The Ministry in Historical Perspectives by H. Richard Niebuhr and Daniel D. Williams (eds.)
H. Richard Niebuhr was Professor of Christian Theology at Yale University Divinity School. His most famous book is Christ and Culture. Assisting him in this project were Daniel Day Williams, Professor of Theology at Union Theological School, and James Gustafson, then on the staff of the Study of Theological Education in the U.S. and Canada. The Ministry in Historical Perspectives was published in 1956 by Harper & Brothers, New York. It was part of a survey of theological education in the United States and Canada, which led to the publishing of this book as well as H. Richard Niebuhr, The Purpose of the Church and Its Ministry (1956) and H. Richard Niebuhr, Daniel D. Williams, and James M. Gustafson, The Advancement of Theological Education (1957). This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock
The Ministry in Historical Perspectives was published in 1956 by Harper & Brothers, New York. It was part of a survey of theological education in the United States and Canada, which led to the publishing of this book as well as H. Richard Niebuhr, The Purpose of the Church and Its Ministry (1956) and H. Richard Niebuhr, Daniel D. Williams, and James M. Gustafson, The Advancement of Theological Education (1957). This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock
Chapter 7: The Ministry in the Puritan Age, by Winthrop S. Hudson
[Winthrop S. Hudson received his Ph. D. from the University of Chicago. He taught church history at Colgate Rochester Divinity School from 1942, became distinguished seminary professor there in 1977, and subsequently became visiting scholar at the University of North Carolina.]
The Puritan Age in England may roughly be defined as the century following the Reformation. It extended from the first years of Elizabeth's reign to 1660 when the restoration of the Stuarts brought to an end the attempt to fashion a Puritan state.
The Reformation in England had been much less drastic and far less systematic than the reforms introduced on the Continent. Worship was simplified, elements of "superstition" were removed, English replaced Latin, but much that was familiar was retained. The Articles of Religion were brief and, in the interest of comprehension, avoided precise definition. The structure of the church -- with its dioceses and parishes, bishops and parish clergy -- was left largely untouched. But this absence of drastic reform was deceptive. It served to cloak the far-reaching changes in thinking that had been introduced. Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in the altered view of the clergy.
The sacerdotal aspect of the ministry was not in express words disallowed, but it was so effectually obscured as to fall out of general acceptance. The word "priest" remained, but it was carefully explained by Archbishop Whitgift to mean no more than presbyter, and it was carefully avoided in official documents. Except when referring to the Ordinal, the Canons of 1604 invariably employ the word "minister" instead of "priest." The suggestion of the official usage was emphasized by the destruction of the altars in the parish churches, . . . and the abandonment of the Eucharistic vestments.1
Formerly the clergy had been "priests," finding their primary responsibility at the altar; now they were "ministers," with preaching and pastoral care as their pre-eminent duties.
It is because there was this essential agreement as to the role of the clergy that it is possible to discuss the ministry in the Puritan Age without resorting to party distinctions. The English church, to be sure, did become divided into the two rival camps of Puritan and Anglican, but until the last years of our period the difference between them was not great. Henry Scougal, the Scottish Episcopalian, once observed that animosities frequently are greatest where differences are least, and this was true of the increasingly acute religious controversy which was to plague the life of England during the century following the Reformation.
Puritanism, which had its origin early in the reign of Elizabeth in an effort to push through a more thoroughgoing reform of the worship of the English church, was merely the most dynamic form of English Protestantism.2 The points at issue were peripheral rather than central, and the Puritan and Anglican were more to be distinguished by a difference of mood and emphasis than by any fundamental theological disagreement. It is true that the Puritan made his primary appeal to the authority of Scripture and that the Anglican gave greater heed to the authority of tradition, yet even this distinction was a distinction in emphasis. Chillingworth could insist that the Bible was the religion of the Anglican, and no Puritan was ever indifferent to tradition as represented by "the best reformed churches abroad" and by John Foxe's accounts of the English martyrs. Moreover, the reason for the varying emphasis upon Scripture and tradition was not so much theological as psychological. It was rooted in a difference in temperament. The Puritan was zealous for reform; eager, impatient, and intense; insistent that all of life must quickly be reduced to conformity with God's will. The Anglican was more cautious and moderate; more aware of the power of habit and custom; fearful of precipitate action and desirous of making haste slowly. The Puritan never forgot Peter's word that one must obey God rather than men, while the Anglican remembered Paul's counsel that due regard must be given constituted authority. Thus some things which were intolerable for the Puritan were tolerable for the Anglican.
No one better represents the Anglican mood of caution and moderation and the stress upon the necessity for obedience to constituted authority than George Herbert. His "country parson" used and preferred "the ordinary church catechism, partly for obedience to authority, partly for uniformity sake that the same common truths may be everywhere professed." The mood of caution and moderation was also apparent in the hesitancy of the "country parson" to reject familiar usages. He was a lover of old customs and thought it foolish to reject practices, harmless in themselves, if the "people are much addicted to them." It was his policy, "if there be any evil in the custom that may be severed from the good," to pare the apple and give them "the clean to feed on."3
While this difference in mood between the Puritan and the Anglican did spell out some differences in ministerial practice, the differences were of a minor nature. They were mostly in matters of detail, in tempo of activity, and in the relative emphasis to be given specific tasks. But in terms of the definition of the ministerial function itself there was virtual unanimity.
A distinction of greater consequence was in process of development during these years, but its full impact upon the work of the minister was not to be felt until a later period. This was the emergence in incipient form of the evangelical pietism which was destined to become so influential a feature of religious life in the English-speaking world. The Puritan had found his major support through the emotional response awakened by his preaching, and he came to stress more and more the paramount importance of an awakened conscience and the work of grace in the heart of the believer. Thus it became his overriding concern that the Word be preached with power and effectiveness. The Anglican, on the other hand, was driven to defend his position by emphasizing the sacramental efficacy in the life of the community of the prayers and worship of the church.
When George Herbert set himself to the task of writing The Country Parson, his intention was not to describe a typical parson of the time but rather "to set down the form and character of a true pastor." His purpose was to give himself "a mark to aim at," a mark which he set as high as he could, "since he shoots higher that threatens the moon than he that aims at a tree."4 The surprising fact, however, is that there were so many pastors of the time, including Herbert himself, who closely approximated the ideal which he delineated so charmingly. In all ages, there have been the indifferent, indolent, unworthy, and scandalous among the clergy; and the age in which Herbert lived was no exception. But no one who has browsed through the biographical accounts of the ministers whose lives fell within the period from the death of Mary through the tumultuous years of the Civil Wars and Commonwealth to the deceptive calm of the Restoration can fail to be impressed with the deep devotion, earnest labors, and high conception of their task which characterized so many of the clergy. This is the more remarkable because the clergy were so very largely on their own, and the practice of their calling was left to their own voluntary efforts. Even had the disciplinary powers of the bishops remained unimpaired, it would have been difficult to legislate good preaching and conscientious pastoral care.
It was a busy life these parsons led. The pattern varied from parish to parish, but the weekly schedule of Herbert's "country parson" suggests the general scope of their activities. On Sundays, there were two services with preaching in the morning and catechizing in the afternoon.
