In one respect all the Gnostics agreed: they all held, that there was a world purely emanating out of the vital development of God, a creation evolved directly out of the Divine Essence, far exalted above any outward creation produced by God's plastic power, and conditioned by pre-existing matter. They agreed in holding that the framer of this lower world was not the Father of that higher world of emanation; but the Demiurge [ - ], a being of a kindred nature with the Universe framed and governed by him, and far inferior to that higher system and the Father of it. But some, setting out from ideas which had long prevailed among certain Jews of Alexandria, supposed that the Supreme God created and governed the world by His ministering spirits, by the angels. At the head of these angels stood one who had the direction and control of all; therefore called the Artificer and Governor of the World. This Demiurge they compared with the plastic, animating, mundane spirit of Plato and ….Deuteros Theos; the Platonists [the …. Theos Genetos], who, moreover, according to the Timęus of Plato, strives to represent the IDEA of the Divine Reason, in that which is becoming (as contradistinguished from that which is) and temporal. This angel is a representative of the Supreme God, on the lower stage of existence: he does not act independently, but merely according to the ideas inspired in him by the Supreme God; just as the plastic, mundane soul of the Platonists creates all things after the pattern of the ideas communicated .... Nous - the by the Supreme .Reason [ ... ho esti zöon - the paradeigma, of the Divine Reason hypostatized].
But these ideas transcend his limited essence; he cannot understand them; he is merely their unconscious organ; and therefore is unable himself to comprehend the whole scope and meaning of the work which lie performs. As an organ under the guidance of a higher inspiration, he reveals higher truths than he himself can comprehend. The mass of the Jews, they held, recognized not the angel, by whom, in all the Theophanies of the Old Testament, God revealed Himself ; they knew not the Demiurge in his true relation to the hidden Supreme God, who never reveals Himself in the sensible world. They confounded the type and the archetype, the symbol and the idea. They rose no higher than the Demiurge; they took him to be the Supreme God Himself. But the spiritual men among them, on the contrary, clearly perceived, or at least divined, the ideas veiled under Judaism; they rose beyond the Demiurge, to a knowledge of the Supreme God; and are therefore properly His . . Therapeutai]. worshippers [ Other Gnostics, who had not been followers of the Mosaic religion, but who had, at an earlier period, framed to themselves an oriental Gnosis, regarded the Demiurge as a being absolutely hostile to the Supreme God. He and his angels, notwithstanding their finite nature, wish to establish their independence: they will tolerate no foreign rule within their realm. Whatever of a higher nature descends into their kingdom, they seek to hold imprisoned there, lest it should raise itself above their narrow precincts. Probably, in this system, the kingdom of the Demiurgic Angels corresponded, for the most part, with that of the deceitful Star-Spirits, who seek to rob man of his freedom, to beguile him by various arts of deception, and who exercise a tyrannical sway over the things of this world. Accordingly, in the system of these Sabęans, the seven Planet- Spirits, and the twelve Star-Spirits of the zodiac, who sprang from an irregular connection between the cheated Fetahil and the Spirit of Darkness, play an important part in everything that is bad. The Demiurge is a limited and limiting being, proud, jealous, and revengeful; and this his character betrays itself in the Old Testament, which, the Gnostics held, came from him. They transferred to the Demiurge himself, whatever in the idea of God, as presented by the Old Testament, appeared to them defective. Against his will and rule the was continually rebelling, revolting without control against the dominion which he, the fashioner, would exercise over it, casting off the yoke imposed on it, and destroying the work he had begun. The same jealous being, limited in his power, ruling with despotic sway, they imagined they saw in nature. He strives to check the germination of the divine seeds of life which the Supreme God of Holiness and Love, who has no connection whatever with the sensible world, has scattered among men. That perfect God was at most known and worshipped in Mysteries by a few spiritual men.
The Gospel of St. John is in great measure a polemic against the Gnostics, whose different sects, to solve the great problems, the creation of a material world by an immaterial Being, the fall of man, the incarnation, the redemption and restoration of the spirits called men, admitted a long series of intelligences, intervening in a series of spiritual operations; and which they designated by the names, The Beginning, the Word, the Only-Begotten, Life, Light, and Spirit [Ghost]: in Greek, , , Mo- and [Archė, Logos, Monogenės, Zöe, , Phös, and Pneuma]. St. John, at the beginning of his Gospel, avers that it was Jesus Christ who existed in the Beginning; that He was the WORD of God by which everything was made; that He was the Only-Begotten, the Life and the Light, and that He diffuses among men the Holy Spirit [or Ghost], the Divine Life and Light.
