WM – The third section of this degree relates more particularly to the lodge. It explains its form, supports, covering, furniture, ornaments, lights and jewels, how situated, and to whom dedicated.
A lodge is composed of a constitutional number of Masons duly assembled with the Holy Bible, Square and Compasses, and a Charter or Warrant empowering them to work.
Our Ancient Brethren were accustomed to meet on a high hill or in a low vale, the better to guard against the approach of cowans and eavesdroppers either ascending or descending.
Form of a Lodge
The form of a lodge is an oblong square, extending from east to west and between north and south, from the center to the surface, and from the earth to the highest heavens. It is said to be thus extensive to denote the universality of Masonry, and that Masonic Charity should be equally extensive.
It is supported by three great pillars, denominated Wisdom, Strength and Beauty; because it is necessary that there should be wisdom to contrive, strength to support, and beauty to adorn all great and important undertakings.
These pillars are represented by the three principal officers of the lodge, the Worshipful Master, Senior and Junior Wardens.
The Worshipful Master represents the pillar of wisdom, it being supposed that he has the wisdom to open and govern his Lodge, set the craft at work, and give them proper instruction.
The Senior Warden represents the pillar of strength, it being his duty to assist the Worshipful Master in opening and closing his Lodge, pay the craft their wages if any be due, and see that none go away dissatisfied, harmony being the strength and support of all institutions, more especially of ours.
The Junior Warden represents the pillar of beauty, it being his duty in ancient times to observe the sun at meridian height, which is the beauty and glory of the day.
The covering of a lodge is the clouded canopy or starry-decked heaven, where all good Masons hope at last to arrive by the aid of that mysterious ladder which Jacob in his vision saw extending from earth to Heaven, the three principal rounds of which are denominated Faith, Hope and Charity, and admonish us to have Faith in God, Hope in immortality, and Charity to all mankind.
The greatest of these is Charity; for our Faith will be lost in sight, Hope ends in fruition, but Charity extends beyond the grave, through the boundless realms of eternity.
The furniture of a lodge is the Holy Bible, Square and Compasses. The Bible is dedicated to God, the Square to the Master and the Compasses to the Craft.
The Bible is dedicated to God, it being the inestimable gift of God to man, and on which we obligate a newly made brother.
The Square to the Master, it being the proper emblem of his office, and should continually remind him of the duty he owes to the lodge over which he is elected to preside.
And the Compasses to the Craft, for by a due attention to their use, they are taught to circumscribe their desires and keep their passions within due bounds with all mankind.
The ornaments of a lodge are the Mosaic Pavement, the Indented Tessel, and the Blazing Star.
The Mosaic Pavement is a representation of the ground floor of King Solomon’s Temple; the Indented Tessel, of that beautiful tessellated border or skirting which surrounded it.
The Mosaic Pavement is emblematic of human life, checkered with good and evil; the beautiful border which surrounds it, of those blessings and comforts which surround us, and which we hope to obtain by a faithful reliance on Divine Providence which is hieroglyphically represented by the Blazing Star in the center.
A lodge has three lights, situated east, west and south-none in the north. None in the north because of the situation of King Solomon’s Temple, that having been situated so far North of the ecliptic, that neither the sun or moon at meridian height could dart no ray of light in at the North part of it. The North is, therefore, Masonically termed a place of darkness.
A lodge has six Jewels – three immovable and three movable.
The immovable Jewels are the Square, Level, and Plumb. The Square teaches morality, the Level equality, and the Plumb rectitude of conduct.
The movable Jewels are the Rough Ashlar, the Perfect Ashlar, and the Trestleboard.
The Rough Ashlar is a stone taken from the quarry in its rude and natural state. The Perfect Ashlar is a stone made ready by the hands of the workman to be adjusted by the working tools of the Fellowcraft. The Trestleboard is for the master workman to draw his designs upon.
By the Rough Ashlar we are reminded of our rude and imperfect state by nature. By the Perfect Ashlar, of that state of perfection at which we hope to arrive by a virtuous education, or own endeavors and the blessing of God. And by the Trestleboard we are also reminded that as the operative workman erects his temporal building agreeably to the rules and designs laid down by the master on his Trestleboard, so should we, both operative and speculative, endeavor to erect our spiritual building agreeably to the rules and designs laid down by the Supreme Architect of the Universe in the Great Book of nature and Revelation, which is our spiritual, moral and Masonic Trestleboard.
Lodges – How Situated
All lodges are, or ought to be, situated due east and west, because King Solomon’s Temple was so situated. King Solomon’s Temple was so situated because, after Moses had safely conducted the Children of Israel through the Red Sea, when pursued by Pharaoh and his hosts, he, by Divine command, erected a tabernacle and situated it due east and west to perpetuate the remembrance of that remarkable east wind which wrought their mighty deliverance, and likewise the better to receive the rays of the rising sun. As this tabernacle was a model for King Solomon’s Temple, so ought all lodges to be situated due east and west.
Lodges were anciently dedicated to King Solomon, who was said to have been our first Most Excellent Grand Master. But Masons in modern times dedicate theirs to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, who were said to be two eminent Christian patrons of Masonry; and since their time, there is, or ought to be, represented in every regular and well-governed lodge a certain Point within a Circle. The Point representing an individual brother, the Circle the boundary line of his duty, beyond which he is never to suffer his passions or prejudices to betray him. This Circle is embordered by two perpendicular parallel lines, representing St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist; upon the top rest the Holy Scriptures. In passing around this circle, we necessarily touch upon both lines, as well as upon the Holy Scriptures, and while a Mason keeps himself thus circumscribed, it is impossible that he should materially err.
The tenets of our profession are Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth.
By the exercise of Brotherly Love we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family – the high and the low, the rich and poor, who, as created by one Almighty Parent and inhabitants of the same planet, are bound 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 more particularly 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 grand 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 men and true is the first lesson 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.
Were I to ask you how I should know you to be a Mason, your answer should be: “By certain signs, a token, a word, and the points of my entrance.” The signs, token, and word have already been explained to you at the Altar; it now remains for me to explain to you the points of your entrance, which are four: the Guttural, Pectoral, Manual and Pedal, and they allude to the four cardinal virtues: Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice.
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, if not to the symbolic penalty of your obligation, and alludes to the Guttural.
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 and cowardice, and like the former, 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 in entrusted, and which was emblematically represented upon his first admission into the lodge, when you were received on the point of a sharp instrument piercing your naked left breast, and alludes to the Pectoral.
Prudence teaches us to regulate or 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, ever remembering your solemn engagements while kneeling at the Altar, your left hand supporting the Holy Bible, Square and Compasses, your right resting thereon, and alludes to the Manual.
Justice is that standard or boundary of right which enables us to render to every man 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, ever bearing in mind the solemn charge you received while standing in the Northeast corner of the Lodge, and alludes to the Pedal.
In ancient times Entered Apprentices served their Masters with Freedom, Fervency, and Zeal, which are emblematically represented by Chalk, Charcoal, and Clay.
There is nothing freer than Chalk, the slightest touch of which leaves a trace behind.
Nothing more fervent than Charcoal, to which, when well ignited, the most obdurate metals will yield.
Nothing more zealous than Clay, or our Mother Earth, which is continually imparting for man’s necessities, and is constantly reminding us that as from it we came, so to it we must all sooner or later return.
Such is the arrangement of the different Sections of the First Lecture, which, with the forms adopted for the opening and closing of a lodge, comprehend the whole of the first degree of Masonry.
The whole is a regular system of morality, veiled in allegory, which will unfold its beauties to the candid and industrious inquirer.