The Jericho Road
By W. Bion Adkins
Public Domain Books
Odd-Fellowship and the Future
There is infinite and perennial fascination in the contemplation of the future. The past is a fixed province, the finished result of an ever-moving present. The future is the province of the poet, the prophet and the seer. The past is adamant, the future is plastic clay. The past is with God alone; the future is with God and man. We toil for it; dream of it; look to it; and all seek so to
* * * “Forecast the years, As find in loss a gain to match, Or reach a hand through time to catch The far-off interest of tears.”
Let us consider the future as a field and Odd-Fellowship as a force. The future is a field, billowing with the ripening harvest of golden possibilities. It is as wide as the world, for the world is the field. It comprises every zone and clime; every nation and tribe; every island of the seas. Wherever we find one of our fellow-men in darkness and in chains, there is our field. It is as long as from now to the coming of Christ. A moment’s survey of the field will convince us that the greatest conquests are yet to be made. There is battle ahead, great interests to be gained, great incentives to heroic effort. The times call for men–broad-browed, clear-eyed, strong-hearted, swift-footed men. Odd-Fellows, not behind you but before you, not in the past but in the future, lies the widest and richest field of Odd-Fellowship’s possibility. Turn your faces, not toward the waning light of yesterday, but toward the growing radiance of a better morning. The force is commensurate with the field. The cry of every true Odd-Fellow ought to be the cry that leaped from the heart of Isaiah when his lips were touched with the coal from off the altar: “Here am I, Lord, send me.” Our order is no longer a puny and helpless infant, but a lusty giant, panoplied in the armor of truth and clad in the strength of perpetual youth. We have riches untold. We have institutions for the care of the old, and the orphan, the equal of any of which the world can boast. We have a grasp on the sympathy and confidence of the masses which is immeasurable. We stand for principles that are the incarnation of God’s infinite thought and throbbing love. We are equipped for conquest. What answer shall the force make to the cry from the field? As loyal Odd-Fellows, let us take our answer from the Great Commander. What answer did He make to a dying world? What did he come to do? He came to lift fallen humanity. He came to bind up the wounds of those who were bruised and bleeding. He came to speak words of cheer and sympathy to hearts bowed in sorrow. He came to break the chains of bondage and restore mankind to its former beauty and greatness. Our mission is identical with His. Our work is identical with His work. We are His representatives. Our highest destiny is the working out of His purposes. The world with all its boasted progress has not advanced beyond the need of a Savior. It is the same at heart now as it was when the blessed feet of Christ trod its hills and valleys. Men change, but man changes not. The same problems are confronting us as confronted them. It may be trite, but it is tremendously true, that our primary and ever-present duty is to seek and save the lost. We are to win them to faith in high and noble ends, and having won them to faith in our mission is not enough. They are to be instructed, cultured, enlarged, inspired, ennobled, until man looking in the face of man shall see the face of Christ shining through. He is to be the accepted Lord and law-giver in every realm of human thought and activity. He is to rule in the family. He is to rule in business. He is to rule until the demon of hate, malice and injustice has been throttled. He must rule in the affairs of state. He must rule in society, until the watchers at the gate shall announce to Him who sitteth upon the throne: “Thy kingdom has come and thy will is done in earth as it is in heaven.” Christ is the solution of man’s most difficult problems. He came to save men. How did He go about the task? He gave himself. We can accomplish our task only as in burning earnestness we give ourselves. What depth of humiliation, what self-devotion, what unmeasured sacrifices, what unspeakable suffering, what unfathomable anguish, what toil and anxiety, what love and pity, what loneliness and sorrow, are crowded into those three words, “He gave himself.”
If we as an order would give ourselves to the principles taught by our institution, we could win the world in the next half century. If we are to be truest to the future, we must stand by the side of the Great Teacher and proclaim a complete and perfect truth. Our platform should be neither broader nor narrower than His. If there is one truth in revelation that we can not give its proper setting and due emphasis, then we are not the keepers of God’s truth. To my thinking, there are no organizations formed by man that can appeal more confidently to the Word of God for confirmation than the Odd-Fellows. We appeal to sane reason and common sense. No organization can hold up a higher ideal of individual freedom and worth. But there is a danger that we become narrow, that we violate the maxims of sane reason and common sense, that we lose the balance between individual prerogative and the claims of a united brotherhood. We can not accomplish the aims of our order by onesidedness. We are to become “all things to all men.” We are not to be prisms breaking up the rays of light and declaring that this or that color is the most important. We as Odd-Fellows are to be lenses, converging the rays and bringing them to a focus upon the hearts of men as the white light of God’s eternal truth.
