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THE FELLOWCRAFT LODGE
Tlte Apprentices' Training consisted of seven years of supervised work done answerably to the Master Mason to whom he was indentured. At the end of that time a report on him was made to the Lodge; he was examined for proficieney; and if he had proved himself a true and faithful workman he was set free from his indenture, could then live where he wished, go where he would, earn wages, could marry, and could have apprentices of his own. Insofar as he was now a full-fledged member of the Masonic Community, including the Lodge, he was called a Fellow of the Craft; insofar as he had mastered the art he was called a Master Mason. The principles and practices of this new status are the theme of the Lodge of Fellowcraft; ad for that reason, as is instantly apparent, the present name of that Lodge, including its Second Degree, is a misnomer; it should be "Lodge of Fellows of the Craft or Master Masons"; and it is also a misfortune (for reasons to be explained later) that the Lodge using the Third Degree should have appropriated the latter half of that name.
The Minutes of the earliest Speculative Lodges are meager on every subject, but are especially so on anything about the esoteric Work; but they contain data here and there, hints and indications, and from these we may piece out a picture of the ceremonies used at the Making of a Mason. It is evident that a prominent feature was the means used to set certain symbols and explanations before a Candidate. The Lodge might use a floor-cloth, an oiled fabric on which designs were drawn with chalk; or a tracing-board, a board of wood or slate on which they could be drawn or painted; or a number of actual objects could be laid out on a table, called a trestle-board; some Lodges may have used a combination of these methods.
The earliest of these tracing-boards (to give them collectively that name) which have been preserved show that the figures drawn on them referred at least in part to certain things mentioned in the first pages of the Old Charges, and prominent among these were the two pillars in which according to the legend the secrets of the arts and sciences were preserved through Noah's Flood. Later on the Five Columns of Graeco-Roman architecture were added, or else replaced them; and still later the two Great Pillars of Solomon's Temple were added. The key to a long chapter of the history of the Work is found in those pillars.
A Medieval Freemason would doubtless have drawn a picture of a Gothic cathedral to symbolize his art. In about the reign of Henry VII the Gothic Style was everywhere in England replaced by the newly-recovered Greek or Classical style, which w as also called the Palladian style after the name of the Italian architect who was its great exponent. This Greek style was summed up and embodied in the Five Columns (Doric Tuscan, Ionic, Corinthian, Composite) because it was believed that each of the secrets of the style could be found in them; and the Liberal Arts and Sciences were for many reasons closely connected with them. They, along with the Column, were added to the Lodge tracing-board at some time after the royal architect, Inigo Jones, brought the Graeco-Roman style back from Italy.
After the Bible began to be published in cheap editions, and especially in illustrated form, a passion for the Book spread rapidly across England, and with it began a wide popular interest in Solomon's Temple; that interest was greatly heightened by the display at two different times of large-scale models of the Temple in London. It was in this period that Solomon's Temple appeared upon the tracing-board, where it was represented by the Great Pillars. When models of the Pillars were first introduced into the Lodge room two globes, one of the sky, the other of the earth, were kept in convenient places to symbolize the universality of the Fraternity; later, these were placed on top of the Pillars (perhaps for convenience) and now are a part of them. Architecture is the background of the Second Degree as it is used in the Lodge of Fellowcrafts; it is represented by different buildings at different times, by the Gothic cathedral, which is pre supposed by Operative Masonry; by the Greek temple, represented by the Five Columns and the Arts and Sciences; and by Solomon's Temple, represented by the Pillars and by the Middle Chamber. Each of these styles embodies one of the many facets of architecture; but it matters little to the meaning of the Degree which of them is used (however confusingly) at any point, because together they represent the art of architecture, which in turn represents any form of work in which craftsmen may be engaged. The great lesson of the Degree is not that the Lodge is composed of masters of their craft but that because they thus are masters they must have and must use education. The "Passing" from the First Degree to the second is a passing— and how profound a truth it is!—from apprenticeship to education. Apprenticeship is for the boy; education is for the man.
During the period from the erection of the first Grand Lodge in 1717 A.D. to about 1740-50 A.D. chartered Lodges conferred only two Degrees, and stillexisting Lodge Minutes of that period indicate that about one-fourth of the Candidates were given both Degrees in the same evening—this was described as "making Masons," a very significant phrase because it shows that the Felloweraft Degree was thought of at the time as being what the Third Degree was to become later.
