Thursday, December 16, 2021

‘Unworthy of the obedience of the Lodges’


There has been a simple but essential rule in our English brethren’s Constitutions that has endured 300 years. We first encounter it in Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723, under General Regulations. It is attributed to Grand Master George Payne, who is said to have compiled the Regulations in 1720, which were “approv’d by the Grand-Lodge on St. John Baptist Day, Anno 1721, at Stationers’ Hall, London.”

Dogged scholars in later centuries would doubt the who, when, and where details, but what is unassailable is the consistent publication of this canonical rule and guide for Masonic good governance:

If the Grand Master should abuse his power and render himself unworthy of the obedience of the Lodges, he shall be subjected to some new regulation, to be dictated by the occasion; because, hitherto, the Antient Fraternity have had no reason to provide for an event which they have presumed would never happen.

Originally this was Regulation XIX, and thirteen decades later it was No. 11, and today it is 15. The United Grand Lodge of England’s General Laws and Regulations for the Government of the Craft might change occasionally, but not that Regulation. Even if it moves around in sequence, it is constant.


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