This is a practical age, and if we are to win we must demonstrate the superiority of our faith and practice over that of other claimants, not only in terms of the Written Word, but also in terms of manhood. Odd-Fellowship is standing upon the golden dawn of a new morning. It is to be a day of battle and conquest. It is truth blazoned upon the page of history, that if we as Odd-Fellows are true to our standard, to our possibilities and to our Maker, he will lay the suffering of a throbbing world in our arms that we may lay it at the feet of Him who died to redeem it. Let us cherish high hopes, noble aims, and lofty ideals. Never since the world was peopled has mankind stood in such anxious expectancy, awaiting the outcome of the immediate future, as in these closing years of the nineteenth century. Men are wistfully trying to peer through the portals of the year nineteen hundred–marveling, as the effects and forces of applied science is unfolded to our comprehension, and discovery moves on, each invention leading in another, in stately procession; we, all the while rapt in wonder, are straining in hope and fear to catch the coming word, and to comprehend its import. Never was speculation so rife, never was the field of human observation so unobstructed and expanded, nor the ascertainment and sifting of facts so facile. Never were opinions more diverse, nor was it ever so obviously important to detect and assert the philosophical principle, in recognition and obedience to which the laws of human government may be preserved and kept in view, and the retrocession of mankind prevented. At no stage of history was it more important to call to mind the great principle that government is a means, and not an end, and is instituted to maintain those general liberties which are essential for human happiness and progress. At this time, Odd-Fellowship looks toward the future with longing eyes, and its followers lift high their banner, on which is inscribed that beautiful motto, “Friendship, Love and Truth.”
After all, what lives in this world? Is it thought pulsations alone or deeds done? If thought alone, then the lowest thought coordinated in the brain of man would live. Something must be combined with thought in order to have a lasting effect. There must be thought and deeds and sentiment. Sentiment must go to the very existence of the race. On these forces may be built up structures that live and breathe a benediction on all mankind. I ask you to cast your eye over the world and note the permanency of such institutions as have come down to us, and are alive, and such as we say will live. I venture your first question will be: “What is the foundation on which they rest? Why, through the slow, revolving years have these institutions lived and thrived and grown? Have they lived on greed, or a desire for pelf or power, or out of human desire for adulation and praise? Or have they lived because of man’s needs, and out of human wants?” If we probe to the bottom we will find this the corner-stone of all laudable ambitions, because man needs man, and needs help into a higher plane of usefulness and activities.
We find institutions coming down to us from a date which the memory of man runs not to the contrary; indeed, some so old that the musty volumes of the long ago reveal not their origin. But simply the need of man for man would not entirely account for the duration of society in its ancient form. There must be still other underlying principles. There must be love and the acknowledgment of the brotherhood of man all along the way of life, or the family would go to ruin, society would dissolve, citizenship would not exist, states and principalities, kingdoms and powers would exist only as an idea in the brain. There would be no command to be our brother’s keeper, no plighted vow that “The Lord be between thee and me, and between my seed and thy seed forever.” Man would, as an individual, stand absolutely alone, like an atom dropped from the abyssmal depths onto this earth of ours. The little wild flower struggles through leafy mold, endures the tempestuous blast of winter, that when spring comes it may bloom to gladden the earth and scatter sweet incense all around. But without the cementing influence that runs like a thread all through society, man would not, could not, cast a sweet odor even on his own life, and dying would leave no benediction on the lives of others. And here the command comes, “Gather into thy quiver the lives and aspirations of others, that fitted to thy bow they may go forth scattering blessings by your help and by your kindly influence.” So all great achievements have been based on great fundamental principles, and each principle has for its object the betterment of the conditions of mankind.
