Union ⬩ United States
One above all inspired utterances has been taken into the heart of Masonry: it is that which affirms how good and blessed a thing it is for Brethren to dwell together in unity. Therein is formulated the welding bond of our Fellowship, and this is a vital bond. The growth of our years in Masonry is a growth in the sense of life. The evidences are about us continually, provided only—as a condition on the part of us each—we carry within us a certain gift of life which corresponds to life about us. It is in this manner that we become and remain living stones built up into a House of Life. In all its Rites and Degrees Masonry ceases to be an instituted association divided into Lodges, Chapters, Preceptories and Conclaves: it is a single Lodge of Brotherhood, the roof of which is truly in heaven, the base below the grave and the walls are coincident with the four quarters. “Striking the electric bond wherewith we are darkly bound,” the communications of fraternity reach us from all sides; there are no strangers among us; we share a common knowledge; we speak a common language; the bond between us is the freedom of a spiritual city, in which all are kindred. It is the most important thing about Masonry, this secret life by which we are drawn together, out of all tribes and tongues and peoples and nations. It is a beginning only, and we are far from entering adequately into its conscious realisation or the vast power for good which is put thus into our hands.
Heaven and Earth.—I have said that it is a beginning only, and the reason is that the worlds above and below are bound together. The Grand Lodge which is above is not in separation from the Lodges which are below; there is a communion in the grace and purity of true Masonry, as there is a communion of saints; it is indeed the same kind of golden chain, one among a multitude of degrees in the same consanguinity of spiritual fellowship. In its proper understanding the bond of union is part of the kinship and community between man and God. We are told in the Secret Tradition that there is a ladder of holiness by which man is joined with the Holy One: it is in this sense that—according to the symbolism of Masonic language—the Great Architect of the Universe presides over that Grand Lodge which has its session in the Eternal Kingdom. But the union is much deeper than any such conventions of language can ever formulate. The Master is not only in the midst of those who love Him, as the Zohar says, but the intercourse thus adumbrated is such that the Holy One and the Community of Mystic Israel are called one. Of this Divine Union and of the election by which man is called to share therein our kinships here below can become and, in cases, are a valid and efficacious sacrament: it is this which constitutes the golden chain of Masonry, and that bond is raised as if from the Craft into the High Degrees.
The sacramental gift of Masonry—that outward and visible sign of many an inward grace about the extent and efficacy of which those who gave at the period knew so little—was offered comparatively early to the great American Continent, if it be true—as one story tells us—that the London Grand Lodge, acting by Its Grand Master, the Duke of Norfolk, appointed a certain unknown Brother, Daniel Coxe, Provincial Grand Master of New Jersey in 1729. The field of his jurisdiction was wide enough geographically, but there appears to have been no Lodge, while he himself fell asleep amidst the greatness thrust upon him and founded nothing. We reach the historical period in 1733, when the St. John's Lodge was opened at Boston—seemingly as a Provincial Grand Lodge—under Charter from England. Whether it was from this point, as from a vital and active centre, that Masonry began to spread over the whole continent is not antecedently probable: there were no doubt many contributories; but a full investigation of the subject would fill one of these volumes, as there is abundant material available. I must hold it sufficient to establish the result at the present day, when every state of the Republic has its own Grand Lodge, all—I believe—in communion one with another and all autonomous. The order of their creation is as follows: (1) Massachusetts, 1733; (2) North Carolina, 1771; (3) Virginia, 1777; (4) New York, 1781; (5) Georgia, 1786; (6) Pennsylvania, 1786; (7) New Jersey, 1786; (8) Maryland, 1787; (9) South Carolina, 1787; (10) Connecticut, 1789; (11) New Hampshire, 1789; (12) Rhode Island, 1791; (13) Vermont, 1794; (14) Kentucky, 1800; (15) Delaware, 1806; (16) Ohio, 1808; (17) Colombia, 1810; (18) Louisiana, 1812; (19) Tennessee, 1813; (20) Indiana, 1818; (21) Mississippi, 1818; (22) Maine, 1820; (23) Missouri, 1821; (24) Alabama, 1821; (25) Florida, 1830; (26) Arkansas, 1832; (27) Texas, 1837; (28) Illinois, 1840; (29) Wisconsin, 1843; (30) Iowa, 1844; (31) Michigan, 1844; (32) Kansas, 1850; (33) California, 1850; (34) Oregon, 1851; (35) Minnesota, 1853; (36) Nebraska, 1857; (37) Washington, 1858; (38) Colorado, 1861; (39) Nevada, 1865; (40) Montana, 1866; (41) West Virginia, 1866; (42) Idaho, 1867; (43) Utah, 1872; (44) Indian Territory, 1874; (45) Wyoming 1874; (46) South Dakota, 1875; (47) New Mexico, 1877; (48) Arizona, 1882; (49) North Dakota, 1889; (50) Territory of Oklahoma, 1892.
The High Grades.—In addition to its Grand Lodge almost every State has a Grand Chapter presiding over Royal Arch Masonry, a Grand Council over Cryptic Masonry, a Grand Encampment over the Order of the Temple. It is to be noted further that there is a General Grand Chapter for the whole of the United States, but it is very limited in its powers, except in those districts where no Grand Chapter has been established. As regards the Grand Encampment of the United States, this is a sovereign ruling body. The Scottish Rite has a Northern and Southern Jurisdiction, each governed by its Supreme Council: the Southern, which is the senior Body, rules thirty-six States in respect of Scottish Masonry, while only fourteen are under the control of the Northern. There is a sense in which the Grand Lodge of each State is predominant over all Grand Jurisdictions within the sphere of its influence—the Scottish Rite included. But this predominance—I understand—signifies only that its decree of expulsion or suspension obtains through all the Rites.
National Distinctions.—The exclusive character of English High Grade Masonry is indicated in a typical manner by the Concordat subsisting between the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees and other Ruling Obediences, by which the introduction of any new Rite is rendered practically impossible. In America, on the other hand, there appears to be a free field, it being understood that the prerogatives of the Scottish Rite shall remain intact. The result is an enormous multiplicity of inventions, mostly worthless, and yet a few among them are not without their titles. At least in the great Land of the West, the course followed looks like the wiser course; things that are bad or indifferent are mostly mushroom giowths, and the better things go on, because their stars lead them. Moreover, if a time should come for something great and vital—beyond our present measures—to arise in the World of Ritual, the generous Brotherhoods of America will reap their reward: there it will arise or thither repair at least. In that fair field, if anywhere, Masonry will receive its crown.