Code of Illuminism. Continuation of the Discourse on the Lesser Mysteries

In that part of the discourse which remains to be laid before the reader, the Hierophant, insisting on the necessity of enlightening the people to operate the grand revolution, seems to fear that the Candidate has not clearly conceived the real plan of this revolution, which is in future to be the sole object of all his instructions.
Let your instructions and lights be universally diffused; so shall you render mutual security universal; and security and instruction will enable us to live without prince or government. If that were not the case, why should we go in quest of either?’
Here then the Candidate is clearly informed of the grand object towards which he is to direct all his future instructions.
To teach the people to live without princes or governments, without laws or even civil society, is to be the general tendency of all his lessons.
But of what nature must these lessons be to attain the desired object?
They are to treat of morality, and of morality alone. “For (continues the Hierophant) if light be the work of morality, light and security will gain strength as morality expands itself.
Nor is true morality any other than the art of teaching men to shake off their wardship, to attain the age of manhood, and thus to need neither princes nor governments.
When we shall see the Sect enthusiastically pronouncing the word morality, let us recollect the definition which it has just given us of it.
Without it, we could not have understood the real sense of the terms honest men, virtue, good or wicked men. We see that, according to this definition, the honest man is he who labours at the overthrow of civil society, its laws, and its chiefs: for these are the only crimes or virtues mentioned in the whole Code.
Presupposing that the Candidate may object that it would be impossible to bring mankind to adopt such doctrines, the Hierophant anticipates the objection, and exclaims,
He is little acquainted with the powers of reason and the attractions of virtue; he is a very novice in the regions of light, who shall harbour such mean ideas as to his own essence, or the nature of mankind.
If either he or I can attain this point, why should not another attain it also? What! when men can be led to despise the horrors of death, when they may be inflamed with the enthusiasm of religious and political follies, shall they be deaf to that very doctrine which can alone lead them to happiness?
No, no; man is not so wicked as an arbitrary morality would make him appear.
He is wicked, because Religion, the State, and bad example, perverts him. It would be of advantage to those who wish to make him better, were there fewer persons whose interest it is to render him wicked in order that they may support their power by his wickedness.”
Let us form a more liberal opinion of human nature. We will labour indefatigably, nor shall difficulties affright us.
May our principles become the foundation of all morals! Let reason at length be the religion of men, and the problem is solved.
This pressing exhortation will enable the reader to solve the problem of the altars, the worship, and the festivals of Reason, in the French Revolution; nor will they be any longer at a loss to know from what loathsome den their shameless Goddess rose.
The Candidate also obtains the solution of all that may have appeared to him problematic in the course of his former trials. “Since such is the force of morality and of morality alone (says the Hierophant), since it alone can operate the grand revolution which is to restore liberty to mankind, and abolish the empire of imposture, superstition, and despotism; you must now perceive why on their first entrance into our Order we oblige our pupils to apply closely to the study of morality, to the knowledge of themselves and of others.
You must see plainly, that if we permit each Novice to introduce his friend, it is in order to form a legion that may more justly he called holy and invincible than that of the Theban; since the battles of the friend fighting by the side of his friend are those which are to reinstate human nature in its rights, its liberty, and its primitive independence.
The morality which is to perform this miracle is not a morality of vain subtleties. It is not that morality which, degrading man, renders him careless of the goods of this world, forbids him the enjoyment of the innocent pleasures of life, and inspires him with the hatred of his neighbour.
It must not be a morality favouring the interests only of its teachers, which prescribes persecution and toleration, which militates against reason, which forbids the prudent use of the passions; whose virtues are no other than inaction, idleness, and the heaping of riches on the slothful.
Above all, it must not be that morality which, adding to the miseries of the miserable, throws them into a state of pusillanimity and despair, by the threats of hell and the fear of devils.
It must, on the contrary, be that morality so much disregarded and defaced at the present day by selfishness, and replete with heterogeneous principles.
It must be a divine doctrine, such as Jesus taught to his disciples, and of which he gave the real interpretation in his secret conferences.”
This sudden transition naturally leads Weishaupt to the development of a mystery of iniquity for which we have long since seen him preparing his Major Illuminees, and particularly the Scotch Knights of illumination.