Truth is said to be eternal. It was just as true at the dawn of creation that the square described on the hypotenuse of a right-angle triangle is equal to the square described on the other two sides, as it was when Pythagoras enunciated the theorem. “Thou shall not kill,” is a law written by the Divine hand amid tempest and fire, but it stands. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” rings from the portals of heaven through the gates of humanity and its command will not go unheeded. They are all great fundamental truths. Do you observe that they live? Give heed also to the fact that they stand for a better condition among men, for more helpfulness and higher elevations. Truths enunciated, whether old or new, that live, only have one tendency, viz., to raise man to better conditions. Since the dawn of creation there has been a constant tendency to arise from a lower to a higher estate. Self-preservation, self-helps, self-culture have been the trend of thought and action. And this has not been altogether an effort in the individual for his own personal advancement, but for the advancement of the race. Men have undergone sacrifices, humbled and almost debased themselves, that the succeeding generation might live on a higher plane, physically, morally and spiritually, than they themselves enjoyed. I do not know of any act of humanity that calls forth louder praise than to so act and speak and do as that humanity shall not only catch the inspiration, but shall make material progress on a better understanding of surrounding conditions. Odd-Fellowship, in its essence, is no new institution. Its principles, practices and precepts have existed from the beginning of the race.
When Abraham stood with the churlish Lot on the line dividing the plains and highlands and said, “I pray thee let there be no contention between thee and me, if thou goest to the right hand I will go to the left, or, if thou goest to the left hand I will go to the right,” he breathed the pure essence of unselfish devotion to the founder of a race. The acts of kindness shown by the traveler as the caravan plods its tortuous way across the sands of the desert; the mission of the wise men from the east in search of a Redeemer, all show forth that trait that you and I, my brother, try to emphasize while vowing devotion to the triple links. I said a moment ago that Odd-Fellowship, in its essence, was no new institution, and so it is not. As we know it in reality we have simply crystalized its workings. Instead of humanity, by its individual exertion, seeking to perform the task, we, as an organized band, have taken up the subject. What was paramount with individuals has become a living force with the multitude. What was before an invitation to duty has now become a command.
In seeking after friendship we do not court the beasts of the fields and the fowls of the air as the hermit does, but we seek man; not man, but men; not this little society or faction, but embrace all mankind in the issue. If we seek for love it is not love for pelf or power, but love for man and God. In truth we do not depend on the right conduct of individuals, but accept truth as it is written in nature’s open book, emblazoned on the sky of hope that bends over us, and speaks in all the higher attributes of life. Time was when the inclination of men was to withdraw into clans. Ishmael stood in the desert by himself with his hand against every man. His true descendant, the Arabian sheik, draws his mantle about him, and surrounded by his little band withdraws within his own circle, and woe betide him who attempts to break through. But in this came no advancement, no progress. The Ishmaelite of old is the same today. Wherever progress and advancement has shown itself it is found that true regard for all mankind has been the cardinal doctrine. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Soon a broad catholicity of ideas seizes the multitude and man no more lives for himself than he lives for others. He who lives closest to the true heart of humanity lives nearest to God. Show me a man who lives for himself alone, and you will present almost a social outcast. Society tolerates him no more. In all the plans and calculations of life he is not numbered.
For two thousand years the command has come stronger and stronger for a closer unity on social lines and fraternal regard. Not to segregate but to crystalize and raise the status. The conditions of our social life are such that we can not live entirely to ourselves. The monk may withdraw himself from the gaze of the world, the anchorite may seek a hiding place in caves and dens, but they ignore entirely the demands of society upon them. If I were the only person in the world there would be no social problem. I would commune with myself and God and nature about me, without reference to my surroundings. There would be no social environment; no one to please, no one to whom I am indebted by nature or acquired obligation, and so I would remain. But we do not find the conditions to so exist. We must look squarely in the face the facts as they are. On all sides we are surrounded by a multitude who rightly make demands of us and which we can not ignore. If I were alone, I would do as the patriarchs of old did, erect a little altar of stone, rude and unsightly, and bow myself down before it and commune with Deity. But here we find that different types of men have different religious views, and different spiritual aspirations, and so churches must be erected; and while all tend to the same end, each hopes to reach it by a different route. I must respect all these views. Only one can be my view, but my social surroundings are such that all have rights which I am bound to yield some obedience to.
