A BEAUTIFUL EXTRACT
From the message of the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, at its last annual communication.
"Brethren, a solemn duty has again devolved upon me. This mournful drapery suspended around this Hall tells the sad tale, that Death, that fell destroyer, during our vacation has not been idle; it tells us that the good, the wise, the Rulers in this our Israel are fast fleeting away. The insatiable Tomb has drawn within its ponderous vortex and silent resting place, alike the old, the young, the virtuous and the upright Mason from our very midst; those to whom all the Masonic virtues were objects of ambition, and those upon whose heads honors had been accumulated by the voice of their Brethren, and which had been so gracefully and beautifully worn.
If I should now direct that a Roll of the Craft be called, amidst many responses of those around me, would be felt that shuddering silence so deep, so ominous of departure. When amidst the lists of those whom you have delighted to honor, and who have presided over this Body with so much dignity and propriety, are called the names of our Past Grand Masters WILLIAM MITCHELL, Jr., and my immediate predecessor JAMES POINTS, Silence, Darkness, Death are the response:- they are gone, their cheering voices are no longer heard; their noble example, their precepts, their experience obtained in a long and consistent Masonic life, alone remain to us.
They have sped to the Spirit Land. They will mingle with us no more on Earth forever. The little mound of earth so oft bedewed by the tears of the widow and the orphan: The monumental marble, cold and silent as the head it covers, tells the sad tale of death. But we seek them not there. That little Sprig of Cassia which we find blooming at its head, teaches us to look with the eye of faith beyond the portals of the grave, that effulgent clime where light and joy radiate from the glorious throne of God, where the spirits of just men pale perfect, clothed with ineffable bliss, continually utter their anthems of love and praise.
Brethren, what lessons of wisdom do we derive from these frequent admonitions; what are our feelings when year after year, nay, day by day, are taken from our immediate circle those near and dear to us, those whom we love and cherish, and whose lightest sigh of pain causes us distress and anguish, when they are thus called upon to pay the last great debt of nature, leaving us to mourn, and feeling as though our very heart strings are giving way when they are taken from our eight. Do we remember that we too must die, that it will be left to others to pay those tokens of respect and love to our memories that a deserving life merits, and that perhaps when least expected or desired:- Standing now as monuments of the everlasting Father's love and mercy, are we profiting by his teachings, and so living that when death is called upon to strike with his uplifted dart we may have the happy consolation that we shall inherit those joys, and meet with those we cherished on earth, and with a world of beautified spins, worship around that throne prepared for all by a God of mercy. Let us put off at once our indifference of death and its consequences, and prepare to meet it as wise, reflecting and accountable beings."