(...) A candidate proposing to enter Freemasonry has seldom formed any definite idea of the nature of what he is engaging in. Even after his admission he usually remains quite a loss to explain satisfactorily what Freemasonry is and for what purpose his Order exists. He finds, indeed, that it is a "system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols", but that explanation, whilst true, is but partial and does not carry him very far. For many members of the Craft to be a Mason implies merely connection with a body which seems to be something combining the natures of a club and a benefit society. They find, of course, a certain religious element in it, but as they are told that religious discussion if forbidden in the Lodge, they infer that Masonry is not a religious institution, and that its teachings are intended to be merely secondary and supplemental to any religious tenets they may happen to hold. (...) In brief, the vaguest notions obtain about the origin and history of the craft, whilst the still moral vital subject of its immediate and present purpose, and of its possibilities, remains almost entirely outside the consciousness of many of its own members(...)
W.L. Wilmshurst, The Meaning of Freemasonry (via Amazom), Gramercy Books, New York.