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Article # 228
The Symbolism of Freemasonry

Author: W.Bro.Albert G. Mackey    Posted on: Friday, December 8, 2006
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[ Chapters 27 to 31 of The Symbolism of Freemasonry are posted in this Article.This section contains an elaborate exposition of the nature, progress and the ultimate aim of our system of Speculative Science. These concluding chapters require a careful study with concentration and the assimilation of which will certainly make the reader a well informed Freemason]

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 27 to 31.)

Contents.

27. The Legend of the Third Degree.

28. The Sprig of Acacia.

29. The Symbolism of Labor.

30. The Stone of Foundation.

31. The Lost Word.

XXVII--The Legend of the Third Degree.

The most important and significant of the legendary symbols of Freemasonry is, undoubtedly, that which relates to the fate of Hiram Abif, commonly called, "by way of excellence," the Legend of the Third Degree.

The first written record that I have been able to find of this legend is contained in the second edition of Anderson's Constitutions, published in 1738, and is in these words,

"It (the temple) was finished in the short space of seven years and six months, to the amazement of all the world, when the cape stone was celebrated by the fraternity with great joy. But their joy was soon interrupted by the sudden death of their dear master, Hiram Abif, whom they decently interred, in the lodge near the temple, according to ancient usage.” [Anderson's Constitutions, 2d ed. 1738, p. 14]

In the next edition of the same work, published in 1756, a few additional circumstances are related, such as the participation of King Solomon in the general grief, and the fact that the King of Israel "ordered his obsequies to be conducted with great solemnity and decency.” [Anderson's Constitutions, 3d ed. 1756, p. 24.] With these exceptions and the citations of the same passages, made by subsequent authors, the narrative has always remained unwritten and descended, from age to age, through the means of oral tradition.

The legend has been considered of so much importance, that it has been preserved in the symbolism of every Masonic rite. No matter what modifications or alterations the general system may have undergone, no matter how much the ingenuity or the imagination of the founders of rites may have perverted or corrupted other symbols, abolishing the old and substituting new ones, the legend of the Temple Builder has ever been left untouched, to present itself in all the integrity of its ancient mythical form.

What, then, is the signification of this symbol, so important and so extensively diffused? What interpretation can we give to it that will account for its universal adoption? How is it that it has thus become so intimately interwoven with Freemasonry as to make, to all appearances, a part of its very essence, and to have been always deemed inseparable from it?

To answer these questions, satisfactorily, it is necessary to trace, in a brief investigation, the remote origin of the institution of Freemasonry and its connection with the ancient systems of initiation.

It was, then, the great object of all the rites and mysteries which constituted the "Spurious Freemasonry" of antiquity to teach the consoling doctrine of the immortality of the soul.

["The hidden doctrines of the unity of the Deity and the immortality of the soul were originally in all the Mysteries, even those of Cupid and Bacchus."—WARBURTON, in Spence's Anecdotes, p. 309.]

This dogma, shining as an almost solitary beacon light in the surrounding gloom of pagan darkness, had undoubtedly been received from that ancient people or priesthood, what has been called the system of "Pure Freemasonry," and among whom it probably existed only in the form of an abstract proposition or a simple and unembellished tradition.

["The allegorical interpretation of the myths has been, by several learned investigators, especially by Creuzer, connected with the hypothesis of an ancient and highly instructed body of priests, having their origin either in Egypt or in the East, and communicating to the rude and barbarous Greeks religious, physical, and historical knowledge, under the veil of symbols."—GROTE, Hist. of Greece, vol. i. ch. xvi. p. 579.—And the Chevalier Ramsay corroborates this theory: "Vestiges of the most sublime truths are to be found in the sages of all nations, times, and religions, both sacred and profane, and these vestiges are emanations of the antediluvian and noevian tradition, more or less disguised and adulterated."—Philosophical Principles of Natural and Revealed Religion unfolded in a Geometrical Order, vol. 1, p. iv.]

But in the more sensual minds of the pagan philosophers and mystics, the idea, when presented to the initiates in their Mysteries, was always conveyed in the form of a scenic representation.

[Of this there is abundant evidence in all the ancient and modern writers on the Mysteries. Apuleius, cautiously describing his initiation into the Mysteries of Isis, says, "I approached the confines of death, and having trod on the threshold of Proserpine, I returned therefrom, being borne through all the elements. At midnight I saw the sun shining with its brilliant light; and I approached the presence of the gods beneath, and the gods of heaven, and stood near and worshipped them."—Metam. lib. vi. The context shows that all this was a scenic representation.]

The influence, too, of the early Sabian worship of the sun and heavenly bodies, in which the solar orb was adored, on its resurrection, each morning, from the apparent death of its evening setting, caused this rising sun to be adopted in the more ancient Mysteries as a symbol of the regeneration of the soul.

Thus in the Egyptian Mysteries we find a representation of the death and subsequent regeneration of Osiris; in the Phœnician, of Adonis; in the Syrian, of Dionysus; in all of which the scenic apparatus of initiation was intended to indoctrinate the candidate into the dogma of a future life.

It will be sufficient here to refer simply to the fact, that through the instrumentality of the Tyrian workmen at the temple of King Solomon, the spurious and pure branches of the Masonic system were united at Jerusalem and that the same method of scenic representation was adopted by the latter from the former and the narrative of the temple builder substituted for that of Dionysus, which was the myth peculiar to the mysteries practised by the Tyrian workmen.

The idea, therefore, proposed to be communicated in the myth of the ancient Mysteries was the same as that which is now conveyed in the Masonic legend of the Third Degree. Hence, then, Hiram Abif is, in the Masonic system, the symbol of human nature, as developed in the life here and the life to come and so, while the temple was, as I have heretofore shown, the visible symbol of the world, its builder became the mythical symbol of man, the dweller and worker in that world.

Now, is not this symbolism evident to every reflective mind?

Man, setting forth on the voyage of life, with faculties and powers fitting him for the due exercise of the high duties to whose performance he has been called, holds, if he be "a curious and cunning workman,”

[Aish hakam iodea binah, "a cunning man, endued with understanding," is the description given by the king of Tyre of Hiram Abif. See 2 Chron. ii. 13. It is needless to say that "cunning" is a good old Saxon word meaning skilful]

skilled in all moral and intellectual purposes (and it is only of such men that the temple builder can be the symbol), within the grasp of his attainment the knowledge of all that divine truth imparted to him as the heirloom of his race, that race to whom it has been granted to look, with exalted countenance, on high, which divine truth is symbolized by the WORD.

["Pronaque cum spectent animalia cætera terram;
Os homini sublime dedit: coelumque tueri
Jussit, et erectos ad sidera tollere vultus."-----OVID, Met. i. 84.

"Thus, while the mute creation downward bend
Their sight, and to their earthly mother tend,
Man looks aloft, and with erected eyes
Beholds his own hereditary skies." ---DRYDEN.]

Thus provided with the word of life, he occupies his time in the construction of a spiritual temple and travels onward in the faithful discharge of all his duties, laying down his designs upon the trestle board of the future and invoking the assistance and direction of God.

But is his path always over flowery meads and through pleasant groves? Is there no hidden foe to obstruct his progress? Is all before him clear and calm, with joyous sunshine and refreshing zephyrs? Alas! not so. "Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward." At every "gate of life"—as the Orientalists have beautifully called the different ages, he is beset by peril. Temptations allure his youth, misfortunes darken the pathway of his manhood, and his old age is encumbered with infirmity and disease. But clothed in the armor of virtue he may resist the temptation; he may cast misfortunes aside and rise triumphantly above them, but to the last, the direst, the most inexorable foe of his race, he must eventually yield and stricken down by death, he sinks prostrate into the grave and is buried in the rubbish of his sin and human frailty.

Here, then, in Masonry, is what was called the aphanism , in the ancient Mysteries. The bitter, but necessary lesson of death has been imparted. The living soul, with the lifeless body, which encased it, has disappeared and can nowhere be found. All is darkness, confusion, despair. Divine truth, the WORD, for a time is lost, and the Master Mason may now say, in the language of Hutchinson, "I prepare my sepulchre. I make my grave in the pollution of the earth. I am under the shadow of death."

["Ἀφανισμὸς, disappearance, destruction, a perishing, death, from ἀφανίζω, to remove from one's view, to conceal," &c.—Schrevel. Lex.]

But if the mythic symbolism ended here, with this lesson of death, then were the lesson incomplete. That teaching would be vain and idle, nay, more, it would be corrupt and pernicious, which should stop short of the conscious and innate instinct for another existence. And hence the succeeding portions of the legend are intended to convey the sublime symbolism of a resurrection from the grave and a new birth into a future life. The discovery of the body, which, in the initiations of the ancient Mysteries, was called the enuresis, [ "Εῦρεσις, a finding, invention, discovery."—Schrevel. Lex] and its removal, from the polluted grave into which it had been cast, to an honored and sacred place within the precincts of the temple, are all profoundly and beautifully symbolic of that great truth, the discovery of which was the object of all the ancient initiations, as it is almost the whole design of Freemasonry, namely, that when man shall have passed the gates of life and have yielded to the inexorable fiat of death, he shall then (not in the pictured ritual of an earthly lodge, but in the realities of that eternal one, of which the former is but an antitype) be raised, at the omnific word of the Grand Master of the Universe, from time to eternity; from the tomb of corruption to the chambers of hope; from the darkness of death to the celestial beams of life and that his disembodied spirit shall be conveyed as near to the holy of holies of the divine presence as humanity can ever approach to Deity. Such I conceive to be the true interpretation of the symbolism of the legend of the Third Degree.

I have said that this mythical history of the temple builder was universal in all nations and all rites and that in no place and at no time had it, by alteration, diminution, or addition, acquired any essentially new or different form, the myth has always remained the same.

But it is not so with its interpretation. That which I have just given, and which I conceive to be the correct one, has been very generally adopted by the Masons of this country. But elsewhere, and by various writers, other interpretations have been made, very different in their character, although always agreeing in retaining the general idea of a resurrection or regeneration, or a restoration of something from an inferior to a higher sphere or function.

Thus some of the earlier continental writers have supposed the myth to have been a symbol of the destruction of the Order of the Templars, looking upon its restoration to its original wealth and dignities as being prophetically symbolized.

In some of the high philosophical degrees it is taught that the whole legend refers to the sufferings and death, with the subsequent resurrection, of Christ. [A French writer of the last century, speaking of the degree of "Très Parfait Maitre," says, "C'est ici qu'on voit réellement qu'Hiram n'a été que le type de Jésus Christ, que le temple et les autres symboles maçonniques sont des allegories relatives à l'Eglise, à la Foi, et aux bonnes moeurs."—Origine et Objet de la Franchemaçonnerie, par le F.B. Paris, 1774.]

Hutchinson, who has the honor of being the earliest philosophical writer on Freemasonry in England, supposes it to have been intended to embody the idea of the decadence of the Jewish religion, and the substitution of the Christian in its place and on its ruins. ["This our order is a positive contradiction to the Judaic blindness and infidelity, and testifies our faith concerning the resurrection of the body."—HUTCHINSON, Spirit of Masonry, lect. ix. p. 101.—The whole lecture is occupied in advancing and supporting his peculiar theory]

Dr. Oliver, "clarum et venerabile nomen", thinks that it is typical of the murder of Abel by Cain and that it symbolically refers to the universal death of our race through Adam, and its restoration to life in the Redeemer, according to the expression of the apostle, "As in Adam we all died, so in Christ we all live."

["Thus, then, it appears that the historical reference of the legend of Speculative Freemasonry, in all ages of the world, was—to our death in Adam and life in Christ. What, then, was the origin of our tradition? Or, in other words, to what particular incident did the legend of initiation refer before the flood? I conceive it to have been the offering and assassination of Abel by his brother Cain; the escape of the murderer; the discovery of the body by his disconsolate parents, and its subsequent interment, under a certain belief of its final resurrection from the dead, and of the detection and punishment of Cain by divine vengeance."—OLIVER, Historical Landmarks of Freemasonry, vol. ii. p. 171.]

Ragon makes Hiram a symbol of the sun shorn of its vivifying rays and fructifying power by the three winter months, and its restoration to generative heat by the season of spring.

["Le grade de Maître va donc nous retracer allegoriquement la mort du dieu-lumière—mourant en hiver pour reparaître et ressusciter au printemps."—RAGON, Cours Philos. et Interp. des Init. p. 158].

And, finally, Des Etangs, adopting, in part, the interpretation of Ragon, adds to it another, which he calls the moral symbolism of the legend and supposes that Hiram is no other than eternal reason, whose enemies are the vices that deprave and destroy humanity.

["Dans l'ordre moral, Hiram n'est autre chose que la raison éternelle, par qui tout est pondéré, réglé, conservé."—DES ETANGS, Œuvres Maçonniques, p. 90.]

To each of these interpretations it seems to me that there are important objections, though perhaps to some less so than to others.

As to those who seek for an astronomical interpretation of the legend, in which the annual changes of the sun are symbolized, while the ingenuity with which they press their argument, cannot but be admired, it is evident that, by such an interpretation, they yield all that Masonry has gained of religious development in past ages, and fall back upon that corruption and perversion of Sabaism from which it was the object, even of the Spurious Freemasonry of antiquity, to rescue its disciples.

The Templar interpretation of the myth must at once be discarded if we would avoid the difficulties of anachronism, unless we deny that the legend existed before the abolition of the Order of Knights Templar, and such denial would be fatal to the antiquity of Freemasonry.

[With the same argument would I meet the hypothesis that Hiram was the representative of Charles I. of England—an hypothesis now so generally abandoned, that I have not thought it worth noticing in the text.]

