XVII. KNIGHT OF THE EAST AND WEST. ( Part 2 of 2 )


The forms and ceremonies of the Essenes were symbolical. They had, according to Philo the Jew, four Degrees; the members being divided into two Orders, the Practici and Therapeutici; the latter being the contemplative and medical Brethren; and the former the active, practical, business men. They were Jews by birth; and had a greater affection for each other than the mem- bers of any other sect. Their brotherly love was intense. They fulfilled the Christian law, "Love one another." They despised riches. No one was to be found among them, having more than another. The possessions of one were intermingled with those of the others; so that they all had but one patrimony, and were brethren. Their piety toward God was extraordinary.
Before sunrise they never spake a word about profane matters; but put up certain prayers which they had received from their forefathers. At dawn of day, and before it was light, their prayers and hymns ascended to Heaven. They were eminently faithful and true, and the Ministers of Peace. They had mysterious ceremonies, and initiations into their mysteries; and the Candidate promised that he would ever practise fidelity to all men, and especially to those in authority, "because no one obtains the government without God's assistance."

Whatever they said, was firmer than an oath; but they avoided swearing, and esteemed it worse than perjury. They were simple in their diet and mode of living, bore torture with fortitude, and despised death. They cultivated the science of medicine and were very skillful. They deemed it a good omen to dress in white robes. They had their own courts, and passed righteous judgments.
They kept the Sabbath more rigorously than the Jews.
Their chief towns were Engaddi, near the Dead Sea, and Hebron. Engaddi was about 30 miles southeast from Jerusalem, and Hebron about 20 miles south of that city. Josephus and Eusebius speak of them as an ancient sect; and they were no doubt the first among the Jews to embrace Christianity: with whose faith and doctrine their own tenets had so many points of resemblance, and were indeed in a great measure the same.
Pliny regarded them as a very ancient people.

In their devotions they turned toward the rising sun; as the Jews generally did toward the Temple. But they were no idola- ters; for they observed the law of Moses with scrupulous fidelity. They held all things in common, and despised riches, their wants being supplied by the administration of Curators or Stewards.
The Tetractys, composed of round dots instead of jods, was re- vered among them. This being a Pythagorean symbol, evidently shows their connection with the school of Pythagoras; but their peculiar tenets more resemble those of Confucius and Zoroaster; and probably were adopted while they were prisoners in Persia; which explains their turning toward the Sun in prayer.
Their demeanor was sober and chaste.
They submitted to the superintendence of governors whom they appointed over them- selves. The whole of their time was spent in labor, meditation, and prayer; and they were most sedulously attentive to every call of justice and humanity, and every moral duty. They believed in the unity of God. They supposed the souls of men to have fallen, by a disastrous fate, from the regions of purity and light, into the bodies which they occupy; during their continuance in which they considered them confined as in a prison. Therefore they did not believe in the resurrection of the body; but in that of the soul only.
They believed in a future state of rewards and punishments; and they disregarded the ceremonies or external forms enjoined in the law of Moses to be observed in the worship og God; holding that the words of that lawgiver were to be un- derstood in a mysterious and recondite sense, and not according to their literal meaning. They offered no sacrifices, except at home; and by meditation they endeavored, as far as possible, to isolate the soul from the body, and carry it back to God.
Eusebius broadly admits "that the ancient Therapeutae were Christians; and that their ancient writings were our Gospels and Epistles."

The ESSENES were of the Eclectic Sect of Philosophers, and held PLATo in the highest esteem; they believed that true philos- ophy, the greatest and most salutary gift of God to mortals, was scattered, in various portions, through all the different Sects; and that it was, consequently, the duty of every wise man to gather it from the several quarters where it lay dispersed, and to employ it, thus reunited, in destroying the dominion of impiety and vice.
The great festivals of the Solstices were observed in a distin- guished manner by the Essenes; as would naturally be supposed, from the fact that they reverenced the Sun, not as a god, but as a symbol of light and fire; the fountain of which, the Orientals supposed God to be. They lived in continence and abstinence, and had establislments similar to the monasteries of the early Christians.

