|Rivista di Massoneria - Revue de Franc-Maçonnerie - Revista de Masonerìa - Revista de Maçonaria|
MORALS and DOGMA by ALBERT PIKE
Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry , prepared for the Supreme Council of the Thirty Third Degree for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States. Charleston, 1871.
|Chapter 28 - Knight of the Sun or Prince Adept (Part 1)|
XXVIII. 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 he Universe is hidden. Make of Him no idols and visible images; but rather worship Him in the deep solitudes of sequestered forests; for He is invisible, and fills the Universe as its soul, and liveth not in any Temple !
Light and Darkness are the World's Eternal ways. God is the principle of everything that exists, and the Father of all Beings. He is eternal, immovable, and Self-Existent. There are no bounds to His power. At one glance He sees the Past, the Present, and the Future; and the procession of the builders of the Pyramids, with us and our remotest Descendants, is now passing before Him. He reads our thoughts before they are known to ourselves. He rules the movements of the Universe, and all events and revolutions are the creatures of His will. For He is the Infinite Mind and 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, as communicated to man, came the LIGHT of his existence. Let no man speak the WORD, for by it THE FATHER made light and darkness, the world and living creatures!
The Chaldean upon his plains worshipped me, and the sea-loving Phoenician. They builded me temples and towers, and burned sacrifices to me upon a thousand altars. Light was divine to them, and they thought me a God. But I am nothing--nothing and LIGHT is the creature of the unseen GOD that taught the true religion to the Ancient Patriarchs: AWFUL, MYSTERIOUS, THE ABSOLUTE.
Man was created pure; and God gave him TRUTH, as He gave him LIGHT. He has lost the truth and found error. He wandered far into darkness; and round him Sin and Shame hover evermore. The Soul that is impure, and sinful, and defiled with earthly stains, cannot again unite with God, until, by long trials and many purifications, it is finally delivered from the old clamity; and Light overcomes Darkness and dethrones it, in the Soul.
God is the First; indestructible, eternal, UNCREATED, INVISIBLE. Wisdom, Justice, Truth, and Mercy, with Harmony and a Love, are of His essence, and Eternity and Infinite of Extension. He is silent, and consents with MIND, and is known to Souls through MIND alone. In Him were all things originally contained, and from Him all things were evolved. For out of His Divine SILENCE and REST, after an infinitude of time, was unfolded the WORD, or the Divine Power and then in turn the Mighty, ever-acting, measureless INTELLECT; and from the WORD were evolved the myriads of suns and systems that make the Universe; and fire, and light, and the electric HARMONY, which is the harmony of spheres and numbers: and from the INTELLECT all Souls and intellects of men.
In the beginning, the Universe was but ONE SOUL. HE was THE ALL, alone with TIME and SPACE, and Infinite as they.
--- HE HAD THIS THOUGHT: "I Create Worlds:" and lo! the Universe, and the laws of harmony and motion that rule it, the expression of a thought of God; and bird and beast, and every living thing but Man: and light and air, and the mysterious currents, and the dominion of mysterious numbers !
--- HE HAD THIS THOUGHT: "I Create Man, whose Soul shall be my image, and he shall rule." And lo ! Man, with senses, instinct, and a reasoning mind !
--- And yet not MAN ! but an animal that breathed, and saw, and thought: until an immaterial spark from God's own Infinite Being penetrated the brain, and became the Soul: and lo, MAN THE IMMORTAL! Thus, threefold, fruit of God's thought, is Man; that sees and hears and feels; that thinks and reasons; that loves and is in harmony with the Universe.
Before the world grew old, the primitive truth faded out from men's Souls. Then man asked himself, "What am 1? and how and whence am I? and whither do I go?" And the Soul, looking inward upon itself, strove to learn whether that "I" were mere matter; its thought and reason and its passions and affections mere results of material combination; or a material Being enveloping an immaterial Spirit: . . and further it strove, by self-examination, to learn whether that Spirit were an individual essence, with a separate immortal existence, or an infinitesimal portion of a Great First Principle, inter-penetrating the Universe and the infinitude of space, and undulating like light and heat: . . and so they wandered further amid the mazes of error; and imagined vain philosophies; wallowing in the sloughs of materialism and sensualism, of beating their wings vainly in the vacuum of abstractions and idealities.
While yet the first oaks still put forth their ]eaves, man lost the perfect knowledge of the One True God, the Ancient Absolute Existence, the Infinite Mind and Supreme Intelligence; and floated helplessly out upon the shoreless ocean of conjecture. Then the soul vexed itself with seeking to learn whether the material universe was a mere chance combination of atoms, or the work of Infinite, Uncreated Wisdom: . . whether the Deity was a concentrated, and the Universe an extended immateriality; or whether He was a personal existence, an Omnipotent, Eternal, Supreme Essence, regulating matter at will; or subjecting it to unchangeable laws throughout eternity; and to Whom, Himself Infinite and Eternal, Space and Time are unknown. With their finite limited vision they sought to learn the source and explain the existence of Evil, and Pain, and Sorrow; and so they wandered ever deeper into the darkness, and were lost; and there was for them no longer any God; but only a great, dumb, soulless Universe, full of mere emblems and symbols.
You have heretofore, in some of the Degrees through which you have passed, heard much of the ancient worship of the Sun, the Moon, and the other bright luminaries of Heaven, and of the Elements and Powers of Universal Nature. You have been made, to some extent, familiar with their personifications as Heroes suffering or triumphant, or as personal Gods or Goddesses, with human. characteristics and passions, and with the multitude of legends, and fables that do but allegorically represent their risings and settings, their courses, their conjunctions and oppositions, their domiciles and places of exaltation.
Perhaps you have supposed that we, like many who have written on these subjects, have intended to represent this worship to you as the most ancient and original worship of the first men that lived. To undeceive you, if such was your conclusion, we have caused the Personifications of the Great Luminary of Heaven, under the names by which he was known to the most ancient nations, to proclaim the old primitive truths that were known to the Fathers of our race, before men came to worship the visible manifestations of the Supreme Power and Magnificence and Supposed Attributes of the Universal Deity in the Elements and in the glittering armies that Night regularly marshals and arrays upon the blue field of the firmament.
We ask now your attention to a still further development to these truths, after we shall have added something to what we have already said in regard to the Chief Luminary of Heaven, in explanation of the names and characteristics of the several imaginary Deities that represented him among the ancient races men.
ATHOM or ATHOM-RE, was the Chief and Oldest Supreme God of Upper Egypt, worshipped at Thebes; the same as the OM or AUM of the Hindus, whose name was unpronounceable, and who like the BREHM of the latter People, was "The Being that was and is, and is to come; the Great God, the Great Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent One, the Greatest in the Universe, the Lord;" whose emblem was a perfect sphere, showing that He was first, last, midst, and without end; superior to all Natural Gods, and all personifications of Powers, Elements, and Luminaries; symbolized by Light, the Principle of Life.
AMUN was the Nature-God, or Spirit of Nature, called by that name or AMUN-RE, and worshipped at Memphis in Lower Egypt and in Libya, as well as in Upper Egypt. He was the Libyan Jupiter, and represented the intelligent and organizing force that develops itself in Nature, when the intellectual types or forms of bodies are revealed to the senses in the world's order, by their union with matter, whereby the generation of bodies is effected. He was the same with Knephl, from whose mouth issued the Orphic egg out of which came the Universe.
DIONUSOS was the Nature-God of the Greeks, as AMUN was of the Egyptians. In the popular legend, Dionusos, as well as Hercules, was a Theban Hero, born of a mortal mother. Both were sons of Zeus, both persecuted by Here. But in Hercules the God is subordinate to the Hero; while Dionusos, even in poetry, retains his divine character, and is identical with Iacchus, the presiding genius of the Mysteries. Personification of the Sun in Taurus, as his ox-hoofs showed, he delivered earth from the harsh dominion of winter, conducted the mighty chorus of the Stars, and the celestial revolution of the year, changed with the seasons, and underwent their periodical decay. He was the Sun as invoked by the Eleans, ushered into the world amidst lightning and thunder, the Mighty Hunter of the Zodiac, Zagreus the Golden or ruddy-faced. The Mysteries taught the doctrine of Divine Unity; and that Power whose Oneness is a seeming mystery, but really a truism, was Dionusos, the God of Nature, or of that moisture, which is the life of Nature, who prepares in darkness, in Hades or Iasion, the return of life and vegetation, or is himself the light and change evolving their varieties. In the Egean Islands he was Butes, Dardanus, Himeros or Imbros; in Crete he appears as or even Zeus, whose orgiastic worship, remaining unveiled by the usual forms of mystery, betrayed to profane curiosity the symbols which, if irreverently contemplated, were sure to be misunderstood.
He was the same with the dismembered Zagreus, the son of Persephone, an Ancient Subterranean Dionusos, the horned progeny of Zeus in the Constellation of the Serpent, entrusted by his father with the thunderbolt, and encircled with the protecting dance of Curetes. Through the envious artifices of Here, the Titans eluded the vigilance of his guardians and tore him to pieces; but Pallas restored the still palpitating heart to his father, who commanded Apollo to bury the dismembered remains upon Parnassus.
Dionusos, as well as Apollo, was leader of the Muses; the tomb of one accompanied the worship of the other; they were the same, yet different, contrasted, yet only as filling separate parts in the same drama; and the mystic and heroic personifications, the God of nature and of Art, seem, at some remote period, to have proceeded from a common source. Their separation was one of form rather than of substance: and from the time when Hercules obtained initiation from Triptolemus, or Pythagoras received Orphic tenets, the two conceptions were tending to re-combine. It was said that Dionusos or Poseidon had preceded Apollo in the Oracular office; and Dionusos continued to be esteemed in Greek Theology as Healer and Saviour, Author of Life and Immortality. The dispersed Pythagoreans, "Sons of Apollo," immediately betook themselves to the Orphic Service of Dionusos, and there are indications that there was always something Dionysiac in the worship of Apollo.
