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From the collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts

  • MM 1885, Ahiman #492, Newark, OH
  • Affiliated 1901, Wyoming
  • Grand Chaplain 1921-1942


From Proceedings, Page 1942-25:

Our Brother was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 18, 1855, and died in Melrose, Massachusetts, on February 8, 1942.

He was educated in the public schools of Cleveland, Kenyon College at Gambier, Ohio, and at the Episcopal Theological School at Canibridge, Massachusetts. Following his ordination, he served faithfully as a Rector in the Episcopal Church for many years. Since 1906, he had been a Trustee of the Melrose Public Library and took a very active interest in its development. He was active for many years in the work of the Red Cross, and also served in the Massachusetts State Guard during World War I.

He was raised in Ahiman Lodge No. 492, Newark, Ohio, on January 1, 1885, and in 1901 affiliated with Wyoming Lodge of Melrose, of which body he served as Chaplain from 1894 to 1914. He was appointed Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge by Most Worshipful Arthur D. Prince in 1920 and held that office until his death, being the senior Grand Chaplain in point of service. The Grand Lodge honored him by the presentation of the Henry Price Medal in 1931, and the Veteran's Medal in 1937.

He was a member of and active also in the collateral bodies. Exalted in Waverly Chapter, R.A.M., in 1900, he served as Chaplain from 1900 through I9I4, and was Grand Chaplain of the Grand Chapter from 1905 until his death. He received the Super Excellent Degree in Melrose Council, R. & S. M., in 1907, but held no office in that body. He was knighted in Hugh de Payens Commandery in 1901 and served as Prelate from 1901 until his death. In the Scottish Rite, he was a member of Merrimack Valley Lodge of Perfection in Haverhill since 1903.

Brother Sterling was beloved for his genial personality and his faithful and loyal service to and for his Brethren. His was a long and useful life and we would speak of his passing as does the poet:

"Sleep on, dear friend; such lives as thine
Have not been lived in vain,
But shed an influence rare, divine,
On lives that here remain."



From New England Craftsman, Vol. I, No. 2, November 1905, Page 39:


Character of a Master Mason as Delineated in the Ancient Landmarks
(Companion Rev. Paul Sterling)

The Ancient Landmarks of the Order, in number twenty five, constitute its supreme law. They are unwritten and of unknown antiquity, coming to us, to quote the words of high authority, "from a period so remote that no account of their origin is to be found in the records of history." They are unrepealable, and from this fact more than anything else, perhaps, springs the stability of the order. The Ancient Constitutions are that part of the written law of Masonry enacted prior to the year 1721. Their regulations are what is called "general" in character, and they, together with the Ancient Landmarks constitute the whole foundation of Masonic law. The earliest of these documents is the Old York institutions of 926, the latest are the Charges Approved in 1722 and the General Regulations of 1721. It would be of great interest to see just what these Landmarks and restitutions are in themselves, but that would take us from our subject which is their Delineation of the Character of a Master Mason.

We note in the first place that the character of a Master Mason is conferred upon him from without, it being presumed, however, that his previous personal attainments and Masonic instructions have fitted him to bear it. It is the chief significance of our ceremonies that as the workman takes the rough material and by the exercise of his skill endows it with new and special qualities fitting it for the masters use, so the candidate, passing through the preliminary tests and the subsequent work of the degrees, is at last brought to the Master and by him given a particular character. To speak in language familiar to us all it is a character confessed of all men from ages immemorial to be most honorable. The Lambskin or White Leather Apron, Emblem of Innocence, badge of a Mason is the most honorable that can be worn not because it speaks of worldly state but because it proclaims the character of him who wears it. To maintain this character is the profession or business of a Master Mason.

It is also the means by which he realizes those pure aspirations which moved him as a seeker for light to knock for admission at the door of the Lodge.

There is some excuse for a child's rebelling against the laws and conditions of life, because he is brought into the world absolutely without being consulted, so far as we who can look at the beginning of life only from this side can tell. But there is not this excuse for a Mason who repudiates his character, for he sought it freely, uninfluenced by merciuary motives, for his own legitimate welfare and that he might increase his means of usefulness to his fellow men. And further in response to the granting of his request for admission he solemnly promised conformity to the Ancient Established Usages of the Fraternity.

First of all therefore the Mason must use all diligence to become rightly instructed concerning the Ancient Usages and Customs of the Fraternity, by seeking the aid of those more skilful than himself and above all by being regular at the communications of his Lodge; which duty is in itself an ancient Landmark, for " in olden times no man could without severe censure absent himself from the Lodge unless it were shown that pure necessity hindered him."