The better to understand this mystery, let us recall to mind how the Insinuations or the teachers began by solemnly assuring their different Candidates, Novices, or Minerval Academicians, that in all the lodges of Illuminism there never arises a question in the least degree prejudicial to religion or the state.
All these promises have been gradually lost sight of, and the proselyte has had time to accustom his ears to declamations against the priesthood and royalty. It has already been insinuated, that the Christianity of our times is very different from that taught by Jesus Christ; the time was not arrived for numbering Christ himself among the impostors; his name, his virtues, might still be venerated by certain adepts.
Some there were, perhaps, who would be shocked at bare-faced Atheism; and it is on their account that Weishaupt has thus treated of Christ.
In the preceding degree he had contented himself with hinting, that the doctrines of this divine teacher had been perverted; nor had he declared what species of political revolution was (as he pretended) pointed out in the Gospel.
But here the execrable sophister apostrophizes the God of the Christians in language similar to that in which we have since seen the too famous Fauchet declaiming in the revolutionary pulpit. It is here that Weishaupt declares Jesus Christ to be the Father of the Jacobins, or rather (to speak the revolutionary language) the great Doctor of the Sans-culottes.
But, to enable us the better to judge of the cunning and premeditated villainy of this detestable artifice, let us first attend to the correspondence of the adept who, under Weishaupt, is charged with the compiling of the Code.
Knigge, like the monstrous prototype of Illuminism, subdivides the adepts into those who scoff at and detest revelation, and those who stand in need of a revealed religion to fix their ideas. It is to explain this that Knigge writes the following letter to Zwack:
To unite these two classes of men, to make them concur and co-operate toward our object, it was necessary to represent Christianity in such a light as to recall the superstitious to reason, and to teach our more enlightened sages not to reject it on account of its abuse.
This should have been the secret of Masonry, and have led us to our object.
Meanwhile despotism strengthens daily, though liberty universally keeps pace with it. It was necessary then to unite the extremes.
We therefore assert here, that Christ did not establish a new religion, but that his intention was simply to reinstate natural religion in its rights; that by giving a general bond of union to the world, by diffusing the light and wisdom of his morality, and by dissipating prejudices, his intention was, to teach us the means of governing ourselves, and to re-establish, without the violent means of revolutions, the reign of Equality and Liberty among men.
This was easily done by quoting certain texts from Scripture, and by giving explanations of them, true or false is of little consequence, provided each one finds a sense in these doctrines of Christ consonant with his reason. We add, that this religion, so simple in itself, was afterwards defaced; but that, by means of inviolable secrecy, it has been transmitted in purity to us through Freemasonry.
Spartacus (Weishaupt) had collected many materials for this, and I added my discoveries in the instructions for these two degrees.
Our people, therefore, being convinced that we alone are possessed of the real secrets of Christianity, we have but to add a few words against the Clergy and Princes.
In the last mysteries we have to unfold to our adepts this pious fraud, and then by writings demonstrate the origin of all religious impositions, and their mutual connexion with each other.
If the reader be not too much disgusted with this pious fraud, but can still attend to the declamations of the Hierophant, let us once more enter that den of demons wherein presides the triple genius of impiety, hypocrisy, and anarchy.
The Hierophant is about to say, “that their grand and ever-celebrated master, Jesus of Nazareth, appeared in an age when corruption was universal; in the midst of a people who from time immemorial had been subjected to, and severely felt the yoke of slavery and who eagerly expected their deliverer announced by the Prophets.
Jesus appeared and taught the doctrine of reason; to give greater efficacy to these doctrines, he formed them into a religion, and adopted the received traditions of the Jews.
He prudently grafted his new school on their religion and their customs, which he made the vehicle of the essence and secrets of his new doctrines.
He did not select sages for his new disciples, but ignorant men chosen from the lowest class of the people, to show that his doctrine was made for all, and suitable to every one’s understanding; to show too, that the knowledge of the grand truths of reason was not a privilege peculiar to the great.
He does not teach the Jews alone, but all mankind, the means of acquiring their liberty, by the observation of his precepts.
He supported his doctrines by an innocent life, and sealed them with his blood.”
His precepts for the salvation of the world are, simply, the love of God and the love of our neighbour; he asks no more.
