English Literature, Considered as an Interpreter of English History eBook

Henry Coppée
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 540 pages of information about English Literature, Considered as an Interpreter of English History.

ROBERT SOUTH.—­This eccentric clergyman was born in 1633.  While king’s scholar at Dr. Busby’s school in London, he led the devotions on the day of King Charles’ execution, and prayed for his majesty by name.  At first a Puritan, he became a churchman, and took orders.  He was learned and eloquent; but his sermons, which were greatly admired at the time, contain many oddities, forced conceits, and singular anti-climaxes, which gained for him the appellation of the witty churchman.

He is accused of having been too subservient to Charles II.; and he also is considered as displaying not a little vindictiveness in his attacks on his former colleagues the Puritans.  He is only known to this age by his sermons, which are still published and read.


Isaac Barrow, 1630-1677:  a man of varied learning, a traveller in the East, and an oriental scholar.  He was appointed Professor of Greek at Cambridge, and also lectured on Mathematics.  He was a profound thinker and a weighty writer, principally known by his courses of sermons on the Decalogue, the Creed, and the Sacraments.

Edward Stillingfleet, 1635-1699:  a clergyman of the Church of England, he was appointed Bishop of Worcester.  Many of his sermons have been published.  Among his treatises is one entitled, Irenicum, a Weapon-Salve for the Churches Wounds, or the Divine Right of Particular Forms of Church Government Discussed and Examined.  “The argument,” says Bishop Burnet, “was managed with so much learning and skill that none of either side ever undertook to answer it.”  He also wrote Origines Sacrae, or a Rational Account of the Christian Faith, and various treatises in favor of Protestantism and against the Church of Rome.

William Sherlock, 1678-1761:  he was Dean of St. Paul’s, and a writer of numerous doctrinal discourses, among which are those on The Trinity, and on Death and the Future Judgment.  His son, Thomas Sherlock, D.D., born 1678, was also a distinguished theological writer.

Gilbert Burnet, 1643-1715:  he was very much of a politician, and played a prominent part in the Revolution.  He was made Bishop of Salisbury in 1689.  He is principally known by his History of the Reformation, written in the Protestant interest, and by his greater work, the History of my Own Times.  Not without a decided bias, this latter work is specially valuable as the narration of an eye-witness.  The history has been variously criticized for prejudice and inaccuracy; but it fills what would otherwise have been a great vacuum in English historical literature.

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