“Why was you divested of all metals when you was made a Mason?”
Ans. “Because Masonry regards no man on account of his worldly wealth or honors; it is, therefore, the internal and not the external qualifications that recommend a man to Masonry.”
“A second reason?”
Ans. “There was neither the sound of an axe, hammer, or any other metal tool heard at the building of King Solomon’s temple.”
“How could so stupendous a fabric be erected without the sound of axe, hammer, or any other metal tool?”
Ans. “All the stones were hewed, squared and numbered in the quarries where they were raised, all the timbers felled and prepared in the forests of Lebanon, and carried down to Joppa on floats, and taken from thence up to Jerusalem, and set up with wooden mauls, prepared for that purpose; which, when completed, every part thereof fitted with that exact nicety, that it had more the resemblance of the hand workmanship of the Supreme Architect of the Universe, than that of human hands.”
“Why was you neither naked nor clothed?”
Ans. “As I was an object of distress at that time, it was to remind me, if ever I saw a friend, more especially a brother, in a like distressed situation, that I should contribute as liberally to his relief as his situation required, and my abilities would admit, without material injury to myself or family.”
“Why were you neither barefoot or shod?”
Ans. “It was an ancient Israelitish custom, adopted among Masons; and we read, in the book of Ruth, concerning
their mode and manner of changing and redeeming, ‘and to confirm all things, a brother plucked off his shoe and gave it to his neighbor, and that was testimony in Israel.’ This, then, therefore, we do in confirmation of a token and as a pledge of our fidelity; thereby signifying that we will renounce our own wills in all things, and become obedient to the laws of our ancient institutions.”
“Why were you hoodwinked?”
“That my heart might conceive before my eyes beheld the beauties of Masonry.”
“A second reason?”
Ans. “As I was in darkness at that time, it was to remind me that I should keep the whole world so respecting Masonry.”
“Why had you a Cable Tow about your neck?”
Ans. “In case I had not submitted to the manner and mode of my initiation, that I might have been led out of the lodge without seeing the form and beauties thereof.”
“Why did you give three distinct knocks at the door?”
Ans. “To alarm the lodge, and let the Worshipful Master, Wardens and brethren know that a poor blind candidate prayed admission.”
“What does those three distinct knocks allude to?”
Ans. “A certain passage in Scripture, wherein it says, ‘Ask and it shall be given, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.'”
“How did you apply this to your then case in Masonry?”
Ans. “I asked the recommendations of a friend to become a Mason, I sought admission through his recommendations, and knocked, and the door of Masonry opened unto me.”
“Why was you caused to enter on the point of some sharp instrument pressing your naked left breast in the name of the Lord?”
Ans. “As this was a torture to my flesh, so might the recollection of it ever be to my heart and conscience, if ever I attempted to reveal the secrets of Masonry unlawfully.”
“Why was you conducted to the center of the lodge, and there caused to kneel for the benefit of a prayer?”
Ans. “Before entering on this, or any other great and important undertaking, it is highly necessary to implore a blessing from Deity.”
“Why was you asked in whom you put your trust?”
Ans. “Agreeable to the laws of our ancient institution, no atheist could be made a Mason, it was therefore necessary that I should believe in Deity; otherwise no oath or obligation could bind me.”
“Why did the Worshipful Master take you by the right hand and bid you arise, follow your leader and fear no danger?”
To hear patiently, to weigh deliberately and dispassionately, and to decide impartially;–these are the chief duties of a Judge. After the lessons you have received, I need not further enlarge upon them. You will be ever eloquently reminded of them by the furniture upon our Altar, and the decorations of the Tribunal.
The Holy Bible will remind you of your obligation; and that as you judge here below, so you will be yourself judged hereafter, by One who has not to submit, like an earthly judge, to the sad necessity of inferring the motives, intentions, and purposes of men [of which all crime essentially consists] from the uncertain and often unsafe testimony of their acts and words; as men in thick darkness grope their way, with hands outstretched before them: but before Whom every thought, feeling, impulse, and intention of every soul that now is, or ever was, or ever will be on earth, is, and ever will be through the whole infinite duration of eternity, present and visible.
The Square and Compass, the Plumb and Level, are well known to you as a Mason. Upon you as a Judge, they peculiarly inculcate uprightness, impartiality, careful consideration of facts and circumstances, accuracy in judgment, and uniformity in decision As a Judge, too, you are to bring up square work and square work only. Like a temple erected by the plumb, you are to lean neither to one side nor the other. Like a building well squared and levelled, you are to be firm and steadfast in your convictions of right and justice. Like the circle swept with the compasses, you are to be true. In the scales of justice you are to weigh the facts and the law alone, nor place in either scale personal friendship or personal dislike, neither fear nor favor: and when reformation is no longer to be hoped for, you are to smite relentlessly with the sword of justice.
