XV. KNIGHT OF THE EAST AND WEST. ( Part 1 of 2 )
This is the first of the Philosophical Degrees of the Ancient
and Accepted Scottish Rite; and the beginning of a course of in-
struction which will fully unveil to you the heart and inner mys-
teries of Masonry. Do not despair because you have often seemed
on the point of attaining the inmost light, and have as often been
disappointed. In all time, truth has been hidden under symbols,
and often under a succession of allegories: where veil after veil
had to be penetrated before the true Light was reached, and the
essential truth stood revealed. The Human Light is but an im-
perfect reflection of a ray of the Infinite and Divine.
We are about to approach those ancient Religions which once
ruled the minds of men, and whose ruins encumber the plains of
the great Past, as the broken columns of Palmyra and Tadmor lie
bleaching on the sands of the desert. They rise before us, those
old, strange, mysterious creeds and faiths, shrouded in the mists
of antiquity, and stalk dimly and undefined along the line which
divides Time from Eternity; and forms of strange, wild, startling
beauty mingled in the vast throngs of figures with shapes mon-
strous, grotesque, and hideous.
The religion taught by Moses, which, like the laws of Egypt,
enuciated the principle of exclusion, borrowed, at every period
of its existence, from all the creeds with which it came in contact.
While, by the studies of the learned and wise, it enriched itself
with the most admirable principles of the religions of Egypt and
Asia, it was changed, in the wanderings of the People, by every-
thing that was most impure or seductive in the pagan manners
and superstitions. It was one thing in the times of Moses and
Aaron, another in those of David and Solomon, and still another
in those of Daniel and Philo.
At the time when John the Baptist made his appearance in the
desert, near the shores of the Dead Sea, all the old philosophical
and religious systems were approximating toward each other. A
general lassitude inclined the minds of all toward the quietude of
that amalgamation of doctrines for which the expeditions of Alex-
ander and the more peaceful occurrences that followed, with the
establishment in Asia and Africa of many Grecian dynasties and
a great number of Grecian colonies, had prepared the way. After
the intermingling of different nations, which resulted from the
wars of Alexander in three-quarters of the globe, the doctrines of
Greece, of Egypt, of Persia, and of India, met and intermingled
All the barriers that had formerly kept the nations
apart, were thrown down; and while the People of the West
readily connected their faith with those of the East, those of the
Orient hastened to learn the traditions of Rome and the legends
of Athens. While the Philosophers of Greece, all (except the dis-
ciples of Epicurus) more or less Platonists, seized eargerly upon
the beliefs and doctrines of the East,--the Jews and Egyptians, be-
fore then the most exclusive of all peoples, yielded to that eclecti-
cism which prevailed among their masters, the Greeks and Romans.
Under the same influences of toleration, even those who em-
braced Christianity, mingled together the old and the new, Chris-
tianity and Philosophy, the Apostolic teachings and the traditions
of Mythology The man of intellect, devotee of one system,
rarely displaces it with another in all its purity.
The people take
such a creed as is offered them. Accordingly, the distinction be-
tween the esoteric and the exoteric doctrine, immemorial in other
creeds, easily gained a foothold among many of the Christians;
and it was held by a vast number, even during the preaching of
Paul, that the writings of the Apostles were incomplete; that they
contained only the germs of another doctrine, which must receive
from the hands of philosophy, not only the systematic arrange-
ment which was wanting, but all the development which lay con-
The writings of the Apostles, they said, in address-
ing themselves to mankind in general, enunciated only the articles
of the vulgar faith; but transmitted the mysteries of knowledge to
superior minds, to the Elect,--mysteries handed down from gen-
eration to generation in esoteric traditions; and to this science of
the mysteries they gave the name of Gnosis.
The Gnostics derived their leading doctrines and ideas from
Plato and Philo, the Zend-avesta and the Kabalah, and the Sacred
books of India and Egypt; and thus introduced into the bosom
of Christianity the cosmological and theosophical speculations,
which had formed the larger portion of the ancient religions of
the Orient, joined to those of the Egyptian, Greek, and Jewish
doctrines, which the Neo-Platonists had equally adopted in the
Emanation from the Deity of all spiritual beings, progressive
degeneration of these beings from emanation to emanation, re-
demption and return of all to the purity of the Creator; and,
after the re-establishment of the primitive harmony of all, a for-
tunate and truly divine condition of all, in the bosom of God;
such were the fundamental teachings of Gnosticism. The genius
of the Orient, with its contemplations, irradiations, and intuitions,
dictated its doctrines. Its language corresponded to its origin.
