Character, Claims And Practical Workings Of Freemasonry (1869)
by Charles G. Finney
SWORN TO PERSECUTE
Masons are sworn to "persecute unto the death anyone who violates Masonic obligation. In the oath of The THRICE ILLUSTRIOUS ORDER of the CROSS the candidate swears, as follows, "Light on Masonry," eighth edition, page 199: "You further swear, that should you know another to violate any essential point of this obligation, you will use your most decided endeavors, by the blessing of God, to bring such person to the strictest and most condign punishment, agreeably to the rules and usages of our ancient fraternity; and this, by pointing him out to the world as an unworthy vagabond, by opposing his interest, by deranging his business by transferring his character after him wherever he may go, and by exposing him to the contempt of the whole fraternity and of the world, during his whole natural life." The penalty of this obligation is as follows: "To all and every part thereof we then bind you, and by ancient usage you bind yourself, under the no less infamous penalty than dying the death of a traitor, by having a spear, or other sharp instrument, like our Divine Master, thrust into your left side, bearing testimony, even in death, to the power and justice of the mark of the Holy Cross."
Upon this obligation I remark:
1. Here we have an explanation of the notorious fact that Freemasons try, in every way, to ruin the reputation of all who renounce Masonry. The air has almost been darkened by the immense number of falsehoods that have been circulated, by Freemasons, to destroy the reputation of every man who has renounced Freemasonry, and published it to the world, or has written against it. No pains have been spared to destroy all confidence in the testimony of such men. Does not this oath render it impossible for us to believe what Freemasons say of the character of those who violate their obligations? Who of us that lived forty years ago does not remember how Freemasons endeavored to destroy the reputation of William Morgan, of Elder Bernard, of EIder Stearns, and also of Mr. Allyn, and who that is at all acquainted with facts does not know that the utmost pains are taken to destroy the reputation of every man that dares to take his pen and expose their institution. When I had occasion to quote Elder Bernard's book, in preaching on the subject of Freemasonry a few months ago, I was told in the streets, before I got home, that he was a man of bad character. I knew better, and knew well how to understand such representations, for this is the way in which the testimony of all such men is sought to be disposed of by Freemasons. Will this be denied? What, then, is the meaning of this oath? Are not Masons under oath to do this? Indeed they are. A few months since I received the following letter. For reasons which will be appreciated, I omit name and date. The writer says: "About a week since, a man calling himself Professor W.E. Moore, the great South American explorer, came to this place, lecturing on Freemasonry. He is a Mason, and has given private lectures to the lodges here, and has lectured once before the public. He claims to have been at Oberlin, recently, and that while there he had an interview with you, and that he tested you sufficiently to satisfy himself that you had never been a Mason; and further, he says that the conversation he had with you resulted to his great satisfaction, and to your great discomfiture." At nearly the same date of this letter, I received, from the same place, a letter from a Freemason of my acquaintance, giving substantially the same account of this Professor Moore. In this letter, however, it is added that his conversation with me compelled me to confess that I never had been a Mason, and to say I would publish no more against Masonry. This last letter I have mislaid, so that I can not lay my hand upon it. From the first I quote verbatim et literatim. I replied to these letters, as I now assert, that every word of what this man says of me is false. That I never saw or heard of this man, to my knowledge, until I received those letters. But this is nothing new or strange. Such false representations are just what we are to expect, if Freemasons of this and the higher degrees fulfill their vows. Why should they be believed, and how can they complain of us for not believing what they say of men who have renounced Masonry and oppose it? It is mere folly and madness to believe them. It is not difficult, if Freemasons desire it, to produce almost any amount of testimony to prove that every manner and degree of falsehood is resorted to to destroy the testimony of men who witness against them. Any man who will renounce these horrid oaths, and expose their profanity to the public, should make up his mind beforehand to endure any amount of slander and persecution which the ingenuity of Freemasons can invent.
In the degree of Knights Adepts of the Eagle or Sun, "Light on Masonry," eighth edition, page 269, we have the following: "The man peeping. By the man you saw peeping, and who was discovered, and seized, and conducted to death, is an emblem of those who come to be initiated into our sacred mysteries through a motive of curiosity; and if so indiscreet as to divulge their obligations, WE ARE BOUND TO CAUSE THEIR DEATH, AND TAKE VENGEANCE ON THE TREASON BY THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TRAITORS!!!" Here we find that Freemasons of this and the higher degrees are solemnly pledged to destroy the lives of those who violate their obligations. Deacon William A. Bartlett, of Pella, Iowa, in his public renunciation of Freemasonry, says--"Letters on Masonry," 'by EIder John G. Stearns, page 169--"During the winter or spring following my initiation, a resolution was offered in the lodge for adoption, and to be published outside the lodge, condemning the abduction of Morgan. After much discussion, the Worshipful Master called another to the chair, and said, 'Brethren, what do you mean by offering such a resolution as this? Had we been at Batavia, we would have done just what those brethren have done, and taken the life of Morgan, because the oaths of Masonry demand it at our hands. And will you condemn brethren for doing what you would have done had you been there? I trust not.' When the vote to condemn them was taken, but three voted in favor of the resolution." There is abundant proof that Freemasons generally, at first, denied the murder of Morgan, and when they could no longer have courage to deny it, they justified it, until public indignation was so much aroused as to make them ashamed to justify it. Let those who wish for proof on the question of their justifying it read the volume of EIder Stearns, to be had at the bookstores, and he will find evidence enough of the fact.
AWFUL PROFANITY OF MASONIC OATHS
IN the degree of Templar and Knight of Malta, as found in the seventh edition of "Light on Masonry," page 182, in a lecture in which the candidate is giving an account of what he had passed through, he says: "I then took the cup (the upper part of the human skull) in my hand, and repeated, after the Grand Commander, the following obligation: 'This pure wine I now take in testimony of my belief in the mortality of the body and the immortality of the soul--and may this libation appear as a witness against me both here and hereafter--and as the sins of the world were laid upon the head of the Savior, so may all the sins committed by the person whose skull this was be heaped upon my head, in addition to my own, should I ever, knowingly or willful]y, violate or transgress any obligation that I have heretofore taken, take at this time, or shall at any future period take, in relation to any degree of Masonry or order of Knighthood. So help me God?'" Now, observe what a horrid imprecation is here. These Knights Templar and Knights of Malta take their oaths sustained by such a horrid penalty as this. They say that they will incur this penalty, not merely if they violate the peculiar obligation of this degree, but "any obligation that I have heretofore taken, take at this time, or shall at any future period take, in relation to any degree of Masonry or order of Knighthood." This is called "the sealed obligation." Here, in the most solemn manner, the candidate, drinking wine out of a human skull, takes upon himself this obligation, under the penalty of a double damnation. What can exceed the profanity and wickedness of this?
On the 185th page of the same book, we find a note quoted from the work of Brother Allyn, who renounced Masonry and published on the subject. I will quote the note entire. Mr. Allyn says of the fifth libation, or sealed obligation, it "is referred to by Templars in confidential communications, relative to matters of great importance, when other Masonic obligations seem insufficient to secure secresy, silence, and safety. Such, for instance, was the murder of William Morgan, which was communicated from one Templar to another, under the pledge, and upon this sealed obligation." He also remarks, in another place: "When I received this degree I objected to drink from the human skull, and to take the profane oath required by the rules of the order. I observed to the Most Eminent that I supposed that that part of the ceremonies would be dispensed with. The Sir Knights charged upon me, and the Most Eminent said: 'Pilgrim, you here see the swords of your companions drawn to defend you in the discharge of every duty we require of you. They are also drawn to avenge any violation of the rules of our order. We expect you to proceed.' A clergyman, an acquaintance of mine, came forward, and said: 'Companion Allyn, this part of the ceremonies is never dispensed with I, and all the Sir Knights, have drank from the cup and taken the fifth libation. It is perfectly proper, and will be qualified to your satisfaction.' I then drank of the cup of double damnation."
Now, can any profanity be more horrible than this? And yet there is nothing in Masonry, we are told, that is at all inconsistent with the Christian religion! On the 187th page of the same volume, the "Knight of the Christian Mark," at the conclusion of his obligation, says: "All this I promise in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Ho]y Ghost; and if I perform it not, let me be
ANATHEMA MARANATHA! ANATHEMA MARANATHA!!" Anathema Maranatha is understood to mean accursed at the Lord's coming. Again, the "Knights of the Red Cross" take their obligations upon the following penalty, page 164: "To all of which I do most solemnly promise and swear, binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my house torn down, the timbers thereof set up, and I hanged thereon; and when the last trump shall blow, that I be forever excluded from the society of all true and courteous Knights, should I ever, willfully or knowingly, violate any part of this solemn obligation of Knight of the Red Cross. So help me, God, and keep me steadfast to keep and perform the same."
The "Knights of the Eagle, and Sovereign Prince of Rose Croix de Heroden," in receiving this degree, pass through the following, page 253, of Bernard's eighth edition of "Light on Masonry:" "During this time the brethren in the second department take off their black decorations, and put on the red, and, also uncover the jewels. The candidate knocks on the door, and the Warden, for answer, shuts the door in his face. The Master of Ceremonies says: 'These marks of indignity are not sufficiently humiliating; you must pass through more rigorous proofs, before you can find it.' He then takes off the candidate the chasuble and black apron, and puts over him a black cloth, covered with ashes and dust, and says to him: 'I am going to conduct you into the darkest and most dismal place, from whence the word shall triumphantly come to the glory and advantage of Masonry.' He then takes him into the third apartment, and takes from him his covering, and makes him go three times around (showing him the representation of the torments of the damned), when he is led to the door of the chapter, and the Master of Ceremonies says to him: 'The horrors which you have just now seen are but a faint representation of those you shall suffer, if you break through our laws, or infringe the obligation you have taken.'" In a footnote, the editor says: "This certainly caps the climax, and renders the institution of Masonry complete. The torments of the damned, the awful punishment which the Almighty inflicts on the violators of his righteous law is but a faint emblem of the punishment which Masonry here declares shall be inflicted on the violators of Masonic law, or those who are guilty of an infraction of Masonic obligations!" But I get sick of pursuing these loathsome and blasphemous details; and I fear I shall so shock my readers that they will be as wearied as I am myself. In reading over these oaths, it would seem as if a Masonic lodge was a place where men had assembled to commit the utmost blasphemy of which they were capable, to mock and scoff at all that is sacred, and to beget among themselves the utmost contempt for every form of moral obligation. These oaths sound as if the men who were taking and administering them were determined to annihilate their moral sense, and to render themselves incapable of making any moral discriminations, and certainly, if they can see no sin in taking and administering such oaths under such penalties, they have succeeded, whether intentionally or not, in rendering themselves utterly blind, as regards the moral character of their conduct. By repeating their blasphemy they have put out their own eyes. Now these oaths mean something, or they do not. Masons, when they take them, mean to abide by them, or they do not. If they do not, to take them is blasphemy. If they do mean to abide by them, they are sworn to perform deeds, not only the most injurious to society, to government, and the church of God of any that can well be named, but they swear, in case of the violation of any point of these obligations, to seek to have the penalties inflicted on the violator. In other words, in such a case, they swear to commit murder; and every man who adheres to such obligations is under oath to seek to accomplish the violent death, not only of every man who shall betray the secrets, but, also, of everyone who shall violate any point or part of these obligations. Now, the solemn question arises, are these oaths a mere farce, a mere taking of the name of God in vain, in the most trifling manner, and under the most solemn circumstances? or, are we to understand that the Masonic institution is a conspiracy, its members taking, in all seriousness and good faith, such horrid oaths to do such horrid deeds, upon such horrid penalties? Which are we to understand to be true? If either is true. I ask the church of God, I ask the world, what more abominable institution ever existed than this? And yet we are told that in all this trifling with oaths, or, if not trifling, this horrid conspiracy, there is nothing inconsistent. with the Christian religion! And even ministers of the Gospel are found who can justify it and eulogize it in a manner most profane, and even blasphemous. Now, in charity, I suppose it to be true that the great mass of Masons, who are nominally so, and who have, in a hurry and under great excitement, taken more or less of the degrees, have only a very confused conception of what Masonry really is. Surely, if Masons really understood what Masonry is, as it is delineated in these books, no Christian Mason would think himself at liberty to remain another day a member of the fraternity. The fact is, a great many nominal Masons are not so in reality. It is as plain as possible that a man, knowing what it is, and embracing it in his heart, can not be a Christian man. To say he can is to belie the very nature of Christianity.
