The First Degree Lecture – P4

The First Degree Lecture, Section four, by William Preston.

Video Presentation

The Fourth Section in our studying of the First Degree Lecture describes more fully the Parallelepipedon, that three dimensional figure that describes the form of a Freemason’s Lodge, mentioned in the Third Section. It also explains part of the First Degree Tracing Board.

Q – On what ground do our Lodges stand?

A – Holy Ground

Q – Why on Holy Ground?

A – Because the first Lodge was consecrated.

Q – Why was it consecrated?

A – On account of three grand offerings thereon made, which met with Divine approbation.

Q – Which I will thank you to specify

A – First, the ready compliance of Abraham with the will of God in not refusing to offer up his son Isaac as a burnt sacrifice, when it pleased the Almighty to substitute a more agreeable victim in his stead.

(NOTE: Abraham, the first of the Hebrew patriarchs and a figure revered by the three great monotheistic religions— Judaism, Christianity and Islam.)

A Cont. – Secondly, the many pious prayers and ejaculations of King David, which actually appeased the wrath of God, and stayed a pestilence which then raged among his people, owing to his inadvertently having had them numbered.

(NOTE: David, the second king of ancient Israel. He founded the Judean dynasty and united all the tribes of Israel under a single monarch. His son Solomon expanded the empire that David built. David is an important figure in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.)

A Cont. – And thirdly, the many thanksgivings, oblations, burnt sacrifices, and costly offerings which Solomon, King of Israel, made at the completion, dedication, and consecration of the Temple at Jerusalem to God’s service.

(NOTE: Solomon, biblical Israelite king who built the first Temple of Jerusalem and who is revered in Judaism and Christianity for his wisdom and Islam as a prophet.)

Those three did then, do now, and I trust ever will render the ground of Freemasonry holy.

Q – How are our Lodges situated?

A – Due East and West

Q – Why?

A – Because all places of Divine worship as well as Masons’ regular, well-formed, constituted Lodges, are or ought to be so situated.

Q – For which we assign three Masonic reasons; I will thank you for the first.

A – The Sun, the Glory of the Lord, rises, in the East and sets in the West.

Q – The second?

A – Learning originated in the East, and thence spread its benign influence to the West

Q – The third, last, and grand reason?

A – Whenever we contemplate on the works of the creation, how ready and cheerful ought we to be to adore the Almighty Creator, who has never left Himself without a living witness among men.

From the earliest period of time, we have been taught to believe in the existence of a Deity.

We read of Abel bringing a more acceptable offering to the Lord than his brother Cain; of Enoch walking with God; of Noah, being a just and upright man in his day and generation, and a teacher of righteousness; of Jacob wrestling with an angel, prevailing, and thereby obtaining a blessing for himself and posterity.

But we never hear or read of any place being set apart for the public solemnisation of Divine worship, until after the happy deliverance of the children of Israel from their Egyptian bondage, which it pleased the Almighty to effect with a high hand and an outstretched arm, under the conduct of His faithful servant Moses, according to a promise made their forefather, Abraham, that He would make of his seed a great and mighty people, even as the stars in Heaven for number, and the sand of the sea for multitude.

And as they were about to possess the gate of their enemies, and inherit the promised land, the Almighty thought proper to reveal to them those three most excellent institutions-viz., the Moral, Ceremonial, and Judicial Laws.

And for the better solemnisation of Divine worship, as well as a receptacle for the Books and Tables of the Law, Moses caused a Tent or Tabernacle to be erected in the wilderness, which by God’s especial command was situated due East and West, for Moses did everything according to a pattern shown him by the Lord on Mount Sinai.

This Tent or Tabernacle proved afterwards to be the ground-plan, in respect to situation, of that most magnificent Temple built at Jerusalem by that wise and mighty Prince, King Solomon, whose regal splendour and unparalleled lustre far transcend our ideas.

This is the third, last, and grand reason. I as a Freemason give, why all. places of Divine worship, as well as Masons’ regular, well-formed, constituted Lodges are or ought to be so situated.

(NOTE: And so our Lodges are built in the same form as the Tent or Tabernacle (a fixed or moveable dwelling of light construction) that was erected in the wilderness to house those sacred documents that Moses received from the Almighty when he led his people out of captivity, which is also the same ground plan used by Solomon to build the Temple at Jerusalem. A place of learning and worship.)
(My own observation is that Moses led his people from bondage and darkness in the west and travelled east to find light and the promised land.

Q – What supports a Freemason’s Lodge

A – Three great Pillars.

Q – What are they called?

A – Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty.

(NOTE: These Pillars can be found on the Worshipful Master, Senior and Junior Warden’s pedestals and are the three ‘Lesser Lights’ of Freemasonry.)

Q – Why Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty

A – Wisdom to contrive, Strength to support, and Beauty to adorn.

