M&D-C28b – Knight Of The Sun

Albert Pike – Morals and Dogma

Page 642


There is no pretence to infallibility in Masonry. It is not for us to dictate to any man what he shall believe. We have hitherto, in the instruction of the several Degrees, confined ourselves to laying before you the great thoughts that have found expression in the different ages of the world, leaving you to decide for yourself as to the orthodoxy or heterodoxy of each, and what proportion of truth, if any, each contained. We shall pursue no other course in this closing Philosophical instruction; in which we propose to deal with the highest questions that have ever exercised the human mind, with the existence and the nature of a God, with the existence and the nature of the human soul, and with the relations of the divine and human spirit with the merely material Universe. There can be no questions more important to an intelligent being, none that have for him a more direct and personal interest; and to this last word of Scottish Masonry we invite your serious and attentive consideration. And, as what we shall now say will be but the completion and rounding-off of what we have already said in several of the preceding Degrees, in regard to the Old Thought and the Ancient Philosophies, we hope that you have noted and not forgotten our previous lessons, without which this would seem imperfect and fragmentary.

Page 643

In its idea of rewarding a faithful and intelligent workman by conferring upon him a knowledge of the True Word, Masonry has perpetuated a very great truth, because it involves the proposition that the idea which a man forms of God is always the most important element in his speculative theory of the Universe, and in his particular practical plan of action for the Church, the State, the Community, the Family, and his own individual life. It will ever make a vast difference in the conduct of a people in war or peace, whether they believe the Supreme God to be a cruel Deity, delighting in sacrifice and blood, or a God of Love; and an individual's speculative theory as to the mode and extent of God's government, and as to the nature and reality of his own free-will and consequent responsibility, will needs have great influence in shaping the course of his life and conversation.

We see every day the vast influence of the popular idea of God. All the great historical civilizations of the race have grown out of the national ideas which were formed of God; or have been intimately connected with those ideas. The popular Theology, which at first is only an abstract idea in the heads of philosophers, by and by shows itself in the laws, and in the punishments for crime, in the churches, the ceremonies and the sacraments, the festivals and the fasts, the weddings, the baptisms and the funerals, in the hospitals, the colleges, the schools, and all the social charities, in the relations of husband and wife, parent and child, in the daily work and the daily prayer of every man.

As the world grows in its development, it necessarily outgrows its ancient ideas of God, which were only temporary and pro-visional. A man who has a higher conception of God than those about him, and who denies that their conception is God, is very likely to be called an Atheist by men who are really far less believers in a God than he. Thus the Christians, who said the Heathen idols were no Gods, were accounted Atheists by the People, and accordingly put to death; and Jesus of Nazareth was crucified as an unbelieving blasphemer, by the Jews.

Page 644

There is a mere formal Atheism, which is a denial of God in terms, but not in reality. A man says, There is no God; that is, no God that is self-originated, or that never originated, but always WAS and HAD BEEN, who is the cause of existence, who is the Mind and the Providence of the Universe; and so the order, beauty, and harmony of the world of matter and mind do not indicate any plan or purpose of Deity. But, he says, NATURE, – meaning by that the whole sum-total of existence, – that is powerful, active, wise, and good; Nature is self-originated, or always was and had been, the cause of its own existence, the mind of the Universe and the Providence of itself. There is obviously a plan and purpose whereby order, beauty, and harmony are brought about; but all that is the plan and purpose of nature.

In such cases, the absolute denial of God is only formal and not real. The qualities of God are admitted, and affirmed to be real; and it is a mere change of name to call the possessor of those qualities, Nature, and not God. The real question is, whether such Qualities exist, as we call God; and not, by what particular name we shall designate the Qualities. One man may call the sum total of these Qualities, Nature; another, Heaven; a third, Universe, a fourth, Matter; a fifth, Spirit; a sixth, God, Theos, Zeus, Alfadir, Allah, or what he pleases. All admit the existence of the Being, Power, or ENS, thus diversely named. The name is of the smallest consequence.

Real Atheism is the denial of the existence of any God, of the actuality of all possible ideas of God. It denies that there is any Mind, Intelligence, or ENS, that is the Cause and Providence of the Universe, and of any Thing or any Existence, Soul, Spirit, or Being, that intentionally or intelligently produces the Order, Beauty, and Harmony thereof, and the constant and regular modes of operation therein. It must necessarily deny that there is any law, order, or harmony in existence, or any constant mode of operation in the world; for it is utterly impossible for any human creature to conceive, however much he may pretend to do so, of either of these, except as a consequence of the action of Intelligence; which is, indeed, that otherwise unknown thing, the existence of which these alone prove; otherwise than as the cause of these, not a thing at all; a mere name for the wholly uncognizable cause of these.

Page 645

The real atheist must deny the existence of the Qualities of God, deny that there is any mind of or in the Universe, any self-conscious Providence, any Providence at all. He must deny that there is any Being or Cause of Finite things, that is self-consciously powerful, wise, just, loving, and faithful to itself and its own nature. He must deny that there is any plan in the Universe or any part of it. He must hold, either that matter is eternal, or that it originated itself, which is absurd, or that it was originated by an Intelligence, or at least by a Cause; and then he admits a God,

No doubt it is beyond the reach of our faculties to imagine how matter originated, – how it began to be, in space where before was nothing, or God only. But it is equally beyond the reach of our faculties to imagine it eternal and unoriginated. To hold it to be eternal, without thought or will; that the specific forms of it, the seed, the rock, the tree, the man, the solar system, all came with no forethought planning or producing them, by "chance" or "the fortuitous concourse of atoms" of matter that has no thought or will; and that they indicate no mind, no plan, no purpose, no providence, is absurd. It is not to deny the existence of what we understand by mind, plan, purpose, Providence; but to insist that these words shall have some other meaning than that which the human race has ever attached to them: shall mean some unknown thing, for which the human race has no name, because it has of such a thing no possible idea. Either there never was any such thing as a "plan," and the word is nonsense, or the Universe exists in conformity to a plan. The word never meant, and never can mean, any other thing than that which the Universe exhibits. So with the word "purpose;" so with the word "Providence." They mean nothing, or else only what the Universe proves.

It was soon found that the denial of a Conscious Power, the cause of man and of his life, of a Providence, or a Mind and Intelligence arranging man in reference to the world, and the world in reference to man, would not satisfy the instinctive desires of human nature, or account for the facts of material nature. It did not long answer to say, if it ever was said, that the Universe was drifting in the void inane, and neither it, nor any mind within or without it, knew of its whence, its whither, or its whereabouts; that man was drifting in the Universe, knowing little of his whereabouts, nothing of his whence or whither; that there was no Mind, no Providence, no Power, that knew any better; nothing hat guided and directed man in his drifting, or the Universe in the weltering waste of Time. To say to man and woman, "your heroism, your bravery, your self-denial all comes to nothing: your nobleness will do you no good: you will die, and your nobleness will do mankind no service; for there is no plan or order in all these things; everything comes and goes by the fortuitous con-course of atoms;" did not, nor ever will, long satisfy the human mind.

Page 646

True, the theory of Atheism has been uttered. It has been said, "Death is the end: this is a world without a God: you are a body without a soul: there is a Here, but no Hereafter for you; an Earth, but no Heaven. Die, and return to your dust. Man is bones, blood, bowels, and brain; mind is matter: there is no soul in the brain, nothing but nerves. We can see all the way to a little star in the nebula of Orion's belt; so distant that it will take light a thousand millions of years to come from it to the earth, journeying at the rate of twelve millions of miles a minute. There is no Heaven this side of that: you see all the way through: there is not a speck of Heaven; and do you think there is any beyond it; and if so, when would you reach it? There is no Providence. Nature is a fortuitous concourse of atoms; thought is a fortuitous function of matter, a fortuitous result of a fortuitous result, a chance-shot from the great wind-gun of the Universe, accidentally loaded, pointed at random, and fired off by chance. Things happen; they are not arranged. There is luck, and there is ill-luck; but there is no Providence. Die you into dust!" Does all this satisfy the human instinct of immortality, that makes us ever long, with unutterable longing, to join ourselves again to our dear ones who have gone away before us, and to mankind, for eternal life? Does it satisfy our mighty hungering and thirst for immortality, our anxious longing to come nearer to, and to know more of, the Eternal Cause of all things?

Men never could be content to believe that there was no mind that thought for man, no conscience to enact eternal laws, no heart to love those whom nothing of earth loves or cares for, no will of the Universe to marshal the nations in the way of wisdom, justice, and love. History is not – thank God! we know it is not, – the fortuitous concourse of events, or Nature that of atoms. We cannot believe that there is no plan nor purpose in Nature, to guide our going out and coming in: that there is a mighty going, but it goes nowhere; that all beauty, wisdom, affection, justice, morality in the world, is an accident, and may end to-morrow.

All over the world there is heroism unrequited, or paid with misery; vice on thrones, corruption in high places, nobleness in poverty or even in chains, the gentle devotion of woman rewarded by brutal neglect or more brutal abuse and violence; everywhere want, misery, over-work, and under-wages. Add to these the Atheist's creed, – a body without a soul, an earth without a Heaven, a world without a God; and what a Pandemonium would we make of this world!

Page 647

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.

Page 648

To man, surrounded by the material Universe, and conscious of the influence that his material environments exercised upon his fortunes and his present destiny; – to man, ever confronted with the splendors of the starry heavens, the regular march of the seasons, the phenomena of sunrise and moonrise, and all the evidences of intelligence and design that everywhere pressed upon and overwhelmed him, all imaginable questions as to the nature and cause of these phenomena constantly recurred, demanding to be solved, and refusing to be sent away unanswered. And still, after the lapse of ages, press upon the human mind and demand solution, the same great questions – perhaps still demanding it in vain.

Advancing to the period when man had ceased to look upon the separate parts and individual forces of the Universe as gods, – when he had come to look upon it as a whole, this question, among the earliest, occurred to him, and insisted on being answered: "Is this material Universe self-existent, or was it created? Is it eternal, or did it originate?"

And then in succession came crowding on the human mind these other questions:

"Is this material Universe a mere aggregate of fortuitous combinations of matter, or is it the result and work of intelligence, acting upon a plan?

"If there be such an Intelligence, what and where is it? Is the material Universe itself an Intelligent being? Is it like man, a body and a soul? Does Nature act upon itself, or is there a Cause beyond it that acts upon it?

"If there is a personal God, separate from the material Universe, that created all things, Himself uncreated, is He corporeal or incorporeal, material or spiritual, the soul of the Universe or wholly apart from it? and if He be Spirit, what then is spirit?

"Was that Supreme Deity active or quiescent before the creation; and if quiescent during a previous eternity, what necessity of His nature moved Him at last to create a world; or was it a mere whim that had no motive?

"Was matter co-existent with Him, or absolutely created by him out of nothing? Did He create it, or only mould and shape and fashion a chaos already existing, co-existent with Himself?

"Did the Deity directly create matter, or was creation the work of inferior deities, emanations from Himself?

"If He be good and just, whence comes it that, foreknowing everything, He has allowed sorrow and evil to exist; and how to reconcile with His benevolence and wisdom the prosperity of vice and the misfortunes of virtue in this world?"

Page 649

And then, as to man himself, recurred these other questions, as they continue to recur to all of us:

"What is it in us that thinks? Is Thought the mere result of material organization; or is there in us a soul that thinks, separate from and resident in the body? If the latter, is it eternal and uncreated; and if not, how created? Is it distinct from God, or an emanation from Him? Is it inherently immortal, or only so by destination, because God has willed it? Is it to return to and be merged in Him, or ever to exist, separately from Him, with its present identity?

"If God has fore-seen and fore-arranged all that occurs, how has man any real free-will, or the least control over circumstances? How can anything be done againstthe will of Infinite Omnipotence; and if all is done according to that will, how is there any wrong or evil, in what Infinite Wisdom and Infinite Power does not choose to prevent?

"What is the foundation of the moral law? Did God enact it of His own mere pleasure; and if so, can He not, when He pleases, repeal it? Who shalt assure us He will not repeal it, and make right wrong, and virtue vice? Or is the moral law a necessity of His nature; and if so, who enacted it; and does not that assert a power, like the old Necessity, superior to Deity?"

And, close-following after these, came the great question of HEREAFTER, of another Life, of the soul's Destiny; and the thousand other collateral and subordinate questions, as to matter, spirit, futurity, and God, that have produced all the systems of philosophy, all metaphysics, and all theology, since the world began.

What the old philosophic mind thought upon these great questions, we have already, to some extent, developed. With the Emanation-doctrine of the Gnostics and the Orient, we have endeavored to make you familiar. We have brought you face to face with the Kabalists, the Essenes, and Philo the Jew. We have shown that, and how, much of the old mythology was derived from the daily and yearly recurring phenomena of the heavens. We have exhibited to you the ancient notions by which they endeavored to explain to themselves the existence and prevalence of evil; and we have in some degree made known to you their metaphysical ideas as to the nature of the Deity. Much more remains to be done than it is within our power to do. We stand upon the sounding shore of the great ocean of Time. In front of us stretches out the heaving waste of the illimitable Past; and its waves, as they roll up to our feet along the sparkling slope of the yellow sands, bring to us, now and then, from the depths of that boundless ocean, a shell, a few specimens of algæ torn rudely from their stems, a rounded pebble; and that is all; of all the vast treasures of ancient thought that lie buried there, with the mighty anthem of the boundless ocean thundering over them forever and forever.

Page 650

Let us once more, and for the last time, along the shore of that great ocean, gather a few more relics of the Past, and listen to its mighty voices, as they come, in fragmentary music, in broken and interrupted rhythm, whispering to us from the great bosom of the Past.

Rites, creeds, and legends express, directly or symbolically, some leading idea, according to which the Mysteries of Being are supposed to be explained in Deity. The intricacies of mythical genealogies are a practical acknowledgment of the mysterious nature of the Omnipotent Deity; displaying in their beautiful but ineffectual imagery the first efforts of the mind to communicate with nature: the flowers which fancy strewed before the youthful steps of Psyche, when she first set out in pursuit of the immortal object of her love. Theories and notions, in all their varieties of truth and falsehood, are a machinery more or less efficacious, directed to the same end. Every religion was, in its origin, an embryo philosophy, or an attempt to interpret the unknown by mind; and it was only when philosophy, which is essentially progress, outgrew its first acquisitions, that religion became a thing apart, cherishing as unalterable dogmas the notions which philosophy had abandoned. Separated from philosophy, it became arrogant and fantastical, professing to have already attained what its more authentic representative was ever pursuing in vain; and discovering, through its initiations and Mysteries, all that to its contracted view seemed wanting to restore the well-being of mankind, the means of purification and expiation, remedies for disease, expedients to cure the disorders of the soul, and to propitiate the gods.

Page 651

Why should we attempt to confine the idea of the Supreme Mind within an arbitrary barrier, or exclude from the limits of veracity any conception of the Deity, which, if imperfect and inadequate, may be only a little more so than our own? "The name of God," says Hobbes, "is used not to make us conceive Him, for He is inconceivable, but that we may honor Him." "Believe in God, and adore Him," said the Greek Poet, "but investigate Him not; the inquiry is fruitless, seek not to discover who God is; for, by the desire to know, you offend Him who chooses to remain unknown." "When we attempt," says Philo, "to investigate the essence of the Absolute Being, we fall into an abyss of perplexity; and the only benefit to be derived from such researches is the conviction of their absurdity."

Yet man, though ignorant of the constitution of the dust on which he treads, has ventured, and still ventures, to speculate on the nature of God, and to define dogmatically in creeds the subject least within the compass of his faculties; and even to hate and persecute those who will not accept his views as true.

But though a knowledge of the Divine Essence is impossible, the conceptions formed respecting it are interesting, as indications of intellectual development. The history of religion is the history of the human mind; and the conception formed by it of Deity is always in exact relation to its moral and intellectual attainments. The one is the index and the measure of the other.

The negative notion of God, which consists in abstracting the inferior and finite, is, according to Philo, the only way in which it is possible for man worthily to apprehend the nature of God. After exhausting the varieties of symbolism, we contrast the Divine Greatness with human littleness, and employ expressions apparently affirmative, such as "Infinite," "Almighty," "All-wise," "Omnipotent," "Eternal," and the like; which in reality amount only to denying, in regard to God, those limits which con-fine the faculties of man; and thus we remain content with a name which is a mere conventional sign and confession of our ignorance.

The Hebrew יהוה and the Greek To ON expressed abstract existence, without outward manifestation or development. Of the same nature are the definitions, "God is a sphere whose centre is everywhere, and whose circumference nowhere;" "God is He who sees all, Himself unseen:" and finally, that of Proclus and Hegel – "the Το μη ον – that which has no outward and positive existence." Most of the so-called ideas or definitions of the "Absolute" are only a collection of negations; from which, as they affirm nothing, nothing is learned.

Page 652

God was first recognized in the heavenly bodies and in the elements. When man's consciousness of his own intellectuality was matured, and he became convinced that the internal faculty of thought was something more subtle than even the most subtle elements, he transferred that new conception to the object of his worship, and deified a mental principle instead of a physical one. He in every case makes God after his own image; for do what we will, the highest efforts of human thought can conceive nothing higher than the supremacy of intellect; and so he ever conies back to some familiar type of exalted humanity. He at first deifies nature, and afterward himself.

