SUBLIME PRINCE OF THE ROYAL SECRET.
[Master of Royal Secret.]
THE Occult Science of the Ancient Magi was concealed under the shadows of the Ancient Mysteries: it was imperfectly revealed or rather disfigured by the Gnostics: it is guessed at under the obscurities that cover the pretended crimes of the Templars; and it is found enveloped in enigmas that seem impenetrable, in the Rites of the Highest Masonry.
Magism was the Science of Abraham and Orpheus, of Confucius and Zoroaster. It was the dogmas of this Science that were engraven on the tables of stone by Hanoch and Trismegistus. Moses purified and re-veiled them, for that is the meaning of the word reveal. He covered them with a new veil, when he made of the Holy Kabalah the exclusive heritage of the people of Israel, and the inviolable Secret of its priests. The Mysteries of Thebes and Eleusis preserved among the nations some symbols of it, al-ready altered, and the mysterious key whereof was lost among the instruments of an ever-growing superstition. Jerusalem, the murderess of her prophets, and so often prostituted to the false gods of the Syrians and Babylonians, had at length in its turn lost the Holy Word, when a Prophet announced to the Magi by the consecrated Star of Initiation, came to rend asunder the worn veil of the old Temple, in order to give the Church a new tissue of legends and symbols, that still and ever conceals from the Profane, and ever preserves to the Elect the same truths.
It was the remembrance of this scientific and religious Absolute, of this doctrine that is summed up in a word, of this Word, in fine, alternately lost and found again, that was transmitted to the Elect of all the Ancient Initiations: it was this same remembrance, preserved, or perhaps profaned in the celebrated Order of the Templars, that became for all the secret associations, of the Rose-Croix, of the Illuminati, and of the Hermetic Freemasons, the reason of their strange rites, of their signs more or less conventional, and, above all, of their mutual devotedness and of their power.
The Gnostics caused the Gnosis to be proscribed by the Christians, and the official Sanctuary was closed against the high initiation. Thus the Hierarchy of Knowledge was compromitted by the violences of usurping ignorance, and the disorders of the Sanctuary are reproduced in the State; for always, willingly or unwillingly, the King is sustained by the Priest, and it is from the eternal Sanctuary of the Divine instruction that the Powers of the Earth, to insure themselves durability, must receive their consecration and their force.
The Hermetic Science of the early Christian ages, cultivated also by Geber, Alfarabius, and others of the Arabs, studied by the Chiefs of the Templars, and embodied in certain symbols of the higher Degrees of Freemasonry, may be accurately defined as the Kabalah in active realization, or the Magic of Works. It has three analogous Degrees, religious, philosophical, and physical realization.
Its religious realization is the durable foundation of the true Empire and the true Priesthood that rule in the realm of human intellect: its philosophical realization is the establishment of an absolute Doctrine, known in all times as the “HOLY Doctrine,” and of which PLUTARCH, in the Treatise “de Iside et Osiride,” speaks at large but mysteriously; and of a Hierarchical instruction to secure the uninterrupted succession of Adepts among the Initiates: its physical realization is the discovery and application, in the Microcosm, or Little World, of the creative law that incessantly peoples the great Universe.
Measure a corner of the Creation, and multiply that space in proportional progression, and the entire Infinite will multiply its circles filled with universes, which will pass in proportional segments between the ideal and elongating branches of your Compass. Now suppose that from any point whatever of the Infinite above you a hand holds another Compass or a Square, the lines of the Celestial triangle will necessarily meet those of the Compass of Science, to form the Mysterious Star of Solomon.
All hypotheses scientifically probable are the last gleams of the twilight of knowledge, or its last shadows. Faith begins where Reason sinks exhausted. Beyond the human Reason is the Divine Reason, to our feebleness the great Absurdity, the Infinite Absurd, which confounds us and which we believe. For the Master, the Compass of Faith is above the Square of Reason; but both rest upon the Holy Scriptures and combine to form the Blazing Star of Truth.
All eyes do not see alike. Even the visible creation is not, for all who look upon it, of one form and one color. Our brain is a book printed within and without, and the two writings are, with all men, more or less confused.
The primary tradition of the single revelation has been preserved under the name of the “Kabalah,” by the Priesthood of Israel. The Kabalistic doctrine, which was also the dogma of the Magi and of Hermes, is contained in the Sepher Yetsairah, the Sohar, and the Talmud. According to that doctrine, the Absolute is the Being, in which The Word Is, the Word that is the utterance and expression of being and life.
Magic is that which it is; it is by itself, like the mathematics; for it is the exact and absolute science of Nature and its laws.
Magic is the science of the Ancient Magi: and the Christian religion, which has imposed silence on the lying oracles, and put an end to the prestiges of the false Gods, itself reveres those Magi who came from the East, guided by a Star, to adore the Saviour of the world in His cradle.
Tradition also gives these Magi the title of “Kings;” because initiation into Magism constitutes a genuine royalty; and because the grand art of the Magi is styled by all the Adepts, “The Royal Art,” or the Holy Realm or Empire, Sanctum Regnum.
The Star which guided them is that same Blazing Star, the image whereof we find in all initiations. To the Alchemists it is the sign of the Quintessence; to the Magists, the Grand Arcanum; to the Kabalists, the Sacred Pentagram. The study of this Pentagram could not but lead the Magi to the knowledge of the New Name which was about to raise itself above all names, and cause all creatures capable of adoration to bend the knee.
