INTRODUCTION TO FREEMASONRY
BY CARL H. CLAUDY
As battle-weary men long for the sea
Like tired children, seeking Mother's breast,
And in its restless endlessness find rest,
Its crashing surf a soothing systole;
As seeks the stormtossed ship the harbor's lee,
So mariners upon life's deep, hard-pressed
To weather boiling trough and mounting crest,
Steer for the shelter of Freemasonry.
Her ancient waves of sound lap on the strand,
A melody more God's than man's. We hear,
Like gentle murmurs in a curved sea shell
Which whispers of some far off wonderland
Where lightning flashes from blue skies and clear,
The rolling thunder of the ritual.
As the Entered Apprentice Degree as a whole is symbolic of
infancy and youth, a period of learning fundamentals, a
beginning, so the Fellowcraft Degree is emblematic of manhood.
But it is a manhood of continued schooling; of renewed research;
of further instruction. The Fellowcraft has passed his early
Masonic youth, but he lacks the wisdom of age which he can attain
only by use of the teachings of his first degree, broadened,
strengthened, added to, by those experiences which come to men as
distinguished from children.
Of the many symbols of this degree three stand out beyond all
others as most beautiful and most important. They are the brazen
Pillars; the Flight of Winding Stairs as a means of reaching the
Middle Chamber by the teachings of the three, the five, and the
seven steps; and the Letter "G" and all that it means to the
Very obviously the Fellowcraft Degree is a call to learning, an
urge to study, a glorification of education. Preston, (1) to whom
we are indebted for much of the present form of this degree,
evidently intended it as a foundation for that liberal education
which in its classic form was so esteemed by the educated of
Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century England. The explanations of
the Five Orders of Architecture, the Five Senses and the Seven
Liberal Arts and Sciences no longer embrace the essentials of a
first-class education, but think not less of the degree on that
account, since it is to be understood symbolically, not
literally, as the great Masonic scbolar may have intended.
While the degree contains moral teaching and a spiritual content
only surpassed by that of the Sublime Degree, as a whole it is a
call to books and study. If the Fellowcraft takes that to mean
Masonic books and Masonic study he will find in this degree the
touchstone which will make all three degrees a never-ending
happiness for their fortunate possessor.
(1) William Preston, born 1742, died 1818. A most eminent
Freemason of England who lived and labored during the formative
Grand Lodge period. He was initiated in 1762. Later he became
the Master of several lodges and was so interested in Freemasonry
that he studied it deeply and wrote Illustralions of Masonry, a
book to which historians and Masonic antiquarians are deeply
indebted. After careful investigation he wrote the lectures of
the several degrees, encouraged by the Grand Lodge, and later
became its Deputy Grand Secretary. The Prestonian work used in
the United States was modified and changed by Thomas Smith Webb,
born 1771, died 1819. He was elected Grand Master in Rhode
Island in 1813, but is best known for his Freemasons Monitor, or
Illustrations of Masonry. Much of the printed ritual in United
States jurisdictions is the same, or but little changed, from
that first printed by Webb in 1797.
Certain differences between this and the preceding degree are at
once apparent. The Entered Apprentice about to be passed is no
longer a candidate - he is a brother. In the first degree the
candidate is received with a warning; in the second, the brother
to be passed is received with an instruction. In the first
degree the cable tow was for a physical purpose; here it is an
aid, an urge to action, a girding up, a strengthening for the
Masonic life to come. The circumambulation of the Fellowcraft is
longer than that of the Apprentice: journey through manhood is
longer than through youth. The obligation in the Entered
Apprentice Degree stresses almost entirely the necessity for
secrecy; in the Fellowcraft Degree secrecy is indeed enjoined
upon the brother who kneels at the altar, but be also assumes
duties toward his fellows and takes upon himself sacred
obligations not intrusted to an Entered Apprentice. He learns of
the pass, and he is poor in spirit indeed who is not thrilled to
observe the slowly opening door which eventually will let in the
whole effulgent Light of the East, typified by the position of
the Square and Compasses upon the Volume of the Sacred Law.
A degree to muse upon and to study; one to see many, many times
and still not come to the end of the great teachings here
exemplified. Alas, too many brethren regard it as but a
necessary stepping-stone between the solemnities of the Entered
Apprentice's Degree and the glories of the Sublime Degree of
Master Mason. Stepping-stone it is, indeed, but he uses it with
difficulty and is assisted by it but little who cannot see behind
its Pillars a rule of conduct for life; who cannot visualize
climbing the Winding Stairs as the pilgrimage we all must make;
to whom the Middle Chamber is only a chamber in the middle and
for whom the Letter "G" is but a letter.
The Fellowcraft wears it so that it may be an aid to his journey;
by it a brother may assist him on his way. He also learns in
this degree that a cable tow is more than a rope; it is at once a
tie and a measurement.
How long is a cable tow? Thousands have asked and but a few have
attempted to reply. In much older days it was generally
considered to be three miles; that was when a brother was
expected to attend lodge whether he wanted to or not if within
the length of his cable tow.
Now we have learned that there is no merit in attendance which
comes from fear of fines or other compulsion. The very rare but
occasionally necessary summons may come to any Fellowcraft. When
it comes, he must attend. But Freemasonry is not unreasonable.
She does not demand the impossible, and she knows that what is
easy for one is hard for another. To one brother ten miles away
a summons may mean a call which he can answer only with great
difficulty. To another several hundred miles away who has an
airplane at his command it may mean no inconvenience.
Long before airplanes were thought of or railroad trains were
anything but curiosities, it was determined (Baltimore Masonic
Convention, 1843) that the length of a cable tow is "the scope of
a brother's reasonable ability."
Such a length the Fellowcraft may take to heart. Our gentle
Fraternity compels no man against his will, leaving to each to
determine for himself what is just and right and reasonable - and
The use of two words in the Fellowcraft's Degree is a relic of
antiquity and not a modern test to determine whether or not a
Mason heles (1) the true word of a Fellowcraft. We have more
accurate ways of knowing whether or not a would-be visitor comes
from a legitimate or clandestine lodge (2) than his knowledge of
There are clandestine or spurious Masons, but they are not
difficult to guard against. What all Fellowcrafts must be on
watch to detect is any quality of spuriousness in their own
Freemasonry. For there is no real Freemasonry of the lips only.
A man may have a pocket full of dues cards showing that he is in
good standing in a dozen different Masonic organizations; may be
(although this is rare) a Past Master, and still, if he has not
Freemasonry in his heart, be actually a spurious Mason.
(1) Hele: Masonically, rhymes with "fail." Often confused with
"hail," a greeting or recognition. Hele (pronounced "hail") is
to cover, to conceal. Is cognate with "cell," "hull," "hollow,"
"hell" (the covered place). In old provincial English, a "heler"
was one who covered roofs with tiles or slates. Compare "tiler."
(2) Clandestine: other than recognized, not legitimate. A few
clandestine Grand Lodges and subordinate bodies still exist in
this country, organizations calling themselves Masonic but
without descent from regular lodges or Grand Lodges, and without
recognition by the Masonic world.
Freemasonry is neither a thing nor a ritual. It is not a lodge
nor an organization. Rather is it a manner of thought, a way of
living, a guide to the City on a Hill. To make any less of it is
to act as a spurious Mason. If the lesson of the pass as
communicated in the degree means this to the Fellowcraft, then
indeed has he the lesson of this part of the ceremony by heart.
Every initiate should know something of the Grand Lodg, that
august body which controls the Craft.
Before a Craft lodge can come into existence now there must be a
Grand Lodge, the governing body of all the particular lodges, to
give a warrant of constitution to at least seven brethren,
empowering them to work and to be a Masonic lodge.
The age-old question which has plagued philosophers: did the
first hen lay the first egg, or did the first egg batch into the
first hen, may seem to apply here, since before there can be a
Grand Lodge there must be three or more private lodges to form
it! But this is written of conditions in the United States today,
not of those which obtained in 1717, when four individual lodges
in London formed the first Grand Lodge.
Today no regularly constituted lodge can come into being without
the consent of an existing Grand Lodge. Most civilized countries
now have Grand Lodges; the great formative period of Grand Lodges
- the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries - is practically over.
The vast majority of new lodges which will grow up as children of
the mother will not form other Grand Lodges for themselves. It
is not contended that no new Grand Lodges will ever be formed but
only that less will come into being in the future than have in
the past. (1)
The Grand Lodge, consisting of the particular lodges represented
by their Masters, Senior and Junior Wardens, and sometimes Past
Masters, as well as the officers, Past Grand Masters and Past
Grand Officers of the Grand Lodge, is the governing body in its
jurisdiction. In the United States jurisdictional lines are
coincident with state lines. Each Grand Jurisdiction is supreme
unto itself; its word on any Masonic subject is Masonic law
within its own borders.
A Grand Lodge adopts a constitution and by-laws for its
government which is the body of the law of the Grand
Judisdiction, which, however, rests upon the Old Charges and the
Constitutions which have descended to us from the Mother Grand
Lodge. The legal body is supplemented by the decisions made by
Grand Masters, or the Grand Lodge, or both, general regulations,
laws, resolutions and edicts of the Grand Lodge, all in accord
with the "ancient usages and customs of the Fraternity."
In the interim between meetings of a Grand Lodge the Grand Master
is the Grand Lodge. His powers are arbitrary and great but not
unlimited. Most Grand Lodges provide that certain acts of the
Grand Master may be revised, confirmed or rejected by the Grand
Lodge as a check upon any too radical
(1) When and if a forty-ninth State is admitted to the Union,
doubtless it will have its own Grand Lodge,
moves. But a brother rarely becomes a Grand Master without
serving a long and arduous apprenticeship. Almost invariably he
has been Master of his own lodge and by years of service and
interest demonstrated his ability and his fitness to preside over
the Grand Lodge. The real check against arbitrary actions of a
Grand Master is more in his Masonry than the law, more in his
desire to do right than in the legal power compelling him to do
Most Grand Lodges meet once a year for business, election, and
installation of officers. Some Grand Lodges (Massachusetts and
Pennsylvania, for instance) meet in quarterly communications.