But here let me ask, in concluding this article, what is there in Masonry to justify the taking of such oaths, under such penalties? If there is any good in Masonry, why should it be concealed? and why should such oaths be taken to conceal it? If Masonry is an evil thing, and its secrets are evil, of course, to take any oath to conceal the wickedness is utterly unjustifiable. Does Masonry exact these oaths for the sake of concealing from outsiders the miserable falsehoods that they palm off upon their candidates, which everywhere abound in Masonry? But what is there in these stories, if true, that should be concealed? If Hiram Abiff was murdered, as Masons pretend; if the Ark of the Covenant, with its sacred contents, was really found in the vault under ground, as Masons pretend, is there any justifiable reason for concealing from the whole world these facts. I have sought in vain for a reason to justify the taking of any oaths at all in Masonry. And it is passing strange that such oaths, under such penalties, should ever have been so much as dreamed of by Masons as being justified by their secrets. The fact is, their stringent secrecy must be designed, in part, to excite the curiosity of men, and draw candidates into the snare. The highest Masonic authority has affirmed that their secrecy is essential to their existence; and that, if their secrets were exposed, the institution could not live. Now, this is no doubt true, and is the great reason, as I conceive, for guarding their secrets with such horrid oaths. But I said, in an early number, that Masonry is swindle. Where are the important secrets which they promise to their candidates? For what do the candidates pay their money but really to be imposed upon? But it may be well asked, why do Masons, once embarked in Masonry, go on, from one degree to another multiplying their oaths, obligations, and imprecations? When they are once within a lodge to take a degree, they dare not do otherwise than to go forward. I could quote numerous instances from the writings of seceding Masons showing how they have been urged from step to step, and assured, if they would proceed, that everything would be explained to their satisfaction. They have been told, as in the case of Mr. Allyn just noticed, that everything would be qualified and explained to their satisfaction. Upon Mr. Allyn, as we have seen, the Sir Knights drew their swords when he hesitated to go forward; and the Most Eminent informed him that he must. go forward, or their swords would avenge his disobedience.
The fact is, when once within the lodge, they dare not stop short of taking the obligation belonging to the degree; and they are persuaded by those who have taken higher degrees, to go forward from one degree to another.
And the great Masonic argument to keep them steadfast in concealing the imposition that has been practiced upon them, and to persuade them not to renounce and expose what they have passed through, is, that of having their throats cut, their tongues torn out by the roots, their heart and vitals torn out and thrown to the vultures of the air, drowning and murder.
Masons profess not to invite or persuade any to join the lodges; and the candidates, when they come forward for their degrees, are asked if they come forward of their own free will and accord. To this, of course, they answer, yes.
But what has made them willing? They have been persuaded to it. They have been invited to join; --they have been urged to join; motives of self-interest have been set before them in such a light as to gain their consent. They are thus made willing; and, therefore, truthfully say, that they do it of their own free will and accord.
But it is almost, if not quite, the universal testimony of renouncing Masons, that they were persuaded to it. They were made willing to join by such representations as overpersuaded them. I do not believe that one in five hundred of those who join the Masonic lodge, join without being persuaded to do so. But let me say also, that the great mass of Freemasons have never taken more than the first three degrees. They may know nothing about the higher degrees. Now in what sense are they responsible for the wickedness of the institution as revealed in the higher degrees? I answer, they would not be responsible at all, if they neither knew anything of those degrees, nor had any opportunity to know anything of them.
But as these books have been widely circulated, and are secretly kept by Masons, and are better known to Freemasons at present by far than they are to the outward world',--those who have taken the lower degrees, if they continue to sustain the institution, which is in reality a unit, become morally responsible for the wickedness of the higher degrees. But the obligations in the first three degrees are by no means innocent. They are such obligations as no man has any right to take or to administer. To adhere to the institution is to indorse it. But again, why do not Freemasons now, who have these books, and who know, or ought to know thoroughly the nature, designs, and tendency of the institution, publicly renounce the whole thing, confess their sin, and proclaim their independence of the order? I answer, first--They have seared their consciences by what they have done, and have, therefore, very little sense of the great sinfulness of remaining a member of such an abominable institution. I must say that I am utterly amazed at the want of conscientiousness among Masons on this subject. As I have said, they have put out the eyes of their moral sense, and do not at all appreciate the awful guilt of their position. And, secondly--They dare not. And if by their oaths they mean anything, it is not to be wondered at that they are afraid to renounce Freemasonry. Why the fraternity are under oath to persecute them, to represent them as perjured vagabonds, to destroy their characters, their business, and their influence, and to follow them from place to place, transferring their character after them during their whole natural life. This surely is enough to deter common men from renouncing their allegiance to the institution. To be sure, this danger does not excuse them; but weak as human nature is, it is not wonderful that it has its influence.
But again, Masons are under oath, if they renounce the order, to seek the destruction of their lives. And they have given terrible proof that their oaths are not a dead letter in this respect, not only in the murder of William Morgan, but of many others who have renounced their allegiance to the brotherhood. In a sermon which lies before me, delivered by Rev. Moses Thacher, a man well known in the Christian world, and who has himself taken many degrees of Masonry, he says: "The institution is dangerous to civil and religious rights. It is stained with blood. I have reliable historical evidence of not less than seven individuals, including Morgan, murdered under Masonic law." Since this sermon was preached other cases have come to light, and are constantly coming to light, in which persons have been murdered for disclosing Masonic secrets. And if the truth shall ever be known in this world, I believe it will be found that scores of persons, in this and other countries, have been murdered for unfaithfulness to Masonic obligations. Freemasons understand quite well the malignity of the spirit of Freemasonry. They understand that it will not argue, that it will not discuss the reasonableness or unreasonableness, the virtue or the sin of the institution; but that its argument is assassination. I am now daily in the receipt of letters from various parts of the country, expressing the highest satisfaction that anybody can be found who dares write against the institution at this day. The fact is, there are a great many men belonging to the institution, who are heartily sick of it, and would fain be rid of it; but who dare not open their mouths or whisper to any individual in the world their secret abhorrence of the institution. But it is time to speak out. And I do beg my brethren in the ministry, and the whole Christian Church, to examine it for themselves, and not turn away from looking the evil in the face until it is too late.
PERVERSE AND PROFANE USE OF THE HOLY BIBLE
In this number I wish to call the attention of my readers to some of the cases in which Freemasons misapply and misrepresent, and most profane]y, if not blasphemously, use the Holy Scriptures.
I will not go far into the sickening details; but far enough, I trust, to lead serious persons to reflect upon the nature of a society that can trifle with such solemn things.
The "Knights of the East and West" take the following oath, and then pass through the following ceremonies:--See pp. 214--220 of the first edition, or eighth edition, 230--240, of Bernard's Light on Masonry --"I ----, do promise and solemnly swear and declare, in the awful presence of the only One Most Holy, Puissant, Almighty, and Most Merciful Grand Architect of Heaven and Earth, who created the universe and myself through His infinite goodness, and conducts it with wisdom and justice; and in the presence of the Most Excellent and Upright Princes and Knights of the East and West, here present in convocation and grand council, on my sacred word of honor, and under every tie both moral and religious, that I never will reveal to any person whomsoever below me, or to whom the same may not belong by being legally and lawfully initiated, the secrets of this degree which are now about to be communicated to me, under the penalty of not only being dishonored, but to consider my life as the immediate forfeiture, and that to be taken from me with all the tortures and pains to be inflicted in manner as I have consented to in my preceding degrees. I further solemnly promise and swear that I will pay due obedience and submission to all the degrees beyond this, &c. All this I solemnly swear and sincerely promise upon my sacred word of honor, under the penalty of the severe wrath of the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth; and may He have mercy on my soul in the great and awful day of judgment agreeably to my conformity thereto. Amen. Amen. Amen. The All Puissant then takes the ewer filled with perfumed ointment, and anoints his head, eyes, mouth, heart, the tip of his right ear, hand, and foot, and says, "You are now, my dear brother, received a member of our society. You will recollect to live up to the precepts of it; and also remember that those parts of your body which have the greatest power of assisting you in good or evil, have this day been made holy." The Master of Ceremonies then places the candidate between the two Wardens, with the draft before him. The Senior Warden says to him, "Examine with deliberation and attention everything which the All Puissant is going to show you." After a short pause, he, the S.W., says, "Is there mortal here worthy to open the book with the seven seals?" All the brethren cast their eyes down and sigh. The Senior Warden hearing their sighs, says to them, "Venerable and respectable brethren, be not afflicted; here is a victim (pointing to the candidate) whose courage will give you content."
S.W. to the candidate, "Do you know the reason. why the ancients have a long beard?"
CAN. "I do not, but I presume you do."
S.W. "They are those who came here after passing through great tribulation, and having washed their robes in their own blood: will you purchase your robes at so great a price?"
CAN. "Yes; I am willing."
The Wardens then conduct him to the basin, and bare both his arms; they place a ligature on each, the same as in performing the operation of blood-letting. Each Warden being armed with a lancet, makes an incision in each of his arms just deep enough to draw a drop of blood, which is wiped on a napkin, and then shown to the brethren. The Senior Warden then says, "See, my brethren, a man who has spilled his blood to acquire a knowledge of your mysteries, and shrunk not from the trial."
