Character, Claims And Practical Workings Of Freemasonry (1869)
by Charles G. Finney
FREEMASONRY IS A FALSE RELIGION
Some Freemasons claim that Freemasonry is a saving institution, and that it is true religion. Others hold a different opinion, claiming that it is the handmaid of religion, a system of refined morality. Others still are free to admit that it is only a mutual aid or mutual insurance society. This discrepancy of views among them is very striking, as every one knows who has been in the habit of reading sermons, lectures, and orations on Masonry published by themselves. in this article I propose to inquire, first, Do their standard authorities claim that Masonry is identical with true religion? secondly, Does Freemasonry itself claim to be true religion? and, thirdly, Are these claims valid?
1. Do their standard authorities claim that Masonry is true religion?
I quote Salem Town. I read his work some forty years ago. The book professes on its title-page to be "A System of Speculative Masonry, exhibited in a course of lectures before the Grand Chapter of the State of New York, at their annual meetings in the City of Albany." It was reduced to a regular system by their special request, and recommended to the public by them as a system of Freemasonry. It is also recommended by nine grand officers, in whose presence the lectures were delivered; by another who had examined them; and by "the Hon. DeWitt Clinton, General Grand High Priest of the General Grand Chapter of the United States of America, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, etc., etc.
The book was extensively patronized and subscribed for by Freemasons throughout the country, and has always been considered by the fraternity as a standard authority. From this author I quote as follows:
"The principles of Freemasonry have the same coeternal and unshaken foundations, contain and inculcate the same truths in substance, and propose the same ultimate end, as the doctrines of Christianity."--P. 53. Again he says: "The same system of faith and the same practical duties taught by revelation are contained in and required by the Masonic institution."--P. 174. "Speculative Masonry combines those great and fundamental principles which constitute the very essence of the Christian system."--P. 37. "It is no secret that there is not a duty enjoined nor a virtue required in the volume of inspiration but what is found in and taught by Speculative Freemasonry." "The characteristic principles are such as embrace the whole subject-matter of divine economy." P. 31.
Again he says: "As the Word in the first verse of St. John constitutes both the foundation, the subject-matter, and the great ultimate end of the Christian economy, so does the same Word, in all its relations to man, time, and eternity, constitute the very spirit and essence of Speculative Freemasonry."--P. 155. Again, referring to the promise of the Messiah, he says: "The same precious promise is the great corner-stone in the edifice of Speculative Freemasonry."--P. 171. Again he says: "The Jewish order of priesthood from Aaron to Zacharias, and even till the coming of Messias, was in confirmation of the great event, which issued in the redemption of man. All pointed to the eternal priesthood of the Son of God, who by his own blood made atonement for sin, and consecrated the way to the Holy of holies. This constitutes the great and ultimate point of Masonic research."--P. 121.
"That a knowledge of the divine Word, or Logos, should have been the object of so much religious research from time immemorial adds not a little to the honor of Speculative Freemasonry."--P. 151.
Again he says: "It is a great truth, and weighty as eternity, that the present and everlasting well-being of mankind is solely and ultimately intended." --P. 170. This he says of Freemasonry. But again he says: "Speculative Masonry, according to present acceptation, has an ultimate reference to that spiritual building erected by virtue in the heart, and summarily implies the arrangement and perfection of those holy and sublime principles by which the soul is fitted for a meet temple of God in a world of immortality." --P. 63. Does not Freemasonry profess to be a saving religion?
Again he says: "In advancing to the fourth degree, the good man is greatly encouraged to persevere in the ways of well-doing even to the end. He has a name which no man knoweth save him that receiveth it. If, therefore, he be rejected and cast forth among the rubbish of the world, he knows full well that the great Master-builder of the universe, having chosen and prepared him a lively stone in that spiritual building in the heavens, will bring him forth in triumph, while shouting grace, grace to the Divine Redeemer. Then the Freemason is assured of his election and final salvation. Hence, opens the fifth degree, where he discovers his election to, and his glorified station in, the kingdom of his Father." Then again he is assured of his "election and glorified station in the kingdom of his Father." If this is not claiming for Freemasonry a saving power what is? Salem Town is the great light in Freemasonry, as the title and history of his work imports. Does he not claim that Freemasonry is a saving religion? To be sure he does, or no words can assert such a claim. "With these views, the sixth degree is conferred, where the riches of divine grace are opened in boundless prospect." "Then he beholds in the eighth degree, that all the heavenly sojourners will be admitted within the veil of God's presence, where they will become kings and priests before the throne of his glory forever and ever."--Pp. 79-81. By the "heavenly sojourners," he certainly means Freemasons. Observe what he asserts of them: "Then he (the Freemason) beholds in the eighth degree that all the heavenly sojourners will be admitted within the veil of God's presence, where they will become kings and priests before the throne of his glory forever and ever." This clenches the claim. The maxims of wisdom are gradually unfolded, till the whole duty of man is clearly. and persuasively exhibited to the mind."--P. 184.
Again: "Principles and duties which lie at the foundation of the Masonic system,. and are solemnly enjoined upon every brother; whoever, therefore, shall conscientiously discharge them in the fear of God fulfills the whole duty of man."--P. 48. Then he claims for Freemasonry all that is or can be claimed for the law or Gospel of God.
Again he says: "The Divine Being views no moral character in a man with greater complacency than his who in heart strictly conforms to Masonic requirements." "The more prominent features of a true Masonic character are literally marked with the highest beauties."--Pp. 33, 185. Then again he represents Masonry as forming as holy a character in man as the Gospel does or can.
Again he says that "every good Mason is of necessity truly and emphatically a Christian."--P. 37. Then he represents Freemasonry as identical with Christianity. A true Mason must necessarily be a true Christian. That Masonry professes to conduct its disciples to heaven we find affirmed by Town, in the following language. Of the inducements to practice the precepts of Masonry he says: "They are found in that eternal weight of glory, that crown of joy and rejoicing laid up for the faithful in a future world."--P. 188.
By the faithful here he means faithful Freemasons. This same writer claims that Solomon organized the institution by inspiration from God. On page 187, he says: "So Masonry was transmitted from Enoch, through Noah, Abraham, Moses, and their successors, till Solomon, being inspired of God, established a regular form of administration."
This will suffice for the purpose of showing what is claimed for Masonry by their standard authorities. The same in substance might be quoted from various other standard writers. I have made these quotations from Elder Stearns' book, not finding in my library a copy of Town. In another place I shall find it convenient to quote sundry others of their standard writers, who, while they claim it to be a religion, do not consider it the Christian religion.
This conducts us (2) to the second inquiry: What does Freemasonry claim for itself?
And here I might quote from almost any of the Masonic degrees to show that this claim is put forth in almost every part of the whole institution. As Town claims for it, so it claims for itself, a power to conduct its disciples to heaven. Any one who will take pains to read Bernard's "Light on Masonry" through, will be satisfied that Town claims for the institution no more than it claims for itself.
I beg of all who feel any interest in this subject to get and read Bernard on Masonry; to read it through, and see if Town has not rightly represented the claims of Freemasonry. I deny, observe, that he has rightly represented its principles, and that which it really requires of Masons. That he has misrepresented Masonic law I insist. But in respect to its promises of heaven as a reward for being good Freemasons he has not misrepresented it. It claims to be a saving institution. This certainly will appear to any person who will take the pains to examine its teachings and its claims as revealed in "Light on Masonry." Mr. Town has grossly misrepresented Masonic Law and morality as we have seen in examining its claims to benevolence, and in scrutinizing their oaths and their profane use of Scripture. But that Mr. Town has not misrepresented the claims of Masonry to be a saving religion has been abundantly shown in these pages by quotations from "Light on Masonry." I might quote many pages from the body of Masonry where it teaches the candidates that the observance of Masonic law, principles and usages will secure his salvation. The Gospel professes no more than this, that those who obey it shall be saved. Surely Masonry claims to be a saving religion just as much as the Gospel of Christ does.
Just take the following from the degree of "The Knights of the East and West." "Light on Masonry," first edition, p. 217, already quoted in another place.
In explaining the ceremony of sounding the seventh trumpet, and conducting the candidate to the vacant canopy, we find the following: "This canopy it will be recollected is at the right side of the All Puissant who represents JEHOVAH. The sounding of the seventh trumpet, and the conducting of the candidate to the vacant canopy, is a representation of the end of the world, and the glorification of all true Masons at the right hand of God, having passed through the trials of Freemasonry and washed their robes in their own blood." If Freemasonry does not claim to be a saving religion how can such a claim be made? The compiler adds: "If this is not Antichrist what is?" But I must beg of the reader to examine the books that reveal Masonry for themselves, since to quote the claims of Masonry on this head further than I have done, would not only be useless and tiresome, but would swell this work too much.
