Help Me Maintain OUR Website!!!!!!
CHARGES OF A FREEMASON.
These Charges or Regulations, published in1723, have been adopted by various Grand Lodges and made a part of theit Constitutions:
THE CHARGES OF A FREE MASON.
The Ancient Records of Lodges beyond Sea, and of those
in England, Scotland, and Ireland, for the use
of the Lodges in London :
'To be read
AT THE MAKING OF NEW BRETHREN OR WHEN THE MASTER SHALL ORDER IT.
The General Heads, Viz. :
ii OF THE CIVIL MAGISTRATE SUPREME AND SUBORDINATE
iii OF LODGES
iv OF MASTERS, WARDENS, FELLOWS, AND APPRENTICES
v OF THE MANAGEMENT OF THE CRAFT IN WORKING
vi OF BEHAVIOUR
2 Behaviour after the Lodge is over
3 Behaviour when Brethren meet without Strangers,
4 Behaviour in presenCe of Strangers not Masons.
5 Behaviour at Home, and in your Neighbourhood.
6 Behaviour towards a strange Brother.
i CONCERNING GOD AND RELIGION
A Mason is oblig'd bjv his Tenure, to obey the moral law ; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid ATHEIST, nor an irreligious LIBERTINE.
But though in ancient Times Masons were charged in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet 't is now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be .good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguish'd ; whereby M asonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remain'd at a perpetual Distance.
ii. OF THE CIVIL MAGISTRATE SUPREME AND SUBORDINATE
A Mason is a Peaceable Subject to the Civil Powers, wherever he resides or works, and is never to be concern'd in plots and Conspiracies against the Peace and welfare of the Nation, nor to behave himself undutifuliy to inferior Magistrates ; for as Masonry hath been always injured by W'ar, Bloodshed and Confusion, so ancient Kings and Princes have been much dispos'd to encourage the Craftsmen, because of their Peaceableness and Loyalty, whereby they practically, answer'd the Cavils of their Adversaries, and promoted the Honour of the Fratemity, who ever flourish'd in Times of Peace. So that if a Brother should be Rebel against the State, he is not tc be countenanc'd in his Rebellion, however he may be pitied as an unhappy Man ; and if Convieted of no other Crime, though the Royal Brotherhood must and ought to disown his Rebellion, and give no Umbrage or Ground of Political Jealousy to the Govemment for the time being, they can not expel him from the Lodge, and his relation to it remains indefeasible.
iii. OF LODGES
A Lodge is a Place where members assemble and work ; Hence that Assembly, or duly organiz'd Society of Masons, is call'd a Lodge and every Brother ought to belong to one, and to be subject to its By-Laws and the General Regulations.
It is either particular or general, and will be best understood by attending it, and by the Regulations of the General or Grand Lodge hereunto annex'd.
In ancient Times, no Master or Fellow could be absent from it, especially when wam'd to appear at it, without incurring a severe Censure, until it appear'd to the Master and Wardens, that pure Necessity hinder'd him.
The Persons admitted Members of a Lodge must be good and true Men, free-born and of mature and discreet Age, no Bondmen, no Women, no immoral or scandalous Men, but of good Report.
iv. OF MASTERS, WARDENS, FELLOWS, AND APPRENTICES
All preferment among Masons is grounded upon real Worth and Personal Merit only; that tto the Lords may be well served, the Brethren not put to Shame, nor the Royal Craft despis'd : Therefore no Master or Warden is chosen by Seniority, but for his Merit. It is impossible to describe these things in writing, and every Brother must attend in his Place, and learn them in a way peculiar to the Fraternity : Only Candidates may know, that no Master should take an Apprentice, unless he has sulficient Imployment for him, and unless he be a perfect Youth, having no Maim or Defect in his body, that may render him uncapable of learning the Art, of serving his Master's Lord, and of being made a Brother, and then a Fellow-Craft in due time, even after he has served such a Term of Years, as the Custom of the Country directs; and that he should be descended of honest Parents; that so, when otherwise qualify'd, he may arrive to the Honour of being the Warden, and then the Master of the Lodge, the Grand Warden, and at length the Grand-Master of all the Lodges, according to his Merit.
No Brother can be a Warden until he has pass'd the part of a Fellow-Craft; nor a Master until he has acted as a Warden, nor Grand Warden until he has been Master of a Lodge, nor Grand Master unless he has been a Fellow-Craft before his election, who is also to be nobly-born, or a Gentleman of the best Fashion, or some eminent Scholar, or some curious Architect, or other Artist, descended of honest Parents, and who is of singular great Merit in the Opinion of the Lodges.
And for the better, and easier, and more honourable discharge of his Office, the Grand-Master has a Power to chuse his Deputv Grand-Master, who must be then, or must have been formerly, the Master of a particular Lodge, and has the Privilege of acting whatever the Grand Master, his Principal, should act, unless the said Principal be present, or interpose his Authority by a Letter.
