Why I Left Freemasonry
Freemasonry vs. Christianity (Part Three)
Author: Charles G. Finney, D.D.
When I was converted to Christ I had belonged to the Masonic Lodge in Adams, New York, about four years. During the struggle of conviction of sin through which I passed, I do not recollect that the question of Freemasonry ever occurred to my mind.
New Views of Lodgism
But soon after my conversion, the evening came for attendance upon the Lodge, and I went. They, of course, were aware that I had become a Christian and the Master called upon me to open the Lodge with prayer. I did so, and poured out my heart to the Lord for blessings upon the Lodge. I observed that it created considerable excitement. The evening passed away, and at the close of the Lodge I was asked to pray again. I did so, and retired much depressed in spirit. I soon found that I was completely converted from Freemasonry to Christ, and that I could have no fellowship with any of the proceedings of the Lodge. Its oaths appeared to me to be monstrously profane and barbarous.
At that time I did not know how much I had been imposed upon by many of the pretensions of Masonry. But, upon reflection and examination, a severe struggle and earnest prayer, I found I could not consistently remain with them. My new life instinctively and irresistibly recoiled from any fellowship with what I now regarded as “the unfruitful works of darkness.”
Quietly Withdrawing Membership
Without consulting anyone, I finally went to the Lodge and requested my discharge. My mind was made up. Withdraw from them I must — with their consent if I might; without this consent if I must. Of this I said nothing; but somehow it came to be known that I had withdrawn.
They therefore planned a Masonic festival and sent a committee to me, requesting me to deliver an oration on that occasion. I quietly declined to do so, informing the committee that I could not conscientiously, in any wise, do what would show my approval of the institution, or sympathy with it. However, for the time, and for years afterward I remained silent, and said nothing against Masonry; though I had then so well considered the matter as to regard my Masonic oaths as utterly null and void. But from that time I never allowed myself to be recognized as a Freemason anywhere.
Beginning a Public Testimony
This was a few years before the revelations of Freemasonry by Captain William Morgan were published. When that book was published, I was asked if it was a true revelation of Freemasonry. I replied that it was so far as I knew anything about it, and that as nearly as I could recollect, it was a verbatim revelation of the first three degrees as I had myself taken them. I frankly acknowledged that that which had been published was a true account of the institution, and a true exposé of their oaths, principles and proceedings. After I had considered it more thoroughly, I was more perfectly convinced that I had no right to adhere to the institution, or appear to do so; and that I was bound, whenever the occasion came, to speak my mind freely in regard to it, and to renounce the horrid oaths that I had taken.
Masonic Oaths Procured by Fraud
I found that in taking these oaths I had been grossly deceived and imposed upon. I had been led to suppose that there were some very important secrets to be communicated to me; but in this I found myself entirely disappointed. Indeed I came to the deliberate conclusion that my oaths had been procured by fraud and misrepresentations; that the institution was in no respect what I had been informed it was; and as I have had the means of examining it more thoroughly, it has become more and more irresistibly plain to me that Masonry is highly dangerous to the State, and in every way injurious to the Church of Christ.
Features of an Anti-Christ
Judging from unquestionable evidences, how can we fail to pronounce Freemasonry an unchristian institution? We can see that its morality is unchristian. Its oath-bound secrecy is unchristian. The administration and taking of its oaths are unchristian and a violation of the positive command of Christ. And Masonic oaths pledge its members to some of the most unlawful and unchristian things:
1. To conceal each other’s crimes.
2. To deliver each other from difficulty, whether right or wrong.
3. To unduly favor Masonry in political action and in business matters.
4. Its members are sworn to retaliate and persecute unto death the violators of Masonic obligations.
5. Freemasonry knows no mercy, and swears its candidates to avenge violations of Masonic obligations unto death.
6. Its oaths are profane, taking the Name of God in vain.
7. The penalties of these oaths are barbarous, even savage.
8. Its teachings are false and profane.
9. Its designs are partial and selfish.
10. Its ceremonies are a mixture of puerility and profanity.
11. Its religion is false.
12. It professes to save men on other conditions than those revealed in the Gospel of Christ.
13. It is wholly an enormous falsehood.
14. It is a swindle, obtaining money from its members under false pretenses.
15. It refuses all examinations, and veils itself under a mantle of oath-bound secrecy.
16. It is virtual conspiracy against both Church and State.
Some Fair Conclusions
No one, therefore, has ever undertaken to defend Freemasonry as judged by the above. Freemasons themselves do not pretend that their institution as revealed in reliable books, and by some of their own testimony, is compatible with Christianity. So it must follow that,
First, the Christian Church should have no fellowship with Freemasonry; and those who adhere intelligently and determinately to such an institution have no right to be in the Christian Church. We pronounce this judgment sorrowfully, but solemnly.
