|ENTERED APPRENTICE DEGREE
By Byron E. Hams
The Entered Apprentice Degree is far
removed from all that is trivial, selfish and ungodly.
Its structure is built upon the
everlasting foundation of that God-given law-the Brotherhood
of man, in the family whose Father Is God.
From the 1st degree to the 33rd degree I
have searched for masonic light. Light that has been veiled
in allegory, and illustrated by symbols. After years of
studying the allegories and symbols of the many degrees I
have found that I received the light I was looking for in
the 1st degree.
Let us start with the Holy Bible which is
given us as the rule and guide for our faith and practice.
In the Holy Bible are found those simple
teachings of the universality of brotherhood, the love of
God for his children, and the hope of immortality of the
soul. These are the teachings of masonry in every tongue, in
every land, for those of every faith.
The Square to square our actions, and the
Compasses to circumscribe our desires and to keep our
passions in due bounds with all mankind, especially the
The Working Tools of Entered Apprentice
are the Twenty-four-inch Gauge and the Common Gavel, and are
The Twenty-four-inch Gauge is an
instrument used by operative masons to measure and lay out
their work; but we, as 1st degree masons, are taught to use
it for the more noble and glorious purpose of dividing our
time. It being divided into twenty-four equal parts, is
emblematical of the twenty-four hours of the day, which we
are taught to divide into three equal parts, whereby are
found eight hours for the service of God and a distressed
worthy brother, (and I stress the importance of the word
worthy)eight for our usual vocations, and eight for
refreshment and sleep.
The Common Gavel is an instrument used by
operative masons to break off the corners of rough stones,
the better to fit them for the builder's use; but we, as 1st
degree masons, are taught to use it for the more noble and
glorious purpose of divesting our hearts and consciences of
all the vices and superfluities of life, thereby fitting our
minds, as living stones, for that spiritual building-that
house not made with hands-eternal in the heavens.
You were given a new name, Caution, which
is to teach you to be cautious over all your words and
actions, especially on the subject of Freemasonry when in
the presence of its enemies.
The Supports of a Lodge, Wisdom, Strength
Wisdom, because there should be wisdom to
contrive, Strength to support, and Beauty to adorn all great
and important undertakings.
The Covering of a Lodge is no less than
the clouded canopy, or starry-decked heaven, where all good
Masons hope at last to arrive by aid of that ladder which
Jacob in his vision saw extended from earth to heaven, the
principal rounds of which are denominated Faith, Hope and
Charity,which admonish us to have Faith in God, Hope In
immortality, and Charity to all mankind. The greatest of
these is Charity; for our Faith may be lost in sight, Hope
ends in fruit ion, but Charity extends beyond the grave,
through the boundless realms of eternity.
Faith Is the foundation of justice, the
bond of amity, and the chief support of society. We live by
Faith; we walk by Faith; by Faith we have a continual hope
in the acknowledgment of a Supreme Being; by Faith we are
justified, accepted and finally saved.
Hope is the anchor of the soul, both sure
and steadfast, and enters into that within the veil: let a
firm reliance on the Almighty's faithfulness animate our
endeavors, and teach us to fix our Hopes within the limits
of his promises.
Charity is the brightest gem that can
adorn our Masonic profession. Happy is the man who has sowed
in his breast the seeds of benevolence; the produce thereof
is love and peace. The objects of true charity among Masons
are merit and virtue in distress; persons who are incapable
of extricating themselves from misfortunes in their journey
through life; industrious men who, from unavoidable
accidents, have fallen into ruin; Widows left destitute by
lack of husbands' support; orphans in tender years, needing
a father's care; and the aged, whose strength is exhausted,
and who are thereby rendered unable to procure for
themselves that substance necessary to nourish their
declining years. This is Charity the keystone of our mystic
The Furniture of a Lodge, the Holy Bible,
the Square, and the Compasses. As a more definite guide for
a Freemason, the Lodge furnishes him with unerring rules
whereby he should form his conduct.
The Holy Bible is laid before him, that he
may not say through ignorance he erred. Whatever the Great
Architect of the world hath dictated to mankind, as to the
path in which to tread, and as to the mode in which He would
be served, is upright and just, and will obtain His
approbation; whatever precepts He hath administered, and
with whatever laws He hath inspired the sages of old, the
same are faithfully comprised in the Book of the Law of
The Rule, the Square, and the Compasses
are emblematical of the conduct we should pursue in society;
to observe punctuality in all our engagements; faithfully
and religiously to discharge those important obligations
which we owe to God and to our neighbor; to be upright in
all our dealings; to keep within bounds those unruly
passions which often oftentimes interfere with the enjoyment
of society and degrade both the man and the Freemason.
The Movable Jewels are the Rough Ashlar,
the Perfect Ashlar and the Trestle board. By the Rough
Ashlar we are reminded of our rude and imperfect state by
nature; by the Perfect Ashier, of that state of perfection
at which we hope to arrive by a virtuous education, our own
endeavors and the blessing of Deity; and as the operative
workman erects his temporal building in accordance with the
designs laid down upon the Trestle-board by the master
workman, so should we, both operative and speculative,
endeavor to erect our spiritual building in accordance with
the designs laid down by the Supreme Architect of the
Universe in the Great Book of Nature and Revelation, which
is our spiritual, moral and Masonic Trestle board.
