THERE IS ONE PECULIAR feature in the Masonic Institution that must commend it to the respect of every generous mind.
In other associations it is considered meritorious in a member to exert his influence in obtaining applications for admission; but it is wholly uncongenial with the spirit of our Order to persuade anyone to become a Mason.
Whosoever seeks knowledge of our mystic rites must first be prepared for the ordeal in his heart. He must not only be endowed with the necessary moral qualifications which would fit him for admission into our ranks, but he must come, too, uninfluenced by friends and unbiased by unworthy motives.
This is a settled landmark of the Order, and therefore, nothing can be more painful to a true Mason than to see this landmark violated by young and heedless brethren.
For it cannot be denied that it is sometimes violated; and this habit of violation is one of those unhappy influences sometimes almost insensibly exerted upon Masonry by the existence of the many secret societies to which the present age has given birth, and which resemble Masonry in nothing except in having some sort of a secret ceremony of initiation.
These societies are introducing such phraseology as a “card” for a “demit;” “worthy” for “worshipful;” and “brothers” for “brethren.”
And there are some men, who, coming among us imbued with the principles and accustomed to the usages of these modern societies, in which the persevering solicitation of candidates is considered as a legitimate and even laudable practice, bring with them these preconceived notions and consider it their duty to exert all their influence in persuading their friends to become members of the Craft.
Men, who thus misunderstand the true policy of our Institution should be instructed by their older and more experienced brethren that it is wholly in opposition to all our laws and principles to ask any man to become a Mason, or to exercise any kind of influence upon the minds of others, except that of a truly Masonic life and a practical exemplification of its tenets, by which they may be induced to ask admission into our Lodges.
We must not seek — we are to be sought!
And if this were not an ancient law, embedded in the very cement that upholds our system, policy alone would dictate an adherence to the voluntary usage.
We need not, now, fear that our Institution will suffer from a deficiency of members. Our greater dread should be that, in its rapid expansion, less care may be given to the selection of candidates than the interests and welfare of the Order demand.
There can, therefore, be no excuse for the practice of persuading candidates, and every hope of safety in avoiding such a practice.
It should always be borne in mind that the candidate who comes to us not of his own “free-will and accord,” but induced by the persuasions of his friends – no matter how worthy he otherwise may be – violates, by so coming, the requirements of our Institution on the very threshold of its temple, and, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, fails to become imbued with that zealous attachment to the Order which is absolutely essential to the formation of a true Masonic character.