These Rulers and Governors, Supreme and Subordin ate, of the ancient Lodge, are to be obey'd in their respective Stations by all the Brethren, according to the old Charges and Regulations, with all Humility, Reverence, Love and Alacrity.
v. OF THE MANAGEMENT OF THE CRAFT IN WORKING
All Masons shall work honestly on working Days, that they mav live creditably on Holy Days; and the time appointed by the Laiw of the Land, or confirm'd by Custom, shall be observ'd.
The most expert of the Fellow-Craftsmen shall be chosen or appointed the Master or Overseer of the Lord's Work; who is to be call'd Master by those that work under him. The Craftsmen are to avoid all ill Language, and to call each other by no disobliging Name, but Brother or Fellow; and to behave themselves courteously within and without the Lodge.
The Master, knowing himself to be able of Cunning, shall undertake the Lord's Work as reasonablv as possible, and truly dispend his Goods as if they were his own ; nor to give more Wages to any Brother or Apprentice than he really may deserve.
Both the Master and Masons receiving their Wages justly, shall be faithful to the Lord, and honestly finish their Work, whether Task or Journey ; nor put the Work to Task that hath been accustom'd to Journey.
None shall discover Envy at the Prosperity of a Brother, nor supplant him, or put him out of his Work, if he be capable to finish the same ; for no Man can finish another's Work so much to the Lord's Profit, unless he be thoroughly acquainted with the Designs and Draughts of him that began it.
When a Fellow-Craftsman is chosen Warden of the Work under the Master, he shall be true both to Master and Fellows, shall carefully oversee the Work in the Master's Absence to the Lord's Profit; and his Brethren shall obey him.
All Masons employ'd shall meekly receive their Wages without murmuring or Mutiny, and not desert the Master till the work is finish'd.
A younlger Brother shall be instructed in working, to prevent spoiling the Materials for want of Judgment, and for encreasing and continuing of Brotherly Love.
All the Tools used in working shall be approved by the Grand Lodge.
No Labourer shall be employ'd in the proper work of Masonry; nor shall Free Masons work with those that are not free, without an urgent Necessity; nor shall they teach Labourers and unaccepted Masons, as they should teach a Brother or Fellow.
vi. OF BEHAVIOUR
2 Behaviour after the Lodge is over
3 Behaviour when Brethren meet without Strangers,
4 Behaviour in presenCe of Strangers not Masons.
5 Behaviour at Home, and in your Neighbourhood.
6 Behaviour towards a strange Brother.
1. In the Lodge while constituted.
You are not to hold private Committees, or separate Conversation, without Leave from the Master, nor to talk of any thing impertinent or unseemly, nor interrupt the Master or Wardens, or any Brother speaking to the Master; nor behave yourself ludicrously or jestingly while the Lodge is engaged in what is serious and solemn ; nor use any unbecoming Language upon any Pretence whatsoever; but to pay due Reverence to your Master, Wardens, and Fellows, and put them to worship.
If any Complaint be brought, the Brother found guilty shall stand to the Award and Determination of the Lodge, who are the proper and competent Judges of all such Controversies, (unless you carry it by Appeal to the Grand Lodge,) and to whom they ought to be referr'd unless a Lord's Work be hinder'd the mean while, in which case a particular Reference may be made ; but you must never go to Law about what concerneth Masonry, without an absolute Necessity apparent to the Lodge.
2. Behaviour after the Lodge is over and the Brethren not gone.
You may enjoy yourselves with innocent Mirth, treating one another according to Ability, but avoiding all Excess, or forcing any Brother to eat or drink beyond his Inclination, or hindering him from going when his Occasions call him, or doing or saying anything offensive, or that may forbid an easy and free Conversation; for that would blast our Harmony, and defeat our Laudable Purposes.
Therefore no private Piques or Quarrels must be brought within the Door of the Lodge, far less any Quarrels about Religion, or Nations, or State Policy, we being only, as Masons of the Catholick Religion abovemention'd ; we are also of all Nations, Tongues, Kindreds, and Languages, and are resolv'd against all Politicks, as what never yet conduc'd to the Welfare of the Lodge, nor ever will.
This charge has been always strictly enjoin'd and observ'd, but especially ever since the Reformation in Britain, or the Dissent and Secession of these Nations from the Communion of Rome.
3. Behaviour when Brethren meet without Strangers, but not in a Lodge form'd.
You are to salute one another in a courteous manner. as you will be instructed, calling each other Brother.
freely giving mutual Instruction as shall be thought expedient, without being overseen or overheard, and without encroaching upon each other or derogating from that Respect which is due to any Brother, were he not a Mason : For though all Masons are an Brethren upon the same Level, yet Masonry takes no Honour from a Man that he had before; nay rather it adds to his Honour, especially if he has deserv'd well of the Brotherhood, who must give Honour to whom it is due, and avoid ill manners.
