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 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
which we call the will and purpose of God. Men do not make laws.will rebuke himself and recall himself from any vagrant lapse or prolonged neglect.world has a mind of its own. must be in harmony with the nature of things. All history enforces the truth that there is a Will. we are set to build in the midst of the years. but which. Our work. holy and inexorable. Here also we build wisely only when we build in harmony with the Will of God as we believe and see it. Therefore we are here in the world to build upon the Will of God with the help of God. We demand of a wall that it shall have been built with respect to the centre of gravity of this earth. especially a Freemason . by keeping in the midst of it by humble fidelity. if it is to be of any worth. A wise man. lest he go too far. forces and conditions of the world in which he lives. Will of God. and proving ourselves worthy of that help. else our proudest fabric will totter to ruin. they discover them. and to the position of the polar star. and retaining it.if he knows his art . but also in our efforts and acts of obedience. Long ago it was said: "Except the Lord build the house they labour in vain that build it. but that in the depths he is face to face with God. as well as the physical. to regard the revelations of the moral. which in the end passes judgment upon our human undertakings.we may achieve
." What the Psalmist means is that the great things in the world are not accomplished by man. Not one of us would trust ourselves to a house which had been built casually and haphazard. He is the breath of our spirit. Manifestly the only man who builds rightly is the man who builds with due regard for the laws. Truly has it been said that the final truth about man is not that way down in the depths he is alone. Faith in God advises us. invoking His help in words of prayer and worship. By these lower. either by his anxieties or by his ingenuities. lesser faculties by cunning. Here is a matter which even the best of us too often forget. God no more wishes us to live without His aid than He wishes us to live without air. by cleverness . none the less. warns us. and this is equally true when we think of the House of the Spirit not built with hands.
aye. initiation our birth into a world in which we are to learn morality and charity. indeed. as if caught up into the rhythm of "one vast life that moves and cannot die. unveiling its plan of life.not. and its prophecy of a Temple of Brotherhood. and which we need to invoke if we are to face the difficulties and embarrassments .of these our days and years.small and passing things. and finally. Even the strongest of us need such resource the better to confront the issues of the day. are accomplished . wisdom. strength and beauty. the enduring things. as well as to face the vaster problems and mysteries which lie on all the horizons of our life. III. A great Freemason of Scotland. left us a legacy of inspiration and instruction in a book which is at once a
. apart from us. the tragedies . its purpose. 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. a source to which we may apply a daily test. and brothers one of another. 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. Such is the foundation of Freemasonry. if we have integrity and courage. 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. if counted worthy passing out of youth into manhood with its wider knowledge and heavier responsibilities. " Here is no abstract and unreal platitude. who recently climbed ahead to work up in the dome of the Temple. moves and goes forth to his labour. The truth is. but a truth. a fact. the discovery that we are citizens of Eternity in time: an ideal world ruled by love. It is a great day for a young man when Masonry reveals its meaning to him. rather. and the faith by which it makes us builders upon the Will of God and by His help. that the great things.
some epigram to haunt the mind. and will gratefully exclaim: Thank God. I have marked well. strengthen and beautify it. on its Trestleboard is the Plan of the Great Architect and its mission is to work out that plan. Out of the rough hard quarries of a quarrelling humanity it has to build a Temple of Brotherhood and Peace. The book is wise rather than clever. while. amid war and incessant conflict. Then. a light to lead his Brethren toward the truth after he has vanished from among us." by A. 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. and still more in its spirit in which spiritual vision and practical wisdom are blended. as a rule. MacBride. and exercise all the powers and gifts with which we have been endowed. We seem to be groping in the dark. Like the ingenious craftsman at the building of the Temple at Jerusalem. we appear to be without plan and instruction. in the build of its thought even more than in the turn of its sentences. Yet. as witness this one on the Great Landmark:"Why is Masonry here. To build. in reality. apply every resource that civilization and progress can give us. in this world of selfishness and strife? Wherefore has it been developed. Even now it is a classic of our literature. we must bring in the aid of all the arts and sciences.the highest and grandest ideal of Masonry. like him. S. Lodge Progress. This Temple is the Great Landmark . Brethren ? Yet. there. "'What nobler work can we be engaged in. we shall some day have our reward. how far we are. Glasgow. not decorative. There are passages of singular nobility.mentor and a memorial: "Speculative Masonry."
. The beauty of the book is inwrought. but there is hardly a page that does not yield some insight to illumine. beautiful rather than brilliant. it is ignorance more than unwillingness that hinders the work. along the lines of peace and love. our plan and instruction lie in the work itself. from understanding it.
where the mystery of God is embodied. wherein man goes forth to his labor on a checker-board of lights and shadows. and the wonder of it deepens the longer he ponders it. So far as we know. man is the only being on our planet that pauses to pray. not flat and square . the love of it ennobles our lives. THE ALTAR. The whole idea was that man. obligation.yet their insight is still true. it is our labor and our worship. and at its centre stood the Altar of sacrifice.a focus of faith and fellowship. and so at the centre of our Lodge stands the same Altar . need wisdom and help from above.CHAPTER 1. No thoughtful man but at some time has mused over the meaning of this great adoring habit of humanity. By some deep necessity of his nature he
. While we hold a view of the world very unlike that held by our ancient Brethren . as old as life itself . The instinct which thus draws men together in prayer is the strange power which has drawn together the stones of great cathedrals.
A MASONIC LODGE is a symbol of the world as it was thought to be in the olden time. 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. Our ancient Brethren had a profound insight when they saw that the world is a Temple. That is also our dream and design. seeking to reproduce on earth the law and order of heaven. To fulfil it we. over-hung by a starry canopy by night. too.older than all temples. joys and sorrows. 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. lighted by the journeying sun by day. Upon this earth there is nothing more impressive than the silence of a company of human beings bowed together at an altar. and adoration. and the wonder of his worship tells us more about him than any other fact. must imitate the laws and principles of the world in which he lives.knowing it to be round.
and the idea of sacrifice grew in meaning. not altogether an animal. Like the men who walked in the grey years agone. or vindictive . carved.criminals or slaves . we set up an Altar in the Lodge. and in moments of sadness or longing. turned his lonely bed into a house of God and a gate of heaven. may have been a part of his early ritual. Whatever else man may have been . it would have left us rich. on which burned the fragrance of worship. As far back as we can go the Altar was the centre of human Society. Behind all was the far withdrawn Holy place into which only the high priest might enter. and often beautifully wrought. The history of the Altar in the life of man is a story more fascinating than any fiction. stood in front of the Temple. where slain beasts were offered. as faith became more refined. when men erected a Temple dedicated and adorned as the House of God among men. even to the last ineffable homeward sigh which men call death. tyrannous.the record of his long search for God is enough to prove that he is not wholly base.cruel. deeming nothing too costly to adorn the place of prayer.is a seeker after God. moved thereto by the ancient need and aspiration of our humanity. Later. Rites horrible. Later still. the Altar was built of hewn stone cubical in form . and an object of peculiar sanctity by virtue of that law of association by which places and things are consecrated.cut. It was a place of refuge for the hunted or the tormented . The altar of sacrifice. stood within. our need is for the living God to hallow these our days and ve2rs. unhewn stone set up. on which angels were ascending and descending. the altar of incense. and one of incense. one of sacrifice. lifting up hands in prayer. and often bloody.and to drag them away from
. The earliest Altar was a rough. there were two altars. he lays aside his tools and looks out over the far horizon. like the stone which Jacob set up at Bethel when his dream of a ladder. but if the history of past ages had left us nothing but the memory of a race at prayer. following the good custom of the men which were of old. in hours of tragedy or terror. on which men lavished jewels and priceless gifts. And so.
that man must live on earth in harmony with the rhythm and movement of heaven. fundamental facts of faith it does not go. In English Lodges. no less than in its spirit and purpose. it stands in front of the Master in the East. while Masonry is not a religion. Here is a fact often overlooked. Beyond the Primary.from the East. following the course of the sun . In the York Rite. and the differences
. That is to say. but profoundly significant. The position of the Altar in the Lodge is not accidental.more properly a little to the East of the centre about which all Masonic activities revolve. and yet its uses are not exactly the same as the offices of an Altar in a cathedral or a shrine. a kind of table intended to support the Holy Bible. Nor does it attempt to do what the Church is trying to do. and treaties made or vows taken in its presence were more holy and binding than if made elsewhere. And yet it is not a Church.singing hymns of praise as a part of their worship. or dogmatically to settle in detail. because it does not undertake to explain. it was the usage of both priests and people to pass round the Altar.it by violence was held to be an act of sacrilege. For. With the philosophy of those facts. and especially among the peoples who worshipped the Light. the Square and Compasses. since they were under the protection of God. >From facts and hints such as these we begin to see the meaning of the Altar in Masonry. but a Worship in which all men can unite. because there man invoked God as witness. it is placed in the centre of the Lodge . it is religious in its faith and basic principles. as in the French and Scottish Rites. Their ritual was thus an allegorical picture of the truth which underlies all religion . Alike by its existence and its situation it identifies Masonry as a religious institution. and we ought to get it clearly in our minds. At the Altar marriage rites were solemnized. so called. by way of the South. to the West . It is not simply a necessary piece of furniture. Masonry is not a Religion. If it were a Church its Altar would be in the East and its ritual would be altered accordingly. much less a sect. In all the religions of antiquity. those issues by which men are divided. and the reason for its position in the Lodge.
