It is one of the most beautiful features of the Masonic Institution, that it teaches not only the necessity, but the nobility of labor. From the time of opening to that of closing, a Lodge is said to be at labor. This is but one of the numerous instances in which the terms of Operative Masonry are symbolically applied to Speculative; for, as the Operative Masons were engaged in the building of material edifices, so Free and Accepted Masons are supposed to be employed in the erection of a superstructure of virtue and morality upon the foundation of the Masonic principles which they were taught at their admission into the Order.
When the Lodge is engaged in reading petitions, hearing reports, debating financial matters, etc., it is said to be occupied in busyness; but when it is engaged in the form and ceremony of initiation into any of the Degrees, it is said to be at work. Initiation is Masonic labor. This phraseology at once suggests the connection of our Speculative System with an Operative Art that preceded it, and upon which it has been founded. Gadicke says: Labor is an important word in Freemasonry- indeed, we might say the most important. For this, and this alone, does a man become a Freemason.
Every other object is secondary or incidental. Labor is the costumed design of every Lodge meeting. But do such meetings always furnish evidence of industry? The labor of an Operative Mason will be visible, and he will receive his reward for it, even though the building he has constructed may, in the next hour, be overthrown by a tempest. He knows that he has done his labor. And so must the Freemason labor. His labor must be visible to himself and to his Brethren, or, at least, it must conduce to his own internal satisfaction. As we build neither a visible Solomonic Temple nor an Egyptian pyramid, our industry must become visible in works that are imperishable, so that when we vanish from the eyes of mortals it may be said of us that our labor was well done.
As Freemasons, we labor in our Lodge to make ourselves a perfect building, without blemish, working hopefully for the consummation, when the house of our earthly tabernacle shall be finished, when the Lost Word of Divine Truth shall at last be discovered, and when we shall be found by our own efforts at perfection to have done God service.