New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia
Name and definition
The compound term Freemason occurs first in 1375 — according to a recently found writing, even prior to 1155  — and, contrary to Gould  means primarily a mason of superior skill, though later it also designated one who enjoyed the freedom, or the privilege, of a trade guild.  In the former sense it is commonly derived from freestone-mason, a mason hewing or building in free (ornamental) stone in opposition to a rough (stone) mason.  This derivation, though harmonizing with the meaning of the term, seemed unsatisfactory to some scholars. Hence Speth proposed to interpret the word freemasons as referring to those masons claiming exemption from the control of local guilds of the towns, where they temporarily settled.  In accordance with this suggestion the "New English Dictionary of the Philological Society" (Oxford, 1898) favours the interpretation of freemasons as skilled artisans, emancipated according to the medieval practice from the restrictions and control of local guilds in order that they might be able to travel and render services, wherever any great building (cathedral, etc.) was in process of construction. These freemasons formed a universal craft for themselves, with a system of secret signs and passwords by which a craftsman, who had been admitted on giving evidence of competent skill, could be recognized. On the decline of Gothic architecture this craft coalesced with the mason guilds. 
Quite recently W. Begemann  combats the opinion of Speth  as purely hypothetical, stating that the name freemason originally designated particularly skilled freestone-masons, needed at the time of the most magnificent evolution of Gothic architecture, and nothing else. In English law the word freemason is first mentioned in 1495, while frank-mason occurs already in an Act of 1444-1445.  Later, freemason and mason were used as convertible terms.
The modern signification of Freemasonry in which, since about 1750, the word has been universally and exclusively understood, dates only from the constitution of the Grand Lodge of England, 1717. In this acceptation Freemasonry, according to the official English, Scottish, American, etc., craft rituals, is most generally defined: "A peculiar [some say "particular" or "beautiful"] system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." Mackey  declares the best definition of Freemasonry to be: "A science which is engaged in the search after the divine truth." The German encyclopedia of Freemasonry, "Handbuch"  defines Freemasonry as "the activity of closely united men who, employing symbolical forms borrowed principally from the mason's trade and from architecture, work for the welfare of mankind, striving morally to ennoble themselves and others and thereby to bring about a universal league of mankind [Menschheitsbund], which they aspire to exhibit even now on a small scale". The three editions which this "Handbuch" (Universal Manual of Freemasonry) has had since 1822 are most valuable, the work having been declared by English-speaking Masonic critics by far the best Masonic Encyclopedia ever published. 
Origin and early history
that its history has never yet been written in a spirit of critical truth; that credulity . . . has been the foundation on which all masonic historical investigations have been built, . . . that the missing links of a chain of evidence have been frequently supplied by gratuitous invention and that statements of vast importance have been carelessly sustained by the testimony of documents whose authenticity has not been proved."The historical portion of old records", he adds 
as written by Anderson, Preston, Smith, Calcott and other writers of that generation, was little more than a collection of fables, so absurd as to excite the smile of every reader.The germs of nearly all these fantastic theories are contained in Anderson's "The Constitutions of Free Masons" (1723, 1738) which makes Freemasonry coextensive with geometry and the arts based on it; insinuates that God, the Great Architect, founded Freemasonry, and that it had for patrons, Adam, the Patriarchs, the kings and philosophers of old. Even Jesus Christ is included in the list as Grand Master of the Christian Church. Masonry is credited with the building of Noah's Ark, the Tower of Babel, the Pyramids, and Solomon's Temple. Subsequent authors find the origin of Masonry in the Egyptian, Dionysiac, Eleusinian, Mithraic, and Druidic mysteries; in sects and schools such as the Pythagoreans, Essenes, Culdees, Zoroastrians, and Gnostics; in the Evangelical societies that preceded the Reformation; in the orders of knighthood (Johannites, Templars); among the alchemists, Rosicrucians, and Cabbalists; in Chinese and Arabic secret societies. It is claimed also that Pythagoras founded the Druidic institution and hence that Masonry probably existed in England 500 years before the Christian Era. Some authors, considering geological finds as Masonic emblems, trace Masonry to the Miocene (?) Period  while others pretend that Masonic science "existed before the creation of this globe, diffused amidst the numerous systems with which the grand empyreum of universal space is furnished". 
It is not then difficult to understand that the attempt to prove the antiquity of Freemasonry with evidence supplied by such monuments of the past as the Pyramids and the Obelisk (removed to New York in 1879) should have resulted in an extensive literature concerning these objects.  Though many intelligent Masons regard these claims as baseless, the majority of the craft  still accept the statement contained in the "Charge" after initiation: "Ancient no doubt it is, having subsisted from time immemorial. In every age monarchs [American rituals: "the greatest and best men of all ages"] have been promoters of the art, have not thought it derogatory to their dignity to exchange the sceptre for the trowel, have participated in our mysteries and joined in our assemblies".  It is true that in earlier times gentlemen who were neither operative masons nor architects, the so-called geomatic Masons  joined with the operative, or dogmatic, Masons in their lodges, observed ceremonies of admission, and had their signs of recognition. But this Masonry is by no means the "speculative" Masonry of modern times, i.e., a systematic method of teaching morality by means of such principles of symbols according to the principles of modern Freemasonry after 1723.
As the best German authorities admit , speculative Masonry began with the foundation of the Grand Lodge of England, 24 June, 1717, and its essential organization was completed in 1722 by the adoption of the new "Book of Constitutions" and of the three degrees: apprentice, fellow, master. All the ablest and most conscientious investigations by competent Masonic historians show, that in 1717 the old lodges had almost ceased to exist. The new lodges began as convivial societies, and their characteristic Masonic spirit developed but slowly. This spirit, finally, as exhibited in the new constitutions was in contradiction to that which animated the earlier Masons. These facts prove that modern Masonry is not, as Gould  Hughan  and Mackey  contend, a revival of the older system, but rather that it is a new order of no greater antiquity than the first quarter of the eighteenth century.
Fundamental principles and spirit
•the method of recognition by secret signs, words, grips, steps, etc.;In truth there is no authority in Freemasonry to constitute such "unchangeable" landmarks or fundamental laws. Strictly judicially, even the "Old Charges", which, according to Anderson's "Constitutions", contain the unchangeable laws have a legal obligatory character only as far as they are inserted in the "Book of Constitution" of each Grand Lodge.  But practically there exist certain characteristics which are universally considered as essential. Such are the fundamental principles described in the first and sixth articles of the "Old Charges" concerning religion, in the texts of the first two English editions (1723 and 1738) of Anderson's "Constitutions". These texts, though differing slightly, are identical as to their essential tenor. That of 1723, as the original text, restored by the Grand Lodge of England in the editions of the "Constitutions", 1756-1813, and inserted later in the "Books of Constitutions" of nearly all the other Grand Lodges, is the most authoritative; but the text of 1738, which was adopted and used for a long time by many Grand Lodges, is also of great importance in itself and as a further illustration of the text of 1723.
In the latter, the first article of the "Old Charges" containing the fundamental law and the essence of modern Freemasonry runs (the text is given exactly as printed in the original, 1723):
I. Concerning God and Religion. A Mason is obliged by his Tenure, to obey the moral law: and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist [Gothic letters] nor an irreligious Libertine [Gothic letters]. But though in ancient times Masons were charged in every country to be of the religion of that country or nation, whatever it was, yet 'tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves: that is, to be good men and true or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguished; whereby Masonry becomes the Centre of Union and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remained at a perpetual Distance.Under Article VI, 2 (Masons' behaviour after the Lodge is closed and the Brethren not gone) is added:
In order to preserve peace and harmony no private piques or quarrels must be brought within the door of the Lodge, far less any quarrels about Religion or Nations or State Policy, we being only, as Masons, of the Catholick Religion, above mentioned, we are also of all Nations, Tongues, Kindreds and Languages and are resolved against all Politicks [printed in the original in Gothic letters] as what never yet conduced to the welfare of the Lodge nor ever will. This charge has been always strictly enjoin'd and observ'd; but especially ever since the Reformation in Britain or the dissent and secession of these Nations from the communion of Rome.In the text of 1738 the same articles run (variation from the edition of 1723 are given in italics):
I. Concerning God and Religion. A Mason is obliged by his Tenure to observe the moral law as true Noahida (sons of Noah, the first name of Freemasons) and if he rightly understands the craft, he will never be a stupid atheist or an irreligious libertine nor act against conscience. In ancient times the Christian masons were charged to comply with the Christian usages of each country where they travelled or worked; but Masonry being found in all nations, even of diverse religions, they are now generally charged to adhere to that religion, in which all men agree, (leaving each Brother his own particular opinion), that is, to be good men and true, men of honour and honesty, by whatever names, religions or persuasions they may be distinguished; for they all agree in the three great articles of Noah, enough to preserve the cement of the lodge. Thus Masonry is the centre of their union and the happy means of conciliating true friendship among persons who otherwise must have remained at a perpetual distance.In order to appreciate rightly these texts characterizing modern "speculative" Freemasonry it is necessary to compare them with the corresponding injunction of the "Gothic" (Christian) Constitutions regulating the old lodges of "operative" Masonry till and after 1747. These injunctions are uniformly summed up in the simple words: "The first charge is this that you be true to God and Holy Church and use no error or heresy".  The radical contrast between the two types is obvious. While a Mason according to the old Constitution was above all obliged to be true to God and Church, avoiding heresies, his "religious" duties, according to the new type, are essentially reduced to the observation of the "moral law" practically summed up in the rules of "honour and honesty" as to which "all men agree". This "universal religion of Humanity" which gradually removes the accidental divisions of mankind due to particular opinions "or religious", national, and social "prejudices", is to be the bond of union among men in the Masonic society, conceived as the model of human association in general.
"Humanity" is the term used to designate the essential principle of Masonry.  It occurs in a Masonic address of 1747.  Other watchwords are "tolerance", "unsectarian", "cosmopolitan". The Christian character of the society under the operative régime of former centuries, says Hughan  "was exchanged for the unsectarian regulations which were to include under its wing the votaries of all sects, without respect to their differences of colour or clime, provided the simple conditions were observed of morality, mature age and an approved ballot".  In Continental Masonry the same notions are expressed by the words "neutrality", "laïcité", "Confessionslosigkeit", etc. In the text of 1738 particular stress is laid on "freedom of conscience" and the universal, non-Christian character of Masonry is emphasized. The Mason is called a "true Noahida", i.e. an adherent of the pre-Christian and pre-Mosaic system of undivided mankind. The "3 articles of Noah" are most probably "the duties towards God, the neighbour and himself" inculcated from older times in the "Charge to a newly made Brother". They might also refer to "brotherly love, relief and truth", generally with "religion" styled the "great cement" of the fraternity and called by Mackey  "the motto of our order and the characteristic of our profession".
Of the ancient Masons, it is no longer said that they were obliged to "be of the religion" but only "to comply with the Christian usages of each Country". The designation of the said "unsectarian" religion as the "ancient catholick" betrays the attempt to oppose this religion of "Humanity" to the Roman Catholic as the only true, genuine, and originally Catholic. The unsectarian character of Masonry is also implied in the era chosen on the title page: "In the year of Masonry 5723" and in the "History". As to the "History" Anderson himself remarks in the preface (1738):
Only an expert Brother, by the true light, can readily find many useful hints in almost every page of this book which Cowans and others not initiated (also among Masons) cannot discern.Hence, concludes Krause , Anderson's "History" is allegorically written in "cipher language". Apart, then, from "mere childish allusions to the minor secrets", the general tendency of this "History" is to exhibit the "unsectarianism" of Masonry.
