Remarks On The Second Degree
Thomas Smith Webb
Masonry is a progressive science, and is divided into two different
classes or degrees, for the more regular advancement in the knowledge of
its mysteries. According to the progress we make, we limit or extend our
inquiries; and in proportion to our capacity, we attain to a less or greater degree of
Masonry includes within its circle almost every branch of polite
learning. Under the vail of its mysteries is comprehended a regular system
of science. Many of its illustrations, to the confined genius, may appear
unimportant; but the man of more enlarged faculties will perceive them to
be, in the highest degree, useful and interesting. To please the
accomplished scholar and ingenious artist, Masonry is wisely planned, and,
in the investigation of its latent doctrines, the philosopher and
mathematician may experience equal delight and satisfaction.
To exhaust the various subjects of which it treats would transcend the
powers of the brightest genius; still, however, nearer approaches to
perfection may be made, and the man of wisdom will not check the progress
of his abilities, though the task he attempts may at first seem
insurmountable. Perseverance and application remove each difficulty as it
occurs; every step he advances, new pleasures open to his view, and
instruction of the noblest kind attends his researches. In the diligent
pursuit of knowledge, the intellectual faculties are employed in promoting
the glory of God and the good of man.
The first degree is well calculated to enforce the duties of morality,
and imprint on the memory the noblest principles which can adorn the human
mind. It is, therefore, the best introduction to the second degree, which
not only extends the same plan, but comprehends a more diffusive system of
knowledge. Here practice and theory join in qualifying the industrious
Mason to share the pleasures which
an advancement in the art must necessarily afford. Listening with
attention to the wise opinions of experienced craftsmen on important
subjects, he gradually familiarizes his mind to useful instruction, and is
soon enabled to investigate truths of the utmost concern in the general
transactions of life.
From this system proceeds a rational amusement; while the mental powers
are fully employed, the judgment is properly exercised; a spirit of
emulation prevails; and all are induced to vie, who shall most excel in
promoting the valuable rules of the institution.
The First Section
Of the second degree accurately elucidates the mode of introduction
into that particular class, and instructs the diligent craftsman how to
proceed in the proper arrangement of the ceremonies used on the occasion.
It qualifies him to judge of their importance, and convinces him of the
necessity of strictly adhering to every established usage of the Order.
Here he is intrusted with particular tests, to enable him to prove his
title to the privileges of this degree, while satisfactory reasons are
given for their origin. Many duties, which cement, in the firmest union,
well-informed brethren, are illustrated in this section; and an
opportunity is given to make such advances in Masonry as will always
distinguish the abilities of those who have arrived at preferment. The
knowledge of this section is absolutely necessary for all craftsmen, and,
as it recapitulates the ceremony of initiation, and contains many other
important particulars, no officer or member of a Lodge should be
unacquainted with it.
The following is introduced during the ceremonies:
"Thus he showed me; and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a
plumbline, with a plumb-line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, Amos,
what seest thou? And I said, A plumb-line. Then said the Lord, Behold, I
will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again
pass by them any more." - Anmos, vii: 7, 8.
THE PLUMB, SQUARE, AND LEVEL,
Those noble and useful implements of a fellowcraft, are here introduced
and moralized, and serve as a constant admonition to the practice of
virtue and morality.
The plumb is an instrument made use of by operative
Masons, to raise perpendiculars; the square, to square their
work; and the level, to lay horizontals; but we, as Free and
Accepted Masons, are taught to make use of them for more noble and
glorious purposes; the plumb admonishes us to walk uprightly in
our several stations before God and man, squaring our actions by the
square of virtue, and remembering that we are traveling upon the
level of time to
that "undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler
The Second Section
Of this degree has recourse to the origin of the institution, and views
Masonry under two denominations, operative and speculative. These are
separately considered, and the principles on which both are founded
particularly explained. Their affinity is pointed out by allegorical
figures and typical representations. The period stipulated for rewarding
merit is fixed, and the inimitable moral to which that circumstance
alludes is explained; the creation of the world is described, and many
particulars recited, all of which have been carefully preserved among
Masons, and transmitted from one age to another by oral tradition.
