Morals and Dogma
THE TWELVE-INCH RULE AND THE COMMON GAVEL
Force, unregulated or ill-regulated, is not only wasted in the
void, like that of gunpowder burned in the open air, and steam unconfined by
science; but, striking in the dark, and its blows meeting only the air, they
recoil and bruise itself. It is destruction and ruin. It is the volcano, the
earthquake, the cyclone;-not growth and progress. It is Polyphemus blinded,
striking at random, and falling headlong among the sharp rocks by the impetus of
his own blows.
The blind Force of the people is a Force that must be economized, and also
managed, as the blind Force of steam, lifting the ponderous iron arms and
turning the large wheels, is made to bore and rifle the cannon and to weave the
most delicate lace. It must be regulated by Intellect. Intellect is to the
people and the people's Force, what the slender needle of the compass is to the
ship--its soul, always counselling the huge mass of wood and iron, and always
pointing to the north. To attack the citadels built up on all sides against the
human race by superstitions, despotisms, and prejudices, the Force must have a
brain and a law. Then its deeds of daring produce permanent results, and there
is real progress. Then there are sublime conquests. Thought is a force, and
philosophy should be an energy, finding its aim and its effects in the
amelioration of mankind. The two great motors are Truth and Love. When all these
Forces are combined, and guided by the Intellect, and regulated by the RULE of
Right, and Justice, and of combined and systematic movement and effort, the
great revolution prepared for by the ages will begin to march. The POWER of the
Deity Himself is in equilibrium with His WISDOM. Hence the only results are
It is because Force is ill regulated, that revolutions prove failures. Therefore
it is that so often insurrections, coming from those high mountains that
domineer over the moral horizon, Justice, Wisdom, Reason, Right, built of the
purest snow of the ideal after a long fall from rock to rock, after having
reflected the sky in their transparency, and been swollen by a hundred affluents,
in the majestic path of triumph, suddenly lose themselves in quagmires, like a
California river in the sands.
The onward march of the human race requires that the heights around it should
blaze with noble and enduring lessons of courage. Deeds of daring dazzle
history, and form one class of the guiding lights of man. They are the stars and
coruscations from that great sea of electricity, the Force inherent in the
people. To strive, to brave all risks, to perish, to persevere, to be true to
one's self, to grapple body to body with destiny, to surprise defeat by the
little terror it inspires, now to confront unrighteous power, now to defy
intoxicated triumph--these are the examples that the nations need and the light
that electrifies them.
There are immense Forces in the great caverns of evil beneath society; in the
hideous degradation, squalor, wretchedness and destitution, vices and crimes
that reek and simmer in the darkness in that populace below the people, of great
cities. There disinterestedness vanishes, every one howls, searches, gropes, and
gnaws for himself. Ideas are ignored, and of progress there is no thought. This
populace has two mothers, both of them stepmothers--Ignorance and Misery. Want
is their only guide--for the appetite alone they crave satisfaction. Yet even
these may be employed. The lowly sand we trample upon, cast into the furnace,
melted, purified by fire, may become resplendent crystal. They have the brute
force of the HAMMER, but their blows help on the great cause, when struck within
the lines traced by the RULE held by wisdom and discretion.
Yet it is this very Force of the people, this Titanic power of the giants, that
builds the fortifications of tyrants, and is embodied in their armies. Hence the
possibility of such tyrannies as those of which it has been said, that "Rome
smells worse under Vitellius than under Sulla. Under Claudius and under Domitian
there is a deformity of baseness corresponding to the ugliness-of the tyranny.
The foulness of the slaves is a direct result of the atrocious baseness of the
despot. A miasma exhales from these crouching consciences that reflect the
master; the public authorities are unclean, hearts are collapsed, consciences
shrunken, souls puny. This is so under Caracalla, it is so under Commodus, it is
so under Heliogabalus, while from the Roman senate, under Caesar, there comes
only the rank odour peculiar to the eagle's eyrie."
It is the force of the people that sustains all these despotisms, the basest as
well as the best. That force acts through armies; and these oftener enslave than
liberate. Despotism there applies the RULE. Force is the MACE of steel at the
saddle-bow of the knight or of the bishop in armour. Passive obedience by force
supports thrones and oligarchies, Spanish kings, and Venetian senates. Might, in
an army wielded by tyranny, is the enormous sum total of utter weakness; and so
Humanity wages war against Humanity, in despite of Humanity. So a people
willingly submits to despotism, and its workmen submit to be despised, and its
soldiers to be whipped; therefore it is that battles lost by a nation are often
progress attained. Less glory is more liberty. When the drum is silent, reason
Tyrants use the force of the people to chain and subjugate--that is, enyoke the
people. Then they plough with them as men do with oxen yoked. Thus the spirit of
liberty and innovation is reduced by bayonets, and principles are struck dumb by
cannonshot; while the monks mingle with the troopers, and the Church militant
and jubilant, Catholic or Puritan, sings Te Deums for victories over rebellion.
The military power, not subordinate to the civil power, again the HAMMER or MACE
of FORCE, independent of the RULE, is an armed tyranny, born full-grown, as
Athene sprung from the brain of Zeus. It spawns a dynasty, and begins with
Caesar to rot into Vitellius and Commodus. At the present day it inclines to
begin where formerly dynasties ended.
