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´╗┐Title: Secret Societies
Author: MacDill, David, 1826-1903, Blanchard, Jonathan, 1811-1892, Beecher, Edward, 1803-1895
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Secret Societies" ***

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A Discussion of Their Character and Claims



      'Have no fellowship with the
      unfruitful works of darkness, but
      rather reprove them.' --EPH. v: 11.



       CHAPTER VI.         FALSE CLAIMS.





1. Secret associations are of very ancient origin. They existed among
the ancient Egyptians, Hindoos, Grecians, Romans, and probably among
nearly all the pagan nations of antiquity. This fact, however is
neither proof of their utility nor of their harmlessness. Slavery,
despotism, cruelty, drunken falsehood, and all sorts of sins and
crimes have been practiced from time immemorial, but are none the less
to be reprobated on that account.

2. The facts that these associations had no existence among the
Israelites, who, alone of all the ancient nations, enjoyed the light of
Divine revelation, and that they originated and flourished among the
heathen, who were vain in their imaginations; whose foolish heart was
darkened, and whom God gave up to uncleanness through the lusts of
their own hearts (Rom. i: 21-24), is a presumptive proof that their
nature and tendency are evil. We do not claim that all the
institutions among God's ancient people were right and good; nor that
every institution among the heathen was sinful and injurious; still,
that which was so popular among those whom the Bible declares to have
been filled with all unrighteousness; that which was so pleasing to
men whom God had given over to a reprobate mind and to vile affections
(Rom. i: 26-28); that which made a part of the worship which the
ignorant heathen offered up to their unclean gods, and which was
unknown among God's chosen people, is certainly a thing to be viewed
with suspicion. A thing of so bad origin and so bad accompaniments we
should be very slow to approve. The fact that many good men see no
evil in secret societies, and that many good men have been and are
members of them, is more than counterbalanced by the fact that many
good men very decidedly disapprove of them, and that, from time
immemorial, men of vile affections and reprobate minds, men whose
inclinations and consciences were perverted by heathenish ignorance
and error, and by a corrupt and abominable religion, have been very
fond of them.

3. Doubtless the authors and conductors of the ancient _mysteries_
made high pretensions, just as do the modern advocates of secret
societies. Perhaps the original design of the ancient mysteries was to
civilize mankind and promote religion; that is, pagan superstition.
But whatever may have been the _design_ of the authors of them, it is
certain that they became schools of superstition and vice. Their
pernicious character and influence were so manifest that the ancient
Christian writers almost universally exclaimed against them. (Leland's
Chr. Rev., p. 223.) Bishop Warburton, who, in his "Divine Legation,"
maintains that the ancient mysteries were originally pure, declares
that they "became abominably abused, and that in Cicero's time the
terms mysteries and abominations were almost synonymous." The cause of
their corruption, this eminent writer declares to be the _secrecy_
with which they were performed. He says: "We can assign no surer cause
of the horrid abuses and corruptions of the mysteries than the
_season_ in which they were represented, and the profound silence in
which they were buried. Night gave opportunity to wicked men to
attempt evil actions, and the secrecy encouragement to repeat them."
(Leland's Chr. Rev., p. 194.) It seems to have been of these ancient
secret associations that the inspired Apostle said, "_It is a shame
even to speak of those things which are done in secret_." (Eph. v:

4. In view of these facts, the antiquity of secret societies is no
argument in their favor; yet it is no uncommon thing to find their
members tracing their origin back to the heathenish mysteries of the
ancient Egyptians, Hindoos, or Grecians. (See Webb's Freemason's
Monitor, p. 39.) Since the ancient mysteries were so impure and
abominable, those who boast of their affinity with them must be
classed with them of whom the Apostle says, "_Their glory is in their
shame_" (Phil, iii: 19.)



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

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

"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.



1. Another serious objection to secret associations is the profanation
by them of the oath of God. We regard such profanation as the natural
result of their secrecy. When associations of men endeavor to keep
secret their operations from generation to generation, they will not
be willing to trust to the honor and honesty of their members. A
simple promise of secrecy will not be deemed sufficient. Oaths or
promises, with dreadful penalties, will very likely be required of all
those who are admitted as members. Secret societies may, perhaps,
exist without such oaths and promises. If the members of an
association are few in number, or if the publication of its secrets
would not be regarded as very injurious to its interests, perhaps a
simple promise of secrecy will be regarded as sufficient; but whenever
an association endeavors to secure a numerous membership, and regards
a disclosure of its secrets as likely to damage its reputation or
hinder its success, something more than a simple promise of secrecy
will very likely be required at the initiation of members.
Accordingly, some secret associations, it is known, do employ awful
sanctions in order to secure concealment. Even when the members of a
secret order claim that they are not bound to secrecy by oath, but
only by a simple promise, it will, perhaps, be found on examination
that that promise is, in reality, an oath. An appeal to God or to
heaven, whether made expressly or impliedly, in attestation of the
truth of a promise or declaration, is an oath. Such an appeal may not
be regarded as an oath in our civil courts, the violator of which
would incur the pains and penalties of perjury; yet certainly it is an
oath according to the teachings of the Bible. Our Savior teaches that
to swear by the temple, is to swear by God who dwelleth therein; and
that to swear by heaven, is to swear by the throne of God, and by him
that sitteth thereon. (Matt. xx: 23.) We find, also, that the words,
"As the Lord liveth," is to be regarded as an oath. King David is
repeatedly said to have sworn, when he used this form of expression,
in attestation of his sincerity. (1 Sam. xx: 3; 1 Kings i: 29.) An
appeal to God, whether direct or indirect, in attestation of the truth
of a declaration or promise, is an oath. As we have already said, a
secret association may exist without an oath. But we are not sure that
any does. Odd-fellows have declared that they have no initiatory oath.
In the address published by the Grand Lodge of the United States,
referred to before, the following declaration is made: "No oath, as
was once supposed, is administered to the candidate." (App. to
Proceedings of Grand Lodge, 1859, p. 10.) Yet Grosch, in his
Odd-fellows' Manual, speaks of an "appeal to heaven" in the
initiation, at least, into one of the degrees. (P. 306.) Perhaps the
contradiction arises from a difference of opinion in regard to what it
takes to constitute an oath, or, perhaps, from the fact that an oath
is required in initiations into some degrees, but not in others.
However this may be, we know that some secret societies have
initiatory oaths, and that nearly all administer what, in the sight of
God, is an oath, though they may not so view it themselves. Nor do we
see any reason to discredit the declaration of Grosch that the
candidate "appeals to heaven."

2. Now, the taking of an initiatory oath is, to say the very least of
it, of doubtful propriety. Every one who does so swears by the living
God that he will forever keep secret things about which he knows
nothing. The secrets of the association are not imparted to him until
after he has sworn that he will not reveal them. He is kept ignorant
of them until the "brethren" are assured by his appeal to heaven that
they can trust him. Now, the inspired apostle lays down the principle
that a man sins when he does any thing about the propriety of which he
is in doubt. He declares that the eating of meats was in itself a
matter of indifference, but that if any man esteem any thing unclean,
to him it is unclean. He then makes the following declaration: "But he
that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith; for
whatsoever is not of faith is sin." (Rom. xiv: 22, 23.) According to
this most emphatic declaration, we must have faith and confidence that
what we do is right, else we are blameworthy. We sin whenever we do
any thing which is, according to our own judgment, of doubtful
propriety. The man who is initiated into an oath-bound society, swears
that he will keep secret things about which he knows nothing--things
which, for aught he knows, ought not to be kept secret. If the apostle
condemned, in most emphatic language, the man who would do so trivial
a thing as eat meat without assuring himself of the lawfulness of his
doing so, what would he have said had the practice existed in his day
of swearing by the God of heaven in regard to matters that are
altogether unknown? To say the very least, such swearing is altogether
inconsistent with that caution and conscientiousness which the
Scriptures enjoin. The apostle also condemns the conduct of those who
"_understand neither what they say nor whereof they affirm_" (1 Tim.
i: 7.) Does not his condemnation fall on those who know not about what
they swear, nor whereof they appeal to heaven?