Two points deserve special mention: the utterances on the "Augustan" and the "Gothic" style of architecture and the identification of Masonry with geometry. The "Augustan" which is praised above all other styles alludes to "Humanism", while the "Gothic" which is charged with ignorance and narrow-mindedness, refers to Christian and particularly Roman Catholic orthodoxy. The identification of Masonry with geometry brings out the naturalistic character of the former. Like the Royal Society, of which a large and most influential proportion of the first Freemasons were members , Masonry professes the empiric or "positivist" geometrical method of reason and deduction in the investigation of truth.  In general it appears that the founders of Masonry intended to follow the same methods for their social purposes which were chosen by the Royal Society for its scientific researches.  "Geometry as a method is particularly recommended to the attention of Masons." "In this light, Geometry may very properly be considered as a natural logic; for as truth is ever consistent, invariable and uniform, all truths may be investigated in the same manner. Moral and religious definitions, axioms and propositions have as regular and certain dependence upon each other as any in physics or mathematics." "Let me recommend you to pursue such knowledge and cultivate such dispositions as will secure you the Brotherly respect of this society and the honour of your further advancement in it". 
It is merely through inconsistency that some Grand Lodges of North America insist on belief in the Divine inspiration of the Bible as a necessary qualification and that not a few Masons in America and Germany declare Masonry an essentially "Christian institution". According to the German Grand Lodges, Christ is only "the wise and virtuous pure man" par excellence, the principal model and teacher of "Humanity".  In the Swedish system, practised by the German Country Grand Lodge, Christ is said to have taught besides the exoteric Christian doctrine, destined for the people and the duller mass of his disciples, an esoteric doctrine for his chosen disciples, such as St. John, in which He denied that He was God.  Freemasonry, it is held, is the descendant of the Christian secret society, in which this esoteric doctrine was propagated.
It is evident, however, that even in this restricted sense of "unsectarian" Christianity, Freemasonry is not a Christian institution, as it acknowledges many pre-Christian models and teachers of "Humanity". All instructed Masons agree in the objective import of this Masonic principle of "Humanity", according to which belief in dogmas is a matter of secondary importance, or even prejudicial to the law of universal love and tolerance. Freemasonry, therefore, is opposed not only to Catholicism and Christianity, but also to the whole system of supernatural truth.
The only serious discrepancies among Masons regarding the interpretation of the texts of 1723 and 1738 refer to the words: "And if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist or an irreligious Libertine". The controversy as to the meaning of these words has been particularly sharp since 13 September, 1877, when the Grand Orient of France erased the paragraph, introduced in 1854 into its Constitutions, by which the existence of God and the immortality of soul were declared the basis of Freemasonry  and gave to the first article of its new Constitutions the following tenor: "Freemasonry, an essentially philanthropic, philosophic (naturalist, adogmatic) and progressive institution, has for its object the search after truth, the study of universal morality, of the sciences and arts and the practice of beneficence. It has for its principles absolute liberty of conscience and human solidarity. It excludes none on account of his belief. Its device is Liberty, Equality, Fraternity." On 10 September, 1878, the Grand Orient, moreover, decreed to expunge from the Rituals and the lodge proceedings all allusions to religious dogmas as the symbols of the Grand Architect, the Bible, etc. These measures called out solemn protests from nearly all the Anglo-American and German organs and led to a rupture between the Anglo-American Grand Lodges and the Grand Orient of France. As many freethinking Masons both in America and in Europe sympathize in this struggle with the French, a world-wide breach resulted. Quite recently many Grand Lodges of the United States refused to recognize the Grand Lodge of Switzerland as a regular body, for the reason that it entertains friendly relations with the atheistical Grand Orient of France.  This rupture might seem to show, that in the above paragraph of the "Old Charges" the belief in a personal God is declared the most essential prerequisite and duty of a Mason and that Anglo-American Masonry, at least, is an uncompromising champion of this belief against the impiety of Latin Masonry.
But in truth all Masonry is full of ambiguity. The texts of 1723 and 1738 of the fundamental law concerning Atheism are purposely ambiguous. Atheism is not positively condemned, but just sufficiently disavowed to meet the exigencies of the time, when an open admission of it would have been fatal to Masonry. It is not said that Atheists cannot be admitted, or that no Mason can be an Atheist, but merely that if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist, etc., i.e., he will not hold or profess Atheism in a stupid way, by statements, for instance that shock religious feeling and bring Masonry into bad repute. And even such a stupid Atheist incurs no stronger censure than the simple ascertaining of the fact that he does not rightly understand the art, a merely theoretical judgment without any practical sanction. Such a disavowal tends rather to encourage modern positivist or scientific Atheism.
Scarcely more serious is the rejection of Atheism by the British, American and some German Grand Lodges in their struggle with the Grand Orient of France. The English Grand Lodge, it is true, in its quarterly communication of 6 March, 1878  adopted four resolutions, in which belief in the Great Architect of the Universe is declared to be the most important ancient landmark of the order, and an explicit profession of that belief is required of visiting brethren belonging to the Grand Orient of France, as a condition for entrance into the English lodges. Similar measures were taken by the Irish, Scottish, and North American Grand Lodges. But this belief in a Great Architect is so vague and symbolical, that almost every kind of Atheism and even of "stupid" Atheism may be covered by it. Moreover, British and American Grand Lodges declare that they are fully satisfied with such a vague, in fact merely verbal declaration, without further inquiry into the nature of this belief, and that they do not dream of claiming for Freemasonry that it is a "church", a "council", a "synod". Consequently even those are acknowledged as Masons who with Spencer and other Naturalist philosophers of the age call God the hidden all-powerful principle working in nature, or, like the followers of "Handbuch"  maintain as the two pillars of religion "the sentiment of man's littleness in the immensity of space and time", and "the assurance that whatever is real has its origin from the good and whatever happens must be for the best".
An American Grand Orator Zabriskie (Arizona) on 13 November, 1889, proclaimed, that "individual members may believe in many gods, if their conscience and judgment so dictate".  Limousin  approved by German Masons  says: "The majority of men conceive God in the sense of exoteric religions as an all-powerful man; others conceive God as the highest idea a man can form in the sense of esoteric religions." The latter are called Atheists according to the exoteric notion of God repudiated by science, but they are not Atheists according to the esoteric and true notion of God. On the contrary, add others  they are less Atheists than churchmen, from whom they differ only by holding a higher idea of God or the Divine. In this sense Thevenot, Grand Secretary of the Grand Orient of France, in an official letter to the Grand Lodge of Scotland (30 January, 1878), states: "French Masonry does not believe that there exist Atheists in the absolute sense of the word"  and Pike himself  avows:
A man who has a higher conception of God than those about him and who denies that their conception is God, is very likely to be called an Atheist by men who are really far less believers in God than he, etc.Thus the whole controversy turns out to be merely nominal and formal. Moreover, it is to be noticed that the clause declaring belief in the great Architect a condition of admission, was introduced into the text of the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of England, only in 1815 and that the same text says: "A Mason therefore is particularly bound never to act against the dictates of his conscience", whereby the Grand Lodge of England seems to acknowledge that liberty of conscience is the sovereign principle of Freemasonry prevailing over all others when in conflict with them. The same supremacy of the liberty of conscience is implied also in the unsectarian character, which Anglo-American Masons recognize as the innermost essence of masonry. "Two principles", said the German Emperor Frederick III, in a solemn address to Masons at Strasburg on 12 September, 1886, "characterize above all our purposes, viz., liberty of conscience and tolerance"; and the "Handbuch"  justly observes that liberty of conscience and tolerance were thereby proclaimed the foundation of Masonry by the highest Masonic authority in Germany.
Thus the Grand Orient of France is right from the Masonic point of view as to the substance of the question; but it has deviated from tradition by discarding symbols and symbolical formulæ, which, if rightly understood, in no way imply dogmatic assertions and which cannot be rejected without injuring the work of Masonry, since this has need of ambiguous religious formulæ adaptable to every sort of belief and every phase of moral development. From this point of view the symbol of the Grand Architect of the Universe and of the Bible are indeed of the utmost importance for Masonry. Hence, several Grand Lodges which at first were supposed to imitate the radicalism of the French, eventually retained these symbols. A representative of the Grand Lodge of France writes in this sense to Findel: "We entirely agree with you in considering all dogmas, either positive or negative, as radically contradictory to Masonry, the teaching of which must only be propagated by symbols. And the symbols may and must be explained by each one according to his own understanding; thereby they serve to maintain concord. Hence our Grand Lodge facultatively retains the Symbol of the Grand Architect of the Universe, because every one can conceive it in conformity with his personal convictions. [Lodges are allowed to retain the symbols, but there is no obligation at all of doing so, and many do not.] To excommunicate each other on account of metaphysical questions, appears to us the most unworthy thing Masons can do".  The official organ of Italian Masonry even emphasizes: "The formula of the Grand Architect, which is reproached to Masonry as ambiguous and absurd, is the most large-minded and righteous affirmation of the immense principle of existence and may represent as well the (revolutionary) God of Mazzini as the Satan of Giosue Carducci (in his celebrated hymn to Satan); God, as the fountain of love, not of hatred; Satan, as the genius of the good, not of the bad".  In both interpretations it is in reality the principle of Revolution that is adored by Italian Masonry.
Propagation and evolution of Masonry
In its religious spirit Anglo-Saxon Masonry after 1730 undoubtedly retrograded towards biblical Christian orthodoxy.  This movement is attested by the Christianization of the rituals and by the popularity of the works of Hutchinson, Preston, and Oliver with Anglo-American Masons. It is principally due to the conservatism of English-speaking society in religious matters, to the influence of ecclesiastical members and to the institution of "lodge chaplains" mentioned in English records since 1733.  The reform brought by the articles of union between the two Grand Lodges of England (1 December, 1813) consisted above all in the restoration of the unsectarian character, in accordance with which all allusions to a particular (Christian) religion must be omitted in lodge proceedings. It was further decreed "there shall be the most perfect unity of obligation of discipline, or working . . . according to the genuine landmarks, laws and traditions . . . throughout the masonic world, from the day and date of the said union (1 December, 1813) until time shall be no more".  In taking this action the United Grand Lodge overrated its authority. Its decree was complied with, to a certain extent, in the United States where Masonry, first introduced about 1730, followed in general the stages of Masonic evolution in the mother country.
The title of Mother-Grand Lodge of the United States was the object of a long and ardent controversy between the Grand Lodges of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. The prevailing opinion at present is, that from time immemorial, i.e., prior to Grand Lodge warrants  there existed in Philadelphia a regular lodge with records dating from 1731.  In 1734 Benjamin Franklin published an edition of the English "Book of Constitutions". The principal agents of the modern Grand Lodge of England in the United States were Coxe and Price. Several lodges were chartered by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. After 1758, especially during the War of Independence, 1773-83, most of the lodges passed over to the "Ancients". The union of the two systems in England (1813) was followed by a similar union in America. The actual form of the American rite since then practised is chiefly due to Webb (1771-1819), and to Cross (1783-1861).
In France and Germany, at the beginning Masonry was practised according to the English ritual  but so-called "Scottish" Masonry soon arose. Only nobles being then reputed admissible in good society as fully qualified members, the Masonic gentlemen's society was interpreted as society of Gentilshommes, i.e., of noblemen or at least of men ennobled or knighted by their very admission into the order, which according to the old English ritual still in use, is "more honourable than the Golden Fleece, or the Star or Garter or any other Order under the Sun". The pretended association of Masonry with the orders of the warlike knights and of the religious was far more acceptable than the idea of development out of stone-cutters' guilds. Hence an oration delivered by the Scottish Chevalier Ramsay before the Grand Lodge of France in 1737 and inserted by Tierce into his first French edition of the "Book of Constitutions" (1743) as an "oration of the Grand Master", was epoch-making.  In this oration Masonry was dated from "the close association of the order with the Knights of St. John in Jerusalem" during the Crusades; and the "old lodges of Scotland" were said to have preserved this genuine Masonry, lost by the English. Soon after 1750, however, as occult sciences were ascribed to the Templars, their system was readily adaptable to all kinds of Rosicrucian purposes and to such practices as alchemy, magic, cabbala, spiritism, and necromancy. The suppression of the order with the story of the Grand Master James Molay and its pretended revival in Masonry, reproduced in the Hiram legend, representing the fall and the resurrection of the just or the suppression and the restoration of the natural rights of man, fitted in admirably with both Christian and revolutionary high grade systems. The principal Templar systems of the eighteenth century were the system of the "Strict Observance", organized by the swindler Rosa and propagated by the enthusiast von Hundt; and the Swedish system, made up of French and Scottish degrees in Sweden.
