The following research, linking Isaac Newton to the Sagan Signal, is being offered to academics for possible further investigation and analysis:
In the 17th century, Isaac Newton discovered a Bible code that challenged fundamental teachings of the Church, and it needed a secure home, a place where it could be protected and preserved, for centuries if need be, until it was safe to reveal to the public. In this essay, the circumstances and events that made it possible for Newton to successfully implant the secrets of the code within the deepest recesses of Freemasonry will be investigated. I begin with his personal assistant on The Royal Society, John Theophilus Desaguliers.
Dr. John Theophilus Desaguliers (1683-1744)
Most people know that the 3rd and 33rd degree in Freemasonry are important offices, but few know the name of the man responsible for their creation. Early in the 18th century, John Theophilus Desaguliers, a distinguished member of what was then the greatest scientific deliberative body on Earth, The Royal Society, was given a Mission Impossible set of instructions from Society President, Sir Isaac Newton.
Newton’s charge to Desaguliers: Launch a new version of Masonry based in London that would be comprised entirely of scientists and aristocrats who were unwaveringly dedicated to Newton and his revolutionary science. Once established, old Scottish rituals would be re-written and the number of degrees dramatically expanded. The sole purpose of this new iteration of the Lodge was to conceal and preserve what Newton considered his greatest discovery, a hidden Bible code.
Born in France at a time when that country was rabidly Catholic, Desaguliers’ father, a Protestant minister, was facing intense persecution. By state decree, non-Catholics were given three choices. They could convert, leave the country, or be executed. If they chose to emigrate, they were free to do so under one horrific condition, they had to leave their children behind to be raised Catholic.
In an incredibly bold and dangerous move, John’s parents hid the infant in a hand-held luggage barrel, hoping and praying he wouldn’t wake up and start crying until after they had boarded the ship. As they made their way up the wharf, past the authorities, he remained fast asleep. Their daring plan worked.
Once the family was safe in England, John’s father established a school where John, when he came of age, worked as his assistant. From there he went on to Oxford where he earned his B.A., his Masters and Doctorate. In 1713 he moved to London where he assumed the ministry of St. Lawrence Church. His sermons, however, soon became a secondary activity. Armed with a keen scientific mind, he had an advanced understanding of Newtonian physics. After services he would take to a popular street corner and explain to enthralled crowds gathered around him the incredible intricacies and beauty of Newton’s discoveries, conducting simple experiments and passing out tracts for people who could read to take home and study.
Desaguliers soon caught the attention of the man he so admired, Isaac Newton, who invited him to become a member of The Royal Society and curator in charge of all experiments. Among his many technical and scientific achievements during his long stint on the Society was his invention of the planetarium.
The Relationship between Newton and Desaguliers
Isaac Newton never married. Many scholars believe he never had sex. He was enigmatic. Much of his scientific work was published grudgingly, usually to establish priority by proving that he was the original discoverer. If he were ever to take another human into his confidence it would have to be not just a scientist or a theologian, but a natural philosopher gifted in both areas. It would have to be a man of unique gifts who understood and appreciated the great depth and meaning of both his physical and his metaphysical beliefs, and perhaps most important, a man who shared his passion for secrecy. John Theophilus Desaguliers was that man.
Newton, who assumed the presidency of The Royal Society on April 12, 1704, instantly got to work ousting his enemies, filling all key positions with men 100% dedicated to his science and to his leadership. In many respects, Newton succeeded in turning The Royal Society into a sort of hero worship cult, asserting total and absolute control over its proceedings. Desaguliers was the ultimate convert, pledging Newton his unwavering loyalty and obedience.
Isaac Newton, influential, secretive, and iconoclastic, took Desaguliers into his private company, made him his personal laboratory assistant, and embraced him as friend and confidant. The two of them undoubtedly shared many hours discussing science and theology, the one no more or less important than the other. True science and true religion, they were both certain, were necessary parts of a single greater Reality. Desaguliers, the ordained minister, the public teacher and lecturer, the accomplished scientist and mathematician, was the quintessential Newtonian.
Newton shared his deepest scientific and metaphysical thoughts and convictions with Desaguliers without reservation. There would have been none of characteristic secrecy for which Newton was so justifiably famous, and the source of so much consternation from his peers in the scientific community. In the presence of the great master, Desaguliers was like a sponge, soaking up the subtle complexities of Newtonian physics and then passing them on to commoners in his lectures. Regarding Newton’s metaphysical discoveries, a different approach was needed. Those sacred truths needed to be passed forward in secret.
