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in the midst of the most degrading mummery, calls upon a candidate, in a state of indecent nakedness, with a bandage round his eyes, in order that he may have no more of natural, than he has of moral light, solemnly and sincerely to promise and swear, as in the presence of Ilim, in whose sight the angels are chargeable with folly, to do
- he knows not what—under penalties the most revolting and inhuman. Is not such a scene calculated most injuriously to lessen the sanctity of all oaths ? Must not the frequent repetition of it, amazingly diminish the value of that solemn form of ascertaining truth, by our constituted authorities, in relation to all our dearest rights? Recollect there are near 100,000 Freemasons in the United States, of whom many have taken more than forty degrees, in each of which an oath has been administered. Did not the Father of his country allude to these proceedings of Freemasonry, in his farewell address, when he emphatically asked, "Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ?"
The performance of a promise to calumniate, to conceal a criminal action, or to assassinate, is always unlawful, and is therefore not binding; because the promiser in these cases, is always under a prior obligation to the contrary. From such prior obligation what shall discharge him?
His promise? His own act and deed? But an obligation from which a man can discharge himself, by his own act, is no obligation at all. The guilt of such promises lies in making them, not in breaking them. Whoever makes them is already bound to break them. The masonic oaths do not require all those unlawful acts, except upon certain conditions. Where the condition exists, there the oaths are imperative. But the acts are unlawful under all possible conditions, and therefore the oaths are not obligatory.
Besides, the penalty of every masonic oath, is the forfeiture of life, to be taken in the most impious and bloody
No man has a right to subject himself to such a penalty. His prior obligations to God and his country forbid it. The penalty is unlawful, and therefore the oath not obligatory.
Herod's promissory oath to his daughter in-law, " that he would give her whatsoever she asked, even to the half of his kingdom,” when she asked the head of John the Baptist, imposed no obligation upon Herod to give it, because it was unlawful.
Christianity interposes other objections to the lawfulness of masonic oaths. “ Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” " I say unto you, swear not at all.” On these authorities many Christians wholly refuse to take judicial oaths. They have universally, and always, condemned all others. Whatever is against the command of Christ is sinful. All sins must be renounced even the most favorite.
An oath can never bind a man to do what is morally wrong. If it is a bond of duty, let us consider what is the authority of duty. It is the command of God or general utility; opposition to which, is the very definition of wrong. It would be both preposterous and impious, deliberately to call upon God to take notice of what was in opposition to his command. In such case, to take an oath, would actually involve the guilt of perjury.
A good man always acts under a conviction of the presence of God, and in the fullest expectation of his righteous retributions; that is, under all the sanctions of an oath. — And there could be no stronger attestation to the excellence of Doctor Johnson's moral character than that, which is involved in the declaration of one of his associates, that in common conver
versation, he always talked like a man under oath. What would such a man do, supposing he had taken the oaths of Freemasonry ! Could he conceal what he knew to be criminal ? Could he derange the business, oppose the interests, or traduce the character of a brother for any cause? He plainly could not; because, he would be under all the obligations imposed by an oath, not to do so, prior to his taking the masonic oaths; that is, all the obligations arising from the command of God, or general utility.
In reality, the use of an oath is, to bring freshly to the mind of him, who takes it, the obligations of duty, which actually would rest upon him, without it. It does not increase those obligations in the least degree. Do not the obligations of duty, then, as with the force of an oath, require all good men to renounce Freemasonry? If, in
the honest convictions of their minds, Freemasonry is wrong, in its secrecy, in its oaths, in its injunctions, or in its effects and consequences, they assuredly do.
VINDICATION OF FREEDOM FROM MASONIC OATHS.
Extract from the Anti-Masonic Review.
myse teries of ancient Freemasonry, contrary to your solemn oath? A fearful question, to which we solemnly reply.
We justify ourselves in three several positions, either of them sufficient alone for our defence; and altogether rendering our defence impregnable.
In the first position, we say, that ancient Freemasonry, to which we have sworn fearful secresy, had never an existence. The word Freemasonry, and the thing signified by that word, is not ancient, but modern; is not three thousand years old, nor three hundred, nor the half of three hundred. We took the oath with assurances, and with the belief, too, that ancient Freemasonry meant an institution organized by Zerubbabel, and patronized by St. John, and by the apostles of our Lord. As such we have sworn to it allegiance; and if ever we meet with such an insitution, or any fraction of it, whether on the plains of the Scioto, or of the Genesee, whether on the Green, or the Alleghany mountains, we will hail its signs, and conceal its mysteries, so far as they may be intrusted to us, with the most praiseworthy fidelity.
