XXVI. PRINCE OF MERCY, OR SCOTTISH TRINITARIAN. (Part 1 of 3 )
WHILE you were veiled in darkness, you heard repeated by the Voice of
the Great Past its most ancient doctrines. None has the right to object, if
the Christian Mason sees foreshadowed in Chrishna and Sosiosch, in
Mithras and Osiris, the Divine WORD that, as he believes, became Man,
and died upon the cross to redeem a fallen race. Nor can he object if
others see reproduced, in the WORD of the beloved Disciple, that was in
the beginning with God, and that was God, and by Whom everything was
made, only the LOGOS of Plato, and the WORD or Uttered THOUGHT or
first Emanation of LIGHT, or the Perfect REASON of the Great, Silent,
Supreme, Uncreated Deity, believed in and adored by all.
We do not undervalue the importance of any Truth. We utter no word that
can be deemed irreverent by any one of any faith. We do not tell the
Moslem that it is only important for him to believe that there is but one
God, and wholly unessential whether Mahomet was His prophet. We do
not tell the Hebrew that the Messiah whom he expects was born in
Bethlehem nearly two thousand years ago; and that he is a heretic
because he will not so believe. And as little do we tell the sincere
Christian that Jesus of Nazareth was but a man like us, or His history but
the unreal revival of an older legend. To do either is beyond our
jurisdiction. Masonry, of no one age, belongs to all time; of no one
religion, it finds its great truths in all.
To every Mason, there is a GOD; ONE, Supreme, Infinite in Goodness,
Wisdom, Foresight, justice, and Benevolence; Creator, Disposer, and
Preserver of all things. How, or by what intermediates He creates and
acts, and in what way He unfolds and manifests Himself, Masonry leaves
to creeds and Religions to inquire.
To every Mason, the soul of man is immortal. Whether it
emanates from and will return to God, and what its continued mode of
existence hereafter, each judges for himself. Masonry was not made to
To every Mason, WISDOM or INTELLIGENCE, FORCE or STRENGTH,
and HARMONY, or FITNESS and BEAUTY, are the Trinity of the
attributes of God. With the subtleties of Philosophy concerning them
Masonry does not meddle, nor decide as to the reality of the supposed
Existences which are their Personifications: nor whether the Christian
Trinity be such a personification, or a Reality of the gravest import and
To every Mason, the Infinite justice and Benevolence of God give ample
assurance that Evil will ultimately be dethroned, and the Good, the True,
and the Beautiful reign triumphant and eternal. It teaches, as it feels and
knows, that Evil, and Pain, and Sorrow exist as part of a wise and
beneficent plan, all the parts of which work together under God's eye to a
result which shall be perfection. Whether the existence of evil is rightly
explained in this creed or in that, by Typhon the Great Serpent, by
Ahriman and his Armies of Wicked Spirits, by the Giants and Titans that
war against Heaven, by the two co-existent Principles of Good and Evil,
by Satan's temptation and the fall of Man, by Lok and the Serpent Fenris,
it is beyond the domain of Masonry to decide, nor does it need to inquire.
Nor is it within its Province to determine how the ultimate triumph of Light
and Truth and Good, over Darkness and Error and Evil, is to be achieved;
nor whether the Redeemer, looked and longed for by all nations, hath
appeared in Judea, or is yet to come.
It reverences all the great reformers. It sees in Moses, the Lawgiver of the
Jews, in Confucius and Zoroaster, in Jesus of Nazareth, and in the
Arabian Iconoclast, Great Teachers of Morality, and Eminent Reformers, if
no more: and allows every brother of the Order to assign to each such
higher and even Divine Character as his Creed and Truth require.
Thus Masonry disbelieves no truth, and teaches unbelief in no creed,
except so far as such creed may lower its lofty estimate of the Deity,
degrade Him to the level of the passions of humanity, deny the high
destiny of man, impugn the goodness and benevolence of the Supreme
God, strike at those great columns of Masonry, Faith, Hope, and Charity,
or inculcate immorality, and disregard of the active duties of the Order.
Masonry is a worship; but one in which all civilized men can unite; for it
does not undertake to explain or dogmatically to settle those great
mysteries, that are above the feeble comprehension of our human
intellect. It trusts in God, and HOPES; it BELIEVES, like a child, and is
humble. It draws no sword to compel others to adopt its belief, or to be
happy with its hopes. Arid it WAITS with patience to understand the
mysteries of Nature and Nature's God hereafter.
The greatest mysteries in the Universe are those which are ever going on
around us; so trite and common to us that we never note them nor reflect
upon them. Wise men tell us of the laws that regulate the motions of the
spheres, which, flashing in huge circles and spinning on their axes, are
also ever darting with inconceivable rapidity through the infinities of
Space; while we atoms sit here, and dream that all was made for us. They
tell us learnedly of centripetal and centrifugal forces, gravity and
attraction, and all the other sounding terms invented to hide a want of
meaning. There are other forces in the Universe than those that are
Here are two minute seeds, not much unlike in appearance, and two of
larger size. Hand them to the learned Pundit, Chemistry, who tells us how
combustion goes on in the lungs, and plants are fed with phosphorus and
carbon, and the alkalies and silex. Let her decompose them, analyze
them, torture them in all the ways she knows. The net result of each is a
little sugar, a little fibrin, a little water - carbon, potassium, sodium, and
the like - one cares not to know what.
We hide them in the ground: and the slight rains moisten them, and the
Sun shines upon them, and little slender shoots spring up and grow; - and
what a miracle is the mere growth! - the force, the power, the capacity by
which the little feeble shoot, that a small worm can nip off with a single
snap of its mandibles, extracts from the earth and air and water the
different elements, so learnedly catalogued, with which it increases in
stature, and rises imperceptibly toward the sky.
