The Masonic Trowel

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by Byron E. Hams

Now my newly made Brothers you are placed in the north-east corner of the lodge and in this position you become representative of a spiritual corner-stone, and hence, to thoroughly comprehend the true meaning of this placement, it is essential that we should investigate the symbolism of operative and speculative masonry.

The difference between operative and speculative Masonry is simply that-that while the former was engaged is the construction of a material building, formed, it is true, of the most magnificent materials which the quarries of Palestine, the mountains of Lebanon, and the golden shores of Ophir could contribute, the latter occupies itself in the erection of a spiritual house, "a house net made with hands" in which, for stones, cedar, gold, and precious stones, are substituted with the virtues of the heart, the pure emotions of the soul, the warm affections gushing forth from the hidden fountains of the spirit, so that the very presence of Jehovah, our Father and our God, shall be enshrined within us or his Shekinah was in the holy of holies of the material temple at Jerusalem.

The Speculative Mason, then, if he rightly comprehends the scope and design of his profession, is occupied, from his very first admission into the order until the close of his labors surd his life,-and the true Mason's labors ends only with his life,-in the construction, the adornment, and the completion of this spiritual temple of his body. He lays its foundation a firm belief and an unshaken confidence in the wisdom, power, and goodness of Cad. This is his first step.

Unless his trust is in God, and in bin only, he can advance no further than the threshold of initiation.

And then he prepares his materials with the gauge and gavel of Truth, raises the walls by the plumb line of Rectitude, squares his work with the square of Virtue, connects the whole with the cement of Brotherly Love, and thus skillfully erects the living edifice of thoughts, and words, and deeds, in accordance with the designs laid down by the Master Architect of the Universe in the great Book of Revelation.

As the aspirant for Masonic light on your very first entrance within our sacred porch, you prepare yourself far this consecrated labor of erecting within your own bosom pr fit dwelling-place far the Divine Spirit, and thus commence the noble work by becoming yourself the corner-stone on which this spiritual edifice is to be erected.

In Masonry, the north has ever been esteemed the place of darkness; and in obedience to this principle, no symbolic light is allowed to illuminate the northern part of the lodge. The east in masonry is symbolic of Masonic light or universal knowledge.

You are in the north-east corner of the lodge, because it is symbolic of your relation to the order and to the world, From the profane world you have just emerged. Some of its imperfections are still upon you; some of its darkness is still about you; so get you belong in part to the north. But you are striving for light and truth; the pathway upon which you entered is directed towards the east. Your allegiance, if I may use the word, is divided. You are not altogether in darkness, nor altogether in light, If you were wholly in darkness, the north would be the place to put you. If you were wholly in light-a Master Mason,-the east would have received you.

But you are neither; you ore an Entered Apprentice, with some of the ignorance of the world cleaving to you, and some of the light of the order beaming upon you. One side of you faces the north, and the other side faces the east. You are neither wholly in one part nor wholly in the other part. As an Entered Apprentice you are not fully developed you are incomplete and imperfect, and therefore rightly placed in the north-east corner of the lodge, the joining point of darkness and light.

The corner-stone, as the foundation on which the entire building is supposed to rest, is, of course, the most important stone in the whole edifice. You, my Brothers as Entered Apprentices are the most important Brothers here, for you are the Master Masons of tomorrow. We, the Craft are charged with giving you oil our knowledge of Masonry that you are qualified to receive. And I stress the word, qualified, for if you never become qualified the teachings of Masonry will die with us. You are charged with, first becoming qualified to receive this knowledge, second with receiving this knowledge, and third and most important seeing that only those duly qualified receive it from you. In this manner the teaching of Masonry have been preserved over the ages. As the corner-stone of Freemasonry you are the link between the ones of us that have the knowledge and the ones that will come to Masonry in the future to find the knowledge. This is why you are placed in the north-east corner of the lodge as the corner-stone of Masonry.

My, Brothers, I have explained to you on three different levels why you are in the north-east corner; Mentally, Physically, and Spiritually. Masonry is a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.

We will give you the allegory band the symbols, but only of your own free will and accord through your own desire will you be able to remove the veils.

Brethren please take due notice and govern yourselves accordingly.

Look well to the East.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014