Full of imagery, it had all the magnificence, the inconsistencies,
and the mobility of the figurative style.
Behold, it said, the light, which emanates from an immense
centre of Light, that spreads everywhere its benevolent rays; so
do the spirits of Light emanate from the Divine Light. Behold,
all the springs which nourish, embellish, fertilize, and purify the
Earth; they emanate from one and the same ocean; so from the
bosom of the Divinity emanate so many streams, which form and
fill the universe of intelligences. Behold numbers, which all
emanate from one primitive number, all resemble it, all are com-
posed of its essence, and still vary infinitely; and utterances, de-
composable into so many syllables and elements, all contained in
the primitive Word, and still infinitely various; so the world of
Intelligences emanated from a Primary Intelligence, and they all
resemble it, and yet display an infinite variety of existences.
It revived and combined the old doctrines of the Orient and the
Occident; and it found in many passages of the Gospels and the
Pastoral letters, a warrant for doing so.
Christ himself spoke in
parables and allegories, John borrowed the enigmatical language
of the Platonists, and Paul often indulged in incomprehensible
rhapsodies, the meaning of which could have been clear to the
It is admitted that the cradle of Gnosticism is probably to be
looked for in Syria, and even in Palestine. Most of its expound-
ers wrote in that corrupted form of the Greek used by the Hellen-
istic Jews, and in the Septuagint and the New Testament; and
there is a striking analogy between their doctrines and those of
the Judaeo-Egyptian Philo, of Alexandria; itself the seat of three
schools, at once philosophic and religious--the Greek, the Egyp-
tian, and the Jewish.
Pythagoras and Plato, the most mystical of the Grecian Philos-
ophers (the latter heir to the doctrines of the former), and who
had travelled, the latter in Egypt, and the former in Phoenicia,
India, and Persia, also taught the esoteric doctrine and the distinc-
tion between the initiated and the profane. The dominant doc-
trines of Platonism were found in Gnosticism. Emanation of
Intelligences from the bosom of the Deity; the going astray in
error and the sufferings of spirits, so long as they are remote from
God, and imprisoned in matter; vain and long-continued efforts
to arrive at the knowledge of the Truth, and re-enter into their
primitive union with the Supreme Being; alliance of a pure and
divine soul with an irrational soul, the seat of evil desires; angels
or demons who dwell in and govern the planets, having but an
imperfect knowledge of the ideas that presided at the creation;
regeneration of all beings by their return to the kosmos
noetos, the world of Intelligences, and its Chief, the
Supreme Being; sole possible mode of re-establishing that primi-
tive harmony of the creation, of which the music of the spheres
of Pythagoras was the image; these were the analogies of the two
systems; and we discover in them some of the ideas that form a
part of Masonry; in which, in the present mutilated condition of
the symbolic Degrees, they are disguised and overlaid with fiction
and absurdity, or present themselves as casual hints that are pass-
ed by wholly unnoticed.
The distinction between the esoteric and exoteric doctrines (a
distinction purely Masonic), was always and from the very earliest
times preserved among the Greeks. It remounted to the fabulous
times of Orpheus; and the mysteries of Theosophy were found in
all their traditions and myths. And after the time of Alexander,
they resorted for instruction, dogmas, and mysteries, to all the
schools, to those of Egypt and Asia, as well as those of Ancient
Thrace, Sicily, Etruria, and Attica.
The Jewish-Greek School of Alexandria is known only by two
of its Chiefs, Aristobulus and Philo, both Jews of Alexandria in
Egypt. Belonging to Asia by its origin, to Egypt by its residence,
to Greece by its language and studies, it strove to show that all
truths embedded in the philosophies of other countries were trans-
planted thither from Palestine. Aristobulus declared that all the
facts and details of the Jewish Scriptures were so many allegories,
concealing the most profound meanings, and that Plato had bor-
rowed from them all his finest ideas. Philo, who lived a century
after him, following the same theory, endeavored to show that the
Hebrew writings, by their system of allegories, were the true
source of all religious and philosophical doctrines.
him, the literal meaning is for the vulgar alone. Whoever has
meditated on philosophy, purified himself by virtue, and raised
himself by contemplation, to God and the intellectual world, and
received their inspiration, pierces the gross envelope of the letter,
discovers a wholly different order of things, and is initiated into
mysteries, of which the elementary or literal instruction offers but
an imperfect image. A historical fact, a figure, a word, a letter, a
number, a rite, a custom, the parable or vision of a prophet, veils
the most profound truths; and he who has the key of science will
interpret all according to the light he possesses.
