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TAE length of time which has elapsed since the first publication of a Maryland “Ahiman Rezon”--the very limited edition of that work, and the many important facts which have since occurred, in the history of Masonry in Maryland-seemed to render a work like the present a desideratum. At the solicitation of a number of worthy brethren, whose able assistance and co-operation were promised and faithfully given, I was induced to undertake this compilation. It was begun, continued, and ended,” amidst. the bustle of an active business, which left me but little leisure, to attend to inaccuracies, of arrangement, or style, and which has necessarily delayed its appearance much beyond the expected period of its publication.
To the kind and indulgent members of the Fraternity, little more, I trust, need be said, to palliate the imperfections of the work now offered to their notice. I do not profess to be a writer; nor should I now have intruded myself before my brethren, in that character, had I not reposed too much confidence in their benevolence, to dread their criticism. The truth is, I have received such valuable aid in the prosecution of my labours, that I have had little more to do, than to abridge, arrange, and set in order, the many books and manuscripts, which have been placed in my hands. This has been done, in such a way as appeared best calculated to illustrate and explain the several degrees of the Order.
With respect to any hope of pecuniary emolument, I must entreat my brethren to believe that no such sordid motive eutered into my views—I am a Mason—and am in love with Masonry; and no man, who is duly impressed with the proud pre-eminence of this noble Order, this radiant emanation of Divine Love, can feel the chilling influence of avarice. No! the precepts of our Institution, the laws of our Founder, the universal practice of our members, forbid the grovelling idea of selfish considerations. The Temple of Masonry bears on its front the impress of an Almighty Builder—the tide of time has dashed against its walls in vain—the storms of persecution have passed over it with harmless fury-the shafts of malice have fallen, innoxious, at its threshold—the assaults of its foes have ended in their own disgrace. What, but the work of a Divine Master, could thus have withstood the all-subduing influence of time, the rage of human passions, the ceaseless revolutions of all mortal things!
I cannot, perhaps, conclude this short address in more appropriate terms, than those to be found in the following extracts of a letter, which was kindly put into my hands a few days ago, by a much esteemed and distinguished member of our Fraternity. The brief analysis which it contains of Masonry, cannot be too deeply impressed upon the minds of all, who are, or would become, Free and Accepted Ma
Natches, May 27, 1817. «Your friendly letter of the 22d ultimo, I have had the pleasure to receive -I thank you for the expressions of brotherly kindness therein, and shall pray Almighty God to enable us, in future life, to know, feel, and enjoy every masonic blessing within our reach.
“Wait a time with patience” until I present before you the outline of my masonic life. From an early period I became in principle a mason, and availed myself of the first opportunity of initiation, and in the first degree per. oeived, that inappretiable blessings were before me, solemn and extremely important principles of divine truth were inculcated. In the second degree I obtained rules to reduce to practice the principles of the first. The third degree afforded a rich treasure of theoretical and practical morality, enabling the candidate to regain the image of the divine “Aleim," surmount every difficulty, and scale the mount of God. In the M. mason's degree I obtained a plan “well ordered in all things" to avert the evils of any disorganizing power, and prevent the calamities of poverty and want. As a P. M. I learned the true art of governing myself, and those over whom I should be appointed to preside. In the M. E. Master's degree I was carried back to the time when the temple was finished, the capstone brought forth with shoutings of “grace, grace to it,” the ark “safely seated, the M. E. masters prostrate before the Eternal, praising his goodness and mercy, and the fire of heaven not only burning on the holy altar, but in the hearts of the worthy; my heart was touched as with a live coal from the altar, and I could not but exclaim, “glory to God in the highest.”
In the R. A. mason's degree I beheld myself exalted to the top of Pisgah, an extensive scene opened to my view of the glory and goodness of the M, E. H. P. of our salvation. I dug deep for hidden treasures, found them, and regained the omnific word. In the order of Melchizedec, a degree of Priest hood was presented to me more excellent than that of Levi, a surety of a better testament --holy, harmless, and unchangeable. Still pressing for. ward for the prize, I obtained the beautiful and interesting degree of the “select mason,” in which I received a golden chain of traditional knowledge extending from Enoch to H. A. elucidating and explaining many important subjects heretofore obscure. Several minor degrees were communicated, and to close this part, I received the ancient degree of the Mediterranean, a degree extremely useful and valuable to a seaman. Here I made a pause in my researches into antiquity.
After resting a few months, my mind hungered for more of the rich viands of divine truth, I became a K. R. C. a degree really connected with the R. A. as it exhibits a continuation of the same pious labours. Changing my warlike furniture. I became a pilgrim, and with my staff, scrip, and sandals, travelled to the awful dome of the K. T. and sued for admittance, I gained it; trod the paths of my redeemer, drank the bitter cup, was crucified with him, and triumphed over death and hell. To this solemn degree was soon added that of Malta, where my masonic career stops for the present.
Masonry with us is in prosperity, as it will always be where its professors are intelligent and faithful. With Isaiah I can truly say “the wilderness and solitary places are glad, the desert rejoices and blossoms as the rose.”