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Preston Illustrations of Masonry- Book 2 General Remarks

Section 1 - General Remarks.

Section 2 - The Ceremony of Opening and Closing A Lodge

Section 3 - Remarks on the First Lecture.

Section 4 - Remarks on the Second Lecture.

Section 5 - Remarks on the Third Lecture

Section 6 - Of the Ancient Ceremonies of the Order

Section. 2 - The Ceremony of Opening and Closing A Lodge

In regular assemblies of men, convened for wise and useful purposes, the commencement and conclusion of business are accompanied with some form. In every country of the world the practice prevails, and is deemed essential. From the most remote periods of antiquity it is traced, and the refined improvements of modern items have not abolished it.

Ceremonies, simply considered, are little more than visionary delusions; but their effects are sometimes important. - When they impress awe and reverence on the mind, and engage attention, by external attraction, to solemn rites, they are interesting objects. There purposes are effected when judicious ceremonies are regularly conducted an properly arranged. On this ground they have received the sanction of the wisest of men in all ages, and consequently could not escape the notice of Masons. To begin well, is the most likely means to end well: and it is justly remarked, that when order and method are neglected at the beginning, they will be seldom found to take place at the end.

The ceremony of opening and closing a Lodge with solemnity and decorum is there universally adopted among masons; and though the mode in some lodges may vary, still an uniformity in the general practice prevails in every lodge; and the variation (if any) is solely occasioned by a want of method, which a little application might easily remove.

To conduct this ceremony with propriety, ought to be the peculiar study of every Mason; especially of those who have the honour to rule in our assemblies. To persons thus dignified, every eye is directed for propriety of conduct and behaviour; and from them, other brethren, less informed, will naturally expect to derive example worthy of imitation.

From a share in this ceremony no mason is exempted. It is a general concern, in which all must assist. This is the first request of the Master, and the prelude to business. no sooner has it been signified, than every officer repairs to his station, and the brethren rank according to their degrees. The intent of the meeting becomes the object of attention, and the mind is insensibly drawn from those indiscriminate subjects of conversation which are apt to intrude on our less serious moments.

Our care is first directed to the external avenues of the lodge, and the proper officers whose province it is to discharge that duty, execute the trust with fidelity. By certain mystic forms. of no recent date, they intimate that we may safely proceed. To detect impostors among ourselves, an adherence to order in the character of masons ensues, and the lodge is opened or closed in solemn form.

At opening the lodge two purposes are effected; the Master is reminded of the dignity of his character, the brethren of the homage and veneration due from them in the sundry stations. These are not the only advantages resulting from due observance of the ceremony; a reverential awe for the Deity is inculcated, and the eye fixed on that object from whose radiant beams light only can be derived. Hence in this ceremony we are taught to adore God of Heaven, and to supplicate his protection on our well-meant endeavours. Thus the Master assumes his government in due form, and under him his Wardens; who accept their trust, after the customary salutations, as disciples of one general patron. After which the brethren, with one accord, unite in duty and respect, and the ceremony concludes.

At closing the lodge, a similar form takes place. here the less important duties of masonry are not passed over unobserved. the necessary degree of subordination, which takes place in the government of a lodge is peculiarly marked, while the proper tribute of gratitude is offered up to the beneficent Author of life and his blessing invoked, and extended to the whole fraternity. Each brother faithfully locks up the treasure which he has acquired in his own repository, and , pleased with his reward, retires, to enjoy, and disseminate, among the private circle of his friends, the fruits of his labour and industry in the lodge.

There are faint outlines of a ceremony which universally prevails among masons in every county, and distinguishes all their meetings . Hence it is arranged as a general section in every degree, and takes the lead in all our illustrations.

A Prayer used at opening the Lodge

May the favour of Heaven be upon this meeting and as it is happily begun, may it be conducted with order, and closed with harmony.


A Prayer used at closing the Lodge

May the blessing of Heaven rest upon us, and all regular masons! May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue cement us!


Charges and Regulations for the conduct and behaviour of Masons.

A rehearsal of the Ancient Charges properly succeed the opining and precede the closing of a lodge. This was the constant practice of our ancient brethren and ought never to be neglected in our regular assemblies. A recapitulation of our duty cannot be disagreeable to those who are aquatinted with it; and to those to whom it is not known, should any such be, it must be highly proper to recommend it.

Ancient Charges

(to be rehearsed at opening the Lodge)

On the Management of the Craft in working.

Masons employ themselves diligently in their sundry vocations, live creditably, and conform with cheerfulness to the government of the county in which they reside.

The most expert craftsman is chosen or appointed Master of the work, and is duly honoured in that character by those over whom he presides.

