of passion and the source of worlds. Love became the universal parent, when the Deity, before remote and inscrutable, became ideally separated into the loving and the beloved.
And here again recurs the ancient difficulty; that, at whatever early period this creation occurred, an eternity had previously elapsed, during which God, dwelling alone in His unimpeached unity, had no object for His love; and that the very word implies to us an existing object toward which the love is directed; so that we cannot conceive of love in the absence of any object to be loved; and therefore we again return to this point, that if love is of God’s essence, and He is unchangeable, the same necessity of His nature, supposed to have caused creation, must ever have made His existence without an object to love impossible: and so that the Universe must have been co-existent with Himself.
The questions how and why evil exists in the Universe: how its existence is to be reconciled with the admitted wisdom and goodness and omnipotence of God; and how far man is a free agent, or controlled by an inexorable necessity or destiny, have two sides. On one, they are questions as to the qualities and attributes of Got; for we must infer His moral nature from His mode of governing the Universe, and they ever enter into any consideration of His intellectual nature: and on the other, they directly concern the moral responsibility, and therefore the destiny, of man. All-important, therefore, in both points of view, they have been much discussed in all ages of the world, and have no doubt urged men, more than all other questions have, to endeavor to fathom the profound mysteries of the Nature and the mode of Existence and action of an incomprehensible God.
And, with these, still another question also presents itself: whether the Deity governs the Universe by fixed and unalterable laws, or by special Providences and interferences, so that He may be induced to change His course and the results of human or material action, by prayer and supplication.
God alone is all-powerful; but the human soul has in all ages asserted its claim to be considered as part of the Divine. “The purity of the spirit,” says Van Helmont, “is shown through energy and efficaciousness of will. God, by the agency of an infinite will, created the Universe, and the same sort of power in an inferior degree, limited more or less by external hindrances, exists in all spiritual beings.” The higher we ascend in antiquity, the more does prayer take the form of incantation; and that form it still in a great degree retains, since the rites of public worship are generally considered not merely as an expression of trust or reverence, as real spiritual acts, the effect of which is looked for only within the mind of the worshipper, but as acts from which some direct outward result is anticipated, the attainment of some desired object, of health or wealth, of supernatural gifts for body or soul, of exemption from danger, or vengeance upon enemies. Prayer was able to change the purposes of Heaven, and to make the Devs tremble under the abyss. It exercised a compulsory influence over the gods. It promoted the magnetic sympathy of spirit with spirit; and the Hindu_ and Persian liturgies, addressed not only to the Deity Himself, but to His diversified manifestations, were considered wholesome and necessary iterations of the living or creative Word which at first effectuated the divine will, and which from instant to instant supports the universal frame by its eternal repetition.
In the narrative of the Fall we have the Hebrew mode of explaining the great moral mystery, the origin of evil and the apparent estrangement from Heaven; and a similar idea, variously modified, obtained in all the ancient creeds. Everywhere, man had at the beginning been innocent and happy, and had lapsed, by temptation and his own weakness, from his first estate. Thus was accounted for the presumed connection of increase of knowledge with increase of misery, and, in particular, the great penalty of death was reconciled with Divine Justice. Subordinate to these greater points were the questions, Why is the earth covered with thorns and weeds? whence the origin of clothing, of sexual shame and passion? whence the infliction of labor, and how to justify the degraded condition of woman in the East, or account for the loathing so generally felt toward the Serpent Tribe?
The hypothesis of a fall, required under some of its modifications in all systems, to account for the apparent imperfection in the work of a Perfect Being, was, in Eastern philosophy, the unavoidable accompaniment and condition of limited or individual existence; since the Soul, considered as a fragment of the Universal Mind, might be said to have lapsed from its pre-eminence when parted from its source, and ceasing to form part of integral perfection. The theory of its reunion was correspondent to the assumed cause of its degradation. To reach its prior condition, its individuality must cease; it must be emancipated by re-absorption into the Infinite, the consummation of all things in God, to be promoted by human effort in spiritual meditation or self-mortification, and completed in the magical transformation of death.
And as man had fallen, so it was held that the Angels of Evil had, from their first estate, to which, like men, they were, in God’s good time, to be restored, and the reign of evil was then to cease forever. To this great result all the Ancient Theologies point; and thus they all endeavored to reconcile the existence of Sin and Evil with the perfect and undeniable wisdom and beneficence of God.
With man’s exercise of thought are inseparably connected freedom and responsibility. Man assumes his proper rank as a moral agent, when with a sense of the limitations of his nature arise the consciousness of freedom, and of the obligations accompanying its exercise, the sense of duty and of the capacity to perform it. To suppose that man ever imagined himself not to be a free agent until he had argued himself into that belief, would be to suppose that he was in that below the brutes; for he, like them, is conscious of his freedom to act. Experience alone teaches him that this freedom of action is limited and controlled; and when what is outward to him restrains and limits this freedom of action, he instinctively rebels against it as a wrong. The rule of duty and the materials of experience are derived from an acquaintance with the conditions of the external world, in which the faculties are exerted; and thus the problem of man involves those of Nature and God. Our freedom, we learn by experience, is determined by an agency external to us; our happiness is intimately dependent on the relations of the outward World, and on the moral character of its Ruler.
Then at once arises this problem: The God of Nature must be One, and His character cannot be suspected to be other than good. Whence, then, came the evil, the consciousness of which must invariably have preceded or accompanied man’s moral development? On this subject human opinion has ebbed and flowed between two contradictory extremes, one of which seems inconsistent with God’s Omnipotence, and the other with His beneficence. If God, it was said, is perfectly wise and good, evil must arise from some independent and hostile principle: if, on the other hand, all agencies are subordinate to One, it is difficult, if evil does indeed exist, if there is any such thing as Evil, to avoid the impiety of making God the Author of it.
The recognition of a moral and physical dualism in nature was adverse to the doctrine of Divine Unity. Many of the Ancients thought it absurd to imagine one Supreme Being, like Homer’s Jove, distributing good and evil out of two urns. They therefore substituted, as we have seen, the doctrine of two distinct and eternal principles; some making the cause of evil to be the inherent imperfection of matter and the flesh, without explaining how God was not the cause of that; while others personified the required agency, and fancifully invented an Evil Principle, the question of whose origin indeed involved all the difficulty of the original problem, but whose existence, if once taken for granted, was sufficient as a popular solution of the mystery; the difficulty being supposed no longer to exist when pushed a step further off, as the difficulty of conceiving the world upheld by an elephant was supposed to be got rid of when it was said that the elephant was supported by a tortoise.
The simpler, and probably the older, notion, treated the one only God as the Author of all things. “I form the light,” says Jehovah, “and create darkness; I cause prosperity and create evil; I, the Lord, do all these things.” “All mankind,” says Maximus Tyrius, “are agreed that there exists one only Universal King and Father, and that the many gods are His Children.” There is nothing improbable in the supposition that the primitive idea was that there was but one God. A vague sense of Nature’s Unity, blended with a dim perception of an all-pervading Spiritual Essence, has been remarked among the earliest manifestations of the Human Mind. Everywhere it was the dim remembrance, uncertain and indefinite, of the original truth taught by God to the first men.
The Deity of the Old Testament is everywhere represented as the direct author of Evil, commissioning evil and lying spirits to men, hardening the heart of Pharaoh, and visiting the iniquity of the individual sinner on the whole people. The rude conception of sternness predominating over mercy in the Deity, can alone account for the human sacrifices, purposed, if not executed, by Abraham and Jephthah. It has not been uncommon, in any age or country of the world, for men to recognize the existence of one God, without forming any becoming estimate of His dignity. The causes of both good and ill are referred to a mysterious centre, to which each assigns such attributes as correspond with his own intellect and advance in civilization. Hence the assignment to the Deity of the feelings of envy and jealousy. Hence the provocation given by the healing skill of Æsculapius and the humane theft of fire by Prometheus. The very spirit of Nature, personified in Orpheus, Tantalus, or Phineus was supposed to have been killed, confined, or blinded, for having too freely divulged the Divine Mysteries to mankind. This Divine Envy still exists in a modified form, and varies according to circumstances. In Hesiod it appears in the lowest type of human malignity. In the God of Moses, it is jealousy of the infringement of the autocratic power, the check to political treason; and even the penalties denounced for worshipping other gods often seem dictated rather by a jealous regard for His own greatness in Deity, than by the immorality and degraded nature of the worship itself. In Herodotus and other writers it assumes a more philosophical shape, as a strict adherence to a moral equilibrium in the government of the world, in the punishment of pride, arrogance, and insolent pretension.
God acts providentially in Nature by regular and universal laws, by constant modes of operation; and so takes care of material things without violating their constitution, acting always according to the nature of the things which He has made. It is a fact of observation that, in the material and unconscious world, He works by its materiality and unconsciousness, not against them; in the animal world, by its animality and partial consciousness, not against them. So in the providential government of the world, He acts by regular and universal laws, and constant modes of operation; and so takes care of human things without violating their constitution, acting always according to the human nature of man, not against if, working in the human world by means of man’s consciousness and partial freedom, not against them.
God acts by general laws for general purposes. The attraction of gravitation is a good thing, for it keeps the world together; and if the tower of Siloam, thereby falling to the ground, slays eighteen men of Jerusalem, that number is too small to think of, considering the myriad millions who are upheld by the same law. It could not well be repealed for their sake, and to hold up that tower; nor could it remain in force, and the tower stand.
It is difficult to conceive of a Perfect Will without confounding it with something like mechanism; since language has no name for that combination of the Inexorable with the Moral, which the old poets personified separately in Ananke or Eimarmene and Zeus. How combine understandingly the Perfect Freedom of the Supreme and All-Sovereign Will of God with the inflexible necessity, as part of His Essence, that He should and must continue to be, in all His great attributes, of justice and mercy for example, what He is now and always has been, and with the impossibility of His changing His nature and becoming unjust, merciless, cruel, fickle, or of His repealing the great moral laws which make crime wrong and the practice of virtue right?
For all that we familiarly know of Free-Will is that capricious exercise of it which we experience in ourselves and other men; and therefore the notion of Supreme Will, still guided by Infallible Law, even if that law be self-imposed, is always in danger of being either stripped of the essential quality of Freedom, or degraded under the ill-name of Necessity to something of even less moral and intellectual dignity than the fluctuating course of human operations.
It is not until we elevate the idea of law above that of partiality or tyranny, that we discover that the self-imposed limitations of the Supreme Cause, constituting an array of certain alternatives, regulating moral choice, are the very sources and safeguards of human freedom; and the doubt recurs, whether we do not set a law above God Himself; or whether laws self-imposed may not be self-repealed: and if not, what power prevents it.
The Zeus of Homer, like that of Hesiod, is an array of antitheses, combining strength with weakness, wisdom with folly, universal parentage with narrow family limitation, omnipotent control over events with submission to a superior destiny;-DESTINY, a name by means of which the theological problem was cast back into the original obscurity out of which the powers of the human mind have proved themselves as incapable of rescuing it, as the efforts of a fly caught in a spider’s web to do more than increase its entanglement.
The oldest notion of Deity was rather indefinite than repulsive. The positive degradation was of later growth. The God of nature reflects the changeful character of the seasons, varying from dark to bright. Alternately angry and serene, and lavishing abundance which she again withdraws, nature seems inexplicably capricious, and though capable of responding to the highest requirements of the moral sentiment through a general comprehension of her mysteries, more liable by a partial or hasty view to become darkened into a Siva, a Saturn, or a Mexitli, a patron of fierce orgies or blood-stained altars. All the older poetical personifications exhibit traces of this ambiguity. They are neither wholly immoral nor purely beneficent.
No people have ever deliberately made their Deity a malevolent or guilty Being. The simple piety which ascribed the origin of all things to God, took all in good part, trusting and hoping all things. The Supreme Ruler was at first looked up to with unquestioning reverence. No startling discords or contradictions had yet raised a doubt as to His beneficence, or made men dissatisfied with His government. Fear might cause anxiety, but could not banish hope, still less inspire aversion. It was only later, when abstract notions began to assume the semblance of realities, and when new or more distinct ideas suggested new words for their expression, that it became necessary to fix a definite barrier between Evil and Good.
To account for moral evil, it became necessary to devise some new expedient suited both to the piety and self-complacency of the inventor, such as the perversity of woman, or an agent distinct from God, a Typhon or Ahriman, obtained either by dividing the Gods into two classes, or by dethroning the Ancient Divinity, and changing him into a Dev or Dæmon. Through a similar want, the Orientals devised the inherent corruption of the fleshy and material; the Hebrew transferred to Satan everything illegal and immoral; and the Greek reflection, occasionally adopting the older and truer view, retorted upon man the obloquy cast on these creatures of his imagination, and showed how he has to thank himself alone for his calamities, while his good things are the voluntary gifts, not the plunder of Heaven. Homer had already made Zeus exclaim, in the Assembly of Olympus, “Grievous it is to hear these mortals accuse the Gods; they pretend that evils come from us; but they themselves occasion them gratuitously by their own wanton folly.” “It is the fault of man,” said Solon; in reference to the social evils of his day, “not of God, that destruction comes;” and Euripides, after a formal discussion of the origin of evil, comes to the conclusion that men act wrongly, not from want of natural good sense and feeling, but because knowing what is good, they yet for various reasons neglect to practise it.
And at last reaching the highest truth, Pindar, Hesiod, Æschylus, Æsop, and Horace said, “All virtue is a struggle; life is not a scene of repose, but of energetic action. Suffering is but another name for the teaching of experience, appointed by Zeus himself, the giver of all understanding, to be the parent of instruction, the schoolmaster of life. He indeed put an end to the golden age; he gave venom to serpents and predacity to wolves; he shook the honey from the leaf, and stopped the flow of wine in the rivulets; he concealed the element of fire, and made the means of life scanty and precarious. But in all this his object was beneficent; it was not to destroy life, but to improve it. It was a blessing to man, not a curse, to be sentenced to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow; for nothing great or excellent is attainable without exertion; safe and easy virtues are prized neither by gods nor men; and the parsimoniousness of nature is justified by its powerful effect in rousing the dormant faculties, and forcing on mankind the invention of useful arts by means of meditation and thought.”
Ancient religious reformers pronounced the worship of “idols” to be the root of all evil; and there have been many iconoclasts in different ages of the world. The maxim still holds good; for the worship of idols, that is, of fanciful conceits, if not the source of all evil, is still the cause of much; and it prevails as extensively now as it ever did. Men are ever engaged in worshipping the picturesque fancies of their own imaginations.
Human wisdom must always be limited and incorrect; and even right opinion is only a something intermediate between ignorance and knowledge. The normal condition of man is that of progress. Philosophy is a kind of journey, ever learning, yet never arriving at the ideal perfection of truth. A Mason should, like the wise Socrates, assume the modest title of a “lover of wisdom”; for he must ever long after something more excellent than he possesses, something still beyond his reach, which he desires to make eternally his own.
Thus the philosophic sentiment came to be associated with the poetical and the religious, under the comprehensive name of Love. Before the birth of Philosophy, Love had received but scanty and inadequate homage. This mightiest and most ancient of gods, coeval with the existence of religion and of the world, had been indeed unconsciously felt, but had neither been worthily honored nor directly celebrated in hymn or pæn. In the old days of ignorance it could scarcely have been recognized. In order that it might exercise its proper influence over religion and philosophy, it was necessary that the God of Nature should cease to be a God of terrors, a personification of mere Power or arbitrary Will, a pure and stern Intelligence, an inflictor of evil, and an unrelenting Judge. The philosophy of Plato, in which this charge became forever established, was emphatically a mediation of Love. With him, the inspiration of Love first kindled the light of arts and imparted them to mankind; and not only the arts of mere existence, but the heavenly art of wisdom, which supports the Universe. It inspires high and generous deeds and noble self-devotion. Without it, neither State nor individual could do anything beautiful or great. Love is our best pilot, confederate, supporter, and saviour; the ornament and governor of all things human and divine; and he with divine harmony forever soothes the minds of men and gods.
Man is capable of a higher Love, which, marrying mind with mind and with the Universe, brings forth all that is noblest in his faculties, and lifts him beyond himself. This higher love is neither mortal nor immortal, but a power intermediate between the human and the Divine, filling up the mighty interval, and binding the Universe together. He is chief of those celestial emissaries who carry to the gods the prayers of men, and bring down to men the gifts of the gods. “He is forever poor, and far from being beautiful as mankind imagine, for he is squalid and withered; he flies low along the ground, is homeless and unsandalled; sleeping without covering before the doors and in the unsheltered streets, and possessing so far his mother’s nature as being ever the companion of want. Yet, sharing also that of his father, he is forever scheming to obtain things good and beautiful; he is fearless, vehement, and strong; always devising some new contrivance; strictly cautious and full of inventive. resource; a philosopher through his whole existence, a powerful enchanter, and a subtle sophist.”
The ideal consummation of Platonic science is the arrival at the contemplation of that of which earth exhibits no express image or adequate similitude, the Supreme Prototype of all beauty, pure and uncontaminated with human intermixture of flesh or color, the Divine Original itself. To one so qualified is given the prerogative of bringing forth not mere images and shadows of virtue, but virtue itself, as having been conversant not with shadows, but with the truth; and having so brought forth and nurtured a progeny of virtue, he becomes the friend of God, and, so far as such a privilege can belong to any human being, immortal.
Socrates believed, like Heraclitus, in a Universal Reason pervading all things and all minds, and consequently revealing itself in ideas. He therefore sought truth in general opinion, and perceived in the communication of mind with mind one of the greatest prerogatives of wisdom and the most powerful means of advancement. He believed true wisdom to be an attainable idea, and that the moral convictions of the mind, those eternal instincts of temperance, conscientiousness, and justice, implanted in it by the gods, could not deceive, if rightly interpreted.
This metaphysical direction given to philosophy ended in visionary extravagance. Having assumed truth to be discover-able in thought, it proceeded to treat thoughts as truths. It thus became an idolatry of notions, which it considered either as phantoms exhaled from objects, or as portions of the divine pre-existent thought; thus creating a mythology of its own, and escaping from one thraldom only to enslave itself afresh. Theories and notions indiscriminately formed and defended are the false gods or “idols” of philosophy. For the word idolon means image, and a false mind-picture of God is as much an idol as a false wooden image of Him. Fearlessly launching into the problem of universal being, the first philosophy attempted to supply a compendious and decisive solution of every doubt. To do this, it was obliged to make the most sweeping assumptions; and as poetry had already filled the vast void between the human and the divine, by personifying its Deity as man, so philosophy bowed down before the supposed reflection of the divine image in the mind of the inquirer, who, in worshipping his own notions, had unconsciously deified himself. Nature thus was enslaved to common notions, and notions very often to words.
By the clashing of incompatible opinions, philosophy was gradually reduced to the ignominious confession of utter incapacity, and found its check or intellectual fall in skepticism. Xenophanes and Heraclitus mournfully acknowledged the unsatisfactory result of all the struggles of philosophy, in the admission of a universality of doubt; and the memorable effort of Socrates to rally the discomfited champions of truth, ended in a similar confession.
The worship of abstractions continued the error which personified Evil or deified Fortune; and when mystical philosophy resigned its place to mystical religion, it changed not its nature, but only its name. The great task remained unperformed, of reducing the outward world and its principles to the dominion of the intellect, and of reconciling the conception of the supreme unalterable power asserted by reason, with the requisitions of human sympathies.
A general idea of purpose and regularity in nature had been suggested by common appearances to the earliest reflection. The ancients perceived a natural order, a divine legislation, from which human institutions were supposed to be derived, laws emblazoned in Heaven, and thence revealed to earth. But the divine law was little more than an analogical inference from human law, taken in the vulgar sense of arbitrary will or partial covenant. It was surmised rather than discovered, and remained unmoral because unintelligible. It mattered little, under the circumstances, whether the Universe were said to be governed by chance or by reason, since the latter, if misunderstood, was virtually one with the former. “Better far,” said Epicurus, “acquiesce in the fables of tradition, than acknowledge the oppressive necessity of the physicists”; and Menander speaks of God, Chance, and Intelligence as undistinguishable. Law unacknowledged goes under the name of Chance: perceived, but not understood, it becomes Necessity. The wisdom of the Stoic was a dogged submission to the arbitrary behests of one; that of the Epicurean an advantage snatched by more or less dexterous management from the equal tyranny of the other.
Ignorance sees nothing necessary, and is self abandoned to a power tyrannical because defined by no rule, and paradoxical because permitting evil, while itself assumed to be unlimited, all-powerful, and perfectly good. A little knowledge, presuming the identification of the Supreme Cause with the inevitable certainty of perfect reason, but omitting the analysis or interpretation of it, leaves the mind chain-bound in the ascetic fatalism of the Stoic. Free-will, coupled with the universal rule of Chance; or Fatalism and Necessity, coupled with Omniscience and fixed and unalterable Law, these are the alternatives, between which the human mind has eternally vacillated. The Supernaturalists, contemplating a Being acting through impulse, though with superhuman wisdom, and considering the best courtier to be the most favored subject, combines contradictory expedients, inconsistently mixing the assertion of free action with the enervating service of petition; while he admits, in the words of a learned archbishop, that “if the production of the things we ask for depend on antecedent, natural, and necessary causes, our desires will be answered no less by the omission than the offering of prayers, which, therefore, are a vain thing.”
The last stage is that in which the religion of action is made legitimate through comprehension of its proper objects and conditions. Man becomes morally free only when both notions, that of Chance and that of incomprehensible Necessity, are displaced by that of Law. Law, as applied to the Universe, means that universal, providential pre-arrangement, whose conditions can be discerned and discretionally acted on by human intelligence. The sense of freedom arises when the individual independence develops itself according to its own laws, without external collisions or hindrance; that of constraint, where it is thwarted or confined by other Natures, or where, by combination of external forces, the individual force is compelled into a new direction. Moral choice would not exist safely, or even at all, unless it were bounded by conditions determining its preferences. Duty supposes a rule both intelligible and certain, since an uncertain rule would be unintelligible, and if unintelligible, there could be no responsibility. No law that is unknown can be obligatory; and that Roman Emperor was justly execrated, who pretended to promulgate his penal laws, by putting them up at such a height that none could read them.
