The Free Mason Examin’d
The World brought out of Darkness into Light
Being an Authentic Account of all the Secrets of the Antient Society of Free-Masons which have been handed down by Oral Tradition only, from the Institution, to the present Time. In which is particularly described, the Whole Ceremony used at making Masons as it has been hitherto practised in all the Lodges round the Globe; by which any Person, who was never made, may introduce himself into a Lodge. With Notes, Explanatory, Historical, and Critical. To which are added, The Author’s Reasons for the Publication hereof, and some Remarks on the Conduct of the Author of a Pamphlet call’d Masonry Dissected. With A New and Correct List of all the Regular Lodges, under the English Constitution, according to their late Removals, and Additions.
Late Master of three Regular Constituted Lodges in the City of Norwich.
To the Reader
As Free-Masonry is to be the subject of the following sheets, I suppose the Reader would gladly be informed by what means I obtained this mighty secret, which has been actually kept from all ranks of people, (except those who have been regularly initiated) ever since the Institution; which, according to oral tradition, was at the building of Babel’s Tower: the bulls of the Pope, nor the tortures of that infernal place the Inquisition, could never extort the secret from any faithful Brother, neither was the secrets of this Craft (for so it is called) ever exposed ’till now, though many have pretended to it, as well in France as in England. A pamphlet, called Masonry Dissected, was publish’d here several years ago, by one Samuel Pritchard, who, for a confirmation of the truth of what he had written, annexed an affidavit to it, which he had sworn before an alderman of London, that what he was going to publish was a true and perfect copy in every particular; notwithstanding he has, in the same pamphlet, inserted an oath, or obligation, (which he says he took when he was made a Mason) by which he was solemnly bound not to reveal, or cause to be revealed, any of the secrets of Free-Masonry; therefore an impartial person will be greatly puzzled to determine which of these oaths he may with any certainty believe.
It may likewise be a matter of great wonder, how the magistrate could be guilty of so gross an error, as to administer an oath to this Anatomist, after he had taken (as he said) so solemn an obligation, which certainly the magistrate could by no means contradict; for which reason he must appear to him actually forsworn, unless the alderman thought the former oath was of no force, because it was administer’d by a person who had not the same authority with himself.
Now as some of my Readers may possibly be of the same opinion, tho’ it is certainly a very weak one, I shall introduce the opinion of Bishop Sanderson, the greatest Casuist that ever treated upon the Subject of oaths; who says, “When a Thing is not by any Precept or Interdict, Divine or Human, so determin’d but every Man, pro hic & nunc, may at his own Choice do or not do, as he sees expedient; Let him do what he will, he sinneth not, 1 Cor. vii. 36. As if Caius should swear to sell his land to Titius, or to lend him an hundred crowns: the answer is brief, an oath in this case is both lawful and binding.”
Now this judicious author mentions nothing concerning the authority of those who are to administer oaths, but positively affirms, that if one man swears to another, that he will sell him his land, or lend him an hundred crowns, &c. that he is bound to fulfil his oath.
Therefore if a Man binds himself by an oath, in a matter of the least moment, whether before a magistrate or not, he should still remember that he is before the Supreme Judge, and is therefore obliged to perform it, otherwise he is certainly guilty of the horrible sin of perjury.
If therefore this sham Dissector of Free-Masonry had ever taken so solemn an obligation, (which he swore he did) when he was made a Mason, he was certainly forsworn by making the secret public; and as he really never did, as every impartial Reader will believe, he nevertheless was perjur’d for making oath that he had; therefore what man in his senses would ever give credit to a wretch that had been guilty of so detestible a Crime!1
The Reader will wonder then by what means I obtain’d the secrets, having never been initiated; and for my own part, I am surpriz’d they were never made public before, having pass’d for so many centuries, through so many countries, languages, sects, and parties; But however, as they never were, I shall no longer suspend the Reader’s curiosity, who will now have a fair opportunity of being as good a Mason as the best, by time, patience, and his own industry; for without a close application, he cannot be sufficiently expert, to pass an examination before his admission into a Lodge.