Again we see the symbolism of Masonry, and the search of the
Candidate for light. "Let men of narrow minds withdraw," he
says, "with closed ears. We transmit the divine mysteries to
those who have received the sacred initiation, to those who prac-
tise true piety and who are not enslaved by the empty trappings
of words or the preconceived opinions of the pagans."
To Philo, the Supreme Being was the Primitive Light, or the
Archetype of Light, Source whence the rays emanate that illumi-
nate Souls. He was also the Soul of the Universe, and as such
acted in all its parts. He Himself fills and limits His whole Being.
His Powers and Virtues fill and penetrate all. These Powers
(dunameis) are Spirits distinct from God, the "Ideas"
of Plato personified. He is without beginning, and lives in the
prototype of Time (aion).
His image is THE WORD, a form more brilliant than
fire; that not being the pure light. This LOGOS dwells in God;
for the Supreme Being makes to Himself within His Intelligence
the types or ideas of everything that is to become reality in this
World. The LOGOS is the vehicle by which God acts on the Uni-
verse, and may be compared to the speech of man.
The LOGOS being the World of Ideas, by means
whereof God has created visible things, He is the most ancient
God, in comparison with the World, which is the youngest pro-
duction. The LOGOS, Chief of Intelligence, of which He is the
general representative, is named Archangel, type and representa-
tive of all spirits, even those of mortals. He is also styled the
man-type and primitive man, Adam Kadmon.
God only is Wise. The wisdom of man is but the reflection and
image of that of God. He is the Father, and His WISDOM the
mother of creation: for He united Himself with WISDOM (Sophia),
and communicated to it the germ of creation, and it
brought forth the material world. He created the ideal world
only, and caused the material world to be made real after its type,
by His LOGOS, which is His speech, and at the same time the Idea
of Ideas, the Intellectual World. The Intellectual City was but
the Thought of the Architect, who meditated the creation, accord-
ing to that plan of the Material City.
The Word is not only the Creator, but occupies the place of the
Supreme Being. Through Him all the Powers and Attributes of
God act. On the other side, as first representative of the Human
Family, He is the Protector of men and their Shepherd.
God gives to man the Soul or Intelligence, which exists before
the body, and which he unites with the body. The reasoning
Principle comes from God through the Word, and communes with
God and with the Word; but there is also in man an irrational
Principle, that of the inclinations and passions which produce
disorder, emanating from inferior spirits who fill the air as
ministers of God. The body, taken from the Earth, and the
irrational Principle that animates it concurrently with the rational
Principle, are hated by God, while the rational soul which He
has given it, is, as it were, captive in this prison, this coffin, that
The present condition of man is not his primi-
tive condition, when he was the image of the Logos. He has
fallen from his first estate. But he may raise himself again, by
following the directions of WISDOM and of the Angels
which God has commissioned to aid him in freeing himself from
the bonds of the body, and combating Evil, the existence whereof
God has permitted, to furnish him the means of exercising his
liberty. The souls that are purified, not by the Law but by light,
rise to the Heavenly regions, to enjoy there a perfect felicity.
Those that persevere in evil go from body to body, the seats of
passions and evil desires. The familiar lineaments of these doc-
trines will be recognized by all who read the Epistles of St. Paul,
who wrote after Philo, the latter living till the reign of Caligula,
and being the contemporary of Christ.
And the Mason is familiar with these doctrines of Philo: that
the Supreme Being is a centre of Light whose rays or emanations
pervade the Universe; for that is the Light for which all Masonic
journeys are a search, and of which the sun and moon in our
Lodges are only emblems: that Light and Darkness, chief enemies
from the beginning of Time, dispute with each other the empire
of the world; which we symbolize by the candidate wandering in
darkness and being brought to light: that the world was created,
not by the Supreme Being, but by a secondary agent, who is but
His WORD, and by types which are but his ideas,
aided by an INTELLIGENCE, or WISDOM, which gives one
of His Attributes; in which we see the occult meaning of the ne-
cessity of recovering "the Word"; and of our two columns of
STRENGTH and WISDOM, which are also the two parallel lines that
bound the circle representing the Universe: that the visible world
is the image of the invisible world; that the essence of the Human
Soul is the image of God, and it existed before the body; that the
object of its terrestrial life is to disengage itself of its body or its
sepulchre; and that it will ascend to the Heavenly regions when-
ever it shall be purified; in which we see the meaning, now almost
forgotten in our Lodges, of the mode of preparation of the candi-
date for apprenticeship, and his tests and purifications in the first
Degree, according to the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
Philo incorporated in his eclecticism neither Egyptian nor
Oriental elements. But there were other Jewish Teachers in Alex-
andria who did both. The Jews of Egypt were slightly jealous of,
and a little hostile to, those of Palestine, particularly after the
erection of the sanctuary at Leontopolis by the High-Priest Onias;
and therefore they admired and magnified those sages, who, like
Jeremiah, had resided in Egypt.