Again, if I were alone there would be no need of law, because both good and bad would be represented in my personality. There could be no murder, no crime, no punishment; but with all the manifold people with different tendencies, there must be law, or the social fabric would go to pieces by the strong trampling on the weak. Hence I must stand with reference to the law on the right side or the wrong side, and all humanity regardful of each other’s rights must line up on one side or the other. In addition to our churchly ties and duties, we have family duties, and there begins the first of duty, first of government, first of obligations as citizens. And so I say we live in relation to those who surround us, and we can not live unmindful of them. We are touched by humanity everywhere, and walk elbow to elbow down the vale of life, supporting or destroying, and whether our pilgrimage be long or short we can not destroy the facts as they exist.
It must be seen with only a hasty glance that with the varying conditions of men, with their different mental dispositions, moral ideas and social status, that a crying demand comes all the time for some organization where men can unite on a common level–some place where a divergence of political or moral views do not bar an entrance, where the family ties remain sacred, and more sacred because of the organization. It seems that men groped about for just such an organization, and men’s wants are necessities, and social and civil status might be brought to a common level with all who might be brought into the assembly. It is believed by Odd-Fellows that our organization furnishes just this want. All the life that a man wants outside of his spiritual life has its food here, and society and family and man’s relations to man have been helped by it. I state it without fear of contradiction, that no order has been more potent for good than ours. It has been the hand-maiden of civilization wherever it has established itself; it has smoothed out the asperities of life for many, many individuals; it has defended character, protected life and limb, and stood as champion of all good between man and man and between God and man.
Every agency by which men are advanced, socially and morally, is an agency that guides government and state and individual up to a higher plane of development. Odd-Fellowship and Christianity go hand in hand. There is not a tenet of the order in any department that is repugnant to the highest development of Christianity. Indeed, it could not be so, for any lesson that is drawn from the three pillars of our order, Faith Hope and Charity, is a lesson pointing to the better life here and hereafter.
In the eighty years, last past, who can estimate the benign influence of the lives and actions of men, yea, on their eternal destinies, of the oft-repeated utterances pointing to the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man–a sermon that has been painted on the bow of God’s eternal promise since Paul stood on the Mars Hill and preached this everlasting, unchangeable doctrine to the heathen world. When I think that since 1830 there has been expended for the relief of the members of this order and their families millions of dollars, in all right undertakings, and know that many hearts have ceased to ache, many cold feet covered, many a tear dried up, many a naked person clothed and many a hungry mouth fed, it rejoices my heart. I know also that such love could not spring from the hearts that were kindled by no spark of the Divine, but the lesson comes to you and to me, my brother and my sister, that he who opens not only the granary of earthly substance, but opens also the portals of the heart, and lets the Divine spark kindle into a blaze, will be thrice blessed in that day when the jewels of the eternity are made up. I do not desire to convey the impression that all our civilization is the outgrowth of Odd-Fellowship. We are too much inclined on such occasions as these to become mutual admiration societies and think that all the good things that we enjoy could not have been possible if our particular order had not existed. I do not wish to convey that impression. I only desire it to be understood that this order has been helpful in all right undertakings, and constantly endeavors to espouse the right and discard the wrong. It does not take the place of the church or the Sunday school or the prayer-meeting. It does not invade the pulpit, but only stands as an auxiliary to all these institutions that touch the better side of our natures. It inveighs against no religion or creed, and has no religious belief other than that we are brothers; nor does it encroach upon the domain of the politician. If Odd-Fellowship had more in it than the social and restraining influence one meets and is subjected to in the lodge-room, it would be sufficient inducement to organize and perpetuate lodges. No true Odd-Fellow crosses the threshold of his lodge-room but he feels he is treading on more sacred ground than the busy marts of trade, or in the office or counting house; he feels that he is coming home where dwells the purest principles of humanity–friendship, love and truth.
