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But, according to a reference quoted by Douglas Knoop in The Mason Word, his Prestonian Lecture for 1938: 'Actually fewer than 50 per cent of the apprentices bound in London took up their freedom.' The earliest record among the surviving Old Charges is the oft-quoted Regius Poem, or Halliwell MS dated c. It is headed in Latin - 'Here begin the constitutions of the art of Geometry according to Euclid', and among the fifteen Points and the fifteen Articles, is the following, but quoted in modern English: The third Point must be severely with the 'prentice know it well, His master's counsel he keep and close, and his fellows by his good purpose; The privities of the chamber tell he to no man, nor in the lodge whatsoever they do; Whatsoever thou hearest or seest them do, tell it to no man wheresoever you go; The counsel of the hall, and even of the bower, keep it well to thy great honour, Lest it would turn thyself to blame, and bring the craft into great shame.(From a modern transcript by Roderick H Baxter, Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge in 1922.(Proverbs xxv, 9, 10 ) That booklet perpetuates injunctions similar to those written into the Old Charges dating from the 14th century. James Anderson compiled the first book of Constitutions of the Freemasons in 1723.It was officially sanctioned by the premier Grand Lodge founded in London in 1717, and became the means by which Speculative Freemasonry was to be governed.From such early control development escalated in the 14th to the 17th centuries and there is ample evidence in both England and Scotland that such a trade control included instruction in matters beyond their crafts and skills; traces of that form of instruction can be found in modern times.As an illustration let us take the little booklet supplied on admission to the Freedom of the City of London which is entitled Good Advice to Apprentices; or The Covenants of the City Indenture (familiarly Explained and Enforced By Scripture.) from a copy dated 1863 the first two items, from eleven are 'familiarly Explained', are here quoted: 'During which term the said Apprentice his Master faithfully shall serve' - that is he shall be true and just to his Master in all his dealings, both in word and deed; he must not only keep his hands from picking and stealing, and his tongue from lying and slandering; he must also abstain from doing him any manner of injury, by idleness, negligence, or carelessness; by deceiving, or defaming, or any kind of evil speaking; but he must learn and labour to do him a true and real service.
Only one biblical extract is given in support of that: Discover not a secret to another, lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine infamy turn not away.
In mediaeval times skilled craftsmen in various trades banded together to protect their crafts and permitted only those who had been trained, taught, proved, and trusted to pursue their skills.
It was a means to outlaw pirates from producing inferior work and thus betray the trust of the architect, the master, or the commissioner of the work.
British Masonic Miscellany Vol 1) It is worthy of notice here that the Regius Poem ends with the expression 'So mote it be' and that archaic expression is still used in Freemasonry.
There is no question that Freemasonry was and still is ' a peculiar system of morality' that has stood the test of time.