The rest of the day he spends in reconciling neighbors that are at variance, or in visiting the sick, or in exhortations to some of his flock by themselves whom his sermons cannot or do not reach. And everyone is more awakened when we come and say, "Thou art the man." This way he finds exceeding useful and winning. At night, he thinks it a fit time, both suitable to the joy of the day and without hindrance to public duties, either to entertain some of his neighbors or to be entertained of them; where he takes occasion to discourse of such things as are both profitable and pleasant, and to raise up their minds to apprehend God's good blessing.5
On weekdays, the afternoons were utilized "to visit in person, now one quarter of the parish, now another," to counsel, admonish, and exhort.
There he shall find his flock most naturally as they are . . . whereas on Sundays it is easy for them to compose themselves to order, which they put on as their holiday clothes and come to church in same, but commonly the next day put off both.6
The mornings were for reading and study and the numerous other activities which were the pastor's lot. Mealtimes were the occasion for extending the hospitality of the table to his parishioners, taking them in turn "so that in the compass of the year he hath them all with him," but inviting those most often "whom he sees take best courses that so both they may be encouraged to persevere and others spurred to do well." 7
This ideal which Herbert sketched was not easily attained, for the minister was caught up in many other activities of parish life. Not infrequently he was called upon to serve as schoolmaster to the parish children, and occasionally he might be prevailed upon to utilize his spare time for the instruction of adults as well. One minister is reported to have taught forty persons to read who were over forty years of age.8 Nor was it unusual for a clergyman to be licensed to practice medicine, and whether licensed or not he was expected to keep a book of "physic" at hand and his wife a garden of medicinal herbs so that help could be given in emergencies. In similar fashion, he needed at least an elementary knowledge of law, for as the educated person of the community he was called upon to give legal advice, draft legal documents, and frequently adjudicate legal disputes. In the midst of all this, if his income was to be at all adequate, he needed a moderate knowledge of farming and, in some cases, had to be able to handle a plow and a spade with reasonable skill,
Given these circumstances, it was to be expected that many -- quite apart from those who frequented the tavern, the gaming table, and the hunt -- did not measure up to the specifications of Herbert's ideal parson. What is astonishing is that there were many who exceeded the rigorous routine he prescribed, who added a weekday lecture to the Sunday schedule of sermon and catechizing, or who, like Richard Greenham, "rose each morning at four, and spoke to his people at dawn every weekday morning." 9
What was the aim of this busy activity? "The first and great work of the ministers of Christ," Richard Elaxter declared, is "to acquaint men with that God that made them and is their happiness,''10 and there were few ministers who would have dissented. Henry Scougal, who was deeply indebted to Herbert in many ways, was to state it with greater force and beauty.
The great business of our calling is to advance the divine life in the world; to make religion sway and prevail, frame and mould the souls of men into a conformity to God and superinduce the beautiful lineaments of his blessed image upon them; to enlighten their understandings and inform their judgments, rectify their wills and order their passions and sanctify all their affections. The world lieth in sin, and it is our work to awaken men out of their deadly sleep -- to rescue them out of that dismal condition. We are the instruments of God for effecting these great designs; and though we be not accountable for the success when we have done what lieth within our power, yet nothing below this should be our aim; and we should never cease our endeavors until that gracious change be wrought in every person committed to our charge.1l
To understand in detail how these "ministers of Christ" went about the "great business" of their calling is the major concern of the following pages.
Thomas Fuller, whose comments on the events of his time are as discerning as they are vivid, noted that the secret of the growing influence of Puritanism in English life was to be found in the marked ability displayed by the Puritan preachers in the pulpit.
What won them most repute was their ministers' painful preaching in populous places; it being observed in England that those who hold the helm of the pulpit always steer people's hearts as they please.12
"Painful" preaching, of course, was good preaching -- painstaking preaching, carefully prepared preaching -- and all parties within the English Church were agreed as to its importance.
The century following Elizabeth's accession was one of the great ages of the pulpit. At a time when there were few, if any, organized social activities and when newspapers had yet to make their appearance as a source of information and diversion, a sermon could be a major event. Nor, in a leisurely age when time was of little consequence, did people object to sermons that on occasion extended well beyond the turning of the hour glass. George Herbert, however, suggested that the wise parson would not exceed "an hour in preaching," since "all ages have thought that a competency, and he that profits not in that time, will less afterwards; the same affection which made him not profit before, making him then weary; and so he grows from not relishing to loathing." 13 While the ordinary preacher had a captive audience -- a shilling fine being levied upon absentees -- and consequently could not take it for granted that he would have the attention of his auditors, a talented preacher could win unusually large congregations that came from far beyond the parish boundaries. One of the most noted of the preachers was Henry Smith -- "commonly called 'the silver-tongued Smith,' being but one metal, in price and purity, beneath St. Chrysostom himself."l4 When Smith preached, reports Fuller, "his church was so crowded with auditors that persons of good quality brought their own pews with them, I mean their legs, to stand upon in the aisles." And "their ears did so attend to his lips, their hearts to their ears, that he held the rudder of their affections in his hands, so that he could steer them whither he pleased." 15
The unanimity of emphasis upon the importance of preaching was striking. Herbert was insistent that his "country parson" should preach constantly -- "the pulpit is his joy and throne." 16 It is true that at the Hampton Court Conference, when Dr. Rainolds urged that every parish should be furnished with a preaching minister, Archbishop Bancroft in a moment of petulance replied that the real need was for a praying ministry, since "preaching had grown to such a fashion that the services of the church were neglected."17 The ensuing discussion, however, made it clear that neither Bancroft nor the King had any thought of disparaging the importance of the sermon. Indeed, the whole thrust of Whitgift's policy, with the active assistance of Bancroft, had been to raise up a preaching ministry in the church, and this endeavor had met with marked success.
The Elizabethan church had inherited the problem of widespread ignorance among the clergy. "Many knew little or no Latin and less Scripture -- indeed, some could barely read the English services of the new Prayer Book.''18 The reason that not many of the clergy were preachers was the simple fact that not too many of them were able to preach. When Whitgift emerged into a position of influence, he immediately took steps to remedy this situation. More precise require- ments for ordination were established, and appointments to parishes providing the most adequate incomes were restricted to licensed preachers or men holding advanced degrees. All nonpreachers were ordered to secure a Bible and a copy of Bullinger's Decades, and each day one chapter of the Bible was to be read and each week one of Bullinger's sermons; periodically they were to be examined by the archdeacons as to the progress they had made. In the interim between examinations by the archdeacons, the licensed preachers were to supervise the studies of the nonpreachers in their vicinity, making quarterly reports concerning their charges to the diocesan authorities.19 In addition to these general measures, some of the bishops experimented with other means of developing a preaching ministry, most notably with "prophesyings" -- patterned after the procedure adopted by Bullinger at Zurich -- as a method of perfecting homiletical skill, but this expedient was ultimately frowned upon by the government and suppressed.
