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swer to this people, which have spoken to me, saying, Ease somewhat the yoke that thy father did put upon us? And the young men that were brought up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou answer the people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it somewhat lighter for us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins. For, whereas my father put a heavy yoke upon you, I will put more to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day, as the king bade, saying, Come again to me on the third day. And the king answered them roughly; and king Rehoboam forsook the consel of the old men; and answered them after the advice of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add thereto; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. And when all Israel saw that the king would not hearken unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? and we have none inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to your tents, O! Israel: and now, David, see to thine own house. So all Israel went to their tents.”—See Chron, chap. x.
But as to the children of Israel that dwelt in the cities of Judah and Benjamin, Rehoboam reigned over them.
In this manner were the tribes of Israel divided, and under two distinct governments, for 254 years, when the ten revolted tribes, having become weak and degenerated, by following the wickedness and idolatry of the kings who governed them, fell a prey to Salmanezer, king of Assyria, who, in the reign of Hoshea, king of Israel, besieged the city of Samaria, laid their country waste, and utterly extir. pated their government. Such was the wretched fate of a people who disdained subjection to the laws of the house of David, and whose impiety and effeminacy ended in their destruction.
After a series of changes and events, of which an account may be found in the history of the Temple, Nebuhcadnezzar, king of Babylon, with his forces, took possession of Jerusalem, and having made captive Jehoiachim the king of Judah, elevated his uncle Zedekiah to the throne, after binding him by a solemu oath neither to make innovations in the government, nor to take part with the Egyptians in their wars against Babylon.
At the end of eight years Zedekiah violated his oath to Nebuchadnezzar, by forming a treaty offensive and defensive with the Egyptians; thinking that jointly they could subdue the king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar immediately marched and ravaged Zedekiah's country, seized his castle and fortress, and proceeded to the siege of Jerusalem. Pharaoh, learning how Zedekiah was pressed, advanced to his relief, with a view of raising the siege. Nebuchadnezzar, having intimation thereof, would not wait his approach, but proceeded to give him battle, and in one contest drove him out of Syria. This circumstance suspended the siege.
In the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign, the king of Babylon again besieged Jerusalem, with a large army, and for a year and a half exerted all his strength to conquer it; but the city did not yield, though enfeebled by famine and pestitilence.
In the eleventh year the siege went on vigorously; the Babylonians completed their works, having raised towers all round the city so as to drive the invaded party from its walls. The place, though a prey to plague and famine, was obstinately defended during the space of a year and a half. But at length, want of provisions and forces compelled its, surrender, and it was accordingly delivered, at midnight, to the officers of Nebuchadnezzar.
Zedekiah, seeing the troops enter the temple, absconded by a narrow pass to the desert, with his officers and friends: but advice of his escape being given to the Babylonians, they pursued them early in the morning, and surrounded them near Jerico, where they were bound and carried before the king, who ordered his wives and children to be put to death in his sight, and then ordered Zedekiah's eyes to be put out, and himself conducted in chains to Baby. lon.
After this victory, Nebuchadnezzar despatched his principal officer, Nebuzaradan, to Jerusalem, to ransack and burn both palace and temple, to raze the city to the ground, and conduct the captive inhabitants to Babylon; this order he accordingly executed. Among the captives were the following persons of eminence: Seraiah, the high priest; Zephaniah, next in rank; the secretary 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 capirity of the Jews, and the first of the reiger of Cyrus, king of Persia, he issued his fa
mous odict purporting that the God, adored by the Israelites, was the Eternal Being through whose bounty he enjoyed the regal dignity; and that he bad found himself honorably 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; be, 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 Je. rusalem 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 this chapter, you are now exalted to the gublime and honorable 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 uncontrolled 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 continnie steadfast and immoveable in the discharge of our respective duties; and here we are bound, by the most solemn ties, to promote cach 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 should be attended by the approbation of the most scrutinizing eye, we hope always to possess the satisfaction of finding none among 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 it.”
Response. So mote it be.-Amen.
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 proper distribution of what he has acquired, secure to himself the veneration of masons, and approbation of all good men.
The following beautiful Ode, not less admired for its poetic
excellence, than for its sublimity of description, may be very appropriately performed at the exaltation of a Brother, and more particularly at the consecration of a Chapter.
beam'd se - rene, And pil - lar'd strength a - rose, When