In both systems obedience to unknown superiors was promised. The supreme head of these Templar systems, which were rivals to each other, was falsely supposed to be the Jacobite Pretender, Charles Edward, who himself declared in 1777 that he had never been a Mason.  Almost all the lodges of Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia were, in the second half of the eighteenth century, involved in the struggle between these two systems. In the lodges of France and other countries  the admission of women to lodge meetings occasioned a scandalous immorality.  The revolutionary spirit manifested itself early in French Masonry. Already in 1746 in the book "La Franc-Maçonnerie, écrasée", an experienced ex-Mason, who, when a Mason, had visited many lodges in France and England, and consulted high Masons in official position, described as the true Masonic programme a programme which, according to Boos, the historian of Freemasonry (p. 192), in an astonishing degree coincides with the programme of the great French Revolution of 1789. In 1776 this revolutionary spirit was brought into Germany by Weisshaupt through a conspiratory system, which soon spread throughout the country.  Charles Augustus of Saxe-Weimar, Duke Ernest of Gotha, Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick, Goethe, Herder, Pestalozzi, etc., are mentioned as members of this order of the Illuminati. Very few of the members, however, were initiated into the higher degrees. The French Illuminati included Condorcet, the Duke of Orléans, Mirabeau, and Sieyès. 
After the Congress of Wilhelmsbade (1782) reforms were made both in Germany and in France. The principal German reformers, L. Schröder (Hamburg) and I.A. Fessler, tried to restore the original simplicity and purity. The system of Schröder is actually practised by the Grand Lodge of Hamburg, and a modified system (Schröder-Fessler) by the Grand Lodge Royal York (Berlin) and most lodges of the Grand Lodge of Bayreuth and Dresden. The Grand Lodges of Frankfort-on-the-Main and Darmstadt practice an eclectic system on the basis of the English ritual.  Except the Grand Lodge Royal York, which has Scottish "Inner Orients" and an "Innermost Orient", the others repudiate high degrees. The largest Grand Lodge of Germany, the National (Berlin), practises a rectified Scottish (Strict Observance) system of seven degrees and the "Landes Grossloge" and Swedish system of nine degrees. The same system is practised by the Grand Lodge of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. These two systems still declare Masonry a Christian institution and with the Grand Lodge Royal York refuse to initiate Jews. Findel states that the principal reason is to prevent Masonry from being dominated by a people whose strong racial attachments are incompatible with the unsectarian character of the institution. 
The principal system in the United States (Charleston, South Carolina) is the so-called Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, organized in 1801 on the basis of the French Scottish Rite of perfection, which was established by the Council of the Emperors of the East and West (Paris, 1758). This system, which was propagated throughout the world, may be considered as the revolutionary type of the French Templar Masonry, fighting for the natural rights of man against religious and political despotisms, symbolized by the papal tiara and a royal crown. It strives to exert a preponderant influence on the other Masonic bodies, wherever it is established.
This influence is insured to it in the Grand Orient systems of Latin countries; it is felt even in Britain and Canada, where the supreme chiefs of craft Masonry are also, as a rule, prominent members of the Supreme Councils of the Scottish Rite. There are at the present time (1908) twenty-six universally recognized Supreme Councils of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite: U.S. of America: Southern Jurisdiction (Washington), established in 1801; Northern Jurisdiction (Boston), 1813; Argentine Republic (Buenos Aires), 1858; Belgium (Brussels), 1817; Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), 1829; Chile (Santiago), 1870; Colon, for West India Islands (Havana), 1879; Columbia (Cartagena); Dominican Republic (S. Domingo); England (London), 1845; Egypt (Cairo), 1878; France (Paris), 1804; Greece (Athens), 1872; Guatemala (for Central American), 1870; Ireland (Dublin), 1826; Italy (Florence), 1858; Mexico (1868); Paraguay (Asuncion); Peru (Lima), 1830; Portugal (Lisbon), 1869; Scotland (Edinburgh), 1846; Spain (Madrid), 1811; Switzerland (Lausanne), 1873; Uruguay (Montevideo); Venezuela (Caracas). Supreme Councils not universally recognized exist in Hungary, Luxemburg, Naples, Palermo, Rome, Turkey. The founders of the rite, to give it a great splendour, invented the fable that Frederick II, King of Prussia, was its true founder, and this fable upon the authority of Pike and Mackey is still maintained as probable in the last edition of Mackey's "Encyclopedia" (1908). 
Organization and statistics
"has no right to be popular. It is a secret society. It is for the few, not the many, for the select, not for the masses."Practically, it is true, the prescriptions concerning the intellectual and moral endowments are not rigourously obeyed:
"Numbers are being admitted . . . whose sole object is to make their membership a means for advancing their pecuniary interest". Of the Masonic rule — brotherly love, relief, and truth — certainly the two former, especially as understood in the sense of mutual assistance in all the emergencies of life, is for most of the candidates the principal reason for joining. This mutual assistance, especially symbolized by the five points of fellowship and the "grand hailing sign of distress" in the third degree, is one of the most fundamental characteristics of Freemasonry. By his oath the Master Mason is pledged to maintain and uphold the five points of fellowship in act as well as in words, i.e., to assist a Master Mason on every occasion according to his ability, and particularly when he makes the sign of distress. In Duncan, "American Ritual" (229), the Royal Arch-Mason even swears:
I will assist a companion Royal Arch-Mason, when I see him engaged in any difficulty and will espouse his cause so as to extricate him from the same whether he be right or wrong.It is a fact attested by experienced men of all countries that, wherever Masonry is influential, non-Masons have to suffer in their interests from the systematical preferment which Masons give each other in appointment to offices and employment. Even Bismarck  complained of the effects of such mutual Masonic assistance, which is detrimental alike to civic equality and to public interests. In Masonic books and magazines unlawful and treacherous acts, performed in rendering this mutual assistance, are recommended and praised as a glory of Freemasonry."The inexorable laws of war themselves", says the official orator of the Grand Orient de France, Lefèbvre d'Aumale  "had to bend before Freemasonry, which is perhaps the most striking proof of its power. A sign sufficed to stop the slaughter; the combatants threw away their arms, embraced each other fraternally and at once became friends and Brethren as their oaths prescribed", and the "Handbuch"  declares: "this sign has had beneficial effect, particularly in times of war, where it often disarms the bitterest enemies, so that they listen to the voice of humanity and give each other mutual assistance instead of killing each other".  Even the widely spread suspicion, that justice is sometimes thwarted and Masonic criminals saved from due punishment, cannot be deemed groundless. The said practice of mutual assistance is so reprehensible that Masonic authors themselves  condemn it severely. "If", says Bro. Marbach (23), "Freemasonry really could be an association and even a secret one of men of the most different ranks of society, assisting and advancing each other, it would be an iniquitous association, and the police would have no more urgent duty than to exterminate it."
Another characteristic of Masonic law is that "treason" and "rebellion" against civil authority are declared only political crimes, which affect the good standing of a Brother no more than heresy, and furnish no ground for a Masonic trial.  The importance which Masonry attaches to this point is manifest from the fact that it is set forth in the Article II of the "Old Charges", which defines the duties of a Freemason with respect to the State and civil powers. Compared with the corresponding injunction of the "Gothic" constitutions of operative masonry, it is no less ambiguous than Article I concerning God and religion. The old Gothic Constitutions candidly enjoined: "Also you shall be true liegemen to the King without treason or falsehood and that you shall know no treason but you mend it, if you may, or else warn the King or his council thereof".  The second article of modern speculative Freemasonry (1723) runs:
Of the civil magistrates, supreme and subordinate. A Mason is a peaceable subject to the Civil Powers, wherever he resides or works, and is never to be concerned in Plots and Conspiracies against the peace and welfare of the Nation, nor to behave himself undutifully to inferior Magistrates; for as Masonry hath always been injured by War, Bloodshed and Confusion so ancient Kings and Princes have been much disposed to encourage the craftsmen, because of their Peaceableness and Loyalty, whereby they practically answer'd the Cavils of their adversaries and promoted the Honour of Fraternity, who ever flourished in Times of Peace. So that if a Brother should be a Rebel against the State, he is not to be countenanc'd in his Rebellion, however he may be pitied as an unhappy man; and, if convicted of no other Crime, though the loyal Brotherhood must and ought to disown his Rebellion, and give no Umbrage or Ground of political Jealousy to the Government for the time being; they cannot expel him from the Lodge and his Relation to it remains indefeasible.Hence rebellion by modern speculative Masonry is only disapproved when plots are directed against the peace and welfare of the nation. The brotherhood ought to disown the rebellion, but only in order to preserve the fraternity from annoyance by the civil authorities. A brother, then, guilty of rebellion cannot be expelled from the lodge; on the contrary, his fellow Masons are particularly obliged to have pity on his misfortune when he (in prison or before the courts) has to suffer from the consequences of his rebellion, and give him brotherly assistance as far as they can. Freemasonry itself as a body is very peaceable and loyal, but it does not disapprove; on the contrary, it commends those brethren who through love of freedom and the national welfare successfully plot against monarchs and other despotic rulers, while as an association of public utility it claims privilege and protection through kings, princes, and other high dignitaries for the success of its peaceful work. "Loyalty to freedom", says "Freemason's Chronicle"  "overrides all other considerations". The wisdom of this regulation, remarks Mackey  "will be apparent when we consider, that if treason or rebellion were masonic crimes, almost every mason in the United Colonies, in 1776, would have been subject to expulsion and every Lodge to a forfeiture of its warrant by the Grand Lodges of England and Scotland, under whose jurisdiction they were at the time".
A misleading adage is "once a Mason always a Mason". This is often taken to mean that "the Masonic tie is indissoluble, that there is no absolution from its consequences"  or "Obligations"  that not even death can sever the connection of a Mason with Freemasonry.  But certainly a Mason has the "right of demission"  and this right, whatever be the opinion of Masonic jurisprudence, according to the inalienable natural rights of man, extends to a complete withdrawal not only from the lodge but also from the brotherhood. In the scale of Masonic penalties, "expulsion" is the most severe.  Besides those who have been expelled or who have resigned there are many "unaffiliated" Masons who have ceased to be "active" members of a lodge, but, according to Masonic law, which, of course, can oblige no more than is authorized by the general rules of morality, they remain subject to the lodge within the jurisdiction of which they reside.
