by Kent Henderson and Tony Pahl

Kent Henderson, PGSwdB, is current (1996) Secretary of both Lodge Epicurean No. 906 and Lodge Amalthea No. 914.  A trained educator, he is a Past Master of The Victorian Lodge of Research No. 218 and co-editor of its annual Transactions.  He is a graduate of the Grand Lodge of South Australia's Masonic Education Course, and the author of many papers and books on freemasonry including Masonic World Guide (Lewis Masonic, London, 1984) and The Masonic Grand Masters of Australia (Drakeford, Melbourne, 1989). He is a member of most other Masonic Degrees and Orders, and a past master in many.

Tony Pahl, a Vietnam Veteran who served in the Royal Australian Air Force for 20 years, is a foundation petitioner and Immediate Past Master of Lodge Epicurean No. 906. He is a Chairman of the Lodge's Education Committee and a key member of its Promotions & Ceremonial Committee and possesses a wide knowledge of freemasonry, particularly its ritual and ceremonial aspects.








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After a considerable time in planning, the Masonic Education Course for "European Concept" lodges was introduced in 1996. The course is simple in concept and application, yet comprehensive. Its aim is to provide new brethren with a broad, yet thorough knowledge of the Craft.

The Course is divided into three sections, for the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason. Each Section has four parts.

For each section, candidates are presented with the course material. They are asked to read the reference material provided and answer the comprehension questions applicable to each.

The lodge holds various seminars for candidates in combination with lodge rehearsals and selected meetings. Candidates bring their completed assignments, and these are discussed and "corrected" thereat. Where a candidate cannot make a particular Seminar, these are passed to his lodge mentor/tutor, or to an appointed member of the Lodge Education Committee.

Each candidate is additionally required to learn the answers to the "verbal" questions set for each degree.
The rules for promotion are as follows:

(1) No candidate can receive more than one degree in a calendar year, except in exceptional circumstances through the agreement of the Master and the Lodge Education Committee.

(2) No candidate can be approved for promotion to the next degree until having:

(a) satisfactory completed the relevant components of the Education Course, and

(b) proven his competency in the answers to the relevant "verbal" questions to the satisfaction of the Lodge Education Committee, or a delegated member(s).

(3) A newly-raised Master Mason cannot receive his Grand Lodge Certificate, nor be invested in any lodge office other than Steward, until he has satisfactorily completed Section Three of the Course.

IMPORTANT NOTE: There is NO reason why this Masonic Education Course cannot be applied in any lodge not structured on the "European Concept".  "European Concept" Lodges do not claim any copyright for the course, and any craft lodge is most welcome to implement and use it.

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A peculiar System of Morality

Freemasonry is so frequently quoted as 'a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols' but, let us now examine that statement with a view to finding out just what is meant by the phrase and how it arose.

'A peculiar system of morality' - well - word values tend to change over the years and the word 'peculiar' in this sense means particular or special; the morality in question has its roots in a philosophy and a code inspired by the bible as a whole.

In mediaeval times skilled craftsmen in various trades banded together to protect their crafts and permitted only those who had been trained, taught, proved, and trusted to pursue their skills. It was a means to outlaw pirates from producing inferior work and thus betray the trust of the architect, the master, or the commissioner of the work. From such early control development escalated in the 14th to the 17th centuries and there is ample evidence in both England and Scotland that such a trade control included instruction in matters beyond their crafts and skills; traces of that form of instruction can be found in modern times. As an illustration let us take the little booklet supplied on admission to the Freedom of the City of London which is entitled Good Advice to Apprentices; or The Covenants of the City Indenture (familiarly Explained and Enforced By Scripture.) from a copy dated 1863 the first two items, from eleven are 'familiarly Explained', are here quoted:

'During which term the said Apprentice his Master faithfully shall serve' - that is he shall be true and just to his Master in all his dealings, both in word and deed; he must not only keep his hands from picking and stealing, and his tongue from lying and slandering; he must also abstain from doing him any manner of injury, by idleness, negligence, or carelessness; by deceiving, or defaming, or any kind of evil speaking; but he must learn and labour to do him a true and real service.

Several biblical quotations are listed in support of those injunctions including:

Ye must be faithful in all things. (Timothy iii, 11)
In all your labours let no iniquity be found. (Hosea xii, 8)

and in addition to those there are quotations from Leviticus xix,11; Ephesians iv,25; Deuteronomy xxv,16; and Proverbs xii,19. The next example is:

'His secrets keep' - that is he shall conceal the particular secrets of his art, trade, or science, without divulging or making any one privy to them to the detriment of his Master, whose interest may very much depend on a peculiar management and knowledge of his business. To behave thus is to serve faithfully; and fidelity is the glory and perfection of a servant, as his want of it is his greatest discredit and reproach.

Only one biblical extract is given in support of that:

Discover not a secret to another, lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine infamy turn not away. (Proverbs xxv, 9, 10 )

That booklet perpetuates injunctions similar to those written into the Old Charges dating from the 14th century. It was from those manuscripts the Revd. James Anderson compiled the first book of Constitutions of the Freemasons in 1723. It was officially sanctioned by the premier Grand Lodge founded in London in 1717, and became the means by which Speculative Freemasonry was to be governed.

Under the sub-heading 'City Freedom' in the Good Advice booklet the following appears: Apprentices who have faithfully served their Masters can obtain the Freedom of the City, which confers many advantages, for the sum of 5s only.

And that is followed by a Note which states:

Masters should enrol their apprentices at the Chamberlain's Office within twelve months from the date of their Indentures, it being for their mutual advantage. ... Persons who give false testimony, forfeit their freedom. All who come to the Chamberlain's Office to enrol, turn over, or make free their Apprentices, must bring the copies of their own freedom with them.

The Entered Apprentice was thus guided, encouraged, taught the skills of the craft, and if he faithfully served his Master for the period of indenture, at least seven busy years, he obtained the Freedom of the City of London and by becoming a Fellow of his craft was then on his way to becoming a Master if that was his ambition. But, according to a reference quoted by Douglas Knoop in The Mason Word, his Prestonian Lecture for 1938: 'Actually fewer than 50 per cent of the apprentices bound in London took up their freedom.'

The earliest record among the surviving Old Charges is the oft-quoted Regius Poem, or Halliwell MS dated c. 1396. It is headed in Latin - 'Here begin the constitutions of the art of Geometry according to Euclid', and among the fifteen Points and the fifteen Articles, is the following, but quoted in modern English: The third Point must be severely with the 'prentice know it well,

His master's counsel he keep and close,
and his fellows by his good purpose;
The privities of the chamber tell he to no man,
nor in the lodge whatsoever they do;
Whatsoever thou hearest or seest them do,
tell it to no man wheresoever you go;
The counsel of the hall, and even of the bower,
keep it well to thy great honour,
Lest it would turn thyself to blame,
and bring the craft into great shame.

(From a modern transcript by Roderick H Baxter, Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge in 1922.
British Masonic Miscellany Vol 1)

It is worthy of notice here that the Regius Poem ends with the expression 'So mote it be' and that archaic expression is still used in Freemasonry. There is no question that Freemasonry was and still is ' a peculiar system of morality' that has stood the test of time. The essence of the principles then taught are still to be found in the modern Charge after Initiation, the first printing of which was by W. Smith in The Pocket Companion published in 1735 and has remained unchanged in the basic wording.

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Veiled in Allegory

Let us turn to the expression 'veiled in allegory', and in that connection, note that the bible is full of accounts of incidents and stories that cannot possibly stand up to modern analysis and in consequence has provided much that has to be taken as allegory. Indeed the most effective teaching designed to capture full interest was given in parable form using an example that was common knowledge. Perhaps the clearest illustration of this is given in the Gospel According to St. Mark (chap. iv, 2-9) in the story of the sower who went forth to sow.

...and as he sowed, some fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth: and immediately it sprang up, because it had not depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. (but) others fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some hundred(fold).

Communicating in that manner, in whatever subject but based upon elements already known and understood by an audience, has its greatest value in that it can be esoteric and therefore selective, separating those who are 'properly prepared' to appreciate an inner meaning of an otherwise plebian story, but of interest to everyone. The story just quoted ends with the comment: 'And he said unto them, He that hath no ears to hear, let him hear', or in other words - he who understands, will understand!

Stories from the bible have long been the subject of Mummers Plays, Miracle Plays, Morality and Passion Plays. They portrayed incidents that people learned as children and that stayed with them all their lives which were, in those days, centred almost entirely upon church or cathedral. Dressing up and acting in a fantasy world was not only an t retained some control over the text which paraphrased the sacred writings.

Conder also gave lists of various towns and cities to shew the proliferation and here is a random choice as an example of that:

48 plays listed at York in the year 1430
25 at Chester from 1268 to 1577
42 at Coventry in 1468
30 at Wakefield in 1425
27 at Newcastle from 1285 to 1675.

The period that he took ranged from the 12th to the 17th centuries and in that time similar evidence was forthcoming from other places in England, from north to the south and from east to west. Various parts of London where plays are known to have been presented are also mentioned but, regretfully, no texts have survived in that connection.

The only subject related to building is the one entitled 'Building of the Ark and the Flood' at Wakefield but no entry as to who performed it; at Newcastle it was appropriated by the Shipwrights under the t
itle 'Noah's Flood'; in that city it is even possible that the Master Mariners may have had something on that theme. The carpenters had the 'Burial of Christ' and the Masons had 'The Corpus Christi' Plays; but nowhere did the masons have a play linked with their craft and quite often they joined with another craft for their project. Nowhere is the building of Solomon's Temple shewn to have been a subject among the extensive list so one might search in vain for traces of the Hiramic Legend; the Morality Plays may well have provided a pattern or a form for it when it did arise for adoption. The earliest record of it is given in the masonic exposure, Masonry Dissected, written and published by Samuel Prichard in 1730.

There is no mention of the building of King Solomon's temple in the earliest manuscript, the Regius Poem of c. 1396 and it received only scant mention in the Cooke MS of c. 1410. Whilst in that one the central character is not named he is identified there as'... the kings son, of Tyre, as his (Solomon's) master mason'. Into the next century, the Downland MS c. 1550, the reference is :

The king that men called Iram . . . had a son (named) Aynon, and he was Master of Geometrie, and was chief Master of all his Masons and was Master of all his gravings and carvings, and all manner of Masonrye that belonged to the Temple.

In that case not only is Hiram Abif deemed to be the son of the King of Tyre, a commonly held interpretation of the name, but we find one of a large variety of spellings invented or copied phonetically for the master craftsman. But there is absolutely nothing about the Hiramic legend which surely must be treated as the most prominent allegory that was still to come into Freemasonry.

In 1723 the Revd. James Anderson compiled and published the first book of Constitutions of the Freemasons in which he included a so-called history of the mason craft both operative and speculative which he gathered from the manuscript of Old Charges where legend, myth, and fairy tale often became confused with history. Whilst he gave much attention to the biblical account of the master craftsman being sent by Hiram King of Tyre to Solomon King of Israel, and to interpretation of the Hebrew construction of the words 'Hiram' and 'Abif' there was no mention of any drama involving his death which is, of course, legendary having absolutely no foundation in fact nor biblical history because it is pure fiction.

In Anderson's 2nd edition, published in 1738 eight years after Prichard's exposure, Masonry Dissected, the examination of the Hebrew construction is repeated but the subject taken a step further by the following footnote:

But tho' Hiram Abif had been a Tyrian by Blood, that derogates not from his vast capacity; for Tyrians now were the best artificers, by the encouragement of King Hiram: and those Texts testify that God had endued this Hiram Abif with Wisdom, Understanding, and mechanical Cunning to perform every Thing that Solomon required, not only in building the Temple with all its costly Magnificence, but also in founding, fashioning and framing all the holy Utensils thereof, according to Geometry, and to find out every Device that shall be put to him! And the Scripture assures us that He fully maintain'd his Character in far larger Works than those of Aholiab and Bezalleel, for which he will be honoured in the Lodges til the End of Time.

Anderson's last remark there - 'for which he will be honoured in the Lodges till the End of time' - is probably an indication of the use of the drama, after a style of the Miracle Plays, but in this case performed under tyled conditions as they are still performed in some Jurisdictions. Regarding the completion of the Temple, Anderson wrote:

It was finish'd in the short space of 7 Years and 6 Months, to the Amazement of the World when the Cape-stone was celebrated by the Fraternity with great Joy. But their Joy was soon interrupted by the Sudden Death of their dear Master Hiram Abbif, whom they decently interred in the Lodge near the Temple, according to ancient Usage. After Hiram Abbif was being mourn'd for, the Tabernacle of Moses and its Holy Reliques being lodged in the Temple, Solomon in a General Assembly dedicated or consecrated it.

In that account the 'sudden death' happened after the completion of the Temple and not during its construction. In accordance with the edict - '. . . . he shall build an house unto my name 'King Solomon dedicated the temple to the Holy Name, or in Hebrew terms Ha Shem. The Holy Name is allusive in that whilst both Enoch and Noah 'walked with God' (Gen v, 22: vi, 9) there is no mention in the bible of them being given the Name. Biblical records state that the Patriarch Abraham, Hagar the mother of Ishmael, and the Patriarch Isaac 'called upon the name of the LORD' which tends to credit them with knowing it (Gen. Xii, 8: xii, 4: xvi, 13: xxvi, 15) but it would appear that the name granted to them was of descriptive character only and that is borne out by the statemente of Moses - ' I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty (in Hebrew - El Shaddai), but my name JEHOVAH (in Hebrew-Jod He Vav He) was I not known to them' (Exod. Vi, 3). The name JEHOVAH is an Anglicized manufactured word to accommodate the Hebrew characters - the Tetragrammaton - Ha Shem - and as they are consonants, the vowels known only to the priesthood and with such limited use by them, the original pronunciation has been lost.