Was the Ritual of the Second Degree what it is now? The question is impossible to answer because no written records remain, but there are enough known facts to give us some guidance for a hypothesis: first, the Time Immemorial Lodges which worked before the first Grand Lodge was erected in 1717 A.D. did not have a uniform Ritual, and therefore differed much among themselves; second, what was in one Lodge only a sentence in a "lecture" was acted out in another Lodge; third, the new Masters' Lodges which began to be organized about 1725 A.D. worked apart from regular Chartered Lodges for many years and during that time the Chartered Lodges continued to confer the same two Degrees as before, and this would suggest that when the Master's Degree was added to the old two Degrees the Second Degree was left as it had been; fourth, the Monitorial Leetures adopted in about 1760 A.D. indicate that the present Second Degree had been long in existence.
If that is true then the Rite of the Middle Chamber was until the Middle of the Eighteenth Century (approximately) the climax of the Ritual of Making a Mason; and that fact, again supposing it to have been true, throws much light on the Middle Chamber, for it would mean that the Holy of Holies was the goal which the Candidate had reached; he had come as a petitioner from outside, he had as an Apprentiee toiled for years to master the art, and now at long last he had entered into possession of the inmost secrets of the art; he did not have to travel any farther; the poor Candidate is now rich with knowledge and skill, the blind Candidate has now seen everything there is to see, the bond and indentured boy is now a man and free to go and come as he will. He was at the center of the temple, was in possession of the holiest thing in the temple, because he was now able to build a temple. If this reading of the Middle Chamber appears to be an act of iconoclasm because it is at variance with the popularly-held theory that the Third Degree is the end and climax of Initiation, the answer would be that the fathers of Speculative Freemasonry were guilty of the same iconoelasm during the many decades when they conferred only two Degrees; also, the question will be put in a different light in later paragraphs.
It is an extraordinarily interesting and revealing fact that even as early as the first half of the Eighteenth Century the Lodge put the Liberal Arts and Sciences at the gateway to the Inner Chamber; and not merely, it is important to note, the Liberal Arts but also the Sciences. By that time the Liberal Arts were accepted and honored although they continued to be the privilege of the few because there was no system of public schools and colleges, no popular books or libraries, and the majority of men and women in the barbarously named "lower classes" could not read and write; nevertheless, and unlike the Middle Ages, the Church and the State no longer opposed the Liberal Arts. But the Seienees were still under a cloud; the Royal Society, which represented their first step toward recognition, was lampooned in newspapers and its members were hooted on the streets; Oxford and Cambridge would not teach science and the Church continued to ban it; it was not until a century afterwards, and in consequence of the great vogue of Darwin, that the warfare between theology and science broke into the open. The early Eighteenth Century Masonic Fraternity was ancient; it was cautions and conservative; it hated innovation and held novelties in contempt; but for all that it placed the Arts and Sciences at the heart of its most climactic ceremony
It is an even more remarkable fact that Freemasonry had always done so, even at the beginning of the Middle Ages when almost no man could read or write, and Sciences were dreaded for being a work of Satan, because Masons learned from their work that while ar Apprentice could learn skill by praetiee, a Mastel Mason needed more than skill; he needed knowledge also, and especially a knowledge of the Arts and Sciences. The Arts, said the Pope and his Cardinals, are the private property of a privileged few, not to be profaned by common workmen; not so, replied the Freemasons, because they are required in work. The Sciences, said everybody, are satanic, are black magic, are forbidden; not so, replied the Freemasons, fo without them you can have no churches, cathedrals, monasteries, castles, or public halls. Without education work cannot go on. What were the Liberal Arts and Sciences? The phrase was not a fixed catalog of a certain number of studies, but meant the curriculum, that is, the list of subjects which comprise an educatation. Those subjects are fundamentally the same everywhere and always: mathematics, language, history, physics, chemistry; and those subjects cannot be altered or omitted because without them the worlds work cannot go on, and if work does not go on peoples cannot continue to be. (The names of the arts and sciences given in the Monitor are merely typical and suggestive; at no time since the first Greek college of about 500 B.C. have the names fitted the subjects—a college course in political government, as we learn from Plato's Dialogues, might be called music).