Dionusos is the Sun, that liberator of the elements; and his spiritual meditation was suggested by the same imagery which made the Zodiac the supposed path of the Spirits in their descent and their return. His second birth, as offspring of the highest, is a type of the spiritual regeneration of man. He, as well as Apollo was precentor of the Muses and source of inspiration. His rule prescribed no unnatural mortification: its yoke was easy, and its mirthful choruses, combining the gay with the severe, did but commemorate that golden age when earth enjoyed eternal spring, and when fountains of honey, milk, and wine burst forth out of its bosom at the touch of the thyrsus. He is the "Liberator." Like Osiris, he frees the soul, and guides it in its migrations beyond the grave, preserving it from the risk of again falling under the slavery of matter or of some inferior animal form. All soul part of the Universal Soul, whose totality is Dionusos; and he leads back the vagrant spirit to its home, and accompanies it through the purifying processes, both real and symbolical of earthly transit. He died and descended to the Shades; and his suffering was the great secret of the Mysteries, as death is grand mystery of existence. He is the immortal suitor of Psyche (the Soul), the Divine influence which physically called the world into being, and which, awakening the soul from its Stygian trance, restores it from earth to Heaven.
Of HERMES, the Mercury of the Greeks, the Thoth of Egyptians, and the Taaut of the Phoenicians, we have heretofore spoken sufficiently at length. He was the inventor of letters and of Oratory, the winged messenger of the Gods, bearing the Caduceus wreathed with serpents; and in our Council he is represented by the ORATOR.
The Hindus called the Sun SURYA; the Persians, MITHRAS; the Egyptians, OSIRIS; the Assyrians and Chaldaeans, BEL; the Scythians and Etruscans and the ancient Pelasgi, ARKALEUS or HERCULES; the Phoenicians, ADONAI or ADON; and the Scandinavians, ODIN.
From the name SURYA, given by the Hindus to the Sun, the Sect who paid him particular adoration were called Souras. Their painters describe his car as drawn by seven green horses. In the Temple of Visweswara, at Benares, there is an ancient piece of sculpture, well executed in stone, representing him sitting in a car drawn by a horse with twelve heads. His charioteer, by whom he is preceded, is ARUN [from AUR the Crepusculum?], or the Dawn; and among his many titles are twelve that denote his distinct powers in each of the twelve months. Those powers are called Adityas, each of whom has a particular name. Surya is supposed frequently to have descended upon earth, in a human shape, and to have left a race on earth, equally renowned in Indian story with the Heliades of Greece. He is often styled King of the Stars and Planets, and thus reminds us of the Adon-Tsbauth (Lord of the Starry Hosts) of the Hebrew writings.
MITHRAS was the Sun-God of the Persians; and was fabled to have been born in a grotto or cave, at the Winter Solstice. His feasts were celebrated at that period, at the moment when the sun commenced to return Northward, and to increase the length of the days. This was the great Feast of the Magian religion. The Roman Calendar, published in the time of Constantine, at which period his worship began to gain ground in the Occident, fixed his feast-day on the 25th of December. His statues and images were inscribed, Deo-Soli invicto Mithrae--to the invincible Sun-God Mithras. Nomen invictum Sol Mithra. . Soli Omnipotenti Mithrae. To him, gold, incense, and myrrh were consecrated. "Thee," says Martianus Capella, in his hymn to the Sun, "the dwellers on the Nile adore as Serapis, and Memphis worships as Osiris; in the sacred rites of Persia thou art Mithras, in Phrygia, Atys, and Libya bows down to thee as Ammon, and Phoenician Byblos as Adonis; and thus the whole world adores thee under different names."
OSIRIS was the son of Helios (Phra), the "divine offspring congenerate with the dawn," and at the same time an incarnation of Kneph or Agathodaemon, the Good Spirit, including all his possible manifestations, either physical or moral. He represented in a familiar form the beneficent aspect of all higher emanations and in him was developed the conception of a Being purely good, so that it became necessary to set up another power as his adversary called Seth, Babys or Typhon, to account for the injurious influences of Nature.
With the phenomena of agriculture, supposed to be the invention of Osiris, the Egyptians connected the highest truths of the religion. The soul of man was as the seed hidden in the ground and the mortal framework, similarly consigned to its dark resting place, awaited its restoration to life's unfailing source. Osiris was not only benefactor of the living; he was also Hades, Serapis, and Rhadamanthus, the monarch of the dead. Death, therefore, in Egyptian opinion, was only another name for renovation, since its God is the same power who incessantly renews vitality in Nature. Every corpse duly embalmed was called "Osiris," and in the grave was supposed to be united, or at least brought into approximation to the Divinity. For when God became incarnate for man's benefit, it was implied that, in analogy with His assumed character He should submit to all the conditions of visible existence. In death, as in life, Isis and Osiris were patterns and precursors of mankind; their sepulchres stood within the temples of the Superior Gods; yet though their remains might be entombed at Memphis or Abydus, their divinity was unimpeached, and they either shone as luminaries in the heavens, or in the unseen world presided over the futurity of the disembodied spirits whom death had brought nearer to them.
The notion of a dying God, so frequent in Oriental legend, and of which we have already said much in former Degrees, was the natural inference from a literal interpretation of nature-worship; since nature, which in the vicissitudes of the seasons seems to undergo a dissolution, was to the earliest religionists the express image of the Deity, and at a remote period one and the same with the "varied God," whose attributes were seen not only in its vitality, but in its changes. The unseen Mover of the Universe was rashly identified with its obvious fluctuations. The speculative Deity suggested by the drama of nature, was worshipped with imitative and sympathetic rites. A period of mourning about the Autumnal Equinox, and of joy at the return of Spring, was almost universal. Phrygians and Paphlagonians, Boeotians, and even Athenians, were all more or less attached to such observances; the Syrian damsels sat weeping for Thammuz or Adoni, mortally wounded by the tooth of Winter, symbolized by the boar, its very general emblem: and these rites, and those of Atys and Osiris, were evidently suggested by the arrest of vegetation, when the Sun, descending from his altitude, seems deprived of his generating power.
Osiris is a being analogous to the Syrian ADONI; and the fable of his history, which we need not here repeat, is a narrative form of the popular religion of Egypt, of which the Sun is the Hero, and the agricultural calendar the moral. The moist valley of the Nile, owing its fertility to the annual inundation, appeared, in contrast with the surrounding desert, like life in the midst of death. The inundation was in evident dependence on the Sun, and Egypt, environed with arid deserts, like a heart within a burning censer, was the female power, dependent on the influences personified in its God. Typhon his brother, the type of darkness, drought, and sterility, threw his body into the Nile; and thus Osiris, the "good," the "Saviour," perished, in the 28th year of his life or reign, and on the 17th day of the month Athor, or the 13th of November. He is also made to die during the heats of the early Summer, when, from March to July, the earth was parched with intolerable heat, vegetation was scorched, and the languid Nile exhausted. From that death he rises when the Solstitial Sun brings the inundation, and Egypt is filled with mirth and acclamation anticipatory of the second harvest. From his Wintry death he rises with the early flowers of Spring, and then the joyful festival of Osiris found was 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 AEson, Thyestes, Melicertes, Itys, and Pelops. Io is the disconsolate Isis or Niobe: and Rhea mourns her dismembered Lord, Hyperion, and the death of her son Helios, drowned in the Eridanus; and if Apollo and Dionusos are immortal, they had died under other names, as Orpheus, Linus, or Hyacinthus. The sepulchre of Zeus was shown in Crete. Hippolytus was associated in divine honours with Apollo, and after he had been torn to piece like Osiris, was restored to life by the Paeonian herbs of Diana, and kept darkling in the secret grove of Egeria. Zeus deserted Olympus to visit the Ethiopians; Apollo underwent servitude to Admetus; Theseus, Peirithous, Hercules, and other heroes, descended for a time to Hades; a dying Nature-God was exhibited in the Mysteries, the Attic women fasted, sitting on the ground, during the Thesmophoria, and the Boeotians lamented the descent of Cora-Proserpine to the Shades.
But the death of the Deity, as understood by the Orientals, was not inconsistent with His immortality. The temporary decline of the Sons of Light is but an episode in their endless continuity and as the day and year are more convenient subdivisions of the Infinite, so the fiery deaths of Phaethon or Hercules are but breaks in the same Phoenix process of perpetual regeneration, by which the spirit of Osiris lives forever in the succession of the Memphia Apis. Every year witnesses the revival of Adonis; and the amber tears shed by the Heliades for the premature death of their brother, are the golden shower full of prolific hope, in which Zeus descends from the brazen vault of Heaven into the bosom of the parched ground.
BAL, representative or personification of the sun, was one of the Great Gods of Syria, Assyria, and Chaldea, and his name is found upon the monuments of Nimroud, and frequently occurs in the Hebrew writings. He was the Great Nature-God of Babylonia, the Power of heat, life, and generation. His symbol was the Sun, and he was figured seated on a bull. All the accessories of his great temple at Babylon, described by Herodotus, are repeated with singular fidelity, but on a smaller scale, in the Hebrew tabernacle and temple. The golden statue alone is wanted to complete the resemblance. The word Bal or Baal, like the word Adon, signifies Lord and Master. He was also the Supreme Deity of the Moabites, Amonites, and Carthaginians, and of the Sabeans in general; the Gauls worshipped the Sun under the name of Belin or Belinus: and Bela is found among the Celtic Deities upon the ancient monuments.
The Northern ancestors of the Greeks maintained with hardier habits a more manly style of religious symbolism than the effeminate enthusiasts of the South, and had embodied in their Perseus, HERCULES and MITHRAS, the consummation of the qualities they esteemed and exercised.
Almost every nation will be found to have had a mythical being, whose strength or weakness, virtues or defects, more or less nearly describe the Sun's career through the seasons. There was a Celtic, a Teutonic, a Scythian, an Etruscan, a Lydian Hercules, all whose legends became tributary to those of the Greek hero. The name of Hercules was found by Herodotus to have been long familiar in Egypt and the East, and to have originally belonged to a much higher personage than the comparatively modern hero known in Greece as the Son of Alcmena. The temple of the Hercules of Tye was reported to have been built 2300 years before the time of Herodotus; and Hercules, whose Greek name has been sometimes supposed to be of Phoenician origin, in the sense of Circuitor i.e. "rover" and "perambulator" of earth, as well as "Hyperion of the sky, was the patron and model of those famous navigators who spread his altars from coast to coast through the Mediterranean, to the extremities of the West, where "ARKALEUS" built the City of Gades, and where a perpetual fire burned in his service. He was the lineal descendant of Perseus, the luminous child of darkness, conceived within a subterranean vault of brass; and he a representation of the Persian Mithras, rearing his emblematic lions above the gates of Mycenae, and bringing the sword of Jemsheed to battle against the Gorgons of the West. Mithras is similarly described in the Zend-Avesta as the "mighty hero, the rapid runner, whose piercing eye embraces all, whose arm bears the club for the destruction of the Darood."