The possession of the name of a person meant a close affinity or relationship with that person, but possession of the Holy Name was the highest privilege and, by masonic fable, was known by the three Grand masters. In order to avoid its full pronunciation the word was shared between them by syllables and the 'sudden death' of one of them brought an

end to that practice; there was no question of the appointment of another to replace him and that gave rise to a substitute - or 'the Masonic Word'. The attempt to revive or 'raise' Hiram Abbif in order to recover from the dead, as it were, the secret that he had in life has been submerged in a welter of interpretations that include the fable of the Noah incident mentioned in some of the Old Charges, a subject not from biblical history, the raising of the widow's son by the action of Elijah (1 Kings xvii, 17-23) a similar raising of the son of the Shunammite woman by Elisha (2 Kings iv, 34-35) and the young man by St. Paul (Acts xx, 9-12). They are resurrection allegories, effected through divine influence, but nowadays compared with the 'kiss of life' action.

In a symbolical interpretation 'The Name' of 'the Mason Word' is ever lost whenever mankind turns away from his faith in the Almighty, in whatever form, or by whatever Name he is known. Biblical history records the conquering of Jerusalem, the destruction of Solomon's temple, the Exile of the Jews to Babylon, and the subsequent return to Jerusalem to re-build the City and a Second Temple. That sequence provided the 'Recovery' theme - the completion of the Master Mason's degree, and is a subject dealt with in the Royal Arch.

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Illustrated by Symbols

'Illustrated by symbols' is the final item for this examination and here we have to distinguish between a tangible object, or symbol, upon which has been bestowed a meaning or representation completely different from its form, eg, an anchor is just an anchor to the seafarer but symbolically it is widely taken to represent Hope; the other distinction from the tangible is the intangible and what better example of that is a handshake to represent friendship in greeting; the whole world seems to know that it is a symbolic means of recognition among Freemasons!

Symbols may be universal and can transcend all language, classic examples of which are road and traffic signs, but even such common signs or symbols may still be endowed by some organised groups of societies where meanings are given to such mundane objects but known only to themselves. Freemasonry abounds with such symbols through which abstract ideas may be presented; they provide the visual aid.

Not all that Albert G. Mackey wrote on Freemasonry is acceptable to modern masonic students, but that does not mean that all his work is dismissed. Here is what he had to say on Symbolism in his Encyclopedia, first published in 1873.

In Freemasonry, all the instruction in its mysteries are communicated in the form of symbols. Founded as a speculative science, on an operative art, it has taken the working- tools of the profession which it spiritulizes, the terms of architecture, the Temple of Solomon, and everything that is connected with its traditional history, and adopting them as symbols, it teaches its great moral philosophical lessons by this system of symbolism.

Mackey also wrote:

The older the religion, the more the symbolism abounds. Modern religions may display their dogmas in abstract propositions; ancient religions always conveyed them in symbols. Thus there is more symbolism in the Egyptian religion than the Jewish, more in the Jewish than the Christian, more in the Christian than the Mohammedan, and lastly more in the Roman (Catholic) than the Protestant . . . Any inquiry into the symbolic character of Freemasonry, must be preceded by an investigation of the nature of symbolism in general, if we would properly appreciate its particular use in the organisation of the Masonic Institution.

It is possible that some people might argue with that, but it does provide food for thought!

In reply to comments on their Paper - 'Masonic History Old and New' given to Quatuor Coronati Lodge on 2 October 1942, (AQC Vol. 55, pp.285-323). Douglas Knoop and G. P. Jones stated:

There is no evidence to suggest that masons themselves (i.e., operative stonemasons) moralized upon their tools. Though the Regius Poem is full of moral precepts, and the Cooke MS rather less so, in neither of these early manuscripts, nor in later versions of the MS Constitutions, those peculiarly masonic documents written about Masons for masons, is there any sort of symbolism based upon masons' tools. Had the masons made use of such symbolism in their teachings, one would have expected some reference to it in surviving documents.

Another useful statement of theirs was 'The Philosophy and symbolism of masonry are quite distinct from the history of masonry' and that is a point of differentiation that is constantly overlooked by some freemasons and masonic writers.

During the long period of transition from operative to speculative masonry in the 17th and 18th centuries the scientific, Philosophical, the studious, those who made up the intelligentsia many of whom indulged in studies of alchemy, mysticism, and Kabbalistic pursuits , providing what has been termed a fringe of the craft undoubtedly left their marks in its construction. The mystical writings of such people had a strong influence and would account for the adoption of certain symbolism, traces of which, however slim are there to be found.

Symbols can be classified as a form of pictorial shorthand, examples of which are to be seen in stained glass windows in churches, some of which are indeed visual sermons in themselves. Emblazonment in heraldry also provide examples where a symbol in that context can mean so much in regard to family name, a line of succession, marriage, property, county, and countless other meanings so cryptically displayed. Symbols therefore can mean all things to all men but an inner meaning can be made to apply in the context in which persons have been so informed.

Tangible forms of freemasonry are usually explained to the membership in ceremonial or lectures, and in the case of the Lectures which can be so informative insufficient use is made of them; there is a lack of stress placed on that area of explanation for much that is contained in the book of Working according to that used in a member's lodge.

The intangible symbols are much more difficult for brethren to appreciate for they can often be bent to suit whatever interpretation that may be preferred, and an inner meaning only applies in circumstances in which one has been so informed. It may be truly said that we are given all the ingredients but the mixing is left to ourselves. Let us take the expression 'The Mason Word' appropriately used by Douglas Knoop as the title for his Prestonian Lecture in 1938, he commented as follows:

The justification for stressing the importance of the Mason Word as a factor in the development of masonic ceremonies lies in the fact that it consisted of something substantially more than a mere Word. Thus, the Rev. Robert Kirk, Minister of Aberfoyle, writing in 1961, says the Mason Word 'is like Rabbinical Tradition, in a way of comment of Jachin and Boaz, the two Pillars erected at Solomon's Temple (1 Kings, 21) with an Addition of some secret Signe delyvered from Hand to Hand, by which they know and become familiar one with the other.'

The preamble to The Abstract of Laws for the Society of Royal Arch Masons (as it was called when issued in 1778) was more clear in the point as it included the following:

. . . We also use certain signs, tokens and words; but it must be observed, that when we use that expression and say THE WORD. It is not to be understood as a watch-word only, after the manner of those annexed to the several degrees of the Craft, but also theologically, as a term, thereby to convey to the mind some idea of that great BEING who is the sole author of our existence, and to carry along with the most solemn veneration for his sacred Name and Word, as well as the most clear and perfect elucidation of his power and attributes that the human mind is capable of receiving; . . .

The 'Mason Word' is the most intangible symbol of all intangible symbols used in Freemasonry. Without some acquaintance with the Law of Moses, otherwise called the Torah, or the Pentateuch, where we became acquainted with the gradual revelation of His holy will and Word and the development which ensued from that biblical period, one cannot begin to understand what has now become so obscured.

It was not the intention in this short review to take individual symbols as a study, nor to develop a treatise based solely upon symbolism, such an exercise would take several volumes and would raise a proliferation of discussion or argument, sound or otherwise; each would have an interpretation of a sort, some that are held to the exclusion of all else. However, it must be stressed that the bible, the Patron Saints of the Christian church, the observances of Holy Days, all provided the very foundation for this 'peculiar system of morality'. The system has gathered accretions from other religions, and various mystics from different backgrounds to the extent that its simple form has been swamped; it really has become 'veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols', some of which have failed to stay the course but nevertheless did leave a mark or trace e here and there to be re- discovered and perhaps enjoyed by the industrious student of Free and Accepted masonry in the future.

The state of contention between brethren regarding some matters that are dealt with in lectures or ceremonial was the subject of an appropriate comment by the author of Three Distinct Knocks, a masonic ritual exposure published in 1760. Here is what he inserted at the end of the part of the Fellow-Craft (p.45):

Some Masters of Lodges will argue upon the Reasons about the holy Vessels in the Temple and the Windows and Doors, the Length, Breadth and height of every Thing in the Temple, Saying, why was it so and so? One will give one Reason; and another will give another Reason, and thus they will continue for Two or Three Hours in this Part and the Master-Part; but this happens but very seldom, except an Irishman should come, who likes to here himself talk, asking, why were they round? Why were they square? Why were they hollow? Why were the Stones costly? Why were they hewn Stones and Sawn Stones, &c. some give one reason and some another; thus you see that every Man's Reason is not alike. Therefore, if I give you my Reason, it may not be like another; but any Man that reads the foregoing and following Work, and consults the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Chapters of the first Book of Kings, and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of the second Book of Chronicles may reason as well as the best of them; . . .

If ever there was a common-sense summing up of the situation that surely must be it; getting back to basics and building from there, staying within the proper context and treating interpretation for what it is, nevertheless searching among the symbols and allegories to find the intention of the compilers, will help anyone to get Freemasonry into perspective.

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In Part 1 of this subject it was stated that speculative freemasonry emerged as a biblical exercise and when, at the turn of the 18th century re-arrangement of ritual and procedure was undertaken, obvious Christian references were either deleted or conveniently screened. The objective was to create a uniformity that would be acceptable to brethren of other faiths. The first step was for the "Moderns" to make such changes in their practice that were at variance with the "Antients" and that was done through the Lodge of Promulgation from 1809 to 1811. Those efforts were crowned with success when the union (of the two rival Grand Lodges) was effected in December 1813. Then followed the Lodge of Reconciliation which officially lasted from 1813 to 1816 but in 1827 a similar body was revived to deal with the Ceremonial for the Installation of Master in private lodges.

If is not uncommon for some brethren to think and speak of freemasonry as if it were a specific unified entity, but that was not the case then and is not so now, other than in the highest principles that are encouraged by its practice. It is a development from numerous forms, and variations continue in many jurisdictions. From the varieties of ritual and procedures that were in existence, the eventual agreed form adopted in England was still beset with quirks and idiosyncrasies that local custom had no intention of releasing; but even those practices at times suffered from the hands of "improvers" which sometimes resulted in items becoming isolated from the original context creating illogical problems for brethren who were to follow. In order to analyse modern items and to find basic reasons for their adoption it is necessary to look into the background, to return to whatever evidence may be found in manuscript material or the later published masonic exposures.

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Just, Perfect and Regular

As an illustration of how easily something may change and its importance lost through carelessness, let us take the reply that is no uncommon when a Candidate is being questioned prior to being Passed to the Fellowcraft Degree:

Q. Where were you made a Mason?
A. In the body of a Lodge, just perfect and regular.

In that answer the essential comma between "just" and "perfect" is omitted and the masonic sense of the reply completely lost, not only for the Candidate but seemingly for his sponsors.

In the majority of early Catechisms, dating from the Edinburgh Register House MS in 1696, to the published ritual exposure Masonry Dissected in 1730, there is only slight variation in the description; it is either "a true and perfect lodge" or a "just and perfect lodge"; there is no mention of "regular". But by the time we get to William Preston's First lecture of Freemasonry published in 1775, but probably compiled earlier and rehearsed in his Grand Chapter of Harodim from 1772 onwards, we find those adjectives described in Section 1, Clause iii:

Where were you made a Mason?
In the body of a lodge, just, perfect, and regular.

What is a lodge of Masons?
Any number of Masons assembled for the purpose of explaining Masonry.

What makes a lodge just?
The Sacred Law unfolded. Because it is understood to contain the dictates of an unerring Being; it must therefore be considered the standard of truth and justice.

What makes it perfect?
The number seven (it then goes on to explain the liberal arts and sciences)...."three form a lodge, five hold a lodge, and seven of more make it perfect".

What makes a lodge regular?
The Charter, Warrant and Constitution.

It is worthy of mention here that Lodge Nos 2, 4, and 12 in the English Constitution do not have warrants, all being recorded as "Time Immemorial".

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Irregular Steps

With regard to the word "regular" - but this time applied to steps, the question is sometimes raised "Why does the Candidate have to take three awkward steps of different lengths when being guided from West to East on his first advance? But that was not always so. The earliest real evidence in that respect is to be found in an anonymous catechism published in A Mason's Confession, that has an attributed date of 1727, and states:

.....three chalk-lines being drawn on the floor, about an equal distance, as at A, B, C,....says the Master, "Come forward" coming over the first line with one foot, while he sets the other square off at A;...Coming over the second line with one foot, while he sets the other square off at B;....Coming over the third line with one foot, while he sets the other square off at C; he comes over the three lines setting his feet thrice in the form of a square.

The diagram in that book shows the steps were equal in length.

In later publications floor-drawings had much more detail and showed that the first step was designed for the Entered Apprentice Candidate where he knelt on the appropriate knee and took his Obligation. The second was for the Fellowcraft ceremony and the third step for the Master Mason, with instructions regarding kneeling and Obligations.

Three District Knocks, published in 1760 describes what is understood to have been Antients ceremonial. After having been presented to the Junior and Senior Wardens and the Master, the Candidate is sent back to the West "to receive instructions" which are described as follows:

Q. What were the instructions that were given?

A. The Senior Warden taught me to take one Step upon the first Step of a right Angle oblong Square, with my left knee bare bent, my Body upright, my right Foot forming a Square, my naked Right hand upon the Holy Bible, with the Square and Compasses thereon, my Left hand supporting the same; where I took that solemn Obligation or Oath of a Mason.

In Pritchard's Masonry Dissected, published in 1730, we have:

Q. What did the Senior Warden do with you?

A. He presented me, and shew'd me how to walk (by three steps) to the Master.

That appeared before the Antients Grand Lodge was formed. We have no evidence that the three steps were irregular of different length, but the whole subject rests upon the word "regular" which is highlighted when the Candidate is conducted to the right of the Master after taking his Obligation. It is there he is shown how to take his "first regular step in freemasonry". Under close supervision from the Junior Deacon on his approach from the West to East he was prevented from inadvertently taking the regular step which is the one he will use for the rest of his masonic career.

