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in the seventeenth year of his age, 1694, Saurin quitted his studies to go
and made a campaign as a cadet in lord Galloway's company. The next year, 1695, his captain gave him a pair of colours in his regiment, which then served in Piedmont: but the year after, 1696, the Duke of Savoy, under whom Saurin served, having made his peace with France, Saurin quitted the profession of arms, for which he was never designed, and returned to Geneva to study.
Geneva was, at that time, the residence of some of th best scholars in Europe, who were in the highest estimation in the republic of letters. Pictet, Lewis Tronchin, and Philip Mestrezat, were professors of divinity there, Alphonso Turretin was professor of sacred history, and Chouet, who was afterwards taken from his professorship, and admitted into the government of the republic, was professor of natural philosophy. The other departments were filled with men, equally eminent in their several professions. Some of them were natives of Geneva, others were exiles from Italy and France, several were of noble families, and all of them were men of eminent piety. Under these great masters Saurin became a student, and particularly applied himself to divinity, as he now began to think of devoting himself to the ministry, 1696. To dedicate one's self to the ministry in a wealthy, flourishing church, where rich benefices are every day becoming vacant, requires very little virtue, and sometimes only a strong propensity to vice: but to choose to be a minister in such a poor, banished, persecuted church as that of the French protestants, argues a noble contempt of the world, and a supreme love to God, and to the souls of men. These are the best testimonials, however, of a young minister, whose profession is, not to enrich, but to save himself, and them who hear him. 1 Tini. iy. 16.
After Mr. Saurin had finished his studies 1700, he visited Holland and England. In the first he made a very short stay: but in the last he staid almost five years, and preached
great acceptance among his fellow exiles in London. Of his person an idea may be formed by the annexed cop. per-plate, which is said to be a great likeness, and for which I am indebted to my ingenious friend Mr. Thomas Holloway. His dress was that of the French clergy, the gown and cassock. His addiess was perfectly genteel, a happy compound of the affable and the grave, at an equal distance from rusticity and foppery. His voice was strong, clear, and harmonious, and he never lost the management of it,
His style was pure, unaffected, and eloquent, sometimes plain, and sometimes flowery: but never improper, as it was always adapted to the audience, for whose sake he spoke, An Italian acquaintance of mine, who often heard him at the Hague, tells me, that in the introductions of his sermons be used to deliver himself in a tone modest and low; in the body of the sermon which was adapted to the understanding, he was plain, clear, and argumentative, pausing at the close of each period, that he might discover, by the countenances and motions of his hearers, whether they were convinced by his reasoning; in his addresses to the wicked, (and it is a folly to preach as if there were none in our assemblies, Mr. Saurin knew mankind too well) he was often sonorous, but oftener a weeping suppliant at their feet. In the one he sustained the authoritative dignity of his office, in the other he expressed his inaster's, and his own benevolence to bad men, praying them in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God. 2 Cor. v. 20. In general, adds my friend, his preaching resembled a plentiful shower of dew, softly and imperceptibly insinuating itself into the minds of his numerous hearers, as the dew into the pores of plants, till the whole Church was dissolved, and all in tears under his sermons. His doctrine was that of the French protestants, which, at that time, was moderate calvinism. He approved of the discipline of his own churches, which was presbyterian. He was an admirable scholar, and, which were his highest encomiums, he had an unconquerable aversion to sin, a supreme love to God and to the souls of men, and a holy unblemished life. Certainly he had some faults: but, as I have never heard of
I publish none.
During his stay in England, he married a Miss Catherine Boyton, in 1703, by whom he had a son, named Philip, who survived him; but whether he had any more children I know not. Two years after his marriage he returned to Holland, in 1705, where he had a mind to settle : but, the pastoral offices being all full, and meeting with no prospect of a settlement, though his preaching was received with universal applause, he was preparing to return to England, when a chaplainship to some of the nobility at the Hague, with a stipend, was offered to him. . This situation exactly suited his wishes, and he accepted the place.
The Hague, it is said, is the finest village in Europe. It is the residence of the States General, of ambassadors and envoys from other courts, of a great number of nobility and
gentry, and of a multitude of French refugees. The Princes of Orange have a spacious palace here, and the chapel of the palace was given to the refugees for a place of public worship, and, it being too small to contain them, it was enlarged by above a half. This French church called him to be one of their pastors. He accepted the call, and continued in his office till his death. He was constantly attended by a very crowded and brilliant audience, was heard with the utmost attention and pleasure, and, what few ministers can say, the effects of his ministerial labours were seen in the holy lives of great numbers of his people.
When the Princess of Wales, afterward Queen Caroline, passed through Holland in her way to England, Mr. Saurin had the honour of paying his respects to that illustrious lady. Her royal highness was pleased to single him out from the rest of the clergy, who were present, and to say to hiin, Do not imagine that, being dazzled with the glory which this revolution seems to promise me, I have lost sight of that God, from whom it proceeds. He hath been pleased to distinguish it with so many extraordinary marks, that I cannot mistake his divine hand; and, as I consider this long train of favours as immediately coming from him, to him alone I consecrate them. It is not astonishing, that Saurin speaks of condescension with rapture. They are the kind and christian actions of the governors of a free people, and not the haughty airs of a French tyrant, insulting his slaves, that attach and inflame the hearts of mankind. The history of this illustrious christian queen is not written in blood, and therefore it is always read with tears of grateful joy.
Her royal highness was so well satisfied of Mr Saurin's merit, that soon after her arrival in England she ordered Dr. Boulter, who was preceptor to Prince Frederick, the father of his present majesty, to write to Saurin, to draw up a treatise on the education of princes, Saurin iinmediately obeyed the order, and prefixed a dedication to the young princes. The book was never printed: but as it obtained the approbation of the Princess of Wales, who was an incomparable judge, we may conclude that it was excellent in its kind. This was followed by a handsome present from the princess to the author.
His most considerable work was intitled, Discourses, historical, critical and moral, on the most memorable events of the old and new testament. This work was undertaken
by the desire of a Dutch merchant, who expended an immense sum in the engraving of a multitude of copper-plates, which adorn the work. It consists of six folio volumes. Mr Saurin died before the third was finished: but Mr Roques finished the third, and added a fourth on the old testament; and Mr. de Beausobre subjoined two on the new testament. The whole is replete with very extensive learning, and well worth the careful perusal of students in divinity. The first of these was translated into English by Chamberlayne, soon after its first publication in French.
Our author's dissertation on the expedience of sometimes disguising the truth, raised a furious clamour against him. He does not decide the question : bat he seems to take the affirmative. This produced a paper war, and his antagonists unjustly censured his morals. The mildness of his disposition rendered him a desirable opponent, for though he was sure to conquer, yet he subdued his adversary so handsomely, that the captive was the better for his defeat. But others did not controvert with so much temper. Some wrote against him, others for him. At length the synod decided the dispute in his favour.
He published a small, but valuable piece on the state of christianity in France. It treats of many important points of religion, in controversy between catholics and protestants. There is also a small catechism of his publishing, which I think worth the attention of such as educate children in the first principles of religion.
There are twelve volumes of his serinons. Some are dedica. ted to his Majesty George II. and the king was pleased to allow him a handsomne pension. Some to her Majesty Queen Caroline, while she was Princess of Wales. One to Count Wassanaer, a Dutch nobleman. Two were dedicated to her Majesty, after his decease, by his son. Professor, Dumont, and Mr. Husscn, to whom Mr. Saurin left his manuscripts, published the rest, and one volume is dedicated to the Countess Dowager of Albemarle. The English seem therefore to have a right to the labours of this great man.
Mr. Saurin died at the Hague on Dec. 30th, 1730, aged 53, inost sincerely regretted by all his acquaintances, as well as by his church, who lost in him a truly primitive christian minister, who spent his life in watching over his flock, as one who knew he must give an account.
In regard to this translation, it was first undertaken by the desire of a small circle of private friends, for our inutual edincation. If I have suffered my private opinion to be prevailed over by others to print this translation, it is not because I think myself able to give language to Saurin ; but because I humbly hope that the sentiments of the author may be conveyed to the reader by it. His sentiments; I think, are, in general, those of the holy scripture, and his manner of treating them well adapted to impress them on the heart. I have endeavoured not to disguise his meaning, though I have not been able to adopt his style, for which defect, though I print them by private subscription, for the use of my friends, on whose candour I depend, yet I do not offer to publish them to the world for the language of Mr Saurin. I should have been glad to have pleased every subscriber, by inserting those sermons, which were most agreeable to him, had I known which they. were: but as this was impossible, I have followed my own judgment, or perhaps exposed my want of it. The first voluine aims to secure the doctrine of a God, against the attacks of atheists. In the second we mean to plead for the holy scriptures against deists. In the third, we intend to take those sermons, which treat of the doctrines of christianity, as we humbly conceive that the new testament is something more than a system of moral philosophy. And the last volume we dedicate to moral subjects, because we think christianity a holy religion, productive of moral obedience in all its true disciples. To this second edition a fifth volume is added on miscellaneous subjects. May the God of all grace bless the reading of them to the weakening of the dominion of sin, and to the advancement of the kingdom of our blessed Redeemer, Jesus Christ!