General Ahiman Rezon, by Daniel Sickels, , at sacred-texts.com
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 in 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 has been properly remarked, that when order and method are neglected at the beginning, they will be seldom found to take place at the end.
The ceremonies of OPENING and CLOSING a Lodge with solemnity and decorum is, therefore, universally admitted among Masons, and which differ in each of the degrees; but differ so slightly as not to affect their general character. They must, therefore, be considered in reference to the several purposes which they are designed to accomplish.
To conduct these ceremonies with propriety, ought to be the peculiar study of every Mason, especially of those who have the honor to rule in our assemblies. To persons who are dignified, every eye is naturally directed for propriety of conduct and behavior; and from them other brethren, who
are less informed, will naturally expect to derive an example worthy of imitation. From a share in these ceremonies no Mason can be exempted. This is the first request of the Master, and the prelude to all business. No sooner has it been signified that the Lodge is about to be opened, than every officer repairs to his station, and the intent of the meeting becomes the sole object of attention.
A Lodge must always be opened on the Third Degree, and in due form, for the transaction of any business, except that of initiating or passing a candidate into the mysteries of the first and second degrees. The first business after opening, if it be a regular communication, is the reading of the minutes of the preceding communication, for the information of the brethren. The minutes of the proceedings of the evening should, also, always be read before the Lodge is closed, that the brethren may know that they have been properly recorded, and then duly approved.
The Lodge should always be opened and closed with prayer.
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 their midst, and bless them." In thy name we have assembled, and in thy name we desire to proceed in all our doings. Grant that the sublime principles of Freemasonry may so subdue every discordant
passion within us—so harmonize and enrich our hearts with thine own love and goodness—that the Lodge at this time may humbly reflect that order and beauty which reign for ever before thy throne.—Amen.
Response by the brethren.—So mote it be.
GREAT Architect of the Universe! in thy name we have assembled, and in thy name we desire to proceed in all our doings. Grant that the sublime principles of Freemasonry may so subdue every discordant passion within us—so harmonize and enrich our hearts with thine own love and goodness—that the Lodge at this time may reflect that order and beauty which reigns for ever before thy throne.—Amen.
Response.—So mote it be.
In addition to the Prayer, the following CHARGE may be given:
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 restraint 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 practice 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 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 Trestle-board, 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.
Or the following ODE may be sung:
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Around our altar's sacred shrine
May Love's pure incense rise,
Bearing upon its mystic flame
Our music to the skies!
SUPREME Architect of the Universe, accept our humble thanks for the many mercies and blessings which thy bounty has conferred on us, and especially for this friendly and social intercourse.
[paragraph continues] Pardon, we beseech thee, whatever thou hast seen amiss in us since we have been together; and continue to us thy presence, protection, and blessing. Make us sensible of the renewed obligations we are under to love thee, and as we are about to separate, and return to our respective places of abode, wilt thou be pleased so to influence our hearts and minds, that we may each one of us practice, out of the Lodge, those great moral duties which are inculcated in it, and with reverence study and obey the laws which thou hast given us in thy Holy Word.—Amen.
Response.—So mote it be.
BRETHREN: You are now 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; to 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 faithful.
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!
The following ODE may be sung at closing:
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Let us each, in Time's commotion,
Heav’nly light and truth implore:
Thus we'll pass life's stormy ocean,
Landing on a happier shore.
MAY the blessing of Heaven rest upon us and all regular Masons! May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue cement us!—Amen. Res.—So mote it be.