The Model Master
Most W. Bro William Mercer Wilson
Most Worshipful Brother William Mercer Wilson was the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario. He was 42 years of age when he took the gavel as Grand Master and over his life served the Grand Lodge three times. Most W. Brother Wilson was Grand Master from 1855-1859, 1866-1867, and from 1872-1874. The following is an article published by our Most Worshipful Brother in 1866 during his second term in office as it was published in the Craftsman in 1866. It tells of the virtues and skills needed for a Master to successfully govern his lodge. These words are as applicable today as they were in 1866.
To become the model Master of a Lodge should be the ambition of every Brother, and to discharge with efficiency and zeal the duties of that important office should be his most anxious desire. These duties are not confined to the mere repetition of a few phrases, learned by rote, but he should be enabled to instruct the Craft, not only as to the meaning and origin of our ceremonies, but also to explain to them the philosophy which is veiled in its allegories and illustrated by its symbols.
He should be able, also, to convince his Brethren, that all science and art, legitimately directed, are but lines that radiate towards the great "I AM;" that the Sciences are the media by which we are led to contemplate the goodness, greatness, wisdom and power, of the Great Architect of the Universe; and that the Arts are the modes we have developed of expressing our sense and admiration of the wondrous glories of an Almighty Father which are scattered around us.
The Master of a Lodge should also, in his life and in his conversation, be a model for his Brethren to admire and imitate, and should himself practice, out of the Lodge, those great moral doctrines and virtues which he inculcates within its walls. He should be punctual and methodical in all things, and, both by his character and conduct, command the respect, the esteem, and good will of all men; for, as the Master is supreme in his Lodge, and distinguished by his position in the Craft, so should he also be distinguished as the possessor of an irreproachable character, a dignified demeanor, an expanded intellect, and a liberal education. Happy and prosperous must those Lodges be which are governed by such men! — their time of meeting is looked forward to by the Brethren with the most pleasing anticipation. Prompt at the hour, every Brother is at his station, and the work is carried on with pleasure and profit. The Worshipful Master who presides over his Lodge with ability, firmness, and decision; (for without force of character there can be no force of impression) whose manner is courteous yet dignified; whose decisions are consonant with reason and Masonic Law; and who dispenses light and information among the Craft, will ever be regarded by his Brethren as one who is entitled to their highest respect and their most fraternal regard.
The anxious enquirer after Truth and Light feels that he may appeal with confidence and safety to such a ruler of a Lodge, as to one who is not only able and willing to reward and advance him according to his ability and worth, but to one whose duty and high privilege it is to diffuse the beams of light and to scatter abroad the seeds of truth. The aspirant, animated by the love of truth, uninfluenced by mercenary motives, duly appreciating the philosopher's apothegm, that "Knowledge is Power," and prompted by higher desires, eagerly presses forward, believing in a nobler destiny and aspiring after a brighter record; it is the Master's duty to assist him in his research — it is his high privilege to "pour the balm of instruction o'er the mind," to fill it with light, to stir up its powers, and to raise it to its proper supremacy over matter. It is for him to bestow upon the neophyte — if he finds him worthy and qualified — not only wealth but power also; not the wealth that corrupts its owner, nor the power which enslaves its dependent, but the ennobling wealth of wisdom and the enduring power of knowledge.
The Financial affairs of the Lodge are managed by such a Master with prudence and economy — he regards debts due either by or to his Lodge peculiarly as debts of honor, and takes care to have them promptly arranged — the Brethren, loving the man and respecting his authority, submit to his decision with cheerfulness and alacrity, and are ready at all times to aid him in his efforts to advance the interests of the Order. The cement with which he has bound the Brethren together is not confined to the Lodge Room, but is carried out into the world, and practical illustrations of friendship and brotherly love are daily exemplified. Time will not now permit me to enlarge upon the various qualities and virtues which adorn the model Master. I must therefore leave the subject for the present, and conclude by remarking, that I feel proud and happy in being enabled to say that, I believe, we have among us many Masters and Past Masters of Lodges who are an honor to the Fraternity and the Order — many, who are not only Masters of men but also of work, and who are indeed entitled to the proud distinction of being regarded as the cream of the Craft.