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A Freemason's Instructions, 1754

The Master Mason - March 1925

THE FOLLOWING is extracted from the RyIands' MS. 'low in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, which came into the possession of that institution on the passing of Bro. W. H. Rylands, one of the founders of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076, English Constitution. In a note Bro. RyIands says that it was taken "from a copy in the possession of Bro. the Rev. A. F. A. Woodford, and certified as a correct copy of the original by Bro. W.J. Hughan." the date of the entry in Bro. Rylands' MS. being 6th March, 1873. 

IN THE FIRST part, which he calls "the Minor's Degree," the Master of the Lodge inquires of the person to be initiated when Freemasonry began. 

"At the building of the Tower of Babel." 

He then asks several other questions which he answers as before instructed. 

He is next ordered to be stripped naked in order that they may be well assured he is not a woman. After this he is clothed with a loose white garment, generally made of Holland, which they call the badge of innocence, and placed in the center of the brethren. He is ordered to kneel down on both his knees. 

The Master of the Lodge holds the point of the sword to his throat, whilst the following oath is administered unto him: 

You shall not reveal to any person or persons, either by word of mouth or your handling-writing or cause to be revealed in any manner whatever any part or parts, point or points, or any treatises which have been, are now, or shall hereafter be held as a secret among Freemasons, unless to an honest man, whom you know is a Mason, or to the Master or Wardens of any regular Lodge. And it was always esteemed by the Masons of old, to swear by the sword was the most binding of all obligations, so we do insist and require you solemnly to kiss the edge of this sword presented to your throat as a sign of your full consent and approbation to the above particulars. 

When he has taken the oath all the Brethren assist in putting on his cloths. The Master presents him with a white leather apron and tells him that he has become a fellow and brother to kings and princes. Several other questions are put to him which if he cannot answer he must give to every member of the Lodge a pair of gloves and in return he is entitled to a ring (called a signet) as a warrant of his admission. 

THE MINOR'S duty is to guard the Lodge with a drawn sword and when they find him to be sober, silent, and discreet he is admitted into the major's degree. To pass this examination he has to answer several questions as to the diameter of the Tower of Babel, the height, breadth, the number of men that were employed, how many years in building, and their reasons why this tower was built, etc. He is again enjoined to secrecy, to be cautious in his words and carriage, to have his breast fortified against all attempts that may be made by the artful and designing. The Master next instructs him in the nature of signs, tokens, and words. The first sign is given by pointing the forefinger of the right hand to his mouth, which is a symbol of silence. The second is by drawing his hand across his mouth, which is much like the former and likewise signifies silence or secrecy. The first token is given by shaking hands and at the same time pressing the forefinger hard in the palm of the other hand. The second token is likewise given by shaking hands and at the same time placing the forefinger on one side the other's wrist and the middle finger on the other. The first word is "Eureka," which signifies truth and fidelity; the second is "Philadelphia," or brotherly love. He is asked; of what use are these signs, tokens, and words; he answers to make themselves known to each other wheresoever dispersed. 

The third is the officer's part or ceremony of installment: Belus, the Master, wears a compass pendent on a white ribbon round his neck: Sabus, the superintendent, wears a square; Silus and Sabathes, the two wardens, wear a level and plumb rule; and Sabactas and Ramas, a twenty-four inch rule in each other's hands. 

The third and last part concludes as follows: 

"Have you the officer's secret word?" 

"How did you reveal it?"' 
On my knee he ordered me to kneel,  
Before he could the sacred word reveal:  
A word to all but officers unknown,  
Because we give it when we are alone.  
The word is Belus, be it known to thee,  
'Twas that great man gave birth to Masonry.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014