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To understand literally the symbols and allegories of Oriental books as to ante-historical matters, is willfully to close our eyes against the Light. To translate the symbols into the trivial and commonplace, is the blundering of mediocrity.
All religious expression is symbolism; since we can describe only what we see, and the true objects of religion are THE SEEN. The earliest instruments of education were symbols; and they and all other religious forms differed and still differ according to external circumstances and imagery, and according to differences of knowledge and mental cultivation. All language is symbolic, so far as it is applied to mental and spiritual phenomena and action. All words have, primarily, a material sense, however they may afterward get, for the ignorant, a spiritual non-sense. “To retract,” for example, is to draw back, and when applied to a statement, is symbolic, as much so as a picture of an arm drawn back, to express the same thing, would be. The very word “spirit” means “breath,” from the Latin verb spiro, breathe.
To present a visible symbol to the eye of another is not necessarily to inform him of the meaning which that symbol has to you. Hence the philosopher soon superadded to the symbols explanations addressed to the ear, susceptible of more precision, but less effective and impressive than the painted or sculptured forms which he endeavored to explain. Out of these explanations grew by degrees a variety of narrations, whose true object and meaning were gradually forgotten, or lost in contradictions and incongruities. And when these were abandoned, and Philosophy resorted to definitions and formulas, its language was but a more complicated symbolism, attempting in the dark to grapple with and picture ideas impossible to be expressed. For as with the visible symbol, so with the word: to utter it to you does not inform you of the exact meaning which it has to me; and thus religion and philosophy became to a great extent disputes as to the meaning of words. The most abstract expression for DEITY, which language can supply, is but a sign or symbol for an object beyond our comprehension, and not more truthful and adequate than the images of OSIRIS and VISHNU, or their names, except as being less sensuous and explicit. We avoid sensuousness only by resorting to simple negation. We come at last to define spirit by saying that it is not matter. Spirit is–spirit.
A single example of the symbolism of words will indicate to you one branch of Masonic study. We find in the English Rite this phrase: “I will always hail, ever conceal, and never reveal;” and in the Catechism, these:
Q∴ “I hail.”
A∴ “I conceal;”
and ignorance, misunderstanding the word “hail,” has interpolated the phrase, “From whence do you hail!'”
But the word is really “hele,” from the Anglo-Saxon verbelan, helan, to cover, hide, or conceal. And this word is rendered by the Latin verb tegere, to cover or roof over. “That ye fro me no thynge woll hele,” says Gower. “They hele fro me no priuyte,” says the Romaunt of the Rose. “To heal a house,” is a common phrase in Sussex; and in the west of England, he that covers a house with slates is called a Healer. Wherefore, to “heal” means the same thing as to “tile,”–itself symbolic, as meaning, primarily, to cover a house with tiles,–and means to cover, hide, or conceal. Thus language too is symbolism, and words are as much misunderstood and misused as more material symbols are.
Symbolism tended continually to become more complicated; and all the powers of Heaven were reproduced on earth, until a web of fiction and allegory was woven, partly by art and partly by the ignorance of error, which the wit of man, with his limited means of explanation, will never unravel. Even the Hebrew Theism became involved in symbolism and image-worship, borrowed probably from an older creed and remote regions of Asia,–the worship of the Great Semitic Nature-God AL or ELS and its symbolical representations of JEHOVAH Himself were not even confined to poetical or illustrative language. The priests were monotheists: the people idolaters.
There are dangers inseparable from symbolism, which afford an impressive lesson in regard to the similar risks attendant on the use of language. The imagination, called in to assist the reason, usurps its place or leaves its ally helplessly entangled in its web. Names which stand for things are confounded with them; the means are mistaken for the end; the instrument of interpretation for the object; and thus symbols come to usurp an independent character as truths and persons. Though perhaps a necessary path, they were a dangerous one by which to approach the Deity; in which many, says PLUTARCH, “mistaking the sign for the thing signified, fell into a ridiculous superstition; while others, in avoiding one extreme, plunged into the no less hideous gulf of irreligion and impiety.”
It is through the Mysteries, CICERO says, that we have learned the first principles of life; wherefore the term “initiation” is used with good reason; and they not only teach us to live more happily and agreeably, but they soften the pains of death by the hope of a better life hereafter.
The Mysteries were a Sacred Drama, exhibiting some legend significant of nature’s changes, of the visible Universe in which the Divinity is revealed, and whose import was in many respects as open to the Pagan as to the Christian. Nature is the great Teacher of man; for it is the Revelation of God. It neither dogmatizes nor attempts to tyrannize by compelling to a particular creed or special interpretation. It presents its symbols to us, and adds nothing by way of explanation. It is the text without the commentary; and, as we well know, it is chiefly the commentary and gloss that lead to error and heresy and persecution. The earliest instructors of mankind not only adopted the lessons of Nature, but as far as possible adhered to her method of imparting them. In the Mysteries, beyond the current traditions or sacred and enigmatic recitals of the Temples, few explanations were given to the spectators, who were left, as in the school of nature, to make inferences for themselves. No other method could have suited every degree of cultivation and capacity. To employ nature’s universal symbolism instead of the technicalities of language, rewards the humblest inquirer, and discloses its secrets to every one in proportion to his preparatory training and his power to comprehend them. If their philosophical meaning was above the comprehension of some, their moral and political meanings are within the reach of all.
These mystic shows and performances were not the reading of a lecture, but the opening of a problem. Requiring research, they were calculated to arouse the dormant intellect. They implied no hostility to Philosophy, because Philosophy is the great expounder of symbolism; although its ancient interpretations were often ill-founded and incorrect. The alteration from symbol to dogma is fatal to beauty of expression, and leads to intolerance and assumed infallibility.
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If, in teaching the great doctrine of the divine nature. of the Soul, and in striving to explain its longings after immortality, and in proving its superiority over the souls of the animals, which have no aspirations Heavenward, the ancients struggled in vain to express the nature of the soul, by comparing it to FIRE and LIGHT, it will be well for us to consider whether, with all our boasted knowledge, we have any better or clearer idea of its nature, and whether we have not despairingly taken refuge in having none at all. And if they erred as to its original place of abode, and understood literally the mode and path of its descent, these were but the accessories of the great Truth, and probably, to the Initiates, mere allegories, designed to make the idea more palpable and impressive to the mind.
They are at least no more fit to be smiled at by the self-conceit of a vain ignorance, the wealth of whose knowledge consists solely in words, than the bosom of Abraham, as a home for the spirits of the just dead; the gulf of actual fire, for the eternal torture of spirits; and the City of the New Jerusalem, with its walls of jasper and its edifices of pure gold like clear glass, its foundations of precious stones, and its gates each of a single pearl. “I knew a man,” says PAUL, “caught up to the third Heaven; . . . . that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard ineffable words, which it is not possible for a man to utter.” And nowhere is the antagonism and conflict between the spirit and body more frequently and forcibly insisted on than in the writings of this apostle, nowhere the Divine nature of the soul more strongly asserted. “With the mind,” he says, “I serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. . . .As many as are led by the Spirit of God, are the sons of GOD…. The earnest expectation of the created waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. . . . The created shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, of the flesh liable to decay, into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
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Two forms of government are favorable to the prevalence of falsehood and deceit. Under a Despotism, men are false, treacherous, and deceitful through fear, like slaves dreading the lash. Under a Democracy they are so as a means of attaining popularity and office, and because of the greed for wealth. Experience will probably prove that these odious and detestable vices will grow most rankly and spread most rapidly in a Republic. When office and wealth become the gods of a people, and the most unworthy and unfit most aspire to the former, and fraud becomes the highway to the latter, the land will reek with falsehood and sweat lies and chicane. When the offices are open to all, merit and stern integrity and the dignity of unsullied honor will attain them only rarely and by accident. To be able to serve the country well, will cease to be a reason why the great and wise and learned should be selected to render service. Other qualifications, less honorable, will be more available. To adapt one’s opinions to the popular humor; to defend, apologize for, and justify the popular follies; to advocate the expedient and the plausible; to caress, cajole, and flatter the elector; to beg like a spaniel for his vote, even if he be a negro three removes from barbarism; to profess friendship for a competitor and stab him by innuendo; to set on foot that which at third hand shall become a lie, being cousin-german to it when uttered, and yet capable of being explained away,–who is there that has not seen these low arts and base appliances put into practice, and becoming general, until success cannot be surely had by any more honorable means?–the result being a State ruled and ruined by ignorant and shallow mediocrity, pert self-conceit, the greenness of unripe intellect, vain of a school-boy’s smattering of knowledge.
The faithless and the false in public and in political life, will be faithless and false in private. The jockey in politics, like the jockey on the race-course, is rotten from skin to core. Everywhere he will see first to his own interests, and whoso leans on him will be pierced with a broken reed. His ambition is ignoble, like himself; and therefore he will seek to attain office by ignoble means, as he will seek to attain any other coveted object,–land, money, or reputation.
At length, office and honor are divorced. The place that the small and shallow, the knave or the trickster, is deemed competent and fit to fill, ceases to be worthy the ambition of the great and capable; or if not, these shrink from a contest, the weapons to be used wherein are unfit for a gentleman to handle. Then the habits of unprincipled advocates in law courts are naturalized in Senates, and pettifoggers wrangle there, when the fate of the nation and the lives of millions are at stake. States are even begotten by villainy and brought forth by fraud, and rascalities are justified by legislators claiming to be honorable. Then contested elections are decided by perjured votes or party considerations; and all the practices of the worst times of corruption are revived and exaggerated in Republics.
It is strange that reverence for truth, that manliness and genuine loyalty, and scorn of littleness and unfair advantage, and genuine faith and godliness and large-heartedness should diminish, among statesmen and people, as civilization advances, and freedom becomes more general, and universal suffrage implies universal worth and fitness! In the age of Elizabeth, without universal suffrage, or Societies for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, or popular lecturers, or Lycæa, the statesman, the merchant, the burgher, the sailor, were all alike heroic, fearing God only, and man not at all. Let but a hundred or two years elapse, and in a Monarchy or Republic of the same race, nothing is less heroic than the merchant, the shrewd speculator, the office-seeker, fearing man only, and God not at all. Reverence for greatness dies out, and is succeeded by base envy of greatness. Every man is in the way of many, either in the path to popularity or wealth. There is a general feeling of satisfaction when a great statesman is displaced, or a general, who has been for his brief hour the popular idol, is unfortunate and sinks from his high estate. It becomes a misfortune, if not a crime, to be above the popular level.
We should naturally suppose that a nation in distress would take counsel with the wisest of its sons. But, on the contrary, great men seem never so scarce as when they are most needed, and small men never so bold to insist on infesting place, as when mediocrity and incapable pretence and sophomoric greenness, and showy and sprightly incompetency are most dangerous. When France was in the extremity of revolutionary agony, she was governed by an assembly of provincial pettifoggers, and Robespierre, Marat, and Couthon ruled in the place of Mirabeau, Vergniaud, and Carnot. England was governed by the Rump Parliament, after she had beheaded her king. Cromwell extinguished one body, and Napoleon the other.
Fraud, falsehood, trickery, and deceit in national affairs are the
signs of decadence in States and precede convulsions or paralysis. To bully the weak and crouch to the strong, is the policy of nations governed by small mediocrity. The tricks of the canvass for office are re-enacted in Senates. The Executive becomes the dispenser of patronage, chiefly to the most unworthy; and men are bribed with offices instead of money, to the greater ruin of the Commonwealth. The Divine in human nature disappears, and interest, greed, and selfishness takes it place. That is a sad and true allegory which represents the companions of Ulysses changed by the enchantments of Circe into swine.
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“Ye cannot,” said the Great Teacher, “serve God and Mammon.” When the thirst for wealth becomes general, it will be sought for as well dishonestly as honestly; by frauds and overreachings, by the knaveries of trade, the heartlessness of greedy speculation, by gambling in stocks and commodities that soon demoralizes a whole community. Men will speculate upon the needs of their neighbors and the distresses of their country. Bubbles that, bursting, impoverish multitudes, will be blown up by cunning knavery, with stupid credulity as its assistants and instrument. Huge bankruptcies, that startle a country like the earth-quakes, and are more fatal, fraudulent assignments, engulfment of the savings of the poor, expansions and collapses of the currency, the crash of banks, the depreciation of Government securities, prey on the savings of self-denial, and trouble with their depredations the first nourishment of infancy and the last sands of life, and fill with inmates the churchyards and lunatic asylums. But the sharper and speculator thrives and fattens. If his country is fighting by a levy en masse for her very existence, he aids her by depreciating her paper, so that he may accumulate fabulous amounts with little outlay. If his neighbor is distressed, he buys his property for a song. If he administers upon an estate, it turns out insolvent, and the orphans are paupers. If his bank explodes, he is found to have taken care of himself in time. Society worships its paper-and-credit kings, as the old Hindus and Egyptians worshipped their worthless idols, and often the most obsequiously when in actual solid wealth they are the veriest paupers. No wonder men think there ought to be another world, in which the injustices of this may be atoned for, when they see the friends of ruined families begging the wealthy sharpers to give alms to prevent the orphaned victims from starving, until they may find ways of supporting themselves.
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States are chiefly avaricious of commerce and of territory. The latter leads to the violation of treaties, encroachments upon feeble neighbors, and rapacity toward their wards whose lands are coveted. Republics are, in this, as rapacious and unprincipled as Despots, never learning from history that inordinate expansion by rapine and fraud has its inevitable consequences in dismemberment or subjugation. When a Republic begins to plunder its neighbors, the words of doom are already written on its walls. There is a judgment already pronounced of God upon whatever is unrighteous in the conduct of national affairs. When civil war tears the vitals of a Republic, let it look back and see if it has not been guilty of injustices; and if it has, let it humble itself in the dust!
When a nation becomes possessed with a spirit of commercial greed, beyond those just and fair limits set by a due regard to a moderate and reasonable degree of general and individual prosperity, it is a nation possessed by the devil of commercial avarice, a passion as ignoble and demoralizing as avarice in the individual; and as this sordid passion is baser and more unscrupulous than ambition, so it is more hateful, and at last makes the infected nation to be regarded as the enemy of the human race. To grasp at the lion’s share of commerce, has always at last proven the ruin of States, because it invariably leads to injustices that make a State detestable; to a selfishness and crooked policy that forbid other nations to be the friends of a State that cares only for itself.
Commercial avarice in India was the parent of more atrocities and greater rapacity, and cost more human lives, than the nobler ambition for extended empire of Consular Rome. The nation that grasps at the commerce of the world cannot but become selfish, calculating, dead to the noblest impulses and sympathies which ought to actuate States. It will submit to insults that wound its honor, rather than endanger its commercial interests by war; while, to subserve those interests, it will wage unjust war, on false or frivolous pretexts, its free people cheerfully allying themselves with despots to crush a commercial rival that has dared to exile its kings and elect its own ruler.
Thus the cold calculations of a sordid self-interest, in nations commercially avaricious, always at last displace the sentiments and lofty impulses of Honor and Generosity by which they rose to greatness; which made Elizabeth and Cromwell alike the protectors of Protestants beyond the four seas of England, against crowned Tyranny and mitred Persecution; and, if they had lasted, would have forbidden alliances with Czars and Autocrats and Bourbons to re-enthrone the Tyrannies of Incapacity, and arm the Inquisition anew with its instruments of torture. The soul of the avaricious nation petrifies, like the soul of the individual who makes gold his god. The Despot will occasionally act upon noble and generous impulses, and help the weak against the strong, the right against the wrong. But commercial avarice is essentially egotistic, grasping, faithless, overreaching, crafty, cold, ungenerous, selfish, and calculating, controlled by considerations of self-interest alone. Heartless and merciless, it has no sentiments of pity, sympathy, or honor, to make it pause in its remorseless career; and it crushes down all that is of impediment in its way, as its keels of commerce crush under them the murmuring and unheeded waves.
A war for a great principle ennobles a nation. A war for commercial supremacy, upon some shallow pretext, is despicable, and more than aught else demonstrates to what immeasurable depths of baseness men and nations can descend. Commercial greed values the lives of men no more than it values the lives of ants. The slave-trade is as acceptable to a people enthralled by that greed, as the trade in ivory or spices, if the profits are as large. It will by-and-by endeavor to compound with God and quiet its own conscience, by compelling those to whom it sold the slaves it bought or stole, to set them free, and slaughtering them by hecatombs if they refuse to obey the edicts of its philanthropy.
Justice in no wise consists in meting out to another that exact measure of reward or punishment which we think and decree his merit, or what we call his crime, which is more often merely his error, deserves. The justice of the father is not incompatible with forgiveness by him of the errors and offences of his child. The Infinite Justice of God does not consist in meting out exact measures of punishment for human frailties and sins. We are too apt to erect our own little and narrow notions of what is right and just into the law of justice, and to insist that God shall adopt that as His law; to measure off something with our own little tape-line, and call it God’s love of justice. Continually we seek to ennoble our own ignoble love of revenge and retaliation, by misnaming it justice.
Nor does justice consist in strictly governing our conduct toward other men by the rigid rules of legal right. If there were a community anywhere, in which all stood upon the strictness of this rule, there should be written over its gates, as a warning to the unfortunates desiring admission to that inhospitable realm, the words which DANTE says are written over the great gate of Hell: “LET THOSE WHO ENTER HERE LEAVE HOPE BEHIND!” It is not just to pay the laborer in field or factory or workshop his current wages and no more, the lowest market-value of his labor, for so long only as we need that labor and he is able to work; for when sickness or old age overtakes him, that is to leave him and his family to starve; and God will curse with calamity the people in which the children of the laborer out of work eat the boiled grass of the field, and mothers strangle their children, that they may buy food for themselves with the charitable pittance given for burial expenses. The rules of what is ordinarily termed “Justice,” may be punctiliously observed among the fallen spirits that are the aristocracy of Hell.
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Justice, divorced from sympathy, is selfish indifference, not in the least more laudable than misanthropic isolation. There is sympathy even among the hair-like oscillatorias, a tribe of simple plants, armies of which may be discovered, with the aid of the microscope, in the tiniest bit of scum from a stagnant pool. For these will place themselves, as if it were by agreement, in separate companies, on the side of a vessel containing them, and seem marching upward in rows; and when a swarm grows weary of its situation, and has a mind to change its quarters, each army holds on its way without confusion or intermixture, proceeding with great regularity and order, as if under the directions of wise leaders. The ants and bees give each other mutual assistance, beyond what is required by that which human creatures are apt to regard as the strict law of justice.
Surely we need but reflect a little, to be convinced that the individual man is but a fraction of the unit of society, and that he is indissolubly connected with the rest of his race. Not only the actions, but the will and thoughts of other men make or mar his fortunes, control his destinies, are unto him life or death, dishonor or honor. The epidemics, physical and moral, contagious and infectious, public opinion, popular delusions, enthusiasms, and the other great electric phenomena and currents, moral and intellectual, prove the universal sympathy. The vote of a single and obscure man, the utterance of self-will, ignorance, conceit, or spite, deciding an election and placing Folly or Incapacity or Baseness in a Senate, involves the country in war, sweeps away our fortunes, slaughters our sons, renders the labors of a life unavailing, and pushes on, helpless, with all our intellect to resist, into the grave.
These considerations ought to teach us that justice to others and to ourselves is the same; that we cannot define our duties by mathematical lines ruled by the square, but must fill with them the great circle traced by the compasses; that the circle of humanity is the limit, and we are but the point in its centre, the drops in the great Atlantic, the atom or particle, bound by a mysterious law of attraction which we term sympathy to every other atom in the mass; that the physical and moral welfare of others cannot be indifferent to us; that we have a direct and immediate interest in the public morality and popular intelligence, in the well-being and physical comfort of the people at large. The ignorance of the people, their pauperism and destitution, and consequent degradation, their brutalization and demoralization, are all diseases; and we cannot rise high enough above the people, nor shut ourselves up from them enough, to escape the miasmatic contagion and the great magnetic currents.
Justice is peculiarly indispensable to nations. The unjust State is doomed of God to calamity and ruin. This is the teaching of the Eternal Wisdom and of history. “Righteousness exalteth a nation; but wrong is a reproach to nations.” “The Throne is established by Righteousness. Let the lips of the Ruler pronounce the sentence that is Divine; and his mouth do no wrong in judgment!” The nation that adds province to province by fraud and violence, that encroaches on the weak and plunders its wards, and violates its treaties and the obligation of its contracts, and for the law of honor and fair-dealing substitutes the exigencies of greed and the base precepts of policy and craft and the ignoble tenets of expediency, is predestined to destruction; for here, as with the individual, the consequences of wrong are inevitable and eternal.
A sentence is written against all that is unjust, written by God
in the nature of man and in the nature of the Universe, because it is in the nature of the Infinite God. No wrong is really successful. The gain of injustice is a loss; its pleasure, suffering. Iniquity often seems to prosper, but its success is its defeat and shame. If its consequences pass by the doer, they fall upon and crush his children. It is a philosophical, physical, and moral truth, in the form of a threat, that God visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, to the third and fourth generation of those who violate His laws. After a long while, the day of reckoning always comes, to nation as to individual; and always the knave deceives himself, and proves a failure.
