Masonry, being free, requires a perfect freedom of inclination on the part of every candidate for its mysteries. The decision to join Masonry must come from the candidate himself, and it should be based on a favourable opinion preconceived of the institution, a general desire for knowledge, and a sincere wish to render himself more extensively serviceable to his fellow creatures.
How does a candidate get a favourable opinion of the Institution? How does he know he can secure knowledge? How does he know that Masonry can make him more extensively serviceable to his fellow creatures? If, without any information on what Masonry is, he answers these questions in the affirmative when they are put to him, is he not, in effect, simply agreeing with these principles, rather than stating that his application was predicated on these same principles. It is possible, of course, to have a favourable opinion of Masonry before joining, but much more than that a candidate cannot know unless the information is supplied to him.
Which brings me to the nub of my subject, I have heard some of my brethren say, No one is ever asked to join the Masons. This statement simply is not true. I was asked if I would like to join, the brother who asked me to join was asked to join, and I have heard of many others who were approached to join the order. The candidate agrees that he is joining the order, unbiased by the improper solicitation of friends, and uninfluenced by mercenary or other unworthy motives. I believe the word improper in the previous sentence is used advisedly and deliberately. I think it is an adjective referring to the kind of solicitation.
It may be argued that its use implies that all kinds of solicitation are improper, but if that be the case, how much stronger the sentence would be if the word improper was left out altogether, and read unbiased by the solicitation of friends. I am of the opinion that there is proper solicitation and improper solicitation. Improper solicitation may include offering special inducements to join, the offer of speedy advancement in office, the suggestion of material gain to be expected, and so on.
If I have a friend who I believe is good material for Masonry, and who I think would enjoy being a member, I would tell him some of the things that may properly be told about Masonry. He must believe in a Supreme Being who has revealed His divine will to man, a Supreme Being who rewards and punishes; that Masonry is founded on the purest principles of piety and virtue; that it possesses great and invaluable privileges for worthy men; that it has a philosophy of life, which if practiced by men the world over, would bring peace and happiness that it has a beautiful system of moral instruction, and a friendly atmosphere in which all men may find brotherly love.
I would suggest to him that he might find real pleasure in being a member of our Order, and I would then leave it to him, of his own free will and accord, to come to a decision. How much better it is, that an applicant for Masonry know definitely the kind of institution he is joining, rather than joining in ignorance, paying his fee, and finding after taking his first degree, that he did not get what he expected, so we see him no more. We have taken his money, and he as received nothing.