But there is more in the workings of this order than the social. Its object is to touch humanity in all its phases. To rejoice with those that rejoice, and weep with those that weep. It sustains the living with friendship; causes man to stand firm in his integrity by the truth it teaches, and embrace the whole world with charity. The three links of friendship, love and truth mark the fuller and better development of this life, reaches beyond the grave, reaches beyond the vision, extends into the portals of the other and the better life. We may profess friendship, but that is an empty profession; our membership in a lodge is fruitless and our meetings produce no good results unless we have charity. It is but a small part that we should perform our mystic rights, typifying friendship, love and truth, but that we should so live them and act them that the touch of a member is the touch of a brother whose words sweeten the asperities of life and whose last offering is a tribute at the grave. We may be rudely brought back to the world with its pomp and show, its pageantry and vanity, by an emblem of mortality presented to us, but should we not ever have the spectre of mortality before our eyes? In the mad rush through life we forget the kinship of man to man. We are too often forgetful that the hand of a brother is reaching upward for succor. We forget that we are mortal, and the heart grows cold; our sympathies extend only to those around and nearest to us, forgetful that all mankind is our brother, and that he is especially our brother and friend who has mercy. But in this mad rush in life we are suddenly and almost rudely brought back to a full realization of our mortality, our helplessness, our emptiness, our nothingness, when we stand at the grave of our departed brother and reflect that here lies one who was born and had ambitions and died as we must die. His ambitions and hopes all went in the grave with him. The little grassy mound and the little marble slab is all that remains visible to tell us that he was our brother. Life would hardly be worth living; its struggles would be disastrous, its triumphs vain, empty bubbles, if the clods that fall upon the coffin and the sprig of evergreen tell the whole story of an Odd-Fellow. No, the very fact that we bury our departed brother teaches us that the grave is not the end of all. Though our brother dies he shall live in our hearts, in the flowers that we cast, in the precious memories that forever cluster around the links, the heart and the hand, the altar and the hour glass. When the supreme moment comes and the brother gathers his arrows into his quiver and fades from sight into the grave, we know that he has passed the portal into the land of the eternal, but the quiver and the arrows will ever stand as the badge of friendship. The heart may cease to beat, and the hand fall listless in death, yet the heart and hand will ever be emblems of love, and denote that when the hand of an Odd-Fellow is extended his heart goes with it.
The good Odd-Fellow has constantly before his mind the book of books. His first sight into a lodge-room catches sight of that divine missive to man. It is his solace in life, and its precepts his consolation in death. It ever stands to him as an exhaustless fountain of truth. On these three cardinal principles he lives and dies, and in the constancy of that life we venerate his memory and do him kindly offices. It is the nature of a man to be communistic. It is only the anchorite that withdraws himself from the societies of man and communes with himself and his God. All right-thinking men desire and enjoy the society of their kind and kindred spirits. You had as well lock the sane man in the felon’s cell as to doom him to live without the society of his fellows. The family is the first and best society. Perhaps the church is next, which is only the human family on a larger scale, fitting and preparing the members for a community in that house not made by hands. Next to my church I prize the secret organization to which I belong, where the cardinal principles of our holy Christianity are taught. The deathless friendship of David and Jonathan teaches me that though I may live in the king’s palace, be clothed in purple and fine linen every day, be in the line of regal succession, yet I do not live to myself.
I would herald broadcast that tenet of our order, “that we do for others as we would have others do for us, and that if I find my brother in distress, I must bind up his wounds, lift him from the quagmire of despond and set him on his feet.” If any lesson stands out boldly before the mind of the Odd-Fellow it is truth. He finds it on his banner wherever he goes. Friendship is ephemeral. It lasts only through life. It may die, it will die. The grave ends it all. The silent messenger that comes to king and peasant alike, and causes the scepter of the monarch to be laid by the crook of the shepherd, ends our friendship. Love comes from God. God is love. It touches us at every point of our lives. From the cradle to the grave, every moment of our lives we are the objects of love to some one, and we love in turn. But human love must end. After life’s fitful dream, the cares and vanities, the vexations and pleasures of life have no terror or concern for us, the love that thrilled our whole being will return to the source from whence it came. But truth will never die. It is the “imperial virtue.” The heart may fail; it will fail, and the hand fall listless by the side. The arrow will fall after being shot into the air and never return, and the bow will be broken; the altar will be thrown down; the sand, grain by grain, run through the hour-glass, and the glass be shattered; the eye grow dim; the world roll up as a scroll and pass away; the hills may crumble and the pyramids melt with fervent heat; all the friendships will die and the love return to the Father that begat it, but truth will stand. It is indeed the imperial and the imperishable virtue. There, above the chaos and the confusion of time, it will stand to warn men from the wrong, and beckon them to do right.