And as to the adoption of the Christian reference, Hutchinson, and after him Oliver, profoundly philosophical as are the Masonic speculations of both, have, I am constrained to believe, fallen into a great error in calling the Master Mason's degree a Christian institution. It is true that it embraces within its scheme the great truths of Christianity upon the subject of the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body, but this was to be presumed, because Freemasonry is truth, and Christianity is truth, and all truth must be identical. But the origin of each is different; their histories are dissimilar. The institution of Freemasonry preceded the advent of Christianity. Its symbols and its legends are derived from the Solomonic temple, and from the people even anterior to that. Its religion comes from the ancient priesthood. Its faith was that primitive one of Noah and his immediate descendants. If Masonry were simply a Christian institution, the Jew and the Moslem, the Brahmin and the Buddhist, could not conscientiously partake of its illumination; but its universality is its boast. In its language citizens of every nation may converse; at its altar men of all religions may kneel, to its creed disciples of every faith may subscribe.

Yet it cannot be denied, that since the advent of Christianity a Christian element has been almost imperceptibly infused into the Masonic system, at least among Christian Masons. This has been a necessity; for it is the tendency of every predominant religion to pervade with its influences all that surrounds it, or is about it, whether religious, political, or social. This arises from a need of the human heart. To the man deeply imbued with the spirit of his religion, there is an almost unconscious desire to accommodate and adapt all the business and the amusements of life, the labors and the employments of his every day existence, to the indwelling faith of his soul.

The Christian Mason, therefore, while acknowledging and justly appreciating the great doctrines taught in Masonry, and while grateful that these doctrines were preserved in the bosom of his ancient order at a time when they were unknown to the multitudes of the surrounding nations, is still anxious to give to them a Christian character, to invest them, in some measure, with the peculiarities of his own creed, and to bring the interpretation of their symbolism more nearly home to his own religious sentiments.

The feeling is an instinctive one, belonging to the noblest aspirations of our human nature; and hence we find Christian Masonic writers indulging in it almost to an unwarrantable excess, and by the extent of their sectarian interpretations materially affecting the cosmopolitan character of the institution.

This tendency to Christianization has, in some instances, been so universal, and has prevailed for so long a period, that certain symbols and myths have been, in this way, so deeply and thoroughly imbued with the Christian element as to leave those who have not penetrated into the cause of this peculiarity, in doubt whether they should attribute to the symbol an ancient or a modern and Christian origin.

As an illustration of the idea here advanced, and as a remarkable example of the result of a gradually Christianized interpretation of a Masonic symbol, I will refer to the subordinate myth (subordinate, I mean, to the great legend of the Builder), which relates the circumstances connected with the grave upon "the brow of a small hill near Mount Moriah."

Now, the myth or legend of a grave is a legitimate deduction from the symbolism of the ancient Spurious Masonry. It is the analogue of the Pastos, Couch, or Coffin, which was to be found in the ritual of all the pagan Mysteries. In all these initiations, the aspirant was placed in a cell or upon a couch, in darkness, and for a period varying, in the different rites, from the three days of the Grecian Mysteries to the fifty of the Persian. This cell or couch, technically called the "pastos," was adopted as a symbol of the being whose death and resurrection or apotheosis, was represented in the legend.

The learned Faber says that this ceremony was doubtless the same as the descent into Hades and that, when the aspirant entered into the mystic cell, he was directed to lay himself down upon the bed which shadowed out the tomb of the Great Father, or Noah, to whom, it will be recollected, that Faber refers all the ancient rites. "While stretched upon the holy couch," he continues to remark, "in imitation of his figurative deceased prototype, he was said to be wrapped in the deep sleep of death. His resurrection from the bed was his restoration to life or his regeneration into a new world."

["The initiation into the Mysteries," he says, "scenically represented the mythic descent into Hades and the return from thence to the light of day; by which was meant the entrance into the Ark and the subsequent liberation from its dark enclosure. Such Mysteries were established in almost every part of the pagan world; and those of Ceres were substantially the same as the Orgies of Adonis, Osiris, Hu, Mithras, and the Cabiri. They all equally related to the allegorical disappearance, or death, or descent of the great father at their commencement, and to his invention, or revival, or return from Hades, at their conclusion."—Origin of Pagan Idolatry, vol. iv. b. iv. ch. v. p. 384—But this Arkite theory, as it is called, has not met with the general approbation of subsequent writers.]

Now, it is easy to see how readily such a symbolism would be seized by the Temple Masons and appropriated at once to the grave at the brow of the hill. At first, the interpretation, like that from which it had been derived, would be cosmopolitan; it would fit exactly to the general dogmas of the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul.

But on the advent of Christianity, the spirit of the new religion being infused into the old Masonic system, the whole symbolism of the grave was affected by it. The same interpretation of a resurrection or restoration to life, derived from the ancient "pastos," was, it is true, preserved; but the facts that Christ himself had come to promulgate to the multitudes the same consoling dogma, and that Mount Calvary, "the place of a skull," was the spot where the Redeemer, by his own death and resurrection, had testified the truth of the doctrine, at once suggested to the old Christian Masons the idea of Christianizing the ancient symbol.

Let us now examine briefly how that idea has been at length developed.

In the first place, it is necessary to identify the spot where the "newly-made grave" was discovered with Mount Calvary, the place of the sepulchre of Christ. This can easily be done by a very few, but striking analogies, which will, I conceive, carry conviction to any thinking mind.

1. Mount Calvary was a small hill. [Mount Calvary is a small hill or eminence, situated in a westerly direction from that Mount Moriah on which the temple of Solomon was built. It was originally a hillock of notable eminence, but has, in modern times, been greatly reduced by the excavations made in it for the construction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Buckingham, in his Palestine, p. 283, says, "The present rock, called Calvary, and enclosed within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, bears marks, in every part that is naked, of its having been a round nodule of rock standing above the common level of the surface."]

2. It was situated in a westward direction from the temple, and near Mount Moriah.

3. It was on the direct road from Jerusalem to Joppa, and is thus the very spot where a weary brother, travelling on that road, would find it convenient to sit down to rest and refresh himself. [Dr. Beard, in the Article, "Golgotha," in Kitto's Encyc. of Bib. Lit., reasons in a similar method as to the place of the crucifixion, and supposing that the soldiers, from the fear of a popular tumult, would hurry Jesus to the most convenient spot for execution, says, "Then the road to Joppa or Damascus would be most convenient, and no spot in the vicinity would probably be so suitable as the slight rounded elevation which bore the name of Calvary."

4. It was outside the gate of the temple.

5. It has at least one cleft in the rock, or cave, which was the place which subsequently became the sepulchre of our Lord. But this coincidence need scarcely to be insisted on, since the whole neighborhood abounds in rocky clefts, which meet at once the conditions of the Masonic legend.

But to bring this analogical reasoning before the mind in a more expressive mode, it may be observed, that if a party of persons were to start forth from the temple at Jerusalem and travel in a westward direction towards the port of Joppa, Mount Calvary would be the first hill met with and as it may possibly have been used as a place of sepulchre, which its name of Golgotha seems to import, we may suppose it to have been the very spot alluded to in the Third Degree, as the place where the craftsmen, on their way to Joppa, discovered the evergreen acacia.[ Some have supposed that it was so called because it was the place of public execution. Gulgoleth in Hebrew, or gogultho in Syriac, means a skull]

Having thus traced the analogy, let us look a little to the symbolism.

Mount Calvary has always retained an important place in the legendary history of Freemasonry and there are many traditions connected with it that are highly interesting in their import. One of these traditions is, that it was the burial-place of Adam, in order, says the old legend, that where he lay, who effected the ruin of mankind, there also might the Savior of the world suffer, die, and be buried. Sir R. Torkington, who published a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1517, says that "under the Mount of Calvary is another chapel of our Blessed Lady and St. John the Evangelist, that was called Golgotha; and there, right under the mortise of the cross, was found the head of our forefather, Adam.”

[ Quoted in Oliver, Landmarks, vol. i. p. 587, note]

Golgotha, it will be remembered, means, in Hebrew, "the place of a skull;" and there may be some connection between this tradition and the name of Golgotha, by which the Evangelists inform us, that in the time of Christ, Mount Calvary was known. Calvary, or Calvaria, has the same signification in Latin.

Another tradition states, that it was in the bowels of Mount Calvary that Enoch erected his nine arched vault, and deposited on the foundation stone of Masonry that Ineffable Name, whose investigation, as a symbol of divine truth, is the great object of Speculative Masonry.

A third tradition details the subsequent discovery of Enoch's deposit by King Solomon, whilst making excavations in Mount Calvary, during the building of the temple.

On this hallowed spot was Christ the Redeemer slain and buried. It was there that, rising on the third day from his sepulchre, he gave, by that act, the demonstrative evidence of the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul.

And it was on this spot that the same great lesson was taught in Masonry—the same sublime truth—the development of which evidently forms the design of the Third or Master Mason's degree.

There is in these analogies a sublime beauty as well as a wonderful coincidence between the two systems of Masonry and Christianity, that must, at an early period, have attracted the attention of the Christian Masons.

Mount Calvary is consecrated to the Christian as the place where his crucified Lord gave the last great proof of the second life and fully established the doctrine of the resurrection, which he had come to teach. It was the sepulchre of him

"Who captive led captivity,
Who robbed the grave of victory,
And took the sting from death."

It is consecrated to the Mason, also, as the scene of the euresis, the place of the discovery, where the same consoling doctrines of the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul are shadowed forth in profoundly symbolic forms.

These great truths constitute the very essence of Christianity, in which it differs from and excels all religious systems that preceded it; they constitute, also, the end, aim, and object of all Freemasonry, but more especially that of the Third Degree, whose peculiar legend, symbolically considered, teaches nothing more nor less than that there is an immortal and better part within us, which, as an emanation from that divine spirit, which pervades all nature, can never die.

The identification of the spot on which this divine truth was promulgated in both systems, the Christian and the Masonic, affords an admirable illustration of the readiness with which the religious spirit of the former may be infused into the symbolism of the latter. And hence Hutchinson, thoroughly imbued with these Christian views of Masonry, has called the Master Mason's order a Christian degree, and thus Christianizes the whole symbolism of its mythical history.

"The Great Father of all, commiserating the miseries of the world, sent his only Son, who was innocence itself, to teach the doctrine of salvation, by whom man was raised from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness, from the tomb of corruption unto the chamber of hope, from the darkness of despair to the celestial beams of faith and not only working for us this redemption, but making with us the covenant of regeneration, whence we are become the children of the Divinity, and inheritors of the realms of heaven.”

"We, Masons, describing the deplorable estate of religion under the Jewish law, speak in figures: 'Her tomb was in the rubbish and filth cast forth of the temple, and acacia wove its branches over her monuments;' akakia being the Greek word for innocence, or being free from sin; implying that the sins and corruptions of the old law, and devotees of the Jewish altar, had hid Religion from those who sought her, and she was only to be found where innocence survived, and under the banner of the Divine Lamb, and, as to ourselves, professing that we were to be distinguished by our Acacy, or as true Acacians in our religious faiths and tenets.”

"The acquisition of the doctrine of redemption is expressed in the typical character of Huramen (I have found it. in Greek), and by the applications of that name with Masons, it is implied that we have discovered the knowledge of God and his salvation, and have been redeemed from the death of sin and the sepulchre of pollution and unrighteousness.

"Thus the Master Mason represents a man, under the Christian doctrine, saved from the grave of iniquity and raised to the faith of salvation."

It is in this way that Masonry has, by a sort of inevitable process (when we look to the religious sentiment of the interpreters), been Christianized by some of the most illustrious and learned writers on Masonic science, by such able men as Hutchinson and Oliver in England and by Harris, by Scott, by Salem Towne, and by several others in this country.

I do not object to the system when the interpretation is not strained, but is plausible, consistent, and productive of the same results as in the instance of Mount Calvary, all that I contend for is, that such interpretations are modern, and that they do not belong to, although they may often be deduced from, the ancient system.

But the true ancient interpretation of the legend, the universal Masonic one, for all countries and all ages, undoubtedly was, that the fate of the temple builder is but figurative of the pilgrimage of man on earth, through trials and temptations, through sin and sorrow, until his eventual fall beneath the blow of death and his final and glorious resurrection to another and an eternal life.

XXVIII. The Sprig of Acacia.

Intimately connected with the legend of the third degree is the mythical history of the Sprig of Acacia, which we are now to consider.

There is no symbol more interesting to the Masonic student than the Sprig of Acacia, not only on account of its own peculiar import, but also because it introduces us to an extensive and delightful field of research, namely, which embraces the symbolism of sacred plants. In all the ancient systems of religion, and Mysteries of initiation, there was always some one plant consecrated, in the minds of the worshippers and participants, by a peculiar symbolism, and therefore held in extraordinary veneration as a sacred emblem. Thus the ivy was used in the Mysteries of Dionysus, the myrtle in those of Ceres, the erica in the Osirian, and the lettuce in the Adonisian. But to this subject I shall have occasion to refer more fully in a subsequent part of the present investigation.

Before entering upon an examination of the symbolism of the Acacia, it will be, perhaps, as well to identify the true plant, which occupies so important a place in the ritual of Freemasonry.

And here, in passing, I may be permitted to say that it is a very great error to designate the symbolic plant of Masonry by the name of "Cassia", an error which undoubtedly arose, originally, from the very common habit among illiterate people of sinking the sound of the letter a in the pronunciation of any word of which it constitutes the initial syllable. Just, for instance, as we constantly hear, in the conversation of the uneducated, the words pothecary and prentice for apothecary and apprentice, shall we also find cassia used for acacia.

[ Oliver's idea (Landmarks, ii. 149) that cassia has, since the year 1730, been corrupted into acacia, is contrary to all etymological experience. Words are corrupted, not by lengthening, but by abbreviating them. The uneducated and the careless are always prone to cut off a syllable, not to add a new one.]