The peculiar and principal symbol of this Degree is the Tetractys of Pythagoras, suspended in the East, where ordinarily the sacred word or letter glitters, like it, representing the Deity. Its nine external points form the triangle, the chief symbol in Masonry, with many of the meanings of which you are familiar.
To us, its three sides represent the three principal attributes of the Deity, which created, and now, as ever, support, uphold, and guide the Universe in its eternal movement; the three supports of the Masonic Temple, itself an emblem of the Universe:–Wisdom, or the Infinite Divine Intelligence; Strength, or Power, the Infinite Divine Will; and Beauty, or the Infinite Divine Harmony, the Eternal Law, by virtue of which the infinite myriads of suns and worlds flash ever onward in their ceaseless revolutions, without clash or conflict, in the Infinite of space, and change and movement are the law of all created existences.
To us, as Masonic Judges, the triangle figures forth the Pyramids, which, planted firmly as the everlasting hills, and accurately adjusted to the four cardinal points, defiant of all assaults of men and time, teach us to stand firm and unshaken as they, when our feet are planted upon the solid truth.
It includes a multitude of geometrical figures, all having a deep significance to Masons. The triple triangle is peculiarly sacred, having ever been among all nations a symbol of the Deity. Prolonging all the external lines of the Hexagon, which also it includes, we have six smaller triangles, whose bases cut each other in the central point of the Tetractys, itself always the symbol of
the generative power of the Universe, the Sun, Brahma, Osiris, Apollo, Bel, and the Deity Himself. Thus, too, we form twelve still smaller triangles, three times three of which compose the Tetractys itself.
I refrain from enumerating all the figures that you may trace within it: but one may not be passed unnoticed. The Hexagon itself faintly images to us a cube, not visible at the first glance, and therefore the fit emblem of that faith in things invisible, most essential to salvation. The first perfect solid, and reminding you of the cubical stone that sweated blood, and of that deposited by Enoch, it teaches justice, accuracy, and consistency.
And at last reaching the highest truth, Pindar, Hesiod, Æschylus, Æsop, and Horace said, “All virtue is a struggle; life is not a scene of repose, but of energetic action. Suffering is but another name for the teaching of experience, appointed by Zeus himself, the giver of all understanding, to be the parent of instruction, the schoolmaster of life. He indeed put an end to the golden age; he gave venom to serpents and predacity to wolves; he shook the honey from the leaf, and stopped the flow of wine in the rivulets; he concealed the element of fire, and made the means of life scanty and precarious. But in all this his object was beneficent; it was not to destroy life, but to improve it. It was a blessing to man, not a curse, to be sentenced to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow; for nothing great or excellent is attainable without exertion; safe and easy virtues are prized neither by gods nor men; and the parsimoniousness of nature is justified by its powerful effect in rousing the dormant faculties, and forcing on mankind the invention of useful arts by means of meditation and thought.”
Ancient religious reformers pronounced the worship of “idols” to be the root of all evil; and there have been many iconoclasts in different ages of the world. The maxim still holds good; for the worship of idols, that is, of fanciful conceits, if not the source of all evil, is still the cause of much; and it prevails as extensively now as it ever did. Men are ever engaged in worshipping the picturesque fancies of their own imaginations.
Human wisdom must always be limited and incorrect; and even right opinion is only a something intermediate between ignorance and knowledge. The normal condition of man is that of progress. Philosophy is a kind of journey, ever learning, yet never arriving at the ideal perfection of truth. A Mason should, like the wise Socrates, assume the modest title of a “lover of wisdom”; for he must ever long after something more excellent than he possesses, something still beyond his reach, which he desires to make eternally his own.
Thus the philosophic sentiment came to be associated with the poetical and the religious, under the comprehensive name of Love. Before the birth of Philosophy, Love had received but scanty and inadequate homage. This mightiest and most ancient of gods, coeval with the existence of religion and of the world, had been
indeed unconsciously felt, but had neither been worthily honored nor directly celebrated in hymn or pæn. In the old days of ignorance it could scarcely have been recognized. In order that it might exercise its proper influence over religion and philosophy, it was necessary that the God of Nature should cease to be a God of terrors, a personification of mere Power or arbitrary Will, a pure and stern Intelligence, an inflictor of evil, and an unrelenting Judge. The philosophy of Plato, in which this charge became forever established, was emphatically a mediation of Love. With him, the inspiration of Love first kindled the light of arts and imparted them to mankind; and not only the arts of mere existence, but the heavenly art of wisdom, which supports the Universe. It inspires high and generous deeds and noble self-devotion. Without it, neither State nor individual could do anything beautiful or great. Love is our best pilot, confederate, supporter, and saviour; the ornament and governor of all things human and divine; and he with divine harmony forever soothes the minds of men and gods.