the truth that makes all other truths true. as is now so often the case. to obey the moral Law. yet 'tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree. he will never be a stupid Atheist. and in the life everlasting. It is the first truth and the last. then. and there it stops. without which life is a riddle and fraternity a futility. whereby Masonry becomes the Centre of Union. but it does seek fraternity of spirit. apart from God the Father. 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. the Altar of Masonry is an Altar of Freedom . a Magna Charta of friendship and fraternity. and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remained at a perpetual Distance. Masonry goes hand in hand with religion until religion enters the field of sectarian feud. an Altar of Faith . it has not to do. that is. At the same time.not freedom from faith. but freedom of faith. leaving their particular Opinions to themselves.the deep. For. In short. to be good Men and true.
. by his Tenure. by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguished. and if he rightly understands the Art. first of all. Here. faith in God. eternal faith which underlies all creeds and overarches all sects. the position of the Altar in the Lodge is a symbol of what Masonry believes the Altar should be in actual life. leaving each one free to fashion his own philosophy of ultimate truth. whatever it was. But though in ancient Times Masons were charged in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation. and not a cause of division. a centre of union and fellowship. because Masonry seeks to unite men. not to divide them. in the moral law. nor an irreligious Libertine. As we may read in the Constitutions of 1723 :"A Mason is obliged. Faith in God is the corner-stone and the key-stone of Freemasonry. It does not seek uniformity of opinion. or Men of Honour and Honesty. is the meaning of the Masonic Altar and its position in the Lodge. It is.and disputes growing out of them. " Surely those are memorable words.
to communicate with mysteries greater than itself. Only by the practice of Brotherhood do men realize the Divine Fatherhood. or rather co-operative. and good-will. pity. allowing every man to think of God according to his experience of life and his vision of truth. I sought my Brother out. They are sitting quietly. but operative. Masonry is not speculative at all. and finds it empty. Masonry brings men together in mutual respect. It does not define God. As a matter of fact. I sought for God. but beautiful means to the end that every human heart may be a sanctuary of faith. still less make it a test of fellowship. While all its teaching implies the Fatherhood of God. It is an Altar of Fellowship.
." Hear one fact more. Often one enters a great Church. Behind this silence lies a deep and wise reason. and the meaning of the Masonic Altar will be plain. much less dogmatically determine how and what men shall think or believe about God. praying or in deep thought. There dispute and division begin. that we may learn in love the truth that is hidden by apathy and lost by hate. No one bows before it at all except when the Lodge is open and in the presence of his Brethren. or only a few people in the pews here and there.Beyond the fact of the reality of God it does not go. as if to teach us that no man can learn the truth for another. and that the Temple and its ritual are not ends in themselves. yet its ritual does not actually affirm that truth. an altar of purity. and unconquerable hope. and no man can learn it alone. sympathy. But no one ever goes to a Masonic Altar alone.that the most sacred Altar on earth is the soul of man . and find healing for the bruisings of life.your soul and mine. a shrine of love. each without reference to others. and found all three. let us never forget . and He eluded me. as a true-hearted poet has written "No man could tell me what my soul might be. like Westminster Abbey.what has been so often and so sadly forgotten . seeking an opportunity for the soul to be alone. For the rest.
leaving further research to learn further truth. and by whom the teaching and imagery of the Bible were wrought into Freemasonry. making its work a worship. so beloved by so many generations.CHAPTER II THE HOLY BIBLE. in the rituals of about 1760 it is described as one of the three Great Lights. At any rate.
. As the Craft laboured in the service of the Church during the cathedral-building period. familiar Book. and the holy contents of this Book. that the Bible came to its place of honour in the Lodge. where. unless the Book of Holy Law lies open upon its Altar. and before the discovery of printing. No Lodge can transact its own business. but no one can be dogmatic. as the Sun rules the day.
UPON the Altar of every Masonic Lodge. due largely to the influence of Preston and his fellow workmen. even in days when the Bible was not widely distributed. or oath. Thus the book of the Will of God rules the Lodge in its labours. lies the Holy Bible. The history of the Bible in the life and symbolism of Masonry is a story too long to recite here. of which a copy from the Royal Library in Berlin is given by Krause. in the Harleian Manuscript. " In the old Ritual. Anyone can have his theory. there is no mention of the Bible as one of the Lights. much less initiate candidates into its mysteries. The Bible opens when the Lodge opens. the obligation of an initiate closes with the words: "So help me God. of a Mason was taken. Just when. no one can tell. It was in England. The Bible is mentioned in some of the old Manuscripts of the Craft long before the revival of Masonry in 1717. The old. Nor can any one tell it as we should like to know it. dated about 1600. as the book upon which the covenant. it closes when the Lodge closes. For example. supporting the Square and Compasses. Anyway. it is not difficult to account for the Biblical coloring of its thought. but it is not referred to as a Great Light. we can take such facts as we are able to find. is our Volume of Sacred Law and a Great Light in Masonry.
a master light of all our seeing. Upon the Bible every Mason takes solemn vows of loyalty. Nor is it strange that it should be so.No Mason needs to be told what a great place the Bible has in the Masonry of our day. But more important than direct references is the fact that the spirit of the Bible. Almost every name found in our ceremonies is a Biblical name. like a rhythm or a fragrance. In the midst of ignorant idolatries and debasing superstitions the Temple on Mount Moriah stood for the Unity. sovereign. and symbolism of the Craft are woven. Righteousness. for the uses of man. naturally. But the Bible is not simply a foundation rock. he hears the words of the Bible recited as an accompaniment to his advance toward the light. whereby it avoids both intolerance and sectarianism. moral law. legends. pervades Masonry. and Spirituality of God. it is also a quarry in which we find the truths that make us men. but it is not dogmatic. so. about which the history. the book which tells us the purest truth about God is its altar-light. As soon as an initiate enters the Lodge. making for schism. the West. dividing men into sects. Then as he moves forward from one degree to another. was the tallest temple of the ancient world. It is central. and its music sings its way into his heart. and students have traced about seventy-five references to the Bible in the Ritual of the Craft. pledging himself to the practice of the Brotherly Life. almost too simple to be found out. its attitude toward life. supreme. It is essentially religious. not in the grandeur of its architecture but in the greatest of the truths for which it stood. But Masonry knows a certain secret. From the Altar it pours forth upon the East. The Temple of King Solomon. the imagery of the Bible becomes familiar and eloquent. its faith. As faith in God is the cornerstone of the Craft. so in this old book the light of moral truth is stored to light the mind and warm the heart of man. As in the old ages of geology rays of sunlight were stored up in vast beds of coal. of chastity and charity. The fact that the Bible lies open upon its Altar means that man must have some Divine
. Upon no other foundation can men build with any sense of security and permanence when the winds blow and the floods descend. there has been more dispute about the Bible than about any other book. and immortal hope. and the South its white light of spiritual vision. Alas.
