Freemasonry became esoteric later

There is no doubt that in Masonic rituals the esoteric component first became dominant, using symbols and allegories (the tools of the craft first and foremost) only at the start of the eighteenth century. It may thus be concluded that although Freemasonry was mainly developed initially as a system of morals it undeniably evolved into a true “initiatic Order”, and the retrospective introduction of the Legend of Hiram is proof of this.

Fabio Venzi in Studies on Traditional Freemasonry p. 92

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