PRINCE OF MERCY, OR SCOTTISH TRINITARIAN.
WHILE you were veiled in darkness, you heard repeated by the Voice of the Great Past its most ancient doctrines. None has the right to object, if the Christian Mason sees foreshadowed in Chrishna and Sosiosch, in Mithras and Osiris, the Divine WORD that, as he believes, became Man, and died upon the cross to redeem a fallen race. Nor can he object if others see reproduced, in the WORD of the beloved Disciple, that was in the beginning with God, and that was God, and by Whom everything was made, only the LOGOS of Plato, and the WORD or Uttered THOUGHT or first Emanation of LIGHT, Or the Perfect REASON of the Great, Silent, Supreme, Uncreated Deity, believed in and adored by all.
We do not undervalue the importance of any Truth. We utter no word that can be deemed irreverent by any one of any faith. We do not tell the Moslem that it is only important for him to believe that there is but one God, and wholly unessential whether Mahomet was His prophet. We do not tell the Hebrew that the Messiah whom he expects was born in Bethlehem nearly two thousand years ago; and that he is a heretic because he will not so believe. And as little do we tell the sincere Christian that Jesus of Nazareth was but a man like us, or His history but the unreal revival of an older legend. To do either is beyond our jurisdiction. Masonry, of no one age, belongs to all time; of no one religion, it finds its great truths in all.
To every Mason, there is a GOD; ONE, Supreme, Infinite in Goodness, Wisdom, Foresight, Justice, and Benevolence; Creator, Disposer, and Preserver of all things. How, or by what intermediates He creates and acts, and in what way He unfolds and manifests Himself, Masonry leaves to creeds and Religions to inquire.
To every Mason, the soul of man is immortal. Whether it emanates from and will return to God, and what its continued mode of existence hereafter, each judges for himself. Masonry was not made to settle that.
To every Mason, WISDOM or INTELLIGENCE, FORCE or STRENGTH, and HARMONY, or FITNESS and BEAUTY, are the Trinity of the attributes of God. With the subtleties of Philosophy concerning them Masonry does not meddle, nor decide as to the reality of the supposed Existences which are their Personifications: nor whether the Christian Trinity be such a personification, or a Reality of the gravest import and significance.
To every Mason, the Infinite Justice and Benevolence of God give ample assurance that Evil will ultimately be dethroned, and the Good, the True, and the Beautiful reign triumphant and eternal. It teaches, as it feels and knows, that Evil, and Pain, and Sorrow exist as part of a wise and beneficent plan, all the parts of which work together under God’s eye to a result which shall be perfection. Whether the existence of evil is rightly explained in this creed or in that, by Typhon the Great Serpent, by Ahriman and his Armies of Wicked Spirits, by the Giants and Titans that war against Heaven, by the two co-existent Principles of Good and Evil, by Satan’s temptation and the fall of Man, by Lok and the Serpent Fenris, it is beyond the domain of Masonry to decide, nor does it need to inquire. Nor is it within its Province to determine how the ultimate triumph of Light and Truth and Good, over Darkness and Error and Evil, is to be achieved; nor whether the Redeemer, looked and longed for by all nations, hath appeared in Judea, or is yet to come.
It reverences all the great reformers. It sees in Moses, the Lawgiver of the Jews, in Confucius and Zoroaster, in Jesus of Nazareth, and in the Arabian Iconoclast, Great Teachers of Morality, and Eminent Reformers, if no more: and allows every brother of the Order to assign to each such higher and even Divine Character as his Creed and Truth require.
Thus Masonry disbelieves no truth, and teaches unbelief in no creed, except so far as such creed may lower its lofty estimate of the Deity, degrade Him to the level of the passions of humanity, deny the high destiny of man, impugn the goodness and benevolence of the Supreme God, strike at those great columns of Masonry, Faith, Hope, and Charity, or inculcate immorality, and disregard of the active duties of the Order. Masonry is a worship; but one in which all civilized men can unite; for it does not undertake to explain or dogmatically to settle those great mysteries, that are above the feeble comprehension of our human intellect. It trusts in God, and HOPES; it BELIEVES, like a child, and is humble. It draws no sword to compel others to adopt its belief, or to be happy with its hopes. And it WAITS with patience to understand the mysteries of Nature and Nature’s God hereafter.
The greatest mysteries in the Universe are those which are ever going on around us; so trite and common to us that we never note them nor reflect upon them. Wise men tell us of the laws that regulate the motions of the spheres, which, flashing in huge circles and spinning on their axes, are also ever darting with inconceivable rapidity through the infinities of Space; while we atoms sit here, and dream that all was made for us. They tell us learnedly of centripetal and centrifugal forces, gravity and attraction, and all the other sounding terms invented to hide a want of meaning. There are other forces in the Universe than those that are mechanical.
Here are two minute seeds, not much unlike in appearance, and two of larger size. Hand them to the learned Pundit, Chemistry, who tells us how combustion goes on in the lungs, and plants are fed with phosphorus and carbon, and the alkalies and silex. Let her decompose them, analyze them, torture them in all the ways she knows. The net result of each is a little sugar, a little fibrin, a little water–carbon, potassium, sodium, and the like–one cares not to know what.
We hide them in the ground: and the slight rains moisten them, and the Sun shines upon them, and little slender shoots spring up and grow;–and what a miracle is the mere growth!–the force, the power, the capacity by which the little feeble shoot, that a small worm can nip off with a single snap of its mandibles, extracts from the earth and air and water the different elements, so learnedly catalogued, with which it increases in stature, and rises imperceptibly toward the sky.
One grows to be a slender, fragile, feeble stalk, soft of texture, like an ordinary weed; another a strong bush, of woody fibre, armed with thorns, and sturdy enough to bid defiance to the winds: the third a tender tree, subject to be blighted by the frost, and looked down upon by all the forest; while another spreads its rugged arms abroad, and cares for neither frost nor ice, nor the snows that for months lie around its roots.
But lo! out of the brown foul earth, and colorless invisible air, and limpid rain-water, the chemistry of the seeds has extracted colors–four different shades of green, that paint the leaves which put forth in the spring upon our plants, our shrubs, and our trees. Later still come the flowers–the vivid colors of the rose, the beautiful brilliance of the carnation, the modest blush of the apple; and the splendid white of the orange. Whence come the colors of the leaves and flowers? By what process of chemistry are they extracted from the carbon, the phosphorus, and the lime? Is it any greater miracle to make something out of nothing?
Pluck the flowers. Inhale the delicious perfumes; each perfect, and all delicious. Whence have they come? By what combination of acids and alkalies could the chemist’s laboratory produce them?
And now on two comes the fruit–the ruddy apple and the golden orange. Pluck them–open them! The texture and fabric how totally different! The taste how entirely dissimilar–the perfume of each distinct from its flower and from the other. Whence the taste and this new perfume? The same earth and air and water have been made to furnish a different taste to each fruit, a different perfume not only to each fruit, but to each fruit and its own flower.
Is it any more a problem whence come thought and will and perception and all the phenomena of the mind, than this, whence come the colors, the perfumes, the taste, of the fruit and flower?
And lo! in each fruit new seeds, each gifted with the same wondrous power of reproduction–each with the same wondrous forces wrapped up in it to be again in turn evolved. Forces that had lived three thousand years in the grain of wheat found in the wrappings of an Egyptian mummy; forces of which learning and science and wisdom know no more than they do of the nature and laws of action of God. What can we know of the nature, and how can we understand the powers and mode of operation of the human soul, when the glossy leaves, the pearl-white flower, and the golden fruit of the orange are miracles wholly beyond our comprehension?
We but hide our ignorance in a cloud of words;–and the words too often are mere combinations of sounds without any meaning. What is the centrifugal force? A tendency to go in a particular direction! What external “force,” then, produces that tendency?
What force draws the needle round to the north? What force moves the muscle that raises the arm, when the will determines it shall rise? Whence comes the will itself? Is it spontaneous–a first cause, or an effect? These too are miracles; inexplicable as the creation, or the existence and self-existence of God.
Who will explain to us the passion, the peevishness, the anger, the memory, and affections of the small canary-wren? the consciousness of identity and the dreams of the dog? the reasoning powers of the elephant? the wondrous instincts, passions, government, and civil policy, and modes of communication of ideas of the ant and bee?
Who has yet made us to understand, with all his learned words, how heat comes to us from the Sun, and light from the remote Stars, setting out upon its journey earthward from some, at the time the Chaldæans commenced to build the Tower of Babel? Or how the image of an external object comes to and fixes itself upon the retina of the eye; and when there, how that mere empty, unsubstantial image becomes transmuted into the wondrous thing that we call SIGHT? Or how the waves of the atmosphere striking upon the tympanum of the ear–those thin, invisible waves–produce the equally wondrous phenomenon of HEARING, and become the roar of the tornado, the crash of the thunder, the mighty voice of the ocean, the chirping of the cricket, the delicate sweet notes and exquisite trills and variations of the wren and mocking-bird, or the magic melody of the instrument of Paganini?
Our senses are mysteries to us, and we are mysteries to ourselves. Philosophy has taught us nothing as to the nature of our sensations, our perceptions, our cognizances, the origin of our thoughts and ideas, but words. By no effort or degree of reflection, never so long continued, can man become conscious of a personal identity in himself, separate and distinct from his body and his brain. We torture ourselves in the effort to gain an idea of ourselves, and weary with the exertion. Who has yet made us understand how, from the contact with a foreign body, the image in the eye, the wave of air impinging on the ear, particular particles entering the nostrils, and coming in contact with the palate, come sensations in the nerves, and from that, perception in the mind, of the animal or the man? What do we know of Substance? Men even doubt yet whether it exists. Philosophers tell us that our senses make known to us only the attributes of substance, extension, hardness, color, and the like; but not the thing itself that is extended, solid, black or white; as we know the attributes of the Soul, its thoughts and its perceptions, and not the Soul itself which perceives and thinks.
What a wondrous mystery is there in heat and light, existing, we know not how, within certain limits, narrow in comparison with infinity, beyond which on every side stretch out infinite space and the blackness of unimaginable darkness, and the intensity of inconceivable cold! Think only of the mighty Power required to maintain warmth and light in the central point of such an infinity, to whose darkness that of Midnight, to whose cold that of the last Arctic Island is nothing. And yet GOD is everywhere.
And what a mystery are the effects of heat and cold upon the wondrous fluid that we call water! What a mystery lies hidden in every flake of snow and in every crystal of ice, and in their final transformation into the invisible vapor that rises from the ocean or the land, and floats above the summits of the mountains!
What a multitude of wonders, indeed, has chemistry unveiled to our eyes! Think only that if some single law enacted by God were at once repealed, that of attraction or affinity or cohesion, for example, the whole material world, with its solid granite and adamant, its veins of gold and silver, its trap and porphyry, its huge beds of coal, our own frames and the very ribs and bones of this apparently indestructible earth, would instantaneously dissolve, with all Suns and Stars and Worlds throughout all the Universe of God, into a thin invisible vapor of infinitely minute particles or atoms, diffused throughout infinite space; and with them light and heat would disappear; unless the Deity Himself be, as the Ancient Persians thought, the Eternal Light and the Immortal Fire.
The mysteries of the Great Universe of God! How can we with our limited mental vision expect to grasp and comprehend them! Infinite SPACE, stretching out from us every way, without limit: infinite TIME, without beginning or end; and WE, HERE, and NOW, in the centre of each! An infinity of suns, the nearest of which only diminish in size, viewed with the most powerful telescope: each with its retinue of worlds; infinite numbers of such suns, so remote from us that their light would not reach us, journeying during an infinity of time, while the light that has reached us, from some that we seem to see, has been upon its journey for fifty centuries: our world spinning upon its axis, and rushing ever in its circuit round the sun; and it, the sun, and all our system revolving round some great central point; and that, and suns, stars, and worlds evermore flashing onward with incredible rapidity through illimitable space: and then, in every drop of water that we drink, in every morsel of much of our food, in the air, in the earth, in the sea, incredible multitudes of living creatures, invisible to the naked eye, of a minuteness beyond belief, yet organized, living, feeding, perhaps with consciousness of identity, and memory and instinct.
Such are some of the mysteries of the great Universe of God. And yet we, whose life and that of the world on which we live form but a point in the centre of infinite Time: we, who nourish animalcule within, and on whom vegetables grow without, would fain learn “how God created this Universe, would understand His Powers, His Attributes, His Emanations, His Mode of Existence and of Action; would fain know the plan according to which all events proceed, that plan profound as God Himself; would know the laws by which He controls His Universe; would fain see and talk to Him face to face, as man talks to man: and we try not to believe, because we do not understand.
He commands us to love one another, to love our neighbor as ourself; and we dispute and wrangle, and hate and slay each other, because we cannot be of one opinion as to the Essence of His Nature, as to His Attributes; whether He became man born of a woman, and was crucified; whether the Holy Ghost is of the same substance with the Father, or only of a similar substance; whether a feeble old man is God’s Vicegerent; whether some are elected from all eternity to be saved, and others to be condemned and punished; whether punishment of the wicked after death is to be eternal; whether this doctrine or the other be heresy or truth;–drenching the world with blood, depopulating realms, and turning fertile lands into deserts; until, for religious war, persecution, and bloodshed, the Earth for many a century has rolled round the Sun, a charnel-house, steaming and reeking with human gore, the blood of brother slain by brother for opinion’s sake, that has soaked into and polluted all her veins, and made her a horror to her sisters of the Universe.
