Ancient initiation rite


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My kinsman, you are about to have conferred upon you the title of a Knight of The Maccabees, but before this is done, I desire to call your attention to the objects of our Order and to some of the requirements of a membership among us.

Its great object is to unite fraternally all those who are physically and morally qualified under its laws, in order to better aid and assist those who may become disabled, or who may reach the allotted age of man, and to provide for the widows, orphans, and dependents of its members.

This Order is a great co-partnership; all are equally interested in its welfare; all are equal under its laws. It is not a cold business corporation, organized for profit and gain. Its foundation is fraternity; its superstructure, protection, and in order to promote its healthy growth and enlarge its usefulness, we must all work zealously hand in hand. The ceremony through which you have just passed was not an imaginary creation, in which an attempt was made to entertain or surprise you. The tragedies you have seen enacted and the warfare in which you are supposed to have taken a part are facts, and part of both sacred and profane history.

While groping your way cautiously along a solitary and unfamiliar pathway, you were set upon in a rude manner, carried captive before an arbitrary despot, and subjected to a most harrowing and desperate experience, to test your loyalty to friends, as well as your regard for the assurances you made to Mattathias. How well you bore the ordeal and justified those assurances let your own thoughts now answer, and let that answer be a warning for the future and a solemn reminder of your fraternal covenant with us. While in this dilemma your Maccabee friend, after freeing himself from the chains of his oppressors, came to your relief, and rescued you from your perilous situation—and later, to more fully exemplify the beautiful lesson of friendship, bestowed upon you the favors which his valor had won for himself. Learn from this and forget not that "A friend in need is a friend indeed."

The lessons we would have you learn in your experience with us this evening have an important application to your personal relationship with the government that protects you, as well as your social relations with your fellow-men, and your duty to Order, home, and friends. As Maccabees, we strive to impress all members with a firm and determined resolution to always labor in the cause of justice, mercy, and charity; remember that justice begets justice, mercy begets mercy, and charity begets charity.

All these virtues were exemplified in the life and character of Judas Maccabeus, the liberator of his people; one of the first of a glorious army of martyrs who have since suffered in the cause of human freedom. His whole life was characterized by an undying devotion to country, home, and friends. He it was who demanded of his soldiers that, in dividing the fruits of their victories, they should reserve a part for the widows, orphans, and disabled; a practice observed (in effect) among all true Maccabees unto this day. May his name be honored as long as patriotism, love and friendship have a place in the hearts of men, and may you ever emulate his virtues, and prove yourself worthy of the new character you have assumed tonight.

You have given us your pledge of honor as a man, that you will always be true to country, order, home, and friends, and those of your own flesh and blood; and that you wilt comfort with your sympathy and assist with your substance the broken-hearted and the destitute. Should you ever knowingly or willing violate this solemn pledge, you need not longer expect our confidence and fellowship.

When you think of the solemnity and magnitude of your engagements here tonight, need I say that you cannot retire from this room exactly the same kind of man you were when you entered? No! After seeing and hearing what you have seen and heard, and making such promises as you have made, you will surely go hence a better man, filled with a higher ambition, and inspired with a nobler purpose in life.

Time will not permit me to indicate more of the valuable lessons contained in this degree, but, to the thoughtful mind, they are sufficiently obvious. If we have succeeded in awakening in your breast a manly determination to exercise these noble attributes in behalf of the widow, the fatherless, the unfortunate, and the stranger within thy gates, we have not labored in vain. In conclusion, let me remind you that in becoming a member of this great fraternal brotherhood, you have changed your relations with a vast number of persons.

While you remain true to your pledges, rest assured that in the Maccabees you will find friends who will comfort you in your sorrow, assist you in adversity and rejoice in your prosperity. When the battle of life is ended and you are about to commence your journey to that realm beyond the grave, you will have the consolation of knowing, that, among us, you have brothers who will give your remains a fraternal burial, keep green your memory, defend your character and provide for those who are nearest and dearest to you.