3. There is another objection to taking an initiatory oath. We are
expressly forbidden to take God's name in vain. To pronounce God's
name without a good reason for doing so is to take it in vain.
Certainly, to swear by the name of the living God demands an important
occasion. To make an appeal to the God of heaven on some trifling
occasion is a profanation of his oath and name. If the secrets of
Masonry, Odd-fellowship, Good Templars, and similar associations, are
unimportant, their oaths, appeals to heaven, and solemn promises made
in the presence of God are profane and sinful. Perhaps their boasted
secrets are only signs, grips, pass-words, and absurd rites of
initiation. To swear by the name of the Lord about things of this kind
is certainly a violation of the third commandment. The candidate does
not _know_ that the secrets about to be disclosed to him are of any
importance, and he runs the risk of using God's name and oath about
light and trivial things. He must be uncertain whether there is any
thing of importance in hand at the time of swearing, and how can he
escape the disapproval of God, since the inspired Paul declares that
the doubtful eater of meat is damned? (Rom. xiv: 23.)

4. We have already adverted to the fact that concealment is resorted
to in order to take advantage of "a weakness in human nature," and to
recommend things which, if known generally, would be disregarded. Is
it right to use the name and oath of God for the accomplishment of
such purposes? Is it right to use the name and oath of God in order to
take advantage of "a weakness in human nature," and to invest with
fictitious charms things which, if seen in the clear light of day,
would be regarded with indifference or contempt? The taking of oaths
for such purposes, and under such circumstances will generally be
avoided by those who give good heed to the command, "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."

5. While we do not claim that there is any passage of Scripture which
expressly declares the initiatory oaths under consideration to be
profane and sinful, at the same time there are many passages which
require us to beware how and when we swear:

"_But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven,
neither by the earth, neither by any other oath; but let your yea be
yea, and your nay, nay, lest ye fall into condemnation_." (James v:
12.) Does not this command condemn those who swear to keep secret they
know not what, and to fulfill obligations which devolve upon them as
members of an association, before they know fully what that
association is, or what those obligations are? Should not every one
consider himself admonished not to swear such an oath lest he fall
into condemnation? Again: Our Savior says, "Swear not at all; neither
by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is his
footstool; neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king.
Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one
hair white or black; but let your communication be yea, yea, nay, nay;
for whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil." These words were
spoken in condemnation of those who employed oaths frequently and on
improper occasions. They should make every one hesitate in regard to
swearing, in any form, on his initiation into an order the obligations
and operations of which have not yet been revealed to him. Once more:
"_Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to
utter any thing before God, for God is in heaven and thou upon earth;
therefore, let thy words be few_." (Eccl. v: 2.) Is it not a rash
thing to bind one's self by the oath of God to keep secret things as
yet unknown, or to bind one's self to conform to unknown regulations
and usages? In view of these declarations of the Word of God, it
certainly would be well to avoid taking such oaths as generally are
required of the members of secret associations at their initiation.

6. The _promise_ required of candidates at their initiation, whether
there be an oath or not, is also, at least in many cases, improper and
sinful. For instance, the "candidate for the mysteries of Masonry,"
previous to initiation, must make the declaration that he "will
cheerfully conform to all the ancient established usages and customs
of the fraternity." (Webb's Freemason's Monitor, p. 34.) Grosch, in
his Odd-fellows' Manual, directs the candidate at his initiation as
follows: "Give yourself passively to your guides, to lead you
whithersoever they will." (P. 91.) Again, in regard to initiation into
a certain degree, he says: "The candidate for this degree should be
firm and decided in his answers to all questions asked him, and
patient in all required of him," etc. (P. 279.) In the form of
application for membership, as laid down by Grosch, the applicant
promises as follows:

"If admitted, I promise obedience to the usages and laws of the Order
and of the Lodge." (P. 378.)

These declarations, by reliable authors, plainly show that both in
Masonry and Odd-fellowship obligations are laid on members of which,
at the time, they are ignorant. Candidates for Masonry must promise to
conform, yes, "cheerfully conform to all the ancient established
usages and customs of the fraternity." The application for membership
in the association of Odd-fellows must be accompanied by a promise of
obedience to the usages and laws both of the whole Order and of the
lodge in which membership is sought. No man has a right to make such a
promise until he has carefully examined the usages, and customs, and
laws referred to. While he is ignorant of them, he does not know but
some of them or all of them may be morally wrong. Before the candidate
has been initiated, he has not had an opportunity of acquainting
himself with all the laws, usages, and customs which he promises to
obey. Is not such a promise condemned by the divine injunction, "Be
not rash with thy mouth?" Is not the man who promises to obey
regulations, customs, and usages before he knows fully what they are
as blameworthy as the doubtful eater of meats, who, the inspired
apostle tells us, is damned for doing what he is not confident is
right? The candidate for initiation into Odd-fellowship must "give
himself passively to his guides." Such demands indicate the spirit
which secret associations require of their members. They must
surrender the exercise of their own judgment, and permit themselves to
be blindly led by others. No man has a right thus to surrender himself
passively to the guidance of others. Every man is bound to act
according to his own judgment and conscience. Before a man promises to
obey any human regulations, or to conform to any usage or custom, he
is bound to know what that regulation, usage, or custom is, and to see
that it is morally right. To do otherwise is to sin against conscience
and the law of God.

7. Besides this, the promise to "preserve mysteries inviolate," made
before they have been made known to the promiser, is condemned by
sound morality. He may have heard the declaration of others that there
is nothing wrong in "the mysteries," but this is not sufficient to
justify him. A man is bound to exercise his own reason and conscience
in regard to all questions of morality.

No man has a right, at any time, to lay aside his reason and
conscience and allow himself to be "guided passively" by others. Every
man is bound to see and decide for himself in every case of duty and
morals. We should not let the church of Christ even decide for us in
such matters, much less some association, composed, it may be, of
infidels, Mormons, Jews, Mohammedans, and all sorts of men except
atheists. (See pages 37, 31.) A band of such men may have secrets very
immoral in character, and which it would be a violation of God's law
to preserve inviolate. To promise beforehand that any "mysteries"
which they may see fit to enact and practice shall be forever
concealed, is to trifle with conscience and morality. It is useless to
plead that a member can withdraw as soon as he discovers any thing
wrong in the regulations and usages which he is required to obey.
Every one who joins such an association as those under consideration
must make up his mind to do so before he knows what "the mysteries"
are, and he must promise (either with or without an oath) that he will
preserve them inviolate before "the brethren" will intrust them to
him. The possibility of dissolving his connection with the association
afterward does not exonerate him of promising to do he knows not
what--of laying aside his own conscience and reason, and yielding
himself "passively" to others. The promise of secrecy and of obedience
to unknown regulations and customs, required at the initiation of
candidates into such associations as we are considering, is,
therefore, a step in the dark. It involves the assuming of an
obligation to do what _may be_ morally wrong, and is, therefore,
inconsistent with the teachings of the Word of God and the principles
of sound morality.



