Secret society - free mason

About secret societies, free masonry, simbols, rithuals, order, ... Some articles are taken from "Mysteries of Freemasonry" by Captain William Morgan "The Symbolism of Freemasonry" by Albert G. Mackey, M.D. 1882. "Secret Societies" by David MacDill, Jonathan Blanchard, and Edward Beecher Those three books have free licence and no copyright law has broken.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Secret societies - Their Secrecy

1. One of the objectionable features of all the associations of which we are writing is their secrecy. We do not say that secrecy is what is called an evil or sin in itself. Secrecy may sometimes be right and even necessary. There are family secrets and secrets of State. Sometimes legislatures and church courts hold secret sessions. It is admitted that secrecy in such cases may be right; but this does not prove that secrecy is always right. The cases above-mentioned are exceptional in their character. For instance, a family may very properly keep some things secret; but were a family to act on the principle of secrecy, they would justly be condemned, and would arouse suspicions in the minds of all who know them. Were a family to endeavor to conceal every thing that is said and done by the fireside; were they to invent signs, and grips, and passwords for the purpose of concealment; were they to admit no one under their roof without exacting a solemn oath or promise that nothing seen or heard shall be made known, every one would say there is something wrong. So, too, if a church court would always sit in secret; were none but members at any time admitted; were all the members bound by solemn promises or oaths to keep the proceedings secret, and were they to employ signs, grips, and passwords, and to hold up horrid threats, in order to secure concealment, such a church court would lose the confidence of all men whose esteem is of any value. Such studious and habitual concealment would damage the reputation of any family or church court in the estimation of all sensible people. The same result would follow in case a Legislature would endeavor, as a general thing, to conceal its proceedings. As to State secrets, they generally pertain to what is called diplomacy; and even in straightforward, manly diplomacy there is generally no effort at concealment. In our own country, Congress very often asks the President for information in regard to the negotiations and correspondence of the Executive Department with foreign governments, and almost always the whole correspondence asked for is laid before Congress and published to the country. It is very seldom that the President answers the call with a declaration that the public welfare requires the correspondence to be kept secret. Besides this, the concealment is only temporary. It is never supposed that the secrecy must be perpetual. It is true that many diplomatists--perhaps nearly all the diplomatists of Europe--do endeavor to cover up their doings from the light of day. It is also true that the secrecy and deceit of diplomatists have made diplomacy a corrupt thing. Diplomacy is regarded by many as but another name for duplicity. Talleyrand, the prince of diplomatists, said "the design of language is to conceal one's thoughts." This terse sentence gives a correct idea of the practice of secret negotiators. With regard, then, to State secrets, we remark that real statesmen do not endeavor to cover up their doings in the dark, and that the practices of diplomatists, and the reputation they have for duplicity, are not such as should encourage individuals or associations to endeavor to conceal their proceedings. We see nothing in the fact that there may be secrets of State to justify studied and habitual secrecy either in individuals or associations.

2. The impropriety of habitual concealment may be further illustrated. An individual who endeavors to conceal the business in which he is engaged, or the place and mode of carrying it on, exposes himself to the suspicion of his fellow-men. People lose confidence in him. They feel that he is not a safe man. They at once suspect that there is something wrong. They do not ask or expect him to make all his business affairs public. They are willing that he should say nothing about many of his business operations. But habitual secrecy, constant concealment, unwillingness to tell either friend or foe what business he follows, or to speak of his business operations, will cause any man to be regarded as destitute of common honesty. This fact shows that, in the common judgment of men, constant concealment is suspicious and wrong. Wherever it is practiced, men expect the development of some unworthy purpose.

We regard secrecy just like homicide and other actions that in general are very criminal. To take human life, as a general thing, is a very great crime; but it is right to kill a man in self-defense, and to take the life of a murderer as a punishment for his crime. The habitual concealment of one's actions is wrong, but it may be right at particular times and for special reasons. It is not a dreadfully wicked thing, like the causeless taking of human life, and may be justifiable much oftener and for less weighty reasons. Still habitual secrecy, or secrecy, except at particular times and for special reasons, is, according to the common judgment of men, suspicious and unjustifiable. Now, with secret societies secrecy is the general rule. They practice constant concealment. At all times and on all occasions must the members keep their proceedings secret. If an individual would thus studiously endeavor to conceal his actions; were he to throw the veil of secrecy over his business operations, refusing to speak to any of his fellow-men concerning them, he would justly expose himself to suspicion. His fellow-men would lose all confidence in his integrity. If habitual secrecy on the part of an individual, in regard to business matters, is confessedly suspicious and wrong, it must be so, also, on the part of associations of men. There is less excuse, indeed, for concealment on the part of a number of men banded together than on the part of an individual. An individual working in the dark may do much mischief, but an association thus working can do much more. All those considerations which forbid individuals to shroud their actions in secrecy and darkness, and require them to be open, frank, and straightforward in their course, apply with equal or greater force to associations.

