Having illustrated the ceremony of opening and closing a Lodge, and inserted
the Charges and Prayers usually rehearsed in our regular assemblies on those
occasions, we shall now enter on a disquisition of the different Sections
of the Lectures appropriated to the three 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 better
instructed in the regular arrangement of the Sections in each Lecture , and
be enabled with more cease to acquire a knowledge of the Art.
[The full text of the lectures
can be found under Lectures of The Craft menu tab]
The First Lecture is divided into Sections and each Section into Clauses.
In this Lecture virtue is painted in the most beautiful colours, and the
duties of morality are strictly enforced. In it we are taught such useful
lessons as prepare the mind for a regular advancement in the principles of
knowledge and philosophy, and these are imprinted on the memory by lively
and sensible images, to influence our conduct in the proper discharge of
the duties of social life.
The First Section
The First Section of the Lecture is suited to all capacities, and ought to
be known by every person who wishes to rank 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 which are more amply explained
in the following Sections.
As we can annex to these remark no other explanation consistent with the
rules of masonry. we must refer the more inquisitive to our regular assembles
for further instruction.
The Second Section
The Second Section makes us acquainted with the peculiar forms and ceremonies
at the initiation of candidates into masonry; and convinces us, beyond the
power of contradiction, of the propriety of our rites; while it demonstrates
to the most sceptical and hesitating mind, their excellence and utility.
The following particulars relative to that ceremony may be introduced here
A Declaration to be assented to by every Candidate in an adjoining apartment,
previous to Initiation.
"Do you seriously declare, upon your honour, before these gentlemen [The Stewards of the
unbiased by friends against your own inclination,
and uninfluenced by mercenary motives, you freely and voluntarily offer yourself
a candidate for the mysteries of Masonry?" - I do.
"Do you seriously declare, upon your honour, before these gentlemen, that
you are solely prompted to solicit the privileges of Masonry, by a favourable
opinion conceived of the institution, a desire of knowledge, and a sincere
wish of being serviceable to your fellow-creatures?" - I do.
"Do you seriously declare, upon your honour, before these gentlemen, that
you will cheerfully conform to all the ancient established usages and customs
of the fraternity?" - I do.
The Candidate is then proposed in open lodge, as follows:
"R. W. Master, and Brethren, At the request of Mr. A. B. [mentioning his profession and
residence] I propose him in due form as a proper Candidate for the mysteries of Masonry;
I recommend him, as worthy to partake the privileges of the fraternity; and,
in consequence of a Declaration of his intentions, voluntarily made and properly
attested, I believe he will cheerfully conform to the rules of the Order."
The Candidate is ordered to be prepared for Initiation.
A Prayer used at Initiation
"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!
Endue him with a competence of thy divine wisdom, that, by the secrets of
this Art, he may be better enabled to display the beauties of godliness,
to the honour of thy holy Name! Amen."
Note. 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.
The Third Section
The Third Section, by the reciprocal communication of our marks of distinction,
proves us to be regular members of the Order; and inculcates those necessary
and instructive duties which at once dignify our characters in the double
capacity of men and masons.
We cannot better illustrate this Section, than by inserting the following
Charge at Initiation into the first Degree
[The paragraphs enclosed in brackets  may be occasionally
omitted, if time will not admit of delivering the whole Charge.]
Brother, - [As you are now introduced into the first principles of our Order, it is
my duty to congratulate you on being accepted a member of an ancient and
honourable Society: ancient, as having subsisted from time immemorial; and
honourable, as tending, in every particular, 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 on all persons at their initiation
into our mysteries. Monarchs, in every age, have been encouragers and promoters
of our Art, and have never deemed it derogatory from their dignities, to
level themselves with the fraternities, to extend their privileges, and to
patronise their assemblies.]
As a mason you are to study the moral law, as contained in the sacred code [The Bible; and in countries where that
book is not know, whatever is understood to contain the will or law of God.] to consider it as the
unerring standard of truth and justice, and to regulate your life and actions by its divine precepts.
