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In my judgment, both are partly right and partly wrong. That the ancient mysteries were copies, in many instances corrupted copies, but still, copies of a highly primitive rite, reaching back nearly to the time of Noah, and celebrating his deliverance in the Ark, has been satisfactorily proved by learned men.* Now we have the testimony of an Apostle, that the Ark of Noah, in which he was saved from the flood, was a symbol of that salvation, which was signified by Christian Baptism. If, then, the mysteries of the ancients were copies, however corrupted, of such an ancient and primitive rite, then they must also have had reference, at the beginning, to that spiritual birth, signified in baptism, of which the salvation of Noah in the Ark, was also a sign and symbol.
I am very far, however, from supposing that this idea was retained in all the mysteries of the ancients. On the contrary, I do not find evidence that it was generally thought of. Upon a review of all the evidence on the subject, I am led to the conclusion, that every form of religion which does now exist, or wer has existed, was copied from an original divine institution;t and that every form of the ancient mysteries wais copied from some primitive and religious rite. It is true, that the former were very greatly corrupted, and the meaning of the latter, lost sight of; but this does not affect the question of their origin. And I must express my most thorough conviction, that there was enough retained in these symbols, even among the most corrupted, to lead the mind of a devout and reflecting man, away from their outward meaning, to their original and spiritual signification.
*Reland, Diss. de Cabiri. Maurice, Indian Antiquities, vol. iv. Cooke, Inquiry into the Patriarchal and Druidical Religions. Cudworth, Intellectuil System. Horsley's Tracts, p. 44, Ed. 1789. These authors agree as to the antiquity, though not as to the objecl, of the ancient rites,
t1 Peter iii. 20, 21. The same view is taken in the Baptismal Office of the Anglican Liturgy, and by the Christian fathers universally.
That is, the leading facts, so to speak, upon which all else depends, were so copied. Now such a fact, in the Christian religion, is the atonement, made by the death of CHRIST. And the death, by which this atonement was made, is set forth in the Eucharist, and this death is shown forth, until his coming again. And this same death was shadowed forth, by the sacrifices in the Jewish and Patriarchal churches. Now these sacrifices were of divine institution, reaching back to the days of our first parents, and there is not a religion known to exist, among any nation upon earth, in which there is not some sort of sacrifice. And these sacrifices, which constitute so large a share, which are in fact the leading characteristics of all pagan religions, are believed by those who practice them, to be of divine original; for every man supposes his religion to be from heaven. Now all sacrifices were copied, in the first instance, from the sacrifices of the Patriarchal Church, and consequently were of divine institution. See these points clearly and fully proved in Magee, On the Atonement and Sacrifice. Disc. ii. and Nos. xl. - xlii. See also Justin Martyr's first Apology, where he attempts to prove, that all the leading facts of the heathen religions were corrupted copies of a divine original.
$ The origin of all these seems to have been, a primitive religious rite, kept in commemoralion of the deliverance of Noah from the Ark, variously understood, in subsequent times, and variously modified among different nations, and upon which various superstitions have been engrafted. This point is curious, and deeply interesting, but we can add only a few of the more obvious and striking coincidences. The principal things symbolized in all the ancient rites, are, the Ark, with Noah and his family. These were subsequently symbolized with the heavenly bodies, and finally deified, and under various names, misunderstood and misapprehended when adopted into foreign languages, furnish nearly all the material for the ancient mythology. In many of the ancient rites, an Ark was carried in procession, (Fab. Cab. vol. i. p. 215,) and even their temples were often built in form of ships, as in Egypt, (Diod. Sie. Bib. L. 1. p. 52,) Ireland, (Vallancy, Collect. de Reb. Hib. vol iii.p. 199, etc., vol. iv. p. 29, etc.,) Scandinavia, (Snorro's Edda, Fab. 21,) and the ancient nations generally, (Fab. Cab. vol. ii. p. 216, etc.) Noah's entombment; in the Ark, so to speak, and his deliveranco from it, are also commemorated in most of the rites, (Julius Firm. de Error, Prof. Rel. p. 45. Jamb. de Myst. sec. vi. c. 51. Fab. Cab. vol. ii. p. 354, etc.) The fabled metempsy. chosis seems also to have come from this source. (Apoll. Argon. L. i. ver. 641. Fab. Cab. vol. ii. 355.)