One grows to be a slender, fragile, feeble stalk, soft of texture, like an
ordinary weed; another a strong bush, of woody fibre, armed with thorns,
and sturdy enough to bid defiance to the winds : the third a tender tree,
subject to be blighted by the frost, and looked down upon by all the forest;
while another spreads its
rugged arms abroad, and cares for neither frost nor ice, nor the snows that
for months lie around its roots.
But lo! out of the brown foul earth, and colorless invisible air, and limpid
rain-water, the chemistry of the seeds has extracted colors - four different
shades of green, that paint the leaves which put forth in the spring upon our
plants, our shrubs, and our trees. Later still come the flowers - the vivid
colors of the rose, the beautiful brilliance of the carnation, the modest
of the apple, and the splendid white of the orange. Whence come the colors
of the leaves and flowers? By what process of chemistry are they extracted
from the carbon, the phosphorus, and the lime? Is it any greater miracle to
make something out of nothing?
Pluck the flowers. Inhale the delicious perfumes; each perfect, and all
delicious. Whence have they come? By what combination of acids and
alkalies could the chemist's laboratory produce them?
And now on two comes the fruit - the ruddy apple and the golden orange.
Pluck them - open them! The texture and fabric how totally different! The
taste how entirely dissimilar - the perfume of each distinct from its flower
and from the other. Whence the taste and this new perfume? The same
earth and air and water have been made to furnish a different taste to each
fruit, a different perfume not only to each fruit, but to each fruit and
Is it any more a problem whence come thought and will and perception and
all the phenomena of the mind, than this, whence come the colors, the
perfumes, the taste, of the fruit and flower?
And lo! in each fruit new seeds, each gifted with the same wondrous power
of reproduction - each with the same wondrous forces wrapped up in it to
be again in turn evolved. Forces that had lived three thousand years in the
grain of wheat found in the wrappings of an Egyptian mummy; forces of
which learning and science and wisdom know no more than they do of the
nature and laws of action of God. What can we know of the nature, and
how can we understand the powers and mode of operation of the human
soul, when the glossy leaves, the pearl-white flower, and the golden fruit of
the orange are miracles wholly beyond our comprehension?
We but hide our ignorance in a cloud of words; - and the words too often are
mere combinations of sounds without any meaning.
What is the centrifugal force? A tendency to go in a particular direction!
external "force," then, produces that tendency?
What force draws the needle round to the north? What force moves the muscle
that raises the arm, when the will determines it shall rise? Whence comes the
will itself? Is it spontaneous - a first cause, or an effect? These too are
inexplicable as the creation, or the existence and self-existence of God.
Who will explain to us the passion, the peevishness, the anger, the memory,
affections of the small canary-wren? the consciousness of identity and the
dreams of the dog? the reasoning powers of the elephant? the wondrous
instincts, passions, government, and civil policy, and modes of
ideas of the ant and bee?
Who has yet made us to understand, with all his learned words, how heat comes
to us from the Sun, and light from the remote Stars, setting out upon its
earth-ward from some, at the time the Chaldeans commenced to build the Tower
of Babel? Or how the image of an external object comes to and fixes itself
the retina of the eye; and when there, how that mere empty, unsubstantial
becomes transmuted into the wondrous thing that we call SIGHT? Or how the
waves of the atmosphere striking upon the tympanum of the ear - those thin,
invisible waves - produce the equally wondrous phenomenon of HEARING, and
become the roar of the tornado, the crash of the thunder, the mighty voice
ocean, the chirping of the cricket, the delicate sweet notes and exquisite
and variations of the wren and mocking-bird, or the magic melody of the
instrument of Paganini?
Our senses are mysteries to us, and we are mysteries to ourselves. Philosophy
has taught us nothing as to the nature of our sensations, our perceptions, our
cognizances, the origin of our thoughts and ideas, but words. By no effort or
degree of reflection, never so long continued, can man become conscious of a
personal identity in himself, separate and distinct from his body and his
We torture ourselves in the effort to gain an idea of ourselves, and weary
the exertion. Who has yet made us understand how, from the contact with a
foreign body, the image in the eye, the wave of air impinging on the ear,
particular particles entering the nostrils, and coming in contact with the
come sensations in the nerves, and from that, perception in the mind, of the
animal or the man?
What do we know of Substance? Men even doubt yet whether it exists.
Philosophers tell us that our senses make known to us only the attributes of
substance, extension, hardness, color, and the like; but not the thing
itself that is
extended, solid, black or white; as we know the attributes of the Soul, its
thoughts and its perceptions, and not the Soul itself which perceives and
What a wondrous mystery is there in heat and light, existing, we know not how,
within certain limits, narrow in comparison with infinity, beyond which on
side stretch out infinite space and the blackness of unimaginable darkness,
the intensity of inconceivable cold! Think only of the mighty Power
maintain warmth and light in the central point of such an infinity, to whose
darkness that of Midnight, to whose cold that of the last Arctic Island is
And yet GOD is everywhere.
And what a mystery are the effects of heat and cold upon the wondrous fluid
we call water! What a mystery lies hidden in every flake of snow and in every
crystal of ice, and in their final transformation into the invisible vapor
from the ocean or the land, and floats above the summits of the mountains!
What a multitude of wonders, indeed, has chemistry unveiled to our eyes! Think
only that if some single law enacted by God were at once repealed, that of
attraction or affinity or cohesion, for example, the whole material world,
solid granite and adamant, its veins of gold and silver, its trap and
huge beds of coal, our own frames and the very ribs and bones of this
apparently indestructible earth, would instantaneously dissolve, with all Suns
and Stars and Worlds throughout all the Universe of God, into a thin invisible
vapor of infinitely minute particles or atoms, diffused throughout infinite
and with them light and heat would disappear; unless the Deity Himself be, as
the Ancient Persians thought, the Eternal Light and the Immortal Fire.
