The Principles of Masonic Law/Chapter XVI

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Affiliation is defined to be the act by which a lodge receives a Mason among its members. A profane is said to be "initiated," but a Mason is "affiliated."[1]

Now the mode in which a Mason becomes affiliated with a lodge, in some respects differs from, and in others resembles, the mode in which a profane is initiated.

A Mason, desiring to be affiliated with a lodge, must apply by petition; this petition must be referred to a committee for investigation of character, he must remain in a state of probation for one month, and must then submit to a ballot, in which unanimity will be required for his admission. In all these respects, there is no difference in the modes of regulating applications for initiation and affiliation. The Fifth and Sixth General Regulations, upon which these usages are founded, draw no distinction between the act of making a Mason and admitting a member. The two processes are disjunctively connected in the language of both regulations. "No man can be made, or admitted a member... without previous notice one month before;" are the words of the Fifth Regulation. And in a similar spirit the Sixth adds: "But no man can be entered a Brother in any particular lodge, or admitted to be a member thereof, without the unanimous consent of all the members of that lodge."

None but Master Masons are permitted to apply for affiliation; and every Brother so applying must bring to the lodge to which he applies a certificate of his regular dismission from the lodge of which he was last a member. This document is now usually styled a "demit," and should specify the good standing of the bearer at the time of his resignation or demission.

Under the regulations of the various Grand Lodges of this country, a profane cannot, as has been already observed, apply for initiation in any other lodge than the one nearest to his residence. No such regulation, however, exists in relation to the application of a Mason for affiliation. Having once been admitted into the Order, he has a right to select the lodge with which he may desire to unite himself. He is not even bound to affiliate with the lodge in which he was initiated, but after being raised, may leave it, without signing the bye-laws, and attach himself to another.

A profane, having been rejected by a lodge, can never apply to any other for initiation. But a Mason, having been rejected, on his application for affiliation, by a lodge, is not thereby debarred from subsequently making a similar application to any other.

In some few jurisdictions a local regulation has of late years been enacted, that no Mason shall belong to more than one lodge. It is, I presume, competent for a Grand Lodge to enact such a regulation; but where such enactment has not taken place, we must be governed by the ancient and general principle.

The General Regulations, adopted in 1721, contain no reference to this case; but in a new regulation, adopted on the 19th February, 1723, it was declared that "no Brother shall belong to more than one lodge within the bills of mortality." This rule was, therefore, confined to the lodges in the city of London, and did not affect the country lodges. Still, restricted as it was in its operation, Anderson remarks, "this regulation is neglected for several reasons, and now obsolete."[2] Custom now in England and in other parts of Europe, as well as in some few portions of this country, is adverse to the regulation; and where no local law exists in a particular jurisdiction, I know of no principle of masonic jurisprudence which forbids a Mason to affiliate himself with more than one lodge.

The only objection to it is one which must be urged, not by the Order, but by the individual. It is, that his duties and his responsibilities are thus multiplied, as well as his expenses. If he is willing to incur all this additional weight in running his race of Masonry, it is not for others to resist this exuberance of zeal. The Mason, however, who is affiliated with more than one lodge, must remember that he is subject to the independent jurisdiction of each; may for the same offense be tried in each, and, although acquitted by all except one, that, if convicted by that one, his conviction will, if he be suspended or expelled, work his suspension or expulsion in all the others.


  1. See Mackey's Lexicon of Freemasonry, in voce.
  2. Constitutions, Second Edition of 1738, p. 154.