MORALS AND DOGMA OF THE ANCIENT AND ACCEPTED SCOTTISH RITE OF FREEMASONRY 1871
Title Page | Preface
Lodge of Perfection
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Chapter Rose Croix
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Council of Kadosh
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KNIGHT OF THE SUN, OR PRINCE ADEPT
GOD is the author of everything that existeth; the Eternal, the Supreme, the Living, and Awful Being; from Whom nothing in the Universe is hidden. Make of Him no idols and visible images; but rather worship Him in the deep solitudes of sequestered forests; for He is invisible, and fills the Universe as its soul, and liveth not in any Temple!
Light and Darkness are the World’s Eternal ways. God is the principle of everything that exists, and the Father of all Beings. He is eternal, immovable, and Self-Existent. There are no bounds to His power. At one glance He sees the Past, the Present, and the Future; and the procession of the builders of the Pyramids, with us and our remotest Descendants, is now passing before Him. He reads our thoughts before they are known to ourselves. He rules the movements of the Universe, and all events and revolutions are the creatures of His will. For He is the Infinite Mind and Supreme Intelligence.
In the beginning Man had the WORD, and that WORD was from God: and out of the living power which, in and by that WORD, was communicated to man, came the LIGHT of his existence. Let no man speak the WORD, for by it THE FATHER made light and darkness, the world and living creatures!
The Chaldean upon his plains worshiped me, and the sea-loving Phœnician. They builded me temples and towers, and burned sacrifices to me upon a thousand altars. Light was divine to them, and they thought me a God. But I am nothing–nothing; and LIGHT is the creature of the unseen GOD that taught the true religion to the Ancient Patriarchs: AWFUL, MYSTERIOUS, THE ABSOLUTE.
Man was created pure; and God gave him TRUTH, as He gave him LIGHT. He has lost the truth and found error. He has wandered far into darkness; and round him Sin and Shame hover evermore. The Soul that is impure, and sinful, and defiled with earthly stains, cannot again unite with God, until, by long trials and many purifications, it is finally delivered from the old calamity; and Light overcomes Darkness and dethrones it, in the Soul.
God is the First; indestructible, eternal, UNCREATED, INDIVISIBLE. Wisdom, Justice, Truth, and Mercy, with Harmony and Love, are of His essence, and Eternity and Infinitude of Extension. He is silent, and consents with MIND, and is known to Souls through MIND alone. In Him were all things originally contained, and from Him all things were evolved. For out of His Divine SILENCE and REST, after an infinitude of time, was unfolded the WORD, or the Divine POWER; and then in turn the Mighty, ever-acting, measureless INTELLECT; and from the WORD were evolved the myriads of suns and systems that make the Universe; and fire, and light, and the electric HARMONY, which is the harmony of spheres and numbers: and from the INTELLECT all Souls and intellects of men.
In the Beginning, the Universe was but ONE SOUL. HE was THE ALL, alone with TIME and SPACE, and Infinite as they.
—— HE HAD THIS THOUGHT: “I Create Worlds:” and lo! the Universe, and the laws of harmony and motion that rule it. the expression of a thought of God; and bird and beast, and every living thing but Man: and light and air, and the mysterious cur-rents, and the dominion of mysterious numbers!
—— HE HAD THIS THOUGHT: “I Create Man, whose Soul shall be my image, and he shall rule.” And lo! Man, with senses, instinct, and a reasoning mind!
—— And yet not MAN! but an animal that breathed, and saw, and thought: until an immaterial spark from God’s own
Infinite Being penetrated the brain, and became the Soul: and lo, MAN THE IMMORTAL! Thus, threefold, fruit of God’s thought, is Man; that sees and hears and feels; that thinks and reasons; that loves and is in harmony with the Universe.
Before the world grew old, the primitive Truth faded out from men’s Souls. Then man asked himself, “What am I? and how and whence am I? and whither do I go?” And the Soul, looking inward upon itself, strove to learn whether that “I” were mere matter; its thought and reason and its passions and affections mere results of material combination; or a material Being enveloping an immaterial Spirit: . . and further it strove, by self-examination, to learn whether that Spirit were an individual essence, with a separate immortal existence, or an infinitesimal portion of a Great First Principle, inter-penetrating the Universe and the infinitude of space, and undulating like light and heat: . . and so they wandered further amid the mazes of error; and imagined vain philosophies; wallowing in the sloughs of materialism and sensualism, of beating their wings vainly in the vacuum of abstractions and idealities.
While yet the first oaks still put forth their leaves, man lost the perfect knowledge of the One True God, the Ancient Absolute Existence, the Infinite Mind and Supreme Intelligence; and floated helplessly out upon the shoreless ocean of conjecture. Then the soul vexed itself with seeking to learn whether the material Universe was a mere chance combination of atoms, or the work of Infinite, Uncreated Wisdom: . . whether the Deity was a concentrated, and the Universe an extended immateriality; or whether He was a personal existence, an Omnipotent, Eternal, Supreme Essence, regulating matter at will; or subjecting it to unchangeable laws throughout eternity; and to Whom, Himself Infinite and Eternal, Space and Time are unknown. With their finite limited vision they sought to learn the source and explain the existence of Evil, and Pain, and Sorrow; and so they wandered ever deeper into the darkness, and were lost; and there was for them no longer any God; but only a great, dumb, soulless Universe, full of mere emblems and symbols.
You have heretofore, in some of the Degrees through which you have passed, heard much of the ancient worship of the Sun, the Moon, and the other bright luminaries of Heaven, and of the Elements and Powers of Universal Nature. You have been made, to some extent, familiar with their personifications as Heroes suffering or triumphant, or as personal Gods or Goddesses, with human characteristics and passions, and with the multitude of legends and fables that do but allegorically represent their risings and settings, their courses, their conjunctions and oppositions, their domiciles and places of exaltation.
Perhaps you have supposed that we, like many who have written on these subjects, have intended to represent this worship to you as the most ancient and original worship of the first men that lived. To undeceive you, if such was your conclusion, we have caused the Personifications of the Great Luminary of Heaven, under the names by which he was known to the most ancient nations, to proclaim the old primitive truths that were known to the Fathers of our race, before men came to worship the visible manifestations of the Supreme Power and Magnificence and the Supposed Attributes of the Universal Deity in the Elements and in the glittering armies that Night regularly marshals and arrays upon the blue field of the firmament.
We ask now your attention to a still further development of these truths, after we shall have added something to what we have already said in regard to the Chief Luminary of Heaven, in explanation of the names and characteristics of the several imaginary Deities that represented him among the ancient races of men.
ATHOM or ATHOM-RE, was the Chief and Oldest Supreme God of Upper Egypt, worshipped at Thebes; the same as the OM or AUM of the Hindūs, whose name was unpronounceable, and who, like the BREHM of the latter People, was “The Being that was, and is, and is to come; the Great God, the Great Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent One, the Greatest in the Universe, the Lord;” whose emblem was a perfect sphere, showing that He was first, last, midst, and without end; superior to all Nature-Gods, and all personifications of Powers, Elements, and Luminaries; symbolized by Light, the Principle of Life.
AMUN was the Nature-God, or Spirit of Nature, called by that name or AMUN-RE, and worshiped at Memphis in Lower Egypt, and in Libya, as well as in Upper Egypt. He was the Libyan Jupiter, and represented the intelligent and organizing force that develops itself in Nature, when the intellectual types or forms of bodies are revealed to the senses in the world’s order, by their union with matter, whereby the generation of bodies is effected. He was the same with Kneph, from whose mouth issued the Orphic egg out of which came the Universe.
DIONYSUS was the Nature-God of the Greeks, as AMUN was of the Egyptians. In the popular legend, Dionysus, as well as Hercules, was a Theban Hero, born of a mortal mother. Both were sons of Zeus, both persecuted by Here. But in Hercules the God is subordinate to the Hero; while Dionysus, even in poetry, retains his divine character, and is identical with Iacchus, the presiding genius of the Mysteries. Personification of the Sun in Taurus, as his ox-hoofs showed, the delivered earth from the harsh dominion of Winter, conducted the mighty chorus of the Stars, and the celestial revolution of the year, changed with the seasons, and underwent their periodical decay. He was the Sun as invoked by the Eleans, Πυριγενης, ushered into the world amidst lightning and thunder, the Mighty Hunter of the Zodiac, Zagreus the Golden or ruddy-faced. The Mysteries taught the doctrine of Divine Unity; and that Power Whose Oneness is a seeming mystery, but really a truism, was Dionysus, the God of Nature, or of that moisture, which is the life of Nature, who prepares in darkness, in Hades or Iasion, the return of life and vegetation, or is himself the light and change evolving their varieties. In the Egean Islands he was Butes, Dardanus, Himeros or Imbros; in Crete he appears as Iasius or even Zeus, whose orgiastic worship, remaining unveiled by the usual forms of mystery, betrayed to profane curiosity the symbols which, if irreverently contemplated, were sure to be misunderstood.
He was the same with the dismembered Zagreus, the son of Persephoné, an Ancient Subterranean Dionysus, the horned progeny of Zeus in the Constellation of the Serpent, entrusted by his father with the thunderbolt, and encircled with the protecting dance of Curetes. Through the envious artifices of Here, the Titans eluded the vigilance of his guardians and tore him to pieces; but Pallas restored the still palpitating heart to his father, who commanded Apollo to bury the dismembered remains upon Parnassus.
Dionusos, as well as Apollo, was leader of the Muses; the tomb of one accompanied the worship of the other; they were the same, yet different, contrasted, yet only as filling separate parts in the same drama; and the mystic and heroic personifications, the God of Nature and of Art, seem, at some remote period, to have proceeded from a common source. Their separation was one of form rather than of substance: and from the time when Hercules obtained initiation from Triptolemus, or Pythagoras received Orphic tenets, the two conceptions were tending to re-combine. It was said that Dionusos or Poseidon had preceded Apollo in the Oracular office; and Dionusos continued to be esteemed in Greek Theology as Healer and Saviour, Author of Life and Immortality. The dispersed Pythagoreans, “Sons of Apollo,” immediately betook themselves to the Orphic Service of Dionusos, and there are indications that there was always something Dionysiac in the worship of Apollo.
Dionusos is the Sun, that liberator of the elements; and his spiritual meditation was suggested by the same imagery which made the Zodiac the supposed path of the Spirits in their descent and their return. His second birth, as offspring of the highest, is a type of the spiritual regeneration of man. He, as well as Apollo, was preceptor of the Muses and source of inspiration. His rule prescribed no unnatural mortification: its yoke was easy, and its mirthful choruses, combining the gay with the severe, did but commemorate that golden age when earth enjoyed eternal spring, and when fountains of honey, milk, and wine burst forth out of its bosom at the touch of the thyrsus. He is the “Liberator.” Like Osiris, he frees the soul, and guides it in its migrations beyond the grave, preserving it from the risk of again falling under the slavery of matter or of some inferior animal form. All soul is part of the Universal Soul, whose totality is Dionusos; and he leads back the vagrant spirit to its home, and accompanies it through the purifying processes, both real and symbolical, of its earthly transit. He died and descended to the Shades; and his suffering was the great secret of the Mysteries, as death is the grand mystery of existence. He is the immortal suitor of Psyche (the Soul), the Divine influence which physically called the world into being, and which, awakening the soul from its Stygian trance, restores it from earth to Heaven.
Of HERMES, the Mercury of the Greeks, the Thoth of the Egyptians, and the Taaut of the Phœnicians, we have heretofore spoken sufficiently at length. He was the inventor of letters and of Oratory, the winged messenger of the Gods, bearing the Caduceus wreathed with serpents; and in our Council he is represented by the ORATOR.
The Hindūs called the Sun SURYA; the Persians, MITHRAS; the Egyptians, OSIRIS; the Assyrians and Chaldæans, BEL; the Scythians and Etruscans and the ancient Pelasgi, ARKALEUS or HERCULES; the Phœnicians, ADONAI or ADON; and the Scandinavians, ODIN.
From the name SURYA, given by the Hindūs to the Sun, the Sect who paid him particular adoration were called Souras. Their painters describe his car as drawn by seven green horses. In the Temple of Visweswara, at Benares, there is an ancient piece of sculpture, well executed in stone, representing him sitting in a car drawn by a horse with twelve heads. His charioteer, by whom he is preceded, is ARUN [from אור, AUR the Crepusculum?], or the Dawn; and among his many titles are twelve that denote his distinct powers in each of the twelve months. Those powers are called Adityas, each of whom has a particular name. Surya is supposed frequently to have descended upon earth, in a human shape, and to have left a race on earth, equally renowned in Indian story with the Heliades of Greece. He is often styled King of the Stars and Planets, and thus reminds us of the Adon-Tsbauth (Lord of the Starry Hosts) of the Hebrew writings.
MITHRAS was the Sun-God of the Persians; and was fabled to have been born in a grotto or cave, at the Winter Solstice. His feasts were celebrated at that period, at the moment when the sun commenced to return Northward, and to increase the length of the days. This was the great Feast of the Magian religion. The Roman Calendar, published in the time of Constantine, at which period his worship began to gain ground in the Occident, fixed his feast-day on the 25th of December. His statues and images were inscribed, Deo-Soli invicto Mithræ–to the invincible Sun-God Mithras. Nomen invictum Sol Mithra. . . . Soli Omnipotenti Mithræ. To him, gold, incense, and myrrh were consecrated. “Thee,” says Martianus Capella, in his hymn to the Sun, “the dwellers on the Nile adore as Serapis, and Memphis worships as Osiris; in the sacred rites of Persia thou art Mithras, in Phrygia, Atys, and Libya bows down to thee as Ammon, and Phœnician Byblos as Adonis; and thus the whole world adores thee under different names.”
OSIRIS was the son of Helios (Phra), the “divine offspring con-generate with the dawn,” and at the same time an incarnation of Kneph or Agathodæmon, the Good Spirit, including all his possible manifestations, either physical or moral. He represented in a familiar form the beneficent aspect of all higher emanations and in him was developed the conception of a Being purely good, so that it became necessary to set up another power as his adversary, called Seth, Babys or Typhon, to account for the injurious influences of Nature.
With the phenomena of agriculture, supposed to be the invention of Osiris, the Egyptians connected the highest truths of their religion. The soul of man was as the seed hidden in the ground, and the mortal framework, similarly consigned to its dark resting-place, awaited its restoration to life’s unfailing source. Osiris was not only benefactor of the living; he was also Hades, Serapis, and Rhadamanthus, the monarch of the dead. Death, therefore, in Egyptian opinion, was only another name for renovation, since its God is the same power who incessantly renews vitality in Nature. Every corpse duly embalmed was called “Osiris,” and in the grave was supposed to be united, or at least brought into approximation, to the Divinity. For when God became incarnate for man’s benefit, it was implied that, in analogy with His assumed character, He should submit to all the conditions of visible existence. In death, as in life, Isis and Osiris were patterns and precursors of mankind; their sepulchres stood within the temples of the Superior Gods; yet though their remains might be entombed at Memphis or Abydus, their divinity was unimpeached, and they either shone as luminaries in the heavens, or in the unseen world presided over the futurity of the disembodied spirits whom death had brought nearer to them.
The notion of a dying God, so frequent in Oriental legend, and of which we have already said much in former Degrees, was the natural inference from a literal interpretation of nature-worship; since nature, which in the vicissitudes of the seasons seems to undergo a dissolution, was to the earliest religionists the express image of the Deity, and at a remote period one and the same with the “varied God,” whose attributes were seen not only in its vitality, but in its changes. The unseen Mover of the Universe was rashly identified with its obvious fluctuations. The speculative Deity suggested by the drama of nature, was worshipped with imitative and sympathetic rites. A period of mourning about the Autumnal Equinox, and of joy at the return of Spring, was almost universal. Phrygians and Paphlagonians, Bœotians, and even Athenians, were all more or less attached to such observances; the Syrian damsels sat weeping for Thammuz or Adoni, mortally wounded by the tooth of Winter, symbolized by the boar, its very general emblem: and these rites, and those of Atys and Osiris, were evidently suggested by the arrest of vegetation, when the Sun, descending from his altitude, seems deprived of his generating power.
Osiris is a being analogous to the Syrian ADONI; and the fable of his history, which we need not here repeat, is a narrative form of the popular religion of Egypt, of which the Sun is the Hero, and the agricultural calendar the moral. The moist valley of the Nile, owing its fertility to the annual inundation, appeared, in contrast with the surrounding desert, like life in the midst of death. The inundation was in evident dependence on the Sun, and Egypt, environed with arid deserts, like a heart within a burning censer, was the female power, dependent on the influences personified in its God. Typhon his brother, the type of darkness, drought, and sterility, threw his body into the Nile; and thus Osiris, the “good,” the “Saviour,” perished, in the 28th year of his life or reign, and on the 17th day of the month Athor, or the 13th of November. He is also made to die during the heats of the early Summer, when, from March to July, the earth was parched with intolerable heat, vegetation was scorched, and the languid Nile exhausted. From that death he rises when the Solstitial Sun brings the inundation, and Egypt is filled with mirth and acclamation anticipatory of the second harvest. From his Wintry death he rises with the early flowers of Spring, and then the joyful festival of Osiris found was celebrated.
So the pride of Jemsheed, one of the Persian Sun-heroes, or the solar year personified, was abruptly cut off by Zohak, the tyrant of the West. He was sawn asunder by a fish-bone, and immediately the brightness of Iran changed to gloom. Ganymede and Adonis, like Osiris, were hurried off in all their strength and beauty; the premature death of Linus, the burthen of the ancient lament of Greece, was like that of the Persian Siamek, the Bithynian Hylas, and the Egyptian Maneros, Son of Menes or the Eternal. The elegy called Maneros was sung at Egyptian banquets, and an effigy enclosed within a diminutive Sarcophagus was handed round to remind the guests of their brief tenure of existence. The beautiful Memnon, also, perished in his prime; and Enoch, whose early death was lamented at Iconium, lived 365 years, the number of days of the solar year; a brief space when compared with the longevity of his patriarchal kindred.
The story of Osiris is reflected in those of Orpheus and Dionusos Zagreus, and perhaps in the legends of Absyrtus and Pelias, of Æson, Thyestes, Melicertes, Itys, and Pelops. Io is the disconsolate Isis or Niobe: and Rhea mourns her dismembered Lord, Hyperion, and the death of her son Helios, drowned in the Eridanus; and if Apollo and Dionusos are immortal, they had died under other names, as Orpheus, Linus, or Hyacinthus. The sepulchre of Zeus was shown in Crete. Hippolytus was associated in divine honors with Apollo, and after he had been torn to pieces like Osiris, was restored to life by the Pæonian herbs of Diana, and kept darkling in the secret grove of Egeria. Zeus deserted Olympus to visit the Ethiopians; Apollo underwent servitude to Admetus; Theseus, Peirithous, Hercules, and other heroes, descended for a time to Hades; a dying Nature-God was exhibited in the Mysteries, the Attic women fasted, sitting on the ground, during the Thesmophoria, and the Bœotians lamented the descent of Cora-Proserpine to the Shades.
But the death of the Deity, as understood by the Orientals, was not inconsistent with His immortality. The temporary decline of the Sons of Light is but an episode in their endless continuity; and as the day and year are more convenient subdivisions of the Infinite, so the fiery deaths of Phaëthon or Hercules are but breaks in the same Phœnix process of perpetual regeneration, by which the spirit of Osiris lives forever in the succession of the Memphian Apis. Every year witnesses the revival of Adonis; and the amber tears shed by the Heliades for the premature death of their brother, are the golden shower full of prolific hope, in which Zeus descends from the brazen vault of Heaven into the bosom of the parched ground.
BAL, representative or personification of the sun, was one of the Great Gods of Syria, Assyria, and Chaldea, and his name is found upon the monuments of Nimroud, and frequently occurs in the Hebrew writings. He was the Great Nature-God of Babylonia, the Power of heat, life, and generation. His symbol was the Sun, and he was figured seated on a bull. All the accessories of his great temple at Babylon, described by Herodotus, are repeated with singular fidelity, but on a smaller scale, in the Hebrew tabernacle and temple. The golden statue alone is wanted to complete the resemblance. The word Bal or Baal, like the word Adon, signifies Lord and Master. He was also the Supreme Deity of the Moabites, Amonites, and Carthaginians, and of the Sabeans in general; the Gauls worshipped the Sun under the name of Belin or Belinus: and Bela is found among the Celtic Deities upon the ancient monuments.
The Northern ancestors of the Greeks maintained with hardier habits a more manly style of religious symbolism than the effeminate enthusiasts of the South, and had embodied in their Perseus, HERCULES and MITHRAS, the consummation of the qualities they esteemed and exercised.
Almost every nation will be found to have had a mythical being, whose strength or weakness, virtues or defects, more or less nearly describe the Sun’s career through the seasons. There was a Celtic, a Teutonic, a Scythian, an Etruscan, a Lydian Hercules, all whose legends became tributary to those of the Greek hero. The name of Hercules was found by Herodotus to have been long familiar in Egypt and the East, and to have originally belonged to a much higher personage than the comparatively modern hero known in Greece as the Son of Alcmena. The temple of the Hercules of Tyre was reported to have been built 2300 years before the time of Herodotus; and Hercules, whose Greek name has been sometimes supposed to be of Phœnician origin, in the sense of Circuitor, i.e. “rover” and “perambulator” of earth, as well as “Hyperion” of the sky, was the patron and model of those famous navigators who spread his altars from coast to coast through the Mediterranean, to the extremities of the West, where “ARKALEUS” built the City of Gades, and where a perpetual fire burned in his service. He was the lineal descendant of Perseus, the luminous child of darkness, conceived within a subterranean vault of brass; and he a representation of the Persian Mithras, rearing his emblematic lions above the gates of Mycenæ, and bringing the sword of Jemsheed to battle against the Gorgons of the West. Mithras is similarly described in the Zend-Avesta as the “mighty hero, the rapid runner, whose piercing eye embraces all, whose arm bears the club for the destruction of the Darood.”
Hercules Ingeniculus, who, bending on one knee, uplifts his club and tramples on the Serpent’s head, was, like Prometheus and Tantalus, one of the varying aspects of the struggling and declining Sun. The victories of Hercules are but exhibitions of Solar power which have ever to be repeated. It was in the far North, among the Hyperboreans, that, divested of his Lion’s skin, he lay down to sleep, and for a time lost the horses of his chariot. Henceforth that Northern region of gloom, called the “place of the death and revival of Adonis,” that Caucasus whose summit was so lofty, that, like the Indian Meru, it seemed to be both the goal and commencement of the Sun’s career, became to Greek imaginations the final bourne of all things, the abode of Winter and desolation, the pinnacle of the arch connecting the upper and lower world, and consequently the appropriate place for the banishment .of Prometheus. The daughters of Israel, weeping for Thammuz, mentioned by Ezekiel, sat looking to the North, and waiting for his return from that region. It was while Cybele with the Sun-God was absent among the Hyperboreans, that Phrygia, abandoned by her, suffered the horrors of famine. Delos and Delphi awaited the return of Apollo from the Hyperboreans, and Hercules brought thence to Olympia the olive. To all Masons, the North has immemorially been the place of darkness; and of the great lights of the Lodge, none is in the North.
Mithras, the rock-born hero (Πετρογενης), heralded the Sun’s return in Spring, as Prometheus, chained in his cavern, betokened the continuance of Winter. The Persian beacon on the mountain-top represented the Rock-born Divinity enshrined in his worthiest temple; and the funeral conflagration of Hercules was the sun dying in glory behind the Western hills. But though the transitory manifestation suffers or dies, the abiding and eternal power liberates and saves. It was an essential attribute of a Titan, that he should arise again after his fall; for the revival of Nature is as certain as its decline, and its alternations are subject to the appointment of a power which controls them both.
“God,” says Maximus Tyrius, “did not spare His own Son [Hercules], or exempt Him from the calamities incidental to humanity. The Theban progeny of Jove had his share of pain and trial. By vanquishing earthly difficulties he proved his affinity with Heaven. His life was a continuous struggle. He fainted before Typhon in the desert; and in the commencement of the Autumnal season (cum longæ redit hora noctis), descended under the guidance of Minerva to Hades. He died; but first applied for initiation to Eumolpus, in order to foreshadow that state of religious preparation which should precede the momentous change. Even in Hades he rescued Theseus and removed the stone of Ascalaphus, reanimated the bloodless spirits, and dragged into the light of day the monster Cerberus, justly reputed invincible because an emblem of Time itself; he burst the chains of the grave (for Busiris is the grave personified), and triumphant at the close as in the dawn of his career, was received after his labors into the repose of the heavenly mansions, living forever with Zeus in the arms of Eternal Youth.
ODIN is said to have borne twelve names among the old Germans, and to have had 114 names besides. He was the Apollo of the Scandinavians, and is represented in the Voluspa as destined to slay the monstrous snake. Then the Sun will be extinguished, the earth be dissolved in the ocean, the stars lose their brightness, and all Nature be destroyed in order that it may be renewed again. From the bosom of the waters a new world will emerge clad in verdure; harvests will be seen to ripen where no seed was sown, and evil will disappear.
The free fancy of the ancients, which wove the web of their myths and legends, was consecrated by faith. It had not, like the modern mind, set apart a petty sanctuary of borrowed beliefs, beyond which all the rest was common and unclean. Imagination, reason, and religion circled round the same symbol; and in all their symbols there was serious meaning, if we could but find it out. They did not devise fictions in the same vapid spirit in which we, cramped by conventionalities, read them. In endeavoring to interpret creations of fancy, fancy as well as reason must guide: and much of modern controversy arises out of heavy misapprehensions off ancient symbolism.
To those ancient peoples, this earth was the centre of the Universe. To them there were no other worlds, peopled with living beings, to divide the care and attention of the Deity. To them the world was a great plain, of unknown, perhaps inconceivable limits, and the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars journeyed above it, to give them light. The worship of the Sun became the basis of all the religions of antiquity. To them light and heat were mysteries; as indeed they still are to us. As the Sun caused the day, and his absence the night; as, when he journeyed Northward, Spring and Summer followed him; and when he again turned to the South, Autumn and inclement Winter, and cold and long dark nights ruled the earth; . . . as his influence produced the leaves and flowers, and ripened the harvests, and brought regular inundation, he necessarily became to them the most interesting object of the material Universe. To them he was the innate fire of bodies, the fire of nature. Author of Life, heat, and ignition, he was to them the efficient cause of all generation, for without him there was no movement, no existence, no form. He was to them immense, indivisible, imperishable, and everywhere present. It was their need of light, and of his creative energy, that was felt by all men; and nothing was more fearful to them than his absence. His beneficent influences caused his identification with the Principle of Good; and the BRAHMA of the Hindūs, the MITHRAS of the Persians, and ATHOM, AMUN, PHTHA, and OSIRIS, of the Egyptians, the BEL of the Chaldæans, the ADONAI of the Phœnicians, the ADONIS and APOLLO of the Greeks became but personifications of the Sun, the regenerating Principle, image of that fecundity which perpetuates and rejuvenates the world’s existence.
So too the struggle between the Good and Evil Principles was personified, as was that between life and death, destruction and re-creation; in allegories and fables which poetically represented the apparent course of the Sun; who, descending toward the Southern Hemisphere, was figuratively said to be conquered and put to death by darkness, or the genius of Evil; but, returning again toward the Northern Hemisphere, he seemed to be victorious, and to arise from the tomb. This death and resurrection were also figurative of the succession of day and night, of death, which is a necessity of life, and of life which is born of death; and everywhere the ancients still saw the combat between the two Principles that ruled the world. Everywhere this contest was embodied in allegories and fictitious histories: into which were ingeniously woven all the astronomical phenomena that accompanied, preceded, or followed the different movements of the Sun, and the changes of Seasons, the approach or withdrawal of inundation. And thus grew into stature and strange proportions the histories of the contests between Typhon and Osiris, Hercules and Juno, the Titans and Jupiter, Ormuzd and Ahriman, the rebellious Angels and the Deity, the Evil Genii and the Good; and the other like fables, found not only in Asia, but in the North of Europe, and even among the Mexicans and Peruvians of the New World; carried thither, in all probability, by those Phœnician voyagers who bore thither civilization and the arts. The Scythians lamented the death of Acmon, the Persians that of Zohak conquered by Pheridoun, the Hindus that of Soura-Parama slain by Soupra-Muni, as the Scandinavians did that of Balder, torn to pieces by the blind Hother.
The primitive idea of infinite space existed in the first men, as it exists in us. It and the idea of infinite time are the first two innate ideas. Man cannot conceive how thing can be added to thing, or event follow event, forever. The idea will ever return, that no matter how long bulk is added to bulk, there must be, still beyond, an empty void without limit; in which is nothing. In the same way the idea of time without beginning or end forces itself on him. Time, without events, is also a void, and nothing.
In that empty void space the primitive men knew there was no light nor warmth. They felt, what we know scientifically, that there must be a thick darkness there, and an intensity of cold of which we have no conception. Into that void they thought the Sun, the Planets, and the Stars went down when they set under the Western Horizon. Darkness was to them an enemy, a harm, a vague dread and terror. It was the very embodiment of the evil principle; and out of it they said that he was formed. As the Sun bent Southward toward that void, they shuddered with dread: and when, at the Winter Solstice, he again commenced his Northward march, they rejoiced and feasted; as they did at the Summer Solstice, when most he appeared to smile upon them in his pride of place. These days have been celebrated by all civilized nations ever since. The Christian has made them feast-days of the church, and appropriated them to the two Saints John; and Masonry has done the same.
We, to whom the vast Universe has become but a great machine, not instinct with a great SOUL, but a clockwork of proportions unimaginable, but still infinitely less than infinite; and part at least of which we with our orreries can imitate; we, who have measured the distances and dimensions, and learned the specific gravity and determined the orbits of the moon and the planets; we, who know the distance to the sun, and his size; have measured the orbits of the flashing comets, and the distances of the fixed stars; and know the latter to be suns like our sun, each with his retinue of worlds, and all governed by the same unerring, mechanical laws and outwardly imposed forces, centripetal and centrifugal; we, who with our telescopes have separated the galaxy and the nebula into other stars and groups of stars; discovered new planets, by first discovering their disturbing forces upon those already known; and learned that they all, Jupiter, Venus, and the fiery Mars, and Saturn and the others, as well as the bright, mild, and ever-changing Moon, are mere dark, dull, opaque clods like our earth, and not living orbs of brilliant fire and heavenly light; we, who have counted the mountains and chasms in the moon, with glasses that could distinctly reveal to us the temple of Solomon, if it stood there in its old original glory; we, who no longer imagine that the stars control our destinies, and who can calculate the eclipses of the sun and moon, backward and forward, for ten thousand years; we, with our vastly increased conceptions of the powers of the Grand Architect of the Universe, but our wholly material and mechanical view of that Universe itself; we cannot, even in the remotest degree, feel, though we may partially and imperfectly imagine, how those great, primitive, simple-hearted children of Nature felt in regard to the Starry Hosts, there upon the slopes of the Himalayas, on the Chaldæan plains, in the Persian and Median deserts, and upon the banks of that great, strange River, the Nile. To them the Universe was alive–instinct with forces and powers, mysterious and beyond their comprehension. To them it was no machine, no great system of clockwork; but a great live creature, an army of creatures, in sympathy with or inimical to man. To them, all was a mystery and a miracle, and the stars flashing overhead spoke to their hearts almost in an audible language. Jupiter, with his kingly splendors, was the Emperor of the starry legions. Venus looked lovingly on the earth and blessed it; Mars, with his crimson fires, threatened war and misfortune; and Saturn, cold and grave, chilled and repelled them. The ever-changing Moon, faithful companion of the Sun, was a constant miracle and wander; the Sun himself the visible emblem of the creative and generative power. To them the earth was a great plain, over which the sun, the moon, and the planets revolved, its servants, framed to give it light. Of the stars, some were beneficent existences that brought with them Spring-time and fruits and flowers,–some, faithful sentinels, advising them of coming inundation, of the season of storm and of deadly winds; some heralds of evil, which, steadily foretelling, they seemed to cause. To them the eclipses were portents of evil, and their causes hidden in mystery, and supernatural. The regular returns of the stars, the comings of Arcturus, Orion, Sirius, the Pleiades, and Aldebarán, and the journeyings of the Sun, were voluntary and not mechanical to them. What wonder that astronomy became to them the most important of sciences; that those who learned it became rulers; and that vast edifices, the Pyramids, the tower or temple of Bel, and other like erections everywhere in the East, were builded for astronomical purposes?–and what wonder that, in their great child-like simplicity, they worshipped Light, the Sun, the Planets, and the Stars, and personified them, and eagerly believed in the histories invented for them; in that age when the capacity for belief was infinite; as indeed, if we but reflect, it still is and ever will be?
If we adhered to the literally historic sense, antiquity would be a mere inexplicable, hideous chaos, and all the Sages deranged: and so it would be with Masonry and those who instituted it. But when these allegories are explained, they cease to be absurd fables, or facts purely local; and become lessons of wisdom for entire humanity. No one can doubt, who studies them, that they all came from a common source.
And he greatly errs who imagines that, because the mythological legends and fables of antiquity are referable to and have their foundation in the phenomena of the Heavens, and all the Heathen Gods are but mere names given to the Sun, the Stars, the Planets, the Zodiacal Signs, the Elements, the Powers of Nature, and Universal Nature herself, therefore the first men worshipped the Stars, and whatever things, animate and inanimate, seemed to them to possess and exercise a power or influence, evident or imagined, over human, fortunes and human destiny.
For ever, in all the nations, ascending to the remotest antiquity to which the light of History or the glimmerings of tradition reach, we find, seated above all the gods which represent the luminaries and the elements, and those which personify the innate Powers of universal nature, a still higher Deity, silent, undefined, incomprehensible, the Supreme, one God, from Whom all the rest flow or emanate, or by Him are created. Above the Time-God Horus, the Moon-Goddess or Earth-Goddess Isis, and the Sun-God Osiris, of the Egyptians, was Amun, the Nature-God; and above him, again, the Infinite, Incomprehensible Deity, ATHOM. BREHM, the silent, self-contemplative, one original God, was the Source, to the Hindūs, of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. Above Zeus, or before him, were Kronos and Ouranos. Over the Alohayim was the great Nature-God AL, and still beyond him, Abstract Existence, IHUH–He that IS, WAS, and SHALL BE. Above all the Persian Deities was the Unlimited Time, ZERUANE-AKHERENE; and over Odin and Thor was the Great Scandinavian Deity ALFADIR.
The worship of Universal Nature as a God was too near akin to the worship of a Universal Soul, to have been the instinctive creed of any savage people or rude race of men. To imagine all nature, with all its apparently independent parts, as forming one consistent whole, and as itself a unit, required an amount of experience and a faculty of generalization not possessed by the rude uncivilized mind, and is but a step below the idea of a universal Soul.
In the beginning man had the WORD; and that WORD was from God; and out of the living POWER communicated to man in and by that WORD, came THE LIGHT of His Existence.
God made man in His own likeness. When, by a long succession of geological changes, He had prepared the earth to be his habitation, He created him, and placed him in that part of Asia which all the old nations agreed in calling the cradle of the human race, and whence afterward the stream of human life flowed forth to India, China, Egypt, Persia, Arabia, and Phœnicia. HE communicated to him a knowledge of the nature of his Creator, and of the pure, primitive, undefiled religion. The peculiar and distinctive excellence and real essence of the primitive man, and his true nature and destiny, consisted in his likeness to God. HE stamped His own image upon man’s soul. That image has been, in the breast of every individual man and of mankind in general, greatly altered, impaired, and defaced; but its old, half-obliterated characters are still to be found on all the pages of primitive history; and the impress, not entirely effaced, every reflecting mind may discover in its own interior.
Of the original revelation to mankind, of the primitive WORD of Divine TRUTH, we find clear indications and scattered traces in the sacred traditions of all the primitive Nations; traces which, when separately examined, appear like the broken remnants, the mysterious and hieroglyphic characters, of a mighty edifice that has been destroyed; and its fragments, like those of the old Temples and Palaces of Nimroud, wrought incongruously into edifices many centuries younger. And, although amid the ever-growing degeneracy of mankind, this primeval word of revelation was falsified by the admixture of various errors, and overlaid and obscured by numberless and manifold fictions, inextricably confused, and disfigured almost beyond the power of recognition, still a profound inquiry will discover in heathenism many luminous vestiges of primitive Truth.
For the old Heathenism had everywhere a foundation in Truth; and if we could separate that pure intuition into nature and into the simple symbols of nature, that constituted the basis of all Heathenism, from the alloy of error and the additions of fiction, those first hieroglyphic traits of the instinctive science of the first men, would be found to agree with truth and a true knowledge of nature, and to afford an image of a free, pure, comprehensive, and finished philosophy of life.
The struggle, thenceforward to be eternal, between the Divine will and the natural will in the souls of men, commenced immediately after the creation. Cain slew his brother Abel, and went forth to people parts of the earth with an impious race, forgetters and defiers of the true God. The other Descendants of the Common Father of the race intermarried with the daughters of Cain’s Descendants: and all nations preserved the remembrance of that division of the human family into the righteous and impious, in their distorted legends of the wars between the Gods, and the Giants and Titans. When, afterward, another similar division occurred, the Descendants of Seth alone preserved the true primitive religion and science, and transmitted them to posterity in the ancient symbolical character, on monuments of stone: and many nations preserved in their legendary traditions the memory of the columns of Enoch and Seth.
Then the world declined from its original happy condition and fortunate estate, into idolatry and barbarism: but all nations retained the memory of that old estate; and the poets, in those early days the only historians, commemorated the succession of the ages of gold, silver, brass, and iron.
In the lapse of those ages, the sacred tradition followed various courses among each of the most ancient nations; and from its original source, as from a common centre, its various streams flowed downward; some diffusing through favored regions of the world fertility and life; but others soon losing themselves, and being dried up in the sterile sands of human error.
After the internal and Divine WORD originally communicated by God to man, had become obscured; after man’s connection with his Creator had been broken, even outward language necessarily fell into disorder and confusion. The simple and Divine Truth was overlaid with various and sensual fictions, buried under illusive symbols, and at last perverted into horrible phantoms.
For in the progress of idolatry it needs came to pass, that what was originally revered as the symbol of a higher principle, became gradually confounded or identified with the object itself, and was worshiped; until this error led to a more degraded form of idolatry. The early nations received much from the primeval source of sacred tradition; but that haughty pride which seems an inherent part of human nature led each to represent these fragmentary relics of original truth as a possession peculiar to themselves; thus exaggerating their value, and their own importance, as peculiar favorites of the Deity, who had chosen them as the favored people to whom to commit these truths. To make these fragments, as far as possible, their private property, they reproduced them under peculiar forms, wrapped them up in symbols, concealed them in allegories, and invented fables to account for their own special possession of them. So that, instead of preserving in their primitive simplicity and purity these blessings of original revelation, they overlaid them with poetical ornament; and the whole wears a fabulous aspect, until by close and severe examination we discover the truth which the apparent fable contains.
These being the conflicting elements in the breast of man; the old inheritance or original dowry of truth, imparted to him by God in the primitive revelation; and error, or the foundation for error, in his degraded sense and spirit now turned from God to nature, false faiths easily sprung up and grew rank and luxuriant, when the Divine Truth was no longer guarded with jealous care, nor preserved in its pristine purity. This soon happened among most Eastern nations, and especially the Indians, the Chaldæans, the Arabians, the Persians, and the Egyptians; with whom imagination, and a very deep but still sensual feeling for nature, were very predominant. The Northern firmament, visible to their eyes, possesses by far the largest and most brilliant constellations; and they were more alive to the impressions made by such objects, than are the men of the present day.
With the Chinese, a patriarchal, simple, and secluded people, idolatry long made but little progress. They invented writing within three or four generations after the flood; and they long preserved the memory of much of the primitive revelation; less overlaid with fiction than those fragments which other nations have remembered. They were among those who stood nearest to the source of sacred tradition; and many passages in their old writings contain remarkable vestiges of eternal truth, and of the WORD of primitive revelation, the heritage of old thought, which attest to us their original eminence.
But among the other early nations, a wild enthusiasm and a sensual idolatry of nature soon superseded the simple worship of the Almighty God, and set aside or disfigured the pure belief in the Eternal Uncreated Spirit. The great powers and elements of nature, and the vital principle of production and procreation through all generations; then the celestial spirits or heavenly Host, the luminous armies of the Stars, and the great Sun, and mysterious, ever-changing Moon (all of which the whole ancient world regarded not as mere globes of light or bodies of fire, but as animated living substances, potent over man’s fate and destinies); next the genii and tutelar spirits, and even the souls of the dead, received divine worship. The animals, representing the starry constellations, first reverenced as symbols merely, came to be worshipped as gods; the heavens, earth, and the operations of nature were personified; and fictitious personages invented to account for the introduction of science and arts, and the fragments of the old religious truths; and the good and bad principles personified, became also objects of worship; while, through all, still shone the silver threads .of the old primitive revelation.
Increasing familiarity with early oriental records seems more and more to confirm the probability that they all originally emanated from one source. The eastern and southern slopes of the Paropismus, or Hindukusch, appear to have been inhabited by kindred Iranian races, similar in habits, language, and religion. The earliest Indian and Persian Deities are for the most part symbols of celestial light, their agency being regarded as an eternal warfare with the powers of Winter, storm, and darkness. The religion of both was originally a worship of outward nature, especially the manifestations of fire and light; the coincidences being too marked to be merely accidental. Deva, God, is derived from the root div, to shine. Indra, like Ormuzd or Ahura-Mazda, is the bright firmament; Sura or Surya, the Heavenly, a name of the Sun, recurs in the Zend word Huare, the Sun, whence Khur and Khorshid or Corasch. Uschas and Mitra are Medic as well as Zend Deities and the Amschaspands or “immortal Holy Ones” of the Zend-Avesta may be compared with the seven Rishis or Vedic Star-God, of the constellation of the Bear. Zoroastrianism, like Buddhism, was an innovation in regard to an older religion; and between the Parsee and Brahmin may be found traces of disruption as well as of coincidence. The original Nature-worship, in which were combined the conceptions both of a Universal Presence and perpetuity of action, took different directions of development, according to the difference between the Indian and Persian mind.
The early shepherds of the Punjaub, then called the country of the Seven Rivers, to whose intuitional or inspired wisdom (Veda) we owe what are perhaps the most ancient religious effusions extant in any language, apostrophized as living beings the physical objects of their worship. First in this order of Deities stands Indra, the God of the “blue” or “glittering” firmament, called Devaspiti, Father of the Devas or Elemental Powers, who measured out the circle of the sky, and made fast the foundations of the Earth; the ideal domain of Varouna, “the All-encompasser,” is almost equally extensive, including air, water, night, the expanse between Heaven and Earth; Agni, who lives on the fire of the sacrifice, on the domestic hearth, and in the lightnings of the sky, is the great Mediator between God and Man; Uschas, or the Dawn, leads forth the Gods in the morning to make their daily repast in the intoxicating Soma of Nature’s offertory, of which the Priest could only compound from simples a symbolical imitation. Then came the various Sun-Gods, Adityas or Solar Attributes, Surya the Heavenly, Savitri the Progenitor, Pashan the Nourisher, Bagha the Felicitous, and Mitra the Friend.
The coming forth of the Eternal Being to the work of creation was represented as a marriage, his first emanation being a universal mother, supposed to have potentially existed with him from Eternity, or, in metaphorical language, to have been “his sister and his spouse.” She became eventually promoted to be the Mother of the Indian Trinity, of the Deity under His three Attributes, of Creation, Preservation, and Change or Regeneration.
The most popular forms or manifestations of Vishnu the Pre-server, were his successive avataras or historic impersonations, which represented the Deity coming forth out of the incomprehensible mystery of His nature, and revealing Himself at those critical epochs which either in the physical or moral world seemed to mark a new commencement of prosperity and order. Combating the power of Evil in the various departments of Nature, and in successive periods of time, the Divinity, though varying in form, is ever in reality the same, whether seen in useful agricultural or social inventions, in traditional victories over rival creeds, or in physical changes faintly discovered through tradition, or suggested by cosmogonical theory. As Rama, the Epic hero armed with sword, club, and arrows, the prototype of Hercules and Mithras, he wrestles like the Hebrew Patriarch with the Powers of Darkness; as Chrishna-Govinda, the Divine Shepherd, he is the Messenger of Peace, overmastering the world by music and love. Under the human form he never ceases to be the Supreme Being. “The foolish” (he says, in Bhagavad Ghita), “unacquainted with my Supreme Nature, despise me in this human form, while men of great minds, enlightened by the Divine principle within them, acknowledge me as incorruptible and before all things, and serve me with undivided hearts.” “I am not recognized by all,” he says again, “because concealed by the supernatural power which is in me; yet to me are known all things past, present, and to come; I existed before Vaivaswata and Menou. I am the Most High God, the Creator of the World, the Eternal Poorooscha (Man-World or Genius of the World). And although in my own nature I am exempt from liability to birth or death, and am Lord of all created things, yet as often as in the world virtue is enfeebled, and vice and injustice prevail, so often do I become manifest and am revealed from age to age, to save the just, to destroy the guilty, and to reassure the faltering steps of virtue. He who acknowledgeth me as even so, doth not on quitting this mortal frame enter into another, for he entereth into me; and many who have trusted in me have already entered into me, being purified by the power of wisdom. I help those who walk in my path, even as they serve me.”
Brahma, the creating agent, sacrificed himself, when, by descending into material forms, he became incorporated with his work; and his mythological history was interwoven with that of the Universe. Thus, although spiritually allied to the Supreme, and Lord of all creatures (Prajapati), he shared the imperfection and corruption of an inferior nature, and, steeped in manifold and perishable forms, might be said, like the Greek Uranus, to be mutilated and fallen. He thus combined two characters, formless form, immortal and mortal, being and non-being, motion and rest. As Incarnate Intelligence, or THE WORD, he communicated to man what had been revealed to himself by the Eternal, since he is creation’s Soul as well as Body, within which the Divine Word is written in those living letters which it is the prerogative of the self-conscious spirit to interpret.
The fundamental principles of the religion of the Hindi’s consisted in the belief in the existence of One Being only, of the immortality of the soul, and of a future state of rewards and punishments. Their precepts of morality inculcate the practice of virtue as necessary for procuring happiness even in this transient life; and their religious doctrines make their felicity in a future state to depend upon it.
Besides their doctrine of the transmigration of souls, their dogmas may be epitomized under the following heads: 1st. The existence of one God, from Whom all things proceed, and to Whom all must return. To him they constantly apply these expressions–The Universal and Eternal Essence; that which has ever been and will ever continue; that which vivifies and pervades all things; He who is everywhere present, and causes the celestial bodies to revolve in the course He has prescribed to them. 2d. A tripartite division of the Good Principle, for the purposes of Creation, Preservation, and Renovation by change and death. 3d. The necessary existence of an Evil Principle, occupied in counteracting the benevolent purposes of the first, in their execution by the Devata or Subordinate Genii, to whom is entrusted the control over the various operations of nature.
And this was part of their doctrine: “One great and incomprehensible Being has alone existed from all Eternity. Everything we behold and we ourselves are portions of Him. The soul, mind or intellect, of gods and men, and of all sentient creatures, are detached portions of the Universal Soul, to which at stated periods they are destined to return. But the mind of finite beings is impressed by one uninterrupted series of illusions, which they consider as real, until again united to the great fountain of truth. Of these illusions, the first and most essential is individuality. By its influence, when detached from its source, the soul becomes ignorant of its own nature, origin, and destiny. It considers itself as a separate existence, and no longer a spark of the Divinity, a link of one immeasurable chain, an infinitely small but indispensable portion of one great whole.”
Their love of imagery caused them to personify what they conceived to be some of the attributes Of God, perhaps in order to present things in a way better adapted to the comprehensions of the vulgar, than the abstruse idea of an indescribable, invisible God; and hence the invention of a Brahma, a Vishnu, and a Siva or Iswara. These were represented under various forms; but no emblem or visible sign of Brihm or Brehm, the Omnipotent, is to be found. They considered the great mystery of the existence of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, as beyond human comprehension. Every creature endowed with the faculty of thinking, they held, must be conscious of the existence of a God, a first cause; but the attempt to explain the nature of that Being, or in any way to assimilate it with our own, they considered not only a proof of folly, but of extreme impiety.
The following extracts from their books will serve to show what were the real tenets of their creed:
‘By one Supreme Ruler is this Universe pervaded; even every world in the whole circle of nature. . There is one Supreme Spirit, which nothing can shake, more swift than the thought of man. That Supreme Spirit moves at pleasure, but in itself is immovable; it is distant from us, yet near us; it pervades this whole system of worlds; yet it is infinitely beyond it. That man who considers all beings as existing even in the Supreme Spirit, and the Supreme Spirit as pervading all beings, henceforth views no creature with contempt…. All spiritual beings are the same in kind with the Supreme Spirit. . . . The pure enlightened soul assumes a luminous form, with no gross body, with no perforation, with no veins or tendons, unblemished, untainted by sin: itself being a ray from the Infinite Spirit, which knows the Past and the Future, which pervades all, which existed with no cause but itself, which created all things as they are, in ages most remote. That all-pervading Spirit which gives light to the visible Sun, even the same in kind am I, though infinitely distant in degree. Let my soul return to the immortal Spirit of God, and then let my body, which ends in ashes, return to dust! O Spirit, who pervadest fire, lead us in a straight path to the riches of beatitude.
Thou, O God, possessest all the treasures of knowledge! Remove each foul taint from our souls!
“From what root springs mortal man, when felled by the hand of death? Who can make him spring again to birth? God, who is perfect wisdom, perfect happiness. He is the final refuge of the man who has liberally bestowed his wealth, who has been firm in virtue, who knows and adores that Great One. . . . Let us adore the supremacy of that Divine Sun, the Godhead who illuminates all, who re-creates all, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return, whom we invoke to direct our understandings aright, in our progress toward his holy seat. . . . What the Sun and Light are to this visible world, such is truth to the intellectual and visible Universe. . . . Our souls acquire certain knowledge, by meditating on the light of Truth, which emanates from the Being of Beings. . . . That Being, without eyes sees, without ears hears all; he knows whatever can be known, but there is none who knows him; him the wise call the Great, Supreme, Pervading Spirit. . . . Perfect Truth, Perfect Happiness, without equal, immortal; absolute unity, whom neither speech can describe, nor mind comprehend: all-pervading, all-transcending, delighted with his own boundless intelligence, nor limited by space or time; without feet, running swiftly; without hands, grasping all worlds; without eyes, all-surveying; without ears, all-hearing; without an intelligent guide, understanding all; without cause, the first of all causes; all-ruling, all-powerful, the Creator, Preserver, Transformer of all things: such is the Great One; this the Vedas declare.
“May that soul of mine, which mounts aloft in my waking hours as an ethereal spark, and which, even in my slumber, has a like ascent, soaring to a great distance, as an emanation from the Light of Lights, be united by devout meditation with the Spirit supremely blest, and supremely intelligent! . . . May that soul of mine, which was itself the primeval oblation placed within all creatures. . . . which is a ray of perfect wisdom, which is the inextinguishable light fixed within created bodies, without which no good act is performed. . . . in which as an immortal essence may be comprised whatever has passed, is present, or will be hereafter. . . . be united by devout meditation with the Spirit supremely blest and supremely intelligent
“The Being of Beings is the Only God, eternal and everywhere present, Who comprises everything. There is no God but He . . . . The Supreme Being is invisible, incomprehensible, immovable, without figure or shape. No one has ever seen Him; time never comprised Him; His essence pervades everything; all was derived from Him.
“The duty of a good man, even in the moment of his destruction, consists not only in forgiving, but even in a desire of benefiting his destroyer; as the sandal-tree, in the instant of its overthrow, sheds perfume on the axe which fells it.”
