Saurin, James

, a very celebrated preacher, was the son of an eminent protestant lawyer, and was born at Nismes in 1677. His father retired, after the repeal of the edict of Nantz, to Geneva, at which place he died. Saurin made no small progress in his studies, but abandoned them for some time, that he might follow arms. In 1694, he made a campaign as a cadet in lord Galloway’s company, and soon afterwards procured a pair of colours. But as soon as the duke of Savoy had concluded a peace with France, Saurin quitted a profession for which he never was designed; and, on his return to Geneva again, applied himself to philosophy and divinity, under Turretin and other professors. In 1700, he visited both Holland and England. In this last country he remained five years, and preached among the French refugees in London. Here also he married in 1703, and returned to the Hague in 1705. Soon after he became pastor to the church of French refugees, who were permitted to assemble in the chapel belonging to the palace of the princes of Orange at the Hague, in which he officiated during the remainder of his life. When the princess of Wales, afterwards queen Caroline, passed through Holland on her way to England, Saurin had the honour of paying his respects to her, and she, upon her return, desired Dr. Boulter, the preceptor to prince Frederic, the father of the present king, to write to Saurin, to draw up a treatise “on the education of princes.” The work was done, but never printed, and the author received a handsome present from the princess, and afterwards a pension from George II. to whom he dedicated a volume of his sermons. Saurin died Dec. 30, 1730. He possessed great talents, with a fine address, and a strong, clear, and harmonious voice, while his style was pure, unaffected, and eloquent. His principles were what are called moderate Calvinism. Five volumes of his sermons have made their appearance at different times; the first in 1708, | the second in 1712, the third some years after, the fourth in 1722, and the fifth in 1725. Since his death, the sermons relating to the passion of Jesus Christ, and other subjects, were published in two volumes. In 1727 he published “The State of Christianity in France.

But his most considerable work was, “Discourses historical, critical, and moral, on the most memorable Events of the Old and New Testament.” His first intention was to have published a set of prints, with titles and explanations; but, as that had been before executed by Fontaine amongst the Roman catholics, and by Basnage amongst the protestants, it became necessary to adopt a newer plan. This gave rise to the work above mentioned, which the author left imperfect. Two volumes made their appearance in folio, and the work was afterwards reprinted in four in 8vo. Six other discourses form a part of a fifth volume in 8vo, published by Mr. Roques, who undertook a continuation of the work. It is replete with learning. The Christian and the heathen authors, philosophers, poets, historians, and critics, are cited with the utmost profusion, and it forms a compilation of all their sentiments on every subject discussed throughout the work. The author shews himself to be a warm advocate for toleration; and, though the catholics are more frequently censured than commended, yet his principles are very moderate. “A Dissertation on the Expediency of sometimes disguising the Truth” raised a clamour against the author, the fury of which he had riot power to appease. As an historian, he believed that he was permitted to produce the chief arguments of those that maintain, that in certain cases truth may be disguised; and the reasons which they gave who have asserted the contrary. Without deciding the question, it is easy to perceive that he is a favourer of the former. His principal antagonist was Arrnand de la Chapelle; to whom Francis Michael Ganicon replied with great spirit, in a work, entitled “Lettres serieuses & jocoses.” The three first of the lettres, in the second volume, are in favour of Saurin. He was answered by La Chapelle with great violence. Saurin imagined, that he should be able to terminate this dispute by reprinting the dissertation separately, with a preface in defence of his assertions: but he was deceived; for La Chapelle published a very long and scurrilous reply. It was Saurin’s intention entirely to have neglected this production; but he found a new champion in Francis Bruys. This dispute | was at length brought before the synod of Campen; who, in May 1730, ordered the churches of Utrecht, Leyden, and Amsterdam, to make their examinations, and report the result of them to the synod of the Hague, which was to sit in the September following. Commissaries were appointed for this purpose. The synod of Campen gave its opinion, and that of the Hague confirmed it: but, having made no mention of the instructions sent to the Walloon church at Utrecht, that assembly complained, and ordered Mr. Bonvoust, one of its ministers, to justify his proceedings and his doctrine. This he did in a large octavo volume, printed at Utrecht in 1731, after the death of Saurin, entitled “The Triumph of the Truth and Peace; or, Reflections on the most important Events attending the last Synod assembled to determine in the case of Messieurs Saurin and Maty.” Saurin had contributed to this peace, by giving such a declaration of his sentiments as satisfied the protestant churches; and he repeated that declaration, when he foresaw that the new lights, which Mr. Bruys had thrown upon this subject, were going to raise a storm that might perhaps have been severer than the last. Saurin’s sermons are now well known in this country by the selections translated into English, and published in 1775 1784, by the rev, Robert Robinson, 5 vols. 8vo, to which Dr. Henry Hunter added a sixth volume in 1796. 1


Life by Robinson prefixed to his Sermons,- —Chaufepie,Moreri.