and opens out the unfathomable mystery of the One Supreme into more explicit and manageable Forms, which express not indeed His Essence, which is wholly beyond our reach and higher than our faculties can climb, but His Will, and so feeds an endless enthusiasm by accumulating forever new objects of pursuit. We have long experienced that knowledge is profitable, we are beginning to find out that it is moral, and we shall at last discover it to be religious.
God and truth are inseparable; a knowledge of God is possession of the saving oracles of truth. In proportion as the thought and purpose of the individual are trained to conformity with the rule of right prescribed by Supreme Intelligence, so far is his happiness promoted, and the purpose of his existence fulfilled. In this way a new life arises in him; he is no longer isolated, but is a part of the eternal harmonies around him. His erring will is directed by the influence of a higher will, informing and moulding it in the path of his true happiness.
Man’s power of apprehending outward truth is a qualified privilege; the mental like the physical inspiration passing through a diluted medium; and yet, even when truth, imparted, as it were, by intuition, has been specious, or at least imperfect, the intoxication of sudden discovery has ever claimed it as full, infallible, and divine. And while human weakness needed ever to recur to the pure and perfect source, the revelations once popularly accepted and valued assumed an independent substantiality, perpetuating not themselves only, but the whole mass of derivative forms accidentally connected with them, and legalized in their names. The mists of error thickened under the shadows of prescription, until the free light again broke in upon the night of ages, redeeming the genuine treasure from the superstition which obstinately doted on its accessories.
Even to the Barbarian, Nature reveals a mighty power and a wondrous wisdom, and continually points to God. It is no wonder that men worshipped the several things of the world. The world of matter is a revelation of fear to the savage in Northern climes; he trembles at his deity throned in ice and snow. The lightning, the storm, the earthquake startle the rude man, and he sees the divine in the extraordinary.
The grand objects of Nature perpetually constrain men to think of their Author. The Alps are the great altar of Europe; the nocturnal
sky has been to mankind the dome of a temple, starred all over with admonitions to reverence, trust, and love. The Scriptures for the human race are writ in earth and Heaven. No organ or miserere touches the heart like the sonorous swell of the sea or the ocean-wave’s immeasurable laugh. Every year the old world puts on new bridal beauty, and celebrates its Whit-Sunday, when in the sweet Spring each bush and tree dons reverently its new glories. Autumn is a long All-Saints’ day; and the harvest is Hallowmass to Mankind. Before the human race marched down from the slopes of the Himalayas to take possession of Asia, Chaldea, and Egypt, men marked each annual crisis, the solstices and the equinoxes, and celebrated religious festivals therein; and even then, and ever since, the material was and has been the element of communion between man and God.
Nature is full of religious lessons to a thoughtful man. He dissolves the matter of the Universe, leaving only its forces; he dissolves away the phenomena of human history, leaving only immortal spirit; he studies the law, the mode of action of these forces and this spirit, which make up the material and the human world, and cannot fail to be filled with reverence, with trust, with boundless love of the Infinite God, who devised these laws of matter and of mind, and thereby bears up this marvellous Universe of things and men. Science has its New Testament; and the beatitudes of Philosophy are profoundly touching. An undevout astronomer is mad. Familiarity with the grass and the trees teaches us deeper lessons of love and trust than we can glean from the writings of Fénélon and Augustine. The great Bible of God is ever open before mankind. The eternal flowers of Heaven seem to shed sweet influence on the perishable blossoms of the earth. The great sermon of Jesus was preached on a mountain, which preached to Him as He did to the people, and His figures of speech were first natural figures of fact.
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?
THE true Mason is a practical Philosopher, who, under religious emblems, in all ages adopted by wisdom, builds upon plans traced by nature and reason the moral edifice of knowledge. He ought to find, in the symmetrical relation of all the parts of this rational edifice, the principle and rule of all his duties, the source of all his pleasures. He improves his moral nature, becomes a better man, and finds in the reunion of virtuous men, assembled with pure views, the means of multiplying his acts of beneficence. Masonry and Philosophy, without being one and the same thing, have the same object, and propose to themselves the same end, the worship of the Grand Architect of the Universe, acquaintance and familiarity with the wonders of nature, and the happiness of humanity attained by the constant practice of all the virtues.
