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Article # 226
The Symbolism of Freemasonry-Chapters 11 to20.

Author: Brp.Dr.A.G.Mackey    Posted on: Saturday, October 7, 2006
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[ Chapters 11 to 20 of The Symbolism of Freemasonry are posted in this Article]

 

The Symbolism of Freemasonry.

  Illustrating And Explaining

Its Science and Philosophy, its Legends, Myths  and Symbols.

by  Albert G. Mackey. M.D.,
 1882- Edition.

(Chapters 11 to 20.)

      Contents.

XI.      The Speculative Science and the Operative Art.

XII.     The Symbolism of  Solomon’s Temple

XIII.         The Form of the Lodge.

XIV.         The Officers of a Lodge

XV.           The Point within a Circle

XVI.       The Covering of the Lodge

XVII.      Ritualistic Symbolism

XVIII.    The Rite of  Discalceation

XIX.         The Rite if Investiture

XX.        The Symbolism of the Gloves

 

XI.              The Speculative Science and the Operative Art.

 

And now, let us apply this doctrine of symbolism to an investigation of the nature of a speculative science, as derived from an operative art, for the fact is familiar to every one that Freemasonry is of two kinds. We work, it is true, in speculative Masonry only, but our ancient brethren wrought in both operative and speculative and it is now well understood that the two branches are widely apart in design and in character, the one a mere useful art, intended for the protection and convenience of man and the gratification of his physical wants, the other a profound science, entering into abstruse investigations of the soul and a future existence  and originating in the craving need of humanity to know something that is above and beyond the mere outward life that surrounds us with its gross atmosphere here below.

["By speculative Masonry we learn to subdue our passions, to act upon the square, to keep a tongue of good report, to maintain secrecy  and practise charity."—Lect. of Fel. Craft. But this is a very meagre definition, unworthy of the place it occupies in the lecture of the second degree.]

Indeed, the only bond or link that unites speculative and operative Masonry is the symbolism that belongs altogether to the former, but which, throughout its whole extent, is derived from the latter.

Our first inquiry, then, will be into the nature of the symbolism which operative gives to speculative Masonry and thoroughly to understand this, to know its origin  and its necessity and its mode of application, we must begin with a reference to the condition of a long past period of time.

Thousands of years ago, this science of symbolism was adopted by the sagacious priesthood of Egypt to convey the lessons of worldly wisdom and religious knowledge, which they thus communicated to their disciples.

 ["Animal worship among the Egyptians was the natural and unavoidable consequence of the misconception, by the vulgar, of those emblematical figures invented by the priests to record their own philosophical conception of absurd ideas. As the pictures and effigies suspended in early Christian churches, to commemorate a person or an event, became in time objects of worship to the vulgar, so, in Egypt, the esoteric or spiritual meaning of the emblems was lost in the gross materialism of the beholder. This esoteric and allegorical meaning was, however, preserved by the priests, and communicated in the mysteries alone to the initiated, while the uninstructed retained only the grosser conception."—GLIDDON, Otia Aegyptiaca, p. 94].

Their science, their history  and their philosophy were thus concealed beneath an impenetrable veil from all the profane  and only the few who had passed through the severe ordeal of initiation were put in possession of the key which enabled them to decipher and read with ease those mystic lessons which we still see engraved upon the obelisks, the tombs  and the sarcophagi, which lie scattered, at this day, in endless profusion along the banks of the Nile.

From the Egyptians the same method of symbolic instruction was diffused among all the pagan nations of antiquity and was used in all the ancient Mysteries, as the medium of communicating to the initiated the esoteric and secret doctrines for whose preservation and promulgation these singular associations were formed.

["To perpetuate the esoteric signification of these symbols to the initiated, there were established the Mysteries, of which institution we have still a trace in Freemasonry."—GLIDDON, Otia Aegyp. p. 95.]

Moses, who, as Holy Writ informs us, was skilled in all the learning of Egypt, brought with him, from that cradle of the sciences, a perfect knowledge of the science of symbolism, as it was taught by the priests of Isis and Osiris and applied it to the ceremonies with which he invested the purer religion of the people for whom he had been appointed to legislate.

 [Philo Judaeus says, that "Moses had been initiated by the Egyptians into the philosophy of symbols and hieroglyphics, as well as into the ritual of the holy animals." And Hengstenberg, in his learned work on "Egypt and the Books of Moses," conclusively shows, by numerous examples, how direct were the Egyptian references of the Pentateuch; in which fact, indeed, he recognizes "one of the most powerful arguments for its credibility and for its composition by Moses."—HENGSTENBERG, p. 239, Robbins's trans.]

Hence we learn, from the great Jewish historian, that, in the construction of the tabernacle, which gave the first model for the temple at Jerusalem  and afterwards for every masonic lodge, this principle of symbolism was applied to every part of it. Thus it was divided into three parts, to represent the three great elementary divisions of the universe, the land, the sea  and the air. The first two, or exterior portions, which were accessible to the priests and the people, were symbolic of the land and the sea, which all men might inhabit, while the third, or interior division, the holy of holies, whose threshold no mortal dared to cross  and which was peculiarly consecrated to GOD, was emblematic of heaven, his dwelling-place. The veils, too, according to Josephus, were intended for symbolic instruction in their color and their materials. Collectively, they represented the four elements of the universe and, in passing, it may be observed that this notion of symbolizing the universe characterized all the ancient systems, both the true and the false  and that the remains of the principle are to be found everywhere, even at this day, pervading Masonry, which is but a development of these systems. In the four veils of the tabernacle, the white or fine linen signified the earth, from which flax was produced, the scarlet signified fire, appropriately represented by its flaming color, the purple typified the sea, in allusion to the shell-fish murex, from which the tint was obtained  and the blue, the color of the firmament, was emblematic of air. [Josephus, Antiq. book iii. ch. 7.]

It is not necessary to enter into a detail of the whole system of religious symbolism, as developed in the Mosaic ritual. It was but an application of the same principles of instruction, that pervaded all the surrounding Gentile nations, to the inculcation of truth. The very idea of the ark itself

[The ark, or sacred boat, of the Egyptians frequently occurs on the walls of the temples. It was carried in great pomp by the priests on the occasion of the "procession of the shrines," by means of staves passed through metal rings in its side. It was thus conducted into the temple, and deposited on a stand. The representations we have of it bear a striking resemblance to the Jewish ark, of which it is now admitted to have been the prototype.]

was borrowed, as the discoveries of the modern Egyptologists have shown us, from the banks of the Nile  and the breastplate of the high priest, with its Urim and Thummim, was indebted for its origin to a similar ornament worn by the Egyptian judge. The system was the same, in its application, only, did it differ.[ "The Egyptian reference in the Urim and Thummim is especially distinct and incontrovertible."—HENGSTENBERG, p. 158.]

With the tabernacle of Moses the temple of King Solomon is closely connected, the one was the archetype of the other. Now, it is at the building of that temple that we must place the origin of Freemasonry in its present organization, not that the system did not exist before, but that the union of its operative and speculative character  and the mutual dependence of one upon the other, were there first established.

At the construction of this stupendous edifice, (stupendous, not in magnitude, for many a parish church has since excelled it in size )

[According to the estimate of Bishop Cumberland, it was only one hundred and nine feet in length, thirty-six in breadth, and fifty-four in height.]

but stupendous in the wealth and magnificence of its ornaments, the wise king of Israel, with all that sagacity for which he was so eminently distinguished  and aided and counselled by the Gentile experience of the King of Tyre  and that immortal architect who superintended his workmen, saw at once the excellence and beauty of this method of inculcating moral and religious truth  and gave, therefore, the impulse to that symbolic reference of material things to a spiritual sense, which has ever since distinguished the institution of which he was the founder.

If I deemed it necessary to substantiate the truth of the assertion that the mind of King Solomon was eminently symbolic in its propensities, I might easily refer to his writings, filled as they are to profusion with tropes and figures. Passing over the Book of Canticles, that great lyrical drama, whose abstruse symbolism has not yet been fully evolved or explained, notwithstanding the vast number of commentators, who have labored at the task, I might simply refer to that beautiful passage in the twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes, so familiar to every Mason as being appropriated, in the ritual, to the ceremonies of the third degree  and in which a dilapidated building is metaphorically made to represent the decays and infirmities of old age in the human body. This brief but eloquent description is itself an embodiment of much of our Masonic symbolism, both as to the mode and the subject matter.

In attempting any investigation into the symbolism of Freemasonry, the first thing that should engage our attention is the general purport of the institution and the mode in which its symbolism is developed. Let us first examine it as a whole, before we investigate its parts, just as we would first view, as critics, the general effect of a building, before we began to inquire into its architectural details.

Looking, then, in this way, at the institution, coming down to us, as it has from a remote age, having passed unaltered and unscathed through a thousand revolutions of nations and engaging, as disciples in its school of mental labor, the intellectual of all times, the first thing that must naturally arrest the attention is the singular combination that it presents of an operative with a speculative organization, an art with a science, the technical terms and language of a mechanical profession with the abstruse teachings of a profound philosophy.

Here it is before us, a venerable school, discoursing of the deepest subjects of wisdom, in which sages might alone find themselves appropriately employed and yet having its birth and deriving its first life from a society of artisans, whose only object was, apparently, the construction of material edifices of stone and mortar.

The nature, then, of this operative and speculative combination, is the first problem to be solved  and  the symbolism which depends upon it is the first feature of the institution which is to be developed.

Freemasonry, in its character as an operative art, is familiar to every one. As such, it is engaged in the application of the rules and principles of architecture to the construction of edifices for private and public use, houses for the dwelling, places of man  and temples for the worship of Deity. It abounds, like every other art, in the use of technical terms and employs, in practice, an abundance of implements and materials which are peculiar to itself.

