Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Definition of an Order from Masonic Encyclopedia

An Order may be defined to be a brotherhood, fellowship, or association of certain persons, united by laws and statutes peculiar to the society, engaged in a common object or design, and distinguished by particular habits, ensigns, badges or symbols.

Johnson's definition is that an Order is "a regular government, a society of dignified persons distinguished by marks of honor, and a religious fraternity." in all of these senses Freemasonry may be styled an Order. Its government is of the most regular and systematic character; men the most eminent for dignity and reputation have been its members; and it does not constitute a religion in itself, it is at least religion's handmaid.

The ecclesiastical writers define an Order to be a congregation or society of religious persons, governed by particular rules, living under the same superior, in the same manner, and wearing the same habit; a definition equally applicable to the society of Freemasons. These ecclesiastical Orders are divided into three classes: 1. Monastic, such as Benedictines and the Augustinians. 2. The Mendicant, as the Dominicans and Franciscans. 3. The Military, as the Hospitallers, the Templars, and the Teutonic Knights. Only the first and third have any connection with Freemasonry; the first because it was by them that architecture was fostered, and the Masonic gilds patronized in the Middle Ages; and the third because it was in the bosom of Freemasonry that the Templars found a refuge after the dissolution of their Order.

An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry: By Albert Mackey, M.D. 1894 (pg. 551-552)