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In all the Rites of Freemasonry, no matter how variant may be their organisation in the advanced Degrees, the Master Mason constitutes the Third Degree. In form this Degree is also everywhere substantially the same, because its legend is an essential part of it; and, as on that legend the Degree must be founded. there can nowhere be any important variation, because the tradition has at all times been the same.
The .Master Masons Degree was originally called the summit of Ancient Craft Masonry; and so it must have been before the disseverance from it of the Royal Arch by which is meant not the ritual, but the symbolism of Arch Masonry. But under its present organization the Degree is actually incomplete, because it needs a complement that is only to be supplied in a higher one. Hence its symbolism is necessarily restricted, in its mutilated form, to the first Temple and the present life, although it gives the assurance of a future one.
As the whole system of Craft Masonry is intended to present the symbolic idea of man passing through the pilgrimage of life, each Degree is appropriated to a certain portion of that pilgrimage. If, then, the First Degree is a representation of y outh, the time to learn, and the Second of manhood or the time to work, the Third is symbolic of old age, with its trials, its sufferings, and its final termination in death. The time for toiling is now over—the opportunity to learn has passed away—the spiritual temple that we have all been striving to erect in our hearts, is now nearly completed and the wearied workman awaits only the word of the Grand Master of the Universe, to call him from the labors of earth to the eternal refreshments of heaven.
Hence, this is, by far, the most solemn and sacred of the Degrees of Freemasonry; and it has, in consequence of the profound truths which it inculcates, been distinguished by the Craft as the Sublime Degree.
As an Entered Apprentice, the Freemason was taught those elementary instructions which were to fit him for further advancement in his profession, just as the youth is supplied with that rudimentary education which is to prepare him for entering on the active duties of life; as a Fellow Craft, he is directed to continue his investigations in the science of the Institution, and to labor diligently in the tasks it prescribes, just as the man is required to enlarge his mind by the acquisition of new ideas, and to extend his usefulness to his fellow-creatures; but, as a Master Mason, he is taught the last, the most important, and the most necessary of truths, that having been faithful to all his trusts, he is at last to die, and to receive the reward of his fidelity. It was the single object of all the ancient rites and masteries practised in the very bosom of Pagan darkness, shining as a solitarr beacon in all that surrounding gloom, and cheering the philosopher in his weary pilgrimage of life, to teach the immortality of the soul.
This is still the great design of the Third Degree of Freemasonry. This is the scope and aim of its ritual.
The Master Mason represents man, when youth, manhood, old age, and life itself, have passed away as fleeting shadows, yet raised from the grave of iniquity, and quickened into another and better existence. By its legend and all its ritual it is implied that we have been redeemed from the death of sin and the sepulcher of pollution. Doctor Crucefix says:
The ceremonies and the lecture beautifully illustrate this all-engrossing subject, and the conclusion we arrive at is, that youth, properly directed, leads us to honorable and virtuous maturity and that the life of man, regulated by morality, faith, and justice, will be rewarded yat its closing hour, by the prospect of eternal bliss.
Masonic historians have found much difficulty in settling the question as to the time of the invention and composition of the Degree. The theory that at the building of the Temple of Jerusalem the Craft were divided into three or even more Degrees, being only a symbolic myth, must be discarded in any historical discussion of the subject. The real question at issue is whether the Master Mason's Degree, as a Degree, was in existence among the Operative Freemasons before the eighteenth century, or whether we owe it to the Revivalists of 1717. Brother Fm. J. Hughan. in a very able article on this subject, published in 1873, in the Voice of Masonry, says that "so far the evidence respecting its history goes no farther back than the early part of the last (eighteenth) century." The evidence, however, is all of a negative character. There is none that the Degree existed in the seventeenth century or earlier, and there is none that it did not. All the old manuscripts speak of Masters and Fellows, but these might have been and probably were only titles of rank.
The Sloane Manuscript, No. 3329, speaks, it is true, of modes of recognition peculiar to Masters and Fellows, and also of a Lodge consisting of Masters, Fellows and Apprentices. But even if we give to this Manuscript, its earliest date, that which is assigned to it by Findel, near the end of the seventeenth century, it will not necessarily follow that these Masters, Fellows, and Apprentices had each a separate and distinct Degree. Indeed, it refers only to one Lodge, which was, however, constituted by three different ranks; and it records but one oath, so that it is possible that there was only one common form of initiation.