Now, if the ends of operative Masonry had here ceased, if this technical dialect and these technical implements had never been used for any other purpose, nor appropriated to any other object, than that of enabling its disciples to pursue their artistic labors with greater convenience to themselves, Freemasonry would never have existed. The same principles might and in all probability would, have been developed in some other way, but the organization, the name, the mode of instruction, would all have most materially differed.

But the operative Masons, who founded the order, were not content with the mere material and manual part of their profession, they adjoined to it, under the wise instructions of their leaders, a correlative branch of study.

And hence, to the Freemason, this operative art has been symbolized in that intellectual deduction from it, which has been correctly called Speculative Masonry. At one time, each was an integral part of one undivided system. Not that the period ever existed when every operative mason was acquainted with, or initiated into, the speculative science. Even now, there are thousands of skilful artisans, who know as little of that as they do of the Hebrew language which was spoken by its founder. But operative Masonry was, in the inception of our history and is, in some measure, even now, the skeleton upon which was strung the living muscles  and tendons  and nerves of the speculative system. It was the block of marble, rude and unpolished it may have been, from which was sculptured the life breathing statue.

["Thus did our wise Grand Master contrive a plan, by mechanical and practical allusions, to instruct the craftsmen in principles of the most sublime speculative philosophy, tending to the glory of God, and to secure to them temporal blessings here and eternal life hereafter, as well as to unite the speculative and operative Masons, thereby forming a twofold advantage, from the principles of geometry and architecture on the one part, and the precepts of wisdom and ethics on the other."—CALCOTT, Candid Disquisition, p. 31, ed. 1769.]

Speculative Masonry (which is but another name for Freemasonary in its modern acceptation) may be briefly defined as the scientific application and the religious consecration of the rules and principles, the language, the implements and materials of operative Masonry to the veneration of God, the purification of the heart and the inculcation of the dogmas of a religious philosophy.

XII. The Symbolism of Solomon's Temple.

I have said that the operative art is symbolized, that is to say, used as a symbol, in the speculative science. Let us now inquire, as the subject of the present essay, how this is done in reference to a system of symbolism dependent for its construction on types and figures derived from the temple of Solomon and which we hence call the "Temple Symbolism of Freemasonry."

Bearing in mind that speculative Masonry dates its origin from the building of King Solomon's temple by Jewish and Tyrian artisans,  the first important fact that attracts the attention is, that the operative masons at Jerusalem were engaged in the construction of an earthly and material temple, to be dedicated to the service and worship of God, a house in which Jehovah was to dwell visibly by his Shekinah  and whence he was, by the Urim and Thummim, to send forth his oracles for the government and direction of his chosen people. . [This proposition I ask to be conceded; the evidences of its truth are, however, abundant, were it necessary to produce them. The craft, generally, will, I presume, assent to it.]

Now, the operative art having, for us, ceased, we, as speculative Masons, symbolize the labors of our predecessors by engaging in the construction of a spiritual temple in our hearts, pure and spotless, fit for the dwelling place of Him who is the author of purity, where God is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth  and whence every evil thought and unruly passion is to be banished, as the sinner and the Gentile were excluded from the sanctuary of the Jewish temple.

This spiritualizing of the temple of Solomon is the first, the most prominent and most pervading of all the symbolic instructions of Freemasonry. It is the link that binds the operative and speculative divisions of the order. It is this, which gives it its religious character. Take from Freemasonry its dependence on the temple, leave out of its ritual all reference to that sacred edifice and to the legends connected with it and the system itself must at once decay and die, or at best remain only as some fossilized bone, imperfectly to show the nature of the living body to which it once belonged.

Temple worship is in itself an ancient type of the religious sentiment in its progress towards spiritual elevation. As soon as a nation emerged, in the world's progress, out of Fetichism, or the worship of visible objects, the most degraded form of idolatry, its people began to establish a priesthood and to erect temples. The Scandinavians, the Celts, the Egyptians  and the Greeks, however much they may have differed in the ritual and the objects of their polytheistic worship, all were possessed of priests and temples. The Jews first constructed their tabernacle, or portable temple and then, when time and opportunity permitted, transferred their monotheistic worship to that more permanent edifice which is now the subject of our contemplation. The mosque of the Mohammedan and the church or the chapel of the Christian are but embodiments of the same idea of temple worship in a simpler form.

 ["The groves were God's first temples. Ere man learned
To hew the shaft, and lay the architrave,
And spread the roof above them—ere he framed
The lofty vault, to gather and roll back
The sound of anthems—in the darkling wood,
Amid the cool and silence, he knelt down,
And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks
And supplication."—BRYANT.]

The adaptation, therefore, of the material temple to a science of symbolism would be an easy and by no means a novel task, to both the Jewish and the Tyrian mind. Doubtless, at its original conception, the idea was rude and unembellished, to be perfected and polished only by future aggregations of succeeding intellects. And yet no biblical scholar will venture to deny that there was, in the mode of building and in all the circumstances connected with the construction of King Solomon's temple, an apparent design to establish a foundation for symbolism.

[Theologians have always given a spiritual application to the temple of Solomon, referring it to the mysteries of the Christian dispensation. For this, consult all the biblical commentators. But I may particularly mention, on this subject, Bunyan's "Solomon's Temple Spiritualized," and a rare work in folio, by Samuel Lee, Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, published at London in 1659, and entitled "Orbis Miraculum, or the Temple of Solomon portrayed by Scripture Light." A copy of this scarce work, which treats very learnedly of "the spiritual mysteries of the gospel veiled under the temple," I have lately been, by good fortune, enabled to add to my library.]

I propose now to illustrate, by a few examples, the method in which the speculative Masons have appropriated this design of King Solomon to their own use.

To construct his earthly temple, the operative mason followed the architectural designs laid down on the trestle board, or tracing-board, or book of plans of the architect. By these he hewed and squared his materials, by these he raised his walls, by these he constructed his arches and by these strength and durability, combined with grace and beauty, were bestowed upon the edifice which he was constructing.

The trestle board becomes, therefore, one of our elementary symbols. For in the Masonic ritual the speculative Mason is reminded that, as the operative artist erects his temporal building, in accordance with the rules and designs laid down on the trestle board of the master workman, so should he erect that spiritual building, of which the material is a type, in obedience to the rules and designs, the precepts and commands, laid down by the Grand Architect of the Universe, in those great books of nature and revelation, which constitute the spiritual trestle board of every Freemason.

The trestle board is, then, the symbol of the natural and moral law. Like every other symbol of the order, it is universal and tolerant in its application and while, as Christian Masons, we cling with unfaltering integrity to that explanation which makes the Scriptures of both dispensations our trestle board, we permit our Jewish and Mohammedan brethren to content themselves with the books of the Old Testament, or the Koran. Masonry does not interfere with the peculiar form or development of any one's religious faith. All that it asks is, that the interpretation of the symbol shall be according to what each one supposes to be the revealed will of his Creator. But so rigidly exacting is it that the symbol shall be preserved  and, in some rational way, interpreted, that it peremptorily excludes the Atheist from its communion, because, believing in no Supreme Being, no divine Architect, he must necessarily be without a spiritual trestle board on which the designs of that Being may be inscribed for his direction.

But the operative mason required materials wherewith to construct his temple. There was, for instance, the rough ashlar, the stone in its rude and natural state, unformed and unpolished, as it had been lying in the quarries of Tyre from the foundation of the earth. This stone was to be hewed and squared, to be fitted and adjusted, by simple, but appropriate implements, until it became a perfect ashlar, or well finished stone, ready to take its destined place in the building.

Here then again, in these materials do we find other elementary symbols. The rough and unpolished stone is a symbol of man's natural state, ignorant, uncultivated and as the Roman historian expresses it, "grovelling to the earth, like the beasts of the field  and obedient to every sordid appetite,"  [Veluti pecora, quae natura finxit prona et obedientia ventri.—SALLUST, Bell. Catil. i.],  but when education has exerted its salutary influences in expanding his intellect, in restraining his hitherto unruly passions  and purifying his life, he is then represented by the perfect ashlar, or finished stone, which, under the skilful hands of the workman, has been smoothed  and squared  and fitted for its appropriate place in the building.

Here an interesting circumstance in the history of the preparation of these materials has been seized and beautifully appropriated by our symbolic science. We learn from the account of the temple, contained in the First Book of Kings, that "The house, when it was in building, was built of stone, made ready before it was brought thither, so that there was neither hammer nor axe, nor any tool of iron, heard in the house, while it was in building." 

 [I Kings vi. 7.]

Now, this mode of construction, undoubtedly adopted to avoid confusion and discord among so many thousand workmen, has been selected as an elementary symbol of concord and harmony, virtues which are not more essential to the preservation and perpetuity of our own society than they are to that of every human association. [In further illustration of the wisdom of these temple contrivances, it may be mentioned that, by marks placed upon the materials which had been thus prepared at a distance, the individual production of every craftsman was easily ascertained, and the means were provided of rewarding merit and punishing indolence.]

The perfect ashlar, therefore, the stone thus fitted for its appropriate position in the temple, becomes not only a symbol of human perfection (in itself, of course, only a comparative term), but also, when we refer to the mode in which it was prepared, of that species of perfection which results from the concord and union of men in society. It is, in fact, a symbol of the social character of the institution.

There are other elementary symbols, to which I may hereafter have occasion to revert, the three, however, already described, the rough ashlar, the perfect ashlar  and the trestle-board and which, from their importance, have received the name of "jewels," will be sufficient to give some idea of the nature of what may be called the "symbolic alphabet" of Masonry. Let us now proceed to a brief consideration of the method in which this alphabet of the science is applied to the more elevated and abstruse portions of the system and which, as the temple constitutes its most important type, I have chosen to call the "Temple Symbolism of Masonry."

