Webb's Masonic Monitor
Thomas Smith Webb,
Remarks on the First
WE shall now enter on a disquisition of the
different sections of the lectures appropriated to the several degrees of
Masonry, giving a brief summary of the whole, and annexing to every remark
the particulars to which the section alludes.
By these means the industrious Mason will
be instructed in the regular arrangement of the sections in each lecture,
and be enabled with more ease to acquire a knowledge of the art.
The first lecture of Masonry is divided
into three sections, and each section into different clauses. Virtue is
painted in the most beautiful colors, and the duties of morality are
enforced. In it we are taught such useful lessons as prepare the mind for
a regular advancement in the principles of knowledge and philosophy. These
are imprinted on the memory by lively and sensible images, to influence
our conduct in the proper discharges of the duties of social life.
The First Section
In this lecture is suited to all
capacities, and may and ought to be known by every person who ranks as a
Mason. It consists of general heads, which, though short and simple, carry
weight with them. They not only serve as marks of distinction, but
communicate useful and interesting knowledge, when they are duly
investigated. They qualify us to try and examine the rights of others to
our privileges, while they prove ourselves; and, as they induce us to
inquire more minutely into other particulars of greater importance, they
serve as an introduction to subjects more amply explained in the following
Used at the Initiation
of a Candidate.
VOUCHSAFE thine aid, Almighty Father of
the Universe, to this our present convention; and grant that this
candidate for Masonry may dedicate and devote his life to thy service,
and become a true and faithful brother among us! Indue him with a
competency of thy Divine wisdom, that, by the secrets of our art, he may
be better enabled to display the beauties of brotherly love, relief, and
truth, to the honor of thy holy name! Amen.
It is a duty incumbent on every Master of a
Lodge, before the ceremony of initiation takes place, to inform the
candidate of the purpose and design of the institution; to explain the
nature of his solemn engagements; and, in a manner peculiar to Masons
alone, to require his cheerful acquiescence to the duties of morality and
virtue, and all the sacred tenets of the Order.
BEHOLD! how good and how pleasant it is
for brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious ointment upon the
head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down
to the skirts of his garments:
As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that
descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the
blessing, even life for evermore.
Toward the close of the section is
explained that peculiar ensign of Masonry,
Or white leather apron, which is
an emblem of innocence, and the badge of a Mason: more ancient than the
Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle; more honorable than the Star and Garter,
or any other Order that could be conferred upon the candidate at the
time of his initiation, or at any time thereafter, by king, prince,
any other person, except he be a Mason;
and which every one ought to wear with equal pleasure to himself, and
honor to the Fraternity.
This section closes with an explanation
of the working tools and implements of an entered apprentice,
which are, the twenty-four-inch gauge and the common gavel.
THE TWENTY-FOUR-INCH GAUGE
Is an instrument made use of by operative
Masons, to measure and lay out their work; but we, as Free and Accepted
Masons, are taught to make use of it for the more noble and glorious
purpose of dividing our time. It being divided into twenty-four equal
parts is emblematical of the twenty-four hours of. the day, which we are
taught to divide into three equal parts, whereby we find a portion for
the service of God and a distressed worthy brother a portion for our
usual avocations; and a portion for refreshment and sleep.
THE COMMON GAVEL
Is an instrument made use of by operative
Masons to break off the corners of rough stones, the better to fit them
for the builder's use; but we, as Free and Accepted Masons, are taught to
make use of it for the more noble and glorious purpose of divesting our
minds and consciences of all the vices and superfluities of life, thereby
fitting our bodies, as living stones, for that spiritual building - that
house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
The Second Section
Rationally accounts for the origin of our
hieroglyphical instruction, and convinces us of the advantages which will
ever accompany a faithful observance of our duty. It maintains, beyond the
power of contradiction, the propriety of our rites, while it demonstrates
to the most skeptical and hesitating mind their excellency and utility; it
illustrates, at the same time, certain particulars, of which our ignorance
might lead us into error, and which, as Masons, we are indispensably bound
To make a daily progress in the art is our
constant duty, and expressly required by our general
laws. What end can be more noble than the
pursuit of virtue? what motive more alluring than the practice of justice?
or what instruction more beneficial than an accurate elucidation of
symbolical mysteries which tend to embellish and adorn the mind? Every
thing that strikes the eye more immediately engages the attention, and
imprints on the memory serious and solemn truths: hence Masons,
universally adopting this method of inculcating the tenets of their Order
by typical figures and allegorical emblems, prevent their mysteries from
descending into the familiar reach of inattentive and unprepared novices,
from whom they might not receive due veneration.