Hercules Ingeniculus, who, bending on one knee, uplifts his club and tramples on the Serpent's head, was, like Prometheus and Tantalus, one of the varying aspects of the struggling and declining Sun. The victories of Hercules are but exhibitions of Solar power which have ever to be repeated. It was in the fial North, among the Hyperboreans, that, divested of his Lion's skin, he lay down to sleep, and for a time lost the horses of his chariot. Henceforth that Northern region of gloom, called the "place of the death and revival of Adonis," that Caucasus whose summit was so lofty, that, like the Indian Meru, it seemed to be both the goal and commencement of the Sun's career, became to Greek imaginations the final bourne of all things, the abode of Winter and desolation, the pinnacle of the arch connecting the upper and lower world, and consequently the appropriate place for the banishment of Prometheus. The daughters of Israel, weeping for Thammuz, mentioned by Ezekiel, sat looking to the North, waiting for his return from that region. It was while Cybele with the Sun-God was absent among the Hyperboreans, that Phrygia, abandoned by her, suffered the horrors of famine. Delos and Delphi awaited the return of Apollo from the Hyperboreans, and Hercules brought thence to Olympia the olive. To all Masons the North has immemorially been the place of darkness; and of the great lights of the Lodge, none is in the North.
Mithras, the rock-born hero heralded the Sun's return in Spring, as Prometheus, chained in his cavern. betokened the continuance of Winter. The Persian beacon on the mountain-top represented the Rock-born Divinity enshrined in his worthiest temple; and the funeral conflagration of Hercules was the sun dying in glory behind the Western hills. But though the transitory manifestation suffers or dies, the abiding and eternal power liberates and saves. It was an essential attribute of a Titan, that he should arise again after his fall; for the revival of Nature is as certain as its decline, and its alternations are subject to the appointment of a power which controls them both.
"God," says Maximus Tyrius, "did not spare His own Son [Hercules], or exempt Him from the calamities incidental to humanity. The Theban progeny of Jove had his share of pain and trial. By vanquishing earthly difficulties he proved his affinity with Heaven. His life was a continuous struggle. He fainted before Typhon in the desert; and in the commencement of the Autumnal season (cum longae redit hora noctis), descended under the guidance of Minerva to Hades. He died; but first applied for initiation to Eumolpus, in order to foreshadow that state of religious preparation which should precede the momentous change. Even in Hades he rescued Theseus and removed the stone of Ascalapllus, reanimated the bloodless spirits, and dragged into the light of clay the monster Cerberus, justly reputed invincible because an emblem of Time itself; he burst the chains of the grave (for Busiris is the grave personified), and triumphant at the close as in the dawn of his career, was received after his labours into the repose of the heavenly mansions, living forever with Zeus in the arms of 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 endeavouring to interpret creations of fancy, fancy as well as reason must guide: and much of modern controversy arises out of heavy misapprehensions of ancient symbolism.
To those ancient peoples, this earth was the centre of the Universe. To them there were no other worlds, peopled with living beings, to divide the care and attention of the Deity. To them the world was a great plain, of unknown, perhaps inconceivable limits, and the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars journeyed above it, to give them light. The worship of the Sun became the basis of all the religions of antiquity. To them light and heat were mysteries; as indeed they still are to us. As the Sun caused the day, and his absence the night; as, when he journeyed Northward, Spring and Summer followed him; and when he again turned to the South, Autumn and inclement Winter, and cold and long dark nights ruled the earth; . . . as his influence produced the leaves and flowers, and ripened the harvests, and brought regular inundation, he necessarily became to them the most interesting object of the material Universe. To them he was the innate fire of Holies, the fire of nature. Author of Life, heat, and ignition, he was to them, the efficient cause of all generation, for without him there was no movement, no existence, no form. He was to them immense, indivisible, imperishable, and everywhere present. It was their need of light, and of his creative energy, that was felt by all men; and nothing was more fearful to them than his absence. His beneficent influences caused his identification with the Principle of Good; and the BRAHMA of the Hindus, the MITHRAS of the Persians, and ATHOM, AMUN, PHTHA, and OSIRIS, of the Egyptians, the BEL, of the Chaldeans, the ADONAI of the Phoenicians, the ADONIS and APOLLO of the Greeks became but personifications of the Sun, the regenerating Principle, image of that fecundity which perpetuates and rejuvenates the world's existence.
So too the struggle between the Good and Evil Principles was personified, as was that between life and death, destruction and re-creation; in allegories and fables which poetically represented the apparent course of the Sun; who, descending toward the Southern Hemisphere, was figuratively said to be conquered and put to death by darkness, or the genius of Evil; but returning again toward the Northern Hemisphere, he seemed to be victorious, and to arise from the tomb. This death and resurrection were also figurative of the succession of day and night, of death, which is a necessity of life, and of life which is born of and everywhere the ancients still saw the combat between the two Principles that ruled the world. Everywhere this contest was embodied in allegories and fictitious histories: into which were ingeniously woven all the astronomical phenomena that accompanied, preceded, or followed the different movements of the Sun, and the changes of Seasons, the approach or withdrawal of inundation. And thus grew into stature and strange proportions the histories of the contests between Typhon and Osiris, Hercules and Juno, the Titans and Jupiter, Ormuzd and Ahriman, the rebellious Angels and the Deity, the Evil Genii and the Good; and the other like fables, found not only in Asia, but in the North of Europe, and even among the Mexicans and Peruvians of the New World; carried thither, in all probability, by those Phoenician voyagers who bore thither civilization and the arts. The Scythians lamented the death of Acmon, the Persians that of Zohak conquered by Pheridoun, the Hindus that of Soura-Parama slain by Soupra-Muni, as the Scandinavians did that of Balder, torn to pieces by the blind Hother.
The primitive idea of infinite space existed in the first men, as it exists in us. It and the idea of infinite time are the first two innate ideas. Man cannot conceive how thing can be added to thing, or event follow event, forever. The idea will ever return, that no matter how long bulk is added to bulk, there must be, still beyond, an empty void without limit; in which is nothing. In the same way the idea of time without beginning or end forces itself on him. Time, without events, is also a void, and nothing.
In that empty void space the primitive men knew there was no light nor warmth. They felt, what we know scientifically, that there must be a thick darkness there, and an intensity of cold of which we have no conception. Into that void they thought the Sun, the Planets, and the Stars went down when they set under the Western Horizon. Darkness was to them an enemy, a harm, a vague dread and terror. It was the very embodiment of the evil principle; and out of it they said that he was formed. As the Sun bent Southward toward that void, they shuddered with dread: and when, at the Winter Solstice, he again commenced his Northward march, they rejoiced and feasted; as they did at the summer Solstice, when most he appeared to smile upon them in his pride of place. These days have been celebrated by all civilized nations ever since. The, Christian has made them feast-days of the church, and appropriated them to the two Saints John; and Masonry has done the same.
We, to whom the vast Universe has become but a great machine, not instinct with a great SOUL, but a clockwork of proportions unimaginable, but still infinitely less than infinite; and part at least of which we with our orreries can imitate; we, who have measured the distances and dimensions, and learned the specific gravity and determined the orbits of the moon and the planets; we, who know the distance to the sun, and his size; have measured the orbits of the flashing comets, and the distances of the fixed stars; and know the latter to be suns like our sun, each with its retinue of worlds, and all governed by the same unerring mechanical laws and outwardly imposed forces centripetal and centrifugal we, who with our telescopes have separated the galaxy and the nebulae into other stars and groups of stars; discovered new planets, by first discovering their disturbing force upon those already known; and learned that they all, Jupiter, Venus, and the fiery Mars, and Saturn and the others, as well the bright, mild, and ever-changing Moon, are mere dark, dull opaque clods like our earth, and not living orbs of brilliant fire and heavenly light; we, who have counted the mountains and chasms in the moon, with glasses that could distinctly reveal to us the temple of Solomon, if it stood there in its old original glory; we, who no longer imagine that the stars control our destinies, and who can calculate the eclipses of the sun and moon backward and forward, for ten thousand years; we, with our vastly increased conceptions of the powers of the Grand Architect of the Universe, but our wholly material and mechanical view of that Universe itself; we cannot, even in the remotest degree, feel, though we may partially and imperfectly imagine, how those great primitive, simple-hearted children of Nature felt in regard to the Starry Hosts, there upon the slopes of the Himalayas, on the Chaldean plains, in the Persian and Median deserts, and upon the banks of that great, strange River, the Nile. To them the Universe was alive--instinct with forces and powers, mysterious and beyond their comprehension. To them it was no machine, no great system of clockwork; but a great live creature, an army of creatures, in sympathy with or inimical to man. To them, all was a mystery and a miracle, and the stars flashing overhead spoke to their hearts almost in an audible language. Jupiter, with his kingly splendors, was the Emperor of the starry legions. Venus looked lovingly on the earth and blessed it; Mars, with his crimson fires, threatened war and misfortune; and Saturn, cold; and grave, chilled and repelled them. The ever-changing Moon, faithful companion of the Sun, was a constant miracle and wonder the Sun himself the visible emblem of the creative and generative power. To them the earth was a great plain, over which the Sun, the moon, and the planets revolved, its servants, framed to give it light. Of the stars, some were beneficent existences that brought with them Spring-time and fruits and flowers,--some, faint sentinels, advising them of coming inundation, of the season storm and of deadly winds; some heralds of evil, which, steadily foretelling, they seemed to cause. To them the eclipses were portents of evil, and their causes hidden in mystery, and supernatural. The regular returns of the stars, the comings of Arcturus, Orion, Sirius, tbe Pleiades, and Aldebaran, and the journeyings of the Sun, were voluntary and not mechanical to them. What wonder that astronomy became to them the most important of sciences; that those who learned it became rulers; and that vast edifices, the Pyramids, the tower or temple of Bel, and other like erections everywhere in the East, were builded for astronomical purposes? --and what wonder that, in their great child-like simplicity, they worshipped Light, the Sun, the Planets, and the stars, and personified them, and eagerly believed in the histories invented for them; in that age when the capacity for belief was infinite; as indeed, if we but reflect, it still is and ever will be ?
