(Wikipedia) “John Robison FRSE (4 February 1739 – 30 January 1805) was a British physicist and mathematician. He was a professor of natural philosophy (the precursor of natural science) at the University of Edinburgh.
A member of the Edinburgh Philosophical Society when it received its royal warrant, he was appointed as the first general secretary to the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1783–98). Robison invented the siren and also worked with James Watt on an early steam car. Following the French Revolution, Robison became disenchanted with elements of the Enlightenment. He authored Proofs of a Conspiracy in 1797—a polemic accusing Freemasonry of being infiltrated by Weishaupt’s Order of the Illuminati. His son was the inventor Sir John Robison (1778–1843)”. Read more
“Were this all, the harm would not be great. But long before good opportunities had occurred for spreading the refinements on the simple Free Masonry of England, the Lodges in France had become places of very serious discussion, where opinions in morals, in religion, and in politics, had been promulgated and maintained with a freedom and a keenness, of which we in this favoured land have no adequate notion, because we are unacquainted with the restraints which, in other countries, are laid on ordinary conversation. In consequence of this, the French innovations in Free Masonry were quickly followed in all parts of Europe, by the admission of similar discussions, although in direct opposition to a standing rule, and a declaration made to every newly received Brother, “that nothing touching the religion or government shall ever be spoken of in the Lodge.“ But the Lodges in other countries followed the example of France, and have frequently become the rendezvous of innovators in religion and politics, and other disturbers of the public peace”.
“In short, I have found that the covert of a Mason Lodge had been employed in every country for venting and propagating sentiments in religion and politics, that could not have circulated in public without exposing the author to great danger. I found, that this impunity had gradually encouraged men of licentious principles to become more bold, and to teach doctrines subversive of all our notions of morality—of all our confidence in the moral government of the universe—of all our hopes of improvement in a future state of existence—and of all satisfaction and contentment with our present life, so long as we live in a state of civil subordination. I have been able to trace these attempts, made, through a course of fifty years, under the specious pretext of enlightening the world by the torch of philosophy, and of dispelling the clouds of civil and religious superstition which keep the nations of Europe in darkness and slavery. I have observed these doctrines gradually diffusing and mixing with all the different systems of Free Masonry; till, at last, an Association has been formed for the express purpose of rooting out all the religious establishments, and overturning all the existing governments of Europe. (it turned into a mass movement; like a cult) I have seen this Association exerting itself zealously and systematically, till it has become almost irresistible: And I have seen that the most active leaders in the French Revolution were members of this Association, and conducted their first movements according to its principles, and by means of its instructions and assistance, formally requested and obtained: And, lastly, I have seen that this Association still exists, still works in secret, and that not only several appearances among ourselves show that its emissaries are endeavouring to propagate their detestable doctrines among us, but that the Association has Lodges in Britain corresponding with the mother Lodge at Munich ever since 1784.” (the book was written in 1797)
…….I can produce proofs. There was a Baron Knigge residing at that time in the neighbourhood of Frankfort, of whom I shall afterwards have occasion frequently to speak. This man was an enthusiast in Masonry from his youth, and had run through every possible degree of it. He was dissatisfied with them all, and particularly with the frivolity of the French chivalry; but he still believed that Masonry contained invaluable secrets. He imagined that he saw a glimpse of them in the cosmo-political and sceptical discourses in their Lodges; he sat down to meditate on these, and soon collected his thoughts, and found that those French orators were right without knowing it; and that Masonry was pure natural religion and universal citizenship, and that this was also true Christianity. In this faith he immediately began his career of Brotherly love, and published three volumes of sermons; the first and third published at Frankfort, and the second at Heidelberg, but without his name. He published also a popular system of religion. In all these publications, of which there are extracts in the Religions Begebenheiten, Christianity is considered as a mere allegory (this is true, though), or a Masonic type of natural religion; the moral duties are spun into the common-place declamations of universal benevolence; and the attention is continually directed to the absurdities and horrors of superstition, the sufferings of the poor, the tyranny and oppression of the great, the tricks of the priests, and the indolent simplicity and patience of the laity and of the common people. The happiness of the patriarchal life, and sweets of universal equality and freedom, are the burden of every paragraph; and the general tenor of the whole is to make men discontented with their condition of civil subordination, and the restraints of revealed religion.
(It sounds like it was the New Age Movement of its time — maybe there is two sides to this coin..)
……..But in the same manner as a young man who has been long confined by sickness, exults in returning health, and is apt to riot in the enjoyment of what he so distinctly feels; so those who are under continual check in open society, feel this emancipation in those hidden assemblies, and indulge with eagerness in the expression of sentiments which in public they must smother within their own breast. Such meetings, therefore, have a zest that is very alluring, and they are frequented with avidity………
…….”Mason Lodges even keep this alive. The fraternal equality professed in them is very flattering to those who have not succeeded in the scramble for civil distinctions. Such persons become the most zealous Masons, and generally obtain the active offices in the Lodges, and have an opportunity of treating with authority persons whom in public society they must look up to with some respect“.
In a periodical work, published at Neuwied, called Algemein Zeitung der Freymaurerey, we have the list of the Lodges in 1782, with the names of the Office-bearers. Four-fifths of these are clergymen, professors, persons having offices in the common law-courts, men of letters by trade, such as reviewers and journalists, and other pamphleteers;
…a class of men, who generally think that they have not attained that rank in society to which their talents entitle them (maybe they didn’t due to the entrenched aristocratic class that existed at that time?) , and imagine that they could discharge the important offices of the state with reputation to themselves and advantage to the public.
The miserable uncertainty and instability of the Masonic faith, which I described above, was not altogether the effect of mere chance, but had been greatly accelerated by the machinations of Baron Knigge, and some other cosmo-political Brethren whom he had called to his assistance. Knigge had now formed a scheme for uniting the whole Fraternity, for the purpose of promoting his Utopian plan of universal benevolence in a state of liberty and equality.