"Chapter Three" The Star in the East 1825 : Rev. George Oliver "Chapter Three"
ALL religions profess essentially the same system of morality; but every false scheme of divine worship was but a perverted imitation of the true one which preceded it; therefore all the commendable parts of every religion under the sun, are but emanations from the original worship of God. Now the first form of divine worship established on the earth after the unhappy fall of man, was the system of Christianity; and consequently the morality of every religion, how imperfect soever, is a remnant of Christian morality.
If, in this discussion, the Holy Scriptures may be appealed to as of undoubted authority, Jesus Christ was the creator of the world. They tell us that Christ “in the beginning laid the foundations of the world, and the heavens were the works of his hands." And again, “By Him (Christ) were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth." “All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." These passages, enforced by innumerable others, are sufficient to prove that Jesus Christ was the creator of the world. It will now be shewn that he gave His religion to the newly-formed man.
The conditions being violated by which the tenure of life and happiness was held, the parents of mankind were expelled from Paradise; and the threatened pains and penalties were inflicted by a hand, which, while it brandished the sword of inexorable justice, held out, at the same time, the golden sceptre of mercy to its fallen creatures. From the recollection of man's original felicity, and to guard the unhappy race against the consequences of Adam's delinquency, the first masons adopted two significant tokens, which hear, a striking reference to the penitence of our progenitors, and to the reverence and awe with which they beheld the radiant glory of, God when summoned into hips presence to hear pronounced the fatal sentence of expulsion, misery, and death. Thus be, banished from the presence of God, into a world accursed for their sin, and depend: Being alone on their own exertions for support, they were reduced to the hard necessity of using manual labor to procure the necessaries of life, and. to avert the evil of perishing for want of food; for the earth was now deprived of all its spontaneous productions which contained -the Aliment essential to the support of human-life. This was a calamity almost insupportable to the miserable exiles, whom habit had rendered unfit for such laborious employment, increased, as it was; by piercing reflections on the heinous nature of sin, which had desolated a perfect creation; and the appalling prospect of death, the agonies of which struck them with horror, even in the beasts which were slain for sacrifice. These considerations bowed them down as penitents before the Throne of God, and introduced an habitual system of piety, which cheered their labors, and removed the apprehension which the-sentence of death had created in their minds. From the fatigue consequent on their daily toil, and the remembrance of the supplicating posture in which they implored forgiveness, have arisen two other tokens, commemorative of these particulars. Commiserating their unhappy situation, God gave the repentant transgressors that soothing promise of redemption which removed the fears of death eternal; and they hailed with joy the means that should exalt them to everlasting life. And hence originated the fifth and last token, expressive of faith in the promised Redeemer, and hope of sharing the blessings he would convey to mankind.
Here then we have the most intimate union between masonry and Christianity from the very fall of man; and I am not conscious of the occurrence of any event which had a tendency to separate them down to the present time. Enoch, a very assiduous mason, could not be willing to make this innovation, because he was also, in principle, a Christian, and did not confine his Christianity to the mere in diligence of private speculative opinions on its mysteries; but in his charges and disquisitions of "every kind, he actively enforced forced its doctrines by that most awful of all incentives, the denunciations of heaven against impenitent 'sinners. His faith in the promise of a mediator was so pleasing to God, that he admitted him to the possession of glory without “undergoing” the agonies of temporal death:
Noah was then next practical mason we read of in scripture, or who is noticed in our lectures. He did not change them principle of masonry; but rather: improved them by adding another degree which bears a direct relation to the Christian faith; for the covenant was renewed with him forever; and the, precepts which he inculcated were the very same which" the Apostles of Jesus Christ :enjoined on converts to Christianity when applied to for a decision respecting ceremonial observances. From this circumstance, the professors of our science were distinguished by the significant appellation of Noachidae.
I do not follow the posterity of Ham and Japhet in their migrations into distant parts of the world, though they carried with them the knowledge of masonry which they had acquired from their father Noah, for this obvious reason, because they renounced the practice of the true religion, and applied our science to purposes unconnected with its original designs, and productive of idolatry and atheism. Their conduct therefore can have nothing to do with this discussion, but as it affords a strong negative proof that masonry was not disengaged from the sanctions of religion by the race who practiced it in primitive purity; and to show the ruinous effects which must necessarily ensue, when temporal schemes are made to supersede the awful concerns of eternity.
We may now safely pass on to the time of Abraham, under whom the union between masonry and Christianity was rather cemented than broken. He held more than one personal communication with Jesus Christ; and was accepted by faith in the future appearance of that divine personage, rendered perfect by obedience to His commands. To Abraham it was therefore covenanted, that the promised seed should arise from his posterity, who should convey eternal blessings to the world; and this seed, says St. Paul, was Jesus Christ. Through faith in these repeated promises it was, that all mankind were saved during the patriarchal ages, because there never existed any other medium of salvation, but only the name of Jesus Christ; " for the passion and resurrection of Christ, through which alone salvation could be had, with the glory that should follow, were articles of the prophets as well as the apostles creed."
