QUALIFICATIONS OF CANDIDATES. The Masonic institution, like other societies, is composed of individual members, which, in the aggregate, make up a body or Lodge. As the source of power is, primarily, vested in the members, it is important to consider who should compose the body or be admitted into the Order. The qualifications which are indispensable in a candidate for initiation into the mysteries of Freemasonry arc four-fold in their character—Moral, Physical, Intellectual and roc Lied.
The Moral character is intended to secure the respectability of the Order, because, by the worthiness of its candidates, their virtuous de portment and good reputation, will the character of the institution be judged, while the admission of irreligious libertines and contem ners of the moral law would neces sarily impair its dignity and honor.
The Physical qualifications con tribute to the utility of the Frater nity, because he who is deficient in any of his limbs or members, and who is not in the possession of all his natural senses and endow ments, is unable to perform, with pleasure to himself or credit to the Fraternity, those peculiar labors in which all should take an equal part. He thus becomes a drone in the hive, and so titr impairs the useful ness of the Lodge, as " a place where Freemasons assemble to work, and to instruct and improve themselves in the mysteries of their ancient science." The Intellectual qualifications re fer to the security of the Fraternity; because they require that its mys teries shall be confided only to those whose mental developments are such as to enable them properly to appreciate, and faithfully to pre serve from imposition, the secrets thus entrusted to them. It is evi dent, for instance, that an idiot could neither understand the hid den doctrines that might be com municated to him, nor could he so secure such portions as he might remember, in the " depository of his heart," as to prevent the de signing knave from worming them out of him; for, as the wise Solomon [has said, " a fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the scare of his soul." The Political qualifications are intended to maintain the independ• euce of the Fraternity; because its obligations and privileges are thus confided only to those who, from their position in society, are capable of obeying the one, and of exercising the other without the danger of let or hindrance from superior authority.
Of the Moral, Physical and Poh 1 litical qualifications of a candidate there can be no doubt, as they are distinctly laid down in the Ancient Charges and Constitutions. The Intellectual are not so readily decided. These essential qualifica tions may be briefly summed up in the following axioms: Morally, the candidate must be a man of irreproachable conduct, a believer iu the existence of God, and living "under the tongue of good report." Physically, be must be a man of at least twenty-one years of age, upright in body, with the senses of a man, not deformed or dismem bered, but with hale and entire limbs as a man ought to be.
Intellectually, he must be a man in the full possession of his intellects, not so young that his mind shall not have been formed, nor so old that it shall have fallen into dotage; neither a fool, an idiot, nor a madman; and with so much to enable him to avail himself of the teachings of Masonry, and to cultivate at his leisure a know ledge of the principles and doctrines of our royal art.
Politically, he must be in the unrestrained enjoyment of his civil and personal liberty, and this, too, by the birthright of inheritance, and not by its subsequent acquisition, in consequence of his rele.se from hereditary londage.
Eke Lodge which strictly de mands these qualifications of its candidates may have fewer members than one less strict, but it will un doubtedly have better ones.
"1. Every candidate for the honors of Masonry ought to lead an uncor rupt life, and do the thing which is right, always speaking the truth from his heart; to use no deceit in his tongue, nor to do evil, or slander his neighbor. He must be lowly in his own eyes, and give due honors to good and pious men. If he swears unto his neighbor he must not dis appoint him, even though it should subject himself to temporary in convenience, neither must he lend money to his brother on exorbitant usury, or take reward against the innocent. Iu conformity with this primitive recommendation, our con stitutions pronounce that candidate must be a free man, and his own master, and at the time of his initiation, be known to be in reputable circumstances. He should be a lover of the liberal arts and sciences, and have made some pro gress in one or other of them.' "In 1763, the worthy candidate was described to be one ' who to a well-informed and accomplished mind added elegance of manners and a conduct guided by principle; one who would not have injured the rights of the meanest individual; who contracted no debts that he could not pay, and thought every breach of morality unbecoming the character of a gentleman; and who studied to be useful to others so far as his opportunity or abilities enabled him.' This standard of qua lification may be considered rather high, and, indeed, it is, and ought to be, so in an institution which plumes itself on its moral tenden cies, and maintains a leading posi tion amongst the existing societies which are professedly devoted to works of benevolence and charity. It would be well if the Masters of Lodges were to give themselves the trouble of examining, more particu larly than they generally do, whether their candidates are able to sub stantiate a valid claim to these preliminary qualifications.
" 2. According to the customs and regulations of our ancient brethren, every candidate was formerly re. quired to be a free man, born of a free woman.' This formula was originally considered to be an un changeable landmark ; but on the extinction of negro slavery by the British parliament, the following arguments were used at a Grand Lodge, holden Sept. 1, 1847, in favor of its alteration. The Grand Master (Earl of Zetland) requested the brethren to consider tile propriety of remodeling the form by which a candidate for initiation declares himself to be free born. 'There are,' he said, at the present moment, many men in Jamaica and other places who are free by the law of emancipa W.rn, and yet, their mothers having been slaves, they cannot conscientiously sign such a declara tion, knowing it to be untrue; and in the absence of that preliminary act, we cannot initiate them. I should be glad to see it altered, and, therefore, move that in future we substitute the words free agent for free born, and that the declaration be thus revised.' The amendment was unanimously adopted.