The writings of the Essenes were full of mysticism, parables, enigmas, and allegories. They believed in the esoteric and exote- ric meanings of the Scriptures; and, as we have already said, they had a warrant for that in the Scriptures themselves. They found it in the Old Testament, as the Gnostics found it in the New. The Christian writers, and even Christ himself, recognized it as a truth, that all Scripture had an inner and an outer meaning.
Thus we find it said as follows, in one of the Gospels:
"Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God; but unto men that are without, all these things are done in parables; that seeing, they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand .... And the disciples came and said unto him, 'Why speakest Thou the truth in parables ?'-- He answered and said unto them, 'Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given.'"
Paul, in the 4th chapter of his Epistle to the Galatians, speak- ing of the simplest facts of the Old Testament, asserts that they are an allegory. In the 3d chapter of the second letter to the Corinthians, he declares himself a minister of the New Testament, appointed by God; "Not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth." Origen and St. Gregory held that the Gospels were not to be taken in their literal sense; and Athanasius ad- monishes us that "Should we understand sacred writ according to the letter, we should fall into the most enormous blasphemies." Eusebius said, "Those who preside over the Holy Scriptures, philosophize over them, and expound their literal sense by alle- gory."

The sources of our knowledge of the Kabalistic doctrines, are the books of Jezirah and Sohar, the former drawn up in the second century, and the latter a little later; but containing materials much older than themselves. In their most characteristic ele- ments, they go back to the time of the exile.
In them, as in the teachings of Zoroaster, everything that exists emanated from a source of infinite LiGHT. Before everything, existed THE AN- CIENT OF DAYS, the KING OF LIGHT; a title often given to the Creator in the Zend-Avesta and the code of the Sabaeans. With the idea so expressed is connected the pantheism of India. KING OF LIGHT, THE ANCIENT, is ALL THAT IS. He is not only the real cause of all Existences; he is Infinite (AINSOPH).
He is HIMSELF: there is nothing in Him that We can call Thou.
In the Indian doctrine, not only is the Supreme Being the real cause of all, but he is the only real Existence: all the rest is illu- sion. In the Kabalah, as in the Persian and Gnostic doctrines, He is the Supreme Being unknown to all, the "Unknown Father."
The world is his revelation, and subsists only in Him. His attri- butes are reproduced there, with different modifications, and in different degrees, so that the Universe is His Holy Splendor:it is but His Mantle; but it must be revered in silence.
All beings have emanated from the Supreme Being: The nearer a being is to Him, the more perfect it is; the more remote in the scale, the less its purity.

A ray of Light, shot from the Deity, is the cause and principle of all that exists. It is at once Father and Mother of All, in the sublimest sense. It penetrates everything; and without it nothing can exist an instant. From this double FORCE, designated by the two parts of the word I.. H.. U.. H.. emanated the FIRST-BORN of God, the Universal Form, in which are contained all beings; the Persian and Platonic Archetype of things, united with the Infinite by the primitive ray of Light.
This First-Born is the Creative Agent, Conservator, and ani- mating Principle of the Universe. It is THE LIGHT OF LIGHT. It possesses the three Primitive Forces of the Divinity, LIGHT, SPIRIT and LIFE. As it has received what it gives, Light and Life, it is equally considered as the gen- erative and conceptive Principle, the Primitive Man, ADAM KADMON.
As such, it has revealed itself in ten emanations or Sephiroth, which are not ten different beings, nor even beings at all; but sources of life, vessels of Omnipotence, and types of Cre- ation. They are Sovereignty or Will, Wisdom, Intelligence, Benignity, Severity, Beauty, Victory, Glory, Permanency, and Empire. These are attributes of God; and this idea, that God re- veals Himself by His attributes, and that the human mind cannot perceive or discern God Himself, in his works, but only his mode of manifesting Himself, is a profound Truth. We know of the Invisible only what the Visible reveals.