Magic unites in one and the same science, whatsoever Philosophy can possess that is most certain, and Religion of the Infallible and the Eternal. It perfectly and incontestably reconciles these two terms that at first blush seem so opposed to each other; faith and reason, science and creed, authority and liberty.
It supplies the human mind with an instrument of philosophical and religious certainty, exact as the mathematics, and accounting for the infallibility of the mathematics themselves.
Thus there is an Absolute, in the matters of the Intelligence and of Faith. The Supreme Reason has not left the gleams of the human understanding to vacillate at hazard. There is an incontestable verity, there is an infallible method of knowing this verity, and by the knowledge of it, those who accept it as a rule may give their will a sovereign power that will make them the masters of all inferior things and of all errant spirits; that is to say, will make them the Arbiters and Kings of the World.
Science has its nights and its dawns, because it gives the intellectual world a life which has its regulated movements and its progressive phases. It is with Truths, as with the luminous rays: nothing of what is concealed is lost; but also, nothing of what is discovered is absolutely new. God has been pleased to give to Science, which is the reflection of His Glory, the Seal of His Eternity.
It is not in the books of the Philosophers, but in the religious symbolism of the Ancients, that we must look for the footprints of Science, and re-discover the Mysteries of Knowledge. The Priests of Egypt knew, better than we do, the laws of movement and of life. They knew how to temper or intensify action by re-action; and readily foresaw the realization of these effects, the causes of which they had determined. The Columns of Seth, Enoch, Solomon, and Hercules have symbolized in the Magian traditions this universal law of the Equilibrium; and the Science of the Equilibrium or balancing of Forces had led the Initiates to that of the universal gravitation around the centres of Life, Heat, and Light.
Thales and Pythagoras learned in the Sanctuaries of Egypt that the Earth revolved around the Sun; but they did not attempt to make this generally known, because to do so it would have been necessary to reveal one of the great Secrets of the Temple, that double law of attraction and radiation or of sympathy and antipathy, of fixedness and movement, which is the principle of Creation, and the perpetual cause of life. This Truth was ridiculed by the Christian Lactantius, as it was long after sought to be proven a falsehood by persecution, by Papal Rome.
So the philosophers reasoned, while the Priests, without replying to them or even smiling at their errors, wrote, in those Hieroglyphics that created all dogmas and all poetry, the Secrets of the Truth.
When Truth comes into the world, the Star of Knowledge advises the Magi of it, and they hasten to adore the Infant who creates the Future. It is by means of the Intelligence of the Hierarchy and the practice of obedience, that one obtains Initiation. If the Rulers have the Divine Right to govern, the true Initiate will cheerfully obey.
The orthodox traditions were carried from Chaldea by Abraham. They reigned in Egypt in the time of Joseph, together with the knowledge of the True God. Moses carried Orthodoxy out of Egypt, and in the Secret Traditions of the Kabalah we find a Theology entire, perfect, unique, like that which in Christianity is most grand and best explained by the Fathers and the Doctors, the whole with a consistency and a harmoniousness which it is not as yet given to the world to comprehend. The Sohar, which is the Key of the Holy Books, opens also all the depths and lights, all the obscurities of the Ancient Mythologies and of the Sciences originally concealed in the Sanctuaries. It is true that the Secret of this Key must be known, to enable one to make use of it, and that for even the most penetrating intellects, not initiated in this Secret, the Sohar is absolutely incomprehensible and almost illegible.
The Secret of the Occult Sciences is that of Nature itself, the Secret of the generation of the Angels and Worlds, that of the Omnipotence of God.
“Ye shall be like the Elohim, knowing good and evil,” had the Serpent of Genesis said, and the Tree of Knowledge became the Tree of Death.
For six thousand years the Martyrs of Knowledge toil and die at the foot of this tree, that it may again become the Tree of Life.
The Absolute sought for unsuccessfully by the insensate and found by the Sages, is the TRUTH, the REALITY, and the REASON of the universal equilibrium!
Equilibrium is the Harmony that results from the analogy of Contraries.
Until now, Humanity has been endeavoring to stand on one foot; sometimes on one, sometimes on the other.
Civilizations have risen and perished, either by the anarchical insanity of Despotism, or by the despotic anarchy of Revolt.
To organize Anarchy, is the problem which the revolutionists have and will eternally have to resolve. It is the rock of Sisyphus that will always fall back upon them. To exist a single instant, they are and always will be by fatality reduced to improvise a despotism without other reason of existence than necessity, and which, consequently, is violent and blind as Necessity. We escape from the harmonious monarchy of Reason, only to fall under the irregular dictatorship of Folly.
Sometimes superstitious enthusiasms, sometimes the miserable calculations of the materialist instinct have led astray the nations, and God at last urges the world on toward believing Reason and reasonable Beliefs.
We have had prophets enough without philosophy, and philosophers without religion; the blind believers and the skeptics resemble each other, and are as far the one as the other from the eternal salvation.
In the chaos of universal doubt and of the conflicts of Reason and Faith, the great men and Seers have been but infirm and morbid artists, seeking the beau-ideal at the risk and peril of their reason and life.
Living only in the hope to be crowned, they are the first to do what Pythagoras in so touching a manner prohibits in his admirable Symbols; they rend crowns, and tread them under foot.
Light is the equilibrium of Shadow and Lucidity.
Movement is the equilibrium of Inertia and Activity.
Authority is the equilibrium of Liberty and Power.
Wisdom is equilibrium in the Thoughts, which are the scintillations and rays of the Intellect.
Virtue is equilibrium in the Affections: Beauty is harmonious proportion in Forms.
