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Observations on the Seventh, or Degree of Royal Arch
As Moses was commanded to pull his shoes from off his feet,
on Mount Horeb, because the ground whereon he trod, was sanctified by the presence of the Divinity; so the mason who would prepare himself for this exalted stage of masonry,* should advance in the naked paths of truth, be divested of every degree of arrogance, and approach with steps of innocence, humility and virtue, to challenge the ensigns of an order, whose institutions arise on the most solemn and sacred principles of religion.—HUTCHINSON.
This degree is indescribably more august, sublime, and important, than all which precede it; and is the summit and perfection of ancient masonry. It impresses on our minds a belief of the being and existence of a Supreme Deity, without beginning of days or end of years; and reminds us of the reverence due to his holy name.
It also brings to light many essentials of the craft, which were for the space of four hundred and seventy years buried in darkness; and without a knowledge of which the masonic character cannot be complete. The following passages from Holy Writ, serve to explain the form, furniture and clothing of a chapter, duly congregated.
2 Chronicles, iii, 1.—Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
2. And he began to build in the second day of the second month, in the fourth year of his reign.
8 And he made the most holy house, the length whereof was according to the breadth of the house, twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits: and he overlaid it with fine gold, amounting to six hundred talents.
The Rev. Doctor Munkhouse, in one of his admirable discources on masonry, observes, that the authour of Ahimon Rezon, (Lawrence Dermot) speaking of that part of it, which is called the Royal Arch, says, "This I firmly believe to be the root, heart, and marrow of masonry;"
14. And he made the vail of blue, and purple, and crimson, and fine linen, and wrought cherubims thereon.
Exodus xxxix.-"And of the blue, and purple, and scarlet, they made clothes of service, to do service in the holy place, and made the holy garments for Aaron; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he made the ephod of gold, blue and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen. And they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into wires, to work it in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet, and in the fine linen, with cunning work. They inade shoulderpieces for it, to couple it together: by the two edges was it coupled together. And the curious girdle of his ephod, that was upon it, was of the same, according to the work thereof, of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen; as the Lord commanded Moses.
“And they wrought onyx-stones inclosed in ouches of gold, graven as signets are graven, with the names of the children of Israel. And he put them on the shoulders of the ephod, that they should be stones for a memorial to the children of Israel; as the Lord commanded Moses.
“And he made the breast-plate of cunning work, like the work of the ephod; of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen. It was four square; they made the breast-plate double: a span was the length thereof, and a span the breadth thereof, being doubled. And they set in it four rows of stones: the first row was a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this was the first row. And the second row, an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. And the third row, a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. And the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper: they were inclosed in ouches of gold in their inclosings. And the stones were according to the names of the children of Israel, twelve according to their names, like the engravings of a signet, every one with his name according to the twelve tribes. And they made upon the breast-plate chains at the ends, of wreathen work of pure gold. And they made two ouches of gold, and two gold rings, and put the two rings in the two ends of the breast-plate. And they put the two wreathen chains of gold in the two rings on the ends of the breast-plate. And the two ends of the two wreathen chains they fastened in the two ouches, and put them on the shoulderpieces of the ephod before it. And they made two rings of gold, and put them on the two ends of the breast-plate, upon the border of it, which was on the side of the ephod inward. And they made two other golden rings, and put them on the two sides of the ephod underneath, toward the fore part of it over against the other, coupling thereof, above the curious girdle of the ephod. And they did bind the breast-plate by his rings unto the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, that it might be above the curious girdle of the ephod, and that the breast plate might not be loosed from the ephod; as the Lord commanded Moses.
“And he made the robe of the ephod of woven work, all of blue. And there was an hole in the midst of the robe, as the hole of an habergeon, with a band round about the hole, that it should not rend. And they made upon the hems of the robe, pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and twined linen. And they made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates, upon
the hem of the robe, round about between the pomegranates; a bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate round about the hem of the robe to minister in; as the Lord commanded Moses.
“And they made coats of fine linen of woven work for Aaron and for his sons, and a mitre of fine linen, and goodly bonnets of fine linen, and linen breeches of fine twined linen; and a girdle of fine twined linen, and blue and purple, and scarlet, of needle work; as the Lord commanded Moses.
“And they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote upon it a writing, like to the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD. And they tied it upon a lace of blue, to fasten it on high upon the mitre; as the Lord commanded Moses.
"Thus was all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation finished:* and the children of Israel did accord
“The proportion of the measures of the tabernacle proved it to be an imitation of the system of the world; for that third part thereof which was within the four pillars to which the priests were not admitted, is as it were, an heaven peculiar to God; but the space of twenty cubits, is as it were sea and land, on which men live; and so this part is peculiar to the priests only.