The first positive historical evidence that we have of the existence of a Master's Degree is to be found in the General Regulations compiled by Payne in 1720. It is there declared that Apprentices must be admitted Masters and Fellow Crafts only in the Grand Lodge. The Degree was then in existence. But this record would not militate against the theory advanced by some that Desaguliers was its author in 1717. Dermott asserts that the Degree, as we now have it, was the work of Desaguliers and seven others, who, being Fellow Crafts, but not knowing the Masters part, boldly invented it, that they might organize a Grand Lodge. He intimates that the true Master's Degree existed before that time, and was in possession of the Antients. But in Doctor Mackey's opinion Dermott's testimony is absolutely worth nothing, because he was a violent partisan, and because his statements are irreconcilable with other facts. If the Antients were in possession of the Degree which had existed before 1717, and the Moderns were not, where did the former get it?
Documentary evidence is yet wanting to settle the precise time of the composition of the Third Degree as we now have it. But it would not be prudent to oppose too positively the theory that it must be traced to the second decade of the eighteenth century. The proofs, as they arise day by day, from the resurrection of old manuscripts, seem to incline that way.
But the legend, perhaps, is of much older date. It may have made a part of the general initiation; but there is no doubt that, like the similar one of the Compagnons de la Tour in France, it existed among the Operative Gilds of the Middle Ages as an esoteric narrative. Such a legend all the histories of the Ancient Mysteries prove to us belong to the spirit of initiation. There would have been no initiation north preservation without it.
An instructive paper by Brother J. E. S. Tuckett, read before the Somerset Plasters Lodge, 090. 3/46 (October 31, 1921) on the Hiraldic Legend, says:
Formerly it was believed that the Bodleian possesses an Arabic Manuscript in Hebrew characters. containing proof that the story of Hiram's fate is at least as old as the fifteenth century But it is now felt that Professor Marks was mistaken, and that the evidential Value of his find is in reality nil (see Transactions, Quatuor Coronati Lodge, Volume i, page 25 v 228, xxxii 34 j . But in 1892, brother Rev. C. J. Bali, of world-wide reputation as an authority on Semitie and Oriental languages and writings, produced a notable paper Proper names of Masonic Tradition - A Philolog,tical Study (see Transactions Quatuor Coronati Lodge, volume v, page 136, see also volume xi page 39) and his conclusions have met with general approval. So that if the present writer assumes that the Legend—simply as n Legend, and not necessarily Masonic- is older than 1717, he does so on the authority of Brother Ball. The object of this paper is to show how reasonable is the view that the Hiramic Legend of the Death of the Builder was already a part of Masonry before—but without any attempt to decide how long before—the creation of Grand Lodge.
There is one point upon which all Masonic students seem to oe in accord. and that is that in the days before the Grand Lodge period Freemasonry was unprovided with anything elaborate in the way of Ceremonial, however abundant may have been its store of Legend and Symbolism Brother F. W. Golby, A Century ok Stability (page 14), has made the following striking suggestion:
" Probably, after an invocation the candidate was obligated and entrusted, and then seated in the Lodge, whilst a catechism of questions and answers was put by the Master to the Brethren in rotation somewhat in the same manner as the Masonic Lectures, as they are called, are taught in many Lodges of Instruction at the present time, and known in the olden days as the Circular Method of imparting Masonic knowledge." This may very well lie a true picture, and certainty it harmonises with what we know of the earliest meetings of the earliest of Grand Lodges. The curious Catechisms, known technically as Masonic Lectures, have been the occasion of much controversy and not a little misconception as to facts, and in spite of oft-repeated statements to the contrary, it seems clear that no special system of such Lectures at any time received the official stamp of adoption by Grand Lodge.
It is generally agreed that the period 1718 to 1730 was marked by ceremonial developments within the Grand Lodge section of the Craft involving the drawing up of definite ritual forms. Under the auspices of the new Grand Lodge "The Third Degree" appears in place of "The Master's Part." Brother Speth made the im portant suggestion that " The Master 's Part" means " the pact about the Master Builder Hiram " and not, as might be supposed, "The Part in which an Apprentice becomes a Master-Mason," and this is likely to be correct, for "Fellow" not Master is the older title for the Superior Degree. So that the expression "The Master's Part" is in itself an indication that it always included the story of H. A. B.
It has been urged that the "total silence" of the Old Charges concerning H. A. B. proves that no Hiramic Legend could possibly have been a prominent feature in early Freemasonry. It is true that the name Hiram does not occur in the documents before about 1723, but the "total silence" is a fallacy, the actual fact being that nearly all the Old Charges do refer to H. A. B. in a manner which is highly significant, avoiding mention of his name and generally substituting Anon, Aynon. or some similar form, instead of it. The following are some examples, with the date or approximate date of the Manuscript: Grand Lodge, No. 1, 1553, Aynone: Lans doum, 1600 Aman, York, .Vo. 1, 1600 Amon; Thorp, 1629, Aynon; Sloane, No. 3323, 1659, Dynon; Grand Lodge,expressions: No. 2, 1650, Anon- Buchanan, 1650-1700, Aymon; Hope,"Leaving what must not, indeed cannot, be com 1675-1700, Amon, York, No. 4, 169(), Amon; Strachan,municated in Writing."