Unfortunately, however, this corruption of acacia into cassia has not always been confined to the illiterate, but the long employment of the corrupted form has at length introduced it, in some instances, among a few of our writers. Even the venerable Oliver, although well acquainted with the symbolism of the acacia, and having written most learnedly upon it, has, at times, allowed himself to use the objectionable corruption, unwittingly influenced, in all probability, by the too frequent adoption of the latter word in the English lodges. In America, but few Masons fall into the error of speaking of the Cassia. The proper teaching of the Acacia is here well understood. [And yet I have been surprised by seeing, once or twice, the word "Cassia" adopted as the name of a lodge. "Cinnamon" or "sandal wood" would have been as appropriate, for any masonic meaning or symbolism.]

The cassia of the ancients was, in fact, an ignoble plant having no mystic meaning and no sacred character, and was never elevated to a higher function than that of being united, as Virgil informs us, with other odorous herbs in the formation of a garland,

"...violets pale,
The poppy's flush, and dill which scents the gale,
Cassia, and hyacinth, and daffodil,
With yellow marigold the chaplet fill.”

[ Eclog. ii. 49. --"Pallentes violas et summa papavera carpens,
Narcissum et florem jungit benè olentis anethi:
Tum casia, atque aliis intexens suavibus herbis,
Mollia luteola pingit vaccinia, caltha."]

Alston says that the "Cassia lignea of the ancients was the larger branches of the cinnamon tree, cut off with their bark and sent together to the druggists, their Cassia fistula, or Syrinx, was the same cinnamon in the bark only;" but Ruæus says that it also sometimes denoted the lavender, and sometimes the rosemary.

In Scripture the cassia is only three times mentioned, twice as the translation of the Hebrew word kiddak, and once as the rendering of ketzioth, but always as referring to an aromatic plant which formed a constituent portion of some perfume. [Exod. xxx. 24, Ezek. xxvii. 9, and Ps. xlv. 8.] There is, indeed, strong reason for believing that the cassia is only another name for a coarser preparation of cinnamon, and it is also to be remarked that it did not grow in Palestine, but was imported from the East.

The acacia, on the contrary, was esteemed a sacred tree. It is the acacia vera of Tournefort, and the mimosa nilotica of Linnæus. It grew abundantly in the vicinity of Jerusalem, where it is still to be found, and is familiar to us all, in its modern uses at least, as the tree from which the gum arabic of commerce is obtained.

[ Oliver, it is true, says, that "there is not the smallest trace of any tree of the kind growing so far north as Jerusalem" (Landm. ii. 136); but this statement is refuted by the authority of Lieutenant Lynch, who saw it growing in great abundance at Jericho, and still farther north.—Exped. to the Dead Sea, p. 262.—The Rabbi Joseph Schwarz, who is excellent authority, says, "The Acacia (Shittim) Tree, Al Sunt, is found in Palestine of different varieties; it looks like the Mulberry tree, attains a great height, and has a hard wood. The gum which is obtained from it is the gum Arabic."—Descriptive Geography and Historical Sketch of Palestine, p. 308, Leeser's translation. Phila., 1850.—Schwarz was for sixteen years a resident of Palestine, and wrote from personal observation. The testimony of Lynch and Schwarz should, therefore, forever settle the question of the existence of the acacia in Palestine.]

The acacia, which, in Scripture, is always called shittah and in the plural shittim, was esteemed a sacred wood among the Hebrews. Of it Moses was ordered to make the tabernacle, the ark of the covenant, the table for the showbread and the rest of the sacred furniture. Isaiah, in recounting the promises of God's mercy to the Israelites on their return from the captivity, tells them, that, among other things, he will plant in the wilderness, for their relief and refreshment, the cedar, the acacia (or, as it is rendered in our common version, the shittah), the fir, and other trees.

[ Calmet, Parkhurst, Gesenius, Clarke, Shaw, and all the best authorities, concur in saying that the otzi shittim, or shittim wood of Exodus, was the common acacia or mimosa nilotica of Linnæus.]

The first thing, then, that we notice in this symbol of the acacia, is, that it had been always consecrated from among the other trees of the forest by the sacred purposes to which it was devoted. By the Jew the tree from whose wood the sanctuary of the tabernacle and the holy ark had been constructed would ever be viewed as more sacred than ordinary trees. The early Masons, therefore, very naturally appropriated this hallowed plant to the equally sacred purpose of a symbol which was to teach an important divine truth in all ages to come.

Having thus briefly disposed of the natural history of this plant, we may now proceed to examine it in its symbolic relations.

First. The acacia, in the mystic system of Freemasonry, is preeminently the symbol of the Immortality Of The Soul, that important doctrine, which it is the great design of the institution to teach. As the evanescent nature of the flower which "cometh forth and is cut down" reminds us of the transitory nature of human life, so the perpetual renovation of the evergreen plant, which uninterruptedly presents the appearance of youth and vigor, is aptly compared to that spiritual life in which the soul, freed from the corruptible companionship of the body, shall enjoy an eternal spring and an immortal youth. Hence, in the impressive funeral service of our order, it is said, "This evergreen is an emblem of our faith in the immortality of the soul. By this we are reminded that we have an immortal part within us, which shall survive the grave, and which shall never, never, never die." And again, in the closing sentences of the monitorial lecture of the Third Degree, the same sentiment is repeated, and we are told that by "the ever green and ever living sprig" the Mason is strengthened "with confidence and composure to look forward to a blessed immortality." Such an interpretation of the symbol is an easy and a natural one. It suggests itself at once to the least reflective mind, and consequently, in some one form or another, is to be found existing in all ages and nations. It was an ancient custom, which is not, even now, altogether disused, for mourners to carry in their hands at funerals a sprig of some evergreen, generally the cedar or the cypress, and to deposit it in the grave of the deceased. According to Dalcho, the Hebrews always planted a sprig of the acacia at the head of the grave of a departed friend.

["This custom among the Hebrews arose from this circumstance. Agreeably to their laws, no dead bodies were allowed to be interred within the walls of the city; and as the Cohens, or priests, were prohibited from crossing a grave, it was necessary to place marks thereon, that they might avoid them. For this purpose the acacia was used."—DALCHO, Oration, p. 27, note.—I object to the reason assigned by Dalcho; but of the existence of the custom there can be no question, notwithstanding the denial or doubt of Dr. Oliver. Blount (Travels in the Levant, p. 197) says, speaking of the Jewish burial customs, "those who bestow a marble stone over any [grave] have a hole a yard long and a foot broad, in which they plant an evergreen, which seems to grow from the body, and is carefully watched." Hasselquist (Travels, p. 28) confirms his testimony. I borrow the citations from Brown (Antiquities of the Jews, vol. ii. p. 356), but have verified the reference to Hasselquist. The work of Blount I have not been enabled to consult.]

Potter tells us that the ancient Greeks "had a custom of bedecking tombs with herbs and flowers." [ Antiquities of Greece, p. 569.]

All sorts of purple and white flowers were acceptable to the dead, but principally the amaranth and the myrtle. The very name of the former of these plants, which signifies "never fading," would seem to indicate the true symbolic meaning of the usage, although archaeologists have generally supposed it to be simply an exhibition of love on the part of the survivors. Ragon says, that the ancients substituted the acacia for all other plants because they believed it to be incorruptible, and not liable to injury from the attacks of any kind of insect or other animal, thus symbolizing the incorruptible nature of the soul. Hence, we see the propriety of placing the sprig of acacia, as an emblem of immortality, among the symbols of that degree, all of whose ceremonies are intended to teach us the great truth, that "the life of man, regulated by morality, faith, and justice, will be rewarded at its closing hour by the prospect of eternal bliss."

[Dr. Crucefix, MS., quoted by Oliver, Landmarks, ii. 2.]

So, therefore, says Dr. Oliver, when the Master Mason exclaims, "My name is Acacia," it is equivalent to saying, "I have been in the grave, I have triumphed over it by rising from the dead, and being regenerated in the process, I have a claim to life everlasting."

The sprig of acacia, then, in its most ordinary signification, presents itself to the Master Mason as a symbol of the immortality of the soul, being intended to remind him, by its evergreen and unchanging nature, of that better and spiritual part within us, which, as an emanation from the Grand Architect of the Universe, can never die. And as this is the most ordinary, the most generally accepted signification, so also is it the most important, for thus, as the peculiar symbol of immortality, it becomes the most appropriate to an order all of whose teachings are intended to inculcate the great lesson that "life rises out of the grave." But incidental to this the acacia has two other interpretations, which are well worthy of investigation.

Secondly, then, the acacia is a symbol of Innocence. The symbolism here is of a peculiar and unusual character, depending not on any real analogy in the form or use of the symbol to the idea symbolized, but simply on a double or compound meaning of the word. For Akakia, in the Greek language, signifies both the plant in question and the moral quality of innocence or purity of life. In this sense the symbol refers, primarily, to him over whose solitary grave the acacia was planted, and whose virtuous conduct, whose integrity of life and fidelity to his trusts, have ever been presented as patterns to the craft, and consequently to all Master Masons, who, by this interpretation of the symbol, are invited to emulate his example.

Hutchinson, indulging in his favorite theory of Christianizing Masonry, when he comes to this signification of the symbol, thus enlarges on the interpretation, "We Masons, describing the deplorable estate of religion under the Jewish law, speak in figures: 'Her tomb was in the rubbish and filth cast forth of the temple, and Acacia wove its branches over her monument;' akakia being the Greek word for innocence, or being free from sin; implying that the sins and corruptions of the old law and devotees of the Jewish altar had hid Religion from those who sought her, and she was only to be found where innocence survived, and under the banner of the divine Lamb; and as to ourselves, professing that we were to be distinguished by our Acacy, or as true Acacians in our religious faith and tenets.” [Spirit of Masonry, lect. ix. p. 99.]

Among the nations of antiquity, it was common thus by peculiar plants to symbolize the virtues and other qualities of the mind. In many instances the symbolism has been lost to the moderns, but in others it has been retained, and is well understood, even at the present day. Thus the olive was adopted as the symbol of peace, because, says Lee, "its oil is very useful, in some way or other, in all arts manual which principally flourish in times of peace.”[ . The Temple of Solomon, ch. ix. p. 233]

The quince among the Greeks was the symbol of love and happiness [It is probable that the quince derived this symbolism, like the acacia, from its name; for there seems to be some connection between the Greek word ϗυδώνιος, which means a quince, and the participle ϗυδίων, which signifies rejoicing, exulting. But this must have been an afterthought, for the name is derived from Cydon, in Crete, of which island the quince is a native.] and hence, by the laws of Solon, in Athenian marriages, the bride and bridegroom were required to eat a quince together.

The palm was the symbol of victory and hence, in the catacombs of Rome, the burial-place of so many of the early Christians, the palm leaf is constantly found as an emblem of the Christian's triumph over sin and death.[ Desprez, speaking of the palm as an emblem of victory, says (Comment. in Horat. Od. I. i. 5), "Palma verò signum victoriae passim apud omnes statuitur, ex Plutarcho, propterea quod ea est ejus natura ligni, ut urgentibus opprimentibusque minimè cedat. Unde est illud Alciati epigramma,

'Nititur in pondus palma, et consurgit in altum:
Quoque magis premitur, hoc magè tollit onus.'"

It is in the eighth book of his Symposia that Plutarch states this peculiar property of the palm to resist the oppression of any superincumbent weight, and to rise up against it, whence it was adopted as the symbol of victory. Cowley also alludes to it in his Davideis.

"Well did he know how palms by oppression speed
Victorious, and the vctor's sacred meed."]

The rosemary was a symbol of remembrance, and hence was used both at marriages and at funerals, the memory of the past being equally appropriate in both rites.

["Rosemary was anciently supposed to strengthen the memory, and was not only carried at funerals, but worn at weddings."—STEEVENS, Notes on Hamlet, a. iv. s. 5.—Douce (Illustrations of Shakspeare, i. 345) gives the following old song in reference to this subject:—

"Rosemarie is for remembrance
Betweene us daie and night,
Wishing that I might always have
You present in my sight."]

The parsley was consecrated to grief; and hence all the Greeks decked their tombs with it; and it was used to crown the conquerors in the Nemean games, which were of a funereal character.

[Ste. Croix (Recherches sur les Mystères, i. 56) says that in the Samothracian Mysteries it was forbidden to put parsley on the table, because, according to the mystagogues, it had been produced by the blood of Cadmillus, slain by his brothers.]

But it is needless to multiply instances of this symbolism. In adopting the acacia as a symbol of innocence, Masonry has but extended the principle of an ancient and universal usage, which thus consecrated particular plants, by a mystical meaning, to the representation of particular virtues.

But lastly, the acacia is to be considered as the symbol of Initiation. This is by far the most interesting of its interpretations and was, we have every reason to believe, the primary and original, the others being but incidental. It leads us at once to the investigation of that significant fact to which I have already alluded, that in all the ancient initiations and religious mysteries there was some plant, peculiar to each, which was consecrated by its own esoteric meaning and which occupied an important position in the celebration of the rites, so that the plant, whatever it might be, from its constant and prominent use in the ceremonies of initiation, came at length to be adopted as the symbol of that initiation.

A reference to some of these sacred plants, for such was the character they assumed and an investigation of their symbolism will not, perhaps, be uninteresting or useless, in connection with the subject of the present article.

In the Mysteries of Adonis, which originated in Phoenicia and were afterwards transferred to Greece, the death and resurrection of Adonis was represented. A part of the legend accompanying these mysteries was, that when Adonis was slain by a wild boar, Venus laid out the body on a bed of lettuce. In memorial of this supposed fact, on the first day of the celebration, when funeral rites were performed, lettuces were carried in the procession, newly planted in shells of earth. Hence, the lettuce became the sacred plant of the Adonia, or Adonisian Mysteries.

