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all design the very same height or greatness, though the Pope alone hitherto has had the wit and fortune to confess it.” So we shall always have a Papacy and a Pope: we must commend the Doctor's discernment in this at least, for though “Old Reynard the Pope” has parted with his claims and prerogative, they are not lost, but only transferred to others, -one word about the poor conforming Puritans, "whose souls the devil fished for, and his bait was the black indulgence.”- Old Mortality.) They were hated by the rigid Sectarians, they were despised and suspected by the true sons of the Church. And if you would have the conforming Puritan described by one who hated him sincerely, see this sermon.- Page 553, vol. 5.
Many of South's sermons were preached on particular public occasions, and were full of allusions to the passing and important events of the period-many are plain, practical discourses, much more calculated for the pulpit and the improvement of his hearers than his violent political declamations. Of the value of his discussions on doctrinal points we do not feel competent to pronounce an opinion : they seem to contain an intelligible statement of his own sentiments, and may be satisfactory to those who wish to see one side of a question.Towards the close of his life he was called on to vindicate his doctrines of the Trinity against the notions of Sherlock. The dispute, being on religious topics, was consequently long, loud, and furious, and continued till the King put an end to it by the exercise of that prerogative which South was too good a subject to dispute.
The beauty and power of scriptural language are recommended to us in the following extract from “ the Scribe instructed.” The reader will find something about Politian, which perhaps he did not know before.
“ And then for the passions of the soul; which, being things of the highest transport, and most wonderful and various operations of human nature, are therefore the proper object and business of rhetoric. Let us take a view how the Scripture expresses the most noted and powerful of them. And here, what poetry ever paralleled Solomon in his description of love, as to all the ways, effects, and extasies, and little tyrannies of that commanding passion. 'Love is strong as death, and jealousy cruel as the grave.' And then for his description of beauty, he describes that so that he even transcribes it into her expressions. And where do we read such strange risings and fallings, now the faintings and languishings, now the terrors and astonishments of despair venting themselves in such high amazing strains as in the Psalms ?-Or where did we ever find sorrow flowing forth in such a natural prevailing pathos, as in the Lamentations of Jeremy? One would think, that every letter was wrote with a tear, every word was the noise of a breaking heart,—that the author was a man compacted of sorrows, disciplined to grief from his infancy; one, who never breathed but in sighs, nor spoke but in a groan. So that he, Politian, who said he would not read the Scripture for fear of spoiling his style, shewed himself as much a blockhead as an atheist."
There is a curious sermon on the state of Adam in Paradise: it displays a most lively imagination, and contains some new and pleasing thoughts. Parts may be considered beautiful, but they are not adapted for selection: they are almost buried in the rubbish of bad metaphysics and puerile conceits.
The sermon, on Proverbs xvi. 33, (The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposal of it is of the Lord,) is full of good sense and forcible expression : it is on the common and daily occurrences of human life, its changes and its fortunes,subjects which South had studied and reflected The following extract is taken from it:
“ The sun shines in his full brightness, but the very moment before he passes under a cloud, who knows what a day, what an hour -nay, what a minute may bring forth ? He who builds upon the present, builds on the narrow compass of a point; and where the foundation is so narrow, the superstructure cannot be high and strong too.
“Is a man confident of his present health and strength ?—why, an unwholesome blast of air, a cold, or a surfeit took by chance, may shake in pieces his hardy fabrick,--and, in spite of all his youth and vigour, send him, in the very flower of his years, pining, and drooping to his long home. Nay, he cannot, with any assurance, so much as step out of doors, but, unless God commissions his protecting angel to bear him up in his hands, he may dash his foot against a stone and fall, and in that fall breathe his last.
“ Is a man confident of his estate, wealth, and power?-why, let him read of those strange unexpected dissolutions of the great monarchies and governments of the world-governments that once made such a noise, and looked so big in the eyes of mankind; as being founded upon the deepest counsels and strongest force; and yet, by some slight miscarriage or cross accident, which let in ruin and desolation upon them at first, are now so utterly extinct, that nothing remains of them but a name.
“No man can rationally account himself secure, unless he could command all the chances of the world; but how could he command them, when he cannot so much as number them? Possibilities are as infinite as God's power: and whatever may come to pass, no man can certainly conclude shall not come to pass.'
The following is a good specimen of South's vehement and powerful declamation. He is speaking of those who charged the church of England with Popery and superstition :
"May the great, the just, and the eternal God, judge between the church of England and those men who have charged it with Popery; who have called the nearest and truest copy of primitive Christianity, superstition; and the most detestable instances of schism and sacrilege, reformation ; and, in a word, done all that they could, both from the pulpit and press, to divide, shake, and confound the purest and most apostolically reformed church in the Christian world : and all this, by the venomous gibberish of a few paltry phrases instilled into the minds of the furious, whimsical, ungoverned multitude, who have ears to hear, without either heads or hearts to understand.
“For I tell you again, that it was the treacherous cant and misapplication of those words :-Popery, superstition, reformation, tender conscience, persecution, moderation, and the like, as they have been used by a pack of designing hypocrites, (who believed not one word of what they said, and laughed within themselves at those who did,) that put this poor church into such a flame heretofore, as burnt it down to the ground, and will infallibly do the same to it again, if the providence of God and the prudence of man does not timely interpose between her and the villainous arts of such incendiaries.”
