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So that they would often speak of the amazing power of secret societies; and of the facility with which they might bind the world with invisible hands.
Such was the preparedness of the mass of the Roman Catholics for Infidelity, and such the influence of the infernal dragon, who was now furiously intent on erecting this new standard against the cause of Christ, that the scheme of Voltaire took effect, like fire in a field of dry stubble, with a strong wind to accelerate its fury. Voltaire boasted that from Geneva to Berne, not a Christian was to be found; and that if things went on at this rate, "in twenty years God would be in a pretty plight."
This plan was prosecuted with incredible vigor and success. Secrecy was the soul of their order. "Strike deep, but hide the hand that gives the blow," and similar phrases, were with them, watch words of great significancy. Their leaders received fictitious names; and they transacted their business in a language newly invented for the purpose. They prevailed to poison the sources of education. The highest of the French literary Societies, they, after much intrigue and management, filled with their members; and finally rendered the institution wholly subservient to their views.
Although the subversion of the Christian Religion was their first object, as has been noted, yet the subversion of civil government was after a while united with it, by these propagators of impiety. It became a principle of their order, that all the restraints of religion, and of civil government, were but an intolerable imposition; and that the goodness of the end sanctifies whatever means may be adopted to abolish such restraints.
Free masonry was insidiously perverted, and made a medium and covert of this mischief, in a manner wholly contrary to its principles, or original design.* Many
*I hope none of the Masonic Fraternity will admit the idea, that any thing in this Dissertation is designed to reflect upon their order. We know there is no institution among men, which is not capable of being abused to perverse purposes. And if simply this circumstance were to decide against the merit of institutions, perhaps every institution would be reprobated. The
of the lodges in France and Germany, and other Popish countries, were corrupted, and became subservient to the views of Illuminism. Upon the discovery of this, an honorable mason in Europe thus bewails it, in an oration to his associates; "Brethren and companions, give free vent to your sorrow. The days of innocent equality are gone by. However holy our mysteries may have been, the lodges are now profaned and sullied. Let your tears flow. Attired in your mourning robes, attend; and let us seal up the gates of our temples; for the profane have found means to penetrate into them. They have converted them into retreats for their impiety, and dens of conspirators. Within the sacred walls they have planned their horrid deeds, and the ruins of nations. Let us weep over our legions, whom they have seduced. Lodges, that may serve as hiding places for these conspirators, must for ever remain shut, both to us, and to every good citizen."*
Thousands became leagued in secret concert, to enlighten mankind with the wonderful doctrine of Liberty. and Equality; liberty from all the restraints of religion; and equality from all the subordinations of civil government. Their highest secret was, that there is no God; and no future state; and that every restraint on the appetites and passions of man, is an abridgment of the rights, and ought to be abolished. These sentiments it was the business of the adepts of their order to instill into the minds of mankind, and especially of the rising generation; and to do it without giving alarm. Their methods of effecting this were systematic and
advocates of the most important institutions will readily hear the conduct of the base perverters of their respective orders exposed; and will by no means wish to keep concealed such perversions. The honor and patriotism of the honorable masons of this day will not permit them to wish, that the modern innova tions made in their order, and in the institutions of religion and government, by Infidels, should be kept out of sight. For many, and those among the most honorable, of the Masonic Fraternity, have themselves sounded the alarm, and given notice of this horrid abuse of their order. And the thing itself is most notorious.
*Barruel's Memoirs, vol. iv, p. 63.