The beautiful lives are the accurate ones, and the magnificences of Nature are an algebra of graces and splendors.
Everything just is beautiful; everything beautiful ought to be just.
There is, in fact, no Nothing, no void Emptiness, in the Universe. From the upper or outer surface of our atmosphere to that of the Sun, and to those of the Planets and remote Stars, in different directions, Science has for hundreds of centuries imagined that there was simple, void, empty Space. Comparing finite knowledge with the Infinite, the Philosophers know little more than the apes! In all that “void” space are the Infinite Forces of God, acting in an infinite variety of directions, back and forth, and never for an instant inactive. In all of it, active through the whole of its Infinity, is the Light that is the Visible Manifestation of God. The earth and every other planet and sphere that is not a Centre of Light, carries its cone of shadow with it as it flies and flashes round in its orbit; but the darkness has no home in the Universe. To illuminate the sphere on one side, is to project a cone of darkness on the other; and Error also is the Shadow of the Truth with which God illuminates the Soul.
In all that “Void,” also, is the Mysterious and ever Active Electricity, and Heat, and the Omnipresent Ether. At the will of God the Invisible becomes Visible. Two invisible gases, combined by the action of a Force of God, and compressed, become and remain the water that fills the great basins of the seas, flows in the rivers and rivulets, leaps forth from the rocks or springs, drops upon the earth in rains, or whitens it with snows, and bridges the Danubes with ice, or gathers in vast reservoirs in the earth’s bosom. God manifested fills all the extension that we foolishly call Empty Space and the Void.
And everywhere in the Universe, what we call Life and Movement results from a continual conflict of Forces or Impulses. Whenever that active antagonism ceases, the immobility and inertia, which are Death, result.
If, says the Kabalah, the Justice of God, which is Severity or the Female, alone reigned, creation of imperfect beings such as man would from the beginning have been impossible, because Sin being congenital with Humanity, the Infinite Justice, measuring the Sin by the Infinity of the God offended against, must have annihilated Humanity at the instant of its creation; and not only Humanity but the Angels, since these also, like all created by God and less than perfect, are sinful. Nothing imperfect would have been possible. If, on the other hand, the Mercy or Benignity of God, the Male, were in no wise counteracted, Sin would go unpunished, and the Universe fall into a chaos of corruption.
Let God but repeal a single principle or law of chemical attraction or sympathy, and the antagonistic forces equilibrated in matter, released from constraint, would instantaneously expand all that we term matter into impalpable and invisible gases, such as water or steam is, when, confined in a cylinder and subjected to an immense degree of that mysterious force of the Deity which we call “heat,” it is by its expansion released.
Incessantly the great currents and rivers of air flow and rush and roll from the equator to the frozen polar regions, and back from these to the torrid equatorial realms. Necessarily incident to these great, immense, equilibrated and beneficent movements, caused by the antagonism of equatorial heat and polar cold, are the typhoons, tornadoes, and cyclones that result from conflicts between the rushing currents. These and the benign trade-winds result from the same great law. God is omnipotent; but effects without causes are impossible, and these effects cannot but sometimes be evil. The fire would not warm, if it could not also burn, the human flesh. The most virulent poisons are the most sovereign remedies, when given in due proportion. The Evil is the shadow of the Good, and inseparable from it.
The Divine Wisdom limits by equipoise the Omnipotence of the Divine Will or Power, and the result is Beauty or Harmony. The arch rests not on a single column, but springs from one on either side. So is it also with the Divine Justice and Mercy, and with the Human Reason and Human Faith.
That purely scholastic Theology, issue of the Categories of Aristotle and of the Sentences of Peter Lombard, that logic of the syllogism which argues instead of reasoning, and finds a response to every thing by subtilizing on terms, wholly ignored the Kabalistic dogma and wandered off into the drear vacuity of darkness. It was less a philosophy or a wisdom than a philosophical automaton, replying by means of springs, and uncoiling its theses like a wheeled movement. It was not the human verb but the monotonous cry of a machine, the inanimate speech of an Android. It was the fatal precision of mechanism, instead of a free application of rational necessities. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS crushed with a single blow all this scaffolding of words built one upon the other, by proclaiming the eternal Empire of Reason, in that magnificent sentence, “A thing is not just because GOD wills it; but GOD wills it because it is just.” The proximate consequence of this proposition, arguing from the greater to the less, was this: “A thing is not true because ARISTOTLE has said it; but ARISTOTLE could not reasonably say it unless it was true. Seek then, first of all, the TRUTH and JUSTICE, and the Science of ARISTOTLE will be given you in addition.”
It is the fine dream of the greatest of the Poets, that Hell, become useless, is to be closed at length, by the aggrandizement of Heaven; that the problem of Evil is to receive its final solution, and Good alone, necessary and triumphant, is to reign in Eternity. So the Persian dogma taught that AHRIMAN and his subordinate ministers of Evil were at last, by means of a Redeemer and Mediator, to be reconciled with Deity, and all Evil to end. But unfortunately, the philosopher forgets all the laws of equilibrium, and seeks to absorb the Light in a splendor without shadow, and movement in an absolute repose that would be the cessation of life. So long as there shall be a visible light, there will be a shadow proportional to this Light, and whatever is illuminated will cast its cone of shadow. Repose will never be happiness, if it is not balanced by an analogous and contrary movement. This is the immutable law of Nature, the Eternal Will of the JUSTICE which is GOD.