Man is capable of a higher Love, which, marrying mind with mind and with the Universe, brings forth all that is noblest in his faculties, and lifts him beyond himself. This higher love is neither mortal nor immortal, but a power intermediate between the human and the Divine, filling up the mighty interval, and binding the Universe together. He is chief of those celestial emissaries who carry to the gods the prayers of men, and bring down to men the gifts of the gods. “He is forever poor, and far from being beautiful as mankind imagine, for he is squalid and withered; he flies low along the ground, is homeless and unsandalled; sleeping without covering before the doors and in the unsheltered streets, and possessing so far his mother’s nature as being ever the companion of want. Yet, sharing also that of his father, he is forever scheming to obtain things good and beautiful; he is fearless, vehement, and strong; always devising some new contrivance; strictly cautious and full of inventive. resource; a philosopher through his whole existence, a powerful enchanter, and a subtle sophist.”
“The soul of the world,” says Macrobius, “is nature itself” [as the soul of man is man himself], “always acting through the celestial spheres which .it moves, and which but follow the irresistible impulse it impresses on them. The heavens, the sun, great seat of generative power, the signs, the stars, and the planets act only with the activity of the soul of the Universe. From that soul, through them, come all the variations and changes of sublunary nature, of which the heavens and celestial bodies are but the secondary causes. The zodiac, with its signs, is an existence, immortal and divine, organized by the universal soul, and producing, or gathering in itself, all the varied emanations of the different powers that make up the nature of the Divinity.”
This doctrine, that gave to the heavens and the spheres living souls, each a portion of the universal soul, was of extreme antiquity. It was held by the old Sabæans. It was taught by Timæus, Plato, Speusippus, Iamblichus, Macrobius, Marcus Aurelius, and Pythagoras. When once men had assigned a soul to the Universe, containing in itself the plenitude of the animal life of particular beings, and even of the stars, they soon supposed that soul to be essentially intelligent, and the source of intelligence of all intelligent beings. Then the Universe became to them not only animated but intelligent, and of that intelligence the different parts of nature partook. Each soul was the vehicle, and, as it were, the envelope of the intelligence that attached itself to it, and could repose nowhere else. Without a soul there could be no intelligence; and as there was a universal soul, source of all souls, the universal soul was gifted with a universal intelligence, source of all particular intelligences. So the soul of the world contained in itself the intelligence of the world. All the agents of nature into which the universal soul entered, received also a portion of its intelligence, and the Universe, in its totality and in its parts, was filled with intelligences, that might be regarded as so many emanations from the sovereign and universal intelligence. Wherever the divine soul acted as a cause, there also was intelligence; and thus Heaven, the stars, the elements, and all parts of the Universe, became the seats of so many divine intelligences. Every minutest portion of the great soul became a partial intelligence, and the more it was disengaged from gross matter, the more active and intelligent it was. And all the old adorers of nature, the theologians, astrologers, and poets, and the most distinguished philosophers, supposed that the stars were so many animated and intelligent beings, or
eternal bodies, active causes of effects here below, whom a principle of life animated, and whom an intelligence directed, which was but an emanation from, and a portion of, the universal life and intelligence of the world.
The Universe itself was regarded as a supremely intelligent being. Such was the doctrine of Timæus of Locria. The soul of man was part of the intelligent soul of the Universe, and therefore itself intelligent. His opinion was that of many other philosophers. Cleanthes, a disciple of ZENO, regarded the Universe as God, Or as the unproduced and universal cause of all effects produced. He ascribed a soul and intelligence to universal nature, and to this intelligent soul, in his view, divinity belonged. From it the intelligence of man was an emanation, and shared its divinity. Chrysippus, the most subtle of the Stoics, placed in the universal reason that forms the soul and intelligence of nature, that divine force or essence of the Divinity which he assigned to the world moved by the universal soul that pervades its every part.