"The wisdom of Solomon" was
written at Alexandria, and, in the time of St. Jerome, was attrib-
uted to Philo; but it contains principles at variance with his.
It personifies Wisdom, and draws between its children and the
Profane, the same line of demarcation that Egypt had long before
taught to the Jews. That distinction existed at the beginning of
the Mosaic creed.
Moshah himself was an Initiate in the mysteries
of Egypt, as he was compelled to be, as the adopted son of the
daughter of Pharaoh, Thouoris, daughter of Sesostris-Ramses;
who, as her tomb and monuments show, was, in the right of her
infant husband, Regent of Lower Egypt or the Delta at the time
of the Hebrew Prophet's birth, reigning at Heliopolis. She was
also, as the reliefs on her tomb show, a Priestess of HATHOR and
NEITH, the two great primeval goddesses. As her adopted son,
living in her Palace and presence forty years, and during that
time scarcely acquainted with his brethren the Jews, the law of
Egypt compelled his initiation: and we find in many of his enact-
ments the intention of preserving, between the common people
and the Initiates, the line of separation which he found in Egypt.
Moshah and Aharun his brother, the whole series of High-Priests,
the Council of the 70 Elders, Salomoh and the entire succession
of Prophets, were in possession of a higher science; and of that
science Masonry is, at least, the lineal descendant.
It was famili-
arly known as THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORD.
AMUN, at first the God of Lower Egypt only, where Moshah
was reared (a word that in Hebrew means Truth), was the Su-
preme God. He was styled "the Celestial Lord, who sheds Light
on hidden things." He was the source of that divine life, of which
the crux ansata is the symbol; and the source of all power. He
united all the attributes that the Ancient Oriental Theosophy
assigned to the Supreme Being. He was the Pleroma,
or "Fullness of things," for He comprehended in Himself every-
thing; and the LIGHT; for he was the Sun-God. He was un-
changeable in the midst of everything phenomenal in his worlds.
He created nothing; but everything emanated from Him; and of
Him all the other Gods were but manifestations.
The Ram was His living symbol; which you see reproduced in
this Degree, lying on the book with seven seals on the tracing-
board. He caused the creation of the world by the Primitive
Thought (Ennoia), or Spirit (Pneuma), that
issued from him by means of his Voice or the WORD; and which
Thought or Spirit was personified as the Goddess NEITH. She,
too, was a divinity of Light, and mother of the Sun; and the Feast
of Lamps was celebrated in her honor at Sais.
Power, another manifestation of Deity, proceeding to the creation
conceived of in her, the Divine Intelligence, produced with its
Word the Universe, symbolized by an egg issuing from the mouth
of KNEPH; from which egg came PHTHA, image of the Supreme
Intelligence as realized in the world, and the type of that mani-
fested in man; the principal agent, also, of Nature, or the creative
and productive Fire. PHRE or RS, the Sun, or Celestial Light,
whose symbol was the point within a circle, was the son of
PHTHA; and TIPHE, his wife, or the celestial firmament, with the
seven celestial bodies, animated by spirits of genii that govern
them, was represented on many of the monuments, clad in blue
or yellow, her garments sprinkled with stars, and accompanied by
the sun, moon, and five planets; and she was the type of Wisdom,
and they of the Seven Planetary Spirits of the Gnostics, that with
her presided over and governed the sublunary world.
In this Degree, unknown for a hundred years to those who have
practised it, these emblems reproduced refer to these old doctrines.
The lamb, the yellow hangings strewed with stars, the seven
columns, candlesticks, and seals all recall them to us.
The Lion was the symbol of ATHOM-RE, the Great God of
Upper Egypt; the Hawk, of RA or PHRE; the Eagle, of MENDES;
the Bull, of APIS; and three of these are seen under the platform
on which our altar stands.
The first HERMES was the INTELLIGENCE, or WORD of God.
Moved with compassion for a race living without law, and wishing
to teach them that they sprang from His bosom, and to point out
to them the way that they should go (the books which the first
Hermes, the same with Enoch, had written on the mysteries of
divine science, in the sacred characters, being unknown to those
who lived after the flood), God sent to man OSIRIS and ISIS, ac-
accompanied by THOTH, the incarnation or terrestrial repetition of
the first Hermes; who taught men the arts, science, and the cer-
emonies of religion; and then ascended to Heaven or the Moon.