This brings me (3) to the third inquiry: Are the claims that Masonry is a true and saving religion valid?
To this question I reply that it is utterly false; and in this respect Freemasonry is a fatal delusion. From the quotations that I have made from Town, it will be perceived that he represents Freemasonry as identical with Christianity.
Mr. Preston is another of their standard writers. I quote the following note from Stearns on Masonry, p. 28: "Mr. Preston's book, entitled 'Illustrations of Masonry,' has been extensively patronized by the fraternity as a standard work. The copy before me is the first American, from the tenth London edition." Mr. Preston says in his book, p. 30: "The universal principles of the art unite in one indissoluble bond of affection men of the most opposite tenets, of the most distant countries, and of the most contradictory opinions." Again, p. 125, he says: "Our celebrated annotator has taken no notice of Masons having the art of working miracles, and foresaying things to come. But this was certainly not the least important of their doctrines. Hence, astrology was admitted as one of the arts which they taught, and the study of it warmly recommended."
"This study became, in the course of time, a regular science." . So here we learn that Masons formerly claimed the power of working miracles. I quote again from Bradley, p. 8. He says: "We leave every member to choose and support those principles of religion and those forms of government which appear consistent to his views." In the work of Preston, p. 51, we have the following: "As a Mason, you are to study the moral law as contained in the sacred code, the Bible; and in countries where that book is not known, whatever is understood to contain the will or law of God." O, then, in every country Masons are to embrace the prevalent religion, whatever it may be, and accept whatever is claimed in any country where they may reside, to be the law and will of God. But is this Christianity, or consistent with it? It is well known and admitted that Masonry claims to have descended from the earliest ages, and that the institution has existed in all countries and under all religions; and that the ancient philosophers of Greece and Rome, the astrologers and soothsayers, and the great men of all heathen nations have belonged to that fraternity.
It is also well known that at this time there are multitudes of Jews, Mohammedans, and skeptics of every grade belonging to the institution. I do not know that this is denied by any intelligent Mason. Now, if this is so, how can Freemasonry be the true religion, or at all consistent with it? Multitudes of Universalists and Unitarians, and of errorists of every grade, are Freemasons; and yet Freemasonry itself claims to save its disciples, to conduct them to heaven!
The third question proposed for discussion in my last number is: Are the claims of Masonry to be a true and saving institution valid? To this I answer, No. This will appear if we consider, first, that the morality which it inculcates is not the morality of the law and Gospel of God. The law and the Gospel, as I have shown in a former number, lay down the same rule of life. And Christ, in commenting upon the true meaning and spirit of the law, says: "If ye love them that love you, what thank have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?" He requires us to love our enemies, and to pray for them, as truly as for our friends. In short, he requires universal benevolence; whereas Freemasonry requires no such thing. Its oaths, which are its law, simply require its members to be just to each other. I say just, for their boasted benevolence is simply the payment of a debt.
They do, indeed, promise to assist each other in distress, and to help each other's families, provided they fall into poverty. But on what condition do they promise this? Why, that a certain amount is to be paid into their treasury as a fund for this purpose. But this, surely, is not benevolence, but the simple payment of a debt, on the principle of mutual insurance.
This I have abundantly shown in a former number. Again, the motives presented in Freemasonry to secure the course of action to which they are pledged are by no means consistent with the law or the Gospel of God. In religion, and in true morality, everything depends on the motive or reason for the performance of an action. God accepts nothing that does not proceed from supreme love to Him and equal love to our fellow-men. Not merely to our brother Masons; but to our neighbor--that is, to all mankind. Whatever does not proceed from love and faith is sin, according to the teachings of the Bible. And by love, I say again, is meant the supreme love of God and the equal love of our neighbor.
But Masonry teaches no such morality as this. The motive urged by Masons is, to honor Masonry, to honor the institution, to honor each other. While they are pledged to assist each other in distress; to keep each other's secrets, even if they be crimes; and to aid each other whether right or wrong, so far as to extricate them from any difficulty in which they are involved; yet they never present the pure motives of the Gospel. They are pledged not to violate the chastity of a brother Mason's wife, sister, daughter, or mother; but they are not pledged by Masonry, as the law and Gospel of God require, to abstain from such conduct with any female whatever. But nothing short of universal benevolence, and universal morality, is acceptable to God.
But again: It has been shown that Masonry claims to be a saving institution; that this is claimed for it by the highest Masonic authorities; and that this claim is one set up by itself as well. But an examination of Freemasonry shows that it promises salvation upon entirely other conditions than those revealed in the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel nowhere inculcates the idea that any one can be saved by obedience to the law of God. "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified" is the uniform teaching of the Bible. Much less can any one be saved by conformity to Masonic law, which requires only a partial, and therefore a spurious, morality. The Bible teaches that all unconverted persons are in a state of sin, of total moral depravity, and consequent condemnation by the law of God; and that the conditions of salvation are repentance and a total renunciation of all sin, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and sanctification by the Holy Spirit. Now these are by no means the conditions upon which Freemasonry proposes to save its members. The teachings of Freemasonry upon this subject are summarily this: Obey Masonic law, and live.
Now, surely, whatever promises heaven to men upon other conditions than those proposed in the Gospel of Christ is a fatal delusion. And this Freemasons can not deny, for they profess to accept the Bible as true. Freemasonry lays no stress at all upon conversion to Christ by the Holy Spirit. It presents no means or motives to secure that result. The idea of being turned from sin to holiness, from a self-pleasing spirit to a supreme love of God, by the preaching of the Gospel, accompanied by the Holy Spirit, is not taught in Freemasonry.
It nowhere recognizes men as being justified by faith in Christ, as being sanctified by faith in Christ, and as being saved as the Gospel recognizes men as being saved.
Indeed, it is salvation by Masonry, and not salvation by the Gospel, that Masonry insists upon. It is another gospel, or presents entirely another method of salvation than that presented in the Gospel. How can it be pretended by those who admit that the Gospel is true that men can be saved by Freemasonry at all? If Freemasons are good men, it is not Freemasonry that has made them so; but the Gospel has made them so, in spite of Freemasonry. If they are anything more than self-righteous, it is because of the teachings of the Gospel; for certainly Freemasonry teaches a very different way of salvation from that which the Gospel reveals. But, again, the prayers recorded in Freemasonry, and used by them in their lodges, are not Christian prayers; that is, they are not prayers offered in the name of Christ.
But the Gospel teaches us that it is fundamental to acceptable prayer that it be offered in the name of Christ. Again, as we have seen in a former number, the teachings of Freemasonry are scandalously false; and their ceremonies are a mockery, and truly shocking to Christian feelings.
Again, Freemasonry is a system of gross hypocrisy. It professes to be a saving institution, and promises salvation to those who keep its oaths and conform to its ancient usages. It also professes to be entirely consistent with the Christian religion. And this it does while it embraces as good and acceptable Masons hundreds of thousands who abhor Christianity, and scoff at the Bible and everything that the Bible regards as sacred. In a Christian nation it professes to receive Christianity as a true religion; in Mohammedan countries it receives the Koran as teaching the true religion; in heathen countries it receives their sacred books as of as much authority as that which is claimed in Christian countries for the Bible. In short, Freemasonry in a pagan country is pagan, in a Mohammedan country it is Mohammedan, and in a Christian country it professes to be Christian; but in this profession it is not only grossly inconsistent, but intensely hypocritical.
Notwithstanding all the boasts that are made in its lower degrees of its being a true religion, if you will examine the matter through to the end, you will find that, as you ascend in the scale of degrees, the mask is gradually thrown off, until we come to the "Philosophical Lodge," in the degree of the "Knights Adepts of the Eagle or Sun;" in which, as will be seen, no concealment is longer attempted. I will make a short quotation from this degree, as any one may find it in "Light on Masonry."--P. 18.
"Requisitions to make a good Mason.--If you ask me what are the requisite qualities that a Mason must be possessed of to come to the center of truth, I answer you that you must crush the head of the serpent, ignorance. You must shake off the yoke of infant prejudice, concerning the mysteries of the reigning religion, which worship has been imaginary and only founded on the spirit of pride, which envies to command and be distinguished, and to be at the head of the vulgar in affecting an exterior purity, which characterizes a false piety joined to a desire of acquiring that which is not its own, and is always the subject of this exterior pride and unalterable source of many disorders; which, being joined to gluttonness, is the daughter of hypocrisy, and employs every matter to satisfy carnal desires, and raises to these predominant passions altars upon which she maintains without ceasing the light of iniquity, and sacrifices continually offerings to luxury, voluptuousness, hatred, envy, and perjury.