As Grand Master of all Symbolic Lodges, it is your especial duty to aid in restoring Masonry to its primitive purity. You have become an instructor. Masonry long wandered in error. Instead of improving, it degenerated from its primitive simplicity, and retrograded toward a system, distorted by stupidity and ignorance, which, unable to construct a beautiful machine, made a complicated one. Less than two hundred years ago, its organization was simple, and altogether moral, its emblems, allegories, and ceremonies easy to be understood, and their purpose and object readily to be seen. It was then confined to a very small number of Degrees. Its constitutions were like those of a Society of Essenes, written in the first century of our era. There could be seen the primitive Christianity, organized into Masonry, the school of Pythagoras without incongruities or absurdities; a Masonry simple and significant, in which it was not necessary to torture the mind to discover reasonable interpretations; a Masonry at once religious and philosophical, worthy of a good citizen and an enlightened philanthropist.
Innovators and inventors overturned that primitive simplicity.
[paragraph continues] Ignorance engaged in the work of making Degrees, and trifles and gewgaws and pretended mysteries, absurd or hideous, usurped the place of Masonic Truth. The picture of a horrid vengeance, the poniard and the bloody head, appeared in the peaceful Temple of Masonry, without sufficient explanation of their symbolic meaning: Oaths out of all proportion with their object, shocked the candidate, and then became ridiculous, and were wholly disregarded. Acolytes were exposed to tests, and compelled to perform acts, which, if real, would have been abominable; but being mere chimeras, were preposterous, and excited contempt and laughter only. Eight hundred Degrees of one kind and another were invented: Infidelity and even Jesuitry were taught under the mask of Masonry. The rituals even of the respectable Degrees, copied and mutilated by ignorant men, became nonsensical and trivial; and the words so corrupted that it has hitherto been found impossible to recover many of them at all. Candidates were made to degrade themselves, and to submit to insults not tolerable to a man of spirit and honor.
Hence it was that, practically, the largest portion of the Degrees claimed by the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, and before it by the Rite of Perfection, fell into disuse, were merely communicated, and their rituals became jejune and insignificant. These Rites resembled those old palaces and baronial castles, the different parts of which, built at different periods remote from one another, upon plans and according to tastes that greatly varied, formed a discordant and incongruous whole. Judaism and chivalry, superstition and philosophy, philanthropy and insane hatred and longing for vengeance, a pure morality and unjust and illegal revenge, were found strangely mated and standing hand in hand within the Temples of Peace and Concord; and the whole system was one grotesque commingling of incongruous things, of contrasts and contradictions, of shocking and fantastic extravagances, of parts repugnant to good taste, and fine conceptions overlaid and disfigured by absurdities engendered by ignorance, fanaticism, and a senseless mysticism.
An empty and sterile pomp, impossible indeed to be carried out, and to which no meaning whatever was attached, with far-fetched explanations that were either so many stupid platitudes or themselves needed an interpreter; lofty titles, arbitrarily assumed, and to which the inventors had not condescended to attach any explanation
Joan. — Advance our waving colors on the walls! — King Henry VI. Act IV.
“My life has been devoted to the study of man, his destiny and his happiness.” — J. R.
BUCHANAN, M.D., Outlines of Lectures on Anthropology. IT is nineteen centuries since, as we are told, the night of Heathenism and Paganism was first dispelled by the divine light of Christianity; and two-and-a-half centuries since the bright lamp of Modern Science began to shine on the darkness of the ignorance of the ages. Within these respective epochs, we are required to believe, the true moral and intellectual progress of the race has occurred. The ancient philosophers were well enough for their respective generations, but they were illiterate as compared with modern men of science. The ethics of Paganism perhaps met the wants of the uncultivated people of antiquity, but not until the advent of the luminous “Star of Bethlehem,” was the true road to moral perfection and the way to salvation made plain. Of old, brutishness was the rule, virtue and spirituality the exception. Now, the dullest may read the will of God in His revealed word; men have every incentive to be good, and are constantly becoming better.
