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Inherent Rights of a Grand Master

This has been a subject of fertile discussion among Masonic jurists, although only a few have thought proper to deny the existence of such rights. Upon the theory which, however recently controverted, has very generally been recognized, that Grand Masters existed before Grand Lodges were organized, it must be evident that the rights of a Grand Master are of two kinds those, namely, which he derives from the Constitution of a Grand Lodge of which he has been made the presiding officer, and those which exist in the office independent of any Constitution, because they are derived from the landmarks and ancient usages of the Craft. The rights and prerogatives which depend on and are prescribed by the Constitution may be modified or rescinded by that instrument.

They differ in various Jurisdictions, because one Grand Lodge may confer more or less power upon its presiding officer than another; and they differ at different times, because the Constitution of every Grand Lodge is subject, in regard to its internal regulations, to repeated alteration and amendment. These may be called the accidental rights of a Grand Master, because they are derived from the accidental provisions of a Grand Lodge, and have in them nothing essential to the integrity of the office. It is unnecessary to enumerate them, because they may be found in varied modifications in the Constitutions of all Grand Lodges.

But the rights and prerogatives which Grand Masters are supposed to have possessed, not as the presiding officers of an artificial Body, but as the Rulers of the Craft in general, before Grand Lodges came into existence, and which are dependent, not on any prescribed rules which may be enacted today and repealed tomorrow, but on the long-continued usages of the Order and the concessions of the Craft from time out of mind, inhere in the office, and cannot be augmented or diminished by the action of any authority, because they are landmarks, and therefore unchangeable.

These are called the inherent rights of a Grand Master. They comprise the right to preside over the Craft whenever assembled, to grant Dispensations, and, as a part of that power, to make Freemasons at sight (see Doctor Mackey's revised Jurisprudence of Freemasonry).

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