If, now, we follow down the history of these ancient mysteries, until the religion of the Cross had been proclaimed throughout the world, we shall find them essentially changed in their religious character; no longer professing to convey religious blessings or spiritual privileges; but holding out promises of such advantages and benefits as men can afford to their fellow-men, but still inculcating virtue by the highest and strongest sanctions. We might, would time permit, follow down the history of these associations to the present time, and should thus find, that from the earliest ages to the present day, there have been similar associations, founded upon the same general principles, with similar rites and ceremonies, and with similar objects in view.t Yet the rites and ceremonies have not been the same; for membership in one, would not introduce a person into any other. Such an investigation, also, would show us, that these rites and ceremonies were originally of a religious character, copied in the first instance from a divine institution, and that for ages they were mighty agents in preserving and perpetuating a knowledge of the truth, both as regards God and man. Such, brethren and friends, is a brief statement of facts, in regard to the history of the principle on which this Society is based, and out of which it originated.
2. This leads us to consider the object of this Institution, which must be familiar to all its members, and perhaps to some others. Yet it is a part of my object and duty, to devote a few moments to a consideration of this point. And here we must notice a striking point of difference between the ancient and modern associations. Persons initiated into the ancient mysteries, were believed to live in a state of greater happiness and security than other men, and to be more immediately under the protection of the gods; to enjoy more distinguished places in the Elysian fields; to enjoy a purer light, and live more emphatically in the bosom of the Deity. But nothing of this kind is expected or promised in any of the modern associations. They promise only such things as man can perform. Their object is, to do what man can accomplish, for the relief of human misery, suffering, and want. This Society, therefore, is a vast institution, spread far and wide over the habitable globe, the main object of which is, the relief of human suffering. I say "the main object," for while it is doing this, it aims also to inculcate the highest and soundest principles of virtue and morality,
A brief account of the origin and progress of the Order in this country, falls appropriately into this place, as illustrating the view I have taken. The first Associations were organized in this country about twenty-three years ago, from which time the progress of the Institution has been constant. It has, however, increased more rapidly within a few years, than before. In other words, it has spread the most rapidly, where it is best known. At present, there is scarcely a State or Territory in the country, where there are not many societies and associations of the Order. The number at present, I am unable to give. Something of the extent of its operations may be inferred from the fact
*Doos not this view of the subject, afford a clue to the solution of that difficult question, the Salvability of the Heathen ?
t" The secret discipline of the Primitive Church," forms the connecting link between the ancient and modern rites. (Seer. Discp. Anct. Ecc. Hist. 12mo. 1833. See Clem. Alex. Strom. i. pp 320, 324, 327. Oxon. ii. p. 431, vii. p. 520. Tert. Apol. cc. 3, 7. Origin, Cont. Cels. L. i. $ 7. Min. Felix, Sect. ix. p. 90.' Cyril Jerns. Cat. vi. § 16. Basil De Spirit. Sanc. tom. ii. p. 352, Epig. 371. Greg. Naz. Orat. 40, 42. Ambros. de Abrah. L.i. c: 5, n. 38. Aug. Serm. i. Neoph. Chryst. Hom. 40. I Cor. xv. 29. llom. xvii. in 2 Cor. See also a Discourse on the History of the Secret Principle, by the present author, Cov. Feb. 1842.)
