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character of masons ensues, and the lodge is either opened or closed in solemn form.
At opening the lodge, two purposes are wisely effected: the master is reminded of the dignity of his character, and the brethren of the homage and veneration due from them in their sundry stations. These are not the only advantages resulting from a due observance of this 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. Here we are taught to adore the God of Heaven, and to supplicate his protection on our well meant endeavours. The master assumes his government in due form, and under him his wardens; who accept their trust, after the customary salutations. The brethren then, 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 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 he has acquired, in his own secret repository; and, pleased with his reward, retires
to enjoy and disseminate among the private circle of his brethren, the fruits of his labour and industry in the lodge.
These are faint outlines of a ceremony which universally prevails among masons in every country, and distinguishes all their meetings. It is arranged as a general section in every degree, and takes the lead in all our illustrations.
Charge used at Opening a Lodge.
"Behold! how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
"It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down to the skirts of his garment;
"As the dew of Hermon, that descended upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded a blessing, even life for evermore."
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! Amen.
Charges and Regulations for the Conduct and Behaviour of Masons.
A REHEARSAL of the ancient charges properly succeeds the opening, and precedes 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 acquainted with it; and to those who know it not, should any such be, it must be highly proper to recommend it.
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 country in which they reside.
[The most expert craftsman is chosen or appointed master of the work, and is duly honoured by those over whom he presides.
The master, knowing himself qualified, undertakes the government of the lodge, and truly dispenses his rewards, giving to every brother the approbation which he merits.
[A craftsman who is appointed warden of the work under the master, is true to master and fellows, carefully oversees the work, and his brethren obey him.]
The master, wardens and brethren receive their rewards justly, are 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 accustomed to the second degree, nor that to the second or first, which has been accustomed to the third.
Neither envy nor censure is discovered among true masons. No brother is supplanted, or put out of his work, if he be capable to finish it; as no man who is not perfectly skilled in the original design, can, with equal advantage to the - master, finish the work begun by another.
All employed in masonry, meekly receive their rewards, and use no disobliging name. Brother or fellow are the terms or 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.
You are to salute one another in a courteous manner, agreeably to the forms established among
masons;* you are freely to give such mutual instructions as shall be thought necessary or expedient, not being overseen or overheard, without encroaching upon each other, or derogating from that respect which is to any gentleman were he not a mason; for though, as masons, 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 ren der honour to whom it is due, and avoid ill man
No private committees are to be allowed, or separate conversations encouraged; the master or wardens are not to be interrupted, or any brother speaking to the master; but due decorum is to be observed, and a proper 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 be carried on with order and regularity. Amen. So mote it be.
*In a lodge, masons meet as members of one family; all prejudices, therefore, on account of religion, country, or private opinion, are removed.