The same reason necessitates Evil and Sorrow in Humanity, which renders indispensable the bitterness of the waters of the seas. Here also, Harmony can result only from the analogy of contraries, and what is above exists by reason of what is below. It is the depth that determines the height; and if the valleys are filled up, the mountains disappear: so, if the shadows are effaced, the Light is annulled, which is only visible by the graduated contrast of gloom and splendor, and universal obscurity will be produced by an immense dazzling. Even the colors in the Light only exist by the presence of the shadow: it is the threefold alliance of the day and night, the luminous image of the dogma, the Light made Shadow, as the Saviour is the Logos made man: and all this reposes on the same law, the primary law of creation, the single and absolute law of Nature, that of the distinction and harmonious ponderation of the contrary forces in the universal equipoise.
The two great columns of the Temple that symbolizes the Universe are Necessity, or the omnipotent Will of God, which nothing can disobey, and Liberty, or the free-will of His creatures. Apparently and to our human reason antagonistic, the same Reason is not incapable of comprehending how they can be in equipoise. The Infinite Power and Wisdom could so plan the Universe and the Infinite Succession of things as to leave man free to act, and, foreseeing what each would at every instant think and do, to make of the free-will and free-action of each an instrument to aid in effecting its general purpose. For even a man, foreseeing that another will do a certain act, and in nowise controlling or even influencing him may use that action as an instrument to effect his own purposes.
The Infinite Wisdom of God foresees what each will do, and uses it as an instrument, by the exertion of His Infinite Power, which yet does not control the Human action so as to annihilate its freedom. The result is Harmony, the third column that up-holds the Lodge. The same Harmony results from the equipoise of Necessity and Liberty. The will of God is not for an instant defeated nor thwarted, and this is the Divine Victory; and yet He does not tempt nor constrain men to do Evil, and thus His Infinite Glory is unimpaired. The result is Stability, Cohesion, and Permanence in the Universe, and undivided Dominion and Autocracy in the Deity. And these, Victory, Glory, Stability, and Dominion, are the last four Sephiroth of the Kabalah.
I Am, God said to Moses, that which Is, Was and Shall forever Bee. But the Very God, in His unmanifested Essence, conceived of as not yet having created and as Alone, has no Name. Such was the doctrine of all the ancient Sages, and it is so expressly declared in the Kabalah. יהוה is the Name of the Deity manifested in a single act, that of Creation, and containing within Himself, in idea and actuality, the whole Universe, to be invested with form and be materially developed during the eternal succession of ages. As God never WAS NOT, so He never THOUGHT not, and the Universe has no more had a beginning than the Divine Thought of which it is the utterance,–no more than the Deity Himself. The duration of the Universe is but a point halfway upon the infinite line of eternity; and God was not inert and uncreative during the eternity that stretches behind that point. The Archetype of the Universe did never not exist in the Divine Mind. The Word was in the BEGINNING with God, and WAS God. And the Ineffable NAME is that, not of the Very Essence but of the Absolute, manifested as Being or Existence. For Existence or Being, said the Philosophers, is limitation; and the Very Deity is not limited nor defined, but is all that may possibly be, besides all that is, was, and shall be.
Reversing the letters of the Ineffable Name, and dividing it, it becomes bi-sexual, as the word יה, Yud-He or JAH is, and discloses the meaning of much of the obscure language of the Kabalah, and is The Highest of which the Columns Jachin and Boaz are the symbol. “In the image of Deity,” we are told, “God created the Man; Male and Female created He them:” and the writer, symbolizing the Divine by the Human, then tells us that the woman, at first contained in the man, was taken from his side. So Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom, was born, a woman and in armor, of the brain of Jove; Isis was the sister before she was the wife of Osiris, and within BRAHM, the Source of all, the Very God, without sex or name, was developed MAYA, the Mother of all that is. The WORD is the First and Only-begotten of the Father; and the awe with which the Highest Mysteries were regarded has imposed silence in respect to the Nature of the Holy Spirit. The Word is Light, and the Life of Humanity.
It is for the Adepts to understand the meaning of the Symbols.
Return now, with us, to the Degrees of the Blue Masonry, and for your last lesson, receive the explanation of one of their Symbols.
You see upon the altar of those Degrees the SQUARE and the COMPASS, and you remember how they lay upon the altar in each Degree.
The SQUARE is an instrument adapted for plane surfaces only, and therefore appropriate to Geometry, or measurement of the Earth, which appears to be, and was by the Ancients supposed to be, a plane. The COMPASS is an instrument that has relation to spheres and spherical surfaces, and is adapted to spherical trigonometry, or that branch of mathematics which deals with the Heavens and the orbits of the planetary bodies.
The SQUARE, therefore, is a natural and appropriate Symbol of this Earth and the things that belong to it, are of it, or concern it. The Compass is an equally natural and appropriate Symbol of the Heavens, and of all celestial things and celestial natures.
You see at the beginning of this reading, an old Hermetic Symbol, copied from the “MATERIA PRIMA” of Valentinus, printed at Franckfurt, in 1613, with a treatise entitled “AZOTH.” Upon it you see a Triangle upon a Square, both of these contained in a circle; and above this, standing upon a dragon, a human body, with two arms only, but two heads, one male and the other female. By the side of the male head is the Sun, and by that of the female head, the Moon, the crescent within the circle of the full moon. And the hand on the male side holds a Compass, and that on the female side, a Square.