Man commands results, only by selecting among the contingent the pre-ordained results most suited to his purposes. In regard to absolute or divine morality, meaning the final cause or purpose of those comprehensive laws which often seem harsh to the individual, because inflexibly just and impartial to the universal, speculation must take refuge in faith; the immediate and obvious purpose often bearing so small a proportion to a wider and unknown one, as to be relatively absorbed or lost. The rain that, unseasonable to me, ruins my hopes of an abundant crop, does so because it could not otherwise have blessed and prospered the crops of another kind of a whole neighboring district of country. The obvious purpose of a sudden storm of snow, or an unexpected change of wind, exposed to which I lose my life, bears small proportion to the great results which are to flow from that storm or wind over a whole continent. So always, of the good and ill which at first seemed irreconcilable and capriciously distributed, the one holds its ground, the other diminishes by being explained. In a world of a multitude of individuals, a world of action and exertion, a world affording, by the conflict of interests and the clashing of passions, any scope for the exercise of the manly and generous virtues, even Omnipotence cannot make it, that the comfort and convenience of one man alone shall always be consulted.
Thus the educated mind soon begins to appreciate the moral superiority of a system of law over one of capricious interference; and as the jumble of means and ends is brought into more intelligible perspective, partial or seeming good is cheerfully resigned for the disinterested and universal. Self-restraint is found not to imply self-sacrifice. The true meaning of what appeared to be Necessity is found to be, not arbitrary Power, but Strength and Force enlisted in the service of Intelligence. God having made us men, and placed us in a world of change and eternal renovation, with ample capacity and abundant means for rational enjoyment, we learn that it is folly to repine because we are not angels, inhabiting a world in which change and the clashing of interests and the conflicts of passion are unknown.
The mystery of the world remains, but is sufficiently cleared up to inspire confidence. We are constrained to admit that if every man would but do the best in his power to do, and that which he knows he ought to do, we should need no better world than this. Man, surrounded by necessity, is free, not in a dogged determination of isolated will, because, though inevitably complying with nature’s laws, he is able, proportionately to his knowledge, to modify, in regard to himself, the conditions of their action, and so to preserve an average uniformity between their forces and his own.
Such are some of the conflicting opinions of antiquity; and we have to some extent presented to you a picture of the Ancient Thought. Faithful, as far as it goes, it exhibits to us Man’s Intellect ever struggling to pass beyond the narrow bounds of the circle in which its limited powers and its short vision confine it; and ever we find it travelling round the circle, like one lost in a wood, to meet the same unavoidable and insoluble difficulties. Science with her many instruments, Astronomy, particularly, with her telescope, Physics with the microscope, and Chemistry with its analyses and combinations, have greatly enlarged our ideas of the Deity, by discovering to us the vast extent of the Universe in both directions, its star-systems and its invisible swarms of minutest animal life; by acquainting us with the new and wonderful Force or Substance we call Electricity, apparently a link between Matter and Spirit: and still the Deity only becomes more incomprehensible to us than ever, and we find that in our speculations we but reproduce over and over again the Ancient Thought.
Where, then, amid all these conflicting opinions, is the True Word of a Mason?
My Brother, most of the questions which have thus tortured men’s minds, it is not within the reach and grasp of the Human Intellect to understand; but without understanding, as we have explained to you heretofore, we may and must believe.
The True Word of a Mason is to be found in the concealed and profound meaning of the Ineffable Name of Deity, communicated by God to Moses; and which meaning was long lost by the very precautions taken to conceal it. The true pronunciation of that name was in truth a secret, in which, however, was involved the far more profound secret of its meaning. In that meaning is included all the truth than can be known by us, in regard to the nature of God.
Long known as AL, AL SCHADAI, ALOHAYIM, and ADONAI; as the Chief or Commander of the Heavenly Armies; as the aggregate of the Forces [ALOHAYIM] of Nature; as the Mighty, the Victorious, the Rival of Bal and Osiris; as the Soul of Nature, Nature itself, a God that was but Man personified, a God with human passions, the God of the Heathen with but a mere change of name, He assumes, in His communications to Moses, the name ו ?Y?H?W?H [IHUH], and says to Him, ו ?A?H?Y?H ?A?Sה?R ?A?H?Y?H [AHIH ASHR AHIH], I AM WHAT I AM. Let us examine the esoteric or inner meaning of this Ineffable Name.
ו ?H?Y?H [HIH] is the imperfect tense of the verb To BE, of which ו ?Y?H?Y?H [IHIH] is the present; ו ?A?H?Y [AHI–ו ?A being the personal pronoun “I” affixed] the first person, by apocope; and, ו ?Y?H?Y [IHI] the third. The verb has the following forms: . . . Preterite, 3d person, masculine singular, ו ?H?Y?H [HIH], did exist, was; 3d person corn. plural, ו ?H?Y?W [HIU] . . . Present, 3d pers. masc. sing. ו ?Y?H?Y?H [IHIH], once ו ?Y?H?W?A [IHUA], by apocope, ו ?A?H?Y, ו ?Y?H?Y [AHI, IHI] . . Infinitive, ו ?H?Y?H, ו ?H?Y?W [HIH, HIU] . . . Imperative, 2d pers. masc. sing. ו ?H?Y?H [HIH], fem. ו ?H?W?Y [HUI] . . . Participle, masc. sing. ו ?H?W?H [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 ו ?H?W?H and ו ?H?W?A [HUH and HUA] Chaldaic forms of the imperfect tense of the verb, are the same as the Hebrew ו ?H?W?H and ו ?H?Y?H [HUH and HIH], and mean was, existed, became.
Now ו ?H?W?A and ו ?H?Y?A [HUA and HIA] are the Personal Pronoun [Masculine and Feminine], HE, SHE. Thus in Gen. iv. 20 we have the phrase, ו ?H?W?A ?H?Y?H [HUA HIH], HE WAS: and in Lev. xxi. 9, ו ?A?Tה ?A?B?Y?H ?H?Y?A [ATH ABIH HIA], HER Father. This feminine pronoun, however, is often written ו ?H?W?A [HUA], and ו ?H?Y?A [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, ו ?Y, ו ?W, ו ?H,or ו ?A, [Yo_d, Vav, He, or Aleph] terminates a word, and has no vowel either immediately preceding or following it, it is often rejected; as in ו ?G?Y [GI], for ו ?G?Y?A [GIA], a valley,
So ו ?H?W?A-?H?Y?A [HUA-HIA], He-She, could properly be written ו ?H?W-?H?Y [HU-HI]; or by transposition of the letters, common with the Talmudists, ו ?Y?H-?W?H [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 ו ?H, which they considered to be the Agent of Almighty Power; and to enable the possessor of the Name to work miracles.
The Personal Pronoun ו ?H?W?A [HUA], HE, is often used by itself, to express the Deity. Lee says that in such cases, IHUH, IH, or ALHIM, or some other name of God, is understood; but there is no necessity for that. It means in such cases the Male, Generative, or Creative Principle or Power.
It was a common practice with the Talmudists to conceal secret meanings and sounds of words by transposing the letters.
The reversal of the letters of words was, indeed, anciently common everywhere. Thus from Neitha, the name of an Egyptian Goddess, the Greeks, writing backward, formed Athenè, the name of Minerva. In Arabic we have Nahid, a name of the planet Venus, which, reversed, gives Dihan, Greek, in Persian, Nihad, Nature; which Sir William Jones writes also Nahid. Strabo informs us that the Armenian name of Venus was Anaitis.
Tien, Heaven, in Chinese, reversed, is Neit, or Neith, worshipped at Sais in Egypt. Reverse Neitha, drop the i, and add an e, and we, as before said, Athenè. Mitra was the name of Venus among the ancient Persians. Herodotus, who tells us this, also informs us that her name, among the Scythians, was Artim pasa. Artim is Mitra, reversed. So, by reversing it, the Greeks formed Artemis, Diana.
One of the meanings of Rama, in Sanscrit, is Kama, the Deity of Love. Reverse this, and we have Amar, and by changing a into o, Amor, the Latin word for Love. Probably, as the verb is Amare, the oldest reading was Amar and not Amor. So Dipaka, in Sanscrit, one of the meanings whereof is love, is often written Dipuc. Reverse this, and we have, adding o, the Latin word Cupido.
In Arabic, the radical letters rhm, pronounced rahm, signify the trunk, compassion, mercy; this reversed, we have mhr, in Persic, love and the Sun. In Hebrew we have Lab, the heart; and in Chaldee, Bal, the heart; the radical letters of both being b and l.
The Persic word for head is Sar. Reversed, this becomes Ras in Arabic and Hebrew, Raish in Chaldee, Rash in Samaritan, and Ryas in Ethiopic; all meaning head, chief, etc. In Arabic we have Kid, in the sense of rule, regulation, article of agreement, obligation; which, reversed, becomes, adding e, the Greek dikè justice. In Coptic we have Chlom, a crown. Reversed, we have in Hebrew, Moloch or Malec, a King, or he who wears a crown.
In the Kou-onen, or oldest Chinese writing, by Hieroglyphics, Ge [Hi or Khi, with the initial letter modified], was the Sun: in Persic, Gwar and in Turkish Giun. Yue , was the Moon; 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:
Thus the Ineffable Name not only embodies the Great Philosophical Idea, that the Deity is the ENS, the TO ON, the Absolute Existence, that of which the Essence is To Exist, the only Substance of Spinoza, the BEING, that never could not have existed, as contradistinguished from that which only becomes, not Nature or the Soul of Nature, but that which created Nature; but also the idea of the Male and Female Principles, in its highest and most profound sense; to wit, that God originally comprehended in Himself all that is: that matter was not co-existent with Him, or independent of Him; that He did not merely fashion and shape a pre-existing chaos into a Universe; but that His Thought manifested itself outwardly in that Universe, which so became, and before was not, except as comprehended in Him: that the Generative Power or Spirit, and Productive Matter, ever among the ancients deemed the Female, originally were in God; and that He Was and Is all that Was, that Is, and that Shall be: in Whom all else lives, moves, and has its being.
This was the great Mystery of the Ineffable Name; and this true arrangement of its letters, and of course its true pronunciation and its meaning, soon became lost to all except the select few to whom it was confided; it being concealed from the common people, because the Deity thus metaphysically named was not that personal and capricious, and as it were tangible God in whom they believed, and who alone was within the reach of their rude capacities.
Diodorus says that the name given by Moses to God was ΙΑΩ. Theodorus says that the Samaritans termed God IABE, but the Jews ΙΑΩ. Philo Byblius gives the form ΙΕΥΩ; and Clemens of Alexandria ΙΑΟΥ. Macrobius says that it was an admitted axiom among the Heathen, that the triliteral ΙΑΩ was the sacred name of the Supreme God. And the Clarian oracle said: “Learn thou that ΙΑΩ is the great God Supreme, that ruleth over all.” The letter Ι signified Unity. Α and Ω are the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet.
Hence the frequent expression: “I am the First, and I am the Last; and besides Me there is no other God. I am Α and Ω, the First and the Last. I am Α and Ω, the Beginning and the Ending, which Is, and Was, and Is to come: the Omnipotent.” For in this we see shadowed forth the same great truth; that God is all in all–the Cause and the Effect–the beginning, or Impulse, or Generative Power: and the Ending, or Result, or that which is produced: that He is in reality all that is, all that ever was, and all that ever will be; in this sense, that nothing besides Himself has existed eternally, and co-eternally with Him, independent of Him, and self-existent, or self-originated.
And thus the meaning of the expression, ALOHAYIM, a plural noun, used, in the account of the Creation with which Genesis commences, with a singular verb, and of the name or title IHUH-ALHIM, used for the first time in the 4th verse of the 2d chapter of the same book, becomes clear. The ALHIM is the aggregate unity of the manifested Creative Forces or Powers of Deity, His Emanations; and IHUH-ALHIM is the ABSOLUTE Existence, or Essence of these Powers and Forces, of which they are Active Manifestations and Emanations.
This was the profound truth hidden in the ancient allegory and covered from the general view with a double veil. This was the esoteric meaning of the generation and production of the Indian, Chaldæan, and Phœnician cosmogonies; and the Active and Passive Powers, of the Male and Female Principles; of Heaven and its Luminaries generating, and the Earth producing; all hiding from vulgar view, as above its comprehension, the doctrine that matter is not eternal, but that God was the only original Existence, the ABSOLUTE, from Whom everything has proceeded, and to Whom all returns: and that all moral law springs not from the relation of things, but from His Wisdom and Essential Justice, as the Omnipotent Legislator. And this Taut WORD is with entire accuracy said to have been lost; because its meaning was lost, even among the Hebrews, although we still find the name (its real meaning unsuspected), in the Hu of the Druids and the FO-Hi of the Chinese.
When we conceive of the Absolute Truth, Beauty, or Good, we cannot stop short at the abstraction of either. We are forced to refer each to some living and substantial Being, in which they have their foundations, some being that is the first and last principle of each.
Moral Truth, like every other universal and necessary truth, cannot remain a mere abstraction. Abstractions are unrealities. In ourselves, moral truth is merely conceived of. There must be somewhere a Being that not only conceives of, but constitutes it. It has this characteristic; that it is not only, to the eyes of our intelligence, an universal and necessary truth, but one obligatory on our will. It is A LAW. We do not establish that law ourselves. It is imposed on us despite ourselves: its principle must be without us. It supposes a legislator. He cannot be the being to whom the law applies; but must be one that possesses in the highest degree all the characteristics of moral truth. The moral law, universal and necessary, necessarily has as its author a necessary being;–composed of justice and charity, its author most be a being possessing the plenitude of both.
As all beautiful and all true things refer themselves, these to a Unity which is absolute TRUTH, and those to a Unity which is absolute BEAUTY, so all the moral principles centre in a single principle, which is THE GOOD. Thus we arrive at the conception of GOOD in itself, the ABSOLUTE Good, superior to all particular duties, and determinate in those duties. This Absolute Good must necessarily be an attribute of the Absolute BEING. There cannot be several Absolute Beings; the one in whom are realized Absolute Truth and Absolute Beauty being different from the one in whom is realized Absolute Good. The Absolute necessarily implies absolute Unity. The True, the Beautiful, and the Good are not three distinct essences: but they are one and the same essence, considered in its fundamental attributes: the different phases which, in our eyes, the Absolute and Infinite Perfection assumes. Manifested in the World of the Finite and Relative, these three attributes separate from each other, and are distinguished by our minds, which can comprehend nothing except by division. But in the Being from Whom they emanate, they are indivisibly united; and this Being, at once triple and one, Who sums up in Himself perfect Beauty, perfect Truth, and the perfect Good, is GOD.
God is necessarily the principle of Moral Truth, and of personal morality. Man is a moral person, that is to say, one endowed with reason and liberty. He is capable of Virtue: and Virtue has with him two principal forms, respect for others and love of others, justice and charity.
The creature can possess no real and essential attribute which the Creator does not possess. The effect can draw its reality and existence only from its cause. The cause contains in itself, at least, what is essential in the effect. The characteristic of the effect is inferiority, short-coming, imperfection. Dependent and derivate, it bears in itself the marks and conditions of dependence; and its imperfection proves the perfection of the cause; or else there would be in the effect something immanent, without a cause.
God is not a logical Being, whose Nature may be explained by deduction, and by means of algebraic equations. When, setting out with a primary attribute, the attributes of God are deduced one from the other, after the manner of the Geometricians and Scholastics, we have nothing but abstractions. We must emerge from this empty dialectic, to arrive at a true and living God. The first notion which we have of God, that of an Infinite Being, is not given us à priori, independently of all experience. It is our consciousness of ourself, as at once a Being and a limited Being, that immediately raises us to the conception of a Being, the principle of our being, and Himself without limits. If the existence that we possess forces us to recur to a cause possessing the same existence in an infinite degree, all the substantial attributes of existence that we possess equally require each an infinite cause. God, then, is no longer the Infinite, Abstract, Indeterminate Being, of which reason and the heart cannot lay hold, but a real Being, determinate like ourselves, a moral person like ourself; and the study of our own souls will conduct us, without resort to hypothesis, to a conception of God, both sublime and having a connection with ourselves.
If man be free, God must be so. It would be strange if, while the creature has that marvellous power of disposing of himself, of choosing and willing freely, the Being that has made him should be subject to a necessary development, the cause of which, though in Himself, is a sort of abstract, mechanical, or metaphysical power, inferior to the personal, voluntary cause which we are, and of which we have the clearest consciousness. God is free because we are: but he is not free as we are. He is at once everything that we are, and nothing that we are. He possesses the same attributes as we, but extended to infinity. He possesses, then, an infinite liberty, united to an infinite intelligence; and as His intelligence is infallible, exempt from the uncertainty of deliberation, and perceiving at a glance where the Good is, so His liberty accomplishes it spontaneously and without effort.
As we assign to God that liberty which is the basis of our existence, so also we transfer to His character, from our own, justice and charity. In man they are virtues: in God, His attributes. What is in us the laborious conquest of liberty, is in Him His very nature. The idea of the right, and the respect paid to the right, are signs of the dignity of our existence. If respect of rights is the very essence of justice, the Perfect Being must know and respect the rights of the lowest of His creatures; for He assigned them those rights. In God resides a sovereign justice, that renders to every one what is due him, not according to deceitful appearances, but according to the truth of things. And if man, a limited being, has the power to go out of himself, to forget his own person, to love another like himself, and devote himself to his happiness, dignity, and perfection, the Perfect Being must have, in an infinite degree, that disinterested tenderness, that Charity, the Supreme Virtue of the human person. There is in God an infinite tenderness for His creatures, manifested in His giving us existence, which He might have withheld; and every day it appears in innumerable marks of His Divine Providence.
Plato well understood that love of God, and expresses it in these great words: “Let us speak of the cause which led the Supreme Arranger of the Universe to produce and regulate that Universe. He was good; and he who is good has no kind of ill-will. Exempt from that, He willed that created things should be, as far as possible, like Himself.” And Christianity in its turn said, “God has so loved men that He has given them His only Son.”
It is not correct to affirm, as is often done, that Christianity has in some sort discovered this noble sentiment. We must not lower human nature, to raise Christianity. Antiquity knew, described, and practised charity; the first feature of which, so touching, and thank God! so common, is goodness, as its loftiest one is heroism. Charity is devotion to another; and it is ridiculously senseless to pretend that there ever was an age of the world, when the human soul was deprived of that part of its heritage, the power of devotion. But it is certain that Christianity has diffused and popularized this virtue, and that, before Christ, these words were never spoken: “LOVE ONE ANOTHER; FOR THAT IS THE WHOLE LAW.” Charity presupposes Justice. He who truly loves his brother respects the rights of his brother; but he does more, he forgets his own. Egoism sells or takes. Love delights in giving. In God, love is what it is in us; but in an infinite degree. God is inexhaustible in His charity, as He is inexhaustible in His essence. That Infinite Omnipotence and Infinite Charity, which, by an admirable good-will, draws from the bosom of its immense love the favors which it incessantly bestows on the world and on humanity, teaches us that the more we give, the more we possess.
God being all just and all good, He can will nothing but what is good and just. Being Omnipotent, whatever He wills He can do, and consequently does. The world is the work of God: it is therefore perfectly made.
Yet there is disorder in the world, that seems to impugn the justice and goodness of God.
A principle indissolubly connected with the very idea of good, tells us that every moral agent deserves reward when he does well, and punishment when he does ill. This principle is universal and necessary. It is absolute. If it does not apply in this world, it is false, or the world is badly ordered.
But good actions are not always followed by happiness, nor evil ones by misery. Though often this fact is more apparent than real; though virtue, a war against the passions, full of dignity but full of sorrow and pain, has the latter as its condition, yet the pains that follow vice are greater; and virtue conduces most to health, strength, and long life;–though the peaceful conscience that accompanies virtue creates internal happiness; though public opinion generally decides correctly on men’s characters, and rewards virtue with esteem and consideration, and vice with con-tempt and infamy; and though, after all, justice reigns in the world, and the surest road to happiness is still that of virtue, yet there are exceptions. Virtue is not always rewarded, nor vice punished, in this life.
The data of this problem are these: 1st. The principle of merit and demerit within us is absolute: every good action ought to be rewarded, every bad one punished: 2d. God is just as He is all-powerful: 3d. There are in this world particular cases, contradicting the necessary and universal law of merit and demerit. What is the result?
To reject the two principles, that God is just, and the law of merit and demerit absolute, is to raze to the foundations the whole edifice of human faith.
To maintain them, is to admit that the present life is to be terminated or continued elsewhere. The moral person who acts well or ill, and awaits reward or punishment, is connected with a body, lives with it, makes use of it, depends upon it in a measure, but is not it. The body is composed of parts. It diminishes or increases, it is divisible even to infinity. But this something which has a consciousness of itself, and says “I, ME”; that feels itself free and responsible, feels too that it is incapable of division, that it is a being one and simple; that the ME cannot be halved, that if a limb is cut off and thrown away, no part of the ME goes with it: that it remains identical with itself under the variety of phenomena which successively manifest it. This identity, indivisibility, and absolute unity of the person, are its spirituality, the very essence of the person. It is not in the least an hypothesis to affirm that the soul differs essentially from the body. By the soul we mean the person, not separated from the consciousness of the attributes which constitute it,–thought and will. The Existence without consciousness is an abstract being, and not a person. It is the person, that is identical, one, simple. Its attributes, developing it, do not divide it. Indivisible, it is indissoluble, and may be immortal. If absolute justice requires this immortality, it does not require what is impossible. The spirituality of the soul is the condition and necessary foundation of immortality: the law of merit and demerit the direct demonstration of it. The first is the metaphysical, the second the moral proof. Add to these the tendency of all the powers of the soul toward the Infinite, and the principle of final causes, and the proof of the immortality of the soul is complete.
God, therefore, in the Masonic creed, is INFINITE TRUTH, INFINITE BEAUTY, INFINITE GOODNESS. He is the Holy of Holies, as Author of the Moral Law, as the PRINCIPLE of Liberty, of Justice, and of Charity, Dispenser of Reward and Punishment. Such a God is not an abstract God; but an intelligent and free person, Who has made us in His image, from Whom we receive the law that presides over our destiny, and Whose judgment we await. It is His love that inspires us in our acts of charity: it is His justice that governs our justice, and that of society and the laws. We continually remind ourselves that He is infinite; because otherwise we should degrade His nature: but He would be for us as if He were not, if His infinite nature had not forms inherent in ourselves, the forms of our own reason and soul.