’Tis now upwards of ten years since this grand secret fell into my hands, which was in the following manner:
My Father was made a Free-Mason about the year 1708, when Sir Christopher Wren was Grand-Master, at the oldest Lodge in London, then held at the Goose and Gridiron Alehouse in St. Paul’s-Church-Yard; at that time many persons of distinction were admitted, and he being known to understand Masonry well, has often been sent for by noblemen, and other eminent persons, to instruct them in the Art: He continued a member of that Lodge about 34 years, which was as long as he lived; and at his death, I became master of all his effects, with a small freehold estate.
As I was one day looking over some papers in my father’s bureau, I found one folded up, and laid in a private drawer by itself, upon which I hastily open’d it; thinking it was something very extraordinary, and so it was; for this was the title: A Free-Mason’s Instruction. I thought this extremely valuable, knowing my father had been a Mason many years, and therefore I made not the least doubt but the account was authentic. I immediately applied myself to the study of Masonry, and shortly became master of the whole art.
My affairs, soon after this, required me to settle in Norwich, in which City are several Regular Lodges, and I was determined to pay a visit to some of them the first opportunity. The day after I came there, I sent to a particular acquaintance, a very eminent attorney, to ask him to dine and spend the evening with me, he accordingly came, and spent the whole afternoon, but he declin’d staying the evening, saying, “He was particularly engaged with some gentlemen, whom he must meet precisely at 7 o’clock, and wish’d I was qualified to make one of the company.” I then desir’d he would explain himself, which he accordingly did, and said, “I am at present Master of a Free-Mason’s Lodge, and am to meet two gentlemen whom I have propos’d to be made this night; and if you have an inclination that way, you may make the third.” Upon this, I thought that I had now a good opportunity to put my before-mention’d design in execution, and immediately saluted him with a sign,2 he directly answered it, by filling his glass, and drank [Success to the Craft] and then he gave me the same sign again; upon which I answered it, by filling my glass, and drank [to the aforesaid Health.] He was extremely well pleased, to think he had found a Brother so unexpectedly, and said, “Pray, Mr. Slade, how long have you been a Mason, and where was you made?” “You may remember, said I, “about five years ago, I went to Antigua with my Uncle Slade, who you know was a Mason; and, at his request, I was made at Parham Lodge, as soon as we arrived.” This I exprest with so grave a countenance, that he believed what I said to be a fact, and said, “Sir, I have no reason to doubt what you tell me, but pray answer me two or three questions;” which I did, so much to his satisfaction, that he took me by the the hand,3 and said, “Brother Slade, I am so far convinced that you are a Mason, that you shall go with me, and see these Gentlemen made.” I accordingly went, and saw the whole ceremony, which fully convinced me that the Instructions I had found in the bureau were genuine. My friend asked me to become a Member of the Lodge, which I agreed to, and was accordingly accepted, and in two years I was installed Master. Some time after this I entered myself a member of two other Lodges, in both which, I had the honour of serving that office; but as some unforeseen misfortunes occasioned me to leave Norwich, (a recital of which would be needless and tedious to the Reader) I came to London, where I was advised by some of my friends, who are not Masons, to publish this Account of Free-Masonry for a small support in my necessitous circumstances.
Therefore those ladies who have hitherto censured the Free-Masons so hard, as to think them guilty of the worst of crimes, and those gentlemen who have long neglected to be made, thinking the secret too dear a purchase, have at length an opportunity, for a trifle, of knowing the whole mystery, which now absolutely remains no longer a secret.
Call’d the Minor’s Degree
Quest. When did Free-Masonry begin?
Ans. About one hundred and fifty-four years after Noah’s Flood, at the building of Babel’s Tower.
Q. Who was Grand Master there?
A. Nimrod,4 called by Masons Belus.
Q. Where was the first Lodge5 held?
A. In a pleasant plain of Babylon, called Shinar, on the Banks of the River Tygris.
Q. On what Account was this Lodge held?
A. In order to contrive and lay a plan for a building of friendship, and also for the building of that stupendous edifice.
