Articles in THE INDEPENDENT of NEW YORK
The GOSPEL TRUTH
BY REV. CHARLES G. FINNEY
NEW YORK, THURSDAY, JUNE 4, 1868
FREEMASONRY A FATAL DELUSION
The third question proposed for discussion in my last number is: Are the claims of Masonry to be a true and saving institution valid? To this I answer, No. This will appear if we consider, first, that the morality which it inculcates is not the morality of the law and Gospel of God. The law and the Gospel, as I have shown in a former number, lay down the same rule of life. And Christ, in commenting upon the true meaning and spirit of the law, says: "If ye love them that love you, what thank have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?" He requires us to love our enemies, and to pray for them, as truly as for our friends. In short, he requires universal benevolence; whereas Freemasonry requires no such thing. Its oaths, which are its law, simply require its members to be just to each other. I say just, for their boasted benevolence is simply the payment of a debt.
They do, indeed, promise to assist each other in distress, and to help each other's families, provided they fall into poverty. But on what condition do they promise this? Why, that a certain amount is to be paid into their treasury as a fund for this purpose. But this, surely, is not benevolence, but the simple payment of a debt, on the principle of mutual insurance.
This I have abundantly shown in a former number. Again, the motives presented in Freemasonry to secure the course of action to which they are pledged are by no means consistent with the law or the Gospel of God. In religion, and in true morality, everything depends on the motive or reason for the performance of an action. God accepts nothing that does not proceed from supreme love to Him and equal love to our fellow-men. Not merely to our brother Masons; but to our neighbor--that is, to all mankind. Whatever does not proceed from love and faith is sin, according to the teachings of the Bible. And by love, I say again, is meant the supreme love of God and the equal love of our neighbor.
But Masonry teaches no such morality as this. The motive urged by Masons is, to honor Masonry, to honor the institution, to honor each other. While they are pledged to assist each other in distress; to keep each other's secrets, even if they be crimes; and to aid each other, whether right or wrong, so far as to extricate them from any difficulty in which they are involved; yet they never present the pure motives of the Gospel. They are pledged not to violate the chastity of a brother Mason's wife, sister, daughter, or mother; but they are not pledged by Masonry, as the law and Gospel of God require, to abstain from such conduct with any female whatever. But nothing short of universal benevolence, and universal morality, is acceptable to God.
But again: It has been shown in a former number that Masonry claims to be a saving institution; that this is claimed for it by the highest Masonic authorities; and that this claim is one set up by itself as well. But an examination of Freemasonry shows that it promises salvation upon entirely other conditions than those revealed in the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel nowhere inculcates the idea that any one can be saved by obedience to the law of God. "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified" is the uniform teaching of the Bible. Much less can any one be saved by conformity to Masonic law, which requires only a partial, and therefore a spurious, morality. The Bible teaches that all unconverted persons are in a state of sin, of total moral depravity, and consequent condemnation by the law of God; and that the conditions of salvation are repentance and a total renunciation of all sin, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and sanctification by the Holy Spirit. Now these are by no means the conditions upon which Freemasonry proposes to save its members. The teachings of Freemasonry upon this subject are summarily this: Obey Masonic law, and live; disobey Masonic Law, and die.
Now, surely, whatever promises heaven to men upon other conditions than those proposed in the Gospel of Christ is a fatal delusion. And this Freemasons can not deny, for they profess to accept the Bible as true. Freemasonry lays no stress at all upon conversion to Christ by the Holy Spirit. It presents no means or motives to secure that result. The idea of being turned from sin to holiness, from a self-pleasing spirit to a supreme love of God, by the preaching of the Gospel, accompanied by the Holy Spirit, is not taught in Freemasonry.
It nowhere recognizes men as being justified by faith in Christ, as being sanctified by faith in Christ, and as being saved as the Gospel recognizes men as being saved.
Indeed, it is salvation by Masonry, and not salvation by the Gospel, that Masonry insists upon. It is another gospel, or presents entirely another method of salvation than that presented in the Gospel. How can it be pretended by those who admit that the Gospel is true that men can be saved by Freemasonry at all? If Freemasons are good men, it is not Freemasonry that has made them so; but the Gospel has made them so, in spite of Freemasonry. If they are anything more than self-righteous, it is because of the teachings of the Gospel; for certainly Freemasonry teaches a very different way of salvation from that which the Gospel reveals. But, again, the prayers recorded in Freemasonry, and used by them in their lodges, are not Christian prayers; that is, they are not prayers offered in the name of Christ.
