The payment of annual dues by a member to his Lodge is a comparatively modern custom, and one that certainly did not exist before the revival of 1717. As previous to that period, according to Preston, Lodges received no Warrants, but a sufficient number of Brethren meeting together were competent to practice the Rites of Freemasonry, and as soon as the special business which called them together had been accomplished, they separated; there could have been no permanent organization of Speculative Freemasons, and no necessity for contributions to constitute a Lodge fund.
Dues must therefore have been unknown except in the Lodges of Operative Freemasons, which, as we find, especially in Scotland, had a permanent existence.
There is, accordingly, no regulation in any of the old Constitutions for the payment of dues. Brother Mackey held that it is not a general Masonic duty, in which the Freemason is affected to the whole of the Craft, but an arrangement between himself and his Lodge, with which the Grand Lodge ought not to interfere. As the payment of dues is not a duty owing to the Craft in general, so, in his opinion, the non-payment of them is not an offense against the Craft, but simply against his Lodge, the only punishment for which should be striking from the roll or discharge from membership.
Brother Mackey reports that in his day it was the almost universal opinion of Masonic jurists that suspension or expulsion from the Order is a punishment that should never be inflicted for non-payment of dues. However, the reader must be referred to the Masonic Code of his own Jurisdiction for the practice prevailing there.
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