General Ahiman Rezon, by Daniel Sickels, , at sacred-texts.com
p. 114 p. 115
IF the object of the first degree be to symbolize the struggles of a candidate groping in darkness for intellectual light, that of the second degree represents the same candidate laboring amid all the difficulties that encumber the young beginner in the attainment of learning and science. The Entered Apprentice is to emerge from darkness to light—the Fellow-Craft is to come out of ignorance into knowledge. This degree, therefore, by fitting emblems, is intended to typify these struggles of the ardent mind for the attainment of truth—moral and intellectual truth—and, above all, that Divine truth, the comprehension of which surpasseth human understanding, and to which, standing in the Middle Chamber, after his laborious ascent of the Winding Stairs, he can only approximate by the reception of an imperfect and yet glorious reward, in the revelation of that "hieroglyphic light which none but Craftsmen ever saw."
MASONRY is a progressive science, and is divided into different classes, or degrees, for the more regular advancement in the knowledge of its mysteries. According to the progress we make, we limit or extend our inquiries: and, in proportion
to our capacity, we attain to a less or greater degree of perfection.
Freemasonry includes within its circle almost every branch of polite learning. Under the vail of its mysteries is comprehended a regular system of science. Many of its illustrations, to the confined genius, may appear unimportant; but the man of more enlarged faculties will perceive them to be, in the highest degree, useful and interesting. To please the accomplished scholar and ingenious artist, Freemasonry is wisely planned; and, in the investigation of its latent doctrines, the philosopher and mathematician may experience equal delight and satisfaction.
To exhaust the varied subjects of which it treats, would transcend the powers of the brightest genius; still, however, nearer approaches to perfection may be made; and the man of wisdom will not check the progress of his abilities, though the task he attempts may at first seem insurmountable. Perseverance and application remove each difficulty as it occurs; every step he advances, new pleasures open to his view, and instruction of the noblest kind attends his researches. In the diligent pursuit of knowledge, the intellectual faculties are employed in promoting the glory of GOD and the good of man.
The first degree is well calculated to enforce the duties of morality, and imprint on the memory the noblest principles which can adorn the human mind. It is, therefore, the best introduction to the second degree, which not only extends the same plan, but comprehends a more diffusive system of knowledge. Here, practice and theory join in qualifying the industrious Mason to share the pleasures which an advancement in the art must necessarily afford. Listening with attention to the wise opinions of experienced Craftsmen, on important subjects, he gradually familiarizes his mind to useful instruction, and is soon enabled to investigate truths of the utmost concern in the general transactions of life.
From this system proceeds a rational amusement; while the mental, powers are fully employed, the judgment is properly exercised; a spirit of emulation prevails; and all are induced to contend who shall most excel in promoting the valuable rules of the institution.
THE first section of the second degree accurately elucidates the mode of introduction into that particular class, and instructs the diligent Craftsman how to proceed in the proper arrangement of the ceremonies used on the occasion. It qualifies him to judge of their importance, and convinces him of the necessity of strictly adhering to every established usage of the Order. Here he is intrusted with particular tests, to enable him to prove his title to the privileges of this degree, while satisfactory reasons are given for their origin. Many duties, which cement in the firmest union well-informed brethren, are illustrated in this section; and an opportunity is given to make such advances in Masonry as will always distinguish the abilities of those who have arrived at preferment.
The Square is an important emblem in this degree. The Fellow-Craft is instructed, on his entrance, that this symbol should be the rule and guide of his conduct with all mankind, but especially with a brother Mason.
The following passage of Scripture is rehearsed in this degree:
"Thus he showed me: and behold the LORD stood upon a wall made by a plumb-line, with a plumb-line in his hand. And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? and I said, A plumb-line.
[paragraph continues] Then said the LORD, Behold, I will set a plumb-line in the midst of my people Israel; I will not again pass by them any more."—Amos vii. 7, 8.
Or the following ODE may be sung:
Click to enlarge
AIR.—What Fairy-like Music.
See Order and Beauty rise gently to view,
Each Brother a column, so perfect and true!
When Order shall cease, and when temples decay,
May each fairer columns immortal survey.
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The three allude to the three * * *, which are the Attentive Ear, the Instructive Tongue, and the Faithful Breast.