"Behold, my dear brother, what you must fight against and destroy before you can come to the knowledge of the true good and sovereign happiness! Behold this monster which you must conquer--a serpent which we detest as an idol that is adored by the idiot and vulgar under the name of religion!"-- See "Light on Masonry," pp. 270, 271. 8th edition.
Here, then, Masonry stands revealed, after all its previous pretensions to being a true religion, as the unalterable opponent of the reigning or Christian religion. That it claims to be a religion is indisputable; but that it is not the Christian religion is equally evident. Nay, it finally comes out flat-footed, and represents the reigning or Christian religion as a serpent which Masons detest, as an idol which is adored by the idiot and vulgar under the name of religion.
Now let professed Christians who are Freemasons examine this for themselves. Do not turn away from examination of this subject.
And here, before I close this article, I beg to be understood that I have no quarrel with individual Masons. It is with the system that I have to deal. The great mass of the fraternity are utterly deceived, as I was myself. Very few, comparatively, of the fraternity are at all acquainted with what is really taught in the higher degrees as they ascend from one to another. None of them know anything of these degrees any further than they have taken them, unless they have studied them in the books as they are revealed. I can not believe that Christian men will remain connected with this institution, if they will only examine it for themselves and look it through to the end. I know that young Masons, and those who have only taken the lower degrees, will be shocked at what I have just quoted from a higher degree. I was so myself when first I examined the higher degrees. But you will inquire how, and in what sense, are we who have only taken the lower degrees responsible for the oaths and teachings of the higher degrees, which we have not taken. In a future number I shall briefly answer this question. Most Freemasons, and many who have been Masters of lodges of the lower degrees, are really so ignorant of what Masonry as a whole is, that when they are told the simple truth respecting it, they really believe that what you tell them is a lie. I am receiving letters from this class of Freemasons, accusing me of lying and misrepresentation, which accusations I charitably ascribe to ignorance. To such I say, Wait, gentlemen, until you are better informed upon the subject, and you will hold a different opinion.
I have quoted from Salem Town showing that he claims that Solomon established the institution by divine authority--that Town claims for it all that is claimed for Christianity as a saving religion. I might show that others of their standard writers set up the same claim. Now I am unwilling to believe that these writers are hypocrites. It must be that they have been imposed upon as I was. They were ignorant of the origin of Freemasonry. Perhaps this was not strange, especially as regards Mr. Town; for until within the last half century this matter has not been searched to the bottom. But certainly there is now no excuse for the ignorant or dishonest assertions that are so often made by Freemasons. Such pretenses palmed off as they now often are, upon those whose occupation or other causes forbid their examination of the subject, ought to arouse the righteous indignation of every honest citizen. I say it ought to do so; yes, and it must do so, when we see our dear young men lured by false pretenses in crowds into this snare of Satan. They get drawn in and committed, and, as we see, are afraid to be convinced of their error and become uncandid and will not honestly examine the subject. They will shun the light when it is offered. Can men be saved in this state of mind?
THE ARGUMENT THAT GREAT AND GOOD MEN HAVE BEEN AND ARE FREEMASONS, EXAMINED
IT is the universal practice of Freemasons to claim as belonging to their fraternity a great many wise and good men.
As I have shown in a former number, Masonry itself claims to have been founded by Solomon, and to have been patronized by St. John. Their lodges are dedicated to St. John and Zerubbabel, as I have shown; and Solomon figures more or less prominently in a great number of their degrees. Now it has already been shown by their highest authorities that this claim of having been founded by Solomon and patronized by St. John is utterly without foundation. Strange to tell, while it claims to have always been one and identical, and that it never has been changed, still on the very face of the different degrees it is shown that the great majority of them are of recent origin. If, as their best historians assert, Speculative Freemasonry dates no further back than the eighteenth century, of course, the claim of Freemasons that their institution was established and patronized by inspired men can command no respect or confidence.
But, if this claim is false, what reason have we to have confidence in their assertions that so many great and good men of modern times were Freemasons. Investigation will prove that this claim is to a very great extent without foundation. It has been asserted here with the utmost confidence, over and over again, that Bishop McIlvaine was a Freemason. But having recently been written to on the subject, he replied that he never was a Freemason.
Again, it is no doubt true that many men have joined them, and, when they have taken a sufficient number of degrees to have the impression entirely removed from their minds that there is any secret in Freemasonry worth knowing, they have become disgusted with its shams, its hypocrisies, its falsehoods, its oaths and its ceremonies, its and its blasphemies; and they have paid no further attention to it.
Freemasons have paraded the fact that Gen. Washington was a Mason before the public. The following conclusion of a letter from him will speak for him, and show how little he had to do with Masonry. Before his death he warned the whole country to beware of secret societies. The letter alluded to is dated "Mt. Vernon, September 25, 1798." Here we have its conclusion. It needs no comment:
"I have little more to add than thanks for your wishes, and favorable sentiments, except to correct an error you have run into of my presiding over the English lodges in this country. The fact is I preside over none, nor have I been in one more than once or twice within the last thirty years. I believe, notwithstanding, that none of the lodges in this country are contaminated with the principles ascribed to the society of the Illuminate.
"Signed, GEORGE WASHINGTON."
I might quote numerous instances in which good men have at first hesitated, and finally refused to go any further in Masonry, and have threatened to expose the whole of it to the world. Whoever will read Elder Stearns' little books on Masonry will find examples of this.
But why should Freemasons lay so much stress on the fact that many good men have been Freemasons? It has always been the favorite method of supporting a bad institution to claim as its patrons the wise and good. This argument might have been used with great force, and doubtless was, in favor of idolatry in the time of Solomon and the prophets. Several of the kings of Israel were idolaters, as well as the queens and the royal family generally.
The great mass of the prophets, and religious teachers, and great men of the nation, lapsed into idolatry. Nearly all the learning, and wealth and influence of the whole nation could be appealed to as rejecting Christ. Those who received him were but a few fishermen, with some of the lowest of the people. Now what a powerful argument was this! If the argument of Masons be of any value, how overwhelming an argument must this have been against the claims of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Why the rejecters of Jesus could quote all the great men of the nation, and the pious men, and the wise men, as decidedly opposed to his claims! The same was true after his death and resurrection for a great while. The question would often arise: "Do any of the rulers believe on him?"
An institution is not to be judged by the conduct of a few of its members who might have been either worse or better than its principles. Christianity, e.g., is not to be judged by the conduct of particular professed Christians; but by its laws, its principles, by what it justifies and by what it condemns. Christianity condemns all iniquity. It abhors covering up iniquity. In the case of its greatest and most prominent professors, it exposes and denounces their sin, and never justifies
But Masonry, on the other hand, is a secret work of darkness. It requires its members to take an oath to cover up each other's sins. It requires them to swear, under the most awful penalties, that they will seek the condign punishment of every one who in any instance violates any point of their obligation. It, therefore, justifies the murder of those who betray its secrets.
Masons consistently justified the murder of Morgan, as everybody in this country knows who has paid any attention to the subject.
This is not inconsistent with their principles. Indeed, it is the very thing demanded, the very thing promised under oath.
But again: This same argument, by which Masons are attempting to sustain their institution, was always resorted to to sustain the practice of slaveholding.
Why, how many wise and good men, it was said, were slaveholders. The churches and ecclesiastical bodies at the North were full of charity in respect to them. They could not denounce slaveholding as a sin.
They would say that it was an evil; but for a long time they could not be persuaded to pronounce it a moral evil, a sin. And why? Why, because so many doctors of divinity were slaveholders and were defending the institution. Because a large portion of the church, of nearly every denomination, were involved in the abomination. "They are good men," it was said; "they are great men--we must be charitable."
And so, when this horrid civil war came on, these great and good men, that had sustained the institution of slavery, sustained and stimulated the war.
Many of them took up arms, and fought with desperation to sustain the institution. But what is thought now--at least throughout all the North, and throughout all the Christian world--of the great and good men who have done this thing? Who does not now admit that they were deluded? that they had anything but the Spirit of Christ? that they were in the hands of the Devil all along?
The fact is, this has always been the device of those who have sustained any system of wickedness. They have taken pains, in one way and another, to draw into their ranks men of reputation for wisdom and piety, men of high standing in Church and State. A great many of those who are claimed by Freemasons to be of their number never were Freemasons at all. Others were entrapped into it, and turned a "cold shoulder" upon it, and paid no more attention to it; but were ever after claimed as Freemasons.
