BROTHERS and BUILDERS: The Basis and Spirit of Freemasonry

BY: JOSEPH FORT NEWTON (Litt.D.)

Table of Contents
Introduction - The Foundation Chapter I - The Altar Chapter II - The Holy Bible Chapter III - The Square Chapter IV - The Compasses Chapter V - The Level and Plumb Chapter VI - The Master's Piece Chapter VII - The Rite of Destitution Chapter VIII - The Inn of Year's End

THE FOUNDATION.
THE basis of Freemasonry is a Faith which can neither be demonstrated nor argued down - Faith in God the wise Master-Builder by whose grace we live, and whose will we must learn and obey. Upon this basis Masonry builds, digging deep into the realities of life, using great and simple symbols to enshrine a Truth too vast for words, seeking to exalt men, to purify and refine their lives, to ennoble their hopes; in short to build men and then make them Brothers and Builders. There is no need - nay, it were idle - to argue in behalf of this profound and simple Faith, because any view of life which is of value is never maintained, much less secured, by debate. For though God, which is the name we give to the mystery and meaning of life, may be revealed in experience He cannot be uttered, and in a conflict of words we easily lose

the sense of the unutterable God, the Maker of Heaven and earth and all that in them is, before whom silence is wisdom and wonder becomes worship. It is enough to appeal to the natural and uncorrupted sense of humanity, its right reason, its moral intuition, its spiritual instinct. Long before logic was born man, looking out over the rivers, the hills and the far horizon, and into the still depths of the night sky, knew that there was Something here before he was here; Something which will be here when he is gone. Happily we are not confronted by a universe which mocks our intelligence and aspiration, and a system of things which is interpretable as far as we can go by our minds, must itself be the expression and embodiment of Mind. What is equally wonderful and awful, lending divinity to our dust, is that the Mind within and behind all the multicolored wonder of the world is akin to our own, since the world is both intelligible by and responsive to our thought - a mystery not an enigma. And, if one door yields to our inquiry, and another door opens at our knock, and another and another, it only requires a certain daring of spirit - that is, Faith - to believe that, if not yet by us, why, then, by those who come after us, or, mayhap, by ourselves in some state of being in which we shall no longer be restrained by the weaknesses of mortality, or befogged by the illusions of time, the mind of man shall find itself at home and unafraid in the universe of God, a son and citizen of a City that hath foundations. II. What, now, precisely, does this profound faith mean to us here? Obviously, it means that we are here in the world to do something, to build something, to be something - not simply to pass the time or to wear out shoes - and what we do and build ought to express and perpetuate our personality, our character. There is one kind of immortality which we should earn in the world, by adding something of worth to the world, by so building ourselves into the order of things that whatever immortality this world may have, our life and labour shall share in it. Once, in the south of England, I heard a little poem which seemed to me to have in it a bit of final

philosophy-not a great poem but telling a great truth :"The good Lord made the earth and sky, The rivers and the sea, and me, He made no roads; but here am I as happy as can be. It's just as though He'd said to me, `John, there's the job for thee.' " The idea in the rhyme is that in a very real sense God has completed nothing; not because He has not the power or the will to do so, but out of a kind of respect for men, so to put it, offering us a share in His creative work. He makes no roads, He builds no houses. True, he provides us with the material; He supplies us with firm foundations - and models of every shape of beauty - but the road and the house must be the work of man. Our good and wise poet, Edwin Markham, was right when he wrote:"We men of earth have here the stuff Of Paradise - we have enough! We need no other thing to build The stairs into the Unfulfilled No other ivory for the doors No other marble for the floors No other cedar for the beam And dome of man's immortal dream. Here on the paths of everyday Here on the common human way Is all the busy gods would take To build a heaven, to mould and make New Edens. Ours the stuff sublime To build Eternity in time." Not only are we here in the world to build something, but we are here to build upon the Will of God, in obedience to His purpose and design. The truth of a will within and behind everything is a truth which has far too little place in our lives; hence our impatience, our restlessness, and our sense of futility. Yet this truth of the Will of God as final has been the strength and solace of man in all his great days. The first fact of experience, if not the last truth of philosophy, is that the

world has a mind of its own. either by his anxieties or by his ingenuities. We demand of a wall that it shall have been built with respect to the centre of gravity of this earth. but which. By these lower. Therefore we are here in the world to build upon the Will of God with the help of God. warns us. and retaining it. to regard the revelations of the moral. which in the end passes judgment upon our human undertakings. Faith in God advises us. must be in harmony with the nature of things. none the less. invoking His help in words of prayer and worship. Long ago it was said: "Except the Lord build the house they labour in vain that build it. Truly has it been said that the final truth about man is not that way down in the depths he is alone. but also in our efforts and acts of obedience. which we call the will and purpose of God. especially a Freemason . and proving ourselves worthy of that help. by keeping in the midst of it by humble fidelity.if he knows his art . lesser faculties by cunning. Here is a matter which even the best of us too often forget. All history enforces the truth that there is a Will. forces and conditions of the world in which he lives. Manifestly the only man who builds rightly is the man who builds with due regard for the laws. and this is equally true when we think of the House of the Spirit not built with hands. as well as the physical. He is the breath of our spirit. Not one of us would trust ourselves to a house which had been built casually and haphazard." What the Psalmist means is that the great things in the world are not accomplished by man. but that in the depths he is face to face with God. God no more wishes us to live without His aid than He wishes us to live without air. we are set to build in the midst of the years. and to the position of the polar star. A wise man. holy and inexorable.we may achieve . they discover them. Here also we build wisely only when we build in harmony with the Will of God as we believe and see it. if it is to be of any worth.will rebuke himself and recall himself from any vagrant lapse or prolonged neglect. lest he go too far. by cleverness . Men do not make laws. Our work. else our proudest fabric will totter to ruin. Will of God.

The truth is. but a truth. strength and beauty. a fact. apart from us. Such is the foundation of Freemasonry. and brothers one of another. and the faith by which it makes us builders upon the Will of God and by His help.of these our days and years. and which we need to invoke if we are to face the difficulties and embarrassments .small and passing things. " Here is no abstract and unreal platitude. indeed. its purpose. Those of our race who have wrought the most beautiful and enduring works confess themselves to have been used by a Hand and a Will other than their own. and finally. who recently climbed ahead to work up in the dome of the Temple. the enduring things. initiation our birth into a world in which we are to learn morality and charity. moves and goes forth to his labour. as well as to face the vaster problems and mysteries which lie on all the horizons of our life. Upon this foundation is erected an elaborate allegory of human life in all its varied aspects: the Lodge a symbol of the world in which man lives. Even the strongest of us need such resource the better to confront the issues of the day. if we have integrity and courage. are accomplished . III. the discovery that we are citizens of Eternity in time: an ideal world ruled by love.aye. and its prophecy of a Temple of Brotherhood. if counted worthy passing out of youth into manhood with its wider knowledge and heavier responsibilities. left us a legacy of inspiration and instruction in a book which is at once a . unveiling its plan of life. A great Freemason of Scotland. that the great things. and yet not wholly as the result of our efforts by One wiser than ourselves by whom we are employed in the fulfilment of a design larger than we have planned and nobler than we have dreamed. rather. the tragedies . as if caught up into the rhythm of "one vast life that moves and cannot die. a source to which we may apply a daily test. wisdom. It is a great day for a young man when Masonry reveals its meaning to him.not.

we appear to be without plan and instruction. there. on its Trestleboard is the Plan of the Great Architect and its mission is to work out that plan. how far we are. some epigram to haunt the mind. Even now it is a classic of our literature. Like the ingenious craftsman at the building of the Temple at Jerusalem. strengthen and beautify it. Glasgow. There are passages of singular nobility. in the build of its thought even more than in the turn of its sentences. S. amid war and incessant conflict.the highest and grandest ideal of Masonry. our plan and instruction lie in the work itself. in reality. The book is wise rather than clever. Then.mentor and a memorial: "Speculative Masonry. it is ignorance more than unwillingness that hinders the work. a light to lead his Brethren toward the truth after he has vanished from among us. I have marked well. in this world of selfishness and strife? Wherefore has it been developed. To build. and exercise all the powers and gifts with which we have been endowed. Yet. MacBride. as witness this one on the Great Landmark:"Why is Masonry here. we shall some day have our reward. Lodge Progress. we must bring in the aid of all the arts and sciences. while. Out of the rough hard quarries of a quarrelling humanity it has to build a Temple of Brotherhood and Peace. as a rule. from understanding it. We seem to be groping in the dark. apply every resource that civilization and progress can give us." by A. This Temple is the Great Landmark . and will gratefully exclaim: Thank God. like him." . The beauty of the book is inwrought. along the lines of peace and love. and still more in its spirit in which spiritual vision and practical wisdom are blended. but there is hardly a page that does not yield some insight to illumine. and so marvelously moulded and developed that in every land it is now known and by every race made welcome? Has all this been done that it may live for itself alone? No. Brethren ? Yet. beautiful rather than brilliant. "'What nobler work can we be engaged in. not decorative.

