Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

sace, neither art nor cruelty can rid the kingdom of them, and some of the greatest ornaments of France now plead for a FREE TOLERATION.

The refugees charge their banishment on the clergy of France, and they give very good proof of their assertion, nor do they mistake, when they affirm that their sufferings are a part of the RELIGION of Rome, for Pope Innocent XI. highly approved of this persecution. He wrote a brief to the king, in which he assured him that what he had done against the heretics of his kingdom would be immortalized by the elogies of the catholic church. He delivered a discourse in the consistory, May 18, 1689, in which he said, the most christian king's zeal, and piety, did wonderfully appear in extirpating heresy, and in clearing his rehole kingdom of it in a very few months. He ordered Te Deum to be sung, to give thanks to God for this return of the heretics into the pale of tlte church, which was accordingly done with great pomp, April 28. If this persecution were clerical policy, it was bad, and, if it were the religion of the French clergy, it was worse. In either case the church procured great evil' to the state. Lewis XIV. was on the pinnacle of glory at the conclusion of the peace of Nimeguen, 1679, his dominion was, as it were, established all over Europe, and was become an inevitable prejudice to neighboring nations : but here he began to extirpate heresy, and here he began to fall, nor has the nation ever recovered its grandeur since.

Protestant powers opened their arms to these venerable exiles. Abbadie, Ancillon, and others, fled to Berlin. Basnage, Claude, Du Bosc, and many more, found refuge in Holland. The famous Dr. Allix, with numbers of his brethren, came

G

to England. A great many families went to Geneva, among which was that of Saurin.

Mr. Saurin, the father of our author, was an eminent protestant lawyer at Nismes, who, after the repeal of the edict of Nantz, 1685, retired to Geneva. He was considered at Geneva as the oracle of the French language, the nature and beauty of which he thoroughly understood. He had four sons, whom he trained up in learning, and who were also remarkably eloquent, that eloquence was said to be hereditary in the family. The Reverend Lewis Saurin, one of the sons, was afterwards pastor of a French church in London. Saurin, the father, died at Geneva. James, the author of the following sermons, was born as Nismes, in 1677, and went with his father into exile, to Géneva, where he profited very much in learning.

In the seventeenth year of his age, 1694, Saurin. quitted his studies to go into the army, 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 Šaurin 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 the 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. Tlie 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 Tim. iv. 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 with great acceptance among his fellow exiles in London. His dress was that of the French clergy, the gown and cassock. His address 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 he 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 master'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 any, I can 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 labors 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 honor 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 him, 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 favors 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 go

« FöregåendeFortsätt »