S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
The essential point in the notion of a priest is this; that he is a person made necessary to our intercourse with God, without being necessary or beneficial to us morally,an unreasonable, unmoral, unspiritual necessity.
Supposing, however, that something like moderation were visible in this political sermon, yet politics and the pulpit are terms that have little agreement. No sound ought to be heard in the church but the healing voice of Christian charity. The cause of civil liberty and civil government gains as little as that of religion by this confusion of duties. Those who quit their proper character to assume what does not belong to them are, for the greater part, ignorant both of the character they leave and of the character they assume. Wholly unacquainted with the world, in which they are so fond of meddling, and inexperienced in all its affairs, on which they pronounce with so much confidence, they have nothing of politics but the passions they excite. Surely the church is a place where one days truce ought to be allowed to the dissensions and animosities of mankind.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.
From the indisposition of mankind to direct their thoughts to a futurity; from their proneness to immerse themselves in present and sensible objects, and the ignorance which follows of course, it has been thought necessary to set apart a particular order of men to inculcate its truths and to exemplify its duties.
Recollect for your encouragement the reward that awaits the faithful minister. Such is the mysterious condescension of divine grace, that though it reserves to itself the exclusive honour of being the fountain of all, yet, by the employment of human agency in the completion of its designs, it contrives to multiply its gifts, and to lay a foundation for eternal rewards. When the church, in the perfection of beauty, shall be presented to Christ as a bride adorned for her husband, the faithful pastor will appear as the friend of the bridegroom, who greatly rejoices because of the bridegrooms voice. His joy will be the joy of his Lord,inferior in degree, but of the same nature, and arising from the same sources: while he will have the peculiar happiness of reflecting that he has contributed to it; contributed, as an humble instrument, to that glory and felicity of which he will be conscious he is utterly unworthy to partake. To have been himself the object of mercy, to have been the means of imparting it to others, and of dispensing the unsearchable riches of Christ, will produce a pleasure which can never be adequately felt or understood until we see him as he is.
Robert Hall: Discouragements and Supports of the Christian Minister.
Ministers of the gospel in this quarter of the globe resemble the commanders of an army stationed in a conquered country, whose inhabitants, overawed and subdued, yield a partial obedience: they have sufficient employment in attempting to conciliate the affections of the natives, and in carrying into execution the orders and regulations of their Prince; since there is much latent disaffection, though no open rebellion, a strong partiality to their former rulers, with few attempts to erect the standard of revolt.
We hold that Gods clergy are a state which hath been, and will be as long as there is a church upon earth, necessary, by the plain word of God himself: a state whereunto the rest of Gods people must be subject as touching things that appertain to their souls health.
It cannot enter any mans conceit to think it lawful that every man which listeth should take upon him charge in the church; and therefore a solemn admittance is of such necessity that without it there can be no church polity.
Bishops are now unfit to govern, because of their learning. They are bred up in another law; they run to the text for something done among the Jews that concerns not England. Tis just as if a man would have a kettle and he would not go to our braziers to have it made as they would kettles, but he would have it made as Hiram made his brass-work who wrought in Solomons Temple.
God is the fountain of honour, and the conduit by which he conveys it to the sons of men are virtues and generous practices. Some, indeed, may please and promise themselves high matters from full revenues, stately palaces, court interests, and great dependences. But that which makes the clergy glorious, is to be knowing in their profession, unspotted in their lives, active and laborious in their charges, bold and resolute in opposing seducers, and daring to look vice in the face, though never so potent and illustrious; and, lastly, to be gentle, courteous, and compassionate to all. These are our robes and our maces, our escutcheons and highest titles of honour.
A divine dares hardly show his person among the gentlemen; or, if he fall into such company, he is in continual apprehension that some pert man of pleasure should break an unmannerly jest, and render him ridiculous.
The clergys business lies among the laity; nor is there a more effectual way to forward the salvation of mens souls than for spiritual persons to make themselves as agreeable as they can in the conversations of the world.
He [Bishop Atterbury] never attempts your passions until he has convinced your reason. All the objections which he can form are laid open and dispersed before he uses the least vehemence in his sermon; but when he thinks be has your head, he very soon wins your heart; and never pretends to show the beauty of holiness until he hath convinced you of the truth of it.
Would every one of our clergymen be thus careful to recommend truth and virtue in their proper figures, and show so much concern for them as to give them all the additional force they were able, it is not possible that nonsense should have so many hearers as you find it has in dissenting congregations, for no reason in the world but because it is spoken extempore: for ordinary minds are wholly governed by their eyes and ears, and there is no way to come at their hearts but by power over their imaginations.
Jonathan Swift and Richard Steele: Tatler, No. 66.
The truth is, mankind have an innate propensity, as to other errors, so, to that of endeavouring to serve God by proxy;to commit to some distinct Order of men the care of their religious concerns, in the same manner as they confide the care of their bodily health to the physician, and of their legal transactions to the lawyer; deeming it sufficient to follow implicitly their directions, without attempting themselves to become acquainted with the mysteries of medicine or of law. For man, except when unusually depraved, retains enough of the image of his Maker to have a natural reverence for religion, and a desire that God should be worshipped; but, through the corruption of his nature, his heart is (except when divinely purified) too much alienated from God to take delight in serving Him. Hence the disposition men have ever shown to substitute the devotion of the priest for their own; to leave the duties of piety in his hands, and to let him serve God in their stead. This disposition is not so much the consequence, as itself the origin, of priestcraft.