Constantly the people put forth immense strength, only to end in immense
weakness. The force of the people is exhausted in indefinitely prolonging things
long since dead; in governing mankind by embalming old dead tyrannies of Faith;
restoring dilapidated dogmas; regilding faded, worm-eaten shrines; whitening and
rouging ancient and barren superstitions; saving society by multiplying
parasites; perpetuating superannuated institutions; enforcing the worship of
symbols as the actual means of salvation; and tying the dead corpse of the Past,
mouth to mouth, with the living Present. Therefore it is that it is one of the
fatalities of Humanity to be condemned to eternal struggles with phantoms, with
superstitions, bigotries, hypocrisies, prejudices, the formulas of error, and
the pleas of tyranny. Despotisms, seen in the past, become respectable, as the
mountain, bristling with volcanic rock, rugged and horrid, seen through the haze
of distance is blue and smooth and beautiful. The sight of a single dungeon of
tyranny is worth more, to dispel illusions, and create a holy hatred of
despotism, and to direct FORCE aright, than the most eloquent volumes. The
French should have preserved the Bastile as a perpetual lesson; Italy should not
destroy the dungeons of the Inquisition. The Force of the people maintained the
Power that built its gloomy cells, and placed the living in their granite
The FORCE of the people cannot, by its unrestrained and fitful action, maintain
and continue in action and existence a free Government once created. That Force
must be limited, restrained, conveyed by distribution into different channels,
and by roundabout courses, to outlets, whence it is to issue as the law, action,
and decision of the State; as the wise old Egyptian kings conveyed in different
canals, by sub-division, the swelling waters of the Nile, and compelled them to
fertilize and not devastate the land. There must be the jus et norma, the law
and Rule, or Gauge, of constitution and law, within which the public force must
act. Make a breach in either, and the great steam-hammer, with its swift and
ponderous blows, crushes all the machinery to atoms, and, at last, wrenching
itself away, lies inert and dead amid the ruin it has wrought.
The FORCE of the people, or the popular will, in action and exerted, symbolized
by the GAVEL, regulated and guided by and acting within the limits of LAW and
ORDER, symbolized by the TWENTY-FOUR-INCH RULE, has for its fruit LIBERTY,
EQUALITY, and FRATERNITY,--liberty regulated by law; equality of rights in the
eye of the law; brotherhood with its duties and obligations as well as its
You will hear shortly of the Rough ASHLAR and the Perfect ASHLAR, as part of the
jewels of the Lodge. The rough Ashlar is said to be "a stone, as taken from the
quarry, in its rude and natural state." The perfect Ashlar is said to be "a
stone made ready by the hands of the workmen, to be adjusted by the
working-tools of the Fellow-Craft." We shall not repeat the explanations of
these symbols given by the York Rite. You may read them in its printed monitors.
They are declared to allude to the self-improvement of the individual
craftsman,--a continuation of the same superficial interpretation.
The rough Ashlar is the PEOPLE, as a mass, rude and unorganized. The perfect
Ashlar, or cubical stone, symbol of perfection, is the STATE, the rulers
deriving their powers from the consent of the governed; the constitution and
laws speaking the will of the people; the government harmonious, symmetrical,
efficient, --its powers properly distributed and duly adjusted in equilibrium.
If we delineate a cube on a plane surface thus:
we have visible three faces, and nine external lines, drawn between seven
points. The complete cube has three more faces, making six; three more lines,
making twelve; and one more point, making eight. As the number 12 includes the
sacred numbers, 3, 5, 7, and 3 times 3, or 9, and is produced by adding the
sacred number 3 to 9; while its own two figures, 1, 2, the unit or monad, and
duad, added together, make the same sacred number 3; it was called the perfect
number; and the cube became the symbol of perfection.
Produced by FORCE, acting by RULE; hammered in accordance with lines measured by
the Gauge, out of the rough Ashlar, it is an appropriate symbol of the Force of
the people, expressed as the constitution and law of the State; and of the State
itself the three visible faces represent the three departments,--the Executive,
which executes the laws; the Legislative, which makes the laws; the Judiciary,
which interprets the laws, applies and enforces them, between man and man,
between the State and the citizens. The three invisible faces, are Liberty,
Equality, and Fraternity, the threefold soul of the State--its vitality, spirit,
Though Masonry neither usurps the place of, nor apes religion, prayer is an
essential part of our ceremonies. It is the aspiration of the soul toward the
Absolute and Infinite Intelligence, which is the One Supreme Deity, most feebly
and misunderstandingly characterized as an "ARCHITECT." Certain faculties of man
are directed toward the Unknown--thought, meditation, prayer. The unknown is an
ocean, of which conscience is the compass. Thought, meditation, prayer, are the
great mysterious pointings of the needle. It is a spiritual magnetism that thus
connects the human soul with the Deity. These majestic irradiations of the soul
pierce through the shadow toward the light.