All Grand Lodges meet in special communications at the call of
the Grand Master.
The Grand Lodge receives and disburses certain funds; these come
as dues from the constituent lodges, from gifts and bequests,
from special assessments, etc. The funds are spent as the Grand
Lodge orders; upon charity, the maintenance of the Home, the
expenses of the Grand Lodge, maintaining a Grand Secretary and
his office and staff, publication of Proceedings, educational
Most Grand Lodges also publish a manual or monitor of the
non-secret work of the degrees which may or may not also contain
the forms for various Masonic ceremonies such as dedication of
lodge halls, cornerstone laying, funeral service, etc. Most
Grand Lodges also publish a Digest or Code, which contains the
constitution, by-laws, and regulations of the Grand Lodge, and
the resolutions, edicts, and decisions under which the Craft
works. The interested Mason will procure these at his earliest
convenience that he may be well informed regarding the laws and
customs of his own jurisdiction.
The working tools of a Fellowcraft are the Plumb, the Square, and
the Level. The Entered Apprentice has learned of them as the
Immovable Jewels, but in the Fellowcraft's Degree they have a
double significance. They are still the Jewels of the three
principal officers, still immovably fixed in the East, the West,
and the South, but they are also given into the hands of the
Fellowcraft with instructions the more impressive for their
The tools represent an advance in knowledge. The Entered
Apprentice received a Twenty-four Inch Gauge and a Common Gavel
with which to measure and lay out a rough ashlar and chip off its
edges to fit a stone ready for the builders' use. But that is
all he may do. Not with gauge or gavel may be build; only
prepare material for another. He is still but a beginner, a
student; to his hands are intrusted only such tasks as if ill
done will not materially affect the whole.
The Fellowcraft uses the Plumb, the Square, and the Level. With
the Square he tests the work of the Apprentice; with the Level he
lays the courses of the wall he builds; with the Plumb he raises
perpendicular columns. If he use his tools aright he
demonstrates that he is worthy to be a Fellow of the Craft and no
Apprentice; that he can lay a wall and build a tower which will
Hence the symbolism of the three tools as taught in the
monitorial work. The Plumb admonishes us to walk uprightly; that
is, not leaning over, not awry with the world or ourselves, but
straight and square with the base of life on which we tread. We
are to square our actions by the Square of Virtue. Every man has
a conscience, be it ever so dead; every Freemason is expected to
carry the conscience of a Fellowcraft's Square of Virtue in his
breast and build no act, no matter bow small, which does not fit
within its right angle.
The operative Fellow of the Craft builds his wall course by
course, each level and straight. We build upon the level of
time, a fearsome level indeed. The Fellow of the Craft whose
wall stands not true on a physical level may take down his
stones, retemper his mortar and try again. But the Freemason can
never unbuild that which is erected on the level of time; once
gone, the opportunity is gone forever. Omar said, "The moving
finger writes, and having writ, moves on." The poet Oxenham
phrased it ... "No man travels twice the great highway which
winds through darkness up to light, through night, to day."
Therefore does it behoove the Fellowcraft to build on his level
of time with a true Plumb and a right Square.
In its interweaving of emblem with emblem, teaching with
teaching, symbol with symbol, Freemasonry is like the latticework
atop the Pillars in the Porch of King Solomon's Temple, the
several parts of which are so intimately connected as to denote
unity. Here the Plumb as a Jewel, the Plumb as a working tool of
the Fellowcraft, and the Heavenly Plumb in the hand of Jehovah,
as told in Amos vii, are so inextricably mingled that while
references to them occur in different parts of the degree,
symbolically they must be considered together.
"AMOS, WHAT SEEST THOU?"
Thus he shewed me; and behold the Lord stood upon a wall made by
a plumb line, with a plumb line in his liand. And the Lord said
unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, a plumb line. Then
said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumb line in the midst of my
people Israel; I will not again pass by them any more.
This passage from the Great Light is as much a part of the ritual
of the Fellowcraft's Degree as the 133rd Psalm is of the Entered
Apprentice's Degree, and has the same intimate connection with
the teachings of this ceremony.
The vital and important part is this: the Lord set a plumb line
in the midst of his people Israel. He did not propose to judge
them by a plumb line afar off in another land, in high heaven,
but here - here in the midst of them.
This is of intense interest to the Felloweraft Mason, since it
teaches him how he should judge his own work - and, more
important, how he should judge the work of others.
Presumably plumb lines hang alike. Presumably all plumbs, like
all squares and all levels, are equally accurate. Yet a man may
use a tool thinking it accurate which to another is not true. If
the tool of building and the tool of judging be not alike either
the judgment must be inaccurate or the judge must take into
consideration the tool by which the work was done.
By the touch system, a blind man may learn to write upon a
typewriter. If a loosened type drops from the type bar when the
blind man strikes the letter "e" he will make but a little black
smudge upon the paper. It is perfectly legible; in this sentence
every "e" but one has been smudged. Would you criticize the
blind man for imperfect work? He has no means of knowing that his
tool is faulty. If you found the smudges which stand for the
letter "e" in the right places, showing that he had used his
imperfect machine perfectly, would you not consider that he had
done perfect work? Aye, because you would judge by a plumb line
"in the midst" of the man and his work. If, however, the paper
with the smudged letters "e" were judged by one who knew nothing
of the workman's blindness, nothing of his typewriter, one who
saw only a poor piece of typing, doubtless he would judge it as
The builders of the Washington monument and the Eiffel Tower in
Paris both used plumb lines accurate to the level of the latitude
and longitude of these structures. Both are at right angles with
sea level. Yet to some observer on the moon equipped with a
strong telescope these towers would not appear parallel. As they
are in different latitudes they rise from the surface of the
earth at an angle to each other.
Doubtless he who engineered the monument would protest that the
monument to Washington was right and the French engineer's tower
wrong. The Frenchman, knowing his plumb was accurate, would
believe the monument crooked. But the Great Architect, we may
hope, would think both right knowing each was perfect by the
plumb by which it was erected.
The Fellowcraft learns to judge his work by his own plumb line,
not by another's; if he erects that which is good work, true
work, square work by his own working tools - in other words, by
his own standards - he does well. Only when a Fellowcraft is
false to his own conscience is he building other than fair and
CORN, WINE, AND OIL
The wages which our ancient brethren received for their labors in
the building of King Solomon's Temple are paid no more. We use
them only as symbols, save in the dedication, constitution, and
consecration of a new lodge and in the laying of cornerstones,
when once again the fruit of the land, the brew of the grape and
the essence of the olive are poured to launch a new unit of
brotherhood into the fellowship of lodges; to begin a new
structure dedicated to public or Masonic use.
In the Great Light are many references to these particular forms
of wealth. In ancient days the grapes in the vineyard, the
olives in the grove and the grain of the field were not only
wealth but the measure of trade; so many skins of wine, so many
cruses of oil, so many bushels of corn were then as are dollars
and cents to-day. Thus when our ancient brethren received wages
in corn, wine, and oil they were paid for their labors in coin of
The oil pressed from the olive was as important to the Jews in
Palestine as butter and other fats are among Occidentals.
Because it was so necessary and hence so valuable it became an
important part of sacrificial rites.
Oil was also used not only as a food but for lighting purposes
within the house, not in the open air where the torch was more
effective. Oil was also an article of the toilet; mixed with
perfume it was used in the ceremonies of anointment and in
preparation for ceremonial appearances. The "precious ointment
which ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard" was doubtless
made of olive oil suitably mixed with such perfumes and spices as
myrrh, cinnamon, galbanum and frankincense. Probably oil was
also used as a surgical dressing; nomadic peoples, subject to
injuries, could bardly avoid knowledge of the value of soothing
The corn of the Old Testament is not the corn we know. In the
majority of the uses of the word a more understandable
translation would be "grain." The principal grains of the Old
Testament days were barley and wheat and "corn" represents not
only both of these but all the grains which the Jews cultivated.
An ear of grain has been an emblem of plenty since the mists of
antiquity shrouded the beginnings of mythology. Ceres, goddess
of abundance, survives to-day in our cereals. The Greeks called
her Demeter, a corruption of Gemeter, our mother earth. She wore
a garland of grain and carried ears of grain in her hand.
The Hebrew Shibboleth means both an ear of corn and a flood of
water. Both are symbols of abundance, plenty, wealth.
Scarcely less important to our ancient brethren than their corn
and oil was wine. Vineyards were highly esteemed both as wealth
and as comfort - the pleasant shade of the vine and fig tree was
a part of ancient hospitality. Vineyards on mountain sides or
hills were most carefully tended and protected against washing by
terraces and walls, as even to-day one may see on the hillsides
of the Rhine. Thorn hedges kept cattle from the grapes. The
vineyardist frequently lived in a watchtower or hut on an
elevation to keep sharp look out that neither predatory man nor
beast took his ripening wealth.
Thus corn, wine, and oil were the wages of a Fellowcraft in the
days of King Solomon. Freemasons receive no material wages for
their labors, but if the work done in a lodge is paid for only in
coin of the heart such wages are no less real. They may sustain
as does the grain, refresh as does the wine, give joy and
gladness as does the oil. How much we receive, what we do with
our wages, depends entirely on our Masonic work. Our ancient
brethren were paid for their physical labors. Whether their
wages were paid for work performed upon the mountains and in the
quarries, or whether they received corn, wine, and oil because
they labored in the fields and vineyards, it was true then and it
is true now that only "in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat
bread." To receive the Masonic equivalent of the ancient corn,
wine, and oil, a brother must labor. He must till the fields of
his own heart or build the temple of his own house not made with
hands. He must give labor to his neighbor or carry stones for
his brother's temple.