Then the All Puissant opens the FIRST SEAL of the great book, and takes from thence a bone quiver filled with arrows, and a crown, and gives them to one of the Ancients, and says to him, "Depart and continue the conquest." He opens the SECOND SEAL, and takes out a sword, and gives it to the next aged, and says, "Go and destroy peace among the profane and wicked brethren, that they may never appear in our Council." He opens the THIRD SEAL, and takes a balance, and gives it to the next aged, and says, "Dispense rigid justice to the profane and wicked brethren." He opens the FOURTH SEAL, and takes out a skull, and gives it to the next aged, and says, "Go and endeavor to convince the wicked that death is the reward of their guilt." He opens the FIFTH SEAL, and takes out a cloth stained with blood, and gives it to the next aged, and says, "When is the time. (or the time will arrive) that we shall revenge and punish the profane and wicked, who have destroyed so many of their brethren by false accusations." He opens the SIXTH SEAL, and that moment the sun is darkened and the moon stained with blood! He opens the SEVENTH SEAL, and takes out incense, which he gives to a brother, and also a vase, with seven trumpets, and gives one to each of the seven aged brethren. After this the four old man in the four corners show their inflated bladders (beeves bladders filled with wind, under their arms), representing the four winds, when the All Puissant says: "Here is seen the fulfillment of a prophecy (Rev. vii. 3); strike not nor punish the profane and wicked of our order until I have selected the true and worthy Masons." Then the four winds raise their bladders, and one of the trumpets sounds, when the two Wardens cover the candidate's arms, and take from him his apron and jewels of the last degree. The second trumpet sounds, when the Junior Warden gives the candidate the apron and jewel of this degree. The third trumpet sounds, when the Senior Warden gives him a long beard. The fourth trumpet sounds, and the Junior Warden gives him a crown of gold. The fifth trumpet sounds, and the Senior Warden gives him a girdle of gold. The sixth trumpet sounds, and the Junior Warden gives him the sign, token, and words. The seventh trumpet sounds, on which they all sound together, when the Senior Warden conducts the candidate to the vacant canopy.
[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 canopy, is a representation of the end of the world, and the glorification of true Masons at the right hand of God, having "passed through the trials of Freemasonry," and "washed their robes in their own blood!" If this is not Antichrist, what is?" --Compiler.]
The editor also adds the following foot-note in explanation of the foregoing:-- "Compare the foregoing with the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of Revelation, and the reader will discover that the All Puissant represents Jehovah Seated on the throne of heaven; also, the Lamb of God, opening the seven seals. The Senior Warden represents the strong angel proclaiming: "Who is worthy to open the book," &c. The aged brethren, and the four old with bladders, the angels of God with power; and Masonry claiming its faithful servants as the servants of God, the 144,000 who were sealed in their foreheads, and of whom it is said, "These are they who were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb," &c. See Rev.14th chapter.
The following ceremonies are performed in the "Knights of the Christian Mark," found in the same book as the preceding, pp. 168--170; or eighth edition, 188--190:
"The Knights come to order; the Senior Knight takes his seat; the candidate continues standing; the conductor brings a white robe, the Senior Knight says: 'Thus saith the Lord, he that believeth and endureth to the end shall overcome, and I will cause his iniquities to pass from him, and he shall dwell in my presence for ever and ever. Take away his filthy garments from him, and clothe him with a change of raiment. For he that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment, and his name shall be written in the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father and His holy angels. He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the true believer. Set ye a fair miter upon his head, place a palm in his hand, for he shall go in and out, and minister before me, saith the Lord of hosts; and he shall be a disciple of that rod taken from the branch of the stem of Jesse. For a branch has grown out of His root, and the Spirit of the Lord hath rested upon it, the Spirit of his wisdom and might, and righteousness is the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins; and he stands as an insignia to the people, and him shall the Gentiles seek, and his rest shall be glorious. Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, everyone with the destroying weapon in his hand.' The six grand ministers come from the north with swords and shields. The first is clothed in white, and has an ink-horn by his side, and stands before the Invincible Knight, who says: 'Go through the city; run in the midst thereof, and smite; let not thine eye spare, neither have pity; for they have not executed my judgments with clean hands, saith the Lord of hosts.' The candidate is instructed' to exclaim: 'Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips and my dwelling has been in the tents of Kedar, and among the children of Meshec.' Then he that has the ink-horn by his side, takes a live coal with the tongs from the altar, and touches the lips of the candidate, and says: 'If ye believe, thine iniquities shall be taken away, thy sins shall be purged. I will that these be clean with the branch that is given up before me. All thy sins are removed, and thine iniquities blotted out For I have trodden the wine-press alone, and with me was none of my people for behold I come with dyed garments from Bozrah, mighty to save. Refuse not., therefore, to hearken; draw not away thy shoulders; shut not thine ear that thou shouldst not hear.' The six ministers now proceed as though they were about to commence the slaughter, when the Senior Knight says to him with the ink-horn: 'Stay thine hand; proceed no further until thou hast set a mark on those that are faithful in the house of the Lord, and trust in the power of his might. Take ye the signet, and set a mark on the forehead of my people that have passed through great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb, which was slain from the foundation of the world.' The minister takes the signet and presses it on the candidate's forehead. He leaves the mark in red letters, 'King of kings, and Lord of lords.' [Foot-note: 'The reader is requested to turn to the following passages:--Isa. vi. 5-7; Ps. cxx. 5; Isa. xliii.15; and lxiii. 1-3. Rev. viii. 2-14; and xix.16; and xv. 3; Zech. iii; 7. Song of Solomon viii. 6,7. The impious perversion of these passages is incapable of defense or excuse.] The Minister opens the scroll, and says: 'Sir Invincible Knight, the number of the sealed is one hundred and forty-four thousand.' The Invincible Knight strikes four, and all the knights stand before him. He says: 'Salvation belongeth to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb.' All the members fall on their faces, and say: 'Amen. Blessing, honor, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, and power, mighty majesty, and dominion, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.' They all cast down crowns and palm branches, and rise up and say: 'Great and numberless are thy works, thou King of saints. Behold, the star which I laid before Joshua, on which is engraved seven eyes as the engraving of a signet, shall be set as a seal on thine arm, as a seal on thine heart; for love is stronger than death, many waters cannot quench it. If a man would give all the treasures of his house for love, he cannot obtain it; it is the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.'"
The following is found in the Royal Arch degree, pp. 126, first edition, 137, eighth edition:
"Question.--'Are you a Royal Arch Mason?' Answer. --'I am that I am.'" [Note. "I AM THAT I AM, is one of the peculiar names of the Deity; and to use it as above, is, to say the least, taking the name of God in vain. How must the humble disciple of Jesus feel when constrained thus to answer the question, "Are you a Royal Arch Mason?"] Light on Masonry, seventh edition. On pp. 154, 155, we have a description of a ceremony in the same degree, as follows: "The candidates next receive the obligation, travel the room, attend the prayer, travel again, and are shown a representation of the Lord appearing to Moses from the burning bush. This last is done in various ways. Sometimes an earthen pot is filled with earth, and green bushes set around the edge of it, and a candle in the center; and sometimes a stool is provided with holes about the edge, in which bushes are placed, and a bundle of rags or tow, saturated with oil of turpentine, placed in the center, to which fire is communicated. Sometimes a large bush is suspended from the ceiling, around the stem of which tow is wound wet with the oil of turpentine. In whatever way the bush is prepared, when the words are read, 'He looked and behold the bush burned with fire,' etc., the bandage is removed from the eyes of the candidate, and they see the fire in the bush; and at the words, 'Draw not nigh hither, put off thy shoes,' etc., the shoes of the candidate are taken off, and they remain in the same situation while the rest of the passage to the words, 'And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God,' is read. The bandage is then replaced and the candidates again travel about the room while the next passage of Scripture is read."
[Note. "This is frequently represented in this manner: When the person reading comes to that part where it says, 'God called to him out of the midst of the bush, and said.' etc., he stops reading, and a person behind the bush calls out, 'Moses, Moses.' The conductor answers, 'Here am I.' The person behind the bush then says: 'Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.' His shoes are then slipped off. 'Moreover, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' The person first reading then says: 'And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.' At these words the bandage is placed over the candidate's eyes."] And, if any himself will examine, and read the books through for themselves, in which these revelations are made, they will find that the higher degrees are replete with the same shocking and monstrous perversion of the Scriptures. Many of the most solemn passages in the Bible are selected, read in their lodges, repeated by their candidates, and applied in a manner too shocking to read.
Here you observe the candidate taking the Royal Arch degree, when asked if he is a Royal Arch Mason, replies: "l am that l am;" which is represented in the Bible as being said by Jehovah himself. This answer was given by God to Moses when he inquired after the Divine name. God answered, "I AM THAT I AM." Just think! a Christian, when inquired of if he is a Royal Arch Mason, affirms of himself "I am that I am," taking to himself the name of the God of Israel.
Again, in this representation of the burning bush, the candidate is told to take off his shoes from off his feet, for the place on which he stands is holy ground; and then the Master of the lodge claims to be the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. Now how awfully profane and blasphemous is this!
Again, observe that that most solemn scene, depicted in the ninth chapter of Ezekiel, is misapplied in the most profane manner. Reader, the chapter is short; will you not take your Bible and read it?
So again, in those chapters in Revelation, the opening of the seals by the Son of God is misapplied, and profanely misrepresented. Just think! Four aged men, with bladders filled with wind, are made to represent the four angels that hold the four winds from desolating the earth till the servants of God were sealed in their foreheads. What a shocking misapplication and misrepresentation do we find here! And the cases are numerous in which, as I have said, the most solemn passages in the Word of God are used in their mummeries and childish ceremonies, in so shocking a manner that we can hardly endure to read them. I beg my Christian readers to examine these books for themselves, and then see what they think of the assertions of so many professors of religion, and even of professed Christian ministers, that "there is nothing in Freemasonry inconsistent with the religion of Jesus Christ!" I cannot imagine anything more directly calculated to bring the Word of God into contempt, than such a use of it in Masonic lodges. It is enough to make one's blood curdle in his veins to think that a Christian minister, or any Christian whatever, should allow himself to pass through such an abominable scene as is frequently represented in the degrees of Masonry:--multiplying their horrid oaths, heaping one imprecation upon another, gathering up from every part of the Divine oracles the most solemn and awful sayings of Jehovah, and applying them in a manner so revolting, that the scene must make a Christian's heart tremble, and his whole soul to loathe such proceedings.
In some of my numerous letters I am requested to quote the oaths entire. But this would be to rewrite a great part of the books in which Masonry is revealed. Some of these degrees have several different oaths to sustain them, filling several pages of the work. I can only give parts of these oaths, and must leave the readers to consult the books for themselves which I beseech them to do.
FREEMASONRY IMPOSES ON THE IGNORANT
In what is called the "Sublime Degree of Master Masons" there are the following gross misrepresentations worthy of notice:
First, Hiram Abiff is represented as going daily into the Most Holy place for secret prayer; whereas the Bible representation is that no one was allowed to enter the Most Holy place, except the high priest. Neither Solomon nor Hiram were allowed to enter it. And the high priest was allowed to enter it only once a year, and that on the great day of atonement "not without blood, which he offered first for himself and then for the errors of the people."
Again, this Hiram is represented in Masonry as having been murdered by three ruffians, who demanded of him the Master's word.