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The Three Great Lights

When the three great though emblematical lights if freemasonry, have been explained to the Candidate his attention is then drawn to the three lesser lights situated in the East, South and West. That distinction in lights was no always so and it is of interest to read what was published in the Dialogue between Simon, a Town Mason, & Philip, a Travelling Mason; although having an attributed date of c. 1740 it may well have been derived from an earlier source. At that juncture it has this catechism:

Q. What did you see before you were made a Mason?
A. Nothing I understood.

Q. What did you see afterwards?
A. Three grand Lights.

Q. What do you call them?
A. The Sun, the Moon, and the Master.

Q. How do they Rule and Govern?
A. The Sun the Day, the Moon the Night, the Master the Lodge.

Q. Where stood the Master?
A. In the East.

Q. Why in the East?
A. To await the rising of the Sun to set the Men to their Work.

Q. Where stood the Wardens?
A. In the West?

Q. Why in the West?
A. To wait the Setting of the Sun, and to discharge the Men from their Labour.

In that snippet there is quite an element of the operative stonemason builder's dawn to dusk working day. The reference to the Sun and Moon may well have been inspired by the description in the Book of Genesis (chap. i, 16):

And God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made stars also.

Later in that catechism in the Dialogue there is a return to the subject:

Q. You said you see three great Lights, did you see no other light?
A. Yes, one far surpassing Sun or Moon.

Q. What was that?
A. The Light of the Gospel.

In a period when Christian influence was abundant, that reference may well have meant The Gospel According to St. John. Many early manuscripts and publications have the following, or similar:

Q. From whence come you?
A. From the Holy Lodge of St. John.

As the Patronal Festivals of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist were strictly observed in freemasonry.

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Ornaments, Furniture and Jewels

It is quite a common custom for a brother, on completing the ceremony of the Third Degree, to receive a copy of the Working that is used in his lodge, but far too few have their attention drawn to the existence of the Lectures of the Three Degrees; it is a publication that would lead to a better understanding of what is contained in the Craft ritual. The Fifth Section of the First Lecture in that book has:

Q. Of what is the interior of a Freemason's Lodge composed?
A. Ornaments, Furniture and Jewels.

Q. Name the ornaments.
A. The Mosaic Pavement, the Blazing Star, and the Indented or Tessellated Border.

Q. Their situation?
A. The Mosaic Pavement is the beautiful flooring of the Lodge, the Blazing Star the glory in the centre; and the Indented or Tessellated Border the skirtwork around the same.

This is what Samuel Pritchard published:

Q. Have you any furniture in your Lodge?
A. Yes.

Q. What is it?
A. Mosaic Pavement, Blazing Star, and Indented Tarsel.

Q. What are they?
A. Mosaic Pavement, the Ground Floor of the Lodge, Blazing Star the Centre, and Indented Tarsel the Border around it.

In a Paper given to Quatuor Coronati Lodge in 1916 (AQC Vol 29, p307) on Tracing Boards, Bro. Dring wrote to Professor W. A. Craigie, Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, and published his reply which confirmed that the word Tarsel was actually a 15-16th century variant of Tassel.

Owing to the licence in spelling in the early masonic period, and the careless misuse of wording it is not difficult to see how "tessellated" became "tassellated"; yet the two are far apart, with the former, composed of tesserae "or regularly chequered" and the latter "adorned with tassels".

Masonry Dissected was the basis from which translations into French were mounted, and bearing in mind the natural aptitude those brethren have for embellishment, masonic ritual exposures which were published in France, or influenced by them from the mid-18th century onwards, carried descriptions or illustrations of floor-drawing which were the result of faulty interpretations.

Classic examples come from La Reception Mysterieuse 1738, in which the relative portion has:

The pavement of the Room is decorated with Mosaic work, the comet is in the centre, & the Room is carpeted all round with a brocade of gold.

Pritchard's "Blazing Star" became "the comet" and his "Border round about it" became a "brocade of gold". In the masonic ritual exposure Le Secret des Franc Macons, 1742, all three items were changed. Pritchard's "Mosaic Pavement" became "Mosaic Palace". "Blazing Star" became "Star-spangled canopy". "Indented Tarsel" became "Houpe dentellee".

The late Bro. Harry Carr, in Early French Exposures (p73) interprets "Houpe" as "tuft or Tassel" and "dentellee" as "toothed or indented". It is entirely due to faulty translations from English to French, and later from the reverse process that we see tassels on the four corners of some checkered carpets. The English ritual exposure Jachin and Boaz published in 1762 was a re-translation from French to English. In the portion after the Candidate has sealed his Obligation and been entrusted it has:

He is also learnt the Step, or how to advance to the Master upon the Drawing on the Floor, which in some lodges resembles the grand Building, termed a Mosaic Palace, and is described with the utmost exactness. They also draw other figures, one of which is called the Laced Tuft, and the Throne beset with stars...

Later in that catechism is the following:

Q. Had you any covering to your Lodge?
A. Yes, a cloudy canopy, or divers Colours, or the Clouds.

That item gave full influence for those brethren who decided to have ceilings of lodge rooms decorated with sky, clouds, stars and the sun and moon, to which the signs of the Zodiac were sometimes added as a border. Some attractive examples of that artistry are still seen in various Masonic Halls.

In an inventory, taken in 1771 by members of the Lodge of Refief (No. 42) which meets at Bury, Lancashsire, we find:

1 Carpet. 4 Brass letter, E. W. N. S. A Brass Sun, Moon and a letter G, etc. A Painted Square Pavement, and indented Tarsel. There is an example of the importance given to the indented border in the Minutes of Royal Sussex Lodge which met at Worthing in February 1823:

Order'd that Bro. Palmer be desired to add to the form of the Lodge an Indented Border forthwith.

In that sense, "the Lodge" meant the floor-drawing which in that period was either painted on oilcloth, or an early Tracing Board. But, probably it was an oilcloth because two years later in the records of the same lodge is "the present of a Tracing Board" which was obtainable from masonic equipment suppliers and was then becoming a standard feature. In two manuals, published in the U. S. A., The True Masonic Chart by Jeremy Cross (1824) and Illustrations of Masonry by Capt. William Morgan (1827), there are specific connecting of the Blazing Star with Christianity:

The ornaments of a Lodge are the Mosaic Pavement, the indented Tessel and the Blazing Star. The Mosaic Pavement is a representation of the ground floor of King Solomon's temple; the indented tessel that beautiful tesselated border, or skirting, which surrounds it; and the blazing star in the centre is commemorative of the Star which appeared to guide the wise men of the East to the place of our savior's nativity. The Mosaic pavement is emblematical of human life, chequered with good and evil; the beautiful border which surrounds it, those manifold blessings and comforts which surround us, and which we hope to enjoy by a faithful reliance on Divine Providence which is hieroglyphically represented by the Blazing Star in the centre.

Later in that section there is an explanation of the four Cardinal Virtues, Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, and Justice, but no connection made between those and the tassels at the four corners of the indented border which is so often seen.

The earliest evidence available that shows the Houpe Dentellee or Tasselled Cord, but not as a border, is to be found in Catechisme des Franc-Macons published in 1744. It is depicted as an ornament at the head of the "Plan of the Apprentice Fellow's Lodge" as that illustration is called. Again we are indebted to Harry Carr who ably researched these masonic exposures and published a collection of them, translated into English with a commentary on each, under the title Early French Exposures 1737-1751 (Quatuor Coronati Lodge, 1971). He drew attention (pp. 320-1) to this item which was described as the "Cordon de Veuve" or the "Widow's Cord" explaining that it was an addition to the coat of arms on the occasion of the death of an armigerous husband and in heraldry was known by that expression. Ingenuity played its part in bringing that item to a lodge floor- drawing, or Tracing Board, presumably on the grounds that all brethren in freemasonry are brothers of Hiram Abif who was a widow's son. Examples are still to be seen where crudely drawn tasselled cords surround drawings on lodge boards, and even on some Royal Arch banners.

Various designers in the late 1790's and early 1800's included tassels at the corners of a patterned border which surrounded the chequered pavement or carpet, as well as on Tracing Boards of that period. An early example is to be seen in John Cole's Illustrations of Masonry published in 1801. An interesting Tracing Board was lodged in the Provincial Grand Mater's room at Barnstaple, Devon. It has initial letters at the four corners, not tassels, P for Prudence, T for Temperance, F for Fortitude, but unfortunately the J for Juctice has hardly survived the test of time. That Tracing Board was originally with other lodge furniture in the Royal Cumberland Lodge at Bath, in Somerset,, and dates back to the late 18th century. It was sold in 1843 and how it came to Barnstaple was the subject of a Paper by Bro. Bruce Oliver printed in the Transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge (AQC Vol 55, pp. 109-133).

At the end of the Sixth Section of the Craft Lectures there is a Charge which includes the Cardinal Virtues:

May Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth, in conjunction with Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice, distinguish Free and Accepted Masons till time shall be no more.

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Furniture of the Lodge

The Craft Lectures assert that the furniture of the lodge consists of "the Volume of the Sacred Law, the Compasses and the Square" as describes them as:

....the Scared Writings are to rule and govern our faith, on them we Obligate our Candidates for Freemasonry. So are the Compasses and Square, when united, to regulate our lives and actions.... The Sacred Volume is derived from God to main in general; the Compasses belong to the Grand Master in particular; and the Square to the whole Craft.

Q. Why the Sacred Volume from God to man in general?
A. Because the Almighty has been pleased to reveal more of his Divine Will in that Holy Book than he has by any other means.

Whilst "the Volume of the Sacred Law" now officially describes whatever is binding on the conscience of the Candidate, according to his faith, in the early period of organised Freemasonry it was unquestionably the Bible. Evidence is to hand that from 1396 onwards it was markedly Trinitarian as will be seen from the following examples, the first from Grand Lodge MS No 1 dated 1583, (phrased in modern language):

The might of the father in Heaven and the wisdom of the glorious Son through the grace and goodness of the Holy Ghost, that being three persons and one God, be with us at our beginning, and give us grace so as to govern us here in living that we may come to his bliss that never shall have ending. AMEN.

The conclusion to that Roll has:

These Charges that we have now rehearsed unto you and all others that belong to Masons ye shall keep, so help you God and your hallydome, and by this book in your hands unto your power. Amen so mote it be.

The second example is from the William Watson MS and is dated 1687 one hundred years later. Experts have classified this as "being at least second only in importance to the celebrated Cooke MS of early fifteenth century (Old Charges of British Freemasons W. J. Hughan, London 1895) it ends with:

These charges that we declared and recorded unto you ye shall well and truly keep to your power, so help you God and Holidome and by ye contents of this book.

Those examples place beyond doubt that "this book" implied the Bible; the use of the archaic word "halidom", however spelt, intended the obligation to be deemed a holy undertaking. But, yet another manuscript is worth quoting in this context as it supplies further detail and, as it is dated c1700, brings us near to the Premier Grand Lodge of 1717:

First you are to put the person who is to get the word, upon his knees; and after a great many ceremonies, to frighten him, you make him take up the Bible; and, laying his right hand upon it, you are to conjure him to Secrecy, by threatening, that, if he shall break his Oath; the Sun in the firmanent & all the Company there present, will be witness against him, which will be the occasion of his damnation. (Chetwode Crawley MS)

By the time we reach the Revd James Anderson's Constitutions of the Freemasons, published and officially adopted in 1723, when Freemasonry had opened its doors to men of other religions providing that such faith acknowledged a Supreme Being, we find under the section relating to Behaviour, sub-section 2:

....Therefore no private pique or quarrels must be brought within the Door or the Lodge, far less any quarrels about Religion, or Nations, or State policy, we being only, as Masons, of the Catholic Religion above mention'd; we being also of all Nations, Tongues, Kindreds, and Languages, and are resolved against all Politics, as what never yet conduc'd to the Welfare of the Lodge, nor ever will. This charge has always been strictly enjoin'd and observ'd; but especially since the Reformation in Britain, or the Dissent Secession of these Nations from the Communion of Rome. (1st Edn. 1723, p54).

But in the 2nd Edition, published in 1738 (p144), under the sub-title "Concerning God and Religion" we read:

...In Antient Times the Christian Masons were charged to comply with Christian Usages of each Country where they travell'd or work'd; But Masonry being found in all Nations even of divers Religions, they are now only charged to adhere to that Religion in which all men agree (leaving each Brother to his own particular Opinions) that is, to be Good Men and True, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Names, Religions or Persuasions they may be distinguished;... thus Masonry is the Center of Union and the happy means of conciliating Persons that otherwise must have remain'd at a perpetual distance.

The position today is made abundantly clear and guidance is contained in the published Basic Principles of Grand Lodge Recognition in 1929:

That all initiates shall take their obligation on or in full view of the open Volume of the Sacred Law, by which is meant the revelation from above which is binding on the conscience of the particular individual who is being initiated.

Further clarification to that was agreed between the Grand Lodges of England, Ireland, and Scotland, in August 1938. It was subsequently published by each Grand Lodge as Aims and Relationships of the Craft and contained the following:

3. The first condition of admission into, and membership of, the Order is a belief in the Supreme Being. This is essential and admits of no compromise.

4. The Bible, referred to by Freemasons as the Volume of the Sacred Law, is always open in the Lodges. Every Candidate is required to take his Obligation on that book or on the Volume which is held by his particular creed to impart sanctity to an oath or promise taken upon it.

From the established practice in the English Constitution the Square and Compasses rest upon the Bible at every meeting, but in a multi-faith membership relative Holy Writings will rest alongside each other, eg, the Bible as whole for Christians, The Torah, or Old Testament for Jews, Koran for Muslims, Bhagvada Gita for Hindus, Zend Avesta for Parsees, and so on. Under the Grand Lodge of Israel three volumes are laid alongside each other on the Pedestal thus catering for the three religions prominent in that country. The Square and Compasses are placed upon that which is to be used for an Obligation. The Grand Master is from each religion in rotation.

