Articles in THE INDEPENDENT of NEW YORK
CHARLES G. FINNEY
BY REV. CHARLES G. FINNEY
NEW YORK, THURSDAY, APRIL 16, 1868
IN this number I must remind your readers of some facts that occurred about forty years ago; which, as matters of history, though well-known to thousands of your readers, are probably unknown to the great majority of them. 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 it to the world. He regarded it as highly injurious to the cause of Christ, and as eminently dangerous to the government of our country. He 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 him, and for a time concealed him in the magazine of the United States fort--Fort Erie, 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 these 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 done will be found in a book published by EIder Stearns, a Baptist elder.
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 widespread 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 two thousand lodges, as a consequence of these revelations, were suspended.
The 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 louge-room[sic.] 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.
Before the publication of this work, all the degrees that were published were read by Masons who had taken them, and they vouched for their correctness. 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 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.
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.
But I must say, also, that Masonry itself has its literature. Many bombastic and spread-eagle books have been published in its defense. Not that they 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.
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