So the Plėroma [ ], Plenitude or Fullness, was a favorite term with the Gnostics, and Truth and Grace were the Gnostic Eons; and the Simonians, Dokėtės, and other Gnostics held that the Eon Christ Jesus was never really, but only apparently clothed with a human body: but St. John replies that the Word did really become Flesh, and dwelt among us; and that in Him were the Plėroma and Truth and Grace. In the doctrine of Valentinus, reared a Christian at Alexandria, God was a perfect Being, an Abyss [ . . Buthos], which no intelligence could sound, because no eye could reach the invisible and ineffable heights on which He dwelt, and no mind could comprehend the duration of His existence; He has always been; He is the Primitive Father and Beginning and [the . . Propatör and Proarchė]: He will BE always, and does not grow old. The development of His Perfections produced the intellectual world. After having passed infinite ages in repose and silence, He manifested Himself by His Thought, source of all His manifestations, and which received from Him the germ of His .. Ennoia] is also creations. Being of His Being, His Thought [ termed [Charis], Grace or Joy, and , or [Sigė or Arrėton], Silence or the Ineffable. Its first manifestation was [Nous], the Intelligence, first of the Eons, commencement of all things, first revelation of the Divinity, the [Monogenės], or Only-Begotten: next, Truth [ - … Alėtheia], his companion. Their manifestations were the Word ….Zoė] and theirs, Man and the Church and .. Logos] and Life [ [ [ and …. Anthröpos and Ekklėsia]: and from these, other twelve, six of whom were Hope, Faith, Charity, Intelligence, Happiness, and Wisdom; or, in the Hebrew, Kesten, Kina, Amphe, Ouananim, Thaedes, and Oubina. The harmony of the Eons, struggling to know and be united to the Primitive God, was disturbed, and to redeem and restore them, the Intelligence [ ] produced Christ and the Holy Spirit His companion; who restored them to their first estate of happiness and harmony; and thereupon they formed the Eon Jesus, born of a Virgin, to whom the Christos united himself in baptism and who, with his Companion Sophia-Achamoth, saved and redeemed the world. The Marcosians taught that the Supreme Deity produced by His words the [Logos] or Plenitude of Eons: His first utterance was a syllable of four letters, each of which became a being; His second of four, His third of ten, and His fourth of twelve: thirty in all, which constituted the f [Plėroma].
The Valentinians, and others of the Gnostics, distinguished three orders of existences: - 1st. The divine germs of life, exalted by their nature above matter, and akin to the (Sophia], to the mundane soul and to the Plėroma:- the spiritual natures, [Phuseis Pneumatikai]: 2d. The natures originating in the life, divided from the former by the mixture , - the psychical natures, of the [Phuseis Psuchikai]; with which begins a perfectly new order of existence, an image of that higher mind and system, in a subordinate grade; and finally, 3d. The Ungodlike or Hylic Nature, which resists all amelioration, and whose tendency is only to destroy - the nature of blind lust and passion.
The nature of the relationship with God (the [pneumatikon], the spiritual, is essential …. Homo-ousion tö Theö): hence the life of Unity, the undivided, the , absolutely simple ( …. Ousia henike, monoeides).
[psuchikoi) is disruption into multiplicity, The essence of the manifoldness; which, however, is subordinate to a higher unity, by which it allows itself to be guided, first unconsciously, then consciously. The essence of the [Hulikoi] (of whom Satan is the head), is the direct opposite to all unity; disruption and disunion in itself, without the least sympathy, without any point of coalescence whatever for unity; together with an effort to destroy all unity, to extend its own inherent disunion to everything, and to rend everything asunder. This principle has no power to posit anything; but only to negative: it is unable to create, to produce, to form, but only to destroy, to decompose.
By Marcus, the disciple of Valentinus, the idea of a [Logos Tou Ontos], of a WORD, manifesting the hidden Divine Essence, in the Creation, was spun out into the most subtle details - the entire creation being, in his view, a continuous utterance of the Ineffable. The way in which the germs of divine life [the …. spermata pneumatika], which lie shut up in the Eons, continually unfold and individualize them selves more and more, is represented as a spontaneous analysis of the several names of the Ineffable, into their several sounds. An echo of the Plėroma falls down into the [HuIė], and becomes the forming of a new but lower creation. One formula of the pneumatical baptism among the Gnostics ran thus: "In the NAME which is hidden from all the Divinities and Powers" [of the Demiurge], "The Name of Truth" [the [Aletheial, self-manifestation of the Buthos], which Jesus of Nazareth has put on in the light-zones of Christ, the living Christ, through the Holy Ghost, for the redemption of the angels, - the Name by which all things attain to Perfection." The candidate then said: "I am established and redeemed; I am redeemed in my soul from this world, and from all that belongs to it, by the name of , who has redeemed the Soul of Jesus by the living Christ." The assembly then said: "Peace (or Salvation) to all on whom this name rests!" The boy Dionusos, torn in pieces, according to the Bacchic Mysteries, by the Titans, was considered by the Manicheans as simply representing the Soul, swallowed up by the powers of dark- ness, - the divine life rent into fragments by matter: - that part of the luminous essence of the primitive man [the [Protos Anthropos] of Mani, the [Praön Anthröpos] of the Valentinians, the Adam Kadmon of the Kabalah; and the Kalomorts of the Zendavesta], swallowed up by the powers of darkness; the Mundane Soul, mixed with matter - the seed of divine life, which had fallen into matter, and had thence to undergo a process of purification and development.
