THE MASONIC MANUAL
A pocket Companion for the Initiated
Compiled and arranged by
Revised Edition 1867
FREE-MASONRY is a MORAL ORDER, instituted
by virtuous men, with the praiseworthy design of recalling to our
remembrance the most sublime TRUTHS, in the midst of the most innocent and
social pleasures, - founded on LIBERALITY, BROTHERLY LOVE and CHARITY. It
a beautiful SYSTEM of MORALITY, veiled in
allegory and illustrated by symbols. TRUTH is its centre, - the point
whence its radii diverge, point out to its disciples a correct knowledge
of the Great Architect of the Universe, and the moral laws which he has
ordained for their government.
A proper administration of the various
ceremonies connected with our ritual is of the first importance and worthy
of our serious consideration. The rites and ceremonies of Free-masonry
form the distinctive peculiarity of the Institution. In their nature they
are simple - in their end instructive. They naturally excite a high degree
of curiosity in a newly initiated brother, and create an earnest desire to
investigate their meaning, and to become acquainted with their object and
design. It requires, however, both serious application and untiring
diligence to ascertain the precise nature of every ceremony which our
ancient brethren saw reason to adopt in the formation of an exclusive
system, which was to pass through the world unconnected with the religion
and politics of all times, and of every people among whom it should
flourish and increase. In order to preserve our ceremonies from the hand
of innovation, it is essentially necessary that every officer should be
thoroughly acquainted with them, and that a firm determination should
exist among the craft to admit no change. A few words here or there
may not in themselves appear of much consequence, yet, by
frequent allowance, we become habituated to
them, and thus open the door to evils of more serious magnitude. There is,
there can be, no safety but in a rigid adherence to the ancient ceremonies
of the Order.
The first of these that claim our attention
are those employed in opening and closing the Lodge; much might here be
said in relation to them did they admit of written elucidation, but as
they are necessarily kept within the body of the Lodge, nothing but vague
and unsatisfactory hints could be given respecting them; we therefore
prefer to pass them in silence, urging as a recommendation to visit each
other as the best method of keeping out innovation and preserving entire
In connection with this ceremony, a variety
of charges have, at various times, been used by the Order; from the
number, we cull the two following, as well for their simple beauty as for
the wholesome truths contained in them.
CHARGE AT OPENING.
"The ways of virtue are beautiful.
Knowledge is attained by degrees. Wisdom dwells with contemplation: there
we must seek her. Let us then, Brethren, apply ourselves with becoming
zeal to the practice of the excellent principles inculcated by our Order.
Let us ever remember that the great objects of our association are, the
of improper desires and passions, the
cultivation of an active benevolence, and the promotion of a correct
knowledge of the duties we owe to God, our neighbor and ourselves. Let us
be united, and practise with assiduity the sacred tenets of our Order. Let
all private animosities, if any unhappily exist, give place to affection
and brotherly love. It is a useless parade to talk of the subjection of
irregular passions within the walls of the Lodge, if we permit them to
triumph in our intercourse with each other. Uniting in the grand design,
let us be happy ourselves and endeavor to promote the happiness of others.
Let us cultivate the great moral virtues which are laid down on our
Masonic Trestleboard, and improve in every thing that is good, amiable and
useful. Let the benign Genius of the Mystic Art preside over our councils,
and under her sway let us act with a dignity becoming the high moral
character of our venerable Institution."
CHARGE AT CLOSING
"Brethren: You are now about to quit this
sacred retreat of friendship and virtue, to mix again with the world.
Amidst its concerns and employments, forget not the duties you have heard
so frequently inculcated and forcibly recommended in this Lodge. Be
diligent, prudent, temperate, discreet. Remember that around this altar
you have promised to befriend and relieve every Brother who shall need
your assistance. Remember that you
have promised to remind him, in the most
tender manner, of his failings, and aid his reformation. Vindicate his
character, when wrongfully traduced. Suggest in his behalf the most candid
and favorable circumstances. Is he justly reprehended? - Let the world
observe how Masons love one another.
"These generous principles are to extend
further. Every human being has a claim upon your kind offices. 'Do
good unto all.' Recommend it more 'especially to the household of the
"By diligence in the duties of your
respective callings; by liberal benevolence and diffusive charity; by
constancy and fidelity in your friendships, discover the beneficial and
happy effects of this ancient and honorable Institution. Let it not be
supposed that you have here 'LABORED in vain, and spent your STRENGTH for
naught; for your WORK is with the LORD and your RECOMPENSE with your GOD.'
"Finally, Brethren, be ye all of one mind,
- live in peace, and may the God of love and peace delight to dwell with
and bless you!"
ADMISSION OF CANDIDATES.
By the regulations of the Fraternity, a
candidate for the mysteries of Masonry cannot be initiated in any regular
Lodge, without having been proposed at a preceding regular meeting. All
applications for initiation should be made in writing, giving name,
residence, age, occupation, and references.
The petition, having been read in open
Lodge, is placed on file. A committee is then appointed to investigate the
character and qualifications of the petitioner. If, at the next regular
meeting of the Lodge, the report of the Committee be favorable, and the
candidate is admitted, he is required to give his free and full assent to
the following interrogations:
- "Do you seriously declare, upon your
honor, before these gentlemen, that, unbiased by friends, and
uninfluenced by mercenary motives, you freely and voluntarily offer
yourself a candidate for the mysteries of Masonry?
