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SEALS, BOOK OF THE SEVEN.
"And I saw," says Saint John (Apocalypse or Revelation v, 1), "in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the back side, sealed with seven seals." The seal denotes that which is secret, and seven is the number of perfection; hence the Book of the Seven Seals is a symbol of that knowledge which is profoundly Secured from all unhallowed search. In reference to the passage quoted, the Baok of the Set en Seals is adopted as a symbol in the Apocalyptic Degree of the Knights of the East and West, the seventeenth of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
SEALS, KEEPER OF THE.
An officer who has charge of the seal or seals of the Lodge. It is found in some of the advanced Degrees and in Continental Lodges, but not recognized in the York or American Rites. In Gerrnan Lodges he is called Siegelbewahrer, and in French, Garde des Sceauz.
SEARCH FOR TRUTH.
This is the object of all Freemasonry and it is pursued from the first to the last step of initiation. The Apprentice begins it seeking for the light which is symbolized by the WQRD, itself only a symbol of Truth. At a Fellow Craft he continues the search, still asking for more light. And the Master Mason, thinking that he has reached it, obtains only its substitute; for the True Word, Divine Truth, dwells not in the first temple of our earthly life, but can be found only in the second temple of the eternal life.
There is a beautiful allegory of the great Milton, who thus describes the search after truth: Truth came into the world with her Divine Master and was a perfect shape and glorious to look Upon. Put when He ascended, and His apostles after Him were laid asleep, there straight arose a wicked race of deceivers, who, as the story goes of the Egyptian Typhon, with his conspirators, how they dealt with the good Osiris, took the virgin Truth, hewed her lovely frame into a thousand pieces, and scattered them to the four winds of heaven. Ever since that time the friends of Truth, such as durst appear, imitating the careful search that Isis made for the mangled body of Osiris, went up and down, gathering up limb by limb still as they could find them.
During the anti-Masonic excitement in the United States of America, which gave rise to the Anti-Masonic Party, many Freemasons, fearing the loss of popularity, or governed by an erroneous view of the character of Freemasonry, withdrew from the Order, and took a part in the political and religious opposition to it. These men called them selves, and were recognized by the title of, seceders or seceding Masons.
See Temple of Zerubbabel.
SECRECY AND SILENCE.
These virtues constitute the very essence of all Masonic character; they are the safeguard of the Institution, giving to it all its security and perpetuity, and are enforced by frequent admonitions in all the Degrees, from the lowest to the highest. The Entered Apprentice begins his Masonic career by learning the duty of secrecy and silence. Hence it is appropriate that in that Degree which is the consummation of initiation, in which the whole cycle of Masonic science is completed, the abstruse machinery of symbolism should be employed to impress the same important virtues on the mind of the neophyte or newcomer. The same principles of secrecy and silence existed in all the ancient Mysteries and systems of worship. When Aristotle was asked what thing appeared to him to be most difficult of performance, he replied, "To be secret and silent."
"If we turn our eyes back to antiquity," says Calcott (Candid Disquisition, page 50), "we shall find that the old Egyptians had so great a regard for silence and secrecy in the mysteries of their religion, that they set up the god Harpocrates, to whom they paid peculiar honour and veneration, who was represented with the right hand placed near the heart, and the left down by his side, covered with a skin before, full of eyes and ears, to signify, that of many things to be seen and heard, few are to be published."
Apuleius, who was an initiate in the Mysteries of Isis, says: "By no peril will I ever be compelled to disclose to the uninitiated the things that I have had intrusted to me on condition of silence."
Lobeck, in his Aglaophamus, has collected several examples of the reluctance with which the ancients approached a mystical-subjeet, and the manner in which they shrank from divulging any explanation or fable which had been related to them at the Mysteries, under the seal of secrecy and silence.
Lastly, in the school of Pythagoras, these lessons were taught by the Sage to his disciples. A novitiate of five years was imposed upon each pupil, which period was to be passed in total silence, and in religious and philosophical contemplation. And at length, when he was admitted to full fellowship in the society, an oath of secrecy was administered to him on the sacred tetraetys, which was equivalent to the Jewish Tetragrammaton.