An interlocutor in Cicero’s work, De Natura Deorum, formally argues that the Universe is necessarily intelligent and wise, because man, an infinitely small portion of it, is so. Cicero makes the same argument in his oration for Milo. The physicists came to the same conclusion as the philosophers. They supposed that movement essentially belonged to the soul, and the direction of regular and ordered movements to the intelligence. And, as both movement and order exist in the Universe, therefore, they held, there must be in it a soul and an intelligence that role it, and are not to be distinguished from itself; because the idea of the Universe is but the aggregate of all the particular ideas of all things that exist.
The intellect of the Atheist would find matter everywhere; but no Causing and Providing Mind: his moral sense would find no Equitable Will, no Beauty of Moral Excellence, no Conscience enacting justice into the unchanging law of right, no spiritual Order or spiritual Providence, but only material Fate and Chance. His affections would find only finite things to love; and to them the dead who were loved and who died yesterday, are like the rainbow that yesterday evening lived a moment and then passed away. His soul, flying through the vast Inane, and feeling the darkness with its wings, seeking the Soul of all, which at once is Reason, Conscience, and the Heart of all that is, would find no God, but a Universe all disorder; no Infinite, no Reason, no Conscience, no Heart, no Soul of things; nothing to reverence, to esteem, to love, to worship, to trust in; but only an Ugly Force, alien and foreign to us, that strikes down those we love, and makes us mere worms on the hot sand of the world. No voice would speak from the Earth to comfort him. It is a cruel mother, that great Earth, that devours her young,–a Force and nothing more. Out of the sky would smile no kind Providence, in all its thousand starry eyes; and in storms a malignant violence, with its lightning-sword, would stab into the darkness, seeking for men to murder.
No man ever was or ever can be content with that. The evidence of .God has been ploughed into Nature so deeply, and so deeply woven into the texture of the human soul, that Atheism has never become a faith, though it has sometimes assumed the shape of theory. Religion is natural to man. Instinctively he turns to God and reverences and relies on Him. In the Mathematics of the Heavens, written in gorgeous diagrams of fire, he sees law, order, beauty, harmony without end: in the ethics of the little nations that inhabit the ant-hills he sees the same; in all Nature, animate and inanimate, he sees the evidences of a Design, a Will, an Intelligence, and a God,–of a God beneficent and loving as well as wise, and merciful and indulgent as well as powerful.
To man, surrounded by the material Universe, and conscious of the influence that his material environments exercised upon his fortunes and his present destiny;–to man, ever confronted with the splendors of the starry heavens, the regular march of the
seasons, the phenomena of sunrise and moonrise, and all the evidences of intelligence and design that everywhere pressed upon and overwhelmed him, all imaginable questions as to the nature and cause of these phenomena constantly recurred, demanding to be solved, and refusing to be sent away unanswered. And still, after the lapse of ages, press upon the human mind and demand solution, the same great questions–perhaps still demanding it in vain.
Advancing to the period when man had ceased to look upon the separate parts and individual forces of the Universe as gods,–when he had come to look upon it as a whole, this question, among the earliest, occurred to him, and insisted on being answered: “Is this material Universe self-existent, or was it created? Is it eternal, or did it originate?”
And then in succession came crowding on the human mind these other questions:
“Is this material Universe a mere aggregate of fortuitous combinations of matter, or is it the result and work of intelligence, acting upon a plan?
“If there be such an Intelligence, what and where is it? Is the material Universe itself an Intelligent being? Is it like man, a body and a soul? Does Nature act upon itself, or is there a Cause beyond it that acts upon it?
“If there is a personal God, separate from the material Universe, that created all things, Himself uncreated, is He corporeal or incorporeal, material or spiritual, the soul of the Universe or wholly apart from it? and if He be Spirit, what then is spirit?
“Was that Supreme Deity active or quiescent before the creation; and if quiescent during a previous eternity, what necessity of His nature moved Him at last to create a world; or was it a mere whim that had no motive?
limiting the sacerdotal power, by teaching the intelligent laity the folly and absurdity of the creeds of the populace. They were therefore necessarily changed by the religious systems of the countries into which they were transplanted. In Greece, they were the Mysteries of Ceres; in Rome, of Bona Dea, the Good Goddess; in Gaul, the School of Mars; in Sicily, the Academy of the Sciences; among the Hebrews, they partook of the rites and ceremonies of a religion which placed all the powers of government, and all the knowledge, in the hands of the Priests and Levites. The pagodas of India, the retreats of the Magi of Persia and Chaldea, and the pyramids of Egypt, were no longer the sources at which men drank in knowledge. Each people, at all informed, had its Mysteries. After a time the Temples of Greece and the School of Pythagoras lost their reputation, and Freemasonry took their place.