Q. When was this Lodge held?
A. An hundred and one years after the Flood.
Q. Did they finish the work which they began?
A. No. it was not completely finished; for God confounded their language, that they could not understand what each other called for.
Q. What succeeded the confusion of tongues?
A. When Belus was baffled in this Grand Design, he assembled another Grand Lodge, and instructed his men how to converse by Signs,6 &c., whereby they were capable of executing his future designs.
Q. What success attended his instructions?
A. The success was great; for soon the Plain of Shinar became far more splendid than all other parts, in the magnificence of its buildings.
Q. What were the first injunctions Belus laid on the Masons?
A. Silence, Secrecy, and Brotherly Love.
Q. Why so?
A. Silence and secrecy were enjoined us, that none but the initiated should ever know our Art and Mystery; and Brotherly Love, that by our unparallel’d esteem and regard for each other’s welfare, and that of the Craft in general, our fame might spread over the face of the whole Earth and waters, so that we might be remembered among the sons of men, till time shall be no more.
Q, Did they travel into any other country?
A. Yes, they travelled into Assyria, where they built several cities, for which reason Belus was called the founder of that monarchy: They afterwards dispersed, and multiplied over the Earth, and formed themselves into Lodges, in which they made, and instructed Masons, in the usual manner.
Q. Do they continue to make after that manner?
Q, In what manner was you made?
A. Tell me by what Authority,
Thus strictly you examine me,
How I was made a Mason Free:
Ex. From Belus great I had this power.
Who laid the plan of Babel’s Tower;
Then who has such authority
As I, who Master am to thee?
A. Since from that mighty man of fame
The pow’r you have you justly claim;
From thee the secret I’ll not hide,
Who art my true and faithful guide.
Q. Give me then an exact account how you was made?
A. I was led to a door, where a man stood with a drawn sword in his hand, who asked my friend what he wanted.
Q. What did your friend reply?
A. To have me made a Mason.
Q. Did he admit you?
A. Yes, he struck the door with his sword, upon which it instantly flew open; my friend then led me by the hand into a very dark room, and then the door was shut.
Q. What succeeded this?
A. My friend then said with a loud voice thus:
“Here stands a Candidate for Masonry
Who fain vould know our Art and Mystery
Shew him the Light7 by which we work, and then
Perhaps he’ll learn the Art, like other Men.”
Upon this a door flew open, and discovered a room extremely light, out of which came three men with drawn swords, one of whom said, [Deliver your Friend to us.] Upon this my Friend delivered me to their care, and I was ushered into the Lodge, one walking before, and one on each side, and my friend in the rear. Thus was I brought out of darkness into light.
Q. What did they do after this?
A. They informed the Master they were ready to execute his orders.
Q. What did he order?
A. He ordered them to strip me naked.
Q. Did they strip you naked?
Q. What was the reason they stripped you?
A. In order that all the Lodge might be well assured they were not imposed on by a woman.
Q. What reason have they for not admitting women into this Mystery?
A. Because it is well known that Women in general cannot keep their own secrets, much less those they are entrusted with.
Q. What proof have you of this?
A. We have many proofs of this, both in sacred and profane history; but as one may serve, the story of Samson and Delilah will be sufficient: This man had no sooner revealed the secret, wherein his great strength lay, to his dearly-beloved mistress, than she discovered it, and betray’d him to the Philistines, Judges xvi. for which reason women are thought not proper to be trusted with the secrets of Masonry, and Samson was never after that numbered among Free-Masons.8
Q. Suppose a Brother should prove so weak as to betray the secrets to his wife or anybody else, what is his punishment?
A. If it should ever be known, he would be immediately expelled the Lodge to which he belonged, and never admitted to visit any other Lodge whatever.
Q. If a woman should rashly swear, that she would never cohabit with her husband, unless he told her the secrets, would that excuse him?
