The Gospel of Freemasonry


The Gospel of Freemasonry

by Uncle Silas

SERMONS don't generally need sign-boards nor excuses to designate
the wherefores for being preached. Paper-wads don't go very far nor
penetrate very deep into the target, but they sometimes got us into
trouble in our boyhood days.

After almost half a century of Masonic life, extending from one
extreme point of the compass to the other, from the time I was
initiated on a bare floor and realized the good of Masonry in
sunshine and storm, including the test of my obligation to a
brother in dire distress, and helping to feed the hungry, clothe
the naked and bind up the wounds of the afflicted. I felt that my
experiences might be an incentive to my brethren.

This is my reason for publishing these sermons in booklet form from
time to time as the "spirit moves me," and inflicting them upon the
craft. If any thoughts herein meet with your approval, tell me so.
If not, you haven't been "touched" very hard, so "play and look
pleasant."

BASCOM B. CLARKE, 33d

Sermon Number One

FREEMASONRY, Ezra, consists of more than signs and passwords and
mystery. The man who is no better off after he has seen the hidden
mysteries of this grand old order that has lived through centuries,
way back before the days of Saint John the Evangelist and Saint
John the Divine, ain't got much material in him for constructing a
mansion in "the house not made with hands."

Freemasonry doesn't advertise its business on bulletin boards along
the railway tracks and in elevated stations excepting as the acts
of its votaries tell of its helpfulness to man. Freemasonry doesn't
maintain any lobbies in Congress, looking towards its own
aggrandizement and how it may fasten its hold upon legislation, but
by its good deeds, its upright acts toward all, Masonry grows in
the hearts of mankind as it has ever grown since Solomon first
wielded the gavel on Mount Moriah in the long ago.

Taking the obligations of Freemasonry, which teaches us to be good
men and true, does not make us perfect Masons. You can't go through
the forest without noticing many crooked trees, No matter how fine
the meshes, you can't keep a "bull-head" from getting in your seine
once in a while. It's not taking the obligations so much as it's
living up to them that counts.

When I was a little boy I paid three dollars and a half, that I
earned chopping cord-wood at six bits a cord, for book which the
agent claimed would tell all about the "dark and shady deeds of
Freemasonry." The man who sold me the book owned the wood-pile,
Ezra, and not until I grew up did I fully understand his great
interest in my welfare, but when I figured out that book-agents got
forty per cent of the gross receipts, I could see how cheap I had
chopped cord-wood.

Somewhere around the honey-bag in the bee's belly you'll find the
sting. Whenever anyone tries to make you believe he's just honing
to do you a good favor, you include hem and selvage in the
shrinkage.

I didn't know a thing about Freemasonry back there, most fifty
years ago, Ezra, and I wasn't in such great danger of becoming
inoculated with it that I should pay three dollars and a half for
being vaccinated against it. Well, I didn't read all the book, for
it was tedious and sounded fishy in some ways but I got just
interested enough to want to find out who lied about it, when I
reached my majority. Here was this fellow going up and down the
land peddling anti-Masonic tracts, and carrying a prospectus for
getting subscriptions at three and a half bucks each for this
"Exposition of Freemasonry." Here was his brother-in-law, with whom
I had also lived, a superintendent of a shouting Methodist Sunday
School. Well, the Sunday School didn't shout so much excepting in
singing praise to God, but the congregation whooped her up, Lizer
Jane, when the fires of religion got fanned a little. This brother
in-law of the book peddler was a Mason. I showed him my purchase.
After looking it over he looked at me and said,  "She may be good
readin', son, but that little Bible you won in Sunday School that
I presented to you last summer contains lots more truth." Then he
looked at me, sorter pitying like and says, "You look over this
list of our lodge members and tell me if you think they'd belong to
an order that would do all the things that this book has laid up
against us." That set me thinking, Ezra, and I said to myself that
when I was twenty-one I'd try it and if I got by I'd know who lied.
That's nearly fifty years ago this month since I walked over a
little bare floor in a scantily furnished lodge room and learned my
first lesson. Somehow, when they asked me the first question, "In
whom do you put your trust," it was natural for me to tell them "In
grandmother's God," and grandmother was a Methodist, not a shouting
Methodist, but one of them still alarms that Masonry teaches about
in every lesson. And instead of being invited to join a "gang of
horse thieves," as they had been called to me, I found good old
gray haired Christian men reaching out their hands in welcome and
calling me "brother." I was a little rat them days, Ezra, and two
of the best old Methodist members black-balled me on my looks, not
on my acts. One of them told this good friend who had taken my
petition, "That boy ain't sixteen years old." I had to send way
down home in Arkansas for the proofs and when they reached the
lodge those two dear old friends, who had guarded the outer door,
came and congratulated me and helped show me "the light."

Years afterwards when one of those old soldiers of the cross was on
his death-bed I sat beside him many nights and helped care for him
and received his blessing for it. He's in Heaven now, and when I
cross the "Great Divide" I'm going to ask him to introduce me to
both the Saints John and other members of the craft.

I had to laugh a while ago, Ezra, when I was doing, a morsel of
missionary work in getting some of the brethren's autographs on the
dotted lines for the Consistory. It was for the Big Jubilee class,
and I was making trips in the country in an auto, for some of the
brethren lived far out from the city. One of these asked me how
much I got of the initiation fee for my trouble. I told him "all of
it and more too," for I was paying the interest on a debt that I
had owed the order for many years. I was making up for what I'd
lost on that three dollar and a half book that had caused me to
seek the hidden mysteries I was seventeen years old when I bought
that book. I've passed the three score mark now and I'm proud of
the fact that I'm a member of an order that helps good men become
better men.

Just because the ignorant and intolerant say nasty things about
Freemasonry, Ezra, doesn't make it true. There is no order nor
church nor creed in all the world that is bigger or broader minded
or more liberal. It needs no defense of mine.

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Sermon Number Two

It's mighty nice to wear Masonic jewels, Ezra. I used to think when
I first inherited the right to wear the Square and Compass with
that significant letter "G" in the center, that I was fortified to
rub elbows with the biggest and the best of them. I wouldn't have
traded my first Masonic badge, with what it meant to me, for
anything short of a quarter section in glory. But badges only
represent what is represented in the man who wears them!

If the brother who has been "raised" from the dead level to the
living perpendicular listened well, he must have heard the
beautiful lessons of the "square" and the "compasses" duly
explained and every one of the twenty-four inches of the gauge
representing the twenty-four hours of the day. If he heard these
lessons only in routine and they made no impression on his soul,
you couldn't exalt him very much by hanging as many badges and
jewels on him as adorn the foreign diplomat, who comes over to this
country to swap soft talk with our own crowd of statesmen, who
shoot, "hit if a deer, and miss if a calf" in handing questions of
state.

There's another thing, Ezra, that too many of us, who have received
Masonic light entirely forget, and that's the significance of the
letter "G." No Mason should ever forget the time when the Master
called up the lodge and when all reverently bowed. Folks forget too
soon, Ezra. The Mason who profanes God's holy name commits sin
against his Lord and Master, and a sin against his order, by aiding
the profane in believing that Masonry tolerates profanity. Sorter
think this over and try to skip the hard words hereafter.

In the old days, when I first saw the light, we were a tolerable
poor crowd, Ezra, and had to do lots of scratching to get a little
picking. Somehow, some folks sorter felt that being a Mason carried
with it some supernatural power of "feeding the hungry and clothing
the naked." There was a dear old brother in the little lodge back
there who was always in church on Sunday and did most of the
praying, but he was like some folks chopping wood, he couldn't get
the "slight of using the ax" as we used to say in the timber. Try
as he would, it kept him guessing what the family would have for
Sunday dinner. One day he took ill and died, leaving a widow, who
felt that Masonic jurisprudence included bacon and cabbage, wheat
bread and potatoes, coffee and sugar, and plenty of it. One day we
received a little note, including a bill of fare that was no
slouch, Ezra. Most of us had been hittin' on three cylinders
ourselves, part of the time, and to be invited to "sit in" and
decorate the mahogany according to the widow's code was asking a
whole lot. The worst of it was that this supplication came in the
form of an ultimatum. She wanted bacon and cabbage and she wanted
it in time for dinner that day. Ezra, were you ever so poor that a
twenty-five pound sack of flour looked like the whole wheat crop of
the United States, ground and bolted? Well, that was my idea of the
situation when the widow wanted a fifty-pound sack. Fifty pounds of
flour, Ezra, seemed like reckless extravagance, and me eatting corn
bread twice a day under protest! Why, the only reason I didn't pray
the Lord to help me get a fifty-pound sack of flour - and me
willin' to pay for it - was because I thought it was asking for too
big a shake-down.