And if men were all Masons, and obeyed with all their heart her mild and gentle teachings, that world would be a paradise; while intolerance and persecution make of it a hell. For this is the Masonic Creed: BELIEVE, in God’s Infinite Benevolence, Wisdom, and Justice: HOPE, for the final triumph of Good over Evil, and for Perfect Harmony as the final result of all the concords and discords of the Universe: and be CHARITABLE as God is, toward the unfaith, the errors, the follies, and the faults of men: for all make one great brotherhood.
Sen∴ W∴ Brother Junior Warden, are you a Prince of Mercy?
Jun∴ W∴ I have seen the Delta and the Holy NAMES upon it, and am an AMETH like yourself, in the TRIPLE COVENANT, of which we bear the mark.
Qu∴ What is the first Word upon the Delta?
Ans∴ The Ineffable Name of Deity, the true mystery of which is known to the Ameth alone.
Qu∴ What do the three sides of the Delta denote to us?
Ans∴ To us, and to all Masons, the three Great Attributes or Developments of the Essence of the Deity; WISDOM, or the Reflective and Designing Power, in which, when there was naught but God, the Plan and Idea of the Universe was shaped and formed: FORCE, or the Executing and Creating Power, which instantaneously acting, realized the Type and Idea framed by Wisdom; and the Universe, and all Stars and Worlds, and Light and Life, and Men and Angels and all living creatures WERE; and HARMONY, or the Preserving Power, Order, and Beauty, maintaining the Universe in its State, and constituting the law of Harmony, Motion, Proportion, and Progression:–WISDOM, which thought the plan; STRENGTH, which created: HARMONY, which upholds and preserves:–the Masonic Trinity, three Powers and one Essence: the three columns which support the Universe, Physical, Intellectual, and Spiritual, of which every Masonic Lodge is a type and symbol:–while to the Christian Mason, they represent the Three that bear record in Heaven, the FATHER, the WORD, and the HOLY SPIRIT, which three are ONE.
Qu∴ What do the three Greek letters upon the Delta, Ι∴ Η∴ Σ∴ [Iota, Eta, and Sigma] represent?
Ans∴ Three of the Names of the Supreme Deity among the Syrians, Phœnicians. and Hebrews . . . IHUH [YHWH]; Self-Existence. . . AL [ו ?A?L]: the Nature-God, or Soul of the Universe. . . SHADAI [ו ?Sה?D?Y] Supreme Power. Also three of the Six Chief At-tributes of God, among the Kabbalists:–WISDOM [IEH], the Intellect, (Νοῦς) of the Egyptians, the Word (Λόγος) of the Platonists, and the Wisdom (Σοφία) of the Gnostics: . . MAGNIFICENCE [AL], the Symbol of which was the Lion’s Head: . . and VICTORY and GLORY [Tsabaoth], which are the two columns JACHIN and BOAZ, that stand in the Portico of the Temple of Masonry. To the Christian Mason they are the first three letters of the name of the Son of God, Who died upon the cross to redeem mankind.
Qu∴ What is the first of the THREE COVENANTS, of which we bear the mark?
Ans∴ That which God made with Noah; when He said, “I will not again curse the earth any more for man’s sake, neither will I smite any more everything living as I have done. While the Earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and Winter and Summer, and day and night shall not cease. I will establish My covenant with you, and with your seed after you, and with every living creature. All mankind shall no more be cut off by the waters of a flood, nor shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. This is the token of My covenant: I do set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth: an everlasting covenant between Me and every living creature on the earth.”
Qu∴ What is the second of the Three Covenants?
Ans∴ That which God made with Abraham; when He said, “I am the Absolute Uncreated God. I will make My covenant between Me and thee, and thou shalt be the Father of Many Nations, and Kings shall come from thy loins. I will establish My covenant between Me and thee, and thy descendants after thee, to the remotest generations, for an everlasting covenant; and I will be thy God and their God, and will give thee the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession.”
Qu∴ What is the third Covenant?
Ans∴ That which God made with all men by His prophets; when He said: “I will gather all nations and tongues, and they shall come and see My Glory. I will create new Heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. The Sun shall no more shine by day, nor the Moon by night; but the Lord shall be an everlasting light and splendor. His Spirit and His Word shall remain with men forever. The heavens shall vanish away like vapor, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die; but my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not end; and there shall be Light among the Gentiles, and salvation unto the ends of the earth. The redeemed of the Lord shall return, and everlasting joy be on their heads, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.”
Qu∴ What is the symbol of the Triple Covenant?
Ans∴ The Triple Triangle.
Qu∴ Of what else is it the symbol to us?
Ans∴ Of the Trinity of Attributes of the Deity; and of the triple essence of Man, the Principle of Life, the Intellectual Power, and the Soul or Immortal Emanation from the Deity.
Qu∴ What is the first great Truth of the Sacred Mysteries?
Ans∴ No man hath seen God at any time. He is One, Eternal, All-Powerful, All-Wise, Infinitely Just, Merciful, Benevolent, and Compassionate, Creator and Preserver of all things, the Source of Light and Life, coextensive with Time and Space; Who thought, and with the Thought created the Universe and all living things, and the souls of men: THAT IS:–the PERMANENT; while everything beside is a perpetual genesis.
Qu∴ What is the second great Truth of the Sacred Mysteries?
Ans∴ The Soul of Man is Immortal; not the result of organization, nor an aggregate of modes of action of matter, nor a succession of phenomena and perceptions; but an EXISTENCE, one and identical, a living spirit, a spark of the Great Central Light, that hath entered info and dwells in the body; to be separated therefrom at death, and return to God who gave it: that doth not disperse nor vanish at death, like breath or a smoke, nor can be annihilated; but still exists and possesses activity and intelligence, even as it existed in God, before it was enveloped in the body.
Qu∴ What is the third great Truth in Masonry?
Ans∴ The impulse which directs to right conduct, and deters from crime, is not only older than the ages of nations and cities, but coeval with that Divine Being Who sees and rules both Heaven and earth. Nor did Tarquin less violate that Eternal Law, though in his reign there might have been no written law at Rome against such violence; for the principle that impels us to right conduct, and warns us against guilt, springs out of the nature of things. It did not begin to be law when it was first written, nor was it originated; but it is coeval with the Divine Intelligence itself. The consequence of virtue is not to be made the end thereof; and laudable performances must have deeper roots, motives, and instigations, to give them the stamp of virtues.
Qu∴ What is the fourth great Truth in Masonry?
Ans∴ The moral truths are as absolute as the metaphysical truths. Even the Deity cannot make it that there should be effects without a cause, or phenomena without substance. As little could He make it to be sinful and evil to respect our pledged word, to love truth, to moderate our passions. The principles of Morality are axioms, like the principles of Geometry. The moral laws are the necessary relations that flow from the nature of things, and they are not created by, but have existed eternally in God. Their continued existence does not depend upon the exercise of His WILL. Truth and Justice are of His ESSENCE. Not because we are feeble and God omnipotent, is it our duty to obey His law. We may be forced, but are not under obligation, to obey the stronger. God is the principle of Morality, but not by His mere will, which, abstracted from all other of His attributes, would be neither just nor unjust. Good is the expression of His will, in so far as that will is itself the expression of eternal, absolute, uncreated justice, which is in God, which His will did not create; but which it executes and promulgates, as our will proclaims and promulgates and executes the idea of the good which is in us. He has given us the law of Truth and Justice; but He has not arbitrarily instituted that law. Justice is inherent in His will, because it is contained in His intelligence and wisdom, in His very nature and most intimate essence.
Qu∴ What is the fifth great Truth in Masonry?
Ans∴ There is an essential distinction between Good and Evil, what is just and what is unjust; and to this distinction is attached, for every intelligent and free creature, the absolute obligation of conforming to what is good and just. Man is an intelligent and free being,–free, because he is conscious that it is his duty, and because it is made his duty, to obey the dictates of truth and justice, and therefore he must necessarily have the power of doing so, which involves the power of not doing so;-capable of comprehending the distinction between good and evil, justice and injustice, and the obligation which accompanies it, and of naturally adhering to that obligation, independently of any contract or positive law; capable also of resisting the temptations which urge him toward evil and injustice, and of complying with the sacred law of eternal justice.
That man is not governed by a resistless Fate or inexorable Destiny; but is free to choose between the evil and the good: that Justice and Right, the Good and Beautiful, are of the essence of the Divinity, like His Infinitude; and therefore they are laws to man: that we are conscious of our freedom to act, as we are conscious of our identity, and the continuance and connectedness of our existence; and have the same evidence of one as of the other; and if we can put one in doubt, we have no certainty of either, and everything is unreal: that we can deny our free will and free agency, only upon the ground that they are in the nature of things impossible; which would be to deny the Omnipotence of God.
Qu∴ What is the sixth great Truth of Masonry?
Ans∴ The necessity of practising the moral truths, is obligation. The moral truths; necessary in the eye of reason, are obligatory on the will. The moral obligation, like the moral truth that is its foundation, is absolute. As the necessary truths are not more or less necessary, so the obligation is not more or less obligatory. There are degrees of importance among different obligations; but none in the obligation itself. We are not nearly obliged, almost obliged. We are wholly so, or not at all. If there be any place of refuge to which we can escape from the obligation, it ceases to exist. If the obligation is absolute, it is immutable and universal. For if that of to-day may not be that of to-morrow, if what is obligatory on me may not be obligatory on you, the obligation would differ from itself, and be variable and contingent. This fact is the principle of all morality. That every act contrary to right and justice, deserves to be repressed by force, and punished when committed, equally in the absence of any law or contract: that man naturally recognizes the distinction between the merit and demerit of actions, as he does that between justice and injustice, honesty and dishonesty; and feels, without being taught, and in the absence of law or contract, that it is wrong for vice to be rewarded or go unpunished, and for virtue to be punished or left unrewarded: and that, the Deity being infinitely just and good, it must follow as a necessary and inflexible law that punishment shall be the result of Sin, its inevitable and natural effect and corollary, and not a mere arbitrary vengeance. Qu∴ What is the seventh great Truth in Masonry?
Ans∴ The immutable law of God requires, that besides respecting the absolute rights of others, and being merely just, we should do good, be charitable, and obey the dictates of the generous and noble sentiments of the soul. Charity is a law, because our conscience is not satisfied nor at ease if we have not relieved the suffering, the distressed, and the destitute. It is to give that which he to whom you give has no right to take or demand. To be charitable is obligatory on us. We are the Almoners of God’s bounties. But the obligation is not so precise and inflexible as the obligation to be just. Charity knows neither rule nor limit. It goes beyond all obligation. Its beauty consists in its liberty. “He that loveth not, knoweth not God; FOR GOD IS LOVE. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.” To be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; to relieve the necessities of the needy, and be generous, liberal, and hospitable; to return to no man evil for evil; to rejoice at the good fortune of others, and sympathize with them in their sorrows and reverses; to live peaceably with all men, and repay injuries with benefits and kindness; these are the sublime dictates of the Moral Law, taught from the infancy of the world, by Masonry.
Qu∴ What is the eighth great Truth in Masonry?
Ans∴ That the laws which control and regulate the Universe of God, are those of motion and harmony. We see only the isolated incidents of things, and with our feeble and limited capacity and vision cannot discern their connection, nor the mighty chords that make the apparent discord perfect harmony. Evil is merely apparent, and all is in reality good and perfect. For pain and sorrow, persecution and hardships, affliction and destitution, sickness and death are but the means, by which alone the noblest virtues could be developed. Without them, and without sin and error, and wrong and outrage, as there can be no effect without an adequate cause, there could be neither patience under suffering and distress; nor prudence in difficulty; nor temperance to avoid excess; nor courage to meet danger; nor truth, when to speak the truth is hazardous; nor love, when it is met with ingratitude; nor charity for the needy and destitute; nor forbearance and forgiveness of injuries; nor toleration of erroneous opinions; nor charitable judgment and construction of men’s motives and actions; nor patriotism, nor heroism, nor honor, nor self-denial, nor generosity. These and most other virtues and excellencies would have no existence, and even their names be unknown; and the poor virtues that still existed, would scarce deserve the name; for life would be one fiat, dead, low level, above which none of the lofty elements of human nature would emerge; and man would lie lapped in contented indolence and idleness, a mere worthless negative, instead of the brave, strong soldier against the grim legions of Evil and rude Difficulty.
Qu∴ What is the ninth great Truth in Masonry?
Ans∴ The great leading doctrine of this Degree;–that the JUSTICE, the WISDOM, and the MERCY of God are alike infinite, alike perfect, and yet do not in the least jar nor conflict one with the other; but form a Great Perfect Trinity of Attributes, three and yet one: that, the principle of merit and demerit being absolute, and every good action deserving to be rewarded, and every bad one to be punished, and God being as just as He is good; and yet the cases constantly recurring in this world, in which crime and cruelty, oppression, tyranny, and injustice are prosperous, happy, fortunate, and self-contented, and rule and reign, and enjoy all the blessings of God’s beneficence, while the virtuous and good are unfortunate, miserable, destitute, pining away in dungeons, perishing with cold, and famishing with hunger, slaves of oppression, and instruments and victims of the miscreants that govern; so that this world, if there were no existence beyond it, would be one great theatre of wrong and injustice, proving God wholly disregardful of His own necessary law of merit and demerit;–it follows that there must be another life in which these apparent wrongs shall be repaired: That all the powers of man’s soul tend to infinity; and his indomitable instinct of immortality, and the universal hope of another life, testified by all creeds, all poetry, all traditions, establish its certainty; for man is not an orphan; but hath a Father near at hand: and the day must come when Light and Truth, and the Just and Good shall be victorious, and Darkness, Error, Wrong, and Evil be annihilated, and known no more forever: That the Universe is one great Harmony, in which, according to the faith of all nations, deep-rooted in all hearts in the primitive ages, Light will ultimately prevail over Darkness, and the Good Principle over the Evil: and the myriad souls that have emanated from the Divinity, purified and ennobled by the struggle here below, will again return to perfect bliss in the bosom of God, to offend against Whose laws will then be no longer possible.