Our records inform us that the usages and
customs of Masons have ever corresponded with those of the Egyptian
philosophers, to which they bear a near affinity. Unwilling to expose
their mysteries to vulgar eyes, they concealed their particular tenets and
principles of polity under hieroglyphical figures, and expressed their
notions of government by signs and symbols, which they communicated to
their Magi alone, who were bound by oath not to reveal them. The
Pythagorean system seems to have been established. on a similar plan, and
many Orders of a more recent date. Masonry, however, is not only the most
ancient, but the most moral institution that ever subsisted; every
character, figure, and emblem depicted in a Lodge has a moral tendency,
and inculcates the practice of virtue.
OF A MASON.
EVERY candidate, at his initiation, is
presented with a lamb-skin, or white leather apron.
The lamb has, in all ages, been
deemed an emblem of innocence; he, therefore, who wears the
lamb-skin as a badge of Masonry, is thereby continually reminded of that
purity of life and conduct which is essentially necessary to his gaining
admission into the Celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of
the Universe presides.
The Third Section
Explains the nature and principles of our
constitution, and teaches us to discharge with propriety the duties of
our respective stations. Here, too, we receive instruction relative to
the FORM, SUPPORTS, COVERING, FURNITURE, ORNAMENTS, LIGHTS, and JEWELS
of a Lodge, how it should be situated, and to whom dedicated; and our
attention is directed to the
Which is always open when the Lodge is,
at work, and which is considered by Masons to be as indispensable as a
Or warrant from the Grand Lodge
empowering them to work.
From east to west
Freemasonry extends, and between the north and south, in
every clime and nation, are Masons to be found, either on the
Of prosperity, or in the
Our institution is said to be supported
WISDOM, STRENGTH, AND
Because it is necessary that there should
be wisdom to contrive, strength to support,
and beauty to adorn all great and
Are unlimited, and
No less than a clouded canopy or a
starry-decked heaven. To this object the Mason's mind is continually
directed, and thither he hopes at last to arrive, by the aid of the
Which Jacob, in his vision, saw ascending
from earth to heaven; the
THREE PRINCIPAL ROUNDS
Of which are denominated faith, hope,
and charity, and which admonish us to have faith in God, hope in
immortality, and charity to all mankind.
Every well-governed Lodge is
With the Holy Bible, the
Square, and the
Compass. The Bible points
out the path that leads to happiness, and is dedicated to God; the
square teaches us to regulate our conduct by the principles of
morality and virtue, and is dedicated to the Master; the
compass teaches us to limit our desires in every station, and is
dedicated to the Craft.
Is dedicated to the service of God,
because it is the inestimable gift of God to man; the square to the
Master, because, being the proper Masonic emblem of his office, it is
constantly to remind him of the duty he owes to the Lodge over which he
is appointed to preside; and the compass to the Craft, because, by a due
attention to its use, they are taught to regulate their desires and keep
their passions within due bounds.
Parts of a Lodge displayed in this
section are, the Mosaic pavement, the indented tessel, and
the blazing star. The Mosaic pave-
ment is a representation of the
ground floor of King Solomon's Temple; the indented tessel, that
beautiful tesselated border or skirting which surrounded it; and the
blazing star in the center is commemorative of the star which
appeared to guide the wise men of the East to the place of our Savior's
nativity. The Mosaic pavement is emblematic of human life,
checkered with good and evil; the beautiful border which
surrounds it, those blessings and comforts which surround us, and which
we hope to obtain by a faithful reliance on Divine Providence, which is
hieroglyphically represented by the blazing star in the center.