The lotus was the sacred plant of the Brahminical rites of India, and was considered as the symbol of their elemental trinity, earth, water, and air, because, as an aquatic plant, it derived its nutriment from all of these elements combined, its roots being planted in the earth, its stem rising through the water and its leaves exposed to the air.

["The Hindoos," says Faber, "represent their mundane lotus, as having four large leaves and four small leaves placed alternately, while from the centre of the flower rises a protuberance. Now, the circular cup formed by the eight leaves they deem a symbol of the earth, floating on the surface of the ocean, and consisting of four large continents and four intermediate smaller islands; while the centrical protuberance is viewed by them as representing their sacred Mount Menu."—Communication to Gent. Mag. vol. lxxxvi. p. 408.]

The Egyptians, who borrowed a large portion of their religious rites from the East, adopted the lotus, which was also indigenous to their country, as a mystical plant, and made it the symbol of their initiation, or the birth into celestial light. Hence, as Champollion observes, they often on their monuments represented the god Phre, or the sun, as borne within the expanded calyx of the lotus. The lotus bears a flower similar to that of the poppy, while its large, tongue-shaped leaves float upon the surface of the water. As the Egyptians had remarked that the plant expands when the sun rises, and closes when it sets, they adopted it as a symbol of the sun and as that luminary was the principal object of the popular worship, the lotus became in all their sacred rites a consecrated and mystical plant.

The Egyptians also selected the Erica or heath, as a sacred plant.[The erica arborea or tree heath.] The origin of the consecration of this plant presents us with a singular coincidence, that will be peculiarly interesting to the Masonic student. We are informed that there was a legend in the mysteries of Osiris, which related, that Isis, when in search of the body of her murdered husband, discovered it interred at the brow of a hill, near which an erica, or heath plant, grew; and hence, after the recovery of the body and the resurrection of the god, when she established the mysteries to commemorate her loss and her recovery, she adopted the erica, as a sacred plant,

[Ragon thus alludes to this mystical event: "Isis found the body of Osiris in the neighborhood of Biblos, and near a tall plant called the erica. Oppressed with grief, she seated herself on the margin of a fountain, whose waters issued from a rock. This rock is the small hill mentioned in the ritual; the erica has been replaced by the acacia, and the grief of Isis has been changed for that of the fellow crafts."—Cours des Initiations, p. 151.]

in memory of its having pointed out the spot where the mangled remains of Osiris were concealed.

[ It is singular, and perhaps significant, that the word eriko, in Greek, ἐρίϗω, whence erica is probably derived, means to break in pieces, to mangle.]

The mistletoe was the sacred plant of Druidism. Its consecrated character was derived from a legend of the Scandinavian mythology and which is thus related in the Edda, or sacred books. The god Balder, the son of Odin, having dreamed that he was in some great danger of life, his mother, Friga, exacted an oath from all the creatures of the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral kingdoms, that they would do no harm to her son. The mistletoe, contemptible from its size and weakness, was alone neglected and of it no oath of immunity was demanded. Lok, the evil genius, or god of Darkness, becoming acquainted with this fact, placed an arrow made of mistletoe in the hands of Holder, the blind brother of Balder, on a certain day, when the gods were throwing missiles at him in sport, and wondering at their inability to do him injury with any arms with which they could attack him. But, being shot with the mistletoe arrow, it inflicted a fatal wound, and Balder died. Ever afterwards the mistletoe was revered as a sacred plant, consecrated to the powers of darkness and annually it became an important rite among the Druids to proceed into the forest in search of the mistletoe, which, being found, was cut down by the Arch Druid, and its parts, after a solemn sacrifice, were distributed among the people. Clavel very ingeniously remarks, that it is evident, in reference to the legend, that as Balder symbolizes the Sun-god, and Lok, Darkness, this search for the mistletoe was intended to deprive the god of Darkness of the power of destroying the god of Light.[ Histoire Pittoresque des Religions, t. i. p. 217.]

And the distribution of the fragments of the mistletoe among their pious worshippers, was to assure them that henceforth a similar attempt of Lok would prove abortive and he was thus deprived of the means of effecting his design.

[According to Toland (Works, i. 74), the festival of searching, cutting, and consecrating the mistletoe, took place on the 10th of March, or New Year's day. "This," he says, "is the ceremony to which Virgil alludes, by his golden branch, in the Sixth Book of the Æneid." No doubt of it; for all these sacred plants had a common origin in some ancient and general symbolic idea.]

The myrtle performed the same office of symbolism in the Mysteries of Greece as the lotus did in Egypt, or the mistletoe among the Druids. The candidate, in these initiations, was crowned with myrtle, because, according to the popular theology, the myrtle was sacred to Proserpine, the goddess of the future life. Every classical scholar will remember the golden branch with which Aeneas was supplied by the Sibyl, before proceeding on his journey to the infernal region, a voyage which is now universally admitted to be a mythical representation of the ceremonies of initiation. ["Under this branch is figured the wreath of myrtle, with which the initiated were crowned at the celebration of the Mysteries."—WARBURTON, Divine Legation, vol. i. p. 299.]

In all of these ancient Mysteries, while the sacred plant was a symbol of initiation, the initiation itself was symbolic of the resurrection to a future life, and of the immortality of the soul. In this view, Freemasonry is to us now in the place of the ancient initiations and the acacia is substituted for the lotus, the erica, the ivy, the mistletoe, and the myrtle. The lesson of wisdom is the same; the medium of imparting it is all that has been changed.

Returning, then, to the acacia, we find that it is capable of three explanations. It is a symbol of immortality, of innocence, and of initiation. But these three significations are closely connected, and that connection must be observed, if we desire to obtain a just interpretation of the symbol. Thus, in this one symbol, we are taught that in the initiation of life, of which the initiation in the third-degree is simply emblematic, innocence must for a time lie in the grave, at length, however, to be called, by the word of the Grand Master of the Universe, to a blissful immortality. Combine with this the recollection of the place where the sprig of acacia was planted and which I have heretofore shown to be Mount Calvary, the place of sepulture of Him who "brought life and immortality to light," and who, in Christian Masonry, is designated, as he is in Scripture, as "the lion of the tribe of Judah," and remember, too, that in the mystery of his death, the wood of the cross takes the place of the acacia and in this little and apparently insignificant symbol, but which is really and truly the most important and significant one in Masonic science, we have a beautiful suggestion of all the mysteries of life and death, of time and eternity, of the present and of the future. Thus read (and thus all our symbols should be read), Masonry proves something more to its disciples than a mere social society or a charitable association. It becomes a "lamp to our feet," whose spiritual light shines on the darkness of the deathbed and dissipates the gloomy shadows of the grave.

XXIX. The Symbolism of Labour.

It is one of the most beautiful features of the Masonic Institution, that it teaches not only the necessity, but the nobility, of labor. Among the earliest of the implements in whose emblematic use it instructs its neophytes is the Trestle Board, the acknowledged symbol of the Divine Law, in accordance with whose decree labor was originally instituted as the common lot of all and therefore the important lesson that is closely connected with this symbol is, that to labor well and truly, to labor honestly and persistently, is the object and the chief end of all humanity.

To work out well the task that is set before us is our highest duty, and should constitute our greatest happiness. All men, then, must have their trestle boards; for the principles that guide us in the discharge of our duty, the schemes that we devise, the plans that we propose are but the trestle board, whose designs we follow, for good or for evil, in our labor of life.

Earth works with every coming spring and within its prolific bosom designs the bursting seed, the tender plant and the finished tree, upon its trestle board. Old ocean works forever, restless and murmuring, but still bravely working and storms and tempests, the purifiers of stagnant nature, are inscribed upon its trestle board.

And God himself, the Grand Architect, the Master Builder of the world, has labored from eternity; and working by his omnipotent will, he inscribes his plans upon illimitable space, for the universe is his trestle board.

There was a saying of the monks of old which is well worth meditation. They taught that "laborare est orare"—labor is worship. They did not, it is true, always practise the wise precept. They did not always make labor a part of their religion. Like Onuphrius, who lived threescore years and ten in the desert, without human voice or human sympathy to cheer him, because he had not learned that man was made for man, those old ascetics went into the wilderness, and built cells, and occupied themselves in solitary meditation and profitless thought. They prayed much, but they did no work. And thus they passed their lives, giving no pity, aid, or consolation to their fellow-men, adding no mite to the treasury of human knowledge and leaving the world, when their selfish pilgrimage was finished, without a single contribution, in labor of mind or body, to its welfare.

["In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread." Gen. iii. 19. Bush interprets the decree to mean that "some species of toilsome occupation is the appointed lot of all men."]

And men, seeing the uselessness of these ascetic lives, shrink now from their example and fall back upon that wiser teaching, that he best does God's will, who best does God's work. The world now knows that heaven is not served by man's idleness, that the "dolce far niente," though it might suit an Italian lazzaroni, is not fit for a brave Christian man, and that they who would do rightly, and act well their part, must take this distich for their motto,

"With this hand work, and with the other pray,
And God will bless them both from day to day."

Now, this doctrine, that labor is worship, is the very doctrine that has been advanced and maintained, from time immemorial, as a leading dogma of the Order of Freemasonry. There is no other human institution under the sun, which has set forth this great principle in such bold relief. We hear constantly of Freemasonry as an institution that inculcates morality, that fosters the social feeling, that teaches brotherly love and all this is well, because it is true. But we must never forget that from its foundation-stone to its pinnacle, all over its vast temple, is inscribed, in symbols of living light, the great truth that labor is worship.

It has been supposed that, because we speak of Freemasonry as a speculative system, it has nothing to do with the practical. But this is a most grievous error. Freemasonry is, it is true, a speculative science, but it is a speculative science based upon an operative art. All its symbols and allegories refer to this connection. Its very language is borrowed from the art and it is singularly suggestive that the initiation of a candidate into its mysteries is called, in its peculiar phraseology, work.

I repeat that this expression is singularly suggestive. When the lodge is engaged in reading petitions, hearing reports, debating financial matters, it is said to be occupied in business, but when it is engaged in the form and ceremony of initiation into any of the degrees, it is said to be at work. Initiation is Masonic labor. This phraseology at once suggests the connection of our speculative system with an operative art that preceded it, and upon which it has been founded. This operative art must have given it form and features and organization. If the speculative system had been founded solely on philosophical or ethical principles, if it had been derived from some ancient or modern sect of philosophers, from the Stoics, the Epicureans, or the Platonists of the heathen world, or from any of the many divisions of the scholastics of the middle ages, this origin would most certainly have affected its interior organization as well as its external form and we should have seen our modern Masonic reunions assuming the style of academies or schools. Its technical language for, like every institution isolated from the ordinary and general pursuits of mankind, it would have had its own technical dialect would have been borrowed from and would be easily traced to, the peculiar phraseology of the philosophic sects which had given it birth. There would have been the sophists and the philosophers, the grammatists and the grammarians, the scholars, the masters, and the doctors. It would have had its trivial and its quadrivial schools, its occupation would have been research, experiment, or investigation; in a word, its whole features would have been colored by a grammatical, a rhetorical, or a mathematical cast, accordingly as it should have been derived from a sect in which any one of these three characteristics was the predominating influence.

But in the organization of Freemasonry, as it now presents itself to us, we see an entirely different appearance. Its degrees are expressive, not of advancement in philosophic attainments, but of progress in a purely mechanical pursuit. Its highest grade is that of Master of the Work. Its places of meeting are not schools, but lodges, places where the workmen formerly lodged, in the neighborhood of the building on whose construction they were engaged. It does not form theories, but builds temples. It knows nothing of the rules of the dialecticians, of the syllogism, the dilemma, the enthymeme, or the sorites, but it recurs to the homely implements of its operative parent for its methods of instruction and with the plumb-line it inculcates rectitude of conduct, and draws lessons of morality from the workman's square. It sees in the Supreme God that it worships, not a "numen divinum," a divine power, nor a "moderator rerum omnium," a controller of all things, as the old philosophers designated him, but a Grand Architect of the Universe. The Masonic idea of God refers to Him as the Mighty Builder of this terrestrial globe, and all the countless worlds that surround it. He is not the ens entium, or to theion, or any other of the thousand titles with which ancient and modern speculation has invested him, but simply the Architect, as the Greeks have it, the ἀρχὸς, the chief workman, under whom we are all workmen also and hence our labor is his worship.

[ Aristotle says, "He that cannot contract society with others, or who, through his own self-sufficiency αὐτάρϗειαν, does not need it, forms no part of the community, but is either a wild beast or a god." "Der Arbeiter," says Lenning, "ist der symbolische Name eines Freimaurers"—the Workman is the symbolic name of a Freemason.—Encyclop. der Fraumererei]

This idea, then, of Masonic labor, is closely connected with the history of the organization of the institution. When we say "the lodge is at work," we recognize that it is in the legitimate practice of that occupation for which it was originally intended. The Masons that are in it are not occupied in thinking, or speculating, or reasoning, but simply and emphatically in working. The duty of a Mason as such, in his lodge, is to work. Thereby he accomplishes the destiny of his Order. Thereby he best fulfils his obligation to the Grand Architect, for with the Mason laborare est orare, labor is worship.

The importance of Masonic labor being thus demonstrated, the question next arises as to the nature of that labor. What is the work that a Mason is called upon to perform?