Both Scripture and tradition inform us that, at the building of King Solomon's temple, the masons were divided into different classes, each engaged in different tasks. We learn, from the Second Book of Chronicles, that these classes were the bearers of burdens, the hewers of stones  and the overseers, called by the old masonic writers the Ish sabal, the Ish chotzeb  and the Menatzchim. Now, without pretending to say that the modern institution has preserved precisely the same system of regulations as that which was observed at the temple, we shall certainly find a similarity in these divisions to the Apprentices, Fellow Crafts and Master Masons of our own day. At all events, the three divisions made by King Solomon, in the workmen at Jerusalem, have been adopted as the types of the three degrees now practised in speculative Masonry  and as such we are, therefore, to consider them. The mode in which these three divisions of workmen labored in constructing the temple, has been beautifully symbolized in speculative Masonry  and constitutes an important and interesting part of temple symbolism.

Thus we know, from our own experience among modern workmen, who still pursue the same method, as well as from the traditions of the order, that the implements used in the quarries were few and simple, the work there requiring necessarily, indeed, but two tools, namely, the twenty-four inch gauge, or two foot rule and the common gavel, or stone-cutter's hammer. With the former implement, the operative mason took the necessary dimensions of the stone he was about to prepare and with the latter, by repeated blows, skilfully applied, he broke off every unnecessary protuberance  and rendered it smooth and square  and fit to take its place in the building.

And thus, in the first degree of speculative Masonry, the Entered Apprentice receives these simple implements, as the emblematic working tools of his profession, with their appropriate symbolical instruction. To the operative mason their mechanical and practical use alone is signified  and nothing more of value does their presence convey to his mind. To the speculative Mason the sight of them is suggestive of far nobler and sublimer thoughts, they teach him to measure, not stones, but time, not to smooth and polish the marble for the builder's use, but to purify and cleanse his heart from every vice and imperfection that would render it unfit for a place in the spiritual temple of his body.

In the symbolic alphabet of Freemasonry, therefore, the twenty-four inch gauge is a symbol of time well employed, the common gavel, of the purification of the heart.

Here we may pause for a moment to refer to one of the coincidences between Freemasonry and those Mysteries,  which formed so important a part of the ancient religions and which coincidences have led the writers on this subject to the formation of a well supported theory that there was a common connection between them. The coincidence to which I at present allude is this, in all these Mysteries, the incipient ceremony of initiation, the first step taken by the candidate was a lustration or purification. The aspirant was not permitted to enter the sacred vestibule, or take any part in the secret formula of initiation, until, by water or by fire, he was emblematically purified from the corruptions of the world which he was about to leave behind. I need not, after this, do more than suggest the similarity of this formula, in principle, to a corresponding one in Freemasonry, where the first symbols presented to the apprentice are those which inculcate a purification of the heart, of which the purification of the body in the ancient Mysteries was symbolic.

["Each of the pagan gods had (besides the public and open) a secret worship paid unto him; to which none were admitted but those who had been selected by preparatory ceremonies, called Initiation. This secret-worship was termed the Mysteries."—WARBURTON, Div. Leg. I. i. p. 189]

We no longer use the bath or the fountain, because in our philosophical system, the symbolization is more abstract, if I may use the term, but we present the aspirant with the lamb-skin apron, the gauge  and the gavel, as symbols of a spiritual purification. The design is the same, but the mode in which it is accomplished is different.

Let us now resume the connected series of temple symbolism.

At the building of the temple, the stones having been thus prepared by the workmen of the lowest degree (the Apprentices, as we now call them, the aspirants of the ancient Mysteries), we are informed that they were transported to the site of the edifice on Mount Moriah and were there placed in the hands of another class of workmen, who are now technically called the Fellow Crafts  and who correspond to the Mystes, or those who had received the second degree of the ancient Mysteries. At this stage of the operative work more extensive and important labors were to be performed and accordingly a greater amount of skill and knowledge was required of those to whom these labors were intrusted. The stones, having been prepared by the Apprentices,  (for hereafter, in speaking of the workmen of the temple, I shall use the equivalent appellations of the more modern Masons), were now to be deposited in their destined places in the building  and the massive walls were to be erected. For these purposes implements of a higher and more complicated character than the gauge and gavel were necessary. The square was required to fit the joints with sufficient accuracy, the level to run the courses in a horizontal line  and the plumb to erect the whole with due regard to perfect perpendicularity. This portion of the labor finds its symbolism in the second degree of the speculative science  and in applying this symbolism we still continue to refer to the idea of erecting a spiritual temple in the heart.

[ It must be remarked, however, that many of the Fellow Crafts were also stone-cutters in the mountains, chotzeb bahor, and, with their nicer implements, more accurately adjusted the stones which had been imperfectly prepared by the apprentices. This fact does not at all affect the character of the symbolism we are describing. The due preparation of the materials, the symbol of purification, was necessarily continued in all the degrees. The task of purification never ceases]

The necessary preparations, then, having been made in the first degree, the lessons having been received by which the aspirant is taught to commence the labor of life with the purification of the heart, as a Fellow Craft he continues the task by cultivating those virtues, which give form and impression to the character, as well adapted stones give shape and stability to the building. And hence the "working tools" of the Fellow Craft are referred, in their symbolic application, to those virtues. In the alphabet of symbolism, we find the square, the level  and the plumb appropriated to this second degree. The square is a symbol denoting morality. It teaches us to apply the unerring principles of moral science to every action of our lives, to see that all the motives and results of our conduct shall coincide with the dictates of divine justice  and that all our thoughts, words  and deeds shall harmoniously conspire, like the well adjusted and rightly squared joints of an edifice, to produce a smooth, unbroken life of virtue.

The plumb is a symbol of rectitude of conduct and inculcates that integrity of life and undeviating course of moral uprightness which can alone distinguish the good and just man. As the operative workman erects his temporal building with strict observance of that plumb line, which will not permit him to deviate a hair's breadth to the right or to the left, so the speculative Mason, guided by the unerring principles of right and truth inculcated in the symbolic teachings of the same implement, is steadfast in the pursuit of truth, neither bending beneath the frowns of adversity nor yielding to the seductions of prosperity.

[ The classical reader will here be reminded of that beautiful passage of Horace, commencing with "Justum et tenacem propositi virum."—Lib. iii. od. 3.]

The level, the last of the three working tools of the operative craftsman, is a symbol of equality of station. Not that equality of civil or social position, which is to be found only in the vain dreams of the anarchist or the Utopian, but that great moral and physical equality which affects the whole human race as the children of one common Father, who causes his sun to shine and his rain to fall on all alike  and who has so appointed the universal lot of humanity, that death, the leveller of all human greatness, is made to visit with equal pace the prince's palace and the peasant's hut.

["Pallida mors aequo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas Regumque turres."—HOR. lib. i. od. 4]

Here, then, we have three more signs or hieroglyphics added to our alphabet of symbolism. Others there are in this degree, but they belong to a higher grade of interpretation and cannot be appropriately discussed in an essay on temple symbolism only.

We now reach the third degree, the Master Masons of the modern science and the Epopts, or beholders of the sacred things in the ancient Mysteries.

In the third degree the symbolic allusions to the temple of Solomon and the implements of Masonry employed in its construction, are extended and fully completed. At the building of that edifice, we have already seen that one class of the workmen was employed in the preparation of the materials, while another was engaged in placing those materials in their proper position. But there was a third and higher class, the master workmen, whose duty it was to superintend the two other classes and to see that the stones were not only duly prepared, but that the most exact accuracy had been observed in giving to them their true juxtaposition in the edifice. It was then only that the last and finishing labor  was performed  and the cement was applied by these skilful workmen, to secure the materials in their appropriate places  and to unite the building in one enduring and connected mass.

[It is worth noticing that the verb natzach, from which the title of the menatzchim (the overseers or Master Masons in the ancient temple), is derived, signifies also in Hebrew to be perfected, to be completed. The third degree is the perfection of the symbolism of the temple, and its lessons lead us to the completion of life. In like manner the Mysteries, says Christie, "were termed τελεταὶ, perfections, because they were supposed to induce a perfectness of life. Those who were purified by them were styled τελουμένοι, and τετελεσμένοι, that is, brought to perfection."—Observations on Ouvaroff's Essay on the Eleusinian Mysteries, p. 183.]

Hence, the trowel, we are informed, was the most important, though of course not the only, implement in use among the master builders. They did not permit this last, indelible operation to be performed by any hands less skilful than their own. They required that the craftsmen should prove the correctness of their work by the square, level and plumb and test, by these unerring instruments, the accuracy of their joints and when satisfied of the just arrangement of every part, the cement, which was to give an unchangeable union to the whole, was then applied by themselves.

Hence, in speculative Masonry, the trowel has been assigned to the third degree as its proper implement  and the symbolic meaning which accompanies it has a strict and beautiful reference to the purposes for which it was used in the ancient temple, for as it was there employed "to spread the cement which united the building in one common mass," so is it selected as the symbol of brotherly love—that cement whose object is to unite our mystic association in one sacred and harmonious band of brethren.

Here, then, we perceive the first, or, as I have already called it, the elementary form of our symbolism, the adaptation of the terms  and implements and processes of an operative art to a speculative science. The temple is now completed. The stones having been hewed, squared  and numbered in the quarries by the apprentices, having been properly adjusted by the craftsmen  and finally secured in their appropriate places, with the strongest and purest cement, by the master builders, the temple of King Solomon presented, in its finished condition, so noble an appearance of sublimity and grandeur as to well deserve to be selected, as it has been, for the type or symbol of that immortal temple of the body, to which Christ significantly and symbolically alluded, when he said, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up."

