The Church And The Lodge
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“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”
The Bible contains a complete rule for the whole life of man. It tells a man how he should conduct himself with reference to God, to the Lord Jesus, to the Holy Spirit, to the Word which God has given, and to the church which he has established. It directs him how he should treat his wife, and care for his children; how much he should pay his hired man, and when he should pay him. It teaches the hired man how he should conduct himself with reference to his employer. It tells men how to loan money and how to collect debts as well as how to worship. It teaches a man what kind of a citizen he should be, how he ought to vote, if he is in a self-governing country. If he is a magistrate, it directs him how he ought to exercise authority, and says that God will call him to account for the manner in which he executes his office. We are apt to narrow down the teachings of the Bible and the business of the church, and to suppose that they have to do chiefly with the work of the Sabbath, and that they have little or nothing to do with our pleasures, our business, or our political and our industrial relations; but the testimony of the Word of God is that this Book is given by inspiration of God, and that it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work,” not simply to some good works. Men act as if God had never told them how to live and the result is that our churches are being flooded out with vice and crime. The reason we have trouble of all kinds in the world is simply because men have either wholly neglected this Word, or because they have chosen certain portions of it, and have pushed whole continents of revealed truth out of sight.
The church, the minister, the Christian, is a watchman on the walls, and it is his business to see the threatening enemy when his spear-points come over the top of the wall, that the gates may be shut, the walls manned, the men armed, and women and children protected. It is the business of the watchman to look out, not for pleasant but for injurious things, and to point them out. If you go into a dark room filled with vermin, you cannot see anything, but if you light a match, you see some of those creatures; if you light a lamp, you see more; and if you turn on an electric light it reveals the good and the evil in sharp contrast. “That which doth make manifest is light,” and the Christian is the light of the world. The church establishes the moral standard for men who never go near it, and for communities who reject it.
In these days the work of rescuing the individual sinner is very popular, but it is not popular to point out and put down the evil that destroys him because there are material interests involved. Men are trying to save a few wrecks here and there while thousands go down and the wreckers keep plying their trade. It is better to reform or hang the wreckers than to save one wreck. Men tell me plainly that the Sunday newspaper is here to stay, and that the whisky trade will never be abolished. I was discussing the whisky question in a Missouri stage-coach, and the driver said, ” You can never down the whisky business when there is an eight cent profit in a ten cent drink.” He wasn’t a Christian, and I didn’t wonder, but when a man who believes that God led the Israelites across the Red Sea, and across the Jordan, that God caused the walls of Jericho to fall, I do not like to hear such a man say that any iniquity in this world is here to stay, because if God is here to stay, he will have a clean world for his people to live in; he has promised that even the heathen should be given to Jesus Christ for his possession, and he doesn’t call to a few, but to the world, when he says, “Look to me and be ye saved.” The Bible is positive and negative; it requires and forbids; it points out evils and prescribes the remedies. Some say that the way to destroy evil is to proclaim the good. God does not do this. It is necessary both to root out the evil and to establish the good. God commands us not to profane his name, not to steal or kill or commit adultery, and then gives positive commands to honor our fathers and mothers, to remember the Sabbath, and to love God and man. No farmer is fool enough to try to kill weeds by planting good corn. He relies upon the plow and the hoe.
It is the duty of the church to point out the evil not only of some sin, but of all sin. Yet in every age there are evils which men instinctively avoid mentioning. The wrong is so widespread, so deep-rooted, so powerful, that the minister naturally passes it by to deal with some comparative trifle. When slavery was the law of the land, the church did not even name it. Yet it included theft, adultery, murder, and all other crimes. As John Wesley said, it was the sum of all villainies.
In our day no one objects to good, pious people saving drunkards. Liquor men like to have it done. They have no use for a drunkard. The besotted, blear-eyed, ragged victim of the trade is a discredit. But they don’t want their trade meddled with. They want the privilege of making drunkards. Give them this and they are glad to have you take the “finished product” off their hands.