Q – Moralise them.

A – Wisdom to conduct us in all our undertakings, Strength to support us under all our difficulties, and Beauty to adorn the inward man.

Q – Illustrate them.

A – The Universe is the Temple of the Deity whom we serve; Wisdom, Strength and Beauty are about His throne as pillars of His works, for His Wisdom is infinite His Strength omnipotent, and Beauty shines through the whole of the creation in symmetry and order. The Heavens He has stretched forth as a canopy; the earth He has planted as a footstool; He crowns His Temple with Stars as with a diadem, and with his hand He extends the power and glory. The Sun and Moon are messengers of His will, and all His law is concord. The three great pillars supporting a Freemason’s Lodge are emblematic of those Divine attributes, and further represent Solomon King of Israel, Hiram, King of Tyre and Hiram Abif.

(NOTE: Read this answer several times in order to understand the greatness of their meaning and reflect upon it.)

Q – Why those three great personages?

A – Solomon King of Israel for his wisdom in building, completing, and dedicating the Temple at Jerusalem to God’s service; Hiram King. of Tyre for his strength in supporting him with men and materials; and Hiram Abif. for his curious and masterly workmanship in beautifying and adorning the same.

(NOTE: It is interesting to note, for those studying the Holy Royal Arch and the link to Craft Masonry, that the Temple at Jerusalem is known as the ‘Second Temple’, the first being the moveable tent or tabernacle used by Moses to house the sacred writings on his journey out of Egypt.)

Q – As we have no noble Order of Architecture known by the names of Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty, to which do they refer?

A – The three most celebrated, which are the Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian.

(NOTE; these columns can be found at the Worshipful Master’s (Ionic – Wisdom), Senior Warden (Doric – Strength) and Junior Warden’s (Corinthian – Beauty) pedestals holding the representation of the three Lesser Lights of Freemasonry.)

Q – Name the covering of a Freemason’s Lodge.

A – A Celestial Canopy of divers colours, even the Heavens.

Q – As Masons, how can we hope to arrive there?

A – By the assistance of a Ladder, in Scripture called Jacob’s Ladder.

Q – Why was it called Jacob’s ladder?

A – Rebecca, the beloved wife of Isaac, knowing by Divine inspiration that a peculiar blessing was vested in the soul of her husband, was desirous to obtain it for her favourite son Jacob, though by birth right belonged to Esau her first-born.

Jacob had no sooner fraudulently obtained his father’s blessing, than he was obliged to flee from the wrath of his brother, who in a moment of rage and disappointment had threatened to kill him.

Arid as he journeyed towards Padan-aram, in the land of Mesopotamia (where by his parents’ strict command he was enjoined to go), being weary and benighted on a desert plain, he lay down to rest, taking the Earth for his bed, a stone for his pillow, and the Canopy of Heaven for a covering.

He there in a vision saw a Ladder, the top of which reached to the Heavens, and the Angels of the Lord ascending and descending thereon. It was then the Almighty entered into a solemn covenant with Jacob, that if he would abide by His laws, and keep His commandments, He would not only bring him again to his father’s house in peace and prosperity, but would make of his seed a great and mighty people.

This was amply verified, for after a lapse of twenty years Jacob returned to his native country, was kindly received by his brother Esau, his favourite son Joseph was afterwards, by Pharaoh’s appointment, made second man in Egypt, and the children of Israel, highly favoured by the Lord, became, in process of time, one of the greatest and most mighty Nations on the face of the earth.

(NOTE: The most direct route to a destination is a straight line. Jacob’s Ladder is that straight and undeviating line from Earth to Heaven with its staves represented as virtues.)

Q – Of how many staves or rounds was this Ladder composed?

A – Of many staves or rounds, which point out as many moral virtues, but three principal ones, which are, FAITH, HOPE, and CHARITY.

Q – Why Faith, Hope, and Charity?

A – Faith in the Great Architect of the Universe; Hope in Salvation; and to be in Charity with all men.

Q – I will thank you to define FAITH.

A – Is the foundation of justice, the bond of amity, and the chief support of civil society. We live and walk by Faith. By it we have a continual acknowledgment of a Supreme Being. By Faith we have access to the Throne of grace, are justified, accepted, and finally received. A true and sincere Faith is the evidence of things not seen, but the substance of those hoped for. This well maintained and answered in our Masonic profession, will bring us to those blessed mansions, where we shall be eternally happy with God the Great Architect of the Universe.

(NOTE: With Faith comes Hope and with Hope anything is possible.)


A – Is an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and enters into that within the veil. Then let a firm reliance on the Almighty’s faithfulness animate our endeavours, and teach us to fix our desires within the limits of His most blessed promises. So shall success attend us. If we believe a thing impossible, our despondency may render it so, but he who perseveres in a just cause will ultimately overcome all difficulties.