When we love Truth, Justice, and Nobility of Soul, we should know that it is God we love underneath these special forms, and should unite them all into one great act of total piety. We should feel that we go in and out continually in the midst of the vast forces of the Universe, which are only the Forces of God; that in our studies, when we attain a truth, we confront the thought of God; when we learn the right, we learn the will of God laid down as a rule of conduct for the Universe; and when we feel disinterested love, we should know that we partake the feeling of the Infinite God. Then, when we reverence the mighty cosmic force, it will not be a blind Fate in an Atheistic or Pantheistic world, but the Infinite God, that we shall confront and feel and know. Then we shall be mindful of the mind of God, conscious of God’s conscience, sensible of His sentiments, and our own existence will be in the infinite being of God.
The world is a whole, which has its harmony; for a God who is One, could make none but a complete and harmonious work. The harmony of the Universe responds to the unity of God, as the indefinite quantity is the defective sign of the infinitude of God. To say that the Universe is God, is to admit the world only, and deny God. Give it what name you please, it is atheism at bottom. On the other hand, to suppose that the Universe is void of God, and that He is wholly apart from it, is an insupportable and al-most impossible abstraction. To distinguish is not to separate. I distinguish, but do not separate myself from my qualities and effects. So God is not the Universe, although He is everywhere present in spirit and in truth.
To us, as to Plato, absolute truth is in God. It is God Himself under one of His phases. In God, as their original, are the immutable principles of reality and cognizance. In Him things receive at once their existence and their intelligibility. It is by participating in the Divine reason that our own reason possesses something of the Absolute. Every judgment of reason envelopes a necessary truth, and every necessary truth supposes the necessary Existence.
Thus, from every direction,–from metaphysics, æsthetics, and morality above all, we rise to the same Principle, the common centre, and ultimate foundation of all truth, all beauty, all good. The True, the Beautiful, the Good, are but diverse revelations of one and the same Being. Thus we reach the threshold of religion, and are in communion with the great philosophies which all proclaim a God; and at the same time with the religions which cover the earth, and all repose on the sacred foundation of natural religion; of that religion which reveals to us the natural light given to all men, without the aid of a particular revelation. So long as philosophy does not arrive at religion, it is below all worships, even the most imperfect; for they at least give man a Father, a Witness, a Consoler, a Judge. By religion, philosophy connects itself with humanity, which, from one end of the world to the other, aspires to God, believes in God, hopes in God. Philosophy contains in itself the common basis of all religious beliefs; it, as it were, borrows from them their principle, and returns it to them surrounded with light, elevated above uncertainty, secure against all attack.
From the necessity of His Nature, the Infinite Being must create and preserve the Finite, and to the Finite must, in its forms, give and communicate of His own kind. We cannot conceive of any finite thing existing without God, the Infinite basis and ground thereof; nor of God existing without something. God is the necessary logical condition of a world, its necessitating cause; a world, the necessary logical condition of God, His necessitated consequence. It is according to His Infinite Perfection to create, and then to preserve and bless whatever He creates. That is the conclusion of modern metaphysical science. The stream of philosophy runs down from Aristotle to Hegel, and breaks off with this conclusion: and then again recurs the ancient difficulty. If it be of His nature to create,–if we cannot conceive of His existing alone, without creating, without having created, then what He created was co-existent with Himself. If He could exist an instant without creating, He could as well do so for a myriad of eternities. And so again comes round to us the old doctrine of a God, the Soul of the Universe, and co-existent with it. For what He created had a beginning; and however long since that creation occurred, an eternity had before elapsed. The difference between a beginning and no beginning is infinite.
But of some things we can be certain. We are conscious of ourselves–of ourselves if not as substances, at least as Powers to be, to do, to suffer. We are conscious of ourselves not as self-originated at all or as self-sustained alone; but only as dependent, first for existence, ever since for support.
Among the primary ideas of consciousness, that are inseparable from it, the atoms of self-consciousness, we find the idea of God. Carefully examined by the scrutinizing intellect, it is the idea of God as infinite, perfectly powerful, wise, just, loving, holy; absolute being with no limitation. This made us, made all, sustains us, sustains all; made our body, not by a single act, but by a series of acts extending over a vast succession of years,–for man’s body is the resultant of all created things,–made our spirit, our mind, conscience, affections, soul, will, appointed for each its natural mode of action, set each at its several aim. Thus self-consciousness leads us to consciousness of God, and at last to consciousness of an infinite God. That is the highest evidence of our own existence, and it is the highest evidence of His.
If there is a God at all, He must be omnipresent in space. Beyond the last Stars He must be, as He is here. There can be no mote that peoples the sunbeams, no little cell of life that the microscope discovers in the seed-sporule of a moss, but He is there.
He must also be omnipresent in time. There was no second of time before the Stars began to burn, but God was in that second. In the most distant nebulous spot in Orion’s belt, and in every one of the millions that people a square inch of limestone, God is alike present. He is in the smallest imaginable or even unimaginable portion of time, and in every second of its most vast and unimaginable volume; His Here conterminous with the All of Space, His Now coeval with the All of Time.
Through all this Space, in all this Time, His Being extends, spreads undivided, operates unspent; God in all His infinity, perfectly powerful, wise, just, loving, and holy. His being is an infinite activity, a creating, and so a giving of Himself to the World. The World’s being is a becoming, a being created and continued. It is so now, and was so, incalculable and unimaginable millions of ages ago.
All this is philosophy, the unavoidable conclusion of the human mind. It is not the opinion of Coleridge and Kant, but their science; not what they guess, but what they know.
In virtue of this in-dwelling of God in matter, we say that the world is a revelation of Him, its existence a show of His. He is in His work. The manifold action of the Universe is only His mode of operation, and all material things are in communion with Him. All grow and move and live in Him, and by means of Him, and only so. Let Him withdraw from the space occupied by anything, and it ceases to be. Let Him withdraw any quality of His nature from anything, and it ceases to be. All must partake of Him, He dwelling in each, and yet transcending all.
The failure of fanciful religion to become philosophy, does not preclude philosophy from coinciding with true religion. Philosophy, or rather its object, the divine order of the Universe, is the intellectual guide which the religious sentiment needs; while exploring the real relations of the finite, it obtains a constantly improving and self-correcting measure of the perfect law of the Gospel of Love and Liberty, and a means of carrying into effect the spiritualism of revealed religion. It establishes law, by ascertaining its terms; it guides the spirit to see its way to the amelioration of life and the increase of happiness. While religion was stationary, science could not walk alone; when both are admitted to be progressive, their interests and aims become identified. Aristotle began to show how religion may be founded on an intellectual basis; but the basis he laid was too narrow. Bacon, by giving to philosophy a definite aim and method, gave it at the same time a safer and self-enlarging basis. Our position is that of intellectual beings surrounded by limitations; and the latter being constant, have to intelligence the practical value of laws, in whose investigation and application consists that seemingly endless career of intellectual and moral progress which the sentiment of religion inspires and ennobles. The title of Saint has commonly been claimed for those whose boast it has been to despise philosophy; yet faith will stumble and sentiment mislead, unless knowledge be present, in amount and quality sufficient to purify the one and to give beneficial direction to the other. Science consists of those matured inferences from experience which all other experience confirms. It is no fixed system superior to revision, but that progressive mediation between ignorance and wisdom in part conceived by Plato, whose immediate object is happiness, and its impulse the highest kind of love. Science realizes and unites all that was truly valuable in both the old schemes of mediation; the heroic, or system of action and effort; and the mystical theory of spiritual, contemplative communion. “Listen to me,” says Galen, “as to the voice of the Eleusinian Hierophant, and believe that the study of nature is a mystery no less important than theirs, nor less adapted to display the wisdom and power of the Great Creator. Their lessons and demonstrations were obscure, but ours are clear and unmistakable.”
To science we owe it that no man is any longer entitled to consider himself the central point around which the whole Universe of life and motion revolves–the immensely important individual for whose convenience and even luxurious ease and indulgence the whole Universe was made. On one side it has shown us an infinite Universe of stars and suns and worlds at incalculable distances from each other, in whose majestic and awful presence we sink and even our world sinks into insignificance; while, on the other side, the microscope has placed us in communication with new worlds of organized livings beings, gifted with senses, nerves, appetites, and instincts, in every tear and in every drop of putrid water.
Thus science teaches us that we are but an infinitesimal portion of a great whole, that stretches out on every side of us, and above and below us, infinite in its complications, and which infinite wisdom alone .can comprehend. Infinite wisdom has arranged the infinite succession of beings, involving the necessity of birth, decay, and death, and made the loftiest virtues possible by providing those conflicts, reverses, trials, and hardships, without which even their names could never have been invented.
Knowledge is convertible into power, and axioms into rules of utility and duty. Modern science is social and communicative. It is moral as well as intellectual; powerful, yet pacific and disinterested; binding man to man as well as to the Universe; filling up the details of obligation, and cherishing impulses of virtue, and, by affording clear proof of the consistency and identity of all interests, substituting co-operation for rivalry, liberality for jealousy, and tending far more powerfully than any other means to realize the spirit of religion, by healing those inveterate disorders which, traced to their real origin, will be found rooted in an ignorant assumption as to the penurious severity of Providence, and the consequent greed of selfish men to confine what seemed as if extorted from it to themselves, or to steal from each other rather than quietly to enjoy their own.
We shall probably never reach those higher forms containing the true differences of things, involving the full discovery and correct expression of their very self or essence. We shall ever fall short of the most general and most simple nature, the ultimate or most comprehensive law. Our widest axioms explain many phenomena, but so too in a degree did the principles or elements of the old philosophers, and the cycles and epicycles of ancient astronomy. We cannot in any case of causation assign the whole of the conditions, nor though we may reproduce them in practice, can we mentally distinguish them all, without knowing the essences of the things including them; and we therefore must not unconsciously ascribe that absolute certainty to axioms, which the ancient religionists did to creeds, nor allow the mind, which ever strives to insulate itself and its acquisitions, to forget the nature of the process by which it substituted scientific for common notions, and so with one as with the other lay the basis of self-deception by a pedantic and superstitious employment of them.
Doubt, the essential preliminary of all improvement and discovery, must accompany all the stages of man’s onward progress. His intellectual life is a perpetual beginning, a preparation for a birth. The faculty of doubting and questioning, without which those of comparison and judgment would be useless, is itself a divine prerogative of the reason. Knowledge is always imperfect, or complete only in a prospectively boundless career, in which discovery multiplies doubt, and doubt leads on to new discovery. The boast of science is not so much its manifested results, as its admitted imperfection and capacity of unlimited progress. The true religious philosophy of an imperfect being is not a system of creed, but, as Socrates thought, an infinite search or approximation. Finality is but another name for bewilderment or defeat. Science gratifies the religious feeling without arresting it, and opens out the unfathomable mystery of the One Supreme into more explicit and manageable Forms, which express not indeed His Essence, which is wholly beyond our reach and higher than our faculties can climb, but His Will, and so feeds an endless enthusiasm by accumulating forever new objects of pursuit. We have long experienced that knowledge is profitable, we are beginning to find out that it is moral, and we shall at last discover it to be religious.
God and truth are inseparable; a knowledge of God is possession of the saving oracles of truth. In proportion as the thought and purpose of the individual are trained to conformity with the rule of right prescribed by Supreme Intelligence, so far is his happiness promoted, and the purpose of his existence fulfilled. In this way a new life arises in him; he is no longer isolated, but is a part of the eternal harmonies around him. His erring will is directed by the influence of a higher will, informing and moulding it in the path of his true happiness.
Man’s power of apprehending outward truth is a qualified privilege; the mental like the physical inspiration passing through a diluted medium; and yet, even when truth, imparted, as it were, by intuition, has been specious, or at least imperfect, the intoxication of sudden discovery has ever claimed it as full, infallible, and divine. And while human weakness needed ever to recur to the pure and perfect source, the revelations once popularly accepted and valued assumed an independent substantiality, perpetuating not themselves only, but the whole mass of derivative forms accidentally connected with them, and legalized in their names. The mists of error thickened under the shadows of prescription, until the free light again broke in upon the night of ages, redeeming the genuine treasure from the superstition which obstinately doted on its accessories.
Even to the Barbarian, Nature reveals a mighty power and a wondrous wisdom, and continually points to God. It is no wonder that men worshipped the several things of the world. The world of matter is a revelation of fear to the savage in Northern climes; he trembles at his deity throned in ice and snow. The lightning, the storm, the earthquake startle the rude man, and he sees the divine in the extraordinary.
The grand objects of Nature perpetually constrain men to think of their Author. The Alps are the great altar of Europe; the nocturnal sky has been to mankind the dome of a temple, starred all over with admonitions to reverence, trust, and love. The Scriptures for the human race are writ in earth and Heaven. No organ or miserere touches the heart like the sonorous swell of the sea or the ocean-wave’s immeasurable laugh. Every year the old world puts on new bridal beauty, and celebrates its Whit-Sunday, when in the sweet Spring each bush and tree dons reverently its new glories. Autumn is a long All-Saints’ day; and the harvest is Hallowmass to Mankind. Before the human race marched down from the slopes of the Himalayas to take possession of Asia, Chaldea, and Egypt, men marked each annual crisis, the solstices and the equinoxes, and celebrated religious festivals therein; and even then, and ever since, the material was and has been the element of communion between man and God.
Nature is full of religious lessons to a thoughtful man. He dissolves the matter of the Universe, leaving only its forces; he dissolves away the phenomena of human history, leaving only immortal spirit; he studies the law, the mode of action of these forces and this spirit, which make up the material and the human world, and cannot fail to be filled with reverence, with trust, with boundless love of the Infinite God, who devised these laws of matter and of mind, and thereby bears up this marvellous Universe of things and men. Science has its New Testament; and the beatitudes of Philosophy are profoundly touching. An undevout astronomer is mad. Familiarity with the grass and the trees teaches us deeper lessons of love and trust than we can glean from the writings of Fénélon and Augustine. The great Bible of God is ever open before mankind. The eternal flowers of Heaven seem to shed sweet influence on the perishable blossoms of the earth. The great sermon of Jesus was preached on a mountain, which preached to Him as He did to the people, and His figures of speech were first natural figures of fact.
If to-morrow I am to perish utterly, then I shall only take counsel for to-day, and ask for qualities which last no longer. My fathers will be to me only as the ground out of which my bread-corn is grown; dead, they are but the rotten mould of earth, their memory of small concern to me. Posterity!–I shall care nothing for the future generations of mankind! I am one atom in the trunk of a tree, and care nothing for the roots below, or the branch above. I shall sow such seed only as will bear harvest to-day. Passion may enact my statutes to-day, and ambition repeal them to-morrow. I will know no other legislators. Morality will vanish, and expediency take its place. Heroism will be gone; and instead of it there will be the savage ferocity of the he-wolf, the brute cunning of the she-fox, the rapacity of the vulture, and the headlong daring of the wild bull; but no longer the cool, calm courage that, for truth’s sake, and for love’s sake, looks death firmly in the face, and then wheels into line ready to be slain. Affection, friendship, philanthropy, will be but the wild fancies of the monomaniac, fit subjects for smiles or laughter or for pity.
But knowing that we shall live forever, and that the Infinite God loves all of us, we can look on all the evils of the world, and see that it is only the hour before sunrise, and that the light is coming; and so we also, even we, may light a little taper, to illuminate the darkness while it lasts, and help until the day-spring come. Eternal morning follows the night: a rainbow scarfs the shoulders of every cloud that weeps its rain away to be flowers on land and pearls at sea: Life rises out of the grave, the soul cannot be held by fettering flesh. No dawn is hopeless; and disaster is only the threshold of delight.
Beautifully, above the great wide chaos of human errors, shines the calm, clear light of natural human religion, revealing to us God as the Infinite Parent of all, perfectly powerful, wise, just, loving, and perfectly holy too. Beautiful around stretches off every way the Universe, the Great Bible of God. Material nature is its Old Testament, millions of years old, thick with eternal truths under our feet, glittering with everlasting glories over our heads; and Human Nature is the New Testament from the Infinite God, every day revealing a new page as Time turns over the leaves. Immortality stands waiting to give a recompense for every virtue not rewarded, for every tear not wiped away, for every sorrow undeserved, for every prayer, for every pure intention and emotion of the heart. And over the whole, over Nature, Material and Human, over this Mortal Life and over the eternal Past and Future, the infinite Loving-kindness of God the Father comes enfolding all and blessing everything that ever was, that is, that ever shall be.
Everything is a thought of the Infinite God. Nature is His prose, and man His Poetry. There is no Chance, no Fate; but God’s Great Providence, enfolding the whole Universe in its bosom, and feeding it with everlasting life. In times past there has been evil which we cannot understand; now there are evils which we cannot solve, nor make square with God’s perfect goodness by any theory our feeble intellect enables us to frame. There are sufferings, follies, and sins for all mankind, for every nation, for every man and every woman. They were all foreseen by the infinite wisdom of God, all provided for by His infinite power and justice, and all are consistent with His infinite love. To believe otherwise would be to believe that He made the world, to amuse His idle hours with the follies and agonies of mankind, as Domitian was wont to do with the wrigglings and contortions of insect agonies. Then indeed we might despairingly unite in that horrible utterance of Heine: “Alas, God’s Satire weighs heavily on me! The Great Author of the Universe, the Aristophanes of Heaven, is bent on demonstrating, with crushing force, to me, the little, earthly, German Aristophanes, how my wittiest sarcasms are only pitiful attempts at jesting, in comparison with His, and how miserably I am beneath Him, in humor, in colossal mockery.”
No, no! God is not thus amused with and prodigal of human suffering. The world is neither a Here without a Hereafter, a body without a soul, a chaos with no God; nor a body blasted by a soul, a Here with a worse Hereafter, a world with a God that hates more than half the creatures He has made. There is no Savage, Revengeful, and Evil God: but there is an Infinite God, seen everywhere as Perfect Cause, everywhere as Perfect Providence, transcending all, yet in-dwelling everywhere, with perfect power, wisdom, justice, holiness, and love, providing for the future welfare of each and all, foreseeing and forecaring for every bubble that breaks on the great stream of human life and human history.
The end of man and the object of existence in this world, being not only happiness, but happiness in virtue and through virtue, virtue in this world is the condition of happiness in another life, and the condition of virtue in this world is suffering, more or less frequent, briefer or longer continued, more or less intense. Take away suffering, and there is no longer any resignation or humanity, no more self-sacrifice, no more devotedness, no more heroic virtues, no more sublime morality. We are subjected to suffering, both because we are sensible, and because we ought to be virtuous. If there were no physical evil, there would be no possible virtue, and the world would be badly adapted to the destiny of man. The apparent disorders of the physical world, and the evils that result from them, are not disorders and evils that occur despite the power and goodness of God. God not only allows, but wills them. It is His will that there shall be in the physical world causes enough of pain for man, to afford him occasions for resignation and courage.
Whatever is favorable to virtue, whatever gives the moral liberty more energy, whatever can serve the greater moral development of the human race, is good. Suffering is not the worst condition of man on earth. The worst condition is the moral brutalization which the absence of physical evil would engender.
External or internal physical evil connects itself with the object of existence, which is to accomplish the moral law here below, whatever the consequences, with the firm hope that virtue unfortunate will not fail to be rewarded in another life. The moral law has its sanction and its reason in itself. It owes nothing to that law of merit and demerit that accompanies it, but is not its basis. But, though the principle of merit and demerit ought not to be the determining principle of virtuous action, it powerfully concurs with the moral law, because it offers virtue a legitimate ground of consolation and hope.
Morality is the recognition of duty, as duty, and its accomplishment, whatever the consequences.
Religion is the recognition of duty in its necessary harmony with goodness; a harmony that must have its realization in another life, through the justice and omnipotence of God.
Religion is as true as morality; for once morality is admitted, its consequences must be admitted.
The whole moral existence is included in these two words, harmonious with each other: DUTY and HOPE.
Masonry teaches that God is infinitely good. What motive, what reason, and, morally speaking, what possibility can there be to Infinite Power and Infinite Wisdom, to be anything but good? Our very sorrows, proclaiming the loss of objects inexpressibly dear to us, demonstrate His Goodness. The Being that made us intelligent cannot Himself be without intelligence; and He Who has made us so to love and to sorrow for what we love, must number love for the creatures He has made, among His infinite attributes. Amid all our sorrows, we take refuge in the assurance that He loves us; that He does not capriciously, or through indifference, and still less in mere anger, grieve and afflict us; that He chastens us, in order that by His chastisements, which are by His universal law only the consequences of our acts, we may be profited; and that He could not show so much love for His creatures, by leaving them unchastened, untried, undisciplined. We have faith in the Infinite; faith in God’s Infinite Love; and it is that faith that must save us.
No dispensations of God’s Providence, no suffering or bereavement is a messenger of wrath: none of its circumstances are indications of God’s Anger. He is incapable of Anger; higher above any such feelings than the distant stars are above the earth. Bad men do not die because God hates them. They die because it is best for them that they should do so; and, bad as they are, it is better for them to be in the hands of the infinitely good God, than anywhere else.
Darkness and gloom lie upon the paths of men. They stumble at difficulties, are ensnared by temptations, and perplexed by trouble. They are anxious, and troubled, and fearful. Pain and affliction and sorrow often gather around the steps of their earthly pilgrimage. All this is written indelibly upon the tablets of the human heart. It is not to be erased; but Masonry sees and reads it in a new light. It does not expect these ills and trials and sufferings to be removed from life; but that the great truth will at some time be believed by all men, that they are the means, selected by infinite wisdom, to purify the heart, and to invigorate the soul whose inheritance is immortality, and the world its school.
Masonry propagates no creed except its own most simple and Sublime One; that universal religion, taught by Nature and by Reason. Its Lodges are neither Jewish, Moslem, nor Christian Temples. It reiterates the precepts of morality of all religions. It venerates the character and commends the teachings of the great and good of all ages and of all countries. It extracts the good and not the evil, the truth, and not the error, from all creeds; and acknowledges that there is much which is good and true in all.