This is the assumption; what are the facts? On the one hand an unspiritual, dogmatic, too often debauched clergy; a host of sects, and three warring great religions; discord instead of union, dogmas without proofs, sensation-loving preachers, and wealth and pleasure-seeking parishioners’ hypocrisy and bigotry, begotten by the tyrannical exigencies of respectability, the rule of the day, sincerity and real piety exceptional. On the other hand, scientific hypotheses built on sand; no accord upon a single question; rancorous quarrels and jealousy; a general drift into materialism. A death-grapple of Science with Theology for infallibility — “a conflict of ages.”
At Rome, the self-styled seat of Christianity, the putative successor to the chair of Peter is undermining social order with his invisible but omnipresent net-work of bigoted agents, and incites them to revolutionize Europe for his temporal as well as spiritual supremacy. We see him who calls himself the “Vicar of Christ,” fraternizing with the anti-Christian Moslem against another Christian nation, publicly invoking the blessing of God upon the arms of those who have for centuries withstood, with
fire and sword, the pretensions of his Christ to Godhood! At Berlin — one of the great seats of learning — professors of modern exact sciences, turning their backs on the boasted results of enlightenment of the post-Galileonian period, are quietly snuffing out the candle of the great Florentine; seeking, in short, to prove the heliocentric system, and even the earth’s rotation, but the dreams of deluded scientists, Newton a visionary, and all past and present astronomers but clever calculators of unverifiable problems.
Between these two conflicting Titans — Science and Theology — is a bewildered public, fast losing all belief in man’s personal immortality, in a deity of any kind, and rapidly descending to the level of a mere animal existence. Such is the picture of the hour, illumined by the bright noonday sun of this Christian and scientific era!
Would it be strict justice to condemn to critical lapidation the most humble and modest of authors for entirely rejecting the authority of both these combatants? Are we not bound rather to take as the true aphorism of this century, the declaration of Horace Greeley: “I accept unreservedly the views of no man, living or dead”? Such, at all events, will be our motto, and we mean that principle to be our constant guide throughout this work.
Among the many phenomenal outgrowths of our century, the strange creed of the so-called Spiritualists has arisen amid the tottering ruins of self-styled revealed religions and materialistic philosophies; and yet it alone offers a possible last refuge of compromise between the two. That this unexpected ghost of pre-Christian days finds poor welcome from our sober and positive century, is not surprising. Times have strangely changed; and it is but recently that a well-known Brooklyn preacher pointedly remarked in a sermon, that could Jesus come back and behave in the streets of New York, as he did in those of Jerusalem, he would find himself confined in the prison of the Tombs. What sort of welcome, then, could Spiritualism ever expect? True enough, the weird stranger seems neither attractive nor promising at first sight. Shapeless and uncouth, like an infant attended by seven nurses, it is coming out of its teens lame and mutilated. The name of its enemies is legion; its friends and protectors are a handful. But what of that? When was ever truth accepted a priori? Because the champions of Spiritualism have in their fanaticism magnified its qualities, and remained blind to its imperfections, that gives no excuse to doubt its reality. A forgery is impossible when we have no model to forge after. The fanaticism of Spiritualists is itself
And fills up all the mighty void of sense. . . . ” — POPE.
“But why should the operations of nature be changed? There may be a deeper
philosophy than we dream of — a philosophy that discovers the secrets of nature, but
does not alter, by penetrating them, its course.” — BULWER. IS it enough for man to know that he exists? Is it enough to be formed a human being to enable him to deserve the appellation of MAN? It is our decided impression and conviction, that to become a genuine spiritual entity, which that designation implies, man must first create himself anew, so to speak — i.e., thoroughly eliminate from his mind and spirit, not only the dominating influence of selfishness and other impurity, but also the infection of superstition and prejudice. The latter is far different from what we commonly term antipathy or sympathy. We are at first irresistibly or unwittingly drawn within its dark circle by that peculiar influence, that powerful current of magnetism which emanates from ideas as well as from physical bodies. By this we are surrounded, and finally prevented through moral cowardice — fear of public opinion — from stepping out of it. It is rare that men regard a thing in either its true or false light, accepting the conclusion by the free action of their own judgment. Quite the reverse. The conclusion is more commonly reached by blindly adopting the opinion current at the hour among those with whom they associate. A church member will not pay an absurdly high price for his pew any more than a materialist will go twice to listen to Mr. Huxley’s talk on evolution, because they think that it is right to do so; but merely because Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so have done it, and these personages are THE S—- AND S—-‘s.
