General Ahiman Rezon, by Daniel Sickels, , at sacred-texts.com
Is an instrument used by operative masons to measure and lay out their work; but we, as
[paragraph continues] Free and Accepted Masons, are taught to make use of it for the more noble and glorious purpose of dividing our time. It being divided into twenty-four equal parts, is emblematical of the twenty-four hours of the day, which we are taught to divide into three equal parts; whereby are found eight hours for the service of God and a distressed worthy brother; eight for our usual vocations; and eight for refreshment and sleep.
The Twenty-four-inch Guage is to measure and ascertain the extent of an edifice. Hence we derive a lesson of instruction. It recalls to our mind the division of the day into twenty-four hours, and directs us to apportion them to prayer, labor, refreshment, and repose. It may be further considered as the scale which comprehends the numerical apportionment of the different degrees, according to the several Lodges.
Is an instrument made use of by operative masons to break off the corners of rough stones, the better to fit them for the builder's use; but we, as Free and Accepted Masons, are taught to make use of it for the more noble and glorious purpose of divesting our hearts and consciences of all the vices and superfluities of life; thereby fitting our minds, as living stones, for that spiritual building—that house not made with hands—eternal in the heavens.
The Common Gavel is an important instrument of labor, without which no work of manual skill can be completed; from which we learn that skill without industry will be of no avail, and labor is the lot of man; for the heart may conceive, and the head devise in vain, if the hand be not prompt to execute the design.
Masons are called moral builders. In their rituals they declare, emphatically, that a more noble and glorious purpose than squaring stones and hewing timbers is theirs—fitting immortal nature for that spiritual building not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. It is said that the construction of the pyramids of Egypt employed the labor of one hundred thousand men for many years, but it was only to build monumental piles, beneath whose shadows kings might rest. These pyramids are only temples for the dead; Masons are building one for the living. The pyramids were only mausoleums in which the bones of the mighty dead might repose in imperial magnificence; Masons are erecting a structure in which the God of Israel shall dwell for ever. The pyramid shall crumble away, till not one stone shall be left upon another; but who shall count the years of immortality, the life-time of the soul, which is fitted for its place in the heavens? Who can define its outlines, or fathom its depths, or measure its journey! It is a stream which grows broader and deeper as it flows onward. An angel's eye cannot measure its length, nor an angel's wing travel to its farthest boundary. When earth's proudest monumental piles have crumbled away, and that sand been scattered by the desert winds, and the glory and greatness of earth shall be forgotten, then will the immortal be pluming its wings for loftier flights. It is a fountain whose sources are in the Infinite, and whose placid waters flow on for ever—a spring-time that shall bloom, educating immortal mind for the present, the future, for all ages—is acknowledged to be one of the essential objects of Masonic labors. The builder builds for a century; Masons, for eternity. The painter paints for a generation; they, for everlasting years.