Above all the other great teachers of morality and virtue, it reveres the character of the Great Master Who, submissive to the will of His and our Father, died upon the Cross. All must admit, that if the world were filled with beings like Him, the great ills of society would be at once relieved. For all coercion, injury, selfishness, and revenge, and all the wrongs and the greatest sufferings of life, would disappear at once. These human years would be happy; and the eternal ages would roll on in brightness and beauty; and the still, sad music of Humanity, that sounds through the world, now in the accents of grief, and now in pensive melancholy, would change to anthems, sounding to the March of Time, and bursting out from the heart of the world.
If every man were a perfect imitator of that Great, Wise, Good Teacher, clothed with all His faith and all His virtues, how the circle of Life’s ills and trials would be narrowed! The sensual passions would assail the heart in vain. Want would no longer successfully tempt men to act wrongly, nor curiosity to do rashly. Ambition, spreading before men its Kingdoms and its Thrones, and offices and honors, would cause none to swerve from their great allegiance. Injury and insult would be shamed by forgiveness. “Father,” men would say, “forgive them; for they know not what they do.” None would seek to be enriched at another’s loss or expense. Every man would feel that the whole human race were his brothers. All sorrow and pain and anguish would be soothed by a perfect faith and an entire trust in the Infinite Goodness of God. The world around us would be new, and the Heavens above us; for here, and there, and everywhere, through all the ample glories and splendors of the Universe, all men would recognize and feel the presence and the beneficent care of a loving Father.
However the Mason may believe as to creeds, and churches, and miracles, and missions from Heaven, he must admit that the Life and character of Him who taught in Galilee, and fragments of Whose teachings have come down to us, are worthy of all imitation. That Life is an undenied and undeniable Gospel. Its teachings cannot be passed by and discarded. All must admit that it would be happiness to follow and perfection to imitate Him. None ever felt for Him a sincere emotion of contempt, nor in anger accused Him of sophistry, nor saw immorality lurking in His doctrines; however they may judge of those who succeeded Him, and claimed to be His apostles. Divine or human, inspired or only a reforming Essene, it must be agreed that His teachings are far nobler, far purer, far less alloyed with error and imperfection, far less of the earth earthly, than those of Socrates, Plato, Seneca, or Mahomet, or any other of the great moralists and Reformers of the world. If our aims went as completely as His beyond personal care and selfish gratification; if our thoughts and words and actions were as entirely employed upon the great work of benefiting our kind–the true work which we have been placed here to do–as His were; if our nature were as gentle and as tender as His; and if society, country, kindred, friendship, and home were as dear to us as they were to Him, we should be at once relieved of more than half the difficulties and the diseased and painful affections of our lives. Simple obedience to rectitude, instead of self-interest; simple self-culture and self-improvement, instead of constant cultivation of the good opinion of others; single-hearted aims and purposes, instead of improper objects, sought and approached by devious and crooked ways, would free our meditations of many disturbing and irritating questions.
Not to renounce the nobler and better affections of our natures, nor happiness, nor our just dues of love and honor from men; not to vilify ourselves, nor to renounce our self-respect, nor a just and reasonable sense of our merits and deserts, nor our own righteousness of virtue, does Masonry require, nor would our imitation of Him require; but to renounce our vices, our faults, our passions, our self-flattering delusions; to forego all outward advantages, which are to be gained only through a sacrifice of our inward integrity, or by anxious and petty contrivances and appliances; to choose and keep the better part; to secure that, and let the worst take care of itself; to keep a good conscience, and let opinion come and go as it will; to retain a lofty self-respect, and let low self-indulgence go; to keep inward happiness, and let outward advantages hold a subordinate place; to renounce our selfishness, and that eternal anxiety as to what we are to have, and what men think of us; and be content with the plenitude of God’s great mercies, and so to be happy. For it is the inordinate devotion to self, and consideration of self, that is ever a stumbling-block in the way; that spreads questions, snares, and difficulties around us, darkens the way of Providence, and makes the world a far less happy one to us than it might be.
As He taught, so Masonry teaches, affection to our kindred, tenderness to our friends, gentleness and forbearance toward our inferiors, pity for the suffering, forgiveness of our enemies; and to wear an affectionate nature and gentle disposition as the garment of our life, investing pain, and toil, and agony, and even death, with a serene and holy beauty. It does not teach us to wrap ourselves in the garments of reserve and pride, to care nothing for the world because it cares nothing for us, to withdraw our thoughts from society because it does us not justice, and see how patiently we can live within the confines of our own bosoms, or in quiet communion, through books, with the mighty dead. No man ever found peace or light in that way. Every relation, of hate, scorn, or neglect, to mankind, is full of vexation and torment. There is nothing to do with men but to love them, to admire their virtues, pity and bear with their faults, and forgive their injuries. To hate your adversary will not help you; to kill him will help you still less: nothing within the compass of the Universe will help you, but to pity, forgive, and love him.
If we possessed His gentle and affectionate disposition, His love and compassion for all that err and all that offend, how many difficulties, both within and without us, would they relieve! How many depressed minds should we console! How many troubles in society should we compose! How many enmities soften! How many a knot of mystery and misunderstanding would be untied by a single word, spoken in simple and confiding truth! How many a rough path would be made smooth, and how many a crooked path be made straight! Very many places, now solitary, would be made glad; very many dark places be filled with light.
Morality has its axioms, like the other sciences; and these axioms are, in all languages, justly termed moral truths. Moral truths, considered in themselves, are equally as certain as mathematical truths. Given the idea of a deposit, the idea of keeping it faithfully is attached to it as necessarily, as to the idea of q, triangle is attached the idea that its three angles are equal to two right angles. You may violate a deposit; but in doing so, do not imagine that you change the nature of things, or make what is in itself a deposit become your own property. The two ideas exclude each other. You have but a false semblance of property: and all the efforts of the passions, all the sophisms of interest, will not overturn essential differences. Therefore it is that a moral truth is so imperious; because, like all truth, it is what it is, and shapes itself to please no caprice. Always the same, and always present, little as we may like it, it inexorably condemns, with a voice always heard, but not always regarded, the insensate and guilty will which thinks to prevent its existing, by denying, or rather by pretending to deny, its existence.
The moral truths are distinguished from other truths by this singular characteristic: so soon as we perceive them, they appear to us as the rule of our conduct. If it is true that a deposit is made in order to be returned to its legitimate possessor, it must be returned. To the necessity of believing the truth, the necessity of practising it is added.
The necessity of practising the moral truths is obligation. The moral truths, necessary to the eye of reason, are obligatory on the will. The moral obligation, like the moral truth which is its basis, is absolute. As necessary truths are not more or less necessary, so obligation is not more or less obligatory. There are degrees of importance among different obligations; but there are no degrees in the obligation itself. One is not nearly obliged, almost obliged; but wholly so, or not at all. If there be any place of refuge against the obligation, it ceases to exist.
If the obligation is absolute, it is immutable and universal. For if what is obligation to-day may not be so to-morrow, if what is obligatory for me may not be so for you, the obligation differing from itself, it would be relative and contingent. This fact of absolute, immutable, universal obligation is certain and manifest. The good is the foundation of obligation. If it be not, obligation has no foundation; and that is impossible. If one act ought to be done, and another ought not, it must be because evidently there is an essential difference between the two acts. If one be not good and the other bad, the obligation imposed on us is arbitrary.
To make the Good a consequence, of anything whatever, is to annihilate it. It is the first, or it is nothing. When we ask an honest man why, despite his urgent necessities, he has respected the sanctity of a deposit, he answers, because it was his duty. Asked why it was his duty, he answers, because it was right, was just, was good. Beyond that there is no answer to be made, but there is also no question to be asked. No one permits a duty to be imposed on him without giving himself a reason for it: but when it is admitted that the duty is commanded by justice, the mind is satisfied; for it has arrived at a principle beyond which there is nothing to seek, justice being its own principle. The primary truths include their own reason: and justice, the essential distinction between good and evil, is the first truth of morality. Justice is not a consequence; because we cannot ascend to any principle above it. Moral truth forces itself on man, and does not emanate from him. It no more becomes subjective, by appearing to us obligatory, than truth does by appearing to us necessary. It is in the very nature of the true and the good that we must seek for the reason of necessity and obligation. Obligation is founded on the necessary distinction between the good and the evil; and it is itself the foundation of liberty. If man has his duties to perform, he must have the faculty of accomplishing them, of resisting desire, passion, and interest, in order to obey the law. He must be free; therefore he is so, or human nature is in contradiction with itself. The certainty of the obligation involves the corresponding certainty of free will.
It is the will that is free: though sometimes that will may be ineffectual. The power to do must not be confounded with the power to will. The former may be limited: the latter is sovereign. The external effects may be prevented: the resolution itself cannot. Of this sovereign power of the will we are conscious. We feel in ourselves, before it becomes determinate, the force which can determine itself in one way or another. At the same time when I will this or that, I am equally conscious that I can will the contrary. I am conscious that I am the master of my resolution: that I may check it, continue it, retake it. When the act has ceased, the consciousness of the power which produced if has not. That consciousness and the power remain, superior to all the manifestations of the power. Wherefore free-will is the essential and ever-subsisting attribute of the will itself.
At the same time that we judge that a free agent has done a good or a bad act, we form another judgment, as necessary as the first; that if he has done well, he deserves compensation; if ill, punishment. That judgment may be expressed in a manner more or less vivid, according as it is mingled with sentiments more or less ardent. Sometimes it will be a merely kind feeling toward a virtuous agent, and moderately hostile to a guilty one; sometimes enthusiasm or indignation. The judgment of merit and demerit is intimately connected with the judgment of good and evil. Merit is the natural right which we have to be rewarded; demerit the natural right which others have to punish us. But whether the reward is received, or the punishment undergone, or not, the merit or demerit equally subsists. Punishment and reward are the satisfaction of merit and demerit, but do not constitute them. Take away the former, and the latter continue. Take away the latter, and there are no longer real rewards or punishments. When a base man encompasses our merited honors, he has obtained but the mere appearance of a reward; a mere material advantage. The reward is essentially moral; and its value is independent of its form. One of those simple crowns of oak with which the early Romans rewarded heroism, was of more real value than all the wealth of the world, when it was the sign of the gratitude and admiration of a people. Reward accorded to merit is a debt; without merit it is an alms or a theft.
The Good is good in itself, and to be accomplished, whatever the consequences. The results of the Good cannot but be fortunate. Happiness, separated from the Good, is but a fact to which no moral idea is attached. As an effect of the Good, it enters into the moral order, completes and crowns it.
Virtue without happiness, and crime without misery, is a contradiction and disorder. If virtue suppose sacrifice (that is, suffering), eternal justice requires that sacrifice generously accepted and courageously borne, shall have for its reward the same happiness that was sacrificed: and it also requires that crime shall be punished with unhappiness, for the guilty happiness which it attempted to procure.
This law that attaches pleasure and sorrow to the good and the evil, is, in general, accomplished even here below. For order rules in the world; because the world lasts. Is that order sometimes disturbed? Are happiness and sorrow not always distributed in legitimate proportion to crime and virtue? The absolute judgment of the Good, the absolute judgment of obligation, the absolute judgment of merit and demerit, continue to subsist, inviolable and imprescriptible; and we cannot help but believe that He Who has implanted in us the sentiment and idea of order, cannot therein Himself be wanting; and that He will, sooner or later, re-establish the holy harmony of virtue and happiness, by means belonging to Himself.
The Judgment of the Good, the decision that such a thing is goad, and that such another is not,–this is the primitive fact, and reposes on itself. By its intimate resemblances to the judgment of the true and the beautiful, it shows us the secret affinities of morality, metaphysics, and esthetics. The good, so especially united to the true, is distinguished from it, only because it is truth put in practice. The good is obligatory. These are two indivisible but not identical ideas. The idea of obligation reposes on the idea of the Good. In this intimate alliance, the former borrows from the latter its universal and absolute character.
The obligatory good is the moral law. That is the foundation of all morality. By it we separate ourselves from the morality of interest and the morality of sentiment. We admit the existence of those facts, and their influence; but we do not assign them the same rank.
To the moral law, in the reason of man, corresponds liberty in action. Liberty is deduced from obligation, and is a fact irresistibly evident. Man, as free, and subject to obligation, is a moral person; and that involves the idea of rights. To these ideas is added that of merit and demerit; which supposes the distinction between good and evil, obligation and liberty; and creates the idea of reward and punishment.
The sentiments play no unimportant part in morality. All the moral judgments are accompanied by sentiments that respond to them. From the secret sources of enthusiasm the human will draws the mysterious virtue that makes heroes. Truth enlightens and illumines. Sentiment warms and inclines to action. Interest also bears its part; and the hope of happiness is the work of God, and one of the motive powers of human action.
Such is the admirable economy of the moral constitution of man. His Supreme Object, the Good: his law, Virtue, which often imposes upon him suffering, thus making him to excel all other created beings known to us. But this law is harsh, and in contradiction with the instinctive desire for happiness. Wherefore the Beneficent Author of his being has placed in his soul, by the side of the severe law of duty, the sweet, delightful force of sentiment. Generally he attaches happiness to virtue; and for the exceptions, for such there are, he has placed Hope at the end of the journey to be travelled.
Thus there is a side on which morality touches religion. It is a sublime necessity of Humanity to see in God the Legislator supremely wise, the Witness always present, the infallible judge of virtue. The human mind, ever climbing up to God, would deem the foundations of morality too unstable, if it did not place in God the first principle of the moral law. Wishing to give to the moral law a religious character, we run the risk of taking from it its moral character. We may refer it so entirely to God as to make His will an arbitrary degree. But the will of God, whence we deduce morality, in order to give it authority, itself has no moral authority, except as it is just. The Good comes from the will of God alone; but from His will, in so far as it is the expression of His wisdom and justice. The Eternal Justice of God is the sole foundation of Justice, such as Humanity perceives and practises it. The Good, duty, merit and demerit, are referred to God, as everything is referred to him; but they have none the less a proper evidence and authority. Religion is the crown of Morality, not its base. The base of Morality is in itself.
The Moral Code of Masonry is still more extensive than that developed by philosophy. To the requisitions of the law of Nature and the law of God, it adds the imperative obligation of a con-tract. Upon entering the Order, the Initiate binds to himself every Mason in the world. Once enrolled among the children of Light, every Mason on earth becomes his brother, and owes him the duties, the kindnesses, and the sympathies of a brother. On every one he may call for assistance in need, protection against danger, sympathy in sorrow, attention in sickness, and decent burial after death. There is not a Mason in the world who is not bound to go to his relief, when he is in danger, if there be a greater probability of saving his life than of losing his own. No Mason can wrong him to the value of anything, knowingly, himself, nor suffer it to be done by others, if it be in his power to prevent it. No Mason can speak evil of him, to his face or behind his back. Every Mason must keep his lawful secrets, and aid him in his business, defend his character when unjustly assailed, and protect, counsel, and assist his widow and his orphans. What so many thousands owe to him, he owes to each of them. He has solemnly bound himself to be ever ready to discharge this sacred debt. If he fails to do it he is dishonest and forsworn; and it is an unparalleled meanness in him to obtain good offices by false pretences, to receive kindness and service, rendered him under the confident expectation that he will in his turn render the same, and then to disappoint, without ample reason, that just expectation.
Masonry holds him also, by his solemn promise, to a purer life, a nobler generosity, a more perfect charity of opinion and action; to be tolerant, catholic in his love for his race, ardent in his zeal for the interest of mankind, the advancement and progress of humanity.
Such are, we think, the Philosophy and the Morality, such the TRUE WORD of a Master Mason.
The world, the ancients believed, was governed by Seven Secondary Causes; and these were the universal forces, known to the Hebrews by the plural name ELOHIM. These forces, analogous and contrary one to the other, produce equilibrium by their contrasts, and regulate the movements of the spheres. The Hebrews called them the Seven great Archangels, and gave them names, each of which, being a combination of another word with AL, the first Phœnician Nature-God, considered as the Principle of Light, represented them as His manifestations. Other peoples assigned to these Spirits the government of the Seven Planets then known, and gave them the names of their great divinities.
So, in the Kabala, the last Seven Sephiroth constituted ATIK YOMIN, the Ancient of Days; and these, as well as the Seven planets, correspond with the Seven colors separated by the prism, and the Seven notes of the musical octave.
Seven is the sacred number in all theogonies and all symbols, because it is composed of 3 and 4. It represents the magical. power in its full force. It is the Spirit assisted by all the Elementary Powers, the Soul served by Nature, the Holy Empire spoken of in the clavicules of Solomon, symbolized by a warrior, crowned, bearing a triangle on his cuirass, and standing on a cube, to which are harnessed two Sphinxes, one white and the other black, pulling contrary ways, and turning the head to look backward.
The vices are Seven, like the virtues; and the latter were anciently symbolized by the Seven Celestial bodies then known as planets. FAITH, as the converse of arrogant Confidence, was represented by the Sun; HOPE, enemy of Avarice, by the Moon; CHARITY, opposed to Luxury, by Venus; FORCE, stronger than Rage, by Mars; PRUDENCE, the opposite of Indolence, by Mercury; TEMPERANCE, the antipodes of Gluttony, by Saturn; and JUSTICE, the opposite of Envy, by Jupiter.
The Kabalistic book of the Apocalypse is represented as closed with Seven Seals. In it we find the Seven genii of the Ancient Mythologies; and the doctrine concealed under its emblems is the pure Kabala, already lost by the Pharisees at the advent of the Saviour. The pictures that follow in this wondrous epic are so many pantacles, of which the numbers 3, 4, 7, and 12 are the keys.
The Cherub, or symbolic bull, which Moses places at the gate of the Edenic world, holding a blazing sword, is a Sphinx, with the body of a bull and a human head; the old Assyrian Sphinx whereof the combat and victory of Mithras were the hieroglyphic analysis. This armed Sphinx represents the law of the Mystery, which keeps watch at the door of initiation, to repulse the Profane. It also represents the grand Magical Mystery, all the elements whereof the number 7 expresses, still without giving its last word. This “unspeakable word” of the Sages of the school of Alexandria, this word, which the Hebrew Kabalists wrote; ו ?Y?H?W?H [IHUH], and translated by ו ?A?R?A?R?Y?Tה?A, [ARARITA,] so expressing the threefoldness of the Secondary Principle, the dualism of the middle ones, and the Unity as well of the first Principle as of the end; and also the junction of the number 3 with the number 4 in a word composed of four letters, but formed of seven by one triplicate and two repeated,–this word is pronounced Ararita.
The vowels in the Greek language are also Seven in number, and were used to designate the Seven planets.
Tsadok or Sydyc was the Supreme God in Phœnicia. His Seven Sons were probably the Seven Cabiri; and he was the Heptaktis, the God of Seven Rays.
Kronos, the Greek Saturn, Philo makes Sanchoniathon say, had six sons, and by Astarte Seven daughters, the Titanides. The Persians adored Ahura Masda or Ormuzd and the Six Amshaspands, the first three of whom were Lords of the Empires of Light, Fire, and Splendor; the Babylonians, Bal and the Gods; the Chinese, Shangti, and the Six Chief Spirits; and the Greeks, Kronos, and the Six great Male Gods, his progeny, Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo, Are_s, He_phaistos, and Hermes; while the female deities were also Seven: Rhea, wife of Kronos, He_re_, Athe_ne_, Artemis, Aphrodite_, Hestia, and De_me_te_i. In the Orphic Theogony, Gaia produced the fourteen Titans, Seven male and Seven female, Kronos being the most potent of the males; and as the number Seven appears in these, nine by threes, or the triple triangle, is found in the three Mœraê or Fates, the three Centimane_s, and the three Cyclope_s, offspring of Ouranos and Gaia, or Heaven and Earth.
The metals, like the colors, were deemed to be Seven in number, and a metal and color were assigned to each planet. Of the metals, gold was assigned to the Sun and silver to the Moon.
The palace of Deioces in Ecbatana had Seven circular walls of different colors, the two innermost having their battlements covered respectively with silvering and gilding.
And the Seven Spheres of Borsippa were represented by the Seven Stories, each of a different color, of the tower or truncated pyramid of Bel at Babylon.
Pharaoh saw in his dream, which Joseph interpreted, Seven ears of wheat on one stalk, full and good, and after them Seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the East wind; and the Seven thin ears devoured the Seven good ears; and Joseph interpreted these to mean Seven years of plenty succeeded by Seven years of famine.
Connected with this Ebn Hesham relates that a flood of rain laid bare to view a sepulchre in Yemen, in which lay a woman having on her neck Seven collars of pearls, and on her hands and feet bracelets and ankle-rings and armlets, Seven on each, with an inscription on a tablet showing that, after attempting in vain to purchase grain of Joseph, she, Tajah, daughter of Dzu Shefar, and her people, died of famine.
Hear again the words of an adept, who had profoundly studied the mysteries of science, and wrote, as the Ancient Oracles spoke, in enigmas; but who knew that the theory of mechanical forces and of the materiality of the most potent agents of Divinity, explains nothing, and ought to satisfy no one!
Through the veil of all the hieratic and mystic allegories of the ancient dogmas, under the seal of all the sacred writings, in the ruins of Nineveh or Thebes, on the worn stones of the ancient temples, and on the blackened face of the sphinx of Assyria or Egypt, in the monstrous or marvellous pictures which the sacred pages of the Vedas translate for the believers of India, in the strange emblems of our old books of alchemy, in the ceremonies of reception practised by all the mysterious Societies, we find the traces of a doctrine, everywhere the same, and everywhere carefully concealed. The occult philosophy seems to have been the nurse or the godmother of all religions, the secret lever of all the intellectual forces, the key of all divine obscurities, and the absolute Queen of Society, in the ages when it was exclusively reserved for the education of the Priests and Kings. It had reigned in Persia with the Magi, who perished one day, as the masters of the world had perished, for having abused their power. It had endowed India with the most marvellous traditions, and an incredible luxury of poetry, grace, and terror in its emblems: it had civilized Greece by the sounds of the lyre of Orpheus: it hid the principles of all the sciences, and of the whole progression of the human spirit, in the audacious calculations of Pythagoras: fable teemed with its miracles; and history, when it undertook to judge of this unknown power, confounded itself with fable: it shook or enfeebled empires by its oracles; made tyrants turn pale on their thrones, and ruled over all minds by means of curiosity or fear. To this science, said the crowd, nothing is impossible; it commands the elements, knows the language of the planets, and controls the movements of the stars; the moon, at its voice, falls, reeking with blood, from Heaven; the dead rise upright on their graves, and shape into fatal words the wind that breathes through their skulls. Controller of Love or Hate, this science can at pleasure confer on human hearts Paradise or Hell: it disposes at will of all forms, and distributes beauty or deformity as it pleases: it changes in turn, with the rod of Circe, men into brutes and animals into men: it even disposes of Life or of Death, and can bestow on its adepts riches by the transmutation of metals, and immortality by its quintessence and elixir, compounded of gold and light.