OSIRIS was the Principle of Good. TYPHON, like AHRIMAN, was
the principle and source of all that is evil in the moral and physi-
cal order. Like the Satan of Gnosticism, he was confounded
From Egypt or Persia the new Platonists borrowed the idea,
and the Gnostics received it from them, that man, in his terres-
trial career, is successively under the influence of the Moon, of
Mercury, of Venus, of the Sun, of Mars, of Jupiter, and of
Saturn, until he finally reaches the Elysian Fields; an idea again
symbolized in the Seven Seals.
The Jews of Syria and Judea were the direct precursors of
Gnosticism; and in their doctrines were ample oriental elements.
These Jews had had with the Orient, at two different periods, inti-
mate relations, familiarizing them with the doctrines of Asia, and
especially of Chaldea and Persia;--their forced residence in Cen-
tral Asia under the Assyrians and Persians; and their voluntary
dispersion over the whole East, when subjects of the Seleucidae
and the Romans. Living near two-thirds of a century, and many
of them long afterward, in Mesopotamia, the cradle of their race;
speaking the same language, and their children reared with those
of the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Medes, and Persians, and receiving
from them their names (as the case of Danayal, who was called
Baeltasatsar, proves), they necessarily adopted many of the doc-
trines of their conquerors. Their descendants, as Azra and Na-
hamaiah show us, hardly desired to leave Persia, when they were
allowed to do so.
They had a special jurisdiction, and governors
and judges taken from their own people; many of them held high
office, and their children were educated with those of the highest
nobles. Danayal was the friend and minister of the King, and
the Chief of the College of the Magi at Babylon; if we may be-
lieve the book which bears his name, and trust to the incidents
related in its highly figurative and imaginative style. Mordecai,
too, occupied a high station, no less than that of Prime Minister,
and Esther or Astar, his cousin, was the Monarch's wife.
The Magi of Babylon were expounders of figurative writings,
interpreters of nature, and of dreams,--astronomers and divines;
and from their influences arose among the Jews, after their rescue
from captivity, a number of sects, and a new exposition, the mys-
tical interpretation, with all its wild fancies and infinite caprices.
The Aions of the Gnostics, the Ideas of Plato, the Angels of the
Jews, and the Demons of the Greeks, all correspond to the
Ferouers of Zoroaster.
A great number of Jewish families remained permanently in
their new country; and one of the most celebrated of their schools
was at Babylon. They were soon familiarized with the doctrine
of Zoroaster, which itself was more ancient than Kuros. From
the system of the Zend-Avesta they borrowed, and subsequently
gave large development to, everything that could be reconciled
with their own faith; and these additions to the old doctrine were
soon spread, by the constant intercourse of commerce, into Syria
In the Zend-Avesta, God is Illimitable Time. No origin can be
assigned to Him: He is so entirely enveloped in His glory, His
nature and attributes are so inaccessible to human Intelligence,
that He can be only the object of a silent Veneration. Creation
took place by emanation from Him. The first emanation was the
primitive Light, and from that the King of Light, ORMUZD. By
the "WORD," Ormuzd created the world pure. He is its pre-
server and Judge; a Being Holy and Heavenly; Intelligence and
Knowledge; the First-born of Time without limits; and invested
with all the Powers of the Supreme Being.
Still he is, strictly speaking, the Fourth Being. He had a
Ferouer, a pre-existing Soul (in the language of Plato, a type or
ideal); and it is said of Him, that He existed from the beginning,
in the primitive Light. But, that Light being but an element,
and His Ferouer a type, he is, in ordinary language, the First-born
of ZEROUANE-AKHERENE. Behold again "THE WORD"
of Masonry; the Man, on the Tracing-Board of this Degree; the
LIGHT toward which all Masons travel.
He created after his own image, six Genii called Amshaspands,
who surround his Throne, are his organs of communication with
inferior spirits and men, transmit to Him their prayers, solicit for
them His favors, and serve them as models of purity and perfec-
tion. Thus we have the Demiourgos of Gnosticism, and the six
Genii that assist him. These are the Hebrew Archangels of the
The names of these Amshaspands are Bahman, Ardibehest,
Schariver, Sapandomad, Khordad, and Amerdad.
The fourth, the Holy SAPANDOMAD, created the first man and
Then ORMUZD created 28 Iseds, of whom MITHERAS is the chief.
