Obrazy na stronie

man to a resemblance of the Deity. He believed that God is a soul, diffused through all Nature, and that from him human souls are derived; that they are immortal; and that men need only take pains to purge themselves of their vices, in order to be reunited to the Deity. He made unity the principle of all things, and believed that between God and man there are various orders of spiritual beings, who are the ministers of the Supreme Will. He condemned all images of the Deity, and would have him worshipped with as few ceremonies as possible. His disciples brought all their goods into a common stock, contemned the pleasures of sense, abstained from swearing, eating nothing that had life, and believed in the doctrine of metempsychosis, or transmigration of souls.

Some eminent writers deny that Pythagoras taught that souls passed into animals. Reuchlin, in particular, denies this doctrine, and maintains that the metempsychosis of Pythagoras implied nothing more than a similitude of manners and desires formerly existing in some person deceased, and now revived in another alive. Pythagoras is said to have borrowed the notion of metempsychosis from the Egyptians—others say from the ancient Brachmans.



The disciples of Pythagoras were divided into two classes; the first were simple hearers, and the last such as were allowed to propose their difficulties, and learn the reasons of all that was taught. The figurative manner in which he gave instructions was borrowed from the Hebrews, Egyptians, and other orientals.

If we examine how morality, or moral philosophy, is defined, we shall find that it is a conformity to those unalterable obligations which result from the nature of our existence, and the necessary relations of life; whether to God as our Creator, or to man as our fellow-creature; or it is the doctrine of virtue in order to attain the greatest happiness.

Pythagoras shewed the way to Socrates, though his examples were very imperfect, as he deduced his rules of morality from observations of Nature; a degree of knowledge which he had acquired in his communion with the priests of Egypt. The chief aim of Pythagoras' moral doctrine was to purge the mind from the impurities of the body, and from the clouds of the imagination. His morality seems to have had more purity and piety in it than the other systems, but less exactness; his maxims being only a bare explication of divine worship, of natural honesty, of modesty, integrity, public spiritedness, and other ordinary duties of life. Socrates improved the lessons of Pythagoras, and reduced his maxims into fixed or certain principles. Plato refined the doctrine of both these philosophers, and carried each virtue to its utmost height and accomplishment, mixing tlje idea of the universal principle of philosophy through the whole design.

The ancient Masonic record also says, that Masons knew the way of gaining an understanding of Abrac. On this word all commentators (which I have yet read) on the subject of Masonry have confessed themselves at a loss. Abrac, or Abracar, was a name which Basilides, a religious of the secoud century, gave to God, who he said was the author of three hundred and sixty-five.

The author of this superstition is said to have lived in the time of Adrian, and that it had its name after Abrasan, or Abraxas, the denomination which Basilides gave to the Deity. He called him the Supreme God, and ascribed to him seven subordinate powers or angels, who presided over the heavens: and also, according to the number of days in the year, he held that three hundred and sixty-five virtues, powers, or intelligences, existed as the emanations of Godthe value, or numerical distinctions, of the letters in the word, according to the ancient Greek numerals, make three hundred and sixty-five—

A B p A x A S.

1 2 100 1 60 1 200=365.s

With antiquaries, Abraxas is an antique gem or stone, with the words abraxas engraven on it. There, are a great many kinds of them of various figures and sizes, mostly as old as the third century. Persons professing the religious principles of Basilides, wore this gem with great veneration, as an amulet; from whose virtues, and the protection of the deity to whom it was consecrated, and with whose name it was inscribed, the wearer presumed he derived health, prosperity, and safety.

1 The heathen idols wero constructed, or perhaps consecrated with astronomical observances, if wo may believe Bishop Synnesius. He says, "The hierophants who had been initiated into the mysteries, do not permit the common workmen to form idols or images of the gods; but they descend themselves into the sacred caves, where they nave concealed coffers containing certain spheres, upon which they construct those images secretly, and without the knowledge of the people, who despise simple and natural things, and wish for prodigies and fables."—Editor.

5 The solar deity of the Druids, worshipped under the name of Belenus, produces the same result, to represent the time occupied by the annual course of the sun. For this purpose it is written thus—

[ocr errors]

In the British Museum is a beryl stone, of the form of an egg. The head is in cameo, the reverse in taglio.