The same holds good with everything else. If psychology had had its Darwin, the descent of man as regards moral qualities might have been found inseparably linked with that of his physical form. Society in its servile condition suggests to the intelligent observer of its mimicry a kinship between the Simia and human beings even more striking than is exhibited in the external marks pointed out by the great anthropologist.
The many varieties of the ape — “mocking presentments of ourselves” — appear to have been evolved on purpose to supply a certain class of expensively-dressed persons with the material for genealogical trees. Science is daily and rapidly moving toward the great discoveries in chemistry and physics, organology, and anthropology. Learned men ought to be free from preconceptions and prejudices of every kind; yet, although thought and opinion are now free, scientists are still the same men as of old. An Utopian dreamer is he who thinks that man ever changes with the evolution and development of new ideas. The soil may be well fertilized and made to yield with every year a greater and better variety of fruit; but, dig a little deeper than the stratum required for the crop, and the same earth will be found in the subsoil as was there before the first furrow was turned.
Not many years ago, the person who questioned the infallibility of some theological dogma was branded at once an iconoclast and an infidel. Vae victis! . . . Science has conquered. But in its turn the victor claims the same infallibility, though it equally fails to prove its right. “Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis,” the saying of the good old Lotharius, applies to the case. Nevertheless, we feel as if we had some right to question the high-priests of science.
For many years we have watched the development and growth of that apple of discord — MODERN SPIRITUALISM. Familiar with its literature both in Europe and America, we have closely and eagerly witnessed its interminable controversies and compared its contradictory hypotheses. Many educated men and women — heterodox spiritualists, of course — have tried to fathom the Protean phenomena.
The only result was that they came to the following conclusion: whatever may be the reason of these constant failures — whether such are to be laid at the door of the investigators themselves, or of the secret Force at work — it is at least proved that, in proportion as the psychological manifestations increase in frequency and variety, the darkness surrounding their origin becomes more impenetrable.
“The mirror of the soul cannot reflect both earth and heaven; and the one vanishes from
its surface, as the other is glassed upon its deep.” ZANONI.
“Qui, donc, t’a donne la mission d’annoncer au peuple que la Divinite n’existe pas — quel
avantage trouves tu a persuader a l’homme qu’une force aveugle preside a ses destinees
et frappe au hasard le crime et la vertu?”
ROBESPIERRE (Discours), May 7, 1794. WE believe that few of those physical phenomena which are genuine are caused by disembodied human spirits. Still, even those that are produced by occult forces of nature, such as happen through a few genuine mediums, and are consciously employed by the so-called “jugglers” of India and Egypt, deserve a careful and serious investigation by science; especially now that a number of respected authorities have testified that in many cases the hypothesis of fraud does not hold. No doubt, there are professed “conjurors” who can perform cleverer tricks than all the American and English “John Kings” together. Robert Houdin unquestionably could, but this did not prevent his laughing outright in the face of the academicians, when they desired him to assert in the newspapers, that he could make a table move, or rap answers to questions, without contact of hands, unless the table was a prepared one. The fact alone, that a now notorious London juggler refused to accept a challenge for £1,000 offered him by Mr. Algernon Joy, to produce such manifestations as are usually obtained through mediums, unless he was left unbound and free from the hands of a committee, negatives his expose of the occult phenomena. Clever as he may be, we defy and challenge him to reproduce, under the same conditions, the “tricks” exhibited even by a common Indian juggler. For instance, the spot to be chosen by the investigators at the moment of the performance, and the juggler to know nothing of the choice; the experiment to be made in broad daylight, without the least preparations for it; without any confederate but a boy absolutely naked, and the juggler to be in a condition of semi-nudity. After that, we should select out of a variety three tricks, the most common among such public jugglers, and that were recently exhibited to some gentlemen belonging to
the suite of the Prince of Wales: 1. To transform a rupee — firmly clasped in the hand of a skeptic — into a living cobra, the bite of which would prove fatal, as an examination of its fangs would show. 2. To cause a seed chosen at random by the spectators, and planted in the first semblance of a flower-pot, furnished by the same skeptics, to grow, mature, and bear fruit in less than a quarter of an hour. 3. To stretch himself on three swords, stuck perpendicularly in the ground at their hilts, the sharp points upward; after that, to have removed first one of the swords, then the other, and, after an interval of a few seconds, the last one, the juggler remaining, finally, lying on nothing — on the air, miraculously suspended at about one yard from the ground. When any prestidigitateur, to begin with Houdin and end with the last trickster who has secured gratuitous advertisement by attacking spiritualism, does the same, then — but only then — we will train ourselves to believe that mankind has been evolved out of the hind-toe of Mr. Huxley’s Eocene Orohippus.