Anyhow, we held a council of war among the ten or a dozen members,
and all of us together couldn't have created any flurry in Wall
Street either, and we decided that having the name of being able to
do the Multum in Parvo act, that it would be a shame not to
maintain our reputation, so we levied an individual tax of four
bits each on every able-bodied member of the lodge, and with this
fund we sent a committee with the bill of fare to the last item on
the list. We did more, Ezra. Realizing that if we received like
demands every week or so, that the circulating medium which
accelerates equine motion around the home base wouldn't stand the
tension, when the widow in due course of time had put aside her
mourning, and we found one of the brethren who seemed to have a
corresponding disposition and who had been without a mate just long
enough to have his wing down, we fulfilled our Masonic obligation
of caring for the widows by boosting for the good brother in
knightly style, until the twain became one flesh.

The gospel of Freemasonry, Ezra, consists in being ready and
willing to strain a point, if necessary, to help those in distress.
It beats all how much you can do after you think you've done all
you can do. Just enter into your closet before going to bed, or if
you are too tired to pray in a musty closet, why just lie down in
bed - it doesn't make much difference to the Grand Architect
whether you pray like a Presbyterian, standing up, or shouting like
a Methodist like you thought the Lord was deaf, or whether you pray
like the Arab, lying on your belly, just so you pray and mean it,
old chap, - and before you begin to saw gourds for the night,
sorter make a digest of the day's work and ask God to forgive you
for the crooked paths and to help you plow straighter furrows next
day. Pray, meaning it, and you'll sleep sounder, and feel better,
and the help will come wherewith you may help others. But, Ezra,
don't do like the fellow did who thought he was too busy to pray,
and had the Lord's prayer printed and hung over the head of his
bead, and at night, waving his hand toward the prayer said, "Lord,
them's my sentiments!" Do a little stunt of originality now and
then. It will help lots.

Sermon Number Three

TAKE your Bible and turn to the "Sermon on the Mount," as recorded
in the seventh chapter of Saint Matthew, and you'll find these
words, Ezra: "Not every one that sayeth unto me, Lord, Lord, shall
enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my
Father which is in heaven."

I've attended lots of big meetings, Ezra, where they whooped 'em up
until I have sometimes thought they'd split the shingles with
supplications of prayer, and when the time came to seine the pond
they'd get about all the fish excepting the minnows, but do you
know they wouldn't all keep? Fish are queer creatures, Ezra. They
are born into this vale of tears, orphans. are raised by the "daddy
fishes" - their mothers consider their duty done when the eggs are
laid. Well, human beings are like fish, and lots of Masons take the
same view of the matter that the mother fish takes after depositing
her eggs in the bed made ready for her. This class of Masons seem
to think that paying the initiation fees and taking the obligations
that entitle them to wear big jewels constitutes, creates and dubs
them the whole works. It doesn't do any such thing, Ezra.

The spirit of deviltry takes possession of most of us at times, and
I'm no exception to the rule. I'm not going to start in telling you
what a saint I've been, and how weak the other "sisters" are. We
are all human, some of us lots more so than others. I'm one of this
kind. I once helped conduct a candidate through the solemn rites of
the Chapter. I knew this fellow hadn't been building meetin' houses
all his life, and I wondered how he slipped through the cracks, but
he did. So when I got an opportunity and the Captain of the Host
wasn't looking, I loaded him with burdens and told him it was
according to regulations and he staggered under the load, until the
Captain of the Host got wise. Then I got a lecture that was not in
the ritual, but it did me a world of good, Ezra.

No obligation should be assumed lightly, certainly no Masonic
obligation. If, somewhere under your rhinoceros hide the beautiful
lessons don't strike the right chord, you've spent your time and
money in vain and caused your friends to go to lots of needless
trouble for naught. I once remarked to a Mason whom I had helped
knight a Templar Mason, and in whom it did not seem to soak in
according to my notion of things sublime. that a man who could pass
through these solemn ceremonies without shedding tears had a mighty
strong main-spring in his waterworks, but he told me that he hadn't
noticed anything to cry about. Can you beat it, Ezra?

But I'm wandering away from the text. The Lord knew all about human
nature and made allowances for the shouters and for the still
alarms. He predicted that lots of men who had set up altars of Baal
would try to get in the big show by creeping under the tent on that
pica, but that it wouldn't work. There are lots of Masons who don't
wear much jewelry and make but little fuss about their professions,
but who go about doing the will of God and who follow the teachings
of Masonry in their acts toward all mankind three hundred and
sixty-five days a year. These may be scantily clad with jewels and
emblems, Ezra, but they'll all have drinking cups when they come to
the River of Life. It doesn't matter much where you start in the
race, just so you press on, ever remembering that merit will sooner
or later find its reward. Our Solomon was King of Israel, also the
first Grand Master, and from the records handed down through the
generations he was always ready to mingle with those who bore the
burdens in building the Temple. Entered Apprentices always got as
square a deal as either Hiram, King of Tyre, or Hiram the Builder,
when it came to a "shake down."

I once sat at a Masonic banquet where colored men waited on the
table. One of these waiters wore a Masonic jewel on his watch charm
as big as the jewel of a high priest. It was adorned with a diamond
most as big as a pigeon egg, and still he couldn't pass muster. It
ain't the size of your jewel that counts, it's how sparkling a
jewel you can become in the diadem of Masonic fame by your own good
works which glorify your Father which is in heaven.

I'm afraid there'll be lots of disappointments about meeting
friends up yonder. We'll have friends in both climates, but the
question that concerns us most is which climate we're booked for,
Ezra.

SERMON NUMBER FOUR

Masonry teaches us to not only love the good among our brethren,
but also the evil among them. Masonry was founded on common sense
Ezra, and long before then I had become atoms in the world of
thought or action, Masonry realized that most of us were human and
some of us very human.

I've had considerable Masonic experience one way or another. It's
not  a bad place to pick up stones for the building of character,
either, Ezra.

We think we keep the seine stretched well across the Masonic mill
pond, with the meshes so fine that the dog-fish can't get by, but
you've noticed that in the best screened sleepin' porches
mosquitoers somehow do get through and nip you once in a while.
It's so with men in every walk of life, and Masonry doesn't claim
any supernatural powers or special charms that enable us to read
human nature before its been tested in the crucible. We do our
best, Ezra, and angels can't do more. You just turn back through
the leaves of the New Testament, that Grand Old Book, that's mighty
helpful to a man who is seeking the real old Simon Pure electric
light of Masonic goodness, you just turn to any of the four gospels
of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, and you ll find out that even Jesus
had a Judas in selecting the twelve. When you get to masticating
these facts, don't feel especially called on to throw stones at
those who may not have inherited your particular brand of
hallelujah religion. For my part, Ezra, I m strong on the Methodist
way of praying. I have always felt somehow that the Lord couldn't
help hearing a Methodist when he's hittin' on all six cylinders and
using the right kind of gasoline. Still, just because I was raised
on the "Upper C" kind of praying and preaching is no reason that a
Quaker couldn't get a look-in because he uses the still alarm
signals I once had a dear old Quaker friend who taught me my first
lessons in selling machinery, and gave me the first real foothold
in the business world. He visited me once, oh, he visited me
several times for that matter, Ezra, but the first time I'll never
forget how he acted when I nudged him to ask the blessing, 'way
back there in that humble little cottage that I could justly call
my own first home. I was taught to "read on my plate" or to have
somebody intimate to the Lord that the menu was satisfactory and
that our share was appreciated, ever since I can remember, and I'm
glad of it.

I have a little grandson, Ezra, that folks say looks like me, and
has leanin's my way. I taught him to thank God for every meal when
his little lips could just lisp the words, and I'm strong on being
thankful to God for his many blessings and mercies, and to all
others to whom these presents come greeting small favors thankfully
received and big ones in proportion. So when this good old Quaker
at my table, I didn't just know how to go about mixing Methodism
and Quakerism, but I knew that Quakers were generally very thankful
for a good helpin' and this old boy was no exception. So I asked
him to "open the religious jack-pot." He bowed his head and never
said a word, but I kept my finger on the trigger until he raised
his head, Ezra, and I knew he was through. I never felt that God
had heard a blessing more plainly than he heard that which I did
not hear, but which, like a drink of cool, refreshing lemonade on
a sultry day, I felt clear down to my solar plexus.