The principal tenets of our profession are
threefold, including the inculcation and practice of those
truly commendable virtues, Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
By the exercise of Brotherly Love we are
taught to regard the whole human race as one family--the
high, the low, the rich, the poor--who, being created by one
Almighty Parent, and inhabitants of the same planet, ought
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 otherwise
have remained at a perpetual distance.
To Relieve the Distressed is a duty
incumbent on all men, but particularly on Masons, who are
linked together by an indissoluble chain of sincere
affection. To soothe the unhappy, to sympathize with them in
their misfortunes, to compassionate their miseries, and to
restore peace to their troubled minds is the great aim we
have in view. On this basis we form our friendships and
establish our connections.
Truth is a divine attribute and the
foundation of every virtue. To be good men and true is the
first lesson we are taught in Freemasonry. On this theme we
contemplate, and by its dictates endeavor to regulate our
conduct. Hence, while influenced by this principle,
hypocrisy and deceit are unknown among us, sincerity and
plain-dealing distinguish us, and the heart and the tongue
join in promoting each other's welfare and rejoicing in each
The four cardinal virtues- Fortitude,
Prudence, Temperance, and Justice.
Fortitude is that noble and steady purpose
of the mind whereby we are enabled to undergo any pain,
peril or danger, when prudently deemed expedient. This
virtue is equally distant from rashness and cowardice, and
should be deeply impressed upon your mind as a safeguard or
security against any attempt that may be made, by force or
otherwise, to extort from you any of those valuable secrets
with which you have been so solemnly entrusted, and which
was emblematically represented upon your first admission
into the Lodge.
Prudence teaches us to regulate our lives
and actions agreeably to the dictates of Reason, and is that
habit by which we wisely judge and prudently determine on
all things relative to our present as well as to our future
happiness. This virtue should be your peculiar
characteristic, not only for the government of your conduct
while in the Lodge, but also when abroad in the world. You
should be particularly cautious in all strange or mixed
companies never to let the least sign, token or word whereby
the secrets of Freemasonry might be obtained.
Temperance is that due restraint upon our
affections and passions which renders the body tame and
governable, and frees the mind from the allurements of vice.
This virtue should be your constant practice, as you are
thereby taught to avoid excess or contracting any licentious
or vicious habits, the indulgence of which might lead you to
disclose some of those valuable secrets which you have
promised to conceal and never reveal, and Which would
consequently subject you to the contempt and detestation of
all good Masons.
Justice is that standard or boundary of
right which enables us to render to every man his just due
without distinction. This virtue is not only consistent With
divine and human laws, but it is the very cement and support
of civil society; and as justice in a great measure
constitutes the really good man, so should it he Your
Invariable practice never to deviate from the minutest
The Three Precious Jewels of an Entered
Apprentice, a listening ear, a silent tongue, and a faithful
A listening ear teaches us to listen to
the instructions of the Worshipful Master, but more
especially to the cries of a worthy distressed brother.
A silent tongue teaches us to be silent in
the Lodge, that the peace and harmony thereof may not be
disturbed, but more especially before the enemies of
A faithful heart, that I should be
faithful and keep and conceal the secrets of Masonry and
those of a brother when delivered to me in charge as such,
that they may remain as secure and inviolable In my breast
as in his own, before being communicated to me.
Entered Apprentices should serve their
masters with freedom, fervency and zeal, which are resented
by Chalk, Charcoal and Clay.
There is nothing freer than Chalk, the
slightest touch of which leaves a trace; there is nothing
more fervent than Charcoal, for to it, when properly
ignited, the most obdurate metals will yield; there is
nothing more zealous than Clay, our Mother- Earth, for it
alone of all the elements has never proved unfriendly to
man. Bodies of Water deluge him with rain, oppress him with
hail and drown him with inundation; the Air rushes in storms
and prepares the tempest; and Fire lights up the volcano;
but the Earth, ever kind and indulgent, is found subservient
to his wishes. Though constantly harassed, more to furnish
the luxuries than the necessaries of life, she never refuses
her accustomed yield, spreading his pathway with flowers and
his table with plenty. Though she produces poison, still she
supplies the antidote, and returns with interest every good
committed to her care; and when at last we are called upon
to pass through the "dark Valley of the shadow of death" she
once more receives us, and piously covers our remains within
her bosom, thus admonishing us that as from it we came, so
to it we must shortly return.
As from earth we came, so to the earth we
As from the Entered Apprentice Degree I
started my search for light, so to the Entered Apprentice
Degree I returned to find light.
All the secrets of Masonry are contained
in the first three degrees, and it is those degrees we need
to study to become well informed masons of any degree.
All this light can be found in the
Duncan's Ritual and Standard Monitor in the Entered