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, January 29, 2007

Masons, Pilate and simbolics

The practice prevailed among the Jews, and a striking instance of the symbolism is exhibited in that well-known action of Pilate, who, when the Jews clamored for Jesus, that they might crucify him, appeared before the people, and, having taken water, washed his hands, saying at the same time, "I am innocent of the blood of this just man. See ye to it." In the Christian church of the middle ages, gloves were always worn by bishops or priests when in the performance of ecclesiastical functions. They were made of linen, and were white; and Durandus, a celebrated ritualist, says that "by the white gloves were denoted chastity and purity, because the hands were thus kept clean and free from all impurity."
There is no necessity to extend examples any further. There is no doubt that the use of the gloves in Masonry is a symbolic idea borrowed from the ancient and universal language of symbolism, and was intended, like the apron, to denote the necessity of purity of life.
We have thus traced the gloves and the apron to the same symbolic source. Let us see if we cannot also derive them from the same historic origin.
The apron evidently owes its adoption in Freemasonry to the use of that necessary garment by the operative masons of the middle ages. It is one of the most positive evidences—indeed we may say, absolutely, the most tangible evidence—of the derivation of our speculative science from an operative art. The builders, who associated in companies, who traversed Europe, and were engaged in the construction of palaces and cathedrals, have left to us, as their descendants, their name, their technical language, and that distinctive piece of clothing by which they protected their garments from the pollutions of their laborious employment. Did they also bequeath to us their gloves? This is a question which some modern discoveries will at last enable us to solve.
M. Didron, in his "Annales Archeologiques," presents us with an engraving, copied from the painted glass of a window in the cathedral of Chartres, in France. The painting was executed in the thirteenth century, and represents a number of operative masons at work. Three of them are adorned with laurel crowns. May not these be intended to represent the three officers of a lodge? All of the Masons wear gloves. M. Didron remarks that in the old documents which he has examined, mention is often made of gloves which are intended to be presented to masons and stone-cutters. In a subsequent number of the "Annales," he gives the following three examples of this fact:—
In the year 1331, the Chatelan of Villaines, in Duemois, bought a considerable quantity of gloves, to be given to the workmen, in order, as it is said, "to shield their hands from the stone and lime."
In October, 1383, as he learns from a document of that period, three dozen pairs of gloves were bought and distributed to the masons when they commenced the buildings at the Chartreuse of Dijon.
And, lastly, in 1486 or 1487, twenty-two pair of gloves were given to the masons and stone-cutters who were engaged in work at the city of Amiens.
It is thus evident that the builders—the operative masons—of the middle ages wore gloves to protect their hands from the effects of their work. It is equally evident that the speculative masons have received from their operative predecessors the gloves as well as the apron, both of which, being used by the latter for practical uses, have been, in the spirit of symbolism, appropriated by the former to "a more noble and glorious purpose."

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Iliad, Clavis Symbolica, simbolism

The symbolism of the gloves, it will be admitted, is, in fact, but a modification of that of the apron. They both signify the same thing; both are allusive to a purification of life. "Who shall ascend," says the Psalmist, "into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart." The apron may be said to refer to the "pure heart," the gloves to the "clean hands." Both are significant of purification—of that purification which was always symbolized by the ablution which preceded the ancient initiations into the sacred Mysteries. But while our American and English masons have adhered only to the apron, and rejected the gloves as a Masonic symbol, the latter appear to be far more important in symbolic science, because the allusions to pure or clean hands are abundant in all the ancient writers.
"Hands," says Wemyss, in his "Clavis Symbolica," "are the symbols of human actions; pure hands are pure actions; unjust hands are deeds of injustice." There are numerous references in sacred and profane writers to this symbolism. The washing of the hands has the outward sign of an internal purification. Hence the Psalmist says, "I will wash my hands in innocence, and I will encompass thine altar, Jehovah."
In the ancient Mysteries the washing of the hands was always an introductory ceremony to the initiation, and, of course, it was used symbolically to indicate the necessity of purity from crime as a qualification of those who sought admission into the sacred rites; and hence on a temple in the Island of Crete this inscription was placed: "Cleanse your feet, wash your hands, and then enter."
Indeed, the washing of hands, as symbolic of purity, was among the ancients a peculiarly religious rite. No one dared to pray to the gods until he had cleansed his hands. Thus Homer makes Hector say,—
"I dread with unwashed hands to bringMy incensed wine to Jove an offering."
In a similar spirit of religion, Æneas, when leaving burning Troy, refuses to enter the temple of Ceres until his hands, polluted by recent strife, had been washed in the living stream.
"Me bello e tanto digressum et cæde recenti,Attrectare nefas, donec me flumine vivoAbluero."—Æn. ii. 718.
"In me, now fresh from war and recent strife,'Tis impious the sacred things to touchTill in the living stream myself I bathe."