It is the custom in many lodges for the Bible to be open at a particular section, according to the ceremony to be performed, and a relative extract read out to enlighten the brethren. Such a commendable practice can only add to the solemnity of the occasion.

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In our Journey through the First Degree we meet a series of challenges. No doubt we all remember that first challenge: "Do you feel anything?" That first incident was designed to intimate to us that we were about to engage in something serious and solemn. We were no sooner inside the Lodge than we were faced with the second challenge: "Are you free?" Then, when we vowed that we were unfettered, body, mind and soul, the blessings of the Almighty was invoked on the proceedings. Then, without a pause, came the third and most important challenge of all: "In all cases of difficulty and danger, in whom do you put your trust?" There is, of course, only one answer, but that answer is the confession of a simple faith - the simple faith of Masonry. We do not enquire a candidate's religion, but we do insist on a belief in a Supreme Being - faith in the Great Architect of the Universe is the rock foundation on which the whole Masonic edifice is built.

Of the three theological virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity, the last is, of course, the greatest - "chief among the blessed three", as we sing in our ode - but Faith is necessarily the first, the starting point in any approach to God. And so we find right at the beginning of our Masonic career a profound emphasis on a simple faith. But let us continue our journey.

We enter the Lodge room from the West, symbolizing the gateway of life, not birth, but the beginning of life. Being the gateway to life, it will also eventually be the gateway from life, but that comes much later in our story. We travel down the North side, the place of darkness, symbolizing the development of life - the time spent by the embryo in the mother's womb, or the seed in the darkness of the earth. Then we arrive in the East, where we receive the light, symbolizing birth.

In his circumambulation of the Lodge our candidate follows the path of the sun, which, of course, rises in the East, reaches its zenith in the South - at least it does in the Northern Hemisphere, where our ceremonies originate - then sets in the West, and returns to the East through the hours of darkness.

Our candidate knocks, three times at the Junior Wardens pedestal and three times at that of the Senior warden. These three knocks have a profound significance; they betoken the three degrees, which in turn represent man's approach to God in each of the three phases of nature: a physical approach, a mental or intellectual approach, and a spiritual approach. The candidate, of course, knows nothing of this at this stage, but the pattern of our three degrees is based on this fundamental principle.

We advance to the East by three irregular steps, symbolizing stepping into the unknown. The first is a timid step, full of caution; the second a little bolder, indicating rising confidence, and the third quite bold, because fear has now been dispelled. The first part of the sign of an Entered Apprentice has the same significance - reaching into the unknown.

The predominating number of this degree is three, just as five and seven are the numbers of the other two degrees, and so, as the candidate kneels he forms three squares: the first with his leg, the second with his foot, and the third with his arm. His hand in this position is an emblem of concealment - he takes a vow of concealment - and it is worthy to notice that the words used, "hele and conceal", have the same meaning: "hele: being derived from the Anglo-Saxon, the language in use before William the Conquerer arrived from Normandy, and "conceal" being derived from the Norman French that he brought with him, thus establishing a second language in England. Freemasonry here used a word fro each language to make sure that it was not misunderstood. This might throw a little light on the age of our ritual.

Both these words mean to "cover up", just as does our other word "heal", which was derived from the same Anglo-Saxon word "helan". The thatchers of roofs, particularly in Cornwall and Devon, are called "heelers" to this day, and our nurseryman use that word when they cover the roots of a plant with earth, till they are ready to place it in the ground.

The obligation is obviously twofold, in as much as we may neither do certain things ourselves, nor permit them to be done by others; but the word "indite", which is not properly understood, makes the obligation threefold. Its meaning is "to direct or dictate what is to be uttered or written". If we may not permit a second person to direct or dictate what is to be uttered or written to a third person, the word has a profound significance on our obligation.

When God accused Cain of Abel's murder, he answered: "Am I my brother's keeper?" The word "indite" in our obligation shows that we are our brother's keeper. The mere passive witnessing a brother thus violating his obligation implies the violation of our own.

We are made a Mason in the body of a Lodge "just, perfect and regular". The word "just" in this instance has the archaic meaning of "correct". As it does in the investiture of the Treasurer when we use the words "just and regular accounts". What makes the Lodge "just", what makes it "perfect", and what makes it "regular"? The Sacred Volume open on the Master's pedestal makes it just, and complete. The number seven makes it perfect, as we learn in the words of the First Tracing Board, with a confirmation of that in the Second Tracing Board, as you, no doubt, remember. The warrant or charter of the United Grand Lodge of Victoria makes it regular. Without the Sacred Volume to make the Lodge just and complete, the presence of "seven regularly made Masons" to make it perfect, and the warrant or charter to make it regular, no Lodge can conduct the ceremony of initiation.

After the candidate has received the light, he takes his first regular step in Freemasonry, which he does in the for of a tau cross. When I was in India several years ago, I noticed that they used the same words as we do regarding the placing of the candidate's feet, but they added the words: "so as to form the letter T". This is quite right, as the English letter T is the equivalent of the Greek letter tau, and the three emblems in the form of an inverted letter T on the apron of an Installed Master are tau crosses. The letter tau is the nineteenth letter of the Greek alphabet.

In its original form of a cross, it is probably the most ancient of all sacred signs. It is depicted on the oldest monuments in Egypt, Assyria, Persia and Hindustan. According to Mackey, Moses marked this sign on the fore head of his brother, Aaron, when he anointed him as the first High Priest of Israel. It was this sign that Ezekiel caused to be marked on the foreheads of the righteous, who were thereby saved from death. In India it is the sign of the Brahma, the creator, the first of the Hindu Trinity, and used by Brahmins, the highest caste in that religion. It was highly revered by the ancient Druids, and is, of course, the most sacred sign of Christianity.

We form a tau cross in each of the three degrees, and when we are exalted in the Royal Arch - which it is claimed, is not another degree, but the completion of the third - we find the three crosses united in the "triple tau".

As the left-hand side symbolizes evil, we always take a step with the left foot, as symbolical of putting down evil, before we make this sign. The Latin word for "left" is sinister, which accounts for the ominous significance attributed to this English word.

The word of the degree is a Hebrew word, whose meaning gives us the key to God's covenant with Israel, of which to name of the pillar was intended to be a constant reminder, as we see form this paraphrasing of the covenant: "In the strength of Jehovah shall the king rejoice, for He will establish the throne of David and his kingdom to his seed forever". The pillar has nothing really to do with the great grandfather of David, only inasmuch as they both bore the same name, thus the name of one serves as a reminder of the other.

"Have you anything to give?" Here Brethren, is our fourth challenge, and, although at the time we were prevented from accepting that challenge, now that we are Freemasons, we are bound to accept, for we have so much to give - our time, our energy, our devotion. To disregard this challenge is to condemn ourselves to lack of interest, which so often becomes that fatal attitude of apathy.

The ancient Greeks had three words - eros, philia, and agape which are translated to the same English word "love", but to the Greeks they had three distinct meanings. Eros was the love between the sexes; philia the love of man for man - brotherly love; and the third, agape, something far greater - the love of God for man, which, of course, knows no bounds. The equivalent of agape in the Latin language was caritas, and it is from this word that our word "charity" is derived, and it has the same meaning. It seems to have been somewhat degraded in the outside world, but in Freemasonry it still has that deeper meaning. We cannot hope to attain to such a love, but we can strive to emulate it to the best of our ability.

Faith, as I have already mentioned, is necessarily the first step in any approach to God, and the three degrees in Freemasonry represent our approach to God in the three phases of our nature. We belong to God, body, mind and soul. It is Hope that enables us to take the next step, but Charity, that sublime virtue derived from an emulation of God's love for man, must be the greatest, and so we depict it on our Tracing Board as the top rung of the ladder.

The North-east charge is a dramatization of this great virtue; it reminds us of our obligation to relieve the distress of our indigent brother, and this reminder is constantly

repeated at the conclusion of every meeting in the Tyler's Toast. During my Masonic career I have heard several interpretations of the Tyler's Toast, but the following has so appealed to me that I have forgotten the others.

According to this interpretation the Tyler's Toast is meant to remind us of the time, when we stood on the North-east corner of the Lodge, and listened for the first time to these words "... it cannot be denied that we have many members of rank and opulence amongst us; neither can it be concealed that among the thousands who range under its banner, there are some who, perhaps from circumstances of unavoidable calamity and misfortune, are reduced to the lowest ebb of poverty and distress. On their behalf it is our usual custom to awaken the sympathy of every newly initiated Brother, by making such a claim, etc." The charge concludes with the words: "...should you, at any future time, meet a Brother in distress who might solicit your assistance, you will remember those peculiar moments when you were admitted into Freemasonry ... and cheerfully embrace to opportunity of practicing towards him that virtue that you now profess to admire."

When we honour this toast to our distressed Brethren we think of them as being dispersed to the four points of the compass over the surface of land and water, and so we point, but not to the South, for, symbolically speaking, we are standing in the South, but we point to the other three - straight ahead to the North, left to the West, and right to the East. We do this three times in allusion to the three degrees, which in turn allude to the triple nature of man - body, mind, and soul - for man must dedicate himself to God in each of the three phases of his nature, and in each of the three degrees to represent our approach to God in that particular phase of our being.

When we find ourselves face to face with the distressed Brother, what might we be called upon to do in order to carry out this obligation?

Well first of all, we may have to thrust our hands into our pockets where we keep our money. However, financial aid may not be his greatest need; perhaps he is depressed, downcast, discouraged, and our sympathy, counsel, or encouragement could give him renewed strength to fight life's battle. He may have all the money he needs, and yet be destitute of faith, of hope, and of course, it is our duty to share our faith, our hope, and our courage with him. Our aid to this distressed Brother could take yet a third form; perhaps he is aged, invalid, blind, or otherwise handicapped, and so unable to something that we could do for him - some physical task that we could do for him with these hands.

Yes, our aid will come from our pockets, from our hearts, or from our hands, and so we indicate each in turn. And we do it three times for the same reason that we pointed three times: body, mind and soul; hand, head and heart; north, west and east. And in silence, because whatever aid we render to our distressed Brother will forever remain a secret between the giver and the receiver.

"To our next merry meeting" we say with the hands in this position. The hand in this position always symbolizes concealment, as it was thus that we took our obligation. This time it is a double concealment, representing concealment in two places. It is not only what occurred in the Lodge Room, but also what occurred here at the festive board, where we honour this toast, that is not to be divulged to the outside world.

We call our place of refreshment "the South", because the cathedral builders always erected their lodge on the sunny side of the construction, which in the Northern Hemisphere is the south. It was here that our ancient Brethren took their refreshment, and so the place of refreshment came to be called the "South".

It has been well said: "Faith is lost in sight, Hope ends in fruition, but Charity extends beyond the grave through the boundless realms of eternity".

This sounds like a riddle, but it is profound truth, because faith is the assurance of things not seen, and when we finally see, then we believe through sight, and no longer through faith - "Faith is lost in sight". As hope exists only in the expectation of possession it must necessarily cease, when the thing desired is at last enjoyed: "Hope ends in fruition; but Charity, exercised here on earth in acts of mutual kindness and forbearance, is still to be found in the world to come in its most sublime form as God's mercy to His erring creatures".

In the Reasons for Preparation we are told that our right arm was made bare in token of our sincerity, and to show that we are able and willing to work. This, Brethren, is yet another challenge, similar to "give", because unless we are prepared to work diligently in gaining knowledge and carrying out the teachings of the Craft, we are sentencing ourselves to the same fate as those who do not give. The important point is that both "give" and "work" imply involvement.

Again in the Reasons we are told: "There was not heard the sound of a hammer or any other implement of iron". To my knowledge there are four references to this in the Sacred Volume. The first is a warning, which is given in Exodus 20:25, where we read: "And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt build it of hewn stone, for if thou lift up thine tool upon it, thou hast polluted it".

The second is an instruction, which is given in Deuteronomy 27:5, where we read: "And there shalt thou build an altar unto the Lord thy God, an altar of stones; thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them".

We know that the command was carried out, because it is recorded in Joshua 8:30-31: "Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron".

The fourth reference shows us that this law was observed in the erection of King Solomon's Temple, for in the First Book of Kings 6:7, we read: "And the house, when it was in building, was built of stones made ready, before they were brought hither; so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building".

I will mention but two things in the Tracing Board, and the first of these is a pair of things, the Rough and Perfect Ashlars. Both of these ashlars are reminders of the necessity for moral behaviour and the importance of developing the intellectual faculty. In the ritual we are told: "The Rough Ashlar is a stone, rough and unhewn as taken from the quarry until, by the industry and ingenuity of the workmen, it is modelled, wrought into due form, and rendered fit for the hands of the more expert craftsman; this represents man in his infant or primitive stage, rough and unpolished as that stone, until by the kind care and attention of his parents or guardians by giving a liberal and virtuous education, his mind becomes cultivated, and he is thereby rendered a fit member of civilized society. The Perfect Ashlar is a stone of true die or square, fit to be tried by the S. and C.s; this represents man in the decline of years, after a regular well-spent life in acts of piety and virtue, which cannot otherwise be tried and approved than by the S. of God's word, and the C.s of his own self-convincing conscience.

Dr Mackey (Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and its kindred Sciences) presents the same idea in these words: "The Rough Ashlar, or stone in its rude and unpolished conditions, is emblematical of man in his natural state - ignorant, uncultivated, and vicious. But when education has exercised its wholesome influence in expanding his intellect, restraining his passions, and activating his mind, he is then represented by the Perfect Ashlar, which, under the skilful hand of the expert Craftsman, has been smoothed and squared and fitted for its place in the building".

