THE CHARACTER, CLAIMS AND PRACTICAL WORKINGS OF FREEMASONRY
By Rev. C. G. FINNEY
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 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 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' 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 on 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 perfectly 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 Le Roy, 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 degress[sic.] 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 State, 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 chainmen. 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 xii.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."
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