The Principles of Masonic Law by Albert G. Mackey

Produced by Distributed Proofreaders THE PRINCIPLES OF MASONIC LAW: A Treatise on the Constitutional Laws, Usages And Landmarks of Freemasonry, By Albert G. Mackey, M.D., Author of “The Lexicon of Freemasonry,” “The Mystic Tie,” “Legends and Traditions of Freemasonry,” Etc., Etc., Grand Lecturer and Grand Secretary of The Grand Lodge of South Carolina; Secretary General
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Produced by Distributed Proofreaders


A Treatise on the Constitutional Laws, Usages And Landmarks of Freemasonry,


Albert G. Mackey, M.D.,

Author of

“The Lexicon of Freemasonry,” “The Mystic Tie,” “Legends and Traditions of Freemasonry,” Etc., Etc.,

Grand Lecturer and Grand Secretary of The Grand Lodge of South Carolina; Secretary General of the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, Etc., Etc., Etc.

“Est enim unum jus, quo devincta est hominum societas, quod lex constituit una; quae lex est recta ratio imperandi atque prohibendi, quam qui ignorat is est injustus.”

Cicero de Legibus. c. XV.

New York:
Jno. W. Leonard & Co., Masonic Publishers, 383 Broadway.


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by Jno. W. Leonard & Co.,

In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.


Brother J.J.J. Gourgas,

Sovereign Grand Inspector General in the Supreme Council for the Northern Jurisdiction of the United States,

I Dedicate This Work,

As a Slight Testimonial of My Friendship and Esteem for Him As a Man,
And of My Profound Veneration for His Character As a Mason;
Whose Long and Useful Life Has Been Well Spent in the Laborious Prosecution of the Science,
And the Unremitting Conservation of the Principles of Our Sublime Institution.

Table of Contents


Book First. The Law of Grand Lodges.

Chapter I. Historical Sketch.
Chapter II. Of the Mode of Organizing Grand Lodges. Chapter III. Of the Members of a Grand Lodge. Chapter IV. Of the Officers of a Grand Lodge. Section I. Of the Grand Master.
Section II. The Deputy Grand Master. Section III. Of the Grand Wardens.
Section IV. Of the Grand Treasurer. Section V. Of the Grand Secretary.
Section VI. Of the Grand Chaplain. Section VII. Of the Grand Deacons.
Section VIII. Of the Grand Marshal. Section IX. Of the Grand Stewards.
Section X. Of the Grand Sword-Bearer. Section XI. Of the Grand Tiler.
Chapter V. Of the Powers and Prerogatives of a Grand Lodge. Section I. General View.
Section II. Of the Legislative Power of a Grand Lodge. Section III. Of the Judicial Power of a Grand Lodge. Section IV. Of the Executive Power of a Grand Lodge.

Book Second. Laws of Subordinate Lodges.

Chapter I. Of the Nature and Organization of Subordinate Lodges. Chapter II. Of Lodges under Dispensation. Chapter III. Of Lodges Working under a Warrant of Constitution. Chapter IV. Of the Officers of a Subordinate Lodge. Section I. Of the Officers in General. Section II. Of the Worshipful Master.
Section III. Of the Wardens.
Section IV. Of the Treasurer.
Section V. Of the Secretary.
Section VI. Of the Deacons.
Section VII. Of the Stewards.
Section VIII. Of the Tiler.
Chapter V. Of Rules of Order.
Section I. Of the Order of Business. Section II. Of Appeals from the Decision of the Chair. Section III. Of the Mode of Taking the Question. Section IV. Of Adjournments.
Section V. Of the Appointment of Committees. Section VI. Of the Mode of Keeping the Minutes.

Book Third. The Law of Individuals.

Chapter I. Of the Qualifications of Candidates. Section I. Of the Moral Qualifications of Candidates. Section II. Of the Physical Qualifications of Candidates. Section III. Of the Intellectual Qualifications of Candidates. Section IV. Of the Political Qualifications of Candidates. Section V. Of the Petition of Candidates for Admission, and the Action Thereon.
Section VI. Of Balloting for Candidates. Section VII. Of the Reconsideration of the Ballot. Section VIII. Of the Renewal of Applications by Rejected Candidates. Section IX. Of the Necessary Probation and Due Proficiency of Candidates before Advancement
Section X. Of Balloting for Candidates in each Degree. Section XI. Of the Number to be Initiated at one Communication. Section XII. Of Finishing the Candidates of one Lodge in another. Section XIII. Of the Initiation of Non-residents. Chapter II. Of the Rights of Entered Apprentices. Chapter III. Of the Rights of Fellow Crafts. Chapter IV. Of the Rights of Master Masons. Section I. Of the Right of Membership. Section II. Of the Right of Visit.
Section III. Of the Examination of Visitors. Section IV. Of Vouching for a Brother. Section V. Of the Right of Claiming Relief. Section VI. Of the Right of Masonic Burial. Chapter V. Of the Rights of Past Masters. Chapter VI. Of Affiliation.
Chapter VII. Of Demitting.
Chapter VIII. Of Unaffiliated Masons.

Book Fourth. Of Masonic Crimes and Punishments.

Chapter I. Of What Are Masonic Crimes. Chapter II. Of Masonic Punishments.
Section I. Of Censure.
Section II. Of Reprimand.
Section III. Of Exclusion from the Lodge. Section IV. Of Definite Suspension.
Section V. Of Indefinite Suspension. Section VI. Of Expulsion.
Chapter III. Of Masonic Trials.
Section I. Of the Form of Trial.
Section II. Of the Evidence in Masonic Trials. Chapter IV. Of the Penal Jurisdiction of a Lodge. Chapter V. Of Appeals.
Chapter VI. Of Restoration.



In presenting to the fraternity a work on the Principles of Masonic Law, it is due to those for whom it is intended, that something should be said of the design with which it has been written, and of the plan on which it has been composed. It is not pretended to present to the craft an encyclopedia of jurisprudence, in which every question that can possibly arise, in the transactions of a Lodge, is decided with an especial reference to its particular circumstances. Were the accomplishment of such an herculean task possible, except after years of intense and unremitting labor, the unwieldy size of the book produced, and the heterogeneous nature of its contents, so far from inviting, would rather tend to distract attention, and the object of communicating a knowledge of the Principles of Masonic Law, would be lost in the tedious collation of precedents, arranged without scientific system, and enunciated without explanation.

When I first contemplated the composition of a work on this subject, a distinguished friend and Brother, whose opinion I much respect, and with whose advice I am always anxious to comply, unless for the most satisfactory reasons, suggested the expediency of collecting the decisions of all Grand Masters, Grand Lodges, and other masonic authorities upon every subject of Masonic Law, and of presenting them, without commentary, to the fraternity.

But a brief examination of this method, led me to perceive that I would be thus constructing simply a digest of decrees, many of which would probably be the results of inexperience, of prejudice, or of erroneous views of the masonic system, and from which the authors themselves have, in repeated instances, subsequently receded–for Grand Masters and Grand Lodges, although entitled to great respect, are not infallible–and I could not, conscientiously, have consented to assist, without any qualifying remark, in the extension and perpetuation of edicts and opinions, which, however high the authority from which they emanated, I did not believe to be in accordance with the principles of Masonic jurisprudence.

Another inconvenience which would have attended the adoption of such a method is, that the decisions of different Grand Lodges and Grand Masters are sometimes entirely contradictory on the same points of Masonic Law. The decree of one jurisdiction, on any particular question, will often be found at variance with that of another, while a third will differ from both. The consultor of a work, embracing within its pages such distracting judgments, unexplained by commentary, would be in doubt as to which decision he should adopt, so that coming to the inspection with the desire of solving a legal question, he would be constrained to close the volume, in utter despair of extracting truth or information from so confused a mass of contradictions.

This plan I therefore at once abandoned. But knowing that the jurisprudence of Masonry is founded, like all legal science, on abstract principles, which govern and control its entire system, I deemed it to be a better course to present these principles to my readers in an elementary and methodical treatise, and to develop from them those necessary deductions which reason and common sense would justify.

