formal leaders within established religions
(Redirected from Clergyman)

Clergy is the generic term used to describe the priesthood of the Christian religion.


  • A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous...Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
  • ARCHBISHOP, n. An ecclesiastical dignitary one point holier than a bishop.
    • Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
  • CLERGYMAN, n. A man who undertakes the management of our spiritual affairs as a method of bettering his temporal ones.
    • Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
  • [The priesthood] truly plays the role of 'mediator' between heaven and earth, and it is not without reason that in the Western traditions the priesthood in all its plenitude received the symbolic name of 'pontificate', for, as Saint Bernard says, 'the Pontiff, as indicated by the etymology of his name, is a kind of bridge [pont] between God and man.' If one then wished to go back to the primal origin of the priestly and royal powers, one must look to the 'celestial world'.
    • René Guénon, Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power (1929), p. 35
  • It is worth noting that Protestantism suppresses the clergy, and though it claims to uphold the authority of the Bible, it in fact ruins it by 'free inquiry'.
    • Ibidem, p. 62
  • Minister doth not always import an inferior to him to whom he doth minister: for the Psalm saith, God hath made man paulo inferiorem Angelis; and yet in the first chapter to the Hebrews it is said, that the Angels are ministering spirits, sent forth for the good of God's saints.
    • Sir Henry Hobart, 1st Baronet, C.J., Pits v. James (1614), Lord Hobart's Rep. 124; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 29.
  • Though all good men be called God's servants in their general vocation, yet they cannot be called the minister of God but to a more special use.
    • Sir Henry Hobart, 1st Baronet, C.J., Pits v. James (1614), Lord Hobart's Rep. 125; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 29.
  • A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism.
  • As the French say, there are three sexes – men, women, and clergymen.
    • Sydney Smith, quoted in Lady Holland A Memoir of the Rev. Sydney Smith (London: Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer, [1854] 1869) p. 174.
  • Bible's the greatest book ever written. But I sure don't need anybody I can buy for six bits and a chew of tobacco to explain it to me. When I need preachers I buy 'em cheap.
  • I never saw, heard, nor read, that the clergy were beloved in any nation where Christianity was the religion of the country. Nothing can render them popular but some degree of persecution.
    • Jonathan Swift Thoughts on Religion (1765); cited from Jonathan Swift (ed. William Alfred Eddy) Satires and Personal Writings (London: Oxford University Press, 1932) p. 419.
  • Manye chapeleyns arn chaste, ac charite is aweye;
    Are none hardere than hii whan hii ben avaunced:
    Unkynde to hire kyn and to alle Cristene,
    Chewen hire charite and chiden after moore –
    Swich chastite withouten charite worth cheyned in helle.
    • Many chaplains are chaste, but lack all charity. There are no men more greedy, once they get preferment. Ungrateful to their own relations and to all their fellow-Christians, they swallow up everything they are given, and cry out for more. Such a loveless virtue as this shall be fettered in hell.
    • William Langland, Piers Plowman, B-text, Passus 1, line 190; Jonathan Francis Goodridge (trans.) Piers the Ploughman (Harmondsworth: Penguin, [1959] 1966) p. 37.
  • Non est jam dicere, "Ut populus, sic sacerdos"; quia nec si populus, ut sacerdos.
    • One cannot now say, the priest is as the people, for the truth is that the people are not so bad as the priest.
    • St. Bernard of Clairvaux In Conversione S. Pauli, Sermon 1, sect. 3; translation by James Spedding, The Works of Francis Bacon (1860) vol. 12, p. 134.
    • Ut populus, sic sacerdos is a quotation from Isaiah 24:2.
  • There are dons who care for the intellect and the imagination, and there are priests who care for the spirit; but broadly speaking the function of universities and churches alike is to trim and tame enthusiasm, to suppress curiosity, and, in short, to whittle immortal souls into serviceable props of the established order.
    • Hugh Kingsmill The Progress of a Biographer (London: Methuen, 1949) p. 2.
  • They seem to know no medium between a mitre and a crown of martyrdom. If the clergy are not called to the latter, they never deviate from the pursuit of the former. One would think their motto was, Canterbury or Smithfield.
  • The clergy, they come in,
    And say it is a sin,
    That we should now begin
    Our freedom for to win.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)


Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • Our high mission, our noble calling, is to build up souls, to perfect the Christian life, and to make manhood acceptable to God, and radiant in the sight of all men.
  • There are passages of the Bible that are soiled forever by the touches of the hands of ministers who delight in the cheap jokes they have left behind them.
  • I find on inquiring among successful pastors, successful in the sense of winning men to Christ in profession, that they depend largely on personal contact.
  • We are to be neither book-worms nor male gossips, but Christian gentlemen, with a side towards mental culture, and a side to practical life. We are to learn how to talk to the people by being with the people, and we are to learn how to raise them up by raising ourselves. We are never to forget that ministry is service, not mastery. "Ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake."
  • The minister is to be a live man, a real man, a true man, a simple man, great in his love, great in his life, great in his work, great in his simplicity, great in his gentleness.
  • The minister, who would be most like the Master, must go and, like Him, lay the warm, kindly hand on the leper, the diseased, the wretched. He must touch the blind eyes with something from himself. The tears must be in his own eyes over the dead who are to be raised to spiritual life. Jesus is our great exemplar.
  • That pastor effects the most in the end who comes into closest personal contact with his charge. No amount of organizing, no skill in creating machinery and manipulating "committees" is a substitute for this. Who feels the power of a tear in the eye of a committee?
  • As preachers we are to promote Christian culture, by bringing the dead branches to the living Vine, that, grafted into it, without a rag of human righteousness between, the life of Him may enter them; and by keeping them, as far as teaching and example can do it, abiding in Him, that they may bring forth fruit.
  • I do not envy a clergyman's life as an easy life, nor do I envy the clergyman who makes it an easy life.
  • Your great employment is to bring the individual souls of men to Christ.
  • Learn in Christ how possible it is to be strong and mild, to blend in fullest harmony the perfection of all that is noble, lofty, generous in the soldier's ardor of heroic devotion; and of all that is calm, still, compassionate, tender in the priest's waiting before God and mediation among men.
  • It is not the way to convert a sinner to knock him down first and then reason with him.
  • One great want of the times is a commanding ministry — a ministry of a piety at once sober and earnest, and of mightiest moral power. Give us these men, " full of faith and of the Holy Ghost," who will proclaim old truths with new energy, not cumbering them with massive drapery nor hiding them beneath piles of rubbish. Give us these men! men of sound speech, who will preach the truth as it is in Jesus, not with faltering tongue and averted eye, as if the mind blushed at its own credulity — not distilling into it an essence so subtle and so speedily decomposed that a chemical analysis alone can detect the faint odor which tells it has been there — but who will preach it apostlewise, that is, "first of all," at once a principle shrined in the heart and a motive mighty in the life — the source of all morals, and the inspiration of all charity — the sanctifier of every relationship, and the sweetener of every toil. Give us these men! men of zeal untiring — whose hearts of constancy quail not although dull men sneer, and proud men scorn, and timid men blush, and cautious men deprecate, and wicked men revile.
  • What is ministerial success? Crowded churches, full aisles, attentive congregations, the approval of the religious world, much impression produced? Elijah thought so; and when he discovered his mistake, and found out that the Carmel applause subsided into hideous stillness, his heart well-nigh broke with disappointment. Ministerial success lies in altered lives, and obedient, humble hearts, unseen worth recognized in the judgment-day.
  • This is the ministry and its work — not to drill hearts and minds and consciences into right forms of thought and mental postures, but to guide to the living God who speaks.
  • "He commanded that something should be given her to eat." Has any body's daughter or any body's son been raised from spiritual death in your congregation, or in your class recently? If so, give the revived soul something to eat.
  • He that would speak Divine things in a language which living men of to-day can comprehend, must keep up with the researches and discoveries of men who study nature, and put her words into the speech of the present.
  • Of course clergymen and other paid teachers and moralists admonished us to be upright and unselfish, and for people with good incomes it was easy to condemn those living on the edge of poverty as inferior, impractical, shiftless, and lacking respect for the social code. It was easy to shout thief at the other fellow when you had no temptation to steal-I mean steal in a petty way. But stealing in a big way was often accepted as good business judgment.

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