THE MOVABLE AND IMMOVABLE
Also claim our attention in this section.
The rough ashler is a stone as
taken from the quarry in its rude and natural state. The perfect
ashler is a stone made ready by
the hands of the workman, to be adjusted
by the tools of the fellow-craft. The trestle-board is for the
Master workman to draw his designs upon.
By the rough ashler we are
reminded of our rude and imperfect state by nature; by the perfect
ashler, that state of perfection at which we hope to arrive by a
virtuous education, our own endeavors, and the blessing of God; and by
the trestle-board we are reminded that, as the operative workman
erects his temporal building agreeably to the rules and designs laid
down by the Master on his trestle-board, so should we, both operative
and speculative, endeavor to erect our spiritual building agreeably to
the rules and designs laid down by the Supreme Architect of the Universe
in the Book of Life, or the Holy Scriptures, which is our spiritual
In this section likewise our attention is
called to those important tools of a Mason, the
SQUARE, LEVEL, AND PLUMB,
And their uses are explained.
TO WHOM DEDICATED.
By a recurrence to the chapter upon the
dedication of Lodges, it will be perceived that, although our ancient
brethren dedicated their Lodges to King Solomon, yet Masons professing
Christianity dedicate theirs to St. John the Baptist and St. John the
Evangelist, who were eminent patrons of Masonry; and since their time
there is represented in every regular and well-governed Lodge a certain
POINT WITHIN A CIRCLE;
The point representing an
individual brother; the circle representing the boundary line of his
duty to God and man, beyond which he is never to suffer his passions,
prejudices or interest to betray him on any occasion. This circle
by two perpendicular parallel lines,
representing St. John the Baptist, and St. John the Evangelist, who were
perfect parallels in Christianity as well as Masonry; and upon the
vertex rests the book of
Which points out the whole duty of man.
In going round this circle, we necessarily touch upon these two lines,
as well as upon the Holy Scriptures; and while a Mason keeps himself
thus circumscribed, it is impossible that he should materially err.
This section, though the last in rank, is
not the least considerable in importance. It strengthens those which
precede, and enforces in the most engaging manner a due regard to
character and behavior in public as well as in private life, in the Lodge
as well as in the general commerce of society. It forcibly inculcates the
most instructive lessons. Brotherly love, relief, and truth are themes on
which we here expatiate.
OF BROTHERLY LOVE.
By the exercise of brotherly love, we are
taught to regard the whole human
species as one family, the high and low,
the rich and poor; who, as created by one Almighty Parent, and
inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support, and protect each
other. On this principle Masonry unites men of every country, sect, and
opinion, and conciliates true friendship among those who might otherwise
have remained at a perpetual distance.
To relieve the distressed is a duty
incumbent on all men; but particularly on Masons, who are linked
together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affection. To soothe the
unhappy, to sympathize with their misfortunes, to compassionate their
miseries, and to restore peace to their troubled minds, is the grand aim
we have in view. On this basis we form our friendships and establish our
Truth is a Divine attribute, and the
foundation of every virtue, To be good
and true is the first lesson we are
taught in Masonry. On this theme we contemplate, and by its dictates
endeavor to regulate our conduct; hence, while influenced by this
principle, hypocrisy and deceit are unknown among us, sincerity and
plain dealing distinguish us, and the heart and tongue join in promoting
each other's welfare, and rejoicing in each other's prosperity.
To this illustration succeeds an
explanation of the four cardinal virtues - Temperance, Fortitude,
Prudence, and Justice; the illustration of which virtues is
accompanied with some general observations peculiar to Masons.
Is that due restraint upon our affections
and passions which renders the body tame and governable, and frees the
mind from the allurements of vice. This virtue should be the constant
practice of every Mason, as he is thereby taught to avoid excess, or
contracting any licentious or vicious habit, the indulgence of which
might lead him to disclose some of those
valuable secrets which he has promised to
conceal and never reveal, and which would consequently subject him to
the contempt and detestation of all good Masons.
