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Theosophists

There were many theosophists --enthusiasts whom Vaughan calls "noble Specimens of the mystic" but those with whom the history of Freemasonry has most to do were the mystical religious thinkers of the eighteenth century, who supposed that they were possessed of a knowledge of the Divinity and His works by supernatural inspiration, or who regarded the foundation of their mystical tenets as resting on a sort of divine intuition. Such were ,Swedenborg, who, if not himself a Masonic reformer, has supplied the materials of many Degrees; the Moravian Brethren, the original object of Whose association is said to have been the propagation of the Gospel under the Masonic veil; Saint Martin, founder of the Philalethans; Pernettv, to whom we owe the Order of the Illuminati at Avignon; and Chastallier. who was the inventor of the Rite of Illuminated Theosophists.

'The object proposed in all these theosophic Degrees was the regeneration of man, and his reintegration into the primitive innocence from which he had fallen by original sin. Theosophic Freemasonry was, in fact, nothing else than an application of the speculative ideas of Jacob Bhme, of Swedenborg, and other mystical philosophers of the same class.

Vaughan, in his Hours with the Mystics (ii, page 46) thus describes the earlier theosophists of the four-teenth century "They believed devoutly in the genuineness of the Cabala. They were persuaded that, beneath all the floods of change, this oral tradition had perpetuated its life unharmed from the days of Moses downward--even as Jewish fable taught them that the cedars alone, of all trees, had continued to spread the strength of their invulnerable arms below the waters of the deluge. They rejoiced in the hidden lore of that book as in a treasure rich with the germs of all philosophy. They maintained that from its marvelous leaves man might learn the angelic heraldry of the skies, the mysteries of the Divine Nature the means of converse with the potentates of heaven."

Add to this an equal reverence for the unfathomable mysteries contained in the prophecies of Daniel and the vision of the Evangelist, with a proneness to give to everything Divine a symbolic interpretation, and you have the true character of those later theosophists who labored to invent their particular systems of Freemasonry. For more of this subject, see the article on Saint Martin. Nothing now remains of theosophic Freemasonry except the few traces left through the influence of Zinnendorf in the Swedish system, and what we find in the Apocalyptic Degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. The system of Swedenborg, Pernetty, Paschalis, Saint Martin, and Chastanier have all become obsolete.

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