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more stewards, a tyler,* and as many members as the master and a majority of the brethren shall think proper. It is, however, in general, deemed expedient for the convenience of working to advantage, that a lodge should not consist of more than fifty members. When a lodge considerably exceeds that number, some of the most able workmen, and others under them, will obtain leave from the grand lodge to separate, and form themselves into a new lodge.
All preferment, amongst masons, should exclusively depend upon merit, so that the body may be well served, and thereby have honour and profit. The wardens must be chosen from amongst the master masons, and no one can be promoted to the master's chair, who has not officiated as a warden, except on extraordinary occasions, or when a new lodge is to be formed ; in which case, three master masons, though never masters or wardens before, may be installed as master and wardens of the new lodge ; but no number whatever, unless there be three master masons, can constitute a lodge, and no brother can be grand master, or a grand warden, who has not been a master of some particular lodge.
Qf the Ceremony of Opening and Closing a Lodge.
In all regular assemblies, convened for wise and useful purposes, the commencement and conclusion of the business is, in general, accompanied by some form. In every country, the practice prevails, and is deemed essential It is traced from the most remote periods of
"I« all lodges, where there are many members, there is likewise ill general, an officer who is denominated master of ceremonies.
antiquity, and the refined improvements of modern times, hare not abolished it.
Ceremonies, simply considered, are little more than visionary delusions; i>ut their effects are sometimes very important. When they impress awe and reverence on the mind, and attract the attention to solemn rites, they become peculiarly interesting. A good beginning, is the most certain mode of ensuring a good ending, of any business or pursuit whatever; and it may be observed, that when order is neglected at the beginning, it will seldom be found to take place at the end. "Let all things," says the apostle Paul, "be done decently, and in order." 1 Corinthians, xiv. 40. And again, xiv. 33, " God is not the author of confusion but of peace."
The ceremony of opening and closing the lodge with solemnity and decorum, is, therefore, universally adopted; and though the mode may vary in some meetings, it will be found to be in all, essentially the same. To conduct this ceremony with propriety, ought to be the particular study of every mason; but more especially, of those who have the honour of presiding in our assemblies.
Our first care is directed to the external avenues of the lodge, and the proper officers will always direct their attention to this important object, so that no improper persons can gain admission.
At the opening of the lodge, two purposes are effected, the master is reminded of the dignity of his station, and the brethren of that respect which is due to him, whom they have appointed to direct their steps in the masonic art.
But these are the least important of the advantages, which result from, this ceremony. A reverential awe for the Great Architect of the Universe is inculcated, and the eye fixed on that object, from whose radiant beams, light can only be derived. Hence, in this ceremony, we are taught to adore our Creator, Preserver, and continual Benefactor, and to supplicate his direction on our well-meant endeavours. The master now assumes his government, and his wardens under him, and the'brethren uniting with one accord in duty and respect, the ceremony ends. And at the closing of the lodge, a similar form takes place. Masonic meetings always convene in the name of the Most High God, and in his name they part; and from this pious custom they will never deviate.
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 in order, and closed in harmony. Amen.
A Prayer used at Closing the Lodge.
May the blessing of heaven rest upon us, and all regular meetings; may brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue cement us. Amen.
The Ancient Prayer at Making or Opening a Lodge.
Most holy and glorious Lord God, the great Architect of the Universe, the giver of all good gifts and graces, thou hast promised, that where two or three are gathered together in thy name, thou wilt be in the midst of them. In thy name, we assemble, most humbly beseeching thee to bless us in all our undertakings that we may know and serve thee aright, and that all our actions may tend to thy glory, and to our advancement in knowledge and virtue.
And we beseech thee, O Lord God, to bless this our present assembling, and grant that this our new made brother, may prove true and faithful. Endue him with a competency of thy divine wisdom, that he may, with the secrets of free-masonry, be able to unfold the mysteries of godliness; and may he and we walk in the light of thy countenance, and when all the trials of our probationary state shall be over, be admitted into the temnot made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Amen.
A Prayer at the Making of a Mason.
O God, the author of every good and perfect gift, we thy servants approach thy Divine Majesty, with the 'most exalted ideas of thy character, and the highest re verence for thy perfections, with gratitude for thy goodness, and submission to thine authority.
We beseech thee, to bless us. Give our brother the spirit of wisdom, to avoid the evil and choose the good, the spirit of meekness and forbearance, of brotherly love, and charity. And grant, that we may not abuse our freedom; but in all our thoughts, words, and actions, 60 live within the compass of thy commandments, as to secure thy love. Amen.
Another Prayer at the Making of a Mason.
Thou Supreme Author of Peace, and Lover of Concord, bless us in the exercise of those kind and social affections, which thou hast given us. May we display and cherish them, as our honour, and our joy. May this, our friend, who is now to become our brother, devote his life to thy service, and consider aright the true principles of his engagements. May he be endowed with wisdom to direct him in all his ways, strength, to support him in all his difficulties, and beauty, to adorn his moral conduct; and may we jointly and individually walk within compass, and square our actions by the dictates of virtue and conscience, and the example of the wise and the good. Amen.
Another, for the same object.
Vouchsafe thine aid, Almighty Father of the Universe, to this our present convention; and grant,' that this candidate for masonry, may dedicate and devote his life to thy service, and become a true and faithful brother amongst us. Endue him with a competency of thy divine wisdom, that by the secrets of our art, he may be better enabled to display the beauties of brotherly love, relief, and truth, to the honour of thy holy name. Amen.
'Great Architect of Heaven, Maker and Ruler of worlds unnumbered! Deign, from thy celestial temple, to look down on us, the workmanship of thy hands. As we are now about to enlighten a fetlo'w mortal in masonry, wilt thou enlighten us in the' knowledge of divine truths. Enable' us to live within the compass of thy commands, and to square our actions to thy divine will; and bless us, even us, Father Almighty. Thou hast planted reason in the human heart, may it expand until it reacheth the footstool of thy throne; and when our spirits shall be called to part from this lodge of clay, may they be permitted to join the all perfect lodge in heaven, there to receive never ending refreshment, in the regions of bliss and immortality. Amen, So mote it be.
Grand Architect! Behold us aspiring towards thee. Thy works fill us with rapture. Heaven's gates stayed