The mysteries of the Great Universe of God! How can we with our limited mental
vision expect to grasp and comprehend them!
Infinite SPACE, stretching out
from us every way, without limit: infinite TIME, without beginning or end; and
WE, HERE, and NOW, in the centre of each! An infinity of suns, the nearest of
which only diminish in size, viewed with the most powerful telescope: each
its retinue of worlds; infinite numbers of such suns, so remote from us
light would not reach us, journeying during an infinity of time, while the
reached us, from some that we seem to see, has been upon its journey for
fifty centuries: our world spinning upon its axis, and rushing ever in its
circuit round the sun; and it, the sun, and all our system revolving round
some great central point; and that, and suns, stars, and worlds evermore
flashing onward with incredible rapidity through illimitable space: and
then, in every drop of water that we drink, in every morsel of much of our
food, in the air, in the earth, in the sea, incredible multitudes of living
creatures, invisible to the naked eye, of a minuteness beyond belief, yet
organized, living, feeding, perhaps with consciousness of identity, and
memory and instinct.
Such are some of the mysteries of the great Universe of God. And yet we,
whose life and that of the world on which we live form but a point in the
centre of infinite Time: we, who nourish animalculę within, and on whom
vegetables grow without, would fain learn how God created this Universe,
would understand His Powers, His Attributes, His Emanations, His Mode
of Existence and of Action; would fain know the plan according to which
all events proceed, that plan profound as God Himself; would know the
laws by which He controls His Universe; would fain see and talk to Him
face to face, as man talks to man: and we try not to believe, because we
do not understand.
He commands us to love one another, to love our neighbor as ourself;
and we dispute and wrangle, and hate and slay each other, because we
cannot be of one opinion as to the Essence of His Nature, as to His
Attributes; whether He became man born of a woman, and was crucified;
whether the Holy Ghost is of the same substance with the Father, or only
of a similar substance; whether a feeble old man is God's Vicegerent;
whether some are elected from all eternity to be saved, and others to be
condemned and punished; whether punishment of the wicked after death
is to be eternal; whether this doctrine or the other be heresy or truth;-
drenching the world with blood, depopulating realms, and turning fertile
lands into deserts; until, for religious war, persecution, and bloodshed, the
Earth for many a century has rolled round the Sun, a charnel-house,
steaming and reeking with human gore, the blood of brother slain by
brother for opinion's sake, that has soaked into and polluted all her veins,
and made her a horror to her sisters of the Universe.
And if men were all Masons, and obeyed with all their heart
her mild and gentle, teachings, that world would be a paradise; while
intolerance and persecution make of it a hell. For this is the Masonic
Creed: BELIEVE, in God's Infinite Benevolence, Wisdom, and Justice:
HOPE, for the final triumph of Good over Evil, and for Perfect Harmony as
the final result of all the concords and discords of the Universe: and be
CHARITABLE as God is, toward the unfaith, the errors, the follies, and
the faults of men: for all make one great brotherhood.
Sen.·. W.·. Brother Junior Warden, are you a Prince of Mercy?
Jun.·. W.·. I have seen the Delta and the Holy NAMES upon it, and am an
AMETH like yourself, in the TRIPLE COVENANT, Of which we bear the
Qu.·. What is the first Word upon the Delta?
Ans.·. The Ineffable Name of Deity, the true mystery of which is known to
the Ameth alone.
Qu.·. What do the three sides of the Delta denote to us?
Ans.·. To us, and to all Masons, the three Great Attributes or
Developments of the Essence of the Deity; WISDOM, or the Reflective
and Designing Power, in which, when there was naught but God, the Plan
and Idea of the Universe was shaped and Formed: FORCE, or the
Executing and Creating Power, which instantaneously acting, realized the
Type and Idea framed by Wisdom; and the Universe, and all Stars and
Worlds, and Light and Life, and Men and Angels and all living creatures
WERE; and HARMONY, or the Preserving Power, Order, and Beauty,
maintaining the Universe in its State, and constituting the law of Harmony,
Motion, Proportion, and Progression:- WISDOM, which thought the plan;
STRENGTH, which created: HARMONY, which upholds and preserves:-
the Masonic Trinity, three Powers and one Essence: the three columns
which support the Universe, Physical, Intellectual, and Spiritual, of which
every Masonic Lodge is a type and symbol:- while to the Christian Mason,
they represent the Three that bear record in Heaven, the FATHER
WORD, and the HOLY SPIRIT, which three are ONE.
Qu.·. What do the three Greek letters upon the Delta, I.·.H.·. .·. [Iota, Eta,
and Sigma] represent?
Ans.·. Three of the Names of the Supreme Deity among the Syrians.
Phnicians and Hebrews
. IHUH [ ] Self-Ex
istence ... AL [ ] the Nature-God, or Soul of the Universe... SHADAI
[ ] Supreme Power. Also three of the Six Chief Attributes of God,
among the Kabbalists:- WISDOM [IEH], the Intellect, ( ) of the
Egyptians, the Word ( ) of the Platonists, and the Wisdom ( ) of the
Gnostics: MAGNIFICENCE [AL], the Symbol of which was the Lion's
Head: and VICTORY and GLORY [Tsabaoth], which are the two columns
JACHIN and BOAZ, that stand in the Portico of the Temple of Masonry.
To the Christian Mason they are the first three letters of the name of the
Son of God, Who died upon the cross to redeem mankind.
