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General Ahiman Rezon, by Daniel Sickels, [1868], at


WE are convinced by long and extensive observation that Masons need a truer and deeper insight into the nature of our esoteric work. We do not think our beautiful and truth-glowing ritual and our sublime symbolism are quite understood by the mass of the Brotherhood. It is true all are affected, in a certain degree, by them; it

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could not be otherwise: but many fail to discover the grand truths which are inculcated therein. Symbols are of no practical importance, if we have lost the sense they were intended to convey; and rites are puerile, if they do not immediately lead the mind to the consideration of tangible ideas and immortal verities. Our ceremonies are moral and philosophical lessons; and, earnestly studied and rightly understood, will be seen to be pregnant with mighty meanings.

Thus expressive and full of significance is the RITE or INDUCTION.

The induction of the Neophyte into the Order of Freemasonry, his first entrance into the sanctuary of the illuminated, is for him a step of momentous importance and solemnity. There are few candidates, we believe, who can approach the portals of the mystery-shrouded Lodge without much trepidation of heart, and a feeling of mingled awe and fear. Consequently, the induction is effected by the performance of certain appropriate symbolical ceremonies, all of which are remarkably and eloquently suggestive of the new life, duties, and obligations he is about to assume, and to which he is on the point of binding himself voluntarily, absolutely, and without reservation, for ever.

In ancient Egypt, the Neophyte was presented with a cup of water, and addressed in these words:—"Aspirant to the honor of a divine companionship! seeker after celestial truth! this is the water of forgetfulness. Drink!—drink to the oblivion of all your vices—the forgetfulness of all your imperfections; and thus be prepared for the reception of the new revelations of Truth, with which you are soon to be honored." Although modern Freemasonry does not retain this particular ceremony, it preserves the spirit of it, by other forms, not less expressive and instructive. The candidate is directed to close his eyes on the Past—to lay aside the trappings and vestures of the outward world—the symbols of traffic and war—all that reminds one of the selfishness and discords of life—and turn his face towards the dread unknown—the mysterious Future.

The RITE OF INDUCTION, therefore, signifies the end of a profane and vicious life—the palingenesia (new birth) of corrupted human nature—the death of vice and all bad passions, and the introduction to a new life of purity and virtue. It also prepares the candidate, by prayer and meditation, for that mystic pilgrimage, where he must wander through night and darkness, before he can behold the golden splendors of the ORIENT, and stand in unfettered freedom among the Sons of Light.

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The Rite is intended, still further, to represent man in his primitive condition of helplessness, ignorance, and moral blindness, seeking after that mental and moral enlightenment which alone can deliver his mind from all thralldoms, and make him master of the material world. The Neophyte, in darkness and with tremblings, knocks at the portals of the Lodge, and demands admission, instruction, and light. So man, born ignorant, and helpless, and blind, yet feeling stirring within him unappeasable longings for knowledge, knocks at the doors of the temple of science. He interrogates Nature, demands her secrets, and at length becomes the proud possessor of her mysteries.

Finally, the RITE of INDUCTION refers to the supreme hour of man's worldly life, when, laying aside all earthly wealth, and pomp, and rank, and glory, and divested of his mortal vesture, he passes alone through the grim darkness of the tomb, to stand before the GRAND ORIENT of the immortal Land.

"Through death to life I and through this vale of tears,
   And thistle-world of mortal life, ascend
 To the great Banquet, in that world whose years
   Of bliss unclouded, fadeless, know no end."

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