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How to use the Compasses is one of the finest of all arts, asking for the highest skill of a Master
Mason. If he is properly instructed, he will rest one point in the innermost center of his being, and
with the other draw a circle beyond which he will not go, until he is ready and able to go farther.
Against the littleness of his knowledge he will set the depth of his desire to know, against the
brevity of his earthly life the reach of his spiritual hope. Within a wise limit he will live and labor
and grow, and when he reaches the outer rim of the circle he will draw another, and attain to a full-
orbed life, balance, beautiful, and finely poised. No wise man dare forget the maxim “In nothing
too much,” for there are situations where a word too much, a step too far, means disaster. If he has
a quick tongue, a hot temper, a dark mood, he will apply the Compasses, shut his weakness within
the circle of his strength, and control it.

Strangely enough, even a virtue, if unrestrained and left to itself, may actually become a vice.
Praise, if pushed too far, becomes flattery. Love often ends in a soft sentimentalism, flabby and
foolish. Faith, if carried to the extreme by the will to believe, ends in over-belief and superstition.
It is the Compasses that help us to keep our balance, in obedience to the other Greek maxim:
“Think as a mortal” - that is, remember the limits of human thought. An old mystic said that God
is a circle whose center is everywhere, and its circumference nowhere. But such an idea is all a
blur. Our minds can neither grasp nor hold it. Even in our thought about God we must draw a circle
enclosing so much of His Nature as we can grasp and realize, enlarging the circle as our experience
and thought and vision expand. Many a man loses all truth in his impatient effort to reach final
truth. It is the man who fancies that he has found the only truth, the whole truth, and nothing but
the truth, and who seeks to impose his dogma upon others, who becomes the bigot, the fanatic, the
persecutor. Here, too, we must apply the Compasses, if we would have our faith fulfill itself in
fellowship. Now we know in part - a small part, it may be, but it is real as far as it goes - though it
be as one who sees in a glass darkly. The promise is that if we are worthy and well qualified, we
shall see God face to face and know ever as we are known. But God is so great, so far beyond my
mind and yours, that if we are to know him truly, we must know Him together, in fellowship and
fraternity. And so the Poet-Mason was right when he wrote:

         He drew a circle that shut me out,
         Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout;
         But love and I had the wit to win,
         We drew a circle that took him in.

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