As to unity, Masonic authorities unanimously affirm that Freemasonry throughout the world is one, and that all Freemasons form in reality but one lodge; that distinct lodges exist only for the sake of convenience, and that consequently every regular Mason is entitled to be received in every regular lodge of the world as a brother, and, if in distress, to be relieved. The good understanding among Masons of different countries is furthered by personal intercourse and by correspondence, especially between the grand secretary offices and international congresses  which led to the establishment, in 1903, of a permanent international office at Neuchâtel, Switzerland.  There is no general Grand Lodge or direction of Freemasonry, though various attempts have been made in nearly every larger state or country to establish one. Incessant dissensions between Masonic systems and bodies are characteristic of Freemasonry in all countries and times. But the federative unity of Freemasonry suffices to prove a true solidarity among Masons and Masonic bodies throughout the world; hence the charge of complicity in the machinations which some of them carry on. This solidarity is openly avowed by Masonic authorities. Pike, for instance, writes 
When the journal in London which speaks of the Freemasonry of the Grand Lodge of England, deprecatingly protested that the English Freemasonry was innocent of the charges preferred by the Papal Bull (Encycl. 1884) against Freemasonry, when it declared that English Freemasonry had no opinions political or religious, and that it did not in the least degree sympathize with the loose opinions and extravagant utterances of part of the Continental Freemasonry, it was very justly and very conclusively checkmated by the Romish Organs with the reply, 'It is idle for you to protest. You are Freemasons and you recognize them as Freemasons. You give them countenance, encouragement and support and you are jointly responsible with them and cannot shirk that responsibility'.As accurate statistics are not always to be had and the methods of enumeration differ in different countries, total numbers can only be approximated. Thus in most of the Lodges of the United States only the Masters (third degree) are counted, while in other countries the apprentices and fellows are added. There are besides many unaffiliated Masons (having ceased to be members of a lodge) who are not included. Their number may be estimated at two-thirds of that of the active Masons. In England a Mason may act as member of many lodges. Confirming our statement as to the active members of the strictly Masonic bodies, which in calendars and year books are registered as such, we may, upon recent and reliable sources  estimate the actual state of Freemasonry as follows: Grand Orients, Grand Lodges, Supreme Councils, and other Scottish G. Bodies, 183; lodges 26,500; Masons, about 2,000,000; the number of the Grand Chapters of Royal Arch is: in the United States 2968 subordinate chapters, under one General Grand Chapter; England, 46 Grand Chapters with 1015 subordinate chapters; English colonies and foreign Masonic centres, 18 Grand Chapters with 150 subordinate chapters. The census of craft masonry is as follows:
•Great Britain and Colonies (excluding Canada): 4,670 lodges; 262,651 membersInner work of Freemasonry: — Masonic symbolism and oaths
"From first to last", says Pike  "Masonry is work". The Masonic "work", properly so called, is the inner secret ritualistic work by which Masons are made and educated for the outer work, consisting in action for the welfare of mankind according to Masonic principles. Masons are made by the three ceremonies of initiation (first degree), passing (second degree), and raising (third degree). The symbols displayed in these ceremonies and explained according to the Masonic principles and to the verbal hints given in the rituals and lectures of the third degrees, are the manual of Masonic instruction. The education thus begun is completed by the whole lodge life, in which every Mason is advised to take an active part, attending the lodge meetings regularly, profiting, according to his ability, by the means which Masonry affords him, to perfect himself in conformity with Masonic ideals, and contributing to the discussions of Masonic themes and to a good lodge government, which is represented as a model of the government of society at large. The lodge is to be a type of the world  and Masons are intended to take part in the regeneration of the human race.  "The symbolism of Freemasonry", says Pike in a letter to Gould, 2 December, 1888  "is the very soul of Masonry." And Boyd, the Grand Orator of Missouri, confirms: "It is from the beginning to the end symbol, symbol, symbol". 
The principal advantages of this symbolism, which is not peculiar to Freemasonry but refers to the mysteries and doctrines of all ages and of all factors of civilization, are the following: (1) As it is adaptable to all possible opinions, doctrines, and tastes, it attracts the candidate and fascinates the initiated. (2) It preserves the unsectarian unity of Freemasonry in spite of profound differences in religion, race, national feeling, and individual tendencies. (3) It sums up the theoretical and practical wisdom of all ages and nations in a universally intelligible language. (4) It trains the Mason to consider existing institutions, religious, political, and social, as passing phases of human evolution and to discover by his own study the reforms to be realized in behalf of Masonic progress, and the means to realize them. (5) It teaches him to see in prevailing doctrines and dogmas merely subjective conceptions or changing symbols of a deeper universal truth in the sense of Masonic ideals. (6) It allows Freemasonry to conceal its real purposes from the profane and even from those among the initiated, who are unable to appreciate those aims, as Masonry intends. "Masonry", says Pike, "jealously conceals its secrets and intentionally leads conceited interpreters astray".  "Part of the Symbols are displayed . . . to the Initiated, but he is intentionally misled by false interpretations".  "The initiated are few though many hear the Thyrsus".  "The meaning of the Symbols is not unfolded at once. We give you hints only in general. You must study out the recondite and mysterious meaning for yourself".  "It is for each individual Mason to discover the secret of Masonry by reflection on its symbols and a wise consideration of what is said and done in the work".  "The universal cry throughout the Masonic world", says Mackey  "is for light; our lodges are henceforth to be schools, our labour is to be study, our wages are to be learning; the types and symbols, the myths and allegories of the institution are only beginning to be investigated with reference to the ultimate meaning and Freemasons now thoroughly understand that often quoted definition, that Masonry is a science of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols."
Masonic symbols can be and are interpreted in different senses. By orthodox Anglican ecclesiastics the whole symbolism of the Old and New Testament connected with the symbolism of the Temple of Solomon was treated as Masonic symbolism and Masonry as the "handmaid of religion"  which, "in almost every part of every degree refers distinctly and plainly to a crucified Saviour".  Many Masonic authors in the Latin countries  and some of the principal Anglo-American authors  declare that Masonic symbolism in its original and proper meaning refers above all to the solar and phallic worship of the ancient mysteries, especially the Egyptian.  "It is in the antique symbols and their occult meaning", says Pike  "that the true secrets of Freemasonry consist. These must reveal its nature and true purposes." In conformity with this rule of interpretation, the letter G in the symbol of Glory (Blazing Star) or the Greek Gamma (square), summing up all Masonry is very commonly explained as meaning "generation"; the initial letter of the tetragrammaton (Yahweh) and the whole name is explained as male or male-female principle.  In the same sense according to the ancient interpretation are explained the two pillars Boaz and Jachin; the Rosecroix (a cross with a rose in the centre); the point within the circle; the "vesica piscis", the well-known sign for the Saviour; the triple Tau; Sun and Moon; Hiram and Christ (Osiris); the coffin; the Middle Chamber and even the Sancta Sanctorum, as adyta or most holy parts of each temple, usually contained hideous objects of phallic worship. 
As Masons even in their official lectures and rituals, generally claim an Egyptian origin for Masonic symbolism and a close "affinity" of "masonic usages and customs with those of the Ancient Egyptians"  such interpretations are to be deemed officially authorized. Pike says, moreover, that "almost every one of the ancient Masonic symbols" has "four distinct meanings, one as it were within the other, the moral, political, philosophical and spiritual meaning".  From the political point of view Pike with many other Anglo-American Scotch Masons interprets all Masonic symbolism in the sense of a systematic struggle against every kind of political and religious "despotism". Hiram, Christ, Molay are regarded only as representatives of "Humanity" the "Apostles of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity".  The Cross (a double or quadruple square) is "no specific Christian symbol", "to all of us it is an emblem of Nature and of Eternal life; whether of them only let each say for himself".  The Cross X (Christ) was the Sign of the Creative Wisdom or Logos, the Son of God. Mithraism signed its soldiers on the forehead with a cross, etc.  I.N.R.I., the inscription on the Cross is, Masonically read: "Igne Natura Renovatur Integra". The regeneration of nature by the influence of the sun symbolizes the spiritual regeneration of mankind by the sacred fire (truth and love) of Masonry, as a purely naturalistic institution.  "The first assassin of Hiram is Royalty as the common type of tyranny", striking "with its rule of iron at the throat of Hiram and making freedom of speech treason." The second assassin is the Pontificate (Papacy) "aiming the square of steel at the heart of the victim".  Christ dying on Calvary is for Masonry "the greatest among the apostles of Humanity, braving Roman despotism and the fanaticism and bigotry of the priesthood".  Under the symbol of the Cross, "the legions of freedom shall march to victory". 
The Kadosh (thirtieth degree), trampling on the papal tiara and the royal crown, is destined to wreak a just vengeance on these "high criminals" for the murder of Molay  and "as the apostle of truth and the rights of man"  to deliver mankind "from the bondage of Despotism and the thraldom of spiritual Tyranny".  "In most rituals of this degree everything breathes vengeance" against religious and political "Despotism".  Thus Masonic symbols are said to be "radiant of ideas, which should penetrate the soul of every Mason and be clearly reflected in his character and conduct, till he become a pillar of strength to the fraternity".  "There is no iota of Masonic Ritual", adds the "Voice" of Chicago, "which is void of significance".  These interpretations, it is true, are not officially adopted in Anglo-American craft rituals; but they appear in fully authorized, though not the only ones authorized even by its system and by the first two articles of the "Old Charge" (1723), which contains the fundamental law of Freemasonry. As to the unsectarian character of Masonry and its symbolism, Pike justly remarks: "Masonry propagates no creed, except its own most simple and sublime one taught by Nature and Reason. There has never been a false Religion on the world. The permanent one universal revelation is written in visible Nature and explained by the Reason and is completed by the wise analogies of faith. There is but one true religion, one dogma, one legitimate belief".  Consequently, also, the Bible as a Masonic symbol, is to be interpreted as a symbol of the Book of Nature or of the Code of human reason and conscience, while Christian and other dogmas have for Freemasonry but the import of changing symbols veiling the one permanent truth, of which Masonic "Science" and "Arts" are a "progressive revelation", and application. 
It should be noted, that the great majority of Masons are far from being "initiated" and "are groveling in Egyptian darkness".  "The Masonry of the higher degrees", says Pike  "teaches the great truths of intellectual science; but as to these, even as to the rudiments and first principles, Blue Masonry is absolutely dumb. Its dramas seem intended to teach the resurrection of the body". "The pretended possession of mysterious secrets, has enabled Blue Masonry to number its initiates by tens of thousands. Never were any pretences to the possession of mysterious knowledge so baseless and so absurd as those of the Blue and Royal Arch Chapter Degrees".  "The aping Christianity of Blue Masonry made it simply an emasculated and impotent society with large and sounding pretences and slender performances. And yet its multitudes adhere to it, because initiation is a necessity for the Human Soul; and because it instinctively longs for a union of the many under the control of a single will, in things spiritual as well as in things temporal, for a Hierarchy and a Monarch".  "It is for the Adept to understand the meaning of the Symbols  and Oliver declares: "Brethren, high in rank and office, are often unacquainted with the elementary principles of the science".  Masons "may be fifty years Masters of the Chair and yet not learn the secret of the Brotherhood. This secret is, in its own nature, invulnerable; for the Mason, to whom it has become known, can only have guessed it and certainly not have received it from any one; he has discovered it, because he has been in the lodge, marked, learned and inwardly digested. When he arrives at the discovery, he unquestionably keeps it to himself, not communicating it even to his most intimate Brother, because, should this person not have capability to discover it of himself, he would likewise be wanting in the capability to use it, if he received it verbally. For this reason it will forever remain a secret". 
In view of the fact that the secrets of Masonry are unknown to the bulk of Masons, the oaths of secrecy taken on the Bible are all the more startling and unjustifiable. The oath, for instance, of the first degree is as follows: "I, in the presence of the Great Architect of the Universe, . . . do hereby and hereon solemnly and sincerely swear, that I will always hide, conceal and never reveal any part or parts, any point or points of the secrets or mysteries of or belonging to Free and Accepted Masons in Masonry which may heretofore have been known by, shall now or may at any future time be communicated to me" etc. "These several points I solemnly swear to observe under no less penalty, than to have my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by the root and my body buried in the sands of the sea", "or the more efficient punishment of being branded as a wilfully perjured individual, void of all moral worth". "So help me God", etc.
Similar oaths, but with severer penalties attached, are taken in the advanced degrees. The principle contents of the promises are according to Pike:
Eighteenth degree: "I obligate and pledge myself always to sustain, that it belongs to Masonry to teach the great unsectarian truths, that do not exclusively belong to any religion and acknowledge that I have no right whatever to exact from others the acceptation of any particular interpretation of masonic symbols, that I may attribute to them by the virtue of my personal belief. I obligate and solemnly pledge myself to respect and sustain by all means and under any circumstances Liberty of Speech, Liberty of Thought and Liberty of Conscience in religious and political matters". Outer work of Freemasonry: its achievements, purposes and methods
The outer work of Freemasonry, though uniform in its fundamental character and its general lines, varies considerably in different countries and different Masonic symbols. "Charitable"or "philanthropic" purposes are chiefly pursued by English, German, and American Masonry, while practically at least, they are neglected by Masons in the Latin countries, who are absorbed by political activity. But even in England, where relatively the largest sums are spent for charitable purposes, Masonic philanthropy does not seem to be inspired by very high ideals of generosity and disinterestedness, at least with respect to the great mass of the brethren; the principal contributions are made by a few very wealthy brethren and the rest by such as are well-to-do.
