The Creation of Light


Late Garrison Chaplin at Nassau; Colonial Chaplain at Sierra Leone; Provincial Grand Chaplain of the Bahamas, under the registry of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and Chaplain of the Union Lodge, Nassau.



"And God said, Let there be Light, and there was Light."

No Christian, and particularly no Christian Mason, who seriously reflects upon these words, can think of them without the liveliest emotions of profound veneration!

Whether the Momentous Occasion, on which they were uttered; the Divine Being, who gave the sublime command; or the Blessed Object, which they called forth, be considered, Created Intelligence must admire adoringly, and praise its Almighty Author, with godly fear.

In the unexampled scene before us, the power and goodness, the wisdom, mercy and love of Omnipotency, are, in a striking manner, magnificently displayed, and Deity shines forth in all the grandeur of His Might.

We are instructed in the 2nd verse of this chapter, that "the earth was without form and void "and darkness was upon the face of the deep;" but that "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," the voice of God was heard throughout the universe, Let there be Light!" and the first great principle of life and energy possessed and pervaded the unformed mass! [1] Moreover, that from that instant the mighty work of this world's creation, with all its varied productions and inhabitants, advanced in beauteous order and progressive perfection! And, though last in formation, yet first of all below in superiority, Man came forth, to use the sweet, expressive language of the pious BISHOP HEBER, "fresh and unclad from his Creator's Hand." [2]

Now without wishing, in the least, to draw any unnecessary comparison between ourselves and other Christians, I cannot but observe, and press the observation upon our most attentive consideration, as Masons, the eventful transaction recorded in our text; because it presents to us more, perhaps, than the generality of mankind, a most impressive lesson of Instruction. And that lesson, if duly attended to, will convey to us a comprehensive and practical groundwork for the constant and profitable exercise of our minds and hearts in the pursuits of both speculative, or scientific, and operative, or religious Masonry.

Before, however, deducing such reflections as our present meditations may draw from an examination of the subject before us, it will be well to take, as a necessary and introductory step, a short view of the Three characteristic features which it supplies, and which will disclose most interesting, and profitable subjects of holy instruction to the pious and intelligent brother.

And 1st: - the Occasion, on which these words of the One Almighty, Creative Spirit, the "I am," that "was, and is, and is to come," were spoken.

It was the Creation of this vast and sublunary globe which we inhabit, together with every thing that "lives and moves and hath its being." The Mighty Architect of all things had already prepared, as we read in the 1st verse of this chapter, the elements of a natural world. Nevertheless, they slept, as yet, without motion, silent and in disorder, until the Divine World gave the Fiat; and, lo, sudden light burst in mid-day splendour upon them! It was then, that there instantly succeeded Action, Sound and Harmon; and animated all things!

How apposite and impressive is the religious moral, which is hereby taught us! Look at the state of things, before Light was made! Fit and striking emblem of man's spiritual darkness, before illumined and quickened by the Spirit of Grace! Oh, what a high value ought we to set on that more ineffably glorious and eternal light, which comes from the Bright and Morning Star of Redemption, [3] through His precious Gospel of Salvation; and which only can dispel that darkness from our souls, in which sin and corruption have mantled them! As in the material, so is it in the soul, that world of never-dying thought and reflection; how void! how dark! how motionless, whilst deprived of spiritual light!

Possessing, as did all the properties of matter every quality to fit them for the several purposes, for which their Beneficent Creator formed them, yet we see their powers and faculties lay dormant and inert, unable to move into active existence, or answer their respective ends, before Light was produced.

Now, what a subject of serious reflection does Creation, again, supply to the thoughtful Brother, in this, its primeval state of being, the very womb of its infancy! For, if we think, as we ought to think, with pious wonder and due thankfulness on this act of mercy and power, which thus lit this world, buried in unproductive darkness, into what it now is, teeming with all the diversified treasures of God's bounty — the blessed effects of material light; how much more should we admire; and, what is of far greater consequence, with what diligence and earnestness should we seek after that new creation of spiritual light in the soul by the Sanctifying Author of regenerating and quickening grace, which alone can remove, and keep removed, the darkness of sin which naturally benights it. Surely we ought to pray to the Eternal source of Divine Light to incline and assist us in storing up in our hearts and minds the monitory instructions here afforded us; that we may not be forgetful by what agency our sinful hearts are renewed, our darkened minds illumined, our whole man transformed, and all the fruits of the creation of Grace implanted in our souls! For, consider, I beseech you, what must, and will be, that darkness in us, which is the sad, but inevitable consequence of Original Transgression, if that sweeter, yet not less powerful voice of Saving Mercy sounds not within us (oh, that it may continually sound in us with the same happy effect,) "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee Light!"