Qu.·. What is the first of the THREE COVENANTS, of which we bear the
Ans.·. That which God made with Noah; when He said, "I will not again
curse the earth any more for man's sake, neither will I smite any more
everything living as I have done. While the Earth remaineth, seed-time
and harvest, and cold and heat, and Winter and Summer, and day and
night shall not cease. I will establish My covenant with you, and with your
seed after you, and with every living creature. All mankind shall no more
be cut off by the waters of a flood, nor shall there any more be a flood to
destroy the earth. This is the token of My covenant: I do set My bow in the
cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth:
an everlasting covenant between Me and every living creature on the
Qu.·. What is the second of the Three Covenants?
Ans.·. That which God made with Abraham; when He said, "I am the
Absolute Uncreated God. I will make My covenant between Me and thee,
and thou shalt be the Father of Many Nations, and Kings shall come from
thy loins. I will establish My covenant between Me and thee, and thy
descendants after thee, to the remotest generations, for an everlasting
covenant; and I will be thy God and their God, and will give thee the land
of Canaan for an everlasting possession."
Qu.·. What is the third Covenant?
Ans.·. That which God made with all men by His prophets; when He said:
"I will gather all nations and tongues, and they shall come and see My
Glory. I will create new Heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not
be remembered, nor come into mind. The Sun shall no more shine by
day, nor the Moon by night; but the Lord shall be an everlasting light and
His Spirit and His Word shall remain with men forever. The heavens shall
vanish away like vapor, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and
they that dwell therein shall die; but my salvation shall be forever, and my
righteousness shall not end; and there shall be Light among the Gentiles,
and salvation unto the ends of the earth. The redeemed of the Lord shall
return, and everlasting joy be on their heads, and sorrow and mourning
shall flee away."
Qu.·. What is the symbol of the Triple Covenant?
Ans.·. The Triple Triangle.
Qu.·. Of what else is it the symbol to us?
Ans.·. Of the Trinity of Attributes of the Deity; and of the triple essence of
Man, the Principle of Life, the Intellectual Power, and the Soul or Immortal
Emanation from the Deity.
Qu.·. What is the first great Truth of the Sacred Mysteries?
Ans.·. No man hath seen God at any time. He is One, Eternal, All-
Powerful, All-Wise, Infinitely just, Merciful, Benevolent, and
Compassionate, Creator and Preserver of all things, the Source of Light
and Life, coextensive with Time and Space; Who thought, and with the
Thought created the Universe and all living things, and the souls of men:
THAT IS: - the PERMANENT; while everything beside is a perpetual
Qu.·. '"That is the second great Truth of the Sacred Mysteries?
Ans.·. The Soul of Man is Immortal; not the result of organization, nor an
aggregate of modes of action of matter, nor a succession of phenomena
and perceptions; but an EXISTENCE, one and identical, a living spirit, a
spark of the Great Central Light, that hath entered info and dwells in the
body; to be separated therefrom at death, and return to God who gave it:
that doth not disperse nor vanish at death, like breath or a smoke, nor can
be annihilated; but still exists and possesses activity and intelligence,
even as it existed in God, before it was enveloped in the body.
Qu.·. What is the third great Truth in Masonry?
Ans.·. The impulse which directs to right conduct, and deters from crime,
is not only older than the ages of nations and cities, but coeval with that
Divine Being Who sees and rules both Heaven and earth. Nor did Tarquin
less violate that Eternal Law, though in his reign there might have been
no written law at Rome against such violence; for the principle that impels
us to right conduct, and warns us against guilt, springs out of the nature
of things. It did not begin to be law when it was first written, nor
was it originated; but it is coeval with the Divine Intelligence itself. The
Quence of virtue is not to be made the end thereof ; and laudable
performances must have deeper roots, motives, and instigations, to give
them the stamp of virtues.
Qu.·. What is the fourth great Truth in Masonry?
Ans.·. The moral truths are as absolute as the metaphysical truths. Even
the Deity cannot make it that there should be effects without a cause, or
phenomena without substance. As little could he make it to be sinful and
evil to respect our pledged word, to love truth, to moderate our passions.
The principles of Morality are axioms, like the principles of Geometry. The
moral laws are the necessary relations that flow from the nature of things,
and they are not created by, but have existed eternally in God. Their
continued existence does not depend upon the exercise of His WILL.
Truth and Justice are of His ESSENCE. Not because we are feeble and
God omnipotent, is it our duty to obey His law. We may be forced, but are
not under obligation, to obey the stronger. God is the principle of Morality,
but not by His mere will, which, abstracted from all other of His attributes,
would be neither just nor unjust. Good is the expression of His will, in so
far as that will is itself the expression of eternal, absolute, uncreated
justice, which is in God, which His will did not create; but which it
executes and promulgates, as our will proclaims and promulgates and
executes the idea of the good which is in us. He has given us the law of
Truth and justice; but He has not arbitrarily instituted that law. justice is
inherent in His will, because it is contained in His intelligence and
wisdom, in His very nature and most intimate essence.
Qu.·. What is the fifth great Truth in Masonry?
Ans.·. There is an essential distinction between Good and Evil, what is
just and what is unjust; and to this distinction is attached, for every
intelligent and free creature, the absolute obligation of conforming to what
is good and just. Man is an intelligent and free being, - free, because he is
conscious that it is his duty, and because it is made his duty, to obey the
dictates of truth and justice, and therefore he must necessarily have the
power of doing so, which involves the power of not doing so; - capable of
comprehending the distinction between good and evil, justice and
injustice, and the obligation which accompanies it, and of naturally
adhering to that obligation, independently of any con-
tract or positive law; capable also of resisting the temptations which urge
him toward evil and injustice, and of complying with the sacred law of
That man is not governed by a resistless Fate or inexorable Destiny; but
is free to choose between the evil and the good: that justice and Right,
the Good and Beautiful, are of the essence of the Divinity, like His
Infinitude; and therefore they are laws to man: that we are conscious of
our freedom to act, as we are conscious of our identity, and the
continuance and connectedness of our existence; and have the same
evidence of one as of the other; and if we can put one in doubt, we have
no certainty of either, and everything is unreal: that we can deny our free
will and free agency, only upon the ground that they are in the nature of
things impossible; which would be to deny the Omnipotence of God.
