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By The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY
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.