for the Comprehension, and the lowest churchman that felt a scruple about succeeding a deprived prelate, accepted the Archbishopric of York, vacant by the death of Lamplugh.
In consequence of the elevation of Tillotson to the See of Canterbury, the Deanery of Saint Paul's became vacant. As soon as the name of the new Dean was known, a clamour broke forth such as perhaps no ecclesiastical appointment has ever produced, a clamour made up of yells of hatred, of hisses of contempt, and of shouts of triumphant and half insulting welcome; for the new Dean was William Sherlock.
The story of his conversion deserves to be fully told; for it throws great light on the character of the parties which then divided the Church and the State. Sherlock was, in influence and reputation, though not in rank, the foremost man among the nonjurors. His authority and example had induced some of his brethren, who had at first wavered, to resign their benefices. The day of suspension came; the day of deprivation came; and still he was firm. He seemed to have found, in the consciousness of rectitude, and in meditation on the invisible world, ample compensation for all his losses. While excluded from the pulpit where his eloquence had once delighted the learned and polite inmates of the Temple, he wrote that celebrated Treatise on Death which, during many years, stood next to the Whole Duty of Man in the bookcases of serious Arminians. Soon, however, it began to be suspected that his resolution was giving way. He declared that he would be no party to a schism; he advised those who sought his counsel not to leave their parish churches; nay, finding that the law which had ejected him from his cure did not interdict him from performing divine service, he officiated at Saint Dunstan's, and there prayed for King William and Queen Mary. The apostolical injunction, he said, was that prayers should be made for all in authority, and William and Mary were visibly in authority. His Jacobite friends loudly blamed his inconsistency. How, they asked, if you admit
- It does not seem quite clear whether Sharp's scruple about the deprived prelates was a scruple of conscience or merely a scruple of delicacy. See his Life by his Son.