Several factors contributed to the furtherance of Whitgift's efforts to increase the number of preachers, and he achieved considerable success. When he became archbishop, fully two-thirds of the clergy were not university graduates, and the majority of these men had no university training at all. Not one-sixth of the clergy had sufficient training to be licensed as preachers. Fifteen years later, about half the clergy were licensed to preach, and a large number of those who were not had had some university training. "Only a small minority could compare in ignorance with the unlearned clergy of two decades earlier."20 If the ignorant parson at the end of Elizabeth's reign was the subject of more unfavorable comment than he had been at an earlier time, it was partly due to the fact that he had become a less typical figure in the life of the church. Increasingly the normal expectation was that the parson both could and would preach, and if he were not qualified to do so, he was under obligation to see that preaching was provided in his parish at regular intervals.
If there was general agreement as to the importance of preaching, there was an equally strong conviction that it was an art which demanded careful preparation and great skill. "Preaching," Henry Scougal was to declare, "is an exercise that many are ambitious of, and none more than those that are least qualified for it."
It is not so easy a matter to perform this task aright; to stand in the presence of God and to speak in his name, with that plainness and simplicity, that seriousness and gravity, that zeal and concern, which the business requires; to accommodate ourselves to the capacity of the common people without disgusting our more knowing hearers by the insipid flatness of our discourse; to excite and awaken drowsy souls, without terrifying and disturbing more tender consciences; to bear home the convictions of sin, without the appearance of some personal reflection; in a word, to approve ourselves unto God as workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.21
Richard Baxter had used strikingly similar words in affirming that "it is no small matter to stand up in the face of a congregation and deliver a message from the living God."
What skill is necessary to make plain the truth, to convince the hearers; to let in the irresistible light into their consciences, and to keep it there and drive all home; to screw the truth into their minds and work Christ into their affections . . .; and to do all this so for language and manner as beseems our work, and yet as is most suitable to the capacities of our hearers.... so great a God, whose message we deliver, should be honored by our delivery of it.22
Scougal and Baxter were pleading for what, in the parlance of the time, was known as the "plain" style of preaching -- a type of sermonic construction that was designed to reach both the minds and hearts of the people. This was in distinction to the so-called "witty" preaching which sought to impress the congregation by a display of erudition, making extensive use of classical allusions and delighting in literary flourishes. While there were practitioners of "witty" preaching in university circles and while it enjoyed a measure of popularity at court and other centers of fashion, the use of exotic words, obscure phrases, and complex rhetoric in the pulpit had few, if any, defenders. The objection to such preaching was that it served to confuse rather than to enlighten the hearers. They were apt to miss the point. "Painted obscure sermons, like the painted glass in the windows that keeps out light, are too often the marks of painted hypocrites," Baxter observed. "The paint upon the glass may feed the fancy, but the room is not well lighted by it." And when he remarked that for a person to "purposely cloud the matter in strange words . . . is the way to make fools admire his profound wisdom and wise men his folly," he was stating the common sense of the matter which was obvious to everyone.23
The first requirement of the "plain" style of preaching was that it should be intelligible. "If you would not teach men, what do you in the pulpit?" asked Baxter. "If you would, why do you not speak so as to be understood?" And "he that would be understood must speak to the capacity of his hearers and make it his business to be understood." 24 To make "a hard point easy and familiar," to make difficult doctrines as plain as one can, it is necessary to speak the natural and unaffected language of ordinary people and it is necessary to utilize imagery drawn from their own experience. Thus George Herbert notes that his "country parson" condescends even to the knowledge of tillage and pasturage, and makes great use of them in teaching, because people by what they understand are best led to what they understand not."25 It was in the interest of intelligibility also that the use of anecdotes to illustrate doctrine was widely recommended and practiced.
The second requirement of the "plain" style of preaching was that it should touch the heart, awaken the conscience, and win assent. The aim of the preacher was not to shoot "his arrows over the people's heads but into their hearts and consciences." The goal was to persuade each of his hearers to ask the question which the Philippian jailer asked of Paul and Silas: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" But this was no easy task. Scougal was to observe that "the vulgar that commonly sit under the pulpit are commonly as hard and dead as the seats they sit on," and Herbert had noted that they frequently "need a mountain of fire to kindle them." 26 Thus the words of the preacher -- to use Roger Williams' felicitous expression -- had to be "working words" -- words that were convincing, forceful, and direct. They should strike "to the quick" and elicit an emotional response. "Lively and effectual words," they were sometimes called, words that would command attention, dig through to the very heart of man, awaken the deadest conscience, and bring conviction.
If the language was to be simple and direct and the words "lively and effectual," the method must be "plain and clear." The sermons must be carefully prepared, but even if written out in advance, the popular preacher seldom took more than "the heads of the discourse" into the pulpit with him. The sermon had three major divisions. First, the text was explained or "opened" in its context. Then, the text was "divided"; that is, "profitable points of doctrine" were drawn from it. Lastly, the doctrines were "applied" to the lives of the people. This was called the "uses." It was frequently remarked that those who wished to display their learning or who were fearful lest the gospel give offense spent the major portion of their time dividing the text and multiplying doctrines to the neglect of the "uses" wherein "a sermon's excellency doth consist." Those who wished to reach the heart emphasized the applications, and George Herbert was even to suggest that his "country parson" -- in order to avoid the former temptation -- found it both possible and profitable to proceed directly from the "opening" of the text to its application.27
It is obvious that the "plain" style of preaching, which was so widely commended, did not mean a colorless or prosaic style. It was plain because it was designed to be intelligible and moving and pointed. But it was a studied simplicity which was far from dull; and, in addition to its Biblical imagery, it reflected the life of the countryside, the household, the marketplace, and -- especially among the preachers of East Anglia -- the sea.
The Elizabethan legislation which provided for uniformity of ecclesiastical practice by prescribing the use of the Prayer Book gives no hint of the extraordinary confusion which was to continue to prevail in the actual services of the church. The variety of practice is described in a manuscript dated February 14, 1564:
Some say the service and prayers in the chancel; others in the body of the church. Some say the same in a seat made in the church; some in the pulpit with their faces to the people. Some keep precisely the order of the book; others intermeddle Psalms in metre. Some say with a surplice; others without a surplice.
The table standeth in the body of the church in some places; in others it standeth in the chancel....
Some receive kneeling, others standing, others sitting.
Some with a square cap; some with a round cap; some with a button cap; some in scholar's clothes; some in others.28
Nor was variation in practice by minister and people the only source of confusion. Peddlers still sold their wares in churchyards and even at the church door during the time of service. Inside, there was much walking and talking even when prayers were being said. Actual misbehavior, Usher reports, was not uncommon, "especially pushing people off the other end of the bench or knocking their stools out from under them." Moreover, the church buildings were not always properly equipped. Among other deficiencies in the parish church at Elme in 1605, it was noted that "the minister's seat in the church is not a comely and convenient seat, for it is open on both sides or ends so that the dogs run through it and trouble and disturb him in time of prayers and service." Nor was there "a ready or fit passage up into the pulpit there, but one must climb over men's backs when he goes up to preach." 29 This may have been unusual, but the church buildings on the whole were dirty and damp and unwholesome, some lacking adequate roofing and some with no roofing other than straw and rushes.
The disorder of the churches ought not to be unduly magnified, and the fact is that many of these conditions were being remedied. Extensive reconstruction of church buildings, including the laying of floors and the introduction of pews and other more suitable furnishings, was taking place, and a generous use of whitewash obscured the dirt if it did not prevent the seepage of water through the walls and into the foundation. The behavior of the people was not susceptible to prompt reform, but here also there were indications of improvement, most notably where able preaching was beginning to have effect.