Freemasonry is "founded upon the practice of the moral and social virtues." It deals with manhood good and true. Its principal tenets are belief in God as the Supreme Architect and Ruler of the Universe and the belief in the Resurrection to a Future Life. The belief in the Divine Being is more plainly taught than is that in the Resurrection, but the latter is not only typified by the legend of the 3rd degree, the purpose of which is to "teach the resurrection from the dead as that of the Royal Arch is to inculcate the rewards of a future life," but is so interwoven with the whole fabric of Masonry as to far more than justify its being reckoned as the 20th of the Ancient Landmarks. In the words of high authority, "to believe in Masonry and not to believe in resurrection would be an absurd anomaly, which could only be excused by the reflection that he who thus confounded his belief and his skepticism was so ignorant of the meaning of both terms as to have no rational foundation for his knowledge of either."

The Masonic rule of life for the Individual, who is not only responsible for himself but has in trust the good name of the order, is Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice, those strong safeguards against the penalties of excess and supports amid the vicissitudes of fortune. The law of Association is Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. These words are familiar to us all. The emphasis which the Ancient Constitutions lay upon the qualities for which they stand, reveals one great reason for the persistence of the Order, one secret of its prosperity and of the estimation in which it is held among men, for it tells us that those qualities which unfailingly command respect an I admiration have always characterized it. In religion Masonry is truly catholic, and in citizenship it knows no politics. I would like to quote a little on these two subjects from the "Charges approved in 1722" which "have always been held in the highest veneration by the Fraternity, as embodying the most important points of the ancient written as well as unwritten Law of Masonry."

1. Concerning God and Religion.

A Mason is obliged by his tenure to obey the moral law, and if he rightly understands the art he will never be a stupid atheist nor an irreligions libertine. But though :n ancient times Masons were charged in every country to be of the religion of that country or nation whatever it was, yet it is now thought expedient, only to oblige them to that religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular opinions to themselves; that is, to be good men and true, men of honour and honesty by whatever denominations or persuasions they may be distinguished, whereby Masonry becomes a center of union and the means of conciliating true friendship among persons that have remained at a perpetual distance.

2. Of the Civil Magistrate, Supreme or Subordinate.

A Mason is a peacable subject to the civil powers, wherever he resides or works and is never to be concerned in plots and conspiracies against the peace and welfare of the nation, for as Masonry has always been injured by war, bloodshed and confusion, so ancient kings and princes have been much disposed to encourage the craftsmen, because of their peaceableness and loyalty, whereby they practically answered the cavils of their adversaries and promoted the honour of the Fraternity, who ever flourished in times of peace.

Masons meet as brothers. No "private quarrel or personal pique" should gain admission to the Lodge or be remembered there, "far less any difference about religion or politics, Masons being of the catholic religion above mentioned and resolved against politics as what never yet conduced to the welfare of the Lodge nor ever will.

Masons meet on the same level of manhood Masonry honors no man for his worldly estate or condition. But on the other hand no man is bereft of the honors which are justly due him because he becomes a Mason. Rather they are enhanced. So we are taught that outside of the Lodge we ought to have that con sideration to a brother which would be his due were he not a Mason. "Tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, honor to whom honor."

The Masonic conceptions of life is the broadest possible. Recognizing and promoting all that contributes to pleasure, happiness and well being, it also pays due attention to the more serious side of life, reminding us of the transient character of material things and bearing witness to the enduring value of those virtues which of all human acquisitions can alone be carrried hence.

The Masonic point of view is essentially spiritual. From it life is seen to be better than anything earthly standards measure. The craft does not undervalue things. It feels that seeing their purpose and their meaning they may be used freely within the bounds of rational morality. For we know that everything has not only its present but its future bearing. This world and the one beyond exist, not in antagonistic separation but as component parts of one grand whole. Present and future to our view are closely linked. We understand that we are working amid things that perish and that our proudest monuments must decay, but we give to our work our best, because we know that those who come after us, reading our message will gain inspiration from it, and that also the faithful work we are doing now is entering into that "Spiritual House, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." We seek to apply the principles of Operative Masonry to the inner life, testing all things by the square the level and the plumb, that we may cultivate those higher sentiments without which our labor is in vain and joy becomes a mockery. For " we live in deeds, not years; in feelings not in figures on the dial. We should count time by heart throbs as they beat for God, for man, for duty. He most lives who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best. Life is but a means unto an end. Beginning means end of all things — God."

