“I would like you to reflect for a moment on the history of the Society. Eighteen years ago it was founded, and I am talking to you as one who was present at its foundation. It was begun with a purpose by those who were determined to proceed. But soon the greater portion of those who had entered in its early days left it. These deserters were many of them spiritualists who expected to see a new and more striking form of phenomena, because their mediums had been prophesying wonderful things; spirits were to appear in public in the streets and upon lecture platforms. But when they discovered the real aims and purposes of the movement to be different from their notions, they left it. Yet the Society grew, members increased, work spread, the organization embraced the earth. Now, was this growth due to a constitution and to red tape? No; it was all because of the work of earnest men and women who worked for an ideal. Red tape, and votes, and laws to preserve votes, or to apportion them, are useless for any purpose if they are such as to hamper effort. Bind your soul about with red tape, and like the enwrapped mummy it will be incapable of movement. . . .
“The next point I would like you to consider is that of dogmatism. . . . One has a perfect right to have a settled conviction, to present it focibly, to sustain it with every argument, without being any the less a good member of the Society. Are we to be flabby because we are members of an unsectarian body, and are we to refuse to have convictions merely because no one in the Society may compel another to agree with him? Surely not. . . .
“Most important of all . . . to be acted upon during the next twelve months, is a deep and living feeling of harmony and brotherhood. A union in name has no force or power. Eighteen years ago we formed the union, the attempt to create a nucleus of a universal brotherhood, and since then we should have made progress towards realizing what was then but a sound. Such an actual brotherhood is an important fact, its absence a very great obstruction and difficulty.
“Too many have failed to make brotherhood a real thing in their life, leaving it merely as a motto on their shield. Our brotherhood must naturally include men and women of very various characters, each with different views of nature, having personal characteristics which may or may not grate upon others, as the case may be. The first step, then, to take is to accept and tolerate personally all your fellows. In no other way can we begin to approach the realization of the great ideal. It leads to suspicion, and suspicion ruptures our union. In an assembly where harmony is absent and brotherhood is not, the labors of those assembled are made almost nil, for an almost impenetrable cloud rolls out and covers the mental plane of all present. But let harmony return, and then the collective mind of all becomes the property of each, sending down into the minds of everyone a benediction which is full of knowledge.”