Private, Not Secret
by Bro. Paul Roberts
THE MASTER MASON
- JANUARY 1927
We do not remember to have read so lucid
a statement and exposition of the distinction between a
private and a secret order as is here made by Brother Roberts,
Dean of St. Michael's Episcopal Cathedral, of Boise, Idaho. If
kept in mind, it disarms many of the critics of Masonry, who
identify the Fraternity with societies with which it has no
affinity, much less affiliations.
ONE may easily think that
it is a mere quibble over words to try to make such
a distinction in the question, "Is Masonry a secret or private
organization?" However, it does represent an attempt to
understand its spirit and purpose.
A group of English
teachers were once trying to determine what was the most hateful
word in the English language, and they finally chose the word
"exclusive." As a Mason I should dislike to think of Masonry
as "exclusive" in the sense that it excludes some, while being
a place for special privilege to others. It certainly is
not secret in the sense that it has a secret membership or
secret ideals. It is only secret in the sense that all things in
God's world are secrets, waiting for men to unlock the door
that guards them from the careless and the lazy, by study and
work and perseverance.
Electricity was a secret, but only
the sort of a secret that lured men on to open up the doors
that led into the great world that God had prepared for us.
Medicine was a secret, but it has been giving up its treasures
to those who will seek to understand. Even the beauty of
nature is a secret, but only such a secret as waits for the
person who so attunes his life that he may see and appreciate
THERE, is no such thing as getting
something for nothing in God's universe, but all its glories
and riches are but waiting for its to pay the price of thought
and persevering effort to open up the doors that lead
to understanding and appreciation. So you penetrate into the
realm of music, or art - yes, of character itself.
same way, I would conceive Masonry. Secret perhaps, but not the
sort that shuts men out except as they shut themselves out
by an unwillingness to pay the price of study, of effort, of
perseverance to enter into its meaning, to appreciate its ideals,
to measure up to its standard of manhood. It is built upon the
secrecy that lures eager men on to an understanding of its
underlying purposes and visions. It does not bar men out
because of personal dislike unless untrue to itself, but they
bar themselves out by an unwillingness to enter into its high
standard and the refusal to climb tip to its heights.
faith in God; its belief in immortality: its trust in
brotherhood, are not secrets that refuse to give up their truth
to those who seek and who knock, but they are visions that
must be won, citadels that must be stormed, discoveries that must
be made by the struggle of men. They are but waiting for
men to enter in and claim them. They are private in the sense
that each must gain them for himself. They do not lie uncovered
for every careless passer-by to appropriate.
YET we, as
Masons, try to appreciate that faith and idealism, and by earnest
thought and effort try to enter into that perfect knowledge
which comes not by mere profession, but by personal possession
and consecrated living.
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