The eternal aspiration of the religious sentiment in man is to become united with God. In his earliest development, the wish and its fulfillment were simultaneous, through unquestioning belief. In proportion as the conception of Deity was exalted, the notion of His terrestrial presence or proximity was abandoned; and the difficulty of comprehending the Divine Government, together with the glaring superstitious evils arising out of its misinterpretation, endangered the belief in it altogether.

Even the lights of Heaven, which, as "bright potentates of the sky," were formerly the vigilant directors of the economy of earth, now shine dim and distant, and Uriel no more descends upon a sunbeam. But the real change has been in the progressive ascent of man's own faculties, and not in the Divine Nature; as the Stars are no more distant now than when they were supposed to rest on the shoulders of Atlas. And yet a little sense of disappointment and humiliation attended the first awakening of the soul, when reason, looking upward toward the Deity, was impressed with a dizzy sense of having fallen.

But hope revives in despondency; and every nation that ever advanced beyond the most elementary conceptions, felt the necessity of an attempt to fill the chasm, real or imaginary, separating man from God. To do this was the great task of poetry, philosophy, and religion. Hence the personifications of God's attributes, developments, and manifestations, as "Powers," "Intelligences," "Angels," "Emanations;" through which and the oracular faculty in himself, man could place himself in communion with God.

Page 653

The various ranks and orders of mythical beings imagined by Persians, Indians, Egyptians, or Etrurians, to preside over the various departments of nature, had each his share in a scheme to bring man into closer approximation to the Deity; they eventually gave way only before an analogous though less picturesque symbolism; and the Deities and Dæmons of Greece and Rome were perpetuated with only a change of names, when their offices were transferred to Saints and Martyrs. The attempts by which reason had sometimes endeavored to span the unknown by a bridge of metaphysics, such as the idealistic systems of Zoroaster, Pythagoras, or Plato, were only a more refined form of the poetical illusions which satisfied the vulgar; and man still looked back with longing to the lost golden age, when his ancestors communed face to face with the Gods; and hoped that, by propitiating Heaven, he might accelerate the renewal of it in the islands of the Far West, under the sceptre of Kronos, or in a centralization of political power at Jerusalem. His eager hope overcame even the terrors of the grave; for the Divine power was as infinite as human expectation, and the Egyptian, duly ensepulchred in the Lybian Catacombs, was supposed to be already on his way to the Fortunate Abodes under the guidance of Hermes, there to obtain a perfect association and reunion with his God.

Remembering what we have already said elsewhere in regard to the old ideas concerning the Deity, and repeating it as little as possible, let us once more put ourselves in communion with the Ancient poetic and philosophic mind, and endeavor to learn of it what it thought, and how it solved the great problems that have ever tortured the human intellect.

The division of the First and Supreme Cause into two parts, one Active and the other Passive, the Universe Agent and Patient, or the hermaphroditic God-World, is one of the most ancient and widespread dogmas of philosophy or natural theology. Almost every ancient people gave it a place in their worship, their mysteries, and their ceremonies.

Ocellus Lucanus, who seems to have lived shortly after Pythagoras opened his School in Italy, five or six hundred years before our era, and in the time of Solon, Thales, and the other Sages who had studied in the Schools of Egypt, not only recognizes the eternity of the Universe, and its divine character as an unproduced and indestructible being, but also the distinction of Active and Passive causes in what he terms the Grand Whole, or the single hermaphroditic Being that comprehends all existences, as well causes as effects; and which is a system regularly ordered, perfect and complete, of all Natures. He well apprehended the dividing-line that separates existence eternally the same, from that which eternally changes; the nature of celestial from that of terrestrial bodies, that of causes from that of effects, that which is from that which only BECOMES, – a distinction that naturally struck every thinking man.

Page 654

We shall not quote his language at full length. The heavenly bodies, he thought, are first and most noble; they move of themselves, and ever revolve, without change of form or essence. Fire, water, earth, and air change incessantly and continually, not place, but form. Then, as in the Universe there are generation and cause of generation, – as generation is where there are change and displacement of parts, and cause where there is stability of nature, evidently it belongs to what is the cause of generation, to move and to act, and to the recipient, to be made and moved. In his view, everything above the Moon was the habitation of the gods; all below, that of Nature and discord; this operates dissolution of things made; that, production of those that are being made. As the world is unproduced and indestructible, as it had no beginning, and will have no end, necessarily the principle that operates generation in another than itself, and that which operates it in itself, have co-existed.

The former is all above the moon, and especially the sun: the latter is the sublunary world. Of these two parts, one active, the other passive – one divine and always the same, the other mortal and ever changing, all that we call the "world" or "universe" is composed.

These accorded with the principles of the Egyptian philosophy, which held that man and the animals had always existed together with the world; that they were its effects, eternal like itself. The chief divisions of nature into active and passive causes, its system of generation and destruction, and the concurrence of the two great principles, Heaven and earth, uniting to form all things, will, according to Ocellus, always continue to exist. "Enough," he concludes, "as to the Universe, the generations and destructions effected in it, the mode in which it now exists, the mode in which it will ever exist, by the eternal qualities of the two principles, one always moving, the other always moved; one always governing, the other always governed."

Page 655

Such is a brief summary of the doctrine of this philosopher, whose work is one of the most ancient that has survived to us. The subject on which he treated occupied in his time all men's minds: the poets sang of cosmogonies and theogonies, and the philosophers wrote treatises on the birth of the world and the elements of its composition. The cosmogony of the Hebrews; attributed to Moses; that of the Phœnicians, ascribed to Sanchoniathon; that of the Greeks, composed by Hesiod; that of the Egyptians, the Atlantes, and the Cretans, preserved by Diodorus Siculus; the fragments of the theology of Orpheus, divided among different writers; the books of the Persians, or their Boundehesh; those of the Hindūs; the traditions of the Chinese and the people of Macassar; the cosmogonic chants which Virgil puts in the mouth of Iopas at Carthage; and those of the old Silenus, the first book of the Metamorphoses of Ovid; all testify to the antiquity and universality of these fictions as to the origin of the world and its causes.

At the head of the causes of nature, Heaven and earth were placed; and the most apparent parts of each, the sun, the moon, the fixed stars and planets, and, above all, the zodiac, among the active causes of generation; and among the passive, the several elements. These causes were not only classed in the progressive order of their energy, Heaven and earth heading the respective lists, but distinct sexes were in some sort assigned to them, and characteristics analogous to the mode in which they concur in universal generation.

The doctrine of Ocellus was the general doctrine everywhere, it naturally occurring to all to make the same distinction. The Egyptians did so, in selecting those animals in which they recognized these emblematic qualities, in order to symbolize the double sex of the Universe. Their God KNEPH, out of whose mouth issued the Orphic egg, whence the author of the Clementine Recognitions makes a hermaphroditic figure to emerge, uniting in itself the two principles whereof Heaven and the earth are forms, and which enter into the organization of all beings which the heavens and the earth engender by their concourse, furnishes another emblem of the double power, active and passive, which the ancients saw in the Universe, and which they symbolized by the egg. Orpheus, who studied in Egypt, borrowed from the theologians of that country the mysterious forms under which the science of nature was veiled, and carried into Greece the symbolic egg, with its division into two parts or causes figured by the hermaphroditic being that issued from it, and whereof Heaven and earth are composed.

Page 656

The Brahmins of India expressed the same cosmogonic idea by a statue, representative of the Universe, uniting in itself both sexes. The male sex offered an image of the sun, centre of the active principle, and the female sex that of the moon, at the sphere whereof, proceeding downward, the passive portion of nature begins. The Lingam, unto the present day revered in the Indian temples, being but the conjunction of the organs of generation of the two sexes, was an emblem of the same. The Hindūs have ever had the greatest veneration for this symbol of ever-reproductive nature. The Greeks consecrated the same symbols of universal fruitfulness in their Mysteries; and they were exhibited in the sanctuaries of Eleusis. They appear among the sculptured ornaments of all the Indian temples. Tertullian accuses the Valentinians of having adopted the custom of venerating them; a custom, he says, introduced by Melampus from Egypt into Greece. The Egyptians consecrated the Phallus in the Mysteries of Osiris and Isis, as we learn from Plutarch and Diodorus Siculus; and the latter assures us that these emblems were not consecrated by the Egyptians alone, but by every people. They certainly were so among the Persians and Assyrians; and they were regarded everywhere as symbolic of the generative and productive powers of all animated beings. In those early ages, the works of Nature and all her agents were sacred like herself.

For the union of Nature with herself is a chaste marriage, of which the union of man and woman was a natural image, and their organs were an expressive emblem of the double energy which manifests itself in Heaven and Earth uniting together to produce all beings. "The Heavens," says Plutarch, "seemed to men to fulfill the functions of father, and the Earth of mother. The former impregnated the earth with its fertilizing rains, and the earth, receiving them, became fruitful and brought forth." Heaven, which covers and embraces the earth everywhere, is her potent spouse, uniting himself to her to make her fruitful, without which she would languish in everlasting sterility, buried in the shades of chaos and of night. Their union is their marriage; their productions or parts are their children. The skies are our Father, and Nature the great Mother of us all.

Page 657

This idea was not the dogma of a single sect, but the general opinion of all the Sages. "Nature was divided," says Cicero, '"into two parts, one active, and the other that submitted itself to this action, which it received, and which modified it. The former was deemed to be a Force, and the latter the material on which that Force exerted itself." Macrobius repeated almost literally the doctrine of Ocellus. Aristotle termed the earth the fruitful mother, environed on all sides by the air. Above it was Heaven, the dwelling-place of the gods and the divine stars, its substance ether, or a fire incessantly moving in circles, divine and incorruptible, and subject to no change. Below it, nature, and the elements, imitable and acted on, corruptible and mortal.

Synesius said that generations were effected in the portions of the Universe which we inhabit; while the cause of generations resided in the portions above us, whence descend to us the germs of the effects produced here below. Proclus and Simplicius deemed Heaven the Active Cause and Father, relatively to the earth. The former says that the World or the Whole is a single Animal; what is done in it, is done by it; the same World acts, and acts upon itself. He divides it into "Heaven" and "Generation." In the former, he says, are placed and arranged the conservative causes of generation, superintended by the Genii and Gods. The Earth, or Rhea, associated ever with Saturn in production, is mother of the effects of which Heaven is Father; the womb or bosom that receives the fertilizing energy of the God that engenders ages. The great work of generation is operated, he says, primarily by the action of the Sun, and secondarily by that of the Moon, so that the Sun is the primitive source of this energy, as father and chief of the male gods that form his court. He follows the action of the male and female principles through all the portions and divisions of nature, attributing to the former the origin of stability and identity, to the latter, that of diversity and mobility. Heaven is to the earth, he says, as the male to the female. It is the movement of the heavens that, by their revolutions, furnished the seminal incitements and forces, whose emanations received by the earth, make it fruitful, and cause it to produce animals and plants of every kind.

Philo says that Moses recognized this doctrine of two causes, active and passive; but made the former to reside in the Mind or Intelligence external to matter.

Page 658

The ancient astrologers divided the twelve signs of the Zodiac into six male and six female, and assigned them to six male and six female Great Gods. Heaven and Earth, or Ouranos and Ghê, were among most ancient nations, the first and most ancient Divinities. We find them in the Phœnician history of Sanchoniathon, and in the Grecian Genealogy of the Gods given by Hesiod. Everywhere they marry, and by their union produce the later Gods. "In the beginning," says Apollodorus, "Ouranos or the Heavens was Lord of all the Universe: he took to wife Ghê or the earth, and had by her many children." They were the first Gods of the Cretans, and under other names, of the Armenians, as we learn from Berosus, and of Panchaîa, an island South of Arabia, as we learn from Euhemerus. Orpheus made the Divinity, or the "Great Whole," male and female, because, he said, it could produce nothing, unless it united in itself the productive force of both sexes. He called Heaven PANGENETOR, the Father of all things, most ancient of Beings, beginning and end of all, containing in Himself the incorruptible and unwearying force of Necessity.

The same idea obtained in the rude North of Europe. The Scythians made the earth to be the wife of Jupiter; and the Germans adored her under the name of HERTA. The Celts worshipped the Heavens and the Earth, and said that without the former the latter would be sterile, and that their marriage produced all things. The Scandinavians acknowledged BÖR or the Heavens, and gave FURTUR, his son, the Earth as his wife. Olaus Rudbeck adds, that their ancestors were persuaded that Heaven intermarried with the Earth, and thus uniting his forces with hers, produced animals and plants. This marriage of Heaven and Earth produced the AZES, Genii famous in the theology of the North. In the theology of the Phrygians and Lydians, the ASII were born of the marriage of the Supreme God with the Earth, and Firmicus informs us that the Phrygians attributed to the Earth supremacy over the other elements, and considered her the Great Mother of all things.

Virgil sings the impregnation of the joyous earth, by the Ether, its spouse, that descends upon its bosom, fertilizing it with rains. Columella sings the loves of Nature and her marriage with Heaven annually consummated at the sweet Spring-time. He describes the Spirit of Life, the soul that animates the world, fired with the passion of Love, uniting with Nature and itself, itself a part of Nature, and filling its own bosom with new productions. This union of the Universe with itself, this mutual action of two sexes, he terms "the great Secrets of Nature," the Mysteries of the Union of Heaven with Earth, imaged in the Sacred Mysteries of Atys and Bacchus."

Page 659

Varro tells us that the great Divinities adored at Samothrace were the Heavens and the Earth, considered as First Causes or Primal Gods, and as male and female agents, one bearing to the other the relations that the Soul and Principle of Movement bear to the body or the matter that receives them. These were the gods revered in the Mysteries of that Island, as they were in the orgies of Phœnicia.

Everywhere the sacred body of Nature was covered with the veil of allegory, which concealed it from the profane, and allowed it to be seen only by the sage who thought it worthy to be the object of his study and investigation. She showed herself to those only who loved her in spirit and in truth, and she abandoned the indifferent and careless to error and to ignorance. "The Sages of Greece," says Pausanias, "never wrote otherwise than in an enigmatical manner, never naturally and directly." "Nature," says Sallust the Philosopher, "should be sung only in a language that imitates the secrecy of her processes and operations. She is herself an enigma. We see only bodies in movement; the forces and springs that move them are hidden from us." The poets inspired by the Divinity, the wisest philosophers, all the theologians, the chiefs of the initiations and Mysteries, even the gods uttering their oracles, have borrowed the figurative language of allegory. "The Egyptians," says Proclus, "preferred that mode of teaching, and spoke of the great secrets of Nature, only in mythological enigmas." The Gymnosophists of India and the Druids of Gaul lent to science the same enigmatic language, and in the same style wrote the Hierophants of Phœnicia.

The division of things into the active and the passive cause leads to that of the two Principles of Light and Darkness, connected with and corresponding with it. For Light comes from the ethereal substance that composes the active cause, and darkness from earth or the gross matter which composes the passive cause. In Hesiod, the Earth, by its union with Tartarus, engenders Typhon. Chief of the Powers or Genii of Darkness. But it unites itself with the Ether or Ouranos, when it engenders the Gods of Olympus, or the Stars, children of Starry Ouranos.

Page 660

Light was the first Divinity worshipped by men. To it they owed the brilliant spectacle of Nature. It seems an emanation from the Creator of all things, making known to our senses the Universe which darkness hides from our eyes, and, as it were, giving it existence. Darkness, as it were, reduces all nature again to nothingness, and almost entirely annihilates man.

Naturally, therefore, two substances of opposite natures were imagined, to each of which the world was in turn subjected, one contributing to its felicity and the other to its misfortune. Light multiplied its enjoyments; Darkness despoiled it of them: the former was its friend, the latter its enemy. To one all good was attributed; to the other all evil; and thus the words "Light" and "Good" became synonymous, and the words "Darkness" and "Evil." It seeming that Good and Evil could not flow from one and the same source, any more than could Light and Darkness, men naturally imagined two Causes or Principles, of different natures and opposite in their effects, one of which shed Light and Good, and the other Darkness and Evil, on the Universe.

This distinction of the two Principles was admitted in all the Theologies, and formed one of the principal bases of all religions. It entered as a primary element into the sacred fables, the cosmogonies and the Mysteries of antiquity. "We are not to suppose," says Plutarch, "that the Principles of the Universe are inanimate bodies, as Democritus and Epicurus thought; nor that a matter devoid of qualities is organized and arranged by a single Reason or Providence, Sovereign over all things, as the Stoics held; for it is not possible that a single Being, good or evil, is the cause of all, inasmuch as God can in nowise be the cause of any evil. The harmony of the Universe is a combination of contraries, like the strings of a lyre, or that of a bow, which alternately is stretched and relaxed." "The good," says Euripides, "is never separated from the Evil. The two must mingle, that all may go well." And this opinion as to the two principles, continues Plutarch, "is that of all antiquity. From the Theologians and Legislators it passed to the Poets and Philosophers. Its author is unknown; but the opinion itself is established by the traditions of the whole human race, and consecrated in the mysteries and sacrifices both of the Greeks and Barbarians, wherein was recognized the dogma of

Page 636 Paragraph Continued

opposing principles in nature, which, by their contrariety, produce the mixture of good and evil. We must admit two contrary causes, two opposing powers, which lead, one to the right and the other to the left, and thus control our life, as they do the sublunary world, which is therefore subject to so many changes and irregularities of every kind. For if there can be no effect without a cause, and if the Good cannot be the cause of the Evil, it is absolutely necessary that there should be a cause for the Evil, as there is one for the Good." This doctrine, he adds, has been generally received among most nations, and especially by those who have had the greatest reputation for wisdom. All have admitted two gods, with different occupations, one making the good and the other the evil found in nature. The former has been styled "God," the latter "Demon." The Persians, or Zoroaster, named the former Ormuzd and the latter Ahriman; of whom they said one was of the nature of Light, the other of that of Darkness. The Egyptians called the former Osiris, and the latter Typhon, his eternal enemy.