Thus is briefly, imperfectly described the Character of a Master Mason. You will agree with me that he who in this character is first to "his own self true," he "cannot then be false to any man."


From Proceedings, Page 1920-319:

Most Worshipful Grand Master, Worshipful Master, and Brethren:

Without preliminaries, except to congratulate you most heartily upon your anniversary and to thank you for the privilege of being present on this occasion, I shall plunge into the midst of the subject I have in mind. I am going to write it clown, because there is so much to be said of deep interest that I am afraid that in the few minutes I have at my disposal I shall leave out something vital unless I marshal my words with care. In speaking as I shall I shall be indulging myself, believing, however, that you also will find interest in a subject which has powerfully attracted me. For it is important that we should not only know what we are as Masons, what we have to be, and what we have to do in the places where we live and move and have our being, but that the horizon of our hope should be widened and our consciousness of a world-task deepened by a knowledge of our heritage from the past and of the rock from which we, as Masons, have been hewn.

The one subject which I would most like to study deeply, because it is mysteriously interwoven with the whole history of mankind, is the history of Freemasonry. I know little about it as yet, having but barely scratched the surface, but enough has come to me to convince me that there is a mine of priceless treasure to be explored and a multitude of essentially wilful errors to be corrected. Therefore it is with righteous confidence that I issue whatever challenge may be involved in what I am about to say.

Bear in mind that I am to speak chiefly of Operative as distinguished from Speculative Masonry, with the particular purpose of indicating how Operative Masonry, the inner moral purpose of which, expressed in the things it did, and to express which it did them, was not brought to a conclusion by the transformation into Speculative Masonry, but in the Speculative form of the Art, was lifted to a higher plane and given a broader field for the pursuit of its ideals in a new era of society which no longer needed the things Masonry had been doing, but more sorely than ever needed the thing which Masonry was in its inner self.

The past of Masonry, except as its traditions have been handed down and are known to us who are Masons, is very difficult to investigate. The Craft has never published itself. It has done its work, not even seeking to be known, by its fruits, satisfied to do its work, which has always been ultimately for the uplift of mankind. But much has been written about it. The historian Hallam (History of the Middle Ages, Ch. IX. note) says, "The curious subject of Freemasonry has unfortunately been treated only by panegyrists or calumniators, both equally mendacious." He alludes also to the persecutions which Masons have undergone and will undergo in the future, the first of which in England was in 1425, when Masonic Chapters were forbidden to meet because they had fixed the prices of their own labor.

There are four views of Masonry.

  1. That of the sober historian like Hallani, whose profound respect for the Craft is indicated by his remark that "Masons were never legally incorporated like other traders, their bond of union being stronger than any charter."'
  2. That of a writer in Chambers' Encyclopedia, who says "Modern, or so-called speculative Masonry, is an innocent mystification, unconnected either with the building craft or with architecture (and) . . . the deep symbolical meaning supposed to be couched under the jargon of the Masonic fraternity is probably as apochryphal as the dangers of Masonry to government and society." (See end of article.)
  3. That of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy (See Catholic Cyclopedia, Art. Masonry) which in itself is a most interesting and illuminating study, and which denounces Masonry as atheistic and revolutionary, the parent of all anarchistic tendencies and having for its ultimate aim the destruction of all religion and all government, and
  4. That of the writer in the American Supplement to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Art. Freemasons, who says,"Freemasonry has been cherished and perpetuated by a devoted brotherhood through centuries. Established for the purpose of fraternal deeds of charity and benevolence, it has spread in various forms over the whole earth, and it has seconded the Christian religion in inculcating morality and the worship of the one true God, whose name it has sacredly preserved." Which is the reverent and essentially the just opinion, concisely expressed.

There have been many among Masons who have undertaken to write the history of the Institution. Among the majority of those of recent date it is the custom not only to classify as mythical and foolish the traditions of the Order which have come down from remote antiquity, but to cast such serious doubt upon important; details of the medieval history of the Craft as is necessary to support their claim that Freemasonry for all practical purposes began with the establishment of the Grand Lodge of England in the year 1717, which conclusion is warmly welcomed and applauded by the supporters of the Roman papacy.

From this position arid much that goes with it, I, perhaps presumptuously, dissent, and I will give my reason. The seeker after truth is not necessarily an iconoclast, nor should he imagine that he should as a matter of course pursue iconoclastic methods. The thing which casts suspicion upon the iconoclasm which has dominated Masonic research to what, to my mind, is an almost fatal extent, is the source from which its impulse has been derived.