The major problem was the necessity for an ordered worship. The authorization of the Prayer Book, the issuance of various sets of Injunctions, and the adoption of the Canons of 1604, all had been aimed at securing uniformity of practice, but progress in this direction was slow. Much of the noncomformity was due to carelessness, to the weakness of ecclesiastical administration, and to a lack of precise knowledge of what was required, but a portion of it reflected a concern on the part of some for an ordered worship of greater theological integrity than the prescribed worship seemed to them to possess. The tension here was not between order and disorder, but between differing conceptions of what the structure of ordered worship ought to be. Richard Baxter was as emphatic as Archbishop Laud in declaring that an essential part of pastoral work was "to guide our people and be as their mouth in the public prayers of the church and the public praises of God," and that this must be done with dignity and in due order.30
The communion service also suffered from the general laxness of practice. "A general fault it is among ourselves," complained Baxter, "that some are so careless in the manner" of their administration of "the holy mysteries or seals of God's covenant," and that "others do reform that with a total neglect." 31 For the most part, communion was celebrated only infrequently and attendance appears to have been disappointingly small. Conditions varied, of course, from parish to parish, but even George Herbert's model parson was not expected to summon his people to the table more than five or six times a year -- at Easter, Christmas, Whitsuntide, before and after harvest, and at the beginning of Lent. The early Puritans did better, some of them achieving the goal of a weekly communion, although in time a monthly celebration became the rule.32
Preaching, conducting public worship, and administering the sacraments constituted only a part of the pastoral office as it was defined in the post-Reformation years. Of equal importance, was the minister's responsibility for pastoral care and oversight.
Catechizing the people -- instructing them in the essentials of the faith -- was a statutory obligation which often became a tiresome task. It "is no small toil," said Scougal, "to tell the same things a thousand times to some dull and ignorant people, who, perhaps, shall know but little when we have done. It is this laborious exercise that does sometimes tempt a minister to envy the condition of those who gain their living by the sweat of their brows, without the toil and distraction of their spirits."33 But, whether tiresome or not, Scougal was not disposed to suggest that catechizing was a task which could safely be neglected, and Baxter had expressed the hope that the time was at hand "when it shall be as great a shame to a minister to neglect the private instructing and oversight of the flock as it hath been to be a seldom preacher." 34
A striking feature of the age was the frank experimentation that was being carried on in an effort to make sure that the ignorant were instructed adequately and effectively. George Herbert reports that his "country parson," who "values catechizing highly," followed the conventional procedure of dealing with the heads of the families privately while utilizing the time before or after the second Sunday service for the public instruction of children, apprentices, and servants.
He exacts of all the doctrine of the catechism; of the younger sort, the very words; of the elder, the substance. Those he catechizeth publicly; these privately, giving age honor, according to the apostle's rule.
His one innovation was to insist that even the heads of the families be present for the public catechizing:
First, for the authority of the work; secondly, that parents and masters . . . may when they come home either commend or reprove, either reward or punish; thirdly, that those of the elder sort who are not well grounded may then by an honorable way take occasion to be better instructed.35
A more frequent innovation was to supplement the catechizing in the church with more informal procedures in the homes. There are numerous instances of the minister's extending the hospitality of his table for this purpose. There are also reports of more formal catechetical exercises held by turns in "the richer men's houses" in the various parts of the parish. Samuel Clarke reports the procedure followed in one parish:
In the morning when they first met, the master of the family began with prayer, then was the question to be conferred of read, and the younger Christians first gave their answers, together with their proofs of Scripture for them; and then the more experienced Christians gathered up the other answers which were omitted by the former; and thus they continued until dinner time, when having good provision made for them by the master of the family, they dined together with much cheerfulness. After dinner, having sung a Psalm, they returned to their conference upon the other questions (which were three in all) till towards evening; at which time, as the master of the family began, so he concluded with prayer, and I gave them three new questions against their next meeting, which being appointed for time and place, everyone repaired to his own home.36
Richard Baxter adopted an even more systematic procedure, and The Reformed Pastor was written primarily to urge his method upon his fellow ministers. Baxter was convinced that "we must use all the means we can to instruct the ignorant in the matters of their salvation," and it was evident to him that personal conferences and examinations were indispensable.
I am daily forced to admire how lamentably ignorant many of our people are that have seemed diligent hearers of me these ten or twelve years, while I spoke as plainly as I was able to speak.... Some that come constantly to private meetings are found grossly ignorant; whereas, in one hour's familiar instruction of them in private, they seem to understand more and better entertain it than they did in all their lives before.
His method was to have each family come to the manse at an appointed time when he could spend an hour questioning and instructing them. Copies of the catechism had been delivered to each home at the beginning of the year and a week in advance the clerk notified the individual family of the questions to be discussed and of the hour at which they were scheduled to appear.
We spend Monday and Tuesday from morning to almost night in the work . . ., taking about fifteen or sixteen families in a week, that we may go through the parish, which hath above eight hundred families, in a year; and I cannot say yet that one family hath refused to come to me, nor but few persons excused themselves and shifted off. And I find more outward signs of success with most that come than of all my public preaching to them.
"I earnestly beseech you . . .," Baxter urged his fellow ministers, "for the sake of your people's souls, that you will not slightly slubber over this work . . ., but make it your great and serious business." It is a task that demands careful preparation, and you must "study how to do it beforehand as you study for your sermons." Nor was it a task that could properly be delegated to an assistant. Baxter confessed that he had been among those who had sought to have parliament "settle catechists in our assemblies," but he was not sorry that the project had not been adopted.
For I perceive that all the life of the work, under God, doth lie in the prudent effectual management of searching men's hearts and setting home the saving truths; and the ablest minister is weak enough for this, and few of inferior place or parts would be found competent.37
Pastoral visitation was a second aspect of the exercise of due pastoral care. This included visiting the sick, "helping them prepare either for a fruitful life or a happy death," but it also had as its objective becoming "acquainted with the state of all our people as fully as we can . . ., for if we know not the temperament or disease, we are likely to prove but unsuccessful physicians." 38 Herbert was convinced, as has been noted, that only by a systematic program of visitation could the pastor come to know his people as they "most naturally . . . are, wallowing in the midst of their affairs," and it was only by such intimate knowledge of their lives as could be gained in this fashion that he would be equipped to reprove and admonish them, and thereby lead them to mend their ways.39
Thus pastoral visitation was regarded in large part as but an adjunct of the exercise of pastoral discipline, and it was regarded as a doubly important adjunct because the proper ordering of family life was a major disciplinary concern. "We must have a special eye upon families," said Baxter, "to see that they be well ordered and the duties of each relation performed," for "if we suffer the neglect of this, we undo all.... You are likely to see no general reformation till you procure family reformation." 40 The problem, declared Scougal, is that "we, perhaps, see them once a week, and bring them to some degree of sobriety and a sound mind; but then their wicked neighbors and the companions of their sin do meet them every day and, by their counsel and example, obliterate any good impression that has been made upon them." Consequently, in the absence of being sustained by a well-ordered family life, we are apt to "lose more in a week than we are able to recover in a whole year." 41
There were frequent complaints concerning laxity in the administration of discipline. Baxter's lament is not untypical.