Dr. Joseph Fort Newton (The Builders) clothes the idea in these beautiful words: "Freemasonry insists that its members shall be men, free men of adult age and of good report; as the stones of King Solomon's Temple were hewn and chiselled and shaped and polished, far away, so that without the sound of axe or hammer, they might be softly, silently set in the place that awaited them; so in the Lodges of freemasonry the characters of its members are silently, secretly smoothed and shaped, until the rough stone becomes the Perfect Ashlar, the long pilgrimage is over, the working tools are laid down, and the finished stone finds its last resting place in the great temple of humanity, which the Great Architect has been building since the world began:.

Now let me add the thought contained in the last verse of that poem by Lawrence Greenleaf, entitled "Temple of Living Stones":

"Although our past achievements we with honest pride review,
As long as there's Rough Ashlars there is work for us to do;
We still must shape the living stones with instruments of love,
For that eternal mansion in the paradise above;
Toil as we've toiled in ages past to carry out the plan;
'Tis this: the Fatherhood of God, and the Brotherhood of man".

In ordinary everyday life, when we speak of a "rude or "Polished" mind, of an "upright" man, who is a "pillar" of society, of meeting on the "level", and acting on the "square", we are using words that found their origin in our Masonic Craft; and when we speak of putting someone through the Third Degree, we are thinking of an ordeal, and our Masonic ordeal teaches us that we cannot rely on our own worth, no matter how virtuous, nor yet on all the science and accumulated knowledge of mankind, but only on the sure grip of faith; all else will prove a slip and fail us in the hour of trial.

Which brings us back to the point where we stared our journey, and where we answered that most important challenge: "In all cases of difficulty and danger, in whom do you put your trust?" Our answer, "In God", is a confession of faith, the simple faith of Masonry is its very cornerstone, its first and greatest landmark, the basis of its plan, its purpose, its promise. There is no other foundation - upon faith in God, Freemasonry builds its temple of Brotherly love, Relief and Truth.

As he has for most things, Dr. Newton (The Builders) has something apt to say about the simple faith; and so I will conclude this chapter with his words: 'Out of this simple faith grows by inevitable logic the philosophy which Freemasonry teaches in signs and symbols, in pictures and parables. Stated briefly, stated vividly, it is that behind the pageant of nature, in it and over it, there is a Supreme Being, who initiates, impels and controls all; that behind the life of man and his pathetic story in history, there is a righteous will, the intelligent conscience of the Most High. In short, that the last thing in the universe is mind, that the highest and deepest thing is conscience, and that the final reality is the absoluteness of love; higher than his faith cannot fly, and deeper than his thought cannot dig".

The other reference I wish to make to the Tracing Board is not to two things like the Ashlars, but to three things, the pillars. They warrant a chapter on their own.

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The column of office of the Junior Warden is the pillar of the Corinthian Order. It is an emblem of beauty, and points out that he is to adorn the work with all his powers of genius and active industry, to promote regularity among the Brethren by his precept and example, and the discriminating encouragement of merit.

The outstanding feature of the Corinthian Order is the acanthus leaf, the introduction of which is attributed to Callimachus, the celebrated architect of ancient Greece. Long before the Christian era a Corinthian maiden, who was betrothed, took ill and died before the time for the appointed marriage. Her faithful and grieving nurse placed on her tomb a basket containing many of her toys and covered it with a flat tile. It so happened that the basket was placed immediately on top of an acanthus root, which then grew up and around the basket, and curled around the weighty resistance of the tile, exhibiting a form of foliage, which was, on being seen by the architect, perceived as a potential form of architecture. He adopted it as a model for the capital of a new order of architecture, perpetuating in marble this story of affection.

It is the most elaborate of the three Greek orders, the other two of which are the Ionic and the Doric. It gained great favour with the Romans, who tried to improve on it with the Composite, but the Corinthian has steadily maintained its popularity. The finest Greek example is the choragic monument of Lysicrates in Athens. The Roman examples include the Temple of mars at Ultor, The temple of Vespasian, the third range of the Colosseum, and the Pantheon.

Emblematically, this column is female, and its distinguishing characteristics are lightness and beauty. In proportion its length is nine to eleven times its diameter, and in Freemasonry it represents Hiram Abif.

When Hiram, King of Tyre, which was the chief city of Phoenicia, accepted King Solomon's invitation to support him with men and materials for the building of the Temple, he sent his outstanding man to take charge of the construction. This is recorded in the First Book of Kings 7:13, where we read:

"And Solomon sent and brought Hiram out of Tyre. He was the son of a widow of the tribe Napthali, and his father was a man of Tyre."

His father , therefore, was a Phoenician, but his mother was an Israelite. Some Masonic scholars contend that this man of tyre was his step-father, and that his real father, his mother's first husband was a man of the tribe of Dan, making him fully an Israelite by birth. The history of Tyre goes back to the fifteenth century B.C. (The City of Tyre was about one hundred and sixty kilometres from Jerusalem.).

Hiram Abif, or being translated, Father Hiram, was a very talented man, as we can see from the passages of scripture. The first records:

"Hiram was a worker in bronze, and he was full of wisdom, understanding and skill for making any manner of work in bronze. He came to King Solomon and did all his work."

And the other passage (The Second Book of Chronicles 2:14) records the words of Hiram, King of Tyre, in describing the man he was sending:

"He is trained to work in gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone, and wood; and in purple, blue and crimson fabrics and fine linen, and to do all, sorts of engraving, and to execute any design that may be assigned to him with your craftsmen, the craftsmen of my Lord David, your Father."

His skill as a Mason is certified by the famous archaeologist, Professor Smythe, who tells us that there were stones as large as 11.81 metres long, 2.13 metres high, and 2.44 metres wide, and that these were formed so as to fit and rest on the natural rock foundation, and that the joints between these stones were so perfect that the blade of a knife could not be inserted between them.

A stone of these dimensions would weigh about 140 tonne, and had to be moved into position without the aid of any kind of machinery, for this was before the invention of even the system of pulleys mentioned in the first Tracing Board. This enormous mass had to be dragged along an first conceived by King David, but for several reasons this mighty warlike King could not commence the work, although he did discuss the matter with Hiram, King of Tyre. It was left to his son, Solomon, upon his ascent to the throne to make a treaty with that monarch, who was to support him so ably with men and materials.

Phoenicia was a buffer state between Egypt, Assyria and Babylon, and, except for brief periods of independence, was politically overlorded in turn by these three great powers, but as a trading, seafaring nation, the Phoenicians never completely lost their independence. They were the outstanding financiers and money-lenders of their day, and had extensive overseas resources - Carthage, the great rival of Rome, was started as a colony of Phoenicia. Tyrian ships visited what is now known as the British Isles, and it has been established that their country actually operated the tin mines in Cornwall, which are still yielding tin today. It was this tin that was mixed with copper to make the bronze pillars, the great laver, and the many ornaments of the Temple.

Not only did Hiram, King of Tyre, supply Solomon with the architect himself, Hiram Abif, but with many thousands of menatzchin, or prefects, or more familiarly speaking overseers, who were the artificers or skilled tradesmen. They were to oversee the vast number of unskilled labourers, who were drawn mainly from the satellite peoples of Israel, such as the Moabites, and other indigenous tribes. These unskilled labourers loaded timber from the forests of Lebanon onto the ships that were to transport it to Joppa, from where it was transported to Jerusalem. The Phoenicians supervised the preparation of the stones in the quarries, and their placement in the building, after the unskilled labourers had transported them there, again under the skilled workers of Tyre.

The metal work was cast in the Plain of Jordan, in the clayground between Succoth and Zeredatha under the supervision of Hiram Abif and his skilled artificers.

It took seven and a half years to complete the Temple, and then only by working the unskilled labour at ten thousand a shift, thanks to the wonderful support of Hiram, King of Tyre, whose honesty and integrity were bywords in his day. Of course, he was not doing this for nothing. His was a trading nation, and he wanted his caravan routes kept open, and in this way Solomon was able to repay him, besides supplying him with goods that Tyre itself could not produce.

Hiram came to the throne at the early age of nineteen years, and he reigned for thirty-four years, dying at the age of fifty-three. He is mentioned only twice in our ritual. The first time is in the First Tracing Board in that part which is repeated in our installation ceremony as the Address to the Pillars, where we are told that he is represented by the Doric column of the Senior Warden. The second reference is even less specific: in the rather negative statement, that he was one of the three Grand masters who bore sway at the building of the Temple at Jerusalem. His importance would seem to warrant a more passing reference.

He was the king of a country which, although it has left us no record of its achievements, is credited with doing much towards the improvement of the art of writing and, by some, even with the invention of the alphabet and the system of ciphers that we use today. Thanks to Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, and to Herodotus, the Greek historian, we are enabled to know as much as we do.

The original inhabitants of Phoenicia were the Canaanites with an admixture of Amorite and Hittite, and unlike the ancient peoples were not primarily farmers but a nation of artificers, sailors and merchants. They are credited with the discovery of Polaris, the Pole Star, and are recognised as the first to chart their course by the stars. They are also credited with the invention of glass. The country was for many years under the domination of Egypt.

We were told in a lecture ("Hiram and His Kingdom of Tyre") given in the Lodge of Research by Wor. Bro. McConnell, that alone of all the Tyrian Kings the name of Hiram is attached by popular tradition to a still existing monument - a great weather-beaten sarcophagus of unknown antiquity, raised aloft on three huge rocky pillars of stone, and looking down from the hills above Tyre, over the ruins of the city and harbour, and still called the "Tomb of Hiram". Bro. Senior warden has the honour and privilege of representing Hiram, King of Tyre.

The column of the Worshipful Master is the pillar of the Ionic order, a style of architecture that is 3,200 years old. It is part Egyptian and part Assyrian, and combines the strength of the Doric with the beauty of the Corinthian order. It is an emblem of wisdom and points out that the Master is to combine wisdom with strength and firmness of mind and beauty of persuasive eloquence in the government of the Lodge. This pillar represents Solomon, King of Israel, who was renowned for his wisdom.

The story of King Solomon begins with the story of Ruth, one of the many beautiful stories in the Sacred Volume. Because of famine in the land of Palestine, a certain man of Bethlehem, Elimelech by name, went with his wife Naomi, and their two sons to live in the land of Moab. There the two sons grew to manhood, and took to themselves wives from among the daughters of the people of Moab. When Elimelech died, Naomi was left in the care of the two sons; but when the two sons died, Naomi decided to return to her own country. Both the daughters-in-law would have returned with her to Bethlehem, had not Naomi succeeded in persuading one of them to remain with her own Moabitish people, but the other who was called Ruth, insisted on returning with her, saying: "Your people shall be my people, and whithersoever thou goest, there I go also." And so Ruth travelled with Naomi to Palestine.

Back in Bethlehem, Naomi sent Ruth to glean corn in the field of her kinsman, Boaz, as was the custom in those days. When Boaz saw Ruth gleaning in his field, he asked his men who the woman was and when told that she was the daughter-in-law of his kinswoman, Naomi, he went forth and spoke with Ruth, inviting her to glean in all his fields. He then instructed his men not to disturb Ruth, but to let fall full ears of corn, that she might go away well laden.

This story fills the four chapters of the Book of Ruth, but suffice it to say that Boaz fell in love with Ruth and married her. Their son, Obed, was the father of Jesse, and therefore the grandfather of David, making Boaz the great grandfather of David, who was, of course, a prince and ruler in Israel.

Although a man of war, David led a singularly blameless life till he fell in love with Bathsheba, the wive of Uriah, the Hittite, a captain in David's army. David seduced Bathsheba, and when he found her with child he called Uriah before him, made a full confession of his guilt, offering to marry her; but Uriah refused to divorce her. Shortly afterwards Uriah was killed in battle. David was accused by Nathan the prophet of being implicated in the death of Uriah by assigning him to a mission of danger and it is recorded that David made no attempt to deny it.

This and the numbering of people were David's two sins, but they were fully atoned, for the Almighty thought fit to punish David in the same manner as was punished that other great servant of the Almighty, Moses, for his sin, by the denying of the realization of his life's ambition. Moses, who led the Israelites out of their Egyptian bondage, and through the forty years of wandering in the wilderness, dreamed of the day when he would lead them into the promised land. Moses died knowing that the following day they would cross the border under the leadership of his successor, Joshua. David, who had devoted his whole life to the service of God, dreamed and planned of building a magnificent temple to the glory of the Lord God of Israel, but died when those plans were almost ready and arrangements completed, leaving the execution of the beloved task to his son, Solomon, who followed him into the throne of Israel.

Bathsheba, whom David later married, bore him that son who became the most famous and illustrious of all Kings of Israel, and who gained such fame for his wisdom that his name has been a byword for at least three thousand years.

As an illustration of the wisdom of Solomon, a story is told of two women, who came before him, both claiming to be the mother of the same child. After listening to their story, Solomon ordered that that the baby be cut in half with a sword, and half of the body be given to each claimant. One of the women was quite willing for this to be done, but the other became violently agitated, and falling to her knees before the King, begged and pleaded for the life of the baby, renouncing all claim to be its mother. The King smiled kindly on the wretched women, and said: "Arise, woman and take the living child and depart in peace, for you who would not have it slain, are obviously the mother."

To Solomon's lot fell the great honour of fulfilling his father's cherished ambition, and it is upon the circumstances surrounding the erection of that magnificent temple, that our Masonic art is founded. Claims that its regal splendour and unparalleled lustre far transcend our ideas are not exaggerated, for the gold and silver alone on present day values would be worth thousands of millions of dollars.

Solomon wrote many of the wise sayings in the Book of Proverbs, he wrote the Song of Solomon, and the Book of Ecclesiastes, the last chapter of which is one of the gems of literature, and had he written nothing else, the philosophy of life contained in that chapter would have been enough to immortalize the name of Solomon.

