SHORT TALK BULLETIN - Vol.III April, 1925 No.4
You are taught that, as an Entered Apprentice, you are passing
through the period of early Masonic youth. As a Fellowcraft, should
you attain that higher estate, you will learn your condition then,
is emblematic of manhood; while as a Master Mason, if it is your
happy fortune ever to be raised to the Light, you will learn that
true Freemasonry makes a man sure of a well spent life, and gives
him assurance of a glorious immortality.
When newly born into the world, a human baby is the most helpless of
all animals. His first tender years are wholly a time of learning;
learning to eat, learning to manage his members, learning to walk,
learning to make himself understood, learning to understand. The
period you, as an Entered Apprentice, must spend before you can
receive the degree of Fellowcraft corresponds to these early years
of childhood; you must learn to manage your Masonic Members, you
must learn to understand Masonic language and to make yourself
understood in it.
The Entered Apprentice is more like a child in an institution than
like one in a home. In the home the child has the undivided
attention of his parents; in the institution he has, necessarily,
only the divided attention of those who must mother and father many
children, and the help he individually receives is less as the
number who claim it is greater. The lodge is an institution; as an
Entered Apprentice you will receive careful instruction in the
necessary arts of Masonry, in so far as you are prepared to receive
them, but, obviously, there can be no coddling, no tender individual
attentions to you which are not also given to all other Entered
Apprentices of your lodge.
One child stands out above another in its development in an
institution because of its inherent brightness, and because of its
willingness to study and to learn. As an Entered Apprentice Mason
you will stand out above your fellows as you pay strict attention to
those brethren who are your instructors, and as you are willing to
study and learn. For your monitors, my brother, no matter how great
their erudition, and how large their charity and willingness to
serve you, can only point for you the path, and give you those
elementary instructions in Masonry which are the minimum with which
you can walk onward.
Your feet have been set upon a path. In your hands has been thrust
the staff of ritual, the bread of knowledge and the water of prayer.
With these alone you can proceed up the path until you come to the
wall marked "Fellowcraft, " and the straight gate through which you
can pass only if you have digested the bread, drunk the water and
still have your staff. But you can climb quicker, see more of the
beauties by the way, and arrive with greater strength for the next
highway upon which you will travel, if you are not content with the
least which you if you may take as aids, but demand a greater
There are books, my brother; many, many books. First, there is what
is known as the Monitor of your jurisdiction; a small book which
contains all of the ritual of all of the degrees, which may be
printed. A careful study of it will recall to your mind much that
you heard while receiving your first degree, and suggests many
questions to your mind; questions which any thinking candidate must
ask, and queries which, answered, will make him a better Entered
Apprentice. The answers to many of these questions you will find in
many good books on Freemasonry.
Any Entered Apprentice who will read and ponder a good volume which
deals with the first degree of Freemasonry, will approach the West
Gate for his Fellowcraft degree in a more humble attitude and a more
confident heart than he who is satisfied merely with his staff, his
bread and his water.
For consider, my brother; Freemasonry is old, very old.
No man knoweth just how old, but deep students of the art have
gathered unimpeachable evidence; evidence of the character which
would be convincing in a court of law, that the principles which
underlie Freemasonry and which are taught in its symbolism, go back
beyond the dawn of written history. Freemasonry's symbols are found
wherever the physical evidences of ancient civilizations are
unearth. Secret orders of all ages, all climes, all peoples, have,
independently of each other, sought the Great Truths along the same
paths, and concealed what they found in much the same symbols.
Freemasonry is the repository of the learning of the ages, a
storehouse of the truths of life and death, religion and
immortality; aye, even of the truths we know regarding the Great
Architect of the Universe, which have been painfully won, word by
word and line by line, from the books of nature and of the inquiring
mind, by literally thousands of generations of men.
No man has mind big enough, quick enough, open enough to absorb and
understand in an evening even the introduction to what Freemasonry
knows; not in a month of evenings! No degree, no matter how
impressively performed, can possibly take him far along this road.
All that the Entered Apprentice degree can do is to point the way,
and give you the sustenance by which you may travel.
You may travel with your ears closed, and your eyes upon the ground.
You will arrive, physically, even as a traveller with bandaged eyes
may arrive after a toilsome journey. But to travel thus is not to
learn. And the Freemason who does not learn, what sort of Freemason
is he? Pin wearer, only; denying himself the greatest opportunity
given to man to make of himself truly one of the greatest
brotherhood the world has ever known.