In all my life, I never lived in the parish where one person was publicly admonished or brought to public penitence or excommunicated, though there were never so many obstinate drunkards, whore-mongers, or vilest offenders. Only I have known now and then one for getting a bastard that went to the bishop's court and paid their fees; and I heard of two or three in all the country in all my life that stood in a white sheet an hour in the church.42
It may be supposed that the occasion for these laments was not so much a question of discipline having decayed as it was a heightened sense of the importance of discipline. One of the problems, to be sure, was that the disciplinary procedures of the church were badly confused, but, as Baxter pointed out, there was sufficient opportunity for the pastor to discharge this responsibility if he so desired. "The great objection that seemeth to hinder some from this work is, because we are not agreed yet who it is that must do it: whether only a prelate, or whether a presbytery or a single pastor or the people." Yet, it is granted by everyone that "a single pastor may expound and apply the word of God," and so it is also evident that "he may rebuke a notorious sinner." This much was acknowledged by all parties. Baxter's urgent plea, therefore, was that the ministers should, "without further delay, unanimously set themselves to the practice of those parts of Christian discipline which are unquestionably necessary and part of their work."43
Actually, there was much more of this private or pastoral type of discipline than Baxter's words might lead us to believe. There were both the private endeavors of the minister to bring the sinner to repentance, requiring "a great deal of skill," 44 and the last resort to public reproof and admonition. Within the particular changing ecclesiastical structures, of course, there was always the possibility of a formal excommunication.
Discipline, as even Baxter agreed, was a pastoral responsibility which must be handled with great caution. Scougal called it "an edged tool," and suggested that "they had need be no fools that meddle with it." It is hard so to manage the business with such "care and prudence" that it "may neither encourage flagitious persons by our remissness nor tempt to irritate others by needless severity." 45 This, however, should not be used by a minister as an excuse for avoiding his duty.
When we have done all that we can by public and general exhortation, we shall effectuate very little without a more particular application to the persons under our charge. Interest and self-love will blind the eyes and stop the ears of men, and make them shift off from themselves those admonitions from the pulpit that are displeasing; and therefore we are commanded not only to teach and exhort, but also to rebuke with all authority.46
Nevertheless, the erring and the wayward should be dealt with patiently. "It is not to be expected that an hasty conference or an abrupt disputation should prevail with those who have been long habituated to false persuasions." The task of the minister, in dealing with disciplinary problems, is "first to study to combat the perverseness of the will, the prejudices of the world, the desire of victory and applause, their . . . unwillingness to yield," and then to "strive to render them meek and pliable and sincerely desirous to knew the truth." 47 Fortunately, much could be done by indirection, by "the due encouragement of those that are humble, upright, obedient Christians." Echoing the counsel of George Herbert, Baxter suggested that, if ministers would, "in the eyes of all the flock, put some difference between them and the rest by our praises and more special familiarity and other testimonies of our approbation and rejoicing over them," they would do much "both to encourage them and incite others to imitate them." 48
When Thomas Fuller described William Perlkins as "an excellent surgeon, . . at the jointing of a broken soul and at stating of a doubtful conscience," 49 he was voicing no small tribute, for pastoral counseling was everywhere regarded as one of the most important as well as the most difficult of all pastoral duties. The age, of course, was one which had intensified personal problems and the changing pattern of society created many new situations in which people felt the need of guidance in making moral decisions. The ministers, in turn, were acutely aware of their responsibility to help those who were beset by perplexity, anxiety, and indecision. "As the lawyer is (a counselor) for their estates and the physician for their bodies," so the minister is the "counselor for their souls," who "must be ready to give advice to those that come to him with cases of conscience." 50 "Of all divinity," Joseph Hall, Bishop of Norwich, declared, "that part is rnost useful which determines cases of conscience." 51
Since it was recognized that "unskillful" counselors were apt to aggravate "griefs and perplexities," the clergy were constantly exhorted "to have a care to qualify themselves" for the task and to keep "some good sound body of casuistical divinity" always at hand.52 Even though many of the more prominent divines -- most notably William Perkins, William Ames, Joseph Hall, Jeremy Taylor, Robert Sanderson, and Richard Baxter -- had busied themselves with the preparation of this type of literature, there was a continual demand for additional manuals or directories which would provide the clergy with guidance in dealing with the "cases of conscience" which they encountered in the course of their ministry.
These manuals follow a common pattern, taking up individual cases and indicating how they are to be resolved, and the directions they offer are remarkably similar in character.53 The greater number of cases discussed deal with moral perplexities -- questions involving family life, economic activity, military service, political issues, the relationship of master and servant, the right use of recreation -- but spiritual perplexities -- involving "the great case which the Jews put to Peter and the jailer to Paul and Silas"54 undoubtedly received equal attention in actual pastoral work. The greater amount of space devoted to the moral perplexities in the manuals is to be explained by the fact that the spiritual perplexities were not susceptible to being divided into as many distinct cases. Of this we may be sure: the moral perplexities were frequently as acute as the spiritual. "For," as George Herbert insisted, "everyone hath not digested when it is a sin to take something for money lent, or when not; when the affections of the soul in desiring and procuring increase of means or honor be a sin of covetousness and ambition, and when not; when the appetites of the body in eating, drinking, sleep, and the pleasure that comes with sleep be sins of gluttony, drunkenness, sloth, lust, and when not; and so in many circumstances of actions."55 To resolve these questions and many more to the ease of one's conscience, a skillful guide was needed.
It was still a third type of "case" which provided the greatest challenge to the pastor. These were those instances of acute anxiety and despair, subsumed under the general category of "melancholy," which were characterized by gloomy brooding, undue desire for solitude, and even the suicidal impulse. Cases of melancholy appear to have been not uncommon, stemming in part, perhaps, from that general sense of the decay of the world which was a familiar feature of the Elizabethan climate of opinion, in part from the sense of rootlessness and estrangement which is characteristic of a transitional society, and aggravated no doubt by the searching, pointed preaching of the time. It was recognized that there were various types of melancholy, produced by diverse causes, and not susceptible to the same treatment. While successful treatment involved the adaptation of remedies to fit the specific malady, certain general directions for dealing with such cases were provided.