Solomon was a wise and capable ruler, a mighty prince, whose reign was filled with prosperity and peace. The First temple at Jerusalem will always be known as King Solomon's Temple, and the Master's seat in the Freemasons' Lodge will always be known as King Solomon's Chair. May the story of King Solomon never end.

The master of the Freemasons' Lodge is thereby the worthy representative of King Solomon, and as such we salute him.

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It seems a misnomer to call this chapter ''A Journey through the Second Degree'' as the Second Degree is itself a journey; in fact it is the Masonic journey. The First represents sunrise birth, beginning the Third represents sunset death, the end; but the Second represents the rime between sunrise and sunset, between birth and death, the distance between the beginning and the end, However it is intended to conduct the reader through the Second Degree following the order of the ceremony, touching on its highlights, and adding some Interpretation and explanation, as we did in the First Degree As we make this journey let us keep n mind the main aim and purpose of the Second Degree, which is to Inculcate the importance of developing the intellectual faculty. so that its attainments may lift us to a truer and fuller appreciation of the wonderful works of the Almighty Creator.

In the Second Degree the Lodge is opened on the Square that great Masonic emblem of the Golden Rule, of doing unto others as in Similar cases we would wish that they should do to us. or as we Freernasons put it, of acting on the Square. this is the way of life that Freemasonry leaches, and has ever taught, that is, to so harmonise our conduct in this life as to render us acceptable to that Divine Being, from whom all goodness springs, II is thus fitting that the candidate for the Second Degree should gain admission by the assistance of the Square.

In the First Degree the Brethren are asked to take notice that the candidate is about to pass In view before them, but in this Degree the word ''now'' is added -- "is now about to pass in view before them" -- reminding us that now s the time to remember our Creator; and that now Is the time to perform; our allotted task while it is yet day. In the Second Degree the sun is always at its meridian.

The predominating number of this degree is five, and so the candidate advances to the East by five steps, as though ascending a winding staircase. The Winding Staircase, to my mind, is the greatest symbol in the Second Degree. However, we will deal with that when we come to the Tracing Board, and then you can judge for yourself.

As the candidate kneels for the obligation, the number five again predominates for in doing so he forms five squares, thus: the first with his r .. l..; the second with his l... 1 .., the third with his r.. h ... , the fourth with his l...a... and the fifth with his t . .. In numerology five is the number of social relations thus identifying it with the Masonic Square and the five points of fellowship, but that of course, belongs to the Third Degree.

In the Secrets we are told: "for it was in this position that Moses prayed fervently to the Almighty ." This alludes to the lime when an army of Israelites under the command of Joshua were engaged in battle with the Amalekites. Now, even though they were greatly outnumbered, the Almighty had assured Moses that the Israelites would prevail as long as Moses held his hand in this position as a sign of prayer and a token of the faith of Israel that numbers were of no importance when the Almighty was on their side. This incident is recorded in the Book of Exodus 17: 11-12, where we read: "And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side, and his hands were steady till the going down of the sun,"

The word of the degree is a Hebrew word, the meaning of which is w . . . e . . ., and when conjoined with that in the former degree forms the key to God's covenant with Israel as we will readily see, when we repeat the covenant: "in the strength of Jehovah shall the king rejoice, for He will establish the throne of David and his kingdom to his seed forever." This is the real importance of the word; the fact that the Assistant High Priest bore the same name as the southern pillar is incidental, but it did provide our ancient Brethren with a ready means of remembering the name of the Pillar.

There is no account of the dedication of the Temple in the Bible, but that event is amply recorded by the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, in his work, Jewish Antiquities. In his account we find that Zadok has become the sole High Priest of Israel, whereas in the reign of King David he shared that office with Abiathar. Abiathar, however, was later found guilty of treason by King Solomon for aiding and abetting Adonijah in his abortive attempt to seize the throne. The King could not, of course, put to death anyone who had borne the Ark of the Covenant, but Solomon did banish Abiathar, and that is the last mention of him in the Sacred Volume. Josephus states quite clearly that Zadok, as the High Priest of Israel, officiated at the dedication of the Temple, but he makes no mention of an assistant high priest. ii he had one, and he probably did, that assistant's name could have been the same as the southern pillar, because King David appointed a man by that name as one of his twenty-four section leaders or concourses, as they are called in the Sacred Volume, when he re-organized the priesthood, and it would be from their ranks that we could expect such a promotion to come. It could well be that one of our Masonic legends has preserved a name that history has recorded nowhere else. Our ritual does not refer to the name of Zadok, the High Priest, but only to that of his assistant, who assisted him at the dedication, and only because his name was the same as the southern pillar.

In the South east Charge we are told: "You are now placed in the South-east part (of the Lodge), to mark the progress you have made." This is the fifth time that the word "progress" is heard in this degree. The first time was when it was used by the Tyler, when he reports: "who has been regularly initiated into Freemasonry, and has made such progress" the second time is when those words are repeated by the Inner Guard in his report to the Master; the third time it comes from the Master himself, when he announces: "Your progress in Freemasonry is marked''; and the fourth time it is spoken by the S.W., when he says: "I invest you with the distinguishing badge of a F.C. Freemason to mark the progress". Thus we hear the word "progress" five times in the Second Degree - five is the predominating number of the Degree and progress, of course, is the central theme of this Degree - progress from sunrise to sunset, from birth to death, from beginning to end.

The working tools of an E.A Freemason are those used to prepare the stone for the hands of the more expert workman, but the working tools of the Second Degree - the Square, the level, and the Plumb Rule -- are the tools of the expert craftsman, the skilled mason responsible for the correct interpretation of the architect's designs, and for their faithful execution in the building. His, therefore, are the most important of all the tools, and the charge in which they are presented to the candidate is probably the most inspiring in all our Masonic ritual. The candidate who really absorbs its philosophy can hardly fail to become a worthy Freemason. Let me now present to you those tools in the reverse order.

The Plumb Rule, giving us the true vertical line, is the emblem of integrity, which embraces the attributes of kindness, moderation, justice and truth, the essential virtues of the just, upright and steadfast man, of whom the Roman poet, Horace, over two thousand years ago:

The man of firm and righteous will;
No rabble clamorous for the wrong;
Nor tyrant's brow, whose frown may kill,
Can shake the power that makes him strong.
Odes 111. 3,1-4

The Level, giving us the true horizontal line, is the emblem of equality, and teaches at all men are equal, inasmuch as they are all subject to the same infirmities, all hastening to the same goal, and all to be judged by the same immutable law, regardless of race, colour, creed or tongue. In this sense the Level is the perfect emblem of brotherhood Thus, the Plumb Rule gives us the true vertical line, and the Level gives us the true horizontal line; and when the true vertical and the true horizontal meet, they form an angle of ninety degrees, or the fourth part of a circle, which, of course, is the Square. Now we see that the Level and Plumb Rule are complementary to the Square, and understand the reason that these tools are worn by the three principal officers -- the Master and his two Wardens.

And that brings us to the Square, but we have already mentioned it when we dealt with the opening of the Lodge, However, there are two comments that could be added at this juncture.

In the earliest known Masonic catechism there is this question: "How many make a Lodge?" and the answer is given as: "God and the Square, and five or seven right or perfect Masons". This sounds like a riddle, but it is easily explained. "God and the Square": knowing the meaning of the Square, we are immediately reminded of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man. To love God and our neighbour is to keep all the commandments, which, of course, is what Christ meant when he said "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." And now for the rest of the answer: "with five or seven right or perfect Masons". Five is right and seven is perfect, because "five hold a lodge" and so five is the right number to form a Masonic quorum; and seven is perfect because, as the First Tracing Board tells us: that is the number of "regularly made Masons, without which number no lodge is perfect".

The second comment is that in the year 1830, when a very ancient bridge was being rebuilt near Limerick in Ireland, the architect found under the foundation-stone an old corroded brass square with this inscription (cited in The Builders, p. 56):

"I will strive to live with love and care,
Upon the level and by the square"

In the Final Charge of this Degree we are told that: "as a Craftsman, in our private assemblies, you may offer your sentiments and opinions on such subjects as are regularly introduced in the lecture." To what lecture does this refer, and when may we expect to receive this privilege? This is a question we are all entitled to ask, and there is, of course, an explanation. Our ritual, adopted in 1889, at the time of the union of the four constitutions then operating in this State, is basically the English Emulation Ritual, but with modifications borrowed from the Scottish, Irish, and Victorian rituals then in use. This was done with the object of appeasing the Brethren belonging to the other constitutions; but the added enrichment gained from the inclusion of the gems selected from these other rituals has given us what is generally considered to be the finest Masonic ritual in the world. The lectures mentioned are the Catechetical Lectures which, although part of the Emulation Ritual, were not incorporated in our present ritual, an omission which is to be regretted, as they are not only an essential part of Freemasonry, but also because we are thereby denied a valuable privilege. Our Grand Lodge, however, has copies of these Catechetical Lectures and encourages their use. The "third, last, and grand reason" mentioned in the First Tracing Board is found in these same lectures, and has recently been included in our ritual.

We will deal with just one thing in the Tracing Board, which has been purposely left to the end, and that is the Winding Staircase which, as I have already claimed, is the greatest symbol in the Fellowcraft Degree, Its seven steps, the seven liberal arts and sciences -- grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy -- symbolise the ultimate attainment of a F.C. Freemason, starting from the very beginning of man's intellectual progress. Our first intellectual advance is made possible by the development of language, thus enabling us to communicate with our neighbour, and so widen the field of our knowledge, which would otherwise be restricted to our own personal experience.

Grammar is the foundation of language, and so it must be the first step on the intellectual ladder. It is not enough, however, to master the structure of language; we must be able to put it into practice and the art which teaches us to speak copiously and fluently on a subject is rhetoric, and so we move to the second step. Even the most grammatically correct and skilfully delivered language is just an empty senseless flow of words unless it contains logic, and so we continue to rise to the third step.

Having climbed these three steps, we are then equipped to exchange knowledge with our neighbour. The F.C. were paid their wages in specie, that is coin or money, which here is a symbol for knowledge, because knowledge, like money, increases with usage and exchange. This exchange of knowledge enables us to compare -- to compare what we know with what our neighbour knows. The science of comparison is arithmetic; its ciphers and measurements are but the means that it uses; and so arithmetic, the fourth step, symbolises the beginning of knowledge

Our acquisition of knowledge brings us to step number five, the predominating number of this Degree, and there we find geometry, which is established as the basis of our art. Geometry, the science of harmony in space, presides over everything. We find it in the arrangement of a fir cone, in the spiral of a snail shell, in the chaplet of a spider's web, and in the orbit of a planet. It is everywhere, as perfect in the world of atoms as in the world of immensities. The snowflake is a perfect example of the geometry of God: circles, triangles, pentagons, hexagons, and parallelograms, more exact and delicate than the deftest hand could trace. And this Universal Geometry tells us of a Universal Geometrician, whose divine compasses have measured all things, and so we realise that the development of the intellectual faculty is assuredly leading us even to the throne of God.

Then Geometry leads us to the next step, because music is the geometry of sound. Every note in the musical scale is exactly double the wavelength of the corresponding note in the preceding octave, and each note in a chord is in logarithmic progression. Music moves with measured step and cannot free itself from geometry without dying away in discord. Music is the concord of sweet sounds, and concord is all the law of God. Geometry brought us close to God, but music brings us closer still:

There is music in the sighing of the breeze;
There is music in the gushing of a stream;

There is music in all things, if men have ears;
This Earth is but an echo of the spheres.


Seven is the number of completion, and on the seventh and uppermost step we find astronomy by which we are taught to read the wisdom, power and goodness of the Grand Geometrician of the Universe in the wonder of the heavens. With the aid of astronomy we may observe the motions of the heavenly bodies; we may measure their distances, and calculate their periods and eclipses; but our finite minds may not even hope to comprehend the magnitude of God's handiwork. In the words of the poet, Dryden:

How can the less the greater comprehend?
Or finite reason reach infinity?

Reach infinity! We cannot even contemplate it. We can, however, extend our researches into the hidden mysteries of nature and science; so let us do just that, and merely contemplate the magnitude of God's handiwork, and see how far our finite mind can extend. For example to travel the enormous distance of 1 million kilometres would be to completely circle the earth 25 times, and if we could maintain a constant speed of 114 kilometres per hour, it would take us the whole year to complete the journey; and yet the speed of light is so great, that it can traverse 1 million kilometres in a fraction over three seconds. If we could travel at this impossible speed for just eight minutes, we would reach the sun, a distance of 154 million kilometres; but to reach the outer edge of our own home galaxy, the Milky Way, we would need to maintain this fantastic speed for 80,000 years. It is quite impossible, of course, for us to comprehend the extent of 80,000 years, having no experience with which to make a comparison; suffice it to say, that just one- tenth of that period would take us back to the year 6017 B.C., before the Nile Valley was settled by the people who would later build the pyramids, the oldest construction in the world. Then, when we consider that this galaxy, whose magnitude is so far beyond our comprehension, is just a tiny speck in the known universe, our finite mind is completely overwhelmed.

And beyond the known universe stretches the vaster unknown, of which we are but dimly aware through our most powerful modern telescopes receiving light that started on its journey before this planet was born. All this vaster than vast universe with its incalculable billions of stars, each many millions of times the size of this earth, moves and revolves in obedience to a great unseen power with a precision that is perfect. No! We can never hope to comprehend; but it is here on the seventh step of the winding staircase that we may really contemplate the wonderful works of the Almighty Creator.

As F.C. Freemasons we are expected to make the liberal arts and sciences our constant study, that we may better be enabled to discharge our duty as Freemasons, and estimate the wonderful works of the Almighty Creator. When we reach the uppermost step of the Winding Staircase, astronomy conducts us through the paths of heavenly science till we stand at the very foot of the throne of God, of which we are as yet granted but the merest glimpse.

