The Jericho Road
By W. Bion Adkins
Public Domain Books
Friendship, Love and Truth.
Friendship, love, truth–golden links these, that not only bind together their obligated votaries, but that recognize and embrace, because of worthiness and plighted faith, that behind the back as well as face to face, have a defensive, kindly word and a brother’s generous deed; that, amid the upheavals of communities and the crumbling of nations, systems and governments, swerve not from their course, and are corralled by no arbitrary bounds, and that, whatever the dialect, the nationality or the religion of men, read upon humanity’s brow the inscription written by the finger of infinite love–a man and a brother, a woman and a sister.
A faithful and true friend is a living treasure, estimable in possession and deeply to be lamented when gone. Nothing is more common than to talk of a friend; nothing more difficult than to find one; nothing more rare than to improve by one as we ought.
The only reward of virtue is virtue. The only way to have a friend is to be one. Such is friendship. Next in our golden chain is Love. Love is the stepping stone to heaven. This principle teaches man his capabilities for good, enlightens his mind, enlarges the sphere of his affections and leads him to that true fraternal relation which was designed by the Great Author of his existence. Love teaches us to be self-sacrificing. For a bright instance of this we point you to Moses, the great law-giver of the Jews. He turned his back on the splendors of Pharaoh’s court and chose rather to share the wretchedness of his lowly people than serve as a king for their oppressors, finally dying in sight of that inheritance, which, though denied to him, was given to his ungrateful countrymen. How very bright on the pages of history shine such acts of love and sacrifice. This principle belongs to no one organization, party or sect. It can be made to bud and bloom as well under the fierce rays of the torrid zone, midst the icebergs of Greenland, or the everlasting snows of Caucasus. It always carries the same smile, whether in the cabin or in the palace. Following in its footsteps there is such a halo of glory, such a gentle influence, that it gathers within its sacred realm antagonistic natures, controls the elements of discord, stills the storm, soothes the spirit of passion, and directs in harmony all of man’s efforts to fraternize the world. In this strangely selfish and uncertain world none are so affluent or favorably circumstanced as not at some time and in some way to become dependent. Oh! there are emphasized essentialities that are not embraced among the commodities of the market, and in order to the realization of which money possesses no purchasing power. To relieve the pungent pinchings of penury with raiment, food and shelter, and so send the sunshine of gladness to the poor and needy, is something–indeed is much. But, ah! the delicate and intricate mechanism of mind is out of gear, a secret sorrow swells and sways the heart, and unitedly they cry: “Who will show us any good? Who remove this rankling sorrow? What good Samaritan competent to the task of affording relief to this dazed brain?” Oh! it is here that the trained votaries of the triple brotherhood bring to bear their wondrous power. If it be true “that one touch of nature makes the whole world kin,” it is equally true that the ties of brotherhood here would wield their most potent influence, and of the true Odd-Fellow well may it be said, “He hath a tear for pity, and a hand open as day for melting charity.”
TRUTH! crown jewel of the radiant sisterhood of queenly graces! She can not be crushed to earth. The eternal years of God being hers, she, no more than her author, can go down. Error may fling widely open his arsenal gates of defilement and deceit, and seek so earnestly and tirelessly the usurpation of her throne; but there she sits, as firmly and gracefully as when the morning stars sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy. Such is truth, the rarest of all human virtues.
The man who is so conscious of the rectitude of his intentions, as to be willing to open his bosom to the inspection of the world, is in possession of the strongest pillars of a decided character. The course of such a man will be firm and steady, because he has nothing to fear from the world and is sure of the approbation of heaven. While he who is conscious of secret and dark designs, which, if known, would blast him, is perpetually shrinking and dodging from public observation, and is afraid of all around, and, much more, of all above him. Such a man may indeed pursue his iniquitous plans steadily; he may waste himself to a skeleton in the guilty pursuit, but it is impossible that he can pursue them with the same health-inspiring confidence and exulting alacrity with him who feels at every step that he is in pursuit of honest ends by honest means. The clear, unclouded brow, the open countenance, the brilliant eye, which can look an honest man steadfastly, yet courteously, in the face, the healthfully beating heart and the firm, elastic step, belong to him whose bosom is free from guile, and who knows that all his motives and purposes are pure and right. Why should such a man falter in his course? He may be slandered, he may be deserted by the world, but he has that within him which will keep him erect, and enable him to move onward in his course, with his eyes fixed on heaven, which he knows will not desert him.