As he refused to give it, they murdered him, and buried him at a distance from Jerusalem, in a grave "six feet deep perpendicular," where he remained fourteen days.
Then, after a great deal of twaddle and misrepresentation in regard to the supposed circumstances of his murder and burial, Solomon is represented as raising him from this depth in the earth by the Master's grip, and that "upon the five points of fellowship," which are, "foot to foot, knee to knee, breast to breast, hand to back, and mouth to ear."
It is no wonder that infidel Masons should ridicule the credulity of professed Christian Masons in crediting such a ridiculous story as this.
Again, Masonry goes on to represent that, after Hiram was thus raised from this grave, six feet deep--"foot to foot, knee to knee, breast to breast, hand to back, and mouth to ear."--he was brought up to Jerusalem, and buried under the Most Holy place in King Solomon's Temple. I will quote from the lecture of this degree, as found in the seventh edition of Bernard, p. 81; "Question[speaking of the body].--What did they do with the body? Answer.---Raised it in a Masonic form, and carried it up to the temple for more decent interment. Q.--Where was it buried? A.--Under the Sanctum Sanctorum, or Holy of Holies, over which they erected a marble monument, with this inscription delineated thereon, A virgin weeping over a broken column, with a book open before her; in her right hand a sprig of cassia; in her left, an urn; Time standing behind her, with his hands infolded in the ringlets of her hair."
Now, observe, this burial was under the Most holy place in King Solomon's Temple; and the marble monument was erected over it, and consequently must have been in the Most Holy place itself. Does not every careful reader of the Bible know that this is false? We have a minute description in the Bible of everything relating to the Most Holy place--its form, size, embellishments, and of every article of furniture there was in it. No such statue was ever there, and the whole story is a gross falsehood.
But let me quote a little further from this lecture, continuing on page 81: "Q.--What does a Master's lodge represent? A.--The Sanctum Sanctorum, or Holy of Holies of King Solomon's Temple. Q.--How long was the temple building? A.--Seven years; during which it rained not in the daytime, that the workmen might not be obstructed in their labor." This is a likely story! Is there anything of this kind in the Bible? And does anyone believe that a miracle of this kind could have been wrought without having been recorded in the Bible? But again: Q.--What supported the temple? A.--Fourteen hundred and fifty-three columns, and two thousand one hundred and six pilasters, all hewn from the finest Parian marble." Where did they get this? Again: "Q.--What further supported it? A.--Three grand columns or pillars. Q.--What were they called? Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty. Q.--What did they represent? A.--The pillar of Wisdom represented Solomon, King of Israel, whose wisdom contrived the mighty fabric." But the Bible represents Solomon as having received the whole plan of the temple from David, who received it directly from God. Solomon never contrived the building at all.--1 Chon., xxviii. 11,12,20.
Again, on page 82, we have the following: "Q.--How many constitute a Master's lodge?--Three Master Masons. Q.--Where did they usually meet? A.--In the sanctum sanctorum, or Holy of holies of King Solomon's Temple." Now, this misrepresentation is kept up; and in the work of making a Master Mason they make the lodge represent the Most Holy place in King Solomon's Temple. A Masonic lodge in the Most Holy place of King Solomon's Temple! What an absurd, unscriptural, and ridiculous representation is this! And yet this is seriously taught to the candidate whenever a Master Mason is made.
But, again, this whole representation in regard to Hiram Abiff is utterly false. If any one will examine the fourth chapter of 2 Chron. he will see that Hiram Abiff finished the work for which he was employed; and, so far as we can get any light from the Bible, he must have lived till after the temple was finished. Where and when he died we know not, as he, no doubt, returned to Hiram, King of Tyre, who sent him to assist Solomon. But that he died in the manner represented by Freemasons, that he was buried in a grave six feet deep, and raised upon the five points of fellowship, that he was then buried again under the Most Holy place of King Solomon's Temple, and a marble monument erected in the Most Holy place to his memory, is a glaring falsehood.
Again, Masonry teaches that the Master's word could only be given by three persons standing in a peculiar attitude, and each one repeating one of its syllables. That this word was known at the time by only three persons, Solomon, Hiram, King of Tyre, and Hiram Abiff; and that, consequently, when Hiram was killed, the word was lost, as they were under oath never to give it except in that particular manner.
Now, in the Royal Arch degree, Masonry professes to give an account of the manner in which that word was recovered.
Some men, it is said, were employed in digging about the temple, and discovered a stone, which proved to be the key-stone of an arch covering a vault deep under ground, constructed, as it is said, by Hiram Abiff, in which they found the Ark of the Covenant.
On pp. 78, 79, of Richardson's "Monitor of Freemasonry," we have their explanation of this pretended discovery as follows. On p. 78: "Principal Sojourner.-- Most Excellent, in pursuance of your orders, we repaired to the secret vault and let down one of our companions. The sun at this time was at its meridian height, the rays of which enabled him to discover a small box or chest standing on a pedestal, curiously wrought and overlaid with gold, * * * We have brought this chest up for the examination of the Grand Council. High Priest [looking with surprise at the Ark].--Companion King this is the Ark of the Covenant of God. King [looking at it.]--It is undoubtedly the true Ark of the Covenant, Most Excellent. High Priest [taking the Ark].--Let us open it, and see what valuable treasure it may contain. [Opens the Ark, and takes out a book.] High Priest to the King.--Companion, here is a very ancient looking book. What can it be? Let us read it. [Reads the first three verses of the first chapter of Genesis.]"
After reading several other passages, the High Priest says: "This is a book of the law--long lost, but now found. Holiness to the Lord! [He repeats this twice]. King.--A book of the law--long lost, but now found. Holiness to the Lord! Scribe repeats the same. High Priest to Candidates--You now see that the world is indebted to Masonry for the preservation of this sacred volume. Had it not been for the wisdom and precaution of our ancient brethren, this, the only remaining copy of the law, would have been destroyed at the destruction of Jerusalem." After several further misrepresentations, on p. 79, we have the following: "Looking again into the Ark, the High Priest takes out four pieces of paper, which he examines closely, consults with the king and scribe, and then puts them together so as to show a key to the ineffable characters of this degree. After examining the key, he proceeds to read by the aid of it the characters on the four sides of the Ark. High Priest reading first side: Deposited in the year three thousand. Second side: By Solomon, King of Israel. Third side: Hiram, King of Tyre, and Hiram Abiff. Fourth side: For the good of Masonry generally, but the Jewish nation in particular." If any one will consult the ceremonies just as they occur, and as they are recorded by Richardson, he will see to what an extent the candidate is misinformed and deceived in this degree. And the same in substance may be learned from "Light on Masonry." Now, observe, Masonry teaches in this most solemn manner that in Solomon's time the Ark of the Covenant, with its sacred contents, was buried in a vault by Solomon and the two Hirams.
Solomon was only the third king of Israel. And when did he have this Ark buried? Did it not stand in the Most Holy place during his own reign? Was not the Ark of the Covenant, with its sacred contents, in the Most Holy place in the temple after Solomon's day? What reader of the Bible does not know that this representation of Masonry is false ? Again, the candidate is also falsely taught that the world is indebted to Masonry for preserving the book of the law; that, but for this discovery of the Ark with its contents in that vault, no book of the law would have been preserved, as this was the only copy in existence. But this, again, is utterly false. Masonry teaches that, but for the discovery of this volume, the Bible would have been lost at the destruction of Jerusalem. But there is no truth in this; for copies had been multiplied before the first, and still further multiplied before the last, destruction of Jerusalem.
The following examples I extract from Professor Morgan's report: "It is alleged that, in consequence of the murder of Hiram Abiff; a particular keystone failed of its designation; but that Solomon caused search to be made for it, when it was found by means of certain initial letters which Hiram had employed as a mark. These letters were the initials of the English words, Hiram, Tyrian, widow's son sent to King Solomon. These initial letters are now employed as the mark of the Mark Master's degree. Masons sometimes wear a seal or trinket with these letters on it. I have seen them exhibited in a picture of a seal or badge in a widely circulated Masonic manual. Here we have Hiram, who never could have known one word of English--the English language not existing till thousands of years after his time--employing the initials of eight English words as his mark. And, in honor of his employing them, Mark Masters display them as their mark, and thus display the ignorance or imposture of their craft."
Another alleged historic fact is given in Richardson's "Monitor of Freemasonry," p. 155--the Gold Plate story. "In the ceremonies connected with the degree of 'Grand Elect, Perfect, and Sublime Mason,' the Master says: 'I will now give you the true pronunciation of the name of the Deity as revealed to Enoch; and he engraved the letters composing it on a triangular plate of gold, which was hidden for many ages in the bowels of the earth, and lost to mankind. The mysterious words which you received in the preceding degrees are all so many corruptions of the true name of God which was engraved on the triangle of Enoch. In this engraving the vowel points are so arranged as to give the pronunciation thus, YOWHO. This word, when thus pronounced, is called the Ineffable word, which cannot be altered as other words are; and the degrees are called, on this account, Ineffable degrees. This word, you will recollect, was not found until after the death of Hiram Abiff; consequently, the word engraved by him on the ark is not the true name of God.'
"Here we have a most ridiculous piece of imposture, more than parallel with the gold plate imposture of Mormonism. Every Hebrew scholar of the most moderate attainments knows that the vowel points, here alleged to have been used by Enoch before the flood, did not even exist till six or eight centuries after the birth of Christ. Besides, the merest smatterer in Hebrew, with very little thought. would know that the name of God could not, by any proper arrangement of vowels, be pronounced in this way.
"The story could impose only on the grossest ignorance, or most careless inconsiderateness."
To quote all that is scandalously false in its teachings and pretensions would be to quote these books almost entire. We hear professed Christians, and even ministers, claiming that Freemasonry enables them to better understand the Bible. Can it be that they are so ignorant as to believe this? But this is often urged as an inducement to join the lodge. Indeed Masonry claims that, to this day, none but Freemasons know even the true name of God. After Enoch's day, the Divine name was unknown until recovered by Freemasons in the days of Solomon, and that this true name of God is preserved by them as a Masonic secret. Of course, all others are worshiping they know not what. So this is Masonic benevolence and piety, to conceal from all but their craft the name of the true God. How wise and benevolent Freemasonry is! I wonder how many ministers of the Gospel are engaged in keeping this secret! They only of all ministers know the true name of God, and have joined a conspiracy to conceal it from all but Masons!
