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

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IF the grounds to be consecrated are the property of a particular Lodge, this service should be conducted by the officers of that Lodge, which should be opened in due form, at the usual place of meeting, and march in procession to the Cemetery.

If several Lodges are interested, the exercises should be under the supervision of the Grand Lodge.

The brethren, having arrived at the grounds, should be arranged in such a manner as to inclose an open space, in the form of an oblong square. The Grand Master, his Deputy, or the Master of the Lodge—as the case may be—should stand in the East, looking toward the West.

Grand Master. Let the gates of the South and the West be guarded.

The Wardens take their respective positions.

G. M. Right Worshipful Grand Senior Warden, what is a Lodge?

G. S. W. A Lodge is the symbol of the world.

G. M. What are its dimensions?

G. S. W. It reaches from the North to the South, and from the East to the West.

G. M. Hath it any limits?

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G. S. W. None; it embraceth the region of stars above, the empire of graves below, and the kingdoms of eternal silence.

G. M. You have said that the Lodge is a symbol of the world. As the world then is, in one sense, a vast Lodge, what is the last and highest duty which a Mason is called upon to discharge therein?

G. S. W. To watch by the bed of a sick and dying brother, to soothe his last hours, to console and relieve his widow, protect his orphan children, and provide a suitable resting-place for his mortal remains.

G. M. Even so; and beloved brethren, we are assembled to-day to perform the last, but not the least part of this most sacred task. We are here to consecrate these grounds, by solemn services, to a solemn use. But feeling all our weakness and blindness, and knowing that our unaided efforts must be unavailing, let us first implore the presence and aid of him from whom alone light and strength can come.



SUPREME ARCHITECT OF THE UNIVERSE! who, in all ages, hast presided over the labors of our Fraternity, and whose benevolent and paternal care all worthy • Masons have, in all times, recognized with tears of gratitude, we approach thee now, in a spirit of filial reverence and trust, to implore Thy presence and the abundance of thy benedictions upon the

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solemn labors of the present hour. Knowing our weakness, we ask thee for Strength. Conscious of our ignorance, we implore of thee Light. Sensible of our frailties and imperfections, we pray that the Holy Spirit may breathe upon our hearts, that they may bloom with the flowers of Virtue and Charity, as the earth blooms beneath the genial influence of the sunshine. And, finally, O God! we beseech thee to impart to us thy Wisdom, that we may be guided into the ways of Truth, accomplish our present undertaking in a manner acceptable to thee, and be prepared for a higher service in thy Spiritual Temple above.—AMEN.

Response. So mote it be.

G. M. LORD, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations!

Response. And thy Mercy endureth forever.

G. M. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art GOD.

Response. And thy Mercy endureth forever.

G. M. Thou turnest man to destruction, and sayest, return ye children of men.

Response. Yet thy Mercy endureth forever.

G. M. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday, when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

Response. But thy Mercy endureth forever.

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G. M. Thou earnest them away as a flood; they are as asleep; in the morning they are like grass that groweth up.

Response. But thy Mercy endureth forever.

G. M. In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.

Response. But thy Mercy endureth forever.

G. M. For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath we are troubled.

Response. But thy Mercy endureth forever.

G. M. Thou hast set our iniquities before thee our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.

Response. But thy Mercy endureth forever.

G. M. For all our days are passed away in thy wrath; we spend our years as a tale that is told.

Response. But thy Mercy endureth forever.

G. M. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto Wisdom.

Response. For thy Mercy endureth forever.

G. M. O, satisfy us early with thy Mercy; that we may be glad and rejoice all our days. Response. For thy Mercy endureth forever.

G. M. Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.

Response. For thy Mercy endureth forever.

G. M. Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.

Response. For thy Mercy endureth forever.

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G. M. And let the Beauty of the Lord our God be upon us; and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands, establish thou it. And to the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the one only living and true God, be offered worship and praise.

Response. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. So mote it be.—AMEN.


O God! who, when the world was young,
  Didst walk in Eden's fragrant bowers,
Where Adam, just created, sung
  His grateful hymns ’mid trees and flowers
Thy servants here, with reverence, bend,
  As did the father of our race,
Imploring thee thy grace to send,
  And with thy glory fill this place.

O thou! who look’st with pitying eye,
  On us who dwell ’mid death's alarms,
And while we live, or when we die,
  Dost fold us in thy loving arms;
Here, where in death our loved ones sleep,
  O let thy benedictions fall,
And teach us, as their loss we weep,
  That deathless Love embraceth all.