As I said before, we think we keep the Masonic gearing well oiled,
and the screens fairly tight, but once in a while we let a dog-fish
in. Did you ever do much fishing Ezra? Well, there's something
about it that appeals to me. The first dog-fish I ever catch bit
little a yellow bass. He was a game old sport, to the manner born,
and I enjoyed the tussle to the fullness, thinking that I had a
great big yellow bass, but I was humiliated when I saw his nasty,
slimy head as I reeled him in. To all intents and purposes he was
a good candidate, and played his part well. He proved all that I
could ask of a real game-fish, but he wasn't fit to cat. Do you
follow me, Ezra?

Then, there s many a good Mason built out of what you might call
ship-lap, in the lumber business. Why, I look back over all these
years to when a good friend, "whom I afterwards found to be a
brother," took my petition, and I have often wondered why. He's in
Heaven now with that good old Quaker, and when I put out the fire
and call the dog for the last time, Ezra, I'm going to visit them
both and ask lots of questions. I thought it was because they
needed the money. They had a square and compass cut out of sheet-
iron, a borrowed Bible, that a dear old Methodist brother loaned
them in the lodge, and the floor was as bare as a young bird's back
in pokeberry time. But, Ezra, it was there that I learned lessons
of friendship and the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man
that sank down deep into my soul, and which have helped me grow in
Masonic grace, and in turn I have led others "by ways they knew
not, and in paths that they had not known" and taught them the
lessons at the "burning bush" where God told Moses to "Draw not
nigh, hither, put off the shoes from off thy feet, for the place
whereon thou standest is holy ground."

As I said before, I've had considerable Masonic experience in my
day, and I'll tell you some of it now and then, maybe, if the
hamstring of life doesn't break to soon I've heard the mystic
words, Ezra, that cause men to fly over mountains and cross seas to
render aid, and I've thanked God for this great privilege and for
the associations with a craft that has shed the sweet fragrance of
its helpfulness around the world, which has stood the sneers and
falsehoods of the ignorant and of those before whom Masonry refuses
to bend its knee or bow to their dominating will, and which has
grown bigger and better all the way, despite these oppositions. I
love this grand old fraternity that makes better men of those who
were not so good when they crossed its portals, and which always
makes better men out of good men. Selah!

Sermon Number Five

Did you ever do any Masonic business on another man's credit, Ezra?
It's not strictly accordin' to the code, but I once had the honor,
if you could call it honor, of getting into a Masonic lodge on
another man's credit. Well, it wasn't quite that bad, but the man
who was with me was admitted on his brother's credit, and he could,
of course, vouch for me, for I was Junior Warden when he heard the
gavel fall the first time.

It was this way, Ezra. We were members in good standing of Plumb
Lodge No. 472, Colfax, Indiana, and we visited Thomtown Lodge No.
113, located at Thomtown, Indiana. Now this brother who accompanied
me was not only a brother, he was also a brother-in-law, and he
resembled a brother of his so much that when we asked for a
committee to investigate our Masonic standing and subject us to the
"test," the chairman of the committee reached out his hand to my
companion and said, "Why, you don't need to be examined, I can
vouch for you." My friend quickly realized the mistake but
concluded to have some fun, so he says, "Then I can vouch for
Brother Sile," and here we went right into a lodge room packed with
Masons, for there were three candidates to be "raised" that
evening. We were invited to help confer one of the degrees, which
we cheerfully consented to do. When we had finished eating fried
chicken and other good things, my friend was called on to talk to
the "boys." There's where the cat got out of the bag, Ezra. This
"old boy" was no speaker in public, and his brother was, but I gave
him the nudge to deal me a hand. After excusing himself and
stammering around a while, he waved a hand my and told the
Worshipful Master that I was some "taffyslinger," and, of course,
they had to let me in on the deal. I had the cinch on 'em all
right, and after criticising them on their style of tiling, told
them that two men whom none present had ever met in lodge before
had passed the portals of the lodge without a test or a voucher,
excepting by one not qualified to vouch for their worthiness. Well,
they were no slouches at old Thorntown No 113, Ezra, and it
required proofs to make the claim good. Then I told them the joke,
and we all had a good laugh but no other fellow ever got by on his
brother's credit in that lodge.

Then I had another rather strange experience years ago in Winnipeg.
A dear friend and brother, whom I had helped conduct all the way
from the Entered Apprentice degree to that of Sublime Prince of the
Royal Secret, lived in Winnipeg when I visited him. Another good
friend of mine from the States was taking his Red Cross degree the
night I arrived in Canada, but this other friend could not attend
the "Priory" that evening, so I strolled over alone, thinking that
I might somehow convince them of my right to "sit in." I greeted
the sentinel and told him who I was and where from. To my surprise,
Ezra, the Eminent Commander greeted me most cordially and said,
"You are just the man we need. We are short of workers. Could you
act as Junior Warden for us this evening?" Could I, Ezra? and me
Junior Warden of Old Robert McCoy that very year? I could. I told
them so and in less time than I'm telling it, I was inside of a
uniform and we did the work creditably. After the ball was over,
Ezra, I asked them how I got in, and they answered by asking me the
same question. There was no brother or brother-in-law that trip to
help me out. But as I have said before and am about to say again,
I've squeezed through some narrow places while pushing through this
sheet-iron world, Ezra.

Sermon Number Six

"Set a watch, Oh, Jehovah, before my mouth, and keep thou the door
of my lips," from speaking aught against my brother, or against any
man, even as far as it is possible to do. Think twice before
speaking once, and if angry or provoked at another, think three
times, and then say nothing for the time being.

THERE was once a man named Zerubbabel, who was chief of the tribe
of the fathers in Israel. Masonic history informs us that when
Jerusalem was made desolate by the Chaldcans, and Nebuzaradan,
Captain of the host of Babylon, besieged the Holy City and wrought
havoc with the Temple of Solomon and carried away the captives,
Zerubbabel was among them. This grand old man must have had a worse
time keeping the children of Israel in line during their captivity
than Moses had with them in the wilderness during his forty years
of wanderings.

Folks always find fault with their best friends, Ezra, when things
go wrong at home and when trouble comes to overwhelm them. When you
come to think about it, it's more of their way of entering a
general complaint than of finding fault, but it's the time of
bellyaches and no mistake. Here were the Jews, scourged and beaten,
most of their men-folks killed off, the women outraged and their
temple, the wonder of the world, that marvelous piece of
architecture, laid in ruins; aye, more, the holy vessels of the
Temple carried away and used by the profane on occasions of
hilarity for feasting and debauchery.

Twas thus, when the yoke of tyranny had rested upon these forlorn
people for "ten weeks of years." All this time Zerubbabel had been
their staff and comfort. He was one of the faithful, one of the
true blue, who flees not in the face of death, pestilence or
disease, but who stands firm and by his example teaches others to
do likewise. During his younger days, Zerubbabel was the friend and
companion of Darius, the king's son, who made a vow that if he ever
ascended the Persian throne he would set the captives free and
restore all the holy vessels carried away to Babylon from the
Temple in Jerusalem.

So it happened, Ezra, that when Darius had been proclaimed king,
after their ten weeks of years of captivity, the children of the
captivity prevailed upon Zerubbabel to undertake the hazardous
journey of crossing the confines of the Persian Dominion and appear
at the foot of the throne, in behalf of his people. This he did,
having to fight his way part of the time and finally was captured
and brought before the king in the garb of a slave, where, after
some of the most trying tests ever given to man, he won by his
strength of mind and unfaltering integrity the king s friendship
and the freedom of his people, and by his brilliant address before
the court of Darius he succeeded in placing woman above wine or
kings and establishing the force of truth.

