Character, Claims And Practical Workings Of Freemasonry (1869)
by Charles G. Finney
IT is high time that the Church of Christ was awake to the character and tendency of Freemasonry.
Forty years ago, we supposed that it was dead, and had no idea that it could ever revive. But, strange to tell, while we were busy in getting rid of slavery, Freemasonry has revived, and extended its bounds most alarmingly.
I propose to write a series of articles, giving my views of the character and tendency of the institution.
I know something about it, for I have been a Freemason myself. Soon after I was twenty-one years of age, and while in Connecticut at school, an old uncle of mine persuaded me to join the Freemasons, representing that, as I was from home and much among strangers, it would be of service to me, because if a Freemason I should find friends everywhere. The lodge in that place was but a Master's lodge. I therefore took three degrees, or as far as what they call "the sublime degree of Master Mason." When I returned to the State of New York, to enter upon the study of law, I found at Adams, where I resided, a Masonic lodge, and united with them. I soon became secretary of the lodge, and met regularly with the lodge. When I took especially the Master's degree I was struck with one part of the obligation, or oath, as not being sound either in a political or moral point of view.
However, I had been brought up with very few religious privileges, and had but slight knowledge on moral subjects; and I was not, therefore, greatly shocked, at the time, with the immorality of anything through which I passed. The lodge where I took my degrees was composed, I believe, mostly of professed Christians. But when I came to join the lodge at Adams I found that the Master of the lodge was a deist. At this distance of time I can not be certain whether the deist to whom I refer, Eliphalet Edmunds, was Master of the lodge when I first joined. My best recollection is that Captain Goodell was Master when I first joined the lodge at Adams, and that Judge Edmunds was Master at the time of my conversion to Christ. I am certain that deism was no objection to any man becoming a member or a master of the lodge. There were in that lodge some as thoroughly irreligious men as I have ever associated with anywhere, and men with whom I never would have associated had they not been Freemasons. I do not recollect that any Christian men belonged to that lodge at the time I joined it. There were some very profane men who belonged to it, and some men of very intemperate habits.
As I paid the strictest attention to what they called their lectures and teachings, I became what they call "a bright Mason;" that is, as far as I went, I committed to memory their oral teachings--for they had no other.
The oaths, or obligations, were familiar to me, as was everything else that belonged to those three degrees that I had taken.
I had belonged to the lodge in Adams nearly four years when I was converted to Christ. During the struggle of conviction of sin through which I passed I do not recollect that the question of Freemasonry ever occurred to my mind. The season that I called properly my conviction of sin was short. My exercises were pungent, and I very soon obtained hope in Christ.
Soon after my conversion the evening came for attendance upon the lodge. I went. They, of course, were aware that I had become a Christian, and the Master of the lodge called on me to open the lodge with prayer. I did so, and poured out my heart to the Lord for blessing upon the lodge. I observed that it created a considerable excitement. The evening passed away, and at the close of the lodge I was requested to pray again. I did so, and retired, but much depressed in spirit. I soon found that I was completely converted from Freemasonry to Christ, and that I could have no fellowship with any of the proceedings of the lodge, Its oaths appeared to me to be monstrously profane and barbarous.
At that time I did not know how much I had been imposed upon by many of the pretensions of Masonry. But upon reflection and examination, and after a severe struggle and earnest prayer, I found that I could not consistently remain with them. My new life instinctively and irresistibly recoiled from any fellowship with what I then regarded as "the unfruitful works of darkness."
Without consulting any person, I finally went to the lodge and requested my discharge. After manifesting considerable reluctance they granted my request. My mind was made up. Withdraw from them I must; with their consent if I might, without their consent if I must. Of this I said nothing; but some way it came to be known that I had withdrawn from them. This created some little feeling amongst them. They, therefore, planned a Masonic celebration or festival. I do not recollect exactly what it was. But they sent a committee to me, requesting me to deliver an oration on the occasion. I quietly declined to do so; informing the committee that I could not conscientiously in anywise do what would manifest my approval of the institution, or sympathy with it. However, at that time, and for years afterward, I remained silent and said nothing against the institution; for I had not then so well considered the matter as to regard my Masonic oaths as utterly null and void. But from that time I never allowed myself to be recognized as a Freemason anywhere. This was a few years before the revelations of Freemasonry, by William Morgan, were published. When that book was published, I was asked if it were a true revelation of Freemasonry. I replied that it was, as far as I knew anything about it; and that, as nearly as I could recollect, it was a verbatim revelation of the first three degrees as I had myself taken them. I replied in this way because I saw, of course, that as the thing was published, and no longer a secret, I could not be under any obligation to keep it a secret, unless I could be under an obligation to lie, and to lie, perpetually, by denying that that which had been published was truly Freemasonry.
I knew that I could be under no obligations to be guilty of a perpetual falsehood, and that I really made no revelation of any secret when I frankly acknowledged that that which had been published was a true account of the institution, and a true expose of their oaths, principles, and proceedings.
Afterward I considered it more thoroughly, and was most perfectly convinced that I had no right to adhere to the institution, or to appear to do so; and that I was bound, whenever the occasion arose, to speak my mind freely in regard to it, and to renounce the horrid oaths that I had taken.
On reflection and examination I found that I had been grossly deceived and imposed upon. I had been led to suppose that there were some very important secrets to be communicated to me. But in this respect I found myself entirely disappointed.
Indeed, I came to the deliberate conclusion, and could not avoid doing so, that my oaths had been procured by fraud and misrepresentation, and that the institution was in no respect what I had been previously informed that it was.
And, as I have had the means of examining it more thoroughly, it has become more and more irresistibly plain to my convictions that the institution is highly dangerous to the State, and in every way injurious to the Church of Christ.
This I expect to show in detail should I be spared to finish the articles which I contemplate writing. But in my next it will be in place to inquire, How are the public to know what Freemasonry really is?
After this inquiry is settled, we shall be prepared to enter upon an examination of its claims, its principles, and its tendency.
SCRAP OF HISTORY
IN number I must remind readers of some facts that occurred about forty years ago; which, as matters of history, though then well-known to thousands, are probably now unknown to the great majority of our citizens. Elderly men and women, especially in the Northern States, will almost universally remember the murder of William Morgan by Freemasons, and many facts connected with that terrible tragedy. But, as much pains have been taken by Freemasons to rid the world of the books and pamphlets, and every vestige of writing relating to that subject, by far the larger number of young people seem to be entirely ignorant that such facts ever occurred. I will state them as briefly as possible.
About forty year ago, an estimable man by the name of William Morgan, then residing in Batavia, N.Y., being a Freemason, after much reflection, made up his mind that it was his duty to publish Freemasonry to the world. He regarded it as highly injurious to the cause of Christ, and as eminently dangerous to the government of our country, and I suppose was aware, as Masons generally were at that time, that nearly all the civil offices in the country were in the hands of Freemasons; and that the press was completely under their control, and almost altogether in their hands. Masons at that time boasted that all the civil offices in the country were in their hands. I believe that all the civil offices in the county where I resided while I belonged to them, were in their hands. I do not recollect a magistrate, or a constable, or sheriff in that county that was not at that time a Freemason.
A publisher by the name of Miller, also residing in Batavia, agreed to publish what Mr. Morgan would write. This, coming to be known to Freemasons, led them to conspire for his destruction. This, as we shall see, was only in accordance with their oaths. By their oaths they were bound to seek his destruction, and to execute upon him the penalty of those oaths.
They kidnapped Morgan and for a time concealed him in the magazine of the United States Fort--Fort Niagara, at the mouth of Niagara River, where it empties into Lake Ontario. They kept him there until they could arrange to dispatch him. In the meantime, the greatest efforts were made to discover his whereabouts, and what the Masons had done with him. Strong suspicions came finally to be entertained that he was confined in that fort; and the Masons, finding that those suspicions were abroad, hastened his death. Two or three have since, upon their death-bed, confessed their part in the transaction. They drowned him in the Niagara River. The account of the manner in which this was will be found in a book published by EIder Stearns, a Baptist elder. The book is entitled "Stearns on Masonry." It contains the deathbed confession of one of the murderers of William Morgan. On page 311, of that work, you will find that confession. But as many of my readers have not access to that work, I take the liberty to quote it entire, as follows:
"THE MURDER OF WILLIAM MORGAN, CONFESSED BY THE MAN WHO, WITH HIS OWN HANDS, PUSHED HIM OUT OF THE BOAT INTO NIAGARA RIVER!
"The following account of that tragical scene is taken from a pamphlet entitled, 'Confession of the murder of William Morgan, as taken down by Dr. John L. Emery, of Racine County, Wisconsin, in the summer of 1848, and now (1849) first given to the public:'
"This 'Confession' was taken down as related by Henry L. Valance, who acknowledges himself to have been one of the three who were selected to make a final disposition of the ill-fated victim of masonic vengeance. This confession it seems was made to his physicians, and in view of his approaching dissolution, and published after his decease.
"After committing that horrid deed he was as might well be expected, an unhappy man, by day and by night. He was much like Cain--'a fugitive and a vagabond.' To use his own words, 'Go where I would, or do what I would, it was impossible for me to throw off the consciousness of crime. If the mark of Cain was not upon me, the curse of the first murderer was--the blood-stain was upon my hands and could not be washed out.
'He therefore commences his confession thus:--'My last hour is approaching; and as the things of this world fade from my mental sight, I feel the necessity of making, as far as in my power lies, that atonement which every violator of the great law of right owes to his fellow men' In this violation of law, he says, 'I allude to the abduction and murder of the ill-fated William Morgan.'
"He proceeds with an interesting narrative of the proceedings of the fraternity in reference to Morgan, while he was incarcerated in the magazine of Fort Niagara. I have room for a few extracts only, showing the final disposition of their alleged criminal. Many consultations were held, 'many plans proposed and discussed, and rejected.' At length being driven to the necessity of doing something immediately for fear of being exposed, it was resolved in a council of eight, that he must die: must be consigned to a 'confinement from which there is no possibility of escape--THE GRAVE.' Three of their number were to be selected by ballot to execute the deed. 'Eight pieces of paper were procured, five of which were to remain blank, while the letter D was written on the others. These pieces of paper were placed in a large box, from which each man was to draw one at the same moment. After drawing we were all to separate, without looking at the paper that each held in his hand. So soon as we had arrived at certain distances from the place of rendezvous, the tickets were to be examined, and those who held blanks. were to return instantly to their homes; and those who should hold marked tickets were to proceed to the fort at midnight, and there put Morgan to death, in such a manner as should seem to themselves most fitting.' Mr. Yalance was one of the three who drew the ballots on which was the signal letter. He returned to the fort, where he was joined by his two companions, who had drawn the death tickets. Arrangements were made immediately for executing the sentence passed upon their prisoner, which was to sink him in the river with weights; in hope, says Mr. Valance, 'that he and our crime alike would thus be buried beneath the waves.' His part was to proceed to the magazine where Morgan was confined, and announce to him his fate--theirs was to procure a boat and weights with which to sink him. Morgan, on being informed of their proceedings against him, demanded by what authority they had condemned him, and who were his judges. 'He commenced wringing his hands, and talking of his wife and children, the recollections of whom, in that awful hour, terribly affected him. His wife, he said, was young and inexperienced, and his children were but infants; what would become of them were he cut off; and they even ignorant of his fate?' What husband and father would not be 'terribly affected' under such circumstances--to be cut off from among the living in this inhuman manner?
