1769 Edition of Anderson's
Book of Constitutions
The Rev. James Anderson, D.D., is well known to all Freemasons as the compiler of the celebrated Book of Constitutions. The date and place of his birth have not yet been discovered with certainty, but the date was probably 1680, and the place, Aberdeen, in Scotland, where he was educated and where he probably took the degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Divinity. At some unascertained period he migrated to London, and our first precise knowledge of him, derived from a document in the State Records, is that on February 15, 1709-10, he, as a Presbyterian minister, took over the lease of a chapel in Swallow Street, Piccadilly, from a congregation of French Protestants which desired to dispose of it because of their decreasing property. During the following decade he published several sermons, and is said to have lost a considerable sum of money dabbling in the South Sea scheme. Where and when his connection with Freemasonry commenced has not yet been discovered, but he must have been a fairly prominent member of the Craft, because, on September 29, 1721, he was ordered by the Grand Lodge, which had been established in London in 1717, to "digest the old Gothic Constitutions in a new and better method." On the 27th of December following, his work was finished, and the Grand Lodge appointed a committee of fourteen learned Brethren to examine and report upon it. Their report was made on the 25th of March, 1722; and, after a few amendments, Anderson's work was formally approved. and ordered to be printed for the benefit of the Lodges, which was done in 1723. This is now the well-known Book of Constitutions, which contains the History of Freemasonry or, more correctly, architecture, the Ancient Charges, and the General Regulations, as the same were in use in many old Lodges. In 1738 a second edition was published. Both editions have become exceedingly rare, and copies of them bring fancy prices among collectors of old Masonic Books. Its intrinsic value is derived only from the fact that it contains the first printed copy of the Old Charges and also the General Regulations. Anderson died on May 28, 1739, and was buried in Bunhill Fields with a Masonic funeral, which is thus reported in The Daily Post of June 2nd: "Last night was interr'd the corpse of Dr. Anderson, a Dissenting Teacher, in a very remarkable deep Grave. His pall was supported by Five Dissenting Teachers, and the Rev. Dr. Desaguliers: It was followed by about a Dozen of Free-masons, who encircled the Grave; and after Dr. Earl had harangued on the Uncertainty of Life, etc. without one word of the deceased, the Brethren, in a most solemn dismal Posture, lifted up their Hands, sigh'd, and struck their aprons three times in Honour of the Deceased."
The Complete Text of
Ancient Charges of a FREEMASON
The Ancient Records of Lodges beyond the Sea
To Be Read At The Making of New Brethren,
or When The Master Shall Order It.
1. In the Lodge while constituted.
2. After the Lodge is over and the Brethren not gone.
3. When Brethren meet without Strangers, but not in a Lodge.
4. In Presence of Strangers not Masons.
5. At Home and in the Neighborhood.
6. Toward a strange Brother.
I. Concerning GOD and RELIGION.
A Mason is oblig’d by his Tenure, to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist nor an irreligious Libertine. But though in ancient Times Masons were charg’d in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet ‘tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguish’d; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remain'd at a perpetual Distance.
II Of the CIVIL MAGISTRATES SUPREME and SUBORDINATE.
A Mason is a peaceable Subject to the Civil Powers, wherever he resides or works, and is never to be concern'd in Plots an Conspiracies against the Peace and Welfare of the Nation, nor to behave himself undutifully to inferior Magistrates; for as Masonry hath been always injured by War, Bloodshed, and Confusion, so ancient Kings and Princes have been much dispos'd to encourage the Craftsmen, because of their Peaceableness and Loyalty, whereby they practically answer’d the Cavils of their Adversaries, and promoted the Honour of the Fraternity, who ever flourish’d in Time of Peace. So that if a Brother should be a Rebel against the State he is not to be countenanced in his Rebellion, however he may be pitied as any unhappy Man; and, if convicted of no other Crime though the Loyal Brotherhood must and ought to disown hi Rebellion, and give no Umbrage or Ground of political Jealousy to the Government for the time being, they cannot expel him from the Lodge, and his Relation to it remains indefeasible.
III Of LODGES.
A Lodge is a place where Masons assemble and
work; Hence that Assembly, or duly organized Society of Masons, is call’d a
Lodge, and every Brother ought to belong to one, and to be subject to its
By-Laws and the General Regulations.
IV Of MASTERS, WARDENS, FELLOWS and APPRENTICES.