, that during the year ending September, 1841, the various associations in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, and Kentucky, paid out over $18,550, for the relief of the sick, the education of orphan children, and in other charities.Of the other States, I have not the means of speaking. During the same year, the sums expended for the same objects in England, were over $1,000,000. It is now three years since the first lodge was organized in Connecticut, and we number about 800 members, of which near 500 are in the city of New Haven.
3. We proceed to consider the principles of this Institution. These are the genuine principles of the most expanded benevolence. The lessons inculcated in all the teaching of the Order, are in accordance with the maxims upon which it is based—“Friendship, Love, and Truth.” It teaches us that we are all brethren of the same great family,—that we are bone of the same bone, and flesh of the same flesh, --sons of the same father,_children of the same mother,—and travellers through the same world of trouble, and misery, and woe, alike needing the sympathies and aid of our brethren. It reminds us, that the bounties of Providence were not given to be squandered in riotous living, or in idle extravagance, but for the general good of all mankind; that it is inconsistent with humanity, as well as a sin against our fellow-beings, for the more favored to pass
the needy, without heeding their cry. It reminds us, too, that man is but the steward of God's bounty, and that for the faithful execution of that stewardship, he must, ere long, render a strict and impartial account.
But the means of the Society are not as universal, as human misery and want are extensive. Hence, in the distribution of its alms, it follows the sound policy of assisting its members and their families first, and then, if their means allow, of granting aid to others. But this requires funds, and these can be collected only of its members. Accordingly, every member is required to pay an annual tax, amounting to less than forty cents per month, which goes into the general fund of the Society. This fund is devoted to the sole and exclusive purpose of assisting the sick and afflicted. But, unlike most other institutions of the kind, it is not given as a mere charity; nor is the amount dependent upon the opinion, caprice, or favor of any individual. It is determined by the rules of the Order, and is designed to be sufficient to support the individual, and pay the expenses of an ordinary sickness. This sum is generally fixed at four dollars per week, to which every member is entitled, so long as he is unable to pursue his ordinary avocations. Under this aspect, this Society is, in fact, one vast Mutual Aid Society, differing from other mutual aid societies, in its universality, in the perfection of its organization, and in the fact, that benevolence is inculcated at every step. It enables a man, by paying a small sum during health, to draw four dollars a week during sickness. It insures him, too, of attention and assistance during his sickness, and watchers when needed, without any trouble on the part of his friends, and it is constantly moving him to deeds of charity, by the lessons it teaches.
It also inculcates morality, by the most impressive lessons, and requires an upright and moral life, as a condition of membership. It banishes, too, from the lodge room, every temptation to evil, allowing nothing but the appropriate duties and business of the lodge to be carried on at any of its meetings. It bands together a large number of the most active and energetic of our citizens, for general benevolence, for mutual aid, assistance, comfort, and consolation.
But it has not, as some suppose, the ability to act on the offensive. It cannot make war upon any other institution, nor upon any of the customs of society. It can exert no political power, nor be brought to bear upon any sector creed. It is wholly and entirely an organization for the relief of human suffering and want; and every thing which does not tend to promote these objects, is excluded by the constitution of the Society.