It was suggested that the person ought first to be directed to see a physician, because the cause might be a physical indisposition, perhaps nothing more than indigestion. "I have seen abundance cured by physic," said Baxter, "and till the body be cured the mind will hardly ever be cured."56 If the melancholy persists, such persons are to be directed to consult "a skillful prudent minister of Christ . . . that is skilled in such cases," to whom they can confidently reveal their secrets and pour out without reserve the story of their distress.57, They are neither to exaggerate nor to minimize their affliction, but to tell all that help may be given. The minister, in addition to resolving their doubts and praying with them, will choose for them some comforting gospel promises, most suitable to their condition. "A sick man is not usually fit to think of very many things, and therefore two or three comfortable promises" to "roll over and over" in his mind "may be the most profitable matter of his thoughts." 58 The melancholy person is also to be urged to avoid both solitude and inactivity. He is to surround himself with friends and to busy himself in his calling, seeking out opportunities to engage in physical labor and also to help others who are in an even more unfortunate condition. "It is a useful way, if you can, to engage them in comforting others that are deeper in distresses than they, for this will tell them that their case is not singular, and they will speak to themselves when comforting others."59 Finally, "changing air and company and riding abroad" may help, and securing a friend to read aloud "Dr. Sibbes' books, and some useful pleasing history or chronicles or news of great matters abroad in the world, may do somewhat to divert them." 60
What of the role of the counselor in these various situations? Perkins tells us that he must be patient and bear with the "peevishness" and "distempered and disordered affections and actions" of those who come to him. He must identify himself with his consultants, sharing their sorrows and their tears, and he must be a good listener who guards their secrets and, where the conscience is unduly disturbed, is not censorious. Above all, he "must not be dismayed by small results after long effort." 61
A perennial problem was to get some of those who most needed help to come to the minister for counsel. "The minister is seldom sent for," Henry Scougal complained, "till the physician has given the patient over; and then they beg him to dress their souls for heaven, when their winding sheet is preparing and their friends are almost ready to dress the body for the funeral." It is rather difficult, he suggested, to deal with their condition when they are "ready to leave the world and step in upon eternity; when their souls do, as it were, hang upon their lips, and they have one foot, as we used to say, already in the grave." Physicians, when they "undertake the cure of bodily distempers," have an advantage, for "they have the consent of the party; he is ready to comply with their prescriptions."
But our greatest difficulty is in dealing with the wills of men and making them consent to be cured. They hug the disease, and shun the medicines as poison, and have no desire to be well. Hence it is they do all they can to keep us strangers to their souls, and take as much pains to conceal their distempers as they ought to do in revealing them.... It is hard to do anything towards a cure when they will not let us know the disease.62
Thus Scougal was led to stress the importance of preaching to awaken contrition and to force people to acknowledge that they are proud, passionate, vengeful, covetous, and uncharitable, and thereby be led to inquire how these vices and distempers may be subdued.
Scougal was speaking to fledgling ministers and he overstated the situation for purposes of emphasis. Actually there were many who did come, and there were others who were held back only by reticence. These people, Baxter suggested, were "unacquainted with this office of the ministry and their own necessity and duty therein," and "it belongeth to us to acquaint them herewith, and to press them publicly to come to us for advice." 63 To encourage them, Baxter established in his home on Thursday evenings what today we might call a clinic for group therapy. Here people gathered to lay bare to one another their own "cases of conscience" and to seek their resolution. This served as a door to further consultation, for Baxter frankly informed them that they must have recourse to ministers "for the resolution of your weighty doubts, in private."
Make use of their help in private and not in public only. As the use of a physician is not only to read a lecture of physic to his patients but to be ready to direct every person according to their particular case . . ., so here it is not the least of the pastoral work to oversee the individuals and to give them personally such particular advice as their case requireth.64
John Dod's method was to use the church itself as a place for pastoral counseling that he might be easily accessible and "have room to walk in." There the perplexed would find him.
If he thought them bashful, he would meet them and say, "Would you speak with me?" And when he found them unable to state their question, he would help them out with it, taking care to find the sore, but would answer and deal so compassionately and tenderly as not to discourage the poorest soul from coming again to him.65
These were the major facets of the minister's pastoral duty -- catechizing, visiting, disciplining, and counseling the members of his flock. As Richard Baxter remarked, it is evident that the pastoral office was much more than "those men have taken it to be, who think it consisteth in preaching and administering sacraments only." 66
While the parish minister, with his broad responsibilities for preaching and pastoral care, was the typical clerical figure, there were other more specialized ministries. There is some question whether or not the parish clerk who set the Psalm and performed other incidental duties, including augmenting his income by the sale of "clerk ales," can properly be regarded as a cleric. The "reader," an office which was briefly and not altogether successfully revived, was an inferior kind of curate who was initially utilized to supplement the inadequate supply of properly beneficed clergy and was later employed in some parishes to read the service so that the preacher could conserve his energies for the sermon. The household or domestic chaplain, on the other hand, had a more definite clerical status and theoretically had the same duties and obligations to the household to which he was attached as a parson to his parish,67 But more often his major responsibility was serving as tutor to the children of the family. He was often a young man who had taken his degree at the university, but had not as yet been able to secure a parish appointment. Other men frequently found in a chaplaincy a welcome means of escape from the necessity of conforming to the prescribed worship.
In addition to these offices, the parish clergy themselves often displayed diverse talents and developed a specialized ministry of their own. Jeremy Taylor, for example, remarked that the art of counseling "is not every man's trade," and he insisted that "it requires more wisdom and ability to take care of souls than those men, who now-a-days run under the formidable burden of the preacher's office, can bring from the places of their education and first employment." Consequently, there are many "who do what they ought not, and undertake what they cannot perform, and . . . do more hurt to themselves and others than possibly they imagine." 68 Fortunately, the reverse was equally true, and those who did display marked ability in dealing with troubled consciences soon gained a reputation and began to minister to people who lived far beyond their parish. Of a vicar of Newcastle, it is reported that "his known abilities in resolving cases of conscience drew after him a great many good people, not only of his own flock but from remoter distances, who resorted to him as to a common oracle, and commonly went away from him entirely satisfied in his wise and judicious resolutions." 69 Individuals, at the suggestion of their own pastors, frequently traveled great distances to consult the more famous casuists, such as Richard Greenham, John Dod, John Downame, and William Gouge.
An equally obvious specialization was that of preaching, and in connection with preaching a definite office or position developed. This was the lectureship which was usually established in connection with a parish church. The congregation as a whole, or some member or members of it, would undertake to provide the necessary support for a lectureship and would proceed on their own to select the lecturer. The duty of a lecturer was to "lecture" on the Bible -- that is, preach -- at times other than those set aside for the regular services.
One great advantage of a lectureship was that it allowed men whose consciences were troubled by portions of the Prayer Book to escape the requirement that the prescribed services be read, for the ordinary worship was conducted by the parson and not by the lecturer. There was also a corresponding advantage to the cause which the lecturers had embraced, for dependence upon voluntary support compelled the lecturers to put into plain English for plain people the message of redemption. "If they wished to survive, [they] had to find means to stir imaginations, induce emotional excitement, wring the hearts of sinners, win souls to the Lord, in other words, make themselves heard and felt."70 So marked was the utility of these preaching posts that a permanently endowed foundation was set up for the planting of preachers at key points throughout the kingdom.
In essence, the lecturers constituted an order of preachers not unlike the older preaching orders of friars, and they presented a similar problem to those in authority. The objective of those establishing lectureships, William Laud complained, was "to make those ministers they preferred independent of the bishops and dependent wholly on them," while John Selden commented that the "lecturers do in a parish church what the friars did heretofore, get away not only the affections but the bounty that should be bestowed upon the minister." 71 In the end, Laud did succeed in dissolving the endowed lectureship foundation, and in 1629 it was ordered that all lecturers should read the service before their lecture and should not be allowed to preach unless they professed their willingness to accept a parish appointment as soon as it could be procured for them. But lectures were not easily suppressed, and they continued to be a prominent feature of church life.