The devil, no less than he, the arch enemy of mankind, sowed, a matter of a century ago, a noxious seed. It developed a tree which overshadowed many lands. Its flowers fascinated the minds of many. But its fruit proved utterly poisonous, and destructive to all who ate it. I refer to the German historical method, which was to discredit all tradition, and hence to undermine the influence of all that rested upon tradition or derived its inspiration from it. The earliest manifestation of this historical skepticism of which I have knowledge was the effort of Niehbuhr to prove that the writings of Homer were in no sense based on history, but were purely mythical and symbolic, that the fated city of Troy had no existence outside of poetic imagination. But Dr. Schliemann discovered the ruins of Troy and rehabilitated the tradition in its essential features. Today relief is seen from our housing difficulties in the adoption of the simple methods of construction employed at Troy, and which may be studied among the ancient ruins now uncovered after so many centuries.

The German method was applied to the Bible in what is called the Higher Criticism, to religious history, to, in fact, all that men revered, and the faith of many was destroyed, until the true character of the modern German mind and the ultimate aim of its subtle deceptions was revealed by the war and the tree was known by its fruit.

Now, because practically all of the Masonic historians who have come to be recognized as authorities have been Germans, I discredit the destructive conclusions at which many have arrived, and I turn with a strong measure of confidence to the traditions of the Craft, believing that unprejudiced study and adequate research will vindicate them, as so many others have been vindicated and reestablished.

There have indeed been credulous Masonic writers, but it seems to me that the skeptics are open to the suspicion of credulity in the interests of their case. For instance, if we can claim no greater antiquity for the Masonic institution as we know it than the advent of the Grand Lodge in 1717, and if its "real founders," as a supposed authority states, "were Elias Ashmole and some of his literary friends, who amused themselves by devising a set of symbols, if its Lodges were few in number and inferior in quality in 1717 as Rome claims, how can we account for the facts that in 1721 or in four short years many of the Royal Society and of the nobility had joined it and its Grand Master was Prince John, Duke of (Montague. How can we explain the facts that in twenty short years it had spread to Prance, to Sweden, to Russia, to Belgium, to Holland, to Germany, to Switzerland, to Italy, to Portugal, to Spain, and to our own Boston, Massachusetts, and that on April 23, 1738, Pope Gregory XII issued his bull condemning the Institution and excommunicating all Catholics who should become its members. Such growth in an age of national antagonisms and perpetual wars, of slow and difficult transportation and communication, is incomprehensible to me save on the premise of a foundation broad and deep, of a preexistent purpose reasserted under the impulse of a new and broader inspiration. I can imagine the Pope assaulting Masonry as he.did only because he recognized in it an ancient enemy confronting him in more powerful form than ever. So I can view the inauguration of Speculative Masonry not as the birth of something new, but simply the opening of a new era in the life of an ancient and continuous institution, and a mighty social force rising to new needs by the adoption of methods required by changed conditions. I can see real, if symbolic, truth in the legends of the Craft which have come from remote antiquity; I can see our Brethren an active force in ancient history; 1 can see them identified with Christianity from its early days and working with it for the regeneration of a corrupted world; I can see them possessing the exclusive right of erecting all religious buildings and monuments by diploma from the Pope and free from the payment of all taxes, from which their title of Freemasons was derived; I can see them in the years of preparation for their great work, when the land was torn with strife and tumult, taking refuge in the monasteries, which thus became great schools of architecture and sent forth men who earned great names to do their work; I can see Masonry going to England as early as the Roman occupation, there to abide; I see it reorganized by King Athelstan in 925 with the city of York as the seat of its Grand Mastership, with kings or the highest dignitaries of Church and State as its Grand Masters. And so it lived and worked with honor until the year 1000 had passed when men expected the world to come to an end. Then, when the world dared look about itself with confidence again and a new era of society took its rise, Operative Masonry was summoned to its monumental and crowning task in the building of the Gothic cathedrals.

The appearance of the Gothic style of architecture in all parts of Europe at the same time can be accounted for only by the previous preparation and immediate agency of the Masonic Fraternity, who first developed the application of their ideas to architecture and then immortalized them in their gigantic labors, preserving the secret of their art as the heritage of the Craft, whose art was called the royal one. It was a style new, entrancing, compelling devotion, achieving the seemingly impossible. The central idea of the builders was to embody divine truth in architectural forms, so that while the churches still served their purpose as places of worship they also, in a many sided symbolism, bore witness to the sublimity of God. The immensity of the buildings awoke the vision of the ineffable greatness of Deity. The spontaneity of the art symbolized faith in him, which is free and natural. The lofty columns, pillars, and spires pointed to heaven, whither faith aspires, the veiling of the whole edifice in wonderful ornaments and statues taught that God is hidden in the universe in endless variety. The principal form of the ornaments was the rose, the idea of which pervaded each minute part. It was the symbol of life, and the cross within the rose was the symbol of God. "The building was the work of centuries. The plan devised by one man required generations to complete, but devoted men of equal skill, with genuine self-denial, and freedom from all desire to improve, followed the plan laid down, and each one ambitious for his work and not for a name they have almost all remained entirely unknown.