Hence it is that I have presumed to call this work “The Principles of Masonic Law.” It is not a code of enactments, nor a collection of statutes, nor yet a digest of opinions; but simply an elementary treatise, intended to enable every one who consults it, with competent judgment, and ordinary intelligence, to trace for himself the bearings of the law upon any question which he seeks to investigate, and to form, for himself, a correct opinion upon the merits of any particular case.

Blackstone, whose method of teaching I have endeavored, although I confess “ab longo inter-vallo,” to pursue, in speaking of what an academical expounder of the law should do, says:

“He should consider his course as a general map of the law, marking out the shape of the country, its connections, and boundaries, its greater divisions, and principal cities; it is not his business to describe minutely the subordinate limits, or to fix the longitude and latitude of every inconsiderable hamlet.”

Such has been the rule that has governed me in the compilation of this work. But in delineating this “general map” of the Masonic Law, I have sought, if I may continue the metaphor, so to define boundaries, and to describe countries, as to give the inspector no difficulty in “locating” (to use an Americanism) any subordinate point. I have treated, it is true, of principles, but I have not altogether lost sight of cases.

There are certain fundamental laws of the Institution, concerning which there never has been any dispute, and which have come down to us with all the sanctions of antiquity, and universal acceptation. In announcing these, I have not always thought it necessary to defend their justice, or to assign a reason for their enactment.

The weight of unanimous authority has, in these instances, been deemed sufficient to entitle them to respect, and to obedience.

But on all other questions, where authority is divided, or where doubts of the correctness of my decision might arise, I have endeavored, by a course of argument as satisfactory as I could command, to assign a reason for my opinions, and to defend and enforce my views, by a reference to the general principles of jurisprudence, and the peculiar character of the masonic system. I ask, and should receive no deference to my own unsupported theories–as a man, I am, of course, fallible–and may often have decided erroneously. But I do claim for my arguments all the weight and influence of which they may be deemed worthy, after an attentive and unprejudiced examination. To those who may at first be ready–because I do not agree with all their preconceived opinions–to doubt or deny my conclusions, I would say, in the language of Themistocles, “Strike, but hear me.”

Whatever may be the verdict passed upon my labors by my Brethren, I trust that some clemency will be extended to the errors into which I may have fallen, for the sake of the object which I have had in view: that, namely, of presenting to the Craft an elementary work, that might enable every Mason to know his rights, and to learn his duties.

The intention was, undoubtedly, a good one. How it has been executed, it is not for me, but for the masonic public to determine.

Albert G. Mackey.

Charleston, S.C., January 1st., 1856.


The Authorities for Masonic Law.

The laws which govern the institution of Freemasonry are of two kinds, _unwritten_ and _written,_ and may in a manner be compared with the “lex non scripta,” or common law, and the “lex seripta,” or statute law of English and American jurists.

The “lex non scripta,” or _unwritten law_ of Freemasonry is derived from the traditions, usages and customs of the fraternity as they have existed from the remotest antiquity, and as they are universally admitted by the general consent of the members of the Order. In fact, we may apply to these unwritten laws of Masonry the definition given by Blackstone of the “leges non scriptae” of the English constitution–that “their original institution and authority are not set down in writing, as acts of parliament are, but they receive their binding power, and the force of laws, by long and immemorial usage and by their universal reception throughout the kingdom.” When, in the course of this work, I refer to these unwritten laws as authority upon any point, I shall do so under the appropriate designation of “ancient usage.”

The “lex scripta,” or written law of Masonry, is derived from a variety of sources, and was framed at different periods. The following documents I deem of sufficient authority to substantiate any principle, or to determine any disputed question in masonic law.

1. The “Ancient Masonic charges, from a manuscript of the Lodge of Antiquity,” and said to have been written in the reign of James II.[1]

2. The regulations adopted at the General Assembly held in 1663, of which the Earl of St. Albans was Grand Master.[2]

3. The interrogatories propounded to the Master of a lodge at the time of his installation, and which, from their universal adoption, without alteration, by the whole fraternity, are undoubtedly to be considered as a part of the fundamental law of Masonry.

4. “The Charges of a Freemason, extracted from the Ancient Records of Lodges beyond sea, and of those in England, Scotland, and Ireland, for the use of the Lodges in London,” printed in the first edition of the Book of Constitutions, and to be found from p. 49 to p. 56 of that work.[3]

5. The thirty-nine “General Regulations,” adopted “at the annual assembly and feast held at Stationers’ hall on St. John the Baptist’s day, 1721,” and which were published in the first edition of the Book of Constitutions, p. 58 to p.

6. The subsequent regulations adopted at various annual communications by the Grand Lodge of England, up to the year 1769, and published in different editions of the Book of Constitutions. These, although not of such paramount importance and universal acceptation as the Old Charges and the Thirty-nine Regulations, are, nevertheless, of great value as the means of settling many disputed questions, by showing what was the law and usage of the fraternity at the times in which they were adopted.

Soon after the publication of the edition of 1769 of the Book of Constitutions, the Grand Lodges of America began to separate from their English parent and to organize independent jurisdictions. From that period, the regulations adopted by the Grand Lodge of England ceased to have any binding efficacy over the craft in this country, while the laws passed by the American Grand Lodges lost the character of general regulations, and were invested only with local authority in their several jurisdictions.

Before concluding this introductory section, it may be deemed necessary that something should be said of the “Ancient Landmarks of the Order,” to which reference is so often made.

Various definitions have been given of the landmarks. Some suppose them to be constituted of all the rules and regulations which were in existence anterior to the revival of Masonry in 1717, and which were confirmed and adopted by the Grand Lodge of England at that time. Others, more stringent in their definition, restrict them to the modes of recognition in use among the fraternity. I am disposed to adopt a middle course, and to define the Landmarks of Masonry to be, all those usages and customs of the craft–whether ritual or legislative–whether they relate to forms and ceremonies, or to the organization of the society–which have existed from time immemorial, and the alteration or abolition of which would materially affect the distinctive character of the institution or destroy its identity. Thus, for example, among the legislative landmarks, I would enumerate the office of Grand Master as the presiding officer over the craft, and among the ritual landmarks, the legend of the third degree. But the laws, enacted from time to time by Grand Lodges for their local government, no matter how old they may be, do not constitute landmarks, and may, at any time, be altered or expunged, since the 39th regulation declares expressly that “every annual Grand Lodge has an inherent power and authority to make new regulations or to alter these (viz., the thirty-nine articles) for the real benefit of this ancient fraternity, provided always that the old landmarks be carefully preserved.”

Book First

The Law of Grand Lodges.

It is proposed in this Book, first to present the reader with a brief historical sketch of the rise and progress of the system of Grand Lodges; and then to explain, in the subsequent sections, the mode in which such bodies are originally organized, who constitute their officers and members, and what are their acknowledged prerogatives.

Chapter I.

Historical Sketch.

Grand Lodges under their present organization, are, in respect to the antiquity of the Order, of a comparatively modern date. We hear of no such bodies in the earlier ages of the institution. Tradition informs us, that originally it was governed by the despotic authority of a few chiefs. At the building of the temple, we have reason to believe that King Solomon exercised an unlimited and irresponsible control over the craft, although a tradition (not, however, of undoubted authority) says that he was assisted in his government by the counsel of twelve superintendants, selected from the twelve tribes of Israel. But we know too little, from authentic materials, of the precise system adopted at that remote period, to enable us to make any historical deductions on the subject.

The first historical notice that we have of the formation of a supreme controlling body of the fraternity, is in the “Gothic Constitutions”[4] which assert that, in the year 287, St. Alban, the protomartyr of England, who was a zealous patron of the craft, obtained from Carausius, the British Emperor, “a charter for the Masons to hold a general council, and gave it the name of assembly.” The record further states, that St. Alban attended the meeting and assisted in making Masons, giving them “good charges and regulations.” We know not, however, whether this assembly ever met again; and if it did, for how many years it continued to exist. The subsequent history of Freemasonry is entirely silent on the subject.