A. No, by no means; because he may as easily persuade her that there is nothing more in it than a set of friends well met, and assembled to be merry, or tell her any tale that is plausible.
Q. Proceed now to tell me what they did with you after you was stripped.
A. The Master clothed me with the Badge of Innocence.9
Q. What did he do after that?
A. He took me by the right hand, and placed me in the centre of the Brethren; he then ordered me to kneel down on both my knees, and held the point of a sword which he had in his hand to my throat; and then he addressed me as follows:
You are now going to be admitted a member of this antient and honourable Fraternity, and it is expected that you will lay yourself under the following Obligation.
You shall not reveal to any person or persons, either by word of mouth, or your own handwriting, or cause to be revealed in any manner whatever any part or parts, point or points, or any traditions, which have been, are now, or shall hereafter be held as a secret among Free-Masons, unless to an honest man,10 whom you know is a Mason, or to the Master or Wardens of any Regular Lodge.
And as it was always esteemed by the Masons of old, that to swear by the sword11 was the most binding of all obligations, so we do insist and require you solemnly to kiss the edge of this sword presented to your throat, as a signification of your full consent and approbation of the above particulars.
Your well performing this, will make you ever esteemed by this venerable Body, as the contrary will render you guilty of a breach of the most sacred band of human society, and consequently degrade you from the character of a man of honour, which every Mason ought to preserve more carefully than his Life.”
Q. What was the first thing the Master did with you after this?
A. He ordered the Wardens, who stood on each side of me, to raise me on my feet, and take off the white robe.
Q. What did he order after that?
A. He ordered all the Brethren to assist in putting on my clothes again, which they accordingly did; the Master then informed me, that as all the Lodge had assisted in clothing me when naked, so I should at all times (without prejudice to myself or family) relieve the distressed, but especially Brethren, their wives and their children.
Q. What did the Master do with you after this?
A. He presented me with a white leather apron, to wear while at work, and told me that I was now become a Fellow and Brother to kings and princes.
Q. How do you prove that?
A. Because the greatest monarchs in all ages, for the sake of knowing our Mystery, have freely consented to be made Masons, by which they were levelled with the poorest Mason on Earth.12
Q. What do you call yourself?
A. A Minor.
Q. What is the chief care and business of a Minor?
A. A Minor’s chief care and business is to sharpen the tools, clear the shop from rubbish, and sometimes to carry the hod, &c. He is likewise to attend the senior Brethren, to take care that none enter but Masons, and to keep a watchful guard all round the Lodge.
Q. Can you give me a sign?
A. No, because signs, tokens and words, we are not entrusted with, while we are in this degree.
Q. Why so?
A. Because this is only a degree of probation, which all must pass thro’, who are made Masons; it being necessary the Lodge should have some trial of their behaviour, before they are admitted into the next degree.
Q. What proof of their behaviour is necessary?
A. The proof they desire is this.
The Minor is enjoined to secrecy
Before he can be made a Major Free;
Before he can receive the Major’s Word,
He oft must guard the Lodge with flaming sword
He must be silent, sober, and discreet.
And to his Brethren all affectionate;
Then may he to great Babel’s Tow’r repair,
And on him take a Major’s character.
Q. Are you desirous of knowing the Major’s secrets?
Ex. Your good behaviour alone will not obtain them.
A. By that alone they could not be obtain’d;
But I by that a golden signet gain’d,
Which will admit me into that degree,
That I may work among the Majors Free.
Q. What is that signet?
A. A Ring.
Ex. Produce it.
A. Behold it here. [Here he shows a ring.]
Ex. Attend my Brethren all that round me stand,
While I obey great Belus’ dread command.
Our Brother here, upon examination,
Desires I’ll place him in a higher station;
A Minor Character has well maintain’d
And answer’d all things well; by which he’s gain’d
The Signet rare, which Belus did ordain
For such as could the Minor’s Art attain.
That they may to the Tow’r repair and be
Receiv’d to work among the Majors Free.
’Tis then my will and pleasure that he may
Begin to work, and enter into pay.