The intimate relationship between these two men has never been adequately described or investigated. I would characterize it as one that went beyond trust and respect. It was mutual love, with the understanding that it was Newton who had been touched by the hand of God, enabling him to see and understand truths no other human had ever been privileged to comprehend. These two men, in concert, left their mark on history in ways that are still unfolding.
The key to understanding Newton’s plan to preserve the code for posterity is to track the activities of Desaguliers as they are recorded in Masonic historical records. Whatever Desaguliers did after he assumed his position in The Royal Society, we can be sure that it was done with the knowledge and under the direction of Newton, including the founding of Grand Lodge Freemasonry that today has over seven million members worldwide and represents almost 90% of all Masonic lodges in existence. But make no mistake, the true founder of reformed Freemasonry was not Desaguliers, who was simply carrying out orders, it was Isaac Newton. This is a secret that Masonic leaders never talk about, and one that I suspect most Masons are not aware.
Almost all books on Isaac Newton speak of Desaguliers, but invariably fail to mention his deep involvement with Freemasonry. Conversely, books on Freemasonry, while extolling Desaguliers’ vital role in the founding and early development of the London Grand Lodge, say little about his intimate bond with Isaac Newton. To my knowledge, this manuscript represents the first serious investigation of the full extent of the relationship of the two men who dominated The Royal Society and who created a new form of Freemasonry known as the London Grand Lodge.
The Royal Society
Regarding Isaac Newton’s tenure as president of The Royal Society, Newton biographer Richard Westfall writes:
“After an interlude of absentee presidents chosen for their political prominence, the society watched with surprise as a man who had devoted his life to its announced goals seized its helm and bent his energy to steering it on a determined course. Newton made a point of running the council. It almost never met without him . . . . Newton failed to preside at a total of three meetings during the next twenty years before age began to restrict him.” The Life of Isaac Newton.
Desaguliers became a Fellow of The Royal Society in 1714. Soon thereafter he was appointed by Newton as its Curator, in charge of all experiments. He would eventually become the recipient of the Society’s distinguished Copley Medal. Westfall continues:
“Desaguliers, however, was to become a fixture at the meetings, where he carried out sets of experiments intimately related to various aspects of Newtonian natural philosophy. Some of his experiments, such as the transmission of heat through a vacuum, influenced Newton’s views, and others found their way into the third edition of the Principia. With Desaguliers as the mainstay and other young Newtonians such as Jurin, Taylor, and Keill frequently contributing papers, the meetings picked up again for a few years.”
Newton and Desaguliers filled all the key offices of The Royal Society with committed Newtonians. From the day he took command as president until near his death, The Royal Society was under the absolute control of Newton and his band of loyalists, with Desaguliers serving as First Lieutenant. Thanks to The Royal Society, the natural philosophy of Isaac Newton was disseminated throughout England and across the Channel, where it took the Continent by storm and made Newton an international icon.
Nothing that transpired in The Royal Society, however, reflected Newton’s greater interest, which was his metaphysics. For that he needed another outlet, an institution as dedicated to speculative philosophy as The Royal Society was dedicated to natural philosophy. To protect and preserve a hidden Bible code it also had to be able to keep secrets. In one of history’s most under-investigated and under-reported events, between 1717 and 1724, John Theophilus Desaguliers, following the direction of Isaac Newton, founded London Grand Lodge Freemasonry, established the 3rd and 33rd degrees, and with the help of another Newtonian, James Anderson, rewrote the Masonic Laying of the Cornerstone ritual to include the sequence: corn, wine, and oil - three key symbols associated with the Last Supper that I will prove are a map to the code.
A Simple History of London Grand Lodge Freemasonry
The recorded history of Grand Lodge Freemasonry is complex and confusing, seemingly by design. In the first few years of its existence, for example, no official minutes were kept. But there are some basic facts that everyone seems to agree on:
1. Before 1717, English Freemasonry consisted of lodges in England, Scotland and Ireland. Membership was made up mostly, but not entirely, of professional stoneworkers known as “operatives.”
2. On June 24, 1717, four English lodges, three in London and one in nearby Westminster, formed the London Grand Lodge. Comprised of intellectuals and aristocrats, the reason cited for creating a totally new form of Freemasonry was so that old Masonic rituals, which were deemed anachronistic and filled with errors, could be rewritten and brought into conformity with modern Newtonian science.