It is but a shallow scoff to say that prayer is absurd, because it is not
possible for us, by means of it, to persuade God to change His plans. He
produces foreknown and foreintended effects, by the instrumentality of the
forces of nature, all of which are His forces. Our own are part of these. Our
free agency and our will are forces. We do not absurdly cease to make efforts to
attain wealth or happiness, prolong life, and continue health, because we cannot
by any effort change what is predestined. If the effort also is predestined, it
is not the less our effort, made of our free will. So, likewise, we pray. Will
is a force. Thought is a force. Prayer is a force. Why should it not be of the
law of God, that prayer, like Faith and Love, should have its effects? Man is
not to be comprehended as a starting-point, or progress as a goal, without those
two great forces, Faith and Love. Prayer is sublime. Orisons that beg and
clamour are pitiful. To deny the efficacy of prayer, is to deny that of Faith,
Love, and Effort. Yet the effects produced, when our hand, moved by our will,
launches a pebble into the ocean, never cease; and every uttered word is
registered for eternity upon the invisible air.
Every Lodge is a Temple, and as a whole, and in its details symbolic. The
Universe itself supplied man with the model for the first temples reared to the
Divinity. The arrangement of the Temple of Solomon, the symbolic ornaments which
formed its chief decorations, and the dress of the High-Priest, all had
reference to the order of the Universe, as then understood. The Temple contained
many emblems of the seasons--the sun, the moon, the planets, the constellations
Ursa Major and Minor, the zodiac, the elements, and the other parts of the
world. It is the Master of this Lodge, of the Universe, Hermes, of whom Khurum
is the representative, that is one of the lights of the Lodge.
For further instruction as to the symbolism of the heavenly bodies, and of the
sacred numbers, and of the temple and its details, you must wait patiently until
you advance in Masonry, in the mean time exercising your intellect in studying
them for yourself. To study and seek to interpret correctly the symbols of the
Universe, is the work of the sage and philosopher. It is to decipher the writing
of God, and penetrate into His thoughts.
This is what is asked and answered in our catechism, in regard to the Lodge.
A "Lodge" is defined to be "an assemblage of Freemasons, duly congregated,
having the sacred writings, square, and compass, and a charter, or warrant of
constitution, authorizing them to work." The room or place in which they meet,
representing some part of King Solomon's Temple, is also called the Lodge; and
it is that we are now considering.
It is said to be supported by three great columns, WISDOM, FORCE or STRENGTH,
and BEAUTY, represented by the Master, the Senior Warden, and the Junior Warden;
and these are said to be the columns that support the Lodge, "because Wisdom,
Strength, and Beauty, are the perfections of everything, and nothing can endure
without them." "Because," the York Rite says, "it is necessary that there should
be Wisdom to conceive, Strength to support, and Beauty to adorn, all great and
important undertakings." "Know ye not," says the Apostle Paul, "that ye are the
temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man desecrate
the temple of God, him shall God destroy, for the temple of God is holy, which
temple ye are."
The Wisdom and Power of the Deity are in equilibrium. The laws of nature and the
moral laws are not the mere despotic mandates of His Omnipotent will; for, then
they might be changed by Him, and order become disorder, and good and right
become evil and wrong; honesty and loyalty, vices; and fraud, ingratitude, and
vice, virtues. Omnipotent power, infinite, and existing alone, would necessarily
not be constrained to consistency. Its decrees and laws could not be immutable.
The laws of God are not obligatory on us because they are the enactments of His
POWER, or the expression of His WILL; but because they express His infinite
WISDOM. They are not right because they are His laws, but His laws because they
are right. From the equilibrium of infinite wisdom and infinite force, results
perfect harmony, in physics and in the moral universe. Wisdom, rower, and
Harmony constitute one Masonic triad. They have other and profounder meanings,
that may at some time be unveiled to you.
As to the ordinary and commonplace explanation, it may be added, that the wisdom
of the Architect is displayed in combining, as only a skillful Architect can do,
and as God has done everywhere,--for example, in the tree, the human frame, the
egg, the cells of the honeycomb--strength, with grace, beauty, symmetry,
proportion, lightness, ornamentation. That, too, is the perfection of the orator
and poet--to combine force, strength, energy, with grace of style, musical
cadences, the beauty of figures, the play and irradiation of imagination and
fancy; and so, in a State, the warlike and industrial force of the people, and
their Titanic strength, must be combined with the beauty of the arts, the
sciences, and the intellect, if the State would scale the heights of excellence,
and the people be really free. Harmony in this, as in all the Divine, the
material, and the human, is the result of equilibrium, of the sympathy and
opposite action of contraries; a single Wisdom above them holding the beam of
the scales. To reconcile the moral law, human responsibility, free-will, with
the absolute power of God; and the existence of evil with His absolute wisdom,
and goodness, and mercy,-- these are the great enigmas of the Sphynx.
You entered the Lodge between two columns. They represent the two which stood in
the porch of the Temple, on each side of the great eastern gateway. These
pillars, of bronze, four fingers breadth in thickness, were, according to the
most authentic account--that in the First and that in the Second Book of Kings,
confirmed in Jeremiah-- eighteen cubits high, with a capital five cubits high.
The shaft of each was four cubits in diameter. A cubit is one foot and 707/1000.