The three great moral duties, to God, your neighbour, and yourself, you are
strictly to observe: - To God, by never mentioning his name, but with that
awe and reverence which is due from a creature to his creator; to implore
his aid in your laudable undertakings; and to esteem him as the chief good:
- To your neighbour, by acting upon the square, and, considering him equally
entitled with yourself to share the blessings of Providence, rendering unto
him those favours, which in a similar situation you would expect to receive
from him: - And to yourself, by avoiding irregularity and intemperance, which
might impair your faculties, and debase the dignity of your profession.
In the state, you are to be quiet and peaceable subject, true to your sovereign,
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 under which you live, yielding obedience to the laws which
afford you protection, and never forgetting the attachment you owe to the
spot where you first drew breath.
[In your outward demeanour, you are to avoid censure
or reproach; and beware of all who may artfully endeavour to insinuate themselves
into your esteem, with a view to betray your virtuous resolutions, or make
you swerve from the principles of the institution. Let not interest, favour,
or prejudice, bias your integrity, or influence you to be guilty of a
dishonourable action; but let your conduct and behaviour be regular and uniform,
and your deportment suitable to the dignity of the profession.]
Above all, practise benevolence and charity; for by these virtues, masons
have been distinguished in every age and country. [The
inconceivable pleasure of contributing toward the relief of our fellow-creatures,
is truly experienced by persons of a humane disposition; who are naturally
excited, by sympathy, to extend their aid in alleviation of the miseries
of others. This encourages the generous mason to distribute his bounty with
cheerfulness. Supposing himself in the situation of an unhappy sufferer,
he listens to the tale of woe with attention, bewails misfortune, and speedily
The Constitutions of the Order ought next to engage your attentions. These
contain the history of masonry from the earliest periods, with an account
of illustrious characters who have enriched the Art in various countries;
and the laws and charges, by which the brethren have been long governed.
A punctual attendance on our assemblies I am earnestly to enjoin, especially
on the duties of the lodge in which you are enrolled a member. Here, and
in all other regular meetings of the fraternity, you are to behave with order
and decorum, that harmony may be preserved, and the business of masonry properly
[The rules of good manners you are not to
violate; you are to use no unbecoming language, in derogation of the name
of God, or toward the corruption of good manners: you are not to introduce
or maintain any dispute about religion or politics; or behave irreverently
while the lodge is engaged in what is serious and important; but you are
to pay a proper deference and respect to the Master and presiding officers,
and diligently apply to the practice of the Art, that you may sooner become
a proficient therein, as well for your own credit, as the honour of the lodge
in which you have been received.]
But although your frequent appearance at our regular meetings is earnestly
solicited, masonry is not intended to interfere with your necessary vocations
in life, as these on no account are to be neglected: neither are you to suffer
your zeal for the institution, however laudable, to lead you into argument
with those who may ridicule it; but rather extend your pity toward all, who
through ignorance contemn, what they never had an opportunity to comprehend.
At leisure hours, study the liberal arts and sciences; and improve in Masonic
disquisitions, by the conversation of well-informed brethren, who will be
as ready to give, as you can be to receive instruction.
Finally; keep sacred and inviolable those mysteries of the Order which are
to distinguish you from the rest of the community, and mark your consequence
among the fraternity. 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 honour, the glory, and the reputation of the institution may be
firmly established, and the world at large convinced of its benign influence.
[From the attention you have paid to the recital of
this charge, we are led to hope that you will form a proper estimate of the
value of freemasonry, and imprint on your mind the dictates of truth, honour,
[This section usually closes with the EULOGIUM, which can be found in Book One]
The Fourth Section
The Fourth Section rationally accounts for the origin of hieroglyphical
instruction, and points out the advantages which accompany a faithful observance
of our duty; 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 know.
To make daily progress in the Art, is a 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 those symbols 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 have universally adopted the plan of inculcating
the tenets of their Order by typical figures and allegorical emblems, to
prevent their mysteries from descending to the familiar reach of inattentive
and unprepared novices, from whom they might not receive due veneration.
It is well known, that the usages and customs of masons have ever corresponded
with those of the ancient Egyptians, to which they bear a near affinity.
These philosophers, unwilling to expose their mysteries to vulgar eyes, 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.