Despite the glamor of the world that secret societies propagate a secresy of men’s actions at the expense of truth and justice, it can not obtain in a lodge of this order. No man ever took upon himself the vows and studied the underlying motives, and practiced the lessons of the order, but he becomes a better citizen. If he has become a good husband and father, he becomes better in his domestic relations. If he has been charitable before, he becomes more so now. Men’s weaknesses he looks upon as human frailties, until time and sense teach him that frailties have degenerated into positive perversity of character and baseness of heart. He will condemn falsehood and hypocrisy wherever found.
The object of religious organizations is to make men better and fit them for the life immortal. The object of government and its laws is to make and protect good citizens and repress vice. The object of this secret organization is to bind men more firmly together for mutual protection, for help and sustenance, to look after their families, and to be in a broad sense our brother’s keeper. I would not be understood as placing a secret organization in place of the church, or in the place of a political government. By no means. Each has its own proper and particular sphere of action. No one in its actions and endeavors is inimical to the actions of the others. Each rests on its own peculiar foundation, but all dovetail together, and all make a harmonious whole. The man who is a good Christian is better by being a good Odd-Fellow. If both a good Christian and a good Odd-Fellow, he comes nearer being the typical citizen. If man reveres the law of this order, he will have more devotion to his church, his home, his flag and his country. I have no fault to find with those who do not believe in uniting with a secret organization, but I do object to any man inveighing against the objects and purposes, the ends and aims, of our order when he knows nothing about it. I do not expect every man to belong to my church, for men in their constitution and mental make-up can not see alike theologically. But I do accord to every member of every church the hope of getting to heaven if he lives up to the teachings of this particular sect. I believe in justification by faith and good works, but I have no use for a man who decries this doctrine when he never exercised a particle of faith nor did a good deed in his life. And so I would say to any one who thinks he stands on some lofty pinnacle and scents danger to the family tie, or church, or state, or society, because of the existence of secret orders, that he thinks and talks of something he knows nothing about. If I should desire to draw comparisons, I could say truthfully that during the last year this order gave more in charity and benefits to its members in Illinois than any religious denomination in the state. Look around your own community and see if it be not so. Think of the widow with tear-stained cheek, from whose door the wolf has been kept, because the charitable hand of our order was upon her. Count the orphan children of members of our order who have had shoes put on their feet, clothes put on their backs and food in their mouths. Enumerate the sufferers on beds of anguish, racked with pain and scorched with fever, who have had the nightly vigil of Odd-Fellows to smooth their pillows, dampen their parched lips and moisten their feverish brows. Watch the funeral pageant with its long train of mourners, brothers, dropping the evergreen in the grave, and doing the last sad offices, and then croak no more that secret societies are baneful to our civilization. He who thus sustains and soothes and encourages will be reckoned as twice blessed in that day when the secrets of all hearts are disclosed, and men are rewarded according to the deeds done in the body.
“[*]Some years ago I stood out on the great plains this side of Denver. To the north, the south and the east was one vast stretch of plains, the eye interrupted only by the horizon. I turned and looked to the west, and clearly outlined in the distance was the chain of the Rocky Mountains–the backbone of the continent. There I saw Long’s Peak, Pike’s Peak, and the Spanish Peaks, as mighty sentinels–watch towers–that had served as landmarks to many a weary traveler on the Santa Fe trail. They stood as the manifestation of the might of an Omnipotent Power. So I turn to the record made by this order in the last eighty years, and find colossal sums of money–not hoarded, but collected to relieve humanity, to educate the orphan, to bury the dead and to befriend the widow. I see arising, as if by magic, asylums for our needy. I see a great host, one million strong, advancing, shoulder to shoulder, elbow touching elbow, all bent on deeds of mercy and acts of love. Are not these also mighty sentinels erected amid this surging, striving throng of humanity to serve to guide man in the road to a higher and better life? These peaks of the Rockies may crumble and pass away, but a force for good once set in motion never loses its force. It is eternal. To beautify, to strengthen, to adorn and to expand our order and more fully present its magnificence to the world, we have the department of Patriarchs Militant. It depicts as gallant a band as ever marched to the sound of martial music or deployed for battle. As the knights under Richard Couer de Leon or Peter the Hermit marched forth to rescue the Holy Sepulcher from the hand of the infidel and guard its sacred entablatures, so will our chevaliers as bravely guard our ritual, our mystic rights, our honor, the honor of our mothers wives and sisters, as a sacred trust.