Qu∴ What, then, is the one great lesson taught to us, as Masons, in this Degree?
Ans∴ That to that state and realm of Light and Truth and Perfection, which is absolutely certain, all the good men on earth are tending; and if there is a law from whose operation none are exempt, which inevitably conveys their bodies to darkness and to dust, there is another not less certain nor less powerful, which conducts their spirits to that state of Happiness and Splendor and Perfection, the bosom of their Father and their God. The wheels of Nature are not made to roll backward. Everything presses on to Eternity. From the birth of Time an impetuous current has set in, which bears all the sons of men toward that interminable ocean. Meanwhile, Heaven is attracting to itself whatever is congenial to its nature, is enriching itself by the spoils of the Earth, and collecting within its capacious bosom whatever is pure, permanent, and divine, leaving nothing for the last fire to consume but the gross matter that creates concupiscence; while everything fit for that good fortune shall be gathered and selected from the ruins of the world, to adorn that Eternal City.
Let every Mason then obey the voice that calls him thither. Let us seek the things that are above, and be not content with a world that must shortly perish, and which we must speedily quit, while we neglect to prepare for that in which we are invited to dwell forever. While everything within us and around us reminds us of the approach of death, and concurs to teach us that this is not our rest, let us hasten our preparations for another world, and earnestly implore that help and strength from our Father, which alone can put an end to that fatal war which our desires have too long waged with our destiny. When these move in the same direction, and that which God’s will renders unavoidable shall become our choice, all things will be ours; life will be divested of its vanity, and death disarmed of its ‘terrors.
Qu∴ What are the symbols of the purification necessary to make us perfect Masons?
Ans∴ Lavation with pure water, or baptism; because to cleanse the body is emblematical of purifying the soul; and because it conduces to the bodily health, and virtue is the health of the soul, as sin and vice are its malady and sickness:–unction, or anointing with oil; because thereby we are set apart and dedicated to the service and priesthood of the Beautiful, the True, and the Good:–and robes of white, emblems of candor, purity, and truth.
Qu∴ What is to us the chief symbol of man’s ultimate redemption and regeneration?
Ans∴The fraternal supper, of bread which nourishes, and of wine which refreshes and exhilarates, symbolical of the time which is to come, when all mankind shall be one great harmonious brotherhood; and teaching us these great lessons: that as matter changes ever, but no single atom is annihilated, it is not rational to suppose that the far nobler soul does not continue to exist beyond the grave: that many thousands who have died before us might claim to be joint owners with ourselves of the particles that compose our mortal bodies; for matter ever forms new combinations; and the bodies of the ancient dead, the patriarchs before and since the flood, the kings and common people of all ages, resolved into their constituent elements, are carried upon the wind over all continents, and continually enter into and form part of the habitations of new souls, creating new bonds of sympathy and brotherhood between each man that lives and all his race. And thus, in the bread we eat, and in the wine we drink to-night may enter into and form part of us the identical particles of matter that once formed parts of the material bodies called Moses, Confucius, Plato, Socrates, or Jesus of Nazareth. In the truest sense, we eat and drink the bodies of the dead; and cannot say that there is a single atom of our blood or body, the ownership of which some other soul might not dispute with us. It teaches us also the infinite beneficence of God who sends us seed-time and harvest, each in its season, and makes His showers to fall and His sun to shine alike upon the evil and the good: bestowing upon us unsolicited His innumerable blessings, and asking no return. For there are no angels stationed upon the watch-towers of creation to call the world to prayer and sacrifice; but He bestows His benefits in silence, like a kind friend who comes at night, and, leaving his gifts at the door, to be found by us in the morning, goes quietly away and asks no thanks, nor ceases his kind offices for our ingratitude. And thus the bread and wine teach us that our Mortal Body is no more WE than the house in which we live, or the garments that we wear; but the Soul is I, the ONE, identical, unchangeable, immortal emanation from the Deity, to return to God and be forever happy, in His good time; as our mortal bodies, dissolving, return to the elements from which they came, their particles coming and going ever in perpetual genesis. To our Jewish Brethren, this supper is symbolical of the Passover: to the Christian Mason, of that eaten by Christ and His Disciples, when, celebrating the Passover, He broke bread and gave it to them, saying, “Take! eat! this is My body:” and giving them the cup, He said, “Drink ye all of it! for this is My blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins;” thus symbolizing the perfect harmony and union between Himself and the faithful; and His death upon the cross for the salvation of man.
The history of Masonry is the history of Philosophy. Masons do not pretend to set themselves up for instructors of the human race: but, though Asia produced and preserved the Mysteries, Masonry has, in Europe and America, given regularity to their doctrines, spirit, and action, and developed the moral advantages which mankind may reap from them. More consistent, and more simple in its mode of procedure, it has put an end to the vast allegorical pantheon of ancient mythologies, and itself become a science.
None can deny that Christ taught a lofty morality. “Love one another: forgive those that despitefully use you and persecute you: be pure of heart, meek, humble, contented: lay not up riches on earth, but in Heaven: submit to the powers lawfully over you: become like these little children, or ye cannot be saved, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven: forgive the repentant; and cast no stone at the sinner, if you too have sinned: do unto others as ye would have others do unto you:” such, and not abstruse questions of theology, were His simple and sublime teachings.
The early Christians followed in His footsteps. The first preachers of the faith had no thought of domination. Entirely animated by His saying, that he among them should be first, who should serve with the greatest devotion, they were humble, modest, and charitable, and they knew how to communicate this spirit of the inner man to the churches under their direction. These churches were at first but spontaneous meetings of all Christians inhabiting the same locality. A pure and severe morality, mingled with religious enthusiasm, was the characteristic of each, and excited the admiration even of their persecutors. Everything was in common among them; their property, their joys, and their sorrows. In the silence of night they met for instruction and to pray together. Their love-feasts, or fraternal repasts, ended these reunions, in which all differences in social position and rank were effaced in the presence of a paternal Divinity. Their sole object was to make men better, by bringing them back to a simple worship, of which universal morality was the basis; and to end those numerous and cruel sacrifices which everywhere inundated with blood the altars of the gods. Thus did Christianity reform the world, and obey the teachings of its founder. It gave to woman her proper rank and influence; it regulated domestic life; and by admitting the slaves to the love-feasts, it by degrees raised them above that oppression under which half of mankind had groaned for ages.
This, in its purity, as taught by Christ Himself, was the true primitive religion, as communicated by God to the Patriarchs. It was no new religion, but the reproduction of the oldest of all; and its true and perfect morality is the morality of Masonry, as is the morality of every creed of antiquity.
In the early days of Christianity, there was an initiation like those of the pagans. Persons were admitted on special conditions only. To arrive at a complete knowledge of the doctrine, they had to pass three degrees of instruction. The initiates were consequently divided into three classes; the first, Auditors, the second, Catechumens, and the third, the Faithful. The Auditors were a sort of novices, who were prepared by certain ceremonies and certain instruction to receive the dogmas of Christianity. A portion of these dogmas was made known to the Catechumens; who, after particular purifications, received baptism, or the initiation of the theogenesis (divine generation); but in the grand mysteries of that religion, the incarnation, nativity, passion, and resurrection of Christ, none were initiated but the Faithful. These doctrines, and the celebration of the Holy Sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, were kept with profound secrecy. These Mysteries were divided into two parts; the first styled the Mass of the Catechumens; the second, the Mass of the Faithful. The celebration of the Mysteries of Mithras was also styled a mass; and the ceremonies used were the same. There were found all the sacraments of the Catholic Church, even the breath of confirmation. The Priest of Mithras promised the Initiates deliverance from sin, by means of confession and baptism, and a future life of happiness or misery. He celebrated the Oblation of bread, image of the resurrection. The baptism of newly-born children, extreme unction, confession of sins,–all belonged to the Mithriac rites. The candidate was purified by a species of baptism, a mark was impressed upon his forehead, he offered bread and water, pronouncing certain mysterious words.
During the persecutions in the early ages of Christianity, the Christians took refuge in the vast catacombs which stretched for miles in every direction under the city of Rome, and are supposed to have been of Etruscan origin. There, amid labyrinthine windings, deep caverns, hidden chambers, chapels, and tombs, the persecuted fugitives found refuge, and there they performed the ceremonies of the Mysteries.
The Basilideans, a sect of Christians that arose soon after the time of the Apostles, practised the Mysteries, with the old Egyptian legend. They symbolized Osiris by the Sun, Isis by the Moon, and Typhon by Scorpio; and wore crystals bearing these emblems, as amulets or talismans to protect them from danger; upon which were also a brilliant star and the serpent. They were copied from the talismans of Persia and Arabia, and given to every candidate at his initiation.
Irenæus tells us that the Simonians, one of the earliest sects of the Gnostics, had a Priesthood of the Mysteries.
Tertullian tells us that the Valentinians, the most celebrated of all the Gnostic schools, imitated, or rather perverted, the Mysteries of Eleusis. Irenæus informs us, in several curious chapters, of the Mysteries practised by the Marcosians; and Origen gives much information as to the Mysteries of the Ophites; and there is no doubt that all the Gnostic sects had Mysteries and an initiation. They all claimed to possess a secret doctrine, coming to them directly from Jesus Christ, different from that of the Gospels and Epistles, and superior to those communications, which in their eyes, were merely exoteric. This secret doctrine they did not communicate to every one; and among the extensive sect of the Basilideans hardly one in a thousand knew it, as we learn from Irenæus. We know the name of only the highest class of their Initiates. They were styled Elect or Elus [Ἐκλεκτοί] Strangers to the World and [ξένοι ἐν κόσμῳ]. They had at least three Degrees–the Material, the Intellectual, and the Spiritual, and the lesser and greater Mysteries; and the number of those who attained the highest Degree was quite small.
Baptism was one of their most important ceremonies; and the Basilideans celebrated the 10th of January, as the anniversary of the day on which Christ was baptized in Jordan.
They had the ceremony of laying on of hands, by way of purification; and that of the mystic banquet, emblem of that to which they believed the Heavenly Wisdom would one day admit them, in the fullness of things [Πλήρωμα].
Their ceremonies were much more like those of the Christians than those of Greece; but they mingled with them much that was borrowed from the Orient and Egypt: and taught the primitive truths, mixed with a multitude of fantastic errors and fictions.
The discipline of the secret was the concealment (occultatio) of certain tenets and ceremonies. So says Clemens of Alexandria.
To avoid persecution, the early Christians were compelled to use great precaution, and to hold meetings of the Faithful [of the Household of Faith] in private places, under concealment by darkness. They assembled in the night, and they guarded against the intrusion of false brethren and profane persons, spies who might cause their arrest. They conversed together figuratively, and by the use of symbols, lest cowans and eavesdroppers might overhear: and there existed among them a favored class, or Order, who were initiated into certain Mysteries which they were bound by solemn promise not to disclose, or even converse about, except with such as had received them under the same sanction. They were called Brethren, the Faithful, Stewards of the Mysteries, Superintendents, Devotees of the Secret, and ARCHITECTS.
In the Hierarchiæ, attributed to St. Dionysius the Areopagite, the first Bishop of Athens, the tradition of the sacrament is said to have been divided into three Degrees, or grades, purification, initiation, and accomplishment or perfection; and it mentions also, as part of the ceremony, the bringing to sight.
The Apostolic Constitutions, attributed to Clemens, Bishop of Rome, describe the early church, and say: “These regulations must on no account be communicated to all sorts of persons, because of the Mysteries contained in them.” They speak of the Deacon’s duty to keep the doors, that none uninitiated should enter at the oblation. Ostiarii, or doorkeepers, kept guard, and gave notice of the time of prayer and church-assemblies; and also by private signal, in times of persecution, gave notice to those within, to en-able them to avoid danger. The Mysteries were open to the Fideles or Faithful only; and no spectators were allowed at the communion.
Tertullian, who died about A. D. 216, says in his Apology: “None are admitted to the religious Mysteries without an oath of secrecy. We appeal to your Thracian and Eleusinian Mysteries; and we are especially bound to this caution, because if we prove faithless, we should not only provoke Heaven, but draw upon our heads the utmost rigor of human displeasure. And should strangers betray us? They know nothing but by report and hearsay. Far hence, ye Profane! is the prohibition from all holy Mysteries.”
Clemens, Bishop of Alexandria, born about A. D. 191, says, in his Stromata, that he cannot explain the Mysteries, because he should thereby, according to the old proverb, put a sword into the hands of a child. He frequently compares the Discipline of the Secret with the heathen Mysteries, as to their internal and recondite wisdom.
Whenever the early Christians happened to be in company with strangers, more properly termed the Profane, they never spoke of their sacraments, but indicated to one another what they meant by means of symbols and secret watchwords, disguisedly, and as by direct communication of mind with mind, and by enigmas.
Origen, born A. D. 134 or 135, answering Celsus, who had objected that the Christians had a concealed doctrine said: “Inasmuch as the essential and important doctrines and principles of Christianity are openly taught, it is foolish to object that there are other things that are recondite; for this is common to Christian discipline with that of those philosophers in whose teaching some things were exoteric and some esoteric: and it is enough to say that it was so with some of the disciples of Pythagoras.”
The formula which the primitive church pronounced at the moment of celebrating its Mysteries, was this: “Depart, ye Profane! Let the Catechumens, and those who have not been admitted or initiated, go forth.”
Archelaus, Bishop of Cascara in Mesopotamia, who, in the year 278, conducted a controversy with the Manichæans, said: “These Mysteries the church now communicates to him who has passed through the introductory Degree. They are not explained to the Gentiles at all; nor are they taught openly in the hearing of Catechumens; but much that is spoken is in disguised terms, that the Faithful [Πιστοί], who possess the knowledge, may be still more informed, and those who are not acquainted with it, may suffer no disadvantage.”
Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, was born in the year 315, and died in 386. In his Catechesis he says: “The Lord spake in parables to His hearers in general; but to His disciples He explained in private the parables and allegories which He spoke in public. The splendor of glory is for those who are early enlightened: obscurity and darkness are the portion of the unbelievers and ignorant. Just so the church discovers its Mysteries to those who have advanced beyond the class of Catechumens: we employ obscure terms with others.”
St. Basil, the Great Bishop of Cæsarea, born in the year 326, and dying in the year 376, says: “We receive the dogmas transmitted to us by writing, and those which have descended to us from the Apostles, beneath the mystery of oral tradition: for several things have been handed to us without writing, lest the vulgar, too familiar with our dogmas, should lose a due respect for them. . . . This is what the uninitiated are not permitted to contemplate; and how should it ever be proper to write and circulate among the people an account of them?”
St. Gregory Nazianzen, Bishop of Constantinople, A. D. 379, says: “You have heard as much of the Mystery as we are allowed to speak openly in the ears of all; the rest will be communicated to you in private; and that you must retain within yourself. . . . Our Mysteries are not to be made known to strangers.”
St. Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan, who was born in 340, and died in 393, says in his work De Mysteriis: “All the Mystery should be kept concealed, guarded by faithful silence, lest it should be inconsiderately divulged to the ears of the Profane. . . . . It is not given to all to contemplate the depths of our Mysteries . . . . that they may not be seen by those who ought not to behold them; nor received by those who cannot preserve them.” And in another work: “He sins against God, who divulges to the unworthy the Mysteries confided to him. The danger is not merely in violating truth, but in telling truth, if he allow himself to give hints of them to those from whom they ought to be concealed . . . . Beware of casting pearls before swine! . . . . Every Mystery ought to be kept secret; and, as it were, to be covered over by silence, lest it should rashly be divulged to the ears of the Profane. Take heed that you do not incautiously reveal the Mysteries!”
St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, who was born in 347, and died in 430, says in one of his discourses: “Having dismissed the Catechumens, we have retained you only to be our hearers; because, besides those things which belong to all Christians in common, we are now to discourse to you of sublime Mysteries, which none are qualified to hear, but those who, by the Master’s favor, are made partakers of them. . . . . To have taught them openly, would have been to betray them.” And he refers to the Ark of the Covenant, and says that it signified a Mystery, or secret of God, shadowed over by the cherubim of glory, and honored by being veiled.
St. Chrysostom and St. Augustine speak of initiation more than fifty times. St. Ambrose writes to those who are initiated; and initiation was not merely baptism, or admission into the church, but it referred to initiation into the Mysteries. To the baptized and initiated the Mysteries of religion were unveiled; they were kept secret from the Catechumens; who were permitted to hear the Scriptures read and the ordinary discourses delivered, in which the Mysteries, reserved for the Faithful, were never treated of. When the services and prayers were ended, the Catechumens and spectators all withdrew.
Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, was born in 354, and died in 417. He says: “I wish to speak openly: but I dare not, on account of those who are not initiated. I shall therefore avail myself of disguised terms, discoursing in a shadowy manner. . . Where the holy Mysteries are celebrated, we drive away all uninitiated persons, and then close the doors.” He mentions the acclamations of the initiated; “which,” he says, “I here pass over in silence; for it is forbidden to disclose such things to the Profane.” Palladius, in his life of Chrysostom, records, as a great outrage, that, a tumult having been excited against him by his enemies, they forced their way into the penetralia, where the uninitiated beheld what was not proper for them to see; and Chrysostom mentions the same circumstance in his epistle to Pope Innocent.
St. Cyril of Alexandria, who was made Bishop in 412, and died in 444, says in his 7th Book against Julian: “These Mysteries are so profound and so exalted, that they can be comprehended by those only who are enlightened. I shall not, therefore, attempt to speak of what is so admirable in them, lest by discovering them to the uninitiated, I should offend against the injunction not to give what is holy to the impure, nor cast pearls before such as cannot estimate their worth. . . . I should say much more, if I were not afraid of being heard by those who are uninitiated: because men are apt to deride what they do not understand. And the ignorant, not being aware of the weakness of their minds, condemn what they ought most to venerate.”
Theodoret, Bishop of Cyropolis in Syria, was born in 393, and made Bishop in 420. In one of his three Dialogues, called the Immutable, he introduces Orthodoxus, speaking thus: “Answer me, if you please, in mystical or obscure terms: for perhaps there are some persons present who are not initiated into the Mysteries.” And in his preface to Ezekiel, tracing up the secret discipline to the commencement of the Christian era, he says: “These Mysteries are so august, that we ought to keep them with the greatest caution.”
Minucius Felix, an eminent lawyer of Rome, who lived in 212, and wrote a defence of Christianity, says: “Many of them [the Christians] know each other by tokens and signs (notis et insignibus), and they form a friendship for each other, almost before they become acquainted.”
The Latin Word, tessera, originally meant a square piece of wood or stone, used in making tesselated pavements; afterward a tablet on which anything was written, and then a cube or die. Its most general use was to designate a piece of metal or wood, square in shape, on which the watchword of an Army was inscribed; whence tessera came to mean the watchword itself. There was also a tessera hospitalis, which was a piece of wood cut into two parts, as a pledge of friendship. Each party kept one of the parts; and they swore mutual fidelity by Jupiter. To break the tessera was considered a dissolution of the friendship. The early Christians used it as a Mark, the watchword of friendship. With them it was generally in the shape of a fish, and made of bone. On its face was inscribed the word Ἰχθῦς, a fish, the initials of which represented the Greek words, Ιησοῦς Χριστὸς Θεοῦ Υἱὸς Σωτήρ; Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour.
St. Augustine (de Fide et Symbolis) says: “This is the faith which in a few words is given to the Novices to be kept by a symbol; these few words are known to all the Faithful; that by believing they may be submissive to God; by being thus submissive, they may live rightly; by living rightly, they may purify their hearts and with a pure heart may understand what they believe.”
Maximus Taurinus says: “The tessera is a symbol and sign by which to distinguish between the Faithful and the Profane.”
There are three Degrees in Blue Masonry; and in addition to the two words of two syllables each, embodying the binary, three, of three syllables each. There were three Grand Masters, the two Kings, and Khir-Om the Artificer. The candidate gains admission by three raps, and three raps call up the Brethren. There are three principal officers of the Lodge, three lights at the Altar, three gates of the Temple, all in the East, West, and South. The three lights represent the Sun, the Moon, and Mercury; Osiris, Isis, and Horus; the Father, the Mother, and the Child; Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty; Hakamah, Binah, and Daath; Gedulah, Geburah, and Tepareth. The candidate makes three circuits of the Lodge: there were three assassins of Khir-Om, and he was slain by three blows while seeking to escape by the three gates of the Temple. The ejaculation at his grave was repeated three times. There are three divisions of the Temple, and three, five, and seven Steps. A Master works with Chalk, Charcoal, and a vessel of Clay; there are three movable and three immovable jewels. The Triangle appears among the Symbols: the two parallel lines enclosing the circle are connected at top, as are the Columns Jachin and Boaz, symbolizing the equilibrium which explains the great Mysteries of Nature.
This continual reproduction of the number three is not accidental, nor without a profound meaning: and we shall find the same repeated in all the Ancient philosophies.
The Egyptian Gods formed Triads, the third member in each proceeding from the other two. Thus we have the Triad of Thebes, Amun, Maut, and Kharso; that of Philae, Osiris, Isis, and Horns; that of Elephantine_ and the Cataracts, Neph, Sate, and Anouke_.
Osiris, Isis, and Horus were the Father, Mother, and Son; the latter being Light, the Soul of the World, the Son, the Protogonos or First-Begotten.
Sometimes this Triad was regarded as SPIRIT, or the active Principle or Generative Power; MATTER, or the PASSIVE Principle or Productive Capacity; and the Universe, which proceeds from the two Principles.
We also find in Egypt this Triad or Trinity; Ammon-Ra, the Creator; Osiris-Ra, the Giver of Fruitfulness; Horus-Ra, the Queller of Light; symbolized by the Summer, Autumn, and Spring Sun. For the Egyptians had but three Seasons, the three gates of the Temple; and on account of the different effects of the Sun on those three Seasons, the Deity appears in these three forms.
The Phœnician Trinity was Ulomos, Chusoros, and the Egg out of which the Universe proceeded.
The Chaldæan Triad consisted of Bel, [the Persian Zervana Akherana], Oromasdes, and Ahriman; the Good and Evil Principle alike outflowing from the Father, by their equilibrium and alternating preponderance to produce harmony. Each was to rule, in turn, for equal periods, until finally the Evil Principle should itself become good.
The Chaldæan and Persian oracles of Zoroaster give us the Triad, Fire, Light, and Ether.
Orpheus celebrates the Triad of Phanes, Ouranos, and Kronos. Corry says the Orphic Trinity consisted of Metis, Phanes, and Ericapaeus; Will, Light or Love, and Life. Acusilaus makes it consist of Metis, Eros, and Æther: Will, Love, and Ether. Phereycides of Syros, of Fire, Water, and Air or Spirit. In the two former we readily recognize Osiris and Isis, the Sun and the Nile.
The first three of the Persian Amshaspands were BAHMAN, the Lord of LIGHT; Ardibehest, the Lord of FIRE; and Shariver, the Lord of SPLENDOR. These at once lead us back to the Kabala.
Plutarch says: “The better and diviner nature consists of three; the Intelligible (i.e. that which exists within the Intellect only as yet), and Matter; το Νοητος and Ὕλη, and that which proceeds from these, which the Greeks call Kosmos: of which Plato calls the Intelligible, the Idea, the Exemplar, the Father: Matter, the Mother, the Nurse, and the receptacle and place of generation: and the issue of these two, the Offspring and Genesis.”
The Pythagorean fragments say: “Therefore, before the Heaven was made, there existed Idea and Matter, and God the Demiourgos [workman or active instrument], of the former. He made the world out of matter, perfect, only-begotten, with a soul and intellect, and constituted it a divinity.”
Plato gives us Thought, the Father; Primitive Matter, the Mother; and Kosmos, the Son, the issue of the two Principles. Kosmos is the ensouled Universe.
With the later Platonists, the Triad was Potence, Intellect, and Spirit, Philo represents Sanchoniathon’s as Fire, Light, and Flame, the three Sons of Genos; but this is the Alexandrian, not the Phœnician idea.
Aurelius says the Demiourgos or Creator is triple, and the three Intellects are the three Kings: He who exists; He who possesses; He who beholds. The first is that which exists by its essence; the second exists in the first, and contains or possesses in itself the Universal of things; all that afterward becomes: the third beholds this Universal, formed and fashioned intellectually, and so having a separate existence. The Third exists in the Second, and the Second in the First.
The most ancient Trinitarian doctrine on record is that of the Brahmins. The Eternal Supreme Essence, called PARABRAHMA, BRAHM, PARATMA, produced the Universe by self-reflection, and first revealed himself as BRAHMA, the Creating Power, then as VISHNU, the Preserving Power, and lastly as SIVA, the Destroying and Renovating Power; the three Modes in which the Supreme Essence reveals himself in the material Universe; but which soon came to be regarded as three distinct Deities. These three Deities they styled the TRIMURTI, or TRIAD.
The Persians received from the Indians the doctrine of the three principles, and changed it to that of a principle of Life, which was individualized by the Sun, and a principle of Death, which was symbolized by cold and darkness; parallel of the moral world; and in which the continual and alternating struggle between light and darkness, life and death, seemed but a phase of the great struggle between the good and evil principles, embodied in the legend of ORMUZD and AHRIMAN. MITHRAS, a Median reformer, was deified after his death, and invested with the attributes of the Sun; the different astronomical phenomena being figuratively detailed as actual incidents of his life; in the same manner as the history of BUDDHA was invented among the Hindu_s.
The Trinity of the Hindu_s became among the Ethiopians and Abyssinians NEPH-AMON, PHTHA, and NEITH–the God CREATOR, whose emblem was a ram–MATTER, or the primitive mud, symbolized by a globe or an egg, and THOUGHT, or the LIGHT which contains the germ of everything; triple manifestation of one and the same God (ATHOM), considered in three aspects, as the creative power, goodness, and wisdom. Other Deities were speedily invented; and among them OSIRIS, represented by the Sun, Isis, his wife, by the Moon or Earth, TYPHON, his Brother, the Principle of Evil and Darkness, who was the son of Osiris and Isis. And the Trinity of OSIRIS, ISIS, and HORUS became subsequently the Chief Gods and objects of worship of the Egyptians.
The ancient Etruscans (a race that emigrated from the Rhætian Alps into Italy, along whose route evidences of their migration have been discovered, and whose language none have yet succeeded in reading) acknowledged only one Supreme God; but they had images for His different attributes, and temples to these images. Each town had one National Temple, dedicated to the three great attributes of God, STRENGTH, RICHES, and WISDOM, or Tina, Talna, and Minerva. The National Deity was always a Triad under one roof; and it was the same in Egypt, where one Supreme God alone was acknowledged, but was worshipped as a Triad, with different names in each different home. Each city in Etruria might have as many gods and gates and temples as it pleased; but three sacred gates, and one Temple to three Divine Attributes were obligatory, wherever the laws of Tages (or Taunt or Thoth) were received. The only gate that remains in Italy, of the olden time, undestroyed, is the Porta del Circo at Volterra; and it has upon it the three heads of the three National Divinities, one upon the keystone of its magnificent arch, and one above each side-pillar.
