One of the qualifications for candidates is that they shall be of lawful age. What that age must be is not settled by any universal law or landmark of the Order. The Ancient Regulations do not express any determinate number of years at the expiration of which a candidate becomes legally entitled to apply for admission.
The language used is, that he must be of "mature and discreet age."
But the usage of the Craft has differed in various countries as to the construction of the time when this period of maturity and discretion is supposed to have arrived. The sixth of the Regulations, which are said to have been made in 1663, prescribes that "no person shall be accepted a Freemason unless he be one and twenty years old or more"; but the subsequent Regulations are less explicit. At Frankfort-on-the-Main, the age required is twenty; in the Lodges of Switzerland, it has been fixed at twenty-one. The Grand Lodge of Hanover prescribes the age of twenty-five, but permits the son of a Freemason to be admitted at eighteen see Lewis).
The Grand Lodge of Hamburg decrees that the lawful age for initiation shall be that which in any country has been determined by the laws of the land to be the age of majority. The Grand Orient of France requires the candidate. to be twenty-one, unless he be the son of a Freemason who has performed some important service to the Order, or unless he be a young man who has served six months in the army, when the initiation may take place at the age of eighteen.
In Prussia the required age is twenty-five. Under the Grand Lodge of England the Constitutions of 1723 provided that no man should be made a Freemason under the age of twenty-five unless by Dispensation from the Grand Master. This remained the necessary age until it was lowered in the Constitutions of 1784 to twenty-one years, as at present, though the Ancient Freemasons still retained the requirement of twenty-five until the Union of 1813. Under the Scotch Constitution the age was eighteen until 1891, when it was raised to twenty-one. Under the Irish Constitution the age was twenty-one until 1741, when it was raised to twenty-five and so remained until 1817, when it was lowered again to twenty-one. In the United States, the usage is general that the candidate shall not be less than twenty-one years of age at the time of his initiation, and no Dispensation can issue for conferring the degrees at an earlier period.
The Encyclopedia Masonica exists to preserve the wealth of information that has been generated over the centuries by numerous Masonic authors. As Freemasonry is now Speculative and not Operative, the work of a Mason is now conducted in the quarries of symbolism, literature, history and scholasticism. Freemasonry encourages intellectual exploration and academic achievement in its members and many Masons over the years have taken up this calling. The result has been that an incredible amount of philosophy, symbolic speculation and academic insights have been created. However, as Freemasonry teaches, human knowledge is frail and fragile. It is easily lost in the turnings of the ages and unforeseen catastrophes can result in great setbacks to human knowledge.
For too long these great works have sat on forgotten shelves, gathering dust and concealing the light that could be shed on the darkness of our ignorance. The Encyclopedia Masonica has been created to act as an ark, sailing through time, to ensure that future generations of Freemasons have access to the same knowledge that inspired the Brethren that came before them. It will contain the works of such Masonic Luminaries as Albert G. Mackey, Manly Palmer Hall, G.S.M. Ward, Albert Pike and many others. The Encyclopedia Masonica is a living work and the volunteers of Universal Co-Masonry will continue to labor until the most comprehensive Masonic reference work the world has ever seen has been created. The Encyclopedia Masonica is open to any who wish to use it and will remain open so that the treasures contained within may increase the wealth of all those who seek its wisdom.
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