The next general assemblage of the craft, of which the records of Freemasonry inform us, was that convened in 926, at the city of York, in England, by Prince Edwin, the brother of King Athelstane, and the grandson of Alfred the Great. This, we say, was the next general assemblage, because the Ashmole manuscript, which was destroyed at the revival of Freemasonry in 1717, is said to have stated that, at that time, the Prince obtained from his brother, the king, a permission for the craft “to hold a yearly communication and a general assembly.” The fact that such a power of meeting was then granted, is conclusive that it did not before exist: and would seem to prove that the assemblies of the craft, authorised by the charter of Carausius, had long since ceased to be held. This yearly communication did not, however, constitute, at least in the sense we now understand it, a Grand Lodge. The name given to it was that of the “General Assembly of Masons.” It was not restricted, as now, to the Masters and Wardens of the subordinate lodges, acting in the capacity of delegates or representatives, but was composed, as Preston has observed, of as many of the fraternity at large as, being within a convenient distance, could attend once or twice a year, under the auspices of one general head, who was elected and installed at one of these meetings, and who, for the time being, received homage as the governor of the whole body. Any Brethren who were competent to discharge the duty, were allowed, by the regulations of the Order, to open and hold lodges at their discretion, at such times and places as were most convenient to them, and without the necessity of what we now call a Warrant of Constitution, and then and there to initiate members into the Order.[5] To the General Assembly, however, all the craft, without distinction, were permitted to repair; each Mason present was entitled to take part in the deliberations, and the rules and regulations enacted were the result of the votes of the whole body. The General Assembly was, in fact, precisely similar to those political congregations which, in our modern phraseology, we term “mass meetings.”

These annual mass meetings or General Assemblies continued to be held, for many centuries after their first establishment, at the city of York, and were, during all that period, the supreme judicatory of the fraternity. There are frequent references to the annual assemblies of Freemasons in public documents. The preamble to an act passed in 1425, during the reign of Henry VI., just five centuries after the meeting at York, states that, “by the _yearly congregations_ and confederacies made by the Masons in their _general assemblies, _ the good course and effect of the statute of laborers were openly violated and broken.” This act which forbade such meetings, was, however, never put in force; for an old record, quoted in the Book of Constitutions, speaks of the Brotherhood having frequented this “mutual assembly,” in 1434, in the reign of the same king. We have another record of the General Assembly, which was held in York on the 27th December, 1561, when Queen Elizabeth, who was suspicious of their secrecy, sent an armed force to dissolve the meeting. A copy is still preserved of the regulations which were adopted by a similar assembly held in 1663, on the festival of St. John the Evangelist; and in these regulations it is declared that the private lodges shall give an account of all their acceptations made during the year to the General Assembly. Another regulation, however, adopted at the same time, still more explicitly acknowledges the existence of a General Assembly as the governing body of the fraternity. It is there provided, “that for the future, the said fraternity of Freemasons shall be regulated and governed by one Grand Master and as many Wardens as the said society shall think fit to appoint at every Annual General Assembly.”

And thus the interests of the institution continued, until the beginning of the eighteenth century, or for nearly eight hundred years, to be entrusted to those General Assemblies of the fraternity, who, without distinction of rank or office, annually met at York to legislate for the government of the craft.

But in 1717, a new organization of the governing head was adopted, which gave birth to the establishment of a Grand Lodge, in the form in which these bodies now exist. So important a period in the history of Masonry demands our special attention.

After the death, in 1702, of King William, who was himself a Mason, and a great patron of the craft, the institution began to languish, the lodges decreased in number, and the General Assembly was entirely neglected for many years. A few old lodges continued, it is true, to meet regularly, but they consisted of only a few members.

At length, on the accession of George I., the Masons of London and its vicinity determined to revive the annual communications of the society. There were at that time only four lodges in the south of England, and the members of these, with several old Brethren, met in February, 1717, at the Apple Tree Tavern, in Charles street, Covent Garden, and organized by putting the oldest Master Mason, who was the Master of a lodge, in the chair; they then constituted themselves into what Anderson calls, “a Grand Lodge _pro tempore;”_ resolved to hold the annual assembly and feast, and then to choose a Grand Master.

Accordingly, on the 24th of June, 1717, the assembly and feast were held; and the oldest Master of a lodge being in the chair, a list of candidates was presented, out of which Mr. Anthony Sayer was elected Grand Master, and Capt. Joseph Elliott and Mr. Jacob Lamball, Grand Wardens.

The Grand Master then commanded the Masters and Wardens of lodges to meet the Grand Officers every quarter, in communication, at the place he should appoint in his summons sent by the Tiler.

This was, then, undoubtedly, the commencement of that organization of the Masters and Wardens of lodges into a Grand Lodge, which has ever since continued to exist.

The fraternity at large, however, still continued to claim the right of being present at the annual assembly; and, in fact, at that meeting, their punctual attendance at the next annual assembly and feast was recommended.

At the same meeting, it was resolved “that the privilege of assembling as Masons, which had been hitherto 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 constitutional.”

In consequence of this regulation, several new lodges received Warrants of Constitution, and their Masters and Wardens were ordered to attend the communications of the Grand Lodge. The Brethren at large vested all their privileges in the four old lodges, in trust that they would never suffer the old charges and landmarks to be infringed; and the old lodges, in return, agreed that the Masters and Wardens of every new lodge that might be constituted, should be permitted to share with them all the privileges of the Grand Lodge, except precedence of rank. The Brethren, says Preston, considered their further attendance at the meetings of the society unnecessary after these regulations were adopted; and therefore trusted implicitly to their Masters and Wardens for the government of the craft; and thenceforward the Grand Lodge has been composed of all the Masters and Wardens of the subordinate lodges which constitute the jurisdiction.

The ancient right of the craft, however, to take a part in the proceedings of the Grand Lodge or Annual Assembly, was fully acknowledged by a new regulation, adopted about the same time, in which it is declared that all alterations of the Constitutions must be proposed and agreed to, at the third quarterly communication preceding the annual feast, and be offered also to the perusal of _all_ the Brethren before dinner, _even of the youngest Entered Apprentice_[6]

This regulation has, however, (I know not by what right,) become obsolete, and the Annual Assembly of Masons has long ceased to be held; the Grand Lodges having, since the beginning of the eighteenth century, assumed the form and organization which they still preserve, as strictly representative bodies.

Chapter II.

Of the Mode of Organizing Grand Lodges.

The topic to be discussed in this section is, the answer to the question, How shall a Grand Lodge be established in any state or country where such a body has not previously existed, but where there are subordinate lodges working under Warrants derived from Grand Lodges in other states? In answering this question, it seems proper that I should advert to the course pursued by the original Grand Lodge of England, at its establishment in 1717, as from that body nearly all the Grand Lodges of the York rite now in existence derive their authority, either directly or indirectly, and the mode of its organization has, therefore, universally been admitted to have been regular and legitimate.

In the first place, it is essentially requisite that the active existence of subordinate lodges in a state should precede the formation of a Grand Lodge; for the former are the only legitimate sources of the latter. A mass meeting of Masons cannot assemble and organize a Grand Lodge. A certain number of lodges, holding legal warrants from a Grand Lodge or from different Grand Lodges, must meet by their representatives and proceed to the formation of a Grand Lodge. When that process has been accomplished, the subordinate lodges return the warrants, under which they had theretofore worked, to the Grand Lodges from which they had originally received them, and take new ones from the body which they have formed.

That a mass meeting of the fraternity of any state is incompetent to organize a Grand Lodge has been definitively settled–not only by general usage, but by the express action of the Grand Lodges of the United States which refused to recognize, in 1842, the Grand Lodge of Michigan which had been thus irregularly established in the preceding year. That unrecognized body was then dissolved by the Brethren of Michigan, who proceeded to establish four subordinate lodges under Warrants granted by the Grand Lodge of New York. These four lodges subsequently met in convention and organized the present Grand Lodge of Michigan in a regular manner.

It seems, however, to have been settled in the case of Vermont, that where a Grand Lodge has been dormant for many years, and all of its subordinates extinct, yet if any of the Grand Officers, last elected, survive and are present, they may revive the Grand Lodge and proceed constitutionally to the exercise of its prerogatives.