3. Once the four London Grand Lodges formed, other lodges began applying for membership. By 1723 there were 52 Grand Lodges, with the four original London Grand Lodges maintaining control and known collectively as the Mother Lodge.
4. London Grand Lodge Freemasonry quickly became so influential that it was the dominant expression of the Craft, even though there remained hundreds of lodges made up of common stoneworkers who preferred to remain unaffiliated.
5. Many Masonic lodges in Scotland, Ireland and England joined the Grand Lodge movement, but kept the old rituals.
6. The unwillingness of these lodges to adopt the newly rewritten rituals led to a schism in Grand Lodge Freemasonry. Those who accepted the modernization of the rituals stayed associated with London Grand Lodge and became known as Moderns. Those who kept the old rituals called themselves Ancients, or Antients.
7. Other lodges stayed out of the Grand Lodge system altogether. They were neither Modern nor Ancient. They continued on as unaffiliated Masonic lodges known as Old Masons or St. Johns Masons.
8. In 1813, Ancient and Modern Grand Lodge Freemasons reconciled and united, creating the single Grand Lodge system that today is known and respected throughout the world. The Encyclopedia of Freemasonry
It was Isaac Newton, working secretly in concert with John Theophilus Desaguliers, who conceived the notion of the London Grand Lodge, who invented the third degree of Master Mason and the thirty-third degree, the highest level of Speculative Freemasonry, and who re-wrote the Laying of the Cornerstone ritual in a way that made the dedication of corn, wine, and oil the centerpiece of the service. This sudden flurry of Masonic transformation and expansionism was created for one purpose: to preserve and perpetuate the secret of the code.
Legally, the creation of London Grand Lodge Freemasonry would not have been possible without the approval of the leadership of Mary’s Chapel in Edinburgh, Scotland. As the oldest lodge in Great Britain, it had sole authority to grant a franchise for a dramatically new form of Masonry, one that would be headquartered in what was at that time the political, economic, and scientific center of the universe, London, England. Though Scotland and England were intense rivals, in 1717 a franchise was granted to Desaguliers to launch a new form of Freemasonry - when he wasn’t even a Mason! Mission Impossible had been accomplished. A couple of years later, in 1719, Desaguliers was elected third Grand Master of London Grand Lodge, and Deputy Grand Master in 1723 and 1725.
After the founding of the London Grand Lodge, three significant pieces of writing were produced that directed the future of the craft. In 1720, Grand Master George Payne wrote the first Masonic manual: “General Regulations of a Freemason.” In 1723, Dr. James Anderson wrote: “The Constitution of the Freemasons” and Dr. John Theophilus Desaguliers wrote a historical narrative that traced Freemasonry back to biblical times.
Together, these three tomes gave definition to the Grand Lodge movement, setting a boundary on what kinds of speculations were acceptable. They made it perfectly clear that of the numerous references in Masonic literature to the gods and goddesses of ancient civilizations like Egypt and Babylonia, it was the Bible and the God of the Jews and Christians that stood above and distinct. In many respects, Grand Lodge Freemasonry, with its subtle denial of the Nicene Trinity and the deity of Christ, became something of a shadow church for Enlightenment thinkers whose goal was nothing less than the full unification of science and religion.
Masonic historians, tip-toeing carefully around events and personalities that surrounded the newly formed Grand Lodge, openly acknowledge that Desaguliers was the central figure and driving force in its creation. Following is testimony from the website, The Masonic Trowel:
“Desaguliers appears to have been one of the most important, if not the first, man of great scholastic attainments who found in Speculative Freemasonry something which so appealed to him that he gave valuable time and effort without stint to advance the (then) new Speculative Art.”
In 1724, seven years after the Grand Lodge was founded, Desaguliers made a visit to Edinburgh, presumably to check out its water supply. His primary purpose, however, was not to examine the city’s water system, although he may have done that, it was to ask Mary’s Chapel leaders for permission for the London Grand Lodge to establish the 3rd degree and to approve the rewriting of old rituals that permanently inscribed the corn, wine, and oil sequence into Masonic archives. It seems clear in the warm way that Desaguliers was received in Edinburgh that there had been a significant amount of correspondence and preparation for the meeting before his arrival, with final approval being a mere formality.
