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tary to the king ; three principal keepers of the temple ; seven of the king's chosen friends, and other persons of distinction.
In the seventieth year of the captivity of the Jews, and the first of the reign of Cyrus, king of Persia, he issued his famous edict, purporting that the God adored by the Israelites, was the eternal Being through whose bounty he enjoyed the regal dignity, and that he had found himself honourably mentioned by the prophets of ancient date, as the person who should cause Jerusalem to be rebuilt, and restore the Hebrews to their former state of grandeur and independency; he therefore gave orders for the release of the captives, with: his permission to return to their own native country, to rebuild the city, and the house of the Lord.
The principal people of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with the priests and Levites, immediately departed for Jerusalem and commenced the undertaking ; but many of the Jews determined, to remain in Babylon, rather than relinquish the possessions they had obtained in that city.
Charge to a newly exalted Companion. « WORTHY COMPANION,
“ By the consent and assistance of the members of tbis chapter, you are now exalted to the
sublime and honourable degree of a royal arch mason.
“ Having attained this degree, you have arrived at the summit and perfection of ancient masonry ; and are consequently entitled to a full explanation of the mysteries of the order.
“ The rites and mysteries developed in this degree have been handed down through a chosen few, unchanged by time, and uncontrouled by prejudice ; and we expect and trust, they will be regarded by you with the same veneration, and transmitted with the same scrupulous purity to your successors.
« No one can reflect on the ceremonies of gaining admission into this place, without being forcibly struck with the important lessons which they teach.
“ Here we are necessarily led to contemplate with gratitude and admiration the sacred source from whence all earthly comforts flow ; here we find additional inducements to continue stedfast and immoveable in the discharge of our respective duties ; and here we are bound, by the most solemn ties, to promote each others' welfare, and correct each others' failings, by advice, admonition and reproof.
" As it is our most earnest desire, and a duty we owe to our companions of this order, that the
admission of every candidate into this chapter shall be attended by the approbation of the most scrutinizing eye, we hope always to possess the satisfaction of finding none amongst us, but such as will promote to the utmost of their power the great end of our institution. By paying due attention to this determination, we expect you will never recommend any candidate to this chapter, whose abilities, and knowledge of the foregoing degrees, you cannot freely vouch for, and whom you do not firmly and confidently believe, will fully, conform to the principles of our order, and fulfil the obligations of a royal arch mason. While such are our members, we may expect to be united in one object, without lukewarmness, inattention or neglect ; but zeal, fidelity, and affection, will be the distinguishing characteristics of our society, and that satisfaction, harmony and peace may be enjoyed at our meetings, which no other society can afford.”
The chapter is closed with solemn ceremonies ; and the following prayer is rehearsed, by the most excellent high priest:
By the Wisdom of the Supreme High Priest may we be directed, by his Strength may we be enabled, and by the Beauty of virtue. may we be
incited, to perform the obligations here enjoined on us ; to keep inviolably the mysteries here unfolded to us ; and invariably to practise all those duties out of the chapter, which are inculcated in
Response. So mote it be.
After these observations, little more can be wanted to encourage the zealous mason to persevere in his researches. Whoever has traced the art in regular progression from the commencement of the first, to the conclusion of the seventh degree, according to the plan here laid down, will have amassed an ample store of useful learning ; and must reflect with pleasure on the good effects of his past diligence and attention ; while, by applying the whole to the general advantage of society, he will observe method in the
distribution of what he has acquired, secure to himself the veneration of masons, and the approbation of all good men.
Observations on the Order of High Priest.
THIS order appertains to the office of High Priest of a Royal Arch Chapter, and no one can be legally entitled to receive it until he has been elected to sustain that office in some regular chapter of Royal Arch Masons.
The following passages of scripture are made use of during the ceremonies appertaining to this order, viz.
Gen. xiv. 12-24. “ And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, (who dwelt in Sodom,) and his goods, and departed. And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew ; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner : and these were confederate with Abram. And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him, (after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him,) at the valley of Sheveh, which is the king's dale. And Melchizedec king of Salem brought forth bread and, wine : and he was the priest of the