Before I close this number, I wish to ask Freemasons who have taken the degrees above the Fellow craft, or second degree, have you believed the teaching of these degrees, as you have taken them one after another? Have you believed that the lodges, chapters, commanderies, etc., were really erected to God, and consecrated to the holy order of Zerubbabel and St. John? Have you believed what you are taught in the Master's degree, respecting King Solomon, Hiram, king of Tyre, and Hiram Abiff? Have you believed the teachings of the Royal Arch degree, and of all those degrees in which King Solomon figures so largely? Have you believed that to Masonry the church owes the preservation of the only remaining copy of the law of God ? Have you believed the Gold Plate story, that Enoch lived in the place where the Temple of Solomon was afterward built, that he built, deep in the earth, nine arches, one above the other, in which, on the place where the temple was afterward built, he deposited a golden plate on which was written the true name of God, that this name was written with the Hebrew vowels attached, and that its true pronunciation is YOWHO, as Masonry teaches? Now you have believed these, and other outrageous falsehoods taught in Masonry, or you have not. If you have believed them, you have been greatly imposed upon, you have been grossly deceived. Will you allow yourselves to still give countenance to an institution that teaches such falsehoods as these? Had I space I could fill scores of pages with the palpable falsehoods which Masonry teaches its membership: How can you adhere to an institution so basely false and hypocritical as this? The secrets are all out. Both you and the world are now made aware of the base falsehoods that are palmed off upon its members by Freemasonry. Professed Christian Freemason, how can you hold up your head either in the church or before the world, if you still adhere to this most hypocritical institution? Just think of the Worshipful Masters, the Grand High Priests, in their mitres and priestly robes, the great and pompous dignitaries of Masonry arrayed in their sacerdotal robes, solemnly teaching their members such vile falsehoods as these, claiming that to Freemasons the church owes the preservation of the law of God, and that the true name of God is known only to Freemasons! Shame! But I said you have either been made to believe these things or you have not. If you have never believed them, pray, let me ask you how it is that you have ever given any countenance to this institution when you did not at all believe its teaching? How is it that you have not long since renounced and denounced an institution whose teaching is replete with falsehoods taught under the most solemn circumstances? These falsehoods are taught as Masonic secrets, under the sanction of the most awful and solemn oaths. What shall we say of an institution that binds its members by such oaths, to keep and preserve as truth and secrets, such a tissue of profane falsehood? You see nothing in it inconsistent with Christianity! Why, my dear brother, how amazing it is that you can be so blinded! Are you not afraid that you shall be given over to believe a lie, that you may be damned, because you believe not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness
MASONRY SUSCEPTIBLE OF CHANGE ONLY BY ADDITIONS
In proof of this, I first appeal to the testimony of Masons themselves. Hear the testimony, given under oath, of Benjamin Russell, once Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. His and other depositions were given in Boston, before a justice of the peace, by request of Masons themselves. Observe, he was an ex-Grand Master of one of the most important lodges in the world. This surely is conclusive Masonic authority. He says: "The Masonic institution has been, and now is, the same in every place. No deviation has been made, or can be made at any time, from its usages, rules and regulations." Observe, he does not say that no additions can be made, but no deviations. He proceeds: "Such is its nature, that no innovations on its customs can be introduced, or sanctioned, by any person or persons. DeWitt Clinton, the former Governor of New York and Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York and of the United States, also made an affidavit on the same occasion. He says: "The principles of Masonry are essentially the same and uniform in every place" (Powell, p. 40, as quoted by Stearns). In Hardy's Monitor, a standard Masonic work, we have the following, p. 96: "Masonry stands in no need of improvement; any attempt, therefore, to introduce the least innovation will be reprobated not by one, but by the whole fraternity." The Grand Lodge of Connecticut asserts: "It is not in the power of man, nor in any body of men, to remove the ancient landmarks of Masonry" (Allyn's Rituals p. 14). These are the highest Masonic authorities, and to the same effect might be quoted from all their standard works.
Second.--From the nature of the institution it cannot be changed, except by addition. In proof of this I observe
I. That Masonry is extended over the civilized world, at least Masons themselves boast that it includes men of every language, and of every clime. They claim for Masonry that it is a universal language; that men of every country and language can reveal themselves to each other as Freemasons; that by their signs and grips and pass words, etc., they can not only know each other as Masons, but as having taken such and such degrees of the order, that as soon as they reveal themselves to each other as having taken certain degrees of Masonry, they know their obligations, each to the other--what they may demand or expect of each other, and what each is under oath to do for the other. Now this must be true, or of what avail would Masonry be to those who are traveling through different countries, where there are different languages. Unless their methods of knowing each other were uniform, universal, and unchangeable, it is plain that they could not know each other as Masons. It is true in some particular localities there may be an additional pass word or sign, to indicate that they belong to that locality, but in all that is essentially Masonic, it must be universal and unchangeable.
II. The same is true with respect to their oaths. They must all, in every place, be under the same obligations to each other, or it would introduce endless confusion and uncertainty. Every Mason, of every place, must know that every other Mason, having taken the same degrees, has taken the same oaths that he himself has taken; that he owes the same duties, and can claim the same privileges of any other Mason of the same degree. If this were not so, Masonry would be of no value among strangers. Furthermore, if their obligations were not exactly alike, they would necessarily be betrayed into violating them. If they found that they claimed duties of each other which were not necessarily imposed by the obligations of both, or claimed privileges of each other not conferred by the obligations of both, they would in this way make each other acquainted with their respective obligations which were not in fact alike. Thus each would reveal to the other, secrets which he was sworn to keep.
III. The oaths of every degree, from the lowest to the highest, must be uniform, everywhere the same, and unchangeable. If they were not the same in every country, in every language, and at every time, Masonry would be a perfect babel. Now degrees may be added ad infinitum, but a Mason of any degree must Know that Masons of the same degree in every place, have taken the same oath that he has taken, and have taken all the oaths of the previous degrees, just as he has himself. If this were not true, Masons could not everywhere know with what they might entrust each other. Suppose, for example, that the obligation to conceal each other's crimes, and to keep each other's secrets, was not universal and unchangeable, how would they know with what they might trust each other in different places? Suppose the obligation to assist each other in getting out of any difficulty, whether right or wrong, was not uniform and universal, how would they know what they might demand of, or were under obligation to perform for, each other? But can not its objectionable points, it may be asked, be dropped out, and what is valuable preserved? Drop from the obligation, for instance, in any place, the clause that binds them to keep each other's secrets, murder and treason excepted, or without exception,--to deliver each other from difficulty, whether right or wrong, to give each other precedence in business or politics, to give each other warning of any approaching danger and the like. Now if you drop out any one of these, at any time or place, you introduce confusion, and Masons could not understand each other. Furthermore, drop out the most objectionable features of Masonry, and you have robbed it of its principal value to the membership, you have annihilated the principal reasons for becoming and for remaining a Mason. But the changes are manifestly impossible. There is nowhere any authority for such change; and, as has been stated, the whole fraternity would rebuke any attempt at such innovation. We may rest assured, therefore, that Freemasonry is not, and can not be, essentially changed, except by addition. To this point all their highest authorities bear the fullest testimony. Its very nature forbids essential innovations at any time or in any place. But should Masons affirm that the institution is changed, how are we to know what changes have been made? They are under oath to keep this a profound secret. Suppose they were to affirm that, since the revelations made by Morgan, Bernard, and others, the institution has been greatly improved, this is a virtual admission that those books are true, which they have so often denied. But since they have first denied that those books were true, and now virtually admit their truth, by claiming that Masonry has been improved since those books were written, what reason have we to believe them? I have, in a previous number, shown that it is irrational to believe what Masons themselves say in respect to their secrets. I do not know that any intelligent and respectable Freemason pretends that Masonry has been improved. But suppose they should, how shall we know in what respects it has been improved, that we may judge for ourselves whether the changes are improvements. If any number of them were now to affirm that Masonry, as it now exists, is divested of all the objectionable features that formerly belonged to it, how shall we know whether this is true? They have always denied that it had any objectionable features; they have always claimed that it needed no improvement, and their highest authorities have many times affirmed that all improvement and innovation were impossible. In view of all the testimony in the case, we have no right to believe that Masonry is at all improved from what it was forty years ago. As late as 1860, Richardson revealed sixty-two degrees of Masonry as it then existed. It was then the same in every essential feature as when Bernard made his revelation in 1829, and when Avery Allyn made his revelation in 1831. We are all, therefore, under the most solemn obligations to believe that Masonry is, in all important particulars, just what is has been since its various degrees have been adopted and promulged. We certainly do greatly err and sin, if, in view of all the facts, we assume, and act upon the assumption, that Freemasonry is divested of its immoral and obnoxious features. Such an assumption is utterly unwarranted, because, on the one hand, there is no evidence of the fact, and, on the other, there is positive and abundant proof that no such change has been made. We are all, therefore, responsible to God and to humanity for the course we shall take respecting the institution. We are bound to judge of it, and to treat it, according to the evidence in the case, which is, that, Freemasonry is necessarily a wicked institution, and incapable of thorough moral reformation.
I have spoken frequently of its having the character, in certain respects, of a mutual aid, or mutual insurance, company. It is inquired, are all these necessarily wicked? I answer, no. The benefits of these institutions may be real and great. For example, an insurance company that insures persons against loss by shipwreck, by fire, or by what we call accident of any kind, may be very beneficial to society. When they help each other in cases of calamity that involve no crime, they are not necessarily wicked, but may be very useful. The benefits of these companies are open to all upon reasonable conditions; and if any do not reap the fruits of them, it is not the fault of the society, but of those who neglect to avail themselves of its benefits. But Freemasonry is by no means a mere insurance or mutual aid society. The moral character of any institution must depend on the end at which it aims; that is, the moral character of any society is found in the end it is intended to secure. Mutual aid and insurance companies, as they exist for business purposes, do not necessarily deprive any one of his rights, and are often highly useful. The members of such societies or companies do not know each other, nor exert over each other any personal influence whatever. They are not bound by any oath to render each other any unlawful assistance, to conceal each other's crimes, nor "to espouse each other's cause, whether right or wrong." There is no clannish spirit engendered by their frequent meeting together, nor by mutual pledges under the most awful oaths and penalties, to treat each other with any favoriteism under any circumstances. But Freemasonry, on the contrary, does pledge its members by the most solemn oaths, to aid each other in a manner that sets aside the rights of others. For example, they are sworn first, in the Master's degree, to conceal each other's crimes, "murder and treason only excepted;" second, in the Royal Arch degree, "murder and treason not excepted;" in this same degree they swear to endeavor to extricate each other, if involved in any difficulty, whether they are right or wrong; third, they also swear to promote each other's political elevation in preference to any one of equal qualifications who is not a Freemason; fourth, to give each other the preference in business transactions. --See Richardson's Monitor of Freemasonry, p. 92. Degree of Secret Monitor: "I furthermore promise and swear, that I will caution a brother Secret Monitor by signs, word, or token, whenever I see him doing, or about to do, any thing contrary to his interest in buying or selling. I furthermore promise and swear, that I will assist a brother Secret Monitor in preference to any other person by introducing him to business, by sending him custom, or in any other manner in which I can throw a penny in his way." They swear "to represent all who violate their Masonic oaths as worthless vagabonds, and to send this character after them to ruin their business and their reputation wherever they may go and be to the end of their lives." They also swear to seek the condign punishment of all such in the infliction of the penalties of their oaths upon them. They swear to seek their death. They swear to a stringent exclusiveness, excluding from their society all that would most naturally need aid and sympathy, and receiving none who are not "physically perfect." Old men in dotage, young men in nonage, all women, idiots and other needy classes, are all excluded. Freemasonry has a vast fund of money at its disposal. The fraternity are very numerous. They boast of numbering in this country at the present time six hundred thousand, and that they are multiplying faster than ever. They permeate every community, and their influence is almost omnipresent. Of course, such an aid society as this will everywhere and in every thing ignore and trample on the rights of others to secure advantages for each other. As an illustration of the workings of this society, I make an extract or two from "The American Freemason," published in Louisville, Kentucky, dated April 8, 5854, that is 1854, and edited by Robert Morris, an eminent Masonic author. From the eighty-fifth page I quote as follows: "Lynn, Indiana.-- In hauling a load of pork to the depot a year or two since, I found the rush of wagons so great that the delivery was fully three days behind. This was a serious matter to me, for I could not lose so much time from my business, and was seriously weighing the propriety of going on to Cincinnati with my load, when the freight agent, learning from a casual remark of mine, that I was a Freemason, was kind enough at once to order my errand attended to, and in three hours I was unloaded, and ready, with a light heart, to set my face homeward. Is it not an admirable thing, this Masonic spirit of brotherly love?" To this the editor adds: "Verily it is. We have seen it in many varieties of form, but our kindhearted brother's is but an every-day experience of Masonic practice, but to the world how inexplicable do such things appear." Here we have a specimen of Masonic brotherly love. But was this right, to give this preference to this man, and wrong all who were there before him, and had a right to have. their business done before him! He gained three days' time, and saved the expense of waiting for his turn, whilst others were obliged to lose both the time and expense. And this we are coolly told, by high Masonic authority, is the "constant practice of Freemasons." What an exquisite brotherly love is this. It is delicious! But this is in entire accordance with the spirit of their oaths. But is it not a trampling on the rights of others! In this same paper we have, in an illustration of the nature of Freemasonry, a tale, the substance of which is, that a criminal, under sentence of death, was set free by Freemasons under the pretense that he was not guilty of the murder for which he was condemned. So they took the case into their own hands, and set aside the judgment of the court and jury. Observe, this is given as an illustration of the manner in which Freemasons aid each other.
