, that we should step out in
Faith, that we should have courage for that Consecration he spoke of.

Those are the things the world needs at the present day. The outlook is
gloomy enough. The state of affairs gives great cause for concern. If
that were the only part of the lecture, it would have been useful, but
he has given us a Vision, and he has challenged us to venture to
consecration. He has made our ritual live, and has put it before us
to-night in such a way as will make its truths continue to live in our
memories, and stir us up to noble actions. For that reason I desire to
add my tribute of appreciation, and to say how much I am indebted to V.
Wor. Bro. Hilliard.

THE W.M. : 

I would like to give expression to the very deep gratitude we feel
towards V. Wor. Bro. Hilliard for his eloquent and inspiring address.
The close and rapt attention which was given to him must have been an
assurance to him that his words were sinking into our hearts. He showed
that perhaps some of us thinking so hard about the allegory, and trying
to find out the meaning of symbolism, were inclined to lose sight of the
simple elementary truths that have been impressed upon us in our ritual.
Those lessons of reverence, fellowship and consecration are given to us
very simply and definitely in our ritual. We pledge ourselves to them
very simply and solemnly. Sometimes we think so much of the deeper
meanings of the symbolism, and try so hard to interpret the allegory,
that we lose sight of the simple truths. 

The literary aspect of this address has been very delightful to us all,
and the real Masonic part of it will, I am sure, be a great inspiration
to us. It certainly made me realise in some measure some of my own
Masonic deficiencies, and I feel that it will have the same effect on
other brethren. Up to the present this year we have had five lectures,
three of which have been given by Brethren in the Ministry. We have two
more this year, and one of those will be given by another minister. It
shows us that our Brethren in the ministry take Masonry very seriously.

                              V. WOR. BRO. HILLIARD (in reply) :

W.M. and Brethren, I thank you heartily for your very generous words. I
have keenly appreciated the kind remarks both of yourself and the
Brethren who have spoken this evening. I am very grateful to them, and
in particular to my friend, Bro. Glanville, for the way in which they
have supplemented and interpreted some of the things that I have said.

The number present never concerns me very much. I have spoken to vast
gatherings, and I have sat in a wireless station and spoken to nobody in
the room except the announcer, and I confess that is rather an eerie
experience. Yet I have learned that it is not always to the big
gatherings that one is able to say things that are of some help.
Sometimes the atmosphere is against it.

With regard to the particular things that have been said, I am far from
taking a pessimistic outlook upon the general position of the world. I
believe it calls for honest facing of facts, but when you have faced all
the facts, and when you have taken into consideration all the trends of
thought in the present age that are against the ideals for which we
stand, when you think of all the difficulties that make the task of
building the temple an onerous one, your mind goes back to the days when
Haggai roused his people to resume the work of building the temple. They
were living in an age very like ours, a generation suffering from
disillusionment. They had dreamt while away in captivity of the glory of
their native land, and they came back and found the walls broken down.
They were up against great obstacles in the way of opposition by the
Samaritans, and difficulty in getting building materials, and in being
allowed to proceed with the work. They were suffering from bad harvests
and economic depression.

We, to-day, find ourselves with the same currents and trends of thought;
the sex outlook of the present generation, the materialism, the
aggressive, well-organised and militant godlessness ˇ all these are
difficulties which we must face with an honest heart. And then we have
the economic depression. But I believe the message comes to us as it did
to those people of old, through Haggai. He says, "Be strong, 0
Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and be strong, 0 Joshua, son of Josedech,
the high priest; and be strong all ye people of the land, saith the
Lord, and work; for I am with you, saith the Lord of Hosts."(Haggai,
2-4.)

It is a challenge to realise that in the midst of all these facts that
are against us is the great fact of God. It is God Who calls us to the
task. "Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage, for
the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." When we look
around us and remember that fact, pessimism departs. We begin to
remember other hopeful signs in the situation. I believe this very
depression is a great opportunity for those of us who hold these higher
principles. You remember when the Prodigal Son came to the huska, he
next came to himself, and said, "I will arise and go to my father, and
say unto him, Father, I have sinned."

I believe the fact that we have been driven to look facts and realities
in the face by means of sheer economic necessity is likely to drive us
to ourselves, and make us with penitence turn to God. When this
generation of ours does turn to God, what a wonderful generation it will
be! The Great War has shown us what an extraordinary capacity this
generation has for the virtues of service and sacrifice, and
brotherhood! Capitalism may have done many wicked things, but it has
organised the material wealth of the world, and scientific discoveries
annihilating space have put into the hands of this generation
wonderfully organised resources. How golden the future is, and how
tremulous with hope for the building of that temple, if we can get this
generation to see the light and the spirit of Masonic truth.