It unites men. taking such faith and vision as he has found into a
. In its air of kindly fellowship. and is open for all to read. to mankind in every age and land. for whom and with whom man must work.must seek for a light higher than human to guide and govern him. by the very honour which Masonry pays to the Bible. so rich in symbolism. the wise Master Builder. It attempts no detailed interpretation of the Bible. the Book of Law of the Hebrew. For that reason. The great Book lies open upon its Altar. and by this sign its spirit must at last prevail. all righteous men are everywhere of one religion. It is a symbol of the Book of Truth. Charity in all things. it teaches us to revere every Book of Faith in which men find help for to-day and hope for the morrow. Thus. open for each to interpret for himself. man to man. Whether it be the Gospels of the Christian. the Scroll of Faith. or the Vedas of the Hindu. is itself a symbol . but it allows the utmost liberty of faith and thought. Liberty in details. the Bible. it everywhere Masonically conveys the same idea . but upon the broad. It is the beautiful secret of Masonry that all just men.the perpetual revelation of Himself which God has made. The tie by which our Craft is united is strong. But Masonry lays down no hard and fast dogma on the subject of revelation. not upon a creed bristling with debated issues. and its wisdom was never more needed than to-day. At the Altar of Masonry they learn not only toleration. in a Lodge consisting entirely of Jews. 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. Herein our gentle Craft is truly wise.symbolizing the Will of God revealed to man. a part taken for the whole.that is. all devout men. However religious teachers may differ in their doctrines. It is the glory of Masonry to teach Unity in essentials. the Record of the Will of God as man has learned it in the midst of the years . the Koran of the Mussulman. 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. Like everything else in Masonry. and in a Lodge in the land of Mohammed the Koran may be used.faith in God. in the Lodge they meet with mutual respect and goodwill. simple truth which underlies all creeds and over-arches all sects . the Old Testament alone may be placed upon the Altar. and is making.revelation . but appreciation.
its two great characters are God and the Soul. obedient and tolerant. lay its truth to heart and learn what it means to be a man. while mists the mountain shroud. if it gets into a man. So that. faithful and free. While swings the sea. that while they read different volumes." None the less." they are yet praying to the one God and Father of all. knowing that. while we honour every Book of Faith in which have been recorded the way and Will of God. live with it. if they use different names for "the Nameless One of an hundred names. with whatsoever else of the good and the true which the past has given us. adding to his knowledge virtue. he ought to read it. Our fathers and mothers 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 not on paper leaves nor leaves of stone. of joy or moan.great fellowship of the seekers and finders of the truth. Its very words have in them memories. Thus Masonry invites to its Altar men of all faiths. While thunder's surges burst on cliffs of cloud. each kindred. great and noble as the Bible is. temperance. Texts of despair or hope. There is something in the old Book which. and its scenery is interwoven with the holiest associations of our lives. echoes and overtones of voices long since hushed. Every Mason ought not only to honour the Bible as a great Light of the Craft. and it is thus a part of the ritual of the Lodge and the ritual of life. showing us the meaning and worth of life. finding in it their final reasons for living faithfully and nobly. brotherly love. makes him both gentle and strong. Each age. adds a verse to it. Masonry sees it as a symbol of that eternal. Still at the Prophet's feet the nations sit. with us the Bible is supreme. its light follows all our way. patience. knowing. love it. self-control. Its truth is inwrought in the fiber of our being. and pity. also. and the story
. Its spirit stirs our hearts. like a sweet habit of the blood. The Bible is as high as the sky and as deep as the grave. at once the mother-book of our literature and the masterbook of the Lodge. 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.
at once its Divine warrant and its chief working tools. telling us the half-forgotten secrets of our own hearts. eternal in the heavens. our doubts. Righteousness. How to live is the one important matter."
CHAPTER III. and thy neighbour as thyself. to love mercy. They are symbols of Revelation. for this is the law and the prophets. and with all thy soul. the Divine in man wins victory over the earthly. a house not made with hands. do ye even so to them. and Redemption. O man. and he will seek far without finding a wiser way than that shown us by the
." "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. our hopes. and obeying the law of Right. They are the three Great Lights of the Lodge. and what doth the Lord require of thee. telling us that God has made us for Himself. and upon the Bible lie the Square and Compasses. It is the most Divine of books." "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved. " "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction." "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you. and with all thy mind. but to do justly. we have a building of God. It is the most human of books. our sins. "He hath showed thee. what is good.of their eternal life together is its everlasting romance. THE SQUARE
THE Holy Bible lies open upon the Altar of Masonry. unhappy and lonely until we learn to rest in Him whose Will is our peace. and to walk humbly with thy God. our sorrows. and with all thy strength. teaching us that by walking in the light of Truth. and to keep himself unspotted by the world. and that our hearts will be restless.
whether comprehended by all or not. has an established mystic significance. and the one suggests the other. the Square was an emblem of the Earth. the simplest. because the things they symbolize are interwoven. so our acts and thoughts are built together into a structure
. and later. and the most universal symbols of Masonry. the Patent Office refused permission. or skyey spirit in man. so commonly worn and employed by Masons. As the sky is an arc or a circle. Some years ago. plain Square. deemed by the Greeks a figure of perfection. with inches marked for measuring. they are seldom far apart. the Square and Compasses are seen together. on the ground. as in the public mind. the implement which describes a Circle became the symbol of the heavenly. a simple try-square used for testing the accuracy of angles. unmarked and with legs of equal length. it naturally became an emblem of accuracy. whether as a sign on a building. and nothing in Masonry is more impressive than the slow elevation of the Compasses above the Square in the progress of the degrees. Nearly everywhere in our Ritual. The Square and Compasses are the oldest. is not material to this issue. " They belong to us. even the profane know them to be emblems of our ancient Craft. As stones are cut to fit into a building. one leg of which is longer than the other. Nor is it the square of the carpenter. when a business firm tried to adopt the Square and Compasses as a trade-mark. alike by the associations of history and the tongue of common report. as the decision said. There is no need to say that the Square we have in mind is not a Cube. The whole meaning and task of life is there. that "there can be no doubt that this device. for such as have eyes to see. universally recognized as existing. or a badge worn by a Brother. If not interlocked. Let us separate the Square from the Compasses and study it alone. of the earthly element in man. Thus the tools of the builder became the emblems of the thoughts of the thinker. and the precision with which stones are cut. rightness. integrity. which has four equal sides and angles. In the old days when the earth was thought to be flat and square. All the world over. the better to see its further meaning and use. It is a small. And that is as it should be.Great Lights of the Lodge. Since the try-square was used to prove that angles were right.
and is applied in the light of faith in God. but of all ordered and advancing social life. because the tendency of the time is to separate them. among Speculative Masons. and so lacks authority and sanction. In one of the earliest catechisms of the Craft. History speaks plainly in this matter. The idea in vogue to-day is that morality is enough. by the fact that the Holy Bible was placed upon the Altar. if not a cobweb. must be present in every Lodge as its ruling Lights. and dated 1607.it is necessary to keep the two together in our day. and must be tested by a moral standard of which the simple try-square is a symbol." For. and the moral law will lose both its meaning and its power. God and the Square . but whole civilizations have perished in the past. as all history shows. along with the Square and Compasses. to be thrown off lightly. >From the beginning of the Revival in 1717 this was made plain in the teaching of Masonry. So. Far wiser was the old book entitled All in All and the Same Forever. Once let men come to think that morality is a human invention. In all lands. for lack of righteousness. by John Davies. such a spirit . and that faith in God . though written by a non-Mason. Religion and Morality. Some very able men of the Craft insist that we make the teaching of Masonry too religious.so wide-spread in our time.may or may not be important. not only of Masonry. and finding so many able and plausible advocates . Whereas. 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. the question is asked: "How many make a Lodge?" The answer is specific and unmistakable: "God and the square.if there be a God . Not only nations. if faith in God grows dim. and we dare
.of Character. the tiny try-square has always been a symbol of morality. It is not rooted in reality. Such an idea. or it fails of being a just and truly constituted Lodge." God and the Square. a society without standards will be a society without stability. dated 1725. a mere custom. and it will one day go down. of the basic rightness which must be the test of every act and the foundation of character and society.strikes at the foundations. the Square is a symbol of righteousness. inevitably. with five or seven right or perfect Masons. and not a part of the order of the world. in all rites where Masonry is true to itself. morality become. badly or firmly.
and the reason why Masons call it the great symbol of their Craft. 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. It is like a problem in geometry. and at the same time
. but if he expects it to stand and be his home. revealing the oldest wisdom man has learned and the very genius of our Craft. In one of the old books of China." There it is. On it was inscribed the date. long ago. When he is brought to light. recorded long. A man may build a house in any way he likes. it does not need a prophet to foresee what the result will be. When a young man forgets the simple Law of the Square. by the Square. and the oldest man in his ripe wisdom has learned nothing more true. 1517. "this is called the principle of acting on the square. Hence the importance attached to the Square or Virtue. As soon as he enters a Lodge. in 1830. he beholds the Square upon the Altar. in our Craft and outside. the candidate walks with square steps round the square pavement of a rectangular Lodge. Long before our era we find the Square teaching the same lesson which it teaches us to-day. unless we live in obedience to the moral laws which God has written in the order of things. the Square rules the Mason as well as the Lodge in which he labours. our lives will fall and end in wreck. It is a symbol of that moral law upon which human life must rest if it is to stand." How simple and beautiful it is. The greatest philosopher has found nothing more profound. All during the ceremony his attitude keeps him in mind of the same symbol. in the form of an old brass Square found under the foundation stone of an ancient bridge near Limerick. we read that a man should not do unto others what he would not have them do unto him. called The Great Learning. he must adjust his structure to the laws and forces that rule in the material realm.not disregard it. In fact and truth. which has been dated in the fifth century before Christ. and the following words:"Strive to live with love and care Upon the Level. and the writer adds. Just so. Such has been the meaning of the Square as far back as we can go. The Deputy Provincial Grand Master of North and East Yorkshire recovered a very curious relic. everywhere. as if to fashion his life after its form. So.
