Google+ has established "Communities". I am now moderating an open community for those interested in Prince Hall Freemasonry. You can find it at this link:
Truth, whether as expressed in Masonry or otherwise, is at all times an open secret, but is as a pillar of light to those able to receive and profit by it, and to all others but one of darkness and unintelligibility. An elementary and formal secrecy is requisite as a practical precaution against the intrusion of improper persons and for preventing profanation. In other respects the vital secrets of life, and of any system expounding life, protect themselves even though shouted from the housetops, because they mean nothing to those as yet unqualified for the knowledge and unready to identify themselves with it by incorporating it into their habitual thought and conduct.
THE MEANING OF MASONRY
By W. L. WILMSHURST
P.M. 275; PAST PROVINCIAL GRAND REGISTRAR (WEST YORKS.)
That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of an good, even to this extent, that the regenerate man himself, without that prevenient or assisting; awakening, following, and co-operative grace, can neither think, will, nor do good, nor withstand any temptations to evil; so that all good deeds or movements that can be conceived must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. But, as respects the mode of the operation of this grace, it is not irresistible, inasmuch as it is written concerning many that they have resisted the Holy Ghost,—Acts vii, and elsewhere in many places.
"Were such instruction provided, assimilated and responded to, the life of the Order would be enormously quickened and deepened and its efficiency as a means of Initiation intensified, whilst incidentally the fact would prove an added safeguard against the admission into the Order of unsuitable members which is meant not merely persons who fail to satisfy conventional qualifications, but also those who, whilst fitted in these respects, are as yet either so intellectually or spiritually unprogressed as to be incapable of benefiting from Initiation in its true sense although passing formally through Initiation rites. Spiritual quality rather than numbers, ability to understand the Masonic system and reduce implications into personal experience rather than perfunctory conferment of its rites, are the desiderata of the Craft to-day."
THE MEANING OF MASONRY
By W. L. WILMSHURST
P.M. 275; PAST PROVINCIAL GRAND REGISTRAR (WEST YORKS.)
That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free will, inasmuch as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, can of and by himself neither think, will, nor do anything that is truly good (such as having faith eminently is); but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ, through his Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the word of Christ, John xv. 5: "Without me ye can do nothing."
Here is an original receipt from Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co. dated May 13, 1935. This is the way business used to be conducted. This order was received and processed in May of 1935 and is an order for lambskins. This is from the historical collection of Past Master Antonio Caffey.
That, agreeably thereto, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, died for all men and for every man, so that he has obtained for them all, by his death on the cross, redemption, and the forgiveness of sins; yet that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins, except the believer, according to the word of the Gospel of John iii. 16: "God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life"; and in the First Epistle of John ii. 2: "And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
This post is intended to continue my study of numbers and their significance to different traditions and systems, looking for parallels and consistencies. I was led to "the 42 Negative Confessions" after giving due consideration to the fact that Jesus was born out of 42 generations from Abraham, apparently in 3 cycles of 14 generations.
The 42 Negative Confessions are a part of an Ancient Egyptian tradition. They come from what has been titled the Papyrus of Ani, part of the larger book known by some as "The Book of the Dead", and by others as "The Book of Coming Forth By Day". The "confessions" are statements, called "negative" because they affirm what the speaker has "not" done. For example, I have not lied, I have not cheated, I have not stolen. The Ancient Egyptian tradition holds that one must affirm these confessions upon one's death in a ritual that requires the deceased to measure the balance of one's deeds in life against a feather. The concept being basically that one does not have a guilty heart, and that one can stand by their past before those who would decide their fate in the afterworld.
The goddess Ma'at
The tradition interested me long before I became a Mason because of the concepts involved. The Ancient Egyptian conception of Justice, or rightness, or correctness of ethical or moral behavior, was represented by Ma'at, a goddess whose symbol was a feather. These concepts can be seen in several other ancient traditions, including the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament of the Bible, as well as Masonic obligations. The statements themselves are known to have varied depending on who was making them, but they addressed a number of common basic themes requiring persons to live according to a defined code of behavior. Whether a tradition says "I have not", or "I will not", or "Thou Shalt Not", the behaviors are common. The Negative Confessions of the Papyrus of Ani were 42 in number, although they could easily have been reduced through some judicious editing. One reason I believe is that although the statements are repetitive, they are expected to be "state-able" to multiple hearers.
You can read about the 42 Negative Confessions in a lot of places online, and I am not attempting to delve deeply into their significance here. I simply acknowledge them as evidence of an ancient tradition that is clearly relevant if not directly delineable to modern Freemasonry.