The Heavens and the Earth were personified as Deities, even among the Aryan Ancestors of the European nations of the Hindus, Zends, Bactrians, and Persians; and the Rig Veda Sanhita contains hymns addressed to them as gods. They were deified also among the Phœnicians; and among the Greeks OURANOS and GEA, Heaven and Earth, were sung as the most ancient of the Deities, by Hesiod.
It is the great, fertile, beautiful MOTHER, Earth, that produces, with limitless profusion of beneficence, everything that ministers to the needs, to the comfort, and to the luxury of man. From her teeming and inexhaustible bosom come the fruits, the grain, the flowers, in their season. From it comes all that feeds the animals which serve man as laborers and for food. She, in the fair Springtime, is green with abundant grass, and the trees spring from her soil, and from her teeming vitality take their wealth of green leaves. In her womb are found the useful and valuable minerals; hers are the seas the swarm with life; hers the rivers that furnish food and irrigation, and the mountains that send down the streams which swell into these rivers; hers the forests that feed the sacred fires for the sacrifices, and blaze upon the domestic hearths. The EARTH, therefore, the great PRODUCER, was always represented as a female, as the MOTHER,–Great, Bounteous, Beneficent Mother Earth.
On the other hand, it is the light and heat of the Sun in the Heavens, and the rains that seem to come from them, that in the Springtime make fruitful this bountifully-producing Earth, that restore life and warmth to her veins, chilled by Winter, set running free her streams, and beget, as it were, that greenness and that abundance of which she is so prolific. As the procreative and generative agents, the Heavens and the Sun have always been regarded as male; as the generators that fructify the Earth and cause it to produce.
The Hermaphroditic figure is the Symbol of the double nature anciently assigned to the Deity, as Generator and Producer, as BRAHM and MAYA among the Aryans, Osiris and Isis among the Egyptians. As the Sun was male, so the Moon was female; and Isis was both the sister and the wife of Osiris. The Compass, therefore, is the Hermetic Symbol of the Creative Deity, and the Square of the productive Earth or Universe.
From the Heavens come the spiritual and immortal portion of man; from the Earth his material and mortal portion. The Hebrew Genesis says that YEHOUAH formed man of the dust of the Earth, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Through the seven planetary spheres, represented by the Mystic Ladder of the Mithriac Initiations, and it by that which Jacob saw in his dream (not with three, but with seven steps), the Souls, emanating from the Deity, descended, to be united to their human bodies; and through those seven spheres they must re-ascend, to return to their origin and home in the bosom of the Deity.
The COMPASS, therefore, as the Symbol of the Heavens, represents the spiritual, intellectual, and moral portion of this double nature of Humanity; and the SQUARE, as the Symbol of the Earth, its material, sensual, and baser portion.
“Truth and Intelligence,” said one of the Ancient Indian Sects of Philosophers, “are the Eternal attributes of God, not of the individual Soul, which is susceptible both of knowledge and ignorance, of pleasure and pain; therefore God and the individual Soul are distinct:” and this expression of the ancient Nyaya Philosophers, in regard to Truth, has been handed down to us through the long succession of ages, in the lessons of Freemasonry, wherein we read, that “Truth is a Divine Attribute, and the foundation of every virtue.”
“While embodied in matter,” they said, “the Soul is in a state of imprisonment, and is under the influence of evil passions; but having, by intense study, arrived at the knowledge of the elements and principles of Nature, it attains unto the place of TIE ETERNAL; in which state of happiness, its individuality does not cease.”
The vitality which animates the mortal frame, the Breath of Life of the Hebrew Genesis, the Hindu Philosophers in general held, perishes with it; but the Soul is divine, an emanation of the Spirit of God, but not a portion of that Spirit. For they compared it to the heat and light sent forth from the Sun, or to a ray of that light, which neither lessens nor divides its own essence.
However created, or invested with separate existence, the Soul, which is but the creature of the Deity, cannot know the mode of its creation, nor comprehend its own individuality. It cannot even comprehend how the being which it and the body constitute, can feel pain, or see, or hear. It has pleased the Universal Creator to set bounds to the scope of our human and finite reason, beyond which it cannot reach; and if we are capable of comprehending the mode and manner of the creation or generation of the Universe of things, He has been pleased to conceal it from us by an impenetrable veil, while the words used to express the act have no other definite meaning than that He caused that Universe to commence to exist.
It is enough for us to know, what Masonry teaches, that we are not all mortal; that the Soul or Spirit, the intellectual and reasoning portion of ourself, is our Very Self, is not subject to decay and dissolution, but is simple and immaterial, survives the death of the body, and is capable of immortality; that it is also capable of improvement and advancement, of increase of knowledge of the things that are divine, of becoming wiser and better, and more and more worthy of immortality; and that to become so, and to help to improve and benefit others and all our race, is the noblest ambition and highest glory that we can entertain and attain unto, in this momentary and imperfect life.
In every human being the Divine and the Human are intermingled. In every one there are the Reason and the Moral sense, the passions that prompt to evil, and the sensual appetites. “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die,” said Paul, writing to the Christians at Rome, “but if ye through the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” “The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh,” he said, writing to the Christians of Galatia, “and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” “That which I do, I do not willingly do,” he wrote to the Romans, “for what I wish to do, that I do not do, but that which I hate I do. It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. To will, is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not. For, I do not do the good that I desire to do; and the evil that I do not wish to do, that I do do. I find then a law, that when I desire to do good, evil is present with me; for I delight in the law of God after the inward man, but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. . . So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”
Life is a battle, and to fight that battle heroically and well is the great purpose of every man’s existence, who is worthy and fit to live at all. To stem the strong currents of adversity, to advance in despite of all obstacles, to snatch victory from the jealous grasp of fortune, to become a chief and a leader among men, to rise to rank and power by eloquence, courage, perseverance, study, energy, activity, discouraged by no reverses, impatient of no delays, deterred by no hazards; to win wealth, to subjugate men by our intellect, the very elements by our audacity, to succeed, to prosper, to thrive;–thus it is, according to the general understanding, that one fights well the battle of life. Even to succeed in business by that boldness which halts for no risks, that audacity which stakes all upon hazardous chances; by the shrewdness of the close dealer, the boldness of the unscrupulous operator, even by the knaveries of the stock-board and the gold-room; to crawl up into place by disreputable means or the votes of brutal ignorance,–these also are deemed to be among the great successes of life.