Here, let the weary find repose,
  ’Mongst fragrant flowers and waving trees—
Emblems, at once, of mortal woes,
  And everlasting sympathies— p. 380
And grant, O God! that we may see
  In Nature's swelling buds, and bloom,
The Spirit's immortality
  And final victory o’er the tomb.

G. M. Brethren: As our Masonic obligations enjoin upon us not only a tender regard for all the interests of a brother while living, but also an affectionate and honorable disposal of his remains, when the great Master of Life has summoned him to his rest, these grounds have been secured and set apart for that sacred purpose. And as Freemasonry is an institution of symbols, and communicates its instructions through a sublime system of emblems, it is eminently proper that a Masonic Cemetery should be consecrated by ceremonies of a symbolical character. It should also be adorned with trees and shrubs and flowers, which have a symbolical meaning connected with such solemn uses. No artificial monuments of iron, or brass, or stone, which we erect to preserve the remembrance of the departed, can compare in efficiency or beauty with those that Nature produces, and which, though subject to decay, are perpetually renewed.

All parts of the universe are symbolic, each one of which was, no doubt, designed by the Creator to reveal, and impress upon the mind, some special idea or sentiment. The visible world is but the shadow or reflex of the verities of the invisible, and between the seen and the unseen there is a

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mysterious relationship. The Spiritual is mourned in every visible thing, underlies all forms, and reveals itself in every tree and flower. Through all time, and among all peoples, have the prominent features of the universe revealed the same thoughts to all earnest hearts. Ever has the mountain been the symbol of power and durability; the oak of firmness and confidence; the various evergreens of immortality; the cypress of death; and the drooping elm, and weeping willow, of a profound sorrow and an eternal sympathy. These emblems of Hope, and Faith, and Immortality, of undying affection, and tender sympathy, and everlasting love, are the appropriate decorations of a Masonic burial-place:

Types, Truth selects, appropriate
  Fair fading creatures of a day,
Of human life to indicate
  The fragile state and swift decay;
Now in prosperity elate,
  And then forever passed away;
Bedecking thus the mortal cell,
Our tale impressively they tell.
And when the Spring's reviving breath
  Wakes latent energies below,
Leaves, buds and blossoms bursting forth,
  With graceful life and beauty glow,
Symbols of triumph over death,
  The Resurrection hope they show;
The Grave her tenants shall restore,
And Death of victory boast no more.

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One reason why we have been accustomed to look with so much terror on the grave is the dreadful gloom in which human inventions have shrouded it. The funereal emblems and rites of the olden times, and of the earlier periods of the Christian Church, were exceedingly beautiful and hopeful. But for several centuries we appear to have lost much of the deep and earnest faith of their ancestors—they have seemed to doubt whether the idea of immortality be, indeed, a verity, and, under the influence of a withering skepticism, have declared that the departed are henceforth nothing to us, and we are nothing to them. Freemasonry rebukes and repudiates such gloomy theories, so repulsive to the warm affections of the heart. The Lodge has no limitations. It reaches through all worlds. It embraces the visible world of men, and the invisible world of spirits. It proclaims that friendship survives the grave, that love is immortal, and that the Masonic ties of our great Brotherhood are as perpetual as eternity. Freemasonry, therefore, would throw no gloom around man's supreme hour, nor marshal an army of hideous spectres around the beds of the dying, or the graves of the honored dead. It would rather remove every gloomy token—take from the grave's brink the briers and thorns of fear—and plant, in their place, the flowers of hope, and trust, and love. It would rend from the sculptured monuments which cover the dead the grim and spectral images of

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despair, and engrave thereon the symbols of a Hope that burns more and more brightly through the ages, and of a Love which even death cannot destroy. It would quiet the fears of its children, and bring to their hearts a calm and enduring Faith in the invisible, and an imperishable trust in the Father of the world. It would so quicken that faith, that it would penetrate the veil of eternity, and see the assembly of the wise and good, who have illuminated the world by their labors, reyouthed and clothed in immortal beauty, renewing and continuing the sweet communions that commenced on earth.

