THE ceremony of opening and conducting the business of a Lodge of Master Masons is nearly the same as in the Entered Apprentice and Fellow Crafts’ Degrees, already explained. All the business of a “Blue Lodge” (a Lodge of three Degrees) is done in the Lodge while opened on this Degree, except that of entering an Apprentice or passing a Fellow Craft, when the Lodge is lowered from the Masters’ Degree for that purpose.
The Third Degree is said to be the height of Ancient Free-masonry, and the most sublime of all the Degrees in Masonry (Royal Arch not even excepted); and when it is conferred, the Lodge is generally well filled with the members of the Lodge and visiting brethren.
The traditional account of the death, several burials, and resurrections of one of the craft, Hiram Abiff, the widow’s son, as developed in conferring this Degree, is very interesting.
We read in the Bible, that Hiram Abiff was one of the head workmen employed at the building of King Solomon’s Temple, and other ancient writings inform us that he was an arbiter between King Solomon and Hiram, king of Tyre; but his tragical death is nowhere recorded, except in the archives of Freemasonry. Not even the Bible, the writings of Josephus, nor any other writings, however ancient, of which we have any knowledge, furnish any information respecting his death. It is very singular, that
a man so celebrated as Hiram Abiff was, universally acknowledged as the third most distinguished man then living, and, in many respects, the greatest man in the world, should pass from off the stage of action, in the presence of King Solomon, three thousand three hundred grand overseers, and one hundred and fifty thousand workmen, with whom he had spent a number of years, and with King Solomon, his bosom friend, without any of his numerous confrères even recording his death, or any thing about it.
|COMPASSES, PLACED IN A LODGE OF MASTER MASONS, ”BOTH POINTS ELEVATED ABOVE THE SQUARE,” (See Note B, Appendix.)|
A Master Masons’ Lodge is styled by the Craft the “Sanctum Sanctorum, or Holy of Holies, of King Solomon’s Temple,” and when the Lodge is opened on this Degree, both points of the compasses are elevated above the square. (See engraving.)
A candidate for the sublime Degree of a Master Mason is generally (as in the preceding Degrees) prepared by the Junior Deacon and the two Stewards, or some other brethren acting as such.
PREPARING THE CANDIDATE
The candidate is divested of all wearing apparel, except his shirt and drawers, and if he has not the latter, he is furnished with a pair by the brethren preparing him. The drawers are rolled up just above the candidate’s knees, and both arms are taken out of his shirt-sleeves, leaving his legs and breast bare. A rope, technically called, by Masons, a cable-tow, is wound around his body three times, and a bandage, or hoodwink, is tied very closely over his eyes. (See engraving.)
When the candidate is prepared, the Deacon takes him by the left arm, leads him up to the door of the Lodge, and gives three loud, distinct knocks.
The Senior Deacon, who has stationed himself at the inner door, at the right of the Senior Warden, on hearing these raps rises to his feet, makes the sign of a Master Mason to the Master (see Fig. 6, p. 18), and says:
Worshipful Master, while engaged in the lawful pursuit of Masonry, there is an alarm at the inner door of our Lodge.
W. M.–You will attend to the alarm, and ascertain the cause.
Senior Deacon gives three loud knocks (• • •), which are responded to by one (•) from the parties outside. The Senior Deacon then answers with one rap (•), and opens the door.
|CANDIDATE DULY AND TRULY PREPARED.|
(See Note J, Appendix.)