1. Another evil connected with secrecy, as maintained by the
associations the character of which is now under consideration, is the
profane use of sacred things in ceremonies, celebrations, and
processions. This evil has, perhaps, no _necessary_ connection with
secrecy, but has generally in _fact_. The "secret societies" of
antiquity dealt largely in religious ceremonies. It is the frequent
boast of Masons, Odd-fellows, and others, that their associations
correspond to those of ancient times. There is, indeed, a
correspondence between them in the use of religious rites. Those of
ancient times employed the rites of heathenish superstition; those of
modern times are, perhaps, as objectionable on account of their
prostituting the religion of Christ. The holy Bible, the word of the
living God, is used by Masons as a mere emblem, like the square and
compass. The pot of incense, the holy tabernacle, the ark of the
covenant, the holy miter, and the holy breastplate are also employed
as emblems, along with the lambskin and the sword pointing to a naked
heart. At the opening of lodges and during initiations, passages of
Scripture are read as a mere ceremony, or as a charge to the members
in regard to their duty as Masons. Thus a perverse use of holy
Scripture is made in the application of it to matters to which it has
no reference whatever. (Freemason's Monitor, pp. 92, 19-181). Even the
great Jehovah is represented in some of their ceremonies by symbols.
His all-seeing eye is represented by the image of a human eye.
(Freemason's Monitor, pp. 85, 290.) Masonry also profanes the name and
titles of God. God alone is to be worshiped; he alone should be
addressed as the _Most Worshipful Being_. But Masonry requires the use
of such language as follows: "The Most Worshipful Grand Master," and
"The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge." God alone is Almighty, but Masons
have their "Thrice Illustrious and Grand Puissant," and their "Thrice
Potent Grand Master." God alone is perfect, but Masons have a "Grand
Lodge of Perfection" and a "Grand Elect Perfect and Sublime Mason."
(Monitor, pp. 187, 219; Monitor of Free and Accepted Rite, pp. 52.)
Christ is the great High Priest, and Aaron and his successors were his
representatives, but Masons have a "High Priest," a "_Grand_ High
Priest," yea, a "_Most Excellent_ Grand High Priest." At the
installation of this so-called High Priest, various passages of
Scripture treating of the priesthood of Melchisedec and of Christ are
used. (Webb's Monitor, pp. 178-181, 187.)

We regard these high-sounding titles as ridiculous, and as well
calculated to excite derision and scorn; but we do not now treat of
them in that regard. We call attention, at present, to the emblems and
titles used by Masons as profane. God did not intend his holy Word,
and the Tabernacle, and the Ark of the Covenant, and the Breastplate,
to be used as the symbols of Masonry. These and other holy things were
intended only for holy purposes. To use them as the Masons do is to
pervert and profane them. The visible representation of the all-seeing
eye of God is certainly a species of idolatry, and is forbidden by the
second commandment. Such, also, are the triangles, declared to be "a
beautiful emblem of the eternal Jehovah." (Monitor, p. 290.) The
Israelites, of course, did not understand that the Divine Being was
really like their golden calf; they considered it a symbol of Deity.
How much better is it to assimilate God to a _triangle_ than to a
calf? The difference is just this: the latter idea is more gross than
the former. The sin of idolatry--that is, of representing God under a
visible figure--is involved in both cases. The profaneness of the
titles mentioned above must at once be evident to every reverent,
considerate mind. They are such as in the Bible are ascribed only to
God and to Christ. Indeed, Masons give more exalted titles to their
sham priest than the Scriptures employ to describe the character and
office of the great High Priest who is "made higher than the heavens."
If this is not profane, we are at a loss to know what can be profane.

2. The Odd-fellows in profanation of holy things go about as far as
the Masons. They employ "the brazen serpent," "the budded rod of
Aaron," "the Ark of the Covenant," "the breastplate for the high
priest," and other holy things as emblems of their order, along with,
"the shining sun," "the half moon," etc. They have their "Most Worthy
Grand Master," and their "Most Excellent Grand High Priest," and other
officers designated by titles which should be given to God and Christ
alone. Indeed, as it respects emblems and titles, Masonry seems to be
the example which other secret associations have followed. In regard
to the profanation of holy things, the difference between most of the
secret associations in our land is one merely of degree. This
profanation of the word, name, and titles of God is certainly sinful
in itself, and very injurious in its effects. What kind of ideas of
God, and Christ, and heaven must persons have who conceive and think
of God under the figure of three triangles; of Christ and his
priesthood as symbolized by "the Most Excellent Grand High Priest,"
officiating amid the tomfooleries of Masonry and Odd-fellowship; and
of heaven as a Grand Lodge-room. What ideas of the Divine Majesty and
Glory must they have who are accustomed to give to the officers of a
secret association, and to men who are, perhaps, destitute of faith
and holiness, and who may be Jews, Turks, or infidels, as grand titles
as the Scriptures give to the God of heaven and the Savior of the
world. Besides it is very improper and sinful to give to mere men the
titles and glory which are due to God alone. We learn that it was
precisely for this sin that the Divine displeasure was visited upon
king Herod. On a certain occasion having put on his royal apparel, he
sat on his throne and made a public oration. The people who heard him
shouted and said, "_It is the voice of a God and not of a man; and
immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God
the glory; and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost_." (Acts
xii: 23.) It was for the same spirit of self-glorification that the
king of Babylon was punished with madness and disgrace. Nebuchadnezzar
walked in his palace, and said: "Is not this great Babylon, which I
have built for the house of my kingdom by the might of my power, and
for the honor of my majesty?" The same hour he was driven from men,
and did eat grass as oxen; and his body was wet with the dew of
heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails
like birds' claws. (Dan. iv: 30-33.)

2 [sic]. Another objectionable feature of many secret societies is,
that they profane the _worship_ of God. They claim (at least those
which seem to embrace the most numerous membership) to be, in some
sense, religious associations. They maintain forms of worship; their
rituals contain prayers to be used at initiations, installations,
funerals, consecrations, etc. They receive into membership, as we
shall afterward see, almost all sorts of men except atheists. Being
composed of Jews, Turks, Mohammedans, Mormons, and infidels, as well
as of believers in Christianity, they endeavor to establish such forms
as will be acceptable to their mongrel and motley membership. Hence
their prayers and other forms of worship are such as may be
consistently used by the irreligious and by infidels, and only by
them. We do not say that no Christian prayers are offered up in
Masonic lodges. No doubt some godly men, as chaplains, offer up
extempore prayers in the name of Christ; but such prayers are not
Masonic. They are not authorized by the Masonic ritual; they are
contrary to the spirit if not to the express regulations of Masonry.
Any member would have a right to object to them, and his objections
would have to be sustained. The only prayers which Masonry does
authorize, and can consistently authorize, are Christless--infidel
prayers and services. The proof of this declaration can be found in
every Masonic manual. (See Webb's Monitor, pp. 36, 80, 189, and
Carson's Monitor, of the Ancient and Accepted Rite, pp. 47, 61, 95,
99.) In all the prayers thus presented, the name of Christ is
excluded; it is excluded even from the prayers to be offered at the
installation of the "Most Excellent Grand High Priest." (Webb's Mon.,
pp. 183, 189.) The idea of human guilt is, also, almost entirely
excluded from these prayers; the idea of pardon through the atonement
of Christ is never once presented in them. In the prayer to be used at
the funeral of a "Past Master," it is declared that admission unto
God's "everlasting kingdom is the just reward of a pious and virtuous
life." Every true Christian, on reflection, must see that such prayers
are an insult to the Almighty. They are just such as infidels and all
objectors of Christ may offer.