The next inquiry is, as to the number of lodges required to organize a new Grand Lodge. Dalcho says that _five_ lodges are necessary; and in this opinion he is supported by the Ahiman Rezon of Pennsylvania, published in 1783 by William Smith, D.D., at that time the Grand Secretary of that jurisdiction, and also by some other authorities. But no such regulation is to be found in the Book of Constitutions, which is now admitted to contain the fundamental law of the institution. Indeed, its adoption would have been a condemnation of the legality of the Mother Grand Lodge of England, which was formed in 1717 by the union of only _four_ lodges. The rule, however, is to be found in the Ahiman Rezon of Laurence Dermott, which was adopted by the “Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons,” that seceded from the lawful Grand Lodge in 1738. But as that body was undoubtedly, under our present views of masonic law, schismatic and illegal, its regulations have never been considered by masonic writers as being possessed of any authority.

In the absence of any written law upon the subject, we are compelled to look to precedent for authority; and, although the Grand Lodges in the United States have seldom been established with a representation of less than four lodges, the fact that that of Texas was organized in 1837 by the representatives of only _three_ lodges, and that the Grand Lodge thus instituted was at once recognized as legal and regular by all its sister Grand Lodges, seems to settle the question that three subordinates are sufficient to institute a Grand Lodge.

Three lodges, therefore, in any territory where a Grand Lodge does not already exist, may unite in convention and organize a Grand Lodge. It will then be necessary, that these lodges should surrender the warrants under which they had been previously working, and take out new warrants from the Grand Lodge which they have constituted; and, from that time forth, all masonic authority is vested in the Grand Lodge thus formed.

The Grand Lodge having been thus constituted, the next inquiries that suggest themselves are as to its members and its officers, each of which questions will occupy a distinct discussion.

Chapter III.

Of the Members of a Grand Lodge.

It is an indisputable fact that the “General Assembly” which met at York in 926 was composed of all the members of the fraternity who chose to repair to it; and it is equally certain that, at the first Grand Lodge, held in 1717, after the revival of Masonry, all the craft who were present exercised the right of membership in voting for Grand Officers,[7] and must, therefore, have been considered members of the Grand Lodge. The right does not, however, appear to have been afterwards claimed. At this very assembly, the Grand Master who had been elected, summoned only the Master and Wardens of the lodges to meet him in the quarterly communications; and Preston distinctly states, that soon after, the Brethren of the four old lodges, which had constituted the Grand Lodge, considered their attendance on the future communications of the society unnecessary, and therefore concurred with the lodges which had been subsequently warranted in delegating the power of representation to their Masters and Wardens, “resting satisfied that no measure of importance would be adopted without their approbation.”

Any doubts upon the subject were, however, soon put at rest by the enactment of a positive law. In 1721, thirty-nine articles for the future government of the craft were approved and confirmed, the twelfth of which was in the following words:

“The Grand Lodge consists of, and is formed by, the Masters and Wardens of all the regular particular lodges upon record, with the Grand Master at their head, and his Deputy on his left hand, and the Grand Wardens in their proper places.”

From time to time, the number of these constituents of a Grand Lodge were increased by the extension of the qualifications for membership. Thus, in 1724, Past Grand Masters, and in 1725, Past Deputy Grand Masters, were admitted as members of the Grand Lodge. Finally it was decreed that the Grand Lodge should consist of the four present and all past grand officers; the Grand Treasurer, Secretary, and Sword-Bearer; the Master, Wardens, and nine assistants of the Grand Stewards’ lodge, and the Masters and Wardens of all the regular lodges.

Past Masters were not at first admitted as members of the Grand Lodge. There is no recognition of them in the old Constitutions. Walworth thinks it must have been after 1772 that they were introduced.[8] I have extended my researches to some years beyond that period, without any success in finding their recognition as members under the Constitution of England. It is true that, in 1772, Dermott prefixed a note to his edition of the Ahiman Rezon, in which he asserts that “Past Masters of warranted lodges on record are allowed this privilege (of membership) whilst they continue to be members of any regular lodge.” And it is, doubtless, on this imperfect authority, that the Grand Lodges of America began at so early a period to admit their Past Masters to seats in the Grand Lodge. In the authorized Book of Constitutions, we find no such provision. Indeed, Preston records that in 1808, at the laying of the foundation-stone of the Covent Garden Theatre, by the Prince of Wales, as Grand Master, “the Grand Lodge was opened by Charles Marsh, Esq., attended by the _Masters and Wardens_ of all the regular lodges;” and, throughout the description of the ceremonies, no notice is taken of Past Masters as forming any part of the Grand Lodge. The first notice that we have been enabled to obtain of Past Masters, as forming any part of the Grand Lodge of England, is in the “Articles of Union between the two Grand Lodges of England,” adopted in 1813, which declare that the Grand Lodge shall consist of the Grand and Past Grand Officers, of the actual Masters and Wardens of all the warranted lodges, and of the “Past Masters of Lodges who have regularly served and passed the chair before the day of Union, and who continued, without secession, regular contributing members of a warranted lodge.” But it is provided, that after the decease of all these ancient Past Masters, the representation of every lodge shall consist of its Master and Wardens, and one Past Master only. There is, I presume, no doubt that, from 1772, Past Masters had held a seat in the Athol Grand Lodge of Ancient Masons, and that they did not in the original Grand Lodge, is, I believe, a fact equally indisputable. By the present constitutions of the United Grand Lodge of England, Past Masters are members of the Grand Lodge, while they continue subscribing members of a private lodge. In some of the Grand Lodges of the United States, Past Masters have been permitted to retain their membership, while in others, they have been disfranchised.

On the whole, the result of this inquiry seems to be, that Past Masters have no inherent right, derived from the ancient landmarks, to a seat in the Grand Lodge; but as every Grand Lodge has the power, within certain limits, to make regulations for its own government, it may or may not admit them to membership, according to its own notion of expediency.

Some of the Grand Lodges have not only disfranchised Past Masters but Wardens also, and restricted membership only to acting Masters. This innovation has arisen from the fact that the payment of mileage and expenses to three representative would entail a heavy burden on the revenue of the Grand Lodge. The reason may have been imperative; but in the practice, pecuniary expediency has been made to override an ancient usage.

In determining, then, who are the constitutional members of a Grand Lodge, deriving their membership from inherent right, I should say that they are the Masters and Wardens of all regular lodges in the jurisdiction, with the Grand Officers chosen by them. All others, who by local regulations are made members, are so only by courtesy, and not by prescription or ancient law.

Chapter IV.

Of the Officers of a Grand Lodge.

The officers of a Grand Lodge may be divided into two classes, _essential_ and _accidental_, or, as they are more usually called, _Grand_ and _Subordinate_. The former of these classes are, as the name imports, essential to the composition of a Grand Lodge, and are to be found in every jurisdiction, having existed from the earliest times. They are the Grand and Deputy Grand Masters, the Grand Wardens, Grand Treasurer, and Grand Secretary. The Grand Chaplain is also enumerated among the Grand Officers, but the office is of comparatively modern date.

The subordinate officers of a Grand Lodge consist of the Deacons, Marshal, Pursuivant, or Sword-Bearer, Stewards, and others, whose titles and duties vary in different jurisdictions. I shall devote a separate section to the consideration of the duties of each and prerogatives of these officers.

Section I.

_Of the Grand Master._

The office of Grand Master of Masons has existed from the very origin of the institution; for it has always been necessary that the fraternity should have a presiding head. There have been periods in the history of the institution when neither Deputies nor Grand Wardens are mentioned, but there is no time in its existence when it was without a Grand Master; and hence Preston, while speaking of that remote era in which the fraternity was governed by a General Assembly, says that this General Assembly or Grand Lodge “was not then restricted, as it is now understood to be, to the Masters and Wardens of private lodges, with the Grand Master and his Wardens at their head; it consisted of as many of the Fraternity _at large_ as, being within a convenient distance, could attend, once or twice in a year, under the auspices of one general head, who was elected and installed at one of these meetings; and who for the time being received homage as the sole governor of the whole body.”[9] The office is one of great honour as well as power, and has generally been conferred upon some individual distinguished by an influential position in society; so that his rank and character might reflect credit upon the craft.[10]

The Grand Mastership is an elective office, the election being annual and accompanied with impressive ceremonies of proclamation and homage made to him by the whole craft. Uniform usage, as well as the explicit declaration of the General Regulations,[11] seems to require that he should be installed by the last Grand Master. But in his absence the Deputy or some Past Grand Master may exercise the functions of installation or investiture. In the organization of a new Grand Lodge, ancient precedent and the necessity of the thing will authorize the performance of the installation by the Master of the oldest lodge present, who, however, exercises, _pro hac vice_, the prerogatives and assumes the place of a Grand Master.