And the long prayers of the fanatics he dismisses in the same bold unqualified terms :
“ I do not in the least question, but the chief design of such as use the extempore way is to amuse the unthinking rabble with an admiration of other gifts; their whole devotion proceeding from no other principle, but only a love to hear themselves talk. And, I believe, it would put Lucifer himself hard to it, to out-vie the pride of one of those fellows pouring out his extempore stuff among his ignorant, whining, factious followers, listening to and applauding his copious flow and cant, with the ridiculous accents of their impertinent groans. And the truth is, extempore prayer, even when best and most dexterously performed, is nothing else but a business of invention and wit, (such as it is), and requires no more to it, but a teeming imagination, a bold front, and a ready expression; and deserves much the same commendation (were it not in a matter too serious to be sudden upon) which is due to extempore verses,-only with this difference, that there is necessary to those latter a competent measure of wit and learning ; whereas, the former may be done with very little wit and no learning at all.”
“ He who trusteth on his own heart is a fool.”—This was the result of a king's experience, one of the wisest philosophers that has adorned the royal brotherhood. We will give the concluding part of South's comment on the monarch's remark.
“And thus I have given an account of some of those deceits and
fallacies which the heart of man is circumvented by; and God knows, that it is but some of many. For infinite are the impostures that lie couched in the depths and recesses of this hollow and fallacious thing. So that all that I have said is but a paraphrase, and that an imperfect one, upon that full text of the prophet Jeremy- That the heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it?'~It is a depth never to be fathomed, and a mystery never to be thoroughly understood.
“Now the imputation of being a fool is a thing which mankind of all others is the most impatient of, it being a blot upon the prime and specific perfection of human nature, which is_reason ;-a perfection which both governs and adorns all the rest. For so far as a man is a fool, he is defective in that very faculty which discriminates him from a brute ; upon which account, one would think, that this very charge of folly should make men cautious, how they listen to the treacherous proposals coming out of their own bosoms, lest they perish with a load of dishonor added to that of their destruction. For if it is imaginable, that there can be a misery greater than damnation, it is this, to be damned for being a fool.”
As a good judge of men and manners, and a careful observer of human life, South deserves the highest praise. He seldom attempts the subtleties of metaphysical disquisition, in which he did not excel : his business was with the broad realities of life. We have a sermon on the text, “ Wo unto them that call evil good and good evil,” &c. Herein we find fully developed the mighty influence of prejudices, and fashions and names, which absolutely govern the unthinking part of mankind, and exert a tyrannical sway over those who are bold enough to think for themselves. The chances and uncertainties of mortal life, the hair-breadth escapes from danger and death, the accidents and coincidences, on which all worldly happiness and honors depend, are subjects which must for ever be interesting to man, and form the best part of his philosophy. The noblest study is that of the human mind, and human life: that wisdom that it ought to teach is the means of acquiring happiness. To show that the low and contemptible things of the earth often govern the great and exalted, to teach man reasonable diffidence and modesty, to discourage unbounded hopes and expectations, to cherish noble and honorable aspirations, and to make his fellow-creatures wiser and better; to do this was the useful and honorable object of this excellent teacher. He thought, no doubt, he had said a witty thing, who called South's discourses not " Sunday, but week-day sermons;" his meaning was, we presume, if he had any, that they were written too much for worldly every-day affairs ; a charge, which a very numerous class of sermon-makers have no cause to fear, who write for no day at all. South's sermons are
adapted to all readers and all days; they contain innumerable thoughts and reflections which are true and striking, though not always the most obvious to a common thinker: and this is an unequivocal mark of a good writer. From him we might form a collection of useful maxims, in which sentiments the most profound and just are delivered in language the most expressive and correct.
Our modern divines, we think, must profit by a perusal of these discourses: they would serve as a corrective to the cloying insipidity of those unseasoned hashes which are served up by most unskilful cooks. The Doctor could recommend the practice of virtue by all the arts of persuasion, and by all the arguments which were appropriate to his hearers : with a noble sense of duty he discoursed of virtue (vide Sermon iv. vol. 1.) before an unprincipled monarch and a dissolute court; but their ears were shut to the words of wisdom. His sincerity we cannot doubt, for he constantly refused preferment, contented with a college living and a prebendal stall.
His faults, like his virtues, were many and great. His intolerant and persecuting spirit we have before had occasion to notice: words were the only weapons his profession allowed him to use, but he wielded them with a terrible vigor and effect. Doubtless he would have fought with the same spirit that he wrote ; for during Monmouth's rebellion, be declared he was ready, if there should be occasion, to change his black gown for a buff coat. To his detested enemies, the Papists and Puritans, he could show no mercy, and allow no virtue. Milton, with him, is “ the blind adder, who spit venom on the king's person;" Cromwell is “ Baal,” a “ bankrupt beggary fellow, who entered the parliament-house with a threadbare, torn cloak, and greasy hat, and perhaps neither of them paid for;" and Sir Henry Vane, “ that worthy knight, who was executed on Tower Hill.” His crying sin was the contrivance of the covenant; and for this South could triumph over his unjust condemnation.
Satire, ridicule, and invective, he poured forth in a copious and continuous stream; but he was often carried away by the violence of the torrent, which he could neither direct nor restrain. He would always step aside to have a blow at the Schismatics, to slily insinuate some article of his political creed, something about prerogative, or occasionally relieve himself by a discharge from his unexhaustible fund of wit and humour. This humour often bordered on grossness and indelicacy, and his wit certainly betrayed him into expressions certainly improper, if not profane. What he could not confute by argument, he would overcome by ridicule. He well knew the value of Horace's maxim