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THE Discourses contained in the three last volumes of the present edition, with the exception of the Appendix, were first published in the year 1744, with the following title:
"Five additional Volumes of Sermons preached upon several Occasions. By Robert South, D.D. "late Prebendary of Westminster, and Canon of "Christ-Church, Oxon. Now first printed from the "Author's Manuscripts. With the chief Heads of "the Sermons prefixed to each Volume: and a gene"ral Index of the principal Matters. London: printed for Charles Bathurst, opposite St. Dun"stan's Church in Fleet-Street. M.DCC.XLIV."
The editor is said to have been Dr. William King, Principal of St. Mary Hall in the University of Oxford. See Nichols's Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, vol. II. p. 608.
These Sermons do not appear to have been prepared or even intended for the press by the author, from whose rough drafts they were evidently printed in so careless and incorrect a manner, as in many passages to be absolutely unintelligible. In the present edition it has been deemed proper to have recourse occasionally to conjectural emendation of the
text, in preparing which considerable use has been made of a copy bequeathed to the Bodleian Library by Charles Godwyn, B.D. in which many of the errors are corrected in Mr. Godwyn's own hand. But in all cases, in which an obvious and almost certain correction did not present itself, the original edition has been followed without alteration. A list of the words or passages corrected is subjoined to each volume.
CHIEF HEADS OF THE SERMONS.
EPHESIANS iv. 10.
He that descended is the same also that ascended far above all heavens, that he might fill all things. P. 1.
Christianity, in those great matters of fact upon which it is founded, happily complies with man's mind, by affording proper objects to affect both the pensive, sad, and composed part of the soul, and also its more joyful, serene, and sprightly apprehensions; which is instanced in many passages of Christ's life, from the humble manger, attended with angels, to his descent into the grave, followed by his miraculous resurrection and ascension, 1. This last great and crowning passage, however true, still affords scope for the noble actings of faith; and since faith must rest itself upon a divine word, such a word we have here in the text, 3. Wherein are four things considerable :
I. Christ's humiliation implied in these words, he that descended, 4.
The Socinians answered concerning Christ's descent according to his divine nature, 5. And an inquiry made as to the place whither he ended, the lower parts of the earth, 5. which, 1. Son erstand simply of the earth, as being the lowermost pathe world, 6. 2. Some of the grave, 6. 3. Some of hell itself, the place of the damned, 6. 4. The Romanists by the help of this text have spied a place called purgatory; or rather the pope's kitchen, 7. These words may bear the same sense with those in 'Psalm
cxxxix. 15. and be very properly taken for Christ's incarnation and conception in the womb of the blessed Virgin, 8. and that upon these grounds:
1. Because the former expositions have been shewn to be unnatural, forced, or impertinent, and there is no other besides this assignable, 8.
2. Since Paul here uses David's very words, it is most probable that he used them in David's sense, 8.
3. The words descending and ascending are so put together in the text, that they seem to intend a summary account of Christ's whole transaction in man's redemption, which was begun in his conception, and consummate in his ascension, 8.
II. Christ's glorious advancement and exaltation, he ascended far above all heavens; that is, to the most eminent place of dignity and glory in the highest heaven, 9.
III. The qualification and state of Christ's person, in reference to both conditions: he was the same. He that descended, &c. which evinces the unity of the two natures in the same person, 11.
IV. The end of Christ's ascension, that he might fill all things, 15. All things may refer here, 1. To the scriptureprophecies and predictions, 15. 2. To the church, as he might fill that with his gifts and graces, 15. Or 3, (which interpretation is preferred,) to all things in the world, 16. which he may be said thus to fill in a double respect.
1. Of the omnipresence of his nature, and universal diffusion of his godhead, 16.
2. Of the universal rule and government of all things committed to him as mediator upon his ascension, 19.
It remains now that we transcribe this into our lives, and by being the most obedient of servants, declare Christ to be the greatest of masters, 21.
EPHESIANS iv. 10.
That he might fill all things. P. 22.
These words are capable of a threefold interpretation, 22.