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Ahiman Rezon of Georgia,- and it is often used by those who are not initiated, as a means of amusement. However the use of these curious characters is common on the Royal Arch Ark of the Chapters and is officially recognized by the General Grand Chapter of the United States. In the instructions of the Oliver Ritual, purporting to be used in 1749 at London, there is this explanation, " You are also, my brethren, entitled as Master Masons to the use of an alphabet which our venerable Grand Master Hiram Abif employed in communications with King Solomon at Jerusalem and King Hiram at Tyre. It is geometriek in its character and is therefore eminently useful to Master Masons in general. By means of two squares and a mallet a brother may make the whole alphabet and even silently convey his ideas to another. That this geometriek alphabet may be easily 1earned and remembered, I will now entrust you with the key thereof."
Some present-day Lodge Boards have characters which must be read backwards. Brother Edward H. oring (Transactions, Quatuor Coronati Lodge, volume xxix, pages 243-64) has an article on "The Evolution and oevelopment of the Tracing or Lodge Board" in which he states that this reversal took place about the year 1825, and has been perpetuated ever since. On the old-time Lodge Board the dot is not used to indicate the second time the key diagram is used, and thus each character may stand for either of two letters.
Browne and Finch printed books intended only for Freemasons, and not as expositions, invented ciphers for their own use, and supplied their initiated readers with the key. Without a key, their works are un intelligible, except by the art of the decipherer.
Although not used in the first three degrees, the cipher is common in the advanced degrees, of which there is scarcely one which has not had its peculiar cipher. But for the purposes of concealment, the cipher is no longer of any practical use. The art of deciphering has been brought to so great a state of perfection that there is no cipher so complicated as to bid defiance for many hours to the penetrating skill of the experienced decipherer. Hence, the cipher has gone out of general use in Freemasonry as it has among diplomatists, who are compelled to communicate with their respective countries by methods more secret than any that can be supplied by a dispatch written in cipher. Edgar AA Poe has justly said, in his story of The Gold Bug, that ''it may well be doubted whether human ingenuity can construct an enima of the kind, which human ingenuity may not, by proper application, resolve. "
But there are some interesting instances of the use of a cipher outside the field of fiction (see Masonic Cipher Message, A Mysterious)
A necessary watchfulness is recommended to every man, but in a Freemason it becomes a positive duty, and the neglect of it constitutes a heinous crime. On this subject, the Old Charges of 1722 (vi, 4) are explicit. "You shall be cautious in your words and carriage, that the most penetrating stranger shall not be able to discover or find out what is not proper to be imitated; and sometimes you shall divert a discourse and manage it prudently for the Honour of the Worshipful Fraternity" (Constitutions, 1723, page 55).
CITY OF DAVID.
A section in the southern part of Jerusalem, embracing Mount Zion, where a fortress of the Jebusites stood, which David reduced, and where he built a new palace and city, to which he gave his own name.
CITY OF THE GREAT KING.
Jerusalem, so called in Psalm xlviii, 2, and by the Savior in Matthew v, 35.
CIVILIZATION AND FREEMASONRY.
Those who investigate in the proper spirit the history of Speculative Freemasonry will be strongly impressed with the pecullar relations that exist between the history of Freemasonry and that of civilization. They will find these facts to be patent: that Freemasonry has ever been the result of civilization ; that in the most ancient times the spirit of Freemasonry and the spirit of civilization have always gone together; that the progress of both has been with equal strides; that where there has been no appearance of civilization there has been no trace of Freemasonry; and, finally, that wherever Freemasonry has existed in any of its forms, there it has been surrounded and sustained by civilization, which social condition it in turn elevated and purified, Speculative Freemasonry, therefore, seems to have been a necessary result of civilization, It is, even in its primitive and most simple forms, to be found among no barbarous or savage people. Such a state of society has never been capable of introducing or maintaining its abstract principles of divine truth.
But while Speculative Freemasonry is the result of civilization, existing only, in its bosom and never found among barbarous or savage races, it has, by a reactionary law of sociology, proved the means of extending and elevating the civilization to which it originally owed its birth. Civilization has always been progressive. That of Pelasgic Greece was far behind that which distinguished the Hellenic period of the same country. The civilization of the ancient world was inferior to that of the modern, and every century shows an advancement in the moral, intellectual, and social condition of mankind.
But in this progress from imperfection to perfection the influence of those speculative systems that are identical with Freemasonry has always been seen and felt. Let us, for an example, look at the ancient heathen world and its impure religions. While the people of Paganism bowed, in their ignorance, to a many-headed god, or, rather, worshiped at the shrines of many gods, whose mythological history and character must have exercised a pernicious effect on the moral purity of their worshipers, speculative Philosophy, in the form of the Ancient Mysteries, was exercising its influence upon a large class of neophytes and disciples, by giving this true symbolic interpretation of the old religious myths. In the adyta or secret shrines of their temples in Greece and Rome and Egypt, in the sacred caves of India; and in consecrated groves of Scandinavia and Gaul and Britain, these ancient sages were secretly divesting the Pagan faith of its polytheism and of its anthropomorphic deities, and were establishing a pure monotheism in its place, and illustrating, by a peculiar symbolism, the great dogmas-since taught in Freemasonry--of the unity of God and the immortality of the soul.
And in modern times, when the religious thought of mankind, under a better dispensation, has not required this purification, Freemasonry still, in other ways, exerts its influence in elevating the tone of civilization ; for through its working the social feelings have been strengthened, the amenities and charities of life been refined and extended, and, as we have had recent reason to know and see, the very bitterness of strife and the blood-guiltiness of war have been softened and oftentimes obliterated.
We then arrive at these conelusions, namely, that Speculative Freemasonry is a result of civilization, for it exists in no savage or barbarous state of society, but has always appeared with the advent in any country of a condition of civilization, "grown with its growth and strengthened with its strength" ; and, in retum, has proved, by a reactionary influence, a potent instrument in extending, elevating, and refining the civilization which gave it birth, by advancing its moral, intellectual, and religious character.
The duty of closing the Lodge is as imperative, and the ceremony as solemn, as that of opening ; nor should it ever be omitted through negligence, nor hurried over with haste. Everything should be performed with order and precision, so that no Brother shall go away dissatisfied. From the very nature of our Constitution, a Lodge cannot properly be adjoumed. It must be closed either in due form, or the Brethren called off to refreshment. But an adjournment on motion, as in other societies, is unknown to the Order. The Master can alone dismiss the Brethren, and that dismission must take place after a settled usage. In Grand Lodges which meet for several days successively, the session is generally continued from day to day, by calling to refreshment at the termination of each day's sitting.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014