This idea of representing the interior and spiritual man by a material temple is so apposite in all its parts as to have occurred on more than one occasion to the first teachers of Christianity. Christ himself repeatedly alludes to it in other passages and the eloquent and figurative St. Paul beautifully extends the idea in one of his Epistles to the Corinthians, in the following language, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God  and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you?" And again, in a subsequent passage of the same Epistle, he reiterates the idea in a more positive form, "What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God  and ye are not your own?" And Dr. Adam Clarke, while commenting on this latter passage, makes the very allusion, which have been the topic of discussion in the present essay. "As truly," says he, "as the living God dwelt in the Mosaic tabernacle and in the temple of Solomon, so truly does the Holy Ghost dwell in the souls of genuine Christians and as the temple and all its utensils were holy, separated from all common and profane uses and dedicated alone to the service of God, so the bodies of genuine Christians are holy and should be employed in the service of God alone."

The idea, therefore, of making the temple a symbol of the body, is not exclusively Masonic, but the mode of treating the symbolism by a reference to the particular temple of Solomon and to the operative art engaged in its construction, is peculiar to Freemasonry. It is this, which isolates it from all other similar associations. Having many things in common with the secret societies and religious Mysteries of antiquity, in this "temple symbolism" it differs from them all.

XIII.-- The Form of the Lodge.

In the last essay, I treated of that symbolism of the Masonic system, which makes the temple of Jerusalem the archetype of a lodge and in which, in consequence, all the symbols are referred to the connection of a speculative science with an operative art. I propose in the present to discourse of a higher and abstruse mode of symbolism and it may be observed that, in coming to this topic, we arrive, for the first time, at that chain of resemblances, which unites Freemasonry with the ancient systems of religion  and which has given rise, among Masonic writers, to the names of Pure and Spurious Freemasonry, the pure Freemasonry being that system of philosophical religion which, coming through the line of the patriarchs, was eventually modified by influences exerted at the building of King Solomon's temple  and the spurious being the same system as it was altered and corrupted by the polytheism of the nations of heathendom.    [Dr. Oliver, in the first or preliminary lecture of his "Historical Landmarks," very accurately describes the difference between the pure or primitive Freemasonry of the Noachites and the spurious Freemasonry of the heathens.]

As this abstruse mode of symbolism, if less peculiar to the Masonic system, is, however, far more interesting than the one which was treated in the previous essay, because it is more philosophical, I propose to give an extended investigation of its character. And, in the first place, there is what may be called an elementary view of this abstruse symbolism, which seems almost to be a corollary from what has already been described in the preceding article. As each individual mason has been supposed to be the symbol of a spiritual temple, "a temple not made with hands, eternal in the heavens," the lodge or collected assemblage of these masons, is adopted as a symbol of the world.   

 [The idea of the world, as symbolically representing God's temple, has been thus beautifully developed in a hymn by N.P. Willis, written for the dedication of a church  :-

"The perfect world by Adam trod
Was the first temple built by God;
His fiat laid the corner stone,
And heaved its pillars, one by one.

"He hung its starry roof on high—
The broad, illimitable sky;
He spread its pavement, green and bright,
And curtained it with morning light.

"The mountains in their places stood,
The sea, the sky, and 'all was good;'
And when its first pure praises rang,
The 'morning stars together sang.'

"Lord, 'tis not ours to make the sea,
And earth, and sky, a house for thee;
But in thy sight our offering stands,
A humbler temple, made with hands."

It is in the first degree of Masonry, more particularly, that this species of symbolism is developed. In its detail it derives the characteristics of resemblance upon which it is founded, from the form, the supports, the ornaments  and general construction and internal organization of a lodge, in all of which the symbolic reference to the world is beautifully and consistently sustained.

The form of a Masonic lodge is said to be a parallelogram, or oblong square, its greatest length being from east to west, its breadth from north to south. A square, a circle, a triangle, or any other form but that of an oblong square, would be eminently incorrect and unmasonic, because such a figure would not be an expression of the symbolic idea, which is intended to be conveyed.

Now, as the world is a globe, or, to speak more accurately, an oblate spheroid, the attempt to make an oblong square its symbol would seem, at first view, to present insuperable difficulties. But the system of Masonic symbolism has stood the test of too long an experience to be easily found at fault and therefore this very symbol furnishes a striking evidence of the antiquity of the order. At the Solomonic era, the era of the building of the temple at Jerusalem, the world, it must be remembered, was supposed to have that very oblong form, ["The idea," says Dudley, "that the earth is a level surface and of a square form, is so likely to have been entertained by persons of little experience and limited observation, that it may be justly supposed to have prevailed generally in the early ages of the world."—Naology, p. 7]   which has been here symbolized. If, for instance, on a map of the world we should inscribe an oblong figure whose boundary lines would circumscribe and include just that portion which was known to be inhabited in the clays of Solomon, these lines, running a short distance north and south of the Mediterranean Sea and extending from Spain in the west to Asia Minor in the east, would form an oblong square, including the southern shore of Europe, the northern shore of Africa  and the western district of Asia, the length of the parallelogram being about sixty degrees from east to west  and its breadth being about twenty degrees from north to south. This oblong square, thus enclosing the whole of what was then supposed to be the habitable globe, would precisely represent what is symbolically said to be the form of the lodge, while the Pillars of Hercules in the west, on each side of the straits of Gades or Gibraltar, might appropriately be referred to the two pillars that stood at the porch of the temple.

[ The quadrangular form of the earth is preserved in almost all the scriptural allusions that are made to it. Thus Isaiah (xi. 12) says, "The Lord shall gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth;" and we find in the Apocalypse (xx. 9) the prophetic version of "four angels standing on the four corners of the earth."]

A Masonic lodge is, therefore, a symbol of the world. This symbol is sometimes, by a very usual figure of speech, extended, in its application and the world and the universe are made synonymous, when the lodge becomes, of course, a symbol of the universe. But in this case the definition of the symbol is extended and to the ideas of length and breadth are added those of height and depth  and the lodge is said to assume the form of a double cube.

 ["The form of the lodge ought to be a double cube, as an expressive emblem of the powers of darkness and light in the creation."—OLIVER, Landmarks, i. p. 135, note 37]

The solid contents of the earth below and the expanse of the heavens above will then give the outlines of the cube and the whole created universe will be included within the symbolic limits of a mason's lodge.[ Not that whole visible universe, in its modern signification, as including solar systems upon solar systems, rolling in illimitable space, but in the more contracted view of the ancients, where the earth formed the floor, and the sky the ceiling. "To the vulgar and untaught eye," says Dudley, "the heaven or sky above the earth appears to be co-extensive with the earth, and to take the same form, enclosing a cubical space, of which the earth was the base, the heaven or sky the upper surface."—Naology, 7.—And it is to this notion of the universe that the masonic symbol of the lodge refers]

By always remembering that the lodge is the symbol, in its form and extent, of the world, we are enabled, readily and rationally, to explain many other symbols, attached principally to the first degree  and we are enabled to collate and compare them with similar symbols of other kindred institutions of antiquity, for it should be observed that this symbolism of the world, represented by a place of initiation, widely pervaded all the ancient rites and mysteries.

It will, no doubt, be interesting to extend our investigations on this subject, with a particular view to the method in which this symbolism of the world or the universe was developed, in some of its most prominent details and for this purpose I shall select the mystical explanation of the officers of a lodge, its covering  and a portion of its ornaments.

  XIV.-- The Officers of a Lodge.

The Three Principal Officers of a lodge are, it is needless to say, situated in the east, the west and the south. Now, bearing in mind that the lodge is a symbol of the world, or the universe, the reference of these three officers to the sun at its rising, its setting and its meridian height, must at once suggest itself.

This is the first development of the symbol and a very brief inquiry will furnish ample evidence of its antiquity and its universality.

In the Brahminical initiations of Hindostan, which are among the earliest that have been transmitted to us and may almost be considered as the cradle of all the others of subsequent ages and various countries, the ceremonies were performed in vast caverns, the remains of some of which, at Salsette, Elephanta  and a few other places, will give the spectator, but a very inadequate idea of the extent and splendor of these ancient Indian lodges.

"These rocky shrines, the formation of which Mr. Grose supposes to have been a labor equal to that of erecting the Pyramids of Egypt, are of various height, extent, and depth. They are partitioned out, by the labor of the hammer and the chisel, into many separate chambers, and the roof, which in the pagoda of Elephanta is flat, but in that of Salsette is arched, is supported by rows of pillars of great thickness, and arranged with much regularity. The walls are crowded with gigantic figures of men and women, engaged in various actions, and portrayed in various whimsical attitudes; and they are adorned with several evident symbols of the religion now prevailing in India. Above, as in a sky, once probably adorned with gold and azure, in the same manner as Mr. Savary lately observed in the ruinous remains of some ancient Egyptian temples, are seen floating the children of imagination, genii and dewtahs, in multitudes, and along the cornice, in high relief, are the figures of elephants, horses, and lions, executed with great accuracy. Two of the principal figures at Salsette are twenty-seven feet in height, and of proportionate magnitude; the very bust only of the triple-headed deity in the grand pagoda of Elephanta measures fifteen feet from the base to the top of the cap, while the face of another, if Mr. Grose, who measured it, may be credited, is above five feet in length, and of corresponding breadth."—MAURICE, Ind. Ant. vol. ii. p. 135]

More imperfect remains than these are still to be found in great numbers throughout Hindostan and Cashmere. Their form was sometimes that of a cross, emblematic of the four elements of which the earth is composed,—fire, water, air  and earth,—but more generally an oval, as a representation of the mundane egg, which, in the ancient systems, was a symbol of the world.

