The Principles Of Masonic Law
last Section of Book First and the entire Book Second of Bro.A.G.Mackey's The
Principles of Masonic Law are poster hereunder]
Principles Of Masonic Law
(Ch-5) and Book-2
Bro.Albert Gallatin Mackey
Section IV.--Of the Executive Power of a Grand Lodge.
The English Constitutions conclude, in
the passage that has formed the basis of our previous remarks, by
asserting that "in the
Grand Lodge, alone, resides the power of erasing lodges and expelling
Brethren from the craft, a power which it ought not to delegate to any
subordinate authority." The power of the Grand Lodge to erase lodges
is accompanied with a coincident power of constituting new lodges. This
power it originally shared with the Grand Master and still does in
England; but in this country the power of the Grand Lodge is paramount to
that of the Grand Master. The latter can only constitute lodges
temporarily, by dispensation and his act must be confirmed, or may be
annulled by the Grand Lodge. It is not until a lodge has received its
Warrant of Constitution from the Grand Lodge, that it can assume the rank
and exercise the prerogatives of a regular and legal lodge.
The expelling power is one that is very
properly intrusted to the Grand Lodge, which is the only tribunal that
should impose a penalty affecting the relations of the punished party with
the whole fraternity. Some of the lodges in this country have claimed the
right to expel independently of the action of the Grand Lodge. But the
claim is founded on an erroneous assumption of powers that have never
existed and which are not recognized by the ancient constitutions, nor the
general usages of the fraternity. A subordinate lodge tries its delinquent
member, under the provisions, which have already been stated and,
according to the general usage of lodges in the United States, declares
him expelled. But the sentence is of no force nor effect until it has been
confirmed by the Grand Lodge, which may, or may not, give the required
confirmation and which, indeed, often refuses to do so, but actually
reverses the sentence. It is apparent, from the views already expressed
on the judicial powers of the Grand Lodge, that the sentence of expulsion
uttered by the subordinate is to be taken in the sense of a recommendatory
report and that it is the confirmation and adoption of that report by the
Grand Lodge that alone gives it vitality and effect.
The expelling power presumes, of
course, coincidently, the reinstating power. As the Grand Lodge alone can
expel, it also alone can reinstate.
These constitute the general powers and
prerogatives of a Grand Lodge. Of course there are other local powers,
assumed by various Grand Lodges and differing in the several
jurisdictions, but they are all derived from some one of the three classes
that we have enumerated. From these views, it will appear that a Grand
Lodge is the supreme legislative, judicial and executive authority of the
Masonic jurisdiction in which it is situated. It is, to use a feudal term,
"the lord paramount" in Masonry. It is a representative body, in
which, however, it constituents have delegated everything and reserved no
rights to themselves. Its authority is almost unlimited, for it is
restrained by but a single check:—It cannot alter or remove the ancient
of Subordinate Lodges.
I. Of the Nature and Organization of Subordinate Lodges.
II. Of Lodges under Dispensation.
III. Of Lodges Working under a Warrant of Constitution.
IV. Of the Officers of a Subordinate Lodge.
I. Of The Officers in General.
II Of the Worshipful Master.
III. Of The Wardens.
IV. Of the Treasurer.
V. Of the Secretary.
VI. Of the Deacons.
VII. Of the Stewards.
VIII. Of the Tiler.
V. Of Rules of Order
I. Of the Order of Business.
II. Of Appeals from the decision of the Chair.
III. Of the Mode of Taking the Question.
IV. Of Adjournments.
V. Of the Appointment of Committees.
VI. Of the Mode of Keeping the Minutes
Having thus succinctly
treated of the law in relation to Grand Lodges, I come next in order to consider
the law as it respects the organization, rights, powers and privileges of
subordinate Lodges, and the first question that will engage our attention will
be, as to the proper method of organizing a Lodge.
the Nature and Organization of Subordinate Lodges.
The old charges define a Lodge to be "a place where
Masons assemble and work," and also "that assembly, or duly organized
society of Masons." The lecture on the first degree gives a still more
precise definition. It says that "a lodge is an assemblage of Masons, duly
congregated, having the Holy Bible, square and compasses and a charter, or
warrant of constitution, empowering them to work."
Every lodge of Masons
requires for its proper organization, that it should have been congregated by
the permission of some superior authority, which may be either a Grand Master or
a Grand Lodge. When a lodge is organized by the authority of a Grand Master, it
is said to work under a Dispensation and when by the authority of a Grand Lodge,
it is said to work under a warrant of constitution. In the history of a lodge,
the former authority generally precedes the latter, the lodge usually working
for some time under the dispensation of the Grand Master, before it is regularly
warranted by the Grand Lodge. But this is not necessarily the case. A Grand
Lodge will sometimes grant a warrant of constitution at once, without the
previous exercise, on the part of the Grand Master, of his dispensing power. As
it is, however, more usually the practice for the dispensation to precede the
warrant of constitution, I shall explain the formation of a lodge according to
Any number of Master Masons,
not under seven, being desirous of uniting themselves into a lodge, apply by
petition to the Grand Master for the necessary authority. This petition must set
forth that they now are, or have been, members of a regularly constituted lodge
and must assign, as a reason for their application, that they desire to form the
lodge "for the conveniency of their respective dwellings," or some
other sufficient reason. The petition must also name the brethren whom they
desire to act as their Master and Wardens and the place where they intend to
meet, and it must be recommended by the nearest lodge.
Dalcho says that not less
than three Master Masons should sign the petition, but in this he differs from
all the other authorities, which require not less than seven. This rule, too,
seems to be founded in reason, for, as it requires seven Masons to constitute a
quorum for opening and holding a lodge of Entered Apprentices, it would be
absurd to authorize a smaller number to organize a lodge which, after its
organization, could not be opened, nor make Masons in that degree.
Preston says that the
petition must be recommended "by the Masters of three regular lodges
adjacent to the place where the new lodge is to be held." Dalcho says it
must be recommended "by three other known and approved Master Masons,"
but does not make any allusion to any adjacent lodge. The laws and regulations
of the Grand Lodge of Scotland require the recommendation to be signed "by
the Masters and officers of two of the nearest lodges." The Constitutions
of the Grand Lodge of England require that it must be recommended "by the
officers of some regular lodge." The recommendation of a neighboring lodge
is the general usage of the craft and is intended to certify to the superior
authority, on the very best evidence that can be obtained, that, namely, of an
adjacent lodge, that the new lodge will be productive of no injury to the Order.
If this petition be granted,
the Grand Secretary prepares a document called a dispensation, which authorizes
the officers named in the petition to open and hold a lodge and to "enter,
pass and raise Freemasons." The duration of this dispensation is generally
expressed on its face to be, "until it shall be revoked by the Grand Master
or the Grand Lodge, or until a warrant of constitution is granted by the Grand
Lodge." Preston says, that the Brethren named in it are authorized "to
assemble as Masons for forty days and until such time as a warrant of
constitution can be obtained by command of the Grand Lodge, or that authority be
recalled." But generally, usage continues the dispensation only until the
next meeting of the Grand Lodge, when it is either revoked, or a warrant of
If the dispensation be
revoked by either the Grand Master or the Grand Lodge (for either has the power
to do so), the lodge of course at once ceases to exist. Whatever funds or
property it has accumulated revert, as in the case of all extinct lodges, to the
Grand Lodge, which may be called the natural heir of its subordinates, but all
the work done in the lodge, under the dispensation, is regular and legal and all
the Masons made by it are, in every sense of the term, "true and lawful
Let it be supposed, however,
that the dispensation is confirmed or approved by the Grand Lodge and we thus
arrive at another step in the history of the new lodge. At the next sitting of
the Grand Lodge, after the dispensation has been issued by the Grand Master, he
states that fact to the Grand Lodge, when, either at his request, or on motion
of some Brother, the vote is taken on the question of constituting the new lodge
and, if a majority are in favor of it, the Grand Secretary is ordered to grant a
warrant of constitution.
This instrument differs from
a dispensation in many important particulars. It is signed by all the Grand
Officers and emanates from the Grand Lodge, while the dispensation emanates from
the office of the Grand Master and is signed by him alone. The authority of the
dispensation is temporary, that of the warrant permanent, the one can be revoked
at pleasure by the Grand Master, who granted it, the other only for cause shown
and by the Grand Lodge, the one bestows only a name, the other both a name and a
number, the one confers only the power of holding a lodge and making Masons, the
other not only confers these powers, but also those of installation and of
succession in office. From these differences in the characters of the two
documents, arise important differences in the powers and privileges of a lodge
under dispensation and of one that has been regularly constituted. These
differences shall hereafter be considered.
The warrant having been
granted, there still remain certain forms and ceremonies to be observed, before
the lodge can take its place among the legal and registered lodges of the
jurisdiction in which it is situated. These are its consecration, its
dedication, its constitution and the installation of its officers. We shall not
fully enter into a description of these various ceremonies, because they are
laid down at length in all the Monitors and are readily accessible to our
readers. It will be sufficient if we barely allude to their character.
