Symbolical Masonry, by H.L. Haywood, , at sacred-texts.com
In the earliest of the Old Charges we find fifteen "points" or rules set forth for the regulation of the conduct of the Fellow Craft; these were the "perfect points" of his entrance to the Order as well as in his transactions with mankind, and it is worthy of note that this code of ethics was far in advance of the standards of the fifteenth century. There is no need to analyse these requirements except to say that they consisted, in essence, of acting on the square, that is, the candidate was to deal squarely with the Craft, with his masters, his fellows, and with all men whomsoever. In his relations with the Craft he was expected above all else to keep an attentive ear to his instructors, to preserve carefully the secrets of his Order and his brethren in a faithful breast, and to be evermore ruled by the principle of virtue in his behaviour. If such qualifications were demanded of Apprentices in an Operative trade, how much more may they be reasonably required of a Fellow Craft in a speculative, or moral, science!
In its original form virtue meant valour; to-day it means rectitude. But the rectitude which is virtue is more than a passive not-doing of evil; it is the courageous doing of right. "Virtue is but heroic bravery, to do the thing thought to be true, in spite of all enemies of flesh or spirit, in despite of all temptations or menaces." The man of conventional morality is content not to steal,
drink, gamble, swear, etc., but often it does not enter his head that there is an active, aggressive work to be done in cleaning up the world. Conventional morality is neuter; virtue is masculine; and the Craft that seeks to build the Temple of Humanity needs in its votaries something more than passive morality.
Many of the most vital organs are in the breast. A man can go without water for days; he can do without food, if necessary, for a month or more; but without breath in his lungs or blood in his heart he cannot live an hour. The breast, accordingly, is the symbol of the most essential things in personality,—love, faithfulness, purity, and character. If the square is applied to the breast it is to compel us to realise that virtue must rule in the very deeps of us, in the springs of conduct, and the motives of action, as well as on the surface. The man whose morality is on the outside of his skin is held up by external restraints and will often fall into evil if they chance to be removed, as the deacon of a church or the pillar of a community will sometimes wallow in vice while among strangers. But when virtue is the law of the hidden motives of the will, the man will walk as uprightly in the slum of a city as in the precincts of his home. Should Masonry trust to conventional morality alone it would build on sands; by demanding virtue of its members it lays its foundations in bed-rock, and the storm may come, the winds blow, the rains fall, but its house will not be moved. And the same virtue that it requires in the lodge room, it expects in all a Mason's transactions with mankind, else Masonic virtue itself becomes a lifeless conventionality.