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Symbolism of the Gloves

The investiture with the gloves is very closely connected with the investiture with the apron, and the consideration of the symbolism of the one naturally follows the consideration of the symbolism of the other.
In the continental rites of Masonry, as practised in France, in Germany, and in other countries of Europe, it is an invariable custom to present the newly-initiated candidate not only, as we do, with a white leather apron, but also with two pairs of white kid gloves, one a man's pair for himself, and the other a woman's, to be presented by him in turn to his wife or his betrothed, according to the custom of the German masons, or, according to the French, to the female whom he most esteems, which, indeed, amounts, or should amount, to the same thing.
There is in this, of course, as there is in everything else which pertains to Freemasonry, a symbolism. The gloves given to the candidate for himself are intended to teach him that the acts of a mason should be as pure and spotless as the gloves now given to him. In the German lodges, the word used for acts is of course handlungen, or handlings, "the works of his hands," which makes the symbolic idea more impressive.
Dr. Robert Plott—no friend of Masonry, but still an historian of much research—says, in his "Natural History of Staffordshire," that the Society of Freemasons, in his time (and he wrote in 1660), presented their candidates with gloves for themselves and their wives. This shows that the custom still preserved on the continent of Europe was formerly practised in England, although there as well as in America, it is discontinued, which is, perhaps, to be regretted.
But although the presentation of the gloves to the candidate is no longer practised as a ceremony in England or America, yet the use of them as a part of the proper professional clothing of a mason in the duties of the lodge, or in processions, is still retained, and in many well-regulated lodges the members are almost as regularly clothed in their white gloves as in their white aprons.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The white alb - the Roman church

The white alb still constitutes a part of the vestments of the Roman church, and its color is said by Bishop England "to excite to piety by teaching us the purity of heart and body which we should possess in being present at the holy mysteries."
The heathens paid the same attention to the symbolic signification of this color. The Egyptians, for instance, decorated the head of their principal deity, Osiris, with a white tiara, and the priests wore robes of the whitest linen.
In the school of Pythagoras, the sacred hymns were chanted by the disciples clothed in garments of white. The Druids gave white vestments to those of their initiates who had arrived at the ultimate degree, or that of perfection. And this was intended, according to their ritual, to teach the aspirant that none were admitted to that honor but such as were cleansed from all impurities, both of body and mind.
In all the Mysteries and religions rites of the other nations of antiquity the same use of white garments was observed.
Portal, in his "Treatise on Symbolic Colors," says that "white, the symbol of the divinity and of the priesthood, represents divine wisdom; applied to a young girl, it denotes virginity; to an accused person, innocence; to a judge, justice;" and he adds—what in reference to its use in Masonry will be peculiarly appropriate—that, "as a characteristic sign of purity, it exhibits a promise of hope after death." We see, therefore, the propriety of adopting this color in the masonic system as a symbol of purity. This symbolism pervades the whole of the ritual, from the lowest to the highest degree, wherever white vestments or white decorations are used.
As to the material of the apron, this is imperatively required to be of lamb-skin. No other substance, such as linen, silk, or satin, could be substituted without entirely destroying the symbolism of the vestment. Now, the lamb has, as the ritual expresses it, "been, in all ages, deemed an emblem of innocence;" but more particularly in the Jewish and Christian churches has this symbolism been observed. Instances of this need hardly be cited. They abound throughout the Old Testament, where we learn that a lamb was selected by the Israelites for their sin and burnt offerings, and in the New, where the word lamb is almost constantly employed as synonymous with innocence. "The paschal lamb," says Didron, "which was eaten by the Israelites on the night preceding their departure, is the type of that other divine Lamb, of whom Christians are to partake at Easter, in order thereby to free themselves from the bondage in which they are held by vice." The paschal lamb, a lamb bearing a cross, was, therefore, from an early period, depicted by the Christians as referring to Christ crucified, "that spotless Lamb of God, who was slain from the foundation of the world."
The material, then, of the apron, unites with its color to give to the investiture of a mason the symbolic signification of purity. This, then, together with the fact which I have already shown, that the ceremony of investiture was common to all the ancient religious rites, will form another proof of the identity of origin between these and the masonic institution.
This symbolism also indicates the sacred and religious character which its founders sought to impose upon Freemasonry, and to which both the moral and physical qualifications of our candidates undoubtedly have a reference, since it is with the masonic lodge as it was with the Jewish church, where it was declared that "no man that had a blemish should come nigh unto the altar;" and with the heathen priesthood, among whom we are told that it was thought to be a dishonor to the gods to be served by any one that was maimed, lame, or in any other way imperfect; and with both, also, in requiring that no one should approach the sacred things who was not pure and uncorrupt.
The pure, unspotted lamb-skin apron is, then, in Masonry, symbolic of that perfection of body and purity of mind which are essential qualifications in all who would participate in its sacred mysteries.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