In the north-cast corner he is shown the perfect Ashlar.sees that it is worn by the Master of the Lodge. One duty stands for me. not even death. It means that men have confidence In everything you do." It is the first obligation of a Mason to be on the Square. can destroy it. a faith by which we may build our days and years into a character so strong and true that nothing.
. Long ago the question was asked and answered: "Lord. here's a phrase that stands for much. One honor that is fair. and speaketh the truth in his heart. By as much as a man honestly applies that test in his own heart. Let one of our poets sum it all up:"It matters not whate'er your lot Or what your task may be. One glory still awaits for you. in all his duties and dealings with his fellow men. For Masonry is not simply a Ritual. who must be a Square-Man in thought and conduct. It offers us a plan. and true. a method. and if we forget this first truth the Lost Word will remain forever lost.' "Ah. and if he fails there he cannot win anywhere. and in his relations with his fellows. by which to test each thought and deed and word. who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? He that walketh uprightly. Be you a doctor skilled and wise. 'Tis good old English. Or do your work for wage. To have men say as you pass by: 'That fellow's on the square. in word and act. as the emblem of his office. and worketh righteousness. it is a way of living. whether it be true or false. A laborer upon the street. It means that what you have you've earned And that you've done your best. With every art of emphasis the Ritual writes this lesson in our hearts. Each of us has in his own heart a little trysquare called Conscience. One duty there remains for you. stable. An artist on the stage. and told that it is the type of a finished Mason. too. by so much will his life be happy.
' "And when I die I would not wish A lengthy epitaph. over it arches the Sky. Carved with fulsome chaff. are the Great Lights of the Craft. and these old emblems. To 'grave upon my monument. I do not want a headstone large. It means that conscience is your guide. And honor is your care. If such a deed there be.the earth where man goes forth to his labor.And when you go to sleep at night Untroubled you may rest. more profound. Just this one phrase of all I choose. For those who come to see. which is a circle.' "
CHAPTER IV THE COMPASSES
IN our study of the Square we saw that it is nearly always linked with the Compasses. more universal. There is no greater praise than this: 'That fellow's on the square. 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. Pick out no single deed of mine. In other words. Thus Earth and Heaven are brought together in the Lodge . If the Lodge is an "oblong square" and built upon the Square (as the earth was thought to be in olden time). and the heaven to which he aspires. joined with the Holy Bible. No symbolism can be more simple. To show my life was fair: 'Here sleepeth now a fellow who Was always on the square. and it becomes more wonderful the longer one
the Square and Compasses are nearly always together. we find these words: "A Master Mason. and its roof is the blue vault above. it has no rafters but the arching heavens to which. hoodwinked by the senses. slowly groping his way out of darkness." Note the order of the words: the Compass has first place. Of the heavenly side of Masonry the Compasses are the symbol. The Book of History. dating back two thousand years before our era. at least. Ye who are engaged in the pursuit of wisdom must also make use of the compass and the square. Some deep need. so the earthly life of man moves and is built within the Circle of Divine life and law and love which surrounds. in which ail men can unite. else he would live untroubled by a spark. sustains. and they seem to have been interpreted in the same way. seeking the light of morality and reason.ponders it. its morality is rooted in the order of the world. In the sixth book of the philosophy of Mencius. The Square rests upon the Compasses before the Compasses rest upon the Square. we find the Compasses employed without the Square: "Ye officers of the Government. our life and labor tend. and that is true as far back as we can go. as we are apt to forget. In the Ritual of the Lodge we see man. is always open to the sky. it is Universe Religion. Its principles are as wide as the world. apply the Compasses. as high as the sky. That is to say. in point of truth it is not the first in order. While in the order of the Lodge the Square is first. just as a perfect square is a figure that can be drawn only within a circle or about a circle. and explains it. The Lodge. and they are perhaps the most spiritual of our working tools. as sparks ascending seek the sun. As has been said. in teaching Apprentices. In the oldest classic of China." Even in that far off time these symbols had the same meaning they have for us today. and it should have to a Master Mason. Symbolically. whence come those influences which exalt and ennoble the life of man. in China. if Masonry is in any sense a religion. some dim desire brought him to the
. Nature and Revelation blend in its teaching. makes use of the compasses and the square. But he does so by the aid of inspiration from above. Indeed.
lesser nature. free." In short. in quest of a better life and a clearer vision. impulses. Here. we learn a parable and a prophecy of what the Compasses mean in the life of a Mason. and he stands forth strong. self-reverence. his divine life covered and ruled by his earthly nature. As Most Excellent King Solomon said long ago. As an Apprentice a man is. but never better than in the three great words: self-knowledge. There is no more practical lesson in Masonry and it behoves us to learn it and lay it to heart. and life may easily end in chaos and confusion. it is the old triad. and still more by Divine help the divine in him has subjugated the earthly. It has been put in many ways. we learn what the old philosopher of China meant when be urged Officers of the Government to "apply the Compasses. In the sublime Degree of a Master Mason .far more sublime than we yet realize . What that obligation is needs to be made plain: it is the primary. As a Fellowcraft he has made one step toward liberty and light. symbolically. self-
.by human love. As the light of the Holy Bible reveals our relation and duty to God. intimations reached him in the night of Nature. and the nobler elements in him are struggling to rise above and control his lower. and keeping his desires within due bounds. natural state. If we examine with care the relative positions of the Square and Compasses as he advanced through the Degrees. too. and fearless. Let us now study the Compasses apart from the Square." since only men who have mastered themselves can really lead or rule others. imperative. and he set forth and finding a friendly hand to help knocked at the door of the House of Light. by the discipline of tragedy. without which character loses its symmetry. "better is he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. and try to discover what they have to teach us. so the Compasses teach us the obligation which we owe to ourselves. Vague gleams. in a crude.door of the Lodge. and the Square instructs us in our duties to our Brother and neighbour. ready to raise stone upon stone until naught is wanting. everyday duty of circumscribing his passions.
a man goes too far. and the pressure of public opinion are impalpable restraining forces which we dare not altogether defy. Yet limitless liberty is anarchy and slavery. It is the wonder of our human life that we belong to the limited and to the unlimited." Liberty rests upon law. Custom. of which the Compasses are a symbol. The laws of the land make us aware that our liberty is limited by the equal rights and liberties of others. think as a mortal" . to qualify the one by the other. too. Hemmed in. Lacking such knowledge. These are so many roads from which our passions and appetites stray at our peril. The laws of nature throw about us their restraining bands. if he uses them aright. "it is ordained in the eternal constitution of things. and a security against many a pitfall and blunder. habit. our limitations. like a star out of orbit. The wise man is he who takes full account of both. It is in the realm of desire. and their worship of the God of Bounds. The old Greeks put the same truth into a trinity of maxims: "Know thyself. Our neighbour. and goes down the road to destruction.control. our weakness. and they are the places where most of our joy and sorrow lie. in nothing too much. Hence their wise Doctrine of the Limit. and by the very fact loses. who knows how. in some measure. loses control of himself. Much of our life is ruled for us whether we will or not. emotion. will teach him how to do. or a car into the ditch. he does not long keep his respect for others. and it made them masters of the art of life and the life of art. But there are other regions of life where personality has free play. in the inner life where we
. is the first principle of wisdom. that a man of intemperate passions cannot be free. the self-respect which is the corner stone of a character. if we fail to act toward him squarely may be trusted to look after his own rights. his passions forge their fetters. at all points. or disregarding it. as the Compasses. our strength. and we cannot lose any one of the three and keep the other two. motive. As in the great word of Burke. restricted. as a basic idea both of life and of thought. To know ourselves. hedged about. If he loses respect for himself. and there is no place where their writ does not run. we long for a liberty without rule or limit.
