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In olden times, a word for a clerk or educated man. Modernly, All who are attached to the ecclesiastical ministry are called the clergy; a clergyman is therefore an ecclesiastical minister. Clergymen were exempted by the emperor Constantine from all civil burdens. In England ecclesiastical persons have more and greater liberties than other of the king's subjects, wherein to set down all, would take up a whole volume of itself. In the United States the clergy is not established by law, but each congregation or church may choose its own clergyman.


 - n. The body of men set apart, by due ordination, to the service of God, in the Christian church, in distinction from the laity; in England, usually restricted to the ministers of the Established Church. Learning; also, a learned profession. The privilege or benefit of clergy.


 - Benefit of clergy (Eng., Law), the exemption of the persons of clergymen from criminal process before a secular judge - a privilege which was extended to all who could read, such persons being, in the eye of the law, clerici, or clerks. This privilege was abridged and modified by various statutes, and finally abolished ...

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