If he stand and wait and watch and wonder, he will not be able to
ascend into the Middle Chamber where our ancient brethren
received their wages. If he works for the joy of working, does
his part in his lodge work, takes his place among the laborers of
Freemasonry, he will receive corn, wine, and oil in measures
pressed down and running over and know a fraternal joy as
substantial in fact as it is ethereal in quality; as real in his
heart as it is intangible to the profane world.
For all Fellowcrafts - aye, for all Freemasons - corn, wine, and
oil are symbols of sacrifice, of the fruits of labor, of wages
THE TWO PILLARS
And King Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. He was a
widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali, (1) and his father was a
man of Tyre, a worker in brass; and he was filled with wisdom,
and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass. And
he came to King Solomon, and wrought all his work. For he cast
two pillars of brass, of eighteen cubits (2) high apiece; and a
line of twelve cubits did compass either of them about....
And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple; and he set
up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin; and he
set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz. And
upon the top
(1) Pronounced Naf'tal-i.
(2) A cubit is approximately 18 inches.
of the pillars was lily work; so was the work of the pillars
finished. (I Kings vii, 13-22.)
Also he made before the house two pillars of thirty and five
cubits high, and the chapiter that was on the top of each of them
was five cubits. And he made chains, as in the oracle, and put
them on the heads of the pillars and made an hundred pomegranates
and put them on the chains. (II Chronicles iii, 15-16.)
From the dawn of religion the pillar, monolith or built-up, has
played an important part in the worship of the Unseen. From the
huge boulders of Stonehenge, among which the Druids are supposed
to have, performed their rites, through East Indian temples to
the religion of ancient Egypt, scholars trace the use of pillars
as an essential part of religious worship; indeed, in Egypt the
obelisk stood for the very presence of the Sun God himself.
It is not strange, then, that Hiram of Tyre should erect pillars
for Solomon's Temple. What has seemed strange is the variation in
the dimensions given in Kings and Chronicles; a discrepancy which
is explained by the theory that Kings gives the height of one and
Chronicles of both pillars together.
Of the ritualistic explanation of the two brazen pillars it is
not necessary to speak at length, since the Middle Chamber
lecture is quite satisfyingly explicit regarding their ancient
use and purpose. But their inner symbolic significance is not
touched upon in the ritual; it is one of the hidden beauties of
Freemasonry left for each brother to hunt down for himself.
It is a poor symbol that has but one meaning. Of the many
interpretations of the Brazen Pillars, two are here selected as
vivid and important.
The ancients believed the earth to be flat and that it was
supported by two Pillars of God, placed at the western entrance
of the world as then known. These are now called Gibraltar, on
one side of the Strait, and Ceuta on the other. This may account
for the origin of the twin pillars. However this may be the
practice of erecting columns at the entrance of an edifice
dedicated to worship prevailed in Egypt and Phoenicia, and at the
erection of King Solomon's Temple the Brazen Pillars were placed
in the porch thereof.
Some writers have suggested that they represent the masculine and
feminine elements in nature; others, that they stand for the
authority of Church and State, because on stated occasions the
high priest stood before one pillar and the king before the
other. Some students think that they allude to the two legendary
pillars of Enoch, upon which, tradition informs us, all the
wisdom of the ancient world was inscribed in order to preserve it
from inundations and conflagrations. William Preston supposed
that, by them, Solomon had reference to the pillars of cloud and
fire which guided the Children of Israel out of bondage and up to
the Promised Land. One authority says a literal translation of
their names is: "In Thee is strength," and, "It shall be
established," and by a natural transposition may be thus
expressed: "Oh, Lord, Thou art almighty and Thy power is
established from everlasting to everlasting."
It is impossible to escape the conviction that in meaning they
are related to religion, and represent the strength and
stability, the perpetuity and providence of God, and in
Freemasonry are symbols of a living faith.
Faith cannot be defined. The factors of mightiest import cannot
be caught up in speech. Life is the primary fact of which we are
conscious, and yet there is no language by which it can be fenced
in. No chart can be made of a mother's love; it is deeper than
words and reads in little, common things a wealth that is more
While we cannot define, we can recognize the power of faith. It
generates energy. It is the dynamics of elevated characters and
noble spirits, the source of all that bears the impress of
And we can realize its necessity. Without faith it would be
impossible to transact business. "It spans the earth with
railroads, and cleaves the sea with ships. It gives man wings to
fly the air, and fins to swim the deep. It creates the harmony
of music and the whir of factory wheels. It draws man up toward
the angels and brings heaven down to earth." By it all human
relationship is conditioned. We must have faith in institutions
and ideals, faith in friendship, family and fireside, faith in
self, faith in man, and faith in God.
Freemasonry is the oldest, the largest, and the most widely
distributed fraternal Order on the face of the earth to-day by
reason of its faith in God. At one end of the Second Section of
the Fellowcraft Degree are the Two Brazen Pillars - a symbol of
that faith; at its other end is the Letter "G", a livig sign of
the same belief.
But there is another interpretation of the symbolism. The
Entered Apprentice in process of being passed to the degree of
Fellowcraft passes between the pillars. No hint is given that
he should pass nearer to one than to the other; no suggestion is
made that either may work a greater influence than the other. He
merely passes between.
A deep significance is in this very omission. Masons refer to
the promise of God unto David; the interested may read Chapter
vii of II Samuel for themselves, and gather that the
establishment promised by the Lord was that of a house, a family,
a descent of blood from David unto his children and his
The pillars were named by Hiram Abif; those names have many
translations. Strength and establishment are but two; power, and
wisdom or control, fit the meaning of the words as well.
Used to blast stumps from fields dynamite is an aid to the
farmer. Used in war it kills and maims. Fire cooks our food and
makes steam for our engines; fire also burns up our houses and
destroys our forests. But it is not the power but the use of
power which is good or bad. The truth applies to any power;
spiritual, legal, monarchial, political, personal. Power is
without either virtue or vice; the user may use it well or ill,
as he pleases.
Freemasonry passes the brother in process of becoming a
Fellowcraft between the pillar of strength - power; and the
pillar of establishment - choice or control. He is a man now and
no minor or infant. He has grown up Masonically. Before him are
spread the two great essentials to all success, all greatness,
Like any other power - temporal or physical, religious or
spiritual - Freemasonry can be used well or ill. Here is the
lesson set before the Fellowcraft; if he like David would have
his kingdom of Masonic manhood established in strength he must
pass between the pillars with understanding that power without
control is useless, and control without power, futile. Each is a
complement of the other; in the passage between the pillars the
Fellowcraft not only has his feet set upon the Winding Stairs but
is given - so he has eyes to see and ears to hear - secret
instructions as to how he shall climb those stairs that he may,
indeed, reach the Middle Chamber. He shall climb by strength,
but directed by wisdom; he shall progress by power, but guided by
control; he shall rise by the might that is in him, but arrive by
the wisdom of his heart.
So seen the pillars become symbols of high value; the initiate of
old saw in the obelisk the very spirit of the God he worshiped.
The modern Masonic initiate may see in them both the faith and
the means by which be may travel a little further, a little
higher toward the secret Middle Chamber of life in which dwells
the Unseen Presence.
The "world celestial and the world terrestrial" on the brazen
pillars were added by comparatively modern ritual makers.
Solomon knew them not, although contemporaries of Solomon
believed the earth stood still while a hollow sphere with its
inner surface dotted with stars revolved about the earth. The
slowly turning celestial sphere is as old as mankind's
observations of the starry decked heavens.
It is to be noted that both terrestrial and celestial spheres are
used as emblems of universality. This is not mere duplication
for emphasis; each teaches an individual part of universality.
What is called universal on the earth - as for instance the
necessity of mankind to breathe, drink water and eat in order to
live - is not necessarily universal in all the universe. We have
no knowledge that any other planet in our solar system is
inhabited - what evidence there is is rather to the contrary. We
are ignorant of any other sun which has any inhabited planets in
its system. If life does exist in some world to us unknown, it
may be entirely different from life on this planet. A symbol of
universality which applied only to the earth would be a
Real universality means what it says. It appertains to the whole
universe. A Mason's charity of relief to the poor and distressed
must obviously be confined to this particular planet, but his
charity of thought may, so we are taught, extend "through the
boundless realms of eternity."
The world terrestrial and the world celestial on our
representations of the pillars, in denoting universality, mean
that the principles of our Order are not founded upon mere
earthly conditions and transient truths, but rest upon divine and
limitless foundations, coexistent with the cosmos and its
THE WINDING STAIRS
Like so much else in Freemasonry the Middle Chamber is wholly
symbolic. It seems obvious that Solomon the Wise would not have
permitted any practice so time wasting and uneconomic as sending
many thousand workmen up a flight of stairs to a small Middle
Chamber to receive corn, wine, and oil which had to be brought up
in advance, only to be carried down in small lots by each workman
as he received his wages.
If we are to accept the Scriptural account of the Temple as
accurate, there actually were winding stairs. "And they went up
with winding stairs into the middle chamber" is stated in I
Kings. That the stairs had the three, five, and seven steps by
which we rise is not stated in the Scriptures. Only in this
country have the Winding Stairs fifteen steps. In older days the
stairs had but five, sometimes seven steps. Preston had
thirty-six steps in his Winding Stairs in a series of one, three,
five, seven, nine, and eleven. But this violated a Pythagorean
principle - and Freemasonry has adopted much in its system from
the science of numbers as exemplified by Pythagoras as the
Fellowcraft will discover when - if - he receives the Sublime
The great philosopher Pythagoras taught that odd numbers were
more perfect than even; indeed, the temple builders who wrought
long before Pythagoras always built their stairs with an odd
number of steps, so that, starting with the right foot at the
bottom the climber might enter the sacred place at the top with
the same foot in advance. Freemasonry uses only odd numbers,
with particular reliance on three: three degrees, three principal
officers, three steps, three Lesser Lights, and so on.