The point I want to make, Ezra, is that when we get in a hole, when
trouble comes and overwhelms us, it pays always and forevermore to
stand firmly and squarely by the truth. There are too many of us
jumping cogs when the test comes. I've watched  em with my own
eyes, when the cider-press was squeezing the juice of truth out and
Ieaving the pomace in the discard. I've watched 'em under the test
and heard them "hittin  on three,  over facts that they knew as
well as they knew their own names, and yet for fear of disgrace by
telling the truth, they would take the other road, Ezra, and
compound a felony by adding another to hide the real truth. The man
entitled to wear Zerubbabel's signet, the signet of truth, should
never lie but always tell the truth and shame the devil. You can
squirm and dodge and beat around the bush, Ezra, and kid yourself
that you've got through the bars, but that "All-seeing Eye" that
looks down into the innermost researches of the soul, and which
even the sun, moon and stars obey, knows when you are Iying. And
that isn't all. Around you are friends and neighbors who know your
nature and your habits. Is it not better to have them say that you
told the truth, even though it humiliated you to a certain extent,
than to go away and say that you lied when the test of truth was
applied? Sorter think these things over, Ezra.

I have always loved the example Zerubbabel set before the king when
shown the treasures of the palace, the great bags of gold offered
in exchange for honor, and finally the holy vessels of the Temple
of Jehovah, carried away and profaned by wicked hands, even these
treasures, including the Ark of the Covenant, how, when all these
had been offered him in return for honor, he poured out his heart
to God between the wings of the Cherubims for strength to withstand
the great temptation and how God indeed sustained him. Suppose he
had accepted the princely offers of the king and betrayed his
people and his trust? He would have been scorned by the king and
hated by his own, instead of returning to them honored above all
others for his fidelity and made the "king's cousin.

You know it pays to play the game square, Ezra. When you are
invited to "sit in" and invest some of your substance in a few
"seeds" that are hazarded in the draw, you always feel safer when
you know that the little finger of the man who deals is invested
with the signet of truth. Somehow, I'd rather lose my beans with a
square man in an honest game than to pile 'em up at the expense of
a gang of crooks. That may sound a little fishy. Perhaps it does to
the man who "renigs" on a square question honestly stated by saying
he can't remember, but it will go at par with all who play the game
and pitch the ball squarely over the plate just as Zerubbabel did
in the days of old.

Sermon Number Seven

The spirit of Freemasonry emblazons the pathway of its votaries
with kindness and wherever you find kindness and humility, where
you'll find forgiveness stamped upon the brow of every true
believer in the teachings of Freemasonry and in the practices of
Christian virtues.

ONE of the first mottoes that Solomon dictated to his stenographer
was "Mind your own business.  Masonry has kept that motto stuck in
its hat ever since, Ezra. Masonry plods along down the highway of
life welcoming to its tents the Braham, the Jew, the Mohammedan,
the Catholic, the Protestant and all the who are good men and true,
to have and receive a part of its rights, lights and benefits, just
so they are willing to be as broad-minded towards others as its
teachings enjoin, whether they received their teachings from
Confucius, Moses, Mohamet or the Founder of the Christian religion.

It's a mighty safe way of handling the human problem, Ezra. Why, if
we were to publish every sign, grip and pass-word, and tell
everything that there is to be told about Masonry, the world
wouldn't be any better off and Masonry would continue to be the
power for good that it has ever been. Folks have pretended to tell
its secrets, or pretended that others have told it all, but the
God s truth about it is, that if every word was told few would
believe it. Still, there are human beings who would give all they
possess to just take their can-openers and pry the lid off and
expose everything about Masonry, from its Bible to its billie-goat.
I once knew one of this class, Ezra. You know that everything that
has mystery about it is in some way by some folks connected with
the supernatural. That s the case with Freemasonry.

There was a fellow living in the little village where I first saw
Masonic light, who had what my good friend Mike Barry, of Phillips,
once upon a time in the Kadosh, called a "yearning desire" for
gathering in the secrets of the craft. The use of the lodge room
was donated by a worthy brother, until such a time as the lodge
could afford to pay rent, for we were working "U.D." and hittin' on
three for lack of financial juice. In the ante-room was stored half
a carload of hardware, pitchforks and shovels, long and short
handled. The fellow with a bump of inquisitiveness as big as a
goose egg confided to one of the craft, whom he did not know as a
Mason, that he intended hiding in this pile of farm utensils and
gain the secrets of the lodge. He further said that he knew they
kept a goat, for he had heard it bleat, and he was going to watch
the performance. Well, you know it doesn't pay to disappoint folks
with a honing, Ezra, so when the word had been duly passed around
among the faithful, we held what you might call a "clandestine
meeting.  By the aid and connivance of the brother who was hep to
the game, we managed to get this "Cowan" properly hid in the
"rubbish of the temple" at a meeting where no one in particular
presided. We furthermore smuggled a bellicose and unruly goat into
the lodge room beforehand and hid him in the other end of the hall.
Now, this goat would as soon fight in a Masonic lodge as on the
green sward, Ezra, as we had reasons to know. We  pestered him
until he was ready to take a header at whatever showed up. Then we
called the meeting to order, but when we come to  tile the lodge,
the culprit was discovered as per arrangement. We held a mock
trial, and concluded that he must suffer the penalty of the
eavesdropper. Then things began to get serious, Ezra. The fellow
began to realize that he was in a tight place. After much pleading
and promising on his part, we blindfolded him to convey him from
the lodge room without allowing him to detect our secrets. That s
what we told him, but the facts were, Ezra, we wanted him to meet
our goat. He did, he met him from behind, and if we had been using
the  finder  and sighting for him, the goat couldn t have hit the
bull's eye better. I've heard lots of cries for help in my day,
Ezra. I've attended some mighty funny shows and helped exemplify
some warn "side degrees  in the days of old, but I never laughed
quite so loud or long as when that old goat hit Mr. Eavesdropper
amidships. He plead for his life, which was finally granted on
condition that he run for it, which he did. But our timer was still
working, and he reached the door just as the goat did, and they
both went down the stairs together in a catch-as-catch can mix-up,
while all the crowd who had been armed with pitchforks and shovels
hammered them together, creating pandemoniurn indeed. Talk about a
circus in the Shrine, Ezra, we weren't shootin' at clay pigeons
that time. Our inquisitive friend left town next day, for he said
the Masons had him marked for death!

I suppose if we were to allow this kind of "carrying on" in a
Masonic lodge today, we'd get churched for it, Ezra, but it was
worth the risk, and not even the owner of the "billie-goat  knew
that he had taken part in the initiation. When folks get overly
anxious to pry into other peoples' affairs, and want to learn
secrets in a clandestine manner, Ezra, it's a mighty good plan to
accommodate them.

Sermon Number Eight

I have learned the lesson of tolerance well in greeting Masons of
many faiths because they were big enough and broad enough to
exemplify the words of the text:  Whoever shall do the will of God,
the same is my brother and my sister and my mother.

THE profane call us clannish, Ezra. Maybe we are, but somehow, in
some way, I've always thought that Freemasonry was tolerably broad
in its scope. You can always tell a man who has attended a big
revival; he'll show it in his conversation and in his acts. If we
could have a perpetual Masonic revival, lots of us would be saved.
Those of us who have been dubbed and created as Sublime Princes of
the Royal Secret, who have reached the summit of Mount Moriah,
excepting the chosen few who are permitted to become Sovereign
Grand Inspectors General of the Thirty-third and last degree, after
the week of feasting upon the spiritual bread of life, after having
been lifted higher and higher into the rose colored ether of the
spirit world, when we have been permitted to hear the words of
wisdom and of truth from the Great Sages and Holy Men of the past,
from Confucius, Zoroaster, Moses, Mohamet and from the "Great
Captain of Our Salvation," the "Prince of Peace," when we have had
the beautiful lessons deeply indented upon the trestleboards of our
hearts and witnessed those panorarnas of pictures painted upon the
canvas of our immortal souls, we come away filled with the "Gospel
of Freemasonry,  with hearts more tender towards the world and
towards all mankind. But, somehow, it's human to allow the picture
to fade, Ezra. I've sometimes wondered if it didn't pay to
backslide, just to feel so gloriously good when we had renewed our
covenants with God.

The Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man always sounds good
to me, Ezra. If every man could fed when he took another man by the
hand that he was a friend and brother, and if he could somehow make
the other man feel the same way, we wouldn't have much use for
jails and policemen, for standing armies and battle ships and
cannon with which to kill and wound. We wouldn't have to take our
boys from home and keep them on the Mexican border even for
political purposes.