Pictures of old Lodge Rooms and Tracing-boards prove that the two Globes were kept separately from the Pillars, and that they symbolized the universality of Freemasonry; this symbolism meant more to an Eighteenth Century Englishman or American than it can mean in the Twentieth Century, and it was far more audacious more revolutionary, than it can ever be again. What universality? In the middle of the Eighteenth Century a Mason would have given the same reply as a Mason of the Twentieth, but he would also have given a number of other replies, and the others would have been exciting to his mind because they were revolutionary; one of those replies would have been that since the Grand Lodge system was adopted Freemasonry has been universal among men in the many different forms of work—trades, professions, crafts, arts, etc.; another would have been that it is universal among the world's religions, a doctrine of great daring at a time when it was believed that only the Christian religion is true and others are lies, a third would have been that it is universal among the classes, from king to cobbler, and from millionaires to store clerks. Nothing can be universal in the mere geographic sense unless at the same time it is morally, ; intelectually, politically, economically, theologically, find racially universal.
When an Apprentice passes between the Great Pillars to become one of the Fellows of the Craft, a full-fledged member, the Globes remind him that it is not an exclusive club that he is joining, hat it is not even a Lodge that he is joining, but a world-wide fraternity with a membership as wide as mankind and a philosophy true for every people in it. It ought to be one of the most moving and thrilling noments in his progress when he realizes that from now on, and in a hundred countries, tens of thousands of Lodge doors are open to him!
THE MASTER MASON LODGE
The history of the Lodge of Master Masons is easiest grasped if we take a stand in England in about 1725 A.D. and then bring into view, one after another, a number of separate facts; once collected these facts tell their own story. There was much more ritualistic material in Freemasonry, and in circles auxiliary to Freemasonry, than were in use by the Rituals of the Grand Lodge or by any one Lodge. The same rite or symbol could take different forms, could be pictured on the Tracing-Board in one Lodge, stated in oral form in a "lecture" in another, acted out in a third.
There was nowhere an official, or standard, or uniform work. In addition to Masonry in the Grand Lodge and in the Lodges on its lists, there also were Masons and Masonic practices in other bodies and circles, especially in the independent (St. John's) Lodges which had not taken out a Grand Lodge Charter; and in the City Companies to which some Masons belonged. Whole ceremonies, and even complete Degrees, might be used in one Lodge and not in another. A number of Masonic traditions, stories, legends, tales, etc., floated about, and often they were not adopted and pinned down and made official by any Lodge—the story of Hiram may have been a floating tradition of that kind. The ritualistic material which belonged to the main stream of Masonic history was of an amount too large to be enclosed in two Degrees; it overflowed and grew, and some of it found its way afterwards, in one form or another, as ideas or as rites, into the High Grades and into many Side Orders.
(Side Orders began almost as soon as Speculative Freemasonry did.) A Lodge had much freedom to alter or modify its own Rituals.
While these facts are kept standing in the background yet another fact can be brought into the foreground where as I believe, it acted as a catalytic agent, and crystallized about itself many rites, symbols, and ideas which otherwise would have remained unorganized. This is the fact of Masonic office. It is unfortunate that the role and the significance of Masonic Officers has not been seen more clearly and understood more completely; they are entitled to a chapter of their own in any history of Freemasonry, and to more than a chapter in any book on the Rituals. In the first half of the Eighteenth Century Lodges elected new Officers twice a year. If there were on an average five elective Officers and five appointive Officers, a Lodge thus had twenty different Officers per year (although the same man would usually occupy a number of offices in succession). In the last half of the last year of a ten-year period a Lodge would thus have one Master and as many as nineteen Past Masters. Officers work together; they are on a staff; they serve under one head; their duties and functions and activities are easily distinguishable from other Lodge activities; also, in addition to being Officers they represent, or symbolize, or teach a set of ideas and truths which are both essential and fundamental to what I have been describing as the Masonic philosophy.