Nobody ever reduced and consolidated the bonds of human society within their real limits as he did.
No one was ever more intelligible to his hearers, or more prudently covered the sublime signification of his doctrine.
No one, indeed, ever laid a surer foundation for liberty than our grand master, Jesus of Nazareth. It is true, that on all occasions he carefully concealed the sublime meaning and natural consequences of his doctrines; for he had a secret doctrine, as is evident from more than one passage of the Gospel.
It was during the time that he was writing this hypocritical history of the Messiah, that Weishaupt was turning the credulous proselyte into ridicule; as to the other adepts, he well knew that they anticipated such explanations, or at least would be delighted with them.
Hence that impudence with which he falsifies the Scriptures. To prove the existence of this secret school, the doctrines of which are reserved for the initiated alone, he cites these words of Christ:
To you is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to them that are without, all things are done in parables.
But he carefully avoids mentioning the order which Christ gives to his disciples,
That which I tell you in the dark, speak ye in the light; and that which you hear in the ear, preach ye upon the housetops.
Weishaupt then proceeds to these words: “And their princes have power over them but it is not so among you; but whoever will be greater shall be your minister.
This precept, as well as all those on Christian humility, he transforms into principles of disorganizing equality inimical to all constituted authorities.
With equal ease he avoids all those lessons so often repeated both by Christ and his Apostles, on the obligation of rendering to Cæsar what is Cæsar’s, of paying tribute, and of recognizing the authority of God himself in that of the law and of the magistrates.
If Christ has preached the love of our neighbour, or fraternal love, his words are immediately perverted by Weishaupt into a love of his Equality.
If Christ exhorts his disciples to contemn riches, the imposter pretends it is to prepare the world for that community of riches which destroys all property. In fine, the conclusions drawn from these impious and deriding explanations, and from many others of a similar nature, are contained in the following words:
If therefore the object of the secret of Jesus, which has been preserved by the institution of the mysteries, and clearly demonstrated both by the conduct and the discourses of this divine master, was to reinstate mankind in their original Equality and Liberty, and to prepare the means; how many things immediately appear clear and natural, which hitherto seemed to be contradictory and unintelligible!
This explains in what sense Christ was the saviour and the liberator of the world.
Now the doctrine of original sin, of the fall of man, and of his regeneration, can be understood.
The state of pure nature, of fallen or corrupt nature, and the state of grace, will no longer be a problem.
Mankind, in quitting their state of original liberty, fell from the state of nature and lost their dignity. In their civil society, under their governments, they no longer live in the state of pure nature, but in that of fallen and corrupt nature.
If the moderating of their passions and the diminution of their wants, reinstate them in their primitive dignity, that will really constitute their redemption and their state of grace. It is to this point that morality, and the most perfect of all morality, that of Jesus, leads mankind.
When at length this doctrine shall be generalized throughout the world, the reign of the good and of the elect shall be established.
This language is surely not enigmatical.
The proselyte, once master of the mysteries it contains, needs only to be informed, how the great revolution, which they foretell, became the object of secret societies, and what advantages accrue to these societies from the secrecy in which they exist.
The Hierophant then, for the instruction of the proselyte, goes back to the origin of Masonry; he declares it to be the original school and depository of the true doctrine.
He takes a view of its hieroglyphics, and shapes them to his system.
The rough stone of Masonry becomes the symbol of the primitive state of man, savage but free.
The stone split or broken is the state of fallen nature, of mankind in civil society, no longer united in one family, but divided according to their states, governments, or religions. The polished stone represents mankind reinstated in its primitive dignity, in its independence.
Yet Masonry has not only lost these explanations; but the illuminizing orator goes so far as to say,
The Freemasons, like Priests and chiefs of nations, have banished reason from the earth.
They have inundated the world with tyrants, impostors, spectres, corpses, and men like to wild beasts.
Should any reader be surprised at seeing the Hierophant give this account of Masonry, let him reflect on the hatred which Weishaupt had sworn against every school where the name of any deity was preserved.
The Jehovah or the Grand Architect of Masonry, the two-fold God of the Rosicrucians magicians, still render the occult lodges a school of some sort of Theosophy.