There are a lot of our boys down on the border now, some of whom
are brethren of the craft. I had a letter from one of these,
Brother and Sergeant Harry B. L. Gorman, of Company G. First
Wisconsin Infantry. He's climbed the Masonic ladder all the way to
the degree of Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret. He was on guard
for Uncle Sam. During the meeting of the Consistory in San Antonio,
Texas, wearing the uniform of his country, he sat with many other
soldiers in the gallery on the opening day. Down on the rostrum,
standing erect as a knight of old, was Judge William Seat Fly, 33d.
Judge Fly, like your Uncle Silas's father and brother, fought on
the wrong side in the war of Rebellion, Ezra, but he's one of the
most loyal and devoted patriots living to-day, ready to fight for
Old Glory if need be. With his hawk-like eye, Brother Fly swept the
galleries of the Consistory, and seeing these brethren in uniform,
he said, I want all you men in uniform to leave the gallery and
come right down here and occupy these seats," referring to the
seats reserved for the  Patriarchs." You've got to give it to the
Southerner, Ezra, that his hospitality is only exceeded by his
willingness to fight for his country's flag any time, anywhere.
Maybe we are clannish, Ezra, but if it had been in any other place,
and where it had been consistent with the order of things, that
same proof of hospitality would have been accorded to every man
wearing the uniform whether he was Jew or Gentile, Catholic or
Protestant, because he was a soldier and an American. Thank God for
that kind of clannishness, Ezra.

You show me a good Mason, one that has had it soaked in well, and
who has the real old Simon Pure spirit of Freemasonry in his soul,
and I ll show you a man who measures up to the standard of manhood
in every way. If there is trouble or danger or disease to face
you'll find him right in the front ranks, whether that trouble or
danger or disease threatens a Mason or any of the rest of mankind.
Show me a cause that is just and I'll show you the men who will
stand for it, whether those in danger are Masons, Odd Fellows,
Knights of Pythias or Knights of Columbus, even though some of
these faiths look upon us as "Spirits of Darkness." The true Mason
is a true man, big brained, big hearted and always ready to lend a
helping hand to uplift his fellow man.

Masonry carries on its good deeds in secret, because it believes in
the still alarm. It used to be whenever there was a fire, the fire
department began ringing bells and blowing whistles, and making
more noise than a foot-ball game, but in these modern times the
"still alarm" is substituted. Why wake up the whole city and get
the people all worked up, just because somebody's oil stove has
caught fire, when a silent alarm will bring out the squirt-gun
quietly, orderly and do the work? Listen to this gospel, Ezra:
"Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet
before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the
streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you,
they have their reward. But, when thou doest alms, let not they
left hand know what thy right hand doeth, that thy alms may be in
secrets and thy Father, which seeth in secret, Himself shall reward
thee openly."


Sermon Number Nine

There's another thing that Freemasonry teaches that's mighty good
doctrine, Ezra. The true Mason's word is just as good or a little
better than his bond. Masonry teaches its votaries to be good,
upright, just and true, not only in the letter but in the spirit of
the understanding in dealing with all mankind.

IT doesn't matter much who you are or where you are going,
Masonically speaking, just so you re a man, Ezra. You've got to be
" leven feet high and walk in the middle of the road," son, that's
all.

Masonry doesn't give a rip whether you're a Hindu or a Hottentot,
where you come from or who your daddy was, just so you can stand
the Bertillion measurements of manhood, all the way from the crown
of your head to the soles of your feet. When Solomon, King of
Israel, entered into a compact with Hiram, King of Tyre, and with
the "Widow's Son" it was one of the few gentlemen's agreements
written across the pages of history that has stood the storms and
the sunshine of centuries, that has outlived its enemies, that has
swept the world for humanity and for God.

There may be - there are those who don't love us, who say all
manner of evil against us, who accuse us of crimes and of being
law-breakers, of being horse thieves and scoundrels, and why? For
the same reason what a Methodist looks with contempt upon the
devoted Catholic, that kneels in worship before her images. We of
the Methodist faith were not taught that in bending the knee before
the image of the "Blessed Virgin" it was but proof of faith in the
Son of Mary, and of love for the Mother of Jesus. On the other
hand, the Catholic, with his ritualistic dogma, smiles with pitying
scorn when the Methodist stands up and with tears streaming down
his cheeks confesses to having failed to follow the teachings of
the same Christ which both Catholic and Methodist acknowledge as
their Savior. It's the same reason that causes a Jew to sneer at
Jesus being the Christ, or a Mohammedan from having faith in any
God but Allah and of any prophet excepting Mohamet. Ah, the
narrowness of our human souls, Ezra, the prejudice of our
religions!

I once hired the best colored quartet in the world to sing for me
at the State Fairs, where I was engaged in proselyting the business
world to my faith. I also employed the best colored speaker and
all-around clown in America, who entertained acres of people from
Maine to California. The leader of the quartet and his brother were
Catholic negroes, while "Old Mack" was a shouting Methodist. In
Springfield, the home of Abraham Lincoln, where the quartet lived,
we passed the Catholic church where they worshipped, going to and
from the fair grounds every day. These boys never passed the church
upon which the cross was displayed without lifting their hats or
crossing themselves, as proof of their devotion to their church.
"Old Mack" tapped me on the shoulder one day and called my
attention to their devotion. That same day when preaching his
"Fare-you-well Brother Watkins" negro sermon before five thousand
people, old "Mack" let the reefs of his main-sail slip and forgot
where he was. With that multitude standing spell-bound before this
grand old negro, who was preaching the real salvation for sinners,
these boys in the quartet almost laughed him to scorn. When he had
finished, he wept for joy, but the leader called him a "damned
fool." That is the kind of toleration that causes men, through
ignorance, to call us names, Ezra.

I used to hear the Masonic brethren called  horse thieves" by some
who didn't like than, and who said all manner of evil against them.
One of these old boys, in his fatherly interest in me, told me of
the many crimes which the Masonic fraternity had committed against
God and humanity, which had gone unpunished. And when I asked him
why, he told me they were too strong in number, that whoever tried
to bring them to justice would die by their hands ! Ah, ignorance
and superstition and falsehood! Thou hast stalked abroad and misled
men in the years a gone! Ah, infamous slanderers, to what depths
have you descended to malign an order which has been and ever will
be the foundation of all religions! To one who has drunk of the
Masonic cup of knowledge almost to the last drop, who wondered if
these falsehoods could be true of men who gladly go at midnight to
relieve the sufferings of others, without thought of fee or reward,
and who has found among them men belonging to all religions,
devoutly kneeling at the altar of Freemasonry asking God's blessing
on friend and foe alike, what slander!

I've been preaching the gospel of Freemasonry, realizing that to a
certain extent in doing so I am violating one of the most sacred
tenets of the order, silence. "Set a watch, oh Jehovah before my
mouth, and keep thou the door of my lips!" Forbid that I should
undertake to defend this order, whose grand characteristics need no
defence, which has stood the storm of centuries and brought within
its gates the greatest and the best men this world has ever known,
from John the Holy Baptist, forerunner of the Nazarene, to the
disciple whom Jesus loved and who rested upon His breast at the
Last Supper, if indeed not the Savior himself!

It's human to resent imputations against us which are not true, and
in my old-fashioned Methodist way, I let the governor belt fly off
once in a while, Ezra, but I just can't help it. When I hear a man
telling a falsehood, knowingly or unwittingly, about a friend of
mine, I want to tell him of it, and shake my fist under his nose
while doing so. I once had a very dear friend, who was a Knight of
Columbus, and another very dear friend who was a Knight Templar. I
heard another Knight of Columbus accuse this Knight of Columbus
friend of mine of  having taken advantage of, and of having wronged
a Brother Knight Templar. That was a mixed-up religious mess,
wasn t it, Ezra? Well, I knew that it was a mistake, and then and
there I defended my Knight of Columbus friend from an attack from
his brother in the faith, concerning my brother in the faith !

It takes a man in the middle of the road and 'leven feet high to
stand up and be counted sometimes, Ezra, but the grace of God, the
love and fellowship of the Holy Spirit will descend on you like a
benediction from on high, if you'll follow this injunction: "As ye
would that others do unto you, do ye even so unto them."

Sermon Number Ten

MASONRY never contemplated having to deal with "crooked limbs" in
the wood choppin', Ezra. Masonry was organized strictly according
to the code of a "gentleman s game." When you buy a stack Masonic
beans and light your cigar, and the other fellows do likewise, or
mayhap their cob-pipes with death rattles in the stems, loaded with
Adams' Standard, you are not supposed to strain your eyes trying to
read your neighbor's hand. Neither is he supposed to have to shut
his hand up dead tight with just enough of the corners exposed to
enable him to "read 'em and weep. "

I never liked the idea of being like a settin' hen, ready to peck
at everybody who wondered how many eggs she might have in her nest.
Masonry is a close corporation, and a close communion church, when
it comes to meddlin' with the working tools, but the first and last
leaf in Masonic jurisprudence teaches us to "act on the square." Do
you follow me, Ezra?