No thoughtful man but at some time has mused over the meaning of this great adoring habit of humanity. obligation. While we hold a view of the world very unlike that held by our ancient Brethren . So far as we know. and the wonder of it deepens the longer he ponders it. must imitate the laws and principles of the world in which he lives. A MASONIC LODGE is a symbol of the world as it was thought to be in the olden time. and so at the centre of our Lodge stands the same Altar . where the mystery of God is embodied. The instinct which thus draws men together in prayer is the strange power which has drawn together the stones of great cathedrals.knowing it to be round. and at its centre stood the Altar of sacrifice. if he is to build either a House of Faith or an order of Society that is to endure. The visible world was but a picture or reflection of the invisible.CHAPTER 1. man is the only being on our planet that pauses to pray. and the wonder of his worship tells us more about him than any other fact. the love of it ennobles our lives. wherein man goes forth to his labor on a checker-board of lights and shadows. as old as life itself . Our ancient Brethren had a profound insight when they saw that the world is a Temple.older than all temples. By some deep necessity of his nature he . need wisdom and help from above. The whole idea was that man. over-hung by a starry canopy by night. lighted by the journeying sun by day. seeking to reproduce on earth the law and order of heaven. THE ALTAR. too. Upon this earth there is nothing more impressive than the silence of a company of human beings bowed together at an altar. To fulfil it we. at once a symbol and shrine of that unseen element of thought and yearning that all men are aware of and which no one can define. not flat and square .yet their insight is still true. joys and sorrows. That is also our dream and design. it is our labor and our worship. and adoration.a focus of faith and fellowship.

lifting up hands in prayer. the Altar was built of hewn stone cubical in form . deeming nothing too costly to adorn the place of prayer. in hours of tragedy or terror. the altar of incense. stood in front of the Temple. The history of the Altar in the life of man is a story more fascinating than any fiction. It was a place of refuge for the hunted or the tormented . and the idea of sacrifice grew in meaning. and often bloody.cruel. not altogether an animal. and often beautifully wrought. carved. where slain beasts were offered. and one of incense. The earliest Altar was a rough.and to drag them away from .criminals or slaves .is a seeker after God. it would have left us rich. when men erected a Temple dedicated and adorned as the House of God among men. or vindictive . Later still. as faith became more refined. we set up an Altar in the Lodge. on which angels were ascending and descending. on which burned the fragrance of worship. even to the last ineffable homeward sigh which men call death. As far back as we can go the Altar was the centre of human Society. Rites horrible. turned his lonely bed into a house of God and a gate of heaven.the record of his long search for God is enough to prove that he is not wholly base. and in moments of sadness or longing. may have been a part of his early ritual. And so. unhewn stone set up. there were two altars. like the stone which Jacob set up at Bethel when his dream of a ladder. following the good custom of the men which were of old. and an object of peculiar sanctity by virtue of that law of association by which places and things are consecrated. he lays aside his tools and looks out over the far horizon.cut. Whatever else man may have been . stood within. on which men lavished jewels and priceless gifts. Behind all was the far withdrawn Holy place into which only the high priest might enter. The altar of sacrifice. Later. but if the history of past ages had left us nothing but the memory of a race at prayer. one of sacrifice. Like the men who walked in the grey years agone. tyrannous. moved thereto by the ancient need and aspiration of our humanity. our need is for the living God to hallow these our days and ve2rs.

It is not simply a necessary piece of furniture. but profoundly significant. following the course of the sun . it was the usage of both priests and people to pass round the Altar. In all the religions of antiquity. Beyond the Primary. so called. With the philosophy of those facts. and the differences . a kind of table intended to support the Holy Bible. it is religious in its faith and basic principles. because there man invoked God as witness. For. to the West . it stands in front of the Master in the East. and especially among the peoples who worshipped the Light. In the York Rite. but a Worship in which all men can unite. because it does not undertake to explain. Their ritual was thus an allegorical picture of the truth which underlies all religion . And yet it is not a Church. and the reason for its position in the Lodge. fundamental facts of faith it does not go. At the Altar marriage rites were solemnized.more properly a little to the East of the centre about which all Masonic activities revolve. and we ought to get it clearly in our minds. as in the French and Scottish Rites.it by violence was held to be an act of sacrilege. Here is a fact often overlooked. >From facts and hints such as these we begin to see the meaning of the Altar in Masonry. the Square and Compasses. That is to say. no less than in its spirit and purpose. much less a sect. In English Lodges. and treaties made or vows taken in its presence were more holy and binding than if made elsewhere. those issues by which men are divided. since they were under the protection of God.from the East. Masonry is not a Religion. If it were a Church its Altar would be in the East and its ritual would be altered accordingly. it is placed in the centre of the Lodge . Nor does it attempt to do what the Church is trying to do.that man must live on earth in harmony with the rhythm and movement of heaven.singing hymns of praise as a part of their worship. by way of the South. or dogmatically to settle in detail. and yet its uses are not exactly the same as the offices of an Altar in a cathedral or a shrine. Alike by its existence and its situation it identifies Masonry as a religious institution. while Masonry is not a religion. The position of the Altar in the Lodge is not accidental.

and if he rightly understands the Art. that is.and disputes growing out of them. and in the life everlasting. apart from God the Father. It is. and not a cause of division. but freedom of faith. nor an irreligious Libertine. Masonry goes hand in hand with religion until religion enters the field of sectarian feud. and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remained at a perpetual Distance. to obey the moral Law. or Men of Honour and Honesty. by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguished. then. it has not to do. At the same time. a Magna Charta of friendship and fraternity. because Masonry seeks to unite men.not freedom from faith. our dream of the Brotherhood of Man is as vain as all the vain things proclaimed of Solomon-a fiction having no basis or hope in fact. Faith in God is the corner-stone and the key-stone of Freemasonry. In short. an Altar of Faith . to be good Men and true. Here. the position of the Altar in the Lodge is a symbol of what Masonry believes the Altar should be in actual life. not to divide them. the Altar of Masonry is an Altar of Freedom . but it does seek fraternity of spirit. " Surely those are memorable words. eternal faith which underlies all creeds and overarches all sects. whatever it was. as is now so often the case. whereby Masonry becomes the Centre of Union. he will never be a stupid Atheist. leaving their particular Opinions to themselves. faith in God. It is the first truth and the last. is the meaning of the Masonic Altar and its position in the Lodge. the truth that makes all other truths true. As we may read in the Constitutions of 1723 :"A Mason is obliged. For. It does not seek uniformity of opinion.the deep. leaving each one free to fashion his own philosophy of ultimate truth. in the moral law. by his Tenure. first of all. But though in ancient Times Masons were charged in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation. without which life is a riddle and fraternity a futility. yet 'tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree. and there it stops. . a centre of union and fellowship.

or only a few people in the pews here and there. It is an Altar of Fellowship. or rather co-operative. let us never forget . I sought my Brother out. a shrine of love. and no man can learn it alone. It does not define God. as if to teach us that no man can learn the truth for another. and found all three. praying or in deep thought. each without reference to others. pity. and find healing for the bruisings of life. For the rest." Hear one fact more.that the most sacred Altar on earth is the soul of man .your soul and mine. and the meaning of the Masonic Altar will be plain. still less make it a test of fellowship. but operative. like Westminster Abbey. and good-will. While all its teaching implies the Fatherhood of God. and finds it empty.what has been so often and so sadly forgotten . and that the Temple and its ritual are not ends in themselves. to communicate with mysteries greater than itself. much less dogmatically determine how and what men shall think or believe about God. but beautiful means to the end that every human heart may be a sanctuary of faith. I sought for God.Beyond the fact of the reality of God it does not go. As a matter of fact. Behind this silence lies a deep and wise reason. No one bows before it at all except when the Lodge is open and in the presence of his Brethren. Masonry brings men together in mutual respect. allowing every man to think of God according to his experience of life and his vision of truth. and He eluded me. Only by the practice of Brotherhood do men realize the Divine Fatherhood. yet its ritual does not actually affirm that truth. sympathy. . Masonry is not speculative at all. and unconquerable hope. Often one enters a great Church. But no one ever goes to a Masonic Altar alone. as a true-hearted poet has written "No man could tell me what my soul might be. seeking an opportunity for the soul to be alone. They are sitting quietly. that we may learn in love the truth that is hidden by apathy and lost by hate. an altar of purity. There dispute and division begin.

The old. supporting the Square and Compasses. It was in England. no one can tell. the obligation of an initiate closes with the words: "So help me God. as the book upon which the covenant. familiar Book. in the Harleian Manuscript. " In the old Ritual. Thus the book of the Will of God rules the Lodge in its labours. in the rituals of about 1760 it is described as one of the three Great Lights. lies the Holy Bible. Anyone can have his theory. For example. or oath. . Anyway. As the Craft laboured in the service of the Church during the cathedral-building period. dated about 1600. so beloved by so many generations. as the Sun rules the day. UPON the Altar of every Masonic Lodge. The history of the Bible in the life and symbolism of Masonry is a story too long to recite here. it closes when the Lodge closes. even in days when the Bible was not widely distributed.CHAPTER II THE HOLY BIBLE. At any rate. that the Bible came to its place of honour in the Lodge. it is not difficult to account for the Biblical coloring of its thought. unless the Book of Holy Law lies open upon its Altar. and by whom the teaching and imagery of the Bible were wrought into Freemasonry. making its work a worship. leaving further research to learn further truth. Nor can any one tell it as we should like to know it. but it is not referred to as a Great Light. and the holy contents of this Book. No Lodge can transact its own business. due largely to the influence of Preston and his fellow workmen. and before the discovery of printing. but no one can be dogmatic. there is no mention of the Bible as one of the Lights. where. is our Volume of Sacred Law and a Great Light in Masonry. The Bible opens when the Lodge opens. much less initiate candidates into its mysteries. of a Mason was taken. of which a copy from the Royal Library in Berlin is given by Krause. we can take such facts as we are able to find. The Bible is mentioned in some of the old Manuscripts of the Craft long before the revival of Masonry in 1717. Just when.