The Grand Master possesses a great variety of prerogatives, some of which are derived from the “lex non scripta,” or ancient usage; and others from the written or statute law of Masonry.[12]

I. He has the right to convene the Grand Lodge whenever he pleases, and to preside over its deliberation. In the decision of all questions by the Grand Lodge he is entitled to two votes. This is a privilege secured to him by Article XII. of the General Regulations.

It seems now to be settled, by ancient usage as well as the expressed opinion of the generality of Grand Lodges and of masonic writers, that there is no appeal from his decision. In June, 1849, the Grand Master of New York, Bro. Williard, declared an appeal to be out of order and refused to submit it to the Grand Lodge. The proceedings on that eventful occasion have been freely discussed by the Grand Lodges of the United States, and none of them have condemned the act of the Grand Master, while several have sustained it in express terms. “An appeal,” say the Committee of Correspondence of Maryland, “from the decision of the Grand Master is an anomaly at war with every principle of Freemasonry, and as such, not for a moment to be tolerated or countenanced.”[13] This opinion is also sustained by the Committee of the Grand Lodge of Florida in the year 1851, and at various times by other Grand Lodges. On the other hand, several Grand Lodges have made decisions adverse to this prerogative, and the present regulations of the Grand Lodge of England seem, by a fair interpretation of their phraseology, to admit of an appeal from the Grand Master. Still the general opinion of the craft in this country appears to sustain the doctrine, that no appeal can be made from the decision of that officer. And this doctrine has derived much support in the way of analogy from the report adopted by the General Grand Chapter of the United States, declaring that no appeal could lie from the decision of the presiding officer of any Royal Arch body.

Since we have enunciated this doctrine as masonic law, the question next arises, in what manner shall the Grand Master be punished, should he abuse his great prerogative? The answer to this question admits of no doubt. It is to be found in a regulation, adopted in 1721, by the Grand Lodge of England, and is in these words:–“If the Grand Master should abuse his great power, and render himself unworthy of the obedience and submission of the Lodges, he shall be treated in a way and manner to be agreed upon in a new regulation.” But the same series of regulations very explicitly prescribe, how this new regulation is to be made; namely, it is to be “proposed and agreed to at the third quarterly communication preceding the annual Grand Feast, and offered to the perusal of all the Brethren before dinner, 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.”[14] This mode of making a new regulation is explicitly and positively prescribed–it can be done in no other way–and those who accept the old regulations as the law of Masonry, must accept this provision with them. This will, in the present organization of many Grand Lodges, render it almost impracticable to make such a new regulation, in which case the Grand Master must remain exempt from other punishment for his misdeeds, than that which arises from his own conscience, and the loss of his Brethren’s regard and esteem.

II. The power of granting dispensations is one of the most important prerogatives of the Grand Master. A dispensation may be defined to be an exemption from the observance of some law or the performance of some duty. In Masonry, no one has the authority to grant this exemption, except the Grand Master; and, although the exercise of it is limited within the observance of the ancient landmarks, the operation of the prerogative is still very extensive. The dispensing power may be exercised under the following circumstances:

1. The fourth old Regulation prescribes that “no lodge shall make more than five new Brothers at one and the same time without an urgent necessity.”[15] But of this necessity the Grand Master may judge, and, on good and sufficient reason being shown, he may grant a dispensation enabling any lodge to suspend this regulation and make more than five new Brothers.

2. The next regulation prescribes “that no one can be accepted a member of a particular lodge without previous notice, one month before given to the lodge, in order to make due inquiry into the reputation and capacity of the candidate.” But here, also, it is held that, in a suitable case of emergency, the Grand Master may exercise his prerogative and dispense with this probation of one month, permitting the candidate to be made on the night of his application.

3. If a lodge should have omitted for any causes to elect its officers or any of them on the constitutional night of election, or if any officer so elected shall have died, been deposed or removed from the jurisdiction subsequent to his election, the Grand Master may issue a dispensation empowering the lodge to proceed to an election or to fill the vacancy at any other specified communication; but he cannot grant a dispensation to elect a new master in consequence of the death or removal of the old one, while the two Wardens or either of them remain–because the Wardens succeed by inherent right and in order of seniority to the vacant mastership. And, indeed, it is held that while one of the three officers remains, no election can be held, even by dispensation, to fill the other two places, though vacancies in them may have occurred by death or removal.

4. The Grand Master may grant a dispensation empowering a lodge to elect a Master from among the members on the floor; but this must be done only when every Past Master, Warden, and Past Warden of the lodge has refused to serve,[16] because ordinarily a requisite qualification for the Mastership is, that the candidate shall, previously, have served in the office of Warden.

5. In the year 1723 a regulation was adopted, prescribing “that no Brother should belong to more than one lodge within the bills of mortality.” Interpreting the last expression to mean three miles–which is now supposed to be the geographical limit of a lodge’s jurisdiction, this regulation may still be considered as a part of the law of Masonry; but in some Grand Lodges, as that of South Carolina, for instance, the Grand Master will sometimes exercise his prerogative, and, dispensing with this regulation, permit a Brother to belong to two lodges, although they may be within three miles of each other.

6. But the most important power of the Grand Master connected with his dispensing prerogative is, that of constituting new lodges. It has already been remarked that, anciently, a warrant was not required for the formation of a lodge, but that a sufficient number of Masons, met together within a certain limit, were empowered, with the consent of the sheriff or chief magistrate of the place, to make Masons and practice the rites of Masonry, without such warrant of Constitution. But, in the year 1717, it was adopted as a regulation, that every lodge, to be thereafter convened, should be authorised to act by a warrant from the Grand Master for the time being, granted to certain persons by petition, with the consent and approbation of the Grand Lodge in communication. Ever since that time, no lodge has been considered as legally established, unless it has been constituted by the authority of the Grand Master. In the English Constitutions, the instrument thus empowering a lodge to meet, is called, when granted by the Grand Master, a Warrant of Constitution. It is granted by the Grand Master and not by the Grand Lodge. It appears to be a final instrument, notwithstanding the provision enacted in 1717, requiring the consent and approbation of the Grand Lodge; for in the Constitution of the United Grand Lodge of England, there is no allusion whatever to this consent and approbation.

But in this country, the process is somewhat different, and the Grand Master is deprived of a portion of his prerogative. Here, the instrument granted by the Grand Master is called a Dispensation. The lodge receiving it is not admitted into the register of lodges, nor is it considered as possessing any of the rights and privileges of a lodge, except that of making Masons, until a Warrant of Constitution is granted by the Grand Lodge. The ancient prerogative of the Grand Master is, however, preserved in the fact, that after a lodge has been thus warranted by the Grand Lodge, the ceremony of constituting it, which embraces its consecration and the installation of its officers, can only be performed by the Grand Master in person, or by his special Deputy appointed for that purpose.[17]

III. The third prerogative of the Grand Master is that of visitation. He has a right to visit any lodge within his jurisdiction at such times as he pleases, and when there to preside; and it is the duty of the Master to offer him the chair and his gavel, which the Grand Master may decline or accept at his pleasure. This prerogative admits of no question, as it is distinctly declared in the first of the Thirty-nine Regulations, adopted in 1721, in the following words:–

“The Grand Master or Deputy has full authority and right, not only to be present, but to preside in every lodge, with the Master of the lodge on his left hand, and to order his Grand Wardens to attend him, who are not to act as Wardens of particular lodges, but in his presence and at his command; for the Grand Master, while in a particular lodge, may command the Wardens of that lodge, or any other Master Masons, to act as his Wardens, _pro tempore_.”