End of Part the First
N.B. A Minor is always thus examined before his admission into the Major’s Degree; which examination if he cannot learn, he must give every member of the Lodge a pair of gloves for himself, and a pair for his wife, which will entitle him to the ring before-mentioned; which he must have, it being a warrant for his admission; but he must not commit any part of this to writing, because it may be exposed, by negligence or accidents [Witness this book.]
Call’d the Major’s Degree
Q. What are you?
A. A Mason.
Q. In what Degree?
A. The Major’s.
Q. How came you to arrive at that honour?
A. By virtue of a signet.
Q. How came you by that signet?
A. By my good behaviour, and also after a true and just examination.
Q. Where did you pass that examination?
A. In a Secret Arbour,13 on the Banks of the Tygris.
Q. Who examined you?
A. The man whose name was Sabas.
Q. Have you then serv’d your time?
A. And can the ladder climb.
Q. Know you the Art full well?
A. In that I do excell.
Q. What is the Art?
A. The Art of Masonry; that is, cutting stone, according to Geometry, by means of Square, Level, and Plumb, and cementing them to each other; and also the Art of Examination, by which one Mason may know another.
Q. What did Sabas do with you?
A. After he had examined me, he led me round the Tower, and then knocked at the Brazen Gate nine times.
Q. Why did he knock nine times?
A. In order that the Watchman of the Gate might know that he had been with me round the Tower, which was nine miles.
Q. What was the diameter?
A. Three miles.
Q. How high was it?
A. 5146 paces.
Q. Give me a farther account of it,
A. The passage that went to the top was on the outside, and like a winding stair-case, of a very great breadth, so that camels and carriages might go up and down, and turn with ease.
Q. How many men were employed in this building?
Q. How many years were they employed in this work?
Q. What was the reason this Tower was built so very extensive?
A. To make them a great name, and also to save them from the second deluge.
Q. When Sabas had knocked, did the gate open?
Q. Who was Sabas?
A. The eldest Brother of Belus.
Q. Why was the eldest brother set to examine you?
A. Because he was Super-intendent and Examiner extraordinary to Belus.
Q. What did Sabas do with you?
A. He led me to Belus.
Q. What did Belus say to you?
A. He asked me what I came there for.
Q. What was your reply?
A. I told him that as I had served my time duly and truly, I hoped he would now employ me, and give me wages.
Q. What did he reply?
A. He asked me for the warrant, and I gave him the signet, and then he addressed me as follows:
Will you obey your Master, Superintendent, Wardens, and Deacons of your Lodge? Will you submit to their directions, and do your daily task with freedom, cheerfulness, and sobriety?
A. I will.
Q. Will you readily answer all lawful signs and summonses given or sent you, and attend the duties of your Lodge, closely applying yourself to the business of Masonry?
A. I will.
Q. Will you be behave like a true Noachidæ,14 and instruct the younger Brethren, using all endeavours to increase Brotherly Love?
A. I will.
Q. Will you be cautious in your words and carriage, that the most penetrating stranger may not discover or find out what is not proper to be intimated, having always your breast fortified against all attempts that may be made by the artful and designing?
A. I will endeavour so to be.
Q. If a Brother comes to visit your Lodge,15 will you prudently and cautiously examine him, (if ordered) that you may not be imposed on by an ignorant pretender, and beware of giving him any hints of knowledge; but if he proves a true and faithful Brother of a Regular Lodge, especially an officer, be sure you admit him; otherwise you strike at the very foundation of Masonry, and in time will destroy our glorious Building of Friendship, by denying a true Brother that greedom, which our Society alone, so many centuries has boasted of.
A. All this I will readily and glady perform.
Q. Will you relieve your distressed Brethren, if it is in your power, or else direct them how they may be relieved? Will you employ them, or recommend them to be employed, always preferring a poor Brother, that is a good man and true, before any other poor person whatever?