Second, should the question be asked, “What shall be done with the great number of professed Christians who are Freemasons?” I answer, let them have nothing more to do with it. Let it be distinctly pressed upon their consciences that all Masons, above the first two Degrees, have solemnly sworn to conceal each other’s crimes, murder and treason alone excepted; and that all above the sixth Degree have sworn to espouse each other’s cause, and to deliver them from any difficulty, whether right or wrong.
Third, if they have taken those Degrees where they have sworn to persecute unto death those who violate their Masonic obligations, let them be asked whether they really intend to do any such thing. Let them be distinctly asked whether they intend to aid and abet the administration and taking of these oaths. Or if they still intend to countenance the false and hypocritical teachings of Masonry. Or if they mean to countenance the profanity of their ceremonies, and the partiality of their sworn practice. If so, surely they should not be allowed their place in the Christian Church.
Fourth, can a man who has taken, and still adheres to the Master’s oath to conceal any secret crime of a brother of that Degree, murder and treason excepted, be a safe man with whom to entrust any public office? Can he be trusted as a witness, as a juror, or with any office connected with the administration of justice?
Fifth, can a man who has taken, and still adheres to, the oath of the Royal Arch Mason be trusted to public office? He swears to espouse the cause of a companion of this Degree when involved in any difficulty, so far as to extricate him, whether he be right or wrong. He swears to conceal his crimes, MURDER AND TREASON NOT EXCEPTED. Is such a man bound by such an oath to be trusted with office? Ought he to be accepted as a witness or juror when another Freemason is a party in the case? Ought he to be trusted with the office of Judge, or Justice of the Peace, or as a Sheriff, Constable, Marshal or any other office?
What Is Your Answer?
I appeal to your conscience in the sight of God, for an honest answer to these three questions
1. Is any man who is under a most solemn oath to kill all who violate any part of Masonic oaths, a fit person to be at large among men?
2. Ought Freemasons of this stamp to be fellowshipped in the Christian Church?
3. Do you believe that the sins of Masonic oaths are forgiven only to those who repent? And that we do not repent of those sins to which we still adhere? And that adherence makes us also partaker of other men’s sins?
“The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from ALL sin.” “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.”
(I John 1:17; 3:3)
(Reprinted from “Memoirs” of President Finney, formerly of Oberlin College.)
Copied from a tract published by National Christian Association — publishers since 1868 of literature exposing secret societies.
Among those noble men who have denounced Freemasonry and openly taken a stand against it are:
John Wesley, Alexander Campbell, Daniel Webster, Wendell Phillips, Chief Justice Charles Marshall, Charles Sumner, John Hancock, Horace Greeley, Pastor Dwight L. Moody, Pastor R. A. Torrey, Timothy Dwight, Evangelist Charles G. Finney, Charles Blanchard, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, John Madison, Amos Wells, Simon Peter Long, James M. Gray, Evangelist Billy Sunday, Dr. John R. Rice and Ulysses S. Grant.
The man of God, D.L. Moody wrote:
“I do not see how any Christian, most of all a Christian minister, can go into these secret lodges with unbelievers. They say they can have more influence for good, but I say that they can have more influence for good by staying out of them and reproving their evil deeds. You can never reform anything by unequally yoking yourself to ungodly men.
True reformers separate themselves from the world. But, some say to me, if you talk that way you will drive all the members of secret societies out of your meetings and out of your churches. But what if I did? Better men will take their places.
Give them the truth anyway, and if they would rather leave their churches than their lodges, the sooner they get out of their churches the better. I would rather have ten members who are separated from the world than a thousand such members! Come out from the lodge. Better one with God than a thousand without Him! We must walk with God, and if only one or two go with us, it is all right. Do not let down the standard to suit men who love their secret lodges or have some darling sin they will not give up!”
