The Jericho Road
By W. Bion Adkins
Public Domain Books
The Secresy Objection.
More common, perhaps, than any other filed against it has been the objection that Odd-Fellowship does its work secretly, this objection being not unfrequently urged by persons of candor and honest impulses. “If,” it is demanded, “the aims and purposes of the order be legitimate and praiseworthy, why shroud them in mystery rather than give them the broad sunlight of publicity.”
The objection is not new, nor is it urged with any increase of its original force, whatever may be the fact in the matter of vehemence. Answer might be made: The order does not choose to ascend to the house tops for the purpose of heralding its affairs to the world. But that answer would not be satisfactory, nor is any likely to be that may be presented, now or hereafter. It is nevertheless true that there are certain matters pertaining to the order and its works with which the outside world has no sort of concern, even as with those very peculiar secret societies, the individual, the family, the church and the state. If other organizations prefer to resort to the newspapers, the pulpit, the rostrum and other information conduits for the purpose of advertising their wares, their greatness and their goodness, and the vast amount of humanitarian work they are doing and purposing, such is their unquestioned privilege.
But if the preference of Odd-Fellowship be for quieter and less obtrusive methods, pray who shall fairly contest its right of choice?
And then it should be remembered that there are matters in which the right hand is prohibited the privilege of interfering with the prerogatives of the left, and the left with those of the right. Nor should the fact be forgotten that there is Divine example, if not precept, for the established “modus operandi” of the order. Upon a certain occasion the Great Teacher had performed a very humble service for one of his disciples who was sadly at loss for the why and the wherefore, and the answer, received to his inquiry was: “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.”
And in the grand hereafter, when the films of ignorance and the warpings of prejudice and superstition shall have melted away under the bright sunlight of Eternal Day, it is not impossible that our vexed, inquisitive, worrying opponents may be permitted to look back over the pathway this order has traversed, glance at the work that has been wrought and peradventure discover how unreasonable, as well as fruitless, has been the warfare they have been pleased to wage with such persistent fury. A long time to wait, maybe, but then good things do not come rapidly nor all at once. Meanwhile, to encourage them in their waiting, their watching and their worrying, let them take this lesson from the same Great Teacher: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth.” Ah, no! it will not do, because you can not see and comprehend all of everything, inside as well as outside, to conclude that it must necessarily be bad. Adopt that theory, and you not only fly in the face of reason, but bump your head against almost everything in nature, in art and in science.
Secrets! yes; they are within us and without us, above us and beneath us and all about us, and “what are you going to do about it?” Well might Israel’s old and gifted poet king write: “We are fearfully and wonderfully made,” soul and body, the mortal and the immortal, the material and the immaterial, strangely and mysteriously conjoined! God’s secret, this! Will you denounce Him and withdraw allegiance from Him, for the reason that He fails to make clear to you a clear and satisfying revelation? The same old singer said thousands of years ago, “The Heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” And those heavens, with that firmament, are charged and surcharged with mightiest and profoundest secrets. We seize the telescope and “plunge into the vast profound overhead, intent upon mastering the secrets of the revolving spheres.”
We travel from star to star, from system to system, until we reach yon lonely star that appears to be performing the Guardian’s task, upon the verge of unmeasured and immeasurable space. We may descry and describe the form and outlines of those heavenly bodies, detect their movements and approximately determine their distances and dimensions. But what more? Little that is satisfying. When they had a beginning, what purposes they subserve in the sublime system of God’s stupendous universe, and when they shall have a consummation, we may not certainly know. Secrets, these, and such “Secret things belong unto God.” We would like to know these secrets, but must wait; for there, “roll those mighty worlds that gem the distant sky,” as distantly and dismally as when Chaldean and Egyptian astronomers and astrologers viewed their movements three thousand years ago, rifled meanwhile of but few of their well kept secrets. He that pencils the lily and paints the rose and gives to every blade of grass its own bright drop of dew, has been pleased to say: “Hitherto shalt thou come and no further.” And there is great unwisdom in setting up factious opposition to the fiat of Omnipotence. Possess your souls in patience, O friends! wait, as we must wait, before knowing all, or even knowing much. If you can not be Odd-Fellows, you can at least be men, with an effort.