A. I will.
Q. Will you be a peaceable subject, and conform cheerfully to the government, under which you do now, or may hereafter live? Will you be a good parent, and a good husband, loving your wife as yourself, being always careful that you defile not your neighbour’s wife, but more especially a Brother’s wife, sister, or daughter?
A. To this I will cheerfully conform.
Q. Finally, all these laws you shall faithfully keep and perform, to the utmost of your power, without any equivocation, mental reservation, or self-evasion of mind: that all mankind may see the benign influence of Masonry, and that the praise thereof may endure till the General Conflagration.
A. All these I will perform to the utmost of my power.
Q. What succeeded this?
A. After this I was instructed in the Nature of Signs, Tokens, and Words.
Q. Can you give me the first Sign of a Mason?
Q. Can you give me the Second?
Q. Can you give me the first Token?
Q. Can you give me the Second?
Q. Give me the first Word?
Q. Give me the Second?
Q. Of what use are Signs, Tokens, and Words?
A. To make ourselves known to each other, wheresoever dispersed over the face of the Earth and sea; so that we may be admitted into all Lodges, and, if in distress, find relief.
Q. What did Belus present you with after this?
A. He presented me with the Square, Level, Plumb Rule, and Compass.
Q. What are their uses?
A. That we may work both regular and true,
And Virtue’s paths most ardently pursue;
For by these Tools we learn Morality,
As well as learn the Art of Masonry.
Q, How many make a Regular Lodge?
A. Six,22 because the first Lodge was composed of six Masons only.
Q. Who were the Six?
A. Belus, Sabas, Evilas, Sabathes, Sabactus, and Ramus.
Q. Who was their Father?
A. Chus, the eldest son of Ham, the youngest son of Noah.
Q. What form was the Lodge?
A. A circle.
Q. Why so?
A. Because the foundation of the Tower was a circle.
Q. In what form did the Brethren stand?
A. They stood circular, Belus, the Master, and Sabas, the Superintendent, stood diametrically opposite; Evilas and Sabathes, the two Wardens, and Sabactus and Ramus, the two Deacons, stood opposite likewise.
Q. Can a Mason be made without these officers being present?
A. No; the officers must be present, or else the Lodge is not regular; and every officer takes his name according to the seniority of his office. The Master of a Lodge is always called Belus, the Superintendent Sabas, and so on.
Q. How came Belus, who was the youngest Brother of the Six, to become their Master?
A. Because he was an active, enterprizing man, and was the first person who proposed the building of the Tower: He was likewise the original projector of forming men into society,23 for which he will be always celebrated by the Masons, which is the most ancient society on Earth.
Ex. If thou to Babel’s Tow’r hast been,
And hast our first Grand Master seen,
Of that same Tow’r thou hadst the plan,
From that renown’d and mighty man.
A. The plan of Babel’s Tow’r I have,
Which last of all great Belus gave.
Ex. Welcome loving faithful Brother,
Thou well hast answer’d all:
If we keep true to one another,
The Craft will never fall.
The End of the Second Part
N.B. When a Mason is admitted into this Degree, a Tower is raised in the Lodge-room, about eight feet high; and, in some of the Grand Lodges, it is really a very curious piece of workmanship; it is made of wood, and, though in many pieces, can be raised in about two hours; the joints being made to fit with great ease, and such exactness that they are scarcely perceptible. A plan of this Tower is likewise given him at the same time.
The Officers Part or Ceremony of Installment
Q. What is your Name?
A. [Here he mentions his name according to his Office.]
Q. What is your Office?
A. [Here he mentions his Office.]
Q. What Tools belong to the Officers?
A. Belus, the Master, wears the Compass, pendent, in a white ribbon, round his neck: Sabas, the Superintendent, wears the Square; Evilas and Sabathes, the two Wardens, wear the Level and Plumb-Rule, and Sabactus and Ramus, a twenty-four-inch Rule, in each of their hands.