The Vedanta and Nyaya philosophers acknowledge a Supreme Eternal Being, and the immortality of the soul: though, like the Greeks, they differ in their ideas of those subjects. They speak of the Supreme Being as an eternal essence that pervades space, and gives life or existence. Of that universal and eternal pervading spirit, the Vedanti suppose four modifications; but as these do not change its nature, and as it would be erroneous to ascribe to each of them a distinct essence, so it is equally erroneous, they say, to imagine that the various modifications by which the All-pervading Being exists, or displays His power, are individual existences. Creation is not considered as the instant production of things, but only as the manifestation of that which exists eternally in the one Universal Being. The Nyaya philosophers believe that spirit and matter are eternal; but they do not suppose that the world in its present form has existed from eternity, but only the primary matter from which it sprang when operated on by the almighty Word of God, the Intelligent Cause and Supreme Being, Who produced the combinations or aggregations which compose the material Universe. Though they believe that soul is an emanation from the Supreme Being, they distinguish it from that Being, in its individual existence. Truth and Intelligence are the eternal attributes of God, not, they say, of the individual soul, which is susceptible Both of knowledge and ignorance, of pleasure and pain; and therefore God and it are distinct. Even when it returns to the Eternal, and attains supreme bliss, it undoubtedly does not cease. Though united to the Supreme Being, it is not absorbed in it, but still retains the abstract nature of definite or visible existence.
“The dissolution of the world,” they say, “consists in the destruction of the visible forms and qualities of things; but their material essence remains, and from it new worlds are formed by the creative energy of God; and thus the Universe is dissolved and renewed in endless succession.”
The Jainas, a sect at Mysore and elsewhere, say that the ancient religion of India and of the whole world consisted in the belief in one God, a pure Spirit, indivisible, omniscient and all-powerful; that God, having given to all things their appointed order and course of action, and to man a sufficient portion of reason, or understanding, to guide him in his conduct, leaves him to the operation of free will, without the entire exercise of which he could not be held answerable for his conduct.
Menou, the Hindū lawgiver, adored, not the visible, material Sun, but “that divine and incomparably greater light,” to use the words of the most venerable text in the Indian Scripture, “which illumines all, delights all, from which all proceed, to which all must return, and which alone can irradiate our intellects.” He thus commences his Institutes:
“Be it heard!
“This Universe existed only in the first divine idea yet unexpanded, as if involved in darkness, imperceptible, undefinable, undiscoverable by reason, and undiscovered by revelation, as if it were wholly immersed in sleep:
“Then the Sole Self-existing Power, Himself undiscovered, but making this world discernible, with five elements, and other principles of nature, appeared with undiminished glory, expanding His idea, or dispelling the gloom.
“He Whom the mind alone can perceive, whose essence eludes the eternal organs, who has no visible parts, who exists from Eternity, even He, the soul of all beings, Whom no being can comprehend, shone forth.
“He, having willed to produce various beings from His own divine Substance, first with a thought created the waters…. From that which is [precisely the Hebrew יהוה], the first cause, not the object of sense, existing everywhere in substance, not existing to our perception, without beginning or end” [the Α∴ and Ω∴, or the Ι∴Α∴Ω∴], “was produced the divine male famed in all worlds under the appellation of Brahma.”
Then recapitulating the different things created by Brahma, he adds: “He,” meaning Brahma [the Λογος, the WORD], “whose powers are incomprehensible, having thus created this Universe, was again absorbed in the Supreme Spirit, changing the time of energy for the time of repose.”
The Antareya A’ran’ya, one of the Vedas, gives this primitive idea of the creation: “In the beginning, the Universe was but a Soul: nothing else, active or inactive, existed. Then HE had this thought, I will create worlds; and thus HE created these different worlds; air, the light, mortal beings, and the waters.
“HE had this thought: Behold the worlds; I will create guardians for the worlds. So HE took of the water and fashioned a being clothed with the human form. He looked upon him, and of that being so contemplated, the mouth opened like an egg, and speech came forth, and from the speech fire. The nostrils opened, and through them went the breath of respiration, and by it the air was propagated. The eyes opened; from them came a luminous ray, and from it was produced the sun. The ears dilated; from them came hearing, and from hearing space:” . . . and, after the body of man, with the senses, was formed;–“HE, the Universal Soul, thus reflected: How can this body exist without Me? He examined through what extremity He could penetrate it. He said to Himself: If, without Me, the World is articulated, breath exhales, and sight sees; if hearing hears, the skin feels, and the: mind reflects, deglutition swallows, and the generative organ fulfils its functions, what then am I? And separating the suture of the cranium, He penetrated into man.”
Behold the great fundamental primitive truths! God, an infinite Eternal Soul or Spirit. Matter, not eternal nor self-existent, but created–created by a thought of God. After matter, and worlds, then man, by a like thought: and finally, after endowing him with the senses and a thinking mind, a portion, a spark, of God Himself penetrates the man, and becomes a living spirit within him.
The Vedas thus detail the creation of the world:
“In the beginning there was a single God, existing of Himself; Who, after having passed an eternity absorbed in the contemplation of His own being, desired to manifest His perfections outwardly of Himself; and created the matter of the world. The four elements being thus produced, but still mingled in confusion, He breathed upon the waters, which swelled up into an immense ball in the shape of an. egg, and, developing themselves, became the vault and orb of Heaven which encircles the earth. Having made the earth and the bodies of animal beings, this God, the essence of movement, gave to them, to animate them, a portion of His own being. Thus, the soul of everything that breathes being a fraction of the universal soul, none perishes; but each soul merely changes its mould and form, by passing successively into different bodies. Of all forms, that which most pleases the Divine Being is Man, as nearest approaching His own perfections. When a man, absolutely disengaging himself from his senses, absorbs himself in self-contemplation, he comes to discern the Divinity, and becomes part of Him.”
The Ancient Persians in many respects resembled the Hindūs,–in their language, their poetry, and their poetic legends. Their conquests brought them in contact with China; and they subdued Egypt and Judea. Their views of God and religion more resembled those of the Hebrews than those of any other nation; and indeed the latter people borrowed from them some prominent doctrines, that we are in the habit of regarding as an essential part of the original Hebrew creed.
Of the King of Heaven and Father of Eternal Light, of the pure World of LIGHT, of the Eternal WORD by which all things were created, of the Seven Mighty Spirits that stand next to the Throne of Light and Omnipotence, and of the glory of those Heavenly Hosts that encompass that Throne, of the Origin of Evil, and the Prince of Darkness, Monarch of the rebellious spirits, enemies of all good, they entertained tenets very similar to those of the Hebrews. Toward Egyptian idolatry they felt the strongest abhorrence, and under Cambyses pursued a regular plan for its utter extirpation. Xerxes, when he invaded Greece, destroyed the Temples and erected fire-chapels along the whole course of his march. Their religion was eminently spiritual, and the earthly fire and earthly sacrifice were but the signs and emblems of another devotion and a higher power.
Thus the fundamental doctrine of the ancient religion of India and Persia was at first nothing more than a simple veneration of nature, its pure elements and its primary energies, the sacred fire, and above all, Light, the air, not the lower atmospheric air, but the purer and brighter air of Heaven, the breath that animates and pervades the breath of mortal life. This pure and simple veneration of nature is perhaps the most ancient, and was by far the most generally prevalent in the primitive and patriarchal world. It was not originally a deification of nature, or a denial of the sovereignty of God. Those pure elements and primitive essences of created nature offered to the first men, still in a close communication with the Deity, not a likeness of resemblance, nor a mere fanciful image or a poetical figure, but a natural and true symbol of Divine power. Everywhere in the Hebrew writings the pure light or sacred fire is employed as an image of the all-pervading and all-consuming power and omnipresence of the Divinity. His breath was the first source of life; and the faint whisper of the breeze announced to the prophet His immediate presence.
“All things are the progeny of one fire. The Father perfected all things, and delivered them over to the Second Mind, whom all nations of men call the First. Natural works co-exist with the intellectual light of the Father; for it is the Soul which adorns the great Heaven, and which adorns it after the Father. The Soul, being a bright fire, by the power of the Father, remains immortal, and is mistress of life, and fills up the recesses of the world. For the fire which is first beyond, did not shut up his power in matter by works, but by mind, for the framer of the fiery world is the mind of mind, who first sprang from mind, clothing fire with fire. Father-begotten Light! for He alone, having from the Father’s power received the essence of intellect, is enabled to understand the mind of the Father; and to instill into all sources and principles the capacity of understanding, and of ever continuing in ceaseless revolving motion.” Such was the language of Zoroaster, embodying the old Persian ideas.
And the same ancient sage thus spoke of the Sun and Stars: “The Father made the whole Universe of fire and water and earth, and all-nourishing ether. He fixed a great multitude of moveless stars, that stand still forever, not by compulsion and unwillingly, but without desire to wander, fire acting upon fire. He congregated the seven firmaments of the world, and so surrounded the earth with the convexity of the Heavens; and therein set seven living existences, arranging their apparent disorder in regular orbits, six of them planets, and the Sun, placed in the centre, the seventh;–in that centre from which all lines, diverging which way soever, are equal; and the swift sun himself, revolving around a principal centre, and ever striving to reach the central and all-pervading light, bearing with him the bright Moon.”
And yet Zoroaster added: “Measure not the journeyings of the Sun, nor attempt to reduce them to rule; for he is carried by the eternal will of the Father, not for your sake. Do not endeavor to understand the impetuous course of the Moon; for she runs evermore under the impulse of necessity; and the progression of the Stars was not generated to serve any purpose of yours.”
Ormuzd says to Zoroaster, in the Boundehesch: “I am he who holds the Star-Spangled Heaven in ethereal space; who makes this sphere, which once was buried in darkness, a flood of light. Through me the Earth became a world firm and lasting–the earth on which walks the Lord of the world. I am he who makes the light of Sun, Moon, and Stars pierce the clouds. I make the corn seed, which perishing in the ground sprouts anew. . . . I created plan, whose eye is light, whose life is the breath of his nostrils. I placed within him life’s unextinguishable power.”
Ormuzd or Ahura-Mazda himself represented the primal light, distinct from the heavenly bodies, yet necessary to their existence, and the source of their splendor. The Amschaspands (Ameschaspenta, “immortal Holy Ones”), each presided over a special department of nature. Earth and Heaven, fire and water, the Sun and Moon, the rivers, trees, and mountains, even the artificial divisions of the day and year were addressed in prayer as tenanted by Divine beings, each separately ruling within his several sphere. Fire, in particular, that “most energetic of immortal powers,” the visible representative of the primal light, was invoked as “Son of Ormuzd.” The Sun, the Archimagus, that noblest and most powerful agent of divine power, who “steps forth as a Conqueror from the top of the terrible Alborj to rule over the world which he enlightens from the throne of Ormuzd,” was worshipped among other symbols by the name of MITHRAS, a beneficent and friendly genius, who, in the hymn addressed to him in the Zend-Avesta, bears the names given him by the Greeks, as the “Invincible” and the “Mediator”; the former, because in his daily strife with darkness he is the most active confederate of Ormuzd; the latter, as being the medium through which Heaven’s choicest blessings are communicated to men. He is called “the eye of Ormuzd, the effulgent Nero, pursuing his course triumphantly, fertilizer of deserts, most exalted of the Izeds or Yezatas, the never-sleeping, the protector of the land.” “When the dragon foe devastates my provinces,” says Ormuzd, “and afflicts them with famine, then is he struck down by the strong arm of Mithras, together with the Devs of Mazanderan. With his lance and his immortal club, the Sleepless Chief hurls down the Devs into the dust, when as Mediator he interposes to guard the City from evil,” Ahriman was by some Parsee sects considered older than Ormuzd, as darkness is older than light; he is imagined to have been unknown as a Malevolent Being in the early ages of the world, and the fall of man is attributed in the Boundehesch to an apostate worship of him, from which men were converted by a succession of prophets terminating with Zoroaster.
Mithras is not only light, but intelligence; that luminary which, though born in obscurity, will not only dispel darkness but conquer death. The warfare through which this consummation is to be reached, is mainly carried on through the instrumentality of the “Word,” that “ever-living emanation of the Deity, by virtue of which the world exists,” and of which the revealed formulas incessantly repeated in the liturgies of the Magi are but the expression. “What shall I do,” cried Zoroaster, “O Ormuzd, steeped in brightness, in order to battle with Daroodj-Ahriman, father of the Evil Law; how shall I make men pure and holy?” Ormuzd answered and said: “Invoke, O Zoroaster, the pure law of the Servants of Ormuzd; invoke the Amschaspands who shed abundance throughout the seven Keshwars; invoke the Heaven, Zeruana-Akarana, the birds travailing on high, the swift wind, the Earth; invoke my Spirit, me who am Ahura-Mazda, the purest, strongest, wisest, best of beings; me who have the most majestic body, who through purity am Supreme, whose Soul is the Excellent Word; and ye, all people, invoke me as I have commanded Zoroaster.”
Ahura-Mazda himself is the living WORD; he is called “First-born of all things, express image of the Eternal, very light of very light, the Creator, who by power of the Word which he never ceases to pronounce, made in 365 days the Heaven and the Earth.” The Word is said in the Yashna to have existed before all, and to be itself a Yazata, a personified object of prayer. It was revealed in Serosch, in Homa, and again, under Gushtasp, was manifested in Zoroaster.
Between life and death, between sunshine and shade, Mithras is the present exemplification of the Primal Unity from which all things arose, and into which, through his mediation, all contrarieties will ultimately be absorbed. His annual sacrifice is the Passover of the Magi, a symbolical atonement or pledge of moral and physical regeneration. He created the world in the beginning; and as at the close of each successive year he sets free the current of life to invigorate a fresh circle of being, so in the end of all things he will bring the weary sum of ages as a hecatomb before God, releasing by a final sacrifice the Soul of Nature from her perishable frame, to commence a brighter and purer existence.
Iamblichus (De Mys. viii. 4) says: “The Egyptians are far from ascribing all things to physical causes; life and intellect they distinguish from physical being, both in man and in the Universe. They place intellect and reason first as self-existent, and from these they derive the created world. As Parent of generated things they constitute a Demiurge, and acknowledge a vital force both in the Heavens and before the Heavens. They place Pure Intellect above and beyond the Universe, and another (that is, Mind revealed in the Material World), consisting of one continuous mind pervading the Universe, and apportioned to all its parts and spheres.” The Egyptian idea, then, was that of all transcendental philosophy–that of a Deity both immanent and transcendent–spirit passing into its manifestations, but not exhausted by so doing.
The wisdom recorded in the canonical rolls of Hermes quickly attained in this transcendental lore, all that human curiosity can ever discover. Thebes especially is said to have acknowledged a being without beginning or end, called Amun or Amun-Kneph, the all-pervading Spirit or Breath of Nature, or perhaps even some still more lofty object of reverential reflection, whom it was forbidden even to name. Such a being would in theory stand at the head of the three orders of Gods mentioned by Herodotus, these being regarded as arbitrary classifications of similar or equal beings, arranged in successive emanations, according to an estimate of their comparative dignity. The Eight Great Gods, or primary class, were probably manifestations of the emanated God in the several parts and powers of the Universe, each potentially comprising the whole Godhead.
In the ancient Hermetic books, as quoted by Iamblichus, occurred the following passage in regard to the Supreme Being:
“Before all the things that actually exist, and before all beginnings, there is one God, prior even to the first God and King, remaining unmoved in the singleness of his own Unity: for neither is anything conceived by intellect inwoven with him, nor anything else; but he is established as the exemplar of the God who is good, who is his own father, self-begotten, and has only one Parent. For he is something greater and prior to, and the fountain of all things, and the foundation of things conceived by the intellect, which are the first species. And from this ONE, the self-originated God caused himself to shine forth; for which reason he is his own father, and self-originated. For he is both a beginning and God of Gods, a Monad from the One, prior to substance and the beginning of substance; for from him is substantiality and substance, whence also he is called the beginning of things conceived by the intellect. These then are the most ancient beginnings of all things, which Hermes places before the ethereal and empyrean and celestial Gods.”
“CHANG-TI, or the Supreme Lord or Being,” said the old Chinese creed, “is the principle of everything that exists, and Father of all living. He is eternal, immovable, and independent: His power knows no bounds: His sight equally comprehends the Past, the Present, and the Future, and penetrates even to the inmost recesses of the heart. Heaven and earth are under his government: all events, all revolutions, are the consequences of his dispensation and will. He is pure, holy, and impartial; wickedness offends his sight; but he beholds with an eye of complacency the virtuous actions of men. Severe, yet just, he punishes vice in an exemplary manner, even in Princes and Rulers; and often casts down the guilty, to crown with honor the man who walks after his own heart, and whom he raises from obscurity. Good, merciful, and full of pity, he forgives the wicked upon their repentance: and public calamities and the irregularity of the seasons are but salutary warnings, which his fatherly goodness gives to men, to induce them to reform and amend.”
Controlled by reason infinitely more than by the imagination, that people, occupying the extreme East of Asia, did not fall into idolatry until after the time of Confucius, and within two centuries of the birth of Christ; when the religion of BUDDHA or Fo was carried thither from India. Their system was long regulated by the pure worship of God, and the foundation of their moral and political existence laid in a sound, upright reason, conformable to true ideas of the Deity. They had no false gods or images, and their third Emperor Hoam-ti erected a Temple, the first probably ever erected, to the Great Architect of the Universe. And though they offered sacrifices to divers tutelary angels, yet they honored them infinitely less than XAM-TI or CHANG-TI, the Sovereign Lord of the World.
Confucius forbade making images or representations of the Deity. He attached no idea of personality to Him; but considered Him as a Power or Principle, pervading all Nature. And the Chinese designated the Divinity by the name of THE, DIVINE REASON.
The Japanese believe in a Supreme Invisible Being, not to be represented by images or worshipped in Temples. They styled him AMIDA or OMITH; and say that he is without beginning or end; that he came on earth, where he remained a thousand years, and became the Redeemer of our fallen race: that he is to judge all men; and the good are to live forever, while the bad are to be condemned to Hell.
“The Chang-ti is represented,” said Confucius, “under the general emblem of the visible firmament, as well as under the particular symbols of the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth, because by their means we enjoy the gifts of the Chang-ti. The Sun is the source of life and light: the Moon illuminates the world by night. By observing the course of these luminaries, mankind are enabled to distinguish times and seasons. The Ancients, with the view of connecting the act with its object, when they established the practice of sacrificing to the Chang-ti, fixed the day of the Winter Solstice, because the Sun, after having passed through the twelve places assigned apparently by the Chang-ti as its annual residence, began its career anew, to distribute blessings throughout the Earth.”
He said: “The TEEN is the universal principle and prolific source of all things. . . . The Chang-ti is the universal principle of existence.”
The Arabians never possessed a poetical, high-wrought, and scientifically arranged system of Polytheism. Their historical traditions had much analogy with those of the Hebrews, and coincided with them in a variety of points. The tradition of a purer faith and the simple Patriarchal worship of the Deity; appear never to have been totally extinguished among them; nor did idolatry gain much foothold until near the time of Mohamed; who, adopting the old primeval faith, taught again the doctrine of one God, adding to it that he was His Prophet.
To the mass of Hebrews, as well as to other nations, seem to have come fragments only of the primitive revelation: nor do they seem, until after their captivity among the Persians, to have concerned themselves about metaphysical speculations in regard to the Divine Nature and essence; although it is evident, from the Psalms of David, that a select body among them preserved a knowledge, in regard to the Deity, which was wholly unknown to the mass of the people; and those chosen few were made the medium of transition for certain truths, to later ages.
Among the Greeks, the scholars of the Egyptians, all the higher ideas and severer doctrines on the Divinity, his Sovereign Nature and Infinite Might, the Eternal Wisdom and Providence that conducts and directs all things to their proper end, the Infinite Mind and Supreme Intelligence that created all things, and is raised far above external nature,–all these loftier ideas and nobler doctrines were expounded more or less perfectly by Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, and Socrates, and developed in the most beautiful and luminous manner by Plato, and the philosophers that succeeded him. And even in the popular religion of the Greeks are many things capable of a deeper import and more spiritual signification; though they seem only rare vestiges of ancient truth, vague presentiments, fugitive tones, and momentary flashes, revealing a belief in a Supreme Being, Almighty Creator of the Universe, and Common Father of Mankind.
Much of the primitive Truth was taught to Pythagoras by Zoroaster, who himself received it from the Indians. His disciples rejected the use of Temples, of Altars, and of Statues; and smiled at the folly of those nations who imagined that the Deity sprang from or had any affinity with human nature. The tops of the highest mountains were the places chosen for sacrifices. Hymns and prayers were their principal worship. The Supreme God, who fills the wide circle of Heaven, was the object to Whom they were addressed. Such is the testimony of Herodotus. Light they considered not so much as an object of worship, as rather the most pure and lively emblem of, and first emanation from, the Eternal God; and thought that man required something visible or tangible to exalt his mind to that degree of adoration which is due to the Divine Being.
There was a surprising similarity between the Temples, Priests, doctrines, and worship of the Persian Magi and the British Druids. The latter did not worship idols in the human shape, because they held that the Divinity, being invisible, ought to be adored without being seen. They asserted the Unity of the God-head. Their invocations were made to the One All-preserving Power; and they argued that, as this power was not matter, it must necessarily be the Deity; and the secret symbol used to express his name was O. I. W. They believed that the earth had sustained one general destruction by water; and would again be destroyed by fire. They admitted the doctrines of the immortality of the soul, a future state, and a day of judgment, which would be conducted on the principle of man’s responsibility. They even retained some idea of the redemption of mankind through the death of a Mediator. They retained a tradition of the Deluge, perverted and localized. But, around these fragments of primitive truth they wove a web of idolatry, worshipped two Subordinate Deities under the names of Hu and CERIDWEN, male and female (doubtless the same as Osiris and Isis), and held the doctrine of transmigration.
The early inhabitants of Scandinavia believed in a God who was “the Author of everything that existeth; the Eternal, the Ancient, the Living and Awful Being, the Searcher into concealed things, the Being that never changeth.” Idols and visible representations of the Deity were originally forbidden, and He was directed to be worshipped in the lonely solitude of sequestered forests, where He was said to dwell, invisible, and in perfect silence.
The Druids, like their Eastern ancestors, paid the most sacred regard to the odd numbers, which, traced backward, ended in Unity or Deity, while the even numbers ended in nothing. 3 was particularly reverenced. 19 (7+3+32): 30 (7×3+3×3): and 21 (7×3) were numbers observed in the erection of their temples, constantly appearing in their dimensions, and the number and distances of the huge stones.
They were the sole interpreters of religion. They superintended all sacrifices; for no private person could offer one without their permission. They exercised the power of excommunication; and without their concurrence war could not be declared nor peace made: and they even had the power of inflicting the punishment of death. They professed to possess a knowledge of magic, and practiced augury for the public service.
They cultivated many of the liberal sciences, and particularly astronomy, the favorite science of the Orient; in which they attained considerable proficiency. They considered day as the off-spring of night, and therefore made their computations by nights instead of days; and we, from them, still use the words fortnight and sen’night. They knew the division of the heavens into constellations; and finally, they practised the strictest morality, having particularly the most sacred regard for that peculiarly Masonic virtue, Truth.
In the Icelandic Prose Edda is the following dialogue:
“Who is the first or eldest of the Gods?
“In our language he is called ALFADIR (All-Father, or the Father of All); but in the old Asgard he had twelve names.
“Where is this God? What is his power? and what hath he done to display his glory?
“He liveth from all ages, he governeth all realms, and swayeth all things both great and small.
“He hath formed Heaven and earth, and the air, and all things thereunto belonging.
“He hath made man and given him a soul which shall live and never perish, though the body shall have mouldered away or have been burnt to ashes. And all that are righteous shall dwell with him in the place called Gimli or Vingolf; but the wicked shall go to Hel and thence to Niflhel which is below, in the ninth world.”
Almost every heathen nation, so far as we have any knowledge of their mythology, believed in one Supreme Overruling God, whose name it was not lawful to utter.
“When we ascend,” says Müller, to the most distant heights of Greek history, the idea of God as the Supreme Being stands before us as a simple fact. Next to this adoration of One God, the Father of Heaven, the Father of men, we find in Greece a Worship of Nature.” The original Ζεὺς was the God or Gods, called by the Greeks the Son of Time, meaning that there was no God before Him, but He was Eternal. “Zeus,” says the Orphic line, “is the Beginning, Zeus the Middle; out of Zeus all things have been made.” And the Peleides of Dodona said, “Zeus was, Zeus is. Zeus will be; O great Zeus!” Ζεὺς νἦ, Ζεὺς ἐστὶν, Ζεὺς ἐσσεται· ὦ μελάλη Ζεῦ: and he was Ζεὺς, κύδιστος, μέγιστος, Zeus, Best and Greatest.
The Parsees, retaining the old religion taught by Zaradisht, say in their catechism: “We believe in only one God, and do not believe in any beside Him; Who created the Heavens, the Earth, the Angels. . . . Our God has neither face nor form, color nor shape, nor fixed place. There is no other like Him, nor can our mind comprehend Him.”
The Tetragrammaton, or some other word covered by it, was forbidden to be pronounced. But that its pronunciation might not be lost among the Levites, the High-Priest uttered it in the Temple once a year, on the 10th day of the Month Tisri, the day of the great feast of expiation. During this ceremony, the people were directed to make a great noise, that the Sacred Word might not be heard by any who had not a right to it; for every other, said the Jews, would be incontinently stricken dead.
The Great Egyptian Initiates, before the time of the Jews, did the same thing in regard to the word Isis; which they regarded as sacred and incommunicable.
Origen says: “There are names which have a natural potency. Such as those which the Sages used among the Egyptians, the Magi in Persia, the Brahmins in India. What is called Magic is not a vain and chimerical act, as the Stoics and Epicureans pretend. The names SABAOTH and ADONAI were not made for created beings; but they belong to a mysterious theology, which goes back to the Creator. From Him comes the virtue of these names, when they are arranged and pronounced according to the rules.”
The Hindū word AUM represented the three Powers combined in their Deity: Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva; or the Creating, Pre-serving, and Destroying Powers: A, the first; U or Ŏ-Ŏ, the second; and M, the third. This word could not be pronounced, except by the letters: for its pronunciation as one word was said to make Earth tremble, and even the Angels of Heaven to quake for fear.
The word AUM, says the Ramayan, represents “The Being of Beings, One Substance in three forms; without mode, without quality, without passion: Immense, Incomprehensible, Infinite, Indivisible, Immutable, Incorporeal, Irresistible.”
An old passage in the Purana says: “All the rites ordained in the Vedas, the sacrifices to the fire, and all other solemn purifications, shall pass away; but that which shall never pass away is the word A∴Ŏ-Ŏ∴ M∴ for it is the symbol of the Lord of all things.”
Herodotus says that the Ancient Pelasgi built no temples and worshipped no idols, and had a sacred name of Deity, which it was not permissible to pronounce.
The Clarian Oracle, which was of unknown antiquity, being asked which of the Deities was named ΙΑΩ, answered in these remarkable words: “The Initiated are bound to conceal the mysterious secrets. Learn, then, that ΙΑΩis the Great God Supreme, that ruleth over all.”
The Jews consider the True Name of God to be irrecoverably lost by disuse, and regard its pronunciation as one of the Mysteries that will be revealed at the coming of their Messiah. And they attribute its loss to the illegality of applying the Masoretic points to so sacred a Name, by which a knowledge of the proper vowels is forgotten. It is even said, in the Gemara of Abodah Zara, that God permitted a celebrated Hebrew Scholar to be burned by a Roman Emperor, because he had been heard to pronounce the Sacred Name with points.
The Jews feared that the Heathen would get possession of the Name: and therefore, in their copies of the Scriptures, they wrote it in the Samaritan character, instead of the Hebrew or Chaldaic, that the adversary might not make an improper use of it: for they believed it capable of working miracles; and held that the wonders in Egypt were performed by Moses, in virtue of this name being engraved on his rod: and that any person who knew the true pronunciation would be able to do as much as he did.
Josephus says it was unknown until God communicated it to Moses in the wilderness: and that it was lost through the wickedness of man.
The followers of Mahomet have a tradition that there is a secret name of the Deity which possesses wonderful properties; and that the only method of becoming acquainted with it, is by being initiated into the Mysteries of the Ism Abla.
H∴O∴M∴ was the first framer of the new religion among the Persians, and His Name was Ineffable.
AMUN, among the Egyptians, was a name pronounceable by none save the Priests.
The old Germans adored God with profound reverence, without daring to name Him, or to worship Him in Temples.
The Druids expressed the name of Deity by the letters O∴I∴W∴
Among all the nations of primitive antiquity, the doctrine of the immortality of the soul was not a mere probable hypothesis, needing laborious researches and diffuse argumentation to produce conviction of its truth. Nor can we hardly give it the name of Faith; for it was a lively certainty, like the feeling of one’s own existence and identity, and of what is actually present; exerting its influence on all sublunary affairs, and the motive of mightier deeds and enterprises than any mere earthly interest could inspire.
Even the doctrine of transmigration of souls, universal among the Ancient Hindus and Egyptians, rested on a basis of the old primitive religion, and was connected with a sentiment purely religious. It involved this noble element of truth: That since man had gone astray, and wandered far from God, he must needs make many efforts, and undergo a long and painful pilgrimage, before he could rejoin the Source of all Perfection: and the firm conviction and positive certainty, that nothing defective, impure, or defiled with earthy stains, could enter the pure region of perfect spirits, or be eternally united to God; wherefore the soul had to pass through long trials and many purifications before it could attain that blissful end. And the end and aim of all these systems of philosophy was the final deliverance of the soul from the old calamity, the dreaded fate and frightful lot of being compelled to wander through the dark regions of nature and the various forms of the brute creation, ever changing its terrestrial shape, and its union with God, which they held to be the lofty destiny of the wise and virtuous soul.
Pythagoras gave to the doctrine of the transmigration of souls that meaning which the wise Egyptians gave to it in their Mysteries. He never taught the doctrine in that literal sense in which it was understood by the people. Of that literal doctrine not the least vestige is to be found in such of his symbols as remain, nor in his precepts collected by his disciple Lysias. He held that men always remain, in their essence, such as they were created; and can degrade themselves only by vice, and ennoble themselves only by virtue.
Hierocles, one of his most zealous and celebrated disciples, expressly says that he who believes that the soul of man, after his death, will enter the body of a beast, for his vices, or become a plant for his stupidity, is deceived; and is absolutely ignorant of the eternal form of the soul, which can never change; for, always remaining man, it is said to become God or beast, through virtue or vice, though it can become neither one nor the other by nature, but solely by resemblance of its inclinations to theirs.
And Timæus of Locria, another disciple, says that to alarm men and prevent them from committing crimes, they menaced them with strange humiliations and punishments; even declaring that their souls would pass into new bodies,–that of a coward into the body of a deer; that of a ravisher into the body of a wolf; that of a murderer into the body of some still more ferocious animal; and that of an impure sensualist into the body of a hog.
So, too, the doctrine is explained in the Phædo. And Lysias days, that after the soul, purified of its crimes, has left the body and returned to Heaven, it is no longer subject to change or death, but enjoys an eternal felicity. According to the Indians, it returned to, and became a part of, the universal soul which animates everything.
The Hindūs held that Buddha descended on earth to raise all human beings up to the perfect state. He will ultimately succeed, and all, himself included, be merged in Unity.
Vishnu is to judge the world at the last day. It is to be consumed by fire: The Sun and Moon are to lose their light; the Stars to fall; and a New Heaven and Earth to be created.
The legend of the fall of the Spirits, obscured and distorted, is preserved in the Hindu Mythology. And their traditions acknowledged, and they revered, the succession of the first ancestors of mankind, or the Holy Patriarchs of the primitive world, under the name of the Seven Great RISHIS, or Sages of hoary antiquity; though they invested their history with a cloud of fictions.
The Egyptians held that the soul was immortal; and that Osiris was to judge the world.
And thus reads the Persian legend:
“After Ahriman shall have ruled the world until the end of time, SOSIOSCH, the promised Redeemer, will come and annihilate the power of the DEVS (or Evil Spirits), awaken the dead, and sit in final judgment upon spirits and men. After that the comet Gurzsher will be thrown down, and a general conflagration take place, which will consume the whole world. The remains of the earth will then sink down into Duzakh, and become for three periods a place of punishment for the wicked. Then, by degrees, all will be pardoned, even Ahriman and the Devs, and admitted to the regions of bliss, and thus there will be a new Heaven and a new earth.”
In the doctrines of Lamaism also, we find, obscured, and partly concealed in fiction, fragments of the primitive truth. For, according to that faith, “There is to be a final judgment before ESLIK KHAN: The good are to be admitted to Paradise, the bad to be banished to hell, where there are eight regions burning hot and eight freezing cold.”
In the Mysteries, wherever they were practised, was taught that truth of the primitive revelation, the existence of One Great Being, Infinite and pervading the Universe, Who was there worshipped without superstition; and His marvellous nature, essence, and attributes taught to the Initiates; while the vulgar attributed His works to Secondary Gods, personified, and isolated from Him in fabulous independence.
These truths were covered from the common people as with a veil; and the Mysteries were carried into every country, that, without disturbing the popular beliefs, truth, the arts, and the sciences might be known to those who were capable of understanding them, and maintaining the true doctrine incorrupt; which the people, prone to superstition and idolatry, have in no age been able to do; nor, as many strange aberrations and superstitions of the present day prove, any more now than heretofore. For we need but point to the doctrines of so many sects that degrade the Creator to the rank, and assign to Him the passions of humanity, to prove that now, as always, the old truths must be committed to a few, or they will be overlaid with fiction and error, and irretrievably lost.
Though Masonry is identical with the Ancient Mysteries, it is so in this qualified sense; that it presents but an imperfect image of their brilliancy; the ruins only of their grandeur, and a system that has experienced progressive alterations, the fruits of social events and political circumstances. Upon leaving Egypt, the Mysteries were modified by the habits of the different nations among whom they were introduced. Though originally more moral and political than religious, they soon became the heritage, as it were, of the priests, and essentially religious, though in reality limiting the sacerdotal power, by teaching the intelligent laity the folly and absurdity of the creeds of the populace. They were therefore necessarily changed by the religious systems of the countries into which they were transplanted. In Greece, they were the Mysteries of Ceres; in Rome, of Bona Dea, the Good Goddess; in Gaul, the School of Mars; in Sicily, the Academy of the Sciences; among the Hebrews, they partook of the rites and ceremonies of a religion which placed all the powers of government, and all the knowledge, in the hands of the Priests and Levites. The pagodas of India, the retreats of the Magi of Persia and Chaldea, and the pyramids of Egypt, were no longer the sources at which men drank in knowledge. Each people, at all informed, had its Mysteries. After a time the Temples of Greece and the School of Pythagoras lost their reputation, and Freemasonry took their place.
Masonry, when properly expounded, is at once the interpretation of the great book of nature, the recital of physical and astronomical phenomena, the purest philosophy, and the place of deposit, where, as in a Treasury, are kept in safety all the great truths of the primitive revelation, that form the basis of all religions. In the modern Degrees three things are to be recognized: The image of primeval times, the tableau of the efficient causes of the Universe, and the book in which are written the morality of all peoples, and the code by which they must govern themselves if they would be prosperous.
The Kabalistic doctrine was long the religion of the Sage and the Savant; because, like Freemasonry, it incessantly tends toward spiritual perfection, and the fusion of the creeds and Nationalities of Mankind. In the eyes of the Kabalist, all men are his brothers; and their relative ignorance is, to him, but a reason for instructing them. There were illustrious Kabalists among the Egyptians and Greeks, whose doctrines the Orthodox Church has accepted; and among the Arabs were many, whose wisdom was not slighted by the Mediæval Church.
The Sages proudly wore the name of Kabalists. The Kabalah embodied a noble philosophy, pure, not mysterious, but symbolic. It taught the doctrine of the Unity of God, the art of knowing and explaining the essence and operations of the Supreme Being, of spiritual powers and natural forces, and of determining their action by symbolic figures; by the arrangement of the alphabet, the combinations of numbers, the inversion of letters in writing and the concealed meanings which they claimed to discover therein. The Kabalah is the key of the occult sciences; and the Gnostics were born of the Kabalists.
The science of numbers represented not only arithmetical qualities, but also all grandeur, all proportion. By it we necessarily arrive at the discovery of the Principle or First Cause of things, called at the present day THE ABSOLUTE.
Or UNITY,–that loftiest term to which all philosophy directs itself; that imperious necessity of the human mind, that pivot round which it is compelled to group the aggregate of its ideas: Unity, this source, this centre of all systematic order, this principle of existence, this central point, unknown in its essence, but manifest in its effects; Unity, that sublime centre to which the chain of causes necessarily ascends, was the august Idea toward which all the ideas of Pythagoras converged. He refused the title of Sage, which means one who knows. He invented, and applied to himself that of Philosopher, signifying one who is fond of or studies things secret and occult. The astronomy which he mysteriously taught, was astrology: his science of numbers was based on Kabalistical principles.
The Ancients, and Pythagoras himself, whose real principles have not been always understood, never meant to ascribe to numbers, that is to say, to abstract signs, any special virtue. But the Sages of Antiquity concurred in recognizing a ONE FIRST CAUSE (material or spiritual) of the existence of the Universe. Thence, UNITY became the symbol of the Supreme Deity. It was made to express, to represent God; but without attributing to the mere, number ONE any divine or supernatural virtue.
The Pythagorean ideas as to particular numbers are partially expressed in the following
LECTURE OT THE KABALISTS.
Qu∴ Why did you seek to be received a Knight of the Kabalah?
Ans∴ To know, by means of numbers, the admirable harmony which there is between nature and religion.
Qu∴ How were you announced?
Ans∴ By twelve raps.
Qu∴ What do they signify?
Ans∴ The twelve bases of our temporal and spiritual happiness.
Qu∴ What is a Kabalist?
Ans∴ A man who has learned, by tradition, the Sacerdotal Art and the Royal Art.
Qu∴ What means the device, Omnia in numeris sita sunt?
Ans∴ That everything lies veiled in numbers.
Qu∴ Explain me that.
Ans∴ I will do so, as far as the number 12. Your sagacity will discern the rest.
Qu∴ What signifies the unit in the number 10?
Ans∴ Gob, creating and animating matter, expressed by O, which, alone, is of no value.
Qu∴ What does the unit mean?
Ans∴ In the moral order, a Word incarnate in the bosom of a virgin–or religion. . . . In the physical, a spirit embodied in the virgin earth–or nature.
Qu∴ What do you mean by the number two?
Ans∴ In the moral order, man and woman. . . . In the physical, the active and the passive.
Qu∴ What do you mean by the number 3?
Ans∴ In the moral order, the three theological virtues. . . . In the physical, the three principles of bodies.
Qu∴ What do you mean by the number 4?
Ans∴ The four cardinal virtues. . . . The four elementary qualities.
Qu∴ What do you mean by the number 5?
Ans∴ The quintessence of religion. . . . The quintessence of matter.
Qu∴ What do you mean by the number 6?
Ans∴ The theological cube . . . The physical cube.
Qu∴ What do you mean by the number 7?
Ans∴ The seven sacraments . . . The seven planets.
Qu∴ What do you mean by the number 8?
Ans∴ The small number of Elus . . . The small number of wise men.
Qu∴ What do you mean by the number 9?
Ans∴ The exaltation of religion . . . The exaltation of matter.
Qu∴ What do you mean by the number 10?
Ans∴ The ten commandments . . . The ten precepts of nature.
Qu∴ What do you mean by the number 11?
Ans∴ The multiplication of religion . . . The multiplication of nature.
Qu∴ What do you mean by the number 12?
Ans∴ The twelve Articles of Faith; the twelve Apostles, foundation of the Holy City, who preached throughout the whole world, for our happiness and spiritual joy . . . The twelve operations of nature: The twelve signs of the Zodiac, foundation of the Primum Mobile, extending it throughout the Universe for our temporal felicity.
[The Rabbi (President of the Sanhedrin) adds: From all that you have said, it results that the unit develops itself in 2, is completed in three internally, and so produces 4 externally; whence, through 6, 7, 8, 9, it arrives at 5, half of the spherical number 10, to ascend, passing through 11, to 12, and to raise itself, by the number 4 times 10, to the number 6 times 12, the final term and summit of our eternal happiness.]
Qu∴ What is the generative number?
Ans∴ In the Divinity, it is the unit; in created things, the number 2: Because the Divinity, 1, engenders 2, and in created things 2 engenders 1.
Qu∴ What is the most majestic number?
Ans∴ 3, because it denotes the triple divine essence.
Qu∴ What is the most mysterious number?
Ans∴ 4, because it contains all the mysteries of nature.
Qu∴ What is the most occult number?
Ans∴ 5, because it is inclosed in the centre of the series.
Qu∴ What is the most salutary number?
Ans∴ 6, because it contains the source of our spiritual and corporeal happiness.
Qu∴ What is the most fortunate number?
Ans∴ 7, because it leads us to the decade, the perfect number.
Qu∴ Which is the number most to be desired?
Ans∴ 8, because he who possesses it, is of the number of the plus and Sages.
Qu∴ Which is the most sublime number?
Ans∴ 9, because by it religion and nature are exalted.
Qu∴ Which is the most perfect number?
Ans∴ 10, because it includes unity, which created everything, and zero, symbol of matter and chaos, whence everything emerged.
In its figures it comprehends the created and uncreated, the commencement and the end, power and force, life and annihilation. By the study of this number, we find the relations of all things; the power of the Creator, the faculties of the creature, the Alpha and Omega of divine knowledge.
Qu∴ Which is the most multiplying number?
Ans∴ 11, because with the possession of two units, we arrive at the multiplication of things.
Qu∴ Which is the most solid number?
Ans∴ 12, because it is the foundation of our spiritual and temporal happiness.
Qu∴ Which is the favorite number of religion and nature?
Ans∴ 4 times 10, because it enables us, rejecting everything impure, eternally to enjoy the number 6 times 12, term and summit of our felicity.
Qu∴ What is the meaning of the square?
Ans∴ It is the symbol of the four elements contained in the triangle, or the emblem of the three chemical principles: these things united form absolute unity in the primal matter.
Qu∴ What is the meaning of the centre of the circumference?
Ans∴ It signifies the universal spirit, vivifying centre of nature.
Qu∴ What do you mean by the quadrature of the circle?
Ans∴ The investigation of the quadrature of the circle indicates the knowledge of the four vulgar elements, which are themselves composed of elementary spirits or chief principles; as the circle, though round, is composed of lines, which escape the sight, and are seen only by the mind.
Qu∴ What is the profoundest meaning of the figure 3?
Ans∴ The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. From the action of these three results the triangle within the square; and from the seven angles, the decade or perfect number.
Qu∴ Which is the most confused figure?
Ans∴ Zero,–the emblem of chaos, formless mixture of the elements.
Qu∴ What do the four devices of the Degree signify?
Ans∴ That we are to hear, see, be silent, and enjoy our happiness.
The unit is the symbol of identity, equality, existence, conservation, and general harmony; the Central Fire, the Point within the Circle.
Two, or the duad, is the symbol of diversity, inequality, division, separation, and vicissitudes.
The figure 1 signifies the living man [a body standing upright]; man being the only living being possessed of this faculty. Adding to it a head, we have the letter P, the sign of Paternity, Creative
Power; and with a further addition, R, signifying man in motion, going, Iens, Iturus.
The Duad is the origin of contrasts. It is the imperfect condition into which, according to the Pythagoreans, a being falls, when he detaches himself from the Monad, or God. Spiritual beings,
emanating from God, are enveloped in the duad, and therefore receive only illusory impressions.
As formerly the number ONE designated harmony, order, or the Good Principle (the ONE and ONLY GOD, expressed in Latin by Solus, whence the words Sol, Soleil, symbol of this God), the number Two expressed the contrary idea. There commenced the fatal knowledge of good and evil. Everything double, false, opposed to the single and sole reality, was expressed by the Binary number. It expressed also that state of contrariety in which nature exists, where everything is double; night and day, light and darkness, cold and heat, wet and dry, health and sickness, error and truth, one and the other sex, etc. Hence the Romans dedicated the second month in the year to Pluto, the God of Hell, and the second day of that month to the manès of the dead.
The number One, with the Chinese, signified unity, harmony, order, the Good Principle, or God; Two, disorder, duplicity, false-hood. That people, in the earliest ages, based their whole philosophical system on the two primary figures or lines, one straight and unbroken, and the other broken or divided into two; doubling which, by placing one under the other, and trebling by placing three under each other, they made the four symbols and eight Koua; which referred to the natural elements, and the primary principles of all things, and served symbolically or scientifically to express them. Plato terms unity and duality the original elements of nature, and first principles of all existence: and the oldest sacred book of the Chinese says: “The Great First Principle has produced two equations and differences, or primary rules of existence; but the two primary rules or two oppositions, namely YN and YANG, or repose and motion, have produced four signs or symbols, and the four symbols have produced the eight KOUA or further combinations.”
The interpretation of the Hermetic fables shows, among every ancient people, in their principal gods, first, 1, the Creating Monad, then 3, then 3 times 3, 3 times 9, and 3 times 27. This triple progression has for its foundation the three ages of Nature, the Past, the Present, and the Future; or the three degrees of universal generation. . . Birth, Life, Death… Beginning, middle, end.
The Monad was male, because its action produces no change in itself, but only out of itself. It represented the creative principle.
The Duad, for a contrary reason, was female, ever changing by addition, subtraction, or multiplication. It represents matter capable of form.
The union of the Monad and Duad produces the Triad, signifying the world formed by the creative principle out of matter. Pythagoras represented the world by the right-angled triangle, in which the squares of the two shortest sides are equal, added together, to the square of the longest one; as the world, as formed, is equal to the creative cause, and matter clothed with form.
The ternary is the first of the unequal numbers. The Triad, mysterious number, which plays so great a part in the traditions of Asia and the philosophy of Plato, image of the Supreme Being, includes in itself the properties of the first two numbers. It was, to the Philosophers, the most excellent and favorite number: a mysterious type, revered by all antiquity, and consecrated in the Mysteries; wherefore there are but three essential Degrees among Masons; who venerate, in the triangle, the most august mystery, that of the Sacred Triad, object of their homage and study.
In geometry, a line cannot represent a body absolutely perfect. As little do two lines constitute a figure demonstratively perfect. But three lines form, by their junction, the TRIANGLE, or the first figure regularly perfect; and this is why it has served and still serves to characterize The Eternal; Who, infinitely perfect in His nature, is, as Universal Creator, the first Being, and consequently the first Perfection.
The Quadrangle or Square, perfect as it appears, being but the second perfection, can in no wise represent God; Who is the first. It is to be noted that the name of God in Latin and French (Deus, Dieu), has for its initial the Delta or Greek Triangle. Such is the reason, among ancients and moderns, for the consecration of the Triangle, whose three sides are emblems of the three Kingdoms, or Nature, or God. In the centre is the Hebrew JOD (initial of יהוה), the Animating Spirit of Fire, the generative principle, represented by the letter G., initial of the name of Deity in the languages of the North, and the meaning whereof is Generation.
The first side of the Triangle, offered to the study of the Apprentice, is the mineral kingdom, symbolized by Tub∴
The second side, the subject of the meditations of the Fellow Craft, is the vegetable kingdom, symbolized by Schib∴ (an ear of corn). In this reign begins the Generation of bodies; and this is why the letter G., in its radiance, is presented to the eyes of the adept.
The third side, the study whereof is devoted to the animal kingdom, and completes the instruction of the Master, is symbolized by Mach∴ (Son of putrefaction).
The figure 3 symbolizes the Earth. It is a figure of the terrestrial bodies. The 2, upper half of 3, symbolizes the vegetable world, the lower half being hidden from our sight.
Three also referred to harmony, friendship, peace, concord, and temperance; and was so highly esteemed among the Pythagoreans that they called it perfect harmony.
Three, four, ten, and twelve were sacred numbers among the Etrurians, as they were among the Jews, Egyptians, and Hindūs.
The name of Deity, in many Nations, consisted of three letters: among the Greeks, Ι∴Α∴ Ω∴; among the Persians, H∴O∴M∴; among the Hindūs, AUM; among the Scandinavians, I∴O∴W∴. On the upright Tablet of the King, discovered at Nimroud, no less than five of the thirteen names of the Great Gods consist of three letters each,–ANU, SAN, YAV, BAR, and BEL.
The quaternary is the most perfect number, and the root of other numbers, and of all things. The tetrad expresses the first mathematical power. Four represents also the generative power, from which all combinations are derived. The Initiates considered it the emblem of Movement and the Infinite, representing everything that is neither corporeal nor sensible. Pythagoras communicated it to his disciples as a symbol of the Eternal and Creative Principle, under the name of Quaternary, the Ineffable Name of God, which signifies Source of everything that has received existence; and which, in Hebrew, is composed of four letters.
In the Quaternary we find the first solid figure, the universal symbol of immortality, the pyramid. The Gnostics claimed that the whole edifice of their science rested on a square whose angles were . . . Σιγή, Silence: Βυθος Profundity: Νοος, Intelligence: and Αληθεια, Truth. For if the Triangle, figured by the number 3, forms the triangular base of the pyramid, it is unity which forms its point or summit.
Lysias and Timæus of Locria said that not a single thing could be named, which did not depend on the quaternary as its root.
There is, according to the Pythagoreans, a connection between the gods and numbers, which constitutes the kind of Divination called Arithmomancy. The soul is a number: it is moved of itself: it contains in itself the quaternary number.
Matter being represented by the number 9, or 3 times 3, and the Immortal Spirit having for its essential hieroglyphic the quaternary or the number 4, the Sages said that Man, having gone astray and become entangled in an inextricable labyrinth, in going from four to nine, the only way which he could take to emerge from these deceitful paths, these disastrous detours, and the abyss of evil into which he had plunged, was to retrace his steps, and go from nine to four.
The ingenious and mystical idea which caused the Triangle to be venerated, was applied to the figure 4 (4). It was said that it expressed a living being, I, bearer of the Triangle △, the emblem of God; i.e., man bearing with himself a Divine principle.
Four was a divine number; it referred to the Deity, and many Ancient Nations gave God a name of four letters; as the Hebrews יהוה, the Egyptians AMUN, the Persians SURA, the Greeks ΘΕΟΣ, and the Latins DEUS. This was the Tetragrammaton of the Hebrews, and the Pythagoreans called it Tetractys, and swore their most solemn oath by it. So too ODIN among the Scandinavians, ΖΕΥΣ among the Greeks, PHTA among the Egyptians, THOTH among the Phœnicians, and AS-UR and NEBO among the Assyrians. The list might be indefinitely extended.
The number 5 was considered as mysterious, because it was compounded of the Binary, Symbol of the False and Double, and the Ternary, so interesting in its results. It thus energetically expresses the state of imperfection, of order and disorder, of happiness and misfortune, of life and death, which we see upon the earth. To the Mysterious Societies it offered the fearful image of the Bad Principle, bringing trouble into the inferior order,–in a word, the Binary acting in the Ternary.
Under another aspect it was the emblem of marriage; because it is composed of 2, the first equal number, and of 3, the first unequal number. Wherefore Juno, the Goddess of Marriage, had for her hieroglyphic the number 5.
Moreover, it has one of the properties of the number 9, that of reproducing itself, when multiplied by itself: there being always a 5 on the right hand of the product; a result which led to its use as a symbol of material changes.
The ancients represented the world by the number 5. A reason for it, given by Diodorus, is, that it represents earth, water, air, fire, and ether or spirit. Thence the origin of πεντε (5) and Παν the Universe, as the whole.
The number 5 designated the universal quintessence, and symbolized, by its form ς, the vital essence, the animating spirit, which flows [serpentat] through all nature. In fact, this ingenious figure is the union of the two Greek accents ‘ ’, placed over those vowels which ought to be or ought not to be aspirated. The first sign ‘ bears the name of potent spirit; and signifies the Superior Spirit, the Spirit of God aspirated (spiratus), respired by man. The second sign ’ is styled mild spirit, and represents the secondary spirit, the spirit purely human.
The triple triangle, a figure of five lines uniting in five points, was among the Pythagoreans an emblem of Health.
It is the Pentalpha of Pythagoras, or Pentangle of Solomon; has five lines and five angles; and is, among Masons, the outline or origin of the five-pointed Star, and an emblem of Fellowship.
The number 6 was, in the Ancient Mysteries, a striking emblem of nature; as presenting the six dimensions of all bodies; the six lines which make up their form, viz., the four lines of direction, toward the North, South, East, and West; with the two lines of height and depth, responding to the zenith and nadir. The sages applied the senary to the physical man; while the septenary was, for them, the symbol of his immortal spirit.
The hieroglyphical senary (the double equilateral triangle) is the symbol of Deity.
Six is also an emblem of health, and the symbol of justice; because it is the first perfect number; that is, the first whose aliquot parts (1/2, 1/3, 1/6, or 3, 2, and 1), added together, make itself.
Ormuzd created six good spirits, and Ahriman six evil ones. These typify the six Summer and the six Winter months.
No number has ever been so universally in repute as the septenary. Its celebrity is due, no doubt, to the planets being seven in number. It belongs also to sacred things. The Pythagoreans regarded it as formed of the numbers 3 and 4; the first whereof was, in their eyes, the image of the three material elements, and the second the principle of everything that is neither corporeal nor sensible. It presented them, from that point of view, the emblem of everything that is perfect.
Considered as composed of 6 and unity, it serves to designate the invisible centre or soul of everything; because no body exists, of which six lines do not constitute the form, nor without a seventh interior point, as the centre and reality of the body, whereof the external dimensions give only the appearance.
The numerous applications of the septenary confirmed the ancient sages in the use of this symbol. Moreover, they exalted the properties of the number 7, as having, in a subordinate manner, the perfection of the unit: for if the unit is untreated, if no number produces it, the seven is also not engendered by any number contained in the interval between 1 and 10. The number 4 occupies an arithmetical middle-ground between the unit and 7, inasmuch as it is as much over 1, as it is under 7, the difference each way being 3.
The number 7, among the Egyptians, symbolized life; and this is why the letter Ζ of the Greeks was the initial of the verb Ζάω, I live; and Ζεὺς (Jupiter), Father of Life.
The number 8, or the octary, is composed of the sacred numbers 3 and 5. Of the heavens, of the seven planets, and of the sphere of the fixed stars, or of the eternal unity and the mysterious number 7, is composed the ogdoade, the number 8, the first cube of equal numbers, regarded as sacred in the arithmetical philosophy.
The Gnostic ogdoade had eight stars, which represented the eight Cabiri of Samothrace, the eight Egyptian and Phœnician principles, the eight gods of Xenocrates, the eight angles of the cubic stone.
The number eight symbolizes perfection: and its figure, 8 or ∞ indicates the perpetual and regular course of the Universe.
It is the first cube (2 × 2 × 2), and signifies friendship, prudence, counsel, and justice. It was a symbol of the primeval law which regarded all men as equal.
The novary, or triple ternary. If the number three was celebrated among the ancient sages, that of three times three had no less celebrity; because, according to them, each of the three elements which constitute our bodies is ternary: the water containing earth and fire; the earth containing igneous and aqueous particles; and the fire being tempered by globules of water and terrestrial corpuscles which serve to feed it. No one of the three elements being entirely separated from the others, all material beings composed of these three elements, whereof each is triple, may be designated by the figurative number of three times three, which has become the symbol of all formations of bodies. Hence the name of ninth envelope, given to matter. Every material extension, every circular line, has for representative sign the number nine, among the Pythagoreans; who had observed the property which this number possesses, of reproducing itself incessantly and entire, in every multiplication; thus offering to the mind a very striking emblem of matter which is incessantly composed before our eyes, after having undergone a thousand decompositions.
The number nine was consecrated to the Spheres and the Muses. It is the sign of every circumference; because a circle of 360 degrees is equal to 9, that is to say, 3 + 6 + 0 = 9. Nevertheless, the ancients regarded this number with a sort of terror: they considered it a bad presage; as the symbol of versatility, of change, and the emblem of the frailty of human affairs. Wherefore they avoided all numbers where nine appears, and chiefly 81, the product of 9 multiplied by itself, and the addition whereof, 8 + 1, again presents the number 9.
As the figure of the number 6 was the symbol of the terrestrial globe, animated by a divine spirit, the figure of the number 9 symbolized the earth, under the influence of the Evil Principle; and thence the terror it inspired. Nevertheless, according to the Kabalists, the figure 9 symbolizes the generative egg, or the image of a little globular being, from whose lower side seems to flow its spirit of life.
The Ennead, signifying an aggregate of 9 things or persons, is the first square of unequal numbers.
Every one is aware of the singular properties of the number 9, which, multiplied by itself or any other number whatever, gives a result whose final sum is always 9, or always divisible by 9.
Nine, multiplied by each of the ordinary numbers, produces an arithmetical progression, each member whereof, composed of two figures, presents a remarkable fact; for example:
The first line of figures gives the regular series, from 1 to 10. The second reproduces this line doubly; first ascending, from the first figure of 18, and then returning from the second figure of 81.
It follows, from the curious fact, that the half of the numbers which compose this progression represents, in inverse order, the figures of the second half:
The number 10, or the Denary, is the measure of everything; and reduces multiplied numbers to unity. Containing all the numerical and harmonic relations, and all the properties of the numbers which precede it, it concludes the Abacus or Table of Pythagoras. To the Mysterious Societies, this number typified the assemblage of all the wonders of the Universe. They wrote it thus θ, that is to say, Unity in the middle of Zero, as the centre of a circle, or symbol of Deity. They saw in this figure everything that should lead to reflection: the centre, the ray, and the circumference, represented to them God, Man, and the Universe.
This number was, among the Sages, a sign of concord, love, and peace. To Masons it is a sign of union and good faith; because it is expressed by joining two hands, or the Master’s grip, when the number of fingers gives 10: and it was represented by the Tetractys of Pythagoras.
The number 12, like the number 7, is celebrated in the worship of nature. The two most famous divisions of the heavens, that by 7, which is that of the planets, and that by 12, which is that of the Signs of the Zodiac, are found upon the religious monuments of all the peoples of the Ancient World, even to the remote extremes of the East. Although Pythagoras does not speak of the number 12, it is none the less a sacred number. It is the image of the Zodiac; and consequently that of the Sun, which rules over it.
Such are the ancient ideas in regard to those numbers which so often appear in Masonry; and rightly understood, as the old Sages understood them, they contain many a pregnant lesson.
Before we enter upon the final lesson of Masonic Philosophy, we will delay a few moments to repeat to you the Christian interpretations of the Blue Degrees.
In the First Degree, they said, there are three symbols to be applied.
1st. Man, after the fall, was left naked and defenceless against the just anger of the Deity. Prone to evil, the human race staggered blindly onward into the thick darkness of unbelief, bound fast by the strong cable-tow of the natural and sinful will. Moral corruption was followed by physical misery. Want and destitution invaded the earth. War and Famine and Pestilence filled up the measure of evil, and over the sharp flints of misfortune and wretchedness man toiled with naked and bleeding feet. This condition of blindness, destitution, misery, and bondage, from which to save the world the Redeemer came, is symbolized by the condition of the candidate, when he is brought up for the first time to the door of the Lodge.
2d. Notwithstanding the death of the Redeemer, man can be saved only by faith, repentance, and reformation. To repent, he must feel the sharp sting of conscience and remorse, like a sword piercing his bosom. His confidence in his guide, whom he is told to follow and fear no danger; his trust in God, which he is caused to profess; and the point of the sword that is pressed against his naked left breast over the heart, are symbolical of the faith, repentance and reformation necessary to bring him to the light of a life in Christ the Crucified.
3d. Having repented and reformed, and bound himself to the service of God by a firm promise and obligation, the light of Christian hope shines down into the darkness of the heart of the humble penitent, and blazes upon his pathway to Heaven. And this is symbolized by the candidate’s being brought to light, after he is obligated, by the Worshipful Master, who in that is a symbol of the Redeemer, and so brings him to light, with the help of the brethren, as He taught the Word with the aid of the Apostles.
In the Second Degree there are two symbols:
4th. The Christian assumes new duties toward God and his fellows. Toward God, of love, gratitude, and veneration, and an anxious desire to serve and glorify Him; toward his fellows, of kindness, sympathy, and justice. And this assumption of duty, this entering upon good works, is symbolized by the Fellow-Craft’s obligation; by which, bound as an apprentice to secrecy merely, and set in the Northeast corner of the Lodge, he descends as a Fellow-Craft into the body of the brethren, and assumes the active duties of a good Mason.
5th. The Christian, reconciled to God, sees the world in a new light. This great Universe is no longer a mere machine, wound up and set going six thousand or sixty millions years ago, and left to run on afterward forever, by virtue of a law of mechanics created at the beginning, without further care or consideration on the part of the Deity; but it has now become to him a great emanation from God, the product of His thought, not a mere dead machine, but a thing of life, over which God watches continually, and every movement of which is immediately produced by His present action, the law of harmony being the essence of the Deity, re-enacted every instant. And this is symbolized by the imperfect instruction given in the Fellow-Craft’s Degree, in the sciences, and particularly geometry, connected as the latter is with God Himself in the mind of a Mason, because the same letter, suspended in the East, represents both; and astronomy, or the knowledge of the laws of motion and harmony that govern the spheres, is but a portion of the wider science of geometry. It is so symbolized, because it is here, in the Second Degree, that the candidate first receives an other than moral instruction.
There are also two symbols in the Third Degree, which, with the 3 in the first, and 2 in the second, make the 7.
6th. The candidate, after passing through the first part of the ceremony, imagines himself a Master; and is surprised to be informed that as yet he is not, and that it is uncertain whether he ever will be. He is told of a difficult and dangerous path yet to be travelled, and is advised that upon that journey it depends whether he will become a Master. This is symbolical of that which our Saviour said to Nicodemus, that, notwithstanding his morals might be beyond reproach, he could not enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless he were born again; symbolically dying, and again entering the world regenerate, like a spotless infant.
7th. The murder of Hiram, his burial, and his being raised again by the Master, are symbols, both of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Redeemer; and of the death and burial in sins of the natural man, and his being raised again to a new life, or born again, by the direct action of the Redeemer; after Morality (symbolized by the Entered Apprentice’s grip), and Philosophy (symbolized by the grip of the Fellow-Craft), had failed to raise him. That of the Lion of the House of Judah is the strong grip, never to be broken, with which Christ, of the royal line of that House, has clasped to Himself the whole human race, and embraces them in His wide arms as closely and affectionately as brethren embrace each other on the five points of fellowship.
As Entered Apprentices and Fellow-Crafts, Masons are taught to imitate the laudable example of those Masons who labored at the building of King Solomon’s Temple; and to plant firmly and deep in their hearts those foundation-stones of principle, truth, justice, temperance, fortitude, prudence, and charity, on which to erect that Christian character which all the storms of misfortune and all the powers and temptations of Hell shall not prevail against; those feelings and noble affections which are the most proper homage that can be paid to the Grand Architect and Great Father of the Universe, and which make the heart a living temple builded to Him: when the unruly passions are made to submit to rule and measurement, and their excesses are struck off with the gavel of self-restraint; and when every action and every principle is accurately corrected and adjusted by the square of wisdom, the level of humility, and the plumb of justice.
The two columns, Jachin and Boaz, are the symbols of that profound faith and implicit trust in God and the Redeemer that are the Christian’s strength; and of those good works by which alone that faith can be established and made operative and effectual to salvation.
The three pillars that support the Lodge are symbols of a Christian’s HOPE; in a future state of happiness; FAITH in the promises and the divine character and mission of the Redeemer; and CHARITABLE JUDGMENT of other men.
The three murderers of Khir-Om symbolize Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas the High-Priest, and Judas Iscariot: and the three blows given him are the betrayal by the last, the refusal of Roman protection by Pilate, and the condemnation by the High-Priest. They also symbolize the blow on the ear, the scourging, and the crown of thorns. The twelve fellow-crafts sent in search of the body are the twelve disciples, in doubt whether to believe that the Redeemer would rise from the dead.
The Master’s word, supposed to be lost, symbolizes the Christian faith and religion, supposed to have been crushed and destroyed when the Saviour was crucified, after Iscariot had betrayed Him, and Peter deserted Him, and when the other disciples doubted whether He would arise from the dead; but which rose from His tomb and flowed rapidly over the civilized world; and so that which was supposed to be lost was found. It symbolizes also the Saviour Himself; the WORD that was in the beginning–that was with God, and that was God; the Word of life, that was made flesh and dwelt among us, and was supposed to be lost, while He lay in the tomb, for three days, and His disciples “as yet knew not the scripture that He must rise again from the dead,” and doubted when they heard of it, and were amazed and frightened and still doubted when He appeared among them.
The bush of acacia placed at the head of the grave of Khir-Om is an emblem of resurrection and immortality.
Such are the explanations of our Christian brethren; entitled, like those of all other Masons, to a respectful ‘consideration.
There is no pretence to infallibility in Masonry. It is not for us to dictate to any man what he shall believe. We have hitherto, in the instruction of the several Degrees, confined ourselves to laying before you the great thoughts that have found expression in the different ages of the world, leaving you to decide for yourself as to the orthodoxy or heterodoxy of each, and what proportion of truth, if any, each contained. We shall pursue no other course in this closing Philosophical instruction; in which we propose to deal with the highest questions that have ever exercised the human mind, with the existence and the nature of a God, with the existence and the nature of the human soul, and with the relations of the divine and human spirit with the merely material Universe. There can be no questions more important to an intelligent being, none that have for him a more direct and personal interest; and to this last word of Scottish Masonry we invite your serious and attentive consideration. And, as what we shall now say will be but the completion and rounding-off of what we have already said in several of the preceding Degrees, in regard to the Old Thought and the Ancient Philosophies, we hope that you have noted and not forgotten our previous lessons, without which this would seem imperfect and fragmentary.
In its idea of rewarding a faithful and intelligent workman by conferring upon him a knowledge of the True Word, Masonry has perpetuated a very great truth, because it involves the proposition that the idea which a man forms of God is always the most important element in his speculative theory of the Universe, and in his particular practical plan of action for the Church, the State, the Community, the Family, and his own individual life. It will ever make a vast difference in the conduct of a people in war or peace, whether they believe the Supreme God to be a cruel Deity, delighting in sacrifice and blood, or a God of Love; and an individual’s speculative theory as to the mode and extent of God’s government, and as to the nature and reality of his own free-will and consequent responsibility, will needs have great influence in shaping the course of his life and conversation.
We see every day the vast influence of the popular idea of God. All the great historical civilizations of the race have grown out of the national ideas which were formed of God; or have been intimately connected with those ideas. The popular Theology, which at first is only an abstract idea in the heads of philosophers, by and by shows itself in the laws, and in the punishments for crime, in the churches, the ceremonies and the sacraments, the festivals and the fasts, the weddings, the baptisms and the funerals, in the hospitals, the colleges, the schools, and all the social charities, in the relations of husband and wife, parent and child, in the daily work and the daily prayer of every man.
As the world grows in its development, it necessarily outgrows its ancient ideas of God, which were only temporary and pro-visional. A man who has a higher conception of God than those about him, and who denies that their conception is God, is very likely to be called an Atheist by men who are really far less believers in a God than he. Thus the Christians, who said the Heathen idols were no Gods, were accounted Atheists by the People, and accordingly put to death; and Jesus of Nazareth was crucified as an unbelieving blasphemer, by the Jews.
There is a mere formal Atheism, which is a denial of God in terms, but not in reality. A man says, There is no God; that is, no God that is self-originated, or that never originated, but always WAS and HAD BEEN, who is the cause of existence, who is the Mind and the Providence of the Universe; and so the order, beauty, and harmony of the world of matter and mind do not indicate any plan or purpose of Deity. But, he says, NATURE,–meaning by that the whole sum-total of existence,–that is powerful, active, wise, and good; Nature is self-originated, or always was and had been, the cause of its own existence, the mind of the Universe and the Providence of itself. There is obviously a plan and purpose whereby order, beauty, and harmony are brought about; but all that is the plan and purpose of nature.
In such cases, the absolute denial of God is only formal and not real. The qualities of God are admitted, and affirmed to be real; and it is a mere change of name to call the possessor of those qualities, Nature, and not God. The real question is, whether such Qualities exist, as we call God; and not, by what particular name we shall designate the Qualities. One man may call the sum total of these Qualities, Nature; another, Heaven; a third, Universe, a fourth, Matter; a fifth, Spirit; a sixth, God, Theos, Zeus, Alfadir, Allah, or what he pleases. All admit the existence of the Being, Power, or ENS, thus diversely named. The name is of the smallest consequence.
Real Atheism is the denial of the existence of any God, of the actuality of all possible ideas of God. It denies that there is any Mind, Intelligence, or ENS, that is the Cause and Providence of the Universe, and of any Thing or any Existence, Soul, Spirit, or Being, that intentionally or intelligently produces the Order, Beauty, and Harmony thereof, and the constant and regular modes of operation therein. It must necessarily deny that there is any law, order, or harmony in existence, or any constant mode of operation in the world; for it is utterly impossible for any human creature to conceive, however much he may pretend to do so, of either of these, except as a consequence of the action of Intelligence; which is, indeed, that otherwise unknown thing, the existence of which these alone prove; otherwise than as the cause of these, not a thing at all; a mere name for the wholly uncognizable cause of these.
The real atheist must deny the existence of the Qualities of God, deny that there is any mind of or in the Universe, any self-conscious Providence, any Providence at all. He must deny that there is any Being or Cause of Finite things, that is self-consciously powerful, wise, just, loving, and faithful to itself and its own nature. He must deny that there is any plan in the Universe or any part of it. He must hold, either that matter is eternal, or that it originated itself, which is absurd, or that it was originated by an Intelligence, or at least by a Cause; and then he admits a. God, No doubt it is beyond the reach of our faculties to imagine how matter originated,–how it began to be, in space where before was nothing, or God only. But it is equally beyond the reach of our faculties to imagine it eternal and unoriginated. To hold it to be eternal, without thought or will; that the specific forms of it, the seed, the rock, the tree, the man, the solar system, all came with no forethought planning or producing them, by “chance” or “the fortuitous concourse of atoms” of matter that has no thought or will; and that they indicate no mind, no plan, no purpose, no providence, is absurd. It is not to deny the existence of what we understand by mind, plan, purpose, Providence; but to insist that these words shall have some other meaning than that which the human race has ever attached to them: shall mean some unknown thing, for which the human race has no name, because it has of such a thing no possible idea. Either there never was any such thing as a “plan,” and the word is nonsense, or the Universe exists in conformity to a plan. The word never meant, and never can mean, any other thing than that which the Universe exhibits. So with the word “purpose;” so with the word “Providence.” They mean nothing, or else only what the Universe proves.
It was soon found that the denial of a Conscious Power, the cause of man and of his life, of a Providence, or a Mind and Intelligence arranging man in reference to the world, and the world in reference to man, would not satisfy the instinctive desires of human nature, or account for the facts of material nature. It did not long answer to say, if it ever was said, that the Universe was drifting in the void inane, and neither it, nor any mind within or without it, knew of its whence, its whither, or its whereabouts; that man was drifting in the Universe, knowing little of his whereabouts, nothing of his whence or whither; that there was no Mind, no Providence, no Power, that knew any better; nothing hat guided and directed man in his drifting, or the Universe in the weltering waste of Time. To say to man and woman, “your heroism, your bravery, your self-denial all comes to nothing: your nobleness will do you no good: you will die, and your nobleness will do mankind no service; for there is no plan or order in all these things; everything comes and goes by the fortuitous con-course of atoms;” did not, nor ever will, long satisfy the human mind.
True, the theory of Atheism has been uttered. It has been said, “Death is the end: this is a world without a God: you are a body without a soul: there is a Here, but no Hereafter for you; an Earth, but no Heaven. Die, and return to your dust. Man is bones, blood, bowels, and brain; mind is matter: there is no soul in the brain, nothing but nerves. We can see all the way to a little star in the nebula of Orion’s belt; so distant that it will take light a thousand millions of years to come from it to the earth, journeying at the rate of twelve millions of miles a minute. There is no Heaven this side of that: you see all the way through: there is not a speck of Heaven; and do you think there is any beyond it; and if so, when would you reach it? There is no Providence. Nature is a fortuitous concourse of atoms; thought is a fortuitous function of matter, a fortuitous result of a fortuitous result, a chance-shot from the great wind-gun of the Universe, accidentally loaded, pointed at random, and fired off by chance. Things happen; they are not arranged. There is luck, and there is ill-luck; but there is no Providence. Die you into dust!” Does all this satisfy the human instinct of immortality, that makes us ever long, with unutterable longing, to join ourselves again to our dear ones who have gone away before us, and to mankind, for eternal life? Does it satisfy our mighty hungering and thirst for immortality, our anxious longing to come nearer to, and to know more of, the Eternal Cause of all things?
Men never could be content to believe that there was no mind that thought for man, no conscience to enact eternal laws, no heart to love those whom nothing of earth loves or cares for, no will of the Universe to marshal the nations in the way of wisdom, justice, and love. History is not–thank God! we know it is not,–the fortuitous concourse of events, or Nature that of atoms. We cannot believe that there is no plan nor purpose in Nature, to guide our going out and coming in: that there is a mighty going, but it goes nowhere; that all beauty, wisdom, affection, justice, morality in the world, is an accident, and may end to-morrow.
All over the world there is heroism unrequited, or paid with misery; vice on thrones, corruption in high places, nobleness in poverty or even in chains, the gentle devotion of woman rewarded by brutal neglect or more brutal abuse and violence; everywhere want, misery, over-work, and under-wages. Add to these the Atheist’s creed,–a body without a soul, an earth without a Heaven, a world without a God; and what a Pandemonium would we make of this world!
The intellect of the Atheist would find matter everywhere; but no Causing and Providing Mind: his moral sense would find no Equitable Will, no Beauty of Moral Excellence, no Conscience enacting justice into the unchanging law of right, no spiritual Order or spiritual Providence, but only material Fate and Chance. His affections would find only finite things to love; and to them the dead who were loved and who died yesterday, are like the rainbow that yesterday evening lived a moment and then passed away. His soul, flying through the vast Inane, and feeling the darkness with its wings, seeking the Soul of all, which at once is Reason, Conscience, and the Heart of all that is, would find no God, but a Universe all disorder; no Infinite, no Reason, no Conscience, no Heart, no Soul of things; nothing to reverence, to esteem, to love, to worship, to trust in; but only an Ugly Force, alien and foreign to us, that strikes down those we love, and makes us mere worms on the hot sand of the world. No voice would speak from the Earth to comfort him. It is a cruel mother, that great Earth, that devours her young,–a Force and nothing more. Out of the sky would smile no kind Providence, in all its thousand starry eyes; and in storms a malignant violence, with its lightning-sword, would stab into the darkness, seeking for men to murder.
No man ever was or ever can be content with that. The evidence of .God has been ploughed into Nature so deeply, and so deeply woven into the texture of the human soul, that Atheism has never become a faith, though it has sometimes assumed the shape of theory. Religion is natural to man. Instinctively he turns to God and reverences and relies on Him. In the Mathematics of the Heavens, written in gorgeous diagrams of fire, he sees law, order, beauty, harmony without end: in the ethics of the little nations that inhabit the ant-hills he sees the same; in all Nature, animate and inanimate, he sees the evidences of a Design, a Will, an Intelligence, and a God,–of a God beneficent and loving as well as wise, and merciful and indulgent as well as powerful.
To man, surrounded by the material Universe, and conscious of the influence that his material environments exercised upon his fortunes and his present destiny;–to man, ever confronted with the splendors of the starry heavens, the regular march of the seasons, the phenomena of sunrise and moonrise, and all the evidences of intelligence and design that everywhere pressed upon and overwhelmed him, all imaginable questions as to the nature and cause of these phenomena constantly recurred, demanding to be solved, and refusing to be sent away unanswered. And still, after the lapse of ages, press upon the human mind and demand solution, the same great questions–perhaps still demanding it in vain.
Advancing to the period when man had ceased to look upon the separate parts and individual forces of the Universe as gods,–when he had come to look upon it as a whole, this question, among the earliest, occurred to him, and insisted on being answered: “Is this material Universe self-existent, or was it created? Is it eternal, or did it originate?”
And then in succession came crowding on the human mind these other questions:
“Is this material Universe a mere aggregate of fortuitous combinations of matter, or is it the result and work of intelligence, acting upon a plan?
“If there be such an Intelligence, what and where is it? Is the material Universe itself an Intelligent being? Is it like man, a body and a soul? Does Nature act upon itself, or is there a Cause beyond it that acts upon it?
“If there is a personal God, separate from the material Universe, that created all things, Himself uncreated, is He corporeal or incorporeal, material or spiritual, the soul of the Universe or wholly apart from it? and if He be Spirit, what then is spirit?
“Was that Supreme Deity active or quiescent before the creation; and if quiescent during a previous eternity, what necessity of His nature moved Him at last to create a world; or was it a mere whim that had no motive?
“Was matter co-existent with Him, or absolutely created by him out of nothing? Did He create it, or only mold and shape and fashion a chaos already existing, co-existent with Himself?
“Did the Deity directly create matter, or was creation the work of inferior deities, emanations from Himself?
“If He be good and just, whence comes it that, foreknowing everything, He has allowed sorrow and evil to exist; and how to reconcile with His benevolence and wisdom the prosperity of vice and the misfortunes of virtue in this world?”
And then, as to man himself, recurred these other questions, as they continue to recur to all of us:
“What is it in us that thinks? Is Thought the mere result of material organization; or is there in us a soul that thinks, separate from and resident in the body? If the latter, is it eternal and uncreated; and if not, how created? Is it distinct from God, or an emanation from Him? Is it inherently immortal, or only so by destination, because God has willed it? Is it to return to and be merged in Him, or ever to exist, separately from Him, with its present identity?
“If God has fore-seen and fore-arranged all that occurs, how has man any real free-will, or the least control over circumstances? How can anything be done against the will of Infinite Omnipotence; and if all is done according to that will, how is there any wrong or evil, in what Infinite Wisdom and Infinite Power does not choose to prevent?
“What is the foundation of the moral law? Did God enact it of His own mere pleasure; and if so, can He not, when He pleases, repeal it? Who shalt assure us He will not repeal it, and make right wrong, and virtue vice? Or is the moral law a necessity of His nature; and if so, who enacted it; and does not that assert a power, like the old Necessity, superior to Deity?”
And, close-following after these, came the great question of HEREAFTER, of another Life, of the soul’s Destiny; and the thousand other collateral and subordinate questions, as to matter, spirit, futurity, and God, that have produced all the systems of philosophy, all metaphysics, and all theology, since the world began.
What the old philosophic mind thought upon these great questions, we have already, to some extent, developed. With the Emanation-doctrine of the Gnostics and the Orient, we have endeavored to make you familiar. We have brought you face to face with the Kabalists, the Essenes, and Philo the Jew. We have shown that, and how, much of the old mythology was derived from the daily and yearly recurring phenomena of the heavens. We have exhibited to you the ancient notions by which they endeavored to explain to themselves the existence and prevalence of evil; and we have in some degree made known to you their metaphysical ideas as to the nature of the Deity. Much more remains to be done than it is within our power to do.
We stand upon the sounding shore of the great ocean of Time. In front of us stretches out the heaving waste of the illimitable Past; and its waves, as they roll up to our feet along the sparkling slope of the yellow sands, bring to us, now and then, from the depths of that boundless ocean, a shell, a few specimens of algæ torn rudely from their stems, a rounded pebble; and that is all; of all the vast treasures of ancient thought that lie buried there, with the mighty anthem of the boundless ocean thundering over them forever and forever.
Let us once more, and for the last time, along the shore of that great ocean, gather a few more relics of the Past, and listen to its mighty voices, as they come, in fragmentary music, in broken and interrupted rhythm, whispering to us from the great bosom of the Past.
Rites, creeds, and legends express, directly or symbolically, some leading idea, according to which the Mysteries of Being are supposed to be explained in Deity. The intricacies of mythical genealogies are a practical acknowledgment of the mysterious nature of the Omnipotent Deity; displaying in their beautiful but ineffectual imagery the first efforts of the mind to communicate with nature: the flowers which fancy strewed before the youthful steps of Psyche, when she first set out in pursuit of the immortal object of her love. Theories and notions, in all their varieties of truth and falsehood, are a machinery more or less efficacious, directed to the same end. Every religion was, in its origin, an embryo philosophy, or an attempt to interpret the unknown by mind; and it was only when philosophy, which is essentially progress, outgrew its first acquisitions, that religion became a thing apart, cherishing as unalterable dogmas the notions which philosophy had abandoned. Separated from philosophy, it became arrogant and fantastical, professing to have already attained what its more authentic representative was ever pursuing in vain; and discovering, through its initiations and Mysteries, all that to its contracted view seemed wanting to restore the well-being of mankind, the means of purification and expiation, remedies for disease, expedients to cure the disorders of the soul, and to propitiate the gods.
Why should we attempt to confine the idea of the Supreme Mind within an arbitrary barrier, or exclude from the limits of veracity any conception of the Deity, which, if imperfect and inadequate, may be only a little more so than our own? “The name of God,” says Hobbes, “is used not to make us conceive Him, for He is inconceivable, but that we may honor Him.” “Believe in God, and adore Him,” said the Greek Poet, “but investigate Him not; the inquiry is fruitless, seek not to discover who God is; for, by the desire to know, you offend Him who chooses to remain unknown.” “When we attempt,” says Philo, “to investigate the essence of the Absolute Being, we fall into an abyss of perplexity; and the only benefit to be derived from such researches is the conviction of their absurdity.”
Yet man, though ignorant of the constitution of the dust on which he treads, has ventured, and still ventures, to speculate on the nature of God, and to define dogmatically in creeds the subject least within the compass of his faculties; and even to hate and persecute those who will not accept his views as true.
But though a knowledge of the Divine Essence is impossible, the conceptions formed respecting it are interesting, as indications of intellectual development. The history of religion is the history of the human mind; and the conception formed by it of Deity is always in exact relation to its moral and intellectual attainments. The one is the index and the measure of the other.
The negative notion of God, which consists in abstracting the inferior and finite, is, according to Philo, the only way in which it is possible for man worthily to apprehend the nature of God. After exhausting the varieties of symbolism, we contrast the Divine Greatness with human littleness, and employ expressions apparently affirmative, such as “Infinite,” “Almighty,” “All-wise,” “Omnipotent,” “Eternal,” and the like; which in reality amount only to denying, in regard to God, those limits which con-fine the faculties of man; and thus we remain content with a name which is a mere conventional sign and confession of our ignorance.
The Hebrew יהוה and the Greek To ON expressed abstract existence, without outward manifestation or development. Of the same nature are the definitions, “God is a sphere whose centre is everywhere, and whose circumference nowhere;” “God is He who sees all, Himself unseen:” and finally, that of Proclus and Hegel–“the Το μη ον–that which has no outward and positive existence.” Most of the so-called ideas or definitions of the “Absolute” are only a collection of negations; from which, as they affirm nothing, nothing is learned.
God was first recognized in the heavenly bodies and in the elements. When man’s consciousness of his own intellectuality was matured, and he became convinced that the internal faculty of thought was something more subtle than even the most subtle elements, he transferred that new conception to the object of his worship, and deified a mental principle instead of a physical one. He in every case makes God after his own image; for do what we will, the highest efforts of human thought can conceive nothing higher than the supremacy of intellect; and so he ever conies back to some familiar type of exalted humanity. He at first deifies nature, and afterward himself.
The eternal aspiration of the religious sentiment in man is to become united with God. In his earliest development, the wish and its fulfillment were simultaneous, through unquestioning belief. In proportion as the conception of Deity was exalted, the notion of His terrestrial presence or proximity was abandoned; and the difficulty of comprehending the Divine Government, together with the glaring superstitious evils arising out of its misinterpretation, endangered the belief in it altogether.
Even the lights of Heaven, which, as “bright potentates of the sky,” were formerly the vigilant directors of the economy of earth, now shine dim and distant, and Uriel no more descends upon a sunbeam. But the real change has been in the progressive ascent of man’s own faculties, and not in the Divine Nature; as the Stars are no more distant now than when they were supposed to rest on the shoulders of Atlas. And yet a little sense of disappointment and humiliation attended the first awakening of the soul, when reason, looking upward toward the Deity, was impressed with a dizzy sense of having fallen.
But hope revives in despondency; and every nation that ever advanced beyond the most elementary conceptions, felt the necessity of an attempt to fill the chasm, real or imaginary, separating man from God. To do this was the great task of poetry, philosophy, and religion. Hence the personifications of God’s attributes, developments, and manifestations, as “Powers,” “Intelligences,” “Angels,” “Emanations;” through which and the oracular faculty in himself, man could place himself in communion with God.
The various ranks and orders of mythical beings imagined by Persians, Indians, Egyptians, or Etrurians, to preside over the various departments of nature, had each his share in a scheme to bring man into closer approximation to the Deity; they eventually gave way only before an analogous though less picturesque symbolism; and the Deities and Dæmons of Greece and Rome were perpetuated with only a change of names, when their offices were transferred to Saints and Martyrs. The attempts by which reason had sometimes endeavored to span the unknown by a bridge of metaphysics, such as the idealistic systems of Zoroaster, Pythagoras, or Plato, were only a more refined form of the poetical illusions which satisfied the vulgar; and man still looked back with longing to the lost golden age, when his ancestors communed face to face with the Gods; and hoped that, by propitiating Heaven, he might accelerate the renewal of it in the islands of the Far West, under the sceptre of Kronos, or in a centralization of political power at Jerusalem. His eager hope overcame even the terrors of the grave; for the Divine power was as infinite as human expectation, and the Egyptian, duly ensepulchred in the Lybian Catacombs, was supposed to be already on his way to the Fortunate Abodes under the guidance of Hermes, there to obtain a perfect association and reunion with his God.
Remembering what we have already said elsewhere in regard to the old ideas concerning the Deity, and repeating it as little as possible, let us once more put ourselves in communion with the Ancient poetic and philosophic mind, and endeavor to learn of it what it thought, and how it solved the great problems that have ever tortured the human intellect.
The division of the First and Supreme Cause into two parts, one Active and the other Passive, the Universe Agent and Patient, or the hermaphroditic God-World, is one of the most ancient and widespread dogmas of philosophy or natural theology. Almost every ancient people gave it a place in their worship, their mysteries, and their ceremonies.
Ocellus Lucanus, who seems to have lived shortly after Pythagoras opened his School in Italy, five or six hundred years before our era, and in the time of Solon, Thales, and the other Sages who had studied in the Schools of Egypt, not only recognizes the eternity of the Universe, and its divine character as an unproduced and indestructible being, but also the distinction of Active and Passive causes in what he terms the Grand Whole, or the single hermaphroditic Being that comprehends all existences, as well causes as effects; and which is a system regularly ordered, perfect and complete, of all Natures. He well apprehended the dividing-line that separates existence eternally the same, from that which eternally changes; the nature of celestial from that of terrestrial bodies, that of causes from that of effects, that which is from that which only BECOMES,–a distinction that naturally struck every thinking man.
We shall not quote his language at full length. The heavenly bodies, he thought, are first and most noble; they move of themselves, and ever revolve, without change of form or essence. Fire, water, earth, and air change incessantly and continually, not place, but form. Then, as in the Universe there are generation and cause of generation,–as generation is where there are change and displacement of parts, and cause where there is stability of nature, evidently it belongs to what is the cause of generation, to move and to act, and to the recipient, to be made and moved. In his view, everything above the Moon was the habitation of the gods; all below, that of Nature and discord; this operates dissolution of things made; that, production of those that are being made. As the world is unproduced and indestructible, as it had no beginning, and will have no end, necessarily the principle that operates generation in another than itself, and that which operates it in itself, have co-existed.
The former is all above the moon, and especially the sun: the latter is the sublunary world. Of these two parts, one active, the other passive–one divine and always the same, the other mortal and ever changing, all that we call the “world” or “universe” is composed.
These accorded with the principles of the Egyptian philosophy, which held that man and the animals had always existed together with the world; that they were its effects, eternal like itself. The chief divisions of nature into active and passive causes, its system of generation and destruction, and the concurrence of the two great principles, Heaven and earth, uniting to form all things, will, according to Ocellus, always continue to exist. “Enough,” he concludes, “as to the Universe, the generations and destructions effected in it, the mode in which it now exists, the mode in which it will ever exist, by the eternal qualities of the two principles, one always moving, the other always moved; one always governing, the other always governed.”
Such is a brief summary of the doctrine of this philosopher, whose work is one of the most ancient that has survived to us. The subject on which he treated occupied in his time all men’s minds: the poets sang of cosmogonies and theogonies, and the philosophers wrote treatises on the birth of the world and the elements of its composition. The cosmogony of the Hebrews; attributed to Moses; that of the Phœnicians, ascribed to Sanchoniathon; that of the Greeks, composed by Hesiod; that of the Egyptians, the Atlantes, and the Cretans, preserved by Diodorus Siculus; the fragments of the theology of Orpheus, divided among different writers; the books of the Persians, or their Boundehesh; those of the Hindūs; the traditions of the Chinese and the people of Macassar; the cosmogonic chants which Virgil puts in the mouth of Iopas at Carthage; and those of the old Silenus, the first book of the Metamorphoses of Ovid; all testify to the antiquity and universality of these fictions as to the origin of the world and its causes.
At the head of the causes of nature, Heaven and earth were placed; and the most apparent parts of each, the sun, the moon, the fixed stars and planets, and, above all, the zodiac, among the active causes of generation; and among the passive, the several elements. These causes were not only classed in the progressive order of their energy, Heaven and earth heading the respective lists, but distinct sexes were in some sort assigned to them, and characteristics analogous to the mode in which they concur in universal generation.
The doctrine of Ocellus was the general doctrine everywhere, it naturally occurring to all to make the same distinction. The Egyptians did so, in selecting those animals in which they recognized these emblematic qualities, in order to symbolize the double sex of the Universe. Their God KNEPH, out of whose mouth issued the Orphic egg, whence the author of the Clementine Recognitions makes a hermaphroditic figure to emerge, uniting in itself the two principles whereof Heaven and the earth are forms, and which enter into the organization of all beings which the heavens and the earth engender by their concourse, furnishes another emblem of the double power, active and passive, which the ancients saw in the Universe, and which they symbolized by the egg. Orpheus, who studied in Egypt, borrowed from the theologians of that country the mysterious forms under which the science of nature was veiled, and carried into Greece the symbolic egg, with its division into two parts or causes figured by the hermaphroditic being that issued from it, and whereof Heaven and earth are composed.
The Brahmins of India expressed the same cosmogonic idea by a statue, representative of the Universe, uniting in itself both sexes. The male sex offered an image of the sun, centre of the active principle, and the female sex that of the moon, at the sphere whereof, proceeding downward, the passive portion of nature begins. The Lingam, unto the present day revered in the Indian temples, being but the conjunction of the organs of generation of the two sexes, was an emblem of the same. The Hindūs have ever had the greatest veneration for this symbol of ever-reproductive nature. The Greeks consecrated the same symbols of universal fruitfulness in their Mysteries; and they were exhibited in the sanctuaries of Eleusis. They appear among the sculptured ornaments of all the Indian temples. Tertullian accuses the Valentinians of having adopted the custom of venerating them; a custom, he says, introduced by Melampus from Egypt into Greece. The Egyptians consecrated the Phallus in the Mysteries of Osiris and Isis, as we learn from Plutarch and Diodorus Siculus; and the latter assures us that these emblems were not consecrated by the Egyptians alone, but by every people. They certainly were so among the Persians and Assyrians; and they were regarded everywhere as symbolic of the generative and productive powers of all animated beings. In those early ages, the works of Nature and all her agents were sacred like herself.
For the union of Nature with herself is a chaste marriage, of which the union of man and woman was a natural image, and their organs were an expressive emblem of the double energy which manifests itself in Heaven and Earth uniting together to produce all beings. “The Heavens,” says Plutarch, “seemed to men to fulfill the functions of father, and the Earth of mother. The former impregnated the earth with its fertilizing rains, and the earth, receiving them, became fruitful and brought forth.” Heaven, which covers and embraces the earth everywhere, is her potent spouse, uniting himself to her to make her fruitful, without which she would languish in everlasting sterility, buried in the shades of chaos and of night. Their union is their marriage; their productions or parts are their children. The skies are our Father, and Nature the great Mother of us all.
This idea was not the dogma of a single sect, but the general opinion of all the Sages. “Nature was divided,” says Cicero, ‘”into two parts, one active, and the other that submitted itself to this action, which it received, and which modified it. The former was deemed to be a Force, and the latter the material on which that Force exerted itself.” Macrobius repeated almost literally the doctrine of Ocellus. Aristotle termed the earth the fruitful mother, environed on all sides by the air. Above it was Heaven, the dwelling-place of the gods and the divine stars, its substance ether, or a fire incessantly moving in circles, divine and incorruptible, and subject to no change. Below it, nature, and the elements, imitable and acted on, corruptible and mortal.
Synesius said that generations were effected in the portions of the Universe which we inhabit; while the cause of generations resided in the portions above us, whence descend to us the germs of the effects produced here below. Proclus and Simplicius deemed Heaven the Active Cause and Father, relatively to the earth. The former says that the World or the Whole is a single Animal; what is done in it, is done by it; the same World acts, and acts upon itself. He divides it into “Heaven” and “Generation.” In the former, he says, are placed and arranged the conservative causes of generation, superintended by the Genii and Gods. The Earth, or Rhea, associated ever with Saturn in production, is mother of the effects of which Heaven is Father; the womb or bosom that receives the fertilizing energy of the God that engenders ages. The great work of generation is operated, he says, primarily by the action of the Sun, and secondarily by that of the Moon, so that the Sun is the primitive source of this energy, as father and chief of the male gods that form his court. He follows the action of the male and female principles through all the portions and divisions of nature, attributing to the former the origin of stability and identity, to the latter, that of diversity and mobility. Heaven is to the earth, he says, as the male to the female. It is the movement of the heavens that, by their revolutions, furnished the seminal incitements and forces, whose emanations received by the earth, make it fruitful, and cause it to produce animals and plants of every kind.
Philo says that Moses recognized this doctrine of two causes, active and passive; but made the former to reside in the Mind or Intelligence external to matter.
The ancient astrologers divided the twelve signs of the Zodiac into six male and six female, and assigned them to six male and six female Great Gods. Heaven and Earth, or Ouranos and Ghê, were among most ancient nations, the first and most ancient Divinities. We find them in the Phœnician history of Sanchoniathon, and in the Grecian Genealogy of the Gods given by Hesiod. Everywhere they marry, and by their union produce the later Gods. “In the beginning,” says Apollodorus, “Ouranos or the Heavens was Lord of all the Universe: he took to wife Ghê or the earth, and had by her many children.” They were the first Gods of the Cretans, and under other names, of the Armenians, as we learn from Berosus, and of Panchaîa, an island South of Arabia, as we learn from Euhemerus. Orpheus made the Divinity, or the “Great Whole,” male and female, because, he said, it could produce nothing, unless it united in itself the productive force of both sexes. He called Heaven PANGENETOR, the Father of all things, most ancient of Beings, beginning and end of all, containing in Himself the incorruptible and unwearying force of Necessity.
The same idea obtained in the rude North of Europe. The Scythians made the earth to be the wife of Jupiter; and the Germans adored her under the name of HERTA. The Celts worshipped the Heavens and the Earth, and said that without the former the latter would be sterile, and that their marriage produced all things. The Scandinavians acknowledged BÖR or the Heavens, and gave FURTUR, his son, the Earth as his wife. Olaus Rudbeck adds, that their ancestors were persuaded that Heaven intermarried with the Earth, and thus uniting his forces with hers, produced animals and plants. This marriage of Heaven and Earth produced the AZES, Genii famous in the theology of the North. In the theology of the Phrygians and Lydians, the ASII were born of the marriage of the Supreme God with the Earth, and Firmicus informs us that the Phrygians attributed to the Earth supremacy over the other elements, and considered her the Great Mother of all things.
Virgil sings the impregnation of the joyous earth, by the Ether, its spouse, that descends upon its bosom, fertilizing it with rains. Columella sings the loves of Nature and her marriage with Heaven annually consummated at the sweet Spring-time. He describes the Spirit of Life, the soul that animates the world, fired with the passion of Love, uniting with Nature and itself, itself a part of Nature, and filling its own bosom with new productions. This union of the Universe with itself, this mutual action of two sexes, he terms “the great Secrets of Nature,” the Mysteries of the Union of Heaven with Earth, imaged in the Sacred Mysteries of Atys and Bacchus.”
Varro tells us that the great Divinities adored at Samothrace were the Heavens and the Earth, considered as First Causes or Primal Gods, and as male and female agents, one bearing to the other the relations that the Soul and Principle of Movement bear to the body or the matter that receives them. These were the gods revered in the Mysteries of that Island, as they were in the orgies of Phœnicia.
Everywhere the sacred body of Nature was covered with the veil of allegory, which concealed it from the profane, and allowed it to be seen only by the sage who thought it worthy to be the object of his study and investigation. She showed herself to those only who loved her in spirit and in truth, and she abandoned the indifferent and careless to error and to ignorance. “The Sages of Greece,” says Pausanias, “never wrote otherwise than in an enigmatical manner, never naturally and directly.” “Nature,” says Sallust the Philosopher, “should be sung only in a language that imitates the secrecy of her processes and operations. She is herself an enigma. We see only bodies in movement; the forces and springs that move them are hidden from us.” The poets inspired by the Divinity, the wisest philosophers, all the theologians, the chiefs of the initiations and Mysteries, even the gods uttering their oracles, have borrowed the figurative language of allegory. “The Egyptians,” says Proclus, “preferred that mode of teaching, and spoke of the great secrets of Nature, only in mythological enigmas.” The Gymnosophists of India and the Druids of Gaul lent to science the same enigmatic language, and in the same style wrote the Hierophants of Phœnicia.
The division of things into the active and the passive cause leads to that of the two Principles of Light and Darkness, connected with and corresponding with it. For Light comes from the ethereal substance that composes the active cause, and darkness from earth or the gross matter which composes the passive cause. In Hesiod, the Earth, by its union with Tartarus, engenders Typhon. Chief of the Powers or Genii of Darkness. But it unites itself with the Ether or Ouranos, when it engenders the Gods of Olympus, or the Stars, children of Starry Ouranos.
Light was the first Divinity worshipped by men. To it they owed the brilliant spectacle of Nature. It seems an emanation from the Creator of all things, making known to our senses the Universe which darkness hides from our eyes, and, as it were, giving it existence. Darkness, as it were, reduces all nature again to nothingness, and almost entirely annihilates man.
Naturally, therefore, two substances of opposite natures were imagined, to each of which the world was in turn subjected, one contributing to its felicity and the other to its misfortune. Light multiplied its enjoyments; Darkness despoiled it of them: the former was its friend, the latter its enemy. To one all good was attributed; to the other all evil; and thus the words “Light” and “Good” became synonymous, and the words “Darkness” and “Evil.” It seeming that Good and Evil could not flow from one and the same source, any more than could Light and Darkness, men naturally imagined two Causes or Principles, of different natures and opposite in their effects, one of which shed Light and Good, and the other Darkness and Evil, on the Universe.
This distinction of the two Principles was admitted in all the Theologies, and formed one of the principal bases of all religions. It entered as a primary element into the sacred fables, the cosmogonies and the Mysteries of antiquity. “We are not to suppose,” says Plutarch, “that the Principles of the Universe are inanimate bodies, as Democritus and Epicurus thought; nor that a matter devoid of qualities is organized and arranged by a single Reason or Providence, Sovereign over all things, as the Stoics held; for it is not possible that a single Being, good or evil, is the cause of all, inasmuch as God can in nowise be the cause of any evil. The harmony of the Universe is a combination of contraries, like the strings of a lyre, or that of a bow, which alternately is stretched and relaxed.” “The good,” says Euripides, “is never separated from the Evil. The two must mingle, that all may go well.” And this opinion as to the two principles, continues Plutarch, “is that of all antiquity. From the Theologians and Legislators it passed to the Poets and Philosophers. Its author is unknown; but the opinion itself is established by the traditions of the whole human race, and consecrated in the mysteries and sacrifices both of the Greeks and Barbarians, wherein was recognized the dogma of opposing principles in nature, which, by their contrariety, produce the mixture of good and evil. We must admit two contrary causes, two opposing powers, which lead, one to the right and the other to the left, and thus control our life, as they do the sublunary world, which is therefore subject to so many changes and irregularities of every kind. For if there can be no effect without a cause, and if the Good cannot be the cause of the Evil, it is absolutely necessary that there should be a cause for the Evil, as there is one for the Good.” This doctrine, he adds, has been generally received among most nations, and especially by those who have had the greatest reputation for wisdom. All have admitted two gods, with different occupations, one making the good and the other the evil found in nature. The former has been styled “God,” the latter “Demon.” The Persians, or Zoroaster, named the former Ormuzd and the latter Ahriman; of whom they said one was of the nature of Light, the other of that of Darkness. The Egyptians called the former Osiris, and the latter Typhon, his eternal enemy.
The Hebrews, at least after their return from the Persian captivity, had their good Deity, and the Devil, a bad and malicious Spirit, ever opposing God, and Chief of the Angels of Darkness, as God was of those of Light. The word “Satan” means, in Hebrew, simply, “The Adversary.”
The Chaldæans, Plutarch says, had their good and evil stars. The Greeks had their Jupiter and Pluto, and their Giants and Titans, to whom were assigned the attributes of the Serpent with which Pluto or Serapis was encircled, and the shape whereof was assumed by Typhon, Ahriman, and the Satan of the Hebrews. Every people had something equivalent to this.
The People of Pegu believe in two Principles, one author of Good and the other of Evil, and strive to propitiate the latter, while they think it needless to worship the former, as he is incapable of doing evil. The people of Java, of the Moluccas, of the Gold Coast, the Hottentots, the people of Teneriffe and Madagascar, and the Savage Tribes of America, all worship and strive to avert the anger and propitiate the good-will of the Evil Spirit.
But among the Greeks, Egyptians, Chaldæans, Persians, and Assyrians, the doctrine of the two Principles formed a complete and regularly arranged theological system. It was the basis of the religion of the Magi and of Egypt. The author of an ancient work, attributed to Origen, says that Pythagoras learned from Zarastha, a Magus at Babylon (the same, perhaps, as Zerdusht or Zoroaster), that there are two principles of all things, whereof one is the father and the other the mother; the former, Light, and the latter, Darkness. Pythagoras thought that the Dependencies on Light were warmth, dryness, lightness, swiftness; and those on Darkness, cold, wet, weight, and slowness; and that the world derived its existence from these two principles, as from the male and the female. According to Porphyry, he conceived two opposing powers, one good, which he termed Unity, the Light, Right, the Equal, the Stable, the Straight; the other evil, which he termed Binary, Darkness, the Left, the Unequal, the Unstable, the Crooked. These ideas he received from the Orientals, for he dwelt twelve years at Babylon, studying with the Magi. Varro says he recognized two Principles of all things,–the Finite and the Infinite, Good and Evil, Life and Death, Day and Night. White he thought was of the nature of the Good Principle, and Black of that of the Evil; that Light and Darkness, Heat and Cold, the Dry and the Wet, mingled in equal proportions; that Summer was the triumph of heat, and Winter of cold; that their equal combination produced Spring and Autumn, the former producing verdure and favorable to health, and the latter, deteriorating everything, giving birth to maladies. He applied the same idea to the rising and setting of the sun; and, like the Magi, held that God or Ormuzd in the body resembled light, and in the soul, truth.
Aristotle, like Plato, admitted a principle of Evil, resident in matter and in its eternal imperfection.
The Persians said that Ormuzd, born of the pure Light, and Ahriman, born of darkness, were ever at war. Ormuzd produced six Gods, Beneficence, Truth, Good Order, Wisdom, Riches, and Virtuous Joy. These were so many emanations from the Good Principle, so many blessings bestowed by it on men. Ahriman, in his turn, produced six Devs, opponents of the six emanations from Ormuzd. Then Ormuzd made himself three times as great as before, ascended as far above the sun as the sun is above the earth, and adorned the heavens with stars, of which he made Sirius the sentinel or advance-guard: that he then created twenty-four other Deities, and placed them in an egg, where Ahriman also placed twenty-four others, created by him, who broke the egg, and so intermingled Good and Evil. Theopompus adds that, according to the Magi, for two terms of three thousand years, each of the two Principles is to be by turns victor and the other vanquished; then for three thousand more for each they are to contend with each other, each destroying reciprocally the works of the other; after which Ahriman is to perish, and men, wearing transparent bodies, to enjoy unutterable happiness.