But how reserved soever the Hierophant may be with regard to Atheism, the proselyte must, nevertheless, foresee, that should he be admitted to one degree higher, neither the Grand Architect nor the two-fold God will meet a better fate than the God of the Christians.
And therefore it is that Weishaupt declaims against those spirits, apparitions, and all the superstitions of Freemasonry hence the theosophic Masons are involved in the general malediction pronounced against the priesthood and the throne.
It can be easily conceived, that Weishaupt must represent true Masonry, or the pretended real Christianity, as solely extant in Illuminism. But the Hierophant enjoins the proselyte not to think that this is the only advantage which the Order and the whole universe draw from this mysterious association.
Here let magistrates, the chiefs of nations, every man who still retains any regard for the support of laws and empires, and of civil society, let them, I say, read and meditate on these other advantages.
The lesson is of the utmost importance Whoever you are, all honest citizens, whether Masons, Rosicrucians, Mopses, Hewers of Wood, Knights; all you who thirst after the mysteries of the lodges, cease to accuse me of conjuring up chimerical dangers.
I am not the man who speaks: it is he who of all others has been the best acquainted with your association, and has known what advantages could be drawn from them by able and patient conspirators.
Read; and tell us which is the most impressive on your mind, the pleasures you may find in your lodges, or the dangers of your country.
Read; and if the name of citizen be still dear to you, reflect whether yours should remain inscribed on the registers of a secret society.
You were ignorant of the dangers; the most monstrous of conspirators will lay them open to you, and he will call them advantages.
He literally says, Though these mysterious Associations should not attain our object, they prepare the way for us; they give a new interest to the cause; they present it under points of view hitherto unobserved; they stimulate the inventive powers and the expectations of mankind; they render men more indifferent as to the interests of governments; they bring men of divers nations and religions within the same bond of union; they deprive the church and the state of their ablest and most laborious members; they bring men together who would never otherwise have known or met each other.
By this method alone they undermine the foundation of states, though they had really no such project in view.
They throw them together and make them clash one against the other.
They teach mankind the power and force of union; they point out to them the imperfection of their political constitutions, and that without exposing them to the suspicions of their enemies, such as magistrates and public governments.
They mask our progress, and procure us the facility of incorporating in our plans and of admitting into our Order, after the proper trials, the most able men, whose patience, long abused, thirsts after the grand ultimatum.
By this means they weaken the enemy; and though they should never triumph over him, they will at least diminish the numbers and the zeal of his partizans; they divide his troops to cover the attack. In proportion as these new associations or secret societies, formed in different states, shall acquire strength and prudence at the expense of the former ones (that is to say, of civil society), the latter must weaken, and insensibly fall.
Beside, our Society originates, and must naturally and essentially deduce its origin from those very governments whose vices have rendered our union necessary.
We have no object but that better order of things for which we incessantly labour; all the efforts, therefore, of Princes to stop our progress will be fruitless; the spark may long remain hidden in the ashes, but the day must come in which shall burst forth the general flame.
For nature nauseates always to run the same course.
The heavier the yoke of oppression weighs on man, the more sedulously will he labour to throw it off; and the liberty he seeks shall expand itself.
The seed is sown whence shall spring a new world; the roots extend themselves; they have acquired too much strength, they have been too industriously propagated, for the day of harvest to fail us.
Perhaps it may be necessary to wait thousands and thousands of years; but sooner or later nature shall consummate its grand work, and she shall restore that dignity to man for which he was destined from the beginning.
Reader, you have heard them.
These conspirators have said more than I should have dared to hint at on the nature and danger of these associations.
It would be useless for me to rest longer on that point. I shall end by showing by what artifices the Hierophant endeavours to tranquilize the consciences of those adepts who may have been startled at these predictions.
Notwithstanding all that he has said of those times when Illuminism shall find means of binding hands and subjugating; notwithstanding all that aversion against governments which he seeks to infuse into the adepts, he concludes in a hypocritical strain peculiar to his wickedness.
We are here at once the observers and the instruments of nature.
We do not wish to precipitate her steps.
To enlighten men, to correct their morals, to inspire them with benevolence, such are our means. Secure of success, we abstain from violent commotions.
To have foreseen the happiness of posterity, and to have prepared it by irreproachable means, suffices for our felicity.