But in a subsequent regulation it was provided, that as the Grand Master cannot deprive the Grand Wardens of that office without the consent of the Grand Lodge, he should appoint no other persons to act as Wardens in his visitation to a private lodge, unless the Grand Wardens were absent. This whole regulation is still in existence.

The question has been lately mooted, whether, if the Grand Master declines to preside, he does not thereby place himself in the position of a private Brother, and become subject, as all the others present, to the control of the Worshipful Master. I answer, that of course he becomes subject to and must of necessity respect those rules of order and decorum which are obligatory on all good men and Masons; but that he cannot, by the exercise of an act of courtesy in declining to preside, divest himself of his prerogative, which, moreover, he may at any time during the evening assume, and demand the gavel. The Grand Master of Masons can, under no circumstances, become subject to the decrees and orders of the Master of a particular lodge.

IV. Another prerogative of the Grand Master is that of appointment; which, however, in this country, has been much diminished. According to the old regulations, and the custom is still continued in the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Master has the right of appointing his Deputy and Wardens. In the United States, the office has been shorn of this high prerogative, and these Officers are elected by the Grand Lodge. The Deputy, however, is still appointed by the Grand Master, in some of the States, as Massachusetts, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Texas. The appointment of the principal subordinate officers, is also given to the Grand Master by the American Grand Lodges.

V. The last and most extraordinary power of the Grand Master, is that of _making Masons at sight_.

The power to “make Masons at sight” is a technical term, which may be defined to be the power to initiate, pass, and raise candidates by the Grand Master, in a lodge of emergency, or as it is called in the Book of Constitutions, “an occasional lodge,” especially convened by him, and consisting of such Master Masons as he may call together for that purpose only–the lodge ceasing to exist as soon as the initiation, passing, or raising, has been accomplished and the Brethren have been dismissed by the Grand Master.

Whether such a power is vested in the Grand Master, is a question that, within the last few years, has been agitated with much warmth, by some of the Grand Lodges of this country; but I am not aware that, until very lately, the prerogative was ever disputed.[18]

In the Book of Constitutions, however, several instances are furnished of the exercise of this right by various Grand Masters.

In 1731, Lord Lovel being Grand Master, he “formed an occasional lodge at Houghton Hall, Sir Robert Walpole’s House in Norfolk,” and there made the Duke of Lorraine, afterwards Emperor of Germany, and the Duke of Newcastle, Master Masons.[19]

I do not quote the case of the initiation, passing, and raising of Frederick, Prince of Wales, in 1737, which was done in “an occasional lodge,” over which Dr. Desaguliers presided,[20] because as Desaguliers was not the Grand Master, nor even, as has been incorrectly stated by the New York Committee of Correspondence, Deputy Grand Master, but only a Past Grand Master, it cannot be called _a making at sight_. He most probably acted under the dispensation of the Grand Master, who at that time was the Earl of Darnley.

But in 1766, Lord Blaney, who was then Grand Master, convened “an occasional lodge” and initiated, passed, and raised the Duke of Gloucester.[21]

Again in 1767, John Salter, the Deputy, then acting as Grand Master, convened “an occasional lodge,” and conferred the three degrees on the Duke of Cumberland.[22]

In 1787, the Prince of Wales was made a Mason “at an occasional lodge, convened,” says Preston, “for the purpose, at the Star and Garter, Pall Mall, over which the Duke of Cumberland, (Grand Master) presided in person.”[23]

But it is unnecessary to multiply instances of the right, exercised by former Grand Masters, of congregating occasional lodges, and making Masons at sight. It has been said, however, by the oppugners of this prerogative, that these “occasional lodges” were only special communications of the Grand Lodge, and the “makings” are thus supposed to have taken place under the authority of that body, and not of the Grand Master. The facts, however, do not sustain this position. Throughout the Book of Constitutions, other meetings, whether regular or special, are distinctly recorded as meetings of the Grand Lodge, while these “occasional lodges” appear only to have been convened by the Grand Master, for the purpose of making Masons. Besides, in many instances, the lodge was held at a different place from that of the Grand Lodge, and the officers were not, with the exception of the Grand Master, the officers of the Grand Lodge. Thus the occasional lodge, which initiated the Duke of Lorraine, was held at the residence of Sir Robert Walpole, in Norfolk, while the Grand Lodge always met in London. In 1766, the Grand Lodge held its communications at the Crown and Anchor; but the occasional lodge, which, in the same year, conferred the degrees on the Duke of Gloucester, was convened at the Horn Tavern. In the following year, the lodge which initiated the Duke of Cumberland was convened at the Thatched House Tavern, the Grand Lodge continuing to meet at the Crown and Anchor.

This may be considered very conclusive evidence of the existence of the prerogative of the Grand Master, which we are now discussing, but the argument _a fortiori_, drawn from his dispensing power, will tend to confirm the doctrine.

No one doubts or denies the power of the Grand Master to constitute new lodges by dispensation. In 1741, the Grand Lodge of England forgot it for a moment, and adopted a new regulation, that no new lodge should be constituted until the consent of the Grand Lodge had been first obtained, “But this order, afterwards appearing,” says the Book of Constitutions,[24] “to be an infringement on the prerogative of the Grand Master, and to be attended with many inconveniences and with damage to the craft, was repealed.”

It is, then, an undoubted prerogative of the Grand Master to constitute lodges by dispensation, and in these lodges, so constituted, Masons may be legally entered, passed, and raised. This is done every day. Seven Master Masons, applying to the Grand Master, he grants them a dispensation, under authority of which they proceed to open and hold a lodge, and to make Masons. This lodge is, however, admitted to be the mere creature of the Grand Master, for it is in his power, at any time, to revoke the dispensation he had granted, and thus to dissolve the lodge.

But, if the Grand Master has the power thus to enable others to confer the degrees and make Masons by his individual authority out of his presence, are we not permitted to argue _a fortiori_ that he has also the right of congregating seven Brethren and causing a Mason, to be made in his sight? Can he delegate a power to others which he does not himself possess? And is his calling together “an occasional lodge,” and making, with the assistance of the Brethren thus assembled, a Mason “at sight,” that is to say, in his presence, anything more or less than the exercise of his dispensing power, for the establishment of a lodge under dispensation, for a temporary period, and for a special purpose. The purpose having been effected, and the Mason having been made, he revokes his dispensation, and the lodge is dismissed. If we assumed any other ground than this, we should be compelled to say, that though the Grand Master might authorise others to make Masons, when he was absent, as in the usual case of lodges under dispensation yet the instant that he attempted to convey the same powers to be exercised in his presence, and under his personal supervision, his authority would cease. This course of reasoning would necessarily lead to a contradiction in terms, if not to an actual absurdity.

It is proper to state, in conclusion, that the views here set forth are not entertained by the very able Committee of Foreign Correspondence of the Grand Lodge of Florida, who only admit the power of the Grand Master to make Masons in the Grand Lodge. On the other hand, the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin, at its last communication, adopted a report, asserting “that the Grand Master has the right to make Masons at sight, in cases which he may deem proper”–and the Committee of Correspondence of New York declares, that “since the time when the memory of man runneth not to the contrary, Grand Masters have enjoyed the privilege of making Masons at sight, without any preliminaries, and at any suitable time or place.”

The opinions of the two last quoted Grand Lodges embody the general sentiment of the Craft on this subject.[25] But although the prerogative is thus almost universally ceded to Grand Masters, there are many very reasonable doubts as to the expediency of its exercise, except under extraordinary circumstances of emergency.

In England, the practice has generally been confined to the making of Princes of the Royal Family, who, for reasons of state, were unwilling to reduce themselves to the level of ordinary candidates and receive their initiation publicly in a subordinate lodge.