subtile almost beyond description, or detection. They allured their young candidates, whom they had marked out for their prey, with seemingly accidental hints of the amazing power, and great benefits of secret societies; that there were such societies, embracing the greatest of characters, who were able to govern the world. These youths were seduced into the most positive engagements of obedience to unknown leaders in those societies, of whom they were led to form the most exalted opinion, as being great and wise men, devoted to the reformation of mankind, and to the good of the world. The attention of these pupils was allured with the idea of there being various grades in these secret societies; and of new and wonderful discoveries to be made, or secret things to be revealed, at each advance. Thus all the principles of ignorant ambition, and the love of novelty, were addressed and scized fatally; while the adepts were insidiously engaged in erasing from the mind of the candidate every impression of any past religious instructions; and in preparing him for a higher grade of Infidelity. To this higher grade he was admitted, with various ceremonies, so soon as it was discovered by the instructor, that he was prepared to receive it without alarm. In this gradual process thousands were led on to their highest secrets, of Atheism, anarchy, and licen
Books were written by the most subtile of their order, calculated to unhinge the mind from the truths of Revelation, and to bring the Gospel into contempt. A learned Encyclopædia was devised and written for this very purpose, that the poison of Infidelity might be imperceptibly diffused. And other books innumerable, even down to the lowest tracts, teeming with the most artful suggestions of Infidelity, were profusely scattered through the whole mass of society. Printers and booksellers were artfully enlisted into the same cause. And funds were raised to indemnify them, in suppressing every evangelical publication. So that few or no good books could circulate in society, or ever be found. Reading societies were formed by the agents of this fatal scheme, in order that their impious publications might
be read, and thus take the more sure effect. The direction of schools the leaders of Illuminism found means to get into their own hands; and to furnish them with instructors of their own order.
Said the chief of the Illuminati; "All the German schools, and the benevolent society, are at last under our direction. Lately we have got possession of the Bartholomew Institution for young clergymen, having secured all their supporters. Through this, we shall be able to supply Bavaria with fit priests. We must acquire the direction of education, of church management, of the professional chair, and of the pulpit. We must preach the warmest concern for humanity, and make people indifferent to all other relations. We must gain the reviewers, and journalists, and the booksellers."* See an instance of their impious hypocrisy. A president of their society, in an initiatory discourse, said, "Jesus Christ, our grand and ever celebrated master, appeared in an age, when corruption was universal. He supported his doctrines by an innocent life, and sealed them with his blood." Yet Christ was the wretch, whom their order had sworn to crush! And the following sentiments we read in their own language. "All ideas of justice and injustice, of virtue and vice, of glory and infamy, are purely arbitrary, and dependent on custom. The man, who is above law, can commit without remorse the dishonest act, that may serve his purpose. The fear of God, so far from being the beginning of wisdom, would be the beginning of folly. Modesty is only an invention of refined voluptuousness. Virtue and honesty are no more than the habit of actions personally advantageous."+ "The supreme king," (says their code) "the God of philosophers, Jews, and Christians, is but a chimera, a phantom. Jesus Christ is an impostor."
It was one of the hidden maxims of their philosophy, first to gain a firm footing by fraud, and afterwards to propagate their scheme by force; adopting the words
*Faber, vol. i, p. 251. + Barruel, vol. iii, p. 164; and
reason, toleration, and humanity, as a quietus, till they could call to arms. The following instructions were accordingly given to their initiated brethren, by the hierophant of their order. "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, and you shall have acquired strength by your union, hesitate no longer, but begin to render yourselves powerful and formidable to the wicked," (i. e. all your op posers.)-"You will soon acquire sufficient force to bind the hands of your opponents, and subjugate them. Extend and multiply the children of light, till force and numbers shall throw power into our hands."-"Nations must be brought back-by whatever means-peaceably, if it can be done; if not, then by force. For all subordination must be made to vanish from the earth."*
No iniquity, perfidy, or hypocrisy, was too bad to be adopted, provided they could but keep it concealed. Lying, and a stubborn perseverance in false assertions, either to conceal, or to accomplish their plots; or to ruin characters, or interests, that stood in their way, were among the most powerful principles of their system in crushing the wretch.
This fatal scheme spread in Germany under the direction of its arch-agent Weishaupt, and others. It became powerful in other Roman Catholic countries. In France it wrought wonders, and prepared the way for the dismal scenes of modern date.
By a train of the most apposite ceremonies and operations, men were taught and hardened to become murderers, and capable of every cruel and perverse thing without remorse. Let one instance suffice to illustrate this remark. "A candidate for reception into one of the higher orders of Illuminism, after having heard many threatenings denounced against all, who should betray the secrets of the order, was conducted to a place, where he saw the dead bodies of several, who were said to have suffered for their treachery. He then saw his