Wisdom was called NOUS and LOGOS, lN- TELLECT or the WORD. Intelligence, source of the oil of anoint- ing, responds to the Holy Ghost of the Christian Faith. Beauty is represented by green and yellow. Victory is YA- HOVAH-TSABAOTH, the column on the right hand, the column Jachin: Glory is the column Boaz, on the left hand. And thus our symbols appear again in the Kabalah. And again the LIGHT, the object of our labors, appears as the creative power of Deity. The circle, also, was the special symbol of the first Sephirah, Kether, or the Crown.
We do not further follow the Kabalah in its four Worlds of Spirits, Aziluth, Briah, Yezirah, and Asiah, or of emanation, crea- tion, formation, and fabrication, one inferior to and one emerging from the other, the superior always enveloping the inferior;its doctrine that, in all that exists, there is nothing purely material;
that all comes from God, and in all He proceeds by irradiation; that everything subsists by the Divine ray that penetrates crea- tion; and all is united by the Spirit of God, which is the life of life; so that all is God; the Existences that inhabit the four worlds, inferior to each other in proportion to their distance from the Great King of Light: the contest between the good and evil Angels and Principles, to endure until the Eternal Himself comes to end it and re-establish the primitive harmony; the four distinct parts of the Soul of Man; and the migrations of impure souls, until they are sufficiently purified to share with the Spirits of Light the contemplation of the Supreme Being whose Splendor fills the Universe.
The WORD was also found in the Phoenician Creed. As in all those of Asia, a WORD of God, written in starry characters, by the planetary Divinities, and communicated by the Demi-Gods, as a profound mystery, to the higher classes of the human race, to be communicated by them to mankind, created the world. The faith of the Phoenicians was an emanation from that ancient worship of the Stars, which in the creed of Zoroaster alone, is connected with a faith in one God. Light and Fire are the most important agents in the Phoenician faith. There is a race of children of the Light.
They adored the Heaven with its Lights, deeming it the Supreme God.
Everything emanates from a Single Principle, and a Primitive Love, which is the Moving Power of All and governs all. Light, by its union with Spirit, whereof it is but the vehicle or symbol, is the Life of everything, and penetrates everything. It should therefore be respected and honored everywhere; for everywhere it governs and controls.

The Chaldaic and Jerusalem Paraphrasts endeavored to render the phrase, DEBAR-YAHOVAH, the Word of God, a personalty, wherever they met with it. The phrase, "And God created man," is, in the Jerusalem Targum, "And the Word of IHUH created man."
So, in xxviii. Gen. 20,21, where Jacob says: "If God (IHIH ALHIM) will be with me... then shall IHUH be my ALHIM; UHIH IHUH LI LALHIM; and this stone shall be God's House (IHIH BITH ALHIM):
Onkelos paraphrases it, "If the word of IHUH will be my help . . . . then the word of IHUH shall be my God."
So, in iii. Gen. 8, for "The Voice of the Lord God"
(IHUH ALHIM), we have, "The Voice of the Word of IHUH."
In ix. Wisdom, 1, "O God of my Fathers and Lord of Mercy! who has made all things with thy word."
And in xviii. Wisdom, 15, "Thine Almighty Word leap- ed down from Heaven."
Philo speaks of the Word as being the same with God. So in several places he calls it the Second Di- vinity; the Image of God: the Divine Word that made all things: substitute, of God; and the like. Thus when John commenced to preach, had been for ages agitated, by the Priests and Philosophers of the East and West, the great questions concerning the eternity or creation of matter: immediate or intermediate creation of the Universe by the Su- preme God; the origin, object, and final extinction of evil; the relations between the intellectual and material worlds, and be- tween God and man; and the creation, fall, redemption, and restoration to his first estate, of man.
The Jewish doctrine, differing in this from all the other Oriental creeds, and even from the Alohayistic legend with which the book of Genesis commences, attributed the creation to the immediate action of the Supreme Being. The Theosophists of the other Eastern Peoples interposed more than one intermediary between God and the world. To place between them but a single Being, to suppose for the production of the world but a single inter- mediary, was, in their eyes, to lower the Supreme Majesty. The interval between God, who is perfect Purity, and matter, which is base and foul, was too great for them to clear it at a single step. Even in the Occident, neither Plato nor Philo could thus im- poverish the Intellectual World.