"Mr. V.'s comrades returned. and informed him that they had procured the boat and weights, and that all things were in readiness on their part. Morgan was told that all his remonstrances were idle, that die he must, and that soon, even before the morning light. The feelings of the husband and father were still strong within him, and he continued to plead on behalf of his family. They gave him one half hour to prepare for his 'inevitable fate.' They retired from the magazine and left him. "How Morgan passed that time,' says Mr. Valance, 'I cannot tell, but everything was quiet as the tomb within.' At the expiration of the allotted time, they entered the magazine, laid hold of their victim, 'bound his hands behind him, and placed a gag in his mouth.' They then led him forth to execution. 'A short time,' says this murderer, 'brought us to the boat, and we all entered it--Morgan being placed in the bow with myself, along side of him. My comrades took the oars, and the boat was rapidly forced out into the river. The night was pitch dark, we could scarcely see a yard before us and therefore was the time admirably adapted to our hellish purpose.' Having reached a proper distance from the shore, the oarsmen ceased their labors. The weights were all secured together by a strong cord, and another cord of equal strength, and of several yards in length, proceeded from that. 'This cord,' says Mr. V., 'I took in my hand [did not that hand tremble ?] and fastened it around the body of Morgan, just above his hips, using all my skill to make it fast, so that it would hold. Then, in a whisper, I bade the unhappy man to stand up, and after a momentary hesitation he complied with my order. He stood close to the head of the boat, and there was just length enough of rope from his person to the weights to prevent any strain, while he was standing. I then requested one of my associates to assist me in lifting the weights from the bottom to the side of the boat, while the others steadied her from the stern. This was done, and, as Morgan was standing with his back toward me, I approached him, and gave him a strong push with both my hands, which were placed on the middle of his back. He fell forward, carrying the weights with him, and the waters closed over the mass. We remained quiet for two or three minutes, when my companions, without saying a word, resumed their places, and rowed the boat to the place from which they had taken it.'"
They also kidnapped Mr. Miller, the publisher; but the citizens of Batavia, finding it out, pursued the kidnappers, and finally rescued him.
The courts of justice found themselves entirely unable to make any headway against the wide-spread conspiracy that was formed among Masons in respect to this matter.
These are matters of record. It was found that they could do nothing with the courts, with the sheriffs, with the witnesses, or with the jurors; and all their efforts were for a time entirely impotent Indeed, they never were able to prove the murder of Morgan, and bring it home to the individuals who perpetrated it.
But Mr. Morgan had published Freemasonry to the world. The greatest pains were taken by Masons to cover up the transaction, and as far as possible to deceive the public in regard to the fact that Mr. Morgan had published Masonry as it really is.
Masons themselves, as is affirmed by the very best authority, published two spurious editions of Morgan's book, and circulated them as the true edition which Morgan had published. These editions were designed to deceive Masons who had never seen Morgan's edition, and thus to enable them to say that it was not a true revelation of Masonry.
In consequence of the publication of Morgan's book, and the revelations that were made in regard to the kidnapping and murdering of Mr. Morgan, great numbers of Masons were led to consider the subject more fully than they had done; and the conscientious among them almost universally renounced Masonry altogether. I believe that about two thousand lodges, as a consequence of these revelations, were suspended.
The ex-president of a Western college, who is himself a Freemason, has recently published some very important information on the subject though he justifies Masonry. He says that, out of a little more than fifty thousand Masons in the United States at that time, forty-five thousand turned their backs upon the lodge to enter the lodge no more. Conventions were called of Masons that were disposed to renounce it. One was held at Leroy, another at Philadelphia, and others at other places, I do not now remember where. The men composing these conventions made public confession of their relation to the institution, and publicly renounced it. At one of these large conventions they appointed a committee to superintend the publication of Masonry in all its degrees. This committee was composed of men of first-rate character, and men quite generally known to the public. Elder Bernard, a Baptist elder in good standing, was one of this committee; and he, with the assistance of his brethren who had been appointed to this work, obtained an accurate version of some forty eight degrees. He published also the proceedings of those conventions, and much concerning the efforts that were made by the courts to search the matter to the bottom, and also several speeches that were made by prominent men in the State of New York. This work was entitled "Light on Masonry." In this work any person who is disposed may get a very correct view of what Freemasonry really is. This and sundry other reliable works on Freemasonry may be had at Godrich's, and Fitch & Fairchild's bookstores, in Oberlin. In saying this, it is proper to add that I have no direct or indirect pecuniary interest in the sale of those or of any book on Freemasonry whatever, nor shall I have in the sale of this which I am now preparing for the press. Freemasons shall not with truth accuse me of self-interest in exposing their institution.
Before the publication of "Bernard's Light on Masonry," great pains were taken to secure the most accurate knowledge of the degrees published by the committee, as the reader of that work will see, if he reads the book through. An account of all these matters will be found in "Light on Masonry," to which I have referred. In the Northern or non-slaveholding States Masonry was almost universally renounced at that time. But it was found that it had taken so deep a root that in all New England there was scarcely a newspaper in which the death of William Morgan, and the circumstances connected therewith, could be published. This was so generally true throughout all the North that newspapers had to be everywhere established for the purpose of making the disclosures that were necessary in regard to its true character and tendency. The same game is being played over again at the present day. The "Cynosure," the new anti-masonic paper published at Chicago, is constantly intercepted on its way to subscribers. Four of its first six numbers failed to reach me, and now in December, 1868, I have received no number later than the sixth. The editor informs me that the numbers are constantly intercepted. The public will be forced to learn what a lawless and hideous institution Freemasonry is. But at present I refrain from saying more on this point.
It was found that Masonry so completely baffled the courts of law, and obstructed the course of justice, that it was forced into politics; and for a time the anti-masonic sentiment of the Northern States carried all before it. Almost all Masons became ashamed of it, felt themselves disgraced by having any connection with it, and publicly renounced it. If they did not publish any renunciation, they suspended their lodges, had no more to do with it, and did not pretend to deny that Masonry had been published.
Now these facts were so notorious, so universally known and confessed, that those of us who were acquainted with them at the time had no idea that Masonry would have the impudence ever again to claim any public respect. I should just as soon expect slavery to be re-established in this country, and become more popular than ever before--to take possession of the Government and of all the civil offices, and to grow bold, impudent, and defiant--as I should have expected that Masonry would achieve what it has. When the subject of Freemasonry was first forced upon our churches in Oberlin, for discussion and action, I can not express the astonishment, grief and indignation that I felt on hearing professed Christian Freemasons deny either expressly or by irresistible implication that Morgan and others had truly revealed the secrets of Freemasonry. But a few years ago such denial would have ruined the character of any intelligent man, not to say of a professed Christian.
But I must say, also, that Masonry itself has its literature. Many bombastic and spread-eagle books have been published in its favor. They never attempt to justify it as it is revealed in "Light on Masonry," nor reply by argument to the attacks that have been so successfully made upon it; neither have they pretended to reveal its secret. But they have eulogized it in a manner that is utterly nauseating to those that understand what it really is. But these books have been circulated among the young, and have no doubt led thousands and scores of thousands of young men into the Masonic ranks, who, but for these miserable productions, would never have thought of taking such a step.
WE are prepared in this number to take up the question, How are the public to know what Freemasonry really is? This we may answer.
1. Negatively. (1.) Masonry cannot be known from a perusal of the eulogistic books which adhering Masons have written. Of course they are under oath in no way whatever to reveal the secrets of Masonry. But it is their secrets that the public are concerned to know. Now their eulogistic books, as any one may know who will examine them, are silly, and for the most part little better than twaddle. If we read their orations and sermons that have been published in support of Masonry, and the books that they have written, we shall find much that is silly, much that is false, and a great deal more that is mere bombast and rho domontade. I do not say this rashly. Any person who will examine the subject for himself must admit that this language is strictly true. But I shall have occasion hereafter when we come to examine the character of the institution, to show more clearly the utter ignorance or dishonesty of the men who have eulogized it.
Let it be understood, then, that adhering Masons do not profess to publish their secrets. And that which the country and the church are particularly interested to understand they never publish--their oaths, for example; and, therefore, we cannot tell from what they write what they are under oath to do.
(2.) We cannot learn what Masonry is from the oral testimony of adhering Masons.
Let it be pondered well that every one of them is under oath to conceal and in no way whatever to reveal the secrets of the order. This Freemasons do not deny. Hence, if they are asked if the books in which Masonry has been published are true, they will either evade the question or else they will lie; and they are under oath to do so.
Observe, adhering Masons are the men who still acknowledge the binding obligation of their oaths. Now, if they are asked if those books truly reveal Masonry, they consider themselves under an obligation to deny it, if they say anything about it. And, as they are well aware that to refuse to say anything about it is a virtual acknowledgment that the books are true, and would therefore be an indirect revelation of Masonry; they will almost universally deny that the books are true. Some of them are ashamed to say anything more than that there is some truth and a great deal of falsehood in them.
(3.) As they are under oath to conceal the secrets of Masonry, and in no wise whatever to reveal any part of them, their testimony in regard to the truthfulness or untruthfulness of those books is of no value whatever. It is mere madness to receive the testimony of men who are under oath, and under the most horrid oaths that can be taken--oaths sustained by the most terrific penalties that can be named to conceal their secrets and to deny that they have been published, and that those books contain them--I say it is downright madness to receive the testimony of such men, it matters not who they are. Masons have no right to expect an intelligent person to believe their denials that these books have truly revealed Masonry. Nor have they a right to complain if we reject their testimony. What would they have us do? Shall we believe the testimony of men who admit that they are under oath to conceal and never in any way reveal the secrets of their order, when they deny that their secrets are revealed in certain books, and shall we ignore the testimony of thousands who have conscientiously renounced those horrid oaths, at the hazard of their lives, and declared with one accord, and many of them under the sanction of judicial oaths lawfully administered, that Morgan, Bernard and others have truly revealed the secrets of Freemasonry? There are at this day thousands of most conscientious men who are ready to testify on oath that those books contain a substantially correct exposition of Freemasonry as it was and is. I say again that Freemasons have no right to expect us to believe their denials; for while they adhere to Masonry they are under oath to "conceal and never reveal" any part of its secrets and of course they must expressly or impliedly deny every revelation of its secrets that can be made. Would they have us stultify ourselves by receiving their testimony ?
2. Positively. How, then, are we to know what Masonry is? I answer: (1.) From the published and oral testimony of those who have taken the degrees; and afterward, from conscientious motives, have confessed their error, and have publicly renounced Masonry. But it has been said that these are perjured men, and therefore not at all to be believed. But let it be remarked that this very accusation is an admission that they have published the truth; for, unless they have published the secrets of Masonry truly, they have violated no Masonic oath. Therefore, when Masons accuse them of being perjured, the very objection which they make to the testimony of these witnesses is an acknowledgment on the part of Masons themselves that they have truly published their secrets.
But again. If to reveal the secrets of Masonry be perjury, it follows that to accuse the revealers of Masonry of perjury, is itself perjury; because by their accusation they tacitly admit that that which has been published is truly a revelation of Masonry, and therefore their accusation is a violation of their oath of secresy. Let it then be understood that the very objection to these witnesses, that they have committed perjury, is itself an acknowledgment that the witnesses are entirely credible, and have revealed Masonry as it is. And not only so--but in bringing forward the objection, they commit perjury themselves, if it be perjury to reveal their secrets, because, as I have said, in accusing the witnesses of perjury, they add their testimony to the fact that these witnesses have published Masonry as it is. So that by their own testimony, in bringing this charge of perjury, they themselves swell the number of witnesses to the truthfulness of these revelations.
