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 governmental 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 if 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 or 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:
l. Monastic, such as the Benedictines and the Augustinians. 2. The Mendicant, as the Dominicans and the Franciscans. 3. The Military, as the Hospitalers, the Templars, and the Teutonic Knights.
Only the first and the 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.
The book to which all appeals were made, in the Order of Strict Observance, as to matters of history, usage, or ritual. It was invariably bound in red.
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