The prayers of the society of Odd-fellows are equally objectionable.
In respect to the character of their religious services, they are to
be classed with the Masons. Odd-fellowship knows no God but the god of
the infidel; it recognizes the Creator of the Universe and the Father
of men, but not the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The
name of Christ has no more a place in the religion of Odd-fellowship,
according to its principles and regulations, than in a heathen temple
or an infidel club-room. It is quite likely that sometimes chaplains,
officiating in the lodge-room, pray in the name of Christ; but a Turk,
according to the principles and regulations of Odd-fellowship, would
have just as much right to pray in the name of Mohammed, or a Mormon
in the name of Joe Smith. These are facts which, we presume, all
acquainted with the forms and ceremonies in use among Odd-fellows will
admit. Grosch, in his Manual, makes the following declaration: "The
descendants of Abraham, the divers followers of Jesus, the Pariahs of
the stricter sects, here gather round the same altar as one family,
manifesting no differences of creed or worship; and discord and
contention are forgotten in works of humanity and peace." (Pp. 285,
286.) This declaration has reference, of course, to _all_ the members
of the associations--believers in Christianity, Jews, Mohammedans,
Indians, Hindoos, and infidels. How do they manage to worship so
lovingly together in the lodge-room? Our author asserts that they
"leave their prejudices at the door." Of course their forms of worship
embody no "prejudices." The thing is managed in this way: Whatever is
peculiar to Judaism is excluded from the ritual and worship of
Odd-fellows; whatever is peculiar to Hindooism is excluded; whatever
is peculiar to Mohammedanism is excluded; whatever is peculiar to
Christianity is excluded; whatever is peculiar to any form of religion
is excluded. Only so much as is held in common by Jews, Hindoos,
Mohammedans, and Christians is allowed a place in the ritual and
worship of Odd-fellows. But how much is held in common by these
various classes? After every thing peculiar to each class has been
thrown overboard, how much is left? Nothing but _deism_ or
_infidelity_. The only views held in common by the Jew, Mohammedan,
Christian, and others are just those held by infidels. The religion of
Odd-fellowship is _infidelity_, and its prayers are _infidel_ prayers.

Not only such are the prayers and religion of Masonry and
Odd-fellowship, but such _must_ be the religion and prayers of all
associations organized on their principles. The only way to welcome
all of every creed, Jew, Mohammedan, Hindoo, etc., and make them feel
at home in an association, is to exclude every thing offensive to the
conscience or prejudices of any one of them. And when every thing of
that sort has been excluded, the residuum, in every case, as every one
must see, will be deism or infidelity. This is a serious matter.
Christians are not free from guilt in countenancing such prayers and
services. The tendency of such religious performances must be very
injurious. Whoever adopts the religious, or rather irreligious, spirit
and principles of Masonry, Odd-fellowship, and other similar
associations must discard Christianity and the Bible. No doubt there
are _some_, perhaps there are _many_ Christians in connection with
such associations, but they certainly do not and can not approve the
Christless prayers of the lodge-room, much less join in them. Is it
right for the disciples of Jesus, or even for believers in
Christianity, as the great majority of people in this country are, to
sustain any association which puts Christianity on a level with pagan
superstition, which treats Jesus Christ with no more regard and
veneration than it does Mohammed, Confucius, or Joe Smith, and whose
only religion is the religion of infidels?

If secret associations did not pretend to have _any_ religion or _any_
religious services, but would, like bank and railroad companies,
conduct their affairs without religious forms, it would be infinitely



1. Another objection which may be urged against secret societies in
general, is their selfish exclusiveness.

It is well known that the Christian religion has often been subjected
to reproach by the bigotry and sectarianism of its professors. If the
_Bible_ inculcated bigotry and sectarianism, it would be a
well-founded objection to Christianity itself; but Christianity is
eminently catholic and democratic, and is diametrically opposed to an
exclusive and partisan spirit. The command of Christ to his church is
to make no distinction on account of class or condition, but to
receive all, and especially to care for the poor, the unfortunate, the
oppressed, the blind, the lame, the maimed, and the diseased.
Sometimes men calling themselves Christians act so directly contrary
to the impartial, catholic spirit and teachings of Christ as to render
themselves unworthy of all sympathy and encouragement; but the
exclusiveness of secret societies is, we think, unparalleled in our
day for its selfishness and meanness. They claim to be charitable and
benevolent institutions; they assert that membership in them confers
great honors and advantages; they profess (at least many of them) to
act on the principle of the universal brotherhood of men and
fatherhood of God. (Moore's Con. of Freemasonry, p. 125; Webb's
Monitor, pp. 21, 51; Proceedings of Odd-fellows' Grand Lodge of United
States, 1859, App., p. 6.) We say nothing now about the falsity of
these claims and professions; but we assert that, even admitting the
boasted honors and advantages enjoyed by members of secret
associations, such associations are eminently exclusive and selfish.
Of this proposition there is abundant proof.

2. The Masons utterly refuse to admit as members women, slaves,
persons not free-born, and persons having any maim, defect, or
imperfection in their bodies; or, at least, the principles of Masonry
forbid the admission of all such persons. (Masonic Constitutions,
published by authority of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, Art. 3 and 4.)
Moore, editor of the Masonic Review, in his Ancient Charges and
Regulations of Freemasonry, in commenting on the articles above
referred to, makes the following declarations: "The rituals and
ceremonies of the order forbid the presence of women;" and "the law
proclaiming her exclusion is as unrepealable as that of the Medes and
Persians." (P. 145.) Again: "Masonry requires candidates for its
honors to have been free by birth; no taint of slavery or dishonor
must rest upon their origin." (P. 143.) Once more this author remarks:
"A candidate for Masonry must be physically perfect. As under the
Jewish economy no person who was maimed or defective in his physical
organism, though of the tribe of Aaron, could enter upon the office of
a priest, nor a physically defective animal be offered in sacrifice,
so no man who is not 'perfect' in his bodily organization can legally
be made a Mason. We have occasionally met with men having but one arm
or one leg, who in that condition had been made Masons; and on one or
two occasions we have found those who were _totally blind_ who had
been admitted! This is so entirely illegal, so utterly at variance
with a law which every Mason is bound to obey, that it seems almost
incredible, yet it is true." (P. 152.) It is, hence, seen that Masonry
is very exclusive. No woman can be a member. This regulation excludes
at once one half of mankind from its boasted advantages. The oppressed
slave is excluded; the man born in slavery, though now free, is
excluded; the lame man is excluded; the man who has lost an eye is
excluded; the man who has lost a hand is excluded; the man who has
lost a foot is excluded; the man on whose birth any taint of dishonor
rests is excluded; the man who is imperfect in body is excluded. No
matter how good, patriotic, and wise such persons are, still they are
excluded; no matter how needy such persons are, still they are
excluded; no matter though a man have lost a hand, or foot, or eye in
defense of his country and liberty, still he is excluded; no matter
though a freedman, exhibiting bravery, and piety, and every virtue,
still the "taint of slavery rests on his birth," he is excluded.
Widows and orphans are excluded.

"If a brother should be a rebel against the state, the loyal
brotherhood can not expel him from the lodge, and his relation to it
remains indefeasible." (Moore's Constitutions, Art. 2.) A Mason may be
engaged in a wicked rebellion, and may stain his soul and hands with
innocent blood, and still he must be recognized as "a brother" and
must continue to enjoy all the boasted rights and advantages of the
order; but the patriot soldier who has been disabled for life in
defense of his country and liberty is excluded. The widows and orphans
of rebel Masons slain in battle, or righteously executed on the
scaffold, must receive "the benefits;" but the widows and orphans of
patriot soldiers who did not choose to join the Masons, or were
excluded by some bodily imperfection, or by wounds received in battle,
are left to the charities of "the ignorant and prejudiced." The Jew,
the Turk, the Hindoo, the American savage, and the infidel (provided
they are not atheists), are eligible to the boasted honors and
advantages of Masonry. (Moore's Constitutions, pp. 119, 123.) But if a
man have every intellectual gift and every moral virtue, and have some
bodily imperfection, he is excluded. A man may be as gifted and as
learned as Milton, as incorruptible and patriotic as Washington, and
as benevolent as Howard, but if he is physically imperfect he is
excluded from this association, which claims to be no respecter of
persons, but to be the patron of merit, and which professes to act on
the principle of the universal brotherhood of men.