(NOTE: “Hope an anchor of the soul”. Believe that it can happen then, with Faith and perseverance, it will happen.)


A – Lovely in itself, is the brightest ornament which can adorn our Masonic profession. It is the best test and surest proof of the sincerity of our religion.

Benevolence, rendered by Heaven-born Charity, is an honour to the nation whence it springs, is nourished, and cherished.

Happy is the man who has, sown in his breast, the seeds of benevolence; he envies not his neighbour, he believes not a tale reported to his prejudice, he forgives the injuries of men, and endeavours to blot them from his recollection.

Then, Brethren., let us remember, that we are Free and Accepted Masons; ever ready to listen to him who craves our assistance; and from him who is in want, let us not withhold a liberal hand.

So shall a heartfelt satisfaction reward our labours, and the produce of love and Charity will most assuredly follow.

(NOTE: In Section Three we were given the lesson on Charity. This last paragraph reminds us of that most important of Masonic virtues.)

Q – On what does this Ladder rest in a Freemason’s Lodge.?

A – The Volume of the Sacred Law.

Q – Why does it rest there?

A – Because by the doctrines contained in that Holy Book, we are taught to believe in the dispensations of Divine Providence; which belief strengthens our Faith, and enables us to ascend the first step.

This Faith naturally creates in us a Hope of becoming partakers of the blessed promises therein recorded; which Hope enables us to ascend the second step.

But the third and last, being Charity, comprehends the whole; and the Mason who is possessed of this virtue in its most ample sense, may justly be deemed to have attained the summit of his profession; figuratively speaking, an ethereal mansion, veiled from mortal eyes by the starry firmament, emblematically depicted in our Lodges by seven Stars, which have an allusion to as many regularly made Masons; without which number no Lodge is perfect, neither can any candidate be legally initiated into the Order.

Brethren, this ends the fourth section of the first lecture:
May every Mason attain the summit of his profession, where the just will most assuredly meet their due reward.

William Preston magnificently explains the form of our Lodges and its representation and history. In the next section Preston concentrates on the interior of the Lodge and the moralisation on the Ornaments, Furniture and Jewels.

continue reading next chapter
The First Degree Lecture - P5 →

Article by: Stephen J. Goulding

Stephen was initiated into Freemasonry in 1978 in Tylney Lodge No. 5856 (UGLE). He was Master in 1989 & 2004.

He was Master of the Lodge of Union 38 (UGLE) in 2018. He is also a PZ in the Holy Royal Arch and PM in the Mark Degree.

Stephen served 30 years in the Metropolitan Police Service (London, England) before going into education in 2000, where he became a college lecturer and a mentor for both the college and the University of Greenwich (London, England). Now retired, he teaches Tai Chi and Qigong in the community.

Facebook: Steve Goulding-Tai Chi West Sussex–Chi at Chi


Recent Articles: in this tutorial series

The First Degree Lecture - P7

William Preston (1742 – 1818) gives his lectures in the form of a Catechism – questions and answers - and broken down into seven bite size chunks. This article is the first of the seven part series presented by Steve Goulding

The First Degree Lecture - P6

William Preston (1742 – 1818) gives his lectures in the form of a Catechism – questions and answers - and broken down into seven bite size chunks. This article is the first of the seven part series presented by Steve Goulding

The First Degree Lecture - P5

William Preston (1742 – 1818) gives his lectures in the form of a Catechism – questions and answers - and broken down into seven bite size chunks. This article is the first of the seven part series presented by Steve Goulding

The First Degree Lecture - P4

William Preston (1742 – 1818) gives his lectures in the form of a Catechism – questions and answers - and broken down into seven bite size chunks. This article is the first of the seven part series presented by Steve Goulding

The First Degree Lecture - P3

William Preston (1742 – 1818) gives his lectures in the form of a Catechism – questions and answers - and broken down into seven bite size chunks. This article is the first of the seven part series presented by Steve Goulding

Apprentice to Master, “a Servant Leader”.

Freemasonry is a learning platform used to improve a lifestyle which is morally, educationally and spiritually sound. To guide a person through life in order to be the best they can be. A Master, or ‘Servant Leader,’ develops those people in their care. They are someone who can guide others using the principles of Freemasonry - By Stephen J. Goulding

The First Degree Lecture - P2

William Preston (1742 – 1818) gives his lectures in the form of a Catechism – questions and answers - and broken down into seven bite size chunks. This article is the second of the seven part series presented by Steve Goulding

The First Degree Lecture - P1

William Preston (1742 – 1818) gives his lectures in the form of a Catechism – questions and answers - and broken down into seven bite size chunks. This article is the first of the seven part series presented by Steve Goulding

Commentary on the Third Degree Charge

The Third Degree Charge invites the candidate to reflect on his life as both a ‘moral’ and ‘educated’ man, and to contemplate on what may be missing in his life. The ‘genuine secrets of a Master Mason’.