The tranquility of our consciences is not troubled by the reproach of aiming at the ruin or overthrow of states and thrones.
Such an accusation could with no more propriety be preferred against us, than it might against the statesmen who had foreseen and foretold the impending and inevitable ruin of the state.
As assiduous observers of Nature, we admire her majestic course; and, burning with the noble pride of our origin, we felicitate ourselves on being the children of men and of God.
But carefully observe and remember, that we do not impose our opinions; we do not oblige you to adopt our doctrines.
Let the truth you can acknowledge be your only guide. Free man, exercise here thy primitive right; seek, doubt, examine; do you know of, or can you find elsewhere, any thing that is better?
Make us acquainted with your views, as we have exposed ours to you. We do not blush at the limits of our understandings; we know that we are but men; we know that such are the dispositions of nature, such the lot of man, that he is not to expect to attain perfection at his outset; he can attain it but by degrees.
It is by gaining experience from our errors, by profiting of the lights acquired by our forefathers, that we shall become at once the children of wisdom, and the parents of a still wiser progeny.
If, therefore, you think that you have found truth in the whole of our doctrine, adopt the whole.
Should you perceive any error to have stolen in with it, remember that truth is not the less estimable on that account.
If you have met with nothing that pleases you here, reject the whole without fear; and remember, that in many things, at least, we only need further research, or a new investigation.
Do you observe any thing blameable or laudable, see and make choice of what you approve.
Should you be more enlightened yourself, then your eye may have discovered truths which are still denied to us.
The more art we employ in the instruction of our pupils to lead them to the paths of wisdom, the less you will be inclined to refuse us a portion of your applause.
Thus ends the discourse of the Hierophant.
The proselyte who has heard it without shuddering, may flatter himself with being worthy of this priesthood.
But before he is sacrilegiously anointed, he is led back to the porch, where he is invested with a white tunic.
He wears a broad silken scarlet belt; the sleeve is tied at the extremity and middle with bandages of the same colour, which make it bulge out.
I am particular in the description of this dress, because it was in a similar one that, during the French revolution, a comedian appeared personally attacking Almighty God, saying,
No! thou dost not exist. If thou hast power over the thunder bolts, grasp them; aim them at the man who dares set thee at defiance in the face of thy altars.
But no, I blaspheme thee, and I still live.
No, thou dost not exist.” In the same costume, and to prepare him for the same blasphemies, the Epopt is recalled into the temple of mysteries.
He is met by one of the Brethren, who does not permit him to advance till he has told him, that he is sent to enquire whether he (the proselyte) has perfectly understood the discourse which has been read to him whether he has any doubts concerning the doctrines which are contained in it whether his heart is penetrated with the sanctity of the principles of the Order whether he is sensible of the call, feels the strength of mind, the fervent will, and all the disinterestedness requisite to labour at the grand undertaking whether he is ready to make a sacrifice of his will, and to suffer himself to be led by the most excellent superiors of the Order.
I will spare the reader the disgusting impiety of the ceremonial which immediately follows.
The rites of the preceding degree were in derision of the Last Supper; these are an atrocious mimicry of the sacerdotal ordination.
A curtain is drawn, and an altar appears with a crucifix upon it. On the altar also is a Bible; and the ritual of the Order lies on a reading desk; on the side a censer, and a phial full of oil.
The Dean acts the part of a Bishop, and he is surrounded with acolytes. He prays over the proselyte, blesses him, cuts hair from the top of his head, clothes him in the vestments of the priesthood, and pronounces prayers after the fashion of the Sect.
On presenting the cap he says, “Cover thyself with this cap, it is more valuable than the crown of kings.
The very expressions of the Jacobin with his red cap. The communion consists in honey and milk, which the Dean gives to the proselyte, saying, This is what Nature gives to man.
Reflect how happy he would still have been, if the desire of superfluities had not, by depriving him of a taste for such simple food, multiplied his wants, and poisoned the balm of life.
All the preceding part of this degree sufficiently explains the real meaning of these words.
The ceremonies are terminated with delivering to the Epopt that part of the code which relates to his new degree.
I shall relate all that is necessary for the reader to be informed of, when, after having treated of the degree of Regent, and of the Grand Mysteries, I shall come to investigate the government of the Order.

Leave a Reply