p. 555

and that the promotion of the Brethren, the merits and demerits of the assemblies, of the Lodges, and of their Superiors, are to be judged.

When treating of Secrecy, “The Prefect is informed, that this is the most essential article; and it is on that account that even in countries where the Sect may have acquired sufficient power to throw off its mask, it is to remain veiled in darkness.”

“The Prefect is always to hide with dexterity the real object of his views according to local circumstances. Let him agree with the Provincial on what shape he shall assume to conceal the Order. As in the religious institutions of the Roman Church, where religion, alas! is but a pretext; exactly so, only in a nobler manner, must we enwrap our Order in the forms of a mercantile society, or some other exterior of a similar nature.”

In vain would the reader ask me, whence the Illuminized Code had taken the idea of Religion being only a pretext for the religious institutions in the Catholic Church. It has not come to my knowledge, that the most barefaced Sophisters have ever advanced a calumny of this sort. I have seen the religious founders, such as St. Francis, St. Benedict, or St. Basil, and other founders of orders, described by the Sophisters as superstitious enthusiasts. But even among the apostates who must have been acquainted with the Orders they had lived in, we have never heard one pretend that Religion was only a pretext either for the institution they abandoned, or for their ancient brethren. Did any of them ever assert, that ambition, avarice, or any pretext beside Religion, had given rise to the foundation of the Order of the Capuchins, Friars, Benedictines, or Carmelites, and of so many other convents destined for men or women? This, however, is not a calumny originating with Weishaupt; it is not to be found in his instructions sent to Knigge, and on which the latter formed the Code of Laws for the Regents and Local Superiors, though he subjoined many of his own ideas. Knigge was totally ignorant of every thing relating to religious Orders. Weishaupt was born a Roman Catholic, and might indeed, in his impiety, have repeated the ideas of many apostate Sophisters, or have left this strange comparison of his Illuminism with the religious institutes, since it was in the Code: but I should be truly surprized were I to find that it was a Calumny of his invention. He knew too well how much he stood in need of darkness to envelope his designs; and he also knew, that in the Roman Catholic Church no religious institute was adopted, until it had been made public and examined by the constituted authorities.

After this absurd calumny follows a recapitulation of every thing we have already exposed to our readers in the first Chapters of this Volume, on the necessity of hiding the proceedings and even the very existence of the Lodges. But I find the following additions in this place.

“Lest the number of the Brethren should expose them to discovery, by their assemblies being too numerous, the Prefect will take care that no more than ten members shall assemble in the same Minerval Church.”

p. 556

“Should any place contain a greater number of pupils, the Lodges must be multiplied, or different days of assembly must be assigned, that all may not meet at once; and should there be several Minerval Churches in the same town, the Prefect will take care that those of one Lodge shall know nothing of the others.” For the better direction of the lower part of the edifice, he will observe the following rules—He is to nominate the Magistrates of the Minervals; but the chief of these Magistrates can only be named with the consent of the Provincial. He will be responsible for those he names.—He will overlook the Masonic and Minerval Lodges, to see that every thing is regularly and punctually executed. He will not permit any discourses to be delivered there which may give any strong suspicions of what is contriving against Religion, the state, or morals.—He will suffer no Brother to be advanced to the higher degrees before he has acquired the requisite qualities and principles; on this point, says the Code, he cannot carry his precautions, anxiety, and scrupulosity too far.

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