The 1842 Nauvoo Endowment

As found in “Order Lodge” in “The History of the Saints” by John C. Bennett

This is a secret lodge or society, established by Joe Smith, on consequence of a special revelation from Heaven, which he pretended to have received respecting it. it was intended to enable him more effectually to execute his clandestine purposes. None but the very elite of the Mormons are admitted into this lodge, as the mysteries of the Holy Priesthood are there, more fully than elsewhere, explained to the members, who are initiated only after they have bound themselves, by a most solemn oath, to profound and inviolate secrecy.

“Order is Heaven’s first law; and, that confessed,
some are, and must be, greater than the rest.”

The ceremonies of initiation are in perfect keeping with the general absurdity of the new dispensation, and with the Holy Joe’s mission for the “restoration of the ancient order of things.”

The lodge-room is carefully prepared and consecrated; and from twelve to twenty-four springs of cassia, olive branches, cedar boughs, or other evergreens, are tastefully arranged about it. These are intended to represent the eternal life and unmingled bliss, which, in the celestial kingdom, will be enjoyed by all who continue in full fellowship with “Order Lodge”.

The aspiring candidate for “Holy Orders” obtains admission into this sanctified body in the following manner: He is stripped naked, and blindfolded; he is then brought into the lodge-room, and in that state is conducted round, so that all the members of the lodge may be satisfied, by personal inspection, that he is a fit subject for their August association, and that he possesses the qualifications required in Deuteronomy, twenty-third chapter and first verse. While the candidate is passing round the room, in this ridiculous and degrading condition, the most excellent Grand Master is repeating, “I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; i will lead them in paths that they have not known; I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.”

When the candidate has passed satisfactorily this queer examination, he is brought to the altar, before which he is made to kneel. While in this posture, the following oath or obligation is solemnly administered to him, by the Grand Master or his representative:

“In the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, I now promise and swear, truly, faithfully, and without reserve, that I will serve the Lord with a perfect heart and a willing mind, dedicating myself, wholly and unreservedly, in my person and effects, to the upbuilding of his kingdom on earth, according to his revealed will. I furthermore promise and swear that I will regard the First President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as the supreme head of the church on earth, and obey him the same as the Supreme God, in all written revelations, given under the solemnities of a ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ and that I will always uphold the presidency, right or wrong. I furthermore promise and swear that I will never touch a daughter of Adam, unless she is given me of the Lord. I furthermore promise and swear that no Gentile shall ever be admitted to the secrets of this holy institution, or participate in its blessings. I furthermore promise and swear that i will assist the Daughter of Zion in the utter destruction of apostates, and that I will assist in setting up the Kingdom of Daniel in these last days, by the power of the Highest and the sword of his might. I furthermore promise and swear that I will never communicate the secrets of this degree to any person in the known world, except it be to a true and lawful brother, binding myself under no less a penalty than that of having melted lead poured into my ear. So help me God, and keep me faithful.”

Joe pretends that God has revealed to him the real Master’s word, which is here given to the candidate.

This obligation is varied in some cases, to suit the convenience or caprice of the Prophet; but the foregoing is the standard and usual form. It will be seen that it is both blasphemous and treasonable, in the highest degree. The candidate swears to obey the First President of the Mormon Hierarchy, as the “Supreme God, in all written revelations;” that is, if Joe Smith should have a “revelation,” commanding him to massacre the “Gentile” citizens of Illinois, for example, or to overturn the Constitution of the United States, the members of this precious “Order Lodge” are bound and pledged, under the most heavy penalties, to assist him in so doing! If the contemptible mummery of the affair did not render it a ridiculous farce, it would merit, for its atrocity, the deepest execration of all good men and patriotic citizens. Yet, silly as are its ceremonies, this Order Lodge is not without strong pernicious influence. Many of the members consider themselves solemnly bound, in the presence and by the sanction of the Most High God, communicated to them by direct inspiration through his Prophet and representative, Holy Joe Smith, to execute, to the letter, whatever that inspired genius may take it into his head to command, whether it be treason, murder, arson, or robbery.

When the oath has been administered, the candidate is clothed with the robe of the order, and the precious ointment, or consecrated oil, poured upon his head, till it runs down upon his beard and the skirts of his garment. Then the nature, authority, and privileges of the Holy Priesthood are explained to the candidate, together with the ultimate fate of all Gentiles, (as they term those who are not Mormons,) sectarian priests, apostates, and dissenters.

One of the most curious and ludicrous ceremonies, connected with the initiation into Order Lodge, is this: After the precious ointment has been poured upon the candidate, a hole is cut in the bosom of his shirt. This shirt must never, on any account, be worn again, and must be sacredly preserved, to keep the Destroying Angel from them and their families. These shirts are committed to the care of the wives of the members, and none of them must touch them, or know of their existence. They believe that these shirts will preserve them from death, and secure them as earthly immortality; but Bishop Vinson Knight, one of the members, has recently died, so that it is evident the hole in his shirt could not save him. Joe will probably, however, say that a spiritual immortality only was promised.

The members of this lodge, in obedience to the above obligation, have no scruple whatever in perjuring themselves, when required to do so by the Prophet, or when it will conduce to the interest or advancement of the Holy Mormon Church; consequently they are the readiest and most dangerous tools of the Impostor.

The Mormon system of theology recognizes three Gods: the first of which is God the Father; the second is God the Son, or Jesus Christ; the third is God the Holy Ghost. In Order Lodge these are all represented; God the Father, by Joe Smith; God the Son, or Jesus Christ, by Hyrum Smith; and God the Holy Ghost, by George Miller. By these precious divinities the candidate is initiated into the higher mysteries of the Mormon Priesthood, of which all that need here be said is, that they fit him admirably for his holy work.

Order Lodge is a comparatively recent institution, and embraces a considerable number of members.