two modes of instruction
We are interested in two modes of instruction, legends and symbols. Legends differ from the historical narrative in only one way – that it is without documentary evidence of authenticity. It is the offspring solely of tradition. The object of the masonic legend is not to establish historical facts, but to convey philosophical doctrines. Freemasonry legends are the expression of a philosophical idea.
Legendary narratives have a distinct meaning of internal significance and we learn the illustration of the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. We are content with that interpretation. Philosophic doctrines are a method by which esoteric instruction is communicated. The student accepts them with reference to nothing else except their positive use and meaning as developing masonic dogmas.
No science is more ancient than that of symbolism. Nearly all learning of the world, at one time, was conveyed in symbols. Freemsonry still cleaves to the ancient method and has preserved it in its primitive importance as a means of communicating knowledge. A symbol is the expression of an idea that has been derived from the comparison or contrast of some object with a moral conception or attribute.
There are not radical differences between the legendary and symbolic modes of instruction in Freemasonry. The symbol is visible and the legend audible.