Thus, Cerinthus of Ephesus, with most of the Gnostics, Philo, the Kabalah, the Zend-Avesta, the Puranas, and all the Orient, deemed the distance and antipathy between the Supreme Being and the material world too great, to attribute to the former the creation of the latter. Below, and emanating from, or created by, the Ancient of Days, the Central Light, the Beginning, or First Principle, one, two, or more Principles, Existences, or Intellectual Beings were imagined, to some one or more of whom (without any immediate creative act on the part of the Great Immovable, Silent Deity), the immediate creation of the material and mental universe was due.
We have already spoken of many of the speculations on this point. To some, the world was created by the LOGOS or WORD, first manifestation of, or emanation from, the Deity. To others, the beginning of creation was by the emanation of a ray of Light, creating the principle of Light and Life. The Primitive THOUGHT, creating the inferior Deities, a succession of INTELL- GENCES, the Iynges of Zoroaster, his Amshaspands, Izeds, and Ferouers, the Ideas of Plato, the Aions of the Gnostics, the Angels of the Jews, the Nous, the Demiourgos, the DIVINE REA- SON, the Powers or Forces of Philo, and the Alohayim, Forces or Superior Gods of the ancient legend with which Genesis begins,- to these and other intermediaries the creation was owing. No re- straints were laid on the Fancy and the Imagination. The veriest Abstractions became Existences and Realities. The attributes of God, personified, became Powers, Spirits, Intelligences.
God was the Light of Light, Divine Fire, the Abstract Intellec- tuality, the Root or Germ of the Universe. Simon Magus, founder of the Gnostic faith, and many of the early Judaizing Christians, admitted that the manifestations of the Supreme Being, as FATHER, or JEhOVAh, SON or CHRIST, and HOLY SPIRIT, were only so many different modes of Existence, or Forces of the same God. To others they were, as were the multitude of Sub- ordinate Intelligences, real and distinct beings.
The Oriental imagination revelled in the creation of these In- ferior Intelligences, Powers of Good and Evil, and Angels. We have spoken of those imagined by the Persians and the Kabalists. In the Talmud, every star, every country, every town, and almost every tongue has a Prince of Heaven as its Protector. JEHUEL, is the guardian of fire, and MICHAEL of water. Seven spirits assist each; those of fire being Seraphiel, Gabriel, Nitriel, Tammael, Tchimschiel, Hadarniel, and Sarniel. These seven are represented by the square columns of this Degree, while the columns JACHIN and BOAZ represent the angels of fire and water. But the col- umns are not representatives of these alone.

To Basilides, God was without name, uncreated, at first contain- ing and concealing in Himself the Plenitude of His Perfections; and when these are by Him displayed and nianifested, there result as many particular Existences, all analogous to Him, and still and always Him. To the Essenes and the Gnostics, the East and the West both devised this faith; that the Ideas, Conceptions, or Manifestations of the Deity were so many Creations, so many Be- ings, all God, nothing without Him, but more than what we now understand by the word ideas. They emanated from and were again merged in God. They had a kind of middle existence be- tween our modern ideas, and the intelligences or ideas, elevated to the rank of genii, of the Oriental mythology.
These personified attributes of Deity, in the theory of Basilides, were the First-born, Nous or Mind: from it emanates Logos, or THE WORD from it : Phronesis, Intellect :from it Sophia, Wisdom :from it Dunamis, Power: and from it Dikaiosune, Righteousness: to which latter the Jews gave the name of Eirene, Peace, or Calm, the essential characteristics of Divinity, and harmonious effect of all His perfections. The whole number of successive emanations was 365, expressed by the Gnostics, in Greek letters, by the mystic word Abraxas; desig- nating God as manifested, or the aggregate of his manifestations; but not the Supreme and Secret God Himself. These three hun- dred and sixty-five Intelligences compose altogether the Fullness or Plenitude of the Divine Emanations.
With the Ophites, a sect of the Gnostics, there were seven infe- rior spirits (inferior to Ialdabaoth, the Demiourgos or Actual Cre- ator : Michael, Suriel, Raphael, Gabriel, Thauthabaoth, Erataoth, and Athaniel, the genii of the stars called the Bull; the Dog, the Lion, the Bear, the Serpent, the Eagle, and the Ass that formerly figured in the constellation Cancer, and symbolized respectively by those animals; as Ialdabaoth, Iao, Adonai, Eloi, Orai, and As- taphai were the genii of Saturn, the Moon, the Sun, Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury.