The [Gnosis] of Carpocrates and his son Epiphanes consisted in the knowledge of one Supreme Original being, the highest unity, from whom all existence has emanated, and to whom it strives to return. The finite spirits that rule over the several portions of the Earth, seek to counteract this universal tendency to unity; and from their influence, their laws, and arrangements, proceeds all that checks, disturbs, or limits the original communion, which is the basis of nature, as the outward manifestation of that highest Unity. These spirits, moreover, seek to retain under their dominion the souls which, emanating from the highest Unity, and still partaking of its nature, have lapsed into the corporeal world, and have there been imprisoned in bodies, in order, under their dominion, to be kept within the cycle of migration. From these finite spirits, the popular religions of different nations derive their origin. But the souls which, from a reminiscence of their former condition, soar upward to the contemplation of that higher Unity, reach to such perfect freedom and repose, as nothing afterward can disturb or limit, and rise superior to the popular deities and religions. As examples of this sort, they named Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, and Christ. They made no distinction between the latter and the wise and good men of every nation. They taught that any other soul which could soar to the same height of contemplation, might be regarded as equal with Him.
The Ophites commenced their system with a Supreme Being, long unknown to the Human race, and still so the greater number of men; the [Buthos], or Profundity, Source of Light, and of Adam-Kadmon, the Primitive Man, made by the Demiourgos, but perfected by the Supreme God by the communication to him of the Spirit [ . . Pneuma]. The first emanation was the Thought of the Supreme Deity [the .. Ennoia], the conception of the Universe in the Thought of God.
This Thought, called also Silence ( . . Sigė), produced the Spirit [ .. Pneuma], Mother of the Living, and Wisdom of God. Together with this Primitive Existence, Matter existed also (the Waters, Darkness, Abyss, and Chaos), eternal like the Spiritual Principle. Buthos and His Thought, uniting with Wisdom, made her fruitful by the Divine Light, and she produced a perfect and an imperfect being, Christos, and a Second and inferior wisdom, Sophia-Achamoth, who falling into chaos remained entangled there, became enfeebled, and lost all knowledge of the Superior Wisdom that gave her birth. Communicating movement to Chaos, she produced Ialdabaoth, the Demiourgos, Agent of Material Creation, and then ascended toward her first place in the scale of creation. laldabaoth produced an angel that was his image, and this a second, and so on in succession to the sixth after the Demiourgos: the seven being reflections one of the other, yet different and inhabiting seven distinct regions. The names of the six thus produced were IAO, SABAOTH, ADONAI, ELOI, ORAI, and ASTAPHAL Ialdabaoth, to become independent of his mother, and to pass for the Supreme Being, made the world, and man, in his own image; and his mother caused the Spiritual principle to pass from him into man so made; and henceforward the contest between the Demiourgos and his mother, between light and darkness, good and evil, was concentrated in man; and the image of Ialdabaoth, reflected upon matter, became the Serpent-Spirit, Satan, the Evil Intelligence. Eve, created by Ialdabaoth, had by Us Sons children that were angels like themselves.
The Spiritual light was withdrawn from man by Sophia, and the world surrendered to the influence of evil; until the Spirit, urged by the entreaties of Wisdom, induced the Supreme Being to send Christos to redeem it. Compelled, despite himself, by his Mother, Ialdabaoth caused the man Jesus to be born of a Virgin, and the Celestial Saviour, uniting with his Sister, Wisdom, descended through the regions of the seven angels, appeared in each under the form of its chief, concealed his own, and entered with his sister into the man Jesus at the baptism in Jordan. Ialdabaoth, finding that Jesus was destroying his empire and abolishing his worship, caused the Jews to hate and crucify Him; before which happened, Christos and Wisdom had ascended to the celestial regions. They restored Jesus to life and gave Him an ethereal body, in which He remained eighteen months on earth, and receiving from Wisdom the per- fect knowledge [ …..Gnosis], communicated it to a small number of His apostles, and then arose to the intermediate region inhabited by laldabaoth, where, unknown to him, He sits at his right hand, taking from him the Souls of Light purified by Christos. When nothing of the Spiritual world shall remain subject to laldabaoth, the redemption will be accomplished, and the end of the world, the completion of the return of Light into the Plenitude, will occur.
Tatian adopted the theory of Emanation, of Eons, of the existence of a God too sublime to allow Himself to be known, but displaying Himself by Intelligences emanating from His bosom. The first of these was His spirit [ ….. Pneuma], God Himself, God thinking, God conceiving the Universe. The second was the Word [ … Logos], no longer merely the Thought or Conception, but the Creative Utterance, manifestation of the Divinity, but emanating from the Thought or Spirit; the First-Begotten, author of the visible creation. This was the Trinity, composed of the Father, Spirit, and Word.
The Elxaļtes adopted the Seven Spirits of the Gnostics; but named them Heaven, Water, Spirit, The Holy Angels of Prayer, Oil, Salt, and the Earth. The opinion of the Doketes as to the human nature of Jesus Christ, was that most generally received among the Gnostics. They deemed the intelligences of the Superior World too pure and too much the antagonists of matter, to be willing to unite with it: and held that Christ, an Intelligence of the first rank, in appearing upon the earth, did not become confounded with matter, but took upon Himself only the appearance of a body, or at the most used it only as an envelope.