But in the exercise of this prerogative, the Grand Master cannot dispense with any of the requisite forms of initiation, prescribed by the oral laws of the Order. He cannot communicate the degrees, but must adhere to all the established ceremonies–the conferring of degrees by “communication” being a form unknown to the York rite. He must be assisted by the number of Brethren necessary to open and hold a lodge. Due inquiry must be made into the candidate’s character, (though the Grand Master may, as in a case of emergency, dispense with the usual probation of a month). He cannot interfere with the business of a regular lodge, by making one whom it had rejected, nor finishing one which it had commenced. Nor can he confer the three degrees, at one and the same communication. In short, he must, in making Masons at sight, conform to the ancient usages and landmarks of the Order.

Section II.

_The Deputy Grand Master._

The office of Deputy Grand Master is one of great dignity, but not of much practical importance, except in case of the absence of the Grand Master, when he assumes all the prerogatives of that officer. Neither is the office, comparatively speaking, of a very ancient date. At the first reorganization of the Grand Lodge in 1717, and for two or three years afterwards, no Deputy was appointed, and it was not until 1721 that the Duke of Montagu conferred the dignity on Dr. Beal. Originally the Deputy was intended to relieve the Grand Master of all the burden and pressure of business, and the 36th of the Regulations, adopted in 1721, states that “a Deputy is said to have been always needful when the Grand Master was nobly born,” because it was considered as a derogation from the dignity of a nobleman to enter upon the ordinary business of the craft. Hence we find, among the General Regulations, one which sets forth this principle in the following words:

“The Grand Master should not receive any private intimations of business, concerning Masons and Masonry, but from his Deputy first, except in such cases as his worship can easily judge of; and if the application to the Grand Master be irregular, his worship can order the Grand Wardens, or any other so applying, to wait upon the Deputy, who is immediately to prepare the business, and to lay it orderly before his worship.”

The Deputy Grand Master exercises, in the absence of the Grand Master, all the prerogatives and performs all the duties of that officer. But he does so, not by virtue of any new office that he has acquired by such absence, but simply in the name of and as the representative of the Grand Master, from whom alone he derives all his authority. Such is the doctrine sustained in all the precedents recorded in the Book of Constitutions.

In the presence of the Grand Master, the office of Deputy is merely one of honour, without the necessity of performing any duties, and without the power of exercising any prerogatives.

There cannot be more than one Deputy Grand Master in a jurisdiction; so that the appointment of a greater number, as is the case in some of the States, is a manifest innovation on the ancient usages. District Deputy Grand Masters, which officers are also a modern invention of this country, seem to take the place in some degree of the Provincial Grand Masters of England, but they are not invested with the same prerogatives. The office is one of local origin, and its powers and duties are prescribed by the local regulations of the Grand Lodge which may have established it.

Section III.

_Of the Grand Wardens._

The Senior and Junior Grand Wardens were originally appointed, like the Deputy, by the Grand Master, and are still so appointed in England; but in this country they are universally elected by the Grand Lodge. Their duties do not materially differ from those performed by the corresponding officers in a subordinate lodge. They accompany the Grand Master in his visitations, and assume the stations of the Wardens of the lodge visited.

According to the regulations of 1721, the Master of the oldest lodge present was directed to take the chair of the Grand Lodge in the absence of both the Grand Master and Deputy; but this was found to be an interference with the rights of the Grand Wardens, and it was therefore subsequently declared that, in the absence of the Grand Master and Deputy, the last former Grand Master or Deputy should preside. But if no Past Grand or Past Deputy Grand Master should be present, then the Senior Grand Warden was to fill the chair, and, in his absence, the Junior Grand Warden, and lastly, in absence of both these, then the oldest Freemason[26] who is the present Master of a lodge. In this country, however, most of the Grand Lodges have altered this regulation, and the Wardens succeed according to seniority to the chair of the absent Grand Master and Deputy, in preference to any Past Grand Officer.

Section IV.

_Of the Grand Treasurer._

The office of Grand Treasurer was first established in 1724, in consequence of a report of the Committee of Charity of the Grand Lodge of England. But no one was found to hold the trust until the 24th of June, 1727, when, at the request of the Grand Master, the appointment was accepted by Nathaniel Blackerby, Deputy Grand Master. The duties of the office do not at all differ from those of a corresponding one in every other society; but as the trust is an important one in a pecuniary view, it has generally been deemed prudent that it should only be committed to “a brother of good worldly substance,” whose ample means would place him beyond the chances of temptation.

The office of Grand Treasurer has this peculiarity, that while all the other officers below the Grand Master were originally, and still are in England, appointed, that alone was always elective.

Section V.

_Of the Grand Secretary._

This is one of the most important offices in the Grand Lodge, and should always be occupied by a Brother of intelligence and education, whose abilities may reflect honor on the institution of which he is the accredited public organ. The office was established in the year 1723, during the Grand Mastership of the Duke of Wharton, previous to which time the duties appear to have been discharged by the Grand Wardens.

The Grand Secretary not only records the proceedings of the Grand Lodge, but conducts its correspondence, and is the medium through whom all applications on masonic subjects are to be made to the Grand Master, or the Grand Lodge.

According to the regulations of the Grand Lodges of England, New York and South Carolina, the Grand Secretary may appoint an assistant, who is not, however, by virtue of such appointment, a member of the Grand Lodge. The same privilege is also extended in South Carolina to the Grand Treasurer.

Section VI.

_Of the Grand Chaplain._

This is the last of the Grand Offices that was established, having been instituted on the 1st of May, in the year 1775. The duties are confined to the reading of prayers, and other sacred portions of the ritual, in consecrations, dedications, funeral services, etc. The office confers no masonic authority at all, except that of a seat and a vote in the Grand Lodge.

Section VII.

_Of the Grand Deacons._

But little need be said of the Grand Deacons. Their duties correspond to those of the same officers in subordinate lodges. The office of the Deacons, even in a subordinate lodge, is of comparatively modern institution. Dr. Oliver remarks that they are not mentioned in any of the early Constitutions of Masonry, nor even so late as 1797, when Stephen Jones wrote his “Masonic Miscellanies,” and he thinks it “satisfactorily proved that Deacons were not considered necessary, in working the business of a lodge, before the very latter end of the eighteenth century.”[27]

But although the Deacons are not mentioned in the various works published previous to that period, which are quoted by Dr. Oliver, it is nevertheless certain that the office existed at a time much earlier than that which he supposes. In a work in my possession, and which is now lying before me, entitled “Every Young Man’s Companion, etc., by W. Gordon, Teacher of the Mathematics,” sixth edition printed at London, in 1777, there is a section, extending from page 413 to page 426, which is dedicated to the subject of Freemasonry and to a description of the working of a subordinate lodge. Here the Senior and Junior Deacons are enumerated among the officers, their exact positions described and their duties detailed, differing in no respect from the explanations of our own ritual at the present day. The positive testimony of this book must of course outweigh the negative testimony of the authorities quoted by Oliver, and shows the existence in England of Deacons in the year 1777 at least.

It is also certain that the office of Deacon claims an earlier origin in America than the “very latter end of the eighteenth century;” and, as an evidence of this, it may be stated that, in the “Ahiman Rezon” of Pennsylvania, published in 1783, the Grand Deacons are named among the officers of the Grand Lodge, “as particular assistants to the Grand Master and Senior Warden, in conducting the business of the Lodge.” They are to be found in all Grand Lodges of the York Rite, and are usually appointed, the Senior by the Grand Master, and the Junior by the Senior Grand Warden.

Section VIII.

_Of the Grand Marshal._

The _Grand Marshal_, as an officer of convenience, existed from an early period. We find him mentioned in the procession of the Grand Lodge, made in 1731, where he is described as carrying “a truncheon, blue, tipped with gold,” insignia which he still retains. He takes no part in the usual work of the Lodge; but his duties are confined to the proclamation of the Grand Officers at their installation, and to the arrangement and superintendence of public processions.

The Grand Marshal is usually appointed by the Grand Master.

Section IX.

