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Lenning defines a system of Freemasonry to be the doctrine of Freemasonry as exhibited in the Lodge government and Lodge work or ritual. The definition is not, perhaps, satisfactory. In Freemasonry, a system is a plan or scheme of doctrines intended to develop a particular view as to the origin, the design, and the character of the Institution. The word is often used as synonymous with Rite, but the two words do not always express the same meaning. A system is not always developed into a Rite, or the same system may give birth to two or more different Rites. Doctor Oliver established a system founded on the literal acceptance of almost all the legendary traditions, but he never invented a Rite.

Ramsay and Hund both held the same system as to the Ternplar origin of Freemasonry; but the Rite of Ramsay and the Rite of Strict Observance are very different. The system of Schrder and that of the Grand Lodge of England do not essentially vary, but there is no similarity between the York Rite and the Rite of Schrder. Whoever in Freemasonry sets forth a connected series of doctrines peculiar to himself invents a system. He may or he may not afterward fabricate a Rite. But the Rite would be only a consequence, and not a necessary one, of the system.

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