- "Do you seriously declare, upon your
honor, before these gentlemen, that you are prompted to solicit the
privileges of Masonry by a favorable opinion conceived of the
Institution, a desire of knowledge, and a sincere wish of being
serviceable to your fellow-creatures?
- "Do you seriously declare, upon your
honor, before these gentle men, that you will cheerfully cenform to all
the ancient establishea asages and customs of the Fraternity?"
- Do you solemnly declare upon your honor
that you have never petitioned any other lodge for initition, and been
The candidate, if no objection be urged to
the contrary, is then introduced in due and ancient form.
Having thus spoken of the Lodge and its
officers, a few words to the craft themselves might not be
deemed out of place; but we prefer to speak
to them in the plain yet eloquent language of the following charges,
worthy the attention of all men, and particularly the zealous enquirer for
THE PRIVATE DUTIES OF
Whoever would be a Mason should know how to
practice all the private virtues. He should avoid all manner of
intemperance or excess, which might prevent his performance of the
laudable duties of his Craft, or lead him into enormities which would
reflect dishonor upon the ancient Fraternity. He is to be industrious in
his profession, and true to the Master he serves. He is to labor justly,
and not to eat any man's bread for naught; but to pay truly for his meat
and drink. What leisure his labor allows, he is to employ in studying the
arts and sciences with a diligent mind, that he may the better perform all
his duties to his Creator, his country, his neighbor and himself.
He is to seek and acquire, as far as
possible, the virtues of patience, meekness, self-denial, forbearance, and
the like, which give him the command over himself, and enable him to
govern his own family with affection, dignity and prudence: at the same
time checking every disposition injurious to
the world and promoting that love and
service which Brethren of the same household owe to each other.
Therefore, to afford succor to the
distressed, to divide our bread with the industrious poor, and to put the
misguided traveler into the way, are duties of the Craft, suitable to its
dignity and expressive of its usefulness. But, though a Mason is never to
shut his ear unkindly against the complaints of any of the human race, yet
when a Brother is oppressed or suffers, he is in a more peculiar manner
called upon to open his whole soul in love and compassion to him, and to
relieve him without prejudice, according to his capacity.
It is also necessary, that all who would be
true Masons should learn to abstain from all malice, slander and evil
speaking; from all provoking, reproachful and ungodly language; keeping
always a tongue of good report.
A Mason should know how to obey those who
are set over him; however inferior they may be in worldly rank or
condition. For although Masonry divests no man of his honors and titles,
yet, in a Lodge, pre-eminence of virtue, and knowledge in the art, is
considered as the true source of all nobility, rule and government.
The virtue indispensably requisite in
Masons is - SECRECY. This is the guard of their confidence, and the
security of their trust So great a stress is to be laid upon it, that it
is enforced under the strongest obligations; nor, in their esteem, is any
man to be accounted wise, who has not
intellectual strength and ability sufficient to cover and conceal such
honest secrets as are committed to him, as well as his own more serious
and private affairs.
DUTIES AS CITIZENS.
A Mason is a peaceable citizen, and is
never to be concerned in plots and conspiracies against the peace and
welfare of the nation, nor to behave himself, undutifully to inferior
magistrates. He is cheerfully to conform to every lawful authority; to
uphold on every occasion, the interest of the community, and zealously
promote the prosperity of his own country. Masonry has ever flourished in
times of peace, and been always injured by war, bloodshed and confusion;
so that kings and princes in every age, have been much disposed to
encourage the craftsmen on account of their peaceableness and loyalty,
whereby they practically answer the cavils of their adversaries and
promote the honor of the Fraternity. Craftsmen are bound by peculiar ties
to promote peace, cultivate harmony, and live in concord and Brotherly
DUTIES IN THE LODGE.
While the Lodge is open for work, Masons
must hold no private conversation or committees, without leave from the
Master; nor talk of anything foreign or impertinent; nor interrupt the
Master or Wardens, or any Brother addressing himself to the Chair; nor
behave inattentively, while the Lodge
is engaged in what is serious and solemn;
but every Brother shall pay due reverence to the Master, the Wardens, and
all his fellows.
Every Brother guilty of a fault shall
submit to the Lodge, unless he appeal to the Grand Lodge.
No private offences, or disputes about
nations, families, religions or politics, must be brought within the doors
of the Lodge.
DUTIES AS NEIGHBORS.
Masons ought to be moral men. Consequenrtly
they should be good husbands, good parents, good sons and good neighbors;
avoiding all excess, injurious to themselves or families, and wise as to
all affairs, both of their own household and of the Lodge, for certain
reasons known to themselves.
DUTIES TOWARDS A BROTHER.
Free and Accepted Masons have ever been
charged to avoid all slander of true and faithful Brethren, and all malice
or unjust resentment, or talking disrespectfully of a Brother's person or
performance. Nor must they suffer any to spread unjust reproaches or
calumnies against a Brother behind his back, nor to injure him in his
fortune, occupation or character; but they shall defend such a Brother,
and give him notice of any danger or injury wherewith he may be
threatened, to enable him to escape the same, as far as is consistent with
honor, prudence, and the safety of religion, morality, and the state; but