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adepts ; as it must be allowed, that all who accept offices, and exercise authority, should be properly qualified to discharge the task assigned them, with honour to themselves, and credit to their sundry stations.
All men are not blessed with the same powers, nor the same advantages; all men, therefore, are not equally qualified to govern. Masonry is wisely calculated to suit the different ranks and degrees of men, as every one, according to his station and ability, may class with his equal. Founded upon the most generous principles, it admits of no disquietude among its professors ; each class is happy in its particular association ; and when all are met in general convention, neither arrogance and presumption appear on the one hand, nor diffidence and inability on the other. The whole unite in one general plan, to promote that endearing happiness which constitutes the essence of civil society
THE CEREMONY OF OPENING AND CLOSING A LODGE.
In all regular assemblies of men, who are convened for wise and useful purposes, the commencement and conclusion of business are accompanied with some forms. In every country of the world the practice prevails, and is deemed essential. From the most remote periods of antiquity it may be traced, and the refined improvements of modern times have not totally abolished it.
Ceremonies, when simply considered, it is true, are little more than visionary delusions, but their effects are sometimes important. When they impress awe and reverence on the mind, and engage the attention, by external attrac
tion, to solemn rights, they are interesting objects. These purposes are effected by judicious ceremonies, when 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 to end well ; and it is judiciously 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 a lodge, with solemnity and decorum, is therefore universally admitted among Masons, and though the mode in some lodges may vary, and in every degree must vary, still an uniformity in the general practice prevails in every lodge; and the variation (if any) is solely occasioned by a want of method, * which a little application might easily remove.
To conduct this ceremony with propriety ought to be the peculiar study of every Mason, especially of those who have the honour to rule in our assemblies. who are thus dignified, every eye is naturally directed for propriety of conduct and behaviour; and from them, other brethren, who are less informed, will naturally expect to derive an example worthy of imitation.
From a share in this ceremony no Mason can be exempted. It is a general concern, in which all must assist. This is the first request of the Master, and the prelude to all business. No sooner has it been signified than every officer repairs to his station, and the brethren rank accord
* During the Grand Mastership of the R. W. Brother John M. Read, of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, he found it necessary to bring about an uniformity in the work, and devoted much of his valuable time in forming a Lodge of Instruction, presiding at the lectures, and to which many of the brethren are indebted for the knowledge they pos
I feel happy in having thus an opportunity of acknowledging the obligations I am (personally) under, to the R. W. Brother.
ing to their degrees. The intent of the meeting becomes the sole object of attention, and the mind is insensibly drawn from those indiscriminate subjects of conversation which are apt to intrude on our less serious moments.
This effect accomplished, our care is directed to the external avenues of the lodge, and the proper officers, whose province it is to discharge that duty, execute their trust with fidelity, and by certain mystic forms, of no recent date, intimate we may safely proceed. To detect impostors among ourselves, an adherence to order in the 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 trusts after the customary salutations, as disciples of one general patron. • 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 which he has acquired, and pleased with his reward, retires, untainted and uncontaminated, to enjoy and disseminate, among the private circle of his friends, 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.
WHICH MAY BE USED ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS.
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.
May the favour of Heaven be upon this our happy meeting; may it be begun, carried on, and ended with order, harmony, and brotherly love. Amen.
Most holy and glorious Lord God, the great architect of the universe ; the giver of all good gifts of graces : Thou hast promised that where two or three are gathered together in thy name, thou wilt be in the midst of them. 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 candidate may become a true and faithful brother among us ; 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 the trials of our probationary state are over, be admitted into the temple not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Amen.
USED IN ANCIENT TIMES AT JERUSALEM.
O Lord, excellent art thou in thy truth, and there is nothing great in comparison to thee, for thine is the praise, from all the works of thy hands, for ever more.
Enlighten us, we beseech thee, in the true knowledge of Masonry. By the sorrows of Adam, the first made man ; by the blood of Abel, the holy one ; by the righteousness of Seth, in whom thou art well pleased; and by thy covenant with Noah, in whose architecture thou wast pleased to save the seed of thy beloved, number us not among those that know not thy statues, nor the divine mysteries of the secret Cabala.
But grant, we beseech thee, that the ruler of this lodge may be endued with knowledge and wisdom, to instruct us and explain his secret mysteries as our holy brother Moses did (in his lodge) to Aaron, Eleazar, Ithamar, and the seventy elders of Israel.
And grant that we may understand, learn and keep all the statutes and commandments of the Lord, and this holy mystery, pure and undefiled unto our lives' end. Amen.