The Master, knowing himself qualified, undertakes the government of the lodge, and truly dispenses his rewards, according to merit.

A craftsman who is appointed Warden of the work under the Master, is true to the Master and fellows, carefully oversees the work, and the brethren obey him.

The Master, Wardens and brethren are just and faithful, and carefully finish the work they begin, whether it be in the first or second degree; but never put that work to the first, which has been appropriated to the second degree.

Neither envy nor censure is discovered among masons. No brother is supplanted, or put out of his work, if he is capable to finish it; for he who is not perfectly skilled in the original design, can never with equal advantage to the Master finish the work begun by another.

All employed in Masonry meekly receive their reward, and use no disobling name. Brother or Fellow are the appellations they bestow on each other. they behave courteously within and without the lodge, and never desert the Master till the work is finished.

Laws for the Government of the Lodge

(To be rehearsed at opening the Lodge)

You are to salute one another in a courteous manner, agreeably to the forms established among masons [In a lodge, masons meet as members of the same family, and representative for the time being of all the brethren throughout the world; all prejudices, therefore, on account of religion, country, or private opinion are removed.] you are freely to give such mutual instructions as shall be thought, necessary or expedient, not being overkeen or overhead, without encroaching upon each other, derogating from that respect which is due to a gentleman were he not a mason; for thought as mason we rank as brethren on a level, yet masonry deprives no man of the honour due to his rank or character, but rather adds to his honour, especially if he has deserved well of the fraternity, who always render honour to whom it is due, and avoid ill-manners.

No private committees are to be allowed, or separate conversations encouraged; the Master or Wardens are not to be interrupted, or any brother who is speaking to the Master; but a due respect paid to the Master, and presiding officers.

These laws are to be strictly enforced, that harmony may be preserved, and the business of the lodge carried on with order and regularity.

Amen. So mote it be.

Charge on the Behaviour of Masons

(To be rehearsed at closing the Lodge)

When the Lodge is closed, you are to enjoy yourselves with innocent mirth and carefully to avoid excess. You are not to compel any brother to act contrary to his inclination, or to give offence by word or deed, but enjoy a free and easy conversation. You are to avoid immoral and obscene discourse, and at all time support with propriety the dignity of you character.

You are to be cautious in your words and carriage, that the most penetrating stranger may not discover, or find, what is not proper to be intimated; and if necessary, you are to wave a discourse, and manage it prudently, for the honour of the fraternity.

At home. and in your several neighbourhoods, you are to behave as wise and moral men. You are never to communicate to your families, friends or acquaintances, the private transactions of our different assemblies; but upon every occasion to consult your honour, and the reputation of the fraternity at large.

You are to study the preservation of health, by avoiding irregularity and intemperance, that your families may not be neglected and injured your selves disabled from attending to you necessary employments in life.

If a stranger apply in the character of a Mason, you are cautiously to examine him in such a method as prudence may direct, and agreeably to the forms established among masons; that you may not be imposed upon by an ignorant false pretender, whom you are to reject with contempt [This injunction may seem uncharitable; but when it is considered that the secrets of Masonry are open to all men of probity and honour well recommended, an illegal intruder, who could wish to obtain that to which he has no claim, in order to deprive the public charity of a small pittance at his admission can deserve no better treatment.], and beware of giving him any secret hints of knowledge. But if you discover him to be a true and genuine brother, you are to respect him; if he be in want, you are without prejudice to relieve him, or direct him how he may be relieved; you are to employ him, or recommend him to employment: however, you are never charged to do beyond you ability only to prefer a poor mason, who is a good man and true, before any other person in the same circumstances [On this principle, unfortunate captives in war, and sojourners accidentally cast on a distant shore, are particular objects of attention, and seldom, fail to experience indulgence from masons, and it is very remarkable, there is not an influence on record of a breach of fidelity or ingratitude where that indulgence has been extended.]

Finally; These rules you are always to observe and enforce, and also the duties which have been communicated in the lecture; cultivating brotherly love, the foundation and capstone, the cement and glory of this ancient fraternity; avoiding, upon every occasion, wrangling and quarrelling, slandering and backbiting; not permitting others to slander honest brethren, but defending their characters, and doing them good offices, as far as amy be consistent with your honour and safety, but no farther. Hence all may see the benign influence of masonry, as all true masons have done from the beginning of the world, and will do to the end of time.

Amen. So mote it be.

Home Lectures of the Craft Lectures of the Holy Royal Arch Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite The Royal Order of Scotland York Rite Side Degrees English Knights Templar Order of Women Freemasons Walter Leslie Wilmshurst Preston Illustrations of Masonry Masonic Tutor Support

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