 [According to Faber, the egg was a symbol of the world or megacosm, and also of the ark, or microcosm, as the lunette or crescent was a symbol of the Great Father, the egg and lunette—which was the hieroglyphic of the god Lunus, at Heliopolis—was a symbol of the world proceeding from the Great Father.—Pagan Idolatry, vol. i. b. i. ch. Iv]

The interior of the cavern of initiation was lighted by innumerable lamps  and there sat in the east, the west  and the south the principal Hierophants, or explainers of the Mysteries, as the representatives of Brahma, Vishnu  and Siva. Now, Brahma was the supreme deity of the Hindoos, borrowed or derived from the Sun God of their Sabean ancestors  and Vishnu and Siva were but manifestations of his attributes. We learn from the Indian Pantheon that "when the sun rises in the east, he is Brahma, when he gains his meridian in the south, he is Siva  and when he sets in the west, he is Vishnu."

Again, in the Zoroasteric mysteries of Persia, the temple of initiation was circular, being made so to represent the universe and the sun in the east, with the surrounding zodiac, formed an indispensable part of the ceremony of reception. [Zoroaster taught that the sun was the most perfect fire of God, the throne of his glory, and the residence of his divine presence, and he therefore instructed his disciples "to direct all their worship to God first towards the sun (which they called Mithras), and next towards their sacred fires, as being the things in which God chiefly dwelt; and their ordinary way of worship was to do so towards both. For when they came before these fires to worship, they always approached them on the west side, that, having their faces towards them and also towards the rising sun at the same time, they might direct their worship to both. And in this posture they always performed every act of their worship."—PRIDEAUX. Connection. i. 216.]

In the Egyptian mysteries of Osiris, the same reference to the sun is contained  and Herodotus, who was himself an initiate, intimates that the ceremonies consisted in the representation of a Sun God, who had been incarnate, that is, had appeared upon earth, or rose  and who was at length put to death by Typhon, the symbol of darkness, typical of the sun's setting.

In the great mysteries of Eleusis["The mysteries of Ceres (or Eleusis) are principally distinguished from all others as having been the depositories of certain traditions coeval with the world."—OUVAROFF, Essay on the Mysteries of Eleusis, p. 6.] which were celebrated at Athens, we learn from St. Chrysostom, as well as other authorities, that the temple of initiation was symbolic of the universe and we know that one of the officers represented the sun. [The dadouchus, or torch-bearer, carried a symbol of the sun]

In the Celtic mysteries of the Druids, the temple of initiation was either oval, to represent the mundane egg—a symbol, as has already been said, of the world, or circular, because the circle was a symbol of the universe, or cruciform, in allusion to the four elements, or constituents of the universe.

In the Island of Lewis, in Scotland, there is one combining the cruciform and circular form. There is a circle, consisting of twelve stones, while three more are placed in the east and as many in the west and south  and thirty-eight, in two parallel lines, in the north, forming an avenue to the circular temple. In the centre of the circle is the image of the god. In the initiations into these rites, the solar deity performed an important part and the celebrations commenced at daybreak, when the sun was hailed on his appearance above the horizon as "the god of victory, the king who rises in light and ascends the sky."

But I need not multiply these instances of sun-worship. Every country and religion of the ancient world would afford one. ["Indeed, the most ancient superstition of all nations," says Maurice, "has been the worship of the sun, as the lord of heaven and the governor of the world; and in particular it prevailed in Phoenicia, Chaldaea, Egypt, and from later information we may add, Peru and Mexico, represented in a variety of ways, and concealed under a multitude of fanciful names. Through all the revolutions of time the great luminary of heaven hath exacted from the generations of men the tribute of devotion."—Indian Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 91.]

Sufficient has been cited to show the complete coincidence, in reference to the sun, between the symbolism of Freemasonry and that of the ancient rites and Mysteries and to suggest for them a common origin, the sun being always in the former system, from the earliest times of  the primitive or patriarchal Masonry, considered simply as a manifestation of the Wisdom, Strength  and Beauty of the Divine Architect, visibly represented by the position of the three principal officers of a lodge, while by the latter, in their degeneration from  and corruption of the true Noachic faith, it was adopted as the special object of adoration.

XV.-- The Point Within a Circle.

The point within a Circle is another symbol of great importance in Freemasonry  and commands peculiar attention in this connection with the ancient symbolism of the universe and the solar orb. Everybody who has read a masonic "Monitor" is well acquainted with the usual explanation of this symbol. We are told that the point represents an individual brother, the circle the boundary line of his duty to God and man and the two perpendicular parallel lines the patron saints of the order—St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist.

Now, this explanation, trite and meagre as it is, may do very well for the exoteric teaching of the order, but the question at this time is, not how it has been explained by modern lecturers and Masonic system makers, but what was the ancient interpretation of the symbol  and how should it be read as a sacred hieroglyphic in reference to the true philosophic system which constitutes the real essence and character of Freemasonry?

Perfectly to understand this symbol, I must refer, as a preliminary matter, to the worship of the Phallus, a peculiar modification of sun worship, which prevailed to a great extent among the nations of antiquity.

The Phallus was a sculptured representation of the membrum virile, or male organ of generation and the worship of it is said to have originated in Egypt, where, after the murder of Osiris by Typhon, which is symbolically to be explained as the destruction or deprivation of the sun's light by night, Isis, his wife, or the symbol of nature, in the search for his mutilated body, is said to have found all the parts except the organs of generation, which myth is simply symbolic of the fact, that the sun having set, its fecundating and invigorating power had ceased. The Phallus, therefore, as the symbol of the male generative principle, was very universally venerated among the ancients [The exhibition of these images in a colossal form, before the gates of ancient temples, was common. Lucian tells us of two colossal Phalli, each one hundred and eighty feet high, which stood in the fore court of the temple at Hierapolis. Mailer, in his "Ancient Art and its Remains," mentions, on the authority of Leake, the fact that a colossal Phallus, which once stood on the top of the tomb of the Lydian king Halyattes, is now lying near the same spot; it is not an entire Phallus, but only the head of one; it is twelve feet in diameter below and nine feet over the glands. The Phallus has even been found, so universal was this worship, among the savages of America. Dr. Arthaut discovered, in the year 1790, a marble Phallic image in a cave of the island of St. Domingo.—CLAVEL, Hist. Pittoresq. des Religions, p. 9.]

and that too as a religious rite, without the slightest reference to any impure or lascivious application.   [Sonnerat (Voyage aux Indes Orient, i. p. 118) observes, that the professors of this worship were of the purest principles and most unblemished conduct, and it seems never to have entered into the heads of the Indian legislator and people that anything natural could be grossly obscene.—Sir William Jones remarks (Asiatic Researches, i. 254), that from the earliest periods the women of Asia, Greece, and Italy wore this symbol as a jewel, and Clavel tells us that a similar usage prevails at this day among the women in some of the villages of Brittany. Seely tells us that the Lingam, or Indian Phallus, is an emblem as frequently met with in Hindostan as the cross is in Catholic countries.—Wonders of Elora. p. 278.]

He is supposed, by some commentators, to be the god mentioned under the name of Baal-peor, in the Book of Numbers, [Num. xxv. 1-3. See also Psalm cvi. 28: "They joined themselves also unto Baal-peor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead." This last expression, according to Russel, has a distinct reference to the physical qualities of matter, and to the time when death, by the winter absence of the solar heat, gets, as it were, possession of the earth. Baal-peor was, he says, the sun exercising his powers of fecundity---Connection of Sacred and Profane History]

as having been worshipped by the idolatrous Moabites. Among the eastern nations of India the same symbol was prevalent, under the name of "Lingam." But the Phallus or Lingam was a representation of the male principle only. To perfect the circle of generation it is necessary to advance one step farther. Accordingly we find in the Cteis of the Greeks  and the Yoni of the Indians, a symbol of the female generative principle, of co-extensive prevalence with the Phallus. The Cteis was a circular and concave pedestal, or receptacle, on which the Phallus or column rested and from the centre of which it sprang.

The union of the Phallus and Cteis, or the Lingam and Yoni, in one compound figure, as an object of adoration, was the most usual mode of representation. This was in strict accordance with the whole system of ancient mythology, which was founded upon a worship of the prolific powers of nature. All the deities of pagan antiquity, however numerous they may be, can always be reduced to the two different forms of the generative principle—the active, or male and the passive, or female. Hence the gods were always arranged in pairs, as Jupiter and Juno, Bacchus and Venus, Osiris and Isis. But the ancients went farther. Believing that the procreative and productive powers of nature might be conceived to exist in the same individual, they made the older of their deities hermaphrodite  and used the term ἀῤῥενοθέλυς, or man virgin, to denote the union of the two sexes in the same divine person. [ Is there not a seeming reference to this thought of divine hermaphrodism in the well known passage of Genesis? "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him: male and female created he them." And so being created "male and female," they were "in the image of God."]

Thus, in one of the Orphic Hymns, we find this line,

"Ζεὺς ἄρσην γένετο, Ζεὺς ἄμβροτος ἔπλετο νύμφη."

Jove was created a male and an unspotted virgin.

And Plutarch, in his tract "On Isis and Osiris," says, "God, who is a male and female intelligence, being both life and light, brought forth another intelligence, the Creator of the World."

Now, this hermaphrodism of the Supreme Divinity was again supposed to be represented by the sun, which was the male generative energy and by nature, or the universe, which was the female prolific principle.

[The world being animated by man, says Creuzer, in his learned work on Symbolism, received from him the two sexes, represented by heaven and the earth. Heaven, as the fecundating principle, was male, and the source of fire; the earth, as the fecundated, was female, and the source of humidity. All things issued from the alliance of these two principles. The vivifying powers of the heavens are concentrated in the sun, and the earth, eternally fixed in the place which it occupies, receives the emanations from the sun, through the medium of the moon, which sheds upon the earth the germs which the sun had deposited in its fertile bosom. The Lingam is at once the symbol and the mystery of this religious idea.]