Circumstances of great importance to the Fraternity are here
particularized, and many traditional tenets and customs confirmed by
sacred and profane record. The celestial and terrestrial globes are
considered; and here the accomplished gentleman may display his talents to
advantage, in the elucidation of the Orders of Architecture, the
Senses of human nature, and the liberal Arts and
Sciences, which are severally classed in a regular arrangement. In
short, this section contains a store of valuable knowledge, founded on
reason and sacred record, both entertaining and
Masonry is considered under two denominations - operative and
By operative Masonry we allude to a proper application of the useful
rules of architecture, whence a structure will derive figure, strength,
and beauty, and whence will result a due proportion and a just
correspondence in all its parts. It furnishes us with dwellings, and
convenient shelters from the vicissitudes and inclemencies of the
seasons; and, while it displays the effects of human wisdom, as well in
the choice as in the arrangement of the sundry materials of which an
edifice is composed, it demonstrates that a fund of science and industry
is implanted in man for the best, most salutary, and beneficent
By speculative Masonry we learn to subdue the passions, act upon the
square, keep a tongue of good report, maintain secrecy, and practice
charity. It is so far
inter woven with religion as to lay us under obligations to pay that
rational homage to the Deity, which at once constitutes our duty and our
happiness. It leads the contemplative to view with reverence and
admiration the glorious works of the creation, and inspires him with the
most exalted ideas of the perfections of his Divine Creator.
In six days God created the heavens and the earth, and rested upon
the seventh day; the seventh, therefore, our ancient brethren
consecrated as a day of rest from their labors, thereby enjoying
frequent opportunities to contemplate the glorious works of the
creation, and to adore their great Creator.
The doctrine of the spheres is included in the science of astronomy,
and particularly considered in this section.
Here are introduced and explained emblems of
PEACE, UNITY, AND PLENTY.
OF THE GLOBES.
THE globes are two artificial spherical bodies, on the convex surface
of which are represented the countries, seas, and various parts of the
earth, the face of the heavens, the planetary revolutions, and other
The sphere with the parts of the earth delineated on its surface is
called the terrestrial globe; and that with the constellations and other
heavenly bodies, the celestial globe.
THE USE OF THE GLOBES.
Their principal use, besides serving as maps to distinguish the
outward parts of the earth, and the situation of the fixed stars, is to
illustrate and explain the phenomena arising from the annual revolution
and the diurnal rotation of the earth round its own axis. They are the
noblest instruments for improving the mind, and giving it the most
distinct idea of any problem or proposition, as well as enabling it
solve the same. Contemplating these bodies, we are inspired with a
due reverence for the Deity and his works, and are induced to encourage
the studies of astronomy, geography, navigation, and the arts dependent
on them, by which society has been so much benefited.
The orders of architecture come under consideration in this section; a
brief description of them may, therefore, not be improper.
OF ORDER IN ARCHITECTURE.
By order in architecture is meant a system of all the members,
proportions, and ornaments of columns and pilasters; or, it is a regular
arrangement of the projecting parts of a building, which, united with
those of a column, form a beautiful, perfect, and complete whole.
OF ITS ANTIQUITY.
From the first formation of society, order in architecture may be
traced. When the rigor of seasons obliged men to contrive shelter from
the inclemency of the weather, we learn that they first planted trees on end, and then
laid others across to support a covering. The bands which connected
those trees at top and bottom are said to have given rise to the idea of
the base and capital of pillars; and from this simple hint originally
proceeded the more improved art of architecture.
The five orders are thus classed: the Tuscan, Doric, Ionic,
Corinthian, and Composite.
Is the most simple and solid of the five orders. It was invented in
Tuscany, whence it derives its name. Its column is seven diameters high;
and its capital, base, and entablature have but few moldings. The
simplicity of the construction of this column renders it eligible where
ornament would be superfluous.
Which is plain and natural, is the most ancient, and was invented by
Its column is eight diameters high, and has seldom any ornaments on
base or capital, except moldings; though the frieze is distinguished by
triglyphs and metopes, and triglyphs compose the ornaments of the
frieze. The solid composition of this order gives it a preference in
structures where strength and noble simplicity are chiefly required.
