Fellowcraft... the Second Step Forward towards Understanding Strength...
The Fellowcraft Degree symbolizes the stage of adulthood (Manhood) and responsibility during a man's life on earth. In this stage, his task is to acquire knowledge and apply it to the building of his character and improving the fraternity and society in which he lives. As a leader of our Masonic lectures, William Preston saw Masonry as a means to educate men in the liberal arts and sciences. A Fellowcraft Mason is urged to advance his education in these fields during the ritual of this Degree. The Second Degree or step addresses the mind and its faculties. We are reminded of the strength that comes from the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences which were formulated hundreds of years ago in order to develop and perfect the mental nature with intention to prepare the mind for spiritual truths.
Men, when they are spiritually young, may be so impatient, that they refuse to submit themselves to a long and embraced apprenticeship, but rush out into manhood with all its tasks and responsibilities, without understanding or knowledge, trusting per to speak, to their luck. This belief of nature that the goods of life come by luck, or that they happen by chance or fall out by accident to the fortunate, is their greatest misfortunate method of gaining knowledge. The satisfying provisions of life, whether spiritual understranding, moral virtue, intellectual strength, or physical well being, have a nature which renders it impossible for them ever to be gainfully and lasting from luck. These many times are realized by strength of trans-formations in our own natures, which are often challenging, within the process productive to the heart, and fruitful when accomplished.
It is by the same transformations that a man gains great trust and truth; A Faith, which is the knowledge of God; A Sacred Brotherhood, which is a well grounded life of fellowship. It is understandable that many men do not understand this, or if they might, have not the will to follow it, or else do not sincerely believe in their hearts a sacred bond among brothers.
Geometry allows a sacred science of discovering the nature of reality and through it to God, our Creator. “Geometry rightly treated is the knowledge of the eternal.” And also: “Geometry must ever tend to draw the soul towards the truth.” There are some Masonic researchers who think that the letter “G” represents a little known method of Biblical interpretation known as gematria. Exploring this technique of letter-number substitution, one looks for words, names, and phrases that add up to like values. Like values are thought to have meaningful relationships. The Hebrew word for “heaven” (ha-shamayim) has the same gematria value as the word for “soul” (neshamah); that is, 395, derived by adding up each letter to arrive at a total. The Qabalist would say this means that the soul is identical with heaven.
Another interesting find gematria can be found by comparing the Hebrew words for “love” (ahebah) and “unity” (echad), both of which add to 13. Combining the values of these two words gives us 26, the number of the Hebrew word rendered in English as Jehovah, the principal Name of God the Father. This is a clear intimation of immortality that the nature of God can be understood as Love and Unity towards the bretheren. This explanatory and revealing technique can be used with both the Hebrew universal scriptures and the Greek Christian scriptures. There are other texts that have been found to contain hidden gematria in Latin and Arabic, as well. From the practice of gematria have arisen extremely interesting techniques, which reveal a type of spiritual Geometry hidden within the Scriptures.
The reference to our ancient brethren receiving their wages at the porchway of the Temple of Wisdom is an allusion to an experience common to every one in the Fellow-Craft stage of development. He learns that old scores due by him to his fellowmen must be paid off and old wrongs righted, and receives the wages of past sins recorded upon his subconsciousness by that pencil that observes and there records all our thoughts, words and actions. The candidate leading the philosophic life realizes that he is justly entitled to those wages and receives them without scruple or diffidence, knowing himself to be justly entitled to them and only too glad to expiate and purge himself of old offences. For we are all debtors to some one or other for our present position in life, and must repay what we owe to humanity-perhaps with tears or adversity-before we straighten our account with that eternal Justice with which we aspire to become allied.
"Thus he showed me: and behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumb-line, with a plumb-line in his hand. And the Lord said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumb-line. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumb-line in the midst of my people Israel; I will not again pass by them any more."--Amos vii. 7, 8.
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