CHAPTER VIII. RATIONALISM AND ITS EFFECTS
The Prince-bishops of Mainz, Trier, and Cologne spared no pains to propagate these liberal views amongst those who were to be the future priests in their territories. In the University of Mainz Isenbiehl's views on Scripture brought him into conflict with the Church; Blau, the professor of dogma, denied the infallibility of the Church and of General Councils; while Dorsch, the professor of philosophy, was an ardent disciple of Kant. A similar state of affairs prevailed at the University of Trier, at Bonn which was established for the express purpose of combatting the ultramontanism and conservatism of Cologne, and to a more or less degree at Freiburg, Wurzburg, Ingolstadt, and Munich. By means of the universities and by the publication of various reviews these liberal theories were spread throughout Germany. An attempt was made to reform the discipline and liturgy of the Church so as to bring them into harmony with the new theology. Many advocated the abolition of popular devotions, the substitution of German for the Latin language in the missal and in the ritual, and the abolition of clerical celibacy.
In Bavaria matters reached a crisis when Weishaupt, a professor of canon law in Ingolstadt, founded a secret society known as the Illuminati for the overthrow of the Church and the civil authority, to make way for a universal republic in which the only religion would be the religion of humanity. His speculative views were borrowed largely from the Encyclopaedists, and his plan of organisation from the Freemasons. At first the society was confined to students, but with the accession of the Freiherr von Knigge it was determined to widen the sphere of its operations. Every effort was made to secure recruits. The Freemasons gave it strong support, and Ferdinand of Brunswick became one of its members. It had its statutes, ritual, and decrees. Fortunately the members quarrelled, and were foolish enough to carry their controversies into the public press. In this way the Bavarian government became acquainted with the dangerous character of the sect of the Illuminati, and a determined effort was made to secure its suppression (1784-1785).
Gould, History of Freemasonry, 3 vols., 1883-87. Findel,
Geschichte der Freimaurer, 3 auf., 1870 (Eng. Trans.). Claudio
Jannet, Les precurseurs de la Franc-maconnerie au XVIe et au
XVIIe siecle, 1887. Deschamps et Jannet, Les societes secretes
et la societe, 1882. Kloss, Geschichte der Freimaurer in
England, Ireland und Schottland, 1847. Hughan, Origin of the
English Rite of Freemasonry, 1884.
Whatever about the value of the fantastic legends invented to explain the origin of Freemasonry it is certain that the first grand lodge was formed in London on the Feast of St. John the Baptist (1717). That before this date there were a few scattered lodges in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and that these lodges were the sole remaining relics of a peculiar trade guild, composed of masons and of some of the higher classes as honorary members, there can be little doubt. The society spread rapidly in England, Scotland, and amongst the Protestant colony in Ireland. From Great Britain its principles were diffused throughout the rest of Europe. Freemason lodges were established in Paris (1725-1732), in Germany (1733), Portugal (1735), Holland (1735), Switzerland (1740), Denmark (1745), Italy (1763), and Sweden (1773). The Freemasons were bound together into a secret society, the members of which were obliged by oath and by the threat of severe penalties to obey orders and to maintain silence regarding its affairs. The society had its ritual, its degrees of apprentice, fellow, and master, and its passports and signs. The particular lodges in each country were united under a national grand lodge, and though the various attempts that have been made to bring about an international organisation have failed, yet there can be little doubt that Freemasons throughout the world maintain the closest relations, and at least in general policy act usually as one man. Freemasonry was patronised by members of the royal family in England, by Frederick II. of Prussia, Francis I. of Austria, the Grand Duke Francis Stephen of Tuscany, and by Philip Duke of Orleans, who accepted the office of grand master in France. Its members were recruited principally from the higher and middle classes, as the entrance fees and expenses made it impossible for anybody except the comparatively wealthy to become members. At the time when the society was formed it was the nobility and middle classes who formed public opinion in most countries, and it was thought that if these classes could be won over to support the principles of Freemasonry, they in turn could influence the mass of the people.