Masonry, when properly expounded, is at once the interpretation of the great book of nature, the recital of physical and astronomical phenomena, the purest philosophy, and the place of deposit, where, as in a Treasury, are kept in safety all the great truths of the primitive revelation, that form the basis of all religions. In the modern Degrees three things are to be recognized: The image of primeval times, the tableau of the efficient causes of the Universe, and the book in which are written the morality of all peoples, and the code by which they must govern themselves if they would be prosperous.
The Kabalistic doctrine was long the religion of the Sage and the Savant; because, like Freemasonry, it incessantly tends toward spiritual perfection, and the fusion of the creeds and Nationalities of Mankind. In the eyes of the Kabalist, all men are his brothers; and their relative ignorance is, to him, but a reason for instructing them. There were illustrious Kabalists among the Egyptians and Greeks, whose doctrines the Orthodox Church has accepted; and among the Arabs were many, whose wisdom was not slighted by the Mediæval Church.
The Sages proudly wore the name of Kabalists. The Kabalah embodied a noble philosophy, pure, not mysterious, but symbolic. It taught the doctrine of the Unity of God, the art of knowing and explaining the essence and operations of the Supreme Being, of spiritual powers and natural forces, and of determining their action by symbolic figures; by the arrangement of the alphabet,
the combinations of numbers, the inversion of letters in writing and the concealed meanings which they claimed to discover therein. The Kabalah is the key of the occult sciences; and the Gnostics were born of the Kabalists.
The science of numbers represented not only arithmetical qualities, but also all grandeur, all proportion. By it we necessarily arrive at the discovery of the Principle or First Cause of things, called at the present day THE ABSOLUTE.
Or UNITY,–that loftiest term to which all philosophy directs itself; that imperious necessity of the human mind, that pivot round which it is compelled to group the aggregate of its ideas: Unity, this source, this centre of all systematic order, this principle of existence, this central point, unknown in its essence, but manifest in its effects; Unity, that sublime centre to which the chain of causes necessarily ascends, was the august Idea toward which all the ideas of Pythagoras converged. He refused the title of Sage, which means one who knows. He invented, and applied to himself that of Philosopher, signifying one who is fond of or studies things secret and occult. The astronomy which he mysteriously taught, was astrology: his science of numbers was based on Kabalistical principles.
The Ancients, and Pythagoras himself, whose real principles have not been always understood, never meant to ascribe to numbers, that is to say, to abstract signs, any special virtue. But the Sages of Antiquity concurred in recognizing a ONE FIRST CAUSE (material or spiritual) of the existence of the Universe. Thence, UNITY became the symbol of the Supreme Deity. It was made to express, to represent God; but without attributing to the mere, number ONE any divine or supernatural virtue.
which represented the Deity coming forth out of the incomprehensible mystery of His nature, and revealing Himself at those critical epochs which either in the physical or moral world seemed to mark a new commencement of prosperity and order. Combating the power of Evil in the various departments of Nature, and in successive periods of time, the Divinity, though varying in form, is ever in reality the same, whether seen in useful agricultural or social inventions, in traditional victories over rival creeds, or in physical changes faintly discovered through tradition, or suggested by cosmogonical theory. As Rama, the Epic hero armed with sword, club, and arrows, the prototype of Hercules and Mithras, he wrestles like the Hebrew Patriarch with the Powers of Darkness; as Chrishna-Govinda, the Divine Shepherd, he is the Messenger of Peace, overmastering the world by music and love. Under the human form he never ceases to be the Supreme Being. “The foolish” (he says, in Bhagavad Ghita), “unacquainted with my Supreme Nature, despise me in this human form, while men of great minds, enlightened by the Divine principle within them, acknowledge me as incorruptible and before all things, and serve me with undivided hearts.” “I am not recognized by all,” he says again, “because concealed by the supernatural power which is in me; yet to me are known all things past, present, and to come; I existed before Vaivaswata and Menou. I am the Most High God, the Creator of the World, the Eternal Poorooscha (Man-World or Genius of the World). And although in my own nature I am exempt from liability to birth or death, and am Lord of all created things, yet as often as in the world virtue is enfeebled, and vice and injustice prevail, so often do I become manifest and am revealed from age to age, to save the just, to destroy the guilty, and to reassure the faltering steps of virtue. He who acknowledgeth me as even so, doth not on quitting this mortal frame enter into another, for he entereth into me; and many who have trusted in me have already entered into me, being purified by the power of wisdom. I help those who walk in my path, even as they serve me.”
