Obrázky stránek
[ocr errors]

ing by the magnificence of its ruins.” “And certainly that must needs have been very glorious, the decays of which are so admirable. He that is comely when old and decrepid surely was very beautiful when he was young. An Aristotle was but the rubbish of an Adam, and Athens but the rudiments of paradise.”

A man who had thus signalized himself both by his powers and his loyalty could not escape notice and preferment. In 1663, he was made prebendary of Westminster ; in 1670, canon of Christ Church, Oxford. In 1677,

In 1677, he accompanied, as chaplain, Lawrence Hyde, the son of Clarendon, sent by Charles the Second as ambassador to Poland. On the 30th of April, 1668, we find him returned, and preaching at Oxford. In his sermon on Christ's Promise the Support of Ministers, he has some remarks which seem directed against Jeremy Taylor. He recommends plainness and simplicity of speech to the minister, and, alluding to St. Paul's mode of teaching, he says, “Nothing here of the fringes of the

' North Star'; nothing of nature's becoming unnatural ' ; nothing of the down of angel's wings,' or the beautiful locks of cherubims'; no starched similitudes, introduced with a • Thus have I seen a cloud rolling in its airy mansion,' and the like. No, these were sublimities above the rise of the apostolic spirit. For the Apostles, poor mortals, were content to take lower steps, and to tell the world in plain terms, that he who believed should be saved, and that he who believed not should be damned.” There is a good deal more about gaudery, frisking it in tropes, fine conceits and airy fancies, shooting over men's heads while professing to aim at their hearts, - all of which might seem to have been levelled at Taylor, by one whose energetic and fiery spirit could ill brook the process of smoothness and delight” by

"6 which the sweet poet of theology would draw men into heaven. South, also, in this sermon, darts with his usual practical acuteness on the motives which animated many of the opponents of the church in their dolorous complaints. When they desire to get the clergy under their feet, then the clergy are too high and proud. - When avarice disposes men to be rapacious and sacrilegious, then forthwith the church is too rich." And when, by gaming and revelling, these same men have disabled themselves from paying their butchers, brewers, and vintners, “ then immediately they are all thunder and lightning against the intemperance and luxury of

[ocr errors]

the clergy, forsooth, and high time it is for a thorough reformation."

In 1681, South preached before the king, at Westminster, his sermon on All Contingencies directed by Providence. In this discourse, he referred to the impossibility of foreseeing the tremendous results of small things on the stability and happiness of states; and, after giving two instances drawn from history, he exclaimed, -“And who that had beheld such a bankrupt, beggarly fellow as Cromwell first entering the Parliament House with a threadbare, torn cloak, and a greasy hat (and perhaps neither of them paid for), could have suspected, that, in the space of so few years, he should, by the murder of one king and the banishment of another, ascend the throne, be invested in the royal robes, and want nothing of the state of a king but the changing of his hat into a crown ?” Charles laughed heartily at this, and said, turning to Hyde, - “ Odsfish! your chaplain must be a bishop; therefore put me in mind of him at the next death.' It was the misfortune of South to preach his doctrines of passive obedience, and God's particular care of kings, in the reign of a good-natured rascal, who had not a single quality of majesty to sustain the theory of the divine by the example of the monarch. South seems to have been ambitious rather to be the champion of the church, than to enjoy its high and lucrative offices. He repeatedly declined preferment. In the reign of James the Second, though he disliked the measures of that monarch relating to Popery, he would not oppose him, and, when pressed to sign the invitation to the Prince of Orange, steadily refused. After the revolution, he rather submitted to the new government than acknowledged it. He might have had one of the vacant bishoprics, had he pleased ; but he felt too strong a sympathy with the nonjurors to step into any of their late offices. The rest of his life was spent in the same unwavering devotion to the church which had characterized his youth and manhood. He opposed all measures to produce a union of dissenting Protestants, that involved the slightest sacrifice of the forms and ceremonies of the church. He died July 8, 1716, after a long life of intellectual labor. His biography is to be read in his sermons. In them are chronicled the results of his studies, the opinions he entertained of men and measures, the thoughts he grasped in contemplation, the passions he felt in actual life ; and on them is impressed the undeniable marks of the daring, straightforward character of the man.


