The NorthEast Corner

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PLUMB

Plumbum was the Latin for lead, and was used also of a scourge with a blob of lead tied to it, of a line with a lead ball at its end for testing perpendicularity, etc., the source of our plumb, plumber, plunge, plump, plumbago, plummet, etc. A plumb-line is accordingly a line, or cord, with a piece of lead at the bottom to pull it taut, used to test vertical walls with the line of grav- ity, hence, by a simple expansion of reference, an emblem of uprightness. Up means up, right means straight; an upright man is one who stands straight up and down, doesn’t bend or wobble, has no crooks in him, like a good solid wall that won’t cave in under pressure.

– Source: 100 Words in Masonry

 

PLUMB-LINE

A line to which a piece of lead is attached so as to make it hang perpendicularly. The plumb-line, sometimes called simply the line, is one of the working-tools of the Past Master. According to Pre- ston, it was one of the instruments of Freemasonry which was presented to the Master of a Lodge at his installation, and he defines its symbolism as follows: “The line teaches the criterion of rectitude, to avoid dissimulation in conversation and action, and to direct our steps in the path which leads to im- mortality.” This idea of the immortal life was always connected in symbology with that of the perpen- dicular-something that rose directly upward. Thus in the primitive church, the worshiping Christians stood up at prayer on Sunday, as a reference to the Lord’s resurrection on that day. This symbolism is not, however, preserved in the verse of the prophet Amos (vii, 7) which is read in the United States as the Scripture passage of the Second Degree, where it seems rather to refer to the strict justice which God will apply to the people of Israel. It there coincides with the first Masonic definition that the line teaches the criterion of moral rectitude.

– Source: Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

Submitted by James McCallion