1700, Amon, Alnwick, 1701, Ajnon; York, No. 2, 1704,"More might be said to a Brother, which must Aymon, and Roberts, 1722, Anon. The name Hiram only occurs in the Inico Jones, which bears a date 1607, but was really written after 1723, and in later versions such as the Spencer, 1726, and Dumfries No. 4, and Cama.
Brother Vibert, Stormy of the Craft (page 76), remarks, "This suggests that the name itself is a password." But. one might equally well say that the suggestion is that the Hiramic Legend, with its Inner Meaning and all that is implied thereby, was from the first amongst these things which might not be committed to writing, and that it constituted the Great Secret Legend of the Operatives, and existed side by side with their Operative Secrets, which later it has survived. It must be remembered that nowhere except in Freemasonry, and possibly also the kindred Compagnonnage, is there any trace of the Hiramic Legend.
In the 1723 Constitutions (page 13), Doctor Anderson's account of the building of the Temple contains the significant expression, " But leaving what must not, and indeed cannot, be communicated in Writing." Now in the year 1730 John Pennell issued his Dublin Book of Constitutions, founded upon Anderson's of 1723. Pennell gives an account of Hiram (pages 7 and 8) which ends thus, "Much more might be said to a Brother, which must not he committed to Writing, and for Reasons not here to he mentioned." It is absurd to suppose that these matters which may not be written and can only be resaid to a Brother" are no more than details of the plan and equipment of the Temple. There is no valid reason to doubt that the reference is to the Hiramic Legend of the Death of the Builder.
Dr., later Sir, Richard Manningham, initiated in about 1707, was a member with Payne, Desaguliers and Anderson, of the Horn Tavern Lodge. one of the Four which created the Grand Lodge in 1717. His son, Dr. Thomas Manningham. who, as Deputy Grand Master, virtually ruled the Moderns for several years from 1752 onwards, in a letter, dated July 12th, 1757 (see Transactions, Quatuor Coronati Lodge, v, page 109), wrote: " . . . one old Brother of Ninety . . . was made a Mason in his youth, and has constantly frequented Lodges . . . and never heard or knew any Ceremonies or Words, than those used in veneral amongst us, such Forms were deliver'd to him, & those He has retained."
This, although aimed at "High" Degrees, is strong testimony that the Story of Hiram was part of the pre1717 "Master's Part" and not an intruder of post-1717. The aged Brother was 90 in 1757, 50 in 1717, and initiated certainly not later than l697, when he was 30 and no longer "in his youth." The "Forms" which were " delivered to him" were the " Ceremonies " and "Words" known to the Modern Masons of sixty or more years later. He, who at 90 retained his faculties and memory could hardly have dropped out of active Masonie life before 1732, when he was 65, and by that date the new "Third Degree" was in full working order. If the new "Third Degree" differed from the old "Master's Part" by any such tremendous innovation as the intrusion of a previously unheard of Hiramic Legend, he must have been an active witness to the fact. For confirmation Dr. Thomas Manningham could have questioned his own father, one of the earliest members of Grand Lodge and the associate of Payne, Desaguliers, and Anderson for Sir Richard died on May 11, 1759. But the aged Mason's testimony points to the opposite conclusion and implies that the net change was no more than the presentation in a more dramatic form of what had previously been communicated simply as a narrative.
But there are some who will have it that, even if Hiram's name did in some form enter into pre-1717 Masonry, the Story of his Death did not make its way in until 1723-9, the year 1725 being regarded as the most probable one. They say, and quite rightly, that the note at page 11 of the 1, 23 Constitutions, which explains the name Abiff, proves nothing as to his Death, neither does the statement, which first appeared in the 1738 Book of Constitutions, that on 24th June, 1721, Brother George Payne installed the Deputy Grand Master "in Hiram Abiff's Chair." But we have seen that Anderson in 1723, and Pennell in 1730, make use of expressions :
"Leaving what must not , indeed cannot, be communicated in Writing."
" More might be said to a Brother, wich must not be committed to Writing, and for Reasons not here to be mention'd.".
which are strongly suggestive of the Story as we know it now. The effort will now be made to show that A Mason's Examination of 1723 contains the references to the Death of H. A. B. If we turn to Masonry Dissected—1730—we find:—
Q. How was Hiram raised?
A. As all other Masons are when they receive the Master's Word.
Q. How is that?
A By the Five points of Fellowship
Thus in 1730 we find the F. P. of F. definitely associated with the act of "Raising" and . . . so that "Points of Fellowship" imply a certain attitude and jointly make up one of those " Casual signs" which tradition says, occurred upon a certain memorable occasion, and when "Points of Fellowship" are met with it may safely be understood that there is allusion to the Death of the Master Builder. The Grand Mystery- 1724—has Five "proper points" of fellowship with the trifling variation that the last is described as "Ear to Ear."