Whenever you find a man who goes through life on a general denial,
it pays to examine him adversely before the trial. That s according
to the sublime principles of Blackstone. Moreover, whenever you
find a man proclaiming his honesty from the house-tops, he's just
rocking the cradle to sell his own conscience. Why should I offer
advance proofs of my good intentions when nobody has accused me of
anything, Ezra? It's like taking a band of Indians from Carlisle
University to advertise Sagwa.

That reminds me of a story. Many, many moons ago, there came to the
little village where I once lived in Old Indiana, one of these
"Sagwa" dispensers or "roots, herbs and barks" brought from the
famous "Ban Yan tree  of South America, I think it was. Anyhow, he
located this medicinal tree as far away from home as he could.
Maybe it was in Patagonia, where every prospect pleases and only
man is vile enough to eat missionaries whom we sent thither to
spread the gospel to the heathen in "furin parts."

The old boy who managed the hippodrome from Tomah was a trifle
"pot-gutted" and wore a sombrero with hair cut on the bias, and
they called him "Doc." Did you ever stop to think how many folks
are called Doc, Ezra? They are like the Captains and Colonels, down
south, or the professors up north. Well, this Old Doc had some
likely looking bucks with his show, who spoke mighty good English
when not on guard. "Rattlesnake Dick" was the bad man from
Cheyenne, who, Doc told the audience, could split a postal-card at
twenty paces with his three dollar Quackenbush. It just so happened
that I also owned another "Quack" of the same pattern, only mine
didn't have any globe sights on and Rattlesnake's did. When Old Doc
challenged the world to an equal of his deadshot, he took in a
little too much territory. I never sold Sagwa, or posed as a Bison
William or Johnnie Baker in the use of weapons, Ezra, but I used to
snuff a candle without much effort or run up a string of bull's
eyes and generally got my turkey at all the shootin' matches. So a
friend of mine got Doc to challenge me to shoot with Dick. I shot.
We waived the formalities of splitting postal-cards, and proceeded
to plug bull s eyes. After much solemn warning and more solicitude
for my consenting to be the goat, we were told to "fire when ready,
Gridley.  Rattlesnake Ied off with a center-shot, and L followed
suit. Then he led a trump and I made an even break. The crowd was
growing hilarious at the sixth round, with honors even, when
Rattlesnake fluked, missing the center an inch. I plugged number
seven. Then the postal-card splitter went far a-field. Just to show
respect for the audience, I plugged in ten centers without a miss
and allowed it Iooked llke rain, Ezra. It broke up the meetin'.
Rattlesnake took a straight shoot across lots to the reservation,
and Sagwa received a slump in Colfax.

The point I wanted to make is, that while as "Johnnie Poole" told
the teacher, it pays to advertise, it s a mistake to take in too
much territory in your brief of claims for recognition. Don't try
to split postal-cards until you have learned to spilt stove-wood
enough for your wife to get dinner with. In stating your case to
the jury, Ezra, always keep this fact in mind, that the highway of
truth is the only one where the traffic is never blocked, and
that's the highway over which all good Masons travel.

Sermon Number Eleven

The man who seeks entrance into the order in the hope of its giving
him a boost, excepting the boost of real brotherhood, - the man who
seeks to commercialize Masonry, has no business even in the ante-
room, where decent men are prepared for receiving the "hidden
mysteries."

DID you ever read St. Paul's letters to the Ephesians and the
Galatians, and the Hebrews and the rest of em, Ezra? St. Paul was
a proselyte to the Christian faith. He started out to persecute
them and to put them to death. Paul was a sort of Bashi-Bazouk who
followed along and threw stumbling blocks in the way of the
followers of the Nazarene, until one day he ran against the stone
wall and was stricken blind for the time being. Then he got
converted, and then he became the wheel-horse of the Christian
religion. They say that a proselyte becomes the rabidest kind of a
convert.

After St. Paul had gotten religion, he preached and he prayed, and
when they put him in jail he wrote these letters that I m telling
you about to the faithful. In one of his latest dictations Paul
wrote: "But God hath chosen the foolish things of this world to
confound the wise." I never had this gospel impressed on me more
than when I received an invitation one day to talk to a convention
of schoolteachers. Not having ever been a schoolteacher, not even
a student in a graded school during my sixty-odd years of lingering
on this old sheet-iron world, I naturally wondered what this crowd
of educated people had in mind when they invited me to drop over
and while away an hour with them. I thought maybe they had gotten
their names and dates mixed, but they assured me that such was not
the case, so I concluded to look 'em over, Ezra, seeing that the
first person to ever hug me after I was tumed loose as an orphan to
root for myself, and to push my hair back and call me nice names,
was a teacher, with whom I played several return engagements ere I
had grown to manhood and she to ripe old age, so I heeded the call.
Did you ever start out wondering what you'd say and then find it
hard to stop saying what seemed to just pour out like soap-suds
running down a sink-hole? That was my name and address on this
occasion that I'm telling you about. There were oodles of handsome,
yes, some beautiful faces and characters present when I rang the
bell for books, and just started in teaching teachers. I can't even
approximate what I said, Ezra, neither could they. The boss teacher
sent over to get my "Manuscript" to publish. Manuscript! Did you
get that, Ezra? Well, I couldn't comply with that request, as I
don't shoot paper-wads, not at teachers, if I know myself.

If you could have seen those teachers! Dignified highbrows,
handsome women and pretty girls, trying to look sober and couldn't.
They tittered and giggled until I had to rap for order, and me just
tellin' 'em the very things which they knew better than I did. I
looked back in memory to the days when I went to a country school,
and told them about red-headed, stooped-shouldered Bill Parish, who
drew his words out like he was afraid they'd get to fighting if he
didn't keep them apart. And about Donald Brooks sitting on his
buckwheat cakes to keep them warm until noon. You know, Ezra, and
they knew, that a cold buckwheat cake is like eating a saddle-
blanket, it's hard to masticate and harder to digest, and here they
nearly threw fits laughing at their own everyday experiences as
teachers. It was using the foolish things of this world to confound
the wise, and I was hittin' her up on all six and gettin' encored
to the echo, when I looked at the clock and found that I'd blatted
a whole hour. They gave me a send-off when I closed that showed
that I'd struck their funny bones, and they invited me to play a
return engagement, those splendid people, the very elect of earth,
who must look wise and frown on funny things most of the time,
because I had dared tell them of human nature and how to handle it.
It's so in Masonry, Ezra. It's the grandest and most helpful
element in the world, but you must know how to gauge the doses,
son. There are men who have climbed all the way up to the topmost
round of the Masonic ladder and can string it out like coiling up
a tape-worm on a clothes line, but they have failed in many places
to observe the beautiful precepts which the Grand Architect of the
Universe put into the heart of man to incorporate in the ritual.

There s an Old Boy who sweeps the streets of Madison and divides
his sweepings with the sparrows who find it hard picking since the
automobiles don't use oats for fuel. This old boy takes off his hat
when you speak to him, and retums your salutation as a dignified
gentleman should. He is polite in every way. When you drive by he
gets out of the way and smiles instead of frowns. When the lodge
meets, he lays aside his street clothes, dons a nifty looking suit,
puts on his white apron, "the emblem of innocence and the badge of
a Mason" and sits with his brethren, a gentleman and a brother
clear through. You couldn't hire this old boy to blackball a
candidate through spite or for a fancied grievance towards the
brother who presented the petition, because in his heart of hearts,
from entering the door for the first time, until his friends
scatter flowers over his grave, he has been vaccinated with the
spirit of Freemasonry, and it has "took, good and plenty," and his
vocation in life is just as honorable as the man who wears the
Master's hat, or the Templar's helmet. He's a man for a' that and
a' that, and God will reward him in the Great Temple above where he
may, for all we know, become one of the pilasters or the columns
that help support the superstructure. It doesn't make much
difference where you are along life's pathway, just so you are a
man all the time, Ezra.