The ceremony of
constitution is so called, because by it the lodge becomes constituted or
established. Orthopedists define the verb to constitute, as signifying "to
give a formal existence to anything." Hence, to constitute a lodge is to
give it existence, character and standing as such, and the instrument that
warrants the person so constituting or establishing it, in this act, is very
properly called the "warrant of constitution."
The consecration, dedication and
constitution of a lodge must be performed by the Grand Master in person, or, if
he cannot conveniently attend, by some Past Master appointed by him as his
special proxy or representative for that purpose. On the appointed evening, the
Grand Master, accompanied by his Grand Officers, repairs to the place where the
new lodge is to hold its meetings, the lodge having been placed in the
centre of the room and decently covered with a piece of white linen or satin. [This
is a small chest or coffer, representing the ark of the covenant and containing
the three great lights of Masonry.] Having taken the chair, he
examines the records of the lodge and the warrant of constitution, the officers
who have been chosen are presented before him, when he inquires of the Brethren
if they continue satisfied with the choice they have made. The ceremony of
consecration is then performed. The Lodge is
uncovered, and corn, wine and oil—the Masonic elements of consecration—are
poured upon it, accompanied by appropriate prayers and invocations and the lodge
is finally declared to be consecrated to the honor and glory of God.
This ceremony of consecration
has been handed down from the remotest antiquity. A consecrating—a
separating from profane things and making holy or devoting to sacred
purposes—was practiced by both the Jews and the Pagans in relation to their
temples, their altars and all their sacred utensils. The tabernacle, as soon as
it was completed, was consecrated to God by the unction of oil. Among the
Pagan nations, the consecration of their temples was often performed with the
most sumptuous offerings and ceremonies, but oil was, on all occasions, made
use of as an element of the consecration. The lodge is, therefore,
consecrated to denote that henceforth it is to be set apart as an asylum sacred
to the cultivation of the great Masonic principles of Friendship, Morality and
Brotherly Love. Thenceforth it becomes to the conscientious Mason a place
worthy of his reverence, and he is tempted, as he passes over its threshold, to
repeat the command given to Moses: "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet,
for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground."
The corn, wine and oil are
appropriately adopted as the Masonic elements of consecration, because of the
symbolic signification which they present to the mind of the Mason. They are
enumerated by David as among the greatest blessings which we receive from the
bounty of Divine Providence. They were annually offered by the ancients as the
first fruits, in a thank-offering for the gifts of the earth, and as
representatives of "the corn of nourishment, the wine of refreshment and
the oil of joy," they symbolically instruct the
Mason that to the Grand Master of the Universe he is indebted for the
"health, peace and plenty" that he enjoys.
After the consecration of the
lodge, follows its dedication. This is a simple ceremony and principally
consists in the pronunciation of a formula of words by which the lodge is
declared to be dedicated to the holy Saints John, followed by an invocation that
"every Brother may revere their character and imitate their virtues."
Masonic tradition tells us
that our ancient Brethren dedicated their lodges to King Solomon, because he was
their first Most Excellent Grand Master, but that modern Masons dedicate theirs
to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, because they were two
eminent patrons of Masonry. A more
appropriate selection of patrons to whom to dedicate the lodge, could not easily
have been made, since St. John the Baptist, by announcing the approach of Christ
and by the mystical ablution to which he subjected his proselytes and which was
afterwards adopted in the ceremony of initiation into Christianity, might well
be considered as the Grand Hierophant of the Church, while the mysterious and
emblematic nature of the Apocalypse assimilated the mode of teaching adopted by
St. John the Evangelist to that practiced by the fraternity. Our Jewish
Brethren usually dedicate their lodges to King Solomon, thus retaining their
ancient patron, although they thereby lose the benefit of that portion of the
Lectures which refers to the "lines parallel." The Grand Lodge of
England, at the union in 1813, agreed to dedicate to Solomon and Moses, applying
the parallels to the framer of the tabernacle and the builder of the temple, but
they have no warranty for this in ancient usage and it is unfortunately not the
only innovation on the ancient landmarks that that Grand Lodge has lately
The ceremony of dedication, like
that of consecration, finds its archetype in the remotest antiquity. The Hebrews
made no use of any new thing until they had first solemnly dedicated it. This
ceremony was performed in relation even to private houses, as we may learn from
the book of Deuteronomy. ["What man is
there that hath a new house and hath not dedicated it? Let him go and return to
his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it." Deut. xx.
5.] The 30th Psalm is a song said to have been made by David on the
dedication of the altar which he erected on the threshing-floor of Ornan the
Jebusite, after the grievous plague which had nearly devastated the kingdom.
Solomon, it will be recollected, dedicated the temple with solemn ceremonies,
prayers and thank-offerings. The ceremony of dedication is, indeed, alluded to
in various portions of the Scriptures.
Selden says that among the Jews
sacred things were both dedicated and consecrated, but that profane things, such
as private houses, etc., were simply dedicated, without consecration. The same
writer informs us that the Pagans borrowed the custom of consecrating and
dedicating their sacred edifices, altars and images, from the Hebrews.
[De Syned. Vet. Ebrćor., 1. iii., c. xiv., § 1.]
The Lodge having been thus
consecrated to the solemn objects of Freemasonry and dedicated to the patrons of
the institution, it is at length prepared to be constituted. The ceremony of
constitution is then performed by the Grand Master, who, rising from his seat,
pronounces the following formulary of constitution, “ In the name of the most
Worshipful Grand Lodge, I now constitute and form you, my beloved Brethren, into
a regular lodge of Free and Accepted Masons. From this time forth, I empower you
to meet as a regular lodge, constituted in conformity to the rites of our Order
and the charges of our ancient and honorable fraternity and may the Supreme
Architect of the Universe prosper, direct and counsel you, in all your
This ceremony places the
lodge among the registered lodges of the jurisdiction in which it is situated
and gives it a rank and standing and permanent existence that it did not have
before. In one word, it has, by the consecration, dedication and
constitution, become what we technically term "a just and legally
constituted lodge," and, as such, is entitled to certain rights and
privileges, of which we shall hereafter speak. Still, however, although the
lodge has been thus fully and completely organized, its officers have as yet no
legal existence. To give them this, it is necessary that they be inducted into
their respective offices and each officer solemnly bound to the faithful
performance of the duties he has undertaken to discharge. This constitutes
the ceremony of installation. The Worshipful Master of the new lodge is required
publicly to submit to the ancient charges, and then all, except Past Masters,
having retired, he is invested with the Past Master's degree and inducted into
the oriental chair of King Solomon. The Brethren are then introduced and due
homage is paid to their new Master, after which the other officers are obligated
to the faithful discharge of their respective trusts, invested with their
insignia of office and receive the appropriate charge. This ceremony must be
repeated at every annual election and change of officers.
The ancient rule was, that
when the Grand Master and his officers attended to constitute a new lodge, the
Deputy Grand Master invested the new Master, the Grand Wardens invested the new
Wardens and the Grand Treasurer and Grand Secretary invested the Treasurer and
Secretary. But this regulation has become obsolete and the whole installation
and investiture are now performed by the Grand Master. On the occasion of
subsequent installations, the retiring Master installs his successor, and the
latter installs his subordinate officers.
ceremony of installation is derived from the ancient custom of inauguration, of
which we find repeated instances in the sacred as well as profane writings.
Aaron was inaugurated, or installed, by the unction of oil and placing on him
the vestments of the High Priest, and every succeeding High Priest was in like
manner installed, before he was considered competent to discharge the duties of
his office. Among the Romans, augurs,
priests, kings and, in the times of the republic, consuls were always
inaugurated or installed. And hence, Cicero, who was an augur, speaking of
Hortensius, says, "it was he who installed me as a member of the college of
augurs, so that I was bound by the constitution of the order to respect and
honour him as a parent." [Cicero,
The object and
intention of the ancient inauguration and the Masonic installation are precisely
the same, namely, that of setting apart and consecrating a person to the duties
of a certain office.
The ceremonies, thus briefly
described, were not always necessary to legalize a congregation of Masons. Until
the year 1717, the custom of confining the privileges of Masonry, by a warrant
of constitution, to certain individuals, was wholly unknown. Previous to that
time, a requisite number of Master Masons were authorized by the ancient charges
to congregate together, temporarily, at their own discretion and as best suited
their convenience and then and there to open and hold lodges and make Masons,
making, however, their return and paying their tribute to the General Assembly,
to which all the fraternity annually repaired and by whose awards the craft were
Preston, speaking of this ancient privilege, says:
"A sufficient number of Masons met together within a certain district, with
the consent of the sheriff or chief magistrate of the place, were empowered at
this time to make Masons and practice the rights of Masonry, without a warrant
of constitution." This privilege, Preston says, was inherent in them as
individuals and continued to be enjoyed by the old lodges, which formed the
Grand Lodge in 1717, as long as they were in existence.