Moreover, in all countries it is almost exclusively Masons and their families that profit by Masonic charity. Masonic beneficence towards the "profane" world is little more than figurative, consisting in the propagation and application of Masonic principles by which Masons pretend to promote the welfare of mankind; and if Masons, particularly in Catholic countries, occasionally devote themselves to charitable works as ordinarily understood, their aim is to gain sympathy and thereby further their real purposes. In North America, especially in the United States a characteristic feature of the outer work is the tendency toward display in the construction of sumptuous Masonic "temples", in Masonic processions, at the laying of cornerstones and the dedication of public buildings and even of Christian churches. This tendency has frequently been rebuked by Masonic writers. "The Masonry of this continent has gone mad after high degreeism and grand titleism. We tell the brethren, that if they do not pay more attention to the pure, simple, beautiful symbolism of the Lodge and less to the tinsel, furbelow, fire and feathers of Scotch Ritism and Templarism, the Craft will yet be shaken to its very foundations!" "Let the tocsin be sounded".  "Many masons have passed through the ceremony without any inspiration; but, in public parades of the Lodges (also in England) they may generally be found in the front rank and at the masonic banquets they can neither be equalled nor excelled". 
Even with regard to the most recent Turkish Revolution, it seems certain that the Young Turkish party, which made and directed the Revolution, was guided by Masons, and that Masonry, especially the Grand Orients of Italy and France, had a preponderant rôle in this Revolution.  In conducting this work Freemasonry propagates principles which, logically developed, as shown above, are essentially revolutionary and serve as a basis for all kinds of revolutionary movements. Directing Masons to find out for themselves practical reforms in conformity with Masonic ideals and to work for their realization, it fosters in its members and through them in society at large the spirit of innovation. As an apparently harmless and even beneficent association, which in reality is, through its secrecy and ambiguous symbolism, subject to the most different influences, it furnishes in critical times a shelter for conspiracy, and, even when its lodges themselves are not transformed into conspiracy clubs, Masons are trained and encouraged to found new associations for such purposes or to make use of existing associations.
Thus, Freemasonry in the eighteenth century, as a powerful ally of infidelity, prepared the French Revolution. The alliance of Freemasonry with philosophy was publicly sealed by the solemn initiation of Voltaire, the chief of these philosophers, 7 February, 1778, and his reception of the Masonic garb from the famous materialist Bro. Helvetius.  Prior to the Revolution various conspiratory societies arose in connection with Freemasonry from which they borrowed its forms and methods; Illuminati, clubs of Jacobins, etc. A relatively large number of the leading revolutionists were members of Masonic lodges, trained by lodge life for their political career. Even the programme of the Revolution expressed in the "rights of man" was, as shown above, drawn from Masonic principles, and its device: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" is the very device of Freemasonry. Similarly, Freemasonry, together with the Carbonari, cooperated in the Italian revolutionary movement of the nineteenth century. Nearly all the prominent leaders and among them Mazzini and Garibaldi, are extolled by Masonry as its most distinguished members. In Germany and Austria, Freemasonry during the eighteenth century was a powerful ally of the so-called party, of "Enlightenment" (Aufklaerung), and of Josephinism; in the nineteenth century of the pseudo-Liberal and of the anti-clerical party.
In order to appreciate rightly the activity of Freemasonry in Germany, Sweden, Denmark and England, and in France under the Napoleonic regime, the special relations between Freemasonry and the reigning dynasties must not be overlooked. In Germany two-thirds of the Masons are members of the old Prussian Grand Lodges under the protectorship of a member of the Royal Dynasty, which implies a severe control of all lodge activity in conformity with the aims of the Government. Hence German Freemasons are scarcely capable of independent action. But they certainly furthered the movement by which Prussia gradually became the leading state of Germany, considered by them as the "representative and the protector of modern evolution" against "Ultramontanism", "bigotry", and "Papal usurpations". They also instigated the "Kulturkampf". The celebrated jurisconsult and Mason, Grandmaster Bluntschli, was one of the foremost agitators in this conflict; he also stirred up the Swiss "Kulturkampf". At his instigation the assembly of the "Federation of the German Grand Lodges", in order to increase lodge activity in the sense of the "Kulturkampf", declared, 24 May, 1874: "It is a professional duty for the lodges to see to it, that the brethren become fully conscious of the relations of Freemasonry to the sphere of ethical life and cultural purposes. Freemasons are obliged to put into effect the principles of Freemasonry in practical life and to defend the ethical foundations of human society, whensoever these are assailed. The Federation of the German Grand Lodges will provide, that every year questions of actuality be proposed to all lodges for discussion and uniform action".  German Freemasons put forth untiring efforts to exert a decisive influence on the whole life of the nation in keeping with Masonic principles, thus maintaining a perpetual silent "Kulturkampf". The principal means which they employ are popular libraries, conferences, the affiliation of kindred associations and institutions, the creation, where necessary, of new institutions, through which the Masonic spirit permeates the nation.  A similar activity is displayed by the Austrian Freemasons.
The chief organization which in France secured the success of Freemasonry was the famous "League of instruction" founded in 1867 by Bro. F. Macé, later a member of the Senate. This league affiliated and implied with its spirit many other associations. French Masonry and above all the Grand Orient of France has displayed the most systematic activity as the dominating political element in the French "Kulturkampf" since 1877.  From the official documents of French Masonry contained principally in the official "Bulletin" and "Compte-rendu" of the Grand Orient it has been proved that all the anti-clerical measures passed in the French Parliament were decreed beforehand in the Masonic lodges and executed under the direction of the Grand Orient, whose avowed aim is to control everything and everybody in France.  "I said in the assembly of 1898", states the deputy Massé, the official orator of the Assembly of 1903, "that it is the supreme duty of Freemasonry to interfere each day more and more in political and profane struggles". "Success (in the anti-clerical combat) is in a large measure due to Freemasonry; for it is its spirit, its programme, its methods, that have triumphed." "If the Bloc has been established, this is owing to Freemasonry and to the discipline learned in the lodges. The measures we have now to urge are the separation of Church and State and a law concerning instruction. Let us put our trust in the word of our Bro. Combes". "For a long time Freemasonry has been simply the republic in disguise", i.e., the secret parliament and government of Freemasonry in reality rule France; the profane State, Parliament, and Government merely execute its decrees. "We are the conscience of the country"; "we are each year the funeral bell announcing the death of a cabinet that has not done its duty but has betrayed the Republic; or we are its support, encouraging it by saying in a solemn hour: I present you the word of the country . . . its satisfecit which is wanted by you, or its reproach that to-morrow will be sealed by your fall". "We need vigilance and above all mutual confidence, if we are to accomplish our work, as yet unfinished. This work, you know . . . the anti-clerical combat, is going on. The Republic must rid itself of the religious congregations, sweeping them off by a vigorous stroke. The system of half measures is everywhere dangerous; the adversary must be crushed with a single blow".  "It is beyond doubt", declared the President of the Assembly of 1902, Bro. Blatin, with respect to the French elections of 1902, "that we would have been defeated by our well-organized opponents, if Freemasonry had not spread over the whole country". 
Along with this political activity Freemasonry employed against its adversaries, whether real or supposed, a system of spying and false accusation, the exposure of which brought about the downfall of the masonic cabinet of Combes. In truth all the "anti-clerical" Masonic reforms carried out in France since 1877, such as the secularization of education, measures against private Christian schools and charitable establishments, the suppression of the religious orders and the spoliation of the Church, professedly culminate in an anti-Christian and irreligious reorganization of human society, not only in France but throughout the world. Thus French Freemasonry, as the standard-bearer of all Freemasonry, pretends to inaugurate the golden era of the Masonic universal republic, comprising in Masonic brotherhood all men and all nations. "The triumph of the Galilean", said the president of the Grand Orient, Senator Delpech, on 20 September, 1902, "has lasted twenty centuries. But now he dies in his turn. The mysterious voice, announcing (to Julian the Apostate) the death of Pan, today announces the death of the impostor God who promised an era of justice and peace to those who believe in him. The illusion has lasted a long time. The mendacious God is now disappearing in his turn; he passes away to join in the dust of ages the divinities of India, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, who saw so many creatures prostrate before their altars. Bro. Masons, we rejoice to state that we are not without our share in this overthrow of the false prophets. The Romish Church, founded on the Galilean myth, began to decay rapidly from the very day on which the Masonic Association was established". 
The assertion of the French Masons: "We are the conscience of the country", was not true. By the official statistics it was ascertained, that in all elections till 1906 the majority of the votes were against the Masonic Bloc, and even the result in 1906 does not prove that the Bloc, or Masonry, in its anti-clerical measures and purposes represents the will of the nation, since the contrary is evident from many other facts. Much less does it represent the "conscience" of the nation. The fact is, that the Bloc in 1906 secured a majority only because the greater part of this majority voted against their "conscience". No doubt the claims of Freemasonry in France are highly exaggerated, and such success as they have had is due chiefly to the lowering of the moral tone in private and public life, facilitated by the disunion existing among Catholics and by the serious political blunders which they committed. Quite similar is the outer work of the Grand Orient of Italy which likewise pretends to be the standard-bearer of Freemasonry in the secular struggle of Masonic light and freedom against the powers of "spiritual darkness and bondage", alluding of course to the papacy, and dreams of the establishment of a new and universal republican empire with a Masonic Rome, supplanting the papal and Cæsarean as metropolis. The Grand Orient of Italy has often declared that it is enthusiastically followed in this struggle by the Freemasonry of the entire world and especially by the Masonic centres at Paris, Berlin, London, Madrid, Calcutta, Washington.  It has not been contradicted by a single Grand Lodge in any country, nor did the German and other Grand Lodges break off their relations with it on account of it shameful political and anti-religious activity. But though the aims of Italian Masons are perhaps more radical and their methods more cunning than those of the French, their political influence, owing to the difference of the surrounding social conditions, is less powerful. The same is to be said of the Belgian and the Hungarian Grand Lodges, which also consider the Grand Orient of France as their political model.
Since 1889, the date of the international Masonic congress, assembled at Paris, 16 and 17 July, 1889, by the Grand Orient of France, systematic and incessant efforts have been made to bring about a closer union of universal Freemasonry in order to realize efficaciously and rapidly the Masonic ideals. The special allies of the Grand Orient in this undertaking are: the Supreme Council and the Symbolical Grand Lodge of France and the Masonic Grand Lodges of Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Portugal, Greece; the Grand Lodges of Massachusetts and of Brazil were also represented at the congress. The programme pursued by the Grand Orient of France, in its main lines, runs thus: "Masonry, which prepared the Revolution of 1789, has the duty to continue its work".  This task is to be accomplished by the thoroughly and rigidly consistent application of the principles of the Revolution to all the departments of the religious, moral, judicial, legal, political, and social order. The necessary political reforms being realized in most of their essential points, henceforth the consistent application of the revolutionary principles to the social conditions of mankind is the main task of Masonry. The universal social republic, in which, after the overthrow of every kind of spiritual and political tyranny", of "theocratical" and dynastical powers and class privileges, reigns the greatest possible individual liberty and social and economical equality conformably to French Masonic ideals, the real ultimate aims of this social work.
The following are deemed the principal means: (1) To destroy radically by open persecution of the Church or by a hypocritical fraudulent system of separation between State and Church, all social influence of the Church and of religion, insidiously called "clericalism", and, as far as possible, to destroy the Church and all true, i.e., superhuman religion, which is more than a vague cult of fatherland and of humanity; (2) To laicize, or secularize, by a likewise hypocritical fraudulent system of "unsectarianism", all public and private life and, above all, popular instruction and education. "Unsectarianism" as understood by the Grand Orient party is anti-Catholic and even anti-Christian, atheistic, positivistic, or agnostic sectarianism in the garb of unsectarianism. Freedom of thought and conscience of the children has to be developed systematically in the child at school and protected, as far as possible, against all disturbing influences, not only of the Church and priests, but also of the children's own parents, if necessary, even by means of moral and physical compulsion. The Grand Orient party considers it indispensable and an infallibly sure way to the final establishment of the universal social republic and of the pretended world peace, as they fancy them, and of the glorious era of human solidarity and of unsurpassable human happiness in the reign of liberty and justice. 