The other clerical offices were mostly those associated with the episcopal staff. The fact that a time had arrived when at least one man was to "prefer a popular lectureship even to a bishopric" 72 was quite as much a commentary on the decline of the episcopal office in public esteem at is was an indication of the prestige and influence associated with an important preaching post. The reason for the diminished episcopal prestige is not difficult to ascertain. The bishops, while retaining many of their responsibilities, had been stripped of most of their powers by the Elizabethan settlement, and what was true of the bishops was equally true of the other members of the diocesan staff. As early as 1558, Thomas Sampson had written to Peter Martyr, saying that he did not believe he should accept a bishopric "because, through want of church discipline, the bishop . . . is unable properly to discharge his office." 73
R. G. Usher has pointed out that the bishops did not possess the right to appoint the men they were expected to govern, the prerogative of determining what sort of men they should be, or the power to discipline them once they had been inducted.74 The decision as to qualifications for ordination had been taken from the bishops by the State, while the right of nomination to a parish post, after ordination, was largely controlled by lay patrons, and the bishops were forced to induct the nominee if he met the most meager requirements. About the only test of the fitness of the man to be inducted that the bishop was permitted to impose was political. He was directed to admit men who would take the oath of supremacy and agree to read the service book, and he was instructed not to make too close an inquiry at other points. Once installed in his parish, the minister was subject to very little control by the bishop, and could usually make a successful defense in the common law courts if the bishop attempted to deprive him of his "living." The bishop, to be sure, did possess the power of visitation, but this was a cumbersome procedure and was actually no more than an inquiry into the conditions which prevailed in the parish. There was no means by which compliance with ecclesiastical regulations could be enforced, and the bishop was dependent almost wholly upon voluntary obedience for the correction of any irregularities which a visitation might disclose. To put the matter succinctly, it may be said that in practice, whatever his principles, the Elizabethan parson was an Independent, and that the Elizabethan situation was later to be roughly approximated under the voluntary national establishment of the Commonwealth.
The situation did begin to change under Archbishop Whitgift, and markedly so under Archbishop Bancroft, but it was not due to any new increment of episcopal power. The new disciplinary authority was secured by making use of the nonecclesiastical powers of the Court of High Commission, an arm of the Privy Council, representing the residual powers of the crown to deal with extraordinary situations. Even with the growing stringency resulting from this intervention by the state, the individual parson was still able to maintain a considerable degree of independence. George Herbert commented that his model parson "carries himself very respectfully, as to all the fathers of the church, so especially to his diocesan, honoring him both in word and behavior, and resorting unto him in any difficulty, either in his studies or in his parish," 75 but there is no way of knowing how typical he was in this respect. On the whole, the attempt to exercise supervisory responsibilities remained a frustrating experience for the bishops and the members of their staff.
There was little disposition on the part of anyone prior to the middle of the seventeenth century to minimize the importance of education as a qualification for the ministerial office. Indeed, the emphasis was in quite the contrary direction, for there was a strong insistence upon the necessity for a learned ministry. The person who would teach the mysteries of God, Richard Baxter was to declare, "must not be himself a babe in knowledge," and he must take heed that he "be not unfit for the great employments" which he would undertake.
What qualifications are necessary for that man that hath such a charge upon him as we have! How many difficulties in divinity to be opened!. . . How randy obscure texts of Scripture to be expounded! How many duties to be done, wherein ourselves and others may miscarry, if in the matter . . . they be not well informed! . . . How many weighty and yet intricate cases of conscience have we almost daily to resolve! Can so much work and such work as this be done by raw, unqualified men?76
Thus, as Henry Scougal was to explain, it was necessary for a minister to spend "his time and much of his fortune in the schools of the prophets to fit himself" for his calling.77
The universities had always been regarded as the seedbed of the clergy and, as the sixteenth century moved to its close, it became increasingly the normal expectation that a minister should possess a university degree. Indicative of the concern for a more adequate supply of properly educated clergy was the founding of two new colleges specifically for the training of ministers as well as the establishment of newly endowed scholarships and lectureships with a similar purpose in mind at the older colleges. Basically, it was the old medieval program of instruction to which they were subjected. Rhetoric, logic, metaphysics, Latin, and some Greek were the major disciplines to be mastered for the bachelor of arts degree; and in the study of these disciplines, even in colleges dominated by Puritan influence, Aristotle, Cicero, Ovid, Demosthenes, and Homer occupied a conspicuous place. Lectures in Biblical theology had been introduced into the universities early in the sixteenth century, but the study of theology was officially restricted to those who were pursuing advanced degrees. The deficiencies of the formal course of study, so far as preparation for the ministry was concerned, were partially remedied by the tutors who directed their scholars into wider fields of reading, especially of the Bible and theological treatises. It became customary for the student to compile from his reading "a body of divinity," which would serve as "the storehouse of his sermons" and from which he would preach and teach "all his life." 78 In addition, he was constantly exposed to able preaching and was usually directed by his tutor to model his own pulpit discourse after the pattern provided by these exemplars of the homiletical art.
The greatest deficiency in the program of study was generally held to be the failure to provide instruction in the field of pastoral counseling, and it was not until late in the seventeenth century that professorships of moral theology or casuistry began to be established to meet this need. Even before the beginning of the seventeenth century, however, this deficiency was being remedied in two different ways. One method was to provide ministers with manuals or directories which they might keep close at hand for guidance in resolving the cases of conscience which were brought to them. The other method was for older ministers who were especially skilled in the art of counseling and who were keenly aware of its importance to establish a kind of post graduate seminar in their homes for the instruction of young men in this area of pastoral care prior to the beginning of their ministry. Thus Richard Greenham opened his home at Dry Drayton to recent graduates of the university "that thereby he might train up some younger men to this end and communicate his experience to them." 79 This practice seems to have been fairly extensive during the first half of the seventeenth century, and it appears that the tutors developed working arrangements with particular ministers to whom they directed their students.
The ideal of an educated ministry did not come into question in any serious way prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, and even then the "mechanick preachers" did not find too many defenders. The opposition to an insistence upon the necessity for an educated ministry was the product of several factors. In part, it stemmed from a rising lay spirit in the church.80 For almost a century, the constitution of the church as well as the exigencies of politics had conspired to thrust the laity forward into positions of leadership in religious affairs. Furthermore, the laity had been constantly reminded of their priestly role and had been urged to read the Bible for themselves rather than meekly to accept the word of their preachers. If the simplest man was able to apprehend for himself all that was necessary to salvation, the question might properly arise, what need was there for that teaching which could be found only in the schools?
Another current which led in this direction was the insistence upon the necessity for a converted ministry. George Herbert had suggested that the aim and labor of students preparing for the ministry must be not only to get knowledge
but to subdue and mortify all lusts and affections, and not to think that, when they have read the fathers or schoolmen, a minister is made and the thing is done. The greatest and hardest preparation is within.81
In similar vein, William Perkins declared: "He must first be godly affected himself who would stir up godly affections in other men." 82 From the insistence that the minister must be godly, it was but a short step to an insistence that godliness is more important than intellectual competence; and from this some drew the illogical conclusion that education was not necessary.
