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By The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY
MASONIC OATHS ARE UNLAWFUL AND VOID
Because, 1st, they are forbidden by Christ. Matt. v. 34-37. Whatever may be said of oaths administered by magistrates for governmental purposes, it can not be reasonably doubted that this teaching prohibits the taking of extrajudicial oaths. But Masonic oaths are extrajudicial.
2. Because they are awfully profane. "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." Exod. xx. 7. Certainly both the administering and taking of these oaths are taking the name of God in vain.
3. Because they swear to do unlawful things.
1. We have seen that all Masons swear to conceal all the secrets of Masonry that may be communicated to them. This is rash, and contrary to Lev. v. 4, 5: "Or if a soul swear pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these. And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing." The sin must be confessed
2. They swear to conceal each other's crimes. This we have seen. This is a conspiracy against all good government in Church and State. Is not this wicked ?
3. They swear to deliver a brother Royal Arch Mason out of any difficulty and to espouse his cause so far as to extricate him from the same, if in their power, whether he be right or wrong. Is not this wicked? How this oath must lead to the defeat of the execution of law. It has defeated the ends of justice often, as every intelligent Mason may and ought to know.
4. They swear to give political preferment to a Mason, because he is a Mason, over one of equal qualifications, who is not a Mason. This is swearing to be partial. But is it not wicked to be partial? Can an oath to be partial make partiality a virtue? By swearing to do wrong can a man make it his duty, and, therefore, right to do wrong? No indeed.
5. They swear to persecute all who violate Masonic oaths as long as they live--to ruin their reputation, derange their business, and, if they go from place to place, to follow them with representations of being worthless vagabonds. Is not this a promise under oath to do wickedly? Suppose those who violate Masonic oaths are enemies of Masonry, as well they may be, and as they ought to be, is it right to seek, in any way, to ruin them? Is this loving an enemy? Is not such persecution forbidden by every precept of both law and Gospel? This course is, in accordance with the tradition of the elders, strongly denounced by Christ. Matt. v. 33: "Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths?" But it is in direct opposition to his requirement. Matt. v 44: "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
6. They swear to seek the death or condign punishment of all who violate Masonic oaths. This we have seen! But is not this abominable wickedness? Is it not murder in intention, and, therefore, really murder, whether they succeed or not? To be sure it is.
7. They swear to seek revenge and to take vengeance on those who violate Masonic oaths, and to avenge the treason, as they call it, by the death of the traitor. This, also, we have seen. Now, is not this the perfection of wickedness? Ought not Masons to be put under bonds to keep the peace?
8. They swear to support Freemasonry, an institution, as we have seen, that ought not to exist in any community. These are only some of the reasons for pronouncing the oaths of Freemasonry utterly unlawful.
MASONIC OATHS ARE NULL AND VOID.
1. Because they are obtained by fraud. The candidate for the first degree is assured by the master, in the most solemn manner, when the candidate is on his knees and about to take the oath, there is nothing in it inconsistent with his duty either to God or to man. But he finds, after taking and reflecting upon it, that he has made promises inconsistent with his duty both to God and man. This, of itself, makes the oath null.
2. They are void because they pledge the candidate to sin against God and man. 1st. By swearing to commit a sin, a man can not make it his duty, and, therefore, right to do wrong. He can not make sin holiness, or crime a virtue, by taking an oath to do it. Forty men took an oath that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. Were they under moral obligation, therefore, to kill him? If they were, it was their duty. If it was their duty, their killing him would have been a holy act. Who does not see the absurdity of this? To keep a wicked promise or oath is only adding sin to sin. But it maybe said that we are required to perform our vows. Yes, when we vow to do what is right, but not when we vow to do what is wrong. This is not only the doctrine of the Bible, but, also, of all the able writers on moral philosophy. It is, indeed, a self-evident truth. An oath to do wrong is sin. To perform it is adding sin to sin. All oaths to do wrong, or to refrain from doing right, are null. '
ALL FREEMASONS OUGHT TO RENOUNCE THEIR MASONIC OATHS
1. Because they are profane and wicked.
2. Because they ought to repent the taking of them.
3. But repentance .consists in heart-renunciation of them. A man can not repent of, without forsaking them.
4. If not repented of and forsaken, i.e., renounced, the sin can not be forgiven.
5. Heart-renunciation must produce life-renunciation of them.
6. A sin is not repented of while it is concealed and not confessed to those who have been injured by it.
7. A sin against society or against individuals can not be forgiven, when just confession and restitution are withheld.
8. Masonic oaths are a conspiracy against God and man, and are not repented of while adhered to.
9. They are adhered to, while heart-renunciation is withheld.
10. Refusing to renounce is adherence.
11. Adherence makes them partakers of the crimes of Freemasons--"partakers of other men's sins." Because, to adhere is to justify their oaths and the keeping and fulfillment of them. But to justify their crimes, the murder of Morgan for example, is to partake of the guilt of his murderers.
