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the masonic manual
The first step taken by a candidate, on entering a Lodge of Freemasons, teaches him the pernicious tendency of infidelity, and shows him that the foundation on which Masonry rests, is the belief and acknowledgment of a Supreme being; that in Him alone a sure confidence can be safely placed to protect his steps in all the dangers and difficulties he may be called to encounter in his progress through life; it assures him that, if his faith be well founded in that Being, he may confidently pursue his course without fear and without danger.
Masonry was originally an operative society, and in that form those who worked as ENTERED APPRENTICES, were styled the first class; but in Speculative or Free-masonry, the degree of which we are now treating is regarded as the first of the order. Its reception places the noviciate in possession of the masonic alphabet, and discloses to him the fundamental principles of this time-honored institution. It is divided into three sections, viz: 1st. The ceremony; 2d. Its moral, and 3d. Its necessity and consistency.
A full and perfect knowledge of this section is indispensably necessary to every Mason, who would be serviceable to the Institution, and would avail himself of its privileges and its enjoyments.
"Vouchsafe thine aid, Almighty father of the Universe, to this our present convention; and grant that this candidate for Masonry may dedicate and devote his life to thy service, and become a true and faithful Brother among us. Endue him with a competency of thy divine Wisdom, that by the influence of the pure principles of our Order, he may the better be enabled to display the beauties of holiness, to the honor of thy holy name. Amen Response - "So move it be."
"Behold! how good and how pleasant it is fo brethren to dwell together in unity:
" It is like the precious ointment upon the head that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard that went down to the skirts of his garment:
"As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore."
Music - "Auld Lang Syne."
Behold! how pleasant and how good,
For there the Lord of light and love
It is the duty of the Master of the Lodge, as one of the precautionary measures of initiation, to explain to the candidate the nature and design of the Institution. And while he informs him that it is founded on the purest principles of virtue; that it possesses great and invaluable privileges, and that in order to secure those privileges to worthy men, and worthy men alone, voluntary pledges of fidelity are required. He will at the same time assure him that nothing will be expected of him incompatible with his civil, moral or religious duties.
That ancient and spotless ensign of Masonry, the LAMB-SKIN or WHITE APRON, is presented in behalf of the Lodge and the fraternity in general.
"It is an emblem of innocence, and the badge of a Mason; more ancient than the golden fleece, or Roman eagle; more honorable than the star and garter, or any other order that can be conferred upon the candidate at the time of his initiation, or at any future period. by king, prince, potentate, or any other person, except he be a Mason." * * * It is hoped he will wear it with pleasure to himself and honor to the fraternity.
In the course of this section is exhibited a beautiful and impressive illustration of the first, and one of the grand principles of the institution; and concludes with a moral application of
"The twenty-four inch gauge is an instrument used by operative masons to measure and lay out their work; but we, as free and accepted masons, are taught to make use of it for the more noble and glorious purpose of dividing our time. It being divided into twenty-four equal parts, is emblematical of the twenty-four hours of the day, which we are taught to divide into three equal parts; whereby are found eight hours for the service of GOD, and a distressed worthy brother; eight for our usual vocations; and eight for refreshment and sleep.
"The common gavel is an instrument made use of by operative masons to break off the corners of rough stones, the better to fit them for the builder's use; but we, as free and accepted masons, are taught to make use of it for the more noble and glorious purpose of divesting our hearts and consciences of all the vices and superfluities of life; thereby fitting our minds as living stones for that spiritual building, that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
This section is one of vital importance, not only to the candidate, but to the craft generally, and should be properly understood by every presiding officer; as all ceremonies would appear light and frivolous, unless accompanied by those moral lessons and fraternal impressions which they are intended so strongly to impress on the minds of all who pass through or witness them, that neither time nor circumstance can eradicate them from the memory.
Every candidate, at his initiation, is presented with a lamb-skin, or white apron.
