Expulsion is, of all Masonic penalties, the most severe that can be inflicted on a member of the Order, and hence it has been often called a Masonic death. It deprives the expelled of all the rights and privileges that he ever enjoyed, not only as a member of the particular Lodge from which he has been ejected, but also of those which were inherent in him as a member of the Fraternity at large. He is at once as completely divested of his Masonic character as though he had never been admitted, so far as regards his rights, while his duties and obligations remain as firm as ever, it being impossible for any human power to cancel them. He can no longer demand the aid of his Brethren nor require from them the performance of any of the duties to which he was formerly entitled, nor visit any Lodge, nor unite in any of the public or private ceremonies of the Order. He is considered as being without the pale, and it would be criminal in any Brother, aware of his expulsion, to hold communication with him on Masonic subjects.
The only proper tribunal to impose this heavy punishment is a Grand Lodge. A subordinate Lodge tries its delinquent member, and if guilty declares him expelled. But the sentence is of no force until the Grand Lodge, under whose jurisdiction it is working, has confirmed it. And it is optional with the Grand Lodge to do so. or, as is frequently done, to reverse the decision and reinstate the brother. Some of the Lodges in this country claim the right to expel independently of the action of the Grand Lodge, but the claim in Brother Mackey's opinion is not valid. He held that the very fact that an expulsion is a penalty, affecting the general relations of the punished Brother with the whole Fraternity, proves that its exercise never could with propriety be entrusted to a Body so circumscribed in its authority as a subordinate Lodge. Besides, the general practice of the Fraternity is against it. The English Constitutions vest the powers to expel exclusively in the Grand Lodge. A Private Lodge has only the power to exclude an offending member from its own meetings.
All Freemasons, whether members of Lodges or not, are subject to the infliction of this punishment when found to merit it. Resignation or withdrawal from the Order does not cancel a Freemason's obligations, nor exempt him from that wholesome control which the Order exercises over the moral conduct of its members. The fact that a Freemason, not a member of any particular Lodge, who has been guilty of immoral or un-masonic conduct, can be tried and punished by any Lodge within whose jurisdiction he may be residing, is a point on which there is no doubt.
Immoral conduct, such as would subject a candidate for admission to rejection, should be the only offense visited with expulsion. As the punishment is general, affecting the relation of the one expelled with the whole Fraternity, it should not be lightly imposed for the violation of any Masonic act not general in its character. The commission of a grossly immoral act is a violation of the contract entered into between each Freemason and his Order. If sanctioned by silence or impunity, it would bring discredit on the Institution, and tend to impair its usefulness. A Freemason who is a bad man is to the Fraternity what a mortified limb is to the body, and should be treated with the same mode of cure he should be cut off, lest his example spread, and disease be propagated through the constitution.
Expulsion from one of what is called the higher Degrees of Freemasonry, such as a Chapter or an Encampment, does not affect the relations of the expelled party to Blue Masonry. A Chapter of Royal Arch Masons is not and cannot be recognized as a Masonic Body by a Lodge of Master Masons by any of the modes of recognition known to Freemasonry. The acts, therefore, of a Chapter cannot be recognized by a Master Mason's Lodge any more than the acts of a literary or charitable society wholly unconnected with the Order.
Besides, by the present organization of Freemasonry, Grand Lodges are the supreme Masonic tribunals. If, therefore, expulsion from a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons involved expulsion from a Blue Lodge, the right of the Grand Lodge to hear and determine causes, and to regulate the internal concerns of the Institution, would be interfered with by another Body beyond its control. But the converse of this proposition does not hold good. Expulsion from a Blue Lodge involves expulsion from all the other Degrees; because, as they are composes of what Brother Mackey here terms Blue Masons, the members could not of right sit and hold communications on Masonic subjects with one who was an expelled Freemason.