Prior to the meeting at Mary’s Chapel there were only two degrees of Masonry: Entered Apprentice (first degree) and Fellow Craft (second degree). By the time Desaguliers left, a third “Master Mason” degree had been approved, along with authority to rewrite the Masonic ritual of The Laying of the Cornerstone.
Following is a more detailed account of the meeting between Desaguliers and Mary’s Chapel:
“In 1900, David Murray Lyon published the History of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel) NO. 1. In it are a number of curious statements, which add up to the effect that Dr. Desaguliers, in Edinburgh on business connected with his civil engineering in relation to the water supply, sought a conference with the Masters and Wardens of Mary’s Chapel; that he was received as a brother in the Lodge; that he had been a prime mover in the establishment of the Mother Grand Lodge in London; that he had engaged with other learned brethren in the fabrication of The Master’s Art, of the preparation of the Constitution, and the catechetical arrangement of the lectures; that in Mary’s Chapel he conducted the ceremonies of entering the passage according to the ritual he was anxious to introduce.”
Perhaps fearful that he was giving out too much information, Lyon then equivocates:
“The Mary’s Chapel Lodge story is now generally considered to be invention. Undoubted is the fact that Desaguliers visited Mary’s Chapel in Edinburgh, but the statements made that he had written a new “Master’s Part,” that he introduced it in Scotland, and that he “conferred the degree” in Mary’s Chapel seem without any real basis. Of course someone at some time, probably around 1725, elaborated the old rituals and what we know as the third degree came into existence as a ceremony by itself. It may have been that Dr. Desaguliers had a part in it. But so may have had Anderson and Payne and a half a dozen others. Masonry has suffered enough from apocryphal tales – sometimes at the hands of her friends (Oliver and Anderson, for instance) without attempting to saddle on one of the great sons activities for which there is no proof. Dr. Desaguliers did enough for Freemasonry without writing the third degree (Master’s Part) or attempting to introduce it to Scotland.”
“This fact is undoubted; up to the time of Dr. Desaguliers entry into, and interest in, Freemasonry, the majority of the members of the Craft were men of comparatively obscure origin and little importance; of no great influence, although doubtless good men and true. But due to the influence of Dr. Desaguliers, into the lodges came a large influx of men in standing in society, art, literature, science. Men of peerage joined the Craft, even Dukes became Grand Masters. A large number of fellows of the Royal Society sought Freemasonry and lent it the prestige of their names and lives.”
Dr. David Harrison, author of Genesis of Freemasonry, cites the extraordinary importance of the 3rd degree ritual in the Lodge:
“Most historians have neglected . . . the importance of the (3rd degree) ritual, which was central to the history of Freemasonry and held the true meaning of the Craft.” And “we clearly find that Desaguliers was influenced by various sources.” (Bold mine).
Who were these “sources” that influenced Desaguliers? Harrison goes on to identify them:
“Accordingly, this was the knowledge that was lost, which needed to be found. Informed by this “lost knowledge,” Ashmole, Newton (alchemist and reported Rosicrucian), Desaguliers and others in their dispensation, in the midst of the tensions between faith, reason and the State, should endeavor to recover and reconstruct the foundations for the idea that there needn’t be any “false” distinctions between Man, Earth, and Cosmos. All is One, Spirit/Light.” freemasoninformation.com.
This statement, by a respected Masonic historian, is a patent admission that Isaac Newton and John Theophilus Desaguliers were key players in the founding of the London Grand Lodge, in the creation of the 3rd degree, and in the re-writing of old Scottish Rite rituals.
There is one more name to be considered in this unfolding saga, that of James Anderson.
James Anderson (1679-1739 A.D.)
“Two men, one a Scotsman and one a Frenchman, seem to have played the leading part in the foundation of the Grand Lodge, though there is no written record that either of them were initiated as Freemasons until a few years later. The Scotsman was the Reverend James Anderson, from Aberdeen, where he was born and educated, and became a minister of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland in 1702, when he was aged 23. In 1709 he moved to London, and became the minister at Nonconformist chapels in Glasshouse Street, Swallow Street, Piccadilly, and Lisle Street in Leicester Fields. He wrote a long book, Royal Genealogies, or The Genealogical Tables of Emperors, Kings and Princes from Adam to this time. It was a translation of a German work with some additions taken from another English author. None of his written works have any value or interest except for his Book of Constitutions of the Antient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons, which he wrote at the orders of Grand Lodge in 1723 and elaborated in a second edition in 1738.” Ridley.
