Perfection, Lodge Of
The Lodge in which the Fourteenth Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite is conferred. In England and America, this Degree is called Grand Elect Perfect and Sublime Mason, but the French designate it Grand Scottish Mason of the Sacred Vault of Janes VI, the French title being Grand ecossais de la VoUte Sacree de Jacques Vl. This is one of the evidences--and a very pregnant one--of the influence exercised by the exiled Stuarts and their adherents on the Freemasonry of that time in making it an instrument for the restoration of James II, and then of his son, to the throne of England.
This Degree, as concluding all reference to the first Temple, has been called the Ultimate Degree of ancient Freemasonry. It is the last of what is technically styled the Ineffable Degrees, because their instructions relate to the Ineffable Word, that which is not to be outspoken. Its place of meeting is called the Sacred Vault. Its principal officers are a Thrice Puissant Grand Master, two Grand Wardens, a Grand Treasurer, and Grand Secretary. In the first organization of the Rite in this country, the Lodges of Perfection were called Sublime Grand Lodges, and hence, the word Grand is still affixed to the title of the officers.
The following mythical history is connected with and related in this Degree: When the Temple was finished, the Freemasons who had been employed in constructing it acquired immortal honor. Their Order became more uniformly established and regulated than it had been before. Their caution and reserve in admitting new members produced respect, and merit alone was required of the candidate. With these principles instilled into their minds, many of the Grand Elect left the Temple after its dedication, and dispersing themselves among the neighboring nations, instructed all who applied and were found worthy in the Sublime Degrees of Ancient Craft Masonry.
The Temple was completed in the Year of the World 3000. Thus far, the wise King of Israel had behaved worthy of himself, and gained universal admiration; but in process of time, when he had advanced in years, his understanding became impaired; he grew deaf to the voice of the Lord, and was strangely irregular in his conduct. Proud of having erected an edifice to his Maker, and intoxicated with his great power, he plunged into all manner of licentiousness and debauchery, and profaned the Temple, by offering to the idol Moloch that incense which should have been offered only to the living God.
The Grand Elect and Perfect Masons saw this, and were sorely grieved, afraid that his apostasy would end in some dreadful consequences, and bring upon them those enemies whom Solomon had vaingloriously and wantonly defied. The people, copying the vices and follies of their King, became proud and idolatrous, and neglected the worship of the true God for that of idols
As an adequate punishment for this defection, God inspired the heart of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, to take vengeance on the Kingdom of Israel. This prince sent an army with Nebuzaradan, Captain of the Guards, who entered Judah with fire and sword, took and sacked the city of Jerusalem, razed its walls, and destroyed the Temple. The people were carried captive to Babylon, and the conquerors took with them all the vessels of silver and gold. This happened four hundred and seventy years, six months, and ten days after its dedication.
When, in after times, the princes of Christendom entered into a league to free the Holy Land from the oppression of the infidels, the good and virtuous Freemasons, anxious for the success of so pious an undertaking, voluntarily offered their services to the confederates, on condition that they should be permitted a chief of their own election, which was granted; they accordingly rallied under their standard and departed.
The valor and fortitude of these elected knights was such that they were admired by, and took the lead of, all the princes of Jerusalem, who, believing that their mysteries inspired them with courage and fidelity in the cause of virtue and religion, became desirous of being initiated. Upon being found worthy, their desires were complied with; and thus the Royal Art, meeting the approbation of great and good men, became popular and honorable, was diffused through their various dominions, and has continued to spread through a succession of ages to the present day.
The symbolic color of this Degree is red--emblematic of fervor, constancy, and assiduity. Hence, the Freemasonry of this Degree was formerly called Red Masonry on the Continent of Europe. The jewel of the Degree is a pair of compasses extended on an are of ninety degrees, surmounted by a crown, and with a sun in the center. In the Southern Jurisdiction the sun is on one side and a five-pointed star on the other. The apron is white with red flames, bordered with blue, and having the jewel painted on the center and the stone of foundation on the flap.
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