Hypocrisy is the homage that vice and wrong pay to virtue and justice. It is .Satan attempting to clothe himself in the angelic vesture of light. It is equally detestable in morals, politics, and religion; in the man and in the nation. To do injustice under the pretence of equity and fairness; to reprove vice in public and commit it in private; to pretend to charitable opinion and censoriously condemn; to profess the principles of Masonic beneficence, and close the ear to the wail of distress and the cry of suffering; to eulogize the intelligence of the people, and plot to deceive and be-tray them by means of their ignorance and simplicity; to prate of purity, and peculate; of honor, and basely abandon a sinking cause; of disinterestedness, and sell one’s vote for place and power, are hypocrisies as common as they are infamous and disgraceful. To steal the livery of the Court of God to serve the Devil withal; to pretend to believe in a God of mercy and a Redeemer of love, and persecute those of a different faith; to devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers; to preach continence, and wallow in lust; to inculcate humility, and in pride surpass Lucifer; to pay tithe, and omit the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith; to strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel; to make clean the outside of the cup and platter, keeping them full within of extortion and excess; to appear outwardly righteous unto men, but within be full of hypocrisy and iniquity, is indeed to be like unto whited sepulchres, which appear beautiful outward, but are within full of bones of the dead and of all uncleanness.
The Republic cloaks its ambition with the pretence of a desire and duty to “extend the area of freedom,” and claims it as its “manifest destiny” to annex other Republics or the States or Provinces of others to itself, by open violence, or under obsolete, empty, and fraudulent titles. The Empire founded by a successful soldier, claims its ancient or natural boundaries, and makes necessity and its safety the plea for open robbery. The great Merchant Nation, gaining foothold in the Orient, finds a continual necessity for extending its dominion by arms, and subjugates India. The great Royalties and Despotisms, without a plea, partition among themselves a Kingdom, dismember Poland, and prepare to wrangle over the dominions of the Crescent. To maintain the balance of power is a plea for the obliteration of States. Carthage, Genoa, and Venice, commercial Cities only, must acquire territory by force or fraud, and become States. Alexander marches to the Indus; Tamerlane seeks universal empire; the Saracens conquer Spain and threaten Vienna.
The thirst for power is never satisfied. It is insatiable. Neither men nor nations ever have power enough. When Rome was the mistress of the world, the Emperors caused themselves to be worshipped as gods. The Church of Rome claimed despotism over the soul, and over the whole life from the cradle to the grave. It gave and sold absolutions for past and future sins. It claimed to be infallible in matters of faith. It decimated Europe to purge it of heretics. It decimated America to convert the Mexicans and Peruvians. It gave and took away thrones; and by excommunication and interdict closed the gates of Paradise against Nations, Spain, haughty with its dominion over the Indies, endeavored to crush out Protestantism in the Netherlands, while Philip the Second married the Queen of England, and the pair sought to win that kingdom back to its allegiance to the Papal throne. After-ward Spain attempted to conquer it with her “invincible” Armada. Napoleon set his relatives and captains on thrones, and parcelled among them half of Europe. The Czar rules over an empire more gigantic than Rome. The history of all is or will be the same,–acquisition, dismemberment, ruin. There is a judgment of God against all that is unjust.
To seek to subjugate the will of others and take the soul captive, because it is the exercise of the highest power, seems to be the highest object of human ambition. It is at the bottom of all proselyting and propagandism, from that of Mesmer to that of the Church of Rome and the French Republic. That was the apostolate alike of Joshua and of Mahomet. Masonry alone preaches Toleration, the right of man to abide by his own faith, the right of all States to govern themselves. It rebukes alike the monarch who seeks to extend his dominions by conquest, the Church that claims the right to repress heresy by fire and steel, and the confederation of States that insist on maintaining a union by force and restoring brotherhood by slaughter and subjugation.
It is natural, when we are wronged, to desire revenge; and to persuade ourselves that we desire it less for our own satisfaction than to prevent a repetition of the wrong, to which the doer would be encouraged by immunity coupled with the profit of the wrong. To submit to be cheated is to encourage the cheater to continue; and we are quite apt to regard ourselves as God’s chosen instruments to inflict His vengeance, and for Him and in His stead to discourage wrong by making it fruitless and its punishment sure. Revenge has been said to be “a kind of wild justice;” but it is always taken in anger, and therefore is unworthy of a great soul, which ought not to suffer its equanimity to be disturbed by ingratitude or villainy. The injuries done us by the base are as much unworthy of our angry notice as those done us by the insects and the beasts; and when we crush the adder, or slay the wolf or hyena, we should do it without being moved to anger, and with no more feeling of revenge than we have in rooting up a noxious weed.
And if it be not in human nature not to take revenge by way of punishment, let the Mason truly consider that in doing so he is God’s agent, and so let his revenge be measured by justice and tempered by mercy. The law of God is, that the consequences of wrong and cruelty and crime shall be their punishment; and the injured and the wronged and the indignant are as much His instruments to enforce that law, as the diseases and public detestation, and the verdict of history and the execration of posterity are. No one will say that the Inquisitor who has racked and burned the innocent; the Spaniard who hewed Indian infants, living, into pieces with his sword, and fed the mangled limbs to his blood-hounds; the military tyrant who has shot men without trial, the knave who has robbed or betrayed his State, the fraudulent banker or bankrupt who has beggared orphans, the public officer who has violated his oath, the judge who has sold injustice, the legislator who has enabled Incapacity to work the ruin of the State, ought not to be punished. Let them be so; and let the injured or the sympathizing be the instruments of God’s just vengeance; but always out of a higher feeling than mere personal revenge. Remember that every moral characteristic of man finds its prototype among creatures of lower intelligence; that the cruel foulness of the hyena, the savage rapacity of the wolf, the merciless rage of the tiger, the crafty treachery of the panther, are found among mankind, and ought to excite no other emotion, when found in the man, than when found in the beast. Why should the true man be angry with the geese that hiss, the peacocks that strut, the asses that bray, and the apes that imitate and chatter, although they wear the human form? Always, also, it remains true, that it is more noble to forgive than to take revenge; and that, in general, we ought too much to despise those who wrong us, to feel the emotion of anger, or to desire revenge.
At the sphere of the Sun, you are in the region of LIGHT. * * * * The Hebrew word for gold, ZAHAB, also means Light, of which the Sun is to the Earth the great source. So, in the great Oriental allegory of the Hebrews, the River PISON compasses the land of Gold or Light; and the River GIHON the land of Ethiopia or Darkness.
What light is, we no more know than the ancients did. According to the modern hypothesis, it is not composed of luminous particles shot out from the sun with immense velocity; but that body only impresses, on the ether which fills all space, a powerful vibratory movement that extends, in the form of luminous waves, beyond the most distant planets, supplying them with light and heat. To the ancients, it was an outflowing from the Deity. To us, as to them, it is the apt symbol of truth and knowledge. To us, also, the upward journey of the soul through the Spheres is symbolical; but we are as little informed as they whence the soul comes, where it has its origin, and whither it goes after death. They endeavored to have some belief and faith, some creed, upon those points. At the present day, men are satisfied to think nothing in regard to all that, and only to believe that the soul is a something separate from the body and out-living it, but whether existing before it, neither to inquire nor care. No one asks whether it emanates from the Deity, or is created out of nothing, or is generated like the body, and the issue of the souls of the father and the mother. Let us not smile, therefore, at the ideas of the ancients, until we have a better belief; but accept their symbols as meaning that the soul is of a Divine nature, originating in a sphere nearer the Deity, and returning to that when freed from the enthrallment of the body; and that it can only return there when purified of all the sordidness and sin which have, as it were, become part of its substance, by its connection with the body.
It is not strange that, thousands of years ago, men worshipped the Sun, and that to-day that worship continues among the Parsees. Originally they looked beyond the orb to the invisible God, of whom the Sun’s light, seemingly identical with generation and life, was the manifestation and outflowing. Long before the Chaldæan shepherds watched it on their plains, it came up regularly, as it now does, in the morning, like a god, and again sank, like a king retiring, in the west, to return again in due time in the same array of majesty. We worship Immutability. It was that steadfast, immutable character of the Sun that the men of Baalbec worshipped. His light-giving and life-giving powers were secondary attributes. The one grand idea that compelled worship was the characteristic of God which they saw reflected in his light, and fancied they saw in its originality the changelessness of Deity. He had seen thrones crumble, earthquakes shake the world and hurl down mountains. Beyond Olympus, beyond the Pillars of Hercules, he had gone daily to his abode, and had come daily again in the morning to behold the temples they built to his worship. They personified him as BRAHMA, AMUN, OSIRIS, BEL, ADONIS, MALKARTH, MITHRAS, and APOLLO; and the nations that did so grew old and died. Moss grew on the capitals of the great columns of his temples, and he shone on the moss. Grain by grain the dust of his temples crumbled and fell, and was borne off on. the wind, and still he shone on crumbling column and architrave. The roof fell crashing on the pavement, and he shone in on the Holy of Holies with unchanging rays. It was not strange that men worshipped the Sun.
There is a water-plant, on whose broad leaves the drops of water roll about without uniting, like drops of mercury. So arguments on points of faith, in politics or religion, roll over the surface of the mind. An argument that convinces one mind has no effect on another. Few intellects, or souls that are the negations of intellect, have any logical power or capacity. There is a singular obliquity in the human mind that makes the false logic more effective than the true with nine-tenths of those who are regarded as men of intellect. Even among the judges, not one in ten can argue logically. Each mind sees the truth, distorted through its own medium. Truth, to most men, is like matter in the spheroidal state. Like a drop of cold water on the surface of a red-hot metal plate, it dances, trembles, and spins, and never comes into contact with it; and the mind may be plunged into truth, as the hand moistened with sulphurous acid may into melted metal, and be not even warmed by the immersion.
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The word Khairu_m or Khu_ru_m is a compound one. Gesenius renders Khu_ru_m by the word noble or free-born: Khu_r meaning white, noble. It also means the opening of a window, the socket of the eye. Khri also means white, or an opening; and Khris, the orb of the Sun, in Job viii. 13 and x. 7. Krishna is the Hindu Sun-God. Khur, the Parsi word, is the literal name of the Sun.
From Kur or Khur, the Sun, comes Khora, a name of Lower Egypt. The Sun, Bryant says in his Mythology, was called Kur; and Plutarch says that the Persians called the Sun Ku_ros. Kurios, Lord, in Greek, like Adonaï, Lord, in Phœnician and Hebrew, was applied to the Sun. Many places were sacred to the Sun, and called Kura, Kuria, Kuropolis, Kurene, Kureschata, Kuresta, and Corusia in Scythia.
The Egyptian Deity called by the Greeks “Horus,” was Her-Ra, or Har-oeris, Hor or Har, the Sun. Hari is a Hindu name of the Sun. Ari-al, Ar-es, Ar, Aryaman, Areimonios, the AR meaning Fire or Flame, are of the same kindred. Hermes or Har-mes, (Aram, Remus, Haram, Harameias), was Kadmos, the Divine Light or Wisdom. Mar-kuri, says Movers, is Mar, the Sun.
In the Hebrew, AOOR, is Light, Fire, or the Sun. Cyrus, said Ctesias, was so named from Kuros, the Sun. Kuris, Hesychius says, was Adonis. Apollo, the Sun-god, was called Kurraios, from Kurra, a city in Phocis. The people of Kurene, originally Ethiopians or Cuthites, worshipped the Sun under the title of Achoor and Acho_r.
We know, through a precise testimony in the ancient annals of Tsu_r, that the principal festivity of Mal-karth, the incarnation of the Sun at the Winter Solstice, held at Tsu_r, was called his rebirth or his awakening, and that it was celebrated by means of a pyre, on which the god was supposed to regain, through the aid of fire, a new life. This festival was celebrated in the month Peritius (Barith), the second day of which corresponded to the 25th of December. KHUR-UM, King of Tyre, Movers says, first performed this ceremony. These facts we learn from Josephus, Servius on the Æneid, and the Dionysiacs of Nonnus; and through a coincidence that cannot be fortuitous, the same day was at Rome the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the festal day of the invincible Sun. Under this title, HERCULES, HAR-acles, was worshipped at Tsu_r. Thus, while the temple was being erected, the death and resurrection of a Sun-God was annually represented at Tsu_r, by Solomon’s ally, at the winter solstice, by the pyre of MAL-KARTH, the Tsu_rian Haracles.
AROERIS or HAR-oeris, the elder HORUS, is from the same old root that in the Hebrew has the form Au_r, or, with the definite article prefixed, Hau_r, Light, or the Light, splendor, flame, the Sun and. his rays. The hieroglyphic of the younger HORUS was the point in a circle; of the Elder, a pair of eyes; and the festival of the thirtieth day of the month Epiphi, when the sun and moon were supposed to be in the same right line with the earth, was called “The birth-day of the eyes of Horus.”
In a papyrus published by Champollion, this god is styled “Haroeri, Lord of the Solar Spirits, the beneficent eye of the Sun.” Plutarch calls him “Har-pocrates;” but there is no trace of the latter part of the name in the hieroglyphic legends. He is the son of OSIRIS and Isis; and is represented sitting on a throne supported by lions; the same word, in Egyptian, meaning Lion and Sun. So Solomon made a great throne of ivory, plated with gold, with six steps, at each arm of which was a lion, and one on each side to each step, making seven on each side.
Again, the Hebrew word ו ?X?Y, Khi, means “living;” and ו ?R?Aמ, râm “was, or shall be, raised or lifted up.” The latter is the same as ו ?R?Wמ, ו ?A?R?Wמ, ו ?X?Rמ ro_o_m, aro_o_m, haru_m, whence Aram, for Syria, or Aramæa, High-land. Khairu_m, therefore, would mean “was raised up to life, or living.”
So, in Arabic, hrm, an unused root, meant, “was high,” “made great,” “exalted;” and Hîrm means an ox, the symbol of the Sun in Taurus, at the Vernal Equinox.
KHURUM, therefore, improperly called Hiram, is KHUR-OM, the same as Her-ra, Her-mes, and Her-acles, the “Heracles Tyrius Invictus,” the personification of Light and the Son, the Mediator, Redeemer, and Saviour. From the Egyptian word Ra came the Coptic Ou_ro, and the Hebrew Au_r, Light. Har-oeri, is Hor or Har, the chief or master. Hor is also heat; and hora, season or
hour; and hence in several African dialects, as names of the Sun, Airo, Ayero, eer, uiro, ghurrah, and the like. The royal name rendered Pharaoh, was PHRA, that is, Pai-ra, the Sun.
The legend of the contest between Hor-ra and Set, or Set-nu-bi, the same as Bar or Bal, is older than that of the strife between Osiris and Typhon; as old, at least, as the nineteenth dynasty. It is called in the Book of the Dead, “The day of the battle between Horus and Set.” The later myth connects itself with Phœnicia and Syria. The body of OSIRIS went ashore at Gebal or Byblos, sixty miles above Tsu_r. You will not fail to notice that in the name of each murderer of Khu_ru_m, that of the Evil God Bal is found.
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Har-oeri was the god of TIME, as well as of Life. The Egyptian legend was that the King of Byblos cut down the tamarisk-tree containing the body of OSIRIS, and made of it a column for his palace. Isis, employed in the palace, obtained possession of the column, took the body out of it, and carried it away. Apuleius describes her as “a beautiful female, over whose divine neck her long thick hair hung in graceful ringlets;” and in the procession female attendants, with ivory combs, seemed to dress and ornament the royal hair of the goddess. The palm-tree, and the lamp in the shape of a boat, appeared in the procession. If the symbol we are speaking of is not a mere modern invention, it is to these things it alludes.
The identity of the legends is also confirmed by this hieroglyphic picture, copied from an ancient Egyptian monument, which may also enlighten you as to the Lion’s grip and the Master’s gavel. ו?A?B, in the ancient Phœnician character,, and in the Samaritan,, A B, (the two letters representing the numbers 1, 2, or Unity and Duality, means Father, and is a primitive noun, common to all the Semitic languages.
It also means an Ancestor, Originator, Inventor, Head, Chief or Ruler, Manager, Overseer, Master, Priest, Prophet.
ו ?A?B?Y is simply Father, when it is in construction, that is, when it precedes another word, and in English the preposition “of” is interposed, as ו ?A?B?Y-ו ?A?L, Abi-Al, the Father of Al.
Also, the final Yo_d means “my”; so that ו ?A?B?Y by itself means “My father.” ו ?D?W?Y?D ?A?B?Y, David my father, 2 Chron. ii. 3.
ו ?W (Vav) final is the possessive pronoun “his”; and ו ?A?B?Y?W, Abiu (which we read “Abif”) means “of my father’s.” Its full meaning, as connected with the name of Khu_ru_m, no doubt is, “formerly one of my father’s servants,” or “slaves.”
The name of the Phœnician artificer is, in Samuel and Kings, ו ?X?Y?Rמ and ו ?X?Y?R?Wמ–[2 Sam. v. 11; 1 Kings v. 15; 1 Kings vii. 40]. In Chronicles it is ו ?H?W?Rמ, with the addition of ו ?A?B?Y. [2 Chron. ii. 12]; and of ו ?A?B?Y?W [2 Chron. iv. 16].
It is merely absurd ‘to add the word “Abif,” or “Abiff,” as part of the name of the artificer. And it is almost as absurd to add the word “Abi,” which was a title and not part of the name. Joseph says [Gen. xlv. 8], “God has constituted me ’Ab l’Paraah, as Father to Paraah, i.e., Vizier or Prime Minister.” So Haman was called the Second Father of Artaxerxes; and when King Khu_ru_m used the phrase “Khu_ru_m Abi,” he meant that the artificer he sent Schlomoh was the principal or chief workman in his line at Tsu_r.
A medal copied by Montfaucon exhibits a female nursing a child, with ears of wheat in her hand, and the legend (Iao). She is seated on clouds, a star at her head, and three ears of wheat rising from an altar before her.
HORUS was the mediator, who was buried three days, was regenerated, and triumphed over the evil principle.
The word HERI, in Sanscrit, means Shepherd, as well as Saviour. CRISHNA is called Heri, as JESUS called Himself the Good Shepherd.
ו ?X?W?R, Khu_r, means an aperture of a window, a cave, or the eye. Also it means white. In Syriac,
ו ?X?R also means an opening, and noble, free-born, high-born.
[paragraph continues] ו ?X?Rמ, KHURM means consecrated, devoted; in Æthiopic, . It is the name of a city, [Josh. xix. 38]; and of a man, [Ezr. ii. 32, x. 31; Neh. iii. 11].
ו ?X?Y?R?H, Khirah, means nobility, a noble race.
Buddha is declared to comprehend in his own person the essence of the Hindu Trimurti; and hence the tri-literal mono-syllable Om or Aum is applied to him as being essentially the same as Brahma-Vishnu-Siva. He is the same as Hermes, Thoth, Taut, and Teutates. One of his names is Heri-maya or Hermaya, which are evidently the same name as Hermes and Khirm or Khu_rm. Heri, in Sanscrit, means Lord.
A learned Brother places over the two symbolic pillars, from right to left, the two words and ו ?Y?H?W and BAL: followed by the hieroglyphic equivalent, of the Sun-God, Amun-ra. Is it an accidental coincidence, that in the name of each murderer are the two names of the Good and Evil Deities of the Hebrews; for Yu-bel is but Yehu-Bal or Yeho-Bal? and that the three final syllables of the names, a, o, um, make A∴U∴M∴ the sacred word of the Hindoos, meaning the Triune-God, Life-giving, Life-preserving, Life-destroying: represented by the mystic character ?
The genuine Acacia, also, is the thorny tamarisk, the same tree which grew up around the body of Osiris. It was a sacred tree among the Arabs, who made of it the idol Al-Uzza, which Mohammed destroyed. It is abundant as a bush in the Desert of Thur: and of it the “crown of thorns” was composed, which was set on the forehead of Jesus of Nazareth. It is a fit type of immortality on account of its tenacity of life; for it has been known, when planted as a door-post, to take root again and shoot out budding boughs over the threshold.
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Every commonwealth must have its periods of trial and transition, especially if it engages in war. It is certain at some time to be wholly governed by agitators appealing to all the baser elements of the popular nature; by moneyed corporations; by those enriched by the depreciation of government securities or paper; by small attorneys, schemers, money-jobbers, speculators and adventurers–an ignoble oligarchy, enriched by the distresses of the State, and fattened on the miseries of the people. Then all the deceitful visions of equality and the rights of man end; and the wronged and plundered State can regain a real liberty only by passing through “great varieties of untried being,” purified in its transmigration by fire and blood.
In a Republic, it soon comes to pass that parties gather round the negative and positive poles of some opinion or notion, and that the intolerant spirit of a triumphant majority will allow no deviation from the standard of orthodoxy which it has set up for itself. Freedom of opinion will be professed and pretended to, but every one will exercise it at the peril of being banished fro n political communion with those who hold the reins and prescribe the policy to be pursued. Slavishness to party and obsequiousness to the popular whims go hand in hand. Political independence only occurs in a fossil state; and men’s opinions grow out of the acts they have been constrained to do or sanction. Flattery, either of individual or people, corrupts both the receiver and the giver; and adulation is not of more service to the people than to kings. A Cæsar, securely seated in power, cares less for it than a free democracy; nor will his appetite for it grow to exorbitance, as that of a people will, until it becomes insatiate. The effect of liberty to individuals is, that they may do what they please; to a people, it is to a great extent the same. If accessible to flattery, as this is always interested, and resorted to on low and base motives, and for evil purposes, either individual or people is sure, in doing what it pleases, to do what in honor and conscience should have been left undone. One ought not even to risk congratulations, which may soon be turned into complaints; and as both individuals and peoples are prone to make a bad use of power, to flatter them, which is a sure way to mislead them, well deserves to be called a crime.
The first principle in a Republic ought to be, “that no man or set of men is entitled to exclusive or separate emoluments or privileges from the community, but in consideration of public services; which not being descendible, neither ought the offices of magistrate, legislature, nor judge, to be hereditary.” It is a volume of Truth and Wisdom, a lesson for the study of nations, embodied in a single sentence, and expressed in language which every man can understand. If a deluge of despotism were to overthrow the world, and destroy all institutions under which freedom is protected, so that they should no longer be remembered among men, this sentence, preserved, would be sufficient to rekindle the fires of liberty and revive the race of free men.
But, to preserve liberty, another must be added: “that a free State does not confer office as a reward, especially for questionable services, unless she seeks her own ruin; but all officers are employed by her, in consideration solely of their will and ability to render service in the future; and therefore that the best and most competent are always to be preferred.”
For, if there is to be any other rule, that of hereditary succession is perhaps as good as any. By no other rule is it possible to preserve the liberties of the State. By no other to intrust the power of making the laws to those only who have that keen instinctive sense of injustice and wrong which enables them to detect baseness and corruption in their most secret hiding-places, and that moral courage and generous manliness and gallant independence that make them fearless in dragging out the perpetrators to the light of day, and calling down upon them the scorn and indignation of the world. The flatterers of the people are never such men. On the contrary, a time always comes to a Republic, when it is not content, like Tiberius, with a single Sejanus, but must have a host; and when those most prominent in the lead of affairs are men without reputation, statesmanship, ability, or information, the mere hacks of party, owing their places to trickery and want of qualification, with none of the qualities of head or heart that make great and wise men, and, at the same time, filled with all the narrow conceptions and bitter intolerance of political bigotry. These die; and the world is none the wiser for what they have said and done. Their names sink in the bottomless pit of oblivion; but their acts of folly or knavery curse the body politic and at last prove its ruin.
Politicians, in a free State, are generally hollow, heartless, and selfish. Their own aggrandisement is the end of their patriotism; and they always look with secret satisfaction on the disappointment or fall of one whose loftier genius and superior talents over-shadow their own self-importance, or whose integrity and incorruptible honor are in the way of their selfish ends. The influence of the small aspirants is always against the great man. His accession to power may be almost for a lifetime. One of themselves will be more easily displaced, and each hopes to succeed him; and so it at length comes to pass that men impudently aspire to and actually win the highest stations, who are unfit for the lowest clerkships; and incapacity and mediocrity become the surest passports to office.
The consequence is, that those who feel themselves competent and qualified to serve the people, refuse with disgust to enter into the struggle for office, where the wicked and jesuitical doctrine that all is fair in politics is an excuse for every species of low villainy; and those who seek even the highest places of the State do not rely upon the power of a magnanimous spirit, on the sympathizing impulses of a great soul, to stir and move the people to generous, noble, and heroic resolves, and to wise and manly action; but, like spaniels erect on their hind legs, with fore-paws obsequiously suppliant, fawn, flatter, and actually beg for votes. Rather than descend to this, they stand contemptuously aloof, disdainfully refusing to court the people, and acting on the maxim, that “mankind has no title to demand that we shall serve them in spite of themselves.”
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It is lamentable to see a country split into factions, each following this or that great or brazen-fronted leader with a blind, unreasoning, unquestioning hero-worship; it is contemptible to see it divided into parties, whose sole end is the spoils of victory, and their chiefs the low, the base, the venal and the small. Such a country is in the last stages of decay, and near its end, no matter how prosperous it may seem to be. It wrangles over the volcano and the earthquake. But it is certain that no government can be conducted by the men of the people, and for the people, without a rigid adherence to those principles which our reason commends as fixed and sound. These must be the tests of parties, men, and measures. Once determined, they must be inexorable in their application, and all must either come up to the standard or declare against it. Men may betray: principles never can. Oppression is one invariable consequence of misplaced confidence in treacherous man, it is never the result of the working or application of a sound, just, well-tried principle. Compromises which bring fundamental principles into doubt, in order to unite in one party men of antagonistic creeds, are frauds, and end in ruin, the just and natural consequence of fraud. Whenever you have settled upon your theory and creed, sanction no departure from it in practice, on any ground of expediency. It is the Master’s word. Yield it up neither to flattery nor force! Let no defeat or persecution rob you of it! Believe that he who once blundered in statesmanship will blunder again; that such blunders are as fatal as crimes; and that political near-sightedness does not improve by age. There are always more impostors than seers among public men, more false prophets than true ones, more prophets of Baal than of Jehovah; and Jerusalem is always in danger from the Assyrians.
Sallust said that after a State has been corrupted by luxury and idleness, it may by its mere greatness bear up under the burden of its vices. But even while he wrote, Rome, of which he spoke, had played out her masquerade of freedom. Other causes than luxury and sloth destroy Republics. If small, their larger neighbors extinguish them by absorption. If of great extent, the cohesive force is too feeble to hold them together, and they fall to pieces by their own weight. The paltry ambition of small men disintegrates them. The want of wisdom in their councils creates exasperating issues. Usurpation of power plays its part, incapacity seconds corruption, the storm rises, and the fragments of the incoherent raft strew the sandy shores, reading to mankind another lesson for it to disregard.
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The Forty-seventh Proposition is older than Pythagoras. It is this: “In every right-angled triangle, the sum of the squares of the base and perpendicular is equal to the square of the hypothenuse.” The square of a number is the product of that number, multi-plied by itself. Thus, 4 is the square of 2, and 9 of 3.
The first ten numbers are:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10;
their squares are
1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64, 81, 100;
3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19
are the differences between each square and that which precedes it; giving us the sacred numbers, 3, 5, 7, and 9.
Of these numbers, the square of 3 and 4, added together, gives the square of 5; and those of 6 and 8, the square of 10; and if a right-angled triangle be formed, the base measuring 3 or 6 parts, and the perpendicular 4 or 8 parts, the hypothenuse will be 5 or 10 parts; and if a square is erected on each side, these squares being subdivided into squares each side of which is one part in length, there will be as many of these in the square erected on the hypothenuse as in the other two squares together.
Now the Egyptians arranged their deities in Triads–the FATHER or the Spirit or Active Principle or Generative Power; the MOTHER, or Matter, or the Passive Principle, or the Conceptive Power; and the SON, Issue or Product, the Universe, proceeding from the two principles. These were OSIRIS, ISIS, and HORUS. In the same way, PLATO gives us Thought the Father; Primitive Matter the Mother; and Kosmos the World, the Son, the Universe animated by a soul. Triads of the same kind are found in the Kabalah.
PLUTARCH says, in his book De Iside et Osiride, “But the better and diviner nature consists of three, that which exists within the Intellect only, and Matter, and that which proceeds from these, which the Greeks call Kosmos; of which three, Plato is wont to call the Intelligible, the ‘Idea, Exemplar, and Father’; Matter, ‘the Mother, the Nurse, and the place and receptacle of generation’; and the issue of these two, ‘the Offspring and Genesis,'” the Kosmos, “a word signifying equally Beauty and Order, or the Universe itself.” You will not fail to notice that Beauty is symbolized by the Junior Warden in the South. Plutarch continues to say that the Egyptians compared the universal nature to what they called the most beautiful and perfect triangle, as Plato does, in that nuptial diagram, as it is termed, which he has introduced into his Commonwealth. Then he adds that this triangle is right-angled, and its sides respectively as 3, 4, and 5; and he says, “We must suppose that the perpendicular is designed by them to represent the masculine nature, the base the feminine, and that the hypothenuse is to be looked upon as the offspring of both; and accordingly the first of them will aptly enough represent OSIRIS, or the prime cause; the second, ISIS, or the receptive capacity; the last, HORUS, or the common effect of the other two. For 3 is the first number which is composed of even and odd; and 4 is a square whose side is equal to the even number 2; but 5, being generated, as it were, out of the preceding numbers, 2 and 3, may be said to have an equal relation to both of them, as to its common parents.”
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The clasped hands is another symbol which was used by PYTHAGORAS. It represented the number 10, the sacred number in which all the preceding numbers were contained; the number expressed by the mysterious TETRACTYS, a figure borrowed by him and the Hebrew priests alike from the Egyptian sacred science, and which ought to be replaced among the symbols of the Master’s Degree, where it of right belongs. The Hebrews formed it thus, with the letters of the Divine name:
The Tetractys thus leads you, not only to the study of the Pythagorean philosophy as to numbers, but also to the Kabalah, and will aid you in discovering the True Word, and understanding what was meant by “The Music of the Spheres.” Modern science strikingly confirms the ideas of Pythagoras in regard to the properties of numbers, and that they govern in the Universe. Long before his time, nature had extracted her cube-roots and her squares.
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All the FORCES at man’s disposal or under man’s control, or subject to man’s influence, are his working tools. The friendship and sympathy that knit heart to heart are a force like the attraction of cohesion, by which the sandy particles became the solid rock. If this law of attraction or cohesion were taken away, the material worlds and suns would dissolve in an instant into thin invisible vapor. If the ties of friendship, affection, and love were annulled, mankind would become a raging multitude of wild and savage beasts of prey. The sand hardens into rock under the immense superincumbent pressure of the ocean, aided sometimes by the irresistible energy of fire; and when the pressure of calamity and danger is upon an order or a country, the members or the citizens ought to be the more closely united by the cohesion of sympathy and inter-dependence.
Morality is a force. It is the magnetic attraction of the heart toward Truth and Virtue. The needle, imbued with this mystic property, and pointing unerringly to the north, carries the mariner safely over the trackless ocean, through storm and darkness, until his glad eyes behold the beneficent beacons that welcome him to safe and hospitable harbor. Then the hearts of those who love him are gladdened, and his home made happy; and this gladness and happiness are due to the silent, unostentatious, unerring monitor that was the sailor’s guide over the weltering waters. But if drifted too far northward, he finds the needle no longer true, but pointing elsewhere than to the north, what a feeling of helplessness falls upon the dismayed mariner, what utter loss of energy and courage! It is as if the great axioms of morality were to fail and be no longer true, leaving the human soul to drift helplessly, eyeless like Prometheus, at the mercy of the uncertain, faithless currents of the deep.
Honor and Duty are the pole-stars of a Mason, the Dioscuri, by never losing sight of which he may avoid disastrous shipwreck. These Palinurus watched, until, overcome by sleep, and the vessel no longer guided truly, he fell into and was swallowed up by the insatiable sea. So the Mason who loses sight of these, and is no longer governed by their beneficent and potential force, is lost, and sinking out of sight, will disappear unhonored and unwept.
The force of electricity, analogous to that of sympathy, and by means of which great thoughts or base suggestions, the utterances of noble or ignoble natures, flash instantaneously over the nerves of nations; the force of growth, fit type of immortality, lying dormant three thousand years in the wheat-grains buried with their mummies by the old Egyptians; the forces of expansion and contraction, developed in the earthquake and the tornado, and giving birth to the wonderful achievements of steam, have their parallelisms in the moral world, in individuals, and nations. Growth is a necessity for nations as for men. Its cessation is the beginning of decay. In the nation as well as the plant it is mysterious, and it is irresistible. The earthquakes that rend nations asunder, overturn thrones, and engulf monarchies and republics, have been long prepared for, like the volcanic eruption. Revolutions have long roots in the past. The force exerted is in direct proportion to the previous restraint and compression. The true statesman ought to see in progress the causes that are in due time to produce them; and he who does not is but a blind leader of the blind.
The great changes in nations, like the geological changes of the earth, are slowly and continuously wrought. The waters, falling from Heaven as rain and dews, slowly disintegrate the granite mountains; abrade the plains, leaving hills and ridges of denudation as their monuments; scoop out the valleys, fill up the seas, narrow the rivers, and after the lapse of thousands on thousands of silent centuries, prepare the great alluvia for the growth of that plant, the snowy envelope of whose seeds is to employ the looms of the world, and the abundance or penury of whose crops shall determine whether the weavers and spinners of other realms shall have work to do or starve.
So Public Opinion is an immense force; and its currents are as inconstant and incomprehensible as those of the atmosphere. Nevertheless, in free governments, it is omnipotent; and the business of the statesman is to find the means to shape, control, and direct it. According as that is done, it is beneficial and conservative, or destructive and ruinous. The Public Opinion of the civilized world is International Law; and it is so great a force, though with no certain and fixed boundaries, that it can even constrain the victorious despot to be generous, and aid an oppressed people in its struggle for independence.
Habit is a great force; it is second nature, even in trees. It is as strong in nations as in men. So also are Prejudices, which are given to men and nations as the passions are,–as forces, valuable, if properly and skillfully availed of; destructive, if unskillfully handled. Above all, the Love of Country, State Pride, the Love of Home, are forces of immense power. Encourage them all. Insist upon them in your public men. Permanency of home is necessary to patriotism. A migratory race will have little love of country. State pride is a mere theory and chimera, where men remove from State to State with indifference, like the Arabs, who camp here to-day and there to-morrow.
If you have Eloquence, it is a mighty force. See that you use it for good purposes–to teach, exhort, ennoble the people, and not to mislead and corrupt them. Corrupt and venal orators are the assassins of the public liberties and of public morals.
The Will is a force; its limits as yet unknown. It is in the power of the will that we chiefly see the spiritual and divine in man. There is a seeming identity between his will that moves other men, and the Creative Will whose action seems so incomprehensible. It is the men of will and action, not the men of pure intellect, that govern the world.
Finally, the three greatest moral forces are FAITH, which is the only true WISDOM, and the very foundation of all government; HOPE, which is STRENGTH, and insures success; and CHARITY, which is BEAUTY, and alone makes animated, united effort possible. These forces are within the reach of all men; and an association of men, actuated by them, ought to exercise an immense power in the world. If Masonry does not, it is because she has ceased to possess them.
Wisdom in the man or statesman, in king or priest, largely consists in the due appreciation of these forces; and upon the general non-appreciation of some of them the fate of nations often depends. What hecatombs of lives often hang upon the not weighing or not sufficiently weighing the force of an idea, such as, for example, the reverence for a flag, or the blind attachment to a form or constitution of government!
What errors in political economy and statesmanship are committed in consequence of the over-estimation or under-estimation of particular values, or the non-estimation of some among them! Everything, it is asserted, is the product of human labor; but the gold or the diamond which one accidentally finds without labor is not so. What is the value of the labor bestowed by the husbandman upon his crops, compared with the value of the sunshine and rain, without with his labor avails nothing? Commerce carried on by the labor of man, adds to the value of the products of the field, the mine, or the workshop, by their transportation to different markets; but how much of this increase is due to the rivers down which these products float, to the winds that urge the keels of commerce over the ocean!
Who can estimate the value of morality and manliness in a State, of moral worth and intellectual knowledge? These are the sunshine and rain of the State. The winds, with their change-able, fickle, fluctuating currents, are apt emblems of the fickle humors of the populace, its passions, its heroic impulses, its enthusiasms. Woe to the statesman who does not estimate these as values!
Even music and song are sometimes found to have an incalculable value. Every nation has some song of a proven value, more easily counted in lives than dollars. The Marseillaise was worth to revolutionary France, who shall say how many thousand men?
Peace also is a great element of prosperity and wealth; a value not to be calculated. Social intercourse and association of men in beneficent Orders have a value not to be estimated in coin. The illustrious examples of the Past of a nation, the memories and immortal thoughts of her great and wise thinkers, statesmen, and heroes, are the invaluable legacy of that Past to the Present and Future. And all these have not only the values of the loftier and more excellent and priceless kind, but also an actual money-value, since it is only when co-operating with or aided or enabled by these, that human labor creates wealth. They are of the chief elements of material wealth, as they are of national manliness, heroism, glory, prosperity, and immortal renown.
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Providence has appointed the three great disciplines of War, the Monarchy and the Priesthood, all that the CAMP, the PALACE, and the TEMPLE may symbolize, to train the multitudes forward to intelligent and premeditated combinations for all the great purposes of society. The result will at length be free governments among men, when virtue and intelligence become qualities of the multitudes; but for ignorance such governments are impossible. Man advances only by degrees. The removal of one pressing calamity gives courage to attempt the removal of the remaining evils, rendering men more sensitive to them, or perhaps sensitive for the first time. Serfs that writhe under the whip are not disquieted about their political rights; manumitted from personal slavery, they become sensitive to political oppression. Liberated from arbitrary power, and governed by the law alone, they begin to scrutinize the law itself, and desire to be governed, not only by law, but by what they deem the best law. And when the civil or temporal despot-ism has been set aside, and the municipal law has been moulded on the principles of an enlightened jurisprudence, they may wake to the discovery that they are living under some priestly or ecclesiastical despotism, and become desirous of working a reformation there also.
It is quite true that the advance of humanity is slow, and that it often pauses and retrogrades. In the kingdoms of the earth we do not see despotisms retiring and yielding the ground to self-governing communities. We do not see the churches and priesthoods of Christendom relinquishing their old task of governing men by imaginary terrors. Nowhere do we see a populace that could be safely manumitted from such a government. We do not see the great religious teachers aiming to discover truth for themselves and for others; but still ruling the world, and contented and compelled to rule the world, by whatever dogma is already accredited; themselves as much bound down by this necessity to govern, as the populace by their need of government. Poverty in all its most hideous forms still exists in the great cities; and the cancer of pauperism has its roots in the hearts of kingdoms. Men there take no measure of their wants and their own power to supply them, but live and multiply like the beasts of the field,–Providence having apparently ceased to care for them. Intelligence never visits these, or it makes its appearance as some new development of villainy. War has not ceased; still there are battles and sieges. Homes are still unhappy, and tears and anger and spite make hells where there should be heavens. So much the more necessity for Masonry! So much wider the field of its labors! So much the more need for it to begin to be true to itself, to revive from its asphyxia, to repent of its apostasy to its true creed!
Undoubtedly, labor and death and the sexual passion are essential and permanent conditions of human existence, and render perfection and a millennium on earth impossible. Always,–it is the decree of Fate!–the vast majority of men must toil to live, and cannot find time to cultivate the intelligence. Man, knowing he is to die, will not sacrifice the present enjoyment for a greater one in the future. The love of woman cannot die out; and it has a terrible and uncontrollable fate, increased by the refinements of civilization. Woman is the veritable syren or goddess of the young. But society can be improved; and free government is possible for States; and freedom of thought and conscience is no longer wholly utopian. Already we see that Emperors prefer to be elected by universal suffrage; that States are conveyed to Empires by vote; and that Empires are administered with something of the spirit of a Republic, being little else than democracies with a single head, ruling through one man, one representative, instead of an assembly of representatives. And if Priesthoods still govern, they now come before the laity to prove, by stress of argument, that they ought to govern. They are obliged to evoke the very reason which they are bent on supplanting.
Accordingly, men become daily more free, because the freedom of the man lies in his reason. He can reflect upon his own future conduct, and summon up its consequences; he can take wide views of human life, and lay down rules for constant guidance. Thus he is relieved of the tyranny of sense and passion, and enabled at any time to live according to the whole light of the knowledge that is within him, instead of being driven, like a dry leaf on the wings of the wind, by every present impulse. Herein lies the freedom of the man as regarded in connection with the necessity imposed by the omnipotence and fore-knowledge of God. So much light, so much liberty. When emperor and church appeal to reason there is naturally universal suffrage.
Therefore no one need lose courage, nor believe that labor in the cause of Progress will be labor wasted. There is no waste in nature, either of Matter, Force, Act, or Thought. A Thought is as much the end of life as an Action; and a single Thought sometimes works greater results than a Revolution, even Revolutions themselves. Still there should not be divorce between Thought and Action. The true Thought is that in which life culminates. But all wise and true Thought produces Action. It is generative, like the light; and light and the deep shadow of the passing cloud are the gifts of the prophets of the race. Knowledge, laboriously acquired, and inducing habits of sound Thought,–the reflective character,–must necessarily be rare. The multitude of laborers cannot acquire it. Most men attain to a very low standard of it. It is incompatible with the ordinary and indispensable avocations of life. A whole world of error as well as of labor, go to make one reflective man. In the most advanced nation of Europe there are more ignorant than wise, more poor than rich, more automatic laborers, the mere creatures of habit, than reasoning and reflective men. The proportion is at least a thousand to one. Unanimity of opinion is so obtained. It only exists among the multitude who do not think, and the political or spiritual priesthood who think for that multitude, who think how to guide and govern them. When men begin to reflect, they begin to differ. The great problem is to find guides who will not seek to be tyrants. This is needed even more in respect to the heart than the head. Now, every man earns his special share of the produce of human labor, by an incessant scramble, by trickery and deceit. Useful knowledge, honorably acquired, is too often used after a fashion not honest or reasonable, so that the studies of youth are far more noble than the practices of manhood. The labor of the farmer in his fields, the generous returns of the earth, the benignant and favoring skies, tend to make him earnest, provident, and grateful; the education of the market-place makes him querulous, crafty, envious, and an intolerable niggard.
Masonry seeks to be this beneficent, unambitious, disinterested guide; and it is the very condition of all great structures that the sound of the hammer and the clink of the trowel should be always heard in some part of the building. With faith in man, hope for the future of humanity, loving-kindness for our fellows, Masonry and the Mason must always work and teach. Let each do that for which he is best fitted. The teacher also is a workman. Praiseworthy as the active navigator is, who comes and goes and makes one clime partake of the treasures of the other, and one to share the treasures of all, he who keeps the beacon-light upon the hill is also at his post.
Masonry has already helped cast down some idols from their pedestals, and grind to impalpable dust some of the links of the chains that held men’s souls in bondage. That there has been progress needs no other demonstration than that you may now reason with men, and urge upon them, without danger of the rack or stake, that no doctrines can be apprehended as truths if they contradict each other, or contradict other truths given us by God. Long before the Reformation, a monk, who had found his way to heresy without the help of Martin Luther, not venturing to breathe aloud into any living ear his anti-papal and treasonable doctrines, wrote them on parchment, and sealing up the perilous record, hid it in the massive walls of his monastery. There was no friend or brother to whom he could intrust his secret or pour forth his soul. It was some consolation to imagine that in a future age some one might find the parchment, and the seed be found not to have been sown in vain. What if the truth should have to lie dormant as long before germinating as the wheat in the Egyptian mummy? Speak it, nevertheless, again and again, and let it take its chance!
The rose of Jericho grows in the sandy deserts of Arabia and on the Syrian housetops. Scarcely six inches high, it loses its leaves after the flowering season, and dries up into the form of a ball. Then it is uprooted by the winds, and carried, blown, or tossed across the desert, into the sea. There, feeling the contact of the water, it unfolds itself, expands its branches, and expels its seeds from their seed-vessels. These, when saturated with water, are carried by the tide and laid on the seashore. Many are lost, as many individual lives of men are useless. But many are thrown back again from the seashore into the desert, where, by the virtue of the sea-water that they have imbibed, the roots and leaves sprout and they grow into fruitful plants, which will, in their turns, like their ancestors, be whirled into the sea. God will not be less careful to provide for the germination of the truths you may boldly utter forth. “Cast,” He has said, “thy bread upon the waters, and after many days it shall return to thee again.”
Initiation does not change: we find it again and again, and always the same, through all the ages. The last disciples of Pascalis Martinez are still the children of Orpheus; but they adore the realizer of the antique philosophy, the Incarnate Word of the Christians.
Pythagoras, the great divulger of the philosophy of numbers, visited all the sanctuaries of the world. He went into Judæa, where he procured himself to be circumcised, that he might be admitted to the secrets of the Kabalah, which the prophets Ezekiel and Daniel, not without some reservations, communicated to him. Then, not without some difficulty, he succeeded in being admitted to the Egyptian initiation, upon the recommendation of King Amasis. The power of his genius supplied the deficiencies of the imperfect communications of the Hierophants, and he himself became a Master and a Revealer, Pythagoras defined God: a Living and Absolute Verity clothed with Light.
He said that the Word was Number manifested by Form.
He made all descend from the Tetractys, that is to say, from the Quaternary.
God, he said again, is the Supreme Music, the nature of which is Harmony.
Pythagoras gave the magistrates of Crotona this great religious, political and social precept:
“There is no evil that is not preferable to Anarchy.”
Pythagoras said, “Even as there are three divine notions and three intelligible regions, so there is a triple word, for the Hierarchical Order always manifests itself by threes. There are the word simple, the word hieroglyphical, and the word symbolic: in other terms, there are the word that expresses, the word that conceals, and the word that signifies; the whole hieratic intelligence is in the perfect knowledge of these three degrees.”
Pythagoras enveloped doctrine with symbols, but carefully eschewed personifications and images, which, he thought, sooner or later produced idolatry.
The Holy Kabalah, or tradition of the children of Seth, was carried from Chaldæa by Abraham, taught to the Egyptian priesthood by Joseph, recovered and purified by Moses, concealed under symbols in the Bible, revealed by the Saviour to Saint John, and contained, entire, under hieratic figures analogous to those of all antiquity, in the Apocalypse of that Apostle.
The Kabalists consider God as the Intelligent, Animated, Living Infinite. He is not, for them, either the aggregate of existences, or existence in the abstract, or a being philosophically definable. He is in all, distinct from all, and greater than all. His name even is ineffable; and yet this name only expresses the human ideal of His divinity. What God is in Himself, it is not given to man to comprehend.
God is the absolute of Faith; but the absolute of Reason is BEING, ו ?Y?H?W?H. “I am that I am,” is a wretched translation.
Being, Existence, is by itself, and because it Is. The reason of Being, is Being itself. We may inquire, “Why does something exist?” that is, “Why does such or such a thing exist?” But we cannot, without being absurd, ask, “Why Is Being?” That would be to suppose Being before Being. If Being had a cause, that cause would necessarily Be; that is, the cause and effect would be identical.
Reason and science demonstrate to us that the modes of Existence and Being balance each other in equilibrium according to harmonious and hierarchic laws. But a hierarchy is synthetized, in ascending, and becomes ever more and more monarchial. Yet the reason cannot pause at a single chief, without being alarmed. at the abysses which it seems to leave above this Supreme Mon-arch. Therefore it is silent, and gives place to the Faith it adores.
What is certain, even for science and the reason, is, that the idea of God is the grandest, the most holy, and the most useful of all the aspirations of man; that upon this belief morality reposes, with its eternal sanction. This belief, then, is in humanity, the most real of the phenomena of being; and if it were false, nature would affirm the absurd; nothingness would give form to life, and God would at the same time be and not be.
It is to this philosophic and incontestable reality, which is termed The Idea of God, that the Kabalists give a name. In this name all others are contained. Its cyphers contain all the numbers; and the hieroglyphics of its letters express all the laws and all the things of nature.
BEING IS BEING: the reason of Being is in Being: in the Be-ginning is the Word, and the Word in logic formulated Speech, the spoken Reason; the Word is in God, and is God Himself, manifested to the Intelligence. Here is what is above all the philosophies. This we must believe, under the penalty of never truly knowing anything, and relapsing into the absurd skepticism of Pyrrho. The Priesthood, custodian of Faith, wholly rests upon this basis of knowledge, and it is in its teachings we must recognize the Divine Principle of the Eternal Word.
Light is not Spirit, as the Indian Hierophants believed it to be; but only the instrument of the Spirit. It is not the body of the Protoplastes, as the Theurgists of the school of Alexandria taught, but the first physical manifestation of the Divine afflatus. God eternally creates it, and man, in the image of God, modifies and seems to multiply it.
The high magic is styled “The Sacerdotal Art,” and “The Royal Art.” In Egypt, Greece, and Rome, it could not but share the greatnesses and decadences of the Priesthood and of Royalty. Every philosophy hostile to the national worship and to its mysteries, was of necessity hostile to the great political powers, which lose their grandeur, if they cease, in the eyes of the multitudes, to be the images of the Divine Power. Every Crown is shattered, when it clashes against the Tiara.
Plato, writing to Dionysius the Younger, in regard to the nature of the First Principle, says: “I must write to you in enigmas, so that if my letter be intercepted by land or sea, he who shall read it may in no degree comprehend it.” And then he says, “All things surround their King; they are, on account of Him, and He alone is the cause of good things, Second for the Seconds and Third for the Thirds.”
There is in these few words a complete summary of the Theology of the Sephiroth. “The King” is AINSOPH, Being Supreme and Absolute. From this centre, which is everywhere, all things ray forth; but we especially conceive of it in three manners and in three different spheres. In the Divine world (AZILUTH), which is that of the First Cause, and wherein the whole Eternity of Things in the beginning existed as Unity, to be afterward, during Eternity uttered forth, clothed with form, and the attributes that constitute them matter, the First Principle is Single and First, and yet not the VERY Illimitable Deity, incomprehensible, undefinable; but Himself in so far as manifested by the Creative Thought. To compare littleness with infinity,–Arkwright, as inventor of the spinning-jenny, and not the man Arkwright otherwise and beyond that. All we can know of the Very God is, compared to His Wholeness, only as an infinitesimal fraction of a unit, compared with an infinity of Units.
In the World of Creation, which is that of Second Causes [the Kabalistic World BRIAH], the Autocracy of the First Principle is complete, but we conceive of it only as the Cause of the Second Causes. Here it is manifested by the Binary, and is the Creative Principle passive. Finally: in the third world, YEZIRAH, or of Formation, it is revealed in the perfect Form, the Form of Forms, the World, the Supreme Beauty and Excellence, the Created Perfection. Thus the Principle is at once the First, the Second, and the Third, since it is All in All, the Centre and Cause of all. It is not the genius of Plato that we here admire. We recognize only the exact knowledge of the Initiate.
The great Apostle Saint John did not borrow from the philosophy of Plato the opening of his Gospel. Plato, on the contrary, drank at the same springs with Saint John and Philo; and John in the opening verses of his paraphrase, states the first principles of a dogma common to many schools, but in language especially belonging to Philo, whom it is evident he had read. The philosophy of Plato, the greatest of human Revealers, could yearn toward the Word made man; the Gospel alone could give him to the world.
Doubt, in presence of Being and its harmonies; skepticism, in the face of the eternal mathematics and the immutable laws of Life which make the Divinity present and visible everywhere, as the Human is known and visible by its utterances of word and act,–is this not the most foolish of superstitions, and the most inexcusable as well as the most dangerous of all credulities? Thought, we know, is not a result or consequence of the organization of matter, of the chemical or other action or reaction of its particles, like effervescence and gaseous explosions. On the contrary, the fact that Thought is manifested and realized in act human or act divine, proves the existence of an Entity, or Unity, that thinks. And the Universe is the Infinite Utterance of one of an infinite number of Infinite Thoughts, which cannot but emanate from an Infinite and Thinking Source. The cause is always equal, at least, to the effect; and matter cannot think, nor could it cause itself, or exist without cause, nor could nothing produce either forces or things; for in void nothingness no Forces can inhere. Admit a self-existent Force, and its Intelligence, or an Intelligent cause of it is admitted, and at once GOD IS.
