Pastors, preachers and politicians
The clergy of the later Stuart Church
in The later Stuart Church, 1660–1714
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Edmund Gibson's ventriloquising of the archbishop's sentiments is a fair reflection of many senior clerics' zeal to improve the efficiency of the Church of England as an institution in the later Stuart period. Examining conflicting perceptions of decline and vigour requires us to recognise that the clergy undertook several roles in this period. They were God's priests first and foremost, and supposed to act as pastors to the people, but they were also significant political actors. The marquis of Halifax, and other lay critics of outspoken clergy, regularly urged preachers to stick to expounding scripture and to avoid engaging with current affairs. Preaching was clearly taken very seriously indeed by a huge number of later Stuart clergy who continued and developed, rather than fell away from, the activity of their late Elizabethan and early Stuart forbears.

Editor: Grant Tapsell

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