Strangely enough. beautiful. Many a man loses all truth in his impatient effort to reach final truth. becomes flattery. that we need a wise and faithful use of the Compasses. "In nothing too much. Within a wise limit he will live and labour and grow. may actually become a vice. asking for the highest skill of a Master Mason. Faith. a hot temper. enlarging the circle as our experience and thought and vision expand. if unrestrained and left to itself. we must apply the Compasses. If he has a quick tongue. But such an idea is all a blur. the fanatic. How to use the Compasses is one of the finest of all arts. too. It is the Compasses that help us to keep our balance. the persecutor. who becomes the bigot. the whole truth. and finely poised No wise man dare forget the maxim. remember the limits of human thought. ends in over-belief and superstition. if we would have
. even a virtue. against the brevity of his earthly life the reach of his spiritual hope. Praise. and who seeks to impose his dogma upon others. and nothing but the truth. until he is ready and able to go farther. if pushed too far. Here. Even in our thought about God we must draw a circle enclosing so much of His nature as we can grasp and realize. An old mystic said that God is a circle whose centre is everywhere. shut his weakness within the circle of his strength.that is. and with the other draw a circle beyond which he will not go. balanced. and control it. Love often ends in a soft sentimentalism. and when he reaches the outer rim of the circle he will draw another. if carried to the extreme by the will to believe. It is the man who fancies that he has found the only truth. and attain to a full-orbed life. and its circumference nowhere. in obedience to the other Greek maxim: "Think as a mortal" -. he will rest one point on the innermost centre of his being. means disaster. If he is properly instructed. a step too far. flabby and foolish. Our minds can neither grasp nor hold it. a dark mood. he will apply the Compasses.are freest and most alone. " for there are situations where a word too much. Against the littleness of his knowledge he will set the depth of his desire to know.
In our symbolism. rebel. The one is used to lay horizontals. that if we are to know Him at all truly. the other to try perpendiculars. as the Apprentice is youth. a thing to flout. using materials gathered and rough hewn by Apprentices. so the Fellowcraft is manhood. so far beyond my mind and yours.though it be as one who sees in a glass darkly. They really belong together. and their meaning is so plain that it hardly needs to be pointed out. and they are also worn as jewels by two of the principal officers of the Lodge. all working under the guidance of the Master. we shall see God face to face and know ever as we are known. Heretic. we must know Him together. as much in moral teaching as in practical building.
LIKE the Square and the Compasses. And so the Poet-Mason was right when he wrote:"He drew a circle that shut me out. Among the Craft Masons of olden time the actual work of building was done by Fellowcrafts. in fellowship and fraternity. Next to the Square and Compasses. the time when the actual work of life must be done on the Level. But love and I had the wit to win. Now we know in part . but it is real as far as it goes . both are special working tools of the Fellowcraft. By reason of their use. it may be. Yet they are so important. and their use suggests their symbolism. the Level and Plumb are among the noblest and simplest symbols of the Craft. THE LEVEL AND PLUMB.our faith fulfil itself in fellowship.a small part. But God is so great. by the Plumb and Square. the Level and the Plumb are nearly always united in our Ritual. We drew a circle that took him in. that they might almost be numbered among the
CHAPTER V. in use and meaning. The promise is that if we are worthy and well qualified. along with the Square.
An English writer finds a lesson in the structure of the Level. either by nature or by grace. in the fact that we know that a surface is level when the fluid is poised and at rest. >From the use of the Level he bids us seek to attain a peaceful. but he insists that one of the best services of Masonry is to keep before us high ideals. he admits. as a mountain above the hills. a constantly receding ideal. some two. Some have five talents. is for the purpose of proving horizontals. otherwise we should tire of it. in moral quality. are sharers of the common human lot. erases all distinctions and reduces all to the same level. the great meaning of the Level is that it teaches equality. Men are very unequal in physical power. a glittering generality born of the fact that all are made of the same dust. no matter how fine the
. With most of us it is a vague sentiment.Lesser Lights of the Lodge. One man towers above his fellows. There is no little confusion of mind about it. I. Our humanity resembles the surface of the natural world in its hills and valleys. Some can do what others can never do. and some but one. When there is inequality of gift it is idle to talk of equality of opportunity. so the newly made Mason is taught. hopes and loves . what is more. No two men are equal. and. Our Declaration of American Independence tells us that all men are "created equal. undisturbed by the passions which upset and sway us one way or the other. by its grim democracy. balanced poise of mind. and a poet may be unequal to a hod-carrier in strength and sagacity." but not many have tried to think out what the words really mean. moved by the same great faith and fears. Of course. Anyone who faces the facts knows well enough that all men are not equal. The Level. It is a counsel of perfection. and that is a truth that needs to be carefully understood. in mental ability.walking on the Level of time until Death. no two are alike. A genius can do with effortless ease what it is futile for others to attempt.
every man has an equal and inalienable right to "life.phrase may sound. No. pioneers to blaze the path into new lands. wherein one lacks another excels. scientists to teach. who was not a Mason. unhindered by injustice or oppression. liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What. then. Or. special privileges to none!" That is to say. The iron wrinkles of fact are stubborn realities. One thing we do know: Freemasonry presided over the birth of our Republic. in whose presence all men are one in their littleness. Even Thomas Paine. seers to see. and the work of each is the glory of all. No doubt this was what Goethe meant when he said that it takes all men to make one man. of which the Level is the symbol. vowed to the service of the rights of man. as before God. wrote an
. whatever it may be. and with him many others. We need poets to inspire. As our Declaration of Independence puts it. as a famous slogan summed it up: "Equal rights for all. it is something better. before the law every man has an equal right to equal justice. might have had another issue but for the fact that our leaders were held together by a mystic tie of obligation. and by the skill of its leaders wrote its basic truth. into the organic law of this land. each receives equally and impartially the blessing of the Eternal Love. because it would make a dull world if all men were equal in a literal sense." with due regard for the rights of others in the same quest. it is the equal right of each man to the full use and development of such power as he has. and the fight for constitutional liberty. It does not exist. The War for Independence. is the equality of which the Level is the symbol ? Clearly it is not identity or even similarity of gift and endowment. Albert Pike. Manifestly it is better to have it so. prophets to lead. even as the sun shines and the rain falls on all with equal benediction. have gone so far as to say that Masonry was the first apostle of equality in the true sense. As it is. brains to devise. The world has different tasks demanding different powers. and men are drawn together by the fact that they are unequal and unlike. hands to execute. By no glib theory can humanity be reduced to a dead level.
ranks. parties. interests. equally with the brother who has attained the highest round of the wheel of fortune. and occupations . about an altar of obligation and prayer.meet in mutual respect and real regard. the Fellowcraft who polishes and deposits them in the wall. do not pass the Inner Guard. and united for the highest good of all. like the Level and the Plumb. and the humblest brother is held in sacred regard. Every one is equal to every other so long as he does good work. forgetting all differences of rank and station. square work. Every man in the Lodge is equally concerned in the building of the Temple. and each has his work to do. high and low.men of diverse creeds. Thus. the architect who draws the plans. None but is necessary to the erection of the edifice. by all that is sacred both in our Country and our Craft. making each a fellow-worker in a great enterprise. But it is in the free and friendly air of a Lodge of Masons. the symbol of equality.two principles which belong together. and all together know the joy of seeing the Temple slowly rising in the midst of their labors. we are pledged to guard. Thus Masonry lifts men to a high level. that the principle of equality finds its most perfect and beautiful expression. "We meet upon the Level and part upon the Square". rich and poor. There. As the Level teaches unity in diversity and equality in
. guide their labor. riches. none but receives the honour of the Craft. prince and plain citizen .essay in honour of an Order which stood for government without tyranny and religion without superstition . and pay their wages. defend. upon the Level. and if it is the best brotherhood it is because it is a brotherhood of the best. true work. and the officers who marshal the workmen. II The Plumb is a symbol so simple that it needs no exposition. and practice the truth taught by the Level. Because the task demands different gifts and powers. all are equally necessary to the work. the Apprentice who carries stones or shapes them with chisel and gavel. titles.
nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. and worketh righteousness. integrity of life. but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. and changeth not. which may be called the religion of a gentleman and the design upon the Trestleboard of every Mason:"Lord. who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly. we weaken society and imperil the security and sanctity of the common life. so the Plumb is a symbol of rectitude of conduct. making it strong or weak. In the art of building accuracy is integrity. but it has never been better described than in the 15th Psalm. He that sweareth to his own hurt.difference. by the test of the Plumb. What is meant by an upright life each of us knows. In whose eyes a vile person is condemned. By every act of injustice. or else endanger the strength and stability of the whole. nor doeth evil to his neighbour. 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. just so. Always it comes back at last to the individual. The strength of a nation is its integrity. we must each build an upright character. and that uprightness of moral character which makes a good and just man. and if a wall be not exactly perpendicular. He that putteth not out his money to usury. who is a living stone in the wall of society and the state. nor taketh reward against the innocent." What is true of a man is equally true of a nation. or we weaken the Fraternity we seek to serve and imperil 'Its strength and standing in the community. by every lack of integrity. He that backbiteth not with his tongue. though we meet upon the Level. so Masons must walk erect and live upright lives. He that doeth these things shall never be moved. as tested by the Plumb-line. By every noble act we make all sacred things more sacred and secure for ourselves and for those who come after us. and speaketh the truth in his heart. 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. and no nation is stronger than the moral quality of the men who are citizens.