This is what magic had been, from Zoroaster to Manes, from Orpheus to Apollonius Thyaneus; when positive Christianity, triumphing over the splendid dreams and gigantic aspirations of the school of Alexandria, publicly crushed this philosophy with its anathemas, and compelled it to become more occult and more mysterious than ever.
At the bottom of magic, nevertheless, was science, as at the bottom of Christianity there was love; and in the Evangelic Symbols we see the incarnate WORD adored in its infancy by three magi whom a star guides (the ternary and the sign of the microcosm), and receiving from them gold frankincense, and myrrh; another mysterious ternary, under the emblem whereof are allegorically contained the highest secrets of the Kabala.
Christianity should not have hated magic; but human ignorance always fears the unknown. Science was obliged to conceal itself, to avoid the impassioned aggressions of a blind love. It enveloped itself in new hieroglyphs, concealed its efforts, disguised its hopes. Then was created the jargon of alchemy, a continual deception for the vulgar herd, greedy of gold, and a living language for the true disciples of Hermes alone.
Resorting to Masonry, the alchemists there invented Degrees, and partly unveiled their doctrine to their Initiates; not by the language of their receptions, but by oral instruction afterward; for their rituals, to one who has not the key, are but incomprehensible and absurd jargon.
Among the sacred books of the Christians are two works which the infallible church does not pretend to understand, and never attempts to explain,–the prophecy of Ezekiel and the Apocalypse; two cabalistic clavicules, reserved, no doubt, in Heaven, for the exposition of the Magian kings; closed with Seven seals for all faithful believers; and perfectly clear to the unbeliever initiated in the occult sciences.
For Christians, and in their opinion, the scientific and magical clavicules of Solomon are lost. Nevertheless, it is certain that, in the domain of intelligence governed by the WORD, nothing that is written is lost. Only those things which men cease to understand no longer exist for them, at least as WORD; then they enter into the domain of enigmas and mystery.
The mysterious founder of the Christian Church was saluted in His cradle by the three Magi, that is to say by the hieratic ambassadors from the three parts of the known world, and from the three analogical worlds of the occult philosophy.
In the school of Alexandria, Magic and Christianity almost take each other by the hand under the auspices of Ammonius Saccos and Plato. The dogma of Hermes is found almost entire in the writings attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite. Synesius traces the plan of a treatise on dreams, which was subsequently to be commented on by Cardan, and composes hymns which might serve for the liturgy of the Church of Swedenborg, if a church of illuminati could have a liturgy.
To this epoch of ardent abstractions and impassioned logomachies belongs the philosophical reign of Julian, an illuminatus and Initiate of the first order, who believed in the unity of God and the universal Dogma of the Trinity, and regretted the loss of nothing of the old world but its magnificent symbols and too graceful images. He was no Pagan, but a Gnostic, infected with the allegories of Grecian polytheism, and whose misfortune it was to find the name of Jesus Christ less sonorous than that of Orpheus.
We may be sure that so soon as Religion and Philosophy become distinct departments, the mental activity of the age is in advance of its Faith; and that, though habit may sustain the latter for a time, its vitality is gone.
The dunces who led primitive Christianity astray, by substituting faith for science, reverie for experience, the fantastic for the reality; and the inquisitors who for so many ages waged against Magism a war of extermination, have succeeded in shrouding in darkness the ancient discoveries of the human mind; so that we now grope in the dark to find again the key of the phenomena of nature. But all natural phenomena depend on a single and immutable law, represented by the philosophal stone and its symbolic form, which is that of a cube. This law, expressed in the Kabala by the number 4, furnished the Hebrews with all the mysteries of their divine Tetragram.
Everything is contained in that word of four letters. It is the Azot of the Alchemists, the Thot of the Bohemians, the Taro of the Kabalists. It supplies to the Adept the last word of the human Sciences, and the Key of the Divine Power: but he alone understands how to avail himself of it who comprehends the necessity of never revealing it. If Œdipus, in place of slaying the Sphynx, had conquered it, and driven it into Thebes harnessed to his chariot, he would have been King, without incest, calamities, or exile. If Psyche, by submission and caresses, had persuaded Love to reveal himself, she would never have lost him. Love is one of the mythological images of the grand secret and the grand agent, because it expresses at once an action and a passion, a void and a plenitude, an arrow and a wound. The Initiates ought to understand this, and, lest the profane should overhear, Masonry never says too much.
When Science had been overcome in Alexandria by the fanaticism of the murderers of Hypatia, it became Christian, or, rather, it concealed itself under Christian disguises, with Ammonius, Synosius, and the author of the books of Dionysius the Areopagite. Then it was necessary to win the pardon of miracles by the appearances of superstition, and of science by a language unintelligible. Hieroglyphic writing was revived, and pantacles and characters were invented, that summed up a whole doctrine in a sign, a whole series of tendencies and revelations in a word. What was the object of the aspirants to knowledge? They sought for the secret of the great work, or the Philosophal Stone, or the perpetual motion, or the squaring of the circle, or the universal medicine; formulas which often saved them from persecution and general ill-will, by exposing them to the charge of folly; and each of which expressed one of the forces of the grand magical secret. This lasted until the time of the Roman de la Rose, which also expresses the mysterious and magical meaning of the poem of Dante, borrowed from the High Kabalah, that immense and concealed source of the universal philosophy.
It is not strange that man knows but little of the powers of the human will, and imperfectly appreciates them; since he knows nothing as to the nature of the will and its mode of operation. That his own will can move his arm, or compel another to obey him; that his thoughts, symbolically expressed by the signs of writing, can influence and lead other men, are mysteries as incomprehensible to him, as that the will of Deity could effect the creation of a Universe.
The powers of the will are as yet chiefly indefinite and unknown. Whether a multitude of well-established phenomena are to be ascribed to the power of the will alone, or to magnetism or some other natural agent, is a point as yet unsettled; but it is agreed by all that a concentrated effort of the will is in every case necessary to success.
That the phenomena are real is not to be doubted, unless credit is no longer to be given to human testimony; and if they are real, there is no reason for doubting the exercise heretofore, by many adepts, of the powers that were then termed magical. Nothing is better vouched for than the extraordinary performances of the Brahmins. No religion is supported by stronger testimony; nor has any one ever even attempted to explain what may well be termed their miracles.
How far, in this life, the mind and soul can act without and in-dependently of the body, no one as yet knows. That the will can act at all without bodily contact, and the phenomena of dreams, are mysteries that confound the wisest and most learned, whose explanations are but a Babel of words.
Man as yet knows little of the forces of nature. Surrounded, controlled, and governed by them, while he vainly thinks himself independent, not only of his race, but the universal nature and her infinite manifold forces, he is the slave of these forces, unless he becomes their master. He can neither ignore their existence nor be simply their neighbor.
There is in nature one most potent force, by means whereof a single man, who could possess himself of it, and should know how to direct it, could revolutionize and change the face of the world.
This force was known to the ancients. It is a universal agent, whose Supreme law is equilibrium; and whereby, if science can but learn how to control it, it will be possible to change the order of the Seasons, to produce in night the phenomena of day, to send a thought in an instant round the world, to heal or slay at a distance, to give our words universal success, and make them reverberate everywhere.
This agent, partially revealed by the blind guesses of the disciples of Mesmer, is precisely what the Adepts of the middle ages called the elementary matter of the great work. The Gnostics held that it composed the igneous body of the Holy Spirit; and it was adored in the secret rites of the Sabbat or the Temple, under the hieroglyphic figure of Baphomet or the hermaphroditic goat of Mendes.
There is a Life-Principle of the world, a universal agent, wherein are two natures and a double current, of love and wrath. This ambient fluid penetrates everything. It is a ray detached from the glory of the Sun, and fixed by the weight of the atmosphere and the central attraction. It is the body of the Holy Spirit, the universal Agent, the Serpent devouring his own tail. With this electro-magnetic ether, this vital and luminous caloric, the ancients and the alchemists were familiar. Of this agent, that phase of modern ignorance termed physical science talks incoherently, knowing naught of it save its effects; and theology might apply to it all its pretended definitions of spirit. Quiescent, it is appreciable by no human sense; disturbed or in movement, none can explain its mode of action; and to term it a “fluid,” and speak of its “currents,” is but to veil a profound ignorance under a cloud of words.
Force attracts force, life attracts life, health attracts health. It is a law of nature. If two children live together, and still more if they sleep together, and one is feeble and the other strong, the strong will absorb the feeble, and the latter will perish.
In schools, some pupils absorb the intellect of the others, and in every circle of men some one individual is soon found, who possesses himself of the wills of the others.
Enthralments by currents is very common; and one is carried away by the crowd, in morals as in physics. The human will has an almost absolute power in determining one’s acts; and every external demonstration of a will has an influence on external things.
Tissot ascribed most maladies to disorders of the will, or the perverse influences of the wills of others. We become subject to the wills of others by the analogies of our inclinations, and still more by those of our defects. To caress the weaknesses of an individual, is to possess ourself of him, and make of him an instrument in the order of the same errors or depravations. But when two natures, analogical in defects, are subordinated one to the other, there is effected a kind of substitution of the stronger instead of the weaker, and a genuine imprisonment of one mind by the other. Often the weaker struggles, and would fain revolt; and then falls lower than ever in servitude.
We each have some dominant defect, by which the enemy can grasp us. In some it is vanity, in others indolence, in most egotism. Let a cunning and evil spirit possess himself of this, and you are lost. Then you become, not foolish, nor an idiot, but positively a lunatic, the slave of an impulse from without. You have an instinctive horror for everything that could restore you to reason, and will not even listen to representations that contravene your insanity.
Miracles are the natural effects of exceptional causes.
The immediate action of the human will on bodies, or at least this action exercised without visible means, constitutes a miracle in the physical order.
The influence exercised on wills or intellects, suddenly or within a given time, and capable of taking captive the thoughts, changing the firmest resolutions, paralyzing the most violent passions, constitutes a miracle in the moral order.
The common error in relation to miracles is, to regard them as effects without causes; as contradictions of nature; as sudden fictions of the Divine imagination; and men do not reflect that a single miracle of this sort would break the universal harmony and re-plunge the Universe into Chaos.
There are miracles impossible to God Himself: absurd miracles are so. If God could be absurd for a single instant, neither He nor the Universe would exist an instant afterward. To expect of the Divine Free-Will an effect whose cause is unacknowledged or does not exist, is what is termed tempting God. It is to precipitate one’s self into the void.
God acts by His works: in Heaven, by angels; on earth, by men.
In the heaven of human conceptions, it is humanity that creates God; and men think that God has made them in His image, because they make Him in theirs.
The domain of man is all corporeal nature, visible on earth; and if he does not rule the planets or the stars, he can at least calculate their movement, measure their distances, and identify his will with their influence: he can modify the atmosphere, act to a certain point on the seasons, cure and afflict with sickness other men, preserve life and cause death.
The absolute in reason and will is the greatest power which it is given to men to attain; and it is by means of this power that what the multitude admires under the name of miracles, are effected.
POWER is the wise use of the will, which makes Fatality itself serve to accomplish the purposes of Sages.
Omnipotence is the most absolute Liberty; and absolute Liberty cannot exist without a perfect equilibrium; and the columns JACHIN and BOAZ are also the unlimited POWER and SPLENDOR OF PERFECTION of the Deity, the seventh and eighth SEPHIROTH of the Kabalah, from whose equilibrium result the eternal permanence and Stability of His plans and works, and of that perfect Success and undivided, unlimited Dominion, which are the ninth and tenth SEPHIROTH, and of which the Temple of Solomon, in its stately symmetry, erected without the sound of any tool of metal being heard, is to us a symbol. “For Thine,” says the Most Perfect of Prayers, “is the DOMINION, the POWER, and the GLORY, during all the ages! Amen!”
The ABSOLUTE is the very necessity of BEING, the immutable law of Reason and of Truth. It is THAT WHICH IS. BUT THAT WHICH IS is in some sort before HE WHO IS. God Himself is not without a reason of existence. He does not exist accidentally. He could not not have been. His Existence, then, is necessitated, is necessary. He can exist only in virtue of a Supreme and inevitable REASON. That REASON, then, is THE ABSOLUTE; for it is in IT we must believe, if we would that our faith should have a reasonable and solid basis. It has been said in our times, that God is a Hypothesis; but Absolute Reason is not one: it is essential to Existence.
Saint Thomas said, “A thing is not just because God wills it, BUT GOD WILLS IT BECAUSE IT IS JUST.” If he had deduced all the consequences of this fine thought, he would have discovered the true Philosopher’s Stone; the magical elixir, to convert all the trials of the world into golden mercies. Precisely as it is a necessity for God to BE, so it is a necessity for Him to be just, loving, and merciful. He cannot be unjust, cruel, merciless. He cannot repeal the law of right and wrong, of merit and demerit; for the moral laws are as absolute as the physical laws. There are impossible things. As it is impossible to make two and two be five and not four; as it is impossible to make a thing be and not be at the same time; so it is impossible for the Deity to make crime a merit, and love and gratitude crimes. So, too, it was impossible to make Man perfect, with his bodily senses and appetites, as it was to make his nerves susceptible of pleasure and not also of pain.
Therefore, according to the idea of Saint Thomas, the moral laws are the enactments of the Divine WILL, only because they are the decisions of the Absolute WISDOM and REASON, and the Revelations of the Divine NATURE. In this alone consists the right of Deity to enact them; and thus only do we attain the certainty in Faith that the Universe is one Harmony.
To believe in the Reason of God, and in the God of Reason, is to make Atheism impossible. It is the Idolaters who have made the Atheists.
Analogy gives the Sage all the forces of Nature. It is the key of the Grand Arcanum, the root of the Tree of Life, the science of Good and Evil.
The Absolute, is REASON. Reason IS, by means of Itself. It IS BECAUSE IT IS, and not because we suppose it. IT IS, where nothing exists; but nothing could possibly exist without IT. Reason is Necessity, Law, the Rule of all Liberty, and the direction of every Initiative. If God IS, HE IS by Reason. The conception of an Absolute Deity, outside of, or independent of, Reason, is the IDOL of Black Magic, the PHANTOM of the Dæmon. The Supreme Intelligence is necessarily rational. God, in philosophy, can be no more than a Hypothesis; but a Hypothesis imposed by good sense on Human Reason. To personify the Absolute Reason, is to determine the Divine Ideal.
NECESSITY, LIBERTY, and REASON! Behold the great and Supreme Triangle of the Kabalists!
FATALITY, WILL, and POWER! Such is the magical ternary which, in human things, corresponds with the Divine Triangle.
FATALITY is the inevitable linking together, in succession, of effects and causes, in a given order.
WILL is the faculty that directs the forces of the Intellect, so as to reconcile the liberty of persons with the necessity of things.
The argument from these premises must be made by yourself. Each one of us does that. “Seek,” say the Holy Writings, “and ye shall find.” Yet discussion is not forbidden; and without doubt the subject will be fully treated of in your hearing hereafter. Affirmation, negation, discussion,–it is by these the truth is attained.
To explore the great Mysteries of the Universe and seek to solve its manifold enigmas, is the chief use of Thought, and constitutes the principal distinction between Man and the animals. Accordingly, in all ages the Intellect has labored to understand and explain to itself the Nature of the Supreme Deity.
That one Reason and one Will created and governed the Universe was too evident not to be at once admitted by the philosophers of all ages. It was the ancient religions that sought to multiply gods. The Nature of the One Deity, and the mode in which the Universe had its beginning, are questions that have always been the racks in which the human intellect has been tortured: and it is chiefly with these that the Kabalists have dealt.
It is true that, in one sense, we can have no actual knowledge of the Absolute Itself, the very Deity. Our means of obtaining what is commonly termed actual knowledge, are our senses only. If to see and feel be knowledge, we have none of our own Soul, of electricity, of magnetism. We see and feel and taste an acid or an alkali, and know something of the qualities of each; but it is only when we use them in combination with other substances, and learn their effects, that we really begin to know their nature. It is the combination and experiments of Chemistry that give as a knowledge of the nature and powers of most animal and vegetable substances. As these are cognizable by inspection by our senses, we may partially know them by that alone: but the Soul, either of ourself or of another, being beyond that cognizance, can only be known by the acts and words which are its effects. Magnetism and electricity, when at rest, are equally beyond the jurisdiction of the senses; and when they are in action, we see, feel, hear, taste, and smell only their effects. We do not know what they are, but only what they do. We can know the attributes of Deity only through His manifestations. To ask anything more, is to ask, not knowledge, but something else, for which we have no name. God is a Power; and we know nothing of any Power itself, but only its effects, results, and action, and what Reason teaches us by analogy;
In these later days, in laboring to escape from all material ideas in regard to Deity, we have so refined away our notions of GOD, as to have no idea of Him at all. In struggling to regard Him as a pure immaterial Spirit, we have made the word Spirit synonymous with nothing, and can only say that He is a Somewhat, with certain attributes, such as Power, Wisdom, and Intelligence. To compare Him to LIGHT, would now be deemed not only unphilosophical, but the equivalent of Atheism; and we find it necessary to excuse and pity the ancients for their inadequate and gross ideas of Deity, expressed in considering Him as the Light-Principle, the invisible essence or substance from which visible Light flows.
Yet our own holy writings continually speak of Him as Light; and therefore the Tsabeans and the Kabala may well be pardoned for doing the same; especially since they did not regard Him as the visible Light known to us, but as the Primordial Ether-Ocean from which light flows.
Before the creation, did the Deity dwell alone in the Darkness, or in the Light? Did the Light co-exist with Him, or was it created, after an eternity of darkness? and if it co-existed, was it an effluence from Him, filling all space as He also filled it, He and the Light at the same time filling the same place and every place?
MILTON says, expressing the Hebraic doctrine:
Or of th’ Eternal, co-eternal beam!
May I express thee unblamed, since God is Light. p. 740
And never but in unapproached Light
Dwelt from Eternity; dwelt then in Thee,
Bright effluence of bright Essence uncreate.”
“The LIGHT,” says the Book Omschim, or Introduction to the Kabala, “Supremest of all things, and most Lofty, and Limitless, and styled INFINITE, can be attained unto by no cogitation or speculation; and its VERY SELF is evidently withdrawn and removed beyond all intellection. It WAS, before all things whatever, produced, created, formed, and made by Emanation; and in it was neither Time, Head, or Beginning; since it always existed, and remains forever, without commencement or end.”
“Before the Emanations flowed forth, and created things were created, the Supreme Light was infinitely extended, and filled the whole WHERE; so that with reference to Light no vacuum could be affirmed, nor any unoccupied space; but the ALL was filled with that Light of the Infinite, thus extended, whereto in every regard was no end, inasmuch as nothing was, except that extended Light, which, with a certain single and simple equality, was everywhere like unto itself.”
AINSOPH is called Light, says the Introduction to the Sohar, because it is impossible to express it by any other word.
To conceive of God as an actuality, and not as a mere non-substance or name, which involved non-existence, the Kabala, like the Egyptians, imagined Him to be “a most occult Light,” AUR; not our material and visible Light, but the Substance out of which Light flows, the fire, as relative to its heat and flame. Of this Light or Ether, the Sun was to the Tsabeans the only manifestation or out-shining, and as such it was worshipped, and not as the type of dominion and power. God was the Pho_s Noe_ton, the Light cognizable only by the Intellect, the Light-Principle, the Light-Ether, from which souls emanate, and to which they return.
Light, Fire, and Flame, with the Phœnicians, were the sons of Kronos. They are the Trinity in the Chaldæan Oracles, the AOR of the Deity, manifested in flame, that issues out of the invisible Fire.
In the first three Persian Amshaspands, Lords of LIGHT, FIRE, and SPLENDOR, we recognize the AOR, ZOHAR, and ZAYO, Light, Splendor, and Brightness, of the Kabalah. The first of these is termed AOR MUPALA, Wonderful or Hidden Light, unrevealed, undisplayed–which is KETHER, the first Emanation or Sephirah, the Will of Deity: the second is NESTAR, Concealed–which is HAKEMAH, the second Sephirah, or the Intellectual Potence of the Deity: and the third is METANOTSATS, coruscating–which is BINAH, the third Sephirah, or the intellectual producing capacity. In other words, they are THE VERY SUBSTANCE of light, in the Deity: Fire, which is that light, limited and furnished with attributes, so that it can be revealed, but yet remains unrevealed, and its splendor or out-shining, or the light that goes out from the fire.
Masonry is a search after Light. That search leads us directly back, as you see, to the Kabalah. In that ancient and little understood medley of absurdity and philosophy, the Initiate will find the source of many doctrines; and may in time come to understand the Hermetic philosophers, the Alchemists, all the Anti-papal Thinkers of the Middle Ages, and Emanuel Swedenborg.
The Hansavati Rich, a celebrated Sanscrit Stanza, says: “He is Hansa (the Sun), dwelling in light; Vasu, the atmosphere dwelling in the firmament; the invoker of the gods (Agni), dwelling on the altar (i.e., the altar fire); the guest (of the worshipper), dwelling in the house (the domestic fire); the dweller amongst men (as consciousness); the dweller in the most excellent orb, (the Sun); the dweller in truth; the dweller in the sky (the air); born in the waters, in the rays of light, in the verity (of manifestation), in the Eastern mountains; the Truth (itself).”
“In the beginning,” says a Sanscrit hymn, “arose the Source of golden light. He was the only born Lord of all that is. He established the earth and the sky. Who is the God to Whom we shall offer our sacrifice?”
“He who gives life, He who gives strength; Whose blessing all the bright gods desire; Whose shadow is immortality; Whose shadow is death; Who is the God, etc?”
“He through Whom the sky is bright and the earth for us; He through Whom the Heaven was established, nay, the highest Heaven; He who measured out the light in the air; Who is the God, etc?”