These cases are given as their own boast of specimens of their brotherly love. But is this consistent with right and good government? The fact is, that it is impossible to engage in any business, to travel, to do any thing, to go anywhere, without feeling the influence of this and other secret societies. Wrongs are constantly inflicted upon individuals and upon society, of which the wronged are unaware. We can be wronged any day by a favoritism practiced by these societies, without being aware how or by whom we are wronged. I was informed of late, that in a large manufacturing establishment, poor men, dependent for their daily bread upon their labors in the factory, were turned out to give place to Freemasons who were no better workmen than themselves. Indeed it is inevitable that such a society should act upon such a principle. But it may be asked, can not Masonry be essentially reformed, so that it shall involve no wrong.? I answer, no, unless its very fundamental principle and aim be reversed, and then it would cease to be Freemasonry. In its workings it is a constant wrong inflicted upon society. It is an incessant and wide-spread conspiracy for the concealment of crime, to obstruct the course of justice, and, in many instances, to persecute the innocent and let the wicked go free. To reform it, its ends and its means must both be reformed. It must cease to be exclusive and selfish. It must cease to promise aid in many forms in which it does promise it. I have said that it was more than an innocent mutual aid society. Its members are pledged to aid each other in concealing iniquity, and in many ways that trample upon the rights of others.
And it is because this society promises aid in so many ways, and under so many circumstances, that men unite themselves to it. I have never heard any better reason assigned for belonging to it, than that, in many respects, one might reap a personal advantage from it. Now reform it, and make it a truly benevolent society; reform out of it all unrighteous favoritism, and all those forms of aid which are inconsistent with the universal good, and the highest well-being of society in general, and you have altered its essential nature; it is no longer Freemasonry, or any thing like Freemasonry. To reform it is to destroy it. In this view of Freemasonry, it is easy to see how difficult, if not impossible, it is for a man to be a consistent Freemason and yet a Christian. Just conceive of a Christian constantly receiving the preference over others as good as himself, in traveling, in railroad cars, on steamboats, at hotels, and everywhere, and in business transactions, and in almost all the relations of life, allowing himself to be preferred to others who have equal rights with himself. To be sure, in traveling, he may bless himself because he is so comfortable, and that so much pains are taken to give him the preference in every thing. If at a hotel, he may have the best seat at the table, and the best room in the house, and may find himself everywhere more favored than others.
But can he honestly accept this? Has he any right to accept it? No, indeed, he has not! He is constantly favored at the expense of others. He constantly has more than his right, while others are deprived of their rights. In other words, he is selfish, and that continually. He finds a personal benefit in it. Yes, and that is why he adheres to it. But again, if true to his oath, he is not only thus constantly receiving benefits unjustly, or to the injury of others, but also conferring them.
Whenever he sees a Masonic sign and recognizes a Masonic brother, he, of course, must do by him as a Freemason, as he himself is done by.
How can a man who is a Christian allow himself to be influenced by such motives as are presented in Freemasonry? Now let it be understood that all action is to be judged by its motive. No man has a right to receive or confer favors that interfere with the rights of others. And a man who can travel about the country and make himself known as a Freemason for the purpose of being indulged, and finding the best place in a hotel, or the best seat in a railroad car, or the best state-room in a steamboat, must be a selfish man, and can not be a Christian, --for a selfish man is not a Christian. Let it then be understood that Masonry in its fundamental principle, in which its moral character is found, is not reformed, and can not be reformed without destroying its very nature.
It can not be a part of general benevolence, but stands unalterably opposed to the highest well-being of society in general. The same, let me say, is true to a greater or less extent of all secret societies, whose members are bound by oath or pledge to treat each other with a favoritism that ignores the rights of others. Now, it has been said, and I think truly, that in the late war if a man wished preferment and high rank, he must be a high Mason. Such things were managed so much by high Masons that it was difficult for a man to rise in rank unless he could make himself known as a high Mason. And let the facts become known--and, I hope that measures will be taken to make them know--and I believe it will be found that the great mass of the lucrative offices in the United States are in the hands of the Freemasons.
It is evident that they are aiming to seize upon the government, and to wield it in their own interest. They are fast doing this, and unless the nation awake soon it will be too late. And let the church of God also awake to the fact that many of her ministers and members are uniting with a society so selfish and wicked as this, and are defending it, and are ready to persecute all who will not unite with them in this thing. What Mr. Morris said of the nature of Freemasonry, that is, that it was the constant practice of Freemasons to give each other the preference, as in the case of the man delivering his load, is really what every observant man, especially if he has ever been himself a Mason, knows to be true.
When Freemasons say that it is "a good thing" they mean by this that men reap personal advantage from it. But I am bound to say, that I should feel utterly ashamed to have any one offer to give me a right that belonged to others because I was a Mason.
It has been frequently said, by persons: "If I was going to travel, I would become a Freemason." A physician in the United States Army in the late war, said to a relative of his: "If I were going into the army again, I would be sure to become a Freemason. There is such a constant favoritism shown by Freemasons to each other, on every occasion, that were I going to take the field again, I would be sure to avail myself of the benefits of that institution." Now, in opposition to this, I would say, that were I going to travel, or were I going to enlist in the army, I should be ashamed to avail myself of any such benefits at all. It is not right that any such favoritism should exist, and any man ought to reject with indignation the proposal of such favoritism. Any man should blush, if he has entertained the thought of allowing himself to be placed in such a selfish position. But it is asserted, no doubt with truth, that oftentimes the lives of brother Masons have been spared, simply because of this relation. But shall a man save his life by wrongdoing? He had better remember, that if he attempts this, he ruins his own soul. He that would thus "save his life, shall lose it." A man can gain nothing in the end by wrong-doing; let him do right, and if, by so doing, he loses his life, he will be sure to save it. With my present knowledge of Freemasonry I would not become a Freemason to save my life a thousand times.
THE CLAIM OF FREEMASONRY TO GREAT ANTIQUITY IS FALSE
We have seen that Freemasonry has been truly revealed. We have examined its oaths, principles, claims, and teaching, so far as to prepare the way for an examination of its moral character and tendencies, and also its relations to both Church and State. This I now proceed to do. And
1. .Its claims to great antiquity are false. Every one at all acquainted with the claims of Freemasonry knows that it professes to have existed in the days of Solomon; and it is claimed that Solomon himself was a Freemason, and that John the Baptist and John the Evangelist were Freemasons. Indeed, the writers frequently trace it back as coeval with the creation itself. Masons have claimed for their institution an antiquity antecedent to human government; and from this they have argued that they have a right to execute the penalties of their oaths, because Masonry is older than government. Now an examination will show that this claim is utterly false. Their own highest authorities now pronounce it to be false; and still these claims are kept up, and their oaths and ceremonies, and the whole structure of the institution profess the greatest antiquity.
Solomon, for instance, figures as a Freemason everywhere in their ceremonies.
Their lodges are dedicated to St. John; and in the third degree there is a scene professed to have been enacted in the temple and at the building of the Temple of Solomon.
Now, all this is utterly fallacious, a false pretense, and a swindle; because it is the obtaining of money from those who join them under false pretenses.
Steinbrenner, a great Masonic historian, after much research, with manifest candor, says that Speculative Freemasonry --which is the only form of Freemasonry now existing-- dates no further back than 1717. The article on Freemasonry in the new "American Encyclopedia" agrees with this statement of Steinbrenner. Indeed, all modern research on this subject has resulted in dating the commencement of Freemasonry, as it now exists, not far from the middle of the eighteenth century.
Dr. Dalcho, the compiler of the book of constitutions for South Carolina, says: "Neither Adam, nor Noah, nor Nimrod, nor Moses, nor Joshua, nor David, nor Solomon, nor Hiram, nor St. John the Baptist, nor St. John the Evangelist, were Freemasons. Hypothesis in history is absurd. There is no record, sacred or profane, to induce us to believe that those holy men were Freemasons; and our traditions do not go back to those days. To assert that they were Freemasons may make the vulgar stare, but will rather excite the contempt than the admiration of the wise."
Now, observe, this is a high authority, and should be conclusive with Masons, because it is one of their own leaders who affirms this. But, if this is true, what shall we think of the claims of Freemasonry itself? For every one who reads these revelations of Freemasonry will see that Solomon, and Hiram, and those ancient worthies everywhere figure in these rites and ceremonies; so that, if these men were indeed not Masons, then Freemasonry is a sham, an imposture, and a swindle. What! has it come to this, that this boasted claim of antiquity, which everywhere lies at the foundation of Masonic rites, ceremonies, and pretensions, is now discovered to be false?
Through all the Masonic degrees the pretense is kept up that Masonry has always been one and the same; and that its degrees are ancient, and all its principles and usages of great antiquity. Let any one examine the books in which it is revealed, and he can not help being struck with this. Furthermore, in the orations, sermons, and puffs that are so common with Masons on all occasions on which they show themselves off, they flaunt their very ancient date, their very ancient principles and usages, and they pledge their candidates, from one degree to another, to conform to all the ancient rites, principles, and usages of the order.