The twelve great Deities of the Persians, the six Amshaspands and six Devs, marshalled, the former under the banner of Light, and the latter under that of Darkness, are the twelve Zodiacal Signs or Months; the six supreme signs, or those of Light, or of Spring and Summer, commencing with Aries, and the six inferior, of Darkness, or of Autumn and Winter, commencing with Libra. Limited Time, as contradistinguished from Time without limits, or Eternity, is Time created and measured by the celestial revolutions. It is comprehended in a period divided into twelve parts, each subdivided into a thousand parts, which the Persians termed years. Thus the circle annually traversed by the Sun was divided into 12,000 parts, or each sign into 3,000: and thus, each year, the Principle of Light and Good triumphed for 3,000 years, that of Evil and Darkness for 3,000, and they mutually destroyed each other’s labors for 6,000, or 3,000 for each: so that the Zodiac was equally divided between them. And accordingly Ocellus Lucanus, the Disciple of Pythagoras, held that the principal cause of all sublunary effects resided in the Zodiac, and that from it flowed the good or bad influences of the planets that revolved therein.
The twenty-four good and twenty-four evil Deities, enclosed in the Egg, are the forty-eight constellations of the ancient sphere, equally divided between the realms of Light and Darkness, on the concavity of the celestial sphere which was apportioned among them; and which, enclosing the world and planets, was the mystic and sacred egg of the Magi, the Indians, and the Egyptians,–the egg that issued from the mouth of the God Kneph, that figured as the Orphic Egg in the Mysteries of Greece, that issued from the God Chumong of the Coresians, and from the Egyptian Osiris and the God Phanes of the Modern Orphics, Principle of Light,–the egg crushed by the Sacred Bull of the Japanese, and from which the world emerged; that placed by the Greeks at the feet of Bacchus the bull-horned God, and from which Aristophanes makes Love emerge, who with Night organizes Chaos.
Thus the Balance, the Scorpion, the Serpent of Ophiucus, and the Dragon of the Hesperides became malevolent Signs and Evil Genii; and entire nature was divided between the two principles, and between the agents or partial causes subordinate to them. Hence Michael and his Archangels, and Satan and his fallen compeers. Hence the wars of Jupiter and the Giants, in which the Gods of Olympus fought on the side of the Light-God, against the dark progeny of earth and Chaos; a war which Proclus regarded as symbolizing the resistance opposed by dark and chaotic matter to the active and beneficent force which gives it organization; an idea which in part appears in the old theory of two Principles, one innate in the active and luminous substance of Heaven, and the other in the inert and dark substance of matter that resists the order and the good that Heaven communicates to it.
Osiris conquers Typhon, and Ormuzd, Ahriman, when, at the Vernal Equinox, the creative action of Heaven and its demiourgic energy is most strongly manifested. Then the principle of Light and Good overcomes that of Darkness and Evil, and the world rejoices, redeemed from cold and wintry darkness by the beneficent Sign into which the Sun then enters triumphant and rejoicing, after his resurrection.
From the doctrine of the two Principles, Active and Passive, grew that of the Universe, animated by a Principle of Eternal Life, and by a Universal Soul, from which every isolated and temporary being received at its birth an emanation, which, at the death of such being, returned to its source. The life of matter as much belonged to nature as did matter itself; and as life is manifested by movement, the sources of life must needs seem to be placed in those luminous and eternal bodies, and above all in the Heaven in which they revolve, and which whirls them along with itself in that rapid course that is swifter than all other movement. And fire and heat have so great an analogy with life, that cold, like absence of movement, seemed the distinctive characteristic of death. Accordingly, the vital fire that blazes in the Sun and produces the heat that vivifies everything, was regarded as the principle of organization and life of all sublunary beings.
According to this doctrine, the Universe is not to be regarded, in its creative and eternal action, merely as an immense machine, moved by powerful springs and forced into a continual movement, which, emanating from the circumference, extends to the center, acts and re-acts in every possible direction, and re-produces in succession all the varied forms which matter receives. So to regard it would be to recognize a cold and purely mechanical action, the energy of which could never produce life.
On the contrary, it was thought, the Universe should be deemed an immense Being, always living, always moved and always moving in an eternal activity inherent in itself, and which, subordinate to no foreign cause, is communicated to all its parts, connects them together, and makes of the world of things a complete and perfect whole. The order and harmony which reign therein seem to belong to and be a part of it, and the design of the various plans of construction of organized beings would seem to be graven in its Supreme Intelligence, source of all the other Intelligences which it communicates together with life to man. Nothing existing out of it, it must be regarded as the principle and term of all things.
Chæremon had no reason for saying that the Ancient Egyptians, inventors of the sacred fables, and adorers of the Sun and the other luminaries, saw in the Universe only a machine, without life and without intelligence, either in its whole or in its parts; and that their cosmogony was a pure Epicureanism, which required only matter and movement to organize its world and govern it. Such an opinion would necessarily exclude all religious worship. Wherever we suppose a worship, there we must suppose intelligent Deities who receive it, and are sensible to the homage of their adorers; and no other people were so religious as the Egyptians.
On the contrary, with them the immense, immutable, and Eternal Being, termed “God” or “the Universe,” had eminently, and in all their plenitude, that life and intelligence which sublunary beings, each an infinitely small and temporary portion of itself, possess in a far inferior degree and infinitely less quantity. It was to them, in some sort, like the Ocean, whence the springs, brooks, and rivers have risen by evaporation, and to the bosom whereof they return by a longer or shorter course, and after a longer or shorter separation from the immense mass of its waters. The machine of the Universe was, in their view, like that of man, moved by a Principle of Life which kept it in eternal activity, and circulated in all its parts. The Universe was a living and animated being, like man and the other animals; or rather they were so only because the Universe was essentially so, and for a few moments communicated to each an infinitely minute portion of its eternal life, breathed by it into the inert and gross matter of sublunary bodies. That withdrawn, man or the animal died; and the Universe alone, living and circulating around the wrecks of their bodies, by its eternal movement, organized and animated new bodies, returning to them the eternal fire and subtle substance which vivifies itself, and which, incorporated in its immense mass, was its universal soul.
These were the ancient ideas as to this Great GOD, Father of all the gods, or of the World; of this BEING, Principle of all things, and of which nothing other than itself is Principle,–the Universal cause that was termed God. Soul of the Universe, eternal like it, immense like it, supremely active and potent in its varied operations, penetrating all parts of this vast body, impressing a regular and symmetrical movement on the spheres, making the elements instinct with activity and order, mingling with everything, organizing everything, vivifying and preserving everything,–this was the UNIVERSE-GOD which the ancients adored as Supreme Cause and God of Gods.
Anchises, in the Æneid, taught Æneas this doctrine of Pythagoras, learned by him from his Masters, the Egyptians, in regard to the Soul and Intelligence of the Universe, from which our souls and intelligences, as well as our life and that of the animals, emanate, Heaven, Earth, the Sea, the Moon and the Stars, he said, are moved by a principle of internal life which perpetuates their existence; a great intelligent soul, that penetrates every part of the vast body of the Universe, and, mingling with everything, agitates it by an eternal movement. It is the source of life in all living things. The force which animates all, emanates from the eternal fire that burns in Heaven. In the Georgics, Virgil repeats the same doctrine; and that, at the death of every animal, the life that animated it, part of the universal life, returns to its Principle and to the source of life that circulates in the sphere of the Stars.
Servius makes God the active Cause that organizes the elements into bodies, the vivifying breath or spirit, that, spreading through matter or the elements, produces and engenders all things. The elements compose the substance of our bodies: God composes the souls that vivify these bodies. From it come the instincts of animals, from it their life, he says: and when they die, that life returns to and re-enters into the Universal Soul, and their bodies into Universal Matter.
Timæus of Locria and Plato his Commentator wrote of the Soul of the World, developing the doctrine of Pythagoras, who thought, says Cicero, that God is the Universal Soul, resident everywhere in nature, and of which our Souls are but emanations. “God is one,” says Pythagoras, as cited by Justin Martyr: “He is not, as some think, without the world, but within it, and entire in its entirety. He sees all that becomes, forms all immortal beings, is the author of their powers and performances, the origin of all things, the Light of Heaven, the Father, the Intelligence, the Soul of all beings, the Mover of all spheres.”
God, in the view of Pythagoras, was ONE, a single substance, whose continuous parts extended through all the Universe, without separation, difference, or inequality, like the soul in the human body. He denied the doctrine of the spiritualists, who had severed the Divinity from the Universe, making Him exist apart from the Universe, which thus became no more than a material work, on which acted the Abstract Cause, a God, isolated from it. The Ancient Theology did not so separate God from the Universe. This Eusebius attests, in saying that but a small number of wise men, like Moses, had sought for God or the Cause of all, outside of that ALL; while the Philosophers of Egypt and Phœnicia, real authors of all the old Cosmogonies, had placed the Supreme Cause in the Universe itself, and in its parts, so that, in their view, the world and all its parts are in God.
The World or Universe was thus compared to man: the Principle of Life that moves it, to that which moves man; the Soul of the World to that of man. Therefore Pythagoras called man a microcosm, or little world, as possessing in miniature all the qualities found on a great scale in the Universe; by his reason and intelligence partaking of the Divine Nature: and by his faculty of changing aliments into other substances, of growing, and re-producing himself, partaking of elementary Nature. Thus he made the Universe a great intelligent Being, like man–an immense Deity, having in itself, what man has in himself, movement, life, and intelligence, and besides, a perpetuity of existence, which man has not; and, as having in itself perpetuity of movement and life, therefore the Supreme Cause of all.
Everywhere extended, this Universal Soul does not, in the view of Pythagoras, act everywhere equally nor in the same manner. The highest portion of the Universe, being as it were its head, seemed to him its principal seat, and there was the guiding power of the rest of the world. In the seven concentric spheres is resident an eternal order, fruit of the intelligence, the Universal Soul that moves, by a constant and regular progression, the immortal bodies that form the harmonious system of the heavens.
Manilius says: “I sing the invisible and potent Soul of Nature; that Divine Substance which, everywhere inherent in Heaven, Earth, and the Waters of the Ocean, forms the bond that holds together and makes one all the parts of the vast body of the Universe. It, balancing all Forces, and harmoniously arranging the varied relations of the many members of the world, maintains in it the life and regular movement that agitate it, as a result of the action of the living breath or single spirit that dwells in all its parts, circulates in all the channels of universal nature, flashes with rapidity to all its points, and gives to animated bodies the configurations appropriate to the organization of each . . . . This eternal Law, this Divine Force, that maintains the harmony of the world, makes use of the Celestial Signs to organize and guide the animated creatures that breathe upon the earth; and gives to each of them the character and habits most appropriate. By the action of this Force Heaven rules the condition of the Earth and of its fields cultivated by the husbandman: it gives us or takes from us vegetation and harvests: it makes the great ocean overpass its limits at the flow, and retire within them again at the ebbing, of the tide.”
Thus it is no longer by means of a poetic fiction only that the heavens and the earth become animated and personified, and are deemed living existences, from which other existences proceed. For now they live, with their own life, a life eternal like their bodies, each gifted with a life and perhaps a soul, like those of man, a portion of the universal life and universal soul; and the other bodies that they form, and which they contain in their bosoms, live only through them and with their life, as the embryo lives in the bosom of its mother, in consequence and by means of the life communicated to it, and which the mother ever maintains by the active power of her own life. Such is the universal life of the world, reproduced in all the beings which its superior portion creates in its inferior portion, that is as it were the matrix of the world, or of the beings that the heavens engender in its bosom,
“The soul of the world,” says Macrobius, “is nature itself” [as the soul of man is man himself], “always acting through the celestial spheres which .it moves, and which but follow the irresistible impulse it impresses on them. The heavens, the sun, great seat of generative power, the signs, the stars, and the planets act only with the activity of the soul of the Universe. From that soul, through them, come all the variations and changes of sublunary nature, of which the heavens and celestial bodies are but the secondary causes. The zodiac, with its signs, is an existence, immortal and divine, organized by the universal soul, and producing, or gathering in itself, all the varied emanations of the different powers that make up the nature of the Divinity.”
This doctrine, that gave to the heavens and the spheres living souls, each a portion of the universal soul, was of extreme antiquity. It was held by the old Sabæans. It was taught by Timæus, Plato, Speusippus, Iamblichus, Macrobius, Marcus Aurelius, and Pythagoras. When once men had assigned a soul to the Universe, containing in itself the plenitude of the animal life of particular beings, and even of the stars, they soon supposed that soul to be essentially intelligent, and the source of intelligence of all intelligent beings. Then the Universe became to them not only animated but intelligent, and of that intelligence the different parts of nature partook. Each soul was the vehicle, and, as it were, the envelope of the intelligence that attached itself to it, and could repose nowhere else. Without a soul there could be no intelligence; and as there was a universal soul, source of all souls, the universal soul was gifted with a universal intelligence, source of all particular intelligences. So the soul of the world contained in itself the intelligence of the world. All the agents of nature into which the universal soul entered, received also a portion of its intelligence, and the Universe, in its totality and in its parts, was filled with intelligences, that might be regarded as so many emanations from the sovereign and universal intelligence. Wherever the divine soul acted as a cause, there also was intelligence; and thus Heaven, the stars, the elements, and all parts of the Universe, became the seats of so many divine intelligences. Every minutest portion of the great soul became a partial intelligence, and the more it was disengaged from gross matter, the more active and intelligent it was. And all the old adorers of nature, the theologians, astrologers, and poets, and the most distinguished philosophers, supposed that the stars were so many animated and intelligent beings, or eternal bodies, active causes of effects here below, whom a principle of life animated, and whom an intelligence directed, which was but an emanation from, and a portion of, the universal life and intelligence of the world.
The Universe itself was regarded as a supremely intelligent being. Such was the doctrine of Timæus of Locria. The soul of man was part of the intelligent soul of the Universe, and therefore itself intelligent. His opinion was that of many other philosophers. Cleanthes, a disciple of ZENO, regarded the Universe as God, Or as the unproduced and universal cause of all effects produced. He ascribed a soul and intelligence to universal nature, and to this intelligent soul, in his view, divinity belonged. From it the intelligence of man was an emanation, and shared its divinity. Chrysippus, the most subtle of the Stoics, placed in the universal reason that forms the soul and intelligence of nature, that divine force or essence of the Divinity which he assigned to the world moved by the universal soul that pervades its every part.
An interlocutor in Cicero’s work, De Natura Deorum, formally argues that the Universe is necessarily intelligent and wise, because man, an infinitely small portion of it, is so. Cicero makes the same argument in his oration for Milo. The physicists came to the same conclusion as the philosophers. They supposed that movement essentially belonged to the soul, and the direction of regular and ordered movements to the intelligence. And, as both movement and order exist in the Universe, therefore, they held, there must be in it a soul and an intelligence that role it, and are not to be distinguished from itself; because the idea of the Universe is but the aggregate of all the particular ideas of all things that exist.
The argument was, that the Heavens, and the Stars which make part of them, are animated, because they possess a portion of the Universal Soul: they are intelligent beings, because that Universal Soul, part whereof they possess, is supremely intelligent; and they share Divinity with Universal Nature, because Divinity resides in the Universal Soul and Intelligence which move and rule the world, and of each of which they hold a share. By this process of logic, the interlocutor in Cicero assigned Divinity to the Stars, as animated beings gifted with sensibility and intelligence, and composed of the noblest and purest portions of the ethereal substance, unmixed with matter of an alien nature, and essentially containing light and heat. Hence he concluded them to be so many gods, of an intelligence superior to that of other existences, corresponding to the lofty height in which they moved with such perfect regularity and admirable harmony, with a movement spontaneous and free. Hence he made them “Gods,” active, eternal, and intelligent “Causes”; and peopled the realm of Heaven with a host of Eternal Intelligences, celestial Genii or Angels, sharing the universal Divinity, and associated with it in the administration of the Universe, and the dominion exercised over sublunary nature and man.
We make the motive-force of the planets to be a mechanical law, which we explain by the combination of two forces, the centripetal and centrifugal, whose origin we cannot demonstrate, but whose force we can calculate. The ancients regarded them as moved by an intelligent force that had its origin in the first and universal Intelligence. Is it so certain, after all, that we are any nearer the truth than they were; or that we know what our “centripetal and centrifugal forces” mean; for what is a force? With us, the entire Deity acts upon and moves each planet, as He does the sap that circulates in the little blade of grass, and in the particles of blood in the tiny veins of the invisible rotifer. With the Ancients, the Deity of each Star was but a portion of the Universal God, the Soul of Nature. Each Star and Planet, with them, was moved of itself, and directed by its own special intelligence. And this opinion of Achilles Tatius, Diodorus, Chrysippus, Aristotle, Plato, Heraclides of Pontus, Theophrastus, Simplicius, Macrobius, and Proclus, that in each Star there is an immortal Soul and Intelligence, part of the Universal Soul and Intelligence of the Whole,–this opinion of Orpheus, Plotinus, and the Stoics, was in reality, that of many Christian philosophers. For Origen held the same opinion; and Augustin held that every visible thing in the world was superintended by an Angelic Power: and Cosma, the Monk, believed that every Star was under the guidance of an Angel; and the author of the Octateuch, written in the time of the Emperor Justin, says that they are moved by the impulse communicated to them by Angels stationed above the firmament. Whether the stars were animated beings, was a question that Christian antiquity did not decide. Many of the Christian doctors believed they were. Saint Augustin hesitates, Saint Jerome doubts, if Solomon did not assign souls to the Stars. Saint Ambrose does not doubt they have souls; and Pamphilus says that many of the Church believe they are reasonable beings, while many think otherwise, but that neither one nor the other opinion is heretical.
Thus the Ancient Thought, earnest and sincere, wrought out the idea of a Soul inherent in the Universe and in its several parts. The next step was to separate that Soul from the Universe, and give to it an external and independent existence and personality; still omnipresent, in every inch of space and in every particle of matter, and yet not a part of Nature, but its Cause and its Creator. This is the middle ground between the two doctrines, of Pantheism (or that all is God, and God is in all and is all), on the one side, and Atheism (or that all is nature, and there is no other God), on the other; which doctrines, after all, when reduced to their simplest terms, seem to be the same.
We complacently congratulate ourselves on our recognition of a personal God, as being the conception most suited to human sympathies, and exempt from the mystifications of Pantheism. But the Divinity remains still a mystery, notwithstanding all the devices which symbolism, either from the organic or inorganic creation, can supply; and personification is itself a symbol, liable to misapprehension as much as, if not more so than, any other, since it is apt to degenerate into a mere reflection of our own infirmities; and hence any affirmative idea or conception that we can, in our own minds, picture of the Deity, must needs be infinitely inadequate.
The spirit of the Vedas (or sacred Indian Books, of great antiquity), as understood by their earliest as well as most recent expositors, is decidedly a pantheistic monotheism–one God, and He all in all; the many divinities, numerous as the prayers ad-dressed to them, being resolvable into the titles and attributes of a few, and ultimately into THE ONE. The machinery of personification was understood to have been unconsciously assumed as a mere expedient to supply the deficiencies of language; and the Mimansa justly considered itself as only interpreting the true meaning of the Mantras, when it proclaimed that, in the beginning, “Nothing was but Mind, the Creative Thought of Him which existed alone from the beginning, and breathed without afflation.” The idea suggested in the Mantras is dogmatically asserted and developed in the Upanischadas. The Vedanta philosophy, assuming the mystery of the “ONE IN MANY” as the fundamental article of faith, maintained not only the Divine Unity, but the identity of matter and spirit. The unity which it advocates is that of mind. Mind is the Universal Element, the One God, the Great Soul, Mahaatma. He is the material as well as efficient cause, and the world is a texture of which he is both the web and the weaver. He is the Macrocosmos, the universal organism called Pooroosha, of which Fire, Air, and Sun are only the chief members. His head is light, his eyes the sun and moon, his breath the wind, his voice the opened Vedas. All proceeds from Brahm, like the web from the spider and the grass from the earth.
Yet it is only the impossibility of expressing in language the origination of matter from spirit, which gives to Hindu philosophy the appearance of materialism. Formless Himself, the Deity is present in all forms. His glory is displayed in the Universe as the image of the sun in water, which is, yet is not, the luminary itself. All maternal agency and appearance, the subjective world, are to a great extent phantasms, the notional representations of ignorance. They occupy, however, a middle ground between reality and non-reality; they are unreal, because nothing exists but Brahm; yet in some degree real, inasmuch as they constitute an outward manifestation of him. They are a self-induced hypostasis of the Deity, under which He presents to Himself the whole of animate and inanimate Nature, the actuality of the moment, the diversified appearances which successively invest the one Pantheistic Spirit.
The great aim of reason is to generalize; to discover unity in multiplicity, order in apparent confusion; to separate from the accidental and the transitory, the stable and universal. In the contemplation of Nature, and the vague, but almost intuitive perception of a general uniformity of plan among endless varieties of operation and form, arise those solemn and reverential feelings, which, if accompanied by intellectual activity, may eventually ripen into philosophy.
Consciousness of self and of personal identity is co-existent with our existence. We cannot conceive of mental existence without it. It is not the work of reflection nor of logic, nor the result of observation, experiment, and experience. It is a gift from God, like instinct; and that consciousness of a thinking soul which is really the person that we are, and other than our body, is the best and most solid proof of the soul’s existence. We have the same consciousness of a Power on which we are dependent; which we can define and form an idea or picture of, as little as we can of the soul, and yet which we feel, and therefore know, exists. True and correct ideas of that Power, of the Absolute Existence from which all proceeds, we cannot trace; if by true and correct we mean adequate ideas; for of such we are not, with our limited faculties, capable. And ideas of His nature, so far correct as we are capable of entertaining, can only be attained either by direct inspiration or by the investigations of philosophy.
The idea of the universal preceded the recognition of any system for its explanation. It was felt rather than understood; and it was long before the grand conception on which all philosophy rests received through deliberate investigation that analytical development which might properly entitle it to the name. The sentiment, when first observed by the self-conscious mind, was, says Plato, “a Divine gift, communicated to mankind by some Prometheus, or by those ancients who lived nearer to the gods than our degenerate selves.” The mind deduced from its first experiences the notion of a general Cause or Antecedent, to which it shortly gave a name and personified it. This was the statement of a theorem, obscure in proportion to its generality. It explained all things but itself. It was a true cause, but an incomprehensible one. Ages had to pass before the nature of the theorem could be rightly appreciated, and before men, acknowledging the First Cause to be an object of faith rather than science, were contented to confine their researches to those nearer relations of existence and succession, which are really within the reach of their faculties. At first, and for a long time, the intellect deserted the real for a hastily-formed ideal world, and the imagination usurped the place of reason, in attempting to put a construction on the most general and inadequate of conceptions, by transmuting its symbols into realities, and by substantializing it under a thousand arbitrary forms.
In poetry, the idea of Divine unity became, as in Nature, obscured by a multifarious symbolism; and the notionalities of transcendental philosophy reposed on views of nature scarcely more profound than those of the earliest symbolists. Yet the idea of unity was rather obscured than extinguished; and Xenophanes appeared as an enemy of Homer, only because he more emphatically insisted on the monotheistic element, which, in poetry, has been comparatively overlooked. The first philosophy reasserted the unity which poetry had lost; but being unequal to investigate its nature, it again resigned it to the world of approximate sensations, and became bewildered in materialism, considering the conceptional whole or First Element as some refinement of matter, unchangeable in its essence, though subject to mutations of quality and form in an eternal succession of seeming decay and regeneration; comparing it to water, air, or fire, as each endeavored to refine on the doctrine of his predecessor, or was influenced by a different class of theological traditions.
In the philosophical systems, the Divine Activity, divided by the poets and by popular belief among a race of personifications, in whom the idea of descent replaced that of cause, or of pantheistic evolution, was restored, without subdivision or reservation, to nature as a whole; at first as a mechanical force or life; afterward as an all-pervading soul or inherent thought; and lastly as an external directing Intelligence.
The Ionian revival of pantheism was materialistic. The Moving Force was inseparable from a material element, a subtle yet visible ingredient. Under the form of air or fire, the principle of life was associated with the most obvious material machinery of nature. Everything, it was said, is alive and full of gods. The wonders of the volcano, the magnet, the ebb and flow of the tide, were vital indications, the breathing or moving of the Great World-Animal. The imperceptible. ether of Anaximenes had no positive quality beyond the atmospheric air with which it was easily confused: and even the “Infinite” of Anaximander, though free of the conditions of quality or quantity, was only an ideal chaos, relieved of its coarseness by negations. It was the illimitable storehouse or Pleroma, out of which is evolved the endless circle of phenomenal change. A moving Force was recognized in, but not clearly distinguished from, the material. Space, Time, Figure, and Number, and other common forms or properties, which exist only as attributes, were treated as substances, or at least as making a substantial connection between the objects to which they belong: and all the conditions of material existence were supposed to have been evolved out of the Pythagorean Monad.
The Eleatic philosophers treated conceptions not only as entities, but as the only entities, alone possessing the stability and certainty and reality vainly sought among phenomena. The only reality was Thought. “All real existence,” they said, “is mental existence; non-existence, being inconceivable, is therefore impossible; existence fills up the whole range of thought, and is inseparable from its exercise; thought and its object are one.”
Xenophanes used ambiguous language, applicable to the material as well as to the mental, and exclusively appropriate to neither. In other words, he availed himself of material imagery to illustrate an indefinite meaning. In announcing the universal being, he appealed to the heavens as the visible manifestation, calling it spherical, a term borrowed from the material world. He said that God was neither moved nor unmoved, limited nor unlimited. He did not even attempt to express clearly what cannot be conceived clearly; admitting, says Simplicius, that such speculations were above physics. Parmenides employed similar expedients, comparing his metaphysical Deity to a sphere, or to heat, an aggregate or a continuity, and so involuntarily withdrawing its nominal attributes.
The Atomic school, dividing the All into Matter and Force, deemed matter unchangeable in its ultimate constitution, though infinitely variable in its resultant forms. They made all variety proceed from the varied combinations of atoms; but they required no mover nor director of the atoms external to themselves; no universal Reason; but a Mechanical Eternal Necessity, like that of the Poets. Still it is doubtful whether there ever was a time when reason could be said to be entirely asleep, a stranger to its own existence, notwithstanding this apparent materialism. The earliest contemplation of the external world, which brings it into an imagined association with ourselves, assigns, either to its whole or its parts, the sensation and volition which belong to our own souls.
Anaxagoras admitted the existence of ultimate elementary particles, as Empedocles did, from the combinations whereof all material phenomena resulted. But he asserted the Moving Force to be Mind; and yet, though he clearly saw the impossibility of advancing by illustration or definition beyond a reasonable faith, or a simple negation of materiality, yet he could not wholly desist from the endeavor to illustrate the nature of this non-matter or mind, by symbols drawn from those physical considerations which decided him in placing it in a separate category. Whether as human reason, or as the regulating Principle in nature, he held it different from all other things in character and effect, and that therefore it must necessarily differ in its essential constitution. It was neither Matter, nor a Force conjoined with matter, or homogeneous with it, but independent and generically distinct, especially in this, that, being the source of all motion, separation, and cognition, it is something entirely unique, pure, and unmixed; and so, being unhindered by any interfering influence limiting its independence of individual action, it has Supreme Empire over all things, over the vortex of worlds as well as over all that live in them. It is most penetrating and powerful, mixing with other things, though no other thing mixes with it; exercises universal control and cognition, and includes the Necessity of the Poets, as well as the independent power of thought which we exercise within ourselves. In short, it is the self-conscious power of thought extended to the Universe, and exalted into the Supreme External Mind which sees, knows, and directs all things.
Thus Pantheism and Materialism were both avoided; and matter, though as infinitely varied as the senses represent it, was held in a bond of unity transferred to a ruling power apart from it. That Power could not be Prime Mover, if it were itself moved; nor All-Governing, if not apart from the things it governs. If the arranging Principle were inherent in matter, it would have been impossible to account for the existence of a chaos: if something external, then the old Ionian doctrine of a “beginning” became more easily conceivable, as being the epoch at which the Arranging Intelligence commenced its operations.
But this grand idea of an all-governing independent mind involved difficulties which proved insuperable; because it gave to matter, in the form of chaos, an independent and eternal self-existence, and so introduced a dualism of mind and matter. In the Mind or Intelligence, Anaxagoras included not only life and motion, but the moral principles of the noble and good; and probably used the term on account of the popular misapplication of the word “God,” and as being less liable to misconstruction, and more specifically marking his idea. His “Intelligence” principle remained practically liable to many of the same defects as the “Necessity” of the poets. It was the presentiment of a great idea, which it was for the time impossible to explain or follow out.
It was not yet intelligible, nor was even the road opened through which it might be approached.
Mind cannot advance in metaphysics beyond self-deification. In attempting to go further, it only enacts the apotheosis of its own subtle conceptions, and so sinks below the simpler ground already taken. The realities which Plato could not recognize in phenomena, he discovered within his own mind, and as unhesitatingly as the old Theosophists installed its creations among the gods. He, like most philosophers after Anaxagoras, made the Supreme Being to be Intelligence; but in other respects left His nature undefined, or rather indefinite through the variety of definitions, a conception vaguely floating between Theism and Pan-theism. Though deprecating the demoralizing tendencies of poetry, he was too wise to attempt to replace them by other representations of a positive kind. He justly says, that spiritual things can be made intelligible only through figures; and the forms of allegorical expression which, in a rude age, had been adopted unconsciously, were designedly chosen by the philosopher as the most appropriate vehicles for theological ideas.
As the devices of symbolism were gradually stripped away, in order, if possible, to reach the fundamental conception, the religious feeling habitually connected with it seemed to evaporate under the process. And yet the advocates of Monotheism, Xenophanes and Heraclitus, declaimed only against the making of gods in human form. They did not attempt to strip nature of its divinity, but rather to recall religious contemplation from an exploded symbolism to a purer one. They continued the veneration which, in the background of poetry, has been maintained for Sun and Stars, the Fire or Ether. Socrates prostrated himself before the rising luminary; and the eternal spheres, which seem to have shared the religious homage of Xenophanes, retained a secondary and qualified Divinity in the Schools of the Peripatetics and Stoics.
The unseen being or beings revealed only to the Intellect became the theme of philosophy; and their more ancient symbols, if not openly discredited, were passed over with evasive generality, as beings respecting whose problematical existence we must be “content with what has been reported by those ancients, who, assuming to be their descendants, must therefore be supposed to have been well acquainted with their own ancestors and family connections.” And the Theism of Anaxagoras was still more decidedly subversive, not only of Mythology, but of the whole religion of outward nature; it being an appeal from the world without, to the consciousness of spiritual dignity within man.
In the doctrines of Aristotle, the world moves on uninterruptedly, always changing, yet ever the same, like Time, the Eternal Now, knowing neither repose nor death. There is a principle which makes good the failure of identity, by multiplying resemblances; the destruction of the individual by an eternal renewal of the form in which matter is manifested. This regular eternal movement implies an Eternal Mover; not an inert Eternity, such as the Platonic Eidos, but one always acting, His essence being to act, for otherwise he might never have acted, and the existence of the world would be an accident; for what should have, in that case, decided Him to act, after long inactivity? Nor can He be partly in act and partly potential, that is, quiescent and undetermined to act or not to act, for even in that case motion would not be eternal, but contingent and precarious. He is therefore wholly in act, a pure, untiring activity, and for the sane reasons wholly immaterial. Thus Aristotle avoided the idea that God was inactive and self-contemplative for an eternity, and then for some unknown reason, or by some unknown motive, commenced to act outwardly and produce; but he incurred the opposite hazard, of making the result of His action, matter and the Universe, be co-existent with Himself; or, in other words, of denying that there was any time when His outward action commenced.
The First Cause, he said, unmoved, moves all. Act was first, and the Universe has existed forever; one persistent cause directing its continuity. The unity of the First Mover follows from His immateriality. If He were not Himself unmoved, the series of motions and causes of motion would be infinite. Unmoved, therefore, and unchangeable Himself, all movement, even that in space, is caused by Him: He is necessary: He cannot be otherwise than as He is; and it is only through the necessity of His being that we can account for those necessary eternal relations which make a science of Being possible. Thus Aristotle leaned to a seemingly personal God; not a Being of parts and passions, like the God of the Hebrews, or that of the mass even of educated men in our own day, but a Substantial Head of all the categories of being, an Individuality of Intelligence, the dogma of Anaxagoras revived out of a more elaborate and profound analysis of Nature; something like that living unambiguous Principle which the old poets, in advance of the materialistic cosmogonists from Night and Chaos, had discovered in Ouranos or Zeus. Soon, however, the vision of personality is withdrawn, and we reach that culminating point of thought where the real blends with the ideal; where moral action and objective thought (that is, thought exercised as to anything outside of itself), as well as the material body, are excluded; and where the divine action in the world retains its veil of impenetrable mystery, and to the utmost ingenuity of research presents but a contradiction. At this extreme, the series of efficient causes resolves itself into the Final Cause. That which moves, itself unmoved, can only be the immobility of Thought or Form. God is both formal, efficient, and final cause; the One Form comprising all forms, the one good including all good, the goal of the longing of the University, moving the world as the object of love or rational desire moves the individual. He is the internal or self-realized Final Cause, having no end beyond Himself. He is no moral agent; for if He were, He would be but an instrument for producing something still higher and greater. One sort of act only, activity of mind or thought, can be assigned to Him who is at once all act yet all repose. What we call our highest pleasure, which distinguishes wakefulness and sensation, and which gives a reflected charm to hope and memory, is with Him perpetual. His existence is unbroken enjoyment of that which is most excellent but only temporary with us. The divine quality of active and yet tranquil self-contemplation characterizing intelligence, is pre-eminently possessed by the divine mind; His thought, which is His existence, being, unlike ours, unconditional and wholly act. If He can receive any gratification or enjoyment from that which exists beyond Himself, He can also be displeased and pained with it, and then He would be an imperfect being. To suppose pleasure experienced by Him from anything outward, supposes an insufficient prior enjoyment and happiness, and a sort of dependency. Man’s Good is beyond himself; not so God’s. The eternal act which produces the world’s life is the eternal desire of good. The object of the Absolute Thought is the Absolute Good. Nature is all movement, and Thought all repose. In contemplating that absolute good, the Finality can contemplate only itself; and thus, all material interference being excluded, the distinction of subject and object vanishes in complete identification, and the Divine Thought is “the thinking of thought.” The energy of mind is life, and God is that energy in its purity and perfection. He is therefore life itself, eternal and perfect; and this sums up all that is meant by the term “God.” And yet, after all this transcendentalism, the very essence of thought consists in its mobility and power of transference from object to object; and we can conceive of no thought, without an object beyond itself, about which to think, or of any activity in mere self-contemplation, without out-ward act, movement, or manifestation.
Plato endeavors to show how the Divine Principle of Good becomes realized in Nature: Aristotle’s system is a vast analogical induction to prove how all Nature tends toward a final good. Plato considered Soul as a principle of movement, and made his Deity realize, that is, turn into realities, his ideas as a free, intelligent Force. Aristotle, for whom Soul is the motionless centre from which motion radiates, and to which it converges, conceives a correspondingly unmoved God. The Deity of Plato creates, superintends, and rejoices in the universal joy of, His creatures. That of Aristotle is the perfection of man’s intellectual activity extended to the Universe. When he makes the Deity to be an eternal act of self-contemplation, the world is not excluded from His cognizance, for He contemplates it within Himself. Apart from and beyond the world, He yet mysteriously intermingles with it. He is universal as well as individual; His agency is necessary and general, yet also makes the real and the good of the particular.
When Plato had given to the unformed world the animal life of the Ionians, and added to that the Anaxagorean Intelligence, overruling the wild principle of Necessity; and when to Intelligence was added Beneficence; and the dread Wardours, Force and Strength, were made subordinate to Mildness and Goodness, it seemed as if a further advance were impossible, and that the Deny could not be more than The Wise and The Good.
But the contemplation of the Good implies that of its opposite, Evil. When God is held to be “The Good,” it is not because Evil is unknown, but because it is designedly excluded from His attributes. But if Evil be a separate and independent existence, how would it fare with His prerogative of Unity and Supremacy? To meet this dilemma, it remained only to fall back on something more or less akin to the vagueness of antiquity; to make a virtual confession of ignorance, to deny the ultimate reality of evil, like Plato and Aristotle, or, with Speusippus, the eternity of its antithetical existence, to surmise that it is only one of those notions which are indeed provisionally indispensable in a condition of finite knowledge, but of which so many have been already discredited by the advance of philosophy; to revert, in short, to the original conception of “The Absolute,” or of a single Being, in whom all mysteries are explained, and before whom the disturbing principle is reduced to a mere turbid spot on the ocean of Eternity, which to the eye of faith may be said no longer to exist.
But the absolute is nearly allied to the non-existent. Matter and evil obtruded themselves too constantly and convincingly to he confuted or cancelled by subtleties of Logic. It is in vain to attempt to merge the world in God, while the world of experience exhibits contrariety, imperfection, and mutability, instead of the immutability of its source. Philosophy was but another name for uncertainty; and after the mind had successively deified Nature and its own conceptions, without any practical result but toilsome occupation; when the reality it sought, without or within, seemed ever to elude its grasp, the intellect, baffled in its higher flights, sought advantage and repose in aiming at truth of a lower but more applicable kind.
The Deity of Plato is a Being proportioned to human sympathies; the Father of the World, as well as its Creator; the author of good only, not of evil. “Envy,” he says, “is far removed from celestial beings, and man, if willing, and braced for the effort, is permitted to aspire to a communion with the solemn troops and sweet societies of Heaven. God is the Idea or Essence of Goodness, the Good itself [τὸ ἀγαθόν]; in goodness, He created the World, and gave to it the greatest perfection of which it was susceptible; making it, as far as possible, an image of Himself. The sublime type of all excellence is an object not only of veneration but love.” The Sages of old had already intimated in enigmas that God is the Author of Good; that like the Sun in Heaven, or Æsculapius on earth, He is “Healer,” “Saviour,” and “Redeemer,” the destroyer and averter of Evil, ever healing the mischiefs inflicted by Herè, the wanton or irrational power of nature.
Plato only asserts with more distinctness the dogma of antiquity when he recognizes LOVE as the highest and most beneficent of gods, who gives to nature the invigorating energy restored by the art of medicine to the body; since Love is emphatically the physician of the Universe, the Æsculapius to whom Socrates wished to sacrifice in the hour of his death.
A figurative idea, adopted from familiar imagery, gave that endearing aspect to the divine connection with the Universe which had commanded the earliest assent of the sentiments, until, rising in refinement with the progress of mental cultivation, it ultimately established itself as firmly in the deliberate approbation of the understanding, as it had ever responded to the sympathies. Even the rude Scythians, Bithynians, and Scandinavians, called God their “Father”; all nations traced their ancestry more or less directly to Heaven. The Hyperborean Olen, one of the oldest symbols of the religious antiquity of Greece, made Love the First-born of Nature. Who will venture to pronounce at what time God was first worthily and truly honored, or when man first began to feel aright the mute eloquence of nature? In the obscure physics of the mystical Theologers who preceded Greek philosophy, Love was the Great First Cause and Parent of the Universe. “Zeus,” says Proclus, “when entering upon the work of creation, changed Himself into the form of Love: and He brought forward Aphroditè, the principle of Unity and Universal Harmony, to display her light to all. In the depths of His mysterious being, He contains the principle of love within Himself; in Him creative wisdom and blessed love are united.”
“From the first
Of Days on these his love divine be fixed,
His admiration; till in time complete
What he admired and loved, his vital smile
Unfolded into being.”
The speculators of the venerable East, who had conceived the idea of an Eternal Being superior to all affection and change, in his own sufficiency enjoying a plenitude of serene and independent bliss, were led to inquire into the apparently inconsistent fact of the creation of the world. Why, they asked, did He, who required nothing external to Himself to complete His already-existing Perfection, come forth out of His unrevealed and perfect existence, and become incorporated in the vicissitudes of nature? The solution of the difficulty was Love. The Great Being beheld the beauty of His own conception, which dwelt with Him alone from the beginning, Maia, or Nature’s loveliness, at once the germ of passion and the source of worlds. Love became the universal parent, when the Deity, before remote and inscrutable, became ideally separated into the loving and the beloved.
And here again recurs the ancient difficulty; that, at whatever early period this creation occurred, an eternity had previously elapsed, during which God, dwelling alone in His unimpeached unity, had no object for His love; and that the very word implies to us an existing object toward which the love is directed; so that we cannot conceive of love in the absence of any object to be loved; and therefore we again return to this point, that if love is of God’s essence, and He is unchangeable, the same necessity of His nature, supposed to have caused creation, must ever have made His existence without an object to love impossible: and so that the Universe must have been co-existent with Himself.
The questions how and why evil exists in the Universe: how its existence is to be reconciled with the admitted wisdom and goodness and omnipotence of God; and how far man is a free agent, or controlled by an inexorable necessity or destiny, have two sides. On one, they are questions as to the qualities and attributes of Got; for we must infer His moral nature from His mode of governing the Universe, and they ever enter into any consideration of His intellectual nature: and on the other, they directly concern the moral responsibility, and therefore the destiny, of man. All-important, therefore, in both points of view, they have been much discussed in all ages of the world, and have no doubt urged men, more than all other questions have, to endeavor to fathom the profound mysteries of the Nature and the mode of Existence and action of an incomprehensible God.
And, with these, still another question also presents itself: whether the Deity governs the Universe by fixed and unalterable laws, or by special Providences and interferences, so that He may be induced to change His course and the results of human or material action, by prayer and supplication.
God alone is all-powerful; but the human soul has in all ages asserted its claim to be considered as part of the Divine. “The purity of the spirit,” says Van Helmont, “is shown through energy and efficaciousness of will. God, by the agency of an infinite will, created the Universe, and the same sort of power in an inferior degree, limited more or less by external hindrances, exists in all spiritual beings.” The higher we ascend in antiquity, the more does prayer take the form of incantation; and that form it still in a great degree retains, since the rites of public worship are generally considered not merely as an expression of trust or reverence, as real spiritual acts, the effect of which is looked for only within the mind of the worshipper, but as acts from which some direct outward result is anticipated, the attainment of some desired object, of health or wealth, of supernatural gifts for body or soul, of exemption from danger, or vengeance upon enemies. Prayer was able to change the purposes of Heaven, and to make the Devs tremble under the abyss. It exercised a compulsory influence over the gods. It promoted the magnetic sympathy of spirit with spirit; and the Hindū and Persian liturgies, addressed not only to the Deity Himself, but to His diversified manifestations, were considered wholesome and necessary iterations of the living or creative Word which at first effectuated the divine will, and which from instant to instant supports the universal frame by its eternal repetition.
In the narrative of the Fall we have the Hebrew mode of explaining the great moral mystery, the origin of evil and the apparent estrangement from Heaven; and a similar idea, variously modified, obtained in all the ancient creeds. Everywhere, man had at the beginning been innocent and happy, and had lapsed, by temptation and his own weakness, from his first estate. Thus was accounted for the presumed connection of increase of knowledge with increase of misery, and, in particular, the great penalty of death was reconciled with Divine Justice. Subordinate to these greater points were the questions, Why is the earth covered with thorns and weeds? whence the origin of clothing, of sexual shame and passion? whence the infliction of labor, and how to justify the degraded condition of woman in the East, or account for the loathing so generally felt toward the Serpent Tribe?
The hypothesis of a fall, required under some of its modifications in all systems, to account for the apparent imperfection in the work of a Perfect Being, was, in Eastern philosophy, the unavoidable accompaniment and condition of limited or individual existence; since the Soul, considered as a fragment of the Universal Mind, might be said to have lapsed from its pre-eminence when parted from its source, and ceasing to form part of integral perfection. The theory of its reunion was correspondent to the assumed cause of its degradation. To reach its prior condition, its individuality must cease; it must be emancipated by re-absorption into the Infinite, the consummation of all things in God, to be promoted by human effort in spiritual meditation or self-mortification, and completed in the magical transformation of death.
And as man had fallen, so it was held that the Angels of Evil had, from their first estate, to which, like men, they were, in God’s good time, to be restored, and the reign of evil was then to cease forever. To this great result all the Ancient Theologies point; and thus they all endeavored to reconcile the existence of Sin and Evil with the perfect and undeniable wisdom and beneficence of God.
With man’s exercise of thought are inseparably connected freedom and responsibility. Man assumes his proper rank as a moral agent, when with a sense of the limitations of his nature arise the consciousness of freedom, and of the obligations accompanying its exercise, the sense of duty and of the capacity to perform it. To suppose that man ever imagined himself not to be a free agent until he had argued himself into that belief, would be to suppose that he was in that below the brutes; for he, like them, is conscious of his freedom to act. Experience alone teaches him that this freedom of action is limited and controlled; and when what is outward to him restrains and limits this freedom of action, he instinctively rebels against it as a wrong. The rule of duty and the materials of experience are derived from an acquaintance with the conditions of the external world, in which the faculties are exerted; and thus the problem of man involves those of Nature and God. Our freedom, we learn by experience, is determined by an agency external to us; our happiness is intimately dependent on the relations of the outward World, and on the moral character of its Ruler.
Then at once arises this problem: The God of Nature must be One, and His character cannot be suspected to be other than good. Whence, then, came the evil, the consciousness of which must invariably have preceded or accompanied man’s moral development? On this subject human opinion has ebbed and flowed between two contradictory extremes, one of which seems inconsistent with God’s Omnipotence, and the other with His beneficence. If God, it was said, is perfectly wise and good, evil must arise from some independent and hostile principle: if, on the other hand, all agencies are subordinate to One, it is difficult, if evil does indeed exist, if there is any such thing as Evil, to avoid the impiety of making God the Author of it.
The recognition of a moral and physical dualism in nature was adverse to the doctrine of Divine Unity. Many of the Ancients thought it absurd to imagine one Supreme Being, like Homer’s Jove, distributing good and evil out of two urns. They therefore substituted, as we have seen, the doctrine of two distinct and eternal principles; some making the cause of evil to be the inherent imperfection of matter and the flesh, without explaining how God was not the cause of that; while others personified the required agency, and fancifully invented an Evil Principle, the question of whose origin indeed involved all the difficulty of the original problem, but whose existence, if once taken for granted, was sufficient as a popular solution of the mystery; the difficulty being supposed no longer to exist when pushed a step further off, as the difficulty of conceiving the world upheld by an elephant was supposed to be got rid of when it was said that the elephant was supported by a tortoise.
The simpler, and probably the older, notion, treated the one only God as the Author of all things. “I form the light,” says Jehovah, “and create darkness; I cause prosperity and create evil; I, the Lord, do all these things.” “All mankind,” says Maximus Tyrius, “are agreed that there exists one only Universal King and Father, and that the many gods are His Children.” There is nothing improbable in the supposition that the primitive idea was that there was but one God. A vague sense of Nature’s Unity, blended with a dim perception of an all-pervading Spiritual Essence, has been remarked among the earliest manifestations of the Human Mind. Everywhere it was the dim remembrance, uncertain and indefinite, of the original truth taught by God to the first men.
The Deity of the Old Testament is everywhere represented as the direct author of Evil, commissioning evil and lying spirits to men, hardening the heart of Pharaoh, and visiting the iniquity of the individual sinner on the whole people. The rude conception of sternness predominating over mercy in the Deity, can alone account for the human sacrifices, purposed, if not executed, by Abraham and Jephthah. It has not been uncommon, in any age or country of the world, for men to recognize the existence of one God, without forming any becoming estimate of His dignity. The causes of both good and ill are referred to a mysterious centre, to which each assigns such attributes as correspond with his own intellect and advance in civilization. Hence the assignment to the Deity of the feelings of envy and jealousy. Hence the provocation given by the healing skill of Æsculapius and the humane theft of fire by Prometheus. The very spirit of Nature, personified in Orpheus, Tantalus, or Phineus was supposed to have been killed, confined, or blinded, for having too freely divulged the Divine Mysteries to mankind. This Divine Envy still exists in a modified form, and varies according to circumstances. In Hesiod it appears in the lowest type of human malignity. In the God of Moses, it is jealousy of the infringement of the autocratic power, the check to political treason; and even the penalties denounced for worshipping other gods often seem dictated rather by a jealous regard for His own greatness in Deity, than by the immorality and degraded nature of the worship itself. In Herodotus and other writers it assumes a more philosophical shape, as a strict adherence to a moral equilibrium in the government of the world, in the punishment of pride, arrogance, and insolent pretension.
God acts providentially in Nature by regular and universal laws, by constant modes of operation; and so takes care of material things without violating their constitution, acting always according to the nature of the things which He has made. It is a fact of observation that, in the material and unconscious world, He works by its materiality and unconsciousness, not against them; in the animal world, by its animality and partial consciousness, not against them. So in the providential government of the world, He acts by regular and universal laws, and constant modes of operation; and so takes care of human things without violating their constitution, acting always according to the human nature of man, not against if, working in the human world by means of man’s consciousness and partial freedom, not against them.
God acts by general laws for general purposes. The attraction of gravitation is a good thing, for it keeps the world together; and if the tower of Siloam, thereby falling to the ground, slays eighteen men of Jerusalem, that number is too small to think of, considering the myriad millions who are upheld by the same law. It could not well be repealed for their sake, and to hold up that tower; nor could it remain in force, and the tower stand.
It is difficult to conceive of a Perfect Will without confounding it with something like mechanism; since language has no name for that combination of the Inexorable with the Moral, which the old poets personified separately in Ananke or Eimarmene and Zeus. How combine understandingly the Perfect Freedom of the Supreme and All-Sovereign Will of God with the inflexible necessity, as part of His Essence, that He should and must continue to be, in all His great attributes, of justice and mercy for example, what He is now and always has been, and with the impossibility of His changing His nature and becoming unjust, merciless, cruel, fickle, or of His repealing the great moral laws which make crime wrong and the practice of virtue right?
For all that we familiarly know of Free-Will is that capricious exercise of it which we experience in ourselves and other men; and therefore the notion of Supreme Will, still guided by Infallible Law, even if that law be self-imposed, is always in danger of being either stripped of the essential quality of Freedom, or degraded under the ill-name of Necessity to something of even less moral and intellectual dignity than the fluctuating course of human operations.
It is not until we elevate the idea of law above that of partiality or tyranny, that we discover that the self-imposed limitations of the Supreme Cause, constituting an array of certain alternatives, regulating moral choice, are the very sources and safeguards of human freedom; and the doubt recurs, whether we do not set a law above God Himself; or whether laws self-imposed may not be self-repealed: and if not, what power prevents it.
The Zeus of Homer, like that of Hesiod, is an array of antitheses, combining strength with weakness, wisdom with folly, universal parentage with narrow family limitation, omnipotent control over events with submission to a superior destiny;-DESTINY, a name by means of which the theological problem was cast back into the original obscurity out of which the powers of the human mind have proved themselves as incapable of rescuing it, as the efforts of a fly caught in a spider’s web to do more than increase its entanglement.
The oldest notion of Deity was rather indefinite than repulsive. The positive degradation was of later growth. The God of nature reflects the changeful character of the seasons, varying from dark to bright. Alternately angry and serene, and lavishing abundance which she again withdraws, nature seems inexplicably capricious, and though capable of responding to the highest requirements of the moral sentiment through a general comprehension of her mysteries, more liable by a partial or hasty view to become darkened into a Siva, a Saturn, or a Mexitli, a patron of fierce orgies or blood-stained altars. All the older poetical personifications exhibit traces of this ambiguity. They are neither wholly immoral nor purely beneficent.
