A History and explanation of
The Order of the Secret Monitor
The Order of David and Jonathan
The Order of the Secret Monitor in Australia owes its origins to the Order in England, it’s development, constitutions and practices are actually based on those existing at that time in the Order in Britain. The Order has a significant place in the evolution of Freemasonry, having become the speculative, moral and ethical Institution it is today.
In most cases the establishment and structure of freemasonry emerged from a background of many decades of political and religious strife during which forceful and endless attempts were made to control men’s behaviour and to determine men’s thinking, their beliefs and their individual opinions. In these circumstances, there was no freedom of speech, no freedom of conscience and no escape for the majority from the evils of ignorance. Therefore, in man’s attempt to break these shackles and exhibit his own individual independence was the genesis of our Order.
Man sought in the spirit of the age to satisfy his urge to belong to a group whose members shared similar ideas. The fact that so many Orders have survived and flourished may be attributed to man’s inherent desire to associate with his fellows, to live in communities and to satisfy his feeling of belonging. Thus we have the family, the community and the society.
The Order is thus a progression from the craft masonry that had become firmly established and practiced at the time. The history of our Order like the history of freemasonry generally has vague beginnings, but its development and progress are clear and well authenticated by existing records.
What then are the origins of the Order of the Secret Monitor?
A generally held view is that the Order came to England from the USA. However, there is sufficient evidence to support the view that the Order of David and Jonathan arose in Holland at least two centuries earlier than its establishment in England in 1887.
The friendship of David and Jonathan has been assumed to have formed the basis of a Brotherhood with modes of recognition by day and by night in the Netherlands about 1571 – 81 when several Provinces were declaring their independence from the Spanish Rule. It is also maintained that these modes of recognition were revived a century later in France as a means of bringing together patriots and Protestants who wished to resist the foreign religious invaders.
To escape religious intolerance, many Dutch Protestants emigrated to America. There they found a new life with greater liberty. It is quite understandable that they would have taken their freemasonry with them. Consequently, this would have created a resurgence of the Order of David and Jonathan in their new homeland of America. These early developments in America were not straight forward and permanent. It appears that in the early 19th Century, wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of members of the Order could join as “Heroines of Jericho”.
There are rituals of the “Order of Brotherly Love”, “Order of Jonathan and David”, “Order of the Secret Monitor”, being worked in the mid 19th Century. The Dutch migrants, working from memory, would naturally have made changes to the original Dutch Rite. Records in the 1830’s in America mention the Secret Monitor being bracketed with the Knights of Constantinople as two Orders of Masonry.
Some historical references are relevant and of great interest:
* On page 16 of a publication, “The medals of the Masonic Fraternity”, published in 1880 in Boston there is an illustration of a medal struck in 1774 for a Lodge in Brunswick: Jonathan of the Pillar – showing David and Jonathan embracing near the stone.
* In the Bibliography of Freemason Literature published n French there appears what purports to be a summary of the laws and constitutions of the Order of Jonathan.
* Also, a Bibliography of the Freemasons published in Leipzig in 1884 refers to the Constitution of the newly-formed most praiseworthy Order of Jonathan or Society of Perfect and True Friendship, 1764. In the same publication reference is also made to the General Statutes and Structure of the Order of David and Jonathan in Amsterdam in 1773. This contained the Rules, Statutes, Constitution and Ceremonials of the Order of Jonathan and David and Jesus Christ. Also, it shows that the Master of Lodge Concordia Vincit Animos in Amsterdam introduced this Order into his Lodge in 1788. There were seven Degrees:
1. Squire or Friend of the Order
2. Knight or Nephew
3. Commander or Brother
4. Grand Commander of Jonathan and David and Knight of the Order of Jesus Christ.
5. Commander of the Order of Jesus Christ
6. Grand Knight
7. Grand Commander
It can easily be assumed that the first three or four Degrees of this Order could be ancestral forms of the modern Order of the Secret Monitor ritual.
As the Order grew in America it became absorbed as one of the Degrees of the “Allied Degrees”. Here the basic requirement was that the Candidate must be an Ark Mariner. The principal officers working the Degree were the Supreme Ruler and Senior and Junior Rulers. There were, in addition a Guide, a Guardian and a Sentinel. When the “Allied Degrees” came to England in the 1870’s it contained the simple degree of a “Secret Monitor”. Membership eligibility was modified to a Master Mason in Good standing. The Grand Council of the Order of the Secret Monitor in England came into being in 1887. The Grand Council of the Allied Degrees by mutual agreement in July 1931 with the Grand Council of the Secret Monitor agreed not to work the Secret Monitor Degree in the future.
