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Bishop Potter's Address as Taken from the Proceedings of the Grand Chapter of the State of New York.

No place: no publisher, 1903.

Transcribed by Wayne Kempton, 2007


As Taken from the



The Right Reverend HENRY CODMAN POTTER, Bishop of New York, a companion of the membership of JERUSALEM CHAPTER, No. 8, of New York City, who had been invited by the Grand High Priest to address the Grand Chapter, was admitted under the conduct of Comp. C. VICTOR TWISS, welcomed by the Grand High Priest, received in form, and introduced to the companions, whom He addressed as follows:

Most Excellent Grand High Priest and Excellent Companions:

The privilege of addressing you on this occasion is one that I prize very highly; and the Venerable Order in whose fellowship we are assembled in this Temple is one which, I am bound to add, I regard with profound seriousness as of pre-eminent value.

That it is not always so, I know very well, and I think you will own, with me, that Masons themselves are sometimes tempted to exalt the social, or the provident, features of the Order, to the disregard, if not the disesteem, of other features that are of more august significance and of more enduring value. I can not pretend, indeed, that I have not, myself, erred in this way, and I am bound in honor to own that if, originally, I had not been attracted to Masonry by its value as what may be called a universal social solvent, I might never have sought its fellowship. I was, at an early period of my life, about to travel in foreign countries; and I was assured that, as a Freemason, I should be recognized and considered, when, otherwise, I might easily have been forlorn and neglected. Well, Most Excellent Grand High Priest and Companions, I found, by happy experience, that that assurance was true. Once, and again, and again, when the emergency seemed to disclose no other way out of a dilemma, I have solved it by revealing myself as a Mason; and it is certainly a noteworthy fact, that never, anywhere did I make that disclosure without finding other Masons who recognized and responded to it.

But I confess, Most Excellent, that these earlier experiences were but limited; and the inferences which they suggested both narrow and personal. Some thirty years after they occurred, I went round the world; and though I entered more than one country in which the western traveler is largely a stranger, I entered none, Japan, China, Burma, India, Ceylon, or any other, where this ancient Order had not its disciples, nor where its venerable principles were not respected and honored. I know, brethren and companions, how common it is to treat the antiquity of Masonic principles and traditions with a certain good-humored incredulity; as though, while we might preserve the story of Hiram Abiff in our Ritual, it was not necessary to enshrine him among our beliefs. I hope that, in any such connection, I shall always concede to others the same freedom of faith that I venture to claim for myself. I do not forget, Most Excellent, that, in Masonry, as in other ancient traditions, history sometimes melts away into primitive myths upon whose literal substance no one of us may rashly pronounce. But the very ancient origin of Masonry, no one of us, I think, may doubt; and if we may not, then, straightway we are confronted with one of the most impressive facts in human history,--the fact, I mean, that even before its Divine Incarnation entered the world, there was an Order of men that stood for the pre-eminent and the pre-eminently precious fact of the Brotherhood of Man!

Now, then, Most Excellent and Companions, I affirm that there is nothing in all the world today that is so impressive and so universal an affirmation of that truth as Masonry. Do you say that the Religion in which most of us here present have been nurtured, everywhere that it has gone, has everywhere affirmed it? God forbid that I should forget that glorious fact! But it does not take a very long voyage to outrun the confines of the Christian religion; and when you have,--in Japan or China or India, or wherever you go,--have you outrun Masonry? Nay, wherever, as in any Mohammedan country, there is a monotheistic religion,--a religion that believes in the one Supreme Jehovah,--there you find the Masonic Order and there you may recognize its beneficent influence!

"Well, what has all this to do," some one may ask, "with this assemblage, and with these ceremonies?" Just this, that we who are Masons, and proud to be Masons, may never forget that we are also citizens--and citizens of no mean Republic! Content for a century or more to build herself up from within, she is now reaching out to touch that great East from which, after all, when Solomon reared the Temple, her greatest ideas came. And of these greatest ideas, the greatest of all was that by which she binds men together, of whatever family or country, or color, in the world-wide fellowship of the Masonic Lodge!

Believe me, Men and Brethren, with a great stewardship come great responsibilities! May we recognize the unique character, and the sublime powers of our trust; and may we use it, here and everywhere, in the upbuilding of a great people, and in the enthronement, high over all our national or personal endeavors, of the two supreme principles of Masonry,-faith in the Eternal Fatherhood of God, and in the Eternal Brotherhood of Man!

On motion of Comp. FRED. LINUS CARROLL.

Resolved: That the thanks of the Grand Chapter be, and are hereby ten-dered to Comp. POTTER for the eloquent and instructive address just deliv-ered, and that he be requested to prepare its matter for publication with the Proceedings of this annual convocation.

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