But that which is the greatest battle, and in which the truest honor and most real success are to be won, is that which our intellect and reason and moral sense, our spiritual natures, fight against our sensual appetites and evil passions, our earthly and material or animal nature. Therein only are the true glories of heroism to be won, there only the successes that entitle us to triumphs.
In every human life that battle is fought; and those who win elsewhere, often suffer ignominious defeat and disastrous rout, and discomfiture and shameful downfall in this encounter.
You have heard more than one definition of freemasonry. The truest and the most significant you have yet to hear. It is taught to the entered Apprentice, the Fellow-Craft, and the Master, and it is taught in every Degree through which you have advanced to this. It is a definition of what Freemasonry is, of what its purposes and its very essence and spirit are; and it has for every one of us the force and sanctity of a divine law, and imposes on every one of us a solemn obligation.
It is symbolized and taught, to the Apprentice as well as to you, by the COMPASS and the SQUARE; upon which, as well as upon the Book of your Religion and the Book of the law of the Scottish Freemasonry, you have taken so many obligations. As a Knight, you have been taught it by the Swords, the symbols of HONOR and DUTY, on which you have taken your vows: it was taught you by the BALANCE, the symbol of all Equilibrium, and by the CROSS, the symbol of devotedness and self-sacrifice; but all that these teach and contain is taught and contained, for Entered Apprentice, Knight, and Prince alike, by the Compass and the Square.
For the Apprentice, the points of the Compass are beneath the Square. For the Fellow-Craft, one is above and one beneath. For the Master, both are dominant, and have rule, control, and empire over the symbol of the earthly and the material.
FREEMASONRY is the subjugation of the Human that is in man by the Divine; the Conquest of the Appetites and Passions by the Moral Sense and the Reason; a continual effort, struggle, and warfare of the Spiritual against the Material and Sensual. That victory, when it has been achieved and secured, and the conqueror may rest upon his shield and wear the well-earned laurels, is the true HOLY EMPIRE.
To achieve it, the Mason must first attain a solid conviction, founded upon reason, that he hath within him a spiritual nature, a soul that is not to die when the body is dissolved, but is to continue to exist and to advance toward perfection through all the ages of eternity, and to see more and more clearly, as it draws nearer unto God, the Light of the Divine Presence. This the Philosophy of the Ancient and Accepted Rite teaches him; and it encourages him to persevere by helping him to believe that his free will is entirely consistent with God’s Omnipotence and Omniscience; that He is not only infinite in power, and of infinite wisdom, but of infinite mercy, and an infinitely tender pity and love for the frail and imperfect creatures that He has made.
Every Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, from the first to the thirty-second, teaches by its ceremonial as well as by its instruction, that the noblest purpose of life and the highest duty of a man are to strive incessantly and vigorously to win the mastery of everything, of that which in him is spiritual and divine, over that which is material and sensual; so that in him also, as in the Universe which God governs, Harmony and Beauty may be the result of a just equilibrium.
You have been taught this in those Degrees, conferred in the Lodge of Perfection, which inculcate particularly the practical morality of Freemasonry. To be true, under whatever temptation to be false; to be honest in all your dealings, even if great losses should be the consequence; to be charitable, when selfishness would prompt you to close your hand, and deprivation of luxury or comfort must follow the charitable act; to judge justly and impartially, even in your own case, when baser impulses prompt you to do an injustice in order that you may be benefited or justified; to be tolerant, when passion prompts to intolerance and persecution; to do that which is right, when the wrong seems to promise larger profit; and to wrong no man of anything that is his, however easy it may seem so to enrich yourself;–in all these things and others which you promised in those Degrees, your spiritual nature is taught and encouraged to assert its rightful dominion over your appetites and passions.
The philosophical Degrees have taught you the value of knowledge, the excellence of truth, the superiority of intellectual labor, the dignity and value of your soul, the worth of great and noble thoughts; and thus endeavored to assist you to rise above the level of the animal appetites and passions, the pursuits of greed and the miserable struggles of ambition, and to find purer pleasure and nobler prizes and rewards in the acquisition of knowledge, the enlargement of the intellect, the interpretation of the sacred writing of God upon the great pages of the Book of Nature.
And the Chivalric Degrees have led you on the same path, by showing you the excellence of generosity, clemency, forgiveness of injuries, magnanimity, contempt of danger, and the paramount obligations of Duty and Honor. They have taught you to over-come the fear of death, to devote yourself to the great cause of civil and religious Liberty, to be the Soldier of all that is just, right, and true; in the midst of pestilence to deserve your title of Knight Commander of the Temple, and neither there nor Elsewhere to desert your post and flee dastard-like from the foe. In all this, you assert the superiority and right to dominion of that in you which is spiritual and divine. No base fear of danger or death, no sordid ambitions or pitiful greeds or base considerations can tempt a true Scottish Knight to dishonor, and so make his intellect, his reason, his soul, the bond-slave of his appetites, of his passions, of that which is material and animal, selfish and brutish in his nature.