Therefore, my brother entered Apprentice, use the month or more
which is given you between this and the Fellowcraft Degree, not only
to receive your monitorial instruction and learn, letter perfect,
the ritual in which much more is hidden than is revealed, but also
to investigate for yourself; to read for your- self; to learn, for
yourself, the meaning of some of our symbols and how they came to
You will find Masons who will say to you that all of Masonry which
any man needs to know is found in the degrees. So will you find
those who say to you that all any man needs to know of God or
religion is found in the Great Light which rests upon our Holy
Altar. But be not discouraged by these, my brother, nor put your
faith in the vision of any Mason; the only eyes with which you may
truly see are your own; the only faith which is truly valuable to
any man, is his own. Reason it out for yourself; every man needs an
education in Holy Writ, to expound for him the hidden truths which
are in the Great Light, therefore you require some writer or student
to expound for you the hidden truths which are in Masonry's Ritual
and Symbols. But a legion of devoted men of God have spent
thousands of years digging in the Book of Books, and always have
they discovered some new gold. With no irreverence, nor any
comparison of the fundamentals of Freemasonry with the Bible, it can
be said that generations of men have sought in the mountain which is
Freemasonry for the gold which is Truth of God, and found it; and
that without such patient and delving, the gold could not be seen.
Do you then, dig for yourself, but dig by the light of the lamps lit
by those who have gone this way before you.
This United States of ours has its ritual; its Declaration of
Independence, its Constitution, its Bill of Rights. Doubtless you
have read all of these; perhaps in school, you memorized them, as
now you must memorize Masonic ritual. But you would not contend
that the mere learning by heart of the Declaration of Independence
or the Constitution ever made any man an authority upon them, nor
that the foreigner investigating our institutions for the first time
could become a good American merely by such memorization. We
require the highest tribunal in all the world, the supreme Court, to
interpret to us our own Constitution, and not yet have any of our
legislators come to the end of the meanings of those liberties for
which we declared when this country first lifted up its head among
the nations of the world, and cried the birth cry.
As an Entered Apprentice you are barely born, Masonically.
You must learn, my brother, and learn well, if you are to enter into
our heritage. That which is worth living, in this world, is worth
working for; indeed, as you know from your experience in life,
anything which you must not work for, turns soon to ashes in your
mouth. Without labor, there can be no rest; without work there can
be no vacation; without pain, there can be no pleasure; without
sorrow, there is no joy. And equally true it is, that while men do
receive the degrees of Masonry at the hands of their brethren, there
is no Freemasonry in a man's heart if he has not been willing to
sacrifice some time, give some effort, some study, ask some
questions. digest some philosophy, to make it truly his own.
A certain ceremony through which you recently passed not only has
the immediate and obvious significance of charity to the deserving;
a man may be divested of all wealth to teach him something else than
the giving of alms and the succoring of the distressed. If you will
suppose yourself marooned upon a desert island, the only man upon
land shut in by the sea, you will readily recognize that all the
wealth of the Indies might be of less real value to you than a box
of matches, a cup of water, a tool of iron. The richest man in the
world could gain nothing with his gold if he were forced to live at
the poles of the earth. Money is only of value where material
things may be obtained by bartering labor. A man may be moneyless
and still wealthy, as you might be upon your desert island if you
had tools, nails, and materials with which to build yourself a boat
in order to make your escape.
So this ceremony, which you have already been taught, was not
performed to trifle with your feeling, should make not only a deep
and lasting impression on your mind as to charity and giving aid,
but should serve to point out to you that Freemasonry's deepest and
truest treasures are those of the mind and heart; not to be bought,
not to be received as a free gift, not to be found, not to be
obtained by you in any way whatsoever except by patient search, and
willing, happy labor.
Read, my brother; read symbolism and read a history of Freemasonry;
read the Old Charges; read your Monitor. Read, study, and digest;
make you own sum of a store of knowledge which is Freemasonry's;
make of yourself an Entered Apprentice in the hidden as well as the
literal sense of the word.
You are called an "Entered Apprentice " when there has been performed
over you and with you, a certain ceremony, but you cannot in reality
be "entered " unless you are willing to enter.
There is homely truth in many an old saying. The horse who is led
to water will only drink if he is thirsty; no man can make him
swallow if he will not. Freemasonry, which has conferred upon you
the distinction of its First Degree, has brought you through a green
pasture and made you to lie down beside a still water of its truth.
But there lives not the Grand Master of any Jurisdiction, all
powerful in Freemasonry though he is, who can make you drink of
those waters; there lives not the man, be he King, Prince or
Potentate with no matter what temporal power or what strength of
Army or of Wealth, who can force you through the door your brethren
have swung wide at your approach.
The pathway is before you. The staff, the bread and the water are
in your hand. Whether you will travel blindly and in want, or
eagerly and with joy depends only and wholly upon you.
And very largely upon what you now do, how soon you emerge from your
swaddling clothes and how well you learn will depend the epitaph
some day to be written of your memory on the hearts of your fellow
lodge members; it is for you to decide whether they will say of you:
"Just another lodge member, " or "A True Freemason, a Faithful Son of