Qu.·. What is the sixth great Truth of Masonry?
Ans.·. The necessity of practising the moral truths, is obligation. The
moral truths, necessary in the eye of reason, are obligatory on the will.
The moral obligation, like the moral truth that is its foundation, is
As the necessary truths are not more or less necessary, so the obligation
is not more or less obligatory. There are degrees of importance among
different obligations; but none in the obligation itself. We are not nearly
obliged, almost obliged. We are wholly so, or not at all. If there be any
place of refuge to which we can escape from the obligation, it ceases to
exist. If the obligation is absolute, it is immutable and universal. For if
of to-day may not be that of to-morrow, if what is obligatory on me may not
be obligatory on you, the obligation would differ from itself, and be
variable and contingent. This fact is the principle of all morality. That
every act contrary to right and justice, deserves to be repressed by force,
and punished when committed, equally in the absence of any law or
contract: that man naturally recognizes the distinction between the merit
and demerit of actions, as he does that between justice and injustice,
honesty and dishonesty; and feels, without being taught, and in the
absence of law or contract, that it is wrong for vice to be rewarded or go
unpunished, and for virtue to be punished or left unrewarded: and that,
the Deity being infinitely just and good, it must follow as a necessary and
inflexible law that punishment shall be the result of Sin, its inevitable and
natural effect and corollary, and not a mere arbitrary vengeance.
Qu.·. What is the seventh great Truth in Masonry?
Ans.·. The immutable law of God requires, that besides respecting the
absolute rights of others, and being merely just, we should do good, be
charitable, and obey the dictates of the generous and noble sentiments of
the soul. Charity is a law, because our conscience is not satisfied nor at
ease if we have not relieved the suffering, the distressed, and the
destitute. It is to give that which he to whom you give has no right to take
or demand. To be charitable is obligatory on us. We are the Almoners of
God's bounties. But the obligation is not so precise and inflexible as the
obligation to be just. Charity knows neither rule nor limit. It goes beyond
all obligation. Its beauty consists in its liberty. "He that loveth not,
not God; FOR GOD IS LOVE. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us,
and His love is perfected in us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love,
dwelleth in God, and God in him." To be kindly affectioned one to another
with brotherly love; to relieve the necessities of the needy, and be
generous, liberal, and hospitable; to return to no man evil for evil ; to
rejoice at the good fortune of others, and sympathize with them in their
sorrows and reverses; to live peaceably with all men, and repay injuries
with benefits and kindness; these are the sublime dictates of the Moral
Law, taught from the infancy of the world, by Masonry.
Qu.·. What is the eighth great Truth in Masonry?
Ans.·. That the law which control and regulate the Universe of God, are
those of motion and harmony. We see only the isolated, incidents of
things, and with our feeble and limited capacity and, vision cannot discern
their connection, nor the mighty chords, that make the apparent discord
perfect harmony. Evil is merely apparent, and all is in reality good and
perfect. For pain and sorrow, persecution and hardships, affliction and
destitution, sickness and death are but the means, by which alone the
noblest, virtues could be developed. Without them, and without sin and
error, and wrong and outrage, as there can be no effect without an
adequate cause, there could be neither patience under suffering and
distress; nor prudence in difficulty; nor temperance to avoid excess; nor
courage to meet danger; nor truth, when to speak the truth is hazardous;
nor love, when it is met with ingratitude; nor charity for the needy and
destitute; nor forbearance and forgiveness of injuries; nor toleration of
erroneous opinions; nor charitable judgment and construction of men's
actions; nor patriotism, nor heroism, nor honor, nor self-denial, nor
generosity. These and most other virtues and excellencies would have no
existence, and even their names be unknown; and the poor virtues that
still existed, would scarce deserve the name; for life would be one flat,
dead, low level, above which none of the lofty elements of human nature
would emerge; and man would lie lapped in contented indolence and
idleness, a mere worthless negative, instead of the brave, strong soldier
against the grim legions of Evil and rude Difficulty.
Qu.·. What is the ninth great Truth in Masonry?
Ans.·. The great leading doctrine of this Degree;- that the JUSTICE, the
WISDOM, and the MERCY of God are alike infinite, alike perfect, and yet
do not in the least jar nor conflict one with the other; but form a Great
Perfect Trinity of Attributes, three and yet one: that, the principle of merit
and demerit being absolute, and every good action deserving to be
rewarded, and every bad one to be punished, and God being as just as
He is good; and yet the cases constantly recurring in this world, in which
crime and cruelty, oppression, tyranny, and injustice are prosperous,
happy, fortunate, and self-contented, and rule and reign, and enjoy all the
blessings of God's beneficence, while the virtuous and good are
unfortunate, miserable, destitute, pining away in dungeons, perishing with
cold, and famishing with hunger, slaves of oppression, and instruments
and victims of the miscreants that govern; so that this world, if there were
no existence beyond it, would be one great theatre of wrong and injustice,
proving God wholly disregardful of His own necessary law of merit and
demerit; - it follows that there must be another life in which these apparent
wrongs shall be repaired: That all the powers of man's soul tend to
infinity; and his indomitable instinct of immortality, and the universal hope
of another life, testified by all creeds, all poetry, all traditions,
certainty; for man is not an orphan; but hath a Father near at hand: and
the day must come when Light and Truth, and the just and Good shall be
victorious, and Darkness, Error, Wrong, and Evil be annihilated, and
known no more forever: That the Universe is one great Harmony, in
which, according to the faith of all nations, deep-rooted in all hearts in the
primitive ages, Light will ultimately prevail over Darkness, and the Good
Principle over the Evil: and the myriad souls that have emanated from the
Divinity, purified and ennobled by the struggle
here below, will again return to perfect bliss in the bosom of God, to offend
against Whose laws will then be no longer possible.
