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of an ever-growing perfection. For, while man labors, he thrives ; while society struggles, and is in conflict, it advances. All the phenomena of life, all institutions or movements in society, devised by human genius, have been so many attempts of man to fathom the mystery of his being—so many struggles to reach and embrace an Ideal Beauty or Excellence which glimmered in the immeasurable heights above him. Hence all these movements are of momentous import-are providentially devised ; and are worthy of a profound study and investigation, and will be studied by those who reverence virtue, and cherish a genial love and large hope for man.
Among the providential institutions which should arrest the attention of thinking men, are the Mysteries, as they were formerly called, or SECRET SOCIETIES, as they are now denominated. In the earliest periods of the world, the wisest and best of men withdrew from the imperfections of the exterior society, and in their secret temples sought to sound the mysterious deeps of God, Nature, and the Soul, and to live out their idea of a true life. The Mysteries of Egypt, of Eleusis, of the Cabiri, and those of India and of the north of Europe, had a widely-extended influence ; and so important were they, that an investigation of them is necessary,
if we would have an accurate view of the Theology, Philosophy, Science, and Ethics, of the past times.
The singular tendency to secret association in all ages, and the remarkable progress and prevalence of these societies at the present time, in spite of the selfishness and materialism of the age, indicate most clearly a providential origin and a providential de sign. When the conditions and circumstances attending them, and the position they have occupied and do still occupy—the countless thousands of earnest and intelligent men who have worshiped and do worship even to-day at their altars, are considered—who will say that these institutions, which have, in all periods of the world, commanded the admiration, and reverence, and service of the wisest and best of our race, have not exercised a powerful influence on the Life of the Past, and are not destined to accomplish mighty results in this present age, and wield a prodigious influence over all its thought and life? What have been those results, and what may we expect them to be in future? What has been, and what is destined to be their influence on, and their relations with, the progressive development of man?
It is a part of the mission of the Masonic Societies in general to elevate the tone of public and private morals, and to realize, in all the arrangements of life, a diviner sentiment of justice, a truer ideal of charity, and more enlightened notions regarding man's relations with his fellow-man. They are a means of intellectual, moral, and social pro
gress, and belong to the great category of Divine instrumentalities, ordained by Providence, for the advancement of the human race.
This remark is eminently correct as it regards the ancient mysteries. They were the sources of moral life—the fountains of Theology, Philosophy, Ethics, Science, and Politics—the ministers of Progressin a word, the mother of Civilization. In the Egyptian, Grecian, and Indian mysteries, and the Druidical institutions of the north of Europe, were nourished and developed those moral principles and sentiments, and those social ideas, which afterward entered into the life of the people, and became actual in their social forms.
And this is the divine method of human progress. Men, in the mass, do not and can not rise at once to the comprehension of absolute Truth ; nor is it possible for them to appreciate it in its fullness, nor, unaided, to apply it to any practical result. Neither do they advance, either individually or socially, by virtue of their own energy, but receive the elements of progress, growth, and expansion, from the spiritual world—that is to say, from God. When new elements of life are to be sent forth from the bosom of the Deity, for the revivification of the nations, or new ideas are to be promulgated to further their advancement toward a more perfect civilization, a few earnest and far-seeing spirits are first agitated by them—to them the revelation is first made. They invoke these new ideals, and labor to bring them down from heaven to earth, and make them living and actual in the world's life. But a wide sea of ages sometimes rolls between the ideal and the actual-between the discovery of a principle and its full and perfect application to life ; yet cherished by the enlightened few, illustrated in their mystic circle, it grows, expands, gains influence, and at length blends with the people's life, and modifies all the institutions of society.
So, in modern times, we have seen a certain social idea—the idea of equality, of the worth of man as man, and his right to elect his own superior or chief-pass through several phases, till it attained to a perfect incarnation in our political institutions. This idea, born in one of the monachal orders of the Roman Church-that church of strange contrasts, where democratic and free sentiments flourished under the shadow of the most unmitigated despotism-realized in the internal arrangements of the secret Orders of the middle ages, became fully developed and defined in the fraternity of Freemasons, and, with that association, spread through every country of Christendom. But as yet it had not changed the political aspect of society : it was only an Ideal of a new state, the consolation and hope of those earnest men, who, looking with longing toward the future, sought refuge from the withering arrangements of the outward life in the fraternal embraces of their secret institution. It was a Type of an Order of things yet to be created. But as every thought finds its appropriate word, so, sooner or later, will every idea find an expression in some of the forms of life. Thus, this social idea which had been laboring for ages in the hearts of the good and wise, which in these secret associations had been worshiped for centuries, and which the Masonic Brotherhood adopted as its leading thought, found an utterance, an embodiment, in the institutions of the American Republic.
From what has been said, it follows that the MYSTERIES are not only useful, but necessary. There is always the need of an institution where a higher ideal of Life shall be worshiped and sought after, than is yet to be found realized in the existing political organizations--an institution which will recombine the scattered elements of society, arm itself against the selfish tendencies of the race, give men faith in virtue and confidence in each other, and reveal to the world a diviner ideal to be actualized in its life.
If our theory be correct, these societies are precisely the institutions which the world needs at this particular crisis, and which are demanded by all the wants of man. Society needs an Ideal of a higher and better state, to which it may aspire. These associations reveal that ideal, and give it an actual being in their own particular forms. They present