The WORD appears in all these creeds. It is the Ormuzd of Zoroaster, the Ainsoph of the Kabalah, the Nous of Platonism and Philonism, and the Sophia or Demiourgos of the Gnostics. And all these creeds, while admitting these different manifesta- tions of the Supreme Being, held that His identity was immutable and permanent. That was Plato's distinction between the Being always the same and the perpetual flow of things inces- santly changing, the Genesis.
The belief in dualism in some shape, was universal. Those who held that everything emanated from God, aspired to God, and re-entered into God, believed that, among those emanations were two adverse Principles, of Light and Darkness, Good and Evil. This prevailed in Central Asia and in Syria; while in Egypt it assumed the form of Greek speculation. In the former, a second Intellectual Principle was admitted, active in its Empire of Dark- ness, audacious against the Empire of Light. So the Persians and Sabeans understood it. In Egypt, this second Principle was Mat- ter, as the word was used by the Platonic School, with its sad at- tributes, Vacuity, Darkness, and Death. In their theory, matter could be animated only by the low communication of a principle of divine life. It resists the influences that would spiritualize it. That resisting Power is Satan, the rebellious Matter, Matter that does not partake of God.

To many there were two Principles; the Unknown Father, or Supreme and Eternal God, living in the centre of the Light, happy in the perfect purity of His being; the other, eternal Mat- ter, that inert, shapeless, darksome mass, which they considered as the source of all evils, the mother and dwelling-place of Satan. To Philo and the Platonists, there was a Soul of the world, cre- ating visible things, and active in them, as agent of the Supreme Intelligence; realizing therein the ideas communicated to Him by that Intelligence, and which sometimes excel His conceptions, but which He executes without comprehending them.
The Apocalypse or Revelations, by whomever written, belongs to the Orient and to extreme antiquity. It reproduces what is far older than itself. It paints, with the strongest colors that the Ori- ental genius ever employed, the closing scenes of the great strug- gle of Light, and Truth, and Good, against Darkness, Error, and Evil; personified in that between the New Religion on one side, and Paganism and Judaism on the other. It is a particular appli- cation of the ancient myth of Ormuzd and his Genii against Ahri- man and his Devs; and it celebrates the final triumph of Truth against the combined powers of men and demons. The ideas and imagery are borrowed from every quarter; and allusions are found in it to the doctrines of all ages. We are continually reminded of the Zend-Avesta, the Jewish Codes, Philo, and the Gnosis. The Seven Spirits surrounding the Throne of the Eternal, at the opening of the Grand Drama, and acting so important a part throughout, everywhere the first instruments of the Divine Will and Vengence, are the Seven Amshaspands of Parsism; as the Twenty-four Ancients, offering to the Supreme Being the first supplications and the first homage, remind us of the Mysterious Chiefs of Judaism, foreshadow the Eons of Gnosticism, and re- produce the twenty-four Good Spirits created by Ormuzd and in- closed in an egg.
The Christ of the Apocalypse, First-born of Creation and of the Resurrection is invested with the characteristics of the Ormuzd and Sosiosch of the Zend-Avesta, the Ainsoph of the Kabalah and the Carpistes of the Gnostics. The idea that the true Initiates and Faithful become Kings and Priests, is at once Persian, Jewish, Christian, and Gnostic. And the definition of the Supreme Being, that He is at once Alpha and Omega, the be- ginning and the end--He that was, and is, and is to come, i.e., Time illimitable, is Zoroaster's definition of Zerouane-Ak- herene.