But on the 24th June, 1717,
the Grand Lodge of England adopted the following regulation: "That the
privilege of assembling as Masons, which had hitherto been unlimited, should be
vested in certain lodges or assemblies of Masons, convened in certain places,
and that every lodge to be hereafter convened, except the four old lodges at
this time existing, should be legally authorized to act by a warrant from the
Grand Master for the time being, granted to certain individuals by petition,
with the consent and approbation of the Grand Lodge in communication, and that,
without such warrant, no lodge should be hereafter deemed regular or
This regulation has ever
since continued in force and it is the original law under which warrants of
constitution are now granted by Grand Lodges for the organization of their
Lodges under Dispensation.
It is evident, from what has
already been said, that there are two kinds of lodges, each regular in itself,
but each peculiar and distinct in its character. There are lodges working
under a dispensation and lodges working under a warrant of constitution. Each of
these will require a separate consideration. The former will be the subject of
the present chapter.
A lodge working under a
dispensation is a merely temporary body, originated for a special purpose and is
therefore possessed of very circumscribed powers. The dispensation, or authority
under which it acts, expressly specifies that the persons to whom it is given
are allowed to congregate that they may "admit, enter, pass and raise
Freemasons," no other powers are conferred either by words or implication
and, indeed, sometimes the dispensation states, that that congregation is to be
"with the sole intent and view, that the Brethren so congregated, admitted,
entered and made, when they become a sufficient number, may be duly warranted
and constituted for being and holding a regular lodge." [See
such a form of Dispensation in Cole's Masonic Library, p. 91]
A lodge under dispensation is simply the creature of the
Grand Master. To him it is indebted for its existence and on his will depends
the duration of that existence. He may at any time revoke the dispensation and
the dissolution of the lodge would be the instant result. Hence a lodge working
under a dispensation can scarcely, with strict technical propriety, be called a
lodge, it is, more properly speaking, a congregation of Masons, acting as the
proxy of the Grand Master.
With these views of the
origin and character of lodges under dispensation, we will be better prepared to
understand the nature and extent of the powers, which they possess.
A lodge under dispensation
can make no bye-laws. It is governed, during its temporary existence, by the
general Constitutions of the Order and the rules and regulations of the Grand
Lodge in whose jurisdiction it is situated.
In fact, as the bye-laws of no lodge are operative until they are confirmed
by the Grand Lodge and as a lodge working under a dispensation ceases to exist
as such as soon as the Grand Lodge meets, it is evident that it would be absurd
to frame a code of laws which would have no efficacy, for want of proper
confirmation and which, when the time and opportunity for confirmation had
arrived, would be needless, as the society for which they were framed would then
have no legal existence—a new body (the warranted lodge) having taken its
A lodge under dispensation
cannot elect officers. The Master and Wardens are nominated by the Brethren and,
if this nomination is approved, they are appointed by the Grand Master. In
giving them permission to meet and make Masons, he gave them no power to do
anything else. A dispensation is itself a setting aside of the law and an
exception to a general principle, it must, therefore, be construed literally.
What is not granted in express terms, is not granted at all. And, therefore, as
nothing is said of the election of officers, no such election can be held.
The Master may, however and always does for convenience, appoint a competent
Brother to keep a record of the proceedings, but this is a temporary
appointment, at the pleasure of the Master, whose deputy or assistant he is, for
the Grand Lodge looks only to the Master for the records and the office is not
legally recognized. In like manner, he may depute a trusty Brother to take
charge of the funds and must, of course, from time to time, appoint the deacons
and tiler for the necessary working of the lodge.
As there can be no election,
neither can there be any installation, which, of course, always presumes a
previous election for a determinate period. Besides, the installation of
officers is a part of the ceremony of constitution and therefore not even the
Master and Wardens of a lodge under dispensation are entitled to be thus
solemnly inducted into office.
A lodge under dispensation
can elect no members. The Master and Wardens, who are named in the dispensation,
are, in point of fact, the only persons recognized as constituting the lodge. To
them is granted the privilege, as proxies of the Grand Master, of making Masons,
and for this purpose they are authorized to congregate a sufficient number of
Brethren to assist them in the ceremonies. But neither the Master and Wardens,
nor the Brethren, thus congregated have received any power of electing members.
Nor are the persons made in a lodge under dispensation, to be considered as
members of the lodge, for, as has already been shown, they have none of the
rights and privileges which attach to membership—they can neither make
bye-laws nor elect officers. They, however, become members of the lodge as soon
as it receives its warrant of constitution.
Lodges Working under a Warrant of Constitution.
I. Of the Powers and Rights of a Lodge.
In respect to the powers and
privileges possessed by a lodge working under a warrant of constitution, we may
say, as a general principle, that whatever it does possess is inherent in
it—nothing has been delegated by either the Grand Master or the Grand
Lodge—but that all its rights and powers are derived originally from the
ancient regulations, made before the existence of Grand Lodges and that what it
does not possess, are the powers which were conceded by its predecessors to the
Grand Lodge. This is evident from the history of warrants of constitution, the
authority under which subordinate lodges act. The practice of applying by
petition to the Grand Master or the Grand Lodge, for a warrant to meet as a
regular lodge, commenced in the year 1718. Previous to that time, Freemasons
were empowered by inherent privileges, vested, from time immemorial, in the
whole fraternity, to meet as occasion might require, under the direction of some
able architect, and the proceedings of these meetings, being approved by a
majority of the Brethren convened at another lodge in the same district, were
deemed constitutional. [Preston, Append., n. 4
(U.M.L., vol. iii., pp. 150, 151). But in 1718, a year after the
formation of the Grand Lodge of England, this power of meeting ad
libitum was resigned into the hands of that body and it was then
agreed that no lodges should thereafter meet, unless authorized so to do by a
warrant from the Grand Master and with the consent of the Grand Lodge. But as a
memorial that this abandonment of the ancient right was entirely voluntary, it
was at the same time resolved that this inherent privilege should continue to be
enjoyed by the four old lodges who formed the Grand Lodge. And, still more
effectually to secure the reserved rights of the lodges, it was also solemnly
determined, that while the Grand Lodge possesses the inherent right of making
new regulations for the good of the fraternity, provided that the old landmarks
be carefully preserved, yet that these regulations, to be of force, must be
proposed and agreed to at the third quarterly communication preceding the annual
grand feast and submitted to the perusal of all the Brethren, in writing, even
of the youngest entered apprentice, "the approbation and consent of the
majority of all the Brethren present being absolutely necessary, to make the
same binding and obligatory." [Book of
Constitutions, orig. ed, p., 70 (U.M.L., vol. xv., book 1, p. 70).]
The corollary from all this
is clear. All the rights, powers and privileges, not conceded, by express
enactment of the fraternity, to the Grand Lodge, have been reserved to
themselves. Subordinate lodges are the assemblies of the craft in their primary
capacity and the Grand Lodge is the Supreme Masonic Tribunal, only because it
consists of and is constituted by a representation of these primary assemblies.
And, therefore, as every act of the Grand Lodge is an act of the whole
fraternity thus represented, each new regulation that may be made is not an
assumption of authority on the part of the Grand Lodge, but a new concession on
the part of the subordinate lodges.
This doctrine of the
reserved rights of the lodges is very important and should never be forgotten,
because it affords much aid in the decision of many obscure points of Masonic
jurisprudence. The rule is, that any doubtful power exists and is inherent in
the subordinate lodges, unless there is an express regulation conferring it on
the Grand Lodge. With this preliminary
view, we may proceed to investigate the nature and extent of these reserved
powers of the subordinate lodges.
A lodge has the right of selecting its own
members, with which the Grand Lodge cannot interfere. This is a right that the
lodges have expressly reserved to themselves and the stipulation is inserted in
the "general regulations" in the following words, "No man can be
entered a Brother in any particular lodge, or admitted a member thereof, without
the unanimous consent of all the members of that lodge then present, when the
candidate is proposed and when their consent is formally asked by the Master.
They are to give their consent in their own prudent way, either virtually or in
form, but with unanimity. Nor is this inherent privilege subject to a
dispensation, because the members of a particular lodge are the best judges of
it, and because, if a turbulent member should be imposed upon them, it might
spoil their harmony, or hinder the freedom of their communication, or even break
and disperse the lodge, which ought to be avoided by all true and
Regulations of 1722. A subsequent regulation permitted the election of a
candidate, if there were not more than three black balls against him, provided
the lodge desired such a relaxation of the rule. The lodges of this country,
however, very generally and, as I think, with propriety, require unanimity. The
subject will be hereafter discussed.]
But although a lodge has the
inherent right to require unanimity in the election of a candidate, it is not
necessarily restricted to such a degree of rigor.
A lodge has the right to
elect its own officers. This right is guaranteed to it by the words of the
Warrant of Constitution. Still the right is subject to certain restraining
regulations. The election must be held at the proper time, which, according to
the usage of Masonry, in most parts of the world, is on or immediately before
the festival of St. John the Evangelist. The proper qualifications must be
regarded. A member cannot be elected as Master, unless he has previously served
as a Warden, except in the instance of a new lodge, or other case of emergency. Where
both of the Wardens refuse promotion, where the presiding Master will not permit
himself to be reelected and where there is no Past Master who will consent to
take the office, then and then only, can a member be elected from the floor to
preside over the lodge.
the Constitutions of England, only the Master and Treasurer are elected
officers.[ Every lodge shall
annually elect its Master and Treasurer by ballot. Such Master having been
regularly appointed and having served as Warden of a warranted lodge for one
year. Constitutions of the Ancient Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons,
published by authority of the United Grand Lodge of England, 1847, p. 58
(U.M.L., vol. ix., book 1).]