The Buddhists hold that the God SAKYA of the Hindu_s, called in Ceylon, GAUTAMA, in India beyond the Ganges, SOMONAKODOM, and in China, CHY-KIA, or FO, constituted a Trinity [TRIRATNA], of BUDDHA, DHARMA, and SANGA,–Intelligence, Law, and Union or Harmony.
The Chinese Sabæans represented the Supreme Deity as composed of CHANG-TI, the Supreme Sovereign; TIEN, the Heavens; and TAO, the Universal Supreme Reason and Principle of Faith; and that from Chaos, an immense silence, an immeasurable void. without perceptible forms, alone, infinite, immutable, moving in a circle in illimitable space, without change or alteration, when vivified by the Principle of Truth, issued all Beings, under the influence of TAO, Principle of Faith, who produced one, one produced two, two produced three, and three produced all that is.
The Sclavono-Vendes typified the Trinity by the three heads of the God TRIGLAV; and the Pruczi or Prussians by the Tri-une God, PERKOUN, PIKOLLOS, and POTRIMPOS, the Deities of Light and Thunder, of Hell and the Earth, its fruits and animals: and the Scandinavians by ODIN, FREA, and THOR.
In the KABALAH, or the Hebrew traditional philosophy, the Infinite Deity, beyond the reach of the Human Intellect, and without Name, Form, or Limitation, was represented as developing Himself, in order to create, and by self-limitation, in ten emanations or out-flowings, called SEPHIROTH, or rays. The first of these, in the world AZILUTH, that is, within the Deity, was KETHER, or the Crown, by which we understand the Divine Will or Potency. Next came, as a pair, HAKEMAH and BAINAH, ordinarily translated “Wisdom” and “Intelligence,” the former termed the FATHER, and the latter the MOTHER. HAKEMAH is the active Power or Energy of Deity, by which He produces within Himself Intellection or Thinking: and BAINAH, the passive Capacity, from which, acted on by the Power, the Intellection flows. This Intellection is called DAATH: and it is the “WORD,” of Plato and the Gnostics; the unuttered word, within the Deity. Here is the origin of the Trinity of the Father, the Mother or Holy Spirit, and the Son or Word.
Another Trinity was composed of the fourth Sephirah, GEDULAH or KHASED, Benignity or Mercy, also termed FATHER (Aba); the fifth, GEBURAH, Severity or Strict Justice, also termed the MOTHER (Imma); and the sixth, the SON or Issue of these, TIPHARETH, Beauty or Harmony. “Everything,” says the SOHAR, “proceeds according to the Mystery of the Balance”–that is, by the equilibrium of Opposites: and thus from the Infinite Mercy and the Infinite Justice, in equilibrium, flows the perfect Harmony of the Universe. Infinite POWER, which is Lawless, and Infinite WISDOM, in Equilibrium, also produce BEAUTY or HARMONY, as Son, Issue, or Result–the Word, or utterance of the Thought of God. Power and Justice or Severity are the same: Wisdom and Mercy or Benignity are the same;–in the Infinite Divine Nature.
According to Philo of Alexandria, the Supreme Being, Primitive Light or Archetype of Light, uniting with WISDOM [Σοφια], the mother of Creation, forms in Himself the types of all things, and acts upon the Universe through the WORD [Λογος . . Logos], who dwells in God, and in whom all His powers and attributes develop themselves; a doctrine borrowed by him from Plato.
Simon Magus and his disciples taught that the Supreme Being or Centre of Light produced first of all, three couples of united existences, of both sexes, [Συζυγίας; … Suzugias], which were the origins of all things: REASON and INVENTIVENESS; SPEECH and THOUGHT; CALCULATION and REFLECTION: [Νοῦς and Επίνοια, Φωνή and Εννοια, Λογισμὸς; and Ενθύμησις; . . . Nöus and Epinoia, Pho_ne and Ennoia, Logismos and Enthume_sis]; of which Ennoia or WISDOM was the first produced, and Mother of all that exists.
Other Disciples of Simon, and with them most of the Gnostics, adopting and modifying the doctrine, taught that the Πλήρωμα . . Plero_ma, or PLENITUDE of Superior Intelligences, having the Supreme Being at their head, was composed of eight Eons [Αἰώνης . . Aio_nes] of different sexes; . . PROFUNDITY and SILENCE; SPIRIT and TRUTH; the WORD and LIFE; MAN and the CHURCH: [Βυθὸς; and Σιγὴ; Πνεῦμα and Αλήθεια; Λόγος; and Ζωή; Ἄνθρωπος; and Ἐκκλησία . . . . Buthos and Sige_; Pneuma and Aletheia; Logos and Zo_e; Anthro_pos and Ekkle_sia].
Bardesanes, whose doctrines the Syrian Christians long embraced, taught that the unknown Father, happy in the Plenitude of His Life and Perfections, first produced a Companion for Himself [Σύζυγος . . . Suzugos], whom He placed in the Celestial Paradise and who became, by Him, the Mother of CHRISTOS, Son of the Living God: i.e. (laying aside the allegory), that the Eternal conceived, in the silence of His decrees, the Thought of revealing Himself by a Being who should be His image or His Son: that to the Son succeeded his Sister and Spouse, the Holy Spirit, and they produced four Spirits of the elements, male and female, Maio and Jabseho, Nouro and Rucho; then Seven Mystic Couples of Spirits, and Heaven and Earth, and all that is; then seven spirits governing the planets, twelve governing the Constellations of the Zodiac, and thirty-six Starry Intelligences whom he called Deacons: while the Holy Spirit [Sophia Achamoth], being both the Holy Intelligence and the Soul of the physical world, went from the Plero_ma into that material world and there mourned her degradation, until CHRISTOS, her former spouse, coming to her with his Divine Light and Love, guided her in the way to purification, and she again united herself with him as his primitive Companion.
Basilides, the Christian Gnostic, taught that there were seven emanations from the Supreme Being: The First-born, Thought, the Word, Reflection, Wisdom, Power, and Righteousness [Πρωτογονος, Νους, Λογος, Φρονησις, Σοφια, Δυναμυς, and Δικαιοσύνη Protogonos, Nous, Logos, Phronesis, Sophia, Dunamis, and Dikarosune_]; from whom emanated other Intelligences in succession, to the number, in all, of three hundred and sixty-five; which were God manifested, and composed the Plenitude of the Divine Emanations, or the God Abraxas; of which the Thought [or Intellect, Νους . . Nous] united itself, by baptism in the river Jordan, with the man Jesus, servant [Διάκονος . . . Diakonos] of the human race; but did not suffer with Him; and the disciples of Basilides taught that the Νοῦς, put on the appearance only of humanity, and that Simon of Cyrene was crucified in His stead and ascended into Heaven.
Basilides held that out of the unrevealed God, who is at the head of the world of emanations, and exalted above all conception or designation [Ὁ ἀκατονόμαστος, ἄῤῥητος] were evolved seven living, self-subsistent, ever-active hypostatized powers:
FIRST: THE INTELLECTUAL POWERS.
|1st. Nous||Νοῦς||The Mind.|
|2d. Logos||Λόγος||The Reason.|
|3d. Phronesis||Φρόνησις||The Thinking Power.|
SECOND: THE ACTIVE OR OPERATIVE POWER.
|5th. Dunamis||Δυναμις||Might, accomplishing the purposes of Wisdom.|
THIRD: THE MORAL ATTRIBUTES.
|6th. Dikaiosune_||Δικαιοσύνη||Holiness or Moral Perfection.|
|7th. Eire_ne_||Εἰρήνη||Inward Tranquility.|
These Seven Powers (Δυνάμεις . . Dunameis), with the Primal Ground out of which they were evolved, constituted in his scheme the Πρωτη Ὀγδοὰς [Prote Ogdoas], or First Octave, the root of all Existence. From this point, the spiritual life proceeded to evolve out of itself continually many gradations of existence, each lower one being still the impression, the antetype, of the immediate higher one. He supposed there were 365 of these regions or gradations, expressed by the mystical word Αβραξας [Abraxas].
The Αβραξας is thus interpreted, by the usual method of reckoning Greek letters numerically. . . . α, 1 . . β, 2 . . ρ, 100 . . α, 1 . . ξ, 60 . . α, 1 . . ς, 200=365: which is the whole Emanation-World, as the development of the Supreme Being.
In the system of Basilides, Light, Life, Soul, and Good were opposed to Darkness, Death, Matter, and Evil, throughout the whole course of the Universe.
According to the Gnostic view, God was represented as the immanent, incomprehensible and original source of all perfection; the unfathomable ABYSS (βυθος . . buthos), according to Valentinus, exalted above all possibility of designation; of whom, properly speaking, nothing can be predicated; the ἀκατονόμαστος of Basilides, the ὢν of Philo. From this incomprehensible Essence of God, an immediate transition to finite things is inconceivable. Self-limitation is the first beginning of a communication of life on the part of God–the first passing of the hidden Deity into manifestation; and from this proceeds all further self-developing manifestation of the Divine Essence. From this primal link in the chain of life there are evolved, in the first place, the manifold powers or attributes inherent in the divine Essence, which, until that first self-comprehension, were all hidden in the Abyss of His Essence. Each of these attributes presents the whole divine Essence under one particular aspect; and to each, therefore, in this respect, the title of God may appropriately be applied. These Divine Powers evolving themselves to self-subsistence, become thereupon the germs and principles of all further developments of life. The life contained in them unfolds and individualizes itself more and more, but in such a way that the successive grades of this evolution of life continually sink lower and lower; the spirits become feebler, the further they are removed from the first link in the series.
The first manifestation they termed πρῶτη κατάληψις ἑαυτοῦ [prote_ katale_psis heautou] or πρῶτον καταληπτὸν τοῦ θεου [proton Katale_pton tou Theou]; which was hypostatically represented in a νοῦς or λόγος, [Nous or Logos].
In the Alexandrian Gnosis, the Platonic notion of the ὕλη [Hule_] predominates. This is the dead, the unsubstantial–the boundary that limits from without the evolution of life in its gradually advancing progression, whereby the Perfect is ever evolving itself into the less Perfect. This ὕλη again, is represented under various images;–at one time as the darkness that exists alongside of the light; at another, as the void [κένωμα, κενὸν. . . . Kenoma, Kenon], in opposition to the Fullness, [Πλήρωμα . . . . Ple_roma] of the Divine Life; or as the shadow that accompanies the light; or as the chaos, or the sluggish, stagnant, dark water. This matter, dead in itself, possesses by its own nature no inherent tendency; as life of every sort is foreign to it, itself makes no encroachment on the Divine. As, however, the evolutions of the Divine Life (the essences developing themselves out of the progressive emanation) become feebler, the further they are removed from the first link in the series; and as their connection with the first becomes looser at each successive step, there arises at the last step of the evolution, an imperfect, defective product, which, unable to retain its connection with the chain of Divine Life, sinks from the World of Eons into the material chaos: or, according to the same notion, somewhat differently expressed [according to the Ophites and to Bardesanes], a drop from the fullness of the Divine life bubbles over into the bordering void. Hereupon the dead matter, by commixture with the living principle, which it wanted, first of all receives animation. But, at the same time, also, the divine, the living, becomes corrupted by mingling with the chaotic mass. Existence now multiplies itself. There arises a subordinate, defective life; there is ground for a new world; a creation starts into being, beyond the confines of the world of emanation. But, on the other hand, since the chaotic principle of matter has acquired vitality, there now arises a more distinct and more active opposition to the God-like–a barely negative, blind, ungodly nature-power, which obstinately resists all influence of the Divine; hence, as products of the spirit of the ὕλη, (of the πνεῦμα ὕλικον . . Pneuma Hulikon), are Satan, malignant spirits, wicked men, in none of whom is there any reason-able or moral principle, or any principle of a rational will; but blind passions alone have the ascendandy. In them there is the same conflict, as the scheme of Platonism supposes, between the soul under the guidance of Divine reason [the νοῦς. . . Nous], and the soul blindly resisting reason–between the πρόνοια [pronoia] and the αναγη [anage_], the Divine Principle and the natural.
The Syrian Gnosis assumed the existence of an active, turbulent kingdom of evil, or of darkness, which, by its encroachments on the kingdom of light, brought about a commixture of the light with the darkness, of the God-like with the ungodlike.
Even among the Platonists, some thought that along with an organized, inert matter, the substratum of the corporeal world, there existed from the beginning a blind, lawless motive power, an ungodlike soul, as its original motive and active principle. As the inorganic matter was organized into a corporeal world, by the plastic power of the Deity, so, by the same power, law and reason were communicated to that turbulent, irrational soul. Thus the chaos of the ὕλη was transformed into an organized world, and that blind soul into a rational principle, a mundane soul, animating the Universe. As from the latter proceeds all rational, spiritual life in humanity, so from the former proceeds all that is irrational, all that is under the blind sway of passion and appetite; and all malignant spirits are its progeny.
In one respect all the Gnostics agreed: they all held; that there was a world purely emanating out of the vital development of God, a creation evolved directly out of the Divine Essence, far exalted above any outward creation produced by God’s plastic power, and conditioned by pre-existing matter. They agreed in holding that the framer of this lower world was not the Father of that higher world of emanation; but the Demiurge [Δεμιουργος], a being of a kindred nature with the Universe framed and governed by him, and far inferior to that higher system and the Father of it.