Silence and secrecy are called "the cardinal virtues of a Seleet Master," in the Ninth or Select Master's Degree of the American Rite.
Among the Egyptians the sign of Silence was made by pressing the index finger of the right hand on the lips. It was thus that they represented Harpoerates, the god of silence, whose statue was placed at the entrance of all temples of Isis and Serapis, to indicate that Silence and secrecy were to be preserved as to all that occurred within.
SECRECY, SILENCE, CIRCUMSPECTION.
In his article on this subject on page 920 Albert G. Mackey followed the clues of the Ancient Mysteries.
The use of such clues has a value even if a student is unable to find any historical connection between the old Mystery Cults which were destroyed along with the Roman Empire, and Freemasonry, the first beginnings of which were not made for some seven or so centuries after that destruction, because the data Mackey cites show that secrecy has often been used by societies of the most honored and exalted reputation. Secrecy in and of itself is neither good nor bad; those adjectives can only apply to the use to which it is put. It was argued by the American Anti-Masons of 1826-1850 that Freemasonry would not have secrets did it not carry on practices which could not en dure inspection.
They abandoned their argument after everything in the Craft had been exposed, inspected, and published countless times; they could have abandoned it sooner had they only paused to think that each of them had secrets of his own, had privacies in his family, that he discussed matters in confidence with associates, that there are secret formulas in science and in business, that any committee or board of directors meeting in executive session is meeting in t secrecy—that the world's diplomacy seldom lets the peoples concerned know what it is doing.
When the normaly everlasting uses of secrecy are so common, the Anti-Masons had no grounds to accuse Masons of crimes merely because Masons were using for their Own purposes what every man and every family and almost every association uses every day for unexceptionable purposes. Freemasonry is not a secret society; everybody knows that it exists; its rooms and temples are public and are conspicuously marked; it has printed its Constitutions and each year it publishes its Proceedings; in the United States it has maintained as many as 120 journals or magazines at one time; many tens of thousands of books have been written about it, and it maintains hundreds of libraries. Freemasonry is a society with secrets, but is not a secret society.
Silence has no necessary connection with secrecy; may or may not be its corollary. Silence is often maintained in the most public places and for the most public purposes; spectators sit silent in courtroom and in the theater, the congregation sits silent in church or synagogue, the audience sits silent while the orator speaks, the general maintains silence about his battle plans. There are secrets in nature which scientists search out; the silences of nature are of a different kind, the silence of the seas, the silence of the wilderness, the silence of the desert.
A Masonic Lodge is not a club, a forum, a public gathering, a debating society, or a platform meeting, but is a lodge—a unique form of organization; it is organized within and without, from top to bottom; each member has his place or station in it, and no man is foot-loose; from beginning to end it goes according to a fixed procedure, and conducts its affairs according to a strict Order of Business; anything extraneous or irrelevant to that procedure is out of order, and the Master cannot permit it to be brought on the floor because he is not a presiding officer who can act according to his own will but an installed officer and therefore can act only as the rules governing his office compel him to act.
It is for this reason that the Fraternity maintains silence about the outside world at times when almost every other society or association is most vocal, and naturally so—in a time of political crisis, at the making of a war, in periods of social upheaval, etc. The young Italian Fascists hoodlums who broke into Lodge rooms were agog because of what they expected to find—a weird machinery, an alehemists' laboratory, a magicians' den, what not; they were astounded to find nothing but an empty room. The Fraternity was in silence.
A historian of the Craft goes through analogous experienees; he reads through Lodge Minutes or Grand Lodge Proeeedings (or Chapters, Consistories, Couneils, Commanderies) expecting to find records there of an old excitement about the Revolutionary War, or the Civil War, or the Anti-Masonic Crusade, or the World Wars; he finds only a silence.