Temple building was the original occupation of our ancient brethren. Leaving out of view that system of ethics and of religious philosophy, that search after truth, those doctrines of the unity of God and the immortality of the soul, which alike distinguish the ancient Mysteries and the Masonic institution and which both must have derived from a common origin, most probably from some priesthood of the olden time, let our attention be exclusively directed, for the present, to that period, so familiar to every Mason, when, under the supposed Grand Mastership of King Solomon, Freemasonry first assumed "a local habitation and a name" in the holy city of Jerusalem. There the labor of the Israelites and the skill of the Tyrians were occupied in the construction of that noble temple whose splendor and magnificence of decoration made it one of the wonders of the world.

Here, then, we see the two united nations directing their attention, with surprising harmony, to the task of temple building. The Tyrian workmen, coming immediately from the bosom of the mystical society of Dionysian artificers, whose sole employment was the erection of sacred edifices throughout all Asia Minor, indoctrinated the Jews with a part of their architectural skill, and bestowed upon them also a knowledge of those sacred Mysteries which they had practised at Tyre, and from which the present interior form of Freemasonry is said to be derived.

Now, if there be any so incredulous as to refuse their assent to the universally received Masonic tradition on this subject, if there be any who would deny all connection of King Solomon with the origin of Freemasonry, except it be in a mythical or symbolical sense, such incredulity will, not at all affect the chain of argument, which I am disposed to use. For it will not be denied that the corporations of builders in the middle ages, those men who were known as "Travelling Freemasons," were substantial and corporeal and that the cathedrals, abbeys, and palaces, whose ruins are still objects of admiration to all observers, bear conclusive testimony, that their existence was nothing like a myth and that their labors were not apocryphal. But these Travelling Freemasons, whether led into the error, if error it be, by a mistaken reading of history, or by a superstitious reverence for tradition, always esteemed King Solomon as the founder of their Order. So that the first absolutely historical details that we have of the Masonic institution, connect it with the idea of a temple. And it is only for this idea that I contend, for it proves that the first Freemasons of whom we have authentic record, whether they were at Jerusalem or in Europe, and whether they flourished a thousand years before or a thousand years after the birth of Christ, always supposed that temple building was the peculiar specialty of their craft and that their labor was to be the erection of temples in ancient times and cathedrals and churches in the Christian age.

So that we come back at last to the proposition with which I had commenced, namely, that temple building was the original occupation of our ancient brethren. And to this is added the fact, that after a long lapse of centuries, a body of men is found in the middle ages, who were universally recognized as Freemasons and who directed their attention and their skill to the same pursuit and were engaged in the construction of cathedrals, abbeys, and other sacred edifices, these being the Christian substitute for the heathen or the Jewish temple. And therefore, when we view the history of the Order as thus developed in its origin and its design, we are justified in saying that, in all times past, its members have been recognized as men of labor and that their labor has been temple building.

But our ancient brethren wrought in both operative and speculative Masonry, while we work only in speculative. They worked with the hand; we work with the brain. They dealt in the material; we in the spiritual. They used in their labor wood and stones, we use thoughts and feelings and affections. We both devote ourselves to labor, but the object of the labor and the mode of the labor are different.

The French rituals have given us the key-note to the explanation of what is Masonic labor when they say that "Freemasons erect temples for virtue and dungeons for vice." The modern Freemasons, like the Masons of old, are engaged in the construction of a temple, but with this difference, that the temple of the latter was material, that of the former spiritual. When the operative art was the predominant characteristic of the Order, Masons were engaged in the construction of material and earthly temples. But when the operative art ceased, and the speculative science took its place, then the Freemasons symbolized the labors of their predecessors by engaging in the construction of a spiritual temple in their hearts, which was to be made so pure that it might become the dwelling-place of Him, who is all purity. It was to be "a house not made with hands," where the hewn stone was to be a purified heart.

This symbolism, which represents man as a temple, a house, a sacred building in which God is to dwell, is not new, nor peculiar to the Masonic science. It was known to the Jewish, and is still recognized by the Christian, system. The Talmudists had a saying that the threefold repetition of the words "Temple of Jehovah," in the seventh chapter and fourth verse of the book of Jeremiah, was intended to allude to the existence of three temples and hence in one of their treatises it is said, "Two temples have been destroyed, but the third will endure forever," in which it is manifest that they referred to the temple of the immortal soul in man.

By a similar allusion, which, however, the Jews chose wilfully to misunderstand, Christ declared, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." And the beloved disciple, who records the conversation, does not allow us to doubt of the Saviour's meaning. "Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? "But he spake of the temple of his body.” [John iii. 19-21.]

In more than one place the apostle Paul has fondly dwelt upon this metaphor. Thus he tells the Corinthians that they are "God's building," and he calls himself the "wise master builder," who was to lay the foundation in his truthful doctrine, upon which they were to erect the edifice.

[I Corinth, iii. 9.]

And he says to them immediately afterwards, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"

In consequence of these teachings of the apostles, the idea that the body was a temple has pervaded, from the earliest times to the present day, the system of Christian or theological symbolism. Indeed, it has sometimes been carried to an almost too fanciful excess. Thus Samuel Lee, in that curious and rare old work, "The Temple of Solomon, pourtrayed by Scripture Light," thus dilates on this symbolism of the temple, "The foundation of this temple may be laid in humility and contrition of spirit, wherein the inhabiter of eternity delighteth to dwell; we may refer the porch to the mouth of a saint, wherein every holy Jacob erects the pillars of God's praise, calling upon and blessing his name for received mercies; when songs of deliverance are uttered from the doors of his lips. The holy place is the renewed mind, and the windows therein may denote divine illumination from above, cautioning a saint lest they be darkened with the smoke of anger, the mist of grief, the dust of vain-glory, or the filthy mire of worldly cares. The golden candlesticks, the infused habits of divine knowledge resting within the soul. The shew-bread, the word of grace exhibited in the promises for the preservation of a Christian's life and glory. The golden altar of odors, the breathings, sufferings, and groanings after God, ready to break forth into Abba, Father. The veiles, the righteousness of Christ. The holy of holies may relate to the conscience purified from dead works and brought into a heavenly frame.” [Orbis Miraculum, or the Temple of Solomon, pourtrayed by Scripture Light, ch. ix. p. 192. London, 1659.]

And thus he proceeds, symbolizing every part and utensil of the temple as alluding to some emotion or affection of man, but in language too tedious for quotation.

In a similar vein has the celebrated John Bunyan, the author of the "Pilgrim's Progress" proceeded in his "Temple of Solomon Spiritualized" to refer every part of that building to a symbolic meaning, selecting, however, the church, or congregation of good men, rather than the individual man, as the object of the symbolism.

In the middle ages the Hermetic philosophers seem to have given the same interpretation of the temple and Swedenborg, in his mystical writings, adopts the idea.

Hitchcock, who has written an admirable little work on Swedenborg considered as a Hermetic Philosopher, thus alludes to this subject, and his language, as that of a learned and shrewd investigator, is well worthy of quotation, "With, perhaps, the majority of readers, the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon were mere buildings; very magnificent indeed, but still mere buildings for the worship of God. But some are struck with many portions of the account of their erection, admitting a moral interpretation; and while the buildings are allowed to stand (or to have stood once) visible objects, these interpreters are delighted to meet with indications that Moses and Solomon, in building the temples, were wise in the knowledge of God and of man; from which point it is not difficult to pass on to the moral meaning altogether, and to affirm that the building which was erected without 'the noise of a hammer or axe, or any tool of iron,' was altogether a moral building, a building of God, not made with hands: in short, many see in the story of Solomon's temple a symbolical representation of MAN as the temple of God, with its holy of holies deep-seated in the centre of the human heart.”

[Swedenborg a Hermetic Philosopher, &c., p. 210. The object of the author is to show that the Swedish sage was an adept, and that his writings may be interpreted from the point of view of Hermetic philosophy.]

The French Masons have not been inattentive to this symbolism. Their already quoted expression that the "Freemasons build temples for virtue and dungeons for vice," has very clearly a reference to it, and their most distinguished writers never lose sight of it.

Thus Ragon, one of the most learned of the French historians of Freemasonry, in his lecture to the Apprentice, says that the founders of our Order "called themselves Masons, and proclaimed that they were building a temple to truth and virtue.”

[Cours Philosophique et Interprétatif des Initiations Anciennes et Modernes, p. 99.]

And subsequently he addresses the candidate who has received the Master's degree in the following language , "Profit by all that has been revealed to you. Improve your heart and your mind. Direct your passions to the general good; combat your prejudices; watch over your thoughts and your actions; love, enlighten, and assist your brethren; and you will have perfected that temple of which you are at once the architect, the material, and the workman."[ Ibid., p. 176]

Rebold, another French historian of great erudition, says, "If Freemasonry has ceased to erect temples, and by the aid of its architectural designs to elevate all hearts to the Deity, and all eyes and hopes to heaven, it has not therefore desisted from its work of moral and intellectual building;" and he thinks that the success of the institution has justified this change of purpose and the disruption of the speculative from the operative character of the Order. [Histoire Générale de la Franc-maçonnerie, p. 52.]

Eliphas Levi, who has written abstrusely and mystically on Freemasonry and its collateral sciences, sees very clearly an allegorical and a real design in the institution, the former being the rebuilding of the temple of Solomon, and the latter the improvement of the human race by a reconstruction of its social and religious elements.

[Histoire de la Magie, liv. v. ch. vii. p. 100.]

The Masons of Germany have elaborated this idea with all the exhaustiveness that is peculiar to the German mind and the Masonic literature of that country abounds in essays, lectures, and treatises, in which the prominent topic is this building of the Solomonic temple as referring to the construction of a moral temple.

Thus writes Bro. Rhode, of Berlin, "So soon as any one has received the consecration of our Order, we say to him that we are building a mystical temple;" and he adds that "this temple which we Masons are building is nothing else than that which will conduce to the greatest possible happiness of mankind.”

[Vorlesung über das Symbol des Tempels, in the "Jarbüchern der Gross. Loge Roy. York zur Freundschaft," cited by Lenning, Encyc., voc. Tempel.]

And another German brother, Von Wedekind, asserts that "we only labor in our temple when we make man our predominating object, when we unite goodness of heart with polished manners, truth with beauty, virtue with grace.”

[ In an Essay on the Masonic Idea of Man's Destination, cited by Lenning, ut supra, from the Altenburg Zeitschift der Freimaurerei.]

Again we have Reinhold telling us, in true Teutonic expansiveness of expression, that "by the mystical Solomonic temple we are to understand the high ideal or archetype of humanity in the best possible condition of social improvement, wherein every evil inclination is overcome, every passion is resolved into the spirit of love, and wherein each for all, and all for each, kindly strive to work.” [ Cited by Lenning, ut sup]

And thus the German Masons call this striving for an almost millennial result labor in the temple.

The English Masons, although they have not treated the symbolism of the Order with the same abstruse investigation that has distinguished those of Germany and France, still have not been insensible to this idea that the building of the Solomonic temple is intended to indicate a cultivation of the human character. Thus Hutchinson, one of the earliest of the symbolic writers of England, shows a very competent conception—for the age in which he lived—of the mystical meaning of the temple; and later writers have improved upon his crude views. It must, however, be acknowledged that neither Hutchinson nor Oliver, nor any other of the distinguished Masonic writers of England, has dwelt on this peculiar symbolism of a moral temple with that earnest appreciation of the idea that is to be found in the works of the French and German Masons. But although the allusions are rather casual and incidental, yet the symbolic theory is evidently recognized.

[Thus Dr. Oliver, while treating of the relation of the temple to the lodge, thus briefly alludes to this important symbol: "As our ancient brethren erected a material temple, without the use of axe, hammer, or metal tool, so is our moral temple constructed."—Historical Landmarks, lect. xxxi.]

Our own country has produced many students of Masonic symbolism, who have thoroughly grasped this noble thought, and treated it with eloquence and erudition. Fifty years ago Salem Towne wrote thus: "Speculative Masonry, according to present acceptation, has an ultimate reference to that spiritual building erected by virtue in the heart, and summarily implies the arrangement and perfection of those holy and sublime principles by which the soul is fitted for a meet temple of God in a world of immortality.’ [System of Speculative Masonry, ch. vi. p. 63]

Charles Scott has devoted one of the lectures in his "Analogy of Ancient Craft Masonry to Natural and Revealed Religion" to a thorough consideration of this subject. The language is too long for quotation, but the symbol has been well interpreted by him. [On the Speculative Temple—an essay read in 1861 before the Grand Lodge of Alabama]

Still more recently, Bro. John A. Loclor has treated the topic in an essay, which I regret has not had a larger circulation. A single and brief passage may show the spirit of the production, and how completely it sustains the idea of this symbolism. “ We may disguise it as we will," says Bro. Lodor, "we may evade a scrutiny of it; but our character, as it is, with its faults and blemishes, its weaknesses and infirmities, its vices and its stains, together with its redeeming traits, its better parts, is our speculative temple." And he goes on to extend the symbolic idea: "Like the exemplar temple on Mount Moriah, it should be preserved as a hallowed shrine, and guarded with the same vigilant care. It should be our pearl of price set round with walls and enclosures, even as was the Jewish temple, and the impure, the vicious, the guilty, and the profane be banished from even its outer courts. A faithful sentinel should be placed at every gate, a watchman on every wall, and the first approach of a cowan and eavesdropper be promptly met and resisted."

Teachings like this are now so common that every American Mason who has studied the symbolism of his Order believes, with Carlyle, that "there is but one temple in the world, and that is the body of man."

This inquiry into the meaning and object of labor, as a Masonic symbol, brings us to these conclusions:-

1. That our ancient brethren worked as long as the operative art predominated in the institution at material temples, the most prominent of these being the temple of King Solomon.