He had first to confess his faith in God. and by the same test we are tried :"Thus He showed me: and. he was sent away.
IN the olden time it was no easy matter for a man to become a Freemason. 'Behold. the Lord stood upon a wall made by plumb-line. technical skill. Also. THE MASTER'S PIECE. Then. If he proved incompetent or unworthy. of sound body and good repute. I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people of Israel: I will not again pass them by any more. vowing absolute obedience. In all operative Lodges of the Middle Ages. He had to win the right by hard work. for the Lodge was a school of the seven sciences. when there was a period of freedom duly celebrated with feast and frolic. as well as of the art of building. 'Amos. The rules by which an Apprentice pledged himself to live. behold. and if he proved himself trustworthy and proficient his wages were increased.
. he had to prove himself a freeman of lawful age and legitimate birth. he had to bind himself to serve under rigid rules for seven years.' Then said the Lord. his service being at once a test of his character and a training for his work. the State and the Master under whom he served. doing the most Menial work. as in the guilds of skilled artisans of the same period. what seest thou?' And I said. but the rules were never relaxed. were very strict. to be eligible at all." as the Old Charges tell us.of old by the Plumb-line. and personal worth. with a plumb-line in His hand. young men entered as Apprentices. as now. At first the Apprentice was little more than a servant."
CHAPTER VI. "except at Christmastime. as we find them recorded in the Old Charges. And the Lord said unto me. 'A plumb-line. vowing to honour the Church.
The old order was first Apprentice.that is.agreeing not to absent himself from the service of the Order save with the license of the Master. then Master. and it was the Apprentice who prepared his masterpiece.
. Such was the severe rule under which an Apprentice learned the art and secrets of the Craft. free from slander and dispute. no doubt. he was entitled to become a Fellow . faithful in keeping the secrets of the Craft and the confidence of his fellows. or with his consent. a Master and Fellow of his Craft. entitled to take his kit of tools and go out as a workman. but a reward of skill as a workman and of merit as a man. He must be honest and upright. to the custom of the German Guilds." some bit of stone or metal carefully carved. he presented his "Masterpiece. except it be upon an errand of the Master. he became a Master. and renewed his Vows to the Order in which he was now a Fellow. and if it was accepted. He must be obedient to the Master without argument or murmuring. then Fellow . He had dulled the edge of many a tool. His masterpiece was carefully examined by the Masters assembled and if it was approved he was made a Master Mason. After seven years of study and discipline. the reverse was true. respectful to all Freemasons. in the early time. where a Fellow Craft was required to serve two additional years as a journeyman before becoming a Master. but must not marry or contract himself to any woman during the term of his apprenticeship. The reversal of the order today is due. He had spent laborious nights and days. until he had selected a Mark by which his work could be identified. avoiding uncivil speech. Indeed. No such custom was known in England. and the whole was in that tiny bit of work. either in the Lodge or at the Annual Assembly (where awards were usually made). He had spoiled many a hit of stone. He must not only be chaste. "Behold my experience!" By which he meant the sum of his experiments. a peer and Fellow of the Craft which hitherto he had only served. Having won his mastership. for the inspection of the Master. He must not frequent any tavern or ale-house. not a degree conferred. saving.mastership being. Not. however.
except an accidental one.
. or degrees. in a much less elaborate form than now practiced. while the masses of the Craft were called Fellows. although. accompanied the making of a Master in the old operative Lodges is still a matter of discussion." After this manner our ancient Brethren faced the fact of human inequality of ability and initiative. As the Order. if not in drama. Those who were of greater skill held a higher position and were called Masters. For example.Hence. we read that it had been "ordained that they who were passing of cunning should be passing honoured. much of what is acted out in an American Lodge. for nobility of their gentle blood. is merely recited in an English Lodge. "They that were less of wit should not be called servant nor subject. the order is "Masters and Fellows. at least in legend. What rite or ritual. no doubt. but Fellow. Between a Master and the Master of the Work there was no difference." Then it is added. all through the Old Charges. there would naturally be many changes and much that was routine in an operative Lodge became ritual in a speculative Lodge." but there are signs to show that a distinction was made according to ability and skill. A further distinction must be made between a "Master" and a "Master of the Work. But this is plain enough: all the materials out of which the degrees were later developed existed. of course. 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." and those less skilled were commanded to call the more skilled "Masters. Elaborate drama would not be necessary in an operative Lodge. if any. they were both Masters and Fellows. Students seem pretty well agreed that from a very early time there were two ceremonies. after the close of the cathedral-building period. but the details are obscure. or both." now represented by the Master of the Lodge. Even to-day. in the Matthew Cooke MS. passed into its speculative character. In an age devoted to ceremonial it is hard to imagine such an important event without its appropriate ceremony.
traditions and legends familiar and common to the members of the Craft. without which man remains a child. the Second the Degree of Manhood. 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. then. Long before 1717 we hear hints of "The Master's Part. 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. Unless we have eyes to see a double meaning everywhere
. What. making us victors over death before it arrives. into the eternal life.that purification of heart which is the basis alike of life and religion. That such ideas and traditions did exist in the Craft we have ample evidence. are clearly wrong. The Second lays stress upon the culture of the mind. at least. the training of its faculties in the quest of knowledge. when the evening shadows fall and the Eternal World and its unknown adventure draw near. but a medley of warring passions . The Third seeks to initiate us. were developed. is meant by the Master's Piece? Is it simply a quaint custom handed down from our ancient Brethren. symbolically. The first lays emphasis upon that fundamental righteousness without which a man is not a man." and those hints increase as the office of Master of the Work lost its practical aspect after the cathedral-building period. as they now exist. or. for each of us to-day. with ideas.This is not the time to discuss the origin and development of the Third Degree. but much more. The First is the Degree of Youth. but it could never have been imposed upon the Craft. the Third the consolation and conquest of Old Age. To-day it unfolds its wise and good and beautiful truth in three noble and impressive degrees. it grew. and no man can take them to heart and not be ennobled and enriched by their dignity and beauty. What was the Master's Part? Unfortunately we cannot discuss it in print. in which we learn how an Apprentice was made a Master of his Craft? It is that indeed. in 1717. unless it harmonized with some previous ceremony. Such a degree could have been invented by anyone familiar with the ancient Mystery Religions. Masonry was not invented.
Every passion. it is hideous. But if we have eyes to see it is always a parable. not in a day. all we think." We never receive a large sum all at once. and it takes two men and God to make a brother. apprenticed in the school of life. goes into the making of it. Goethe. but goodness is social. Often enough men make such a bad botch of it that they have to begin all over again. The greatest truth taught by religion is the forgiveness of God. which erases the past and gives another chance. little by little. we make our character. In the same way. as the word means. good men can lift us up. but slowly. No one of us is
. and the Master's Piece of olden time becomes an emblem of that upon which every man is working all the time and everywhere. his personality. whether he is aware of it or not-his character. but the little reward of daily duties. attains truth. It is the fruit of fellowship. a symbol. a moral application and a spiritual suggestion. fact by fact. Character. The scholar. and what it will look like at the end. Such a fact makes a man ponder and consider what he is making out of his life. Genius may shine aloof and alone. like a star. In the Holy Book which lies open on our altar we read: "No man liveth unto himself. we see little or nothing. William James went so far as to say that just as the stubs remain in the check book. Like the Masons of old. act by act. by which we shall stand judged before the Master of all Good Work. to register the transaction when the check is removed. something wrought out of the raw stuff and hard material of life." We are tied together. If we are hateful. every aspiration has to do with it. All we do. If evil men can drag us down. If we are selfish. the man of science. is something carved. All of us have spoiled enough material. by which he will be tested and tried at last. a great Mason. day by day. so every mental act. and none may learn alone. every deed becomes a part of our being and character. we work for "a penny a day. seeking that truth which none may learn for another. dulled enough tools and made enough mistakes to teach us that life without charity is cruel and bitter. it is ugly. but character is created in society. an allegory. no man dieth unto himself. said that talent may develop in solitude.in Masonry.
