[Freemasonry, as before stated, is progressive, and a knowledge of its philosophy and teachings can only be acquired by time, patience, perseverance and close application.
In the first degree, we are taught the duties we owe to God, our neighbor and ourselves.
In the second, we are more thoroughly inducted into the mysteries of moral science and learn to trace the goodness and majesty of the Creator, by minutely analyzing His works.
But the third degree cements the whole, and is calculated to bind men together by mystic ties of fellowship, as in a bond of fraternal affection and brotherly love.
It is among brethren of this degree that the Ancient Landmarks of the Order are preserved, and it is from them the rulers of the Craft are selected. It is in a Master's Lodge that all business of a legislative character is transacted and all ballotings take place.]
[The candidate, after serving his proper time as a Fellow-Craft, orally applies for the Master's degree; and, after being examined in a Fellow-Craft's Lodge, as to his proficiency, a Master's Lodge is as called to labor (it being a stated meeting), and the Lodge approving his examination, a ballot is taken upon his application for the Third degree; and if elected, and there be no objection, he is prepared for his introduction into the first section of the Master's Degree.]
[This Degree is divided into three sections.]
[During the ceremonies of this section the following passage of Scripture is repeated:]
"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say I have no pleasure in them; while the sun or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain; in the day when the keeper of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease, because they are few; and those that look out of the windows be darkened, and the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low; and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low. Also, when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail; because man goeth to his long home,
and the mourners go about the streets; or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."--Ecclesiastes 12:1-7.
[The following hymn is occasionally introduced as a substitute for this Scripture:]
Let us in youth remember him!
Who formed our frame and spirits gave,
Ere windows of the mind grow dim.
Or door of speech obstructed wave:
When voice of bird fresh terrors wake;
And music's daughters charm no more,
Or fear to rise with trembling shake,
Along the path we travel o’er.
In youth, to God let memory cling,
Before desire shall fail or wane,
Or e’er be loosed life's silver string,
Or bowl at fountain rent in twain; p. 58
For man to his long home doth go,
And mourners group around his urn;
Our dust to dust again must flow,
And spirits unto God return.
This section closes with an explanation of
They are all the implements of Masonry, indiscriminately, but more especially the Trowel.
The Trowel is an instrument made use of by operative Masons to spread the cement which unites a building in one common mass; but we, as Free and Accepted Masons, are taught to make use of it for the more noble and glorious purpose of spreading the cement of brotherly love and affection; that cement which unites us into one sacred band, or society of friends and brothers, among whom no contention should ever exist, but that noble contention, or rather emulation, of who can best work and best agree.
[This section, like the first, is altogether ceremonial, and recites a legend of the utmost importance to the Order; and should be well understood by all, and
forcibly and impressively illustrated at the raising of every Candidate, as much depends upon the impression made upon him at the time he receives the degree. In its symbolical interpretation, it testifies our faith in the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul, and places integrity and firmness upon a lofty pedestal in strong contrast with those passions which debase and ruin those who indulge in them.]
Hymn, C. M.
Princes, this clay must be your bed,
In spite of all your towers;
The tall, the wise, the reverend head,
Must lie as low as ours.
Great God, is this our certain doom?
And are we still secure?
Still walking downward to the tomb,
And yet prepare no more?
Grant us the power of quick’ning grace,
To fit our souls to fly,
That when we drop this dying flesh,
We'll rise above the sky.
Or, if preferred, the following may be used:
Mortals, now indulge a tear,
For Mortality is here!
See how wide her trophies wave
O’er the slumbers of the grave!
Here another guest we bring;
Seraphs of celestial wing,
To our fun’ral altar come,
Waft our friend and brother home.
There, enlarged, thy soul shall see
What was veiled in mystery;
Heavenly glories of the place
Show his Maker face to face.
Lord of all! below--above--
Fill our hearts with truth and love;
When dissolves our earthly tie,
Take us to Thy Lodge on high.
[The following prayer is offered just before the candidate is raised:]
Thou, O God, knowest our down-sitting and our uprising, and understandest our thoughts afar off. Shield and defend us from the evil intentions of our enemies, and support us under
the trials and afflictions we are destined to endure while traveling through this vale of tears. Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble. He cometh forth as a flower and is cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with Thee; Thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass; turn from him that he may rest till he shall accomplish his day.
For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. But man dieth and wasteth away; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up, so man lieth down and riseth not up till the heavens shall be no more. Yet, O Lord! have compassion on the children of Thy creation; administer them comfort in time of trouble, and save them with an everlasting salvation! Amen.
Response: So mote it be.
[The third section explains the various classes of emblems belonging to this degree,
and is principally all monitorial.]
The third section sets out--
The three steps usually delineated on the Master's Carpet are emblematical of the three principal stages of human life, namely: Youth, Manhood and Old Age.
[In Youth, as Entered Apprentices, we ought to occupy our minds in the attainment of useful knowledge; in Manhood, as Fellow-Crafts, we should apply our knowledge to the discharge of our duties to God, our neighbor and ourselves, so that, in Old Age, as Master Masons, we may enjoy the happy reflection consequent upon a well-spent life, and die in the hope of a glorious immortality.]
Is an emblem of a pure heart, which is always an acceptable sacrifice to the Deity; and, as this glows with fervent heat, so should our hearts continually glow with gratitude to the great beneficent Author of our existence for the manifold blessings and comforts we enjoy.
