Some men who have joined the Masonic Lodge are difficult to understand. Lorenzo Dow is one of these. Lorenzo Dow was solidly behind the Masonic belief system.1 He joined the Freemasons in 1824.2 Some of the things he wrote, sound like Universalism,3 but he wasn't really theologically a universalist. Most of the people he preached to didn't understand where he was coming from either.
Lorenzo Dow was the catalyst that caused Hugh Bourne and a friend William Cloves to establish the Primitive Methodists in 1811.
Several denominations experienced primitive movements, for instance the Primitive Baptists.
The idea of Primitivism goes back to Rosseau and Diderot's writings. (Both were Masons.) There are parallels in Freud's Civilization and its Discontent and Spengler's Man & Technics.
Nature is the norm. The world goes in cycles. And we are returning, that is recycling back into another golden age. The Mason Thomas Paine encouraged this type of thinking. "We have it in our power to begin the world over again."4 Indeed, Billington in his scholarly work Fire in the Minds of Men, shows how the word revolution was coined by the occultic secret societies because they believed that an upheaval would precede a revolving back to the conditions of an ancient golden age.
Lorenzo Dow was sincere in bringing people to Christ—albeit his understanding of Christ, which many considered heresy. He travelled almost non-stop for his lifetime, and likely preached to more people in his life than anyone else in that time.5
He was called crazy by many. Some called him a mystic.6 He was very keen on prophecy, and preached it a lot. He preached often on Paradise and Hell.
During his non-stop travelling, Lorenzo Dow was a constant visitor to Masonic Lodges, to their chapters, and their commanderies,7 yet his memoirs mention nothing about such an important part of his life. There is not the slightest hint of involvement with the Masons, and in his memoirs there is but an offhand remark on page 122 about a lodge meeting going on above him in a Tavern he was staying at while he was trying to sleep. Why is he silent about his involvement?
The Primitive Methodist Church that was set up, had 12 permanent members who ruled. Later in 1846, 24 guardian representatives were selected and legally invested with the Primitive Methodist Church's property. It wasn't until the next century that democratic procedures began.
What was the Primitive Methodist Church like when Russell's colpateurs found them? Apparently, the Masonic influence was strong. John Whittaker, a Primitive Methodist minister exposes the Masonic influence when he describes his denomination, "The desire for latitudinarianism has wrought untold mischief in our Church. Theosophy, Swedenborianism, Unitarianism and even Agnosticism are rampant to-day within our borders. It is time the Church was purged."8
In England, Charles T. Russell's preachers found the Primitive Methodists and Free Methodists very friendly. Bro. J.B. Adamson in a letter reprinted in the WT in 1881 states "Found the Free Methodists very fair. The treatment better than I got anywhere else. Gave the pamphlet to sixteen preachers and one hundred of the most intelligent of the church membership."9 It's possible some of the Primitive Methodists heard of the
Watchtower movement in the Masonic Hall or at some Masonic function. The 1991 Yearbook (for the Jehovah's Witnesses)10 records an early Bible Student preaching to the Masons in their Masonic Hall. What did he preach on? He showed them the pyramid diagrams in the front of Russell's volume 1. Interestingly, the Masons used Piazi Smyth's diagrams also in their literature, (such as Manly P. Hall's The Secret Teachings of All Ages). They must have felt comfortable with Russell's pyramidology. At any rate, there is the possibility some Primitive Methodists might have learned about the Bible Students through lodge functions.
In England, many Primitive Methodists joined Russell's movement. Six Primitive Methodist ministers joined his organization en masse.11
In the WT Feb. 1884, p. 2 the problem is mentioned that Russell's followers were being mistaken for Universalists, Primitive Methodists, or Adventists.
"New readers in all parts of the country are constantly inquiring: By what names do you call yourselves? Are you 'Primitive Baptists'? Are you 'Missionary Baptists'? Are you 'Universalists'? Are you 'Adventists'? Are you Primitive Methodists'?"12
As this book is documenting, the Universalists, the Primitive Methodists, and the Second Adventists all have strong Masonic connections. As this book has made it clearer what the early Watchtower Society was like (in contrast to today), and how much closer it was to Masonic thinking in its early years, it is not such a surprise, indeed it is understandable how the Watchtower Society could be mistaken for being Universalists, or Primitive Methodists.
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