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[252]

The pulpit (1860).

A Discourse before the Twenty-Eighth Congregational Society, Music Hall, November 18, 1860.

I am going to use the hour you lend me this morning in speaking of the pulpit. Not that I expect to say anything new to you who have statedly frequented these seats for many years; but the subject commends itself to my interest just at this moment when we all feel so earnestly the propriety and the duty of endeavoring to perpetuate this legacy of Theodore Parker.

This pulpit,--there are two elements which distinguish it from all other pulpits in New England, which distinguish it emphatically from all other pulpits in the city. One is this: you allow it to be occupied by men and by women, by black men and white men, by the clergy and by laymen. That is a very short statement, and seemingly a very simple one; but how vast an interval of progress is measured by the extent of that simple statement! It seems to me the first, the very first time that the central idea of New England has gotten expression; for if there be anything that lies at the very root of New England moral life, it is a protest against the idea of a priesthood,--a select class, set apart with peculiar authority, and capable, and they alone, of peculiar functions. Our churches have drifted away from the old idea; but New England was the vanguard of that Protestant protest against the idea of a priest,--the idea

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