They watch, with Ormuzd and the Amshaspands, over the happi-
ness, purity, and preservation of the world, which is under their
government; and they are also models for mankind and interpre-
ters of men's prayers. With Mithras and Ormuzd, they make a
pleroma (or complete number) of 30, corresponding to the thirty
Aions of the Gnostics, and to the ogdoade, dodecade, and decade
of the Egyptians. Mithras was the Sun-God, invoked with, and
soon confounded with him, becoming the object of a special wor-
ship, and eclipsing Ormuzd himself.
The third order of pure spirits is more numerous. They are
the Ferouers, the THOUGHTS of Ormuzd, or the IDEAS which he
conceived before proceeding to the creation of things. They too
are superior to men. They protect them during their life on earth;
they will purify them from evil at their resurrection. They are
their tutelary genii, from the fall to the complete regeneration.
AHRIMAN, second-born of the Primitive Light, emanated from
it, pure like ORMUZD; but, proud and ambitious, yielded to jeal-
ousy of the First-born. For his hatred and pride, the Eternal
condemned him to dwell, for 12,000 years, in that part of space
where no ray of light reaches; the black empire of darkness. In
that period the struggle between Light and Darkness, Good and
Evil will be terminated.
AHRIMAN scorned to submit, and took the field against OR-
MUZD. To the good spirits created by his Brother, he opposed an
innumerable army of Evil Ones. To the seven Amshaspands he
opposed seven Archdevs, attached to the seven Planets; to the
Izeds and Ferouers an equal number of Devs, which brought
upon the world all moral and physical evils. Hence Poverty,
Maladies, Impurity, Envy, Chagrin, Drunkenness, Falsehood,
Calumny, and their horrible array.
The image of Ahriman was the Dragon, confounded by the
Jews with Satan and the Serpent-Tempter. After a reign of 3000
years, Ormuzd had created the Material World, in six periods,
calling successively into existence the Light, Water, Earth, plants,
animals, and Man. But Ahriman concurred in creatmg the earth
and water; for darkness was already an element, and Ormuzd
could not exclude its Master. So also the two concurred in pro-
ducing Man. Ormuzd produced, by his Will and Word, a Being
that was the type and source of universal life for everything that
exists under Heaven. He placed in man a pure principle, or Life,
proceeding from the Supreme Being. But Ahriman destroyed
that pure principle, in the form wherewith it was clothed; and
when Ormuzd had made, of its recovered and purified essence, the
first man and woman, Ahriman seduced and tempted them with
wine and fruits; the woman yielding first.
Often, during the three latter periods of 3000 years each, Ahri-
man and Darkness are, and are to be, triumphant. But the pure
souls are assisted by the Good Spirits; the Triumph of Good is
decreed by the Supreme Being, and the period of that triumph
will infallibly arrive. When the world shall be most afflicted with
the evils poured out upon it by the spirits of perdition, three
Prophets will come to bring relief to mortals. SOSIOSCH, the
principal of the Three, will regenerate the earth, and restore to it
its primitive beauty, strength, and purity. He will judge the good
and the wicked. After the universal resurrection of the good, he
will conduct them to a home of everlasting happiness. Ahriman,
his evil demons, and all wicked men, will also be purified in a tor-
rent of melted metal. The law of Ormuzd will reign everywhere;
all men will be happy; all, enjoying unalterable bliss, will sing
with Sosiosch the praises of the Supreme Being.
These doctrines, the details of which were sparingly borrowed
by the Pharisaic Jews, were much more fully adopted by the
Gnostics; who taught the restoration of all things, their return to
their original pure condition, the happiness of those to be saved,
and their admission to the feast of Heavenly Wisdom.
The doctrines of Zoroaster came originally from Bactria, an
Indian Province of Persia. Naturally, therefore, it would include
Hindu or Buddhist elements, as it did. The fundamental idea of
Buddhism was, matter subjugating the intelligence, and intelli-
gence freeing itself from that slavery. Perhaps something came
to Gnosticism from China. "Before the chaos which preceded
the birth of Heaven and Earth," says Lao-Tseu, "a single Being
existed, immense and silent, immovable and ever active--the
mother of the Universe. I know not its name: but I designate it
by the word Reason. Man has his type and model in the Earth;
Earth in Heaven; Heaven in Reason; and Reason in Itself."
Here again are the Ferouers, the Ideas, the Aions--the REASON
or INTELLIGENCE, SILENCE, WORD, and
WISDOM of the Gnostics.
