THE COVERING OF A LODGE

THE MASONIC REVIEW  - 1853

The "covering of a Lodge is no less than a clouded canopy,
or starry-decked heaven, where all good Masons hope at
last to arrive, by the aid of that theological ladder, which
Jacob in his vision saw ascending from earth to heaven; the
three principal rounds of which are denominated Faith, Hope
and Charity, and which admonish us to have faith in God,
hope in immortality, and charity to all mankind. The greatest
of these is charity; for our faith will be lost in sight; hope ends
in fruition; but charity extends beyond the grave, through the
boundless realms of eternity." CRAFTSMAN.

Such is the quaint language of Masonry in describing a
Lodge in all its parts and purposes. The language is that of
antiquity, for it has been used by the Craft from time
immemorial. It is beautiful and expressive, as well as
venerable, and embraces in few words the moral creed of
the Mason - "faith in God, hope in immortality, and charity to
all mankind." The occurrence referred to is designed to teach
us the doctrine of a watchful and overruling Providence:- that
the destiny of men is not left to blind chance, as the Atheist
would madly teach; but that over this world - this Lodge - in
which we are apprentices for eternity, there is a Providence
which, by laws and modes of its own enactment, the affairs
of those who put their trust in God, are all directed. However
we maybe situated, in the crowded city or desert waste;
amid friends at home or alone in foreign lands, still God is
above and over all. The eye that never "slumbers nor
sleeps" is cognizant of every thought and action; and the
arm that guides and governs the destiny of all things will
protect and shelter the objects of his care.

Let us look at the occurrence more particularly. The wife of
the aged patriarch, Isaac, knowing that a blessing of
priceless value had been promised to her husband "and his
seed after him," determined if possible, to obtain it as an
inheritance for her youngest son, Jacob. To effect this, she
had recourse to stratagem, and by fraud and falsehood she
succeeded in her design, and Jacob secured the blessing.
The elder son and rightful heir, Esau, became greatly
enraged at being thus defrauded, and Jacob was advised to
fly to Padan-Aram, in Mesopotamia, to escape the
vengeance of his outraged brother. In all this transaction
Jacob was not so much to blame as his artful and designing
mother, although he was consenting to the unrighteous act.
She, however, received her reward, for she saw her son no
more:- fourteen years afterwards, when the wanderer
returned, she was in her grave. Jacob, also, was taught that
the "way of the transgressor was hard;" for he was
compelled to leave his father's house and his native land,
and spend toiling years, - a servant among strangers. He
found, too, that "with what measure ye mete, it shall be
measured to you again;" for as he had defrauded his brother,
he himself was in turn defrauded by Laban out of seven
years of labor, - or rather, the reward of seven years of
labor-the object of his most ardent affection.

But notwithstanding all these untoward features of this whole
transaction, the eye of God was upon Jacob for good. We
can imagine his feeling, and the emotions that swelled his
young heart, as the fond farewell lingered upon his lips, and
he turned away in sadness and sorrow from the home and
friends of his childhood. He was to go to a strange country -
to the home of strangers; he was gong on that long and
weary journey alone. There would be no friend with him for
counsel or protection. Besides, should his elder brother,
whom he had so deeply wronged, overtake him, alone and
unprotected, what might be his fate! He knew, also, that he
was guilty, and merited the severest chastisement. That
sense of guilt added speed to his flight, and the dread of
approaching danger drowned every emotion of regret at his
departure. The lot of Jacob, and his seeming destiny, was at
this moment most unenviable. A youthful fugitive from
justice; compelled to flee from his kindred and home, and
seek a refuge among strangers and far away. What heart
does not pity the youthful wanderer?

A consciousness of guilt, doubtless, produced in Jacob's
heart its legitimate fruits - a hearty and sincere repentance.
Could we follow his footsteps across the plain, and through
the rugged defile, and away among the mountain ranges
towards Mesopotamia, we should likely witness the tear of
sorrow at his misdoings, and hear the sigh escaping from his
repentant heart. How desolate must have been that journey!
How lonely and sad the weary hours, while he toiled on-
farther from home-and farther among strangers.

It was night. Darkness had overtaken the traveler in the
neighborhood of Luz; but he was afraid to enter the city,
fearful lest his out-raged brother might have reached it
before him. He therefore chose to spend the night "in a
certain place." He made a pillow of stones, and on them be
laid him down to sleep. How different from his quiet and
comfortable home! His mind perhaps wandered back to that
Meca of the affections; and, as tired nature sank away into
slumber, he was once more beside his mother, and again
worshipping at the shrine around which clung his young
heart's affections.

But he dreamed, and the God of his fathers saw fit to reveal
himself to the lone wanderer in a "vision of the night." A
"ladder was set upon the earth, and the top of it reached to
heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and
descending on it. And the Lord stood above it," and spake to
the future Patriarch, "I am the Lord God of Abraham thy
father." Here was a basis for the "hope in immortality."
Abraham had long slept in the vale of Mamre; but "God is
not the God of the dead, but of the living." Therefore, though
Abraham had passed away from earth, he was not "dead,
but sleeping;" his body was in the grave, but the man - the
spiritual man could not die, - that was immortal, for a voice
from the skies proclaimed Jehovah still the "God of
Abraham." Here was the revelation of one important truth;
the immortality of the soul was clearly taught by the lips of
divine authority.

But this was not all. The august speaker above him declared
that He would be with the sleeper in his farther wanderings,
and bring him "again into this land." "I will not leave thee,"
said the friend of the penitent wanderer, "until I have done
that which I have spoken to thee of." Here was the
groundwork for an unshaken "faith in God." The Almighty
had pledged his word to Jacob; and there on that mystic
ladder were the spiritual messengers of His power, ready to
do His bidding and minister to the youthful wanderer in his
exile from home and friends. Here, also, Jacob was taught to
love his fellows; to exercise "charity towards all mankind." He
was permitted an interview with the august Father of all; and
then and there he was taught the principles of that piety
which he exhibited in such rich maturity in his future life.

This whole occurrence is full of interesting instruction; and
Masons, especially, should ponder it well, while the eye rests
upon the engraving that illustrates it. It is not guilt alone that
severs the bonds of early friendship, and sends manhood in
its morning to other and distant lauds. Duty, business,
pleasure, frequently separates the young craftsman from his
friends and early home, and leads him "in a path he knew
not." Alone, inexperienced, and unprotected, he may find
himself among strangers, with no friend or "brother" to
counsel or guide him. But he should never forget that He in
whom he was taught confidently to trust, was the "God of
Abraham;" and that wherever may find himself on the wide
earth, though it may be slumbering on the road side, with a
stone for his pillow and darkness for his curtains, yet above
him is an "all-seeing eye." And that, however lonely and
desolate the spot, there is still a pathway thence to heaven.
Let him, therefore, steadfastly cling to his "faith in God" - the
God of the Patriarchs - the God of the Bible. On this faith, as
a basis, and sustained by an active obedience to the
precepts taught in the "great Light of Masonry," he may
indulge a hope - a blessed hope, - in a glorious immortality.
And the watchful care of his Father in heaven, the blessings
daily received from His bountiful hands, should induce him to
cultivate "charity towards all mankind" - that charity which
prompteth to kindly acts to all, especially the "household of
faith," and which even "thinketh no evil."

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