Hence the English system later eliminated the number eleven from
Preston's thirty-six, making twenty-five steps in all.
The stairs as a whole are a representation of life; not the
physical life of eating, drinking, sleeping and working, but the
mental and spiritual life, of both the lodge and the world
without; of learning, studying, enlarging mental horizons,
increasing the spiritual outlook. Freemasons divide the fifteen
steps into three, referring to the officers of a lodge; five,
concerned with the orders of architecture and the human senses;
and seven, the Liberal Arts and Sciences.
THE NUMBER THREE
The first three steps represent the three principal officers of a
lodge, and - though not stated in the ritual - must always refer
to Deity, of which three, the triangle, is the most ancient
Their principal implication here is to assure the Fellowcraft
just starting his ascent that he does not climb alone. The
Worshipful Master, Senior, and Junior Wardens are themselves
symbolic of the lodge as a whole, and thus (as a lodge is a
symbol of the world) of the Masonic world - the Fraternity. The
Fellowcraft is surrounded by the Craft. The brethern are present
to help him climb. In his search for truth, in his quest of his
wages in the Middle Chamber, the Fellowcraft is to receive the
support and assistance of all in the Mystic Circle; surely an
If we examine a little into the powers and duties of the
Worshipful Master and his Wardens, we may see how they rule and
govern the lodge and so by what means they may aid the
Fellowcraft in his ascent.
WORSHIPFUL (1) MASTER
The incumbent of the Oriental Chair has powers peculiar to his
station which are far greater than those of the president of a
society or the chairman of a meeting of any kind. President and
chairman are elected by the body over which they preside and may
be removed by that body. A Master is elected by his lodge but
can be removed only by the Grand Master (or his Deputy acting for
him) or Grand Lodge. The presiding officer is bound by the rules
of order adopted by the body and by its by-laws. A lodge cannot
pass by-laws to alter, amend, or curtail the inherent powers of a
Grand Lodges so differ in their interpretation of some of the
"ancient usages and customs" of the Fraternity that what applies
in one jurisdiction does not necessarily apply in another. But
certain powers of a Master are so well recognized that they may
be considered universal.
(1) Worshipful: greatly respected. The Wycliffe Bible (Matthew
xix, 19) reads: "Worschip thi fadir and thi modir." The
Authorized Version translates "worschip" to "honor" - "honor thy
father and thy mother." In parts of England to-day one hears the
Mayor spoken of as Worshipful, the word used in its ancient
sense, meaning one worthy, honorable, to be respected.
"Worshipful" as applied to the Master of a lodge does not mean
that we should bow down to him in adoration as when used in its
ecclesiastical sense. We "worship" God, but not men. Our
Masters in being called "Worshipful" are but paid a tribute of
respect in the language of two or more centuries ago.
The Master may congregate his lodge when he pleases and for what
purpose he wishes, provided it does not interfere with the laws
of the Grand Lodge. For instance, he may assemble his lodge at a
special communication to confer degrees, at his pleasure; but he
must not disobey that requirement of the Grand Lodge which calls
for proper notice to the brethren, nor may a Master confer a
degree in less than the statutory time following a preceding
degree without a dispensation from the Grand Master.
The Master has the right of presiding over and governing his
lodge, and only the Grand Master or his Deputy may suspend him.
He may put any brother in the East to preside or to confer a
degree; he may then resume the gavel at his pleasure - even in
the middle of a sentence! But when he has delegated authority
temporarily the Master is not relieved from responsibility for
what occurs in his lodge.
It is the Master's right to control lodge business and work. It
is in a very real sense his lodge. He decides all points of
order and no appeal from his decision may be taken to the lodge.
He can initiate and terminate debate at his pleasure and can
propose or second any motion. He may open and close the lodge at
his pleasure, except that he may not open a stated communication
earlier than the hour stated in the by-laws. He is responsible
only to the Grand Master and the Grand Lodge, the obligations he
assumed when he was installed, (1) his conscience, and his God.
(1) Officers are seated in their chairs and assume the powers of
their offices by a ceremony of installation, following election
The Master has the right to say who may enter and who may leave
the lodge room. He may deny a visitor entrance; but he must have
a good and sufficient reason, otherwise his Grand Lodge will
unquestionably rule such a drastic step arbitrary and punish
accordingly. Per contra, if he permits the entry of a visitor to
whom some member has objected, he may also subject himself to
Grand Lodge discipline. In other words his power to admit or
exclude a visitor is absolute; his right to admit or exclude a
visitor is hedged about by the pledges he takes at his
installation and the rules of his Grand Lodge.
A very important power of a Master is that of appointing
committees. No lodge may appoint a committee. The lodge may
pass a resolution that a committee be appointed, but the
selection of that committee is an inherent right of the Master.
He is ex officio a member of all committees be appoints. The
reason is obvious; he is responsible to the Grand Master and the
Grand Lodge for the conduct of his lodge. If the lodge could
appoint committees and act upon their recommendations, the Master
would be in the anomalous position of having great
responsibilities, but no power to carry out their performance.
Only the Master may order a committee to examine a visiting
brother. It is his responsibility to see that no cowan or
eavesdropper comes within the tiled door. Therefore it is for
him to pick a committee in which he has confidence. So, also,
with the committees which report upon petitioners. He is
responsible for the accuracy, the fair-mindedness, the speed and
the intelligence of such investigations. It is, therefore, for
him to say to whom shall be delegated this necessary and
It is generally, not exclusively, held that only a Master can
issue a summons. In a few jurisdictions the lodge members
present at a stated communication may summons the whole
If he keeps within the laws, resolutions, and edicts of his Grand
Lodge on the one hand, and the Landmarks, Old Charges,
Constitutions and ancient usages and customs on the other, the
power of the Worshipfill Master is that of an absolute monarch.
His responsibilities and his duties are those of an apostle of
Wardens are found in all bodies of Masonry, in all rites, in all
Its derivation gives the meaning of the word. It comes from the
Saxon weardian, to guard, to watch. In France the second and
third officers are premier and second Surveillant; in Germany
erste and zwite Aufseher; in Spain primer and segundo Vigilante;
in Italy primo and secondo Sorvegliante, all the words meaning
one who overlooks, watches, keeps ward, observes.
Whether the title came from the provision of the old rituals that
the Wardens sit beside the two pillars in the porch of the temple
to oversee or watch, the Senior Warden the Fellowcrafts and the
Junior Warden the Apprentices, or whether the old rituals were
developed from the custom of the Middle Ages Guilds having
Wardens (watchers) is a moot question.
In the French Rite and the Scottish Rite both Wardens sit in the
West near the columns. In the Blue Lodge the symbolism is
somewhat impaired by the Junior Warden sitting in the South, but
is strengthened by giving each Warden, as an emblem of authority,
a replica of the column beneath the shade of which he once sat.
The column of the Senior Warden is erect, that of the Junior
Warden on its side, while the lodge is at labor. During
refreshment the Senior Warden's column is laid prostrate while
that of the Junior Warden is erected, so that by a glance at
either South or West the Craft may know at all times whether the
lodge is at labor or refreshment.
The government of the Craft by a Master and two Wardens cannot be
too strongly emphasized. It is not only the right but the duty
of the Senior Warden to assist the Worshipful Master in opening
and governing his lodge. When he uses it to enforce orders, his
setting maul or gavel is to be respected; he has a proper officer
to carry his messages to the Junior Warden or elsewhere; under
the Master he is responsible for the conduct of the lodge while
The Junior Warden's duties are less important; he observes the
time and calls the lodge from labor to refreshment and
refreshment to labor in due season at the orders of the Master.
It is his duty to see that "none of the Craft convert the
purposes of refreshment into intemperance and excess" which
doubtless has a bibulous derivation, coming from days when
refreshment meant wine. If we no longer drink wine at lodge, we
still have reason for this charge upon the Junior Warden, since
it is his unpleasant duty, when ordered by the Master or Grand
Master, because he supervises the conduct of the Craft at
refreshment, to prefer charges against those suspected of Masonic
Only Wardens (or Past Masters) may be elected Master. This
requirement (which has certain exceptions, as in the formation of
a new lodge) is very old. The fourth of the Old Charges reads:
No brother can be a Warden until he has passed the part of a
Fellowcraft; (1) nor a Master, until he has acted as Warden; nor
Grand Warden, until he has been Master of a Lodge; nor Grand
Master, unless he bas been a Fellowcraft before his election.
The Warden's is a high and exalted office; his duties are many,
his responsibilities great; his powers only exceeded by those of
THE NUMBER FIVE
Five has always been a sacred and mystical number; Pythagoras
made of it a symbol of life, since it rejected unity by the
addition of the first even and the first odd number. It was
therefore symbolic of happiness and misery, birth and death,
order and disorder - in other words, life as it was lived. Egypt
knew five minor planets, five elements, five elementary powers.
The Greeks had four elements and added ether, the unknown, making
a cosmos of five.
(1) At the time of the formation of the Mother Grand Lodge in
London (1717) the Fellowerafts formed the body of Masonry, as
Master Masons do to-day.
Five is peculiarly the number of the Fellowcraft's Degree; it
represents the central group of the three which form the stairs;
it refers to the five orders of architecture; five are required
to hold a Fellowcraft's Lodge; there are five human senses;
geometry is the fifth science, and so on.
In the Winding Stairs the number five represents first the five
orders of architecture.