 And this union was symbolized in different ways, but principally by the point within the circle, the point indicating the sun  and the circle the universe, invigorated and fertilized by his generative rays. And in some of the Indian cave temples, this allusion was made more manifest by the inscription of the signs of the zodiac on the circle.

So far, then, we arrive at the true interpretation of the Masonic symbolism of the point within the circle. It is the same thing, but under a different form, as the Master and Wardens of a lodge. The Master and Wardens are symbols of the sun, the lodge of the universe, or world, just as the point is the symbol of the same sun and the surrounding circle of the universe.

But the two perpendicular parallel lines remain to be explained. Every one is familiar with the very recent interpretation, that they represent the two Saints John, the Baptist and the Evangelist. But this modern exposition must be abandoned, if we desire to obtain the true ancient signification.

In the first place, we must call to mind the fact that, at two particular points of his course, the sun is found in the zodiacal signs of Cancer and Capricorn. These points are astronomically distinguished as the summer and winter solstice. When the sun is in these points, he has reached his greatest northern and southern declination  and produces the most evident effects on the temperature of the seasons  and on the length of the days and nights. These points, if we suppose the circle to represent the sun's apparent course, will be indicated by the points where the parallel lines touch the circle, or, in other words, the parallels will indicate the limits of the sun's extreme northern and southern declination, when he arrives at the solstitial points of Cancer and Capricorn.

But the days when the sun reaches these points are, respectively, the 21st of June and the 22d of December  and this will account for their subsequent application to the two Saints John, whose anniversaries have been placed by the church near those days.

 

XVI. -- The Covering of the Lodge.

The Covering of the lodge is another and must be our last reference to this symbolism of the world or the universe. The mere mention of the fact that this covering is figuratively supposed to be "a clouded canopy," or the firmament, on which the host of stars is represented, will be enough to indicate the continued allusion to the symbolism of the world. The lodge, as a representative of the world, is of course supposed to have no other roof than the heavens

 [ Such was the opinion of some of the ancient sun worshippers, whose adorations were always performed in the open air, because they thought no temple was spacious enough to contain the sun and hence the saying, "Mundus universus est templum solis"—the universe is the temple of the sun. Like our ancient brethren, they worshipped only on the highest hills. Another analogy.]

and it would scarcely be necessary to enter into any discussion on the subject, were it not that another symbol—the theological ladder—is so intimately connected with it, that the one naturally suggests the other. Now, this mystic ladder, which connects the ground floor of the lodge with its roof or covering, is another important and interesting link, which binds, with one common chain, the symbolism and ceremonies of Freemasonry and the symbolism and rites of the ancient initiations.

This mystical ladder, which in Masonry is referred to "the theological ladder, which Jacob in his vision saw, reaching from earth to heaven," was widely dispersed among the religions of antiquity, where it was always supposed to consist of seven rounds or steps.

For instance, in the Mysteries of Mithras, in Persia, where there were seven stages or degrees of initiation, there was erected in the temples, or rather caves,—for it was in them that the initiation was conducted,—a high ladder, of seven steps or gates, each of which was dedicated to one of the planets, which was typified by one of the metals, the topmost step representing the sun, so that, beginning at the bottom, we have Saturn represented by lead, Venus by tin, Jupiter by brass, Mercury by iron, Mars by a mixed metal, the Moon by silver  and the Sun by gold, the whole being a symbol of the sidereal progress of the solar orb through the universe.

In the Mysteries of Brahma we find the same reference to the ladder of seven steps, but here the names were different, although there was the same allusion to the symbol of the universe. The seven steps were emblematical of the seven worlds, which constituted the Indian universe. The lowest was the Earth, the second, the World of Reexistence, the third, Heaven, the fourth, the Middle World, or intermediate region between the lower and upper worlds, the fifth, the World of Births, in which souls are again born, the sixth, the Mansion of the Blessed and the seventh, or topmost round, the Sphere of Truth, the abode of Brahma, he himself being, but a symbol of the sun  and hence we arrive once more at the Masonic symbolism of the universe and the solar orb.

Dr. Oliver thinks that in the Scandinavian Mysteries, he has found the mystic ladder in the sacred tree Ydrasil, but here the reference to the septenary division is so imperfect, or at least abstruse, that I am unwilling to press it into our catalogue of coincidences, although there is no doubt that we shall find in this sacred tree the same allusion as in the ladder of Jacob, to an ascent from earth, where its roots were planted, to heaven, where its branches expanded, which ascent being but a change from mortality to immortality, from time to eternity, was the doctrine taught in all the initiations. The ascent of the ladder or of the tree was the ascent from life here to life hereafter, from earth to heaven.

 [Asgard, the abode of the gods, is shaded by the ash tree, Ydrasil, where the gods assemble every day to do justice. The branches of this tree extend themselves over the whole world, and reach above the heavens. It hath three roots, extremely distant from each other: one of them is among the gods; the second is among the giants, where the abyss formerly was; the third covers Niflheim, or hell, and under this root is the fountain Vergelmer, whence flow the infernal rivers.—Edda, Fab. 8.]

It is unnecessary to carry these parallelisms any farther. Any one can, however, see in them an undoubted reference to that septenary division, which so universally prevailed throughout the ancient world  and the influence of which is still felt even in the common day life and observances of our time. Seven was, among the Hebrews, their perfect number and hence we see it continually recurring in all their sacred rites. The creation was perfected in seven days, seven priests, with seven trumpets, encompassed the walls of Jericho for seven days, Noah received seven days' notice of the commencement of the deluge  and seven persons accompanied him into the ark, which rested on Mount Ararat on the seventh month, Solomon was seven years in building the temple: and there are hundreds of other instances of the prominence of this talismanic number, if there were either time or necessity to cite them.

Among the Gentiles the same number was equally sacred. Pythagoras called it a "venerable number." The septenary division of time into weeks of seven days, although not universal, as has been generally supposed, was sufficiently so to indicate the influence of the number. And it is remarkable, as perhaps in some way referring to the seven-stepped ladder which we have been considering, that in the ancient Mysteries, as Apuleius informs us, the candidate was seven times washed in the consecrated waters of ablution.

There is, then, an anomaly in giving to the mystical ladder of Masonry only three rounds. It is an anomaly, however, with which Masonry has had nothing to do. The error arose from the ignorance of those inventors who first engraved the Masonic symbols for our monitors. The ladder of Masonry, like the equipollent ladders of its kindred institutions, always had seven steps, although in modern times the three principal or upper ones are alone alluded to. These rounds, beginning at the lowest, are Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, Justice, Faith, Hope  and Charity. Charity, therefore, takes the same place in the ladder of Masonic virtues as the sun does in the ladder of planets. In the ladder of metals we find gold  and in that of colors yellow, occupying the same elevated position. Now, St. Paul explains Charity as signifying, not alms giving, which is the modern popular meaning, but love, that love which "suffereth long and is kind," and when, in our lectures on this subject, we speak of it as the greatest of virtues, because, when Faith is lost and Hope has ceased, it extends "beyond the grave to realms of endless bliss," we there refer it to the Divine Love of our Creator. But Portal, in his Essay on Symbolic Colors, informs us that the sun represents Divine Love  and gold indicates the goodness of God.

So that if Charity is equivalent to Divine Love  and Divine Love is represented by the sun  and lastly, if Charity be the topmost round of the Masonic ladder, then again we arrive, as the result of our researches, at the symbol so often already repeated of the solar orb. The natural sun or the spiritual sun, the sun, either as the vivifying principle of animated nature  and therefore the special object of adoration, or as the most prominent instrument of the Creator's benevolence, was ever a leading idea in the symbolism of antiquity.

Its prevalence, therefore, in the Masonic institution, is a pregnant evidence of the close analogy existing between it and all these systems. How that analogy was first introduced  and how it is to be explained, without detriment to the purity and truthfulness of our own religious character, would involve a long inquiry into the origin of Freemasonry  and the history of its connection with the ancient systems.

These researches might have been extended still farther, enough, however, has been said to establish the following leading principles:—

1. That Freemasonry is, strictly speaking, a science of symbolism.

2. That in this symbolism it bears a striking analogy to the same science, as seen in the mystic rites of the ancient religions.

3. That as in these ancient religions the universe was symbolized to the candidate and the sun, as its vivifying principle, made the object of his adoration, or at least of his veneration, so, in Masonry, the lodge is made the representative of the world or the universe  and the sun is presented as its most prominent symbol.

4. That this identity of symbolism proves an identity of origin, which identity of origin can be shown to be strictly compatible with the true religious sentiment of Masonry.

5. And fifthly and lastly, that the whole symbolism of Freemasonry has an exclusive reference to what the Kabalists have called the ALGABIL, the Master Builder, him whom Freemasons have designated as the Grand Architect of the Universe.

 

XVII -- Ritualistic Symbolism.

We have hitherto been engaged in the consideration of these simple symbols, which appear to express one single and independent idea. They have sometimes been called the "alphabet of Freemasonry," but improperly, I think, since the letters of the alphabet have, in themselves, unlike these Masonic symbols, no significance, but are simply the component parts of words, themselves the representatives of ideas.

These Masonic symbols rather may be compared to the elementary characters of the Chinese language, each of which denotes an idea, or, still better, to the hieroglyphics of the ancient Egyptians, in which one object was represented in full by another, which bore some subjective relation to it, as the wind was represented by the wings of a bird, or courage by the head and shoulders of a lion. It is in the same way that in Masonry the plumb represents rectitude, the level, human equality  and the trowel, concord or harmony. Each is, in itself, independent, each expresses a single elementary idea.