But what shall we at the present day say of these pretensions? I have before me the Masonic Monthly for October, 1867, printed in Boston. It will not be denied, I suppose, that this is one of their standard authorities. At any rate, whatever may be said of the editor of this paper, it will not be denied that the authorities quoted in the discussions in this number are high, if not the very highest authorities in the Masonic fraternity. If I had space to quote nearly this entire number, I should be very happy to do so, for it is occupied almost entirely, from beginning to end, with exposing these pretensions to which I have alluded. It appeals to their own standard authorities; and insists that Speculative Freemasonry, in all its higher degrees, is an imposture and a swindle. It quotes their great historian Steinbrenner, of New York--to show that Speculative Freemasonry was first established in London, in 1717; and that at that time Masonry consisted probably, of but one degree. That about 1725 a Mr. Anderson added two degrees; and, as the writer in this number states, began the Christianizing of Freemasonry. There is at this day a great division among Freemasons themselves, the point of disagreement being this: One party maintains that the Christian religion is of no more authority with Masons than any other form of religion; that Masonry proper does not recognize the Bible as of any higher authority than the sacred books of heathen nations, or than the Koran of Mohammed; that Freemasonry proper recognizes all religions as equally valid, and that so far as Masonry is concerned it matters not at all what the religion of its adherents is, provided they be not Atheists. The other party maintains that Masonry is founded upon the Bible, and that it is substantially a Christian institution.
This controversy is assuming extensive proportions, and it is very interesting for outsiders to look into it. I say outsiders--and I might say it is important, and would be very creditable, for the members of the fraternity to understand this matter better than they do; for I doubt if one in twenty of them is posted in regard to the real state of this question among the fraternity themselves. Mr. Evans, who is the editor of this Masonic Monthly, takes the ground, and I think sustains it fully from their own authorities, that all the upper degrees of Masonry are an imposture.
He goes on to show where and by whom, in several important cases, these upper degrees were manufactured and palmed off on the brotherhood as ancient Freemasonry.
For example, he shows that Mr. Oliver, one of their most prolific authors, asserts that one of the grand lodges in London gave charters, about the middle of the eighteenth century, to the Masonic lodges in France; and that in France they immediately betook themselves to manufacturing degrees and palming them off on the public as of very ancient origin. They proceeded to manufacture a thousand of these degrees in France. Many of them they asserted they had received from Scotland; but the Grand Lodge of Scotland denied ever having known of those degrees.
It is also asserted in this number that the Royal Arch degree was at first but an appendage to a Master's lodge, and had no separate charter, and for a long time was not recognized at all as any part of Freemasonry. And it informs us when and by whom the Royal Arch degree was manufactured. This number also shows that many of the Masonic degrees have originated in Charleston, South Carolina; and that a man by the name of Webb, in Massachusetts, manufactured the Templars' degrees. In short, we find here their own standard authorities showing up all the higher degrees of Masonry as having been gotten up and palmed off on the fraternity in order to make money out of them; and is not this a swindle? I wish to call the attention especially of the fraternity to these statements in this number of the Masonic Monthly.
Indeed, it is now common for the highest and best informed Masons to ridicule the pretense that Speculative Freemasonry is an ancient institution, as a humbug and a lie, having no foundation in correct history at all. Now will Freemasons examine this subject for themselves?--for they have been imposed upon.
I am particularly anxious to have professed Christians who are Freemasons thoroughly understand this matter. They have regarded Freemasonry as entirely consistent with the Christian religion, and have professed to see in it nothing with which a Christian can not have fellowship. In the third, or Master's, degree we find the story of Hiram Abiff introduced into Masonry.
Now this number of the Monthly charges, that this class of Freemasons went on to construct all the subsequent degrees of Freemasonry from the Bible, by ransacking the whole Old and New Testaments for striking passages from which they could construct new degrees, thus leaving the impression that Masonry was a divine institution, and founded upon the Bible.
If professed Christians who are Freemasons will really examine this subject, they will see that a Masonic lodge is no place for a Christian.
But suppose it should be asked, may we not innocently take those degrees that are founded upon the Bible, and that recognize the Christian religion as of divine authority? I answer, Christians cannot be hypocrites. Let it be distinctly understood, that all these higher degrees are shown to be an imposture; and that this Christianizing of Freemasonry has consisted in heaping up a vast mass of falsehood, and of palming it off upon the fraternity as truth and as ancient Freemasonry.
Can Masonic orators be honest in still claiming for Speculative Masonry great antiquity, divine authority, and that it is a saving institution? Masons are themselves now showing that the whole fabric of Speculative Freemasonry is an enormous falsehood. Stone Masonry, doubtless, had its simple degree, and its pass words and signs by which they knew each other. It also had its obligations. But upon that little stem have been engrafted a great number of spurious and hypocritical degrees.
This does seem to be undeniable. Now will Freemasons be frank enough to acknowledge this, and to say frankly that they have been imposed upon? Will they come out from all fellowship with such an imposture and such a swindle?
It has then come at last to this, that the highest authority among Freemasons has taken the ground that the Freemasonry which has been so eulogized throughout the length and breadth of the land, and which has drawn in so many professed Christians and ministers, is nothing less than an enormous cheat. That those behind the curtain, who have manufactured and sold these degrees--those Grand Chapters and Encampments and Commanderies, and all those pompous assemblies--have been engaged in enticing the brotherhood who had taken the lower degrees, to come up into their ranks and pay their money, that they may line their pockets. Now remember that these positions are fully sustained by Masons themselves, as their views are set forth in this number of the Masonic Monthly.
I do most earnestly entreat Freemasons to inform themselves on this subject; and not turn around and tell us that they, being Freemasons, know more about it than we do ourselves. The fact is, my friends, many of you do not. You do not read. I have myself recently conversed with a Freemason who admitted to me that he was entirely ignorant of what was being said in Masonic periodicals on this subject. I do not believe that one in twenty of the Masonic fraternity in this country is aware of the intense hypocrisy with which all the higher degrees of Masonry have been palmed off upon them, and upon the whole fraternity. Can men of honor and of principle allow their names and influence to be used to sustain such an enormous mass of false pretension?
But again, no one can read Bernard on Masonry through, or any of these authors, without perceiving the most unmistakable evidence that most of the degrees in Masonry are of modern date. I do not know why so much stress should be laid upon the antiquity of Masonry by those who embrace and adhere to it. It surely does not prove that it is of any value, or that it is true. Sin is of very ancient date, heathenism is of very ancient date, and most of the abominations that are in the world are of very ancient date; but this is no reason tbr embracing them, or regarding them as of any great importance.
But to certain minds there is a charm in the appearance and profession of antiquity; and young Masons are universally deceived in this respect, and led to believe that it is one of the most ancient of existing institutions, if not the very most so. Now I would not object to Masonry because it is of modern origin; for this would not prove it to be false, if it did not profess to be of ancient origin. I notice this false pretense not because I think its being of recent date would prove it unworthy of notice, or of immoral character or tendency. But observe that its pretensions from first to last are that it is of very ancient date; and it is traced back to the days of inspiration, and is claimed to have been founded and patronized by inspired men.
What would Masonry be if all its claims to antiquity were stricken out, and if those degrees in Masonry, and those ceremonies and usages, were abolished that rest upon the claim that Solomon, that Hiram Abiff, and John the Evangelist, were Freemasons? What would remain of Freemasonry if all those claims found in the very body of the institution were stricken out? Why, their very lodges are dedicated to the holy order of St. John and Zerubbabel, etc. But what had St. John to do with Freemasonry? Manifestly nothing. He never heard or thought of it. Nor did Solomon or Zerubbabel.
And here let me say a word to young men who have been urged to unite with this fraternity, and who have been made to believe that the institution is so very ancient that it was established and patronized by those holy men. My dear young men, you have been deceived. You have been imposed upon as I was imposed upon. You have been made to believe a lie. They have drawn your money from you under false pretenses that some very ancient mysteries were to be revealed to you; and that the institution was one established as far back, at least, as the days of Solomon, and that St. John was the patron of the institution. Now this, rely upon it, is but a pretense, a sham, an imposture, and a swindle. I beg you to believe me; and if you will examine the subject for yourselves, you will find it to be true.
Your own best historian, Steinbrenner, will teach you that Freemasonry, as you know it, and as it is now universally known, dates no further back than the eighteenth century. And Dr. Dalcho, who is good authority with the brotherhood, as we have seen, repudiates the idea of its antiquity as that which "may make the vulgar stare, but will rather excite the contempt than the admiration of the wise." I know that Masons affirm that the institution in its present form is the descendant of a brotherhood of stone masons, whose history may be traced back for some seven hundred years. But remember that Freemasonry, as you know it, and as it now exists, is not at all what it was among those simple artisans. The name is preserved, and some of its symbols, for the purpose of claiming for it great antiquity. But do not be deceived. If you will examine the subject for yourselves, you will find that modern Freemasonry is entirely another thing from that from which it claims to be descended. And when you hear ministers, or orators, on any occasion, claiming for Speculative Freemasonry--which is the only form in which it now exists--a great antiquity, let it be settled, I pray you, in your minds, that such claims are utterly false; and that those who make them are either grossly ignorant or intensely dishonest. King Solomon a stone mason! Hiram a Grand Master of a Grand Lodge of stone masons! Those men uniting in a lodge with a company of stone masons! Does any one really believe the silly tale?
How long shall the intelligent of this generation be insulted by having this pretended antiquity of Freemasonry paraded before the public? Do not intelligent Freemasons blush to hear their orators on public occasions, and even ministers of the Gospel in their Masonic sermons, flaunt the silly falsehoods of the great antiquity of Freemasonry before the public, and claim that Enoch, Zerubbabel, Solomon, the St. Johns, and all the ancient worthies, were Freemasons?
THE BOASTED BENEVOLENCE OF MASONS A SHAM
The law of God requires universal benevolence, supreme love to God, and equal love to our neighbor--that is, to all mankind.
This the Gospel also requires, and this is deniable. But does Masonry inculcate this morality? and is this Masonic benevolence?
By no means. Masonic oaths require partial benevolence; or strictly, they require no benevolence at all. For real benevolence is universal in its own nature. It is good willing; that is, it consists in willing the well-being or good of universal being--and that for its own sake, and not because the good belongs to this or that particular individual.
In other words, true benevolence is necessarily impartial. But Masonic oaths not only do not require impartial and universal benevolence, but they require the exact opposite of this. The law and Gospel of God allow and require us to discriminate in our doing good between the holy and the wicked.
They require us to do good, as we have opportunity, to all men, but especially to the household of faith. But the Masonic oaths make no such discriminations as this, nor do they allow it. These oaths require Masons to discriminate between Masons and those that are not Masons; giving the preference to Masons, even if they are not Christians, rather than to Christians if they are not Masons.
Now this is directly opposite to both the law and the Gospel. But this is the benevolence and morality of Freemasonry, undeniably.
The law and the Gospel require our discriminations in our treatment of men to be conditional upon their holiness and likeness to God and their faith in Jesus Christ.
But the oaths of Freemasons require their discriminations to be founded upon the mere relation of a brother Mason, whatever his Christian or moral character may be.
