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 which are those that lie within his own bosom, the external are those which refer to his outward and apparent fitness. The external qualifications are again divided into Moral, Religious, Physical, Mental, and Political. Morally, the candidate must faithfully observe the Moral Law, and lead a virtuous life, Religiously, he must believe in the existence of one supreme Deity, and must be yielded to His superintending power and divine providences, and he must believe in the immortality of the soul and a future resurrection into eternal life; Physically he must be a man, free born, of lawful age, sound in body and limb, and not in his dotage; Mentally, he must be intelligent, capable of comprehending the profound truths and tenets of the Order; Politically, he must adhere to the principles of freedom and individual liberty of conscience, and be faithful in all civic duties.

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. # He must not be influenced by mercenary motives.
  2. He must be prompted to make the application in consequence of a favorable opinion that he entertains of the Institution. # 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 conducting himself as to receive the award 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 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.
  1. Physical 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. (This qualification has been amended by Grand Masters using their powers of granting dispensations to allow candidates with missing limbs and those that are hearing impaired admission into Freemasonry.)
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

This page is adapted from the Glossary at Phoenixmasonry — Used with permission.

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