But we now arrive at a higher division of Masonic symbolism, which, passing beyond these tangible symbols, brings us to those which are of a more abstruse nature  and which, as being developed in a ceremonial form, controlled and directed by the ritual of the order, may be designated as the ritualistic symbolism of Freemasonry. It is to this higher division that I now invite attention and for the purpose of exemplifying the definition that I have given, I shall select a few of the most prominent and interesting ceremonies of the ritual.

Our first researches were into the symbolism of objects, our next will be into the symbolism of ceremonies.

In the explanations which I shall venture to give of this ritualistic symbolism, or the symbolism of ceremonies, a reference will constantly be made to what has so often already been alluded to, namely, to the analogy existing between the system of Freemasonry and the ancient rites and Mysteries and hence we will again develop the identity of their origin.

Each of the degrees of Ancient Craft Masonry contains some of these ritualistic symbols, the lessons of the whole order are, indeed, veiled in their allegoric clothing, but it is only to the most important that I can find opportunity to refer. Such, among others, are the rites of discalceation, of investiture, of circumambulation  and of intrusting. Each of these will furnish an appropriate subject for consideration.

 

XVIII --The Rite of Discalceation.

The rite of discalceation, or uncovering the feet on approaching holy ground, is derived from the Latin word discalceare, to pluck off one's shoes. The usage has the prestige of antiquity and universality in its favor.

That it not only very generally prevailed, but that its symbolic signification was well understood in the days of Moses, we learn from that passage of Exodus where the angel of the Lord, at the burning bush, exclaims to the patriarch, "Draw not nigh hither, put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground."   [Exod. iii. 5.]

Clarke  thinks it is from this command that the Eastern nations have derived the custom of performing all their acts of religious worship with bare feet. But it is much more probable that the ceremony was in use long anterior to the circumstance of the burning bush and that the Jewish lawgiver at once recognized it as a well known sign of reverence.  [Commentaries in loco.]

Bishop Patrick entertains this opinion  and thinks that the custom was derived from the ancient patriarchs and was transmitted by a general tradition to succeeding times.

 [Commentary on Exod. iii. 5.]

Abundant evidence might be furnished from ancient authors of the existence of the custom among all nations, both Jewish and Gentile. A few of them, principally collected by Dr. Mede, must be curious and interesting. The direction of Pythagoras to his disciples was in these words: "Ανυπόδητος θύε ϗαι πρόσϗυνει," that is, Offer sacrifice and worship with thy shoes off. [Iamblichi Vita Pythag. c. 105. In another place he says, "Θύειν χρὴ ἀνυπόδετον, ϗαι πρὸς τα ἱερὰ προστιέναι,"—We must sacrifice and enter temples with the shoes off. Ibid. c. 85.]

Justin Martyr says that those who came to worship in the sanctuaries and temples of the Gentiles were commanded by their priests to put off their shoes.

Drusius, in his Notes on the Book of Joshua, says that among most of the Eastern nations it was a pious duty to tread the pavement of the temple with unshod feet. ["Quod etiam nunc apud plerasque Orientis nationes piaculum sit, calceato pede templorum pavimenta calcasse."]

Maimonides, the great expounder of the Jewish law, asserts that "it was not lawful for a man to come into the mountain of God's house with his shoes on his feet, or with his staff, or in his working garments, or with dust on his feet.” [Beth Habbechirah, cap. vii.]

Rabbi Solomon, commenting on the command in Leviticus xix. 30, "Ye shall reverence my sanctuary," makes the same remark in relation to this custom. On this subject Dr. Oliver observes, "Now, the act of going with naked feet was always considered a token of humility and reverence  and the priests, in the temple worship, always officiated with feet uncovered, although it was frequently injurious to their health.” [Histor. Landm. vol. ii. p. 481]

Mede quotes Zago Zaba, an Ethiopian bishop, who was ambassador from David, King of Abyssinia, to John III., of Portugal, as saying, "We are not permitted to enter the church, except barefooted.”  ["Non datur nobis potestas adeundi templum nisi nudibus pedibus."]

The Mohammedans, when about to perform their devotions, always leave their slippers at the door of the mosque. The Druids practised the same custom whenever they celebrated their sacred rites and the ancient Peruvians are said always to have left their shoes at the porch when they entered the magnificent temple consecrated to the worship of the sun.

Adam Clarke thinks that the custom of worshipping the Deity barefooted was so general among all nations of antiquity, that he assigns it as one of his thirteen proofs that the whole human race have been derived from one family. [Commentaries, ut supra]

A theory might be advanced as follows. The shoes, or sandals, were worn on ordinary occasions as a protection from the defilement of the ground. To continue to wear them, then, in a consecrated place, would be a tacit insinuation that the ground there was equally polluted and capable of producing defilement. But, as the very character of a holy and consecrated spot precludes the idea of any sort of defilement or impurity, the acknowledgment that such was the case was conveyed, symbolically, by divesting the feet of all that protection from pollution and uncleanness which would be necessary in unconsecrated places.

So, in modern times, we uncover the head to express the sentiment of esteem and respect. Now, in former days, when there was more violence to be apprehended than now, the casque, or helmet, afforded an ample protection from any sudden blow of an unexpected adversary. But we can fear no violence from one whom we esteem and respect  and, therefore, to deprive the head of its accustomed protection, is to give an evidence of our unlimited confidence in the person to whom the gesture is made.

The rite of discalceation is, therefore, a symbol of reverence. It signifies, in the language of symbolism, that the spot which is about to be approached in this humble and reverential manner is consecrated to some holy purpose.

Now, as to all that has been said, the intelligent mason will at once see its application to the third degree. Of all the degrees of Masonry, this is by far the most important and sublime. The solemn lessons, which it teaches, the sacred scene, which it represents and the impressive ceremonies with which it is conducted, are all calculated to inspire the mind with feelings of awe and reverence. Into the holy of holies of the temple, when the ark of the covenant had been deposited in its appropriate place and the Shekinah was hovering over it, the high priest alone and on one day only in the whole year, was permitted, after the most careful purification, to enter with bare feet  and to pronounce, with fearful veneration, the tetragrammaton or omnific word.

And into the Master Mason's lodge, this holy of holies of the Masonic temple, where the solemn truths of death and immortality are inculcated, the aspirant, on entering, should purify his heart from every contamination  and remember, with a due sense of their symbolic application, those words that once broke upon the astonished ears of the old patriarch, "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground."

XIX --The Rite of Investiture.

Another ritualistic symbolism, of still more importance and interest, is the rite of investiture.

The rite of investiture, called, in the colloquially technical language of the order, the ceremony of clothing, brings us at once to the consideration of that well known symbol of Freemasonry, the Lamb Skin Apron. This rite of investiture, or the placing upon the aspirant some garment, as an indication of his appropriate preparation for the ceremonies in which he was about to engage, prevailed in all the ancient initiations. A few of them only it will be requisite to consider.

Thus in the Levitical economy of the Israelites the priests always wore the abnet, or linen apron, or girdle, as a part of the investiture of the priesthood. This, with the other garments, was to be worn, as the text expresses it, "for glory and for beauty," or, as it has been explained by a learned commentator, "as emblematical of that holiness and purity which ever characterize the divine nature  and the worship, which is worthy of him."

In the Persian Mysteries of Mithras, the candidate, having first received light, was invested with a girdle, a crown or mitre, a purple tunic and, lastly, a white apron.

In the initiations practised in Hindostan, in the ceremony of investiture was substituted the sash, or sacred zennaar, consisting of a cord, composed of nine threads twisted into a knot at the end  and hanging from the left shoulder to the right hip. This was, perhaps, the type of the Masonic scarf, which is, or ought to be, always worn in the same position.

The Jewish sect of the Essenes, who approached nearer than any other secret institution of antiquity to Freemasonry in their organization, always invested their novices with a white robe.

And, lastly, in the Scandinavian rites, where the military genius of the people had introduced a warlike species of initiation, instead of the apron we find the candidate receiving a white shield, which was, however, always presented with the accompaniment of some symbolic instruction, not very dissimilar to that which is connected with the Masonic apron. In all these modes of investiture, no matter what was the material or the form, the symbolic signification intended to be conveyed was that of purity.

And hence, in Freemasonry, the same symbolism is communicated by the apron, which, because it is the first gift which the aspirant receives, the first symbol in which he is instructed, has been called the "badge of a mason." And most appropriately has it been so called, for, whatever may be the future advancement of the candidate in the "Royal Art," into whatever deeper arcana his devotion to the mystic institution or his thirst for knowledge may carry him, with the apron, his first investiture, he never parts. Changing, perhaps, its form and its decorations and conveying at each step some new and beautiful allusion, its substance is still there and it continues to claim the honorable title by which it was first made known to him on the night of his initiation.

The apron derives its significance, as the symbol of purity, from two sources,from its color and from its material. In each of these points of view it is, then, to be considered, before its symbolism can be properly appreciated.

And, first, the color of the apron must be an unspotted white. This color has, in all ages, been esteemed an emblem of innocence and purity. It was with reference to this symbolism that a portion of the vestments of the Jewish priesthood was directed to be made white. And hence Aaron was commanded, when he entered into the holy of holies to make an expiation for the sins of the people, to appear clothed in white linen, with his linen apron, or girdle, about his loins. It is worthy of remark that the Hebrew word Laban, which signifies to make white, denotes also to purify  and hence we find, throughout the Scriptures, many allusions to that color as an emblem of purity. "Though thy sins be as scarlet," says Isaiah, "they shall be white as snow," and Jeremiah, in describing the once innocent condition of Zion, says, "Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk."

In the Apocalypse a white stone was the reward promised by the Spirit to those who overcame  and in the same mystical book the apostle is instructed to say, that fine linen, clean and white, is the righteousness of the saints.