The Doric is the best proportioned of all the orders; the several
parts of which it is composed are founded on the natural position of
solid bodies. In its first invention it was more simple than in its
present state. In after times, when it began to be adorned, it gained
the name of Doric; for when it was constructed in its primitive and
simple form, the name of Tuscan was conferred on it. Hence the Tuscan
precedes the Doric in rank, on account of its resemblance to that pillar
in its original state.
Bears a kind of mean proportion between the more solid and delicate
orders. Its column is nine diameters high; its capital is adorned with volutes,
and its cornice has dentals. There is both delicacy and ingenuity
displayed in this pillar, the invention of which is attributed to the
Ionians, as the famous Temple of Diana at Ephesus was of this order. It
is said to have been formed after the model of an agreeable young woman,
of an elegant shape, dressed in her hair, as a contrast to the Doric
order, which was formed after that of a strong, robust man.
The richest of the five orders, is deemed a masterpiece of art. Its
column is ten diameters high, and its capital is adorned with two rows
of leaves and eight volutes, which sustain the abacus. The frieze is
ornamented with curious devices, the cornice with dentals and
modillions. This order is used in stately and superb structures. It was
invented at Corinth, by Callimachus, who is said to have taken the hint
of the capital of this pillar
from the following remarkable circumstance: Accidentally passing by the
tomb of a young lady, he perceived a basket of toys, covered with a
tile, placed over an acanthus root, having been left there by her nurse.
As the branches grew up, they encompassed the basket, till, arriving at
the tile, they met with an obstruction, and bent downward. Callimachus,
struck with the object, set about imitating the figure: the base of the
capital he made to represent the basket; the abacus the tile; and the
volutes the bending leaves.
Is compounded of the other orders, and was contrived by the Romans.
Its capital has the two rows of leaves of the Corinthian, and the
volutes of the Ionic. Its column has the quarter-round, as the Tuscan
and Doric order; is ten diameters high, and its cornice has dentals or
simple modillions. This pillar is generally found in buildings where
strength, elegance and beauty are
OF THE INVENTION OF ORDER IN ARCHITECTURE.
The ancient and original orders of architecture, revered by Masons,
are no more than three, the DORIC, IONIC, and CORINTHIAN, which were
invented by the Greeks. To these the Romans have added two: the Tuscan,
which they made plainer than the Doric; and the Composite, which was
more ornamental, if not more beautiful, than the Corinthian. The first
three orders alone, however, show invention and particular character,
and essentially differ from each other; the two others have nothing but
what is borrowed, and differ only accidentally: the Tuscan is the Doric
in its earliest state; and the Composite is the Corinthian, enriched
with the Ionic. To the Greeks, therefore, and not to the Romans, we are
indebted for what is great, judicious, and distinct in
OF THE FIVE SENSES
OF HUMAN NATURE.
An analysis of the human faculties is next given in this section, in
which the five external senses particularly claim attention; these are:
hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling, and tasting.
Is that sense by which we distinguish sounds, and are capable of
enjoying all the agreeable charms of music. By it we are enabled to
enjoy the pleasures of society, and reciprocally to communicate to each
other our thoughts and intentions, our purposes and desires; while thus
our reason is capable of exerting its utmost power and energy.
The wise and beneficent Author of Nature intended, by the formation
of this sense, that we should be social creatures, and receive the
greatest and most important part of our knowledge by the information of
others. For these purposes we are endowed with hearing, that by a
proper exertion of our rational powers, our happiness may be complete.
Is that sense by which we distinguish objects, and in an instant of
time, without change of place or situation, view armies in battle array,
figures of the most stately structures, and all the agreeable variety
displayed in the landscape of nature. By this sense we find our way in
the pathless ocean, traverse the globe of earth, determine its figure
and dimensions, and delineate any region or quarter of it. By it we
measure the planetary orbs, and make new discoveries in the sphere of
the fixed stars. Nay, more: by it we perceive the tempers and
dispositions, the passions and affections of our fellow-creatures, when
they wish most to conceal them; so that, though the tongue may be taught
to lie and dissemble, the countenance would display the hypocrisy to the
discerning eye. In fine, the rays of light, which administer to this
sense, are the most
astonishing parts of the animated creation, and render the eye a peculiar object
Of all the faculties, sight is the noblest. The structure of the eye,
and its appurtenances, evinces the admirable contrivance of Nature for
performing all its various external and internal motions; while the
variety displayed in the eyes of different animals, suited to their
several ways of life, clearly demonstrates this organ to be the
masterpiece of Nature's work.
