Masons hear much about rough and perfect ashlars. We know what use was made of rough and perfect ashlars in the old operative days; but in Speculative Masonry we often refer to our lodge Brothers figuratively as rough and perfect ashlars, although we never had anyone who would fully qualify for the latter description.
A rough ashlar is not a physically faulty stone. In Freemasonry it is as substantial as the perfect ashlar, necessarily so, for from it the perfect ashlar is fashioned. Used as a part of a structure, it owes no apology to the perfectly shaped and sometimes polished stone. In structures of stone there may be more rough ashlars than finished stones, just as in Speculative Freemasonry there are a lesser number of informed Brethren who are qualified to give freely of wisdom to the many eager to learn.
We can have in our membership few, if any, approaching the perfection of a perfect ashlar. We are fortunate to have so many to whom we may fondly refer as faithful rough ashlars who are the support of the lodges.
An excerpt from “3-5-7 minute talks on Freemasonry” by WB Elbert Bede, Editor emeritus of The Oregon Freemason.