In the early ages of the Christian church a white garment was always placed upon the catechumen who had been recently baptized, to denote that he had been cleansed from his former sins  and was thenceforth to lead a life of innocence and purity. Hence it was presented to him with this appropriate charge: "Receive the white and undefiled garment  and produce it unspotted before the tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you may obtain immortal life."

The white alb still constitutes a part of the vestments of the Roman church  and its color is said by Bishop England "to excite to piety by teaching us the purity of heart and body which we should possess in being present at the holy mysteries."

The heathens paid the same attention to the symbolic signification of this color. The Egyptians, for instance, decorated the head of their principal deity, Osiris, with a white tiara  and the priests wore robes of the whitest linen.

In the school of Pythagoras, the sacred hymns were chanted by the disciples clothed in garments of white. The Druids gave white vestments to those of their initiates who had arrived at the ultimate degree, or that of perfection. And this was intended, according to their ritual, to teach the aspirant that none were admitted to that honor but such as were cleansed from all impurities, both of body and mind. In all the Mysteries and religions rites of the other nations of antiquity the same use of white garments was observed.

Portal, in his "Treatise on Symbolic Colors," says that "white, the symbol of the divinity and of the priesthood, represents divine wisdom, applied to a young girl, it denotes virginity, to an accused person, innocence, to a judge, justice," and he adds—what in reference to its use in Masonry will be peculiarly appropriate—that, "as a characteristic sign of purity, it exhibits a promise of hope after death." We see, therefore, the propriety of adopting this color in the Masonic system as a symbol of purity. This symbolism pervades the whole of the ritual, from the lowest to the highest degree, wherever white vestments or white decorations are used.

As to the material of the apron, this is imperatively required to be of lamb skin. No other substance, such as linen, silk, or satin, could be substituted without entirely destroying the symbolism of the vestment. Now, the lamb has, as the ritual expresses it, "been, in all ages, deemed an emblem of innocence," but more particularly in the Jewish and Christian churches has this symbolism been observed. Instances of this need hardly be cited. They abound throughout the Old Testament, where we learn that a lamb was selected by the Israelites for their sin and burnt offerings and in the New, where the word lamb is almost constantly employed as synonymous with innocence. "The paschal lamb," says Didron, "which was eaten by the Israelites on the night preceding their departure, is the type of that other divine Lamb, of whom Christians are to partake at Easter, in order thereby to free themselves from the bondage in which they are held by vice." The paschal lamb, a lamb bearing a cross, was, therefore, from an early period, depicted by the Christians as referring to Christ crucified, "that spotless Lamb of God, who was slain from the foundation of the world."

The material, then, of the apron, unites with its color to give to the investiture of a mason the symbolic signification of purity. This, then, together with the fact, which I have already shown, that the ceremony of investiture was common to all the ancient religious rites, will form another proof of the identity of origin between these and the Masonic institution.

This symbolism also indicates the sacred and religious character which its founders sought to impose upon Freemasonry and to which both the moral and physical qualifications of our candidates undoubtedly have a reference, since it is with the Masonic lodge as it was with the Jewish church, where it was declared that "no man that had a blemish should come nigh unto the altar," and with the heathen priesthood, among whom we are told that it was thought to be a dishonor to the gods to be served by any one that was maimed, lame, or in any other way imperfect  and with both, also, in requiring that no one should approach the sacred things who was not pure and uncorrupt.

The pure, unspotted lamb skin apron is, then, in Masonry, symbolic of that perfection of body and purity of mind which are essential qualifications in all who would participate in its sacred mysteries.

XX - -The Symbolism of the Gloves.

The investiture with the gloves is very closely connected with the investiture with the apron and the consideration of the symbolism of the one naturally follows the consideration of the symbolism of the other.

In the continental rites of Masonry, as practised in France, in Germany  and in other countries of Europe, it is an invariable custom to present the newly initiated candidate not only, as we do, with a white leather apron, but also with two pairs of white kid gloves, one a man's pair for himself  and the other a woman's, to be presented by him in turn to his wife or his betrothed, according to the custom of the German masons, or, according to the French, to the female whom he most esteems, which, indeed, amounts, or should amount, to the same thing.

There is in this, of course, as there is in everything else which pertains to Freemasonry, a symbolism. The gloves given to the candidate for himself are intended to teach him that the acts of a mason should be as pure and spotless as the gloves now given to him. In the German lodges, the word used for acts is of course handlungen, or handlings, "the works of his hands," which makes the symbolic idea more impressive.

Dr. Robert Plott, no friend of Masonry, but still an historian of much research says, in his "Natural History of Staffordshire," that the Society of Freemasons, in his time (and he wrote in 1660), presented their candidates with gloves for themselves and their wives. This shows that the custom still preserved on the continent of Europe was formerly practised in England, although there as well as in America, it is discontinued, which is, perhaps, to be regretted.

But although the presentation of the gloves to the candidate is no longer practised as a ceremony in England or America, yet the use of them as a part of the proper professional clothing of a mason in the duties of the lodge, or in processions, is still retained and in many well regulated lodges the members are almost as regularly clothed in their white gloves as in their white aprons.

The symbolism of the gloves, it will be admitted, is, in fact, but a modification of that of the apron. They both signify the same thing, both are allusive to a purification of life. "Who shall ascend," says the Psalmist, "into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart." The apron may be said to refer to the "pure heart," the gloves to the "clean hands." Both are significant of purification of that purification which was always symbolized by the ablution which preceded the ancient initiations into the sacred Mysteries. But while our American and English masons have adhered only to the apron and rejected the gloves as a Masonic symbol, the latter appear to be far more important in symbolic science, because the allusions to pure or clean hands are abundant in all the ancient writers.

"Hands," says Wemyss, in his "Clavis Symbolica," "are the symbols of human actions, pure hands are pure actions, unjust hands are deeds of injustice." There are numerous references in sacred and profane writers to this symbolism. The washing of the hands has the outward sign of an internal purification. Hence the Psalmist says, "I will wash my hands in innocence and I will encompass thine altar, Jehovah."

In the ancient Mysteries the washing of the hands was always an introductory ceremony to the initiation and of course, it was used symbolically to indicate the necessity of purity from crime as a qualification of those who sought admission into the sacred rites and hence on a temple in the Island of Crete this inscription was placed: "Cleanse your feet, wash your hands  and then enter."

Indeed, the washing of hands, as symbolic of purity, was among the ancients a peculiarly religious rite. No one dared to pray to the gods until he had cleansed his hands. Thus Homer makes Hector say,    "I dread with unwashed hands to bring
                                    My incensed wine to Jove an offering."
      Iliad, vi. 266

In a similar spirit of religion, Æneas, when leaving burning Troy, refuses to enter the temple of Ceres until his hands, polluted by recent strife, had been washed in the living stream.

"In me, now fresh from war and recent strife,
'Tis impious the sacred things to touch
                              Till in the living stream myself I bathe."             
Æn. ii. 718.

The same practice prevailed among the Jews and a striking instance of the symbolism is exhibited in that well-known action of Pilate, who, when the Jews clamored for Jesus, that they might crucify him, appeared before the people and having taken water, washed his hands, saying at the same time, "I am innocent of the blood of this just man. See ye to it." In the Christian church of the middle ages, gloves were always worn by bishops or priests when in the performance of ecclesiastical functions. They were made of linen  and were white  and Durandus, a celebrated ritualist, says that "by the white gloves were denoted chastity and purity, because the hands were thus kept clean and free from all impurity."

There is no necessity to extend examples any further. There is no doubt that the use of the gloves in Masonry is a symbolic idea borrowed from the ancient and universal language of symbolism  and was intended, like the apron, to denote the necessity of purity of life.

We have thus traced the gloves and the apron to the same symbolic source. Let us see if we cannot also derive them from the same historic origin.

The apron evidently owes its adoption in Freemasonry to the use of that necessary garment by the operative masons of the middle ages. It is one of the most positive evidences—indeed we may say, absolutely, the most tangible evidence—of the derivation of our speculative science from an operative art. The builders, who associated in companies, who traversed Europe and were engaged in the construction of palaces and cathedrals, have left to us, as their descendants, their name, their technical language and that distinctive piece of clothing by which they protected their garments from the pollutions of their laborious employment. Did they also bequeath to us their gloves? This is a question which some modern discoveries will at last enable us to solve.

M. Didron, in his "Annales Archeologiques," presents us with an engraving, copied from the painted glass of a window in the cathedral of Chartres, in France. The painting was executed in the thirteenth century  and represents a number of operative masons at work. Three of them are adorned with laurel crowns. May not these be intended to represent the three officers of a lodge? All of the Masons wear gloves. M. Didron remarks that in the old documents which he has examined, mention is often made of gloves which are intended to be presented to masons and stone-cutters. In a subsequent number of the "Annales," he gives the following three examples of this fact, “In the year 1331, the Chatelan of Villaines, in Duemois, bought a considerable quantity of gloves, to be given to the workmen, in order, as it is said, "to shield their hands from the stone and lime."

In October, 1383, as he learns from a document of that period, three dozen pairs of gloves were bought and distributed to the masons when they commenced the buildings at the Chartreuse of Dijon.And, lastly, in 1486 or 1487, twenty-two pair of gloves were given to the masons and stone-cutters who were engaged in work at the city of Amiens.

It is thus evident that the builders, the operative masons, of the middle ages wore gloves to protect their hands from the effects of their work. It is equally evident that the speculative masons have received from their operative predecessors the gloves as well as the apron, both of which, being used by the latter for practical uses, have been, in the spirit of symbolism, appropriated by the former to "a more noble and glorious purpose."

 

 

Please peruse the write up about the Author in Article No.225.


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