And whose is that voice, which does so often speak to us in after-time, not, as in the Beginning, with the awful sublimity and fear-inspiring majesty of Deity, creating; but gently, and affectionately, and mercifully moving our sluggish dispositions, stirring up our unwilling inclinations to receive Life and Salvation into our souls? It is the same, that was in the beginning; for, "in the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, Yes, it is God, but God Incarnate, The Light of the World!"

The conviction of this Truth brings us, in order, to that next striking feature of our Text; the Divine Being, who gave the high command in the words before us. That no one but God, could have given it, is evident to all of us, who believe in the Bible; and that the Everlasting did positively utter it, is no less certain. With what consoling hope then, and exalted confidence, ought we to adore that mighty author of all things in His Power, which could thus call them into existence; in His Goodness who not only made, but fitted them in their first estate for so much happiness; in his Wisdom, who so excellently framed and disposed them for their several and distinct ends; and in His Mercy and Love, who, having created, blessed and pronounced them to be the objects of His peculiar and providential care.

To us, my Masonic Brethren, who are so frequently reminded of these glorious attributes of Omnipotence, and on whose attention they are so constantly impressed, the Omnipotent Source of both Temporal and Spiritual Light, should be an object of our dearest and highest regard. A godly fear, a grateful heart, a chastened veneration, and a mind embued with a hallowed love for such a Being, ought ever to shed their improvinging influence throughout the whole of our lives and conversations.

And, if in the responsible nature of created Intelligences, how much more so in that of redeemed Creatures of Immortality should we be diligent to let these fruits of revealed light bear their unequivocal testimony in our hearts and consciences, that we are not in Name and Word only, but in Spirit and in Truth, the Sons of Light. For these are evidences of sincerity and consistency, which cannot be gainsayed; the only true tests by which, as Masons, we should most rigorously prove ourselves, whose whole system in all its machinery, speculative, or operative, inculcates the Belief in, and Worship of One, True and Omnipotent God, in His Threefold characters of Father, Son and Holy Ghost: insists upon our entire trust in Him; and most solemnly directs us to prove our Faith and Sincerity by the improvement of our hearts and minds to His Glory and the good of mankind.

Having considered the Divine Being, who spake the remarkable words of our Text, we may go on to the consideration of the Third characteristic feature of it, namely the object, Light.

This inestimable and blessed gift of the Creator claims our particular attention, as Christian Masons, in whatever point of view we notice it.

It would be an inquiry, too foreign to the design of a discourse like this, to enter into a copious explanation of the Philosophy of the Science of Light; yet, it may not be, altogether, without some practical benefits, thus to take a passing glance at it.

Light, in its most extensive signification and use, may refer to various objects; and be differently defined. Scripturally viewing it in relation to Things and Time, it may be classed under Three Heads; Material Light, as in the Creation of the world; Moral ight, as in the Mosaic Economy; and Spiritual Light, as under the Gospel Dispensation from the Birth of its Heavenly Author to the end of Time.

When it is spoken of definitely and in relation to Persons, we perceive, it is used with less freedom and more caution. Indeed, it then immediately assumes the prerogative of sacredness in the highest degree. For, we read how John the Baptist is, by way of eminent distinction, called a burning and a shining Light, as the fore-runner and Messenger of the Messiah. But, by no Being, not even the highest and first of the spirits in Heaven; by the Triune God ALONE in His indivisible and never-to-be confounded nature of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, can this noble appellation be employed in that definite and solemn sense, in which we find it in the Sacred Volume. "I am the Light" is an affirmation, too Omnipotent and Hallowed, to be pronounced except by Deity Himself.