In both his life and writings, South presents himself as a man of more than ordinary dimensions. His understanding was large, strong, and acute, grappling every subject he essayed to treat with a stern grasp, and tearing and ripping up, with a peculiar intellectual fierceness, systems and principles which contradicted his own. He possessed a constant sense of inward strength, and whatever province of thought he willed to make his own always yielded to his unceasing and unwearied effort. Difficulties and obstacles, in conception or expression, instead of daunting him, only seemed to rouse new energies of passion, and set his mind on fire. Many sentences in his works seem torn from his brain by main strength, expressing not only the thought he intended to convey, but a kind of impatient rage that it did not come with less labor. He wrote probably from his own consciousness, when he represented study as racking the inward and destroying the outward man, as clothing the soul with the spoils of the body ; "and like a stronger blast of lightning, not only melts the sword, but consumes the scabbard." And again, in another connection, he calls truth a great stronghold barred and fortified by God and nature, and diligence, the understanding's laying siege to it. “ Sometimes it thinks it gains a point ; and presently again it finds itself baffled and beaten off; yet still it renews the onset ; attacks the difficulty afresh ; plants this reasoning and that argument, this consequence and that distinction, like so many intellectual batteries, till at length it forces a way and passage into the obstinate inclosed truth that so long withstood and defied all its assaults.” To great sharpness and penetration of intellect, which pierced and probed whatever it attacked, he joined a peculiar vividness of perception, to which we can give no more appropriate name than imagination. In almost every subject which he treats, he not merely reasons powerfully, but he sees clearly ; and it is this bright inward vision of his theme that he most warmly desires to convey to the reader. Like every truly great thinker, he thinks close to things, without the intervention of words, and masters the objects of his contemplation before he seeks to give them expression. His style, therefore, has singular intensity, vitality, and richness. It expresses not only the thought, but the thought as modified by the character of the thinker. In this respect, he is among the most original of writers. 292 Alexander's History of Colonization in Africa. (Oct.

We say again, then, that we support this enterprise as a measure of emancipation. We look upon it as allowing the claim of the slave to be free, urging on his master the duty of releasing him, and expressing full confidence that he can be enlightened, happy, and free, when removed from the operation of that prejudice which here weighs him down. So far from admitting that the prejudice in question has any foundation in truth and reason, we think it baseless and unjust; and we see no means so efficient to remove it, as to give the slave a chance to show the world what his energies, exerted for himself, can do. If we could see or imagine a way in which colonization would prolong the existence of slavery, it is the last thing in which we should be interested ; but while we do not doubt the sincerity of those who ascribe this effect to it, we cannot trace the steps of their reasoning, nor understand the state of mind in which these impressions are welcomed as true. To our apprehension, it is clear, that whatever keeps this subject before the public mind, without exciting bad passions, is favorable to the progress

It is well known that this form of emancipation is tolerated and practised where no other would be possible. If any one sends his slaves to Liberia, it is a declaration on his part either that it is his duty to surrender them, or that he thinks they can be better off elsewhere than in the house of bondage. “In both cases, his testimony is favorable to the cause of freedom ; others will be influenced by it; and thus a sense of the value of liberty, and the right and capacity of the slave to enjoy it, will gradually make its way from heart to heart. All may not travel up to this conviction in precisely the same way ; but this is of little importance, if they only arrive at the truth, that every man should be his own master, and that all have a right to be free.

Art. II. — Sermons preached_upon Several Occasions.

By Robert South, D. D., Prebendary of Westminster, and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford. A New Edition, including the Posthumous Discourses. Philadelphia : Sorin & Ball. 4 vols. 8vo.

No explorer of the thorny tracts of theology can ever forget his exhilaration of spirit on first reading the sermons of Dr. South, the shrewdest, sharpest, bitterest, and wittiest of English divines. His character, formed by a curious interpenetration of strong prejudices and great powers, and colored by the circumstances of his age and position, is one of the most peculiar in English literature, and, as displayed in his works, repays the most assiduous study. In some points he reminds us of Sydney Smith, though distinguished from him by many striking individualities, and utterly opposed to him in political sentiment and principle. He is a grand specimen of the old Tory; and he enforced his Toryism with a courage, heartiness, and wealth of intellectual resources, to which the warmest radical could hardly refuse admiration and respect.

South was born in 1633. He was the son of an eminent London merchant. In 1647, he was admitted a king's scholar at Westminster, at the period when Dr. Busby was master of the school. On the day of the execution of King Charles the First, or, to use his own words, “on that black and eternally infamous day of the king's murder, an hour or two before his sacred head was cut off,” the Doctor prayed for the king by name, while reading Latin prayers at the school. In 1651, he entered Oxford, at the same time that John Locke was admitted, — the future champion of the divine right of kings, in company with the future champion of freedom. In 1655, he took his degree of Bachelor of Arts, and wrote a copy of Latin verses congratulating Cromwell on the peace made with the Dutch. Although this was a college exercise, and the theme probably selected for him and not by him, it must have been a most galling recollection in after years, when he was writing down the great Protector as an "execrable monster," and comparing him to Baal and Beelzebub. At college he seems to have been a severe student, both in the acquisition of knowledge VOL. LXIII. - No. 133.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PředchozíPokračovat »