General Ahiman Rezon, by Daniel Sickels, , at sacred-texts.com
Lodges were anciently dedicated to King SOLOMON, as he was our first Most Excellent Grand Master; but Masons professing Christianity, dedicate theirs to St. JOHN the Baptist and St. JOHN the Evangelist, who were two eminent patrons of Masonry; and since their time, there is represented in every regular and well-governed Lodge a certain Point within a Circle—the point representing an individual brother; the circle, the boundary-line of his conduct to GOD and man, beyond which he is never to suffer his
passions, prejudices, or interests to betray him, on any occasion. This circle is embordered by two perpendicular parallel lines, representing those Saints, who were perfect parallels in Christianity, as well as in Masonry; and upon the vertex rests the Holy Scriptures, which point out the whole duty of man. In going around this circle, we necessarily touch upon these two lines, as well as upon the Holy Scriptures; and while a Mason keeps himself thus circumscribed, it is impossible that he should materially err.
"Whether we regard this symbol in the purity of its legitimate interpretation, or consider the unlimited corruption which it sustained in its progress through the mysteries of idolatry, the general principle will be found equally significant. It was originally the conservator of a genuine moral precept, founded on a fundamental religious truth; but innovation followed innovation, until this degraded symbol became the dreadful depository of obscenity and lust.
"The use of this emblem is coeval with the first created man. A primary idea which would suggest itself to the mind of ADAM, when engaged in reflections on his own situation, the form of the universe, and the nature of all the objects presented to his view, would
be, that the creation was a circle and himself the center. This figure, implanted without an effort, would be ever present in all his contemplations, and would influence his judgment to a certain extent, while attempting to decide on the mysterious phenomena which were continually before him. To persons unacquainted with the intricate philosophy of Nature, as we may fairly presume ADAM was, this is the plain idea conveyed to the senses by a superficial view of Nature's works. Ask an unlettered hind of the present day, and he will tell you that the earth is a circular plane; and perhaps he will have some indistinct notion that the expanse above his head is spherical, but he will assuredly look upon himself as the common center of all. This is consistent with the general appearance of things; for, if he look around, be finds the horizon, unless intercepted by the intervention of sensible objects, equally distant from the point of vision in all its parts. And the experiment uniformly producing the same results, whether made by night or day, he relies on the evidence of his senses, and pronounces his own judgment correct and irrefutable. So the first created man. Himself the center of the system, he would regard Paradise as the limit of the habitable earth, and the expanse as the eternal residence of the omnipresent Deity. A little reflection, however, would soon bring him nearer to the truth. The garden of Eden was of a circular form, and the Tree of Life was placed in the center. Now, as the fruit of this tree was reputed to convey the privilege of immortality, the center would hence be esteemed the most honorable situation, and be ultimately assigned to the Deity, who alone enjoys the attributes of immortality and eternity; for ADAM, in his progress to different parts of this happy abode, would soon conclude that, however he might be deceived by appearances, he himself could not be a permanent center, because he was constantly c89}hanging his position.
"To this august Circle the two forbidden trees were the accompanying perpendicular parallel lines, pointing out GOD'S equal justice and mercy. When ADAM had violated the divine command, and eaten of the tree of knowledge, justice demanded that the threatened penalty should be paid. But here mercy interposed, and he was expelled from the abode of purity and peace, now violated by transgression, 'lest he should put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and live for ever' in a state of wickedness and sin. Hence arose the Masonic emblem of a Point within a Circle."
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"When mankind had transferred their adoration from the Creator to his works, they advanced specious reasons to justify a devotion to spheres and circles. Every thing great and sublime, which was continually presented to their inspection, partook of this form. The sun, the unequivocal source of light and heat, was a primary object of attention, and became their chief deity. The earth, the planets, and fixed stars, proceeding in all their majestic regularity, excited admiration, and implanted devout feelings in their hearts. These were all spherical, as was also the arch of heaven, illuminated with their unfading luster. The next progressive observations of mankind would be extended to the unassisted efforts of Nature in the production of plants and trees; and these were found to exhibit, for the most part, the same uniform appearances. From the simple stalk of corn, to the bole of the gigantic lord of the forest, the cylinder and cone, and consequently the circle, were the most common forms assumed by the vegetable creation. Every fruit he plucked—every root he dug from the earth for food—was either globular, cylindrical, or conical, each partaking of the nature of a circle. If a tree were divided horizontally, the section uniformly exhibited the appearance of a Point within a succession of concentric circles. The same will be true of many varieties of vegetables; and similar results would be produced from an inspection of animal bodies. The trunk is a cylinder; and the intestines, so often critically examined for the purposes of augury, presented to the curious inquirer little variation from the general principle. Hence statues bearing these forms were subsequently dedicated to the Olympic gods; a Cylinder, to the earth; and a Cone to the sun.
