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THE name of Saurin, as a Preacher and a Scripture-Critic, is so well known, and so highly respected, as to render any panegyric or recommendation of mine altogether unnecessary. His great work entitled, Discourses Historical, Critical, Theological and Moral, on the most memorable Events recorded in the Old and New Testaments, is in the hands of almost every Protestant divine who understands the French language. Of this the first volume only has been given to the English public, by a respectable layman, John Chamberlayne, Esquire, of the City of Westminster, presently after the publication of the original at the Hague, in 1723. Unhappily for the world, Mr. SAURIN did not live to accomplish that arduous undertaking; his valuable labours being interrupted by the stroke of death, before he had quite finished the Sixth Discourse of Vol. III. which contains the period of Solomon's piety and prosperity. The work was, however, very creditably continued and completed by Messrs. Roques and De Beausobre. A republication of Mr. Chamberlayne's volume, and a translation of the other five, would be an important and, no doubt, an acceptable addition to English literature.
The late Reverend ROBERT ROBINSON, of Cambridge, has given a very good translation of five volumes of the Sermons of SAURIN, selected from twelve, of which the original consists; to these he has prefixed Memoirs of the Reformation in France, and of SAURIN's Life. This work has been so well received all over Great Britain, that a third large impresa sion of it is already nearly exhausted : a striking proof, surely, of the author's extraordinary merit as a Christian orator, especially if it be considered that this approbation is expressed in an age and a country daily enriched with original displays of pulpit eloquence, and whose taste is rendered fastidious by profusion and variety of excellence.
But the Public, it would appear, is still disposed to receive more of Mr. SAURIN'S Serinons, for I have been frequently and importunately solicited to undertake the translation of what remains: a request with which, I acknowledge, I felt no great reluctance to comply; being thoroughly convinced that no compositions of the kind are more calculated to be useful to mankind. By the reception given to this volume, I shall be enabled to determine whether it is proper to desist, or to go on.
The attentive Reader will readily perceive that I have made the arrangement of the subjects part of my study. When I found any of the links of my chain anticipated by my respectable predecessor in the works of translation, I refer to it, that those who choose to read in a series may be saved the trouble of tracing it from volume to volume.
As the originals are much longer than the generality of modern Sermons, and as I suppose these may probably be adopted by families as part of their serious domestic reading, I have taken the liberty to divide most of them into two, and some into three parts, in the view of relieving the exertion of the person who reads, and the attention of the hearers : introducing nothing of my own, except sometimes a few lines of recapitulation, where it seemed necessary to connect the several members of the subject.
Toone advantage only over my predecessor do I presume to lay claim, congeniality of sentiment with my Author, on certain points of doctrine, of rites and ceremonies, of church discipline, and some others, in which Mr. ROBINSON differs from him. There must be many passages, accordingly, which he disapproved while he translated; and some Sermons he probably omited altogether, because they coincided not with his religious belief. Under this disadvantage I did not labour in executing iny task; as I agree in almost every point with my great Original, and possibly translated with peculiar satisfaction what Mr. RoBINSON had reluctantly, or saw it his duty entirely to leave out. His Readers and mine will, undoubtedly, exercise the same right of private judgment, and, I trust, practise the same candour and forbearance which he and I thought ourselves obliged by precept and by example to recommend.
H. H. Bethnal-Green Road,
24th June 1796.