Masonry regards no man for his outward worth of wearing apparel,
it's the heart that beats in unison with all that s good and true,
with all that stands for the uplifting of mankind, and the mind
that generates pure and holy thoughts, that reaches down and helps
others to climb, that counts where the "Three Great Lights" burn
the brightest at midnight's lowly hour, Ezra. You couldn't hope to
gather together the hundred of thousands of the craft without
finding a Jubelo or a Jubela or a Jubelum in that mighty army of
the faithful, but you just measure 'em up with any other set of men
on this great, big, cold, clammy world, and you'll find their
Bertillion system equal to the best, because God has put it into
the heart of man when he is chosen to a high place to try and
honor, rather than disgrace his standing among men. As I have said
before and am about to say again, there's an occasional ring-
streaked buck among the herds, but as few or fewer according to
numbers than any other institution in the world. Don't forget this
gospel, Ezra. Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation
yourself, and thereby set a good example before your fellowman, for
which your Heavenly Father will reward you when you have put out
the fire and called the dog in life's journey.

Sermon Number Twelve

YOU'LL find skunks in the cabbage now and then, Ezra, no matter how
close you nail the pickets, or how many traps you set. Human skunks
creep into Masonry, once in a while, son, just as their kinfolks
creep through the hedge fence, and when you dispute their right,
use their spraying apparatus to let you know how much stink they
can create.

There are those connected with Masonry, I am sorry to say, who know
as much about the pure and unadulterated high ideals for which
Masonry stands, as Balaam's ass knew about Hebrew grammar. They get
through the bars themselves by a scratch, and then for the most
flimsy and un-Masonic excuses in the world, exercise the right of
the  black cube" for pure and unadulterated cussedness, for the
most flimsy excuses in the world, and, what is worse still, smile
and pretend to be as innocent as unborn babes!

I'm decidedly in favor of guarding the doors of Masonry well; the
very fact that these kind of ashlars are used for the building is
the best proof in the world that the doors should be guarded. But
Masonry is the great institution whose aim is to help good men to
be better men, not a place where we may sneak up behind another and
knife him when he can't defend himself, because we have some
fancied grievance, or, what is worse still, because we don t like
the man very well who has presented his petition, or because of a
desire to smirch the record of those who have been entrusted with
the affairs of the lodge for the time being. Of all the men for
whom I have supreme contempt, it's the Mason who will go so far as
to try to prevent others from advancing in the line, or from
accomplishing that which I may have accomplished when entrusted
with the same sacred duty, and which they have helped me
accomplish. They are the Jubelums of Freemasonry. I've felt at
times that these men whom we must recognize as brothers, even when
they have sunk their poisoned barbs deep into our hearts, for
fancied grievances, or for pure and unadulterated cussedness, were
mighty poor Masonic relations, Ezra. They remind me of the fellow
who couldn't lick his opponent, but who could make mouths at his
sister. They are the kind who, when drunk, lick their wives just to
show their authority.

I've been tempted sorely, to smite some of this class in return,
while ambling down the old dirt road, Ezra, when mayhap those near
and dear to me had been deprived temporarily of the "hidden
mysteries," but, when I just asked God to make me very humble, and
to help me to do with them as I would have them do, with me, when
some of their flesh and blood were undergoing the scrutiny before
being admitted, I could forget the temptation, and, looking far
beyond the petty selfishness and jealousies, hear the response from
"Hiram's" station, "Fair in the South," with a peace of mind that
left no bitterness of soul, or self-conviction of having done a
dirty trick in the dark, to avenge another trick of like nature.

I've never exercised the "right of spite," and the Mason who does
is a Mason only in name, without one of the instincts of real
Masonry. It ain't laying any bricks in the wall, nor furnishing any
of the mortar of real old-fashioned Masonry, thc foundation of all
religions by preventing a good man from participating in the noble
and glorious work of rebuildtng the Temple of Jchovah, just because
arc don't like the man who presented his petition.

They have tolerable strict rules in the regular army, Ezra. We all
need a tight rein, with overcheck and crupper, too, but it doesn't
help matters to abuse each other unnecessarily. There's more than
one regular army officer who proved tyrannical in the extreme
during the war of the Rebellion, towards raw recruits, who is
sleeping on the battlefields with a minie-ball through his back.
Then it seemed that it was the delight of the Westpointer to
inflict punishment on the "raw recruits." Then the jailbirds were
admitted to the regular army, now, you have to have a good, clean
record or you can't even become a private in the army, and officers
don t get shot in the back for being overbearing and tyrannical,
but men from the ranks can become officers by merit.

The man who will unduly humiliate his fellowman just because he
can, is on a par with Harry Thaw flogging boys for pastime.

There's Masons with whom I associate, who hated me once, and unduly
wounded me because they didn't know me. They are among my best
friends now, because we've gotten acquainted, and the sweetest
thought of mine is, that instead of preventing their exaltation, I
presented their petitions, and helped make them better men. Oh,
that this spirit might settle down upon the whole world, and that
instead of trying to throw stumbling-blocks in the pathway of those
who are teaching God's word, and who are true disciples of the
Master, that we might one and all reach out a hand and lift their
loads, and offer them encouragement instead of black-cubes when
they knock at our doors and ask for a tallow candle to guide them
to the pathway of Christian Masonry!

Sermon 14

THE VERMIFUGE APPENDIX

Therefore, if thou rememberest that thou hath aught against thy
brother, for the love that thou bearest for Masonry, just try the
remedy prescribed by the Nazarene, and great will be thy reward we
are all human beings, one about as good as the rest, taking them on
the arerage.

ONE day some years ago, the Commander-in-chief of Scottish Rite
Masonry in Wisconsin invited me to preach a sermon to the class at
the banquet following the exemplification of the work from the
Fourth degree to that of Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret 32d.

Here is what the editor of Masonic Tidings has to say of the event:

"The next speaker was Sublime Prince Bascom B. Clarke of Madison.
The Commander-in-chief, in introducing Sublime Prince Clarke, said,
'I now introduce to you Uncle Silas who writes "The Gospel of
Freemasonry" for the Masonic Tidings. He is also known as a "Funny
Man," a Philosopher, and a Bishop.' "

"Our good brother was not disappointing in any of those roles. He
created jollity and mirth by his conventional knowledge of such
American phrases as a jack-pot' and 'sitting in the game.' But when
he turned to consider the serious things of life and cited many sad
incidents in the life of the unfortunate, into whose lives had been
brought hope and sunshine because of his own big heart and the
Masonic brethren of Madison,Ľand as he vividly delineated the
suffering of some outcast of society, some child that had been
deprived of the tender care of mother and father, and left to
struggle amidst biting hunger and poverty, he awakened the deepest
sympathy and touched the heart tendrils of every Sublime Prince.

"The Bishop seems to the manner-born, the very semblance of the
cloth, but, dear reader, though he never was ordained a Bishop, he
preaches the gospel of Humanity and God in a way that touches the
hearts of mankind.

"Brother Clarke, however, is only a layman, a prominent and
successful business man, who has given away a fortune - always in an
unostentatious way - helping to ameliorate the sufferings of
humanity. The one thought uppermost in his mind during a busy and
active life - to bring sunshine into the lives of the unfortunate
and those less fortunate than himself.

"We excerpt the following from his address:

" 'After four days of feasting upon the spiritual bread of life,
emanating from the Sanctuary of God's Holy Temple; after the
beautiful and impressive lessons which must have been deeply
indented upon the trestle-board of every heart; after having been
lifted higher and higher into the rosecolored ether of the spirit
world, listening to the teachings of the great Sages and holy men of
the past, of Confucius, Moses, Zoroaster, Mohamet, and of the Lowly
Nazarene; after having assumed the most sacred vows ever taken by
mortal man; after having witnessed that marvelous panorama of
pictures painted upon the canvas of our immortal souls and hearing
the words of truth and sobemess, I wonder if we are ready at this
time to turn from those holy things, to delve in thoughts of mirth
and jollity; or if it were better to allow these sacred lessons and
all they mean to sink deeper into our heart of hearts.

"'The Illustrious Commander-in-chief has called me a philosopher,
but my name is not Philetus. I am called "Bishop" by some who love
me for what I am. I have never been consecrated a bishop excepting
in the hearts of those whose hands I help to hold up in doing God's
work. Last and perhaps Ieast, I am called "The funny man of The
American Thresherman because I write stale jokes and preach "nigger"
sermons.