The winding staircase leads us up
By steps of four plus three;
Four is of earth and three's divine,
A perfect unity.
First step is Grammar, and beyond
There follow orderly
Six other steps until on high,
We find Astronomy.
And as we climb step after step,
One thing is plain to see;
It is the greatest symbol,
In the Fellowcraft Degree.

We tread its steps one by one, ever onward, ever upward, without moving away from the centre, that point from which we cannot err; with our horizons ever widening, but the way ahead always out of sight. Then we reach the door of the Middle Chamber, which we find open. It is open only because the experience of the climb has trained our mind to see God in His Universe; and so we enter and find the letter "G".

Brethren, it is only by climbing these stairs -- it is only by developing the intellectual faculty -- that we may reach the summit and find the letter "G" in the Middle Chamber. That is to find God in our own heart, and be filled with a consciousness of His infinite wisdom, of His incomprehensible power. His boundless love and mercy, and the awesome eternity of the time and space of His Universe. When we can do this, we have completed our journey through the Second Degree. It is then, and only then, that we can claim to be Fellowcraft Freemasons.

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"As it is the hope of reward that sweetens labour, where did our ancient Brethren go to receive their wages?"

"into the middle chamber of King Solomon's Temple."

And where was the middle chamber? To answer that question it is necessary to explain the architecture of the Temple, and the compilers of our ritual, somewhere between 1611 and 1881, obviously took many of these things from the Authorised Version of the Bible. However, I will do that from the Revised Standard Version, which is much more reliable, and point out the differences between them as we go. The Authorised Version was published in 1611; the Revised Standard Version in 1881.

The architecture of the Temple is explained in the First Book of Kings, so let us begin at Verse 2 in chapter 6: "The house which King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty cubits wide and thirty cubits high." Using present day units of measurements we can now give the size as approximately 30 metres long, 10 metres wide and 15 metres high. Our immediate reaction is that it was not a very large structure. That is quite correct, but we must remember that the congregation did not enter that Temple, but performed their worship in the inner court to the East of the Temple. Actually, the Temple was a little larger than those measurements, as you will soon see Moreover, it was not its size, but its magnificence which so distinguished the Temple.

Verse 3: "The vestibule in front of the nave was twenty cubits long, equal to the width of the house, and ten cubits deep in front of the house." So the vestibule, or porch, as it is called in the Authorised Version and in our ritual, was the full width of the Temple, and five metres out of the total length of 30 metres, leaving 25 metres still to be accounted for.

As verse 4 merely describes the windows we will omit that and proceed to the next verse.

Verse 5: "He also built a structure against the wall of the house, running round the walls of the house, both the nave and the inner sanctuary, and he made side chambers all round." We see from this verse that the outside of the building was actually greater than 30 metres by 10 metres, as these side chambers added to both the length and the width. When the text says "all around" that, of course, would add to both sides and to the back.

Verse 6: (Here we find a description of the side chambers): "The lowest story was five cubits broad, the middle one was six cubits, and the third was seven cubits broad; for around the house he made offsets on the wall in order that the supporting beams should not be inserted into the walls of the house." The important thing we have to learn from this verse is that the side chambers were three storeys high, of which there is further proof.

Verse 7: This verse we have already quoted in the "Journey through the First Degree", but, as we are now reading from the Revised Version, let us repeat it: "When the house was built, it was with stone prepared in the quarry; so that neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard in the house while it was being built."

Verse 8: "The entrance to the lowest storey was on the south side of the house, and one went up by stairs to the middle storey, and from the middle into the third." The Authorised Version translates "middle chamber" instead of "Lowest storey", "right side" instead of "south side", "winding stairs" instead of "stairs", and "middle chamber" instead of "middle storey". If the next floor above the ground floor was the middle storey, then those side chambers were definitely three storeys high.

I will omit verse 9 as it is irrelevant, and just quote seven words in Verse 10: "each storey was five cubits high". This means that the side chambers were three times 2.5 metres, which is 7.5 metres or 2.5 metres lower than the main or central part of the building.

From there we pass over five verses to Verse 16, which tells us: "He built twenty cubits of the rear of the house with boards of cedar from the floor to the rafters, and he built this within as an inner sanctuary as the most holy place." In our ritual we refer to this "inner sanctuary" as the "Sanctum Sanctorum", Latin words which mean "holy of holies".

Verse 17 tells us: "The house, that is the nave in front, was forty cubits long". If the whole length is 30 metres, less the 10 metres of the inner sanctuary, then the remaining 20 metres must include the 5 metres of the vestibule, leaving 15 metres for the "holy place" which was between the inner sanctuary and the vestibule.

Verse 20 repeats the dimensions of the inner sanctuary but mentions also the height of the inner sanctuary as twenty cubits, which is about 10 metres, or two-thirds of the height of the building.

So we see from all this that the winding stairs were not in the vestibule as depicted on the vast majority of our Tracing Boards, but in the side chambers, which were reached by a door leading from the vestibule. This door we refer to in the Second Tracing Board with the words: "they got there by the porchway or entrance on the south side". Thus we see that this entrance was on the south side of the vestibule, and not on the south side of the Temple. Then to get to the "middle chamber" or second storey, one had to enter the Temple through the only entrance, which was between the pillars on the east, turn left, pass through the arch, and climb the stairs to that floor. The Tracing Board in No. 4 Lodge Room in our Masonic Centre in East Melbourne is the best I know, although those in rooms 5, 6 and 7 are also good. This Tracing Board, however, depicts the stairs as spiral, which seems very doubtful to me: winding stairs, yes, but I do not believe that spiral stairs were built nearly three thousand years ago.

However, there are some other things in the Second Tracing Board, which really need some explanation.

"The height of these pillars was seventeen cubits and a half each." Our word "cubit" is derived from the Latin word cubitas, meaning "elbow", because the length of the forearm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger is the length of a cubit, which on the average man is about 45 centimetres. That makes the pillars about 7.9 metres high.

"They were made of molten brass". These words have obviously been taken from the Authorised Version of the Bible, because brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. The latter was unknown in those days, whereas bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, and it is known that Phoenicians operated a tin mine in Cornwall. a mine which is still yielding tin to this day. As Tyre was the chief city of Phoenicia, it was Phoenician craftsmen that were sent by Hiram, King of Tyre, to Solomon for the building of the Temple. We read in the First Book of Kings 7:15: "For he cast two pillars of brass." In the Revised Standard Version this is changed to: "For he cast two pillars of bronze."

With the weight of 8.41 grams per cubic centimetre, it is easy enough to calculate that their weight would be nearly 40 tonnes each. To cast them in one piece would greatly tax the capacity of the most modern foundry. Hence we must assume that they were cast in sections and assembled on the site.

According to the book Timna by Beno Rothenberg, (Thames and Hudson, 1972), the copper for this bronze was mined in Mount Timna, near the Wadi Araba south of the Dead Sea. Archaeologists have proved that these mines have been operated for over six thousand years and they are still yielding copper today.

"They were cast in the plain of Jordan, in the clayground between Succoth and Zeredatha". This would place their casting near the junction of the Jabbok and the Jordan rivers, the latter of which flows into the Dead Sea.

"They were further adorned with two spherical balls". This would seem to be a flight of someone's imagination, as there is no mention of them in the Sacred Volume. The point has been made that in those days it was not known that the world was round. We cannot place too much reliance on that assumption, because Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the Earth rather exactly about 250 B.C., and according to the account of his action, it was merely to confirm a theory that was already held. "Spherical balls" look like a misunderstanding of the word "pommels" in the Second Book of Chronicles 4:12, where it means chapiters -- the head of the columns.

The kings of Israel were crowned in front of the South Pillar and the priests were anointed in front of the North Pillar.

"Here depicted by an ear of corn" Our Tracing Boards were designed by a man named Harris, who generally speaking, has done a very good job, as it is impossible to depict both inside and outside of the Temple, except in the ingenious manner to which I have already referred. Not knowing the Hebrew language, Harris asked for the meaning of the word, so that he could depict it on the Tracing Board, and when told that it was a homonym, that is a word with two distinct meanings, he adopted the obvious course, and depicted both meanings. I do take exception to the fall of water outside the main entrance to King Solomon's Temple, which stood on top of Mount Moriah. That other Tracing Board also surmounts that difficulty.

"Jephtha, the renowned Gileaditish general". Jephtha was a Gileadite in two ways. First, he was a descendant of Gilead, who was a grandson of Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob, and who became such a famous man in Egypt; and secondly, Jephtha's own father was named Gilead. He was his father's firstborn, but he was illegitimate, and his two stepbrothers, born in wedlock, one day drove him from the paternal abode. He journeyed to the land of Tob, where he eventually became famous as a soldier. Not long after he had left home the Gileadites were defeated in battle by the Ammonites, and after eighteen years of subjection the Gileadites sought the assistance of Jephtha to effect their liberation At first Jephtha attempted to raise an army from his own kinsmen, the Ephraimites, but, finding them unwilling, he raised his army without their aid. He not only defeated the Ammonites, but he took from them the valuable treasure as spoils of war. When the Ephraimites heard of this, they became covetous, and claimed a share of the spoil, with the result that Jephtha had to turn round and defend himself against his own kinsmen.

"Five hold a Lodge in allusion to the five noble orders of architecture". I have already mentioned four of these in the chapter entitled "The Three Great Pillars", but not in their correct order. They are the Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite; of these three are Grecian in development and two Roman. It is the three of Grecian origin -- the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian -- that are used in our Lodges.

Our Tracing Boards took the place of the old Trestle Board, which had been removed from the floor of the Lodge to the wall, and in older rituals, was known as the Tarsel Board.

"When our ancient Brethren were in the Middle chamber, their attention was peculiarly drawn to certain Hebrew characters, here depicted by a letter G, denoting God, the Grand Geometrician of the Universe." The Hebrew character that immediately comes to mind is the letter gimmel, the third letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It is in the form of a gallows square, as is also the letter gamma, the third letter of the Greek alphabet used by Pythagoras to denote "geometry".

Both gimmel and gamma have the same sound as the English letter G. Records show that in the early days after the formation of the Grand Lodge of England, when working the Second Degree, it was the custom to place a gallows square over the Blazing Star of Glory in the Centre, but somewhere since the gallows square has evidently been replaced by its English equivalent. The letter G has come to be closely associated with the Blazing Star, giving rise to the impression that the G denotes God. Actually the letter belongs strictly to the Fellowcraft Degree, and for this reason F.C. Freemasons were once known as "Letter G Men". In Freemasonry the letter G denotes geometry, just as it did in the system of Pythagoras. It does denote God, of course, but only in His role as Grand Geometrician of the Universe.

King Solomon's Temple is the theme of the whole of Craft Masonry, but more particularly in the Fellowcraft Degree, whose working tools are the Square, the Level, and the Plumb Rule, the instruments for squaring the stone and so perfecting it as to render it fit for the intended structure. We are the stones in this Temple, and every living stone should strive to become the perfect ashlar.

"The Temple made of wood and stone must crumble and decay, But there's an unseen fabric, which shall never pass away; Age after age the Masons strive to consummate the plan, But still the work's unfinished which our forebears began; None but immortal eyes may view, complete in all its parts, The Temple formed of living stones -- the structure made of hearts."

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With our minds modelled by virtue and science, the virtue of the First Degree, and the science, or knowledge, of the Second Degree, we are prepared for the sublime experience of the Third Degree in Freemasonry.

Man has a triple existence, inasmuch as he has a three-phased nature. He has a physical existence, as do all other animals, but man differs from other animals in that he has a mental or intellectual existence. He has also a soul, which though very real is intangible. Although we cannot see it or touch it, we can hear its voice, which we know as our conscience, although we often refer to it as our heart. In our ritual it is called the "voice of nature".

Thus, in the Sublime Degree, the degree of the soul, the Lodge is opened on the Centre, that point from which we cannot err. We may ignore our conscience, we may even try to stifle it, and a man may become so hardened that its voice is barely audible, but it is still there, telling us right from wrong, and it will never deceive us, for it is that point within the centre from which we cannot err.

Seven is the number of completion or perfection; three is the spiritual number and four is the earthly number, and when the two combine we get Seven, the perfect number, and so in the Third Degree the candidate advances to the East by seven steps, which are divided into three and four. The three spiritual steps are taken slowly and reverently; the other four are bold or marching steps.

Our journey through the Third Degree must necessarily begin, as does the degree itself, by a retrospect or resume of the degrees which we have already passed, that we may the better be enabled to distinguish and appreciate the connection of our whole system, and the relative dependence of its several parts. As we approach to God in each of the three degrees, representing the three phases of our nature, we are able to view the whole Masonic structure from each of these three angles, and so gain a complete conception of the unique Masonic philosophy.

Our first journey is symbolised by Jacob's Ladder, composed of many staves or rounds, pointing out as many moral virtues. The three principal ones are Faith, Hope and Charity. Faith must necessarily be the first step in any approach to God, and without Hope our journey would cease, but Charity, that sublime virtue derived from an emulation of God's love for man, must be our ultimate aim in the First Degree.

Our Divine Creator so loves man that he accepts love of our fellow man, brotherly love, as love for himself, a truth beautifully portrayed in a poem by James Leigh Hunt:

"Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold.
Now exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said:
'What writest thou?' The vision raised its head,
And with a look made all of sweet accord,
Answered:'The names of those that love the Lord'.
'And is mine one?' asked Abou.'Nay, not so.
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still and said:'l pray thee then,
Write me as one who loves his fellow men.
The angel wrote and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo, Ben Adhem's name led all the rest."

Our second journey is symbolized by the Winding Stair, portraying our mental approach to God. By developing our intellectual faculty, we may the better be enabled to discharge our duty as Freemasons and to estimate the wonderful works of the Grand Geometrician of the Universe, knowing that, although we may observe the motions of the heavenly bodies, measure their distance and calculate their periods and eclipses, we may not even hope to comprehend the magnitude of God's handiwork.