Noėtus termed the Son the first Utterance of the Father; the Word, not by Himself, as an Intelligence, and unconnected with the flesh, a real Son; but a Word, and a perfect Only-Begotten; light emanated from the Light; water flowing from its spring; a ray emanated from the Sun.
Paul of Samosata taught that Jesus Christ was the Son of Joseph and Mary; but that the Word, Wisdom, or Intelligence of God, the [Nous] of the Gnostics, had united itself with Him, so that He might be said to be at once the Son of God, and God Himself.
Arius called the Saviour the first of creatures, non-emanated from God, but really created, by the direct will of God, before time and the ages. According to the Church, Christ was of the same nature as God; according to some dissenters, of the same nature as man. Arius adopted the theory of a nature analogous to both. When God resolved to create the Human race, He made a Being which He called THE WORD, THE SON, WISDOM [ , , …. Logos, Uios, Sophia], to the end that He might give existence to men. This WORD is the Ormuzd of Zoroaster, the Ensoph of the Kabalah, the ; of Platonism and Philonism, and the or [Sophia or Demiourgos] of the Gnostics. He distinguished the Inferior Wisdom, or the daughter, from the Superior Wisdom; the latter being in God, inherent in His nature, and incapable of communication to any creature: the second, by which the Son was made, communicated itself to Him, and therefore He Himself was entitled to be called the Word and the Son.
Manes, founder of the Sect of the Manicheans, who had lived and been distinguished among the Persian Magi, profited by the doctrines of Scythianus, a Kabalist or Judaizing Gnostic of the times of the Apostles; and knowing those of Bardesanes and Harmonius, derived his doctrines from Zoroasterism, Christianity, and Gnosticism. He claimed to be the [Paraklźtos] or Comforter, in the Sense of a Teacher, organ of the Deity, but not in that of the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost: and commenced his Epistola Fundamenti in these words: "Manes, Apostle of Jesus Christ, elect of God the Father; Behold the Words of Salvation, emanating from the living and eternal fountain." The dominant idea of his doctrine was Pantheism, derived by him from its source in the regions of India and on the confines of China: that the cause of all that exists is in God; and at last, God is all in all. All souls are equal - God is in all, in men, animals, and plants.
There are two Gods, one of Good and the other of Evil, each independent, eternal, chief of a distinct Empire; necessarily, and of their very natures, hostile to one another. The Evil God, Satan, is the Genius of matter alone. The God of Good is infinitely his Superior, the True God; while the other is but the chief of all that is the Enemy of God, and must in the end succumb to His Power. The Empire of Light alone is eternal and true; and this Empire is a great chain of Emanations, all connected with the Supreme Being which they make manifest; all Him, under different forms, chosen for one end, the triumph of the Good.
In each of His members lie hidden thousands of ineffable treasures. Excellent in His Glory, incomprehensible in His Greatness, the Father has joined to Himself those fortunate, and glorious Eons [ . . Aionźs], whose Power and Number it is impossible to determine. This is Spinoza's Infinity of Infinite Attributes of God. Twelve Chief Eons, at the head of all, were the Genii of the twelve Constellations of the Zodiac, and called by Manes, Olamin. Satan, also, Lord of the Empire of Darkness, had an Army of Eons or Demons, emanating from his Essence, and reflecting more or less his image, but divided and inharmonious among themselves. A war among them brought them to the confines of the Realm of Light. Delighted, they sought to conquer it. But the Chief of the Celestial Empire created a Power which he placed on the frontiers of Heaven to protect his Eons, and destroy the Empire of Evil. This was the Mother of Life, the Soul of the World, an Emanation from the Supreme Being, too pure to come in immediate contact with matter. It remained in the highest region; but produced a Son, the first Man [the Kaiomorts, Adam-Kadmon, [Protos Anthropos,] and Hivil-Zivah; of the Zend-Avesta, the Kabalah, the Gnosis, and Sabeism]; who commenced the contest with the Powers of Evil, but, losing part of his panoply, of his Light, his Son and many souls born of the Light, who were devoured by the darkness, God sent to his assistance the living Spirit, or the Son of the First Man [ . . . Uios Anthropou], or Jesus Christ. The Mother of Life, general Principle of Divine Life, and the first Man, Primitive being that reveals the Divine Life, are too sublime to be connected with the Empire of Darkness.
The Son of Man or Soul of the World, enters into the Darkness, becomes its captive, to end by tempering and softening its savage nature. The Divine Spirit, after having brought back the Primitive Man to the Empire of Light, raises above the world that part of the Celestial Soul that remained unaffected by being mingled with the Empire of Darkness. Placed in the region of the Sun and Moon, this pure soul, the Son of Man, the Redeemer or Christ, labors to deliver and attract to Himself that part of the Light or of the Soul of the First Man diffused through matter; which done, the world will cease to exist. To retain the rays of Light still remaining among his Eons, and ever tending to escape and return, by concentrating them, the Prince of Darkness, with their consent, made Adam, whose soul was of the Divine Light, contributed by the Eons, and his body of matter, so that he belonged to both Empires, that of Light and that of Darkness. To prevent the light from escaping at once, the Demons forbade Adam to eat the fruit of "knowledge of good and evil," by which he would have known the Empire of Light and that of Darkness. He obeyed; an Angel of Light induced him to transgress, and gave him the means of victory; but the Demons created Eve, who seduced him into an act of Sensualism, that enfeebled him, and bound him anew in the bonds of matter. This is repeated in the case of every man that lives.