Wardens and all the other officers are appointed by the Master, who has not,
however, the power of removal after appointment, except by consent of the lodge,[
The Wardens, or officers, of a lodge cannot be removed, unless for a cause which
appears to the lodge to be sufficient; but the Master, if he be dissatisfied
with the conduct of any of his officers, may lay the cause of complaint before
the lodge; and, if it shall appear to the majority of the Brethren present that
the complaint be well founded, he shall have power to displace such officer and
to nominate another. English Constitutions, as above, p. 80 (U.M.L., vol.
ix., book 1).]
but American usage
gives the election of all the officers, except the deacons, stewards and, in
some instances, the tiler, to the lodge.
As a consequence of the right
of election, every lodge has the power of installing its officers, subject to
the same regulations, in relation to time and qualifications, as given in the
case of elections.
Master must be installed by a Past Master, [It
is not necessary that he should be a Past Master of the lodge.]
but after his own installation he has the power to install the rest of the
officers. The ceremony of installation is not a mere vain and idle one, but is
productive of important results. Until the Master and Wardens of a lodge are
installed, they cannot represent the lodge in the Grand Lodge, nor, if it be a
new lodge, can it be recorded and recognized on the register of the Grand Lodge.
No officer can permanently take possession of the office to which he has been
elected, until he has been duly installed.[ No
master shall assume the Master's chair, until he shall have been regularly
installed, though he may in the interim rule the lodge. English Constitutions
(U.M.L., vol. ix., book 1).]
The rule of the craft is, that the old officer holds on
until his successor is installed and this rule is of universal application to
officers of every grade, from the Tiler of a subordinate lodge, to the Grand
Master of Masons.
lodge that has been duly constituted and its officers installed, is entitled to
be represented in the Grand Lodge and to form, indeed, a constituent part of
that body.[ Every Warranted
Lodge is a constituent part of the Grand Lodge, in which assembly all the power
of the fraternity resides. English Constitutions, p. 70 (U.M.L., vol.
ix., book 1)]
The representatives of a lodge are its Master
and two Wardens.[ We shall not
here discuss the question whether Past Masters are members of the Grand Lodge,
by inherent right, as that subject will be more appropriately investigated when
we come to speak of the Law of Grand Lodges, in a future chapter. They are,
however clearly, not the representatives of their lodge]
This character of representation was established in 1718, when the four
old lodges, which organized the Grand Lodge of England, agreed "to extend
their patronage to every lodge which should hereafter be constituted by the
Grand Lodge, according to the new regulations of the society, and while such
lodges acted in conformity to the ancient constitutions of the Order, to admit
their Masters and Wardens to share with them all the privileges of the Grand
Lodge, excepting precedence of rank." [ Preston, p. 167 (U.M.L., vol. iii., p. 151).]
all Master Masons were permitted to sit in the Grand Lodge, or, as it was then
called, the General Assembly and represent their lodge, and therefore this
restricting the representation to the three superior officers was, in fact, a
concession of the craft. This regulation is still generally observed, but I
regret to see a few Grand Lodges in this country innovating on the usage and
still further confining the representation to the Masters alone.
Master and Wardens are not merely in name the representatives of the lodge, but
are bound, on all questions that come before the Grand Lodge, truly to represent
their lodge and vote according to its instructions. This doctrine is expressly
laid down in the General Regulations, in the following words, "The
majority of every particular lodge, when congregated, not else, shall have the
privilege of giving instructions to their Master and Wardens, before the meeting
of the Grand Chapter, or Quarterly Communication, because the said officers are
their representatives and are supposed to speak the sentiments of their Brethren
at the said Grand Lodge."
Regulations. Of the duty of members, Art. X, (U.M.L., vol. xv., book 1, p. 61).]
Every lodge has the power to frame bye-laws
for its own government, provided they are not contrary to, nor inconsistent
with, the general regulations of the Grand Lodge, nor the landmarks of the
order. [English Constitutions,
p. 59 (U.M.L., vol. ix., book 1).]
But these bye-laws will not be valid, until they are
submitted to and approved by the Grand Lodge. And this is the case, also, with
every subsequent alteration of them, which must in like manner be submitted to
the Grand Lodge for its approval.
A lodge has the right of
suspending or excluding a member from his membership in the lodge, but it has no
power to expel him from the rights and privileges of Masonry, except with the
consent of the Grand Lodge. A subordinate lodge tries its delinquent member and,
if guilty, declares him expelled, but the sentence is of no force until the
Grand Lodge, under whose jurisdiction it is working, has confirmed it. And it is
optional with the Grand Lodge to do so, or, as is frequently done, to reverse
the decision and reinstate the Brother. Some of the lodges in this country claim
the right to expel, independently of the action of the Grand Lodge, but the
claim is not valid. The very fact that an expulsion is a penalty, affecting the
general relations of the punished party with the whole fraternity, proves that
its exercise never could, with propriety, be intrusted to a body so
circumscribed in its authority as a subordinate lodge. Accordingly, the general
practice of the fraternity is opposed to it, and therefore all expulsions are
reported to the Grand Lodge, not merely as matters of information, but that they
may be confirmed by that body. The English Constitutions are explicit on this
subject. "In the Grand Lodge alone," they declare, "resides the
power of erasing lodges and expelling Brethren from the craft, a power which it
ought not to delegate to any subordinate authority in England." They allow,
however, a subordinate lodge to exclude a member from the lodge, in which case
he is furnished with a certificate of the circumstances of his exclusion and
then may join any other lodge that will accept him, after being made acquainted
with the fact of his exclusion and its cause. This usage has not been adopted in
A lodge has a right to levy
such annual contribution for membership as the majority of the Brethren see fit.
This is entirely a matter of contract, with which the Grand Lodge, or the craft
in general, have nothing to do. It is, indeed, a modern usage, unknown to the
fraternity of former times and was instituted for the convenience and support of
the private lodges.
lodge is entitled to select a name for itself, to be, however, approved by the
Grand Lodge.[ English
Constitutions, p. 59 (U.M.L., vol. ix., book 1)]
But the Grand Lodge alone has the power of designating
the number by which the lodge shall be distinguished. By its number alone is
every lodge recognized in the register of the Grand Lodge and according to their
numbers is the precedence of the lodges regulated.
a lodge has certain rights in relation to its Warrant of Constitution. This
instrument having been granted by the Grand Lodge, can be revoked by no other
authority. The Grand Master, therefore, has no power, as he has in the case of a
lodge under dispensation, to withdraw its Warrant, except temporarily, until the
next meeting of the Grand Lodge. Nor is it in the power of even the majority of
the lodge, by any act of their own, to resign the Warrant. For it has been laid
down as a law, that if the majority of the lodge should determine to quit the
lodge, or to resign their warrant, such action would be of no efficacy, because
the Warrant of Constitution and the power of assembling, would remain with the
rest of the members, who adhere to their allegiance. [English
Constitutions, p. 59 (U.M.L., vol. ix., book 1).]
But if all the members withdraw themselves, their
Warrant ceases and becomes extinct. If the conduct of a lodge has been such as
clearly to forfeit its charter, the Grand Lodge alone can decide that question
and pronounce the forfeiture.
Section II. Of
the Duties of a Lodge.
So far in relation to the
rights and privileges of subordinate lodges. But there are certain duties and
obligations equally binding upon these bodies and certain powers, in the
exercise of which they are restricted. These will next engage our attention.
The first great duty, not
only of every lodge, but of every Mason, is to see that the landmarks of the
Order shall never be impaired. The General Regulations of Masonry—to which
every Master, at his installation, is bound to acknowledge his
submission—declare that, "it is not in the power of any
man, or body of men, to make innovations in the body of Masonry." And,
hence, no lodge, without violating all the implied and express obligations into
which it has entered, can, in any manner, alter or amend the work, lectures and
ceremonies of the institution. As its members have received the ritual from
their predecessors, so are they bound to transmit it, unchanged, in the
slightest degree, to their successors. In the Grand Lodge, alone, resides the
power of enacting new regulations, but, even it must be careful that, in every
such regulation, the landmarks are preserved. When, therefore, we hear young and
inexperienced Masters speak of making improvements (as they arrogantly call
them) upon the old lectures or ceremonies, we may be sure that such Masters
either know nothing of the duties they owe to the craft, or are willfully
forgetful of the solemn obligation which they have contracted. Some may suppose
that the ancient ritual of the Order is imperfect and requires amendment. One
may think that the ceremonies are too simple and wish to increase them, another,
that they are too complicated and desire to simplify them, one may be displeased
with the antiquated language, another, with the character of the traditions, a
third, with something else. But, the rule is imperative and absolute, that no
change can or must be made to gratify individual taste. As the Barons of
England, once, with unanimous voice, exclaimed, "Nolumus leges Anglić
mutare!" so do all good Masons respond to every attempt at innovation, "We
are unwilling to alter the customs of Freemasonry."