The properties of Light, and their fitness for producing not only beneficial effects in the natural, or material world, but likewise the powers they possess for the display of God's Omnipotency and glorious attributes, are further subjects deserving our reflection and examination, as tending to raise in Masons a becoming and constant sense of the value and necessity of this quality, in those things which are spiritual and have relation to the future and immaterial world. It may not be out of place, therefore, to recommend to your private meditations those remarkable events, set down in God's Word, of this display and effect of Light by The Light, as in the miraculous shining of it on the face of Moses after his descent from Mount Sinai: the translation of Elijah in the midst of it alive to heaven; the Transfiguration of our Blessed Lord, in company with these two in the clouds: and the over-powering manifestation of it in the conversion of the persecuting Saul! Such facts, considered in connection with the subject matter of the text, cannot, with the Lord's blessing, be unattended with the most favourable results to personal edification.

To these considerations another one may be here added, before we leave this part of the subject. It is the striking circumstance, not, perhaps, generally noticed, yet very useful in its practical application, namely, the precedence of time given to the creation of material Light. We know that, not until the fourth day, were the Lights set in the firmament of the heavens, or the Sun and Moon made to rule the day and the night. How easily may we extract from this single fact, a fund of rich spiritual and moral instruction! And that instruction I am satisfied, cannot be more significantly conveyed to us, than in the spirit and sentiment of the truly excellent Bishop HALL, who dwells largely and practically on this very point: I am not aware, that he was one of the Fraternity; but the pious comparisons of holy instruction he institutes on this subject, must be always very serviceable to the best interests of the Craft.

In his First Contemplation on the Work of Creation, in general, he remarks on the striking gradation of it. God, he says, could "have made "all the world perfect in an instant," but would not. And, not only does He take time in forming it, but does it also by degrees: neither makes any thing at first, or, at once, absolute; but first things without life, then those which should have life and being, and lastly those which have being, life, and reason; and so with ourselves; first the life of vegetation, then of sense, and reason afterwards. With such an example "how vainly" he adds, do we hope to be perfect at once. It is well for us, if through many degrees we can rise to our consummation." And, then, the Bishop passes on, in a similar strain, to the Creation of Light, of which he says; "Whence, O God, was that first Light." - "Thou madest the Sun, madest the Light without the Sun, before the Sun, that so Light might depend upon Thee, not upon thy creature." - "How plainly wouldst Thou teach us "that one day we shall [4] light again without the Sun; thy presence shall be our Light, Light is sown for the Righteous, - "that light which Thou shalt once give us shall make us shine like the Sun in glory." "O be Thou our Sun unto which our Light may be gathered!"

From all that has been advanced, and from what we are taught, and instructed in by the Lectures and Workings of our Lodges, we see, that Masonry, in the most sacred sense, is a Science of Light; a bright beam, a noble and holy System of practical Religion, which derives its excellence from, and would ever direct its children to the First Grand Source of All Light, The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace! How, then, do we endeavour to, and how ought we to regard and be affected by it? Did we embrace, and do we estimate it, professedly and abstractedly, without concern about its internal, excellencies, which, if duly practised and studied according to our time, and abilities, must help us to, be the better Christians? Did we unite ourselves with it, or do we behave, as if we united ourselves with it, as a mere society to be desired and followed solely for its exclusive charity and peculiar Mysteries? Heaven forbid! At our Initiation we professed to believe; and we have been, in the course of our regular advancement, subsequently taught and made to know, that the Principles of our Order are founded upon the never-failing base of Revealed Light or True Religion. And we cannot moreover, forget, how imperatively it insists upon and prizes the daily practice of every Social, Moral and Religious virtue. It is, consequently, our most serious duty, as Professors of this Light, to, undeviatingly comply with its important, excellent and solemn obligations.

The more, indeed, we consider and enter into the true spirit of the Craft, which has, let me repeat it, for its aim, the Glory of God and good of one another, the more will our minds be illumined and our hearts improved by the holy wisdom and virtue, which it delights to cherish and diffuse throughout its Members. Nor is it over-colouring the moral beauties of the Order neither raising, it on too elevated a pedestal of superiority, to say of it, in relation to those, who enrol themselves in it, that Christianity and Infidelity are not more incapable of union, than a Good Mason and a Bad Man. The combination of such contradictory characters is as impossible, as the Agreement of Light with Darkness!