Still another tendency which led in an anti-intellectual direction had its ultimate roots in the doctrine that every vocation is a divine "calling." Thus John Milton said that it is "the inward calling of God that makes a minister."83 Milton went on to insist that "the ministerial gifts" need to be "manured" and improved by "painful study," but there were others who were to suggest that the inward call itself was sufficient. To those who insisted that knowledge of Greek and Hebrew were indispensable for the interpretation of Scripture, John Goodwin and Samuel Richardson could reply that this might be granted if the original copies of Scripture were extant, but since they were not and since the existing texts could not be certified as free from the errors of the copyists, the scholars were as dependent as the ordinary man upon the gift of the Spirit for the proper interpretation of the Biblical text. Finally, an appeal could always be made to the eminent gifts of a John Bunyan as justification for not insisting unduly that education was indispensable in the ministry.
Basically, however, it was the religious excitement of the Civil War period coupled with the collapse of the established religious structure that thrust forward for a brief time the "mechanick preacher" as a conspicuous figure in English religious life. If this lay preacher tradition was perpetuated to a degree in the dissenting churches, it was partly the consequence of the exclusion of the dissenters from the universities. This much is evident: as soon as a measure of freedom was recovered by the dissenting churches, they busied themselves with the founding of academies which were to play a not insignificant role in the training of ministers for the established church as well as for their own churches.
The lay preacher, then, was a minor figure who was not to come into his own in any significant fashion until the evangelical revivals of the eighteenth century. On the whole, throughout the period we have been considering, it was recognized that while "religion is every man's general calling," "it hath pleased the divine wisdom to call forth a select number of men who, being delivered from those entanglements [of worldly affairs] and having their minds more highly purified and more peculiarly fitted for the offices of religion, may attend continually on that very thing." 84 The task these ministers set before themselves, as they readily admitted, was far beyond their own competency to perform and it demanded not only the most earnest efforts to improve their gifts and the most rigorous budgeting of their time but a constant dependence upon God for success. A consistent feature of all the manuals dealing with the ministerial function was the recurrent reminder that the minister must never forget his high calling, and must never "study the gentleman so much" that he "forgets the clergyman."85
FOR FURTHER READING
Richard Baxter, Gildas Salvianus: The Reformed Pastor, 2nd ed. by John T. Williams (Chicago, 1950).
George Herbert, The Country Parson.
William Haller, The Rise of Puritanism (New York, 1938).
-- -- -- , Liberty and Reformation in the Puritan Revolution (New York, 1955).
James Maclear, "The Making of the Lay Tradition," Journal of Religion, XX-III, No. 2, 1953.
J. T. McNeill, "Casuistry in the Puritan Age," Religion in Life, 1943, XII.
Norman Sykes, Old Priest and New Presbyter (Cambridge, 1956).
1H. H. Henson, The Church of England (London, 1939), 149.
2William Haller, Liberty and Reformation in the Puritan Revolution (New York, 1955), xi.
3George Herbert, The Country Parson, chaps. 21, 35; reprinted in The Preacher and Pastor, E. A. Park, ed. (New York, 1849), 193, 218.
5Ibid., chap. 8, 175.
6Ibid., chap. 14, 185
7Ibid., chap. 11, 182.
8M. M. Knappen, Tudor Puritanism (Chicago, 1939), 469.
10Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor (New York, 1860), 109.
11Henry Scougal, "The Importance and Difficulty of the Ministerial Function," reprinted in Works (New York, 1846), 206-7.
12Thomas Fuller, The Church History of Britain, III (London, 1868), Bk. ix, sec. vii, 21-23.
13Herbert, op. cit., chap. 7, 174. Cartwright also suggested that preachers should "always endeavor to keep themselves within one hour." Horton Davies, The Worship of the English Puritans (London, 1948), 193. This seems to have been the general consensus of opinion.
14Fuller, op. cit., III, Bk. ix, sec. v, 3-4.
15William Haller, The Rise of Puritanism New York, 1938), 30.
16Herbert, op. cit., chap. 7, 172.
17William Addison, The English Country Parson (London, 1947), 47.
18P. M. Dawley, John Whitgift and the English Reformation (New York, 1954), 198.
21Scougal, op. cit., 210.
22Richard Baxter, op cit., 75, 128.
24Ibid., 169, 170.
25Herbert, op. cit., chap. 4, 168.
26Ibid., chap. 7, 172. Scougal, op. cit., 218.
27Haller, Rise of Puritanism, 134-35; Herbert, op. cit., chap. 7, 172-74.
28S. C Carpenter, The Church in England, (London, 1954), 330. As late as 1581, Aylmer declared that in the more than three hundred and fifty parishes in Essex, there were not more than seven where the service was performed in the same way. R. G. Usher, The Reconstruction of the English Church (New York, 1910), I, 212.
29Ibid., 217, 218.
30Baxter, op. cit., 130.
32Horton Davies, op. cit., 43.
33Scougal, op. cit., 209-10.
34Baxter, op. cit., 30.
35Herbert, op. cit., chap. 21, 192-93.
36Haller, Rise of Puritanism, 63.
37Baxter, op. cit., 22, 23, 27, 32, 131.
38Ibid., 131, 138.
39Herbert, op. cit., chap. 14, 185 f.
40Baxter, op. cit., 133-36.
41Scougal, op. cit., 208 f.
42Baxter, op. cit., 200.
43Ibid., 34, 41.
45Scougal, op. cit., 210.
46Ibid., 218 f.
48Baxter, op. cit., 136.
49Haller, Rise of Puritanism, 92.
50Baxter, op. cit., 131.
51J T McNeill, "Casuistry in the Puritan Age," Religion in Life, XII
52Richard Baxter, Works, IV (London, 1845-47),926- J. H. Overton, Life in the English Church, 1660-1714 (London, 1885),332 f.
53This is emphasized by McNeill: "It is not, I think, justifiable to attempt a clear separation . . . between Anglican and Puritan strains. To a large degree each writer uses his own judgrnent, and where the particular opinions of predecessors are evaluated there is little or no evidence of party alignment." Op. cit., 83
54Baxter, Reformed Pastor, 131.
55Herbert, op. cit., chap. 5, 170.
56Baxter, Works, I, 267; IV, 934.
57Ibid., I, 781; IV, 933.
58lbid., I, 528.
59Ibid., I, 267, 376; IV, 934.
60Ibid., IV, 933..
61McNeill, op. cit., 84.
62Scougal, op. cit., 209, 211.
63Baxter, Reformed Pastor, 132.
64Baxter, Works, I, 583, 589.
65Haller, Rise of Puritanism, 58.
66Baxter, Reformed Pastor, 162 f.
67Herbert, op. cit., chap. 2, 166.
68Jeremy Taylor, Works IX (London, 1855), xxiii.
69Overton, op. cit.,333
70Haller, Rise of Puritanism, 23.
71Ibid., 81; Carpenter, op. cit., 395.
72Haller, Rise of Puritanism, 40, 74.
73Usher, op. cit., I, 91.
75Herbert, op. cit., chap. 19, 190.
76Baxter, Reformed Pastor, 72 f.
77Scougal, op. cit., 214.
78Herbert, op. cit., chap. 5, 169.
79Haller, Rise of Puritanism, 28; Knappen, op. cit., 386.
80J. F. Maclear, "The Making of the Lay Tradition", Journal of Religion, XXXIII (1953), 113-36.
81Herbert, op. cit., chap. 2, 166.
82Haller, Rise of Puritanism, 116.
84Scougal, op. cit., 201.
Viewed 171480 times.