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Published in Selected Papers, Vol.1,
United Masters Lodge, No. 167, Auckland, New Zealand

To date there has been a great deal of remarks made about landmarks, and I hope you will enjoy this short essay by our Masonic Brothers from New Zealand given back on the 5th July 1912 on this exact subject. At the same time he explains his thought n a total of 25 "Landmarks."

W. Bro. Josiah Martin says:
The question which I propose to examine this evening, What are the Ancient Landmarks of the Order? has been before us on our notice paper for some months past; it is a subject of the deepest interest to the Craft, and one that clamours for special attention from all those Lodges which have devoted themselves particularly to research.

The neophyte in masonry is confronted on his initiation by a demand for proof of his FIDELITY to the Constitutions of the fraternity, of his adherence to certain established customs, and to certain "ancient landmarks" of the Order, which no brother has yet been able satisfactorily to number or name.

The Master of the Lodge is called upon to guard these unknown landmarks against encroachment, and to forbid any deviation from the ancient customs, laws and regulations of the Order. And ere he takes the chair as Master Elect he is called upon expressly to declare that it is not in the power of any man or body of men to make innovation in the body of Freemasonry.

It is customary to take these ancient landmarks very much for granted, and to avoid any discussion on the subject in the Lodge for fear of transgressing some one or other of these cryptic Masonic Laws. But this is the age of the searchlight, and we must be prepared to admit its penetrating ray even to the exposition of the rites and ceremonies hitherto held with so much Masonic secrecy. A mysterious virtue is supposed to reside in the form of words rather than in the true spirit of Masonry, which reveals itself only to the patient student of its mysteries.

The routine "business" of a Lodge becomes reduced to the repetition of the formulae used in connection with the three degrees. This discourages the introduction of any subject, and perpetuates many points in the Tracing Board Lectures, etc., which are open to grave objection. With the fear of transgression, innovation, and omission constantly reminding him of the penalty of his ob., the initiate is taught to be cautions against he introduction of anything that might disturb the harmony of our proceedings, or lead to the discussion and possible revelation of occult signs and potent secrets.

It is generally supposed, among the officers of the Lodge, that a certain little manual includes in its pages all that is needed for a Mason to know, and that its voice speaks with the language of unimpeachable authority. If the "address and charges" can be recited without a mistake according to this book, the Master will be congratulated and the ceremony will be pronounced a success. This book is not the V.S.L., nor the Book of Constitutions, nor an "Ancient Landmark," but a pocket mentor which claims to represent the infallible authority that governs our rites and decides our destiny.

The tendency of this book-system of Masonry is to weaken the cause we have at heart. Personally I have met many worthy brethren who have lost their enthusiasm for Freemasonry because they can find nothing in our ceremonies but a parrot-like repetition of words from a book. We know of good men and true who are disappointed to find themselves left behind in the states of Masonic progress, because they could not memorise the pages of ritual with the same facility as some of the more ready speakers who had been selected for position above their heads.

Defining ancient landmarks Bro. Speth, of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, says "Landmarks are immemorial usages and fundamental principles of the Craft, and are unchangeable."

"Truth is, nothing is more difficult than defining a landmark."

"We all admit that they exist, but no two thinkers will agree as to what they are."

The Master who undertakes that there shall be no deviation from the ancient landmarks determines by the use of the square in the Craftsman's hand to act upon the true and only test of right.

Drummond says: "There are no landmarks because no two men agree as to what they are, and no enumeration of them has been made."

What is a Masonic Landmark? This Bro. A. L. Poignant defines as "Something which is a fundamental part of Freemasonry, and which cannot be altered without destroying the identity of Freemasonry."

It is consequently impossible to enumerate the landmarks of Freemasonry in the Book of Constitutions. If the landmarks were enumerated then Freemasonry would not be Freemasonry, viz., a peculiar system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.

To our repeated enquiry "What are the Landmarks of Freemasonry?" Bro. Poignant gives a positive definitions:-
"Every TENET of the Craft is a landmark, but no allegory or symbol teaching or indicting such a tenet is one."

"No allegory or symbol, however important, is of itself a landmark, though what it teaches may be one."

And in a recent number (A.Q.C., vol. XXIV, part 2) the worthy brother has collated from Mackey TWENTY-FIVE LANDMARKS which have been recognized by some American authors as embracing the whole series.

The name of Brother Whytehead will probably be known to some of our brethren here in Auckland, for he was present in the Lodge when I was initiated some forty years ago; he was highly respected as a Past Master of Lodge Quatuor Coronati. He puts the argument into these words:
"Our own Lodge, the Quatuor Coronati, has sprung into existence, not as a meteor, but as a permanent landmark, guiding the Masonic mariner on his way to the haven of knowledge."

