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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

without which character loses its symmetry. and the nobler elements in him are struggling to rise above and control his lower. As an Apprentice a man is. self-reverence. Here. impulses. everyday duty of circumscribing his passions. and fearless. free. in quest of a better life and a clearer vision. If we examine with care the relative positions of the Square and Compasses as he advanced through the Degrees." In short. and still more by Divine help the divine in him has subjugated the earthly.door of the Lodge. but never better than in the three great words: self-knowledge. Let us now study the Compasses apart from the Square. and life may easily end in chaos and confusion. and he stands forth strong. so the Compasses teach us the obligation which we owe to ourselves. we learn a parable and a prophecy of what the Compasses mean in the life of a Mason. by the discipline of tragedy. we learn what the old philosopher of China meant when be urged Officers of the Government to "apply the Compasses. his divine life covered and ruled by his earthly 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 a Fellowcraft he has made one step toward liberty and light. in a crude. In the sublime Degree of a Master Mason . "better is he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. As Most Excellent King Solomon said long ago. It has been put in many ways. intimations reached him in the night of Nature. and the Square instructs us in our duties to our Brother and neighbour. it is the old triad. and he set forth and finding a friendly hand to help knocked at the door of the House of Light. Vague gleams. imperative. lesser nature. and keeping his desires within due bounds.far more sublime than we yet realize ." since only men who have mastered themselves can really lead or rule others. As the light of the Holy Bible reveals our relation and duty to God. self- . symbolically. ready to raise stone upon stone until naught is wanting.by human love. and try to discover what they have to teach us. natural state. too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful