XXVIII. KNIGHT OF THE SUN OR PRINCE ADEPT.
XXVIII. KNIGHT OF THE SUN OR PRINCE ADEPT.Part 1
XXVIII. KNIGHT OF THE SUN OR PRINCE ADEPT.(Part 2)
28º - Knight of the Sun or Prince Adept ( Part 3 )
28º - Knight of the Sun or Prince Adept ( Part 4 )
28º - Knight of the Sun or Prince Adept ( Part 5 end chapter 28 )
GOD is the author of everything that existeth; the Eternal, the Supreme,
the Living, and Awful Being; from Whom nothing in he Universe is hidden.
Make of Him no idols and visible images; but rather worship Him in the deep
solitudes of sequestered forests; for He is invisible, and fills the
Universe as its soul, and liveth not in any Temple !
Light and Darkness are the World's Eternal ways. God is the principle of
everything that exists, and the Father of all Beings. He is eternal,
immovable, and Self-Existent. There are no bounds to His power. At one
glance He sees the Past, the Present, and the Future; and the procession of
the builders of the Pyramids, with us and our remotest Descendants, is now
passing before Him. He reads our thoughts before they are known to
ourselves. He rules the movements of the Universe, and all events and
revolutions are the creatures of His will. For He is the Infinite Mind and
In the beginning Man had the WORD, and that WORD was from God: and out of
the living power which, in and by that WORD, as communicated to man, came
the LIGHT of his existence. Let no man speak the WORD, for by it THE FATHER
made light and darkness, the world and living creatures!
The Chaldean upon his plains worshipped me, and the sea-loving Phoenician.
They builded me temples and towers, and burned sacrifices to me upon a
thousand altars. Light was divine to them, and they thought me a God. But I
am nothing--nothing and LIGHT is the creature of the unseen GOD that taught
the true religion to the Ancient Patriarchs: AWFUL, MYSTERIOUS, THE ABSOLUTE.
Man was created pure; and God gave him TRUTH, as He gave him LIGHT. He has
lost the truth and found error. He wandered far into darkness; and round
him Sin and Shame hover evermore. The Soul that is impure, and sinful, and
defiled with earthly stains, cannot again unite with God, until, by long
trials and many purifications, it is finally delivered from the old
clamity; and Light overcomes Darkness and dethrones it, in the Soul.
God is the First; indestructible, eternal, UNCREATED, INVISIBLE. Wisdom,
Justice, Truth, and Mercy, with Harmony and a Love, are of His essence, and
Eternity and Infinite of Extension. He is silent, and consents with MIND,
and is known to Souls through MIND alone. In Him were all things originally
contained, and from Him all things were evolved. For out of His Divine
SILENCE and REST, after an infinitude of time, was unfolded the WORD, or
the Divine Power and then in turn the Mighty, ever-acting, measureless
INTELLECT; and from the WORD were evolved the myriads of suns and systems
that make the Universe; and fire, and light, and the electric HARMONY,
which is the harmony of spheres and numbers: and from the INTELLECT all
Souls and intellects of men.
In the beginning, the Universe was but ONE SOUL. HE was THE ALL, alone with
TIME and SPACE, and Infinite as they.
--- HE HAD THIS THOUGHT: "I Create Worlds:" and lo! the Universe, and the
laws of harmony and motion that rule it, the expression of a thought of
God; and bird and beast, and every living thing but Man: and light and air,
and the mysterious currents, and the dominion of mysterious numbers !
--- HE HAD THIS THOUGHT: "I Create Man, whose Soul shall be my image, and
he shall rule." And lo ! Man, with senses, instinct, and a reasoning mind !
--- And yet not MAN ! but an animal that breathed, and saw, and thought:
until an immaterial spark from God's own Infinite Being penetrated the
brain, and became the Soul: and lo, MAN THE IMMORTAL! Thus, threefold,
fruit of God's thought, is Man; that sees and hears and feels; that thinks
and reasons; that loves and is in harmony with the Universe.
Before the world grew old, the primitive truth faded out from men's Souls.
Then man asked himself, "What am 1? and how and whence am I? and whither do
I go?" And the Soul, looking inward upon itself, strove to learn whether
that "I" were mere matter; its thought and reason and its passions and
affections mere results of material combination; or a material Being
enveloping an immaterial Spirit: . . and further it strove, by
self-examination, to learn whether that Spirit were an individual essence,
with a separate immortal existence, or an infinitesimal portion of a Great
First Principle, inter-penetrating the Universe and the infinitude of
space, and undulating like light and heat: . . and so they wandered further
amid the mazes of error; and imagined vain philosophies; wallowing in the
sloughs of materialism and sensualism, of beating their wings vainly in the
vacuum of abstractions and idealities.
While yet the first oaks still put forth their ]eaves, man lost the perfect
knowledge of the One True God, the Ancient Absolute Existence, the Infinite
Mind and Supreme Intelligence; and floated helplessly out upon the
shoreless ocean of conjecture. Then the soul vexed itself with seeking to
learn whether the material universe was a mere chance combination of atoms,
or the work of Infinite, Uncreated Wisdom: . . whether the Deity was a
concentrated, and the Universe an extended immateriality; or whether He was
a personal existence, an Omnipotent, Eternal, Supreme Essence, regulating
matter at will; or subjecting it to unchangeable laws throughout eternity;
and to Whom, Himself Infinite and Eternal, Space and Time are unknown. With
their finite limited vision they sought to learn the source and explain the
existence of Evil, and Pain, and Sorrow; and so they wandered ever deeper
into the darkness, and were lost; and there was for them no longer any God;
but only a great, dumb, soulless Universe, full of mere emblems and symbols.
You have heretofore, in some of the Degrees through which you have passed,
heard much of the ancient worship of the Sun, the Moon, and the other
bright luminaries of Heaven, and of the Elements and Powers of Universal
Nature. You have been made, to some extent, familiar with their
personifications as Heroes suffering or triumphant, or as personal Gods or
Goddesses, with human. characteristics and passions, and with the multitude
of legends, and fables that do but allegorically represent their risings
and settings, their courses, their conjunctions and oppositions, their
domiciles and places of exaltation.
Perhaps you have supposed that we, like many who have written on these
subjects, have intended to represent this worship to you as the most
ancient and original worship of the first men that lived. To undeceive you,
if such was your conclusion, we have caused the Personifications of the
Great Luminary of Heaven, under the names by which he was known to the most
ancient nations, to proclaim the old primitive truths that were known to
the Fathers of our race, before men came to worship the visible
manifestations of the Supreme Power and Magnificence and Supposed
Attributes of the Universal Deity in the Elements and in the glittering
armies that Night regularly marshals and arrays upon the blue field of the
We ask now your attention to a still further development to these truths,
after we shall have added something to what we have already said in regard
to the Chief Luminary of Heaven, in explanation of the names and
characteristics of the several imaginary Deities that represented him among
the ancient races men.
ATHOM or ATHOM-RE, was the Chief and Oldest Supreme God of Upper Egypt,
worshipped at Thebes; the same as the OM or AUM of the Hindus, whose name
was unpronounceable, and who like the BREHM of the latter People, was "The
Being that was and is, and is to come; the Great God, the Great Omnipotent,
Omniscient, and Omnipresent One, the Greatest in the Universe, the Lord;"
whose emblem was a perfect sphere, showing that He was first, last, midst,
and without end; superior to all Natural Gods, and all personifications of
Powers, Elements, and Luminaries; symbolized by Light, the Principle of Life.
AMUN was the Nature-God, or Spirit of Nature, called by that name or
AMUN-RE, and worshipped at Memphis in Lower Egypt and in Libya, as well as
in Upper Egypt. He was the Libyan Jupiter, and represented the intelligent
and organizing force that develops itself in Nature, when the intellectual
types or forms of bodies are revealed to the senses in the world's order,
by their union with matter, whereby the generation of bodies is effected.
He was the same with Knephl, from whose mouth issued the Orphic egg out of
which came the Universe.
DIONUSOS was the Nature-God of the Greeks, as AMUN was of the Egyptians. In
the popular legend, Dionusos, as well as Hercules, was a Theban Hero, born
of a mortal mother. Both were sons of Zeus, both persecuted by Here. But in
Hercules the God is subordinate to the Hero; while Dionusos, even in
poetry, retains his divine character, and is identical with Iacchus, the
presiding genius of the Mysteries. Personification of the Sun in Taurus, as
his ox-hoofs showed, he delivered earth from the harsh dominion of winter,
conducted the mighty chorus of the Stars, and the celestial revolution of
the year, changed with the seasons, and underwent their periodical decay.
He was the Sun as invoked by the Eleans, ushered into the world amidst
lightning and thunder, the Mighty Hunter of the Zodiac, Zagreus the Golden
or ruddy-faced. The Mysteries taught the doctrine of Divine Unity; and that
Power whose Oneness is a seeming mystery, but really a truism, was
Dionusos, the God of Nature, or of that moisture, which is the life of
Nature, who prepares in darkness, in Hades or Iasion, the return of life
and vegetation, or is himself the light and change evolving their
varieties. In the Egean Islands he was Butes, Dardanus, Himeros or Imbros;
in Crete he appears as or even Zeus, whose orgiastic worship, remaining
unveiled by the usual forms of mystery, betrayed to profane curiosity the
symbols which, if irreverently contemplated, were sure to be misunderstood.
He was the same with the dismembered Zagreus, the son of Persephone, an
Ancient Subterranean Dionusos, the horned progeny of Zeus in the
Constellation of the Serpent, entrusted by his father with the thunderbolt,
and encircled with the protecting dance of Curetes. Through the envious
artifices of Here, the Titans eluded the vigilance of his guardians and
tore him to pieces; but Pallas restored the still palpitating heart to his
father, who commanded Apollo to bury the dismembered remains upon Parnassus.
Dionusos, as well as Apollo, was leader of the Muses; the tomb of one
accompanied the worship of the other; they were the same, yet different,
contrasted, yet only as filling separate parts in the same drama; and the
mystic and heroic personifications, the God of nature and of Art, seem, at
some remote period, to have proceeded from a common source. Their
separation was one of form rather than of substance: and from the time when
Hercules obtained initiation from Triptolemus, or Pythagoras received
Orphic tenets, the two conceptions were tending to re-combine. It was said
that Dionusos or Poseidon had preceded Apollo in the Oracular office; and
Dionusos continued to be esteemed in Greek Theology as Healer and Saviour,
Author of Life and Immortality. The dispersed Pythagoreans, "Sons of
Apollo," immediately betook themselves to the Orphic Service of Dionusos,
and there are indications that there was always something Dionysiac in the
worship of Apollo.
Dionusos is the Sun, that liberator of the elements; and his spiritual
meditation was suggested by the same imagery which made the Zodiac the
supposed path of the Spirits in their descent and their return. His second
birth, as offspring of the highest, is a type of the spiritual regeneration
of man. He, as well as Apollo was precentor of the Muses and source of
inspiration. His rule prescribed no unnatural mortification: its yoke was
easy, and its mirthful choruses, combining the gay with the severe, did but
commemorate that golden age when earth enjoyed eternal spring, and when
fountains of honey, milk, and wine burst forth out of its bosom at the
touch of the thyrsus. He is the "Liberator." Like Osiris, he frees the
soul, and guides it in its migrations beyond the grave, preserving it from
the risk of again falling under the slavery of matter or of some inferior
animal form. All soul part of the Universal Soul, whose totality is
Dionusos; and he leads back the vagrant spirit to its home, and accompanies
it through the purifying processes, both real and symbolical of earthly
transit. He died and descended to the Shades; and his suffering was the
great secret of the Mysteries, as death is grand mystery of existence. He
is the immortal suitor of Psyche (the Soul), the Divine influence which
physically called the world into being, and which, awakening the soul from
its Stygian trance, restores it from earth to Heaven.
Of HERMES, the Mercury of the Greeks, the Thoth of Egyptians, and the Taaut
of the Phoenicians, we have heretofore spoken sufficiently at length. He
was the inventor of letters and of Oratory, the winged messenger of the
Gods, bearing the Caduceus wreathed with serpents; and in our Council he is
represented by the ORATOR.
The Hindus called the Sun SURYA; the Persians, MITHRAS; the Egyptians,
OSIRIS; the Assyrians and Chaldaeans, BEL; the Scythians and Etruscans and
the ancient Pelasgi, ARKALEUS or HERCULES; the Phoenicians, ADONAI or ADON;
and the Scandinavians, ODIN.
From the name SURYA, given by the Hindus to the Sun, the Sect who paid him
particular adoration were called Souras. Their painters describe his car as
drawn by seven green horses. In the Temple of Visweswara, at Benares, there
is an ancient piece of sculpture, well executed in stone, representing him
sitting in a car drawn by a horse with twelve heads. His charioteer, by
whom he is preceded, is ARUN [from AUR the Crepusculum?], or the Dawn; and
among his many titles are twelve that denote his distinct powers in each of
the twelve months. Those powers are called Adityas, each of whom has a
particular name. Surya is supposed frequently to have descended upon earth,
in a human shape, and to have left a race on earth, equally renowned in
Indian story with the Heliades of Greece. He is often styled King of the
Stars and Planets, and thus reminds us of the Adon-Tsbauth (Lord of the
Starry Hosts) of the Hebrew writings.
MITHRAS was the Sun-God of the Persians; and was fabled to have been born
in a grotto or cave, at the Winter Solstice. His feasts were celebrated at
that period, at the moment when the sun commenced to return Northward, and
to increase the length of the days. This was the great Feast of the Magian
religion. The Roman Calendar, published in the time of Constantine, at
which period his worship began to gain ground in the Occident, fixed his
feast-day on the 25th of December. His statues and images were inscribed,
Deo-Soli invicto Mithrae--to the invincible Sun-God Mithras. Nomen invictum
Sol Mithra. . Soli Omnipotenti Mithrae. To him, gold, incense, and myrrh
were consecrated. "Thee," says Martianus Capella, in his hymn to the Sun,
"the dwellers on the Nile adore as Serapis, and Memphis worships as Osiris;
in the sacred rites of Persia thou art Mithras, in Phrygia, Atys, and Libya
bows down to thee as Ammon, and Phoenician Byblos as Adonis; and thus the
whole world adores thee under different names."
OSIRIS was the son of Helios (Phra), the "divine offspring congenerate with
the dawn," and at the same time an incarnation of Kneph or Agathodaemon,
the Good Spirit, including all his possible manifestations, either physical
or moral. He represented in a familiar form the beneficent aspect of all
higher emanations and in him was developed the conception of a Being purely
good, so that it became necessary to set up another power as his adversary
called Seth, Babys or Typhon, to account for the injurious influences of
With the phenomena of agriculture, supposed to be the invention of Osiris,
the Egyptians connected the highest truths of the religion. The soul of man
was as the seed hidden in the ground and the mortal framework, similarly
consigned to its dark resting place, awaited its restoration to life's
unfailing source. Osiris was not only benefactor of the living; he was also
Hades, Serapis, and Rhadamanthus, the monarch of the dead. Death,
therefore, in Egyptian opinion, was only another name for renovation, since
its God is the same power who incessantly renews vitality in Nature. Every
corpse duly embalmed was called "Osiris," and in the grave was supposed to
be united, or at least brought into approximation to the Divinity. For when
God became incarnate for man's benefit, it was implied that, in analogy
with His assumed character He should submit to all the conditions of
visible existence. In death, as in life, Isis and Osiris were patterns and
precursors of mankind; their sepulchres stood within the temples of the
Superior Gods; yet though their remains might be entombed at Memphis or
Abydus, their divinity was unimpeached, and they either shone as luminaries
in the heavens, or in the unseen world presided over the futurity of the
disembodied spirits whom death had brought nearer to them.
The notion of a dying God, so frequent in Oriental legend, and of which we
have already said much in former Degrees, was the natural inference from a
literal interpretation of nature-worship; since nature, which in the
vicissitudes of the seasons seems to undergo a dissolution, was to the
earliest religionists the express image of the Deity, and at a remote
period one and the same with the "varied God," whose attributes were seen
not only in its vitality, but in its changes. The unseen Mover of the
Universe was rashly identified with its obvious fluctuations. The
speculative Deity suggested by the drama of nature, was worshipped with
imitative and sympathetic rites. A period of mourning about the Autumnal
Equinox, and of joy at the return of Spring, was almost universal.
Phrygians and Paphlagonians, Boeotians, and even Athenians, were all more
or less attached to such observances; the Syrian damsels sat weeping for
Thammuz or Adoni, mortally wounded by the tooth of Winter, symbolized by
the boar, its very general emblem: and these rites, and those of Atys and
Osiris, were evidently suggested by the arrest of vegetation, when the Sun,
descending from his altitude, seems deprived of his generating power.
Osiris is a being analogous to the Syrian ADONI; and the fable of his
history, which we need not here repeat, is a narrative form of the popular
religion of Egypt, of which the Sun is the Hero, and the agricultural
calendar the moral. The moist valley of the Nile, owing its fertility to
the annual inundation, appeared, in contrast with the surrounding desert,
like life in the midst of death. The inundation was in evident dependence
on the Sun, and Egypt, environed with arid deserts, like a heart within a
burning censer, was the female power, dependent on the influences
personified in its God. Typhon his brother, the type of darkness, drought,
and sterility, threw his body into the Nile; and thus Osiris, the "good,"
the "Saviour," perished, in the 28th year of his life or reign, and on the
17th day of the month Athor, or the 13th of November. He is also made to
die during the heats of the early Summer, when, from March to July, the
earth was parched with intolerable heat, vegetation was scorched, and the
languid Nile exhausted. From that death he rises when the Solstitial Sun
brings the inundation, and Egypt is filled with mirth and acclamation
anticipatory of the second harvest. From his Wintry death he rises with the
early flowers of Spring, and then the joyful festival of Osiris found was
So the pride of Jemsheed, one of the Persian Sun-heroes, or the solar year
personified, was abruptly cut off by Zohak, the tyrant of the West. He was
sawn asunder by a fish-bone, and immediately the brightness of Iran changed
to gloom. Ganymede and Adonis, like Osiris, were hurried off in all their
strength and beauty; the premature death of Linus, the burthen of the
ancient lament of Greece, was like that of the Persian Siamek, the
Bithynian Hylas, and the Egyptian Maneros, Son of Menes or the Eternal. The
elegy called Maneros was sung at Egyptian banquets, and an effigy enclosed
within a diminutive Sarcophagus was handed round to remind the guests of
their brief tenure of existence. The beautiful Memnon, also, perished in
his prime; and Enoch, whose early death was lamented at Iconium, lived 365
years, the number of days of the solar year; a brief space when compared
with the longevity of his patriarchal kindred.
The story of Osiris is reflected in those of Orpheus and Dionusos Zagreus,
and perhaps in the legends of Absyrtus and Pelias of AEson, Thyestes,
Melicertes, Itys, and Pelops. Io is the disconsolate Isis or Niobe: and
Rhea mourns her dismembered Lord, Hyperion, and the death of her son
Helios, drowned in the Eridanus; and if Apollo and Dionusos are immortal,
they had died under other names, as Orpheus, Linus, or Hyacinthus. The
sepulchre of Zeus was shown in Crete. Hippolytus was associated in divine
honours with Apollo, and after he had been torn to piece like Osiris, was
restored to life by the Paeonian herbs of Diana, and kept darkling in the
secret grove of Egeria. Zeus deserted Olympus to visit the Ethiopians;
Apollo underwent servitude to Admetus; Theseus, Peirithous, Hercules, and
other heroes, descended for a time to Hades; a dying Nature-God was
exhibited in the Mysteries, the Attic women fasted, sitting on the ground,
during the Thesmophoria, and the Boeotians lamented the descent of
Cora-Proserpine to the Shades.
But the death of the Deity, as understood by the Orientals, was not
inconsistent with His immortality. The temporary decline of the Sons of
Light is but an episode in their endless continuity and as the day and year
are more convenient subdivisions of the Infinite, so the fiery deaths of
Phaethon or Hercules are but breaks in the same Phoenix process of
perpetual regeneration, by which the spirit of Osiris lives forever in the
succession of the Memphia Apis. Every year witnesses the revival of Adonis;
and the amber tears shed by the Heliades for the premature death of their
brother, are the golden shower full of prolific hope, in which Zeus
descends from the brazen vault of Heaven into the bosom of the parched ground.
BAL, representative or personification of the sun, was one of the Great
Gods of Syria, Assyria, and Chaldea, and his name is found upon the
monuments of Nimroud, and frequently occurs in the Hebrew writings. He was
the Great Nature-God of Babylonia, the Power of heat, life, and generation.
His symbol was the Sun, and he was figured seated on a bull. All the
accessories of his great temple at Babylon, described by Herodotus, are
repeated with singular fidelity, but on a smaller scale, in the Hebrew
tabernacle and temple. The golden statue alone is wanted to complete the
resemblance. The word Bal or Baal, like the word Adon, signifies Lord and
Master. He was also the Supreme Deity of the Moabites, Amonites, and
Carthaginians, and of the Sabeans in general; the Gauls worshipped the Sun
under the name of Belin or Belinus: and Bela is found among the Celtic
Deities upon the ancient monuments.
The Northern ancestors of the Greeks maintained with hardier habits a more
manly style of religious symbolism than the effeminate enthusiasts of the
South, and had embodied in their Perseus, HERCULES and MITHRAS, the
consummation of the qualities they esteemed and exercised.
Almost every nation will be found to have had a mythical being, whose
strength or weakness, virtues or defects, more or less nearly describe the
Sun's career through the seasons. There was a Celtic, a Teutonic, a
Scythian, an Etruscan, a Lydian Hercules, all whose legends became
tributary to those of the Greek hero. The name of Hercules was found by
Herodotus to have been long familiar in Egypt and the East, and to have
originally belonged to a much higher personage than the comparatively
modern hero known in Greece as the Son of Alcmena. The temple of the
Hercules of Tye was reported to have been built 2300 years before the time
of Herodotus; and Hercules, whose Greek name has been sometimes supposed to
be of Phoenician origin, in the sense of Circuitor i.e. "rover" and
"perambulator" of earth, as well as "Hyperion of the sky, was the patron
and model of those famous navigators who spread his altars from coast to
coast through the Mediterranean, to the extremities of the West, where
"ARKALEUS" built the City of Gades, and where a perpetual fire burned in
his service. He was the lineal descendant of Perseus, the luminous child of
darkness, conceived within a subterranean vault of brass; and he a
representation of the Persian Mithras, rearing his emblematic lions above
the gates of Mycenae, and bringing the sword of Jemsheed to battle against
the Gorgons of the West. Mithras is similarly described in the Zend-Avesta
as the "mighty hero, the rapid runner, whose piercing eye embraces all,
whose arm bears the club for the destruction of the Darood."
Hercules Ingeniculus, who, bending on one knee, uplifts his club and
tramples on the Serpent's head, was, like Prometheus and Tantalus, one of
the varying aspects of the struggling and declining Sun. The victories of
Hercules are but exhibitions of Solar power which have ever to be repeated.
It was in the fial North, among the Hyperboreans, that, divested of his
Lion's skin, he lay down to sleep, and for a time lost the horses of his
chariot. Henceforth that Northern region of gloom, called the "place of the
death and revival of Adonis," that Caucasus whose summit was so lofty,
that, like the Indian Meru, it seemed to be both the goal and commencement
of the Sun's career, became to Greek imaginations the final bourne of all
things, the abode of Winter and desolation, the pinnacle of the arch
connecting the upper and lower world, and consequently the appropriate
place for the banishment of Prometheus. The daughters of Israel, weeping
for Thammuz, mentioned by Ezekiel, sat looking to the North, waiting for
his return from that region. It was while Cybele with the Sun-God was
absent among the Hyperboreans, that Phrygia, abandoned by her, suffered the
horrors of famine. Delos and Delphi awaited the return of Apollo from the
Hyperboreans, and Hercules brought thence to Olympia the olive. To all
Masons the North has immemorially been the place of darkness; and of the
great lights of the Lodge, none is in the North.
Mithras, the rock-born hero heralded the Sun's return in Spring, as
Prometheus, chained in his cavern. betokened the continuance of Winter. The
Persian beacon on the mountain-top represented the Rock-born Divinity
enshrined in his worthiest temple; and the funeral conflagration of
Hercules was the sun dying in glory behind the Western hills. But though
the transitory manifestation suffers or dies, the abiding and eternal power
liberates and saves. It was an essential attribute of a Titan, that he
should arise again after his fall; for the revival of Nature is as certain
as its decline, and its alternations are subject to the appointment of a
power which controls them both.
"God," says Maximus Tyrius, "did not spare His own Son [Hercules], or
exempt Him from the calamities incidental to humanity. The Theban progeny
of Jove had his share of pain and trial. By vanquishing earthly
difficulties he proved his affinity with Heaven. His life was a continuous
struggle. He fainted before Typhon in the desert; and in the commencement
of the Autumnal season (cum longae redit hora noctis), descended under the
guidance of Minerva to Hades. He died; but first applied for initiation to
Eumolpus, in order to foreshadow that state of religious preparation which
should precede the momentous change. Even in Hades he rescued Theseus and
removed the stone of Ascalapllus, reanimated the bloodless spirits, and
dragged into the light of clay the monster Cerberus, justly reputed
invincible because an emblem of Time itself; he burst the chains of the
grave (for Busiris is the grave personified), and triumphant at the close
as in the dawn of his career, was received after his labours into the
repose of the heavenly mansions, living forever with Zeus in the arms of
ODIN is said to have borne twelve names among the old Germans, and to have
had 114 names besides. He was the Apollo of the Scandinavians, and is
represented in the Voluspa as destined to slay the monstrous snake. Then
the Sun will be extinguished, the earth be dissolved in the ocean, the
stars lose their brightness, and all Nature be destroyed in order that it
may be renewed again. From the bosom of the waters a new world will emerge
clad in verdure; harvests will be seen to ripen where no seed was sown, and
evil will disappear.
The free fancy of the ancients, which wove the web of their myths and
legends, was consecrated by faith. It had not, like the modern mind, set
apart a petty sanctuary of borrowed beliefs, beyond which all the rest was
common and unclean. Imagination, reason, and religion circled round the
same symbol; and in all their symbols there was serious meaning, if we
could but find it out. They did not devise fictions in the same vapid
spirit in which we, cramped by conventionalities, read them. In
endeavouring to interpret creations of fancy, fancy as well as reason must
guide: and much of modern controversy arises out of heavy misapprehensions
of ancient symbolism.
To those ancient peoples, this earth was the centre of the Universe. To
them there were no other worlds, peopled with living beings, to divide the
care and attention of the Deity. To them the world was a great plain, of
unknown, perhaps inconceivable limits, and the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars
journeyed above it, to give them light. The worship of the Sun became the
basis of all the religions of antiquity. To them light and heat were
mysteries; as indeed they still are to us. As the Sun caused the day, and
his absence the night; as, when he journeyed Northward, Spring and Summer
followed him; and when he again turned to the South, Autumn and inclement
Winter, and cold and long dark nights ruled the earth; . . . as his
influence produced the leaves and flowers, and ripened the harvests, and
brought regular inundation, he necessarily became to them the most
interesting object of the material Universe. To them he was the innate fire
of Holies, the fire of nature. Author of Life, heat, and ignition, he was
to them, the efficient cause of all generation, for without him there was
no movement, no existence, no form. He was to them immense, indivisible,
imperishable, and everywhere present. It was their need of light, and of
his creative energy, that was felt by all men; and nothing was more fearful
to them than his absence. His beneficent influences caused his
identification with the Principle of Good; and the BRAHMA of the Hindus,
the MITHRAS of the Persians, and ATHOM, AMUN, PHTHA, and OSIRIS, of the
Egyptians, the BEL, of the Chaldeans, the ADONAI of the Phoenicians, the
ADONIS and APOLLO of the Greeks became but personifications of the Sun, the
regenerating Principle, image of that fecundity which perpetuates and
rejuvenates the world's existence.
So too the struggle between the Good and Evil Principles was personified,
as was that between life and death, destruction and re-creation; in
allegories and fables which poetically represented the apparent course of
the Sun; who, descending toward the Southern Hemisphere, was figuratively
said to be conquered and put to death by darkness, or the genius of Evil;
but returning again toward the Northern Hemisphere, he seemed to be
victorious, and to arise from the tomb. This death and resurrection were
also figurative of the succession of day and night, of death, which is a
necessity of life, and of life which is born of and everywhere the ancients
still saw the combat between the two Principles that ruled the world.
Everywhere this contest was embodied in allegories and fictitious
histories: into which were ingeniously woven all the astronomical phenomena
that accompanied, preceded, or followed the different movements of the Sun,
and the changes of Seasons, the approach or withdrawal of inundation. And
thus grew into stature and strange proportions the histories of the
contests between Typhon and Osiris, Hercules and Juno, the Titans and
Jupiter, Ormuzd and Ahriman, the rebellious Angels and the Deity, the Evil
Genii and the Good; and the other like fables, found not only in Asia, but
in the North of Europe, and even among the Mexicans and Peruvians of the
New World; carried thither, in all probability, by those Phoenician
voyagers who bore thither civilization and the arts. The Scythians lamented
the death of Acmon, the Persians that of Zohak conquered by Pheridoun, the
Hindus that of Soura-Parama slain by Soupra-Muni, as the Scandinavians did
that of Balder, torn to pieces by the blind Hother.
The primitive idea of infinite space existed in the first men, as it exists
in us. It and the idea of infinite time are the first two innate ideas. Man
cannot conceive how thing can be added to thing, or event follow event,
forever. The idea will ever return, that no matter how long bulk is added
to bulk, there must be, still beyond, an empty void without limit; in which
is nothing. In the same way the idea of time without beginning or end
forces itself on him. Time, without events, is also a void, and nothing.
In that empty void space the primitive men knew there was no light nor
warmth. They felt, what we know scientifically, that there must be a thick
darkness there, and an intensity of cold of which we have no conception.
Into that void they thought the Sun, the Planets, and the Stars went down
when they set under the Western Horizon. Darkness was to them an enemy, a
harm, a vague dread and terror. It was the very embodiment of the evil
principle; and out of it they said that he was formed. As the Sun bent
Southward toward that void, they shuddered with dread: and when, at the
Winter Solstice, he again commenced his Northward march, they rejoiced and
feasted; as they did at the summer Solstice, when most he appeared to smile
upon them in his pride of place. These days have been celebrated by all
civilized nations ever since. The, Christian has made them feast-days of
the church, and appropriated them to the two Saints John; and Masonry has
done the same.
We, to whom the vast Universe has become but a great machine, not instinct
with a great SOUL, but a clockwork of proportions unimaginable, but still
infinitely less than infinite; and part at least of which we with our
orreries can imitate; we, who have measured the distances and dimensions,
and learned the specific gravity and determined the orbits of the moon and
the planets; we, who know the distance to the sun, and his size; have
measured the orbits of the flashing comets, and the distances of the fixed
stars; and know the latter to be suns like our sun, each with its retinue
of worlds, and all governed by the same unerring mechanical laws and
outwardly imposed forces centripetal and centrifugal we, who with our
telescopes have separated the galaxy and the nebulae into other stars and
groups of stars; discovered new planets, by first discovering their
disturbing force upon those already known; and learned that they all,
Jupiter, Venus, and the fiery Mars, and Saturn and the others, as well the
bright, mild, and ever-changing Moon, are mere dark, dull opaque clods like
our earth, and not living orbs of brilliant fire and heavenly light; we,
who have counted the mountains and chasms in the moon, with glasses that
could distinctly reveal to us the temple of Solomon, if it stood there in
its old original glory; we, who no longer imagine that the stars control
our destinies, and who can calculate the eclipses of the sun and moon
backward and forward, for ten thousand years; we, with our vastly increased
conceptions of the powers of the Grand Architect of the Universe, but our
wholly material and mechanical view of that Universe itself; we cannot,
even in the remotest degree, feel, though we may partially and imperfectly
imagine, how those great primitive, simple-hearted children of Nature felt
in regard to the Starry Hosts, there upon the slopes of the Himalayas, on
the Chaldean plains, in the Persian and Median deserts, and upon the banks
of that great, strange River, the Nile. To them the Universe was
alive--instinct with forces and powers, mysterious and beyond their
comprehension. To them it was no machine, no great system of clockwork; but
a great live creature, an army of creatures, in sympathy with or inimical
to man. To them, all was a mystery and a miracle, and the stars flashing
overhead spoke to their hearts almost in an audible language. Jupiter, with
his kingly splendors, was the Emperor of the starry legions. Venus looked
lovingly on the earth and blessed it; Mars, with his crimson fires,
threatened war and misfortune; and Saturn, cold; and grave, chilled and
repelled them. The ever-changing Moon, faithful companion of the Sun, was a
constant miracle and wonder the Sun himself the visible emblem of the
creative and generative power. To them the earth was a great plain, over
which the Sun, the moon, and the planets revolved, its servants, framed to
give it light. Of the stars, some were beneficent existences that brought
with them Spring-time and fruits and flowers,--some, faint sentinels,
advising them of coming inundation, of the season storm and of deadly
winds; some heralds of evil, which, steadily foretelling, they seemed to
cause. To them the eclipses were portents of evil, and their causes hidden
in mystery, and supernatural. The regular returns of the stars, the comings
of Arcturus, Orion, Sirius, tbe Pleiades, and Aldebaran, and the
journeyings of the Sun, were voluntary and not mechanical to them. What
wonder that astronomy became to them the most important of sciences; that
those who learned it became rulers; and that vast edifices, the Pyramids,
the tower or temple of Bel, and other like erections everywhere in the
East, were builded for astronomical purposes? --and what wonder that, in
their great child-like simplicity, they worshipped Light, the Sun, the
Planets, and the stars, and personified them, and eagerly believed in the
histories invented for them; in that age when the capacity for belief was
infinite; as indeed, if we but reflect, it still is and ever will be ?
If we adhered to the literally historic sense, antiquity would be a mere
inexplicable, hideous chaos, and all the Sages deranged: and so it would be
with Masonry and those who instituted it. But when these allegories are
explained, they cease to be absurd fables, or facts purely local; and
become lessons of wisdom for entire humanity. No one can doubt, who studies
them, that they all came from a common source.
All he greatly errs who imagines that, because the mythological legends and
fables of antiquity are referable to and have their foundation in the
phenomena of the Heavens, and all the Heathen Gods are but mere names given
to the Sun, the stars, the Planets, the Zodiacal signs, the Elements, the
Powers of Nature, and Universal Nature herself, therefore the first men
worshipped the Stars, and whatever things, animate and inanimate, seemed to
them to possess and exercise a power or influence, evident or imagined,
over human fortunes and human destiny.
For ever, in all the nations, ascending to the remotest antiquity to which
the light of History or the glimmerings of tradition reach, we find, seated
above all the gods which represent the luminaries and the elements, and
those which personify the innate Powers of universal nature, a still higher
Deity, silent, undefined, incomprehensible, the Supreme, one God, from Whom
all the rest flow or emanate, or by Him are created. Above the Time-God
Horus, the Moon-Goddess or Earth-Goddess Isis, and the Sun-God Osiris of
the Egyptians, was Amun, the Nature-God; and above him, again, the
Infinite, Incomprehensible Deity, ATHOM. BREHM, the silent,
self-contemplative, one original God, was the source, to the Hindus. of
Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. Above Zeus, or before him, were Kronos and
Ouranos. Over the Alohayim was the great Nature-God AL, and still beyond
him, Abstract Existence, IHUH -- He that IS, WAS, and SHALL BE. Above all
the Persian Deities was the Unlimited Time, ZERUANE-AKHERENE; and Odin and
Thor was the Great Scandinavian Deity ALFADIR.
The worship of Universal Nature as a God was too near akin to the worship
of a Universal Soul, to have been the instinctive creed of any savage
people or rude race of men. To imagine all nature, with all its apparently
independent parts, as forming one consistent whole, and as itself a unit,
required an amount of experience and a faculty of generalization not
possessed by the rude uncivilized mind, and is but a step below the idea of
a universal Soul.
In the beginning man had the WORD; and that WORD was from God; and out of
the living POWER communicated to man in and by that WORD came THE LIGHT of
God made man in His own likeness. When, by a long succession of geological
changes, He had prepared the earth to be his habitation, He created him,
and placed him in that part of Asia which the old nations agreed in calling
the cradle of the human race, whence afterward the stream of human life
flowed forth to India, China, Egypt, Persia, Arabia, and Phoenicia. He
communicated to him a knowledge of the nature of his Creator, and of the
pure, primitive, undefiled religion. The peculiar and distinctive excelence
and real essence of the primitive man, and his true nature and destiny,
consisted in his likeness to God. He stamped His own image upon man's soul.
That image has been, in the breast of every individual man and of mankind
in general, greatly altered, impaired, and defaced; but its old,
half-obliterated characters are still to be found on all the pages of
primitive history and the impress, not entirely effaced, every reflecting
mind may discover in its own interior.
Of the original revelation to mankind, of the primitive WORD of Divine
TRUTH, we find clear indications and scattered traces in the sacred
traditions of all the primitive Nations; traces which, when separately
examined, appear like the broken remnants, the mysterious and hieroglyphic
characters, of a mighty edifice that has been destroyed; and its fragments,
like those of the old Temples and Palaces of Nimroud, wrought incongruously
into edifices many centuries younger. And, although amid the ever-growing
degeneracy of mankind, this primeval word of revelation falsified by the
admixture of various errors, and overlaid and obscured by numberless and
manifold fictions, inextricably confused, and disfigured almost beyond the
power of recognition, still a profound inquiry will discover in heathenism
many luminous vestiges of primitive Truth.
For the old Heathenism had everywhere a foundation in Truth; and if we
could separate that pure intuition into nature and into the simple symbols
of nature, that constituted the basis of all Heathenism, from the alloy of
error and the additions of fiction, those first hieroglyphic traits of the
instinctive science of the first men, would be found to agree with truth
and a true knowledge of nature, and to afford an image of a free, pure,
comprehensive, and finished philosophy of life.
The struggle, thenceforward to be eternal, between the Divine will and the
natural will in the souls of men, commenced immediately after the creation.
Cain slew his brother Abel, and went forth to people parts of the earth
with an impious race, forgetters and defiers of the true God. The other
Descendants of the Common Father of the race intermarried with the
daughters of Cain's Descendants: and all nations preserved the remembrance
of that division of the human family into the righteous and impious, in
their distorted legends of the wars between the Gods, and the Giants and
Titans. When, afterward, another similar division occurred, the Descendants
of Seth alone preserved the true primitive religion and science, and
transmitted them to posterity in the ancient symbolical character, on
monuments of stone: and many nations preserved in their legendary
traditions the memory of the columns of Enoch and Seth.
Then the world declined from its original happy condition and fortunate
estate, into idolatry and barbarism: but all nations retained the memory of
that old estate; and the poets, in those early days the only historians,
commemorated the succession of the ages of gold, silver, brass, and iron.
In the lapse of those ages, the sacred tradition followed various courses
among each of the most ancient nations; and from its original source, as
from a common centre, its various streams flowed downward; some diffusing
through favored regions of the world fertility and life; but others soon
losing themselves, and heing dried up in the sterile sands of human error.
After the internal and Divine WORD originally communicated by God to man,
had become obscured; after man's connect with his Creator had been broken,
even outward language necessarily fell into disorder and confusion. The
simple and Divine Truth was overlaid with various and sensual fictions,
buried under illusive symbols, and at last perverted into horrible phantoms.
For in the progress of idolatry it needs came to pass, that what was
originally revered as the symbol of a higher principle, became gradually
confounded or identified with the object itself, and was worshipped; until
this error led to a more degraded form of idolatry. The early nations
received much from the primeval source of sacred tradition; but that
haughty pride which seems inherent part of human nature led each to
represent these fragmentary relics of original truth as a possession
peculiar to themselves; thus exaggerating their value, and their own
importance, as peculiar favorites of the Deity, who had chosen then the
favored people to whom to commit these truths. To make these fragments, as
far as possible, their private property, they reproduced them under
peculiar forms, wrapped them up in symbols, concealed them in allegories,
and invented fables to account for their own special possession of them. So
that, instead of preserving in their primitive simplicity and purity these
blessings of original revelation, they overlaid them with poetical
ornament; and the whole wears a fabulous aspect, until by close and severe
examination we discover the truth which the apparent fable contains.
These being the conflicting elements in the breast of man; the old
inheritance or original dowry of truth, imparted to him by God in the
primitive revelation; and error, or the foundation for error, in his
degraded sense and spirit now turned from God to nature, false faiths
easily sprung up and grew rank and luxuriant when the Divine Truth was no
longer guarded with jealous care, nor preserved in its pristine purity.
This soon happened among most Eastern nations, and especially the Indians,
the Chaldeans, the Arabians, the Persians, and the Egyptians; with whom
imagination, and a very deep but still sensual feeling for nature, were
very predominant. The Northern firmament, visible to their eyes, possesses
by far the largest and most brilliant constellations; they were more alive
to the impressions made by such objects, than are the men of the present day.
With the Chinese, a patriarchal, simple, and secluded people, idolatry long
made but little progress. They invented writing within three or four
generations after the flood; and they long preserved the memory of much of
the primitive revelation; less overlaid with fiction than those fragments
which other nations have remembered. They were among those who stood
nearest to the source of sacred tradition; and many passages in their old
writings contain remarkable vestiges of eternal truth, and of the WORD of
primitive revelation, the heritage of old thought, which attest to us their
But among the other early nations, a wild enthusiasm and a sensual idolatry
of nature soon superseded the simple worship of the Almighty God, and set
aside or disfigured the pure belief in the Eternal Uncreated Spirit. The
great powers and elements of nature, and the vital principle of production
and procreation through all generations; then the celestial spirits or
heavenly Host, the luminous armies of the Stars, and the great Sun, and
mysterious, ever-changing Moon (all of which the whole ancient world
regarded not as mere globes of light or bodies of fire, but as animated
living substances, potent over man's fate and destinies); next the genii
and tutelar spirits, and even the souls of the dead, received divine
worship. The animals, representing the starry constellations, first
reverenced as symbols merely, came to be worshipped as gods; the heavens,
earth, and the operations of nature were personified; and fictitious
personages invented to account for the introduction of science and arts,
and the fragments of the old religious truths; and the good and bad
principles personified, became also objects of worship; while, through all,
still shone the silver threads of the old primitive revelation.
Increasing familiarity with early oriental records seems more and more to
confirm the probability that they all originally emanated from one source.
The eastern and southern slopes of the Paropismus, or Hindukusch, appear to
have been inhabited by kindred Iranian races, similar in habits, language,
and religion. The earliest Indian and Persian Deities are for the most part
symbols of celestial light, their agency being regarded as an eternal
warfare with the powers of Winter, stonn, and darkness. The religion of
both was originally a worship of outward nature, especially the
manifestations of fire and light; the coincidences being too marked to be
merely accidental. Deva, God, is derived from the root div, to shine.
Indra, like Ormuzd or Ahura-Mazda, is the bright firmament; Sura or Surya,
the Heavenly, a name the Sun, recurs in the Zend word Huare, the Sun,
whence Khur and Khorshid or Corasch. Uschas and Mitra are Medic as well
Zend Deities and the Amschaspands or "immortal Holy Ones" the Zend-Avesta
may be compared with the seven Rishis or Vedic Star-God, of the
constellation of the Bear. Zoroastrianism, like Buddhism, was an innovation
in regard to an older religion; between the Parsee and Brahmin may be found
traces of disruption as well as of coincidence. The original Nature-worship
in which were combined the conceptions both of a Universal Presence and
perpetuity of action, took different directions of development, according
to the difference between the Indian and Persian mind.
The early shepherds of the Punjaub, then called the country of the Seven
Rivers, to whose intuitional or inspired wisdom (Veda) we owe what are
perhaps the most ancient religious effusions extant in any language,
apostrophized as living beings the physical objects of their worship. First
in this order of Deities stands Indra, the God of the "blue" or
"glittering" firmament, called Devaspiti, Father of the Devas or Elemental
Powers, who measured out the circle of the sky, and made fast the
foundations of the Earth; the ideal domain of Varouna, "the
All-encompasser" is almost equally extensive, including air, water, night,
the expanse between Heaven and Earth; Agni, who lives on the fire of
sacrifice, on the domestic hearth, and in the lightnings of the sky, is the
great Mediator between God and Man; Uschas, or Dawn, leads forth the Gods
in the morning to make their daily repast in the intoxicating Soma of
Nature's offertory, of which the Priest could only compound from simples a
symbolical imitation. Then came the various Sun-Gods, Adityas or Solar
Attributes, Surya the Heavenly, Savitri the Progenitor, Pashan the
Nourisher, Bagha the Felicitous, and Mitra the Friend.
The coming forth of the Eternal Being to the work of creation was
represented as a marriage, his first emanation being a universal mother,
supposed to have potentially existed with him from Eternity, or, in
metaphorical language, to have been "his sister his spouse." She became
eventually promoted to be the Mother of the Indian Trinity, of the Deity
under His three Attribute Creation, Preservation, and Change or Regeneration.
The most popular forms or manifestations of Vishnu the Preserver, were his
successive avataras or historic impersonations, which represented the Deity
coming forth out of the incomprehsive mystery of his nature, and revealing
Himself at those critical epochs which either in the physical or moral
world seemed to mark a new commencement of prosperity and order. Combating
the power of Evil in the various departments of Nature, and in successive
periods of time, the Divinity, though varying in form, is ever in reality
the same, whether seen in useful agricultural or social inventions, in
traditional victories over rival creeds, or in physical changes faintly
discovered through tradition, or suggested by cosmogonical theory. As Rama,
the Epic hero armed with sword, club, and arrows, the prototype of Hercules
and Mithras, he wrestles like the Hebrew Patriarch with the Powers of
Darkness; Chrishna-Govinda, the Divine Shepherd, he is the Messenger of
Peace, overmastering the world by music and love. Under the human form he
never ceases to be the Supreme Being. "The foolish" (he says, in Bhagavad
Ghita), "unacquainted with my Supreme Nature, despise me in this human
form, while men of great minds, enlightened by the Divine principle within
them, acknowledge me as incorruptible and before all things, and serve me
with undivided hearts." "I am not recognized by all," he says again,
"because concealed by the supernatural power which is in me; yet to me are
known all things past, present, and to come; I existed before Vaivaswata
and Menou. I am the Most High God, the Creator of the World, the Eternal
Poorooscha (Man-World or Genius of the World). And although in my own
nature I am exempt from liability to birth or death, and am Lord of all
created things, yet as often as in the world virtue is enfeebled! and vice
and injustice prevail, so often do I become manifest and am revealed from
age to age, to save the just, to destroy the guilty, and to reassure the
faltering steps of virtue. He who acknowledgeth me as even so, doth not on
quitting this mortal frame enter into another, for he entereth into me; and
many who have trusted in me have already entered into me, being purified by
the power of wisdom. I help those who walk in my path, even as they serve me."
Brahma, the creating agent, sacrified himself, when, by descending into
material forms, he became incorporated with his work; and his mythological
history was interwoven with that of the Universe. Thus, although
spiritually allied to the Supreme, and Lord of all creatures (Prajapati),
he shared the imperfection and corruption of an inferior nature, and,
steeped in manifold ar perishable forms, might be said, like the Greek
Uranus, to be mutilated and fallen. He thus combined two characters,
formless form, immortal and mortal, being and non-being, motion and rest.
As Incarnate Intelligence, or THE WORD, he communicated to man what had
been revealed to himself by the Eternal, since he is creation's Soul as
well as Body, within which the Divine Word is written in those living
letters which it is the prerogative of the self-conscious spirit to interpret.
The fundamental principles of the religion of the Hindus consisted in the
belief in the existence of One Being only, of the immortality of the soul,
and of a future state of rewards and punishments. Their precepts of
morality inculcate the practice of virtue as necessary for procuring
happiness even in this transient life; and their religious doctrines make
their felicity in a future state to depend upon it.
Besides their doctrine of the transmigration of souls, their dogmas may be
epitomized under the following heads: 1st The existence of one God, from
Whom all things proceed, and to Whom all must return. To him they
constantly apply these expressions-- The Universal and Eternal Essence;
that which has ever been and will ever continue; that which vivifies and
pervades all things; He who is everywhere present, and causes the celestial
bodies to revolve in the course He has prescribed to them. 2d A tripartite
division of the Good Principle, for the purposes of Creation, Preservation,
and Renovation by change and death. 3d. The necessary existence of an Evil
Principle, occupied in counteracting the benevolent purposes of the first,
in their execution by the Devata or Subordinate Genii, to whom is entrusted
the control over the various operations of nature.
And this was part of their doctrine: "One great and incomprehensible Being
has alone existed from all Eternity. Everything we behold and we ourselves
are portions of Him. The soul, mind or intellect, of gods and men, and of
all sentient creatures, are detached portions of the Universal Soul, to
which at stated periods they are destined to return. But the mind of finite
beings is impressed by one uninterrupted series of illusions, which they
consider as real, until again united to the great fountain of truth. Of
these illusions, the first and most essential is individuality. By its
influence, when detached from its source, the soul becomes ignorant of its
own nature, origin, and destiny. It considers itself as a separate
existence, and no longer a spark of the Divinity, a link of one
immeasurable chain, an infinitely small but indispensable portion of one
Trheir love of imagery caused them to personify what they conceived to be
some of the attributes of God, perhaps in order to present things in a way
better adapted to the comprehensions of the vulgar, than the abstruse idea
of an indescribable, invisible God; and hence the invention of a Brahma, a
Vishnu, and a Siva or Iswara. These were represented under various fornls;
but no emblem or visible sign of Brihm or Brehm, the Omnipotent, is to be
found. They considered the great mystery of the existence of the Supreme
Ruler of the Universe, as beyond human comprehension. Every creature
endowed with the faculty of thinking, they held, must be conscious of the
existence of a God, a first cause; but the attempt to explain the nature of
that Being, or in any way to assimilate it with our own, they considered
not only a proof of folly, but of extreme impiety.
The following extracts from their books will serve to show what were the
real tenets of their creed:
"By one Supreme Ruler is this Universe pervaded; even every world in the
whole circle of nature.... There is one Supreme Spirit, which nothing can
shake, more swift than the thought of nan. That Supreme Spirit moves at
pleasure, but in itself is immovable; it is distant from us, yet near us;
it pervades this whole system of worlIds; yet it is infinitely beyond it.
That man who considers all beings as existing even in the Supreme Spirit,
and the Supreme Spirit as pervading all beings, henceforth views no
creature with contempt.... All spiritual beings are the same in kind with
the Supreme Spirit.... The pure enlightened soul assumes a luminous form,
with no gross body, with no perforation, with no veins or tendons,
unblemished, untainted by sin; itself being a ray from the Infinite Spirit,
which knows the Past and the Future, which pervades all, which existed with
no cause but itself, which created all things as they are, in ages most
remote. That all-pervading Spirit which gives light to the visible Sun,
even the same in kind am I, though infinitely distant in degree. Let my
soul return to the immortal Spirit of God, and then let my body, which ends
in ashes, return to dust ! O Spirit, who pervadest fire, lead us in a
straight path to the riches of beatitude.
Thou, O God, possessest all the treasures of knowledge! Remove each foul
taint from our souls ! '
"From what root springs mortal man, when felled by the hand of death? Who
can make him spring again to birth? God, who is perfect wisdom, perfect
happiness. He is the final refuge of tht man who has liberally bestowed his
wealth, who has been firm in virtue, who knows and adores that Great
One.... Let us adore the supremacy of that Divine Sun, the Godhead who
illuminates all, who re-creates all, from whom all proceed, to whom all
must return, whom we invoke to direct our understandings aright, in our
progress toward his holy seat.... What the Sun and Light are to this
visible world, such is truth to the intellectual and visible Universe....
Our souls acquire certain knowledge, by meditating on the light of Truth,
which emanates from the Being of Beings.... That Being, without eyes sees,
without ears hears all; he knows whatever can be known, but there is none
who knows him; him the wise call the Great, Supreme, Pervading
Spirit....Perfect Truth, Perfect Happiness, without equal, immortal;
absolute unity, whom neither speech can describe, nor mind comprehend:
all-pervading, all-transcending, delighted with his own boundless
intelligence, nor limited by space or time; without feet, running swiftly;
without hands, grasping all worlds; without eyes, all-surveying; without
ears, all-hearing; without; an intelligent guide, understanding all;
without cause,the first of all causes; all-ruling, all-powerful, the
Creator, Preserver, Transformer of all things: such is the Great One; this
the Vedas declare.
"May that soul of mine, which mounts aloft in my waking hours as an
ethereal spark, and which, even in my slumber, has a like ascent, soaring
to a great distance, as an emanation from the Light of Lights, be united by
devout meditation with the Spirit supremely blest, and supremely
intelligent! .... May that soul of mine, which was itself the primeval
oblation placed within all creatures...which is a ray of perfect wisdom,
which is the inextinguishable light fixed within created bodies, without
which no good act is performed.... in which as an immortal essence may be
comprised whatever has passed, is present, or will be hereafter....be
united by devout meditation with the Spirit supremely blest and supremely
"The Being of Beings is the Only God, eternal and everywhere present, Who
comprises everything. There is no God but He....The supreme Being is
invisible, incomprehensible, immovable, without figure or shape. No one has
ever seen Him; time never comprised Him; His essence pervades everything;
all was derived from Him.
"The duty of a good man, even in the moment of his destruction, consists
not only in forgiving, but even in a desire of benefiting his destroyer; as
the sandal-tree, in the instant of its overthrow, sheds perfume on the axe
which fells it."
The Vedanta and Nyaya philosophers acknowledge a Supreme Eternal Being, and
the immortality of the soul: though, like the Greeks, they differ in their
ideas of those subjects. They speak of the Supreme Being as an eternal
essence that pervades space, and gives life or existence. Of that universal
and eternal pervading spirit, the Vedanti suppose four modifications; but
as these do not change its nature, and as it would be erroneous to ascribe
to each of them a distinct essence, so it is equally erroneous, they say,
to imagine that the various modifications by which the All- pervading Being
exists, or displays His power, are individual existences. Creation is not
considered as the instant production of things, but only as the
manifestation of that which exists eternally in the one Universal Being.
The Nyaya philosophers believe that spirit and matter are eternal; but they
do not suppose that the world in its present form has existed from
eternity, but only the primary matter from which it sprang when operated on
by the almighty Word of God, the Intelligent Cause and Supreme Being, Who
produced the combinations or aggregations which compose the material
universe. Though they believe that soul is an emanation from the Supreme
Being, they distinguish it from that Being, in its individual existence.
Truth and Intelligence are the eternal attributes of God, not, they say, of
the individual soul, which is susceptible both of knowledge and ignorance,
of pleasure and pain; and therefore God and it are distinct. Even when it
returns to the Eternal, and attains supreme bliss, it undoubtedly does not
cease. Though united to the Supreme Being, it is not absorbed in it, but
still retains the abstract nature of definite or visible existence.
"The dissolution of the world," they say, "consists in the destruction of
the visible forms and qualities of things; but their material essence
remains, and from it new worlds are formed by the creative energy of God;
and thus the universe is dissolved and renewed in endless succession."
The Jainas, a sect at Mysore and elsewhere, say that the ancient religion
of India and of the whole world consisted in the belief in one God, a pure
Spirit, indivisible, omniscient and all-powerful; that God, having given to
all things their appointed order and course of action, and to man a
sufficient portion of reason or understanding, to guide him in his conduct,
leaves him the operation of free will, without the entire exercise of which
he could not be held answerable for his conduct.
Menou, the Hindu lawgiver, adored, not the visible, material Sun, but "that
divine and incomparably greater light," to use the words of the most
venerable text in the Indian scripture, "which illumines all, delights all,
from which all proceed, to which all must return, and which alone can
irradiate our intellects." He thus commences his Institutes:
"Be it heard!
"This Universe existed only in the first divine idea yet unexpanded, as if
involved in darkness, imperceptible, undefinable, undiscoverable by reason,
and undiscovered by revelation, as if it were wholly immersed in sleep:
"Then the Sole Self-existing Power, Himself undiscovered, but making this
world discernible, with five elements, and other principles of nature,
appeared with undiminished glory, expanding His idea, or dispelling the gloom.
"He Whom the mind alone can perceive, whose esscence eludes the eternal
organs, who has no visible parts, who exists from Eternity, even He, the
soul of all beings, Whom no being can comprehend, shone forth.
"He, having willed to produce various beings from His own divine Substance,
first with a thought created the waters.... From that which is [precisely
the Hebrew ], the first cause, not the object of sense, existing everywhere
in substance, not existing to our perception, without beginning or end"
[the A.'. Omega .'., the I.'. A.'. Omega .'.], "was produced the divine
male famed in all worlds under the appellation of Brahma."
Then recapitulating the different things created by Brahma adds: "He,"
meaning Brahma [the Aoyos, the Word] "whose powers are incomprehensible,
having thus created this Universe, was again absorbed in the Supreme
Spirit, changing the time of energy for the time of repose."
The Antareya A'ran'ya, one of the Vedas, gives this primitive idea of the
creation: "In the beginning, the Universe was but a Soul: nothing else,
active or inactive, existed. Then He had this thought, I will create
worlds; and thus He created these different worlds; air, the light, mortal
beings, and the waters.
"He had this thought: Behold the worlds; I will create guardions for the
worlds. So He took of the water and fashioned a being clothed with the
human form. He looked upon him and of that being so contemplated, the mouth
opened like all egg, and speech came forth, and from the speech fire. The
nostrils opelled, and through them went the breath of respiration, and by
it the air was propagated. The eyes opened; from them came a luminous ray,
and from it was produced the sun. The ears dilated; from them came hearing,
and from hearing space:" . . . and, after the body of man, with the senses,
was formed; He, the universal Soul, thus reflected: How can this body exist
without Me? He examined through what extremity He could penetrate it. He
said to Himself: If, without Me, the World is articulated, breath exhales,
and sight sees; if hearing hears, the skin feels, and the mind reflects,
deglutition swallows, and the genarative organ fulfills its functions, what
then am I? And separating the suture of the cranium, He penetrated into man."
Behold the great fundamental primitive truths ! God, an infinite Eternal
Soul or Spirit. Matter, not eternal nor self-existent, but created--created
by a thought of God. After matter, and worlds, then man, by a like thought:
and finally, after endowing him with the senses and a thinking mind, a
portion, a spark, of God Himself penetrates the man, and becomes a living
spirit within him.
The Vedas thus detail the creation of the world:
"In the beginning there was a single God, existing of Himself; Who, after
having passed an eternity absorbed in the contemplation of His own being,
desired to manifest His perfections outwardly of Himself; and created the
matter of the world. The four elements being thus produced, but still
mingled in confusion, He breathed upon the waters, which swelled up into an
immense ball in the shape of an egg, and, developing themselves, became the
vault and orb of Heaven which encircles the earth. Having made the earth
and the bodies of animal beings, this God, the essence of movement, gave to
them, to animate them, a portion of His own being. Thus, the soul of
everything that breathes being a fraction of the universal soul, none
perishes; but each soul merely changes its mould and form, by passing
succcessively into different bodies. Of all forms, that which most pleases
the Divine Being is Man, as nearest approaching His own perfections. When a
man, absolutely disengaging himself from his senses, absorbs himself in
self-contemplation, he comes to discern the Divinity, and becomes part of Him."
The Ancient Persians in many respects resembled the Hindus,- in their
language, their poetry, and their poetic legends. Their conquests brought
them in contact with China; and they subdued Egypt and Judea. Their views
of God and religion more resembled those of the Hebrews than those of any
other nation, and indeed the latter people borrowed from them some
prominent doctrines, that we are in the habit of regarding as an essential
part of the original Hebrew creed.
Of the King of Heaven and Father of Eternal Light, of the pure World of
Light, of the Eternal Word by which all things were created, of the Seven
Mighty Spirits that stand next to the Throne of Light and Omnipotence, and
of the glory of those Heavenly Hosts that encompass that Throne, of the
Origin of Evil, and the Prince of Darkness, Monarch of the rebellious
spirits, enemies of all good, they entertainecl tenets very similar to
those of the Hebrews. Toward Egyptian idolatry they felt the strongest
abhorrence, and under Cambyses pursued a regular plan for its utter
extirpation. Xerxes, when he invaded Greece, destroyed the Temples and
erected fire-chapels along the whole course of his march. Their religion
was eminently spiritual, and the earthly fire and earthly sacrifice were
but the signs and emblems of another devotion and a higher power.
Thus the fundamental doctrine of the ancient religion of India and Persia
was at first nothing more than a simple veneration of nature, its pure
elements and its primary energies, the sacred fire, and above all,
Light,--the air, not the lower atmospheric air the purer and brighter air
of Heaven, the breath that animates and pervades the breath of mortal life.
This pure and simple veneration of nature is perhaps the most ancient, and
was by far the most generally prevalent in the primitive and patriarchal
world. It was not originally a deification of nature, or a denial of the
sovereignty of God. Those pure elements and primitive essences of created
nature offered to the first men, still in a close communication with the
Deity, not a likeness of resemblance, nor a mere fanciful image or a
poetical figure, but a natural and true symbol of Divine power. Everywhere
in the Hebrew writings the pure light or sacred fire is employed as an
image of the all-pervading and all-consuming power and omnipresence of the
Divinity. His breath was the first source of life; and the faint whisper of
the breeze announced to the prophet His immediate presence.
"All things are the progeny of one fire. The Father perfected all things,
and delivered them over to the Second Mind, whom all nations of men call
the First. Natural works co-exist with the intellectual light of the
Father; for it is the Soul which adorns the great Heaven, and which adorns
it after the Father. The Soul, being a bright fire, by the power of the
Father, remains immortal, and is mistress of life, and fills up the
recesses of the world. For the fire which is first beyond, did not shut up
his power in matter by works, but by mind, for the framer of the fiery
world is the mind of mind, who first sprang from mind, clothing fire with
fire. Father-begotten Light ! for He alone, having from the Father's power
received the essence of intellect, is enabled to understand the mind of the
Father; and to instill into all sources and principles tlle capacity of
understanding, and of ever continuing in ceaseless revolving motion." Such
was the language of Zoroaster, embodying the old Persian ideas.
And the same ancient sage thus spoke of the Sun and Stars: "The Father made
the whole Universe of fire and water and earth, and all-nourishing ether.
He fixed a great multitude of moveless stars, that stand still forever, not
by compulsion and unwillingly, but without desire to wander, fire acting
upon fire. He congregated the seven firmaments of the world, and so
surrounded the earth with the convexity of the Heavens; and therein set
seven living existences, arranging their apparent disorder in regular
orbits, six of them planets, and the Sun, placed in the centre, the
seventh;--in that centre from which all lines, diverging which way soever,
are equal; and the swift sun himself, revolving around a principal centre,
and ever striving to reach the central and all-pervading light, bearing
with him the bright Moon."
And yet Zoroaster added: "Measure not the journeyings of the sun, nor
attempt to reduce them to rule; for he is carried by the eternal will of
the Father, not for your sake. Do not endeavor to understand the impetuous
course of the Moon; for she runs evermore under the impulse of necessity;
and the progression of the Stars was not generated to serve any purpose of
Ormuzd says to Zoroaster, in the Boundehesch: "I am he who holds the
Star-Spangled Heaven in ethereal space; who makes, this sphere, which once
was buried in darkness, a flood of light. Through me the Earth became a
world firm and lasting--the earth on which walks the Lord of the world. I
am he who makes the light of Sun, Moon, and Stars pierce the clouds. I make
the corn seed, which perishing in the ground sprouts anew.... I created
man, whose eye is light, whose life is the breath of his nostrils. I placed
within him life's unextinguishable power."
Ormuzd or Ahura-Mazda himself represented the primal light, distinct from
the heavenly bodies, yet necessary to their existence, and the source of
their splendor. The Amschaspands (Ameschaspenta, "immortal Holy Ones"),
each presided over a special department of nature. Earth and Heaven, fire
and water, the Sun and Moon, the rivers, trees, and mountains, even the
artificial divisions of the day and year were addressed in prayer as
tenanted by Divine beings, each separately ruling within his several
sphere. Fire, in particular, that "most energetic of immortal powers," the
visible representative of the primal light, was invoked as "son of Ormuzd."
The Sun, the Archimagus, that noblest and most powerful agent of divine
power, who "steps forth as a Conqueror from the top of the terrible Alborj
to rule over the world which he enlightens from the throne of Ormuzd," was
worshipped among other symbols by the name of MITHRAS, a beneficent and
friendly genius, who, in the hymn addressed to him in the Zend-Avesta,
bears the names given him by the Greeks, as the "Invincible" and the
"Mediator"; the former, because in his daily strife with darkness he is the
most active confederate of Ormuzd; the latter, as being the medium through
which Heaven's choicest blessings are communicated to men. He is called
"the eye of Ormuzd, the effulgent Hero, pursuing his course triumphantly,
fertilizer of deserts, most exalted of the Izeds or Yezatas, the
never-sleeping the protector of the land." "When the dragon foe devastates
my provinces," says Ormuzd, "and afflicts them with famine, then is he
struck down by the strong arm of Mithras, together with the Devs of
Mazanderan. With his lance and his immortal club, the Sleepless Chief hurls
down the Devs into the dust, when as Mediator he interposes to guard the
city from evil."
Ahriman was by some Parsee sects considered older than Ormuzd, as darkness
is older than light; he is imagined to have been unknown as a Malevolent
Being in the early ages of the world, and the fall of man is attributed in
the Boundehescll to an apostate worship of him, from which men were
converted by a succession of prophets terminating with Zoroaster.
Mithras is not only light, but intelligence; that luminary which, though
born in obscurity, will not only dispel darkness but conquer death. The
warfare through which this consummation is to be reached, is mainly carried
on through the instrumentality of the "Word," that "ever-living emanation
of the Deity, by virtue of which the world exists," and of which the
revealed formulas incessantly repeated in the liturgies of the Magi are but
the expression. "What shall I do," cried Zoroaster, "O Ormuzd, steeped in
brightness, in order to battle with Daroodj-Ahriman, father of the Evil
Law; how shall I make men pure and holy?" Ormuzd answered and said:
"Invoke, O Zoroaster, the pure law of the Servants of Ormuzd; invoke the
Amschaspands who shed abundance throughout the seven Keshwars; invoke the
Heaven, Zeruana-Akarana, the birds travailing on high, the swift wind, the
Earth; invoke my Spirit, me who am Ahura-Mazda, the purest, strongest,
wisest, best of beings; me who have the most majestic body, who through
purity am Supreme, whose Soul is the Excellent Word; and ye, all people,
invoke me as I have commanded Zoroaster."
Ahura-Mazda himself is the living WORD; he is called "First-born of all
things, express image of the Eternal, very light of very light, the
Creator, who by power of the Word which he never ceases to pronounce, made
in 365 days the Heaven and the Earth." The Word is said in the Yashna to
have existed before all, and to be itself a Yazata, a personified object of
prayer. It was revealed in Serosch, in Homa, and again, under Gushtasp, was
manifested in Zoroaster.
Between life and death, between sunshine and shade, Mithras is the present
exemplification of the Primal Unity from which all things arose, and into
which, through his mediation, all contrarietics will ultimately be
absorbed. His annual sacrifice is the pasover of the Magi, a symbolical
atonement or pledge of moral and physical regeneration. He created the
world in the beginning; and as at the close of each successive year he sets
free the current of life to invigorate a fresh circle of being, so in the
end of all things he will bring the weary sum of ages as a hecatomb before
God, releasing by a final sacrifice the Soul of Nature from her perishable
frame, to commence a brighter and purer existence.
Iamblichus (De Mys. viii. 4) says: "The Egyptians are far from ascribing
all things to physical causes; life and intellect they distinguish from
physical being, both in man and in the Universe. They place intellect and
reason first as self-existent, and from these they derive the created
world. As Parent of generated things they constitute a Demiurge, and
acknowledge a vital force both the Heavens and before the Heavens. They
place Pure Intellect above and beyond the Universe, and another (that is,
Mind vealed in the Material World), consisting of one continuous mind
pervading the Universe, and apportioned to all its parts a spheres." The
Egyptian idea, then, was that of all transcendental philosophy--that of a
Deity both immanent and transcendent-- spirit passing into its
manifestations, but not exhausted by so doing.
The wisdom recorded in the canonical rolls of Hermes quickly attained in
this transcendental lore, all that human curiosity can ever discover.
Thebes especially is said to have acknowledged a being without beginning or
end, called Amun or Amun-Kneph, the all-prevading Spirit or Breath of
Nature, or perhaps even some still more lofty object of reverential
reflection, whom it was forbidden even to name. Such a being would in
theory stand the head of the three orders of Gods mentioned by Herodotus,
these being regarded as arbitrary classifications of similar or equal
beings, arranged in successive emanations, according to an estimate of
their comparative dignity. The Eight Great Gods, or primary class, were
probably manifestations of the emanated God in the several parts and powers
of the Universe, each potentially comprising the whole Godhead.
In the ancient Hermetic books, as quoted by Iamblichus, occurred the
following passage in regard to the Supreme Being:-
"Before all the things that actually exist, and before all beginnings,
there is one God, prior even to the first God and King, remaining unmoved
in the singleness of his own Unity: for neither is anything conceived by
intellect inwoven with him, nor anything else;, but he is established as
the exemplar of the God who is good, who is his own father, self-begotten,
and has only one Parent. For he is something greater and prior to, and the
fountain of all things, and the foundation of things conceived by the
intellect, which are the first species. And from this ONE, the
self-originated God caused himself to shine forth; for which reason he is
his own father, and self-originated. For he is both a beginning and God of
Gods, a Monad from the One, prior to substance and the beginning of
substance; for from him is substantiality and substance, whence also he is
called the beginning of things conceived by the intellect. These then are
the most ancient beginnings of all things, which Hermes places before the
ethereal and empyrean and celestial Gods."
"CHANG-TI, Or the Supreme Lord or Being," said the old Chinese creed, "is
the principle of everything that exists, and Father of all living. He is
eternal, immovable, and independent: His power knows no bounds: His sight
equally comprehends the Past, the Present, and the Future, and penetrates
even to the inmost recesses of the heart. Heaven and earth are under his
government: all events, all revolutions, are the consequences of his
dispensation and will. He is pure, holy, and impartial; wickedness offends
his sight; but he beholds with an eye of complacency the virtuous actions
of men. Severe, yet just, he punishes vice in an exemplary manner, even in
Princes and Rulers; and often casts down the guilty, to crown with honor
the man who walks after his own heart, and whom he raises from obscurity.
Good, merciful, and full of pity, he forgives the wicked upon their
repentance: and public calamities and the irregularity of the seasons are
but salutary warnings, which his fatherly goodness gives to men, to induce
them to reform and amend."
Controlled by reason infinitely more than by the imagination, that people,
occupying the extreme East of Asia, did not fall into idolatry until after
the time of Confucius, and within two centuries of the birth of Christ;
when the religion Of BUDDHA or FO was carried thither from India. Their
system was long regulated by the pure worship of God, and the foundation of
their moral and political existence laid in a sound, upright reason,
conformable to true ideas of the Deity. They had no false gods or images,
and their third Emperor Hoam-ti erected a Temple, the first probably ever
erected, to the Great Architect of the Universe. And though they offered
sacrifices to divers tutelary angels, yet they honored them infinitely less
than XAM-TI or CHANG-TI, the Sovereign Lord of the World.
Confucius forbade making images or representations of Deity. He attached no
idea of personality to Him; but considered Him as a Power or Principle,
pervading all Nature. And the Chinese designated the Divinity by the name
of THE DIVINE REASON.
The Japanese believe in a Supreme Invisible Being, not to represented by
images or worshipped in Temples. They styled him AMIDA or OMITH; and say
that he is without beginning end; that he came on earth, where he remained
a thousand years, and became the Redeemer of our fallen race: that he is to
judge all men; and the good are to live forever, while the bad are to
condemned to Hell.
"The Chang-ti is represented," said Confucius, "under the general emblem of
the visible firmament, as well as under the particular symbols of the sun,
the Moon, and the Earth, because by their means we enjoy the gifts of the
Chang-ti. The Sun is the source of life and light: the Moon illuminates the
world by night. By observing the course of these luminaries, mankind are
enabled to distinguish times and seasons. The Ancients, with the view of
connecting the act with its object, when they established the practice of
sacrificing to the Chang-ti, fixed the day the Winter Solstice, because the
Sun, after having passed through the twelve places assigned apparently by
the Chang-ti as its annual residence, began its career anew, to distribute
blessings throughout the Earth."
He said: "The TEEN is the universal principle and prolific source of all
things.... The Chang-ti is the universal principle of existence."
The Arabians never possessed a poetical, high-wrought, and scientifically
arranged system of Polytheism. Their historical traditions had much analogy
with those of the Hebrews, coincided with them in a variety of points. The
tradition of a purer faith and the simple Patriarchal worship of the Deity
appear never to have been totally extinguished among them; nor did idolatry
gain much foothold until near the time of Mahomet; who, adopting the old
primeval faith, taught again doctrine of one God, adding to it that he was
To the mass of Hebrews, as well as to other nations, seem to have come
fragments only of the primitive revelation: nor do they seem, until after
their captivity among the Persians, to have concerned themselves about
metaphysical speculations in regard to the Divine Nature and essence;
although it is evident, from the Psalms of David, that a sclect body among
them preserved a knowledge, in regard to the Deity, which was wholly
unknown to the mass of the people; and those chosen few were made the
medium of transition for certain truths, to later ages.
Among the Greeks, the scholars of the Egyptians, all the higher ideas and
severer doctrines on the Divinity, his Sovereign Nature and Infinite Might,
the Eternal Wisdom and Providence that conducts and directs all things to
their proper end, the Infinite Mind and Supreme Intelligence that created
all things, and is raised far above external nature,---all these loftier
ideas and nobler doctrines were expounded more or less perfectly by
Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, and Socrates, and developed in the most beautiful
and luminous manner by Plato, and the philosophers that succeeded him. And
even in the popular religion of the Greeks are many things capable of a
deeper import and more spiritual signification; though they seem only rare
vestiges of ancient truth, vague presentiments, fugitive tones, and
momentary flashes, revealing a belief in a Supreme Being, Almighty Creator
of the Universe, and Common Father of Mankind.
Much of the primitive Truth was taught to Pythagoras by Zoroaster, who
himself received it from the Indians. His disciples rejected the use of
Temples, of Altars, and of Statues; and smiled at the folly of those
nations who imagined that the Deity sprang from or had any affinity with
human nature. The tops of the highest mountains were the places chosen for
sacrifices. Hymns and prayers were their principal worship. The supreme
God, who fills the wide circle of Heaven, was the object to Whom they were
addressed. Such is the testimony of Herodotus. Light they considered not so
much as an object of worship, as rather the most pure and lively emblem of,
and first emanation from, the Eternal God; and thought that man required
something visible or tangible to exalt his mind to that degree of adoration
which is due to the Divine Being.
There was a surprising similarity between the Temples, Priests, doctrines,
and worship of the Persian Magi and the British Druids. The latter did not
worship idols in the human shape, because they held that the Divinity,
being invisible, ought to adored without being seen. They asserted the
Unity of the God- head. Their invocations were made to the One
All-preserving Power; and they argued that, as this power was not matter
must necessarily be the Deity; and the secret symbol used express his name
was O.I.W. They believed that the earth had sustained one general
destruction by water; and would again be destroyed by fire. They admitted
the doctrines of the immortality of the soul, a future state, and a day of
judgment, which would be conducted on the principle of man's
responsibility. They even retained some idea of the redemption of mankind
through the death of a Mediator. They retained a tradition the Deluge,
perverted and localized. But, around these fragments of primitive truth
they wove a web of idolatry, worshipped two Subordinate Deities under the
names of HU and CERIDWEN, male and female (doubtless the same as Osiris and
Isis), and held doctrine of transmigration.
The early inhabitants of Scandinavia believed in a God who was "the Author
of everything that existeth; the Eternal, the Ancient, the Living and Awful
Being, the Searcher into concealed things, the Being that never changeth."
Idols, visible representations of the Deity were originally forbidden, and
He was directed to be worshipped in the lonely solitude sequestered
forests, where He was said to dwell, invisible, an perfect silence.
The Druids, like their Eastern ancestors, paid the most sacred regard to
the odd numbers, which; traced backward, ended in Unity or Deity, while the
even numbers ended in nothing. 3 was particularly reverenced. 19 (7+3+3^2):
30 (7 X 3 + 3 X 3); and 21 (7 X 3) were numbers observed in the erection of
their temples, constantly appearing in their dimensions, and the number and
distances of the huge stones.
They were the sole interpreters of religion. They superintended all
sacrifices; for no private person could offer one with their permission.
They exercised the power of excommunication; and without their concurrence
war could not be declared nor peace made: and they even had the power of
inflicting the punishment of death. They professed to possess a knowledge
magic, and practised augury for the public service.
They cultivated many of the liberal sciences, and particuly astronomy, the
favorite science of the Orient; in which they attained considerable
proficiency. They considered day as the offspring of night, and therefore
made their computations by nights instead of days; and we, from them, still
use the words fortnight and sen'night. They knew the division of the
heavens into constellations; and finally, they practised the strictest
morality, having particularly the most sacred regard for that peculiarly
Masonic virtue, Truth.
In the Icelandic Prose Edda is the following dialogue:
"Who is the first or eldest of the Gods ?
"In our language he is called, ALFADIR (All-Father, or the Father of All);
but in the old Asgard he had twelve names.
"Where is this God? What is his power? and what hath he done to display his
"He liveth from all ages, he governeth all realms, and swayeth all things
both great and small.
"He hath formed Heaven and earth, and the air, and all things thereunto
"He hath made man and given him a soul which shall live and never perish,
though the body shall have mouldered away or have been burnt to ashes. And
all that are righteous shall dwell with him in the place called Gimli or
Vingolf; but the wicked shall go to Hel and thence to Niflhel which is
below, in the ninth world."
Almost every heathen nation, so far as we have any knowledge of their
mythology, believed in one Supreme Overruling God, whose name it was not
lawful to utter.
"When we ascend," says Muller, to the most distant heights of Greek
history, the idea of God as the Supreme Being stands before us as a simple
fact. Next to this adoration of One God, the Father of Heaven, the Father
of men, we find in Greece a Worship of Nature." The original was the God or
Gods, called by the Greeks the Son of Time, meaning that there was no God
before Him, but He was Eternal. "Zeus," says the Orphic line, "is the
Beginning, Zeus the Middle; out of Zeus all things have been made." And the
Peleides of Dodona said, "Zeus was, Zeus is, Zeus will be; O great Zeus!"
and he was Zeus Best and Greatest.
The Parsees, retaining the old religion taught by Zaradisht, say in their
catechism: "We believe in only one God, and do not believe in any beside
Him; Who created the Heavens, the Earth, the Angels.... Our God has neither
face nor form, colour nor shape, nor fixed place. There is no other like
Him, nor can our mind comprehend Him."
The Tetragrammaton, or some other word covered by it, was forbidden to be
pronounced. But that its pronunciation might not be lost among the Levites,
the High-Priest uttered it in the Temple once a year, on the 10th day of
the Month Tisri, the day of the great feast of expiation. During this
ceremony, the people were directed to make a great noise, that the Sacred
Word might not be heard by any who had not a right to it; for every other,
said the Jews, would be incontinently stricken dead.
The Great Egyptian Initiates, before the time of the Jews, did the same
thing in regard to the word Isis; which they regarded as sacred and
Origen says: "There are names which have a natural potency. Such as those
which the Sages used among the Egyptians, the Magi in Persia, the Brahmins
in India. What is called Magic is not a vain and chimerical act, as the
Stoics and Epicureans pretend. The names SABAOTII and ADONAI were not made
for created beings; but they belong to a mysterious theology, which goes
back to the Creator. From Him comes the virtue of these names, when they
are arranged and pronounced according to the rules."
The Hindu word AUM represented the three Powers combined in their Deity:
Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva; or the Creating, Preserving, and Destroying
Powers: A, the first; U or O-O, the, second; and M, the third. This word
could not be pronounced except by the letters: for its pronunciation as one
word was said to make Earth tremble, and even the Angels of Heaven to quake
The word AUM, says the Ramayan, represents "The Being of Beings, One
Substance in three forms; without mode, without quality without passion:
Immense, Incomprehensible, Infinite, Indivisible, Immutable, Incorporeal,
An old passage in the Purana says: "All the rites ordained in the Vedas,
the sacrifices to the fire. and all other solemn purifications, shall pass
away; but that which shall never pass away is the word A.'.O-O.'. M.'. for
it is the symbol of the Lord of all things."
Herodotus says that the Ancient Pelasgi built no temples and worshipped no
idols, and had a sacred name of Deity, which it was not permissible to
The Clarian Oracle, which was of unknown antiquity, being asked which of
the Deities was named IAQ, answered in these remarkable words: "The
Initiated are bound to conceal the mysterious secrets. Learn, then, that
IAQ is the Great God Supreme, that ruleth over all."
The Jews consider the True Name of God to be irrecoverably lost by disuse,
and regard its pronunciation as one of the Mysteries that will be revealed
at the coming of their Messiah. And they attribute its loss to the
illegality of applying the Masoretic points to so sacred a Name, by which a
knowledge of the proper vowels is forgotten. It is even said, in the Gemara
of Abodah Zara, that God permitted a celebrated Hebrew Scholar to be burned
by a Roman Emperor, because he had been heard to pronounce the Sacred Name
The Jews feared that the Heathen would get possession of the Name: and
therefore, in their copies of the Scriptures, they wrote it in the
Samaritan character, instead of the Hebrew or Chaldaeic, that the adversary
might not make an improper use of it: for they believed it capable of
working miracles; and held that the wonders in Egypt were performed by
Moses, in virtue of this name being engraved on his rod: and that any
person who knew the true pronunciation would be able to do as much as he did.
Josephus says it was unknown until God communicated it to Moses in the
wilderness: and that it was lost through the wickedness of man.
The followers of Mahomet have a tradition that there is a secret name of
the Deity which possesses wonderful properties; and that the only method of
becoming acquainted with it, is by being initiated into the Mysteries of
the Ism Abla.
H.'.O.'.M.'. was the first framer of the new religion among the Persians,
and His Name was Ineffable.
AMUN, among the Egyptians, was a name pronounceable by none save the Priests.
The old Germans adored God with profund reverence, without during to name
Him, or to worship Him in Temples.
The Druids expressed the name of Deity by the letters O.'.I.'.W.'.
Among all the nations of primitive antiquity, the doctrine of the
immortality of the soul was not a mere probable hypothesis, needing
laborious researches and diffuse argumentation to produce conviction of its
truth. Nor can we hardly give it the name of Faith; for it was a lively
certainty, like the feeling of one's own existence and identity, and of
what is actually present; exerting its influence on all sublunary affairs,
and the motive of mightier deeds and enterprises than any mere earthly
interest could inspire
Even the doctrine of transmigration of souls, universal among the Ancient
Hindus and Egyptians, rested on a basis of the old primitive religion, and
was connected with a sentiment purely religious. It involved this noble
element of truth: That since man had gone astray, and wandered far from
God, he must needs make many efforts, and undergo a long and painful
pilgrimage, before he could rejoin the Source of all Perfection: and the
firm conviction and positive certainty, that nothing defective, impure, or
defiled with earthy stains, could enter the pure region of perfect spirits,
or be eternally united to God; wherefore the soul had to pass through long
trials and many purifications before it could attain that blissful end. And
the end and aim of all these systems of philosophy was the final
deliverance of the soul from the old calamity, the dreaded fate and
frightful lot of being compelled to wander through the dark regions of
nature and the various forms of the brute creation, ever changing its
terrestrial shape, and its union with God, which they held to be the lofty
destiny of the wise and virtuous soul.
Pythagoras gave to the doctrine of the transmigration of souls that meaning
which the wise Egyptians gave to it in their mysteries. He never taught the
doctrine in that literal sense in which it was understood by the people. Of
that literal doctrine not the least vestige is to be found in such of his
symbols as remain, nor in his precepts collected by his disciple Lysias. He
held that men always remain, in their essence, such as they were created;
and can degrade themselves only by vice, and ennoble themselves only by virtue.
Hierocles, one of his most zealous and celebrated disciples, expressly says
that he who believes that the soul of man, after his death, will enter the
body of a beast, for his vices, or become a plant for his stupidity, is
deceived; and is absolutely ignorant of the eternal form of the soul, which
can never change; for, always remaining man, it is said to become God or
beast, through virtue or vice, though it can become neither one nor the
other by nature, but solely by resemblance of its inclinations to theirs.
And Timaeus of Locria, another disciple, says that to alarm men and prevent
them from committing crimes, they menaced them with strange humiliations
and punishments; even declaring that their souls would pass into new
bodies,--that of a coward into the body of a deer; that of a ravisher into
the body of a wolf; that of a murderer into the body of some still more
ferocious animal; and that of an impure sensualist into the body of a hog.
So, too, the doctrine is explained in the Phaedo. And Lysias
says, that after the soul, purified of its crimes, has left the body and
returned to Heaven, it is no longer subject to change or death, but enjoys
an eternal felicity. According to the Indians, it returned to, and became a
part of, the universal soul which animates everything.
The Hindus held that Buddha descended on earth to raise all human beings up
to the perfect state. He will ultimately succeed, and all, himself
included, be merged in Unity.
Vishnu is to judge the world at the last day. It is to be consumed by fire:
The Sun and Moon are to lose their light; the Stars to fall; and a New
Heaven and Earth to be created.
The legend of the fall of the Spirits, obscured and distorted, is preserved
in the Hindu Mythology. And their traditions acknowledged, and they
revered, the succession of the first ancestors of mankind, or the Holy
Patriarchs of the primitive world, under the name of the Seven Great
RISHIS, or Sages of hoary antiquity; though they invested their history
with a cloud of fictions.
The Egyptians held that the soul was immortal; and that Osiris was to judge
And thus reads the Persian legend:
"After Ahriman shall have ruled the world until the end of time, SOSIOSCH,
the promised Redeemer, will come and annihilate the power of the DEVS (or
Evil Spirits), awaken the dead, and sit in final judgment upon spirits and
men. After that the comet Gurzsher will he thrown down, and a general
conflagration take place, which will consume the whole world. The remains
of the earth will then sink down into Duzakh, and become for three periods
a place of punishment for the wicked. Then, by degrees all will be
pardoned, even Ahriman and the Devs, and admitted the regions of bliss, and
thus there will be a new Heaven an new earth."
In the doctrines of Lamaism also, we find, obscured, and partly concealed
in fiction, fragments of the primitive truth. For, according to that faith,
"There is to be a final judgment before ESLIK KHAN: The good are to be
admitted to Paradise, the bad to be banished to hell, where there are eight
regions burning hot and eight freezing cold."
In the Mysteries, wherever they were practised, was taught that truth of
the primitive revelation, the existence of One Great Being, Infinite and
pervading the Universe, Who was there worshipped without superstition; and
His marvellous nature, essence and attributes taught to the Initiates;
while the vulgar attributed His works to Secondary Gods, personified, and
isolated from Him in fabulous independence.
These truths were covered from the common people as with a veil; and the
Mysteries were carried into every country, that, without disturbing the
popular beliefs, truth, the arts, and the sciences might be known to those
who were capable of understanding them, and maintaining the true doctrine
incorrupt; which the people, prone to superstition and idolatry, have in no
age been able to do; nor, as many strange aberrations and superstitions of
the present day prove, any more now than heretofore. For we need but point
to the doctrines of so many sects that degrade the Creator to the rank, and
assign to Him the passions of humanity, to prove that now, as always, the
old truths must be committed to a few, or they will be overlaid with
fiction and error, and irretrievably lost.
Though Masonry is identical with the Ancient Mysteries, it is so in this
qualified sense; that it presents but an imperfect image of their
brilliancy; the ruins only of their grandeur, and a system that has
experienced progressive alterations, the limits of social events and
political circumstances. Upon leaving Egypt, the Mysteries were modified by
the habits of the different nations among whom they were introduced. Though
originally more moral and political than religious, they soon became the
heritage, as it were of the priests, and essentially religious, though in
reality limiting the sacerdotal power, by teaching the intelligent laity
the folly and absurdity of the creeds of the populace. They were therefore
necessarily changed by the religious systems of the countries into which
they were transplanted. In Greece, they were the Mysteries of Ceres; in
Rome, of Bona Dea, the Good Goddess; in Gaul, the School of Mars; in
Sicily, the Academy of the Sciences; among the Hebrews, they partook of the
rites and ceremonies of a religion which placed all the powers of
government, and all the knowledge, in the hands of the Priests and Levites.
The pagodas of India, the retreats of the Magi of Persia and Chaldea, and
the pyramids of Egypt, were no longer the sources at which men drank in
knowledge. Each people, at all informed, had its Mysteries. After a time
the Temples of Greece and the School of Pythagoras lost their reputation,
and Freemasonry took their place
Masonry, when properly expounded, is at once the interpretation of the
great book of nature, the recital of physical and astronomical phenomena,
the purest philosophy, and the place of deposit, where, as in a Treasury,
are kept in safety all the great truths of the primitive revelation, that
form the basis of all religions. In the modern Degrees three things are to
he recognized: The image of primeval times, the tableau of the efficient
causes of the Universe, and the book in which are written the morality of
all peoples, and the code by which they must govern themselves if they
would be prosperous.
The Kabalistic doctrine was long the religion of the Sage and the Savant;
because, like Freemasonry, it incessantly tends toward spiritual
perfection, and the fusion of the creeds and Nationalities of Mankind. In
the eyes of the Kabalist, all men are his brothers; and their relative
ignorance is, to him, but a reason for instructing them. There were
illustrious Kabalists among the Egyptians and Greeks, whose doctrines the
Orthodox Church has accepted; and among the Arabs were many, whose wisdom
was not slighted by the Mediaeval Church.
The Sages proudly wore the name of Kabalists. The Kabalah embodied a noble
philosophy, pure, not mysterious, but symbolic. It taught the doctrine of
the Unity of God, the art of knowing and explaining the essence and
operations of the Supreme Being, of spiritual powers and natural forces,
and of determining their action by symbolic figures; by the arrangement of
the alphabet, the combinations of numbers, the inversion of letters in
writing and the concealed meanings which they claimed to discover therein.
The Kabalah is the key of the occult sciences; and the Gnostics were born
of the Kabalists.
The science of numbers represented not only arithmetical qualities, but
also all grandeur, all proportion. By it we necessarily arrive at the
discovery of the Principle or First Cause of things, called at the present
day THE ABSOLUTE.
Or UNITY,--that loftiest term to which all philosophy directs itself; that
imperious necessity of the human mind, that pivot round which it is
compelled to group the aggregate of its ideas: Unity, this source, this
centre of all systematic order, this principle of existence, this central
point, unknown in its essence, but manifest in its effects; Unity, that
sublime centre to which the chain of causes necessarily ascends, was the
august Idea toward which all the ideas of Pythagoras converged. He refused
the title of Sage, which means one who knows. He invented, and applied to
himself that of Philosopher, signifying one who is fond of or studies
things secret and occult. The astronomy which he mysteriously taught, was
astrology: his science of numbers was based on Kabalistical principles.
The Ancients, and Pythagoras himself, whose real principles have not been
always understood, never meant to ascribe to numbers, that is to say, to
abstract signs, any special virtue. But the Sages of Antiquity concurred in
recognizing a ONE FIRST CAUSE (material or spiritual) of the existence of
the Universe. Thence, UNITY became the symbol of the Supreme Deity. It was
made to express, to represent God; but without attributing to the mere
number ONE any divine or supernatural virtue.
28º - Knight of the Sun or Prince Adept ( Part 2 )
The Pythagorean ideas as to particular numbers are partially expressed in
LECTURE OF THE KABALISTS.
Qu.'. Why did you seek to be received a Knight of the Kabalah ?
Ans.. To know, by means of numbers, the admirable harmony which there is
between nature and religion.
Qu.'. How were you announced?
Ans.'. By twelve raps.
Qu.'. What do they signify?
Ans.'. The twelve bases of our temporal and spiritual happiness.
Qu.'. What is a Kabalist?
Ans.'. A man who has learned, by tradition, the Sacerdotal Art and the
Qu.'. What means the device, Omnia in numeris sita sunt?
Ans.'. That everything lies veiled in numbers.
Qu.'. Explain me that.
Ans.'. I will do so, as far as the number 12. Your sagacity will discern
Qu.'. What signifies the unit in the number 10?
Ans.'. GOD, creating and animating matter, expressed by 0, which, alone, is
of no value.
Qu.'. What does the unit mean?
Ans.'. In the moral order, a Word incarnate in the bosom of a virgin--or
religion.... In the physical, a spirit embodied in the virgin earth--or nature.
Qu.'. What do you mean by the number two?
Ans.'. In the moral order, man and woman.... In the phyiscal, the active
and the passive.
Qu.'. What do you mean by the number 3?
Ans.'. In the moral order, the three theological virtues.... In the
physical, the three principles of bodies.
Qu.'. What do you mean by the number 4?
Ans.'. The four cardinal virtues.... The four elementary qualities.
Qu.'. What do you mean by the number 5?
Ans.'. The quintessence of religion.... The quintessence of matter.
Qu.'. What do you mean by the nwnber 6?
Ans.'. The theological cube . . . The physical cube.
Qu.'. What do you mean by the number 7?
Ans.'. The seven sacraments . . . The seven planets.
Qu.'. What do you mean by the number 8?
Ans.'. The small number of Elus . . . The small number of wise men.
Qu.'. What do you mean by the number 9?
Ans.'. The exaltation of religion . . . The exaltation of matter.
Qu.'. What do you mean by the number 10?
Ans.'. The ten commandments . . . The ten precepts of nature.
Qu.'. What do you mean by the number 11?
Ans.'. The multiplication of religion . . . The multiplication of nature.
Qu.'. What do you mean by the number 12?
Ans.'. The twelve Articles of Faith; the twelve Apostles, foundation of the
Holy City, who preachcd throughout the whole world, for our happiness and
spiritual joy . . . The twelve operations of nature: The twelve signs of
the Zodiac, foundation of the Primum Mobile, extending it throughout the
Universe for our temporal felicity.
[The Rabbi (President of the Sanhedrim) adds: From all that you have said,
it results that the unit develops itself in 2, is completed in three
internally, and so produces 4 externally; whence, through 6, 7, 8, 9, it
arrives at 5, half of the spherical number 10, to ascend, passing through
11, to 12, and to raise itself, by the number 4 times 10, to the number 6
times 12, the final term and summit of our eternal happiness.]
Qu.'. What is the generative number?
Ans.'. In the Divinity, it is the unit; in created things, the number 2:
Because the Divinity, 1, engenders 2, and in created things 2 engenders 1.
Qu.'. What is the most majestic number?
Ans.'. 3, because it denotes the triple divine essence.
Qu.'. What is the most mysterious number?
Ans.'. 4, because it contains all the mysteries of nature.
Qu.'. What is the most occult number?
Ans.'. 5, because it is inclosed in the centre of the series.
Qu.'. What is the most salutary number?
Ans.'. 6, because it contains the source of our spiritual and corporeal
Qu.'. What is the most fortunate number?
Ans.'. 7, because it leads us to the decade, the perfect number.
Qu.'. Which is the number most to be desired?
Ans.'. 8, because he who possesses it, is of the number of the Elus and Sages.
Qu.'. Which is the most sublime number?
Ans.'. 9, because by it religion and nature are exalted.
Qu.'. Which is the most perfect number?
Ans.'. 10, because it includes unity, which created everything, and zero,
symbol of matter and chaos, whence everything emerged.
In its figures it comprehends the created and uncreated, the commencement
and the end, power and force, life and annihilation. By the study of this
number, we find the relations of all things; the power of the Creator, the
faculties of the creature, the Alpha and Omega of divine knowledge.
Qu.'. Which is the most multiplying number?
Ans.'. 11, because with the possession of two units, we arrive at the
multiplication of things.
Qu.'. Which is the most solid number?
Ans.'. 12, because it is the foundation of our spiritual and temporal
Qu.'. Which is the favorite number of religion and nature?
Ans.'. 4 times 10, because it enables us, rejecting everything impure,
eternally to enjoy the number 6 times 12, term and summit of our felicity.
Qu.'. What is the meaning of the square?
Ans.'. It is the symbol of the four elements contained in the triangle, or
the emblem of the three chemical principles: these things united form
absolute unity in the primal matter.
Qu.'. What is the meaning of the centre of the circumference?
Ans.'. It signifies the universal spirit, vivifying centre of nature.
Qu.'. What do you mean by the quadrature of the circle?
Ans.'. The investigation of the quadrature of the circle indicates the
knowledge of the four vulgar elements, which are themselves composed of
elementary spirits or chief principles; as the circle, though round, is
composed of lines, which escape the sight, and are seen only by the mind.
Qu.'. What is the profoundest meaning of the figure 3?
Ans.'. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. From the action of these
three results the triangle within the square; and from the seven angles,
the decade or perfect number.
Qu.'. Which is the most confused figure?
Ans.'. Zero,--the emblem of chaos, formless mixture of the elements.
Qu.'. What do the four devices of the Degree signify?
Ans.'. That we are to hear, see, be silent, and enjoy our happiness.
The unit is the symbol of identity, equality, existence, conservation and
general harmony; the Central Fire, the Point within the Circle.
Two, or the duad, is the symbol of diversity, inequality, division,
separation, and vicissitudes.
The figure 1 signifies the living man [a body standing upright] man being
the only living being possessed of this faculty. Adding to it a head, we
have the letter P, the sign of Paternity, Creative Power; and with a
further addition, R, signifying man in motion, going, Iens, Iturus.
The Duad is the origin of contrasts. It is the imperfect condition into
which, according to the Pythagoreans, a being falls, when he detaches
himself from the Monad, or God. Spiritual beings, emanating from God, are
enveloped in the duad, and therefore receive only illusory impressions.
As formerly the number ONE designated harmony, order, or the Good Principle
(the ONE and ONLY GOD, expressed in Latin Solus, whence the words Sol,
Soleil, symbol of this God), the number Two expressed the contrary idea.
There commenced the fatal knowledge of good and evil. Everything double,
false opposed to the single and sole reality, was expressed by the Binary
number. It expressed also that state of contrariety in which nature exists,
where everything is double; night and day, light and darkness, cold and
heat, wet and dry, health and sickness, error and truth, one and the other
sex, etc. Hence the Romans dedicated the second month in the year to Pluto,
the God of Hell, and the second day of that month to the manes of the dead.
The number One, with the Chinese, signified unity, harmony order, the Good
Principle, or God; Two, disorder, duplicity, falsehood. That people, in the
earliest ages, based their whole philosophical system on the two primary
figures or lines, one straight and unbroken, and the other broken or
divided into two; doubling which, by placing one under the other, and
trebling by placing three under each other, they made the four symbols and
eight Koua; which referred to the natural elements, and the primary
principles of all things, and served symbolically or scientifically to
express them. Plato terms unity and duality the original elements of
nature, and first principles of all existence: and the oldest sacred book
of the Chinese says: "The Great First Principle has produced two equations
and differences, or primary rules of existence; but the two primary rules
or two oppositions, namely YN and YANG, or repose and motion, have produced
four signs symbols, and the four symbols have produced the eight KOUA or
The interpretation of the Hermetic fables shows, among every ancient
people, in their principal gods, first, 1, the Creating Monad, then 3, then
3 times 3, 3 times 9, and 3 times 27. This triple progression has for its
foundation the three ages of Nature, the Past, the Present, and the Future;
or the three degrees of universal generation. . . Birth, Life, Death. . .
Beginning, middle, end.
The Monad was male, because its action produces no change in itself, but
only out of itself. It represented the creative principle.
The Duad, for a contrary reason, was female, ever changing by addition,
subtraction, or multiplication. It represents matter capable of form.
The union of the Monad and Duad produces the Triad, signifying the world
formed by the creative principle out of matter. Pythagoras represented the
world by the right-angled triangle, in which the squares of the two
shortest sides are equal, added together, to the square of the longest one;
as the world, as formed, is equal to the cleative cause, and matter clothed
The ternary is the first of the unequal numbers. The Triad, mysterious
number, which plays so great a part in the traditions of Asia and the
philosophy of Plato, image of the Supreme Being, includes in itself the
properties of the first two numbers. It was, to the Philosophers, the most
excellent and favorite number: a mysterious type, revered by all antiquity,
and consecrated in the Mysteries; wherefore there are but three essential
Degrees among Masons; who venerate, in the triangle, the most august
mystery, that of the Sacred Triad, object of their homage and study.
In geometry, a line cannot represent a body absolutely perfect. As little
do two lines constitute a figure demonstratively perfect. But three lines
form, by their junction, the TRIANGLE, or the first figure regularly
perfect; and this is why it has served and still serves to characterize The
Eternal; Who, infinitely perfect in His nature, is, as Universal Creator,
the first Being, and consequently the first Perfection.
The Quadrangle or Square, perfect as it appears, being but the second
perfection, can in no wise represent God; Who is the first. It is to be
noted that the name of God in Latin and French (Deus, Dieu), has for its
initial the Delta or Greek Triangle. Such is the reason, among ancients and
moderns, for the consecration of tne Triangle, whose three sides are
emblems of the three Kingdoms, or Nature, or God. In the centre is the
Hebrew JOD, the Animating Spirit of Fire, the generative principle,
represented by the letter G., initial of the name of Deity in the languages
of the North, and the meaning whereof is Generation.
The first side of the Triangle, offered to the study of the Apprentice, is
the mineral kingdom, symbolized by Tub.'.
The second side, the subject of the meditations of the Fellow Craft, is the
vegetable kingdom, symbolized by Schib.'. (an ear of corn). In this reign
begins the Generation of bodies; and this is why the letter G., in its
radiance, is presented to the eyes of the adept.
The third side, the study whereof is devoted to the animal kingdom, and
completes the instruction of the Master, is symbolized by Mach.'. (Son of
The figure 3 symbolizes the Earth. It is a figure of the terrestrial
bodies. The 2, upper half of 3, symbolizes the vegetable world, the lower
half being hidden from our sight.
Three also referred to harmony, friendship, peace, concord, and temperance;
and was so highly esteemed among the Pythagoreans that they called it
Three, four, ten, and twelve were sacred numbers among the Etrurians, as
they were among the Jews, Egyptians, and Hindus.
The name of Deity, in many Nations, consisted of three letters among the
Greeks,I.'.A.'. Q.'.; among the Persians, H.'.O.'.M.'. among the Hindus,
AUM; among the Scandinavians, I.'.O.'.W.'. On the upright Tablet of the
King, discovered at Nimroud, no less than five of the thirteen names of the
Great Gods consist of three letters each,--ANU, SAN, YAV, BAR, and BEI,.
The quaternary is the most perfect number, and the root of other numbers,
and of all things. The tetrad expresses the first mathematical power. Four
represents also the generative power, from which all combinations are
derived. The Initiates considered it the emblem of Movement and the
Infinite, representing everything that is neither corporeal nor sensible.
Pythagoras communicated it to his disciples as a symbol of the Eternal and
Creative Principle, under the name of Quaternary, the Ineffable Name of
God, which signifies Source of everything that has received existence; and
which, in Hebrew, is composed of four letters.
In the Quaternary we find the first solid figure, the universal symbol of
immortality, the pyramid. The Gnostics claimed that the whole edifice of
their science rested on a square whose angles were . . . Silence:
Profundity: Intelligence; and Truth. For if the Triangle, figured by the
number 3, forms the triangular base of the pyramid, it is unity which forms
its point or summit.
Lysias and Timaeus of Locria said that not a single thing could be named,
which did not depend on the quaternary as its root.
There is, according to the Pythagoreans, a connection between the gods and
numbers, which constitutes the kind of Divination called Arithmomancy. The
soul is a number: it is moved of itself: it contains in itself the
Matter being represented by the number 9, or 3 times 3, and the Immortal
Spirit having for its essential hieroglyphic the quaternary or the number
4, the Sages said that Man, having gone astray and become entangled in an
inextricable labyrinth, in going from four to nine, the only way which he
could take to emerge from these deceitful paths, these disastrous detours,
and the abyss of evil into which he had plunged, was to retrace his steps,
and go from nine to four.
The ingenious and mystical idea which caused the Triangle to be venerated,
was applied to the figure 4 (4). It was said that it expressed a living
being, I, bearer of the Triangle, the emblem of God; i. e., man bearing
with himself a Divine principle.
Four was a divine number; it referred to the Deity, and many Ancient
Nations gave God a name of four letters; as the Hebrews, the Egyptians
AMUN, the Persians SURA, the Greeks, and the Latins DEUS. This was the
Tetragrammaton of the Hebrews, and the Pythagoreans called it Tetractys,
and swore their most solemn oath by it. So too ODIN among the
Scandinavians, ZEYS among the Greeks, PHTA among the Egyptians, THOTH among
the Phoenicians, and AS-UR and NEBO among the Assyrians. The list might be
The number 5 was considered as mysterious, because it was compounded of the
Binary, Symbol of the False and Double, and the Ternary, so interesting in
its results. It thus energetically expresses the state of imperfection, of
order and disorder, of happiness and misfortune, of life and death, which
we see upon the earth. To the Mysterious Societies it offered the fearful
image of the Bad Principle, bringing trouble into the inferior order,--in a
word, the Binary acting in the Ternary.
Under another aspect it was the emblem of marriage; because it is composed
of 2, the first equal number, and of 3, the first unequal number. Wherefore
Juno, the Goddess of Marriage, had for her hieroglyphic the nwnber 5.
Moreover, it has one of the properties of the number 9, that of reproducing
itself, when multiplied by itself: there being always a 5 on the right hand
of the product; a result which led to its use as a symbol of material changes.
The ancients represented the world by the number 5. A reason for it, given
by Diodorus, is, that it represents earth, water, a fire, and ether or
spirit. Thence the origin of (5) and the Universe, as the whole.
The number 5 designated the universal quintessence, and Symbolized, by its
form the vital essence, the animating spirit which flows [serpentat]
through all nature. In fact, this ingenious figure is the union of the two
Greek accents '', placed over those vowels which ought to be or ought not
to be aspirated. The first sign ' bears the name of potent spirit; and
signifies the Superior Spirit, the Spirit of God aspirated (spiratus),
respired by man. The second sign ' is styled mild spirit, and represents
the secondary spirit, the spirit purely human.
The triple triangle, a figure of five lines uniting in five points, was
among the Pythagoreans an emblem of Health.
It is the Pentalpha of Pythagoras, or Pentangle of Solomon; has five lines
and five angles; and is, among Masons, the outline or origin of the
five-pointed Star, and an emblem of Fellowship.
The number 6 was, in the Ancient Mysteries, a striking emblem of nature; as
presenting the six dimensions of all bodies: the six lines which make up
their form, viz., the four lines of direction, toward the North, South,
East, and West; with the two lines of height and depth, responding to the
zenith and nadir. The sages applied the senary to the physical man; while
the septenary was, for them, the symbol of his immortal spirit.
The hieroglyphical senary (the double equilateral triangle) the symbol of
Six is also an emblem of health, and the symbol of justic; because it is
the first perfect number; that is, the first whose aliquot parts (1/2, 1/3,
1/6, or 3, 2, and 1), added together, make itself.
Ormuzd created six good spirits, and Ahriman six evil ones. These typify
the six Summer and the six Winter months.
No number has ever been so universally in repute as the septenary. Its
celebrity is due, no doubt, to the planets being seven in number. It
belongs also to sacred things. The Pythagoreans regarded it as formed of
the numbers 3 and 4; the first whereof was, in their eyes, the image of the
three material elements, and the second the principle of everything that is
neither corporeal nor sensible. It presented them, from that point of view,
the emblem of everything that is perfect.
Considered as composed of 6 and unity, it serves to designate the invisible
centre or soul of everything; because no body exists, of which six lines do
not constitute the form, nor without a seventh interior point, as the
centre and reality of the body, whereof the external dimensions give only
The numerous applications of the septenary confirmed the ancient sages in
the use of this symbol. Moreover, they exalted the properties of the number
7, as having, in a subordinate manner, the perfection of the unit: for if
the unit is uncreated, if no number produces it, the seven is also not
engendered by any number contained in the interval between 1 and 10. The
number 4 occupies an arithmetical middle-ground between the unit and 7,
inasmuch as it is as much over 1, as it is under 7, the difference each way
The number 7, among the Egyptians, symbolized life; and this is why the
letter Z of the Greeks was the initial of the verb I live; and Jupiter,
Father of Life.
The number 8, or the octary, is composed of the sacred numbers 3 and 5. Of
the heavens, of the seven planets, and of the sphere of the fixed stars, or
of the eternal unity and the mysterious number 7, is composed the ogdoade,
the number 8, the first cube of equal numbers, regarded as sacred in the
The Gnostic ogdoade had eight stars, which represented the eight Cabiri of
Samothrace, the eight Egyptian and Phoenician principles, the eight gods of
Xenocrates, the eight angles of the cubic stone.
The number eight symbolizes perfection: and its figure, 8 or (infinity)
indicates the perpetual and regular course of the Universe.
It is the first cube (2 X 2 X 2), and signifies friendship prudence,
counsel, and justice. It was a symbol of the primeval law which regarded
all men as equal.
The novary, or triple ternary. If the number three was celebrated among the
ancient sages, that of three times three had no less celebrity; because,
according to them, each of the three elements which constitute our bodies
is ternary: the water containing earth and fire; the earth containing
igneous and aqueous particles; and the fire being tempered by globules of
water terrestrial corpuscles which serve to feed it. No one of the three
elements being entirely separated from the others, all material beings
composed of these three elements, whereof each is triple, may be designated
by the figurative number of three times three, which has become the symbol
of all formations of bodies. Hence the name of ninth envelope, given to
matter. Every material extension, every circular line, has for
representative sign the number nine, among the Pythagoreans; who had
observed the property which this number possesses, of reproducing itself
incessantly and entire, in every multiplication; thus offering to the mind
a very striking emblem of matter which is incessantly composed before our
eyes, after having undergone a thousand decompositions.
The number nine was consecrated to the Spheres and the Muses. It is the
sign of every circumference; because a circle of 360 degrees is equal to 9,
that is to say, 3 + 6 + 0 = 9. Nevertheless, the ancients regarded this
number with a sort of terror: they considered it a bad presage; as the
symbol of versatility, of change and the emblem of the frailty of human
affairs. Wherefore they avoided all numbers where nine appears, and chiefly
81, the product of 9 multiplied by itself, and the addition whereof, 8 + 1,
again presents the number 9.
As the figure of the number 6 was the symbol of the terrestrial globe,
animated by a divine spirit, the figure of the number 9 symbolized the
earth, under the influence of the Evil Principle thence the terror it
inspired. Nevertheless, according to Kabalists, the figure 9 symbolizes the
generative egg, or the image of a little globular being, from whose lower
side seems to flow its spirit of life.
The Ennead, signifying an aggregate of 9 things or persons, is the first
square of unequal numbers.
Every one is aware of the singular properties of the number 9, which,
multiplied by itself or any other number whatever, gives a result whose
final sum is always 9, or always divisible by 9.
Nine, multiplied by each of the ordinary numbers, produces an arithmetical
progression, each member whereof, composed of two figures, presents a
remarkable fact; for example:
The first line of figures gives the regular series, from 1 to 10.
The second reproduces this line doubly; first ascending, from the first
figure of 18, and then returning from the second figure of 81.
It follows, from the curious fact, that the half of the numbers which
compose this progression represents, in inverse order, the figures of the
9...18..27..36..45 = 135 = 9..and 1 + 3 + 5 = 45 =9
90..81..72..63..54 = 360 = 9
-- -- -- -- -- --- --
99 99 99 99 99 495 = 18 = 9.
So 9^2 = 81. . .81^2 = 6561 = 18 = 9. . .9 X 2 = 18. . .18^2 = 324 = 9.
9 X 3 = 27... 27^2 = 729 = 18 = .9 9 X 4 = 36...36^2=1296 = 18 = 9.
And so with every multiple of 9--say 45, 54, 63, 72, etc.
Thus 9 X 8 = 72. . .72^2 = 5184 = 18 = 9.
18 27 36 72
18 27 36 72
-- -- -- --
144 = 9 189 = 18 = 9 216 = 9 144 = 9
18 = 9 54 = 9 108 = 9 504 = 9
---- -- --- --- --- --- -- --- ---
324 = 9...18=9 729= 18= 9 1296= 18=9 5184 = 18 =9
864 = 18
108 = 9
11664 = 18 = 9
And so the cubes:
27^2 = 729 X 729 = 18 = 9 18^2 = 324 = 9 9^2 = 81
81^2 = 6561 = 18 = 9
729 324 6561
6561 = 18 = 9 1296 = 18 = 9 6561 = 18 = 9
1458 = 18 = 9 648 = 18 = 9 39366 = 27 = 9
5103 = 9 972 = 18 = 9 32805 = 18 = 9
39366 = 27 = 9
531441 = 18 = 9 104976 = 27 = 9 43,046,721 = 27 = 9
The number 10, or the Denary, is the measure of eveything and reduces
multiplied numbers to unity. Containing all the numerical and harmonic
relations, and all the properties of numbers which precede it, it concludes
the Abacus or Table Pythagoras. To the Mysterious Societies, this number
typified the assemblage of all the wonders of the Universe. They wrote it
thus (theta), that is to say, Unity in the middle of Zero, as the centre of
a circle, or symbol of Deity. They saw in this figure everything that
should lead to reflection: the centre, the ray, and the circumference,
represented to them God, Man, and the Universe.
This number was, among the Sages, a sign of concord, love, and peace. To
Masons it is a sign of union and good faith; because it is expressed by
joining two hands, or the Master's grip, when the number of fingers gives
10: and it was represented by the Tetractys of Pythagoras.
The number 12, like the number 7, is celebrated in the worship of nature.
The two most famous divisions of the heavens, that by 7, which is that of
the planets, and that by 12, which is that of the Signs of the Zodiac, are
found upon the religious monuments of all the peoples of the Ancient World,
even to the remote extremes of the East. Although Pythagoras does not speak
the number 12, it is none the less a sacred number. It is image of the
Zodiac; and consequently that of the Sun, which rules over it.
Such are the ancient ideas in regard to those numbers which so often appear
in Masonry; and rightly understood, as the old Sages understood them, they
contain many a pregnant lesson.
Before we enter upon the final lesson of Masonic Philosophy, we will delay
a few moments to repeat to you the Christian interpretations of the Blue
In the First Degree, they said, there are three symbols to be applied.
1st. Man, after the fall, was left naked and defenceless against the just
anger of the Deity. Prone to evil, the human race staggered blindly onward
into the thick darkness of unbelief, bound fast by the strong cable-tow of
the natural and sinful will. Moral corruption was followed by physical
misery. Want and destitution invaded the earth. War and Famine and
Pestilence filled up the measure of evil, and over the sharp flints of
misfortune and wretchedness man toiled with naked and bleeding feet. This
condition of blindness, destitution, misery, and bondage, from which to
save the world the Redeemer came, is symbolized by the condition of the
candidate, when he is brought up for the first time to the door of the Lodge.
2d. Notwithstanding the death of the Redeemer, man can be saved only by
faith, repentance, and reformation. To repent, he must feel the sharp sting
of conscience and remorse, like a sword piercing his bosom. His confidence
in his guide, whom he is told to follow and fear no danger; his trust in
God, which he is caused to profess; and the point of the sword that is
pressed against his naked left breast over the heart, are symbolical of the
faith, repentance and reformation necessary to bring him to the light of a
life in Christ the Crucified.
3d. Having repented and reformed, and bound himself to the service of God
by a firm promise and obligation, the light of Christian hope shines down
into the darkness of the heart of the humble penitent, and blazes upon his
pathway to Heaven. And this is symbolized by the candidate's being brought
to light, after he is obligated, by the Worshipful Master, who in that is a
symbol of the Redeemer, and so brings him to light, with the help of the
brethren, as He taught the Word with the aid of the Apostles.
In the Second Degree there are two symbols:
4th. The Christian assumes new duties toward God and his fellows. Toward
God, of love, gratitude, and veneration, and an anxious desire to serve and
glorify Him; toward his fellows, of kindness, sympathy, and justice. And
this assumption of duty this entering upon good works, is symbolized by the
Fellow-Craft's obligation; by which, bound as an apprentice to secrecy
merely, and set in the Northeast corner of the Lodge, he descends as a
Fellow-Craft into the body of the brethren, and assumes the active duties
of a good Mason.
5th. The Christian, reconciled to God, sees the world in a new light. This
great Universe is no longer a mere machine, wound up and set going six
thousand or sixty millions years ago, and left to run on afterward forever,
by virtue of a law of mechanics created at the beginning, without further
care or consideration on the part of the Deity; but it has now become to
him a great emanation from God, the product of His thought, not a mere dead
machine, but a thing of life, over which God watches continually, and every
movement of which is immediately produced by His present action, the law of
harmony being the essence of the Deity, re-enacted every instant. And this
is symbolized by the imperfect instruction given in the Fellow-Craft's
Degree, in the sciences, and particularly geometry, connected as the latter
is with God Himself in the mind of a Mason, because the same letter,
suspended in the East, represents both; and astronomy, or the knowledge of
the laws of motion and harmony that govern the spheres, is but a portion of
the wider science of geometry. It is so symbolized, because it is here, in
the Second Degree, that the candidate first receives an other than moral
There are also two symbols in the Third Degree, which, with the 3 in the
first, and 2 in the second, make the 7.
6th. The candidate, after passing through the first part of the ceremony,
imagines himself a Master; and is surprised to be informed that as yet he
is not, and that it is uncertain whether he ever will be. He is told of a
difficult and dangerous path yet to be travelled, and is advised that upon
that journey it depends whether he will become a Master. This is symbolical
of that which our Saviour said to Nicodemus, that, notwithstanding his
morals might be beyond reproach, he could not enter the Kingdom of Heaven
unless he were born again; symbolically dying, and again entering the world
regenerate, like a spotless infant.
7th. The murder of Hiram, his burial, and his being raised again by the
Master, are symbols, both of the death, burial, and resurrection of the
Redeemer; and of the death and burial in sins of the natural man, and his
being raised again to a new life, or born again, by the direct action of
the Redeemer; after Morality (symbolized by the Entered Apprentice's grip),
and Philosophy (symbolized by the grip of the Fellow-Craft), had failed to
raise him. That of the Lion of the House of Judah is the strong grip, never
to be broken, with which Christ, of the royal line of that House, has
clasped to Himself the whole human race, and embraces them in His wide arms
as closely and affectionately as brethren embrace each other on the five
points of fellowship.
As Entered Apprentices and Fellow-Crafts, Masons are taught to imitate the
laudable example of those Masons who labored at the building of King
Solomon's Temple; and to plant firmly and deep in their hearts those
foundation-stones of principle, truth, justice, temperance, fortitude,
prudence, and charity, on which to erect that Christian character which all
the storms of misfortune and all the powers and temptations of Hell shall
not prevail against; those feelings and noble affections which are the most
proper homage that can be paid to the Grand Architect and Great Father of
the Universe, and which make the heart a living temple builded to Him: when
the unruly passions are made to submit to rule and measurement, and their
excesses are struck off with the gavel of self-restraint; and when every
action and every principle is accurately corrected and adjusted by the
square of wisdom, the level of humility, and the plumb of justice.
The two columns, Jachin and Boaz, are the symbols of that profound faith
and implicit trust in God and the Redeemer that are the Christian's
strength; and of those good works by which alone that faith can be
established and made operative and effectual to salvation.
The three pillars that support the Lodge are symbols of a Christian's HOPE
in a future state of happiness; FAITH in the promises and the divine
character and mission of the Redeemer; and CHARITABLE JUDGMENT of other men.
The three murderers of Khir-Om symbolize Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas the
High-Priest, and Judas Iscariot: and the three blows given him are the
betrayal by the last, the refusal of Roman protection by Pilate, and the
condemnation by the High-Priest. They also symbolize the blow on the ear,
the scourging, and the crown of thorns. The twelve fellow-crafts sent in
search of the body are the twelve disciples, in doubt whether to believe
that the Redeemer would rise from the dead.
The Master's word, supposed to be lost, symbolizes the Christian faith and
religion, supposed to have been crushed and destroyed when the Saviour was
crucified, after Iscariot had betrayed Him, and Peter deserted Him, and
when the other disciples doubted whether He would arise from the dead; but
which rose from His tomb and flowed rapidly over the civilized world; and
so that which was supposed to be lost was found. It symbolizes also the
Saviour Himself; the WORD that was in the beginning--that was with God, and
that was God; the Word of life, that was made flesh and dwelt among us, and
was supposed to be lost, while He lay in the tomb, for three days, and His
disciples "as yet knew not the scripture that He must rise again from the
dead," and doubted when they heard of it, and were amazed and frightened
and still doubted when He appeared among them.
The bush of acacia placed at the head of the grave of Khir-Om is an emblem
of resurrection and immortality.
Such are the explanations of our Christian brethren; entitled,
like those of all other Masons, to a respectful consideration.
There is no pretence to infallibility in Masonry. It is not for us to
dictate to any man what he shall believe. We have hitherto, in the
instruction of the several Degrees, confined ourselves to aying before you
the great thoughts that have found expression in the different ages of the
world, leaving you to decide for yourself as to the orthodoxy or heterodoxy
of each, and what proportion of truth, if any, each contained. We shall
pursue no other course in this closing Philosophical instruction; in which
we propose to deal with the highest questions that have ever exercised the
human mind,--with the existence and the nature of a God, with the existence
and the natnre of the human soul, and with the relations of the divine and
human spirit with the merely material Universe. There can be no questions
more important to an intelligent being, none that have for him a more
direct and personal interest; and to this last word of Scottish Masonry we
invite your serious and attentive consideration. And, as what we shall now
say will be but the completion and rounding-off of what we have already
said in several of the preceding Degrees, in regard to the Old Thought and
the Ancient Philosophies, we hope that you have noted and not forgotten our
previous lessons, without which this would seem imperfect and fragmentary.
In its idea of rewarding a faithful and intelligent workman by conferring
upon him a knowledge of the True Word, Masonry has perpetuated a very great
truth, because it involves the proposition that the idea which a man forms
of God is always the most important element in his speculative theory of
the Universe, and in his particular practical plan of action for the
Church, the State, the community, the Family, and his own individual life.
It will ever make a vast difference in the conduct of a people in war or
peace, whether they believe the Supreme God to be a cruel Deity, delighting
in sacrifice and blood, or a God of Love; and an individual's speculative
theory as to the mode and extent of God's govermnent, and as to the nature
and reality of his own free-will and consequent responsibility, will needs;
have great influence in shaping the course of his life and conversation.
We see every day the vast influence of the popular idea of God. All the
great historical civilizations of the race have grown out of the national
ideas which were formed of God; or have been intimately connected with
those ideas. The popular Theology, which at first is only an abstract idea
in the heads of philosophers, by and by shows itself in the laws, and in
the punishments for crime, in the churches, the ceremonies and the
sacraments, the festivals and the fasts, the weddings, the baptisms and the
funerals, in the hospitals, the colleges, the schools, and all the social
charities, in the relations of husband and wife, parent and child, in the
daily work and the daily prayer of every man.
As the world grows in its development, it necessarily outgrows its ancient
ideas of God, which were only temporary and provisional. A man who has a
higher conception of God than those about him, and who denies that their
conception is God, is very likely to be called an Atheist by men who are
really far less believers in a God than he. Thus the Christians, who said
the Heathen idols were no Gods, were accounted Atheists by the People, and
accordingly put to death; and Jesus of Nazareth was crucified as an
unbelieving blasphemer, by the Jews.
There is a mere formal Atheism, which is a denial of God in terms, but not
in reality. A man says, There is no God; that is, no God that is
self-originated, or that never originated, but always WAS and HAD BEEN, who
is the cause of existence, who is the Mind and the Providence of the
Universe; and so the order, beauty, and harmony of the world of matter and
mind do not indicate any plan or purpose of Deity. But, he says, NATURE,--
meaning by that the whole sum-total of existence,-- that is powerful,
active, wise, and good; Nature is self-originated, or always was and had
been, the cause of its own existence, the mind of the Universe and the
Providence of itself. There is obviously a plan and purpose whereby order,
beauty, and harmony are brought about; but all that is the plan and purpose
In such cases, the absolute denial of God is only formal and not real. The
qualities of God are admitted, and amrmed to be real; and it is a mere
change of name to call the possessor of those qualities, Nature, and not
God. The real question is, whether such Qualities exist, as we call God;
and not, by what particular name we shall designate the Qualities. One man
may call the sum total of these Qualities, Nature; another, Heaven; a
third, Universe, a fourth, Matter; a fifth, Spirit; a sixth, God, Theos,
Zeus, Alfadir, Allah, or what he pleases. All admit the existence of the
Being, Power, or ENS, thus diversely named. The name is of the smallest
Real Atheism is the denial of the existence of any God, of the actuality of
all possible ideas of God. It denies that there any Mind, Intelligence, or
ENS, that is the Cause and Providence of the Universe, and of any Thing or
any Existence, Soul, Spirit, or Being, that intentionally or intelligently
produces the Order, Beauty, and Harmony thereof, and the constant and
regular modes of operation therein. It must necessarily deny that there is
any law, order, or harmony in existence, or any constant mode of operation
in the world; for it is utterly impossible for any human creature to
conceive, however much he may pretend to do so, of either of these, except
as a consequence of the action of Intelligence; which is, indeed, that
otherwise unknown thing, the existence of which these alone prove;
otherwise than as the cause of these, not a thing at all; a mere name for
the wholly uncognizable cause of these.
The real atheist must deny the existence of the Qualities of God, deny that
there is any mind of or in the Universe, any self-conscious Providence, any
Providence at all. He must deny that there is any Being or Cause of Finite
things, that is self-consciously powerful, wise, just, loving, and faithful
to itself and its own nature. He must deny that there is any plan in the
Universe or any part of it. He must hold, either that matter is eternal, or
that it originated itself, which is absurd, or that it was originated by an
Intelligence, or at least by a Cause; and then he admits a God. No doubt it
is beyond the reach of our faculties to imagine how matter originated,--how
it began to be, in space where before was nothing, or God only. But it is
equally beyond the reach of our faculties to imagine it eternal and
unoriginated. To hold it to be eternal, without thought or will; that the
specific forms of it, the seed, the rock, the tree, the man, the solar
system, all came with no forethought planning or producing them, by
"chance" or "the fortuitous concourse of atoms" of matter that has no
thought or will; and that they indicate no mind, no plan, no purpose, no
providence, is absurd. It is not to deny the existence of what we
understand by mind, plan, purpose, Providence; but to insist that these
words shall have some other meaning than that which the human race has ever
attached to them: shall mean some unknown thing, for which the human race
has no name, because it has of such a thing no possible idea. Either there
never was any such thing as a "plan," and the word is nonsense, or the
Universe exists in conformity to a plan. The word never meant, and never
can mean, any other thing than that which the Universe exhibits. So with
the word "purpose;" so with the word "Providence." They mean nothing, or
else only what the Universe proves.
It was soon found that the denial of a Conscious Power, the cause of man
and of his life, of a Providence, or a Mind and Intelligence arranging man
in reference to the world, and the world in reference to man, would not
satisfy the instinctive desires of human nature, or account for the facts
of material nature. It did not long answer to say, if it ever was said,
that the Universe was drifting in the void inane, and neither it, nor any
mind within or without it, knew of its whence, its whither, or its
whereabouts; that man was drifting in the Universe, knowing little of his
whereabouts, nothing of his whence or whither; that there was no Mind, no
Providence, no Power, that knew any better; nothing that guided and
directed man in his drifting, or the Universe in the weltering waste of
Time. To say to man and woman, "your heroism, your bravery, your
self-denial all comes to nothing: your nobleness will do you no good you
will die, and your nobleness will do mankind no service; for there is no
plan or order in all these things; everything comes and goes by the
fortuitous concourse of atoms ;" did not, nor ever will, long satisfy the
True, the theory of Atheism has been uttered. It has been said, "Death is
the end: this is a world without a God: you are a body without a soul:
there is a Here, but no Hereafter for you; a Earth, but no Heaven. Die, and
return to your dust. Man is bones, blood, bowels, and brain; mind is
matter: there is no soul in the brain, nothing but nerves. We can see all
the way to a little star in the nebula of Orion's belt; so distant that it
will take light a thousand millions of years to come from it to thc earth,
journeying at the rate of twelve millions of miles a minute. There is no
Heaven this side of that: you see all the way through: there is not a speck
of Heaven; and do you think there is any beyond it; and if so, when would
you reach it? There is no Providence. Nature is a forfuitous concourse of
atoms; though is a fortuitous function of matter, a fortuitous result of a
for tuitous result, a chance-shot from the great wind-gun of the Universe,
accidentally loaded, pointed at random, and fired off by chance. Things
happen; they are not arranged. There is luck, and there is ill-luck; but
there is no Providence. Die you into dust!" Does all this satisfy the human
instinct of immortality, that makes us ever long, with unutterable longing,
to join our selves again to our dear ones who have gone away before us, an
to mankind, for eternal life? Does it satisfy our mighty hungering and
thirst for immortality, our anxious longing to come nearer to, and to know
more of, the Eternal Cause of all things?
Men never could be content to believe that there was no mind that thought
for man, no conscience to enact eternal laws, no hear to love those whom
nothing of earth loves or cares for, no will of the Universe to marshal the
nations in the way of wisdom, justic and love. History is not--thank God!
we know it is not,--the fortuitous concourse of events, or Nature that of
atoms. We can not believe that there is no plan nor purpose in Nature, to
guid our going out and coming in: that there is a mighty going, but goes
nowhere; that all beauty, wisdom, affection, justice, morality in the
world, is an accident, and may end to-morrow.
All over the world there is heroism unrequited, or paid with misery; vice
on thrones, corruption in high places, nobleness in poverty or even in
chains, the gentle devotion of woman rewarded by brutal neglect or more
brutal abuse and violence; everywhere want, misery, over-work, and
under-wages. Add to these the Atheist's creed,--a body without a soul, an
earth without Heaven, a world without a God; and what a Pandemonium would
we make of this world !
The intellect of the Atheist would find matter everywhere; but no Causing
and Providing Mind: his moral sense would find no Equitable Will, no Beauty
of Moral Excellence, no Conscience enacting justice into the unchanging law
of right, no spiritual Order or spiritual Providence, but only material
Fate and Chance. His affections would find only finite things to love; and
to them the dead who were loved and who died yesterday, are like the
rainbow that yesterday evening lived a moment and then passed away. His
soul, flying through the vast Inane, and feeling the darkness with its
wings, seeking the Soul of all, which at once is Reason, Conscience, and
the Heart of all that is, would find no God, but a universe all disorder;
no Infinite, no Reason, no Conscience, no Heart, no Soul of things; nothing
to reverence, to esteem, to love, to worship, to trust in; but only an Ugly
Force, alien and foreign to us, that strikes down those we love, and makes
us mere worms on the hot sand of the world. No voice would speak from the
Earth to comfort him. It is a cruel mother, that great Earth, that devours
her young,--a Force and nothing more. Out of the sky would smile no kind
Providence, in all its thousand starry eyes; and in storms a malignant
violence, with its lightning-sword, would stab into the darkness, seeking
for men to murder.
No man ever was or ever can be content with that. The evidence of God has
been ploughed into Nature so deeply, and so deeply woven into the texture
of the human soul, that Atheism has never become a faith, though it has
sometimes assumed the shape of theory. Religion is natural to man.
Instinctively he turns to God and reverences and relies on Him. In the
Mathematics of the Heavens, written in gorgeous diagrams of fire, he sees
law, order, beauty, harmony without end: in the ethics of the little
nations that inhabit the ant-hills he sees the same; in all Nature, animate
and inanimate, he sees the evidences of a Design, a Will, an Intelligence,
and a God,--of a God beneficent and loving as well as wise, and merciful
and indulgent as well as powerful.
To man, surrounded by the material Universe, and conscious of the influence
that his material environments exercised upon his fortunes and his present
destiny;--to man, ever confronted with the splendors of the starry heavens,
the regular march of the seasons, the phenomena of sunrise and moonrise,
and all evidences of intelligence and design that everywhere presse upon
and overwhelmed him, all imaginable questions as to the nature and cause of
these phenomena constantly recurred, demanding to be solved, and refusing
to be sent away unanswered. And still, after the lapse of ages, press upon
the human min and demand solution, the same great questions--perhaps still
demanding it in vain.
Advancing to the period when man had ceased to look upon the separate parts
and individual forces of the Universe as gods; when he had come to look
upon it as a whole, this question, among the earliest, occurred to him, and
insisted on being answered: "Is this material Universe self-existent, or
was it created? Is eternal, or did it originate?"
And then in succession came crowding on the human mind these other questions:
"Is this material Universe a mere aggregate of fortuitous combinations of
matter, or is it the result and work of intelligen acting upon a plan?
"If there be such an Intelligence, what and where is it? Is material
Universe itself an Intelligent being? Is it like man, body and a soul ?
Does Nature act upon itself, or is there a Cause beyond it that acts upon it?
"If there is a personal God, separate from the material Universe, that
created all things, Himself uncreated, is He corporeal or incorporeal,
material or spiritual, the soul of the Universe or wholly apart from it?
and if He be Spirit, what then is spirit?
"Was that Supreme Deity active or quiescent before the creation; and if
quiescent during a previous eternity, what necess of His nature moved Him
at last to create a world; or was it a mere whim that had no motive?
"Was matter co-existent with Him, or absolutely created him out of nothing?
Did He create it, or only mould and shape and fashion a chaos already
existing, co-existent with Himself?
"Did the Deity directly create matter, or was creation the work of inferior
deities, emanations from Himself?
"If He be good and just, whence comes it that, foreknowing everything, He
has allowed sorrow and evil to exist; and how to reconcile with His
benevolence and wisdom the prosperity of vice and the misfortunes of virtue
in this world?"
And then, as to man himself, recurred these other questions, as they
continue to recur to all of us:
"What is it in us that thinks ? Is Thought the mere result of material
organization; or is there in us a soul that thinks, separate from and
resident in the body? If the latter, is it eternal and uncreated; and if
not, how created? Is it distinct from God, or an emanation from Him? Is it
inherently immortal, or only so by destination, because God has willed it?
Is it to return to and be merged in Him, or ever to exist, separately from
Him, with its present identity?
"If God has fore-seen and fore-arranged all that occurs, how has man any
real free-will, or the least control over circumstances? How can anything
be done against the will of Infinite Omnipotence; and if all is done
according to that will, how is there any wrong or evil, in what Infinite
Wisdom and Infinite Power does not choose to prevent?
"What is the foundation of the moral law? Did God enact it of His own mere
pleasure; and if so, can He not, when He pleases, repeal it? Who shall
assure us He will not repeal it, and make right wrong, and virtue vice? Or
is the moral law a necessity of His nature; and if so, who enacted it; and
does not that assert a power, like the old Necessity, superior to Deity?"
And, close-following after these, came the great question of HEREAFTER, of
another Life, of the soul's Destiny; and the thousand other collateral and
subordinate questions, as to matter, spirit, futurity, and God, that have
produced all the systems of philosophy, all metaphysics, and all theology,
since the world began.
What the old philosophic mind thought upon these great questions, we have
already, to some extent, developed. With the Emanation-doctrine of the
Gnostics and the Orient, we have endeavored to make you familiar. We have
brought you face to face with the Kabalists, the Essenes, and Philo the
Jew. We have shown that, and how, much of the old mythology was derived
from the daily and yearly recurring phenomena of the heavens. We have
exhibited to you the ancient notions by which they endeavored to explain to
themselves the existence and prevalence of evil; and we have in some degree
made known to you their metaphysical ideas as to the nature of the Deity.
Much more remains to be done than it is within our power to do. We stand
upon the sounding shore of the great ocean of Time. In front of us
stretches out the heaving waste of the illimitable Past; and its waves, as
they roll up to our feet along the sparking slope of the yellow sands,
bring to us, nw and then, from the depths of that boundless ocean, a shell,
a few specimens of algae torn rudely from their stems, a rounded pebble;
and that is all; of all the vast treasures of ancient thought that lie
buried there, with the mighty anthem of the boundless ocean thundering over
them forever and forever.
Let us once more, and for the last time, along the shore of that great
ocean, gather a few more relics of the Past, and listen to its mighty
voices, as they come, in fragmentary music, in broken and interrupted
rhythm, whispering to us from the great bosom of the Past.
Rites, creeds, and legends express, directly or symbolically, some leading
idea, according to which the Mysteries of Being are supposed to be
explained in Deity. The intricacies of mythical genealogies are a practical
acknowledgment of the mysterious nature of the Omnipotent Deity; displaying
in their beautiful but ineffectual imagery the first efforts of the mind to
communicate with nature: the flowers which fancy strewed before the
youthful steps of Psyche, when she first set out in pursuit of the immortal
object of her love. Theories and notions, in all their varieties of truth
and falsehood, are a machinery more or less efficacious, directed to the
same end. Every religion was, in its origin, an embryo philosophy, or an
attempt to interpret the unknown by mind; and it was only when philosophy,
which is essentially progress, outgrew its first acquisitions, that
religion became a thing apart, cherishing as unalterable dogmas the notions
which philosophy had abandoned. Separated from philosophy, it became
arrogant and fantastical, professing to have already attained what its more
authentic representative was ever pursuing in vain; and discovering,
through its initiations and Mysteries, all that to its contracted view
seemed wanting to restore the well-being of mankind, the means of
purification and expiation, remedies for disease, expedients to cure the
disorders of the soul, and to propitiate the gods.
Why should we attempt to confine the idea of the Supreme Mind within an
arbitrary barrier, or exclude from the limits of veracity any conception of
the Deity, which, if imperfect and inadequate, may be only a little more so
than our own? "The name of God," says Hobbes, "is used not to make us
conceive Him, or He is inconceivable, but that we may honor Him." "Believe
in God, and adore Him," said the Greek Poet, "but investigate Him not; the
inquiry is fruitless, seek not to discover who God is; for, by the desire
to know, you offend Him who chooses to remain unknown." "When we attempt,"
says Philo, "to investigate the essence of the Absolute Being, we fall into
an abyss of perplexity; and the only benefit to be derived from such
researches is the conviction of their absurdity."
Yet man, though ignorant of the constitution of the dust on which he
treads, has ventured, and still ventures, to speculate on the nature of
God, and to define dogmatically in creeds the subject least within the
compass of his faculties; and even to hate and persecute those who will not
accept his views as true.
But though a knowledge of the Divine Essence is impossible, the conceptions
formed respecting it are interesting, as indications of intellectual
development. The history of religion is the history of the human mind; and
the conception formed by it of Deity is always in exact relation to its
moral and intellectual attainments. The one is the index and the measure of
The negative notion of God, which consists in abstracting the inferior and
finite, is, according to Philo, the only way in which it is possible for
man worthily to apprehend the nature of God. After exhausting the varieties
of symbolism, we contrast the Divine Greatness with human littleness, and
employ expressions apparently affirmative, such as "Infinite," "Almighty,"
"Allwise," "Omnipotent," "Eternal," and the like; which in reality amount
only to denying, in regard to God, those limits which confine the faculties
of man; and thus we remain content with a name which is a mere conventional
sign and confession of our ignorance.
The Hebrew and the Greek To ON expressed abstract existence, without
outward manifestation or development. Of the same nature are the
definitions, "God is a sphere whose centre is everywhere, and whose
circumference nowhere;" "God is He who sees all, Himself unseen:" and
finally, that of Proclus and Hegel --"the To --that which has no outward
and positive existence." Most of the so-called ideas or definitions of the
"Absoute" are only a collection of negations; from which, as they affirm
nothing, nothing is learned.
God was first recognized in the heavenly bodies and in the elements. When
man's consciousness of his own intellectuality was matured, and he became
convinced that the internal faculty of thought was something more subtle
than even the most subtle elements, he transferred that new conception to
the object of his worship, and deified a mental principle instead of a
physical one. He in every case makes God after his own image; for do what
we will, the highest efforts of human thought can conceive nothing higher
than the supremacy of intellect; and so he ever comes back to some familiar
type of exalted humanity. He at first deifies nature, and afterward himself.
The eternal aspiration of the religious sentiment in man is to become
united with God. In his earliest development, the wish and its fulfillment
were simultaneous, through unquestioning belief. In proportion as the
conception of Deity was exalted, the notion of His terrestrial presence or
proximity was abandoned and the difficulty of comprehending the Divine
Government, together with the glaring superstitious evils arising out of
its misinterpretation, endangered the belief in it altogether.
Even the lights of Heaven, which, as "bright potentates of the sky," were
formerly the vigilant directors of the economy of earth now shine dim and
distant, and Uriel no more descends upon a sunbeam. But the real change has
been in the progressive ascent of man's own faculties, and not in the
Divine Nature; as the Stars are no more distant now than when they were
supposed to rest on the shoulders of Atlas. And yet a little sense of
disappointment and humiliation attended the first awakening of the soul,
when reason, looking upward toward the Deity, was impressed with a dizzy
sense of having fallen.
But hope revives in despondency; and every nation that ever advanced beyond
the most elementary conceptions, felt the necessity of an attempt to fill
the chasm, real or imaginary, separating man from God. To do this was the
great task of poetry, philosophy, and religion. Hence the personifications
of God's attributes, developments, and manifestations, as "Powers,"
"Intelligences," "Angels," "Emanations;" through which and the oracular
faculty in himself, man could place himself in communion with God.
The various ranks and orders of mythical beings imagined by Persians,
Indians, Egyptians, or Etrurians, to preside over the various departments
of nature, had each his share in a scheme to bring man into closer
approximation to the Deity; they eventually gave way only before an
analogous though less picturesque symbolism; and the Deities and Daemons of
Greece and Rome were perpetuated with only a change of names, when their
offices were transferred to Saints and Martyrs. The attempts by which
reason had sometimes endeavored to span the unknown by a bridge of
metaphysics, such as the idealistic systems of Zoroaster, Pythagoras, or
Plato, were only a more refined form of the poetical illusions which
satisfied the vulgar; and man still looked back with longing to the lost
golden age, when his ancestors communed face to face with the Gods; and
hoped that, by propitiating Heaven, he might accelerate the renewal of it
in the islands of the Far West, under the sceptre of Kronos, or in a
centralization of political power at Jerusalem. His eager hope overcame
even the terrors of the grave; for the Divine power was as infinite as
human expectation, and the Egyptian, duly ensepulchred in the Lybian
Catacombs, was supposed to be already on his way to the Fortunate Abodes
under the guidance of Hermes, there to obtain a perfect association and
reunion with his God.
Remembering what we have already said elsewhere in regard to the old ideas
concerning the Deity, and repeating it as little as possible, let us once
more put ourselves in communion with the Ancient poetic and philosophic
mind, and endeavor to learn of it what it thought, and how it solved the
great problems that have ever tortured the human intellect.
The division of the First and Supreme Cause into two parts, one Active and
the other Passive, the Universe Agent and Patient, or the hermaphroditic
God-World, is one of the most ancient and widespread dogmas of philosophy
or natural theology. Almost every ancient people gave it a place in their
worship, their mysteries, and their ceremonies.
Ocellus Lucanus, who seems to have lived shortly after Pythagoras opened
his School in Italy, five or six hundred years before our era, and in the
time of Solon, Thales, and the other Sages who had studied in the Schools
of Egypt, not only recognizes the eternity of the Universe, and its divine
character as an unproduced and indestructible being, but also the
distinction of Active and Passive causes in what he terms the Grand Whole,
or the single hermaphroditic Being that comprehends all existences, as well
causes as effects; and which is a system regularly ordered, perfect and
complete, of all Natures. He well apprehended the dividing line that
separates existence eternally the same, from that which eternally changes;
the nature of celestial from that of terrestrial bodies, that of causes
from that of effects, that which is from that which only BECOMES,--a
distinction that naturally struck every thinking man.
We shall not quote his language at full length. The heavenly bodies, he
thought, are first and most noble; they move of themselves, and ever
revolve, without change of form or essence. Fire, water, earth, and air
change incessantly and continually, not place, but form. Then, as in the
Universe there are generation and cause of generation,--as generation is
where there are change and displacement of parts, and cause where there is
stability of nature, evidently it belongs to what is the cause of
generation, to move and to act, and to the recipient, to be made and moved.
In his view, everything above the Moon was the habitation of the gods; all
below, that of Nature and discord; this operates dissolution of things
made; that, production of those that are being made. As the world is
unproduced and indestnlctible, as it had no beginning, and will have no
end, necessarily the principle that operates generation in another than
itself, and that which operates it in itself, have co-existed.
The former is all above the moon, and especially the sun: the latter is the
sublunary world. Of these two parts, one active, the other passive--one
divine and always the same, the other mortal and ever changing, all that we
call the "world" or "universe" is composed.
These accorded with the principles of the Egyptian philosophy, which held
that man and the animals had always existed together with the world; that
they were its effects, eternal like itself. The chief divisions of nature
into active and passive causes, its system of generation and destruction,
and the concurrence of the two great principles, Heaven and earth, uniting
to form all things, will, according to Ocellus, always continue to exist.
"Enough." he concludes, "as to the Universe, the generations and
destructions effected in it, the mode in which it now exists, the mode in
which it will ever exist, by the eternal qualities of the two principles,
one always moving, the other always moved; one always governing, the other
Such is a brief summary of the doctrine of this philosopher, whose work is
one of the most ancient that has survived to us. The subject on which he
treated occupied in his time all men's minds: the poets sang of cosmogonies
and theogonies, and the philosophers wrote treatises on the birth of the
world and the elements of its composition. The cosmogony of the Hebrews,
attributed to Moses; that of the Phoenicians, ascribed to Sanchoniathon;
that of the Greeks, composed by Hesiod; that of the Egyptians, the
Atlantes, and the Cretans, preserved by Diodorus Siculus; the fragments of
the theology of Orpheus, divided among different writers; the books of the
Persians, or their Boundehesh; those of the Hindus; the traditions of the
Chinese and the people of Macassar; the cosmogonic chants which Virgil puts
in the mouth of Iopas at Carthage; and those of the old Silenus, the first
book of the Metamorphoses of Ovid; all testify to the aniquity and
universality of these fictions as to the origin of the world and its causes.
At the head of the causes of nature, Heaven and earth were laced; and the
most apparent parts of each, the sun, the moon, the fixed stars and
planets, and, above all, the zodiac, among the active causes of generation;
and among the passive, the several elements. These causes were not only
classed in the progressive order of their energy, Heaven and earth heading
the respective lists, but distinct sexes were in some sort assigned to
them, and characteristics analogous to the mode in which they concur in
The doctrine of Ocellus was the general doctrine everywhere, it naturally
occurring to all to make the same distinction. The Egyptians did so, in
selecting those animals in which they recogized these emblematic qualities,
in order to symbolize the double sex of the Universe. Their God KNEPH, out
of whose mouth issued the Orphic egg, whence the author of the Clementine
Recognitions makes a hermaphroditic figure to emerge, uniting in itself the
two principles whereof Heaven and the earth are forms, and which enter into
the organization of all beings which the heavens and the earth engender by
their concourse, furnishes another emblem of the double power, active and
passive, which the ancients saw in the Universe, and which they symbolized
by the egg. Orpheus, who studied in Egypt, borrowed from the theologians of
that country the mysterious forms under which the science of nature was
veiled, and carried into Greece the symbolic egg, with its division into
two parts or causes figured by the hermaphroditic being that issued from
it, and whereof Heaven and earth are composed.
The Brahmins of India expressed the same cosmogonic idea by a statue,
representative of the Universe, uniting in itself both sexes. The male sex
offered an image of the sun, centre of the active principle, and the female
sex that of the moon, at the sphere whereof, proceeding downward, the
passive portion of nature begins. The Lingam, unto the present day revered
in the Indian temples, being but the conjunction of the organs of
generation of the two sexes, was an emblem of the same. The Hindus have
ever had the greatest veneration for this symbol of ever-reproductive
nature. The Greeks consecrated the same symbols of universal fruitfulness
in their Mysteries; and they were exhibited in the sanctuaries of Eleusis.
They appear among the sculptured ornaments of all the Indian temples.
Tertullian accuses the Valentinians of having adopted the custom of
venerating them; a custom, he says, introduced by Melampus from Egypt into
Greece. The Egyptians consecrated the Phallus in the Mysteries of Osiris
and Isis, as we learn from Plutarch and Diodorus Siculus; and the latter
assures us that these emblems were not consecrated by the Egyptians alone,
but by every people. They certainly were so among the Persians and
Assyrians; and they were regarded everywhere as symbolic of the generative
and productive powers of all animated beings. In those early ages, the
works of Nature and all her agents were sacred like herself.
For the union of Nature with herself is a chaste marriage, of which the
union of man and woman was a natural image, all their organs were an
expressive emblem of the double energy which manifests itself in Heaven and
Earth uniting together to produce all beings. "The Heavens," says Plutarch,
"seemed to men to fulfill the functions of father, and the Earth of mother.
The former impregnated the earth with its fertilizing rains, and the earth,
receiving them, became fruitful and brought forth." Heaven, which covers
and embraces the earth everywhere, is her potent spouse, uniting himself to
her to make her fruitful, without which she would languish in everlasting
sterility, buried in the shades of chaos and of night. Their union is their
marriage their productions or parts are their children. The skies are our
Father, and Nature the great Mother of us all.
This idea was not the dogma of a single sect, but the general opinion of
all the Sages. "Nature was divided," says Cicero, "into two parts, one
active, and the other that submitted itself to this action, which it
received, and which modified it. The former was deemed to be a Force, and
the latter the material on which that Force exerted itself." Macrobius
repeated almost literally the doctrine of Ocellus. Aristotle termed the
earth the fruitful mother, environed on all sides by the air. Above it was
Heaven, the dwelling-place of the gods and the divine stars, its substance
ether, or a fire incessantly moving in circles, divine and incorruptible,
and subject to no change. Below it, nature, and the elements, nutable and
acted on, corruptible and mortal.
Synesius said that generations were effected in the portions of the
Universe which we inhabit; while the cause of generations resided in the
portions above us, whence descend to us the germs of the effects produced
here below. Proclus and Simplicius deemed Heaven the Active Cause and
Father, relatively to the earth. The former says that the World or the
Whole is a single Animal; what is done in it, is done by it; the same World
acts, and acts upon itself. He divides it into "Heaven" and "Generation."
In the former, he says, are placed and arranged the conservative causes of
generation, superintended by the Genii and Gods. The Earth, or Rhea,
associated ever with saturn in production, is mother of the effects of
which Heaven is Father; the womb or bosom that receives the fertilizing
energy of the God that engenders ages. The great work of generation is
operated, he says, primarily by the action of the Sun, and secondarily by
that of the Moon, so that the Sun is the primitive source of this energy,
as father and chief of the male gods that form his court. He follows the
action of the male and female principles through all the portions and
divisions of nature, attributing to the former the origin of stability and
identity, to the latter, that of diversity and mobility. Heaven is to the
earth, he says, as the male to the female. It is the movement of the
heavens that, by their revolutions, furnished the seminal incitements and
forces, whose emanations received by the earth, make it fruitful, and cause
it to produce animals and plants of every kind.
Philo says that Moses recognized this doctrine of two causes, active and
passive; but made the former to reside in the Mind or Intelligence external
The ancient astrologers divided the twelve signs of the Zodiac into six
male and six female, and assigned them to six male a six female Gods.
Heaven and Earth, or Ouranos and Ghe, were among the most ancient nations,
the first and most ancient Divinities. We find them in the Phoenician
history of Sanchoniathon, and in the Grecian Genealogy of the Gods given by
Hesiod. Everywhere they marry, and by their union produce the later Gods.
"In the beginning." says Apollodorus, "Ouranos or the Heavens was Lord of
all the Universe: he took to wife Ghe or the earth, and had by her many
children." They were the first Gods of the Cretans, and under other names,
of the Armenians, as we learn from Berosus, and of Panchaia, an island
South of Arabia, as we learn from Euhemerus. Orpheus made the Divinity or
the "Great Whole," male and female, because, he said, it could produce
nothing, unless it united in itself the productive force of both sexes. He
called Heaven PANGENETOR, the Father of all things, most ancient of Beings,
beginning and end of all, containing in Himself the incorruptible and
unwearying force of Necessity.
The same idea obtained in the rude North of Europe. The Scythians made the
earth to be the wife of Jupiter; and the Germans adored her under the name
of HERTA. The Celts worshipped the Heavens and the Earth, and said that
without the former the latter would be sterile, and that their marriage
produced all things. The Scandinavians acknowledged BOR or the Heavens, and
gave FURTUR, his son, the Earth as his wife. Olaus Rudbeck adds, that their
ancestors were persuaded that Heaven intermarried with the Earth, and thus
uniting his forces with hers, produced animals and plants. This marriage of
Heaven and Earth produced the Azes, Genii famous in the theology of the
North. In the theology of the Phrygians and Lydians, the ASII were born of
the marriage of the Supreme God with the Earth, and Firmicus informs us
that the Phrygians attrihuted to the Earth supremacy over the other
elements, and considered her the Great Mother of all things.
Virgil sings the impregnation of the joyous earth, by the Ether, its
spouse, that descends upon its bosom, fertilizing it with rains. Columella
sings the loves of Nature and her marriage with Heaven annually consummated
at the sweet Spring-time. He describes the Spirit of Life, the soul that
animates the world, fired with passion of Love, uniting with Nature and
itself, itself a part of Nature, and filling its own bosom with new
productions. This union of the universe with itself, this mutual action of
two sexes, he terms "the great Secrets of Nature," "the Mysteries of the
Union of Heaven with Earth, imaged in the Sacred Mysteries of Atys and
Varro tells us that the great Divinities adored at Samothrace were the
Heavens and the Earth, considered as First Causes or Primal Gods, and as
male and female agents, one bearing to the other the relations that the
Soul and Principle of Movement bear to the body or the matter that receives
them. These were the gods revered in the Mysteries of that Island, as they
were in the orgies of Phoenicia.
Everywhere the sacred body of Nature was covered with the veil of allegory,
which concealed it from the profane, and allowed it to be seen only by the
sage who thought it worthy to be the object of his study and investigation.
She showed herself to those only who loved her in spirit and in truth, and
she abandoned the indifferent and careless to error and to ignorance. "The
Sages of Greece," says Pausanias, "never wrote otherwise than in an
enigmatical manner, never naturally and directly." "Nature," says Sallust
the Philosopher, "should be sung only in a language that imitates the
secrecy of her processes and operations. She is herself an enigma. We see
only bodies in movement; the forces and springs that move them are hidden
from us." The poets inspired by the Divinity, the wisest philosophers, all
the theologians, the chiefs of the initiations and Mysteries, even the gods
uttering their oracles, have borrowed the figurative language of allegory.
"The Egyptians," says Proclus, "preferred that mode of teaching, and spoke
of the great secrets of Nature, only in mythological enigmas." The
Gymnosophists of India and the Druids of Gaul lent to science the same
enigmatic language, and in the same style wrote the Hierophants of Phoenicia.
The division of things into the active and the passive cause leads to that
of the two Principles of Light and Darkness, connected with and
corresponding with it. For Light comes from the ethereal substance that
composes the active cause, and darkness from earth or the gross matter
which composes the passive cause. In Hesiod, the Earth, by its union with
Tartarus, engenders Typhon. Chief of the Powers or Genii of Darkness. Put
it unites itself with the Ether or Ouranos, when it engenders the Gods of
Olympus, or the Stars, children of Starry Ouranos.
Light was the first Divinity worshipped by men. To it they owed the
brilliant spectacle of Nature. It seems an emanation from the Creator of
all things, making known to our senses the Universe which darkness hides
from our eyes, and, as it were giving it existence. Darkness, as it were,
reduces all nature again to nothingness, and almost entirely annihilates man.
Naturally, therefore, two substances of opposite natures were imagined, to
each of which the world was in turn subjected, one contributing to its
felicity and the other to its misfortune. Light multiplied its enjoyments;
Darkness despoiled it of them: the former was its friend, the latter its
enemy. To one all good was attributed; to the other all evil; and thus the
words "Light" and "Good" became synonymous, and the words "Darkness" and
"Evil." It seeming that Good and Evil could not flow from one and the same
source, any more than could Light and Darkness, men naturally imagined two
Causes or Principles, of different natures and opposite in their effects,
one of which shed Light and Good, and the other Darkness and Evil, on the
This distinction of the two Principles was admitted in all the Theologies,
and formed one of the principal bases of all religions. It entered as a
primary element into the sacred fables, the cosmogonies and the Mysteries
of antiquity. "We are not to suppose," says Plutarch, "that the Principles
of the Universe are inanimate bodies, as Democritus and Epicurus thought;
nor that a matter devoid of qualities is organized and arranged by a single
Reason or Providence, Sovereign over all things, as the Stoics held; for it
is not possible that a single Being, good or evil, is the cause of all
inasmuch as God can in nowise be the cause of any evil. The harmony of the
Universe is a combination of contraries, like the strings of a lyre, or
that of a bow, which alternately is stretched and relaxed." "The good,"
says Euripides, "is never separated from the Evil. The two must mingle,
that all may go well." And this opinion as to the two principles, continues
Plutarch, "is that of all antiquity. From the Theologians and Legislators
it passed to the Poets and Philosophers. Its author is unknown; but the
opinion itself is established by the traditions of the whole human race,
and consecrated in the mysteries and sacrifices both of the Greeks and
Barbarians, wherein was recognized the dogma of opposing principles in
nature, which, by their contrariety, produce the mixture of good and evil.
We must admit two contrary causes, two opposing powers, which lead, one to
the right and the other to the left, and thus control our life, as they do
the sublunary world, which is therefore subject to so many changes and
irregularities of every kind. For if there can be no effect without a
cause, and if the Good cannot be the cause of the Evil, it is absolutely
necessary that there should be a cause for the Evil, as there is one for
the Good." This doctrine, he adds, has been generally received among most
nations, and especially by those who have had the greatest reputation for
wisdom. All have admitted two gods, with different occupations, one making
the good and the other the evil found in nature. The former has been styled
"God," the latter "Demon." The Persians, or Zoroaster, named the former
Ormuzd and the latter Ahriman; of whom they said one was of the nature of
Light, the other of that of Darkness. The Egyptians called the former
Osiris, and the latter Typhon, his eternal enemy.
The Hebrews, at least after their return from the Persian captivity, had
their good Deity, and the Devil, a bad and malicious Spirit, ever opposing
God, and Chief of the Angels of Darkness, as God was of those of Light. The
word "Satan" means, in Hebrew, simply, "The Adversary."
The Chaldeans, Plutarch says, had their good and evil stars. The Greeks had
their Jupiter and Pluto, and their Giants and Titans, to whom were assigned
the attributes of the Serpent with which Pluto or Serapis was encircled,
and the shape whereof was assumed by Typhon, Ahriman, and the Satan of the
Hebrews. Every people had something equivalent to this.
The People of Pegu believe in two Principles, one author of Good and the
other of Evil, and strive to propitiate the latter, while they think it
needless to worship the former, as he is incapable of doing evil. The
people of Java, of the Moluccas, of the Gold Coast, the Hottentots, the
people of Teneriffe and Madagascar, and the Savage Tribes of America, all
worship and strive to avert the anger and propitiate the good-will of the
But among the Greeks, Egyptians, Chaldeans, Persians, and Assyrians, the
doctrine of the two Principles formed a complete and regularly arranged
theological system. It was the basis of the religion of the Magi and of
Egypt. The author of an ancient work, attributed to Origen, says that
Pythagoras learned from Zarastha, a Magus at Babylon (the same, perhaps, as
Zerdusht or Zoroaster), that there are two principles of all things,
whereof one is the father and the other the mother; the former, Light, and
the latter, Darkness. Pythagoras thought that the Dependencies on Light
were warmth, dryness, lightness, swiftness; and those on Darkness, cold,
wet, weight, and slowness; and that the world derived its existence from
these two principles, as from the male and the female. According to
Porphyry, he conceived two opposing powers, one good, which he termed
Unity, the Light, Right, the Equal, the Stable, the Straight; the other
evil, which he termed Binary, Darkness, the Left, the Unequal, the Crooked.
These ideas he received from the Orientals, for he dwelt twelve years at
Babylon, studying with the Magi. Varro says he recognized two Principles of
all things, - the Finite and the Infinite, Good and Evil, Life and Death,
Day a Night. White he thought was of the nature of the Good Principle, and
Black of that of the Evil; that Light and Darkness, Heat and Cold, the Dry
and the Wet, mingled in equal proportions; that Summer was the triumph of
heat, and Winter of cold; that their equal combination produced Spring and
Autumn, the former producing verdure and favorable to health, and the
latter, deteriorating everything, giving birth to maladies. He applied the
same idea to the rising and setting of the sun; and, like the Magi, held
that God or Ormuzd in the body resembled light, and in the soul, truth .
Aristotle, like Plato, admitted a principle of Evil, resident in matter and
in its eternal imperfection.
The Persians said that Ormuzd, born of the pure Light, and Ahriman, born of
darkness, were ever at war. Ormuzd produced six Gods, Beneficence, Truth,
Good Order, Wisdom, Riches, and Virtuous Joy. These were so many emanations
from the Good Principle, so many blessings bestowed by it on men. Ahriman,
in his turn, produced six Devs, opponents of the six emanations from
Ormuzd. Then Ormuzd made himself three times as great as before, ascended
as far above the sun as the sun is above the earth, and adorned the heavens
with stars, of which he made Sirius the sentinel or advance-guard: that he
then created twenty-four other Deities, and placed them in an egg, where
Ahriman also placed twenty-four others, created by him, who broke the egg,
and so intermingled Good and Evil. Theopompus adds that, according to the
Magi, for two terms of three thousand years, each of the two Principles is
to be by turns victor and the other vanquished; then for three thousand
more for each they are to contend with each other, each destroying
reciprocally the works of the other; after which Ahriman is to perish, and
men, wearing transparent bodies, to enjoy unutterable happiness.
The twelve great Deities of the Persians, the six Amshaspands and six Devs,
marshalled, the former under the banner of Light, and the latter under that
of Darkness, are the twelve Zodiacal Signs or Months; the six supreme
signs, or those of Light, or of Spring and Summer, commencing with Aries,
and the six inferior, of Darkness, or of Autumn and Winter, commencing with
Libra. Limited Time, as contradistinguished from Time without limits, or
Eternity, is Time created and measured by the celestial revolutions. It is
comprehended in a period divided into twelve parts, each subdivided into a
thousand parts, which the Persians termed years. Thus the circle annually
traversed by the Sun was divided into 12,000 parts, or each sign into
3,000: and thus, each year, the Principle of Light and Good triumphed for
3,000 years, that of Evil and Darkness for 3,000, and they mutually
destroyed each other's labors for 6,000, or 3,000 for each: so that the
Zodiac was equally divided between them. And accordingly Ocellus Lucanus,
the Disciple of Pythagoras, held that the principal cause of all sublunary
effects resided in the Zodiac, and that from it flowed the good or bad
influences of the planets that revolved therein.
The twenty-four good and twenty-four evil Deities, enclosed in the Egg, are
the forty-eight constellations of the ancient sphere, equally divided
between the realms of Light and Darkness, on the concavity of the celestial
sphere which was apportioned among them; and which, enclosing the world and
planets, was the mystic and sacred egg of the Magi, the Indians, and the
Egyptians,-- the egg that issued from the mouth of the God Kneph, that
figured as the Orphic Egg in the Mysteries of Greece, that issued from the
God Chumong of the Coresians, and from the Egyptian Osiris and the God
Phanes of the Modern Orphics, Principle of Light,--the egg crushed by the
Sacred Bull of the Japanese, and from which the world emerged; that placed
by the Greeks at the feet of Bacchus the bull-horned God, and from which
Aristophanes makes Love emerge, who with Night organizes Chaos.
Thus the Balance, the Scorpion, the Serpent of Ophiucus, ar the Dragon of
the Hesperides became malevolent Signs and Evil Genii; and entire nature
was divided between the two principles, and between the agents or partial
causes subordinate to them. Hence Michael and his Archangels, and Satan and
his fallen compeers. Hence the wars of Jupiter and the Giants, in which th
Gods of Olympus fought on the side of the Light-God, agains the dark
progeny of earth and Chaos; a war which Proclus regarded as symbolizing the
resistance opposed by dark and chaotic matter to the active and beneficent
force which gives it organization; an idea which in part appears in the old
theory of two Principles, one innate in the active and luminous substance
of Heaven, and the other in the inert and dark substance of matter that
resists the order and the good that Heaven communicates to it.
Osiris conquers Typhon, and Ormuzd, Ahriman, when, at the Vernal Equinox,
the creative action of Heaven and its demiourgic energy is most strongly
manifested. Then the principle of Light and Good overcomes that of Darkness
and Evil, and the world rejoices, redeemed from cold and wintry darkness by
the beneficent Sign into which the Sun then enters triumphant and
rejoicing, after his resurrection.
From the doctrine of the two Principles, Active and Passive grew that of
the Universe, animated by a Principle of Eternal Life, and by a Universal
Soul, from which every isolated and temporary being received at its birth
an emanation, which, at the death of such being, returned to its source.
The life of matter as much belonged to nature as did matter itself; and as
life is manifested by movement, the sources of life must needs seem to be
placed in those luminous and eternal bodies, and above all in the Heaven in
which they revolve, and which whirls them along with itself in that rapid
course that is swifter than all other movement. And fire and heat have so
great an analogy with life, that cold like absence of movement, seemed the
distinctive characteristic of death. Accordingly, the vital fire that
blazes in the Sun and produces the heat that vivifies everything, was
regarded as the principle of organization and life of all sublunary beings.
According to this doctrine, the Universe is not to be regarded in its
creative and eternal action, merely as an immense machine moved by powerful
springs and forced into a continual movement which, emanating from the
circumference, extends to the centre acts and re-acts in every possible
direction, and re-produces in succession all the varied forms which matter
receives. So to regard it would be to recognize a cold and purely
mechanical action, the energy of which could never produce life.
On the contrary, it was thought, the Universe should be deemed an immense
Being, always living, always moved and always moving in an eternal activity
inherent in itself, and which, subordinate to no foreign cause, is
communicated to all its parts, connects them together, and makes of the
world of things a complete and perfect whole. The order and harmony which
reign therein seem to belong to and be a part of it, and the design of the
various plans of construction of organized beings would seem to be graven
in its Supreme Intelligence, source of all the other Intelligences which it
communicates together with life to man. Nothing existing out of it, it must
be regarded as the principle and term of all things.
Chaeremon had no reason for saying that the Ancient Egyptians, inventors of
the sacred fables, and adorers of the Sun and the other luminaries, saw in
the Universe only a machine, without life and without intelligence, either
in its whole or in its parts; and that their cosmogony was a pure
Epicureanism, which required only matter and movement to organize its world
and govern it. Such an opinion would necessarily exclude all religious
worship. Wherever we suppose a worship, there we must suppose intelligent
Deities who receive it, and are sensible to the homage of their adorers;
and no other people were so religious as the Egyptians.
On the contrary, with them the immense, immutable, and Eternal Being,
termed "God" or "the Universe," had eminently, and in all their plenitude,
that life and intelligence which sublunary beings, each an infinitely small
and temporary portion of itself, possess in a far inferior degree and
infinitely less quantity. It was to them, in some sort, like the Ocean,
whence the springs, brooks, and rivers have risen by evaporation, and to
the bosom whereof they return by a longer or shorter course, and after a
longer or shorter separation from the immense mass of its waters. The
machine of the Universe was, in their view, like that of man, moved by a
Principle of Life which kept it in eternal activity, and circulated in all
its parts. The Universe was a living and animated being, like man and the
other animals; or rather they were so only because the Universe was
essentially so, and for a few moments communicated to each an infinitely
minute portion of its eternal life, breathed by it into the inert and gross
matter of sublunary bodies. That withdrawn, man or the animal died; and the
Universe alone, living and circulating around the wrecks of their bodies,
by its eternal movement, organized and animated new bodies, returning to
them the eternal fire and subtle substance which vivifies itself, and
which, incorporated in its immense mass, was its universal soul.
28º - Knight of the Sun or Prince Adept ( Part 3 )
These were the ancient ideas as to this Great GOD, Father of all the gods,
or of the World; of this BEING, Principle of all things, and of which
nothing other than itself is Principle,--the Universal cause that was
termed God. Soul of the Universe, eternal like it, immense like it,
supremely active and potent in its varied operations, penetrating all parts
of this vast body, impressing a regular and symmetrical movement on the
spheres, making the elements instinct with activity and order, mingling
with everything, organizing everything, vivifying and preserving
everything,--this was the UNIVERSE-GOD which the ancients adored as Supreme
Cause and God of Gods.
Anchises, in the AEneid, taught AEneas this doctrine of Pythagoras, learned
by him from his Masters, the Egyptians, in regard to the Soul and
Intelligence of the Universe, from which our souls and intelligences, as
well as our life and that of the animals, emanate, Heaven, Earth, the Sea,
the Moon and the Stars, he said, are moved by a principle of internal life
which perpetuates their existence; a great intelligent soul, that
penetrates every part of the vast body of the Universe, and, mingling with
everything, agitates it by an eternal movement. It is the source of life in
all living things. The force which animates all, emanates from the eternal
fire that burns in Heaven. In the Georgics, Virgil repeats the same
doctrine; and that, at the death of every animal, the life that animated
it, part of the universal life, returns to its Principle and to the source
of life that circulates in the sphere of the Stars.
Servius makes God the active Cause that organizes the elements into bodies,
the vivifying breath or spirit, that, spreading through matter or the
elements, produces and engenders all things. The elements compose the
substance of our bodies: God composes the souls that vivifv these bodies.
From it come the instincts of animals, from it their life, he says: and
when they die, that life returns to and re-enters into the Universal Soul,
and their bodies into Universal Matter.
Timceus of Locria and Plato his Commentator wrote of the Soul of the World,
devoloping the doctrine of Pythagoras, who thought, says Cicero, that God
is the Universal Soul, resident everywhere in nature, and of which our
Souls are but emanations. '"God is one," says Pythagoras, as cited by
Justin Martyr: "He is not, as some think, without the world, but within it,
and entire in its entirety. He sees all that becomes, forms all immortal
beings, is the author of their powers and performances, the origin of all
things, the Light of Heaven, the Father, the Intelligence, the Soul of all
beings, the Mover of all spheres."
God, in the view of Pythagoras, was ONE, a single substance, whose
continuous parts extended through all the Universe, without separation,
difference, or inequality, like the soul in the human body. He denied the
doctrine of the spiritualists, who had severed the Divinity from the
Universe, making Him exist apart from the Universe, which thus became no
more than a material work, on which acted the Abstract Cause, a God,
isolated from it. The Ancient Theology did not so separate God from the
Universe. This Eusebius attests, in saying that but a small number of wise
men, like Moses, had sought for God or the Cause of all, outside of that
AIL; while the Philosophers of Egypt and Phoenicia, real authors of all the
old Cosmogonies, had placed the Supreme Cause in the Universe itself, and
in its parts, so that, in their view, the world and all its parts are in God.
The World or Universe was thus compared to man: the Principle of Life that
moves it, to that which moves man; the Soul of the World to that of man.
Therefore Pythagoras called man a microcosm, or little world, as possessing
in miniature all the qualities found on a great scale in the Universe; by
his reason and intelligence partaking of the Divine Nature: and by his
faculty of changing aliments into other substances, of growing, and
reproducing himself, partaking of elementary Nature. Thus he made the
Universe a great intelligent Being, like man--an immense Deity, having in
itself, what man has in himself, movement, life, and intelligence, and
besides, a perpetuity of existence, which man has not; and, as having in
itself perpetuity of movement and life, therefore the Supreme Cause of all.
Everywhere extended, this Universal Soul does not, in the view of
Pythagoras, act everywhere equally nor in the same manner. The highest
portion of the Universe, being as it were its head, seemed to him its
principal seat, and there was the guiding power of the rest of the world.
In the seven concentric spheres is resident an eternal order, fruit of the
intelligence, the Universal Soul that moves, by a constant and regular
progression, the immortal bodies that form the harmonious system of the
Manilius says: "I sing the invisible and potent Soul of Nature; that Divine
Substance which, everywhere inherent in Heaven Earth, and the Waters of the
Ocean, forms the bond that holds together and makes one all the parts of
the vast body of the Universe. It, balancing all Forces, and harmoniously
arranging varied relations of the many members of the world, maintains it
the life and regular movement that agitate it, as a result of action of the
living breath or single spirit that dwells in all parts, circulates in all
the channels of universal nature, flashes with rapidity to all its points,
and gives to animated bodies configurations appropriate to the organization
of each .... This eternal Law, this Divine Force, that maintains the
harmony the world, makes use of the Celestial Signs to organize and guide
the animated creatures that breathe upon the earth; and gives each of them
the character and habits most appropriate. By action of this Force Heaven
rules the condition of the Earth and of its fields cultivated by the
husbandman: it gives us or takes from us vegetation and harvests: it makes
the great ocean over-pass its limits at the flow, and retire within them
again at ebbing, of the tide."
Thus it is no longer by means of a poetic fiction only that heavens and the
earth become animated and personified, and a deemed living existences, from
which other existences proceed. For now they live, with their own life, a
life eternal like th bodies, each gifted with a life and perhaps a soul,
like those man, a portion of the universal life and universal soul; and the
other bodies that they form, and which they contain in the bosoms, live
only through them and with their life, as the embry lives in the bosom of
its mother, in consequence and by means a the life communicated to it, and
which the mother ever maintains by the active power of her own life. Such
is the universal life the world, reproduced in all the beings which its
superior portion creates in its inferior portion, that is as it were the
mnatrix of the world, or of the beings that the heavens engender in its bosom.
"The soul of the world," says Macrobius, "is nature itself" [as the soul of
man is man himself], "always acting through the celestial spheres which it
moves, and which but follow the irresistible impulse it impresses on them.
The heavens, the sun, great seat of generative power, the signs, the stars,
and the planets act only with the activity of the soul of the Universe.
From that soul, through them, come all the variations and challges of
sublunary nature, of which the heavens and celestial bodies are but the
secondary causes. The zodiac, with its signs, is an existence, immortal and
divine, organized by the universal soul, and producing, or gathering in
itself, all the varied emanations of the different powers that make up the
nature of the Divinity."
This doctrine, that gave to the heavens and the spheres living souls, each
a portion of the universal soul, was of extreme antiquity. It was held by
the old Sabaeans. It was taught by Timaeus, P]ato, Speusippus, Iamblichus,
Macrobius, Marcus Aurelius, and Pythagoras. When once men had assigned a
soul to the Universe, containing in itself the plenitude of the animal life
of particular beings, and even of the stars, they soon supposed that soul
to be essentially intelligent, and the source of intelligence of all
intelligent beings. Then the Universe became to them not only animated but
intelligent, and of that intelligence the different parts of nature
partook. Each soul was the vehicle, and, as it were, the envelope of the
intelligence that attached itself to it, and could repose nowhere else.
Without a soul there could be no intelligence; and as there was a universal
soul, source of all souls, the universal soul was gifted with a universal
intelligence, source of all particular intelligences. So the soul of the
world contained in itself the intelligence of the world. All the agents of
nature into which the universal soul entered, received also a portion of
its intelligence, and the Universe, in its totality and in its parts, was
filled with intelligences, that might be regarded as so many emanations
from the sovereign and universal intelligence. Wherever the divine soul
acted as a cause, there also was intelligence; and thus Heaven, the stars,
the elements, and all parts of the Universe, became the seats of so many
divine intelligences. Every minutest portion of the great soul became a
partial intelligence, and the more it was disengaged from gross matter, the
more active and intelligent it was. And all the old adorers of nature, the
theologians, astrologers, and poets, and the most distinguished
philosophers, supposed that the stars were so many animated and intelligent
beings, or eternal bodies, active causes of effects here below, whom a
principle of life animated, and whom an intelligence directed, which was
but an emanation from, and a portion of, the universal life and
intelligence of the world.
The Universe itself was regarded as a supremely intelligent being. Such was
the doctrine of Timaeus of Locria. The soul of man was part of the
intelligent soul of the Universe, and therefore itself intelligent. His
opinion was that of many other philosophers Cleanthes, a disciple of ZENO,
regarded the Universe as God, or a the unproduced and universal cause of
all effects produced. He ascribed a soul and intelligence to universal
nature, and to this intelligent soul, in his view, divinity belonged. From
it the intelligence of man was an emanation, and shared its divinity.
Chrysippus, the most subtle of the Stoics, placed in the universal reason
that forms the soul and intelligence of nature, that divine force or
essence of the Divinity which he assigned to the world moved by the
universal soul that pervades its every part.
An interlocutor in Cicero's work, De Natura Deorum, formally argues that
the Universe is necessarily intelligent and wise, because man, an
infinitely small portion of it, is so. Cicero makes the same argument in
his oration for Milo. The physicists came to the same conclusion as the
pllilosophers. They supposed that movement essentially belonged to the
soul, and the direction of regular and ordered movements to the
intelligence. And, as both movement and order exist in the Universe,
therefore, they held, there must be in it a soul and an intelligence that
rule it, and are not to be distinguished from itself; because the idea of
the Universe is but the aggregate of all the particular ideas of all things
The argument was, that the Heavens, and the Stars which make part of them,
are animated, because they possess a portion of the Universal Soul: they
are intelligent beings, because that Universal Soul, part whereof they
possess, is supremely intelligent and they share Divinity with Universal
Nature, because Divinity resides in the Universal Soul and Intelligence
which move an rule the world, and of each of which they hold a share. By
this process of logic, the interlocutor in Cicero assigned Divinity to the
Stars, as animated beings gifted with sensibility and intelligence, and
composed of the noblest and purest portions of the ethereal substance,
unmixed with matter of an alien nature, an essentially containing light and
heat. Hence he concluded them to be so many gods, of an intelligence
superior to that of other existences, corresponding to the lofty height in
which they moved with such perfect regularity and admirable harmony, with a
movement spontaneous and free. Hence he made them "Gods," active, eternal,
and intelligent "Causes"; and peopled the realm of Heaven with a host of
Eternal Intelligences, celestial Genii or Angels, sharing the universal
Divinity, and associated with it in the administration of the Universe, and
the dominion exercised over sublunary nature and man.
We make the motive-force of the planets to be a mechanical law, which we
explain by the combination of two forces, the centripetal and centrifugal,
whose origin we cannot demonstrate, but whose force we can calculate. The
ancients regarded them as moved by an intelligent force that had its origin
in the first and universal Intelligence. Is it so certain, after all, that
we are any nearer the truth than they were; or that we know what our
"centripetal and centrifugal forces" mean; for what is a force? With us,
the entire Deity acts upon and moves each planet, as He does the sap that
circulates in the little blade of grass, and in the particles of blood in
the tiny veins of the invisible rotifer. With the Ancients, the Deity of
each Star was but a portion of the Universal God, the Soul of Nature. Each
Star and Planet, with them, was moved of itself, and directed by its own
special intelligence. And this opinion of Achilles Tatius, Diodorus,
Chrysippus, Aristotlc, Plato, Heraclides of Pontus, Theophrastus,
Simplicius, Macrobius, and Proclus, that in each Star there is an immortal
Soul and Intelligence,--part of the Universal Soul and Intelligence of the
Whole,--this opinion of Orpheus, Plotinus, and the Stoics, was in reality,
that of many Christian philosophers. For Origen held the same opinion; and
Augustin held that every visible thing in the world was superintended by an
Aneglic Power: and Cosma, the Monk, believed that every Star was under the
guidance of an Angel; and the author of the Octateuch, written in the time
of the Emperor Justin, says that they are moved by the impulse communicated
to them by Angels stationed above the firmament. Whether the stars were
animated beings, was a question that Christian antiquity did not decide.
Many of the Christian doctors believed they were. Saint Augustin hesitates,
Saint Jerome doubts, if Solomon did not assign souls to the Stars. Saint
Ambrose does not doubt they have souls; and Pamphilus says that many of the
Church believe they are reasonable beings, while many think otherwise, but
that neither one nor the other opinion is heretical.
Thus the Ancient Thought, earnest and sincere, wrought out the idea of a
Soul inherent in the Universe and in its several parts. The next step was
to separate that Soul from the Universe, and give to it an external and
independent existence an personality; still omnipresent, in every inch of
space and in every particle of matter, and yet not a part of Nature, but
its Cause and its Creator. This is the middle ground between the two
doctrine of Pantheism (or that all is God, and God is in all and is all),
on the one side, and Atheism (or that all is nature, and there is no other
God), on the other; which doctrines, after all, when reduced to their
simplest terms, seem to be the same.
We complacently congratulate ourselves on our recognition of personal God,
as being the conception most suited to human sympathies, and exempt from
the mystifications of Pantheism. But the Divinity remains still a mystery,
notwithstanding all the devices which symbolism, either from the organic or
inorganic creation, can supply; and personification is itself a symbol,
liable misapprehension as much as, if not more so than, any other, since it
is apt to degenerate into a mere reflection of our own infirmities; and
hence any affirmative idea or conception that we can, our own minds,
picture of the Deity, must needs be infinitely inadequate.
The spirit of the Vedas (or sacred Indian Books, of great antiquity), as
understood by their earliest as well as most recent expositors, is
decidedly a pantheistic monotheism--one God, a He all in all; the many
divinities, numerous as the prayers a dressed to them, being resolvable
into the titles and attributes of a few, and ultimately into THE ONE. The
machinery of personification was understood to have been unconsciously
assumed as mere expedient to supply the deficiencies of language; and the
Mimansa justly considered itself as only interpreting the true meaning of
the Mantras, when it proclaimed that, in the beginning, "Nothing was but
Mind, the Creative Thought of Him which existed alone from the beginning,
and breathed without afflation." The idea suggested in the Mantras is
dogmatically asserted and developed in the Upanischadas. The Vedanta
philosophy, assuming the mystery of the "ONE IN MANY" as the fundamental
article of faith, maintained not only the Divine Unity, but the identity of
matter and spirit. The unity which it advocates is that of mind. Mind is
the Universal Element, the One God, the Great Soul, Mahaatma. He is the
material as well as efficient cause, and the world is a texture of which he
is both the web and the weaver. He is the Macrocosmos, the universal
organism called Pooroosha, of which Fire, Air, and Sun are only the chief
members. His head is light, his eyes the sun and moon, his breath the wind,
his voice the opened Vedas. All proceeds from Brahm, like the web from the
spider and the grass from the earth.
Yet it is only the impossibility of expressing in language the origination
of matter from spirit, which gives to Hindu philosophy the appearance of
materialisrm. Formless Himself, the Deity is present in all forms. His
glory is displayed in the Universe as the image of the sun in water, which
is, yet is not, the luminary itself. All maternal agency and appearance,
the subjective world, are to a great extent phantasms, the notional
representations of ignorance. They occupy, however, a middle ground between
reality and non-reality; they are unreal, because nothing exists but Brahm;
yet in some degree real, inasmuch as they constitute an outward
manifestation of him. They are a self-induced hypostasis of the Deity,
under which He presents to Himself the whole of animate and inanimate
Nature, the actuality of the moment, the diversified appearances which
successively invest the one Pantheistic Spirit.
The great aim of reason is to generalize; to discover unity in
multiplicity, order in apparent confusion; to separate from the accidental
and the transitory, the stable and universal. In the contemplation of
Nature, and the vague, but almost intuitive perception of a general
uniformity of plan among endless varieties of operation and form, arise
those solemn and reverential feelings, which, if accompanied by
intellectual activity, may eventually ripen into philosophy.
Consciousness of self and of personal identity is co-existent with our
existence. We cannot conceive of mental existence without it. It is not the
work of reflection nor of logic, nor the result of observation, experiment,
and experience. It is a gift from God, like instinct; and that
consciousness of a thinking soul which is really the person that we are,
and other than our body, is the best and most solid proof of the soul's
existence. We have the same consciousness of a Power on which we are
dependent; which we can define and form an idea or picture of, as little as
we can of the soul, and yet which we feel, and therefore know, exists. True
at correct ideas of that Power, of the Absolute Existence from which all
procceds, we cannot trace; if by true and correct we mean equate ideas; for
of such we are not, with our limited faculties, capable. And ideas of His
nature, so far correct as we are capable of entertaining, can only be
attained either by direct inspiration or by the investigations of philosophy.
The idea of the universal preceded the recognition of any system for its
explanation. It was felt rather than understood; and it was long before the
grand conception on which all philosophy rests received through deliberate
investigation that analytical development which might properly entitle it
to the name. The sentiment, when first observed by the self-conscious mind,
was, says Plato, "a Divine gift, communicated to mankind by some
Prometheus, or by those ancients who lived nearer to the gods than our
degenerate selves." The mind deduced from its first experiences the notion
of a general Cause or Antecedent, to which it shortly gave a name and
personified it. This was the statement of a theorem, obscure in proportion
to its generality. It explained all things but itself. It was a true cause,
but an incomprehensible one. Ages had to pass before the nature of the
theorem could rightly appreciated, and before men, acknowledging the First
Cause to be an object of faith rather than science, were contented to
confine their researches to those nearer relations of existence and
succession, which are really within the reach of their faculties. At first,
and for a long time, the intellect deserted the real for a hastily-formed
ideal world, and the imagination usurped the place of reason, in attempting
to put a construction on the most general and inadequate of conceptions, by
transmuting its symbols into realities, and by substantializing it under a
thousand arbitrary forms.
In poetry, the idea of Divine unity became, as in Nature, obscured by a
multifarious symbolism; and the notionalities of transcendental philosophy
reposed on views of nature scarcely more profound than those of the
earliest symbolists. Yet the idea of unity was rather obscured than
extinguished; and Xenophanes appeared as an enemy of Homer, only because he
more emphatically insisted on the monotheistic element, which, in poetry,
has been comparatively overlooked. The first philosophy reasserted the
unity which poetry had lost; but being unequal to investigate its nature,
it again resigned it to the world of approximate sensations, and became
bewildered in materialism, considering the conceptional whole or First
Element as some refinement of matter, unchangeable in its essence, though
subject to mutations of quality form in an eternal succession of seeming
decay and regeneration; comparing it to water, air, or fire, as each
endeavored to refine on the doctrine of his predecessor, or was influenced
by a different class of theological traditions.
In the philosophical systems, the Divine Activity, divided by the poets and
by popular belief among a race of personifications, in whom the idea of
descent replaced that of cause, or of pantheistic evolution, was restored,
without subdivision or reservation, to nature as a whole; at first as a
mechanical force or life; afterward as an all-pervading soul or inherent
thought; and lastly as an external directing Intelligence.
The Ionian revival of pantheism was materialistic. The Moving Force was
inseparable from a material element, a subtle yet visible ingredient. Under
the form of air or fire, the principle of life was associated with the most
obvious material machinery of nature. Everything, it was said, is alive and
full of gods. The wonders of the volcano, the magnet, the ebb and flow of
the tide, were vital indications, the breathing or moving of the Great
World-Animal. The imperceptible ether of Anaximenes had no positive quality
beyond the atmospheric air with which it was easily confused: and even the
"Infinite" of Anaximander, though free of the conditions of quality or
quantity, was only an ideal chaos, relieved of its coarseness by negations.
It was the illimitable storehouse or Pleroma, out of which is evolved the
endless circle of phenomenal change. A moving Force was recognized in, but
not clearly distinguished from, the material. Space, Time, Figure, and
Number, and other common forms or properties, which exist only as
attributes, were treated as substances, or at least as making a substantial
connection between the objects to which they belong: and all the conditions
of material existence were supposed to have been evolved out of the
The Eleatic philosophers treated conceptions not only as entities, but as
the only entities, alone possessing the stability an certainty and reality
vainly sought among phenomena. The only reality was Thought. "All real
existence," they said, "is mental existence; non-existence, being
inconceivable, is therefore impossble; existence fills up the whole range
of thought, and is inseparable from its exercise; thought and its object
Xenophanes used ambiguous language, applicable to the material as well as
to the mental, and exclusively appropriate neither. In other words, he
availed himself of material imagery to illustrate an indefinite meaning. In
announcing the universal being, he appealed to the heavens as the visible
manifestation, calling it spherical, a term borrowed from the material
world. He said that God was neither moved nor unmoved, limited nor
unlimited. He did not even attempt to express clearly what cannot be
conceived clearly; admitting, says Simplicius, that such speculations were
above physics. Parmenides employed similar expedients, comparing his
metaphysical Deity to a sphere, or to heat an aggregate or a continuity,
and so involuntarily withdrawing its nominal attributes.
The Atomic school, dividing the All into Matter and Force deemed matter
unchangeable in its ultimate constitution, though infinitely variable in
its resultant forms. They made all variety proceed from the varied
combinations of atoms; but they required no mover nor director of the atoms
external to themselves; universal Reason; but a Mechanical Eternal
Necessity, like that of the Poets. Still it is doubtful whether there ever
was a time when reason could be said to be entirely asleep, a stranger to
its own existence, notwithstanding this apparent materialism. The earliest
contemplation of the external world, which brings it into an imagined
association with ourselves, assigns, either to its whole or its parts, the
sensation and volition which belong to our own souls.
Anaxagoras admitted the existence of ultimate elementary particles, as
Empedocles did, from the combinations whereof material phenomena resulted.
But he asserted the Moving Force to be Mind; and yet, though he clearly saw
the impossibility of advancing by illustration or definition beyond a
reasonable faith, or a simple negation of materiality, yet he could not
wholly desist from the endeavor to illustrate the nature of this non-matter
or mind, by symbols drawn from those physical considerations which decided
him in placing it in a separate category. Whether as human reason, or as
the regulating Principle in nature, he held it different from all other
things in character and effect, and that therefore it must necessarily
differ in its essenticll constitution. It was neither Matter, nor a Force
conjoined with matter, or homogeneous with it, but independent and
generically distinct, especially in that, being the source of all motion,
separation, and cognintion it is something entirely unique, pure, and
unmixed; and so, being unhindered by any interfering influence limiting its
independence of individual action, it has Supreme Empire over all things,
over the vortex of worlds as well as over all that live in them. It is most
penetrating and powerful, mixing with other things, though no other thing
mixes with it; exercises universal control and cognition, and includes the
Necessity of the Poets, as well as the independent power of thought which
we exercise within ourselves. In short, it is the self-conscious power of
thought extended to the Universe, and exalted into the Supreme External
Mind which sees, knows, and directs all things.
Thus Pantheism and Materialism were both avoided; and matter, though as
infinitely varied as the senses represent it, was held in a bond of unity
transferred to a ruling power apart from it. That Power could not be Prime
Mover, if it were itself moved; nor All-Governing, if not apart from the
things it governs. If the arranging Principle were inherent in matter, it
would have been impossible to account for the existence of a chaos: if
something external, then the old Ionian doctrine of a "beginning" became
more easily conceivable, as being the epoch at which the Arranging
Intelligence commenced its operations.
But this grand idea of an all-governing independent mind involved
difficulties which proved insuperable; because it gave to matter, in the
form of chaos, an independent and eternal self-existence, and so introduced
a dualism of mind and matter. In the Mind or Intelligence, Anaxagoras
included not only life and motion, but the moral principles of the noble
and good; and probably used the term on account of the popular
misapplication of the word "God," and as being less liable to
misconstruction, and more specifically marking his idea. His "Intelligence"
principle remained practically liable to many of the same defects as the
"Necessity" of the poets. It was the presentiment of a great idea, which it
was for the time impossible to explain or follow out. It was not yet
intelligible, nor was even the road operled throu which it might be approached.
Mind cannot advance in metaphysics beyond self-deification. In attempting
to go further, it only enacts the apotheosis of own subtle conceptions, and
so sinks below the simpler ground already taken. The realities which Plato
could not recognize in phenomena, he discovered within his own mind, and as
unhesitatingly as the old Theosophists installed its creations among the
gods. He, like most philosophers after Anaxagoras, made the Supreme Being
to be Intelligence; but in other respects left His nature undefined, or
rather indefinite through the variety of definitions, a conception vaguely
floating between Theism and Pantheism. Though deprecating the demoralizing
tendencies of poetry, he was too wise to attempt to replace them by other
representations of a positive kind. He justly says, that spirit things can
be made intelligible only through figures; and the forms of allegorical
expression which, in a rude age, had been adopted unconsciously, were
designedly chosen by the philosopher as the most appropriate vehicles for
As the devices of symbolism were gradually stripped away, in order, if
possible, to reach the fundamental conception, the religious feeling
habitually connected with it seemed to evaporate under the process. And yet
the advocates of Monotheism, Xenophanes and Heraclitus, declaimed only
against the making of gods in human form. They did not attempt to strip
nature of its divinity, but rather to recall religious contemplation from
an exploded symbolism to a purer one. They continued the veneration which,
in the background of poetry, has been maintained for Sun and Stars, the
Fire or Ether. Socrates prostrated himself before the rising luminary; and
the eternal spheres, which seem to have shared the religious homage of
Xenophanes, retained a secondary and qualified Divinity in the Schools of
the Peripatetics and Stoics.
The unseen being or beings revealed only to the Intellect became the theme
of philosophy; and their more ancient symbols, if not openly discredited,
were passed over with evasive generality, as beings respecting whose
problematical existence we must be "content with what has been reported by
those ancients, who, assuming to be their descendants, must therefore be
supposed to have been well acquainted with their own ancestors and family
connections." And the Theism of Anaxagoras was still more decidedly
subversive, not only of Mythology, but of the whole religion of outward
nature; it being an appeal from the world without, to the consciousness of
spiritual dignity within man.
In the doctrines of Aristotle, the world moves on uninterruptedly, always
changing, yet ever the same, like Time, the Eternal Now, knowing neither
repose nor death. There is a principle which makes good the failure of
identity, by multiplying resemblances; the destruction of the individual by
an eternal renewal of the form in which matter is manifested. This regular
eternal movement implies an Eternal Mover; not an inert Eternity, such as
the Platonic Eidos, but one always acting, His essence being to act, for
otherwise he might never have acted, and the existence of the world would
be an accident; for what should have, in that case, decided Him to act,
after long inactivity? Nor can He be partly in act and partly potential,
that is, quiescent and undetermined to act or not to act, for even in that
case motion would not be eternal, but contingent and precarious. He is
therefore wholly in act, a pure, untiring activity, and for the same
reasons wholly immaterial. Thus Aristotle avoided the idea that God was
inactive and self-contemplative for an eternity, and then for some unknown
reason, or by some unknown motive, commenced to act outwardly and produce;
but he incurred the opposite hazard, of making the result of His action,
matter and the Universe, be coexistent with Himself; or, in other words, of
denying that there was any time when His outward action commenced.
The First Cause, he said, unmoved, moves all. Act was first, and the
Universe has existed forever; one persistent cause directing its
continuity. The unity of the First Mover follows from His immateriality. If
He were not Himself unmoved, the series of motions and causes of motion
would be infinite. Unmoved, therefore, and unchangeable Himself, all
movement, even that in space, is caused by Him: He is necessary: He cannot
be otherwise than as He is; and it is only through the necessity of His
being that we can account for those necessary eternal relations which make
a science of Being possible. Thus Aristotle leaned to a seemingly personal
God; not a Being of parts and passions, like the God of the Hebrews, or
that of the mass even of educated men in our own day, but a Substantial
Head of all the categories of being, an Individuality of Intelligence, the
dogma of Anaxagoras revived out of a more elaborate and profound analysis
of Nature; something like that living unambiguous Principle which the old
poets in advance of the materialistic cosmogonists from Night a Chaos, had
discovered in Ouranos or Zeus. Soon, however, the vision of personality is
withdrawn, and we reach that culminating point of thought where the real
blends with the ideal; where moral action and objective thought (that is,
thought exercised to anything outside of itself), as well as the material
body, a excluded; and where the divine action in the world retains veil of
impenetrable mystery, and to the utmost ingenuity research presents but a
contradiction. At this extreme, the series of efficient causes resolves
itself into the Final Cause. That which moves, itself unmoved, can only be
the immobility Thought or Form. God is both formal, efficient, and final
cause; the One Form comprising all forms, the one good including good, the
goal of the longing of the University, moving the world as the object of
love or rational desire moves the individual. He is the internal or
self-realized Final Cause, having no end beyond Himself. He is no moral
agent; for if He were, He would be but an instrument for producing
something still higher and greater. One sort of act only, activity of mind
or thought, can be assigned to Him who is at once all act yet all repose.
What we call our highest pleasure, which distinguishes wakefulness and
sensation and which gives a reflected charm to hope and memory, is with Him
perpetual. His existence is unbroken enjoyment of that which is most
excellent but only temporary with us. The divine quality of active and yet
tranquil self-contemplation characterizing intelligence, is pre-eminently
possessed by the divine mind; His thought, which is His existence, being,
unlike ours, unconditional and wholly act. If He can receive any
gratification or enjoyment from that which exists beyond Himself, He can
also be displeased and pained with it, and then He would be an imperfect
being. To suppose pleasure experienced by Him from anything outward,
supposes insufficient prior enjoyment and happiness, and a sort of
dependency. Man's Good is beyond himself; not so God's. The eternal act
which produces the world's life is the eternal desire of good. The object
of the Absolute Thought is the Absolute Good. Nature is all movement, and
Thought all repose. In contemplating that absolute good, the Finality can
contemplate only itself; and thus, all material interference being
excluded, the distinction of subject and object vanishes in complete
identification, and the Divine Thought is "the thinking of thought." The
energy of mind is life, and God is that energy in its purity and
perfection. He is therefore life itself, eternal and perfect; and this sums
up all that is meant by the term "God." And yet, after all this
transcendentalism, the very essence of thought consists in its mobility and
power of transference from object to object; and we can conceive of no
thought, without an object beyond itself, about which to think, or of any
activity in mere self-contemplation, without outward act, movement, or
Plato endeavors to show how the Divine Principle of Good becomes realized
in Nature: Aristotle's system is a vast analogical induction to prove how
all Nature tends toward a final good. Plato considered Soul as a principle
of movement, and made his Deity realize, that is, turn into realities, his
ideas as a free, intelligent Force. Aristotle, for whom Soul is the
motionless centre from which motion radiates, and to which it converges,
conceives a correspondingly unmoved God. The Deity of Plato creates,
superintends, and rejoices in the universal joy of, His creatures. That of
Aristotle is the perfection of man's intellectual activity extended to the
Universe. When he makes the Deity to be an eternal act of
self-contemplation, the world is not excluded from His cognizance, for He
contemplates it within Himself. Apart from and beyond the world, He yet
mysteriously intermingles with it. He is universal as well as individual;
His agency is necessary and general, yet also makes the real and the good
of the particular.
When Plato had given to the unformed world the animal life of the Ionians,
and added to that the Anaxagorean Intelligence, overruling the wild
principle of Necessity; and when to Intelligence was added Beneficence; and
the dread Wardours, Force and Strength, were made subordinate to Mildness
and Goodness, it seemed as if a further advance were impossible, and that
the Deity could not be more than The Wise and The Good.
But the contemplation of the Good implies that of its opposite, Evil. When
God is held to be "The Good," it is not because Evil is unknown, but
because it is designedly excluded from His attributes. But if Evil be a
separate and independent existence, how would it fare with His prerogative
of Unity and Supremacy? To meet this dilemma, it remained only to fall back
on something more or less akin to the vagueness of antiquity; to make a
virtual confession of ignorance, to deny the ultimate reality of evil, like
Plato and Aristotle, or, with Speusippus, the eternity of its antithetical
existence, to surmise that it is only one of those notions which are indeed
provisionally indispensable in a condition of finite knowledge, but of
which so many have been already discredited by the advance of philosophy;
to revert, in short, to the original conception of "The Absolute," or of a
single Being, in whom all mysteries are explained, and before whom the
disturbing principle is reduced to a mere turbid spot on the ocean of
Eternity, which to the eye of faith may be said no longer to exist.
But the absolute is nearly allied to the non-existent. Matter and evil
obtruded themselves too constantly and convincingly to be confuted or
cancelled by subtleties of Logic. It is in vain to attempt to merge the
world in God, while the world of experience exhibits contrariety,
imperfection, and mutability, instead of the immutability of its source.
Philosophy was but another name for uncertainty; and after the mind had
successively deified Nature and its own conceptions, without any practical
result but toilsome occupation; when the reality it sought, without or
within, seemed ever to elude its grasp, the intellect, baffled in its
higher flights, sought advantage and repose in aiming at truth of a lower
but more applicable kind.
The Deity of Plato is a Being proportioned to human sympathies; the Father
of the World, as well as its Creator; the author of good only, not of evil.
"Envy," he says, "is far removed from celestial beings, and man, if
willing, and braced for the effort, is permitted to aspire to a communion
with the solemn troops and sweet societies of Heaven. God is the Idea or
Essence of Goodness, the Good itself: in goodness, He created the World,
and gave to it the greatest perfection of which it was susceptible; making
it, as far as possible, an image of Himself. The sublime type of all
excellence is an object not only of veneration but love." The Sages of old
had already intimated in enigmas that God is the Author of Good; that like
the Sun in Heaven, or AEsculapius on earth, He is "Healer," "Saviour," and
"Redeemer," the destroyer and averter of Evil, ever healing the mischiefs
inflicted by Here, the wanton or irrational power of nature.
Plato only asserts with more distinctness the dogma of antiquity when he
recognizes Love as the highest and most beneficent of gods, who gives to
nature the invigorating energy restored by the art of medicine to the body;
since Love is emphatically the physician of the Universe, the AEsculapius
to whom Socrates wished to sacrifice in the hour of his death.
A figurative idea, adopted from familiar imagery, gave that endearing
aspect to the divine connection with the Universe which had commanded the
earliest assent of the sentiments, until, rising in refinement with the
progress of mental cultivation, it ultimately established itself as firmly
in the deliberate approbation of the understanding, as it had ever
responded to the sympathies. Even the rude Scythians, Bithynians, and
Scandinavians, called God their "Father"; all nations traced their ancestry
more or less directly to Heaven. The Hyperborean Olen, one of the oldest
symbols of the religious antiquity of Greece, made Love the First born of
Nature. Who will venture to pronounce at what time God was first worthily
and truly honored, or when man first began to feel aright the mute
eloquence of nature? In the obscure physics of the mystical Theologers who
preceded Greek philosophy, Love was the Great First Cause and Parent of the
Universe. "Zeus," says Proclus, "when entering upon the work of creation,
changed Himself into the form of Love: and He brought forward Aphrodite,
the principle of Unity and Universal Harmony, to display her light to all.
In the depths of His mysterious being, He contains the principle of love
within Himself; in Him creative wisdom and blessed love are united."
"From the first
Of Days on these his love divine be fixed,
His admiration; till in time complete
What he admired and loved, his vital smile
Unfolded into being."
The speculators of the venerable East, who had conceived the idea of an
Eternal Being superior to all affection and change, in his own sufficiency
enjoying a plenitude of serene and independent bliss, were led to inquire
into the apparently inconsistent fact of the creation of the world. Why,
they asked, did He, who required nothing external to Himself to complete
His already existing Perfection, come forth out of His unrevealed and
perfect existence, and become incorporated in the vicissitudes of nature?
The solution of the difficulty was Love. The Great Being beheld the beauty
of His own conception, which dwelt with Him alone from the beginning, Maia,
or Nature's loveliness, at once the germ of passion and the source of
worlds. Love became the universal parent, when the Deity, before remote and
inscrutable, became ideally separated into the loving and the beloved.
And here again recurs the ancient difficulty; that, at whatever early
period this creation occurred, an eternity had previously elapsed, during
which God, dwelling alone in His unimpeached unity, had no object for His
love; and that the very word implies to us an existing object toward which
the love is directed; so that we cannot conceive of love in the absence of
any object to be loved; and therefore we again return to this point, that
if love is of God's essence, and He is unchangeable, the same necessity of
His nature, supposed to have caused creation, must ever have made His
existence without an object to love impossible: and so that the Universe
must have been co-existent with Himself.
The questions how and why evil exists in the Universe: how its existence is
to be reconciled with the admitted wisdom and goodness and omnipotence of
God; and how far man is a free agent, or controlled by an inexorable
necessity or destiny, have two sides. On one, they are questions as to the
qualities and attributes of God; for we must infer His moral nature from
His mode of governing the Universe, and they ever enter into any
consideration His intellectual nature: and on the other, they directly
concern the moral responsibility, and therefore the destiny, of man. All
important, therefore, in both points of view, they have been much discussed
in all ages of the world, and have no doubt urged men, more than all other
questions have, to endeavor to fathom the profound mysteries of the Nature
and the mode of Existence and action of an incomprehensible God.
And, with these, still another question also presents itself: whether the
Deity governs the Universe by fixed and unalterable laws, or by special
Providences and interferences, so that He may be induced to change His
course and the results of human or material action, by prayer and supplication.
God alone is all-powerful; but the human soul has in all ages asserted its
claim to be considered as part of the Divine. "The purity of the spirit,"
says Van Helmont, "is shown through energy and efficaciousness of will.
God, by the agency of an infinite will, created the Universe, and the same
sort of power in an inferior degree, limited more or less by external
hindrances, exists in all spiritual beings." The higher we ascend in
antiquity, the more does prayer take the form of incantation; and that form
it still in a great degree retains, since the rites of public worship are
generally considered not merely as an expression of trust or reverence, as
real spiritual acts, the effect of which is looked for only within the mind
of the worshipper, but as acts from which some direct outward result is
anticipated, the attainment of some desired object, of health or wealth, of
supernatural gifts for body or soul, of exemption from danger, or vengeance
upon enemies. Prayer was able to change the purposes of Heaven, and to make
the Devs tremble under the abyss. It exercised a compulsory influence over
the gods. It promoted the magnetic sympathy of spirit with spirit; and the
Hindu and Persian liturgies, addressed not only to the Deity Himself, but
to His diversified manifestations, were considered wholesome and necessary
iterations of the living or creative Word which at first effectuated the
divine will, and which from instant to instant supports the universal frame
by its eternal repetition.
28º - Knight of the Sun or Prince Adept ( Part 4 )
In the narrative of the Fall, we have the Hebrew mode of explaining the
great moral mystery, the origin of evil and the apparent estrangement from
Heaven; and a similar idea, variously modified, obtained in all the ancient
creeds. Everywhere, man had at the beginning been innocent and happy, and
had lapsed, by temptation and his own weakness, from his first estate. Thus
was accounted for the presumed connection of increase of knowledge with
increase of misery, and, in particular, the great penalty of death was
reconciled with Divine Justice. Subordinate to these greater points were
the questions, Why is the earth covered with thorns and weeds ? whence the
origin of clothing, of sexual shame and passion? whence the infliction of
labor, and how to justify the degraded condition of woman in the East, or
account for the loathing so generally felt toward the Serpent Tribe?
The hypothesis of a fall, required under some of its modifications in all
systems, to account for the apparent imperfection in the work of a Perfect
Being, was, in Eastern philosophy, the unavoidable accompaniment and
condition of limited or individual existence; since the Soul, considered as
a fragment of the Universal Mind, might be said to have lapsed from its
pre-eminence when parted from its source, and ceasing to form part of
integral perfection. The theory of its reunion was correspondent to the
assumed cause of its degradation. To reach its prior condition its
individuality must cease; it must be emancipated by re-absorption into the
Infinite, the consummation of all things in God, to bepromoted by human
effortin spiritual meditation or self-mortification, and completed in the
magical transformation of death.
And as man had fallen, so it was held that the Angels of Evil had, from
their first estate, to which, like men, they were, in God's good time, to
be restored, and the reign of evil was then to cease forever. To this great
result all the Ancient Theologies point; and thus they all endeavored to
reconcile the existence of Sin and Evil with the perfect and undeniable
wisdom and beneficence of God.
With man's exercise of thought are inseparably connected freedom and
responsibility. Man assumes his proper rank as a moral agent, when with a
sense of the limitations of his nature arise the consciousness of freedom,
and of the obligations accompanying its exercise, the sense of duty and of
the capacity to perform it. To suppose that man ever imagined himself not
to be a free agent until he had argued himself into that belief, would be
to suppose that he was in that below the brutes; for he, like them, is
conscious of his freedom to act. Experience alone teaches him that this
freedom of action is limited and controlled; and when what is outward to
him restrains and limits this freedom of action, he instinctively rebels
against it as a wrong. The rule of duty and the materials of experience are
derived from an acquaintance with the conditions of the external world, in
which the faculties are exerted; and thus the problem of man involves those
of Nature and God. Our freedom, we learn by experience, is determined by an
agency external to us; our happiness is intimately dependent on the
relations of the outward World, and on the moral character of its Ruler.
Then at once arises this problem: The God of Nature must be One, and His
character cannot be suspected to be other than good. Whence, then, came the
evil, the consciousness of which must in variably have preceded or
accompanied man's moral development? On this subject human opinion has
ebbed and flowed between two contradictory extremes, one of which seems
inconsistent with God's Omnipotence, and the other with His beneficence. If
God it was said, is perfectly wise and good, evil must arise from some
independent and hostile principle: if, on the other hand, all agencies are
subordinate to One, it is difficult, if evil does indeed exist, if there is
any such thing as Evil, to avoid the impiety of making God the Author of it.
The recognition of a moral and physical dualism in nature was adverse to
the doctrine of Divine Unity. Many of the Ancients thought it absurd to
imagine one Supreme Being, like Homer's Jove, distributing good and evil
out of two urns. They therefore substituted, as we have seen, the doctrine
of two distinct and eternal principles; some making the cause of evil to be
the inherent imperfection of matter and the flesh, without explaining how
God was not the cause of that; while others personified the required
agency, and fancifully invented an Evil Principle, the question of whose
origin indeed involved all the difficulty of the original problem, but
whose existence, if once taken for granted, was sufficient as a popular
solution of the mystery; the difficulty being supposed no longer to exist
when pushed a step further off, as the difficulty of conceiving the world
upheld by an elephant was supposed to be got rid of when it was said that
the elephant was supported by a tortoise.
The simpler, and probably the older, notion, treated the one only God as
the Author of all things. "I form the light," says Jehovah, "and create
darkness; I cause prosperity and create evil; I, the Lord, do all these
things." "All mankind," says Maximus Tyrius, "are agreed that there exists
one only Universal King and Father, and that the many gods are His
Children." There is nothing improbable in the supposition that the
primitive idea was that there was but one God. A vague sense of Nature's
Unity, blended with a dim perception of an all-pervading Spiritual Essence,
has been remarked among the earliest manifestations of the Human Mind.
Everywhere it was the dim remembrance, uncertain and indefinite, of the
original truth taught by God to the first men.
The Deity of the Old Testament is everywhere represented as the direct
author of Evil, commissioning evil and lying spirits to men, hardening the
heart of Pharaoh, and visiting the iniquity of the individual sinner on the
whole people. The rude conception of sternness predominating over mercy in
the Deity, can alone account for the human sacrifices, purposed, if not
executed, by Abraham and Jephthah. It has not been uncommon, in any age or
country of the world, for men to recognize the existence of one God,
without forming any becoming estimate of His dignity. The causes of both
good and ill are referred to a mysterious centre, to which each assigns
such attributes as correspond with his own intellect and advance in
civilization. Hence the assignment to the Deity of the feelings of envy and
jealousy. Hence the provocation given by the healing skill of AEsculapius
and the humane theft of fire by Prometheus. The very spirit of Nature,
personified in Orpheus, Tantalus, or Phineus was supposed to have been
killed, confined, or blinded, for having too freely divulged the Divine
Mysteries to mankind. This Divine Envy still exists in a modified form, and
varies according to circumstances. In Hesiod it appears in the lowest type
of human malignity. In the God of Moses, it is jealousy of the infringement
of the autocratic power, the check to political treason; and even the
penalties denounced for worshipping other gods often seem dictated rather
by a jealous regard for His own greatness in Deity, than by the immorality
and degraded nature of the worship itself. In Herodotus and other writers
it assumes a more philosophical shape, as a strict adherence to a moral
equilibrium in the government of the world, in the punishment of pride,
arrogance, and insolent pretension.
God acts providentially in Nature by regular and universal laws, by
constant modes of operation; and so takes care of material things without
violating their constitution, acting always according to the nature of the
things which He has made. It is a fact of observation that, in the material
and unconscious world, He works by its materiality and unconsciousness, not
against them; in the animal world, by its animality and partial
consciousness, not against them. So in the providential government of the
world, He acts by regular and universal laws, and constant modes of
operation; and so takes care of human things without violating their
constitution, acting always according to the human nature of man, not
against it, working in the human world by means of man's consciousness and
partial freedom, not against them.
God acts by general laws for general purposes. The attraction of
gravitation is a good thing, for it keeps the world together; and if the
tower of Siloam, thereby falling to the ground slays eighteen men of
Jerusalem, that number is too small to think of, considering the myriad
millions who are upheld by the same law. It could not well be repealed for
their sake, and to hold up that tower; nor could it remain in force, and
the tower stand.
It is difficult to conceive of a Perfect Will without confounding it with
something like mechanism; since language has no name for that combination
of the Inexorable with the Moral, which the old poets personified
separately in Ananke or Eimarmene and Zeus. How combine understandingly the
Perfect Freedom of the Supreme and All-Sovereign Will of God with the
inflexible necessity, as part of His Essence, that He should and must
continue to be, in all His great attributes, of justice and mercy for
example, what He is now and always has been, and with the impossibility of
His changing His nature and becoming unjust, merciless, cruel, fickle, or
of His repealing the great moral laws which make crime wrong and the
practice of virtue right?
For all that we familiarly know of Free-Will is that capricious exercise of
it which we experience in ourselves and other men; and therefore the notion
of Supreme Will, still guided by Infallible Law, even if that law be
self-imposed, is always in danger of being either stripped of the essential
quality of Freedom, or degraded under the ill-name of Necessity to
something of even less moral and intellectual dignity than the fluctuating
course of human operations.
It is not until we elevate the idea of law above that of partiality or
tyranny, that we discover that the self-imposed limitations of the Supreme
Cause, constituting an array of certain alternatives, regulating moral
choice, are the very sources and safeguards of human freedom; and the doubt
recurs, whether we do not set a law above God Himself; or whether laws
self-imposed may not be self-repealed: and if not, what power prevents it.
The Zeus of Homer, like that of Hesiod, is an array of antitheses,
combining strength with weakness, wisdom with folly, universal parentage
with narrow family limitation, omnipotent control over events with
submission to a superior destiny,-- DESTINY, a name by means of which the
theological problem was cast back into the original obscurity out of which
the powers of the human mind have proved themselves as incapable of
rescuing it, as the efforts of a fly caught in a spider's web to do more
than increase its entanglement.
The oldest notion of Deity was rather indefinite than repulsive. The
positive degradation was of later growth. The God of nature reflects the
changeful character of the seasons, varying from dark to bright.
Alternately angry and serene, and lavishing abundance which she again
withdraws, nature seems inexplicably capricious, and though capable of
responding to the highest requirements of the moral sentiment through a
general comprehension of her mysteries, more liable by a partial or hasty
view to become darkened into a Siva, a Saturn, or a Mexitli, a patron of
fierce orgies or blood-stained altars. All the older poetical
personifications exhibit traces of this ambiguity. They are neither wholly
immoral nor purely beneficent.
No people have ever deliberately made their Deity a malevolent or guilty
Being. The simple piety which ascribed the origin of all things to God,
took all in good part, trusting and hoping all things. The Supreme Ruler
was at first looked up to with unquestioning reverence. No startling
discords or contradictions had yet raised a doubt as to His beneficence, or
made men dissatisfied with His government. Fear might cause anxiety, but
could not banish hope, still less inspire aversion. It was only later, when
abstract notions began to assume the semblance of realities, and when new
or more distinct ideas suggested new words for their expression, that it
became necessary to fix a definite barrier between Evil and Good.
To account for moral evil, it became necessary to devise some new expedient
suited both to the piety and self-complacency of the inventor, such as the
perversity of woman, or an agent distinct from God, a Typhon or Ahriman,
obtained either by dividing the Gods into two classes, or by dethroning the
Ancient Divinity, and changing him into a Dev or Daemon. Through a similar
want, the Orientals devised the inherent corruption of the fleshy and
material; the Hebrew transferred to Satan everything illegal and immoral;
and the Greek reflection, occasionally adopting the older and truer view,
retorted upon man the obloquy cast on these creatures of his imagination,
and showed how he has to thank himself alone for his calamities, while his
good things are the voluntary gifts, not the plunder of Heaven. Homer had
already made Zeus exclaim, in the Assembly of Olympus, "Grievous it is to
hear these mortals accuse the Gods; they pretend that evils come from us;
but they themselves occasion them gratuitously by their own wanton folly."
"It is the fault of man," said Solon; in reference to the social evils of
his day, "not of God, that destruction comes;" and Euripides, after a
formal discussion of the origin of evil, comes to the conclusion that men
act wrongly, not from want of natural good sense and feeling, but because
knowing what is good, they yet for various reasons neglect to practise it.
And at last reaching the highest truth, Pindar, Hesiod, AEschylus, AEsop,
and Horace said, "All virtue is a struggle; life is not a scene of repose,
but of energetic action. Suffering is but another name for the teaching of
experience, appointed by Zeus himself, the giver of all understanding, to
be the parent of instruction, the schoolmaster of life. He indeed put an
end to the golden age; he gave venom to serpents and predacity to wolves;
he shook the honey from the leaf, and stopped the flow of wine in the
rivulets; he concealed the element of fire, and made the means of life
scanty and precarious. But in all this his object was beneficent; it was
not to destroy life, but to improve it. It was a blessing to man, not a
curse, to be sentenced to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow; for
nothing great or excellent is attainable without exertion; safe and easy
virtues are prized neither by gods nor men; and the parsimoniousness of
nature is justified by its powerful effect in rousing the dormant
faculties, and forcing on mankind the invention of useful arts by means of
meditation and thought."
Ancient religious reformers pronounced the worship of "idols" to be the
root of all evil; and there have been many iconoclasts in different ages of
the world. The maxim still holds good; for the worship of idols, that is,
of fanciful conceits, if not the source of all evil, is still the cause of
much; and it prevails as extensively now as it ever did. Men are ever
engaged in worshipping the picturesque fancies of their own imaginations.
Human wisdom must always be limited and incorrect; and even right opinion
is only a something intermediate between ignorance and knowledge. The
normal condition of man is that of progress. Philosophy is a kind of
journey, ever learning, yet never arriving at the ideal perfection of
truth. A Mason should, like the wise Socrates, assume the modest title of a
"lover of wisdom;" for he must ever long after something more excellent
than he possesses, something still beyond his reach, which he desires to
make eternally his own.
Thus the philosophic sentiment came to be associated with the poetical and
the religious, under the comprehensive name of Love. Before the birth of
Philosophy, Love had received but scanty and inadequate homage. This
mightiest and most ancient of gods, coeval with the existence of religion
and of the world, had been indeed unconsciously felt, but had neither been
worthily honoured nor directly celebrated in hymn or paean. In the old days
of ignorance it could scarcely have been recognized. In order that it might
exercise its proper influence over religion and philosophy, it was
necessary that the God of Nature should cease to be a God of terrors, a
personification of mere Power or arbitrary Will, a pure and stern
Intelligence, an inflictor of evil, and an unrelenting Judge. The
philosophy of Plato, in which this charge became forever established, was
emphatically a mediation of Love. With him, the inspiration of Love first
kindled the light of arts and imparted them to mankind; and not only the
arts of mere existence, but the heavenly art of wisdom, which supports the
Universe. It inspires high and generous deeds and noble self devotion.
Without it, neither State nor individual could do anything beautiful or
great. Love is our best pilot, confederate, supporter, and saviour; the
ornament and governor of all things human and divine; and he with divine
harmony forever soothes the minds of men and gods.
Man is capable of a higher Love, which, marrying mind with mind and with
the Universe, brings forth all that is noblest in his faculties, and lifts
him beyond himself. This higher love is neither mortal nor immortal, but a
power intermediate between the human and the Divine, filling up the mighty
interval, an binding the Universe together. He is chief of those celestial
emissaries who carry to the gods the prayers of men, and bring down to men
the gifts of the gods. "He is forever poor, and far from being beautiful as
mankind imagine, for he is squalid and withered; he flies low along the
ground, is homeless and unsandalled; sleeping without covering before the
doors and in the unsheltered streets, and possessing so far his mother's
nature as being ever the companion of want. Yet, sharing also that of his
father, he is forever scheming to obtain things good and beautiful; he is
fearless, vehement, and strong; always devising some new contrivance
strictly cautious and full of inventive resource; a philosopher through his
whole existence, a powerful enchanter, and a subtle sophist."
The ideal consummation of Platonic science is the arrival at the
contemplation of that of which earth exhibits no express image or adequate
similitude, the Supreme Prototype of all beauty, pure and uncontaminated
with human intermixture of flesh or colour, the Divine Original itself. To
one so qualified is given the prerogative of bringing forth not mere images
and shadows of virtue, but virtue itself, as having been conversant not
with shadows, but with the truth; and having so brought forth and nurtured
a progeny of virtue, he becomes the friend of God, and, so far as such a
privilege can belong to any human being, immortal.
Socrates believed, like Heraclitus, in a Universal Reason pervading all
things and all minds, and consequently revealing itself in ideas. He
therefore sought truth in general opinion, and perceived in the
communication of mind with mind one of the greatest prerogatives of wisdom
and the most powerful means of advancement. He believed true wisdom to be
an attainable idea, and that the moral convictions of the mind, those
eternal instincts of temperance, conscientiousness, and justice, implanted
in it by the gods, could not deceive, if rightly interpreted.
This metaphysical direction given to philosophy ended in visionary
extravagance. Having assumed truth to be discoverable in thought, it
proceeded to treat thoughts as truths. It thus became an idolatry of
notions, which it considered either as phantoms exhaled from objects, or as
portions of the divine preexistent thought; this creating a mythology of
its own, and escaping from one thraldom only to enslave itself afresh.
Theories and notions indiscriminately formed and defended are the false
gods or "idols" of philosophy. For the word idolon means image, and a false
mind-picture of God is as much an idol as a false wooden image of Him.
Fearlessly launching into the problem of universal being, the first
philosophy attempted to supply a compendious and decisive solution of every
doubt. To do this, it was obliged to make the most sweeping assumptions;
and as poetry had already filled the vast void between the human and the
divine, by personifying its Deity as man, so philosophy bowed down before
the supposed reflection of the divine image in the mind of the inquirer,
who, in worshipping his own notions, had unconsciously deified himself.
Nature thus was enslaved to common notions, and notions very often to words.
By the clashing of incompatible opinions, philosophy was gradually reduced
to the ignominious confession of utter incapacity, and found its check or
intellectual fall in skepticism. Xenophanes and Heraclitus mournfully
acknowledged the unsatisfactory result of all the struggles of philosophy,
in the admission of a universality of doubt; and the memorable effort of
Socrates to rally the discomfited champions of truth, ended in a similar
The worship of abstractions continued the error which personified Evil or
deified Fortune; and when mystical philosophy resigned its place to
mystical religion, it changed not its nature, but only its name. The great
task remained unperformed, of reducing the outward world and its principles
to the dominion of the intellect, and of reconciling the conception of the
supreme unalterable power asserted by reason, with the requisitions of
A general idea of purpose and regularity in nature had been suggested by
common appearances to the earliest reflection. The ancients perceived a
natural order, a divine legislation, from which human institutions were
supposed to be derived, laws emblazoned in Heaven, and thence revealed to
earth. But the divine law was little more than an analogical inference from
human law, taken in the vulgar sense of arbitrary will or partial covenant.
It was surmised rather than discovered, and remained unmoral because
unintelligible. It mattered little, under the circumstances, whether the
Universe were said to be governed by chance or by reason, since the latter,
if misunderstood, was virtually one with the former. "Better far," said
Epicurus, "acquiesce in the fables of tradition, than acknowledge the
oppressive necessity of the physicists"; and Menander speaks of God,
Chance, and Intelligence as undistinguishable. Law unacknowledged goes
under the name of Chance: perceived, but not understood, it becomes
Necessity. The wisdom of the Stoic was a dogged submission to the arbitrary
behests of one; that of the Epicurean an advantage snatched by more or less
dexterous management from the equal tyranny of the other.
Ignorance sees nothing necessary, and is self abandoned to a power
tyrannical because defined by no rule, and paradoxical because permitting
evil, while itself assumed to be unlimited, all powerful, and perfectly
good. A little knowledge, presuming the identification of the Supreme Cause
with the inevitable certainty of perfect reason, but omitting the analysis
or interpretation of it, leaves the mind chain-bound in the ascetic
fatalism of the Stoic. Free-will, coupled with the universal rule of
Chance; or Fatalism and Necessity, coupled with Omniscience and fixed and
unalterable Law,--these are the alternatives, between which the human mind
has eternally vacillated. The Supernaturalists, contemplating a Being
acting through impulse, though with superhuman wisdom, and considering the
best courtier to be the most favored subject, combines contradictory
expedients, inconsistently mixing tlle assertion of free action with the
enervating service of petition; while he admits, in the words of a learned
archbishop, that "if the production of the things we ask for depend on
antecedent, natural, and necessary causes, our desires will be answered no
less by the omission than the offering of prayers, which, therefore, are a
The last stage is that in which the religion of action is made legitimate
through comprehension of its proper objects and contiditions. Man becomes
morally free only when both notions, that of Chance and that of
incomprehensible Necessity, are displaced by that of Law. Law, as applied
to the Universe, means that universal, providential pre-arrangement, whose
conditions can be discerned and discretionally acted on by human
intelligence. The sense of freedom arises when the individual independence
develops itself according to its own laws, without external collisions or
hindrance; that of constraint, where it is thwarted or confined by other
Natures, or where, by combination of external forces, the individual force
is compelled into a new direction. Moral choice would not exist safely, or
even at all, unless it were bounded by conditions determining its
preferences. Duty supposes a rule both intelligible and certain, since an
uncertain rule would be unintelligible, and if unintelligible, there could
be no responsibility. No law that is unknown can be obligatory; and that
Roman Emperor was justly execrated, who pretended to promulgate his penal
laws, by putting them up at such a height that none could read them.
Man commands results, only by selecting among the contingent the
pre-ordained results most suited to his purposes. In regard to absolute or
divine morality, meaning the final cause or purpose of those comprehensive
laws which often seem harsh to the individual, because inflexibly just and
impartial to the universal, speculation must take refuge in faith; the
immediate and obvious purpose often bearing so small a proportion to a
wider and unknown one, as to be relatively absorbed or lost. The rain that,
unseasonable to me, ruins my hopes of an abundant crop, does so because it
could not otherwise have blessed and prospered the crops of another kind of
a whole neighboring district of country. The obvious purpose of a sudden
storm of snow, or an unexpected change of wind, exposed to which I lose my
life, bears small proportion to the great results which are to flow from
that storm or wind over a whole continent. So always, of the good all ill
which at first seemed irreconcilable and capriciously distributed, the one
holds its ground, the other diminishes by being explained. In a world of a
multitude of individuals, a world of action and exertion, a world
affording, by the conflict of interests and the clashing of passions, any
scope for the exercise of the manly and generous virtues, even Omnipotence
cannot make it, that the comfort and convenience of one man alone shall
always be consulted.
Thus the educated mind soon begins to appreciate the moral superiority of a
system of law over one of capricious interference; and as the jumble of
means and ends is brought into more intelligible perspective, partial or
seeming good is cheerfully resigned for the disinterested and universal.
Self-restraint is found not to imply self-sacrifice. The true meaning of
what appeared to be Necessity is found to be, not arbitrary Power, but
Strength and Force enlisted in the service of Intelligence. God having made
us men, and placed us in a world of change and eternal renovation, with
ample capacity and abundant means for rational enjoyment, we learn that it
is folly to repine because we are not angels, inhabiting a world in which
change and the clashing of interest and the conflicts of passion are unknown.
The mystery of the world remains, but is sufficiently cleare up to inspire
confidence. We are constrained to admit that if every man would but do the
best in his power to do, and that which he knows he ought to do, we should
need no better world than this. Man, surrounded by necessity, is free, not
in a dogged determination of isolated will, because, though inevitably
complying with nature's laws, he is able, proportionately to his knowledge,
to modify, in regard to himself, the conditions of their action, and so to
preserve an average uniformity between their forces and his own.
Such are some of the conflicting opinions of antiquity; and we have to some
extent presented to you a picture of the Ancient Thought. Faithful, as far
as it goes, it exhibits to us Man's Intellect ever struggling to pass
beyond the narrow bounds of the circle in which its limited powers and its
short vision confine it, and ever we find it travelling round the circle.
like one lost in a wood, to meet the same unavoidable and insoluble
ditfficulties. Science with her many instruments, Astronomy, particularly,
with her telescope, Physics with the microscope, and Chemistry with its
analyses and combinations, have greatly enlarged our ideas of the Deity, by
discovering to us the vast extent of the Universe in both directions, its
star-systems and its invisible swarms of minutest animal life; by
acquainting us with the new and wonderful Force or Substance we call
Electricity, apparently a link between Matter and Spirit: and still the
Deity only becomes more incomprehensible to us than ever, and we find that
in our speculations we but reproduce over and over again the Ancient Thought.
Where, then, amid all these conflicting opinions, is the True Word of a Mason?
My Brother, most of the questions which have thus tortured men's minds, it
is not within the reach and grasp of the Human Intellect to understand; but
without understanding, as we have explained to you heretofore, we may and
The True Word of a Mason is to be found in the concealed and profound
meaning of the Ineffable Name of Deity, communicated by God to Moses; and
which meaning was long lost by the very precautions taken to conceal it.
The true pronunciation of that was in truth a secret, in which, however,
was involved the far more profound secret of its meaning. In that meaning
is included all the truth than can be known by us, in regard to the nature
Long known as AL, AL SCHADAI, ALOHAYIM, and ADONAI; as the Chief or
Commander of the Heavenly Armies; as the aggregate of the Forces [ALOHAYIM]
of Nature; as the Mighty, the Victorious, the Rival of Bal and Osiris; as
the Soul of Nature, Nature itself, a God that was but Man personified, a
God with human passions, the God of the Heathen with but a mere change of
name, He assumes, in His communications to Moses, the name IHUH, and says
to Him, AHIH ASHR AHIH, I AM WHAT I AM. Let us examine the esoteric or
inner, meaning of this Ineffable Name.
HIH is the imperfect tense of the verb TO BE, of which IHIH] is the
present; [AHI-- being the personal pronoun "I" affixed the first person, by
apocope; and IHI the third. The verb has the following forms : . . .
Preterite, 3d person, masculine singular, HIH, did exist, was; 3d person
com. plural, HIU . . . Present, 3d pers. masc. sing. IHIH, once IHUA, by
apocope AHI, IHI . . Infinitive, HIH, HIU . . . Imperative, 2d pers. masc
sing. HIH, fem. HUI . . . Participle, masc. sing. HUH, ENS - EXISTING . .
The verb is never used, as the mere logical copula or connecting word, is,
was, etc., is used with the Greeks, Latins, and ourselves. It always
implies existence, actuality. The present form also includes the future
sense, . . shall or may be or exist. And HUH and HUA Chaldaic forms of the
imperfect tense of the verb, are the same as the Hebrew HUH and HIH, and
mean was, existed, became.
Now HUA and HIA are the Personal Pronoun [Masculine and Feminine], HE, SHE.
Thus in Gen. iv. 20 we have the phrase, HUA HIH, HE WAS: and in Lev. xxi.
9, ATH ABIH HIA, HER Father. This feminine pronoun, however, is often
written HUA, and HIA occurs only eleven times in the Pentateuch. Sometimes
the feminine form means IT; but that pronoun is generally in the masculine
When either Yod, Vav, He, or Aleph terminates a word, and has no vowel
either immediately preceding or following it, it is often rejected; as in
GI, for GIA, a valley.
So HUA-HIA, He-She, could properly be written HU-HI; or by transposition of
the letters, common with the Talmudists, IH-UH, which is the Tetragrammaton
or Ineffable Name.
In Gen. i. 27, it is said, "So the ALHIM created man in His image: in the
image of ALHIM created He him: MALE and FEMALE created He them."
Sometimes the word was thus expressed; triangularly:
And we learn that this designation of the Ineffable Name was, among the
Hebrews, a symbol of Creation. The mysterious union of God with His
creatures was in the letter , which they considered to be the Agent of
Almighty Power; and to enable the possessor of the Name to work miracles.
The Personal Pronoun HUA, HE, is often used by itself, to express the
Deity. Lee says that in such cases, IHUH, IH, or ALHIM, or some other name
of God, is understood; but there is no necessity for that. It means in such
cases the Male, Generative, or Creative Principle or Power.
It was a common practice with the Talmudists to conceal secret meanings and
sounds of words by transposing the letters.
The reversal of the letters of words was, indeed, anciently common
everywhere. Thus from Neitha, the name of an Egyptian Goddess, the Greeks,
writing backward, formed Athene, the name of Minerva. In Arabic we have
Nahid, a name of the planet Venus, which, reversed, gives Dihan, Greek, in
Persian, Nihad, Nature; which Sir William Jones writes also Nahid. Strabo
informs us that the Armenian name of Venus was Anaitis.
Tien, Heaven, in Chinese, reversed, is Neit, or Neith, worshipped at Sais
in Egypt. Reverse Neitha, drop the i, and add an e, and we, as before said,
Athene. Mitra was the name of Venus among the ancient Persians. Herodotus,
who tells us this, also informs us that her name, among the Scythians, was
Artim pasa. Artim is Mitra, reversed. So, by reversing it, the Greeks
formed Artemis, Diana.
One of the meanings of Rama, in Sanscrit, is Kama, the Deity of Love.
Reverse this, and we have Amar, and by changing a into o, Amor, the Latin
word for Love. Probably, as the verb is Amare, the oldest reading was Amar
and not Amor. So Dipaka, in Sanscrit, one of the meanings whereof is love,
is often written Dipuc. Reverse this, and we have, adding o, the Latin word
In Arabic, the radical letters rhm, pronounced rahm, signify the trunk,
compassion, mercy; this reversed, we have mhr, in Persic, love and the Sun.
In Hebrew we have Lab, the heart; and in Chaldee, Bal, the heart; the
radical letters of both being b and l.
The Persic word for head is Sar. Reversed, this becomes Ras in Arabic and
Hebrew, Raish in Chaldee, Rash in Samaritan, and Ryas in Ethiopic; all
meaning head, chief, etc. In Arahic we have Kid, in the sense of rule,
regulation, article of agreement, obligation; which, reversed, becomes,
adding e, the Greek dike justice. In Coptic we have Chlom, a crown.
Reversed, we have in Hebrew, Moloch or Malec, a King, or he who wears a crown.
In the Kou-onen, or oldest Chinese writing, by Hieroglyphics, Ge [Hi or
Khi, with the initial letter modified], was the Sun: in Persic, Gaw: and in
Turkish Giun. Yue was the Moon; in Sanscrit Uh, and in Turkish Ai. It will
be remembered in Egypt and elsewhere, the Sun was originally feminine, and
the Moon masculine. In Egypt, Ioh was the moon: and in the feasl of Bacchus
they cried incessantly, Euoi Sabvi! Euoi Bakhe! Io Bakhe ! Io Bakhe !
Bunsen gives the following personal pronouns for he and she:
Jewish Aramaic ........Hu.....Hi
Thus the Ineffable Name not only embodies the Great Philosophical Idea,
that the Deity is the ENS, the To ON, the Absolute Existence, that of which
the Essence is To Exist, the only Substance of Spinoza, the BEING, that
never could not have existed, as contradistinguished from that which only
becomes, not Nature or the Soul of Nature, but that which created Nature;
but also the idea of the Male and Female Principles, in its highest a most
profound sense; to wit, that God originally comprehended in Himself all
that is: that matter was not co-existent with Him, or independent of Him;
that He did not merely fashion a shape a pre-existing chaos into a
Universe; but that His Thought manifested itself outwardly in that
Universe, which so became, and before was not, except as comprehended in
Him: that the Generative Power or Spirit, and Productive Matter, ever among
the ancients deemed the Female, originally were in God; and that He WAS and
IS all that Was, that IS, and that Shall be: in Whom all else lives, moves,
and has its being.
This was the great Mystery of the Ineffable Name; and this true arrangement
of its letters, and of course its true pronunciation and its meaning, soon
became lost to all except select few to whom it was confided; it being
concealed from common people, because the Deity thus metaphysically named
was not that personal and capricious, and as it were tangible God in whom
they believed, and who alone was within the reach of their rude capacities.
Diodorus says that the name given by Moses to God was IAQ, Theodorus says
that the Samaritans termed God IABE, but the Jews IAQ. Philo Byblius gives
the form IEYQ: and Clemens of Alexandria IAOY. Macrobius says that it was
an admitted axiom among the Heathen, that the triliteral IAQ was the sacred
name of the Supreme God. And the Clarian oracle said: "Learn thou that IAQ
is the great God Supreme, that ruleth over all." The letter I signified
Unity. A and Q are the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet.
Hence the frequent expression: "I am the First, and I am the Last; and
besides Me there is no other God. I am A and Q, the First and the Last. I
am A and Q, the Beginning and the Ending, which IS, and Was, and IS to
come: the Omnipotent." For in this we see shadowed forth the same great
truth; that God is all in all--the Cause and the Effect--the beginning, or
Impulse, or Generative Power: and the Ending, or Result, or that which is
produced: that He is in reality all that is, all that ever was, and all
that ever will be; in this sense, that nothing besides Himself has existed
eternally, and co-eternally with Him, independent of Him, and
self-existent, or self-originated.
And thus the meaning of the expression, ALOHAYIM, a plural noun, used, in
the account of the Creation With which Genesis commences, with a singular
verb, and of the name or title IHUH ALHIM, used for the first time in the
4th verse of the 2d chapter of the same book, becomes clear. The ALHIM is
the aggregate unity of the manifested Creative Forces or Powers of Deity,
His Emanations; and IHUH-ALHIM is the ABSOLUTE Existence, or Essence of
these Powers and Forces, of which they are Active Manifestations and
This was the profound truth hidden in the ancient allegory and covered from
the general view with a double veil. This was the esoteric meaning of the
generation and production of the Indian, Chaldean, and Phoenician
cosmognies; and the Active and Passive Powers, of the Male and Female
Principles; of Heaven and its Luminaries generating, and the Earth
producing; all hiding from vulgar view, as above its comprehension, the
doctrine that matter is not eternal, but that God was the only original
Existence, the ABSOLUTE, from Whom everything has proceeded, and to Whom
all returns: and that all moral law springs not from the relation of
things, but from His Wisdom and Essential Justice, as the Omnipotent
Legislator. And this TRUE WORD is with entire accuracy said to have been
lost; because its meaning was lost even among the Hebrews, although we
still find the name (its real meaning unsuspected), in the Hu of the Druids
and the Fo HI of the Chinese.
When we conceive of the Absolute Truth, Beauty, or Good, cannot stop short
at the abstraction of either. We are forced to refer each to some living
and substantial Being, in which they have their foundations, some being
that is the first and last priciple of each.
Moral Truth, like every other universal and necessary truth, cannot remain
a mere abstraction. Abstractions are unrealities. In ourselves, moral truth
is merely conceived of. There must be somewhere a Being that not only
conceives of, but constitutes it. It has this characteristic; that it is
not only, to the eyes of our intelligence, an universal and necessary
truth, but one obligatory on our will. It is A LAW. We do not establish
that law ourselves. It is imposed on us despite ourselves: its principle
must be without us. It supposes a legislator. He cannot be the being to
whom the law applies; but must be one that possesses in the highest degree
all the characteristics of moral truth. The moral law, universal and
necessary, necessarily has as its author a necessary being;--composed of
justice and charity, its author must be a being possessing the plenitude of
As all beautiful and all true things refer themselves, these a Unity which
is absolute TRUTH, and those to a Unity which absolute BEAUTY, so all the
moral principles centre in a single principle, which is THE GOOD. Thus we
arrive at the conception of THE GOOD in itself, the ABSOLUTE Good, superior
to all particular duties, and determinate in those duties. This Absolute
Good must necessarily be an attribute of the Absolute Being. There cannot
be several Absolute Beings; the one in whom realized Absolute Truth and
Absolute Beauty being different from the one in whom is realized Absolute
Good. The Absolute necessarily implies absolute Unity. The True, the
Beautiful, and Good are not three distinct essences: but they are one and
same essence, considered in its fundamental attributes: the different
phases which, in our eyes, the Absolute and Infinite Perfection assumes.
Manifested in the World of the Finite and Relative, these three attributes
separate from each other, and are distinguished by our minds, which can
comprehend nothing except by division. But in the Being from Whom they
emanate, they are indivisibly united; and this Being, at once triple and
one, Who sums up in Himself perfect Beauty) perfect Truth, and the perfect
Good, is GOD.
God is necessarily the principle of Moral Truth, and of personal morality.
Man is a moral person, that is to say, one endowed with reason and liberty.
He is capable of virtue: and virtue has with him two principal forms,
respect for others and love of others,-- justice and charity.
The creature can possess no real and essential attribute which the Creator
does not possess. The effect can draw its reality and existence only from
its cause. The cause contains in itself, at least, what is essential in the
effect. The characteristic of the effect is inferiority, short-coming,
imperfection. Dependent and derivate, it bears in itself the marks and
conditions of dependence; and its imperfection proves the perfection of the
cause; or else there would be in the effect something immanent, without a
God is not a logical Being, whose Nature may be explained by deduction, and
by means of algebraic equations. When, setting out with a primary
attribute, the attributes of God are deduced one from the other, after the
manner of the Geometricians and Scholastics, we have nothing but
abstractions. We must emerge from this empty dialetic, to arrive at a true
and living God. The first notion which we have of God, that of an Infinite
Being, is not given us a priori, independently of all experience. It is our
consciousness of ourself, as at once a Being and a limited Being, that
immediately raises us to the conception of a Being, the principle of our
being, and Himself without limits. If the existence that we possess forces
us to recur to a cause possessing the same existence in an infinite degree,
all the substantial attributes of existence that we possess equally require
each an infinite cause. God, then, is no longer the Infinite, Abstract,
Indeterminate Being, of which reason and the heart cannot lay hold, but a
real Being, determinate like ourselves, a moral person like ourself; and
the study of our own souls will conduct us, without resort to hypothesis,
to a conception of God, both sublime and having a connection with ourselves.
If man be free, God must be so. It would be strange if, while the creature
has that marvellous power of disposing of himself, of choosing and willing
freely, the Being that has made him should he subject to a necessary
development, the cause of which, though in Himself, is a sort of abstract,
mechanical, or metaphysical power, inferior to the personal, voluntary
cause which we are, and of which we have the clearest consciousness. God is
free because we are: but he is not free as we are. He is at once everything
that we are, and nothing that we are. He possesses the same attributes as
we, but extended to infinity. He possesses, then, an infinite liberty,
united to an infinite intelligence; and as His intelligence is infallible,
exempt from the uncertainty of deliberation, and perceiving at a glance
where the Good is, so His liberty accomplishes it spontaneously and without
As we assign to God that liberty which is the basis of our existence, so
also we transfer to His character, from our own, justice and charity. In
man they are virtues: in God, His attributes. What is in us the laborious
conquest of liberty, is in Him His very nature. The idea of the right, and
the respect paid to the right, are signs of the dignity of our existence.
If respect of rights is the very essence of justice, the Perfect Being must
know and respect the rights of the lowest of His creatures; for He assigned
them those rights. In God resides a sovereign justice, that renders to
every one what is due him, not according to deceitful appearances, but
according to the truth of things. And if man, a limited being, has the
power to go out of himself, to forget his own person, to love another like
himself, and devote himself to his happiness, dignity, and perfection, the
Perfect Being must have, in an infinite degree, that disinterested
tenderness, that Charity, the Supreme virtue of the human person. There is
in God an infinite tenderness for His creatures, manifested in His giving
us existence, which He might have withheld; and every day it appears in
innumerable marks of His Divine Providence.
Plato well understood that love of God, and expresses it in these great
words: "Let us speak of the cause which led the Supreme Arranger of the
Universe to produce and regulate that Universe. He was good; and he who is
good has no kind of ill will. Exempt from that, He willed that created
things should be, as far as possible, like Himself." And Christianity in
its turn said, "God has so loved men that He has given them His only Son."
It is not correct to affirm, as is often done, that Christianity has in
some sort discovered this noble sentiment. We must not lower human nature,
to raise Christianity. Antiquity knew, described, and practised charity;
the first feature of which, so touching, and thank God! so common, is
goodness, as its loftiest one is heroism. Charity is devotion to another;
and it is ridiculously senseless to pretend that there ever was an age of
the world, when the human soul was deprived of that part of its heritage,
the power of devotion. But it is certain that Christianity has diffused and
popularized this virtue, and that, before Christ, these words were never
spoken: LOVE ONE ANOTHER; FOR THAT IS THE WHOLE LAW. Charity presupposes
Justice. He who truly loves his brother respects the rights of his brother;
but he does more, he forgets his own. Egoism sells or takes. Love delights
in giving. In God, love is what it is in us; but in an infinite degree. God
is inexhaustible in His charity, as He is inexhaustible in His essence.
That Infinite Omnipotence and Infinite Charity, which, by an admirable
good-will, draws from the bosom of its immense love the favors which it
incessantly bestows on the world and on humanity, teaches us that the more
we give, the more we possess.
God being all just and all good, He can will nothing but what is good and
just. Being Omnipotent, whatever He wills He can do, and consequently does.
The world is the work of God: it is therefore perfectly made.
Yet there is disorder in the world, that seems to impugn the justice and
goodness of God.
A principle indissolubly connected with the very idea of good, tells us
that every moral agent deserves reward when he does well, and punishment
when he does ill. This principle is universal and necessary. It is
absolute. If it does not apply in this world, it is false, or the world is
But good actions are not always followed by happiness, nor evil ones by
misery. Though often this fact is more apparent than real; though virtue, a
war against the passions, full of dignity but full of sorrow and pain, has
the latter as its condition, yet the pains that follow vice are greater;
and virtue conduces most to health, strength, and long life;--though the
peaceful conscience that accompanies virtue creates internal happiness;
though public opinion generally decides correctly on men's characters, and
rewards virtue with esteem and consideration, and vice with contempt and
infamy; and though, after all, justice reigns in the world, and the surest
road to happiness is still that of virtue, yet there are exceptions. Virtue
is not always rewarded, nor vice punished, in this life.
The data of this problem are these: 1st. The principle of merit and demerit
within us is absolute: every good action ought to rewarded, every bad one
punished: 2d. God is just as He is al powerful: 3d. There are in this world
particular cases, contradicting the necessary and universal law of merit
and demerit. What is the result?
To reject the two principles, that God is just, and the law merit and
demerit absolute, is to raze to the foundations the whole edifice of human
To maintain them, is to admit that the present life is to terminated or
continued elsewhere. The moral person who acts well or ill, and awaits
reward or punishment, is connected with a body, lives with it, makes use of
it, depends upon it in a meas but is not it. The body is composed of parts.
It diminishes or increases, it is divisible even to infinity. But this
something which has a consciousness of itself, and says "I, ME"; that feels
itself free and responsible, feels too that it is incapable of division,
that it is a being one and simple; that the ME cannot be halved, that if a
limb is cut off and thrown away, no part of the ME, goes with it: that it
remains identical with itself under the variety phenomena which
successively manifest it. This identity, indivisibility, and absolute unity
of the person, are its spirituality, the very essence of the person. It is
not in the least an hypothesis to affirm that the soul differs essentially
from the body. By the soul we mean the person, not separated from the
consciousnes of the attributes which constitute it,--thought and will. The
Existence without consciousness is an abstract being, and not a person. It
is the person, that is identical, one, simple. Its attributes, developing
it, do not divide it. Indivisible, it is indissoluble, and may be immortal.
If absolute justice requires this immortality, it does not require what is
impossible. The spirituality of the soul is the condition and necessary
foundation of immortality: the law of merit and demerit the direct
demonstration of it. The first is the metaphysical, the second the moral
proof. Add to these the tendency of all the powers of the soul toward the
Infinite, and the principle of final causes, and the proof of the
immortality of the soul is complete.
God, therefore, in the Masonic creed, is INFINITE TRUTH, INFINITE BEAUTY,
INFINITE GOODNESS. He is the Holy of Holies, as Author of the Moral Law, as
the PRINCIPLE of Liberty, of Justice, and of Charity, Dispenser of Reward
and Punishment. Such a God is not an abstract God; but an intelligent and
free person, Who has made us in His image, from Whom we receive the law
that presides over our destiny, and Whose judgment we await. It is His love
that inspires us in our acts of charity: it is His justice that governs our
justice, and that of society and the laws. We continually remind ourselves
that He is infinite; because otherwise we should degrade His nature: but He
would be for us as if He were not, if His infinite nature had not forms
inherent in ourselves, the forms of our own reason and soul.
When we love Truth, Justice, and Nobility of Soul, we should know that it
is God we love underneath these special forms, and should unite them all
into one great act of total piety. We should feel that we go in and out
continually in the midst of the vast forces of the Universe, which are only
the Forces of God; that in our studies, when we attain a truth, we confront
the thought of God; when we learn the right, we learn the will of God laid
down as a rule of conduct for the Universe; and when we feel disinterested
love, we should know that we partake the feeling of the Infinite God. Then,
when we reverence the mighty cosmic force, it will not be a blind Fate in
an Atheistic or Pantheistic world, but the Infinite God, that we shall
confront and feel and know. Then we shall be mindflll of the mind of God,
conscious of God's conscience, sensible of His sentiments, and our own
existence will be in the infinite being of God.
The world is a whole, which has its harmony; for a God who is One, could
make none but a complete and harmonious work. The harmony of the Universe
responds to the unity of God, as the indefinite quantity is the definite
sign of the infinitude of God. To say that the Universe is God, is to admit
the world only, and On the other hand, to suppose that the Universe is void
of God, and that He is wholly apart from it, is an insupportable and almost
impossible abstraction. To distinguish is not to separate. I distinguish,
but do not separate myself from my qualities and effects. So God is not the
Universe, although He is everywhere present in spirit and in truth.
To us, as to Plato, absolute truth is in God. It is God Himself under one
of His phases. In God, as their original, are the immutable principles of
reality and cognizance. In Him things receive at once their existence and
their intelligibility. It is by participating in the Divine reason that our
own reason possesses something of the Absolute. Every judgment of reason
envelopes a necessary truth, and every necessary truth supposes the
Thus, from every direction,--from metaphysics, aesthetics, an morality
above all, we rise to the same Principle, the common centre, and ultimate
foundation of all truth, all beauty, all good. The True, the Beautiful, the
Good, are but diverse revelations of one and the same Being. Thus we reach
the threshold of religion and are in communion with the great philosophies
which all proclaim a God; and at the same time with the religions which
cove the earth, and all repose on the sacred foundation of natural
religion; of that religion which reveals to us the natural light give to
all men, without the aid of a particular revelation. So long a philosophy
does not arrive at religion, it is below all worships even the most
imperfect; for they at least give man a Father, a Witness, a Consoler, a
Judge. By religion, philosophy connects itself with humanity, which, from
one end of the world to the other, aspires to God, believes in God, hopes
in God. Philosophy contains in itself the common basis of all religious
beliefs; it, as it were, borrows from them their principle, and returns it
to them surrounded with light, elevated above uncertainty, secure against
From the necessity of His Nature, the Infinite Being must create and
preserve the Finite, and to the Finite must, in its forms, give and
communicate of His own kind. We cannot conceive of any finite thing
existing without God, the Infinite basis and ground thereof; nor of God
existing without something. God is the necessary logical condition of a
world, its necessitating cause; a world, the necessary logical condition of
God, His necessitated consequence. It is according to His Infinite
Perfection to create, and then to preserve and bless whatever He creates.
That is the conclusion of modern metaphysical science. The stream of
philosophy runs down from Aristotle to Hegel, and breaks off with this
conclusion: and then again recurs the ancient difficulty. If it be of His
nature to create,--if we cannot conceive of His existing alone, without
creating, without having created, then what He created was co-existent with
Himself. If He could exist an instant without creating, He could as well
do, so for a myriad of eternities. And so again conles round to us the old
doctrine of a God, the Soul of the Universe, and co-existent with it. For
what He created had a beginning; and however long since that creation
occurred, an eternity had before elapsed. The difference between a
beginning and no beginning is infinite.
But of some things we can be certain. We are conscious of ourselves--of
ourselves if not as substances, at least as Powers to be, to do, to suffer.
We are conscious of ourselves not as self originated at all or as
self-sustained alone; but only as dependent, first for existence, ever
since for support.
Among the primary ideas of consciousness, that are inseparable from it, the
atoms of self-consciousness, we find the idea of God. Carefully examined by
the scrutizing intellect, it is the idea of God as infinite, perfectly
powerful, wise, just, loving, holy; absolute being with no limitation. This
made us, made all, sustains us, sustains all; made our body, not by a
single act, but by a series of acts extending over a vast succession of
years,--for man's body is the resultant of all created things,-- made our
spirit, our mind, conscience, affections, soul, will, appointed for each
its natural mode of action, set each at its several aim. Thus
self-consciousness leads us to consciousness of God, and at last to
consciousness of an infinite God. That is the highest evidence of our own
existence, and it is the highest evidence of His.
If there is a God at all, He must be omnipresent in space. Beyond the last
Stars He must be, as He is here. There can be no mote that peoples the
sunbeams, no little cell of life that the microscope discovers in the
seed-sporule of a moss, but He is there.
He must also be omnipresent in time. There was no second of time before the
Stars began to burn, but God was in that second. In the most distant
nebulous spot in Orion's belt, and in every one of the millions that people
a square inch of limestone, God is alike present. He is in the smallest
imaginable or even unimaginable portion of time, and in every second of its
most vast and unimaginable volume; His Here conterminous with the All of
Space, His Now coeval with the All of Time.
Through all this space, in all this Time, His Being extends, spreads
undivided, operates unspent; God in all His infinity, perfectly powerful,
wise, just, loving, and holy. His being is an infinite activity, a
creating, and so a giving of Himself to the World. The World's being is a
becoming, a being created and continued. It is so now, and was so,
incalculable and unimaginable millions of ages ago.
All this is philosophy, the unavoidable conclusion of the human mind. It is
not the opinion of Coleridge and Kant, but their science; not what
theyg~uess, but what they know.
In virtue of this in-dwelling of God in matter, we say that the world is a
revelation of Him, its existence a show of His. He is in His work. The
manifold action of the Universe is only His mode of operation, and all
material things are in communion with Him. All grow and move and live in
Him, and by means of Him, and only so. Let Him withdraw from the space
occupied by anything, and it ceases to be. Let Him withdraw any quality of
His nature from anything, and it ceases to be. All must partake of Him, He
dwelling in each, and yet transcending all
28º - Knight of the Sun or Prince Adept ( Part 5 end chapter 28 )
The failure of fanciful religion to become philosophy, does not preclude
philosophy from coinciding with true religion. Philosophy, or rather its
object, the divine order of the Universe, is the intellectual guide which
the religious sentiment needs; while exploring the real relations of the
finite, it obtains a constantly improving and self-correcting measure of
the perfect law of the Gospel of Love and Liberty, and a means of carrying
into effect the spiritualism of revealed religion. It establishes law, by
ascertaining its terms; it guides the spirit to see its way to the
amelioration of life and the increase of happiness. While religion was
stationary, science could not walk alone; when both are admitted to be
progressive, their interests and aims become identified. Aristotle began to
show how religion may be founded on an intellectual basis; but the basis he
laid was too narrow. Bacon, by giving to philosophy a definite aim and
method, gave it at the same time a safer and self-enlarging basis. Our
position is that of intellectual beings surrounded by limitations; and the
latter being constant, have to intelligence the practical value of laws, in
whose investigation and application consists that seemingly endless career
of intellectual and moral progress which the sentiment of religion inspires
and ennobles. The title of Saint has commonly been claimed for those whose
boast it has been to despise philosophy; yet faith will stumble and
sentiment mislead, unless knowledge be present, in amount and quality
sufficient to purify the one and to give beneficial direction to the other.
Science consists of those matured inferences from experice which all other
experience confirms. It is no fixed system perior to revision, but that
progressive mediation between ignorance and wisdom in part conceived by
Plato, whose immediate object is happiness, and its impulse the highest
kind of love. Science realizes and unites all that was truly valuable in
both the old schemes of mediation; the heroic, or system of action and
effort; and the mystical theory of spiritual, contemplative contemplative
communion. "Listen to me," says Galen, "as to the voice of the Eleusinian
Hierophant, and believe that the study of nature is a mystery no less
important than theirs, nor less adapted to display the wisdom and power of
the Great Creator. Their lessons and demonstrations were obscure, but ours
are clear and unmistakable."
To science we owe it that no man is any longer entitled to conider himself
the central point around which the whole Universe of life and motion
revolves--the immensely important individual or whose convenience and even
luxurious ease and indulgence the whole Universe was made. On one side it
has shown us an infinite Universe of stars and suns and worlds at
incalculable distances from each other, in whose majestic and awful
presence we sink and even our world sinks into insignificance; while, on
the other side, the microscope has placed us in communication with new
worlds of organized livings beings, gifted with senses, nerves, appetites,
and instincts, in every tear and in every drop of putrid water.
Thus science teaches us that we are but an infinitesimal portion of a great
whole, that stretches out on every side of us, and above and below us,
infinite in its complications, and which infinite wisdom alone can
comprehend. Infinite wisdom has arranged the infinite succession of beings,
involving the necessity of birth, decay, and death, and made the loftiest
virtues possible by providing those conflicts, reverses, trials, and
hardships, without which even their names could never have been invented.
Knowledge is convertible into power, and axioms into rules of utility and
duty. Modern science is social and communicative. It is moral as well as
intellectual; powerful, yet pacific and disinterested; binding man to man
as well as to the Universe; filling up the details of olbligation, and
cherishing impulses of virtue, and, by affording clear proof of the
consistency and identity of all interests, substituting co-operation for
rivalry, liberality for jealousy, and tending far more powerfully than any
other means to realize the spirit of religion, by healing those inveterate
disorders which, traced to their real origin, will be found rooted in an
ignorant assumption as to the penurious severity of Providence, and the
consequent greed of selfish men to confine what seemed as if extorted from
it to themselves, or to steal from each other rather than quietly to enjoy
We shall probably never reach those higher forms containing the true
differences of things, involving the full discovery and correct expression
of their very self or essence. We shall ever fall short of the most general
and most simple nature, the ultimate or most comprehensive law. Our widest
axioms explain many phenomena, but so too in a degree did the principles or
elements of the old philosophers, and the cycles and epicycles of ancient
astronomy. We cannot in any case of causation assign the whole of the
conditions, nor though we may reproduce them in practice, can we mentally
distinguish them all, without knowing the essences of the things including
them; and we therefore must not unconsciously ascribe that absolute
certainty to axioms, which the ancient religionists did to creeds, nor
allow the mind, which ever strives to insulate itself and its acquisitions,
to forget the nature of the process by which it substituted scientific for
common notions, and so with one as with the other lay the basis of
self-deception by a pedantic and superstitious employment of them.
Doubt, the essential preliminary of all improvement and discovery, must
accompany all the stages of man's onward progress. His intellectual life is
a perpetual beginning, a prepetual beginning, a preparation for a birth.
The faculty of doubting and questioning, without which those of comparison
and judgment would be useless, is itself a divine prerogative of the
reason. Knowledge is always imperfect, or complete only in a prospectively
boundless career, in which discovery multiplies doubt and doubt leads on to
new discovery. The boast of science is not so much its manifested results,
as its admitted imperfection and capacity of unlimited progress. The true
religious philosophy of an imperfect being is not a system of creed, but,
as Socrates thought, an infinite search or approximation. Finality is but
another name for bewilderment or defeat. Science gratifies the religious
feeling without arresting it, and opens out the unfathomable mystery of the
One Supreme into more explicit and manageable Forms, which express not
indeed His Essence, which is wholly beyond our reach and higher than our
faculties can climb, but His Will, and so feeds an endless enthusiasm by
accumulating forever new objects of pursuit. We have long experienced that
knowledge is profitable, we are beginning to find out that it is moral, and
we shall at last discover it to be religious.
God and truth are inseparable; a knowledge of God is possession of the
saving oracles of truth. In proportion as the thought and purpose of the
individual are trained to conformity with the rule of right prescribed by
supreme Intelligence, so far is his happiness promoted, and the purpose of
his existence fulfilled. In this way a new life arises in him; he is no
longer isolated, but is a part of the eternal harmonies around him. His
erring will is directed by the influence of a higher will, informing and
moulding it in the path of his true happiness.
Man's power of apprehending outward truth is a qualified privilege; the
mental like the physical inspiration passing through a diluted medium; and
yet, even when truth, imparted, as it were, by intuition, has been
specious, or at least imperfect, the intoxication of sudden discovery has
ever claimed it as full, infallible, and divine. And while human weakness
needed ever to recur to the pure and perfect source, the revelations once
popularly accepted and valued assumed an independent substantiality,
perpetuating not themselves only, but the whole mass of derivitive forms
accidentally connected with them, and legalized in their names. The mists
of error thickened under the shadows of prescription, until the free light
again broke in upon the night ot ages, redeeming the genuine treasure from
the superstition which obstinately doted on its accessories.
Even to the Barbarian, Nature reveals a mighty power and a wondrous wisdom,
and continually points to God. It is no wonder that men worshipped the
several things of the world. The world of matter is a revelation of fear to
the savage in Northern climes; he trembles at his deity throned in ice and
snow. The lightning, the storm, the earthquake startle the rude man, and he
sees the divine in the extraordinary.
The grand objects of Nature perpetually constrain men to think of their
Author. The Alps are the great altar of Europe; the nocturnal sky has been
to mankind the dome of a temple, starred all over with admonitions to
reverence, trust, and love. The Scriptures for the human race are writ in
earth and Heaven. No organ or miserere touches the heart like the sonorous
swell of the sea or the ocean-wave's immeasurable laugh. Every year the old
world puts on new bridal beauty, and celebrates its Whit-Sunday, when in
the sweet Spring each bush and tree dons reverently its new glories. Autumn
is a long All-Saints' day; and the harvest is Hallowmass to Mankind. Before
the human race marched down from the slopes of the Himalayas to take
possession of Asia, Chaldea, and Egypt, men marked each annual crisis, the
solstices and the equinoxes, and celebrated religious festivals therein;
even then, and ever since, the material was and has been the element of
communion between man and God.
Nature is full of religious lessons to a thoughtful man. He dissolves the
matter of the Universe, leaving only its forces; he solves away the
phenomena of human history, leaving only immortal spirit; he studies the
law, the mode of action of the forces and this spirit, which make up the
material and the human world, and cannot fail to be filled with reverence,
with trust, with boundless love of the Infinite God, who devised these laws
of matter and of mind, and thereby bears up this marvellous Universe of
things and men. Science has its New Testament; and beatitudes of Philosophy
are profoundly touching. An undevour astronomer is mad. Familiarity with
the grass and the trees teaches us deeper lessons of love and trust than we
can glean from the writings of Fenelon and Augustine. The great Bible of
God is ever open before mankind. The eternal flowers of Heaven seem to shed
sweet influence on the perishable blossoms of the earth. The great sermon
of Jesus was preached on a mountain, which preached to Him as He did to the
people, and His figures of speech were first natural figures of fact.
If to-morrow I am to perish utterly, then I shall only take counsel for
to-day, and ask for qualities which last no longer. My fathers will be to
me only as the ground out of which my bread-corn is grown; dead, they are
but the rotten mould of earth, their memory of small concern to me.
Posterity !--I shall care nothing for the future generations of mankind ! I
am one atom in the trunk of a tree, and care nothing for the roots below,
or the branch above. I shall sow such seed only as will bear harvest
to-day. Passion may enact my statutes to-day, and ambition repeal them
to-morrow. I will know no other legislators. Morality will vanish, and
expediency take its place. Heroism will be gone; and instead of it there
will be the savage ferocity of the he-wolf, the brute cunning of the
she-fox, the rapacity of the vulture, and the headlong daring of the wild
bull; but no longer the cool, calm courage that, for truth's sake, and for
love's sake, looks death firmly in the face, and then wheels into line
ready to be slain. Affection, friendship, philanthropy, will be but the
wild fancies of the monomaniac, fit subjects for smiles or laughter or for
But knowing that we shall live forever, and that the Infinite God loves all
of us, we can look on all the evils of the world, and see that it is only
the hour before sunrise, and that the light is coming; and so we also, even
we, may light a little taper, to illuminate the darkness while it lasts,
and help until the day-spring come. Eternal morning follows the night: a
rainbow scarfs the shoulders of every cloud that weeps its rain away to be
flowers on land and pearls at sea: Life rises out of the grave, the soul
cannot be held by fettering flesh. No dawn is hopeless; and disaster is
only the threshold of delight.
Beautifully, above the great wide chaos of human errors, shines the calm,
clear light of natural human religion, revealing to us God as the Infinite
Parent of all, perfectly powerful, wise, just, loving, and perfectly holy
too. Beautiful around stretches off every way the Universe, the Great Bible
of God. Material nature is its Old Testament, millions of years old, thick
with eternal truths under our feet, glittering with everlasting glories
over our heads; and Human Nature is the New Testament from the Infinite
God, every day revealing a new page as Time turns over the leaves.
Immortality stands waiting to give a recompense for every virtue not
rewarded, for every tear not wiped away, for every sorrow undeserved, for
every prayer, for every pure intention and emotion of the heart. And over
the whole, over Nature, Material and Human, over this Mortal Life and over
the eternal Past and Future, the infinite Loving-kindness of God the Father
comes enfolding all and blessing everything that ever was, that is, that
ever shall be.
Everything is a thought of the Infinite God. Nature is His prose, and man
His Poetry. There is no Chance, no Fate; but God's Great Providence,
enfolding the whole Universe in its bosom, and feeding it with everlasting
life. In times past there has been evil which we cannot understand; now
there are evils which we cannot solve, nor make square with God's perfect
goodness by any theory our feeble intellect enables us to frame. There are
sufferings, follies, and sins for all mankind, for every nation, for every
man and every woman. They were all foreseen by the infinite wisdom of God,
all provided for by His infinite power and justice, and all are consistent
with His infinite love. To believe otherwise would be to believe that He
made the world, to amuse His idle hours with the follies and agonies of
mankind, as Domitian was wont to do with the wrigglings and contortions of
insect agonies. Then indeed we might despairingly unite in that horrible
utterance of Heine: "Alas, God's Satire weighs heavily on me! The Great
Author of the Universe, the Aristophanes of Heaven, is bent on
demonstrating, with crushing force, to me, the little, earthly, German
Aristophanes, how my wittiest sarcasms are only pitiful attempts at
jesting, in comparison with His, and how miserably I am beneath Him, in
humor, in colossal mockery."
No, no! God is not thus amused with and prodigal of human suffering. The
world is neither a Here without a Hereafter, a body without a soul, a chaos
with no God; nor a body blasted by a soul, a Here with a worse Hereafter, a
world with a God that hates more than half the creatures He has made. There
is no Savage, Revengeful, and Evil God: but there is an Infinite God, seen
everywhere as Perfect Cause, everywhere as Perfect Providence, transcending
all, yet in-dwelling everywhere, with perfect power, wisdom, justice,
holiness, and love, providing for the future welfare of each and all,
foreseeing and forecaring for every bubble that breaks on the great stream
of human life and human history.
The end of man and the object of existence in this world, being not only
happiness, but happiness in virtue and through virtue, virtue in this world
is the condition of happiness in another life, and the condition of virtue
in this world is suffering, more or less frequent, briefer or longer
continued, more or less intense. Take away suffering, and there is no
longer any resignation or humanity, no more self-sacrifice, no more
devotedness, no more heroic virtues, no more sublime morality. We are
subjected to suffering, both because we are sensible, and because we ought
to be virtuous. If there were no physical evil, there would be no possible
virtue, and the world would be badly adapted to the destiny of man. The
apparent disorders of the physical world, and the evils that result from
them, are not disorders and evils that occur despite the power and goodness
of God. God not only allows, but wills them. It is His will that there
shall be in the physical world causes enough of pain for man, to afford him
occasions for resignation and courage.
Whatever is favorable to virtue, whatever gives the moral liberty more
energy, whatever can serve the greater moral development of the human race,
is good. Suffering is not the worst condition of man on earth. The worst
condition is the moral brutalization which the absence of physical evil
External or internal physical evil connects itself with the object of
existence, which is to accomplish the moral law here below, whatever the
consequences, with the firm hope that virtue unfortunate will not fail to
be rewarded in another life. The moral law has its sanction and its reason
in itself. It owes nothing to that law of merit and demerit that
accompanies it, but is not its basis. But, though the principle of merit
and demerit ought not to be the determining principle of virtuous action,
it powerfully concurs with the moral law, because it offers virtue a
legitimate ground of consolation and hope.
Morality is the recognition of duty, as duty, and its accomplishment,
whatever the consequences.
Religion is the recognition of duty in its necessary harmony with goodness;
a harmony that must have its realization in another life, through the
justice and omnipotence of God.
Religion is as true as morality; for once morality is admitted, its
consequences must be admitted.
The whole moral existence is included in these two words, harmonious with
each other: DUTY and HOPE.
Masonry teaches that God is infinitely good. What motive, what reason, and,
morally speaking, what possibility can there be to Infinite Power and
Infinite Wisdom, to be anything but good? Our very sorrows, proclaiming the
loss of objects inexpressibly dear to us, demonstrate His Goodness. The
Being that made us intelligent cannot Himself be without intelligence; and
He Who has made us so to love and to sorrow for what we love, must number
love for the creatures He has made, among His infinite attributes. Amid all
our sorrows, we take refuge in the assurance that He loves us; that He does
not capriciously, or through indifference, and still less in mere anger,
grieve and afflict us; that He chastens us, in order that by His
chastisements, which are by His universal law only the consequences of our
acts, we may be profited; and that He could not show so much love for His
creatures, by leaving them unchastened, untried, undisciplined. We have
faith in the Infinite; faith in God's Infinite Love; and it is that faith
that must save us.
No dispensations of God's Providence, no suffering or bereavement is a
messenger of wrath: none of its circumstances are indications of God's
Anger. He is incapable of Anger; higher above any such feelings than the
distant stars are above the earth. Bad men do not die because God hates
them. They die because it is best for them that they should do so; and, bad
as they are, it is better for them to be in the hands of the infinitely
good God, than anywhere else.
Darkness and gloom lie upon the paths of men. They stumble at difficulties,
are ensnared by temptations, and perplexed by trouble. They are anxious,
and troubled, and fearful. Pain and affliction and sorrow often gather
around the steps of their earthly pilgrimage. All this is written indelibly
upon the tablets of the human heart. It is not to be erased; but Masonry
sees and reads it in a new light. It does not expect these ills and trials
and sufferings to be removed from life; but that the great truth will at
some time be believed by all men, that they are the means selected by
infinite wisdom, to purify the heart, and to invigorate the soul whose
inheritance is immortality, and the world its school.
Masonry propagates no creed except its own most simple and Sublime One;
that universal religion, taught by Nature and by Reason. Its Lodges are
neither Jewish, Moslem, nor Christian Temples. It reiterates the precepts
of morality of all religions. It venerates the character and commends the
teachings of the great and good of all ages and of all countries. It
extracts the good and not the evil, the truth, and not the error, from all
creeds; and acknowledges that there is much which is good and true in all.
Above all the other great teachers of morality and virtue, it reveres the
character of the Great Master Who, submissive to the will of His and our
Father, died upon the Cross. All must admit, that if the world were filled
with beings like Him, the great ills of society would be at once relieved.
For all coercion, injury, selfishness, and revenge, and all the wrongs and
the greatest sufferings of life, would disappear at once. These human years
would be happy; and the eternal ages would roll on in brightness and
beauty; and the still, sad music of Humanity, that sounds through the
world, now in the accents of grief, and now in pensive melancholy, would
change to anthems, sounding to the March of Time, and bursting out from the
heart of the world.
If every man were a perfect imitator of that Great, wise, Good Teacher,
clothed with all His faith and all His virtues, how the circle of Life's
ills and trials would be narrowed! The sensual passions would assail the
heart in vain. Want would no longer successfully tempt men to act wrongly,
nor curiosity to do rashly. Ambition, spreading before men its Kingdoms and
its Thrones, and offices and honors, would cause none to swerve from their
great allegiance. Injury and insult would be shamed by forgiveness
"Father," men would say, "forgive them; for they know not what they do."
None would seek to be enriched at another's loss or expense. Every man
would feel that the whole human race were his brothers. All sorrow and pain
and anguish would be soothed by a perfect faith and an entire trust in the
Infinite Goodness of God. The world around us would be new, and the Heavens
above us; for here, and there, and everywhere, through all the ample
glories and splendors of the Universe, all men would recognize and feel the
presence and the beneficent care of a loving Father.
However the Mason may believe as to creeds, and churches, and miracles, and
missions from Heaven, he must admit that the Life and character of Him who
taught in Galilee, and fragments of Whose teachings have come down to us,
are worthy of all imitation. That Life is an undenied and undeniable
Gospel. Its teachings cannot be passed by and discarded. All must admit
that it would be happiness to follow and perfection to imitate Him. None
ever felt for Him a sincere emotion of contempt, nor in anger accused Him
of sophistry, nor saw immorality lurking in His doctrines; however they may
judge of those who succeeded Him, and claimed to be His apostles. Divine or
human, inspired or only a reforming Essene, it must be agreed that His
teachings are far nobler, far purer, far less alloyed with error and
imperfection, far less of the earth earthly, than those of Socrates, Plato,
Seneca, or Mahomet, or any other of the great moralists and Reformers of
If our aims went as completely as His beyond personal care and selfish
gratification; if our thoughts and words and actions were as entirely
employed upon the great work of benefiting our kind-- the true work which
we have been placed here to do - as His were; if our nature were as gentle
and as tender as His; and if society, country, kindred, friendship, and
home were as dear to us as they were to Him, we should be at once relieved
of more than half the difficulties and the diseased and painful affections
of our lives. Simple obedience to rectitude, instead of self-interest;
simple self-culture and self-improvement, instead of constant cultivation
of the good opinion of others; single-hearted aims and purposes, instead of
improper objects, sought and approached by devious and crooked ways, would
free our meditations of many disturbing and irritating questions.
Not to renounce the nobler and better affections of our natures, nor
happiness, nor our just dues of love and honor from men; not to vilify
ourselves, nor to renounce our self-respect, nor a just and reasonable
sense of our merits and deserts, nor our own righteousness of virtue, does
Masonry require, nor would our imitation of Him require; but to renounce
our vices, our faults, our passions, our self-flattering delusions; to
forego all outward advantages, which are to be gained only through a
sacrifice of our inward integrity, or by anxious and petty contrivances and
appliances; to choose and keep the better part; to secure that, and let the
worst take care of itself; to keep a good conscience, and let opinion come
and go as it will; to retain a lofty self-respect, and let low
self-indulgence go; to keep inward happiness, and let outward advantages
hold a subordinate place; to renoune our selfishness, and that eternal
anxiety as to what we are to have, and what men think of us; and be content
with the plenitude of God's great mercies, and so to be happy. For it is
the inordinate devotion to self, and consideration of self, that is ever a
a stumbling block in the way; that spreads questions, snares, and
difficulties around us, darkens the way of Providence, and makes the world
a far less happy one to us than it might be.
As He taught, so Masonry teaches, affection to our kindred, tenderness to
our friends, gentleness and forbearance toward our inferiors, pity for the
suffering, forgiveness of our enemies; and to wear an affectionate nature
and gentle disposition as the garment of our life, investing pain; and
toil, and agony, and even death, with a serene and holy beauty. It does not
teach us to wrap ourselves in the garments of reserve and pride, to care
nothing for the world because it cares nothing for us, to withdraw our
thoughts from society because it does us not justice, and see how patiently
we can live within the confines of our own bosoms, or in quiet communion,
through books, with the mighty dead. No man ever found peace or light in
that way. Every relation, of hate, scorn, or neglect, to mankind, is full
of vexation and torment. There is nothing to do with men but to love them,
to admire their virtues, pity and bear with their faults, and forgive their
injuries. To hate your adversary will not help you; to kill him will help
you still less: nothing within the compass of the Universe will help you,
but to pity, forgive, and love him.
If we possessed His gentle and affectionate disposition, His love and
compassion for all that err and all that offend, how many difficulties,
both within and without us, would they relieve ! How many depressed minds
should we console ! How many troubles in society should we compose! How
many enmities soften! How many a knot of mystery and misunderstanding would
be untied by a single word, spoken in simple and confiding truth! How many
a rough path would be made smooth, and how many a crooked path be made
straight ! Very many places, now solitary, would be made glad; very many
dark places be filled with light.
Morality has its axioms, like the other sciences; and these axioms are, in
all languages, justly termed moral truths. Moral truths, considered in
themselves, are equally as certain as mathematical truths. Given the idea
of a deposit, the idea of keeping it faithfully is attached to it as
necessarily, as to the idea of a triangle is attached the idea that its
three angles are equal to two right angles. You may violate a deposit; but
in doing so, do not imagine that you change the nature of things, or make
what is in itself a deposit become your own property. The two ideas exclude
each other. You have but a false semblance of property: and all the efforts
of the passions, all the sophisms of interest, will not overturn essential
differences. Therefore it is that a moral truth is so imperious; because,
like all truth, it is what it is, and shapes itself to please no caprice.
Always the same, and always present, little as we may like it, it
inexorably condemns, with a voice always heard, but not always regarded,
the insensate and guilty will which thinks to prevent its existing, by
denying, or rather by pretending to deny, its existence.
The moral truths are distinguished from other truths by this singular
characteristic: so soon as we perceive them, they appear to us as the rule
of our conduct. If it is true that a deposit is made in order to be
returned to its legitimate possessor, it must be returned. To the necessity
of believing the truth, the necessity practising it is added.
The necessity of practising the moral truths is obligation. The moral
truths, necessary to the eye of reason, are obligatory on the will. The
moral obligation, like the moral truth which is its basis, is absolute. As
necessary truths are not more or less necessary, so obligation is not more
or less obligatory. There are degrees of importance among different
obligations; but there are no degrees in the obligation itself. One is not
nearly obliged, almost obliged; but wholly so, or not at all. If there be
any place of refuge against the obligation, it ceases to exist.
If the obligation is absolute, it is immutable and universal. For if what
is obligation to-day may not be so to-morrow, if what is obligatory for me
may not be so for you, the obligation differing from itself, it would be
relative and contingent. This fact of absolute, immutable, universal
obligation is certain and manifest. The good is the foundation of
obligation. If it be not, obligation has no foundation; and that is
impossible. If one act ought to be done, and another ought not, it must be
because evidently there is an essential difference between the two acts. If
one be not good and the other bad, the obligation imposed on us is arbitrary.
To make the Good a consequence, of anything whatever, is to annihilate it.
It is the first, or it is nothing. When we ask an honest man why, despite
his urgent necessities, he has respected the sanctity of a deposit, he
answers, because it was his duty. Asked why it was his duty, he answers,
because it was right, was just, was good. Beyond that there is no answer to
be made, but there is also no question to be asked. No one permits a duty
to be imposed on him without giving himself a reason for it: but when it is
admitted that the duty is commanded by justice, the mind is satisfied; for
it has arrived at a principle beyond which there is nothing to seek,
justice being its own principle. The primary truths include their own
reason: and justice, the essential distinction between good and evil, is
the first truth of morality.
Justice is not a consequence; because we cannot ascend to any principle
above it. Moral truth forces itself on man, and does not emanate from him.
It no more becomes subjective, by appearing to us obligatory, than truth
does by appearing to us necessary. It is in the very nature of the true and
the good that we must seek for the reason of necessity and obligation.
Obligation is founded on the necessary distinction between the good and the
evil; and it is itself the foundation of liberty. If man has his duties to
perform, he must have the faculty of accomplishing them, of resisting
desire, passion, and interest, in order to obey the law. He must be free;
therefore he is so, or human nature is in contradiction with itself. The
certainty of the obligation involves the corresponding certainty of free will.
It is the will that is free: though sometimes that will may be ineffectual.
The power to do must not be confounded with the power to will. The former
may be limited: the latter is sovereign. The external effects may be
prevented: the resolution itself cannot. Of this sovereign power of the
will we are conscious. We feel in ourselves, before it becomes determinate,
the force which can determine itself in one way or another. At the same
time when I will this or that, I am equally conscious that I can will the
contrary. I am conscious that I am the master of my resolution: that I may
check it, continue it, retake it. When the act has ceased, the
consciousness of the power which produced it has not. That consciousness
and the power remain, superior to all the manifestations of the power.
Wherefore free-will is the essential and ever-subsisting attribute of the
At the same time that we judge that a free agent has done a good or a bad
act, we form another judgment, as necessary as the first; that if he has
done well, he deserves compensation; if ill, punishment. That judgment may
be expressed in a manner more or less vivid, according as it is mingled
with sentiments more or less ardent. Sometimes it will be a merely kind
feeling toward a virtuous agent, and moderately hostile to a guilty one;
sometimes enthusiasm or indignation. The judgment of merit and demerit is
intimately connected with the judgment of good and evil. Merit is the
natural right which we have to be rewarded; demerit the natural right which
others have to punish us. But whether the reward is received, or the
punishment undergone, or not, the merit or demerit equally subsists.
Punishment and reward are the satisfaction of merit and demerit, but do not
constitute them. Take away the former, and the latter continue. Take away
the latter, and there are no longer real rewards or punishments. When a
base man encompasses our merited honors, he has obtained the mere
appearance of a reward; a mere material advantage. The reward is
essentially moral; and its value is independent of its form. One of those
simple crowns of oak with which the early Romans rewarded heroism, was of
more real value than the wealth of the world, when it was the sign of the
gratitude and admiration of a people. Reward accorded to merit is a debt;
without merit it is an alms or a theft.
The Good is good in itself, and to be accomplished, whatever the
consequences. The results of the Good cannot but be fortunate. Happiness,
separated from the Good, is but a fact to which no moral idea is attached.
As an effect of the Good, it enters into the moral order, completes and
virtue without happiness, and crime without misery, is a contradiction and
disorder. If virtue suppose sacrifice (that is, suffering), eternal justice
requires that sacrifice generously accepted and courageously borne, shall
have for its reward the same happiness that was sacrificed: and it also
requires that crime shall be punished with unhappiness, for the guilty
happiness which it attempted to procure.
This law that attaches pleasure and sorrow to the good and the evil, is, in
general, accomplished even here below. For order rules in the world;
because the world lasts. Is that order sometimes disturbed? Are happiness
and sorrow not always distributed in legitimate proportion to crime and
virtue? The absolute judgment of the Good, the absolute judgment of
obligation, the absolute judgment of merit and demerit, continue to
subsist, inviolable and imprescriptible; and we cannot help but believe
that He Who has implanted in us the sentiment and idea of order, cannot
therein Himself be wanting; and that He will, sooner or later, reestablish
the holy harmony of virtue and happiness, by means belonging to Himself.
The Judgment of the Good, the decision that such a thing is good, and that
such another is not,--this is the primitive fact, and reposes on itself. By
its intimate resemblances to the judgment of the true and the beautiful, it
shows us the secret affinities of morality, metaphysics, and aesthetics.
The good, so especilly united to the true, is distinguished from it, only
because it is truth put in practice. The good is obligatory. These are two
indivisible but not identical ideas. The idea of obligation reposes on the
idea of the Good. In this intimate alliance, the former borrows from the
latter its universal and absolute character.
The obligatory good is the moral law. That is the foundation of all
morality. By it we separate ourselves from the morality of interest and the
morality of sentiment. We admit the existence of those facts, and their
influence; but we do not assign them the same rank.
To the moral law, in the reason of man, corresponds liberty in action.
Liberty is deduced from obligation, and is a fact irresistibly evident.
Man, as free, and subject to obligation, is a moral person; and that
involves the idea of rights. To these ideas is added that of merit and
demerit; which supposes the distinction between good and evil, obligation
and liberty; and creates the idea of reward and punishment.
The sentiments play no unimportant part in morality. All the moral
judgments are accompanied by sentiments that respond to them. From the
secret sources of enthusiasm the human will draws the mysterious virtue
that makes heroes. Truth enlightens and illumines. Sentiment warms and
inclines to action. Interest also bears its part; and the hope of happiness
is the work of God, and one of the motive powers of human action.
Such is the admirable economy of the moral constitution of man. His Supreme
Object, the Good: his law, virtue, which often imposes upon him suffering,
thus making him to excel all other created beings known to us. But this law
is harsh, and in contradiction with the instinctive desire for happiness.
Wherefore the Beneficent Author of his being has placed in his soul, by the
side of the severe law of duty, the sweet, delightful force of sentiment.
Generally he attaches happiness to virtue; and for the exceptions, for such
there are, he has placed Hope at the end of the journey to be travelled.
Thus there is a side on which morality touches religion. It is a sublime
necessity of Humanity to see in God the Legislator suremely wise, the
witness always present, the infallible Judge of virtue. The human mind,
ever climbing up to God, would deem the foundations of morality too
unstahle, if it did not place in God the first principle of the moral law.
Wishing to give to the moral law a religious character, we run the risk of
taking from it its moral character. We may refer it so entirely to God as
to make His will an arbitrary degree. But the will of God, whence we deduce
morality, in order to give it authority, itself has no moral authority,
exccpt as it is just. The Good comes from the will of God alone; but from
His will, in so far as it is the expression of His wisdom and justice. The
Eternal Justice of God is the sole foundation of Justice, such as Humanity
perceives and practises it. The Good, duty, merit and demerit, are referred
to God, as everything is referred to Him; but they have none the less a
proper evidence and authority. Religion is the crown of Morality, not its
base. The base of Morality is in itself.
The Moral Code of Masonry is still more extensive than tha developed by
philosophy. To the requisitions of the law of Nature and the law of God, it
adds the imperative obligation of a contract. Upon entering the Order, the
Initiate binds to himself every Mason in the world. Once enrolled among the
children of light, every Mason on earth becomes his brother, and owes him
the duties, the kindnesses, and the sympathies of a brother. On every one
he may call for assistance in need, protection against danger, sympathy in
sorrow, attention in sickness, and decent burial after death. There is not
a Mason in the world who is not bound to go to his relief, when he is in
danger, if there be greater probability of saving his life than of losing
his own. No Mason can wrong him to the value of anything, knowingly,
himself, nor suffer it to be done by others, if it be in his power to
prevent it. No Mason can speak evil of him, to his face or behind his back.
Every Mason must keep his lawful secrets, and aid him in his business,
defend his character when unjustly assailed, and protect, counsel, and
assist his widow and his orphans. What so many thousands owe to him, he
owes to each of them. He has solemnly bound himself to be ever ready to
discharge this sacred debt. If he fails to do it he is dishonest and
forsworn; and it is an unparalleled meanness in him to obtain good offices
by false pretences, to receive kindness and service, rendered him under the
confident expectation that he will in his turn render the same, and then to
disappoint, without ample reason, that just expectation.
Masonry holds him also, by his solemn promise, to a purer life a nobler
generosity, a more perfect charity of opinion and action; to be tolerant,.
catholic in his love for his race, ardent in his zeal for the interest of
mankind, the advancement and progress of humanity.
Such are, we think, the Philosophy and the Morality, such the TRUE WORD of
a Master Mason.
The world, the ancients believed, was governed by Seven Secondary Causes;
and these were the universal forces, known to the Hebrews by the plural
name ELOHIM. These forces, analogous and contrary one to the other, produce
equilibrium by their contrasts, and regulate the movements of the spheres.
The Hebrews called them the Seven great Archangels, and gave them names,
each of which, being a combination of another word with AL, the first
Phoenician Nature-God, considered as the Principle of Light, represented
them as His manifestations. Other peoples assigned to these Spirits the
government of the Seven Planets then known, and gave them the names of
their great divinities.
So, in the Kabala, the last Seven Sephiroth constituted ATIK YOMIN, the
Ancient of Days; and these, as well as the Seven planets, correspond with
the Seven colors separated by the prism, and the Seven notes of the musical
Seven is the sacred number in all theogonies and all symbols, because it is
composed of 3 and 4. It represents the magical power in its full force. It
is the Spirit assisted by all the Elementary Powers, the Soul served by
Nature, the Holy Empire spoken of in the clavicules of Solomon, symbolized
by a warrior, crowned, bearing a triangle on his cuirass, and standing on a
cube, to which are harnessed two Sphinxes, one white and the other black,
pulling contrary ways, and turning the head to look backward.
The vices are Seven, like the virtues; and the latter were anciently
symbolized by the Seven Celestial bodies then known as planets. FAITH, as
the converse of arrogant Confidence, was represented by the Sun; HOPE,
enemy of Avarice, by the Moon; CHARITY, opposed to Luxury, by Venus; FORCE,
stronger than Rage, by Mars; PRUDENCE, the opposite of Indolence, by
Mercury; TEMPERANCE, the antipodes of Gluttony, by Saturn; and JUSTICE, the
opposite of Envy, by Jupiter.
The Kabalistic book of the Apocalypse is represented as closed with Seven
Seals. In it we find the Seven genii of the Ancient Mythologies; and the
doctrine concealed under its emblems is the pure Kabala, already lost by
the Pharisees at the advent of the Saviour. The pictures that follow in
this wondrous epic are so many pantacles, of which the numbers 3, 4, 7, and
12 are keys.
The Cherub, or symbolic bull, which Moses places at the gate of the Edenic
world, holding a blazing sword, is a Sphinx, with the body of a bull and a
human head; the old Assyrian Sphinx whereof the combat and victory of
Mithras were the hieroglyph analysis. This armed Sphinx represents the law
of the Mystery, which keeps watch at the door of initiation, to repulse the
Profane. It also represents the grand Magical Mystery, all the elements
whereof the number 7 expresses, still without giving it last word. This
"unspeakable word" of the Sages of the school of Alexandria, this word,
which the Hebrew Kabalists wrote; IHUH, and translated by ARARITA, so
expressing the threefoldness of the Secondary Principle, the dualism of the
middle ones, and the Unity as well of the first Principle as of the end;
and also the junction of the number 3 with the number 4 in a word composed
of four letters, but formed of seven by one triplicate and two repeated,-
-this word is pronounced Ararita.
The vowels in the Greek language are also Seven in number, and were used to
designate the Seven planets.
Tsadok or Sydyc was the Supreme God in Phoenicia. His Seven Sons were
probably the Seven Cabiri; and he was the Heptaktis, the God of Seven Rays.
Kronos, the Greek saturn, Philo makes Sanchoniathon say, had six sons, and
by Astarte Seven daughters, the Titanides. The Persians adored Ahura Masda
or Ormuzd and the Six Amshaspands the first three of whom were Lords of the
Empires of Light, Fire and Splendor; the Babylonians, Bal and the Gods; the
Chinese Shangti, and the Six Chief Spirits; and the Greeks, Kronos, and the
Six great Male Gods, his progeny, Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo, Ares, Hephaistos,
and Hermes; while the female deities were also Seven: Rhea, wife of Kronos,
Here, Athene, Artemis, Aphrodite, Hestia, and Demetei. In the Orphic
Theogony, Gaia produced the fourteen Titans, Seven male and Seven female,
Kronos being the most potent of the males; and as the number Seven appears
in these, nine by threes, or the triple triangle, is found in the three
Moerae or Fates, the three Centimanes, and the three Cyclopes, offspring of
Ouranos and Gaia, or Heaven and Earth.
The metals, like the colors, were deemed to be Seven in number, and a metal
and color were assigned to each planet. Of the metals, gold was assigned to
the Sun and silver to the Moon.
The palace of Deioces in Ecbatana had Seven circular walls of different
colors, the two innermost having their battlements covered respectively
with silvering and gilding.
And the Seven Spheres of Borsippa were represented by the Stories, each of
a different color, of the tower or truncated pyramid of Bel at Babylon.
Pharaoh saw in his dream, which Joseph interpreted, Seven ears of wheat on
one stalk, full and good, and after them Seven ears, withered, thin, and
blasted with the East Wind; and the Seven thin ears devoured the Seven good
ears; and Joseph interpreted these to mean Seven years of plenty succeeded
by Seven years of famine.
Connected with this Ebn Hesham relates that a flood of rain laid bare to
view a sepulchre in Yemen, in which lay a woman having on her neck Seven
collars of pearls, and on her hands and feet bracelets and ankle-rings and
armlets, Seven on each, with an inscription on a tablet showing that, after
attempting in vain to purchase grain of Joseph, she, Tajah, daughter of Dzu
Shefar, and her people, died of famine.
Hear again the words of an adept, who had profoundly studied the mysteries
of science, and wrote, as the Ancient Oracles spoke, in enigmas; but who
knew that the theory of mechanical forces and of the materiality of the
most potent agents of Divinity, explains nothing, and ought to satisfy no one!
Through the veil of all the hieratic and mystic allegories of the ancient
dogmas, under the seal of all the sacred writings, in the ruins of Nineveh
or Thebes, on the worn stones of the ancient temples, and on the blackened
face of the sphinx of Assyria or Egypt, in the monstrous or marvellous
pictures which the sacred pages of the Vedas translate for the believers of
India, in the strange emblems of our old books of alchemy, in the
ceremonies of reception practised by all the mysterious Societies, we find
the traces of a doctrine, everywhere the same, and everywhere carefully
concealed. The occult philosophy seems to have been the nurse or the
godmother of all religions, the secret lever of all the intellectual
forces, the key of all divine obscurities, and the absolute Queen of
Society, in the ages when it was exclusively reserved for the education of
the Priests and Kings.
It had reigned in Persia with the Magi, who perished one day as the masters
of the world had perished, for having abused their power. It had endowed
India with the most marvellous traditions, and an incredible luxury of
poetry, grace, and terror in its emblems: it had civilized Greece by the
sounds of the lyre of Orpheus: it hid the principles of all the sciences,
and of the whole progression of the human spirit, in the audacious
calculations of Pythagoras: fable teemed with its miracles; and history,
when it undertook to judge of this unknown power, confounded itself with
fable: it shook or enfeebled empires by its oracles; made tyrants turn pale
on their thrones, and ruled over all minds by means of curiosity or fear.
To this science, said the crowd, nothing is impossible; it commands the
elements, knows the language of the planets, and controls the movements of
the stars; the moon, at its voice, falls, reeking with blood, from Heaven;
the dead rise upright on their graves, and shape into fatal words the wind
that breathes through their skulls. Controller of Love or Hate, this
science can at pleasure confer on human hearts Paradise or Hell: it
disposes at will of all forms, and distributes beauty or deformity as it
pleases: it changes in turn, with the rod of Circe, men into brutes and
animals into men: it even disposes of Life or of Death, and can bestow on
its adepts riches by the transmutation of metals, and immortality by its
quintessence and elixir, compounded of gold and light.
This is what magic had been, from Zoroaster to Manes, from Orpheus to
Apollonius Thyaneus; when positive Christianity, triumphing over the
splendid dreams and gigantic aspirations of the school of Alexandria,
publicly crushed this philosophy with its anathemas, and compelled it to
become more occult and more mysterious than ever.
At the bottom of magic, nevertheless, was science, as at the bottom of
Christianity there was love; and in the Evangelic Symbols we see the
incarnate WORD adored in its infancy by three magi whom a star guides (the
ternary and the sign of the microcosm), and receiving from them gold,
frankincense, and myrrh; another mysterious ternary, under the emblem
whereof are allegorically contained the highest secrets of the Kabala.
Christianity should not have hated Magic; but human ignorance always fears
the unknown. Science was obliged to conceal itself, to avoid the
impassioned aggressions of a blind love. It enveloped itself in new
hieroglyphs, concealed its efforts, disguised its hopes. Then was created
the jargon of alchemy, a continual deception for the vulgar herd, greedy of
gold, and a living language for the true disciples of Hermes alone.
Resorting to Masonry, the alchemists there invented Degrees, and partly
unveiled their doctrine to their Initiates; not by the language of their
receptions, but by oral instruction afterward; for their rituals, to one
who has not the key, are but inconprehensible and absurd jargon.
Among the sacred books of the Christians are two works which the infallible
church does not pretend to understand, and never attempts to explain,--the
prophecy of Ezekiel and the Apocalypse; two cabalistic clavicules,
reserved, no doubt, in Heaven, for the exposition of the Magian kings;
closed with Seven seals for all faithful believers; and perfectly clear to
the unbeliever initiated in the occult sciences.
For Christians, and in their opinion, the scientific and magical clavicules
of Solomon are lost. Nevertheless, it is certain that, in the domain of
intelligence governed by the WORD, nothing that is written is lost. Only
those things which men cease to understand no longer exist for them, at
least as WORD; then they enter into the domain of enigmas and mystery.
The mysterious founder of the Christian Church was saluted in His cradle by
the three Magi, that is to say by the hieratic ambassadors from the three
parts of the known world, and from the three analogical worlds of the
In the school of Alexandria, Magic and Christianity almost take each other
by the hand under the auspices of Ammonius Saccos and Plato. The dogma of
Hermes is found almost entire in the writings attributed to Dionysius the
Areopagite. Synesius traces the plan of a treatise on dreams, which was
subsequently to be commented on by Cardan, and composes hymns which might
serve for the liturgy of the Church of Swedenborg, if a church of
illuminati could have a liturgy.
To this epoch of ardent abstractions and impassioned logomachies belongs
the philosophical reign of Julian, an illuminatus and Initiate of the first
order, who believed in the unity of God and the universal Dogma of the
Trinity, and regretted the loss of nothing of the old world but its
magnificent symbols and too graceful images. He was no Pagan, but a
Gnostic, infected with the allegories of Grecian polytheism, and whose
misfortune it was to find the name of Jesus Christ less sonorous than that
We may be sure that so soon as Religion and Philosophy become distinct
departments, the mental activity of the age is in advance of its Faith; and
that, though habit may sustain the latter for a time, its vitality is gone.
The dunces who led primitive Christianity astray, by substituting faith for
science, reverie for experience, the fantastic for the reality; and the
inquisitors who for so many ages waged agains Magism a war of
extermination, have succeeded in shrouding in darkness the ancient
discoveries of the human mind; so that we now grope in the dark to find
again the key of the phenomena of nature. But all natural phenomena depend
on a single al immutable law, represented by the philosophal stone and its
symbolic form, which is that of a cube. This law, expressed in the Kabala
by the number 4, furnished the Hebrews with all the mysteries of their
Everything is contained in that word of four letters. It is the Azot of the
Alchemists, the Thot of the Bohemians, the Taro of the Kabalists. It
supplies to the Adept the last word of the human Sciences, and the Key of
the Divine Power: but he alone understands how to avail himself of it who
comprehends the necessity of never revealing it. If OEdipus, in place of
slaying the Sphynx, had conquered it, and driven it into Thebes harnessed
to his chariot, he would have been King, without incest, calamities, or
exile. If Psyche, by submission and caresses, had persuaded Love to reveal
himself, she would never have lost him. Love is one of the mythological
images of the grand secret and the grand agent, because it expresses at
once an action and a passion, a void and plenitude, an arrow and a wound.
The Initiates ought to understand this, and, lest the profane should
overhear, Masonry never says too much.
When Science had been overcome in Alexandria by the fanaticism of the
murderers of Hypatia, it became Christian, or, rather it concealed itself
under Christian disguises, with Ammonius Synosius, and the author of the
books of Dionysius the Areopagite. Then it was necessary to win the pardon
of miracles by the appearances of superstition, and of science by a
language unintelligible. Hieroglyphic writing was revived, and pantacles
and characters were invented, that summed up a whole doctrine in a sign, a
whole series of tendencies and revelations in a word. What as the object of
the aspirants to knowledge? They sought for the secret of the great work,
or the Philosophal Stone, or the perpetual motion, or the squaring of the
circle, or the universal medicine; formulas which often saved them from
persecution and general ill-will, by exposing them to the charge of folly;
and each of which expressed one of the forces of the grand magical secret.
This lasted until the time of the Roman de la Rose, which also expresses
the mysterious and magical meaning of the poem of Dante, borrowed from the
High Kabalah, that immense and conealed source of the universal philosophy.
It is not strange that man knows but little of the powers of the human
will, and imperfectly appreciates them; since he knows nothing as to the
nature of the will and its mode of operation. That his own will can move
his arm, or compel another to obey him; that his thoughts, symbolically
expressed by the signs of writing, can influence and lead other men, are
mysteries as incomrehensible to him, as that the will of Deity could effect
the creaion of a Universe.
The powers of the will are as yet chiefly indefinite and unknown. Whether a
multitude of well-established phenomena are to be ascribed to the power of
the will alone, or to magnetism or some other natural agent, is a point as
yet unsettled; but it is agreed by all that a concentrated effort of the
will is in every case necessary to success.
That the phenomena are real is not to be doubted, unless credit is no
longer to be given to human testimony; and if they are real, there is no
reason for doubting the exercise heretofore, by many adepts, of the powers
that were then termed magical. Nothing is better vouched for than the
extraordinary performances of the Brahmins. No religion is supported by
stronger testimony; nor as any one ever even attempted to explain what may
well be termed their miracles.
How far, in this life, the mind and soul can act without and independently
of the body, no one as yet knows. That the will can act at all without
bodily contact, and the phenomena of dreams, are mysteries that confound
the wisest and most learned, whose explanations are but a Babel of words.
Man as yet knows little of the forces of nature. Surrounded, controlled,
and governed by them, while he vainly thinks himself independent, not only
of his race, but the universal nature and her infinite manifold forces, he
is the slave of these forces, unless he becomes their master. He can
neither ignore their existen nor be simply their neighbor.
There is in nature one most potent force, by means whereof single man, who
could possess himself of it, and should know how to direct it, could
revolutionize and change the face of the world.
This force was known to the ancients. It is a universal age whose supreme
law is equilibrium; and whereby, if science can but learn how to control
it, it will be possible to change the order of the Seasons, to produce in
night the phenomena of day, to send a thought in an instant round the
world, to heal or slay at a distance, to give our words universal success,
a make them reverberate everywhere.
This agent, partially revealed by the blind guesses of the disciples of
Mesmer, is precisely what the Adepts of the middle ages called the
elementary matter of the great work. The Gnostics held that it composed the
igneous body of the Holy Spirit; a it was adored in the secret rites of the
Sabbat or the Temple, under the hieroglyphic figure of Baphomet or the
hermaphrodic goat of Mendes.
There is a Life-Principle of the world, a univercal agent, wherein are two
natures and a double current, of love and wrath. This ambient fluid
penetrates everything. It is a ray detach from the glory of the Sun, and
fixed by the weight of the atmosphere and the central attraction. It is the
body of the Holy Spirit, the universal Agent, the Serpent devouring his own
tail. With this electro-magnetic ether, this vital and luminous caloric,
the ancients and the alchemists were familiar. Of this agent, that phase of
modern ignorance termed physical science talks incoherently, knowing naught
of it save its effects; and theology might apply to it all its pretended
definitions of spirit. Quiescent, it is appreciable by no human sense;
disturbed or in movement, none can explain its mode of action; and to term
it a "fluid," and speak of its "currents," is but to veil a profound
ignorance under a cloud of words.
Force attracts force, life attracts life, health attracts health, is a law
If two children live together, and still more if they sleep together, and
one is feeble and the other strong, the strong will absorb the feeble, and
the latter will perish.
In schools, some pupils absorb the intellect of the others, and in every
circle of men some one individual is soon found, who possesses himself of
the wills of the others.
Enthralments by currents is very common; and one is carried away by the
crowd, in morals as in physics. The human will has an almost absolute power
in determining one's acts; and every external demonstration of a will has
an influence on external things.
Tissot ascribed most maladies to disorders of the will, or the perverse
influences of the wills of others. We become subject to the wills of others
by the analogies of our inclinations, and still more by those of our
defects. To caress the weaknesses of an individual, is to possess ourself
of him, and make of him an instrument in the order of the same errors or
depravations. But when two natures, analogical in defects, are subordinated
one to the other, there is effected a kind of substitution of the stronger
instead of the weaker, and a genuine imprisonment of one mind by the other.
Often the weaker struggles, and would fain revolt; and then falls lower
than ever in servitude.
We each have some dominant defect, by which the enemy can grasp us. In some
it is vanity, in others indolence, in most egotism. Let a cunning and evil
spirit possess himself of this, and you are lost. Then you become, not
foolish, nor an idiot, but positively a lunatic, the slave of an impulse
from without. You have an instinctive horror for everything that could
restore you to reason, and will not even listen to representations that
contravene your insanity.
Miracles are the natural effects of exceptional causes.
The immediate action of the human will on bodies, or at least this action
exercised without visible means, constitutes a miracle in the physical order.
The influence exercised on wills or intellects, suddenly or within a given
time, and capable of taking captive the thoughts, changing the firmest
resolutions, paralyzing the most violent passions, constiuttes a miracle in
the moral order.
The common error in relation to miracles is, to regard them as effects
without causes; as contradictions of nature; as sudden fictions of the
Divine imagination; and men do not reflect that a single miracle of this
sort would break the universal harmony and re-plunge the universe into Chaos.
There are miracles impossible to God Himself: absurd miracles are so. If
God could be absurd for a single instant, neither He nor the Universe would
exist an instant afterward. To expect of the Divine Free-Will an effect
whose cause is unacknowledged or does not exist, is what is termed tempting
God. It is to precipitate one's self into the void.
God acts by His works: in Heaven, by angels; on earth, by men.
In the heaven of human conceptions, it is humanity that creates God; and
men think that God has made them in His image, because they make Him in theirs.
The domain of man is all corporeal nature, visible on earth; and if he does
not rule the planets or the stars, he can at least calculate their
movement, measure their distances, and identify his will with their
influence: he can modify the atmosphere, act to a certain point on the
seasons, cure and afflict with sickness other men, preserve life and cause
The absolute in reason and will is the greatest power which it is given to
men to attain; and it is by means of this power that what the multitude
admires under the name of miracles, are effected.
POWER is the wise use of the will, which makes Fatality itself serve to
accomplish the purposes of Sages.
Omnipotence is the most absolute Liberty; and absolute Liberty cannot exist
without a perfect equilibrium; and the columns JACHIN and BOAZ are also the
unlimited POWER and SPLENDOR OF PERFECTION of the Deity, the seventh and
eighth SEPHIROTH of the Kabalah, from whose equilibrium result the eternal
permanence and Stability of His plans and works, and of that perfect
Success and undivided, unlimited Dominion, which are the ninth and tenth
SEPHIROTH, and of which the Temple of Solomon, in its stately symmetry,
erected without the sound of any tool of metal being heard, is to us a
symbol. "For Thine," says tbe Most Perfect of Prayers, "is the DOMINION,
the POWER, and the GLORY, during all the ages ! Amen !"
The ABSOLUTE is the very necessity of BEING, the immutable law of Reason
and of Truth. It is THAT WHICH IS. BUT THAT WHICH IS is in some sort before
HE WHO IS. God Himself is not without a reason of existence. He does not
exist accidentally He could not not have been. His Existence, then, is
necessitated is necessary. He can exist only in virtue of a supreme and
inevitable REASON. That REASON, then, is THE ABSOLUTE; for it is in IT we
must believe, if we would that our faith should have a reasonable and solid
basis. It has been said in our times, that God is a Hypothesis; but
Absolute Reason is not one: it is essential to Existence.
Saint Thomas said, "A thing is not just because God wills it, BUT GOD WILLS
IT BECAUSE IT IS JUST." If he had deduced all the consequences of this fine
thought, he would have discovered the true Philosopher's Stone; the magical
elixir, to convert all the trials of the world into golden mercies.
Precisely as it is a necessity for God to BE, so it is a necessity for Him
to be just, loving, and merciful. He cannot be unjust, cruel, merciless. He
cannot repeal the law of right and wrong, of merit and demerit; for the
moral laws are as absolute as the physical laws. There are impossible
things. As it is impossible to make two and two be five and not four; as it
is impossible to make a thing be and not be at the same time; so it is
impossible for the Deity to make crime a merit, and love and gratitude
crimes. So, too, it was impossible to make Man perfect, with his bodily
senses and appetites, as it was to make his nerves susceptible of pleasure
and not also of pain.
Therefore, according to the idea of Saint Thomas, the moral laws are the
enactments of the Divine WILL, only because they are the decisions of the
Absolute WISDOM and REASON, and the Revelations of the Divine NATURE. In
this alone consists the right of Deity to enact them; and thus only do we
attain the certainty in Faith that the Universe is one Harmony.
To believe in the Reason of God, and in the God of Reason, is to make
Atheism impossible. It is the Idolaters who have made the Atheists.
Analogy gives the Sage all the forces of Nature. It is the key of the Grand
Arcanum, the root of the Tree of Life, the science of Good and Evil.
The Absolute, is REASON. Reason IS, by means of Itself. It IS BECAUSE IT
IS, and not because we suppose it. IT IS, where nothing exists but nothing
could possibly exist without IT. Reason is Necessity, Law, the Rule of all
Liberty, and the direction of every Initiative. If God IS, HE IS by Reason.
The conception of an Absolute Deity, outside of, or independent of, Reason,
is the IDOL of Black Magic, the PHANTOM of the Daemon.
The Supreme Intelligence is necessarily rational. God, in philosophy, can
be no more than a Hypothesis; but a Hypothesis imposed by good sense on
Human Reason. To personify the Absolute Reason, is to determine the Divine
NECESSITY, LIBERTY, and REASON! Behold the great and supreme Triangle of
FATALITY, WILL, and POWER! Such is the magical ternary which, in human
things, corresponds with the Divine Triangle.
FATALITY is the inevitable linking together, in succession, of effects and
causes, in a given order.
WILL is the faculty that directs the forces of the Intellect, so as to
reconcile the liberty of persons with the necessity of things,
The argument from these premises must be made by yourself. Each one of us
does that. "Seek," say the Holy Writings, "and ye shall find." Yet
discussion is not forbidden; and without doubt the subject will be fully
treated of in your hearing here after. Affirmation, negation,
discussion,--it is by these the truth is attained.
To explore the great Mysteries of the universe and seek to solve its
manifold enigmas, is the chief use of Thought, and constitutes the
principal distinction between Man and the animals. Accordingly, in all ages
the Intellect has labored to understand and explain to itself the Nature of
the supreme Deity.
That one Reason and one Will created and governed the Universe was too
evident not to be at once admitted by the philosophers of all ages. It was
the ancient religions that sought to multiply gods. The Nature of the One
Deity, and the mode in which the Universe had its beginning, are questions
that have always been the racks in which the human intellect has been
tortured: and is chiefly with these that the Kabalists have dealt.
It is true that, in one sense, we can have no actual knowled of the
Absolute Itself, the very Deity. Our means of obtaining what is commonly
termed actual knowledge, are our senses only. If to see and feel be
knowledge, we have none of our own Soul of electricity, of magnetism. We
see and feel and taste an acid or an alkali, and know something of the
qualities of each; but it is only when we use them in combination with
other substances, and learn their effects, that we really begin to know
their nature. It is the combination and experiments of Chemistry that give
us a knowledge of the nature and powers of most animal and vegetable
substances. As these are cognizable by inspection by our senses, we may
partially know them by that alone: but the Soul, either of ourself or of
another, being beyond that cognizance, can only be known by the acts and
words which are its effects. Magnetism and electricity, when at rest, are
equally beyond the jurisdiction of the senses; and when they are in action,
we see, feel, hear, taste, and smell only their effects. We do not know
what they are, but only what they do. We can know the attributes of Deity
only through His manifestations. To ask anything more, is to ask, not
knowledge, but something else, for which we have no name. God is a Power;
and we know nothing of any Power itself, but only its effects, results, and
action, and what Reason teaches us by analogy.
In these later days, in laboring to escape from all material ideas in
regard to Deity, we have so refined away our notions of GOD, as to have no
idea of Him at all. In struggling to regard Him as a pure immaterial
Spirit, we have made the word Spirit synonymous with nothing, and can only
say that He is a Somewhat, with certain attributes, such as Power, Wisdom,
and Intelligence. To compare Him to LIGHT, would now be deemed not only
unphilosophical, but the equivalent of Atheism; and we find it necessary to
excuse and pity the ancients for their inadequate and gross ideas of Deity,
expressed in considering Him as the Light-Principle, the invisible essence
or substance from which visible Light flows.
Yet our own holy writings continually speak of Him as Light; and therefore
the Tsabeans and the Kabala may well be pardoned for doing the same;
especially since they did not regard Him as the visible Light known to us,
but as the Primordial Ether-Ocean from which light flows.
Before the creation, did the Deity dwell alone in the Darkness, or in the
Light ? Did the Light co-exist with Him, or was it created, after an
eternity of darkness? and if it co-existed, was it an effluence from Him,
filling all space as He also filled it, He and the Light at the same time
filling the same place and every place ?
MILTON says, expressing the Hebraic doctrine:
"Hail, Holy Light, offspring of Heaven first-born,
Or of th' Eternal, co-eternal beam!
May I express thee unblamed, since God is Light.
And never but in unapproached Light
Dwelt from Eternity; dwelt then in Thee,
Bright effluence of bright Essence uncreate."
"The LIGHT," says the Book Omschim, or Introduction to the Kabala,
"supremest of all things, and most Lofty, and Limitless, and styled
INFINITE, can be attained unto by no cogitation or speculation; and its
VERY SELF is evidently withdrawn and removed beyond all intellection. It
WAS, before all things whatever, produced, created, formed, and made by
Emanation; and in it was neither Time, Head, or Beginning; since it always
existed, and remains forever, without commencement or end."
"Before the Emanations flowed forth, and created things were created, the
Supreme Light was infinitely extended, and filled the whole WHERE; so that
with reference to Light no vacuum could be affirmed, nor any unoccupied
space; but the ALL was filled with that Light of the Infinite, thus
extended, whereto in every regard was no end, inasmuch as nothing was,
except that extended Light, which, with a certain single and simple
equalityy, was everywhere like unto itself."
AINSOPH is called Light, says the Introduction to the Sohar because it is
impossible to express it by any other word.
To conceive of God as an actuality, and not as a mere non- substance or
name, which involved non-existence, the Kabala, like the Egyptians,
imagined Him to be "a most occult Light," AUR: not our material and visible
Light, but the Substance out of which Light flows, the fire, as relative to
its heat and flame. Of this Light or Ether, the Sun was to the Tsabeans the
only manifestation or out-shining, and as such it was worshipped, and not
as the type of dominion and power. God was the Phos Noeton, the Light
cognizable only by the Intellect, the Light-Principle, the Light Ether,
from which souls emanate, and to which they return.
Light, Fire, and Flame, with the Phoenicians, were the sons of Kronos. They
are the Trinity in the Chaldaean Oracles, the AOR of the Deity, manifested
in flame, that issues out of the invisible Fire.
In the first three Persian Amshaspands, Lords of LIGHT, FIRE, and SPLENDOR,
we recognize the AOR, ZOHAR, and ZAYO, Light, Splendor, and Brightness, of
the Kabalah. The first of these is termed AOR MUPALA, Wonderful or Hidden
Light, unrevealed, undisplayed--which is KETHER the first Emanation or
Sephirah, the Will of Deity: the second is NESTAR, Concealed--which is
HAKEMAH, the second Sephirah, or the Intellectual Potence of the Deity: and
the third is METANOTSATS, coruscating--which is BINAH, the third Sephirah,
or the intellectual producing capacity. In other words, they are THE VERY
SUBSTANCE of light, in the Deity: Fire, which is that light, limited and
furnished with attributes, so that it can be revealed, but yet remains
unrevealed, and its splendor or out-shining, or the light that goes out
from the fire.
Masonry is a search after Light. That search leads us directly back, as you
see, to the Kabalah. In that ancient and little understood medley of
absurdity and philosophy, the Initiate will find the source of many
doctrines; and may in time come to understand the Hermetic philosophers,
the Alchemists, all the Anti-papal Thinkers of the Middle Ages, and Emanuel
The Hansavati Rich, a celebrated Sanscrit Stanza, says: "He is Hansa (the
Sun), dwelling in light; Vasu, the atmosphere dwelling in the firmament;
the invoker of the gods (Agni), dwelling on the altar (i.e., the altar
fire); the guest (of the worshipper). dwelling in the house (the domestic
fire); the dweller amongst men (as consciousness); the dweller in the most
excellent orb, (the Sun); the dweller in truth; the dweller in the sky (the
air); born in the waters, in the rays of light, in the verity (of
manifestation), in the Eastern mountains; the Truth (itself)."
"In the beginning," says a Sanskrit hymn, "arose the Source of golden
light. He was the only born Lord of all that is. He established the earth
and the sky. Who is the God to Whom we shall offer our sacrifice?"
"He who gives life, He who gives strength; Whose blessing all the bright
gods desire; Whose shadow is immortality; Whose shadow is death; Who is the
"He through Whom the sky is bright and the earth for us; He through Whom
the Heaven was established, nay, the highest Heaven; He who measured out
the light in the air; Who is the God, etc?"
"He to Whom the Heaven and earth, standing firm by His will, look up
trembling inwardly; He over Whom the rising sun shines forth; Who is the
"Whenever the mighty water-clouds went, where they placed the seed and lit
the fire, thence arose He Who is the only life of the bright gods; Who is
the God! etc?"
end chapter 28