The sovereignty given to the tribe of Judah by Jacob, was pronounced by that patriarch to be only a temporary dominion, which was to expire when the universal expectation of all nations should appear to resume his regal authority over mankind. And even the Mosaic dispensation, ushered in with all the solemnity which an omnipotent Being thought proper to bestow upon it, was but intended to separate the Jews from the rest of the world who were immersed in idolatry, by such a series of distinctive observances as made it impossible, "even for their own tribes to be confounded with each other; that the expected Saviour might proceed from a stock uncontaminated with the pollutions of false worship.”
This dispensation was, in every particular typical of the perfected church of Christ; and was given to introduce and restore a permanent religion, which was completed by the sacrifice of its founder; who opened the door of mercy on all mankind, by a full revelation of a future state, and an unequivocal disclosure of the means of salvation.
To prevent the Israelites from returning to the idolatries they had left behind them in Egypt, whose splendid and imposing ceremonies were calculated to captivate the human heart, and lead it astray from the true worship of God, to follow the innovations of men; Moses erected a superb tabernacle in the wilderness; for the Israelites are upbraided with carrying in their wanderings, the portable tabernacle of Moloch, and the image and star of Remphan. To obviate these evils, the tabernacle of the true God was set up; constructed so ingeniously as to serve the purposes of a temple for divine worship, and to be expeditiously removable with every change of situation which they were directed to make. This tabernacle was furnished with an ark, an oracle, an altar, &c., and numerous services were appointed to be performed by the priests on the authority of God himself; which, while they answered every purpose of present devotion, had a reference to a future dispensation, which was to continue to the end of the world. With this people then, the original connexion between masonry and religion could sustain no deterioration; but an union so genial and beneficial would he more strongly cemented, and even assiduously cultivated by all its professors who steadfastly adhered to the true worship, and with it to primitive masonry.
But the Jewish religion was only a temporary dispensation, instituted to prevent the true system of divine worship from being lost; and the essential points of that system were preserved continually alive in men's minds by a series of types and references which could not be misunderstood.
And first, the oblations which were made by the people towards the erection of this celebrated edifice were so many types of the several graces of Christianity. The gold of Faith, the silver of Hope; the precious stones of Charity; the blue colour of the silks, &c. denoted the lifting up our hearts to heaven; a privilege conveyed to mankind by the meritorious atonement of Jesus Christ; the purple, our warfare and tribulation for the sake of religion; and the crimson, or as the original words (tolaghath shani) signify, the double scarlet, the joint love of God and man.
The tabernacle itself was a distinct type of the church of Christ, the Son of God; for as the former was his ceremonial, so the latter was his spiritual residence. It was built due East and West, and so are all Christian churches, to denote the rise and propagation of the gospel, which was first preached in the east, and afterwards spread over the whole population of the' western world, where it now flourishes more abundantly than in any other part of the globe. It was also intended to shew further, the vast extent of the perfected church, which should reach in length from east to west; in breadth from north to south; and in compass, should ultimately include the whole habitable globe, and extend from earth to heaven. The tabernacle was built rather for the preservation of unity of worship, than as a place of itself intrinsically holy, because God is equally present in all places; and this is also the peculiar design of Christian churches, for every individual member of Christ is a temple in which the holy spirit of God resides.
The wisest and best of men amongst the Israelites, united in the most perfect bond of harmony and peace to construct the tabernacle in the wilderness, as Solomon's temple was afterwards built, without the use of axe, hammer or metal tool; so the spiritual building of Christ's church should be made perfect, without discord or contentious disputations, for God is not the author of confusion but of peace.
The three divisions of the tabernacle, viz. the outer court, which was open to the people; the sanctuary into which the priests were admitted ; and the holy of holies, to which none had access but the high priest alone, were typical of the constitution of the Christian church. The whole congregation of the people are denoted by the first; the bishops, priests and deacons, who perform the sacred offices of Christianity by the second; and Jesus Christ' himself, our eternal high priest, by the third.
At the dedication of the tabernacle, the glory of the Lord, in the form of a palpable cloud, filled it within and without, and at length remained stationary over the sane Kum sanctoruin. This was figurative of Christ's universal presence in his church; and the continual protection which he has promised to all his faithful worshippers. A cloud was frequently used as peculiarly indicative of the Divine presence. The token of Noah's covenant was a bow set in a cloud. God brought, his people out of Egypt by a pillar of a cloud. Moses communed with the Lord on Mount Sinai in a cloud. The dedication of the tabernacle and of the temple, were sanctified by God in a cloud. Jesus Christ was transfigured in a cloud; ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and shall come in a cloud to judgment.
