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peated declaration, “Every true mason is a Christian ; and every Christian is a mason at heart.” They have heard it said, in substance, that religion is masonry, and that masonry is religion. They have seen, in Charts and Monitors, prayers and other forms of religious service, in which neither the name, nor the atonement of Christ, is recognized. They have heard the burial service, as now used, which virtually pronounces the deceased in heaven, let his moral character have been what it might. They have seen the sprig of evergreen,” an emblem of the immortality of the soul, cast into the grave by the professed Deist, and even by those who profess to believe that man dies like the beast. They have seen the Bible carried in solemn procession, by the same persons; and, considering their avowed principles and general conduct, have drawn the very natural inference, is solemn mockery.” Now it must be admitted, that, when serious and thinking men judge of masonry by what they see in these authorized and sanctioned publications, and by the conduct of many masons, who are known to be hostile to the religion of Christ and his apostles, it is not strange that they should fear a general combination to mould the masonic institution into a religious system, opposed to the first principles of the oracles of God. That this has been the design of some leading masons, who have stood high as members of the fraternity, I have not the least reason to doubt. It may be presumed, however, that this is not the design of the majority of the
craft," and that they have received the forms, to which I have alluded, without due consideration. But, so far as any have intended, that masonry shall answer as a substitute for religion, it ought to be considered as the grossest abuse and perversion of its original design ; and should, in every laudable way, be reprobated by those who have pledged themselves to preserve " the ancient land-marks of the order."
CIVIL, SOCIAL, AND POLITICAL INFLUENCE OF MA
Extract from Charles P. Sumner's Letter to the Suffolk Committee. Masonic engagements, whether they are called oaths, obligations or promises, ought never to be made. They are not sanctioned by law, and are not obligatory. They make it a masonic crime to divulge that which the good of the community requires should not be concealed. The manner in which they are administered, and the matter of them, can hardly fail to excite disrespect for the institution, in the mind of the person initiated; but their effect is neutralized by some charge, or address, which is immediately made by the master, inculcating charity, benevolence and candor towards the whole family of mankind, and a cheerful obedience to the laws and magistrates of the country in which we live. Masonic obligations have no dignity when compared with precepts like these.
It has been said that Washington in his early life was a mason; but he never went further than the third degree : I believe that in his time, higher degrees were not conferred. It is not possible, by reading any book, to know what were the precise terms of Washington's masonic obligations : but any body may know that he never agreed to kill or be killed for all the masonry in the world. It is easy to divine the motives which probably induced him to become a mason. The Old Charge used in his day, when speaking of Civil Magistracy says, "a mason is a peaceable subject to the civil rulers, wherever he resides or works; and is never to be concerned in plots, and conspiracies against the peace and welfare of the nation ; nor behave himself undutifully to inferior magistrates."***" If a brother should be a rebel against the States, he is not to be countenanced in his rebellion, however he may be pitied as an unhappy man. The books abound with precepts of loyalty and benevolence. It was sentiments like these which induced Washington to become a mason; and a respect for these sentiments would have induced him to withdraw his esteem for the association, had he lived until the autumn of 1826, and
heard of that outrage which evinces that masonry, probably in some of its high and recently invented degrees, can inspire some of its votaries with the grossest misconception of their duty to the magistracy and laws of their country :- I say in some of its high degrees, for I am convinced that neither of the three lower degrees irresistibly require that the receiver of them should become the perpetrator of a crime upon himself or upon any one else. I say this from impressions received between twenty and thirty years ago
It is probable that Morgan has been murdered. If there is any thing in masonic ties that could have induced masons to do this, they ought to disregard such ties as a lion would disregard a net of cobweb. It will be disgraceful to the institution, if its members do not all do their utmost to bring all the abductors of Morgan to legal light and legal punishment. In no better method can they manifest the loyalty and benevolence which they yet continue to declare to be their characteristics.
In our government “the whole people covenants with each citizen and each citizen with the whole people that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good.” Whoever violates those laws cannot be a good citizen-and can he be a good mason ?