We assert again, in full confidence, that there does not exist a professional wizard, either of the North, South or West, who can compete with anything approaching success, with these untutored, naked sons of the East. These require no Egyptian Hall for their performances, nor any preparations or rehearsals; but are ever ready, at a moment’s notice, to evoke to their help the hidden powers of nature, which, for European prestidigitateurs as well as for scientists, are a closed book. Verily, as Elihu puts it, “great men are not always wise; neither do the aged understand judgment.” To repeat the remark of the English divine, Dr. Henry More, we may well say: “. . . indeed, if there were any modesty left in mankind, the histories of the Bible might abundantly assure men of the existence of angels and spirits.”
[[Tes de gar ek triados pan pneuma pater ekerase.]] — TAY.: Lyd. de Mens., 20.
“The more powerful souls perceive truth through themselves, and are of a more
inventive nature. Such souls are saved through their own strength, according to the
oracle.” — PROCLUS in I Alc.
“Since the soul perpetually runs and passes through all things in a certain space of time,
which being performed, it is presently compelled to run back again through all things,
and unfold the same web of generation in the world . . . for as often as the same causes
return, the same effects will in like manner be returned.” — FICIN. de Im. An., 129,
“If not to some peculiar end assign’d,
Study’s the specious trifling of the mind.” — YOUNG.
FROM the moment when the foetal embryo is formed until the old man, gasping his last, drops into the grave, neither the beginning nor the end is understood by scholastic science; all before us is a blank, all after us chaos. For it there is no evidence as to the relations between spirit, soul, and body, either before or after death. The mere life-principle itself presents an unsolvable enigma, upon the study of which materialism has vainly exhausted its intellectual powers. In the presence of a corpse the skeptical physiologist stands dumb when asked by his pupil whence came the former tenant of that empty box, and whither it has gone. The pupil must either, like his master, rest satisfied with the explanation that protoplasm made the man, and force vitalized and will now consume his body, or he must go outside the walls of his college and the books of its library to find an explanation of the mystery.
It is sometimes as interesting as instructive to follow the two great rivals, science and theology, in their frequent skirmishes. Not all of the sons of the Church are as unsuccessful in their attempts at advocacy as the poor Abbe Moigno, of Paris. This respectable, and no doubt well-meaning divine, in his fruitless attempt to refute the free-thinking arguments of Huxley, Tyndall, Du Bois-Raymond, and many others, has met with a sad failure. In his antidotal arguments his success was more than doubtful, and, as a reward for his trouble, the “Congregation of the Index” forbids the circulation of his book among the faithful.
It is a dangerous experiment to engage in a single-handed duel with scientists on topics which are well demonstrated by experimental research. In what they do know they are unassailable, and until the old formula is destroyed by their own hands and replaced by a more newly-discovered one, there is no use fighting against Achilles — unless, indeed, one is for-
tunate enough to catch the swift-footed god by his vulnerable heel. This heel is — what they confess they do not know!
That was a cunning device to which a certain well-known preacher resorted to reach this mortal part. Before we proceed to narrate the extraordinary though well authenticated facts with which we intend to fill this chapter, it will be good policy to show once more how fallible is modern science as to every fact in nature which can be tested neither by retort nor crucible. The following are a few fragments from a series of sermons by F. Felix, of Notre Dame, entitled Mystery and Science. They are worthy to be translated for and quoted in a work which is undertaken in precisely the same spirit as that exhibited by the preacher. For once the Church silenced for a time the arrogance of her traditional enemy, in the face of the learned academicians.