" 'One of the most serious problems in all the world is trying to be
a ' funny man." Why, I've paid a dollar for a seat in the bald-
headed row to listen to a professional funny man, trying to make his
audience smile. But my promise tonight is to tell you some serious
jokes that it has been my lot to know.

" 'I began my career as a "Funny Man" publishing avery "weakly"
little newspaper in an Indiana vlllage forty years ago. It was one-
half "boiler iron" insides, the other half was dedicated and devoted
to dog-fights, town gossip and to teaching the correct philosophy of
opening a jack-pot!" In exchange for these interesting facts, I
received cordwood, composed of hickory limbs that would put out a
decent fire, and pumpkins from the size of a foot-ball to a
wash-tub! My readers thought it was the funniest thing in the world
to watch me dodging enraged neighbors and bad debt collectors. They
used to gather every publication morning to read the news, and laugh
when I got kicked up the stairs and down again. It's a serious
business trying to be a funny man!

"'One morning, when I had reached the limit of my credit, I turned
the column rules, and between these streaks of mourning, I wrote my
obituary. Then I moved. All I had to do to move was to just put out
the fire and call the dog! My readers thought it was the funniest
editorial I had ever written. It takes a real funny man to feel
hilarious at his own funeral!

" 'Now, I 'm going to tell you why they call me "Bishop." There's a
godly little man in Madison, whose wife has the face of a saint.
They came there so poor in purse that they had to fertilize the
barracks before they could raise a religious disturbance. My people
are all Methodists, and believe in a religion that hollers. They
have chased me all over their meeting houses ever since I was big
enough to repeat the Lord's Prayer, trying to snare me in. They have
hooked me several times, but, like our profane brethren of the
class, I always back-slided.

"When these Volunteers of America came to do God's will, and asked
me to "decorate the mahogany," their creed was so simple that I
could understand. Then I invited others to "sit in," and in the
polite parlance of the game I asked them to please observe the usual
formalities, which means to "sugar the green" and to "sweeten the
kitty. "

I've watched this saintly little mother at midnight's lowly hour,
visiting the saloons of Madison, seining the pond for pennies and
nickles with which to carry on their good work and every saloon-
keeper. and every other man who says "prosit" is her friend and
protector. I've watched her going alone up the dark alleys,
ministering to those in need, with none to molest her.

" 'One day these Christian people told me that if they had a
thousand dollars they could buy a little chapel in my ward, in which
to hold religious services for the poor, and I told them to buy.
They looked at me with open mouthed astonishment, and I challenged
them to the "test" of God's promise to help those who keep His
commands. We gave an entertainment and when the curtain raised to
the strains of a calliope. everybody sang, "Nearer, My God to Thee,"
for we had the money in the box office with which to pay for the
little chapel.

" 'One cold winter's night this godly little woman whispered to me
that she had in her home a little girl, scarcely in her teens, who
would soon become a mother. That she had taken from her a bottle of
deadly poison with which she had meant to take her own life, because
an infamous scoundrel, who should writhe in the torments of the
orthodox hell, had betraved her and left her to her fate. This good
Christian woman asked me to make it possible for her to not only
save this little girl's life, but her reputation as well. As
"bishop" of her church, I wrote a letter, sending multigraph copies
to the faithful in Madison, to some within the sound of my voice.
Most of these brethren are members of this craft. I told them in an
orthodox way, without disclosing my hand, that they were expected to
"straddle the blind" and to tilt the lid of the official jack- pot.
They filled my hands with bright, shining, smiling, glistening
simoleons that talk without making a noise, and that little girl is
living an upright and Christian life today, and the world knows not
the secret of her life.

" 'On a hot day in July last, these same Christian people fed and
watered twenty-six hundred little children in Tenney Park. The
greater part of the funds for this occasion was contributed by
Madison Masons. We have a wonderful photograph of that assembly of
little folks, the best I have ever seen. There were white children,
Norwegians, Italians, and chocolate drops. All kinds, sizes and
previous conditions before being groomed for the occasion. It took a
water tank to haul lemonade and a wagon to transport the sandwiches
and other good things. As I looked over this crowd of Polacks,
Danes, Chinese and Alligator Bait, I asked this good little woman
who was managing the menagerie if she thought that all of these were
included in those beautiful words, "Suffer little children and
forbid them not. to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of
Heaven?" Yes, she said, they were all included in the manifest, but
we'd have to scrub some of them before loading on the Old Ship of
Zion.

" 'One Christmas Eve not many years ago, this whitehaired little
captain rushed into my office, and after saluting me as his superior
officer and as Bishop of the church, told me that he had found a
home where six people were sleeping in a single bed. I asked if they
were Mormons, and he said, "Come and see." I loaded a reporter for a
daily paper into my automobile and with this little captain we
headed for the pines. Reporters and newspaper men all enjoy funny
sights. We found four little children shivering over a little stove
in a home so poor that a killdeer would have had to carry his own
rations. A little brown-eyed girl eleven years old, holding her baby
sister, and trying to keep the others from freezing, was asked if
she was looking for Santa Claus. "No," she said, "I think he is
dead." That saintly Little Mother of the Volunteers of America with
her own home to care for, and all the rest of "God's patient poor"
in the city besides, was rushed on the job. Such a scattering of
dirt and rags and such a scrubbing as that old floor received! It
was such a funny sight ! Why, the reporter was so amused that the
tears ran down his cheeks, as we returned from the Club with a great
big turkey all baked and brown, and piping hot, with cranberry sauce
and oyster dressing enough to feed twenty men, as he watched those
children and their parents clean the platter. It was a funny sight!
It takes serious things to make some folks feel funny. We paid a
return engagement of the menu for their Christmas dinner. That godly
little woman made my automobile look like a moving van, loaded with
bedding, clothes and clothing. At midnight when all was cleaned and
when the children were asleep in clean, warm beds, we left a
Christmas tree loaded with presents. It was such a good opportunity
for playing a joke on those little children.

" 'Because of these little pleasantries along life's highway, they
call me "Bishop." It takes funny men to make bishops. Why, Bishop
Quayle of the Methodist church, who is big enough to be called a
partridge, is such a funny man that he would make you laugh in
administering the sacrament. But he's a tower of strength to his
church and for God. I have listened to him preach and wondered how
on earth he knew so much about cards, when the very disciples of the
church bars him from ' sitting in." I was brought up in that faith,
and used to hearing, Amen, every time the preacher caught his
breath. I m still a brother-in-law and contributing member.

"'As I listened to the answers of the brethren of the class in reply
to that momentous question, over which some of us have dodged and
other lied, while still others told the truth and shamed the devil,
in every class, my own included, I was deeply impressed with the
mirth provoking proposition, "Are you in the habit of taking God's
name in vain?" It carried me back to sixteen years ago when Brother
Perry and Brother Brown sat on the side lines to hear my reply. It
was such a funny question that it brought a sob of shame thdt I had
ever profaned God's Holy Name. I wasn't like George Washington who
couldn't tell a lie. I dared not, for I knew that I'd get caught in
it. The hand pressure from those brethren who were watching me
there, for having told the truth, was comforting indeed. "Who
doesn't know whether or not he takes God's name in vain?" No man on
this earth, with his reason not dethroned, but who knows only too
well whether he takes God's name in vain or not. Every man who does
not swear is justly proud of the fact, and those who do swear feel
the cutting humility as you and I, my profane brethren, have felt
when that question has been plainly put to us. To lie about it is
compounding a felony, even though such a question could cause a
smile or sneer from any man! It takes serious things to make some
men feel funny, now, doesn't it?

" 'As I watched the temptation of Zerubbabel, writhing under the
tempter's plea, and heard his prayer before the Ark of the Covenant,
where the Shekinah had come down from Heaven and lighted up the Ark
between the wings of the Cherubims, for strength to withstand the
great temptation, as I saw him triumph because of his fidelity, in
my soul I said, "Blessed be the God of Truth!"

"'As a philosopher I commend to you the example of Philetus, as a
serious man I warn you of the hazard of trying to win the pot in
poker on a single pair, as a Bishop who has never been consecrated,
I raise my hands and invoke the blessing of the Holy Trinity to rest
and abide with you each and every one."'

If all men were perfect there would be no need of church or Masonic
revivals, there would be no need of courls or jails, no need of
great armies clashing in a world's war, but all men and women could
dwell together in unity, meeting on the level, acting by the plumb-
line, and parting, on the square.