Righteousness. It is central. But more important than direct references is the fact that the spirit of the Bible. Then as he moves forward from one degree to another. legends. of chastity and charity. and its music sings its way into his heart.No Mason needs to be told what a great place the Bible has in the Masonry of our day. its faith. Upon no other foundation can men build with any sense of security and permanence when the winds blow and the floods descend. pledging himself to the practice of the Brotherly Life. sovereign. and Spirituality of God. so. Alas. Upon the Bible every Mason takes solemn vows of loyalty. As faith in God is the cornerstone of the Craft. supreme. almost too simple to be found out. whereby it avoids both intolerance and sectarianism. was the tallest temple of the ancient world. the book which tells us the purest truth about God is its altar-light. so in this old book the light of moral truth is stored to light the mind and warm the heart of man. the imagery of the Bible becomes familiar and eloquent. In the midst of ignorant idolatries and debasing superstitions the Temple on Mount Moriah stood for the Unity. dividing men into sects. its attitude toward life. for the uses of man. As soon as an initiate enters the Lodge. But Masonry knows a certain secret. pervades Masonry. Nor is it strange that it should be so. moral law. and immortal hope. naturally. and the South its white light of spiritual vision. making for schism. The Temple of King Solomon. and students have traced about seventy-five references to the Bible in the Ritual of the Craft. It is essentially religious. but it is not dogmatic. But the Bible is not simply a foundation rock. about which the history. The fact that the Bible lies open upon its Altar means that man must have some Divine . he hears the words of the Bible recited as an accompaniment to his advance toward the light. not in the grandeur of its architecture but in the greatest of the truths for which it stood. a master light of all our seeing. like a rhythm or a fragrance. and symbolism of the Craft are woven. Almost every name found in our ceremonies is a Biblical name. From the Altar it pours forth upon the East. it is also a quarry in which we find the truths that make us men. the West. As in the old ages of geology rays of sunlight were stored up in vast beds of coal. there has been more dispute about the Bible than about any other book.

revelation . Charity in all things. all righteous men are everywhere of one religion. The great Book lies open upon its Altar. open for each to interpret for himself. In its air of kindly fellowship. the Book of Law of the Hebrew. Like everything else in Masonry. and is making. and is open for all to read. It is a symbol of the Book of Truth. man to man. the Koran of the Mussulman. and in a Lodge in the land of Mohammed the Koran may be used. The tie by which our Craft is united is strong. and by this sign its spirit must at last prevail. It is the glory of Masonry to teach Unity in essentials. but upon the broad. Thus. It unites men. to mankind in every age and land. so rich in symbolism. and it seeks to remove the hoodwinks of prejudice and intolerance so that they may recognize each other and work together in the doing of good. all devout men. it teaches us to revere every Book of Faith in which men find help for to-day and hope for the morrow.symbolizing the Will of God revealed to man. the Record of the Will of God as man has learned it in the midst of the years . It is the beautiful secret of Masonry that all just men. and its wisdom was never more needed than to-day.must seek for a light higher than human to guide and govern him. But Masonry lays down no hard and fast dogma on the subject of revelation. it everywhere Masonically conveys the same idea .faith in God. the Old Testament alone may be placed upon the Altar. At the Altar of Masonry they learn not only toleration. Whether it be the Gospels of the Christian. a part taken for the whole. It attempts no detailed interpretation of the Bible. the Scroll of Faith. in a Lodge consisting entirely of Jews. but it allows the utmost liberty of faith and thought. the Bible. or the Vedas of the Hindu. is itself a symbol . Herein our gentle Craft is truly wise.the perpetual revelation of Himself which God has made. Liberty in details. For that reason. However religious teachers may differ in their doctrines. in the Lodge they meet with mutual respect and goodwill. by the very honour which Masonry pays to the Bible. for whom and with whom man must work. but appreciation. taking such faith and vision as he has found into a . the wise Master Builder. simple truth which underlies all creeds and over-arches all sects . when the churches are divided and torn by angry debate. they discover that the things they have in common are greater than the things that divide.that is. not upon a creed bristling with debated issues.

knowing. showing us the meaning and worth of life. knowing that. with whatsoever else of the good and the true which the past has given us.great fellowship of the seekers and finders of the truth. of joy or moan. its two great characters are God and the Soul. and its scenery is interwoven with the holiest associations of our lives. And not on paper leaves nor leaves of stone. patience. Every Mason ought not only to honour the Bible as a great Light of the Craft. that while they read different volumes. finding in it their final reasons for living faithfully and nobly." they are yet praying to the one God and Father of all. great and noble as the Bible is. they are in fact reading the same vast Book of the Faith of Man as revealed in the struggle and tragedy of the race in its quest of God. faithful and free. love it. makes him both gentle and strong. while we honour every Book of Faith in which have been recorded the way and Will of God. Thus Masonry invites to its Altar men of all faiths. Masonry sees it as a symbol of that eternal. While thunder's surges burst on cliffs of cloud. Each age. adding to his knowledge virtue. Still at the Prophet's feet the nations sit. if it gets into a man. its light follows all our way. he ought to read it. ever-unfolding Book of the Will of God which Lowell described in memorable lines :"Slowly the Bible of the race is writ. and it is thus a part of the ritual of the Lodge and the ritual of life. Its truth is inwrought in the fiber of our being. obedient and tolerant. while mists the mountain shroud. also. adds a verse to it. at once the mother-book of our literature and the masterbook of the Lodge. temperance. each kindred. lay its truth to heart and learn what it means to be a man. with us the Bible is supreme. Texts of despair or hope. Its very words have in them memories. and pity. live with it. if they use different names for "the Nameless One of an hundred names. While swings the sea. Our fathers and mothers read it. and the story . echoes and overtones of voices long since hushed. like a sweet habit of the blood. brotherly love. self-control. The Bible is as high as the sky and as deep as the grave. So that. Its spirit stirs our hearts." None the less. There is something in the old Book which.

They are the three Great Lights of the Lodge. and obeying the law of Right. It is the most Divine of books. our sorrows. and that our hearts will be restless. the Divine in man wins victory over the earthly. Righteousness. and thy neighbour as thyself. and Redemption. and with all thy mind. do ye even so to them." "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. we have a building of God. They are symbols of Revelation. "He hath showed thee. our sins. to love mercy. at once its Divine warrant and its chief working tools. for this is the law and the prophets.of their eternal life together is its everlasting romance. and upon the Bible lie the Square and Compasses. our hopes. It is the most human of books. eternal in the heavens. and with all thy strength. " "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. and to keep himself unspotted by the world. and with all thy soul. teaching us that by walking in the light of Truth." "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved. O man. How to live is the one important matter. and he will seek far without finding a wiser way than that shown us by the ." "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you. THE SQUARE THE Holy Bible lies open upon the Altar of Masonry. and what doth the Lord require of thee. telling us the half-forgotten secrets of our own hearts. and to walk humbly with thy God. but to do justly. a house not made with hands." CHAPTER III. what is good. our doubts. telling us that God has made us for Himself. unhappy and lonely until we learn to rest in Him whose Will is our peace.

Thus the tools of the builder became the emblems of the thoughts of the thinker. Let us separate the Square from the Compasses and study it alone. the implement which describes a Circle became the symbol of the heavenly. when a business firm tried to adopt the Square and Compasses as a trade-mark. because the things they symbolize are interwoven. it naturally became an emblem of accuracy. Nearly everywhere in our Ritual. integrity. of the earthly element in man. If not interlocked. is not material to this issue. rightness. " They belong to us. the better to see its further meaning and use. As the sky is an arc or a circle. deemed by the Greeks a figure of perfection. and the precision with which stones are cut. And that is as it should be. As stones are cut to fit into a building. the Square was an emblem of the Earth. and the most universal symbols of Masonry. which has four equal sides and angles. the Square and Compasses are seen together. Nor is it the square of the carpenter. even the profane know them to be emblems of our ancient Craft. alike by the associations of history and the tongue of common report. the simplest. the Patent Office refused permission. they are seldom far apart. one leg of which is longer than the other. unmarked and with legs of equal length. and the one suggests the other. as in the public mind. The Square and Compasses are the oldest. or skyey spirit in man. Some years ago. and nothing in Masonry is more impressive than the slow elevation of the Compasses above the Square in the progress of the degrees. or a badge worn by a Brother. whether as a sign on a building. so commonly worn and employed by Masons. There is no need to say that the Square we have in mind is not a Cube. and later. with inches marked for measuring. All the world over.Great Lights of the Lodge. Since the try-square was used to prove that angles were right. has an established mystic significance. whether comprehended by all or not. as the decision said. universally recognized as existing. It is a small. that "there can be no doubt that this device. for such as have eyes to see. The whole meaning and task of life is there. a simple try-square used for testing the accuracy of angles. on the ground. so our acts and thoughts are built together into a structure . plain Square. In the old days when the earth was thought to be flat and square.