To deliver the soul, captive in darkness, the Principle of Light, or Genius of the Sun, charged to redeem the Intellectual World, of which he is the type, came to manifest Himself among men. Light appeared in the darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not; according to the words of St. John. The Light could not unite with the darkness. It but put on the appearance of a human body, and took the name of Christ in the Messiah, only to accommodate itself to the language of the Jews. The Light did its work, turning the Jews from the adoration of the Evil Principle, and the Pagans from the worship of Demons. But the Chief of the Empire of Darkness caused Him to be crucified by the Jews. Still He suffered in appearance only, and His death gave to all souls the symbol of their enfranchisement. The person of Jesus having disappeared, there was seen in His place a cross of Light, over which a celestial voice pronounced these words: "The cross of Light is called The Word, Christ, The Gate, Joy, The Bread, The Sun, The Resurrection, Jesus, The Father, The Spirit, Life, Truth, and Grace."
With the Priscillianists there were two principles, one the Divinity, the other, Primitive Matter and Darkness; each eternal. Satan is the son and lord of matter; and the secondary angels and demons, children of matter. Satan created and governs the visible world. But the soul of man emanated from God, and is of the same substance with God. Seduced by the evil spirits, it passes through various bodies, until, purified and reformed, it rises to God and is strengthened by His light. These powers of evil hold mankind in ledge; and to redeem this pledge, the Saviour, Christ the Redeemer, came and died upon the cross of expiation, thus discharging the written obligation. He, like all souls, was of the same substance with God, a manifestation of the Divinity, no forming a second person; unborn, like the Divinity, and nothing else than the Divinity under another form.
It is useless to trace these vagaries further; and we stop at the frontiers of the realm of the three hundred and sixty-five thousand emanations of the Mandaītes from the Primitive Light, Fira or Ferho and Yavar; and return contentedly to the simple and sublime creed of Masonry. Such were some of the ancient notions concerning the Deity and taken in connection with what has been detailed in the preceding Degrees, this Lecture affords you a true picture of the ancient speculations. From the beginning until now, those who have undertaken to solve the great mystery of the creation of a material universe by an Immaterial Deity, have interposed between the two, and between God and man, divers manifestations of, or emanations from, or personified attributes or agents of, the Great Supreme God, who is coexistent with Time and coextensive with Space.
The universal belief of the Orient was, that the Supreme Being did not Himself create either the earth or man. The fragment which commences the Book of Genesis, consisting of the first chapter and the three first verses of the second, assigns the creation or rather the formation or modelling of the world from matter already existing in confusion, not to lHUH, but to the ALHIM, well known as Subordinate Deities, Forces, or Manifestations, among the Phœnicians. The second fragment imputes it to IHUH-ALHIM,* and St. John assigns the creation to the or WORD; and asserts that CHRIST was that WORD, as well as LIGHT and LIFE, other emanations from the Great Primeval Deity, to which other faiths had assigned the work of creation.
An absolute existence, wholly immaterial, in no way within the reach of our senses; a cause, but not an effect that never was not, but existed during an infinity of eternities, before there was anything else except Time and Space, is wholly beyond the reach of our conceptions. The mind of man has wearied itself in speculations as to His nature, His essence, His attributes; and ended in being no wiser than it began. In the impossibility of conceiving of immateriality, we feel at sea and lost whenever we go beyond the domain of matter. And yet we know that there are Power * The Substance, or Very Self, of which the Alohayim are the manifestations. Forces, Causes, that are themselves not matter. We give them names, but what they really are, and what their essence, we are wholly ignorant. But, fortunately, it does not follow that we may not believe, or even know, that which we cannot explain to ourselves, or that which is beyond the reach of our comprehension. If we believed only that which our intellect can grasp, measure, comprehend, and have distinct and clear ideas of, we should believe scarce anything. The senses are not the witnesses that bear testimony to us of the loftiest truths.
Our greatest difficulty is, that language is not adequate to express our ideas; because our words refer to things, and are images of what is substantial and material. If we use the word “emanation," our mind involuntarily recurs to something material, flowing out of some other thing that is material; and if we reject this idea of materiality, nothing is left of the emanation but an unreality. The word "thing" itself suggests to us that which is material and within the cognizance and jurisdiction of the senses. If we cut away from it the idea of materiality, it presents itself to us as no thing, but an intangible unreality, which the mind vainly endeavors to grasp. Existence and Being are terms that have the same color of materiality; and when we speak of a Power or Force, the mind immediately images to itself one physical and material thing acting upon another. Eliminate that idea; and the Power or Force, devoid of physical characteristics, seems as unreal as the shadow that dances on a wall, itself a mere absence of light; as spirit is to us merely that which is not matter.
