CRYPTIC MASONRY

HUGH M'CURDY, OF MICHIGAN.

The Voice of Masonry - 1880

To Royal and Select Masters are given the keystone in
Masonry, more precious than is known by the vast workers
of the quarries; and it has been truthfully proclaimed that to
preserve and transmit our principles to those who succeed
us, in the hour of low twelve, is a sacred, bounden duty we
owe to Cryptic Masonry. Thus believing, we should often
revert to the origin of our Institution, for as has been said, it
is only by digging to the foundation and examining each
stone minutely that we can rightfully estimate what has been
erected thereon. It is so with Freemasonry.

The first Grand Council which assembled at Jerusalem was
composed of Solomon, King of Israel; Hiram, King of Tyre,
and Hiram Abiff - the three Grand Masters, who, unobserved
by "prying eyes," devised the entire plan by which the temple
should be erected, how the workmen should be divided into
various degrees, each class consisting of an independent
body, whereby it might be recognized by the peculiar sign of
that degree. Most happily, too, they combine within the
power of the council the alpha and the omega of
Freemasonry, thereby denominating Cryptic Masonry, by
way of pre-eminence, the summit and perfection of Ancient
Craft Masonry. Thus, in fact, the duties, the powers, the
responsibilities of a council embrace the whole range of
Ancient Craft Masonry, from the conception of the idea in the
heart until the candidate is in the full possession of our
mysteries, or in our own peculiar language, until he has
passed the circle of perfection. It is in the secret vault,
securely guarded, that the illustrious companions are
required not only to search out the truth but to determine
plans and design objects for the private as well as general
good of the Craft.

If, therefore, companions who constitute this class and who
have passed the circle of perfection - who have witnessed
the wisdom, strength and beauty of our principles, would be
but true to their obligations and faithful to their requirements,
what immense good could be accomplished. No bickerings,
no strife and no conflicts could ever exist in the Masonic
institution, but peace, concord and tranquility would prevail,
and the only contention in the whole Masonic family of earth
would be who can best work and who can best agree.
Brotherly love and charity would be happily blended
together, and the life and character of a gentleman, of a
faithful brother and devoted companion, would be merged m
the life and purity of a consistent Mason. With you and all
illustrious companions who have entered the secret vault
rests the responsibility of confusion ever prevailing in the
lodge, chapter or council. Hence you perceive that the
charge of a Select Master is literally true when it says to
each of, you "that your obligations are increased in
proportion to your privileges; and also let it be your constant
care to prove yourself worthy of the confidence reposed in
you and of the high honor conferred on, you in admitting you
among Select Masters."

The degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and
Master Mason were originally Ancient Craft Masonry; while
the old constitutions gave the Master the right and authority
to congregate his members into a chapter for the purpose of
conferring the Royal Arch, which originally constituted a part
of the Third degree. In elucidating the Royal Arch it becomes necessary that other degrees should be incorporated into the chapter for the purpose of explaining the various parts of the temple. Hence the Mark and Most Excellent Master's degrees were added and conferred before the Royal Arch.

In process of time it became necessary to establish a
Council whose province it should be to "account for the
concealment and preservation of those essentials of the
Craft which were brought to light at the erection of the
second temple, and which lay concealed from the mystic eye four hundred and seventy years." Hence Cryptic Masonry was inaugurated.

In different countries different systems prevail to inculcate,
enforce and teach Ancient Craft Masonry; but in this country
it is confined to the degrees of the lodge, chapter and
council. Cryptic Masonry, therefore, is contained within the
degrees of Royal and Select Masters, and are numbered
eight and nine in the York rite, although in a chronological
point of view they are the first and last degrees, hence called
the alpha and omega of Ancient Craft Masonry. They
illustrate the mysteries of Masonry, and without a full, perfect
and complete knowledge of these degrees our Masonic
edifice is incomplete and unfinished; or, as has been aptly
said, "the degrees of Royal and Select Masters are polished
and perfect ashlars, marked and numbered for the building."

Delos, an island of the Cyclades, was famed in ancient times
for the number and skill of its artists, and for the splendid
temple and oracle of Apollo, raised eventually as an asylum
to his mother when she was pursued from place to place by
the implacable Juno. From this famous oracle came the
fount of inspiration, said to be a chasm from which issued
the exhilarating vapor. Over this was built the tripod of the
gods from which a populace could breathe the ascending
distillations. To the inbred Mason we need riot enlarge this
illustration. The soul grows as truly as the Mason grows - as
the tree takes in the air of the universe, aided by dew and
rain, and by its mysterious chemistry transmits sap and fiber
into wood and leaf, and flower and fruit, and color and
perfume, so does the soul of the Mason drink in living
knowledge and by a divine alchemy, as patent and with the
same inherent force as that which lies hid in the germ of the
acorn. The virtuous Roman truly said, "Either let not that
which seems expedient be base, or if it be base, let it not be
expedient."

If our Masonic Order were merely a thing of yesterday; if it
were local and confined to one country, or to men of one
faith; or if the number of its initiates were limited to this or
that clime, or its capacity for good or evil devoted to selfish
ends, the question of its morality and philosophy might well
be consigned to one grave. Not in vain are the winged seeds
of truth ever sown. GOD sees that they take root somewhere
and grow. The truth of all this is witnessed in the past history
of nearly 6,000 years - their pungent facts have been figured
on the breast-plate of time. When our ancient brethren
dispensed their charities under the frowns of barbarism -
when they disregarded the anathemas of kings and rulers
and gathered around common altars in fraternal relations -
they gave divine evidence that the Order would survive the
mutations of time; and if we, brothers, shall continue to
emulate the virtues of these good and faithful men, it will
survive the wreck of ages yet to come.

Need I say more in honor of that Craft whose acts shine
among the brightest in the domain of "good will to man?"
Deeds of love, it may well be claimed, are the chief
employment of the angels of GOD, and into a soul that
overflows with bounty the bright-robed messengers of faith,
hope and charity constantly descend. Our faith after death
shall be swallowed up in victory; our hope consumed only by
its enjoyment, and our charity ended when we shake off
mortality in the boundless atmosphere of eternal love.

 

         

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