But there are great multitudes of Freemasons who have taken some of the degrees, and have become heartily disgusted with it. But, knowing that Freemasons are under oath to persecute and even murder them if they publicly renounce it and expose its secrets; they remain quiet, say nothing about it, and go no further with it; but are still claimed as Freemasons. As soon as public sentiment is enough aroused to make them feel safe in doing what they regard as their solemn duty, great numbers of them will no doubt publicly renounce it. At present they are afraid to do so. They are afraid that their business will be ruined, their characters assailed, and their lives at least put in jeopardy.
But it should be understood that, while it may be true that there are many pious and wise men belonging to the Masonic fraternity, yet there are thousands of learned and pious men who have renounced it, and thousands more who have examined its claims, and who reject it as an imposture and as inconsistent either with Christianity or good government
It is sometimes said: "Those men that renounced Masonry in the days of Morgan are dead. There are now thousands of living witnesses. Why should we take the testimony of the dead instead of that of the living? The living we know; the dead we do not know."
To this I answer, first: There are thousands of renouncing Masons still living who reiterate their testimony on all proper occasions against the institution. Many of them we know, or may know; and they are not dead witnesses, but living. Now, if it was wickedness that led those men to renounce Freemasonry and publish its secrets, how is it that no instance has ever occurred in which a seceding Freemason has renounced and denounced his renunciation, and gone back into the ranks of Freemasons? I have never heard of such a case. It is well for the cause of truth that this question has come up again before the Masons that renounced the institution in the days of Morgan were all dead. It is well that hundreds and thousands of them are still alive, and are still living witnesses, bearing their steady and unflinching testimony against the institution.
But, again: The present living witnesses who testify in its behalf, let it be remembered, are interested witnesses. They still adhere to the institution. They are under oath not to speak against it, but in every way to support it. Of what value, then, is their testimony in its favor?
The fact is, we have their secrets published; and these books speak for themselves. Let the living or the dead say what they may, the truth is established that these books truly reveal Masonry; and by this revelation let the institution stand or fall.
If any thing can be established by human testimony, it is established that Bernard's "Light on Masonry" has revealed Masonry substantially as it is. Bernard is still living. He is an old man; but he has recently said: "What I have written I have written on this subject. I have nothing to add, and I have nothing to retract." And there are still hundreds and thousands of men who know that he has published the truth. How vain and frivolous, then, is the inquiry, "Why should we not take the testimony of living rather than of dead witnesses?" The prophets and apostles are dead. Why not take the testimony of living skeptics that we know? Some of them are learned and respectable men. Alas! if dead men are not to be believed!
MASONIC OATHS ARE UNLAWFUL AND VOID
Because, 1st, they are forbidden by Christ. Matt. v. 34-37. Whatever may be said of oaths administered by magistrates for governmental purposes, it can not be reasonably doubted that this teaching prohibits the taking of extrajudicial oaths. But Masonic oaths are extrajudicial.
2. Because they are awfully profane. "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." Exod. xx. 7. Certainly both the administering and taking of these oaths are taking the name of God in vain.
3. Because they swear to do unlawful things.
1. We have seen that all Masons swear to conceal all the secrets of Masonry that may be communicated to them. This is rash, and contrary to Lev. v. 4, 5: "Or if a soul swear pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these. And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing." The sin must be confessed
2. They swear to conceal each other's crimes. This we have seen. This is a conspiracy against all good government in Church and State. Is not this wicked ?
3. They swear to deliver a brother Royal Arch Mason out of any difficulty and to espouse his cause so far as to extricate him from the same, if in their power, whether he be right or wrong. Is not this wicked? How this oath must lead to the defeat of the execution of law. It has defeated the ends of justice often, as every intelligent Mason may and ought to know.
4. They swear to give political preferment to a Mason, because he is a Mason, over one of equal qualifications, who is not a Mason. This is swearing to be partial. But is it not wicked to be partial? Can an oath to be partial make partiality a virtue? By swearing to do wrong can a man make it his duty, and, therefore, right to do wrong? No indeed.
5. They swear to persecute all who violate Masonic oaths as long as they live--to ruin their reputation, derange their business, and, if they go from place to place, to follow them with representations of being worthless vagabonds. Is not this a promise under oath to do wickedly? Suppose those who violate Masonic oaths are enemies of Masonry, as well they may be, and as they ought to be, is it right to seek, in any way, to ruin them? Is this loving an enemy? Is not such persecution forbidden by every precept of both law and Gospel? This course is, in accordance with the tradition of the elders, strongly denounced by Christ. Matt. v. 33: "Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths?" But it is in direct opposition to his requirement. Matt. v 44: "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
6. They swear to seek the death or condign punishment of all who violate Masonic oaths. This we have seen! But is not this abominable wickedness? Is it not murder in intention, and, therefore, really murder, whether they succeed or not? To be sure it is.
7. They swear to seek revenge and to take vengeance on those who violate Masonic oaths, and to avenge the treason, as they call it, by the death of the traitor. This, also, we have seen. Now, is not this the perfection of wickedness? Ought not Masons to be put under bonds to keep the peace?
8. They swear to support Freemasonry, an institution, as we have seen, that ought not to exist in any community. These are only some of the reasons for pronouncing the oaths of Freemasonry utterly unlawful.
MASONIC OATHS ARE NULL AND VOID.
1. Because they are obtained by fraud. The candidate for the first degree is assured by the master, in the most solemn manner, when the candidate is on his knees and about to take the oath, there is nothing in it inconsistent with his duty either to God or to man. But he finds, after taking and reflecting upon it, that he has made promises inconsistent with his duty both to God and man. This, of itself, makes the oath null.
2. They are void because they pledge the candidate to sin against God and man. 1st. By swearing to commit a sin, a man can not make it his duty, and, therefore, right to do wrong. He can not make sin holiness, or crime a virtue, by taking an oath to do it. Forty men took an oath that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. Were they under moral obligation, therefore, to kill him? If they were, it was their duty. If it was their duty, their killing him would have been a holy act. Who does not see the absurdity of this? To keep a wicked promise or oath is only adding sin to sin. But it maybe said that we are required to perform our vows. Yes, when we vow to do what is right, but not when we vow to do what is wrong. This is not only the doctrine of the Bible, but, also, of all the able writers on moral philosophy. It is, indeed, a self-evident truth. An oath to do wrong is sin. To perform it is adding sin to sin. All oaths to do wrong, or to refrain from doing right, are null. '
ALL FREEMASONS OUGHT TO RENOUNCE THEIR MASONIC OATHS
1. Because they are profane and wicked.
2. Because they ought to repent the taking of them.
3. But repentance .consists in heart-renunciation of them. A man can not repent of, without forsaking them.
4. If not repented of and forsaken, i.e., renounced, the sin can not be forgiven.
5. Heart-renunciation must produce life-renunciation of them.
6. A sin is not repented of while it is concealed and not confessed to those who have been injured by it.
7. A sin against society or against individuals can not be forgiven, when just confession and restitution are withheld.
8. Masonic oaths are a conspiracy against God and man, and are not repented of while adhered to.
9. They are adhered to, while heart-renunciation is withheld.
10. Refusing to renounce is adherence.
11. Adherence makes them partakers of the crimes of Freemasons--"partakers of other men's sins." Because, to adhere is to justify their oaths and the keeping and fulfillment of them. But to justify their crimes, the murder of Morgan for example, is to partake of the guilt of his murderers.
12. While a Mason adheres his word can not be credited on questions relating to the secrets of Masonry.
13. Nor can his testimony be believed against one who has violated Masonic oaths, because he is sworn to ruin his reputation, and to represent him as a worthless vagabond.
14. An adhering Mason is a dangerous man in society. If he does as he is sworn to do, is he not a dangerous man? If he does not do what he is sworn to do, and yet does not renounce his oath, he is a dangerous man, because he violates an oath, the obligation of which he acknowledges. Is not he a dangerous man who disregards the solemnity of an oath? But, perhaps, he is convinced that he ought not to do what he has sworn to do, and, therefore, does not do it, but still he adheres in the sense that he will not confess and renounce the sinfulness of the obligation. Is not that a dangerous man who sees the wrong of an oath and will not renounce it.
15. While he adheres to his Masonic oaths, he ought not to be trusted with the office of a magistrate. How should he, if he means to perform his Masonic vows?
