F. & A.M.
2 B 1 ASK 1
RULE AND LINE
"The rule directs that we should punctually observe our duty and press forward in the path of virtue, neither inclining to the right or left. The line teaches moral rectitude, to avoid dissimulation in conversation and action, and to direct our steps in the path which leads us to immortality. The plumb admonishes us to walk uprightly in our station, to hold the scales of justice in equal poise. The Square and compasses are emblematical of the mathematical sciences and useful arts." (A. Lewis, London).
"Every crime against our laws, every sin against decency and morality, every sharp practice against square dealing in business, is a serious reflection on the Masonic Lodge, in the neighborhood in which it is committed. Masonry should not take the pure principles of morality and preserve them in the walled up seclusion of lodge halls, like as we preserve fruit and vegetables and keep them in dark cellars for our own use; but our lodges and our lives should be as lighthouses, blazing out the truths of right living, to bless the community, state and nation, in which we have our being." (Milton Winham, P.G.M., Arkansas).
SOURCES OF LIBERTY
"Two-thirds of the Masons of the world are to be found in North America, and have built upon the sure foundation of a belief in God. Since France removed the Holy Writings from its altars and struck from its ritual all reference to the Bible and a belief in and dependence upon the Supreme Being it has practically stood still, Masonically. With one-third the population of the United States, its three rival Grand Lodges have less members under their obedience than a single American grand jurisdiction. We refuse to acknowledge anyone as a brother Mason who does not put his trust in God. We cannot substitute for this, vague platitudes concerning 'Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.' They have no comprehended the source from which true liberty springs." (Aldro Jenks, P.G.M., Wisconsin).
"The triangle with its three sides has played a great part In the traditions of Asia, in the philosophy of Plato, in Christianity; indeed in all religions and all mysteries. It has ever been regarded as the image of the Supreme Being. Neither the line nor two lines can represent a perfect geometrical figure. But three lines, by their juncture, form a triangle, the first, the primal perfect figure. This is one reason why it serves to symbolize the Eternal Who, infinitely perfect in His nature, is as the creator, the first being, consequently the first perfection. There are three essential degrees in Masonry, three secret words of three syllables each. There are three grand masters. There are three principal officers of a lodge. This continual reproduction of the number three, of which I have given only a few instances, is not accidental nor without profound meaning. The same is to be found in all the ancient mysteries." (M.W.G.M. Melvin M. Johnson, Roxbury, Mass., 1916).
"Col. Paul Revere was initiated in St. Andrew's Lodge, Boston, Mass., Sept. 4, 1760, and was Grand Master from December 12, 1794 to December 27, 1797. In a letter to the secretary of the Massachusetts Historical Society relating to the events of April, 1775, he said: 'We held our meetings at the Green Dragon tavern. We were so careful that our meetings should be kept secret that every time we met, every person swore upon the Bible, that they would not discover any or our transactions, but to Messr. Hancock, Adams, Doctors Warren, Church, and one or two more.'
" SECRECY "
Within proper bounds, Masons may and should welcome publicity. A secret society is one which seeks to conceal its existence and its objects. Freemasonry is not such a society and is secret only as to the obligations, means of recognition, ballots upon candidates and forms and ceremonies observed in conferring degrees. With the exception of those particulars, Masonry has no reservations from the public. As to everything else -- its design, its moral and religious tenets and the doctrines taught by it, the time and place of its meetings, the names of the officers of a Lodge and those belonging to it -- are all in no way secret and may be known by any one." (Committee on Publicity, Connecticut Grand Lodge).
The square as an emblem is geometrical and not mechanical in its origin according to authorities, who trace it back to the ancient Egyptians, who in solemn processions carried the cubit of justice, by which perpendiculars, right angles and squares might be laid our, its form being that of one arm of a square, with the inner end cut to an angle of 45 degrees.
"The close analogy between justice and that which is perfectly upright is so obvious as to have become universal. The terms 'an upright man' and a 'just man' are in nearly all languages synonymous, hence the scriptural phrases: 'The way of the just is uprightness; thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just;' 'He that walketh uprightly' and the admonition 'to walk uprightly before God and man.' Besides this, the square was used in Egypt to redetermine the boundaries of each man's possessions when, as frequently happened, the landmarks were swept away by the inundation of the Nile, thus recovering to every man his just rights. The Egyptian land-measure itself was an aroura or a square, containing one hundred cubits.