"The LAMB has, in all
ages, been deemed an emblem of innocence; the lamb-skin is
therefore to remind him of that purity of life and rectitude of conduct,
which is so essentially necessary to his gaining admission into the
Celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the universe
This section fully explains the manner of constituting, and the proper authority for holding a Lodge. Here also, we learn where Lodges were anciently held; their form, support, covering, furniture, ornaments, lights and jewels; how situated, and to whom dedicated, as well in former times as at present.
Its form is * * * *. Its dimensions from east to west, embracing every clime between north and south; in fact its universal chain of friendship encircles every portion of the human family, and beams wherever civilization extends * * * *
The Masonic Lodge, bounded only by the extreme points of the compass, the highest heavens, and the lowest depth of the central abyss, is metaphorically supported by three great pillars, which are denominated WISDOM, STRENGTH and BEAUTY; because there should be wisdom to contrive, strength to support, and beauty to adorn all great and important undertakings. The universe is the temple of the DEITY whom we serve; Wisdom, Strength and Beauty are about his throne as pillars of his work; for his wisdom is infinite, his strength is omnipotence, and his beauty shines forth through all his creation in symmetry and order.
Its COVERING is no less than the clouded canopy or starry-decked heaven, where all good Masons hope at last to arrive, by the aid of that theological ladder, which Jacob, in his vision, saw extending from earth to heaven; the three principal rounds of which are denominated FAITH, HOPE and CHARITY; which admonish us to have faith in GOD, hope in immortality, and charity to all mankind. The greatest of these is CHARITY, for our faith may be lost in sight; hope ends in fruition; but charity extends beyond the grave, through the boundless realms of eternity."
Every well-governed lodge is furnished with the Holy Bible, the Square and the Compasses.
The Bible is dedicated to the service of God, because it is the inestimable gift of god to man, * * * * ; The square to the Master, because it is the propper Masonic emblem of his office; and the compasses to the craft, because, by a due attention to its use, they are taught to circumscribe their desires, and keep their passions within due bonds. *)
*) The following appropriate illustration of the * * * of masonry, may be given with beautiful effect:
"As more immediate guides for a Free-mason, the lodge is furnished with unerring rules, whereby he shall form his conduct. The book of the law is laid before him, that he may not say, through ignorance he erred; wahtever the Great Architect of the world hath dictated to mankind, as the mode in which he would be served, and the path in which to tread is to obtain his approbation; whatever precepts he hath administered, and with whatever laws he hath inspired the sages of old, the same are faithfully comprised in the book of the law of masonry. That book reveals the duties which the Great Master of all exacts from us; open every eye, comprehensible to every mind; then who shall say among us that he koweth not the acceptable service!"
"The rule, the square, and the compasses, are emblematical of the conduct we should pursue in society. To observe punetuality in all our engagements, faithfully and religiously to discharge these important obligation, which we owe to GOD and our neighbor; to be upright in all our dealings: to hold the scale of justice in equal poise; to square our action by unerring rule of GOD's sacred word; to keep within compass and bounds with all mankind, particularly with a brother; to keep within bounds those unruly passions which oftentimes interfere with the enjoyments of society, and degrade both the man and the Freemason: to recal to our minds, that in the great scale of existence, the whole family of mankind are upon a level with each other, and that the only question of preference among Free-masons should be, who is most wise, who is most good! For the time will come, and non of us know how soon, when death, the great leveller of all human geratness, will rob us our distinctions, and bring us to a level with the dust."
The ornaments of a Lodge are a representation of the Mosaic pavement, which fobrmed the groundfloor of King Solomon's Temple; the beautiful tesselated border (the border that surrounded it), and the blazing star in the centre, the S.: S.: or Holy of Holies.*)
The Mosaic pavement is emblematical of human life, checkered with good and evil; the indented tessel, or tesselated border, of the manifold blessings and comforts which constantly surround us, and which we hope to enjoy by a firm reliance on Divine Providence, which is hieroglyphically represented by the blazing star in the centre. +)
The moveable and immoveable jewels also claim our attention.