In The Character, Claims and Practical Workings of Freemasonry, Finney wrote:
“We are now prepared to consider the question of the relation of Freemasonry to the Church of Christ. On this question I remark:
God holds the church and every branch of it, responsible for its opinion and action in accordance with the best light, which, in his providence, is afforded them. . . If any particular branch of the church has better means of information and therefore more light on moral questions, than another branch, its responsibility is greater, in proportion to its greater means of information. Such a branch of the church is bound to take a higher and more advanced position in Christian life and duty, to bear a fuller and lighter testimony against every form of iniquity, than that required by less favored and less informed branches of the church. They are not to wait till other branches of the church have received their light, before they bear a testimony and pursue a course in accordance with their own degree of information.
While Masonry was a secret, the church had no light, and no responsibility respecting it. Although individual members of the church were Freemasons, as a body, she knew nothing of Masonry; therefore she could say nothing. . .
But the state of the case is now greatly changed. Freemasonry is now revealed. It is no longer a secret to any who wish to be informed….. Now, since these revelations are made, and both the church and the world are aware of what Masonry really is, God demands, and the world has a right to expect, that the church will take due action and bear a truthful testimony in respect to this institution. She can not now innocently hold her peace. The light has come. Fidelity to God, and to the souls of men, require that the church, which is the light of the world, should speak out, and should take such action as will plainly reveal her views of the compatibility or incompatibility of Freemasonry with the Christian religion. As God’s witnesses, as the pillar and ground of the truth, the church is bound to give the trumpet no uncertain sound, upon this question, that all men may know, whether, in her judgment, an intelligent embracing and determinate adhering to Freemasonry are compatible with a truthful profession of religion.
Every local branch of the Church of Christ is bound to examine this subject, and pronounce upon this institution, according to the best light they can get. God does not allow individuals, or churches, to withhold action, and the expression of their opinion, until other churches are as enlightened as themselves. We are bound to act up to our own light, and to go as far in advance of others as we have better means of information than they. We have no right to say to God that we will act according to our own convictions, when others become so enlightened that our action will be popular and meet their approval.
Again: Those individuals and churches, who have had the best means of information, owe it to other branches of the church, and to the whole world, to take action and to pronounce upon the unchristian character of Freemasonry, as the most influential means within their reach of arousing the whole church and the world to an examination of the character and claims of Freemasonry. If churches who are known to have examined the subject withhold their testimony; if they continue to receive persistent and intelligent Freemasons; if they leave the public to infer that they see nothing in Freemasonry inconsistent with a creditable profession of the Christian religion, it will justly be inferred by other branches of the church, and by the world, that there is nothing in it so bad, so dangerous and unchristian as to call for their examination, action, or testimony. Before the publishing of Morgan’s book, the Baptist denomination, especially, in that part of the country, had been greatly carried away by Freemasonry. A large proportion of its eldership and membership were Freemasons. A considerable number of ministers and members of other branches of the Christian Church had also fallen into the snare.
The murder of Wm. Morgan, and the publication of Masonry consequent thereupon in the books I have named, broke upon the church – fast asleep on this subject – like a clap of thunder from a clear sky. The facts were such, the revelations were so clear, that the Baptist denomination backed down, and took the lead in renouncing and denouncing the institution. Their elders and associated churches, almost universally, passed resolutions disfellowshipping adhering Masons. The denomination, to a considerable extent, took the same course.
Throughout the Northern States, at that time, I believe it was almost universally conceded that persistent Freemasons, who continued to adhere and co-operate with them, ought not to be admitted to Christian churches. Now it is worthy of all consideration and remembrance, that God set the seal of His approbation upon the action taken by those churches at that time, by pouring out His Spirit upon them. Great revivals immediately followed over that whole region. . .
And should the question be asked, ‘What shall be done with the great number of professed Christians who are Freemasons?’ I answer, let them have no more to do with it. Again, let Christian men labor with them, plead with them, and endeavor to make them see it to be their duty to abandon it… Let them be distinctly asked whether they intend still to aid and abet the administration and taking of these oaths, if they still intend to countenance the false and hypocritical teachings of Masonry, if they mean to countenance the profanity of their ceremonies, and practice the partiality they have sworn to practice. If so, surely they should not be allowed their places in the church.”