"The square representing the fourth part of a circle, has a direct allusion to division of the ecliptic and celestial equator into four equal parts, indicative of the solstitial and equinoctial points, and the division of the year into four seasons. By it we are also enabled to divide the circle of the horizon into quadrants, and by the aid of the sun in the south to correctly mark out the four cardinal points of the compass. In not only geometry, but astronomy also, the use of the right angle is indispensible.
OLD TRACING BOARDS
To the Masonic student reviewing changes which have taken place in forms and ceremonies during the past 200 years, the old tracing boards and charts furnish much that will repay scrutiny. The emblems of fidelity, and the sword pointing to a naked heart, are missing from the old tracing boards of the eighteenth century, and the number of steps of the winding stairs is seven in most cases. In some of the old tracing boards we find three windows as the three lights of a Lodge, and the "broached thurnel" as a substitute for the perfect ashlar. In the latter half of the 18th century the "ancients" displayed the operative tools on the floor of the Lodge; while the "moderns" used a drawing to illustrate them. The suspended key of the old tracing boards has no significance to the Mason unfamiliar with the ritual of the 18th century.
DECLINE OF ARCHITECTURE
"The human race has two books, two registers, two testaments -- architecture and printing, the Bible of stone and the Bible of paper. Up to the time of Gutenberg architecture was the chief and universal mode of writing. In those days, if a man was born a poet he turned architect. Genius scattered among the masses, kept down on all sides by feudality, escaped by way of architecture, and its Iliads took the form of cathedrals. From the moment that printing was discovered, architecture gradually lost its virility, declined and became denuded. Being no longer looked upon as the one all-embracing sovereign and enslaving art, architecture lost its power of retaining others in its service. Carving became sculpture; imagery, painting; the canon, music. It was like the dismemberment of an empire on the death of its Alexander -- each province making itself a kingdom." (Victor Hugo).
One of the subjects of great interest to the Masonic student is that of Mason's marks. These are found in great profusion both in the form of letters and geometrical designs, some of them apparently intended as proprietary marks, of the workmen who used them, and as symbolic marks. The first authentic documents on the regulation of marks are said to have been found in German ordnances in 1462. This does not prove, however, that there were not regulations preceding that date. One instance is known of a mark descended to the user from his father, who obtained it from the grandfather, "who received it from the Lodge." It is an odd fact that there is no reference in the Old Constitutions of England to proprietary marks, and this phase of the subject is shrouded in uncertainty. One of the subjects of great interest to the Masonic student is that of Mason's marks. These are found in great profusion both in the form of letters and geometrical designs, some of them apparently intended as proprietary marks, of the workmen who used them, and as symbolic marks. The first authentic documents on the regulation of marks are said to have been found in German ordnances in 1462. This does not prove, however, that there were not regulations preceding that date. One instance is known of a mark descended to the user from his father, who obtained it from the grandfather, "who received it from the Lodge." It is an odd fact that there is no reference in the Old Constitutions of England to proprietary marks, and this phase of the subject is shrouded in uncertainty.
"Thales of Miletus had been the first of the philosophers, the first to tread the ground of the interpretation of nature in principles of the understanding. He and the others of that early school though to find the elemental principle, one in air, another in water, another in fire, another in chaotic primeval matter. Then came Pythagoras with his teaching that number was the essence of all things. He and his school said that as the forms and proportions of all things are referred at last to number, so number is necessarily the principle of things. Not only, said they, is 1 the point, 2 the line, 3 the plane, and 4 the solid, but quality is 5, justice is 9, temperance but a number, fortitude a number, prudence a number. 'Their error lay in mistaking the symbol for the essence' " (M.W.G.M. Melvin M. Johnson, Roxbury, Mass., 1916).
THE SECRET PRINCIPLE
"It is singular that the philosophical historian, in tracing the progress of various peoples, and in noticing the institutions which served to develop their intellectual and moral capabilities, should have passed by, nearly, without note or comment, those remarkable associations, which, although working in silence and secrecy, achieved no mean or unimportant task, in the great work of human education, and social regeneration and advancement. The universal prevalence of the secret principle, in both ancient and modern times, is of itself a most significant fact, and of sufficient magnitude to arrest the attention of all earnest and intelligent minds. The secret institution could not have existed, as it has done, through all time, or at least since the dawn of civilization, enlisting the warmest sympathies of the purest and best of men -- the fathers of civilization, the chiefs of philosophy, and science, and art -- unless it had responded, in a degree at least to some of the most urgent and vital needs of humanity." (Philosophical History of Freemasonry, Arnold).
