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LECTURE II. *
ON THE ALL-SEEING EYE.
When we look round on the wonderful works of God, as displayed in the formation of this globe which we inhabit; when we extend our view to the immense arch of heaven, and behold the amazing orbs of light, burning with perpetual refulgence, and illuminating every part of the vast and boundless expanse; when we contemplate the wonderful productions of Nature, from the stupendous ocean to its minutest inhabitant; from the majestic lion that prowls in the desert, to the most insignificant reptile that hides its diminutive form beneath the surface of the earth;—we can scarcely resist the impression which such an employment will naturally produce in the mind, that, the origin of these mighty phenomena, which exhibit such a wonderful mechanism in their structure, and such a regularity in their motions, must have been the work of an invisible and all powerful Architect. Do we enquire how came the human frame by all those mysterious properties which sustain and preserve its uniformity of action from one generation to another;—how came man by the reasoning faculty which elevates him so much above the level of the animal creation? This could not be merely fortuitous, for accident seldom produces two inanimate forms that bear any degree of resemblance to each other; and the human body, so complicated, so uniform, so perfect in all its parts and faculties, could, least of all, be the effect of chance, and therefore must be the work of some superior Being; and he who could form the wonderful machine, and furnish it with reason, must be divine.
The existence and truth of this omnipresent Being are the first steps of Masonry, and ought to be the principal objects of our contemplation. As Masons we are directed to remember that wherever we are, or whatever we are about to do, his AllSeeing Eye observes us; and whilst we continue to act in conformity with the established usages and customs of our Order, we are under an obligation to discharge every moral and social duty, with fervency and zeal.
The emblem now before us, if rightly considered, is of infinite importance both to our present and future welfare. It encourages and enforces an habitual obedience to those moral precepts, which form the beauty and excellence of our system, and impresses the mind with an awful sense of the perpetual inspection and scrutiny, which every thought, word, and action, must inevitably sustain from an infinitely good and perfect Being. The All-Seeing Eye of God is every where present. He is equally in the Lodge Room and in the closet; in the broad expanse of heaven, and in the secret recesses of caverns, vaults, and dungeons. He observes every action; he hears every address, whether of sacred prayer, or of impious blasphemy. The ground of a Lodge is said to be holy, in reference to a certain hill in Judea, where the deity frequently condescended to communicate with man. First with Enoch, whence he was translated to heaven without passing the gates of death; then with Abraham, when he obeyed the divine command, and actually bound his son Isaac, in whom all the promises centred, for the purpose of sacrifice, but was arrested by a voice from on high; next with King David, when he offered up that acceptable sacrifice which was approved by a supernatural fire from heaven; and lastly, with King Solomon, at the Dedication of the Temple. And on this spot the divine Shekinah dwelt until the Babylonish Captivity. But, however our Lodges may be hallowed by a reference to these striking events, and hence be esteemed blessed with the continual presence of the divinity; there is no place however secret, or however barred from human observation, but God is equally and substantially present. The universe, extended beyond the reach of human ideas, where worlds are piled on worlds innumerable, widely distant from the smallest speck in that superb vault of studded lights, which human ingenuity, with all its implements of science can trace, is the solemn temple of the Lord; and here and every where his AllSeeing Eye is always present. Here, in the open Arch of heaven, the divine finger may be seen; that glittering canopy, where every orb of light chants forth a song of praise. Here the contemplative Mason lifts up his heart to his Maker, assured that in whatever circumstances he may be placed, if he be the friend of virtue, he still enjoys the sunshine of God's almighty protection. Should he, like Joseph the son of Jacob, be confined to the solitary cell of a dungeon, His AllSeeing Eye is there; or should he unhappily, visit the haunts of debauchery and licentiousness, He is there also. Whether the Mason practice virtue or vice; whether he be an ornament to his profession, or disgrace it by acts of fraud and violence, he cannot rid himself of that All-Seeing Eye which is upon him wherever he goes; which follows him into his most secret retirements, and beholds the hidden thoughts and practices of the heart. If in the spirit of masonic philanthropy, he present his mite in secret to the worthy distrest, his reward is not lost; for God has beheld the transaction, and shall return it openly in seven fold blessings. And He is equally present where injustice and wrong are committed. He hears the cry of the virtuous oppressed, and will assuredly interpose at the most convenient season. These considerations have something so awful in their nature and tendency, that they can scarcely fail to produce a salutary impression. You must feel confounded when you are about to commit an evil action, if for a moment you call to mind your masonic lessons, and reflect that the All-Seeing Eye is upon you; that invisible Eye whose power could prevent the greatest enormities; and not only strike you with instant death, but destroy both soul and body for ever.
The ancient idolaters in all their various systems of worship, had some faint ideas of an Eternal and Omnipresent God, which must necessarily have been derived from the true religion; and was undoubtedly preserved in the mysteries, along with the doctrine of a future state. Pausanius informs us that they worshipped a God who is eternal. His words are remarkable. Zauc J?v, Zhvq tan, Ztve iaatrai. Orpheus said, God is One, he is of himself alone, all things are born of him, and he is the governor of the world.' Pythagoras also, to the same effect, says, there is but one God, who created all things Plato adds, God is the parent of all things.^ Euripides,§ Sophocles, ll Lucan,^[ and other Greek and Latin poets and philosophers say the same thing. The great Cud worth has effectually shown that the Egyptian Mystagogue taught to the initiated, the unity and omnipresence
* Cyr. cont. Jul. p. 26. t Ibid. p. 85. J In Tim. p. 1047.
§ Suppl. Act. 3. v. 734. || (Edip. Tyran. f 1. 0. v, 566.