Here for the first time the initiate is introduced to the science
of building as a whole. He has been presented with working
tools; he has had explained the rough and perfect ashlars, he has
heard of the house not made with hands; he knows something of the
building of the Temple. Now he is taught of architecture as a
science; its beginnings are laid before him; he is shown how the
Greeks commenced and the Romans added to the kinds of
architecture; he learns of the beautiful, perfect and complete
whole which is a well-designed, well-constructed building.
Here is symbolism in quantity! And here indeed the Fellowcraft
gets a glimpse of all that Freemasonry may mean to a man, for
just as the Freemasons of old were the builders of the cathedrals
and the temples for the worship of the Most High, so is the
Speculative Freemason pledged to the building of his spiritual
Temples are built stone by stone, a little at a time. Each stone
must be hewn from the solid rock of the quarry. Then it must be
laid out and chipped with the gavel until it is a perfect ashlar.
Finally it must be set in place with the tempered mortar which
will bind. But before any stone may be placed, a plan must come
into existence; the architect must plan his part. As the
Fellowcraft hears in the degree:
A survey of nature, and the observation of her beautiful
proportions, first induced man to imitate the divine plan, and to
study symmetry and order. This gave rise to society, and birth
to every useful art. The architect began to design, and the
plans which he laid down, improved by time and experience, have
led to the production of works which are the admiration of every
So must the Fellowcraft, studying the orders of architecture by
which he will erect bis spiritual temple, design the structure
before he commences to build.
There are five orders of architecture, not one. There are many
plans on which a man may build a life, not one only. Freemasonry
does not attempt to distinguish as between the Doric, Ionic, and
Corinthian as to beauty or desirability. She does suggest that
the Tuscan, plainer than the Doric, and the Composite, more
ornamental though not more beautiful than the Corinthian, are
less reverenced than the ancient and original orders.
Freemasonry makes no attempt to influence the Fellowcraft as to
which order of life building he shall choose. He may elect the
physical, the mental, the spiritual. Or be may choose the
sacrificial - "plainer than the Doric" or the ornamental, which
is "not more beautiful than the Corinthian." Freemasonry is
concerned less with what order of spiritual architecture a
Fellowcraft chooses by which to build than that he does choose
one; that he build not aimlessly. He is bidden to study symmetry
Architecture is perhaps the most beautiful and expressive of all
the arts. Painting and sculpture, noble though they are, lack
the utility of architecture and strive to interpret nature rather
than to originate. Architecture is not hampered by the necessity
of reproducing something already in existence. It may raise its
spires untrammeled by any nature model; it may fling its arches
gloriously across a nave and transept with no similitude in
nature to hamper by suggestion. If his genius be great enough,
the architect may tell in his structure truths which may not be
put in words, inspire by glories not sung in the divinest
So may the builder of his own house not made with hands, if he
choose aright his plan of life and hew to the line of his plan.
So, indeed, have done all those great men who have led the world;
the prophets of old, Pythagoras, Confucius, Buddha, Shakespeare,
Milton, Goethe, Washington, Lincoln ...
THE FIVE SENSES
If the Fellowcraft, climbing his three, five, and seven steps to
a Middle Chamber of unknown proportions, containing an unknown
wage, is overweighted with the emphasis put upon the spiritual
side of life, he may here be comforted.
Freemasonry is not an ascetic organization. It recognizes that
the physical is as much a part of normal life as the mental and
spiritual upon which so much emphasis is put.
The Fellowcraft Degree is a glorification of education, the
gaining of knowledge, the study of the Seven Liberal Arts and
Sciences and all that they connote. Therefore it is wholly
logical that the degree should make special reference to the five
means by which man has acquired all his knowledge; aye, by which
he will ever acquire any knowledge.
All learning is sense-bound. Inspiring examples have been given
the world by unfortunates deprived of one or more senses. Blind
men often make as great a success as those who see; deaf men
often overcome the handicap until it appears nonexistent. Helen
Keller is blind, deaf, and was dumb as well; all that she has
accomplished - and it would be a great accomplishment with all
five senses - has been done through feeling and tasting and
But take away all five senses and a man is no more a man; perhaps
his mind is no more a mind. With no contact whatever with the
material world he can learn nothing of it. As man reaches up
through the material to the spiritual, he could learn nothing of
ethics without contact with the physical.
If there are limits beyond which human investigations and
explorations into the unknown may not go, it is because of the
limitations of the five senses. Not even the extension of those
senses by the marvelously sensitive instruments of science may
overcome, in the last analysis, their limits.
Some objects are smaller than any rays we know except X-rays. If
it were possible to construct a microscope powerful enough to see
an atom, the only light by which it could be seen would be
X-rays. But the very X-rays which would be necessary to see it
would destroy the atom as soon as they struck it. In our present
knowledge, then, to see the atom is beyond the power of human
senses. If anything is beyond the power of eyes, even if aided
by the greatest magnification, then there must be truths beyond
the power of touch and taste and smell and hearing, regardless of
the magnification science may provide.
Except for one factor! Brute beasts hear, see, feel, smell, and
taste, as do we. But they garner no facts of science, win no
truths, formulate no laws of nature through these senses. More
than the five senses are necessary to perceive the relation
between thing and thing, and life and life. That factor is the
perception, the mind, the soul or spirit, if you will, which
differentiates man from all other living beings.
If the Fellowcraft's five steps, then, seem to glorify the five
senses of human nature, it is because Freemasonry is a
well-rounded scheme of life and living which recognizes the
physical as well as the mental life of men and knows that only
through the physical do we perceive the spiritual. It is in this
sense, not as a simple lesson in physiology, that we are to
receive the teachings of the five steps by which we rise above
the ground floor of the Temple to that last flight of seven steps
which are typical of knowledge.
THE NUMBER SEVEN
Most potent of numbers in the ancient religions, the number seven
has deep significance. The Pythagoreans called it the perfect
number, as made up of three and four, the two perfect figures,
triangle and square. It was the virgin number because it cannot
be multiplied to produce any number within ten, as can two and
two, two and three, and two and four, three and three. Nor can
it be produced by the multiplication of any whole numbers.
Our ancient ancestors knew seven planets, seven Pleiades, seven
Hyades, and seven lights burned before the Altar of Mithras. The
Goths had seven deities: Sun, Moon, Tuisco, Woden, Thor, Friga,
and Seatur or Saturn, from which we derive the names of the seven
days of our week. In the Gothic mysteries the candidate met with
seven obstructions. The ancient Jews swore by seven, because
seven witnesses were used to confirm, and seven sacrifices
offered to attest truth. The Sabbath is the seventh day; Noah
had seven days' notice of the flood; God created the heaven and
the earth in six days and rested on the seventh day; the walls of
Jericho were encompassed seven times by seven priests bearing
seven rams' horns; the Temple was seven years in building, and so
on through a thousand references.
It is only necessary to refer to the seven necessary to open an
Entered Apprentice's lodge, the seven original officers of a
lodge (some now have nine or ten or even more) and the seven
steps which complete the Winding Stairs to show that seven is an
important number in the Fraternity.
THE SEVEN LIBERAL ARTS AND SCIENCES
In William Preston's day a liberal education was comprised in the
study of grammar, rhetoric and logic, called the trivium, and
arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy, called the
quadrivium. Preston endeavored to compress into his Middle
Chamber lecture enough of these to make at least an outline
available to men who might otherwise know nothing of them.
In our day and times grammar and rhetoric are considered of
importance, but in a secondary way; logic is more or less
swallowed up as a study in the reasoning appropriate to any
particular subject; arithmetic, of course, continues its primary
importance; but from the standpoint of science, geometry and its
offshoots are still the vital sciences of measurement. Music has
fallen into the discard as part of a liberal education; it is now
one of the arts, not the sciences, and astronomy is so
interrelated with physics that it is hard to say where one leaves
off and the other begins. As for electricity, chemistry,
biology, civics, government, and the physical sciences, they were
barely dreamed of in Preston's day.
So it is not actually but symbolically that we are to climb the
seven steps. If the author may venture to quote himself: (1)
William Preston, who put so practical an interpretation upon
these steps, lived in an age when these did indeed represent all
knowledge. But we must not refuse to grow because the ritual has
not grown with modern discovery. When we rise by Grammar and
Rhetoric, we must consider that they mean not only language, but
all methods of communication. The step of Logic means a
knowledge not only of a method of
(1) "Foreign Countries," 1925.
reasoning, but of all reasoning which logicians have
accomplished. When we ascend by Arithmetic and Geometry, we must
visualize all science; since science is but measurement, in the
true mathematical sense, it requires no great stretch of the
imagination to read into these two steps all that science may
teach. The step denominated Music means not only sweet and
harmonious sounds, but all beauty - poetry, art, nature,
loveliness of whatever kind. Not to be familiar with the beauty
which nature provides is to be, by so much, less a man; to stunt,
by so much, a starving soul. As for the seventh step of
Astronomy, surely it means not only a study of the solar system
and the stars as it did in William Preston's day, but also a
study of all that is beyond the earth; of spirit and the world of
spirit, of ethics, philosophy, the abstract - of Deity. Preston
builded better than he knew; his seven steps are both logical in
arrangement and suggestive in their order. The true Fellowcraft
will see in them a guide to the making of a man rich in mind and
spirit, by which riches only can true brotherhood be practiced.
THE STAIRS WIND
Finally consider the implications of the winding stairs, as
opposed to those which are straight.
The one virtue which most distinguishes man is courage. It
requires more courage to face the unknown than the known. A
straight stair, a ladder, hides neither secret nor mystery at its
top. But the stairs which wind hide each step from the climber;
what is just around the corner is unknown. The winding stairs of
life lead us to we know not what; for some of us a Middle Chamber
of fame and fortune; for others, one of pain and frustration.