But some, setting out from ideas which had long prevailed among certain Jews of Alexandria, supposed that the Supreme God created and governed the world by His ministering spirits, by the angels. At the head of these angels stood one who had the direction and control of all; therefore called the Artificer and Governor of the World. This Demiurge they compared with the plastic, animating mundane spirit of Plato and Platonists [the δεύτερος θεὸς . . Deuteros Theos; the θεὸς γενητὸς; Theos Genetos], who, moreover, according to the Timæus of Plato, strives to represent the IDEA of the Divine Reason, in that which is becoming (as contradistinguished from that which is) and temporal. This angel is a representative of the Supreme God, on the lower stage of existence: he does not act independently, but merely according to the ideas inspired in him by the Supreme God; just as the plastic, mundane soul of the Platonists creates all things after the pattern of the ideas communicated by the Supreme Reason [Νοῦς. . . . Nous–the ὅ ἔστι ζῶον . . . . ho esti zo_on–the; παράδειγμα . . . paradeigma, of the Divine Reason hypostatized]. But these ideas transcend his limited essence; he cannot understand them; he is merely their unconscious organ; and therefore is unable himself to comprehend the whole scope and meaning of the work which he performs. As an organ under the guidance of a higher inspiration, he reveals higher truths than he himself can comprehend. The mass of the Jews, they held, recognized not the angel, by whom, in all the Theophanies of the Old Testament, God revealed Himself; they knew not the Demiurge in his true relation to the hidden Supreme God, who never reveals Himself in the sensible world. They confounded the type and the archetype, the symbol and the idea. They rose no higher than the Demiurge; they took him to be the Supreme God Himself. But the spiritual men among them, on the contrary, clearly perceived, or at least divined, the ideas veiled under Judaism; they rose beyond the Demiurge, to a knowledge of the Supreme God; and are therefore properly His worshippers [θεραπευταί . . Therapeutai].
Other Gnostics, who had not been followers of the Mosaic religion, but who had, at an earlier period, framed to themselves an oriental Gnosis, regarded the Demiurge as a being absolutely hostile to the Supreme God. He and his angels, notwithstanding their finite nature, wish to establish their independence: they will tolerate no foreign rule within their realm. Whatever of a higher nature descends into their kingdom, they seek to hold imprisoned there, lest it should raise itself above their narrow precincts. Probably, in this system, the kingdom of the Demiurgic Angels corresponded, for the most part, with that of the deceitful Star-Spirits, who seek to rob man of his freedom, to beguile him by various arts of deception, and who exercise a tyrannical sway over the things of this world. Accordingly, in the system of these Sabæans, the seven Planet-Spirits, and the twelve Star-Spirits of the zodiac, who sprang from an irregular connection between the cheated Fetahil and the Spirit of Darkness, play an important part in everything that is bad. The Demiurge is a limited and limiting being, proud, jealous, and revengeful; and this his character betrays itself in the Old Testament, which, the Gnostics held, came from him. They transferred to the Demiurge himself, whatever in the idea of God, as presented by the Old Testament, appeared to them defective. Against his will and rule the ὕλη was continually rebelling, revolting without control against the dominion which he, the fashioner, would exercise over it, casting off the yoke imposed on it, and destroying the work he had begun. The same jealous being, limited in his power, ruling with despotic sway, they imagined they saw in nature. He strives to check the germination of the divine seeds of life which the Supreme God of Holiness and Love, who has no connection whatever with the sensible world, has scattered among men. That perfect God was at most known and worshipped in Mysteries by a few spiritual men.
The Gospel of St. John is in great measure a polemic against the Gnostics, whose different sects, to solve the great problems, the creation of a material world by an immaterial Being, the fall of man, the incarnation, the redemption and restoration of the spirits called men, admitted a long series of intelligences, intervening in a series of spiritual operations; and which they designated by the names, The Beginning, the Word, the Only-Begotten, Life, Light, and Spirit [Ghost]: in Greek, Ἀρκή, Λόγος, Μονογενής, Ζωή, Φῶςand Πνευμα [Arche_, Logos, Monogene_s, Zo_e, Pho_s, and Pneuma]. St. John, at the beginning of his Gospel, avers that it was Jesus Christ who existed in the Beginning; that He was the WORD of God by which everything was made; that He was the Only-Begotten, the Life and the Light, and that He diffuses among men the Holy Spirit [or Ghost], the Divine Life and Light.
So the Ple_roma [Πλήρωμα], Plenitude or Fullness, was a favorite term with the Gnostics, and Truth and Grace were the Gnostic Eons; and the Simonians, Doke_te_s, and other Gnostics held that the Eon Christ Jesus was never really, but only apparently clothed with a human body: but St. John replies that the Word did really become Flesh, and dwelt among us; and that in Him were the Ple_roma and Truth and Grace.
In the doctrine of Valentinus, reared a Christian at Alexandria, God was a perfect Being, an Abyss [Βυθὸς . . Buthos], which no intelligence could sound, because no eye could reach the invisible and ineffable heights on which He dwelt, and no mind could comprehend the duration of His existence; He has always been; He is the Primitive Father and Beginning [the Προπάτωρand Προαρχὴ . . Propato_r and Proarche_]: He will BE always, and does not grow old. The development of His Perfections produced the intellectual world. After having passed infinite ages in repose and silence, He manifested Himself by His Thought, source of all His manifestations, and which received from Him the germ of His creations. Being of His Being, His Thought [Ἔννοια . . Ennoia] is also termed Χάρις; [Charis], Grace or Joy, and Σιγή or Ἄρρητον [Sige_ or Arre_ton], Silence or the Ineffable. Its first manifestation was Νους [Nous], the Intelligence, first of the Eons, commencement of all things, first revelation of the Divinity, the Μονογενὴς [Monogene_s], or Only-Begotten: next, Truth [Ἀλήθεια . . Ale_theia], his companion. Their manifestations were the Word [Λόγος. . Logos] and Life [Ζωὴ . . Zoe_]; and theirs, Man and the Church [Ανθροπος and Ἐκκλησία . . Anthro_pos and Ekkle_sia]: and from these, other twelve, six of whom were Hope, Faith, Charity, Intelligence, Happiness, and Wisdom; or, in the Hebrew, Kesten, Kina, Amphe, Ouananim, Thaedes, and Oubina. The harmony of the Eons, struggling to know and be united to the Primitive God, was disturbed, and to redeem and restore them, the Intelligence [Νοῦς] produced Christ and the Holy Spirit His companion; who restored them to their first estate of happiness and harmony; and thereupon they formed the Eon Jesus, born of a Virgin, to whom the Christos united himself in baptism, and who, with his Companion Sophia-Achamoth, saved and redeemed the world.
The Marcosians taught that the Supreme Deity produced by His words the Λόγος [Logos] or Plenitude of Eons: His first utterance was a syllable of four letters, each of which became a being; His second of four, His third of ten, and His fourth of twelve: thirty in all, which constituted the Πλήρωμα [Ple_roma].
The Valentinians, and others of the Gnostics, distinguished three orders of existences:–1st. The divine germs of life, exalted by their nature above matter, and akin to the Σοφία [Sophia], to the mundane soul and to the Ple_roma:–the spiritual natures, φύσεις πνευματικαί [Phuseis Pneumatikai]: 2d. The natures originating in the life, divided from the former by the mixture of the ὕλη–the psychical natures, φύσεις ψυχικαὶ [Phuseis Psuchikai]; with which begins a perfectly new order of existence, an image of that higher mind and system, in a subordinate grade; and finally, 3d. The Ungodlike or Hylic Nature, which resists all amelioration, and whose tendency is only to destroy–the nature of blind lust and passion.
The nature of the πνευματικὸν [pneumatikon], the spiritual, is essential relationship with God (the ὁμούσιον τῷ θεῷ . . Homoousion to_ Theo_): hence the life of Unity, the undivided, the absolutely simple (οὐσία ἑνικὴ μονοειδὴς . . Ousia henike, monoeides).
The essence of the ψυχικοὶ [psuchikoi] is disruption into multiplicity, manifoldness; which, however, is subordinate to a higher unity, by which it allows itself to be guided, first unconsciously, then consciously.
The essence of the ὑλικοὶ [Hulikoi] (of whom Satan is the head), is the direct opposite to all unity; disruption and disunion in itself, without the least sympathy, without any point of coalescence whatever for unity; together with an effort to destroy all unity, to extend its own inherent disunion to everything, and to rend everything asunder. This principle has no power to posit anything; but only to negative: it is unable to create, to produce, to form, but only to destroy, to decompose.
By Marcus, the disciple of Valentinus, the idea of a Λογος του οντος [Logos Tou Ontos], of a WORD, manifesting the hidden Divine Essence, in the Creation, was spun out into the most subtle details–the entire creation being, in his view, a continuous utterance of the Ineffable. The way in which the germs of divine life [the σπέρματα πνευματικὰ . . spermata pneumatika], which lie shut up in the Eons, continually unfold and individualize themselves more and more, is represented as a spontaneous analysis of the several names of the Ineffable, into their several sounds. An echo of the Ple_roma falls down into the ὕλη [Hule_], and becomes the forming of a new but lower creation.
One formula of the pneumatical baptism among the Gnostics ran thus: “In the NAME which is hidden from all the Divinities and Powers” [of the Demiurge], “The Name of Truth” [the Αλήθεια [Aletheia], self-manifestation of the Buthos], which Jesus of Nazareth has put on in the light-zones of Christ, the living Christ, through the Holy Ghost, for the redemption of the angels,–the Name by which all things attain to Perfection.” The candidate then said: “I am established and redeemed; I am redeemed in my soul from this world, and from all that belongs to it, by the name of ו ?Y?H?W?H, who has redeemed the Soul of Jesus by the living Christ.” The assembly then said: “Peace (or Salvation) to all on whom this name rests!”
The boy Dionusos, torn in pieces, according to the Bacchic Mysteries, by the Titans, was considered by the Manicheans as simply representing the Soul, swallowed up by the powers of darkness,–the divine life rent into fragments by matter:–that part of the luminous essence of the primitive man [the πρῶτος ἄνθρωπος [Protos Anthropos] of Mani, the πράων ἄνθρωπος [Prao_n Anthro_pos] of the Valentinians, the Adam Kadmon of the Kabalah; and the Kaiomorts of the Zendavesta], swallowed up by the powers of darkness; the Mundane Soul, mixed with matter–the seed of divine life, which had fallen into matter, and had thence to undergo a process of purification and development.
The Γνῶσις [Gnosis] of Carpocrates and his son Epiphanes consisted in the knowledge of one Supreme Original being, the highest unity, from whom all existence has emanated, and to whom it strives to return. The finite spirits that rule over the several portions of the Earth, seek to counteract this universal tendency to unity; and from their influence, their laws, and arrangements, proceeds all that checks, disturbs, or limits the original communion, which is the basis of nature, as the outward manifestation of that highest Unity. These spirits, moreover, seek to retain under their dominion the souls which, emanating from the highest Unity, and still partaking of its nature, have lapsed into the corporeal world, and have there been imprisoned in bodies, in order, under their dominion, to be kept within the cycle of migration. From these finite spirits, the popular religions of different nations derive their origin. But the souls which, from a reminiscence of their former condition, soar upward to the contemplation of that higher Unity, reach to such perfect freedom and repose, as nothing afterward can disturb or limit, and rise superior to the popular deities and religions. As examples of this sort, they named Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, and Christ. They made no distinction between the latter and the wise and good men of every nation. They taught that any other soul which could soar to the same height of contemplation, might be regarded as equal with Him.
The Ophites commenced their system with a Supreme Being, long unknown to the Human race, and still so the greater number of men; the Βυθὸς [Buthos], or Profundity, Source of Light, and of Adam-Kadmon, the Primitive Man, made by the Demiourgos, but perfected by the Supreme God by the communication to him of the Spirit [Πνεῦμα . . Pneuma]. The first emanation was the Thought of the Supreme Deity [the Ἔννοια . . Ennoia], the conception of the Universe in the Thought of God. This Thought, called also Silence (Σιγη . . Sige), produced the Spirit [Πνευμα . . Pneuma], Mother of the Living, and Wisdom of God. Together with this Primitive Existence, Matter existed also (the Waters, Darkness, Abyss, and Chaos), eternal like the Spiritual Principle. Buthos and His Thought, uniting with Wisdom, made her fruitful by the Divine Light, and she produced a perfect and an imperfect being, Christos, and a Second and inferior wisdom, Sophia-Achamoth, who falling into chaos remained entangled there, became enfeebled, and lost all knowledge of the Superior Wisdom that gave her birth. Communicating movement to Chaos, she produced Ialdabaoth, the Demiourgos, Agent of Material Creation, and then ascended toward her first place in the scale of creation. Ialdabaoth produced an angel that was his image, and this a second, and so on in succession to the sixth after the Demiourgos: the seven being reflections one of the other, yet different and inhabiting seven distinct regions. The names of the six thus produced were IAO, SABAOTH, ADONAI, ELOI, ORAL, and ASTAPHAI. Ialdabaoth, to become independent of his mother, and to pass for the Supreme Being, made the world, and man, in his own image; and his mother caused the Spiritual principle to pass from him into man so made; and henceforward the contest between the Demiourgos and his mother, between light and darkness, good and evil, was concentrated in man; and the image of Ialdabaoth, reflected upon matter, became the Serpent-Spirit, Satan, the Evil Intelligence. Eve, created by Ialdabaoth, had by his Sons children that were angels like themselves. The Spiritual light was withdrawn from man by Sophia, and the world surrendered to the influence of evil; until the Spirit, urged by the entreaties of Wisdom, induced the Supreme Being to send Christos to redeem it. Compelled, despite himself, by his Mother, Ialdabaoth caused the man Jesus to be born of a Virgin, and the Celestial Saviour, uniting with his Sister, Wisdom, descended through the regions of the seven angels, appeared in each under the form of its chief, concealed his own, and entered with his sister into the man Jesus at the baptism in Jordan. Ialdabaoth, finding that Jesus was destroying his empire and abolishing his worship, caused the Jews to hate and crucify Him; before which happened, Christos and Wisdom had ascended to the celestial regions. They restored Jesus to life and gave Him an ethereal body, in which He remained eighteen months on earth, and receiving from Wisdom the perfect knowledge [Γνωσις . . Gnosis], communicated it to a small number of His apostles, and then arose to the intermediate region inhabited by Ialdabaoth, where, unknown to him, He sits at his right hand, taking from him the Souls of Light purified by Christos. When nothing of the Spiritual world shall remain subject to Ialdabaoth, the redemption will be accomplished, and the end of the world, the completion of the return of Light into the Plenitude, will occur.
