The Tyler’s Sword
By Most Illustrious Companion John D. Barnes
Past Most Illustrious Grand Master and Grand Treasurer, Grand Council of New Jersey
MIC John D. Barnes
Past Most Illustrious Grand Master of New Jersey
‘Wounds inflicted by the sword heal more easily than those inflicted by the tongue.’ -Cardinal Richelieu
Back in the 1800’s the blade of the Tyler’s or Sentinel’s sword was wavy, not straight like all our swords are today. Being snake-shaped, the sword didn’t fit into a sheath very easily, so it always remained drawn and ready for use. It was made that way to remind us of the Fiery Sword that guarded the way back into the Garden of Eden. The angel was there to keep out those who had sinned.
Just as our Sentinel watches the entrance to the Secret Vault with sleepless vigilance, so should you keep an untiring watch on your head, your heart, and your hands. Just as our Captain of the Guard admits only those deemed select, faithful, and worthy, so should you allow only select thoughts to enter your mind, only true words to be spoken by your heart, and only worthy deeds to be performed by your hands.
In the charges that followed each degree’s lecture, you learned more about your duties to God, your country, and to yourself. In the closing charges of your Lodge and your Chapter you learned of the duties you owe to your Brothers and Companions. In our degrees you learned the lessons of preparedness and duty.
When you build your temporal and Masonic edifices, you constantly use the Plumb, Square, and Level to check your work. You take these precautions so that any error does not go undetected for too long, so it does not grow and compound. You know that if you’re off by only a quarter of an inch every twelve inches, you’ll be a full inch off at four feet! Standing idly by while a Brother’s character is traduced, speaking evil of him, acting contrary to our teachings, can only be fixed if you catch it early on. Otherwise it will grow and fester, and hurt too many people.
Your sleepless vigilance is what makes you select, shows your faithfulness, and demonstrates your worthiness. While you stay on guard against those things that might lessen your character, flaming sword in hand, you will be worthy of the confidence reposed in you.
The stroke of the whip makes marks in the flesh: but the stroke of the tongue breaks the bones. Many have fallen by the edge of the sword: but not so many as have fallen by the tongue.