in all rites where Masonry is true to itself. when it read the reality and nature of God in this manner: "Yet I this form of formless Deity drew by the Square and Compasses of our Creed. along with the Square and Compasses. and finding so many able and plausible advocates . >From the beginning of the Revival in 1717 this was made plain in the teaching of Masonry. and so lacks authority and sanction. It is not rooted in reality. and that faith in God . God and the Square . among Speculative Masons.of Character. Such an idea. morality become. Not only nations. Whereas. as all history shows. a mere custom. but of all ordered and advancing social life. to be thrown off lightly. such a spirit . and it will one day go down. In all lands. the Square is a symbol of righteousness. Far wiser was the old book entitled All in All and the Same Forever. if not a cobweb. So. not only of Masonry. The idea in vogue to-day is that morality is enough. Religion and Morality. if faith in God grows dim. of the basic rightness which must be the test of every act and the foundation of character and society.it is necessary to keep the two together in our day.may or may not be important. dated 1725." For. or it fails of being a just and truly constituted Lodge.if there be a God . and dated 1607. the question is asked: "How many make a Lodge?" The answer is specific and unmistakable: "God and the square. by the fact that the Holy Bible was placed upon the Altar. with five or seven right or perfect Masons.so wide-spread in our time. and is applied in the light of faith in God. History speaks plainly in this matter. In one of the earliest catechisms of the Craft. because the tendency of the time is to separate them. badly or firmly. Some very able men of the Craft insist that we make the teaching of Masonry too religious. and not a part of the order of the world. and the moral law will lose both its meaning and its power. a society without standards will be a society without stability. the tiny try-square has always been a symbol of morality. by John Davies. Once let men come to think that morality is a human invention.strikes at the foundations. though written by a non-Mason." God and the Square. must be present in every Lodge as its ruling Lights. but whole civilizations have perished in the past. and we dare . inevitably. for lack of righteousness. and must be tested by a moral standard of which the simple try-square is a symbol.

The Deputy Provincial Grand Master of North and East Yorkshire recovered a very curious relic. "this is called the principle of acting on the square. On it was inscribed the date. in 1830. the candidate walks with square steps round the square pavement of a rectangular Lodge. which has been dated in the fifth century before Christ. Such has been the meaning of the Square as far back as we can go. called The Great Learning. revealing the oldest wisdom man has learned and the very genius of our Craft. he must adjust his structure to the laws and forces that rule in the material realm. and the writer adds. he beholds the Square upon the Altar. by the Square. In one of the old books of China. as if to fashion his life after its form. in our Craft and outside. long ago. in the form of an old brass Square found under the foundation stone of an ancient bridge near Limerick. As soon as he enters a Lodge. and at the same time . So. The greatest philosopher has found nothing more profound." There it is. we read that a man should not do unto others what he would not have them do unto him. When a young man forgets the simple Law of the Square. A man may build a house in any way he likes. When he is brought to light. Long before our era we find the Square teaching the same lesson which it teaches us to-day. the Square has taught its simple truth which does not grow old. Even Jesus only altered it from the negative to the positive form in His Golden Rule. unless we live in obedience to the moral laws which God has written in the order of things. All during the ceremony his attitude keeps him in mind of the same symbol. recorded long.not disregard it. our lives will fall and end in wreck. and the reason why Masons call it the great symbol of their Craft." How simple and beautiful it is. It is like a problem in geometry. Hence the importance attached to the Square or Virtue. the Square rules the Mason as well as the Lodge in which he labours. It is a symbol of that moral law upon which human life must rest if it is to stand. it does not need a prophet to foresee what the result will be. everywhere. In fact and truth. but if he expects it to stand and be his home. 1517. Just so. and the following words:"Strive to live with love and care Upon the Level. and the oldest man in his ripe wisdom has learned nothing more true.

One honor that is fair. . One glory still awaits for you. It means that men have confidence In everything you do. not even death. A laborer upon the street. and in his relations with his fellows. For Masonry is not simply a Ritual. Let one of our poets sum it all up:"It matters not whate'er your lot Or what your task may be. An artist on the stage. who must be a Square-Man in thought and conduct. Each of us has in his own heart a little trysquare called Conscience. Long ago the question was asked and answered: "Lord. To have men say as you pass by: 'That fellow's on the square. Or do your work for wage.' "Ah. a method. stable. by which to test each thought and deed and word. By as much as a man honestly applies that test in his own heart. and if he fails there he cannot win anywhere. Be you a doctor skilled and wise. here's a phrase that stands for much. 'Tis good old English. in word and act. can destroy it. One duty there remains for you.sees that it is worn by the Master of the Lodge. and if we forget this first truth the Lost Word will remain forever lost. It offers us a plan. in all his duties and dealings with his fellow men. With every art of emphasis the Ritual writes this lesson in our hearts. who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? He that walketh uprightly. and worketh righteousness. and speaketh the truth in his heart. as the emblem of his office. and true. too. a faith by which we may build our days and years into a character so strong and true that nothing. It means that what you have you've earned And that you've done your best. it is a way of living. In the north-cast corner he is shown the perfect Ashlar. and told that it is the type of a finished Mason. whether it be true or false." It is the first obligation of a Mason to be on the Square. One duty stands for me. by so much will his life be happy.

Carved with fulsome chaff. To 'grave upon my monument.the earth where man goes forth to his labor. are the Great Lights of the Craft. There is no greater praise than this: 'That fellow's on the square. If such a deed there be. joined with the Holy Bible. In other words. Just this one phrase of all I choose. Pick out no single deed of mine. more universal.' " CHAPTER IV THE COMPASSES IN our study of the Square we saw that it is nearly always linked with the Compasses. the light of Revelation and the law of Nature are like the two points of the Compasses within which our life is set tinder a canopy of Sun and Stars. To show my life was fair: 'Here sleepeth now a fellow who Was always on the square. and the heaven to which he aspires. more profound. It means that conscience is your guide. I do not want a headstone large. No symbolism can be more simple. Thus Earth and Heaven are brought together in the Lodge . over it arches the Sky. For those who come to see. If the Lodge is an "oblong square" and built upon the Square (as the earth was thought to be in olden time). and these old emblems.' "And when I die I would not wish A lengthy epitaph. and it becomes more wonderful the longer one .And when you go to sleep at night Untroubled you may rest. which is a circle. And honor is your care.

it is Universe Religion. in point of truth it is not the first in order. if Masonry is in any sense a religion. Indeed. its morality is rooted in the order of the world. In the Ritual of the Lodge we see man. is always open to the sky." Even in that far off time these symbols had the same meaning they have for us today." Note the order of the words: the Compass has first place. The Book of History. as high as the sky. seeking the light of morality and reason. sustains. and that is true as far back as we can go. Its principles are as wide as the world. in China. As has been said. so the earthly life of man moves and is built within the Circle of Divine life and law and love which surrounds. our life and labor tend. Nature and Revelation blend in its teaching. as we are apt to forget. Symbolically. and it should have to a Master Mason. and explains it. In the sixth book of the philosophy of Mencius. and its roof is the blue vault above. The Lodge. apply the Compasses. whence come those influences which exalt and ennoble the life of man. we find the Compasses employed without the Square: "Ye officers of the Government. and they are perhaps the most spiritual of our working tools. some dim desire brought him to the . But he does so by the aid of inspiration from above. we find these words: "A Master Mason. the Square and Compasses are nearly always together. That is to say. The Square rests upon the Compasses before the Compasses rest upon the Square. In the oldest classic of China. else he would live untroubled by a spark. as sparks ascending seek the sun. in teaching Apprentices. makes use of the compasses and the square. just as a perfect square is a figure that can be drawn only within a circle or about a circle. at least. dating back two thousand years before our era. in which ail men can unite. and they seem to have been interpreted in the same way. Of the heavenly side of Masonry the Compasses are the symbol.ponders it. hoodwinked by the senses. slowly groping his way out of darkness. While in the order of the Lodge the Square is first. Ye who are engaged in the pursuit of wisdom must also make use of the compass and the square. Some deep need. it has no rafters but the arching heavens to which.

by the discipline of tragedy. As the light of the Holy Bible reveals our relation and duty to God. As Most Excellent King Solomon said long ago. imperative. natural state. and he stands forth strong. lesser nature. in quest of a better life and a clearer vision. intimations reached him in the night of Nature. self- . If we examine with care the relative positions of the Square and Compasses as he advanced through the Degrees. self-reverence.door of the Lodge. Vague gleams.far more sublime than we yet realize ." since only men who have mastered themselves can really lead or rule others. and still more by Divine help the divine in him has subjugated the earthly. and fearless. it is the old triad. his divine life covered and ruled by his earthly nature. As an Apprentice a man is. It has been put in many ways. In the sublime Degree of a Master Mason . As a Fellowcraft he has made one step toward liberty and light. Here. "better is he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." In short. but never better than in the three great words: self-knowledge. ready to raise stone upon stone until naught is wanting. and the nobler elements in him are struggling to rise above and control his lower. and try to discover what they have to teach us. everyday duty of circumscribing his passions. we learn what the old philosopher of China meant when be urged Officers of the Government to "apply the Compasses. too. and the Square instructs us in our duties to our Brother and neighbour. in a crude. Let us now study the Compasses apart from the Square. and he set forth and finding a friendly hand to help knocked at the door of the House of Light. symbolically. so the Compasses teach us the obligation which we owe to ourselves. and keeping his desires within due bounds. without which character loses its symmetry. impulses. There is no more practical lesson in Masonry and it behoves us to learn it and lay it to heart. free. and life may easily end in chaos and confusion.by human love. What that obligation is needs to be made plain: it is the primary. we learn a parable and a prophecy of what the Compasses mean in the life of a Mason.