Infinite space and infinite time are the two primary ideas. We formulize them thus: add body to body and sphere to sphere, until the imagination wearies; and still there will remain beyond, avoid, empty, unoccupied SPACE, limitless, because it is void. Add event to event in continuous succession, forever and forever, and there will still remain, before and after, a TIME in which there was and will be no event, and also endless because it too is void.
Thus these two ideas of the boundlessness of space and the endlessness of time seem to involve the ideas that matter and events are limited and finite. We cannot conceive of an infinity of worlds or of events; but only of an indefinite number of each; for. as we struggle to conceive of their infinity, the thought ever occurs in despite of all our efforts - there must be space in which there are no worlds; there must have been time when there were no events. We cannot conceive how, if this earth moves millions of millions of miles a million times repeated, it is still in the centre of space; nor how, if we lived millions of millions of ages and centuries, we should still be in the centre of eternity - with still as much space on one side as on the other; with still as much time before us as behind; for that seems to say that the world has not moved nor we lived at all. Nor can we comprehend how an infinite series of worlds, added together, is no larger than an infinite series of atoms; or an infinite series of centuries no longer than an infinite series of seconds; both being alike infinite, and therefore one series containing no more nor fewer units than the other. Nor have we the capacity to form in ourselves any idea of that which is immaterial. We use the word, but it conveys to us on1v the idea of the absence and negation of materiality; which vanishing, Space and Time alone, infinite and boundless, seem to us to be left. We cannot form any conception of an effect without a cause. We cannot but believe, indeed we know, that, how far soever we may have to run back along the chain of effects and causes, it cannot be infinite; but we must come at last to something which is not an effect, but the first cause: and vet the fact is literaltv beyond our comprehension. The mind refuses to grasp the idea of self-existence, of existence without a beginning. As well expect the hair that grows upon our head to understand the nature and immortality of the soul.
It does not need to go so far in search of mysteries; nor have we any right to disbelieve or doubt the existence of a Great First Cause, itself no effect, because we cannot comprehend it; because the words we use do not even express it to us adequately.
We rub a needle for a little while, on a dark, inert mass of iron ore, that had lain idle in the earth for many centuries. Something is thereby communicated to the steel - we term it a virtue, a power, or a quality - and then we balance it upon a pivot; and, lo! drawn by some invisible, mysterious Power, one pole of the needle turns to the North, and there the same Power keeps the same pole for days and years; will keep it there, perhaps, as long as the world lasts, carry the needle where you will, and no matter what seas or mountains intervene between it and the North Pole of the world. And this Power, thus acting, and indicating to the mariner his course over the trackless ocean, when the stars shine not for many days, saves vessels from shipwreck, families from distress, and those from sudden death on whose lives the fate of nations and the peace of the world depend. But for it, Napoleon might never have reached the ports of France on his return from Egypt, nor Nelson lived to fight and win at Trafalgar. Men call this Power Magnetism, and then complacently think that they have explained it all; and yet they have but given a new name to an unknown thing, to hide their ignorance. What is this wonderful Power? It is a real, actual, active Power: that we know and see. But what its essence is, or how it acts, we do not know, any more than we know the essence or the mode of action of the Creative Thought and Word of God.
And again, what is that which we term galvanism and electricity, - which, evolved by the action of a little acid on two metals, aided by a magnet, circles the earth in a second, sending from land to land the Thoughts that govern the transactions of individuals and nations? The mind has formed no notion of matter, that will include it; and no name that we can give it, helps us to understand its essence and its being. It is a Power, like Thought and the Will. We know no more. What is this power of gravitation that makes everything upon the earth tend to the centre? How does it reach out its invisible hands toward the erratic meteor-stones, arrest them in their swift course, and draw them down to the earth's bosom? It is a power. We know no more. What is that heat which plays so wonderful a part in the world's economy? - that caloric, latent everywhere, within us and without us, produced by combustion, by intense pressure, and by swift motion? Is it substance, matter, spirit, or immaterial, a mere Force or State of Matter? And what is light? A substance, say the books, - matter, that travels to us from the sun and stars, each ray separable into seven, by the prism, of distinct colors, and with distinct peculiar qualities and actions. And if a substance, what is its essence, and what power is inherent in it, by which it journeys incalculable myriads of miles, and reaches us ten thousand years or more after it leaves the stars? All power is equally a mystery. Apply intense cold to a drop of water in the centre of a globe of iron, and the globe is shattered as the water freezes. Confine a little of the same limpid element in a cylinder which Enceladus or Typhon could not have risen asunder, and apply to it intense heat, and the vast power that couched latent in the water shivers the cylinder to atoms. A little shoot from a minute seed, a shoot so soft and tender that the least bruise would kill it, forces its way downward into the hard, earth, to the depth of many feet, with an energy wholly incomprehensible. What are these mighty forces, locked up in the small seed and the drop of water? Nay, what is LIFE itself, with all its wondrous, mighty energies, - that power which maintains the heat within us, and prevents our bodies, that decay so soon without it, from resolution into their original elements - Life, that constant miracle, the nature and essence whereof have eluded all the philosophers; and all their learned dissertations on it are a mere jargon of words?