Qu.·. What, then, is the one great lesson taught to us, as Masons, in this
Ans.·. That to that state and realm of Light and Truth and Perfection, which
is absolutely certain, all the good men on earth are tending; and if there
law from whose operation none are exempt, which inevitably conveys their
bodies to darkness and to dust, there is another not less certain nor less
powerful, which conducts their spirits to that state of Happiness and
Splendor and Perfection, the bosom of their Father and their God. The
wheels of Nature are not made to roll backward. Everything presses on to
Eternity. From the birth of Time an impetuous current has set in, which
bears all the sons of men toward that interminable ocean. Meanwhile,
Heaven is attracting to itself whatever is cogenial to its nature, is
itself by the spoils of the Earth, and collecting within its capacious bosom
whatever is pure, permanent, and divine, leaving nothing for the last fire to
consume but the gross matter that creates concupiscence; while everything
fit for that good fortune shall be gathered and selected from the ruins of the
world, to adorn that Eternal City.
Let every Mason then obey the voice that calls him thither. Let us seek the
things that are above, and be not content with a world that must shortly
perish, and which we must speedily quit, while we neglect to prepare for
that in which we are invited to dwell forever. While everything within us and
around us reminds us of the approach of death, and concurs to teach us
that this is., not our rest, let us hasten our preparations for another world,
and earnestly implore that help and strength from our Father, which alone
can put an end to that fatal war which our desires have too long waged with
our destiny. When these move in the same, direction, and that which God's
will renders unavoidable shall become our choice, all things will be ours;
life will be divested of its vanity, and death disarmed of its terrors.
Qu.·. What are the symbols of the purification necessary to make us perfect
Ans.·. Lavation with pure water, or baptism; because to cleanse the body is
emblematical of purifying the soul; and because it conduces to the bodily
health, and virtue is the health of the soul, as sin and vice are its malady
and sickness:- unction, or anoint-
ing with oil; because thereby we are set apart and dedicated to the
service and priesthood of the Beautiful, the True, and the Good:- and
robes of white, emblems of candor, purity, and truth.
Qu.·. What is to us the chief symbol of man's ultimate redemption and
Ans.·. The fraternal supper, of bread which nourishes, and of wine which
refreshes and exhilarates, symbolical of the time which is to come, when
all mankind shall be one great harmonious brotherhood; and teaching us
these great lessons: that as matter changes ever, but no single atom is
annihilated, it is not rational to suppose that the far nobler soul does not
continue to exist beyond the grave: that many thousands who have died
before us might claim to be joint owners with ourselves of the particles
that compose our mortal bodies; for matter ever forms new combinations;
and the bodies of the ancient dead, the patriarchs before and since the
flood, the kings and common people of all ages, resolved into their
constituent elements, are carried upon the wind over all continents, and
continually enter into and form part of the habitations of new souls,
creating new bonds of sympathy and brotherhood between each man that
lives and all his race. And thus, in the bread we eat, and in the wine we
drink to-night may enter into and form part of us the identical particles of
matter that once formed parts of the material bodies called Moses,
Confucius, Plato, Socrates, or Jesus of Nazareth. In the truest sense, we
eat and drink the bodies of the dead; and cannot say that there is a single
atom of our blood or body, the ownership of which some other soul might
not dispute with us. It teaches us also the infinite beneficence of God who
sends us seedtime and harvest each in its season, and makes His
showers to fall and His sun to shine alike upon the evil and the good:
bestowing upon us unsolicited His innumerable blessings, and asking no
return. For there are no angels stationed upon the watchtowers of
creation to call the world to prayer and sacrifice; but He bestows His
benefits in silence, like a kind friend who comes at night, and, leaving his
gifts at the door, to be found by us in the morning, goes quietly away and
asks no thanks, nor ceases his kind offices for our ingratitude. And thus
the bread and wine teach us that our Mortal Body is no more WE than the
house in which we live, or the garments that we wear; but the Soul is I,
the ONE, identical, unchangeable, immortal emanation from the Diety, to
return to God and be forever happy, in His good time; as our mortal
bodies, dissolving, return to the elements from which they came, their
particles coining and going ever in perpetual genesis. To our Jewish
Brethren, this supper is symbolical of the Passover: to the Christian
Mason, of that eaten by Christ and His Disciples, when, celebrating the
Passover, He broke bread and gave it to them, saying, "Take! eat! this is
My body:" and giving them the cup, He said, "Drink ye all of it! for this is
My blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission
of sins;" thus symbolizing the perfect harmony and union between Himself
and the faithful; and His death upon the cross for the salvation of man.
The history of Masonry is the history of Philosophy. Masons do not
pretend to set themselves up for instructors of the human race: but,
though Asia produced and preserved the Mysteries, Masonry has, in
Europe and America, given regularity to their doctrines, spirit, and action,
and developed the moral advantages which mankind may reap from them.
More consistent, and more simple in its mode of procedure, it has put an
end to the vast allegorical pantheon of ancient mythologies, and itself
become a science.