May we build King Solomon's Temple In the true Masonic Soul!"
CHAPTER VII THE RITE OF DESTITUTION. Here lies. beautiful Character. with strokes now tender. Or broken the golden bowl. Its simplicity and dignity. now terrible. sorrow. faithful. but the stone becomes a pillar. I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. is to be made better than ourselves. polishing. is a pure. For no man shall the night control! Or ever the silver cord be loosed. How hard the mallet strikes. And the word of a Master Mason May the house of our soul create! "While the day hath light let the light be used. the deepest meaning and value of Masonry. to be drawn into its spirit and quest. an arch. And the quarry is sunk at our gate. "Oh! the Cedars of Lebanon grow at our door. and to yield ourselves to its influence.
NOTHING in Freemasonry is more beautiful in form or more eloquent in meaning than the First Degree. it is a fellowship of men seeking goodness. with golden ore. For our summoning mandate wait. heroic. its blend of solemnity and surprise. Amid such influences each of us is making his Master's Piece. perhaps an altar emblem. It is the chisel of the Master cutting the rough stone. at once the best service to man and the fairest offering to God.strong enough not to need the companionship of good men and the consecration of great ideals. God is all the time refining. And the ships out of Ophir. That is the meaning of pain. " The masterpiece of life. perhaps. death. "Him that overcometh. as well as its
by the sly remarks of friends to expect some kind of horseplay. is an analogy of the birth. but how different it was in reality. perhaps. Nor is it removed until.beauty of moral truth. a ritual of religious faith and moral law. by the act of assuming the obligations and fellowships of the moral life. Surely no man can ever forget that hour when. by contrast. Instead of mere play-acting we discovered. of course. uniting us. henceforth. What we get out of Freemasonry. out of a merely physical into a human and moral order. by the same token. unseen tie is spun and woven in the heart. vaguely or clearly. an allegory of life and a parable of those truths which lie at the foundations of manhood. with its square surface and canopy of sky. to the service of our race in its moral effort to build a world of fraternal goodwill. The cable tow. What memories come back to us when we think of the time when we took our first step in Freemasonry. The whole meaning of initiation. 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. its dark North and its radiant East . The Lodge is the world as it was thought to be in the olden time. is our advent from the darkness of prenatal gloom into the light of moral truth and spiritual faith. the profound meaning of Freemasonry began slowly to unfold before his mind. its centre an Altar of obligation and prayer. by which we may be detained or removed should we be unworthy or unwilling to advance. its discovery of the purpose of life and the nature of the world in which it is to be lived. The initiation. Such is the system of moral philosophy set forth in symbols to which the initiate is introduced. awakening and growth of the soul. out of lonely isolation into a network of fellowships and relationships. or the riding of a goat. Nowhere may one hope to find a nobler appeal to the native nobilities of man. by an invisible bond. is like the cord which joins a child to its mother at birth. as of anything else depends upon our capacity. mark it as a little masterpiece. and our response to its appeal. and in this light each
. a new. We had been led.
If he is "duly and truly prepared" he finds himself unable to grant the request. wise. but that is only seeming. it is in the light of the larger meanings of Freemasonry that we must interpret the Rite of Destitution. Like every other incident of initiation. At first sight it may seem to some that the lesson is marred by the limitations and qualifications which follow. Freemasons are under all the obligations of humanity. if not the humiliation. In short. But we are under special obligations to our Brethren of the Craft. each incident. the most primary of which is to succor their fellow men in desperate plight.emblem. by a surprise as sudden as before. accepts the human situation. he realizes . the end of the world has come when man will not help man. both the moral and social order depend. enters a new environment. making his duty more real and vivid. and in a manner never to be forgotten. Then. in one swift and searching moment. should be interpreted. he is made to feel the bewilderment. For one impressive instant. At a certain point in his progress every man is asked for a token of a certain kind. to be laid up in the archives of the Lodge as a memorial of his initiation. Then. with a new body of motive and experience. in which many emotions mingle.what it means for a man to be actually destitute.perhaps for the first time in his life . far more than we have been wont to admit. it is deep and wonderful. As Mohammed long ago said. No man may hope to see it all at once. the lesson of the Golden Rule is taught .the duty of man to his fellow in dire need. if he be young. as in the last. Thus Freemasonry gives a man at a time when it is most needed. time-tried scheme of thought and moral principle by which to read the meaning of the world and his duty in it. or once for all. he assumes his real vocation in the world and vows to live by the highest standard of values. since the initiate is actually put into the place of the man who asks his aid.for. which besets one who is deprived of the physical necessities of life upon which. It is not left to the imagination. a noble. like all simple things. In the actuality of the symbolism a man in the first degree of Freemasonry.
. and it is open to question whether any man lives long enough to think it through .
worthy Masons. and whose distress the initiate is under vows to relieve. has the indorsement of the Apostle Paul in his exhortations to the early Christian community. selected from among many. that is. It is made up of picked men. to meet their obligations. If we are bidden to be on our guard against impostors. not only in the form of financial relief. but as the result of untoward circumstance. They are those who. their widows and orphans". Such are deserving of charity in its true Masonic sense. rich and poor alike. and united for unique ends. the learned and the unlearned.as much by the promptings of our hearts as by the vows we have taken. So. then.a very dark problem. let us do good unto all men. No. so far from being narrow and selfish. financially as well as mentally and morally. But a Lodge of Masons is different.
. Yet no set of men. which asks for both patience and wisdom. those who are destitute through no fault of their own. A church." and for Masons the home is the Lodge. but also in the form of companionship. who would use Masonry for their own ends. alike in purpose and function. In the Epistle to the Ephesians we read: "As we have therefore opportunity. in the solution of which Masons will have their share and do their part . where there is real need our duty is limited only by our ability to help. That is another problem. if it be worthy of the name. distressed. opens its doors to all kinds and conditions of folk. are exempt from the vicissitudes and tragedies of life. are a definite and specific class. Such a principle. sympathy and love. and to do his part in its work of relief. the destitute to which this Rite refers. too. able to pay its fees and dues. They are not to be confused with those who are poverty stricken by reason of criminal tendencies or inherent laziness. without injury to those nearest to us. especially unto them who are of the household of faith. No man ought to be allowed to enter the Order unless he is equal to its demands. however intelligent and strong. as his ability may permit. disease or disaster. have become unable. through accident. however willing and eager." It is only another way of saying that "charity begins at home. the needy which this Rite requires that we aid are "all poor.
. but let me give you my hand. Life may any day turn Ruffian and strike one of us such a blow. may overtake any one of us." was the reply. Towards the end of his life he met with such reverses that he became Tyler of Old King's Arms Lodge. shunted out of active life when most needed and most able and willing to serve. distant almsgiving. stripped not only of his savings but of his power to earn. also. using its privacy to shield itself and those whom it aids. as the result of some blow no mortal wit could avert. especially in large Lodges. disaster following fast and following faster. and it knows how to hide its labors under the cover of secrecy. There was more real charity in that scene than in many a munificent donation made from a sense of duty or pride. 28. give me your hand. and it is recorded that he was assisted "out of the box of this Society. "Yes. Disasters of the most appalling kind befall men every day. How often have we seen a noble and able man suddenly smitten down in mid life. and let our charity fall to the level of a cold. to lose the personal touch. Yet we are very apt. It is rich in benevolence. and we have a right to be proud that our Craft does not fail in the doing of good. No. leaving them broken and helpless. for that. or in the crowded solitude of great cities. I have no money to give you. There he lies. It is to such experiences that the Rite of Destitution has reference. and the two forlorn men clasped hands in a common need and pathos. is a gift more needed than all others. or something worse." said the first. without warning or resource. Anthony Sayer. for example." Such a misfortune. 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. pledging us to aid as individuals and as Lodges. the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England.Take. When this is so charity becomes a mere perfunctory obligation. until we are at its mercy.
and have not charity. and the dreary. except to say "and although I bestow all my goods to feed the poor.
