Page 23 - Education Programs
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                                                Author Unknown

                                                   Short Talk Bulletin: April 1924

The Holy Bible lies open upon the Altar of Masonry, and upon the Bible lie the Square and
Compasses. They are the three Great Lights of the Lodge, at once its Divine warrant and its chief
working tools. They are symbols of Revelation, Righteousness and Redemption, Teaching us that
by walking in the light of Truth, and obeying the Law of Right, the Divine in man wins victory
over the earthly. How to live is the one important matter, and he will seek far without finding a
wiser way than that shown us by the Great Lights of the Lodge.

The Square and Compasses are the oldest, the simplest and the most universal symbols of Masonry.
All the world over, whether as a sign on a building, or a badge worn by a Brother, even the profane
know them to be emblems of our ancient Craft. Some years ago, when a business firm tried to
adopt the Square and Compasses as a Trade- Mark, the Patent Office refused permission, on the
ground, as the decision said, that “There can be no doubt that this device, so commonly worn and
employed by Masons, universally recognized as existing; whether comprehended by all or not, is
not material to this issue.” They belong to us, alike by the associations of history and the tongue
of common report.

Nearly everywhere in our Ritual, as in the public mind, the Square and Compasses are seen
together. If not interlocked, they are seldom far apart, and the one suggests the other. And that is
as it should be, because the things they symbolize are interwoven. In the old days when the earth
was thought to be flat and square, the Square was an emblem of the earth, and later, of the earthly
element in man.

As the sky is an arc or a circle, the implement which describes a Circle became the symbol of the
heavenly, or sky spirit in man. Thus the tools of the builder became the emblems of the thoughts
of the thinker; and nothing in Masonry is more impressive than the slow elevation of the compasses
above the Square in the progress of the Degrees. The whole meaning and task of life is there, for
such as have eyes to see.

Let us separate the Square from the Compasses and study it alone, the better to see its further
meaning and use. There is no need to say that the Square we have in mind is not a Cube, which
has four equal sides and angles, deemed by the Greeks a figure of perfection. Nor is it the square
of the carpenter, one leg of which is longer than the other, with inches marked for measuring. It is
a small, plain Square, unmarked and with legs of equal length, a simple try-square used for testing
the accuracy of angles, and the precision with which stones are cut. Since the try-square was used
to prove that angles were right, it naturally became an emblem of accuracy, integrity and rightness.
As stones are cut to fit into a building, so our acts and thoughts are built together into a structure
of Character, badly or firmly, and must be tested by a moral standard of which the simple try-
square is a symbol.

So, among Speculative Masons, the tiny try-square has always been a symbol of morality, of the
basic rightness which must be the test of every act and the foundation of character and society.
From the beginning of the revival in 1717 this was made plain in the teaching of Masonry, by the
fact that the Holy Bible was placed upon the Altar, along with the Square and Compasses. In one

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