A masonic obligation, if it requires any breach of the law, is what no man has right to impose, even on a willing receiver. It is not binding on any one who may be so indiscreet as to take it. It cannot come to good. As it is imposed in some lodges it is illegal and wicked ; and in lodges, where it is the least reprehensible, it goes to swell the amount of those idle words which we must one day regret.
The influence of masonry is not favorable to domestic happiness. It impairs a man's fondness for the pleasures, which, if he does his duty, he may justly expect to find at home. I once had occasion to see a man after ten o'clock in the evening. I called at his house ; upon knocking at the door, I heard the words-walk in, uttered by a faint voice. I entered the room which served its tenants for a parlor and a kitchen. It was enlightened by a glimmering lamp. His wife was sitting in a rocking chair drawn to the hearth, on which was a small fire
scarcely visible. One child was in her arms, and another in a cradle, within her reach, which she occasionally rocked. I asked her if I might at that late hour be permitted to see her husband. She replied, with a pale and melancholy look, “Sir, my husband has yet not returned from the Lodge." She then in a sitting posture, bent forward over her child, and with a shawl that hung loosely over her shoulders she absorbed a starting tear. At that very moment her husband was probably in the Lodge joining his voice in the words of a favorite masonic song
“ We are true and sincere
“ And just to the fair." I withdrew from this mason's house with pity for his young wife and infant children, and with lessened respect for an institution which could thus withhold a husband and a father from the first of social duties.
Masonry alienates the ininds of some men from the common pursuits of life, and inclines its votaries to things, immoderate, incredible, and out of their reach. It styles itself but another name for Charity, but it is not modest like Charity ; it vaunteth itself and is puffed up. In the subordinate lodges it delights itself in those songs which are denominated masonic, the burden of which is, that masons are the greatest and the best of men, companions of princes wherever they go; that they built all the superb temples and palaces in the world ; that they are eminently benevolent, and the special favorites of the fair. It flaunts in the robes and titles that might become the high stations of piety or power in the Court of an eastern prince.
In a country, like ours, where all men stand upon a level, and where the fields of usefulness and honor are open to all, it cannot be consistent with the wisdom of well regulated mind to cultivate those flowers that yield no fruit; or to decorate one's self with the ornaments that serve to make the wearer of them no more respectable than he would be in the plain garments suited to his daily calling.
If a mason would qualify himself to become a master of a lodge, he must load his memory with a mass of matter for which the understanding has but small affinity.
If young men would quit those scenes of almost profitless amuseinent and attend with equal assiduity the lectures on operative masonry and architecture; on chemistry, astronomy, botany, anatomy, mineralogy, agriculture or mechanics, which might at a small expense be heard in every city, and in some villages; they would find more satisfaction to their own inquisitive minds and lose none of that respectable standing in the community which they now enjoy. If some young lawyers would give that portion of their time to legal and historical studies, which some few of them throw away in investigating the selfasserted antiquity and universality of Freemasonry, they would find themselves in higher request in their profession, masters of the Civil Law, the Admiralty Law, and Law of Nations; and possibly their chance would be fair as diplomatists, to represent their country in the presence of Kings.
Masonry is said to be a sort of accomplishment suitable for a traveller ; but a knowledge of the language of the country he visits, and of the business he goes to transact, will set him above the necessity of any aid or pleasure to be derived from masonic knowledge or masonic acquaintances; and as to those who are content to remain in their own country, if a man will mind his own affairs, and abstain from those habits of moderate drinking, at which the genius of masonry takes no offence, he will seldom need any of the pecuniary aid that the funds of masonry can bestow.
I have never considered masonry as having any distinct political influence in this Commonwealth. There are some who seem to think differently; and it is with grief that I have seen in print any insinuation that the administration of justice is under masonic influence. I am convinced that this is unmerited here. My observation does not permit me to believe that such influence has extended to any department of government. Let masonry be gently divested of its borrowed plumes, but not loaded with that which it does not deserve to bear.
Every man who is a mason will be frank enough to confess it, and until the question is proposed to himn it cannot be right that he should be charged with masonry by those who consider it a cause of reproach.