Saturday, October 25, 2008

Of the Officers of a Subordinate Lodge - Section II. Of Appeals from the Decision of the Chair

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

Freemasonry differs from all other institutions, in permitting no appeal to the lodge from the decision of the presiding officer. The Master is supreme in his lodge, so far as the lodge is concerned. He is amenable for his conduct, in the government of the lodge, not to its members, but to the Grand Lodge alone. In deciding points of order as well as graver matters, no appeal can be taken from that decision to the lodge. If an appeal were proposed, it would be his duty, for the preservation of discipline, to refuse to put the question. It is, in fact, wrong that the Master should even by courtesy permit such an appeal to be taken, because, as the Committee of Correspondence of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee have wisely remarked, by the admission of such appeals by courtesy, "is established ultimately a precedent from which will be claimed the right to take appeals." [Proceedings of G.L. of Tennessee, 1850. Appendix A, p. 8.]

If a member is aggrieved with the conduct or the decisions of the Master, he has his redress by an appeal to the Grand Lodge, which will of course see that the Master does not rule his lodge "in an unjust or arbitrary manner." But such a thing as an appeal from the Master to the lodge is unknown in Masonry.

This, at first view, may appear to be giving too despotic a power to the Master. But a little reflection will convince any one that there can be but slight danger of oppression from one so guarded and controlled as the Master is by the obligations of his office and the superintendence of the Grand Lodge, while the placing in the hands of the craft so powerful and, with bad spirits, so annoying a privilege as that of immediate appeal, would necessarily tend to impair the energies and lessen the dignity of the Master, at the same time that it would be totally subversive of that spirit of strict discipline which pervades every part of the institution and to which it is mainly indebted for its prosperity and perpetuity.

In every case where a member supposes himself to be aggrieved by the decision of the Master, he should make his appeal to the Grand Lodge. It is scarcely necessary to add, that a Warden or Past Master, presiding in the absence of the Master, assumes for the time all the rights and prerogatives of the Master.

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