3. Exclusiveness in about the same degree characterizes other secret
societies. The Constitution of the Odd-fellows' Grand Lodge of Ohio
provides that the candidate for membership must be "a free white
person possessed of some known means of support and free from all
infirmity or disease." (Art. 6, Sec. 1.) Substantially the same
qualifications for membership are required by the constitutions and
laws of other secret associations. (Constitution of Ancient Order of
Good-fellows, Art. 6, Sec. 1; Constitution of Improved Order of Red
Men, Art. 5, Sec. 1; Constitution of United Ancient Order of Druids,
Art. 8, Sec. 1.)

4. Not only are these associations exclusive and selfish in regard to
receiving members; not only do they utterly refuse to admit a man,
however good, and wise, and patriotic he may be, in case he is
diseased or infirm, or is disabled by wounds in the service of his
country, and is too poor and feeble to maintain himself and his
family; not only do they exclude all such persons from membership and
from the boasted privileges, and honors, and pecuniary benefits
pertaining thereto, but also their regulations in regard to their
internal affairs manifest an unchristian, anti-republican, exclusive,
selfish spirit. For instance, Masons will not, and, indeed, according
to their regulations, can not, bestow funeral honors upon deceased
members who had not advanced to the third degree. Those of the first
and second degree can not thus be honored. They are not entitled to
funeral obsequies, nor are they allowed to attend a Masonic funeral
procession. (Webb's Monitor, pp. 132-133.)

Again: Though Masonry makes professions of universal benevolence on
the ground "that the radiant arch of Masonry spans the whole habitable
globe;" though it declares that every true and worthy brother of the
order, no matter what be his language, country, religion, creed,
opinions, politics, or condition, is a legitimate object for the
exercise of benevolence, (Masonic Constitutions, by Grand Lodge of
Ohio, p. 80); still it is declared that "Master Masons only are
entitled to Masonic burial or relief from the charity fund." (Masonic
Constitutions by Grand Lodge of Ohio, p. 39.) The rulers of Masons can
not be chosen from the members of the first or second degree. It is
thus seen that the first two degrees serve as a sort of substratum on
which the other degrees rest, and the "honors and benefits" are not
intended for persons of the former.

The exclusiveness and selfishness of other secret associations are
also apparent from their regulations. As shown above, they exclude all
diseased and infirm persons from membership, and of course from all
the "benefits." They generally provide that, in case of sickness or
disability, a member shall receive three dollars per week, and in case
of the death of a member, the sum of thirty dollars shall be
contributed toward defraying his funeral expenses. But all the
associations making such regulations also provide that a member who is
in "arrears for dues" shall receive no aid in case of sickness or
disability; and in case of the death of a member who is "in arrears
for dues" nothing shall be contributed to defray his funeral expenses,
and his wife and children, however destitute they may be, can receive
no aid. In such cases, the destitute widow and orphans must not look
to "the _charitable_ association" of which the departed husband and
father was a member, but to outsiders--yes, to "prejudiced and
ignorant" outsiders--for aid to bury his dead body with decency.
Grosch says, "The philosopher's stone is found by the Odd-fellow in
three words, _Pay in advance_. There are few old members of the order
who can not relate some case of peculiar hardship caused by
non-payment of dues. Some good but careless brother, who neglected
this small item of duty until he was suddenly called out of this life,
was found to be not beneficial, and his widow and orphans, when _most_
in need, were left destitute of all _legal_ claims on the funds he had
for years been aiding to accumulate." (Monitor, p. 198, 199.) Such
facts as these prove secret associations to be exclusive, heartless,
selfish concerns. (See Constitution of Druids, Art. 2, Sec. 1, and
By-laws, Art. 11, Sec. 1; Constitution of Good-fellows, Art. 16, Sec.
1; Constitution of Amer. Prot. Asso., Art. 9, Sec. 1-5.)



1. Another very serious objection to secret societies is that they set
up false claims. No doubt a secret association may exist without doing
so, but the setting up of false claims is the legitimate result and
the usual accompaniment of secrecy. The object of secrecy is
deception. When a man endeavors to conceal his business affairs, it is
with the design of taking advantage of the ignorance of others.
Napoleon once remarked, "The secret of majesty is mystery." This keen
observer knew that the false claims of royalty would become
contemptible but for the deception which kings and queens practice on
mankind. We have quoted above from a book, the reliability of which
will not be called in question, to show that the design of secrecy, on
the part of Masons, is to take advantage of "a weakness in human
nature," and to invest with a charm things which, if generally known,
"would sink into disregard." So, also, "the aid of the mysterious" is
resorted to by Odd-fellows to render their "meetings attractive," and
to "stimulate applications for membership." (Proceedings of Grand
Lodge, 1859, App., p. 10.) It will scarcely be disputed that such is
the design of the concealment practiced by secret associations in
general. It is thus shown that secrecy is the result of an
unwillingness to rely upon real merit and the sober judgment of
mankind for success, and of a desire, on the part of associations
practicing it, to pass for what they are not. Hence, the design of
secrecy involves hypocrisy, or something very much like it.

2. But, whatever may be the _design_ of secrecy, secret associations
do set up false claims. They all, or almost all, claim to be
charitable institutions. This is the frequent boast of Masons and
Odd-fellows. Moore, in his "Constitutions," declares that "charity and
hospitality are the distinguishing characteristics" of Masonry. (P.
71.) In the charge to a "Master Mason," at his initiation, it is
declared that "Masonic charity is as broad as the mantle of heaven and
co-extensive with the boundaries of the world." (Masonic
Constitutions, published by the Grand Lodge of Ohio, p. 80.) "The
Right Worthy Grand Representative," Boylston, in his oration delivered
in New York, April 26, 1859, declared that Odd-fellowship is "most
generally known and commended by its charities." (Proceedings of Grand
Lodge, 1859, App., p. 6.) Such is the style in which secret
associations glorify themselves. Such boasting, however, is not good.
It is contrary to the command of our Savior: "Therefore, when thou
doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the
hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have
glory of men." The boasting of secret associations about their
charities is precisely what our Savior not only forbids, but also
declares to be characteristic of hypocrites. And such boasting is,
indeed, generally vain. When a man boasts of any thing, whether of his
wealth, pedigree, bravery, wisdom, or honesty, there is good reason to
suspect that his claims are not well founded. Hence, the very boasting
of secret associations about their benevolence and charities is
presumptive evidence that their claims to the reputation of being
charitable institutions are hypocritical and false.

3. In the first place, "the benefits" are confined to their own
members. The excuse for secrecy, in some instances, is that it is
necessary in order that aid may not be obtained by persons who are not
members. In the "charge" delivered to a Master Mason at his
initiation, he is enjoined to exercise benevolence toward "every true
and worthy brother of the Order." In Boylston's address which we have
already quoted from several times, "the well-earned glory of
Odd-fellows" is declared to consist in this: that "no _worthy
Odd-fellow_ has ever sought aid and been refused." (Proceedings of
Grand Lodge, 1859, App., p. 9.) It is provided in the Constitution of
Odd-fellows, Good-fellows, etc., that aid shall be given to members
under certain circumstances; but it will be in vain to search in them
for any regulation providing for relief to any but members and their
families. The provision found in the constitution or by-laws of almost
every secret association that members "in arrears for dues" shall not
be entitled to "benefits," plainly shows that their vaunted "charity"
is restricted to their own members. This would not be so bad were it
not for the fact that they carefully exclude from membership all who
need aid or are likely to need aid. The Masons, according to their
Constitutions, must not receive as a member any man who is not
"physically perfect." The constitutions of other secret orders exclude
all who are diseased or infirm in body, or who have no means of
support. They exclude the blind, the lame, the maimed, the diseased,
the destitute, the widow and the orphan, and all who are wretchedly
poor or can not support themselves, and they cut off all such persons,
together with their own members who "are in arrears," from the
"benefits." Yet they talk about the universal brotherhood of men, and
claim for themselves the possession of universal benevolence!