The Hebrews, at least after their return from the Persian captivity, had their good Deity, and the Devil, a bad and malicious Spirit, ever opposing God, and Chief of the Angels of Darkness, as God was of those of Light. The word "Satan" means, in Hebrew, simply, "The Adversary."

The Chaldæans, Plutarch says, had their good and evil stars. The Greeks had their Jupiter and Pluto, and their Giants and Titans, to whom were assigned the attributes of the Serpent with which Pluto or Serapis was encircled, and the shape whereof was assumed by Typhon, Ahriman, and the Satan of the Hebrews. Every people had something equivalent to this.

The People of Pegu believe in two Principles, one author of Good and the other of Evil, and strive to propitiate the latter, while they think it needless to worship the former, as he is incapable of doing evil. The people of Java, of the Moluccas, of the Gold Coast, the Hottentots, the people of Teneriffe and Madagascar, and the Savage Tribes of America, all worship and strive to avert the anger and propitiate the good-will of the Evil Spirit.

Page 662

But among the Greeks, Egyptians, Chaldæans, Persians, and Assyrians, the doctrine of the two Principles formed a complete and regularly arranged theological system. It was the basis of the religion of the Magi and of Egypt. The author of an ancient work, attributed to Origen, says that Pythagoras learned from Zarastha, a Magus at Babylon (the same, perhaps, as Zerdusht or Zoroaster), that there are two principles of all things, whereof one is the father and the other the mother; the former, Light, and the latter, Darkness. Pythagoras thought that the Dependencies on Light were warmth, dryness, lightness, swiftness; and those on Darkness, cold, wet, weight, and slowness; and that the world derived its existence from these two principles, as from the male and the female. According to Porphyry, he conceived two opposing powers, one good, which he termed Unity, the Light, Right, the Equal, the Stable, the Straight; the other evil, which he termed Binary, Darkness, the Left, the Unequal, the Unstable, the Crooked. These ideas he received from the Orientals, for he dwelt twelve years at Babylon, studying with the Magi. Varro says he recognized two Principles of all things, – the Finite and the Infinite, Good and Evil, Life and Death, Day and Night. White he thought was of the nature of the Good Principle, and Black of that of the Evil; that Light and Darkness, Heat and Cold, the Dry and the Wet, mingled in equal proportions; that Summer was the triumph of heat, and Winter of cold; that their equal combination produced Spring and Autumn, the former producing verdure and favorable to health, and the latter, deteriorating everything, giving birth to maladies. He applied the same idea to the rising and setting of the sun; and, like the Magi, held that God or Ormuzd in the body resembled light, and in the soul, truth.

Aristotle, like Plato, admitted a principle of Evil, resident in matter and in its eternal imperfection.

The Persians said that Ormuzd, born of the pure Light, and Ahriman, born of darkness, were ever at war. Ormuzd produced six Gods, Beneficence, Truth, Good Order, Wisdom, Riches, and Virtuous Joy. These were so many emanations from the Good Principle, so many blessings bestowed by it on men. Ahriman, in his turn, produced six Devs, opponents of the six emanations from Ormuzd. Then Ormuzd made himself three times as great as before, ascended as far above the sun as the sun is above the earth, and adorned the heavens with stars, of which he made Sirius the sentinel or advance-guard: that he then created twenty-four other Deities, and placed them in an egg, where Ahriman also placed twenty-four others, created by him, who broke the egg, and so intermingled Good and Evil. Theopompus adds that, according to the Magi, for two terms of three thousand years, each of the two Principles is to be by turns victor and the other vanquished; then for three thousand more for each they are to contend with each other, each destroying reciprocally the works of the other; after which Ahriman is to perish, and men, wearing transparent bodies, to enjoy unutterable happiness.

Page 663

The twelve great Deities of the Persians, the six Amshaspands and six Devs, marshalled, the former under the banner of Light, and the latter under that of Darkness, are the twelve Zodiacal Signs or Months; the six supreme signs, or those of Light, or of Spring and Summer, commencing with Aries, and the six inferior, of Darkness, or of Autumn and Winter, commencing with Libra. Limited Time, as contradistinguished from Time without limits, or Eternity, is Time created and measured by the celestial revolutions. It is comprehended in a period divided into twelve parts, each subdivided into a thousand parts, which the Persians termed years. Thus the circle annually traversed by the Sun was divided into 12,000 parts, or each sign into 3,000: and thus, each year, the Principle of Light and Good triumphed for 3,000 years, that of Evil and Darkness for 3,000, and they mutually destroyed each other's labors for 6,000, or 3,000 for each: so that the Zodiac was equally divided between them. And accordingly Ocellus Lucanus, the Disciple of Pythagoras, held that the principal cause of all sublunary effects resided in the Zodiac, and that from it flowed the good or bad influences of the planets that revolved therein.

The twenty-four good and twenty-four evil Deities, enclosed in the Egg, are the forty-eight constellations of the ancient sphere, equally divided between the realms of Light and Darkness, on the concavity of the celestial sphere which was apportioned among them; and which, enclosing the world and planets, was the mystic and sacred egg of the Magi, the Indians, and the Egyptians, – the egg that issued from the mouth of the God Kneph, that figured as the Orphic Egg in the Mysteries of Greece, that issued from the God Chumong of the Coresians, and from the Egyptian Osiris and the God Phanes of the Modern Orphics, Principle of Light, – the egg crushed by the Sacred Bull of the Japanese, and from which the world emerged; that placed by the Greeks at the feet of Bacchus the bull-horned God, and from which Aristophanes makes Love emerge, who with Night organizes Chaos.

Page 664

Thus the Balance, the Scorpion, the Serpent of Ophiucus, and the Dragon of the Hesperides became malevolent Signs and Evil Genii; and entire nature was divided between the two principles, and between the agents or partial causes subordinate to them. Hence Michael and his Archangels, and Satan and his fallen compeers. Hence the wars of Jupiter and the Giants, in which the Gods of Olympus fought on the side of the Light-God, against the dark progeny of earth and Chaos; a war which Proclus regarded as symbolizing the resistance opposed by dark and chaotic matter to the active and beneficent force which gives it organization; an idea which in part appears in the old theory of two Principles, one innate in the active and luminous substance of Heaven, and the other in the inert and dark substance of matter that resists the order and the good that Heaven communicates to it.

Osiris conquers Typhon, and Ormuzd, Ahriman, when, at the Vernal Equinox, the creative action of Heaven and its demiourgic energy is most strongly manifested. Then the principle of Light and Good overcomes that of Darkness and Evil, and the world rejoices, redeemed from cold and wintry darkness by the beneficent Sign into which the Sun then enters triumphant and rejoicing, after his resurrection.

From the doctrine of the two Principles, Active and Passive, grew that of the Universe, animated by a Principle of Eternal Life, and by a Universal Soul, from which every isolated and temporary being received at its birth an emanation, which, at the death of such being, returned to its source. The life of matter as much belonged to nature as did matter itself; and as life is manifested by movement, the sources of life must needs seem to be placed in those luminous and eternal bodies, and above all in the Heaven in which they revolve, and which whirls them along with itself in that rapid course that is swifter than all other movement. And fire and heat have so great an analogy with life, that cold, like absence of movement, seemed the distinctive characteristic of death. Accordingly, the vital fire that blazes in the Sun and produces the heat that vivifies everything, was regarded as the principle of organization and life of all sublunary beings.

Page 665

According to this doctrine, the Universe is not to be regarded, in its creative and eternal action, merely as an immense machine, moved by powerful springs and forced into a continual movement, which, emanating from the circumference, extends to the centre, acts and re-acts in every possible direction, and re-produces in succession all the varied forms which matter receives. So to regard it would be to recognize a cold and purely mechanical action, the energy of which could never produce life.

On the contrary, it was thought, the Universe should be deemed an immense Being, always living, always moved and always moving in an eternal activity inherent in itself, and which, subordinate to no foreign cause, is communicated to all its parts, connects them together, and makes of the world of things a complete and perfect whole. The order and harmony which reign therein seem to belong to and be a part of it, and the design of the various plans of construction of organized beings would seem to be graven in its Supreme Intelligence, source of all the other Intelligences which it communicates together with life to man. Nothing existing out of it, it must be regarded as the principle and term of all things.

Chæremon had no reason for saying that the Ancient Egyptians, inventors of the sacred fables, and adorers of the Sun and the other luminaries, saw in the Universe only a machine, without life and without intelligence, either in its whole or in its parts; and that their cosmogony was a pure Epicureanism, which required only matter and movement to organize its world and govern it. Such an opinion would necessarily exclude all religious worship. Wherever we suppose a worship, there we must suppose intelligent Deities who receive it, and are sensible to the homage of their adorers; and no other people were so religious as the Egyptians.

On the contrary, with them the immense, immutable, and Eternal Being, termed "God" or "the Universe," had eminently, and in all their plenitude, that life and intelligence which sublunary beings, each an infinitely small and temporary portion of itself, possess in a far inferior degree and infinitely less quantity. It was to them, in some sort, like the Ocean, whence the springs, brooks, and rivers have risen by evaporation, and to the bosom whereof they return by a longer or shorter course, and after a longer or shorter separation from the immense mass of its waters. The machine of the Universe was, in their view, like that of man, moved by a Principle of Life which kept it in eternal activity, and circulated in all its parts. The Universe was a living and animated being, like man and the other animals; or rather they were so only because the Universe was essentially so, and for a few moments communicated to each an infinitely minute portion of its eternal life, breathed by it into the inert and gross matter of sublunary bodies. That withdrawn, man or the animal died; and the Universe alone, living and circulating around the wrecks of their bodies, by its eternal movement, organized and animated new bodies, returning to them the eternal fire and subtle substance which vivifies itself, and which, incorporated in its immense mass, was its universal soul.

Page 666

These were the ancient ideas as to this Great GOD, Father of all the gods, or of the World; of this BEING, Principle of all things, and of which nothing other than itself is Principle, – the Universal cause that was termed God. Soul of the Universe, eternal like it, immense like it, supremely active and potent in its varied operations, penetrating all parts of this vast body, impressing a regular and symmetrical movement on the spheres, making the elements instinct with activity and order, mingling with everything, organizing everything, vivifying and preserving everything, – this was the UNIVERSE-GOD which the ancients adored as Supreme Cause and God of Gods.

Anchises, in the Æneid, taught Æneas this doctrine of Pythagoras, learned by him from his Masters, the Egyptians, in regard to the Soul and Intelligence of the Universe, from which our souls and intelligences, as well as our life and that of the animals, emanate, Heaven, Earth, the Sea, the Moon and the Stars, he said, are moved by a principle of internal life which perpetuates their existence; a great intelligent soul, that penetrates every part of the vast body of the Universe, and, mingling with everything, agitates it by an eternal movement. It is the source of life in all living things. The force which animates all, emanates from the eternal fire that burns in Heaven. In the Georgics, Virgil repeats the same doctrine; and that, at the death of every animal, the life that animated it, part of the universal life, returns to its Principle and to the source of life that circulates in the sphere of the Stars.

Servius makes God the active Cause that organizes the elements into bodies, the vivifying breath or spirit, that, spreading through matter or the elements, produces and engenders all things. The elements compose the substance of our bodies: God composes the souls that vivify these bodies. From it come the instincts of animals, from it their life, he says: and when they die, that life returns to and re-enters into the Universal Soul, and their bodies into Universal Matter.

Page 667

Timæus of Locria and Plato his Commentator wrote of the Soul of the World, developing the doctrine of Pythagoras, who thought, says Cicero, that God is the Universal Soul, resident everywhere in nature, and of which our Souls are but emanations. "God is one," says Pythagoras, as cited by Justin Martyr: "He is not, as some think, without the world, but within it, and entire in its entirety. He sees all that becomes, forms all immortal beings, is the author of their powers and performances, the origin of all things, the Light of Heaven, the Father, the Intelligence, the Soul of all beings, the Mover of all spheres."

God, in the view of Pythagoras, was ONE, a single substance, whose continuous parts extended through all the Universe, without separation, difference, or inequality, like the soul in the human body. He denied the doctrine of the spiritualists, who had severed the Divinity from the Universe, making Him exist apart from the Universe, which thus became no more than a material work, on which acted the Abstract Cause, a God, isolated from it. The Ancient Theology did not so separate God from the Universe. This Eusebius attests, in saying that but a small number of wise men, like Moses, had sought for God or the Cause of all, outside of that ALL; while the Philosophers of Egypt and Phœnicia, real authors of all the old Cosmogonies, had placed the Supreme Cause in the Universe itself, and in its parts, so that, in their view, the world and all its parts are in God.

The World or Universe was thus compared to man: the Principle of Life that moves it, to that which moves man; the Soul of the World to that of man. Therefore Pythagoras called man a microcosm, or little world, as possessing in miniature all the qualities found on a great scale in the Universe; by his reason and intelligence partaking of the Divine Nature: and by his faculty of changing aliments into other substances, of growing, and re-producing himself, partaking of elementary Nature. Thus he made the Universe a great intelligent Being, like man – an immense Deity, having in itself, what man has in himself, movement, life, and intelligence, and besides, a perpetuity of existence, which man has not; and, as having in itself perpetuity of movement and life, therefore the Supreme Cause of all.

Page 668

Everywhere extended, this Universal Soul does not, in the view of Pythagoras, act everywhere equally nor in the same manner. The highest portion of the Universe, being as it were its head, seemed to him its principal seat, and there was the guiding power of the rest of the world. In the seven concentric spheres is resident an eternal order, fruit of the intelligence, the Universal Soul that moves, by a constant and regular progression, the immortal bodies that form the harmonious system of the heavens.

Manilius says: "I sing the invisible and potent Soul of Nature; that Divine Substance which, everywhere inherent in Heaven, Earth, and the Waters of the Ocean, forms the bond that holds together and makes one all the parts of the vast body of the Universe. It, balancing all Forces, and harmoniously arranging the varied relations of the many members of the world, maintains in it the life and regular movement that agitate it, as a result of the action of the living breath or single spirit that dwells in all its parts, circulates in all the channels of universal nature, flashes with rapidity to all its points, and gives to animated bodies the configurations appropriate to the organization of each … This eternal Law, this Divine Force, that maintains the harmony of the world, makes use of the Celestial Signs to organize and guide the animated creatures that breathe upon the earth; and gives to each of them the character and habits most appropriate. By the action of this Force Heaven rules the condition of the Earth and of its fields cultivated by the husbandman: it gives us or takes from us vegetation and harvests: it makes the great ocean overpass its limits at the flow, and retire within them again at the ebbing, of the tide."

Thus it is no longer by means of a poetic fiction only that the heavens and the earth become animated and personified, and are deemed living existences, from which other existences proceed. For now they live, with their own life, a life eternal like their bodies, each gifted with a life and perhaps a soul, like those of man, a portion of the universal life and universal soul; and the other bodies that they form, and which they contain in their bosoms, live only through them and with their life, as the embryo lives in the bosom of its mother, in consequence and by means of the life communicated to it, and which the mother ever maintains by the active power of her own life. Such is the universal life of the world, reproduced in all the beings which its superior portion creates in its inferior portion, that is as it were the matrix of the world, or of the beings that the heavens engender in its bosom,

Page 669

"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.

Page 670

The Universe itself was regarded as a supremely intelligent being. Such was the doctrine of Timæus of Locria. The soul of man was part of the intelligent soul of the Universe, and therefore itself intelligent. His opinion was that of many other philosophers. Cleanthes, a disciple of ZENO, regarded the Universe as God, Or as the unproduced and universal cause of all effects produced. He ascribed a soul and intelligence to universal nature, and to this intelligent soul, in his view, divinity belonged. From it the intelligence of man was an emanation, and shared its divinity. Chrysippus, the most subtle of the Stoics, placed in the universal reason that forms the soul and intelligence of nature, that divine force or essence of the Divinity which he assigned to the world moved by the universal soul that pervades its every part.

An interlocutor in Cicero's work, De Natura Deorum, formally argues that the Universe is necessarily intelligent and wise, because man, an infinitely small portion of it, is so. Cicero makes the same argument in his oration for Milo. The physicists came to the same conclusion as the philosophers. They supposed that movement essentially belonged to the soul, and the direction of regular and ordered movements to the intelligence. And, as both movement and order exist in the Universe, therefore, they held, there must be in it a soul and an intelligence that role it, and are not to be distinguished from itself; because the idea of the Universe is but the aggregate of all the particular ideas of all things that exist.