"it is ordained in the eternal constitution of things. Yet limitless liberty is anarchy and slavery. at all points. and it made them masters of the art of life and the life of art. emotion. think as a mortal" . that a man of intemperate passions cannot be free. The wise man is he who takes full account of both. is the first principle of wisdom.control. or disregarding it. our limitations. the self-respect which is the corner stone of a character. he does not long keep his respect for others. in some measure. loses control of himself." Liberty rests upon law. if we fail to act toward him squarely may be trusted to look after his own rights. our weakness. too. hedged about. habit. his passions forge their fetters. and their worship of the God of Bounds. It is the wonder of our human life that we belong to the limited and to the unlimited. we long for a liberty without rule or limit. But there are other regions of life where personality has free play. Our neighbour. To know ourselves. and they are the places where most of our joy and sorrow lie. will teach him how to do. Much of our life is ruled for us whether we will or not. a man goes too far. motive. if he uses them aright. The laws of nature throw about us their restraining bands. who knows how. as the Compasses. to qualify the one by the other. These are so many roads from which our passions and appetites stray at our peril. and there is no place where their writ does not run. restricted. and goes down the road to destruction. Custom. The old Greeks put the same truth into a trinity of maxims: "Know thyself. Hemmed in. like a star out of orbit. If he loses respect for himself. in the inner life where we . as a basic idea both of life and of thought. As in the great word of Burke. Hence their wise Doctrine of the Limit. and by the very fact loses. and a security against many a pitfall and blunder. and the pressure of public opinion are impalpable restraining forces which we dare not altogether defy. It is in the realm of desire. The laws of the land make us aware that our liberty is limited by the equal rights and liberties of others. our strength. in nothing too much. or a car into the ditch. of which the Compasses are a symbol. and we cannot lose any one of the three and keep the other two. Lacking such knowledge.

"In nothing too much. the persecutor. if carried to the extreme by the will to believe. and when he reaches the outer rim of the circle he will draw another. Strangely enough. and finely poised No wise man dare forget the maxim. beautiful. too. a hot temper. Even in our thought about God we must draw a circle enclosing so much of His nature as we can grasp and realize. means disaster. remember the limits of human thought. against the brevity of his earthly life the reach of his spiritual hope. flabby and foolish. balanced. Against the littleness of his knowledge he will set the depth of his desire to know. Here. Praise. if pushed too far. if we would have . until he is ready and able to go farther. in obedience to the other Greek maxim: "Think as a mortal" -. and with the other draw a circle beyond which he will not go. Our minds can neither grasp nor hold it. and its circumference nowhere. An old mystic said that God is a circle whose centre is everywhere. we must apply the Compasses.that is. if unrestrained and left to itself. a step too far. But such an idea is all a blur.are freest and most alone. shut his weakness within the circle of his strength. ends in over-belief and superstition. he will rest one point on the innermost centre of his being. How to use the Compasses is one of the finest of all arts. Many a man loses all truth in his impatient effort to reach final truth. If he is properly instructed. enlarging the circle as our experience and thought and vision expand. If he has a quick tongue. It is the Compasses that help us to keep our balance. and control it. becomes flattery. and attain to a full-orbed life. " for there are situations where a word too much. even a virtue. and who seeks to impose his dogma upon others. may actually become a vice. It is the man who fancies that he has found the only truth. the fanatic. and nothing but the truth. the whole truth. that we need a wise and faithful use of the Compasses. Within a wise limit he will live and labour and grow. Love often ends in a soft sentimentalism. Faith. who becomes the bigot. a dark mood. asking for the highest skill of a Master Mason. he will apply the Compasses.

so far beyond my mind and yours. and they are also worn as jewels by two of the principal officers of the Lodge. By reason of their use. But God is so great. as the Apprentice is youth. LIKE the Square and the Compasses. They really belong together. Among the Craft Masons of olden time the actual work of building was done by Fellowcrafts. all working under the guidance of the Master. and their meaning is so plain that it hardly needs to be pointed out. the Level and Plumb are among the noblest and simplest symbols of the Craft. it may be. in use and meaning. We drew a circle that took him in. using materials gathered and rough hewn by Apprentices. Yet they are so important. both are special working tools of the Fellowcraft. Next to the Square and Compasses. by the Plumb and Square. And so the Poet-Mason was right when he wrote:"He drew a circle that shut me out.though it be as one who sees in a glass darkly. a thing to flout. rebel.our faith fulfil itself in fellowship. along with the Square. that if we are to know Him at all truly.a small part. that they might almost be numbered among the . THE LEVEL AND PLUMB. but it is real as far as it goes . the time when the actual work of life must be done on the Level. But love and I had the wit to win. the Level and the Plumb are nearly always united in our Ritual. we must know Him together. in fellowship and fraternity. The one is used to lay horizontals. the other to try perpendiculars. as much in moral teaching as in practical building. The promise is that if we are worthy and well qualified. In our symbolism. we shall see God face to face and know ever as we are known. Now we know in part ." CHAPTER V. and their use suggests their symbolism. so the Fellowcraft is manhood. Heretic.

but he insists that one of the best services of Masonry is to keep before us high ideals. is for the purpose of proving horizontals. With most of us it is a vague sentiment. as a mountain above the hills. erases all distinctions and reduces all to the same level. Our humanity resembles the surface of the natural world in its hills and valleys. a glittering generality born of the fact that all are made of the same dust. no matter how fine the . in mental ability. moved by the same great faith and fears. A genius can do with effortless ease what it is futile for others to attempt.walking on the Level of time until Death. in the fact that we know that a surface is level when the fluid is poised and at rest. Some can do what others can never do. and a poet may be unequal to a hod-carrier in strength and sagacity. no two are alike. No two men are equal. and some but one. either by nature or by grace. >From the use of the Level he bids us seek to attain a peaceful. a constantly receding ideal. so the newly made Mason is taught. It is a counsel of perfection. hopes and loves . Our Declaration of American Independence tells us that all men are "created equal." but not many have tried to think out what the words really mean. Some have five talents. An English writer finds a lesson in the structure of the Level. When there is inequality of gift it is idle to talk of equality of opportunity. in moral quality. otherwise we should tire of it. Anyone who faces the facts knows well enough that all men are not equal. some two. what is more. and that is a truth that needs to be carefully understood. The Level. by its grim democracy. and. There is no little confusion of mind about it. are sharers of the common human lot. balanced poise of mind. Of course. he admits. undisturbed by the passions which upset and sway us one way or the other. the great meaning of the Level is that it teaches equality. One man towers above his fellows. Men are very unequal in physical power. I.Lesser Lights of the Lodge.

scientists to teach. As our Declaration of Independence puts it. liberty and the pursuit of happiness. have gone so far as to say that Masonry was the first apostle of equality in the true sense. of which the Level is the symbol.phrase may sound. in whose presence all men are one in their littleness. Even Thomas Paine. The War for Independence. into the organic law of this land. each receives equally and impartially the blessing of the Eternal Love. every man has an equal and inalienable right to "life. One thing we do know: Freemasonry presided over the birth of our Republic. What. as a famous slogan summed it up: "Equal rights for all. It does not exist. special privileges to none!" That is to say. might have had another issue but for the fact that our leaders were held together by a mystic tie of obligation. prophets to lead. Albert Pike. even as the sun shines and the rain falls on all with equal benediction." with due regard for the rights of others in the same quest. wrote an . hands to execute. because it would make a dull world if all men were equal in a literal sense. as before God. and men are drawn together by the fact that they are unequal and unlike. pioneers to blaze the path into new lands. seers to see. wherein one lacks another excels. and the fight for constitutional liberty. then. By no glib theory can humanity be reduced to a dead level. vowed to the service of the rights of man. unhindered by injustice or oppression. brains to devise. and the work of each is the glory of all. before the law every man has an equal right to equal justice. No. who was not a Mason. No doubt this was what Goethe meant when he said that it takes all men to make one man. Manifestly it is better to have it so. The iron wrinkles of fact are stubborn realities. whatever it may be. is the equality of which the Level is the symbol ? Clearly it is not identity or even similarity of gift and endowment. We need poets to inspire. As it is. The world has different tasks demanding different powers. it is the equal right of each man to the full use and development of such power as he has. it is something better. Or. and with him many others. and by the skill of its leaders wrote its basic truth.