The text of Bro. Whytehead's remarks is very forceful and beautiful: Freemasonry is a beacon-light guiding the wanderer as the compass guides the sailor, and directs the worthy Mason on the "points" which allow no deviation.

With these twenty-five definitions having failed to satisfy our requirements as a code of laws, we feel that we can breathe with a little more freedom, relieved form possible penalties for infringement of these formidable enactments. Yet we cannot part with this list without challenging the opinion of Brother Poignant. We are prepared to hold to the observance of at least two of them as our most conspicious landmarks.

(No. 19) The BELIEF in God as the G.A.O.T.U. may be disallowed, but we are relieved to note that the EXISTENCE of God is most emphatically admitted to be the landmark of greatest importance.

(No. 20) BELIEF in the Resurrection is not permitted to rank as a landmark as a form of belief, while the FACT of Resurrection is admitted to be also one of the greatest importance.

These two tenets, or landmarks, we are determined to maintain, and we think that the difficulty of the word "belief" will be overlooked, and that the FACT, of not the Belief, will also be admitted as one of the greatest landmarks which bind us together.

We have said that this is the age of the searchlight, and the searchlight is turned upon our system just as it is on matters connected with Church worship or municipal affairs; this is also an age of scientific research.

You may ask what has that to do with the landmarks of Freemasonry? Surely it has all to do with it; for during the ceremonies of the various degrees we have to acknowledge and declare that there is a veil shrouding the mystery of life which we seek here to penetrate, illuminated by the light from the landmark of No. 19 - the existence of GOD.

The Freemason is given the invitation to extend his researches into the hidden mysteries of nature and science. What grander scope than this to verify the existence of the G.A.O.T.U., in the hidden mysteries of nature and science! This is not all; Freemasonry demands of its adherents to follow their investigation even to the Throne of God Himself.

You cannot have a wider or more promising field for research in any department of human knowledge.

In the mystic symbol of the Second Degree this mystery is revealed. So, there is nothing to be said against the spirit of research in Freemasonry, positively no restriction upon the search for the presence of the G.A.O.T.U. in the glorious works of nature which invite our investigation.

Our Third Degree advances us further along this path of knowledge. It tells us that the gates of heavenly science are open to our search for truth, even though the say be through the very gates of death. You are all familiar with the symbol in the Third Degree which depicts an O.G.; what is the meaning of that and the emblems of mortality? Is it not to assure us that through the mystic portal we may pass from Death into Life, from our toilsome labours to the glorious light of Eternity.

There is a general and laudable desire to secure perfect uniformity in working the ceremonies of the various degrees, but in this Dominion there are several Constitutions governing the Craft, and each of them has liberty to frame its own form of words and signs of recognition. This prevents that perfect uniformity which is so much desired by Masters of Masonry.

The United Masters Lodge, as a Lodge of Research, is best qualified to discover these differences, and endeavour to harmonise the methods, and to prove that there is more in Masonry than adherence to ritual.

Above all these forms, we look to this Lodge to reveal to us the true spirit of Masonry - the meaning of the message which Freemasonry brings to mankind.

Bro. L. M. Mackenzie, Editor of the "Royal Masonic Cyclopedia," has given to us the clearest and most complete list of landmarks of the Order, viz., 25, which are:-

1.- "The Modes of Recognition." These cannot be landmarks. They each have their symbolic meaning, which may teach something that is a landmark, that is all. Supposing, for the sake of argument, that they have no such meaning, then they must have been arbitrarily chosen by the originators of our Order, whoever they were. The modes of recognition, in either of these cases, cannot now be altered; but that is because of the universality and cosmopolitan character of Freemasonry, which makes it impossible to make a change of such a nature with its consequence of widespread confusion and inconvenience. The fact that the modes of recognition vary under different Grand lodges, which in spite of that are recognized by the Grand Lodge of England, tends further to prove that they are not landmarks.

2.- "The Division of Symbolic Masonry into Three Degrees." This only concerns the manner of imparting the teachings of the system of morality, and can therefore not be a landmark.

3.- "The Legend of the Third Degree", being an allegory, is therefore not per se a landmark.

4.- "The government of the Fraternity in each country by a presiding officer called a Grand Master", is not a landmark either, as the whole organisation of the fraternity is symbolical, and the Grand Master, as such, is symbolical of the principal tenet of the system of morality. If this symbolism is not admitted it reduces the matter to one of expediency, s having been found needful or necessary for the proper organization and regulation of the Order.

The prerogatives of the Grand Master, viz:-

5.- "To preside in any Lodge or assembly of the Craft at any time and anywhere within his jurisdiction."

6.- "To grant dispensation for conferring Degrees at irregular times," i.e. with less than four weeks' interval.

7.- "To grant dispensations for opening and holding Lodges."

8.- "To make Masons at sight."

