If the Priest be Foul

Geoffrey Chaucer (1342 – 1400), considered to be the greatest English poet before Shakespeare, wrote the following regarding the need for high moral standards among pastors:

“Wide was his parish, houses far asunder, but never did he fail, for rain or thunder,

In sickness, or in sin, or any state, to visit the farthest, small and great,

Going afoot, and in his hand a stave.

This fine example to his flock he gave,

that first he wrought and afterwards he taught;

Out of the gospel then that text he caught,

and this figure he added thereunto

That, if gold rust, what shall poor iron do?

For if the priest be foul, in whom we trust,

What wonder if a layman yield to lust?’1


“Now a pastor must give no grounds for accusation, but must be above reproach, temperate, self-controlled, sensible, well-behaved, dignified, lead an orderly life, hospitable, showing love for believers, a capable and qualified teacher, not combative, but gentle and considerate, not quarrelsome but forbearing and peaceable, and not a lover of money, have a good reputation, and be well thought of” (1 Timothy 3:2–7).

“Evil ministers of good things are like torches, a light to others, but not to themselves.”2


© 2017 D & L Publications


  1. http://www.librarius.com/canttran/genpro/genpro479-530.htm
  2. https://books.google.com/books?id=JIQcAAAAMAAJ