the badge of a mason

And hence, in Freemasonry, the same symbolism is communicated by the apron, which, because it is the first gift which the aspirant receives,—the first symbol in which he is instructed,—has been called the "badge of a mason." And most appropriately has it been so called; for, whatever may be the future advancement of the candidate in the "Royal Art," into whatever deeper arcana his devotion to the mystic institution or his thirst for knowledge may carry him, with the apron—his first investiture—he never parts. Changing, perhaps, its form and its decorations, and conveying at each step some new and beautiful allusion, its substance is still there, and it continues to claim the honorable title by which it was first made known to him on the night of his initiation.
The apron derives its significance, as the symbol of purity, from two sources—from its color and from its material. In each of these points of view it is, then, to be considered, before its symbolism can be properly appreciated.
And, first, the color of the apron must be an unspotted white. This color has, in all ages, been esteemed an emblem of innocence and purity. It was with reference to this symbolism that a portion of the vestments of the Jewish priesthood was directed to be made white. And hence Aaron was commanded, when he entered into the holy of holies to make an expiation for the sins of the people, to appear clothed in white linen, with his linen apron, or girdle, about his loins. It is worthy of remark that the Hebrew word LABAN, which signifies to make white, denotes also to purify; and hence we find, throughout the Scriptures, many allusions to that color as an emblem of purity. "Though thy sins be as scarlet," says Isaiah, "they shall be white as snow;" and Jeremiah, in describing the once innocent condition of Zion, says, "Her Nazarites were purer than snow; they were whiter than milk."
In the Apocalypse a white stone was the reward promised by the Spirit to those who overcame; and in the same mystical book the apostle is instructed to say, that fine linen, clean and white, is the righteousness of the saints.
In the early ages of the Christian church a white garment was always placed upon the catechumen who had been recently baptized, to denote that he had been cleansed from his former sins, and was thenceforth to lead a life of innocence and purity. Hence it was presented to him with this appropriate charge: "Receive the white and undefiled garment, and produce it unspotted before the tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you may obtain immortal life."

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The Rite of Investiture

Another ritualistic symbolism, of still more importance and interest, is the rite of investiture.
The rite of investiture, called, in the colloquially technical language of the order, the ceremony of clothing, brings us at once to the consideration of that well-known symbol of Freemasonry, the LAMB-SKIN APRON.
This rite of investiture, or the placing upon the aspirant some garment, as an indication of his appropriate preparation for the ceremonies in which he was about to engage, prevailed in all the ancient initiations. A few of them only it will be requisite to consider.
Thus in the Levitical economy of the Israelites the priests always wore the abnet, or linen apron, or girdle, as a part of the investiture of the priesthood. This, with the other garments, was to be worn, as the text expresses it, "for glory and for beauty," or, as it has been explained by a learned commentator, "as emblematical of that holiness and purity which ever characterize the divine nature, and the worship which is worthy of him."
In the Persian Mysteries of Mithras, the candidate, having first received light, was invested with a girdle, a crown or mitre, a purple tunic, and, lastly, a white apron.
In the initiations practised in Hindostan, in the ceremony of investiture was substituted the sash, or sacred zennaar, consisting of a cord, composed of nine threads twisted into a knot at the end, and hanging from the left shoulder to the right hip. This was, perhaps, the type of the masonic scarf, which is, or ought to be, always worn in the same position.
The Jewish sect of the Essenes, who approached nearer than any other secret institution of antiquity to Freemasonry in their organization, always invested their novices with a white robe.
And, lastly, in the Scandinavian rites, where the military genius of the people had introduced a warlike species of initiation, instead of the apron we find the candidate receiving a white shield, which was, however, always presented with the accompaniment of some symbolic instruction, not very dissimilar to that which is connected with the masonic apron.
In all these modes of investiture, no matter what was the material or the form, the symbolic signification intended to be conveyed was that of purity.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Command in Leviticus xix, 30