Brahma, the creating agent, sacrificed himself, when, by descending into material forms, he became incorporated with his work; and his mythological history was interwoven with that of the Universe. Thus, although spiritually allied to the Supreme, and Lord of all creatures (Prajapati), he shared the imperfection and
corruption of an inferior nature, and, steeped in manifold and perishable forms, might be said, like the Greek Uranus, to be mutilated and fallen. He thus combined two characters, formless form, immortal and mortal, being and non-being, motion and rest. As Incarnate Intelligence, or THE WORD, he communicated to man what had been revealed to himself by the Eternal, since he is creation’s Soul as well as Body, within which the Divine Word is written in those living letters which it is the prerogative of the self-conscious spirit to interpret.
The fundamental principles of the religion of the Hindi’s consisted in the belief in the existence of One Being only, of the immortality of the soul, and of a future state of rewards and punishments. Their precepts of morality inculcate the practice of virtue as necessary for procuring happiness even in this transient life; and their religious doctrines make their felicity in a future state to depend upon it.
Besides their doctrine of the transmigration of souls, their dogmas may be epitomized under the following heads: 1st. The existence of one God, from Whom all things proceed, and to Whom all must return. To him they constantly apply these expressions–The Universal and Eternal Essence; that which has ever been and will ever continue; that which vivifies and pervades all things; He who is everywhere present, and causes the celestial bodies to revolve in the course He has prescribed to them. 2d. A tripartite division of the Good Principle, for the purposes of Creation, Preservation, and Renovation by change and death. 3d. The necessary existence of an Evil Principle, occupied in counteracting the benevolent purposes of the first, in their execution by the Devata or Subordinate Genii, to whom is entrusted the control over the various operations of nature.
WHILE you were veiled in darkness, you heard repeated by the Voice of the Great Past its most ancient doctrines. None has the right to object, if the Christian Mason sees foreshadowed in Chrishna and Sosiosch, in Mithras and Osiris, the Divine WORD that, as he believes, became Man, and died upon the cross to redeem a fallen race. Nor can he object if others see reproduced, in the WORD of the beloved Disciple, that was in the beginning with God, and that was God, and by Whom everything was made, only the LOGOS of Plato, and the WORD or Uttered THOUGHT or first Emanation of LIGHT, Or the Perfect REASON of the Great, Silent, Supreme, Uncreated Deity, believed in and adored by all.
We do not undervalue the importance of any Truth. We utter no word that can be deemed irreverent by any one of any faith. We do not tell the Moslem that it is only important for him to believe that there is but one God, and wholly unessential whether Mahomet was His prophet. We do not tell the Hebrew that the Messiah whom he expects was born in Bethlehem nearly two thousand years ago; and that he is a heretic because he will not so believe. And as little do we tell the sincere Christian that Jesus of Nazareth was but a man like us, or His history but the unreal revival of an older legend. To do either is beyond our jurisdiction. Masonry, of no one age, belongs to all time; of no one religion, it finds its great truths in all.
To every Mason, there is a GOD; ONE, Supreme, Infinite in Goodness, Wisdom, Foresight, Justice, and Benevolence; Creator, Disposer, and Preserver of all things. How, or by what intermediates He creates and acts, and in what way He unfolds and manifests Himself, Masonry leaves to creeds and Religions to inquire.
To every Mason, the soul of man is immortal. Whether it
emanates from and will return to God, and what its continued mode of existence hereafter, each judges for himself. Masonry was not made to settle that.
To every Mason, WISDOM or INTELLIGENCE, FORCE or STRENGTH, and HARMONY, or FITNESS and BEAUTY, are the Trinity of the attributes of God. With the subtleties of Philosophy concerning them Masonry does not meddle, nor decide as to the reality of the supposed Existences which are their Personifications: nor whether the Christian Trinity be such a personification, or a Reality of the gravest import and significance.
To every Mason, the Infinite Justice and Benevolence of God give ample assurance that Evil will ultimately be dethroned, and the Good, the True, and the Beautiful reign triumphant and eternal. It teaches, as it feels and knows, that Evil, and Pain, and Sorrow exist as part of a wise and beneficent plan, all the parts of which work together under God’s eye to a result which shall be perfection. Whether the existence of evil is rightly explained in this creed or in that, by Typhon the Great Serpent, by Ahriman and his Armies of Wicked Spirits, by the Giants and Titans that war against Heaven, by the two co-existent Principles of Good and Evil, by Satan’s temptation and the fall of Man, by Lok and the Serpent Fenris, it is beyond the domain of Masonry to decide, nor does it need to inquire. Nor is it within its Province to determine how the ultimate triumph of Light and Truth and Good, over Darkness and Error and Evil, is to be achieved; nor whether the Redeemer, looked and longed for by all nations, hath appeared in Judea, or is yet to come.