do not pass the Inner Guard. None but is necessary to the erection of the edifice. Every man in the Lodge is equally concerned in the building of the Temple. II The Plumb is a symbol so simple that it needs no exposition. There. upon the Level.men of diverse creeds. defend.essay in honour of an Order which stood for government without tyranny and religion without superstition . But it is in the free and friendly air of a Lodge of Masons. guide their labor. Thus. the architect who draws the plans. interests. the Apprentice who carries stones or shapes them with chisel and gavel. by all that is sacred both in our Country and our Craft. the Fellowcraft who polishes and deposits them in the wall. Every one is equal to every other so long as he does good work. that the principle of equality finds its most perfect and beautiful expression. and the humblest brother is held in sacred regard. true work. titles. and if it is the best brotherhood it is because it is a brotherhood of the best. and each has his work to do. we are pledged to guard. none but receives the honour of the Craft. equally with the brother who has attained the highest round of the wheel of fortune. and pay their wages. riches.meet in mutual respect and real regard. square work. ranks. and the officers who marshal the workmen. and all together know the joy of seeing the Temple slowly rising in the midst of their labors. and practice the truth taught by the Level. Thus Masonry lifts men to a high level. high and low. prince and plain citizen .two principles which belong together. forgetting all differences of rank and station. Because the task demands different gifts and powers. parties. about an altar of obligation and prayer. and occupations . rich and poor. making each a fellow-worker in a great enterprise. As the Level teaches unity in diversity and equality in . "We meet upon the Level and part upon the Square". all are equally necessary to the work. like the Level and the Plumb. and united for the highest good of all. the symbol of equality.

and speaketh the truth in his heart. or we weaken the Fraternity we seek to serve and imperil 'Its strength and standing in the community. though we meet upon the Level. and changeth not. by every lack of integrity. and worketh righteousness. or else endanger the strength and stability of the whole. In whose eyes a vile person is condemned. as tested by the Plumb-line. He that sweareth to his own hurt. who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly. so Masons must walk erect and live upright lives. and no nation is stronger than the moral quality of the men who are citizens. just so. nor doeth evil to his neighbour. He that putteth not out his money to usury. As a workman dare not deviate by the breadth of a hair to the right or to the left if his wall is to be strong and his arch stable. Always it comes back at last to the individual. and that uprightness of moral character which makes a good and just man. In the art of building accuracy is integrity. He that doeth these things shall never be moved. and if a wall be not exactly perpendicular. What is meant by an upright life each of us knows. but it has never been better described than in the 15th Psalm. we must each build an upright character. which may be called the religion of a gentleman and the design upon the Trestleboard of every Mason:"Lord. nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. He that backbiteth not with his tongue. By every noble act we make all sacred things more sacred and secure for ourselves and for those who come after us. by the test of the Plumb.difference. The prophet Amos has a thrilling passage in which he lets us see how God tested the people which were . it is weak and may fall. integrity of life. making it strong or weak. The strength of a nation is its integrity." What is true of a man is equally true of a nation. who is a living stone in the wall of society and the state. we weaken society and imperil the security and sanctity of the common life. so the Plumb is a symbol of rectitude of conduct. nor taketh reward against the innocent. By every act of injustice.

" CHAPTER VI. vowing to honour the Church. of sound body and good repute. for the Lodge was a school of the seven sciences. 'Behold. and by the same test we are tried :"Thus He showed me: and. IN the olden time it was no easy matter for a man to become a Freemason. were very strict. Then." as the Old Charges tell us. he had to bind himself to serve under rigid rules for seven years. The rules by which an Apprentice pledged himself to live.' Then said the Lord. he was sent away. as well as of the art of building. And the Lord said unto me. doing the most Menial work. he had to prove himself a freeman of lawful age and legitimate birth. 'A plumb-line. "except at Christmastime. Also. young men entered as Apprentices. but the rules were never relaxed. technical skill. He had to win the right by hard work. with a plumb-line in His hand. the Lord stood upon a wall made by plumb-line. and if he proved himself trustworthy and proficient his wages were increased. what seest thou?' And I said. the State and the Master under whom he served.of old by the Plumb-line. In all operative Lodges of the Middle Ages. THE MASTER'S PIECE. as now. At first the Apprentice was little more than a servant. If he proved incompetent or unworthy. He had first to confess his faith in God. behold. . as we find them recorded in the Old Charges. to be eligible at all. vowing absolute obedience. his service being at once a test of his character and a training for his work. I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people of Israel: I will not again pass them by any more. and personal worth. 'Amos. when there was a period of freedom duly celebrated with feast and frolic. as in the guilds of skilled artisans of the same period.

but must not marry or contract himself to any woman during the term of his apprenticeship. He had spoiled many a hit of stone. however. and if it was accepted. He must be obedient to the Master without argument or murmuring. a peer and Fellow of the Craft which hitherto he had only served. avoiding uncivil speech. He had spent laborious nights and days. in the early time. Having won his mastership. Such was the severe rule under which an Apprentice learned the art and secrets of the Craft. No such custom was known in England. no doubt. not a degree conferred. respectful to all Freemasons.agreeing not to absent himself from the service of the Order save with the license of the Master. the reverse was true. His masterpiece was carefully examined by the Masters assembled and if it was approved he was made a Master Mason. Not. and the whole was in that tiny bit of work. He must not frequent any tavern or ale-house. where a Fellow Craft was required to serve two additional years as a journeyman before becoming a Master. faithful in keeping the secrets of the Craft and the confidence of his fellows. he presented his "Masterpiece. until he had selected a Mark by which his work could be identified. he was entitled to become a Fellow . and it was the Apprentice who prepared his masterpiece. "Behold my experience!" By which he meant the sum of his experiments. free from slander and dispute. then Fellow . except it be upon an errand of the Master." some bit of stone or metal carefully carved. The old order was first Apprentice. but a reward of skill as a workman and of merit as a man. or with his consent.that is. entitled to take his kit of tools and go out as a workman. He must not only be chaste. . either in the Lodge or at the Annual Assembly (where awards were usually made). He must be honest and upright. saving. After seven years of study and discipline. a Master and Fellow of his Craft. to the custom of the German Guilds.mastership being. he became a Master. He had dulled the edge of many a tool. and renewed his Vows to the Order in which he was now a Fellow. for the inspection of the Master. then Master. The reversal of the order today is due. Indeed.

much of what is acted out in an American Lodge. although. Any Master could become a Master of the Work provided he was of sufficient skill and had the fortune to be chosen as such either by the employer or the Lodge. there would naturally be many changes and much that was routine in an operative Lodge became ritual in a speculative Lodge. for nobility of their gentle blood. or both. "They that were less of wit should not be called servant nor subject. For example. Elaborate drama would not be necessary in an operative Lodge." but there are signs to show that a distinction was made according to ability and skill. Those who were of greater skill held a higher position and were called Masters. they were both Masters and Fellows. all through the Old Charges. after the close of the cathedral-building period. but Fellow. In an age devoted to ceremonial it is hard to imagine such an important event without its appropriate ceremony." now represented by the Master of the Lodge. accompanied the making of a Master in the old operative Lodges is still a matter of discussion. . if not in drama. while the masses of the Craft were called Fellows. no doubt. What rite or ritual. But this is plain enough: all the materials out of which the degrees were later developed existed. As the Order." and those less skilled were commanded to call the more skilled "Masters. A further distinction must be made between a "Master" and a "Master of the Work. in the Matthew Cooke MS." After this manner our ancient Brethren faced the fact of human inequality of ability and initiative. or degrees. in a much less elaborate form than now practiced. but the details are obscure.Hence. at least in legend. if any. is merely recited in an English Lodge. Between a Master and the Master of the Work there was no difference. the order is "Masters and Fellows. Students seem pretty well agreed that from a very early time there were two ceremonies. Even to-day." Then it is added. except an accidental one. passed into its speculative character. we read that it had been "ordained that they who were passing of cunning should be passing honoured. of course.

in which we learn how an Apprentice was made a Master of his Craft? It is that indeed. the Second the Degree of Manhood. into the eternal life." and those hints increase as the office of Master of the Work lost its practical aspect after the cathedral-building period. but it could never have been imposed upon the Craft. but much more. Masonry was not invented. That such ideas and traditions did exist in the Craft we have ample evidence. Unless we have eyes to see a double meaning everywhere . unless it harmonized with some previous ceremony. except to say that those who imagine that it was an invention fabricated by Anderson and others at the time of the revival of Masonry. The Second lays stress upon the culture of the mind. the training of its faculties in the quest of knowledge. The first lays emphasis upon that fundamental righteousness without which a man is not a man. Such a degree could have been invented by anyone familiar with the ancient Mystery Religions. traditions and legends familiar and common to the members of the Craft. and no man can take them to heart and not be ennobled and enriched by their dignity and beauty. making us victors over death before it arrives. To-day it unfolds its wise and good and beautiful truth in three noble and impressive degrees.that purification of heart which is the basis alike of life and religion. but nothing is plainer than that we do not have to go outside of Masonry itself to find the materials out of which all three degrees. when the evening shadows fall and the Eternal World and its unknown adventure draw near. The Third seeks to initiate us. but a medley of warring passions . it grew. What. symbolically. are clearly wrong. as they now exist. at least. were developed.This is not the time to discuss the origin and development of the Third Degree. then. is meant by the Master's Piece? Is it simply a quaint custom handed down from our ancient Brethren. for each of us to-day. or. without which man remains a child. Long before 1717 we hear hints of "The Master's Part. in 1717. the Third the consolation and conquest of Old Age. with ideas. What was the Master's Part? Unfortunately we cannot discuss it in print. The First is the Degree of Youth.