The Hebrew allegory of the Fall of Man, which is but a special variation of a universal legend, symbolizes one of the grandest and most universal allegories of science.
Moral Evil is Falsehood in actions; as Falsehood is Crime in words.
Injustice is the essence of Falsehood; and every false word is an injustice.
Injustice is the death of the Moral Being, as Falsehood is the poison of the Intelligence.
The perception of the Light is the dawn of the Eternal Life, in Being. The Word of God, which creates the Light, seems to be uttered by every Intelligence that can take cognizance of Forms and will look. “Let the Light BE! The Light, in fact, exists, in its condition of splendor, for those eyes alone that gaze at it; and the Soul, amorous of the spectacle of the beauties of the Universe, and applying its attention to that luminous writing of the Infinite Book, which is called “The Visible,” seems to utter, as God did on the dawn of the first day, that sublime and creative word, “BE! LIGHT!”
It is not beyond the tomb, but in life itself, that we are to seek for the mysteries of death. Salvation or reprobation begins here below, and the terrestrial world too has its Heaven and its Hell. Always, even here below, virtue is rewarded; always, even here below, vice is punished; and that which makes us sometimes believe in the impunity of evil-doers is that riches, those instruments of good and of evil, seem sometimes to be given them at hazard. But woe to unjust men, when they possess the key of gold! It opens, for them, only the gate of the tomb and of Hell.
All the true Initiates have recognized the usefulness of toil and sorrow. “Sorrow,” says a German poet, “is the dog of that unknown shepherd who guides the flock of men.” To learn to suffer, to learn to die, is the discipline of Eternity, the immortal Novitiate.
The allegorical picture of Cebes, in which the Divine Comedy of Dante was sketched in Plato’s time, the description whereof has been preserved for us, and which many painters of the middle age have reproduced by this description, is a monument at once philosophical and magical. It is a most complete moral synthesis, and at the same time the most audacious demonstration ever given of the Grand Arcanum, of that secret whose revelation would overturn Earth and Heaven. Let no one expect us to give them its explanation! He who passes behind the veil that hides this mystery, understands that it is in its very nature inexplicable, and that it is death to those who win it by surprise, as well as to him who reveals it.
This secret is the Royalty of the Sages, the Crown of the Initiate whom we see redescend victorious from the summit of Trials, in the fine allegory of Cebes. The Grand Arcanum makes him master of gold and the light, which are at bottom the same thing, he has solved the problem of the quadrature of the circle, he directs the perpetual movement, and he possesses the philosophical stone. Here the Adepts will understand us. There is neither interruption in the toil of nature, nor gap in her work. The Harmonies of Heaven correspond to those of Earth, and the Eternal Life accomplishes its evolutions in accordance with the same laws as the life of a dog. “God has arranged all things by weight, number, and measure,” says the Bible; and this luminous doctrine was also that of Plato.
Humanity has never really had but one religion and one worship. This universal light has had its uncertain mirages, its deceitful reflections, and its shadows; but always, after the nights of Error, we see it reappear, one and pure like the Sun.
The magnificences of worship are the life of religion, and if Christ wishes poor ministers, His Sovereign Divinity does not wish paltry altars. Some Protestants have not comprehended that worship is a teaching, and that we must not create in the imagination of the multitude a mean or miserable God. Those oratories that resemble poorly-furnished offices or inns, and those worthy ministers clad like notaries or lawyer’s clerks, do they not necessarily cause religion to be regarded as a mere puritanic formality, and God as a Justice of the Peace?
We scoff at the Augurs. It is so easy to scoff, and so difficult well to comprehend. Did the Deity leave the whole world without Light for two score centuries, to illuminate only a little corner of Palestine and a brutal, ignorant, and ungrateful people? Why always calumniate God and the Sanctuary? Were there never any others than rogues among the priests? Could no honest and sincere men be found among the Hierophants of Ceres or Diana, of Dionusos or Apollo, of Hermes or Mithras? Were these, then, all deceived, like the rest? Who, then, constantly deceived them, without betraying themselves, during a series of centuries?–for the cheats are not immortal! Arago said, that outside of the pure mathematics, he who utters the word “impossible,” is wanting in prudence and good sense.
The true name of Satan, the Kabalists say, is that of Yahveh reversed; for Satan is not a black god, but the negation of God. The Devil is the personification of Atheism or Idolatry.
For the Initiates, this is not a Person, but a Force, created for good, but which may serve for evil. It is the instrument of Liberty or Free Will. They represent this Force, which presides over the physical generation, under the mythologic and horned form of the God PAN; thence came the he-goat of the Sabbat, brother of the Ancient Serpent, and the Light-bearer or Phosphor, of which the poets have made the false Lucifer of the legend.
Gold, to the eyes of the Initiates, is Light condensed. They style the sacred numbers of the Kabalah “golden numbers,” and the moral teachings of Pythagoras his “golden verses.” For the same reason, a mysterious book of Apuleius, in which an ass figures largely, was called “The Golden Ass.”
The Pagans accused the Christians of worshipping an ass, and they did not invent this reproach, but it came from the Samaritan Jews, who, figuring the data of the Kabalah in regard to the Divinity by Egyptian symbols, also represented the Intelligence by the figure of the Magical Star adored under the name of Remphan, Science under the emblem of Anubis, whose name they changed to Nibbas, and the vulgar faith or credulity under the figure of Thartac, a god represented with a book, a cloak, and the head of an ass. According to the Samaritan Doctors, Christianity was the reign of Thartac, blind Faith and vulgar credulity erected into a universal oracle, and preferred to Intelligence and Science.
Synesius, Bishop of Ptolemaïs, a great Kabalist, but of doubtful orthodoxy, wrote:
“The people will always mock at things easy to be misunderstood; it must needs have impostures.”
“A Spirit,” he said, “that loves wisdom and contemplates the Truth close at hand, is forced to disguise it, to induce the multitudes to accept it. . . . Fictions are necessary to the people, and the Truth becomes deadly to those who are not strong enough to contemplate it in all its brilliance. If the sacerdotal laws allowed the reservation of judgments and the allegory of words, I would accept the proposed dignity on condition that I might be a philosopher at home, and abroad a narrator of apologues and parables
In fact, what can there be in common between the vile multitude and sublime wisdom? The truth must be kept secret, and the masses need a teaching proportioned to their imperfect reason.”
Moral disorders produce physical ugliness, and in some sort realize those frightful faces which tradition assigns to the demons.
The first Druids were the true children of the Magi, and their initiation came from Egypt and Chaldæa, that is to say, from the pure sources of the primitive Kabalah. They adored the Trinity under the names of Isis or Hesus, the Supreme Harmony; of Belen or Bel, which in Assyrian means Lord, a name corresponding to that of ADONAÏ; and of Camul or Camaël, a name that in the Kabalah personifies the Divine Justice. Below this triangle of Light they supposed a divine reflection, also composed of three personified rays: first, Teutates or Teuth, the same as the Thoth of the Egyptians, the Word, or the Intelligence formulated; then Force and Beauty, whose names varied like their emblems. Finally, they completed the sacred Septenary by a mysterious image that represented the progress of the dogma and its future realizations. This was a young girl veiled, holding a child in her arms; and they dedicated this image to “The Virgin who will become a mother;–Virgini parituræ.”
Hertha or Wertha, the young Isis of Gaul, Queen of Heaven, the Virgin who was to bear a child, held the spindle of the Fates, filled with wool half white and half black; because she presides over all forms and all symbols, and weaves the garment of the Ideas.
One of the most mysterious pantacles of the Kabalah, contained in the Enchiridion of Leo III., represents an equilateral triangle reversed, inscribed in a double circle. On the triangle are written, in such manner as to form the prophetic Tau, the two Hebrew words so often found appended to the Ineffable Name, ו ?A?L?Hמ and ו ?C?B?A?W?Tה, ALOHAYIM, or the Powers, and TSABAOTH, or the starry Armies and their guiding spirits; words also which symbolize the Equilibrium of the Forces of Nature and the Harmony of Numbers. To the three sides of the triangle belong the three great Names ו ?Y?H?W?H, ו ?A?Dן?Y, and ו ?A?G?L?A, IAHAVEH, ADONAÏ, and AGLA. Above the first is written in Latin, Formatio, above the second Reformatio, and above the third, Transformatio. So Creation is ascribed to the FATHER, Redemption or Reformation to the SON, and Sanctification or Transformation to the HOLY SPIRIT, answering unto the mathematical laws of Action, Reaction, and Equilibrium. IAHAVEH is also, in effect, the Genesis or Formation of dogma, by the elementary signification of the four letters of the Sacred Tetragram; ADONAÏ is the realization of this dogma in the Human Form, in the Visible LORD, who is the Son of God or the perfect Man; and AGLA (formed of the initials of the four words Ath Gebur Laulaïm Adonaï) expresses the synthesis of the whole dogma and the totality of the Kabalistic science, clearly indicating by the hieroglyphics of which this admirable name is formed the Triple Secret of the Great Work.
Masonry, like all the Religions, all the Mysteries, Hermeticism and Alchemy, conceals its secrets from all except the Adepts and Sages, or the Elect, and uses false explanations and misinterpretations of its symbols to mislead those who deserve only to be misled;
to conceal the Truth, which it calls Light, from them, and to draw them away from it. Truth is not for those who are unworthy or unable to receive it, or would pervert it. So God Himself incapacitates many men, by color-blindness, to distinguish colors, and leads the masses away from the highest Truth, giving them the power to attain only so much of it as it is profitable to them to know. Every age has had a religion suited to its capacity.
The Teachers, even of Christianity, are, in general, the most ignorant of the true meaning of that which they teach. There is no book of which so little is known as the Bible. To most who read it, it is as incomprehensible as the Sohar.
So Masonry jealously conceals its secrets, and intentionally leads conceited interpreters astray. There is no sight under the sun more pitiful and ludicrous at once, than the spectacle of the Prestons and the Webbs, not to mention the later incarnations of Dullness and Commonplace, undertaking to “explain” the old symbols of Masonry, and adding to and “improving” them, or inventing new ones.
To the Circle inclosing the central point, and itself traced between two parallel lines, a figure purely Kabalistic, these persons have added the superimposed Bible, and even reared on that the ladder with three or nine rounds, and then given a vapid interpretation of the whole, so profoundly absurd as actually to excite admiration.