At the present time, in a Christian church, in a Christian newspaper, or on a public platform, almost never will you find a secret society mentioned. Many do not like to say so, and yet the secret society system is one of the strongest factors for good or evil in our country. There are seven thousand five hundred Masons in this country, and as many Odd Fellows. The majority of these men are not in Christian churches; they tell you plainly that they don’t care for the church. The secret society system of the United States, which puts up such temples as there are in Boston and Philadelphia and New York, which puts up its lodges in every town, and seeks to attach to itself every young mechanic and merchant and lawyer, and tells him that, if he joins a secret society, he will be able to serve his country better, or will be helped in his industrial pursuits, or receive a life insurance — such an organization is a tremendous power for good or evil, and the church of Christ should find out which it is, and then should see that every young man may be warned if it is evil, and urged to join it if it is good. There are lodges for almost every purpose under heaven. They are drawing in young men by hundreds of thousands, yet the pulpits, the religious press, and the platform is, in general, as silent as the grave. Now we are told to examine (1. Thess. 5:21), and to inform men (Matt. 5:14).
I submit to you a few doctrines which determine absolutely the character of these secret lodges. They all require members to disregard the example of Christ, and his example is just as binding as his Word. Assume that the Good Templars are an excellent organization for promoting temperance, or that the Free Masons promote a faith in God, hope in immortality, and charity to all mankind. What right then has a Christian man to hide that work from his wife and children? Christ told his disciples to proclaim on the house tops what he had told them in private (Matt. 10:26, 27). Now a man is initiated into a lodge. When he comes home his wife says, “Where have you been to-night?” “I have been initiated.” “I didn’t know you were going to join. Tell me about it.” “I am not permitted to tell you.” “Was there anything wicked?” “No.” “Anything ridiculous? ” “Nothing at all, my dear, it was very solemn.” “Well, then, why can’t you tell me about it, if there is nothing wicked in it, and nothing ridiculous?” He is compelled to say, “I have obligated myself not to.” The question as to whether it is good or bad may be a matter of taste. Jesus Christ knew how to promote the temperance cause, faith in God, the hope of immortality, and charity toward all men; the Saviour that turned his head on the cross to say to John, “Take care of my mother,” and said to the mother, “John will look after you,” is not unmindful of the needs of the wife after her husband has been taken from her and she is left to provide for herself. Jesus knew how to promote friendship and love and liberty, and you and I, if we are Christians, are bound to do Christ’s work in Christ’s way. Christ said, when asked as to his teachings, that he spoke openly to the world in the synagogue and in the temple, and that in secret he said nothing. No man can be a secret society man, and follow the example of Jesus Christ.
But not only does a lodge man necessarily disregard the example of Christ, but he is compelled to violate his express command. He said to the disciples, “I am the light of the world,” and” Ye are the light of the world”; you are to show mankind the difference between right and wrong. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Suppose that every secret lodge is doing good; put in the Jesuits, the Ku Klux Klan, the Knights of the Golden Ring, the Whisky Ring, and assume they are all doing good. Are men in secret societies letting the good which they do shine out? They go into the second or third stories, curtain the doors, and let no one come in unless he will obligate himself not to tell those outside what they do inside. Christ says, “Let your light shine,” and I go off and join a Masons’ or an Odd Fellows’ lodge. I meet my neighbor the next day, and tell him that it is a good organization. He asks me what it is for. “To promote faith in God, the hope of immortality, and charity to all mankind; we are trying to build up the temperance cause.” ” What do you do?” “Go and pay our secretary twenty-five dollars to be initiated, and you can find out.” Unless he will do that, he can know nothing of the good we are doing.
Again, in these organizations you have good men and evil men together. I had a very pious and worthy elder in a church in which I was preaching, who was an Odd Fellow. I said to him one day, ” How many Christians are there in your lodge? ” He said, “I and Brother Woods.” “How many members?” “About a hundred.” Don’t you feel rather unequally yoked? Can you and Brother Woods pull against so many men? When they had that ball last winter, did you want it?” “No.” “Why did they have it?” “Because we were outvoted.” You may join any lodge you please and you will find anywhere from seventy-five to eighty per cent are not professing Christians. In many towns I know of not one prayer-meeting man connected with the Mason lodge. Here is a Christian man, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and desiring to be a man separated unto God and his service, and yet he joins with men who are unbelievers and some of whom are profane, and they are all brethren together. When a man enters a lodge, he takes his chances, he yokes himself with unbelieving men. A Christian ought not to do that (II Cor. 6:14). The church is God’s light to shine out in the world, that men may see the ditch before they fall into it, that they may see the trap before the foot is fast.
