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CONSTITUTION

Statuere meant that a thing was set, or placed, or established; when con was added (see immediately above) constituere meant than an official ceremony had set, or fixed, or placed a thing. From the same source come statue, statute, institute, restitute, etc. A Lodge is "constituted" when it is formally and officially set up, and given its own permanent place in the Fraternity.

- Source: 100 Words in Masonry


BOOK OF CONSTITUTION

Is the work that contains the rules and regulations of the Order as decided by Grand Lodge. It also contains accounts of the rights of lodges and members, and details of ceremonies, such as funerals, consecrations, installations, etc. The earliest record we have of such a work, is a manuscript written in the reign of Edward IV., which states that Prince Edwin assembled the Masons at York in 926, and then formed the English Masonic Constitutions, from the written documents in various languages, which were then submitted. These Constitutions continued under the name of the "Gothic constitutions," to govern the Craft until the revival of Masonry about 1715, when, probably from careless copying, and perhaps ignorance, they were found to be very defective, and in 1721 the Duke of Montague, who was at that time Grand Master, ordered Bro. James Anderson to "revise and digest them in a better method." This having been done, the same year, in December, fourteen learned brethren were appointed a committee to examine the result of his labours, and the following March his work was, with some trifling amendments, adopted by Grand Lodge, and published in 1723, entitled "The Book of Constitutions of the Freemasons, containing the History, Charges, Regulations, etc., of the Most Ancient and Right Worshipful Fraternity, for the use of the Lodges." Another edition was issued in 1738, and again in 1754 and 1767, when revised editions were issued, since which period the York Constitutions have remained, and are the base of all such works issued by Grand Lodges. The origin of this work was, that during the reign of Queen Anne, Freemasonry was in a very sickly condition, partly owing to the age and weakness of the Grand Master, Sir Christopher Wren, the last Grand Master of the purely operative Masons. On his death, there were still four lodges extant in London, and they determined to revive Grand Lodge, which had been dormant for some years, and also restore the quarterly communications, and the annual festival. This they did, at a meeting held in the "Apple Tree Tavern," in London, and agreed, among other things, "that no lodge should thereafter be permitted to be held (the four old lodges alone excepted) unless by authority of a charter granted by the Grand Master, with the consent and approbation of Grand Lodge." In this way the old Masons in London transferred all their own inherent privileges as individual masons to the four Lodges in trust, that they would never suffer the Antient landmarks to be infringed. On the other hand, these Lodges agreed to recognize every Lodge, which should henceforth be regularly constituted, and to admit the Masters and Wardens to all privileges of Grand Lodge, precedence only excepted. Finding, however, that the craft was rapidly spreading; new lodges growing up in all directions, it was a cause of alarm lest the four old Lodges should lose their special privileges which they had been given, and on this account a Code was prepared, with the consent of all the brethren, for the future government of the Order. To this was annexed the regulation binding the Grand Master and his successors, and the Master of every Lodge, to preserve these regulations inviolable, and ordering them to be read in open lodge at least once in each year. These are embodied in the "Book of Constitution" as "summary of the Antient Charges and Regulations," to be read by the Grand Secretary, or acting Secretary, to the Master-elect, prior to his installation in the chair of the Lodge.

- Source: Pocket Lexicon of Freemasonry


CONSTITUTION OF A LODGE

Any number of Master Masons, not less than seven, being desirous of forming a new Lodge, having previously obtained a Dispensation from the Grand Master, must apply by petition to the Grand Lodge of the State in which they reside, praying for a Charter, or Warrant of Constitution, to enable them to assemble as a regular Lodge. Their petition being favorably received, a Warrant or Charter for the Lodge is immediately granted, and the Grand Master appoints a day for its consecration and for the installation of its officers.

The Lodge having been consecrated, the Grand Master, or person acting as such, declares the Brethren "to be constituted and formed into a regular Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons," after which the officers of the Lodge are installed. In this declaration of the Master, accompanied with the appropriate ceremonies, consists the constitution of the Lodge. Until a Lodge is thus legally constituted, it forms no component of the constituency of the Grand Lodge, can neither elect officers nor members, and exists only as a Lodge under dispensation at the will of the Grand Master.

- Source: Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry


CONSTITUTIONS, BOOK OF

In England of the Eighteenth Century a permanent association or society was required to have a sponsor, the more exalted in the rank the better, who was named as its Patron - as the King himself was Patron of the Royal (scientific) Society; it was also expected to have authorization in the form of a charter, or deputation, or some similar instrument ; and the older one of these written instruments might be, other things being equal , the more weight it possessed. The old Masonic Lodges in London at the beginning of the Century had Sir Christopher Wren as their patron (so tradition affirms) and for written charter each one had a copy of the Old Charges ; these documents attested that their original authority had been a Royal Charter granted by a Prince Edwin seven centuries before ; and though historians , for sound reasons, question this particular claim, it is important to remember that neither the Lodges nor the public between 1700 and 1725 ever questioned it.