The argument was, that the Heavens, and the Stars which make part of them, are animated, because they possess a portion of the Universal Soul: they areintelligent beings, because that Universal Soul, part whereof they possess, is supremely intelligent; and they share Divinity with Universal Nature, because Divinity resides in the Universal Soul and Intelligence which move and rule the world, and of each of which they hold a share. By this process of logic, the interlocutor in Cicero assigned Divinity to the Stars, as animated beings gifted with sensibility and intelligence, and composed of the noblest and purest portions of the ethereal substance, unmixed with matter of an alien nature, and essentially containing light and heat. Hence he concluded them to be so many gods, of an intelligence superior to that of other existences, corresponding to the lofty height in which they moved with such perfect regularity and admirable harmony, with a movement spontaneous and free. Hence he made them "Gods," active, eternal, and intelligent "Causes"; and peopled the realm of Heaven with a host of Eternal Intelligences, celestial Genii or Angels, sharing the universal Divinity, and associated with it in the administration of the Universe, and the dominion exercised over sublunary nature and man.

Page 671

We make the motive-force of the planets to be a mechanical law, which we explain by the combination of two forces, the centripetal and centrifugal, whose origin we cannot demonstrate, but whose force we can calculate. The ancients regarded them as moved by an intelligent force that had its origin in the first and universal Intelligence. Is it so certain, after all, that we are any nearer the truth than they were; or that we know what our "centripetal and centrifugal forces" mean; for what is aforce? With us, the entire Deity acts upon and moves each planet, as He does the sap that circulates in the little blade of grass, and in the particles of blood in the tiny veins of the invisible rotifer. With the Ancients, the Deity of each Star was but a portion of the Universal God, the Soul of Nature. Each Star and Planet, with them, was moved of itself, and directed by its own special intelligence. And this opinion of Achilles Tatius, Diodorus, Chrysippus, Aristotle, Plato, Heraclides of Pontus, Theophrastus, Simplicius, Macrobius, and Proclus, that in each Star there is an immortal Soul and Intelligence, part of the Universal Soul and Intelligence of the Whole, – this opinion of Orpheus, Plotinus, and the Stoics, was in reality, that of many Christian philosophers. For Origen held the same opinion; and Augustin held that every visible thing in the world was superintended by an Angelic Power: and Cosma, the Monk, believed that every Star was under the guidance of an Angel; and the author of the Octateuch, written in the time of the Emperor Justin, says that they are moved by the impulse communicated to them by Angels stationed above the firmament. Whether the stars were animated beings, was a question that Christian antiquity did not decide. Many of the Christian doctors believed they were. Saint Augustin hesitates, Saint Jerome doubts, if Solomon did not assign souls to the Stars. Saint Ambrose does not doubt they have souls; and Pamphilus says that many of the Church believe they are reasonable beings, while many think otherwise, but that neither one nor the other opinion is heretical.

Page 672

Thus the Ancient Thought, earnest and sincere, wrought out the idea of a Soul inherent in the Universe and in its several parts. The next step was to separate that Soul from the Universe, and give to it an external and independent existence and personality; still omnipresent, in every inch of space and in every particle of matter, and yet not a part of Nature, but its Cause and its Creator. This is the middle ground between the two doctrines, of Pantheism (or that all is God, and God is in all and is all), on the one side, and Atheism (or that all is nature, and there is no other God), on the other; which doctrines, after all, when reduced to their simplest terms, seem to be the same.

We complacently congratulate ourselves on our recognition of a personal God, as being the conception most suited to human sympathies, and exempt from the mystifications of Pantheism. But the Divinity remains still a mystery, notwithstanding all the devices which symbolism, either from the organic or inorganic creation, can supply; and personification is itself a symbol, liable to misapprehension as much as, if not more so than, any other, since it is apt to degenerate into a mere reflection of our own infirmities; and hence any affirmative idea or conception that we can, in our own minds, picture of the Deity, must needs be infinitely inadequate.

The spirit of the Vedas (or sacred Indian Books, of great antiquity), as understood by their earliest as well as most recent expositors, is decidedly a pantheistic monotheism – one God, and He all in all; the many divinities, numerous as the prayers ad-dressed to them, being resolvable into the titles and attributes of a few, and ultimately into THE ONE. The machinery of personification was understood to have been unconsciously assumed as a mere expedient to supply the deficiencies of language; and the Mimansa justly considered itself as only interpreting the true meaning of the Mantras, when it proclaimed that, in the beginning, "Nothing was but Mind, the Creative Thought of Him which existed alone from the beginning, and breathed without afflation." The idea suggested in the Mantras is dogmatically asserted and developed in the Upanischadas. The Vedanta philosophy,

Page 673 – Paragraph continued

assuming the mystery of the "ONE IN MANY" as the fundamental article of faith, maintained not only the Divine Unity, but the identity of matter and spirit. The unity which it advocates is that of mind. Mind is the Universal Element, the One God, the Great Soul, Mahaatma. He is the material as well as efficient cause, and the world is a texture of which he is both the web and the weaver. He is the Macrocosmos, the universal organism called Pooroosha, of which Fire, Air, and Sun are only the chief members. His head is light, his eyes the sun and moon, his breath the wind, his voice the opened Vedas. All proceeds from Brahm, like the web from the spider and the grass from the earth.

Yet it is only the impossibility of expressing in language the origination of matter from spirit, which gives to Hindu philosophy the appearance of materialism. Formless Himself, the Deity is present in all forms. His glory is displayed in the Universe as the image of the sun in water, which is, yet is not, the luminary itself. All maternal agency and appearance, the subjective world, are to a great extent phantasms, the notional representations of ignorance. They occupy, however, a middle ground between reality and non-reality; they are unreal, because nothing exists but Brahm; yet in some degree real, inasmuch as they constitute an outward manifestation of him. They are a self-induced hypostasis of the Deity, under which He presents to Himself the whole of animate and inanimate Nature, the actuality of the moment, the diversified appearances which successively invest the one Pantheistic Spirit.

The great aim of reason is to generalize; to discover unity in multiplicity, order in apparent confusion; to separate from the accidental and the transitory, the stable and universal. In the contemplation of Nature, and the vague, but almost intuitive perception of a general uniformity of plan among endless varieties of operation and form, arise those solemn and reverential feelings, which, if accompanied by intellectual activity, may eventually ripen into philosophy.

Page 674

Consciousness of self and of personal identity is co-existent with our existence. We cannot conceive of mental existence without it. It is not the work of reflection nor of logic, nor the result of observation, experiment, and experience. It is a gift from God, like instinct; and that consciousness of a thinking soul which is really the person that we are, and other than our body, is the best and most solid proof of the soul's existence. We have the same consciousness of a Power on which we are dependent; which we can define and form an idea or picture of, as little as we can of the soul, and yet which we feel, and therefore know, exists. True and correct ideas of that Power, of the Absolute Existence from which all proceeds, we cannot trace; if by true and correct we mean adequate ideas; for of such we are not, with our limited faculties, capable. And ideas of His nature, so far correct as we are capable of entertaining, can only be attained either by direct inspiration or by the investigations of philosophy.

The idea of the universal preceded the recognition of any system for its explanation. It was felt rather than understood; and it was long before the grand conception on which all philosophy rests received through deliberate investigation that analytical development which might properly entitle it to the name. The sentiment, when first observed by the self-conscious mind, was, says Plato, "a Divine gift, communicated to mankind by some Prometheus, or by those ancients who lived nearer to the gods than our degenerate selves." The mind deduced from its first experiences the notion of a general Cause or Antecedent, to which it shortly gave a name and personified it. This was the statement of a theorem, obscure in proportion to its generality. It explained all things but itself. It was a true cause, but anincomprehensible one. Ages had to pass before the nature of the theorem could be rightly appreciated, and before men, acknowledging the First Cause to be an object of faith rather than science, were contented to confine their researches to those nearer relations of existence and succession, which are really within the reach of their faculties. At first, and for a long time, the intellect deserted the real for a hastily-formed ideal world, and the imagination usurped the place of reason, in attempting to put a construction on the most general and inadequate of conceptions, by transmuting its symbols into realities, and by substantializing it under a thousand arbitrary forms.

Page 675

In poetry, the idea of Divine unity became, as in Nature, obscured by a multifarious symbolism; and the notionalities of transcendental philosophy reposed on views of nature scarcely more profound than those of the earliest symbolists. Yet the idea of unity was rather obscured than extinguished; and Xenophanes appeared as an enemy of Homer, only because he more emphatically insisted on the monotheistic element, which, in poetry, has been comparatively overlooked. The first philosophy reasserted the unity which poetry had lost; but being unequal to investigate its nature, it again resigned it to the world of approximate sensations, and became bewildered in materialism, considering the conceptional whole or First Element as some refinement of matter, unchangeable in its essence, though subject to mutations of quality and form in an eternal succession of seeming decay and regeneration; comparing it to water, air, or fire, as each endeavored to refine on the doctrine of his predecessor, or was influenced by a different class of theological traditions.

In the philosophical systems, the Divine Activity, divided by the poets and by popular belief among a race of personifications, in whom the idea of descent replaced that of cause, or of pantheistic evolution, was restored, without subdivision or reservation, to nature as a whole; at first as a mechanical force or life; afterward as an all-pervading soul or inherent thought; and lastly as an external directing Intelligence.

The Ionian revival of pantheism was materialistic. The Moving Force was inseparable from a material element, a subtle yet visible ingredient. Under the form of air orfire, the principle of life was associated with the most obvious material machinery of nature. Everything, it was said, is alive and full of gods. The wonders of the volcano, the magnet, the ebb and flow of the tide, were vital indications, the breathing or moving of the Great World-Animal. The imperceptible. ether of Anaximenes had no positive quality beyond the atmospheric air with which it was easily confused: and even the "Infinite" of Anaximander, though free of the conditions of quality or quantity, was only an ideal chaos, relieved of its coarseness by negations. It was the illimitable storehouse or Pleroma, out of which is evolved the endless circle of phenomenal change. A moving Force was recognized in, but not clearly distinguished from, the material. Space, Time, Figure, and Number, and other common forms or properties, which exist only as attributes, were treated as substances, or at least as making a substantial connection between the objects to which they belong: and all the conditions of material existence were supposed to have been evolved out of the Pythagorean Monad.

Page 676

The Eleatic philosophers treated conceptions not only as entities, but as the only entities, alone possessing the stability and certainty and reality vainly sought among phenomena. The only reality was Thought. "All realexistence," they said, "is mental existence; non-existence, being inconceivable, is therefore impossible; existence fills up the whole range of thought, and is inseparable from its exercise; thought and its object are one."

Xenophanes used ambiguous language, applicable to the material as well as to the mental, and exclusively appropriate to neither. In other words, he availed himself of material imagery to illustrate an indefinite meaning. In announcing the universal being, he appealed to the heavens as the visible manifestation, calling it spherical, a term borrowed from the material world. He said that God was neither moved nor unmoved, limited nor unlimited. He did not even attempt to express clearly what cannot be conceived clearly; admitting, says Simplicius, that such speculations were above physics. Parmenides employed similar expedients, comparing his metaphysical Deity to a sphere, or to heat, an aggregate or a continuity, and so involuntarily withdrawing its nominal attributes.

The Atomic school, dividing the All into Matter and Force, deemed matter unchangeable in its ultimate constitution, though infinitely variable in its resultant forms. They made all variety proceed from the varied combinations of atoms; but they required no mover nor director of the atoms external to themselves; no universal Reason; but a Mechanical Eternal Necessity, like that of the Poets. Still it is doubtful whether there ever was a time when reason could be said to be entirely asleep, a stranger to its own existence, notwithstanding this apparent materialism. The earliest contemplation of the external world, which brings it into an imagined association with ourselves, assigns, either to its whole or its parts, the sensation and volition which belong to our own souls.

Page 677

Anaxagoras admitted the existence of ultimate elementary particles, as Empedocles did, from the combinations whereof all material phenomena resulted. But he asserted the Moving Force to be Mind; and yet, though he clearly saw the impossibility of advancing by illustration or definition beyond a reasonable faith, or a simple negation of materiality, yet he could not wholly desist from the endeavor to illustrate the nature of this non-matter or mind, by symbols drawn from those physical considerations which decided him in placing it in a separate category. Whether as human reason, or as the regulating Principle in nature, he held it different from all other things in character and effect, and that therefore it must necessarily differ in its essential constitution. It was neither Matter, nor a Force conjoined with matter, or homogeneous with it, but independent and generically distinct, especially in this, that, being the source of all motion, separation, and cognition, it is something entirely unique, pure, and unmixed; and so, being unhindered by any interfering influence limiting its independence of individual action, it has Supreme Empire over all things, over the vortex of worlds as well as over all that live in them. It is most penetrating and powerful, mixing with other things, though no other thing mixes with it; exercises universal control and cognition, and includes the Necessity of the Poets, as well as the independent power of thought which we exercise within ourselves. In short, it is the self-conscious power of thought extended to the Universe, and exalted into the Supreme External Mind which sees, knows, and directs all things.

Thus Pantheism and Materialism were both avoided; and matter, though as infinitely varied as the senses represent it, was held in a bond of unity transferred to a ruling power apart from it. That Power could not be Prime Mover, if it were itself moved; nor All-Governing, if not apart from the things it governs. If the arranging Principle were inherent in matter, it would have been impossible to account for the existence of a chaos: if something external, then the old Ionian doctrine of a "beginning" became more easily conceivable, as being the epoch at which the Arranging Intelligence commenced its operations.

But this grand idea of an all-governing independent mind involved difficulties which proved insuperable; because it gave to matter, in the form of chaos, an independent and eternal self-existence, and so introduced a dualism of mind and matter. In the Mind or Intelligence, Anaxagoras included not only life and motion, but the moral principles of the noble and good; and probably used the term on account of the popular misapplication of the word "God," and as being less liable to misconstruction, and more specifically marking his idea. His "Intelligence" principle remained practically liable to many of the same defects as the "Necessity" of the poets. It was the presentiment of a great idea, which it was for the time impossible to explain or follow out. It was not yet intelligible, nor was even the road opened through which it might be approached.

Page 678

Mind cannot advance in metaphysics beyond self-deification. In attempting to go further, it only enacts the apotheosis of its own subtle conceptions, and so sinks below the simpler ground already taken. The realities which Plato could not recognize in phenomena, he discovered within his own mind, and as unhesitatingly as the old Theosophists installed its creations among the gods. He, like most philosophers after Anaxagoras, made the Supreme Being to be Intelligence; but in other respects left His nature undefined, or rather indefinite through the variety of definitions, a conception vaguely floating between Theism and Pan-theism. Though deprecating the demoralizing tendencies of poetry, he was too wise to attempt to replace them by other representations of a positive kind. He justly says, that spiritual things can be made intelligible only through figures; and the forms of allegorical expression which, in a rude age, had been adopted unconsciously, were designedly chosen by the philosopher as the most appropriate vehicles for theological ideas.

As the devices of symbolism were gradually stripped away, in order, if possible, to reach the fundamental conception, the religious feeling habitually connected with it seemed to evaporate under the process. And yet the advocates of Monotheism, Xenophanes and Heraclitus, declaimed only against the making of gods in human form. They did not attempt to strip nature of its divinity, but rather to recall religious contemplation from an exploded symbolism to a purer one. They continued the veneration which, in the background of poetry, has been maintained for Sun and Stars, the Fire or Ether. Socrates prostrated himself before the rising luminary; and the eternal spheres, which seem to have shared the religious homage of Xenophanes, retained a secondary and qualified Divinity in the Schools of the Peripatetics and Stoics.

The unseen being or beings revealed only to the Intellect became the theme of philosophy; and their more ancient symbols, if not openly discredited, were passed over with evasive generality, as beings respecting whose problematical existence we must be "content with what has been reported by those ancients, who, assuming to be their descendants, must therefore be supposed to have been well acquainted with their own ancestors and family connections." And the Theism of Anaxagoras was still more decidedly subversive, not only of Mythology, but of the whole religion of outward nature; it being an appeal from the world without, to the consciousness of spiritual dignity within man.

Page 679

In the doctrines of Aristotle, the world moves on uninterruptedly, always changing, yet ever the same, like Time, the Eternal Now, knowing neither repose nor death. There is a principle which makes good the failure of identity, by multiplying resemblances; the destruction of the individual by an eternal renewal of the form in which matter is manifested. This regular eternal movement implies an Eternal Mover; not an inert Eternity, such as the Platonic Eidos, but one always acting, Hisessence being to act, for otherwise he might never have acted, and the existence of the world would be an accident; for what should have, in that case, decided Him to act, after long inactivity? Nor can He be partly in act and partly potential, that is, quiescent and undetermined to act or not to act, for even in that case motion would not be eternal, but contingent and precarious. He is therefore wholly in act, a pure, untiring activity, and for the sane reasons wholly immaterial. Thus Aristotle avoided the idea that God was inactive and self-contemplative for an eternity, and then for some unknown reason, or by some unknown motive, commenced to act outwardly and produce; but he incurred the opposite hazard, of making the result of His action, matter and the Universe, be co-existent with Himself; or, in other words, of denying that there was any time when His outward action commenced.