No people have ever deliberately made their Deity a malevolent or guilty Being. The simple piety which ascribed the origin of all things to God, took all in good part, trusting and hoping all things. The Supreme Ruler was at first looked up to with unquestioning reverence. No startling discords or contradictions had yet raised a doubt as to His beneficence, or made men dissatisfied with His government. Fear might cause anxiety, but could not banish hope, still less inspire aversion. It was only later, when abstract notions began to assume the semblance of realities, and when new or more distinct ideas suggested new words for their expression, that it became necessary to fix a definite barrier between Evil and Good.
To account for moral evil, it became necessary to devise some new expedient suited both to the piety and self-complacency of the inventor, such as the perversity of woman, or an agent distinct from God, a Typhon or Ahriman, obtained either by dividing the Gods into two classes, or by dethroning the Ancient Divinity, and changing him into a Dev or Dæmon. Through a similar want, the Orientals devised the inherent corruption of the fleshy and material; the Hebrew transferred to Satan everything illegal and immoral; and the Greek reflection, occasionally adopting the older and truer view, retorted upon man the obloquy cast on these creatures of his imagination, and showed how he has to thank himself alone for his calamities, while his good things are the voluntary gifts, not the plunder of Heaven. Homer had already made Zeus exclaim, in the Assembly of Olympus, “Grievous it is to hear these mortals accuse the Gods; they pretend that evils come from us; but they themselves occasion them gratuitously by their own wanton folly.” “It is the fault of man,” said Solon; in reference to the social evils of his day, “not of God, that destruction comes;” and Euripides, after a formal discussion of the origin of evil, comes to the conclusion that men act wrongly, not from want of natural good sense and feeling, but because knowing what is good, they yet for various reasons neglect to practise it.
And at last reaching the highest truth, Pindar, Hesiod, Æschylus, Æsop, and Horace said, “All virtue is a struggle; life is not a scene of repose, but of energetic action. Suffering is but another name for the teaching of experience, appointed by Zeus himself, the giver of all understanding, to be the parent of instruction, the schoolmaster of life. He indeed put an end to the golden age; he gave venom to serpents and predacity to wolves; he shook the honey from the leaf, and stopped the flow of wine in the rivulets; he concealed the element of fire, and made the means of life scanty and precarious. But in all this his object was beneficent; it was not to destroy life, but to improve it. It was a blessing to man, not a curse, to be sentenced to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow; for nothing great or excellent is attainable without exertion; safe and easy virtues are prized neither by gods nor men; and the parsimoniousness of nature is justified by its powerful effect in rousing the dormant faculties, and forcing on mankind the invention of useful arts by means of meditation and thought.”
Ancient religious reformers pronounced the worship of “idols” to be the root of all evil; and there have been many iconoclasts in different ages of the world. The maxim still holds good; for the worship of idols, that is, of fanciful conceits, if not the source of all evil, is still the cause of much; and it prevails as extensively now as it ever did. Men are ever engaged in worshipping the picturesque fancies of their own imaginations.
Human wisdom must always be limited and incorrect; and even right opinion is only a something intermediate between ignorance and knowledge. The normal condition of man is that of progress. Philosophy is a kind of journey, ever learning, yet never arriving at the ideal perfection of truth. A Mason should, like the wise Socrates, assume the modest title of a “lover of wisdom”; for he must ever long after something more excellent than he possesses, something still beyond his reach, which he desires to make eternally his own.
Thus the philosophic sentiment came to be associated with the poetical and the religious, under the comprehensive name of Love. Before the birth of Philosophy, Love had received but scanty and inadequate homage. This mightiest and most ancient of gods, coeval with the existence of religion and of the world, had been indeed unconsciously felt, but had neither been worthily honored nor directly celebrated in hymn or pæn. In the old days of ignorance it could scarcely have been recognized. In order that it might exercise its proper influence over religion and philosophy, it was necessary that the God of Nature should cease to be a God of terrors, a personification of mere Power or arbitrary Will, a pure and stern Intelligence, an inflictor of evil, and an unrelenting Judge. The philosophy of Plato, in which this charge became forever established, was emphatically a mediation of Love. With him, the inspiration of Love first kindled the light of arts and imparted them to mankind; and not only the arts of mere existence, but the heavenly art of wisdom, which supports the Universe. It inspires high and generous deeds and noble self-devotion. Without it, neither State nor individual could do anything beautiful or great. Love is our best pilot, confederate, supporter, and saviour; the ornament and governor of all things human and divine; and he with divine harmony forever soothes the minds of men and gods.
Man is capable of a higher Love, which, marrying mind with mind and with the Universe, brings forth all that is noblest in his faculties, and lifts him beyond himself. This higher love is neither mortal nor immortal, but a power intermediate between the human and the Divine, filling up the mighty interval, and binding the Universe together. He is chief of those celestial emissaries who carry to the gods the prayers of men, and bring down to men the gifts of the gods. “He is forever poor, and far from being beautiful as mankind imagine, for he is squalid and withered; he flies low along the ground, is homeless and unsandalled; sleeping without covering before the doors and in the unsheltered streets, and possessing so far his mother’s nature as being ever the companion of want. Yet, sharing also that of his father, he is forever scheming to obtain things good and beautiful; he is fearless, vehement, and strong; always devising some new contrivance; strictly cautious and full of inventive. resource; a philosopher through his whole existence, a powerful enchanter, and a subtle sophist.”
The ideal consummation of Platonic science is the arrival at the contemplation of that of which earth exhibits no express image or adequate similitude, the Supreme Prototype of all beauty, pure and uncontaminated with human intermixture of flesh or color, the Divine Original itself. To one so qualified is given the prerogative of bringing forth not mere images and shadows of virtue, but virtue itself, as having been conversant not with shadows, but with the truth; and having so brought forth and nurtured a progeny of virtue, he becomes the friend of God, and, so far as such a privilege can belong to any human being, immortal.
Socrates believed, like Heraclitus, in a Universal Reason pervading all things and all minds, and consequently revealing itself in ideas. He therefore sought truth in general opinion, and perceived in the communication of mind with mind one of the greatest prerogatives of wisdom and the most powerful means of advancement. He believed true wisdom to be an attainable idea, and that the moral convictions of the mind, those eternal instincts of temperance, conscientiousness, and justice, implanted in it by the gods, could not deceive, if rightly interpreted.
This metaphysical direction given to philosophy ended in visionary extravagance. Having assumed truth to be discover-able in thought, it proceeded to treat thoughts as truths. It thus became an idolatry of notions, which it considered either as phantoms exhaled from objects, or as portions of the divine pre-existent thought; thus creating a mythology of its own, and escaping from one thraldom only to enslave itself afresh. Theories and notions indiscriminately formed and defended are the false gods or “idols” of philosophy. For the word idolon means image, and a false mind-picture of God is as much an idol as a false wooden image of Him. Fearlessly launching into the problem of universal being, the first philosophy attempted to supply a compendious and decisive solution of every doubt. To do this, it was obliged to make the most sweeping assumptions; and as poetry had already filled the vast void between the human and the divine, by personifying its Deity as man, so philosophy bowed down before the supposed reflection of the divine image in the mind of the inquirer, who, in worshipping his own notions, had unconsciously deified himself. Nature thus was enslaved to common notions, and notions very often to words.
By the clashing of incompatible opinions, philosophy was gradually reduced to the ignominious confession of utter incapacity, and found its check or intellectual fall in skepticism. Xenophanes and Heraclitus mournfully acknowledged the unsatisfactory result of all the struggles of philosophy, in the admission of a universality of doubt; and the memorable effort of Socrates to rally the discomfited champions of truth, ended in a similar confession.
The worship of abstractions continued the error which personified Evil or deified Fortune; and when mystical philosophy resigned its place to mystical religion, it changed not its nature, but only its name. The great task remained unperformed, of reducing the outward world and its principles to the dominion of the intellect, and of reconciling the conception of the supreme unalterable power asserted by reason, with the requisitions of human sympathies.
A general idea of purpose and regularity in nature had been suggested by common appearances to the earliest reflection. The ancients perceived a natural order, a divine legislation, from which human institutions were supposed to be derived, laws emblazoned in Heaven, and thence revealed to earth. But the divine law was little more than an analogical inference from human law, taken in the vulgar sense of arbitrary will or partial covenant. It was surmised rather than discovered, and remained unmoral because unintelligible. It mattered little, under the circumstances, whether the Universe were said to be governed by chance or by reason, since the latter, if misunderstood, was virtually one with the former. “Better far,” said Epicurus, “acquiesce in the fables of tradition, than acknowledge the oppressive necessity of the physicists”; and Menander speaks of God, Chance, and Intelligence as undistinguishable. Law unacknowledged goes under the name of Chance: perceived, but not understood, it becomes Necessity. The wisdom of the Stoic was a dogged submission to the arbitrary behests of one; that of the Epicurean an advantage snatched by more or less dexterous management from the equal tyranny of the other.
Ignorance sees nothing necessary, and is self abandoned to a power tyrannical because defined by no rule, and paradoxical because permitting evil, while itself assumed to be unlimited, all-powerful, and perfectly good. A little knowledge, presuming the identification of the Supreme Cause with the inevitable certainty of perfect reason, but omitting the analysis or interpretation of it, leaves the mind chain-bound in the ascetic fatalism of the Stoic. Free-will, coupled with the universal rule of Chance; or Fatalism and Necessity, coupled with Omniscience and fixed and unalterable Law, these are the alternatives, between which the human mind has eternally vacillated. The Supernaturalists, contemplating a Being acting through impulse, though with superhuman wisdom, and considering the best courtier to be the most favored subject, combines contradictory expedients, inconsistently mixing the assertion of free action with the enervating service of petition; while he admits, in the words of a learned archbishop, that “if the production of the things we ask for depend on antecedent, natural, and necessary causes, our desires will be answered no less by the omission than the offering of prayers, which, therefore, are a vain thing.”
The last stage is that in which the religion of action is made legitimate through comprehension of its proper objects and conditions. Man becomes morally free only when both notions, that of Chance and that of incomprehensible Necessity, are displaced by that of Law. Law, as applied to the Universe, means that universal, providential pre-arrangement, whose conditions can be discerned and discretionally acted on by human intelligence. The sense of freedom arises when the individual independence develops itself according to its own laws, without external collisions or hindrance; that of constraint, where it is thwarted or confined by other Natures, or where, by combination of external forces, the individual force is compelled into a new direction. Moral choice would not exist safely, or even at all, unless it were bounded by conditions determining its preferences. Duty supposes a rule both intelligible and certain, since an uncertain rule would be unintelligible, and if unintelligible, there could be no responsibility. No law that is unknown can be obligatory; and that Roman Emperor was justly execrated, who pretended to promulgate his penal laws, by putting them up at such a height that none could read them.
Man commands results, only by selecting among the contingent the pre-ordained results most suited to his purposes. In regard to absolute or divine morality, meaning the final cause or purpose of those comprehensive laws which often seem harsh to the individual, because inflexibly just and impartial to the universal, speculation must take refuge in faith; the immediate and obvious purpose often bearing so small a proportion to a wider and unknown one, as to be relatively absorbed or lost. The rain that, unseasonable to me, ruins my hopes of an abundant crop, does so because it could not otherwise have blessed and prospered the crops of another kind of a whole neighboring district of country. The obvious purpose of a sudden storm of snow, or an unexpected change of wind, exposed to which I lose my life, bears small proportion to the great results which are to flow from that storm or wind over a whole continent. So always, of the good and ill which at first seemed irreconcilable and capriciously distributed, the one holds its ground, the other diminishes by being explained. In a world of a multitude of individuals, a world of action and exertion, a world affording, by the conflict of interests and the clashing of passions, any scope for the exercise of the manly and generous virtues, even Omnipotence cannot make it, that the comfort and convenience of one man alone shall always be consulted.
Thus the educated mind soon begins to appreciate the moral superiority of a system of law over one of capricious interference; and as the jumble of means and ends is brought into more intelligible perspective, partial or seeming good is cheerfully resigned for the disinterested and universal. Self-restraint is found not to imply self-sacrifice. The true meaning of what appeared to be Necessity is found to be, not arbitrary Power, but Strength and Force enlisted in the service of Intelligence. God having made us men, and placed us in a world of change and eternal renovation, with ample capacity and abundant means for rational enjoyment, we learn that it is folly to repine because we are not angels, inhabiting a world in which change and the clashing of interests and the conflicts of passion are unknown.
The mystery of the world remains, but is sufficiently cleared up to inspire confidence. We are constrained to admit that if every man would but do the best in his power to do, and that which he knows he ought to do, we should need no better world than this. Man, surrounded by necessity, is free, not in a dogged determination of isolated will, because, though inevitably complying with nature’s laws, he is able, proportionately to his knowledge, to modify, in regard to himself, the conditions of their action, and so to preserve an average uniformity between their forces and his own.
Such are some of the conflicting opinions of antiquity; and we have to some extent presented to you a picture of the Ancient Thought. Faithful, as far as it goes, it exhibits to us Man’s Intellect ever struggling to pass beyond the narrow bounds of the circle in which its limited powers and its short vision confine it; and ever we find it travelling round the circle, like one lost in a wood, to meet the same unavoidable and insoluble difficulties. Science with her many instruments, Astronomy, particularly, with her telescope, Physics with the microscope, and Chemistry with its analyses and combinations, have greatly enlarged our ideas of the Deity, by discovering to us the vast extent of the Universe in both directions, its star-systems and its invisible swarms of minutest animal life; by acquainting us with the new and wonderful Force or Substance we call Electricity, apparently a link between Matter and Spirit: and still the Deity only becomes more incomprehensible to us than ever, and we find that in our speculations we but reproduce over and over again the Ancient Thought.
Where, then, amid all these conflicting opinions, is the True Word of a Mason?
My Brother, most of the questions which have thus tortured men’s minds, it is not within the reach and grasp of the Human Intellect to understand; but without understanding, as we have explained to you heretofore, we may and must believe.
The True Word of a Mason is to be found in the concealed and profound meaning of the Ineffable Name of Deity, communicated by God to Moses; and which meaning was long lost by the very precautions taken to conceal it. The true pronunciation of that name was in truth a secret, in which, however, was involved the far more profound secret of its meaning. In that meaning is included all the truth than can be known by us, in regard to the nature of God.
Long known as AL, AL SCHADAI, ALOHAYIM, and ADONAI; as the Chief or Commander of the Heavenly Armies; as the aggregate of the Forces [ALOHAYIM] of Nature; as the Mighty, the Victorious, the Rival of Bal and Osiris; as the Soul of Nature, Nature itself, a God that was but Man personified, a God with human passions, the God of the Heathen with but a mere change of name, He assumes, in His communications to Moses, the name יהוה [IHUH], and says to Him, אהיה אשר אהיה [AHIH ASHR AHIH], I AM WHAT I AM. Let us examine the esoteric or inner meaning of this Ineffable Name.
היה [HIH] is the imperfect tense of the verb To BE, of which יהיה [IHIH] is the present; אהי [AHI–א being the personal pronoun “I” affixed] the first person, by apocope; and, יהי [IHI] the third. The verb has the following forms: . . . Preterite, 3d person, masculine singular, היה [HIH], did exist, was; 3d person corn. plural, היו [HIU] . . . Present, 3d pers. masc. sing. יהיה [IHIH], once יהוא [IHUA], by apocope, אהי, יהי [AHI, IHI] . . Infinitive, היה, היו [HIH, HIU] . . . Imperative, 2d pers. masc. sing. היה [HIH], fem. הוי [HUI] . . . Participle, masc. sing. הוה [HUH], ENS–EXISTING . . EXISTENCE.
The verb is never used, as the mere logical copula or connecting word, is, was, etc., is used with the Greeks, Latins, and ourselves. It always implies existence, actuality. The present form also includes the future sense, . . shall or may be or exist. And הוה and הוא [HUH and HUA] Chaldaic forms of the imperfect tense of the verb, are the same as the Hebrew הוה and היה [HUH and HIH], and mean was, existed, became.
Now הוא and היא [HUA and HIA] are the Personal Pronoun [Masculine and Feminine], HE, SHE. Thus in Gen. iv. 20 we have the phrase, הוא היה [HUA HIH], HE WAS: and in Lev. xxi. 9, את אביה היא [ATH ABIH HIA], HER Father. This feminine pronoun, however, is often written הוא [HUA], and היא [HIA] occurs only eleven times in the Pentateuch. Sometimes the feminine form means IT; but that pronoun is generally in the masculine form.
When either, י, ו, ה,or א, [Yōd, Vav, He, or Aleph] terminates a word, and has no vowel either immediately preceding or following it, it is often rejected; as in גי [GI], for גיא [GIA], a valley,
So הוא־היא [HUA-HIA], He-She, could properly be written הו־הי [HU-HI]; or by transposition of the letters, common with the Talmudists, יה־וה [Iii-UH], which is the Tetragrammaton or Ineffable Name.
In Gen. i. 27, it is said, “So the ALHIM created man in His image: in the image of ALHIM created He him: MALE and FE-MALE created He them.”
Sometimes the word was thus expressed; triangularly:
And we learn that this designation of the Ineffable Name was, among the Hebrews, a symbol of Creation. The mysterious union of God with His creatures was in the letter ה, which they considered to be the Agent of Almighty Power; and to enable the possessor of the Name to work miracles.
The Personal Pronoun הוא [HUA], HE, is often used by itself, to express the Deity. Lee says that in such cases, IHUH, IH, or ALHIM, or some other name of God, is understood; but there is no necessity for that. It means in such cases the Male, Generative, or Creative Principle or Power.
It was a common practice with the Talmudists to conceal secret meanings and sounds of words by transposing the letters.
The reversal of the letters of words was, indeed, anciently common everywhere. Thus from Neitha, the name of an Egyptian Goddess, the Greeks, writing backward, formed Athenè, the name of Minerva. In Arabic we have Nahid, a name of the planet Venus, which, reversed, gives Dihan, Greek, in Persian, Nihad, Nature; which Sir William Jones writes also Nahid. Strabo informs us that the Armenian name of Venus was Anaitis.
Tien, Heaven, in Chinese, reversed, is Neit, or Neith, worshipped at Sais in Egypt. Reverse Neitha, drop the i, and add an e, and we, as before said, Athenè. Mitra was the name of Venus among the ancient Persians. Herodotus, who tells us this, also informs us that her name, among the Scythians, was Artim pasa. Artim is Mitra, reversed. So, by reversing it, the Greeks formed Artemis, Diana.
One of the meanings of Rama, in Sanscrit, is Kama, the Deity of Love. Reverse this, and we have Amar, and by changing a into o, Amor, the Latin word for Love. Probably, as the verb is Amare, the oldest reading was Amar and not Amor. So Dipaka, in Sanscrit, one of the meanings whereof is love, is often written Dipuc. Reverse this, and we have, adding o, the Latin word Cupido.
In Arabic, the radical letters rhm, pronounced rahm, signify the trunk, compassion, mercy; this reversed, we have mhr, in Persic, love and the Sun. In Hebrew we have Lab, the heart; and in Chaldee, Bal, the heart; the radical letters of both being b and l.
The Persic word for head is Sar. Reversed, this becomes Ras in Arabic and Hebrew, Raish in Chaldee, Rash in Samaritan, and Ryas in Ethiopic; all meaning head, chief, etc. In Arabic we have Kid, in the sense of rule, regulation, article of agreement, obligation; which, reversed, becomes, adding e, the Greek dikè justice. In Coptic we have Chlom, a crown. Reversed, we have in Hebrew, Moloch or Malec, a King, or he who wears a crown.
In the Kou-onen, or oldest Chinese writing, by Hieroglyphics, Ge
Bunsen gives the following personal pronouns for he and she:
Thus the Ineffable Name not only embodies the Great Philosophical Idea, that the Deity is the ENS, the TO ON, the Absolute Existence, that of which the Essence is To Exist, the only Substance of Spinoza, the BEING, that never could not have existed, as contradistinguished from that which only becomes, not Nature or the Soul of Nature, but that which created Nature; but also the idea of the Male and Female Principles, in its highest and most profound sense; to wit, that God originally comprehended in Himself all that is: that matter was not co-existent with Him, or independent of Him; that He did not merely fashion and shape a pre-existing chaos into a Universe; but that His Thought manifested itself outwardly in that Universe, which so became, and before was not, except as comprehended in Him: that the Generative Power or Spirit, and Productive Matter, ever among the ancients deemed the Female, originally were in God; and that He Was and Is all that Was, that Is, and that Shall be: in Whom all else lives, moves, and has its being.
This was the great Mystery of the Ineffable Name; and this true arrangement of its letters, and of course its true pronunciation and its meaning, soon became lost to all except the select few to whom it was confided; it being concealed from the common people, because the Deity thus metaphysically named was not that personal and capricious, and as it were tangible God in whom they believed, and who alone was within the reach of their rude capacities.
Diodorus says that the name given by Moses to God was ΙΑΩ. Theodorus says that the Samaritans termed God IABE, but the Jews ΙΑΩ. Philo Byblius gives the form ΙΕΥΩ; and Clemens of Alexandria ΙΑΟΥ. Macrobius says that it was an admitted axiom among the Heathen, that the triliteral ΙΑΩ was the sacred name of the Supreme God. And the Clarian oracle said: “Learn thou that ΙΑΩ is the great God Supreme, that ruleth over all.” The letter Ι signified Unity. Α and Ω are the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet.
Hence the frequent expression: “I am the First, and I am the Last; and besides Me there is no other God. I am Α and Ω, the First and the Last. I am Α and Ω, the Beginning and the Ending, which Is, and Was, and Is to come: the Omnipotent.” For in this we see shadowed forth the same great truth; that God is all in all–the Cause and the Effect–the beginning, or Impulse, or Generative Power: and the Ending, or Result, or that which is produced: that He is in reality all that is, all that ever was, and all that ever will be; in this sense, that nothing besides Himself has existed eternally, and co-eternally with Him, independent of Him, and self-existent, or self-originated.
And thus the meaning of the expression, ALOHAYIM, a plural noun, used, in the account of the Creation with which Genesis commences, with a singular verb, and of the name or title IHUH-ALHIM, used for the first time in the 4th verse of the 2d chapter of the same book, becomes clear. The ALHIM is the aggregate unity of the manifested Creative Forces or Powers of Deity, His Emanations; and IHUH-ALHIM is the ABSOLUTE Existence, or Essence of these Powers and Forces, of which they are Active Manifestations and Emanations.
This was the profound truth hidden in the ancient allegory and covered from the general view with a double veil. This was the esoteric meaning of the generation and production of the Indian, Chaldæan, and Phœnician cosmogonies; and the Active and Passive Powers, of the Male and Female Principles; of Heaven and its Luminaries generating, and the Earth producing; all hiding from vulgar view, as above its comprehension, the doctrine that matter is not eternal, but that God was the only original Existence, the ABSOLUTE, from Whom everything has proceeded, and to Whom all returns: and that all moral law springs not from the relation of things, but from His Wisdom and Essential Justice, as the Omnipotent Legislator. And this Taut WORD is with entire accuracy said to have been lost; because its meaning was lost, even among the Hebrews, although we still find the name (its real meaning unsuspected), in the Hu of the Druids and the FO-Hi of the Chinese.
When we conceive of the Absolute Truth, Beauty, or Good, we cannot stop short at the abstraction of either. We are forced to refer each to some living and substantial Being, in which they have their foundations, some being that is the first and last principle of each.
Moral Truth, like every other universal and necessary truth, cannot remain a mere abstraction. Abstractions are unrealities. In ourselves, moral truth is merely conceived of. There must be somewhere a Being that not only conceives of, but constitutes it. It has this characteristic; that it is not only, to the eyes of our intelligence, an universal and necessary truth, but one obligatory on our will. It is A LAW. We do not establish that law ourselves. It is imposed on us despite ourselves: its principle must be without us. It supposes a legislator. He cannot be the being to whom the law applies; but must be one that possesses in the highest degree all the characteristics of moral truth. The moral law, universal and necessary, necessarily has as its author a necessary being;–composed of justice and charity, its author most be a being possessing the plenitude of both.
As all beautiful and all true things refer themselves, these to a Unity which is absolute TRUTH, and those to a Unity which is absolute BEAUTY, so all the moral principles centre in a single principle, which is THE GOOD. Thus we arrive at the conception of GOOD in itself, the ABSOLUTE Good, superior to all particular duties, and determinate in those duties. This Absolute Good must necessarily be an attribute of the Absolute BEING. There cannot be several Absolute Beings; the one in whom are realized Absolute Truth and Absolute Beauty being different from the one in whom is realized Absolute Good. The Absolute necessarily implies absolute Unity. The True, the Beautiful, and the Good are not three distinct essences: but they are one and the same essence, considered in its fundamental attributes: the different phases which, in our eyes, the Absolute and Infinite Perfection assumes. Manifested in the World of the Finite and Relative, these three attributes separate from each other, and are distinguished by our minds, which can comprehend nothing except by division. But in the Being from Whom they emanate, they are indivisibly united; and this Being, at once triple and one, Who sums up in Himself perfect Beauty, perfect Truth, and the perfect Good, is GOD.
God is necessarily the principle of Moral Truth, and of personal morality. Man is a moral person, that is to say, one endowed with reason and liberty. He is capable of Virtue: and Virtue has with him two principal forms, respect for others and love of others, justice and charity.
The creature can possess no real and essential attribute which the Creator does not possess. The effect can draw its reality and existence only from its cause. The cause contains in itself, at least, what is essential in the effect. The characteristic of the effect is inferiority, short-coming, imperfection. Dependent and derivate, it bears in itself the marks and conditions of dependence; and its imperfection proves the perfection of the cause; or else there would be in the effect something immanent, without a cause.
God is not a logical Being, whose Nature may be explained by deduction, and by means of algebraic equations. When, setting out with a primary attribute, the attributes of God are deduced one from the other, after the manner of the Geometricians and Scholastics, we have nothing but abstractions. We must emerge from this empty dialectic, to arrive at a true and living God. The first notion which we have of God, that of an Infinite Being, is not given us à priori, independently of all experience. It is our consciousness of ourself, as at once a Being and a limited Being, that immediately raises us to the conception of a Being, the principle of our being, and Himself without limits. If the existence that we possess forces us to recur to a cause possessing the same existence in an infinite degree, all the substantial attributes of existence that we possess equally require each an infinite cause. God, then, is no longer the Infinite, Abstract, Indeterminate Being, of which reason and the heart cannot lay hold, but a real Being, determinate like ourselves, a moral person like ourself; and the study of our own souls will conduct us, without resort to hypothesis, to a conception of God, both sublime and having a connection with ourselves.
If man be free, God must be so. It would be strange if, while the creature has that marvellous power of disposing of himself, of choosing and willing freely, the Being that has made him should be subject to a necessary development, the cause of which, though in Himself, is a sort of abstract, mechanical, or metaphysical power, inferior to the personal, voluntary cause which we are, and of which we have the clearest consciousness. God is free because we are: but he is not free as we are. He is at once everything that we are, and nothing that we are. He possesses the same attributes as we, but extended to infinity. He possesses, then, an infinite liberty, united to an infinite intelligence; and as His intelligence is infallible, exempt from the uncertainty of deliberation, and perceiving at a glance where the Good is, so His liberty accomplishes it spontaneously and without effort.
As we assign to God that liberty which is the basis of our existence, so also we transfer to His character, from our own, justice and charity. In man they are virtues: in God, His attributes. What is in us the laborious conquest of liberty, is in Him His very nature. The idea of the right, and the respect paid to the right, are signs of the dignity of our existence. If respect of rights is the very essence of justice, the Perfect Being must know and respect the rights of the lowest of His creatures; for He assigned them those rights. In God resides a sovereign justice, that renders to every one what is due him, not according to deceitful appearances, but according to the truth of things. And if man, a limited being, has the power to go out of himself, to forget his own person, to love another like himself, and devote himself to his happiness, dignity, and perfection, the Perfect Being must have, in an infinite degree, that disinterested tenderness, that Charity, the Supreme Virtue of the human person. There is in God an infinite tenderness for His creatures, manifested in His giving us existence, which He might have withheld; and every day it appears in innumerable marks of His Divine Providence.
Plato well understood that love of God, and expresses it in these great words: “Let us speak of the cause which led the Supreme Arranger of the Universe to produce and regulate that Universe. He was good; and he who is good has no kind of ill-will. Exempt from that, He willed that created things should be, as far as possible, like Himself.” And Christianity in its turn said, “God has so loved men that He has given them His only Son.”
It is not correct to affirm, as is often done, that Christianity has in some sort discovered this noble sentiment. We must not lower human nature, to raise Christianity. Antiquity knew, described, and practised charity; the first feature of which, so touching, and thank God! so common, is goodness, as its loftiest one is heroism. Charity is devotion to another; and it is ridiculously senseless to pretend that there ever was an age of the world, when the human soul was deprived of that part of its heritage, the power of devotion. But it is certain that Christianity has diffused and popularized this virtue, and that, before Christ, these words were never spoken: “LOVE ONE ANOTHER; FOR THAT IS THE WHOLE LAW.” Charity presupposes Justice. He who truly loves his brother respects the rights of his brother; but he does more, he forgets his own. Egoism sells or takes. Love delights in giving. In God, love is what it is in us; but in an infinite degree. God is inexhaustible in His charity, as He is inexhaustible in His essence. That Infinite Omnipotence and Infinite Charity, which, by an admirable good-will, draws from the bosom of its immense love the favors which it incessantly bestows on the world and on humanity, teaches us that the more we give, the more we possess.
God being all just and all good, He can will nothing but what is good and just. Being Omnipotent, whatever He wills He can do, and consequently does. The world is the work of God: it is therefore perfectly made.
Yet there is disorder in the world, that seems to impugn the justice and goodness of God.
A principle indissolubly connected with the very idea of good, tells us that every moral agent deserves reward when he does well, and punishment when he does ill. This principle is universal and necessary. It is absolute. If it does not apply in this world, it is false, or the world is badly ordered.
But good actions are not always followed by happiness, nor evil ones by misery. Though often this fact is more apparent than real; though virtue, a war against the passions, full of dignity but full of sorrow and pain, has the latter as its condition, yet the pains that follow vice are greater; and virtue conduces most to health, strength, and long life;–though the peaceful conscience that accompanies virtue creates internal happiness; though public opinion generally decides correctly on men’s characters, and rewards virtue with esteem and consideration, and vice with con-tempt and infamy; and though, after all, justice reigns in the world, and the surest road to happiness is still that of virtue, yet there are exceptions. Virtue is not always rewarded, nor vice punished, in this life.
The data of this problem are these: 1st. The principle of merit and demerit within us is absolute: every good action ought to be rewarded, every bad one punished: 2d. God is just as He is all-powerful: 3d. There are in this world particular cases, contradicting the necessary and universal law of merit and demerit. What is the result?
To reject the two principles, that God is just, and the law of merit and demerit absolute, is to raze to the foundations the whole edifice of human faith.
To maintain them, is to admit that the present life is to be terminated or continued elsewhere. The moral person who acts well or ill, and awaits reward or punishment, is connected with a body, lives with it, makes use of it, depends upon it in a measure, but is not it. The body is composed of parts. It diminishes or increases, it is divisible even to infinity. But this something which has a consciousness of itself, and says “I, ME”; that feels itself free and responsible, feels too that it is incapable of division, that it is a being one and simple; that the ME cannot be halved, that if a limb is cut off and thrown away, no part of the ME goes with it: that it remains identical with itself under the variety of phenomena which successively manifest it. This identity, indivisibility, and absolute unity of the person, are its spirituality, the very essence of the person. It is not in the least an hypothesis to affirm that the soul differs essentially from the body. By the soul we mean the person, not separated from the consciousness of the attributes which constitute it,–thought and will. The Existence without consciousness is an abstract being, and not a person. It is the person, that is identical, one, simple. Its attributes, developing it, do not divide it. Indivisible, it is indissoluble, and may be immortal. If absolute justice requires this immortality, it does not require what is impossible. The spirituality of the soul is the condition and necessary foundation of immortality: the law of merit and demerit the direct demonstration of it. The first is the metaphysical, the second the moral proof. Add to these the tendency of all the powers of the soul toward the Infinite, and the principle of final causes, and the proof of the immortality of the soul is complete.
God, therefore, in the Masonic creed, is INFINITE TRUTH, INFINITE BEAUTY, INFINITE GOODNESS. He is the Holy of Holies, as Author of the Moral Law, as the PRINCIPLE of Liberty, of Justice, and of Charity, Dispenser of Reward and Punishment. Such a God is not an abstract God; but an intelligent and free person, Who has made us in His image, from Whom we receive the law that presides over our destiny, and Whose judgment we await. It is His love that inspires us in our acts of charity: it is His justice that governs our justice, and that of society and the laws. We continually remind ourselves that He is infinite; because otherwise we should degrade His nature: but He would be for us as if He were not, if His infinite nature had not forms inherent in ourselves, the forms of our own reason and soul.
When we love Truth, Justice, and Nobility of Soul, we should know that it is God we love underneath these special forms, and should unite them all into one great act of total piety. We should feel that we go in and out continually in the midst of the vast forces of the Universe, which are only the Forces of God; that in our studies, when we attain a truth, we confront the thought of God; when we learn the right, we learn the will of God laid down as a rule of conduct for the Universe; and when we feel disinterested love, we should know that we partake the feeling of the Infinite God. Then, when we reverence the mighty cosmic force, it will not be a blind Fate in an Atheistic or Pantheistic world, but the Infinite God, that we shall confront and feel and know. Then we shall be mindful of the mind of God, conscious of God’s conscience, sensible of His sentiments, and our own existence will be in the infinite being of God.
The world is a whole, which has its harmony; for a God who is One, could make none but a complete and harmonious work. The harmony of the Universe responds to the unity of God, as the indefinite quantity is the defective sign of the infinitude of God. To say that the Universe is God, is to admit the world only, and deny God. Give it what name you please, it is atheism at bottom. On the other hand, to suppose that the Universe is void of God, and that He is wholly apart from it, is an insupportable and al-most impossible abstraction. To distinguish is not to separate. I distinguish, but do not separate myself from my qualities and effects. So God is not the Universe, although He is everywhere present in spirit and in truth.
To us, as to Plato, absolute truth is in God. It is God Himself under one of His phases. In God, as their original, are the immutable principles of reality and cognizance. In Him things receive at once their existence and their intelligibility. It is by participating in the Divine reason that our own reason possesses something of the Absolute. Every judgment of reason envelopes a necessary truth, and every necessary truth supposes the necessary Existence.
Thus, from every direction,–from metaphysics, æsthetics, and morality above all, we rise to the same Principle, the common centre, and ultimate foundation of all truth, all beauty, all good. The True, the Beautiful, the Good, are but diverse revelations of one and the same Being. Thus we reach the threshold of religion, and are in communion with the great philosophies which all proclaim a God; and at the same time with the religions which cover the earth, and all repose on the sacred foundation of natural religion; of that religion which reveals to us the natural light given to all men, without the aid of a particular revelation. So long as philosophy does not arrive at religion, it is below all worships, even the most imperfect; for they at least give man a Father, a Witness, a Consoler, a Judge. By religion, philosophy connects itself with humanity, which, from one end of the world to the other, aspires to God, believes in God, hopes in God. Philosophy contains in itself the common basis of all religious beliefs; it, as it were, borrows from them their principle, and returns it to them surrounded with light, elevated above uncertainty, secure against all attack.
From the necessity of His Nature, the Infinite Being must create and preserve the Finite, and to the Finite must, in its forms, give and communicate of His own kind. We cannot conceive of any finite thing existing without God, the Infinite basis and ground thereof; nor of God existing without something. God is the necessary logical condition of a world, its necessitating cause; a world, the necessary logical condition of God, His necessitated consequence. It is according to His Infinite Perfection to create, and then to preserve and bless whatever He creates. That is the conclusion of modern metaphysical science. The stream of philosophy runs down from Aristotle to Hegel, and breaks off with this conclusion: and then again recurs the ancient difficulty. If it be of His nature to create,–if we cannot conceive of His existing alone, without creating, without having created, then what He created was co-existent with Himself. If He could exist an instant without creating, He could as well do so for a myriad of eternities. And so again comes round to us the old doctrine of a God, the Soul of the Universe, and co-existent with it. For what He created had a beginning; and however long since that creation occurred, an eternity had before elapsed. The difference between a beginning and no beginning is infinite.
But of some things we can be certain. We are conscious of ourselves–of ourselves if not as substances, at least as Powers to be, to do, to suffer. We are conscious of ourselves not as self-originated at all or as self-sustained alone; but only as dependent, first for existence, ever since for support.
Among the primary ideas of consciousness, that are inseparable from it, the atoms of self-consciousness, we find the idea of God. Carefully examined by the scrutinizing intellect, it is the idea of God as infinite, perfectly powerful, wise, just, loving, holy; absolute being with no limitation. This made us, made all, sustains us, sustains all; made our body, not by a single act, but by a series of acts extending over a vast succession of years,–for man’s body is the resultant of all created things,–made our spirit, our mind, conscience, affections, soul, will, appointed for each its natural mode of action, set each at its several aim. Thus self-consciousness leads us to consciousness of God, and at last to consciousness of an infinite God. That is the highest evidence of our own existence, and it is the highest evidence of His.
If there is a God at all, He must be omnipresent in space. Beyond the last Stars He must be, as He is here. There can be no mote that peoples the sunbeams, no little cell of life that the microscope discovers in the seed-sporule of a moss, but He is there.
He must also be omnipresent in time. There was no second of time before the Stars began to burn, but God was in that second. In the most distant nebulous spot in Orion’s belt, and in every one of the millions that people a square inch of limestone, God is alike present. He is in the smallest imaginable or even unimaginable portion of time, and in every second of its most vast and unimaginable volume; His Here conterminous with the All of Space, His Now coeval with the All of Time.
Through all this Space, in all this Time, His Being extends, spreads undivided, operates unspent; God in all His infinity, perfectly powerful, wise, just, loving, and holy. His being is an infinite activity, a creating, and so a giving of Himself to the World. The World’s being is a becoming, a being created and continued. It is so now, and was so, incalculable and unimaginable millions of ages ago.
All this is philosophy, the unavoidable conclusion of the human mind. It is not the opinion of Coleridge and Kant, but their science; not what they guess, but what they know.
In virtue of this in-dwelling of God in matter, we say that the world is a revelation of Him, its existence a show of His. He is in His work. The manifold action of the Universe is only His mode of operation, and all material things are in communion with Him. All grow and move and live in Him, and by means of Him, and only so. Let Him withdraw from the space occupied by anything, and it ceases to be. Let Him withdraw any quality of His nature from anything, and it ceases to be. All must partake of Him, He dwelling in each, and yet transcending all.
The failure of fanciful religion to become philosophy, does not preclude philosophy from coinciding with true religion. Philosophy, or rather its object, the divine order of the Universe, is the intellectual guide which the religious sentiment needs; while exploring the real relations of the finite, it obtains a constantly improving and self-correcting measure of the perfect law of the Gospel of Love and Liberty, and a means of carrying into effect the spiritualism of revealed religion. It establishes law, by ascertaining its terms; it guides the spirit to see its way to the amelioration of life and the increase of happiness. While religion was stationary, science could not walk alone; when both are admitted to be progressive, their interests and aims become identified. Aristotle began to show how religion may be founded on an intellectual basis; but the basis he laid was too narrow. Bacon, by giving to philosophy a definite aim and method, gave it at the same time a safer and self-enlarging basis. Our position is that of intellectual beings surrounded by limitations; and the latter being constant, have to intelligence the practical value of laws, in whose investigation and application consists that seemingly endless career of intellectual and moral progress which the sentiment of religion inspires and ennobles. The title of Saint has commonly been claimed for those whose boast it has been to despise philosophy; yet faith will stumble and sentiment mislead, unless knowledge be present, in amount and quality sufficient to purify the one and to give beneficial direction to the other.
Science consists of those matured inferences from experience which all other experience confirms. It is no fixed system superior to revision, but that progressive mediation between ignorance and wisdom in part conceived by Plato, whose immediate object is happiness, and its impulse the highest kind of love. Science realizes and unites all that was truly valuable in both the old schemes of mediation; the heroic, or system of action and effort; and the mystical theory of spiritual, contemplative communion. “Listen to me,” says Galen, “as to the voice of the Eleusinian Hierophant, and believe that the study of nature is a mystery no less important than theirs, nor less adapted to display the wisdom and power of the Great Creator. Their lessons and demonstrations were obscure, but ours are clear and unmistakable.”
To science we owe it that no man is any longer entitled to consider himself the central point around which the whole Universe of life and motion revolves–the immensely important individual for whose convenience and even luxurious ease and indulgence the whole Universe was made. On one side it has shown us an infinite Universe of stars and suns and worlds at incalculable distances from each other, in whose majestic and awful presence we sink and even our world sinks into insignificance; while, on the other side, the microscope has placed us in communication with new worlds of organized livings beings, gifted with senses, nerves, appetites, and instincts, in every tear and in every drop of putrid water.
Thus science teaches us that we are but an infinitesimal portion of a great whole, that stretches out on every side of us, and above and below us, infinite in its complications, and which infinite wisdom alone .can comprehend. Infinite wisdom has arranged the infinite succession of beings, involving the necessity of birth, decay, and death, and made the loftiest virtues possible by providing those conflicts, reverses, trials, and hardships, without which even their names could never have been invented.
Knowledge is convertible into power, and axioms into rules of utility and duty. Modern science is social and communicative. It is moral as well as intellectual; powerful, yet pacific and disinterested; binding man to man as well as to the Universe; filling up the details of obligation, and cherishing impulses of virtue, and, by affording clear proof of the consistency and identity of all interests, substituting co-operation for rivalry, liberality for jealousy, and tending far more powerfully than any other means to realize the spirit of religion, by healing those inveterate disorders which, traced to their real origin, will be found rooted in an ignorant assumption as to the penurious severity of Providence, and the consequent greed of selfish men to confine what seemed as if extorted from it to themselves, or to steal from each other rather than quietly to enjoy their own.
We shall probably never reach those higher forms containing the true differences of things, involving the full discovery and correct expression of their very self or essence. We shall ever fall short of the most general and most simple nature, the ultimate or most comprehensive law. Our widest axioms explain many phenomena, but so too in a degree did the principles or elements of the old philosophers, and the cycles and epicycles of ancient astronomy. We cannot in any case of causation assign the whole of the conditions, nor though we may reproduce them in practice, can we mentally distinguish them all, without knowing the essences of the things including them; and we therefore must not unconsciously ascribe that absolute certainty to axioms, which the ancient religionists did to creeds, nor allow the mind, which ever strives to insulate itself and its acquisitions, to forget the nature of the process by which it substituted scientific for common notions, and so with one as with the other lay the basis of self-deception by a pedantic and superstitious employment of them.
Doubt, the essential preliminary of all improvement and discovery, must accompany all the stages of man’s onward progress. His intellectual life is a perpetual beginning, a preparation for a birth. The faculty of doubting and questioning, without which those of comparison and judgment would be useless, is itself a divine prerogative of the reason. Knowledge is always imperfect, or complete only in a prospectively boundless career, in which discovery multiplies doubt, and doubt leads on to new discovery. The boast of science is not so much its manifested results, as its admitted imperfection and capacity of unlimited progress. The true religious philosophy of an imperfect being is not a system of creed, but, as Socrates thought, an infinite search or approximation. Finality is but another name for bewilderment or defeat. Science gratifies the religious feeling without arresting it, and opens out the unfathomable mystery of the One Supreme into more explicit and manageable Forms, which express not indeed His Essence, which is wholly beyond our reach and higher than our faculties can climb, but His Will, and so feeds an endless enthusiasm by accumulating forever new objects of pursuit. We have long experienced that knowledge is profitable, we are beginning to find out that it is moral, and we shall at last discover it to be religious.
God and truth are inseparable; a knowledge of God is possession of the saving oracles of truth. In proportion as the thought and purpose of the individual are trained to conformity with the rule of right prescribed by Supreme Intelligence, so far is his happiness promoted, and the purpose of his existence fulfilled. In this way a new life arises in him; he is no longer isolated, but is a part of the eternal harmonies around him. His erring will is directed by the influence of a higher will, informing and moulding it in the path of his true happiness.
Man’s power of apprehending outward truth is a qualified privilege; the mental like the physical inspiration passing through a diluted medium; and yet, even when truth, imparted, as it were, by intuition, has been specious, or at least imperfect, the intoxication of sudden discovery has ever claimed it as full, infallible, and divine. And while human weakness needed ever to recur to the pure and perfect source, the revelations once popularly accepted and valued assumed an independent substantiality, perpetuating not themselves only, but the whole mass of derivative forms accidentally connected with them, and legalized in their names. The mists of error thickened under the shadows of prescription, until the free light again broke in upon the night of ages, redeeming the genuine treasure from the superstition which obstinately doted on its accessories.
Even to the Barbarian, Nature reveals a mighty power and a wondrous wisdom, and continually points to God. It is no wonder that men worshipped the several things of the world. The world of matter is a revelation of fear to the savage in Northern climes; he trembles at his deity throned in ice and snow. The lightning, the storm, the earthquake startle the rude man, and he sees the divine in the extraordinary.
The grand objects of Nature perpetually constrain men to think of their Author. The Alps are the great altar of Europe; the nocturnal sky has been to mankind the dome of a temple, starred all over with admonitions to reverence, trust, and love. The Scriptures for the human race are writ in earth and Heaven. No organ or miserere touches the heart like the sonorous swell of the sea or the ocean-wave’s immeasurable laugh. Every year the old world puts on new bridal beauty, and celebrates its Whit-Sunday, when in the sweet Spring each bush and tree dons reverently its new glories. Autumn is a long All-Saints’ day; and the harvest is Hallowmass to Mankind. Before the human race marched down from the slopes of the Himalayas to take possession of Asia, Chaldea, and Egypt, men marked each annual crisis, the solstices and the equinoxes, and celebrated religious festivals therein; and even then, and ever since, the material was and has been the element of communion between man and God.
Nature is full of religious lessons to a thoughtful man. He dissolves the matter of the Universe, leaving only its forces; he dissolves away the phenomena of human history, leaving only immortal spirit; he studies the law, the mode of action of these forces and this spirit, which make up the material and the human world, and cannot fail to be filled with reverence, with trust, with boundless love of the Infinite God, who devised these laws of matter and of mind, and thereby bears up this marvellous Universe of things and men. Science has its New Testament; and the beatitudes of Philosophy are profoundly touching. An undevout astronomer is mad. Familiarity with the grass and the trees teaches us deeper lessons of love and trust than we can glean from the writings of Fénélon and Augustine. The great Bible of God is ever open before mankind. The eternal flowers of Heaven seem to shed sweet influence on the perishable blossoms of the earth. The great sermon of Jesus was preached on a mountain, which preached to Him as He did to the people, and His figures of speech were first natural figures of fact.
If to-morrow I am to perish utterly, then I shall only take counsel for to-day, and ask for qualities which last no longer. My fathers will be to me only as the ground out of which my bread-corn is grown; dead, they are but the rotten mould of earth, their memory of small concern to me. Posterity!–I shall care nothing for the future generations of mankind! I am one atom in the trunk of a tree, and care nothing for the roots below, or the branch above. I shall sow such seed only as will bear harvest to-day. Passion may enact my statutes to-day, and ambition repeal them to-morrow. I will know no other legislators. Morality will vanish, and expediency take its place. Heroism will be gone; and instead of it there will be the savage ferocity of the he-wolf, the brute cunning of the she-fox, the rapacity of the vulture, and the headlong daring of the wild bull; but no longer the cool, calm courage that, for truth’s sake, and for love’s sake, looks death firmly in the face, and then wheels into line ready to be slain. Affection, friendship, philanthropy, will be but the wild fancies of the monomaniac, fit subjects for smiles or laughter or for pity.
But knowing that we shall live forever, and that the Infinite God loves all of us, we can look on all the evils of the world, and see that it is only the hour before sunrise, and that the light is coming; and so we also, even we, may light a little taper, to illuminate the darkness while it lasts, and help until the day-spring come. Eternal morning follows the night: a rainbow scarfs the shoulders of every cloud that weeps its rain away to be flowers on land and pearls at sea: Life rises out of the grave, the soul cannot be held by fettering flesh. No dawn is hopeless; and disaster is only the threshold of delight.
Beautifully, above the great wide chaos of human errors, shines the calm, clear light of natural human religion, revealing to us God as the Infinite Parent of all, perfectly powerful, wise, just, loving, and perfectly holy too. Beautiful around stretches off every way the Universe, the Great Bible of God. Material nature is its Old Testament, millions of years old, thick with eternal truths under our feet, glittering with everlasting glories over our heads; and Human Nature is the New Testament from the Infinite God, every day revealing a new page as Time turns over the leaves. Immortality stands waiting to give a recompense for every virtue not rewarded, for every tear not wiped away, for every sorrow undeserved, for every prayer, for every pure intention and emotion of the heart. And over the whole, over Nature, Material and Human, over this Mortal Life and over the eternal Past and Future, the infinite Loving-kindness of God the Father comes enfolding all and blessing everything that ever was, that is, that ever shall be.
Everything is a thought of the Infinite God. Nature is His prose, and man His Poetry. There is no Chance, no Fate; but God’s Great Providence, enfolding the whole Universe in its bosom, and feeding it with everlasting life. In times past there has been evil which we cannot understand; now there are evils which we cannot solve, nor make square with God’s perfect goodness by any theory our feeble intellect enables us to frame. There are sufferings, follies, and sins for all mankind, for every nation, for every man and every woman. They were all foreseen by the infinite wisdom of God, all provided for by His infinite power and justice, and all are consistent with His infinite love. To believe otherwise would be to believe that He made the world, to amuse His idle hours with the follies and agonies of mankind, as Domitian was wont to do with the wrigglings and contortions of insect agonies. Then indeed we might despairingly unite in that horrible utterance of Heine: “Alas, God’s Satire weighs heavily on me! The Great Author of the Universe, the Aristophanes of Heaven, is bent on demonstrating, with crushing force, to me, the little, earthly, German Aristophanes, how my wittiest sarcasms are only pitiful attempts at jesting, in comparison with His, and how miserably I am beneath Him, in humor, in colossal mockery.”
No, no! God is not thus amused with and prodigal of human suffering. The world is neither a Here without a Hereafter, a body without a soul, a chaos with no God; nor a body blasted by a soul, a Here with a worse Hereafter, a world with a God that hates more than half the creatures He has made. There is no Savage, Revengeful, and Evil God: but there is an Infinite God, seen everywhere as Perfect Cause, everywhere as Perfect Providence, transcending all, yet in-dwelling everywhere, with perfect power, wisdom, justice, holiness, and love, providing for the future welfare of each and all, foreseeing and forecaring for every bubble that breaks on the great stream of human life and human history.
The end of man and the object of existence in this world, being not only happiness, but happiness in virtue and through virtue, virtue in this world is the condition of happiness in another life, and the condition of virtue in this world is suffering, more or less frequent, briefer or longer continued, more or less intense. Take away suffering, and there is no longer any resignation or humanity, no more self-sacrifice, no more devotedness, no more heroic virtues, no more sublime morality. We are subjected to suffering, both because we are sensible, and because we ought to be virtuous. If there were no physical evil, there would be no possible virtue, and the world would be badly adapted to the destiny of man.
The apparent disorders of the physical world, and the evils that result from them, are not disorders and evils that occur despite the power and goodness of God. God not only allows, but wills them. It is His will that there shall be in the physical world causes enough of pain for man, to afford him occasions for resignation and courage.
Whatever is favorable to virtue, whatever gives the moral liberty more energy, whatever can serve the greater moral development of the human race, is good. Suffering is not the worst condition of man on earth. The worst condition is the moral brutalization which the absence of physical evil would engender.
External or internal physical evil connects itself with the object of existence, which is to accomplish the moral law here below, whatever the consequences, with the firm hope that virtue unfortunate will not fail to be rewarded in another life. The moral law has its sanction and its reason in itself. It owes nothing to that law of merit and demerit that accompanies it, but is not its basis. But, though the principle of merit and demerit ought not to be the determining principle of virtuous action, it powerfully concurs with the moral law, because it offers virtue a legitimate ground of consolation and hope.
