Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The reception of Voltaire among the Freemasons

Just a few extracts from the address by the Worshipful Master to Voltaire, who was seated by an unusual distinction in the East.

"Very dear Brother, the era most flattering for this Lodge will be henceforth marked by the day of your admission. It brings an Apollo to the Lodge of the Nine Sisters. She finds in him a friend of humanity who reunites all the titles of glory that she is able to desire for the ornamentation of Freemasonry. A King (Frederick the Great of Prussia), of whom you have long been the friend, and who is known as the Illustrious Protector of our Order, had inspired in you the taste for entering it; but it was to your own country that you reserved the satisfaction of initiating you to our mysteries. After having received the applause and the cheers of the nation, after having seen its enthusiasm and its raptures, you come to receive, in the Temple of friendship, of virtue, and of letters, a crown less brilliant but equally solacing to the heart and the soul. The emulation that your presence undoubtedly will spread and enforce, giving a new lustre and a new activity to our Lodge, will redown to the profit of the poor she solaces, of the studies she encourages, and of all the good she ceases not to do. What citizen has so well served as you the nation in the illumination of duty and of true interests, in rendering fanaticism odious and superstition ridiculous, in recalling good taste to its true principles, history to its real purpose, the laws to their chief integrity.

We Brethren promise to come to the succor of our friends; but you have been the creator of a multitude who adore you and who give a voice to your good deeds. You have raised a Temple to the Eternal; but that which we value even more, we have seen near this Temple and asylum, a refuge for men outlawed but useful, that a blind zeal had repelled. Thus, my dear Brother, you were a Freemason before that time when you formally received that designation, and you were fulfilling Masonic duties before you had taken the obligation between our hands. The square that we bear is the symbol of the rectitude of our actions; the apron represents a life of labor and of useful activity; the white gloves express candor, innocence, and the purity of our actions; the trowel serves to cover up the defects of the Brethren; all these are relating to benevolence and love of humanity, and consequently, only expressing the qualities that distinguish you. We are but able to unite you with us, and of receiving you with the tribute of our admiration and of our recognition."

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