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In the 1st Degree you are introduced to the Square and Compass with both points of the Compass below the Square.

You were received on the point of a Compass pressing your naked left breast, which was to teach you, as it is a torture to your flesh, so should the recollection of it ever be to your mind and conscience.

You were informed that it was this way because you were still darkness as respects to Masonry.

In the 1st Degree you were given 2 working tools, the twenty-inch gauge and the common gavel. You were instructed to make use of the twenty-inch gauge by dividing your time into three equal parts, whereby you have a portion for the service of God and the relief of a distressed worthy brother, a portion for your usual avocation, and a portion for refreshment and sleep. The common gavel is an instrument made used of for the more noble and glorious purpose of divesting our minds and consciences of all the vices and superfluous of life, thereby fitting us, as living stones, for that spiritual building, that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

In the 2nd Degree you behold the Square and Compass with one point above the Square.

You were received on the angle of Square, which was to teach you that the square of virtue should be the rule and guide of your conscience in all-future transactions with Mankind.

You were informed that it was this way because you have received light in Masonry by points.

In the 2nd Degree you were given 3 working tools, the plumb, the square, and the level. The plumb admonishes us to walk uprightly in our several stations before God and Mankind. The square to always square our actions by the Square of Virtue in all our dealing with Mankind. The level to always remind us that we are traveling upon the Level of Time to that “undiscovered country from which no traveler returns”.

In the 3rd Degree you behold the Square and Compass with both points above the Square.

You were received on both points of the Compass, extending from your naked left to your naked right breast, which is to teach you, that as the vital parts of man are contained within the breast, so the most excellent tenets of our institution are contained between the points of the compasses, which are Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love.

You were informed that it was this way because you perceived more than you had before. Also to teach you to never lose sight of those truly Masonic virtues, which are Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love.

I will not go into all that you should have received in the 3rd Degree, because if you received it then you already have it and if you did not receive it, I can not give it to you for only of your own free will and accord can you get it. But I will give you the end of the Charge to the Lodge, which is as follows:

Then, by the benefit of the pass – a pure and
blameless life – with a firm reliance on Divine Providence, shall we gain ready admission
into that Celestial Lodge above, where the
Supreme Grand Warden forever presides –
forever reigns. When, place at his right hand,
he will be pleased to pronounce us just and
upright Masons, then shall we be fitted as living
stones for that spiritual temple, “that house not
made with hands, eternal in the heavens”, where
no discordant voice shall be heard, but all the
soul shall experience shall be perfect bliss, and
all it shall express shall be perfect praise, and
love divine shall ennoble every heart, and
hallelujahs exalted employ every tongue.

Keeping in mind that Masonry is a beautiful system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated in symbols, I realized the following:

1. The first 3 degrees gave me all I needed to understand the system of morality in its symbols and allegories towards mankind.

2. The first 3 degrees made me aware of the veils between God, and me but it did not give me what I needed to get past those veils.

4. The square and compass were not the all in Masonry, but just the all in all of the first 3 degrees of Masonry.

5. The first 3 degrees of Masonry deal with the material world and to get to that house not made with hands you will have to travel beyond the material world of the square and compass to the spiritual world of what comes next.

In the 4th Degree on your first admission into the Lodge you are received upon the edge of an engraver’s chisel and under the pressure of a mallet, which is to teach you that the moral precepts of this degree should make a deep and lasting impression upon your future life and conduct.

Here if all goes in order as in the preceding degrees, then would not the chisel and mallet be placed on the Bible instead of the square and Compass?

You are given a keystone to present as your work. This work is heaved over among the rubbish and should teach you to never let peculiar form and beauty to cause you to violate a positive command. Next you are taken to receive your wages, where you are taken as an imposter, this is to teach you to never claim as your own the property of another.

This degree is founded upon a certain keystone wrought by our Grand Master Hiram Abif. Its color was white, and symbolically alludes to a passage of scripture:

“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone,
and in the stone a new name written, which no
man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”
(Rev. 2:17)

The chisel morally demonstrates the advantage of discipline and education. The mind, like the diamond in its original state is rude and unpolished; but as the effect of the chisel on the external coat soon presents to view the latent beauties of the diamond, so education discovers the latent virtues of the mind and draws them forth to range the large field of matter and space, to display the summit of human knowledge, our duty to God and to man.

The mallet morally teaches to correct irregularities and to reduce man to a proper level so that, by quiet deportment, he may, in the school of discipline, learn to be content. What the mallet is to the workmen, enlightened reason is to the passions; it curbs ambition, depresses envy, moderates anger, and encourages good dispositions, whence arises among good Freemasons that comely order, “Which nothing earthly gives, or can destroy; the soul’s calm sunshine, and the heart-felt joy”.

The 5th Degree which, is really part of the 3rd Degree and is only in the Royal Arch to fill in a gap that could not be filled otherwise, so I will skip over it.

In the 6th Degree you are received on your first admission into the Lodge upon the keystone.

The keystone completed the Royal Arch of the Temple, and the stone which the builders rejected, became the head of the corner.

Here the keystone represents the spiritual side of yourself, that side of you that you heaved into the rubbish pile when you first found it, because you did not understand it as being an important part of you. Now you understand that this spiritual side of you it the most important part of you there is and that it is this part of you that brings you in direct contact with God.

For the reasons stated above I believe that the keystone should be on the Bible in this degree. The keystone represents your spiritual self and Bible representing God and therefore bringing both into closer contact with each other.

You will also note that you were not given any working tools in this degree. For there are no working tools that can bring you closer to God. Only through your spiritual self and of your own free will and accord can you become one with God.

In the 7th Degree on your first admission into a Chapter you were received under a living arch, to teach you that the principal secrets of this Degree can be communicated only under a living arch, and also to teach you a lesson in humility, for he that humbles himself shall be exalted.

Here I believe that the living arch represents Mankind. We as Royal Arch Masons should live humble lives with our fellow man. We should live our lives as examples of how the Children of God should live in such a way that will inspire others to follow our examples. We are not to put ourselves above others so that they will look to us, but we are to let our light shine so that others can see the path to God.

So I believe that the arch should be on the Bible with the arch representing God’s Children and their oneness with Him.

The Rituals are only a starting point, within their pages are hidden the keys to the Bible, but only of your own free will accord will you ever find the keys and the doors that they open.

I have not presented this for you to change what you put on the Altar, because it matters not what you put on the Alter. What does matter is what you put in your heart and that is what I care about. My only hope is that one or more of you will take this as what it is, a simple paper that states that there is more than just what meets the eye, even in the Ritual.

The Rituals like everything in Masonry is full of veils so that only “those that seek shall find”, “those that ask shall be answered”, and “only those that knock shall receive”.

I will leave you with the following from the Holy Bible:

Therefore speak I to them in parables: because
they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not,
neither do they understand.

And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias,
which saith, by hearing ye shall hear, and shall
not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall
not perceive:

For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and
their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes
they have closed; let at any time they should
see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
and should understand with their heart, and
should be converted, and I should heal them. (Matthew 13: 13-15)

Yesterday I was that I was
Today I am that I am
Tomorrow I will be what God makes me

Yours in Love, Peace, and Unity,

Byron E. Hams
A Lifetime Apprentice
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i really enjoyed your veiws on the degrees great work

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