To such a Faith and Hope, and under the inspiration of such a Love, let this place be consecrated. Hither let us bear our brethren, who have been stricken by the hand of death, and lay them to rest among the trees and flowers. Here may they sleep in peace, where the murmurs of the winds and trees will chant their eternal requiem, and the fairest flowers affection's hand can plant will cover their graves with perpetual bloom. And hither may we, who are yet permitted to dwell amid the sorrows of mortality, come to meditate on the brevity of life, and the vanity of all its pomp, and show, and pride—on our great obligations and duties, and the glorious reward that awaits us when we are admitted to the "Middle Chamber" of the Celestial Temple. There let us come to hold communion with the spirits of our departed brothers who may be slumbering in

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these solemn shades. There is nothing more salutary, more humanizing to the heart, or more strengthening to our virtue, than this frequent communion with, and invocation of, the spirit of the dead. For we should never forget that the bond of Freemasonry is a three-fold cord, over which death even has no power—that our deceased brethren yet live; are still working in the heavenly Lodges, and that they are yet bound to us, and we to them, in the ties of an eternal friendship. "After life's fitful fever, they, indeed, sleep well;" but the lives they have lived, and the examples they have given to the world, can never perish. Let us pray that by their virtue we may become more virtuous, and by their wisdom more wise; that they may watch over as guardian geniuses, and preserve us from all selfishness, irreverence, and injustice in thought, word, and deed. Standing here, the awful and silent stars over our heads; the solemn and silent graves beneath our feet, let us listen to that warning voice which resounds from the regions beyond the stars, and swells up from the realms of eternal silence. "Children of mortality," yet heirs to an endless life! remember that the great Destiny Book is placed in your hands! Beware what you write therein; for every pencil stroke, be it bright or dark, will be a beam of light, bearing into your souls an exceeding peace, or a grim shadow, waving darkly through your thoughts forever!

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And, finally, let us labor faithfully and reverently in our several vocations, true to all our duties to GOD and man, so that when we are, called to close our labors on earth we may be prepared for admission to the grand and solemn mysteries of the Land of Light.



O thou, who art the Creator, and Father, and Preserver of all men; who, although clothed with immortal splendor, and dwelling in the high and holy place, dost condescend to abide in the hearts of the humble and contrite, we, thy servants, now draw near to thee, to supplicate thy grace, and those benedictions which thou hast promised unto all such as approach thee in a spirit of loving reverence, and child-like confidence.

When we consider thy grandeur, and our own feebleness; when we cast our eyes upward, to survey the shining heavens, where mighty constellations are sweeping in brightness through their everlasting circles, and turn our thoughts upon ourselves—frail worms of the dust—we are oppressed with a deep sense of our insignificance and unworthiness, and in our humility we exclaim, "What is man that thou art mindful of him? and the sons of men that thou regardest them?" Yet, thanks to thee, Almighty God, that notwithstanding our apparent nothingness,

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thou hast given us minds which can soar to thee, and invested us with the attributes of an immortal nature. Thou hast also made us capable of acquiring that divine wisdom "which is brighter than the sun, and above all the order of the stars,'' by which the soul is expanded to angelic perfection, and imbued with the Life and Beauty of the heavenly world.

Almighty GOD, our Heavenly Father, who lookest with benignant eye upon all men; who seest every tear of misery, and hearest the mourners cry, we implore thee to impart thy grace, and the efficient consolations of thy Spirit, to all such as are called to mourn. Soothe and comfort all the bereaved, with that Faith which hath power to pierce the dark mystery of the grave, and look upon the immortal glories beyond; and that sublime Hope which with joyful tears contemplates a future reunion of all who have been separated on earth, in a circle that death can never more invade.

O thou, who art the GOD of the dead as well as of the living, we ask thy blessing to rest upon us, who are here assembled, and upon the solemn services in which we are engaged. This quiet spot, which we consecrate to the departed, we commend to thy protection and care. May it be sanctified by thy presence. May we recognize in this murmuring foliage thy paternal voice, speaking to our hearts, in accents of tenderness and love. And, grant,

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[paragraph continues] O God, that thy holy angels, who watched by an ancient tomb, where suffering Virtue found repose in death, may be permitted to spread their radiant wings over this place of graves, and make it bright with the Light of an immortal Hope. Here, guarded thus by heavenly watchers, may our loved ones rest in peace, until the great day when, together with us, they shall be called to the grand Convocation to receive the recompense for faithful labors.

"Now unto Him who is able to keep us from falling and to present us before the throne of his glory, with exceeding joy, be ascribed honor, dominion, and power through all ages."—AMEN.

Response. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.—AMEN. So mote it be.

Here an appropriate piece of music should be played by a band, during which the brethren should move in procession around the Cemetery, the Grand Master in the meanwhile sprinkling the grounds with pure water. The public grand honors are then given, which closes the ceremony.

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