16. Nor, while he adheres, should he be trusted with the office of sheriff, marshal, or constable. If he intends to perform his Masonic vows, it is madness to trust him with an office in Church or State.
17. If and while he adheres, he ought not to be received as a witness or juror when a Freemason is a party. This has been ruled as law.
18. Nor should he have power to appoint officers, as he will surely unduly favor Masons.
19. Nor should he have the control of funds and the bestowment of governmental patronage. This he will certainly abuse, if he keeps and performs his vows.
20. Nor should he be intrusted with the pardoning power. I wish it could be known in how many instances Freemasons have been pardoned and turned loose upon the public by governors and presidents who were Freemasons, and who were sworn to deliver them from any difficulty, whether right or wrong.
21. Nor should he be a post-master, as he will surely abuse his office to favor Masonry, and to persecute anti-Masons, if he keeps his vows. Of this we are having abundant proof.
22. While he adheres, his testimony against renouncing Masons ought not to be credited, because he has sworn to ruin their reputation and their business, and, until their death, to represent them to others as worthless vagabonds. Is a man's testimony against another worthy of credit, when he is thus sworn to hold him up to the world? We have no right to receive such testimony. It is the greatest injustice to credit the testimony of one who has taken and adheres to this oath, if he testifies against a renouncing Mason.
23. Those Masons who have taken and adhere to the vow to thus persecute, and the vow to avenge the treason of violating Masonic oaths by the death of the traitor, should be held to bail to keep the peace. If they intend to perform their vows, they are eminently dangerous persons, and should be imprisoned or held to bail. Let no one say that this is harsh. Indeed, it is not. It is only common sense and common justice. Only remember what they are sworn to do, and that they intend to perform their vows, and then tell me is it safe and just that such men should be at large, and not even be put under bonds not to fulfill their vows. We must take the grounds either that they will not fulfill their vows, or we must hold that they ought not to be at large without adequate bail. I am aware that some will say that this is a harsh and extreme conclusion. But pray let me ask do you not feel and say this because you do not believe that there is real danger of Freemasons doing what they have sworn to do? If they have sworn as Bernard and others represent, and if they really intend to fulfill their vows, and if you admit this, is my conclusion harsh and extreme? When no occasion arises, calling for the fulfillment of their horrid oaths, they appear to be harmless and even good citizens. But let any man read the history of the abduction and murder of Morgan, as found in "Light on Masonry," and see how many men were engaged in it. Let him understand how this horrid murder was justified by the Grand Lodge, and by many respectable citizens. Let him ponder the fact that the men engaged in that affair were accounted respectable and good citizens; that a number of them were men high in office and in public confidence, and that the conspiracy extended over a wide territory, and then let him say whether, if an occasion arise demanding their action, they will prove to be law-abiding citizens, or, if they will not, as they have often done before, set at naught any law of God and man, and, if need be, reach their end through the blood of their victim.
But some will say that this is representing Freemasonry as infamous, and holding it up to the disgust, contempt, and indignation of mankind. I reply, I have not misrepresented it, as it is revealed in the books which I have been examining. Remember, it is with Masonry as there revealed that I have to deal. If a truthful representation of it excites the contempt, disgust and indignation of the public toward it--if to rightly represent Freemasonry is to render it infamous, I can not help it. The fault, if any, is not mine. I have revealed nothing. I have only called attention to facts of common concern to all honest citizens. Let the infamy rest where it belongs.
WHY FREEMASONS RESORT TO THREATS AND REFUSE TO DISCUSS THEIR PRINCIPLES
There are many aspects of this subject that need to be thoroughly considered by all men. For example, the bearing of this institution upon domestic happiness is of great importance.
The stringent secrecy enjoined and maintained at the hazard of one's life, is really inconsistent with the spirit of the marriage contract It is really an insult to a wife for a husband to go and pledge himself to conceal from his wife that which he freely communicates to strangers. Suppose that wives should get up lodges, spend their money and their time in secret conclave, absent themselves from home, and swear to keep their proceedings entirely from their husbands; and suppose that such organizations should be made permanent, and extend throughout the length and breadth of the land, would husbands endure this? Would they think it right?
In short, if wives should do what husbands do, would not husbands rebel, think themselves abused, and insist upon such a course being entirely and forever abandoned? Indeed they would! How can a man look his wife in the face after joining a Masonic lodge? I have recently received several letters from the wives of Masons complaining of this:--that their husbands had joined the lodge and paid their money, and were spending their time, and concealing their doings and their principles from their wives. This is utterly unjust. It is shameful; and no honorable man can reflect upon it without feeling that he wrongs his wife.
Of late, partly to appease women, and partly to give the female relatives of Masons certain signs and tokens by which they may make themselves known as the wives or daughters, sisters or mothers of Freemasons, they are conferring certain side degrees upon women. Of this Freemasons themselves--that is the more honorable among them--are complaining as an innovation, and as a thing justly to be complained of by outsiders. And observe that they ask, what if these daughters or sisters of Masons, who are taking these side degrees, should marry men who are not Masons, and who are opposed to the institution,--what would be the consequence of this? You administer, they say, the degrees for the sake of preserving domestic peace; and here, on the other hand, it would produce domestic discord.
But again, it should be considered that Masonry is an institution of vast proportions, and of such a nature that it will not allow its principles to be discussed.
It works in the dark. And instead of standing or falling according to its character and tendencies, when brought to the light, when thoroughly discussed and understood by the public, it closes the door against all discussion, shrouds itself in midnight, and its argument is assassination. Now, what have we here in a republican government? A set of men under oath to assist each other, and even to conceal each other's crimes, embracing and acting upon principles that are not to be discussed!
Immediately after the publication of the first number of my articles in the Independent, on the subject of Masonry, I received a threatening letter from the city of New York, virtually threatening me with assassination. I have since received several letters of the most abusive character from Freemasons, simply because I discuss and expose their principles. Now, if their principles can not bear the light, they never should be tolerated. It is an insult to any community for a set of men to band themselves together to keep each other's secrets, and to aid each other in a great variety of ways, and refuse to have their principles known and discussed, whilst their only argument is a dagger, a bullet, and a bowie knife, instead of truth and reason. Indeed, it is wellknown throughout the length and breadth of the land that Masonry is so determined not to have its principles discussed, that men are afraid to discuss them. They expect from the very nature of Masonry, and from the revelations that it has made of itself, to be persecuted, and perhaps murdered, if they attempt to discuss the principles and usages of that institution. Now, is such a thing as this to be tolerated in a free government? Why how infinitely dangerous and shocking is this!
Everything else may be discussed. All governmental proceedings, the characters of public men, all institutions of learning, all benevolent societies, and indeed everything else in the world may be discussed, and criticised. and held up for public examination; but Masonry, forsooth, must not be touched. It must work in the dark. All the moneys received by charitable institutions must be reported; and the manner in which they dispose of every dollar that they receive must be held up before the public for examination. Every one sees the importance of this, and knows that it is right. But Freemasonry make no report of its funds. They will not tell us what they do with them. They will not allow themselves to be called in question. No, that institution must not be ventilated upon pain of persecution unto death.
Now, it is enough to make a man's blood boil with indignation that such an institution as this should exist in the land. And what is most astonishing is, that members of the Christian Church, and Christian ministers, should sympathize with, and even unite themselves to, such an institution as this.
Suppose the church should conduct in this manner, and the Christian Church should receive its members in secret, and such oaths should be administered to them. Suppose Christianity would not allow its principles to be discussed, would not allow itself to come to the light, should use threats of assassination, and should actually resort to assassination to establish itself, and should thus create a feeling of terror throughout the whole world so that no man would dare to speak against it, to ventilate it, and show up its principles,--what would be said of Christianity, should it, like Freemasonry, take such a course as this?
The fact is, that Freemasonry is the most anomalous, absurd, and abominable institution that can exist in a Christian country; and is, on the face of it, from the fact that it will not allow its principles to be discussed and divulged, a most dangerous thing in human society. In nearly all the letters that I am receiving on this subject -- and they are numerous --astonishment is expressed, and frequently gratitude and praise to God, that a man is found who dares publicly to discuss and expose the principles of the institution. Now, what is this? Have we an institution, the ramifications of which are entwining themselves with every fiber of our government and our institutions, our civil and religious liberties, of which the whole country is so much afraid that they dare not speak the truth concerning it?
What is this, thrust in upon human society and upon Christian communities, that can not be so much as discussed and its principles brought to light without threats of persecution and assassination? What honest man can witness such a state of things as this in our government without feeling his indignation enkindled ?