It is not pretended that a man may not be a good and worthy Mason who is not a Christian. It is admitted and claimed by Freemasonry that a man's religion, or religious character, has nothing to do with his being a Mason. If he admits the being of a God this is enough.
Now this, I say again, is not only not in accordance with Christian morality, and with the law and Gospel of God; but it is directly opposed to both law and Gospel.
But, again, the utter want of true benevolence in the Masonic institution will further appear if we consider the exclusiveness of the institution. A minister in Cleveland, recently defending the institution of Masonry, declared that the glory of Masonry consists in its exclusiveness. But is this in accordance with the benevolence required in the Gospel?
Masonry, observe, professes to be a benevolent institution. But, first, it excludes all women from a participation in its rights, ceremonies, privileges, and blessings, whatever they may be. Secondly, it excludes all old men in their dotage. Thirdly, it excludes all young men in their nonage; that is, under twenty-one years of age. Several other classes are excluded; but these that I have named comprise a vast majority, probably not less than two-thirds of all mankind. Again, they admit no deformed person, and none but those who are physically perfect. In short, they admit none who are likely to become chargeable to the institution.
Some time since the Grand Lodge of the State of New York adopted a series of articles defining certain landmarks and principles of Freemasonry. These articles have been accepted and eulogized by the Masonic press. The first is as follows. I quote it from the American Freemason, edited by "Robert Morris, Knight Templar, and author of various Masonic works," with his preface and strictures. These articles Mr. Morris regards as high Masonic authority. The number from which I quote is dated at Louisville, Kentucky, 8th of April, 5854, Masonic date, in other words, in 1854, fourteen years ago.
"Our New York brethren are eminent for the matchless ability with which their Grand Lodge documents are prepared. In this department they have set the example for others, and there are yet a few that would do well to look to the East for more light. We copy their 'Thirty-four Articles' with some condensation and a few comments of our own, and present them to our readers as a well-digested system of Masonic law and practice.
"'Article I. It is not proper to initiate into our lodges persons of the negro race; and their exclusion is in accordance with Masonic law, and the ancient charges and regulations. Because of their depressed social condition; their general want of intelligence, which unfits them as a body to work in or adorn the craft; the impropriety of making them our equals in one place, when from their social condition and the circumstances which almost everywhere attach to them, we can not do so in others; their not being, as a general thing, free-born; the impossibility, or at least the difficulty, of ascertaining, if we once commence, their free birth, and where the line of intelligence and social elevation commences and ends, or divides portions of their race; and finally, their not being as a race "persons of good report," or who can be "well recommended" as subjects for initiation, their very seldom being persons who have any "trade, estate, office, occupation or visible way of acquiring an honest livelihood and working in the craft, as becomes members of this ancient and most honorable fraternity, who ought not only to earn what is sufficient for themselves and families, but likewise something to spare for works of charity and for supporting the ancient grandeur and dignity of the royal craft, eating no man's bread for naught;" and their general positive deficiency of natural endowments. All which would render it impossible, as a general thing, to conciliate and continue between them and us good will and private affection or brotherly love, which cements into one united body the members of this ancient fraternity.'
"COMMENT. These arguments can not be successfully controverted. We, in the Southern or slave-holding States, whose experience with the colored race is greater than that of others, affirm the New York doctrine in every particular. However occasional instances may be offered to the contrary, they are but the exceptions to prove the general rule, that the race ought not to amalgamate socially or physically.
"'ARTICLE II. No person of the negro race shall be examined or admitted as a visitor of any lodge of Masons under this jurisdiction, if made in an African lodge in North America. Because all such lodges are clandestine and without legal authority.'"
Here we have their benevolence unmasked. A depressed social condition is a bar to admission to this benevolent society. What if the Christian church should adopt such an article? Is this Christian benevolence? Is it consistent with Christian morality? Christian ministers, is this the morality you teach and practice? You profess to teach and practice the precepts of Christ, and join and hold fast to a society whose law is to exclude men for being in a depressed social position, whatever their wants, their moral and religious character may be. You boast of your benevolence and exclude the very class who have most need of sympathy and benevolence, and are you a professed disciple, and perhaps a professed minister of Jesus. Shame!
But is this real benevolence, or Gospel morality? No, indeed! It is the very opposite of Gospel morality or true benevolence. In a recent number of the National Freemason--I think its date is the 18th of January--it is admitted by the editor of that great national organ that benevolent institutions have been so much multiplied that there is now seldom any call upon Masons for charitable donations. Yes, but who has multiplied these benevolent societies? Surely Masons have not done this, Christians have done it. And Masonry now seems forced to admit that Christian benevolence has covered the whole field, and left them nothing to do. So far as I have had experience in Freemasonry, I can say that I do not recollect a single instance in which the lodge to which I belonged ever gave any money to any charitable object whatever.
As a Freemason, I never was called upon, and to my recollection I never gave a cent as a Freemason, either to an individual as a matter of charity or to any object whatever. My dues and fees to the lodges, of course, I paid regularly; but that the money thus collected was given to any charitable object whatever I do not believe.
Again, Freemasonry, at the best, is but a mutual insurance company. Their oaths pledge them to assist each other, if in distress or in necessitous circumstances; and each other's families, if left in want. This they can well afford to do, on the principle of mutual insurance: for they have vast sums, almost incalculable in amount, taking the whole fraternity together; and they can lay out almost any amount of money in fitting up their sumptuous lodges of the higher degrees, in building Masonic temples, in seeking each other's promotion to office, and in defending each other in case any one of them commits a crime and is liable to suffer for it.
The following estimate, taken from a note in the revised edition of Bernard's "Light on Masonry," p. 96, will give some idea how large are the sums held by Masons. "Supposing that in the United States there are 500,000 Entered Apprentices, 400,000 Masters, and 200,000 Royal Arch Masons, also 10,000 Knights, and that they all paid the usual fees for the degrees, the amount would be the enormous sum of $11,250,000; the yearly interest of which, at seven per cent is $787,500, which sum (allowing $100. to each individual) would support 7,875 persons.
Now, I ask: Do Masons, by their charities, support this number of poor in the United States? Do they support one-tenth part of this number? Supposing they do, is it necessary to give $10, or $50 for the privilege of contributing $1, $5, or $50 masonically? Must the privilege of being a charitable man be bought with gold? How many there are who have rendered themselves incompetent to bestow charities, by their payment for and attendance on Masonic secrets and ceremonies! If all the money paid for the degrees of Masonry was applied to charitable purposes, the subject would appear differently; but it is principally devoted to the erection of Masonic temples, support of the Grand Lodges, and for refreshment for the craft, and I think I may add, their support in kidnapping and murder."
It is no doubt true that but a very small part of their funds is ever used for the support of even their own poor. If it is, it behooves them to show it, and let the public know. They boast much of their benevolence; and the charities of Freemasons are frequent]y compared with those of the church--and that, too, boastfully; they maintaining that they are more benevolent and charitable, and do more for the poor and destitute than even the church has done.
But let us look at this. Is there any truth in all this boasting? What has Freemasonry done for general education in any part of the world? Let them tell us. Again, what has Freemasonry done for the general poor? Nothing. What have they done for their own poor, as a matter of charity and benevolence? Absolutely nothing. They have not even disbursed the funds which have been paid in for that purpose. Let them show, if they can, that on the principle of a mutual insurance society they have faithfully paid out to their own poor that fund which has been paid in by Masons for the purpose of securing to themselves and families, in case they should be reduced to poverty, what would meet their absolute necessities. We challenge them to show any such thing. We challenge them to show that, on the principle of benevolence and charity, they have really done anything for either the general poor or their own poor. They compare themselves with the Church of Christ in this respect! What have they done for the Southern poor during our great struggle, and during the long period of starvation and distress that has reigned in the South? What have Freemasons, as such, done for the freedmen? And what are they now doing? What have they done in any age of the world, as Freemasons, for Christian missions, for the conversion of the world, for the salvation of the souls of men? What! compare themselves boastfully with the Church of God, as being more benevolent than Christians?
The fact is, the Church of Christ has done ten thousand times as much for humanity as they have ever done. And she has not done it on the principle of a mutual insurance company, but as a matter of true benevolence; including in her charities the poor, the lowly, the halt and the blind, the old and the young, the black and the white.
The Church of Christ has done more for the bodies of men, ten thousand times more, than Freemasonry has ever done or ever will do.
Besides, the Church of Christ has poured out its treasure like a flood to enlighten mankind generally, to save their souls, and to do them good both for time and eternity. But what has Freemasonry done in this respect? Their boasted benevolence is a sham. I admit that they do sometimes afford relief to an indigent brother Mason, and to the families of such. I admit that they have often done this. But I maintain that this is not done as an act of Christian charity, but only as an act of Masonic charity; and that Masonic charity is only the part payment of a debt. Masons pay in their money to the Masonic fund; and this fund is that out of which their poor are helped, when they are helped at all.
What individuals do for individuals, on rare occasions, is but a trifle. Indeed, it is seldom that they are called on as individuals. The help granted to the poor is almost always taken from the funds of the lodges. And I seriously doubt whether there is a lodge in the United States that has ever paid as much for the support of their own poor as has been paid in to their funds by those who have joined the lodge. Let it be understood, then, that their boast of benevolence and of Christian morality is utterly false. Their oaths do not pledge them at all to the performance of any truly Christian morality; but to a Masonic benevolence, which is the opposite of true Christian morality.
Instead, therefore, of Masonry's inculcating really sound morality, instead of its being almost or quite true religion, the very perfection of that morality which their oaths oblige them to practice is anti-Christian, and opposed to both the law and Gospel of God. It is partial. And here let me again appeal to the dear young men who have been persuaded to join the Masonic fraternity under the impression that it is a benevolent institution. Do not, my dear young men, suffer yourselves to be deceived in this respect. If you have well considered what the law and Gospel require, you will soon perceive that the benevolence and morality required by your Masonic oaths is not Gospel morality or true benevolence at all; but that it is altogether a spurious and selfish morality. Indeed, you yourselves are aware that you joined the lodge from selfish motives; and that the morality inculcated by Masons is an exclusive, one-sided, and selfish affair altogether. In some of the lectures, you are aware that occasionally the duty of universal good-will is, in few words, inculcated. But you also know that your oaths, which lay down the rule of your duty in this respect, require no such thing as universal and impartial benevolence; but that they require the opposite of this. That is, they require you to prefer a Mason because he is a Mason to a Christian because he is a Christian; and, instead of requiring you to do good especially to the household of faith, your oaths require you to do good especially to those who are Freemasons, whether they belong to the household of faith or not. But this you know to be anti-Christian, and not according the Gospel. But you know also that Christians devote themselves to doing good to Masons and to those who are not Masons, to all classes and descriptions of men. And this they do, not on the principle, as I have said, of a mutual insurance society, but as a mere matter of benevolence. They deny themselves for the sake of doing good to the most lowly and even to the most wicked men.
Do not allow yourselves, therefore, to suppose that there is any good in Masonry. We often hear it said, and sometimes by professed Christians and Christian ministers, "that Masonry is a good thing."