4. Still further: The relief afforded to members is not to be regarded
as a charity. The amount granted in all cases is the same. The
constitutions of most secret associations that give aid to members
provide that three dollars a week shall be given in case of sickness,
and thirty dollars in case of death. The amount given does not
correspond to the condition of the recipient. The rich and the poor
fare alike. The member "in arrears" is not entitled to any aid. It is
only the _worthy brother_ who is entitled to aid, and in order to be a
worthy brother a member must punctually pay his "dues." Hence, the
amount bestowed in case of the sickness or death of a member is to be
regarded as a debt. The "Druids," in their Constitution, expressly
declare that the aid given to sick members is not to be regarded in
any other light than as the payment of a _debt_. "All money paid by
the grove for the relief of sick members shall not be considered as
charity, but as the just due of the sick." (Art. 2, Sec. 7.) Boylston,
in his oration, though boasting of the "charities" of Odd-fellowship,
declares that they do not wound or insult the pride of the receiver,
for the reason "that the relief extended is not of grace, but of
right." (Proceedings of Grand Lodge, 1859, Appendix, p. 6.) Grosch, in
his Odd-fellows' Manual, in justifying equality in dues and in
benefits, says: "He who did not pay an equivalent would feel degraded
at receiving benefits--would feel that they were not his just due, but
alms." (P. 66.) It is, hence, seen that the aid bestowed by secret
societies is no more a gift of charity than the dividends of a bank or
of a railroad company. The stockholders are entitled to their share of
the profits; so members of secret societies are entitled to a certain
share of the funds to which they have contributed. We say nothing for
or against the propriety of this arrangement, in itself considered.
Persons have, perhaps, a right to form themselves into a mutual
insurance company, to bargain with one another that they will aid each
other in case of sickness or want; that in case of the death of any of
the members, their families shall be provided for by the surviving
members; that only the members who continue to pay into the common
fund a certain sum monthly or quarterly shall receive such aid; that
no money shall be paid out of the common fund for the benefit of any
who are not members, or of their families; and that all diseased and
infirm persons, and very poor people, such as "have no visible means
of support," and are likely to need pecuniary aid, shall be excluded
from the company and from its benefits. Perhaps men have a right to
form themselves into an association with such regulations; perhaps
they have a right to leave "an unworthy brother" (a member who fails
to pay his "quarterly dues") and his family to the charities of
"ignorant and prejudiced" people who will not join secret societies;
and in case of the death of such a member, to leave his poor
heart-broken widow to beg of the same "ignorant and prejudiced"
outsiders enough of money to bury his dead body decently; _but they
have no right to call themselves a charitable association_. It is
probable that many Masons, Odd-fellows, Good-fellows, etc., are kind
to "unworthy brethren," and to the poor in general; but if so, they
are better than the associations of which they are members. Bankers
and money-brokers, no doubt, sometimes show kindness to the poor, but
it does not hence follow that banks and money-shaving establishments
are charitable institutions. Neither does it follow that secret
societies are charitable because their members, in case of sickness or
death, are entitled to a certain portion of the funds which they
themselves have contributed as initiation fees and quarterly dues,
while those who are in real want can not even become members. What
charity is there in persons pledging themselves to aid each other in
sickness or other misfortune, and to let widows and orphans, the lame
and the diseased, and the wretchedly poor, perish with hunger and
cold? It may not be improper for A, B, and C to promise that they will
take care of each other in sickness, and that in case of the death of
one of them his dead body shall be buried by the survivors. It may,
also, not be improper for a man to get his life or his property
insured. Insurance companies have done much good. Many a man has been
saved from pecuniary ruin by getting his property insured, and many a
man has secured a competence for his wife and children by getting his
life insured. Individuals and families have probably been oftener
saved from worldly ruin by insurance companies than by secret
societies. The association of A, B, and C may do some good. They have
a right to agree to aid one another. They may, perhaps, have a right
to say that D, E, and F, who are very poor, or are enfeebled by
disease, shall not join them, and shall not be aided by them; but they
have no right to represent their exclusive, selfish association as a
charitable one. Such a representation would be false, and the
wickedness of making it wholly inexcusable. We do not blame
Odd-fellows, Good-fellows, Druids, or any other association for acting
as mutual insurance companies. We do not blame them for agreeing that
they will take care of each other or of each other's families. We are
not now blaming them for excluding from their associations and from
"the benefits" disbursed by them, the blind, the lame, the diseased,
and the very poor who have no means of support, though this feature of
such associations does seem very repulsive. We are not now condemning
them for casting off all those who do not pay their "dues," those who
become very poor and can not as well as the rich who will not, and for
cutting off all such persons from all "benefits of whatsoever kind,"
though such treatment does seem to us selfish, cruel, and mean; we do
not now arraign them for any of these things, however ungenerous,
exclusive, and selfish they appear to us, but we do say that any
association which thus practices, and professes, and calls itself a
charitable one is a cheat and a sham. Those secret societies which
glorify themselves on account of their charities and universal
brotherhood and benevolence, can be acquitted of willful deceit and
falsehood only on the ground that they are blinded by prejudice or
ignorance, or both.

The pretentious character of secret associations appears, also, in
their claims to be the possessors and disseminators of knowledge and
morality. Their members seem to think a man can scarcely be good and
intelligent without being "initiated." Webb delares [sic] "Masonry is
a progressive science. * * Masonry includes within its circle almost
every branch of polite learning." (Monitor, p. 53.) "Masonry is not
only the most ancient, but the most moral institution that ever
subsisted." (Monitor, p. 39.) Grosch, in his Manual, speaking of the
shining sun as an emblem, says: "So Odd-fellowship is dispersing the
mists from the advancing member's mind, and revealing things as they
are; so, also, it is enlightening the world," etc. (Manual, p. 120.)
The extravagance find absurdity of these claims must be evident to
every prejudicial mind. It may be said, indeed, the above declarations
express the opinions only of individuals, and that associations can
not justly be charged with the errors of their members. We maintain,
however, that secret societies are responsible for the vain boasting
of their members. They claim that their members are a chosen board, a
select few, who, by virtue of their association, are superior to the
rest of mankind. Their processions and parades, their regalia and
emblems, and their high-sounding titles are evidently designed to
impress the minds of their own members and of outsiders with ideas of
their excellence and grandeur. Their high-sounding titles have already
been adverted to as involving the sin of profaneness; but they serve
equally well to illustrate the pretentious character of the
associations which employ them. Almost every officer among the Masons
has some great title. There is the Grand Tyler, Grand Steward, Grand
Treasurer, Grand Secretary, Grand Chaplain, and Grand Master. The
Lodge itself is _grand_, and, of course, every thing and every body
connected with it are _grand_. The treasurer, though his duty be
merely to count and hold a little vile trash called money, is grand;
almost every officer is a grand man.