The sanctum sanitarium was a type of heaven, whither Christ is gone as our high priest to intercede before the throne of God in behalf of his people. It was the immediate residence of the Deity, who dwelt between the cherubim of the mercy-seat in the form of a bright cloud.
The typical meaning of the ark and its appendages is this: the ark itself, made of imperishable materials, was a figure of Christ's body. It was composed of two substances, wood and gold, typical of his two distinct natures, the human and divine. The three consecrated symbols it contained referred to the three sacred offices of Christ; the tables of the law pointed to his regal power; the rod of Aaron to his priesthood; and the pot of manna, with which the children of Israel were fed in the wilderness, to his prophetical office, by which the souls of the faithful are fed and nourished. The four rings, which supported the ark, denoted the four gospels; and the buds on Aaron's rod were symbolical of the revival of the body at the final resurrection.
The mercy seat had a direct reference to Jesus Christ, who is the true () or propitiatory, that reconciled mankind to the Father by his meritorious death. The cherubs, with their wings extended over the mercy seat, were emblematical of the angels who minister in the church of Christ. This covering of the ark concealed the holy law of God from public view: so Christ protects his people from the effects of the same law, whose, letter is eternal death.
The veil which separated the holy from the most holy place, was the sacred partition which prevented mankind from prying into the mysteries which were concealed in this temporary dispensation; but at the crucifixion of Christ it was supernaturally rent in sunder from the top to the bottom; thus testifying that the typical worship was no longer necessary, now the end of all the types was come to reestablish the true religion; for the knowledge which was prohibited under the law was fully revealed in the gospel; and as there was no access to God but through the veil, so there can be none in the Christian dispensation but through the intercession of Christ.
In the middle division of the tabernacle was the altar of incense, which was symbolical of Christ, through whom mankind offer up their prayers as incense, and the lifting up of their hands as an evening sacrifice. The crown of gold was figurative of Christ's regal dignity, and the horns were expressive of his power. No incense was offered but upon this altar; and no prayers are efficacious hut such as are offered through Christ. The skew bread was typical of the Disciples of Christ in all ages of the world, who are nourished by his doctrine to their finale salvation; for Christ was the true bread of life. The golden candlestick denoted the superior illuminations derivable from the operation of God's holy spirit under the gospel dispensation; the light was typical of the word of God, an the oil of the graces and perfections of Christian holiness.
In the outer court was the altar for sacrifices, which was also symbolical of our Saviour whose sacrifice upon the altar of the cross, was daily prefigured by the innumerable sacrifices which were here offered for sin. The layer symbolized the regeneration of baptism, which is the sacred rite of admission into the Christian, Christian church.
The boards or pillars which supported the tabernacle were emblematical of all faithful Christians, who are represented in scripture as pillars in the temple of God; the bars referred to the ministers of Christ's church; and Christ himself is the foundation, depicted by the bars and sockets; and as there were two sockets under every pillar, so they were intended to denote the two natures of Christ.
It will be seen, that, in following the arrangement of the master mason's (or more properly the past master's) lecture, I have been as concise as possible in enumerating the typical applications of the tabernacle and its appendages to Christianity, which was the true religion on which Judaism was engrafted for wise and inscrutable purposes; and if we examine the services and other component parts of the institution itself, we shall find that they all point equally to the same event, the coming of Shiloh predicted by Jacob while the Israelites were in Egypt; and the full establishment of Christianity, by the total subversion of this temporary and figurative institution.
The Annual Sacrifices were typical of the sacrifice of Christ. They cleansed the sinner from all moral as well as ceremonial defilement; but a repetition of them every year was essential, because of the imperfection of a system which necessarily ordained that one man should atone for another; but the one sacrifice of Christ, God as well at man, purifies the conscience forever from sin. The burnt offerings were also typical of the same Divine personage. They were burnt without the camp, and Christ was sacrificed without the city. Their blood was sprinkled on the ark of the covenant to propitiate the Deity who dwelt between the cherubim; and Christ's blood was poured out in the face of heaven as a sacrifice of sweet smelling savour, to wash away the sins of men.
The scape goat, the Pascal lamb, the cities of refugee, the daily sacrifices, the temple, were equally types of Christ; as the jubilee was of the Gospel, and Mount Zion of the Church. It is in fact unnecessary, in a disquisition of this nature, to multiply evidences for the purpose of proving that the entire system of Judaism was typical of Christianity; and consequently that salvation was then, as now, suspended on the indispensable condition of faith in the Mediator. And this was not an obscure doctrine, partially understood by the Jews; for their prophets were continually sounding it in their ears, and there was scarcely a generation from. Moses to Malachi which did not hear it enforced by the awful sanction of rewards and punishments.