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THE MICHIGAN FREEMASON.
VOL. III.- MARCH, A. L. 5872.- XO. XI.
BY WILLIAM ROUNSEVILLE.
A LODGE-ROOM should be safe from intrusion, and so situated as that there can be no danger of being overheard when at work. The pluce should be such that there need be no care taken lest cowans should listen and hear the pronunciation of our mysteries. There should be no necessity that the voice be lowered below the natural key. But this is so obviously correct that it needs nothing further than a statement of the fact.
The lodge-room should be pleasant and comfortable. It is folly to suppose that under ordinary circumstances nien will assemble together night after night and become attached to an institution which 90t only fails to make its meetings pleasurable and enjoyable, but which absolutely puts its members upon the rack while it demands their presence, by providing uncomfortable seats, in a room cold in winter and hot and ill-ventilated in summer. There are few who will long be regular attendants when these are the conditions. The seats ought to be easy and comfortable, the room of the right temperature and pure
air secured by proper ventilation. But a lodge-room ought to be more than comfortable ; it should be pleasant and inviting. It is true that not many lodges can afford to make a display of architectural beauty, or can consult their wishes as to decorations. But there is no necessity of having room so utterly at variance with architectural propotion as to be offensive to good taste or so decorated as to be disgusting. Neatness can be attained anywhere, and it should be remembered that beauty and simplicity are often seen
VOL. III.-NO. IX.-25.
together, and nowhere may they more appropriately appear thus than in the lodge-room.
“Cleanliness is next to godliness." This is as true of the lodge as it is of the church or any body of people. A lodge-room kept scrupulously clean, is a constant reminder to the members of the virtue of cleanliness and a perpetual monition to them to practice it. It can not be wondered at that our lodges get careless and indifferent, both as to attendance and appearance, when half of the rooms they occupy are better fitted for stables than for dwelling-places for sentient being. They will inevitably become disgusted and absent themselves from the lodge-room when there is anything about the lodge-room that is contrary to the demands of cleanliness. A Mason does not like to attend lodge where he soils his garments by sitting on undusted chairs and blackenz his hind; whenever they come in contact with any article of furniture, where he has to breath an atmosphere surcharged with dust. And yet many of our lodge-rooms are more disgustingly filthly than we have imagined. What wonder is it that cleanly people stay away from the meetings and become careless of their obligations to Masonry.
And ventilation is equally disregarded. How often do we enter a lodge-room where we are over-powered by the odor of a vault for the ded, or the perfume of rotten straw that haunts our nostrils for hours after we are freed from immediate contact. It is frequently necessary for the windows to be closed during work, because all rooms are not so situated as to be safe when open. But none rightly constructed but wait could be thoroughly aired and ventilated in the afternoon before ibe communication is held. And yet how few lodge-rooms have this precaution taken. The consequence is that the mind, instead of being clear and active, is depressed and dull, and members ought to be tiaankful if the seeds of permanent and serious disease are not planted in their system;. Many lodge-rooms are so much worse ventilated than our dwellings that we always feel the deleterious effects of breathing the confined air when we enter them, and it is only the fact that the time spent in them is at long intervals, and short in duration, that prevents the contraction of disease.
The heating of lodge-rooms is also neglected. The fire is usually kindled but a few moments Before the hour set for the meeting and when the members arrive there is not a comfortable spot in the room except the changing circle about the stove where the powers of heat and cold contend for the mastery. Even then the members are reduced to the alternative of roasting or freezing, and are sometimes exposed to the dangers of both at the same time. How much better
would it be for “the good of Masonry in general ” and that lodge in particular if the room could be thoroughly warmed during the afternoon, so that every part of it would be comfortable when the brethren assembled. There are many whose physical health will not allow them to attend under such circumstances. There are more who will not consent to brave the discomforts of a room so kept for the purpose of attending the lodge.
Lodges are prone to prepare a lodge-room larger than is necessary. In fact there seems to be a strife in some quarters to get the largest possible. Whas does a lodge with fifty need of a lodge-room of fifty by seventy feet? What better for the purposes of Masons is one of that size than one thirty by forty? The latter is large enough to do all the work of the lodge without inconvenience and comfortably seat all the brethren who will attend. What more is necessary ? On occasion of festivals the room might be more convenient if larger, but a lodge does not want to build for uncommon occasions and ought not to do so. Common occasions—the regular meetings of the lodge-occur much more frequently than the uncommon ones—the festivals of the Fraternity, and hence it is for the former and not for the latter that we should provide. Aside from the cost of building—which ought to be taken into the account—the small lodge-room can be furnished and operated at a much less expense than a large one, while at the same time it is more cheerful and comfortable.