In relation to the election
of officers, a subordinate lodge is allowed to exercise no discretion. The names
and duties of these officers are prescribed, partly by the landmarks or the
ancient constitutions and partly by the regulations of various Grand Lodges.
While the landmarks are preserved, a Grand Lodge may add to the list of officers
as it pleases, and whatever may be its regulation, the subordinate lodges are
bound to obey it, nor can any such lodge create new offices nor abolish old ones
without the consent of the Grand Lodge.
Lodges are also bound to
elect their officers at a time which is always determined, not by the
subordinate, but by the Grand Lodge. Nor can a lodge anticipate or postpone it
unless by a dispensation from the Grand Master.
No lodge can, at an extra
meeting, alter or amend the proceedings of a regular meeting.
If such were not the rule, an unworthy Master might, by stealth, convoke an
extra meeting of a part of his lodge and, by expunging or altering the
proceedings of the previous regular meeting, or any particular part of them,
annul any measures or resolutions that were not consonant with his peculiar
No lodge can interfere
with the work or business of any other lodge, without its permission. This is an
old regulation, founded on those principles of comity and brotherly love that
should exist among all Masons. It is
declared in the manuscript charges, written in the reign of James II. and in the
possession of the Lodge of Antiquity, at London, that "no Master or Fellow
shall supplant others of their work, that is to say, that, if he hath taken a
work, or else stand Master of any work, that he shall not put him out, unless he
be unable of cunning to make an end of his work." And, hence, no lodge can
pass or raise a candidate who was initiated, or initiate one who was rejected,
in another lodge. "It would be highly improper," says the Ahiman Rezon,
"in any lodge, to confer a degree on a Brother who is not of their
house-hold, for, every lodge ought to be competent to manage their own business
and are the best judges of the qualifications of their own members."
I do not intend, at the
present time, to investigate the qualifications of candidates—as that subject
will, in itself, afford ample materials for a future investigation, but, it is
necessary that I should say something of the restrictions under which every
lodge labors in respect to the admission of persons applying for degrees.
In the first place, no lodge
can initiate a candidate, "without previous notice and due examination into
his character, and not unless his petition has been read at one regular meeting
and acted on at another." This is in accordance with the ancient
regulations, but, an exception to it is allowed in the case of an emergency,
when the lodge may read the petition for admission and, if the applicant is well
recommended, may proceed at once to elect and initiate him. In some
jurisdictions, the nature of the emergency must be stated to the Grand Master,
who, if he approves, will grant a dispensation, but, in others, the Master, or
Master and Wardens, are permitted to be competent judges and may proceed to
elect and initiate, without such dispensation. The Grand Lodge of South Carolina
adheres to the former custom and that of England to the latter.
Another regulation is, that
no lodge can confer more than two degrees, at one communication, on the same
candidate. The Grand Lodge of England is still more stringent on this subject
and declares that "no candidate shall be permitted to receive more than
one degree, on the same day, nor shall a higher degree in Masonry be conferred
on any Brother at a less interval than four weeks from his receiving a previous
degree, nor until he has passed an examination, in open lodge, in that
degree." This rule is also in force in South Carolina and several other of
the American jurisdictions. But, the law which forbids the whole three
degrees of Ancient Craft Masonry to be conferred, at the same communication, on
one candidate, is universal in its application and, as such, may be deemed one
of the ancient landmarks of the Order.
There is another rule, which
seems to be of universal extent and is, indeed, contained in the General
Regulations of 1767, to the following effect: "No lodge shall make more
than five new Brothers at one and the same time, without an urgent
All lodges are bound to hold
their meetings at least once in every calendar month, and every lodge neglecting
so to do for one year, thereby forfeits its warrant of constitution.
The subject of the removal of
lodges is the last thing that shall engage our attention. Here the ancient
regulations of the craft have adopted many guards to prevent the capricious or
improper removal of a lodge from its regular place of meeting. In the first
place, no lodge can be removed from the town in which it is situated, to any
other place, without the consent of the Grand Lodge. But, a lodge may remove
from one part of the town to another, with the consent of the members, under the
following restrictions: The removal cannot be made without the Master's
knowledge, nor can any motion, for that purpose, be presented in his absence.
When such a motion is made and properly seconded, the Master will order
summonses to every member, specifying the business and appointing a day for
considering and determining the affair. And if then a majority of the lodge,
with the Master, or two-thirds, without him, consent to the removal, it shall
take place, but notice thereof must be sent, at once, to the Grand Lodge. The
General Regulations of 1767 further declare, that such removal must be approved
by the Grand Master. I suppose that where the removal of the lodge was only a
matter of convenience to the members, the Grand Lodge would hardly interfere,
but leave the whole subject to their discretion, but, where the removal would be
calculated to affect the interests of the lodge, or of the fraternity—as in
the case of a removal to a house of bad reputation, or to a place of evident
insecurity—I have no doubt that the Grand Lodge, as the conservator of the
character and safety of the institution, would have a right to interpose its
authority and prevent the improper removal.
I have thus treated, as
concisely as the important nature of the subjects would permit, of the powers,
privileges, duties and obligations of lodges and have endeavored to embrace,
within the limits of the discussion, all those prominent principles of the
Order, which, as they affect the character and operations of the craft in their
primary assemblies, may properly be referred to the Law of Subordinate Lodges.
the Officers of a Subordinate Lodge.
I.-Of the Officers in General.
Four officers, at least, the
ancient customs of the craft require in every lodge and they are consequently
found throughout the globe. These are the Master, the two Wardens and the Tiler.
Almost equally universal are the offices of Treasurer, Secretary and two
Deacons. But, besides these, there may be additional officers appointed by
different Grand Lodges. The Grand Lodge of England, for instance, requires the
appointment of an officer, called the "Inner Guard." The Grand Orient
of France has prescribed a variety of officers, which are unknown to English and
American Masonry. The Grand Lodges of England and South Carolina direct that two
Stewards shall be appointed, while some other Grand Lodges make no such
requisition. Ancient usage seems to have recognized the following officers of a
subordinate lodge: the Master, two Wardens, Treasurer, Secretary, two Deacons,
two Stewards and Tiler, and I shall therefore treat of the duties and powers of
these officers only, in the course of the present chapter.
The officers of a lodge are
elected annually. In this country, the election takes place on the festival of
St. John the Evangelist, or at the meeting immediately previous, but, in this
latter case, the duties of the offices do not commence until St. John's day,
which may, therefore, be considered as the beginning of the Masonic year.
Dalcho lays down the rule,
that "no Freemason chosen into any office can refuse to serve (unless he
has before filled the same office), without incurring the penalties established
by the bye-laws." Undoubtedly a lodge may enact such a regulation and affix
any reasonable penalty, but I am not aware of any ancient regulation which makes
it incumbent on subordinate lodges to do so.
If any of the subordinate
officers, except the Master and Wardens, die, or be removed from office, during
the year, the lodge may, under the authority of a dispensation from the Grand
Master, enter into an election to supply the vacancy. But in the case of the
death or removal of the Master or either of the Wardens, no election can be held
to supply the vacancy, even by dispensation, for reasons which will appear when
I come to treat of those offices.
No officer can resign his
office after he has been installed. Every officer is elected for twelve months
and at his installation solemnly promises to perform the duties of that office
until the next regular day of election, and hence the lodge cannot permit him,
by a resignation, to violate his obligation of office.
Another rule is, that
every officer holds on to his office until his successor has been installed. It
is the installation and not the election, which puts an officer into possession,
and the faithful management of the affairs of Masonry requires, that between the
election and installation of his successor, the predecessor shall not vacate the
office, but continue to discharge its duties.
An office can be vacated only
by death, permanent removal from the jurisdiction, or expulsion. Suspension does
not vacate, but only suspends the performance of the duties of the office, which
must then be temporarily discharged by some other person, to be appointed from
time to time, for, as soon as the suspended officer is restored, he resumes the
dignities and duties of his office.
Section II. Of
the Worshipful Master.
This is probably the most
important office in the whole system of Masonry, as, upon the intelligence,
skill and fidelity of the Masters of our lodges, the entire institution is
dependent for its prosperity. It is an office,which is charged with heavy
responsibilities and, as a just consequence, is accompanied by the investiture
of many important powers.
necessary qualification of the Master of a lodge is, that he must have
previously served in the office of a Warden.[
"No Brother can be a Warden until he has passed the part of a Fellow Craft;
nor a Master until he has acted as a Warden."—Old Charges, IV. (U.M.L.,
vol. xv., book 1, p. 52)]
This qualification is sometimes dispensed with in the
case of new lodges, or where no member of an old lodge, who has served as a
Warden, will accept the office of Master. But it is not necessary that he should
have served as a Warden in the lodge of which he is proposed to be elected
Master. The discharge of the duties of a Warden, by regular election and
installation in any other lodge and at any former period, will be a sufficient
One of the most important
duties of the Master of a lodge is, to see that the edicts and regulations of
the Grand Lodge are obeyed by his Brethren and that his officers faithfully
discharge their duties.
