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This book is a child of both my mind and my heart. In its creation, research, reading and study have conspired with a love of Masonry. Probably, however, if I had foreknown the time and toil involved, I would have been frightened from the task.
In preparing the Manual, I addressed every Grand Master and Grand Secretary in the United States and British America. Nearly all replied. Their letters show (1) that most grand jurisdictions have each an adopted Manual, and (2) that each should have standard so that the work and ceremonies may be uniform through the State.
Heretofore Georgia has had no Standard. The action of the last Grand Lodge, however, makes this work the Georgia Standard, and thus puts Georgia in line with most of her sisters.
Some manuals contain unwarranted inno. vations on the ancient exoteric work. A few encroach too far on the esoteric ritual. All accessible have been compared on every point, and no time or pains have been spared to determine, and to embrace in this book, what is ancient and orthodox.
The Burial Services, and the Lodge of Sorrow Ritual have been prepared with great care, and the latter is almost entirely new. In both, pains have been taken to eliminate every suggestion of the grave as the dwelling-place of the departed, and of the body as the man. Masonry glories in immortality, plants the acacia on every grave, transforms death into an angel of light, looks on the body as the old clothes the man wore, and points upward to his home.
No matter how poorly done, a Digest of Masonic law, so arranged that one can easily find the law on any given subject, is bound to be of great assistance. Heretofore no one could be sure of any Masonic law-point without examining volume by volume, page by page, all of the sixteen volumes of Grand Lodge proceedings since the adoption of the new Constitution and By-Laws in 1878. With this Digest the law can be found in the same way one finds a word in a dictionary. The Forms, especially those for use in Trials, will, it is believed, be helpful.
I gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness to the Grand Master and Grand Secretary of this State for valuable advice and loan of books; to Parsons & Co., publishers, St. Louis, for the loan of plates of the cuts in the Manual; to various Grand Masters and Grand Secretaries throughout the country for information and suggestions, and especially to Brothers S. F. Chadwick, G. S. of Oregon, Sereno D. Nickerson, Rec. G. S. of Massachusetts, Thomas J. Shryock, G. M. of Maryland, Thomas Walker, G. M. of New Brunswick, T. M. Reed, G. S. of Washington, J. H. Medairy, G. S. of Maryland, H. S. Orme, G. M. of California, Thomas Sargent, G. M. of Manitoba, for books voluntarily presented; to the able Committee of distinguished Masons, who, at the instance of the Grand Lodge, examined critically and recommended heartily both Manual and Digest; and to the members of the Georgia Grand Lodge who paid the work the unprecedented, though undeserved, compliment of unanimous endorsement and adoption.
The book is intended to appeal, not to the eye, but to the mind. The picture-hunter will be disappointed; but he who delights in the philosophy and law of Masonry may not be entirely uninterested by the notes and Digest, to which the attention of the thoughtful is respectfully directed.
The book has faults, and apologies will not mend them; yet in spite of faults, if the brethren, and particularly those who are or may hereafter be Lodge officers, will study · both Manual and Digest, they will not only become brighter Masons, but the work will be more thorough because of the uniformity produced by the use of a common standard. If one Lodge thereby raises its standard of excellence, my labor will not have been altogether in vain.