2. That when the speculative science took the place of the operative art, the modern Masons, working no longer at material temples, but holding still to the sacred thought, the reverential idea, of a holy temple, a Lord's house to be built, began to labor at living temples, and to make man, the true house of the Lord, the tabernacle for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And,

3. Therefore to every Freemason who rightly comprehends his art, this construction of a living temple is his labor.

"Labor," says Gadicke, the German Masonic lexicographer, "is an important word in Masonry; indeed, we might say the most important. For this, and this alone, does a man become a Freemason. Every other object is secondary or incidental. Labor is the accustomed design of every lodge meeting. But does such meeting always furnish evidence of industry? The labor of an operative mason will be visible, and he will receive his reward for it, even though the building he has constructed may, in the next hour, be overthrown by a tempest. He knows that he has done his labor. And so must the Freemason labor. His labor must be visible to himself and to his brethren, or, at least, it must conduce to his own internal satisfaction. As we build neither a visible Solomonic temple nor an Egyptian pyramid, our industry must become visible in works that are imperishable, so that when we vanish from the eyes of mortals, it may be said of us that our labor was well done."

And remembering what the apostle has said, that we are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in us, we know that our labor is so to build that temple that it shall become worthy of its divine Dweller.

And thus, too, at last, we can understand the saying of the old monks that "labor is worship;" and as Masons we labor in our lodge, labor to make ourselves a perfect building, without blemish, working hopefully for the consummation, when the house of our earthly tabernacle shall be finished, when the LOST WORD of divine truth shall at last be discovered, and when we shall be found by our own efforts at perfection to have done God service. For so truly is the meaning of those noble words—LABOR IS WORSHIP.

XXX. The Stone of Foundation.

The Stone of Foundation constitutes one of the most important and abstruse of all the symbols of Freemasonry. It is referred to in numerous legends and traditions, not only of the Freemasons, but also of the Jewish Rabbis, the Talmudic writers and even the Mussulman doctors. Many of these, it must be confessed, are apparently puerile and absurd, but some of them and especially the Masonic ones, are deeply interesting in their allegorical signification.

The Stone of Foundation is, properly speaking, a symbol of the higher degrees. It makes its first appearance in the Royal Arch and forms, indeed, the most important symbol of that degree. But it is so intimately connected, in its legendary history, with the construction of the Solomonic temple, that it must be considered as a part of Ancient Craft Masonry, although he who confines the range of his investigations to the first three degrees, will have no means, within that narrow limit, of properly appreciating the symbolism of the Stone of Foundation.

As preliminary to the inquiry which is about to be instituted, it is necessary to distinguish the Stone of Foundation, both in its symbolism and in its legendary history, from other stones, which play an important part in the Masonic ritual, but which are entirely distinct from it. Such are the corner-stone, which was always placed in the north-east corner of the building about to be erected, and to which such a beautiful reference is made in the ceremonies of the first degree; or the keystone, which constitutes an interesting part of the Mark Master's degree; or, lastly, the cape-stone, upon which all the ritual of the Most Excellent Master's degree is founded. These are all, in their proper places, highly interesting and instructive symbols, but have no connection whatever with the Stone of Foundation or its symbolism. Nor, although the Stone of Foundation is said, for peculiar reasons, to have been of a cubical form, must it be confounded with that stone called by the continental Masons the cubical stone, the pierre cubique of the French and the cubik stein of the German Masons, but which in the English system is known as the perfect ashlar.

The Stone of Foundation has a legendary history and a symbolic signification, which are peculiar to itself, and which differ from the history and meaning which belong to these other stones.

Let us first define this Masonic Stone of Foundation, then collate the legends which refer to it, and afterwards investigate its significance as a symbol. To the Mason who takes a pleasure in the study of the mysteries of his institution, the investigation cannot fail to be interesting , if it is conducted with any ability.

But in the very beginning, as a necessary preliminary to any investigation of this kind, it must be distinctly understood that all that is said of this Stone of Foundation in Masonry is to be strictly taken in a mythical or allegorical sense. Dr. Oliver, the most learned of our Masonic writers, while undoubtedly himself knowing that it was simply a symbol, has written loosely of it, as though it were a substantial reality and hence, if the passages in his "Historical Landmarks," and in his other works, which refer to this celebrated stone are accepted by his readers in a literal sense, they will present absurdities and puerilities, which would not occur if the Stone of Foundation was received, as it really is, as a philosophical myth, conveying a most profound and beautiful symbolism. Read in this spirit, as all the legends of Masonry should be read, the mythical story of the Stone of Foundation becomes one of the most important and interesting of all the Masonic symbols.

The Stone of Foundation is supposed, by the theory, which establishes it, to have been a stone placed at one time within the foundations of the temple of Solomon and afterwards, during the building of the second temple, transported to the Holy of Holies. It was in form a perfect cube, and had inscribed upon its upper face, within a delta or triangle, the sacred tetragrammaton, or ineffable name of God. Oliver, speaking with the solemnity of an historian, says that Solomon thought that he had rendered the house of God worthy, so far as human adornment could effect, for the dwelling of God, "when he had placed the celebrated Stone of Foundation, on which the sacred name was mystically engraven, with solemn ceremonies, in that sacred depository on Mount Moriah, along with the foundations of Dan and Asher, the centre of the Most Holy Place, where the ark was overshadowed by the shekinah of God.”[ Hist. Landmarks, i. 459, note 52]

The Hebrew Talmudists, who thought as much of this stone, and had as many legends concerning it as the Masonic Talmudists, called it eben shatijah or "Stone of Foundation," because, as they said, it had been laid by Jehovah as the foundation of the world and hence the apocryphal book of Enoch speaks of the "stone which supports the corners of the earth."[ אבך שתייה See the Gemara and Buxtorf Lex. Talm., p. 2541.]

This idea of a foundation stone of the world was most probably derived from that magnificent passage of the book of Job, in which the Almighty demands of the afflicted patriarch,

"Where wast thou, when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Declare, since thou hast such knowledge!
Who fixed its dimensions, since thou knowest?
Or who stretched out the line upon it?
Upon what were its foundations fixed?
And who laid its corner-stone,
When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?” [
. Job xxxviii. 4-7.]

Noyes, whose beautiful translation I have adopted as not materially differing from the common version, but which is far more poetical and more in the strain of the original, thus explains the allusions to the foundation-stone, "It was the custom to celebrate the laying of the corner-stone of an important building with music, songs, shouting, &c. Hence the morning stars are represented as celebrating the laying of the corner-stone of the earth.” [ A New Translation of the Book of Job, notes, p. 196.]

Upon this meagre statement have been accumulated more traditions than appertain to any other Masonic symbol. The Rabbis, as has already been intimated, divide the glory of these apocryphal histories with the Masons. Indeed, there is good reason for a suspicion that nearly all the Masonic legends owe their first existence to the imaginative genius of the writers of the Jewish Talmud. But there is this difference between the Hebrew and the Masonic traditions, that the Talmudic scholar recited them as truthful histories, and swallowed, in one gulp of faith, all their impossibilities and anachronisms, while the Masonic student has received them as allegories, whose value is not in the facts, but in the sentiments which they convey.

With this understanding of their meaning, let us proceed to a collation of these legends.

In that blasphemous work, the "Toldoth Jeshu" or Life of Jesus, written, it is supposed, in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, we find the following account of this wonderful stone,

"At that time [the time of Jesus] there was in the House of the Sanctuary [that is, the temple] a Stone of Foundation, which is the very stone that our father Jacob anointed with oil, as it is described in the twenty-eighth chapter of the book of Genesis. On that stone the letters of the tetragrammaton were inscribed and whosoever of the Israelites should learn that name would be able to master the world. To prevent, therefore, any one from learning these letters, two iron dogs were placed upon two columns in front of the Sanctuary. If any person, having acquired the knowledge of these letters, desired to depart from the Sanctuary, the barking of the dogs, by magical power, inspired so much fear, that he suddenly forgot what he had acquired."

This passage is cited by the learned Buxtorf, in his "Lexicon Talmudicum;"

[In voc. שתייה, where some other curious extracts from the Talmud and Talmudic writers on the subject of the Stone of Foundation are given]

But in the copy of the "Toldoth Jeshu" which I have the good fortune to possess (for it is among the rarest of books), I find another passage which gives some additional particulars, in the following words:—

"At that time there was in the temple the ineffable name of God, inscribed upon the Stone of Foundation. For when King David was digging the foundation for the temple, he found in the depths of the excavation a certain stone, on which the name of God was inscribed. This stone he removed, and deposited it in the Holy of Holies.”[ Sepher Toldoth Jeshu, p. 6. The abominably scurrilous character of this work aroused the indignation of the Christians, who, in the fifteenth century, were not distinguished for a spirit of tolerance, and the Jews, becoming alarmed, made every effort to suppress it. But, in 1681, it was republished by Wagenselius in his "Tela Ignea Satanae," with a Latin translation.]

It is not pertinent to the present inquiry, but it may be stated as a mere matter of curious information, that this scandalous book, which is throughout a blasphemous defamation of our Saviour, proceeds to say, that he cunningly obtained a knowledge of the tetragrammaton from the Stone of Foundation and by its mystical influence was enabled to perform his miracles.

The Masonic legends of the Stone of Foundation, based on these and other rabbinical reveries, are of the most extraordinary character, if they are to be viewed as histories, but readily reconcilable with sound sense, if looked at only in the light of allegories. They present an uninterrupted succession of events, in which the Stone of Foundation takes a prominent part, from Adam to Solomon, and from Solomon to Zerubbabel.

Thus the first of these legends, in order of time, relates that the Stone of Foundation was possessed by Adam while in the garden of Eden, that he used it as an altar and so reverenced it, that, on his expulsion from Paradise, he carried it with him into the world in which he and his descendants were afterwards to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow.

Another legend informs us that from Adam the Stone of Foundation descended to Seth. From Seth it passed by regular succession to Noah, who took it with him into the ark, and after the subsidence of the deluge, made on it his first thank-offering. Noah left it on Mount Ararat, where it was subsequently found by Abraham, who removed it, and consequently used it as an altar of sacrifice. His grandson Jacob took it with him when he fled to his uncle Laban in Mesopotamia, and used it as a pillow when, in the vicinity of Luz, he had his celebrated vision.

Here there is a sudden interruption in the legendary history of the stone, and we have no means of conjecturing how it passed from the possession of Jacob into that of Solomon. Moses, it is true, is said to have taken it with him out of Egypt at the time of the exodus, and thus it may have finally reached Jerusalem. Dr. Adam Clarke [Comment, on Gen. xxviii. 18.] repeats what he very properly calls "a foolish tradition," that the stone on which Jacob rested his head was afterwards brought to Jerusalem, thence carried after a long lapse of time to Spain, from Spain to Ireland, and from Ireland to Scotland, where it was used as a seat on which the kings of Scotland sat to be crowned. Edward I., we know, brought a stone, to which this legend is attached, from Scotland to Westminster Abbey, where, under the name of Jacob's Pillow, it still remains, and is always placed under the chair upon which the British sovereign sits to be crowned, because there is an old distich which declares that wherever this stone is found the Scottish kings shall reign. ["Ni fallit fatum, Scoti quocunque locatum Invenient lapidem, regnare tenentur ibidem."] But this Scottish tradition would take the Stone of Foundation away from all its Masonic connections, and therefore it is rejected as a Masonic legend.

The legends just related are in many respects contradictory and unsatisfactory, and another series, equally as old, are now very generally adopted by Masonic scholars, as much better suited to the symbolism by which all these legends are explained.

This series of legends commences with the patriarch Enoch, who is supposed to have been the first consecrator of the Stone of Foundation. The legend of Enoch is so interesting and important in Masonic science as to excuse something more than a brief reference to the incidents, which it details.

The legend in full is as follows. Enoch, under the inspiration of the Most High, and in obedience to the instructions which he had received in a vision, built a temple under ground on Mount Moriah, and dedicated it to God. His son, Methuselah, constructed the building, although he was not acquainted with his father's motives for the erection. This temple consisted of nine vaults, situated perpendicularly beneath each other, and communicating by apertures left in each vault. Enoch then caused a triangular plate of gold to be made, each side of which was a cubit long; he enriched it with the most precious stones, and encrusted the plate upon a stone of agate of the same form. On the plate he engraved the true name of God, or the tetragrammaton, and placing it on a cubical stone, known thereafter as the Stone of Foundation, he deposited the whole within the lowest arch.

When this subterranean building was completed, he made a door of stone, and attaching to it a ring of iron, by which it might be occasionally raised, he placed it over the opening of the uppermost arch, and so covered it that the aperture could not be discovered. Enoch himself was not permitted to enter it but once a year, and after the days of Enoch, Methuselah, and Lamech, and the destruction of the world by the deluge, all knowledge of the vault or subterranean temple, and of the Stone of Foundation, with the sacred and ineffable name inscribed upon it, was lost for ages to the world.

At the building of the first temple of Jerusalem, the Stone of Foundation again makes its appearance. Reference has already been made to the Jewish tradition that David, when digging the foundations of the temple, found in the excavation which he was making a certain stone, on which the ineffable name of God was inscribed, and which stone he is said to have removed and deposited in the Holy of Holies. That King David laid the foundations of the temple upon which the superstructure was subsequently erected by Solomon, is a favorite theory of the legend-mongers of the Talmud.

The Masonic tradition is substantiallv the same as the Jewish, but it substitutes Solomon for David, thereby giving a greater air of probability to the narrative and it supposes that the stone thus discovered by Solomon was the identical one that had been deposited in his secret vault by Enoch. This Stone of Foundation, the tradition states, was subsequently removed by King Solomon, and, for wise purposes, deposited in a secret and safer place.