Morality is the recognition of duty, as duty, and its accomplishment, whatever the consequences.
Religion is the recognition of duty in its necessary harmony with goodness; a harmony that must have its realization in another life, through the justice and omnipotence of God.
Religion is as true as morality; for once morality is admitted, its consequences must be admitted.
The whole moral existence is included in these two words, harmonious with each other: DUTY and HOPE.
Masonry teaches that God is infinitely good. What motive, what reason, and, morally speaking, what possibility can there be to Infinite Power and Infinite Wisdom, to be anything but good? Our very sorrows, proclaiming the loss of objects inexpressibly dear to us, demonstrate His Goodness. The Being that made us intelligent cannot Himself be without intelligence; and He Who has made us so to love and to sorrow for what we love, must number love for the creatures He has made, among His infinite attributes. Amid all our sorrows, we take refuge in the assurance that He loves us; that He does not capriciously, or through indifference, and still less in mere anger, grieve and afflict us; that He chastens us, in order that by His chastisements, which are by His universal law only the consequences of our acts, we may be profited; and that He could not show so much love for His creatures, by leaving them unchastened, untried, undisciplined. We have faith in the Infinite; faith in God’s Infinite Love; and it is that faith that must save us.
No dispensations of God’s Providence, no suffering or bereavement is a messenger of wrath: none of its circumstances are indications of God’s Anger. He is incapable of Anger; higher above any such feelings than the distant stars are above the earth. Bad men do not die because God hates them. They die because it is best for them that they should do so; and, bad as they are, it is better for them to be in the hands of the infinitely good God, than anywhere else.
Darkness and gloom lie upon the paths of men. They stumble at difficulties, are ensnared by temptations, and perplexed by trouble. They are anxious, and troubled, and fearful. Pain and affliction and sorrow often gather around the steps of their earthly pilgrimage. All this is written indelibly upon the tablets of the human heart. It is not to be erased; but Masonry sees and reads it in a new light. It does not expect these ills and trials and sufferings to be removed from life; but that the great truth will at some time be believed by all men, that they are the means, selected by infinite wisdom, to purify the heart, and to invigorate the soul whose inheritance is immortality, and the world its school.
Masonry propagates no creed except its own most simple and Sublime One; that universal religion, taught by Nature and by Reason. Its Lodges are neither Jewish, Moslem, nor Christian Temples. It reiterates the precepts of morality of all religions. It venerates the character and commends the teachings of the great and good of all ages and of all countries. It extracts the good and not the evil, the truth, and not the error, from all creeds; and acknowledges that there is much which is good and true in all.
Above all the other great teachers of morality and virtue, it reveres the character of the Great Master Who, submissive to the will of His and our Father, died upon the Cross. All must admit, that if the world were filled with beings like Him, the great ills of society would be at once relieved. For all coercion, injury, selfishness, and revenge, and all the wrongs and the greatest sufferings of life, would disappear at once. These human years would be happy; and the eternal ages would roll on in brightness and beauty; and the still, sad music of Humanity, that sounds through the world, now in the accents of grief, and now in pensive melancholy, would change to anthems, sounding to the March of Time, and bursting out from the heart of the world.
If every man were a perfect imitator of that Great, Wise, Good Teacher, clothed with all His faith and all His virtues, how the circle of Life’s ills and trials would be narrowed! The sensual passions would assail the heart in vain. Want would no longer successfully tempt men to act wrongly, nor curiosity to do rashly. Ambition, spreading before men its Kingdoms and its Thrones, and offices and honors, would cause none to swerve from their great allegiance. Injury and insult would be shamed by forgiveness. “Father,” men would say, “forgive them; for they know not what they do.” None would seek to be enriched at another’s loss or expense. Every man would feel that the whole human race were his brothers. All sorrow and pain and anguish would be soothed by a perfect faith and an entire trust in the Infinite Goodness of God. The world around us would be new, and the Heavens above us; for here, and there, and everywhere, through all the ample glories and splendors of the Universe, all men would recognize and feel the presence and the beneficent care of a loving Father.
However the Mason may believe as to creeds, and churches, and miracles, and missions from Heaven, he must admit that the Life and character of Him who taught in Galilee, and fragments of Whose teachings have come down to us, are worthy of all imitation. That Life is an undenied and undeniable Gospel. Its teachings cannot be passed by and discarded. All must admit that it would be happiness to follow and perfection to imitate Him. None ever felt for Him a sincere emotion of contempt, nor in anger accused Him of sophistry, nor saw immorality lurking in His doctrines; however they may judge of those who succeeded Him, and claimed to be His apostles. Divine or human, inspired or only a reforming Essene, it must be agreed that His teachings are far nobler, far purer, far less alloyed with error and imperfection, far less of the earth earthly, than those of Socrates, Plato, Seneca, or Mahomet, or any other of the great moralists and Reformers of the world.
If our aims went as completely as His beyond personal care and selfish gratification; if our thoughts and words and actions were as entirely employed upon the great work of benefiting our kind–the true work which we have been placed here to do–as His were; if our nature were as gentle and as tender as His; and if society, country, kindred, friendship, and home were as dear to us as they were to Him, we should be at once relieved of more than half the difficulties and the diseased and painful affections of our lives. Simple obedience to rectitude, instead of self-interest; simple self-culture and self-improvement, instead of constant cultivation of the good opinion of others; single-hearted aims and purposes, instead of improper objects, sought and approached by devious and crooked ways, would free our meditations of many disturbing and irritating questions.
Not to renounce the nobler and better affections of our natures, nor happiness, nor our just dues of love and honor from men; not to vilify ourselves, nor to renounce our self-respect, nor a just and reasonable sense of our merits and deserts, nor our own righteousness of virtue, does Masonry require, nor would our imitation of Him require; but to renounce our vices, our faults, our passions, our self-flattering delusions; to forego all outward advantages, which are to be gained only through a sacrifice of our inward integrity, or by anxious and petty contrivances and appliances; to choose and keep the better part; to secure that, and let the worst take care of itself; to keep a good conscience, and let opinion come and go as it will; to retain a lofty self-respect, and let low self-indulgence go; to keep inward happiness, and let outward advantages hold a subordinate place; to renounce our selfishness, and that eternal anxiety as to what we are to have, and what men think of us; and be content with the plenitude of God’s great mercies, and so to be happy. For it is the inordinate devotion to self, and consideration of self, that is ever a stumbling-block in the way; that spreads questions, snares, and difficulties around us, darkens the way of Providence, and makes the world a far less happy one to us than it might be.
As He taught, so Masonry teaches, affection to our kindred, tenderness to our friends, gentleness and forbearance toward our inferiors, pity for the suffering, forgiveness of our enemies; and to wear an affectionate nature and gentle disposition as the garment of our life, investing pain, and toil, and agony, and even death, with a serene and holy beauty. It does not teach us to wrap ourselves in the garments of reserve and pride, to care nothing for the world because it cares nothing for us, to withdraw our thoughts from society because it does us not justice, and see how patiently we can live within the confines of our own bosoms, or in quiet communion, through books, with the mighty dead. No man ever found peace or light in that way. Every relation, of hate, scorn, or neglect, to mankind, is full of vexation and torment. There is nothing to do with men but to love them, to admire their virtues, pity and bear with their faults, and forgive their injuries. To hate your adversary will not help you; to kill him will help you still less: nothing within the compass of the Universe will help you, but to pity, forgive, and love him.
If we possessed His gentle and affectionate disposition, His love and compassion for all that err and all that offend, how many difficulties, both within and without us, would they relieve! How many depressed minds should we console! How many troubles in society should we compose! How many enmities soften! How many a knot of mystery and misunderstanding would be untied by a single word, spoken in simple and confiding truth! How many a rough path would be made smooth, and how many a crooked path be made straight! Very many places, now solitary, would be made glad; very many dark places be filled with light.
Morality has its axioms, like the other sciences; and these axioms are, in all languages, justly termed moral truths. Moral truths, considered in themselves, are equally as certain as mathematical truths. Given the idea of a deposit, the idea of keeping it faithfully is attached to it as necessarily, as to the idea of q, triangle is attached the idea that its three angles are equal to two right angles. You may violate a deposit; but in doing so, do not imagine that you change the nature of things, or make what is in itself a deposit become your own property. The two ideas exclude each other. You have but a false semblance of property: and all the efforts of the passions, all the sophisms of interest, will not overturn essential differences. Therefore it is that a moral truth is so imperious; because, like all truth, it is what it is, and shapes itself to please no caprice. Always the same, and always present, little as we may like it, it inexorably condemns, with a voice always heard, but not always regarded, the insensate and guilty will which thinks to prevent its existing, by denying, or rather by pretending to deny, its existence.
The moral truths are distinguished from other truths by this singular characteristic: so soon as we perceive them, they appear to us as the rule of our conduct. If it is true that a deposit is made in order to be returned to its legitimate possessor, it must be returned. To the necessity of believing the truth, the necessity of practising it is added.
The necessity of practicing the moral truths is obligation. The moral truths, necessary to the eye of reason, are obligatory on the will. The moral obligation, like the moral truth which is its basis, is absolute. As necessary truths are not more or less necessary, so obligation is not more or less obligatory. There are degrees of importance among different obligations; but there are no degrees in the obligation itself. One is not nearly obliged, almost obliged; but wholly so, or not at all. If there be any place of refuge against the obligation, it ceases to exist.
If the obligation is absolute, it is immutable and universal. For if what is obligation to-day may not be so to-morrow, if what is obligatory for me may not be so for you, the obligation differing from itself, it would be relative and contingent. This fact of absolute, immutable, universal obligation is certain and manifest. The good is the foundation of obligation. If it be not, obligation has no foundation; and that is impossible. If one act ought to be done, and another ought not, it must be because evidently there is an essential difference between the two acts. If one be not good and the other bad, the obligation imposed on us is arbitrary.
To make the Good a consequence, of anything whatever, is to annihilate it. It is the first, or it is nothing. When we ask an honest man why, despite his urgent necessities, he has respected the sanctity of a deposit, he answers, because it was his duty. Asked why it was his duty, he answers, because it was right, was just, was good. Beyond that there is no answer to be made, but there is also no question to be asked. No one permits a duty to be imposed on him without giving himself a reason for it: but when it is admitted that the duty is commanded by justice, the mind is satisfied; for it has arrived at a principle beyond which there is nothing to seek, justice being its own principle. The primary truths include their own reason: and justice, the essential distinction between good and evil, is the first truth of morality.
Justice is not a consequence; because we cannot ascend to any principle above it. Moral truth forces itself on man, and does not emanate from him. It no more becomes subjective, by appearing to us obligatory, than truth does by appearing to us necessary. It is in the very nature of the true and the good that we must seek for the reason of necessity and obligation. Obligation is founded on the necessary distinction between the good and the evil; and it is itself the foundation of liberty. If man has his duties to perform, he must have the faculty of accomplishing them, of resisting desire, passion, and interest, in order to obey the law. He must be free; therefore he is so, or human nature is in contradiction with itself. The certainty of the obligation involves the corresponding certainty of free will.
It is the will that is free: though sometimes that will may be ineffectual. The power to do must not be confounded with the power to will. The former may be limited: the latter is sovereign. The external effects may be prevented: the resolution itself cannot. Of this sovereign power of the will we are conscious. We feel in ourselves, before it becomes determinate, the force which can determine itself in one way or another. At the same time when I will this or that, I am equally conscious that I can will the contrary. I am conscious that I am the master of my resolution: that I may check it, continue it, retake it. When the act has ceased, the consciousness of the power which produced if has not. That consciousness and the power remain, superior to all the manifestations of the power. Wherefore free-will is the essential and ever-subsisting attribute of the will itself.
At the same time that we judge that a free agent has done a good or a bad act, we form another judgment, as necessary as the first; that if he has done well, he deserves compensation; if ill, punishment. That judgment may be expressed in a manner more or less vivid, according as it is mingled with sentiments more or less ardent. Sometimes it will be a merely kind feeling toward a virtuous agent, and moderately hostile to a guilty one; sometimes enthusiasm or indignation. The judgment of merit and demerit is intimately connected with the judgment of good and evil. Merit is the natural right which we have to be rewarded; demerit the natural right which others have to punish us. But whether the reward is received, or the punishment undergone, or not, the merit or demerit equally subsists. Punishment and reward are the satisfaction of merit and demerit, but do not constitute them. Take away the former, and the latter continue. Take away the latter, and there are no longer real rewards or punishments. When a base man encompasses our merited honors, he has obtained but the mere appearance of a reward; a mere material advantage. The reward is essentially moral; and its value is independent of its form. One of those simple crowns of oak with which the early Romans rewarded heroism, was of more real value than all the wealth of the world, when it was the sign of the gratitude and admiration of a people. Reward accorded to merit is a debt; without merit it is an alms or a theft.
The Good is good in itself, and to be accomplished, whatever the consequences. The results of the Good cannot but be fortunate. Happiness, separated from the Good, is but a fact to which no moral idea is attached. As an effect of the Good, it enters into the moral order, completes and crowns it.
Virtue without happiness, and crime without misery, is a contradiction and disorder. If virtue suppose sacrifice (that is, suffering), eternal justice requires that sacrifice generously accepted and courageously borne, shall have for its reward the same happiness that was sacrificed: and it also requires that crime shall be punished with unhappiness, for the guilty happiness which it attempted to procure.
This law that attaches pleasure and sorrow to the good and the evil, is, in general, accomplished even here below. For order rules in the world; because the world lasts. Is that order sometimes disturbed? Are happiness and sorrow not always distributed in legitimate proportion to crime and virtue? The absolute judgment of the Good, the absolute judgment of obligation, the absolute judgment of merit and demerit, continue to subsist, inviolable and imprescriptible; and we cannot help but believe that He Who has implanted in us the sentiment and idea of order, cannot therein Himself be wanting; and that He will, sooner or later, re-establish the holy harmony of virtue and happiness, by means belonging to Himself.
The Judgment of the Good, the decision that such a thing is goad, and that such another is not,–this is the primitive fact, and reposes on itself. By its intimate resemblances to the judgment of the true and the beautiful, it shows us the secret affinities of morality, metaphysics, and aesthetics. The good, so especially united to the true, is distinguished from it, only because it is truth put in practice. The good is obligatory. These are two indivisible but not identical ideas. The idea of obligation reposes on the idea of the Good. In this intimate alliance, the former borrows from the latter its universal and absolute character.
The obligatory good is the moral law. That is the foundation of all morality. By it we separate ourselves from the morality of interest and the morality of sentiment. We admit the existence of those facts, and their influence; but we do not assign them the same rank.
To the moral law, in the reason of man, corresponds liberty in action. Liberty is deduced from obligation, and is a fact irresistibly evident. Man, as free, and subject to obligation, is a moral person; and that involves the idea of rights. To these ideas is added that of merit and demerit; which supposes the distinction between good and evil, obligation and liberty; and creates the idea of reward and punishment.
The sentiments play no unimportant part in morality. All the moral judgments are accompanied by sentiments that respond to them. From the secret sources of enthusiasm the human will draws the mysterious virtue that makes heroes. Truth enlightens and illumines. Sentiment warms and inclines to action. Interest also bears its part; and the hope of happiness is the work of God, and one of the motive powers of human action.
Such is the admirable economy of the moral constitution of man. His Supreme Object, the Good: his law, Virtue, which often imposes upon him suffering, thus making him to excel all other created beings known to us. But this law is harsh, and in contradiction with the instinctive desire for happiness. Wherefore the Beneficent Author of his being has placed in his soul, by the side of the severe law of duty, the sweet, delightful force of sentiment. Generally he attaches happiness to virtue; and for the exceptions, for such there are, he has placed Hope at the end of the journey to be travelled.
Thus there is a side on which morality touches religion. It is a sublime necessity of Humanity to see in God the Legislator supremely wise, the Witness always present, the infallible judge of virtue. The human mind, ever climbing up to God, would deem the foundations of morality too unstable, if it did not place in God the first principle of the moral law. Wishing to give to the moral law a religious character, we run the risk of taking from it its moral character. We may refer it so entirely to God as to make His will an arbitrary degree. But the will of God, whence we deduce morality, in order to give it authority, itself has no moral authority, except as it is just. The Good comes from the will of God alone; but from His will, in so far as it is the expression of His wisdom and justice. The Eternal Justice of God is the sole foundation of Justice, such as Humanity perceives and practises it. The Good, duty, merit and demerit, are referred to God, as everything is referred to him; but they have none the less a proper evidence and authority. Religion is the crown of Morality, not its base. The base of Morality is in itself.
The Moral Code of Masonry is still more extensive than that developed by philosophy. To the requisitions of the law of Nature and the law of God, it adds the imperative obligation of a con-tract. Upon entering the Order, the Initiate binds to himself every Mason in the world. Once enrolled among the children of Light, every Mason on earth becomes his brother, and owes him the duties, the kindnesses, and the sympathies of a brother. On every one he may call for assistance in need, protection against danger, sympathy in sorrow, attention in sickness, and decent burial after death. There is not a Mason in the world who is not bound to go to his relief, when he is in danger, if there be a greater probability of saving his life than of losing his own. No Mason can wrong him to the value of anything, knowingly, himself, nor suffer it to be done by others, if it be in his power to prevent it. No Mason can speak evil of him, to his face or behind his back. Every Mason must keep his lawful secrets, and aid him in his business, defend his character when unjustly assailed, and protect, counsel, and assist his widow and his orphans. What so many thousands owe to him, he owes to each of them. He has solemnly bound himself to be ever ready to discharge this sacred debt. If he fails to do it he is dishonest and forsworn; and it is an unparalleled meanness in him to obtain good offices by false pretences, to receive kindness and service, rendered him under the confident expectation that he will in his turn render the same, and then to disappoint, without ample reason, that just expectation.
Masonry holds him also, by his solemn promise, to a purer life, a nobler generosity, a more perfect charity of opinion and action; to be tolerant, catholic in his love for his race, ardent in his zeal for the interest of mankind, the advancement and progress of humanity.
Such are, we think, the Philosophy and the Morality, such the TRUE WORD of a Master Mason.
The world, the ancients believed, was governed by Seven Secondary Causes; and these were the universal forces, known to the Hebrews by the plural name ELOHIM. These forces, analogous and contrary one to the other, produce equilibrium by their contrasts, and regulate the movements of the spheres. The Hebrews called them the Seven great Archangels, and gave them names, each of which, being a combination of another word with AL, the first Phœnician Nature-God, considered as the Principle of Light, represented them as His manifestations. Other peoples assigned to these Spirits the government of the Seven Planets then known, and gave them the names of their great divinities.
So, in the Kabala, the last Seven Sephiroth constituted ATIK YOMIN, the Ancient of Days; and these, as well as the Seven planets, correspond with the Seven colors separated by the prism, and the Seven notes of the musical octave.
Seven is the sacred number in all theogonies and all symbols, because it is composed of 3 and 4. It represents the magical. power in its full force. It is the Spirit assisted by all the Elementary Powers, the Soul served by Nature, the Holy Empire spoken of in the clavicules of Solomon, symbolized by a warrior, crowned, bearing a triangle on his cuirass, and standing on a cube, to which are harnessed two Sphinxes, one white and the other black, pulling contrary ways, and turning the head to look backward.
The vices are Seven, like the virtues; and the latter were anciently symbolized by the Seven Celestial bodies then known as planets. FAITH, as the converse of arrogant Confidence, was represented by the Sun; HOPE, enemy of Avarice, by the Moon; CHARITY, opposed to Luxury, by Venus; FORCE, stronger than Rage, by Mars; PRUDENCE, the opposite of Indolence, by Mercury; TEMPERANCE, the antipodes of Gluttony, by Saturn; and JUSTICE, the opposite of Envy, by Jupiter.
The Kabalistic book of the Apocalypse is represented as closed with Seven Seals. In it we find the Seven genii of the Ancient Mythologies; and the doctrine concealed under its emblems is the pure Kabala, already lost by the Pharisees at the advent of the Saviour. The pictures that follow in this wondrous epic are so many pantacles, of which the numbers 3, 4, 7, and 12 are the keys.
The Cherub, or symbolic bull, which Moses places at the gate of the Edenic world, holding a blazing sword, is a Sphinx, with the body of a bull and a human head; the old Assyrian Sphinx whereof the combat and victory of Mithras were the hieroglyphic analysis. This armed Sphinx represents the law of the Mystery, which keeps watch at the door of initiation, to repulse the Profane. It also represents the grand Magical Mystery, all the elements whereof the number 7 expresses, still without giving its last word. This “unspeakable word” of the Sages of the school of Alexandria, this word, which the Hebrew Kabalists wrote; יהוה [IHUH], and translated by אראריתא, [ARARITA,] so expressing the threefoldness of the Secondary Principle, the dualism of the middle ones, and the Unity as well of the first Principle as of the end; and also the junction of the number 3 with the number 4 in a word composed of four letters, but formed of seven by one triplicate and two repeated,–this word is pronounced Ararita.
The vowels in the Greek language are also Seven in number, and were used to designate the Seven planets.
Tsadok or Sydyc was the Supreme God in Phœnicia. His Seven Sons were probably the Seven Cabiri; and he was the Heptaktis, the God of Seven Rays.
Kronos, the Greek Saturn, Philo makes Sanchoniathon say, had six sons, and by Astarte Seven daughters, the Titanides. The Persians adored Ahura Masda or Ormuzd and the Six Amshaspands, the first three of whom were Lords of the Empires of Light, Fire, and Splendor; the Babylonians, Bal and the Gods; the Chinese, Shangti, and the Six Chief Spirits; and the Greeks, Kronos, and the Six great Male Gods, his progeny, Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo, Arēs, Hēphaistos, and Hermes; while the female deities were also Seven: Rhea, wife of Kronos, Hērē, Athēnē, Artemis, Aphroditē, Hestia, and Dēmētēi. In the Orphic Theogony, Gaia produced the fourteen Titans, Seven male and Seven female, Kronos being the most potent of the males; and as the number Seven appears in these, nine by threes, or the triple triangle, is found in the three Mœraê or Fates, the three Centimanēs, and the three Cyclopēs, offspring of Ouranos and Gaia, or Heaven and Earth.
The metals, like the colors, were deemed to be Seven in number, and a metal and color were assigned to each planet. Of
the metals, gold was assigned to the Sun and silver to the Moon.
The palace of Deioces in Ecbatana had Seven circular walls of different colors, the two innermost having their battlements covered respectively with silvering and gilding.
And the Seven Spheres of Borsippa were represented by the Seven Stories, each of a different color, of the tower or truncated pyramid of Bel at Babylon.
Pharaoh saw in his dream, which Joseph interpreted, Seven ears of wheat on one stalk, full and good, and after them Seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the East wind; and the Seven thin ears devoured the Seven good ears; and Joseph interpreted these to mean Seven years of plenty succeeded by Seven years of famine.
Connected with this Ebn Hesham relates that a flood of rain laid bare to view a sepulchre in Yemen, in which lay a woman having on her neck Seven collars of pearls, and on her hands and feet bracelets and ankle-rings and armlets, Seven on each, with an inscription on a tablet showing that, after attempting in vain to purchase grain of Joseph, she, Tajah, daughter of Dzu Shefar, and her people, died of famine.
Hear again the words of an adept, who had profoundly studied the mysteries of science, and wrote, as the Ancient Oracles spoke, in enigmas; but who knew that the theory of mechanical forces and of the materiality of the most potent agents of Divinity, explains nothing, and ought to satisfy no one!
Through the veil of all the hieratic and mystic allegories of the ancient dogmas, under the seal of all the sacred writings, in the ruins of Nineveh or Thebes, on the worn stones of the ancient temples, and on the blackened face of the sphinx of Assyria or Egypt, in the monstrous or marvellous pictures which the sacred pages of the Vedas translate for the believers of India, in the strange emblems of our old books of alchemy, in the ceremonies of reception practised by all the mysterious Societies, we find the traces of a doctrine, everywhere the same, and everywhere carefully concealed. The occult philosophy seems to have been the nurse or the godmother of all religions, the secret lever of all the intellectual forces, the key of all divine obscurities, and the absolute Queen of Society, in the ages when it was exclusively reserved for the education of the Priests and Kings.
It had reigned in Persia with the Magi, who perished one day, as the masters of the world had perished, for having abused their power. It had endowed India with the most marvellous traditions, and an incredible luxury of poetry, grace, and terror in its emblems: it had civilized Greece by the sounds of the lyre of Orpheus: it hid the principles of all the sciences, and of the whole progression of the human spirit, in the audacious calculations of Pythagoras: fable teemed with its miracles; and history, when it undertook to judge of this unknown power, confounded itself with fable: it shook or enfeebled empires by its oracles; made tyrants turn pale on their thrones, and ruled over all minds by means of curiosity or fear. To this science, said the crowd, nothing is impossible; it commands the elements, knows the language of the planets, and controls the movements of the stars; the moon, at its voice, falls, reeking with blood, from Heaven; the dead rise upright on their graves, and shape into fatal words the wind that breathes through their skulls. Controller of Love or Hate, this science can at pleasure confer on human hearts Paradise or Hell: it disposes at will of all forms, and distributes beauty or deformity as it pleases: it changes in turn, with the rod of Circe, men into brutes and animals into men: it even disposes of Life or of Death, and can bestow on its adepts riches by the transmutation of metals, and immortality by its quintessence and elixir, compounded of gold and light.
This is what magic had been, from Zoroaster to Manes, from Orpheus to Apollonius Thyaneus; when positive Christianity, triumphing over the splendid dreams and gigantic aspirations of the school of Alexandria, publicly crushed this philosophy with its anathemas, and compelled it to become more occult and more mysterious than ever.
At the bottom of magic, nevertheless, was science, as at the bottom of Christianity there was love; and in the Evangelic Symbols we see the incarnate WORD adored in its infancy by three magi whom a star guides (the ternary and the sign of the microcosm), and receiving from them gold frankincense, and myrrh; another mysterious ternary, under the emblem whereof are allegorically contained the highest secrets of the Kabala.
Christianity should not have hated magic; but human ignorance always fears the unknown. Science was obliged to conceal itself, to avoid the impassioned aggressions of a blind love. It enveloped itself in new hieroglyphs, concealed its efforts, disguised its hopes. Then was created the jargon of alchemy, a continual deception for the vulgar herd, greedy of gold, and a living language for the true disciples of Hermes alone.
Resorting to Masonry, the alchemists there invented Degrees, and partly unveiled their doctrine to their Initiates; not by the language of their receptions, but by oral instruction afterward; for their rituals, to one who has not the key, are but incomprehensible and absurd jargon.
Among the sacred books of the Christians are two works which the infallible church does not pretend to understand, and never attempts to explain,–the prophecy of Ezekiel and the Apocalypse; two cabalistic clavicules, reserved, no doubt, in Heaven, for the exposition of the Magian kings; closed with Seven seals for all faithful believers; and perfectly clear to the unbeliever initiated in the occult sciences.
For Christians, and in their opinion, the scientific and magical clavicules of Solomon are lost. Nevertheless, it is certain that, in the domain of intelligence governed by the WORD, nothing that is written is lost. Only those things which men cease to understand no longer exist for them, at least as WORD; then they enter into the domain of enigmas and mystery.
The mysterious founder of the Christian Church was saluted in His cradle by the three Magi, that is to say by the hieratic ambassadors from the three parts of the known world, and from the three analogical worlds of the occult philosophy.
In the school of Alexandria, Magic and Christianity almost take each other by the hand under the auspices of Ammonius Saccos and Plato. The dogma of Hermes is found almost entire in the writings attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite. Synesius traces the plan of a treatise on dreams, which was subsequently to be commented on by Cardan, and composes hymns which might serve for the liturgy of the Church of Swedenborg, if a church of illuminati could have a liturgy.
To this epoch of ardent abstractions and impassioned logomachies belongs the philosophical reign of Julian, an illuminatus and Initiate of the first order, who believed in the unity of God and the universal Dogma of the Trinity, and regretted the loss of nothing of the old world but its magnificent symbols and too graceful images. He was no Pagan, but a Gnostic, infected with the allegories of Grecian polytheism, and whose misfortune it was to find the name of Jesus Christ less sonorous than that of Orpheus.
We may be sure that so soon as Religion and Philosophy become distinct departments, the mental activity of the age is in advance of its Faith; and that, though habit may sustain the latter for a time, its vitality is gone.
The dunces who led primitive Christianity astray, by substituting faith for science, reverie for experience, the fantastic for the reality; and the inquisitors who for so many ages waged against Magism a war of extermination, have succeeded in shrouding in darkness the ancient discoveries of the human mind; so that we now grope in the dark to find again the key of the phenomena of nature. But all natural phenomena depend on a single and immutable law, represented by the philosophal stone and its symbolic form, which is that of a cube. This law, expressed in the Kabala by the number 4, furnished the Hebrews with all the mysteries of their divine Tetragram.
Everything is contained in that word of four letters. It is the Azot of the Alchemists, the Thot of the Bohemians, the Taro of the Kabalists. It supplies to the Adept the last word of the human Sciences, and the Key of the Divine Power: but he alone understands how to avail himself of it who comprehends the necessity of never revealing it. If Œdipus, in place of slaying the Sphynx, had conquered it, and driven it into Thebes harnessed to his chariot, he would have been King, without incest, calamities, or exile. If Psyche, by submission and caresses, had persuaded Love to reveal himself, she would never have lost him. Love is one of the mythological images of the grand secret and the grand agent, because it expresses at once an action and a passion, a void and a plenitude, an arrow and a wound. The Initiates ought to understand this, and, lest the profane should overhear, Masonry never says too much.
When Science had been overcome in Alexandria by the fanaticism of the murderers of Hypatia, it became Christian, or, rather, it concealed itself under Christian disguises, with Ammonius, Synosius, and the author of the books of Dionysius the Areopagite. Then it was necessary to win the pardon of miracles by the appearances of superstition, and of science by a language unintelligible. Hieroglyphic writing was revived, and pantacles and characters were invented, that summed up a whole doctrine in a sign, a whole series of tendencies and revelations in a word. What was the object of the aspirants to knowledge? They sought for the secret of the great work, or the Philosophal Stone, or the perpetual motion, or the squaring of the circle, or the universal medicine; formulas which often saved them from persecution and general ill-will, by exposing them to the charge of folly; and each of which expressed one of the forces of the grand magical secret. This lasted until the time of the Roman de la Rose, which also expresses the mysterious and magical meaning of the poem of Dante, borrowed from the High Kabalah, that immense and concealed source of the universal philosophy.
It is not strange that man knows but little of the powers of the human will, and imperfectly appreciates them; since he knows nothing as to the nature of the will and its mode of operation. That his own will can move his arm, or compel another to obey him; that his thoughts, symbolically expressed by the signs of writing, can influence and lead other men, are mysteries as incomprehensible to him, as that the will of Deity could effect the creation of a Universe.
The powers of the will are as yet chiefly indefinite and unknown. Whether a multitude of well-established phenomena are to be ascribed to the power of the will alone, or to magnetism or some other natural agent, is a point as yet unsettled; but it is agreed by all that a concentrated effort of the will is in every case necessary to success.
That the phenomena are real is not to be doubted, unless credit is no longer to be given to human testimony; and if they are real, there is no reason for doubting the exercise heretofore, by many adepts, of the powers that were then termed magical. Nothing is better vouched for than the extraordinary performances of the Brahmins. No religion is supported by stronger testimony; nor has any one ever even attempted to explain what may well be termed their miracles.
How far, in this life, the mind and soul can act without and in-dependently of the body, no one as yet knows. That the will can act at all without bodily contact, and the phenomena of dreams, are mysteries that confound the wisest and most learned, whose explanations are but a Babel of words.
Man as yet knows little of the forces of nature. Surrounded, controlled, and governed by them, while he vainly thinks himself independent, not only of his race, but the universal nature and her infinite manifold forces, he is the slave of these forces, unless he becomes their master. He can neither ignore their existence nor be simply their neighbor.
There is in nature one most potent force, by means whereof a single man, who could possess himself of it, and should know how to direct it, could revolutionize and change the face of the world.
This force was known to the ancients. It is a universal agent, whose Supreme law is equilibrium; and whereby, if science can but learn how to control it, it will be possible to change the order of the Seasons, to produce in night the phenomena of day, to send a thought in an instant round the world, to heal or slay at a distance, to give our words universal success, and make them reverberate everywhere.
This agent, partially revealed by the blind guesses of the disciples of Mesmer, is precisely what the Adepts of the middle ages called the elementary matter of the great work. The Gnostics held that it composed the igneous body of the Holy Spirit; and it was adored in the secret rites of the Sabbat or the Temple, under the hieroglyphic figure of Baphomet or the hermaphroditic goat of Mendes.
There is a Life-Principle of the world, a universal agent, wherein are two natures and a double current, of love and wrath. This ambient fluid penetrates everything. It is a ray detached from the glory of the Sun, and fixed by the weight of the atmosphere and the central attraction. It is the body of the Holy Spirit, the universal Agent, the Serpent devouring his own tail. With this electro-magnetic ether, this vital and luminous caloric, the ancients and the alchemists were familiar. Of this agent, that phase of modern ignorance termed physical science talks incoherently, knowing naught of it save its effects; and theology might apply to it all its pretended definitions of spirit. Quiescent, it is appreciable by no human sense; disturbed or in movement, none can explain its mode of action; and to term it a “fluid,” and speak of its “currents,” is but to veil a profound ignorance under a cloud of words.
Force attracts force, life attracts life, health attracts health. It is a law of nature.
If two children live together, and still more if they sleep together, and one is feeble and the other strong, the strong will absorb the feeble, and the latter will perish.
In schools, some pupils absorb the intellect of the others, and in every circle of men some one individual is soon found, who possesses himself of the wills of the others.
Enthralments by currents is very common; and one is carried away by the crowd, in morals as in physics. The human will has an almost absolute power in determining one’s acts; and every external demonstration of a will has an influence on external things.
Tissot ascribed most maladies to disorders of the will, or the perverse influences of the wills of others. We become subject to the wills of others by the analogies of our inclinations, and still more by those of our defects. To caress the weaknesses of an individual, is to possess ourself of him, and make of him an instrument in the order of the same errors or depravations. But when two natures, analogical in defects, are subordinated one to the other, there is effected a kind of substitution of the stronger instead of the weaker, and a genuine imprisonment of one mind by the other. Often the weaker struggles, and would fain revolt; and then falls lower than ever in servitude.
We each have some dominant defect, by which the enemy can grasp us. In some it is vanity, in others indolence, in most egotism. Let a cunning and evil spirit possess himself of this, and you are lost. Then you become, not foolish, nor an idiot, but positively a lunatic, the slave of an impulse from without. You have an instinctive horror for everything that could restore you to reason, and will not even listen to representations that contravene your insanity.
Miracles are the natural effects of exceptional causes.
The immediate action of the human will on bodies, or at least this action exercised without visible means, constitutes a miracle in the physical order.
The influence exercised on wills or intellects, suddenly or within a given time, and capable of taking captive the thoughts, changing the firmest resolutions, paralyzing the most violent passions, constitutes a miracle in the moral order.
The common error in relation to miracles is, to regard them as effects without causes; as contradictions of nature; as sudden fictions of the Divine imagination; and men do not reflect that a single miracle of this sort would break the universal harmony and re-plunge the Universe into Chaos.
There are miracles impossible to God Himself: absurd miracles are so. If God could be absurd for a single instant, neither He nor the Universe would exist an instant afterward. To expect of the Divine Free-Will an effect whose cause is unacknowledged or does not exist, is what is termed tempting God. It is to precipitate one’s self into the void.
God acts by His works: in Heaven, by angels; on earth, by men.
In the heaven of human conceptions, it is humanity that creates God; and men think that God has made them in His image, because they make Him in theirs.
The domain of man is all corporeal nature, visible on earth; and if he does not rule the planets or the stars, he can at least calculate their movement, measure their distances, and identify his will with their influence: he can modify the atmosphere, act to a certain point on the seasons, cure and afflict with sickness other men, preserve life and cause death.
The absolute in reason and will is the greatest power which it is given to men to attain; and it is by means of this power that what the multitude admires under the name of miracles, are effected.
POWER is the wise use of the will, which makes Fatality itself serve to accomplish the purposes of Sages.
Omnipotence is the most absolute Liberty; and absolute Liberty cannot exist without a perfect equilibrium; and the columns JACHIN and BOAZ are also the unlimited POWER and SPLENDOR OF PERFECTION of the Deity, the seventh and eighth SEPHIROTH of the Kabalah, from whose equilibrium result the eternal permanence and Stability of His plans and works, and of that perfect Success and undivided, unlimited Dominion, which are the ninth and tenth SEPHIROTH, and of which the Temple of Solomon, in its stately symmetry, erected without the sound of any tool of metal being heard, is to us a symbol. “For Thine,” says the Most Perfect of Prayers, “is the DOMINION, the POWER, and the GLORY, during all the ages! Amen!”
The ABSOLUTE is the very necessity of BEING, the immutable law of Reason and of Truth. It is THAT WHICH IS. BUT THAT WHICH IS is in some sort before HE WHO IS. God Himself is not without a reason of existence. He does not exist accidentally. He could not not have been. His Existence, then, is necessitated, is necessary. He can exist only in virtue of a Supreme and inevitable REASON. That REASON, then, is THE ABSOLUTE; for it is in IT we must believe, if we would that our faith should have a reasonable and solid basis. It has been said in our times, that God is a Hypothesis; but Absolute Reason is not one: it is essential to Existence.
Saint Thomas said, “A thing is not just because God wills it, BUT GOD WILLS IT BECAUSE IT IS JUST.” If he had deduced all the consequences of this fine thought, he would have discovered the true Philosopher’s Stone; the magical elixir, to convert all the trials of the world into golden mercies. Precisely as it is a necessity for God to BE, so it is a necessity for Him to be just, loving, and merciful. He cannot be unjust, cruel, merciless. He cannot repeal the law of right and wrong, of merit and demerit; for the moral laws are as absolute as the physical laws. There are impossible things. As it is impossible to make two and two be five and not four; as it is impossible to make a thing be and not be at the same time; so it is impossible for the Deity to make crime a merit, and love and gratitude crimes. So, too, it was impossible to make Man perfect, with his bodily senses and appetites, as it was to make his nerves susceptible of pleasure and not also of pain.
Therefore, according to the idea of Saint Thomas, the moral laws are the enactments of the Divine WILL, only because they are the decisions of the Absolute WISDOM and REASON, and the Revelations of the Divine NATURE. In this alone consists the right of Deity to enact them; and thus only do we attain the certainty in Faith that the Universe is one Harmony.
To believe in the Reason of God, and in the God of Reason, is to make Atheism impossible. It is the Idolaters who have made the Atheists.
Analogy gives the Sage all the forces of Nature. It is the key of the Grand Arcanum, the root of the Tree of Life, the science of Good and Evil.
The Absolute, is REASON. Reason IS, by means of Itself. It IS BECAUSE IT IS, and not because we suppose it. IT IS, where nothing exists; but nothing could possibly exist without IT. Reason is Necessity, Law, the Rule of all Liberty, and the direction of every Initiative. If God IS, HE IS by Reason. The conception of an Absolute Deity, outside of, or independent of, Reason, is the IDOL of Black Magic, the PHANTOM of the Dæmon.
The Supreme Intelligence is necessarily rational. God, in philosophy, can be no more than a Hypothesis; but a Hypothesis imposed by good sense on Human Reason. To personify the Absolute Reason, is to determine the Divine Ideal.
NECESSITY, LIBERTY, and REASON! Behold the great and Supreme Triangle of the Kabalists!
FATALITY, WILL, and POWER! Such is the magical ternary which, in human things, corresponds with the Divine Triangle.
FATALITY is the inevitable linking together, in succession, of effects and causes, in a given order.
WILL is the faculty that directs the forces of the Intellect, so as to reconcile the liberty of persons with the necessity of things.
The argument from these premises must be made by yourself. Each one of us does that. “Seek,” say the Holy Writings, “and ye shall find.” Yet discussion is not forbidden; and without doubt the subject will be fully treated of in your hearing hereafter. Affirmation, negation, discussion,–it is by these the truth is attained.
To explore the great Mysteries of the Universe and seek to solve its manifold enigmas, is the chief use of Thought, and constitutes the principal distinction between Man and the animals. Accordingly, in all ages the Intellect has labored to understand and explain to itself the Nature of the Supreme Deity.
That one Reason and one Will created and governed the Universe was too evident not to be at once admitted by the philosophers of all ages. It was the ancient religions that sought to multiply gods. The Nature of the One Deity, and the mode in which the Universe had its beginning, are questions that have always been the racks in which the human intellect has been tortured: and it is chiefly with these that the Kabalists have dealt.
It is true that, in one sense, we can have no actual knowledge of the Absolute Itself, the very Deity. Our means of obtaining what is commonly termed actual knowledge, are our senses only. If to see and feel be knowledge, we have none of our own Soul, of electricity, of magnetism. We see and feel and taste an acid or an alkali, and know something of the qualities of each; but it is only when we use them in combination with other substances, and learn their effects, that we really begin to know their nature. It is the combination and experiments of Chemistry that give as a knowledge of the nature and powers of most animal and vegetable substances. As these are cognizable by inspection by our senses, we may partially know them by that alone: but the Soul, either of ourself or of another, being beyond that cognizance, can only be known by the acts and words which are its effects. Magnetism and electricity, when at rest, are equally beyond the jurisdiction of the senses; and when they are in action, we see, feel, hear, taste, and smell only their effects. We do not know what they are, but only what they do. We can know the attributes of Deity only through His manifestations. To ask anything more, is to ask, not knowledge, but something else, for which we have no name. God is a Power; and we know nothing of any Power itself, but only its effects, results, and action, and what Reason teaches us by analogy;
In these later days, in laboring to escape from all material ideas in regard to Deity, we have so refined away our notions of GOD, as to have no idea of Him at all. In struggling to regard Him as a pure immaterial Spirit, we have made the word Spirit synonymous with nothing, and can only say that He is a Somewhat, with certain attributes, such as Power, Wisdom, and Intelligence. To compare Him to LIGHT, would now be deemed not only unphilosophical, but the equivalent of Atheism; and we find it necessary to excuse and pity the ancients for their inadequate and gross ideas of Deity, expressed in considering Him as the Light-Principle, the invisible essence or substance from which visible Light flows.
Yet our own holy writings continually speak of Him as Light; and therefore the Tsabeans and the Kabala may well be pardoned for doing the same; especially since they did not regard Him as the visible Light known to us, but as the Primordial Ether-Ocean from which light flows.
Before the creation, did the Deity dwell alone in the Darkness, or in the Light? Did the Light co-exist with Him, or was it created, after an eternity of darkness? and if it co-existed, was it an effluence from Him, filling all space as He also filled it, He and the Light at the same time filling the same place and every place?
MILTON says, expressing the Hebraic doctrine:
“Hail, Holy Light, offspring of Heaven first-born,
Or of th’ Eternal, co-eternal beam!
May I express thee unblamed, since God is Light.
And never but in unapproached Light
Dwelt from Eternity; dwelt then in Thee,
Bright effluence of bright Essence uncreate.”
“The LIGHT,” says the Book Omschim, or Introduction to the Kabala, “Supremest of all things, and most Lofty, and Limitless, and styled INFINITE, can be attained unto by no cogitation or speculation; and its VERY SELF is evidently withdrawn and removed beyond all intellection. It WAS, before all things whatever, produced, created, formed, and made by Emanation; and in it was neither Time, Head, or Beginning; since it always existed, and remains forever, without commencement or end.”
“Before the Emanations flowed forth, and created things were created, the Supreme Light was infinitely extended, and filled the whole WHERE; so that with reference to Light no vacuum could be affirmed, nor any unoccupied space; but the ALL was filled with that Light of the Infinite, thus extended, whereto in every regard was no end, inasmuch as nothing was, except that extended Light, which, with a certain single and simple equality, was everywhere like unto itself.”
AINSOPH is called Light, says the Introduction to the Sohar, because it is impossible to express it by any other word.
To conceive of God as an actuality, and not as a mere non-substance or name, which involved non-existence, the Kabala, like the Egyptians, imagined Him to be “a most occult Light,” AUR; not our material and visible Light, but the Substance out of which Light flows, the fire, as relative to its heat and flame. Of this Light or Ether, the Sun was to the Tsabeans the only manifestation or out-shining, and as such it was worshipped, and not as the type of dominion and power. God was the Phōs Noēton, the Light cognizable only by the Intellect, the Light-Principle, the Light-Ether, from which souls emanate, and to which they return.
Light, Fire, and Flame, with the Phœnicians, were the sons of Kronos. They are the Trinity in the Chaldæan Oracles, the AOR of the Deity, manifested in flame, that issues out of the invisible Fire.
In the first three Persian Amshaspands, Lords of LIGHT, FIRE, and SPLENDOR, we recognize the AOR, ZOHAR, and ZAYO, Light, Splendor, and Brightness, of the Kabalah. The first of these is termed AOR MUPALA, Wonderful or Hidden Light, unrevealed, undisplayed–which is KETHER, the first Emanation or Sephirah, the Will of Deity: the second is NESTAR, Concealed–which is HAKEMAH, the second Sephirah, or the Intellectual Potence of the Deity: and the third is METANOTSATS, coruscating–which is BINAH, the third Sephirah, or the intellectual producing capacity. In other words, they are THE VERY SUBSTANCE of light, in the Deity: Fire, which is that light, limited and furnished with attributes, so that it can be revealed, but yet remains unrevealed, and its splendor or out-shining, or the light that goes out from the fire.
Masonry is a search after Light. That search leads us directly back, as you see, to the Kabalah. In that ancient and little understood medley of absurdity and philosophy, the Initiate will find the source of many doctrines; and may in time come to understand the Hermetic philosophers, the Alchemists, all the Anti-papal Thinkers of the Middle Ages, and Emanuel Swedenborg.
The Hansavati Rich, a celebrated Sanscrit Stanza, says: “He is Hansa (the Sun), dwelling in light; Vasu, the atmosphere dwelling in the firmament; the invoker of the gods (Agni), dwelling on the altar (i.e., the altar fire); the guest (of the worshipper), dwelling in the house (the domestic fire); the dweller amongst men (as consciousness); the dweller in the most excellent orb, (the Sun); the dweller in truth; the dweller in the sky (the air); born in the waters, in the rays of light, in the verity (of manifestation), in the Eastern mountains; the Truth (itself).”
“In the beginning,” says a Sanscrit hymn, “arose the Source of golden light. He was the only born Lord of all that is. He established the earth and the sky. Who is the God to Whom we shall offer our sacrifice?”
“He who gives life, He who gives strength; Whose blessing all the bright gods desire; Whose shadow is immortality; Whose shadow is death; Who is the God, etc?”
“He through Whom the sky is bright and the earth for us; He through Whom the Heaven was established, nay, the highest Heaven; He who measured out the light in the air; Who is the God, etc?”
“He to Whom the Heaven and earth, standing firm by His will, look up trembling inwardly; He over Whom the rising sun shines forth; Who is the God, etc?”
“Wherever the mighty water-clouds went, where they placed the seed and lit the fire, thence arose He Who is the only life of the bright gods; Who is the God, etc?”
The WORD of God, said the Indian philosophy, is the universal ‘and invisible Light, cognizable by the senses, that emits its blaze in the Sun, Moon, Planets, and other Stars. Philo calls it the “Universal Light,” which loses a portion of its purity and splendor in descending from the intellectual to the sensible world, manifesting itself outwardly from the Deity; and the Kabalah represents that only so much of the Infinite Light flowed into the circular void prepared for creation within the Infinite Light and Wisdom, as could pass by a canal like a line or thread. The Sephiroth, emanating from the Deity, were the rays of His splendor.
The Chaldæan Oracles said: “The intellect of the Generator, stirred to action, out-spoke, forming within itself, by intellection, universals of every possible form and fashion, which issued out, flowing forth from the One Source . . . For Deity, impersonated as Dominion, before fabricating the manifold Universe, posited an intellected and unchangeable universal, the impression of the form whereof goes forth through the Universe; and that Universe, formed and fashioned accordingly, becomes visibly beautified in infinitely varying types and forms, the Source and fountain whereof is one. . . . Intellectual conceptions and forms from the Generative source, succeeding each other, considered in relation to ever-progressing Time, and intimately partaking of THE PRIMAL ETHER or FIRE; but yet all these Universals and Primal Types and Ideas flowed forth from, and are part of, the first Source of the Generative Power, perfect in itself.”
The Chaldæans termed the Supreme Deity ARAOR, Father of Light. From Him was supposed to flow the light above the world, which illuminates the heavenly regions. This Light or Fire was considered as the Symbol of the Divine Essence, extending itself to inferior spiritual natures. Hence the Chaldæan oracles say: “The Father took from Himself, and did not confine His proper fire within His intellectual potency:” . . “All things are begotten from one Fire.”
The Tsabeans held that all inferior spiritual beings were emanations from the Supreme Deity; and therefore Proclus says: “The progression of the gods is one and continuous, proceeding downward from the intelligible and latent unities, and terminating in the last partition of the Divine cause.”
It is impossible to speak clearly of the Divinity. Whoever attempts to express His attributes by the help of abstractions, confines himself to negatives, and at once loses sight of his ideas, in wandering through a wilderness of words. To heap Superlatives on Superlatives, and call Him best, wisest, greatest, is but to exaggerate qualities which- are found in man. That there exists one only God, and that He is a Perfect and Beneficent Being, Reason legitimately teaches us; but of the Divine Nature, of the Substance of the Deity, of the manner of His Existence, or of the mode of creation of His Universe, the human mind is inadequate to form any just conception. We can affix no clear ideas to Omnipotence, Omniscience, Infinity or Eternity; and we have no more right to attribute intelligence to Him, than any other mental quality of ourselves, extended indefinitely; or than we have to attribute our senses to Him, and our bodily organs, as the Hebrew writings do.
We satisfy ourselves with negativing in the Deity everything that constitutes existence, so far as we are capable of conceiving of existence. Thus He becomes to us logically nothing, Non-Ens. The Ancients saw no difference between that and Atheism, and sought to conceive of Him as something real. It is a necessity of Human Nature. The theological idea, or rather non-idea, of the Deity, is not shared or appreciated by the unlearned. To them, God will always be The Father Who is in Heaven, a Monarch on His Throne, a Being with human feelings and human sympathies, angry at their misdeeds, lenient if they repent, accessible to their supplications. It is the Humanity, far more than the Divinity, of Christ, that makes the mass of Christians worship Him, far more than they do the Father.
“The Light of the Substance of The Infinite,” is the Kabalistic expression. Christ was, according to Saint John, “the Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the. world”; and “that Light was the life of men.” “The Light shone in the darkness: and the darkness comprehended it not.”
The ancient ideas in respect to Light were perhaps quite as correct as our own. It does not appear that they ascribed to Light any of the qualities of matter. But modern Science defines it to be a flood of particles of matter, flowing or shot out from the Sun and Stars, and moving through space to come to us. On the theories of mechanism and force, what force of attraction here or repulsion at the Sun or at the most distant Star could draw or drive these impalpable, weightless, infinitely minute particles, appreciably by the Sense of Sight alone, so far through space? What has become of the immense aggregate of particles that have reached the earth since the creation? Have they increased its bulk? Why cannot chemistry detect and analyze them? If matter, why can they travel only in right lines?
No characteristic of matter belongs to Light, or Heat, or flame, or to Galvanism, Electricity, and Magnetism. The electric spark is light, and so is that produced by the flint, when it cuts off particles of steel. Iron, melted or heated, radiates light; and insects, infusoria, and decayed wood emit it. Heat is produced by friction and by pressure; to explain which, Science tells us of latent Caloric, thus representing it to us as existing without its only known distinctive quality. What quality of matter enables lightning, blazing from the Heavens, to rend the oak? What quality of matter enables it to make the circuit of the earth in a score of seconds?
Profoundly ignorant of the nature of these mighty agents of Divine Power, we conceal our ignorance by words that have no meaning; and we might well be asked why Light may not be an effluence from the Deity, as has been agreed by all the religions of all the Ages of the World.