Now here are my disclaimers. I do not spiritually subscribe to the Ancient Egyptian religious tradition. In fact, I do not believe most adherents of Egyptological traditions have the first idea what they are talking about. I think they make up what they don't understand, and the waters have been greatly muddied. The translation of these statements I refer to below are from E. A. Wallis Budge, whose work has been accurately criticized for a lot of good reasons. However, his translations are still used because they are the most readily available translations that appear to have been derived through some semblance of legitimate scholarship. Finally, I study this information as a matter of historical, cultural, and philosophical interest. I am not a part of other groups who use this information as a basis of their spiritual tradition, which is in conflict with my own. As a Mason, I can study and reflect on a great many things without adopting them. These traditions have a great value and are profound in a way to me, simply not in the same way as for one for whom these may be a part of their sacred texts.
Here are the 42 "Negative Confessions" of the Papyrus of Ani, The Book of the Dead, or the Book of Coming Forth By Day, as you like.
1. I have not committed sin.
2. I have not committed robbery with violence.
3. I have not stolen.
4. I have not slain men and women.
5. I have not stolen grain.
6. I have not purloined offerings.
7. I have not stolen the property of God.
8. I have not uttered lies.
9. I have not carried away food.
10. I have not uttered curses.
11. I have not committed adultery, I have not lain with men.
12. I have made none to weep.
13. I have not eaten the heart.
14. I have not attacked any man.
15. I am not a man of deceit.
16. I have not stolen cultivated land.
17. I have not been an eavesdropper.
18. I have not slandered.
19. I have not been angry without just cause.
20. I have not debauched the wife of any man.
21. I have not debauched the wife of any man.
22. I have not polluted myself.
23. I have terrorized none.
24. I have not transgressed the law.
25. I have not been wroth.
26. I have not shut my ears to the words of truth.
27. I have not blasphemed.
28. I am not a man of violence.
29. I have not been a stirrer up of strife.
30. I have not acted with undue haste.
31. I have not pried into matters.
32. I have not multiplied my words in speaking.
33. I have wronged none, I have done no evil.
34. I have not worked witchcraft against the king.
35. I have never stopped the flow of water.
36. I have never raised my voice.
37. I have not cursed God.
38. I have not acted with arrogance.
39. I have not stolen the bread of the gods.
40. I have not carried away the khenfu cakes from the Spirits of the dead.
41. I have not snatched away the bread of the child, nor treated with contempt the god of my city.
42. I have not slain the cattle belonging to the god.
As you consider these things, it is instructive to remember that making the correct statements in this ritual tradition determine if you are able to go forward into the next state of being, whatever that is. Also, consider how ancient the tradition was. The scroll of the Papyrus of Ani was dated at around 1250 B.C. It would have taken many years even before this to have reached this level of philosophical sophistication. The statements are just one small part of a highly complex ritual tradition that included many arts and sciences.
"So all the generations from Abraham to David [are] fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon [are] fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ [are] fourteen generations."
This scripture, Matthew 1:17 appears to want to highlight the number 14. Three cycles of 14 = 42, which this scripture also appears to want to highlight. Jesus Christ is 42 Generations from Abraham.
Here is a document from the historical collection of Past Master Antonio Caffey. This describes an interesting scenario. It is a "Special Permit" allowing "public dances" in the Temple. We can only surmise that as ritual work has been described as dramatic plays, some of the activity might be described as "dance" for lack of a better description. I don't know how the work was performed in the 1930's, but I can tell you I haven't experienced anything like dancing yet.
The original document is typed on a very fine onion skin paper, and is dated September 8, 1934. We are thankful to Past Master Caffey for it's preservation and presentation. It is another view into our past.
The Five articles of Remonstrance refers to the document drawn up in 1610 by the followers of Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609). A “remonstrance” is literally “an expression of opposition or protest,” which in this case was a protest against the Calvinist doctrine of predestination contained in the Belgic Confession. Consequently, those followers of Arminius who drafted this protest were given the name “Remonstrants.”
That God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ, his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ's sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this his Son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the Gospel in John iii. 36: "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him," and according to other passages of Scripture also.
As part of my study of Christianity, I am studying Methodism. As part of that study are the ideas of Jacobus Arminius, Dutch Thoelogian (1560 - 1609). Adherents of his root ideas are known as Remonstrants, and their Five Articles of Remonstrance are influential in the development of Methodism. I am studying these articles one by one and I'm posting them as I study.