That is, the shaft of each was a little over thirty feet eight inches in height,
the capital of each a little over eight feet six inches in height, and the
diameter of the shaft six feet ten inches. The capitals were enriched by
pomegranates of bronze, covered by bronze net-work, and ornamented with wreaths
of bronze; and appear to have imitated the shape of the seed-vessel of the lotus
or Egyptian lily, a sacred symbol to the Hindus and Egyptians. The pillar or
column on the right, or in the south, was named, as the Hebrew word is rendered
in our translation of the Bible, JACHIN: and that on the left BOAZ. Our
translators say that the first word means, "He shall establish;" and the second,
"In it is strength."
These columns were imitations, by Khurum, the Tyrian artist, of the great
columns consecrated to the Winds and Fire, at the entrance to the famous Temple
of Malkarth, in the city of Tyre. It is customary, in Lodges of the York Rite,
to see a celestial globe on one, and a terrestrial globe on the other; but these
are not warranted, if the object be to imitate the original two columns of the
Temple. The symbolic meaning of these columns we shall leave for the present
unexplained, only adding that Entered Apprentices keep their working-tools in
the column JACHIN; and giving you the etymology and literal meaning of the two
The word JACHIN, in Hebrew, probably pronounced Ya-kayan, and meant, as a verbal
noun, He that strengthens; and thence, firm, stable, upright.
The word Boaz is Baaz which means Strong, Strength, Power, Might, Refuge, Source
of Strength, a Fort. The prefix means "with" or "in," and gives the word the
force of the Latin gerund, roborando--Strengthening
The former word also means he will establish, or plant in an erect
position--from the verb Kun, he stood erect. It probably meant Active and
Vivifying Energy and Force; and Boaz, Stability, Permanence, in the passive
The Dimensions of the Lodge, our Brethren of the York Rite say, "are unlimited,
and its covering no less than the canopy of Heaven." "To this object," they say,
"the mason's mind is continually directed, and thither he hopes at last to
arrive by the aid of the theological ladder which Jacob in his vision saw
ascending from earth to Heaven; the three principal rounds of which are
denominated Faith, Hope, and Charity; and which admonish us to have Faith in
God, Hope in Immortality, and Charity to all mankind." Accordingly a ladder,
sometimes with nine rounds, is seen on the chart, resting at the bottom on the
earth, its top in the clouds, the stars shining above it; and this is deemed to
represent that mystic ladder, which Jacob saw in his dream, set up on the earth,
and the top of it reaching to Heaven, with the angels of God ascending and
descending on it. The addition of the three principal rounds to the symbolism,
is wholly modern and incongruous.
The ancients counted seven planets, thus arranged: the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the
Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. There were seven heavens and seven spheres of
these planets; on all the monuments of Mithras are seven altars or pyres,
consecrated to the seven planets, as were the seven lamps of the golden
candelabrum in the Temple. That these represented the planets, we are assured by
Clemens of Alexandria, in his Stromata, and by Philo Judaeus.
To return to its source in the Infinite, the human soul, the ancients held, had
to ascend, as it had descended, through the seven spheres. The Ladder by which
it reascends, has, according to Marsilius Ficinus, in his Commentary on the
Ennead of Plotinus, seven degrees or steps; and in the Mysteries of Mithras,
carried to Rome under the Emperors, the ladder, with its seven rounds, was a
symbol referring to this ascent through the spheres of the seven planets. Jacob
saw the Spirits of God ascending and descending on it; and above it the Deity
Himself. The Mithraic Mysteries were celebrated in caves, where gates were
marked at the four equinoctial and solstitial points of the Zodiac; and the
seven planetary spheres were represented, which souls needs must traverse in
descending from the heaven of the fixed stars to the elements that envelop the
earth; and seven gates were marked, one for each planet, through which they
pass, in descending or returning.
We learn this from Celsus, in Origen, who says that the symbolic image of this
passage among the stars, used in the Mithraic Mysteries, was a ladder reaching
from earth to Heaven, divided into seven steps or stages, to each of which was a
gate, and at the summit an eighth one, that of the fixed stars. The symbol was
the same as that of the seven stages of Borsippa, the Pyramid of vitrified
brick, near Babylon, built of seven stages, and each of a different colour. In
the Mithraic ceremonies, the candidate went through seven stages of initiation,
passing through many fearful trials--and of these the high ladder with seven
rounds or steps was the symbol.
You see the Lodge, its details and ornaments, by its Lights. You have already
heard what these Lights, the greater and lesser, are said to be, and how they
are spoken of by our Brethren of the York Rite.
The Holy Bible, Square, and Compasses, are not only styled the Great Lights in
Masonry, but they are also technically called the Furniture of the Lodge; and,
as you have seen, it is held that there is no Lodge without them. This has
sometimes been made a pretext for excluding Jews from our Lodges, because they
cannot regard the New Testament as a holy book. The Bible is an indispensable
part of the furniture of a Christian Lodge, only because it is the sacred book
of the Christian religion. The Hebrew Pentateuch in a Hebrew Lodge, and the
Koran in a Mohammedan one, belong on the Altar; and one of these, and the Square
and Compass, properly understood, are the Great Lights by which a Mason must
walk and work.
The obligation of the candidate is always to be taken on the sacred book or
books of his religion, that he may deem it more solemn and binding; and
therefore it was that you were asked of what religion you were. We have no other
concern with your religious creed.
