Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Of the Executive Power of a Grand Lodge

A Treatise on the Constitutional Laws, Usages And Landmarks of Freemasonry
by Dr.Albert Gallatin Mackey, 1856

The English Constitutions conclude, in the passage that has formed the basis of our previous remarks, by asserting that "in the Grand Lodge, alone, resides the power of erasing lodges and expelling Brethren from the craft, a power which it ought not to delegate to any subordinate authority." The power of the Grand Lodge to erase lodges is accompanied with a coincident power of constituting new lodges. This power it originally shared with the Grand Master and still does in England; but in this country the power of the Grand Lodge is paramount to that of the Grand Master. The latter can only constitute lodges temporarily, by dispensation and his act must be confirmed, or may be annulled by the Grand Lodge. It is not until a lodge has received its Warrant of Constitution from the Grand Lodge, that it can assume the rank and exercise the prerogatives of a regular and legal lodge.

The expelling power is one that is very properly intrusted to the Grand Lodge, which is the only tribunal that should impose a penalty affecting the relations of the punished party with the whole fraternity. Some of the lodges in this country have claimed the right to expel independently of the action of the Grand Lodge. But the claim is founded on an erroneous assumption of powers that have never existed and which are not recognized by the ancient constitutions, nor the general usages of the fraternity. A subordinate lodge tries its delinquent member, under the provisions, which have already been stated and, according to the general usage of lodges in the United States, declares him expelled. But the sentence is of no force nor effect until it has been confirmed by the Grand Lodge, which may, or may not, give the required confirmation and which, indeed, often refuses to do so, but actually reverses the sentence. It is apparent, from the views already expressed on the judicial powers of the Grand Lodge, that the sentence of expulsion uttered by the subordinate is to be taken in the sense of a recommendatory report and that it is the confirmation and adoption of that report by the Grand Lodge that alone gives it vitality and effect.

The expelling power presumes, of course, coincidently, the reinstating power. As the Grand Lodge alone can expel, it also alone can reinstate.

These constitute the general powers and prerogatives of a Grand Lodge. Of course there are other local powers, assumed by various Grand Lodges and differing in the several jurisdictions, but they are all derived from some one of the three classes that we have enumerated. From these views, it will appear that a Grand Lodge is the supreme legislative, judicial and executive authority of the Masonic jurisdiction in which it is situated. It is, to use a feudal term, "the lord paramount" in Masonry. It is a representative body, in which, however, it constituents have delegated everything and reserved no rights to themselves. Its authority is almost unlimited, for it is restrained by but a single check:It cannot alter or remove the ancient landmarks.

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