The man charged with physically rewriting the rituals of Scottish Rite Masonry was James Anderson, whose finished product was known as the Constitutions.
“In 1723, as if to allay once and for all any suspicion of subversive political activity, there appeared the famous Constitutions of James Anderson.” (Baigent/Leigh).
“Anderson’s Constitutions became, in effect, the Bible for English Freemasonry.” (Baigent/Leigh).
In the Constitutions, Anderson presented a dramatically revised version of Masonry’s most sacred ritual, The Laying of the Cornerstone, inserting into it the sequence: corn, wine, and oil. These three words, in this sequence, are a map that leads to the code. The Cornerstone ceremony and its symbolism will be analyzed in detail in the next chapter.
Baigent and Leigh then continue:
“Anderson, a minister of the Scots Church in St. James and chaplain to the staunchly pro-Hanoverian Earl of Buchan, was a member of the immensely influential Horn Lodge, which included such pillars of the establishment as the Duke of Queensborough, the Duke of Richmond, Lord Paisley and, by 1725, Newton’s associate, John Desaguliers. Such credentials and connections effectively placed Anderson above suspicion.”
Tellingly, Masonic records indicate that there was a time when Desaguliers and Anderson were both suspected of being spies – outsiders who joined the Craft for the sole purpose of learning its deepest secrets. It was only because of their close relationship to more powerful interests, particularly to Isaac Newton, that this suspicion gradually subsided.
Sept. 29, 1721:
“His Grace’s Worship [Duke of Montague, Grand Master] and the [Grand] Lodge having Faith with all the Copies of the old Gothic Constitutions ordered Brother John Anderson, A.M.; to digest the same in a new and better method.”
Dec. 27, 1721:
“Duke appointed 14 learned [in Masonic ritual and customs] Brothers to examine Brother Anderson’s Manuscript, and to make report.”
March 25, 1722:
“The Committee of 14 reported that they had perused Brother Anderson’s Manuscript . . . and after some Amendments had approved of it; upon which the Lodge desired the Grand Master to order it to be printed.” Dr. Desaguliers wrote the preface, George Payne drafted the Regulations.”
“In 1723 the principles of Masonry were published by Anderson in his Constitutions; but though Anderson had been instructed by Grand Lodge to write the Constitutions, and his draft was discussed and amended by a committee of fourteen of the leading members of Grand Lodge, including Desaguliers, it is unlikely that Anderson was personally responsible for the principles of Freemasonry laid down in his Constitutions.” Ridley.
If not Anderson, then what Englishman was “responsible” for reforming Scottish Freemasonry? 17th century philosopher/scientist Johann Bernoulli, after receiving an anonymous memo from someone who had solved a famous mathematical challenge he had issued in 1696, wrote: “We recognize the lion by his claw.” The “lion,” in this case, was Isaac Newton, who in less than a day managed to solve a problem that for years had baffled the best mathematicians in the world! To finish this analogy, though Newton is never mentioned by name, historical evidence shows his unmistakable “claw marks” all over the founding of London Grand Lodge Freemasonry.
Newton and the Church of England
The Church of England in the early 18th century enthusiastically embraced Newtonian science. It described a universe that, like a clock, follows set laws and principles. This correlated well with the prevalent theological opinion that the God of the Bible is a God who believes in the rule of law. The Church of England gave Newton, an ordained minister, full credit for the discovery of a mechanistic universe, and then used it to justify and enforce its own strict set of ecclesiastical laws and dogma.
But Newton had a serious problem with the Church. He vehemently disagreed with its teachings on a broad range of fundamental doctrines. I am convinced that it was the Bible code Newton discovered that convinced him that much of what the Church taught couldn’t possibly be true. The core issue was the doctrine of the Trinity. Historical records are clear that the all-male Father/Son/Holy Spirit model of the Trinity did not become a part of Church teaching until the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., when Roman Emperor Constantine forced it on church leaders in exchange for his decree that Christianity become the official religion of the crumbling Roman Empire.
Newton was not alone in his heterodoxy. He had the silent support of others who were part of the British Enlightenment plus many of the great thinkers and reformers on the European Continent. But as powerful and influential as they were, they knew they were no match for the Church. This left them no choice but to advance their heretical beliefs surreptitiously, under the cover and protection of a secret brotherhood.