Paradoxically enough there is neither silence nor secrecy within the walls. The nervous Pope Leo XIII who all his days was afraid of bogeys, wrote into his Encyelical against Freemasons on April 20, 1884: "Nay, there are in them many secrets which are by law carefully concealed not only from the profane, but also from many associated [members viz., the lost and intimate intentions, the hidden and unknown chiefs, the hidden and secret meetings, the resolutions and methods and means by which they will be carried into execution." Leo had been misinformed. The Fraternity maintains neither secrecy nor silence within itself about its own affairs; everything that is lawfully carried on in a Lodge is carried on without silence and in the full light. Grand Officers live in glass houses; a Master acts in the presence of his Lodge—if it is not there he cannot even declare it open.
Nothing is hidden from any member. Any member of a Lodge is privileged by the laws to demand any information about what is done by his Lodge. There are no "hidden and unknown chiefs" (the Pope must have had the Italian Black Hand Society in mind) because every "chief" is elected by ballot, and he has nowhere to hide.
Silence is connected with circumspection in a phrase which Masons have learned by heart. Circumspection is a self-defining word, being a contraction of two Latin terms slightly altered, and meaning "to look around," to make sure of having the facts before making a decision or beginning an action. In Freemasonry it is used in a sense somewhat different from its use elsewhere, having a peculiarity in our nomenclature which is the expression of the "peculiarity" (or uniqueness) of Freemasonry itself.
It means that Freemasonry follows a path which was surveyed long ago and staked out with the Ancient Landmarks; it is one that Freemasons themselves understand but not outsiders; in consequence it is easy for outsiders to misunderstand Freemasonry, or to be misled by appearances, or to attribute to it purposes it does not have, hence the Craft must act circumspectly, taking such facts into consideration, and in order not to misrepresent itself. For centuries before the first Grand Lodge, Masons like men everywhere had a great fondness for pageants and processions, and this was especially true in London, where the old Mason Company often spent large sums of money on costumes, music, floats, etc., and great throngs would stand for hours to watch the spectacle.
This ancient custom was continued by Lodges for some years after 1717— the Grand Lodge went in a body, in full regalia, to bring the newlyqlected Grand Master from his home to the Grand Lodge room for his installation; Lodges went in procession in regalia to attend church, theater, corner-stone laying, etc. But by the middle of the century a great change came over London crowds and London street manners; gangs of hoodlums roved about, drunkards were everywhere, and these crowds began to hoot and throw stones and to run through processions, and to break them up; and there grew up the custom of holding "mock" processions, roystering, ribald, derisive, coarse, in order to ridicule something or somebody. The Grand Lodge ordered a complete discontinuance of Masonic processions when the public began to take Masonry to be a roystering, irreverent society of drinkers and mockers because it appeared on the streets.
That was an act of circumspection. It was a case of "Don't do it," "Don't say it," and as it works out in practice that usually is what circumspection calls for, therefore it has become connected with secrecy and silence.
SECRETARIES GUILD OF FREEMASONRY FOR NORTH AMERICA.
See the Masonic Grand Secretaries Guild.
The recording and corresponding officer of a Lodge. It is his duty to keep a just and true record of all things proper to be written, to receive all moneys that are due the Lodge, and to pay them over to the Treasurer. The jewel of his office is a pen, and his position in Lodges of the United States is on the left of the Worshipful Master in front, but in English Lodges he is usually found with the Treasurer at the right, in the North.
SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE HOLY EMPIRE.
The title given to the Secretary of the Suo preme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Seottish Rite.
See Grand Secretary.
The secret doctrine of the Jews was, according to Steinschneider, nothing else than a system of metaphysics founded on the Commentaries on the Law and the legends of the Talmudists. Of this secret doctrine, Maimonides says: "Beware that you take not these words of the wise men in their literal signification, for this would be to degrade and sometimes to contradict the sacred doctrine. Search rather for the hidden sense; and if you cannot find the kernel, let the shell alone, and confess that you cannot understand it." All mystical societies, and even liberal philosophers, were, to a comparatively recent period, accustomed to veil the true meaning of their instructions in intentional obscurity, lest the unlearned and uninitiated should be offended. The Ancient Mysteries had their secret doctrine; so had the school of Pythagoras, and the sect of the Gnostics.
