is a danger of overestimating the politicization of the established clergy. The clergy were not solely or, in many cases, even partly, servants of the state. They had their own sense of calling and responsibilities that often conflicted with the aims and intentions of secular state policy. The majority were more concerned with the practicalities of running a parish, collecting stipends, and caring for the souls of their parishioners. The state in this period may have been extending its influence and structures but it was not so powerful as to be able to interfere systematically with the complexity of traditional parish life and day-to-day ministry.
The status of the clergy within voluntary or persecuted Protestantism was different again from that of their legally established counterparts. Owing to their geographical concentration and well-established church structures, the Presbyterian minister in Ulster occupied a prominent place in local communities. More significantly in political terms, Dissenting ministers in both Britain and Ireland were often found at the vanguard of republican politics as a result of their exclusion from the power structures of the state. An estimated sixty-three Presbyterian ministers in Ulster were implicated in the 1798 rebellion that aimed to overthrow British rule and establish an independent Irish republic. For less fortunate clergymen in Hungary and France the possibility of political activism was severely curtailed and the laity assumed their role as the political leaders of their communities.
How did the social origins, education, methods of appointment, career patterns, and income levels of the clergy affect their status in their local communities? On the whole, their status was ambiguous. On the one hand, on account of his education, ordination and income, the local clergyman was a person set apart, the representative of official religion and of the state if he was a minister of the established church. The absence of an extensive nobility in Württemberg and Sweden allowed the clergy to act as equals with the gentry and thus assume a conspicuous place in local society. In England the social and financial improvement of the clergy led to what has been termed their 'gen-trification' over the course of the eighteenth century as they self-consciously became part of 'a propertied hierarchy' by the late Georgian period. More generally, the clergy were aware that they were part of the educated middle class that set them above the parochialism and ignorance of their rural parishes. Such an elevated status and an increasing identification with the social elite ran the risk of alienating the laity whose souls had been charged to their care. This was precisely the concern that animated Spener to seek ways of making the Lutheran pastoral office more responsive to the spiritual and practical needs of parishioners. Yet the danger of irrelevancy was tempered by the fact that
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