Page images

by the ancients, to perfect our education and reform our manners.

Pausanias,* speaking of the Eleusinia, says that the Greeks, from the highest antiquity, had established them as an institution the most effectual to inspire men with the sentiments of reverence and love for the gods. And among the responses that Bacchust makes to Pentheus, whose curiosity is excited by his Mysteries, he tells him that this new institution merits to be widely known, and that one of the greatest advantages resulting from it is the proscription of all impiety and crime.

From the above it appears that the Mysteries must have been of the highest utility in advancing the civilization of our race, in promoting the arts, and stimulating a taste for science and letters.

We have seen that the cultivation of Music commenced with the establishment of the Mysteries, and formed a great portion of the ceremonies. Sculpture and painting were encouraged, and received their first impulse in these institutions. Literature and Philosophy were pursued with ardor by the disciples of Orpheus and Eumolpus, and through them Religion shed a benign and gentle radiance over all of life. Through the Mysteries, society received wise and wholesome laws, and that moral and mental impulsion which raised Greece to the summit of human greatness. * Paus. : Phoc., p. 318.

† Evripid.: Bacch. v., p. 460.

The drama also owes its birth to these institutions. The first plays, symbolical of Man and his progress, his struggles, his trials, his labor, his combats and triumphs, were performed within the secret enclosures, secure from the intrusion of profane eyes. The ceremonies were themselves dramas, shadowing forth, more or less perfectly, the great truths of God, of Nature, and the Soul-pointing man forward to his great destiny, acquainting him with the conditions of moral perfection, and aiding him in advancing toward it.

Such were the Masonic societies of antiquity. Who can say, after this examination, that they were not useful ?—that they did not bring new moral life to society, and contribute largely to the general amelioration and improvement of the condition of Man ?


Templar Ma s o n ry.

In the twelfth century, when the nations of Europe were yet young, and the piety of the church possessed all its primitive ardor, the universal heart of Christendom turned with affectionate reverence toward the East, and longed to pour forth its expressions of gratitude and of penitence at the tomb of the Crucified. Urged by this devout impulse, thousands every year set out on this pious pilgrimage to the Holy City, encountering indescribable difficulties, and exposing themselves to innumerable dangers. Moved by the enthusiasm of the age, and by the laudable desire to protect the Christian pilgrim on his journey through Palestine to the Holy Sepulchre, eight Christian knights established the society of the Templars. Subsequently the objects of the Order increased, and included the general.defence of Christianity against the encroachments of the Mohammedans. The members took the vows of chastity, of obedience and poverty, like regular canons, and lived at first on the charity of the Christian lords in Palestine. King Baldwin II., of Jerusalem, gave them an abode in that city on the east of the site of the Jesuit's Temple, from which circumstances they received the name of TEMPLARS. Pope Honorius II. confirmed the Order in 1127, at the Council of Troyes, and imposed upon it rules, drawn from those of the Benedictine monks, to which were added the precepts of St. Bernard de Clairvaux, who was an earnest friend of the fraternity.

The Order grew in popularity, and in a few years came to be the most powerful corporation in Christendom. By the principle of the secrecy, the members were bound together in the closest unity, and cemented in the bonds of a mystical friendship.

The Templars were divided into three classes, viz: knights, squires, and servitors, to which were added, in 1172, some spiritual members, who served as priests, chaplains, and clerks. All wore the badge of the Order—a linen girdle. The clerical members had white, and the servitors gray gowns. The knights wore, besides their armor, simple white cloaks, adorned with octangular blood-red crosses, to signify that they were to shed their blood in the sewice of the Faith. From the class of the knights the officers were chosen by the assembled chapters. They consisted of, first : Marshals and Bannerets, the leaders in war; second, Drapiers, the inspectors of wardrobes ; third, Priors, the superiors of single preceptories ; fourth, Abbots, Commanders, and

Grand Priors, rulers over provinces; and fifth, the Grand Commander, who was the chief of the whole Order. He had the rank of prince, and was considered the equal of the sovereigns of Europe.

Being entirely independent of all secular authority, and nearly so of all ecclesiastical, it exercised an absolute jurisdiction over all the affairs of its own members. Uniting thus the privileges of a religious Order with great military power, and always prepared for service by sea or land, it could use its possessions to more advantage than other corporations, and also make conquests on its own account. The principal part of its possessions was in France; most of the knights were also French, and the Grand Master was usually of that nation. In 1244, the Order possessed goods, bailiwicks, commanderies, priories, and preceptories, independent of the jurisdiction of the sovereigns of the countries in which they were situated.

Its members were devoted to the Order, body and soul, and by their solemn initiation they abjured all other ties. No one had any private property. The Order supported all.

After the expulsion of the Templars from the Holy Land, they fixed their chief seat in Cyprus. There the Grand Master resided with a select body of knights, officers, and brethren, who exercised themselves by sea against the Saracens.

So powerful at length became the Order that its

« PreviousContinue »