The Master has particularly
in charge the warrant of Constitution, which must always be present in his
lodge, when opened.
The Master has a right to call a special meeting of his
lodge whenever he pleases and is the sole judge of any emergency, which may
require such special communication.
He has, also, the right of
closing his lodge at any hour that he may deem expedient, notwithstanding the
whole business of the evening may not have been transacted. This regulation
arises from the unwritten law of Masonry. As the Master is responsible to the
Grand Lodge for the fidelity of the work done in his lodge and as the whole of
the labor is, therefore, performed under his superintendence, it follows that,
to enable him to discharge this responsibility, he must be invested with the
power of commencing, of continuing, or of suspending labor at such time as he
may, in his wisdom, deem to be the most advantageous to the edifice of Masonry.
It follows from this rule
that a question of adjournment cannot be entertained in a lodge. The adoption of
a resolution to adjourn, would involve the necessity of the Master to obey it.
The power, therefore, of controlling the work, would be taken out of his hands
and placed in those of the members, which would be in direct conflict with the
duties imposed upon him by the ritual. The doctrine that a lodge cannot
adjourn, but must be closed or called off at the pleasure of the Master, appears
now to me to be very generally admitted.
The Master and his two Wardens
constitute the representatives of the lodge in the Grand Lodge and it is his
duty to attend the communications of that body "on all convenient
occasions." [Regulations on
Installation of a Master, No. III. Preston, p. 74 (U.M.L., vol. iii., p. 61).]
When there, he is faithfully to represent his lodge and on all
questions discussed, to obey its instructions, voting in every case rather
against his own convictions than against the expressed wish of his lodge.
The Master presides not only over the symbolic work of
the lodge, but also over its business deliberations and in either case his
decisions are reversible only by the Grand Lodge. There can be no appeal from
his decision, on any question, to the lodge. He is supreme in his lodge, so far
as the lodge is concerned, being amenable for his conduct in the government of
it, not to its members, but to the Grand Lodge alone. If an appeal were
proposed, it would be his duty, for the preservation of discipline, to refuse to
put the question. If a member is aggrieved by the conduct or decisions of the
Master, he has his redress by an appeal to the Grand Lodge, which will, of
course, see that the Master does not rule his lodge "in an unjust or
arbitrary manner." But such a thing as an appeal from the Master of the
lodge to its members is unknown in Masonry.
This may, at first sight,
appear to be giving too despotic power to the Master. But a slight reflection
will convince any one that there can be but little danger of oppression from one
so guarded and controlled as a Master is, by the sacred obligations of his
office and the supervision of the Grand Lodge, while the placing in the hands of
the craft so powerful and at times and with bad spirits, so annoying a privilege
as that of immediate appeal, would necessarily tend to impair the energies and
lessen the dignity of the Master, while it would be subversive of that spirit of
discipline which pervades every part of the institution and to which it is
mainly indebted for its prosperity and perpetuity.
The ancient charges rehearsed
at the installation of a Master, prescribe the various moral qualifications
which are required in the aspirant for that elevated and responsible office. He
is to be a good man and peaceable citizen or subject, a respecter of the laws
and a lover of his Brethren—cultivating the social virtues and promoting the
general good of society as well as of his own Order.
Within the last few years,
the standard of intellectual qualifications has been greatly elevated. And it is
now admitted that the Master of a lodge, to do justice to the exalted office
which he holds, to the craft over whom he presides and to the candidates whom he
is to instruct, should be not only a man of irreproachable moral character, but
also of expanded intellect and liberal education. Still, as there is no express
law upon this subject, the selection of a Master and the determination of his
qualifications must be left to the judgment and good sense of the members.
Section III. Of
The Senior and Junior Warden
are the assistants of the Master in the government of the lodge. They are
selected from among the members on the floor, the possession of a previous
office not being, as in the case of the Master, a necessary qualification for
election. In England they are appointed by the Master, but in this country
they are universally elected by the lodge.
During the temporary absence
of the Master the Senior Warden has the right of presiding, though he may and
often does by courtesy, invite a Past Master to assume the chair. In like
manner, in the absence of both Master and Senior Warden, the Junior Warden will
preside and competent Brethren will by him be appointed to fill the vacant seats
of the Wardens. But if the Master and Junior Warden be present and the Senior
Warden be absent, the Junior Warden does not occupy the West, but retains his
own station, the Master appointing some Brother to occupy the station of the
Senior Warden. For the Junior Warden succeeds by law only to the office of
Master and, unless that office be vacant, he is bound to fulfill the duties of
the office to which he has been obligated.
In case of the death, removal
from the jurisdiction, or expulsion of the Master, by the Grand Lodge, no
election can be held until the constitutional period. The Senior Warden will
take the Master's place and preside over the lodge, while his seat will be
temporarily filled from time to time by appointment. The Senior Warden being in
fact still in existence and only discharging one of the highest duties of his
office, that of presiding in the absence of the Master, his office cannot be
declared vacant and there can be no election for it. In such case, the Junior
Warden, for the reason already assigned, will continue at his own station in the
In case of the death,
removal, or expulsion of both Master and Senior Warden, the Junior Warden will
discharge the duties of the Mastership and make temporary appointments of both
Wardens. It must always be remembered that the Wardens succeed according to
seniority to the office of Master when vacant, but that neither can legally
discharge the duties of the other. It must also be remembered that when a Warden
succeeds to the government of the lodge, he does not become the Master, he is
still only a Warden discharging the functions of a higher vacated station, as
one of the expressed duties of his own office. A recollection of these
distinctions will enable us to avoid much embarrassment in the consideration of
all the questions incident to this subject. If the Master be present, the
Wardens assist him in the government of the lodge. The Senior Warden presides
over the craft while at labor and the Junior when they are in refreshment.
Formerly the examination of visitors was intrusted to the Junior Warden, but
this duty is now more appropriately performed by the Stewards or a special
committee appointed for that purpose.
The Senior Warden has the
appointment of the Senior Deacon and the Junior Warden that of the Stewards.
Of the Treasurer.
Of so much importance is this
office deemed, that in English Lodges, while all the other officers are
appointed by the Master, the Treasurer alone is elected by the lodge. It is,
however, singular, that in the ritual of installation, Preston furnishes no
address to the Treasurer on his investiture. Webb, however, has supplied the
omission and the charge given in his work to this officer, on the night of his
installation, having been universally acknowledged and adopted by the craft in
this country, will furnish us with the most important points of the law in
relation to his duties.
It is, then, in the first
place, the duty of the Treasurer "to receive all moneys from the hands of
the Secretary." The Treasurer is only the banker of the lodge. All fees for
initiation, arrearages of members and all other dues to the lodge, should be
first received by the Secretary and paid immediately over to the Treasurer for
The keeping of just and
regular accounts is another duty presented to the Treasurer. As soon as he has
received an amount of money from the Secretary, he should transfer the account
of it to his books. By this means, the Secretary and Treasurer become mutual
checks upon each other and the safety of the funds of the lodge is secured.
The Treasurer is not only the
banker, but also the disbursing officer of the lodge, but he is directed to pay
no money except with the consent of the lodge and on the order of the Worshipful
Master. It seems to me, therefore, that every warrant drawn on him should be
signed by the Master and the action of the lodge attested by the
counter-signature of the Secretary.
It is usual, in
consequence of the great responsibility of the Treasurer, to select some Brother
of worldly substance for the office, and still further to insure the safety of
the funds, by exacting from him a bond, with sufficient security. He
sometimes receives a per centage, or a fixed salary, for his services.
Of the Secretary.
It is the duty of the
Secretary to record all the proceedings of the lodge, "which may be
committed to paper," to conduct the correspondence of the lodge and to
receive all moneys due the lodge from any source whatsoever. He is, therefore,
the recording, corresponding and receiving officer of the lodge. By receiving
the moneys due to the lodge in the first place and then paying them over to the
Treasurer, he becomes, as I have already observed, a check upon that officer.
In view of the many laborious
duties, which devolve upon him, the Secretary, in many lodges, receives a
compensation for his services.
Should the Treasurer or
Secretary die or be expelled, there is no doubt that an election for a
successor, to fill the unexpired term, may be held by dispensation from the
Grand Master. But the in competency of either of these officers to perform his
duties, by reason of the infirmity of sickness or removal from the seat of the
lodge, will not, I think, authorize such an election. Because the original
officer may recover from his infirmity, or return to his residence and, in
either case, having been elected and installed for one year, he must remain the
Secretary or Treasurer until the expiration of the period for which he had been
so elected and installed and, therefore, on his recovery or his return, is
entitled to resume all the prerogatives and functions of his office. The case of
death, or of expulsion, which is, in fact, Masonic death, is different, because
all the rights possessed during life cease ex necessitate rei and forever lapse
at the time of the said physical or Masonic death, and in the latter case, a
restoration to all the rights and privileges of Masonry would not restore the
party to any office which he had held at the time of his expulsion.