Q. Where was you installed?
A. In the Observatory.24
Q. How high was that?
A. On the top of the Tower.
Q. How got you there?
A. By a winding ascent.
Q. Who did you see when you came to the door?
A. Three men with drawn swords.
Q. What did they demand of you?
A. One demanded two Signs, another demanded two Tokens, and the Third demanded two Words.
Q. What was the reason of that?
A. To let them know I was qualified for an Office.
Q. Did that gain you Admittance?
Q. In what manner was you installed?
A. I first passed the Minor’s Examination, and then the Major’s; after which I was installed in proper form.
Q. How was that?
A. Belus informed me the Brethen had unanimously agreed to choose me into that Office, and then he invested me with a Badge of the same.
Q. What was that Badge?
A. [Here he names the Tool, which he wore in a white Ribbon.]
Q. Have the Officers a Secret Word?
Q. How did you receive it?
A. On my two Knees he order’d me to kneel,
Before he could the secret Word reveal;
A Word to all but Officers unknown.
Because we give it when we are alone;
The word is BELUS, be it known to thee,
’Twas that great man gave birth to Masonry.
N.B. As it may be difficult for me to persuade the Reader to believe what I have written here to be fact, I think I am under an obligation to give him some instruction, whereby he may, if he pleases, have an opportunity of proving the whole of this, or any part thereof, to be so: And first let him go to any Lodge he thinks proper, and go boldly up to the door, and give the man who stands to guard the Lodge the first Sign of a Mason, and tell him he wants admittance, and be sure to say he belongs to some Lodge in the country; then the man will ask him his name, which he must tell him, and then, he informs the Master that such a Brother desires to visit the Lodge; upon this the Master, or another Officer, will come out to examine him; and if he can pass an Examination, he need not doubt gaining admittance. The publication of this pamphlet may possibly put the Masons more upon their guard, therefore it is highly necessary, that the person who would do this, should be very perfect, and quite undaunted.
See The Whole Duty of Man, Chap. 4, on the subject of oaths.↩︎
See this sign explained, Page 19.↩︎
See this explained, Page 19.↩︎
Nimrod, which signifies a Rebel in the Jewish and Chaldean languages, was the name given him by the Holy Family, and by Moses; but among his friends in Chaldea he was called Belus, which signifies Lord; and afterwards was worshipped as a god by many nations, under the name of Bel or Baal, and became the Bacchus of the Antients, or Bar-chus, the Son of Chus.↩︎
A Lodge is a place where Masons assemble and work; hence that assembly, or duly organis’d society of Masons, is call’d a Lodge, and every Brother ought to belong to one, and be subject to its Bye-Laws and General Regulations.↩︎
This was what gave rise to what is called Free-Masonry, being fifty-three years after the first assembly or Lodge held. This tradition is firmly believed.↩︎
That is, Take him into your care, and give him all due instructions.↩︎
The word Free was added, because they taught their Art to the free-born only.↩︎
This is a loose white garment, generally made of Holland or home other fine linen, and sometimes of silk. It shews that when a man is made a Mason, he is believed to be a man of good morals, and unsully’d character, or else he cannot be made.↩︎
If a Mason prove otherwise, no Mason dare further instruct him, on pain of being expelled all Lodges.↩︎
Masons always swear by the sword, because they were always dutiful subjects, conforming cheerfully to the Government under which they lived, and were ever ready (as they now are) to defend it (when necessity required it) sword in hand.↩︎
Tho’ all Masons are upon the same level in the Lodge, they are to pay a due deference to their superiors; and from inferiors they are rather to receive honour with some reluctance than to extort it.↩︎
The Secret Arbour is a room joining to the Lodge; and the operative Free-Masons, when they are employed in any great building, have a shed near it, which they call the Arbour; here they keep their curious Tools, Utensils, &c. and likewise examine strange Brethren; here they also retire at noon in sultry weather to refresh, and sometimes to instruct each other.↩︎
This was the first name of Masons, according to some traditions, and signifies one of Noah’s Race, who were all Masons at the building of this Tower.↩︎
Visiting Lodges is an ancient practice, and was always thought necessary, in order to observe the same usages, and for cultivating a good understanding among Free-Masons; for which reason the eleventh General Regulation enjoins, that some members out of every Lodge, shall be deputed to visit the other Lodges as often as shall be thought convenient. See Book of Constitutions.↩︎