The immoveable jewels are the ROUGH ASHLER, the PERFECT ASHLER, and the TRESTLE BOARD.
The rough ashler is a stone in its rude and natural state, as taken from the quarry: the perfect ashler, one prepared by the workmen, to be adjusted by the working tools of the fellowcraft; and the trestle board is for the master workman to draw his designs upon.
By the rough ashler we are reminded of our rude and imperfect state by nature; by the perfect ashIer, of that state of perfection at which we hope to arrive by a virtuous education, our own endeavors, and the blessing of DEITY. And as the operative workman erects his temporal building in accordance with the designs laid down upon the trestle board, by the master workman, so should we, both operative and speculative, endeavor to erect our spiritual building in accordance with the designs laid down by the Supreme Architect of the universe, in the great book of nature and revelation, which is our spiritual, moral and masonaic trestle-board.
Lodges are situated due east and west.
Lodges in ancient times were dedicated to King Solomon * * *, and continued to be so dedicated until after the crusades. Among the various orders of knights engaged in those chivalric wars, none were more conspicuous than the magnanimous order of the Knights of St. John. Many brethren the ancient craft also went forth to aid in redeeming the sepulchre of the Saviour, from the hands of the infidel; between these and the knights of St. John, there existed a reciprocal feeling of brotherly love. On the plains of Jerusalem, they entered into a solemn compact of friendship, and it was mutually agreed between them that henceforth all lodges, whose members acknowledged the divinity of Christ, should be dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and St. John the Evangelist, who were two eminent Christian patrons of Freemasonry.
From that time, therefore, there has been represented, in every well governed Lodge, a certain POINT WlTHIN A CIRCLE, embordered by two perpendicular parallel lines, representing those two saints, upon the vertex of the circle rests the Holy Scriptures. The point within the circle represents an individual brother; the circle is the boundary line, beyond which he is never to suffer his passions to betray him. In going round this circle, he must necessarily touch upon these two lines, as well as the Holy Scriptures; which teaches us that while a Mason keeps himself circumscribed within their precepts, it is impossible that he should materially err.
The principal tenets of our profession are threefold, including the inculcation and practice of those truly commendable virtues, BROTHRLY - LOVE, RELIEF and TRUTH
OF BROTHERLY LOVE
By the exercise of Brotherly Love, we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family; the high, the low; the rich, the poor; who, as created by one Almighty Parent and in habitants of the same planet, are to aid, support and protect each other. On this principle, Masonry unites men of every country, sect and opinion, and conciliates true friendship among those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance.
To relieve the distressed, is a duty incumbent on all men; but particularly on Masons, who are linked together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affection. To soothe the unhappy; to sympathize with their misfortunes; to compassionate their miseries, and to restore peace to their troubled minds, is the great aim we have in view. On this basis, we form our friendships and establish our connections
Truth is a divine attribute, and the foundation of every virtue. To be good and true, is the first lesson we are taught in masonry. On this theme we contemplate, and by its dictates endeavor to regulate our conduct: hence, while influenced by this principle, hypocrisy and deceit are unknown among us; sincerity and plain dealing distinguish us; and the heart and tongue join in promoting each other's welfare, and rejoicing in each other's prosperity.
FORTITUDE is that noble and steady purpose of the mind, whereby we are enabled to undergo any pain, peril or danger, when prudentially deemed expedient. This virtue is equally distant from rashness or cowardice; and should be deeply impressed upon the mind of every mason, as a safeguard or security against any illegal attack that may be made, by force or otherwise, to extort from him any of those valuable secrets with which he has been so solemnly intrusted, and which were emblematically represented upon his first admission into the Lodge.