The Alchemists, as Hitchcock has clearly shown, gave a secret and spiritual meaning to their jargon about the Transmutation of Metals, the Elixir of Life, and the Philosopher's Stone. Freemasonry alone has no secret doctrine. Its philosophy is open to the world. Its modes of recognition by which it secures identification, and its rites and eeremonies which are its method of instruction, alone are secret. All men may know the tenets of the Masonic Creed.
The Fourth Degree in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite and the first of what are called the Ineffable Degrees. It refers to those circumstances which occurred at the Temple when Solomon repaired to the building for the purpose of supplying the loss of its illustrious builder by the appointment of seven experts, among whom were to be clivicled the labors which heretofore had been entrusted to one gigantic mind. The lecture elaborately explains the mystic meaning of the sacred things which were contained in the Sanctum Sanctorum, or Holy of Holies. The Lodge is hung with black curtains strewed with tears, symbolic of grief. There should be eighty-one lights, distributed by nine times nine; but this number is often dispensed with, and three times three substituted. Later instructions reduce them to eight.
There are but two presiding officers—a Master, styled Puissant, and representing Wing Solomon, and an Inspeetort representing Adoniram, the son of Abda, who had the inspection of the workmen on Mount Lebanon, and who is said to have been the first Secret Master Solomon is seated in the east, clothed in mourning robes lined with ermine, holding a scepter in his hand, and decorated with a blue sash from the right shoulder to the left hip, from which is suspended a triangle of gold. Before him is placed a triangular altar, on which is deposited a wreath of laurel and olive leaves.
Adoniram, called Venerable Inspector, is seated in the west, but without any implement of office, in commemoration of the fact that the works were suspended at the time of the institution of this Degree. He is decorated with a triangular white collar, bordered with black, from which is suspended an ivory key, with the letter Z engraved thereon, which constitute the collar, and jewel of the Degree. These decorations are worn by all the Brethren. The apron white edged with black and with black strings; the flap blue, with an open eye thereon embroidered in gold. The modern instruction prescribes that two branches of olive and laurel crossing each other shall be on the middle of the apron.
An honorary or side Degree once commonly conferred in the United States. The communication of it was not accompanied, it is true, with any impressive ceremonies, but it inculates a lesson of unfaltering friendship which the prospect of danger could not appall, and the hour of adversity could not betray. It is, in fact, devoted to the practical elucidation of the Masonic virtue of Brotherly Love. In conferring it, those passages of Scripture which are contained in the twentieth chapter of the First Book of Samuel, from the sixteenth to the twenty-third, and from the thirty-fifth to the forty-second verses inclusive, are usually considered as appropriate.
It may be conferred on a worthy Master Mason by any Brother who is in possession of its Ritual. There was in Holland, in 1778, a secret Masonic society called the Order of Jonathan and David, which was probably much the same as this American Degree. Kloss in his Catalogue, of 1844, gives the title of a book published in that year at Amsterdam which gives its statutes and formularg of reception
The Grand Recorder W. C. Spratling, of London, England, where a Grand Council of the Order of the Secret Monitor was formed on June 17, 1887, has furnished information from which the following notes have been prepared.
He has found that the Order of the Secret Monitor is developed from a still more ancient Degree known as the Brotherhood of Dated and Jonathan, and is at least as old as Freemasonry itself, its principles and watch-words being founded upon the examples set by the two Hebrew Princes, as recorded in the his history and traditions of the Jews. He points out that it is often forgotten that the Israelites, slaves in Egypt for more than four hundred years, absorbed much of the ancient lore of their taskmasters who long before Jewish history begins, were already an ancient race in an advanced state of civilization. They indeed trace their mysteries as a heritage Mom a still more ancient people who overran Asia Minor long before the dawn of written history.