Rabbi Solomon, commenting on the command in Leviticus xix. 30, "Ye shall reverence my sanctuary," makes the same remark in relation to this custom. On this subject Dr. Oliver observes, "Now, the act of going with naked feet was always considered a token of humility and reverence; and the priests, in the temple worship, always officiated with feet uncovered, although it was frequently injurious to their health."
Mede quotes Zago Zaba, an Ethiopian bishop, who was ambassador from David, King of Abyssinia, to John III., of Portugal, as saying, "We are not permitted to enter the church, except barefooted."
The Mohammedans, when about to perform their devotions, always leave their slippers at the door of the mosque. The Druids practised the same custom whenever they celebrated their sacred rites; and the ancient Peruvians are said always to have left their shoes at the porch when they entered the magnificent temple consecrated to the worship of the sun.
Adam Clarke thinks that the custom of worshipping the Deity barefooted was so general among all nations of antiquity, that he assigns it as one of his thirteen proofs that the whole human race have been derived from one family.
A theory might be advanced as follows: The shoes, or sandals, were worn on ordinary occasions as a protection from the defilement of the ground. To continue to wear them, then, in a consecrated place, would be a tacit insinuation that the ground there was equally polluted and capable of producing defilement. But, as the very character of a holy and consecrated spot precludes the idea of any sort of defilement or impurity, the acknowledgment that such was the case was conveyed, symbolically, by divesting the feet of all that protection from pollution and uncleanness which would be necessary in unconsecrated places.
So, in modern times, we uncover the head to express the sentiment of esteem and respect. Now, in former days, when there was more violence to be apprehended than now, the casque, or helmet, afforded an ample protection from any sudden blow of an unexpected adversary. But we can fear no violence from one whom we esteem and respect; and, therefore, to deprive the head of its accustomed protection, is to give an evidence of our unlimited confidence in the person to whom the gesture is made.
The rite of discalceation is, therefore, a symbol of reverence. It signifies, in the language of symbolism, that the spot which is about to be approached in this humble and reverential manner is consecrated to some holy purpose.
Now, as to all that has been said, the intelligent mason will at once see its application to the third degree. Of all the degrees of Masonry, this is by far the most important and sublime. The solemn lessons which it teaches, the sacred scene which it represents, and the impressive ceremonies with which it is conducted, are all calculated to inspire the mind with feelings of awe and reverence. Into the holy of holies of the temple, when the ark of the covenant had been deposited in its appropriate place, and the Shekinah was hovering over it, the high priest alone, and on one day only in the whole year, was permitted, after the most careful purification, to enter with bare feet, and to pronounce, with fearful veneration, the tetragrammaton or omnific word.
And into the Master Mason's lodge—this holy of holies of the masonic temple, where the solemn truths of death and immortality are inculcated—the aspirant, on entering, should purify his heart from every contamination, and remember, with a due sense of their symbolic application, those words that once broke upon the astonished ears of the old patriarch, "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground."