But the Gospel teaches us that it is fundamental to acceptable prayer that it be offered in the name of Christ. Again, as we have seen in another number, the teachings of Freemasonry are scandalously false; and their ceremonies are a mockery, and truly shocking to Christian feelings.
Again, Freemasonry is a system of gross hypocrisy. It professes to be a saving institution, and promises salvation to those who keep its oaths and conform to its ancient usages. It also professes to be entirely consistent with the Christian religion. And this it does while it embraces as good and acceptable Masons hundreds of thousands who abhor Christianity, and scoff at the Bible and everything that the Bible regards as sacred. In a Christian nation it professes to receive Christianity as a true religion; in Mohammedan countries it receives the Koran as teaching true religion; in heathen countries it receives their sacred books as of as much authority as that which is claimed in Christian countries for the Bible. In short, Freemasonry in a pagan country is pagan, in a Mohammedan country it is Mohammedan, and in a Christian country it professes to be Christian; but in this profession it is not only grossly inconsistent, but intensely hypocritical.
Notwithstanding all the boasts that are made in its lower degrees of its being a true religion, if you will examine the matter through to the end, you will find that, as you ascend in the scale of degrees, the mask is gradually thrown off, until we come to the "Philosophical Lodge," in the degree of the "Knights Adepts of the Eagle or Sun"; in which, as will be seen, no concealment is longer attempted. I will make a short quotation from this degree, as any one may find it in "Light on Masonry."
"Requisitions to make a good Mason.--If you ask me what are the requisite qualities that a Mason must be possessed of to come to the center of truth, I answer you that you must crush the head of the serpent ignorance. You must shake off the yoke of infant prejudice, concerning the mysteries of the reigning religion, which worship has been imaginary and only founded on the spirit of pride, which envies to command and be distinguished, and to be at the head of the vulgar in affecting an exterior purity; which characterizes a false piety joined to a desire of acquiring that which is not its own, and is always the subject of this exterior pride and unalterable source of many disorders; which, being joined to gluttonness, is the daughter of hypocrisy, and employs every matter to satisfy carnal desires, and raises to these predominant passions altars upon which she maintains without ceasing the light of iniquity, and sacrifices continually offerings to luxury, voluptuousness, hatred, envy, and perjury.
"Behold, my dear brother, what you must fight against and destroy before you can come to the knowledge of the true good and sovereign happiness! Behold this monster which you must conquer--a serpent which we detest as an idol that is adored by the idiot and vulgar under the name of religion!"-- See "Light on Masonry," pp. 270, 271.
Here, then, Masonry stands revealed, after all its previous pretensions to being a true religion, as the unalterable opponent of the reigning or Christian religion. That it claims to be a religion is indisputable; but that it is not the Christian religion is equally evident. Nay, it finally comes out flat-footed, and represents the reigning or Christian religion as a serpent which Masons detest, as an idol which is adored by the idiot and vulgar under the name of religion.
Now let professed Christians who are Freemasons examine this for themselves. Do not turn away from examination of this subject.
And here, before I close this article, I beg to be understood that I have no quarrel with individual Masons. It is with the system that I have to deal. The great mass of the fraternity are utterly deceived, as I was myself. Very few, comparatively, of the fraternity are at all acquainted with what is really taught in the higher degrees as they ascend from one to the other. None of them know anything of these degrees any further than they have taken them, unless they have studied them in the books as they are revealed. I can not believe that Christian men will remain connected with this institution, if they will only examine it for themselves and look it through to the end. I know that young Masons, and those who have only taken the lower degrees, will be shocked at what I have just quoted from a higher degree. I was so myself when first I examined the higher degrees. But you will inquire how, and in what sense, are we who have only taken the lower degrees responsible for the oaths and teachings of the higher degrees, which we have not taken. In a future number I shall briefly answer this question. Most Freemasons, and many who have been masters of lodges of the lower degrees, are really so ignorant of what Masonry as a whole is that, when they are told the simple truth respecting it, they really believe that what you tell them is a lie. I am receiving letters from this class of Freemasons, accusing me of lying and misrepresentation, which accusations I charitably ascribe to ignorance. To such I say, Wait, gentlemen, until you are better informed upon the subject, and you will hold a different opinion.
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