JEA: The following chapter is extracted from the book Grand Orient Freemasonry Unmasked as the Secret Power Behind Communism. It was written in 1882 by Monsignor George F. Dillon. I have condensed it a little and changed the name of the chapter for modern readers.
…by Monsignor George F. Dillon
The Illuminism of Lyons was destined soon to have a worldwide and ineradicable hold on the Masonry of the world by means of an adept far more able than Saint Martin or any of his associates.
This was Adam Weishaupt, a Professor of Canon Law at the University of Munich. I shall detain you a while to consider this remarkable individual who, more than any of the Atheists that have arisen in Masonry, has been the cause of the success of its agencies in controlling the fate of the world since his day.
Had Weishaupt not lived, Masonry may have ceased to be a power after the reaction consequent on the first French Revolution. He gave it a form and character which caused it to outlive that reaction, to energize it to the present day, and which will cause it to advance until its final conflict with Christianity must determine whether Christ or Satan shall reign on this earth to the end.
Voltaire’s will to do God and man’s injury was as strong as that of Weishaupt. His disciples, D’Alembert, Diderot, Damilaville, Condorcet, and the rest, were as fully determined as he was, to eradicate Christianity. But they desired in its stead a system with only a mitigated antipathy for the monarchy, and which might have tolerated for a long time such kings as Frederick of Prussia, and such Empresses as Catherine of Russia.
But the hatred for God and all forms of worship, and the determination to found a universal republic on the lines of Communism, was on the part of Weishaupt a settled sentiment.
Possessed of a rare power of organization, an education in law which made him a pre-eminent teacher in its highest faculty, extended knowledge of men and things, a command over himself, a repute for external morality, and finally, a position calculated to win able disciples, Weishaupt employed for fifty years after the death of Voltaire, his whole life and energies in the one work of perfecting secret associations to accomplish by deep deceit, and by force when that should be practical, the ruin of the existing order of religion, civilization, and government, in order to plant in its stead his own system of Atheism and Socialism.
He found contemporary Masonry well adapted for his ends. His object was to extend it as far as possible as a means of seducing men away from Christianity.
He well knew that Masonry and the Church were in mortal conflict and that the moment a man became a Mason, he, that instant, became excommunicated; he lost the grace of God; he passed into a state of hostility to the Church; he ceased to approach the Sacraments; he was constituted in a state of rebellion; he forfeited his liberty to unknown superiors; he took a dreadful oath—perhaps many—not to reveal the secrets then, or at any after time, to be committed to his keeping; and finally, he placed himself amongst men, all of whom were in his own position, and in whose society it was possible and easy for the astute disciples of Weishaupt to lead him farther on the road to ruin.
Weishaupt’s view, then, was first to entice men into Masonry—into the lowest degree. A great gain for evil was thus at once obtained. But a man, though in Masonry, may not be willing to become an Atheist and a Socialist, for some time at least.
He may have in his heart a profound conviction that a God existed, and some hope left of returning to that God at or before his death. He may have entered Masonry for purposes of ambition, for motives of vanity, from mere lightness of character. He may continue his prayers, and refuse, if a Catholic, to give up the Mother of God and some practice of piety loved by him from his youth.
But Masonry was a capital system to wean a man gradually away from all these things. It did not at once deny the existence of God, nor at once attack the Christian Dispensation. It commenced by giving the Christian idea of God, and easy, and, under the semblance of respect, an almost imperceptible shake.
It swore by the name of God in all its oaths. It called him, however, not a Creator, only an architect—the great Architect of the universe. It carefully avoided all mention of Christ, of the Adorable Trinity, of the Unity of the Faith, or of any faith.
It protested respect for the convictions of every man, for the idolatrous Parsee, for the Mahommedan, for the Heretic, the Schismatic, the Catholic. By-and-by, it gave, in higher degrees, a ruder shock to the belief in the Deity and a gradual inducement to favor Naturalism.
This it did gradually, imperceptibly, but effectually. Now, to a man who meditated the vast designs of social and religious destruction contemplated by Weishaupt, Masonry, especially the Masonry of his period, was the most effective means that could be conceived.
In its midst, therefore, he planted his disciples, well versed in his system. These consisted of three classes, each class having subdivisions, and all of which were high degrees of Masonry. The first class of the Illuminati was that of preparation.
It consisted of two degrees, namely, the degree of Novice and that of Minerval. The Minerals formed the great body of the order and were under the direction of certain chiefs, who themselves were subjected to other agencies invisible to those instructed by themselves.
Weishaupt instructed the teachers of the Minervals to propose each year to their scholars some interesting questions, to cause them to write themes calculated to spread impiety amongst the people, such as burlesques on the Psalms, pasquinades on the Prophets, and caricatures of personages of the Old Testament after the manner of Voltaire and his school.
It is surprising with what exactitude these Minervals follow out the instructions of Weishaupt to this day. At this moment, in London, under the eyes of the Lord Chancellor, pamphlets, with hideous woodcuts, ridiculing David, “the man after God’s own heart,” are weekly published.
