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These facts prove that modern Masonry is not, as Gould [22] Hughan [23] and Mackey [24] contend, a revival of the older system, but rather that it is a new order of no greater antiquity than the first quarter of the eighteenth century.There have been many controversies among Masons as to the essential points of Masonry.

Please help support the mission of New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download. The modern signification of Freemasonry in which, since about 1750, the word has been universally and exclusively understood, dates only from the constitution of the Grand Lodge of England, 1717.

Includes the Catholic Encyclopedia, Church Fathers, Summa, Bible and more — all for only $19.99... In this acceptation Freemasonry, according to the official English, Scottish, American, etc., craft rituals, is most generally defined: "A peculiar [some say "particular" or "beautiful"] system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." Mackey [10] declares the best definition of Freemasonry to be: "A science which is engaged in the search after the divine truth." The German encyclopedia of Freemasonry, "Handbuch" [11] defines Freemasonry as "the activity of closely united men who, employing symbolical forms borrowed principally from the mason's trade and from architecture, work for the welfare of mankind, striving morally to ennoble themselves and others and thereby to bring about a universal league of mankind [], which they aspire to exhibit even now on a small scale".

Strictly judicially, even the "Old Charges", which, according to Anderson's "Constitutions", contain the unchangeable laws have a legal obligatory character only as far as they are inserted in the "Book of Constitution" of each Grand Lodge.

[28] But practically there exist certain characteristics which are universally considered as essential.

) Period [15] while others pretend that Masonic science "existed before the creation of this globe, diffused amidst the numerous systems with which the grand empyreum of universal space is furnished".

[16] It is not then difficult to understand that the attempt to prove the antiquity of Freemasonry with evidence supplied by such monuments of the past as the Pyramids and the Obelisk (removed to New York in 1879) should have resulted in an extensive literature concerning these objects.

[4] This derivation, though harmonizing with the meaning of the term, seemed unsatisfactory to some scholars.

[3] In the former sense it is commonly derived from , a mason hewing or building in free (ornamental) stone in opposition to a rough (stone) mason.

On the decline of Gothic architecture this craft coalesced with the mason guilds. Begemann [7] combats the opinion of Speth [8] as purely hypothetical, stating that the name were used as convertible terms.

These freemasons formed a universal craft for themselves, with a system of secret signs and passwords by which a craftsman, who had been admitted on giving evidence of competent skill, could be recognized.

occurs first in 1375 — according to a recently found writing, even prior to 1155 [1] — and, contrary to Gould [2] means primarily a mason of superior skill, though later it also designated one who enjoyed the freedom, or the privilege, of a trade guild.

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