. To fulfill the obligations of this Rite we must give not simply our money. much less the sum of our duty. and there are many things it cannot do. and it is our duty to share our faith and courage with him. but a man may have all the money he needs. in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians. the law and the prophets contain no word of better rule for the health of the soul than the adjuration: Hope thou a little. or guided him into a wiser way. In his sublime hymn in praise of charity. it profiteth me nothing. fear not at all. St. Many a young man fails. For the rest. or makes a bad mistake. of courage. as Lowell taught in "The Vision of Sir Launfal. There are times when a hand laid upon the shoulder. did more good to humanity than all of us put together . "in a friendly sort of way. "The Holy Supper is kept indeed. but it is not everything." Surely it was a good and wise wish. for lack of a brotherly hand which might have held him up. The Rite of Destitution! Yes. and yet be destitute of faith." Which implies that a man may give all the money he possesses and yet fail of that Divine grace of Charity." is worth more than all the money on earth.and who still haunts us like the dream of a Man we want to be. the sickness of the heart. There are hungers which gold cannot satisfy. 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. dull pain of waiting for those who return no more. because the things which money cannot cure are the ills of the spirit. Paul does not mention money at all.Indeed. we have so long linked charity with the giving of money that the word has well nigh lost its real meaning. Money has its place and value. and love as much as you can. " writing in the name of a Great Brother who. if we think of it. though he had neither home nor money. and blinding bereavements from which it offers no shelter. of hope. but ourselves. indeed.
man a traveller . as far back as we can go. Sometimes.like the Inn of Year's End. Not that which we give. He could then take his kit of tools and journey wherever his work called him. THE INN OF YEAR'S END. What is symbolism with us was the actual life of Masons in days of old. and so the poets of all peoples have read the meaning of life. and to forget that truth is to lose half its beauty.life a journey. from land to land. The idea of life as a journey runs all through the symbolism of Freemasonry. as Hope describes in his Essay on Architecture. and rest and reflect . For the gift without the giver is bare. we too are pilgrims . at which we arrive this month. but there are inns along the way. Like our Brethren in the olden time. Initiation itself is a journey from the West to the East in quest of that which was lost. a Freemason . The reason why a man becomes a Master Mason is that he may travel in foreign countries. or in company with his fellows. his hungering neighbour. a whole Lodge travelled together. he was made a Master and Fellow. in which we may take lodging for the night.and each of the Seven Ages is neighbour to the rest. in which there is goodly
. An Apprentice presented his masterpiece. a band of pilgrim builders. but what we share. and if it was approved. kept by Father Time.free. alone. stopping at inns betimes to rest and refresh himself. Who bestows himself with his alms feeds three: Himself.
OUR Ancient Brethren were Pilgrims as well as Builders.In what so we share with another's need. and so are we. that is. who was not allowed to work beyond the limits of his city. and Me!"
CHAPTER VIII. It is a long road we journey together. work and receive the wages of a Master. as distinguished from a Guild Mason. Thus he journeyed from Lodge to Lodge.
" He agrees with a greater and braver poet who said : "Away with funeral music .company.set The pipe to powerful lips The cup of life's for him that drinks. Strangely enough. of the road. In the friendly air of the Inn of Year's End. because they do not try to build houses of granite when they only have time to pitch a tent. If we forget that life is a Pilgrim's Progress. when we settle down to be citizens of this world. there is no end of complaint at the aches and ills. who get the most out of life. we have no clue at all to an understanding of it. "a little holding lent to do a mighty labor. and much well-wishing for the way that lies ahead. By the same token."
. knows that life is not a jest. All kinds of faiths and philosophies mingle. and there is no agreement as to the meaning or goal of the journey." But a Mason. or turn in at an inn. but a great gift. Some think life a great adventure. 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. and all things show it: I thought so once. It is the strangers in the world. then the people and the scenes about us reveal their meaning and charm. And not for him that sips. Many agree with the epitaph of the poet Gay in Westminster Abbey:"Life is a jest. Yes. there is much congratulation upon so much of the journey safely done. the world itself becomes a riddle and a puzzle. if he has learned the secret of his Craft. Also. Once we are aware of ourselves as pilgrims on a journey. and now I know it. the upsets and downfalls. the manifest travellers to a Better Country. the winding road is a symbol of the life of man true to fact. where we make merry for to-night. others hold it to be a nuisance. and much talk of the meaning of the journey and the incidents of the road.
Others carry old hates. which wear down their strength for nothing. Men stagger along the road with acres of land on their backs. to which let us add Courage. weighing itself down with useless rubbish which ought to be thrown aside. "There abideth Faith. When a man starts on a journey he does not take everything with him. Hate is the worst folly. After all. we know them to be.At the end of an old year and the beginning of a new.what more do we need? In a world where the way is often dim.some marching. and Love. which is the root of every virtue and the only security .quaint. because they believe in us
. made up of all kinds of folk . sorrowful. How much does a man really need for his journey? If the wisdom of the ages is to be believed. hindering the advance of humanity. and the weather stormy. and from the lap of earth to look up into the face of God ? Neither wealth nor fame can add anything worth while. fantastic. but only such things as he really needs. to commune with our fellows. old envies and disappointments. ignoble. with the wonderful world in which we live. At the end of the year it is wise to unpack our bundle and sort out the things we do not need . It is so in our own lives." Brotherly Love. but leave to love. joyous. It asks for insight. what do we ask of life. and angels who walk with us in disguise angels. with ourselves. we can see that it simplifies life to know that we are pilgrims in a pilgrim world. but they are very great. we have time only to love and do good. It is largely a matter of discrimination and transportation.throwing the useless litter out the window or into the fire. Relief. Much worthless luggage is carted over the hills and valleys of history. and a sense of values. judgment. the road rough. heroic. To know what to take and what to leave is one of the finest arts. here or hereafter. to serve. There are Greathearts who patrol the road. and the greatest of these is Love. these three. ridiculous and pathetic . old grudges. The human procession is endlessly interesting. the things we actually need are few. some straggling through the world. and houses and bags of money. and Truth. One reason why the race moves so slowly is that it tries to take too much with it. Hope.
It keeps me a-hustlin' to look after myself. He only has lived who. but I hold a feller has a right to live the way he wants to as long as he lets other folks alone. Memphis maybe. the loafer. has made it easier for others to see the truth and do the right. When we know we are journeymen Masons. He did not know his name. we can the better interpret the ills that overtake us. I suppose I'm what you call a bum. coming to the All-Men's Inn called death. we must do all the good
. replied :"Yep. They say kids come from heaven. I might have settled down and got married and raised a lot of kids I couldn't atook care of. Finding his duty by the roadside. I've been hitting the road fer quite a spell. living without aim or obligation . nigh forty years. so long. but I ain't as bad as some of 'em. None the less. same as a lot of fellers. are near at hand." There is the shirk. headed south this trip. too. he did it. The Good Samaritan had never met the man whom he befriended on the road to Jericho. when asked if he was a traveller. partner. our griefs are but incidents of the road. But I didn't.trying to slip through and get by. and if a man walks faithfully he will come to the house of God. and thus make us do our best. Well. if I don't lay off sooner. and paid for his keep. Anyway. leaving the world poorer than be found it. Such is the chivalry of the road. Since we pass this way but once. He may have had difficulty in understanding his language. I've had a heap of fun. And there are skulkers who shirk every danger and wander to no purpose. he took him to the next inn. and handin' out a bit now and then to some poor devil down on his luck. But there are spiritual loafers and moral tramps almost as bad. Any man is a loafer who takes more out of life than be puts into it. idle and adrift. though they do not flip trains or ask for a "hand-out" at the back door. Oh yes.when we do not believe in ourselves. Our duties. and went on his way. so I jest thought I'd leave mine stay there. Our misfortunes. partner. One must put up with much on a journey which would be intolerable at home. like the tramp in a western village who. seeking a Lodge.
They were noble and true. as one by one those who journey with us fall asleep. the soul too is a pilgrim. and the old road has been lonely since they went away. There come thoughts of those who walked with us in other days. A door opens. Many a wrong and its crowning song. it betakes itself on an unknown journey. It is strange.we can. in all ways we can. and must pass on. like all Brothers and Fellows before us. set free. to where the old road dips down into the Valley of Shadows. Many a road and many an Inn. to all the people we can. Many ways and many days. and the pilgrim spirit. and the way He knoweth. But if we walk "the Road of the Loving Heart. But He who made us Brothers and Pilgrims here will lead us there."
. Walking for a brief time in this vesture of clay. I go mine. Such thoughts visit us." and make friends with the Great Companion. as come we must. but to Him who hath set Eternity in our hearts. thou goest thine. makes the great adventure where no path is. Their friendship was sweet. we shall not lose our way. but only one home For all the world to win. Many ways we wend. such faiths and hopes cheer us. Toward the end life is like a street of graves. Ending in one end. Far to roam. thinking of the meaning of the way. gathered in the Inn of Year's End. nor be left alone when we come at last. and have vanished. No blind and aimless way our spirit goeth.