Brother Spratling says that Statutes covering such a Body as the above are on record in Amsterdam having the date of 1773 and indicating that the organization had been founded three years earlier. Further traces of this brotherhood of David and Jonathan are found in ] 77S hut the sverking of the degree seems to have had its development in the United States where it was carried by immigrants to Biew Amsterdam and from thence it spread through the Republie in a very simple form and capable of considerable variation. However, the prevailing ceremonies were adopted and then somewhat adapted for English use by the Grand Council in that country. The Degree had been communicated to any Master Mason with little ceremony at any time or place. In this way it was communicated to the following Brethren at or about the dates mentioned;
1840—Dr. Issachar Zacharie in California.
1845—Colonel Shadwell E. Clerke, in Malta.
1846—James Lewis Thomas, in St. Vincent, the West Indies.
1848—Rev. J. Oxley Oxland, M.A., in Jerusalem
1865—Charles Fitzgerald Alatier, by an American passing through London.
Three Degrees have been prepared for use in England. The Council of Allied Masonic Degrees in the United States and the similar Body in England have also worked the Secret Monitor, but independently.
SECRET OF THE SECRETS, THE.
A Degree cited in the nomenclature of Fustier.
Secret societies may be divided into two classes: First, those whose secrecy consists in nothing more than methods by which the members are enabled to recognize each other; and in certain doctrines, symbols, or instructions which can be obtained only after a process of initiation, and under the promise that they shall be made known to none who have not submitted to the same initiation, but which with the exception of these particulars, have no reservations from the public.
Second, those societies which, in addition to their secret modes of recognition and secret doctrine, add an entire secrecy as to the object of their association, the times and places of their meeting, and even the very names of their members.
To the first of these classes belong all those moral or religious secret associations which have existed from the earliest times. Such were the Ancient Mysteries, whose object was, by their initiations, to cultivate a purer worship than the popular one; such, too, the schools of the old philosophers, like Pythagoras and Plato, who in their esoteric instructions taught a higher doctrine than that which they Communicated to their exoteric scholars. Such, also, are the modern secret societies which have adopted an exclusive form only that they may restrict the social enjoyment which it is their object to cultivate, or the system of benevolence for which they are organized, to the persons who are united with them by the tie of a common covenant, and the possession of a common knowledge.
Such, lastly, is Freemasonry, which is a secret society only as respects its signs, a few of its legends and traditions, and its method of inculcating its mystical philosophy, but which, as to everything else—its design, its object, its moral and religious tenets, and the great doctrine which it teaches—is as open a society as if it met on the highways beneath the sun of day, and not within the well-guarded portals of a Lodge.
To the second class of secret societies belong those which sprung up first in the Middle Ages, like the Vehmgericht of Westphalia, formed for the secret but certain punishment of criminals; and in the eighteenth century those political societies like the Carbonari, which have been organized at revolutionary periods to resist the oppression or overthrow the despotism of tyrannical governments. It is evident that these two classes of secret societies are entirety different in character; but it has been the great error of writers like Barruel and Robison, who have attacked Freemasonry on the ground of its being a secret association that they utterly confounded the two classes.
An interesting discussion on this subject took place in 1848, in the National Assembly of France, during the consideration of those articles of the law bv which secret societies were prohibited. A part of this discussion is worth preserving, and is in the following words:
Bolette: I should like to have some one define what in meant by a secret society. Coquerel: Those are secret societies which have made none of the declarations prescribed by law.
Paulin Gillon: I would ask if Freemasonry is also to be suppressed?
Flocon: I begin by declaring that, under a republican government, every secret society having for its object a change of the form of such government ought to be severely dealt with. Secret societies may he directed against the sovereignty of the people, and this is the reason why I ask for their suppression; but, from the want of a precise definition, I would not desire to strike, as secret societies, assemblies thut are perfectly innocent.
.All my life, until the 24th of February, have I lived in secret societies Now I desire them no more. Yes, we have spent our life in conspiracies, and we had the right to do so, for we lived under a government which did not derive its sanctions from the people. To-day I declare that under a republican government, and with universal suffrage, it is a crime to belong to such an asssociation. Coquerel: As to Freemasonry, your Committee has decided that it is not a secret society. A society may have a secret, and yet not be a secret society. I have not the honor of being a Freemasons
The President: The thirteenth article has been amended and decided that a secret society is one which seeks to conceal its existence and its objects.
