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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 Preston, 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 immortality." This idea of the immortal life was always connected in symbology with that of the perpendicular--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.

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