3. In the case of secret societies, the reasons for concealment set the impropriety of it in a still stronger light. So far from there being any necessity or special reason to justify habitual secrecy in their case, we believe the very design of their secrecy to be improper and sinful. We present the following quotation from a book of high authority among those for whose benefit it was specially intended:

"If the secrets of Masonry are replete with such advantages to mankind, it may be asked, Why are they not divulged for the general good of society? To which it may be answered, were the privileges of Masonry to be indiscriminately bestowed, the design of the institution would be subverted, and, being familiar, like many other important matters, would soon lose their value and sink into disregard."--Webb's Freemason's Monitor, p. 21.

The same author intimates that the secrecy of Masonry is designed to take advantage of "a weakness of human nature." He admits that Masonry would soon sink into disregard if its affairs were generally known. Although this remark is made with special reference to the giddy and unthinking, yet it is certainly not the contempt of such persons which Masons fear. They would not care for the contempt of the giddy and unthinking, if they could retain the esteem of the thoughtful and wise. The real reason, then, for concealing the doings of Masons in their lodges, is to recommend things which, if generally known, would be regarded with contempt. The design of concealment in the case of other secret associations, we understand to be the same. The following is an extract from an address delivered at the national celebration of the fortieth anniversary of Odd-fellowship, in New York, April 26, 1859, and published by the Grand Lodge of the United States:

"But even if we do resort to the aid of the mysterious, to render our meetings attractive, or as a stimulant to applications for membership, surely this results, in no injury to society or individuals."--Proceedings of Grand Lodge of United States, 1859, Ap., p. 10.

Here, again, it is pretty plainly hinted that the design of secrecy in the case of Odd-fellowship, is to invest it with unreal attractions, or, at least, with attractions which it would not possess, were the veil of concealment withdrawn. Here, again, as in Masonry, it is virtually admitted that secrecy is designed to take advantage of "a weakness in human nature," and to recommend things which, if not invested with the attractions which secrecy throws around them, would sink into contempt.

Doubtless the design of concealment in the case of other secret associations is the same. We are not aware that Good-fellows, Good Templars, Sons of Temperance, and other similar associations, have any better reason for working, like moles, in the dark than Masons and Odd-fellows. There is, then, as it respects secret societies, no necessity for concealment--nothing to justify it. The real motive for it is itself improper and sinful.

4. That the concealment of actions and principles, either by individuals or associations, is inconsistent with the teachings of the Bible, is, we think, easily shown. Thus our Savior, on his trial, declared: "I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing." (John xviii: 20.) An association which claims to be laboring in behalf of true principles, and for the moral and intellectual improvement of men, and yet conceals its operations under the impenetrable veil of secrecy, is certainly practicing in direct opposition to the example and teaching of the Son of God.

Again: The concealment of our actions is condemned in the words of the Most High, as recorded by the prophet: "Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark; and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?" (Is. xxix: 15.) Those on whom a divine curse is thus pronounced are described as endeavoring to hide their works in the dark. This description applies, most assuredly, to those associations which meet only at night, and in rooms with darkened windows, and which require their members solemnly to promise or swear that they will never make known their proceedings.

Again: The inspired apostle incidentally condemns secret societies in denouncing the sins prevalent in his own day: "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them; for it is a shame to speak of those things that are done of them in secret." (Eph. v: 11, 12.) It is not without reason that commentators understand the shameful things done in secret, of which the apostle speaks, to be the "mysteries" of the "secret societies" which prevailed among the ancient heathen. They maintained religious rites and ceremonies in honor of their imaginary deities, just as most modern "secret societies" make a profane use of the word and worship of God in their parades and initiations. He says it would be a shame to speak of the rites performed by the heathen in their secret associations in honor of Bacchus and Venus, the god of wine and the goddess of lust, and of their other abominable deities. But whether the apostle refers to the Eleusinian, Samothracian, and other pagan mysteries, or not, the principle of secrecy comes in for a share of his condemnation.

The concealment practiced by "secret societies" is inconsistent, also, with such declarations of the Bible as the following: "For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God."(John iii: 20, 21.) "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." These are the words of our Savior, and they certainly condemn the concealment practiced by secret associations, and all the means employed for that purpose--their signs, grips, and passwords; their shunning the light of day; their secret gatherings in the night, and in rooms with darkened windows; the terrible oaths and solemn promises with which they bind their members to perpetual secrecy; the disgraceful punishments which they threaten to inflict on any member who will expose their secret doings--all these things are inconsistent with the spirit, if not the very letter, of the commands of our Savior quoted above.

5. Besides, if the doings of these associations, in there secret meetings, are good, then it is in the violation of the express command of our Savior to keep them concealed; for he tells us to let others see our good works. In case their doings are bad, it is, perhaps, no violation of Christ's command to keep them hid; but, most certainly, such things ought not to be done at all. So far as the moral character of secret societies is concerned, it matters not whether the transactions which they so studiously conceal are good or bad, sinless or wicked. If such transactions are good, the Savior commands that they be made known; if they are improper and sinful, he commands us to have no fellowship with them. In either case secret associations are to be condemned as practicing contrary to the teachings of the Bible.

Hence, we conclude that the concealment so studiously maintained and rigidly enforced by the associations whose moral character we are considering is condemned both by the common judgment of men and by the Word of God.

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