Page 680

The First Cause, he said, unmoved, moves all. Act was first, and the Universe has existed forever; one persistent cause directing its continuity. The unity of the First Mover follows from His immateriality. If He were not Himself unmoved, the series of motions and causes of motion would be infinite. Unmoved, therefore, and unchangeable Himself, all movement, even that in space, is caused by Him: He is necessary: He cannot be otherwise than as He is; and it is only through the necessity of His being that we can account for those necessary eternal relations which make a science of Being possible. Thus Aristotle leaned to a seemingly personal God; not a Being of parts and passions, like the God of the Hebrews, or that of the mass even of educated men in our own day, but a Substantial Head of all the categories of being, an Individuality of Intelligence, the dogma of Anaxagoras revived out of a more elaborate and profound analysis of Nature; something like that living unambiguous Principle which the old poets, in advance of the materialistic cosmogonists from Night and Chaos, had discovered in Ouranos or Zeus. Soon, however, the vision of personality is withdrawn, and we reach that culminating point of thought where the real blends with the ideal; where moral action and objective thought (that is, thought exercised as to anything outside of itself), as well as the material body, are excluded; and where the divine action in the world retains its veil of impenetrable mystery, and to the utmost ingenuity of research presents but a contradiction. At this extreme, the series of efficient causes resolves itself into the Final Cause. That which moves, itself unmoved, can only be the immobility of Thought or Form. God is both formal, efficient, and final cause; the One Form comprising all forms, the one good including all good, the goal of the longing of the University, moving the world as the object of love or rational desire moves the individual. He is the internal or self-realized Final Cause, having no end beyond Himself. He is no moral agent; for if He were, He would be but an instrument for producing something still higher and greater. One sort of act only, activity of mind or thought, can be assigned to Him who is at once all act yet all repose. What we call our highest pleasure, which distinguishes wakefulness and sensation, and which gives a reflected charm to hope and memory, is with Him perpetual. His existence is unbroken enjoyment of that which is most excellent but only temporary with us. The divine quality of active and yet tranquil self-contemplation characterizing intelligence, is pre-eminently possessed by the divine mind; His thought, which is His existence, being, unlike ours, unconditional and wholly act. If He can receive any gratification or enjoyment from that which exists beyond Himself, He can also be displeased and pained with it, and then He would be an imperfect being. To suppose pleasure experienced by Him from anything outward, supposes an insufficientprior enjoyment and happiness, and a sort of dependency. Man's Good is beyond himself; not so God's. The eternal act which produces the world's life is the eternal desire of good. The object of the Absolute Thought is the Absolute Good. Nature is all movement, and Thought all repose. In contemplating that absolute good, the Finality can contemplate only itself; and thus, all material interference being excluded, the distinction of subject and object vanishes in complete identification, and the Divine Thought is "the thinking of thought." The energy of mind is life, and God is that energy in its purity and perfection. He is therefore life itself, eternal and perfect; and this sums up all that is meant by the term "God." And yet, after all this transcendentalism, the very essence of thought consists in its mobility and power of transference from object to object; and we can conceive of no thought, without an object beyond itself, about which to think, or of any activity in mere self-contemplation, without out-ward act, movement, or manifestation.

Page 681

Plato endeavors to show how the Divine Principle of Good becomes realized in Nature: Aristotle's system is a vast analogical induction to prove how all Nature tends toward a final good. Plato considered Soul as a principle of movement, and made his Deity realize, that is, turn into realities, his ideas as a free, intelligent Force. Aristotle, for whom Soul is the motionless centre from which motion radiates, and to which it converges, conceives a correspondingly unmoved God. The Deity of Plato creates, superintends, and rejoices in the universal joy of, His creatures. That of Aristotle is the perfection of man's intellectual activity extended to the Universe. When he makes the Deity to be an eternal act of self-contemplation, the world is not excluded from His cognizance, for He contemplates it within Himself. Apart from and beyond the world, He yet mysteriously intermingles with it. He is universal as well as individual; His agency is necessary and general, yet also makes the real and the good of the particular.

When Plato had given to the unformed world the animal life of the Ionians, and added to that the Anaxagorean Intelligence, overruling the wild principle of Necessity; and when to Intelligence was added Beneficence; and the dread Wardours, Force and Strength, were made subordinate to Mildness and Goodness, it seemed as if a further advance were impossible, and that the Deny could not be more than The Wise and The Good.

But the contemplation of the Good implies that of its opposite, Evil. When God is held to be "The Good," it is not because Evil is unknown, but because it is designedly excluded from His attributes. But if Evil be a separate and independent existence, how would it fare with His prerogative of Unity and Supremacy? To meet this dilemma, it remained only to fall back on something more or less akin to the vagueness of antiquity; to make a virtual confession of ignorance, to deny the ultimate reality of evil, like Plato and Aristotle, or, with Speusippus, the eternity of its antithetical existence, to surmise that it is only one of those notions which are indeed provisionally indispensable in a condition of finite knowledge, but of which so many have been already discredited by the advance of philosophy; to revert, in short, to the original conception of "The Absolute," or of a single Being, in whom all mysteries are explained, and before whom the disturbing principle is reduced to a mere turbid spot on the ocean of Eternity, which to the eye of faith may be said no longer to exist.

Page 682

But the absolute is nearly allied to the non-existent. Matter and evil obtruded themselves too constantly and convincingly to he confuted or cancelled by subtleties of Logic. It is in vain to attempt to merge the world in God, while the world of experience exhibits contrariety, imperfection, and mutability, instead of the immutability of its source. Philosophy was but another name for uncertainty; and after the mind had successively deified Nature and its own conceptions, without any practical result but toilsome occupation; when the reality it sought, without or within, seemed ever to elude its grasp, the intellect, baffled in its higher flights, sought advantage and repose in aiming at truth of a lower but more applicable kind.

The Deity of Plato is a Being proportioned to human sympathies; the Father of the World, as well as its Creator; the author of good only, not of evil. "Envy," he says, "is far removed from celestial beings, and man, if willing, and braced for the effort, is permitted to aspire to a communion with the solemn troops and sweet societies of Heaven. God is the Idea or Essence of Goodness, the Good itself [τὸ ἀγαθόν]; in goodness, He created the World, and gave to it the greatest perfection of which it was susceptible; making it, as far as possible, an image of Himself. The sublime type of all excellence is an object not only of veneration but love." The Sages of old had already intimated in enigmas that God is the Author of Good; that like the Sun in Heaven, or Æsculapius on earth, He is "Healer," "Saviour," and "Redeemer," the destroyer and averter of Evil, ever healing the mischiefs inflicted by Herè, the wanton or irrational power of nature.

Plato only asserts with more distinctness the dogma of antiquity when he recognizes LOVE as the highest and most beneficent of gods, who gives to nature the invigorating energy restored by the art of medicine to the body; since Love is emphatically the physician of the Universe, the Æsculapius to whom Socrates wished to sacrifice in the hour of his death.

Page 683

A figurative idea, adopted from familiar imagery, gave that endearing aspect to the divine connection with the Universe which had commanded the earliest assent of the sentiments, until, rising in refinement with the progress of mental cultivation, it ultimately established itself as firmly in the deliberate approbation of the understanding, as it had ever responded to the sympathies. Even the rude Scythians, Bithynians, and Scandinavians, called God their "Father"; all nations traced their ancestry more or less directly to Heaven. The Hyperborean Olen, one of the oldest symbols of the religious antiquity of Greece, made Love the First-born of Nature. Who will venture to pronounce at what time God was first worthily and truly honored, or when man first began to feel aright the mute eloquence of nature? In the obscure physics of the mystical Theologers who preceded Greek philosophy, Love was the Great First Cause and Parent of the Universe. "Zeus," says Proclus, "when entering upon the work of creation, changed Himself into the form of Love: and He brought forward Aphroditè, the principle of Unity and Universal Harmony, to display her light to all. In the depths of His mysterious being, He contains the principle of love within Himself; in Him creative wisdom and blessed love are united."

"From the first
Of Days on these his love divine be fixed,
His admiration; till in time complete
What he admired and loved, his vital smile
Unfolded into being."

The speculators of the venerable East, who had conceived the idea of an Eternal Being superior to all affection and change, in his own sufficiency enjoying a plenitude of serene and independent bliss, were led to inquire into the apparently inconsistent fact of the creation of the world. Why, they asked, did He, who required nothing external to Himself to complete His already-existing Perfection, come forth out of His unrevealed and perfect existence, and become incorporated in the vicissitudes of nature? The solution of the difficulty was Love. The Great Being beheld the beauty of His own conception, which dwelt with Him alone from the beginning, Maia, or Nature's loveliness, at once the germ of passion and the source of worlds. Love became the universal parent, when the Deity, before remote and inscrutable, became ideally separated into the loving and the beloved.

Page 684

And here again recurs the ancient difficulty; that, at whatever early period this creation occurred, an eternity had previously elapsed, during which God, dwelling alone in His unimpeached unity, had no object for His love; and that the very word implies to us an existing object toward which the love is directed; so that we cannot conceive of love in the absence of any object to be loved; and therefore we again return to this point, that if love is of God's essence, and He is unchangeable, the same necessity of His nature, supposed to have caused creation, must ever have made His existence without an object to love impossible: and so that the Universe must have been co-existent with Himself.

The questions how and why evil exists in the Universe: how its existence is to be reconciled with the admitted wisdom and goodness and omnipotence of God; and how far man is a free agent, or controlled by an inexorable necessity or destiny, have two sides. On one, they are questions as to the qualities and attributes of Got; for we must infer His moral nature from His mode of governing the Universe, and they ever enter into any consideration of His intellectual nature: and on the other, they directly concern the moral responsibility, and therefore the destiny, of man. All-important, therefore, in both points of view, they have been much discussed in all ages of the world, and have no doubt urged men, more than all other questions have, to endeavor to fathom the profound mysteries of the Nature and the mode of Existence and action of an incomprehensible God.

And, with these, still another question also presents itself: whether the Deity governs the Universe by fixed and unalterable laws, or by special Providences and interferences, so that He may be induced to change His course and the results of human or material action, by prayer and supplication.

Page 685

God alone is all-powerful; but the human soul has in all ages asserted its claim to be considered as part of the Divine. "The purity of the spirit," says Van Helmont, "is shown through energy and efficaciousness of will. God, by the agency of an infinite will, created the Universe, and the same sort of power in an inferior degree, limited more or less by external hindrances, exists in all spiritual beings." The higher we ascend in antiquity, the more does prayer take the form of incantation; and that form it still in a great degree retains, since the rites of public worship are generally considered not merely as an expression of trust or reverence, as real spiritual acts, the effect of which is looked for only within the mind of the worshipper, but as acts from which some direct outward result is anticipated, the attainment of some desired object, of health or wealth, of supernatural gifts for body or soul, of exemption from danger, or vengeance upon enemies. Prayer was able to change the purposes of Heaven, and to make the Devs tremble under the abyss. It exercised a compulsory influence over the gods. It promoted the magnetic sympathy of spirit with spirit; and the Hindū and Persian liturgies, addressed not only to the Deity Himself, but to His diversified manifestations, were considered wholesome and necessary iterations of the living or creative Word which at first effectuated the divine will, and which from instant to instant supports the universal frame by its eternal repetition.

In the narrative of the Fall we have the Hebrew mode of explaining the great moral mystery, the origin of evil and the apparent estrangement from Heaven; and a similar idea, variously modified, obtained in all the ancient creeds. Everywhere, man had at the beginning been innocent and happy, and had lapsed, by temptation and his own weakness, from his first estate. Thus was accounted for the presumed connection of increase of knowledge with increase of misery, and, in particular, the great penalty of death was reconciled with Divine Justice. Subordinate to these greater points were the questions, Why is the earth covered with thorns and weeds? whence the origin of clothing, of sexual shame and passion? whence the infliction of labor, and how to justify the degraded condition of woman in the East, or account for the loathing so generally felt toward the Serpent Tribe?

The hypothesis of a fall, required under some of its modifications in all systems, to account for the apparent imperfection in the work of a Perfect Being, was, in Eastern philosophy, the unavoidable accompaniment and condition of limited or individual existence; since the Soul, considered as a fragment of the Universal Mind, might be said to have lapsed from its pre-eminence when parted from its source, and ceasing to form part of integral perfection. The theory of its reunion was correspondent to the assumed cause of its degradation. To reach its prior condition, its individuality must cease; it must be emancipated by re-absorption into the Infinite, the consummation of all things in God, to be promoted by human effort in spiritual meditation or self-mortification, and completed in the magical transformation of death.

Page 686

And as man had fallen, so it was held that the Angels of Evil had, from their first estate, to which, like men, they were, in God's good time, to be restored, and the reign of evil was then to cease forever. To this great result all the Ancient Theologies point; and thus they all endeavored to reconcile the existence of Sin and Evil with the perfect and undeniable wisdom and beneficence of God.

With man's exercise of thought are inseparably connected freedom and responsibility. Man assumes his proper rank as a moral agent, when with a sense of the limitations of his nature arise the consciousness of freedom, and of the obligations accompanying its exercise, the sense of duty and of the capacity to perform it. To suppose that man ever imagined himself not to be a free agent until he had argued himself into that belief, would be to suppose that he was in that below the brutes; for he, like them, is conscious of his freedom to act. Experience alone teaches him that this freedom of action is limited and controlled; and when what is outward to him restrains and limits this freedom of action, he instinctively rebels against it as a wrong. The rule of duty and the materials of experience are derived from an acquaintance with the conditions of the external world, in which the faculties are exerted; and thus the problem of man involves those of Nature and God. Our freedom, we learn by experience, is determined by an agency external to us; our happiness is intimately dependent on the relations of the outward World, and on the moral character of its Ruler.

Then at once arises this problem: The God of Nature must be One, and His character cannot be suspected to be other than good. Whence, then, came the evil, the consciousness of which must invariably have preceded or accompanied man's moral development? On this subject human opinion has ebbed and flowed between two contradictory extremes, one of which seems inconsistent with God's Omnipotence, and the other with His beneficence. If God, it was said, is perfectly wise and good, evil must arise from some independent and hostile principle: if, on the other hand, all agencies are subordinate to One, it is difficult, if evil does indeed exist, if there is any such thing as Evil, to avoid the impiety of making God the Author of it.

Page 687

The recognition of a moral and physical dualism in nature was adverse to the doctrine of Divine Unity. Many of the Ancients thought it absurd to imagine one Supreme Being, like Homer's Jove, distributing good and evil out of two urns. They therefore substituted, as we have seen, the doctrine of two distinct and eternal principles; some making the cause of evil to be the inherent imperfection of matter and the flesh, without explaining how God was not the cause of that; while others personified the required agency, and fancifully invented an Evil Principle, the question of whose origin indeed involved all the difficulty of the original problem, but whose existence, if once taken for granted, was sufficient as a popular solution of the mystery; the difficulty being supposed no longer to exist when pushed a step further off, as the difficulty of conceiving the world upheld by an elephant was supposed to be got rid of when it was said that the elephant was supported by a tortoise.

The simpler, and probably the older, notion, treated the one only God as the Author of all things. "I form the light," says Jehovah, "and create darkness; I cause prosperity and create evil; I, the Lord, do all these things." "All mankind," says Maximus Tyrius, "are agreed that there exists one only Universal King and Father, and that the many gods are His Children." There is nothing improbable in the supposition that the primitive idea was that there was but one God. A vague sense of Nature's Unity, blended with a dim perception of an all-pervading Spiritual Essence, has been remarked among the earliest manifestations of the Human Mind. Everywhere it was the dim remembrance, uncertain and indefinite, of the original truth taught by God to the first men.

Page 688

The Deity of the Old Testament is everywhere represented as the direct author of Evil, commissioning evil and lying spirits to men, hardening the heart of Pharaoh, and visiting the iniquity of the individual sinner on the whole people. The rude conception of sternness predominating over mercy in the Deity, can alone account for the human sacrifices, purposed, if not executed, by Abraham and Jephthah. It has not been uncommon, in any age or country of the world, for men to recognize the existence of one God, without forming any becoming estimate of His dignity. The causes of both good and ill are referred to a mysterious centre, to which each assigns such attributes as correspond with his own intellect and advance in civilization. Hence the assignment to the Deity of the feelings of envy and jealousy. Hence the provocation given by the healing skill of Æsculapius and the humane theft of fire by Prometheus. The very spirit of Nature, personified in Orpheus, Tantalus, or Phineus was supposed to have been killed, confined, or blinded, for having too freely divulged the Divine Mysteries to mankind. This Divine Envy still exists in a modified form, and varies according to circumstances. In Hesiod it appears in the lowest type of human malignity. In the God of Moses, it is jealousy of the infringement of the autocratic power, the check to political treason; and even the penalties denounced for worshipping other gods often seem dictated rather by a jealous regard for His own greatness in Deity, than by the immorality and degraded nature of the worship itself. In Herodotus and other writers it assumes a more philosophical shape, as a strict adherence to a moral equilibrium in the government of the world, in the punishment of pride, arrogance, and insolent pretension.

God acts providentially in Nature by regular and universal laws, by constant modes of operation; and so takes care of material things without violating their constitution, acting always according to the nature of the things which He has made. It is a fact of observation that, in the material and unconscious world, He worksby its materiality and unconsciousness, not against them; in the animal world, by its animality and partial consciousness, not against them. So in the providential government of the world, He acts by regular and universal laws, and constant modes of operation; and so takes care of human things without violating their constitution, acting always according to the human nature of man, not against if, working in the human world by means of man's consciousness and partial freedom, not against them.