But it is the earliest exposure A Mason's Examination, which appeared April 11-13, 1725, within a few weeks of the publication of the first Book of Constitutions, which is the most important in our enquiry. After a sort of defence of Masonry, the writer gives a brief account of the "entering" of a candidate and his immediate promotion to the Superior Degree, the two portions being represented as taking place at the same meeting, which seems to have been the usual 17th Century custom. As to the second part we read:
— "Then a Warden leads him to the Master and Fellows to each of whom he is to say:—
I fain would a Fellow - Mason be, As all your Worships may plainly see.
After this, he swears to reveal no Secrets.... Then he is blindfolded, and the ceremons of is performed .........After this the word Maughbin is whispered by the youngest Mason to the next, and so on, till it comes to the Master, who whispers it to the entered Mason. who must have his Face in due order to receive it. Then the entered Mason says:—
An enter'd Mason I have been
Boaz and Jachin I have seen;
A Fellow I was sworn most rare,
And know the Astler, Diamond and Square:
I know the Master's Part full well.
As honest Maughbin will tell.
Then the Master says:—
If a Master-Mason you would be,
Observe you well the Rule of Three;
And what you want in Masonry,
Thy Mark and Maughbin makes thee free.
Then follows the Catechism or Lecture, ill which the Points of Fellowship are given with an additional one, which is "Tongue to Tongue."
The suggestions non offered are: That the missing word represented by the line...........is RAISING the word which is whispered is . . . distorted form of . . . Similarly "Thy Mark" is a cowan's attempt to reproduce . . with which we are all familiar, and not, as is generally assumed, a reference to " Choosing a Mark", that the Rule of Three is a reminder that there were but Three . . . although that is not all that is implied by the expression; and finally that the candidate's "Face in due order to receive it" means that he and the Master are in the attitude implied by " Points of Fellowship." In short, that "The Master's Part" described in A Mason's Examination of April, 1723, contained this Story of Hiram's Death. The date of publication is not only earlier than 1725, but it is only some six or eight weeks later than that of the first Book of Constitutional (Transactions Quatuor Coronati Lodge. volume xx-, page:358). Remembering Brother Gould's judgment as to the antiquity of the text of this Catechism, it will now be seen that the mysterious remarks of Anderson and Pennell, and also, we may add, the "Hiram Abiff Note" in the 1723 Constitutions, and the 1721 reference to " Hiram Abiff's Chair," assume a new value.
To sum up and conclude, the matter mat be conveniently stated thus—on Philological grounds, the Hiramic Legend is declared to be older than 1717. The Hiramic Legend is found nowhere except in Masonry.
" The Master's Part " in a printed document of date 1723, but of which the text is much earlier. included the Hiramic Legend of the Death of the Builder. There was a " Master's Part" before 1717.
Admitting freely that the demonstration is not absolute, it is nevertheless claimed that there is the strongest possible reason, short of actual documentary proof, for believing that not only the Hiramic Legend but also its Masonic Application belong to the preGrand Lodge of our Order.
The subject is examined at some length in Doctor Mackey's revised History of Freemasonry, and note particularly the conclusions on page 1072. We may well compare the Third Degree with the symbolism of the Corner stone. Consider the purpose, the planning, the workmanship, and the laying of it, the records deposited within it, the sacrifices offered upon it, the service given unto it and the service it should render, and so on, and we may also in this connection think of the time when the Gilds gave their aid publicly to the Church in the dramatic rendering of the story of the resurrection, the victory over death and the grave, and of the traditions coming down to us from the past, of builder's ceremonies, of human offerings and tragedies at the foundation rites of buildings, and when their dedication took place. The Bible describes the builder's ceremonies impressively marked by the death of two sons (First Kings xvi, 34). This is not a solitary instance (see also Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, Speth's Builder's Rates and Ceremonies, Trumbull's threshold Covenant, Burdick's Foundation Rites, with some Kindred Ceremonies, a Contribution to the study of Beliefs, Customs and Legends, connected with Buildings, Locations, and Landmarks, and in this Encyclopedia, note Degrees, also Mysteries, Ancient).
MASTER OF SAINT ANDREW.
The Fifth Degree of the Swedish Rite; the same as the Grand Elu Ecossais of the Clermont system.
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