Presented by, Bro. D. Hazelwood-Zion Lodge No. 77
Masonic Bulletin, BCY-April 1938
On a tracing board, bearing the date of 1776, we see the first authentic record of the use of Jacob’s ladder in Masonry. Unlike the ladder found in the rituals of the ancient initiations, it has only three principal rounds instead of the mystical seven. These three, known as the theological ladder, are composed of
Faith, Hope and Charity
Some would have liked to have seen the seven-round ladder used which ascends thus:
Temperance; Fortitude; Prudence; Justice; Faith; Hope and Charity
The symbolic value of the ladder is progress, so let us try to find out just what each round stands for.
Is not faith synonymous with confidence or trust which we place in God?
Is it not said that “faith is the evidence of things not seen?”
For, when we see, we no longer believe by faith but through demonstration.
This is a good beginning and leads us on to the next round.
HOPE: in immortality.
It is appropriately placed there, for, having attained Faith in God, we are lead by a belief in His wisdom and goodness to the hope of immortality.
This is but a reasonable expectation; without it virtue would lose its necessary stimulus and vice its salutary fear; life would be devoid of joy and the grave but a scene of desolation.
The ancients represented hope by a nymph holding in her hand a bouquet of opening flowers, indicative of coming fruit: but in modern Masonic iconology it is represented by a virgin leaning on an anchor, the anchor itself being a symbol of hope.
“though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity…I am nothing.”
This is the last round and the very pinnacle of Masonry.
The other two are basic conditions, but charity demands action–“it suffereth long”
According to the original Greek, charity is synonymous to love.
Thus a true Mason will be slow to anger and easy to forgive.
He will stay his falling brother by gentle admonition, and warn him with kindness of approaching danger.
He will not open his ears to his slanderers, and will close his lips against all reproach.
So, this last rung reaches to the very vault of heaven which encompasses the whole earth, thereby impressing upon us to practice charity and love towards not only our brethren but all men.