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a most folemn assurance, “ that nothing is ever tranfacted in this fociety, hurtful to Relia gion, Morals, or the State.” But after they have, by almost incredible art and perseverance, got possession of all the secrets of his life, and his family, he is farther bound to“ a blind obedience to the Order, without any restriction whatever.” Weishaupt, the founder of the Order, thus writes to an areopagite, or chief, concerning what he calls the Priest's degree. “One would almost imagine that this degree, as I have managed it, is genuine Christianity; and that its end was to free the Jews from Navery. I say that Free-Masonry is concealed Chriftianity. My explanation of the hieroglyphicks at least proceeds on this supposition ; and, as I explain things, no man need be ashamed of being a Christian. Indeed I afterwards throw away this name, and substitute reason. But I assure you this is no small affair : a new religion, and a new flat? government, which so happily explain one and all of these fymbols, and combine them all in one degree. You may think that this is my chief work; but I have three other degrees, all different, for my class of higher mysteries, in comparison with which, this is but child's play, but these I keep
for myself as General, to be bestowed by me only on the Benemeritissimi. It is the key to history, to religion, and to every state government in the world.” “ You cannot imagine what respect and curiosity my Priest's degree has raised; and, which is wonderful, a famous Protestant divine, who is now of the order, is persuaded that the religion contained in it is the true sense of Christianity. O man, man! to what mayest thou not be persuaded ! Who would ima. gine that I was to be the founder of a new Religion ?”
Before the adept is admitted to the Priest's degree, a number of questions are put to him, which he has been prepared to anfwer, by previous steps of Illumination. The following are some of the leading questions : “ Do you think the present state of nations corresponds with the object, for which man was placed upon earth? For example, do governments, civil associations, or religion, attain the ends for which they were designed? Do the sciences to which men apply furnish them with real lights? Are they conducive (as they ought to be) to real happiness ?–Did there not formerly exist an order of things more sim
ple? What sort of an idea can you form of that, antient state of the world :—What means were best to be employed for restoring mankind to that happy state? Should it be by public measures, by violent revolutions, or by any means that should ensure success ? Does not the Christian Religion in all its purity afford some indications, does it not hint at some state or happiness similar to this ? Does it not even prepare it? Is this holy and simple religion really what different sects profess it to be at this present day, or is it more perfect ? Can this more perfect Christianity, be known or taught ? Could the world, such as it now is, support a stronger degree of light?-Must we not then filently and gradually remedy these dif- , orders, before we can flatter ourselves with the re-establishment of the golden age 3 Meanwhile is it not advisable to disseminate the truth in secret focieties? Can we trace any such secret do&trine in the antient schools of the fages, or in the allegorical lessons given by Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Liberator of mankind, to his most intimate Disciples? Have you not observed a fort of gradual education in that art which you fee has been transmitted to our Order from the highest antiquity ?” VOL. II.
: It is with regret that I omit the initiatory Discourse of the President", the whole tendency of which is the total destruction of all Religion, all Government, and all that the world has been accustomed to consider as morality ; but which tendency is so artfully concealed by the dazzling veil of Sophiftry, that the prepollessed mind of the candidate does not easily perceive it. The following extracts, however, will fully display its design. “ The first age of mankind is that of savage and uncouth nature. A family is the whole society : hunger and thirst easily quenched, a shelter from the inclemency of the seasons, a woman, and after fatigue, rest, are then the only wants. At that period men enjoyed the two inestimable blefsings, equality and liberty : they enjoyed them to their utmost extent.—As families multiplied, the means of subsistence began to fail; the Nomade (or roaming) life ceased, and property started into existence ;-hence liberty was ruined in its foundation, and equality disappeared.-Men then had passed from their peaceable ftate to the yoke of servitude; Eden, that terrestrial Paradise, was lost to them. The secret schools of
* See Barruel, vol. iii. p. 164.'.
Philosophy, which have been in all ages the archives of nature, and of the rights of man, shall one day retrieve the fall of human nature, and princes and nations Mall disappear from the face of the earth, and that without violence.—Reason shall be the only book of laws, the fole code of man. This is one of our great mysteries. Attend to the demonstration of it, and learn how it has been transmitted down to us.”—This we shall see presently. We are to observe, that the candidate is here informed, that secret som cieties are to effect this mighty change in the world without violence. Let us now notice the following instructions in the same discourse. “ Serve, assist, and mutually support each other ; augment our numbers ; render yourselves at least independent, and leave to time and posterity the care of doing the rest. When your numbers shall be augmented to a certain degree, when you shall have acquired strength by your union, befitate no longer, but begin to render yourself powerful and formidable to the wicked [that is to say, all who resist their plans]; the very circumstance of your being sufficiently numerous to talk of force, and that you really do talk of it, that circunstance alone makes the profane and wicked tremble.