In 1716 representatives of some four or five old Lodges, and Probably after discussions with other Lodges not represented, decided to set up a Body in which each Lodge could be a member, and which would be a central meeting place and at the same time could bring the Lodges into a unity of work and practice. This they called a Grand ( or chief) Lodge; and in 1717 they erected it by official action, and put Anthony Sayer in the Chair as Grand Master.

This new Grand Lodge was itself a Lodge and therefore needed both a Patron and a Charter, or Old Charges, of its own, and suitable for needs not identical with those of a member Lodge. It found a Patron in the person of the Duke of Montague, elected Grand Master in 1721, after a time, and especially after the sons of George A had become Masons, it was under the patronage of the Royal Family and has been so ever since (Queen Victoria officially declared herself its Patroness).

To prepare a Grand Lodge equivalent of the Old Charges was a more difficult matter. Veteran Masons were consulted ; old manuscripts were borrowed from Lodges (and sometimes not returned, as when Desaguliers forgot to return documents to the Lodge of Antiquity). Some of the Lodges which were opposed to the whole Grand Lodge plan destroyed their documents. An unknown group of Masons forestalled the Grand Lodge by having J. Roberts print a version, now called the Roberts Constitutions, dated 1722 (of the two existing copies one is in the Iowa Masonic Library). From the Lodges in favor of the Grand Lodge plan fourteen veteran Masons acted as an advisory committee. By 1722 George Payne, a Grand Master, had prepared an acceptable version of that part of the Old Charges, the important half, which was called the Old Regulations. By the following year, Grand Lodge, reporting through a Committee headed by James Anderson, adopted a completed manuscript, entitled it The Constitution of Freemasons, and had James Anderson print it. Why this book has been accredited to the authorship of James Anderson is a mystery; he is called "author" at one or two places but as then used the word could mean "editor" or "scribe"; and his name does not appear on the title page. Payne wrote about one-half of it. J. T. Desaguliers wrote the dedication; the rest of it was the joint work of many hands and at least two Committees. The so-called historical part was collected-the record says "collated''-from Lodge copies of the Old Charges which differed much among themselves in detail. The title is a complete description of the book :

"The Constitution, History, Laws, Charges, Orders, Regulations, and Usages of the Right Worshipful FRATERNITY of Accepted Free MASONS; collected From their general RECORDS and their faithful TRADITIONS of many Ages.

To be Read At the Admission of a NEW BROTHER, when the Master or Warden shall begin, or order some other Brother to read as follows."

Then follows the text, in the first sentence of which reference is made to ''God, the great Architect of the Universe,'' and Geometry is named as the Masonic art par excellence, because it was the art used in architecture.

The publisher's signature on the title page:

"London, Printed by William Hunter, for John Senex at the Globe, and John Hooke at the Flower-de-luce over against St. Dunstan's Church, in Fleet-Street. In the Year of Masonry 5723. Anno Domini 1723."

This dating is a fact of prime importance, for it proves that the Freemasons identified their Fraternity with architecture which they rightly assumed to be as old as man. Theorists who have argued for another origin' of Freemasonry, among the Ancient Mysteries, or in occult circles, or in political circles, etc., will first have to explain why the founders of the Speculative Craft had not even heard of such origins ; and one may safely assume that they knew more about the founding of Speculative Masonry than theorism two hundred years afterwards. As time passed, and Lodges increased, amendments and revisions were called for; this was satisfied by the issuance of new editions.

NOTE: The Fifth, or 1784, Edition is there accredited to John Northouck, in reality it should have been named after William Preston because he did the work on it. As each new Grand Lodge was erected in one Country after another, and in America in one State after another, it wrote or adopted a Book of its own. Such a Book dated as of today bears on the face of it little resemblance to the Edition of 1723 ; but the change from decade to decade has been a gradual one, always made in response to new needs, and in their principles and every other fundamental any regular Constitution of today is a direct descendant of the Constitution of 1723. The Ancient Grand Lodge, erected in London in 1751, which was to become a rival of the 1717 Grand Body until 1813, published in 1756 a Book of its own, which it called Ahiman Rezon ; this also was in substance a repetition of the Book of 1723. Considered as a work of literature the most masterly version is the original Constitution of Ireland, a re-writing of the 1723 Edition by John Pennell, published in 1730.

A half century ago a number of writers proposed the theory that "Operative" Masonry had become defunct; that Desaguliers, Anderson, Payne, Montague, and a number of other ''gentlemen,'' "captured" the machinery of organization, and turned it into a Speculative Fraternity. This theory went to pieces against such facts as:

First, that the Grand Lodge began in 1716-not 1717- and that those gentlemen were not Masons for some time afterwards, at least not London Masons, and were not among the founding fathers, second, the old Lodges were not "Operative'' but only partly so, and one of them was wholly composed of Speculatives. Desaguliers and his colleagues were architects of the Grand Lodge system; they did not create anything new, they only found a new way for carrying on what was already very old. This is made clear by the Book of 1723 itself, and by the circumstances under which it was prepared.

- Source: Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry


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