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Rite of Discalceation

The rite of discalceation, or uncovering the feet on approaching holy ground, is derived from the Latin word discalceare, to pluck off one's shoes. The usage has the prestige of antiquity and universality in its favor.
That it not only very generally prevailed, but that its symbolic signification was well understood in the days of Moses, we learn from that passage of Exodus where the angel of the Lord, at the burning bush, exclaims to the patriarch, "Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." 84 Clarke85 thinks it is from this command that the Eastern nations have derived the custom of performing all their acts of religious worship with bare feet. But it is much more probable that the ceremony was in use long anterior to the circumstance of the burning bush, and that the Jewish lawgiver at once recognized it as a well-known sign of reverence.
Bishop Patrick86 entertains this opinion, and thinks that the custom was derived from the ancient patriarchs, and was transmitted by a general tradition to succeeding times.
Abundant evidence might be furnished from ancient authors of the existence of the custom among all nations, both Jewish and Gentile. A few of them, principally collected by Dr. Mede, must be curious and interesting.
The direction of Pythagoras to his disciples was in these words: "Ανυπόδητος θύε ϗαι πρόσϗυνει;" that is, Offer sacrifice and worship with thy shoes off.
Justin Martyr says that those who came to worship in the sanctuaries and temples of the Gentiles were commanded by their priests to put off their shoes.
Drusius, in his Notes on the Book of Joshua, says that among most of the Eastern nations it was a pious duty to tread the pavement of the temple with unshod feet.
Maimonides, the great expounder of the Jewish law, asserts that "it was not lawful for a man to come into the mountain of God's house with his shoes on his feet, or with his staff, or in his working garments, or with dust on his feet."

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Masonic Ritualistic Symbolism

We have hitherto been engaged in the consideration of these simple symbols, which appear to express one single and independent idea. They have sometimes been called the "alphabet of Freemasonry," but improperly, I think, since the letters of the alphabet have, in themselves, unlike these masonic symbols, no significance, but are simply the component parts of words, themselves the representatives of ideas.
These masonic symbols rather may be compared to the elementary characters of the Chinese language, each of which denotes an idea; or, still better, to the hieroglyphics of the ancient Egyptians, in which one object was represented in full by another which bore some subjective relation to it, as the wind was represented by the wings of a bird, or courage by the head and shoulders of a lion.
It is in the same way that in Masonry the plumb represents rectitude, the level, human equality, and the trowel, concord or harmony. Each is, in itself, independent, each expresses a single elementary idea.
But we now arrive at a higher division of masonic symbolism, which, passing beyond these tangible symbols, brings us to those which are of a more abstruse nature, and which, as being developed in a ceremonial form, controlled and directed by the ritual of the order, may be designated as the ritualistic symbolism of Freemasonry.
It is to this higher division that I now invite attention; and for the purpose of exemplifying the definition that I have given, I shall select a few of the most prominent and interesting ceremonies of the ritual.
Our first researches were into the symbolism of objects; our next will be into the symbolism of ceremonies.
In the explanations which I shall venture to give of this ritualistic symbolism, or the symbolism of ceremonies, a reference will constantly be made to what has so often already been alluded to, namely, to the analogy existing between the system of Freemasonry and the ancient rites and Mysteries, and hence we will again develop the identity of their origin.
Each of the degrees of Ancient Craft Masonry contains some of these ritualistic symbols: the lessons of the whole order are, indeed, veiled in their allegoric clothing; but it is only to the most important that I can find opportunity to refer. Such, among others, are the rites of discalceation, of investiture, of circumambulation, and of intrusting. Each of these will furnish an appropriate subject for consideration.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Secrecy, Its character

A presumption against secrecy arises from the known fact that evil-doers of all kinds resort to secrecy. This is for two reasons: (1.) To avoid opposition and retribution; and, (2,) to avoid exposure to disgrace. The adulterer seeks secrecy; so do the thief and the counterfeiter; so do conspirators for evil ends.
Secrecy, whenever resorted to for evil ends, is wrong. But may it not be resorted to for good ends? and is it not recognized as often wise and right in the Word of God? We answer in the affirmative. There is a certain degree of reserve, or secrecy, that should invest every individual. Our whole range of thought and feeling ought not to be promiscuously made known. There is a degree of secrecy necessary in the order, social intercourse, and discipline of the family. There is secrecy needed in dealing with faults and sins. Christ adopts this principle in his discipline. He says, "Tell him his fault between him and thee alone. If he repents, conceal it." There are confidential communications for important ends, or for council.
Concealment may be used as a defense against enemies, as in the case of the spies of Joshua, or the messengers of David, or when Elisha hid himself by the brook Oherith, by God's order. So God hides the good in his secret place and under his wings.
Secrecy is opposed to ostentation and love of human applause. Hence, alms and prayer are to be in secret. God also resorts to secrecy in an eminent degree. He hides himself. He dwells in thick darkness. It is his glory to conceal his designs. In part, this is inevitable by reason of his greatness; in part, he resorts to it of set purpose.
It is a special honor and blessing of the good that he discloses his secrets to them.
Secrecy, then, is not of necessity wrong. Its character depends upon the ends for which it is used, and the circumstances and spirit in which it is used. There is a secrecy of wisdom, love, and justice, as well as a secrecy of selfish, malevolent, and evil deeds.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Christ and masons