The Square is a right angle, formed by two right lines. It is adapted only to a
plane surface, and belongs only to geometry, earth-measurement, that
trigonometry which deals only with planes, and with the earth, which the
ancients supposed to be a plane. The Compass describes circles, and deals with
spherical trigonometry, the science of the spheres and-heavens. The former,
therefore, is an emblem of what concerns the earth and the body; the latter of
what concerns the heavens and the soul. Yet the Compass is also used in plane
trigonometry, as in erecting perpendiculars; and, therefore, you are reminded
that, although in this Degree both points of the Compass are under the Square,
and you are now dealing only with the moral and political meaning of the
symbols, and not with their philosophical and spiritual meanings, still the
divine ever mingles with the human; with the earthly the spiritual intermixes;
and there is something spiritual in the commonest duties of life. The nations
are not bodies politic alone, but also souls-politic; and woe to that people
which, seeking the material only, forgets that it has a soul. Then we have a
race, petrified in dogma, which presupposes the absence of a soul and the
presence only of memory and instinct, or demoralized by lucre. Such a nature can
never lead civilization. Genuflexion before the idol or the dollar atrophies the
muscle which walks and the will which moves. Hieratic or mercantile absorption
diminishes the radiance of a people, lowers its horizon by lowering its level,
and deprives it of that understanding of the universal aim, at the same time
human and divine, which makes the missionary nations. A free people, forgetting
that it has a soul to be cared for, devotes all its energies to its material
advancement. If it makes war, it is to subserve its commercial interests. The
citizens copy after the State, and regard wealth, pomp, and luxury as the great
goods of life. Such a nation creates wealth rapidly, and distributes it badly.
Thence the two extremes, of monstrous opulence and monstrous misery; all the
enjoyment to a few, all the privations to the rest, that is to say, to the
people; Privilege, Exception, Monopoly, Feudality, springing up from Labour
itself: a false and dangerous situation, which, making Labour a blinded and
chained Cyclops, in the mine, at the forge, in the workshop, at the loom, in the
field, over poisonous fumes, in miasmatic cells, in unventilated factories,
founds public power upon private misery, and plants the greatness of the State
in the suffering of the individual. It is a greatness ill constituted, in which
all the material elements are combined, and into which no moral element enters.
If a people, like a star, has the right of eclipse, the light ought to return.
The eclipse should not degenerate into night.
The three lesser, or the Sublime Lights, you have heard, are the Sun, the Moon,
and the Master of the Lodge; and you have heard what our Brethren of the York
Rite say in regard to them, and why they hold them to be Lights of the Lodge.
But the Sun and Moon do in no sense light the Lodge, unless it be symbolically,
and then the lights are not they, but those things of which they are the
symbols. Of what they are the symbols the Mason in that Rite is not told. Nor
does the Moon in any sense rule the night with regularity.
The Sun is the ancient symbol of the life-giving and generative power of the
Deity. To the ancients, light was the cause of life; and God was the source from
which all light flowed; the essence of Light, the Invisible Fire, developed as
Flame manifested as light and splendour. The Sun was His manifestation and
visible image; and the Sabaeans worshipping the Light--God, seemed to worship
the Sun, in whom they saw the manifestation of the Deity.
The Moon was the symbol of the passive capacity of nature to produce, the
female, of which the life-giving power and energy was the male. It was the
symbol of Isis, Astarte, and Artemis, or Diana. The "Master of Life" was the
Supreme Deity, above both, and manifested through both; Zeus, the Son of Saturn,
become King of the Gods; Horus, son of Osiris and Isis, become the Master of
Life; Dionusos or Bacchus, like Mithras, become the author of Light and Life and
The Master of Light and Life, the Sun and the Moon, are symbolized in every
Lodge by the Master and Wardens: and this makes it the duty of the Master to
dispense light to the Brethren, by himself, and through the Wardens, who are his
"Thy sun," says ISAIAH to Jerusalem, "shall no more go down, neither shall thy
moon withdraw itself; for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the
days of thy mourning shall be ended. Thy people also shall be all righteous;
they shall inherit the land forever." Such is the type of a free people.
Our northern ancestors worshipped this tri-une Deity; ODIN, the Almighty FATHER;
FREA, his wife, emblem of universal matter; and THOR, his son, the mediator. But
above all these was the Supreme God, "the author of everything that existeth,
the Eternal, the Ancient, the Living and Awful Being, the Searcher into
concealed things, the Being that never changeth." In the Temple of Eleusis (a
sanctuary lighted only by a window in the roof, and representing the Universe),
the images of the Sun, Moon, and Mercury, were represented.
"The Sun and Moon," says the learned Bro.'. DELAUNAY, "represent the two grand
principles of all generations, the active and passive, the male and the female.
The Sun represents the actual light. He pours upon the Moon his fecundating
rays; both shed their light upon their offspring, the Blazing Star, or HORUS,
and the three form the great Equilateral Triangle, in the centre of which is the
omnific letter of the Kabalah, by which creation is said to have been effected."