None can deny that Christ taught a lofty morality. "Love one another:
forgive those that despitefully use you and persecute you: be pure of
heart, meek, humble, contented: lay not up riches on earth, but in
Heaven: submit to the powers lawfully over you: become like these little
children, or ye cannot be saved, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven:
forgive the repentant; and cast no stone at the sinner, if you too have
sinned: do unto others as ye would have others do unto you:" such, and
Questions of theology, were His simple and sublime
The early Christi
Ans followed in His footsteps. The first preachers of the
faith had no thought of domination. Entirely animated by His saying, that
he among them should be first, who should serve with the greatest
devotion, they were humble, modest, and charitable, and they knew how
to communicate this spirit of the inner man to the churches under their
direction. These churches were at first but spontaneous meetings of all
Christians inhabiting the same locality. A pure and severe morality,
mingled with religious enthusiasm, was the characteristic of each, and
excited the admiration even of their persecutors. Everything was
in common among them; their property, their joys, and their sorrows. In
the silence of night they met for instruction and to pray together. Their
love-feasts, or fraternal repasts, ended these reunions, in which all
differences in social position and rank were effaced in the presence of a
paternal Divinity. Their sole object was to make men better, by bringing
them back to a simple worship, of which universal morality was the basis;
and to end those numerous and cruel sacrifices which everywhere
inundated with blood the altars of the gods. Thus did Christianity reform
the world, and obey the teachings of its founder. It gave to woman her
proper rank and influence; it regulated domestic life; and by admitting the
slaves to the love-feasts, it by degrees raised them above that oppression
under which half of mankind had groaned for ages.
This, in its purity, as taught by Christ Himself, was the true primitive
religion, as communicated by God to the Patriarchs. It was no new
religion, but the reproduction of the oldest of all; and its true and perfect
morality is the morality of Masonry, as is the morality of every creed of
In the early days of Christianity, there was an initiation like those of the
Ans. Persons were admitted on special conditions only. To arrive at a
complete knowledge of the doctrine, they had to pass three degrees of
instruction. The initiates were conse
Quently divided into three classes; the
first, Auditors, the second, Catechumens, and the third, the Faithful. The
Auditors were a sort of novices, who were prepared by certain
ceremonies and certain instruction to receive the dogmas of Christianity.
A portion of these dogmas was made known to the Catechumens; who,
after particular purifications, received baptism, or the initiation of the
theogenesis (divine generation); but in the grand mysteries of that
religion, the incarnation, nativity, passion, and resurrection of Christ, none
were initiated but the Faithful. These doctrines, and the celebration of the
Holy Sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, were kept with profound
secrecy. These Mysteries were divided into two parts; the first styled the
Mass of the Catechumens; the second, the Mass of the Faithful. The
celebration of the Mysteries of Mithras was also styled a mass; and the
ceremonies used were the same. There were found all the sacraments of
the Catholic Church, even the breath of confirmation.
The Priest of
Mithras promised the Initiates deliverance from sin, by means
of confession and baptism, and a future life of happiness or misery. He
celebrated the oblation of bread, image of the resurrection. The baptism
of newly-born children, extreme unction, confession of sins, - all belonged
to the Mithriac rites. The candidate was purified by a species of baptism,
a mark was impressed upon his forehead, he offered bread and water,
pronouncing certain mysterious words.
During the persecutions in the early ages of Christianity, the Christi
took refuge in the vast catacombs which stretched for miles in every
direction under the city of Rome, and are supposed to have been of
Etruscan origin. There, amid labyrinthine windings, deep caverns, hidden
chambers, chapels, and tombs, the persecuted fugitives found refuge,
and there they performed the ceremonies of the Mysteries.
The Basilideans, a sect of Christians that arose soon after the time of the
Apostles, practised the Mysteries, with the old Egyptian legend. They
symbolized Osiris by the Sun, Isis by the Moon, and Typhon by Scorpio;
and wore crystals bearing these emblems, as amulets or talismans to
protect them from danger; upon which were also a brilliant star and the
serpent. They were copied from the talismans of Persia and Arabia, and
given to every candidate, at his initiation.
Irenęaus tells us that the Simoni
Ans, one of the earliest sects of the
Gnostics, had a Priesthood of the Mysteries.
Tertullian tells us that the Valentinians, the most celebrated of all the
Gnostic schools, imitated, or rather perverted, the Mysteries of Eleusis.
Irenęaus informs us, in several curious chapters, of the Mysteries
practised by the Marcosians; and Origen gives, much information as to
the Mysteries of the Ophites; and there is no doubt that all the Gnostic
sects had Mysteries and an initiation. They all claimed to possess a
secret doctrine, coming to them directly from Jesus Christ, different from
that of the Gospels and Epistles, and superior to those communications,
which in their eyes, were merely exoteric. This secret doctrine they did not
communicate to every one; and among the extensive sect of the
Basilideans hardly one in a thousand knew it, as we learn from Irenęaus.
We know the name of only the highest class of their Initiates. They were
], and Strangers to the World [ styled Elect or Elus [ ].
They had at lest three Degrees - the Material, the Intellectual, and the
and the lesser and greater Mysteries; and the number of those who attained the
highest Degree was
Baptism was one of their most important ceremonies; and the Basilide
the 10th of January, as the anniversary of the day on which Christ was
They had the ceremony of laying on of hands, by way of purification; and
that of the
Quet, emblem of that to which they believed the Heavenly Wisdom
]. one day admit them, in the fullness of things [
Their ceremonies were much more like those of the Christians than those of
but they mingled with them much that was borrowed from the Orient and
taught the primitive truths, mixed with a multitude of fantastic errors and
The discipline of the secret was the concealment (occultatio) of certain
ceremonies. So says Clemens of Alexandria.
To avoid persecution, the early Christians were compelled to use great
and to hold meetings of the Faithful [of the Household of Faith] in private
under concealment by darkness, They assembled in the night, and they guarded
against the intrusion of false brethren and profane persons, spies who
their arrest. They conversed together figuratively, and by the use of
Ans and eavesdroppers might overhear: and there existed among them a
class, or Order, who were initiated into certain Mysteries which they were
solemn promise not to disclose, or even converse about, except with such as
received them under the same sanction. They were called Brethren, the
Stewards of the Mysteries, Superintendents, Devotees of the Secret, and
In the Hierarchi, attributed to St. Dionysius the Areopagite, the first
Athens, the tradition of the sacrament is said to have been divided into three
Degrees, or grades, purification, initiation, and accomplishment or
perfection; and it
mentions also, as part of the ceremony, the bringing to sight.