But a certain institution pretending to come from under the hand of Solomon in the land of Judea, we now know to have come from worthless names in the island of Great Britain; not three thousand years ago, but in the last century. Its secrets and signs we do not feel bound to hail, even in a lodge room. And the oath which we honestly took in favor of king Solomon's institution, shall not, with our consent, be converted into an obligation of fidelity to any lie.
Is it not provoking beyond sufferance, that we should be ensnared in early life, to take a secret oath of fidelity
to an institution patronized by the holy St. John, which proves to be not one hundred and fifty years old ? And, when we would open our lips to expose the imposture, that we should be checked with the remembrance of our oath? As if, when deceived to swear fidelity to an impostor, we were bound for our oath's sake forever to maintain that impostor, or at least, to take no important step to exhibit his true character to the public.
Freemasonry comes to us sustained by the best names of the age, and setting forth with great authority, that it was the chosen friend of Enoch, and Noah, and Moses; that it received an improved form from the hands of the wisest man, and additional glory from Joshua, Zerubbabel, and Haggai. It offers to those who will pay it fealty, a rare and rich reward. In the simplicity of youth, we have yielded our necks to its yoke, and sworn to it allegiance; but, in riper years, we find these chains to be barefaced falsehood.
Now, shall the institution, which has thus insulted us with falsehood, still hold us to our solemn obligation to keep it a secret ? Shall it impose on us most egregiously, and, when we would expose the imposition, thunder in our ears; “You have sworn to keep all my mysteries an entire secret!" and, thus, compel us to give the countenance of our name, and the influence of our example and character, to sustain the deceiver, and to perpetuate the falsehood ? No; Freemasonry shall not hold our name, by any obligation, responsible for its contempt of truth.
Indeed, Freemasonry, a fire is kindled in the walls of Dumascus that will consume the palaces of Benhadad.
What are the walls of Freemasonry but her oaths ? And these are like an oath of a faithful subject to one whom he had reason to suppose, and did suppose, was his rightful sovereign ; but who, in the event, proved to be a barefaced impostor ; which oath is not binding at all. And should such an impostor use Freemasonry's argument,
your oath was to me; you took it voluntarily, and you are bound forever to be faithful to my interests and commands." What think you his sworn subjects would reply? They would hang him between heaven and earth, as unworthy of either.
This, then, is our first position : that an oath to be
faithful to ancient Freemasonry is precisely like the oath of a subject to an impostor prince, and is binding neither in the sight of God nor man.
“ Whose tongue soe’er speaks false,
Not truly speaks; who speaks not truly, lies.” Persuaded by the great names of the good men belonging to the institution, that Freemasonry was the truth and no lie; that it had a rightful claim to our attention as the handy work of the wise Solomon ; that it deserved our reverence, as the glory of the first temple, and the joy of Christian martyrs, and saints; we swore allegiance to it, as to a rightful sovereign ; we submitted to its teachings, as to the teachings of men who had been employed by divine inspiration in penning the holy oracles of truth. But now assured that a more gross imposition was never practised on a Christian people, we scorn Freemasonry and its oaths; and, in the name of the just One, we burst them asunder, as Samson burst the green withs and hempen cords of the treacherous Delilah.
Our second position is like the first, viz. that an oath like a promise, obtained by false pretences, is void from the beginning. Freemasonry pretends to the sanctity of the patriarchs and prophets and apostles ; it pretends to confer a most illustrious and important secret, able to make wise ; it pretends to be founded on divine revelation, and to ennoble its faithful adepts with titles of Sir Knight, Thrice Ilustrious, and Mosi Worshipful; and to decorate its followers with trappings, like a steed accoutred for a military review. It pretends to much more, and in return for its honors, and its benefits, Freemasonry asks twenty dollars, and some oaths.
The money is irrecoverable, and may well enough be the forfeit of our folly. But oaths obtained on pretences entirely false, which oaths serve only to enable the impostor to practise his frauds upon other men, and other generations, are not registered in Heaven's high chancery, are not obligatory upon the servant of the Most High.
It has been a question with moralists, whether oaths, or promises, extorted by violence, or fear, are binding ; but we are not aware, that any writer has maintained, that men are morally obliged to perform an oath, or a