In this, the Masonic tradition again agrees with the Jewish, for we find in the third chapter of the "Treatise on the Temple" written by the celebrated Maimonides, the following narrative,

"There was a stone in the Holy of Holies, on its west side, on which was placed the ark of the covenant, and before it the pot of manna and Aaron's rod. But when Solomon had built the temple, and foresaw that it was, at some future time, to be destroyed, he constructed a deep and winding vault under ground, for the purpose of concealing the ark, wherein Josiah afterwards, as we learn in the Second Book of Chronicles, xxxv. 3, deposited it, with the pot of manna, the rod of Aaron, and the oil of anointing."

The Talmudical book "Yoma" gives the same tradition, and says that "the ark of the covenant was placed in the centre of the Holy of Holies, upon a stone rising three fingers' breadth above the floor, to be, as it were, a pedestal for it."

"This stone," says Prideaux, "the Rabbins call the Stone of Foundation, and give us a great deal of trash about it." [Old and New Testament connected, vol. i. p. 148.]

There is much controversy as to the question of the existence of any ark in the second temple. Some of the Jewish writers assert that a new one was made; others, that the old one was found where it had been concealed by Solomon; and others again contend that there was no ark at all in the temple of Zerubbabel, but that its place was supplied by the Stone of Foundation on which it had originally rested.

Royal Arch Masons well know how all these traditions are sought to be reconciled by the Masonic legend, in which the substitute ark and the Stone of Foundation play so important a part.

In the thirteenth degree of the Ancient and Accepted Rite, the Stone of Foundation is conspicuous as the resting-place of the sacred delta.

In the Royal Arch and Select Master's degrees of the Americanized York Rite, the Stone of Foundation constitutes the most important part of the ritual. In both of these it is the receptacle of the ark, on which the ineffable name is inscribed.

Lee, in his "Temple of Solomon", has devoted a chapter to this Stone of Foundation, and thus recapitulates the Talmudic and Rabbinical traditions on the subject, "Vain and futilous are the feverish dreams of the ancient Rabbis concerning the Foundation Stone of the temple. Some assert that God placed this stone in the centre of the world, for a future basis and settled consistency for the earth to rest upon. Others held this stone to be the first matter, out of which all the beautiful visible beings of the world have been hewn forth and produced to light. Others relate that this was the very same stone laid by Jacob for a pillow under his head, in that night when he dreamed of an angelic vision at Bethel, and afterwards anointed and consecrated it to God. Which when Solomon had found (no doubt by forged revelation, or some tedious search, like another Rabbi Selemoh), he durst not but lay it sure, as the principal foundation stone of the temple. Nay, they say further, he caused to be engraved upon it the tetragrammaton, or the ineffable name of Jehovah.”

[ Old and New Testament connected, vol. i. p. 148.]

It will be seen that the Masonic traditions on the subject of the Stone of Foundation do not differ very materially from these Rabbinical ones, although they give a few additional circumstances. In the Masonic legend, the Foundation Stone first makes its appearance, as I have already said, in the days of Enoch, who placed it in the bowels of Mount Moriah. There it was subsequently discovered by King Solomon, who deposited it in a crypt of the first temple, where it remained concealed until the foundations of the second temple were laid, when it was discovered and removed to the Holy of Holies. But the most important point of the legend of the Stone of Foundation is its intimate and constant connection with the tetragrammaton, or ineffable name. It is this name, inscribed upon it, within the sacred and symbolic delta, that gives to the stone all its Masonic value and significance. It is upon this fact, that it was so inscribed, that its whole symbolism depends.

Looking at these traditions in anything like the light of historical narratives, we are compelled to consider them, to use the plain language of Lee, "but as so many idle and absurd conceits." We must go behind the legend, viewing it only as an allegory, and study its symbolism.

The symbolism of the Foundation Stone of Masonry is therefore the next subject of investigation.

In approaching this, the most abstruse, and one of the most important, symbols of the Order, we are at once impressed with its apparent connection with the ancient doctrine of stone worship. Some brief consideration of this species of religious culture is therefore necessary for a proper understanding of the real symbolism of the Stone of Foundation.

The worship of stones is a kind of fetichism, which in the very infancy of religion prevailed, perhaps, more extensively than any other form of religious culture. Lord Kames explains the fact by supposing that stones erected as monuments of the dead became the place where posterity paid their veneration to the memory of the deceased and that at length the people, losing sight of the emblematical signification, which was not readily understood, these monumental stones became objects of worship.

Others have sought to find the origin of stone worship in the stone that was set up and anointed by Jacob at Bethel, and the tradition of which had extended into the heathen nations and become corrupted. It is certain that the Phoenicians worshipped sacred stones under the name of Baetylia, which word is evidently derived from the Hebrew Bethel and this undoubtedly gives some appearance of plausibility to the theory.

But a third theory supposes that the worship of stones was derived from the unskilfulness of the primitive sculptors, who, unable to frame, by their meagre principles of plastic art, a true image of the God whom they adored, were content to substitute in its place a rude or scarcely polished stone. Hence the Greeks, according to Pausanias, originally used unhewn stones to represent their deities, thirty of which that historian says he saw in the city of Pharas. These stones were of a cubical form, and as the greater number of them were dedicated to the god Hermes, or Mercury, they received the generic name of Hermaa. Subsequently, with the improvement of the plastic art, the head was added. [See Pausanias, lib. iv.]

One of these consecrated stones was placed before the door of almost every house in Athens. They were also placed in front of the temples, in the gymnasia or schools, in libraries, and at the corners of streets, and in the roads. When dedicated to the god Terminus they were used as landmarks, and placed as such upon the concurrent lines of neighboring possessions.

The Thebans worshipped Bacchus under the form of a rude, square stone. Arnobius says that Cybele was represented by a small stone of a black color.

[ "Disputationes adversus Gentes" of Arnobius supplies us with a fund of information on the symbolism of the classic mythology.]

Eusebius cites Porphyry as saying that the ancients represented the deity by a black stone, because his nature is obscure and inscrutable. The reader will here be reminded of the black stone Hadsjar el Aswad, placed in the south-west corner of the Kaaba at Mecca, which was worshipped by the ancient Arabians, and is still treated with religious veneration by the modern Mohammedans. The Mussulman priests, however, say that it was originally white, and of such surprising splendor that it could be seen at the distance of four days' journey, but that it has been blackened by the tears of pilgrims.

The Druids, it is well known, had no other images of their gods but cubical, or sometimes columnar, stones, of which Toland gives several instances.

The Chaldeans had a sacred stone, which they held in great veneration, under the name of Mnizuris, and to which they sacrificed for the purpose of evoking the Good Demon.

Stone worship existed among the early American races. Squier quotes Skinner as asserting that the Peruvians used to set up rough stones in their fields and plantations, which were worshipped as protectors of their crops. And Gam a says that in Mexico the presiding god of the spring was often represented without a human body, and in place thereof a pilaster or square column, whose pedestal was covered with various sculptures.

Indeed, so universal was this stone worship, that Higgins, in his "Celtic Druids," says that, "throughout the world the first object of idolatry seems to have been a plain, unwrought stone, placed in the ground, as an emblem of the generative or procreative powers of nature." And the learned Bryant, in his "Analysis of Ancient Mythology," asserts that "there is in every oracular temple some legend about a stone."

Without further citations of examples from the religious usages of other countries, it will, I think, be conceded that the cubical stone formed an important part of the religious worship of primitive nations. But Cudworth, Bryant, Faber, and all other distinguished writers who have treated the subject, have long since established the theory that the pagan religions were eminently symbolic. Thus, to use the language of Dudley, the pillar or stone "was adopted as a symbol of strength and firmness, a symbol, also, of the divine power, and, by a ready inference, a symbol or idol of the Deity himself.” [Naology, ch. iii. p. 119]

And this symbolism is confirmed by Cornutus, who says that the god Hermes was represented without hands or feet, being a cubical stone, because the cubical figure betokened his solidity and stability. [Cornut. de Nat. Deor. c. 16]

Thus, then, the following facts have been established, but not precisely in this order. First, that there was a very general prevalence among the earliest nations of antiquity of the worship of stones as the representatives of Deity. Secondly, that in almost every ancient temple there was a legend of a sacred or mystical stone. Thirdly, that this legend is found in the Masonic system and lastly, that the mystical stone there has received the name of the "Stone of Foundation."

Now, as in all the other systems the stone is admitted to be symbolic, and the tradition connected with it mystical, we are compelled to assume the same predicates of the Masonic stone. It, too, is symbolic, and its legend a myth or an allegory.

Of the fable, myth, or allegory, Bailly has said that, "subordinate to history and philosophy, it only deceives that it may the better instruct us. Faithful in preserving the realities which are confided to it, it covers with its seductive envelope the lessons of the one and the truths of the other.’ [Essais sur les Fables, t. i. lett. 2. p. 9]

It is from this stand point that we are to view the allegory of the Stone of Foundation, as developed in one of the most interesting and important symbols of Masonry.

The fact that the mystical stone in all the ancient religions was a symbol of the Deity, leads us necessarily to the conclusion that the Stone of Foundation was also a symbol of Deity. And this symbolic idea is strengthened by the tetragrammaton, or sacred name of God, that was inscribed upon it. This ineffable name sanctifies the stone upon which it is engraved as the symbol of the Grand Architect. It takes from it its heathen signification as an idol and consecrates it to the worship of the true God.

The predominant idea of the Deity, in the Masonic system, connects him with his creative and formative power. God is, to the Freemason, Al Gabil, as the Arabians called him, that is, The Builder; or, as expressed in his Masonic title, the Grand Architect of the Universe, by common consent abbreviated in the formula G.A.O.T.U. Now, it is evident that no symbol could so appropriately suit him in this character as the Stone of Foundation, upon which he is allegorically supposed to have erected his world. Such a symbol closely connects the creative work of God, as a pattern and exemplar, with the workman's erection of his temporal building on a similar foundation stone.

But this Masonic idea is still further to be extended. The great object of all Masonic labor is divine truth. The search for the lost word is the search for truth. But divine truth is a term synonymous with God. The ineffable name is a symbol of truth, because God, and God alone, is truth. It is properly a scriptural idea. The Book of Psalms abounds with this sentiment. Thus it is said that the truth of the Lord "reacheth unto the clouds," and that "his truth endureth unto all generations." If, then, God is truth, and the Stone of Foundation is the Masonic symbol of God, it follows that it must also be the symbol of divine truth.

When we have arrived at this point in our speculations, we are ready to show how all the myths and legends of the Stone of Foundation may be rationally explained as parts of that beautiful "science of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols," which is the acknowledged definition of Freemasonry.

In the Masonic system there are two temples. The first temple, in which the degrees of Ancient Craft Masonry are concerned and the second temple, with which the higher degrees and especially the Royal Arch, are related. The first temple is symbolic of the present life. The second temple is symbolic of the life to come. The first temple, the present life, must be destroyed and on its foundations the second temple, the life eternal, must be built.

But the mystical stone was placed by King Solomon in the foundations of the first temple. That is to say, the first temple of our present life must be built on the sure foundation of divine truth, "for other foundation can no man lay."

But although the present life is necessarily built upon the foundation of truth, yet we never thoroughly attain it in this sublunary sphere. The Foundation Stone is concealed in the first temple, and the Master Mason knows it not. He has not the true word. He receives only a substitute.

But in the second temple of the future life, we have passed from the grave, which had been the end of our labors in the first. We have removed the rubbish, and have found that Stone of Foundation which had been hitherto concealed from our eyes. We now throw aside the substitute for truth which had contented us in the former temple, and the brilliant effulgence of the tetragrammaton and the Stone of Foundation are discovered, and thenceforth we are the possessors of the true word, of divine truth. And in this way, the Stone of Foundation, or divine truth, concealed in the first temple, but discovered and brought to light in the second, will explain that passage of the apostle, "For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

And so, the result of this inquiry is, that the Masonic Stone of Foundation is a symbol of divine truth, upon which all Speculative Masonry is built and the legends and traditions which refer to it are intended to describe, in an allegorical way, the progress of truth in the soul, the search for which is a Mason's labor and the discovery of which is his reward.

XXXI.--The Lost Word.

The last of the symbols, depending for its existence on its connection with a myth to which I shall invite attention, is the Lost Word, and the search for it. Very appropriately may this symbol terminate our investigations, since it includes within its comprehensive scope all the others, being itself the very essence of the science of masonic symbolism. The other symbols require for their just appreciation a knowledge of the origin of the order, because they owe their birth to its relationship with kindred and anterior institutions. But the symbolism of the Lost Word has reference exclusively to the design and the objects of the institution.

First, let us define the symbol, and then investigate its interpretation.

The mythical history of Freemasonry informs us that there once existed a WORD of surpassing value, and claiming a profound veneration; that this Word was known to but few; that it was at length lost; and that a temporary substitute for it was adopted. But as the very philosophy of Masonry teaches us that there can be no death without a resurrection, no decay without a subsequent restoration, on the same principle, it follows that the loss of the Word must suppose its eventual recovery.

Now, this it is, precisely, that constitutes the myth of the Lost Word and the search for it. No matter what was the word, no matter how it was lost, nor why a substitute was provided, nor when nor where it was recovered. These are all points of subsidiary importance, necessary, it is true, for knowing the legendary history, but not necessary for understanding the symbolism. The only term of the myth that is to be regarded in the study of its interpretation, is the abstract idea of a word lost and afterwards recovered.

This, then, points us to the goal to which we must direct our steps in the pursuit of the investigation.

But the symbolism, referring in this case, as I have already said, solely to the great design of Freemasonry, the nature of that design at once suggests itself as a preliminary subject of inquiry in the investigation.

What, then, is the design of Freemasonry? A very large majority of its disciples, looking only to its practical results, as seen in the every day business of life, to the noble charities which it dispenses, to the tears of widows which it has dried, to the cries of orphans which it has hushed, to the wants of the destitute which it has supplied, arrive with too much rapidity at the conclusion that Charity, and that, too, in its least exalted sense of eleemosynary aid, is the great design of the institution.