little by little. by which he will be tested and tried at last. is something carved. it is ugly. which erases the past and gives another chance. Goethe. said that talent may develop in solitude. every deed becomes a part of our being and character. It is the fruit of fellowship. to register the transaction when the check is removed. dulled enough tools and made enough mistakes to teach us that life without charity is cruel and bitter. a great Mason. by which we shall stand judged before the Master of all Good Work. No one of us is . no man dieth unto himself. every aspiration has to do with it. All of us have spoiled enough material. but goodness is social. Every passion. But if we have eyes to see it is always a parable. we make our character. a moral application and a spiritual suggestion. and it takes two men and God to make a brother. and none may learn alone. The scholar. act by act. good men can lift us up. his personality. If we are selfish. the man of science. not in a day. If we are hateful. Such a fact makes a man ponder and consider what he is making out of his life. apprenticed in the school of life.in Masonry. whether he is aware of it or not-his character. fact by fact. an allegory. it is hideous. we see little or nothing. William James went so far as to say that just as the stubs remain in the check book. day by day. All we do. Character. but character is created in society. attains truth. Genius may shine aloof and alone. seeking that truth which none may learn for another. and what it will look like at the end. we work for "a penny a day. something wrought out of the raw stuff and hard material of life. like a star. In the same way." We never receive a large sum all at once. a symbol. Often enough men make such a bad botch of it that they have to begin all over again. goes into the making of it." We are tied together. If evil men can drag us down. The greatest truth taught by religion is the forgiveness of God. In the Holy Book which lies open on our altar we read: "No man liveth unto himself. Like the Masons of old. all we think. and the Master's Piece of olden time becomes an emblem of that upon which every man is working all the time and everywhere. as the word means. but the little reward of daily duties. so every mental act. but slowly.

as well as its . And the quarry is sunk at our gate. And the word of a Master Mason May the house of our soul create! "While the day hath light let the light be used. is a pure. Its simplicity and dignity. That is the meaning of pain. heroic. perhaps. and to yield ourselves to its influence. May we build King Solomon's Temple In the true Masonic Soul!" CHAPTER VII THE RITE OF DESTITUTION. "Him that overcometh. sorrow. And the ships out of Ophir. How hard the mallet strikes. I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. it is a fellowship of men seeking goodness.strong enough not to need the companionship of good men and the consecration of great ideals. to be drawn into its spirit and quest. with golden ore. at once the best service to man and the fairest offering to God. It is the chisel of the Master cutting the rough stone. Here lies. is to be made better than ourselves. Amid such influences each of us is making his Master's Piece. " The masterpiece of life. with strokes now tender. perhaps an altar emblem. but the stone becomes a pillar. faithful. now terrible. For our summoning mandate wait. For no man shall the night control! Or ever the silver cord be loosed. death. the deepest meaning and value of Masonry. its blend of solemnity and surprise. God is all the time refining. NOTHING in Freemasonry is more beautiful in form or more eloquent in meaning than the First Degree. "Oh! the Cedars of Lebanon grow at our door. beautiful Character. polishing. Or broken the golden bowl. an arch.

out of lonely isolation into a network of fellowships and relationships. is an analogy of the birth. or the riding of a goat. and our response to its appeal. awakening and growth of the soul. but it is hard to see how any man can receive the First Degree and pass out of the Lodge room quite the same man as when he entered it. a new. is like the cord which joins a child to its mother at birth. by an invisible bond. of course. and in this light each . We had been led. with its square surface and canopy of sky. perhaps. Nowhere may one hope to find a nobler appeal to the native nobilities of man. as of anything else depends upon our capacity. but how different it was in reality. The cable tow. by which we may be detained or removed should we be unworthy or unwilling to advance. to the service of our race in its moral effort to build a world of fraternal goodwill. Instead of mere play-acting we discovered. the profound meaning of Freemasonry began slowly to unfold before his mind. Nor is it removed until. uniting us. unseen tie is spun and woven in the heart. by the act of assuming the obligations and fellowships of the moral life. by the sly remarks of friends to expect some kind of horseplay. vaguely or clearly.beauty of moral truth. a ritual of religious faith and moral law. its centre an Altar of obligation and prayer. The whole meaning of initiation. its dark North and its radiant East . The initiation. is our advent from the darkness of prenatal gloom into the light of moral truth and spiritual faith. What we get out of Freemasonry. The Lodge is the world as it was thought to be in the olden time. What memories come back to us when we think of the time when we took our first step in Freemasonry. by the same token. mark it as a little masterpiece. Such is the system of moral philosophy set forth in symbols to which the initiate is introduced. henceforth. an allegory of life and a parable of those truths which lie at the foundations of manhood. its discovery of the purpose of life and the nature of the world in which it is to be lived. out of a merely physical into a human and moral order. by contrast. Surely no man can ever forget that hour when.

for. with a new body of motive and experience. each incident. wise. by a surprise as sudden as before. It is not left to the imagination.the duty of man to his fellow in dire need. or once for all. Then. At a certain point in his progress every man is asked for a token of a certain kind.perhaps for the first time in his life . he is made to feel the bewilderment. enters a new environment. and it is open to question whether any man lives long enough to think it through . Thus Freemasonry gives a man at a time when it is most needed. in one swift and searching moment. in which many emotions mingle. but that is only seeming. But we are under special obligations to our Brethren of the Craft. far more than we have been wont to admit. the lesson of the Golden Rule is taught . No man may hope to see it all at once. Like every other incident of initiation. accepts the human situation. and in a manner never to be forgotten.emblem. making his duty more real and vivid. which besets one who is deprived of the physical necessities of life upon which. In the actuality of the symbolism a man in the first degree of Freemasonry. For one impressive instant. the end of the world has come when man will not help man. both the moral and social order depend. it is in the light of the larger meanings of Freemasonry that we must interpret the Rite of Destitution. If he is "duly and truly prepared" he finds himself unable to grant the request. if he be young. like all simple things. if not the humiliation. since the initiate is actually put into the place of the man who asks his aid. it is deep and wonderful. Freemasons are under all the obligations of humanity. As Mohammed long ago said. Then. a noble. time-tried scheme of thought and moral principle by which to read the meaning of the world and his duty in it.what it means for a man to be actually destitute. to be laid up in the archives of the Lodge as a memorial of his initiation. he assumes his real vocation in the world and vows to live by the highest standard of values. as in the last. he realizes . . In short. At first sight it may seem to some that the lesson is marred by the limitations and qualifications which follow. should be interpreted. the most primary of which is to succor their fellow men in desperate plight.

not only in the form of financial relief. the learned and the unlearned. that is.a very dark problem. where there is real need our duty is limited only by our ability to help. in the solution of which Masons will have their share and do their part . without injury to those nearest to us.as much by the promptings of our hearts as by the vows we have taken. let us do good unto all men. and whose distress the initiate is under vows to relieve. No man ought to be allowed to enter the Order unless he is equal to its demands. alike in purpose and function. then. . the needy which this Rite requires that we aid are "all poor. No. especially unto them who are of the household of faith. too. but also in the form of companionship. So. but as the result of untoward circumstance. It is made up of picked men. has the indorsement of the Apostle Paul in his exhortations to the early Christian community. their widows and orphans"." and for Masons the home is the Lodge. worthy Masons. A church. opens its doors to all kinds and conditions of folk. who would use Masonry for their own ends. disease or disaster. But a Lodge of Masons is different. That is another problem. Such are deserving of charity in its true Masonic sense. able to pay its fees and dues. distressed. as his ability may permit. are exempt from the vicissitudes and tragedies of life. sympathy and love. Such a principle. those who are destitute through no fault of their own. In the Epistle to the Ephesians we read: "As we have therefore opportunity. If we are bidden to be on our guard against impostors. and to do his part in its work of relief. the destitute to which this Rite refers. are a definite and specific class. and united for unique ends. if it be worthy of the name. selected from among many. which asks for both patience and wisdom. rich and poor alike. They are those who. They are not to be confused with those who are poverty stricken by reason of criminal tendencies or inherent laziness. so far from being narrow and selfish. however intelligent and strong. however willing and eager. Yet no set of men. have become unable." It is only another way of saying that "charity begins at home. to meet their obligations. financially as well as mentally and morally. through accident.

Towards the end of his life he met with such reverses that he became Tyler of Old King's Arms Lodge. "Yes. and the two forlorn men clasped hands in a common need and pathos. as the result of some blow no mortal wit could avert. 28. to lose the personal touch. leaving them broken and helpless. When this is so charity becomes a mere perfunctory obligation. There was more real charity in that scene than in many a munificent donation made from a sense of duty or pride. Life may any day turn Ruffian and strike one of us such a blow. is a gift more needed than all others. or something worse. give me your hand. especially in large Lodges. . using its privacy to shield itself and those whom it aids. I have no money to give you. for example. distant almsgiving." was the reply. disaster following fast and following faster. or in the crowded solitude of great cities. stripped not only of his savings but of his power to earn. It is rich in benevolence. without warning or resource. How often have we seen a noble and able man suddenly smitten down in mid life. Anthony Sayer. It is to such experiences that the Rite of Destitution has reference. and let our charity fall to the level of a cold. pledging us to aid as individuals and as Lodges. shunted out of active life when most needed and most able and willing to serve.Take. also." said the first. and it knows how to hide its labors under the cover of secrecy. Disasters of the most appalling kind befall men every day. and a Lodge has been known to vote ten dollars for the relief of others and fifty dollars for its own entertainment! There is a Russian story in which a poor man asked aid of another as poor as himself: "Brother. and it is recorded that he was assisted "out of the box of this Society. may overtake any one of us. for that. There he lies. until we are at its mercy. but let me give you my hand. the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England. and we have a right to be proud that our Craft does not fail in the doing of good. No." Such a misfortune. Yet we are very apt.

