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"And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood which they had made for the purpose," — Neh. 8:4.

"And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood which they had made for the purpose," — Neh. 8:4.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Oct 07, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE PULPIT— ACIET AD MODER,By C. J. BALDWI."And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood which they had madefor the purpose," — eh. 8:4.THIS is the first appearance in history, and it is theonly mention in the Bible, of the pulpit as a meansused in the publication of the word of God. In modemtimes the pulpit is an institution almost inseparably con-nected with the proclamation of the Gospel. Preacher andPulpit are nearly synonymous terms. But not so in an-cient times. The public presentation of divine truth hasalways been a feature of the kingdom of heaven on earth,but the sermon in our sense of the term — a formal relig-ious discourse with text or topic — is a modern invention.And the pulpit as a special place and means for such uses,was unknown to the inspired writers and speakers.The preaching of the word of the Lord by humanlips for human ears, has been a means of grace in all ages.oah was **a preacher of righteousness." Moses andSamuel filled the same office. Solomon called himself ** Ithe preacher." The Psalmist said ** I have preached right-eousness in the great congregation." The Prophets wereprofessional preachers. Jonah was commissioned **gopreach the preaching that I bid thee." But this was notdone according to our ways and means. The preacher wasnot confined to any one place or assembly ; he had no pre-pared platform and desk ; nor was he expected to shape his112 The Pulpit — ^Ancient and Modern.words into scientific form. The spokesman of God in theold dispensation went about among the people and delivered
his message, whatever it was, to them wherever hefound them.The only exception to this rule in the Old Testament,appears in our text, which refers to the restoration of theJews to Jerusalem under ehemiah. After assemblingthem in their ancient capital, he proceeded to refresh theirminds with a publication of the law of God, which theyhad lost during their exile. And to this end Ezra (one of the " scribes " or writers whose business it was to tran-scribe and preserve the sacred writings) was directed toread the rolls to the people. In order to facilitate thiswork, a wooden staging was erected in the public square,on which Ezra, assisted by six priests on his right handand seven on his left, could stand and be seen and heardby the multitude, Then they stood and read aloud theirBible (consisting of the Penteteuch) for six hours to thegreat congregation. ''They read in the book in the lawof God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them tounderstand the meaning."This is the first and last mention in the Bible of a pul-pit. It does not appear in the ew Testament, althoughthe preacher is there more prominent than any other fig-ure. John Baptist was a herald of salvation, and Jesus of azareth was anointed to preach the Gospel to the meek.But they had no set place or time or method. The apos-tles were sent forth to preach the Gospel to every creaturebut they were confined to no particular buildings or posi-tions. In the synagogues, on Mars Hill, in the marketplace, to the eunuch in his chariot — wherever there weresouls that would listen, there the preacher found his audi-The Pulpit — Ancient and Modern. 113ence. Indeed there was at first no separate class of preachers, for all believers were included in the great com-mission. Whoever had received the truth was authorized
to proclaim it to others. As it is written of the membersof the churches after the persecution — ** they that werescattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word."It was this personal and universal propagandism of thetruth which was the means of its speedy diffusion throughthe Roman Empire.How then did the Pulpit, as we now see it, and theprofessional Preacher, as now employed, come to have thecentral and commanding position now occupied by them ?This question is well worth considering, for it involves avery interesting chapter . in the history of religiousevolution.For at least a hundred years after the apostles hadpassed away, the Christian church was mainly a missionarychurch — engaged in spreading the Gospel through theworld, and in establishing itself among the nations. Theorganization of each body of believers was of the simplestcharacter — having only elders and deacons as officers, andconducting religious service after the manner of the syna-gogues. Their meetings were held at first daily, then weeklyon the first day : and they consisted of general praise andprayer and the reading of the scriptures. Addresses weremade by some of the elders, or by any one of the memberswho had received the gift of exhortation, or was movedby the Spirit to speak to the edification of the members.Gradually a distinction came to be made between the rul-ing and the preaching elders, and certain persons were setaside for the office of public instruction. This becamenecessary as the churches were developed into permanent114 The Pulpit — ^Ancient and Modern.and growing bodies needing particular leadership and r^-ular religious training. But preaching in the modem senseof the term began with Origen (186-253) a Greek teacherin the Theological Seminary at Alexandria. He originated

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