Thus just as we saw that there is a whole continent in the world of Freemasonry to which belongs everything having to do with the Apprentice (hence the First Degree) so is there similarly a continent to which belongs everything that has to do with Offiees, Officers, and the many things which they denote. The statement that they stand for much more than a set of organizational duties is proved by the fact that Officers have an integral part in the Three Degrees and in them often are used as rites and symbols. The whole body of Officers along with the ideas embodied in them comprise a special philosophy which belongs to the general Masonic philosophy; Officers themselves, if they examine their own feelings, are conscious of this, and there is therefore such a thing in Masonry as "Officers' Consciousness"—a fact which appears in modern American Masters' and Past Masters' Associations. And the fact that Offices are Landmarks, that they stand Dear the center of Freemasonry, and belong to its flesh and bone, is also proved by the ancient custom of the Installation of the Master; nothing aroused more resentment against the Grand Lodge of 1717 A.D. than its dropping that Ceremony out of the Lodge, and nothing won more support for the Antient (and rival) Grand Lodge of 1751 A.D. than its restoration of that Ceremony to its original place.
It is my belief that these many background and foreground facts taken together explain why it was that a Masters' Lodge appeared on the Grand Lodge list in 1725 A.D. and was followed by many others. We do not know much about them but the available data show that theywere organized separately from the regu lar Chartered Lodges, though with Grand Lodge appro val; that while a few of them met in the rooms or buildings of the Chartered Lodges most of them met separately, and (apparently) often met on Sunday; and that Masters and Past Masters (actual or virtually were eligible to join them. They had their own Officers and treasury, and their Ritual. It is also my belief that their Ritual was the original of our present Third Degree; and there is also reason to believe that when these Masters' Lodges became consolidated w ith the regular Chartered Lodges one portion of their own Ritual was separated off to become the Royal Arch Degree which later became the Royal Arch Chapter. If our nomenclature were correct the Second Degree would be called the Master Mason degree because it is composed of Craftsmen who have completed their apprenticeship and have therefore become masters of their art; the Third Degree would be called the Master of Masons Degree.
The Jerusalem Temple was a shrine rather than a temple because it was built to house certain sacred things, and because it had a corps of priests to take care of it, and because worshippers did not enter it but remained in the open for their ceremonies and celebrations. Of world-famous buildings it was perhaps the smallest, being only some thirty-five feet wide and ninety feet long and except for the tower over the entrance was only one storey high. Its side wall consisted of two walls about six to eight feet apart; the space between was divided into three stories and cut into small rooms; the latter were entered from an outside stairway. The Temple was one among many buildings which stood on the leveled top of a low hill (probably Mt. Moriah) surrounded by a stone wall, enclosing Solomon's palaces, offices, courts of justice, headquarters for troops, gardens, etc. The national centers of religion and government were thus in the same place, and the enclosure as a whole was therefore the national capitol, and it continued to be so for almost five centuries. When the Jewish people at home or abroad spoke or thought or dreamed of their Temple it was of this capitol that they were thinking, for it was the heart of their patriotism and the head of their nation.
The Temple was built by Tyrian architects on an arrangement made by King Solomon with King Hiram of Tyre; it was in the Tyrian style, took six and one-half years to build, and cost a large sum of money, the exact amount of which is unknown. The Tyrian style was low and heavy, its buildings covered too much ground for their height and the general effect was too much that of cumbersome walls or of cubes piled together, but it redeemed itself from this squat clumsiness by the use of fine materials and by countless decorations in bright colors, and by employing the Oriental device of making a building and its grounds a single architectural unit. It is the testimony of the Jews themselves over five centuries as well as of travellers from abroad that the enclosure as a whole was very beautiful, and that from a distance it shone like a jewel, or like a bright city suspended in the air. Hiram, the master architect (not the King), designed it to give that effect.
In one sense it is this temple built by Solomon which appears in the Second and Third Degrees; in another sense Solomon's Temple appears nowhere in Masonry except as a name. The Freemasons in whose hands those Degrees took shape were neither historians nor theologians; it mattered nothing to them that their uses of the Temple were full of impossibilities, and anachronisms, and unhistoricities because they were ritualists, and ritual has no connection with history.
There is no mention in the Book of Kings of any such event as that which comprises most of the Third Degree. The stairs of Solomon's Temple were straight, not winding, were on the outside, not on the inside.
Nobody but the High Priest could enter the Temple and then but once a year, and he certainly never entered the Holy of Holies itself; had a Master Mason ever conducted an Apprentice into it they would both have been slain for sacrilege by the Temple Guards. There were chapiters, or basket-shaped capitals, on the Pillars in front of the Entrance, but there were no Globes, least of all a terrestrial globe at a time when every man believed the earth to be flat, and twice as long as wide; nor were there any Greek columns in it, or any lectures about the Liberal Arts and Sciences; moreover the latter were unheard of until some five centuries after the Temple was built.
