Of all the ancient religions, fire-worship was one of the earliest next to Sabaism; the worship of the heavenly bodies, and even of this it seems only have been a development, as with the Sabaists the sun was deemed the Universal Fire. "Darius," says Quintus Curtius, "invoked the sun as Mithras, the sacred and eternal fire." It was the faith of the ancient Magi and the old Persians, still retained by their modern descendants the Parsees. But with them it was not an idolatry. The fire was venerated only as a visible symbol of the Supreme Deity, of the Creative Energy, from Whom all things come, and to Whom all things ascend. The flame darting upward to meet its divine original, the mundane fire seeking an ascension to and an absorption into the celestial fire, or God Himself, constituted what has been called the lame- secret of the fire-worshipers. This religion was not only ancient, but also universal. From India it passed over into Egypt, and thence extended to the Hebrews and to the Greeks, and has shown its power and prevalence even in modern thought. On the banks of the Nile, the people did not, indeed, fall down like the old Persians and worship fire, but they venerated the fire-secret and its symbolic teaching. Hence the Pyramids, pyr is Greek for fire, the representation of ascending flame; and Hargrave Jennings shrewdly says that what has been supposed to be a tomb, in the center of the Great Pyramid, was in reality a depository of the sacred, ever-burning fire. Monoliths were everywhere in antiquity erected to fire or to the sun, as the type of fire. Among the Hebrews. the sacred idea of fire, as something connected with the Divine Being, was very prominent. God appeared to Moses in a flame of fire; he descended on Mount Sinai in the midst of flames; at the Temple the fire ascended from heaven to consume the burnt offering. Everywhere in Scripture, fire is a symbol of the holiness of God. The lights on the altar are the symbols of the Christian God. The purifying power of fire is naturally deduced from this symbol of the holiness of the element. And in the advanced Degrees of Freemasonry, as in the ancient institutions, there is a purification by fire, coming down to us insensibly and unconsciously from the old Magian cultus. In the Medieval ages there was a sect of fire-philosophers hilosophi per ignem who were a branch of offshoot of Rosicrucianism, with which Freemasonry has so much in common. These fire- philosophers kept up the veneration for fire, and cultivated the fire-secret, not as an idolatrous belief, but modified by their hermetic notions. They were also called theosophists, and through them, or in reference to them, we find the theosophic Degrees of Freemasonry, which sprang up in the eighteenth century. As fire and light are identical, so the fire, which was to the Zoroastrians the symbol of the Divine Being, is to the Freemason, under the equivalent idea of light, the symbol of Divine Truth, or of the Grand Architect.
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