No wonder the ancient Persians thought that Light and Life were one, - both emanations from the Supreme Deity, the archetype of light. No wonder that in their ignorance they worshipped the Sun. God breathed into man the spirit of life, - not matter, but an emanation from Himself; not a creature made by Him, nor a distinct existence, but a Power, like His own Thought: and light, to those great-souled ancients, also seemed no creature, and no gross material substance, but a pure emanation from the Deity, immortal and indestructible like Himself. What, indeed, is REALITY? Our dreams are as real, while they last, as the occurrences of the daytime. We see, hear, feel, act, experience pleasure and suffer pain, as vividly and actually in a dream as when awake. The occurrences and transactions of a year are crowded into the limits of a second: and the dream remembered is as real as the past occurrences of life.
The philosophers tell us that we have no cognizance of substance itself, but only of its attributes: that when we see that which we call a block of marble, our perceptions give us information only of something extended, solid, colored, heavy, and the like; but not of the very thing itself, to which these attributes belong. And yet the attributes do not exist without the substance. They are not substances, but adjectives. There is no such thing or existence as hardness, weight or color, by itself, detached from any subject, moving first here, then there, and attaching itself to this and to the other subject. And yet, they say, the attributes are not the subject. So Thought, Volition, and Perception are not the soul, but its attributes; and we have no cognizance of the soul itself, but only of them, its manifestations. Nor of God; but only of His Wisdom, Power, Magnificence, Truth, and other attributes.
And yet we know that there is matter, a soul within our body, a God that lives in the Universe.
Take, then, the attributes of the soul. I am conscious that I exist and am the same identical person that I was twenty years ago. I am conscious that my body is not I, - that if my arms were lopped away, this person that I call ME, would still remain, complete, entire, identical as before. But I cannot ascertain, by the most intense and long-continued reflection, what I am, nor where within my body I reside, nor whether I am a point, or an expanded substance. I have no power to examine and inspect. I exist, will, think, perceive. That I know, and nothing more. I think a noble and sublime Thought. What is that Thought? It is not Matter, nor Spirit. It is not a Thing; but a Power and Force. I make upon a paper certain conventional marks, that represent that Thought. There is no Power or Virtue in the marks I write, but only in the Thought which they tell to others. I die, but the Thought still lives. It is a Power. It acts on men, excites them to enthusiasm, inspires patriotism, governs their conduct, controls their destinies, disposes of life and death. The words I speak are but a certain succession of particular sounds, that by conventional arrangement communicate to others the Immaterial, Intangible, Eternal Thought. The fact that Thought continues to exist an instant, after it makes its appearance in the soul, proves it immortal: for there is nothing conceivable that can destroy it. The spoken words, being mere sounds, may vanish into thin air, and the written ones, mere marks, be burned, erased, destroyed: but the THOUGHT itself lives still, and must live on forever.
A Human Thought, then, is an actual EXISTENCE, and a FORCE and POWER, capable of acting upon and controlling matter as well as mind. Is not the existence of a God, who is the immaterial soul of the Universe, and whose THOUGHT, embodied or not embodied in His WORD, is an Infinite Power, of Creation and pro- duction, destruction and preservation, quite as comprehensible as the existence of a Soul, of a Thought separated from the Soul, of the Power of that Thought to mould the fate and influence the Destinies of Humanity?
And yet we know not when that Thought comes, nor what it is. It is not WE. We do not mould it, shape it, fashion it. It is neither our mechanism nor our invention. It appears spontaneously, flashing, as it were, into the soul, making that soul the involuntary instrument of its utterance to the world. It comes to us, and seems a stranger to us, seeking a home. As little can we explain the mighty power of the human WILL, Volition, like Thought, seems spontaneous, an effect without a cause. Circumstances provoke it, and serve as its occasion, but do not produce it. It springs up in the soul, like Thought, as the waters gush upward in a spring. Is it the manifestation of the soul, merely making apparent what passes within the soul, or an emanation from it, going abroad and acting outwardly, itself a real Existence, as it is an admitted Power? We can but own our ignorance. It is certain that it acts on other souls, controls, directs them, shapes their action, legislates for men and nations: and yet it is not material nor visible; and the laws it writes merely n one soul of what has passed within another.
God, therefore, is a mystery, only as everything that surrounds us, and as we ourselves, are mysteries. We know that there is and must be a FIRST CAUSE. His attributes, severed from Himself, are unrealities. As color and extension, weight and hardness, do not exist apart from matter as separate existences and substantives, spiritual or immaterial; so the Goodness, Wisdom, justice, Mercy, and Benevolence of God are not independent existences, personify them as men may, but attributes of the Deity, the adjectives of One Great Substantive. But we know that He must be Good, True, Wise, Just, Benevolent, Merciful: and in all these, and all His other attributes, Perfect and Infinite; because we are conscious that these are laws imposed on us by the very nature of things, necessary, and without which the Universe would be confusion and the existence of a God incredible. They are of His essence, and necessary, as His existence is.
