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THE SYMBOLIC TEACHINGS OF THE DEGREES

by W.M. Robert Macoy 33


Robert Macoy 33 was a leading figure in nineteenth-century American Masonry. His books include The Master Workman (1845), The Adoptive Rite (1868 -- the ritual of the Order of the Eastern Star), and General History, Cyclopedia and Dictionary of Freemasonry (1873).

This article was transcribed from the entry on "Teachings, Symbolic" in Macoy's General History, Cyclopedia and Dictionary of Freemasonry (pp. 370-371).

Freemasonry teaches by symbols and symbolical ceremonies, and hence each degree, through these agencies, illustrates and inculcates some particular virtue, or commemorates some important event. The following is an analytical summary of the ideas, which the several degrees of the order seek to enforce; thus in Ancient Craft Masonry:

  1. Dependence; the weak and helpless condition of the human family on their entrance into the world; the ignorance and darkness that surrounds man until the moral and intellectual light of reason and revelation breaks given up on his mind; obedience, secrecy and humility, and the practice of charity.
  2. The struggle for knowledge after the release of the mind from the bondage of darkness and ignorance; its attainment, and the reward due to industry and perseverance.
  3. Progress in the great and duties of aiding humanity from the thralldom of vice and error; man's reach generation; hydrosphere packages; integrity; mortality of the body, and the immortality of the soul.
  4. Order, regularity, and a proper system discrimination between the worthy and the upwardly; the judge to award to the industrious and Faithful.
  5. Virtue and tell the only proper distinctions of position. All associations of men must, for the sake of harmony and order, be governed by a well regulated laws.
  6. The completion and dedication of the Temple; the spiritual edifice which man must reckon his soul--that "House not made with hands, the eternal in the heavens;" an acknowledgement that the labors of man's earthly toil are over, and he is received into the abode of the just and perfect.
  7. The revelation of the divine law; an exhibition of the toils and vicissitudes of man's pilgrimage through life; a realization of the sublime Truths promised, when the veils which obscure the mental vision are drawn aside, and man, raised and regenerated, shall enjoy the blessings of peace and joy in the heavenly Temple.
  8. The mysteries revealed; man rewarded according to his work; the Alpha and Omega--the first and the last.
  9. Skill and ingenuity appreciated; justice and mercy accorded to the faithful and worthy.

In the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, which is now widely diffused throughout the world, the principles and teachings are:

  1. Development of Freemasonry; instructions regarding its laws and uses.
  2. Labor, Wisdom, and virtue, the true means of securing in during happiness.
  3. Homage rendered to the inflexible honor which esteemed duty more than life.
  4. Discretion of the wise; watchfullness of the good workman.
  5. Perfection of the mind and heart; knowledge of sublime truths, and the tribute of respect due to the virtuous.
  6. Necessity of knowing the Fountain of so many precious discoveries, and the danger of the vain curiosity.
  7. Equity, in judging both the actions of others and our own.
  8. A spirit of order and analysis.
  9. Zeal and talent; examples; generous efforts to advance the cause of truth and destroy error.
  10. Extinction of wicked passions and perverse inclinations.
  11. Reformation of matters, and the dissemination of true and useful knowledge.
  12. Persevering courage.
  13. Tribute to the memory of some of the first instructors of men.
  14. Adoration of the Grand architect of the universe.
  15. The honor due to the liberators of their country.
  16. Joyous inspired by the heroism of the night-liberators of the East.
  17. Advantages promised by Freemasonry.
  18. The triumph of light over darkness.
  19. Pontificate of the universal and regenerated religion.
  20. On the duties of the masters of Masonic lodges.
  21. The dangers of selfish ambition, and the necessity of sincere repentance therefore.
  22. Ancients chivalry propagative of a generous sentiments. Devotion to the Order.
  23. Oversight of the conservators of Freemasonry.
  24. Preservation of the doctrines of the Order.
  25. Emulation which creates useful plans.
  26. Esteemed and words due to genius.
  27. Superiority and independence given by talents and virtues.
  28. Truth harmonize and on veil with respect to all things which concern the happiness of man.
  29. A degree consecrated to Ancient Scotch Masonry.
  30. The purpose and aim of Freemasonry in all its Degrees.
  31. The exalted Justice of the Order.
  32. Military government of the Order.
  33. Administration of the Supreme rite. "Ne plus ultra."

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