“He to Whom the Heaven and earth, standing firm by His will, look up trembling inwardly; He over Whom the rising sun shines forth; Who is the God, etc?”
“Wherever the mighty water-clouds went, where they placed the seed and lit the fire, thence arose He Who is the only life of the bright gods; Who is the God, etc?”
The WORD of God, said the Indian philosophy, is the universal ‘and invisible Light, cognizable by the senses, that emits its blaze in the Sun, Moon, Planets, and other Stars. Philo calls it the “Universal Light,” which loses a portion of its purity and splendor in descending from the intellectual to the sensible world, manifesting itself outwardly from the Deity; and the Kabalah represents that only so much of the Infinite Light flowed into the circular void prepared for creation within the Infinite Light and Wisdom, as could pass by a canal like a line or thread. The Sephiroth, emanating from the Deity, were the rays of His splendor.
The Chaldæan Oracles said: “The intellect of the Generator, stirred to action, out-spoke, forming within itself, by intellection, universals of every possible form and fashion, which issued out, flowing forth from the One Source . . . For Deity, impersonated as Dominion, before fabricating the manifold Universe, posited an intellected and unchangeable universal, the impression of the form whereof goes forth through the Universe; and that Universe, formed and fashioned accordingly, becomes visibly beautified in infinitely varying types and forms, the Source and fountain whereof is one. . . . Intellectual conceptions and forms from the Generative source, succeeding each other, considered in relation to ever-progressing Time, and intimately partaking of THE PRIMAL ETHER or FIRE; but yet all these Universals and Primal Types and Ideas flowed forth from, and are part of, the first Source of the Generative Power, perfect in itself.”
The Chaldæans termed the Supreme Deity ARAOR, Father of Light. From Him was supposed to flow the light above the world, which illuminates the heavenly regions. This Light or Fire was considered as the Symbol of the Divine Essence, extending itself to inferior spiritual natures. Hence the Chaldæan oracles say: “The Father took from Himself, and did not confine His proper fire within His intellectual potency:” . . “All things are begotten from one Fire.”
The Tsabeans held that all inferior spiritual beings were emanations from the Supreme Deity; and therefore Proclus says: “The progression of the gods is one and continuous, proceeding downward from the intelligible and latent unities, and terminating in the last partition of the Divine cause.” It is impossible to speak clearly of the Divinity. Whoever attempts to express His attributes by the help of abstractions, confines himself to negatives, and at once loses sight of his ideas, in wandering through a wilderness of words. To heap Superlatives on Superlatives, and call Him best, wisest, greatest, is but to exaggerate qualities which- are found in man. That there exists one only God, and that He is a Perfect and Beneficent Being, Reason legitimately teaches us; but of the Divine Nature, of the Substance of the Deity, of the manner of His Existence, or of the mode of creation of His Universe, the human mind is inadequate to form any just conception. We can affix no clear ideas to Omnipotence, Omniscience, Infinity or Eternity; and we have no more right to attribute intelligence to Him, than any other mental quality of ourselves, extended indefinitely; or than we have to attribute our senses to Him, and our bodily organs, as the Hebrew writings do.
We satisfy ourselves with negativing in the Deity everything that constitutes existence, so far as we are capable of conceiving of existence. Thus He becomes to us logically nothing, Non-Ens. The Ancients saw no difference between that and Atheism, and sought to conceive of Him as something real. It is a necessity of Human Nature. The theological idea, or rather non-idea, of the Deity, is not shared or appreciated by the unlearned. To them, God will always be The Father Who is in Heaven, a Monarch on His Throne, a Being with human feelings and human sympathies, angry at their misdeeds, lenient if they repent, accessible to their supplications. It is the Humanity, far more than the Divinity, of Christ, that makes the mass of Christians worship Him, far more than they do the Father.
“The Light of the Substance of The Infinite,” is the Kabalistic expression. Christ was, according to Saint John, “the Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the. world”; and “that Light was the life of men.” “The Light shone in the darkness: and the darkness comprehended it not.”
The ancient ideas in respect to Light were perhaps quite as correct as our own. It does not appear that they ascribed to Light any of the qualities of matter. But modern Science defines it to be a flood of particles of matter, flowing or shot out from the Sun and Stars, and moving through space to come to us. On the theories of mechanism and force, what force of attraction here or repulsion at the Sun or at the most distant Star could draw or drive these impalpable, weightless, infinitely minute particles, appreciably by the Sense of Sight alone, so far through space? What has become of the immense aggregate of particles that have reached the earth since the creation? Have they increased its bulk? Why cannot chemistry detect and analyze them? If matter, why can they travel only in right lines?
No characteristic of matter belongs to Light, or Heat, or flame, or to Galvanism, Electricity, and Magnetism. The electric spark is light, and so is that produced by the flint, when it cuts off particles of steel. Iron, melted or heated, radiates light; and insects, infusoria, and decayed wood emit it. Heat is produced by friction and by pressure; to explain which, Science tells us of latent Caloric, thus representing it to us as existing without its only known distinctive quality. What quality of matter enables lightning, blazing from the Heavens, to rend the oak? What quality of matter enables it to make the circuit of the earth in a score of seconds?
Profoundly ignorant of the nature of these mighty agents of Divine Power, we conceal our ignorance by words that have no meaning; and we might well be asked why Light may not be an effluence from the Deity, as has been agreed by all the religions of all the Ages of the World.
All truly dogmatic religions have issued from the Kabalah and return to it: everything scientific and grand in the religious dreams of all the illuminati, Jacob Bœhme, Swedenborg, Saint-Martin, and others, is borrowed from the Kabalah; all the Masonic associations owe to it their Secrets and their Symbols.
The Kabalah alone consecrates the alliance of the Universal Reason and the Divine Word; it establishes, by the counterpoises of two forces apparently opposite, the eternal balance of being; it alone reconciles Reason with Faith, Power with Liberty, Science with Mystery; it has the keys of the Present, the Past, and the Future.
The Bible, with all the allegories it contains, expresses, in an incomplete and veiled manner only, the religious science of the Hebrews. The doctrine of Moses and the Prophets, identical at bottom with that of the ancient Egyptians, also had its outward meaning and its veils. The Hebrew books were written only to recall to memory the traditions; and they were written in Symbols unintelligible to the Profane. The Pentateuch and the prophetic poems were merely elementary books of doctrine, morals, or liturgy; and the hue secret and traditional philosophy was only written afterward, under veils still less transparent. Thus was a second Bible born, unknown to, or rather uncomprehended by, the Christians; a collection, they say, of monstrous absurdities; a monument, the adept says, wherein is everything that the genius of philosophy and that of religion have ever formed or imagined of the sublime; a treasure surrounded by thorns; a diamond concealed in a rough dark stone.
One is filled with admiration, on penetrating into the Sanctuary of the Kabalah, at seeing a doctrine so logical, so simple, and at the same time so absolute. The necessary union of ideas and signs, the consecration of the most fundamental realities by the primitive characters; the Trinity of Words, Letters, and Numbers; a philosophy simple as the alphabet, profound and infinite as the Word; theorems more complete and luminous than those of Pythagoras; a theology summed up by counting on one’s fingers; an Infinite which can be held in the hollow of an infant’s hand; ten ciphers, and twenty-two letters, a triangle, a square, and a circle,–these are all the elements of the Kabalah. These are the elementary principles of the written Word, reflection of that spoken Word that created the world!
This is the doctrine of the Kabalah, with which you will no doubt seek to make yourself acquainted, as to the Creation.
The Absolute Deity, with the Kabalists, has no name. The terms applied to Him are ו ?A?W?R ףה?Sה?W?T, AOR PASOT, the Most Simple [or Pure] Light, “called, ו ?A?Yנ ?S?Wפ, AYEN SOPH, or INFINITE, before any Emanation. For then there was no space or vacant place, but all was infinite Light.”
Before the Deity created any Ideal, any limited and intelligible Nature, or any form whatever, He was alone, and without form or similitude, and there could be no cognition or comprehension of Him in any wise. He was without Idea or Figure, and it is forbidden to form any Idea or Figure of Him, neither by the letter He (ו ?H), nor by the letter Yo_d (ו ?Y), though these are contained in the Holy Name; nor by any other letter or point in the world.
But after He created this Idea [this limited and existing-in-intellection Nature, which the ten Numerations, SEPHIROTH or Rays are], of the Medium, the First Man ADAM KADMON, He descended therein, that, by means of this Idea, He might be called by the name TETRAGRAMMATON; that created things might have cognition of Him, in His own likeness.
When the Infinite God willed to emit what were to flow forth, He contracted Himself in the centre of His light, in such manner that that most intense light should recede to a certain circumference, and on all sides upon itself. And this is the first contraction, and termed ו ?Cם?Cמ Tsemsum.
ו ?A?Dמ ?Q?Dם?Wנ, ADAM KADMON, the Primal or First Man, is the first Aziluthic emanant from the Infinite Light, immitted into the evacuated Space, and from which, afterward, all the other degrees and systems had their beginnings. It is. called the Adam prior to all the first. In it are imparted ten spherical numerations; and thereafter issued forth the rectilinear figure of a man in his sephirothic decade, as it were the diameter of the said circles; as it were the axis of these spheres, reaching from their highest point to their lowest; and from it depend all the systems.
But now, as the Infinite Light would be too excellent and great to be borne and endured, except through the medium of this Adam Kadmon, its most Secret Nature preventing this, its illuminating light had again to emanate in streams out of itself, by certain apertures, as it were, like windows, and which are termed the ears, eyes, nostrils, and mouth.
The light proceeding from this Adam Kadmon is indeed but one; but in proportion to its remoteness from the place of out-flowing, and to the grades of its descent, it is more dense.
From the word ו ?A?C?L, ATSIL, to emanate or flow forth, comes the word ו ?A?C?Y?L?W?Tה, ATSILOTH or Aziluth, Emanation, or the System of Emanants. When the primal space was evacuated, the surrounding Light of the Infinite, and the Light immitted into the void, did not touch each other; but the Light of the Infinite flowed into that void through a line or certain slender canal; and that Light is the Emanative and emitting Principle, or the out-flow and origin of Emanation: but the Light within the void is the emanant subordinate; and the two cohere only by means of the aforesaid line.
Aziluth means specifically and principally the first system of the four Olamoth [ו ?O?Lם?W?Tה], worlds or systems; which is thence called the Aziluthic World. The ten Sephiroth of the general Aziluthic system are ten Nekudoth or Points.
ו ?A?Yן?Zפ AINSOPH, AENSOPH, or AYENSOPH, is the title of the Cause of Causes, its meaning being “endless,” because there is no limit to Its loftiness, and nothing can comprehend it. Sometimes, also, the name is applied to KETHER, or the CROWN, the first emanation, because that is the Throne of the Infinite, that is, its first and highest Seat, than which none is higher, and because Ainsoph resides and is concealed therein: hence it rejoices in the same name.
Before that anything was, says the Emech Hammelech, He, of His mere will, proposed to Himself to make worlds . . . but at that time there was no vacant space for worlds; but all space was filled with the light of His Substance, which He had with fixed limits placed in the centre of Himself, and of the parts whereof, and wherein, He was thereafter to effect a folding together.
What then did the Lord of the Will, that most perfectly free Agent, do? By His own estimation, He measured off within His own Substance the width and length of a circular space to be made vacant, and wherein might be posited the worlds aforesaid; and of that Light which was included within the circle so measured, He compressed and folded over a certain portion . . . and that Light He lifted higher up, and so a place was left unoccupied by the Primal Light.
But yet was not this space left altogether empty of that Light; for the vestiges of the Primal Light still remained in the place where Itself had been; and they did not recede therefrom.
Before the Emanations out-flowed, and created things were created, the Supreme Light was infinitely extended, and filled the whole Where: nothing was, except that extended light, called AOR H’ AINSOPH, the Light of the non-finite.
When it came into the mind of the Extended to will to make worlds, and by forth-flowing to utter Emanations, and to emit as Light the perfection of His active powers, and of His aspects and attributes, which was the impelling cause of the creation of worlds; then that Light, in some measure compressed, receded in every direction from a particular central point, and on all sides of it drew back, and so a certain vacuum was left, called void space, its circumference everywhere equidistant from that point which was exactly in the centre of the space . . . a certain void place and space left in Mid-Infinite: a certain Where was thereby constituted wherein Emanations might BE, and the Created, the Fashioned and the Fabricated.
This world of the garmenting,–this circular vacant space, with the vestiges of the withdrawn light of the Infinite yet remaining, is the inmost garment, nearest to His substance; and to it belongs the name AOR PENAI-AL, Light of the Countenance of God.
An interspace surrounds this great circle, established between the light of the very substance, surrounding the circle on its outside, and the substance contained within the circle. This is called SPLENDOR EXCELSUS, in contradistinction to Simple Splendor.
This light “of the vestige of the garment,” is said to be, relatively to that of the vestige of the substance, like a point in the centre of a circle. This light, a point in the centre of the Great Light, is called Auir, Ether, or Space.
This Ether is somewhat more gross than the Light–not so Subtle–though not perceptible by the Senses–is termed the Primal Ether–extends everywhere; Philosophers call it the Soul of the World.
The Light so forth-shown from the Deity, cannot be said to be severed or diverse from Him. “It is flashed forth from Him, and yet all continues to be perfect unity . . . The Sephiroth, sometimes called the Persons of the Deity, are His rays, by which He is enabled most perfectly to manifest Himself.
The Introduction to the Book SONAR says:
The first compression was effected, in order that the Primal Light might be upraised, and a space become vacant. The second compression occurred when the vestiges of the removed Light remaining were compressed into points; and that compression was effected by means of the emotion of joy; the Deity rejoicing, it had already been said, on account of His Holy People, thereafter to come into being; and that joy being vehement, and a commotion and exhilaration in the Deity being caused by it, so that He flowed forth in His delight; and of this commotion an abstract power of judgment being generated, which is a collection of the letters generated by the points of the vestiges of Light left within the circle. For He writes the finite expressions, or limited manifestations of Himself upon the Book, in single letters.
Like as when water or fire, it had been said, is blown upon by the wind, it is wont to be greatly moved, and with flashes like lightning to smite the eyes, and gleam and coruscate hither and thither, even so The Infinite was moved within Himself, and shone and coruscated in that circle, from the centre outward and again to the centre: and that commotion we term exhilaration; and from that exhilaration, variously divided within Himself, was generated the potency of determining the fashioning of the letters.
Of that exhilaration, it had also been said, was generated the determination of forms, by which determination the Infinite determined them within Himself, as if by saying: “Let this Sphere be the appointed place, wherein let all worlds be created!”
He, by radiating and coruscating, effected the points, so that their sparkling should smite the eyes like lightning. Then He combined diversely the single points, until letters were fashioned thereof, in the similitude and image of those wherewith THE BLESSED had set forth the decrees of His Wisdom.
It is not possible to attain to an understanding of the creation of man, except by the mystery of letters; and in these worlds of The Infinite is nothing, except the letters of the Alphabet and their combinations. All the worlds are Letters and Names; but He Who is the Author of all, has no name.
This world of the covering [or garment—vestimenti], [that is, the circular vacant space, with the vestiges of the removed Light of The Infinite still remaining after the first contraction and compression], is the inmost covering, nearest to His substance; and to this covering belongs the general name AUR PENIAL, Light of the Countenance of God: by which we are to understand the Light of The Substance.
And after this covering was effected, He contracted it, so as to lift up the lower moiety; . . . and this is the third contraction; and in this manner He made vacant a space for the worlds, which had not the capacity to use the great Light of the covering, the end whereof was lucid and excellent as its beginning. And so [by drawing up the lower half and half the letters], are made the Male and Female, that is, the anterior and posterior adhering mutually to one another.
The vacant space effected by this retraction is called AUIR KADMON, the PRIMAL SPACE: for it was the first of all Spaces; nor was it allowable to call it covering, which is AUR PENI-BAL, the Light of the Countenance of God. The vestiges of the Light of the Garment still remained there. And this world of the garment has a name that includes all things, which is the name IHUH. Before the world of the vacant space was created, HE was, and His Name, and they alone; that is, AINSOPH and His garmenting.
The EMECH HAMMELECH says again:
The lower half of the garment [by the third retraction], was left empty of the light of the garment. But the vestiges of that light remained in the place so vacated . . . and this garment is called SHEKINAH, God in-dwelling; that is, the place where ו ?Y?H Yo_d He, of the anterior [or male], and ו ?W?H Vav He, of the posterior [or female], combinations of letters dwelt.
This vacant space was square, and is called the Primal Space; and in Kabalah it is called Auira Kadmah, or Rasimu Ailah, The Primal Space, or The Sublime Vestige. It is the vestige of the Light of the Garment, with which is intermingled somewhat of the vestige of the Very Substance. It is called Primal Ether, but not void Space. . . The Light of the Vestige still remains in the place it occupied, and adheres there, like somewhat spiritual, of extreme tenuity.
In this Ether are two Lights; that is, the Light of the SUBSTANCE, which was taken away, and that of the Garment. There is a vast difference between the two; for that of the Vestige of the Garment is, relatively to that of the Vestige of the Substance, like a point in the centre of a circle. And as the only appropriate name for the Light of the Vestige of Ainsoph is AUR, Light, therefore the Light of the Vestige of the Garment could not be called by that name; and so we term it a point, that is, Yo_d [’ or ו ?Y], which is that point in the centre of Light . . . and this Light, a point in the centre of the Great Light, is called Auir, Ether, or Space.
This Ether is somewhat more gross than The Light . . . . not so subtle, though not perceptible by the senses . . . is termed the Primal Ether . . . extends everywhere; whence the Philosophers call it The Soul of the World . . . Light is visible, though not perceptible. This Ether is neither perceptible nor visible.
The Introduction to the Book Sohar continues, in the Section of the Letter Yo_d, etc:
Worlds could not be framed in this Primal Ether, on account of its extreme tenuity and the excess of Light; and also because in it remained the vital Spirit of the Vestige of the Light Ainsoph, and that of the Vestige of the Light of the Garment; whereby such manifestation was prevented.
Wherefore HE directed the letter Yo_d, since it was not so brilliant as the Primal Ether, to descend, and take to itself the light remaining in the Primal Ether, and return above, with that Vestige which so impeded the manifestation; which Yo_d did.
It descended below five times, to remove the vital Spirit of the Vestige of the Light Ainsoph; and the Vestige of the Light and vital Spirit of the Garment from the Sphere of Splendor, so as to make of it ADAM, called KADMON. And by its return, manifestation is effected in the space below, and a Vestige of the Sublime Brilliance yet remains there, existing as a Spherical Shape, and termed in the Sohar simply Tehiru, that is, Splendor; and it is styled The First Matter. . . . it being, as it were, vapor, and, as it were, smoke. And as smoke is formless, not comprehended under any fixed definite form, so this Sphere is a formless somewhat, since it seems to be somewhat that is spherical, and yet is not limited.
The letter Yo_d, while adhering to the Shekinah, had adhering to himself the Light of the Shekinah, though his light was not so great as that of the Shekinah. But when he descended, he left that light of his own below, and the Splendor consisted of it. After which there was left in Yo_d only a vestige of that light, inasmuch as he could not re-ascend to the Shekinah and adhere to it. Wherefore The Holy and Blessed directed the letter He [ו ?H, the female letter], to communicate to Yo_d of her Light; and sent him forth, to descend and share with that light in the Splendor aforesaid . . . and when he re-descended into the Sphere of Splendor, he diffused abroad in it the Light communicated to him by the letter He.
And when he again ascended he left behind him the productive light of the letter He, and thereof was constituted another Sphere, within the Sphere of Splendor; which lesser Sphere is termed in the Sohar KETHER AILAH, CORONA SUMMA, The Supreme Crown, and also ATIKA DI ATIKIM, Antiquus Antiquum, The Ancient of Ancients, and even AILIT H’ AILIT, Causa Causarum, the Cause of Causes. But the Crown is very far smaller than the Sphere of Splendor, so that within the latter an immense unoccupied place and space is still left. The BETH ALOHIM says:
Before the Infinite God, the Supreme and First Good, formed objectively within Himself a particular conception, definite, limited, and the object of intellection, and gave form and shape to an intellectual conception and image. HE was alone, companionless, without form or similitude, utterly without Ideal or Figure . . . It is forbidden to make of Him any figure whatever, by any image in the world, neither by the letter He nor by the letter Yo_d, nor by any other letter or point in the world.
But after He had formed this Idea, the particular conception, limited and intelligible, which the Ten Numerations are, of the medium of transmission, Adam Kadmon, the Primal or Supreme Man, He by that medium descended, and may, through that Idea, be called by the name IHUH, and so created things have cognizance of Him, by means of His proper likeness.
Woe unto him who makes God to be like unto any mode or attribute whatever, even were it to one of His own; and still more if he make Him like unto the Sons of Men, whose elements are earthly, and so are consumed and perish!
There can be no conception had of Him, except in so far as He manifests Himself, in exercising dominion by and through some attribute . . . Abstracted from this, there can be no attribute, conception, or ideal of Him. He is comparable only to the Sea, filling some great reservoir, its bed in the earth, for example; wherein it fashions for itself a certain concavity, so that thereby we may begin to compute the dimensions of the Sea itself.
For example, the Spring and Source of the Ocean is a somewhat, which is one. If from this Source or Spring there issues forth a certain fountain, proportioned to the space occupied by the Sea in that hemispherical reservoir, such as is the letter Yo_d, there the Source of Spring is the first somewhat, and the fountain that flows forth from it is the second. Then let there be made a great reservoir, as by excavation, and let this be called the Ocean, and we have the third thing, a vessel [Vas]. Now let this great reservoir be divided into seven beds of rivers, that is, into seven oblong reservoirs, so that from this ocean the waters may flow forth in- seven rivers; and the Source, Fountain, and Ocean thus make ten in all.
The Cause of Causes made ten Numerations, and called the Source of Spring KETHER, Corona, the Crown, in which the idea of circularity is involved, for there is no end to the out-flow of Light; and therefore He called this, like Himself, endless; for this also, like Him, has no similitude or configuration, nor hath it any vessel or receptacle wherein it may be contained, or by means whereof any possible cognizance can be had of it.