These titles, however, do not give an adequate idea of the _grandeur_
to which "sublime" Masonry ascends. They have their Right Worshipful
Deputy Grand Master, their Right Worshipful Grand Treasurer [sic], Most
Worshipful Grand Master, Most Eminent Grand Commander, Thrice
Illustrious Grand Puissant, Most Excellent Grand High Priest, etc.
(Constitution [sic] of Grand Lodge of Ohio, Art. 5., Webb's Monitor,
pp. 187, 219, 284.) Other associations employ similar titles; indeed,
Masonry, as the oldest association, seems to have been copied after by
the rest. The Odd-fellows have almost the same parades, shows, and
titles as the Masons. They have their aprons, ribbons, rosettes, and
drawn swords; and they endeavor, by these and other clap-trap means,
to recommend their association as a grand affair. They, too, have
their Right Worthy Grand Lodge, Most Worthy Grand Master, Right Worthy
Grand Secretary, Right Worthy Grand Treasurer, Right Worthy Grand
Chaplain, etc.

We think it strange that men of sense should employ such titles. They
would be ridiculous even applied to the greatest and best man that
ever lived. They are more ridiculous than the bombastic titles given
to civil officers in barbarous countries. The Sublime Porte of Turkey
is outdone in this respect by secret associations in the United

6. The absurdity of these high-sounding titles and other puerilities
is further seen from the character of those who compose the
associations which employ them. They boast that they receive as
members almost all sorts of men except atheists; that men of every
religious sect and every nation meet in their lodges as loving
brethren, and on a perfect equality; that they welcome the Jew, the
Arab, the Chinaman, the American savage, the infidel, and the
Christian, provided they be sound in body and be able to support
themselves; yet the officers elected by the lodges or squads of such
persons, Jews, Arabs, Chinamen, savages, infidels and Christians,
become Most Eminent Grand Commanders, Thrice Illustrious Puissants,
etc. Yea, since brotherhood and _equality_ characterize these
associations, the Jew, the Arab, the Chinaman, and the infidel are
eligible to any office, and may become Most Worshipful Grand
Commanders and Most Excellent Grand High Priests.

All this is calculated to produce laughter and contempt; but such is
not the design. The design of those who make use of these grand titles
and other clap-trap things is to recommend their associations as an
excellent and grand affair. The design itself, and the means employed
for its accomplishment, must, certainly, be condemned by every
unprejudiced Christian [sic] mind.


We have thus briefly stated the objectionable features of what are
generally called secret societies. It is mainly to their secrecy,
oaths, and promises, their profanation of holy things, their
exclusiveness and their setting up of false claims, to which we
object. These are the things objected to in the foregoing treatise. We
have written without any feeling of unkindness, and we trust, also,
without prejudice. We had intended to urge additional considerations
to show the evil nature and tendency of secret societies; but we have
been restrained by the fear of swelling our treatise beyond a proper

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *


"With charity for all and with malice toward none," we bring this
question to all those who would serve Christ. We mean by "secret
societies" not literary, scientific, or college associations, which
merely use privacy as a screen against intrusion, but those affiliated
and centralized "orders" spreading over the land, professing
mysteries, practicing secret rites, binding by oaths, admitting by
signs and pass-words, solemnly pledging their members to mutual
protection, and commonly constructed in "degrees," each higher one
imposing fresh fees, oaths, and obligations, and swearing the
initiated to secrecy even from lower "degrees" in the same Order.

Shall Christians join societies of this kind?


_First_. They consume time and money. Have you considered how much?
How many evenings, and whole nights, and parts of days? How many
dollars in fees, dues, fines, expenses, and diminished proceeds from
broken days? Will it pay? Can you not lay out this amount of time and
money more profitably?--a plain man's question. They propose helping
you to "friends," "business," in "moral reform," in "sickness, death,
and bereavement;" but can you not get as much of such good in ways
pointed out to you by Christ, your best and wisest friend?--ways which
will yield you more of personal cultivation, spiritual good, earthly
profit, social and domestic happiness, and openings for usefulness. If
so, these orders are unprofitable, and _will not pay_.

_Secondly_. They furnish inferior security for investments. As _mutual
insurance societies_, they are irresponsible, and more liable to
corruption, _just because they are secret_. Do they make "reports" to
the public or the Legislature? Do they make any adequate "report" to
the mass even of their own members? Millions and millions are known to
have gone into the treasury of a single one of these organizations. No
dividends are declared, no expenditures published. _Where_ is the
money? Were it not safer to invest the same amount in companies where
every proceeding is open to public eye and public judgment? Would you
not, then, be safer? If so, _it will not pay_ to join these orders.


_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.

We come now to this: Neither charity, morality, patriotism, nor
religion imposes obligations on us to join them. _It will not pay_ was
our first fact. We have now reached this other, that _no consideration
of duty_ requires it. But,


_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

_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.

Shall Christians join secret societies?

Will it pay? Are they under obligation to do so? Fellow-disciple,
brother man, have you doubt on these questions? If it will not pay; if
you are under no obligation to do it; if you have any doubt of its
rightfulness, it is most assuredly your duty to refuse any connection
with them.

We have no wish to press our reasoning beyond just limits. We have
sought to avoid extreme statements. We now ask you whether, in the
light of what has been brought to view, the weight of argument is not
against your joining these orders and lending them aid? Even should
you be able to stand up against their tendency to lower your personal
piety and injure your Christian character, have we not here one of
those cases where many brothers are offended or made weak? The Lord
Jesus has said, "Whoso offends one of these little [or weak] ones, it
were better for him that a mill-stone were hanged about his neck and
he were drowned in the depths of the sea." Will you, then, however
safe yourself, be the means, by your example, of bringing weaker
brethren into such dangers? "We, then, that are strong ought to bear
the burdens of the weak, and not please ourselves." "It is good
neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor to do any thing whereby
thy brother stumbleth or is offended [caused to sin] or is made weak."
These words are not ours; they are God's.

Christian disciple, decide this question of secret societies with
candor, with solemn prayer, and with a purpose to please God.

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *

The topics committed to us involve the following points:

  1. The moral character of secrecy. Is it an element of an invariable
  moral character? and, if so, what? and, if not, what are the
  decisive criteria of its character?

  2. Associations or combinations involving secrecy. Are they of
  necessity right or wrong? If not, what are the decisive criteria?

  3. Religious rites and worship in societies or organizations, open
  or secret. Are any kind allowable? and, if so, what?

I. 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.

II. Secret societies.

Of these there may be two degrees.

1. Where not only the proceedings of the society are secret, but even
the existence of such a society is concealed.

2. Where the existence is avowed, and the signs and proceedings only
are secret.

In associations, secrecy may be resorted to in both these ways for
evil ends. Men may combine in associated societies to prey on the
community, and the existence of such societies be hidden.
Counterfeiters, horse-thieves, burglars, may thus associate for wrong,
in the deepest secrecy.

So, too, secret associations whose existence is avowed may combine for
selfish ends, and in derogation of the common rights of the social
system. They may defend their members, to the injury of justice, in
our courts. They may interfere with the management of churches and
societies. They may bring an influence of intimidation to bear on
public men. They may disseminate false principles of religion and
morals. They may co-operate for political ends, and to effect

And yet it is no less true that, in certain circumstances, secret
societies of both kinds may be resorted to for good ends.

Secret societies may be rightfully resorted to for common council and
united action, in the fear of God and with prayer, in a very dangerous
state of the body politic, to resist incumbent evils, and the
existence of such societies not be disclosed, if the state of the case
would thus give them greater power for good. So, as a defense against
known disloyal secret organizations, secret loyal leagues were
rightfully resorted to as a means of united and concentrated action
against organized disloyalty. And if, in resisting moral evils,
secrecy gives power and advantage in devising measures to resist vice
and crime, it is not sinful to resort to it.

All boards of trust generally have secret sessions, and legislative
bodies resort to secret sessions rightfully, if the state of affairs
demands it. It will be seen that secrecy is justified and demanded by
peculiar circumstances or obvious ends to be gained. The reason of the
case, therefore, is against secrecy, and in favor of open action,
where no such justification can be made out. It is the nature of truth
and right to be open. All things tend to it. There is nothing covered
or concealed that shall not finally be proclaimed.