Tatian adopted the theory of Emanation, of Eons, of the existence of a God too sublime to allow Himself to be known, but displaying Himself by Intelligences emanating from His bosom. The first of these was His spirit [Πνευμα . . Pneuma], God Himself, God thinking, God conceiving the Universe. The second was the Word [Λογος . . Logos], no longer merely the Thought or Conception, but the Creative Utterance, manifestation of the Divinity, but emanating from the Thought or Spirit; the First-Begotten, author of the visible creation. This was the Trinity, composed of the Father, Spirit, and Word.
The Elxaïtes adopted the Seven Spirits of the Gnostics; but named them Heaven, Water, Spirit, The Holy Angels of Prayer, Oil, Salt, and the Earth.
The opinion of the Doketes as to the human nature of Jesus Christ, was that most generally received among the Gnostics. They deemed the intelligences of the Superior World too pure and too much the antagonists of matter, to be willing to unite with it: and held that Christ, an Intelligence of the first rank, in appearing upon the earth, did not become confounded with matter, but took upon Himself only the appearance of a body, or at the most used it only as an envelope.
Noëtus termed the Son the first Utterance of the Father; the Word, not by Himself, as an Intelligence, and unconnected with the flesh, a real Son; but a Word, and a perfect Only-Begotten; light emanated from the Light; water flowing from its spring; a ray emanated from the Sun.
Paul of Samosata taught that Jesus Christ was the Son of Joseph and Mary; but that the Word, Wisdom, or Intelligence of God, the Νους [Nous] of the Gnostics, had united itself with Him, so that He might be said to be at once the Son of God, and God Himself.
Arius called the Saviour the first of creatures, non-emanated from God, but really created, by the direct will of God, before time and the ages. According to the Church, Christ was of the same nature as God; according to some dissenters, of the same nature as man. Arius adopted the theory of a nature analogous to both. When God resolved to create the Human race, He made a Being which He called THE WORD, THE SON, WISDOM [Λόγος, Υἱὸς, Σοφία . . Logos, Uios, Sophia], to the end that He might give existence to men. This WORD is the Ormuzd of Zoroaster, the Ensoph of the Kabalah, the Νοῦς [Nous] of Platonism and Philonism, and the Σοφια or Δεμιουργος [Sophia or Demiourgos] of the Gnostics. He distinguished the Inferior Wisdom, or the daughter, from the Superior Wisdom; the latter being in God, inherent in His nature, and incapable of communication to any creature: the second, by which the Son was made, communicated itself to Him, and therefore He Himself was entitled to be called the Word and the Son.
Manes, founder of the Sect of the Manicheans, who had lived and been distinguished among the Persian Magi, profited by the doctrines of Scythianus, a Kabalist or Judaizing Gnostic of the times of the Apostles; and knowing those of Bardesanes and Harmonius, derived his doctrines from Zoroasterism, Christianity, and Gnosticism. He claimed to be the Παράκλητος [Parakle_tos] or Comforter, in the Sense of a Teacher, organ of the Deity, but not in that of the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost: and commenced his Epistola Fundamenti in these words: “Manes, Apostle of Jesus Christ, elect of God the Father; Behold the Words of Salvation, emanating from the living and eternal fountain.” The dominant idea of his doctrine was Pantheism, derived by him from its source in the regions of India and on the confines of China: that the cause of all that exists is in God; and at last, God is all in all. All souls are equal–God is in all, in men, animals, and plants. There are two Gods, one of Good and the other of Evil, each independent, eternal, chief of a distinct Empire; necessarily, and of their very natures, hostile to one another. The Evil God, Satan, is the Genius of matter alone. The God of Good is infinitely his Superior, the True God; while the other is but the chief of all that is the Enemy of God, and must in the end succumb to His Power. The Empire of Light alone is eternal and true; and this Empire is a great chain of Emanations, all connected with the Supreme Being which they make manifest; all HIM, under different forms, chosen for one end, the triumph of the Good. In each of His members lie hidden thousands of ineffable treasures. Excellent in His Glory, incomprehensible in His Greatness, the Father has joined to Himself those fortunate and glorious Eons [Αιωνες . . Aione_s], whose Power and Number it is impossible to determine. This is Spinoza’s Infinity of Infinite Attributes of God. Twelve Chief Eons, at the head of all, were the Genii of the twelve Constellations of the Zodiac, and called by Manes, Olamin. Satan, also, Lord of the Empire of Darkness, had an Army of Eons or Demons, emanating from his Essence, and reflecting more or less his image, but divided and inharmonious among themselves. A war among them brought them to the confines of the Realm of Light. Delighted, they sought to conquer it. But the Chief of the Celestial Empire created a Power which he placed on the frontiers of Heaven to protect his Eons, and destroy the Empire of Evil. This was the Mother of Life, the Soul of the World, an Emanation from the Supreme Being, too pure to come in immediate contact with matter. It remained in the highest region; but produced a Son, the first Man [the Kaiomorts, Adam-Kadmon, Πρῶτος Ανθρωπος [Protos Anthropos,] and Hivil-Zivah; of the Zend-Avesta, the Kabalah, the Gnosis, and Sabeism]; who commenced the contest with the Powers of Evil, but, losing part of his panoply, of his Light, his Son and many souls born of the Light, who were devoured by the darkness, God sent to his assistance the living Spirit, or the Son of the First Man [Υἱὸς Ἀνθρώπου . . Uios Anthropou], or Jesus Christ. The Mother of Life, general Principle of Divine Life, and the first Man, Primitive Being that reveals the Divine Life, are too sublime to be connected with the Empire of Darkness. The Son of Man or Soul of the World, enters into the Darkness, becomes its captive, to end by tempering and softening its savage nature. The Divine Spirit, after having brought back the Primitive Man to the Empire of Light, raises above the world that part of the Celestial Soul that remained unaffected by being mingled with the Empire of Darkness. Placed in the region of the Sun and Moon, this pure soul, the Son of Man, the Redeemer or Christ, labors to deliver and attract to Himself that part of the Light or of the Soul of the First Man diffused through matter; which done, the world will cease to exist. To retain the rays of Light still remaining among his Eons, and ever tending to escape and return, by concentrating them, the Prince of Darkness, with their consent, made Adam, whose soul was of the Divine Light, contributed by the Eons, and his body of matter, so that he belonged to both Empires, that of Light and that of Darkness. To prevent the light from escaping at once, the Demons forbade Adam to eat the fruit of “knowledge of good and evil,” by which he would have known the Empire of Light and that of Darkness. He obeyed; an Angel of Light induced him to transgress, and gave him the means of victory; but the Demons created Eve, who seduced him into an act of Sensualism, that enfeebled him, and bound him anew in the bonds of matter. This is repeated in the case of every man that lives.
To deliver the soul, captive in darkness, the Principle of Light, or Genius of the Sun, charged to redeem the Intellectual World, of which he is the type, came to manifest Himself among men. Light appeared in the darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not; according to the words of St. John. The Light could not unite with the darkness. It but put on the appearance of a human body, and took the name of Christ in the Messiah, only to accommodate itself to the language of the Jews. The Light did its work, turning the Jews from the adoration of the Evil Principle, and the Pagans from the worship of Demons. But the Chief of the Empire of Darkness caused Him to be crucified by the Jews. Still He suffered in appearance only, and His death gave to all souls the symbol of their enfranchisement. The person of Jesus having disappeared, there was seen in His place a cross of Light, over which a celestial voice pronounced these words: “The cross of Light is called The Word, Christ, The Gate, Joy, The Bread, The Sun, The Resurrection, Jesus, The Father, The Spirit, Life, Truth, and Grace.”
With the Priscillianists there were two principles, one the Divinity, the other, Primitive Matter and Darkness; each eternal. Satan is the son and lord of matter; and the secondary angels and demons, children of matter. Satan created and governs the visible world. But the soul of man emanated from God, and is of the same substance with God. Seduced by the evil spirits, it passes through various bodies, until, purified and reformed, it rises to God and is strengthened by His light. These powers of evil hold mankind in pledge; and to redeem this pledge, the Saviour, Christ the Redeemer, came and died upon the cross of expiation, thus discharging the written obligation. He, like all souls, was of the same substance with God, a manifestation of the Divinity, not forming a second person; unborn, like the Divinity, and nothing else than the Divinity under another form.
It is useless to trace these vagaries further; and we stop at the frontiers of the realm of the three hundred and sixty-five thousand emanations of the Mandai_tes from the Primitive Light, Fira or Ferho and Yavar; and return contentedly to the simple and sublime creed of Masonry.
Such were some of the ancient notions concerning the Deity; and taken in connection with what has been detailed in the pre-ceding Degrees, this Lecture affords you a true picture of the ancient speculations. From the beginning until now, those who have undertaken to solve the great mystery of the creation of a material universe by an Immaterial Deity, have interposed between the two, and between God and man, divers manifestations of, or emanations from, or personified attributes or agents of, the Great Supreme God, who is coexistent with Time and coextensive with Space.
The universal belief of the Orient was, that the Supreme Being did not Himself create either, the earth or man. The fragment which commences the Book of Genesis, consisting of the first chapter and the three first verses of the second, assigns the creation or rather the formation or modelling of the world from matter already existing in confusion, not to IHUH, but to the ALHIM, well known as Subordinate Deities, Forces, or Manifestations, among the Phœnicians. The second fragment imputes it to IHUH-ALHIM, and St. John assigns the creation to the Λογος or WORD; and asserts that CHRIST was that WORD, as well as LIGHT and LIFE, other emanations from the Great Primeval Deity, to which other faiths had assigned the work of creation.
An absolute existence, wholly immaterial, in no way within the reach of our senses; a cause, but not an effect, that never was not, but existed during an infinity of eternities, before there was anything else except Time and Space, is wholly beyond the reach of our conceptions. The mind of man has wearied itself in speculations as to His nature, His essence, His attributes; and ended in being no wiser than it began. In the impossibility of conceiving of immateriality, we feel at sea and lost whenever we go beyond the domain of matter. And yet we know that there are Powers, Forces, Causes, that are themselves not matter. We give them names, but what they really are, and what their essence, we are wholly ignorant.
But, fortunately, it does not follow that we may not believe, or even know, that which we cannot explain to ourselves, or that which is beyond the reach of our comprehension: If we believed only that which our intellect can grasp, measure, comprehend, and have distinct and clear ideas of, we should believe scarce anything. The senses are not the witnesses that bear testimony to us of the loftiest truths.
Our greatest difficulty is, that language is not adequate to express our ideas; because our words refer to things, and are images of what is substantial and material. If we use the word “emanation,” our mind involuntarily recurs to something material, flowing out of some other thing that is material; and if we reject this idea of materiality, nothing is left of the emanation but an unreality. The word “thing” itself suggests to us that which is material and within the cognizance and jurisdiction of the senses. If we cut away from it the idea of materiality, it presents itself to us as no thing, but an intangible unreality, which the mind vainly endeavors to grasp. Existence and Being are terms that have the same color of materiality; and when we speak of a Power or Force, the mind immediately images to itself one physical and material thing acting upon another. Eliminate that idea; and the Power or Force, devoid of physical characteristics, seems as unreal as the shadow that dances on a wall, itself a mere absence of light; as spirit is to us merely that which is not matter.
Infinite space and infinite time are the two primary ideas. We formulize them thus: add body to body and sphere to sphere, until the imagination wearies; and still there will remain beyond, a void, empty, unoccupied SPACE, limitless, because it is void. Add event to event in continuous succession, forever and forever, and there will still remain, before and after, a TIME in which there was and will be no event, and also endless because it too is void.
Thus these two ideas of the boundlessness of space and the endlessness of time seem to involve the ideas that matter and events are limited and finite. We cannot conceive of an infinity of worlds or of events; but only of an indefinite number of each; for, as we struggle to conceive of their infinity, the thought ever occurs in despite of all our efforts–there must be space in which there are no worlds; there must have been time when there were no events.
We cannot conceive how, if this earth moves millions of millions of miles a million times repeated, it is still in the centre of space; nor how, if we lived millions of millions of ages and centuries, we should still be in the centre of eternity–with still as much space on one side as on the other; with still as much time before us as behind; for that seems to say that the world has not moved nor we lived at all.
Nor can we comprehend how an infinite series of worlds, added together, is no larger than an infinite series of atoms; or an infinite series of centuries no longer than an infinite series of seconds; both being alike infinite, and therefore one series containing no more nor fewer units than the other.
Nor have we the capacity to form in ourselves any idea of that which is immaterial. We use the word, but it conveys to us only the idea of the absence and negation of materiality; which vanishing, Space and Time alone, infinite and boundless, seem to us to be left.
