Christ and masons
Secret Societies, by David MacDill, Jonathan Blanchard, and Edward Beecher. Cincinnati, Western Tract and Book Society, 1867
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 result.
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.