Candidate Charge for the Past Master Degree

“My Brother: The Past Master’s degree, unlike all the other degrees of Freemasonry, sheds no light upon itself. It was formerly conferred only on Masters of Lodges, to instruct them in the duties they owed the Lodges over which they were called to preside, and likewise the duties of the brethren to the Chair; but we, as Royal Arch Masons, confer this degree, not only as a preliminary step, but also for the more important purpose of guarding us against a breach of our Masonic obligations. We are all, my brother, too apt to come forward and kneel at our sacred altar and take upon ourselves the most solemn obligations to perform certain duties, and then behave as if we had not done so. This my brother, is not as it should be. Let the scene which you have this evening witnessed be a striking lesson to you, and not only to you, but to us all as Masons, never to lose sight of the solemn obligations which we have all taken upon ourselves of our own free will, and in the most solemn manner promised that we would never violate. It becomes your duty as a Past Master, by amiable, discreet, and virtuous conduct, to convince mankind of the goodness of the institution; so that when a person is said to be a member of it, the world may know that he is one to whom the burdened heart may pour out its sorrows; to whom distress may prefer its suit; whose hand is guided by justice, and whose heart is expanded by benevolence. If you have any doubt of the extent of your obligations, a daily resource to the Scriptures of Divine Truth will set you right. It will make your duties plain, and the discharge of them a pleasure rather than a burden. Make then the Holy Bible, that Great Light in Masonry, the man of your counsels, and the meditation of your heart. It will never mislead nor deceive you, but a strict observance of its holy precepts will fit and prepare you for usefulness in this life, and for a glorious inheritance in that which is to come.”

- From “A Guide to the Royal Arch Chapter” by John Sheville and James L. Gould written in 1867

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