12. While a Mason adheres his word can not be credited on questions relating to the secrets of Masonry.
13. Nor can his testimony be believed against one who has violated Masonic oaths, because he is sworn to ruin his reputation, and to represent him as a worthless vagabond.
14. An adhering Mason is a dangerous man in society. If he does as he is sworn to do, is he not a dangerous man? If he does not do what he is sworn to do, and yet does not renounce his oath, he is a dangerous man, because he violates an oath, the obligation of which he acknowledges. Is not he a dangerous man who disregards the solemnity of an oath? But, perhaps, he is convinced that he ought not to do what he has sworn to do, and, therefore, does not do it, but still he adheres in the sense that he will not confess and renounce the sinfulness of the obligation. Is not that a dangerous man who sees the wrong of an oath and will not renounce it.
15. While he adheres to his Masonic oaths, he ought not to be trusted with the office of a magistrate. How should he, if he means to perform his Masonic vows?
16. Nor, while he adheres, should he be trusted with the office of sheriff, marshal, or constable. If he intends to perform his Masonic vows, it is madness to trust him with an office in Church or State.
17. If and while he adheres, he ought not to be received as a witness or juror when a Freemason is a party. This has been ruled as law.
18. Nor should he have power to appoint officers, as he will surely unduly favor Masons.
19. Nor should he have the control of funds and the bestowment of governmental patronage. This he will certainly abuse, if he keeps and performs his vows.
20. Nor should he be intrusted with the pardoning power. I wish it could be known in how many instances Freemasons have been pardoned and turned loose upon the public by governors and presidents who were Freemasons, and who were sworn to deliver them from any difficulty, whether right or wrong.
21. Nor should he be a post-master, as he will surely abuse his office to favor Masonry, and to persecute anti-Masons, if he keeps his vows. Of this we are having abundant proof.
22. While he adheres, his testimony against renouncing Masons ought not to be credited, because he has sworn to ruin their reputation and their business, and, until their death, to represent them to others as worthless vagabonds. Is a man's testimony against another worthy of credit, when he is thus sworn to hold him up to the world? We have no right to receive such testimony. It is the greatest injustice to credit the testimony of one who has taken and adheres to this oath, if he testifies against a renouncing Mason.
23. Those Masons who have taken and adhere to the vow to thus persecute, and the vow to avenge the treason of violating Masonic oaths by the death of the traitor, should be held to bail to keep the peace. If they intend to perform their vows, they are eminently dangerous persons, and should be imprisoned or held to bail. Let no one say that this is harsh. Indeed, it is not. It is only common sense and common justice. Only remember what they are sworn to do, and that they intend to perform their vows, and then tell me is it safe and just that such men should be at large, and not even be put under bonds not to fulfill their vows. We must take the grounds either that they will not fulfill their vows, or we must hold that they ought not to be at large without adequate bail. I am aware that some will say that this is a harsh and extreme conclusion. But pray let me ask do you not feel and say this because you do not believe that there is real danger of Freemasons doing what they have sworn to do? If they have sworn as Bernard and others represent, and if they really intend to fulfill their vows, and if you admit this, is my conclusion harsh and extreme? When no occasion arises, calling for the fulfillment of their horrid oaths, they appear to be harmless and even good citizens. But let any man read the history of the abduction and murder of Morgan, as found in "Light on Masonry," and see how many men were engaged in it. Let him understand how this horrid murder was justified by the Grand Lodge, and by many respectable citizens. Let him ponder the fact that the men engaged in that affair were accounted respectable and good citizens; that a number of them were men high in office and in public confidence, and that the conspiracy extended over a wide territory, and then let him say whether, if an occasion arise demanding their action, they will prove to be law-abiding citizens, or, if they will not, as they have often done before, set at naught any law of God and man, and, if need be, reach their end through the blood of their victim.
But some will say that this is representing Freemasonry as infamous, and holding it up to the disgust, contempt, and indignation of mankind. I reply, I have not misrepresented it, as it is revealed in the books which I have been examining. Remember, it is with Masonry as there revealed that I have to deal. If a truthful representation of it excites the contempt, disgust and indignation of the public toward it--if to rightly represent Freemasonry is to render it infamous, I can not help it. The fault, if any, is not mine. I have revealed nothing. I have only called attention to facts of common concern to all honest citizens. Let the infamy rest where it belongs.