If we adhered to the literally historic sense, antiquity would be a mere inexplicable, hideous chaos, and all the Sages deranged: and so it would be with Masonry and those who instituted it. But when these allegories are explained, they cease to be absurd fables, or facts purely local; and become lessons of wisdom for entire humanity. No one can doubt, who studies them, that they all came from a common source.
All he greatly errs who imagines that, because the mythological legends and fables of antiquity are referable to and have their foundation in the phenomena of the Heavens, and all the Heathen Gods are but mere names given to the Sun, the stars, the Planets, the Zodiacal signs, the Elements, the Powers of Nature, and Universal Nature herself, therefore the first men worshipped the Stars, and whatever things, animate and inanimate, seemed to them to possess and exercise a power or influence, evident or imagined, over human fortunes and human destiny.
For ever, in all the nations, ascending to the remotest antiquity to which the light of History or the glimmerings of tradition reach, we find, seated above all the gods which represent the luminaries and the elements, and those which personify the innate Powers of universal nature, a still higher Deity, silent, undefined, incomprehensible, the Supreme, one God, from Whom all the rest flow or emanate, or by Him are created. Above the Time-God Horus, the Moon-Goddess or Earth-Goddess Isis, and the Sun-God Osiris of the Egyptians, was Amun, the Nature-God; and above him, again, the Infinite, Incomprehensible Deity, ATHOM. BREHM, the silent, self-contemplative, one original God, was the source, to the Hindus. of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. Above Zeus, or before him, were Kronos and Ouranos. Over the Alohayim was the great Nature-God AL, and still beyond him, Abstract Existence, IHUH -- He that IS, WAS, and SHALL BE. Above all the Persian Deities was the Unlimited Time, ZERUANE-AKHERENE; and Odin and Thor was the Great Scandinavian Deity ALFADIR.
The worship of Universal Nature as a God was too near akin to the worship of a Universal Soul, to have been the instinctive creed of any savage people or rude race of men. To imagine all nature, with all its apparently independent parts, as forming one consistent whole, and as itself a unit, required an amount of experience and a faculty of generalization not possessed by the rude uncivilized mind, and is but a step below the idea of a universal Soul.
In the beginning man had the WORD; and that WORD was from God; and out of the living POWER communicated to man in and by that WORD came THE LIGHT of 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 the old nations agreed in calling the cradle of the human race, whence afterward the stream of human life flowed forth to India, China, Egypt, Persia, Arabia, and Phoenicia. He communicated to him a knowledge of the nature of his Creator, and of the pure, primitive, undefiled religion. The peculiar and distinctive excelence and real essence of the primitive man, and his true nature and destiny, consisted in his likeness to God. He stamped His own image upon man's soul. That image has been, in the breast of every individual man and of mankind in general, greatly altered, impaired, and defaced; but its old, half-obliterated characters are still to be found on all the pages of primitive history and the impress, not entirely effaced, every reflecting mind may discover in its own interior.
Of the original revelation to mankind, of the primitive WORD of Divine TRUTH, we find clear indications and scattered traces in the sacred traditions of all the primitive Nations; traces which, when separately examined, appear like the broken remnants, the mysterious and hieroglyphic characters, of a mighty edifice that has been destroyed; and its fragments, like those of the old Temples and Palaces of Nimroud, wrought incongruously into edifices many centuries younger. And, although amid the ever-growing degeneracy of mankind, this primeval word of revelation falsified by the admixture of various errors, and overlaid and obscured by numberless and manifold fictions, inextricably confused, and disfigured almost beyond the power of recognition, still a profound inquiry will discover in heathenism many luminous vestiges of primitive Truth.
For the old Heathenism had everywhere a foundation in Truth; and if we could separate that pure intuition into nature and into the simple symbols of nature, that constituted the basis of all Heathenism, from the alloy of error and the additions of fiction, those first hieroglyphic traits of the instinctive science of the first men, would be found to agree with truth and a true knowledge of nature, and to afford an image of a free, pure, comprehensive, and finished philosophy of life.
The struggle, thenceforward to be eternal, between the Divine will and the natural will in the souls of men, commenced immediately after the creation. Cain slew his brother Abel, and went forth to people parts of the earth with an impious race, forgetters and defiers of the true God. The other Descendants of the Common Father of the race intermarried with the daughters of Cain's Descendants: and all nations preserved the remembrance of that division of the human family into the righteous and impious, in their distorted legends of the wars between the Gods, and the Giants and Titans. When, afterward, another similar division occurred, the Descendants of Seth alone preserved the true primitive religion and science, and transmitted them to posterity in the ancient symbolical character, on monuments of stone: and many nations preserved in their legendary traditions the memory of the columns of Enoch and Seth.
Then the world declined from its original happy condition and fortunate estate, into idolatry and barbarism: but all nations retained the memory of that old estate; and the poets, in those early days the only historians, commemorated the succession of the ages of gold, silver, brass, and iron.
In the lapse of those ages, the sacred tradition followed various courses among each of the most ancient nations; and from its original source, as from a common centre, its various streams flowed downward; some diffusing through favored regions of the world fertility and life; but others soon losing themselves, and heing dried up in the sterile sands of human error.
After the internal and Divine WORD originally communicated by God to man, had become obscured; after man's connect with his Creator had been broken, even outward language necessarily fell into disorder and confusion. The simple and Divine Truth was overlaid with various and sensual fictions, buried under illusive symbols, and at last perverted into horrible phantoms.
For in the progress of idolatry it needs came to pass, that what was originally revered as the symbol of a higher principle, became gradually confounded or identified with the object itself, and was worshipped; until this error led to a more degraded form of idolatry. The early nations received much from the primeval source of sacred tradition; but that haughty pride which seems inherent part of human nature led each to represent these fragmentary relics of original truth as a possession peculiar to themselves; thus exaggerating their value, and their own importance, as peculiar favorites of the Deity, who had chosen then the favored people to whom to commit these truths. To make these fragments, as far as possible, their private property, they reproduced them under peculiar forms, wrapped them up in symbols, concealed them in allegories, and invented fables to account for their own special possession of them. So that, instead of preserving in their primitive simplicity and purity these blessings of original revelation, they overlaid them with poetical ornament; and the whole wears a fabulous aspect, until by close and severe examination we discover the truth which the apparent fable contains.
These being the conflicting elements in the breast of man; the old inheritance or original dowry of truth, imparted to him by God in the primitive revelation; and error, or the foundation for error, in his degraded sense and spirit now turned from God to nature, false faiths easily sprung up and grew rank and luxuriant when the Divine Truth was no longer guarded with jealous care, nor preserved in its pristine purity. This soon happened among most Eastern nations, and especially the Indians, the Chaldeans, the Arabians, the Persians, and the Egyptians; with whom imagination, and a very deep but still sensual feeling for nature, were very predominant. The Northern firmament, visible to their eyes, possesses by far the largest and most brilliant constellations; they were more alive to the impressions made by such objects, than are the men of the present day.
With the Chinese, a patriarchal, simple, and secluded people, idolatry long made but little progress. They invented writing within three or four generations after the flood; and they long preserved the memory of much of the primitive revelation; less overlaid with fiction than those fragments which other nations have remembered. They were among those who stood nearest to the source of sacred tradition; and many passages in their old writings contain remarkable vestiges of eternal truth, and of the WORD of primitive revelation, the heritage of old thought, which attest to us their 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, stonn, and darkness. The religion of both was originally a worship of outward nature, especially the manifestations of fire and light; the coincidences being too marked to be merely accidental. Deva, God, is derived from the root div, to shine. Indra, like Ormuzd or Ahura-Mazda, is the bright firmament; Sura or Surya, the Heavenly, a name the Sun, recurs in the Zend word Huare, the Sun, whence Khur and Khorshid or Corasch. Uschas and Mitra are Medic as well Zend Deities and the Amschaspands or "immortal Holy Ones" the Zend-Avesta may be compared with the seven Rishis or Vedic Star-God, of the constellation of the Bear. Zoroastrianism, like Buddhism, was an innovation in regard to an older religion; between the Parsee and Brahmin may be found traces of disruption as well as of coincidence. The original Nature-worship in which were combined the conceptions both of a Universal Presence and perpetuity of action, took different directions of development, according to the difference between the Indian and Persian mind.
The early shepherds of the Punjaub, then called the country of the Seven Rivers, to whose intuitional or inspired wisdom (Veda) we owe what are perhaps the most ancient religious effusions extant in any language, apostrophized as living beings the physical objects of their worship. First in this order of Deities stands Indra, the God of the "blue" or "glittering" firmament, called Devaspiti, Father of the Devas or Elemental Powers, who measured out the circle of the sky, and made fast the foundations of the Earth; the ideal domain of Varouna, "the All-encompasser" is almost equally extensive, including air, water, night, the expanse between Heaven and Earth; Agni, who lives on the fire of sacrifice, on the domestic hearth, and in the lightnings of the sky, is the great Mediator between God and Man; Uschas, or Dawn, leads forth the Gods in the morning to make their daily repast in the intoxicating Soma of Nature's offertory, of which the Priest could only compound from simples a symbolical imitation. Then came the various Sun-Gods, Adityas or Solar Attributes, Surya the Heavenly, Savitri the Progenitor, Pashan the Nourisher, Bagha the Felicitous, and Mitra the Friend.
The coming forth of the Eternal Being to the work of creation was represented as a marriage, his first emanation being a universal mother, supposed to have potentially existed with him from Eternity, or, in metaphorical language, to have been "his sister his spouse." She became eventually promoted to be the Mother of the Indian Trinity, of the Deity under His three Attribute Creation, Preservation, and Change or Regeneration.