Others, with a still more contracted view, remembering the pleasant reunions at their lodge banquets, the unreserved communications which are thus encouraged, and the solemn obligations of mutual trust and confidence that are continually inculcated, believe that it was intended solely to promote the social sentiments and cement the bonds of friendship.

But, although the modern lectures inform us that Brotherly Love and Relief are two of "the principal tenets of a Mason's profession," yet, from the same authority, we learn that Truth is a third and not less important one and Truth, too, not in its old Anglo-Saxon meaning of fidelity to engagements, but in that more strictly philosophical one in which it is opposed to intellectual and religious error or falsehood.[ Bosworth (Aug. Sax. Dict.) defines treowth to signify "troth, truth, treaty, league, pledge, covenant."]

But I have shown that the Primitive Freemasonry of the ancients was instituted for the purpose of preserving that truth which had been originally communicated to the patriarchs, in all its integrity, and that the Spurious Masonry, or the Mysteries, originated in the earnest need of the sages, and philosophers, and priests, to find again the same truth which had been lost by the surrounding multitudes. I have shown, also, that this same truth continued to be the object of the Temple Masonry, which was formed by a union of the Primitive, or Pure, and the Spurious systems. Lastly, I have endeavored to demonstrate that this truth related to the nature of God and the human soul.

The search, then, after this truth, I suppose to constitute the end and design of Speculative Masonry. From the very commencement of his career, the aspirant is by significant symbols and expressive instructions directed to the acquisition of this divine truth and the whole lesson, if not completed in its full extent, is at least well developed in the myths and legends of the Master's degree. God and the soul, the unity of the one and the immortality of the other, are the great truths, the search for which is to constitute the constant occupation of every Mason, and which, when found, are to become the chief corner-stone, or the stone of foundation, of the spiritual temple, "the house not made with hands", which he is engaged in erecting.

Now, this idea of a search after truth forms so prominent a part of the whole science of Freemasonry, that I conceive no better or more comprehensive answer could be given to the question, What is Freemasonry? than to say that it is a science, which is engaged in the search after divine truth.

But Freemasonry is eminently a system of symbolism, and all its instructions are conveyed in symbols. It is, therefore, to be supposed that so prominent and so prevailing an idea as this, one that constitutes, as I have said, the whole design of the institution, and which may appropriately be adopted as the very definition of its science, could not with any consistency be left without its particular symbol.

The Word, therefore, I conceive to be the symbol of Divine Truth; and all its modifications, the loss, the substitution and the recovery are but component parts of the mythical symbol which represents a search after truth.

How, then, is this symbolism preserved? How is the whole history of this Word to be interpreted, so as to bear, in all its accidents of time, and place, and circumstance, a patent reference to the substantive idea that has been symbolized?

The answers to these questions embrace what is, perhaps, the most intricate as well as most ingenious and interesting portion of the science of masonic symbolism.

This symbolism may be interpreted, either in an application to a general or to a special sense.

The general application will embrace the whole history of Freemasonry, from its inception to its consummation. The search after the Word is an epitome of the intellectual and religious progress of the order, from the period when, by the dispersion at Babel, the multitudes were enshrouded in the profundity of a moral darkness where truth was apparently forever extinguished. The true name of God was lost; his true nature was not understood; the divine lessons imparted by our father Noah were no longer remembered; the ancient traditions were now corrupted; the ancient symbols were perverted. Truth was buried beneath the rubbish of Sabaism, and the idolatrous adoration of the sun and stars had taken the place of the olden worship of the true God. A moral darkness was now spread over the face of the earth, as a dense, impenetrable cloud, which obstructed the rays of the spiritual sun, and covered the people as with a gloomy pall of intellectual night.

But this night was not to last forever. A brighter dawn was to arise, and amidst all this gloom and darkness there were still to be found a few sages in whom the religious sentiment, working in them with powerful throes, sent forth manfully to seek after truth. There were, even in those days of intellectual and religious darkness, craftsmen who were willing to search for the Lost Word. And though they were unable to find it, their approximation to truth was so near that the result of their search may well be symbolized by the Substitute Word.

It was among the idolatrous multitudes that the Word had been lost. It was among them that the Builder had been smitten, and that the works of the spiritual temple had been suspended; and so, losing at each successive stage of their decline, more and more of the true knowledge of God and of the pure religion which had originally been imparted by Noah, they finally arrived at gross materialism and idolatry, losing all sight of the divine existence. Thus it was that the truth, the Word was said to have been lost; or, to apply the language of Hutchinson, modified in its reference to the time, "in this situation, it might well be said that the guide to heaven was lost, and the master of the works of righteousness was smitten. The nations had given themselves up to the grossest idolatry, and the service of the true God was effaced from the memory of those who had yielded themselves to the dominion of sin."

And now it was among the philosophers and priests in the ancient Mysteries, or the spurious Freemasonry, that an anxiety to discover the truth led to the search for the Lost Word. These were the craftsmen who saw the fatal-blow which had been given, who knew that the Word was now lost, but were willing to go forth, manfully and patiently, to seek its restoration. And there were the craftsmen who, failing to rescue it from the grave of oblivion into which it had fallen, by any efforts of their own incomplete knowledge, fell back upon the dim traditions which had been handed down from primeval times, and through their aid found a substitute for truth in their own philosophical religions.

And hence Schmidtz, speaking of these Mysteries of the pagan world, calls them the remains of the ancient Pelasgian religion, and says that "the associations of persons for the purpose of celebrating them must therefore have been formed at the time when the overwhelming influence of the Hellenic religion began to gain the upper hand in Greece, and when persons who still entertained a reverence for the worship of former times united together, with the intention of preserving and upholding among themselves as much as possible of the religion of their forefathers."

Applying, then, our interpretation in a general sense, the Word itself being the symbol of Divine Truth, the narrative of its loss and the search for its recovery becomes a mythical symbol of the decay and loss of the true religion among the ancient nations, at and after the dispersion on the plains of Shinar, and of the attempts of the wise men, the philosophers, and priests, to find and retain it in their secret Mysteries and initiations, which have hence been designated as the Spurious Freemasonry of Antiquity.

But I have said that there is a special, or individual, as well as a general interpretation. This compound or double symbolism, if I may so call it, is by no means unusual in Freemasonry. I have already exhibited an illustration of it in the symbolism of Solomon's temple, where, in a general sense, the temple is viewed as a symbol of that spiritual temple formed by the aggregation of the whole order, and in which each mason is considered as a stone; and, in an individual or special sense, the same temple is considered as a type of that spiritual temple which each mason is directed to erect in his heart.

Now, in this special or individual interpretation, the Word, with its accompanying myth of a loss, a substitute, and a recovery, becomes a symbol of the personal progress of a candidate from his first initiation to the completion of his course, when he receives a full development of the Mysteries.

The aspirant enters on this search after truth, as an Entered Apprentice, in darkness, seeking for light, the light of wisdom, the light of truth, the light symbolized by the Word. For this important task, upon which he starts forth gropingly, falteringly, doubtingly, in want and in weakness, he is prepared by a purification of the heart, and is invested with a first substitute for the true Word, which, like the pillar that went before the Israelites in the wilderness, is to guide him onwards in his weary journey. He is directed to take, as a staff and scrip for his journey, all those virtues which expand the heart and dignify the soul. Secrecy, obedience, humility, trust in God, purity of conscience, economy of time, are all inculcated by impressive types and symbols, which connect the first degree with the period of youth.

And then, next in the degree of Fellow Craft, he fairly enters upon his journey. Youth has now passed, and manhood has come on. New duties and increased obligations press upon the individual. The thinking and working stage of life is here symbolized. Science is to be cultivated; wisdom is to be acquired; the lost Word—divine truth—is still to be sought for. But even yet it is not to be found.

And now the Master Mason comes, with all the symbolism around him of old age, trials, sufferings, death. And here, too, the aspirant, pressing onward, always onward, still cries aloud for "light, more light." The search is almost over, but the lesson, humiliating to human nature, is to be taught, that in this life, gloomy and dark, earthly and carnal, pure truth has no abiding place; and contented with a substitute, and to that second temple of eternal life, for that true Word, that divine Truth, which will teach us all that we shall ever learn of God and his emanation, the human soul.

So, the Master Mason, receiving this substitute for the lost Word, waits with patience for the time when it shall be found, and perfect wisdom shall be attained.

But, work as we will, this symbolic Word, this knowledge of divine Truth is never thoroughly attained in this life, or in its symbol, the Master Mason's lodge. The corruptions of mortality, which encumber and cloud the human intellect, hide it, as with a thick veil, from mortal eyes. It is only, as I have just said, beyond the tomb, and when released from the earthly burden of life, that man is capable of fully receiving and appreciating the revelation. Hence, then, when we speak of the recovery of the Word, in that higher degree which is a supplement to Ancient Craft Masonry, we intimate that that sublime portion of the masonic system is a symbolic representation of the state after death. For it is only after the decay and fall of this temple of life, which, as masons, we have been building, that from its ruins, deep beneath its foundations, and in the profound abyss of the grave, we find that divine truth, in the search for which life was spent, if not in vain, at least without success, and the mystic key to which death only could supply.

And now we know by this symbolism what is meant by masonic labor, which, too, is itself but another form of the same symbol. The search for the Word, to find divine Truth, this, and this only, is a mason's work, and the WORD is his reward.

Labor, said the old monks, is worship, laborare est orare and thus in our lodges do we worship, working for the Word, working for the Truth, ever looking forward, casting no glance behind, but cheerily hoping for the consummation and the reward of our labor in the knowledge which is promised to him who plays no laggard's part.

Goethe, himself a mason and a poet, knew and felt all this symbolism of a mason's life and work, when he wrote that beautiful poem, which Carlyle has thus thrown into his own rough but impulsive language.

"The mason's ways are
A type of existence,—
And to his persistence
Is as the days are
Of men in this world.

"The future hides in it
Gladness and sorrow;
We press still thorow,
Nought that abides in it
Daunting us—onward.

"And solemn before us
Veiled the dark portal,
Goal of all mortal;
Stars silent rest o'er us
Graves under us silent.

"While earnest thou gazest
Come boding of terror,
Comes phantasm and error,
Perplexing the bravest
With doubt and misgiving.

"But heard are the voices,
Heard are the sages,
The worlds and the ages;
'Choose well; your choice is
Brief and yet endless.

"'Here eyes do regard you,
In eternity's stillness;
Here is all fullness,
Ye, brave to reward you;
Work and despair not.'"

And now, in concluding this work, so inadequate to the importance of the subjects that have been discussed, one deduction, at least, may be drawn from all that has been said.

In tracing the progress of Freemasonry, and in detailing its system of symbolism, it has been found to be so intimately connected with the history of philosophy, of religion and of art, in all ages of the world, that the conviction at once forces itself upon the mind, that no mason can expect thoroughly to comprehend its nature, or to appreciate its character as a science, unless he shall devote himself, with some labor and assiduity, to this study of its system. That skill which consists in repeating, with fluency and precision, the ordinary lectures, in complying with all the ceremonial requisitions of the ritual, or the giving, with sufficient accuracy, the appointed modes of recognition, pertains only to the very rudiments of the masonic science.

But there is a far nobler series of doctrines with which Freemasonry is connected, and which it has been my object, in this work, to present in some imperfect way. It is these, which constitute the science and the philosophy of Freemasonry and it is these alone which will return the student who devotes himself to the task, a sevenfold reward for his labor.

Freemasonry, viewed no longer, as too long it has been, as a merely social institution, has now assumed its original and undoubted position as a speculative science. While the mere ritual is still carefully preserved, as the casket should be which contains so bright a jewel; while its charities are still dispensed as the necessary though incidental result of all its moral teachings; while its social tendencies are still cultivated as the tenacious cement which is to unite so fair a fabric in symmetry and strength, the masonic mind is everywhere beginning to look and ask for something, which, like the manna in the desert, shall feed us, in our pilgrimage, with intellectual food. The universal cry, throughout the masonic world, is for light; our lodges are henceforth to be schools; our labor is to be study; our wages are to be learning; the types and symbols, the myths and allegories, of the institution are beginning to be investigated with reference to their ultimate meaning; our history is now traced by zealous inquiries as to its connection with antiquity; and Freemasons now thoroughly understand that often quoted definition, that "Masonry is a science of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols."

Thus to learn Masonry is to know our work and to do it well. What true mason would shrink from the task?

[Bro.Dr.Albert Gallatin Mackey. M.D., the distinguished Author, graduated from the Medical College in Charleston in South Carolina and took the M.D, degree. He was initiated in St.Andrews Lodge (No.10), which later affiliated with Solomon’s Lodge (No.1), of which he was installed as the W.M in 1842. The same year he joined the South Carolina Encampment (No.1) of which he was installed as the Commander in 1844.On joining the Scottish Rite, he was crowned as the Sovereign Grand Inspector General and later he assumed the post of Secretary General of the Ancient and Accepted Scottisn Rite of the Southern Jurisdiction and functioned as such till he died in 1881. Bro.A.G.Mackey was an eminent scholar. He had held many senior posts in the Grand Lodge, including the posts of the Grand Lecturer. He was the Grand Secretary of The Grand Lodge of South Carolina, from 1844 to 1867. His famous publications include, "The Lexicon of Freemasonry," "The Mystic Tie," "Legends and Traditions of Freemasonry" ,“The History of Freemasonry” and “The Encyclopedia of Freemasonry”, about which the eminent Masonic writer and Historian Bro.R.F.Gould has observed that, “ Dr.Mackey, whose admirable Encyclopedia seems to contain the substance of everything of a Masonic character that had yet been published”, then. The remaining parts of The other books authored by him will be posted shortly.]


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