The Angel of Death may stand with drawn sword on the very next
step for any of us.
Yet man climbs.
Man has always climbed; he climbed from a cave man savagery to
the dawn of civilization; Lowell's
...brute despair of trampled centuries,
Leapt up with one hoarse yell and snapped its bands;
Groped for its right with horny, callous hands
And stared around for God with bloodshot eyes,
was a climbing from slavery to independence, from the brutish to
the spiritual. Through ignorance, darkness, misery, cruelty,
wrong, oppression, danger, and despair, man has climbed to
enlightenment. Each individual man must climb his little winding
stairs through much the same experience as that of the race.
Aye, man climbs because he has courage; because he has faith;
because he is a man. So must the Freemason climb. The winding
stairs do lead somewhere. There is a Middle Chamber. There are
wages of the Fellowcraft to be earned.
So believing, so, unafraid, climbing, the Fellowcraft may hope at
the top of his winding stairs to reach a Middle Chamber, and see
a new sign in the East ...
Its first reference is to the first and noblest of the sciences,
geometry. Geometry, the fifth of the Seven Liberal Arts and
Sciences, and astronomy, the seventh science, are so much a part
of each other that it is difficult to consider them separately;
indeed, the ritual of the letter "G" is as much concerned with
the study of the heavens as of the science of measurement alone.
By it we discover the power, the wisdom, and the goodness of the
Grand Artificer of the Universe and view with delight the
wonderful proportions of this vast machine. By it we discover
how the planets move in their respective orbits and demonstrate
their various revolutions.... Numberless worlds are around us,
all framed by the same Divine Artist, which roll through the vast
expanse, controlled by the same unerring law.
It is difficult to visualize the vital importance of the heavens
to early men. We can hardly conceive of their terror of the
eclipse and the comet or sense their veneration for the Sun and
his bride, the Moon. We are too well educated. We know too much
about "the proportions which connect this vast machine." The
astronomer has pushed back the frontiers of his science beyond
the comprehension of most of us; the questions which occur as a
result of unaided visual observations have all been answered. We
have substituted facts for fancies regarding the sun, the moon,
the solar system, the comet, and the eclipse.
Pike (1) says:
(1) Albert Pike: born 1809, died 1891. One of the greatest
geniuses Freemasonry has ever known. It is said of him that "he
found Scottish Rite Masonry in a hovel and left it in a palace."
He was a mystic, a symbolist, a teacher of the hidden truths of
Freemasonry. To him the world of Freemasonry owes a debt of
incalculable size. Poet, Freemason, philosopher, his genius had a
profound effect upon the Craft in general, and the Ancient
Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in particular.
We cannot, even in the remotest degree, feel, though we may
partially and imperfectly imagine, how those great, primitive,
simple-hearted children of Nature felt in regard to the Starry
Hosts, there upon the slopes of the Himalayas, on the Chaldean
plains, in the Persian and Median deserts, and upon the banks of
the great, strange river, the Nile. To them the Universe was
alive - instinct with forces and powers, mysterious and beyond
their comprebension. To them it was no machine, no great system
of clockwork; but a great live creature, in sympathy with or
inimical to man. To them, all was mystery and a miracle, and the
stars flashing overhead spoke to their hearts almost in an
audible language. Jupiter, with its kingly splendors, was the
emperor of the starry legions. Venus looked lovingly on the
earth and blessed it; Mars with his crimson fires threatened war
and misfortune; and Saturn, cold and grave, chilled and repelled
them. The ever-changing Moon, faithful companion of the Sun, was
a constant miracle and wonder; the Sun himself the visible emblem
of the creative and generative power. To them the earth was a
great plain, over which the sun, the moon and the planets
revolved, its servants, framed to give it light. Of the stars,
some were beneficent existences that brought with them springtime
and fruits and flowers - some, faithful sentinels, advising them
of coming inundation, of the season of storm and of deadly winds;
some heralds of evil, which, steadily foretelling, they seemed to
cause. To them the eclipses were portents of evil, and their
causes hidden in mystery, and supernatural. The regular returns
of the stars, the comings of Arcturus, Orion, Sirius, the
Pleiades, and Aldebaran, and the journeyings of the Sun, were
voluntary and not mechanical to them. What wonder that astronomy
became to them the most important of sciences; that those who
learned it became rulers; and that vast edifices, the Pyramids,
the tower or temple of Bel, and other like erections elsewhere in
the East, were builded for astronomical purposes? - and what
wonder that, in their great childlike simplicity, they worshiped
Light, the Sun, the Planets, and the Stars, and personified them,
and eagerly believed in the histories invented for them; in that
age when the capacity for belief was infinite; as indeed, if we
but reflect, it still is and ever will be?
Anglo-Saxons usually consider history as their history; science
as their science; religion as their religion. This somewhat
naive viewpoint is hardly substantiated by a less egoistic survey
of knowledge. Columbus' sailors believed they would fall off the
edge of a flat world, yet Pythagoras knew the earth to be a ball.
The ecliptic was known before Solomon's Temple was built; the
Chinese predicted eclipses long, long before the Europeans of the
Middle Ages regarded them as portents of doom!
Astronomical lore in Freemasonry is very old. The foundations of
our degrees are far more ancient than we can prove by documentary
evidence. It is surely not stretching credulity to believe that
the study which antedates geometry must have been impressed on
our Order, its ceremonies and its symbols, long before Preston
and Webb worked their ingenious revolutions in our rituals and
gave us the system of degrees we use to-day in one form or
The astronomical references in our degrees begin with the points
of the compass; East, West, and South, and the place of darkness,
the North. We are taught why the North is a place of darkness by
the position of Solomon's Temple with reference to the ecliptic,
a most important astronomical conception. The sun is the Past
Master's own symbol; our Masters rule their lodges - or are
supposed to! - with the same regularity with which the sun rules
the day and the moon governs the night. Our explanation of our
Lesser Lights is obviously an adaptation of a concept which dates
back to the earliest of religions; specifically to the Egyptian
Isis, Osiris, and Horus, represented by the sun, moon, and
In circumambulation about the altar we traverse our lodges from
East to West by way of the South as did the sun worshipers who
thus imitated the daily passage of their deity through the
Measures of time are astronomical. Days and nights were before
man and consequently before astronomy but hours and minutes are
inventions of the mind, depending upon the astronomical
observation of the sun at meridian to determine noon and
consequently all other periods of time. The Middle Chamber work
gives to geometry the premier place as a means by which the
astronomer may fix the duration of time and seasons, years and
Observing that the sun rose and set our ancient brethren easily
determined East and West, although as the sun rises and sets
through a variation of 47 degrees north and south during a six
months' period the determination was not exact.
The earliest Chaldean star gazers, progenitors of the astronomers
of later ages, saw that the apparently revolving heavens pivoted
on a point nearly coincident with a certain star. We know that
the true north diverges from the North Star one and a half
degrees, but their observations were sufficiently accurate to
determine a North - and consequently East, West, and South.
A curious derivation of a Masonic symbol from the heavens is that
universally associated with the Stewards, the cornucopia.
According to the mythology of the Greeks which goes back to the
very dawn of civilization, the god Zeus was nourished in infancy
from the milk of the goat, Amalthea. In gratitude the god placed
Amalthea forever in the heavens as a constellation, but first he
gave one of Amalthea's horns to his nurses with the assurance
that it would forever pour for them whatever they desired,
The horn of plenty, or the cornucopia, is thus a symbol of
abundance. The goat from which it came may be found by the
curious among the constellations under the name of Capricorn.
The Tropic of Capricorn of our school days is the southern limit
of the swing of the sun on the path which marks the ecliptic, on
which the earth dips first its north, then its south pole toward
our luminary. Hence there is a connection, not the less direct
for being tenuous, between our Stewards, their symbol, the lights
in the lodge, the place of darkness, and Solomon's Temple.
Of such curious links and interesting bypaths is the connection
of astronomy with geometry and the letter "G," the more beautiful
when we see eye to eye with the Psalmist: "The heavens declare
the glory of God and the firmament sheweth his handiwork."
"GOD IS ALWAYS GEOMETRIZING"
So said Plato twenty-three centuries ago. It is merely an
accident of the English language that geometry and God begin with
the same letter; no matter what the language or the ritual, the
initial of the Ineffable Name and that of the first and noblest
of sciences are Masonically the same.
"But that is secret!" cries some newly-initiated brother who has
examined his printed monitor and finds that the ritual concerning
the further significance of the letter "G" is represented only by
stars. Aye, the ritual is secret, but the fact is the most
gloriously public that Freemasonry may herald to the world. One
can no more keep secret the idea that God is the very warp and
woof of Freemasonry than that He is the essence of all life.
Take God out of Freemasonry and there is, literally, nothing
left; it is a pricked balloon, an empty vessel, a bubble which
The petitioner knows it before he signs his application. He must
answer "Do you believe in God?" before his petition can be
accepted. He must declare his faith in a Supreme Being before he
may be initiated. But note that he is not required to say, then
or ever, what God. He may name Him as he will, think of Him as he
pleases; make Him impersonal law or personal and anthropomorphic;
Freemasonry cares not.
Freemasonry's own especial name for Deity is Great Architect of
the Universe. She speaks of God rarely as if she felt the
sacredness of the simple Jewish symbol - the Yod - which stood
for JHVH, that unpronouncable name we think may have been
Jehovah. But God, Great Architect of the Universe, Grand
Artificer, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge Above, Jehovah, Allah,
Buddha, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, or Great Geometer, a symbol of the
conception shines in the East of every American Masonic lodge, as
in the center of the canopy of every English lodge.
Secret? Aye, secret as those matters of the heart which may not
be told are secret. Let him who loves his wife or his child more
than he loves aught else upon the earth try to explain in words
just how he loves, and he will understand just what sort of a
secret this is. All the world may know that he loves; how he
loves, how much he loves, there are no words to tell.
