Precious Jewels

During the Second Degree, the recently-Passed Fellowcraft Mason is given a lesson on “the Precious Jewels of the Fellowcraft”.  The lesson at the surface is easy to grasp, but I’ve always found the space around this concept to be equally as interesting.  If these are the Precious Jewels of the Fellowcraft, it implies that the Entered Apprentice and the Master Mason also have Precious Jewels.  This is something that isn’t discussed within my jurisdiction, so I decided to do some research.

In An Encyclopædia of Freemasonry and its Kindred Sciences, Bro. Albert Mackey makes the following entry:

Jewels, Precious — In the lectures of the second and third degrees, allusion is made to certain moral qualities, which, as they are intended to elucidate and impress the most important moral principles of the degree, are for their great value called the Precious Jewels of a Fellow Craft and the Precious Jewels of a Master Mason.  There are three in each degree, and they are referred to by the Alarm.  Their explanation is esoteric.

Bro. Mackey stops short of having any kind of discussion regarding these, but he confirms that the Third Degree does, in fact, have its own set of Precious Jewels.  He further states that their explanation is esoteric.  In my jurisdiction, this isn’t so; the lecture that discusses the Precious Jewels of the Fellowcraft is monitorial.

The Precious Jewels of the Fellowcraft are the Attentive Ear, the Instructive Tongue, and the Faithful Breast.  The Attentive Ear receives the sound from the Instructive Tongue, and the mysteries of Freemasonry are safely lodged in the repository of a Faithful Breast.

So, what about the Third Degree?  What are, or were, those Precious Jewels?  And why are they no longer taught or discussed?  It doesn’t take a lot of difficult research to uncover what Bro. Mackey was alluding to with his earlier entry.  It’s interesting, though, to watch as the Precious Jewels of the Master Mason subtly change over the years, or how they’re very slightly different between jurisdictions.

In one of the Masonic exposés that was published during the early nineteenth century, following the Working Tools lecture, the Precious Jewels of the Master Mason are listed as:

Humanity, Friendship, and Brotherly Love

For the next hundred years, several of the Monitors from different jurisdictions openly state them as being:

Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love

If you couple that information with Bro. Mackey’s statement of them being in reference to the Alarm, and if you reflect upon the first time you were received into a Lodge of Master Masons, you will find that the Precious Jewels of the Master Mason were never lost or discarded from the ritual.  They were subtly changed, they were explained, but they would never again be referred to as Precious Jewels.

What about the Entered Apprentice Degree?  Does it have its own variation?  At one point in time, it may have.  Some of older exposés list the following as the Precious Jewels of the Entered Apprentice:

A Listening Ear, a Silent Tongue, and a Faithful Heart

While this is a simple list, more-complete explanations are out there.  If you were to read through them, you would find that these lessons, too, are still taught.  Bits of it are peppered throughout all three Degrees.  You can find portions of it, most notably, in the Northeast Corner lecture and within the Master Mason’s Obligation.

When reading through older ritual, some times I get the sense that ritual revisions have caused us to lose particular lessons over the years.  This was one of those instances where it was refreshing to discover that the lessons have been more or less preserved.

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