The ORNAMENTS of a Lodge are said to be "the Mosaic Pavement, the Indented
Tessel, and the Blazing Star." The Mosaic Pavement, chequered in squares or
lozenges, is said to represent the ground-floor of King Solomon's Temple; and
the Indented Tessel "that beautiful tessellated border which surrounded it." The
Blazing Star in the centre is said to be "an emblem of Divine Providence, and
commemorative of the star which appeared to guide the wise men of the East to
the place of our Saviour's nativity." But "there was no stone seen" within the
Temple. The walls were covered with planks of cedar, and the floor was covered
with planks of fir. There is no evidence that there was such a pavement or floor
in the Temple, or such a bordering. In England, anciently, the Tracing-Board was
surrounded with an indented border; and it is only in America that such a border
is put around the Mosaic pavement. The tesserae, indeed, are the squares or
lozenges of the pavement. In England, also, "the indented or denticulated
border" is called "tessellated," because it has four "tassels," said to
represent Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice. It was termed the
Indented Trassel; but this is a misuse of words. It is a tesserated pavement,
with an indented border round it.
The pavement, alternately black and white, symbolizes, whether so intended or
not, the Good and Evil Principles of the Egyptian and Persian creed. It is the
warfare of Michael and Satan, of the Gods and Titans, of Balder and Lok; between
light and shadow, which is darkness; Day and Night; Freedom and Despotism;
Religious Liberty and the Arbitrary Dogmas of a Church that thinks for its
votaries, and whose Pontiff claims to be infallible, and the decretals of its
Councils to constitute a gospel.
The edges of this pavement, if in lozenges, will necessarily be indented or
denticulated, toothed like a saw; and to complete and finish it a bordering is
necessary. It is completed by tassels as ornaments at the corners. If these and
the bordering have any symbolic meaning, it is fanciful and arbitrary.
To find in the BLAZING STAR of five points an allusion to the Divine Providence,
is also fanciful; and to make it commemorative of the Star that is said to have
guided the Magi, is to give it a meaning comparatively modern. Originally it
represented SIRIUS, or the Dog-star, the forerunner of the inundation of the
Nile; the God ANUBIS, companion of ISIS in her search for the body of OSIRIS,
her brother and husband. Then it became the image of HORUS, the son of OSIRIS,
himself symbolized also by the Sun, the author of the Seasons, and the God of
Time; Son of ISIS, who was the universal nature, himself the primitive matter,
inexhaustible source of Life, spark of uncreated fire, universal seed of all
beings. It was HERMES, also, the Master of Learning, whose name in Greek is that
of the God Mercury. It became the sacred and potent sign or character of the
Magi, the PENTALPHA, and is the significant emblem of Liberty and Freedom,
blazing with a steady radiance amid the weltering elements of good and evil of
Revolutions, and promising serene skies and fertile seasons to the nations,
after the storms of change and tumult.
In the East of the Lodge, over the Master, inclosed in a triangle, is the Hebrew
letter YOD. In the English and American Lodges the Letter G.'. is substituted
for this, as the initial of the word GOD, with as little reason as if the letter
D., initial of DIEU, were used in French Lodges instead of the proper letter.
YOD is, in the Kabalah, the symbol of Unity, of the Supreme Deity, the first
letter of the Holy Name; and also a symbol of the Great Kabalistic Triads. To
understand its mystic meanings, you must open the pages of the Sohar and Siphra
de Zeniutha, and other kabalistic books, and ponder deeply on their meaning. It
must suffice to say, that it is the Creative Energy of the Deity, is represented
as a point, and that point in the centre of the Circle of immensity. It is to us
in this Degree, the symbol of that unmanifested Deity, the Absolute, who has no
Our French Brethren place this letter YOD in the centre of the Blazing Star. And
in the old Lectures, our ancient English Brethren said, "The Blazing Star or
Glory in the centre refers us to that grand luminary, the Sun, which enlightens
the earth, and by its genial influence dispenses blessings to mankind." They
called it also in the same lectures, an emblem of PRUDENCE. The word Prudentia
means, in its original and fullest signification, Foresight; and, accordingly,
the Blazing Star has been regarded as an emblem of Omniscience, or the
All-seeing Eye, which to the Egyptian Initiates was the emblem of Osiris, the
Creator. With the YOD in the centre, it has the kabalistic meaning of the Divine
Energy, manifested as Light, creating the Universe.
The Jewels of the Lodge are said to be six in number. Three are called
"Movable," and three "Immovable." The SQUARE, the LEVEL, and the PLUMB were
anciently and properly called the Movable Jewels, because they pass from one
Brother to another. It is a modern innovation to call them immovable, because
they must always be present in the Lodge. The immovable jewels are the ROUGH
ASHLAR, the PERFECT ASHLAR or CUBICAL, STONE, or, in some Rituals, the DOUBLE
CUBE, and the TRACING-BOARD, or TRESTLE-BOARD.
Of these jewels our Brethren of the York Rite say: "The Square inculcates
Morality; the Level, Equality; and the Plumb, Rectitude of Conduct." Their
explanation of the immovable Jewels may be read in their monitors.
Our Brethren of the York Rite say that "there is represented in every
well-governed Lodge, a certain point, within a circle; the point representing an
individual Brother; the Circle, the boundary line of his conduct, beyond which
he is never to suffer his prejudices or passions to betray him."
