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The Three Great Pillars

One of the earliest lessons taught the Masonic Initiate is, that every Masonic Temple, itself a symbol of the Universe, and of the soul of every upright and worthy man, is supported by three great columns, WISDOM, STRENGTH AND BEAUTY or HARMONY. The inmost meanings of these three columns, I am not at liberty to make known here. They involve the highest truths of Philosophy, and the profoundest Mysteries of Nature. When the Mason is advanced, however, to a certain point, he learns that these pillars of the old Temple are replaced with three others, the names of which are familiar to you all — FAITH, HOPE and CHARITY — virtues which every Mason and every man and woman ought to possess: FAITH — in God; that He is good and wise and merciful, a Father and not a Tyrant; whom we are as children to love, and not as slaves to fear; —in Human Nature; confidence in our kind, in the honesty of men’s purposes and intentions; in man’s capability for improvement and advancement; the same Faith in others that we would have them put in us; —and Faith in ourselves; —in our power to do some good, and exert some influence upon our fellows: Faith, that if we are but earnest, honest and sincere, we can help destroy ignorance, error and Wrong, and become immortal in our good influences living after we are dead; that noble and modest confidence in our selves, which is the secret of all success, and the parent of all great and noble actions …

HOPE, in the ultimate annihilation of Evil in the Universe; in the final triumph of Masonry, that shall make of all men one family and household; in the Cessation of war and bloodshed, and the advent of Peace and Liberty; in the final enfranchisement of the human soul and intellect in every country on the globe; and in a Hereafter, where man, immortal, shall be happy …

CHARITY, taught us by Faith and Hope, for those who differ with us in opinion, for them and for their faith, and even for their errors; that Charity which relieves the necessities and distresses of men, and with open hand gives the suffering and destitute solace and comfort; and which forgives and utters merciful judgment upon the faults and shortcomings of others; believes them better than they seem, and teaches us to judge and do unto others as we should wish them, and think it right for them to judge and do unto us. To be TRUSTFUL, to be HOPEFUL, to be INDULGENT: —these, when all around us are selfishness, despondency, ill-opinion of Human Nature, and harsh and bitter judgment, are the true supports of every Masonic Temple, and the bases of every manly and heroic nature. And they are also the old pillars of the Temple under different names: for he only is Wise who judges others Charitably and deals with their errors Mercifully, he only is Strong, who is Hopeful; and there is no Beauty of proportion or harmony, like a firm Faith in God, our fellows and ourselves.

— Albert Pike, from the “Scottish Rite Ritual” Monitor & Guide book by Arturo De Hoyos

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