(2.) Renouncing Masons are the best possible witnesses by whom to prove what Masonry really is. (a.) They are competent witnesses. They testify from their own personal knowledge of what it is. (5.) They are in the highest degree credible witnesses. First, because they testify against themselves. They confess their own wrong in having taken those terrible oaths, and in having had any part in sustaining the institution. Secondly, their testimony is given with the certainty of incurring a most unrelenting persecution. Adhering Freemasons are under oath to persecute them, to destroy their characters, and to seek to bring them to condign punishment. This we shall see when we come to examine the books.
Adhering Masons have persecuted, and still persecute, those that reveal their secrets, just as far as they dare. They are in the highest degree intolerant., and this every Mason knows. In a recent number of their great Masonic organ, published in New York, they advise the Masons in Oberlin in no way to patronize those who oppose them. Those who renounce Masonry are well aware of their danger. But, notwithstanding, they are constrained by their consciences, by the fear and love of God, and by regard to the interests of their country, to renounce and expose it. Now, surely, witnesses that testify under such circumstances are entitled to credit; especially as they could have had no conceivable motive for deceiving the public. Their testimony was wrung from them by conscience. And the authors of the books that I have named, together with several others--such as Richardson, Stearns, and Mr. Allyn, and I know not how many others--are sustained by the testimony of forty-five thousand who publicly renounced Masonry, out of a little more than fifty thousand that composed the whole number of Freemasons then in the United States. Now, it should be well remembered that the five thousand who still adhered belonged almost altogether to the slaveholding States, and had peculiar reasons for still adhering to the institution of Masonry. And, further, let it be distinctly observed that, as they adhered to Masonry, their testimony is null, because they still regarded themselves as under oath in no wise to reveal their secrets; consequently, they would, of course, deny that these books had truly revealed Masonry. I say again, it is mere madness to receive their testimony.
CREDIBILITY OF THE BOOKS REVEALING FREEMASONRY
I FURTHER observe: (3) The credibility of these books in which Masonry is revealed is evident from the following considerations: (a.) The murder of Morgan by Freemasons was an emphatic acknowledgment that he had revealed their secrets. For, if he had not, he had not incurred the penalty of Masonic obligations. They murdered him because he had truly revealed their secrets; and they could have had no motive whatever for murdering him if he had not done so. (b.) The credibility of these books is further sustained by the fact that adhering Masons did then, and have always, justified the murder of Morgan as that which their oaths obliged them to do. They have said that he deserved and that he had taken upon him the obligation consenting to suffer the penalty if he violated it. In the two small volumes published by Elder Stearns, letters will be found from the most respectable and reliable Christian men, that fully sustain this statement, that the adhering fraternity, with very few exceptions, at that time, justified the murder of Morgan. In thus justifying that murder they, of course, admit that he violated his oath, and had truly published Freemasonry. I would quote these testimonies; but, as they can be read from the books themselves. I will not cumber these pages by copying them.
(c.) The credibility of these books is sustained by the express testimony of the seceding Mason, who, after hearing them read, ordered them printed.
(d.) The testimony of these books is further sustained by the report of a committee appointed at that time by the legislature of Rhode Island. That body appointed a committee, and gave them authority to arrest and examine Freemasons to ascertain whether the oaths published in these books were truly the oaths of Freemasons. This committee succeeded in bringing before them men that had taken the first ten degrees of Freemasonry. They put them on oath under the pains and penalties of perjury. In these circumstances they did not dare to deny it; but owned to the committee that they were the oaths taken by Freemasons. I said that they did not dare to deny it, because they were well aware that of seceding Masons hundreds and thousands might be obtained who would confront them and prove them guilty of perjury if they denied
I should have said that these Masons that were arrested, and that testified before this committee, were not seceding, but adhering, Masons. So that here for the first ten degrees of Freemasonry we have the admission on oath of adhering Masons that these books truly published their oaths. These facts may be learned from the records of the legislature, or from John Quincy Adams' letters to Mr. Livingston, who was at the head of the Masonic institution in the State of New York at that time.
(e.) The credibility of these books is further sustained by the implied admission of the two thousand lodges that suspended because their secrets were revealed, and because they were ashamed any longer to be known as sustaining the institution. These lodges, as I have before said, contained some forty-five thousand members. Now it should be particularly noted that, of all the seceding Masons in the United States, not one of them has ever, to my knowledge, denied that these books had truly revealed Masonry; while it is true that the five thousand who did not secede would never acknowledge that these books were credible. A worthy minister, who used to reside in this place, who has himself taken a great many degrees in Masonry, wrote to one of our citizens, a few months since, denouncing the institution in strong terms. He is a man who has traveled much among Freemasons for many years in various parts of the United States; and in that letter he affirmed that he had never known but one adhering Mason who would not deny, to those who did not know better, that those books had truly revealed Masonry. This is what might be expected.
(f.) The credibility of these books is further sustained by the published individual testimony of a great many men of unquestionable veracity--men standing high in the Christian ministry, and in church and state.
The books to which I have alluded contain very much of this kind of testimony.
But to all this testimony adhering Masons have objected. First, that the movement against Freemasonry was a political one. Answer: I have already said that by its having seized upon all the civil offices, and totally obstructing the course of justice, it was forced into politics by Masons themselves.
It was found that there was no other way than for the people to rise up and take the offices out of their hands by political action. At first there was no thought on the part of any one, so far as I could learn, that it would ever become a political question. But it was soon found that there was no other alternative.
But, again, it is said, Why should we receive the testimony of those men who have passed away, rather than the testimony of the living, thousands of whom now affirm that those books did not truly reveal Masonry ?
To this I answer that these men are every one of them sworn to lie about it--expressly, or virtually. Observe, they must conceal as well as never reveal these secrets; therefore, as refusing to deny would be regarded as a virtual admission, they are sworn to make an impression amounting, morally, to a denial. At a recent conference of ministers and delegates from churches, a report was read by a committee previously appointed for that purpose, representing the true character of Freemasonry. I was not present, but am informed, by unquestionable authority, that after the report was read, a minister who was a Freemason represented the report as setting up a "man of straw" thereby intending to make the impression that the report was not true. But it was replied that the report may have exhibited "a man of straw," for such Freemasonry may be, but he was asked, is not the report true? To this question he refused to answer. Was this Christian honesty? At recess another minister, also a Freemason, in conversation spoke of the report as trash, but in being pressed with the question, "Is it not true?" he refused to answer. These cases illustrate their manner of disposing of this question. Many of them dare not expressly deny the truthfulness of those revelations, but they will so express themselves as to amount to a denial. They have numerous methods of doing this. They intend to deceive; manifestly for selfish reasons, and are therefore guilty of lying, and so they will find it held at the solemn judgment. If they adhere to their oaths, they are sworn to deny that these books truly reveal Masonry; and, therefore, their testimony is not to be received at all. But thousands of the seceding masons still survive, and universally adhere to their testimony that those books did truly reveal Masonry.
But it is said that Masonry is reformed, and is not now what it was at that time.
Answer: First, this, then, is a virtual acknowledgment that at that time it was truly revealed. This is contradicting themselves.
As long as they can, they deny that these books truly reveal it. But when forty-five thousand witnesses are summoned, among whom are a great many of the most valuable citizens of the United States, insomuch that they can have no face to deny that Masonry was revealed, as it then was, then we are told, "Oh! it is reformed; it is not what it was."
But, again if they have reformed, the burden of proof is upon them. It is for them to show whether they have reformed out of it those things that rendered it so odious in a moral point of view, and so dangerous in a political point of view, as those books revealed it to be.
Again, their authorities do not pretend that it has been reformed. Their most recently published books take exactly the opposite ground, claiming that it is one and identical with what it was in the beginning; and that it neither has been nor can be changed in any of its essential principles or usages. They expressly require of their candidates to conform to all the ancient principles and usages of the institution. In another number I shall endeavor to set this question of reform at rest. It were premature to do so before we have examined the books in which it is revealed
I might sustain these assertions by copious extracts from their works, if it would not too much encumber this article. Let those who wish to know, get their books, and read them for themselves. If anything can be established by human testimony, it is forever beyond a doubt that Mr. Morgan, EIder Bernard, Mr. Richardson, and others that published Masonry, have published it substantially as it was and is.
I have already said that their secrets are never written by themselves. All their secrets are communicated orally. They take a great deal of pains to secure entire uniformity in regard to every word and sentiment which they teach. Each State has its lecturers, who go from lodge to lodge to teach and secure a uniformity as nearly perfect as possible.
And then there is a United States lecturer, who goes from State to State, to see that the grand lodges are all consistent with each other.
In spite, however, of all this painstaking and expense, slight verbal differences will exist among them. But these differences are only in words. The ideas are retained; but in some few instances they are expressed by different words, as we shall see when we come to examine the books themselves.
The fact is, that the great mass of young men who have joined them have been grossly deceived. Having been imposed upon, as I was imposed upon, they have been made to believe that the institution is a very different matter from what it really is.
We shall see hereafter how this imposition could be practiced upon them, and how it has been practiced upon them.
I would not be understood as denouncing the individuals composing the whole fraternity; for I am perfect]y well persuaded that the great mass of young men who belong to the institution are laboring under a great delusion in regard to its real object, character, and tendency.
Lastly, it is inquired why we go to the enemies of Freemasonry for a knowledge of what it is, instead of getting our information from friends. "Why not," they say, "allow us to speak for ourselves! We know what it is, and we can inform the public what it is; and why should you go to our enemies?" But what do Freemasons mean by asking such questions? Do they consider us idiots? Do they want to insult our intelligence by asking us why we don't get their secrets from themselves? Of course, as they well know, we cannot learn what the secrets of Masonry are from its friends and adherents, because they are under oath to give us no information about them. We are, therefore, under the necessity, if we would know what it is, of taking the testimony of those who know what it is by having taken its degrees, and have, from conscientious motives, renounced the institution. If they are its enemies, it is only in the sense that they regard the institution as not only unworthy of patronage, but as so wicked in a moral point of view, and so dangerous in a political point of view, that they feel constrained to reveal its secrets, and publicly to renounce it. These are the only men from whom we can possibly get any information of what Freemasonry is. It is absurd for adhering Masons to ask us why we do not allow them to teach us what it is; for we know, and they know, that they can do no such thing without violating their oaths and these oaths they still acknowledge to be binding upon them. Under this head I take the liberty to subjoin--
1. The testimony of the Albany Evening Journal Extra, of October 27, 1831. This article, as its date demonstrates, was written at the time of the investigation of the Morgan murder, and refers to facts too notorious to be denied:
"Since the public attention in this quarter has been roused by recent events to the practical evils of Freemasonry, numerous inquiries are made for the means of information respecting the ridiculous ceremonies, the unlawful oaths, the dangerous obligations, and the blasphemous mockeries of this order. Although these have been from year to year, for the last five years, spread before the public, yet as our citizens here were indifferent to the subject, they avoided reading what was so profusely laid before them; and the consequence is, that now, when they begin to feel and think on this momentous matter, they find themselves in want of that information necessary to enable them to understand it. It shall be my purpose to supply the deficiency to some extent, by pointing out the sources of full and extensive knowledge, and by presenting as briefly as possible, the prominent features in the character of Freemasonry. It has become a question of such engrossing interest, that every man should desire to be informed, and every citizen who is called upon to act in reference to it in his capacity as AN ELECTOR, is bound by the highest duties of patriotism to act understandingly.
