BROTHERS and BUILDERS: The Basis and Spirit of Freemasonry

BY: JOSEPH FORT NEWTON (Litt.D.)

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

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

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

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

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

as if caught up into the rhythm of "one vast life that moves and cannot die. " Here is no abstract and unreal platitude. as well as to face the vaster problems and mysteries which lie on all the horizons of our life. wisdom. Even the strongest of us need such resource the better to confront the issues of the day. apart from us. and its prophecy of a Temple of Brotherhood. if we have integrity and courage. unveiling its plan of life. that the great things. indeed.small and passing things. the tragedies . its purpose. rather. 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. 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. Such is the foundation of Freemasonry. a fact. initiation our birth into a world in which we are to learn morality and charity. strength and beauty. and which we need to invoke if we are to face the difficulties and embarrassments .aye.of these our days and years. A great Freemason of Scotland. left us a legacy of inspiration and instruction in a book which is at once a . The truth is. a source to which we may apply a daily test. III. 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.not. 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. moves and goes forth to his labour. and brothers one of another. if counted worthy passing out of youth into manhood with its wider knowledge and heavier responsibilities. but a truth. and finally. and the faith by which it makes us builders upon the Will of God and by His help. are accomplished . the enduring things. who recently climbed ahead to work up in the dome of the Temple.

as a rule. how far we are. apply every resource that civilization and progress can give us. We seem to be groping in the dark. we shall some day have our reward. but there is hardly a page that does not yield some insight to illumine. and still more in its spirit in which spiritual vision and practical wisdom are blended. Lodge Progress. The book is wise rather than clever. Brethren ? Yet. some epigram to haunt the mind. beautiful rather than brilliant. not decorative. in the build of its thought even more than in the turn of its sentences. strengthen and beautify it. To build. Glasgow. S.the highest and grandest ideal of Masonry. a light to lead his Brethren toward the truth after he has vanished from among us. Even now it is a classic of our literature. as witness this one on the Great Landmark:"Why is Masonry here. Like the ingenious craftsman at the building of the Temple at Jerusalem. along the lines of peace and love. on its Trestleboard is the Plan of the Great Architect and its mission is to work out that plan. we must bring in the aid of all the arts and sciences. "'What nobler work can we be engaged in. Out of the rough hard quarries of a quarrelling humanity it has to build a Temple of Brotherhood and Peace. amid war and incessant conflict. while. and will gratefully exclaim: Thank God. MacBride. there. in this world of selfishness and strife? Wherefore has it been developed. it is ignorance more than unwillingness that hinders the work. I have marked well." ." by A. Yet. 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. we appear to be without plan and instruction. in reality. The beauty of the book is inwrought. our plan and instruction lie in the work itself. Then. from understanding it. like him. This Temple is the Great Landmark .mentor and a memorial: "Speculative Masonry. and exercise all the powers and gifts with which we have been endowed. There are passages of singular nobility.

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

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

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

and disputes growing out of them. apart from God the Father. that is. Faith in God is the corner-stone and the key-stone of Freemasonry. is the meaning of the Masonic Altar and its position in the Lodge. in the moral law. a Magna Charta of friendship and fraternity. whereby Masonry becomes the Centre of Union. the position of the Altar in the Lodge is a symbol of what Masonry believes the Altar should be in actual life.not freedom from faith. a centre of union and fellowship. whatever it was. he will never be a stupid Atheist. it has not to do. not to divide them. and there it stops. At the same time. by his Tenure. But though in ancient Times Masons were charged in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation. In short. 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. an Altar of Faith . For. As we may read in the Constitutions of 1723 :"A Mason is obliged. the truth that makes all other truths true. . first of all. Masonry goes hand in hand with religion until religion enters the field of sectarian feud. and in the life everlasting. but it does seek fraternity of spirit. by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguished. It does not seek uniformity of opinion.the deep. It is. to be good Men and true. without which life is a riddle and fraternity a futility. leaving their particular Opinions to themselves. because Masonry seeks to unite men. leaving each one free to fashion his own philosophy of ultimate truth. and not a cause of division. nor an irreligious Libertine. yet 'tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree. faith in God. the Altar of Masonry is an Altar of Freedom . to obey the moral Law. eternal faith which underlies all creeds and overarches all sects. or Men of Honour and Honesty. as is now so often the case. but freedom of faith. and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remained at a perpetual Distance. then. It is the first truth and the last. " Surely those are memorable words. Here. and if he rightly understands the Art.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

as they now exist. The Third seeks to initiate us.that purification of heart which is the basis alike of life and religion. in which we learn how an Apprentice was made a Master of his Craft? It is that indeed. but a medley of warring passions . when the evening shadows fall and the Eternal World and its unknown adventure draw near." and those hints increase as the office of Master of the Work lost its practical aspect after the cathedral-building period. unless it harmonized with some previous ceremony. That such ideas and traditions did exist in the Craft we have ample evidence. The Second lays stress upon the culture of the mind. for each of us to-day. The first lays emphasis upon that fundamental righteousness without which a man is not a man.This is not the time to discuss the origin and development of the Third Degree. then. without which man remains a child. 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. but it could never have been imposed upon the Craft. What. Long before 1717 we hear hints of "The Master's Part. in 1717. are clearly wrong. symbolically. Masonry was not invented. What was the Master's Part? Unfortunately we cannot discuss it in print. Unless we have eyes to see a double meaning everywhere . the Third the consolation and conquest of Old Age. is meant by the Master's Piece? Is it simply a quaint custom handed down from our ancient Brethren. with ideas. and no man can take them to heart and not be ennobled and enriched by their dignity and beauty. were developed. it grew. The First is the Degree of Youth. traditions and legends familiar and common to the members of the Craft. To-day it unfolds its wise and good and beautiful truth in three noble and impressive degrees. into the eternal life. making us victors over death before it arrives. 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. at least. the Second the Degree of Manhood. the training of its faculties in the quest of knowledge. Such a degree could have been invented by anyone familiar with the ancient Mystery Religions. or. but much more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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