There is a reference to the Temple and to Hiram the architect in the Book of Constitutions of 1723 A-D. but it stands among references to other buildings and architects, and nowhere implies that Freemasonry was founded by Solomon or is a perpetuation of an ancient Jewish Mystery. How old is the Third Degree? Where and by whom was it originated? The answer to those questions is determined by u hat "Third Degree" is taken to mean, If by it is meant the Degree of Master Mason as it is conferred in American Lodges the answer is that the data thus far discovered show it to have been developed and organized and added to the other two Degrees by English Speculative Masons during the period 1725 A.D. to 1750 A.D. If by the Third Degree is meant a more-or-less organized set of rites and symbols flexibly built around the story of the Raising it was most probably in use in Lodges here and there before 1725 A.D. If by the Third Degree is meant the story (or rite, or tragedy, or drama—different terms are used) of Hiram Abif the internal evidence indicates that it is much older than the Eighteenth Century. In its spirit and feeling and action it is far more Medieval than modern. It is impossible to believe that Masters, and Past Masters, and especially at a time when Freemasonry was so cautious and conservative that it would not even permit Masonic books to be written t (with only a few exceptions), would approve a whole new Degree invented out of hand by contemporaries; fl in the first books which Grand Lodge approved for publication (Calcott, Preston, etc.) the Third Degree is accepted as a matter of course and is discussed as if, the writers took it to be the oldest rite in the Craft. The Penalties in their present form are referred to in print in 1700 A.D. and since they are unintelligible apart from the story of Hiram then the latter must have been in use as early as that date.
The written records of Seventeenth Century Lodges refer to outdoor ceremonies, and every Master Mason knows why it would have been appropriate to enact the rite of the Raising outdoors.
In the Middle Ages there were many times as many acted stories, plays, dramas pageants, elaborate ceremonies as in modern times because acting and spectacles were a substitute for written books—a Medieval Operative Lodge was more likely to have such a rite as that of the Raising than a Modern Lodge and not less likely, as so often it has been assumed.
The author of the original of the Old Charges took his ancient history not from the Old testament but from some polychrontcon, a name given to collections of writings which contained hundreds of short items of many sorts like an encyclopedia; the story of the Tragedy of HA.° . might have been found in a polychrontcon no longer in existence. It may be that a ceremony of Ralsing was used in the earliest Operative period when admitting an Apprentice, for a purpose easily understood, and that this old rite was given an Old Testament setting after the Bible became a popular book.
It is also possible that the root of the story was in the martyrdom of Thomas à Becket because the circumstances of his death and burial arestrikingly similar to the Legend of Hiram, and this possibility is reinforced by the fact that the Masons' City's Companies had St. Thomas as their Patron, went in procession to his chapel on his day, and supported St. Thomas' Hospitals; the theory that the Lodges inherited the story from a memorial ceremony performed by City Company Masons at St. Thomas chapels is not incredible; it is certain that Lodges inherited some practices from the City Companies, and there was a very close relationship between the Masons Company of London and the first Grand Lodge.
The setting of the Third Degree is Solomon's Temple; the building itself is in the background and the action occurs outdoors in the temple precincts, with one episode occurring outside the city walls. This is setting, and setting only; the whole story could be translated into the setting of a Greek temple or a Medieval cathedral without change in meaning.
The action centers in Hiram Abif, the Tyrian (not Jewish) architect who was for years executive head of hundreds of craftsmen, who was architect-in-chief and the only craftsman who carried the whole of the Temple Plans and designs in his mind, and at the same time the official liaison officer between the Masons and King Solomon, their employer.
Solomon has a part, not as king but as temporary incumbent of the Grand Mastership. The action is carried out by the Officers who assist the Master of Masons, or Grand Master; the rank and file of Craftsmen do not appear except in the person of the Ruffians. This last fact becomes the more startling the more one ponders upon it, and explains why the Raising has been described as a Tragedy (though in the technical sense used by dramatists it is not one); in the first Degree the Apprentice is told how ancient and honorable is Freemasonry, and to what a high place he will have climbed when he has reached it; the Second Degree exhibits the mastery of the art as an entrance into the very Holy of Holies; and now in the Third Degree men who have come from that Holy of Holies suddenly reappear as criminals!