It was known that the great preacher, in response to the general desire of the faithful, and perhaps to the orders of ecclesiastical superiors, had been preparing himself for a great oratorical effort, and the historic cathedral was filled with a monster congregation. Amid a profound silence he began his discourse, of which the following paragraphs are sufficient for our purpose:
NOTE A, page 12.–In some Lodges the Tyler takes the sword from the altar.
NOTE B, page 18.–Some Masters repeat the words, “O Lord my God,” three times.
NOTE C, page 19–Masters differ about the proper manner of placing the three lights around the altar. In most Lodges they are placed as represented in the engraving, page 19; but many Masters have them placed thus:
[paragraph continues] The square represents the altar; the figures 1, 2, and 3, the lights; the letter A, the kneeling candidate, and the letter B, the Master.
NOTE D, page 21.–Some Masters say: “I now declare this Lodge opened in the Third Degree of Masonry for the dispatch of business.”
NOTE E, page 39.–In spelling this word, “Boaz,” always begin with the letter “A,” and follow the alphabet down as the letters occur in the word.
NOTE F, page 42.–In some Lodges the reply is: “Try me, and disapprove of me if you can;” in others, “I am willing to be tried.”
NOTE G, page 43.–Some say, “In an anteroom adjacent to a Lodge of Entered Apprentice Masons.”
NOTE H, page 44.–Some say, “Three times around the Lodge.”
NOTE I, page 51.–Some say, “On the highest hills and lowest valleys.”
NOTE J, p. 89.–In some Lodges, the Deacon omits the single rap (•), and opens the door when the three raps (• • •) are given.
NOTE K, page 205.–In most Lodges the candidate does not halt at the Junior Warden’s station, but passes on to the Senior Warden.
NOTE L, page 125.–Master says: “I shall now proceed to give and explain to you the several signs and tokens belonging to the Degree.” Here the Master places his hands as the candidate’s
were when he took the oath of a Master (see Fig. 5, page 17), and explains. Makes sign of a Master Mason, and explains. (See Fig. 6, page 18.) Makes the grand hailing sign, and explains. (See Fig. 7, page 18.) Gives grip of a Master Mason, and explains. (See Fig. 16, page 97.) Gives strong grip, and explains. (See Fig. 17, page 120.)
NOTE M, page 235.–The Principal Sojourner should say: “We are of your own brethren and kin–children of the captivity–descendants of those noble Giblemites, we were received and acknowledged Most Excellent Masters at the completion and dedication of the first temple–were present at the destruction of that temple by Nebuchadnezzar, by whom we were carried captives to Babylon, where we remained servants to him and his successors until the reign of Cyrus, King of Persia, by whose order we have been liberated, and have now come up to help, aid, and assist in rebuilding the house of the Lord, without the hope of fee or reward.” (See lecture.)
NOTE N, page 236.–Instead of saying: “You surely could not have come thus far unless you were three Most Excellent Masters,” etc., the Master of the First Veil should say: “Good men and true you must have been, to have come thus far to promote so noble and good an undertaking, but further you cannot go without my word, sign, and word of explanation” (See lecture.)
NOTE O, page 235.–In some Chapters they only stamp seven times.
NOTE P, page 140.–In some parts of the country the second section of the lecture is continued as follows:
Q. What followed?
A. They travelled as before; and as those, who had pursued a due westerly course from the temple, were returning, one (1) of them, being more weary than the rest, sat down on the brow of a hill to rest and refresh himself, and on rising up caught hold of a sprig of acacia, which easily giving way excited his curiosity; and while they were meditating over this singular circumstance they heard three frightful exclamations from the cleft of an adjacent rock. The first was the voice of Jubelo, exclaiming, “Oh! that my throat had been cut from ear to ear, my tongue torn out by its roots and buried in the sands of the sea at low water mark, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours, ere I had been accessory to the death of so great and good a man as our Grand Master Hiram Abiff.” The second was the voice of Jubela, exclaiming: “Oh! that my left breast had been torn open, my heart. plucked from thence and given to the beasts of the field and the birds of the air as a prey, ere I