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detached passages, as Saurin observes, any thing may be proved from scripture, even that there is no God; and I question whether any one of our wretched customs hath so much contributed to produce and cherish error as that of taking detached passages of scripture for the whole doctrine of scripture on any particular subject. An adept in this art will cull one verse from Obadiah, another from Jude, a third from Leviticus, and a fourth from Solomon's song, and compile a fundamental doctrine to be received as the mind of God by all good Christians under pain of his displeasure. Were this a common man, and not a sublime genius under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and so beyond advice, I would presume to counsel him always to cap his medley of a sermon with a text from the Lamentations of Jeremiah.
Do we then propose Saurin as a model for all preachers? By no means. But as we suppose there are diversities of gifts for the edification of the church, each excellent in its kind, so we suppose Saurin a model in his own class. There is in the writings of the apostle Paul one of finest allegories in the world to illustrate this subject. The Christian church is considered under the image of an human body, and of this body God is considered as the Spirit or soul ; and the most refined morality is drawn from the fact. The eye cannot say unto the hand I have no need of thee : nor again, the head to the feet, I have no need of you. If one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it; for it is the same God which worketh all diversities of gifts in all good men. It is highly
. probable, that what is affirmed of individuals may
be true of collective bodies of men. One church may excel in literature, another in purity of doctrine, a third in simplicity of worship, a fourth in administration of ordinances, a fifth in sweetness of temper and disposition, and so on. It is not for us to investigate this subject now ; let it suffice to observe that the French reformed church hath excelled in a clear, convincing and animating way of composing and delivering Christian sermons. Never so warm as to forget reasoning, never so accurate as to omit energy, not always placid, not always rapid, never so moral as to be dry and insipid, never so evangelical and savoury as to spiritualize the scriptures till the fat of a kidney is as good a body of divinity as the whole sermon of Jesus Christ on the mount. Different as my ideas of some subjects are from those of Mr. Saurin, yet I wish we had a Saurin in every parish: yea so entirely would I go into the doctrine of the apostle's allegory just now mentioned, that I would encourage even a builder of wood, hay and stubble, suppose he erected his absurdities on the foundation laid in scripture, to destroy the works of the devil in any place where those works are practised. In a village made up of a stupid thing called a squire, a mercenary priest, a set of intoxicated farmers, and a train of idle, profligate and miserable
poor, and where the barbarous rhymes in their church yard inform us that they are all either gone or going to heaven (and we have too many such parishes in remote parts of the kingdom) would it not be infinitely better for society if an honest enthusiast could convert these people to piety and morality,
though it were effected by spiritualizing all the flanks and kidnies, and bullocks and red cows mentioned in scripture? Any thing of religion is better than debauchery and blasphemy.
Such a set of converts would grow in time up to majority, and when of age would look back on their first religious nourishment as men do on the amusements of their childhood: and among other reformations would cleanse public instruction from Jewish allegory, pagan philosophy, and the gaudy tinsel of the schools. From a state of gross ignorance and vice up to a state of the highest perfection of christian knowledge and virtue lie infinite degrees of improvement, one above another in a scale of excellence up to the first born of every creature, the perfect teacher sent from God. In this scale our author occupies a high place in my eye, and is a reader choose to place him a few degrees lower, I shall not contend about that; for on my principles if he contribute in any, even the least degree to the cause of truth and virtue, he is a foreigner worth our acquaintance, and the gallic in his appearance will not disgust a friend to the best interests of mankind. I say nothing of the translation: it does not become me. Let those who are able do better. Envy of this kind I have
The following is the prayer, which Mr. Saurin gen.
erally used immediately before Sermon. O LORD! Our God and Father! thou seest us prostrate in thy presence to render the homage due to thy Majesty, to confess our sins to thee, and to implore thy favour. Had we followed the first emotions of our consciences, we should not have presumed to lift our eyes to heaven, but should have fled from thy sight. We are creatures inean and infirm, a thousand times more unworthy of appearing before thee for our depravity, than for our natural meanness. But, O Lord! though our sins and miseries depress us, yet thy mercy lifts us up. Thou art a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in goodness; thou hast no pleasure in the death of a sinner; but that he should repent and live; and thou hast given thy Son to the world, that whosoever believeth in him should have everlasting life. So many benefits, so many promises encourage our trembling consciences, and inspire us with the liberty we now take to approach the throne of thy mercy, and to implore the powerful aid of thy grace. We have always need of thine assistance: but now, O Lord! we feel a more than usual want. We are assembled in thy house to learn the doctrines of our salvation, and the rules of our conduct : but, O God! our duty surpasses our strength, we cannot succeed without thy Holy Spirit. Grant a double portion of this to us who preach thy word; grant, after we have understood thine oracles, we may be first affected with the truths they contain, before we propose them to others, and may we announce them in a manner
suitable to their excellence. But suffer us not to labour in vain; dispose our hearers to receive thine orders with submission, and to practise them with punctuality; so that all of us, being animated with one spirit, and aiming at one end, may sanctify our conduct, and live agreeable to the holiness of our calling. We pray for all these blessings in the name of thy well beloved Son Jesus Christ our Lord, Our Father, &c.
The following is the approbation of the Walloon Church
at Dort, employed by the Synod of Utrecht to examine the Sermons of Mr. Saurin.
WE have foupd nothing in all these sermons contrary to the doctrine received among us. We have remarked every where a manly eloquence, a close reasoning, an imagination lively and proper to establish the truths of our holy religion, and to explain substantially and elegantly the duties of morality. Accordingly we believe they will effectually contriþute' to edify the church, and to render more and more respectable the memory of this worthy servant of God, whose death the examination of his works hath given us a fresh occasion to lament. We attest this to the venerabļe Synod at Utrecht. In the same sentiments we send the present attestation to our dear brother Mr, Dumont, pastor and professor at Rotterdam, whom the late Mr. Saurin appointed by his will to take the eharge of publishing such of bis