After thus forming the Crown, He constituted a certain smaller receptacle, the letter Yo_d, and filled it from that source; and this is called “The Fountain gushing with Wisdom,” and, manifested in this, He called Himself WISE, and the vessel He called HAKEMAH, Wisdom, Sapientia.
Then He also constituted a great reservoir, which He called the Ocean; and to it He gave the name of BINAH, Understanding, Intelligentia. In this He characterized Himself as Intelligent or Conceiver. HE is indeed the Absolutely Wise and Intelligent, but Hakemah is not Absolute Wisdom of itself, but is wise by means of Binah, who fills Himself from it, and if this supply were taken from it, would be dry and unintelligent.
And thereupon seven precious vessels become, to which are given the following names: GEDULAH, Magnificence or Benignity [or KHASED, Mercy]; GEBURAH, Austerity, Rigor or Severity; TEPHARETH, Beauty; NETSAKH, Victory; HO_D, Glory; YESOD, Foundation or Basis; and MALAKOTH, Rule, Reign, Royalty, Dominion or Power. And in GEDULAH He took the character of Great and Benignant; in GEBURAH, of Severe; in TEPHARETH, of Beautiful; in NETSAKH, of Overcoming; in HO_D, of OUR GLORIOUS AUTHOR; in YESOD, of Just, by Yesod all vessels and worlds being upheld; and in MALAKOTH He applied to Himself the title of King.
These numerations or Sephiroths are held in the Kabala to have been originally contained in each other; that is, Kether contained the nine others, Hakemah contained Binah, and Binah contained the last seven.
For all things, says the commentary of Rabbi Jizchak Lorja, in a certain most abstruse manner, consist or reside and are contained in Binah, and it projects them, and sends them downward, species by species, into the several worlds of Emanation, Creation, Formation, and Fabrication; all whereof are derived from what are above them, and are termed their out-flowings; for, from the potency which was their state there, they descend into actuality. The INTRODUCTION says:
It is said in many places in the Sohar, that all things that emanate or are created have their root above. Hence also the Ten Sephiroth have their root above, in the world of the garment, with the very Substance of HIM. And AINSOPH had full consciousness and appreciation, prior to their actual existence, of all the Grades and Impersonations contained unmanifested within Himself, with regard to the essence of each, and its domination then in potency . . . When He came to the Sephirah of the Impersonation Malakoth, which He then contained hidden within Himself, He concluded within Himself that therein worlds should be framed; since the scale of the first nine Sephiroths was so constituted, that it was neither fit nor necessary for worlds to be framed from them; for all the attributes of these nine Superior Sephiroth could be assigned to Himself, even if He should never operate outwardly; but Malakoth, which is Empire or Dominion, could not be attributed to Him, unless He ruled over other Existences; whence from the point Malakoth He produced all the worlds into actuality.
These circles are ten in number. Originated by points, they expanded in circular shape. Ten Circles, under the mystery of the ten Sephiroth, and between them ten Spaces; whence it appears that the sphere of Splendor is in the centre of the space Malakoth of the First Occult Adam.
The First Adam, in the ten circles above the Splendor, is called the First occult Adam; and in each of these spaces are formed many thousand worlds. The first Adam is involved in the Primal Ether, and is the analogue of the world Binah.
Again the Introduction repeats the first and second descent of Yo_d into the vacated space, to make the light there less great and subtile; the constitution of the Tehiru, Splendor, from the light left behind there by him; the communication of Light to him by the female letter He; the emission by him of that Light, within the sphere of Splendor, and the formation thereof, within the sphere, “of a certain sphere called the Supreme Crown,” Corona Summa, KETHER, “wherein were contained, in potence, all the remaining Numerations, so that they were not distinguishable from it. Precisely as in man exist the four elements, in potence specifically undistinguishable, so in this Corona were in potence all the ten Numerations, specifically undistinguishable.” This Crown, it is added, was called, after the restoration, The Cause of Causes, and the Ancient of the Ancients.
The point, Kether, adds the Introduction, was the aggregate of all the Ten . . . when it first emanated, it consisted of all the Ten; and the Light which extended from the Emanative Principle simultaneously flowed into it; and beheld the two Universals [that is, the Unities out of which manifoldness flows; as, for example, the idea, within the Deity, of Humanity as a Unit, out of which the individuals were to flow], the Vessel or Receptacle containing this immitted Light, and the Light Itself within it. And this Light is the Substance of the point Kether; for the WILL of God is the Soul of all things that are.
The Ainsophic Light, it had said, was infinite in every direction, and without end or limit. To prevent it from flowing into and re-filling the quasi-vacant space, occupied by an infinitely less Splendor, a partition between the greater and lesser Splendor was necessary; and this partition, the boundary of the sphere of Splendor, and a like one bounding the sphere Kether, were called Vessels or Receptacles, containing, including, and enclosing within themselves the light of the sphere. Imagine a sea of pellucid water, and in the centre of it a spherical mass of denser and darker water. The outer surface of this sphere, or its limits every way, is the vessel containing it. The Kabalah regards the vessels “as by their nature somewhat opaque, and not so splendid as the light they enclose.”
The contained Light is the Soul of the vessels, and is active in them, like the Human Soul in the human body. The Light of the Emanative Principle [Ainsoph] inheres in the vessels, as their Life, internal Light, and Soul. . . Kether emanated, with its Very Substance, at the same time as Substance and Vessel, in like manner as the flame is annexed to the live coal, and as the Soul pervades, and is within, the body. All the Numerations were potentially contained in it.
And this potentiality is thus explained: When a woman conceives, a Soul is immediately sent into the embryo which is to become the infant, in which Soul are then, potentially, all the members and veins of the body, which afterward, from that potency of the Soul, become in the human body of the child to be born.
Then the wisdom of God commanded that these Numerations potentially in Kether, should be produced from potentiality into actuality, in order that worlds might consist; and HE directed Yo_d again to descend, and to enter into and shine within Kether, and then to re-ascend: which was so done. From which illumination and re-ascension, all the other numerations, potentially in Kether, were manifested and disclosed; but they continued still compacted together, remaining within Kether in a circle.
When God willed to produce the other emanations or numerations from Kether, it is added, HE sent Yo_d down again, to the upper part of Kether, one-half of him to remain without and one-half to penetrate within the sphere of Kether. Then HE sent the letter Vav into the Splendor, to pour out its light on Yo_d: and thus,–
Yo_d received light from Vav, and thereby so directed his countenance that it should illuminate and confer exceeding great energy on Hakemah, which yet remained in Kether; so giving it the faculty to proceed forth therefrom; and that it might collect and contain within itself, and there reveal, all the other eight numerations, until that time in Kether.
The sphere of Kether opened, and thereout issued Hakemah, to remain below Kether, containing in itself all the other numerations.
By a similar process, Binah, illuminated within Hakemah by a second Yo_d, “issued forth out of Hakemah, having within itself the Seven lower Numerations.”
And since the vessel of Binah was excellent, and coruscated with rays of the color of sapphire, and was so nearly of the same color as the vessel of Hakemah that there was scarcely any difference between them, hence it would not quietly remain below Hakemah, but rose, and placed itself on his left side.
And because the light from above profusely flowed into and accumulated in the vessel of Hakemah, to so great an extent that it overflowed, and escaped, coruscating, outside of that vessel, and, flowing off to the left, communicated potency and increase to the vessel of Binah . . . . For Binah is female . . . .
Binah, therefore, by means of this energy that flowed into it from the left side of Hakemah, by virtue of the second Yo_d, came to possess such virtue and potency, as to project beyond itself the Seven remaining vessels contained within itself, and so emitted them all, continuously, one after the other . . . all connected and linked one with the other, like the links of a chain. Three points first emanated, one under the other; Kether, Hakemah, and Binah; and, so far, there was no copulation. But afterward the positions of Hakemah and Binah changed, so that they were side by side, Kether remaining above them; and then conjunction of the Male and Female, ABA and IMMA, Father and Mother, as points.
He, from Whom all emanated, created Adam Kadmon, consisting of all the worlds, so that in him should be somewhat from those above, and somewhat from those below. Hence in Him was NEPHESCH [PSYCHE, anima infima, the lowest spiritual part of man, Soul], from the world ASIAH, which is one letter He of the Tetragrammaton; RUACH [ SPIRITUS, anima media, the next higher spiritual part, or Spirit], from the world YEZIRAH, which is the Vav of the Tetragrammaton; NESCHAMAH [the highest spiritual part, mens or anima superior], from the world BRIAH, which is the other letter He; and NESCHAMAH LENESCHAMAH, from the world ATSILUTH, which is the YO_D of the Tetragrammaton.
And these letters [the Sephiroth] were changed from the spherical form into the form of a person, the symbol of which person is the BALANCE, it being Male and Female . . . Hakemah on one side, Binah on the other, and Kether over them: and so Gedulah on one side, Geburah on the other, and Tephareth under them.
The Book Omschim says: Some hold that the ten Sephiroth succeeded one another in ten degrees, one above the other, in regular gradation, one connected with the other in a direct line, from the highest to the lowest. Others hold that they issued forth in three lines, parallel with each other, one on the right hand, one on the left, and one in the middle; so that, beginning with the highest and going down to the lowest, Hakemah, Khased [or Gedulah], and Netsach are one over the other, in a perpendicular line, on the right hand; Binah, Geburah, and Ho_d on the left; and Kether, Tephareth, Yesod, and Malakoth in the middle: and many hold that all the ten subsist in circles, one within the other, and all homocentric.
It is also to be noted, that the Sephirothic tables contain still another numeration, sometimes called also a Sephirah, which is called Daath, cognition. It is in the middle, below Hakemah and Binah, and is the result of the conjunction of these two.
To Adam Kadmon, the Idea of the Universe, the Kabalah assigns a human form. In this, Kether is the cranium, Hakemah and Binah the two lobes of the brain, Gedulah and Geburah the two arms, Tephareth the trunk, Netsach and Ho_d the thighs, Yesod the male organ, and Malkuth the female organ, of generation.
Yo_d is Hakemah, and He Dinah; Vav is Tephareth, and the last He, Malkuth.
The whole, say the Books Mysterii or of Occultation, is thus summed up: The intention of God The Blessed was to form Impersonations, in order to diminish the Light. Wherefore HE constituted, in Macroprosopos, Adam Kadmon, or Arik Anpin, three Heads. The first is called, “The Head whereof is no cognition”; the second, “The Head of that which is non-existent”; and the third, “The Very Head of Macroprosopos”; and these three are Corona, Sapientia, and Informatio, Kether, Hakemah, and Binah, existent in the Corona of the World of Emanation, or in Macroprosopos; and these three are called in the Sohar ATIKA KADISCHA, Senex Sanctissimus, The Most Holy Ancient. But the Seven inferior Royalties of the first Adam are called “The Ancient of Days”; and this Ancient of Days is the internal part, or Soul, of Macroprosopos.
The human mind has never struggled harder to understand and explain to itself the process of creation, and of Divine manifestation, and at the same time to conceal its thoughts from all but the initiated, than in the Kabalah. Hence, much of it seems at first like jargon. Macroprosopos or Adam Kadmon is, we have said, the idea or intellectual aggregate of the whole Universe, included and contained unevolved in the manifested Deity, Himself yet contained unmanifested in the Absolute. The Head, Kether, “whereof is no cognition,” is the Will of the Deity, or the Deity as Will. Hakemah, the head “of that which is non-existent,” is the Generative Power of begetting or producing Thought; yet in the Deity, not in action, and therefore non-existent. Binah, “the very or actual head” of Macroprosopos, is the productive intellectual capacity, which, impregnated by Hakemah, is to produce the Thought. This Thought is Daath; or rather, the result is Intellection, Thinking; the Unity, of which Thoughts are the manifold outflowings.
This may be illustrated by a comparison. Pain, in the human being, is a feeling or sensation. It must be produced. To produce it, there must be, not only the capacity to produce it, in the nerves, but also the power of generating it by means of that capacity. This generative Power, the Passive Capacity which produces, and the pain produced, are like Hakemah, Dinah, and Daath.
The four Worlds or Universals, Aziluth, Briah, Yetzirah, and Asiah, of Emanation, Creation, Formation, and Fabrication, are another enigma of the Kabalah. The first three are wholly within the Deity. The first is the Universe, as it exists potentially in the Deity, determined and imagined, but as yet wholly formless and undeveloped, except so far as it is contained in His Emanations. The second is the Universe in idea, distinct within the Deity, but not invested with forms; a simple unity. The third is the same Universe in potence in the Deity, unmanifested, but invested with forms,–the idea developed into manifoldness and individuality, and succession of species and individuals; and the fourth is the potentiality become the Actuality, the Universe fabricated, and existing as it exists for us.
The Sephiroth, says the Porta Cælorum, by the virtue of their Infinite Emanator, who uses them as a workman uses his tools, and who operates with and through them, are the cause of existence of everything created, formed, and fashioned, employing in their production certain media. But these same Sephiroth, Persons and Lights, are not creatures per se, but ideas, and Rays of THE INFINITE, which, by different gradations, so descended from the Supreme Source as still not to be severed from It; but It, through them, is extended to the production and government of all Entities, and is the Single and Perfect Universal Cause of All, though becoming determinate for this or the other operation, through this or that Sephiroth or MODE.
God produced all things by His Intellect and Will and free Determination. He willed to produce them by the mediation of His Sephiroth, and Persons . . . . . by which He is enabled most perfectly to manifest Himself; and that the more perfectly, by producing the causes themselves, and the Causes of Causes, and not merely the viler effects.
God produced, in the first Originate, all the remaining causates. For, as He Himself is most simply One, and from One Simple Being One only can immediately proceed, hence it results that from the First Supreme Infinite Unity flowed forth at the same time All and One. One, that is, in so far as flowing from the Most Simple Unity, and being like unto It; but also All, in so far as, departing from that perfect Singleness which can be measured by no other Singleness, it became, to a certain extent, manifold, though still Absolute and Perfect.
Emanation, says the same, is the Resulting displayed from the Unresulting, the Finite from the Infinite, the Manifold and Composite from the Perfect Single and Simple, Potentiality from that which is Infinite Power and Act, the mobile from that which is perennially permanent; and therefore in a more imperfect and diminished mode than His Infinite Perfection is. As the First Cause is all things, in an unresulting and Infinite mode, so the Entities that flow from Him are the First Causes, in a resulting and finite mode.
THE NECESSARY ENTITY, subsisting of Itself, as It cannot be dissevered into the manifold, yet becomes, as it were, multiplied in the Causates, in respect of their Nature, or of the Subsistences, Vessels, and openings assigned to them; whereby the Single and Infinite Essence, being inclosed or comprehended in these limits, bounds, or externalnesses, takes on Itself Definiteness of dimension, and becomes Itself manifold, by the manifoldness of these envelopes.
As man [the unit of Humanity] is a microcosm, so Adam Kadmon is a macrocosm, containing all the Causates of the First Cause . . . . . as the Material Man is the end and completion of all creation, so in the Divine Man is the beginning thereof. As the inferior Adam receives all things from all, so the superior Adam supplies all things to all. As the former is the principle of reflected light, so the latter is of Direct Light. The former is the terminus of the Light, descending; the latter its terminus, ascending. As the Inferior man ascends from the lowest matter even to the First Cause, so the Superior Adam descends from the Simple and Infinite Act, even to the lowest and most attenuated Potence.
The Ternary is the bringing back of duality to unity.
The Ternary is the Principle of Number, because, bringing back the binary to unity, it restores to it the same quantity whereby it had departed from unity. It is the first odd number, containing in itself the first even number and the unit, which are the Father and Mother of all Numbers; and it has in itself the beginning, middle, and end.
Now, Adam Kadmon emanated from the Absolute Unity, and so is himself a unit; but he also descends and flows downward into his own Nature, and so is duality. Again, he returns to the Unity, which he hath in himself, and to The Highest, and so is the Ternary and Quaternary.
And this is why the Essential Name has four letters,–three different ones, and one of them once repeated; since the first He is the wife of the Yo_d, and the second He is the wife of the Vav.
Those media which manifest the First Cause, in Himself profoundly hidden, are the Sephiroth, which emanate immediately from that First Cause, and by Its Nature have produced and do control all the rest.
These Sephiroth were put forth from the One First and Simple, manifesting His Infinite Goodness. They are the mirrors of His Truth, and the analogues of His Supremest Essence, the Ideas of His Wisdom, and the representations of His will; the receptacles of His Potency, and the instruments with which He operates; the Treasury of His Felicity, the dispensers of His Benignity, the Judges of His Kingdom, and reveal His Law; and finally, the Denominations, Attributes, and Names of Him Who is above all and the Cause of all . . . . . the ten categories, wherein all things are contained; the universal genera, which in themselves include all things, and utter them outwardly . . . . the Second Causes, whereby the First Cause effects, preserves, and governs all things; the rays of the Divinity, whereby all things are illumined and manifested; the Forms and Ideas and Species, out whereof all things issue forth; the Souls and Potencies, whereby essence, life, and movement are given to all things; the Standard of times, whereby all things are measured; the incorporeal Spaces which, in themselves, hold and inclose the Universe; the Supernal Monads to which all manifolds are referred, and through them to The One and Simple; and finally the Formal Perfections, flowing forth from and still connected with the One Eminent Limitless Perfection, are the Causes of all dependent Perfections, and so illuminate the elementary Intelligences, not adjoined to matter, and the intellectual Souls, and the Celestial, Elemental and Element-produced bodies.
The IDRA SUTA says:
HE, the Most Holy Hidden Eldest, separates Himself, and is ever more and more separated from all that are; nor yet does HE in very deed separate Himself; because all things cohere with Him and HE with All. HE is All that is, the Most Holy Eldest of All, the Occult by all possible occultations.
When HE takes shape, HE produces nine Lights, which shine forth from Him, from His outforming. And those Lights out-shine from Him and emit flames, and go forth and spread out on every side; as from one elevated Lamp the Rays are poured forth in every direction, and these Rays thus diverging, are found to be, when one approaching has cognizance of them, but a single Lamp.
The Space in which to create is fixed by THE MOST HOLY ANCIENT, and illuminated by His inflowing, which is the Light of Wisdom, and the Beginning from which manifestation flows.
And HE is conformed in three Heads, which are but one Head; and these three are extended into Microprosopos, and from them shines out all that is.
Then this Wisdom instituted investiture with form, whereby the unmanifested and informous became manifested, putting on form; and produced a certain outflow.
When this Wisdom is thus expanded by flowing forth, then it is called “Father of Fathers,” the whole Universe of Things being contained and comprehended in it. This Wisdom is the principle of all things, and in it beginning and end are found.
The Book of the Abstruse, says the Siphra de Zeniutha, is that which describes the equilibrium of the Balance. Before the Balance was, face did not look toward face.
And the Commentary on it says: The Scales of the Balance are designated as Male and Female. In the Spiritual world Evil and Good are in equilibrio, and it will be restored, when of the Evil Good becomes, until all is Good. Also this other world is called the World of the Balance. For, as in the Balance are two scales, one on either side and the beam and needle between them, so too in this world of restoration, the Numerations are arranged as distinct persons. For Hakemah is on the right hand, on the side of Gedulah, and Binah on the left, on the side of Geburah; and Kether is the beam of the Balance above them in the middle. So Gedulah or Khased is on one hand, and Geburah on the other, and under these Tephareth; and Netsach is on one side, and Ho_d on the other, and under these Yeso_d.
The Supreme Crown, which is the Ancient Most Holy, the most Hidden of the Hidden, is fashioned, within the occult Wisdom, of both sexes, Male and Female. Hakemah, and Binah, the Mother, whom it impregnates, are quantitatively equal. Wisdom and the Mother of Intellection go forth at once and dwell together; for when the Intellectual Power emanates, the productive Source of intellection is included in Him.
Before Adam Kadmon was fashioned into Male and Female, and the state of equilibrium introduced, the Father and Mother did not look each other in the face; for the Father denotes most perfect Love, and the Mother most perfect Rigor; and she averted her face.
There is no left [female], says the Idra Rabba, in the Ancient and Hidden One; but His totality is Right [male]. The totality of things is HUA, HE, and HE is hidden on every side.
Macroprosopos [Adam Kadmon] is not so near unto us as to speak to us in the first person; but is designated in the third person, HUA, HE.
Of the letters it says:
Yo_d is male, He is female, Vav is both.
In Yo_d [ו ?Y] are three Yo_ds, the upper and the lower apex, and Vav in the middle. By the upper apex is denoted the Supreme Kether; by Vav in the middle, Hakemah; and by the lower apex, Binah.
The IDRA SUTA says:
The Universe was out-formed in the form of Male and Female. Wisdom, pregnant with all that is, when it flowed and shone forth, shone altogether under the form of male and female. Hakemah is the Father, and Binah is the Mother; and so the two are in equilibrium as male and female, and for this reason, all things whatsoever are constituted in the form of male and female; and if it were not so they would not exist.
This Principle, Hakemah, is the Generator of all things; and He and Binah conjoin, and she shines within Him. When they thus conjoin, she conceives, and the out-flow is Truth.
Yo_d impregnates the letter He and begets a son; and she, thus pregnant, brings forth. The Principle called Father [the Male or Generative Principle] is comprehended in Yo_d, which itself flows downward from the energy of the Absolute Holy One.
Yo_d is the beginning and the end of all things that are. The stream that flows forth is the Universe of things, which always becomes, having no cessation. And this becoming world is created by Yo_d: for Yo_d includes two letters. All things are included in Yo_d; wherefore it is called the Father of all. All Categories whatever go forth from Hakemah; and in it are contained all things, unmanifested; and the aggregate of all things, or the Unity in which the many are, and out of which all flow, is the Sacred Name IHUH.
In the view of the Kabalists, all individuals are contained in species, and all species in genera, and all particulars in a Universal, which is an idea, abstracted from all consideration of individuals; not an aggregate of individuals; but, as it were, an Ens, Entity or Being, ideal or intellectual, but none the less real; prior to any individual, containing them all, and out of which they are all in succession evolved.
If this discontents you, reflect that, supposing the theory correct, that all was originally in the Deity, and that the Universe has proceeded forth from Him, and not been created by Him out of nothing, the idea of the Universe, existing in the Deity before its out-flow, must have been as real as the Deity Himself. The whole Human race, or Humanity, for example, then existed in the Deity, not distinguished into individuals, but as a Unit, out of which the Manifold was to flow.