We cannot form any conception of an effect without a cause. We cannot but believe, indeed we know, that, how far soever we may have to run back along the chain of effects and causes, it cannot be infinite; but we must come at last to something which is not an effect, bur the first cause: and yet the fact is literally beyond our comprehension. The mind refuses to grasp the idea of self-existence, of existence without a beginning. As well expect the hair that grows upon our head to understand the nature and immortality of the soul.
It does not need to go so far in search of mysteries; nor have we any right to disbelieve or doubt the existence of a Great First Cause, itself no effect, because we cannot comprehend it; because the words we use do not even express it to us adequately.
We rub a needle for a little while, on a dark, inert mass of iron ore, that had lain idle in the earth for many centuries. Something is thereby communicated to the steel–we term it a virtue, a power, or a quality–and then we balance it upon a pivot; and, lo! drawn by some invisible, mysterious Power, one pole of the needle turns to the North, and there the same Power keeps the same pole for days and years; will keep it there, perhaps, as long as the world lasts, carry the needle where you will, and no matter what seas or mountains intervene between it and the North Pole of the world. And this Power, thus acting, and indicating to the mariner his course over the trackless ocean, when the stars shine not for many days, saves vessels from shipwreck, families from distress, and those from sudden death on whose lives the fate of nations and the peace of the world depend. But for it, Napoleon might never have reached the ports of France on his return from Egypt, nor Nelson lived to fight and win at Trafalgar. Men call this Power Magnetism, and then complacently think that they have explained it all; and yet they have but given a new name to an unknown thing, to hide their ignorance. What is this wonderful Power? It is a real, actual, active Power: that we know and see. But what its essence is, or how it acts, we do not know, any more than we know the essence or the mode of action of the Creative Thought and Word of God.
And again, what is that which we term galvanism and electricity,–which, evolved by the action of a little acid on two metals, aided by a magnet, circles the earth in a second, sending from land to land the Thoughts that govern the transactions of individuals and nations? The mind has formed no notion of matter, that will include it; and no name that we can give it, helps us to understand its essence and its being. It is a Power, like Thought and the Will. We know no more.
What is this power of gravitation that makes everything upon the earth tend to the centre? How does it reach out its invisible hands toward the erratic meteor-stones, arrest them in their swift course, and draw them down to the earth’s bosom? It is a power. We know no more.
What is that heat which plays so wonderful a part in the world’s economy?–that caloric, latent everywhere, within us and without us, produced by combustion, by intense pressure, and by swift motion? Is it substance, matter, spirit, or immaterial, a mere Force or State of Matter?
And what is light? A substance, say the books,–matter, that travels to us from the sun and stars, each ray separable into seven, by the prism, of distinct colors, and with distinct peculiar qualities and actions. And if a substance, what is its essence, and what power is inherent in it, by which it journeys incalculable myriads of miles, and reaches us ten thousand years or more after it leaves the stars?
All power is equally a mystery. Apply intense cold to a drop of water in the centre of a globe of iron, and the globe is shattered as the water freezes. Confine a little of the same limpid element in a cylinder which Enceladus or Typhon could not have riven asunder, and apply to it intense heat, and the vast power that couched latent in the water shivers the cylinder to atoms. A little shoot from a minute seed, a shoot so soft and tender that the least bruise would kill it, forces its way downward into the hard earth, to the depth of many feet, with an energy wholly incomprehensible. What are these mighty forces, locked up in the small seed and the drop of water?
Nay, what is LIFE itself, with all its wondrous, mighty energies,–that power which maintains the heat within us, and prevents our bodies, that decay so soon without it, from resolution into their original elements–Life, that constant miracle, the nature and essence whereof have eluded all the philosophers; and all their learned dissertations on it are a mere jargon of words?
No wonder the ancient Persians thought that Light and Life were one; both emanations from the Supreme Deity, the archetype of light. No wonder that in their ignorance they worshipped the Sun. God breathed into man the spirit of life; not matter, but an emanation from Himself; not a creature made by Him, nor a distinct existence, but a Power, like His own Thought: and light, to those great-souled ancients, also seemed no creature, and no gross material substance, but a pure emanation from the Deity, immortal and indestructible like Himself.
What, indeed, is REALITY? Our dreams are as real, while they last, as the occurrences of the daytime. We see, hear, feel, act, experience pleasure and suffer pain, as vividly and actually in a dream as when awake. The occurrences and transactions of a year are crowded into the limits of a second: and the dream remembered is as real as the past occurrences of life.
The philosophers tell us that we have no cognizance of substance itself, but only of its attributes: that when we see that which we call a block of marble, our perceptions give us information only of something extended, solid, colored, heavy, and the like; but not of the very thing itself, to which these attributes belong. And vet the attributes do not exist without the substance. They are not substances, but adjectives. There is no such thing or existence as hardness, weight or color, by itself, detached from any subject, moving first here, then there, and attaching itself to this and to the other subject. And yet, they say, the attributes are not the subject.
So Thought, Volition, and Perception are not the soul, but its attributes; and we have no cognizance of the soul itself, but only of them, its manifestations. Nor of God; but only of His Wisdom, Power, Magnificence, Truth, and other attributes.
And yet we know that there is matter, a soul within our body, a God that lives in the Universe.
Take, then, the attributes of the soul. I am conscious that I exist and am the same identical person that I was twenty years ago. I am conscious that my body is not I,–that if my arms were lopped away, this person that I call ME, would still remain, complete, entire, identical as before. But I cannot ascertain, by the most intense and long-continued reflection, what I am, nor where within my body I reside, nor whether I am a point, or an expanded substance. I have no power to examine and inspect. I exist, will, think, perceive. That I know, and nothing more. I think a noble and sublime Thought. What is that Thought? It is not Matter, nor Spirit. It is not a Thing; but a Power and Force. I make upon a paper certain conventional marks, that represent that Thought. There is no Power or Virtue in the marks I write, but only in the Thought which they tell to others. I die, but the Thought still lives. It is a Power. It acts on men, excites them to enthusiasm, inspires patriotism, governs their conduct, controls their destinies, disposes of life and death. The words I speak are but a certain succession of particular sounds, that by conventional arrangement communicate to others the Immaterial, Intangible, Eternal Thought. The fact that Thought continues to exist an instant, after it makes its appearance in the soul, proves it immortal: for there is nothing conceivable that can destroy it. The spoken words, being mere sounds, may vanish into thin air, and the written ones, mere marks, be burned, erased, destroyed: but the THOUGHT itself lives still, and must live on forever.
A Human Thought, then, is an actual EXISTENCE, and a FORCE and POWER, capable of acting upon and controlling matter as well as mind. Is not the existence of a God, who is the immaterial soul of the Universe, and whose THOUGHT, embodied or not embodied in His WORD, is an Infinite Power, of Creation and production, destruction and preservation, quite as comprehensible as the existence of a Soul, of a Thought separated from the Soul, of the Power of that Thought to mould the fate and influence the Destinies of Humanity?
And yet we know not when that Thought comes, nor what it is. It is not WE. We do not mould it, shape it, fashion it. It is neither our mechanism nor our invention. It appears spontaneously, flashing, as it were, into the soul, making that soul the involuntary instrument of its utterance to the world. It comes to us, and seems a stranger to us, seeking a home.
As little can we explain the mighty power of the human WILL. Volition, like Thought, seems spontaneous, an effect without a cause. Circumstances provoke it, and serve as its occasion, but do not produce it. It springs up in the soul, like Thought, as the waters gush upward in a spring. Is it the manifestation of the soul, merely making apparent what passes within the soul, or an emanation from it, going abroad and acting outwardly, itself a real Existence, as it is an admitted Power? We can but own our ignorance. It is certain that it acts on other souls, controls, directs them, shapes their action, legislates for men and nations: and yet it is not material nor visible; and the laws it writes merely inform one soul of what has passed within another.
God, therefore, is a mystery, only as everything that surrounds us, and as we ourselves, are mysteries. We know that there is and must be a FIRST CAUSE. His attributes, severed from Himself, are unrealities. As color and extension, weight and hardness, do not exist apart from matter as separate existences and substantives, spiritual or immaterial; so the Goodness, Wisdom, Justice, Mercy, and Benevolence of God are not independent existences, personify them as men may, but attributes of the Deity, the adjectives of One Great Substantive. But we know that He must be Good, True, Wise, Just, Benevolent, Merciful: and in all these, and all His other attributes, Perfect and Infinite; because we are conscious that these are laws imposed on us by the very nature of things, necessary, and without which the Universe would be con-fusion and the existence of a God incredible. They are of His essence, and necessary, as His existence is.
He is the Living, Thinking, Intelligent Sour, of the Universe, the PERMANENT, the STATIONARY [Εστως . . Estos], of Simon Magus, the ONE that always IS [Το Ον . . TO ON] of Plato, as contradistinguished from the perpetual flux and reflux, or Genesis, of things.
And, as the Thought of the Soul, emanating from the Soul, becomes audible and visible in Words, so did THE THOUGHT or GOD, springing up within Himself, immortal as Himself, when once conceived,–immortal before, because in Himself, utter Itself in THE WORD, its manifestation and mode of communication, and thus create the Material, Mental, Spiritual Universe, which, like Him, never began to exist.
This is the real idea of the Ancient Nations: GOD, the Almighty Father, and Source of All; His THOUGHT, conceiving the whole Universe, and willing its creation: His WORD, uttering that THOUGHT, and thus becoming the Creator or Demiourgos, in whom was Life and Light, and that Light the Life of the Universe.
Nor did that Word cease at the single act of Creation; and having set going the great machine, and enacted the laws of its motion and progression, of birth and life, and change and death, cease to exist, or remain thereafter in inert idleness.
FOR THE THOUGHT OF GOD LIVES AND IS IMMORTAL. Embodied in the WORD, is not only created, but it preserves. It conducts and controls the Universe, all spheres, all worlds, all actions of mankind, and of every animate and inanimate creature. It speaks in the soul of every man who lives. The Stars, the Earth, the Trees, the Winds, the universal voice of Nature, tempest, and avalanche, the Sea’s roar and the grave voice of the waterfall, the hoarse thunder and the low whisper of the brook, the song of birds, the voice of love, the speech of men, all are the alphabet in which it communicates itself to men, and informs them of the will and law of God, the Soul of the Universe. And thus most truly did “THE WORD BECOME MESH AND DWELL AMONG MEN.”
God, the unknown FATHER [Πατὴρ Ἄγνωστος . . Pater Agno_stos], known to us only by His Attributes; the ABSOLUTE I AM: . . The THOUGHT of God [Ἔννοια . Ennoia], and the WORD [Λόγος; . . . . Logos], Manifestation and expression of the Thought; . . . . Behold THE TRUE MASONIC TRINITY; the UNIVERSAL SOUL, the THOUGHT in the Soul, the WORD, or Thought expressed; the THREE IN ONE, of a Trinitarian Ecossais.
Here Masonry pauses, and leaves its Initiates to carry out and develop these great Truths in such manner as to each may seem most accordant with reason, philosophy, truth, and his religious faith. It declines to act as Arbiter between them. It looks calmly on, while each multiplies the intermediates between the Deity and Matter, and the personifications of God’s manifestations and attributes, to whatever extent his reason, his conviction, or his fancy dictates.
While the Indian tells us that PARABRAHMA, BRAHM, and PARATMA were the first Triune God, revealing Himself as BRAHMA, VISHNU, and SIVA, Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer; . . . .
The Egyptian, of AMUN-RE, NEITH, and PHTHA, Creator, Matter, Thought or Light; the Persian of his Trinity of Three Powers in ORMUZD, Sources of Light, Fire, and Water; the Buddhists of the God SAKYA, a Trinity composed of BUDDHA, DHARMA, and SANGA,–Intelligence, Law, and Union or Harmony; the Chinese Sabeans of their Trinity of Chang-ti, the Supreme Sovereign; Tien, the Heavens; and Tao, the Universal Supreme Reason and Principle of all things; who produced the Unit; that, two; two, three; and three, all that is; . . . .
While the Sclavono-Vend typifies his Trinity by the three heads of the God Triglav; the Ancient Prussian points to his Triune God, Perkoun, Pikollos, and Potrimpos, Deities of Light and Thunder, of Hell and of the Earth; the Ancient Scandinavian to Odin, Frea, and Thor; and the old Etruscans to TINA, TALNA, and MINERVA, Strength, Abundance, and Wisdom; . . . .
While Plato tells us of the Supreme Good, the Reason or Intellect, and the Soul or Spirit; and Philo of the Archetype of Light, Wisdom [Σοφια], and the Word [Λογος]; the Kabalists, of the Triads of the Sephiroth; . . . .
While the disciples of Simon Magus, and the many sects of the Gnostics, confuse us with their Eons, Emanations, Powers, Wisdom Superior and Inferior, Ialdabaoth, Adam-Kadmon, even to the three hundred and sixty-five thousand emanations of the Maldaïtes; . . . .
And while the pious Christian believes that the WORD dwelt in the Mortal Body of Jesus of Nazareth, and suffered upon the Cross; and that the HOLY GHOST was poured out upon the Apostles, and now inspires every truly Christian Soul: . . . .
While all these faiths assert their claims to the exclusive possession of the Truth, Masonry inculcates its old doctrine, and no more: . . . . That God is ONE; that His THOUGHT uttered in His WORD, created the Universe, and preserves it by those Eternal Laws which are the expression of that Thought: that the Soul of Man, breathed into him by God, is immortal as His Thoughts are; that he is free to do evil or to choose good, responsible for his acts and punishable for his sins: that all evil and wrong and suffering are but temporary, the discords of one great Harmony, and that in His good time they will lead by infinite modulations to the great, harmonic final chord and cadence of Truth, Love, Peace, and Happiness, that will ring forever and ever under the Arches of Heaven, among all the Stars and Worlds, and in all souls of men and Angels.