Operative Masonry loved the church and religion, as needs not be said, but it was hostile to the Papacy, and despised its shams, as witnessed by numerous ornaments in the cathedrals which cast contempt upon the Roman hierarchy, such as those which depict Popes in hell, and many others of which I would like to speak. That the Craft was one of the influences which brought about the Reformation there is no doubt, which is undoubtedly the source of the hostility of the Papacy toward Masonry and all its concerns. Of the Masonic marks found in the cathedrals, a subject of intense interest, I cannot at this time speak. With the decline of Gothic architecture the Craft began slowly to disintegrate. Men of standing who were not Masons were admitted to membership and were known as "Accepted" Masons as distinguished from Free or Operative Masons. The great fire in London in 1666 revived the interest in building and the Craft responded, although there were but four Lodges in the city at the time. In 1703, the Lodge of St. Paul, having completed the cathedral of that name, and realizing that the decline of Operative Masonry was inevitable, but desiring to preserve the more essential moral and social features of the Institution, resolved that "men of all professions should be admitted into the Fraternity, provided they were regularly approved and initiated." Thus what we call "Speculative Masonry" was born and the moral and spiritual application of the rules of building were to occupy the minds of the Craftsmen, "who were, in place of buildings of stone, to erect temples of the heart and mind, to be conducted in wisdom, supported in strength and adorned in beauty," the spiritual building, that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, and it was to be their mission to disseminate the spirit of brotherly love, relief, and truth among men and make these virtues by their influence and example dominant in the human heart.

However remarkable Operative Masonry was for what it did, it was more notable for what it was, and for what it demanded from itself. Always compelling just recompense for its labors, and always protecting its employers from undue exactions, it was more than a body of wage-earners or men who sought means of livelihood. Never seekers after wealth, its members were imbued with the spirit of service and their ideal was the uplift of mankind. It was a devotion seldom equalled, never surpassed in human annals.

The age of the cathedrals was formative in the most important sense. Then the foundations of modern society were laid. Then, after centuries of darkness and confusion, the new peoples which had come into being were beginning to find themselves. The greatest need was a common purpose, a recognized object of devotion, and a central faith. The Gothic Cathedral did more than anything else to satisfy this need enduringly in concrete form. The structure was an open book, impressing its message upon the simplest minds by means of its mystic symbols. That it was greater than the religious expression of its own age, its adaptation to the needs of succeeding and changing ages bears witness. That it was not an instrumentality of Rome is shown by the Roman and Italian opposition it encountered. Thus, ever pointing upward, it won a place in the universal heart is shown by the rage which swept the world at the attempted destruction of the cathedrals of Prance by Germany.

Thus, after centuries of preparation, Operative Masonry bore its witness and did its monumental work.

Another age of new alignment has come, and we are of the Masons of today. The problems of today, the cleavages of the present time, have been for two hundred years in process of development, the same period which has marked the life of Masonry in its Speculative aspect. May we not say that as the evil has grown the antidote has also been in preparation?

For if a recognized ideal, a common object of devotion, an accepted faith is the only thing which will unify the conflicting forces of today, we have only to turn to Masonry to find the effective means thereto in its unselfish and unswerving purpose to further the welfare of mankind. And we have only to think for ourselves a moment to realize the profound effect that will be produced in this world where hatred and oppression are growing apace and violence and corruption are more and more recognized as the only remedies, if the millions of just and upright Masons will sincerely practice, as their means of success in life, those virtues of temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice, ornamented by brotherly love, relief, and truth, as they are bound to practice them by their profession.

And, dwelling with consecrated purpose on these things, we shall realize that, although the siren call of excess be insistent and the gate of self-government seem strait, we shall know that there is no sirrer means to a happy life or to the immortality which will fulfill the hopes with which we scan the realm beyond the grave, than the way in which we are taught to meet, act, and part as Masons.

That you, my Brothers, and all future members of your Lodge may ever thus meet, act, and part is my earnest prayer. And once more I say, So mote it be.

Distinguished Brothers