By no class, or denomination of Christians, therefore, more than by Ourselves, should the Force of those Practical Reflections, deducible from a review of the Text, be felt and converted to Self Improvement in righteousness and true holiness; and, for many reasons. Two only of these, I shall now mention: and First, from the very circumstance of that Secrecy, which conceals from ordinary notice our various proceedings.

This Principle of Our Order, advantageous as it is, and indispensably essential to all the Interests of our Society, has exposed, as Civil and Ecclesiastical History will shew, and may expose the Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons to much suspicion, however unmerited; and even, as several of us have personally witnessed, to ignorant contempt. For censorious curiosity will ever be most captious and ready to take offence, when it is most disappointed. And this, I trust, will satisfy us, that we have the strongest inducements held out to us from this prominent and peculiar rule of our Society, to guard ourselves and Institution from the shafts of invidious malice on the one hand; and from the more poisonous and fatal darts of detracting ridicule on the other, by exhibiting in our general conduct that spirit and behaviour, which will show, that, be the principles and rules of the Science of Light, what they may, by which, as Masons, we are governed among ourselves; THIS, at least, is manifest, that we are not of the number Of THOSE, into whose souls hath not shined the Saving Light of the Gospel of Truth.

Necessary and Lawful as Secrecy and Mystery are, under due restrictions; sanctioned as they are by the Divine Author of all Light in the religion of our most holy faith; embracing, as they do in the laudable objects of Masonry, the promotion of virtue and increase of human happiness; unobjectionable as they are thus proved to be, when not infringing upon, but resting on the Broad Altar of Christian principles and devoted Loyalty; yet, the exhortation I am now giving you, is both necessary and seasonable. For, as in Christianity itself, so in Masonry, by the most natural and easy analogy, objections and oppositions will often assail a system, admirable as it may be in its design, perfect in its arrangements, and faultless in its doctrines, which cannot be known except by a due and solemn course of preparation. Hence, the wisdom and duty of Masons to be watchful, that their Light, or Good, be not evil-spoken of.

But not alone from the fact of Mystery, which veils our operations, throwing around our Forms and Ceremonies an Allegorical, and, to the Uninitiated, an unintelligible, but to us a Moral and Spiritual meaning, are we as Masons, necessitated to govern ourselves by the pure and spiritual light of the Gospel. Without this heavenly influence, Masonry, and indeed, every thing however sacred and excellent, would be as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Yet, although I adduce this, as one, and a most weighty reason, for the greatest circumspection in our religious deportment, lest we bring shame and discredit on our Ancient Institution, I would now stir up your consciences to a stricter course of Morality and Piety, for the time to come, by the consideration of our Masonic Obligations.

These, we all well know, the Seal of Fidelity, never to be broken but by death, stamps under the inviolable fold of Silence; but they remind us, as Masons, that we should account most dear, and practise most diligently, those precepts, which arise out of a subject, so sublime as that of the Creation of Light, considered in all its bearings, and which it teaches and enjoins.

How can we, who profess to value, above all things, that Light, "which shineth more and, more unto the perfect day;" who, in a manner, which we are forbidden to disclose, study and engage to rule, ourselves by it, neglect, or altogether set at nought those ways of holiness and paths of instruction which this Light so plainly defines and sets before us? Faulty, - I will speak it in stronger terms, - sinful will be that inconsistency, which we shall thus exhibit to the world; sharp and merited will be, sooner or later, the stings of that bitter reproach, which will overtake us, who, knowing these precepts have such an intimate affinity with our Masonic obligations, presume to slight, much more, heedlessly to violate them!

Such are a few of the general Practical Reflections, which the subject matter of the Text suggest. Many more, equally applicable and instructive, might be introduced. But I sincerely hope and pray, that these will be sufficient to make us see and feel, consider, how we will, the three great lessons of Holy Wisdom hereby taught, that they bear most forcibly upon our faith and practice. Still, on an occasion like the present, so rare and interesting, which brings us together not only, I trust, for charitable purposes, but also for the delightful duty of unitedly worshipping, to our edification, the All-wise Architect and Geometrician of the universe, to be contented with merely praising or defending a society, whose intrinsic excellence will speak for itself to us, who know its usefulness would be to lose sight of the chief end of our appearance here. For the same cause, we should do wrong to satisfy ourselves with too broad deductions of morality, inapplicable to, perhaps, or scarcely touching, upon, ourselves as individuals: for, we should neglect the most efficacious method of self-improvement.