Government is the theme of the Degree. It is represented by the person of the Grand Master and his assisting Officers. If government fails death and destruction follow; if death and destruction come men must drop everything else in order to recover government.
Without government there can be no work; neither can there be workmen, for crime respects neither persons nor things. Men cannot work and therefore cannot live unless they are capable and equipped to destroy, kill, shatter, cut, pound, break, tear, or obliterate material things and living plants and animals; how shall they be prevented from turning these means and powers of destruction upon others or upon themselves? Only by the law, and the law must be instituted in a government, and government acts by means of its own officers, and these officers, like soldiers, are under oath and do not act in their own name and person nor according to their own desires but under orders and as agents of the dread power of the law, and they must thus act even at the cost of their own lives; they are a pledge, or, as it were, a blood offering, which a people must make to protect itself against its own impulses of destruction.
The law is everywhere and always and for every people the one thing: "Thou shalt not destroy another." Government compels men to act lawfully, and does so by force. There could be no greater mistake than to suppose that government is for a people only as a people or as a nation, or is only for "public" uses or "general affairs"; the Third Degree makes that fact abundantly clear, for it shows that government is one of the absolute necessities in work, and that there can be no work in any form nor workmen either where there is no government.
There could be no home or family without it either, or religion, or art, or science, or schools, or highways, or any means of general information, but those subjects belong elsewhere; to the Third Degree belongs only the subject of the law as it is in work and among workmen, and it is impossible to think of a more truthful, profound, and convincing presentation of that theme. Nor is it one of theory only, or of hope; from time immemorial, Lodges have been regular, chartered, duly constituted, according to rules and regulations, observers of Aneient Landmarks, and have been ruled and governed by elective and appointed Officers who are incumbents of Offices possessing inherent powers and not to be removed or altered except when they violate the Landmarks. These Officers are agents of the Masonic law in their official capacity; they are also symbols and rites full of meanings which are not the private property of Masons but belong to government and offices wherever men are at work.
The Master of Masons was busy about his lawful occasions; a crime was committed; the Master disappeared, and with him disappeared government and also disappeared the one craftsman who had knowledge of the plans and designs for the building as a whole without which the craftsmen could not work as a body. Solomon took the Grand Master's place temporarily; but he had his own duties as a King was not an architect, and therefore could sit in the Grand East only through the hour of crisis; in the same moment the craftsmen laid down their tools, gathered in a body, and were prepared to give their undivided time to the restoration of government.
Thus far the enacted story is a transparent allegory, simple and true, so true that it is almost a transcript, at least in essentials, of what peoples have done hundreds of times when their government has been destroyed out from under them. Hiram Abif himself did not return; never again did he sit in the Grand East; his face was no longer seen among his fellows; the man of unsurpassed skill, devoted to wisdom, strength, and beauty, became a memory; as for the Ruffians they did not even remain as a memory. In the place of Hiram another craftsman was raised up to take over his duties ("substitute"), and thus government was restored. Who? The Candidate! And who is he? Any Master Mason! The answer is infinitely suggestive, one upon which any member in any Lodge can continue to think as long as he lives.
There is more, then, to being a workman than to learn skill during apprenticeship; more than to earn wages by practicing an art; the workman, and by virtue of his being a workman, also is a citizen, and as citizen he must be prepared and willing to under take the hazards and burdens of government. Unless and until he can govern others, and can govern himself, he cannot be an independent man or a free man, but must be a subject or live in servility, and thereby be not a whole man but only a fragment of a man. The Third Degree is so remote from work with tools and has in it so much of religion, so much which, according to a familiar way of speech, belongs to the soul, that some commentators on the Ritual find it difficult to believe that this Degree could ever have had any connection with Operative Masons; it must have come from some other source, they think, perhaps from religious mysticism, per haps from some inner circle in the Medieval Church.
To that two answers can be given, both equally true:
The first permanent Lodges inherited the Masonic Community as a whole; at no time did they confine themselves merely to tools and their use, or to stone cutting, or to technical building practices.
The Apprentice entered the Masonic Community, and not merely a circle of men when at work; he was to become a Freemason throughout the twenty-four hours of the day; the rules and regulations governed him when at home and in the night when he was resting or studying as much as when he was at work; in that Community there was much religion, far more than in any modern community of a comparable kind. The presence of religion, or at least of certain acts which belong to religion, in the midst of a set of practices which perpetuate the usages of Operative Masons, should occasion no surprise; any historian intimately acquainted with the workmen of the Middle Ages would be more surprised to find no religion in them.
