From the book "Illustrations of Masonry"
by William Preston 1895
The mode of government observed by the fraternity will give the best idea of the nature and design of the Masonic system.
Three classes are established among Masons, under different appellations. The privileges of each class are distinct, and particular means adopted to preserve those privileges to the just and meritorious. Honour and probity are recommendations to the first class; in which the practice of virtue is enforced, and the duties of morality are inculcated, while the mind is prepared for a regular progress in the principles of knowledge and philosophy, Diligence, assiduity, and application, are qualifications for the second class; in which is given an accurate elucidation of science, both in theory and practice. Here human reason is cultivated by a due exertion of the intellectual powers and faculties; nice and difficult theories are explained; new discoveries are produced, and those already known are beautifully embellished. The third class is restricted to a selected few, whom truth and fidelity have distinguished, whom years and experience have improved,and whom merit and abilities have entitled to preferment. With them the ancient landmarks of the Order are preserved, and from them we learn the necessary and instructive lessons, which dignify the art, and qualify its professors to illustrate its excellence and utility.
This is the established plan of the Masonic system. By this judicious arrangement, true friendship is cultivated among different ranks of men, hospitality promoted, industry rewarded and ingenuity encouraged.