The degrees conferred under the charter of an American Royal Arch Chapter, which are Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and Royal Arch Mason. The Capitular Degrees are almost altogether founded on and composed of a series of events in Masonic history. Each of them has attached to it some tradition or legend which it is the design of the degree to illustrate, and the memory of which is preserved in its ceremonies and instructions. Most of these legends are of symbolic signification. But this is their interior sense. In their outward and ostensible meaning, they appear before us simply as legends.
To retain these legends in the memory of Freemasons appears to have been the primary design in the establishment of the advanced Degrees; and as the information intended to be communicated in these Degrees is of a historical character, there can of course be but little room for symbols or for symbolic instruction; the profuse use of which would rather tend to an injury than to a benefit, by complicating the purposes of the ritual and confusing the mind of the aspirant. These remarks refer exclusively to the Mark and Most Excellent Master's Degree of the American Rite, but are not so applicable to the Royal Arch, which is eminently symbolic. The legends of the second Temple, and the lost word, the peculiar legends of that degree, are among the most prominent symbols of the Masonic system.
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