4. Behaviour in presence of Strangers not Masons.
You shall be cautious in your Words and Carriage, that the most penetrating Stranger shall not be able to discover or find out what is not proper to be intimated ; and sometimes you shall divert a discourse, and manage it prudently for the Honour of the worshipful Fraternity.
5. Behaviour at Home, and in your Neighbourhood.
You are to act as becomes a moral and wise Man ; particularly, not to let your Family, Friends, and Neighbours know the Concerns of the Lodge, &c., but wisly to consult your own Honour, and that of the ancient Brotherhood, for Reasons not to be mention'd here.
You must also consult your health, by not continuing together too late, or too long from home, after Lodge Hours are past; and by avoiding of Gluttony or Drunkenness, that your Families be not neglected or injured, nor you disabled from working.
6. Behaviour towards a strange Brother.
You are cautiously to examine him, in such a method as prudence shall direct you, that you may not be impos'd upon by an ignorant false Pretender, whom you are to reject with Contempt and Derision, and beware of giving him any Hints of Knowledge.
But if you discover him to be a true and Genuine Brother, you are to respect him accordingly; and if he is in want, you must relievve him if you can, or else direct him how he may be reliev'd.
You must employ him some Days, or else recommend him to be employ'd.
But you are not charged to do beyond your Ability, only to prefer a poor Brother, that is a good Man and true, before any other poor People in the same Circumstances.
Finally, all these Charges you are to observe, and also those that shall be communicated to you in another way ; cultivating Brotherly-Love, the foundation and Capestone, the Cement and Glory of this ancient Fraternity, avoiding all Wrangling and Quarreling, all Slander and Backbiting, nor permitting others to slander any honest Brother, but defending his Character, and doing him all good offices, as far as is consistent with your Honour and Safety, and no farther.
And if any of them do you Injury, you must apply to your own or his Lodge ; and from thence you may appeal to the Grand Lodge at the Quarterly Communication, and from thence to the annual Grand Lodge ; as has been the ancient laudable Conduct of our Forefathers in every Nation; never taking a legal Course but when the Case cannot be otherwise decided, and patiently listning to the honest and friendly Advice of Master and Fellows, when they would prevent you going to Law with Strangers, or would excite you to put a speedy Period to all Law Suits, that so you may mind the Affair of Masonry with the more Alacrity and Success ; but with respect to Brothers or Fellows at Law, the Master and Brethren should kindly offer their Mediation, which ought to be thankfully submitted to by the contending Brethren, and if that submission is impracticable, they must however carry on their Process, or Law-suit, without Wrath and Rancor (not in the common way), saying or doing nothing which may hinder Brotherly Love, and good Offices to be renew'd and condu'd; that 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.
CHARGES OF 1722.
The . Fraternity had long been in possession of many records, containing the ancient regulations of the Order; when, in 1722, the Duke of Montague being Grand Master of England, the Grand Lodge finding fault with their antiquated arrangement, it was directed that they should be collected, and after being properly digested, be annexed to the Book of Constitutions, then in course of publication under the superintendence of Dr. James Anderson.
This was accordingly done, and the document now well known under the title of The Old Charges of the Free and Accepted Masons, constitutes, by universal consent, a part of the fundamental law of our Order.
The charges are divided into six general heads of duty, as follows:
2. Of the civil magistrate, supreme and subordinate.
3. Of Lodges.
4. Of Masters, Wardens, Fellows, and Apprentices.
5. Of the management of the Craft in working.
6. Of behavior under different circumetances and in various conditions.
The Freemasons' Constitutions are old records, containing a history, very often some-what apocryphal, that is of doubtful authority, of the origin and progress of Freemasonry, and regulations for the government of the Craft. These regulations are called Charges, and are generally the same in substance, although the differ in number, in the different documents.
These charges are divided into Articles and Points; although it would be difficult to say in what the one section differs in character from the other, as each details the rules which should govern a Freemason in his conduct toward his Lord, or employer, and to his Brother workmen.
The oldest of these charges is to be found in the York Constitutions, if they are authentic, and consists of Fifteen Articles and Fifteen Points.
It was required by the Constitutions of the time of Edward III, ''that, for the future, at the making or admission of a brother, the constitutions and charges should be read."
This regulation is still preserved in form, in modern Lodges, by the reading of the charge by the Master to a candidate at the close of the ceremony of his reception into a degree (for a list of the Old Charges, see Manuscripts, Old).
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing" (First Corinthians xiii,1-2).
