George Herbert on different kinds of pastors

Herbert continues in chapter 2 of his book The Country Parson to outline the various types of pastor. He doesn’t want to get into talking about bishops (something peculiar to the Reformed Church of England, not shared by many other Reformed churches on the Continent). But he does want to address both university and private chaplaincy, before moving onto ordinary parochial ministry.

University chaplains must teach diligently, but also live the Christian life of mortification and sanctification: their job is not done merely by being experts in theology or church history. Indeed, they ought not to teach God’s ways at all, if they are not themselves godly.

Likewise, those who serve as chaplains to some noble family in a great house must not sink below their ordained dignity, but remember who their true master is. If they pass over lightly what ought to be rebuked, they show that they are only in ministry for the pay and position. By kow-towing to the great ones of this world, they hope to gain a hearing and a place at the table; but actually all they gain is contempt if they refuse to speak for their heavenly Master to their earthly one.

CHAPTER 2
Their Diversities

Of Pastors (intending mine own nation only, and also therein setting aside the Reverend Prelates of the Church, to whom this discourse arises not) some live in the Universities, some in Noble houses, some in Parishes residing on their Cures. Of those that live in the Universities, some live there in office, whose rule is that of the Apostle,“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal” (Romans 12:6-8). Some in a preparatory way, whose aim and labour 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 done. The greatest and hardest preparation is within: For, “But to the wicked God says: ‘What right have you to recite my statutes, or take my covenant on your lips?’” (Psalm 50:16).

Those that live in noble houses are called Chaplains, whose duty and obligation being the same to the houses they live in, as a Parson’s to his parish, in describing the one (which is indeed the bent of my discourse) the other will be manifest. Let not Chaplains think themselves so free, as many of them do, and because they have different names, think their office different. Doubtless they are Parsons of the families they live in, and are entertained to that end, either by an open, or implicit covenant. Before they are in Orders, they may be received for companions, or discoursers; but after a man is once Minister, he cannot agree to come into any house, where he shall not exercise what he is, unless he forsake his plough, and look back.

Wherefore they are not to be over-submissive, and base, but to keep up with the Lord and Lady of the house, and to preserve a boldness with them and all, even so far as reproof to their very face, when occasion calls, but seasonably and discreetly. They who do not thus, while they remember their earthly Lord, do much forget their heavenly; they wrong the Priesthood, neglect their duty, and shall be so far from that which they seek with their over-submissiveness, and cringings, that they shall ever be despised. They who for the hope of promotion neglect any necessary admonition, or reproof, sell (with Judas) their Lord and Master.

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