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occurs first in 1375 — according to a recently found writing, even prior to 1155 [1] — and, contrary to Gould [2] means primarily a mason of superior skill, though later it also designated one who enjoyed the freedom, or the privilege, of a trade guild.The three editions which this "Handbuch" (Universal Manual of Freemasonry) has had since 1822 are most valuable, the work having been declared by English-speaking Masonic critics by far the best Masonic Encyclopedia ever published. that the missing links of a chain of evidence have been frequently supplied by gratuitous invention and that statements of vast importance have been carelessly sustained by the testimony of documents whose authenticity has not been proved.The same number is adopted by Whitehead [26] "as the pith of the researches of the ablest masonic writers".The principle of them are [27] In truth there is no authority in Freemasonry to constitute such "unchangeable" landmarks or fundamental laws. [4] This derivation, though harmonizing with the meaning of the term, seemed unsatisfactory to some scholars. [3] In the former sense it is commonly derived from , a mason hewing or building in free (ornamental) stone in opposition to a rough (stone) mason.

In every age monarchs [American rituals: "the greatest and best men of all ages"] have been promoters of the art, have not thought it derogatory to their dignity to exchange the sceptre for the trowel, have participated in our mysteries and joined in our assemblies".Please help support the mission of New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download. The modern signification of Freemasonry in which, since about 1750, the word has been universally and exclusively understood, dates only from the constitution of the Grand Lodge of England, 1717.Includes the Catholic Encyclopedia, Church Fathers, Summa, Bible and more — all for only .99... In this acceptation Freemasonry, according to the official English, Scottish, American, etc., craft rituals, is most generally defined: "A peculiar [some say "particular" or "beautiful"] system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." Mackey [10] declares the best definition of Freemasonry to be: "A science which is engaged in the search after the divine truth." The German encyclopedia of Freemasonry, "Handbuch" [11] defines Freemasonry as "the activity of closely united men who, employing symbolical forms borrowed principally from the mason's trade and from architecture, work for the welfare of mankind, striving morally to ennoble themselves and others and thereby to bring about a universal league of mankind [], which they aspire to exhibit even now on a small scale". On the decline of Gothic architecture this craft coalesced with the mason guilds. Begemann [7] combats the opinion of Speth [8] as purely hypothetical, stating that the name were used as convertible terms. These freemasons formed a universal craft for themselves, with a system of secret signs and passwords by which a craftsman, who had been admitted on giving evidence of competent skill, could be recognized.[12] Before entering upon this and the following divisions of our subject it is necessary to premise that the very nature of Freemasonry as a secret society makes it difficult to be sure even of its reputed documents and authorities, and therefore we have consulted only those which are acknowledged and recommended by responsible members of the craft, as stated in the bibliography appended to this article. has been the foundation on which all masonic historical investigations have been built, . The germs of nearly all these fantastic theories are contained in Anderson's "The Constitutions of Free Masons" (1723, 1738) which makes Freemasonry coextensive with geometry and the arts based on it; insinuates that God, the Great Architect, founded Freemasonry, and that it had for patrons, Adam, the Patriarchs, the kings and philosophers of old."It is the opprobrium of Freemasonry", says Mackey [13] that its history has never yet been written in a spirit of critical truth; that credulity . Even Jesus Christ is included in the list as Grand Master of the Christian Church.It is claimed also that Pythagoras founded the Druidic institution and hence that Masonry probably existed in England 500 years before the Christian Era.Some authors, considering geological finds as Masonic emblems, trace Masonry to the Miocene (?That of 1723, as the original text, restored by the Grand Lodge of England in the editions of the "Constitutions", 1756-1813, and inserted later in the "Books of Constitutions" of nearly all the other Grand Lodges, is the most authoritative; but the text of 1738, which was adopted and used for a long time by many Grand Lodges, is also of great importance in itself and as a further illustration of the text of 1723. But though in ancient times Masons were charged in every country to be of the religion of that country or nation, whatever it was, yet 'tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves: that is, to be In order to preserve peace and harmony no private piques or quarrels must be brought within the door of the Lodge, far less any quarrels about Religion or Nations or State Policy, we being only, as Masons, of the Catholick Religion, above mentioned, we are also of all Nations, Tongues, Kindreds and Languages and are resolved against all Politicks [printed in the original in Gothic letters] as what never yet conduced to the welfare of the Lodge nor ever will.This charge has been always strictly enjoin'd and observ'd; but especially ever since the Reformation in Britain or the dissent and In order to appreciate rightly these texts characterizing modern "speculative" Freemasonry it is necessary to compare them with the corresponding injunction of the "Gothic" (Christian) Constitutions regulating the old lodges of "operative" Masonry till and after 1747.

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