The Apostolic Constitutions, attributed to Clemens, Bishop of Rome,
early church, and say: "These regulations must on no account be
communicated to all
sorts of persons, because of the Mysteries contained in them." They speak
Deacon's duty to keep the doors, that none uninitiated should enter at the
Ostiarii, or doorkeepers, kept guard, and gave notice of the time of prayer
and also by private
signal, in times of persecution, gave notice to those within, toe able them
danger. The Mysteries were open to the Fideles or Faithful only; and no
were allowed at the communion.
Tertullian, who died about A. D. 216, says in his Apology: "None are
the religious Mysteries without an oath of secrecy. We appeal to your Thracian
and Eleusinian Mysteries; and we are especially bound to this caution,
we prove faithless, we should not only provoke Heaven, but draw upon our heads
the utmost rigor of human displeasure. And should strangers betray us? They
know nothing but by report and hearsay. Far hence, ye Profane! is the
from all holy Mysteries."
Clemens, Bishop of Alexandria, born about A.D. 191, says, in his Stromata,
he cannot explain the Mysteries, because he should thereby, according to
proverb, put a sword into the hands of a child. He frequently compares the
Discipline of the Secret with the heathen Mysteries, as to their internal and
Whenever the early Christians happened to be in company with strangers, more
properly termed the Profane, they never spoke of their sacraments, but
to one another what they meant by means of symbols and secret watchwords,
disguisedly, and as by direct communication of mind with mind, and by enigmas.
Origen, born A.D. 134 or 135, answering Celsus, who had objected that the
Christians had a concealed doctrine said: "Inasmuch as the essential and
important doctrines and principles of Christianity are openly taught, it is
object that there are other things that are recondite; for this is common
discipline with that of those philosophers in whose teaching some things were
exoteric and some esoteric: and it is enough to say that it was so with
some of the
disciples of Pythagoras."
The formula which the primitive church pronounced at the moment of celebrating
its Mysteries, was this: "Depart, ye Profane! Let the Catechumens, and
have not been admitted or initiated, go forth."
Archelaus, Bishop of Cascara in Mesopotamia, who, in the year 278, conducted a
controversy with the Manichaeans, said: "These Mysteries the church now
communicates to him who has passed through the introductory Degree. They are
not explained to the Gentiles at all; nor are they taught openly in the
Catechumens: but much that is spoken is in disguised terms that the
Faithful [ ], who possess the knowledge, may be still more informed,
and those who are not ac
Quainted with it, may suffer no disadvantage."
Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, was born in the year 315, and died in 386. In
his Catechesis he says: "The Lord spake in parables to His hearers in
general; but to His disciples He explained in private the parables and
allegories which He spoke in public. The splendor of glory is for those
who are early enlightened: obscurity and darkness are the portion of the
unbelievers and ignorant. Just so the church discovers its Mysteries to
those who have advanced beyond the class of Catechumens: we employ
obscure terms with others."
St. Basil, the Great Bishop of Cęsarea, born in the year 326, and dying in
the year 376, says: "We receive the dogmas tr
Ansmitted to us by writing,
and those which have descended to us from the Apostles, beneath the
mystery of oral tradition: for several things have been handed to us
without writing, lest the vulgar, too familiar with our dogmas, should lose a
due respect for them. . . . This is what the uninitiated are not permitted to
contemplate; and how should it ever be proper to write and circulate
among the people an account of them?"
St. Gregory Nazianzen, Bishop of Constantinople, A.D. 379, says: "You
have heard as much of the Mystery as we are allowed to speak openly in
the ears of all; the rest will be communicated to you in private; and that
you must retain within yourself.
. Our Mysteries are not to be made
known to strangers."
St. Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan, who was born in 340, and died in 393,
says in his work De Mysteriis: "All the Mystery should be kept concealed,
guarded by faithful silence, lest it should be inconsiderately divulged to
the ears of the Profane . . . . . It is not given to all to contemplate the
depths of our Mysteries
. that they may not be seen by those who ought
not to behold them; nor received by those who cannot preserve them."
And in another work: "He sins against God, who divulges to the unworthy
the Mysteries confided to him. The danger is not merely in violating truth,
but in telling truth, if he allow himself to give hints of them to those from
whom they ought to be concealed Beware of casting pearls before swine!
.... Every Mystery ought to be kept secret; and, as it were, to be covered
over by silence, lest it should rashly
be divulged to the ears of the Profane. Take heed that you do not
incautiously reveal the Mysteries!"
St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, who was born in 347, and died in 430, says
in one of his discourses: "Having dismissed the Catechumens, we have
retained you only to be our hearers; because, besides those things which
belong to all Christians in common, we are now to discourse to you of
sublime Mysteries, which none are
Qualified to hear, but those who, by the
Master's favor, are made partakers of them
.To have taught them openly,
would have been to betray them." And he refers to the Ark of the Covenant,
and says that it signified a Mystery, or secret of God, shadowed over by the
cherubim of glory, and honored by being veiled.
St. Chrysostom and St. Augustine speak of initiation more than fifty times.
Ambrose writes to those who are initiated; and initiation was not merely
baptism, or admission into the church, but it referred to initiation into the
Mysteries. To the baptized and initiated the Mysteries of religion were
unveiled; they were kept secret from the Catechumens; who were permitted
to hear the Scriptures read and the ordinary discourses delivered, in which
the Mysteries, reserved for the Faithful, were never treated of. When the
services and prayers were ended, the Catechumens and spectators all
( end Part 1 of 3 )