The dominant system among the Jews after their captivity was
that of the Pharoschim or Pharisees. Whether their name was
derived from that of the Parsees, or followers of Zoroaster, or
from some other source, it is certain that they had borrowed much
of their doctrine from the Persians. Like them they claimed to
have the exclusive and mysterious knowledge, unknown to the
mass. Like them they taught that a constant war was waged be-
tween the Empire of Good and that of Evil. Like them they at-
tributed the sin and fall of man to the demons and their chief; and
like them they admitted a special protection of the righteous by
inferior beings, agents of Jehovah. All their doctrines on these
subjects were at bottom those of the Holy Books; but singularly
developed and the Orient was evidently the source from which
those developments came.
They styled themselves Interpreters; a name indicating their
claim to the exclusive possession of the true meaning of the Holy
Writings, by virtue of the oral tradition which Moses had re-
ceived on Mount Sinai, and which successive generations of Ini-
tiates had transmitted, as they claimed, unaltered, unto them.
Their very costume, their belief in the influences of the stars, and
in the immortality and transmigration of souls, their system of
angels and their astronomy, were all foreign.
Sadduceeism arose merely from an opposition essentially Jewish,
to these foreign teachings, and that mixture of doctrines, adopted
by the Pharisees, and which constituted the popular creed.
We come at last to the Essenes and Therapeuts, with whom
this Degree is particularly concerned. That intermingling of
oriental and occidental rites, of Persian and Pythagorean opinions,
which we have pointed out in the doctrines of Philo, is unmistak-
able in the creeds of these two sects.
They were less distinguished by metaphysical speculations than
by simple meditations and moral practices. But the latter always
partook of the Zoroastrian principle, that it was necessary to free
the soul from the trammels and influences of matter; which led
to a system of abstinence and maceration entirely opposed to the
ancient Hebrai cideas, favorable as they were to physical pleasures.
In general, the life and manners of these mystical associa-
tions, as Philo and Josephus describe them, and particularly their
prayers at sunrise, seem the image of what the Zend-Avesta pre-
scribes to the faithful adorer or Ormuzd; and some of their
observances cannot otherwise be explained.
The Therapeuts resided in Egypt, in the neighborhood of Alex-
andria; and the Essenes in Palestine, in the vicinity of the Dead
Sea. But there was nevertheless a striking coincidence in their
ideas, readily explained by attributing it to a foreign influence.
The Jews of Egypt, under the influence of the School of Alexan-
dria, endeavored in general to make their doctrines harmonize
with the traditions of Greece; and thence came, in the doctrines
of the Therapeuts, as stated by Philo, the many analogies between
the Pythagorean and Orphic ideas, on one side, and those of Ju-
daism on the other: while the Jews of Palestine, having less com-
munication with Greece, or contemning its teachings, rather im-
bibed the Oriental doctrines, which they drank in at the source
and with which their relations with Persia made them familiar.
This attachment was particularly shown in the Kabalah, which
belonged rather to Palestine than to Egypt, though extensively
known in the latter; and furnished the Gnostics with some of
their most striking theories.
It is a significant fact, that while Christ spoke often of the
Pharisees and Sadducees, He never once mentioned the Essenes,
between whose doctrines and His there was so great a resem-
blance, and, in many points, so perfect an identity. Indeed, they
are not named, nor even distinctly alluded to, anywhere in the
John, the son of a Priest who ministered in the Temple at
Jerusalem, and whose mother was of the family of Aharun, was
in the deserts until the day of his showing unto Israel. He drank
neither wine nor strong drink. Clad in hair-cloth, and with a
girdle of leather, and feeding upon such food as the desert afford-
ed, he preached, in the country about Jordan, the baptism of re-
pentance, for the remission of sins; that is, the necessity of repent-
ance proven by reformation. He taught the people charity and
liberality; the publicans, justice, equity, and fair dealing; the
soldiery peace, truth, and contentment; to do violence to none,
accuse none falsely, and be content with their pay. He incul-
cated necessity of a virtuous life, and the folly of trusting to
their descent from Abraham.
He denounced both Pharisees and Sadducees as a generation of
vipers threatened with the anger of God. He baptized those who
confessed their sins. He preached in the desert; and therefore in
the country where the Essenes lived, professing the same doctrines.
He was imprisoned before Christ began to preach. Matthew men-
tions him without preface or explanation; as if, apparently, his
history was too well known to need any. "In those days," he
says, "came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of
Judea." His disciples frequently fasted; for we find them with
the Pharisees coming to Jesus to inquire why His Disciples did
not fast as often as they; and He did not denounce them, as His
habit was to denounce the Pharisees; but answered them kindly
From his prison, John sent two of his disciples to inquire of
Christ: "Art thou he that is to come, or do we look for another ?"