Odd-Fellowship teaches its members to be men of honor. When I say honest, I use it in its larger sense of discharging all your duties, both public and private, both open and secret, with the most scrupulous, heaven-attesting integrity; in that sense, farther, which drives from the bosom all little, dark, crooked, sordid, debasing considerations of self, and substitutes in their place a bolder, loftier and nobler spirit, one that will dispose you to consider yourselves as born not so much for yourselves as for your country and your fellow-creatures, and which will lead you to act on every occasion sincerely, justly, generously and magnanimously. There is a morality on a larger scale, perfectly consistent with a just attention to your own affairs, which it would be folly to neglect; a generous expansion, a proud elevation and conscious greatness of character, which is the best preparation for a decided course in every situation into which you can be thrown; and it is to this high and noble tone of character that I would have you to aspire. I would not have you to resemble those weak and meagre streamlets, which lose their direction at every petty impediment that presents itself, and stop and turn back, and creep around, and search out every channel through which they may wind their feeble and sickly course. Nor yet would I have you resemble the headlong torrent that carries havoc in its mad career; but I would have you like the ocean, that noblest emblem of majestic decision, which in the calmest hour still heaves its resistless might of waters to the shore, filling the heavens day and night with the echoes of its sublime declaration of independence, and tossing and sporting on its bed with an imperial consciousness of strength that laughs at opposition. It is this depth and weight and power and purity of character that I would have you resemble; and I would have you, like the waters of the ocean, to become the purer by your own action. Men are sometimes ruined because they aim not at virtue, but only at the reputation which it brings. Odd-Fellowship teaches its members to be brave, honest and diligent. If we have these attributes, victory must surely crown our efforts. How often in the history of our country have men of humble birth come forth in time of danger, and, nobly risking all, even to death, or disgrace worse than death itself, stood between their country and defeat, and built for themselves a glorious name. Nor, alas! is the opposite case to this unknown. Some of America’s proudest sons have, by their own acts, sunk themselves into the inner-most depths of infamy and vice.
“Virtue alone is true nobility. Oh, give me inborn worth! dare to be just, Firm to your word and faithful to your trust.”
Knowledge is a mighty rock in a weary land, and to you, brothers, ’tis permitted to smite this rock, and from it gushes fountains of living waters, which form rivers of wisdom, flowing to the uttermost parts of the earth, carrying the proper idea of life to the souls of men. The river of science flows in a deep, straight course, searching out the hidden mysteries, and demonstrating facts, while Truth builds her defenses on its shores, and Love rears her fair palaces and calmly enjoys the result of labor and research. History, with its broad stream bringing knowledge down through the vanished centuries, revealing many a lost art, which avails us much in these later days. Mysteries which magicians have left behind them–secrets for ages undusted–that we may read the records of the past.
Experience builds citadels upon these heights. Flowing parallel to history is the great, turbid stream of politics. Its crimson billows cast wrecks upon the strand, and the moaning waves strangely blend the tones of grand martial music with the discords of despair and disappointment, for it is a treacherous tide. Along its winding shores war builds her forts, and there are fields of carnage and blood, and dark fortresses of envy, from which fly the poisoned shafts of malice, falsehood and revenge, and there are many graves in which lie ambition, glory and renown, with all their brilliant dreams. Opposite to this from the rock of knowledge gush the sweet fountains of poetry and music, singing on their way through fair, secluded dells, where there are moss-covered rocks, clinging vines, fragrant flowers and ferns and singing birds. In their shining waves of light are mirrored the azure sky, golden sunshine and fleecy clouds, while youth, beauty, laughter and joy stray along the verdant shores, keeping time to the music of the merry spray and weaving garlands to crown their radiant brows.
Not far from the rock of true knowledge flows a deep stream, calm, clear and beautiful. Majestically it sweeps through stately forests, extended plains and lofty mountains; and the fair cities of honesty, temperance and truth are built upon its shores. This wonderful stream is fed by the ever-living fountains of honor, morality, justice, mercy and divine love. The music of its waves sends forth hymns of true patriotism, love of country and of home; and the sweet songs of faith and immortality float upward like strong, white wings, bearing the soul away on pure melody above this world of longing and of hope, until it rises to meet the world of glory and fulfillment. Upon these shores faith, hope, charity and security have reared their white temples, which shall ever represent a living institution, bearing on its banner as a motto these beautiful words: