The Charges in Each Degree

The ‘Old Charges’ (or Constitutions) are documents that have come down to us from the 14th century.

They contain the rules and regulations by which both operative and speculative Lodges should be run and the moral and social standards to which each Lodge member should adhere.

The Charges in Each Degree

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Some of the Old Charges include the likes of the Halliwell Manuscript better known as the Regius Poem of 1390, the Cooke Manuscript of 1490, Edinburgh-Kilwinning Manuscript of 1670, Lodge of Antiquity Manuscript of 1686, and the Papworth Manuscript of 1714.

There are many more in the libraries and Grand Lodges around the world.

The first official ‘Book of Constitution’ was written by Anderson and Désaguliers in 1723.

At the Uniting of the two Grand Lodges, Moderns and Ancients, on 27 December, 1813, an updated version of the Old Charges or Constitutions was written by Williams in 1815.

The present UGLE ‘Book of Constitutions’ is substantially that of Williams.

Each of the three degrees in Craft Masonry has its own ‘charge’, which relates to the purpose of the degree and gives an expectation of how the candidate should conduct himself.

The first degree is about the ‘moral man’, and the charge after initiation reflects that intention.

Anderson’s Constitution of 1723, broke down how a Freemason should act in the following circumstances:

1. Of God and Religion.
2. Of the Civil Magistrate, supreme and subordinate.
3. Of Lodges.
4. Of Masters, Wardens, Fellows and Apprentices.
5. Of the Management of the Craft in working.
6. Of Behavior, viz.:

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 Neighbourhood.
6. Toward a strange Brother.

When we break down the modern first degree ‘charge after initiation’, we find that it covers each of the same points made in 1723, which itself is a reflection on the behaviour of a Mason written in the Halliwell Manuscript.

Commentary on the Charge after Initiation

A more detailed explanation in order for us to understand the Charge after Initiation

more….

The second degree ‘charge’ reflects that of the ‘educated man’. It reminds you of your behaviour as taught in the Charge after Initiation, and goes on to invite you to study the Liberal Arts and Sciences, in particular Geometry which stands as the basis of our Institution.

In other words, it emphasizes the importance of education, self-development and the moral meanings behind our rituals.

To act as a role model both inside and outside of the Lodge. It teaches us to: ‘judge with candour, admonish with friendship, and reprehend with mercy’.

It teaches you to act as a good friend, never to wrong people, but be as supportive as you can without detriment to yourself or your connections.

The third degree charge asks you to reflect upon yourself as both a moral and educated man. It encourages you to achieve in life what you want to achieve without fear and under the guidance of your faith.

To be the best version of yourself that you are able to be. That you ‘live respected and die regretted’.

Such are the rules governing the behaviour expected from a Freemason. Rules that have been laid down for our guidance for centuries and are our antient landmarks.

To be a good, virtuous, charitable and educated man of faith. A man who inspires brotherly love, relief, and truth.

Footnotes
Referances

Bibligraphy

http://www.scozzeserettificato.ch/Docs/Ancch.pdf

https://www.masonic-lodge-of-education.com/old-charges.html

The Book of Constitution Ritual Book

Lodge of Union No. 38

Article by: Stephen J. Goulding

Stephen was initiated into Freemasonry in 1978 in Tylney Lodge No. 5856 (UGLE). He was Master in 1989 & 2004.

He was Master of the Lodge of Union 38 (UGLE) in 2018. He is also a PZ in the Holy Royal Arch and PM in the Mark Degree.

Stephen served 30 years in the Metropolitan Police Service (London, England) before going into education in 2000, where he became a college lecturer and a mentor for both the college and the University of Greenwich (London, England). Now retired, he teaches Tai Chi and Qigong in the community.

Facebook: Steve Goulding-Tai Chi West Sussex–Chi at Chi

 

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