Everything else may be discussed, may be brought to the light, may be held up to the public for their verdict; but Freemasonry must not be touched. Other institutions must stand or fall in the light of reason and of sound morality. If they are sustained at all they must be sustained by argument, by logic, by standing the test of thorough criticism. But Masonry must stand, not by argument, not by logic, not by sound reason, but must be sustained by persecution and murder. And so universally, as I have already said, is this known and assumed, as to strike men in every part of the land with such terror, that they dare not speak their minds about it.
And now, are we in this country to hold our peace? to hold out our hands and have the shackles put upon them? Is the press to be muzzled, and the whole country to be awed and kept under the feet of this institution, so that no man shall dare to speak his mind? God forbid! "Every plant," says Christ, "which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up." The works of darkness shall be dragged to the light; and the power of this institution must be broken by a thorough expose of its oaths, its principles, its spirit and tendency. Afraid to speak out against such an abomination as this! Remember that he that would save his life by concealing the truth, and refusing to embrace and defend it, shall lose it.
Again, Freemasonry is a most intolerant and intolerable despotism.
Let any one examine their oaths, and see what implicit obedience they pledge to the great dignitaries, and Masters, and High Priests of their lodges, and they will see what an institution this is in a republican government. There is no appeal from the decision of the Master of a lodge. In respect to everything in the lodge, his word is law. In a recent number of the "National and Freemason," which fell into my hands, the editor asserts that there is no appeal to the lodge from the decision of the Master of the lodge, and that he should allow none. In the ascending scale of their degrees, they swear to render implicit obedience to the grand lodges, and the higher orders above them, and this beforehand. They are not allowed to question the propriety of those decisions at all. They are not allowed to discuss, or to have any voice or vote in regard to those decrees. There is not in the world a more perfect and frightful despotism than Freemasonry is from beginning to end. Now, think of the great number of Freemasons in this country that are becoming accustomed to yield this implicit obedience to arbitrary power, a one man power, running through every lodge and chapter throughout the whole entangled system. And this institution is penetrating every community, selecting its men, and enforcing their obedience to arbitrary power throughout this whole republican country. And will not the country awake to this great wrong and this great danger? A friend of mine, a minister of the Gospel, writes me that he had been himself a Mason. He was urged to join the institution, as I was myself; but he renounced it many years ago, and supposed that it was dead. But some fifteen years since he found it reviving in the neighborhood where he was living, and he preached a sermon exposing it. That very week they burned him in effigy at his own gate; and that even now he could not preach against it and expose it without being set upon and persecuted he knows not to what extent,.
And this, then, is the way for Masons to meet this question! If allowed to go on they will soon resort to mobs, as the slaveholders and their sympathizers did; and it will be found that Masonry can not be spoken against without mobs arising to disperse any assembly that may meet for the examination of the subject, If fifteen years ago a minister of the Gospel could be burned in effigy before his own gate, for bringing this institution to the light, and if now threats of assassination come from the four winds of heaven if a man speaks or writes the truth concerning it, if let alone how long will it be before it will have its foot upon the neck of the whole nation, so that it will be sure to cost any man his life who dares to rebuke it?
But why do Freemasons take this course? Why do they decline to discuss, and resort to threats of violence? I answer first, for the same reason that slaveholders did the same.
Many years ago John Randolph, with a shake of his long finger, informed the Congress of the United States, that slavery should not be discussed there. At the South they would not allow tracts to be circulated, nor a word to be spoken against the institution. They resorted to every form of violence to prevent it. And who does not know the reason why? Their abominable institution would not bear the light, and they knew it right well. Freemasons know very well that they can not justify their institution before an enlightened public. I mean, those of them who are well-informed know this.
Multitudes of them are so ignorant as to feel quite sure that they are right, and that their institution is what it professes to be. The well-informed among them know better; and those who would naturally be expected to discuss the question, if it were discussed, know that they can not stand their ground. They can not justify their horrid oaths, with their barbarous penalties. They know that they can not establish their false claims to great antiquity.
The ignorant or dishonest among them will vapor, and set forth their ridiculous pretensions to antiquity; and will try to persuade us that God was a Freemason when He created the Universe, and that all the ancient worthies were Freemasons. But the well-informed among them know perfectly well that there is not the shadow of truth in all this pretension, and that their claim to great antiquity is a lie, and nothing but a lie, from beginning to end. They know also that the claims of the institution to benevolence are false, and can not be sustained, and that there is not a particle of benevolence in their institution;
Again, they know very well that the claim of Masonry to be a saving religion is a false claim; and that its claim to be substantially the Christian religion is without the least foundation. They know also that its professions are false in regard to the truth of history; and that its claim to be a depository of the sciences and arts is without foundation.
They know very well that Masonry has no just claims to be the light of the world in regard to any of its pretensions. They know that the secrecy which it enjoins can not be defended, and that it has no right to exist as a secret, oath-bound institution. They know that this oath-bound secrecy can not be justified before an enlightened public; that there is nothing in Freemasonry to justify their oaths or penalties, and that there is nothing in it that deserves the respect of the public.
They are well aware that they can not justify their pompous titles, their odious ceremonies, their false teachings, their shameful abuses of the Word of God; and they are ashamed to attempt to justify the puerilities on the one hand, or the blasphemies that abound on the other.
Any one who will examine Richardson's "Masonic Monitor," will find in it diagrams of the lodges and of many of the ceremonies; and if anybody wishes to see how ridiculous, absurd, and profane many of their ceremonies are, let him examine that work.
The reason of their declining all discussion, and resorting to threats of violence, is manifest enough. It is sagacious in them to keep in the dark, and to awe people, if they can, by threats; because they have no argument, no history, no anything that can justify them in the course they take.
Shame on an institution that resorts to such a defense as this? But it can not live where the press and speech are free; and this its defenders know right well. If freedom of speech is allowed on the subject, and the press is allowed to discuss and thoroughly to ventilate it, they know full well that the institution can not exist. The fact is, that Freemasonry must die, or liberty must die. These two things can not exist together. Freemasons have already sold their liberty, and put themselves under an iron despotism; and there is not one in a thousand of them that dares to speak against the institution, or really to speak his mind.
I have just received a letter from one of them, which reads as follows: "Dear Sir,--I merely write you as a man and professed Christian to say that you are doing God service in your attacks upon the institution of Masonry. I am a Mason, but have long since been convinced that it is a wicked, blasphemous institution, and that the Church of Christ suffers from this source more than from any other. You know that the oaths and scenes of the lodge are most shamefully wicked; and a Christian man's character, if he leaves them, is not safe in the community where he lives. You can make what use you please of this; but, perhaps, my name and place of residence had better not be made public, for I fear for my property and my person." This is the way that multitudes of Freemasons feel. They have sold their liberty, and they dare not speak out. Shall we all sell our liberties, and allow Masonry to stifle all discussion by a resort to violence and assassination? Threats are abundant; and they go as far as they dare do in executing their threats.
In some places, where Freemasons are numerous and less on their guard, I am informed that they do not hesitate to say that they Intend to have a Masonic government, peaceably if they can. That this is the design of many of the leaders in this institution, there can be no rational doubt in the minds of those who are well informed. The press, to a great extent, is already either bribed or afraid to speak the truth on this subject; and, so far as I can learn, there are but few secular or religious papers open to its discussion. Now, what a state of things is this! A few years ago it was as much as a man's life was worth to write anything against slavery, or to speak against it, in the Southern States. And has come to this, that the North are to be made slaves, and that an institution is to be sustained in our midst that will not allow itself to be ventilated? For one I do not feel willing at present to part with my liberty in this respect --although I am informed that a Mason, not far from here, intimated that I might be waylaid and murdered. It matters not. I will not compromise the liberty of free speech on a question of such importance to save my life. Why should I? I must confess that I have felt amazed and mortified when so many have expressed astonishment that I dared to speak plainly on this subject, and write my thoughts and views.
Among all the letters that I have received on this subject, I do not recollect one in which the writer does not admonish me not to publish his name. And this in republican America! A man's life, property and character not safe if he speaks the truth in regard to an institution which is aiming to overshadow the whole land, and to have everything its own way! as the writer of the letter from which I have just made an extract says, that a man's character is not safe if he speaks the truth concerning Freemasonry. Is not this abominable?
So well do I understand that Masons are sworn to persecute, and to represent every one who abandons their institution as a vile vagabond, and to say all manner of evil against him, that I do not pretend to believe what they say of that class of men.