The most popular forms or manifestations of Vishnu the Preserver, were his successive avataras or historic impersonations, which represented the Deity coming forth out of the incomprehsive mystery of his nature, and revealing Himself at those critical epochs which either in the physical or moral world seemed to mark a new commencement of prosperity and order. Combating the power of Evil in the various departments of Nature, and in successive periods of time, the Divinity, though varying in form, is ever in reality the same, whether seen in useful agricultural or social inventions, in traditional victories over rival creeds, or in physical changes faintly discovered through tradition, or suggested by cosmogonical theory. As Rama, the Epic hero armed with sword, club, and arrows, the prototype of Hercules and Mithras, he wrestles like the Hebrew Patriarch with the Powers of Darkness; Chrishna-Govinda, the Divine Shepherd, he is the Messenger of Peace, overmastering the world by music and love. Under the human form he never ceases to be the Supreme Being. "The foolish" (he says, in Bhagavad Ghita), "unacquainted with my Supreme Nature, despise me in this human form, while men of great minds, enlightened by the Divine principle within them, acknowledge me as incorruptible and before all things, and serve me with undivided hearts." "I am not recognized by all," he says again, "because concealed by the supernatural power which is in me; yet to me are known all things past, present, and to come; I existed before Vaivaswata and Menou. I am the Most High God, the Creator of the World, the Eternal Poorooscha (Man-World or Genius of the World). And although in my own nature I am exempt from liability to birth or death, and am Lord of all created things, yet as often as in the world virtue is enfeebled! and vice and injustice prevail, so often do I become manifest and am revealed from age to age, to save the just, to destroy the guilty, and to reassure the faltering steps of virtue. He who acknowledgeth me as even so, doth not on quitting this mortal frame enter into another, for he entereth into me; and many who have trusted in me have already entered into me, being purified by the power of wisdom. I help those who walk in my path, even as they serve me."
Brahma, the creating agent, sacrified himself, when, by descending into material forms, he became incorporated with his work; and his mythological history was interwoven with that of the Universe. Thus, although spiritually allied to the Supreme, and Lord of all creatures (Prajapati), he shared the imperfection and corruption of an inferior nature, and, steeped in manifold ar perishable forms, might be said, like the Greek Uranus, to be mutilated and fallen. He thus combined two characters, formless form, immortal and mortal, being and non-being, motion and rest. As Incarnate Intelligence, or THE WORD, he communicated to man what had been revealed to himself by the Eternal, since he is creation's Soul as well as Body, within which the Divine Word is written in those living letters which it is the prerogative of the self-conscious spirit to interpret.
The fundamental principles of the religion of the Hindus consisted in the belief in the existence of One Being only, of the immortality of the soul, and of a future state of rewards and punishments. Their precepts of morality inculcate the practice of virtue as necessary for procuring happiness even in this transient life; and their religious doctrines make their felicity in a future state to depend upon it.
Besides their doctrine of the transmigration of souls, their dogmas may be epitomized under the following heads: 1st The existence of one God, from Whom all things proceed, and to Whom all must return. To him they constantly apply these expressions-- The Universal and Eternal Essence; that which has ever been and will ever continue; that which vivifies and pervades all things; He who is everywhere present, and causes the celestial bodies to revolve in the course He has prescribed to them. 2d A tripartite division of the Good Principle, for the purposes of Creation, Preservation, and Renovation by change and death. 3d. The necessary existence of an Evil Principle, occupied in counteracting the benevolent purposes of the first, in their execution by the Devata or Subordinate Genii, to whom is entrusted the control over the various operations of nature.
And this was part of their doctrine: "One great and incomprehensible Being has alone existed from all Eternity. Everything we behold and we ourselves are portions of Him. The soul, mind or intellect, of gods and men, and of all sentient creatures, are detached portions of the Universal Soul, to which at stated periods they are destined to return. But the mind of finite beings is impressed by one uninterrupted series of illusions, which they consider as real, until again united to the great fountain of truth. Of these illusions, the first and most essential is individuality. By its influence, when detached from its source, the soul becomes ignorant of its own nature, origin, and destiny. It considers itself as a separate existence, and no longer a spark of the Divinity, a link of one immeasurable chain, an infinitely small but indispensable portion of one great whole."
Trheir love of imagery caused them to personify what they conceived to be some of the attributes of God, perhaps in order to present things in a way better adapted to the comprehensions of the vulgar, than the abstruse idea of an indescribable, invisible God; and hence the invention of a Brahma, a Vishnu, and a Siva or Iswara. These were represented under various fornls; but no emblem or visible sign of Brihm or Brehm, the Omnipotent, is to be found. They considered the great mystery of the existence of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, as beyond human comprehension. Every creature endowed with the faculty of thinking, they held, must be conscious of the existence of a God, a first cause; but the attempt to explain the nature of that Being, or in any way to assimilate it with our own, they considered not only a proof of folly, but of extreme impiety.
The following extracts from their books will serve to show what were the real tenets of their creed:
"By one Supreme Ruler is this Universe pervaded; even every world in the whole circle of nature.... There is one Supreme Spirit, which nothing can shake, more swift than the thought of nan. That Supreme Spirit moves at pleasure, but in itself is immovable; it is distant from us, yet near us; it pervades this whole system of worlIds; yet it is infinitely beyond it. That man who considers all beings as existing even in the Supreme Spirit, and the Supreme Spirit as pervading all beings, henceforth views no creature with contempt.... All spiritual beings are the same in kind with the Supreme Spirit.... The pure enlightened soul assumes a luminous form, with no gross body, with no perforation, with no veins or tendons, unblemished, untainted by sin; itself being a ray from the Infinite Spirit, which knows the Past and the Future, which pervades all, which existed with no cause but itself, which created all things as they are, in ages most remote. That all-pervading Spirit which gives light to the visible Sun, even the same in kind am I, though infinitely distant in degree. Let my soul return to the immortal Spirit of God, and then let my body, which ends in ashes, return to dust ! O Spirit, who pervadest fire, lead us in a straight path to the riches of beatitude.
Thou, O God, possessest all the treasures of knowledge! Remove each foul taint from our souls ! '
"From what root springs mortal man, when felled by the hand of death? Who can make him spring again to birth? God, who is perfect wisdom, perfect happiness. He is the final refuge of tht man who has liberally bestowed his wealth, who has been firm in virtue, who knows and adores that Great One.... Let us adore the supremacy of that Divine Sun, the Godhead who illuminates all, who re-creates all, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return, whom we invoke to direct our understandings aright, in our progress toward his holy seat.... What the Sun and Light are to this visible world, such is truth to the intellectual and visible Universe.... Our souls acquire certain knowledge, by meditating on the light of Truth, which emanates from the Being of Beings.... That Being, without eyes sees, without ears hears all; he knows whatever can be known, but there is none who knows him; him the wise call the Great, Supreme, Pervading Spirit....Perfect Truth, Perfect Happiness, without equal, immortal; absolute unity, whom neither speech can describe, nor mind comprehend: all-pervading, all-transcending, delighted with his own boundless intelligence, nor limited by space or time; without feet, running swiftly; without hands, grasping all worlds; without eyes, all-surveying; without ears, all-hearing; without; an intelligent guide, understanding all; without cause,the first of all causes; all-ruling, all-powerful, the Creator, Preserver, Transformer of all things: such is the Great One; this the Vedas declare.
"May that soul of mine, which mounts aloft in my waking hours as an ethereal spark, and which, even in my slumber, has a like ascent, soaring to a great distance, as an emanation from the Light of Lights, be united by devout meditation with the Spirit supremely blest, and supremely intelligent! .... May that soul of mine, which was itself the primeval oblation placed within all creatures...which is a ray of perfect wisdom, which is the inextinguishable light fixed within created bodies, without which no good act is performed.... in which as an immortal essence may be comprised whatever has passed, is present, or will be hereafter....be united by devout meditation with the Spirit supremely blest and supremely 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 the operation of free will, without the entire exercise of which he could not be held answerable for his conduct.
Menou, the Hindu lawgiver, adored, not the visible, material Sun, but "that divine and incomparably greater light," to use the words of the most venerable text in the Indian scripture, "which illumines all, delights all, from which all proceed, to which all must return, and which alone can irradiate our intellects." He thus commences his Institutes:
"Be it heard!
"This Universe existed only in the first divine idea yet unexpanded, as if involved in darkness, imperceptible, undefinable, undiscoverable by reason, and undiscovered by revelation, as if it were wholly immersed in sleep:
"Then the Sole Self-existing Power, Himself undiscovered, but making this world discernible, with five elements, and other principles of nature, appeared with undiminished glory, expanding His idea, or dispelling the gloom.
"He Whom the mind alone can perceive, whose esscence eludes the eternal organs, who has no visible parts, who exists from Eternity, even He, the soul of all beings, Whom no being can comprehend, shone forth.
"He, having willed to produce various beings from His own divine Substance, first with a thought created the waters.... From that which is [precisely the Hebrew ], the first cause, not the object of sense, existing everywhere in substance, not existing to our perception, without beginning or end" [the A.'. Omega .'., the I.'. A.'. Omega .'.], "was produced the divine male famed in all worlds under the appellation of Brahma."
Then recapitulating the different things created by Brahma adds: "He," meaning Brahma [the Aoyos, the Word] "whose powers are incomprehensible, having thus created this Universe, was again absorbed in the Supreme Spirit, changing the time of energy for the time of repose."
The Antareya A'ran'ya, one of the Vedas, gives this primitive idea of the creation: "In the beginning, the Universe was but a Soul: nothing else, active or inactive, existed. Then He had this thought, I will create worlds; and thus He created these different worlds; air, the light, mortal beings, and the waters.
"He had this thought: Behold the worlds; I will create guardions for the worlds. So He took of the water and fashioned a being clothed with the human form. He looked upon him and of that being so contemplated, the mouth opened like all egg, and speech came forth, and from the speech fire. The nostrils opelled, and through them went the breath of respiration, and by it the air was propagated. The eyes opened; from them came a luminous ray, and from it was produced the sun. The ears dilated; from them came hearing, and from hearing space:" . . . and, after the body of man, with the senses, was formed; He, the universal Soul, thus reflected: How can this body exist without Me? He examined through what extremity He could penetrate it. He said to Himself: If, without Me, the World is articulated, breath exhales, and sight sees; if hearing hears, the skin feels, and the mind reflects, deglutition swallows, and the genarative organ fulfills its functions, what then am I? And separating the suture of the cranium, He penetrated into man."