God acts by general laws for general purposes. The attraction of gravitation is a good thing, for it keeps the world together; and if the tower of Siloam, thereby falling to the ground, slays eighteen men of Jerusalem, that number is too small to think of, considering the myriad millions who are upheld by the same law. It could not well be repealed for their sake, and to hold up that tower; nor could it remain in force, and the tower stand.

Page 689

It is difficult to conceive of a Perfect Will without confounding it with something like mechanism; since language has no name for that combination of the Inexorable with the Moral, which the old poets personified separately in Ananke or Eimarmene and Zeus. How combine understandingly the Perfect Freedom of the Supreme and All-Sovereign Will of God with the inflexible necessity, as part of His Essence, that He should and must continue to be, in all His great attributes, of justice and mercy for example, what He is now and always has been, and with the impossibility of His changing His nature and becoming unjust, merciless, cruel, fickle, or of His repealing the great moral laws which make crime wrong and the practice of virtue right?

For all that we familiarly know of Free-Will is that capricious exercise of it which we experience in ourselves and other men; and therefore the notion of Supreme Will, still guided by Infallible Law, even if that law be self-imposed, is always in danger of being either stripped of the essential quality of Freedom, or degraded under the ill-name of Necessity to something of even less moral and intellectual dignity than the fluctuating course of human operations.

It is not until we elevate the idea of law above that of partiality or tyranny, that we discover that the self-imposed limitations of the Supreme Cause, constituting an array of certain alternatives, regulating moral choice, are the very sources and safeguards of human freedom; and the doubt recurs, whether we do not set a law above God Himself; or whether laws self-imposed may not be self-repealed: and if not, what power prevents it.

The Zeus of Homer, like that of Hesiod, is an array of antitheses, combining strength with weakness, wisdom with folly, universal parentage with narrow family limitation, omnipotent control over events with submission to a superior destiny;-DESTINY, a name by means of which the theological problem was cast back into the original obscurity out of which the powers of the human mind have proved themselves as incapable of rescuing it, as the efforts of a fly caught in a spider's web to do more than increase its entanglement.

Page 690

The oldest notion of Deity was rather indefinite than repulsive. The positive degradation was of later growth. The God of nature reflects the changeful character of the seasons, varying from dark to bright. Alternately angry and serene, and lavishing abundance which she again withdraws, nature seems inexplicably capricious, and though capable of responding to the highest requirements of the moral sentiment through a general comprehension of her mysteries, more liable by a partial or hasty view to become darkened into a Siva, a Saturn, or a Mexitli, a patron of fierce orgies or blood-stained altars. All the older poetical personifications exhibit traces of this ambiguity. They are neither wholly immoral nor purely beneficent.

No people have ever deliberately made their Deity a malevolent or guilty Being. The simple piety which ascribed the origin of all things to God, took all in good part, trusting and hoping all things. The Supreme Ruler was at first looked up to with unquestioning reverence. No startling discords or contradictions had yet raised a doubt as to His beneficence, or made men dissatisfied with His government. Fear might cause anxiety, but could not banish hope, still less inspire aversion. It was only later, when abstract notions began to assume the semblance of realities, and when new or more distinct ideas suggested new words for their expression, that it became necessary to fix a definite barrier between Evil and Good.

To account for moral evil, it became necessary to devise some new expedient suited both to the piety and self-complacency of the inventor, such as the perversity of woman, or an agent distinct from God, a Typhon or Ahriman, obtained either by dividing the Gods into two classes, or by dethroning the Ancient Divinity, and changing him into a Dev or Dæmon. Through a similar want, the Orientals devised the inherent corruption of the fleshy and material; the Hebrew transferred to Satan everything illegal and immoral; and the Greek reflection, occasionally adopting the older and truer view, retorted upon man the obloquy cast on these creatures of his imagination, and showed how he has to thank himself alone for his calamities, while his good things are the voluntary gifts, not the plunder of Heaven. Homer had already made Zeus exclaim, in the Assembly of Olympus, "Grievous it is to hear these mortals accuse the Gods; they pretend that evils come from us; but they themselves occasion them gratuitously by their own wanton folly." "It is the fault of man," said Solon; in reference to the social evils of his day, "not of God, that destruction comes;" and Euripides, after a formal discussion of the origin of evil, comes to the conclusion that men act wrongly, not from want of natural good sense and feeling, but because knowing what is good, they yet for various reasons neglect to practise it.

Page 691

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.

Page 692

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."

Page 693

The ideal consummation of Platonic science is the arrival at the contemplation of that of which earth exhibits no express image or adequate similitude, the Supreme Prototype of all beauty, pure and uncontaminated with human intermixture of flesh or color, the Divine Original itself. To one so qualified is given the prerogative of bringing forth not mere images and shadows of virtue, but virtue itself, as having been conversant not with shadows, but with the truth; and having so brought forth and nurtured a progeny of virtue, he becomes the friend of God, and, so far as such a privilege can belong to any human being, immortal.

Socrates believed, like Heraclitus, in a Universal Reason pervading all things and all minds, and consequently revealing itself in ideas. He therefore sought truth in general opinion, and perceived in the communication of mind with mind one of the greatest prerogatives of wisdom and the most powerful means of advancement. He believed true wisdom to be an attainable idea, and that the moral convictions of the mind, those eternal instincts of temperance, conscientiousness, and justice, implanted in it by the gods, could not deceive, if rightly interpreted.

This metaphysical direction given to philosophy ended in visionary extravagance. Having assumed truth to be discover-able in thought, it proceeded to treat thoughts as truths. It thus became an idolatry of notions, which it considered either as phantoms exhaled from objects, or as portions of the divine pre-existent thought; thus creating a mythology of its own, and escaping from one thraldom only to enslave itself afresh. Theories and notions indiscriminately formed and defended are the false gods or "idols" of philosophy. For the word idolon means image, and a false mind-picture of God is as much an idol as a false wooden image of Him. Fearlessly launching into the problem of universal being, the first philosophy attempted to supply a compendious and decisive solution of every doubt. To do this, it was obliged to make the most sweeping assumptions; and as poetry had already filled the vast void between the human and the divine, by personifying its Deity as man, so philosophy bowed down before the supposed reflection of the divine image in the mind of the inquirer, who, in worshipping his own notions, had unconsciously deified himself. Nature thus was enslaved to common notions, and notions very often to words.

By the clashing of incompatible opinions, philosophy was gradually reduced to the ignominious confession of utter incapacity, and found its check or intellectual fall in skepticism. Xenophanes and Heraclitus mournfully acknowledged the unsatisfactory result of all the struggles of philosophy, in the admission of a universality of doubt; and the memorable effort of Socrates to rally the discomfited champions of truth, ended in a similar confession.

Page 694

The worship of abstractions continued the error which personified Evil or deified Fortune; and when mystical philosophy resigned its place to mystical religion, it changed not its nature, but only its name. The great task remained unperformed, of reducing the outward world and its principles to the dominion of the intellect, and of reconciling the conception of the supreme unalterable power asserted by reason, with the requisitions of human sympathies.

A general idea of purpose and regularity in nature had been suggested by common appearances to the earliest reflection. The ancients perceived a natural order, a divine legislation, from which human institutions were supposed to be derived, laws emblazoned in Heaven, and thence revealed to earth. But the divine law was little more than an analogical inference from human law, taken in the vulgar sense of arbitrary will or partial covenant. It was surmised rather than discovered, and remained unmoral because unintelligible. It mattered little, under the circumstances, whether the Universe were said to be governed by chance or by reason, since the latter, if misunderstood, was virtually one with the former. "Better far," said Epicurus, "acquiesce in the fables of tradition, than acknowledge the oppressive necessity of the physicists"; and Menander speaks of God, Chance, and Intelligence as undistinguishable. Law unacknowledged goes under the name of Chance: perceived, but not understood, it becomes Necessity. The wisdom of the Stoic was a dogged submission to the arbitrary behests of one; that of the Epicurean an advantage snatched by more or less dexterous management from the equal tyranny of the other.

Ignorance sees nothing necessary, and is self abandoned to a power tyrannical because defined by no rule, and paradoxical because permitting evil, while itself assumed to be unlimited, all-powerful, and perfectly good. A little knowledge, presuming the identification of the Supreme Cause with the inevitable certainty of perfect reason, but omitting the analysis or interpretation of it, leaves the mind chain-bound in the ascetic fatalism of the Stoic. Free-will, coupled with the universal rule of Chance; or Fatalism and Necessity, coupled with Omniscience and fixed and unalterable Law, these are the alternatives, between which the human mind has eternally vacillated.

Page 695

The Supernaturalists, contemplating a Being acting through impulse, though with superhuman wisdom, and considering the best courtier to be the most favored subject, combines contradictory expedients, inconsistently mixing the assertion of free action with the enervating service of petition; while he admits, in the words of a learned archbishop, that "if the production of the things we ask for depend on antecedent, natural, and necessary causes, our desires will be answered no less by the omission than the offering of prayers, which, therefore, are a vain thing."

The last stage is that in which the religion of action is made legitimate through comprehension of its proper objects and conditions. Man becomes morally free only when both notions, that of Chance and that of incomprehensible Necessity, are displaced by that of Law. Law, as applied to the Universe, means that universal, providential pre-arrangement, whose conditions can be discerned and discretionally acted on by human intelligence. The sense of freedom arises when the individual independence develops itself according to its own laws, without external collisions or hindrance; that of constraint, where it is thwarted or confined by other Natures, or where, by combination of external forces, the individual force is compelled into a new direction. Moral choice would not exist safely, or even at all, unless it were bounded by conditions determining its preferences. Duty supposes a rule both intelligible and certain, since an uncertain rule would be unintelligible, and if unintelligible, there could be no responsibility. No law that is unknown can be obligatory; and that Roman Emperor was justly execrated, who pretended to promulgate his penal laws, by putting them up at such a height that none could read them.

Man commands results, only by selecting among the contingent the pre-ordained results most suited to his purposes. In regard to absolute or divine morality, meaning the final cause or purpose of those comprehensive laws which often seem harsh to the individual, because inflexibly just and impartial to the universal, speculation must take refuge in faith; the immediate and obvious purpose often bearing so small a proportion to a wider and unknown one, as to be relatively absorbed or lost. The rain that, unseasonable to me, ruins my hopes of an abundant crop, does so because it could not otherwise have blessed and prospered the crops of another kind of a whole neighboring district of country.

Page 696

The obvious purpose of a sudden storm of snow, or an unexpected change of wind, exposed to which I lose my life, bears small proportion to the great results which are to flow from that storm or wind over a whole continent. So always, of the good and ill which at first seemed irreconcilable and capriciously distributed, the one holds its ground, the other diminishes by being explained. In a world of a multitude of individuals, a world of action and exertion, a world affording, by the conflict of interests and the clashing of passions, any scope for the exercise of the manly and generous virtues, even Omnipotence cannot make it, that the comfort and convenience of one man alone shall always be consulted.

Thus the educated mind soon begins to appreciate the moral superiority of a system of law over one of capricious interference; and as the jumble of means and ends is brought into more intelligible perspective, partial or seeming good is cheerfully resigned for the disinterested and universal. Self-restraint is found not to imply self-sacrifice. The true meaning of what appeared to be Necessity is found to be, not arbitrary Power, but Strength and Force enlisted in the service of Intelligence. God having made us men, and placed us in a world of change and eternal renovation, with ample capacity and abundant means for rational enjoyment, we learn that it is folly to repine because we are not angels, inhabiting a world in which change and the clashing of interests and the conflicts of passion are unknown.

The mystery of the world remains, but is sufficiently cleared up to inspire confidence. We are constrained to admit that if every man would but do the best in his power to do, and that which he knows he ought to do, we should need no better world than this. Man, surrounded by necessity, is free, not in a dogged determination of isolated will, because, though inevitably complying with nature's laws, he is able, proportionately to his knowledge, to modify, in regard to himself, the conditions of their action, and so to preserve an average uniformity between their forces and his own.

Page 697

Such are some of the conflicting opinions of antiquity; and we have to some extent presented to you a picture of the Ancient Thought. Faithful, as far as it goes, it exhibits to us Man's Intellect ever struggling to pass beyond the narrow bounds of the circle in which its limited powers and its short vision confine it; and ever we find it travelling round the circle, like one lost in a wood, to meet the same unavoidable and insoluble difficulties. Science with her many instruments, Astronomy, particularly, with her telescope, Physics with the microscope, and Chemistry with its analyses and combinations, have greatly enlarged our ideas of the Deity, by discovering to us the vast extent of the Universe in both directions, its star-systems and its invisible swarms of minutest animal life; by acquainting us with the new and wonderful Force or Substance we call Electricity, apparently a link between Matter and Spirit: and still the Deity only becomes more incomprehensible to us than ever, and we find that in our speculations we but reproduce over and over again the Ancient Thought.

Where, then, amid all these conflicting opinions, is the True Word of a Mason?

My Brother, most of the questions which have thus tortured men's minds, it is not within the reach and grasp of the Human Intellect to understand; but without understanding, as we have explained to you heretofore, we may and must believe.

The True Word of a Mason is to be found in the concealed and profound meaning of the Ineffable Name of Deity, communicated by God to Moses; and which meaning was long lost by the very precautions taken to conceal it. The true pronunciation of that name was in truth a secret, in which, however, was involved the far more profound secret of its meaning. In that meaning is included all the truth than can be known by us, in regard to the nature of God.

Long known as AL, AL SCHADAI, ALOHAYIM, and ADONAI; as the Chief or Commander of the Heavenly Armies; as the aggregate of the Forces [ALOHAYIM] of Nature; as the Mighty, the Victorious, the Rival of Bal and Osiris; as the Soul of Nature, Nature itself, a God that was but Man personified, a God with human passions, the God of the Heathen with but a mere change of name, He assumes, in His communications to Moses, the name יהוה [IHUH], and says to Him, אהיה אשר אהיה [AHIH ASHR AHIH], I AM WHAT I AM. Let us examine the esoteric or inner meaning of this Ineffable Name.

Page 698

היה [HIH] is the imperfect tense of the verb To BE, of which יהיה [IHIH] is the present; אהי [AHI – א being the personal pronoun "I" affixed] the first person, by apocope; and, יהי [IHI] the third. The verb has the following forms: … Preterite, 3d person, masculine singular, היה [HIH], did exist, was; 3d person corn. plural, היו [HIU] … Present, 3d pers. masc. sing. יהיה [IHIH], once יהוא [IHUA], by apocope, אהי, יהי [AHI, IHI] . . Infinitive, היה, היו [HIH, HIU] … Imperative, 2d pers. masc. sing. היה [HIH], fem. הוי [HUI] … Participle, masc. sing. הוה [HUH], ENS – EXISTING . . EXISTENCE.

The verb is never used, as the mere logical copula or connecting word, is, was, etc., is used with the Greeks, Latins, and ourselves. It always implies existence, actuality. The present form also includes the future sense, . . shall or may be or exist. And הוה and הוא [HUH and HUA] Chaldaic forms of the imperfect tense of the verb, are the same as the Hebrew הוה and היה [HUH and HIH], and mean was, existed, became.

Now הוא and היא [HUA and HIA] are the Personal Pronoun [Masculine and Feminine], HE, SHE. Thus in Gen. iv. 20 we have the phrase, הוא היה [HUA HIH], HE WAS: and in Lev. xxi. 9, את אביה היא [ATH ABIH HIA], HER Father. This feminine pronoun, however, is often written הוא [HUA], and היא [HIA] occurs only eleven times in the Pentateuch. Sometimes the feminine form means IT; but that pronoun is generally in the masculine form.

When either, י, ו, ה,or א, [Yōd, Vav, He, or Aleph] terminates a word, and has no vowel either immediately preceding or following it, it is often rejected; as in גי [GI], for גיא [GIA], a valley,

So הוא־היא [HUA-HIA], He-She, could properly be written הו־הי [HU-HI]; or by transposition of the letters, common with the Talmudists, יה־וה [Iii-UH], which is the Tetragrammaton or Ineffable Name.

In Gen. i. 27, it is said, "So the ALHIM created man in His image: in the image of ALHIM created He him: MALE and FE-MALE created He them."

Sometimes the word was thus expressed; triangularly:


And we learn that this designation of the Ineffable Name was, among the Hebrews, a symbol of Creation. The mysterious union of God with His creatures was in the letter ה, which they considered to be the Agent of Almighty Power; and to enable the possessor of the Name to work miracles.

Page 699

The Personal Pronoun הוא [HUA], HE, is often used by itself, to express the Deity. Lee says that in such cases, IHUH, IH, or ALHIM, or some other name of God, is understood; but there is no necessity for that. It means in such cases the Male, Generative, or Creative Principle or Power.

It was a common practice with the Talmudists to conceal secret meanings and sounds of words by transposing the letters.

The reversal of the letters of words was, indeed, anciently common everywhere. Thus from Neitha, the name of an Egyptian Goddess, the Greeks, writing backward, formed Athenè, the name of Minerva. In Arabic we have Nahid, a name of the planet Venus, which, reversed, gives Dihan, Greek, in Persian, Nihad, Nature; which Sir William Jones writes also Nahid. Strabo informs us that the Armenian name of Venus was Anaitis.

Tien, Heaven, in Chinese, reversed, is Neit, or Neith, worshipped at Sais in Egypt. Reverse Neitha, drop the i, and add an e, and we, as before said, Athenè. Mitrawas the name of Venus among the ancient Persians. Herodotus, who tells us this, also informs us that her name, among the Scythians, was Artim pasa. Artim isMitra, reversed. So, by reversing it, the Greeks formed Artemis, Diana.