4. I need not, after detailing the principles of this Society, occupy much time on the benefits to be derived from membership. These are so apparent, that they must be obvious to every one. Still, some may not have reflected upon the subject, and I will, therefore, take the liberty of suggesting some, that now call for more particular notice. The first benefit I shall mention, is, the pecuniary aid it furnishes the sick. This point is one that cannot be too well considered, especially by the young man who is just setting out in life, more particularly, if he has a family dependent on him for support, and is obliged to rely upon his labor for his mainte
To such persons, the tax of four or five dollars a year, when in health, is of no consequence; but to them, an income of four dollars a week, when sick, would be of incalculable benefit. Who of you, my hearers, have not seen the industrious and prudent man, whose labor, in health, yielded no more than a comfortable support to his numerous family-who has not seen such a man droop, fall sick, and for months lie stretched on a bed of languishing? He has lived, and his family have, some how, been provided for. No complaint has been heard in public; but if you could have seen, and some of you no doubt have seen, the internal regulations of such a family, you would have seen that which would have caused your hearts to bleed. Oh! how has that sick man's spirit fainted within him, and how have the hot tears blistered his burning cheek, as he saw his loved ones going half fed, or, perhaps, quite supperless to bed! And how has the term of his sickness been lengthened out, by the anguish of mind, caused by the condition of his family! Now had such a man been a member of this Order, he would have drawn his weekly stipend, during the whole term of his sickness, as regularly as he drew his pay for his labor, when in health. How much this would have alleviated the anguish of his soul, and relieved the wants of his family, you can all easily imagine. To such a family, this Society comes a most welcome blessing. It comes, rot with the stinted, uncertain hand of a cold-hearted charity,—nor with the reflection, that the stream may dry up at any moment, but it comes as a band of brothers, who have treasured up for him the spare pennies of the brotherhood, and who now take pleasure in dispensing to him that which, though it be a charity, is still a right.
Second. It ensures the sick the attention of friends, when needed, without the trouble to which families are often put. And here, too, the young man, just setting out in life, will find a very important aid. He comes to the city, perhaps, to pursue his trade, unknowing and unknown. He falls
sick. But there is no kind father near, no tender mother, or watchful sister, to bend over him in love, to bathe his burning temples, or fan his feverish frame. He is alone, in the solitary chamber of the stranger's sick bed. But if he be a member of this Order, all will be done, that man can do, to alleviate his suffering, and supply his wants. Night after night, un bidden and uncalled for, his brethren gather round his bed, and watch over him with a brother's care. Think
that this would be a matter of small moment, to such a man? Would he not willingly give the labor of months, instead of the small contribution he is called upon to make, in order to secure it? But suppose the same man to be thus a stranger, with a young family around him. His wife knows not where to seek for aid, and her bosom is ready to burst with anguish for the present, and with dread for the future. With what delight would she hail the existence of such an Institution as this,-an Institution that does all man can do, to supply the lack of friends, and the want of means. Such, my friends, is but a brief picture of some of the advantages that may arise from this Society, in this point of view; and I might add others, quite as important, and quite as moving But these must be amply sufficient to satisfy every reflecting mind.
Third. Another advantage to the young man, is the fact, that the principles of this Society lead him away from many temptations to evil. Man is a social being, and will have society. Now the young are imminently exposed to temptation from this very source. They are ever liable to be led away into scenes where hilarity leads to dissipation, and dissipation to intemperance. But here every avenue to such things is cut off, by the total and entire exclusion of every thing that can intoxicate, from all the lodge rooms, and all their appurtenances, throughout the whole country. In this particular, this Society stands pre-eminent and alone. Although it does not lay down minute rules for the regulation of the conduct of its members away from the lodge room, there all must be total abstinence men, and he who should presume to infringe upon this regulation of the Order, would be visited with immediate expulsion.
Fourth. Another benefit to be derived from this Society, and to those who may ever be called to take part in public life, the knowledge of public business which is there acquired, is of no inconsiderable advantage.There is scarce a man of respectability, that has arrived at middle life, that has not been called upon to address some public body, or preside over some public meeting. And who has not been pained and mortified, at the blunders and mistakes that men make under such circumstances? Now all the business of the lodge room is conducted strictly upon parliamentary principles, as it is called, and the man who has gone through a regular gradation of offices in this Institution, and the frequent change of officers enables all to do so,) will be prepared to preside over almost any public body, with honor to himself, and to the satisfaction of those who called him to the post.
Fifth. Another benefit to be derived from this Institution, arises from its universality. If a member of this Society were to travel in Europe, as well as in America, or should be reduced to want, or be overtaken by sickness, in London or Paris, or even in the smaller towns of Europe, as well as here at home, he would find the same brotherhood, bound by the same ties, ready to administer to his wants, to attend him in his distress, and, if