These fall, with No. 4, as pertaining to the Grand Master.

9.- "The necessity for Freemasons to gather together in Lodges." Neither can this be a landmark; the Lodge - the word being taken either in the meaning of the room where the brethren congregate, or of the Body of individuals of which it is composed ~ is symbolical and therefore not a landmark. A Freemason who is not attached to any Lodge may lose some of his Masonic privileges, but he remains a Freemason in the proper sense of the word, as long as he holds to the teachings of the Craft, while a man, however much he is attached to Lodges, is not a Freemason in the same sense of the word unless she properly knows, understands, and to the best of his ability practices what our glorious system teaches.

10.- "The government of the Craft when so congregated in a Lodge by a Master and two Wardens."

11.- "The necessity of every lodge, when congregated, to be duly tyled."

These are both symbolical, and therefore not landmarks.

12.- "The right of every Mason to be represented in all general meetings of the Craft, and to instruct his representatives."

13.- "The right of every Mason to appeal to the Grand Lodge from the decisions of his own Lodge."

14.- "The right of every Mason to visit and sit in every regular Lodge."

15.- "The right, or rather the duty of providing an unknown Brother, or one who cannot be duly vouched for before admission."

16.- "The right of non-interference between Lodges."

17.- "Every Mason shall be amenable to the Laws, etc., of the Masonic jurisdiction in which he resides, and this although he may not be a member of any Lodge."

All these concern the proper regulation and government of the Fraternity, and therefore cannot be landmarks. They are also to a certain extent symbolical, like the whole organisation.

18.- "Every candidate must be free-born, of mature age, and unmutilated."

This restriction is chiefly of historical interest, but also symbolical, and therefore no landmark.

19.- "A belief in the existence of God as the G.A.O.T.U."

This is not a landmark, but the "existence of GOD" most emphatically is one. If this existence could be disproved Freemasonry would lose its hold and disappear, even though the belief remained in some hearts, just as the mysteries of olden times degenerated, decayed, and were lost when Monotheism had disproved their fundamental tenets, although the belief in the gods to whom they were dedicated remained in the minds of people long after that.

BELIEF IN THE EXISTENCE OF GOD: This is to my mind stands out as pre-eminently the landmark and teaching of our Order.

20.- "A belief in the Resurrection to a future life."

The "belief" is no landmark, but "resurrection" is.

21.- A Book of the Law shall be an indispensable part of the Lodge Furniture."

This paragraph is certainly true and incontestable, but the V.S.L. is, with the rest of the Lodge furniture, symbolical, and therefore not a landmark as we have defined the term, any more than a map of a country, however accurate and necessary for the traveler who seeks its aid in his exploration, can pretend actually to be that country; although a map shows the landmarks of a country it is not a landmark. The V.S.L. is said to be one of the greatest emblematical lights in Freemasonry; certainly the most important one, but still classed with the other lights as "emblematical". These symbols throw light on the landmarks of Freemasonry, but they are not landmarks.

The question whether another Book of the Law than the Bible is admissible in a Masonic Lodge is a subject in itself, and must depend on how far its precepts are in accordance with the teachings of the Craft; the question is irrelevant to this enquiry.

22.- "The Equality of all Masons" is not a landmark, but a symbol. Neither is 23.- "The secrecy of the Institution" one, but an administrative precaution against corruption and adulteration. In former days, before Grand Lodge was formed, it was also necessary for safeguarding the members of the Fraternity.

Freemasonry was, and is, the essence of liberty of thought, and time was when such liberty was discountenanced by authorities and the advocates thereof even subjected to persecution. The liberty of thought is to-day the chief reason why the Roman Catholic Church has placed the Order under its ban. Even now the Craft would undoubtedly suffer by having its secrets unlawfully divulged or improperly obtained; but nobody can maintain that any tenet or tenets of Masonry would be altered by the bare fact of their being generally known. Some of them would probably in the course of time be corrupted, and that is a reason why secrecy is enjoined.

24.- "The foundation of a Speculative Science upon an Operative Art, and a symbolic use and explanation of the terms of that Art for purposes of religious or moral teaching."

This is only a definition, and therefore no landmark. Besides, how does speaking thus of the "foundation" of Masonry compare with the statement that it is founded on the purest principles of piety and virtue? The last one -

25.- "The unchangeability of all these essential principles and landmarks" is sin the nature of a description of the qualities of all landmarks, and not a separate one.

We have now seen that not one of the twenty-five enumerated can pass the test we have imposed. But now another question requires an answer, viz.: Have we any cause, apart from the logical meaning of the words in the phrase "Landmarks of Freemasonry", to say that this conclusion is correct, when it evidently does not agree with the meaning of the word "landmarks," adopted by the present Book of Constitutions, and also by the Lodge of Promulgation of 1809-11?

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