On the other hand, if secrecy is resorted to without reason; if it is
made the basis of false pretences; if it assumes the existence of
something that is not, then it is not defensible. If it involves a
profession of information to be communicated, and influences for good
to be exerted, that do not exist, then it is a species of intellectual
swindling which admits of no defense. The sciences and arts, the Bible
and nature, are open to all. So is the book of history. What new
science, or art, or history, or religion is there for secret societies
to disclose?

III. Religious rites or worship in societies, open or secret--are any
allowable? and, if so, what?

In order to answer this question, we need to consider certain
fundamental and vital principles of Christianity.

  1. All men, as depraved and guilty, need regeneration and pardon
  through the intervention of Christ.

  2. There is access to the true God only through Christ: "I am the
  way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but
  through me."

  3. "Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father; but he
  that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also."

All Christian churches are based on these truths, and the center and
culmination of their worship is this recognition of Christ in the
Sacrament as the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world.
Christ, too, is the center of the worship of heaven.

Hence, if Christians associate with others in worship, it can rightly
be only on the ground that the worship centers in Christ, and
acknowledges him as Lord, to the glory of the Father.

Hence, if, for the sake of extending an organization, men are admitted
of all religions--Pagans, Mohammedans, Deists, Jews--and if, for the
sake of accommodating them with a common ground of union, Christ is
ignored, and the God of nature or of creation is professedly
worshiped, and morality inculcated solely on natural grounds, then
such worship is not accepted by the real God and Father of the
universe, for he looks on it as involving the rejection and dishonor,
nay, the renewed crucifixion of his Son. As to Christ, he tolerates no
neutrality. He who is not for him is against him. These principles do
not involve the question of secrecy. They hold true of all societies,
open or secret.

If, on such anti-Christian grounds, prayers are framed, rites
established, and chaplains appointed, ignoring Christ and his
intercession, God regards it as a mockery and an insult to himself and
his church. In it is revealed the hatred of Satan to Christ. By it
Christ is dethroned and Satan exalted.

These principles do not exclude worship and prayer from societies. In
any societies, true worship in the name of Christ will be accepted.

Let us now apply these principles to the societies of Free Masonry,
the modern mother of secret societies. Concerning these we hold it to
be plain:

That they have neither science nor art to impart as a reward of
membership. The time was when there was a society, or societies, of
working masons, coming down from the old Roman empire, and extending
through the middle ages. These were societies of great power, and
wrought great works. The cathedrals of the middle ages were each
erected by such a corporation, and attest their skill and energy.

But these corporations of working masons have passed away, and Masonry
is now, even in profession, only theoretical, and in fact, so far as
this art is concerned, is not even this. It does not teach the theory
of architecture. The transition took place in 1717, after a period of
decline in the lodges of working masons. All pretences to a history
back of this, or to any connection with Solomon or Hiram, are mere
false pretences and delusion for effect. No art is taught and no
science is communicated by the system.

Practical ends, then, alone remain; and, in fact, the founders of the
system avowed "brotherly love, relief, and truth" as these ends. The
cultivation of social intercourse is also avowed as an end by
defenders of the system. But such ends as these furnish no good
reasons for secrecy; nor is secrecy favorable to a wise and economical
use of the income of such bodies for purposes of benevolence. An open
and public acknowledgment of receipts and expenditures is needed as a
safeguard against a dishonest and wasteful expenditure of funds.

Nor is this all. The secrecy of the order, taken in connection with
the principle of hierarchal concentration, and with the administration
of extra-judicial oaths of obedience and secrecy, renders it, as a
system, liable to great abuses in the perversion of justice, in the
overriding of national law, and the claims of patriotism.

But the most serious view of the case lies in the fact that it
professes to rest on a religious basis, and to have religious temples,
yet is avowedly based on a platform that ignores Christ and
Christianity as supreme and essential to true allegiance to the real
God of the universe. Its worship, therefore, taken as a system, is in
rivalry to and in derogation of Christ and Christianity.

And, as a matter of fact, this and similar systems are by many
regarded as a substitute for the church, or as superior to it.
Moreover, devotion to them absorbs time and interest due to the
church, and paralyzes Christians by association with worldly men, and
by the malignant power of the spirit of the world.

This system, and those who imitate its hierarchal and centralizing
organization, also give power to those hierarchal principles and
systems against which Congregationalism has ever protested as
corrupting and enslaving the church.

The system also cultivates a love of swelling titles, and of gaudy
decorations and display in dress, that are hostile to the genius of
our Constitution, and to true republican and Christian dignity and

From this system other organizations have borrowed much, and some do
not essentially differ from it in practical working.

Other organizations, however, for the ends of temperance reform, have
adopted modes of organization, display in dress, and secret signs for
the purposes of recognition and defense. The ends and proceedings of
these temperance societies are so well known that it is often denied
that they are secret societies; yet they do, avowedly for purposes of
defense, resort to secrecy, and have imitated modes of dress and
organization found in Masonry. And members of Masonic lodges declare
that they involve, in fact, all the principles of Masonic
organizations, and rely on them ultimately leading to their own order.

While we recognize the true devotion of the members of these societies
to the cause of temperance, and acknowledge and commend their active
efforts to resist the progress of one of the greatest evils of the
age, we yet can not concede the wisdom or desirableness of a resort to
principles and modes of action which tend to create a current toward
other secret organizations not aiming at their ends, nor actuated by
their spirit of temperance reform.

In conclusion, we respectfully present the Association the following
principles foradoption [sic]:

  _Resolved_, 1. That in dealing with secret organizations, this
  Association recognizes the need of a careful statement of principles
  and a wise discrimination of things that differ.

  2. That there are some legitimate concealments of an organized
  character--such as the privacies of the family and business firms,
  the temporary concealment of public negotiations at critical stages,
  the occasional withdrawal of scandals which could only disturb and
  demoralize communities, and the secrecy of military combinations;
  nor are we prepared totally to condemn all private plans and
  arrangements between good and true citizens, in great emergencies,
  to resist the machinations of the wicked.

  3. That organizations whose whole object and general method are well
  understood, and are known to be laudable and moral--such as
  associations for purely literary or reformatory purposes--are not to
  be sweepingly condemned by reason of a thin veil of secrecy covering
  their precise methods of procedure; yet we deem that outer veil of
  secrecy to be unwise and undesirable, inasmuch as it holds out
  needless temptations to deeds of darkness, and gives unnecessary
  countenance to other and unlawful combinations; and, whenever the
  act of membership involves an _unconditional_ oath or promise of
  submission, adhesion, and concealment, under all circumstnces [sic],
  that compact is a grave moral wrong.

  4. That there are certain other wide-spread organizations--such as
  Freemasonry--which, we suppose, are in their nature hostile to good
  citizenship and true religion, because they exact initiatory oaths
  of blind compliance and concealment incompatible with the claims of
  equal justice toward man and a good conscience toward God; because
  they may easily, and sometimes have actually, become combinations
  against the due process of law and government; because, while
  claiming a religious character, they, in their rituals, deliberately
  withhold all recognition of Christ as their only Savior, and of
  Christianity as the only true religion; because, while they are, in
  fact, nothing but restricted partnerships or companies for mutual
  insurance and protection, they ostentatiously parade this
  characterless engagement as a substitute for brotherly love and true
  benevolence; because they bring good men in confidential relations
  to bad men; and because, while in theory, they supplant the church
  of Christ, they do also, in fact, largely tend to withdraw the
  sympathy and active zeal of professing Christians from their
  respective churches. Against all connections with such associations
  we earnestly advise the members of our churches, and exhort them,
  "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers."

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Secret Societies" ***

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