by the Masonic Services Association of North America, pp 7 - 9.  

Opinions expressed are those of the authors quoted.

page 7

Freemasonry is a system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols.  This is the classic definition of the Craft - one in such general use that it has virtually become the accepted definition.  There are others, however, amplifying the above, which are worthy of note.  Albert Gallatin Mackey contends that Freemasonry "is a science which is engaged in the search for the truth."  Joseph Fort Newton offers a very comprehensive definition taken from the German Handbuch, characterizing it as the best definition given so far:

"Masonry is the activity of closely united men who, employing symbolical forms borrowed principally from the mason's trade and from architecture, work for the
"welfare of mankind, striving morally to ennoble themselves and others, and thereby to bring about a universal league of Mankind, which they aspire to exhibit even now on a small scale."

No useful purpose would be served by presenting the many other existing definitions of Freemasonry, the majority of which contain common elements.  At best, any definition can give only a meager description of the philosophy of the organization, and amplification is not only helpful, but necessary.  This is provided by the Masonic Creed, embracing the Masonic Belief, and the Masonic Teaching







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which may be found in the Masonic edition of the Holy Bible published by the A. J. Holman Company of Philadelphia.

"The Masonic Belief

There is One God, the Father of all men.
The Holy Bible is the Great Light in Masonry, and the Rule and Guide for Faith and practice.
Man is immortal.
Character determines destiny.
Love of Man is, next to love of God, man's first duty.
Prayer, communion of man with God, is helpful.

The Masonic Teaching

Masonry teaches man to practice charity and benevolence, to protect chastity, to respect the ties of 
blood and friendship, to adopt the principles and revere the ordinances of religion, to assist the feeble, guide the blind, raise up the downtrodden, shelter the orphan, guard the altar, support the government, inculcate morality, promote learning, love man, fear God, implore His mercy, and hope for happiness."
Some authorities have differentiated between Freemasonry as a system and Freemasonry as an organization.  While this is essential in understanding its historical background, one must take the logical position that today the two are inseparable.  This being so, the following seems to be an acceptable 




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descriptive conclusion:  Freemasonry is a system of moral philosophy structured on the principal of the Brotherhood of Man and a belief in God and immortality, imparted symbolically and allegorically through a coordinated complex of Masonic Lodges.

An allegory is a narrative, frequently illustrating a moral truth, in which the true meaning is concealed, thereby requiring interpretation and permitting the meaning to be deduced from the story which id told.  That Freemasonry teaches by allegory is neither new nor unique.  Allegory creates interest in abstract subjects by presenting them in an attractive form; it stimulates independent thinking to discover the veiled context.  The use of allegory is common in Greek and 

Roman mythology, in the Bible, and in early as well as contemporary literature.

In discussing the use of allegory in Freemasonry, J. O. Ball asserts that

"in seeking why Masonry is taught in allegories, instead of by logical statements of truth in direct form, we may answer that in many ages truth has been taught by allegories and parables, in order that the mind may conceive great and fundamental truths by comparison with simple things.  Some think that Masonry is taught by types, emblems, and allegorical figures in order to conceal thought....On the contrary, the parable or allegory makes the thought clear to the thinking mind, but only after a certain effort in thinking the thing through."