"The first revelation of Masonry in this country was made by William Morgan. In 1826, he published a pamphlet, entitled 'Illustrations in Masonry,' in which the ceremonies of initiation and the obligations of the three first degrees were disclosed. For this publication he was kidnapped and forcibly carried away from a wife and two children, and was murdered by being drowned in the Niagara River. This was done by Freemasons. Thus he has sealed the truth of his revelations by sacrificing his own life, and the Freemasons established their accuracy incontrovertibly by the punishment they inflicted on him. For according to their own bloody code, he could not have incurred the penalty of death, if he had not revealed their secrets. In February, 1828, a convention of seceding Masons was held at LeRoy, in the County of Genesee, composed of some thirty or forty of the most respectable citizens. They published a declaration to the world under their signatures, in which they declared the revelations of William Morgan to be strictly true and perfectly accurate. Under the same responsibility they also published the oaths and obligations of the higher orders. In the course of the same year, EIder Bernard, a Baptist clergyman of good character, and who was a distinguished Mason, published a work, entitled 'Light on Masonry,' in which the ceremonies, oaths and mummeries of the order are given at full length. In 1829, on the trial of Elihu Mather, in Orleans County, the obligations of the three first degrees and of a Royal Arch Mason, were proved, at a Circuit Court held by Judge Gardiner, by the testimony of three seceding Masons and one adhering Mason. In obedience to a resolution of the Senate of New York, Judge Gardiner reported this evidence, and it was printed by order of the Senate. In 1830, on a trial in Rhode Island, the same obligations were proved in open court, and the trial was published at large in the newspapers. In 1831, on the trial of H.C. Witherell, at New Berlin, in Chenango County, the same obligations were proved by the oaths of three adhering Masons, among whom was General WeIch, the sheriff of the county. In the year 1830, Avery Allyn, a regular Knight Templar, published a book, called the 'Ritual of Freemasonry' in which the ceremonies of initiation, the lectures, oaths and mummeries of thirty-one degrees are fully exhibited. Thousands of Masons individually have, under their names in the public papers, declared these publications of Bernard and Allyn to be strictly accurate. These books may be found in our bookstores."
2. I next subjoin a tract, made up of "The Petition to the Legislature of Connecticut," against extra-judicial oaths, with an abstract of the evidence, and the report of the Committee to whom the subject was referred. Published in 1834:
To the Honorable General Assembly of the State of Connecticut, to be holden at Hartford, on the first Wednesday of May, A.D. 1833:
The Petitioners, inhabitants of said State, respectfully request the attention of your Honorable body to the expediency of some legal provision to prevent the administration of oaths in all cases not authorized by law. It may justly be required of the Petitioners, before a compliance can be expected with this request, that a case should be made out requiring such Legislative provision; and your Petitioners confidently trust that satisfactory grounds for this application will be found to exist in the oaths which are administered in Masonic Lodges.
The disclosures which have been recently made by the seceding Masons of the secret proceedings of those Lodges fully prove that the Institution of Freemasonry consists of numerous degrees which may be increased to an unlimited extent, and that an oath of an extraordinary character is administered at the entrance of every degree. Your Petitioners would not trespass upon the principles of decorum by an unnecessary recital of all these horrid imprecations, but justice to the cause they have espoused compels them to exhibit the following specimens, which are selected from the oaths administered in the different degrees: The Entered Apprentice Mason swears, "I will always hail, ever conceal, and never reveal any part or parts, art or arts, point or points of the secrets, arts, and mysteries of Ancient Freemasonry which I have received, am about to receive, or may hereafter be instructed in;" "without the least equivocation, mental reservation, or self evasion of mind in me whatever, binding myself under no less penalty than to have my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by the roots, and my body buried in the rough sands of the sea." The Master Mason swears, "I will obey all regular signs, summonses, or tokens, given, handed, sent, or thrown to me from the hand of a brother Master Mason;" "a Master Mason's secrets, given to me in charge as such, and I knowing them to be such, shall remain as secure and inviolable in my breast as in his own, when communicated to me, murder and treason excepted, and they left to my own election." The Royal Arch Mason swears, "I will aid and assist a companion Royal Arch Mason when engaged in any difficulty; and espouse his cause so far as to extricate him from the same, if in my power, whether he be right or wrong." "A Companion Royal Arch Mason's secrets, given me in charge as such, and I knowing them to be such, shall remain as secure and inviolable in my breast as in his own, without exception." The following obligations are contained in the oath of the Holy Thrice Illustrious order of the Cross, Knights, or Kadosh, etc.: "I swear to put confidence unlimited in every illustrious brother of the Cross as a true and worthy follower of the blessed Jesus;" "I swear to look on his enemies as my enemies, his friends as my friends, and to stand forth to mete out tender kindness or vengeance accordingly." "I solemnly swear, in the presence of Almighty God, that I will revenge the assassination of our worthy Master Hiram Abiff, not only on his murderers, but also on all who may betray the secrets of this degree." "I swear to take revenge on the traitors of Masonry."
It can not be necessary for your Petitioners to enter upon a formal argument in order to satisfy this enlightened Assembly that oaths like the foregoing ought not to be administered. The guarded and redundant language in which they are expressed, and the barbarous and abhorrent penalties annexed to them, were evidently designed to impose upon the mind of the candidate the necessity of entire and universal obedience to their requirements. They purport to be the injunctions of supreme power, and claim supremacy over every obligation, human or divine. In this light they were regarded and acted upon by Masons of high standing and character who were concerned in the late Masonic murder committed in the State of New York, or connected with the trials which sprang from it, and in this construction these Masons were justified and upheld by the Grand Chapter and Grand Lodge of that State. Such obligations are obviously inconsistent with our allegiance to the States and the obedience which is required by our Maker, and with those fundamental principles which constitute the basis and the cement of civil and of religious communities. The Masonic oaths lead directly to the sacrifice of duties and the commission of crimes; they cherish a feeling of selfishness and of savage revenge, instead of the spirit of the Gospel, and are the ground-work of an insidious attempt to effect the entire overthrow of our holy religion.
It is for these reasons that your Petitioners respectfully request your Honors, by a suitable legal provision, to prohibit the administration of oaths not authorized by law; and they, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
The foregoing was the petition of about fourteen hundred citizens of the State of Connecticut, and was presented to the Legislature at their session in May, 1833. By the House of Representatives it was referred to a select committee, who, having given notice of the time and place of their meeting, entered into an investigation of the subject. The sittings of the committee were open to the public, and every person who wished to hear the proceedings could attend, if he chose. Three witnesses were presented by the Petitioners, viz.: Mr. Hanks, of New York, and Messrs. Welch and Hatch, of this State, by whom they expected to substantiate the facts as set forth in the petition. In giving his testimony, Mr. Hanks read the several oaths, etc., as published in Allyn's Ritual, beginning with that of the Entered Apprentice, and pointing out, as he proceeded, any discrepancies or variations which he had practiced or known. He had taken, administered, or seen administered, the oaths, etc., in four different States of the Union viz.: New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio--had taken, himself, many degrees, and testified from personal knowledge. The testimony of Mr. Hanks was full, explicit, and particular of the first seven degrees of Masonry, and his statements were supported by those of Messrs. Welch and Hatch, as far as their experience extended.
Among the facts proved by the testimony were the following, viz.: that Freemasonry, with its oaths and penalties, is substantially the same everywhere--that the variations are slight, and, in most instances, merely verbal, and such as have resulted from unwritten or traditionary communication--that the oaths and penalties of the first seven degrees are revealed to the world and correctly published by Mr. Allyn in his Ritual, and by others--that they are so administered in the lodges, and are to be understood according to the plain, literal import of the terms in which they are expressed, and as they have been explained by seceding Masons generally--that the declaration of the Massachusetts and Connecticut adhering Masons can not be made, or signed understandingly, in consistence with truth--that in the Royal Arch oath the terms "murder and treason not excepted" are sometimes used; sometimes the expression "in all cases whatsoever," or "in all cases without exception." Some other verbal alterations were noticed, which need not be detailed here. It appeared, also, from the statements of the witnesses, that the proportion of funds disposed of for charitable purposes is extremely small, while the lodges are scenes of extravagant mirth and bacchanalian revelry, and the admission, passing, and raising of candidates occasions of much indecent sport and ridiculous merriment, accompanied with mock murders, feigned discoveries, and profane and blasphemous ceremonies and representations.
From the evidence before them the committee came to the conclusions expressed in the following
To the Honorable General Assembly of the State of Connecticut now in Session:
The committee to whom was referred the petition of Gaius Lyman and others beg leave respectfully to report that we have had the same under consideration, and inquired, by legal evidence, into the truth of the matters therein set forth, and are of the opinion that the same have been substantially proved, and are true. The committee, at the commencement of the investigation, adopted the rule, and made known the same to the petitioners, that we should attend to no evidence except such as, in our opinion, would be admissible in a court of law. The petitioners accordingly summoned before us sundry witnesses who, for aught we knew or could discover to the contrary, were men of respectability and intelligence, and upon their testimony, and upon that alone, have we come to our present result. It was proved by these witnesses that oaths similar in character (and some of them identical in phraseology) to those set forth in the petition had been, in their presence and within their hearing, repeatedly administered in this State. The committee believe the administration of such oaths to be highly improper, and that the same should be prohibited by legal enactment. Our reasons for this opinion are:
1. Because they are unauthorized by law.
2. Because they bind the person to whom they are administered to disregard and violate the law.
3. Because they are, in their natural tendency, subversive of public morals and blasphemous.
4. Because the penalties attached to the breach of them are such as are entirely unknown to our law, and are forbidden both by the Constitution of the United States and by the Constitution of this State.
First, then, these oaths are not authorized by law. In our code of statute law we have an act which points out the cases in which oaths shall or may be administered, and prescribes their several forms. In this act we find no such oaths. Indeed, we find, upon examination of this code, that although extrajudicial oaths are nowhere expressly prohibited, their unlawfulness is throughout clearly implied. And the implication is no less clear, that no persons, except those expressly authorized by law, may rightfully administer oaths. The committee would barely refer to a number of those acts in which particular persons are, on particular occasions and for particular purposes, authorized to administer oaths. In the act relative to insolvency, the commissioners are expressly authorized to administer an oath to the insolvent debtor. In the act relative to surveyors, the surveyors are authorized to administer an oath to the chairmen. In the act relating to oaths, passed in 1822, Clerks of the Senate and House of Representatives, and the Chairmen of Committees are, during the session of the Legislature, authorized to administer oaths. There are other acts of the same nature, to which it can not be necessary particularly to refer. The inference, as we think, plainly deducible from these acts, is, that all persons have not the right to administer oaths; and that those oaths only which the law prescribes may be lawfully administered. And we need only ask this Honorable Body whether the public sense of propriety would not be shocked at witnessing, in open daylight, the administration of an oath by a person not by law authorized, and in a case not by law provided for. For instance, suppose a clergy man, upon the admission of a member into his church, should require him to kneel down, place his hand upon the Bible, and then solemnly swear that he would observe all the rules and regulations of that church, upon no less penalty than to have his throat cut across, his tongue torn out by the roots, and his body buried in the rough sands of the sea; would not an involuntary shudder pervade the whole community at such a horrid exhibition; and would not our first impression be that this clergyman had violated the law, and that he ought forthwith to be prosecuted? And yet we may search our statute book in vain for any penal enactment that would reach this case. Again, suppose that any one of the charitable and benevolent societies of the present day should, on the admission of a member, compel him to swear by the ever-living God that he would obey all the laws of the society "upon no less penalty than to have his left breast torn open, his heart and vitals taken therefrom, thrown over his left shoulder, and carried into the valley of Jehoshaphat, there to become a prey to the wild beasts of the field and the vultures of the air." And, moreover, suppose this oath to be administered by some one not by law authorized to administer any oath. We need scarcely ask whether an insulted community would not, under a sense that their laws had been wantonly trampled upon, call aloud, and with earnestness, upon the ministers of justice to punish such awful and disgusting profanity. And yet the ministers of justice could afford them no aid, inasmuch as the law has not, on this subject, clothed them with any authority.