Pythagoras seems to have established his system on a similar plan, and many
orders of a more recent date have copied the example. 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 tends to inculcate the practice of virtue.
[This section closes with a definition of
The Fifth Section
The Fifth Section explains the nature and principles of our constitution,
and teaches us to discharge the duties of the different departments which
we are top sustain in the government of a lodge. Here, too, our ornaments
are displayed, our jewels and furniture specified, and proper attention is
paid to our ancient and venerable patrons.
To explain the subject of this Section, and to assist the industrious mason
to acquire it, we recommend a punctual attendance on the duties of a Lodge,
and a diligent application to the truths there demonstrated.
The Sixth Section
The Sixth 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 behaviour, in public as well
as in private life, in the lodge as well as in the general commerce of society.
This Section forcibly inculcates the most instructive lessons. Brotherly
Love, Relief and Truth are themes on which we expatiate; while the Cardinal
Virtues claim our attention. - 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 children of 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 other wise have remained at a perpetual
distance. - Relief is the next tenet of the profession. To relieve the
distressed, is a duty incumbent on all men; particularly on masons, who are
linked together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affection. To soothe
calamity, to alleviate misfortune, to compassionate misery, and to restore
peace to the troubled mind, is the grand aim of the true mason. On this basis,
he establishes his friendship, and forms his connections. - Truth is a divine
attribute, and the foundation of every virtue. To be good and true is the
first lesson we are taught. On this theme we contemplate, and by its dictates
endeavour to regulate our conduct: influenced by this principle, hypocrisy
and deceit are unknown, sincerity and plain-dealing distinguish us, while
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 Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence
, and Justice. - By Temperance, we are instructed to govern the passions
and check unruly desires. The health of the body, and the dignity of the
species, are equally concerned in a faithful observance of it. - By Fortitude,
we are taught to resist temptation, and encounter danger with spirit and
resolution. This virtue is equally distant from rashness and cowardice; and
he who possesses it, is seldom shaken, and never overthrown, by the storms
that surround him. - By Prudence, we are instructed to regulate our conduct
by the dictates of reason, and to judge and determine with propriety in the
execution of very than that can tend to promote either present or future
well-being. In this virtue all other depend; it is there fore the chief jewel
that can adorn the human frame.- Justice, the boundary of right, constitutes
the cement of civil society. Without the exercise of this virtue, universal
confusion must ensue; lawless force would overcome the principles of equity,
and social intercourse no longer exist. Justice in a great measure constitutes
real goodness, and therefore it is represented to be the perpetual study
of the accomplished mason.
The explanation of these virtues is accompanied with some general observations
on the Equality observed among masons. - In a Lodge no estrangement of behaviour
is discovered. Influenced by one principles, an uniformity of opinion, useful
in exigencies, and pleasing in familiar life, universally prevails, strengthens
all the ties of friendship, and equally promotes love and esteem. Masons
are brethren by a double tie, and among brothers no invidious distinctions
should still exist. Merit is always respected and honour rendered to whom
it is due. - A king is reminded, that although a crown may adorn the head,
or a sceptre the hand, the blood in the veins is derived from the common
parent of mankind. and is no better than that of the meanest subject.- The
senator and the artist are alike taught that, equally with other, they are
by nature exposed to infirmity and disease; and an unforeseen misfortune
, or a disordered frame, may impair their faculties, and level them with
the most ignorance of the species. This checks pride, and incites courtesy or behaviour. - Men of inferior talents,
or not placed by fortune on such
exalted stations, are instructed to regard their superiors with peculiar
esteem, when, divested of pride, vanity, and external grandeur, they condescend,
in the badge of friendship, to trace wisdom, and follow virtue, asserted
by those who are of a rank beneath them. Virtue is true nobility, and wisdom
is the channel by which Virtue is directed and conveyed; Wisdom and Virtues
only mark distinction among masons.
Such is the arrangement of the Sections in the First Lecture of Masonry,
which including the forms adopted at opening and closing a lodge, comprehends
the whole of the First Degree. This plan has not only the advantage of regularity
to recommend it, but 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 s strain of interesting allegory, which readily unfolds its
beauties to the candid and industrious inquirer.