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Masonic Encyclopedia

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Qualifications of Candidates

Every candidate for initiation into the mysteries of Freemasonry must be qualified by certain essential conditions. These qualifications are of two kinds, Internal and External. The internal qualifications are those which lie within his own bosom, the external are those which refer to his outward and apparent fitness. The external qualifications are again divided into goral, Relitous, Physical, Mental, and Political.

First. The Internal Qualifications are: 1. The applicant must come of his own free will and Accord. His application must be purely voluntary, to which he has not been induced by persuasion of friends. 2. He must not be influenced by mercenary motives. 3. He must be prompted to make the application in Consequence of a favorable opinion that he entertains of the Institutions 4. He must be resolved to conform with cheerfulness to the established usages and customs of the Fraternity.

Second- The External Qualifications are, as has already been said, divided into five kinds: 1 Moral. That candidate only is qualified for initiation who faithfully observes the precepts of the moral law, and leads a virtuous life, so eonductmg him6elf as to receive the reward of his own conscience as well as the respect and approbation of the world. 2. Religious. Freemasonry is exceedingly tolerant in respect to creeds, but it does require that every candidate for initiation shall believe in the existence of God as a superintending and protecting power, and in a future life. No inquiry will be made into modifications of religious belief, provided it includes these two tenets. 3. Physicals These refer to sex, age, and bodily conformation. The candidate must be a man, not a woman; of mature age, that is, having arrived at his majority, and not so old as to have sunk into dotage; and he must be in possession of all his limbs, not maimed or dismembered, but, to use the language of one of the old Charges, "have his right limbs as a man ought to have." 4. Mental. This division excludes all men who are not intellectually qualified to comprehend the character of the Institution, and to partake of its responsibilities. Hence fools or idiots and madmen are excluded. Although the landmarks do not make illiteracy a disqualification, and although it is undeniable that a large portion of the Craft in olden times was uneducated, yet there seems to be a general opinion that an incapacity to read and write will, in this day, disqualify a candidate. 5. Political. These relate to the condition of the candidate in society. The old rule required that none but those who were free born could be initiated, which, of course, excluded slaves and those born in servitude; and although the Grand Lodge of England substituted free man for free born, it is undeniable that that action was the change of a landmark- and the old rule still exists at least in the United States.

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