The ancients often wrote their books on parchment, which was made up into a roll, hence called a volume, from cohere, the Latin word meaning to roll up. Thus, he who read the book commenced by unrolling it, a custom still practiced by the Jews in reading their Sacred Law, and it was not until the whole volume had been unrolled and read that he became master of its contents. Now, in the Latin language, to unfold or to unroll was devolvere, whence we get our English word to develop. The figurative signification thus elicited from etymology may be well applied to the idea of the development of Freemasonry. The system of Speculative Freemasonry is a volume closely folded from unlawful eyes, and he who would understand its true intent and meaning must follow the old proverb, and "commence at the beginning." There is no royal road of arriving at this knowledge. It can be attained only by laborious research. The student must begin as an Apprentice, by studying the rudiments that are unfolded on its first page. Then as a Fellow Craft still more of the precious writing is unrolled, and he acquires new ideas. As a Master he continues the operation, and possesses himself of additional material for thought.
But it is not until the entire volume lies unrolled before him, in the highest Degree, and the whole speculative system of its philosophy is Lying outspread before him, that he can pretend to claim a thorough comprehension of its plan. It is then only that he has solved the problem, and can exclaim, "The end has crowned the work."
The superficial Freemason who looks only on the ornamental covering of the roll knows nothing of its contents. Freemasonry is a scheme of development; and he who has learned nothing of its design, and who is daily adding nothing to his stock of Masonic ideas, is simply one who is not unrolling the parchment. It is a custom of the Jews on their Sabbath, in the synagogue, that a member should pay for the privilege of unrolling the Sacred Law. So, too, the Freemason, who would uphold the law of his Institution, must pay for the privilege, not in base coin, but in labor and research, studying its principles, searching out its design, and imbibing all of its symbolism; and the payment thus made will purchase a rich jewel.
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