“When Moses distinguished the tabernacle into three parts, and allowed two of them to the priests, as a place accessible and common, he denoted the land and the sea; for these are accessible to all. But when he set apart the third division for God, it was because heaven is inaccessible to men. And when he ordered twelve loaves to be set on the table, he denoted the year, as distinguished into so many months. And when he made the candlestick of seventy parts, he secretly intimated the decani, or seventy divisions of the planets. And as to the seven lamps upon the candlesticks, they referred to the course of the planets, of which that is the number. And for tbe vails, which were composed of four things, they declared the four elements. For
ing to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so did they. And they brought the tabernacle unto Moses, the tent, and all his furniture, his taches, his boards, his bars, and his pillars, and his sockets, and the covering of rams' skins dyed red, and the covering of badgers' skins, and the vail of the covering, the ark of the testimony, and the staves thereof, and the mercy-seat, the table, and all the vessels thereof, and the shew-bread, the pure candlestick, with the lamps thereof, even with the lamps to be set in order, and all the vessels thereof, and the oil for light, and the golden altar, and the anointing oil, and the sweet incense, and the hanging for the tabernacle door, the brazen altar, and his grate of brass, his staves, and all his vessels, the laver and his foot, the hangings of the court, his pillars, and his sockets, and the hanging for the court gate, his cords, and his pins, and all the vessels of the service of the tabernacle, for the tent of the congregation, the clothes of service to do service in the holy place, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and his sons' garments, to minister in the priest's office. Accord. ing to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so the children of Israel made all the work. And Moses did look upon all the work, and behold, they had done it as the Lord had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them.
the fine linen, was proper to signify the earth, because the flax grows out of the earth. The purple signified the sea, because that colour is dyed by the blood of a sea shell-fish. The blue is fit to signify the air, and the scarlet will naturally be an indication of fire. Now the vestment of the high priest being made of linen, signified the earth; the blue denoted the sky, being like lightning in its pomegranates, and in the noise of the bells resembling thunder. And for the ephod, it shewed that God had made the universe of four elements; and as for the gold interwoven, I suppose it related to the splendor by which all things are enlightened. He also appointed the breast plate to be placed in the middle of the ephod, to resemble the earth; and the girdle which encompassed the high priest round, signified the ocean. Each of the sardonyxes declares to us the sun and the moon: those I mean that were in the nature of buttons on the high priest's shoulders. And for the twelve stones, whether we understand by them the months, or whether we understand the like number of the signs of that circle which the Greeks call the zodiac, we shall not be mistaken in their meaning. And for the mitre, which was of a blue colour, it seems to me to mean heaven; for how otherwise could the name of God be inscribed upon it? 'That it was also illustrat. ed with a crown, and that of gold also, is because of that splendour with which God is pleased." - Josephus Antiq. Jud. cha. 7.
In another place Josephus says, the candlestick was emblematical of the seven days of creation and rest.
“The tabernacle set up by the Israelites in the desert, may nevertheless give some ideas of the manner in which, at that time, the Egyptian temples. were constructed. I believe really, that there must have been some relation between the taste which reigned in these edifices and the tabernacle, The tabernacle, though only a vast tent, had a great relation with architecture. We ought to look upon it as a representation of the temples and palaces of the East. Let us recollect what we have said before of the form of government of the Hebrews. The Supreme Being was equally their God and King. The tabernacle was erected with a view to answer to that double title. The Israelites went there sometimes to adore the Almighty, and sometimes to receive the orders of their sovereign, present in a sensible manner in the presence of his people. I think then we ought to look upon the tabernacle as a work which God would bave, that the structure should have relatfon with the edifices destined in the East, whether for the worship of the Gods, or the habitation of Kings. The whole construction of the tabernacle presented moreover, the model of an edifice, regular and distributed with much skill. All the dimensions and proportions appeared to have been observed with care, and perfectly well adapted.”-De Goguet.
The following passage of Scripture is read at opening:* 2 Thessalonians, iii. 6, 17.– Now we command you, brethren, in the naine of our Lord Jesus Christ that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which ye received of us. For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us, for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you. Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought, but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you. Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat: For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busy-bodies. Now them that are such, we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word, by this epistle, note that man and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed, Yet count bim not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all. The salutation of Paul, with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write."
* I have inserted this chapter, because I find it incorporated in all the Works in which this degree is treated of, and because I believe it is generally used in all regular chapters. in copying it, however, I have referred to the source from whence it has been originally drawn; and leave experienced companions to judge of the motives, by which I have been actuated, as well as to determine why the whole or any part thereof, should be here introduced.-COMPILAR.