Commentary on the Second Degree Charge

In the second degree we learn about being an educated man. Skilful, not only in the Craft itself but also how to communicate and manage others. This Commentary looks at the second degree charge in detail.

The Charges in Each Degree

The ‘Old Charges’ have come down to us, containing the rules and regulations by which Lodges should be run and the moral and social standards to which each Lodge member should adhere.

The Winding Staircase

Steps to the Making of a Master. The symbolism of each step of the winding staircase is to continue your personal development throughout your life, right up to your last breath in this world.

Jacob's Ladder

On the First Degree tracing board the most dominant feature is Jacob’s Ladder stretching from Earth to Heaven. Being straight, it is the shortest and quickest way to reach heaven, and being straight you can see the end goal.

The North East Corner: A Lesson on Charity

The ritual of the North East corner is a powerful piece of teaching. Let us examine that piece of ritual more closely; the lesson on charity.


When we look at the ritual book the deacons are told to ‘perambulate’ with the candidate. So what does this really mean?

Vows of Fidelity

The taking of a ‘Vow of Fidelity’. Oaths, Vows and Covenants

Morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols

A phrase that immediately comes to mind when describing Freemasonry – Morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. Let us have a look at what this phrase actually means.

Officers of the Royal Arch - The Principals

The Principals' role in the Royal Arch, representing the pinnacle of spiritual leadership. Their esoteric significance lies in the unity of the three aspects of the divine, emphasizing the importance of harmony and balance in attaining spiritual enlightenment. The Principals embody the ultimate goal of the Royal Arch journey - the realization of divine wisdom.

Officers of the Royal Arch - Scribe Ezra

Scribe Ezra is portrayed as a crucial figure within the Royal Arch, responsible for interpreting and teaching divine laws. The significance of his role lies in the pursuit of understanding and applying sacred knowledge, emphasizing the transformative power of wisdom when applied to one's life.

Officers of the Royal Arch - Scribe Nehemiah

Scribe Nehemiah's responsibility within the Royal Arch, is that of preserving the sacred teachings. Scribe Nehemiah symbolizes the importance of maintaining accurate records and upholding the integrity of divine knowledge, thus reflecting the value of safeguarding spiritual wisdom for future generations.

Officers of the Royal Arch - The Sojourners

The Sojourners, are seekers of truth, their journey symbolizes the spiritual path to enlightenment. Their role in rediscovering lost wisdom highlights the esoteric concept of regaining divine knowledge through perseverance and self-discovery.

Commentary on the Charge after Initiation

A more detailed explanation in order for us to understand the Charge after Initiation

Officers of the Royal Arch - The Janitor

The Janitor, is a crucial officer in the Royal Arch. Symbolically, the Janitor represents the guardian of sacred knowledge, ensuring only worthy individuals gain access. This function emphasizes the importance of maintaining spiritual purity and safeguarding the mysteries of the Royal Arch.

Officers of the Lodge - Worshipful Master

Worshipful Master: the highest-ranking officer in the lodge, is the embodiment of wisdom and authority. The Worshipful Master guides the brethren on their spiritual path, representing the divine light that illuminates the Masonic quest for knowledge and self-discovery.

Officers of the Lodge - Senior Warden

Senior Warden: embodies the essence of strength and stability within the lodge. As the pillar of support for the Worshipful Master, the Senior Warden symbolizes the fortitude required on our spiritual journey, inspiring us to persevere in the face of adversity

Officers of the Lodge - Junior Warden

Junior Warden: Ensuring the well-being of the brethren during the lodge's hours of refreshment. Representing the virtue of temperance, the Junior Warden reminds us to find balance in our lives and cultivate moral discipline in our pursuit of truth.

Officers of the Lodge - Deacons

Deacons: The messengers and intermediaries within the lodge. Representing the communication between the material and the spiritual realms, Deacons symbolize the importance of transmitting knowledge and wisdom as we strive for personal growth and enlightenment on our Masonic journey.

Officers of the Lodge - Inner Guard

Inner Guard: Is the first line of defence against unworthy intruders, the Inner Guard represents our inner conscience and the personal responsibility we have to safeguard the integrity of our spiritual journey.

Officers of the Lodge - Tyler

Tyler: The significance as the protector of the lodge's secrets and harmony. Tasked with guarding the entrance, the Tyler symbolizes our spiritual and moral boundaries, ensuring only worthy candidates are allowed into the sacred space of Freemasonry's teachings and rituals.

masonic knowledge

to be a better citizen of the world

share the square with two brothers

click image to open email app on mobile device

Masonic Apparel

made to order

Share this article ....