Secret societies, whose members take any oath binding them to engage in mutiny or sedition, or disturb the peace, or whose members and officers are concealed from society at large have been declared unlawful in various countries, England adopting measures to that end in 1799, l817 and 1846, but on these occasions specific exemption was made of Masonie Lodges. On the Gontinent of Europe the Carbonari has been confused by some authorities with Freemasonry or, at least, assumed to be a sort of political branch of it though this is, of course, far from the understanding of our institution possessed by those within te fold The Carbonari was founded in Naples by the Republicans in 1808 to destroy French rule in Italy The King of Naples in 1814 soon found the armed Carbonari useful as a means of driving Murat, a Freemason, out of the country. Later on the organization assisted the Austrians also to drive out the French and, gathering numbers up to what is claimed to be half a million members, spread into France and other countries.
Other secret societies found on the Continent and active in various countries are the Camorra and the Mafia. These secret societies need only to be mentioned here because the Rornan Catholic Church has united Freemasonry with such political organizations in its condemnation (see Secktion Act, Politics, Carbonari, Camorra, and Mafia).
See Vault, Secret.
Freemasonry repudiates all sectarianism, and recognizes the tenets of no sect as preferable to those of any other, requiring in its followers assent only to those dogmas of the universal religion which teach the existence of God and the resurrection to eternal life (see Toleration)
The epithet Secular has sometimes, but very incorrectly, been applied t o Subordinate Lodges to distinguish them from Grand Lodges. In such a connection the word is unmeaning, or, what is worse, is a term bearing a meaning entirely different from that which was intended by the writer. "Secular," says Richardson, "is used as distinguished from eternal, and equivalent to temporal; pertaining to temporal things, things of this world; worldly; also opposed to spiritual, to holy. " Every other orthoepist gives substantially the same definition. It is then evident, from this definition, that the word secular may be applied to all Masonic Bodies, but not to one class of them in contradistinction to another. All Masonic Lodges are secular, because they are worldly, and not spiritual or holy institutions. But a subordinate Lodge is no more secular than a Grand Lodge.
On July 12, 1799, the British Parliament alarmed at the progress of revolutionary principles enacted a law commonly known as the Sedition Act, for the suppression of secret societies. But the true principles of Freemasonry were so well understood by the legislators of Great Britain many of whom were members of the Order, that the following clause was inserted in the Act:
And whereas certain Societies have been long accustomed to be holden in this Kingdom, under the denomination of Lodges of Freemasons, the meetings whereof have been in a great measure directed to charitable purposes, be it therefore enacted, that nothing in this Act shall extend to the meetings of any such society or Lodge which shall, before the passing of this Act, have been usually holden under the said denomination. and in conformity to the rules prevailing among the said Societies of Freemasons.
One of the five human senses, whose importance is treated of in the Fellow Craft's Degree. By sight, things at a distance are, as it were, brought near, and obstacles of space overcome. So in Freemasonry, by a judicious use of this sense, in modes which none but Freemasons comprehend, men distant from each other in language, in religion, and in politics, are brought near, and the impediments of birth and prejudice are overthrown. But, in the atural world, sight cannot be exercised without the necessary assistance of light, for in darkness we are unable to see so in Freemasonry, the peculiar advantages of Masonic sight require, for their enjoyment, the blessing of Masonic light. Illuminated by its divine rays, the Freemason sees where others are blind; and that which to the profane is but the darkness of ignorance, is to the initiated filled with the light of knowledge and understanding.
The French word is Chercheurs. The First Degree of the Order of Initiated Knights and Brothers of Asia.
A secret Moslem society, called also the Candidati, from being clothed in white. They taught that the wicked would he transformed, after death, into beasts, while the good would ho reabsorbed into the Divine Creator. The Chief was known as the Veiled Prophet (see Grotto).
The Arabic register of all the wicked, also the title of the residence of Eblis.
SELAMU ALEIKUM, ES.
The Arabic salutation of Peace be with you; which meets with the response Aleikum es Salaam. These expressions are prominently in use by ancient Arabic Associations (see Salaam) .
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