. . Estos], of Simon Magus, the He is the Living, Thinking, Intelligent SOUL of the Universe, the PERMANENT, the STATIONARY[ ONE that always is [To To ON] of Plato, as contradistinguished from the perpetual flux and reflux, or Genesis, of things. And, as the Thought of the Soul, emanating from the Soul, becomes audible and visible in Words, so did THE THOUGHT OF GOD, springing up within Himself, immortal as Himself, when once conceived, - immortal before, because in Himself, utter Itself in THE WORD, its manifestation and mode of communication, and thus create the Material, Mental, Spiritual Universe, which, like Him, never began to exist.
This is the real idea of the Ancient Nations: GOD, the Almighty Father, and Source of All; His THOUGHT, conceiving the whole Universe, and willing its creation: His WORD, uttering that THOUGHT, and thus becoming the Creator or Demiourgos, in the whom was Life and Light, and that Light the Life of the Universe. Nor did that Word cease at the single act of Creation; and having set going the great machine, and enacted the laws of its motion and progression, of birth and life, and change and death, cease to exist, or remain thereafter in inert idleness. FOR THE THOUGHT OF GOD LIVES AND IS IMMORTAL. Embodied in the WORD, is not only created, but it preserves. It conducts and controls the Universe, all spheres, all worlds, all actions of mankind, and of every animate and inanimate creature. It speaks in the soul of every man who lives. The Stars, the Earth, the Trees, the Winds, the universal voice of Nature, tempest, and avalanche, the Sea's roar and the grave voice of the waterfall, the hoarse thunder and the low whisper of the brook, the song of birds, the voice of love, the speech of men, all are the alphabet in which it communicates itself to men, and informs them of the will and law of God, the Soul of the Universe. And thus most truly did "THE WORD BECOME PLESH AND DWELL AMONG MEN." God, the unknown FATHER [ …Pater Agnõstos], known to us only by His Attributes; the ABSOLUTE I AM:.. The THOUGHT of God [ . Ennoia], and the WORD [ .... Logos], Manifestation and expression of the Thought; . . . . Behold THE TRUE MASONIC TRINITY; the UNIVERSAL SOUL, the THOUGHT in the Soul, the WORD, or Thought expressed; the THREE TN ONE, of a Trinitarian Ecossais. Here Masonry pauses, and leaves its Initiates to carry out and develop these great Truths in such manner as to each may seem most accordant with reason, philosophy, truth, and his religious faith. It declines to act as Arbiter between them. It looks calmly on, while each multiplies the intermediates between the Deity and Matter, and the personifications of God's manifestations and attributes, to whatever extent his reason, his conviction, or his fancy dictates. While the Indian tells us that PARABRAHMA, BRAHM, and PARATMA were the first Triune God, revealing Himself as BRAHMA, VISHNU, and SIVA, Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer; ....
The Egyptian, of AMUN-RE, NEITH, and PHTHA, Creator, Matter, Thought or Light; the Persian of his Trinity of Three Powers in ORMUZD, Sources of Light, Fire, and Water; the Buddhists of the God SAKYA, a Trinity composed of BUDDHA, DHARM and SANGA, - Intelligence, Law, and Union or Harmony; the Chinese Sabeans of their Trinity of Chang-ti, the Supreme Sovereign; Tien, the Heavens; and Tao, the Universal Supreme Reason and Principle of all things; who produced the Unit; that, two; two, three; and three, all that is; ....
While the Sclavono-Vend typifies his Trinity by the three heads of the God Triglav; the Ancient Prussian points to his Triune God, Perkoun, Pikollos, and Potrimpos, Deities of Light and Thunder, of Hell and of the Earth; the Ancient Scandinavian to Odin, Frea, and Thor; and the old Etruscans to TINA, TALNA, and MINIMVA, Strength, Abundance, and Wisdom; ....
While Plato tells us of the Supreme Good, the Reason or Intellect, and the ], and the Soul or Spirit; and Philo of the Archetype of Light, Wisdom [ os the Kabalists, of the Triads of the Sephiroth; . Word [ While the disciples of Simon Magus, and the many sects of the Gnostics, confuse us with their Eons, Emanations, Powers, Wisdom Superior and Inferior, Ialdabaoth, Adam-Kadmon, even to the three hundred and sixtyfive thousand emanations of the Maldaites; ....
And while the pious Christian believes that the WORD dwelt in the Mortal Body of Jesus of Nazareth, and suffered upon the Cross; and that the HOLY GHOST was poured out upon the Apostles, and now inspires every truly Christian Soul: . . . . While all these faiths assert their claims to the exclusive possession of the Truth, Masonry inculcates its old doctrine, and no more: ....
That God is ONE; that His THOUGHT uttered in His WORD, created the Universe, and preserves it by those Eternal Laws which are the expression of that Thought: that the Soul of Man, breathed into him by God, is immortal as His Thoughts are; that he is free to do evil or to choose good, responsible for his acts and punishable for his sins: that all evil and wrong and suffering are but temporary, the discords of one great Harmony, and that in His good time they will lead by infinite modulations to the great, harmonic final chord and cadence of Truth, Love, Peace, and Happiness, that will ring forever and ever under the Arches of Heaven, among all the Stars and Worlds, and in all souls of men and Angels. ( end Part 3 of 3 )