One of the meanings of Rama, in Sanscrit, is Kama, the Deity of Love. Reverse this, and we have Amar, and by changing a into o, Amor, the Latin word for Love. Probably, as the verb is Amare, the oldest reading was Amar and not Amor. So Dipaka, in Sanscrit, one of the meanings whereof is love, is often written Dipuc. Reverse this, and we have, adding o, the Latin word Cupido.

In Arabic, the radical letters rhm, pronounced rahm, signify the trunk, compassion, mercy; this reversed, we have mhr, in Persic, love and the Sun. In Hebrew we have Lab, the heart; and in Chaldee, Bal, the heart; the radical letters of both being b and l.

The Persic word for head is Sar. Reversed, this becomes Ras in Arabic and Hebrew, Raish in Chaldee, Rash in Samaritan, and Ryas in Ethiopic; all meaning head,chief, etc. In Arabic we have Kid, in the sense of rule, regulation, article of agreement, obligation; which, reversed, becomes, adding e, the Greek dikè justice. In Coptic we have Chlom, a crown. Reversed, we have in Hebrew, Moloch or Malec, a King, or he who wears a crown.

In the Kou-onen, or oldest Chinese writing, by Hieroglyphics, [ flickr:3506629072 ] Ge [Hi or Khi, with the initial letter modified], was the Sun: in Persic, Gwar and in Turkish Giun.Yue [ flickr:3506629090 ], was the Moon;

Page 700

in Sanscrit Uh, and in Turkish Ai. It will be remembered that, in Egypt and elsewhere, the Sun was originally feminine, and the Moon masculine. In Egypt, Ioh was the moon: and in the feasts of Bacchus they cried incessantly, Euoï Sabvi! Euoï Bakhè! Io Bakhe! Io Bakhe!

Bunsen gives the following personal pronouns for he and she:

He She
Christian Aramaic
Jewish Aramaic
Hebrew Hû’ Hî’
Arabic Huwa Hiya

Thus the Ineffable Name not only embodies the Great Philosophical Idea, that the Deity is the ENS, the TO ON, the Absolute Existence, that of which the Essence is To Exist, the only Substance of Spinoza, the BEING, that never could not have existed, as contradistinguished from that which only becomes, not Nature or the Soul of Nature, but that which created Nature; but also the idea of the Male and Female Principles, in its highest and most profound sense; to wit, that God originally comprehended in Himself all that is: that matter was not co-existent with Him, or independent of Him; that He did not merely fashion and shape a pre-existing chaos into a Universe; but that His Thought manifested itself outwardly in that Universe, which so became, and before was not, except as comprehended in Him: that the Generative Power or Spirit, and Productive Matter, ever among the ancients deemed the Female, originally were in God; and that He Was and Is all that Was, that Is, and that Shall be: in Whom all else lives, moves, and has its being.

This was the great Mystery of the Ineffable Name; and this true arrangement of its letters, and of course its true pronunciation and its meaning, soon became lost to all except the select few to whom it was confided; it being concealed from the common people, because the Deity thus metaphysically named was not that personal and capricious, and as it were tangible God in whom they believed, and who alone was within the reach of their rude capacities.

Page 701

Diodorus says that the name given by Moses to God was ΙΑΩ. Theodorus says that the Samaritans termed God IABE, but the Jews ΙΑΩ. Philo Byblius gives the form ΙΕΥΩ; and Clemens of Alexandria ΙΑΟΥ. Macrobius says that it was an admitted axiom among the Heathen, that the triliteral ΙΑΩ was the sacred name of the Supreme God. And the Clarian oracle said: "Learn thou that ΙΑΩ is the great God Supreme, that ruleth over all." The letter Ι signified Unity. Α and Ω are the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet.

Hence the frequent expression: "I am the First, and I am the Last; and besides Me there is no other God. I am Α and Ω, the First and the Last. I am Α and Ω, the Beginning and the Ending, which Is, and Was, and Is to come: the Omnipotent." For in this we see shadowed forth the same great truth; that God is all in all – the Cause and the Effect – the beginning, or Impulse, or Generative Power: and the Ending, or Result, or that which is produced: that He is in reality all that is, all that ever was, and all that ever will be; in this sense, that nothing besides Himself has existed eternally, and co-eternally with Him, independent of Him, and self-existent, or self-originated.

And thus the meaning of the expression, ALOHAYIM, a plural noun, used, in the account of the Creation with which Genesis commences, with a singular verb, and of the name or title IHUH-ALHIM, used for the first time in the 4th verse of the 2d chapter of the same book, becomes clear. The ALHIM is the aggregate unity of the manifested Creative Forces or Powers of Deity, His Emanations; and IHUH-ALHIM is the ABSOLUTE Existence, or Essence of these Powers and Forces, of which they are Active Manifestations and Emanations.

This was the profound truth hidden in the ancient allegory and covered from the general view with a double veil. This was the esoteric meaning of the generation and production of the Indian, Chaldæan, and Phœnician cosmogonies; and the Active and Passive Powers, of the Male and Female Principles; of Heaven and its Luminaries generating, and the Earth producing; all hiding from vulgar view, as above its comprehension, the doctrine that matter is not eternal, but that God was the only original Existence, the ABSOLUTE, from Whom everything has proceeded, and to Whom all returns: and that all moral law springs not from the relation of things, but from His Wisdom and Essential Justice, as the Omnipotent Legislator. And this Taut WORD is with entire accuracy said to have been lost; because itsmeaning was lost, even among the Hebrews, although we still find the name (its real meaning unsuspected), in the Hu of the Druids and the FO-Hi of the Chinese.

Page 702

When we conceive of the Absolute Truth, Beauty, or Good, we cannot stop short at the abstraction of either. We are forced to refer each to some living and substantial Being, in which they have their foundations, some being that is the first and last principle of each.

Moral Truth, like every other universal and necessary truth, cannot remain a mere abstraction. Abstractions are unrealities. In ourselves, moral truth is merely conceived of. There must be somewhere a Being that not only conceives of, but constitutes it. It has this characteristic; that it is not only, to the eyes of our intelligence, an universal and necessary truth, but one obligatory on our will. It is A LAW. We do not establish that law ourselves. It is imposed on us despiteourselves: its principle must be without us. It supposes a legislator. He cannot be the being to whom the law applies; but must be one that possesses in the highest degree all the characteristics of moral truth. The moral law, universal and necessary, necessarily has as its author a necessary being; – composed of justice and charity, its author most be a being possessing the plenitude of both.

As all beautiful and all true things refer themselves, these to a Unity which is absolute TRUTH, and those to a Unity which is absolute BEAUTY, so all the moralprinciples centre in a single principle, which is THE GOOD. Thus we arrive at the conception of GOOD in itself, the ABSOLUTE Good, superior to all particularduties, and determinate in those duties. This Absolute Good must necessarily be an attribute of the Absolute BEING. There cannot be several Absolute Beings; the one in whom are realized Absolute Truth and Absolute Beauty being different from the one in whom is realized Absolute Good. The Absolute necessarily implies absolute Unity. The True, the Beautiful, and the Good are not three distinct essences: but they are one and the same essence, considered in its fundamental attributes: the different phases which, in our eyes, the Absolute and Infinite Perfection assumes. Manifested in the World of the Finite and Relative, these three attributes separate from each other, and are distinguished by our minds, which can comprehend nothing except by division. But in the Being from Whom they emanate, they are indivisibly united; and this Being, at once triple and one, Who sums up in Himself perfect Beauty, perfect Truth, and the perfect Good, is GOD.

Page 703

God is necessarily the principle of Moral Truth, and of personal morality. Man is a moral person, that is to say, one endowed with reason and liberty. He is capable of Virtue: and Virtue has with him two principal forms, respect for others and love of others, justice and charity.

The creature can possess no real and essential attribute which the Creator does not possess. The effect can draw its reality and existence only from its cause. Thecause contains in itself, at least, what is essential in the effect. The characteristic of the effect is inferiority, short-coming, imperfection. Dependent and derivate, it bears in itself the marks and conditions of dependence; and its imperfection proves the perfection of the cause; or else there would be in the effect something immanent, without a cause.

God is not a logical Being, whose Nature may be explained by deduction, and by means of algebraic equations. When, setting out with a primary attribute, the attributes of God are deduced one from the other, after the manner of the Geometricians and Scholastics, we have nothing but abstractions. We must emerge from this empty dialectic, to arrive at a true and living God. The first notion which we have of God, that of an Infinite Being, is not given us à priori, independently of all experience. It is our consciousness of ourself, as at once a Being and a limited Being, that immediately raises us to the conception of a Being, the principle of ourbeing, and Himself without limits. If the existence that we possess forces us to recur to a cause possessing the same existence in an infinite degree, all the substantial attributes of existence that we possess equally require each an infinite cause. God, then, is no longer the Infinite, Abstract, Indeterminate Being, of which reason and the heart cannot lay hold, but a real Being, determinate like ourselves, a moral person like ourself; and the study of our own souls will conduct us, without resort to hypothesis, to a conception of God, both sublime and having a connection with ourselves.

Page 704

If man be free, God must be so. It would be strange if, while the creature has that marvellous power of disposing of himself, of choosing and willing freely, the Being that has made him should be subject to a necessary development, the cause of which, though in Himself, is a sort of abstract, mechanical, or metaphysical power, inferior to the personal, voluntary cause which we are, and of which we have the clearest consciousness. God is free because we are: but he is not free as we are. He is at once everything that we are, and nothing that we are. He possesses the same attributes as we, but extended to infinity. He possesses, then, an infinite liberty, united to an infinite intelligence; and as His intelligence is infallible, exempt from the uncertainty of deliberation, and perceiving at a glance where the Good is, so His liberty accomplishes it spontaneously and without effort.

As we assign to God that liberty which is the basis of our existence, so also we transfer to His character, from our own, justice and charity. In man they are virtues: in God, His attributes. What is in us the laborious conquest of liberty, is in Him His very nature. The idea of the right, and the respect paid to the right, are signs of the dignity of our existence. If respect of rights is the very essence of justice, the Perfect Being must know and respect the rights of the lowest of His creatures; for He assigned them those rights. In God resides a sovereign justice, that renders to every one what is due him, not according to deceitful appearances, but according to the truth of things. And if man, a limited being, has the power to go out of himself, to forget his own person, to love another like himself, and devote himself to his happiness, dignity, and perfection, the Perfect Being must have, in an infinite degree, that disinterested tenderness, that Charity, the Supreme Virtue of the human person. There is in God an infinite tenderness for His creatures, manifested in His giving us existence, which He might have withheld; and every day it appears in innumerable marks of His Divine Providence.

Plato well understood that love of God, and expresses it in these great words: "Let us speak of the cause which led the Supreme Arranger of the Universe to produce and regulate that Universe. He was good; and he who is good has no kind of ill-will. Exempt from that, He willed that created things should be, as far as possible, like Himself." And Christianity in its turn said, "God has so loved men that He has given them His only Son."

Page 705

It is not correct to affirm, as is often done, that Christianity has in some sort discovered this noble sentiment. We must not lower human nature, to raise Christianity. Antiquity knew, described, and practised charity; the first feature of which, so touching, and thank God! so common, is goodness, as its loftiest one is heroism. Charity is devotion to another; and it is ridiculously senseless to pretend that there ever was an age of the world, when the human soul was deprived of that part of its heritage, the power of devotion. But it is certain that Christianity has diffused and popularized this virtue, and that, before Christ, these words were never spoken: "LOVE ONE ANOTHER; FOR THAT IS THE WHOLE LAW." Charity presupposes Justice. He who truly loves his brother respects the rights of his brother; but he does more, he forgets his own. Egoism sells or takes. Love delights in giving. In God, love is what it is in us; but in an infinite degree. God is inexhaustible in His charity, as He is inexhaustible in His essence. That Infinite Omnipotence and Infinite Charity, which, by an admirable good-will, draws from the bosom of its immense love the favors which it incessantly bestows on the world and on humanity, teaches us that the more we give, the more we possess.

God being all just and all good, He can will nothing but what is good and just. Being Omnipotent, whatever He wills He can do, and consequently does. The world is the work of God: it is therefore perfectly made.

Yet there is disorder in the world, that seems to impugn the justice and goodness of God.

A principle indissolubly connected with the very idea of good, tells us that every moral agent deserves reward when he does well, and punishment when he does ill. This principle is universal and necessary. It is absolute. If it does not apply in this world, it is false, or the world is badly ordered.

But good actions are not always followed by happiness, nor evil ones by misery. Though often this fact is more apparent than real; though virtue, a war against the passions, full of dignity but full of sorrow and pain, has the latter as its condition, yet the pains that follow vice are greater; and virtue conduces most to health, strength, and long life; – though the peaceful conscience that accompanies virtue creates internal happiness; though public opinion generally decides correctly on men's characters, and rewards virtue with esteem and consideration, and vice with con-tempt and infamy; and though, after all, justice reigns in the world, and the surest road to happiness is still that of virtue, yet there are exceptions. Virtue is not always rewarded, nor vice punished, in this life.

Page 706

The data of this problem are these: 1st. The principle of merit and demerit within us is absolute: every good action ought to be rewarded, every bad one punished: 2d. God is just as He is all-powerful: 3d. There are in this world particular cases, contradicting the necessary and universal law of merit and demerit. What is the result?

To reject the two principles, that God is just, and the law of merit and demerit absolute, is to raze to the foundations the whole edifice of human faith.

To maintain them, is to admit that the present life is to be terminated or continued elsewhere. The moral person who acts well or ill, and awaits reward or punishment, is connected with a body, lives with it, makes use of it, depends upon it in a measure, but is not it. The body is composed of parts. It diminishes or increases, it is divisible even to infinity. But this something which has a consciousness of itself, and says "I, ME"; that feels itself free and responsible, feels too that it is incapable of division, that it is a being one and simple; that the ME cannot be halved, that if a limb is cut off and thrown away, no part of the ME goes with it: that it remains identical with itself under the variety of phenomena which successively manifest it. This identity, indivisibility, and absolute unity of the person, are its spirituality, the very essence of the person. It is not in the least an hypothesis to affirm that the soul differs essentially from the body. By the soul we mean the person, not separated from the consciousness of the attributes which constitute it, – thought and will. The Existence without consciousness is an abstract being, and not a person. It is the person, that is identical, one, simple. Its attributes, developing it, do not divide it. Indivisible, it is indissoluble, and may be immortal. If absolute justice requires this immortality, it does not require what is impossible. The spirituality of the soul is the condition and necessary foundation of immortality: the law of merit and demerit the direct demonstration of it. The first is the metaphysical, the second the moral proof. Add to these the tendency of all the powers of the soul toward the Infinite, and the principle of final causes, and the proof of the immortality of the soul is complete.

Page 707

God, therefore, in the Masonic creed, is INFINITE TRUTH, INFINITE BEAUTY, INFINITE GOODNESS. He is the Holy of Holies, as Author of the Moral Law, as the PRINCIPLE of Liberty, of Justice, and of Charity, Dispenser of Reward and Punishment. Such a God is not an abstract God; but an intelligent and free person, Who has made us in His image, from Whom we receive the law that presides over our destiny, and Whose judgment we await. It is His love that inspires us in our acts of charity: it is His justice that governs our justice, and that of society and the laws. We continually remind ourselves that He is infinite; because otherwise we should degrade His nature: but He would be for us as if He were not, if His infinite nature had not forms inherent in ourselves, the forms of our own reason and soul.

When we love Truth, Justice, and Nobility of Soul, we should know that it is God we love underneath these special forms, and should unite them all into one great act of total piety. We should feel that we go in and out continually in the midst of the vast forces of the Universe, which are only the Forces of God; that in our studies, when we attain a truth, we confront the thought of God; when we learn the right, we learn the will of God laid down as a rule of conduct for the Universe; and when we feel disinterested love, we should know that we partake the feeling of the Infinite God. Then, when we reverence the mighty cosmic force, it will not be a blind Fate in an Atheistic or Pantheistic world, but the Infinite God, that we shall confront and feel and know. Then we shall be mindful of the mind of God, conscious of God's conscience, sensible of His sentiments, and our own existence will be in the infinite being of God.

The world is a whole, which has its harmony; for a God who is One, could make none but a complete and harmonious work. The harmony of the Universe responds to the unity of God, as the indefinite quantity is the defective sign of the infinitude of God. To say that the Universe is God, is to admit the world only, and deny God. Give it what name you please, it is atheism at bottom. On the other hand, to suppose that the Universe is void of God, and that He is wholly apart from it, is an insupportable and al-most impossible abstraction. To distinguish is not to separate. I distinguish, but do not separate myself from my qualities and effects. So God is not the Universe, although He is everywhere present in spirit and in truth.

Page 708

To us, as to Plato, absolute truth is in God. It is God Himself under one of His phases. In God, as their original, are the immutable principles of reality and cognizance. In Him things receive at once their existence and their intelligibility. It is by participating in the Divine reason that our own reason possesses something of the Absolute. Every judgment of reason envelopes a necessary truth, and every necessary truth supposes the necessary Existence.