The head is supposed to represent the image of the Creator, under the denomination of Jupiter Ammon.3

3 Jupiter Ammon, a name given to the Supreme Deity, and who was worshipped under the symbol of the Sun. He was painted with horns, because with the astronomers the sign Aries in the zodiac is the beginning of the year: when the sun enters into tho house of Aries, he commences his annual course. Heat, in the Hebrew tongue Hammah, in the prophet Isaiah Hammamin, is given as a name of such images. The error of depicting him with horns grew from the doubtful signification of the Hebrow word, which at once expresses heat, splendor, or brightness, and also horns. "The Sun was also worshipped by the House of Juduh, under the name of Tamuz; for Tamuz, saith Hierom, was Adonis, and Adonis is generally interpreted the Sun, from the Hebrew word Adon, signifying dommus, the same as Baal or Moloch formerly did, tho lord or prince of the planets. The month which wo call June was by the Hebrews called Tamuz; and the entrance of tho sun into the sign Cancer was in the Jews' astronomy termed Tekupha Tamuz, the revolution of Tamuz. About the time of our Saviour, the Jews held it unlawful to pronoun06 that essential name of God Jehovah, and instead thereof read Adonai, to prevent the heathen blaspheming that holy name, by the adoption of the name of Jove, &c., to the idols. Concerning Adonis, whom some ancient authors call Osiris, there are two things remarkable, ayavtofios, the death or loss of Adonis, and evpeoa, tho finding him again: as there was great lamentation at his loss, so was there great joy at his finding. By the death or loss of Adonis, we aro to understand the departure of the Sun; by his finding again, the return of that luminary. Now he seemcth to depart twice in the year; first when he is in the tropic of Cancer, in the farthest degree northward;

The sun and moon on the reverse, the Osiris and Isis* of the Egyptians; and were used hieroglyphically to represent the omnipotence, omnipresence, and eternity of God. The star5 seems to be used as a point only, but

and, secondly, when he is in the tropic of Capricorn, in the farthest degree southward. Hence we may note, that the Egyptians celebrated their Adonia in the month of November, when the sun began to be farthest southward, and the house of Juduh theirs in the month of June, when the sun was farthest northward; yet both were for the same reasons. Some authors say, that this lamentation was performed over an image in the night season; and when they had sufficiently lamented, a candle was brought into the room, which ceremony might mystically denote the return of the sun; then the priest, with a soft voice, muttered this form of words, 'Trust ye in God, for out of pains salvation is come unto us.'" (Godwyn's Moses and Aaron, p. 149.)

* The Marquis Spineto, in his Lectures on Hieroglyphics, (iv. 139,) is equally plam and express. "The circumstances," says he, "recorded in the lives of Isis and Osiris, and the ceremonies which accompanied the mysteries, had an analogy to events, the memory of which they wero originally intended to perpetuate. These were, the creation of the world; the fall of man; the destruction of mankind by the flood; the preservation of Noah and his family; tho unity of God, and the promise he made to that patriarch, and consequently tho necessity of abjuring the worship of idols, which properly constituted the end of the' mysteries, and obtained for them the name of Regeneration; and for the initiated tho proud appellation of the regenerated."—Jsditor.

* "Our next inquiry is, what idol was meant by Chiun and Reuiphan, otherwise, in ancient copies, called Kepham. By Chiun we ure to understand Hercules, who, in the Egyptian language, was called Chon. By Repham, wo are to understand the same Hercules; for Rephaim, in holy tongue, signifieth giant. By Hercules, we may understand the planet of the sun. There are etymologists that derive Heroules' name from the Hebrew Hiercol, iUuminavit omnia: the Greek etymology rn,ai xXeos, atris gloria, holds correspondency with the Hebrew, and both signify that universal light which floweth from the sun, as water from a fountain. Porphyry interpreted Hercules' twelve labours, so often mentioned by the poets, to be nothing else but the twelve signs of tho zodiac, through which the sun passes yearly. But some may question whether the name of Hercules was ever known to the Jews? It is probable it was; for Hercules was a god of the Tyrians, from whom the Jews learned much idolatry, as being their near neighbours. It is apparent, that in the time of the Maccabees the name was commonly known unto them; for Jason the high priest sent three hundred drachmas of silver to the sacrifice of Hercules, (2 Mac. iv., 19). The Star of Remphan is thought to be the star which was painted in the forehead of Moloch; neither was it unusual for the heathen to paint their idols with such symbolica additamenta." (Godwyn's Moses and Aaron, p. 148.) The Egyptian Apis was to bear such a mark

« PoprzedniaDalej »