Such was the language of an eminent apostle of the Christian church, and such is the sentiment that constitutes the cementing bond of Freemasonry. The apostle, in comparing it with faith and hope, calls it the greatest of the three, and hence in Freemasonry it is made the topmost round of its mystic ladder.
We must not fall into the too common error that charity is only that sentiment of commiseration which leads us to assist the poor with pecuniary donations.
Its Masonic, as well as its Christian application, is more noble and more extensive.
The word used by the apostle is, in the original, love, a word denoting that kindly state of mind which renders a person full of good-will and affectionate regard toward others.
John Wesley expressed his regret that the Greek had not been correctly translated as love instead of charity, so that the apostolic triad of virtues would have been, not "faith, hope, and charity," but "faith, hope, and love."
Then would we have understood the comparison made by Saint Paul, when he said, "Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing."
Guided by this sentiment, the true Freemason will "suffer long and be kind."
He will be slow to anger and easy to forgive.
He will stay his falling Brother by gentle admonition, and warn him with kindness of approaching danger, He will not open his ear to the slanderers, and will slose his lips against all reproaeh.
His faults and his follies will be locked in his breast, and the prayer for mercy will ascend to Jehovah for his Brother's sins.
Nor will these sentiments of benevulence be confined to those who are bound to him by ties of kindred or worldly friendship alone; but, extending them throughout. the globe, he will love and cherish all who sit beneath the broad canopy of our universal Lodge.
For it is the boast of our Institution, that a Freemason, destitute and worthy, may. find in every clime a Brother, and in every land a home.
Colonel Edward M L. Ehlers, a soldier of the Civil War in which he was severely wounded, was subsequently and at his death the Grand Secretary of New York.
To his courtesy and promptness the Revisor of this work is much indebted for many favors and there is a distinct satisfaction in submitting here one of the eloquent addresses to initiates that so often heartened his hearers (see Definitions of Freemasonry).
My Brother: With this right hand I welcome you to the fellowship of our Lodge and to the ranks of our ancient and honorable Fraternity whose cornerstone is Charity.
Charity is the brightest jewel in the Masonic crown.
Charity is the Corinthian pillar whose entablature adds strength, beauty and grace to the Masonic fabric.
Charity is the radiant spark emanating from God, the inexhaustible source of love.
If we attempt to eulogize its charms, the cooler powers of the mind melt into ecstasy, the heart is at empire, and every discordant passion bows before its lenient sovereignty.
Not the Charity circumscribed by the narrow limits of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, binding up the wounds of the afflicted, but that broader nobler Charity that regards all men as Brothers.
The Charity that is swift of foot, ready of hand, in the cause of a common humanity.
The Charity that writes a Brother's vices in water and his virtues in enduring brass.
The Charity of which He who spake as never man spake was the illustrious exemplar.
Let this, the Mason's Charity, burn upon the altar of your heart a living fire.
This Charity whose superstructure is friendship, morality, brotherly love; whose capstone is holiness to the Lord. Liturgies and creeds, articles of faith and rules of discipline, stain the rubric pages of history, and speculative points of doctrine have occasioned more misery in the world than all the crimes for which nations have been punished and recalled to their duty.
We arraign no man's political opinions, nor do we interfere with his religious creed.
To himself and his country we leave the one, and to his conscience and his God we commit the other. To the altar of Masonry all men bring their votive offerings. Around it all men, whether they have received their teachings from Confucius, Moses, Zoroaster, Mahomet, or the Founder of the Christian religion; if they believe in the universality of the Fatherhood of God and of the universality of the brotherhood of man, here meet on a common level.
The rich man, the poor man, the sovereign, the subject, are lost in the common Brother.
The Christian returns to his Temple, the Jew to his Synagogue, the Mohammedan to his Mosque, each better prepared to perform the duties of life by the association of this universal brotherhood.
It is to this Institution, born of heaven in the gray of the world's morning, before poets sang or historians wrote, that I am privileged to accord you a Craftsman's greeting.
And I charge you, by the noblest instincts of your manhood, by all that you are and revere, by the ties that bind you to earth, by your hope of heaven, so to live and so to act that your Masonic life may be an open book known and read of all men.
Finally, my Brother, I do assure you that whatever good you do is but duty done.
If a sorrow you have lightened or a tear wipe‚ away, if of poverty"s load you have taken a share from some weary burdened soul, if you have lifted a cup of cold water to the lips of a famishing mortal, then to far have you illustrated the divine teachings of Masonry, then in so far have you done as the Master commanded.
May He, without whose knowledge not even a sparrow falls, bless your felinwship in our Lodge, and to His great name shall be all the praise.
[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership
Development] [Education] [Masonic
This site is not an official site of any recognized Masonic body in the United
States or elsewhere.
Last modified: March 22, 2014