First. Christ, our Master, neither instituted nor countenanced these orders. Reviewing his whole earthly ministry, he said (John xviii: 20): "I spake openly to the world;" and "in secret have I said nothing." By this double affirmation he strongly suggested his preference for open, unsecret ways and proceedings.
Secondly. In those rites, proceedings, and regalia which do appear, these orders are frivolous, belittling, and unworthy of respect. If the revealed are such, what must the unrevealed be?
Thirdly. These orders stand convicted of deceit and falsehood. They profess secrets and mysteries worth buying. Hundreds of high-minded men, of irreproachable character and integrity, who have, therefore, "renounced these hidden things of dishonesty," testify over their own signatures, that their secrets are but signs, pass-words, ceremonies, etc., covering nothing but emptiness and vanity.
Fourthly. These orders are unfriendly to domestic happiness and well-being, breaking in upon the sacred confidence and unity of husband and wife, pledging him to conceal from her the proceedings of perhaps fifty nights yearly, thus often sowing seeds of distrust, filling his breast with what must not be divulged to her, involving him in affairs and habits not unfrequently injurious to the best interests and state of the family.
Fifthly. These orders are hostile to the heavenly-mindedness, the spirituality of those who join them. We speak from much testimony. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed." The prudent man foreseeth the evil, but the foolish pass on and are punished. This voice of one is that of many concurring wise, faithful, and godly men, viz.: "I am afraid of these secret societies; they have sucked the spirituality out of all the members in our church who have joined them." Young, promising Christians have often been blighted by them. The fervor of piety, interest in the church and its work, interest in Christ and his people, interest in God's Word and Spirit, all the various elements of an earnest life of faith and heavenly-mindedness have been blighted in these lodges. And in urging this, we appeal to so many witnesses, and cover so wide a field of observation, as to make it certain that this is not the exceptional but the ordinary result.
Sixthly. These orders tend to destroy Christian fellowship. Let them grow until a given church is broken into squads, each pledged to secrets from the other, but bound within itself by special ties; give to each its own weekly meeting, mysteries, rites, signs, grips, pass-words; let each be sworn to provide for, protect, shield, and love its own adherents above others, and is not "church fellowship" annihilated? Can the Spirit of Christ flow freely from member to member through such partitions? Is this "one body in Christ, and every one members one of another?"
Seventhly. These orders tend to subject the church to "the world" in some of its dearest interests. For example: When a few leading members join a neighboring lodge, and make vows to the "strange" brotherhood, how easy for that lodge to interfere secretly but controllingly in its discipline of members, or in its selection or dismission of a pastor! These suggestions are not merely imaginary. Subjection of the church, in this way, to the cunning craftiness of evil and designing men is no mere dream.
Eighthly. These orders dishonor Christ. Those claims which he makes for himself are disallowed. He is required to disappear or find a place amidst other objects for worship. There is a necessity, because these orders are designed for adherents of all religions. Were they on the footing of an insurance company or a merchants' exchange, or any similar body, this fact would not be so. But they profess to include religion among their elements, and its services, in whole or in part, among their ceremonies. They have prayers and solemn religious rites. And in these Christ is dishonored. His exclusive claims are disallowed or ignored, and this not by accident, but of set purpose. Out of twenty-three forms of prayer in the "New Masonic Trestle-Board," (Boston edition, 1850,) only one even alludes to him, and that one in a non-committal way. These secret orders are under bonds not to honor Christ as he claims, lest the Jew, or the Deist, or the Mohammedan, all of whom they seek to enroll in equal membership, should be offended. When the higher "degrees" of Masonry allude to Christ and Christianity, it is but as one amidst many equals. We repeat it: Did these orders stand on the same footing with mercantile or other bodies in this matter, this objection might go for nothing; but they do not. Unlike them, they profess to have religious services. Indeed, they often boast of their religiousness, and avow their full equality in this with the church of God itself! Yet, if you join them, their "constitutions" prohibit you acknowledging, in their boasted religious services, what Christ, your Lord, not only claims for himself, but commands you to give unto him: that glory which is due to his holy name. Are they, then, not Anti-christ in this thing? And can you, without sin, consent to it, or uphold institutions which forbid you and others, in religious services, to honor him as your God and Savior, and which thus place him on the same level with Zoroaster, Confucius, or Mohammed?
Ninthly. These orders--the things now alleged being true--impede the cause and kingdom of God, and are, therefore, hostile to the largest, best, and deepest interests of mankind. Recognizing this, churches, conferences, associations, synods, and many eminently godly men, living and dead, have put forth their solemn testimony against them. Great lawyers, like Samuel Dexter; great patriots and statesmen, like Adams, and Webster, and Everett; great communities, like the American people from 1826 to 1830, have united to declare them not only "wrong in their very principles," but "noxious to mankind." But many Christians, rising higher and standing on "a more sure word of prophecy," have discovered in them the enemies of the Gospel and of the cross of Christ. Following him, their great exemplar in philanthropy as in godliness, who did nothing in secret, they refuse to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, choosing rather to reprove them.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Charity, Morality, Patriotism and Religion