It is not possible to create a true and genuine Brotherhood upon any theory of the baseness of human nature: nor by a community of belief in abstract propositions as to the nature of the Deity, the number of His persons, or other theorems of religious faith: nor by the establishment of a system of association simply for mutual relief, and by which, in consideration of certain payments regularly made, each becomes entitled to a certain stipend in case of sickness, to attention then, and to the ceremonies of burial after death.
There can be no genuine Brotherhood without mutual regard, good opinion and esteem, mutual charity, and mutual allowance for faults and failings. It is those only who learn habitually to think better of each other, to look habitually for the good that is in each other, and expect, allow for, and overlook, the evil, who can be Brethren one of the other, in any true sense of the word. Those who gloat over the failings of one another, who think each other to be naturally base and low, of a nature in which the Evil predominates and excellence is not to be looked for, cannot be even friends, and much less Brethren.
No one can have a right to think meanly of his race, unless he also thinks meanly of himself. If, from a single fault or error, he judges of the character of another, and takes the single act as evidence of the whole nature of the man and of the whole course of his life, he ought to consent to be judged by the same rule, and to admit it to be right that others should thus uncharitably condemn himself. But such judgments will become impossible when he incessantly reminds himself that in every man who lives there is an immortal Soul endeavoring to do that which is right and just; a Ray, however small, and almost inappreciable, from the Great Source of Light and Intelligence, which ever struggles upward amid all the impediments of sense and the obstructions of the passions; and that in every man this ray continually wages war against his evil passions and his unruly appetites, or, if it has succumbed, is never wholly extinguished and annihilated. For he will then see that it is not victory, but the struggle that de-serves honor; since in this as in all else no man can always command success. Amid a cloud of errors, of failure, and short-comings, he will look for the struggling Soul, for that which is good in every one amid the evil, and, believing that each is better than from his acts and omissions he seems to be, and that God cares for him still, and pities him and loves him, he will feel that even the erring sinner is still his brother, still entitled to his sympathy, and bound to him by the indissoluble ties of fellowship.
If there be nothing of the divine in man, what is he, after all, but a more intelligent animal? He hath no fault nor vice which some beast hath not; and therefore in his vices he is but a beast of a higher order; and he hath hardly any moral excellence, perhaps none, which some animal hath not in as great a degree,–even the more excellent of these, such as generosity, fidelity, and magnanimity.
Bardesan, the Syrian Christian, in his Book of the Laws of Countries, says, of men, that “in the things belonging to their bodies, they maintain their nature like animals, and in the things which belong to their minds, they do that which they wish, as being free and with power, and as the likeness of God”; and Meliton, Bishop of Sardis, in his Oration to Antoninus Cæsar, says, “Let Him, the ever-living God, be always present in thy mind; for thy mind itself is His likeness, for it, too, is invisible and impalpable, and without form. . . As He exists forever, so thou also, when thou shalt have put off this which is visible and corruptible, shalt stand before Him forever, living and endowed with knowledge.”
As a matter far above our comprehension, and in the Hebrew Genesis the words that are used to express the origin of things are of uncertain meaning, and with equal propriety may be translated by the word “generated,” “produced,” “made,” or “created,” we need not dispute nor debate whether the Soul or Spirit of man be a ray that has emanated or flowed forth from the Supreme Intelligence, or whether the Infinite Power hath called each into existence from nothing, by a mere exertion of Its will, and endowed it with immortality, and with intelligence like unto the Divine Intelligence: for, in either case it may be said that in man the Divine is united to the Human. Of this union the equilateral Triangle inscribed within the Square is a Symbol.
We see the Soul, Plato said, as men see the statue of Glaucus, recovered from the sea wherein it had lain many years–which viewing, it was not easy, if possible, to discern what was its original nature, its limbs having been partly broken and partly worn and by defacement changed, by the action of the waves, and shells, weeds, and pebbles adhering to it, so that it more resembled some strange monster than that which it was when it left its Divine Source. Even so, he said, we see the Soul, deformed by innumerable things that have done it harm, have mutilated and defaced it. But the Mason who hath the ROYAL SECRET can also with him argue, from beholding its love of wisdom, its tendency toward association with what is divine and immortal, its larger aspirations, its struggles, though they may have ended in defeat, with the impediments and enthralments of the senses and the passions, that when it shall have been rescued from the material environments that now prove too strong for it, and be freed from the deforming and disfiguring accretions that here adhere to it, it will again be seen in its true nature, and by degrees ascend by the mystic ladder of the Spheres, to its first home and place of origin.
The ROYAL SECRET, of which you are Prince, if you are a true Adept, if knowledge seems to you advisable, and Philosophy is, for you, radiant with a divine beauty, is that which the Sohar terms The Mystery of the BALANCE. It is the Secret of the UNIVERSAL EQUILIBRIUM:–
–Of that Equilibrium in the Deity, between the Infinite Divine WISDOM and the Infinite Divine POWER, from which result the Stability of the Universe, the unchangeableness of the Divine Law, and the Principles of Truth, Justice, and Right which are a part of it; and the Supreme Obligation of the Divine Law upon all men, as superior to all other law, and forming a part of all the laws of men and nations.
