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Charges And Regulations For The Conduct And Behavior Of Masons
Thomas Smith Webb
Arehearsal 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 can not 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 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.
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 due 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 honor due to his rank or character, but rather adds to his honor, especially if he has deserved well of the Fraternity, who always render honor 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 speaking to the master; but due decorum is to be observed, and the 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.
On the Behavior of Masons out of the Lodge.
When the Lodge is closed, you may enjoy yourselves with innocent mirth; but you are carefully to avoid excess. You are not to compel any brother to act contrary to his own inclination, or give offense by word or deed, but enjoy a free and easy conversation. You are to use no immoral or obscene discourse, but at all times support with propriety the dignity of your character.
You are to be cautious in your words and carriage, that the most penetrating stranger may not discover, or find out, what is not proper to be intimated; and, if necessary, you are to wave a discourse, and manage it prudently, for the honor of the Fraternity.
At home, and in your several neighborhoods, you are to behave as wise and moral men. You are never to communicate to your families, friends, or acquaintance, the private transactions of our different assemblies; but upon every occasion to consult your own honor 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, or yourselves disabled from attending to your 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; 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 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 your ability; only to prefer a poor brother, who is a good man and true, before any other person in the same circumstances.
Finally: These rules you are always to observe and enforce, and also the duties which have been communicated in the lectures; cultivating brotherly love, the foundation and cap-stone, the cement and glory of this ancient Fraternity; avoiding, upon every occasion, wrangling and quarreling, slandering and backbiting; not permitting others to slander honest brethren, but defending their characters, and doing them good offices as far as may be consistent with your honor and safety, but no further. 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.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014