What about Charity, Morality, Patriotism and Religion and masons? Here are their thoughts and rules about it.First. Charity has no need of them. They are not truly charitable institutions. "Mutual insurance societies" they may be, though of an inferior sort, as we have seen; but that does not elevate them into charitable institutions. To bestow on your widow and orphans, your sickness, and funeral some pittance, or the whole of what you paid during health and life, is not benevolence.
But, further, it is well to ask, in determining how greatly charity depends on them, how broadly they go forth among the poor outside their membership. During the anti-masonic excitement of 1826-1830 some two thousand lodges suspended. The resultant suffering was less, perhaps, than what would follow the suspension of a single soup association, any winter, in some city. Blot out the whole, and how small the injury to the charities of the country!
The Church of Christ is commanded to "do good unto all men"--"to remember the poor." It is engaged in this work. It blows no trumpet--it does not parade its charities; but it shrinks from comparison with no one of these orders, nor with all of them combined. Christians need not to go into them to preserve charity alive, or to find the best ways of exercising their own.
Secondly. Morality does not depend on them. We need say nothing of "what is done of them in secret." But, looking at what is open to all, we ask, What work are they doing worthy of so much organization, and expense, and time to reclaim the fallen, to banish vice, and to save its victim? We have heard them refusing him admission or cutting him off, but we have not heard of any considerable aid which they have given to public or private morality. And, further, do we not find them narrowing the circle of obligation, substituting attachment and duty to an order for love and obligations to mankind? Membership in a lodge, not character, is held to make one "worthy," opening the way to favor and society. But can all this be done without sensibly weakening the fundamental supports of morality, without lessening its broad requirements?
Thirdly. Patriotism has no need of them. They tend to destroy citizenship, to exalt love of an order above the love of country. The boast during the late rebellion was sometimes heard that their members, owing to the oaths of mutual protection, were safer among the rebels than other captives. Was the converse true? Were rebels, being Freemasons, safe or safer against restraint and due punishment when, falling captive to those of their order? How far does all this extend? To courts and suits at law? Are criminals as safe or safer before judge and jury of their order? Have rebellion and vice found greater security here? This boast is confession--confession that the ties of an order are stronger and more felt than is consistent with a proper love of country. Is justice thus to be imperiled? Are securities of property and rights thus to be imperiled? Must we beggar ourselves by paying fees and dues to one another of these orders, now becoming more plentiful every decade, to make sure of standing on equal footing and impartiality with others, in the courts and elsewhere, and imagine that all this is helpful to patriotism or even consistent with it?
Fourthly. Religion has no need of them. "The church is the pillar and ground of the truth." "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The preaching of Christ and him crucified is and must continue to be the wisdom of God and the power of God unto salvation. Religion, then, has no need of these secret orders.

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