Behold the great fundamental primitive truths ! God, an infinite Eternal Soul or Spirit. Matter, not eternal nor self-existent, but created--created by a thought of God. After matter, and worlds, then man, by a like thought: and finally, after endowing him with the senses and a thinking mind, a portion, a spark, of God Himself penetrates the man, and becomes a living spirit within him.
The Vedas thus detail the creation of the world:
"In the beginning there was a single God, existing of Himself; Who, after having passed an eternity absorbed in the contemplation of His own being, desired to manifest His perfections outwardly of Himself; and created the matter of the world. The four elements being thus produced, but still mingled in confusion, He breathed upon the waters, which swelled up into an immense ball in the shape of an egg, and, developing themselves, became the vault and orb of Heaven which encircles the earth. Having made the earth and the bodies of animal beings, this God, the essence of movement, gave to them, to animate them, a portion of His own being. Thus, the soul of everything that breathes being a fraction of the universal soul, none perishes; but each soul merely changes its mould and form, by passing succcessively into different bodies. Of all forms, that which most pleases the Divine Being is Man, as nearest approaching His own perfections. When a man, absolutely disengaging himself from his senses, absorbs himself in self-contemplation, he comes to discern the Divinity, and becomes part of Him."
The Ancient Persians in many respects resembled the Hindus,- in their language, their poetry, and their poetic legends. Their conquests brought them in contact with China; and they subdued Egypt and Judea. Their views of God and religion more resembled those of the Hebrews than those of any other nation, and indeed the latter people borrowed from them some prominent doctrines, that we are in the habit of regarding as an essential part of the original Hebrew creed.
Of the King of Heaven and Father of Eternal Light, of the pure World of Light, of the Eternal Word by which all things were created, of the Seven Mighty Spirits that stand next to the Throne of Light and Omnipotence, and of the glory of those Heavenly Hosts that encompass that Throne, of the Origin of Evil, and the Prince of Darkness, Monarch of the rebellious spirits, enemies of all good, they entertainecl tenets very similar to those of the Hebrews. Toward Egyptian idolatry they felt the strongest abhorrence, and under Cambyses pursued a regular plan for its utter extirpation. Xerxes, when he invaded Greece, destroyed the Temples and erected fire-chapels along the whole course of his march. Their religion was eminently spiritual, and the earthly fire and earthly sacrifice were but the signs and emblems of another devotion and a higher power.
Thus the fundamental doctrine of the ancient religion of India and Persia was at first nothing more than a simple veneration of nature, its pure elements and its primary energies, the sacred fire, and above all, Light,--the air, not the lower atmospheric air the purer and brighter air of Heaven, the breath that animates and pervades the breath of mortal life. This pure and simple veneration of nature is perhaps the most ancient, and was by far the most generally prevalent in the primitive and patriarchal world. It was not originally a deification of nature, or a denial of the sovereignty of God. Those pure elements and primitive essences of created nature offered to the first men, still in a close communication with the Deity, not a likeness of resemblance, nor a mere fanciful image or a poetical figure, but a natural and true symbol of Divine power. Everywhere in the Hebrew writings the pure light or sacred fire is employed as an image of the all-pervading and all-consuming power and omnipresence of the Divinity. His breath was the first source of life; and the faint whisper of the breeze announced to the prophet His immediate presence.
"All things are the progeny of one fire. The Father perfected all things, and delivered them over to the Second Mind, whom all nations of men call the First. Natural works co-exist with the intellectual light of the Father; for it is the Soul which adorns the great Heaven, and which adorns it after the Father. The Soul, being a bright fire, by the power of the Father, remains immortal, and is mistress of life, and fills up the recesses of the world. For the fire which is first beyond, did not shut up his power in matter by works, but by mind, for the framer of the fiery world is the mind of mind, who first sprang from mind, clothing fire with fire. Father-begotten Light ! for He alone, having from the Father's power received the essence of intellect, is enabled to understand the mind of the Father; and to instill into all sources and principles tlle capacity of understanding, and of ever continuing in ceaseless revolving motion." Such was the language of Zoroaster, embodying the old Persian ideas.
And the same ancient sage thus spoke of the Sun and Stars: "The Father made the whole Universe of fire and water and earth, and all-nourishing ether. He fixed a great multitude of moveless stars, that stand still forever, not by compulsion and unwillingly, but without desire to wander, fire acting upon fire. He congregated the seven firmaments of the world, and so surrounded the earth with the convexity of the Heavens; and therein set seven living existences, arranging their apparent disorder in regular orbits, six of them planets, and the Sun, placed in the centre, the seventh;--in that centre from which all lines, diverging which way soever, are equal; and the swift sun himself, revolving around a principal centre, and ever striving to reach the central and all-pervading light, bearing with him the bright Moon."
And yet Zoroaster added: "Measure not the journeyings of the sun, nor attempt to reduce them to rule; for he is carried by the eternal will of the Father, not for your sake. Do not endeavor to understand the impetuous course of the Moon; for she runs evermore under the impulse of necessity; and the progression of the Stars was not generated to serve any purpose of 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 man, whose eye is light, whose life is the breath of his nostrils. I placed within him life's unextinguishable power."
Ormuzd or Ahura-Mazda himself represented the primal light, distinct from the heavenly bodies, yet necessary to their existence, and the source of their splendor. The Amschaspands (Ameschaspenta, "immortal Holy Ones"), each presided over a special department of nature. Earth and Heaven, fire and water, the Sun and Moon, the rivers, trees, and mountains, even the artificial divisions of the day and year were addressed in prayer as tenanted by Divine beings, each separately ruling within his several sphere. Fire, in particular, that "most energetic of immortal powers," the visible representative of the primal light, was invoked as "son of Ormuzd." The Sun, the Archimagus, that noblest and most powerful agent of divine power, who "steps forth as a Conqueror from the top of the terrible Alborj to rule over the world which he enlightens from the throne of Ormuzd," was worshipped among other symbols by the name of MITHRAS, a beneficent and friendly genius, who, in the hymn addressed to him in the Zend-Avesta, bears the names given him by the Greeks, as the "Invincible" and the "Mediator"; the former, because in his daily strife with darkness he is the most active confederate of Ormuzd; the latter, as being the medium through which Heaven's choicest blessings are communicated to men. He is called "the eye of Ormuzd, the effulgent Hero, pursuing his course triumphantly, fertilizer of deserts, most exalted of the Izeds or Yezatas, the never-sleeping the protector of the land." "When the dragon foe devastates my provinces," says Ormuzd, "and afflicts them with famine, then is he struck down by the strong arm of Mithras, together with the Devs of Mazanderan. With his lance and his immortal club, the Sleepless Chief hurls down the Devs into the dust, when as Mediator he interposes to guard the city from evil."
Ahriman was by some Parsee sects considered older than Ormuzd, as darkness is older than light; he is imagined to have been unknown as a Malevolent Being in the early ages of the world, and the fall of man is attributed in the Boundehescll to an apostate worship of him, from which men were converted by a succession of prophets terminating with Zoroaster.
Mithras is not only light, but intelligence; that luminary which, though born in obscurity, will not only dispel darkness but conquer death. The warfare through which this consummation is to be reached, is mainly carried on through the instrumentality of the "Word," that "ever-living emanation of the Deity, by virtue of which the world exists," and of which the revealed formulas incessantly repeated in the liturgies of the Magi are but the expression. "What shall I do," cried Zoroaster, "O Ormuzd, steeped in brightness, in order to battle with Daroodj-Ahriman, father of the Evil Law; how shall I make men pure and holy?" Ormuzd answered and said: "Invoke, O Zoroaster, the pure law of the Servants of Ormuzd; invoke the Amschaspands who shed abundance throughout the seven Keshwars; invoke the Heaven, Zeruana-Akarana, the birds travailing on high, the swift wind, the Earth; invoke my Spirit, me who am Ahura-Mazda, the purest, strongest, wisest, best of beings; me who have the most majestic body, who through purity am Supreme, whose Soul is the Excellent Word; and ye, all people, invoke me as I have commanded Zoroaster."
Ahura-Mazda himself is the living WORD; he is called "First-born of all things, express image of the Eternal, very light of very light, the Creator, who by power of the Word which he never ceases to pronounce, made in 365 days the Heaven and the Earth." The Word is said in the Yashna to have existed before all, and to be itself a Yazata, a personified object of prayer. It was revealed in Serosch, in Homa, and again, under Gushtasp, was manifested in Zoroaster.
Between life and death, between sunshine and shade, Mithras is the present exemplification of the Primal Unity from which all things arose, and into which, through his mediation, all contrarietics will ultimately be absorbed. His annual sacrifice is the pasover of the Magi, a symbolical atonement or pledge of moral and physical regeneration. He created the world in the beginning; and as at the close of each successive year he sets free the current of life to invigorate a fresh circle of being, so in the end of all things he will bring the weary sum of ages as a hecatomb before God, releasing by a final sacrifice the Soul of Nature from her perishable frame, to commence a brighter and purer existence.
Iamblichus (De Mys. viii. 4) says: "The Egyptians are far from ascribing all things to physical causes; life and intellect they distinguish from physical being, both in man and in the Universe. They place intellect and reason first as self-existent, and from these they derive the created world. As Parent of generated things they constitute a Demiurge, and acknowledge a vital force both the Heavens and before the Heavens. They place Pure Intellect above and beyond the Universe, and another (that is, Mind vealed in the Material World), consisting of one continuous mind pervading the Universe, and apportioned to all its parts a spheres." The Egyptian idea, then, was that of all transcendental philosophy--that of a Deity both immanent and transcendent-- spirit passing into its manifestations, but not exhausted by so doing.
The wisdom recorded in the canonical rolls of Hermes quickly attained in this transcendental lore, all that human curiosity can ever discover. Thebes especially is said to have acknowledged a being without beginning or end, called Amun or Amun-Kneph, the all-prevading Spirit or Breath of Nature, or perhaps even some still more lofty object of reverential reflection, whom it was forbidden even to name. Such a being would in theory stand the head of the three orders of Gods mentioned by Herodotus, these being regarded as arbitrary classifications of similar or equal beings, arranged in successive emanations, according to an estimate of their comparative dignity. The Eight Great Gods, or primary class, were probably manifestations of the emanated God in the several parts and powers of the Universe, each potentially comprising the whole Godhead.