It reverences all the great reformers. It sees in Moses, the Lawgiver of the Jews, in Confucius and Zoroaster, in Jesus of Nazareth, and in the Arabian Iconoclast, Great Teachers of Morality, and Eminent Reformers, if no more: and allows every brother of the Order to assign to each such higher and even Divine Character as his Creed and Truth require.
Thus Masonry disbelieves no truth, and teaches unbelief in no creed, except so far as such creed may lower its lofty estimate of the Deity, degrade Him to the level of the passions of humanity, deny the high destiny of man, impugn the goodness and benevolence of the Supreme God, strike at those great columns of Masonry, Faith, Hope, and Charity, or inculcate immorality, and disregard of the active duties of the Order.
In ancient times the mark Tau was set on those who had been acquitted by their judges, as a symbol of innocence. The military commanders placed it on soldiers who escaped unhurt from the field of battle, as a sign of their safety under the Divine Protection.
It was a sacred symbol among the Druids. Divesting a tree of part of its branches, they left it in the shape of a Tau Cross, preserved it carefully, and consecrated it with solemn ceremonies. On the tree they cut deeply the word THAU, by which they meant God. On the right arm of the Cross, they inscribed the word HESULS, on the left BELEN or BELENUS, and on the middle of the trunk THARAMIS. This represented the sacred Triad.
It is certain that the Indians, Egyptians, and Arabians paid veneration to the sign of the Cross, thousands of years before the coming of Christ. Everywhere it was a sacred symbol. The Hindus and the Celtic Druids built many of their Temples in the form of a Cross, as the ruins still remaining clearly show, and particularly the ancient Druidical Temple at Classerniss in the Island of Lewis in Scotland. The Circle is of 12 Stones. On each of the sides, east, west, and south, are three. In the centre was the image of the Deity; and on the north an avenue of twice nineteen stones, and one at the entrance. The Supernal Pagoda at Benares is in the form of a Cross; and the Druidical subterranean grotto at New Grange in Ireland.
The Statue of Osiris at Rome had the same emblem. Isis and Ceres also bore it; and the caverns of initiation were constructed in that shape with a pyramid over the Sacellum.
Crosses were cut in the stones of the Temple of Serapis in Alexandria; and many Tau Crosses are to be seen in the sculptures of Alabastion and Esné, in Egypt. On coins, the symbol of the Egyptian God Kneph was a Cross within a Circle.
The Crux Ansata was the particular emblem of Osiris, and his sceptre ended with that figure. It was also the emblem of Hermes, and was considered a Sublime Hieroglyphic, possessing mysterious powers and virtues, as a wonder-working amulet.
The Sacred Tau occurs in the hands of the mummy-shaped figures between the forelegs of the row of Sphynxes, in the great avenue leading from Luxor to Karnac. By the Tau Cross the
[paragraph continues] Cabalists expressed the number 10, a perfect number, denoting Heaven, and the Pythagorean Tetractys, or incommunicable name of God. The Taft Cross is also found on the stones in front of the door of the Temple of Amunoth III, at Thebes, who reigned about the time when the Israelites took possession of Canaan: and the Egyptian Priests carried it in all the sacred processions.
Tertullian, who had been initiated, informs us that the Tau was inscribed on the forehead of every person who had been admitted into the Mysteries of Mithras.
As the simple Tau represented Life, so, when the Circle, symbol of Eternity, was added, it represented Eternal Life.
At the Initiation of a King, the Tau, as the emblem of life and key of the Mysteries, was impressed upon his lips.
In the Indian Mysteries, the Tau Cross, under the name of Tiluk, was marked upon the body of the candidate, as a sign that he was set apart for the Sacred Mysteries.
On the upright tablet of the King, discovered at Nimroud, are the names of thirteen Great Gods (among which are YAV and BEL); and the left-hand character of every one is a cross composed of two cuneiform characters.
The Cross appears upon an Ancient Phœnician medal found in the ruins of Citium; on the very ancient Buddhist Obelisk near Ferns in Ross-shire; on the Buddhist Round Towers in Ireland, and upon the splendid obelisk of the same era at Forres in Scot-land.