Is an emblem of industry, and recommends the practice of that virtue to all created beings, from the highest
seraph in heaven to the lowest reptile of the dust. It teaches us that, as we came into the world endowed as rational and intelligent beings, so we should ever be industrious ones; never sitting down contented while our fellow creatures around us are in want, when it is in our power to relieve them, without inconvenience to ourselves.
When we take a survey of nature, we view man in his infancy, more helpless and indigent than the brute creation; he lies languishing for days, months and years, totally incapable of providing sustenance for himself, or guarding against the attack of the wild beasts of the field, or sheltering himself from the inclemencies of the weather.
It might have pleased the great Creator of heaven and earth to have made man independent of all other beings; but, as dependence is one of the strongest bonds of society, mankind were made dependent upon each other for protection and security, as they thereby enjoy better opportunities of fulfilling the duties of reciprocal love and friendship. Thus was man formed for social and active life;
the noblest part of the work of God; and he that will so demean himself as not to be endeavoring to add to the common stock of knowledge and understanding, may be deemed a drone in the hive of nature, a useless member of society, and unworthy of our protection as Masons.
Reminds us that we should be ever watchful and guarded in our thoughts, words and actions, particularly when before the enemies of Masonry; ever bearing in remembrance those truly Masonic virtues, silence and circumspection.
Demonstrates that justice will sooner or later overtake us; and although our thoughts, words and actions may be hidden from the eyes of man, yet that
[paragraph continues] Whom the sun, moon and stars obey, and under whose watchful care even comets perform their stupendous revolutions,
pervades the inmost recesses of the human heart, and will reward us according to our merits.
Are emblems of a well-grounded hope, and a well-spent life. They are emblematical of that divine ark which safely wafts us over this tempestuous sea of troubles, and that anchor which shall safely moor us in a peaceful harbor, where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary shall find rest.
This was an invention of the ancient philosopher, the great Pythagoras, who, in his travels through Asia, Africa and Europe, was initiated in several orders of Priesthood, and is said to have been raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. This wise philosopher enriched his mind abundantly in a general knowledge of things, and more especially in Geometry or Masonry. On this subject he drew out many problems and theorems and among the most distinguished he erected this, which, in the joy of his heart, he called Eureka, in the Grecian
language, signifying I have found it; and upon the discovery of which he is said to have sacrificed a hecatomb. It teaches Masons to be general lovers of the arts and sciences.
Is an emblem of human life. Behold! how swiftly and rapidly our lives are drawing to a close. We cannot, without astonishment, behold the little particles, which are contained in this machine, how they pass away almost imperceptibly, and yet, to our surprise, in the short space of an hour, they are all exhausted. Thus wastes man! today he puts forth the tender leaves of hope; tomorrow, blossoms and bears his blushing honors thick upon him; the next day comes a frost, which nips the shoot, and when he thinks his greatness is still aspiring, he falls, like autumn leaves, to enrich our mother earth.
Is an emblem of time, which cuts the brittle thread of life and launches us into eternity. Behold! what havoc the scythe of Time makes among the human race; if, by chance, we should
escape the numerous evils incident to childhood and youth, and with health and vigor arrive to the years of manhood; yet, withal, we must soon be cut down by the all-devouring scythe of Time, and be gathered into the land where our fathers have gone before us.
Thus we close the explanations of this degree with the solemn thought of death, which, without Revelation, is dark and gloomy; but the good Mason is suddenly revived by the ever-green and ever living sprig of Faith in the merits of the Lion of the tribe of Judah; which strengthens him with confidence and composure, to look forward to a blessed immortality; and doubts not, but in the glorious morn of the resurrection, his body will rise and become as incorruptible as his soul.
Then let us imitate our ancient patron in his virtuous and amiable conduct; in his unfeigned piety to God; in his inflexible fidelity to his trust; that we may welcome the grim tyrant Death, receiving him as a kind Messenger sent from our Supreme Grand
[paragraph continues] Master, to translate us from this imperfect to that all-perfect, glorious and celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides.
This closes the Third Section, and finishes the degree, except the charge, which is as follows:
My Brother: Your zeal for our institution, the progress you have made in our mysteries, and your steady conformity to our useful regulations, have pointed you out as a proper object for this peculiar mark of our favor.
Duty and honor now alike bind you to be faithful to every trust, to support the dignity of your character on all occasions, and strenuously to enforce, by precept and example, a steady obedience to the tenets of Freemasonry.
Exemplary conduct on your part will convince the world that merit is the just title to our privileges, and that on you our favors have not been undeservedly bestowed. In this respectable character, you are authorized to correct the irregularities of your less informed brethren; to fortify
their minds with resolution against the snares of the insiduous, and to guard them against every allurement to vicious practices.
To preserve unsullied the reputation of the Fraternity, ought to be your constant care; and, therefore, it becomes your province to caution the inexperienced against a breach of fidelity.
To your inferiors in rank or office you are to recommend obedience and submission; to your equals, courtesy and affability; to your superiors, kindness and condescension. Universal benevolence you are zealously to inculcate; and by the regularity of your own conduct, endeavor to remove every aspersion against this venerable institution.
Our Ancient Landmarks you are carefully to preserve, and not suffer them, on any pretense, to be infringed, or countenance a deviation from our established customs.
Your honor and reputation are concerned in supporting, with dignity, the respectable character you now bear. Let no motive, therefore, make you swerve from your duty, violate your vows, or betray your trust; but be
true and faithful, and imitate the example of that celebrated artist, whom you have this evening represented.
Thus you will render yourself deserving of the honor which we have conferred, and worthy of the confidence we have reposed in you.