Everything actual must also first have been possible, before having actual existence; and this possibility or potentiality was to the Kabalists a real Ens. Before the evolvement of the Universe, it had to exist potentially, the whole of it, with all its individuals, included in a single Unity. This was the Idea or Plan of the Universe; and this had to be formed. It had to emanate from the Infinite Deity, and be of Himself, though not His Very Self.
Geburah, Severity, the Sephirah opposite to and conjoined sexually with Gedulah, to produce Tephareth, Harmony and Beauty, is also called in the Kabalah “Judgment,” in which term are included the ideas of limitation and conditioning, which often seems, indeed, to be its principal sense; while Benignity is as often styled Infinite. Thus it is obscurely taught that in everything that is, not only the Finite but also the Infinite is present; and that the rigor of the stern law of limitation, by which everything below or beside the Infinite Absolute is limited, bounded, and conditioned, is tempered and modified by the grace, which so relaxes it that the Infinite, Unlimited, Unconditioned, is also everywhere present; and that it is thus the Spiritual and Material Natures are in equilibrio, Good everywhere counterbalancing Evil, Light everywhere in equilibrium with Darkness: from which again results the Universal Harmony of things. In the vacant space effected for creation, there at last remained a faint vestige or trace of Ainsophic Light, of the Light of the Substance of the Infinite. Man is thus both human and divine: and the apparent antagonisms in his Nature are a real equilibrium, if he wills it shall be so; from which results the Harmony, not only of Life and Action, but of Virtue and Perfection.
To understand the Kabalistic idea of the Sephiroth, it must be borne in mind that they were assigned, not only to the world of Emanation, Aziluth, but also to each of the other worlds, Briah, Jezirah, and Asiah. They were not only attributes of the Unmanifested Deity, not only Himself in limitation, but His actual manifestations, or His qualities made apparent as modes; and they were also qualities of the Universal Nature–Spiritual, Mental, and Material, produced and made existent by the outflow of Himself.
In the view of the Kabalah, God and the Universe were One, and in the One General, as the type or source, were included and involved, and from it have been evolved and issued forth, the manifold and all particulars. Where, indeed, does individuality begin? Is it the Hidden Source and Spring alone that is the individual, the Unit, or is it the flowing fountain that fills the ocean, or the ocean itself, or its waves, or the drops, or the vaporous particles, that are the individuals? The Sea and the River–these are each One; but the drops of each are many. The tree is one; but its leaves are a multitude: they drop with the frosts, and fall upon his roots; but the tree still continues to grow, and new leaves come again in the Spring. Is the Human Race not the Tree, and are not individual men the leaves? How else explain the force of will and sympathy, and the dependence of one man at every instant of his life on others, except by the oneness of the race? The links that bind all created things together are the links of a single Unity, and the whole Universe is One, developing itself into the manifold.
Obtuse commentators have said that the Kabalah assigns sexual characteristics to the very Deity. There is no warrant for such an assertion, anywhere in the Sohar or in any commentary upon it. On the contrary, the whole doctrine of the Kabalah is based on the fundamental proposition, that the Very Deity is Infinite, everywhere extended, without limitation or determination, and therefore without any conformation whatever. In order to commence the process of creation, it was necessary for Him, first of all, to effect a vacant space within Himself. To this end the Deity, whose Nature is approximately expressed by describing Him as Light filling all space, formless, limitless, contracts Himself on all sides from a point within Himself, and thus effects a quasi-vacant space, in which only a vestige of His Light remains; and into this circular or spherical space He emits His Emanations, portions of His Light or Nature; and to some of these, sexual characteristics are symbolically assigned.
The Infinite first limits Himself by flowing forth in the shape of Will, of determination to act. This Will of the Deity, or the Deity as will, is Kether, or the Crown, the first Sephirah. In it are included all other Emanations. This is a philosophical necessity. The Infinite does not first will, and then, as a sequence to, or consequence of, that determination, subsequently perform. To will and to act must be, with Him, not only simultaneous, but in reality the same . . Nor does He, by His Omniscience, learn that a particular action will be wise, and then, in consequence of being so convinced, first determine to do the act, and then do it. His Wisdom and His Will, also, act simultaneously; and, with Him, to decide that it was wise to create, was to create. Thus His will contains in itself all the Sephiroth. This will, determining Him to the exercise of intellection, to thought, to frame the Idea of the Universe, caused the Power in Him to excite the intellectual Faculty to exercise, and was that Power. Its SELF, which had flowed forth from Ainsoph as Will, now flows forth as the Generative Power to beget intellectual action in the Intellectual Faculty, or Intelligence, Binah. The Act itself, the Thought, the Intellection, producing the Idea, is Daath; and as the text of the Siphra de Zeniutha says, The Power and Faculty, the Generative and Productive, the Active and Passive, the Will and Capacity, which unite to produce that Act of reflection or Thought or Intellection, are always in conjunction. As is elsewhere said in the Kabalah, both of them are contained and essentially involved in the result. And the Will, as Wisdom or Intellectual Power, and the Capacity or Faculty, are really the Father and Mother of all that is; for to the creation of anything, it was absolutely necessary that The Infinite should form for Himself and in Himself, an idea of what HE willed to produce or create: and, as there is no Time with Him, to will was to create, to plan was to will and to create; and in the Idea, the Universe in potence, the universal succession of things was included. Thenceforward all was merely evolution and development.
Netsach and Ho_d, the Seventh and Eighth Sephiroth, are usually called in the Kabalah, Victory and Glory. Netsach is the perfect Success, which, with the Deity, to Whom the Future is present, attends, and to His creatures is to result, from the plan of Equilibrium everywhere adopted by Him. It is the reconciliation of Light and Darkness, Good and Evil, Free-will and Necessity, God’s omnipotence and Man’s liberty; and the harmonious issue and result of all, without which the Universe would be a failure. It is the inherent Perfection of the Deity, manifested in His Idea of the Universe, and in all the departments or worlds, spiritual, mental, or material, of that Universe; but it is that Perfection regarded as the successful result, which it both causes or produces and is; the perfection of the plan being its success. It is the prevailing of Wisdom over Accident; and it, in turn, both produces and is the Glory and Laudation of the Great Infinite Contriver, whose plan is thus Successful and Victorious.
From these two, which are one,–from the excellence and perfection of the Divine Nature and Wisdom, considered as Success and Glory, as the opposites of Failure and Mortification, results what the Kabalah, styling it Yesod, Foundation or Basis, characterizes as the Generative member of the Symbolical human figure by which the ten Sephiroth are represented, and from this flows Malakoth, Empire, Dominion, or Rule. Yesod is the Stability and Permanence, which would, in ordinary language, be said to result from the perfection of the Idea or Intellectual Universal, out of which all particulars are evolved; from the success of that scheme, and the consequent Glory or Self-Satisfaction of the Deity; but which Stability and Permanence that Perfection, Success, and Glory really Is; since the Deity, infinitely Wise, and to Whom the Past, Present, and Future were and always will be one Now, and all space one HERE, had not to await the operation and evolution of His plan, as men do the result of an experiment, in order to see if it would succeed, and so to determine whether it should stand, and be stable and permanent, or fall and be temporary. Its Perfection was its Success; His Glory, its permanence and stability: and the Attributes of Permanence and Stability belong like the others, to the Universe, material, mental, spiritual, and real, because and as they belong to the Infinite Himself.
This Stability and Permanence causes continuance and generates succession. It is Perpetuity, and continuity without solution; and by this continuous succession, whereby out of Death comes new Life, out of dissolution and resolution comes reconstruction, Necessity and Fatality result as a consequence: that is to say, the absolute control and dominion (Malakoth) of The Infinite Deity over all that He produces, and over chance and accident; and the absolute non-existence in the Universe, in Time and in Space, of any other powers or influences than those which, proceeding from Him, are and cannot not be perfectly submissive to His will. This results, humanly speaking; but in reality, the Perfection of the plan, which is its success, His glory, and its stability, is also His Absolute Autocracy, and the utter absence of Chance, Accident, or Antagonism. And, as the Infinite Wisdom or Absolute Reason rules in the Divine Nature itself, so also it does in its Emanations, and in the worlds or systems of Spirit, Soul, and Matter; in each of which there is as little Chance or Accident or Unreasoning Fate, as in the Divine Nature unmanifested.
This is the Kabalistic theory as to each of the four worlds;–1st, of the Divine Nature, or Divinity itself, quantitatively limited and determined, but not manifested into Entities, which is the world of Emanation, 2d, of the first Entities, that is, of Spirits and Angels, which is the world of Creation; 3d, of the first forms, souls, or psychical natures, which is the world of Formation or Fashioning; and, 4th, of Matter and Bodies, which is the world of Fabrication, or, as it were, of manufacture. In each of these the Deity is present, as, in, and through the Ten Sephiroth. First of these, in each, is Kether, the Crown, ring, or circlet, the HEAD. Next, in that Head, as the two Hemispheres of the Brain, are Hakemah and Binah, and their result and progeny, Daath. These three are found also in the Spiritual world, and are universals in the psychical and material world, producing the lower Sephiroth. Then follow, in perfect Equilibrium, Law and Equity, Justice and Mercy, the Divine Infinite Nature and the Human Finite Nature, Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, Benignity and Severity, the Male and the Female again, as Hakemah and Binah are, mutually tempering each other, and by their intimate union producing the other Sephiroth. The whole Universe, and all the succession of entities and events were present to The Infinite, before any act of creation; and His Benignity and Leniency, tempering and qualifying the law of rigorous Justice and inflexible Retribution, enabled Him to create: because, but for it, and if He could not but have administered the strict and stern law of justice, that would have compelled Him to destroy, immediately after its inception, the Universe He purposed to create, and so would have prevented its creation. This Leniency, therefore, was, as it were, the very essence and quintessence of the Permanence and Stability of the plan of Creation, and part of the Very Nature of the Deity. The Kabalah, therefore, designates it as Light and Whiteness, by which the Very Substance of Deity is symbolized. With this agree Paul’s ideas as to Law and Grace; for Paul had studied the Kabalah at the feet of Gamaliel the Rabbi.
With this Benignity, the Autocracy of the dominion and control of the Deity is imbued and interpenetrated. The former, poured, as it were, into the latter, is an integral and essential part of it, and causes it to give birth to the succession and continuance of the Universe. For Malakoth, in the Kabalah, is female, and the matrix or womb out of which all creation is born.
☞ The Sephiroth may be arranged as on page 770.
The Kabalah is the primitive tradition, and its entirety rests on the single dogma of Magism, “the visible is for us the proportional measure of the invisible.” The Ancients, observing that equilibrium is in physics the universal law, and that it results from the apparent opposition of two forces, concluded from the physical to the metaphysical equilibrium, and thought that in God, that is to say, in the first living and active cause, two properties necessary to each other, should be recognized; stability and movement, necessity and liberty, order dictated by reason and the self-rule of Supreme Will, Justice, and Love, and consequently Severity and Grace, Mercy or Benignity.
The idea of equilibrium among all the impersonations; of the male on one side, and the female on the other, with the Supreme Will, which is also the Absolute Reason, above each two, holding the balance, is, according to the Kabalah, the foundation of all religions and all sciences, the primary and immutable idea of things. The Sephiroth are a triple triangle and a circle, the idea of the Ternary explained by the balance and multiplied by itself in the
domain of the Ideal; then the realization of this Idea in forms.
Unity can only be manifested by the Binary. Unity itself and the idea of Unity are already two.
The human unity is made complete by the right and left. The primitive man was of both sexes.
The Divinity, one in its essence, has two essential conditions as fundamental bases of its existence–Necessity and Liberty.
The laws of the Supreme Reason necessitate and regulate liberty in God, Who is necessarily reasonable and wise.
Knowledge supposes the binary. An object known is indispensable to the being that knows.
The binary is the generator of Society and the law. It is also the number of the gnosis, a word adopted in lieu of Science, and expressing only the idea of cognizance by intuition. It is Unity, multiplying itself by itself to create; and therefore it is that the Sacred Symbols make Eve issue from the very chest of Adam.
Adam is the human Tetragram, which is summed up in the mysterious Yo_d of the Kabalah, image of the Kabalistic Phallus. Add to this Yo_d [ו ?Y] the ternary name of Eve, and you form the name of Jehova, the Divine Tetragram, the transcendent Kabalistic and magical word:
Thus it is that Unity, complete in the fecundity of the Ternary, forms, with it, the Quaternary, which is the key of all numbers, movements, and forms.
The Square, turning upon itself, produces the circle equal to itself, and the circular movement of four equal angles turning around one point, is the quadrature of the circle.
The Binary serves as a measure for Unity; and the relation of equality between the Above and the Below, forms with them the Ternary.
To us, Creation is Mechanism: to the Ancients it was Generation. The world-producing egg figures in all cosmogonies; and modern science has discovered that all animal production is oviparous. From this idea of generation came the reverence everywhere paid the image of generative power, which formed the Stauros of the Gnostics, and the philosophical Cross of the Masons.
Aleph is the man; Beth is the woman. One is the Principle; two is the Word. A∴ is the Active; B∴ is the Passive. Unity is Boaz, and the Binary is Jachin.
The two columns, Boaz and Jachin, explain in the Kabalah all the mysteries of natural, political, and religious antagonism.
Woman is man’s creation; and universal creation is the female of the First Principle. When the Principle of Existence made Himself Creator, He produced by emanation an ideal Yo_d; and to make room for it in the plenitude of the uncreated Light, He had to hollow out a pit of shadow, equal to the dimension determined by His creative desire; and attributed by Him to the ideal Yo_d of radiating Light.
The nature of the Active Principle is to diffuse: of the Passive Principle, to collect and make fruitful.
Creation is the habitation of the Creator-Word. To create, the Generative Power and Productive Capacity must unite, the Binary become Unity again by the conjunction. The WORD is the First-BEGOTTEN, not the first created Son of God.
SANCTA SANCTIS, we repeat again; the Holy things to the Holy, and to him who is so, the mysteries of the Kabalah will be holy. Seek and ye shall find, say the Scriptures: knock and it shall be opened unto you. If you desire to find and to gain admission to the Sanctuary, we have said enough to show you the way. If you do not, it is useless for us to say more, as it has been useless to say so much.
The Hermetic philosophers also drew their doctrines from the Kabalah; and more particularly from the Treatise Beth Alohim or Domus Dei, known as the Pneumatica Kabalistica, of Rabbi Abraham Cohen Irira, and the Treatise De Revolutionibus Animarum of Rabbi Jitz-chak Lorja.
This philosophy was concealed by the Alchemists under their Symbols, and in the jargon of a rude Chemistry,–a jargon incomprehensible and absurd except to the Initiates; but the key to which is within your reach; and the philosophy, it may be, worth studying. The labors of the human intellect are always interesting and instructive.
To be always rich, always young, and never to die: such has been in all times the dream of the Alchemists.
To change into gold, lead, mercury, and all the other metals; to possess the universal medicine and elixir of life; such is the problem to be resolved, in order to accomplish this desire and realize this dream.
Like all the Mysteries of Magism, the Secrets of “the Great Work” have a threefold signification: they are religious, philosophical, and natural.
The philosophal gold, in religion, is the Absolute and Supreme Reason: in philosophy, it is the Truth; in visible nature, the Sun; in the subterranean and mineral world, the most perfect and pure gold.
It is for this that the pursuit of the Great Work is called the Search for the Absolute; and the work itself, the work of the Sun.
All the masters of the Science admit that it is impossible to attain the material results, unless there are found in the two higher Degrees all the analogies of the universal medicine and of the philosophal stone.
Then, they say, the work is simple, easy, and inexpensive; otherwise, it consumes fruitlessly the fortune and lives of the seekers.
The universal medicine for the Soul is the Supreme Reason and Absolute Justice; for the mind, mathematical and practical Truth; for the body, the Quintessence, a combination of light and gold.
The prima materia of the Great Work, in the Superior World, is enthusiasm and activity; in the intermediate world, intelligence and industry; in the lower world, labor: and, in Science, it is the Sulphur, Mercury, and Salt, which by turns volatilized and fixed, compose the AZOTH of the Sages.
The Sulphur corresponds with the elementary form of the Fire; Mercury with the Air and Water; and Salt with the Earth.
The Great Work is, above all things, the creation of man by himself; that is to say, the fall and entire conquest which he effects of his faculties and his future. It is, above all, the perfect emancipation of his will, which assures him the universal empire of Azoth, and the domain of magnetism, that is, complete power over the universal Magical agent.
This Magical agent, which the Ancient Hermetic philosophers disguised under the name of “Prima Materia,” determines the forms of the modifiable Substance; and the Alchemists said that by means of it they could attain the transmutation of metals and the universal medicine. There are two Hermetic operations, one spiritual, the other material, dependent the one on the other.
The whole Hermetic Science is contained in the dogma of Hermes, engraven originally, it is said, on a tablet of emerald. Its sentences that relate to operating the Great Work are as follows:
“Thou shalt separate the earth from the fire, the subtile from the gross, gently, with much industry.
“It ascends from earth to Heaven, and again descends to earth, and receives the force of things above and below.
“Thou shalt by this means possess the glory of the whole world, and therefore all obscurity shall flee away from thee.
“This is the potent force of all force, for it will overcome everything subtile, and penetrate everything solid.
“So the world was created.”
All the Masters in Alchemy who have written of the Great Work, have employed symbolic and figurative expressions; being constrained to do so, as well to repel the profane from a work that would be dangerous for them, as to be well understood by Adepts, in revealing to them the whole world of analogies governed by the single and sovereign dogma of Hermes.
So, in their language, gold and silver are the King and Queen, or the Sun and Moon; Sulphur, the flying Eagle; Mercury, the Man-woman, winged, bearded, mounted on a cube, and crowned with flames; Matter or Salt, the winged Dragon; the Metals in ebullition, Lions of different colors; and, finally, the entire work has for its symbols the Pelican and the Phœnix.
The Hermetic Art is, therefore, at the same time a religion, a philosophy, and a natural science. As a religion, it is that of the Ancient Magi and the Initiates of all ages; as a philosophy, we may find its principles in the school of Alexandria and the theories of Pythagoras; as a science, we must inquire for its processes of Paracelsus, Nicholas Flamel, and Raymond Lulle.
The Science is a real one only for those who admit and understand the philosophy and the religion; and its process will succeed only for the Adept who has attained the sovereignty of will, and so become the King of the elementary world: for the grand agent of the operation of the Sun, is that force described in the Symbol of Hermes, of the table of emerald; it is the universal magical power; the spiritual, fiery, motive power; it is the Od, according to the Hebrews, and the Astral light, according to others. Therein is the secret fire, living and philosophical, of which all the Hermetic philosophers speak with the most mysterious re-serve: the Universal Seed, the secret whereof they kept, and which they represented only under the figure of the Caduceus of Hermes.
This is the grand Hermetic arcanum. What the Adepts call dead matter are bodies as found in nature; living matters are substances assimilated and magnetized by the science and will of the operator.
So that the Great Work is more than a chemical operation; it is a real creation of the human word initiated into the power of the Word of God.
The creation of gold in the Great Work is effected by transmutation and multiplication.
Raymond Lulle says, that to make gold, one must have gold and mercury; and to make silver, silver and mercury. And he adds: “I mean by mercury, that mineral spirit so fine and pure that it gilds even the seed of gold, and silvers that of silver.” He meant by this, either electricity, or Od, the astral light.
The Salt and Sulphur serve in the work only to prepare the mercury, and it is to the mercury especially that we must assimilate, and, as it were, incorporate with it, the magnetic agent. Paracelsus, Lulle, and Flamel alone seem to have perfectly known this mystery.
The Great Work of Hermes is, therefore, an operation essentially magical, and the highest of all, for it supposes the Absolute in Science and in Will. There is light in gold, gold in light, and light in all things.
The disciples of Hermes, before promising their adepts the elixir of long life or the powder of projection, advised them to seek for the Philosophal Stone.
The Ancients adored the Sun, under the form of a black Stone, called Elagabalus, or Heliogabalus. The faithful are promised, in the Apocalypse, a white Stone.
This Stone, says the Masters in Alchemy, is the true Salt of the philosophers, which enters as one-third into the composition of Azoth. But Azoth is, as we know, the name of the grand Hermetic Agent, and the true philosophical Agent: wherefore they represent their Salt under the form of a cubical Stone.
The Philosophal Stone is the foundation of the Absolute philosophy, the Supreme and unalterable Reason. Before thinking of
the Metallic work, we must be firmly fixed on the Absolute principles of Wisdom; we must be in possession of this Reason, which is the touchstone of Truth. A man who is the slave of prejudices will never become the King of Nature and the Master of transmutations. The Philosophal Stone, therefore, is necessary above all things. How shall it be found? Hermes tells us, in his “Table of Emerald,” we must separate the subtile from the fixed, with great care and extreme attention. So we ought to separate our certainties from our beliefs, and make perfectly distinct the respective domains of science and faith; and to comprehend that we do not know the things we believe, nor believe anything that we come to know; and that thus the essence of the things of Faith are the unknown and indefinite, while it is precisely the contrary with the things of Science. Whence we shall conclude, that Science rests on reason and experience, and Faith has for its bases sentiment and reason.
The Sun and Moon of the Alchemists concur in perfecting and giving stability to the Philosophal Stone. They correspond to the two columns of the Temple, Jachin and Boaz. The Sun is the hieroglyphical sign of Truth, because it is the source of Light; and the rough Stone is the symbol of Stability. Hence the Medieval Alchemists indicated the Philosophal Stone as the first means of making the philosophical gold, that is to say, of transforming all the vital powers figured by the six metals into Sun, that is, into Truth and Light; which is the first and indispensable operation of the Great Work, which leads to the secondary adaptation, and enables the creators of the spiritual and living gold, the possessors of the true philosophical Salt, Mercury, and Sulphur, to discover, by the analogies of Nature, the natural and palpable gold.
To find the Philosophal Stone, is to have discovered the Absolute, as all the Masters say. But the Absolute is that which admits of no errors, is the Fixed from the Volatile, is the Law of the Imagination, is the very necessity of Being, is the immutable Law of Reason and Truth. The Absolute is that which IS.
To find the Absolute in the Infinite, in the Indefinite, and in the Finite, this is the Magnum Opus, the Great Work of the Sages, which Hermes called the Work of the Sun.