_Of the Grand Stewards._

The first mention that is made of Stewards is in the Old Regulations, adopted in 1721. Previous to that time, the arrangements of the Grand Feast were placed in the hands of the Grand Wardens; and it was to relieve them of this labor that the regulation was adopted, authorizing the Grand Master, or his Deputy, to appoint a certain number of Stewards, who were to act in concert with the Grand Wardens. In 1728, it was ordered that the number of Stewards to be appointed should be twelve. In 1731, a regulation was adopted, permitting the Grand Stewards to appoint their successors. And, in 1735, the Grand Lodge ordered, that, “in consideration of their past service and future usefulness,” they should be constituted a Lodge of Masters, to be called the Stewards’ Lodge, which should have a registry in the Grand Lodge list, and exercise the privilege of sending twelve representatives. This was the origin of that body now known in the Constitutions of the Grand Lodges of England and New York,[28] as the Grand Stewards’ Lodge, although it has been very extensively modified in its organization. In New York, it is now no more than a Standing Committee of the Grand Lodge; and in England, although it is regularly constituted, as a Lodge of Master Masons, it is by a special regulation deprived of all power of entering, passing, or raising Masons. In other jurisdictions, the office of Grand Stewards is still preserved, but their functions are confined to their original purpose of preparing and superintending the Grand Feast.

The appointment of the Grand Stewards should be most appropriately vested in the Junior Grand Warden.

Section X.

_Of the Grand Sword-Bearer._

_Grand Sword-Bearer._–It was an ancient feudal custom, that all great dignitaries should have a sword of state borne before them, as the insignia of their dignity. This usage has to this day been preserved in the Masonic Institution, and the Grand Master’s sword of state is still borne in all public processions by an officer specially appointed for that purpose. Some years after the reorganization of the Grand Lodge of England, the sword was borne by the Master of the Lodge to which it belonged; but, in 1730, the Duke of Norfolk, being then Grand Master, presented to the Grand Lodge the sword of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, which had afterwards been used in war by Bernard, Duke of Saxe Weimar, and which the Grand Master directed should thereafter be adopted as his sword of state. In consequence of this donation, the office of Grand Sword-Bearer was instituted in the following year. The office is still retained; but some Grand Lodges have changed the name to that of _Grand Pursuivant_.

Section XI.

_Of the Grand Tiler._

It is evident from the Constitutions of Masonry, as well as from the peculiar character of the institution, that the office of Grand Tiler must have existed from the very first organization of a Grand Lodge. As, from the nature of the duties that he has to perform, the Grand Tiler is necessarily excluded from partaking of the discussions, or witnessing the proceedings of the Grand Lodge, it has very generally been determined, from a principle of expediency, that he shall not be a member of the Grand Lodge during the term of his office.

The Grand Tiler is sometimes elected by the Grand Lodge, and sometimes appointed by the Grand Master.

Chapter V.

Of the Powers and Prerogatives of a Grand Lodge.

Section I.

_General View._

The necessary and usual officers of a Grand Lodge having been described, the rights, powers, and prerogatives of such a body is the next subject of our inquiry.

The foundation-stone, upon which the whole superstructure of masonic authority in the Grand Lodge is built, is to be found in that conditional clause annexed to the thirty-eight articles, adopted in 1721 by the Masons of England, and which is in these words:

“Every annual Grand Lodge has an inherent power and authority to make new regulations, or to alter these for the real benefit of this ancient fraternity; PROVIDED ALWAYS THAT THE OLD LANDMARKS BE CAREFULLY PRESERVED; and that such alterations and new regulations be proposed and agreed to at the third quarterly communication preceding the annual Grand Feast; and that they be offered also to the perusal of all the Brethren before dinner, 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.”

The expression which is put in capitals–“provided always that the old landmarks be carefully preserved”–is the limiting clause which must be steadily borne in mind, whenever we attempt to enumerate the powers of a Grand Lodge. It must never be forgotten (in the words of another regulation, adopted in 1723, and incorporated in the ritual of installation), that “it is not in the power of any man, or body of men, to make any alteration or innovation in the body of Masonry.”

“With these views to limit us, the powers of a Grand Lodge may be enumerated in the language which has been adopted in the modern constitutions of England, and which seem to us, after a careful comparison, to be as comprehensive and correct as any that we have been able to examine. This enumeration is in the following language:

“In the Grand Lodge, alone, resides the power of enacting laws and regulations for the permanent government of the craft, and of altering, repealing, and abrogating them, always taking care that the ancient landmarks of the order are preserved. The Grand Lodge has also the inherent power of investigating, regulating, and deciding all matters relative to the craft, or to particular lodges, or to individual Brothers, which it may exercise either of itself, or by such delegated authority, as in its wisdom and discretion it may appoint; but 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 in England.”

In this enumeration we discover the existence of three distinct classes of powers:–1, a legislative power; 2, a judicial power; and 3, an executive power. Each of these will occupy a separate section.

Section II.

_Of the Legislative Power of a Grand Lodge._

In the passage already quoted from the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of England it is said, “in the Grand Lodge, alone, resides the power of enacting laws and regulations for the government of the craft, and of altering, repealing, and abrogating them.” General regulations for the government of the whole craft throughout the world can no longer be enacted by a Grand Lodge. The multiplication of these bodies, since the year 1717, has so divided the supremacy that no regulation now enacted can have the force and authority of those adopted by the Grand Lodge of England in 1721, and which now constitute a part of the fundamental law of Masonry, and as such are unchangeable by any modern Grand Lodge.

Any Grand Lodge may, however, enact local laws for the direction of its own special affairs, and has also the prerogative of enacting the regulations which are to govern all its subordinates and the craft generally in its own jurisdiction. From this legislative power, which belongs exclusively to the Grand Lodge, it follows that no subordinate lodge can make any new bye-laws, nor alter its old ones, without the approval and confirmation of the Grand Lodge. Hence, the rules and regulations of every lodge are inoperative until they are submitted to and approved by the Grand Lodge. The confirmation of that body is the enacting clause; and, therefore, strictly speaking, it may be said that the subordinates only propose the bye-laws, and the Grand Lodge enacts them.

Section III.

_Of the Judicial Power of a Grand Lodge._

The passage already quoted from the English Constitutions continues to say, that “the Grand Lodge has the inherent power of investigating, regulating and deciding all matters relative to the craft, or to particular lodges, or to individual Brothers, which it may exercise, either of itself, or by such delegated authority as in its wisdom and discretion it may appoint.” Under the first clause of this section, the Grand Lodge is constituted as the Supreme Masonic Tribunal of its jurisdiction. But as it would be impossible for that body to investigate every masonic offense that occurs within its territorial limits, with that full and considerate attention that the principles of justice require, it has, under the latter clause of the section, delegated this duty, in general, to the subordinate lodges, who are to act as its committees, and to report the results of their inquiry for its final disposition. From this course of action has risen the erroneous opinion of some persons, that the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge is only appellate in its character. Such is not the case. The Grand Lodge possesses an original jurisdiction over all causes occurring within its limits. It is only for expediency that it remits the examination of the merits of any case to a subordinate lodge as a _quasi_ committee. It may, if it thinks proper, commence the investigation of any matter concerning either a lodge, or an individual brother within its own bosom, and whenever an appeal from the decision of a lodge is made, which, in reality, is only a dissent from the report of the lodge, the Grand Lodge does actually recommence the investigation _de novo_, and, taking the matter out of the lodge, to whom by its general usage it had been primarily referred, it places it in the hands of another committee of its own body for a new report. The course of action is, it is true, similar to that in law, of an appeal from an inferior to a superior tribunal. But the principle is different. The Grand Lodge simply confirms or rejects the report that has been made to it, and it may do that without any appeal having been entered. It may, in fact, dispense with the necessity of an investigation by and report from a subordinate lodge altogether, and undertake the trial itself from the very inception. But this, though a constitutional, is an unusual course. The subordinate lodge is the instrument which the Grand Lodge employs in considering the investigation. It may or it may not make use of the instrument, as it pleases.

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 landmarks_.

Book Second

Laws of Subordinate Lodges.

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.

Chapter I.

Of 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 that method.

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 dispensasation 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 constitution granted.

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 Brethren.”

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. Orthoepists 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[29] having been placed in the centre of the room and decently covered with a piece of white linen or satin. 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 permitted.

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.[30] 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[31] 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.

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 doings.”

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.

The 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.”[32] 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 governed.

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 constitutional.”

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 subordinates.

Chapter II.

Of 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.”[33]

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 place.

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