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Twenty-four-inch Gage

A rule two feet long, which is divided by marks into twenty-four parts each one inch in length. The Operative Mason uses it to take the necessary dimensions of the stone that he is about to prepare. It has been adopted as one of the working-tools of the Entered Apprentice in Speculative Freemasonry, where its divisions are supposed to represent hours. Hence its symbolic use is to teach him to measure his time so that, of the twenty-four hours of the day, he may devote eight hours to the service of God and a worthy distressed Brother, eight hours to his usual vocation, and eight to refreshment and sleep. In the twenty-four-inch gage is a symbol of time well employed, following as best we can the example of the lines told to us by Longfellow in the Psalm of Life, Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And departing leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time.

The Masonic essence of the lesson is ability, preparedness and readiness, recalling the suggestion of William Shakespeare to the workman in Julius Caesar (act I, scene I, line 5), Where is thy leather apron and thy rule? What dost thou with thy best apparel on?

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