This is not to interpret the symbols of Masonry. It is said by some, with a
nearer approach to interpretation, that the point within the circle represents
God in the centre of the Universe. It is a common Egyptian sign for the Sun and
Osiris, and is still used as the astronomical sign of the great luminary. In the
Kabalah the point is YOD, the Creative Energy of God, irradiating with light the
circular space which God, the universal Light, left vacant, wherein to create
the worlds, by withdrawing His substance of Light back on all sides from one
Our Brethren add that, "this circle is embordered by two perpendicular parallel
lines, representing Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist, and
upon the top rest the Holy Scriptures" (an open book). "In going round this
circle," they say, "we necessarily touch upon these two lines as well as upon
the Holy Scriptures; and while a Mason keeps himself circumscribed within their
precepts, it is impossible that he should materially err."
It would be a waste of time to comment upon this. Some writers have imagined
that the parallel lines represent the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, which the
Sun alternately touches upon at the Summer and Winter solstices. But the tropics
are not perpendicular lines, and the idea is merely fanciful. If the parallel
lines ever belonged to the ancient symbol, they had some more recondite and more
fruitful meaning. They probably had the same meaning as the twin columns Jachin
and Boaz. That meaning is not for the Apprentice. The adept may find it in the
Kabalah. The JUSTICE and MERCY of God are in equilibrium, and the result is
HARMONY, because a Single and Perfect Wisdom presides over both.
The Holy Scriptures are an entirely modern addition to the symbol, like the
terrestrial and celestial globes on the columns of the portico. Thus the ancient
symbol has been denaturalized by incongruous additions, like that of Isis
weeping over the broken column containing the remains of Osiris at Byblos.
Masonry has its decalogue, which is a law to its Initiates. These are its Ten
I. God is the Eternal, Omnipotent, Immutable WISDOM and Supreme INTELLIGENCE and
Thou shalt adore, revere, and love Him !
Thou shalt honour Him by practising the virtues!
II. Thy religion shall be, to do good because it is a pleasure to thee, and not
merely because it is a duty.
That thou mayest become the friend of the wise man, thou shalt obey his precepts
Thy soul is immortal ! Thou shalt do nothing to degrade it !
III. Thou shalt unceasingly war against vice!
Thou shalt not do unto others that which thou wouldst not wish them to do unto
Thou shalt be submissive to thy fortunes, and keep burning the light of wisdom !
IV. Thou shalt honour thy parents !
Thou shalt pay respect and homage to the aged!
Thou shalt instruct the young!
Thou shalt protect and defend infancy and innocence !
V. Thou shalt cherish thy wife and thy children!
Thou shalt love thy country, and obey its laws!
VI. Thy friend shall be to thee a second self !
Misfortune shall not estrange thee from him !
Thou shalt do for his memory whatever thou wouldst do for him, if he were
VII. Thou shalt avoid and flee from insincere friendships !
Thou shalt in everything refrain from excess.
Thou shalt fear to be the cause of a stain on thy memory!
VIII. Thou shalt allow no passions to become thy master !
Thou shalt make the passions of others profitable lessons to thyself!
Thou shalt be indulgent to error !
IX. Thou shalt hear much: Thou shalt speak little: Thou shalt act well !
Thou shalt forget injuries!
Thou shalt render good for evil !
Thou shalt not misuse either thy strength or thy superiority !
X. Thou shalt study to know men; that thereby thou mayest learn to know thyself
Thou shalt ever seek after virtue !
Thou shalt be just!
Thou shalt avoid idleness !
But the great commandment of Masonry is this: "A new commandment give I unto
you: that ye love one another! He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his
brother, remaineth still in the darkness."
Such are the moral duties of a Mason. But it is also the duty of Masonry to
assist in elevating the moral and intellectual level of society; in coining
knowledge, bringing ideas into circulation, and causing the mind of youth to
grow; and in putting, gradually, by the teachings of axioms and the promulgation
of positive laws, the human race in harmony with its destinies.
To this duty and work the Initiate is apprenticed. He must not imagine that he
can effect nothing, and, therefore, despairing, become inert. It is in this, as
in a man's daily life. Many great deeds are done in the small struggles of life.
There is, we are told, a determined though unseen bravery, which defends itself,
foot to foot, in the darkness, against the fatal invasion of necessity and of
baseness. There are noble and mysterious triumphs, which no eye sees, which no
renown rewards, which no flourish of trumpets salutes. Life, misfortune,
isolation, abandonment, poverty, are battle-fields, which have their
heroes,--heroes obscure, but sometimes greater than those who become
illustrious. The Mason should struggle in the same manner, and with the same
bravery, against those invasions of necessity and baseness, which come to
nations as well as to men. He should meet them, too, foot to foot, even in the
darkness, and protest against the national wrongs and follies; against
usurpation and the first inroads of that hydra, Tyranny. There is no more
sovereign eloquence than the truth in indignation. It is more difficult for a
people to keep than to gain their freedom. The Protests of Truth are always
needed. Continually, the right must protest against the fact. There is, in fact,
Eternity in the Right. The Mason should be the Priest and Soldier of that Right.
If his country should be robbed of her liberties, he should still not despair.