In the ancient Hermetic books, as quoted by Iamblichus, occurred the following passage in regard to the Supreme Being:-
"Before all the things that actually exist, and before all beginnings, there is one God, prior even to the first God and King, remaining unmoved in the singleness of his own Unity: for neither is anything conceived by intellect inwoven with him, nor anything else;, but he is established as the exemplar of the God who is good, who is his own father, self-begotten, and has only one Parent. For he is something greater and prior to, and the fountain of all things, and the foundation of things conceived by the intellect, which are the first species. And from this ONE, the self-originated God caused himself to shine forth; for which reason he is his own father, and self-originated. For he is both a beginning and God of Gods, a Monad from the One, prior to substance and the beginning of substance; for from him is substantiality and substance, whence also he is called the beginning of things conceived by the intellect. These then are the most ancient beginnings of all things, which Hermes places before the ethereal and empyrean and celestial Gods."
"CHANG-TI, Or the Supreme Lord or Being," said the old Chinese creed, "is the principle of everything that exists, and Father of all living. He is eternal, immovable, and independent: His power knows no bounds: His sight equally comprehends the Past, the Present, and the Future, and penetrates even to the inmost recesses of the heart. Heaven and earth are under his government: all events, all revolutions, are the consequences of his dispensation and will. He is pure, holy, and impartial; wickedness offends his sight; but he beholds with an eye of complacency the virtuous actions of men. Severe, yet just, he punishes vice in an exemplary manner, even in Princes and Rulers; and often casts down the guilty, to crown with honor the man who walks after his own heart, and whom he raises from obscurity. Good, merciful, and full of pity, he forgives the wicked upon their repentance: and public calamities and the irregularity of the seasons are but salutary warnings, which his fatherly goodness gives to men, to induce them to reform and amend."
Controlled by reason infinitely more than by the imagination, that people, occupying the extreme East of Asia, did not fall into idolatry until after the time of Confucius, and within two centuries of the birth of Christ; when the religion Of BUDDHA or FO was carried thither from India. Their system was long regulated by the pure worship of God, and the foundation of their moral and political existence laid in a sound, upright reason, conformable to true ideas of the Deity. They had no false gods or images, and their third Emperor Hoam-ti erected a Temple, the first probably ever erected, to the Great Architect of the Universe. And though they offered sacrifices to divers tutelary angels, yet they honored them infinitely less than XAM-TI or CHANG-TI, the Sovereign Lord of the World.
Confucius forbade making images or representations of Deity. He attached no idea of personality to Him; but considered Him as a Power or Principle, pervading all Nature. And the Chinese designated the Divinity by the name of THE DIVINE REASON.
The Japanese believe in a Supreme Invisible Being, not to represented by images or worshipped in Temples. They styled him AMIDA or OMITH; and say that he is without beginning end; that he came on earth, where he remained a thousand years, and became the Redeemer of our fallen race: that he is to judge all men; and the good are to live forever, while the bad are to condemned to Hell.
"The Chang-ti is represented," said Confucius, "under the general emblem of the visible firmament, as well as under the particular symbols of the sun, the Moon, and the Earth, because by their means we enjoy the gifts of the Chang-ti. The Sun is the source of life and light: the Moon illuminates the world by night. By observing the course of these luminaries, mankind are enabled to distinguish times and seasons. The Ancients, with the view of connecting the act with its object, when they established the practice of sacrificing to the Chang-ti, fixed the day the Winter Solstice, because the Sun, after having passed through the twelve places assigned apparently by the Chang-ti as its annual residence, began its career anew, to distribute blessings throughout the Earth."
He said: "The TEEN is the universal principle and prolific source of all things.... The Chang-ti is the universal principle of existence."
The Arabians never possessed a poetical, high-wrought, and scientifically arranged system of Polytheism. Their historical traditions had much analogy with those of the Hebrews, coincided with them in a variety of points. The tradition of a purer faith and the simple Patriarchal worship of the Deity appear never to have been totally extinguished among them; nor did idolatry gain much foothold until near the time of Mahomet; who, adopting the old primeval faith, taught again doctrine of one God, adding to it that he was 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 sclect body among them preserved a knowledge, in regard to the Deity, which was wholly unknown to the mass of the people; and those chosen few were made the medium of transition for certain truths, to later ages.
Among the Greeks, the scholars of the Egyptians, all the higher ideas and severer doctrines on the Divinity, his Sovereign Nature and Infinite Might, the Eternal Wisdom and Providence that conducts and directs all things to their proper end, the Infinite Mind and Supreme Intelligence that created all things, and is raised far above external nature,---all these loftier ideas and nobler doctrines were expounded more or less perfectly by Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, and Socrates, and developed in the most beautiful and luminous manner by Plato, and the philosophers that succeeded him. And even in the popular religion of the Greeks are many things capable of a deeper import and more spiritual signification; though they seem only rare vestiges of ancient truth, vague presentiments, fugitive tones, and momentary flashes, revealing a belief in a Supreme Being, Almighty Creator of the Universe, and Common Father of Mankind.
Much of the primitive Truth was taught to Pythagoras by Zoroaster, who himself received it from the Indians. His disciples rejected the use of Temples, of Altars, and of Statues; and smiled at the folly of those nations who imagined that the Deity sprang from or had any affinity with human nature. The tops of the highest mountains were the places chosen for sacrifices. Hymns and prayers were their principal worship. The supreme God, who fills the wide circle of Heaven, was the object to Whom they were addressed. Such is the testimony of Herodotus. Light they considered not so much as an object of worship, as rather the most pure and lively emblem of, and first emanation from, the Eternal God; and thought that man required something visible or tangible to exalt his mind to that degree of adoration which is due to the Divine Being.
There was a surprising similarity between the Temples, Priests, doctrines, and worship of the Persian Magi and the British Druids. The latter did not worship idols in the human shape, because they held that the Divinity, being invisible, ought to adored without being seen. They asserted the Unity of the God- head. Their invocations were made to the One All-preserving Power; and they argued that, as this power was not matter must necessarily be the Deity; and the secret symbol used express his name was O.I.W. They believed that the earth had sustained one general destruction by water; and would again be destroyed by fire. They admitted the doctrines of the immortality of the soul, a future state, and a day of judgment, which would be conducted on the principle of man's responsibility. They even retained some idea of the redemption of mankind through the death of a Mediator. They retained a tradition the Deluge, perverted and localized. But, around these fragments of primitive truth they wove a web of idolatry, worshipped two Subordinate Deities under the names of HU and CERIDWEN, male and female (doubtless the same as Osiris and Isis), and held doctrine of transmigration.
The early inhabitants of Scandinavia believed in a God who was "the Author of everything that existeth; the Eternal, the Ancient, the Living and Awful Being, the Searcher into concealed things, the Being that never changeth." Idols, visible representations of the Deity were originally forbidden, and He was directed to be worshipped in the lonely solitude sequestered forests, where He was said to dwell, invisible, an perfect silence.
The Druids, like their Eastern ancestors, paid the most sacred regard to the odd numbers, which; traced backward, ended in Unity or Deity, while the even numbers ended in nothing. 3 was particularly reverenced. 19 (7+3+3^2): 30 (7 X 3 + 3 X 3); and 21 (7 X 3) were numbers observed in the erection of their temples, constantly appearing in their dimensions, and the number and distances of the huge stones.
They were the sole interpreters of religion. They superintended all sacrifices; for no private person could offer one with their permission. They exercised the power of excommunication; and without their concurrence war could not be declared nor peace made: and they even had the power of inflicting the punishment of death. They professed to possess a knowledge magic, and practised augury for the public service.
They cultivated many of the liberal sciences, and particuly astronomy, the favorite science of the Orient; in which they attained considerable proficiency. They considered day as the offspring of night, and therefore made their computations by nights instead of days; and we, from them, still use the words fortnight and sen'night. They knew the division of the heavens into constellations; and finally, they practised the strictest morality, having particularly the most sacred regard for that peculiarly Masonic virtue, Truth.
In the Icelandic Prose Edda is the following dialogue:
"Who is the first or eldest of the Gods ?
"In our language he is called, ALFADIR (All-Father, or the Father of All); but in the old Asgard he had twelve names.
"Where is this God? What is his power? and what hath he done to display his 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 Muller, to the most distant heights of Greek history, the idea of God as the Supreme Being stands before us as a simple fact. Next to this adoration of One God, the Father of Heaven, the Father of men, we find in Greece a Worship of Nature." The original was the God or Gods, called by the Greeks the Son of Time, meaning that there was no God before Him, but He was Eternal. "Zeus," says the Orphic line, "is the Beginning, Zeus the Middle; out of Zeus all things have been made." And the Peleides of Dodona said, "Zeus was, Zeus is, Zeus will be; O great Zeus!" and he was Zeus Best and Greatest.
The Parsees, retaining the old religion taught by Zaradisht, say in their catechism: "We believe in only one God, and do not believe in any beside Him; Who created the Heavens, the Earth, the Angels.... Our God has neither face nor form, colour nor shape, nor fixed place. There is no other like Him, nor can our mind comprehend Him."
The Tetragrammaton, or some other word covered by it, was forbidden to be pronounced. But that its pronunciation might not be lost among the Levites, the High-Priest uttered it in the Temple once a year, on the 10th day of the Month Tisri, the day of the great feast of expiation. During this ceremony, the people were directed to make a great noise, that the Sacred Word might not be heard by any who had not a right to it; for every other, said the Jews, would be incontinently stricken dead.
The Great Egyptian Initiates, before the time of the Jews, did the same thing in regard to the word Isis; which they regarded as sacred and 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 SABAOTII and ADONAI were not made for created beings; but they belong to a mysterious theology, which goes back to the Creator. From Him comes the virtue of these names, when they are arranged and pronounced according to the rules."
The Hindu word AUM represented the three Powers combined in their Deity: Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva; or the Creating, Preserving, and Destroying Powers: A, the first; U or O-O, the, second; and M, the third. This word could not be pronounced except by the letters: for its pronunciation as one word was said to make Earth tremble, and even the Angels of Heaven to quake 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.'.O-O.'. M.'. for it is the symbol of the Lord of all things."
Herodotus says that the Ancient Pelasgi built no temples and worshipped no idols, and had a sacred name of Deity, which it was not permissible to pronounce.