In bringing, therefore, our meditations to a close let us look narrowly into our own hearts, each one, for himself, and judge ourselves by a more pointed rule of self examination, in respect to our Masonic Duties, how far we have, or have not, according to the Light imparted to us, squared our actions with one another on the level of those principles we profess, and kept our desires and passions within the proper compass of Masonic rule and Christian practice.

Alas, my Brethren! In the retrospect of the past year, I fear the review of it will not be entirely without a mixture of regret. Much cause as we, undoubtedly have, for humble gratitude to God for the prosperity of the Craft in the increase of its numbers, in the kind, generous, and condescending patronage of the representative of Sovereignty: and in the advancement of its general interests, yet candour compels us to confess that, in not a few instances, we have lost sight of some of the most vital principles of our Order, which we are therein taught.

It is, I know, and feel, a delicate, nay, a painful and ungrateful task; yet is it a bounden duty, so to particularize our own errors and sins, as to bring them more directly home must "judge ourselves, if we would not be judged."

Now one, and the First Masonic Duty I will call it, in the observance of which sadly remiss, is that of Morality. And, yet, on this obligation, as we well know, Masonry lays an unusual stress. Not only does she herein recommend the moderate and sanctified use of all the gifts and blessings of Light: but, in the very spirit of the Gospel, that Revealed Light from heaven, directs us to "keep our bodies in subjection to the Will of God;" to restrain our passions; and to "mortify the flesh with the affections and lusts:" taking her authority from Scripture for the same: which tells us "we are not our own but bought with a price."

Let any of our brethren, therefore, who may, unhappily, have been guilty of wilful and continued acts of intemperance and excess, reflect seriously how they are not simply breaking their Masonic vows, but also their Christian obligations of Love and Obedience to the Will of God; and henceforth begin to walk more worthy of the Sons of Light.

But there is another and important duty, the very common and condemnatory transgression of which bespeaks an inexcusable indifference to one of the most binding, and noble precepts of our Order. I mean, the respect for and protection of each other's characters, and those of our families, when unjustly and unprovokedly assailed. These, we are conscious, the noble principles of Masonry requires us to hold most dear, and, as sacred as our own. Around the reputation of Her Children, Masonry casts a consecrated Robe, which she forbids her followers to touch, much less tear off with unnecessary rudeness. And, when compelled by Honour and Justice to do so, she bids us with a tear of Pity, not a smile of malice, to be merciful. And is not this echoing back the very voice of the Gospel, which teaches us to "speak evil of no man." So the immortal Poet and greatest Moralist this world beheld, instructs mankind. And, no one, who is not dead to the nobleness of the human character, or insensible to the finest feelings of his nature, can hear of, or see, without just anger and praiseworthy indignation, a Christian command and Masonic Obligation of unspeakable consequence, so wantonly violated, as is often witnessed. For the sake, therefore, of all that is lovely and of good report, let us, as much as lieth in us, have a conscience void of offence towards Man and God.

Were these Two leading Obligations of Our Order more faithfully and diligently observed, we should not behold many of our Fraternity losing sight, so sadly, as they do, of the VIRTUES OF LIBERAL SENTIMENT and RELIGIOUS TOLERATION, so nobly aud so wisely encouraged by our August Sovereign Herself. I speak, perhaps, too boldly for a few, but I trust a few only, at all events I know, I speak, as I ought to do. These unfailing signs and tests of an expanded mind and Christian heart, the finest traits in every, but especially the Masonic character, have ever and deservedly commanded the respect and esteem of the reflective portion of mankind; and they are among the first principles of the Science of Light. Bear and Forbear in all the relative situations and circumstances of Life, but particularly in matters of RELIGIOUS differences, are axioms of Wisdom, which the best and wisest of men have loved to promulgate and practise. Ought, then, any of us, who are Masons, to reject, or even slight, so Heavenly a Principle? No. Rather, let us be more solicitous and ready to act, for the future, on that comprehensive, yet well guarded freedom of admission to our Order of all religious denominations of Christians, the door of which is closed against none, save those of absolute Infidelity and bigoted Scepticism!