Upon the facade of a temple at Kalabche in Nubia are three regal figures, each holding a Crux Ansata.
Like the Subterranean Mithriatic Temple at New Grange in Scotland, the Pagodas of Benares and Mathura were in the form of a Cross. Magnificent Buddhist Crosses were erected, and are still standing, at Clonmacnoise, Finglas, and Kilcullen in Ireland. Wherever the monuments of Buddhism are found, in India, Ceylon, or Ireland, we find the Cross: for Buddha or Boudh was represented to have been crucified.
ineffable symbol of religious mysteries, to be looked upon in profound silence. Such as it was, its figure was that of a small urn of burnished gold, hollowed very artistically, rounded at the bottom, and covered all over the outside with the wonderful hieroglyphics of the Egyptians. The spout was not elevated, but extended laterally, projecting like a long rivulet; while on the opposite side was the handle, which, with similar lateral extension, bore on its summit an asp, curling its body into folds, and stretching upward, its wrinkled, scaly, swollen throat.”
The salient basilisk, or royal ensign of the Pharaohs, often occurs on the monuments–a serpent in folds, with his head raised erect above the folds. The basilisk was the Phœnix of the serpent-tribe; and the vase or urn was probably the vessel, shaped like a cucumber, with a projecting spout, out of which, on the monuments of Egypt, the priests are represented pouring streams of the crux ansata or Tau Cross, and of sceptres, over the kings.
In the Mysteries of Mithras, a sacred cave, representing the whole arrangement of the world, was used for the reception of the Initiates. Zoroaster, says Eubulus, first introduced this custom of consecrating caves. They were also consecrated, in Crete, to Jupiter; in Arcadia, to the Moon and Pan; and in the Island of Naxos, to Bacchus. The Persians, in the cave where the Mysteries of Mithras were celebrated, fixed the seat of that God, Father of Generation, or Demiourgos, near the equinoctial point of Spring, with the Northern portion of the world on his right, and the Southern on his left.
Mithras, says Porphyry, presided over the Equinoxes, seated on a Bull, the symbolical animal of the Demiourgos, and bearing a sword. The equinoxes were the gates through which souls passed to and fro, between the hemisphere of light and that or darkness. The milky way was also represented, passing near each of these gates: and it was, in the old theology, termed the pathway of souls. It is, according to Pythagoras, vast troops of souls that form that luminous belt.
The route followed by souls, according to Porphyry, or rather their progressive march in the world, lying through the fixed stars and planets, the Mithriac cave not only displayed the zodiacal and other constellations, and marked gates at the four equinoctial and solstitial points of the zodiac, whereat souls enter into and escape from the world of generations; and through which they
pass to and fro between the realms of light and darkness; but it represented the seven planetary spheres which they needs must traverse, in descending from the heaven of the fixed stars to the elements that envelop the earth; and seven gates were marked, one for each planet, through which they pass, in descending or returning.
We learn this from Celsus, in Origen; who says that the symbolical image of this passage among the Stars, used in the Mithriac Mysteries, was a ladder, reaching from earth to Heaven, divided into seven steps or stages, to each of which was a gate, and at the summit an eighth, that of the fixed stars. The first gate, says Celsus, was that of Saturn, and of lead, by the heavy nature whereof his dull slow progress was symbolized. The second, of tin, was that of Venus, symbolizing her soft splendor and easy flexibility. The third, of brass, was that of Jupiter, emblem of his solidity and dry nature. The fourth, of iron, was that of Mercury, expressing his indefatigable activity and sagacity. The fifth, of copper, was that of Mars, expressive of his inequalities and variable nature. The sixth, of silver, was that of the Moon: and the seventh, of gold, that of the Sun. This order is not the real order of these Planets; but a mysterious one, like that of the days of the Week consecrated to them, commencing with Saturday, and retrograding to Sunday. It was dictated, Celsus says, by certain harmonic relations, those of the fourth.
Thus there was an intimate connection between the Sacred Science of the Mysteries, and ancient astronomy and physics; and the grand spectacle of the Sanctuaries was that of the order of the Known Universe, or the spectacle of Nature itself, surrounding the soul of the Initiate, as it surrounded it when it first descended through the planetary gates, and by the equinoctal and solstitial doors, along the Milky Way, to be for the first time immured in its prison-house of matter. But the Mysteries also represented to the candidate, by sensible symbols, the invisible forces which move this visible Universe, and the virtues, qualities, and powers attached to matter, and which maintain the marvellous order observed therein. Of this Porphyry informs us.