Once more, the morality taught in these organizations is unchristian and wicked. Take for example the Masonic oath, which binds the Mason not to wrong or defraud a Mason, knowing him to be such, or the other clause which binds the Mason not to have illicit carnal intercourse with the wife, mother, sister, or daughter of a Master Mason, knowing them to be such.” I was once lecturing in a university, and met a number of the ladies, among them the lady principal. She said, “I know nothing about this subject, but I have been thankful many times that my brother was a Mason. I have been self-supporting from my girlhood, and, when I left home, my brother gave me a masonic token, and told me to wear it when I was alone. Three times I have been approached by men, apparently with evil intent, and three times they have turned away at that sign.” The unthinking man says, “Isn’t that splendid?” That is as splendid as the devil. The devil is satisfied with a morality of that kind. God says, “Thou shalt not steal.” Jesus Christ says, “If you look lustfully, you are an adulterer; you must not only abstain from outward crime, but you must have a clean heart, a clean eye.” Masonry says, “Don’t steal from a Mason, don’t commit adultery with the relative of a Mason.” A church deacon once said to me, “Is that so very bad?” “How old is that boy who put out your horse?” I asked. “Twelve years.” I said, “If you were to say to that lad, when he was starting for the city. You must not take any watches from the store on the right hand side of the street,’ what would he understand about the watches on the left side?” “Why,” he said, “I suppose he would understand that I wouldn’t be very much offended if he took some of the watches from the left side.” An organization that binds a man to a partial morality speaks against Jesus Christ and imperils the moral standards of the community.
The charities of these orders are utterly unchristian. They have not the first inkling of Jesus Christ in them. Their plan is to keep out anyone who is likely to need anything. Anyone who wants to join must be a good and true man, sound in mind, and with sufficient means for the support of his family, and for the support of the order. They shut out the maimed and the halt, the women and the children, and pick out the able-bodied men, and propose to give charity to those who have paid, and the friends of those who have paid, and nobody else; this is called charity. It is not charity, it is absolute selfishness.
Once more, these organizations put the plan of salvation aside, and in its place put mere moral teachings, enforced by material symboIs. This whole system is a plan to do away with the atonement of Jesus Christ, and to lead the poor sinner to trust man in the awful day of judgment, with no hope except what his miserable, paltry righteousness has been able to get for himself. We have members of these lodges by the million, learning to believe that they can be saved without the blood, by practicing temperance, or friendship, and then they teach such morality as is involved in those obligations of the Master Mason. Good works are necessary, but are not sufficient.
These lodges not only exclude Jesus Christ by inference, they exclude him by form. In Masonic rituals, they choose readings which do not contain the name of Christ at all. They have two passages which contain the name of Jesus Christ, one of them II Thessalonians, 3:6. Here the name Lord Jesus Christ occurs twice, but if you will take the Masonic Book, you will find that whole name deliberately stricken out, that name which is above every name, and which is the only hope of the world. When you ask the reason, they say that a great many conscientious members do not believe in Jesus Christ, and it would offend them. So that a man who goes into a Masonic lodge not only leaves his wife and children at the door, but he leaves his Saviour there, too.
Why does not the church take this matter up, and warn young men who by the thousands are being ensnared every year? What does God care for our religion if it does not lead us to protest against these evils? If we will not open our mouths to do away with evil and bring in the good, ought not the church to die? God calls the Christian church to a life of faith, and a great many of us are looking around and wondering what will happen, and how God will manage to have things turn out right. But the thunderbolts in his fight hand are plenty in number. When he sees fit to wipe out iniquity, he will do it, and if we do not do our part in fighting against evil, the judgment, when it comes, will take some of our blood with it. God make us faithful.