General Ahiman Rezon, by Daniel Sickels, , at sacred-texts.com
IN this section is fully explained the symbolic meaning of the ceremonies that take place in the first. Without this explanation, the mind of the novitiate would still be. in darkness; all would be mysterious and incomprehensible. When these ceremonies are explained by an intelligent and competent teacher, the mind is favorably impressed with the beautiful system; the mystery is unvailed, and the candidate discovers that his progress is replete with instruction, and that the assertion is confirmed, that every character, figure, and emblem, depicted in a Lodge, has a moral tendency, inculcates the practice of the noblest virtues, and furnishes sufficient proof of the definition, that "Freemasonry is a system of morality, vailed in allegory and illustrated by symbols."
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Various passages of Scripture are referred to in this section -as explaining the traditions of Masonry.
"Cut wood out of Lebanon, and bring it on floats by sea to Joppa; and carry it up to Jerusalem."
"And the house was built of stone, made ready before it was brought thither; so that there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was building."
"For to confirm all things, a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it unto his neighbor: and this was testimony in Israel."
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."
Bending the knees, in adoration of JEHOVAH, is one of the most ancient customs among men. We are taught, as Masons, never to commence any great or important undertaking without first invoking the blessing and protection of Deity.
The right hand has in all ages been deemed an emblem of fidelity, and the ancients worshiped Deity under the name of Fides, or Fidelity, which was sometimes represented by two right hands joined, and sometimes by two human figures, holding each other by the right hands.
The joining of right hands was esteemed, among the Persians and Parthians, as conveying a most inviolable obligation of fidelity. Hence, when King ARTABANUS desired to hold a conference with his revolted subject ASINEUS, who was in arms against him, he dispatched a messenger to him with the request, who said to ASINEUS, "The king hath sent me to give you his right hand and security,"—that is, a promise of safety in coming and going. And when ASINEUS sent his brother ASILEUS to the proposed conference, the king met him, and gave him his right hand; upon which JOSEPHUS remarks: "This is of the greatest force there with all these barbarians, and affords a firm security to those who hold intercourse with them, for none of them will deceive, when once they have given you their right hands; nor will any one doubt of their fidelity, when that once is given, even though they were before suspected of injustice."
VALERIUS MAXIMUS tells us that the ancients had a moral deity, whom they called FIDES. Her temple was first consecrated by NUMA. . . . FIDES was a goddess of honesty or fidelity; and the writer adds, when they promised any thing of old, they gave the right hand to pledge it, as we do, and, therefore, she is represented as giving her hand and sometimes her two hands conjoined. CHARTARIUS more fully describes this, by observing that the proper residence of faith or fidelity was thought by the ancients to be in the right hand; and, therefore, this deity was sometimes represented by two right hands joined together; sometimes by two little images, shaking each other's right hand: so that the right hand was by them held sacred, and was symbolically made use of in a solemn manner to denote fidelity.
The LAMB has, in all ages, been deemed an emblem of innocence; the lambskin is, therefore, to remind him of that purity of life and conduct which is so essentially necessary to his gaining admission into the Celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides.
The Apron, in ancient times, was a universally-received emblem of Truth. Among the Grecian mysteries, the candidate was invested with a white robe and apron. In Persia, the investiture was exceedingly splendid, and succeeded to the commission of Light. It consisted of the girdle, on which the twelve signs of the Zodiac were depicted; the tiara, the white apron, and the purple tunic.