It was a time in England and Europe when Catholics and Protestants were locked in mortal combat. Unquestioned obedience to the Church and strict adherence to its teachings was a litmus test of faith and patriotism. To keep from getting himself embroiled in controversy, Newton had no choice but to superficially embrace Anglican orthodoxy and keep his knowledge of the code a secret. As he approached the end of his life, his knew his best option for preserving the code for future generations was to invent clues to finding it, and then have those clues embedded in a secular institution dedicated to esoteric speculation. The Masonic Lodge qualified, and, with the help of his assistant, John Theophilus Desaguliers, and members of Mary’s Chapel, the London Grand Lodge system was created for just that purpose.
“Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry and the Royal Society were not just to overlap, but virtually be indistinguishable from one another.” The Temple and the Lodge, Baigent and Leigh.
What separated the London Grand Lodge from older Freemasonry is that it was comprised of intellectuals and aristocrats who were advocates of modern empirical science and philosophical speculation. Many of them were sympathetic to the teachings of Rosicrucianism and held seats on The Royal Society. Equally important, the Grand Lodge existed independent of Church and state. In many respects, London Grand Lodge Freemasonry was Newton’s alter ego. But even within a Masonic system controlled by his trusted followers, Newton had enemies. If they found out about the code, they would have been quick to report him to Church authorities who would have had him investigated and possibly tried as a heretic. Newton, knowing the Brotherhood had been infiltrated, could never openly declare the code to the membership at large. The risk of being found out by the Church was too great.
This problem was resolved by extending the 3rd degree to the 33rd degree. This dramatic expansion of the degree system was designed to separate those who could be trusted to keep a secret from those who couldn’t. Beginning with the third degree, the higher up the ladder you went, and the more you demonstrated an ability to keep a secret, the more that was revealed to you. It was only those who became 33rd degree Masons who were in a position to learn about the code. But even then only a small inner circle of those who had reached that lofty status would be allowed full knowledge of the Craft’s greatest secret.
Church authorities weren’t stupid. As they witnessed the creation of the London Grand Lodge, they certainly had to be suspicious that something of considerable significance was going on. Yet, because so many of the Church’s top clergy, plus leading politicians, aristocrats, and intellectuals were involved in The Royal Society and in Grand Lodge Freemasonry, no one in the Church of England was powerful enough to formally accuse Freemasons of apostasy or to subject the Craft to an inquisition. They knew the masses would equate such appalling acts to the abuses of Roman Catholicism and it would have created a public furor. Consequently, London Grand Lodge Freemasonry was able to survive and thrive in an Enlightenment environment that protected the rights of the individual against state and ecclesiastical tyranny.
Newton took full advantage of these liberties, knowing that as long as he didn’t openly challenge the teachings or authority of the Church, there was little chance he would be prosecuted. He also knew that in the post-Renaissance period, many intellectuals and aristocrats were quietly questioning Church traditions and teachings, and open to the possibility that they were living in an age when ancient mysteries and hidden truths from pre-Christian and early Christian eras were coming to light.
Newton was too much a public figure to be an active member of any secret society. It would have drawn unwanted attention to his heterodox beliefs and jeopardized his standing with the king, who had appointed him Master of the Royal Mint, a plum position that afforded Newton lifetime financial security. Instead, Newton designated his assistant, John Theophilus Desaguliers as his point man in the founding of London Grand Lodge Freemasonry.
Thus was born a new organization with new rituals that had the effect of creating additional layers of complexity for which Freemasonry is so justifiably famous. The resultant maze of abstruse symbol and imagery, representing a mingling of the old and the new, was, and still is, so complex as to be mind-boggling. It was the perfect place to hide the clues that lead to the code.
In a final postmortem, Ridley writes:
“By 1750, the men who had founded Grand Lodge had died. Anderson died in 1739 and Desaguliers in 1743.”
Unfortunately, Ridley says nothing about the death of the real founder of London Grand Lodge Freemasonry, Isaac Newton, born on Christmas Day, 1642, and who passed away on March 20, 1727, after which his body was interred in Westminster Abbey.
The Laying of the Cornerstone
Going back centuries, even before the time of Newton, any large and significant construction project the Masons embarked upon was typically preceded by a ceremony associated with the setting of the building’s first stone, its cornerstone. Usually a large solid block of granite, the cornerstone was a symbol of strength and endurance, treasured qualities that Masons believed characterized both the Brotherhood and the project under construction.