The efforts to bring about a closer union with Anglo-American and German Freemasonry were made principally by the Symbolical Grand Lodge of France and the "International Masonic Agency" at Neuchâtel (directed by the Swiss Past Grand Master Quartier-La Tente), attached to the little Grand Lodge "Alpina" of Switzerland. These two Grand Lodges, as disguised agents of the Grand Orient of France, act as mediators between this and the Masonic bodies of English-speaking and German countries. With English and American Grand Lodges their efforts till now have had but little success.  Only the Grand Lodge of Iowa seems to have recognized the Grand Lodge of France.  The English Grand Lodge not only declined the offers, but, on 23 September, 1907, through its registrar even declared: "We feel, that we in England are better apart from such people. Indeed, Freemasonry is in such bad odour on the Continent of Europe by reason of its being exploited by Socialists and Anarchists, that we may have to break off relations with more of the Grand Bodies who have forsaken our Landmarks".  The American Grand Lodges (Massachusetts, Missouri, etc.), in general, seem to be resolved to follow the example of the English Grand Lodges.
The German Grand Lodges, on the contrary, at least most of them, yielded to the pressure exercised on them by a great many German brothers. Captivated by the Grand Orient party on 3 June, 1906, the Federation of the eight German Grand Lodges, by 6 votes to 2, decreed to establish official friendly relations with the Grand Lodge, and on 27 May, 1909, by 5 votes to 3, to restore the same relations with the Grand Orient of France. This latter decree excited the greatest manifestations of joy, triumph and jubilation in the Grand Orient party, which considered it as an event of great historic import. But in the meantime a public press discussion was brought about by some incisive articles of the "Germania"  with the result, that the three old Prussian Grand Lodges, comprising 37,198 brothers controlled by the protectorate, abandoned their ambiguous attitude and energetically condemned the decree of 27 May, 1909, and the attitude of the 5 other so-called "humanitarian" German Grand Lodges, which comprise but 16,448 brothers. It was hoped, that the British and American Grand Lodges, enticed by the example of the German Grand Lodges, would, in the face of the common secular enemy in the Vatican, join the Grand Orient party before the great universal Masonic congress, to be held in Rome in 1911. But instead of this closer union of universal Freemasonry dreamt of by the Grand Orient party, the only result was a split between the German Grand Lodges by which their federation itself was momentarily shaken to its foundation.
But in spite of the failure of the official transactions, there are a great many German and not a few American Masons, who evidently favour at least the chief anti-clerical aims of the Grand Orient party. Startling evidence thereof was the recent violent world-wide agitation, which, on occasion of the execution of the anarchist, Bro. Ferrer, 31, an active member of the Grand Orient of France  was set at work by the Grand Orient of France  and of Italy  in order to provoke the organization of an international Kulturkampf after the French pattern. In nearly all the countries of Europe the separation between State and Church and the laicization or neutralization of the popular instruction and education, were and are still demanded by all parties of the Left with redoubled impetuosity.
The fact that there are also American Masons, who evidently advocate the Kulturkampf in America and stir up the international Kulturkampf, is attested by the example of Bros. J.D. Buck, 33 and A. Pike, 33. Buck published a book, "The Genius of Freemasonry", in which he advocates most energetically a Kulturkampf for the United States. This book, which in 1907, was in its 3rd edition, is recommended ardently to all American Masons by Masonic journals. A. Pike, as the Grand Commander of the Mother Supreme Council of the World (Charleston, South Carolina) lost no opportunity in his letters to excite the anti-clerical spirit of his colleagues. In a long letter of 28 December, 1886, for instance, he conjures the Italian Grand Commander, Timoteo Riboli, 33, the intimate friend of Garibaldi, to do all in his power, in order to unite Italian Masonry against the Vatican. He writes:
The Papacy . . . has been for a thousand years the torturer and curse of Humanity, the most shameless imposture, in its pretence to spiritual power of all ages. With its robes wet and reeking with the blood of half a million of human beings, with the grateful odour of roasted human flesh always in its nostrils, it is exulting over the prospect of renewed dominion. It has sent all over the world its anathemas against Constitutional government and the right of men to freedom of thought and conscience.Again,
"In presence of this spiritual 'Cobra di capello', this deadly, treacherous, murderous enemy, the most formidable power in the world, the unity of Italian Masonry is of absolute and supreme necessity; and to this paramount and omnipotent necessity all minor considerations ought to yield; dissensions and disunion, in presence of this enemy of the human race are criminal".Important Masonic journals, for instance, "The American Tyler-Keystone" (Ann Arbor), openly patronize the efforts of the French Grand Orient Party. "The absolute oneness of the Craft", says the Past Grand Master Clifford P. MacCalla (Pennsylvania), "is a glorious thought." "Neither boundaries of States nor vast oceans separate the Masonic Fraternity. Everywhere it is one." "There is no universal church, no universal body of politic; but there is an universal Fraternity, that Freemasonry; and every Brother who is a worthy member, may feel proud of it".  Owing to the solidarity existing between all Masonic bodies and individual Masons, they are all jointly responsible for the evil doings of their fellow-members.
Representative Masons, however, extol the pretended salutary influence of their order on human culture and progress. "Masonry", says Frater, Grand Orator, Washington, "is the shrine of grand thoughts, of beautiful sentiments, the seminary for the improvement of the moral and the mental standard of its members. As a storehouse of morality it rains benign influence on the mind and heart".  "Modern Freemasonry", according to other Masons, "is a social and moral reformer".  "No one", says the "Keystone" of Chicago, "has estimated or can estimate the far reaching character of the influence of Masonry in the world. It by no means is limited the bodies of the Craft. Every initiate is a light bearer, a center of light".  "In Germany as in the United States and Great Britain those who have been leaders of men in intellectual, moral and social life, have been Freemasons. Eminent examples in the past are the Brothers Fichte, Herder, Wieland, Lessing, Goethe. Greatest of them all was I.W. von Goethe. Well may we be proud of such a man"  etc. German Masons  claim for Freemasonry a considerable part in the splendid development of German literature in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These claims, however, when critically examined, prove to be either groundless or exaggerated. English Freemasonry, being then at a low intellectual and moral level and retrograding towards orthodoxy, was not qualified to be the originator or a leading factor in the freethinking "Culture of Enlightenment." German Masonry, then dominated by the Swedish system and the Strict Observance and intellectually and morally degenerated, as Masonic historians themselves avow, was in no better plight. In truth the leading literary men of the epoch, Lessing, Goethe, Herder, etc. were cruelly disabused and disappointed by what they saw and experienced in their lodge life.  Lessing spoke with contempt of the lodge life; Goethe characterized the Masonic associations and doings as "fools and rogues"; Herder wrote, 9 January, 1786, to the celebrated philologist Bro. Heyne; "I bear a deadly hatred to all secret societies and, as a result of my experience, both within their innermost circles and outside, I wish them all to the devil. For persistent domineering intrigues and the spirit of cabal creep beneath the cover". 
Freemasonry, far from contributing to the literary greatness of these or other leading men, profited by the external splendour which their membership reflected on it. But the advantage was by no means deserved, for even at the height of their literary fame, not they, but common swindlers, like Johnson, Cagliostro, etc., were the centres round which the Masonic world gravitated. All the superior men belonging to Freemasonry: Fichte, Fessler, Krause, Schröder, Mossdorf, Schiffman, Findel, etc., so far as they strove to purge lodge life from humbug, were treated ignominiously by the bulk of the average Masons and even by lodge authorities. Men of similar turn of mind are stigmatized by English and American Masonic devotees as "materialists" and "iconoclasts".  But true it is that the lodges work silently and effectually for the propagation and application of "unsectarian" Masonic principles in human society and life. The Masonic magazines abound in passages to this effect. Thus Bro. Richardson of Tennessee avers: "Freemasonry does its work silently, but it is the work of a deep river, that silently pushes on towards the ocean, etc."  "The abandonment of old themes and the formation of new ones", explained Grand High Priest, J.W. Taylor (Georgia),
"do not always arise from the immediately perceptible cause which the world assigns, but are the culmination of principles which have been working in the minds of men for many years, until at last the proper time and propitious surroundings kindle the latent truth into life, and, as the light of reason flows from mind to mind and the unity of purpose from heart to heart, enthusing all with a mighty common cause and moving nations as one man to the accomplishment of great ends. On this principle does the Institution of Freemasonry diffuse its influence to the world of mankind. It works quietly and secretly, but penetrates through all the interstices of society in its many relations, and the recipients of its many favors are awed by its grand achievements, but cannot tell whence it came". The "Voice" (Chicago) writes: "Never before in the history of ages has Freemasonry occupied so important a position, as at the present time. Never was its influence so marked, its membership so extensive, its teaching so revered." "There are more Masons outside the great Brotherhood than within it." Through its "pure morality" with which pure Freemasonry is synonomous, it "influences society, and, unperceived, sows the seed that brings forth fruit in wholesome laws and righteous enactments. It upholds the right, relieves the distressed, defends the weak and raises the fallen (of course, all understood in the masonic sense above explained). So, silently but surely and continually, it builds into the great fabric of human society". 
The real force of Freemasonry in its outer work is indeed, that there are more Masons and oftentimes better qualified for the performance of Masonic work, outside the brotherhood than within it. Freemasonry itself in Europe and in America founds societies and institutions of similar form and scope for all classes of society and infuses into them its spirit. Thus according to Gould  Freemasonry since about 1750 "has exercised a remarkable influence over all other oath-bound societies". The same is stated by Bro. L. Blanc, Deschamps, etc. for Germany and other countries. In the United States, according to the "Cyclopedia of Fraternities", there exist more than 600 secret societies, working more or less under the veil of forms patterned on Masonic symbolism and for the larger part notably influenced by Freemasonry, so that every third male adult in the United States is a member of one or more of such secret societies. "Freemasonry", says the "Cyclopedia", p.v., "of course, is shown to be the mother-Fraternity in fact as well as in name." "Few who are well informed on the subject, will deny that the masonic Fraternity is directly or indirectly the parent organization of all modern secret societies, good, bad and indifferent". 
Many Anglo-American Freemasons are wont to protest strongly against all charges accusing Freemasonry of interfering with political or religious affairs or of hostility to the Church or disloyalty to the public authorities. They even praise Freemasonry as "one of the strongest bulwarks of religions"  "the handmaid of religion"  and the "handmaid of the church".  "There is nothing in the nature of the Society", says the "Royal Craftsman", New York, "that necessitates the renunciation of a single sentence of any creed, the discontinuance of any religious customs or the obliteration of a dogma of belief. No one is asked to deny the Bible, to change his Church relations or to be less attentive to the teaching of his spiritual instructors and counsellors".  "Masonry indeed contains the pith of Christianity".  "It is a great mistake to suppose it an enemy of the Church." "It does not offer itself as a substitute of that divinely ordained institution." "It offers itself as an adjunct, as an ally, as a helper in the great work of the regeneration of the race, of the uplifting of man".  Hence, "we deny the right of the Romish Church to exclude from its communion those of its flock who have assumed the responsibility of the Order of Freemasonry". 
Though such protestations seem to be sincere and to reveal even a praiseworthy desire in their authors not to conflict with religion and the Church, they are contradicted by notorious facts. Certainly Freemasonry and "Christian" or "Catholic" religion are not opposed to each other, when Masons, some erroneously and others hypocritically understand "Christian" or "Catholic" in the above described Masonic sense, or when Masonry itself is mistakenly conceived as an orthodox Christian institution. But between "Masonry" and "Christian" or "Catholic" religion, conceived as they really are: between "unsectarian" Freemasonry and "dogmatic, orthodox" Christianity or Catholicism, there is a radical opposition. It is vain to say: though Masonry is officially "unsectarian", it does not prevent individual Masons from being "sectarian" in their non-Masonic relations; for in its official "unsectarianism" Freemasonry necessarily combats all that Christianity contains beyond the "universal religion in which all men agree", consequently all that is characteristic of the Christian and Catholic religion. These characteristic features Freemasonry combats not only as superfluous and merely subjective, but also as spurious additions disfiguring the objective universal truth, which it professes. To ignore Christ and Christianity, is practically to reject them as unessential framework.
