What Is The Future Reward Of The Mason?
Norman E. Fultz
Freemasonry is not "just a civic club" like Kiwanis or Lions. It is a fraternal order with a very large and complex structure. When Life Magazine published "The U.S. Masons, A Pictorial Essay in Color," the centerfold was an elaborate pictographic representation of "The Structure of Freemasonry." The accompanying article claimed that "One out of every 12 adult American males - some four million of them - are Masons, subscribing to the Masonic ideals of morality and brotherhood . . . . and the membership of U.S. Masons today is twice that of all the rest of the world. They have enlarged their circle by bringing wives, sons and daughters into allied organizations."(1) The Scottish Rite in Kansas City informed me that they did not have figures readily available on the present number of Masons, but that Masonry has likely grown considerably since the publication of the article.
Even a casual reading of Masonic materials will show one that the religion of Freemasonry holds before its members the hope of a future reward. It would seem that only Masons who are members of the Lord's church will attempt a serious denial of this fact. They know that if such is a fact, it is plainly contradictory to New Testament teaching that salvation is only in Christ (Acts 4:12; 2 Tim. 2:10), not in Masonry. We shall show from Masonic works that Masonry does offer the promise of a future reward, namely eternal life.
Five principles are necessitated by the idea of a future reward: (1) Something beyond the grave that could be considered a reward; (2) Man's continuing beyond the grave to receive the reward; (3) Someone beyond the grave who can reward man; (4) Some grounds for making such a reward; and (5) A place where the reward can be enjoyed. Masonic teaching recognizes all these principles. They speak of "deliverance and joy",(2) "a glorified state" and "what happiness, what delight, what increasing joy shall we reap together in the mansions of the blessed!"(3) They expect to "surrender the working tools of a busy life to the Grand Architect"(4) before whom they have sought to "practice thy precepts"(5) in a well-spent Masonic life, "thereby fitting our bodies as living stones for that spiritual building, that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."(6) The Royal Arch Degree (fourth of York Rite) is itself "a symbolic representation of the state after death."(7)
Masonic Teaching Extends Hope Of Salvation In The Lodge
In my copy of Morals and Dogma, on the front fly leaf is an inscription to C. Brewer Ziegler, "Trusting same will enlighten to a higher Education and strengthen in our common struggle forward to that undiscovered country" (sic). Mackey tells us what Masons mean by the "undiscovered" or "foreign country." He says, "Heaven, the future life, the higher state of existence after death, is the Joreign country in which the Master Mason is to enter, and there he is to receive his wages in the reception of that truth which can be imparted only in that better land."(8)
The monitors and manuals are easily accessible to the Blue Lodge degrees and, very early in his Masonic education, the Mason will be exposed to their numerous references to a future reward.
In Kentucky Monitor, its author, Henry Pirtle, disparages the idea that one becomes a Mason for economic reasons. He says the idea is "unMasonic" and "We did not join Masonry from monetary motives. What, in fact, are the true wages of a Master Mason? They are the rewards of a well-spent life, a glorious immortality, having nothing to do with wages either in material corn, wine, and oil, or in coin of the realm, paid to an operative stonemason, whether resident or traveling. The `foreign countries' are that `undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns' to support either himself or his family. The cardinal doctrine of Masonry is that the soul of man is immortal and Masonry teaches virtue as the way of living a life to attain that end - `That I may receive Master's wages.' "(9) How much clearer statement could one wish in declaring the hope of Masonry? Masons, who claim to be "Son of Light"(10) have a "Mediator or Redeemer", Hiram,(11) whom they place on par with Jesus. But Jesus is the one "who brought life and immortality to light" and that "through the gospel" (2 Tim. 1:10). Christians, not Masons, are "children of light" (1 Thess. 5:5).
The Entered Apprentice (1st degree) is told when presented with his Lambskin or white leather apron, "It may be that, in years to come, upon your head shall rest the laurel wreaths of victory; pendant from your breast may hang jewels fit to grace the diadem of an eastern potentate; yea, more than these . . . . but never again by mortal hands, never again until your enfranchised spirit shall have passed upward and inward through the gates of pearl, shall any honor so distinguished, so emblematic of purity and all perfection, be bestowed upon you as this, which I now confer."(12) He is later told, "By the Lambskin, therefore the Mason is reminded of that purity of life and conduct which is essential to his gaining admission to the Celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides."(13) He is "taught to make use of it (the gavel, nf) for the more noble and glorious purpose of divesting our hearts and consciences of all the vices and superfluities of life, thereby fitting our minds, as living stones, for that spiritual building, that house `not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.'"(14) Yet later he is told, "THE COVERING OF A LODGE is no less than the clouded canopy or starry-decked heaven, where all good Masons hope at last to arrive . . . ."(15) Should the newly initiated Mason begin to get the idea from all this that he has hope of salvation through the Lodge? If not, why not?