One of these, which was handed to me in a public place, had a woodcut representing the “meek Monarch of Judea,” with a head just severed from a human body in one hand, and the sword that did the deed in the other. Another represented him amidst a set of ridiculous figures dancing.
From this, we can easily judge that illuminated Masonry is at work somewhere even in London and that the Masonry in high quarters is blind to its excesses, exactly as happened in France a few years before the French Revolution. Now these Minervals, if they manifested what the German Masons called “religionary” inclinations, might indeed receive the first three Masonic degrees, but they were not to be further promoted in Illuminism.
They were relegated to the rank and file of Masonry, who were of use in many ways for the movement, but they were never to be trusted with the real secret. The teacher, without seeming to do so, was ordered to encourage, but not to applaud publicly, such blasphemies as the Minervals might make use of in their essays. They were to be led on, seemingly by themselves, in the ways of irreligion, immorality, and Atheism, until ripe for further promotion in evil progress.
Finally, in the advanced grades of Illuminated Major and Minor, and in those of Scotch Knight and Epopte or Priest they were told the whole secret of the Order as follows, in a discourse by the initiator. He said:
“Remember that from the first invitations which we have given you, in order to attract you to us, we have commenced by telling you that in the projects of our Order there did not enter any designs against religion.
“You remember that such an assurance was again given to you when you were admitted into the ranks of our novices and that it was repeated when you entered into our Minerval Academy.
“Remember also how much from the first grades we have spoken to you of morality and virtue, but at the same time how much the studies which we prescribed for you and the instructions which we gave you rendered both morality and virtue independent of all religion; how much we have been at pains to make you understand while making to you the eulogy of religion, that it was not anything else than those mysteries, and that worship degenerated in the hands of the priest.
“You remember with what art, with what simulated respect, we have spoken to you of Christ and of his Gospel; but in the grades of greater Illuminism, of Scotch Knight, and of Epopte or Priest, how we have known to form from Christ’s Gospel that of our reason, and from its morality that of nature, and from its religion that of nature, and from religion, reason, morality, and nature, to make the religion, and the morality of the rights of man, of equality, and of liberty.
“Remember that while insinuating to you the different parts of this system, we have caused them to bud forth from yourselves as if your own opinions. We have placed you on the way; you have replied to our questions very much more than we did to yours.
“When we demanded of you, for example, whether the religions of peoples responded to the end for which men adopted them; if the religion of Christ, pure and simple, was that which the different Sects professed today, we know well enough what to hold. But it was necessary to know to what point we had succeeded to cause our sentiments to germinate in you.
“We have had very many prejudices to overcome in you, before being able to persuade you that the pretended religion of Christ was nothing else than the work of priests, of imposture, and of tyranny. If it is so with that religion so much proclaimed and admired, what are we to think of other religions? Understand, then, that they have all the same fictions for their origin, that they are all equally founded on lying, error, chimera, and imposture. Behold our secret!
“The turns and counter-turns which it was necessary to make; the eulogies which it was necessary to give to the pretended secret schools; the fable of the Freemasons being in possession of the veritable doctrine; and our Illuminism today, the sole inheritor of these mysteries, will no longer astonish you at this moment. If, in order to destroy all Christianity, all religion, we have pretended to have the sole true religion, remember that the end justifies the means and that the wise ought to take all the means to do good, which the wicked take to do evil.
“Those which we have taken to deliver you, those which we take to deliver one day the human race from all religion, are nothing else than a pious fraud which we reserve to unveil someday in the grade of Magus or Philosopher Illuminated.”—Segur: Le Secret de la Franc-Maconnerie, p. 49.
The above extract will serve to show you what manner of man Weishaupt was, and the quality of the teaching he invented. His organization—for the perfection of which he deeply studied the constitution of the then suppressed Society of Jesus—contemplated placing the thread of the whole conspiracy, destined to be controlled by the Illuminati, in the hands of one man, advised by a small council.
The Illuminati were to be in Masonry and of Masonry, so as to move amongst its members secretly. They were so trained that they could obtain the mastery in every form of a secret society, and thus render it subservient to their own Chief. Their fidelity to him was made perfect by the most severe and complex system of espionage.
The Chief himself was kept safe by his position, his long training, and by his council. It thus happened that no matter to what office or position the Illuminati attained, they had to become subservient to the general aims of the Order. Weishaupt, after being deprived of his professorship in Bavaria, found an asylum with the Prince of Coburg Gotha, where he remained in honor, affluence and security, until his death in 1830.
He continued all his life the Chief of the Illuminati, and this fact may account, in large measure, for the fidelity with which the Illuminati of the Revolution, the Directory, Consulate, the Empire, the Restoration, and the Revolution of 1830, invariably carried out his program of perpetual conspiracy for the ends he had in view.
It may also account for the strange vitality of the spirit of the Illuminati in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Spain, and of its continuance through the “Illuminated” reigns of Nubius and Palmerston, the successors of Weishaupt to our own day.