But Freemasonry goes farther and attacks Catholicism openly. The "Voice" (Chicago), for instance, in an article which begins: "There is nothing in the Catholic religion which is adverse to Masonry", continues,
for the truth is, that masonry embodies that religion in which all men agree. This is as true as that all veritable religion, wherever found, is in substance the same. Neither is it in the power of any man or body of men to make it otherwise. Doctrines and forms of observance conformable to piety, imposed by spiritual overseers, may be as various as the courses of wind; and like the latter may war with each other upon the face of the whole earth, but they are not religion. Bigotry and zeal, the assumptions of the priestcraft, with all its countless inventions to magnify and impress the world . . . are ever the mainsprings of strife, hatred and revenge, which defame and banish religion and its inseparable virtues, and work unspeakable mischief, wherever mankind are found upon the earth. Popery and priestcraft are so allied, that they may be called the same; the truth being, that the former is nothing more nor less than a special case of the latter, being a particular form of a vicious principle, which itself is but the offspring of the conceit of self-sufficiency and the lust of dominion. Nothing which can be named, is more repugnant to the spirit of masonry, nothing to be more carefully guarded against, and this has been always well understood by all skillful masters, and it must in truth be said, that such is the wisdom of the lessons, i.e. of masonic instruction in Lodges, etc. In similar discussions, containing in almost every word a hidden or open attack on Christianity, the truly Masonic magazines and books of all countries abound. Past Grand Deacon J.C. Parkinson, an illustrious English Mason, frankly avows: "The two systems of Romanism and Freemasonry are not only incompatible, but they are radically opposed to each other"  and American Masons say: "We won't make a man a Freemason, until we know that he isn't a Catholic." 
With respect to loyalty towards "lawful government" American Masons pretend that "everywhere Freemasons, individually and collectively, are loyal and active supporters of republican or constitutional governments".  "Our principles are all republican".  "Fidelity and Loyalty, and peace and order, and subordination to lawful authorities are household gods of Freemasonry"  and English Freemasons declare, that, "the loyalty of English Masons is proverbial".  These protestations of English and American Freemasons in general may be deemed sincere, as far as their own countries and actual governments are concerned. Not even the revolutionary Grand Orient of France thinks of overthrowing the actual political order in France, which is in entire conformity with its wishes. The question is, whether Freemasons respect a lawful Government in their own and other countries, when it is not inspired by Masonic principles. In this respect both English and American Freemasons, by their principles and conduct, provoke the condemnatory verdict of enlightened and impartial public opinion. We have already above hinted at the whimsical Article II of the "Old Charges", calculated to encourage rebellion against Governments which are not according to the wishes of Freemasonry. The "Freemason's Chronicle" but faithfully expresses the sentiments of Anglo-American Freemasonry, when it writes:
If we were to assert that under no circumstances had a Mason been found willing to take arms against a bad government, we should only be declaring that, in trying moments, when duty, in the masonic sense, to state means antagonism to the Government, they had failed in the highest and most sacred duty of a citizen. Rebellion in some cases is a sacred duty, and none, but a bigot or a fool, will say, that our countrymen were in the wrong, when they took arms against King James II. Loyalty to freedom in a case of this kind overrides all other considerations, and when to rebel means to be free or to perish, it would be idle to urge that a man must remember obligations which were never intended to rob him of his status of a human being and a citizen. Such language would equally suit every anarchistic movement. The utterances quoted were made in defence of plotting Spanish Masons. Only a page further the same English Masonic magazine writes: "Assuredly Italian Masonry, which has rendered such invaluable service in the regeneration of that magnificent country", "is worthy of the highest praise".  "A Freemason, moved by lofty principles", says the "Voice" (Chicago), "may rightly strike a blow at tyranny and may consort with others to bring about needed relief, in ways that are not ordinarily justifiable. History affords numerous instances of acts which have been justified by subsequent events, and none of us, whether Masons or not, are inclined to condemn the plots hatched between Paul Revere, Dr. J. Warren and others, in the old Green Dragon Tavern, the headquarters of Colonial Freemasonry in New England, because these plots were inspired by lofty purpose and the result not only justified them, but crowned these heroes with glory".  "No Freemason" said Right Rev. H.C. Potter on the centenary of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch, New York, "may honourably bend the knee to any foreign potentate (not even to King Edward VII of England) civil or ecclesiastical (the Pope) or yield allegiance to any alien sovereignty, temporal or spiritual".  From this utterance it is evident that according to Potter no Catholic can be a Mason. In conformity with these principles American and English Freemasons supported the leaders of the revolutionary movement on the European continent. Kossuth, who "had been leader in the rebellion against Austrian tyranny", was enthusiastically received by American Masons, solemnly initiated into Freemasonry at Cincinnati, 21 April, 1852, and presented with a generous gift as a proof "that on the altar of St. John's Lodge the fire of love burnt so brightly, as to flash its light even into the deep recesses and mountain fastnesses of Hungary".  Garibaldi, "the greatest freemason of Italy"  and Mazzini were also encouraged by Anglo-American Freemasons in their revolutionary enterprises.  "The consistent Mason", says the "Voice" (Chicago), "will never be found engaged in conspiracies or plots for the purpose of overturning and subverting a government, based upon the masonic principles of liberty and equal rights".  "But" declares Pike, "with tongue and pen, with all our open and secret influences, with the purse, and if need be, with the sword, we will advance the cause of human progress and labour to enfranchise human thought, to give freedom to the human conscience (above all from papal 'usurpations') and equal rights to the people everywhere. Wherever a nation struggles to gain or regain its freedom, wherever the human mind asserts its independence and the people demand their inalienable rights, there shall go our warmest sympathies". 
Action of state and Church authorities
The action of the Church is summed up in the papal pronouncements against Freemasonry since 1738, the most important of which are:
•Clement XII, Constitution "In Eminenti", 28 April, 1738;These pontifical utterances from first to last are in complete accord, the latter reiterating the earlier with such developments as were called for by the growth of Freemasonry and other secret societies.
Clement XII accurately indicates the principal reasons why Masonic associations from the Catholic, Christian, moral, political, and social points of view, should be condemned. These reasons are:
•The peculiar, "unsectarian" (in truth, anti-Catholic and anti-Christian) naturalistic character of Freemasonry, by which theoretically and practically it undermines the Catholic and Christian faith, first in its members and through them in the rest of society, creating religious indifferentism and contempt for orthodoxy and ecclesiastical authority.Of the other papal edicts only some characteristic utterances need be mentioned. Benedict XIV appeals more urgently to Catholic princes and civil powers to obtain their assistance in the struggle against Freemasonry. Pius VII condemns the secret society of the Carbonari which, if not an offshoot, is "certainly an imitation of the Masonic society" and, as such, already comprised in the condemnation issued against it. Leo XII deplores the fact, that the civil powers had not heeded the earlier papal decrees, and in consequence out of the old Masonic societies even more dangerous sects had sprung. Among them the "Universitarian" is mentioned as most pernicious. "It is to be deemed certain", says the pope, "that these secret societies are linked together by the bond of the same criminal purposes." Gregory XVI similarly declares that the calamities of the age were due principally to the conspiracy of secret societies, and like Leo XII, deplores the religious indifferentism and the false ideas of tolerance propagated by secret societies. Pius IX  characterizes Freemasonry as an insidious, fraudulent and perverse organization injurious both to religion and to society; and condemns anew "this Masonic and other similar societies, which differing only in appearance coalesce constantly and openly or secretly plot against the Church or lawful authority". Leo XIII (1884) says: "There are various sects, which although differing in name, rite, form, and origin, are nevertheless so united by community of purposes and by similarity of their main principles as to be really one with the Masonic sect, which is a kind of centre, whence they all proceed and whither they all return." The ultimate purpose of Freemasonry is "the overthrow of the whole religious, political, and social order based on Christian institutions and the establishment of a new state of things according to their own ideas and based in its principles and laws on pure Naturalism."
In view of these several reasons Catholics since 1738 are, under penalty of excommunication, incurred ipso facto, and reserved to the pope, strictly forbidden to enter or promote in any way Masonic societies. The law now in force  pronounces excommunication upon "those who enter Masonic or Carbonarian or other sects of the same kind, which, openly or secretly, plot against the Church or lawful authority and those who in any way favour these sects or do not denounce their leaders and principal members." Under this head mention must also be made of the "Practical Instruction of the Congregation of the Inquisition, 7 May, 1884  and of the decrees of the Provincial Councils of Baltimore, 1840; New Orleans, 1856; Quebec, 1851, 1868; of the first Council of the English Colonies, 1854; and particularly of the Plenary Councils of Baltimore, 1866 and 1884.  These documents refer mainly to the application of the papal decrees according to the peculiar condition of the respective ecclesiastical provinces. The Third Council of Baltimore, n. 254 sq., states the method of ascertaining whether or not a society is to be regarded as comprised in the papal condemnation of Freemasonry. It reserves the final decision thereon to a commission consisting of all the archbishops of the ecclesiastical provinces represented in the council, and, if they cannot reach a unanimous conclusion, refers to the Holy See.
These papal edicts and censures against Freemasonry have often been the occasion of erroneous and unjust charges. The excommunication was interpreted as an "imprecation" that cursed all Freemasons and doomed them to perdition. In truth an excommunication is simply an ecclesiastical penalty, by which members of the Church should be deterred from acts that are criminal according to ecclesiastical law. The pope and the bishops, therefore, as faithful pastors of Christ's flock, cannot but condemn Freemasonry. They would betray, as Clement XII stated, their most sacred duties, if they did not oppose with all their power the insidious propagation and activity of such societies in Catholic countries or with respect to Catholics in mixed and Protestant countries. Freemasonry systematically promotes religious indifferentism and undermines true, i.e., orthodox Christian and Catholic Faith and life. Freemasonry is essentially Naturalism and hence opposed to all supernaturalism. As to some particular charges of Leo XIII (1884) challenged by Freemasons, e.g., the atheistical character of Freemasonry, it must be remarked, that the pope considers the activity of Masonic and similar societies as a whole, applying to it the term which designates the most of these societies and among the Masonic groups those, which push the so-called "anti-clerical", in reality irreligious and revolutionary, principles of Freemasonry logically to their ultimate consequences and thus, in truth, are, as it were, the advanced outposts and standard-bearers of the whole immense anti-Catholic and anti-papal army in the world-wide spiritual warfare of our age. In this sense also the pope, in accordance with a fundamental biblical and evangelical view developed by St. Augustine in his "De civitate Dei", like the Masonic poet Carducci in his "Hymn to Satan", considers Satan as the supreme spiritual chief of this hostile army. Thus Leo XIII (1884) expressly states:
What we say, must be understood of the Masonic sect in the universal acceptation of the term, as it comprises all kindred and associated societies, but not of their single members. There may be persons amongst these, and not a few, who, although not free from the guilt of having entangled themselves in such associations, yet are neither themselves partners in their criminal acts nor aware of the ultimate object which these associations are endeavouring to attain. Similarly some of the several bodies of the association may perhaps by no means approve of certain extreme conclusions, which they would consistently accept as necessarily following from the general principles common to all, were they not deterred by the vicious character of the conclusions.
"The Masonic federation is to be judged not so much by the acts and things it has accomplished, as by the whole of its principles and purposes."
OTHER NOTES. The following are the abbreviations of masonic terms used in this article: L., Ls., GL, GLs, GO, GOs, Supr. Counc., GBs = Lodge, Lodges, Grand Lodge, Gr. Orient, Supreme Council, Gr. Bodies, etc.