Thus, from every direction, – from metaphysics, æsthetics, and morality above all, we rise to the same Principle, the common centre, and ultimate foundation of all truth, all beauty, all good. The True, the Beautiful, the Good, are but diverse revelations of one and the same Being. Thus we reach the threshold of religion, and are in communion with the great philosophies which all proclaim a God; and at the same time with the religions which cover the earth, and all repose on the sacred foundation of natural religion; of that religion which reveals to us the natural light given to all men, without the aid of a particular revelation. So long as philosophy does not arrive at religion, it is below all worships, even the most imperfect; for they at least give man a Father, a Witness, a Consoler, a Judge. By religion, philosophy connects itself with humanity, which, from one end of the world to the other, aspires to God, believes in God, hopes in God. Philosophy contains in itself the common basis of all religious beliefs; it, as it were, borrows from them their principle, and returns it to them surrounded with light, elevated above uncertainty, secure against all attack.

From the necessity of His Nature, the Infinite Being must create and preserve the Finite, and to the Finite must, in its forms, give and communicate of His own kind. We cannot conceive of any finite thing existing without God, the Infinite basis and ground thereof; nor of God existing without something. God is the necessary logical condition of a world, its necessitating cause; a world, the necessary logical condition of God, His necessitated consequence. It is according to His Infinite Perfection to create, and then to preserve and bless whatever He creates. That is the conclusion of modern metaphysical science. The stream of philosophy runs down from Aristotle to Hegel, and breaks off with this conclusion: and then again recurs the ancient difficulty. If it be of His nature to create, – if we cannot conceive of His existing alone, without creating, without having created, then what He created was co-existent with Himself. If He could exist an instant without creating, He could as well do so for a myriad of eternities. And so again comes round to us the old doctrine of a God, the Soul of the Universe, and co-existent with it. For what He created had abeginning; and however long since that creation occurred, an eternity had before elapsed. The difference between a beginning and no beginning is infinite.

Page 709

But of some things we can be certain. We are conscious of ourselves – of ourselves if not as substances, at least as Powers to be, to do, to suffer. We are conscious of ourselves not as self-originated at all or as self-sustained alone; but only as dependent, first for existence, ever since for support.

Among the primary ideas of consciousness, that are inseparable from it, the atoms of self-consciousness, we find the idea of God. Carefully examined by the scrutinizing intellect, it is the idea of God as infinite, perfectly powerful, wise, just, loving, holy; absolute being with no limitation. This made us, made all, sustains us, sustains all; made our body, not by a single act, but by a series of acts extending over a vast succession of years, – for man's body is the resultant of all created things, – made our spirit, our mind, conscience, affections, soul, will, appointed for each its natural mode of action, set each at its several aim. Thus self-consciousness leads us to consciousness of God, and at last to consciousness of an infinite God. That is the highest evidence of our own existence, and it is the highest evidence of His.

If there is a God at all, He must be omnipresent in space. Beyond the last Stars He must be, as He is here. There can be no mote that peoples the sunbeams, no little cell of life that the microscope discovers in the seed-sporule of a moss, but He is there.

He must also be omnipresent in time. There was no second of time before the Stars began to burn, but God was in that second. In the most distant nebulous spot in Orion's belt, and in every one of the millions that people a square inch of limestone, God is alike present. He is in the smallest imaginable or even unimaginable portion of time, and in every second of its most vast and unimaginable volume; His Here conterminous with the All of Space, His Now coeval with the All of Time.

Page 710

Through all this Space, in all this Time, His Being extends, spreads undivided, operates unspent; God in all His infinity, perfectly powerful, wise, just, loving, and holy. His being is an infinite activity, a creating, and so a giving of Himself to the World. The World's being is a becoming, a being created and continued. It is so now, and was so, incalculable and unimaginable millions of ages ago.

All this is philosophy, the unavoidable conclusion of the human mind. It is not the opinion of Coleridge and Kant, but their science; not what they guess, but what they know.

In virtue of this in-dwelling of God in matter, we say that the world is a revelation of Him, its existence a show of His. He is in His work. The manifold action of the Universe is only His mode of operation, and all material things are in communion with Him. All grow and move and live in Him, and by means of Him, and only so. Let Him withdraw from the space occupied by anything, and it ceases to be. Let Him withdraw any quality of His nature from anything, and it ceases to be. All must partake of Him, He dwelling in each, and yet transcending all.

The failure of fanciful religion to become philosophy, does not preclude philosophy from coinciding with true religion. Philosophy, or rather its object, the divine order of the Universe, is the intellectual guide which the religious sentiment needs; while exploring the real relations of the finite, it obtains a constantly improving and self-correcting measure of the perfect law of the Gospel of Love and Liberty, and a means of carrying into effect the spiritualism of revealed religion. It establishes law, by ascertaining its terms; it guides the spirit to see its way to the amelioration of life and the increase of happiness. While religion was stationary, science could not walk alone; when both are admitted to be progressive, their interests and aims become identified. Aristotle began to show how religion may be founded on an intellectual basis; but the basis he laid was too narrow. Bacon, by giving to philosophy a definite aim and method, gave it at the same time a safer and self-enlarging basis. Our position is that of intellectual beings surrounded by limitations; and the latter being constant, have to intelligence the practical value of laws, in whose investigation and application consists that seemingly endless career of intellectual and moral progress which the sentiment of religion inspires and ennobles. The title of Saint has commonly been claimed for those whose boast it has been to despise philosophy; yet faith will stumble and sentiment mislead, unless knowledge be present, in amount and quality sufficient to purify the one and to give beneficial direction to the other.

Page 711

Science consists of those matured inferences from experience which all other experience confirms. It is no fixed system superior to revision, but that progressive mediation between ignorance and wisdom in part conceived by Plato, whose immediate object is happiness, and its impulse the highest kind of love. Science realizes and unites all that was truly valuable in both the old schemes of mediation; the heroic, or system of action and effort; and the mystical theory of spiritual, contemplative communion. "Listen to me," says Galen, "as to the voice of the Eleusinian Hierophant, and believe that the study of nature is a mystery no less important than theirs, nor less adapted to display the wisdom and power of the Great Creator. Their lessons and demonstrations were obscure, but ours are clear and unmistakable."

To science we owe it that no man is any longer entitled to consider himself the central point around which the whole Universe of life and motion revolves – the immensely important individual for whose convenience and even luxurious ease and indulgence the whole Universe was made. On one side it has shown us an infinite Universe of stars and suns and worlds at incalculable distances from each other, in whose majestic and awful presence we sink and even our world sinks into insignificance; while, on the other side, the microscope has placed us in communication with new worlds of organized livings beings, gifted with senses, nerves, appetites, and instincts, in every tear and in every drop of putrid water.

Thus science teaches us that we are but an infinitesimal portion of a great whole, that stretches out on every side of us, and above and below us, infinite in its complications, and which infinite wisdom alone .can comprehend. Infinite wisdom has arranged the infinite succession of beings, involving the necessity of birth, decay, and death, and made the loftiest virtues possible by providing those conflicts, reverses, trials, and hardships, without which even their names could never have been invented.

Page 712

Knowledge is convertible into power, and axioms into rules of utility and duty. Modern science is social and communicative. It is moral as well as intellectual; powerful, yet pacific and disinterested; binding man to man as well as to the Universe; filling up the details of obligation, and cherishing impulses of virtue, and, by affording clear proof of the consistency and identity of all interests, substituting co-operation for rivalry, liberality for jealousy, and tending far more powerfully than any other means to realize the spirit of religion, by healing those inveterate disorders which, traced to their real origin, will be found rooted in an ignorant assumption as to the penurious severity of Providence, and the consequent greed of selfish men to confine what seemed as if extorted from it to themselves, or to steal from each other rather than quietly to enjoy their own.

We shall probably never reach those higher forms containing the true differences of things, involving the full discovery and correct expression of their very self or essence. We shall ever fall short of the most general and most simple nature, the ultimate or most comprehensive law. Our widest axioms explain many phenomena, but so too in a degree did the principles or elements of the old philosophers, and the cycles and epicycles of ancient astronomy. We cannot in any case of causation assign the whole of the conditions, nor though we may reproduce them in practice, can we mentally distinguish them all, without knowing the essences of the things including them; and we therefore must not unconsciously ascribe that absolute certainty to axioms, which the ancient religionists did to creeds, nor allow the mind, which ever strives to insulate itself and its acquisitions, to forget the nature of the process by which it substituted scientific for common notions, and so with one as with the other lay the basis of self-deception by a pedantic and superstitious employment of them.

Doubt, the essential preliminary of all improvement and discovery, must accompany all the stages of man's onward progress. His intellectual life is a perpetual beginning, a preparation for a birth. The faculty of doubting and questioning, without which those of comparison and judgment would be useless, is itself a divine prerogative of the reason. Knowledge is always imperfect, or complete only in a prospectively boundless career, in which discovery multiplies doubt, and doubt leads on to new discovery. The boast of science is not so much its manifested results, as its admitted imperfection and capacity of unlimited progress. The true religious philosophy of an imperfect being is not a system of creed, but, as Socrates thought, an infinite search or approximation. Finality is but another name for bewilderment or defeat. Science gratifies the religious feeling without arresting it, and opens out the unfathomable mystery of the One Supreme into more explicit and manageable Forms, which express not indeed His Essence, which is wholly beyond our reach and higher than our faculties can climb, but His Will, and so feeds an endless enthusiasm by accumulating forever new objects of pursuit. We have long experienced that knowledge is profitable, we are beginning to find out that it is moral, and we shall at last discover it to be religious.

Page 713

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.

Page 714

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.

Page 715

If to-morrow I am to perish utterly, then I shall only take counsel for to-day, and ask for qualities which last no longer. My fathers will be to me only as the ground out of which my bread-corn is grown; dead, they are but the rotten mould of earth, their memory of small concern to me. Posterity! – I shall care nothing for the future generations of mankind! I am one atom in the trunk of a tree, and care nothing for the roots below, or the branch above. I shall sow such seed only as will bear harvest to-day. Passion may enact my statutes to-day, and ambition repeal them to-morrow. I will know no other legislators. Morality will vanish, and expediency take its place. Heroism will be gone; and instead of it there will be the savage ferocity of the he-wolf, the brute cunning of the she-fox, the rapacity of the vulture, and the headlong daring of the wild bull; but no longer the cool, calm courage that, for truth's sake, and for love's sake, looks death firmly in the face, and then wheels into line ready to be slain. Affection, friendship, philanthropy, will be but the wild fancies of the monomaniac, fit subjects for smiles or laughter or for pity.

But knowing that we shall live forever, and that the Infinite God loves all of us, we can look on all the evils of the world, and see that it is only the hour before sunrise, and that the light is coming; and so we also, even we, may light a little taper, to illuminate the darkness while it lasts, and help until the day-spring come. Eternal morning follows the night: a rainbow scarfs the shoulders of every cloud that weeps its rain away to be flowers on land and pearls at sea: Life rises out of the grave, the soul cannot be held by fettering flesh. No dawn is hopeless; and disaster is only the threshold of delight.

Beautifully, above the great wide chaos of human errors, shines the calm, clear light of natural human religion, revealing to us God as the Infinite Parent of all, perfectly powerful, wise, just, loving, and perfectly holy too. Beautiful around stretches off every way the Universe, the Great Bible of God. Material nature is its Old Testament, millions of years old, thick with eternal truths under our feet, glittering with everlasting glories over our heads; and Human Nature is the New Testament from the Infinite God, every day revealing a new page as Time turns over the leaves. Immortality stands waiting to give a recompense for every virtue not rewarded, for every tear not wiped away, for every sorrow undeserved, for every prayer, for every pure intention and emotion of the heart. And over the whole, over Nature, Material and Human, over this Mortal Life and over the eternal Past and Future, the infinite Loving-kindness of God the Father comes enfolding all and blessing everything that ever was, that is, that ever shall be.

Page 716

Everything is a thought of the Infinite God. Nature is His prose, and man His Poetry. There is no Chance, no Fate; but God's Great Providence, enfolding the whole Universe in its bosom, and feeding it with everlasting life. In times past there has been evil which we cannot understand; now there are evils which we cannot solve, nor make square with God's perfect goodness by any theory our feeble intellect enables us to frame. There are sufferings, follies, and sins for all mankind, for every nation, for every man and every woman. They were all foreseen by the infinite wisdom of God, all provided for by His infinite power and justice, and all are consistent with His infinite love. To believe otherwise would be to believe that He made the world, to amuse His idle hours with the follies and agonies of mankind, as Domitian was wont to do with the wrigglings and contortions of insect agonies. Then indeed we might despairingly unite in that horrible utterance of Heine: "Alas, God's Satire weighs heavily on me! The Great Author of the Universe, the Aristophanes of Heaven, is bent on demonstrating, with crushing force, to me, the little, earthly, German Aristophanes, how my wittiest sarcasms are only pitiful attempts at jesting, in comparison with His, and how miserably I am beneath Him, in humor, in colossal mockery."

No, no! God is not thus amused with and prodigal of human suffering. The world is neither a Here without a Hereafter, a body without a soul, a chaos with no God; nor a body blasted by a soul, a Here with a worse Hereafter, a world with a God that hates more than half the creatures He has made. There is no Savage, Revengeful, and Evil God: but there is an Infinite God, seen everywhere as Perfect Cause, everywhere as Perfect Providence, transcending all, yet in-dwelling everywhere, with perfect power, wisdom, justice, holiness, and love, providing for the future welfare of each and all, foreseeing and forecaring for every bubble that breaks on the great stream of human life and human history.

The end of man and the object of existence in this world, being not only happiness, but happiness in virtue and through virtue, virtue in this world is the condition of happiness in another life, and the condition of virtue in this world is suffering, more or less frequent, briefer or longer continued, more or less intense. Take away suffering, and there is no longer any resignation or humanity, no more self-sacrifice, no more devotedness, no more heroic virtues, no more sublime morality. We are subjected to suffering, both because we are sensible, and because we ought to be virtuous. If there were no physical evil, there would be no possible virtue, and the world would be badly adapted to the destiny of man. The apparent disorders of the physical world, and the evils that result from them, are not disorders and evils that occur despite the power and goodness of God. God not only allows, but wills them. It is His will that there shall be in the physical world causes enough of pain for man, to afford him occasions for resignation and courage.

Page 717

Whatever is favorable to virtue, whatever gives the moral liberty more energy, whatever can serve the greater moral development of the human race, is good. Suffering is not the worst condition of man on earth. The worst condition is the moral brutalization which the absence of physical evil would engender.

External or internal physical evil connects itself with the object of existence, which is to accomplish the moral law here below, whatever the consequences, with the firm hope that virtue unfortunate will not fail to be rewarded in another life. The moral law has its sanction and its reason in itself. It owes nothing to that law of merit and demerit that accompanies it, but is not its basis. But, though the principle of merit and demerit ought not to be the determining principle of virtuous action, it powerfully concurs with the moral law, because it offers virtue a legitimate ground of consolation and hope.

Morality is the recognition of duty, as duty, and its accomplishment, whatever the consequences.

Religion is the recognition of duty in its necessary harmony with goodness; a harmony that must have its realization in another life, through the justice and omnipotence of God.

Religion is as true as morality; for once morality is admitted, its consequences must be admitted.

The whole moral existence is included in these two words, harmonious with each other: DUTY and HOPE.

Masonry teaches that God is infinitely good. What motive, what reason, and, morally speaking, what possibility can there be to Infinite Power and Infinite Wisdom, to be anything but good? Our very sorrows, proclaiming the loss of objects inexpressibly dear to us, demonstrate His Goodness. The Being that made us intelligent cannot Himself be without intelligence; and He Who has made us so to love and to sorrow for what we love, must number love for the creatures He has made, among His infinite attributes. Amid all our sorrows, we take refuge in the assurance that He loves us; that He does not capriciously, or through indifference, and still less in mere anger, grieve and afflict us; that He chastens us, in order that by His chastisements, which are by His universal law only the consequences of our acts, we may be profited; and that He could not show so much love for His creatures, by leaving them unchastened, untried, undisciplined. We have faith in the Infinite; faith in God's Infinite Love; and it is that faith that must save us.

Page 718

No dispensations of God's Providence, no suffering or bereavement is a messenger of wrath: none of its circumstances are indications of God's Anger. He is incapable of Anger; higher above any such feelings than the distant stars are above the earth. Bad men do not die because God hates them. They die because it is best for them that they should do so; and, bad as they are, it is better for them to be in the hands of the infinitely good God, than anywhere else.

Darkness and gloom lie upon the paths of men. They stumble at difficulties, are ensnared by temptations, and perplexed by trouble. They are anxious, and troubled, and fearful. Pain and affliction and sorrow often gather around the steps of their earthly pilgrimage. All this is written indelibly upon the tablets of the human heart. It is not to be erased; but Masonry sees and reads it in a new light. It does not expect these ills and trials and sufferings to be removed from life; but that the great truth will at some time be believed by all men, that they are the means, selected by infinite wisdom, to purify the heart, and to invigorate the soul whose inheritance is immortality, and the world its school.

Continue Part (c)

— ~~ooOoo~~ —

Return to Top

Return to Index

— ~~ooOoo~~ —

Scanned at sacred-texts.com, January-February 2005. Proofed by John Bruno Hare. This text is in the public domain in the US because it was published prior to 1922. These files may be used for any non-commercial purpose, provided this notice of attribution is left intact in all copies.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License