All the world may know that the symbol of Deity shines in the
East of a Masonic lodge; only the true Freemason, who is actually
a Mason in his heart, as well as in his mind, may know just how
and in what way the Great Architect is the very essence and
substance of the Ancient Craft.
The symbol of Deity bas always been a part of all houses of
initiation. In the Egyptian mysteries it was the Sun God's
symbol, Ra. The Greeks considered the number five to be the
symbol of man's dependence upon the Unseen; from five also came
the Pentalpha or five-pointed star. The imaginative will easily
see here a connection with the Fellowcraft's Degree in which five
is especially the symbolic number. Plutarch tells us that in the
Greek mysteries the symbol of God was made of wood in the first,
of bronze in the second, and of gold in the third degree, or
step, to symbolize the refinement of man's conception of Deity as
he progressed from the darkness of ignorance to the light of
faith in some one of many forms of belief in God.
Freemasonry uses a much more tender and beautiful symbolism. In
modern and costly temples the letter "G" may be of crystal,
lighted behind with electric light. In some country lodge it may
be cut from cardboard and painted blue, illuminated if at all
with a tallow dip. A Western lodge meets yearly on the top of a
hill in a forest, and nails to a tree cut branches in the form of
a rough letter "G." Freemasonry's symbolism is not of the
material substance of the letter, but its connection with
geometry, the science by which the universe exists and moves and
by which the proportions which connect this vast machine are
Aye, God is always geometrizing. Geometry is particularly His
science. Freemasonry makes it especially the science of the
Fellowcraft's Degree and couples it with the symbol of the Great
Architect of the Universe. No teaching of Freemasonry is
greater; none is simpler than this. The Fellowcraft who sees it
as the very crux and climax of the degree, the reality behind the
form, has learned as no words may teach him for what he climbed
the Winding Stairs, and the true wages of a Fellowcraft which he
found within the Middle Chamber.
HISTORY - THE GRAND LODGE PERIOD
The formation of the Mother Grand Lodge in London, in 1717, which
profoundly affected Freemasonry, is shrouded in mystery, clouded
in the mists of time, and as extraordinary as it was important.
The Freemasons of those far-off days could have had no idea of
the tremendous issues which hung upon their actions nor dreamed
of the effect of their union. Had they even imagined it,
doubtless they would have left us more records, and we would not
now have to speculate on matters of history the very causes of
which are - in all probability - never fully to be kmown to us.
One of the causes which led to the sudden coming to life of the
old and diminishing Fraternity was the Reformation. During its
operative period Freemasonry had been if not a child of the
Church at least its servant, working hand in hand with it. Our
oldest document - the Halliwell Manuscript or Regius Poem, dated
1390 - invokes the Virgin Mary, speaks of the Trinity and gives
instructions for observing Mass! But the same influences which
produced the Reformation worked in Freemasonry and by 1600,
according to the Harleian Manuscript, (1) the Order had
(1) Harleian Manuscript: dated about the middle of the
Seventeenth Century and originally the property of Robert Harley,
Earl of Oxford.
largely severed is dependence upon the Church and become a refuge
for those who wished to be free in thought as well as for
Freemasons. It was still Christian - almost aggressively
Christian - in its teachings. Not for another hundred years or
more and then only partially did it rid itself of any sectarian
character whatever and become what it is to-day, a meeting ground
for "men of every country, sect and opinion," united in a common
belief in the Fatherhood of God, the brotherbood of man, and the
hope of immortality.
Seventeen hundred and seventeen is the dividing line between
before and after; between the old Freemasonry and the new;
between a Craft which was slowly expiring and one which began to
grow with a new vitality; between the last lingering remains of
operative Masonry and a Craft wholly Speculative.
Just what were the causes of the events which led up to the
formation of the first Grand Lodge we do not know. We can only
guess. No minutes of the Mother Grand Lodge were kept during its
first six years. The Constitutions and Old Charges, first
published in 1723, were republished fifteen years after. In this
second edition of 1738 is a meager record of the first meetings
of the Grand Lodge, so brief and so skeletonized that there is
space for it in such a link book as this. In the yellowed pages
of this old and precious book of which a few copies still remain
we read (letters modernized)
King George I entered London most magnificently on 20 Sept.,
1714, and after the Rebellion was over 1716 A.D., the few Lodges
at London finding themselves neglected by Sir Christopher Wren,
thought fit to cement under a Grand Master as the Center of Union
and Harmony, viz., the Lodges that met,
1. At the Goose and Gridiron Alchouse at St. Pauls Church-yard.
2. At the Crown Alehouse in Parker's-Lane, near Drury-Lane.
3. At the Apple-Tree Tavern in Charles-street Covent Garden.
4. At the Rummer and Grapes Tavern in Channel-Row, Westminster.
They and some old Brothers met at the said Apple-Tree, and having
put in the chair the oldest Master Mason (now the Master of a
Lodge) they constituted themselves a Grand Lodge pro Tempore in
due form, and forthwith revived the Quarterly Communication of
the Officers of Lodges (called the Grand lodge) resolved to hold
the Annual Assembly and Feast and then to chuse a Grand Master
from among themselves, till they should have the Honor of a Noble
Brother at their Head.
Accordingly on St. John Baptist's Day, in the 3d year of King
George I. A.D. 1717 the Assembly and Feast of the Free and
accepted Masons was held at the foresaid Goose and Gridiron
Before Dinner, the oldest Master Mason (now the Master of a
Lodge) in the Chair, proposed a List of proper Candidates; and
the Brethren by a Majority of Hands elected Mr. Anthony Sayer
Gentleman, Grand Master of Masons - Capt. Joseph Elliot, Mr.
Jacob Lamball, Carpenter, Grand Wardens - who being forthwith
invested with the Badges of Office and power by the said oldest
Master, and installed, was duly congratulated by the Assembly who
paid him the Homage.
Sayer Grand Master commanded the Masters and Wardens of Lodges to
meet the Grand Officers every Quarter in Communication at the
place he should appoint in his Summons sent by the Tyler.
N.B. It is called the Quarterly Communication, because it should
meet Quarterly according to ancient Usage. And when the Grand
Master is present it is a Lodge in Ample Form; otherwise, only in
Due Form, yet having the same authority with Ample Form.
Probably other lodges existed in London at the time; whether they
refused to join the historic four or were not invited we do not
know. We know little about these original four lodges. The
Engraved list of Lodges was published in 1729 in which the Goose
and Gridiron Number 1 (afterwards the Lodge of Antiquity) is said
to have dated from 1691. When William Preston became its Master
the lodge was involved in a controversy with the Grand Lodge -
but that is too special an event to consider in so broad a sketch
Lodge number two of the original four lodges, which met at the
Crown, Parker's-Lane, was struck from the roll in 1740. The
first Grand Master of this Mother Grand Lodge, Anthony Sayer,
Gentleman, came from lodge number three - the Apple-Tree Tavern
Lodge; we know little more of it. These three lodges were small,
and at least as much operative as Speculative. But the fourth
lodge, which met at the Rummer and Grapes Tavern in Channel Row,
Westminster, was not only the largest (seventy members) but the
most Speculative and with the highest type of membership. It
mothered not only men of high social rank, lords, counts and
knights, but also Dr. Desaguliers (1) and James Anderson, (2) two
brethren who had a great deal to do with the revival, especially
Anderson, to whom we are indebted for much.
In our perspective a Grand Lodge is as much a necessary part of
the existing order of things as a State or Federal Government.
In 1717 it was a new idea, accompanied by many other new ideas.
Some brother or brethren saw that if the ancient Order were not
to die, it must be given new life through a new organization.
Doubtless they were influenced by Mother Kilwinning Lodge (3) of
Scotland which had
(1) John Theophilus Desaguliers, LL.D. F.R.S., born 1683, died
1744, sometimes called the Father of Modern Speculative Masonry.
He was the third Grand Master of the first Grand Lodge and thrice
afterwards Deputy Grand Master. He is credited with having been
the inspiration of Anderson, and to have supplied much of the
material from which Anderson wrote his "Constitution."
(2) James Anderson, Father of the first printed Constitutions,
1723, which contains the Old Charges, the General Regulations,
and a fanciful, fascinating, but wholly erroneous history of
(3) Kilwinning: a small town in Scotland which tradition states
is the birthplace of Freemasonry in the land of heather, as is
York the seat of the first General Assembly of Freemasons in
England. Kilwinning Lodge - Mother Kilwinning by affection and
common consent - at one time seceded from the Mother Grand Lodge,
during which period she chartered various lodges as of "inherent
right," including; one in Virginia in 1785.
assumed and exercised certain motherly functions in regard to her
daughter lodges, all of which had Kilwinning as a part of their
name and, apparently, of their obedience.
The newly formed Grand Lodge went the whole way. It proposed to,
and did, take command of its lodges. It branched out beyond the
jurisdiction originally proposed "within ten miles of London" and
invaded the provinces. It gave enormous powers to the Grand
Master. It prohibited the working of the "Master's Part" in
private lodges, thus throwing back to the ancient annual
assemblies." It divided the Craft into Entered Apprentices and
Fellowcrafts. It resolved "against all politics as what never
yet conduced to the welfare of the lodge nor ever will." This was
a highly important declaration at a time when every organization
in England was taking part in politics, especially in the
Jacobite struggle against the House of Hanover. Indeed, a Grand
Master, the Duke of Wharton (1722) turned against the Grand Lodge
and the Fraternity when it refused to lend itself to his
political aspirations and sponsored the Gormogons, a caricature
organization which tried to destroy Freemasonry by
(1) Assembly: sometimes called General Assembly, or Yearly
Assembly. The word seems to denote a meeting of Masons in the
ancient operative days equivalent to a modern lodge. The York
Manuscript No. 1, dated approximately 1600, says: "Edwin
procured of ye King his father a charter and commission to holde
every yeare an assembly wheresoever they would within ye realm of
England." In the Harleian Manuscript, 1660, it is set forth that:
"... every Master and Fellow come to the Assembly, if it be
within five miles shout him, if he have any warning."
ridicule. Luckily for us all, ridicule, powerful weapon though
it is, never in the long run prevails against reality. The
Gormogons, like other and later organizations, such as the Scald
Miserable Masons, (1) had its brief day and died - and
Freemasonry throve and grew.
