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 ". 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. In the text of 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. 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.
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The unsectarian character of Masonry is also implied in the era chosen on the title page: "In the year of Masonry " and in the "History". As to the "History" Anderson himself remarks in the preface : 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. Moral and religious definitions, axioms and propositions have as regular and certain dependence upon each other as any in physics or mathematics.
According to the German Grand Lodges, Christ is only "the wise and virtuous pure man " par excellence , the principal model and teacher of "Humanity".
John, in which He denied that He was God. 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 and 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, , when the Grand Orient of France erased the paragraph, introduced in 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.
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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. But in truth all Masonry is full of ambiguity. The texts of and 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. 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.
The English Grand Lodge, it is true , in its quarterly communication of 6 March,  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. 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, , proclaimed, that "individual members may believe in many gods, if their conscience and judgment so dictate". 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, , 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 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. 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. Propagation and evolution of Masonry The members of the Grand Lodge formed in by the union of four old lodges, were till few in number and inferior in quality. The entrance of several members of the Royal Society and of the nobility changed the situation.
Since it has spread over Europe. In this situation Freemasonry with its vagueness and elasticity, seemed to many an excellent remedy.
To meet the needs of different countries and classes of society , the original system underwent more or less profound modifications. In , contrary to Gould , only one simple ceremony of admission or one degree seems to have been in use ; in two appear as recognized by the Grand Lodge of England : "Entered Apprentice" and "Fellow Craft or Master". The three degree system, first practised about , became universal and official only after A fourth, the "Royal Arch degree  in use at least since , is first mentioned in , and though extraneous to the system of pure and ancient Masonry  is most characteristic of the later Anglo-Saxon Masonry.
The members of this Grand Lodge are known by the designation of "Ancient Masons". They are also called "York Masons" with reference, not to the ephemeral Grand Lodge of all England in York , mentioned in and revived in , but to the pretended first Grand Lodge of England assembled in at York. In its religious spirit Anglo-Saxon Masonry after undoubtedly retrograded towards biblical Christian orthodoxy. 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 It was further decreed "there shall be the most perfect unity of obligation of discipline, or working.
Its decree was complied with, to a certain extent, in the United States where Masonry, first introduced about , followed in general the stages of Masonic evolution in the mother country. The prevailing opinion at present is, that from time immemorial, i. Several lodges were chartered by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. After , especially during the War of Independence, , most of the lodges passed over to the "Ancients". The union of the two systems in England was followed by a similar union in America.
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The actual form of the American rite since then practised is chiefly due to Webb , and to Cross 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.
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 and inserted by Tierce into his first French edition of the "Book of Constitutions" as an "oration of the Grand Master", was epoch-making. 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 , 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 that he had never been a Mason. In the lodges of France and other countries  the admission of women to lodge meetings occasioned a scandalous immorality.
In this revolutionary spirit was brought into Germany by Weisshaupt through a conspiratory system, which soon spread throughout the country. Very few of the members, however, were initiated into the higher degrees. The principal German reformers, L. Fessler, tried to restore the original simplicity and purity. The Grand Lodges of Frankfort-on-the-Main and Darmstadt practice an eclectic system on the basis of the English ritual.
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. 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. 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" Every regular Grand Lodge or Supreme Council in the Scottish, or Grand Orient in the mixed system, constitutes a supreme independent body with legislative, judicial, and executive powers.
It is composed of the lodges or inferior bodies of its jurisdiction or of their representatives regularly assembled and the grand officers whom they elect. A duly constituted lodge exercises the same powers, but in a more restricted sphere. The master and the wardens are usually aided by two deacons and two stewards for the ceremonial and convivial work and by a treasurer and a secretary. Many lodges have a Chaplain for religious ceremonies and addresses. As the expenses of the members are heavy, only wealthy persons can afford to join the fraternity.
The number of candidates is further restricted by prescriptions regarding their moral , intellectual, social, and physical qualifications, and by a regulation which requires unanimity of votes in secret balloting for their admission. Thus, contrary to its pretended universality, Freemasonry appears to be a most exclusive society , the more so as it is a secret society , closed off from the profane world of common mortals.
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. Then there is the great class who join it out of curiosity or perhaps, because somebody in a position above them is a mason.
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