Is that sense by which we distinguish the different qualities of
bodies; such as heat and cold, hardness and softness, roughness and
smoothness, figure, solidity, motion, and extension.
These three senses, Hearitng, Seeing, and Feeling, are
deemed peculiarly essential among Masons.
Is that sense by which we distinguish odors, the various kinds of
which convey different impressions to the mind. Animal and vegetable bodies, and,
indeed, most other bodies, while exposed to the air, continually send
forth effluvia of vast subtilty, as well in the state of life and
growth, as in the state of fermentation and putrefaction. These
effluvia, being drawn into the nostrils along with the air, are the
means by which all bodies are smelled. Hence it is evident that there is
a manifest appearance of design in the great Creator's having planted
the organ of smell in the inside of that canal through which the air
continually passes in respiration.
Enables us to make a proper distinction in the choice of our food.
The organ of this sense guards the entrance of the alimentary canal, as
that of smelling guards the entrance of the canal for respiration. From
the situation of both these organs it is plain that they were intended
by Nature to distinguish wholesome food
from that which is nauseous. Every thing that enters into the stomach must
undergo the scrutiny of tasting; and by it we are capable of discerning
the changes which the same body undergoes in the different compositions
of art, cookery, chemistry, pharmacy, etc.
Smelling and tasting are inseparably connected, and it is by the
unnatural kind of life men commonly lead in society, that these senses
are rendered less fit to perform their natural offices.
On the mind all our knowledge must depend: what, therefore, can be a
more proper subject for the investigation of Masons? By anatomical
dissection and observation we become acquainted with the body; but it is
by the anatomy of the mind alone we discover its powers and
To sum up the whole of this transcendent measure of God's bounty to
man, we shall add, that memory, imagination, taste, reasoning, moral
perception, and all the active powers of the soul, present a
vast and boundless field for philosophical disquisition, which far exceeds
human inquiry, and are peculiar mysteries, known only to nature and to
nature's God, to whom we and all are indebted for creation,
preservation, and every blessing we enjoy.
OF THE SEVEN LIBERAL ARTS AND SCIENCES.
THE seven liberal ARTS and SCIENCES are next illustrated in this
section: it may not, therefore, be improper to insert here a short
explanation of them.
Teaches the proper arrangement of words, according to the idiom or
dialect of any particular people; and that excellency of pronunciation
which enables us to speak or write a language with accuracy, agreeably
to reason and correct usage.
Teaches us to speak copiously and fluently on any subject, not merely
with propriety, but with all the advantages of force and elegance; wisely contriving
to captivate the hearer by strength of argument and beauty of
expression, whether it be to entreat or exhort, to admonish or
Teaches us to guide our reason discretionally in the general
knowledge of things, and directs our inquiries after truth. It consists
of a regular train of argument, whence we infer, deduce, and conclude,
according to certain premises laid down, admitted, or granted; and in it
are employed the faculties of conceiving, judging, reasoning, and
disposing; all of which are naturally led on from one gradation to
another, till the point in question is finally determined.
Teaches the powers and properties of numbers, which is variously
effected, by letters, tables, figures, and instruments. By this art,
demonstrations are given for finding out any certain number, whose relation or
affinity to another is already known or discovered.
Treats of the powers and properties of magnitudes in general, where
length, breadth, and thickness are considered, from a point to a
line, from a line to a superficies, and from a superficies
to a solid.
A point is a dimensionless figure, or an indivisible part of
A line is a point continued, and a figure of one capacity,
A superficies is a figure of two dimensions, namely,
length and breadth.
A solid is a figure of three dimensions, namely, length,
breadth, and thickness.
OF THE ADVANTAGES OF GEOMETRY.
By this science, the architect is enabled to construct his plans and
execute his designs; the general to arrange his soldiers; the engineer
to mark out
ground for encampments; the geographer to give us the dimensions of the
world, and all things therein contained; to delineate the extent of
seas, and specify the divisions of empires, kingdoms, and provinces; by
it, also, the astronomer is enabled to make his observations, and to fix
the duration of times and seasons, years and cycles. In fine, geometry
is the foundation of architecture, and the root of the mathematics.