Secondly. We object to the administration of oaths like those set forth in the petition, because they bind the person receiving them to disregard and violate the law. In one of the oaths, for instance, the person receiving it swears that he will assist a companion of a certain degree, so far as to extricate him from difficulty, whether he be right or wrong. He also swears that he will keep the secrets of a companion of a certain degree without exception, or as the witnesses testified they had heard it administered, "murder and treason not excepted." Now, the committee believe it to be morally wrong, as well as inconsistent with our allegiance to the government under which we live, and a direct violation of the law, to keep secret the commission of any great and flagrant offense against the government. He who conceals treason is himself guilty of misprision of treason. He who conceals murder is himself (in some cases at least) a murderer.
Thirdly. We consider the administration of extra-judicial oaths, especially such as are set forth in said petition, improper, because in their tendency they are opposed to sound morals and are blasphemous. The obligation to assist another so far as to extricate him from difficulty, whether he be right or wrong and to conceal another's secrets, even though those secrets should involve the highest and most enormous crimes, is most assuredly opposed to the spirit of the Gospel, and to the pure system of morality therein inculcated. And to call upon the great and awful name of Jehovah to give sanction to such obligations is, in our opinion, the height of blasphemy.
Fourthly. We believe such oaths to be improper, because the penalties attached to them are such as are unknown to our law, and are opposed both to the Constitution of the United States and to the Constitution of this State. If the breach of those oaths constitute the crime of perjury, then, in our opinion, such breach should be punished as perjury in other cases is punished. By our law every person who shall commit perjury, and shall be thereof duly convicted, shall suffer imprisonment in the Connecticut State Prison not less than two nor more than five years; and this is the extent of the pains and penalties which the humanity of our law will suffer to be inflicted upon him. But to the violation of the oaths above referred to is annexed a great variety of most cruel and inhuman punishments, such as are not known in the criminal codes of any civilized nation on the earth. Among them are the tearing out of the tongue, or splitting it from tip to roots--the cutting of the throat across from ear to ear--the tearing out of the heart and vitals, and exposing them to be destroyed by wild beasts and birds of prey, etc. These penalties we believe to be forbidden by the tenth article of the amendments of the Constitution of the United States, which prohibits the infliction of all cruel and unusual punishments; and by the tenth section of the first article of the Constitution of this State, which declares that "No person shall be arrested, detained, or punished, except in cases clearly warranted by law." For these and for various other reasons which must be obvious to the good sense of this Honorable Body, we are of the opinion that the prayer of the petition ought to be granted, and we would, therefore, recommend the passage of the accompanying Bill for a public Act. All of which is respectfully submitted. Signed per order,
THOMAS BACKUS, Chairman.
3. I introduce the published renunciation of Freemasonry by Jarvis F. Hanks, of New York, 1829, and of Calvin Hatch, published 1831. Also, the published renunciation of Henry Fish, Edwin Chapman, and Bliss Welch, 1830. These are found on the cover of the tract, and are only specimens of a multitude of similar renunciations published in various books and journals.
"To the Editor of the Anti-Masonic Beacon:
"Sir: The time has come when I feel constrained, from a sense of duty to God, my neighbor, and myself, to make void my allegiance to the Masonic Institution. In thus taking leave of Freemasonry, I am not sensible of the least hostility to Masons; but act under a solemn conviction that Masonry is a wicked imposture, a refuge of lies, a substitute for the Gospel of Christ; that it is contrary to the laws of God and our country, and superior to either, in the estimation of its disciples; and lastly, that it is the most powerful and successful engine ever employed by the devil to destroy the souls of men.
"I was initiated into Masonry in 1821, and have taken eighteen degrees. My motives were curiosity and the expectation of personal advantage, while, at the same time, I was dishonest enough to profess that disinterested benevolence to my fellow-men was my object. I have been intrusted with the highest offices in the gift of a Lodge and Chapter, viz.: Worshipful Master and Most Excellent High Priest, which I acknowledge, at that time, I considered very flattering distinctions. I approved of the abduction of William Morgan as a just act of Masonry, and had I been called upon to assist, should, under the opinions I then held, have felt bound to attend the summons and obey it. I remained in favor of the Institution several months after the abduction of Morgan.
"I was convinced of the evil and folly of Masonry from an inquiry instituted in my own mind, which I was determined should be conducted privately, candidly, impartially, and, if possible, without prejudice. Under the scrutiny of the investigation I brought the Law of God contained in the Old and New Testaments, the laws of our country, the Masonic oaths (so many as I have taken) Masonic professions, and Masonic practice. I then resolved not to be influenced by the fear or favor of man, who can only 'kill the body, and after that has no more that he can do, but by the fear of God, 'who, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell.' (Luke iix.4,5.) I feel assured that any Mason, or any man, taking the same course, must arrive at the same conclusion. Yours, JARVIS F. HANKS.
"NEW YORK, February 13, 1829."
CALVIN HATCH'S RENUNCIATION OF FREEMASONRY.
"To the Church of Christ in Farmington:
"BRETHREN: Impressed with a sense of duty, I would solicit your attention, while I make the following statement of facts: Soon after I arrived at the age of twenty-one years I was induced (principally from curiosity) to become a Freemason; and before I was twenty-two, I advanced to the third, and soon after to the fourth degree of the then hidden mysteries of that Institution, and remained a tolerably regular attendant upon its stated meetings, until February, 1819; since which I have never attended any of its meetings, though often requested.
"Hoodwinked to the principles of the Institution, I felt that, as a professed follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, it was not profitable to spend my time in the lodge-room.
"Another fact I wish to notice: that for three years I was accustomed to hear prayers offered at the lodge by a man who was considered an infidel; which, to my mind, was utterly revolting.
"Within about a year my attention has been particularly called to this subject. At first, I felt that the Institution could not be bad, except by being in the hands of bad men. I satisfied myself that my withdrawment from the lodge, while Masonry was in good repute, spoke a language which could not be misunderstood; and still, I confess I felt some veneration for the institution, on account of its beneficence in relieving its afflicted members.
"Early last spring I became satisfied that one of our citizens had fallen a sacrifice to Masonic vengeance; yet, whether the institution could be charged with it, was with me a question. I found that it was thus charged by those opposed to the institution, and I hastily and rashly resolved to read no more upon the subject, because I considered the charge unjust. In the course of the last summer I had many misgivings for this decision, which closed every avenue to information. Knowing that many of my Christian brethren were grieved that any professor of the religion of Christ should remain even a nominal member of a society, the principles of which they believed were anti-christian, and opposed to the best interests of our country.
"Feeling that some deference was due to their judgment, I, early in the fall, with prayerfulness, divesting myself of all prejudice, took up the subject for investigating the principles, and sought information through the press, and soon became satisfied that I had a duty to perform which I had long neglected; and in December last, without consulting anyone, came to the conclusion that nothing short of absolving myself from all connection with the Masonic Fraternity, and from all its obligations, would be answerable to my duty as a citizen and a member of the church of Christ. Since that time I have read the proceedings of the United States Anti-Masonic Convention, disclosing facts before unknown to me, and am of the opinion that it is the bounden duty of every professor of religion who feels bound in the least by Masonic obligations to read the doings of that convention, with prayerfuless and without prejudice, before he decides upon the path of duty.
"I feel that some acknowledgments are due from me to those brethren who have been grieved by my dilatoriness upon a subject so plain and a duty so clear. And if I have thus offended any of my brethren, I pray them to forgive; and however great my sin has been, I trust I have forgiveness of my God.
"I can not dismiss the subject without beseeching my Christian brethren who remain as I have done, to examine and decide, as in the presence of God, without delay; for what we do must be done quickly. CALVIN HATCH.
"FARMINGTON, February 3, 1831."
COPY OF MY RENUNCIATION SENT BY MAIL TO NEW MILFORD, FEBRUARY 3, 1831.
"To the Officers of St. Peter's Lodge, New Milford, State of Connecticut:
"GENTLEMEN: For more than twenty years I have been a member of your lodge; and now, from a conviction that it is my duty as a citizen and a professed follower of our blessed Savior no longer to remain, even as I have been for the last twelve years, a nominal member of a society whose principles are opposed to the best interests of our country, and whose rites are, many of them, not only immoral, but a profanation of Scripture, and, consequently, opposed to the religion of the Gospel, I do, therefore, absolve myself from all its obligations whatever. CALVIN HATCH.
"FARMINGTON, December 25, 1830."
"Having been initiated some years since in the mysteries of Freemasonry, but without finding any of those advantages which were so bountifully promised by the Fraternity, and now being fully convinced that the Institution is corrupt to the very core, and used to promote ends tending to subvert our free institutions, we deem it our duty publicly to renounce all obligations to the 'Craft,' believing ourselves to be freed from its oaths, inasmuch as no man can bind himself to do anything contrary to the allegiance he owes to his country, or the duties he owes to his Maker.
"HENRY FISH, Salisbury, Master Mason. "EDWIN CHAPMAN, Windsor, M. Mason. "BLISS WELCH, Chatham, Royal Arch.
"Dated at HARTFORD, Feb. 4 1830."
EXAMINATION OF THE BOOKS REVEALING FREEMASONRY
HAVING established the fact that Bernard in his "light on Masonry," William Morgan, Allyn, Richardson, and others, all of whom substantially agree, have truly revealed Freemasonry as it was at that time, I will now enter upon an examination of some of these books, assuming as I must, or abandon all idea that any thing can ever be proved by human testimony, that they contain a veritable revelation of Freemasonry.
After I have examined these books, and learned and shown what Freemasonry was at their date, I shall consider the question of its having undergone any material change since that date, and also whether it can be so changed as to be an innocent institution and still retain the distinguishing characteristics of Freemasonry.
That I may do no injustice to any one, I shall not hold Masons responsible for oaths and degrees which are above and beyond them and which they have not taken and of which they have no knowledge. The question of their moral and responsible relation to the institution, as a whole, will receive notice in another place. At present I shall hold Masons responsible for those oaths, principles, teachings and degrees of which they have knowledge.
In these numbers I need only to notice a few points in the oaths of Masons, and I recommend all persons to obtain the books in which their oaths, ceremonies, and secrets are fully revealed. The first of their oaths is that of an Entered Apprentice. These oaths are administered in the following manner: The candidate stands on his knees, with his hands on the Holy Bible. The Worshipful Master pronounces the oath in short sentences, and the candidate repeats after him. The oath of the Entered Apprentice is as follows: "I, A.B., of my own free will and accord, in presence of Almighty God and this worshipful lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, dedicated to God and held forth to the holy order of St. John, do hereby and hereon most sincerely promise and swear, that I will always hail, ever conceal, and never reveal any part or parts, art or arts, point or points of the secrets, arts, and mysteries of ancient Freemasonry, which I have received, am about to receive, or may hereafter be instructed in, to any person or persons in the known world, except it be a true and lawful brother Mason, or within the body of a just and lawfully constituted lodge of such; and not unto him or unto them whom I shall hear so to be, but unto him and them only whom I shall find so to be after strict trial and due examination, or lawful information.
"Furthermore, do I promise and swear, that I will not write, print, stamp, stain, hew, cut, carve, indent, paint, or engrave it on anything movable or immovable under the whole canopy of Heaven, whereby or whereon the least letter, figure, character, mark, stain, shadow, or resemblance may become legible or intelligible to myself or to any other person in the known world, whereby the secrets of Masonry may be unlawfully obtained through my unworthiness. To all of which I do most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, without the least equivocation, mental reservation, or self-evasion of mind in me whatever; binding myself under no less penalty than to have my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by the roots, and my body buried in the rough sands of the sea at low water mark, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours. So help me God, and keep me steadfast in the due performance of the same."--Light on Masonry, 8th edition, page 27.