Is that noble and steady purpose of the
mind whereby we are enabled to undergo any pain, peril, or danger, when
prudentially deemed expedient. This virtue is equally distant from
rashness and cowardice, and, like the former, should be deeply impressed
upon the mind of every Mason, as a safeguard or security against any
illegal attack that may be made, by force or otherwise, to extort from
him any of those secrets with which he has been so solemnly entrusted,
and which was emblematically represented upon his first admission into
Teaches us to regulate our lives and
actions agreeably to the dictates of rea-
son, and is that habit by which we wisely
judge and prudentially determine on all things relative to our present
as well as to our future happiness. This virtue should be the peculiar
characteristic of every Mason, not only for the government of his
conduct while in the Lodge, but also when abroad in the world; it should
be particularly attended to in all strange and mixed companies, never to
let fall the least sign, token, or word whereby the secrets of Masonry
might be unlawfully obtained,
Is that standard or boundary of right,
which enables us to render to every man his just due, without
distinction. This virtue is not only consistent with Divine and human
laws, but is the very cement and support of civil society; and, as
justice in a great measure constitutes the real good man, so should it
be the invariable practice of every Mason never to deviate from the
minutest principles thereof,
The distinguishing characteristics of the
aspirant for Masonic honors should be
FREEDOM, FERVENCY, AND ZEAL.
The exercise of these qualities will
inevitably assure an appropriate and lasting reward.
Such is the arrangement of the different
sections in the first lecture, which, with the forms adopted at the
opening and closing of a Lodge, comprehends the whole of the first degree
of Masonry. This plan has the advantage of regularity to recommend it, the
support of precedent and authority, and the sanction and respect which
flow from antiquity. The whole is a regular system of morality, conceived
in a strain of interesting allegory, which must unfold its beauties to the
candid and industrious inquirer.
At Initiation into the
BROTHER: As you are now introduced into
the first principles of Masonry, I congratulate you on being accepted
into this ancient and honorable Order - ancient, as having subsisted
from time immemorial; and honorable, as tending, in every par-
ticular, so to render all men who will be
conformable to its precepts. No institution was ever raised on a better
principle or more solid foundation; nor were ever more excellent rules
and useful maxims laid down than are inculcated in the several Masonic
lectures. The greatest and best of men in all ages have been encouragers
and promoters of the art, and have never deemed it derogatory from their
dignity to level themselves with the Fraternity, extend their
privileges, and patronize their assemblies.
There are three great duties, which, as a
Mason, you are charged to inculcate - to God, your neighbor, and
yourself. To God, in never mentioning his name but with that reverential
awe which is due from a creature to his Creator; to implore his aid in
all your laudable undertakings, and to esteem him as your chief good: to
your neighbor, in acting upon the square, and doing unto him as you wish
he should do unto you: and to yourself, in avoiding all irregularity and
ance, which may impair your faculties, or
debase the dignity of your profession. A zealous attachment to these
duties will insure public and private esteem.
In the state, you are to be a quiet and
peaceful subject, true to your government, and just to your country; you
are not to countenance disloyalty or rebellion, but patiently submit to
legal authority, and conform with cheerfulness to the government of the
country in which you live.
In your outward demeanor be particularly
careful to avoid censure or reproach. Let not interest, favor, or
prejudice bias your integrity, or influence you to be guilty of a
dishonorable action. Although your frequent appearance at our regular
meetings is earnestly solicited, yet it is not meant that Masonry should
interfere with your necessary vocations, for these are on no account to
be neglected; neither are you to suffer your zeal for the institution to
lead you into argument with those who, through ignorance, may ridicule
it. At your leisure hours, that you may im-
prove in Masonic knowledge, you are to
converse with well-informed brethren, who will be always as ready to
give as you will be ready to receive instruction.
Finally: keep sacred and inviolable the
mysteries of the Order, as these are to distinguish you from the rest of
the community, and mark your consequence among Masons. If, in the circle
of your acquaintance, you find a person desirous of being initiated into
Masonry, be particularly attentive not to recommend him unless you are
convinced he will conform to our rules; that the honor, glory, and
reputation of the institution may be firmly established, and the world
at large convinced of its good effects.