Christ referred them to his miracles as an answer; and declared
to the people that John was a prophet, and more than a prophet,
and that no greater man had ever been born; but that the hum-
blest Christian was his superior. He declared him to be Elias,
who was to come.
John had denounced to Herod his marriage with his brother's
wife as unlawful; and for this he was imprisoned, and finally exe-
cuted to gratify her. His disciples buried him; and Herod and
others thought he had risen from the dead and appeared again in
the person of Christ. The people all regarded John as a prophet;
and Christ silenced the Priests and Elders by asking them whether
he was inspired. They feared to excite the anger of the people by
saying that he was not. Christ declared that he came "in the way
of righteousness"; and that the lower classes believed him, though
the Priests and Pharisees did not.
Thus John, who was often consulted by Herod, and to whom
that monarch showed great deference and was often governed by
his advice; whose doctrine prevailed very extensively among the
people and the publicans, taught some creed older than Chris-
tianity. That is plain: and it is equally plain, that the very large
body of the Jews that adopted his doctrines, were neither Phari-
sees nor Sadducees, but the humble, common people. They must,
therefore, have been Essenes. It is plain, too, that Christ applied
for baptism as a sacred rite, well known and long practiced. It
was becoming to him, he said, to fulfill all righteousness.
In the 18th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles we read thus:
"And a certain Jew, named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an elo-
quent man, and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This
man was instructed in the way of the Lord, and, being fervent in
spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, know-
ing only the baptism of John; and he began to speak boldly in
the synagogue; whom, when Aquilla and Priscilla had heard, they
took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God
Translating this from the symbolic and figurative language
into the true ordinary sense of the Greek text, it reads thus: "And
a certain Jew, named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent
man, and of extensive learning, came to Ephesus. He had learned
in the mysteries the true doctrine in regard to God; and, being a
zealous enthusiast, he spoke and taught diligently the truths in
regard to the Deity, having received no other baptism than that
of John." He knew nothing in regard to Christianity; for he
had resided in Alexandria, and had just then come to Ephesus;
being, probably, a disciple of Philo, and a Therapeut.
"That, in all times," says St. Augustine, "is the Christian re-
ligion, which to know and follow is the most sure and certain
health, called according to that name, but not according to the
thing itself, of which it is the name; for the thing itself, which
is now called the Christian religion, really was known to the An-
cients, nor was wanting at any time from the beginning of the
human race, until the time when Christ came in the flesh; from
whence the true religion, which had previously existed, began to
be called Christian; and this in our days is the Christian religion,
not as having been wanting in former times, but as having, in
later times, received this name." The disciples were first called
"Christians," at Antioch, when Barnabas and Paul began to
The Wandering or Itinerant Jews or Exorcists, who assumed
to employ the Sacred Name in exorcising evil spirits, were no
doubt Therapeutae or Essenes.
"And it it came to pass," we read in the 19th chapter of the Acts,
verses 1 to 4, "that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul, having
passed through the upper parts of Asia Minor, came to Ephesus;
and finding certain disciples, he said to them, 'Have ye received
the Holy Ghost since ye became Believers ?' And they said unto
him, 'We have not so much as heard that there is any Holy
Ghost.' And he said to them, 'In what, then, were you baptized ?'
And they said 'In John's baptism.' Then said Paul, 'John in-
deed baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people
that they should believe in Him who was to come after him, that
is, in Jesus Christ. When they heard this, they were baptized in
the name of the Lord Jesus."
This faith, taught by John, and so nearly Christianity, could
have been nothing but the doctrine of the Essenes; and there can
be no doubt that John belonged to that sect. The place where he
preached, his macerations and frugal diet, the doctrines he taught,
all prove it conclusively. There was no other sect to which he
could have belonged; certainly none so numerous as his, except
We find, from the two letters written by Paul to the brethren at
Corinth, that City of Luxury and Corruption, that there were
contentions among them. Rival sects had already, about the 57th
year of our era, reared their banners there, as followers, some of
Paul, some of Apollos, and some of Cephas. Some of them de-
nied the resurrection. Paul urged them to adhere to the doctrines
taught by himself, and had sent Timothy to them to bring them
afresh to their recollection.
According to Paul, Christ was to come again. He was to put
an end to all other Principalities and Powers, and finally to Death,
and then be Himself once more merged in God; who should then
be all in all.
end part 1 of 2