The Fellowcraft (2nd degree) is taught, "The Speculative Mason, therefore, is a moral builder for eternity, fitting immortal nature for that spiritual building which shall exist when earth's proudest monumental piles shall have crumbled in dust, and the glory and greatness of earth shall have been forgotten."(16)
The Master Mason (3rd degree) is encouraged "to look forward to a blessed immortality; and we doubt not that on the glorious morn of
the resurrection our bodies will rise and become as incorruptible as our souls," and "Then let us imitate our G.M.H.A. (Grand Master
Hiram Abiff, nf) in all his varied perfection . . . . that, like him, we may welcome the grim tyrant Death, and receive him as a kind
messenger sent by our Supreme Grand Master to translate us from this imperfect to that all perfect, glorious, and celestial Lodge above,
where the Great Architect of the Universe presides, forever reigns."(17) In the prayer at the closing of the lodge on Master Mason degree
addressed to the "Supreme Architect of the Universe" it says, "May we so practice thy precepts, that we may finally obtain thy promises,
and find an entrance through the gates into the temple and city of our God."(18)
In Standard Monitor (for the State of N.Y.), the Master Mason is told, "Let all the energies of our souls and the perfection of our minds be employed in attaining the approbation of the Grand Master on high, so that when we come to die, with joy we may hail the summons of the Grand Warden above to repair from our labor here on earth to eternal refreshment in the paradise of God . . . . He may be pleased to pronounce us upright men and Masons, fitly prepared, as living stones, for that spiritual building, that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (p. 125).
The Masonic Funeral Rites Extend Hope Of Salvation
Space will not permit lengthy quotations from the monitors on "funeral services," and while there might be some variation from one monitor to another, it is evident that from the opening prayer to the final "so mote it be" the objective of that ceremony is to declare the Masonic hope to Masonic brethren of the deceased and to his sorrowing loved ones. In his opening prayer, the Master says, "May we realize that Thine All-seeing Eye is upon us, and be influenced by the spirit of truth and love to perfect obedience, that we may enjoy Thy divine approbation here below. And when our toils on earth shall have ended, may we be raised to the enjoyment of fadeless light and immortal life in that kingdom where faith and hope shall end, and love and joy prevail through eternal ages." He charges his fellow Masons to such a life that when they come to die "it may be given unto each of us to `eat of the hidden manna,' and to receive the `white stone with a new name' that will insure perpetual and unspeakable happiness at His right hand."
The Lambskin, which has been laid upon the coffin and which is to be deposited into the grave is declared to be "an emblem of innocence and the badge of a Mason . . . . more ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle, more honorable than the Star and Garter, when worthily worn."
The sprig of evergreen (each Mason in the service is to wear one on the left lapel of his dark suit) is held by the Master who says, "This evergreen . . . is an emblem of our faith in the immortality of the soul . . . for by this emblem we are admonished that, like our brother, whose remains lie before us, we shall soon be clothed with the habiliments of death and deposited in the silent tomb, yet, through our belief in the mercy of God, we may confidently hope that our souls will bloom in eternal spring." After the Master deposits his, "The brethren also advance and drop the sprig of evergreen into the grave."
The immediate relatives and friends are addressed with expressions of sorrow for the death, but then, "we can turn our eyes to that bright land - to the shores that they inhabit; there is no mirage, no delusion there; that land exists; and those angelic strains of music, the voices of our loved ones, are whispered in our ear when no one else is by . . . . Then be comforted, for your friend (father, husband), our brother is not dead, but lives in that blissful world to which we are all hastening."
Then as to the deceased, "So, in the bright morning of the world's resurrection your mortal frame, now laid in the dust, shall again spring into newness of life, and expand in immortal beauty in realms beyond the skies. Until then, my brother - until then, farewell!" And the final prayer is that "we may be received into Thine everlasting kingdom, and there join in union with our friend, and enjoy that unintci rupted and unceasing felicity which is allotted to the souls of just men made perfect. Amen." (Quotations in this section are from Kentucky Monitor, "Funeral Services", pp. 171-181).
Now, kind reader, Masonry either offers heaven as a reward for a well-spent Masonic life or it does not. If it does not, then contrary to all its preachments on love and charity, it is void of real heart; for it deceives its members and their loved ones with its eloquent promises. It becomes a blind leader of the blind and shall bring its adherents to death without hope. If it does give eternal life, then Christianity is a sham and a fraud for the religion of Christ claims to be the only religion and His church the only institution wherein is salvation. (Please read Acts 4:11-12; 2:47; 2 Tim. 2:19.) Both claims, that of Masonry and that of Christianity, cannot be true. Which will you accept? The Christian who is a member of the lodge must make a choice. We pray it shall be a choice for Christ and his church.
1. Life Magazine, October 8, 1956.
2. Masonic Manual of Alabama, p. 145, quoted by A.G. Hobbs in What About Masonry?, pp. 5-6.
3. Sermons In Which Are Explained And Enforced The Religious, Moral And Political Virtues of Freemasonry, Rev. Jethro Inwood, B.A.; Lodgeton, Ky., 1856; p. 100, note 5.
4. Kentucky Monitor, p. x.
5. Ibid, p. 224
6. Look To The East, Ralph P. Lester, p. 39.
7. Book Of The Chapter, Albert G. Mackey; 1858; p. 94. 8.
8. Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Albert G. Mackey, Vol. I, p. 269.
9. Kentucky Monitor, p. xiii.
10. Ibid., p. xiv.
11. Ibid., p. xv.
12. Ibid., p. 13.
13. Ibid., p. 32.
14. Ibid., p. 18.
15. Ibid., p. 42.
16. Ibid., pp. 73-74.
17. Ibid., p. 152.
Truth Magazine XXIV: 45, pp. 724-726