Here he gives the Sign, by pointing the fore-finger of his right hand to his mouth, which is an emblem of silence.↩︎
Here he gives the Second, by drawing his hand across his mouth, and is much like the former, and likewise signifies Silence or Secrecy: But some other traditions affirm, that this is of a later date than Babel, and that it took its rise from the story of Samson, Judges xv. who, after he had slain a thousand with the jaw-bone of an ass, he was sore athirst, and he prayed, and behold a spring proceeded from a rock called the Jaw. By reason of this exploit, the Masons, after this, frequently used this method of asking a Brother to drink, by drawing their hand across their mouth or under-jaw. This victory over the Philistines happened before Samson had revealed the great secret wherein his strength lay, to his mistress; for which reason, this will be always celebrated by the Masons.↩︎
This Token is given by shaking hands, and at the same time, pressing the fore-finger hard into the palm of the other’s hand.↩︎
This Token is likewise given by shaking hands, and at the same time, placing the fore-finger on one side of the other’s wrist, and the middle-finger of the other. The Antigallicans frequently make use of this method of shaking hands, having stolen other ceremonies, as well as this, from the Masons.
The Masons Faculty, and ancient universal practice of conversing and knowing each other at a distance, by Signs, &c. is supposed to be greatly lost, by reason there is so very little remaining; but however trifling the remains, a Mason is oliliged to answer all lawful Signs; therefore, if he be at work on the top of a building, he is obliged to come down and answer, if such a Sign be given.↩︎
EUREKA, which signifies Truth, or Fidelity, is very properly used by the Masons, as a tessera, or watch-word, to distinguish those they stile true and faithful; and is often occurring amongst them, reminds them of that secrecy they undertake to observe, and which to do them justice, they have so religiously observed, even to a Proverb.↩︎
PHILADELPHIA, or Brotherly Love. This their second Word must likewise be allowed no less judiciously chosen, and doubtless has inspired and given rise to many generous acts of esteem and benevolence among them; therefore, as I have now spread their boasted Mystery to public view, I hope their Brotherly Love will become universal, which, to use their own phrase, ought to be the Wish of all true and faithful.
I have heard it objected by many critical Brethren, that as Belus did not perfect the system of Free-Masonry, or deliver out his Signs, Tokens, and Words, till after the Confusion of Tongues, it must, of consequence, follow, that the words now in use are at least uncertain, as to their authenticity; but such cavillers would do well to consider that though indeed the diversity of language, then intended as an immediate punishment of their presumption might prevent part of that assembly from their immediate gaining them; yet the art of attaining different languages, which necessity soon set them in pursuit of, brought also the knowledge of the true sense of those words with it; for it is absurd to suppose they have the words themselves, as literally delivered by Belus; the meaning of them is sufficient for their purpose; and, without doubt, oral tradition has done that for them, since all foreign Lodges agree in the exact meaning of the words, though not in the absolute literal expression.↩︎
Though six are a sufficient number to make a Lodge; yet in fact it is not Regular, without being form’d by the Grand Master’s Warrant; and the Regular Lodges are not to countenance them, till they make due Submission, and obtain Grace.↩︎
The Society of Bucks or Barchusses, call Nimrod their illustrious founder on this account; but if they bear the antiquity they claim, ’tis strange they were never heard of till within these few years; but it is said by the Masons, that a certain Brother, despairing of ever making a shining figure in the Craft, went and form’d a new society, and call’d them Bucks, into which he introduced many of the Masons Laws and Ceremonies, but not a word of their extraordinary Assyrian Manuscript.↩︎
In this Observatory the Plan of Free Masonry was laid by Belus only, and then he instructed his Officers in the Art, after which he assembled a general Lodge, and there with the assistance of the Officers he convey’d the method of conversing by Signs, Tokens, &c. to the whole assembly.↩︎