Aristotle's principles remained unchallenged until Galileo appeared on the scene, but his findings were outdated by Newton, and when we thought that we had arrived at the ultimate truth, Einstein recast our thinking with revolutionary discoveries. How can we know when we have arrived at the ultimate truth? We can never know. Ultimate truth belongs to God alone. Man's knowledge is much too frail a reed on which to lean, notwithstanding that the main aim and purpose of knowledge is to enable us to appreciate the wonderful works of the Almighty Creator.

We know from archaeological discoveries that the ancient Egyptians had worked out the relationship between the radius and circumference, and used it in their calculations; that they had an accurate knowledge not only of the motion of the earth in relation to the sun and moon, but of all the planetary system; that they had compiled a correct calendar, based on a full knowledge of the motion of the earth; in fact, nothing is more astonishing to those who study the records of the past than the knowledge of science which these ancient Egyptian priests possessed.

Most of this knowledge, of course, was lost with the fall of Egypt, but much of it has been rediscovered, though only in the last few hundred years, and even then the world little knew that it had all been known so long ago by these ancient Egyptian astronomers and left written in signs and symbols on stones and papyri, which we are now enabled to decipher and read.

Modern astronomers have calculated the period of the Sun's orbit to be 25,827 years and now our archaeologists tell us that these ancient Egyptians could have provided us with the precise figure.

About 250 years B.C., the ancient Greek mathematician Eratosthenes was in Syene in the Egyptian province of Assuan at the time of the equinox. Knowing that he was on the tropic, he decided to measure the angle of the sun at mid-day. He found that it was exactly ninety degrees as he had expected.

On the same day the following year, when he was back home in Alexandria, he made the same measurement. He now found that there was a variation of 7.2 degrees, which, of course, is the fiftieth part of a circle, indicating that the 500 miles between Syene and Alexandria must be the fiftieth part of the world's circumference. The resultant answer of 25,000 miles differs from our latest calculation by a mere thirty miles.

What happened to this knowledge? The world seems to have known nothing of this some two thousand years later, when Galileo was thrown into prison by the Inquisition for claiming that the world was round. One may sometimes wonder whether there are yet things to rediscover that were known thousands of years ago, and whether the vast wealth of knowledge that is ours today could too be lost. So much for the retrospect.

Our journey through this degree has hardly started before it seems to come to an abrupt end, when we arrive at the brink of the grave, but really it is far from finished, for, if our mind is ready, it is at this point that we should begin the important contemplative stage. If we will follow that course of contemplation, we will find that it is the greatest journey of the three. We can well say "if we will", because many who wear the badge of a Master Mason have yet to make this journey and thus become aware of the potential immortality of the soul of man.

How do we know that the soul of man can be immortal? We may have learned the lesson of the First Degree, and live in love and charity with our neighbour, but even so we will not receive the answer to this question. It will prove a slip. We may have learned the lesson of the Second Degree, and have developed our intellectual faculty even to perfection, but all the science and accumulated knowledge of mankind cannot reveal what awaits us on the other side of the grave. It will prove a slip likewise.

Science may attempt to dissect and analyse, but is forced to lay aside its instruments, unable to prove even that there is a soul.

Then Reason makes its attempt. Plato and Cicero endeavoured to prove through logic the immortality of the soul. its doubtful that their arguments convinced either others or themselves. It is the same with the modern psychologist; with all his fascinating studies on the workings of the human mind, his feeble light must flicker out on the brink of the grave. It proves a slip likewise.

There yet remains the sure grip of Faith, that virtue which we confessed at the very outset of our Masonic career; that virtue which enables us to ascend the first rung of Jacob's Ladder, the top of which reaches to the heavens. If man's spirit be immortal, then surely we seek in vain with the light of any earthly beam. Neither the rays of the sun, nor the light of human knowledge can penetrate that gloom, that darkness, that ignorance, which veils from our eyes all knowledge of a future life.

The eye of human reason cannot penetrate that mysterious veil unless assisted by that light which is from above. What is this light which is from above? To try to explain spiritual light to those who have not experienced it is like trying to explain physical light to a blind man, and to those who have the experience the explanation is, of course, quite unnecessary. Let us, therefore, not dwell on that point at this juncture, but attain our objective, I hope, another way and return to the point later. Suffice to say that spiritual light must be sought within. Just as the letter "G" is found in the Middle Chamber, we find God in our own soul -- symbolically speaking, in our own heart.

Just as the First Degree represents the dawn of day with its first gleam of light, and the Second Degree represents the fullness of day, when we must get all our work done, so we now find ourselves in the West, where the sun is sinking and we realise that darkness will soon be upon us.

Thus we stand on the brink of the grave and, peering across, as it were, to the other side, we realise that all beyond is veiled in darkness. But if this realisation leads us to really contemplate, then our darkness becomes so visible, that we come face to face with the mysterious veil. This is when the faith that was born in the First Degree, and developed in the Second, becomes that glimmering ray which enables us to penetrate the veil, and so, in contemplation, we pass right through the grave, and begin the most important stage of our journey.

This contemplation is our real journey through the Third Degree. If we have mastered the lessons of the other two degrees, we can make this journey through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and discover that we are not afraid to die, and the still, small, but insistent voice of the soul will not remind us in vain to remember now our Creator and to perform our allotted task while it is yet day.

This voice of the soul - this voice of nature - so insistently reminds us that it resides within this perishable frame, that, if we will only listen, it certainly will inspire a holy confidence, that our Creator will enable us to conquer death, or in the more poetic words of the ritual "that the Lord of Life will enable us to trample the king of terrors beneath our feet, and lift our eyes to that bright morning star."

What bright morning star? The universe is composed of solar systems like our own, and each of these solar systems consists of a central sun with its circle of planets, and each of these central suns, like our sun, emits light. To us they are so many stars. Our sun is our star, and when it rises it is the morning star. As an unknown poet has written:

We contemplate when the sun declines
Our death in deep reflection,
And when again it rising shines,
Our day of resurrection.

We watch that sun set with the fullest possible confidence that it will rise again tomorrow, and if we have been among the faithful and obedient of the human race - if we have been successful in each of our other two journeys - then we can contemplate our own setting with that same confidence; that is: "we may lift our eye to that bright morning star, whose rising brings peace and tranquillity to the faithful and obedient of the human race."

Our contemplation of the Emblems of Mortality reminds us that our dust must return to the earth whence it came but our faith in the Fatherhood of God insists on the immortality of the soul, and assures us that our spirit will return to God who gave it. This is to believe that the soul of man is a tiny spark of the Divine Being, and can therefore never die, and will be at peace only when in perfect harmony with its divine source.

"Man is the measure of all things," said the ancient sage, Pythagoras, "but man himself in the higher reaches of his being cannot be measured. He is like an inlet of the sea; looking landward it is limited; looking seaward it is linked with the infinite.

"I think God's thoughts after Him," said Kepler, the famous German astronomer, several centuries ago as he looked through his telescope to the stars. This is true of all human thinking, all noble living, all upleaping aspiration. Truly He that made us set eternity in our hearts and restless we must remain, until we find reunion with His will, in which is our only peace.

In his well-known book, The Builders, from which I have already freely quoted, Dr. Joseph Fort Newton asks us to consider what it means to say that the soul of man is akin to the Eternal soul of the Universe. It means that we are not just shapes of mud placed here by chance, but sons of the Most High, citizens of Eternity, deathless as God our Father is deathless, and that there is placed upon us an abiding obligation to live in a manner worthy of the dignity of an eternal soul.

And so we see that what a man thinks, the purity of his feelings, and the character of his activity and career, are of vital and ceaseless concern to the Eternal. Here is a philosophy that lights up the world like a sunrise, confirming the dim dumb certainties of the soul, evolving meaning out of mystery and hope out of what would else be endless despair. It brings out the colours of human life, investing our fleeting mortal years - brief at their longest and broken at their best - with enduring significance and beauty. It gives to each of us, however humble and obscure, a place and a part in this stupendous plan; it makes us fellow workers with the Eternal in his redemptive making of humanity, and it binds us to seek His will in every phase of our being.

This belief - this philosophy - this simple faith - based on the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of man, and the immortality of the soul, is that same light which is from above. It is this belief that enables us to trample the king of terrors beneath our feet, and make eternal plans for our soul; it is this belief that is the light of a Master Mason.

We will never really complete our journey through the Third Degree until the Almighty calls us to cease labour; until then we can make the journey only in contemplation. This very contemplation will teach us that the mysterious power of life that moves us now is an infinitesimal spark of that infinitely vast and utterly incomprehensible power that impels, controls, guides and rules the whole universe, in which time, and space - yes, and love - are eternal.

May we never betray our own soul, so that it may continue in harmony with the Divine Source whence it sprang; and when it has fulfilled its mission in this life, may it return to that same source to which it will ever belong. With the aid of this glimmering ray the soul now sees as through a glass darkly, but in the life to come, it will know, as St. Paul tells us, even as it is known.

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As a degree the Third is not much older than 250 years - the first recorded mention is in the year 1723 - but the Hiramic Legend, it seems, is much older than we realize. The Graham Manuscript, discovered as recently as 1936, records events of the thirteenth century, and mentions similar legends connected with Noah and Bezalel.

There are those that believe that the Hiramic Legend is derived from a Phoenician interpretation of the Egyptian legend of Isis and Osiris, and brought to England many centuries later by the Crusaders. There it remained suppressed, because of the domination of Masonry by the Church of Rome, which could not be expected to accept anything emanating from the Jews, whom they intensely hated for their crucifixion of Christ. According to this line of argument, the legend saw the daylight only as the domination of the Church waned; but there is, of course, no proof of this, even if it does sound feasible. Nevertheless, the Hiramic Legend is an indispensible part of Freemasonry, and the following Prestonian Lecture plants a beautiful thought in the mind of each of us, for we have all passed through the great Masonic ordeal. Here is the lecture, "Making of a Nation", by George Draffen (1966):

"During the ceremony of the Third Degree, which is so well named the Sublime Degree, you can hardly fail to have been impressed by the tragedy of Hiram Abif. To understand it, and to appreciate to the full its profound richness of meaning, is something that will remain with you as long as you live.

"Since the drama of Hiram Abif is ritualistic, it is a mistake to accept it as history. A ritualistic drama does not pay heed to historical individuals, times or places. It moves wholly in the realm of the spirit. The clash of forces, the crises and fates of the human spirit alone enter into it, and they hold true of all men everywhere, regardless of who they are or when or where. There was a Hiram Abif in history, but our Third Degree is not interested in him. Its sole concern is with a Hiram who is a symbol of the human soul, that is, its own Hiram Abif. If, therefore, you have been troubled with the thought that some of the events of the drama could not possibly have happened, you can cease to be troubled. It is not meant that they ever happened in ancient history, but that they are symbols of what is happening in the life of every man.

"For the same reason it is an inexcusable blunder to treat it as a mere mock tragedy. Savage peoples employ initiation ceremonies as an ordeal to test the nerve and courage of their young men, but Freemasonry is not savage. Boys at school often employ ragging, which is horseplay caricature of the savage ceremonial ordeals, but Freemasonry is not juvenile. The exemplification of our ritualistic drama is sincere, solemn and earnest. He who takes it trivially betrays a shallowness of soul, which makes him unfit ever to become a Mason.

"Hiram Abif is the actual symbol of the human soul, yours, mine, any man's. The work he was engaged to supervise is the symbol of the work you and I have in the supervision, organization and direction of our lives from birth to death. The enemies he met are none other than the symbols of those lusts and passions, which are in our own breasts, or in the breasts of others, and make war on our character and our life. His fate is the same fate that befalls every man who becomes a victim to those enemies: to be interrupted in one's work, to be made outcast from the lordship (or mastership) over one's own self and, at the end, to become buried under all manner of rubbish -- which means defeat, disgrace, misery and scorn. The manner in which he was raised from that dead level to that living perpendicular again is the same manner by which any man, if it happens to all, rises from self-defeat to self-mastery. And the Sovereign Great Architect, by the power of whose word Hiram Abif was raised, is that same God in whose arms we ourselves forever lie, and whose mighty help we also need to raise us out of the graves of defeat, or evil, and death itself.

"Did you ever wonder, while taking part in that drama, why you were personally made to participate in it? Why you were not permitted to sit as a spectator?

"You were made to participate in order to impress upon you that it was your drama, not another's there being exemplified. No man can be a mere spectator of that drama, because it takes place in his own soul. Likewise it was intended that your participation should itself be an experience to prepare you for becoming a Master Mason, by teaching you the secret of a Master Mason - which is that the soul must rise above its own internal enemies if ever a man is to be a Master Mason in reality as well as in name. The reality of being a Master Mason is nothing other than to be a master of one's own self.

"Did you wonder why it was that the three enemies of Hiram Abif came from his own circle, and not from outside? It is because the enemies to be most feared are always from within, and are ignorance and sins. As the Sacred Volume reminds us, it is not that which has power to kill the body that we need to shun, but that which has power to destroy the spirit.

"Did you wonder why it was that after Hiram Abif was slain there was so much confusion in the Temple? It was because the Temple is the symbol of a man's character, and therefore breaks and falls when the soul, its architect, is rendered helpless, because the craftsmen are symbols of our powers, and they fall in anarchy when not directed and commanded by the will at the centre of our being.

"And did you wonder why the Lodge appeared to neglect to explain this ritualistic drama to you at the end of the Degree? It was because it is impossible for one man to explain the tragedy of Hiram Abif to another. Each must learn for himself, and the most we can obtain from others is just such hints and scattered suggestions as these now given to you. Print the story of Hiram Abif upon your mind, ponder upon it; when you yourself are at grips with your enemies recall it and act according to the light you find in it. By doing so you will find that your inner self will give in the form of first-hand experience that which the drama gave you in the form of ritual. You will be wiser and stronger for having the guidance and the light the drama can give to you."

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