To sum up the matter a medium-sized, well-built, well-furnished, well-ventilated, cheerful and comfortable lodge-room is what our common lodges require. We believe there is too little attention paid to this subject, to the great detriment of Masonry. Therefore have we written.- Trowel
THE POWER OF SILENCE.
BY REV. J. B. WATERBURY, D. D.
It is realized in the fearful pause that follows the thunder-peal ; in the moment of breathless suspense that succeeds the crash of an immense orchestra.
Then a single note from a fute or violin will often draw tears from the soul's depths. The deep, dark forest tells of its power, when the silence is rendered more emphatic by the solitary note of the oriole. Even Byron's harp had to confess this, when he sang
of the “ pleasure in the pathless woods,” of “a rapture on the lonely shore." And another, whose spirit had caught a higher tone from a
higher source, when pitied for his seperation from general society, said, “I am never less alone than when alone."
In the silence of the closet the soul has its sweetest communing It was after the tempest and the earthquake that the prophet recognized the presence of God in the still small voice," when he “ hid his face in his mantle.”
Silent voices come to us from the flames, from the clouds, from the stars ; and never is the power of silence more deeply felt than when, ascending some eminence in the still hour of a clear night, we take the devotional harp and sing, with the sweetest of minstreis, - When I consider Thy heavens,” &c.
The power of silence has been recognized in heaven. Its sublime orchestra ceased for the “space of half an hour.” How impressive that pause in the music of the upper sanctuary! It was to render more emphatic the succeeding trumpets of destiny. So say the commenta
Perhaps it had other ends.
God teaches us to improve silence as a season of mortal training. · Enter into thy closet and shut thy door.” What is meant by the sweet, silent power of prayer every Christian understands.
When we would see God, as it were, face to face, we must leave the mixed congregation and go with Moses up into the Mount. Our faces will gather no such radiance in the lower sphere.
Silence is the friend of the afflicted. When the hand of God is upon us we ask for no earthly comforters, but we "sit alone and are silent." When Job's friends—so called-broke their silence and began to upbraid, they deepened the anguish of his soul. Sit down by thy afflicted brother and look the sympathy which words cannot express. A tear is better sometimes than a homily or a sermon.
Silence is a good angel often in the social and domestic circle. "A soft answer turneth away wrath.” But, sometimes, no answer is still better. Moses spake, once, when he had better have kept silent. So also others, with less wisdom and less meekness, use the power of speech to their own disadvantage and to the injury of others. How much wrangling and heart-burning would be avoided, were the members of the household to make it a rule to keep silence under the temptation to anger, or when the irritating accusation would prompt them to retaliate! Angry words have sometimes led to incurable alienations. We have seen calm silence operate like magic on the angry spirit. How much would the peace of families be promoted were
re this power oftener brought into exercise! The fretful or impatient accusation, if received in silence, would speedily smoulder in its ashes:
It is repre
whereas, if it provoke the quick retort, it is very apt to kindle into a fearful fiame. The Christian understands the power of silence-
"In secret silence of the mind,
My heaven and there my God I find.” “I was dumb with silence." “ Whilst I was musing, the fire burned." “ Then spake I with my tongue." 6 So when the fire of love kindles in the soul, let the tongue speak of mercy and judgment."
A mercy envelopes the social intercourse of heaven. sented to us as fraught with all beauteous things and all sweet sounds. We think, therefore, that there will not only be sentiments appropriate to the sphere, but some mode of utterance akin to the sanctified harmonies of earth. Silence has its power by contrast. But a silent heaven-who can imagine it? No; the golden harps will ring. Angel choirs will join with redeemed souls in “the song of Moses and the Limb.' Silence will have had its use ; but now and henceforth heaven's music will need no contrast to give sweetness or augment its power.- New York Observer.
BY S. C. COFFINBERRY.
The new conditions of life which Charles Preston was rapidly contracting brought with them many anxieties. But four years had elapsed since he had left his mother's hearth filled with doubts, and feeling such a degree of despondency and, at the same time, indecision as to induce him to stop on the little stile, and debate in his own mind the great problem of life before him. Since the moment his final decision was made, on that eventful morning, his mind had daily and hourly turned back to that spot as home. There, he knew, there was always an affectionate anxiety for his welfare, and an experienced counselor to whom he could ever turn for advice.
Everything was now changed. He was no longer the dependent, but had become the head of the sacred household, with his mother and sister as dependents upon him. To these responsibilities he was about to add that of the most sacred of all others. In a few days more he would become a husband, and the arbiter of another's happiness, who had united her destiny with his. He had confidence in his own integrity of motive and his own moral strength, but yet he could not contemplate these coming events without a peculiar solem