We have on record an account of two original cornerstone ceremonies, one in England and one in Scotland. The first occurred before the Laying of the Cornerstone ritual was rewritten by the London Grand Lodge. The second appears to have been conducted by Masons who chose to remain unaffiliated with the Grand Lodge who kept the old rituals.
The English Ceremony
James Anderson, in his Constitutions, reported a simple ceremony conducted on March 19, 1721:
“The Bishop of Salisbury went in an orderly procession, duly attended, and having leveled the first stone, gave it two or three knocks with a mallet, upon which the trumpet sounded, and a vast multitude made loud acclamations of joy, when his Lordship laid upon the Stone a Purse of 100 Guineas, as a present from his Majesty for the use of the craftsmen.”
The Scottish Ceremony
The occasion was the Laying of the Foundation Stone of the New Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh by the Earl of Cromarchy, Grand Master of Scottish Masons, on Aug. 2, 1738. The description of this event, written in 1804 by Alexander Lawrie in his History of Free Masonry, describes a simple, almost primitive ceremony:
“When the company came to the ground, the Grand Master, and his brethren of the free and accepted Masons, surrounding the plain of the foundation hand in hand; and the Grand Master-Mason, along with the press [representatives] of the Managers of the Royal Infirmary, having come to the east corner of the foundation where the stone was to be laid, placed the same in its bed; and after the Right Honorable and the Lord Provost had laid a medal under it each in their turns, gave three strokes upon the stone with an iron mallet, which was succeeded by three clarions of the trumpet, three huzzas, and three claps of the hands.” From the website: Masonicworld.com.
The London Grand Lodge Ceremony
Let’s now compare these two older rituals with the rewritten London Grand Lodge Laying of the Cornerstone ceremony as recorded in the Illustrations of Masonry written by William Preston in 1772. Preston immigrated to England from Scotland and became a member of London Grand Lodge. He would have had access to James Anderson’s second edition of the Constitutions which featured several significant revisions. Following is the London Grand Lodge ritual:
"The Worshipful Master then said,
'May corn, wine, and oil, and all the necessities of life abound among men throughout the world, and may the blessings of the Supreme Architect be upon their undertaking.'
"The Worshipful Master then received from the Junior Warden the cornucopia containing corn and dropped the corn upon the cornerstone saying:
'May the health of the workmen employed in this undertaking be preserved to them, and may the Supreme Architect bless and prosper their labors.’
"The Junior Warden then took the wine from the table and presents it to the Senior Warden, who pours it on the cornerstone saying:
‘May plenty be showered down upon all people of earth, and may the blessings of the bounteous giver of all things attend their philanthropic undertakings.’
"The Junior Warden then took the oil from the table and poured it upon the cornerstone saying:
‘May the Supreme Ruler of the world preserve all people in peace, and vouchsafe to them the enjoyment of every blessing.’
"The Worshipful Master then said:
‘May corn, wine, and oil and all the necessities of life abound among men throughout the world, and may the blessings of the Supreme Architect be upon this undertaking."
As you can see, the London Grand Lodge version of the Laying of the Cornerstone ceremony is radically different from both of the older rituals. The key distinction is the replacement of ancient recitations and actions with the dedication of corn, wine and oil. Another distinction is that the older ceremonies were loud and raucous, conducted by men with bulging muscles and calloused hands. In contrast, the Grand Lodge ceremony was somber, even quasi-religious, led by high-brow men wearing powdered wigs and dainty apparel. It should come as no surprise that many lodges dominated by operative Masons rejected the new version, choosing instead to break away from the London Grand Lodge and retain their old rituals.
So, where are we? Historians know that Isaac Newton spent a great deal of time looking for a Bible code, and assume that he never found what he was looking for because nothing of the sort was ever published. Neither has it been found in any of his surviving unpublished writings. But the recent discovery of a grain, wine, and oil sequence code in the Old Testament, confirmed by the Center for Inquiry, suggests that it can be traced back to Isaac Newton and the Masonic Lodge.
More studies are needed before it can be asserted with any measure of confidence that the Sagan Signal was first discovered by Isaac Newton. I encourage science historians to follow up on these promising leads and see if it’s as fertile and productive an area of research as I project.