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FREMASONRY AT ITS TRANSFORMATION AND BEYOND

by Bro. B.J. Torres PAGS(147), Researcher/Compiler

 

Posted on June 2006 Issue No. 4 of RIVER DELTA

 

     No Masonic historian has been able to establish the exact date as to when non-operative members were accepted into the Craft, however, we can consider some circumstances which may have led to their admittance.

 

     In the 15th and 16th Centuries, the operative lodges depended upon various civic officers and patrons for the permits and licenses required for the practical operation of the lodges. It is likely therefore, that these magistrates, sheriffs and other dignitaries would have had a close relationship with the lodges under their jurisdiction and it is quite possible that at the several feast days and holidays celebrated by lodges, they would be invited to join the festivities. Once the presence of these officials had been established at the various social events of the operative lodges, it would only require the passage of time before the interests of their party could be furthered by their presence at the business meetings of the lodges. This is but one of the several circumstances when non-operative masons were accepted into the Craft. There were still other circumstances which are documented.

 

     In the year 1600, the records of the Lodge of St. Mary in Edinburgh-Scotland, show that John Boswell of Auchinleck was present at an assembly of Lodge. Boswell was not an operative mason, but whether he was admitted a visitor or a Brother, is not stated. According to the archives of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, the first recorded non-operative mason attended at a Lodge meeting in the year 1634.

 

     In 1641, Roger Morey was initiated and then accepted as a member of Lodge St. Mary. While in England, the first recorded acceptance of non-operative masons was on the 16th of October 1646, when Elias Ashmole and Henry Mainwarring were initiated. According to the manuscripts held by the United Grand Lodge of England, the words "accepted as a Freemason" were used to described a Brother, who had been admitted to the Fraternity, but were not operative masons.

 

     There are still other similar circumstances which need not be cited for our purpose. Thus, the question now arises: "What made these eminent people join the Fraternity?"

 

     Masonic historian could only speculate the main reason for eminent people of science and literature and other fields join the Craft because of the "code of ethics", referring to the Ancient Laws of as early as the year 926, more particularly the "Old York Constitution of 926". It contains Fifteen Articles defining the duties and responsibilities of the Master, and Fifteen Points defining the duties and responsibilities of every mason. This Constitution made the craft well-organized aside from the fact that the rules and regulations were actually lessons of morality making the masons then as real gentlemen and adhering to the principles of brotherly love and charity.

 

     Other code of laws were that of the Constitution of Edward III, the Regulation of 1663 which contained the Ancient Installation Charges and the Ancient Charges of Makings. All of these code of laws contain teaching of love of GOD and regular attendance to one's church.

 

     The transformation or transition actually was more gradual and not abrupt.

 

     By the start of 18th century, the building of great cathedrals practically came to a standstill, throwing away many fine artisans out of employment. Non-operative masons then began to dominate the lodges. Operative elements were completely discarded except so far as its influence is exhibited in the choice and arrangement of symbols, and the typical use of its language, and then shortly thereafter the rules and regulations were changed to become metaphysical sense - relating to the transcendent or to a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses, highly intellectual or philosophical, and hence was born the Speculative Freemasonry as we know and practice at present.

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