When the question of Freemasonry was first forced upon us in our church, and I was obliged to preach upon the subject and read from Bernard's "Light on Masonry," I found before I got home that EIder Bernard had been so misrepresented and slandered that people were saying, "He is not a man to be trusted." Who does not know that whoever has dared to renounce that institution, and publish its secrets to the world, has either been murdered, or slandered and followed with persecution in a most unrelenting manner?
RELATIONS OF MASONRY TO THE CHURCH OF CHRIST
We are now prepared to consider the question of the relation of Freemasonry to the Church of Christ. On this question I remark:
lst. God holds the church and every branch of it, responsible for its opinion and action in accordance with the best light, which, in his providence, is afforded them. This, indeed, is law universal, equally applicable to all moral agents, at all times and in all places. But at present I consider its application to the Church of God. If any particular. branch of the church has better means of information, and therefore more light on moral questions, than another branch, its responsibility is greater, in proportion to its greater means of information. Such a branch of the church is bound to take a higher and more advanced position in Christian life and duty, to bear a fuller and higher testimony against every form of iniquity, than that required by less favored and less informed branches of the church. They are not to wait till other branches of the church have received their light, before they bear a testimony and pursue a course in accordance with their own degree of information.
2d. While Masonry was a secret, the church had no light, and no responsibility respecting it. Although individual members of the church, were Freemasons, as a body, she knew nothing of Masonry; therefore she could say nothing of it, except as its results appeared to be revealed in the lives of individuals; and, in judging from this source of evidence, the church could not decide, if the lives of the members were good or bad, whether it was Freemasonry that made them so; because, of its nature, designs, principles, oaths, doctrines, secret practices, she knew nothing. Hence God did not require the church to bear any testimony on the subject as long as Masonry was a secret. The world did not expect the church to take any action, or to bear any testimony on the subject, as long as Masonry was a thing unknown, except to the initiated. In those circumstances the unconverted world did not expect any testimony from the church, and they had no right to expect it. The well-known fact, that many professed Christians were Freemasons, was then no disgrace to the Church of God, because the character of Freemasonry was not known.
3d. But the state of the case is now greatly changed. Freemasonry is now revealed. It is no longer a secret to any who wish to be informed. Its nature, character, aims, oaths, principles, doctrines, usages, are in print, and the books in which they are revealed are scattered broadcast over the land. As long ago as 1826, Wm. Morgan published verbatim the first three degrees of Masonry. That these degrees were faithfully published as they were known, and taken in the lodges, no man can truthfully deny. Two, or more spurious editions of this work have been published, for the sake of deceiving the public. To obtain a correct edition of this work is at present difficult. Just previous to the publication of this work, EIder Stearns, a Baptist minister, and a high Mason, one who had taken many Masonic degrees, a man of good character who is still living, had published a volume entitled "An inquiry into the nature and tendency of Speculative Freemasonry." In 1860 the same author published a volume entitled "Letters on Freemasonry, addressed chiefly to the Fraternity," with an appendix. He has recently published another volume entitled "A new chapter on Freemasonry." Soon after the publication of Morgan's book, already referred to, a body of seceding Masons, appointed a committee of sixteen, if I do not mistake the number, upon which committee were several ministers of Christ, to prepare and publish a correct version of forty-eight degrees of Freemasonry. Elder Bernard had taken a large number of degrees, I know not exactly how many. The degrees ordered to be published by this committee were carefully collected and arranged and published under the following title, "'Light on Masonry;' A collection of all the most important documents on the subject of Speculative Masonry, embracing the reports of the western committees in relation to the abduction of Wm. Morgan, proceedings of conventions, orations, essays, etc., etc., with all the degrees of the order conferred in a Master's lodge as written by Capt. Wm. Morgan, all the degrees conferred in the Royal Arch Chapter, and Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, with the appendant orders as published by the convention of seceding Masons, held at Leroy, July 4th and 5th, 1828. Also, a revelation of all the degrees conferred in the Lodge of Perfection and fifteen degrees of a still higher order, with seven French degrees, making forty-eight degrees of Freemasonry, with notes and critical remarks by Elder David Bernard, of Warsaw, Genesee County, New York, once an intimate Secretary of the Lodge of Perfection. This book soon passed through seven editions. An eighth, but an abridged edition, has been recently published in Dayton, Ohio." Since the publication of Bernard's book, a volume has been published, entitled "Richardson's Monitor of Freemasonry;" being a practical guide to the ceremonies in all the degrees conferred in Masonic Lodges, Chapters, Encampments, etc., explaining the signs, tokens and grips, and giving all the words, passwords, sacred words, oaths, and hieroglyphics used by Masons. The ineffable and historical degrees are also given in full. By Jabez Richardson, A.M. In this book are published sixty-two Masonic degrees, with diagrams of lodges, and drawings representing their signs and ceremonies. Brother Avery Allyn has also published a large number of Masonic degrees. The question of the reliability of these works, I have discussed in a previous number. I am a little more particular in naming them in this place, for the information of those who have not seen the books. The substantial accord of all these authors, and their reliability, seems to be established beyond all reasonable question. Now, since these revelations are made, and both the church and the world are aware of what Masonry really is, God demands, and the world has a right to expect, that the church will take due action and bear a truthful testimony in respect to this institution. She can not now innocently hold her peace. The light has come. Fidelity to God, and to the souls of men, require that the church, which is the light of the world, should speak out, and should take such action as will plainly reveal her views of the compatibility or incompatibility of Freemasonry with the Christian religion. As God's witnesses, as the pillar and ground of the truth, the church is bound to give the trumpet no uncertain sound, upon this question, that all men may know, whether, in her judgment, an intelligent embracing and determinate adhering to Freemasonry are compatible with a truthful profession of religion.
4th. The Church of Christ knows Masonry through these books. This is the best and most reliable source of information that we can have, or can reasonably ask. We have seen in a former number, that Freemasons do not pretend that Freemasonry has been substantially altered since the publication of these books, that we have the most satisfactory evidence that it has not been, and can not be substantially changed. Let it therefore be distinctly understood, that the action and testimony of the church respects Freemasonry as it is revealed in these books, and not as individuals may affirm of it, pro or con. By these books we know it. By these books we judge it, and let it be understood that whatever action we take upon it, or whatever we say of it, we both act and speak of Masonry as it is here revealed, and of no other Masonry or thing, whatever. To this course, neither Masons nor any one else can justly take exceptions. From all the testimony in the case, we are shut up to this course. Let not Freemasons complain of this. These books certainly reveal Masonry as it was forty years ago. If it has been changed, the burden of proof is on them, and inasmuch as they make no pretense that Masonry has been reformed, and in view of the fact, that they still maintain that they embrace all the principles and usages of ancient Freemasonry, we are bound to speak our minds of Freemasonry as these books reveal
5th. Judging then, from these revelations, how can we fail to pronounce Freemasonry an anti-Christian institution? For example, 1st. We have seen that its morality is unchristian. 2d. Its oath-bound secrecy is unchristian. 3d. The administration and taking of its oaths are unchristian, and a violation of a positive command of Christ. 4th. Masonic oaths pledge its members to commit most unlawful and unchristian deeds. a. To conceal each others crimes. b. To deliver each other from difficulty whether right or wrong. c. To unduly favor Masonry in political actions and in business transactions. d. Its members are sworn to retaliate, and persecute unto death, the violators of Masonic obligation. e. Freemasonry knows no mercy, but swears its candidates to avenge violations of Masonic obligation even unto death. f. Its oaths are profane, the taking of the name of God in vain. g. The penalties of these oaths are barbarous and even savage. h. Its teachings are false and profane. i. Its design is partial and selfish. j. Its ceremonies are a mixture of puerility and profanity. k. Its religion is Deistic. l. It is a false religion, and professes to save men upon other conditions than those revealed in the Gospel of Christ. m. It is an enormous falsehood. n. It is a swindle, and obtains money from its membership under false pretenses. o. It refuses all examination, and veils itself under a mantle of oath-bound secrecy. p. It is a virtual conspiracy against both Church and State. No one, therefore, has ever undertaken, and for the plainest reasons none will undertake, to defend Freemasonry as it is revealed in these books. Their arguments are threats, calumny, persecution, assassination. Freemasons do not pretend that Freemasonry, as revealed in these books, is compatible with Christianity. I have not yet known the first Freemason who would affirm that an intelligent adherence to Freemasonry, as revealed in these books, is consistent with a profession of the Christian religion. But we know, if we can know anything from testimony, that these books do truly reveal Freemasonry. We have, then, the implied testimony of Freemasons themselves, that the Christian Church ought to have no fellowship with Freemasonry as thus revealed, and that those who adhere intelligently and determinately to such an institution have no fight to be in the Christian Church. In our judgment we are forced to the same conclusion, we can not escape from it, we wish it were otherwise, we therefore sorrowfully, but solemnly, pronounce this judgment.