The Clarian Oracle, which was of unknown antiquity, being asked which of the Deities was named IAQ, answered in these remarkable words: "The Initiated are bound to conceal the mysterious secrets. Learn, then, that IAQ is the Great God Supreme, that ruleth over all."
The Jews consider the True Name of God to be irrecoverably lost by disuse, and regard its pronunciation as one of the Mysteries that will be revealed at the coming of their Messiah. And they attribute its loss to the illegality of applying the Masoretic points to so sacred a Name, by which a knowledge of the proper vowels is forgotten. It is even said, in the Gemara of Abodah Zara, that God permitted a celebrated Hebrew Scholar to be burned by a Roman Emperor, because he had been heard to pronounce the Sacred Name 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 Chaldaeic, that the adversary might not make an improper use of it: for they believed it capable of working miracles; and held that the wonders in Egypt were performed by Moses, in virtue of this name being engraved on his rod: and that any person who knew the true pronunciation would be able to do as much as he did.
Josephus says it was unknown until God communicated it to Moses in the wilderness: and that it was lost through the wickedness of man.
The followers of Mahomet have a tradition that there is a secret name of the Deity which possesses wonderful properties; and that the only method of becoming acquainted with it, is by being initiated into the Mysteries of the Ism Abla.
H.'.O.'.M.'. was the first framer of the new religion among the Persians, and His Name was Ineffable.
AMUN, among the Egyptians, was a name pronounceable by none save the Priests.
The old Germans adored God with profund reverence, without during to name Him, or to worship Him in Temples.
The Druids expressed the name of Deity by the letters O.'.I.'.W.'.
Among all the nations of primitive antiquity, the doctrine of the immortality of the soul was not a mere probable hypothesis, needing laborious researches and diffuse argumentation to produce conviction of its truth. Nor can we hardly give it the name of Faith; for it was a lively certainty, like the feeling of one's own existence and identity, and of what is actually present; exerting its influence on all sublunary affairs, and the motive of mightier deeds and enterprises than any mere earthly interest could inspire
Even the doctrine of transmigration of souls, universal among the Ancient Hindus and Egyptians, rested on a basis of the old primitive religion, and was connected with a sentiment purely religious. It involved this noble element of truth: That since man had gone astray, and wandered far from God, he must needs make many efforts, and undergo a long and painful pilgrimage, before he could rejoin the Source of all Perfection: and the firm conviction and positive certainty, that nothing defective, impure, or defiled with earthy stains, could enter the pure region of perfect spirits, or be eternally united to God; wherefore the soul had to pass through long trials and many purifications before it could attain that blissful end. And the end and aim of all these systems of philosophy was the final deliverance of the soul from the old calamity, the dreaded fate and frightful lot of being compelled to wander through the dark regions of nature and the various forms of the brute creation, ever changing its terrestrial shape, and its union with God, which they held to be the lofty destiny of the wise and virtuous soul.
Pythagoras gave to the doctrine of the transmigration of souls that meaning which the wise Egyptians gave to it in their mysteries. He never taught the doctrine in that literal sense in which it was understood by the people. Of that literal doctrine not the least vestige is to be found in such of his symbols as remain, nor in his precepts collected by his disciple Lysias. He held that men always remain, in their essence, such as they were created; and can degrade themselves only by vice, and ennoble themselves only by virtue.
Hierocles, one of his most zealous and celebrated disciples, expressly says that he who believes that the soul of man, after his death, will enter the body of a beast, for his vices, or become a plant for his stupidity, is deceived; and is absolutely ignorant of the eternal form of the soul, which can never change; for, always remaining man, it is said to become God or beast, through virtue or vice, though it can become neither one nor the other by nature, but solely by resemblance of its inclinations to theirs.
And Timaeus of Locria, another disciple, says that to alarm men and prevent them from committing crimes, they menaced them with strange humiliations and punishments; even declaring that their souls would pass into new bodies,--that of a coward into the body of a deer; that of a ravisher into the body of a wolf; that of a murderer into the body of some still more ferocious animal; and that of an impure sensualist into the body of a hog.
So, too, the doctrine is explained in the Phaedo. And Lysias
says, that after the soul, purified of its crimes, has left the body and returned to Heaven, it is no longer subject to change or death, but enjoys an eternal felicity. According to the Indians, it returned to, and became a part of, the universal soul which animates everything.
The Hindus held that Buddha descended on earth to raise all human beings up to the perfect state. He will ultimately succeed, and all, himself included, be merged in Unity.
Vishnu is to judge the world at the last day. It is to be consumed by fire: The Sun and Moon are to lose their light; the Stars to fall; and a New Heaven and Earth to be created.
The legend of the fall of the Spirits, obscured and distorted, is preserved in the Hindu Mythology. And their traditions acknowledged, and they revered, the succession of the first ancestors of mankind, or the Holy Patriarchs of the primitive world, under the name of the Seven Great RISHIS, or Sages of hoary antiquity; though they invested their history with a cloud of fictions.
The Egyptians held that the soul was immortal; and that Osiris was to judge 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 he thrown down, and a general conflagration take place, which will consume the whole world. The remains of the earth will then sink down into Duzakh, and become for three periods a place of punishment for the wicked. Then, by degrees all will be pardoned, even Ahriman and the Devs, and admitted the regions of bliss, and thus there will be a new Heaven an new earth."
In the doctrines of Lamaism also, we find, obscured, and partly concealed in fiction, fragments of the primitive truth. For, according to that faith, "There is to be a final judgment before ESLIK KHAN: The good are to be admitted to Paradise, the bad to be banished to hell, where there are eight regions burning hot and eight freezing cold."
In the Mysteries, wherever they were practised, was taught that truth of the primitive revelation, the existence of One Great Being, Infinite and pervading the Universe, Who was there worshipped without superstition; and His marvellous nature, essence and attributes taught to the Initiates; while the vulgar attributed His works to Secondary Gods, personified, and isolated from Him in fabulous independence.
These truths were covered from the common people as with a veil; and the Mysteries were carried into every country, that, without disturbing the popular beliefs, truth, the arts, and the sciences might be known to those who were capable of understanding them, and maintaining the true doctrine incorrupt; which the people, prone to superstition and idolatry, have in no age been able to do; nor, as many strange aberrations and superstitions of the present day prove, any more now than heretofore. For we need but point to the doctrines of so many sects that degrade the Creator to the rank, and assign to Him the passions of humanity, to prove that now, as always, the old truths must be committed to a few, or they will be overlaid with fiction and error, and irretrievably lost.
Though Masonry is identical with the Ancient Mysteries, it is so in this qualified sense; that it presents but an imperfect image of their brilliancy; the ruins only of their grandeur, and a system that has experienced progressive alterations, the limits of social events and political circumstances. Upon leaving Egypt, the Mysteries were modified by the habits of the different nations among whom they were introduced. Though originally more moral and political than religious, they soon became the heritage, as it were of the priests, and essentially religious, though in reality limiting the sacerdotal power, by teaching the intelligent laity the folly and absurdity of the creeds of the populace. They were therefore necessarily changed by the religious systems of the countries into which they were transplanted. In Greece, they were the Mysteries of Ceres; in Rome, of Bona Dea, the Good Goddess; in Gaul, the School of Mars; in Sicily, the Academy of the Sciences; among the Hebrews, they partook of the rites and ceremonies of a religion which placed all the powers of government, and all the knowledge, in the hands of the Priests and Levites. The pagodas of India, the retreats of the Magi of Persia and Chaldea, and the pyramids of Egypt, were no longer the sources at which men drank in knowledge. Each people, at all informed, had its Mysteries. After a time the Temples of Greece and the School of Pythagoras lost their reputation, and Freemasonry took their place
Masonry, when properly expounded, is at once the interpretation of the great book of nature, the recital of physical and astronomical phenomena, the purest philosophy, and the place of deposit, where, as in a Treasury, are kept in safety all the great truths of the primitive revelation, that form the basis of all religions. In the modern Degrees three things are to he recognized: The image of primeval times, the tableau of the efficient causes of the Universe, and the book in which are written the morality of all peoples, and the code by which they must govern themselves if they would be prosperous.
The Kabalistic doctrine was long the religion of the Sage and the Savant; because, like Freemasonry, it incessantly tends toward spiritual perfection, and the fusion of the creeds and Nationalities of Mankind. In the eyes of the Kabalist, all men are his brothers; and their relative ignorance is, to him, but a reason for instructing them. There were illustrious Kabalists among the Egyptians and Greeks, whose doctrines the Orthodox Church has accepted; and among the Arabs were many, whose wisdom was not slighted by the Mediaeval Church.
The Sages proudly wore the name of Kabalists. The Kabalah embodied a noble philosophy, pure, not mysterious, but symbolic. It taught the doctrine of the Unity of God, the art of knowing and explaining the essence and operations of the Supreme Being, of spiritual powers and natural forces, and of determining their action by symbolic figures; by the arrangement of the alphabet, the combinations of numbers, the inversion of letters in writing and the concealed meanings which they claimed to discover therein. The Kabalah is the key of the occult sciences; and the Gnostics were born of the Kabalists.
The science of numbers represented not only arithmetical qualities, but also all grandeur, all proportion. By it we necessarily arrive at the discovery of the Principle or First Cause of things, called at the present day THE ABSOLUTE.
Or UNITY,--that loftiest term to which all philosophy directs itself; that imperious necessity of the human mind, that pivot round which it is compelled to group the aggregate of its ideas: Unity, this source, this centre of all systematic order, this principle of existence, this central point, unknown in its essence, but manifest in its effects; Unity, that sublime centre to which the chain of causes necessarily ascends, was the august Idea toward which all the ideas of Pythagoras converged. He refused the title of Sage, which means one who knows. He invented, and applied to himself that of Philosopher, signifying one who is fond of or studies things secret and occult. The astronomy which he mysteriously taught, was astrology: his science of numbers was based on Kabalistical principles.
The Ancients, and Pythagoras himself, whose real principles have not been always understood, never meant to ascribe to numbers, that is to say, to abstract signs, any special virtue. But the Sages of Antiquity concurred in recognizing a ONE FIRST CAUSE (material or spiritual) of the existence of the Universe. Thence, UNITY became the symbol of the Supreme Deity. It was made to express, to represent God; but without attributing to the mere number ONE any divine or supernatural virtue.