Second, Freemasons now, like Freemasons for eight centuries, do not believe that religion is or ever can be a monopoly owned by any church or even by any one of the organized world religions. They believe that religion belongs to man as man, and therefore to each man everywhere, belongs to him as does breathing or eating, or sleeping, that he is free to use it when or how he needs to, and that he never is bound to ask permission of priests or policemen to do so. If a man desires to worship he is free to do so where he stands; if he is in want of prayer he can pray. If workmen wish to pray and worship there is nobody to forbid them; they have as much right to turn the Lodge into an altar as they have to sit or stand or speak. Why should they? Because there is something in work which is very near to prayer and a sort of worship, after the truth of the saying that "to labor is to pray"; down among the roots of it is something desperate, hazardous, absolute, ineffable.
The man at work is like Jacob wrestling with the angel in the darkness; it is as if the God of Life had hidden himself away, like ore in the heart of a mountain, and the man must toil and sweat to dig down to find him else neither the man nor his family can live; and even that is not all, for it is hazardous as well as hard, and labor has its casualties like a battle and work "hath its victories no less renowned than war". The things which a man must have in order to be are not there Iying about him when he is born; there is soil but no food, ore but no machines, trees but no houses; it is as if he were acting out a prayer when he wrestles with the stone, and burrows into the mountain, and digs in the soil, and ventures upon the sea. Upon the forehead of the world is written an eternal motto: "Thou shalt work, or thou shalt surely die."
We don't work because we pray, or because our worship leads us to, or in obedience to the Bibles; we have Bibles, and we pray, and we worship because we work.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the world is a Lodge, or that God is the Grand Architect, or that man is destined to be an apprentice and called to be a master and is under a fateful responsibility to govern himself and his world.
Men and women in the Middle Ages did not have the Bible. A few of them, and very few, could read or write, and there was no printing. A complete copy of the Bible hand-written on parchment cost more than a farm; but even if each man could have afforded a copy the Church would not have permitted him to read it or to try to understand it. The Church itself was religion.
Stories of saints, tales of wonders, tales of miracles and of visitations and of strange catastrophes, and traditions of old time accumulated within and around it, and this body of oral stories rather than the Old and New Testament were the popular Bible; and even when these stories concerned such Bible events and personages as the Flood, Babel, the Plagues, Adam, Cain, Noah, etc., they were drawn from the floating oral traditions and not from the Bible. Scholars of the time collected as many of these items, tales, stories, fragments ("ana") as they could and had scribes write them down in long manuscripts called polychronicons. It was from such a polychronicon, as he himself informs us, that the author of the original version of the Old Charges took the stories of Noah and Euclid and other ancient worthies which he incorporated in a the first portion of his manuscript. How many flowing stories and tales and traditions of architecture the Freemasons had among themselves we cannot know but since we know that other crafts had such bodies of traditions it is reasonable to oelieve that the Freemasons were not an exception.
In addition to these they had a body of rules and regulations ("points") and a certain number of recognized but unwritten laws or fundamentals which in the Modern period are called Landmarks. Prior to about 1350 A.D. these were in oral form, transmitted from mouth to ear; after such of them as were needed were written down in the Old Charges a copy of that document was kept in the Lodge, possibly in a muniment chest (a "box," or "ark" or "lodge"), and by the beginning of the Eighteenth Century a copy was kept on a pedestal in front of the Masters' station, with three small candles ("lesser lights") to illuminate it, wher where it served as charter, as the book of laws, as a sanction for oaths, and as the repository of a number of Craft traditions. The Grand Lodge version of the Old Charges in the form of the printed Book of Constitutions (1723 A-D-) gradually took its place after the Grand Lodge system was established; and it in turn was replaced by the Holy Bible about 1760 A.D. and the pedestal was thereby transformed into an altar.