Abbreviations of more frequently quoted books and magazines: K.=Keystone (Philadelphia). V="Voice of Masonry", later on: "Masonic Voice and Review" (Chicago). Chr.="Freemason's Chronicle" (London); A. Q. C.="Ars Quatuor Coronatorum". Transactions (London), the best scientific masonic magazine; Bauh.=Bauhütte; Sign.="Signale für die deutsche Maurerwelt" (Leipzig); Enc., Cycl., Handb.=Encyclopedia, "Allgemeines Handbuch der Freimaurerei" (Universal Manual of Freemasonry) Leipzig. This latter German encyclopedia, in its three editions, quite different from each other, but all of them containing valuable and accurate information, is considered even by English and American masonic criticism (A. Q. C., XI, 1898, 64) as far and away the best masonic encyclopedia ever published.
Key to numbers: In the article above, an Arabic number after the name of an author of several works indicates the work marked with the same number in the following bibliography. Other numbers are to be judged according to the general rules maintained throughout the ENCYCLOPEDIA.
The Freemason's Chronicle (Chr.), of which two volumes have been published every year in London since 1875, reproducing on a large scale also the principle articles published by the best American Masonic journals, offers the best and most authorized general survey of Anglo-American Freemasonry. R. FR. GOULD styles it: "A first class Masonic newspaper" (Chr., 1893, I, 339). The principle Masonic author quoted by us is the late ALBERT PIKE, Grand Commander of the Mother- Supreme Council (Charleston, South Carolina — Washington), acknowledged as the greatest authority in all Masonic matters. According to NORTON "the world-renowned BRO. PIKE (Chr., 1888, II, 179) is generally admitted as the best authority on Masonic jurisprudence in America" (Chr., 1876, II, 243). According to the Grand Orator ROBERT (Indian Territory) he "was the greatest Masonic scholar and writer of this (19th) century, whose name has been a household word wherever Masonry is known" (Chr., 1893, I, 25). According to the New Age, New York, he was "regarded as the foremost figure in the Freemasonry of the world" (1909, II, 456), "the greatest Freemason of the Nineteenth Century", "the Prophet of Freemasonry" (1910, I, 52). "His great work — his Magnum Opus — as he called it", says the New Age (1910, I, 54), "was The Scottish Rite Rituals, as they were revised and spiritualized by him." And his book Morals and Dogma, currently quoted by us, is highly recommended to all Masons searching for serious and sure information, by the celebrated Masonic scholars TEMPLE (Brussels) and SPETH, the late secretary of the learned Quatuor-Coronati Lodge at London (Chr., 1888, I, 389). The circulars (letters) of PIKE, according to the Bulletin of the Supreme Council of Belgium (1888, 211) were "true codes of Masonic Widsom". The well-known English BRO. YARKER, 33, says: "The late A. Pike . . . was undoubtedly a masonic Pope, who kept in leading strings all the Supreme Councils of the world, including the Supreme Councils of England, Ireland, and Scotland, the first of which includes the Prince of Wales (now King Edward VII) Lord Lathom and other Peers, who were in alliance with him and in actual submission" (A. E. WAITE, Devil-Worship in France, 1896, 215). "The German Handbuch (2nd ed., 1879, IV, 138) calls Pike: "The supreme General of the Order", and T.G. Findel, the German historian of Masonry: "the uncrowned king of the High Degrees" (Bauhütte, 1891, 126).
Masonic Publications. Encyclopedias: MACKEY, (1) Encyclopedia of Freemasonry (London, 1908), even this recent edition, according to American authorities, is thoroughly antiquated and scarcely an improvement on that of 1860; IDEM, (2) Lexicon of Freemasonry (London, 1884); OLIVER, Dict. of Symbolic Freemasonry (London, 1853); MACKENZIE, The Royal Masonic Cycl. (1875-7); WOODFORD, Kenning's Cycl. (1878); LENNING, Encycl. der Freimaurerei (1822-1828); IDEM AND HENNE AM RHYN, Allgemeines Handbuch der Fr., 2nd ed. (1863-79); FISCHER, Allg. Handb. d. Fr., 3rd ed. (1900); these editions contain valuable information and answer scientific requirements far more than all the other Masonic cyclopedias (A. Q. C., XI, 64); STEVENS, Cyclopedia of Fraternities (New York, 1907).
Masonic Law and Jurisprudence: The Constitutions of the Freemasons, 1723, 1738; Neues Constitutionen Buch, etc. (1741); DE LA TIERCE, Histoire, Obligations, et. Statuts, etc. (Frankfort, 1742); OLIVER, Masonic Jurisprudence (1859, 1874); CHASE, Digest of Masonic Law (1866); MACKEY, Text Book of Mason. Jurisprudence (1889); VAN GRODDECK, etc., Versuch einer Darstellung des positiven innern Freimaurer. Rechts (1877), the best general survey of Masonic laws of all countries.
Historical: ANDERSON, Hist. of Freemasonry in the first edition and translations of the Book of Constitutions (most unreliable, even after 1717); PRESTON, Illustrations of Masonry (1772), ed. OLIVER (1856), though not reliable in some historical particulars, contains much valuable information of historical and ritualistic character; FORT, Early Hist. and Antiquities of Freemasonry (Philadelphia, 1875); ROWBOTTOM, Origin of Freemasonry as manifested by the Great Pyramid (1880); HOLLAND, Freemasonry from the Great Pyramid historically illustrated (1885); CHAPMAN, The Great Pyramid, etc. (1886); WEISSE, The Obelisk and Freemasonry, according to the discoveries of Belzoni and Gorringe (New York, 1880); KATSCH, Die Entstehung und wahre Endzweck der Freimaurerei (1897); FINDEL, History of Freemasonry (1861-2; 1905), translated and revised by LYON, 1869; influential in spreading more accurate historical notions among Masons; GOULD, Hist. of Freemasonry (3 vols., 1883-1887), now reputed the best historical work on Freemasonry; CHETWODE CRAWLEY, Cæmentaria Hibernica (1895-1900); HUGHAN, Origin of the English Rite of Freemasonry (1884); The Old Charges of British Freemasons (London, 1872; 1895); KLOSS, Gesch. der Fr. in Engl., Irland und Schottland 1685-1784 (1847); BOOS, Gesch. der Freimaurerei (1896); HASCALL, Hist. of Freemasonry (1891); Earl Hist. and Transactions of Masons of New York (1876); McCLENACHAN, Hist. of the Frat. in New York (1888-94); ROSS ROBERTSON, Hist. of Freemasonry in Canada (1899); DRUMMOND, Hist. and Bibliogr. Memoranda and Hist. of Symb. and Royal Arch Masonry in the U. S.; Supplement to GOULD, Hist.(1889); THORY, Annales, etc., du Grand Orient de France (1812); KLOSS, Gesch. der Freimaurerei in Frankr. (1852-3); JOUAST, Hist. du Grand Orient Fr. (1865); LEWIS, Gesch. d. Freimaurerei i. Oesterreich (1861); ABAFI, Gesch. d. Freimaurerei in Oesterreich-Ungarn (1890 sqq.), Principles, Spirit, Symbolism of Freemasonry. Chief Sources:-- The Constitutions of the Freemasons, 1723 and 1738; HUTCHINSON, Spirit of Freemasonry (1775); TOWN, System of Spec. Masonry (1822, New York); OLIVER, Antiquities of Freemasonry (1823); The Star in the East (1827); Signs and Symbols (1830, 1857); PIKE, (1) Morals and Dogma of the A. A. Scot. Rite of Freemasonry 5632 (1882); IDEM, (2) The Book of the Words 5638 (1878); IDEM, (3) The Porch and the Middle Chamber. Book of the Lodge 5632 (1872); IDEM, (4) The Inner Sanctuary (1870-79); KRAUSE, Die drei ältesten Kunsturkunden der Frmrei (1810), still much esteemed, in spite of historical errors, as a critical appreciation of Freemasonry; FINDEL (best German authority), Geist und Form der Fr. (1874, 1898); IDEM, Die Grundsötze der Fr. im Volkerleben (1892); IDEM, Die moderne Weltanschauung und die Fr. (1885); IDEM, Der frmische Gedanke (1898); Bauhütte (1858-1891) and Signale (1895-1905).
Anti-masonic publications: From 1723-1743, English Freemasonry and ANDERSON, History, were derided in many publications (GOULD, 2, 294, 327); against French Freemasonry appeared: L'Ordre des Freemasons trahi 1738 (A. Q. C., IX, 85) and Le Secret des Mopses révélé (1745); Sceau romptu (1745); on the occasion of the French Revolution: LEFRANC, Le voile levé (1792). In the United States the anti-Masonic movement began 1783: CREIGH, Masonry and Antimasonry (1854); STONE, Letters on Masonry and Antimasonry (1832); PENKIN, Downfall of Masonry (1838) Catalogue of anti-Masonic books (Boston, 1862); Sechs Stïmmen über geheime Gesellschaften und Frmrei (1824); ECKERT, Der Frmrorden in seiner wahren Bedeutung (1852); HENGSTENBERG, Die Frmrei und das evang. Pfarramt (1854-56); Civiltà Cattolica since 1866; NEGRONI, Storia passata e presente della setta anticristiana ed antisociale (1876); MENCACCI, Memorie documentate della rivoluzione italiana (1882); RINIERI, Cozetti Masonici (1900-01); ENIGMA, La setta verde (1906-7); GRUBER, Mazzini; Massoneria e Rivoluzione (1901), traces the revolutionary work of Italian Masonry from 1870 till 1900; GAUTRELET, La Franc-maçonnerie et la Révolution (1872); JANET, Les sociétés secrètes et la société 3rd ed., 1880-83), best general survey of the revolutionary work of secret societies in all countries; BROWERS, L'Action de la Franc-m. dans l'hist. moderne (1892); LEROUSE, La Franc-m. sous la 3e République (1886); COPIN-ALBANCELLI, La Franc-m. (1892); GOYAU, La Franc-m. en France (1899); NOURRISSON, Le club des Jacobins (1900); IDEM, Les Jacobins au pouvoir (1904); BIDEGAIN, Le Grand Orient de France (1905); NEUT, La F.-m. soumise au grand jour de la publicité (1866), contains valuable documents on French, Belgian, and German Masonry; MALLIE, La Maçonnerie Belge (1906), documents on the most recent political activity of Belgian Masonry; DE LA FUERTE, Historia de las Sociedades secretas antiquas y modernas en España, etc. (1870-71); BRÜCK, Die geheimen Gesellschaften in Spanien (1881); TIRADO Y ROYAS, La Masonería en España (1892- 3); DE RAFAEL, La Masonería pintada por si misma (1883); PACHTLER, Der stille Krieg gegen Thron und Altar (1876); BEUREN (M. RAICH), Die innere Unwahrheit der Frmrei (1884); GRUBER, (4) Die Frmrei und die öffent. Ordnung (1893); IDEM, (5) Einigungsbestrebungen, etc. (1898); IDEM, (6) Der "giftige Kern", etc. (1899); IDEM, (7) Frmrei und Umsturzbewegung(1901); Streifzüge durch das Reich der Frmrei (1897); EWALD, Loge und Kulturkampf (1899); OSSEG, Der Hammer d. Frmrei, etc. (1875); W. B., Beiträge zur Geschichte der F. In Oesterreich (1868); Die Frmrei in Oesterreich Ungarn (1897). In Poland: MICHALOW, Die geh. Werkstätte der Poln. Erhebung (1830; 1877); ZALESKI, O Masonii w Polsce 1738-1820 (Cracow, 1908); for Anglo-Saxon and French Masonry see PREUSS, A Study in American Freemasonry (St. Louis, 1908), a careful discussion on the basis of the standard works of Mackey and Pike.
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MLA citation. Gruber, Hermann. "Masonry (Freemasonry)." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 4 Feb. 2011 http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09771a.htm.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Bobie Jo M. Bilz. Dedicated to R. Michael Steinmacher, III.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.