Upon this oath I remark:
1. That the administration and taking of it are in direct violation of both the law and gospel of God. Jesus prohibits the taking of oaths. Mat. V. 34. "But I say unto you swear not at all." It is generally conceded that He intended only to forbid the taking of extra judicial oaths. That He did formally and positively forbid the taking, and of course the administering, of all oaths not regularly administered for judicial and governmental purposes, is, I believe, universally admitted. Here then we find that in the first step in Freemasonry the express command of Christ is set at nought.
2. The administration and taking of this oath is a taking of the name of God in vain and is therefore an awful profanity. Exod. xx: 7: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." Professing Christian Freemasons, do you hear and remember this, and are you aware that in taking or administering this oath you take the name of God in vain and that He will not hoId you guiltless? Do you also remember that whenever you are present aiding, abetting, and consenting to the administering, and taking of this or any other Masonic oath you are guilty of violating the express command of Christ above quoted, and also the express prohibition of the lawgiver at Sinai? And yet you can see nothing unchristian in Freemasonry.
3. This oath pledges the candidate to keep whatever secrets they may communicate to him. But, for aught he knows, it may be unlawful to keep them. This oath is a snare to his soul. It must be wicked to thus commit himself on oath. The spirit of God's word forbids it.
4. The administrator of this oath had just assured the candidate that there was nothing in it inconsistent with his duty to God or to man. How is it, professed Christian, that you did not remember that you had no right to take an oath at all under such circumstances and for such reasons. Why did you not inquire of the Master by what authority he was about to administer an oath, and by what authority he expected and required you to take it? Why did you not ask him if God would hold him guiltless if he administered an oath in His name, and you guiltless if you took the oath. And when you have seen this or any other Masonic oath administered why have you not rebuked the violation of God's law and left the lodge?
5. Why did the Master assure the candidate that there was nothing in the oath contrary to his obligations to God or man, and then instantly proceed to violate the laws of both God and man and to require of the candidate the same violation of law, human and divine?
6. The penalty for violating this oath is monstrous, barbarous, savage, and is utterly repugnant to all laws of morality, religion or decency. Binding myself "under no less a penalty than to have my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by the roots, and my body buried in the sands of the sea at low-water mark, etc." Now, has any man a right to incur such a penalty as this?
I say again" such a penalty is savage, barbarous, unchristian, inhuman, abominable. It should be here remarked that in this oath is really found the virus of all that follows in Freemasonry. The candidate is sworn to keep secret everything that is to revealed to him in Freemasonry of which as yet he knows absolutely nothing. This is frequently repeated in the obligations that follow.
It will be observed that the candidate says, "to all of which I do solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, without the least equivocation, mental reservation, or self-evasion of mind in me, whatever." Richardson, who published the Freemason's Monitor in 1860, on the 4th page of his preface, says of Masonry: :The oaths and obligations were then undoubtedly binding (that is when Freemasonry was first established), not only for the protection of the members but for the preservation of the very imperfect arts and sciences of that period. To suppose these oaths mean anything now is simply absurd." What! How is this compatible with what is said in this first oath of Masonry, and hence binding through every degree of Masonry. "ALL THIS, I MOST SOLEMNLY AND SINCERELY PROMISE AND SWEAR, WITHOUT THE LEAST EQUIVOCATION, MENTAL RESERVATION, OR SELF-EVASION OF MIND IN ME WHATEVER." And now we are told by one of the highest Masonic authorities, that, to suppose that Masonic oaths mean anything in these days, is simply absurd. THEN, SURELY THEY ARE BLASPHEMY.
PASS over the second degree of Masonry, the oath of which, in substance, is similar to that in the first, and in this number will consider the oath, or obligation of a Master Mason. I do not notice the ridiculous manner in which the candidate for the different degrees, is dressed and conducted into the lodge. The scenes through which they pass, are most humiliating and ridiculous, and cannot fail to be so regarded by all who will read the books in which they are described. I quote from the eighth edition of "Light on Masonry," by EIder David Bernard, published by W.J. Shuey, Dayton, Ohio. The obligation of the Master's degree will be found on the seventy-third and seventy-fourth pages of this work, and is as follows: "I, A.B., of my own free will and accord, in the presence of Almighty God, and this worshipful Lodge of Master Masons, erected to God, and dedicated to the holy order of St. John, do hereby and hereon, most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, in addition to my former obligations, that I will not give the degree of Master Mason to any one of an inferior degree, nor to any one in the known world, except it be to a true and lawful brother or brethren Master Mason, or within the body of a just and lawfully constituted lodge of such; and not unto him nor unto them whom I shall hear so to be, but unto him and them only whom I shall find so to be, after strict trial and due examination, or lawful information received. Furthermore, do I promise and swear, that I will not give the Master's word which I shall hereafter receive neither in the lodge nor out of it, except it be on the five points of fellowship, and then not above my breath. Furthermore, do I promise and swear, that I will not give the grand hailing sign of distress, except I am in real distress, or for the benefit of the craft when at work; or should I ever see that sign given, or hear the word accompanying it and the person who gave it, appearing to be in distress, I will fly to his relief at the risk of my life, should there be a greater probability of saving his life than of losing my own. Furthermore, do I promise and swear, that I will not wrong this lodge, nor a brother of this degree, to the value of one cent, knowingly, myself, nor suffer it to be done by others, if in my power to prevent. Furthermore, do I promise and swear, that I will not be at the initiating, passing, and raising a candidate at one communication, without a regular dispensation from the Grand Lodge for the same. Furthermore, do I promise and swear, that I will not be at the initiating, passing, or raising a candidate in a clandestine lodge, I knowing it to be such. Furthermore, do I promise and swear, that I will not be at the initiating of an old man in dotage, a young man in nonage, an atheist, irreligious libertine, idiot, madman, hermaphrodite, nor woman. Furthermore, do I promise and swear, that I will not speak evil of a brother Master Mason, neither behind his back, nor before his face, but will apprise him of all approaching danger if in my power. Furthermore, do I promise and swear, that I will not violate the chastity of a Master Mason's wife, mother, sister, or daughter, I knowing them to be such, nor suffer it to be done by others, if in my power to prevent it. Furthermore, do I promise and swear, that I will support the constitution of the Grand Lodge of the State of -------- , under which this lodge is held, and conform to all the by-laws, rules and regulations of this, or any other lodge, of which I may at any time hereafter become a member. Furthermore, .do I promise and swear, that I will obey all regular signs, summons, or tokens, given, handed, sent, or thrown to me, from the hand of another brother Master Mason, or from the body of a just and lawfully constituted lodge of such, provided it be within the length of my cable tow. Furthermore, do I promise and swear, that a Master Mason's secrets, given to me in charge as such, and I knowing them to be such, shall remain as secure and inviolable in my breast as in his own, murder and treason excepted, and they left to my own election. Furthermore, do I promise and swear, that I will go on a Master Mason's errand whenever required, even should I have to go barefoot and bareheaded, if within the length of my cable tow. Furthermore, do I promise and swear, that I will always remember a brother Master Mason when on my knees, offering up my devotions to Almighty God. Furthermore, do I promise and swear, that I will be aiding and assisting all poor, indigent Master Masons, their wives and orphans, wheresoever disposed around the globe, as far as in my power without injuring myself or family materially. Furthermore, do I promise and swear, that if any part of this solemn oath or obligation be omitted at this time that I will hold myself amenable thereto, whenever informed. To all which I do most solemnly promise and swear, with a fixed and steady purpose of mind in me, to keep and perform the same, binding myself under no less penalty than to have my body severed in two in the midst, and divided to the north and south, my bowels burnt to ashes in the center and the ashes scattered before the four winds of heaven, that there might not the least track or trace of remembrance remain among men and Masons of so vile and perjured a wretch as I should be, were I ever to prove willfully guilty of violating any part of this my solemn oath or obligation of a Master Mason. So help me God, and keep me steadfast in the due performance of the same."
Upon this oath I remark:
1. The first sentence is both profane and false. The Master instructs the kneeling candidate with his hand on God's Holy Word to affirm, and the candidate does affirm that the lodge in which he is kneeling is erected to God and dedicated to the holy order of St. John. Remember this is said in and of every Master Masons' lodge. But is this true? No, indeed, it is mere mockery. The words are a mere profane form. Does not every Freemason know this?
2. This, and all the following oaths of Masonry, are administered and taken as additions to all the previous oaths which the candidate has taken. (See the oath.) All that is wicked and profane in the former oaths is indorsed and reaffirmed in this and in every succeeding oath. Thus Freemasons proceed to pile oath upon oath in a manner most shocking and revolting. And is this a Christian institution? Is this obedience to Him who has said "swear not at all?"