6th. Every local branch of the Church of Christ is bound to examine this subject, and pronounce upon this institution, according to the best light they can get. God does not allow individuals, or churches, to withhold action, and the expression of their opinion, until other churches are as enlightened as themselves. We are bound to act up to our own light, and to go as far in advance of others as we have better means of information than they. We have no right to say to God that we will act according to our own convictions, when others become so enlightened that our action will be popular and meet their approval.
Again: Those individuals and churches, who have had the best means of information, owe it to other branches of the church, and to the whole world, to take action and to pronounce upon the unchristian character of Freemasonry, as the most influential means within their reach of arousing the whole church and the world to an examination of the character and claims of Freemasonry. If churches who are known to have examined the subject withhold their testimony; if they continue to receive persistent and intelligent Freemasons; if they leave the public to infer that they see nothing in Freemasonry inconsistent with a creditable profession of the Christian religion, it will be justly inferred by other branches of the church, and by the world, that there is nothing in it so bad, so dangerous and unchristian as to call for their examination, action, or testimony. Before the publishing of Morgan's book, the Baptist denomination, especially, in that part of the country, had been greatly carried away by Freemasonry. A large proportion of its eldership and membership were Freemasons. A considerable number of ministers and members of other branches of the Christian Church had also fallen into the snare. The murder of Wm. Morgan, and the publication of Masonry consequent thereupon in the books I have named, broke upon the churches--fast asleep on this subject--like a clap of thunder from a clear sky. The facts were such, the revelations were so clear, that the Baptist denomination backed down, and took the lead in renouncing and denouncing the institution. Their elders and associated churches, almost universally, passed resolutions disfellowshiping adhering Masons. The denomination, to a considerable extent, took the same course. Throughout the Northern States, at that time, I believe it was almost universally conceded, that persistent Freemasons, who continued to adhere and co-operate with them, ought not to be admitted to Christian churches. Now, it is worthy of all consideration and remembrance, that God set the seal of His approbation upon the action taken by those churches at that time, by pouring out His Spirit upon them.
Great revivals immediately followed over that whole region. The discussion of the subject, and the action of the churches took place in 1827-'8 and '9, and in 1830 the greatest revival spread over this region that had ever been known in this or any other country. They knew Masonry, as we know it, by an examination of those books in which it had been revealed. We have the same means of knowing Freemasonry, if we will use them, that those churches and ecclesiastical bodies had. We have the highest evidence that the nature of the case will admit, that God approved of their decision and action. In the brief outline that I have given in the preceding pages, I have endeavored to show truthfully, so far as my space would allow, what Freemasonry really is, and if it is what these books represent it to be, it seems to me clear as noonday, that it is an anti-Christian institution. And should the question be asked, "What shall be done with the great number of professed Christians who are Freemasons?" I answer, Let them have no more to do with it. Again, let Christian men labor with them, plead with them, and endeavor to make them see it to be their duty to abandon it. These oaths should be distinctly read to them, and they should be asked whether they acknowledge the obligation of these oaths, and whether they intend to do the things that they have sworn to do. Let it be distinctly pressed upon their consciences, that all Masons above the first two degrees have solemnly sworn to conceal each other's crimes, murder and treason alone excepted, and all above the sixth degree have sworn to conceal each other's crimes, without an exception. All above the sixth degree have sworn to espouse each other's cause and to deliver them from any difficulty, whether they are right or wrong. If they have taken those degrees where they swear to persecute unto death those who violate their obligations, let them be asked whether they intend to do any such thing. Let them be distinctly asked whether they intend still to aid and abet the administration and taking of these oaths, if they still intend to countenance the false and hypocritical teachings of Masonry, if they mean to countenance the profanity of their ceremonies, and practice the partiality they have sworn to practiced. If so, surely they should not be allowed their places in the church.
In concluding these pages I appeal to Freemasons themselves. Gentlemen, I beg you to believe that I have no personal ill-will toward any member of your fraternity. Many of them are amongst my personal acquaintances, and some of them nearly related to me.
I have written of Masonry, I pray you to remember, as revealed by Wm. Morgan, also Avery Allyn, Elders Bernard and Stearns, and Mr. Richardson. That these authors truly reveal Masonry I am certain, so far as I have personal knowledge of it. That they truly reveal the higher degrees I have as good reasons for believing, as of any fact to be established by human testimony. You can not justly expect me to doubt the truthfulness of these revelations. You must be aware that God will hold me responsible and demand that I should, in view of the testimony, yield my full assent to the credibility of these authors. You must know that God requires me to treat this subject in accordance with this revelation. Now, gentlemen, no one of your number has attempted to show that these books are not substantially reliable and true. No one of you has appeared to publicly justify Masonry as revealed by these authors. You must be aware that no man can justify it. No respectable author amongst you has attempted to show that Freemasonry has undergone any essential improvement, or modification, since these revelations were made; but on the contrary the most recently published Masonic authorities assert or assume that Masonry has not been changed, and that it is still what it ever has been, and that it is insusceptible of change, as I have proved it to be. Now, my dear sirs, what ought you to expect of me? To hold my peace and let the evil overrun the country until it is too late to speak? Believing, as I most assuredly do, that these works truly reveal Masonry, could I be an honest man, a faithful minister of Christ, and hold my peace in view of the alarming progress that this institution is making in these days. In your hearts you would condemn and despise me if, with my convictions, I suffered any earthly considerations to prevent my sounding the trumpet of alarm to both Church and State. Would you have me stultify my intelligence by refusing to believe these authors; or, believing them, would you have me cower before this enormousIy extended conspiracy? Or would you have me sear my conscience by shunning the cross, and keeping silence in the midst of the periIs of both Church and State? And, gentlemen, can you escape from the conclusions at which I have arrived. Granting these works to be true, and remember I am bound to assume their truthfulness, can any of you face the public and assert that men who have intelligently taken and who adhere to the horrid oaths, with their horrid penalties, as revealed in these books, can safely be trusted with any office in Church or State? Can a man who has taken, and still adheres to the Master's oath to conceal any secret crime of a brother of that degree, murder and treason excepted, be a safe man with whom to entrust an office? Can he be trusted as a witness, a juror, or with any office connected with the administration of justice? Can a man who has taken and still adheres to the oath of the Royal Arch degree be trusted in office? He swears to espouse the cause of a companion of this degree when involved in any difficulty, so far as to extricate him from the same, whether he be right or wrong. He swears to conceal his crimes, murder and treason not excepted. He swears to give a companion of this degree timely notice of any approaching danger that may be known to him: Now is a man bound fast by such an oath to be entrusted with office? Ought he to be accepted as a witness, a juror--when a Freemason is a party in any case--a sheriff; constable, or marshal; ought he to be trusted with the office of judge or justice of the peace? Gentlemen, you know he ought not, and you would despise me should I not be faithful in warning the public against entrusting such men with office. But further: Take the large class of men who have sworn, under the most awful penalties, to take vengeance on all who violate Masonic obligations; to seek their condign punishment; to kill them; to persecute them, and to ruin them by representing them wherever they go as worthless vagabonds. Now, gentlemen, I appeal to you, is a man who is under a most solemn oath to kill or seek the death of any man who shall violate any part of the Masonic oaths a fit person to be at large amongst men? Why, who does not know that Freemasons are in the habit of violating various points and parts of their Masonic oaths, and are not Freemason bound by oaths to kill them, or seek their death? There are many seceding Masons throughout the land. Adhering Masons are under oath to seek to procure their death. Now if they adhere to their oaths and thereby affirm that they design to fulfill their vows, if an opportunity occurs, ought they not to be imprisoned or put under the heaviest bonds to keep the peace? No one can face the public and deny this, admitting as he must that their oaths are truly recorded in these books. No one can think this conclusion harsh unless he assumes contrary to all evidence, either that no such oaths have been taken, or if they have, and are still adhered to there is no danger that these vows will be fulfilled. Take these books and say wherein have I dealt harshly or uncharitably with Freemasonry as herein revealed? Ought a Freemason of this stamp to be fellowshiped by a Christian Church? Ought not such an one to be regarded as an unscrupulous and dangerous man? I appeal to your conscience in the sight of God, and I know that your moral sense must respond amen to the conclusions at which I have arrived. Be not offended with my telling you the truth in love. We must all soon meet at the solemn judgment. Let us not be angry, but honest.