All preferment among Masons is grounded upon real
Worth and personal Merit only; that so the Lords may be well served, the
Brethren not put to Shame, nor the Royal Craft despis'd: Therefore no Master or
Warden is chosen by Seniority, but for his Merit. It is impossible to describe
these things in Writing, and every Brother must attend in his Place, and learn
them in a Way peculiar to this Fraternity: Only Candidates may know that no
Master should take an Apprentice unless he has Sufficient Employment for him,
and unless he be a perfect Youth having no Maim or Defects in his Body that may
render him uncapable of learning the Art of serving his Master's Lord, and of
being made a Brother, and then a Fellow-Craft in due Time, even after he has
served such a Term of Years as the Custom of the Country directs; and that he
should be descended of honest Parents; that so, when otherwise qualifi'd he may
arrive to the Honour of being the Warden, and then the Master of the Lodge, the
Grand Warden, and at length the Grand Master of all the Lodges, according to his
V. Of the MANAGEMENT of the CRAFT in WORKING.
All Masons shall work honestly on Working Days,
that they may live creditably on Holy Days; and the time appointed by the Law of
the Land or confirm'd by Custom shall be observ'd. The most expert of the
Fellow-Craftsmen shall be chosen or appointed the Master or Overseer of the
Lord's Work; who is to be call’d Master by those that work under him. The
Craftsmen are to avoid all ill Language, and to call each other by no
disobliging Name, but Brother or Fellow; and to behave themselves courteously
within and without the Lodge.
VI. Of BEHAVIOUR.
I. In the LODGE while CONSTITUTED.
You are not to hold private Committees, or
separate Conversation without Leave from the Master, nor to talk of anything
impertinent or unseemly, nor interrupt the Master or Wardens, or any Brother
speaking to the Master: Nor behave yourself ludicrously or jestingly while the
Lodge is engaged in what is serious and solemn; nor use any unbecoming Language
upon any Pretense whatsoever; but to pay due Reverence to your Master, Wardens,
and Fellows, and put them to Worship.
2. BEHAVIOUR after the LODGE is over and the BRETHREN not GONE
You may enjoy yourself with innocent Mirth, treating one another according to Ability, but avoiding all Excess, or forcing any Brother to eat or drink beyond his Inclination, or hindering him from going when his Occasions call him, or doing or saying anything offensive, or that may forbid an easy and free Conversation, for that would blast our Harmony, and defeat our laudable Purposes. Therefore no private Piques or Quarrels must be brought within the Door of the Lodge, far less any Quarrels about Religion, or Nations, or State Policy, we being only, as Masons, of the Universal Religion above mention'd, we are also of all Nations, Tongues, Kindreds, and Languages, and are resolv’d against all Politics, as what never yet conduct'd to the Welfare of the Lodge, nor ever will.
3. BEHAVIOUR when BRETHREN meet WITHOUT STRANGERS, but not in a LODGE Formed.
You are to salute one another in a courteous Manner, as you will be instructed, calling each other Brother, freely giving mutual instruction as shall be thought expedient, without being ever seen or overheard, and without encroaching upon each other, or derogating from that Respect which is due to any Brother, were he not Mason: For though all Masons are as Brethren upon the same Level, yet Masonry takes no Honour from a man that he had before; nay, rather it adds to his Honour, especially if he has deserve well of the Brotherhood, who must give Honour to whom it is due, and avoid ill Manners.
4. BEHAVIOUR in presence of Strangers NOT MASONS.
You shall be cautious in your Words and Carriage, that the most penetrating Stranger shall not be able to discover or find out what is not proper to be intimated, and sometimes you shall divert a Discourse, and manage it prudently for the Honour of the worshipful Fraternity.
5. BEHAVIOUR at HOME, and in Your NEIGHBORHOOD.
You are to act as becomes a moral and wise Man; particularly not to let your Family, Friends and Neighbors know the Concern of the Lodge, &c., but wisely to consult your own Honour, and that of the ancient Brotherhood, for reasons not to be mention'd here You must also consult your Health, by not continuing together too late, or too long from Home, after Lodge Hours are past; and by avoiding of Gluttony or Drunkenness, that your Families be not neglected or injured, nor you disabled from working.
6. BEHAVIOUR toward a Strange BROTHER.
You are cautiously to examine him, in such a
Method as Prudence shall direct you, that you may not be impos'd upon by an
ignorant, false Pretender, whom you are to reject with contempt and Derision,
and beware of giving him any Hints of Knowledge.
AMEN, SO MOTE IT BE.
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