3. The grand hailing sign of distress mentioned in this oath, consists in raising both hands to heaven in the attitude of supplication. The words accompanying this sign are, "0 Lord, my God, is there no help for the widow's son?" The candidate is told by the Master that this attitude was taken and these words were used by Solomon when he was informed of the murder of Hiram Abiff. Of this, "Light on Masonry" will give the reader full information. This whole story of the murder of Hiram Abiff is a profane falsehood, as I shall more fully show in another place. Hiram Abiff was never murdered. Solomon never gave any such sign, or uttered any such words. The whole story is false; both the grand hailing sign of distress, and the accompanying words, are a profane mockery, and an insult to God. But what is the thing promised in this part of a Master Mason's oath? Observe, the candidate swears. 'should I ever see that sign given, or hear the word accompanying it, and the person who gave it, appearing to be in distress, I will fly to his relief at the risk of my life, should there be a greater probability of saving his life than of losing my own" Observe, it matters not what is the cause of the distress in which a Master Mason may be--if he has committed a crime, and is likely to be arrested, or has been arrested; if he is imprisoned, or likely to be imprisoned; if he is on trial in a court of justice and likely to be convicted, and a Master Mason is on the bench as a judge, or on the jury, or called as a witness; or is a Master Mason a sheriff and has the prisoner in custody; or is he a constable, having charge of the jury to whom the case is to be submitted; or is he a prosecuting attorney, appointed by the government to prosecute him for his crime, and secure his conviction--in any of these cases, the prisoner giving the grand hailing sign of distress, binds, by a most solemn oath, the judge, jurymen, sheriff, constable, witness, attorney, if a Master Mason, to seek to release him, at the hazard of his life. All who are acquainted with the practical results of this section of the Master's oath, as they appeared in the investigations connected with the murder of William Morgan, are aware that Master Masons kept this oath inviolate, when efforts were made to convict the kidnappers and murderers, insomuch that it was found impossible to execute the laws. Cases are reported as having repeatedly occurred in the administration of justice, where this hailing sign of distress has prevailed to rescue the guilty from the hand of justice. In another part of this oath, you will observe, the candidate swears, that he will apprise a brother Master Mason of approaching danger, if within his power. This binds a Master Mason to give a criminal notice, if he understands that he is about to be arrested. If the sheriff has a writ for the arrest of a brother Master Mason, this oath lays him under an obligation not to arrest him, but to give him notice, that if he does not keep out of the way, he shall be obliged to arrest him. If the magistrate who issued the writ is a Master Mason, his oath obliges him to give the criminal Master Mason warning, so that he may evade the execution of the writ. Reader, get and read the Pamphlet Published by Judge Whitney, of Belvidere, Illinois. It can be had, I believe, at the bookstores in this town. This pamphlet will give you an account of the trial of Judge Whitney, who was Master of a lodge, before the Grand Lodge of Illinois. It will show you how completely this oath may prevail to obstruct the whole course of justice, and render the execution of the law impossible. If a Master Mason is suspected of a crime, and his case comes before a justice of the peace who is a Master Mason, or before a grand jury upon which there is a Master Mason, or before a court or petit jury in which are Master Masons, if they keep inviolate their oath, it is impossible to reach the execution of the law. Furthermore, if there be Master Masons in the community, who hear of the guilt and danger of a brother Master Mason, they are sworn to give him warning. It is no doubt for this reason, that Masons try to secure amongst themselves all the Officers connected with the administration of justice. At the time of the murder of Morgan, it was found that to such an extent were these offices in the hands of Freemasons that the courts were entirely impotent. I quote the following from "Stearns' Letters on Freemasonry." page 127: "In speaking of the murder of William Morgan, of the justice of it, and of the impossibility of punishing his murderers, a justice of the peace in Middlebury, a sober, respectable man, and a Mason, said, 'that a man had a right to pledge his life,' and then observed: 'What can you do? What can a rat do with a lion? Who are your judges? who are your sheriffs? and who will be your jurymen?'" It is perfectly plain that if Freemasons mean anything by this oath, as they have given frequent evidence that they do, this obligation must be an effectual bar to the administration of justice wherever Freemasons are numerous. No wonder, therefore, that dishonest men among them are very anxious greatly to multiply their numbers. In the days of William Morgan, they had so multiplied their numbers that it was found impossible, and in these days Freemasons have become so numerous, that in many places it will be found impossible to execute the criminal laws. Even in commercial transactions where Freemasons are parties to a suit, it will be found impossible to secure the ends of justice. Let not Freemasons complain of this assertion
4. You will observe that in this oath the candidate also swears, that "a Master Mason's secrets, given to me in charge as such," * * "shall remain as secure and inviolate in my breast as in his own, murder and treason excepted, and they left to my own election." Now, this section of the oath is very broad and may be understood to cover secrets of every description. But to put it beyond all doubt whether crimes are to be kept secret, murder and treason are excepted, showing that the oath has respect particularly to concealing the crimes of a Master Mason. He may commit Theft, Robbery, Arson, Adultery, Rape, or any crime whatever, Murder and Treason excepted, and however well the commission of these crimes may be known to a Master Mason, if a Master Mason has committed them, he is under oath to conceal them. Now, is this right? Is this consistent with duty, either to God or man? Must not this often prove a fatal bar to the detection of crime, and the administration of justice? Certainly it must, or Freemasons must very frequently violate their solemn oath. If Freemasons deny this, in the denial they maintain that Masons care nothing for their oaths. It is self-evident that this Master's oath is either a conspiracy against the execution of law, or Master Masons care nothing for the solemnity of an oath. Gentlemen, take which horn of the dilemma you please! If these oaths are kept inviolate the course of justice must be effectually obstructed. If they are not kept, Master Masons are guilty of false swearing, and that continually. Which shall we believe to be true? Do Master Masons continually treat this solemn oath with contempt, or, do they respect their oaths, conceal the crimes of Master Masons, and fly to their rescue if they are detected and likely to be punished? Let not Master Masons, or any body else, exclaim: "Oh! these oaths are very innocent things! Crimes will be detected, criminals will be punished, for Masons care nothing for their oaths." Indeed! And does this excuse them? It is only by being guilty of false swearing that they can fail to thoroughly obstruct the course of justice. They are certainly under the most solemn oath to do that, in case of crime committed by a Master Mason, which will effectually defeat the execution of law. Let it be then particularly observed, that in every community where there are Master Masons, they either compose a class of conspirators against the administration of criminal law, and the execution of justice; or, they are a class of false swearers who care nothing for the solemnity of an oath. Let this not be regarded as a light thing. It is a most serious and important matter, and that which I have stated is neither false nor extravagant. It is a literal and solemn truth. Let it be well pondered. There is the oath; read it for yourself; mark its different points and promises, and you will see there is no escape from these conclusions.
5. The candidate in this oath swears, "I will not wrong this lodge, nor a brother of this degree to the value of one cent, knowingly myself, nor suffer it to be done by others, if in my power to prevent." Now observe, he makes this promise "under no less penalty, than to have my body severed in two in the midst, and divided to the north and south, my bowels burnt to ashes in the center, and scattered before the four winds of heaven, that there might not the least track or trace of remembrance remain among men or Masons of so vile or perjured a wretch as I should be, were I ever to prove willfully guilty of violating any part of this my solemn oath or obligation as Master Mason. So help me God, and keep me steadfast in the due performance of the same." Now, observe, one part of this Master's obligation is that which I have just quoted, that he will not wrong the lodge, nor a brother of this degree to the value of one cent. For doing this, he solemnly agrees to incur the awful penalty just above written. Is this just, as between man and man? Has any man a right to take such an oath under such penalties? Christian Freemason, can you see nothing wrong in this? Is not this profane, abominable, monstrous?
6. Observe, upon the same penalty, the candidate proceeds: "Furthermore do I promise and swear, that I will not be at the initiating, passing, and raising a candidate at one communication without a regular dispensation from the Grand Lodge for the same." Observe, then, to do this is so great a crime among Masons as to incur this awful penalty. The candidate proceeds: "Furthermore do I promise and swear, that I will not be at the initiating of an old man in his dotage, a young man in his nonage, an atheist, irreligious libertine, idiot, madman, hermaphrodite, nor woman." To do this, observe, is so great a crime among Masons as to incur the awful penalty attached to this oath. And this is Masonic benevolence! It professes to be a saving institution, and excludes the greater part of mankind from its benefits! The candidate proceeds: "Furthermore do I promise and swear, that I will not speak evil of a brother Master Mason, neither behind his back, nor before His face." Now, observe again, to do this is to incur this awful penalty, for this is one part of the oath. But who does not know that Freemasons violate this part of the oath, as well as that which relates to wronging each other, almost continually? The candidate proceeds: "Furthermore do I promise and swear, that I will not violate the chastity of a Master Mason's wife, sister, or daughter, I knowing them to be such, nor suffer it to be done by others, if in my power to prevent." But why not promise this in respect to all women? If this oath had included all women., it would have the appearance of justice and benevolence, but as it is, it is only an odious partiality, and does not imply even the semblance of virtue. The candidate proceeds: "Furthermore do I promise and swear, that I will support the constitution of the Grand Lodge of the State of--------, under which this lodge is held, and conform to all the by-laws, rules, and regulations of this or any other lodge of which I may, at any time hereafter, become a member? Observe that to violate this part of the obligation is to incur the awful penalty attached to this oath. The candidate proceeds: "Furthermore do I promise and swear, that I will obey all regular signs, summonses, or tokens given, handed, sent, or thrown to me from the hand of a brother Master Mason, or from the body of a just and lawfully constituted lodge of such, provided it be within the length of my cable tow." This, indeed, puts a rope around the neck of every offending brother. He is under oath to answer any sign or summons given him from a brother Master Mason, or from a lodge. If he refuses or neglects to respond to the summons, he incurs the penalty, and is liable to have it executed upon him. The cable tow is literally a rope of several yards in length, but in a Master's Iodge is understood to represent three miles. In the degrees of Knighthood the distance is reckoned to be forty miles. This is fearful, and the responding to such summonses has, doubtless, cost many a man his life, by placing him in the hands of an exasperated lodge. The candidate proceeds: "Furthermore do I promise and swear, that I will go on a Master Mason's errand, whenever required, even should I have to go barefoot and bareheaded, if within the length of my cable tow." Now, failure to do this incurs the awful penalty of this obligation. A Master Mason's errand! What errand? From the words it would seem any errand, however trivial it may be; every errand, however frequently, a Master Mason might wish to send another on an errand. If it does not mean this, what does it mean? But whatever it means a failure incurs the whole penalty. The candidate proceeds: "Furthermore do I promise and swear, that I will always remember a brother Master Mason when on my knees offering up my devotions to Almighty God." But do Masons do this? In secret, family, public, social prayer, do they do this? Professed Christian Mason, do you do it? If not, you are guilty of false swearing every time you omit it. What! on your knees offering up your devotions to Almighty God, and guilty, at that very moment, of violating a solemn oath, by neglecting to pray for Master Masons! Remember, to fail in this respect incurs the awful penalty attached to this obligation. Now comes that part of the obligation upon which they lay so much stress as proving Masonry to be a benevolent institution: "Furthermore do I promise and swear, that I will be aiding and assisting all poor, indigent Master Masons, their wives and orphans, wherever disposed round the globe, as far as in my power, without injuring myself or family materially." In another place I shall show that there is no benevolence whatever in doing this, as every candidate pays into the public treasury money to compose a fund for the supply of the wants of the families of indigent Freemasons, simply upon the principle of a mutual insurance company. At present I simply remark that a failure to do this incurs the whole terrible penalty of this obligation. The candidate concludes his promises by saying: "Furthermore do I promise and swear, that if any part of this solemn oath and obligation be omitted at this time, I will hold myself amenable thereto, whenever informed."
Some months since I received a letter from a Master Mason who was manifestly a conscientious man. He informed me that he had been reading my letters in the Independent, on Freemasonry--that his mind was so distressed, in view of his Masonic obligations and relations, that he was wholly unable to attend to business, and that he should become deranged, if he could not escape from these entanglements----that he must and would renounce Freemasonry at all hazards. When he took the oath of the Master's degree the clause pledging him to keep a Master Mason's secrets, murder and treason excepted, was omitted, so that he was not aware of that clause until afterward. This clause, however, that I last quoted, bound him fast. No wonder that this conscientious man was frightened when he came to understand his true position. In administering this long oath to any conscientious man, any part of it that would shock a tender conscience may be omitted, and yet the candidate is pledged to hold himself amenable to that part or those parts, that have been omitted, whenever informed of the same. This is a trap and a snare into which many a tender conscience has been betrayed. And is this an oath which a Christian man may take, or any other man, without sin? Can any man administer this oath, or take it, or be voluntarily present, aiding and abetting, and be guiltless of awful profanity and blasphemy? I have dwelt the longer upon this oath, because probably two-thirds of the Masons in the United States have gone no further than this degree. Now, is it not perfectly plain that a man who has taken this oath ought not to be intrusted with the office of a magistrate, a sheriff, marshal or constable? That he is not to be credited as a witness where a Master Mason is a party? That he ought not to be allowed a place on a jury where a Master Mason is a party? And, in short, that he can not safely be intrusted with any office of honor or profit, either in Church or State? Is it not plain that a Master's Lodge, in any community, is a dangerous institution, and that the whole country is interested in the utter suppression of such an institution?
Let not this opinion be regarded as too severe. The fact is that Freemasons intend to fulfill their vows, or they do not. If Master Masons intend to do what they swear to do, is it right to intrust them with the execution of the laws? If they do not intend to fulfill their vows, of what avail will their oath of office be, since they have no regard for the solemnity of an oath? In every view of the subject it is plain that such men ought not to be trusted. Take either horn of the dilemma, it amounts to the same thing. I shall have more to say on this subject hereafter.
ROYAL ARCH DEGREE
The fourth degree of Masonry is that of "Mark Master." The fifth is that of "Past Master." The sixth is that of "Most Excellent Master." In these the same points, in substance, are sworn to as in the Master's degree. In each succeeding oath the candidate recognizes and reaffirms all of his past obligations. In nearly every obligation the candidates swear implicit allegiance to the Grand Lodge of the United States and to the Grand Lodge of the State under which his lodge holds its charter. The candidate swears, also, that he will never be present at the raising of any person to a higher degree who has not regularly taken each and all of the previous or lower degrees. In the first degree secresy alone is enjoined. After this, additionaI clauses are introduced at every step, until the oaths of some of the higher degrees spread over several pages. They nearly all pledge pecuniary help to poor, indigent, worthy Masons, and their families, as far as they can without material injury to themselves and families. They never promise to deny themselves or families any comfort or luxury for the purpose of helping indigent worthy sons or their families. They never promise in their oaths to give pecuniary aid to any but Masons and their families. These families, by their head, have paid into the Masonic fund the amount that entitles them to aid, in case of pecuniary want, on the principle of mutual insurance against want.