“And so our order moves forward to greater conquests. In the past it has worked marvels for humanity. May we not, for the future, predict better and more highly wrought out achievements? Humanity has been taken as it is and in the progress of refinement has been raised to a higher standard. It is the hand-maiden of civilization that works under even yoke for the best sides of humanity. While it does not displace or attempt to displace the church, it aids. It has friendship, love and truth as the three human graces, and clings to faith, hope and charity as the Christian virtues. It is now like the city that is set upon the hill. It can not be hid. Out upon a rocky point of the ocean’s shore at Minot’s ledge is a great light-house, erected by the fostering care of the government to protect the mariners on the high seas. Its great light swings around, now flashing on the land and now sending its rays far out across the billowy ocean. It is a grateful act of a great government. Many a bewildered seaman has caught its rays and sheared the prow of his ship further out to sea to avoid the dangerous shoals.
“So we, imitating the kind of example of the generous government, and measuring our acts by the example of the blessed Master, have erected a light-house here for the protection of humanity from its ills. Now it shines on us as mortals hastening to a final consummation of things; again it throws its beams out across the illimitable sea of hope, where sooner or later we all may ride, and by the light here given we may steer our bark into a haven of final rest. Today we are on the tempestuous ocean of life. We who feel that we are on the deck, let us throw the life-line and the life-preservers to him who is about to sink. Let us make this order even a greater light-house than our fathers ever dreamed of. It can be done, because it is so ordained. What God in his good providence orders can be, will be accomplished. With thankful hearts we have passed over more than three quarters of a century of existence as an organization. We are speeding onward to the century mark, and whether we remain to see its wonderful processes or not, humanity will be here demanding just what we have done in the past. Let us lay the work strong today and transmit it in higher forms, so that the end of the century of our existence as an order shall see better life, better hope and higher aspirations. Let the Subordinates, Patriarchs, Rebekahs and Chevaliers all form a cordon around the altar of our beloved order, where the fires shall never be extinguished while friendship, love and truth endures, and faith, hope and charity are necessities.
“Grand as has been the record of Odd-Fellowship from 1819 to the present, it is but the sunbeams from the birth of the day that will develop grandly into a magnificence that shall combine all the charms of the morning, the glare of the noontide, and the blaze of a sunset splendor in an endless panorama of glory and grandeur. And if, with such a picture before our eyes, painted by a faith founded upon the achievements of eighty years, and our intimate knowledge of the vast practical benevolence that begins at the cradle and ends only at the gate of heaven, the Odd-Fellow is not dazzled by the sublimity of Odd-Fellowship and awed into a reverence for its work and character, there is a lamentable defect in his appreciation of the beautiful, and an utter failure to read the joys and dignity and influence of a properly developed and appreciative Odd-Fellow. Let it never be forgotten that there is nothing groveling in Odd-Fellowship. Mutual relief, it is true, is a leading office in our affiliation, but Odd-Fellowship seeks to elevate the character of man, make him what God intended him to be; and while such a helpful influence is extended to each one of us who have chosen to come within its holy power, may we endeavor to lift ourselves up to the high standard of the order of which we are a part, faithfully discharging our duties to ourselves and to the world; shedding its benign influence and hallowed inspiration alike in the palace with its draped windows and velvet laden floors and in the cottage nestling among the flowers of the humble dooryard; glowing with the same peerless luster in halls of learning and in workshop and factory; kissing with the same tender, holy touch the rough hand that guides the implement of industry, and the soft hand that guides the pen; making character the test of merit and the heart the bond of friendship, and recognizing the equality and holy influence of noble womanhood. Odd-Fellowship is the unerring, resplendent guiding star to that grand development of human nature to which hope looks forward with such ardent joy, when one law shall bind all nations, tongues and kindred, and that law will be the law of universal brotherhood.”
[*]Extract from address delivered by Hon. E. G. Hogate.