All truly dogmatic religions have issued from the Kabalah and return to it: everything scientific and grand in the religious dreams of all the illuminati, Jacob Bœhme, Swedenborg, Saint-Martin, and others, is borrowed from the Kabalah; all the Masonic associations owe to it their Secrets and their Symbols.
The Kabalah alone consecrates the alliance of the Universal Reason and the Divine Word; it establishes, by the counterpoises of two forces apparently opposite, the eternal balance of being; it alone reconciles Reason with Faith, Power with Liberty, Science with Mystery; it has the keys of the Present, the Past, and the Future.
The Bible, with all the allegories it contains, expresses, in an incomplete and veiled manner only, the religious science of the Hebrews. The doctrine of Moses and the Prophets, identical at bottom with that of the ancient Egyptians, also had its outward meaning and its veils. The Hebrew books were written only to recall to memory the traditions; and they were written in Symbols unintelligible to the Profane. The Pentateuch and the prophetic poems were merely elementary books of doctrine, morals, or liturgy; and the hue secret and traditional philosophy was only written afterward, under veils still less transparent. Thus was a second Bible born, unknown to, or rather uncomprehended by, the Christians; a collection, they say, of monstrous absurdities; a monument, the adept says, wherein is everything that the genius of philosophy and that of religion have ever formed or imagined of the sublime; a treasure surrounded by thorns; a diamond concealed in a rough dark stone.
One is filled with admiration, on penetrating into the Sanctuary of the Kabalah, at seeing a doctrine so logical, so simple, and at the same time so absolute. The necessary union of ideas and signs, the consecration of the most fundamental realities by the primitive characters; the Trinity of Words, Letters, and Numbers; a philosophy simple as the alphabet, profound and infinite as the Word; theorems more complete and luminous than those of Pythagoras; a theology summed up by counting on one’s fingers; an Infinite which can be held in the hollow of an infant’s hand; ten ciphers, and twenty-two letters, a triangle, a square, and a circle,–these are all the elements of the Kabalah. These are the elementary principles of the written Word, reflection of that spoken Word that created the world!
This is the doctrine of the Kabalah, with which you will no doubt seek to make yourself acquainted, as to the Creation.
The Absolute Deity, with the Kabalists, has no name. The terms applied to Him are אור פּשוט, AOR PASOT, the Most Simple [or Pure] Light, “called, אין סוף, AYEN SOPH, or INFINITE, before any Emanation. For then there was no space or vacant place, but all was infinite Light.”
Before the Deity created any Ideal, any limited and intelligible Nature, or any form whatever, He was alone, and without form or similitude, and there could be no cognition or comprehension of Him in any wise. He was without Idea or Figure, and it is forbidden to form any Idea or Figure of Him, neither by the letter He (ה), nor by the letter Yōd (י), though these are contained in the Holy Name; nor by any other letter or point in the world.
But after He created this Idea [this limited and existing-in-intellection Nature, which the ten Numerations, SEPHIROTH or
Rays are], of the Medium, the First Man ADAM KADMON, He descended therein, that, by means of this Idea, He might be called by the name TETRAGRAMMATON; that created things might have cognition of Him, in His own likeness.
When the Infinite God willed to emit what were to flow forth, He contracted Himself in the centre of His light, in such manner that that most intense light should recede to a certain circumference, and on all sides upon itself. And this is the first contraction, and termed צמצם Tsemsum.
אדם קדמון, ADAM KADMON, the Primal or First Man, is the first Aziluthic emanant from the Infinite Light, immitted into the evacuated Space, and from which, afterward, all the other degrees and systems had their beginnings. It is. called the Adam prior to all the first. In it are imparted ten spherical numerations; and thereafter issued forth the rectilinear figure of a man in his sephirothic decade, as it were the diameter of the said circles; as it were the axis of these spheres, reaching from their highest point to their lowest; and from it depend all the systems.
But now, as the Infinite Light would be too excellent and great to be borne and endured, except through the medium of this Adam Kadmon, its most Secret Nature preventing this, its illuminating light had again to emanate in streams out of itself, by certain apertures, as it were, like windows, and which are termed the ears, eyes, nostrils, and mouth.
The light proceeding from this Adam Kadmon is indeed but one; but in proportion to its remoteness from the place of out-flowing, and to the grades of its descent, it is more dense.
From the word אצל, ATSIL, to emanate or flow forth, comes the word אצילות, ATSILOTH or Aziluth, Emanation, or the System of Emanants. When the primal space was evacuated, the surrounding Light of the Infinite, and the Light immitted into the void, did not touch each other; but the Light of the Infinite flowed into that void through a line or certain slender canal; and that Light is the Emanative and emitting Principle, or the out-flow and origin of Emanation: but the Light within the void is the emanant subordinate; and the two cohere only by means of the aforesaid line.
Aziluth means specifically and principally the first system of the four Olamoth [עלמות], worlds or systems; which is thence called the Aziluthic World.
The ten Sephiroth of the general Aziluthic system are ten Nekudoth or Points.
אינזף AINSOPH, AENSOPH, or AYENSOPH, is the title of the Cause of Causes, its meaning being “endless,” because there is no limit to Its loftiness, and nothing can comprehend it. Sometimes, also, the name is applied to KETHER, or the CROWN, the first emanation, because that is the Throne of the Infinite, that is, its first and highest Seat, than which none is higher, and because Ainsoph resides and is concealed therein: hence it rejoices in the same name.
Before that anything was, says the Emech Hammelech, He, of His mere will, proposed to Himself to make worlds . . . but at that time there was no vacant space for worlds; but all space was filled with the light of His Substance, which He had with fixed limits placed in the centre of Himself, and of the parts whereof, and wherein, He was thereafter to effect a folding together.
What then did the Lord of the Will, that most perfectly free Agent, do? By His own estimation, He measured off within His own Substance the width and length of a circular space to be made vacant, and wherein might be posited the worlds aforesaid; and of that Light which was included within the circle so measured, He compressed and folded over a certain portion . . . and that Light He lifted higher up, and so a place was left unoccupied by the Primal Light.
But yet was not this space left altogether empty of that Light; for the vestiges of the Primal Light still remained in the place where Itself had been; and they did not recede therefrom.
Before the Emanations out-flowed, and created things were created, the Supreme Light was infinitely extended, and filled the whole Where: nothing was, except that extended light, called AOR H’ AINSOPH, the Light of the non-finite.
When it came into the mind of the Extended to will to make worlds, and by forth-flowing to utter Emanations, and to emit as Light the perfection of His active powers, and of His aspects and attributes, which was the impelling cause of the creation of worlds; then that Light, in some measure compressed, receded in every direction from a particular central point, and on all sides of it drew back, and so a certain vacuum was left, called void space, its circumference everywhere equidistant from that point which was exactly in the centre of the space . . . a certain void place and space left in Mid-Infinite: a certain Where was thereby constituted wherein Emanations might BE, and the Created, the Fashioned and the Fabricated.
This world of the garmenting,–this circular vacant space, with the vestiges of the withdrawn light of the Infinite yet remaining, is the inmost garment, nearest to His substance; and to it belongs the name AOR PENAI-AL, Light of the Countenance of God.
An interspace surrounds this great circle, established between the light of the very substance, surrounding the circle on its outside, and the substance contained within the circle. This is called SPLENDOR EXCELSUS, in contradistinction to Simple Splendor.
This light “of the vestige of the garment,” is said to be, relatively to that of the vestige of the substance, like a point in the centre of a circle. This light, a point in the centre of the Great Light, is called Auir, Ether, or Space.
This Ether is somewhat more gross than the Light–not so Subtle–though not perceptible by the Senses–is termed the Primal Ether–extends everywhere; Philosophers call it the Soul of the World.
The Light so forth-shown from the Deity, cannot be said to be severed or diverse from Him. “It is flashed forth from Him, and yet all continues to be perfect unity . . . The Sephiroth, sometimes called the Persons of the Deity, are His rays, by which He is enabled most perfectly to manifest Himself.
The Introduction to the Book SONAR says:
The first compression was effected, in order that the Primal Light might be upraised, and a space become vacant. The second compression occurred when the vestiges of the removed Light remaining were compressed into points; and that compression was effected by means of the emotion of joy; the Deity rejoicing, it had already been said, on account of His Holy People, thereafter to come into being; and that joy being vehement, and a commotion and exhilaration in the Deity being caused by it, so that He flowed forth in His delight; and of this commotion an abstract power of judgment being generated, which is a collection of the letters generated by the points of the vestiges of Light left within the circle. For He writes the finite expressions, or limited manifestations of Himself upon the Book, in single letters.
Like as when water or fire, it had been said, is blown upon by the wind, it is wont to be greatly moved, and with flashes like lightning to smite the eyes, and gleam and coruscate hither and thither, even so The Infinite was moved within Himself, and shone and coruscated in that circle, from the centre outward and again to the centre: and that commotion we term exhilaration; and from that exhilaration, variously divided within Himself, was generated the potency of determining the fashioning of the letters.
Of that exhilaration, it had also been said, was generated the determination of forms, by which determination the Infinite determined them within Himself, as if by saying: “Let this Sphere be the appointed place, wherein let all worlds be created!”
He, by radiating and coruscating, effected the points, so that their sparkling should smite the eyes like lightning. Then He combined diversely the single points, until letters were fashioned thereof, in the similitude and image of those wherewith THE BLESSED had set forth the decrees of His Wisdom.
It is not possible to attain to an understanding of the creation of man, except by the mystery of letters; and in these worlds of The Infinite is nothing, except the letters of the Alphabet and their combinations. All the worlds are Letters and Names; but He Who is the Author of all, has no name.
This world of the covering [or garment–vestimenti], [that is, the circular vacant space, with the vestiges of the removed Light of The Infinite still remaining after the first contraction and compression], is the inmost covering, nearest to His substance; and to this covering belongs the general name AUR PENIAL, Light of the Countenance of God: by which we are to understand the Light of The Substance.
And after this covering was effected, He contracted it, so as to lift up the lower moiety; . . . and this is the third contraction; and in this manner He made vacant a space for the worlds, which had not the capacity to use the great Light of the covering, the end whereof was lucid and excellent as its beginning. And so [by drawing up the lower half and half the letters], are made the Male and Female, that is, the anterior and posterior adhering mutually to one another.
The vacant space effected by this retraction is called AUIR KADMON, the PRIMAL SPACE: for it was the first of all Spaces; nor was it allowable to call it covering, which is AUR PENI-BAL, the Light of the Countenance of God.
The vestiges of the Light of the Garment still remained there. And this world of the garment has a name that includes all things, which is the name IHUH. Before the world of the vacant space was created, HE was, and His Name, and they alone; that is, AINSOPH and His garmenting.
The EMECH HAMMELECH says again:
The lower half of the garment [by the third retraction], was left empty of the light of the garment. But the vestiges of that light remained in the place so vacated . . . and this garment is called SHEKINAH, God in-dwelling; that is, the place where יה Yōd He, of the anterior [or male], and וה Vav He, of the posterior [or female], combinations of letters dwelt.
This vacant space was square, and is called the Primal Space; and in Kabalah it is called Auira Kadmah, or Rasimu Ailah, The Primal Space, or The Sublime Vestige. It is the vestige of the Light of the Garment, with which is intermingled somewhat of the vestige of the Very Substance. It is called Primal Ether, but not void Space. . . The Light of the Vestige still remains in the place it occupied, and adheres there, like somewhat spiritual, of extreme tenuity.
In this Ether are two Lights; that is, the Light of the SUBSTANCE, which was taken away, and that of the Garment. There is a vast difference between the two; for that of the Vestige of the Garment is, relatively to that of the Vestige of the Substance, like a point in the centre of a circle. And as the only appropriate name for the Light of the Vestige of Ainsoph is AUR, Light, therefore the Light of the Vestige of the Garment could not be called by that name; and so we term it a point, that is, Yōd [’ or י], which is that point in the centre of Light . . . and this Light, a point in the centre of the Great Light, is called Auir, Ether, or Space.
This Ether is somewhat more gross than The Light . . . . not so subtle, though not perceptible by the senses . . . is termed the Primal Ether . . . extends everywhere; whence the Philosophers call it The Soul of the World . . . Light is visible, though not perceptible. This Ether is neither perceptible nor visible.
The Introduction to the Book Sohar continues, in the Section of the Letter Yōd, etc:
Worlds could not be framed in this Primal Ether, on account of its extreme tenuity and the excess of Light; and also because
in it remained the vital Spirit of the Vestige of the Light Ainsoph, and that of the Vestige of the Light of the Garment; whereby such manifestation was prevented.
Wherefore HE directed the letter Yōd, since it was not so brilliant as the Primal Ether, to descend, and take to itself the light remaining in the Primal Ether, and return above, with that Vestige which so impeded the manifestation; which Yōd did.
It descended below five times, to remove the vital Spirit of the Vestige of the Light Ainsoph; and the Vestige of the Light and vital Spirit of the Garment from the Sphere of Splendor, so as to make of it ADAM, called KADMON. And by its return, manifestation is effected in the space below, and a Vestige of the Sublime Brilliance yet remains there, existing as a Spherical Shape, and termed in the Sohar simply Tehiru, that is, Splendor; and it is styled The First Matter. . . . it being, as it were, vapor, and, as it were, smoke. And as smoke is formless, not comprehended under any fixed definite form, so this Sphere is a formless somewhat, since it seems to be somewhat that is spherical, and yet is not limited.
The letter Yōd, while adhering to the Shekinah, had adhering to himself the Light of the Shekinah, though his light was not so great as that of the Shekinah. But when he descended, he left that light of his own below, and the Splendor consisted of it. After which there was left in Yōd only a vestige of that light, inasmuch as he could not re-ascend to the Shekinah and adhere to it. Wherefore The Holy and Blessed directed the letter He [ה, the female letter], to communicate to Yōd of her Light; and sent him forth, to descend and share with that light in the Splendor aforesaid . . . and when he re-descended into the Sphere of Splendor, he diffused abroad in it the Light communicated to him by the letter He.
And when he again ascended he left behind him the productive light of the letter He, and thereof was constituted another Sphere, within the Sphere of Splendor; which lesser Sphere is termed in the Sohar KETHER AILAH, CORONA SUMMA, The Supreme Crown, and also ATIKA DI ATIKIM, Antiquus Antiquum, The Ancient of Ancients, and even AILIT H’ AILIT, Causa Causarum, the Cause of Causes. But the Crown is very far smaller than the Sphere of Splendor, so that within the latter an immense unoccupied place and space is still left.
The BETH ALOHIM says:
Before the Infinite God, the Supreme and First Good, formed objectively within Himself a particular conception, definite, limited, and the object of intellection, and gave form and shape to an intellectual conception and image. HE was alone, companionless, without form or similitude, utterly without Ideal or Figure . . . It is forbidden to make of Him any figure whatever, by any image in the world, neither by the letter He nor by the letter Yōd, nor by any other letter or point in the world.
But after He had formed this Idea, the particular conception, limited and intelligible, which the Ten Numerations are, of the medium of transmission, Adam Kadmon, the Primal or Supreme Man, He by that medium descended, and may, through that Idea, be called by the name IHUH, and so created things have cognizance of Him, by means of His proper likeness.
Woe unto him who makes God to be like unto any mode or attribute whatever, even were it to one of His own; and still more if he make Him like unto the Sons of Men, whose elements are earthly, and so are consumed and perish!
There can be no conception had of Him, except in so far as He manifests Himself, in exercising dominion by and through some attribute . . . Abstracted from this, there can be no attribute, conception, or ideal of Him. He is comparable only to the Sea, filling some great reservoir, its bed in the earth, for example; wherein it fashions for itself a certain concavity, so that thereby we may begin to compute the dimensions of the Sea itself.
For example, the Spring and Source of the Ocean is a somewhat, which is one. If from this Source or Spring there issues forth a certain fountain, proportioned to the space occupied by the Sea in that hemispherical reservoir, such as is the letter Yōd, there the Source of Spring is the first somewhat, and the fountain that flows forth from it is the second. Then let there be made a great reservoir, as by excavation, and let this be called the Ocean, and we have the third thing, a vessel [Vas]. Now let this great reservoir be divided into seven beds of rivers, that is, into seven oblong reservoirs, so that from this ocean the waters may flow forth in- seven rivers; and the Source, Fountain, and Ocean thus make ten in all.
The Cause of Causes made ten Numerations, and called the Source of Spring KETHER, Corona, the Crown, in which the idea of circularity is involved, for there is no end to the out-flow of Light; and therefore He called this, like Himself, endless; for this also, like Him, has no similitude or configuration, nor hath it any vessel or receptacle wherein it may be contained, or by means whereof any possible cognizance can be had of it.
After thus forming the Crown, He constituted a certain smaller receptacle, the letter Yōd, and filled it from that source; and this is called “The Fountain gushing with Wisdom,” and, manifested in this, He called Himself WISE, and the vessel He called HAKEMAH, Wisdom, Sapientia.
Then He also constituted a great reservoir, which He called the Ocean; and to it He gave the name of BINAH, Understanding, Intelligentia. In this He characterized Himself as Intelligent or Conceiver. HE is indeed the Absolutely Wise and Intelligent, but Hakemah is not Absolute Wisdom of itself, but is wise by means of Binah, who fills Himself from it, and if this supply were taken from it, would be dry and unintelligent.
And thereupon seven precious vessels become, to which are given the following names: GEDULAH, Magnificence or Benignity [or KHASED, Mercy]; GEBURAH, Austerity, Rigor or Severity; TEPHARETH, Beauty; NETSAKH, Victory; HŌD, Glory; YESOD, Foundation or Basis; and MALAKOTH, Rule, Reign, Royalty, Dominion or Power. And in GEDULAH He took the character of Great and Benignant; in GEBURAH, of Severe; in TEPHARETH, of Beautiful; in NETSAKH, of Overcoming; in HŌD, of OUR GLORIOUS AUTHOR; in YESOD, of Just, by Yesod all vessels and worlds being upheld; and in MALAKOTH He applied to Himself the title of King.
These numerations or Sephiroths are held in the Kabala to have been originally contained in each other; that is, Kether contained the nine others, Hakemah contained Binah, and Binah contained the last seven.
For all things, says the commentary of Rabbi Jizchak Lorja, in a certain most abstruse manner, consist or reside and are contained in Binah, and it projects them, and sends them downward, species by species, into the several worlds of Emanation, Creation, Formation, and Fabrication; all whereof are derived from what are above them, and are termed their out-flowings; for, from the potency which was their state there, they descend into actuality.
The INTRODUCTION says:
It is said in many places in the Sohar, that all things that emanate or are created have their root above. Hence also the Ten Sephiroth have their root above, in the world of the garment, with the very Substance of HIM. And AINSOPH had full consciousness and appreciation, prior to their actual existence, of all the Grades and Impersonations contained unmanifested within Himself, with regard to the essence of each, and its domination then in potency . . . When He came to the Sephirah of the Impersonation Malakoth, which He then contained hidden within Himself, He concluded within Himself that therein worlds should be framed; since the scale of the first nine Sephiroths was so constituted, that it was neither fit nor necessary for worlds to be framed from them; for all the attributes of these nine Superior Sephiroth could be assigned to Himself, even if He should never operate outwardly; but Malakoth, which is Empire or Dominion, could not be attributed to Him, unless He ruled over other Existences; whence from the point Malakoth He produced all the worlds into actuality.
These circles are ten in number. Originated by points, they expanded in circular shape. Ten Circles, under the mystery of the ten Sephiroth, and between them ten Spaces; whence it appears that the sphere of Splendor is in the centre of the space Malakoth of the First Occult Adam.
The First Adam, in the ten circles above the Splendor, is called the First occult Adam; and in each of these spaces are formed many thousand worlds. The first Adam is involved in the Primal Ether, and is the analogue of the world Binah.
Again the Introduction repeats the first and second descent of Yōd into the vacated space, to make the light there less great and subtile; the constitution of the Tehiru, Splendor, from the light left behind there by him; the communication of Light to him by the female letter He; the emission by him of that Light, within the sphere of Splendor, and the formation thereof, within the sphere, “of a certain sphere called the Supreme Crown,” Corona Summa, KETHER, “wherein were contained, in potence, all the remaining Numerations, so that they were not distinguishable from it. Precisely as in man exist the four elements, in potence specifically undistinguishable, so in this Corona were in potence all the ten Numerations, specifically indistinguishable.” This Crown, it is added, was called, after the restoration, The Cause of Causes, and the Ancient of the Ancients.
The point, Kether, adds the Introduction, was the aggregate of all the Ten . . . when it first emanated, it consisted of all the Ten; and the Light which extended from the Emanative Principle simultaneously flowed into it; and beheld the two Universals [that is, the Unities out of which manifoldness flows; as, for example, the idea, within the Deity, of Humanity as a Unit, out of which the individuals were to flow], the Vessel or Receptacle containing this immitted Light, and the Light Itself within it. And this Light is the Substance of the point Kether; for the WILL of God is the Soul of all things that are.
The Ainsophic Light, it had said, was infinite in every direction, and without end or limit. To prevent it from flowing into and re-filling the quasi-vacant space, occupied by an infinitely less Splendor, a partition between the greater and lesser Splendor was necessary; and this partition, the boundary of the sphere of Splendor, and a like one bounding the sphere Kether, were called Vessels or Receptacles, containing, including, and enclosing within themselves the light of the sphere. Imagine a sea of pellucid water, and in the centre of it a spherical mass of denser and darker water. The outer surface of this sphere, or its limits every way, is the vessel containing it. The Kabalah regards the vessels “as by their nature somewhat opaque, and not so splendid as the light they enclose.”
The contained Light is the Soul of the vessels, and is active in them, like the Human Soul in the human body. The Light of the Emanative Principle [Ainsoph] inheres in the vessels, as their Life, internal Light, and Soul. . . Kether emanated, with its Very Substance, at the same time as Substance and Vessel, in like manner as the flame is annexed to the live coal, and as the Soul pervades, and is within, the body. All the Numerations were potentially contained in it.
And this potentiality is thus explained: When a woman conceives, a Soul is immediately sent into the embryo which is to become the infant, in which Soul are then, potentially, all the members and veins of the body, which afterward, from that potency of the Soul, become in the human body of the child to be born.
Then the wisdom of God commanded that these Numerations potentially in Kether, should be produced from potentiality into actuality, in order that worlds might consist; and HE directed Yōd again to descend, and to enter into and shine within Kether, and then to re-ascend: which was so done. From which illumination and re-ascension, all the other numerations, potentially in Kether, were manifested and disclosed; but they continued still compacted together, remaining within Kether in a circle.
When God willed to produce the other emanations or numerations from Kether, it is added, HE sent Yōd down again, to the upper part of Kether, one-half of him to remain without and one-half to penetrate within the sphere of Kether. Then HE sent the letter Vav into the Splendor, to pour out its light on Yōd: and thus,–
Yōd received light from Vav, and thereby so directed his countenance that it should illuminate and confer exceeding great energy on Hakemah, which yet remained in Kether; so giving it the faculty to proceed forth therefrom; and that it might collect and contain within itself, and there reveal, all the other eight numerations, until that time in Kether.
The sphere of Kether opened, and thereout issued Hakemah, to remain below Kether, containing in itself all the other numerations.
By a similar process, Binah, illuminated within Hakemah by a second Yōd, “issued forth out of Hakemah, having within itself the Seven lower Numerations.”
And since the vessel of Binah was excellent, and coruscated with rays of the color of sapphire, and was so nearly of the same color as the vessel of Hakemah that there was scarcely any difference between them, hence it would not quietly remain below Hakemah, but rose, and placed itself on his left side.
And because the light from above profusely flowed into and accumulated in the vessel of Hakemah, to so great an extent that it overflowed, and escaped, coruscating, outside of that vessel, and, flowing off to the left, communicated potency and increase to the vessel of Binah . . . . For Binah is female . . . .
Binah, therefore, by means of this energy that flowed into it from the left side of Hakemah, by virtue of the second Yōd, came to possess such virtue and potency, as to project beyond itself the Seven remaining vessels contained within itself, and so emitted them all, continuously, one after the other . . . all connected and linked one with the other, like the links of a chain.
Three points first emanated, one under the other; Kether, Hakemah, and Binah; and, so far, there was no copulation. But afterward the positions of Hakemah and Binah changed, so that they were side by side, Kether remaining above them; and then conjunction of the Male and Female, ABA and IMMA, Father and Mother, as points.
He, from Whom all emanated, created Adam Kadmon, consisting of all the worlds, so that in him should be somewhat from those above, and somewhat from those below. Hence in Him was NEPHESCH [PSYCHE, anima infima, the lowest spiritual part of man, Soul], from the world ASIAH, which is one letter He of the Tetragrammaton; RUACH [ SPIRITUS, anima media, the next higher spiritual part, or Spirit], from the world YEZIRAH, which is the Vav of the Tetragrammaton; NESCHAMAH [the highest spiritual part, mens or anima superior], from the world BRIAH, which is the other letter He; and NESCHAMAH LENESCHAMAH, from the world ATSILUTH, which is the YŌD of the Tetragrammaton.
And these letters [the Sephiroth] were changed from the spherical form into the form of a person, the symbol of which person is the BALANCE, it being Male and Female . . . Hakemah on one side, Binah on the other, and Kether over them: and so Gedulah on one side, Geburah on the other, and Tephareth under them.
The Book Omschim says: Some hold that the ten Sephiroth succeeded one another in ten degrees, one above the other, in regular gradation, one connected with the other in a direct line, from the highest to the lowest. Others hold that they issued forth in three lines, parallel with each other, one on the right hand, one on the left, and one in the middle; so that, beginning with the highest and going down to the lowest, Hakemah, Khased [or Gedulah], and Netsach are one over the other, in a perpendicular line, on the right hand; Binah, Geburah, and Hōd on the left; and Kether, Tephareth, Yesod, and Malakoth in the middle: and many hold that all the ten subsist in circles, one within the other, and all homocentric.
It is also to be noted, that the Sephirothic tables contain still another numeration, sometimes called also a Sephirah, which is called Daath, cognition. It is in the middle, below Hakemah and Binah, and is the result of the conjunction of these two.
To Adam Kadmon, the Idea of the Universe, the Kabalah assigns a human form. In this, Kether is the cranium, Hakemah and Binah the two lobes of the brain, Gedulah and Geburah the two arms, Tephareth the trunk, Netsach and Hōd the thighs, Yesod the male organ, and Malkuth the female organ, of generation.
Yōd is Hakemah, and He Dinah; Vav is Tephareth, and the last He, Malkuth.
The whole, say the Books Mysterii or of Occultation, is thus summed up: The intention of God The Blessed was to form Impersonations, in order to diminish the Light. Wherefore HE constituted, in Macroprosopos, Adam Kadmon, or Arik Anpin, three Heads. The first is called, “The Head whereof is no cognition”; the second, “The Head of that which is non-existent”; and the third, “The Very Head of Macroprosopos”; and these three are Corona, Sapientia, and Informatio, Kether, Hakemah, and Binah, existent in the Corona of the World of Emanation, or in Macroprosopos; and these three are called in the Sohar ATIKA KADISCHA, Senex Sanctissimus, The Most Holy Ancient. But the Seven inferior Royalties of the first Adam are called “The Ancient of Days”; and this Ancient of Days is the internal part, or Soul, of Macroprosopos.
The human mind has never struggled harder to understand and explain to itself the process of creation, and of Divine manifestation, and at the same time to conceal its thoughts from all but the initiated, than in the Kabalah. Hence, much of it seems at first like jargon. Macroprosopos or Adam Kadmon is, we have said, the idea or intellectual aggregate of the whole Universe, included and contained unevolved in the manifested Deity, Himself yet contained unmanifested in the Absolute. The Head, Kether, “whereof is no cognition,” is the Will of the Deity, or the Deity as Will. Hakemah, the head “of that which is non-existent,” is the Generative Power of begetting or producing Thought; yet in the Deity, not in action, and therefore non-existent. Binah, “the very or actual head” of Macroprosopos, is the productive intellectual capacity, which, impregnated by Hakemah, is to produce the Thought. This Thought is Daath; or rather, the result is Intellection, Thinking; the Unity, of which Thoughts are the manifold outflowings.
This may be illustrated by a comparison. Pain, in the human being, is a feeling or sensation. It must be produced. To produce it, there must be, not only the capacity to produce it, in the nerves, but also the power of generating it by means of that capacity.
This generative Power, the Passive Capacity which produces, and the pain produced, are like Hakemah, Dinah, and Daath.
The four Worlds or Universals, Aziluth, Briah, Yetzirah, and Asiah, of Emanation, Creation, Formation, and Fabrication, are another enigma of the Kabalah. The first three are wholly within the Deity. The first is the Universe, as it exists potentially in the Deity, determined and imagined, but as yet wholly formless and undeveloped, except so far as it is contained in His Emanations. The second is the Universe in idea, distinct within the Deity, but not invested with forms; a simple unity. The third is the same Universe in potence in the Deity, unmanifested, but invested with forms,–the idea developed into manifoldness and individuality, and succession of species and individuals; and the fourth is the potentiality become the Actuality, the Universe fabricated, and existing as it exists for us.
The Sephiroth, says the Porta Cælorum, by the virtue of their Infinite Emanator, who uses them as a workman uses his tools, and who operates with and through them, are the cause of existence of everything created, formed, and fashioned, employing in their production certain media. But these same Sephiroth, Persons and Lights, are not creatures per se, but ideas, and Rays of THE INFINITE, which, by different gradations, so descended from the Supreme Source as still not to be severed from It; but It, through them, is extended to the production and government of all Entities, and is the Single and Perfect Universal Cause of All, though becoming determinate for this or the other operation, through this or that Sephiroth or MODE.
God produced all things by His Intellect and Will and free Determination. He willed to produce them by the mediation of His Sephiroth, and Persons . . . . . by which He is enabled most perfectly to manifest Himself; and that the more perfectly, by producing the causes themselves, and the Causes of Causes, and not merely the viler effects.
God produced, in the first Originate, all the remaining causates. For, as He Himself is most simply One, and from One Simple Being One only can immediately proceed, hence it results that from the First Supreme Infinite Unity flowed forth at the same time All and One. One, that is, in so far as flowing from the Most Simple Unity, and being like unto It; but also All, in so far as, departing from that perfect Singleness which can be measured by no other Singleness, it became, to a certain extent, manifold, though still Absolute and Perfect.
Emanation, says the same, is the Resulting displayed from the Unresulting, the Finite from the Infinite, the Manifold and Composite from the Perfect Single and Simple, Potentiality from that which is Infinite Power and Act, the mobile from that which is perennially permanent; and therefore in a more imperfect and diminished mode than His Infinite Perfection is. As the First Cause is all things, in an unresulting and Infinite mode, so the Entities that flow from Him are the First Causes, in a resulting and finite mode.
THE NECESSARY ENTITY, subsisting of Itself, as It cannot be dissevered into the manifold, yet becomes, as it were, multiplied in the Causates, in respect of their Nature, or of the Subsistences, Vessels, and openings assigned to them; whereby the Single and Infinite Essence, being inclosed or comprehended in these limits, bounds, or externalnesses, takes on Itself Definiteness of dimension, and becomes Itself manifold, by the manifoldness of these envelopes.
As man [the unit of Humanity] is a microcosm, so Adam Kadmon is a macrocosm, containing all the Causates of the First Cause . . . . . as the Material Man is the end and completion of all creation, so in the Divine Man is the beginning thereof. As the inferior Adam receives all things from all, so the superior Adam supplies all things to all. As the former is the principle of reflected light, so the latter is of Direct Light. The former is the terminus of the Light, descending; the latter its terminus, ascending. As the Inferior man ascends from the lowest matter even to the First Cause, so the Superior Adam descends from the Simple and Infinite Act, even to the lowest and most attenuated Potence.
The Ternary is the bringing back of duality to unity.
The Ternary is the Principle of Number, because, bringing back the binary to unity, it restores to it the same quantity whereby it had departed from unity. It is the first odd number, containing in itself the first even number and the unit, which are the Father and Mother of all Numbers; and it has in itself the beginning, middle, and end.
Now, Adam Kadmon emanated from the Absolute Unity, and so is himself a unit; but he also descends and flows downward into his own Nature, and so is duality. Again, he returns to the Unity, which he hath in himself, and to The Highest, and so is the Ternary and Quaternary.
And this is why the Essential Name has four letters,–three different ones, and one of them once repeated; since the first He is the wife of the Yōd, and the second He is the wife of the Vav.
Those media which manifest the First Cause, in Himself profoundly hidden, are the Sephiroth, which emanate immediately from that First Cause, and by Its Nature have produced and do control all the rest.
These Sephiroth were put forth from the One First and Simple, manifesting His Infinite Goodness. They are the mirrors of His Truth, and the analogues of His Supremest Essence, the Ideas of His Wisdom, and the representations of His will; the receptacles of His Potency, and the instruments with which He operates; the Treasury of His Felicity, the dispensers of His Benignity, the Judges of His Kingdom, and reveal His Law; and finally, the Denominations, Attributes, and Names of Him Who is above all and the Cause of all . . . . . the ten categories, wherein all things are contained; the universal genera, which in themselves include all things, and utter them outwardly . . . . the Second Causes, whereby the First Cause effects, preserves, and governs all things; the rays of the Divinity, whereby all things are illumined and manifested; the Forms and Ideas and Species, out whereof all things issue forth; the Souls and Potencies, whereby essence, life, and movement are given to all things; the Standard of times, whereby all things are measured; the incorporeal Spaces which, in themselves, hold and inclose the Universe; the Supernal Monads to which all manifolds are referred, and through them to The One and Simple; and finally the Formal Perfections, flowing forth from and still connected with the One Eminent Limitless Perfection, are the Causes of all dependent Perfections, and so illuminate the elementary Intelligences, not adjoined to matter, and the intellectual Souls, and the Celestial, Elemental and Element-produced bodies.
The IDRA SUTA says:
HE, the Most Holy Hidden Eldest, separates Himself, and is ever more and more separated from all that are; nor yet does HE in very deed separate Himself; because all things cohere with Him and HE with All. HE is All that is, the Most Holy Eldest of All, the Occult by all possible occultations.
When HE takes shape, HE produces nine Lights, which shine forth from Him, from His outforming. And those Lights out-shine from Him and emit flames, and go forth and spread out on every side; as from one elevated Lamp the Rays are poured forth in every direction, and these Rays thus diverging, are found to be, when one approaching has cognizance of them, but a single Lamp.
The Space in which to create is fixed by THE MOST HOLY ANCIENT, and illuminated by His inflowing, which is the Light of Wisdom, and the Beginning from which manifestation flows.
And HE is conformed in three Heads, which are but one Head; and these three are extended into Microprosopos, and from them shines out all that is.
Then this Wisdom instituted investiture with form, whereby the unmanifested and informous became manifested, putting on form; and produced a certain outflow.
When this Wisdom is thus expanded by flowing forth, then it is called “Father of Fathers,” the whole Universe of Things being contained and comprehended in it. This Wisdom is the principle of all things, and in it beginning and end are found.
The Book of the Abstruse, says the Siphra de Zeniutha, is that which describes the equilibrium of the Balance. Before the Balance was, face did not look toward face.
And the Commentary on it says: The Scales of the Balance are designated as Male and Female. In the Spiritual world Evil and Good are in equilibrio, and it will be restored, when of the Evil Good becomes, until all is Good. Also this other world is called the World of the Balance. For, as in the Balance are two scales, one on either side and the beam and needle between them, so too in this world of restoration, the Numerations are arranged as distinct persons. For Hakemah is on the right hand, on the side of Gedulah, and Binah on the left, on the side of Geburah; and Kether is the beam of the Balance above them in the middle. So Gedulah or Khased is on one hand, and Geburah on the other, and under these Tephareth; and Netsach is on one side, and Hōd on the other, and under these Yesōd.
The Supreme Crown, which is the Ancient Most Holy, the most Hidden of the Hidden, is fashioned, within the occult Wisdom, of both sexes, Male and Female.
Hakemah, and Binah, the Mother, whom it impregnates, are quantitatively equal. Wisdom and the Mother of Intellection go forth at once and dwell together; for when the Intellectual Power emanates, the productive Source of intellection is included in Him.
Before Adam Kadmon was fashioned into Male and Female, and the state of equilibrium introduced, the Father and Mother did not look each other in the face; for the Father denotes most perfect Love, and the Mother most perfect Rigor; and she averted her face.
There is no left [female], says the Idra Rabba, in the Ancient and Hidden One; but His totality is Right [male]. The totality of things is HUA, HE, and HE is hidden on every side.
Macroprosopos [Adam Kadmon] is not so near unto us as to speak to us in the first person; but is designated in the third person, HUA, HE.
Of the letters it says:
Yōd is male, He is female, Vav is both.
In Yōd [י] are three Yōds, the upper and the lower apex, and Vav in the middle. By the upper apex is denoted the Supreme Kether; by Vav in the middle, Hakemah; and by the lower apex, Binah.
The IDRA SUTA says:
The Universe was out-formed in the form of Male and Female. Wisdom, pregnant with all that is, when it flowed and shone forth, shone altogether under the form of male and female. Hakemah is the Father, and Binah is the Mother; and so the two are in equilibrium as male and female, and for this reason, all things whatsoever are constituted in the form of male and female; and if it were not so they would not exist.
This Principle, Hakemah, is the Generator of all things; and He and Binah conjoin, and she shines within Him. When they thus conjoin, she conceives, and the out-flow is Truth.
Yōd impregnates the letter He and begets a son; and she, thus pregnant, brings forth. The Principle called Father [the Male or Generative Principle] is comprehended in Yōd, which itself flows downward from the energy of the Absolute Holy One.
Yōd is the beginning and the end of all things that are. The stream that flows forth is the Universe of things, which always becomes, having no cessation. And this becoming world is created by Yōd: for Yōd includes two letters. All things are included in Yōd; wherefore it is called the Father of all.
All Categories whatever go forth from Hakemah; and in it are contained all things, unmanifested; and the aggregate of all things, or the Unity in which the many are, and out of which all flow, is the Sacred Name IHUH.
In the view of the Kabalists, all individuals are contained in species, and all species in genera, and all particulars in a Universal, which is an idea, abstracted from all consideration of individuals; not an aggregate of individuals; but, as it were, an Ens, Entity or Being, ideal or intellectual, but none the less real; prior to any individual, containing them all, and out of which they are all in succession evolved.
If this discontents you, reflect that, supposing the theory correct, that all was originally in the Deity, and that the Universe has proceeded forth from Him, and not been created by Him out of nothing, the idea of the Universe, existing in the Deity before its out-flow, must have been as real as the Deity Himself. The whole Human race, or Humanity, for example, then existed in the Deity, not distinguished into individuals, but as a Unit, out of which the Manifold was to flow.
Everything actual must also first have been possible, before having actual existence; and this possibility or potentiality was to the Kabalists a real Ens. Before the evolvement of the Universe, it had to exist potentially, the whole of it, with all its individuals, included in a single Unity. This was the Idea or Plan of the Universe; and this had to be formed. It had to emanate from the Infinite Deity, and be of Himself, though not His Very Self.
Geburah, Severity, the Sephirah opposite to and conjoined sexually with Gedulah, to produce Tephareth, Harmony and Beauty, is also called in the Kabalah “Judgment,” in which term are included the ideas of limitation and conditioning, which often seems, indeed, to be its principal sense; while Benignity is as often styled Infinite. Thus it is obscurely taught that in everything that is, not only the Finite but also the Infinite is present; and that the rigor of the stern law of limitation, by which everything below or beside the Infinite Absolute is limited, bounded, and conditioned, is tempered and modified by the grace, which so relaxes it that the Infinite, Unlimited, Unconditioned, is also everywhere present; and that it is thus the Spiritual and Material Natures are in equilibrio, Good everywhere counterbalancing Evil, Light everywhere in equilibrium with Darkness: from which again results the Universal Harmony of things. In the vacant space effected for creation, there at last remained a faint vestige or trace of Ainsophic Light, of the Light of the Substance of the Infinite. Man is thus both human and divine: and the apparent antagonisms in his Nature are a real equilibrium, if he wills it shall be so; from which results the Harmony, not only of Life and Action, but of Virtue and Perfection.
To understand the Kabalistic idea of the Sephiroth, it must be borne in mind that they were assigned, not only to the world of Emanation, Aziluth, but also to each of the other worlds, Briah, Jezirah, and Asiah. They were not only attributes of the Unmanifested Deity, not only Himself in limitation, but His actual manifestations, or His qualities made apparent as modes; and they were also qualities of the Universal Nature–Spiritual, Mental, and Material, produced and made existent by the outflow of Himself.
In the view of the Kabbalah, God and the Universe were One, and in the One General, as the type or source, were included and involved, and from it have been evolved and issued forth, the manifold and all particulars. Where, indeed, does individuality begin? Is it the Hidden Source and Spring alone that is the individual, the Unit, or is it the flowing fountain that fills the ocean, or the ocean itself, or its waves, or the drops, or the vaporous particles, that are the individuals? The Sea and the River–these are each One; but the drops of each are many. The tree is one; but its leaves are a multitude: they drop with the frosts, and fall upon his roots; but the tree still continues to grow, and new leaves come again in the Spring. Is the Human Race not the Tree, and are not individual men the leaves? How else explain the force of will and sympathy, and the dependence of one man at every instant of his life on others, except by the oneness of the race? The links that bind all created things together are the links of a single Unity, and the whole Universe is One, developing itself into the manifold.
Obtuse commentators have said that the Kabalah assigns sexual characteristics to the very Deity. There is no warrant for such an assertion, anywhere in the Sohar or in any commentary upon it. On the contrary, the whole doctrine of the Kabalah is based on the fundamental proposition, that the Very Deity is Infinite, everywhere extended, without limitation or determination, and therefore without any conformation whatever. In order to commence the process of creation, it was necessary for Him, first of all, to effect a vacant space within Himself. To this end the Deity, whose Nature is approximately expressed by describing Him as Light filling all space, formless, limitless, contracts Himself on all sides from a point within Himself, and thus effects a quasi-vacant space, in which only a vestige of His Light remains; and into this circular or spherical space He emits His Emanations, portions of His Light or Nature; and to some of these, sexual characteristics are symbolically assigned.
The Infinite first limits Himself by flowing forth in the shape of Will, of determination to act. This Will of the Deity, or the Deity as will, is Kether, or the Crown, the first Sephirah. In it are included all other Emanations. This is a philosophical necessity. The Infinite does not first will, and then, as a sequence to, or consequence of, that determination, subsequently perform. To will and to act must be, with Him, not only simultaneous, but in reality the same . . Nor does He, by His Omniscience, learn that a particular action will be wise, and then, in consequence of being so convinced, first determine to do the act, and then do it. His Wisdom and His Will, also, act simultaneously; and, with Him, to decide that it was wise to create, was to create. Thus His will contains in itself all the Sephiroth. This will, determining Him to the exercise of intellection, to thought, to frame the Idea of the Universe, caused the Power in Him to excite the intellectual Faculty to exercise, and was that Power. Its SELF, which had flowed forth from Ainsoph as Will, now flows forth as the Generative Power to beget intellectual action in the Intellectual Faculty, or Intelligence, Binah. The Act itself, the Thought, the Intellection, producing the Idea, is Daath; and as the text of the Siphra de Zeniutha says, The Power and Faculty, the Generative and Productive, the Active and Passive, the Will and Capacity, which unite to produce that Act of reflection or Thought or Intellection, are always in conjunction. As is elsewhere said in the Kabalah, both of them are contained and essentially involved in the result. And the Will, as Wisdom or Intellectual Power, and the Capacity or Faculty, are really the Father and Mother of all that is; for to the creation of anything, it was absolutely necessary that The Infinite should form for Himself and in Himself, an idea of what HE willed to produce or create: and, as there is no Time with Him, to will was to create, to plan was to will and to create; and in the Idea, the Universe in potence, the universal succession of things was included. Thenceforward all was merely evolution and development.
Netsach and Hōd, the Seventh and Eighth Sephiroth, are usually called in the Kabalah, Victory and Glory. Netsach is the perfect Success, which, with the Deity, to Whom the Future is present, attends, and to His creatures is to result, from the plan of Equilibrium everywhere adopted by Him. It is the reconciliation of Light and Darkness, Good and Evil, Free-will and Necessity, God’s omnipotence and Man’s liberty; and the harmonious issue and result of all, without which the Universe would be a failure. It is the inherent Perfection of the Deity, manifested in His Idea of the Universe, and in all the departments or worlds, spiritual, mental, or material, of that Universe; but it is that Perfection regarded as the successful result, which it both causes or produces and is; the perfection of the plan being its success. It is the prevailing of Wisdom over Accident; and it, in turn, both produces and is the Glory and Laudation of the Great Infinite Contriver, whose plan is thus Successful and Victorious.
From these two, which are one,–from the excellence and perfection of the Divine Nature and Wisdom, considered as Success and Glory, as the opposites of Failure and Mortification, results what the Kabalah, styling it Yesod, Foundation or Basis, characterizes as the Generative member of the Symbolical human figure by which the ten Sephiroth are represented, and from this flows Malakoth, Empire, Dominion, or Rule. Yesod is the Stability and Permanence, which would, in ordinary language, be said to result from the perfection of the Idea or Intellectual Universal, out of which all particulars are evolved; from the success of that scheme, and the consequent Glory or Self-Satisfaction of the Deity; but which Stability and Permanence that Perfection, Success, and Glory really Is; since the Deity, infinitely Wise, and to Whom the Past, Present, and Future were and always will be one Now, and all space one HERE, had not to await the operation and evolution of His plan, as men do the result of an experiment, in order to see if it would succeed, and so to determine whether it should stand, and be stable and permanent, or fall and be temporary. Its Perfection was its Success; His Glory, its permanence and stability: and the Attributes of Permanence and Stability belong, like the others, to the Universe, material, mental, spiritual, and real, because and as they belong to the Infinite Himself.
This Stability and Permanence causes continuance and generates succession. It is Perpetuity, and continuity without solution; and by this continuous succession, whereby out of Death comes new Life, out of dissolution and resolution comes reconstruction, Necessity and Fatality result as a consequence: that is to say, the absolute control and dominion (Malakoth) of The Infinite Deity over all that He produces, and over chance and accident; and the absolute non-existence in the Universe, in Time and in Space, of any other powers or influences than those which, proceeding from Him, are and cannot not be perfectly submissive to His will. This results, humanly speaking; but in reality, the Perfection of the plan, which is its success, His glory, and its stability, is also His Absolute Autocracy, and the utter absence of Chance, Accident, or Antagonism. And, as the Infinite Wisdom or Absolute Reason rules in the Divine Nature itself, so also it does in its Emanations, and in the worlds or systems of Spirit, Soul, and Matter; in each of which there is as little Chance or Accident or Unreasoning Fate, as in the Divine Nature unmanifested.
This is the Kabalistic theory as to each of the four worlds;–1st, of the Divine Nature, or Divinity itself, quantitatively limited and determined, but not manifested into Entities, which is the world of Emanation, 2d, of the first Entities, that is, of Spirits and Angels, which is the world of Creation; 3d, of the first forms, souls, or psychical natures, which is the world of Formation or Fashioning; and, 4th, of Matter and Bodies, which is the world of Fabrication, or, as it were, of manufacture. In each of these the Deity is present, as, in, and through the Ten Sephiroth. First of these, in each, is Kether, the Crown, ring, or circlet, the HEAD. Next, in that Head, as the two Hemispheres of the Brain, are Hakemah and Binah, and their result and progeny, Daath. These three are found also in the Spiritual world, and are universals in the psychical and material world, producing the lower Sephiroth. Then follow, in perfect Equilibrium, Law and Equity, Justice and Mercy, the Divine Infinite Nature and the Human Finite Nature, Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, Benignity and Severity, the Male and the Female again, as Hakemah and Binah are, mutually tempering each other, and by their intimate union producing the other Sephiroth.
The whole Universe, and all the succession of entities and events were present to The Infinite, before any act of creation; and His Benignity and Leniency, tempering and qualifying the law of rigorous Justice and inflexible Retribution, enabled Him to create: because, but for it, and if He could not but have administered the strict and stern law of justice, that would have compelled Him to destroy, immediately after its inception, the Universe He purposed to create, and so would have prevented its creation. This Leniency, therefore, was, as it were, the very essence and quintessence of the Permanence and Stability of the plan of Creation, and part of the Very Nature of the Deity. The Kabalah, therefore, designates it as Light and Whiteness, by which the Very Substance of Deity is symbolized. With this agree Paul’s ideas as to Law and Grace; for Paul had studied the Kabalah at the feet of Gamaliel the Rabbi.
With this Benignity, the Autocracy of the dominion and control of the Deity is imbued and interpenetrated. The former, poured, as it were, into the latter, is an integral and essential part of it, and causes it to give birth to the succession and continuance of the Universe. For Malakoth, in the Kabalah, is female, and the matrix or womb out of which all creation is born.
The Kabalah is the primitive tradition, and its entirety rests on the single dogma of Magism, “the visible is for us the proportional measure of the invisible.” The Ancients, observing that equilibrium is in physics the universal law, and that it results from the apparent opposition of two forces, concluded from the physical to the metaphysical equilibrium, and thought that in God, that is to say, in the first living and active cause, two properties necessary to each other, should be recognized; stability and movement, necessity and liberty, order dictated by reason and the self-rule of Supreme Will, Justice, and Love, and consequently Severity and Grace, Mercy or Benignity.
The idea of equilibrium among all the impersonations; of the male on one side, and the female on the other, with the Supreme Will, which is also the Absolute Reason, above each two, holding the balance, is, according to the Kabalah, the foundation of all religions and all sciences, the primary and immutable idea of things. The Sephiroth are a triple triangle and a circle, the idea of the Ternary explained by the balance and multiplied by itself in the
Chart of the Sephiroth domain of the Ideal; then the realization of this Idea in forms.
Unity can only be manifested by the Binary. Unity itself and the idea of Unity are already two.
The human unity is made complete by the right and left. The primitive man was of both sexes.
The Divinity, one in its essence, has two essential conditions as fundamental bases of its existence–Necessity and Liberty.
The laws of the Supreme Reason necessitate and regulate liberty in God, Who is necessarily reasonable and wise.
Knowledge supposes the binary. An object known is indispensable to the being that knows.
The binary is the generator of Society and the law. It is also the number of the gnosis, a word adopted in lieu of Science, and expressing only the idea of cognizance by intuition. It is Unity, multiplying itself by itself to create; and therefore it is that the Sacred Symbols make Eve issue from the very chest of Adam.
Adam is the human Tetragram, which is summed up in the mysterious Yōd of the Kabalah, image of the Kabalistic Phallus. Add to this Yōd [י] the ternary name of Eve, and you form the name of Jehova, the Divine Tetragram, the transcendent Kabalistic and magical word:
Thus it is that Unity, complete in the fecundity of the Ternary, forms, with it, the Quaternary, which is the key of all numbers, movements, and forms.
The Square, turning upon itself, produces the circle equal to itself, and the circular movement of four equal angles turning around one point, is the quadrature of the circle.
The Binary serves as a measure for Unity; and the relation of equality between the Above and the Below, forms with them the Ternary.
To us, Creation is Mechanism: to the Ancients it was Generation. The world-producing egg figures in all cosmogonies; and modern science has discovered that all animal production is oviparous. From this idea of generation came the reverence everywhere paid the image of generative power, which formed the Stauros of the Gnostics, and the philosophical Cross of the Masons.
Aleph is the man; Beth is the woman. One is the Principle; two is the Word. A∴ is the Active; B∴ is the Passive. Unity is Boaz, and the Binary is Jachin.
The two columns, Boaz and Jachin, explain in the Kabalah all the mysteries of natural, political, and religious antagonism.
Woman is man’s creation; and universal creation is the female of the First Principle. When the Principle of Existence made Himself Creator, He produced by emanation an ideal Yōd; and to make room for it in the plenitude of the uncreated Light, He had to hollow out a pit of shadow, equal to the dimension determined by His creative desire; and attributed by Him to the ideal Yōd of radiating Light.
The nature of the Active Principle is to diffuse: of the Passive Principle, to collect and make fruitful.