The protest of the Right against the Fact persists forever. The robbery of a
people never becomes prescriptive. Reclamation of its rights is barred by no
length of time. Warsaw can no more be Tartar than Venice can be Teutonic. A
people may endure military usurpation, and subjugated States kneel to States and
wear the yoke, while under the stress of necessity; but when the necessity
disappears, if the people is fit to be free, the submerged country will float to
the surface and reappear, and Tyranny be adjudged by History to have murdered
Whatever occurs, we should have Faith in the Justice and overruling Wisdom of
God, and Hope for the Future, and Lovingkindness for those who are in error. God
makes visible to men His will in events; an obscure text, written in a
mysterious language. Men make their translations of it forthwith, hasty,
incorrect, full of faults, omissions, and misreadings. We see so short a way
along the arc of the great circle! Few minds comprehend the Divine tongue. The
most sagacious, the most calm, the most profound, decipher the hieroglyphs
slowly; and when they arrive with their text, perhaps the need has long gone by;
there are already twenty translations in the public square--the most incorrect
being, as of course, the most accepted and popular. From each translation, a
party is born; and from each misreading, a faction. Each party believes or
pretends that it has the only true text, and each faction believes or pretends
that it alone possesses the light. Moreover, factions are blind men, who aim
straight, errors are excellent projectiles, striking skillfully, and with all
the violence that springs from false reasoning, wherever a want of logic in
those who defend the right, like a defect in a cuirass, makes them vulnerable.
Therefore it is that we shall often be discomfited in combating error before the
people. Antaeus long resisted Hercules; and the heads of the Hydra grew as fast
as they were cut off. It is absurd to say that Error, wounded, writhes in pain,
and dies amid her worshippers. Truth conquers slowly. There is a wondrous
vitality in Error. Truth, indeed, for the most part, shoots over the heads of
the masses; or if an error is prostrated for a moment, it is up again in a
moment, and as vigorous as ever. It will not die when the brains are out, and
the most stupid and irrational errors are the longest-lived.
Nevertheless, Masonry, which is Morality and Philosophy, must not cease to do
its duty. We never know at what moment success awaits our efforts--generally
when most unexpected--nor with what effect our efforts are or are not to be
attended. Succeed or fail, Masonry must not bow to error, or succumb under
discouragement. There were at Rome a few Carthaginian soldiers, taken prisoners,
who refused to bow to Flaminius, and had a little of Hannibal's magnanimity.
Masons should possess an equal greatness of soul. Masonry should be an energy;
finding its aim and effect in the amelioration of mankind. Socrates should enter
into Adam, and produce Marcus Aurelius, in other words, bring forth from the man
of enjoyments, the man of wisdom. Masonry should not be a mere watch-tower,
built upon mystery, from which to gaze at ease upon the world, with no other
result than to be a convenience for the curious. To hold the full cup of thought
to the thirsty lips of men; to give to all the true ideas of Deity; to harmonize
conscience and science, are the province of Philosophy. Morality is Faith in
full bloom. Contemplation should lead to action, and the absolute be practical;
the ideal be made air and food and drink to the human mind. Wisdom is a sacred
communion. It is only on that condition that it ceases to be a sterile love of
Science, and becomes the one and supreme method by which to unite Humanity and
arouse it to concerted action. Then Philosophy becomes Religion.
And Masonry, like History and Philosophy, has eternal duties-- eternal, and, at
the same time, simple--to oppose Caiaphas as Bishop, Draco or Jefferies as
Judge, Trimalcion as Legislator, and Tiberius as Emperor. These are the symbols
of the tyranny that degrades and crushes, and the corruption that defiles and
infests. In the works published for the use of the Craft we are told that the
three great tenets of a Mason's profession, are Brotherly Love, Relief, and
Truth. And it is true that a Brotherly affection and kindness should govern us
in all our intercourse and relations with our brethren; and a generous and
liberal philanthropy actuate us in regard to all men. To relieve the distressed
is peculiarly the duty of Masons--a sacred duty, not to be omitted, neglected,
or coldly or inefficiently complied with. It is also most true, that Truth is a
Divine attribute and the foundation of every virtue. To be true, and to seek to
find and learn the Truth, are the great objects of every good Mason.
As the Ancients did, Masonry styles Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and
Justice, the four cardinal virtues. They are as necessary to nations as to
individuals. The people that would be Free and Independent, must possess
Sagacity, Forethought, Foresight, and careful Circumspection, all which are
included in the meaning of the word Prudence. It must be temperate in asserting
its rights, temperate in its councils, economical in its expenses; it must be
bold, brave, courageous, patient under reverses, undismayed by disasters,
hopeful amid calamities, like Rome when she sold the field at which Hannibal had
his camp. No Cannae or Pharsalia or Pavia or Agincourt or Waterloo must
discourage her. Let her Senate sit in their seats until the Gauls pluck them by
the beard. She must, above all things, be just, not truckling to the strong and
warring on or plundering the weak; she must act on the square with all nations,
and the feeblest tribes; always keeping her faith, honest in her legislation,
upright in all her dealings. Whenever such a Republic exists, it will be
immortal: for rashness, injustice, intemperance and luxury in prosperity, and
despair and disorder in adversity, are the causes of the decay and dilapidation
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