THE FIVE SENSES
The five senses may be defined as man's faculty for receiving impressions, and are the means by which he received his knowledge of the material world. Their proper use enables us to form just and accurate notions of the operations of nature, to provide sustenance for our bodies, to ward off danger, to enjoy the blessings which God has given us, and contribute to the happiness and comfort of others. Their improper use tends to impair our faculties and weakens our power to grow. Masonry urges us to make proper use of these senses and thereby attain to the fullness of true manhood. (C.C. Hunt, Iowa).
MORE ABOUT SYMBOLISM
Two features of Freemasonry are particularly prominent, its teachings of morality by means of symbolism, and the antiquity of its symbols.
A ritual was used in the Ancient Mysteries which many Masons believe to be predecessors of the Freemasonry of today, and from which many of our forms and ceremonies may have been either directly or indirectly derived. It contained a dialogue, darkness, light, death and resurrection. In the times in which the Ancient Mysteries flourished, the most important truths of science as well as morality were taught to the qualified and were veiled from the multitude by symbolic teaching.
The square and compasses used in China 500 B.C. as emblems of morality, and the tools of Speculative Masonry, found in the foundation of Cleopatra's Needle, are evidences of the age of Masonic symbolism. The Masons may have borrowed the symbolism of the original users and adapted it to the present as well as they could with limited knowledge of its original significance, or it may have come down to them through unbroken sources.
SYMBOLS IN EGYPT
Ancient Egypt has ever been of interest to the student of Masonry. In ancient Egypt we find the building of temples and the teaching of character building by the use of symbols at an early period. We also find a legend that is of the most fascinating interest to every Mason. Our ancient brother, the great Pythagoras, is reputed to have receive the degrees of Masonry in Egypt. The Greeks borrowed freely from the Egyptians, and the Eleusinian mysteries contain the same allegory of the resurrection to a future life as those of Persia and Egypt, with modified detail. In the foundation of Cleopatra's Needle in 1879 were found a rough ashlar, a perfect ashlar, a square, a trowel, a trestle-board and a hieroglyph (meaning temple), all placed in such position as to show that they were used as symbols.
EARLY CHINESE PHILOSOPHY
In China the implements of architecture were used in a system of moral philosophy at a very early date. Mencius, who wrote about 300 B.C., said: "A master Mason, in teaching his apprentices, makes use of the compasses and the square. Ye who are engaged in the pursuit of Wisdom, must also make use of the compasses and the square." In a book called Great Learning, 500 B.C., we find that "A man should abstain from doing unto others what he would not they should do unto him; and this is called the principle of acting on the square."
ONE VERSION OF FREEMASONRY
After the Norman conquest, England was invaded by a perfect army of ecclesiastics; and churches, monasteries, cathedrals and abbeys were commenced in every part of the country. Where these buildings were being erected in towns the work could be undertaken by the local guild, but when they were far from the populous places a difficulty as experienced in procuring sufficient skilled labor. To meet this, it is supposed that many experienced members of the guilds were induced to sever their connection with the local body and accept service under the new ecclesiastical authority, thus becoming free from the restrictions and limitations to which they had previously bee subject, and henceforth being designated Freemasons.
The church building Freemasons, being a national organization whose members traveled throughout the length and breadth of the land, wherever employment was obtainable, off times found it impracticable to refer to their late employers for their character and qualifications. Hence arose the necessity for sign, token and word, with which our ancient brethren went to and fro. Whence came this sign, token and word? We do not know. We read of an assembly at York, 926 A.D., of which, however, no record remains. But there must have been a meeting held somewhere, at which regulations were adopted, which served to bind the brotherhood together for many generations (John A. Thorp, P.A. Gr. D.E., England).
THE MASON'S CHARACTER
Freemasonry has always been true to its name, and the real Mason is the builder of the temple of his own character. Its mission is to furnish high ideals for the individual, that may be reflected in his actions towards his fellow men. The Masonic ideal teaches that moral and spiritual attainments are far more important than the material and physical.
WHY WE MEET
We meet for the purpose of admitting members to our fellowship, to instruct them in the lessons and principles (of Masonry) and to strengthen each other in adherence thereto, said George W. Speth, in a public lecture in 1892. We meet to hand down to succeeding generations the knowledge and practice of certain ceremonies, which we have ourselves inherited from our Masonic ancestors, and the analogues of which can be traced in the remotest antiquity... Lastly we meet to practice our three grand principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.