THE CHARACTER, CLAIMS AND PRACTICAL WORKINGS OF FREEMASONRY
By Rev. C. G. FINNEY
EXAMINATION OF THE BOOKS REVEALING FREEMASONRY
HAVING established the fact that Bernard in his "Light on Masonry," William Morgan, Allyn, Richardson, and others, all of whom substantially agree, have truly revealed Freemasonry as it was at that time, I will now enter upon an examination of some of these books, assuming as I must, or abandon all idea that any thing can ever be proved by human testimony, that they contain a veritable revelation of Freemasonry.
After I have examined these books, and learned and shown what Freemasonry was at their date, I shall consider the question of its having undergone any material change since that date, and also whether it can be so changed as to be an innocent institution and still retain the distinguishing characteristics of Freemasonry.
That I may do no injustice to any one, I shall not hold Masons responsible for oaths and degrees which are above and beyond them and which they have not taken and of which they have no knowledge. The question of their moral and responsible relation to the institution, as a whole, will receive notice in another place. At present I shall hold Masons responsible for those oaths, principles, teachings and degrees of which they have knowledge.
In these numbers I need only to notice a few points in the oaths of Masons, and I recommend all persons to obtain the books in which their oaths, ceremonies, and secrets are fully revealed. The first of their oaths is that of an Entered Apprentice. These oaths are administered in the following manner: The candidate stands on his knees, with his hands on the Holy Bible. The Worshipful Master pronounces the oath in short sentences, and the candidate repeats after him. The oath of the Entered Apprentice is as follows: "I, A.B., of my own free will and accord, in presence of Almighty God and this worshipful lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, dedicated to God and held forth to the holy order of St. John, do hereby and hereon most sincerely promise and swear, that I will always hail, ever conceal, and never reveal any part or parts, art or arts, point or points of the secrets, arts, and mysteries of ancient Freemasonry, which I have received, am about to receive, or may hereafter be instructed in, to any person or persons in the known world, except it be a true and lawful brother Mason, or within the body of a just and lawfully constituted lodge of such; and not unto him or unto them whom I shall hear so to be, but unto him and them only whom I shall find so to be after strict trial and due examination, or lawful information.
"Furthermore, do I promise and swear, that I will not write, print, stamp, stain, hew, cut, carve, indent, paint, or engrave it on anything movable or immovable under the whole canopy of Heaven, whereby or whereon the least letter, figure, character, mark, stain, shadow, or resemblance may become legible or intelligible to myself or to any other person in the known world, whereby the secrets of Masonry may be unlawfully obtained through my unworthiness. To all of which I do most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, without the least equivocation, mental reservation, or self-evasion of mind in me whatever; binding myself under no less penalty than to have my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by the roots, and my body buried in the rough sands of the sea at low-water mark, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours. So help me God, and keep me steadfast in the due performance of the same."--Light on Masonry, 8th edition, page 27.
Upon this oath I remark:
1. That the administration and taking of it are in direct violation of both the law and gospel of God. Jesus prohibits the taking of oaths. Mat. V. 34. "But I say unto you swear not at all." It is generally conceded that He intended only to forbid the taking of extra judicial oaths. That He did formally and positively forbid the taking, and of course the administering, of all oaths not regularly administered for judicial and governmental purposes, is, I believe, universally admitted. Here then we find that in the first step in Freemasonry the express command of Christ is set at nought.
2. The administration and taking of this oath is a taking of the name of God in vain and is therefore an awful profanity. Exod. xx: 7: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." Professing Christian Freemasons, do you hear and remember this, and are you aware that in taking or administering this oath you take the name of God in vain and that He will not hoId you guiltless? Do you also remember that whenever you are present aiding, abetting, and consenting to the administering, and taking of this or any other Masonic oath you are guilty of violating the express command of Christ above quoted, and also the express prohibition of the lawgiver at Sinai? And yet you can see nothing unchristian in Freemasonry.
3. This oath pledges the candidate to keep whatever secrets they may communicate to him. But, for aught he knows, it may be unlawful to keep them. This oath is a snare to his soul. It must be wicked to thus commit himself on oath. The spirit of God's word forbids it.
4. The administrator of this oath had just assured the candidate that there was nothing in it inconsistent with his duty to God or to man. How is it, professed Christian, that you did not remember that you had no right to take an oath at all under such circumstances and for such reasons. Why did you not inquire of the Master by what authority he was about to administer an oath, and by what authority he expected and required you to take it? Why did you not ask him if God would hold him guiltless if he administered an oath in His name, and you guiltless if you took the oath. And when you have seen this or any other Masonic oath administered why have you not rebuked the violation of God's law and left the lodge?
5. Why did the Master assure the candidate that there was nothing in the oath contrary to his obligations to God or man, and then instantly proceed to violate the laws of both God and man and to require of the candidate the same violation of law, human and divine?
6. The penalty for violating this oath is monstrous, barbarous, savage, and is utterly repugnant to all laws of morality, religion or decency. Binding myself "under no less a penalty than to have my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by the roots, and my body buried in the sands of the sea at low-water mark, etc." Now, has any man a right to incur such a penalty as this?
I say again: such a penalty is savage, barbarous, unchristian, inhuman, abominable. It should be here remarked that in this oath is really found the virus of all that follows in Freemasonry. The candidate is sworn to keep secret everything that is to be revealed to him in Freemasonry of which as yet he knows absolutely nothing. This is frequently repeated in the obligations that follow.
It will be observed that the candidate says, "to all of which I do solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, without the least equivocation, mental reservation, or self-evasion of mind in me, whatever." Richardson, who published the Freemason's Monitor in 1860, on the 4th page of his preface, says of Masonry: :The "oaths and obligations were then undoubtedly binding (that is when Freemasonry was first established), not only for the protection of the members but for the preservation of the very imperfect arts and sciences of that period. To suppose these oaths mean anything now is simply absurd." What! How is this compatible with what is said in this first oath of Masonry, and hence binding through every degree of Masonry. "ALL THIS, I MOST SOLEMNLY AND SINCERELY PROMISE AND SWEAR, WITHOUT THE LEAST EQUIVOCATION, MENTAL RESERVATION, OR SELF-EVASION OF MIND IN ME WHATEVER." And now we are told by one of the highest Masonic authorities, that, to suppose that Masonic oaths mean anything in these days, is simply absurd. THEN, SURELY THEY ARE BLASPHEMY.
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