All the implements of Masonry are assigned to the use of a Master Mason. The principal one is the Trowel, an instrument used by operative Masons to spread the cement which unites the building into one common mass. In speculative Freemasonry it is a symbol of Brotherhood.
Paul stood on Mars Hill and said to the Athenians, "God hath made of one blood every nation of men." That is not an expression of sentiment but the announcement of a fact, whether men desire or deny it, whether men cherish it in their hearts or crucify it. Man's ignorance does not change the laws of nature nor vary their irresistible march. God's laws vindicate themselves; they crush all who oppose and break into pieces everything that is not in harmony with their purpose. In the light of this truth it can be safely asserted that no nation, no civilization can long endure which does violence to the divine fact of human brotherhood.
Fraternity is the basis of all important movements for the common good and the general welfare of society. Freemasonry has been called a "society of friends and brothers employing symbols to teach the truth." The trowel is a Masonic symbol of love, and with it we are to spread the cement of brotherly affection. Next to faith in God, the greatest landmark in Freemasonry is the "Brotherhood of man." We call each other "Brother", but we sometimes fail to realize that brotherhood is a reciprocal relationship. It means that if I am to be a brother to you, then you must be a brother to me. It is exceedingly practical; it is not only for grateful gifts and happy hours, but for me when the soul is sad, when the heart is pierced and pained, when the road is rough and ragged, and the way seems desolate and drear.
The sentiment of Brotherhood in a man's heart is a futile thing unless he can find avenues for its external expression. So far as I have been able to discover, there are three such avenues. The first is sympathy. Note intellectual sympathy that passes by on the other side of the street and expresses sorrow, but a red-blooded sympathy that lifts a man up who has fallen down and speaks the light of a new hope into his face. Dr. Hillis said that sympathy is the measure of a man's intellectual power. Sympathy is more than this; it is the measure of a man's heart-throb and soul vision. The great painters, poets, preachers, physicians, and patriots, whose names illuminate the pages of history, excelled their contemporaries in this one quality of human sympathy.
The second avenue is service. I have read somewhere, most likely in one of the writings of Dr. Joseph Fort Newton, a statement that all over the vast temple of Freemasonry, from foundation stone to the highest pinnacle, is inscribed in letters of living light the divine truth that labor is love, that work is worship, and that not indolence but industry is the crowning glory of a man's life whether he be rich or poor. In all the annals of human progress the men who have accomplished works which have lived after them, which have come up through cycles of time a blessing to succeeding generations, had not before their eyes gold or fame or selfish aims or sordid gain, but had hung upon the walls of their minds great ideals of human service to which they remained devoted until the light faded and the day closed.
The third avenue is sacrifice, the most radiant word in the history of our race. The sacrifices of father and mother for the education of the child, the sacrifices of son and daughter for the old folks back home, the sacrifices of the patriot for the homeland and the Flag, the sacrifices of the great servants of humanity, have through the ages made music in the souls of men. He who would take sacrifice out of human life would steal from maternity its sacred sweetness, expunge the wrinkles from the face of Abraham Lincoln, and obliterate the stripes of red in our National Flag.
Every advance in civilization involves a victim. Before the progress of the world stands an altar and on it a sacrifice.
Back in the centuries Socrates, with a cup of hemlock poison pressed to his lips, offered himself upon the altar of human sacrifice for the divine right of liberty in man.
The words of Patrick Henry before the Virginia Assembly: "The next gale that blows from the north will bring to our ears the resounding clash of arms. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death," lifted the soul of Colonial America up to the coronation of a supreme sacrifice and made this Republic of the West a possibility.
In the world crisis, American soldiers and sailors, as the champions of civilization, laid their all, their hopes, their aspirations, their ambitions, their home ties and affections upon the altar of human sacrifice to insure our national safety, defend our national honor, and vindicate the ideals of American Independence on the battle fields of Flanders and of France.
In a little country school I was taught that our National Flag stands for the graves of men and the tears of women, for untrammeled conscience and free institutions, for sacred memories and great ideals; that its red stands for the blood that bought it, its white for the purity of the motive that caused it to be shed, its blue for loyalty ascending to the sky, and its stars for deeds of bravery brighter than the stars of faultless night, But when I think of George Washington and Gen. Joseph Warren, and Capt. John Paul Jones, and that heroic band of Masonic patriots in the American Revolution and cast the utility of our Craft against the background of its history, I can see its stripes of red baptized in the sacrificial blood of our Fraternity, and its stars of glory illuminated By the deathless light that shines from a Masonic Altar.
In Freemasonry we are familiar with the ancient drama of sacrifice made in the name of faith, fortitude and fidelity.
These three, sympathy, service, sacrifice, are the avenues for the external expression of the sentiment of brotherhood in man's heart. In proportion as we are inspired by this ideal and use these avenues of expression, our Fraternity will contribute to human good and happiness and answer the end of its institution. Tools have been called "The evangelists of a new day." They are teachers not less than college and cathedral. Just as the Twenty-four-inch gauge and Common Gavel stand for purpose and power, and the Level, Square and Plumb present basic ideas of equality, morality and righteousness, so the Trowel is Freemasonry's symbol of unity and brotherhood among men.