–Of that Equilibrium also, between the Infinite Divine JUSTICE and the Infinite Divine MERCY, the result of which is the Infinite Divine EQUITY, and the Moral Harmony or Beauty of the Universe. By it the endurance of created and imperfect natures in the presence of a Perfect Deity is made possible; and for Him, also, as for us, to love is better than to hate, and Forgiveness is wiser than Revenge or Punishment.
–Of that Equilibrium between NECESSITY and LIBERTY, between the action of the DIVINE Omnipotence and the Free-will of man, by which vices and base actions, and ungenerous thoughts and words are crimes and wrongs, justly punished by the law of cause and consequence, though nothing in the Universe can happen or be done contrary to the will of God; and without which co-existence of Liberty and Necessity, of Free-will in the creature and Omnipotence in the Creator, there could be no religion, nor any law of right and wrong, or merit and demerit, nor any justice in human punishments or penal laws.
–Of that Equilibrium between Good and Evil, and Light and Darkness in the world, which assures us that all is the work of the Infinite Wisdom and of an Infinite Love; and that there is no rebellious demon of Evil, or Principle of Darkness co-existent and in eternal controversy with God, or the Principle of Light and of Good: by attaining to the knowledge of which equilibrium we can, through Faith, see that the existence of Evil, Sin, Suffering, and Sorrow in the world, is consistent with the Infinite Goodness as well as with the Infinite Wisdom of the Almighty.
Sympathy and Antipathy, Attraction and Repulsion, each a Force of nature, are contraries, in the souls of men and in the Universe of spheres and worlds; and from the action and opposition of each against the other, result Harmony, and that movement which is the Life of the Universe and the Soul alike. They are not antagonists of each other. The force that repels a Planet from the Sun is no more an evil force, than that which attracts the Planet toward the central Luminary; for each is created and exerted by the Deity, and the result is the harmonious movement of the obedient Planets in their elliptic orbits, and the mathematical accuracy and unvarying regularity of their movements.
–Of that Equilibrium between Authority and Individual Action which constitutes Free Government, by settling on immutable foundations Liberty with Obedience to Law, Equality with Subjection to Authority, and Fraternity with Subordination to the Wisest and the Best: and of that Equilibrium between the Active Energy of the Will of the Present, expressed by the Vote of the People, and the Passive Stability and Permanence of the Will of the Past, expressed in constitutions of government, written or unwritten, and in the laws and customs, gray with age and sanctified by time, as precedents and authority; which is represented by the arch resting on the two columns, Jachin and Boaz, that stand at the portals of the Temple builded by Wisdom, on one of which Masonry sets the celestial Globe, symbol of the spiritual part of our composite nature, and on the other the terrestrial Globe, symbol of the material part.
–And, finally, of that Equilibrium, possible in ourselves, and which Masonry incessantly labors to accomplish in its Initiates, and demands of its Adepts and Princes (else unworthy of their titles), between the Spiritual and Divine and the Material and Human in man; between the Intellect, Reason, and Moral Sense on one side, and the Appetites and Passions on the other, from which result the Harmony and Beauty of a well-regulated life.
Which possible Equilibrium proves to us that our Appetites and Senses also are Forces given unto us by God, for purposes of good, and not the fruits of the malignancy of a Devil, to be detested, mortified, and, if possible, rendered inert and dead: that they are given us to be the means by which we shall be strengthened and incited to great and good deeds, and are to be wisely used, and not abused; to be controlled and kept within due bounds by the Reason and the Moral Sense; to be made useful instruments and servants, and not permitted to become the managers and masters, using our intellect and reason as base instruments for their gratification.
And this Equilibrium teaches us, above all, to reverence ourselves as immortal souls, and to have respect and charity for others, who are even such as we are, partakers with us of the Divine Nature, lighted by a ray of the Divine Intelligence, struggling, like us, toward the light; capable, like us,of progress upward toward perfection, and deserving to be loved and pitied, but never to be hated nor despised; to be aided and encouraged in this life-struggle, and not to be abandoned nor left to wander in the darkness alone, still less to be trampled upon in our own efforts to ascend.
From the mutual action and re-action of each of these pairs of opposites and contraries results that which with them forms the Triangle, to all the Ancient Sages the expressive symbol of the Deity; as from Osiris and Isis, Har-oeri, the Master of Light and Life, and the Creative Word. At the angles of one stand, symbolically, the three columns that support the Lodge, itself a symbol of the Universe, Wisdom, Power, and Harmony or Beauty. One of these symbols, found on the Tracing-Board of the Apprentice’s Degree, teaches this last lesson of Freemasonry. It is the right-angled Triangle, representing man, as a union of the spiritual and material, of the divine and human. The base, measured by the number 3, the number of the Triangle, represents the Deity and the Divine; the perpendicular, measured by the number 4, the number of the Square, represents the Earth, the Material, and the Human; and the hypothenuse, measured by 5, represents that nature which is produced by the union of the Divine and Human, the Soul and the Body; the squares, 9 and 16, of the base and perpendicular, added together, producing 25, the square root whereof is 5, the measure of the hypothenuse.
And as in each Triangle of Perfection, one is three and three are one, so man is one, though of a double nature; and he attains the purposes of his being only when the two natures that are in him are in just equilibrium; and his life is a success only when it too is a harmony, and beautiful, like the great Harmonies of God and the Universe.
Such, my Brother, is the TRUE WORD of a Master Mason; such the true ROYAL SECRET, which makes possible, and shall at length make real, the HOLY EMPIRE of true Masonic Brotherhood.
GLORIA DEI EST CELARE VERBUM. AMEN