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formation would speedily take place. This would evince the propriety of our mode of government, and lead men to acknowledge, that our honours were deservedly conferred. The ancient consequence of the order would be restored, and the reputation of the society preserved.
Such conduct alone can support our character. Unless prudent actions shall distinguish our title to the honours of masonry, and regular deportment display the influence and utility of our rules, the world in general will not easily be led to reconcile our proceedings with the tenets of our profession.
Masonry is an art equally useful and extensive. In every art there is a mystery, which requires a gradual progression of knowledge to arrive at any degree of perfection in it. Without much instruction, and more exercise, no man can be skilful in any art: in like manner, without an assiduous application to the various subjects treated of in the different lectures of masonry, no person can be sufficiently acquainted with its true value.
It must not, however, be inferred from this remark, that persons who labour under the disadvantages of a confined education, or whose sphere of life requires a more intense application to business or study, are to be discouraged in their endeavours to gain a knowledge of masonry.
To qualify an individual to enjoy the benefits of the society at large, or to partake of its privileges, it is not absolutely necessary that he should be acquainted with all the intricate parts of the science. These are only intended for the diligent and assiduous mason, who may have leisure and opportunity to indulge such pursuits.
Though some are more able than others, some more eminent, some more useful, yet all, in their different spheres, may prove advantageous to the community. As the nature of every man's profession will not admit of that leisure which is necessary to qualify hiin to become an expert mason, it is highly proper that the official duties of a lodge should be executed by persons whose education and situation in life enable them to become 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.
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 form. 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 attraction, to solemn rites, 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 means 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. To persons 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 prelule to all
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 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 that 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 trust, after the customary salutations. 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 he has acquired, in his own secret repository; and, pleased with his reward, retires to enjoy and disseminate among the private circle of his brethren, the fruits of bis labour and industry in the lodge.
These are the 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 illastrations.
The Ancient Prayer, at Making or Opening. 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 bescech thee, O Lord God, to bless this our present assembling; and grant that this our new 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 the trials of our probationary state are over, be admitted into the Temple not made with hands, eternal in the heavens!—Amen.
ANOTHER.–From the Emblems of a Garden. O thou who art every where present, but art known only to those who love thee! to whom nation or kindred are not the first ties; for he that loveth dwelleth in God, and God in him. Mankind have felt after thee, every whére! They who love thee, have found thee! To establish our highest virtue, we enter here. May living streams give us fertility, that our green leaves may smile and be flourishing. In this garden may we sit under the shadow of our beloved, and find his fruit sweet to our taste. May they who are set for strength and beauty, be upright, and flourish as the palm, while they who minister are an hedge about us on every side. May our store be plentiful, that every brother may come and partake of its refreshment. May our fruit be chosen, that wise men may search it out. In ample growth, may we spread with comeliness. In blessed order, well arranged, may we be as the trees of God, full of fruit. May we continue fair and flourishing. Under our branches may every virtue find protection, and may the passenger taste the fruit, and find it
This paragraph is to be omitted, except when a candidate is about to be initiated.
pleasant. May a goodly spring bring a summer of delight, and a full autumn render our stores abundant. May health make us cheerful, and friendship be immortal. May our vir. tues unite us, and may we love the name of brethren, because it blesses us.
A Prayer used at opening a Lodge. May the favor of Heaven be upon this meeting; and as it is happily begun, may it be conducted with order, and closed with harmony!- men,
A General Prayer, in a Lodge. Great Architect! in whose work all life is employed. The whole is harmony in thee; each part has its place, and all is perfect.
Behold us, who form this apartment in thy works, small indeed in itself, but vast enough for our full employment. From hence we behold thy magnificent displays of power and wisdom, and here we enjoy thy goodness. Regard our work, begun in thy presence, and by thy laws. On the equal basis of truth let our building stand! May its entrance be illuminated with hope, and may great and good actions give it glory! With our master may our labor be sweet, and our reward sure. May the skilful inspire a laudable ambition, and each soul be filled with light.
When we extend our hands to a friend, and introduce him to our joys, let truth guide our lips, and love dwell in our hearts. May we add merit to our friendship, and a sincere heart to our pleasures. May the entrance be a sweet recollection to him. May each visit improve his hopes, and enlarge his virtues. May our virtues shine together with brighter light, and the everlasting glory of God be upon us.-Amen!
Occasional Prayer--By the Rev. Brother W. Bentley. Great light of life! whom all beings love, because they enjoy thee! we live in the light of thy countenance. We exist by thy strength, and are harmony in thee. Bless us, even us, 0 our father! give us one soul; influence us by the same zeal; purify us by the same light of truth. In the joy of this day we praise thee; joy makes our praise sublime. Bless the brethren, one in name and heart; bless the elect,