The growth of the Order of the Secret Monitor in Britain was accompanied by a similar growth in its overseas Colonies and Dependencies. Victoria was the first Australian State to establish a Conclave – Southern Cross Conclave No. 27. This Conclave was consecrated in London on 6 January, 1896 and was to meet in Geelong, Victoria.
By 1924, James LAURENSON, a member of the Order, had moved to Ipswich from New Zealand and was keen to establish a Conclave in Queensland. He applied to London for a warrant and was asked to see if the warrant of the dormant Southern Cross Conclave in Victoria could be transferred to Queensland.
This idea met strong opposition in Victoria and the response was so decisive that the Southern Cross Conclave was resurrected on 21 November 1924 in Geelong.
However, the second Conclave to be consecrated in Australia was Friendship Conclave, No.56, in Ipswich in 1926 with James Simon LAURENSON being the foundation Supreme Ruler.
From this time on progress of the Order in Australia was accelerated and in 1930 a District – Southern District – was formed. In 1938, the Southern District was divided into two Districts – Northern and Southern. Our present Grand Conclave became autonomous and was inaugurated on 31 May 1969.
Why the Order of David and Jonathan? Who, in fact, were David and Jonathan?
The story of David and Jonathan is told in the Old Testament Book of Samuel. Despite the inconsistencies in the Biblical account – Books 1 & 2 were apparently by different authors at different times – there is no doubt that David entered the service of the King Saul, that he became a member of the family by marrying one of the King’s daughters and that David and Jonathan became firm friends. Jonathan was one of Saul’s sons.
David first met Saul when he was sent to play his harp before him and this helped to cure Saul when he was in one of his black moods. David became famous by killing the Philistine giant, Goliath, with a stone from his slingshot. Jonathan first met David when he was brought before Saul after the slaying of Goliath and their friendship started from that moment. Jonathan appears to have been very popular with the people generally and with the army on account of his successful campaigns against the Philistines and no doubt would have been acclaimed King on the death of Saul. The friendship of David and Jonathan is all the more remarkable when the conditions of the time are considered.
King Saul was at first a good King who did much to consolidate his kingdom. After a while he became tyrannical and inflicted much hardship upon his people. He often suffered from fits of madness, the attacks becoming more frequent as he gave way to jealousy, and it became apparent he had lost his power to rule.
The people cried out against the injustices and the reigning Judge, Samuel, on instruction from the Lord chose David as the candidate for kingship, and secretly anointed him on instructions from the Lord. The use of oil for anointing is of Biblical origins.
David had been given great responsibility by King Saul and had distinguished himself as a soldier and a leader of men. David’s battle successes had made him very popular throughout the land but had also served to fan Saul’s jealousy and increased his desire to have him killed. David was unwilling to believe this of Saul but was finally persuaded by Jonathan to leave court for three days. The bow and arrow incident determined David’s future course of action and he sadly departed from the King’s sphere of influence.
Saul, finding out that David was his anointed successor, could not accept this and became more determined to kill David, Saul, with his army, relentlessly pursued David and his faithful band of followers.
Some time later David and Saul were reconciled but it is not known how long this lasted. Some time after this, Jonathan and two of his brothers were killed in battle and, in despair, Saul sadly committed suicide.
David was accepted as King of the people of Judah. However, in the North, Saul’s eldest son, Ishboseth, was declared King of Israel. David finally conquered the whole country and reigned over Judah for seven years and over the whole country for thirty-three years. Jerusalem was made the capital. His son, Solomon, succeeded David as King.
This, then, is the background and the basis for the origin and development of the Order of the Secret Monitor. The Order seeks to extend the brotherhood of the worthy Master Mason to the higher realm of friendship – a friendship established by David and Jonathan.
As we now have it, the philosophy of our Order and its ethical and moral basis are abundantly clear and can not end themselves to misrepresentation. Despite all its developments and refinement throughout the world, the Order of the Secret Monitor has never departed from the Biblical story of David and Jonathan as its foundation
(Supplied by Most Worthy Brother Ian Wylde P G S R from various sources.)