Creation is the habitation of the Creator-Word. To create, the Generative Power and Productive Capacity must unite, the Binary become Unity again by the conjunction. The WORD is the First-BEGOTTEN, not the first created Son of God.
SANCTA SANCTIS, we repeat again; the Holy things to the Holy, and to him who is so, the mysteries of the Kabalah will be holy. Seek and ye shall find, say the Scriptures: knock and it shall be opened unto you. If you desire to find and to gain admission to the Sanctuary, we have said enough to show you the way. If you do not, it is useless for us to say more, as it has been useless to say so much.
The Hermetic philosophers also drew their doctrines from the Kabalah; and more particularly from the Treatise Beth Alohim or Domus Dei, known as the Pneumatica Kabalistica, of Rabbi Abraham Cohen Irira, and the Treatise De Revolutionibus Animarum of Rabbi Jitz-chak Lorja.
This philosophy was concealed by the Alchemists under their Symbols, and in the jargon of a rude Chemistry,–a jargon incomprehensible and absurd except to the Initiates; but the key to which is within your reach; and the philosophy, it may be, worth studying. The labors of the human intellect are always interesting and instructive.
To be always rich, always young, and never to die: such has been in all times the dream of the Alchemists.
To change into gold, lead, mercury, and all the other metals; to possess the universal medicine and elixir of life; such is the problem to be resolved, in order to accomplish this desire and realize this dream.
Like all the Mysteries of Magism, the Secrets of “the Great Work” have a threefold signification: they are religious, philosophical, and natural.
The philosophal gold, in religion, is the Absolute and Supreme Reason: in philosophy, it is the Truth; in visible nature, the Sun; in the subterranean and mineral world, the most perfect and pure gold.
It is for this that the pursuit of the Great Work is called the Search for the Absolute; and the work itself, the work of the Sun.
All the masters of the Science admit that it is impossible to attain the material results, unless there are found in the two higher Degrees all the analogies of the universal medicine and of the philosophical stone.
Then, they say, the work is simple, easy, and inexpensive; otherwise, it consumes fruitlessly the fortune and lives of the seekers.
The universal medicine for the Soul is the Supreme Reason and Absolute Justice; for the mind, mathematical and practical Truth; for the body, the Quintessence, a combination of light and gold.
The prima materia of the Great Work, in the Superior World, is enthusiasm and activity; in the intermediate world, intelligence and industry; in the lower world, labor: and, in Science, it is the Sulphur, Mercury, and Salt, which by turns volatilized and fixed, compose the AZOTH of the Sages.
The Sulphur corresponds with the elementary form of the Fire; Mercury with the Air and Water; and Salt with the Earth.
The Great Work is, above all things, the creation of man by himself; that is to say, the fall and entire conquest which he effects of his faculties and his future. It is, above all, the perfect emancipation of his will, which assures him the universal empire of Azoth, and the domain of magnetism, that is, complete power over the universal Magical agent.
This Magical agent, which the Ancient Hermetic philosophers disguised under the name of “Prima Materia,” determines the forms of the modifiable Substance; and the Alchemists said that by means of it they could attain the transmutation of metals and the universal medicine.
There are two Hermetic operations, one spiritual, the other material, dependent the one on the other.
The whole Hermetic Science is contained in the dogma of Hermes, engraven originally, it is said, on a tablet of emerald. Its sentences that relate to operating the Great Work are as follows:
“Thou shalt separate the earth from the fire, the subtile from the gross, gently, with much industry.
“It ascends from earth to Heaven, and again descends to earth, and receives the force of things above and below.
“Thou shalt by this means possess the glory of the whole world, and therefore all obscurity shall flee away from thee.
“This is the potent force of all force, for it will overcome everything subtile, and penetrate everything solid.
“So the world was created.”
All the Masters in Alchemy who have written of the Great Work, have employed symbolic and figurative expressions; being constrained to do so, as well to repel the profane from a work that would be dangerous for them, as to be well understood by Adepts, in revealing to them the whole world of analogies governed by the single and sovereign dogma of Hermes.
So, in their language, gold and silver are the King and Queen, or the Sun and Moon; Sulphur, the flying Eagle; Mercury, the Man-woman, winged, bearded, mounted on a cube, and crowned with flames; Matter or Salt, the winged Dragon; the Metals in ebullition, Lions of different colors; and, finally, the entire work has for its symbols the Pelican and the Phœnix.
The Hermetic Art is, therefore, at the same time a religion, a philosophy, and a natural science. As a religion, it is that of the Ancient Magi and the Initiates of all ages; as a philosophy, we may find its principles in the school of Alexandria and the theories of Pythagoras; as a science, we must inquire for its processes of Paracelsus, Nicholas Flamel, and Raymond Lulle.
The Science is a real one only for those who admit and understand the philosophy and the religion; and its process will succeed only for the Adept who has attained the sovereignty of will, and so become the King of the elementary world: for the grand agent of the operation of the Sun, is that force described in the Symbol of Hermes, of the table of emerald; it is the universal magical power; the spiritual, fiery, motive power; it is the Od, according to the Hebrews, and the Astral light, according to others.
Therein is the secret fire, living and philosophical, of which all the Hermetic philosophers speak with the most mysterious re-serve: the Universal Seed, the secret whereof they kept, and which they represented only under the figure of the Caduceus of Hermes.
This is the grand Hermetic arcanum. What the Adepts call dead matter are bodies as found in nature; living matters are substances assimilated and magnetized by the science and will of the operator.
So that the Great Work is more than a chemical operation; it is a real creation of the human word initiated into the power of the Word of God.
The creation of gold in the Great Work is effected by transmutation and multiplication.
Raymond Lulle says, that to make gold, one must have gold and mercury; and to make silver, silver and mercury. And he adds: “I mean by mercury, that mineral spirit so fine and pure that it gilds even the seed of gold, and silvers that of silver.” He meant by this, either electricity, or Od, the astral light.
The Salt and Sulphur serve in the work only to prepare the mercury, and it is to the mercury especially that we must assimilate, and, as it were, incorporate with it, the magnetic agent. Paracelsus, Lulle, and Flamel alone seem to have perfectly known this mystery.
The Great Work of Hermes is, therefore, an operation essentially magical, and the highest of all, for it supposes the Absolute in Science and in Will. There is light in gold, gold in light, and light in all things.
The disciples of Hermes, before promising their adepts the elixir of long life or the powder of projection, advised them to seek for the Philosophal Stone.
The Ancients adored the Sun, under the form of a black Stone, called Elagabalus, or Heliogabalus. The faithful are promised, in the Apocalypse, a white Stone.
This Stone, says the Masters in Alchemy, is the true Salt of the philosophers, which enters as one-third into the composition of Azoth. But Azoth is, as we know, the name of the grand Hermetic Agent, and the true philosophical Agent: wherefore they represent their Salt under the form of a cubical Stone.
The Philosophal Stone is the foundation of the Absolute philosophy, the Supreme and unalterable Reason. Before thinking of the Metallic work, we must be firmly fixed on the Absolute principles of Wisdom; we must be in possession of this Reason, which is the touchstone of Truth. A man who is the slave of prejudices will never become the King of Nature and the Master of transmutations. The Philosophal Stone, therefore, is necessary above all things. How shall it be found? Hermes tells us, in his “Table of Emerald,” we must separate the subtile from the fixed, with great care and extreme attention. So we ought to separate our certainties from our beliefs, and make perfectly distinct the respective domains of science and faith; and to comprehend that we do not know the things we believe, nor believe anything that we come to know; and that thus the essence of the things of Faith are the unknown and indefinite, while it is precisely the contrary with the things of Science. Whence we shall conclude, that Science rests on reason and experience, and Faith has for its bases sentiment and reason.
The Sun and Moon of the Alchemists concur in perfecting and giving stability to the Philosophal Stone. They correspond to the two columns of the Temple, Jachin and Boaz. The Sun is the hieroglyphical sign of Truth, because it is the source of Light; and the rough Stone is the symbol of Stability. Hence the Medieval Alchemists indicated the Philosophal Stone as the first means of making the philosophical gold, that is to say, of transforming all the vital powers figured by the six metals into Sun, that is, into Truth and Light; which is the first and indispensable operation of the Great Work, which leads to the secondary adaptation, and enables the creators of the spiritual and living gold, the possessors of the true philosophical Salt, Mercury, and Sulphur, to discover, by the analogies of Nature, the natural and palpable gold.
To find the Philosophal Stone, is to have discovered the Absolute, as all the Masters say. But the Absolute is that which admits of no errors, is the Fixed from the Volatile, is the Law of the Imagination, is the very necessity of Being, is the immutable Law of Reason and Truth. The Absolute is that which IS.
To find the Absolute in the Infinite, in the Indefinite, and in the Finite, this is the Magnum Opus, the Great Work of the Sages, which Hermes called the Work of the Sun.
To find the immovable bases of true religious Faith, of Philosophical Truth, and of Metallic transmutation, this is the secret of Hermes in its entirety, the Philosophal Stone.
This stone is one and manifold; it is decomposed by Analysis, and re-compounded by Synthesis. In Analysis, it is a powder, the powder of projection of the Alchemists; before Analysis, and in Synthesis, it is a stone.
The Philosophal Stone, say the Masters, must not be exposed to the atmosphere, nor to the gaze of the Profane; but it must be kept concealed and carefully preserved in the most secret place of the laboratory, and the possessor must always carry on his person the key of the place where it is kept.
He who possesses the Grand Arcanum is a genuine King, and more than a king, for he is inaccessible to all fear and all empty hopes. In all maladies of soul and body, a single particle from the precious stone, a single grain of the divine powder, is more than sufficient to cure him. “Let him hear, who hath ears to hear!” the Master said.
The Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury are but the accessorial elements and passive instruments of the Great Work. All depends, as we have said, on the internal Magnet of Paracelsus. The entire work consists in projection: and the projection is perfectly accomplished by the effective and realizable understanding of a single word.
There is but a single important operation in the work; this consists in Sublimation, which is nothing else, according to Geber than the elevation of dry matter, by means of fire, with adhesion to its proper vessel.
He who desires to attain to the understanding of the Grand Word and the possession of the Great Secret, ought carefully to read the Hermetic philosophers, and will undoubtedly attain initiation, as others have done; but he must take, for the key of their allegories, the single dogma of Hermes, contained in his table of Emerald, and follow, to class his acquisitions of knowledge and direct the operation, the order indicated in the Kabalistic alphabet of the Tarot.
Raymond Lulle has said that, to make gold, we must first have gold. Nothing is made out of nothing; we do not absolutely create wealth; we increase and multiply it. Let aspirants to science well understand, then, that neither the juggler’s tricks nor miracles are to be asked of the adept. The Hermetic science, like all the real sciences, is mathematically demonstrable. Its results, even material, are as rigorous as that of a correct equation.
The Hermetic Gold is not only a true dogma, a light without Shadow, a Truth without alloy of falsehood; it is also a material gold, real, pure, the most precious that can be found in the mines of the earth.
But the living gold, the living sulphur, or the true fire of the philosophers, is to be sought for in the house of Mercury. This fire is fed by the air: to express its attractive and expansive power, no better comparison can be used than that of the lightning, which is at first only a dry and earthly exhalation, united to the moist vapor, but which, by self-exhalation, takes a fiery nature, acts on the humidity inherent in it, which it attracts to itself and transmutes in its nature; after which it precipitates itself rapidly toward the earth, whither it is attracted by a fixed nature like unto its own.
These words, in form enigmatic, but clear at bottom, distinctly express what the philosophers mean by their Mercury, fecundated by Sulphur, and which becomes the Master and regenerator of the Salt. It is the AZOTH, the universal magnetic force, the grand magical agent, the Astral light, the light of life, fecundated by the mental force, the intellectual energy, which they compare to sulphur, on account of its affinities with the Divine fire.
As to the Salt, it is Absolute Matter. Whatever is matter contains salt; and all salt [nitre] may be converted into pure gold by the combined action of Sulphur and Mercury, which sometimes act so rapidly, that the transmutation may be effected in an instant, in an hour, without fatigue to the operator, and almost without expense. At other times, and according to the more refractory temper of the atmospheric media, the operation requires several days, several months, and sometimes even several years.
Two primary laws exist in nature, two essential laws, which produce, by counterbalancing each other, the universal equilibrium of things. These are fixedness and movement, analogous, in philosophy, to Truth and Fiction, and, in Absolute Conception, to Necessity and Liberty, which are the very essence of Deity. The Hermetic philosophers gave the name fixed to everything ponder-able, to everything that tends by its natural to central repose and immobility; they term volatile everything that more naturally and more readily obeys the law of movement; and they form their stone by analysis, that is to say, by the volatilization of the Fixed, and then by synthesis, that is, by fixing the volatile, which they effect by applying to the fixed, which they call their salt, the sulphurated Mercury, or the light of life, directed and made omnipotent by a Sovereign Will. Thus they master entire Nature, and their stone is found wherever there is salt, which is the reason for saying that no substance is foreign to the Great Work, and that even the most despicable and apparently vile matters may be changed into gold, which is true in this sense, that they all contain the original salt-principle, represented in our emblems by the cubical stone.
To know how to extract from all matter the pure salt concealed in it, is to have the Secret of the Stone. Wherefore this is a Saline stone, which the Od or universal astral light decomposes or re-compounds: it is single and manifold; for it may be dissolved like ordinary salt, and incorporated with other substances. Obtained by analysis, we might term it the Universal Sublimate: found by way of synthesis, it is the true panacea of the ancients, for it cures all maladies of soul and body, and has been styled, par-excellence, the medicine of all nature. When one, by absolute initiation, comes to control the forces of the universal agent, he always has this stone at his disposal, for its extraction is then a simple and easy operation, very distinct from the metallic projection or realization. This stone, when in a state of sublimation, must not be exposed to contact with the atmospheric air, which might partially dissolve it and deprive it of its virtue; nor could its emanations be inhaled without danger. The Sage prefers to preserve it in its natural envelopes, assured as he is of extracting it by a single effort of his will, and a single application of the Universal Agent to the envelopes, which the Kabalists call cortices, the shells, bark, or integuments.
Hieroglyphically to express this law of prudence, they gave their Mercury, personified in Egypt as Hermanubis, a dog’s head; and to their Sulphur, represented by the Baphomet of the Temple, that goat’s head which brought into such disrepute the occult Medieval associations.
Let us listen for a few moments to the Alchemists themselves, and endeavor to learn the hidden meaning of their mysterious words.
The RITUAL of the Degree of Scottish Elder MASTER, and Knight of Saint Andrew, being the fourth Degree of Ramsay, it is said upon the title-page, or of the Reformed or Rectified Rite of Dresden, has these passages:
“O how great and glorious is the presence of the Almighty God which gloriously shines from between the Cherubim!
“How adorable and astonishing are the rays of that glorious Light, that sends forth its bright and brilliant beams from the Holy Ark of Alliance and Covenant!
“Let us with the deepest veneration and devotion adore the great Source of Life, that Glorious Spirit who is the Most Merciful and Beneficent Ruler of the Universe and of all the creatures it contains!
“The secret knowledge of the Grand Scottish Master relates to the combination and transmutation of different substances; where-of that you may obtain a clear idea and proper understanding, you are to know that all matter and all material substances are composed of combinations of three several substances, extracted from the four elements, which three substances in combination are, , Salt,
“To these three substances allude the three golden basins, in the first of which was engraved the letter M∴, in the second, the letter G∴, and in the third nothing. The first, M∴, is the initial letter of the Hebrew word Malakh, which signifies Salt; and the second, G∴, of the Hebrew word Geparaith, which signifies Sulphur; and as there is no word in Hebrew to express the vaporous and intangible Spirit, there is no letter in the third basin.
“With these three principal substances you may effect the transmutation of metals, which must be done by means of the five points or rules of the Scottish Mastership.
“The first Master’s point shows us the Brazen Sea, wherein must always be rain-water; and out of this rain-water the Scottish Masters extract the first substance, which is Salt; which salt must afterward undergo a seven-fold manipulation and purification, before it will be properly prepared. This seven-fold purification is symbolized by the Seven Steps of Solomon’s Temple, which symbol is furnished us by the first point or rule of the Scottish Masters.
“After preparing the first substance, you are to extract the second, Sulphur, out of the purest gold, to which must then be added the purified or celestial Salt. They are to be mixed as the Art directs, and then placed in a vessel in the form of a SHIP, in which it is to remain, as the Ark of Noah was afloat, one hundred and fifty days, being brought to the first damp, warm degree of fire, that it may putrefy and produce the mineral fermentation. This is the second point or rule of the Scottish Masters.”
If you reflect, my Brother, that it was impossible for any one to imagine that either common salt or nitre could be extracted from rain-water, or sulphur from pure gold, you will no doubt suspect that some secret meaning was concealed in these words.
The Kabalah considers the immaterial part of man as threefold, consisting of NEPHESCH, RUACH, and NESCHAMAH, Psyche, Spiritus, and Mens, or Soul, Spirit, and Intellect. There are Seven Holy Palaces, Seven Heavens and Seven Thrones; and Souls are purified by ascending through Seven Spheres. A Ship, in Hebrew, is Ani; and the same word means I, Me, or Myself.
The RITUAL continues:
“Multiplying the substance thus obtained, is the third operation, which is done by adding to them the animate, volatile Spirit; which is done by means of the water of the Celestial Salt, as well as by the Salt, which must daily be added to it very carefully, and strictly observing to put neither too much nor too little; inasmuch as, if you add too much, you will destroy that growing and multiplying substance; and if too little, it will be self-consumed and destroyed, and shrink away, not having sufficient substantiality for its preservation. This third point or rule of the Scottish Masters gives us the emblem of the building of the Tower of Babel, used by our Scottish Masters, because by irregularity and want of due proportion and harmony that work was stopped; and the workmen could proceed no further.
“Next comes the fourth operation, represented by the Cubical Stone, whose faces and angles are all equal. As soon as the work is brought to the necessary point of multiplication, it is to be submitted to the third Degree of Fire, wherein it will receive the due proportion of the strength and substance of the metallic particles of the Cubical Stone; and this is the fourth point or rule of the Scottish Masters.
“Finally, we come to the fifth and last operation, indicated to us by the Flaming Star. After the work has become a duly-proportioned substance, it is to be subjected to the fourth and strongest Degree of fire, wherein it must remain three times twenty-seven hours; until it is thoroughly glowing, by which means it becomes a bright and shining tincture, wherewith the lighter metals may be changed, by the use of one part to a thousand of the metal. Wherefore this Flaming Star shows us the fifth and last point of the Scottish Masters.
“You should pass practically through the five points or rules of the Master, and by the use of one part to a thousand, trans-mute and ennoble metals. You may then in reality say that your age is a thousand years.”
In the oration of the Degree, the following hints are given as to its true meaning:
“The three divisions of the Temple, the Outer Court, Sanctuary, and Holy of Holies, signify the three Principles of our Holy Order, which direct to the knowledge of morality, and teach those most practical virtues that ought to be practised by mankind. Therefore the Seven Steps which lead up to the Outer Court of the Temple, are the emblem of the Seven-fold Light which we need to possess, before we can arrive at the height of knowledge, in which consist the ultimate limits of our order.
“In the Brazen Sea we are symbolically to purify ourselves from all pollutions, all faults and wrongful actions, as well those committed through error of judgment and mistaken opinion, as those intentionally done; inasmuch as they equally prevent us from arriving at the knowledge of True Wisdom. We must thoroughly cleanse and purify our hearts to their inmost recesses, before we can of right contemplate that Flaming Star, which is the emblem of the Divine and Glorious Shekinah, or presence of God; before we may dare approach the Throne of Supreme Wisdom.”
In the Degree of The True Mason [Le Vrai Maçon], styled in the title-page of its Ritual the 23d Degree of Masonry, or the 12th of the 5th class, the Tracing-board displays a luminous Triangle, with a great Yōd in the centre.
“The Triangle,” says the Ritual, “represents one God in three Persons; and the great Yōd is the initial letter of the last word.
“The Dark Circle represents the Chaos, which in the beginning God created.
“The Cross within the Circle, the Light by means whereof He developed the Chaos.
“The Square, the four Elements into which it was resolved.
“The Triangle, again, the three Principles [Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury], which the intermingling of the elements produced.
“God creates; Nature produces; Art multiplies. God created Chaos; Nature produced it; God, Nature, and Art, have perfected it.
“The Altar of Perfumes indicates the Fire that is to be applied to Nature. The two towers are the two furnaces, moist and dry, in which it is to be worked. The bowl is the mould of oak that is to inclose the philosophal egg.
“The two figures surmounted by a Cross are the two vases, Nature and Art, in which is to be consummated the double marriage of the white woman with the red Servitor, from which marriage will spring a most Potent King.
“Chaos means universal matter, formless, but susceptible of all forms. Form is the Light inclosed in the seeds of all species; and its home is in the Universal Spirit.
“To work on universal matter, use the internal and external fire: the four elements result, the Principia Principiorum and Inmediata; Fire, Air, Water, Earth. There are four qualities of these elements–the warm and dry, the cold and moist. Two appertain to each element: The dry and cold, to the Earth; the cold and moist, to Water; the moist and warm, to the Air; and the warm and dry, to Fire: whereby the Fire connects with the Earth; all the elements, as Hermes said, moving in circles.
“From the mixture of the four Elements and of their four qualities, result the three Principles,–Mercury, Sulphur, and Salt. These are the philosophical, not the vulgar.
“The philosophical Mercury is a Water and SPIRIT, which dissolves and sublimates the Sun; the philosophical Sulphur, a fire and a SOUL, which mollifies and colors it; the philosophical Salt, an Earth and a BODY, which coagulates and fixes it; and the whole is done in the bosom of the Air.
“From these three-Principles result the four Elements duplicated, or the Grand Elements, Mercury, Sulphur, Salt, and Glass; two of which are volatile,–the Water [Mercury] and the Air [Sulphur], which is oil; for all substances liquid in their nature avoid fire, which takes from the one [water] and burns the other [oil]; but the other two are dry and solid, to wit, the Salt, wherein Fire is contained, and the pure Earth, which is the Glass; on both of which the Fire has no other action than to melt and refine them, unless one makes use of the liquid alkali; for, just as each element consists of two qualities, so these great duplicated Elements partake, each of two of the simple elements, or, more properly speaking, of all the four, according to the greater or less degree of each,–the Mercury partaking more of the Water, to which it is assigned; the Oil or Sulphur, more of the Air; the Salt, of the Fire; and the Glass, of the Earth; which is found, pure and clear, in the centre of all the elementary composites, and is the last to disengage itself from the others.
“The four Elements and three Principles reside in all the Compounds, Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral; but more potently in some than in others.
“The Fire gives them Movement; the Air, Sensation; the Water, Nutriment; and the Earth, Subsistence.
“The four duplicated Elements engender THE STONE, if one is careful enough to supply them with the proper quantity of fire, and to combine them according to their natural weight. Ten parts of Air make one of Water; ten of Water, one of Earth; and ten of Earth, one of Fire; the whole by the Active Symbol of the one, and the Passive Symbol of the other, whereby the conversion of the Elements is effected.”
The Allusion of the Ritual, here, is obviously to the four Worlds of the Kabalah. The ten Sephiroth of the world Briah proceed from Malakoth, the last of the ten Emanations of the world Aziluth; the ten Sephiroth of the world Yezirah, from Malakoth of Brian; and the ten of the world Asiah, from Malakoth of Yezirah. The Pass-word of the Degree is given as Metralon, which is a corruption of METATRON, the Cherub, who and Sandalphon are in the Kabalah the Chief of the Angels. The Active and Passive Symbols are the Male and Female.
The Ritual continues:
“It is thereby evident that, in the Great Work, we must employ ten parts of philosophical Mercury to one of Sun or Moon.
“This is attained by Solution and Coagulation. These words mean that we must dissolve the body and coagulate the spirit; which operations are effected by the moist and dry bath.
“Of colors, black is the Earth; white, the Water; blue, the Air; and red, the Fire; wherein also are involved very great secrets and mysteries.
“The apparatus employed in ‘The Great Work’ consists of the Moist bath, the Dry bath, the Vases of Nature and Art, the bowl of oak, lutum sapientiæ, the Seal of Hermes, the tube, the physical lamp, and the iron rod.
“The work is perfected in seventeen philosophical months, according to the mixture of ingredients. The benefits reaped from it are of two kinds–one affecting the soul, and the other the body. The former consist in knowing God, Nature, and ourself; and those to the body are wealth and health.
“The Initiate traverses Heaven and Earth. Heaven is the World manifest to the Intelligence, subdivided into Paradise and Hell; Earth is the World manifest to the Senses, also subdivided into the Celestial and that of the Elements.
“There are Sciences specially connected with each of these. The one is ordinary and common; the other, mystic and secret. The World cognizable by the Intellect has the Hermetic Theology and the Kabbalah; the Celestial Astrology; and that of the Elements, Chemistry, which by its decompositions and separations, effected by fire, reveals all the most hidden secrets of Nature, in the three kinds of Compound Substances. This last science is styled ‘Hermetic,’ or ‘The operating of the Great Work.'”
The Ritual of the Degree of Kabalistic and Hermetic Rose ✠, has these passages:
“The true Philosophy, known and practised by Solomon, is the basis on which Masonry is founded.
“Our Ancient Masons have concealed from us the most important point of this Divine Art, under hieroglyphical characters, which are but enigmas and parables, to all the Senseless, the Wicked, and the Ambitious.
“He will be supremely fortunate, who shall, by arduous labor, discover this sacred place of deposit, wherein all naked the sublime Truth is hidden; for he may be assured that he has found the True Light, the True Felicity, the True Heavenly Good. Then may it truly be said that he is one of the True Elect; for it is the only real and most Sublime Science of all those to which a mortal can aspire: his days will be prolonged, and his soul freed of all vices and corruption; into which” (it is added, to mislead, as if from fear too much would be disclosed), “the human race is often led by indigence.”
As the symbolism of the Hall and the language of the ritual mutually explain each other, it should be noted here, that in this Degree the columns of the hall, 12 in number, are white variegated with black and red. The hangings are black, and over that crimson.
Over the throne is a great Eagle, in gold, on a black ground. In the center of the Canopy the Blazing Star in gold, with the letter Yōd in its centre. On the right and left of the throne are the Sun in gold and the Moon in silver. The throne is ascended to by three Steps. The hall and ante-room are each lighted by ten lights, and a single one at the entrance. The colors, black, white, and crimson appear in the clothing; and the Key and Balance are among the symbols.
The duty of the Second Grand Prior, says the Ritual, is “to see if the Chapter is hermetically sealed; whether the materials are ready, and the elements; whether the Black gives place to the White, and the White to the Red.”
“Be laborious,” it says, “like the Star, and procure the light of the Sages, and hide yourself from the Stupid Profane and the Ambitious, and be like the Owl, which sees only by night, and hides itself from treacherous curiosity.”
“The Sun, on entering each of his houses, should be received there by the four elements, which you must be careful to invite to accompany you, that they may aid you in your undertaking; for without them the House would be melancholy: wherefore you will give him to feast upon the four elements.
“When he shall have visited his twelve houses, and seen you attentive there to receive him, you will become one of his chiefest favorites, and he will allow you to share all his gifts. Matter will then no longer have power over you; you will, so to say, be no longer a dweller on the earth; but after certain periods you will give back to it a body which is its own, to take in its stead one altogether Spiritual. Matter is then deemed to be dead to the world.
“Therefore it must be re-vivified, and made to be born again from its ashes, which you will effect by virtue of the vegetation of the Tree of Life, represented to us by the branch of acacia. Whoever shall learn to comprehend and execute this great work, will know great things, say the Sages of the work; but whenever you depart from the center of the Square and the Compass you will no longer be able to work with success.
“Another Jewel is necessary for you, and in certain undertakings cannot be dispensed with. It is what is termed the Kabbalistic pentacle . . . This carries with it the power of commanding the spirits of the elements. It is necessary for you to know how to use it, and that you will learn by perseverance if you are a lover of the science of our predecessors the Sages.
“A great Black Eagle, the King of Birds. He alone it is that can fire the Sun, material in its nature, that has no form, and yet by its form develops color. The black is a complete harbinger of the work: it changes color and assumes a natural form, out whereof will emerge a brilliant Sun.
“The birth of the Sun is always announced by its Star, represented by the Blazing Star, which you will know by its fiery color; and it is followed in its course by the silvery luster of the Moon.
“A rough Ashlar is the shapeless stone which is to be prepared in order to commence the philosophical work; and to be developed, in order to change its form from triangular to cubic, after the separation from it of its Salt, Sulfur, and Mercury, by the aid of the Square, Level, Plumb, and Balance, and all the other Masonic implements which we use symbolically.
“Here me put them to philosophical use, to constitute a well-proportioned edifice, through which you are to make pass the crude material, analogous to a candidate commencing his initiation into our Mysteries. When we build we must observe all the rules and proportions; for otherwise the Spirit of Life cannot lodge therein. So you will build the great tower, in which is to burn the fire of the Sages, or, in other words, the fire of Heaven; as also the Sea of the Sages, in which the Sun and Moon are to bathe. That is the basin of Purification, in which will be the water of Celestial Grace, water that doth not soil the hands, but purifies all leprous bodies.
“Let us labor to instruct our Brother, to the end that by his toils he may succeed in discovering the principle of life contained in the profundity of matter, and known by the name of Alkahest.
“The most potent of the names of Deity is ADONAI. Its power is to put the Universe in movement; and the Knights who shall be fortunate enough to possess it, with weight and measure, shall have at their disposition all the potences that inhabit it, the Elements, and the cognizance of all the virtues and sciences that man is capable of knowing. By its power they would succeed in discovering the primary metal of the Sun, which holds within itself the Principle of the germ, and wherewith we can put in alliance and six other metals, each of which contains the principles and primitive seed of the grand philosophical work.
“The six other metals are Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury, and Luna; vulgarly known as Lead, Tin, Iron, Copper, Quicksilver, and Silver. Gold is not included; because it is not in its nature a metal. It is all Spirit and incorruptible; wherefore it is the emblem of the Sun, which presides over the Light.
“The vivifying Spirit, called Alkahest, has in itself the generative virtue of producing the triangular Cubical Stone, and contains in itself all the virtues to render men happy in this world and in that to come. To arrive at the composition of that Alkahest, we begin by laboring at the science of the union of the four Elements which are to be educed from the three Kingdoms of Nature, Mineral, Vegetable, and Animal; the rule, measure, weight, and equipoise whereof have each their key. We then employ in one work the animals, vegetables, and minerals, each in his season, which make the space of the Houses of the Sun, where they have all the virtues required.
“Something from each of the three Kingdoms of Nature is assigned to each Celestial House, to the end that everything may be done in accordance with sound philosophical rules; and that everything maybe thoroughly purified in its proper time and place in order to be presented at the wedding-table of the Spouse and the six virgins who hold the mystic shovel, without a common fire, but with an elementary fire, that comes primarily by attraction, and by digestion in the philosophical bed lighted by the four elements.
“At the banquet of the Spouses, the viands, being thoroughly, purified, are served in Salt, Sulfur, Spirit, and Oil; a sufficient quantity thereof is taken every month, and therewith is compounded, by means of the Balance of Solomon, the Alkahest, to serve the Spouses, when they are laid on the nuptial bed, there to engender their embryo, producing for the human race immense treasures, that will last as long as the world endures.
“Few are capable of engaging in this great work. Only the true Free-Masons may of right aspire to it; and even of them, very few are worthy to attain it, because most of them are ignorant of the Clavicules and their contents, and of the Pentacle of Solomon, which teaches how to labor at the great work.
“The weight raised by Solomon with his balance was 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; which contains 25 times unity, 2 multiplied by 2; 3 multiplied by 3; 4 multiplied by 4; 5 multiplied by 5, and once 9; these numbers thus involving the squares of 5 and 2, the cube of 2, the square of the square of 2, and the square of 3.”
Thus far the Ritual, in the numbers mentioned by it, is an allusion to the 47th problem of Euclid, a symbol of Blue Masonry, entirely out of place there, and its meaning unknown. The base of the right-angled triangle being 3, and the perpendicular 4, the hypotenuse is 5, by the rule that the sum of the squares of the two former equals the square of the latter,–3×3 being 9; and 4×4, 16; and 9+16 being 25, the square of 5. The triangle contains in its sides the numbers 1, 2, and 3. The Perpendicular is the Male; the Base, the Female; the Hypotenuse, the product of the two.
To fix the volatile, in the Hermetic language, means to materialize the spirit; to volatilize the fixed is to spiritualize matter.
To separate the subtle from the gross, in the first operation, which is wholly internal, is to free our soul from all prejudice and all vice. This is effected by the use of the philosophical SALT, that is to say, of WISDOM; of MERCURY, that is to say, of personal aptitude and labor; and of SULPHUR, which represents the vital energy, and the ardor of the will. Thus we succeed in changing into spiritual gold such things even as are of least value, and even the foul things of the earth.
It is in this sense we are to understand the parables of the Hermetic philosophers and the prophets of Alchemy; but in their works, as in the Great Work, we must skillfully separate the subtile from the gross, the mystic from the positive, allegory from theory. If you would read them with pleasure and understandingly, you must first understand them allegorically in their entirety and then descend from allegories to realities by way of the correspondences or analogies indicated in the single dogma:
“What is above is like what is below; and what is below is like what is above.”
The treatise “Minerva Mundi,” attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, contains, under the most poetical and profound allegories, the dogma of the self-creation of beings, or of the law of creation that results from the accord of two forces, these which the Alchemists called the Fixed and the Volatile, and which are, in the Absolute, Necessity and Liberty.
When the Masters in Alchemy say that it needs but little time and expense to accomplish the works of Science. when they affirm, above all, that but a single vessel is necessary, when they speak of the Great and Single furnace, which all can use, which is within the reach of all the world, and which men possess without knowing it, they allude to the philosophical and moral Alchemy. In fact, a strong and determined will can, in a little while, attain complete independence; and we all possess that chemical instrument, the great and single athanor or furnace, which serves to separate the subtile from the gross, and the fixed from the volatile. This instrument, complete as the world, and accurate as the mathematics themselves, is designated by the Sages under the emblem of the Pentagram or Star with five points, the absolute sign of human intelligence.
The end and perfection of the Great Work is expressed, in alchemy, by a triangle surmounted by a cross: and the letter Tau, ת, the last of the Sacred alphabet, has the same meaning.
The “elementary fire,” that comes primarily by attraction, is evidently Electricity or the Electric Force, primarily developed as magnetism, and in which is perhaps the secret of life or the vital force.
Paracelsus, the great Reformer in medicine, discovered magnetism long before Mesmer, and pushed to its last consequences this luminous discovery, or rather this initiation into the magic of the ancients, who understood the grand magical agent better than we do, and did not regard the Astral Light, Azoth, the universal magnetism of the Sages, as an animal and particular fluid, emanating only from certain special beings.
The four Elements, the four symbolic animals, and the re-duplicated Principles correspond with each other, and are thus arranged by the Hermetic Masons:
The Air and Earth represent the Male Principle; and the Fire and Water belong to the Female Principle. To these four forms correspond the four following philosophical ideas.
Spirit: Matter: Movement: Repose.
Alchemy reduces these four things to three:
The Absolute: the Fixed: the Volatile.
Reason: Necessity; Liberty: are the synonyms of these three words.
As all the great Mysteries of God and the Universe are thus hidden in the Ternary, it everywhere appears in Masonry and in the Hermetic Philosophy under its mask of Alchemy. It even appears where Masons do not suspect it; to teach the doctrine of the equilibrium of Contraries, and the resultant Harmony.
The double triangle of Solomon is explained by Saint John in a remarkable manner: There are, he says, three witnesses in Heaven,–the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and three witnesses on earth,–the breath, water, and blood. He thus agrees with the Masters of the Hermetic Philosophy, who give to their Sulphur the name of Ether, to their Mercury the name of philosophical water, to their Salt that of blood of the dragon, or menstruum of the earth. The blood, or Salt, corresponds by opposition with the Father; the Azothic, or Mercurial water, with the Word, or Logos; and the breath, with the Holy Spirit. But the things of High Symbolism can be well understood only by the true children of Science.
Alchemy has its Symbolic Triad of Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury,–man consisting, according to the Hermetic philosophers, of Body, Soul, and Spirit. The Dove, the Raven, and the Phœnix are striking Symbols of Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, and the Beauty resulting from the equilibrium of the two.
If you would understand the true secrets of Alchemy, you must study the works of the Masters with patience and assiduity. Every word is often an enigma; and to him who reads in haste, the whole will seem absurd. Even when they seem to teach that the Great Work is the purification of the Soul, and so to deal only with morals, they most conceal their meaning, and deceive all but the Initiates.
Yōd [σ or י] is termed in the Kabalah the opifex, workman of the Deity. It is, says the Porta Cælorum, single and primal, like one, which is the first among numbers; and like a point, the first before all bodies. Moved lengthwise, it produces a line, which is Vau, and this moved sidewise produces a superficies, which is Daleth. Thus Vau [ו] becomes Daleth [ד]; for movement tends from right to left; and all communication is from above to below. The plenitude of Yōd, that is, the name of this letter, spelled, is יוד, Y-O-D. Vau [which represents 6] and Daleth  are 10; like Yōd, their principle.
Yōd, says the Siphra de Zeniutha, is the Symbol of Wisdom and of the Father.
The Principle called Father, says the Idra Suta, is comprehended in Yōd, which flows downward from the Holy influence, wherefore Yōd is the most occult of all the letters; for he is the beginning and end of all things. The Supernal Wisdom is Yōd; and all things are included in Yōd, who is therefore called Father of Fathers, or the Generator of the Universal. The Principle of all things is called the House of all things: wherefore Yōd is the beginning and end of all things; as it is written: “Thou halt made all things in Wisdom.” For The All is termed Wisdom; and in it The All is contained; and the summary of all things is the Holy Name.
Yōd, says the Siphra de Zeniutha, signifying the Father, approaches the letter He, which is the Mother; and by the combination of these two is denoted that luminous influence wherewith Binah is imbued by the Supernal Wisdom.
In the name יהו, says the same, are included the Father, Mother, and Microprosopos, their issue. He, impregnated by Vau, produced Microprosopos, or Seir Anpin.
Wisdom, Hakemah, is the Principle of all things: it is the Father of Fathers, and in it are the beginning and end of all things. Microprosopos, the second Universal, is the issue of Wisdom, the Father, and Binah, the Mother, and is composed of the six Numerations, Geburah, Gedulah, and Tephareth, Netsach, Hōd, and Yesod; is represented under the form of a man, and said to have at first occupied the place afterward filled by the world Briah [of Creation], but afterward to have been raised to the Aziluthic sphere, and received Wisdom, Intelligence, and Cognition [Daath] from the Supernal Wisdom and Intellectuality.
Vau, in the tri-literal word, denotes these six members of Microprosopos. For this latter is. formed after the fashion of Macroprosopos, but without Kether, the will, which remains in the first prototype or Universal; though invested with a portion of the Divine Intellectual Power and Capacity. The first Universal does not use the first person, and is called in the third person, הוא, HUA, HE: but the second Universal speaks in the first person, using the word אני ANI, I.
The IDRA RABBA, or Synodus Magna, one of the books of the Sohar, says:
The Eldest of the Eldest [the Absolute Deity] is in Microprosopos. All things are one: all was, all is, all will be: there neither will be, nor is, nor has been, mutation.
But He conformed Himself, by the formings, into a form that contains all forms, in a form which comprehends all genera.
This form is in the likeness of His form; and is not that form but its analogue: wherefore the human form is the form of all above and below, which are included in it: and because it embraces all above and below. The Most Holy so took form, and so Microprosopos was configured. All things are equally one, in each of the two Universals; but in the second His ways are divided, and judgment is on our side, and on the side that looks toward us, also, they differ.
These Secrets are made known only to the reapers in the Holy Field.
The Most Holy Ancient is not called ATHAH, Thou, but Hun, He: but in Microprosopos, where is the beginning of things, He has the name ATHAH, and also AB, Father. From Him is the beginning, and He is called Thou, and is the Father of Fathers. He issues from the Non-Ens; and therefore is beyond cognition.
Wisdom is the Principle of the Universe, and from it thirty-two ways diverge: and in them the law is contained, in twenty-two letters and ten words. Wisdom is the Father of Fathers, and in this Wisdom is found the Beginning and the End: wherefore there is a wisdom in each Universal, one above, the other below.
The Commentary of Rabbi Chajun Vital, on the Siphra de Zeniutha, says: At the beginning of emanation, Microprosopos issued from the Father, and was intermingled with the Mother, under the mysteries of the letter,ה [He], resolved in דו, that is, Daleth and Vau; by which Vau is denoted Microprosopos: because Vau is six, and he is constituted of the six parts that follow Hakemah and Binah. And, according to this conception, the Father is called Father of Fathers, because from Him these Fathers proceed, Benignity, Severity, and Beauty. Microprosopos was then like the letter Vau in the letter He, because He had no head; but when He was now born, three brains were constituted for Him, by the flow of Divine Light from above.
And as the world of restitution [after the vessels of the Sephiroth below Binah had been broken, that from the fragments evil might be created] is instituted after the fashion of the Balance, so also is it formed throughout in the human form. But Malakoth, Regnum, is a complete and separate person, behind Microprosopos, and in conjunction with him, and the two are called man.
The first world [of Inanity] could not continue and did not subsist, because it had no human conformation nor the system of the Balance, the Sephiroth being points, one below the other. The first Adam [Microprosopos, as distinguished from Macroprosopos, the first Occult Adam] was the beginning, wherein the ten Numerations proceeded forth from potence into act.
Microprosopos is the second garment or interposed medium, with respect to the Elder Most Holy, who is the name Tetragrammaton; and he is called Alohim; because the former is Absolute Commiseration; while in Macroprosopos his lights have the nature of Severities, with respect to the elder Universal; though they are Commiseration, with respect to the lights of Malakoth and the three lower worlds.
All the conformations of Macroprosopos come from the first Adam; who, to interpose a second covering, caused a single spark to issue from the sphere of Severity, of whose five letters is generated the name Alohim. With this issued from the brain a most subtle air, which takes its place on the right hand, while the spark of fire is on the left. Thus the white and red do not intermix, that is, the Air and Fire, which are Mercy and Judgment.
Microprosopos is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, his Severities being the Evil.
REGNUM, to which is given the name of Word of The Lord, superinvests Heaven, as the six members of the Degree Tephareth are called, and these become and are constituted by that superior vestiture. For every conformation and constitution is effected by means of veiling, because occultation here is the same as manifestation, the excess of light being veiled, so that, diminished in intensity and degree, it may be received by those below. Those six members conceived of as contained in Binah, are said to be in the World of Creation; as in Tephareth, in that of Formation; and as in Malakoth, in that of Fabrication.
Before the institution of equilibrium, face was not toward face: Microprosopos and his wife issuing forth back to back, and yet cohering. So above; before the prior Adam was conformed into male and female, and the state of equilibrium established, the Father and Mother were not face to face. For the Father denotes the most perfect Love; and the Mother the most perfect Rigor. And the seven supernal sons who proceeded from her, from Binah, who brought forth seven, were all most perfect rigors, having no connection with a root in the Most Holy Ancient; that is, they were all dead, destroyed, shattered; but they were placed in equilibrium, in the equipoise of the Occult Wisdom, when it was conformed into male and female, Rigor and Love, and they were then restored, and there was given them a root above.
The Father is Love and Mercy, and with a pure and subtle Aur or Benignity impregnates the Mother, who is Rigor and Severity of Judgments; and the product is the brain of Microprosopos.
It was determined, says the Introduction to the Book Sohar, by the Deity, to create Good and Evil in the world, according to what is said in Isaiah, “who makes the bight and creates the Evil.” But the Evil was at first occult, and could not be generated and brought forth, except by the sinning of the First Adam. Wherefore He determined that the numerations first emanated, from Benignity downward, should be destroyed and shattered by the excessive influx of His Light; His intention being to create of them the worlds of Evils. But the first three were to remain and subsist, that among the fragments should be neither Will, Intellectual Power, nor the Capacity of Intellection of the Divinity. The last seven numerations were points, like the first three, each subsisting independently, unsustained by companionship; which was the cause of their dying and being shattered.
There was then no Love between them, but only a two-fold Fear; Wisdom, for example, fearing lest it should ascend again to its Source in Kether; and also lest it should descend into Binah. Hence there was no union between any two, except Hakemah and Binah, and this imperfect, with averted faces. This is the meaning of the saying, that the world was created by Judgment, which is fear. And so that world could not subsist, and the Seven Kings were dethroned, until the attribute of Compassion was adjoined to it, and then restoration took place. Thence came Love and Union, and six of the parts were united into one person; for Love is the attribute of Compassion or Mercy.
Binah produced the Seven Kings, not successively, but all together. The Seventh is Regnum, called a stone, the corner-stone, because on it are builded the palaces of the three lower worlds.
The first six were shattered into fragments; but Regnum was crushed into a formless mass, lest the malignant demons created from the fragments of the others should receive bodies from it, since from it came bodies and vitality [Nephesch].
From the fragments of the vessels came all Evils; judgments, turbid waters, impurities, the Serpent, and Adam Belial [Baal]. But their internal light re-ascended to Binah, and then flowed down again into the worlds Briah and Yezirah, there to form vestiges of the Seven Numerations. The Sparks of the great Influence of the shattered vases descending into the four spiritual elements, Fire, Air, Water, and Earth, and thence into the inanimate, vegetable, living, and speaking kingdoms, became Souls.
Selecting the suitable from the unsuitable lights, and separating the good from the evil, the Deity first restored the universality of the Seven Kings of the World Aziluth, and afterward the three other Worlds.
And though in them were both good and evil, still this evil did not develop itself in act, since the Severities remained, though mitigated; some portion of them being necessary to prevent the fragments of the integuments from ascending. These were also left, because connection of two is necessary to generation. And this necessity for the existence of Severity is the mystery of the pleasure and warmth of the generative appetite; and thence Love between husband and wife.
If the Deity, says the Introduction, had not created worlds and then destroyed them, there could have been no evil in the world, but all things must have been good. There would have been neither reward nor punishment in the world. There would have been no merit in righteousness, for the Good is known by the evil, nor would there have been fruitfulness or multiplication in the world. If all carnal concupiscence were enchained for three days in the mouth of the great abyss, the egg of one of the days would be wanting to the sick man. In time to come it will be called Laban [לבן–white], because it will be whitened of its impurity, and will return to the realm Israel, and they will pray the Lord to give them the appetite of carnal concupiscence, for the begetting of children.
The intention of God was, when He created the world, that His creatures should recognize His existence. Therefore He created evils, to afflict them withal when they should sin, and Light and Blessing to reward the just. And therefore man necessarily has free-will and election, since Good and Evil are in the World.
And these kings died, says the Commentary, because the condition of equilibrium did not yet exist, nor was Adam Kadmon formed male and female. They were not in contact with what was alive: nor had any root in Adam Kadmon; nor was Wisdom which outflowed from Him, their root, nor did they connect with it. For all these were pure mercies and most simple Love; but those were rigorous judgments. Whence face looked not toward face; nor the Father toward the Mother, because from her proceeded judgments. Nor Macroprosopos toward Microprosopos. And Regnum, the last numeration, was empty and inane. It has nothing of itself; and, as it were, was nothing, receiving nothing from them. Its need was, to receive Love from the Male; for it is mere rigor and judgment; and the Love and Rigor must temper each other, to produce creation, and its multitudes above and below. For it was made to be inhabited; and when rigorous judgments rule in it, it is inane because its processes cannot be carried on.
Wherefore the Balance must needs be instituted, that there might be a root above, so that judgments might be restored and tempered, and live and not again die. And Seven Conformations descend; and all things become in equilibrium, and the needle of the Balance is the root above.
In the world Yezirah, says the Pneumatica Kabalistica, י de-notes Kether; יה, Hakemah and Binah; and יהו, Gedulah, Geburah, and Tephareth; and thus Vau is Beauty and Harmony. The Man is Hakemah; the Eagle, Binah; the Lion, Gedulah; and the Ox, Geburah. And the mysterious circle is thus formed by the Sohar and all the Kabalists: Michael and the face of the Lion are on the South, and the right hand, with the letter י, Yōd, and Water; Gabriel and the face of the Ox, on the North, and left hand, with the first ה of the Tetragrammaton and Fire; Uriel and the face of the Eagle, on the East and forward, with ו and Air; and Raphael and the face of the Man, on the West, and backward with the last ה, and Earth. In the same order, the four letters represent the four worlds.
Rabbi Schimeon Ben Jochai says that the four animals of the Mysterious Chariot, whose wheels are Netsach and Had, are Gedulah, whose face is the Lion’s; Geburah, with that of the Ox; Tephareth, with that of the Eagle; and Malakoth, with that of the Man.
The Seven lower Sephiroth, says the Æsch Mezareph, will represent Seven Metals; Gedulah and Geburah, Silver and Gold; Tephareth, Iron; Netsach and Hōd, Tin and Copper; Yesod, Lead; and Malakoth will be the metallic Woman and Morn of the Sages, the field wherein are to be sowed the Seeds of the Secret Minerals, to wit, the Water of Gold; but in these such mysteries are concealed as no tongue can utter.
The word אמש, Amas, is composed of the initials of the three Hebrew words that signify Air, Water, and Fire; by which, say the Kabalists, are denoted Benignity, Judicial Rigor, and Mercy or Compassion mediating between them.
Malakoth, says the Apparatus, is called Haikal, Temple or Palace, because it is the Palace of the Degree Tephareth, which is concealed and contained in it, and Haikal denotes the place in which all things are contained.
For the better understanding of the Kabalah, remember that Kether, or the Crown, is treated of as a person, composed of the ten Numerations, and as such termed Arik Anpin, or Macroprosopos:
That Hakemah is a person, and termed Abba, or Father:
That Binah is a person, and termed Mother, Imma:
That Tephareth, including all the Numerations from Khased or Gedulah to Yesod, is a person, called Seir Anpin, or Microprosopos. These Numerations are six in number, and are represented by the interlaced triangle, or the Seal of Solomon.
And Malakoth is a person, and called the wife of Microprosopos. Vau represents the Beauty or Harmony, consisting of the six parts which constitute Seir Anpin.
The wife, Malakoth, is said to be behind the husband, Seir, and to have no other cognition of him. And this is thus explained: That every cognizable object is to be known in two ways: à priori, which is when it is known by means of its cause, or of itself; or, à posteriori when it is known by its effects. The most nearly perfect mode of cognition is, when the intellect knows the thing itself, in itself, and through itself. But if it knows the thing by its similitude or idea, or species separate from it, or by its effects and operations, the cognition is much feebler and more imperfect. And it is thus only that Regnum, the wife of Seir, knows her husband, until face is turned to face, when they unite, and she has the more nearly perfect knowledge. For then the Deity, as limited and manifested in Seir and the Universe are one.
Vau is Tephareth, considered as the Unity in which are the six members, of which itself is one. Tephareth, Beauty, is the column which supports the world, symbolized by the column of the junior Warden in the Blue Lodges. The world was first created by Judgment: and as it could not so subsist, Mercy was conjoined with Judgment, and the Divine Mercies sustain the Universe.
God, says the Idra Suta, formed all things in the form of male and female, since otherwise the continuance of things was impossible. The All-embracing Wisdom, issuing and shining from the Most Holy Ancient, shines not otherwise than as male and female. Wisdom as the Father, Intelligence the Mother, are in equilibrium as male and female, and they are conjoined, and one shines in the other. Then they generate, and are expanded in the Truth. Then the two are the Perfection of all things, when they are coupled; and when the Son is in them, the summary of all things is in one.
These things are intrusted only to the Holy Superiors, who have entered and gone out and known the ways of the Most Holy God, so as not to err in them, to the right hand or to the left: For these things are hidden; and the lofty Holinesses shine in them, as light flows from the splendor of a lamp.
These things are committed only to those who have entered and not withdrawn; for he who has not done so had better never have been born.
All things are comprehended in the letters Vau and He; and all are one system; and these are the letters, תבונת. Tabunah, Intelligence.