Articles in THE INDEPENDENT of NEW YORK
CHARLES G. FINNEY
BY REV. CHARLES G. FINNEY
NEW YORK, THURSDAY, APRIL 30, 1868
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 it; 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 your 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 it.
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's 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 the secrets of 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. 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.
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 its 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?" To this I answer, that 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.
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