Of the Deacons.
In every lodge there are two
of these officers—a Senior and a Junior Deacon. They are not elected, but
appointed, the former by the Master and the latter by the Senior Warden.
The duties of these officers are many and
important, but they are so well defined in the ritual as to require no further
consideration in this place.
The only question that here invites our examination is,
whether the Deacons, as appointed officers, are removable at the pleasure of the
officers who appointed them, or, whether they retain their offices, like the
Master and Wardens, until the expiration of the year. Masonic authorities are
silent on this subject, but, basing my judgment upon analogy, I am inclined to
think that they are not removable: all the officers of a lodge are chosen to
serve for one year, or, from one festival of St. John the Evangelist to the
succeeding one. This has been the invariable usage in all lodges and neither in
the monitorial ceremonies of installation, nor in any rules or regulations,
which I have seen, is any exception to this usage made in respect to Deacons.
The written as well as the oral law of Masonry being silent on this subject, we
are bound to give them the benefit of this silence and place them in the same
favorable position as that occupied by the superior officers, who, we know, by
express law are entitled to occupy their stations for one year. Moreover, the
power of removal is too important to be exercised except under the sanction of
an expressed law and is contrary to the whole spirit of Masonry, which, while it
invests a presiding officer with the largest extent of prerogative, is equally
careful of the rights of the youngest member of the fraternity. From these
reasons I am compelled to believe that the Deacons, although originally
appointed by the Master and Senior Warden, are not removable by either, but
retain their offices until the expiration of the year.
Of the Stewards.
The Stewards, who are
two in number, are appointed by the Junior Warden and sit on the right and left
of him in the lodge. Their original
duties were, "to assist in the collection of dues and subscriptions, to
keep an account of the lodge expenses, to see that the tables are properly
furnished at refreshment and that every Brother is suitably provided for."
They are also considered as the assistants of the Deacons in the discharge of
their duties and, lately, some lodges are beginning to confide to them the
important trusts of a standing committee for the examination of visitors and the
preparation of candidates.
What has been said in
relation to the removal of the Deacons in the preceding section, is equally
applicable to the Stewards.
Of the Tiler.
This is an office of great
importance and must, from the peculiar nature of our institution, have existed
from its very beginning. No lodge could ever have been opened until a Tiler was
appointed and stationed to guard its portals from the approach of "cowans
and eavesdroppers." The qualifications requisite for the office of a Tiler
are, that he must be "a worthy Master Mason." An Entered Apprentice,
or a Fellow Craft, cannot tile a lodge, even though it be opened in his own
degree. To none but Master Masons can this important duty of guardianship be
intrusted. The Tiler is not necessarily a member of the lodge, which he
tiles. There is no regulation requiring this qualification. In fact, in large
cities, one Brother often acts as the Tiler of several lodges. If, however, he
is a member of the lodge, his office does not deprive him of the rights of
membership and in balloting for candidates, election of officers, or other
important questions, he is entitled to exercise his privilege of voting, in
which case the Junior Deacon will temporarily occupy his station, while he
enters the lodge to deposit his ballot. This appears to be the general usage of
the craft in this country.
The Tiler is sometimes
elected by the lodge and sometimes appointed by the Master. It seems generally
to be admitted that he may be removed from office for misconduct or neglect of
duty, by the lodge, if he has been elected and by the Master, if he has been
Of Rules of Order.
The safety of the minority, the preservation of harmony and
the dispatch of business, all require that there should be, in every
well-regulated society, some rules and forms for the government of their
proceedings and, as has been justly observed by an able writer on
parliamentary law, "whether these forms be in all cases the most rational
or not, is really not of so great importance, for it is much more material that
there should be a rule to go by, than what that rule is." [Hats.
quoted in Jefferson, p. 14]
By common consent, the
rules established for the government of Parliament in England and of Congress in
the United States and which are known collectively under the name of
"Parliamentary Law," have been adopted for the regulation of all
deliberative bodies, whether of a public or private nature. But lodges of
Freemasons differ so much in their organization and character from other
societies, that this law will, in very few cases, be found applicable, and,
indeed, in many positively inapplicable to them. The rules, therefore, for the
government of Masonic lodges are in general to be deduced from the usages of the
Order, from traditional or written authority and where both of them are silent,
from analogy to the character of the institution.
To each of these sources, therefore, I shall apply, in the course of the present
chapter and in some few instances, where the parliamentary law coincides with
our own, reference will be made to the authority of the best writers on that
Of the Order of Business.
When the Brethren have been
"congregated," or called together by the presiding officer, the first
thing to be attended to is the ceremony of opening the lodge. The consideration
of this subject, as it is sufficiently detailed in our ritual, will form no part
of the present work.
The lodge having been opened,
the next thing to be attended to is the reading of the minutes of the last
communication. The minutes having been read, the presiding officer will put the
question on their confirmation, having first inquired of the Senior and Junior
Wardens and lastly of the Brethren "around the lodge," whether they
have any alterations to propose. It must be borne in mind, that the question of
confirmation is simply a question whether the Secretary has faithfully and
correctly recorded the transactions of the lodge. If, therefore, it can be
satisfactorily shown by any one that there is a mis entry, or the omission of an
entry, this is the time to correct it, and where the matter is of sufficient
importance and the recording officer, or any member disputes the charge of
error, the vote of the lodge will be taken on the subject and the journal will
be amended or remain as written, according to the opinion so expressed by the
majority of the members. As this is, however, a mere question of memory, it
must be apparent that those members only who were present at the previous
communication, the records of which are under examination, are qualified to
express a fair opinion. All others should ask and be permitted to be excused
As no special
communication can alter or amend the proceedings of a regular one, it is not
deemed necessary to present the records of the latter to the inspection of the
former. This preliminary reading of the minutes is, therefore, always omitted at
After the reading of the
minutes, unfinished business, such as motions previously submitted and reports
of committees previously appointed, will take the preference of all other
matters. Special communications being called for the consideration of some
special subject, that subject must of course claim the priority of consideration
over all others.
In like manner, where any
business has been specially and specifically postponed to another communication,
it constitutes at that communication what is called, in parliamentary law,
"the order of the day," and may at any time in the course of the
evening be called up, to the exclusion of all other business.
The lodge may, however, at
its discretion, refuse to take up the consideration of such order, for the same
body which determined at one time to consider a question, may at another time
refuse to do so. This is one of those instances in which parliamentary usage
is applicable to the government of a lodge. Jefferson says: "Where an order
is made, that any particular matter be taken up on any particular day, there a
question is to be put, when it is called for, Whether the house will now proceed
to that matter?" In a lodge, however, it is not the usage to propose
such a question, but the matter being called up, is discussed and acted on,
unless some Brother moves its postponement, when the question of postponement is
put. But with these exceptions, the unfinished business must first be disposed
of, to avoid its accumulation and its possible subsequent neglect. [One of the ancient charges, which Preston tells us that it was the
constant practice of our Ancient Brethren to rehearse at the opening and closing
of the lodge, seems to refer to this rule, when it says, "the Master,
Wardens and Brethren are just and faithful and carefully finish the work they
begin."—Oliver's Preston, p. 27, note (U.M.L., vol. iii., p. 22).]
New business will then be
taken up in such order as the local bye-laws prescribe, or the wisdom of the
Worshipful Master may suggest.
a discussion, when any member wishes to speak, he must stand up in his place and
address himself not to the lodge, nor to any particular Brother, but to the
presiding officer, styling him "Worshipful."
two or more members rise nearly together, the presiding officer determines who
is entitled to speak and calls him by his name, whereupon he proceeds, unless he
voluntarily sits down and gives way to the other. The ordinary rules of
courtesy, which should govern a Masonic body above all other societies, as well
as the general usage of deliberative bodies, require that the one first up
should be entitled to the floor. But the decision of this fact is left entirely
to the Master, or presiding officer.
Whether a member be entitled
to speak once or twice to the same question, is left to the regulation of the
local bye-laws of every lodge. But, under all circumstances, it seems to be
conceded, that a member may rise at any time with the permission of the
presiding officer, or for the purpose of explanation.
A member may be called to
order by any other while speaking, for the use of any indecorous remark,
personal allusion, or irrelevant matter, but this must be done in a courteous
and conciliatory manner and the question of order will at once be decided by the
No Brother is to be
interrupted while speaking, except for the purpose of calling him to order, or
to make a necessary explanation, nor are any separate conversations, or, as they
are called in our ancient charges, "private committees," to be
Every member of the Order
is, in the course of the debate as well as at all other times in the lodge, to
be addressed by the title of "Brother," and no secular or worldly
titles are ever to be used.
In accordance with the
principles of justice, the parliamentary usage is adopted, which permits the
mover of a resolution to make the concluding speech, that he may reply to all
those who have spoken against it and sum up the arguments in its favor. And it
would be a breach of order as well as of courtesy for any of his opponents to
respond to this final argument of the mover.