PRUDENCE teaches us to regulate our lives and actions agreeably to the dictates of reason, and is that habit by which we wisely judge, and prudentially determine, on all things relative to our present, as well as to our future happiness. This virtue should be the peculiar characteristic of every Mason, not only for the government of his conduct while in the Lodge, but also when abroad in the world. It should be particularly attended to, in all strange and mixed companies, never to let fall the least sign, token or word, whereby the secrets of Masonry might be unlawfully obtained. * * * * * *
TEMPERANCE is that due restraint upon our affections and passions, which renders the body tame and governable, and frees the mind from the allurements of vice. This virtue should be the constant practice of every Mason; as he is thereby taught to avoid excess, or contracting any licentious or vicious habit, the indulgence of which might lead him to disclose some of those valuable secrets, which he has promised to conceal and never reveal, and which would consequently subject him to the contempt and detestation of all good Masons. * * * * * *
JUSTICE is that standard, or boundary of right, which enables us to render unto every main his just due, without distinction. This virtue is not only consistent with divine and human laws, but is the very cement and support of civil society; and as justice in a great measure constitutes the really good man, so should it be the invariable practice of every Mason, never to deviate from the minutest principles thereof. * * * * *
The illustration of these virtues is accompanied with some general observations peculiar to Masons Due veneration is also paid to our ancient patrons.
The earth is that alone of all the elements that has never proved unfriendly to man; the bodies of water deluge him with rain; oppress him with hail, and drown him with inundations. The air rushes in storms, prepares the tempest, and lights up the volcano; but the earth, ever kind and indulgent, is found subservient to his wishes; though constantly harassed, more to furnish the luxuries than the necessities of life, she never refuses her accustomned yield; spreading his path with flowers, and his table with plenty; though she produces poison, still she supplies the antidote, and returns, with interest, every good committed to her care; and when at last he is called upon to pass through the "dark valley of the shadow of Death," she once more receives him, and piously covers his remains within her bosom; this admonishes us that from it we came and to it we must shortly return.
Such is the arrangement of the different sections in the first lecture, which, with the forms adopted at the opening and closing of a Lodge, comprehends the first degree of Masonry.
BROTHER: - As you are now introduced into the first principles of Masonry, I congratulate you on being accepted into this ancient and honorable order: - ancient, as having subsisted from time immemorial, and honorable, as tending in every particular, so to render all men who will be conformable to its precepts. No institution was ever raised on a better principle, or more solid foundation; nor were ever more excellent rules and useful maxims laid down, than are inculcated in the several Masonic lectures. The greatest and best of men, in all ages, have been encouragers and promoters of the art; and have never deemed it derogatory to their dignity, to level themselves with the fraternity, extend their privileges, and patronize their assemblies. There are three great duties, which, as a Mason, you are charged to inculcate - to GOD, your neighbor, and yourself. To GOD, in never mentioning his name, but with that reverential awe which is due from a creature to his CREATOR; to implore his aid in all your laudable undertakings, and to esteem him as the chief good; - to your neighbor, in acting upon the square, and doing unto him as you wish he should do unto you; and to yourself, in avoiding all irregularity and intemperance, which may impair your faculties, or debase the dignity of your profession. A zealous attachment to these duties, will insure public and private esteem.
In the state, you are to be a quiet and peaceful citizen, true to your government, and just to your country; you are not to countenance disloyalty or rebellion, but patiently submit to legal authority, and conform with cheerfulness to the government of the country in which you live. In your outward demeanor, be particularly careful to avoid censure and reproach.
Although your frequent appearance at our regular meetings is earnestly solicited, yet it is not meant that masonry should interfere with your necessary vocations; for these are on no account to be neglected; neither are you to suffer your zeal for the institution to lead you into argument with those who, through ignorance, may ridicule it.
At your leisure hours, that you may improve in masonic knowledge, you are to converse with well informed brethren, who will be always as ready to give, as you will be to receive, instruction.
Finally, keep sacred and inviolable the mysteries of the order; as these are to distinguish you from the rest of the community, and mark your consequence among masons. If, in the circle of your acquaintance, you find a person desirous of being initiated into masonry, be particularly careful not to recommend him, unless you are convinced he will conform to our rules; that the honor, glory and reputation of the institution, may be firmly established, and the world at large convinced of its good effects.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014