There is another subject for individual improvement, which I would briefly advert to; and it is the respect, with which ourselves and families should ALWAYS SPEAK of MASONRY. No matter, indeed, what the Society or Institution be which we join, provided it be good, in its peculiarities. As to the rule of conduct I am going to recommend, it will usefully apply to all alike; and it is this: - When once we have associated ourselves with it; when once we have voluntarily and unsolicitedly, deliberately and solemnly enlisted under its banners, and engaged to uphold it in WORD and DEED; it is the duty (and they who disregard it, are faithless to their pledge,) neither to speak evil of it ourselves, nor suffer others to do so with impunity, if we can prevent it, in a Christian manner. Above all things, not to use our best efforts to suppress such unmasonic behaviour amongst those, who are more immediately under our domestic government, is to manifest, on our parts, an unworthy indifference, as Brethren of the Order. Not to the Mason himself alone, but to every member of his family the habit of depreciating the Craft, should be always an unknown offence. If any of a Mason's circle cannot think well of it, if for no worthier motive than that of prudence and decorum, they will do well to "set a seal upon their lips" that they "offend not with their tongue."

Thus shall we, as Christian Masons, adorn the Fraternity by our behaviour; and afford to the world a practical evidence of the soundness of those principles, which direct and govern us. Thus shall we, prove by the most conclusive arguments, those of upright conduct and pious conversation, that God, who spake in the Beginning and commanded the Light to shine out of darkness, hath not spoken to us in vain by His Son, Jesus Christ, the Light of the Moral and Spiritual world. And, furthermore, by thus strictly observing the Rules of Right and Wrong, we shall illustrate more fully than by the amplest explanation, what is of most consequence to be understood and prized by every one of us.

True Spirit of the Craft.

And, whilst we are in this wise amending our past errors, and improving ourselves in holiness and godliness for the future, and thus walking in the Light, "as children of the Light;" let us not forget the Mason's Moral, to "go on unto perfection." O'er the tessellated pavement of this fleeting and chequered existence we are fast hastening to the common end of all men: and along the downward tract of Time we are descending, some more smoothly than others, but all with no less sure and quick transition. Let us not, therefore, be unmindful of the merciful ends of our Creation and Redemption, to "shine as the stars in the heavens," when raised in glorified bodies from the darkness of the tomb, we shall be presented by Our All-sufficient Conductor, before the Throne of the Almighty, and Ever-to-be-adored and worshipped Eternal Master of the Heavenly Lodge above! If, heretofore, irresolute and wavering, begin we, at once, to strive for the Mastery, that we may be perfect even as Our Lord was perfect; and in earnest to ascend the Ladder of Hope, by the regular and progressive steps of Faith, Love and Obedience. Our Christian, as our Masonic course, must be steady, gradual and measured, or our advancement in virtue and godliness will be irregular, uncertain and unsuccessful. This we have been already taught in the Creation of Light, and the perfecting of the visible works of God. And, even so is it in the Spiritual Creation of the soul anew. Our increase in Holiness, if we would come, "in the unity of the Faith and of the "knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, "unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of "Christ," is step by step, higher and higher, as we are enlightened, strengthened and improved, until the Door of the Grand Lodge of Everlasting Life open to receive us into the glorious abodes of Immortal Light. Oh, that we may, all of us, my Masonic Brethren, be the blessed partakers of that unspeakable and never-fading glory; and, to this end, may we remember, that we are not our own, but bought with a price; and, thus mindful, that our duty is to glorify God in our Bodies and our Spirits, which are His, let our Light so shine before men, that they may see our good works and glorify Our "Father, who is in Heaven."


  1. "Let there be light!" said God; and forthwith light
    Ethereal, first of things, quintessence pure,
    Sprung from the deep.
    — Paradise Lost, Book 7.
  2. Heller's Palestine, a Prize Poem.
  3. "Creation more sublime." Young's Night Thoughts. Night 4th.
  4. So Milton remarks, in his affecting Invocation to Light:-
    "Before the sun,
    "Before the Heavens thou wert, and at the voice
    "Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest
    "The rising world of waters dark and deep,
    "Won from the void and formless infinite."