Symbolical Masonry, by H.L. Haywood, , at sacred-texts.com
Of the Obligation of the Fellow Craft there is no need to speak inasmuch as the general topic of Obligations was dealt with in an earlier section; but it may be wise here to add to the previous discussion a very brief comment on that "due form" in which the oath is made. As the details are necessarily secret they must be passed by though it may be said that all the postures seem to be arranged about the square thereby suggesting that in order to keep the covenant a candidate must be "square" through and through, in every limb of his body; so that not one faculty or organ shall be permitted to violate those principles and secrets of Freemasonry to which the candidate obligates himself.
In ordinary every-day life, we make a distinction between form and formality. The man who overvalues the manner of doing things, or who does not put his conscience into his forms, we call a formalist, and that rightly. He may have the veneer of a gentleman, but the heart of a cad; he may perform the external functions of morality but remain all the while like one of those white-washed sepulchres of which Jesus speaks. Formality is pretence, mockery, unreality. But our abhorrence of formalism must not blind us to the necessity of form, for the manner of our behaviour is itself a kind of language and speaks with "the voice of the sign" about the realities of character. I may love or admire you greatly, but if I do not express my regard through actions that you can understand
you may live and die in ignorance of it. We lift the hat, shake hands, step aside for ladies, surrender our seats to the aged, observe the propriety of dress, etc., and all because manners are so essential a form of social communion that, as Emerson says, if they were lost to the world some gentleman would be obliged to re-invent them.
Now it needs to be observed that while Masonry must not become formal lest it die, and while it must ever be as clean and natural as the blowing clover and the falling rain, yet must it use forms, and nowhere are they more manifestly needed than in taking the Obligation. In that connection—as in others—we call them due forms because they are due to the Order in the nature of things, and they are nothing other than the candidate's manner of expressing to his brethren his whole hearted determination to keep to the last letter all the duties, principles and secrets to which he therein binds himself.