The depths of Satan which no man can measure; his triumph for a time by fraud and violence; his being chained by an angel; his reprobation and his precipitation into a sea of metal; his names of the Serpent and the Dragon; the whole conflict of the Good Spirits or celestial armies against the bad; are so many ideas and designations found alike in the Zend-Avesta, the Ka- balah, and the Gnosis.
We even find in the Apocalypse that singular Persian idea, which regards some of the lower animals as so many Devs or ve- hicles of Devs.
The guardianship of the earth by a good angel, the renewing of the earth and heavens, and the final triumph of pure and holy men, are the same victory of Good over Evil, for which the whole Orient looked.
The gold, and white raiments of the twenty-four Elders are, as in the Persian faith, the signs of a lofty perfection and divine purity.
Thus the Human mind labored and struggled and tortured itself for ages, to explain to itself what it felt, without confessing it, to be inexplicable. A vast crowd of indistinct abstractions, hovering in the imagination, a train of words embodying no tangible mean- ing, an inextricable labyrinth of subtleties, was the result. But one grand idea ever emerged and stood prominent and un- changeable over the weltering chaos of confusion. God is great, and good, and wise. Evil and pain and sorrow are temporary, and for wise and beneficent purposes. They must be consistent with God's goodness, purity, and infinite perfection; and there must be a mode of explaining them, if we could but find it out; as, in all ways we will endeavor to do. Ultimately, Good will pre- vail, and Evil be overthrown. God, alone can do this, and He will do it, by an Emanation from Himself, assuming the Human form and redeeming the world.

Behold the object, the end, the result, of the great speculations and logomachies of antiquity; the ultimate annihilation of evil, and restoration of Man to his first estate, by a Redeemer, a Ma- sayah, a Christos, the incarnate Word, Reason, or Power of Deity. This Redeemer is the Word or Logos, the Ormuzd of Zoroaster, the Ainsoph of the Kabalah, the Nous of Platonism and Philon- ism; He that was in the Beginning with God, and was God, and by Whom everything was made. That He was looked for by all the People of the East is abundantly shown by the Gospel of John and the Letters of Paul; wherein scarcely anything seemed neces- sary to be said in proof that such a Redeemer was to come;but all the energies of the writers are devoted to showing that Jesus was that Christos whom all the nations were expecting; the "Word," the Masayah, the Anointed or Consecrated One.
In this Degree the great contest between good and evil, in antici- pation of the appearance and advent of the Word or Redeemer is symbolized; and the mysterious esoteric teachings of the Essenes and the Cabalists. Of the practices of the former we gain but glimpses in the ancient writers; but we know that, as their doc- trines were taught by John the Baptist, they greatly resembled those of greater purity and more nearly perfect, taught by Jesus; and that not only Palestine was full of John's disciples, so that the Priests and Pharisees did not dare to deny John's inspiration; but his doctrine had extended to Asia Minor, and had made converts in luxurious Ephesus, as it also had in Alexandria in Egypt; and that they readily embraced the Christian faith, of which they had before not even heard.
These old controversies have died away, and the old faiths have faded into oblivion. But Masonry still survives, vigorous and strong, as when philosophy was taught in the schools of Alexan- dria and under the Portico; teaching the same old truths as the Essenes taught by the shores of the Dead Sea, and as John the Baptist preached in the Desert; truths imperishable as the Deity, and undeniable as Light. Those truths were gathered by the Essenes from the doctrines of the Orient and the Occident, from the Zend-Avesta and the Vedas, from Plato and Pythagoras, from India, Persia, Phoenicia, and Syria, from Greece and Egypt, and from the Holy Books of the Jews. Hence we are called Knights of the East and West, because their doctrines came from both. And these doctrines, the wheat sifted from the chaff, the Truth seperated from Error, Masonry has garnered up in her heart of hearts, and through the fires of persecution, and the storms of calamity, has brought them and delivered them unto us. That God is One, immutable, unchangeable, infinitely just and good; that Light will finally overcome Darkness,--Good conquer Evil, and Truth be victor over Error ;--these, rejecting all the wild and useless speculations of the Zend-Avesta, the Kabalah, the Gnostics, and the Schools, are the religion and Philosophy of Masonry. Those speculations and fancies it is useful to study; that know- ing in what worthless and unfruitful investigations the mind may engage, you may the more value and appreciate the plain, simple, sublime, universally-acknowledged truths, which have in all ages been the Light by which Masons have been guided on their way; the Wisdom and Strength that like imperishable columns have sustained and will continue to sustain its glorious and magnificent Temple.

end part 2 of 2