WM – My brother, you have now passed through all the forms and ceremonies of your initiation, many of which may have appeared to you light and trifling, and such as, might have been omitted. I assure you they are not, but are such as have been adopted and practiced in all regular and well-governed lodges from time immemorial, and for reasons which I will now explain.
You were first prepared to be made a Mason in your heart. You were next prepared in a room adjacent to a regularly constituted Lodge of Masons.
You were divested of all metal for two reasons; first, that you might carry nothing offensive or defensive into the Lodge; second, at the building of King Solomon’s Temple, there was not heard the sound of an axe, hammer or any tool of iron. The stone were all hewn, squared and numbered at the quarry were they were raised. The timber felled and prepared in the forest of Lebanon, conveyed by sea in floats to Joppa, thence by land to Jerusalem, where they were set up with wooden mauls prepared for that purpose, and when the building was completed, its several parts fitted with such exact nicety, that it had more the appearance of the handiwork of the Supreme Architect of the Universe than of human hands.
You were neither naked nor clothed, because Masonry regards no man for his worldly wealth or possessions. It was therefore to signify that it was the internal, and not the external qualifications of a man that should recommend him to be made a Mason.
You were neither barefoot nor shod. This was in conformity to an ancient Israelitish custom. We read in the book of Ruth that it was the manner in former time, concerning redeeming and changing, that to confirm all things, a man plucked off his shoe and gave it to his neighbor, and this was a testimony in Israel. This, therefore, was done to testify to the sincerity of your intentions, in the business in which you were then about to engage.
You were hoodwinked, with a cable-tow around your neck for three reasons. First, as you were then in darkness, so should you keep the whole world respecting the secrets of Freemasonry until they should obtain them as lawfully as you were then about to do. Second, that your heart might be taught to conceive, before your eyes beheld the beauties of Masonry. Third, had you refused to submit to the forms and ceremonies of your initiation, or been found unworthy to be taken by the hand as a brother, you might, by the help of the cable-tow, have been led out of the Lodge, without being able to discover even the form thereof.
You were caused to give three distinct knocks upon the door, to alarm the Lodge and inform the Worshipful Master that you were prepared for initiation, and this alludes to a certain text in scripture: “ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” This applied to your then situation in that you asked the recommendation of a friend to be made a Mason, through his recommendation, you sought initiation, you knocked at the door of the Lodge, and it was opened unto you.
You were received on the point of a sharp instrument piercing your naked left breast, for reasons then explained.
You were conducted to the center of the Lodge, caused to kneel, and attend prayer, because no man should ever engage in any great or important undertaking without first invoking the blessing of Deity.
You were asked in whom you put your trust, because according to Masonic usage, no atheist can be made a Mason. You were therefore required to profess a belief in Deity, otherwise no obligation would have been considered binding upon you.
You were taken by the right hand, ordered to arise, follow your conductor, and fear no danger, to signify at a time when you could neither foresee or avoid danger, you were in the hands of a true and trusty friend, in whose fidelity you could with safety confide.
You were conducted once around the Lodge, that all the brethren might see that you were duly and truly prepared.
You were caused to meet with the several obstructions on your passage around the Lodge, because there were guards placed at the South, West and East gates of the court of King Solomon’s Temple, to see that none passed or repassed except such as were duly qualified and had permission. It was, therefore necessary that you should meet with these several obstructions that you might be duly examined before being made a Mason.
You were caused to kneel at the Altar on your naked left knee, because the left is said to be the weaker part of man. It was, therefore, to signify that it was the weakest part of Masonry you were then entering upon, it being that of Entered Apprentice.
You were caused to lay your right hand upon the Holy Bible, Square and Compasses, because the right hand was said by our ancient brethren to be the seat of fidelity, which we sometimes see represented by two right hands joined; at others, two human figures holding each other by the right hand. The right hand, therefore, we made use of to testify in the strongest manner possible to the sincerity of our intentions in the business in which we were then engaged.
You were presented with a lambskin or white leathern apron, because the lamb has in all ages been deemed an emblem of innocence. He, therefore, who wears the lambskin as a badge of a Mason, is thereby continually reminded of that purity of life and conduct which is essentially necessary to his gaining admission into the celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides.
You were requested to deposit something of a metallic kind to remind you of your then extremely poor and penniless situation, and that, should you ever meet a friend, more especially a brother Mason in like destitute circumstances, you should contribute as liberally to his relief as you could, without material injury to yourself.
On your return to the Lodge, you were placed in the Northeast corner because, in operative Masonry, the first stone of a building is usually laid in the Northeast corner. You were, therefore, placed there to receive your first instruction whereon to build your future moral and Masonic edifice.
This, my brother, concludes the second section of this degree and fully explains to you all the forms and ceremonies of initiation.