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ordinary. On the accession of James II. the earl of Clarendon, going lord-lieutenant to Ireland, offered him an archbishopric in that island, which he declined, froin a desire to live more privately. The latter part of his life was spent chiefly at Islip and Oxford, and sometimes at his paternal estate at Caversham in Oxfordshire, at which places, he employed himself in preparing for the press his very curious and witry sermons. At the revolution he refused at first to take the oaths to the new government, though he afterwards complied; but it is highly to his credit, that on being offered one of the sees vacated by the non-juring bishops in 1692, 'he declined it; allerging-“ 'That notwithstanding he, for' his part, saw nothing that was contrary to the laws of God, and the common practice of all nations, to subo mit to princes in possession of the throne, yet orhers might have their reasons for a contrary opinion; and he blessed God, that he was neither so ambitious, nor in want of preferment, as for the sake of it, to build his rise upon the ruins of any one father of the church, who for piety, good morals, and strictness of life, which every one of the deprived bishops were famed for, might be said not to have left
their equal. In the same spirit he afterwards refused the bishopric of Rochester and deanery of Westminster, though importuned to accept those dignities. He died in 1716.
The most voluminous productions of South are his Sermons, which are comprised in 6 vols. 8vo. The following brief extracts are taken from the first in the collection, which is remarkable for its elegance and rationality, and for its having been preached at court. Its subject is “ The Ways of Pleasantness, or that Virtue is the truest Happiness.” I have not room to follow the author through his ingenious arguments, in illustration of this important truth ; and must therefore content myself with exhibiting only the passage which con
. tains the result of his arguments on the subject.
Nothing (says he) is comparable to the pleasure of an active and a prevailing thought-a thought prevailing over the difficulty and obscurity of the object, and refreshing the soul with new discoveries, and images of things; and thereby extending the bounds of apprehension, and (as it were) enlarging the territories of reason.
No rnan was ever weary of thinking, much less of thinking that he had done well or virtuously; that he had conquered such
ånd such a temptation, or offered violence to any of his exorbitant desires. This is a delight that grows and improves under thought and reflection ; and while it exercises, does also endear itself to the mind; at the same time employing and enflaming the meditations.
And tell me so of any outward enjoypent that mortality is capable of. We are generally at the mercy of men's rapine, avarice, and violence, whether we shall be happy or no: for if I build my felicity on my estate, I am happy as long as the tyrant, or the railer will give me leave to be so. But if I can make my duty my delight; if I can feast, and please, and caress my mind with the pleasures of worthy speculations or virtuous practices ; let greatness and malice vex and abridge me if they can. My pleasures are as free as my will; no more to be controuled than my choice, or the unlimited range of my thoughts and my desires.
This discourse is commended in the Tatler, No. 205, Vol. IV. in these terms : “ This admirable discourse was preached at court, where the preacher was too wise a man not to believe the greatest argument in that place, against the pleasures then in vogue, must be, that they lost greater pleasures by prosecuting the courses they were in. This charming discourse has in it whatsoever wit and wisdom can put together. This gentleman has a talent of making all his faculties bear to the great end of his hallowed profession. Happy genius! he is the better man for being a wit.”
South distinguished himself likewise by his controversy with Sherlock, on the subject of the Trinity. His tracts on this subject are, 1. Animadversions upon Dr. Sherlock's book, entitled-“ 'Vin-tication,” &c. 2. Tritheism charged upon Dr Sherlock's new notion of the Trinity in the Godhead.
Sherlock had defined the Trinity to bem Three eternal minds, of which two proceeded from the Father; and the three rendered one by a reciprocal consciousness. South treats this notion in the following ludicrous manner ;
The soul of Seerates, (says he) vitally joined with a female body, would certainly make a woman ; and yet according to this author's principle (affirming that it is the soul only which makes the person) Socrates with such a change of body, would continue the same person, and consequently be the samne Socrates still. And in like manner for Xantippe, the conjunction of her soul with another sex, would certainly make the whole compound a man; and nevertheless Xantippe would continue the same person, and the same Xantippe still; save only, I confess, that upon such exchange of bodies with her husband Socrates, she would have more right to wear the breeches than she had before.
This sarcastic illustration of the consequences of Sherlock's doctrine is said to have contained an allusion to the particular domestic situation of that divine, who resembled Socrates in the point of matrimonial felicity.
During the heat of this controversy, Dr. T. Burnet published his Archæologia, in which he assails with considerable force the divine authority of the Old Testament. These three divines, forming a Trinity not in unity, excited the sportive wit of some cotemporary poet, who satyrizes them in the following humorous ballad, to the tune of A Soldier and a Sailor, &c.