Because it was not used as a book of religion nor a text of theology but as a form of the Old Charges it was given the Masonic name of the Volume of the Sacred Law. In countries with other Bibles Lodges are permitted to use in its place such writings of a similar kind as the Old Testament, the Koran, the Vedas, the Analects, and the Zend-Avesta. These facts explain why there is so much in the Three Degrees that is religious and Biblical and yet why so little of it is taken from the Bible itself; they prove that the Fraternity is not a religion, is the rival of no church, and has no theology of its own; and they make clear how it could come about that the Third Degree, with the Temple as its setting and Jerusalem as its place, has so little in it that can be found in the Books of Kings and Chronicles themselves. If the Degree had wholly originated in the second quarter of the Eighteenth Century it would have been formed in Eighteenth Century Latinized English as Preston's Monitorial Lectures were, and it would have followed the text of the Books of Kings and Chronicles as those Lectures do; but it is o wholly unlike any other known Eighteenth Century production, and in spirit, action, motive, and method is so very much like known Medieval productions, that though the first known Masters' Lodge did not appear until 1725 A.D. the ritualistic materials which it chose and which it organized into a Degree must have been far older.
A Degree is not itself a Lodge, nor is it a Communication by a Lodge. It is an organized rite or set of rites, with a beginning, an end, a theme, and belongs to a Lodge; the three Degrees taken together are the ritualistic means by which a man is Made a Mason. The fact that they are separately conferred on different occasions has nothing to do with it; they would continue to be separate and distinct Degrees even it they were linked together and conferred at one occasion because each is the separate and complete embodiment of one of the Masonic themes. They are not on three separate stages or levels or terraces, one above the other, so that a Candidate in the Third Degree can look not only backwards but downwards on a Candidate in the Second, and he in turn on the first; they stand on the same level together and one is not "higher" than the other. Neither are they milestones which remain standing, so that a Candidate leaves them behind, and when he has finished with one of them is done with it, as Senior in High School is done with the eighth grace; in that sense the Candidate does not progress because he makes no journey but remains in the same Room and among the same members from beginning to end.
There is much in Ancient Craft Freemasonry that is not contained or even adumbrated in the Three Degrees and there would be no Chartered Lodge if that were not true. The Chartered Lodge itself is much more than those Three Degrees, so much more that it holds its own regular or called Communications at intervals of one to four weeks, and a member of it belongs to all that the Chartered Lodge is; the same member belongs also to his Grand Lodge, a fact which has been obscured by the practice of having members represented in Grand Communications by delegates. But he belongs to more than a Grand Lodge; he belongs to the world Freemasonry in all the many countries in which it has set up its Altars and opened its Communications. How does he become a member of a fraternity so great and good? Only by being a Frees mason; he becomes a Freemason by being made one, which means infinitely more than to pay a fee and sign a card; he is Made a Mason by a Chartered Lodge which uses the Three Degreés to make him, and that is their meaning and purpose in the Fraternity.
Authors Note. The Masonie writers of the type of Anderson, Preston and Oliver who monopolized our literature until the middle of the Nineteenth Century filled the Fraternity with irresponsible guesses palmed off as sober history, and attributed to it whatever degree of antiquity they took a fancy to; thus Oliver, in a perfervid excess of pious zeal, declared Freemasonry to be even older than the world ! When professional scholars brought to the problem of Masonic history the same canons and techniques that were used elsewhere they felt so great a revulsion from the unlicensed fancies of Oliver and his school that they reacted to the opposite extreme; W. J. Hughan carried his conscientious cautiousness almost to the vice of scrupulousness, and R. F. Gould was filled with an almost personal hatred of "the old writers"; at times they and their colleagues give their readers the impression that they would have felt it a personal satisfaotion if they could have proved that Freemasonry was created out of nothing in 1717 A.D. by a sanhedrin of choice gentlemen. After a continual study of Masonic history for some thirty years I should as lief go to the one extreme with Oliver as to the other with Hughan, and I do not believe that it will ever be possible to prove that the Third Degree was invented out of hand by a small group of Londoners in a Masters' Lodge in 1725 A.D. The Freemasonry of the Chartered and permanent Lodges has always been embedded in the matrix of the whole of the craft of builders, and has at one point or another changed correspondingly to changes in that Craft; the same Freemasonry also has changed within itself, and had to do so in order to perpetuate itself in a world in which changes occur whether men wish them to or not; but these were changes in that Freemasonry rather than changes of it, and ] atn of the belief that Freemasonry, even as it now stands, and allowing for many alterations, is far older than rightly cautious students still believe, and this holds especially true of the Third Degree.
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