as Lowell taught in "The Vision of Sir Launfal." is worth more than all the money on earth. dull pain of waiting for those who return no more.and who still haunts us like the dream of a Man we want to be. and blinding bereavements from which it offers no shelter. Many a young man fails. and yet be destitute of faith. of courage. if we think of it." Which implies that a man may give all the money he possesses and yet fail of that Divine grace of Charity. . the law and the prophets contain no word of better rule for the health of the soul than the adjuration: Hope thou a little. and the dreary. but it is not everything. Paul does not mention money at all. but ourselves. it profiteth me nothing. and love as much as you can. did more good to humanity than all of us put together .Indeed. and it is our duty to share our faith and courage with him. for lack of a brotherly hand which might have held him up. and there are many things it cannot do. we have so long linked charity with the giving of money that the word has well nigh lost its real meaning. or guided him into a wiser way. though he had neither home nor money. The Rite of Destitution! Yes. but a man may have all the money he needs. There are hungers which gold cannot satisfy. indeed. St. fear not at all. the sickness of the heart. Money has its place and value." Surely it was a good and wise wish. In his sublime hymn in praise of charity. and have not charity. much less the sum of our duty. in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians. To fulfill the obligations of this Rite we must give not simply our money. A great editor sent the following greeting at the New Year:" Here is hoping that in the New Year there will be nothing the matter with you that money cannot cure. of hope. or makes a bad mistake. For the rest. "in a friendly sort of way. "The Holy Supper is kept indeed. " writing in the name of a Great Brother who. There are times when a hand laid upon the shoulder. except to say "and although I bestow all my goods to feed the poor. because the things which money cannot cure are the ills of the spirit.

Thus he journeyed from Lodge to Lodge. Like our Brethren in the olden time.free. The reason why a man becomes a Master Mason is that he may travel in foreign countries. a whole Lodge travelled together. but there are inns along the way. kept by Father Time. An Apprentice presented his masterpiece. He could then take his kit of tools and journey wherever his work called him. and so the poets of all peoples have read the meaning of life.In what so we share with another's need. and Me!" CHAPTER VIII. his hungering neighbour. a Freemason . OUR Ancient Brethren were Pilgrims as well as Builders. as far back as we can go. in which there is goodly . or in company with his fellows. Sometimes. and so are we. he was made a Master and Fellow. at which we arrive this month. that is. The idea of life as a journey runs all through the symbolism of Freemasonry. THE INN OF YEAR'S END.like the Inn of Year's End.life a journey. we too are pilgrims . stopping at inns betimes to rest and refresh himself. and rest and reflect . who was not allowed to work beyond the limits of his city.and each of the Seven Ages is neighbour to the rest. and if it was approved. Who bestows himself with his alms feeds three: Himself. Not that which we give. but what we share. as Hope describes in his Essay on Architecture. Initiation itself is a journey from the West to the East in quest of that which was lost. as distinguished from a Guild Mason. in which we may take lodging for the night. from land to land. a band of pilgrim builders. work and receive the wages of a Master. It is a long road we journey together. man a traveller . What is symbolism with us was the actual life of Masons in days of old. and to forget that truth is to lose half its beauty. For the gift without the giver is bare. alone.

and there is no agreement as to the meaning or goal of the journey. when we settle down to be citizens of this world.set The pipe to powerful lips The cup of life's for him that drinks. who get the most out of life. And not for him that sips. the manifest travellers to a Better Country. or turn in at an inn." He agrees with a greater and braver poet who said : "Away with funeral music . It is the strangers in the world. where we make merry for to-night.company." But a Mason." . Also. the winding road is a symbol of the life of man true to fact. knows that life is not a jest. and now I know it. others hold it to be a nuisance. Once we are aware of ourselves as pilgrims on a journey. "a little holding lent to do a mighty labor. and much talk of the meaning of the journey and the incidents of the road. because they do not try to build houses of granite when they only have time to pitch a tent. the upsets and downfalls. then the people and the scenes about us reveal their meaning and charm. Yes. and all things show it: I thought so once. In the friendly air of the Inn of Year's End. Many agree with the epitaph of the poet Gay in Westminster Abbey:"Life is a jest. By the same token. but a great gift. there is much congratulation upon so much of the journey safely done. if he has learned the secret of his Craft. we have no clue at all to an understanding of it. there is no end of complaint at the aches and ills. the greatest leaders of the race are the men in whom the sense of being pilgrims and sojourners on the earth is the most vivid. Some think life a great adventure. If we forget that life is a Pilgrim's Progress. of the road. the world itself becomes a riddle and a puzzle. and much well-wishing for the way that lies ahead. Strangely enough. All kinds of faiths and philosophies mingle.

fantastic." Brotherly Love. what do we ask of life. but only such things as he really needs. It asks for insight. Much worthless luggage is carted over the hills and valleys of history. After all. but leave to love. made up of all kinds of folk . Hate is the worst folly.quaint. and angels who walk with us in disguise angels. here or hereafter. the road rough. Relief. to commune with our fellows. old grudges. and houses and bags of money.some marching. There are Greathearts who patrol the road. we can see that it simplifies life to know that we are pilgrims in a pilgrim world. ridiculous and pathetic . the things we actually need are few. and the weather stormy. to which let us add Courage. and Love.what more do we need? In a world where the way is often dim. When a man starts on a journey he does not take everything with him. To know what to take and what to leave is one of the finest arts. It is so in our own lives. "There abideth Faith.throwing the useless litter out the window or into the fire. we have time only to love and do good. joyous. and from the lap of earth to look up into the face of God ? Neither wealth nor fame can add anything worth while. to serve. which is the root of every virtue and the only security . some straggling through the world. One reason why the race moves so slowly is that it tries to take too much with it. Hope. How much does a man really need for his journey? If the wisdom of the ages is to be believed. sorrowful. heroic.At the end of an old year and the beginning of a new. weighing itself down with useless rubbish which ought to be thrown aside. these three. but they are very great. hindering the advance of humanity. because they believe in us . The human procession is endlessly interesting. ignoble. and the greatest of these is Love. Others carry old hates. which wear down their strength for nothing. At the end of the year it is wise to unpack our bundle and sort out the things we do not need . It is largely a matter of discrimination and transportation. we know them to be. Men stagger along the road with acres of land on their backs. and a sense of values. and Truth. judgment. with ourselves. old envies and disappointments. with the wonderful world in which we live.

too. Any man is a loafer who takes more out of life than be puts into it. our griefs are but incidents of the road. like the tramp in a western village who. headed south this trip. if I don't lay off sooner. seeking a Lodge. though they do not flip trains or ask for a "hand-out" at the back door. nigh forty years. but I ain't as bad as some of 'em. I've had a heap of fun. and handin' out a bit now and then to some poor devil down on his luck. he did it. when asked if he was a traveller. Oh yes. I've been hitting the road fer quite a spell. But I didn't. and went on his way. the loafer. he took him to the next inn. same as a lot of fellers." There is the shirk. When we know we are journeymen Masons.when we do not believe in ourselves. and thus make us do our best. None the less. One must put up with much on a journey which would be intolerable at home. I might have settled down and got married and raised a lot of kids I couldn't atook care of. but I hold a feller has a right to live the way he wants to as long as he lets other folks alone. partner. has made it easier for others to see the truth and do the right. Well. He only has lived who. Since we pass this way but once. partner. He did not know his name. so I jest thought I'd leave mine stay there. coming to the All-Men's Inn called death. He may have had difficulty in understanding his language. so long. Finding his duty by the roadside. And there are skulkers who shirk every danger and wander to no purpose. Memphis maybe. They say kids come from heaven. The Good Samaritan had never met the man whom he befriended on the road to Jericho. Our misfortunes. I suppose I'm what you call a bum. living without aim or obligation . we can the better interpret the ills that overtake us. idle and adrift. and paid for his keep. and if a man walks faithfully he will come to the house of God. replied :"Yep. But there are spiritual loafers and moral tramps almost as bad. leaving the world poorer than be found it. are near at hand. Our duties. Such is the chivalry of the road. It keeps me a-hustlin' to look after myself.trying to slip through and get by. Anyway. we must do all the good .

Many a wrong and its crowning song.we can. gathered in the Inn of Year's End. Many a road and many an Inn. Many ways and many days. No blind and aimless way our spirit goeth. the soul too is a pilgrim. but to Him who hath set Eternity in our hearts. makes the great adventure where no path is. and the way He knoweth. set free. Ending in one end. like all Brothers and Fellows before us. Such thoughts visit us. Walking for a brief time in this vesture of clay." . such faiths and hopes cheer us. There come thoughts of those who walked with us in other days. and have vanished. thinking of the meaning of the way. I go mine. to where the old road dips down into the Valley of Shadows. and the old road has been lonely since they went away. in all ways we can. as one by one those who journey with us fall asleep. But He who made us Brothers and Pilgrims here will lead us there. we shall not lose our way. and must pass on. but only one home For all the world to win. to all the people we can. Their friendship was sweet. as come we must. But if we walk "the Road of the Loving Heart. It is strange. Far to roam. thou goest thine. nor be left alone when we come at last. it betakes itself on an unknown journey. Many ways we wend. A door opens. They were noble and true. and the pilgrim spirit. Toward the end life is like a street of graves." and make friends with the Great Companion.

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