The Ceremony of Opening and Closing the Lodge
In all regular assemblies of men which are convened for wise
and useful purposes, the commencement and conclusion of business
is 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 times 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 attract the attention
to solemn rites by external forms, they are interesting objects.
These purposes are effected when judicious ceremonies are regularly
conducted and properly arranged. On this ground they have received
the sanction of the wisest 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 the lodge with solemnity
and decorum is therefore universally adopted among Masons; and
though the mode in some meetings may vary, and in every Degree
must vary, still a uniformity in the general practice prevails
in the lodge; and the variation (if any) is solely occasioned
by a want of method, which a little application will easily remove.
To conduct this ceremony with propriety, ought to be the peculiar
study of every Mason, especially of those who have the honor to
rule in our assemblies. To persons who are thus dignified, every
eye is directed for regularity of conduct and behavior; and by
their example, other brethren, less informed, may naturally expect
to derive instruction.
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 the indiscriminate subjects of conversation which are
apt to intrude on our less serious moments.
Our first care is 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, it is intimated 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, and the brethren
of the homage and veneration due to him in their sundry stations.
These are not the only advantages resulting from a due observance
of the ceremony; a reverential awe for the Deity is inculcated,
and the eye is fixed on that object from whose radiant beams alone
light can be derived. Hence, in this ceremony, we are taught to
adore God, and supplicate his protection on our well-meant endeavors.
The Master assumes his government in due form, and under him his
Wardens; who accept their trust, after the customary salutations.
Then 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 the Order are not passed unobserved.
The necessary degree of subordination which takes place in the
government of the lodge is peculiarly marked, while the proper
tribute of gratitude is offered up to the beneficent Author of
life, whose blessing is invoked, and extended to the whole fraternity.
Each brother then 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 labor and industry in the lodge.
These are faint outlines of a ceremony which universally prevails
among Masons, and distinguishes all their meetings. Hence, it
is arranged as a general Section in every Degree of the Order,
and takes the lead in all our illustrations.
A Prayer used at opening the Lodge.
May the favor of Heaven be upon this meeting! And as it is
happily begun, may it be conducted in order, and closed in 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! Amen.
Charges and Regulations for the conduct and behavior of Masons.
A rehearsal of the Ancient Charges properly succeeds the opening,
and precedes the closing, of the 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
to whom it is not known, should any such be, it must be highly
proper to recommend it.
[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 country in which they reside.
The most expert craftsman is chosen or appointed Master of
the work, and is duly honored 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 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 be 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
All employed in Masonry meekly receive their rewards, and
use no disobliging 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
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 ; 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 a gentleman
were he not a Mason; for though as Masons we meet 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 due decorum is
to be observed, and a proper respect paid to the Master, and presiding
These laws are to be strictly enforced, that harmony may be
preserved, and the business of the lodge carried on with order
Amen. So mote it be.
Charge on the Behavior of Masons.
[To be rehearsed at closing the Lodge.]
When the lodge is closed, you are to enjoy yourselves with
innocent mirth, and carefully avoid excess. You are not to compel
any brother to act contrary to his inclination, or give offence
by word or deed, but enjoy a free and easy conversation. You are
to avoid immoral or obscene discourse, and 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
the discourse, and manage it prudently, for the honor 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, on every occasion, 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 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 your ability, only to prefer a poor
Mason, 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 lecture;
cultivating brotherly love, the foundation and cape-stone, the
cement and glory of this ancient fraternity; avoiding, on 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 may be
consistent with your honor 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
Amen. So mote it be.
Back to Illustrations of Freemasonry [ Previous
] [ Next ]