It is within the discretion
of the Master, at any time in the course of the evening, to suspend the business
of the lodge for the purpose of proceeding to the ceremony of initiation, for
the "work" of Masonry, as it is technically called, takes precedence
of all other business.
When all business, both old
and new and the initiation of candidates, if there be any, has been disposed of,
the presiding officer inquires of the officers and members if there be anything
more to be proposed before closing. Custom has prescribed a formulary for making
this inquiry, which is in the following words.
The Worshipful Master,
addressing the Senior and Junior Wardens and then the Brethren, successively,
says: "Brother Senior, have you anything to offer in the West for the good
of Masonry in general or of this lodge in particular? Anything in the South,
Brother Junior? Around the lodge, Brethren?" The answers to these inquiries
being in the negative on the part of the Wardens and silence on that of the
craft, the Master proceeds to close the lodge in the manner prescribed in the
The reading of the minutes
of the evening, not for confirmation, but for suggestion, lest anything may have
been omitted, should always precede the closing ceremonies, unless, from the
lateness of the hour, it be dispensed with by the members.
Of Appeals from the Decision of the Chair.
differs from all other institutions, in permitting no appeal to the lodge from
the decision of the presiding officer. The Master is supreme in his lodge, so
far as the lodge is concerned. He is amenable for his conduct, in the government
of the lodge, not to its members, but to the Grand Lodge alone.
In deciding points of order as well as graver matters, no appeal can be taken
from that decision to the lodge. If an appeal were proposed, it would be his
duty, for the preservation of discipline, to refuse to put the question. It is,
in fact, wrong that the Master should even by courtesy permit such an appeal to
be taken, because, as the Committee of Correspondence of the Grand Lodge of
Tennessee have wisely remarked, by the admission of such appeals by courtesy,
"is established ultimately a precedent from which will be claimed the right
to take appeals." [Proceedings
of G.L. of Tennessee, 1850. Appendix A, p. 8.]
a member is aggrieved with the conduct or the decisions of the Master, he has
his redress by an appeal to the Grand Lodge, which will of course see that the
Master does not rule his lodge "in an unjust or arbitrary manner." But
such a thing as an appeal from the Master to the lodge is unknown in Masonry.
This, at first view, may
appear to be giving too despotic a power to the Master. But a little reflection
will convince any one that there can be but slight danger of oppression from one
so guarded and controlled as the Master is by the obligations of his office and
the superintendence of the Grand Lodge, while the placing in the hands of the
craft so powerful and, with bad spirits, so annoying a privilege as that of
immediate appeal, would necessarily tend to impair the energies and lessen the
dignity of the Master, at the same time that it would be totally subversive of
that spirit of strict discipline which pervades every part of the institution
and to which it is mainly indebted for its prosperity and perpetuity.
In every case where a member
supposes himself to be aggrieved by the decision of the Master, he should make
his appeal to the Grand Lodge. It is scarcely necessary to add, that a Warden or
Past Master, presiding in the absence of the Master, assumes for the time all
the rights and prerogatives of the Master.
Of the Mode of Taking the Question.
The question in Masonry is not taken viva
voce or by "aye" and "nay." This should always be done by
"a show of hands." The
regulation on this subject was adopted not later than the year 1754, at
which time the Book of Constitutions was revised, "and the necessary
alterations and additions made, consistent with the laws and rules of
Masonry," and accordingly, in the edition published in the following year,
the regulation is laid down in these words, "The opinions or votes of
the members are always to be signified by each holding up one of his hands:
which uplifted hands the Grand Wardens are to count, unless the number of hands
be so unequal as to render the counting useless. Nor should any other kind of
division be ever admitted among Masons."[
Book of Constitutions, edition of 1755, p. 282]
Calling for the yeas and nays
has been almost universally condemned as an unmasonic practice, nor should any
Master allow it to be resorted to in his lodge.
Moving the "previous
question," a parliamentary invention for stopping all discussion, is still
more at variance with the liberal and harmonious spirit which should distinguish
Masonic debates and is, therefore, never to be permitted in a lodge.
Adjournment is a term not
recognized in Masonry. There are but two ways in which the communication of a
lodge can be terminated, and these are either by closing the lodge, or by
calling from labor to refreshment. In the former case the business of the
communication is finally disposed of until the next communication, in the latter
the lodge is still supposed to be open and may resume its labors at any time
indicated by the Master.
But both the time of closing
the lodge and of calling it from labor to refreshment is to be determined by the
absolute will and the free judgment of the Worshipful Master, to whom alone is
intrusted the care of "setting the craft to work and giving them wholesome
instruction for labor." He alone is responsible to the Grand Master and the
Grand Lodge, that his lodge shall be opened, continued and closed in harmony,
and as it is by his "will and pleasure" only that it is opened, so is
it by his "will and pleasure" only that it can be closed. Any attempt,
therefore, on the part of the lodge to entertain a motion for adjournment would
be an infringement of this prerogative of the Master. Such a motion is,
therefore, always out of order and cannot be, and cannot be acted on.
The rule that a lodge cannot
adjourn, but remain in session until closed by the Master, derives an
authoritative sanction also from the following clause in the fifth of the Old
Charges, "All Masons employed shall meekly receive their wages without
murmuring or mutiny and not desert the Master till the work is finished."
the Appointment of Committees.
It is the prerogative of the
Master to appoint all Committees, unless by a special resolution provision has
been made that a committee shall otherwise be appointed.
The Master is also, ex
officio, chairman of every committee which he chooses to attend, although he may
not originally have been named a member of such committee. But he may, if he
chooses, waive this privilege, yet he may, at any time during the session of the
committee, reassume his inherent prerogative of governing the craft at all times
when in his presence and therefore take the chair.
the Mode of Keeping the Minutes.
Masonry is preeminently an
institution of forms and hence, as was to be expected, there is a particular
form provided for recording the proceedings of a lodge. Perhaps the best method
of communicating this form to the reader will be, to record the proceedings of a
supposititious meeting or communication.
The following form,
therefore, embraces the most important transactions that usually occur during
the session of a lodge and it may serve as an exemplar, for the use of
"A regular communication
of —— Lodge, No. ——, was holden at ——, on ----, the —— day of
——A.: L.: 58—.
Bro.: A. B——, W.: Master.
" B. C——, S.: Warden.
" C. D——, J.: Warden.
" D. E——, Treasurer.
" E. F——, Secretary.
" F. G——, S.: Deacon.
" G. H——, J.: Deacon.
" H. I——, } Stewards.
" I. K——, }
" K. L——, Tiler.
Bro.: L. M——
Lodge was opened in due form on the third degree of Masonry.
minutes of the regular communication of —— were read and confirmed.54
committee on the petition of Mr. C. B., a candidate for initiation, reported
favorably, whereupon he was balloted for and duly elected.
committee on the application of Mr. D. C., a candidate for initiation, reported
favorably, whereupon he was balloted for and the box appearing foul he was
committee on the application of Mr. E. D., a candidate for initiation, having
reported unfavorably, he was declared rejected without a ballot.
petition of Mr. F. E., a candidate for initiation, having been withdrawn by his
friends, he was declared rejected without a ballot.
petition for initiation from Mr. G.F., inclosing the usual amount and
recommended by Bros. C. D.—— and H. I.——, was referred to a committee of
investigation consisting of Bros. G. H.——, L. M.——and O. P.——.
S.R., an Entered Apprentice, having applied for advancement, was duly elected to
take the second degree, and Bro. W.Y., a Fellow Craft, was, on his application
for advancement, duly elected to take the third degree.
letter was read from Mrs. T. V.——, the widow of a Master Mason, when the sum
of twenty dollars was voted for her relief.
amendment to article 10, section 5 of the bye-laws, proposed by Bro. M. N.
—— at the communication of ——, was read a third time, adopted by a
constitutional majority and ordered to be sent to the Grand Lodge for approval
Lodge of Master Masons was then closed and a lodge of Entered Apprentices opened
in due form.
C. B., a candidate for initiation, being in waiting, was duly prepared, brought
forward and initiated as an Entered Apprentice, he paying the usual fee.
Lodge of Entered Apprentices was then closed and a Lodge of Fellow Crafts opened
in due form.
S. R., an Entered Apprentice, being in waiting, was duly prepared, brought
forward and passed to the degree of a Fellow Craft, he paying the usual fee.
Lodge of Fellow Crafts was then closed and a lodge of Master Masons opened in
W. Y., a Fellow Craft, being in waiting, was duly prepared, brought forward and
raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason, he paying the usual fee.
received this evening, as follows:
Mr. G. F.,
Bro. C. B.,
Bro. S. R.,
Bro. W. Y.,
of which was paid over to the Treasurer.
being no further business, the lodge was closed in due form and harmony.
is the form which has been adopted as the most convenient mode of recording the
transactions of a lodge. These minutes must be read, at the close of the
meeting, that the Brethren may suggest any necessary alterations or additions
and then at the beginning of the next regular meeting, that they may be
confirmed, after which they should be transcribed from the rough Minute Book in
which they were first entered into the permanent Record Book of the lodge.