"In this figure, Nature, in her most sportive mood, appeared exclusively to delight. If a bubble were excited on the water, it was spherical; and if any solid body were cast upon, the surface, the ripple formed itself into innumerable concentric circles, rapidly succeeding each other, of which the body, or moving cause, was the common center. If water were cast into the air, they found that the drops invariably arranged themselves into a globular form. This uniformity was soon observed, and thought to be a preternatural indication of divinity; for if Nature assumed one unvarying character in all her works, that character must be an unquestionable symbol of the GOD of Nature. Hence the Circle, with its center distinctly marked, became a most sacred emblem with every nation of idolaters; adopted perhaps from the same symbol used by their
forefathers on the plain of Shinar; referring primarily to the immeasurable expanse occupied by infinite space; a proper type of eternity, but now justified by a reference to the works of Nature. This was the general belief, though the expression varied in different ages and among the inhabitants of different nations.
"The tribes contiguous to Judea placed a Jod (י) in the center of a circle, as a symbol of the Deity surrounded by Eternity, of which He was said to be the inscrutable author, the ornament, and the support. The Samothracians had a great veneration for the Circle, which they considered as consecrated by the universal presence of the Deity; and hence rings were distributed to the initiated, as amulets possessed of the power of averting danger. The Chinese used a symbol which bore a great resemblance to that which is the subject of this annotation. The Circle was bounded north and south by two serpents, (equivalent to the two perpendicular parallel lines of the Masonic symbol,) and was emblematical of the Universe, protected and supported equally by the Power and Wisdom of the Creator. The Hindoos believed that the Supreme Being was correctly represented by a perfect sphere, without beginning and without end. The first settlers in Egypt transmitted to their posterity an exact copy of our Point within a Circle, expressed in emblematical language. The widely-extended universe was represented as a circle of boundless light, in the center of which the Deity was said to dwell; or, in other words, the circle was symbolical of His eternity; and the perpendicular parallel lines by which it is bounded, were the two great luminaries of heaven, the sun and moon; the former denoting His virtue—the latter His wisdom. And this idea was generally expressed by a hawk's head in the center of a circle, or an endless serpent inclosing an eye.
"But the most expressive symbol to this effect used by any people who had renounced the true religion, was the famous emblem of
"2. The Duad, or passive principle.
"3. The Triad, or world proceeding from their union.
"4. The sacred Quarternary, involving the liberal Sciences, Physics, Morality, etc., etc.
"Of this remarkable emblem, a full explanation may be equally interesting and instructive.
"The symbol of all things, according to PYTHAGORAS, was one and two. One added to two make three; and once the square of two make FOUR, which is the perfect Tetractys; and 1+2+3+4=10, the consummation of all things; and therefore the amount of the points contained within the Pythagorean Circle is exactly TEN. Hence, because the first four digits added into each other made up the number ten, this philosopher called the number four πάντα ἀριθμὸν, all number, or the whole number; and used it as the symbol of universality. * To ascertain, however, the entire meaning of this symbol, it will be necessary to take the numbers included within the Circle in their natural order, and hear what hidden mystery the philosophy of PYTHAGORAS attached to each.
"The number ONE was the Point within the Circle, and denoted the central fire, or GOD; because it is the beginning and ending—the first and the last. It signified, also, love, concord, piety, and friendship; because it is so connected that it cannot be divided into parts. Two meant darkness, fortitude, harmony, and justice; because of its equal parts; and the moon, because she is forked. THREE referred to harmony, friendship, peace, concord, and temperance. All these, and many other virtues, depended on this number and proceeded from it. FOUR referred to the Deity: for it was considered the number of numbers. It is the first solid figure; a point being 1, a line 2, a superficies 3, and a solid 4. It was also the Tetractys; a WORD sacred among the Pythagoreans, and used as a most solemn oath; because they considered it the root and principle, the cause and maker, of all things." * * * *
"The Point within the Circle afterwards became a universal emblem to denote the temple of the Deity, and was referred to the Planetary Circle, in the center of which was fixed the sun, as the universal god and father of nature; for the whole circle of heaven was called GOD." * * * * * * *
"SERVIUS tells us it was believed that the center of a temple was the peculiar residence of the Deity; the exterior decorations being merely ornamental. Hence the astronomical character used to denote or represent the sun, is a Point within a Circle; because that figure is the symbol of perfection. The most perfect metal, gold, is also designated in chemistry by the same character.
"With this reference the Point within a Circle was an emblem of great importance among the British Druids. Their temples were circular, many of them with a single stone erected in the center; their solemn processions were all arranged in the same form; their weapons of war—the circular shield with a central boss, the spear with a hollow globe at its end, etc.—all partaking of this general principle; and without a circle it was thought impossible to obtain the favor of the gods."
91:* The sum of all the principles of PYTHAGORAS is this:—"The Monad is the principle of all things. From the Monad came the Indeterminate Duad, as matter subjected to the cause of Monad; from the Monad and the indeterminate Duad, numbers; from numbers, points; from points, lines; from lines, superficies; from superficies, solids; from these solid bodies, whose elements are four—Fire, Water, Air, and Earth—of all which transmuted, and totally changed, the WORLD consists."