Finally the Grand Lodge erased the ancient Charge "to be true to
God and Holy Church" and substituted the Charge already quoted.
This was of unparalleled importance; it was one of the factors
which led to the formation of other Grand Lodges and dissension
in Freemasonry, but as it was distinctly right and founded modern
speculative Freemasonry on the rock of non-sectarianism and the
brotherhood of all men who believe in a common Father regardless
of His name, His church, or the way in which He is worshiped, it
won out in the end and became what it is to-day, a fundamental of
Between 1717 and 1751 the Craft spread rapidly, not only in
England, but on the Continent, and in the Colonies, especially
Colonial America, where time and people, conditions and social
life provided fallow ground for the seeds of Freemasonry. But in
spite of a new life, and wise counsels of brethren
(1) Scald Miserables: mock Masons wbo paraded in London in 1741.
Many such mock Masonic processions were formed by enemies of the
Order - often men who had been denied acceptance. Of little
importance then, and none now, except that the Masonic
disinclination to take part in public processions - dedications,
cornerstone layings and funerals excepted - comes from the mock
Masonic processions which imitated the ancient "March of
Procession" of Masons in London in the early years of the Grand
who restricted the acts if not the power of the new Grand Lodge,
all was not plain sailing. Dissensions appeared. Causes of
friction, if not numerous, were important and went deep. The
religious issue was vital; doubtless it seemed to the older
Masons then as radical a step as it seemed to us when the Grand
Orient of France (1) took the V.S.L. from the altar. In the 1738
edition of the Constitutions we find the article "Concerning God
and religion" altered to read, "In ancient times the Christian
Masons were charged to comply with the Christian usages of each
country where they traveled and worked."
Another cause for dissension was the Grand Lodge's strong hand
regarding the making of Masons. Too many lodges were careless;
too many private groups of Masons assumed the right to assemble
as a lodge and make Masons of their friends; too much laxity
existed as to fees and dues and the payment of charity to the
Grand Lodge. To check these practices the Grand Lodge changed
some words in the degrees - doubtless our "spurious Mason"
clauses come from this - and this caused the same reaction then
as an attempt by modern brethren to change or rearrange our
present ritual would produce.
Probably the religious issue did not cause a major
(1) Grand Orient of France: a body once Masonic which is without
recognition by the Grand Lodges of England, the United States,
and most of the other nations. It removed from its Constitutions
a paragraph affirming the existence of the Great Architect of the
Universe. Withdrawal of recognition by the United Grand Lodge of
England followed immediately (1878) and ever since the Grand
Orient bas been clandestine to practically all the Masonic world.
part of the trouble, but it provided a constant source of
irritation. Then as now many clergymen were Speculative Masons.
To-day enlightened clergymen do not see in the absence of mention
of the Carpenter of Nazareth in a lodge any denial of Him, any
more than a Jewish Rabbi sees in the absence of mention of
Jehovah, or a Buddhist sees in the absence of mention of Buddha,
a denial of those deities. Then, however, many clergymen
insisted upon a Christian tinge to the Masonic ceremonies, and
while the quarrel would hardly have come from this alone, it was
a contributing cause.
In 1738 the Grand Lodge sanctioned the making of the "Master's
Part" into what we know as the Third Degree. This had been going
on for years - no one knows how many - but not by permission of
Grand Lodge. Sanctioning it was to many brethren an "alteration
of established usage" and the customs of "time immemorial." It
proved another blow struck at unity.
All these and other matters fomented dissension which came to a
head in 1751 when a rival Grand Lodge was formed. It came into
being with a brilliant stroke, for it chose the name "The Most
Antient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons."
Calling itself "Antient" and the older body "Modern" at once
enlisted the support of hundreds of brethren who did not look
beneath the surface to learn which was really which. So we have
this peculiar and confusing terminology; the original, the older,
the more ancient Grand Lodge was called the "Modern" Grand Lodge,
and the newer and rebellious body was called "Antient." (1)
The curious story of the rise of this Antient Grand Lodge should
be read by every Freemason, for it has had a tremendous effect
upon the Craft. We can afford to be charitable to those who
believed they were engaged in a revolution, not a rebellion. This
country was born out of what we call the Revolution, which to the
Royalists of 1776 was the Rebellion.
The Antients were extremely fortunate in having one Laurence
Dermott secede from the Moderns with them. Dermott was a
fighting Irishman, a brother heart and soul in the Fraternity,
and if some of his actions seem a little questionable to us, he
has to his credit the success of the movement. In 1771 when the
Duke of Atholl became Grand Master the Antients had almost two
hundred lodges on the roll.
Dermott kept the religious issue alive; by implication he made
the Moderns seem anti-religious. He
(1) United States Grand Lodges style themselves under several
different abbreviations: F. and A.M.; A.F. and A.M., and
variations using the Ampersand (&) in place of the word "and."
The District of Columbia still uses F.A.A.M., meaning Free and
Accepted Masons, in spite of the possible confusion as to whether
the first A stands for "and" or "ancient." The variations are
accounted for by differences in origins, some Grand Lodges coming
into being with lodges which held under the "Ancients," and some
from the "Moderns," and by variations due to the errors which are
seemingly ineradicable in "mouth-to-ear" instruction. Whether
Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Free, Ancient and Accepted
Masons; Ancient Free Masons, or any other combination of the
words, all United States Grand Lodges are "regular," tracing
descent either mediately or immediately to the United Grand Lodge
of England and recognized by her.
kept the Antients a Christian body and wrote distinctively
Christian sentiments and references into its Constitutions and
its documents whenever be could get them adopted.
Meanwhile other Grand Lodges arose; they were not very important
and never grew very large, but they belong in the story of
Freemasonry; the "Grand Lodge of All England," "The Grand Lodge
of England South of the River Trent," "The Supreme Grand Lodge"
all made their bids for recognition, lived their little day and
passed on, each leaving its trace, its influence, but unable to
contend against the Antients and the Moderns.
The benefits which came from the clash seem to-day to be greater
than the evils. Then Freemasons saw only harm in the rivalry
which split the Fraternity. Now we can see that where one Grand
lodge established lodges on war-ships, the other retaliated with
Army lodges which carried Freemasonry to far places; where one
body started a school for girls, the other retorted with a school
for boys - both still in existence, by the way - where one Grand
Lodge reached out to the provinces, the other cultivated Scotland
and Ireland. Both worked indefatigably in the American Colonies.
The heart burnings, the jealousies, the sorrows and the contests
between Antients and Moderns, if they exhibited less of brotherly
love than the Fraternity taught, were actually spurs to action.
Without some such urge Freemasonry could hardly have spread so
fast or so far. As the United States became a much stronger and
more closely welded union after the cleavage of 1361-65, so
Freemasonry was to unite at last in a far greater, stronger and
more harmonious body when the two rival Grand Lodges came
together, composed their differences, forgot their rivalries, and
clasped hands across the altar of the United Grand Lodge.
The reconciliation is as astonishing and mysterious as the
discord. We can see that the death of Dermott, who was gathered
to his fathers in 1791, fighting for the Antients to the last,
removed one cause of difference between the two Grand Lodges; we
can understand that as the Antients had grown in power and
prestige not only in England but in the Colonies until they
outnumbered the Moderns in both lodges and brethren, the Moderns
might well have thought that union would be a life saver; we can
comprehend that time heals all differences and that what had
seemed important in 1751 in fifty years had dwindled in vitality.
But what is amazing to this day is that after the difficult
period, when overtures were made, refusals recorded, committees
appointed and differences finally composed, the Antient Grand
Lodge, in accepting the idea of reconciliation, receded from
almost all the positions for which it had fought so long! It was
as if the spirit of combat, so alien to the gentle genius of
Freemasonry, had worn itself out and brethren became as eager to
forgive and forget and compromise as they had previously been
strong to resist and to struggle.
Whatever the spirit which caused it, the final reconciliation
took place in Freemasons' Hall in London, on St. John's Day,
December 27, 1813. The two Grand Lodges filed together into the
Hall; the Articles of Union were read; the Duke of Kent retired
as Grand Master in favor of the Duke of Sussex, who was elected
Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge.
Two matters must be stressed: the second of the, Articles of
Union reads: "It is declared and pronounced that pure ancient
Masonry consists of three degrees and no more; viz., those of the
Entered Apprentice, the Fellowcraft and the Master Mason
(including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch)."
In 1815 a new Book of Constitutions proclaimed to all the world
forever the non-sectarian character of Freemasonry in this Charge
concerning God and religion:
"Let a man's religion or mode of worship be what it may, he is
not excluded from the Order, provided be believes in the glorious
Architect of heaven and earth, and practice the sacred duties of
Newton says of this:
Surely that is broad enough, bigh enough; and we ought to join
with it the famous proclamation issued by the Grand Master, the
Duke of Sussex, from Kensington Palace, in 1842, declaring that
Masonry is not identified with any one religion to the exclusion
of others, and men in India who were otherwise eligible and could
make a sincere profession of faith in one living God, be they
Hindus or Mohammedans, might petition for membership in the
Craft. Such in our own day is the spirit and practice of Masonic
universality, and from that position, we may be very sure, the
Craft will never recede.