Teaches the art of forming concords, so as to compose delightful
harmony, by a mathematical and proportional arrangement of acute, grave,
and mixed sounds. This art, by a series of experiments, is reduced to a
demonstrative science, with respect to tones, and the intervals of
sound. It inquires into the nature of concords and discords, and enables
us to find out the proportion between them by
Is that Divine art by which we are taught to read the wisdom,
strength, and beauty of the Almighty Creator, in those sacred pages, the
celestial hemisphere. Assisted by astronomy, we can observe the motions,
measure the distances, comprehend the magnitudes, and calculate the
periods and eclipses of the heavenly bodies. By it we learn the use of
the globes, the system of the world, and the preliminary law of nature.
While we are employed in the study of this science, we must perceive
unparalleled instances of wisdom and goodness, and, through the whole
creation, trace the glorious Author by his works.
After this follows an emblem of PLENTY, which is symbolically
OF THE MORAL ADVANTAGES OF GEOMETRY.
From this theme we proceed to illustrate the moral advantages of
Geometry, a subject on which the following observations may not be
Geometry, the first and noblest of sciences, is the basis on which
the superstructure of Masonry is erected. By geometry we may curiously
trace nature, through het various windings, to her most concealed
recesses. By it we discover the power, the wisdom, and the goodness of
the Grand Artificer of the Universe, and view with delight the
proportions which connect this vast machine. By it we discover how the
planets move in their different orbits, and demonstrate their various
revolutions. By it we account for the return of seasons, and the variety
of scenes which each season displays to the discerning eye. Numberless
worlds are around us, all framed by the same Divine Artist, which roll
through the vast expanse, and are all conducted by the same unerring law
A survey of nature, and the observation of her beautiful proportions,
first determined man to imitate the Divine plan, and study symmetry and
order. This gave rise to societies, and birth to every useful art. The
architect began to design; and the plans which he laid down, being
improved by experience and time, have produced works which are the
admiration of every age.
The lapse of time, the ruthless hand of ignorance, and the
devastations of war, have laid waste and destroyed many valuable
monuments of antiquity on which the utmost exertions of human genius
have been employed. Even the Temple of Solomon, so spacious and
magnificent, and constructed by so many celebrated artists, escaped not
the unsparing ravages of barbarous force. Freemasonry, notwithstanding,
has still survived. The
receives the sound from the
and the mysteries of Masonry are safely lodged in the repository
Tools and implements of architecture are selected by the Fraternity
to imprint on the memory wise and serious truths; and thus, through a
succession of ages, are transmitted unimpaired the excellent tenets of
Thus end the two sections of the second lecture; which, with the
ceremony used at opening and closing the Lodge, comprehend the whole of
the second degree of Masonry. This lecture contains a regular system of
science, demonstrated on the clearest principles, and established on the
At Initiation into the Second Degree.
BROTHER: Being advanced to the second degree of Masonry, we
congratulate you on your preferment. The internal, and not the external,
qualifications of a man are what Masonry regards. As you increase in
knowledge, you will improve in social intercourse.
It is unnecessary to recapitulate the duties which, as a Mason, you
are bound to discharge, or enlarge on the necessity of a strict
adherence to them, as your own experience must have established their
Our laws and regulations you are strenuously to support, and be
always ready to assist in seeing them duly executed. You are not to
palliate or aggravate the offenses of your brethren; but in the decision
of every trespass against our rules you are to judge with candor,
admonish with friendship, and reprehend with justice.
The study of the liberal arts, that valuable branch of education,
which tends so effectually to polish and adorn the mind, is earnestly
recommended to your consideration, especially the science of geometry,
which is established as the basis of our art. Geometry or Masonry,
originally synonymous terms, being of a Divine and moral nature, is
enriched with the most useful knowledge: while it proves the wonderful
properties of nature, it demonstrates the more important truths of morality.
Your past behavior and regular deportment have merited the honor
which we have now conferred; and in your new character it is expected
that you will conform to the principles of the Order, by steadily
persevering in the practice of every commendable virtue.
Such is the nature of your engagements as a fellow-craft, and to
these duties you are bound by the most sacred
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