At other times wishing to appear above such fears, but still reproaching the adepts with want of caution, he says, “If our affairs already go on so ill, the whole will soon be undone: the fault will be thrown upon me, and, as author of every thing, I shall be the first sacrificed. Yet that is not what frightens me; I know how to take every thing on my own score; but if the imprudence of the Brethren is to cost me my life, let me at least not have to blush before men of reflection, nor to reproach myself with an inconsiderate and rash conduct.” 4 Thus does every motive stimulate this famous Conspirator to transfuse into his code every precaution that could at the same time skreen him from condign punishment, and secure the success of his plots. At length, after five years meditation on his side, and numerous consultations with his trusty adepts, particularly with Philo, or the Baron Knigge, who acts a very exalted part in Illuminism, Weishaupt had regulated the mode of his mysteries, and had digested the code of his Sect, that is to say, the principles, the laws, and government adopted by the Illuminees to accomplish the grand object of their Conspiracy. Before we lead our readers through the immense labyrinth of this code, let us give a general idea of the system which stimulated its author to the formation of those laws.
The more we meditate on that part of the code which we shall lay before our readers when we come to treat of the mysteries of Illuminism, the more
clearly we observe Weishaupt adopting the principles of Equality and of Liberty, (propagated by modern Philosophism) in order to present them in a new light, and to lead his disciples to the ultimate consequences of the most absolute Impiety and Anarchy.
The modern Sophisters, some following Voltaire, others Rousseau, had begun by saying, that all men were equal and free; and they had concluded with respect to Religion, that nobody, though speaking in the name of a God who reveals himself, had the right of prescribing rules to their faith. The authority of revelation being cast aside, they left no other basis for Religion to rest upon, than the Sophistry of a reason the perpetual prey of our passions. They had annihilated Christianity in the minds of their adepts. With respect to Governments they had also asserted, that all men were equal and free, and they had concluded that every citizen had an equal right to form the laws, or to the title of Sovereign; this consequence abandoning all authority to the capricious fluctuations of the multitude, no government could be legitimate but that founded on Chaos, or the volcanic explosions of the democratic and sovereign populace.
Weishaupt, reasoning on the same principles, believed both the Sophisters and the Democratic Populace to be too timid in drawing their inferences, and the following may be said to be the essence of all his mysteries.
“Liberty and Equality are the essential rights that man in his original and primitive perfection received from nature. Property struck the first blow at Equality; political Society, or Governments, were the first oppressors of Liberty; the supporters of Governments and property are the religious and civil laws; therefore, to reinstate man in his primitive rights of Equality and Liberty, we must begin by destroying all Religion, all civil society, and finish by the destruction of all property.”
Had true Philosophy but gained admittance to these lodges of Illuminism, how clearly would she have demonstrated the absurdity of each and all of these principles, and the extravagance and wickedness of such consequences, both to the master and his adepts! She would have shewn, that the rights and laws of primitive man alone upon earth, or parent of a scanty generation, neither were nor ought to be the rights and laws of man living on an inhabited globe. She would have proved, that Nature, when she ordained that man should increase and multiply on this earth, and that he should cultivate it, clearly announced that his posterity were hereafter to live under the empire of social laws. She would have observed, that without property this earth would have remained uncultivated and uninhabited; that without religious and civil laws the same earth would have only nurtured straggling hordes of vagabonds and savages. Then would our Bavarian Illuminee have concluded, that his Equality and Liberty, far from being the essential rights of man in the state of perfection, would only be the instruments of his degradation, and assimilate him to the beasts of the earth, if they were to be incompatible with Property, Religion, and Society. But true Philosophy was an alien to his school; and Weishaupt, with his detestable genius formed for error, applauds
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