All Masons above the third, or Master's degree, are sworn to keep inviolate the secrets of a brother, murder and treason excepted, up to the seventh, or Royal Arch degree. In the oath of this degree the candidate, as we shall see, swears to keep all the secrets of companion of this degree, murder and treason not excepted. All Masons of and above this degree are solemnly bound to do this. The same is true of all the points sworn to in this obligation which we proceed to examine.
In reviewing this and the degrees above it, I shall not need to give them in full, as they are substantially and almost verbatim alike, except as new points are added as the candidate goes on from one degree to another. The Royal Arch degree is taken in a lodge called a chapter. A Mason of this degree is called a companion, while in the lower degrees Masons address each other as brothers. After swearing to the same points contained in previously taken oaths, the kneeling candidate, with hands on the Holy Bible, proceeds: "I furthermore promise and swear, that I will aid and assist a companion Royal Arch Mason when engaged in any difficulty, and espouse his cause so far as to extricate him from the same, if within my power, whether he be right or wrong.
Here, then we have a class of men sworn, under most frightful penalties, to espouse the cause of a companion so far as to extricate him from any difficulty, to the extent of their power, whether he is right or wrong. How can such a man be safely intrusted with any office connected with the administration of the law? He means to abide by and perform this solemn oath, or he does not. It he does, will he not inevitably defeat the due execution of law, if intrusted with office connected with it? Suppose he is a magistrate, a sheriff, marshal, or constable, will he not be able to prevent the execution of justice, if he does all within his power, as he is solemnly sworn to do? If on a jury, if sworn as a witness, how can he be trusted, if he fulfills his Masonic vows?
But suppose he does not intend to abide by and fulfill his vows, but still adheres and does not renounce them; suppose he still recognizes their obligation, but fails to fulfill them, is he a man to be trusted with an office? If he does not respect and fulfill his Masonic oaths, the validity of which he acknowledges by continued adherence, of what avail will be his oath of office? Of what use will it be for him to swear that he will faithfully execute the laws, if he has taken the oath of this degree, and either fulfills or fails to fulfill it? If he fulfills it, he surely will not execute the law upon a companion Royal Arch Mason. If he still adheres to, but fails to fulfill his oath, he does not respect the solemnity of an oath, and ought not to be intrusted with an office. If he publicly, sincerely, and penitently renounces his Masonic oath as unlawful, profane, and not binding, he may be trusted with office, but while he adheres he must violate either his oath of office, or his Masonic oath, whenever the accused is a Royal Arch Mason, and, indeed, whenever such an one is involved in any legal difficulty.
I beseech the public not to think this severe. There is, in fact, no third way. Take either horn of the dilemma and it amounts to the same thing. To treat this lightly, as some are disposed to do, or to get over it under cover of the plea of charity, is worse than nonsense; it is wicked to ignore the truth, and proceed as if there were no great wrong in this case. There is great wrong, great sin, and great danger in this case--danger to both Church and State, danger to the souls of men thus situated. I beseech this class of men to consider this matter, and renounce this position. If they will not, I see neither justice nor safety in allowing such men to hold an office in Church or State.
But what is the moral character of a man who espouses the cause, and does all he can to rescue a criminal from the hands of justice
I answer, he is a partaker of his guilt. He is truly an accessory after the fact. This oath does not contemplate the professional services of an advocate employed to defend an accused person in a court of justice. But even in this case an advocate has no right to defeat the due administration of justice, and turn the criminal loose to prey upon society. When he does this he sins both against God and society. It is his business to see that no injustice is done the accused; to secure for him a fair and impartial trial, but not to rescue him, if guilty. An advocate who would "espouse the cause" of a criminal "so far as to extricate him from his difficulty, whether right or wrong," would deserve the execration of both God and man.
The candidate in this degree proceeds, as follows: "Also, that I will promote a companion Royal Arch Mason's political preferment in preference to another of equal qualifications." Bernard, who has taken this and many other Masonic oaths, says, in his "Light on Masonry," in a foot-note, that this clause of the oath is, in some chapters, made a distinct point in the obligation, thus: "I furthermore promise and swear, that I will vote for a companion Royal Arch Mason before any other of equal qualifications," and in some chapters both are left out of the obligation. Upon this clause I remark:
1. Freemasons deny that Freemasonry has anything to do with any man's political opinions, or actions, provided he be not the enemy of his country. From this obligation, or oath, he can judge of the truth or falsehood of this profession. Again, who does not know that thousands of the Southern rebels were and are accepted Freemasons. How does this fact comport with the pretense that a Freemason must be loyal to the government under which he lives. In the higher degrees they swear to be loyal and true to their government, but are the Southern Masons so?
2. We see why such efforts are made to increase the number of Royal Arch Masons, and the reasons held out to induce political aspirants to become Royal Arch Masons. It is said, I suppose truly, that Royal Arch Masons are multiplying by scores of thousands in this country. It is, beyond doubt, the design of their leaders to control the elections and secure the offices throughout the country. From letters received from reliable parties I learn that in some localities Masons avow this design. But whether they avow or deny it, this oath unmistakably reveals their design. Why is this clause found in this oath? It is presumption and foolhardiness to ignore this plain revelation of their design to control the government, secure the offices, and have everything their own way. If the public can not be aroused to look this conspiracy in the face, and rise up and put it down in time, they will surely find, too late, that their hands are tied, and that virtual slavery or a bloody revolution awaits us. Our children and grandchildren will reap the bitter fruits of our own folly and credulity. What do Freemasons mean by this oath? They either intend to keep it, or not to keep it. If they mean to do as they have promised under the most solemn oath to do, then Freemasonry, at least Freemasonry of this and all the higher degrees, is a political conspiracy to secure the offices and the control of the government. I say Freemasonry of this and of all the higher degrees, for be it remembered that all Masons of and above this degree have taken the oath of this degree. I quote the following from an able editorial in the Albany Evening Journal Extra, October 27, 1831: "An addition was made to the Master's oath, in the northern part of this State, a few years since, by Gov. Pitcher, who introduced it from Vermont.
It was to the effect that, in voting for officers, preference should be given to a Mason over another candidate of equal qualifications. Very respectable testimony of the fact was published very generally in the newspapers, about two years since, and has never, to the knowledge of the writer, been contradicted or questioned. It is admitted that this obligation, in terms, has not generally been administered (that is, in a Master's Lodge), but it is insisted that if the principle be once admitted that men in our country may band together in secret conclave, for any purpose not known to the laws, and may bind themselves under obligations involving the penalty of death for their transgressions, they may as well pledge themselves to any new object, or purpose, as to those for which they have already associated. There is no limit to the extent of such associations, if they are allowed at all. The principle itself is radically wrong. But independent of any positive obligation, the very creation of such artificial ties of brotherhood, the strength which they acquire by frequent repetition and by the associations of the fraternity, necessarily produce a clannish attachment which will ordinarily exhibit itself in the most important concerns of life in bestowing business and patronage on a brother, and in elevating him to office and rank which will reflect back honor upon the order to which he belongs. The inevitable result, therefore, of such institutions is to give one class of citizens unequal and unjust advantages over those who are not of the favored order. And when we find this natural result hastened and strengthened by obligations, under the most awful penalties, to fly to the relief of a brother, to espouse his cause, whether right or wrong, and to conceal his crimes, have not the rest of the community a right to say to these exclusives, these privileged orders, "we will not submit to your usurpations, and until you restore your fellowcitizens to equal rights and privileges with you, we will not give you our votes or trust you with public office." To these remarks I fully subscribe. But I return to another clause of this oath. The candidate proceeds: "Furthermore do I promise and swear, that a companion Royal Arch Mason's secrets, given me in charge as such, and I knowing them to be such, shall remain as secure and inviolable in my breast as in his own, murder and treason not excepted." Bernard says, in a foot-note, "In some chapters this is administered, 'All the secrets of a companion, without exception.'" Upon this clause I remark:
1. That Freemasonry waxes worse and worse as you ascend from the lower to the higher degrees. It will be remembered that in the Master's oath murder and treason were excepted in the oath of secresy. In this degree murder and treason are not excepted. Now, as all Masons who take the degrees above this have also taken this oath, it follows that all that army of Freemasons, composed of Royal Arch Masons, and all who have taken the degrees above this are under the most solemn oath to conceal each other's crimes, without exception. And what an institution is this, to be allowed existence under any government, especially under a republican form of government? Is it safe to have such a set of men scattered broadcast over all the United States? Let us look this thing squarely in the face. It can not be honestly denied that Royal Arch Masons take this oath. But a short time since a minister of the Gospel of my acquaintance was confronted with this oath, and he did not deny having taken it. Now, if all that vast army of Masons who have taken this oath intend to do as they swear to do, what must be the result? Scores and hundreds of thousands of men, scattered broadcast over the whole land, are pledged by the most solemn oath, and under the penalty of death, to conceal each other's crimes, without exception. Are such men to be safely intrusted with office, either in Church or State? And must not a government be on the verge of ruin when such a conspiracy is allowed to multiply its numbers at such a frightful rate as it is doing, at this time, in this country? Will the people of the United States have the foolhardiness to ignore the crime and danger of this conspiracy against their liberty? Or will they good-naturedly assume that Freemasons mean no such thing? Why, then, is this oath? Will they, under the cover of mock charity, assume that these men will not cover up each other's crimes? What kind of charity is this? Is it charity to believe that a set of men will lie, under oath, as all Freemasons above the degree of Fellow Craft must do, if they do not conceal each other's crimes? Again, what right have Freemasons, themselves, to complain of a want of charity in those who regard them as conspirators against good government? Why, what shall we do? If they do not repent of, and renounce, these oaths, we must either regard them as conspirators against government, or as men who will lie, under the solemnity of a most awful oath. The gentlemen must choose which horn of the dilemma they will take. On the one hand, they are sworn conspirators against the execution of the criminal laws; on the other, they are a class of men that do not regard the solemnity of an oath. This is the exact truth, and it is folly and madness to ignore it. Freemasons, therefore, have no right to complain of us, if we take them at their word, and believe that they mean to do what they have sworn they will do. They demand charity of us. Is it not charitable to believe that they intend to fulfill such solemn vows, made, and often repeated, under such terrible sanctions ? The candidate of this degree concludes by saying: "Binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my skull smote off, and my brains exposed to the scorching rays of the sun, should I ever, knowingly, or willfully, violate or transgress any part of this, my solemn oath or obligation as a Royal Arch Mason. So help me, God, and keep me steadfast in the performance of the same." Now, upon this awful sanction, the candidate swears that he will not wrong the chapter, or a companion of this degree, out of anything, or suffer it to be done by others, if in his power to prevent it. Men in certain business partnerships and relations, whose partners have been Royal Arch Masons, have been influenced to take this degree to prevent their being wronged by their Masonic partners. On the best authority, I have been informed of one case of this kind, recently, and it turned out that while the one who was thus induced to take this degree was in the army, fighting the battles of his country, his Royal Arch partner deliberately cheated him out of several thousand dollars. What shall we say to, what shall we do with, these men who swarm in every part of this country, and who are thus banded together to espouse each other's cause and to extricate each other from any difficulty, whether they are right or wrong, to conceal each other's crimes, to vote each other into office, and the like? Can wholesome society continue to exist under the influence of such an institution as this?