A Practical Synopsis of Freemasonry

The desire, on your part, to become a part of the Fraternity of Freemasons will depend under our organization, upon the judgment of the brethren as to whether you may be suitable material for the Order, and whether the Order is suitable for you. It will therefore be the duty of every member---in case you see fit to present your name---to institute diligent inquiries about you; after which a vote by ballot will be taken, wherein one single negative will preclude your admission.

Examine yourself again, therefore; see whether you can answer the expectations of the Order. Above all, endeavor to become clearly conscious of what you seek among us, and what motives have led you to seek our society. In order to facilitate this self-examination, to guard you against a misstep, and to secure ourselves against the danger of being hereafter reproached for any disappointment on your part, we deem it a duty, previous to your proposal, to meet you with candor, and ask you to reflect on the following points:

First. Do you expect by initiation into the Masonic Fraternity to obtain any outward advantages relative to your position as a citizen and as an individual? If so, pause while it is yet time: for, in this instance, you would be disappointed.

Second. Would your present convictions prevent you from forgetting the differences made in society between individuals, as to their station, wealth, capacities, religion opinions, politics, etc.? If so, relinquish the idea of becoming a Freemason, as you would probably find no pleasure in our meetings, where no notice is taken of these differences.

Third. Should you, however believe that we work at a chimerical annihilation of the necessary civil relations: that we aim at a liberty and equality that are neither good nor practicable; or that we even teach a chilling indifference---then you will do well to consider your resolution to come among us; because, with such views, you would not suit our Order.

Fourth. Should your request for initiation arise only from curiosity, or, what is equally fallacious, the desire to enlarge the circle of your social acquaintance, we beg you, for your own sake, to renounce it---you would not attain your expectations. Neither your curiosity nor your desire to obtain secrets would be gratified. Your vanity might also be sensibly touched, when you found yourself beneath those whom you had, perhaps, heretofore considered your inferiors; and the mere social purpose you may accomplish in many other societies with greater ease and less restraint than with us.

Fifth. Every Freemason, at his initiation, has to make a vow of the most violable secrecy. Disappointed expectations, aggrieved selfishness, excited passions, might induce some to break their word; yet, how singular it is, that, notwithstanding the possibility of such treason, our union continues to exist, and includes so many respectable men, identified with us with all their strength. He who has finished his internal consecration and to whom the dead word has become a vital flame, cannot become a traitor to the Order. He, however, who breaks his vow commits treason against himself only, and thus proclaims that he has nothing of ours to reveal. From you such a vow will be demanded, and you should therefore seriously consider the motives by which you are governed. If you are not quite clear within yourself, you may be in danger of forgetting your vow and becoming a traitor, which we nevertheless do not fear on our account, but on yours.

Sixth. The obligations which, as a Freemason, you will be required to assume, in no wise conflict with the duties you owe to God or the rulers of your country, neither with your honor, good manners, or domestic relations.

Seventh. Our membership is also attended with some expense, which we require to be promptly and punctually paid, that our good works may not cease for want thereof. The amount you can readily acertain (by reference to our by-laws), and you will give this consideration due attention.

Eighth. As the Masonic Society, as has been already said, consists of men of all classes and circumstances, you might, perhaps, find some one among us with whom you have been or are at variance. It therefore requires serious deliberation on your part as to whether you will be strong enough to acknowledge such a man as your brother.

Ninth. It may be also possible that you should meet someone in the Order whom, for good reason, you may deem unworthy of your esteem. A moment's reflection must, however, convince you that the Fraternity cannot guard against all mistakes in regard to initiation; Fraternity cannot guard against all mistakes in regard to initiation; and it is probably no dishonor to it, when it, only in an extreme case, and then with great reluctance, renounces a man on whom it had once conferred the name of brother. But now, while you can still choose, consider seriously whether you will have the courage to bear with such a one, to lead the erring, to raise the fallen, to love one who almost seems to be past redemption. This is unquestionably one of the most difficult virtues, but it does not thereby cease to be such, and unless you are familiar with it you will never be a Freemason in the true sense of the word.

The true Mason does not consider the duties of his profession as a substitute for the requirements of religion, but regards his Lodge as a Temple of the Most High, who is ever present when two or three are gathered together in His name. He does not rashly attempt to draw the Deity down to himself, but, in humble consciousness of his own imperfection, he looks upward and endeavors to make the image of God, after whom he is created, visible in himself.

We ask you to ponder on these remarks and allusions, assuring you, that if you find a place in your heart for the principles contained in them, you may hope for a generous welcome to the society in which you ask to be initiated.