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TO THE LAST ENGLISH EDITION.
TRANSLATIONS of works written in foreign languages possess a value beyond the subjects discussed in them: in this respect, the congeniality of sentiment which pervades, may assimilate them to our own productions. But they are particularly useful to convince us, that mental cultivation and energy are not confined to any country, but are the gifts of God, impartially bestowed upon nations widely separated as to situation. Nor are these circumstances without their special influence, since we find the works of learned men characterized by peculiarities, which strongly distinguish them from each other. The transfusion of these into the languages of other countries, gives them a circulation which contributes equally to the instruction and pleasure of mankind in general.
Of this advantage the Sermons of M. Saurin are pre-eminently deserving. Nor has it been conferred on them in vain. They have been most favourably received in this country, as the sale of several Editions demonstrates. As many of them as have made eight volumes, have, for some time, been before the public. The first five were translated by the Rev. R. Robinson. The sixth by the Rev. Dr. H. HUNTER; and the last two by the Rev. J. SUTCLIFFE.
In the present Edition they are compressed into Two Volumes, the last of which contains three additional Sermons, now first printed in English; one on Regeneration, translated by the Rev. J. SutcliffE; and two others by M. A. BURDER. Of the manner in which they are rendered, the near relationship of the translator forbids me to speak, otherwise than to express a confident hope, that they will not be found unworthy of being associated with those which precede them.
: This Edition has been carefully corrected by the Rev. J. SUTCLIFFE, previously to the work being put to the press, through which it has been my province to guide and correct it. (To those who value the great doctrines of Christianity, these volumes cannot but prove highly accep table: nor can they fail of making a due impression on the mind, by the forcible and eloquent manner in which they exhibit truth and holiness.
FIRST AMERICAN STEREOTYPE EDITION.
The sermons of the accomplished Saurin, formerly pastor of the Reformed French church at the Hague, have been well known to a considerable part of the clergy of different denominations, in the United States, ever since they were put into an English dress by Robinson, Hunter, and Sutcliffe. To this class a recommendation of these sermons would be a work of supererogation; and they might justly look upon any attempt to give an analysis of their merits, by so humble an individual as the subscriber, to be about as needful and acceptable an offering to the cause of Christian literature, as the panegyric of a pedagogue upon the principia of Newton, the metaphysics of Locke, or the poetry of Milton, would be to the republic of letters. But here is a much more numerous, and (thanks be to the facilities of education and spreading influence of christianity in this rising and happy country!) constantly increasing, class of readers, to which these rare specimens of pulpit eloquence have been till lately, almost inaccessible, because found only in seven or eight formidable octavo volume and it is, therefore, believed by the publishers of this stereotype edition, at whose request the subscriber has undertaken the task, that a brief preface by an American clergyman, would be an acceptable service to this numerous class of the Christian community, and would serve as an appropriate introduction of this valuable work in a compass and at a price - adapted to their taste and ability.
The preachers of the French school are generally characterized by a warm imagination, an ornamented diction, and an animated declamation. To enlighten the understanding, direct the reason, and persuade the judgment, seem to have been regarded by them as secondary objects;-while all their energies were put forth to awaken the sensibilities, agiiate the passions, and control the affections of their hearers. Those of the English school, on the contrary, seem to disdain all the arts of declamation; to treat their hearers as only rational beings, without reference to their animal sympathies and emotions and to aim at moving the heart solely through the medium of the understand
1 29. In the sermons of the former, the Divine will find
little that will prove
very I valuable addition to his theological lore, or aid him in the exposition and ulustration of the great principles of revealed truth. And in the didactic discourses of the latter class, the preacher will not meet with much that will prove a valuable auxiliary to him in the great work of rousing the human soul to deep sensibility and emotion in reference to eternal things,--and persuading his fellow men to flee, without delay, from the wrath to come, and lay hold with an anxious and trembling hand upon the hope set before them in the gospel. The former have an abundance of heat, but a moderate portion of light:—they serve to kindle a great blaze of feeling, but shed little or no illumination upon the dark field of polemic theology, or the profound mysteries of the Christian faith. The latter, shed forth light, but it is, too often, cold and cheerless as the moonbeams: they aid the researches of the inquirer aft the principles of truth and safe rules of moral casuistry, but have little influence in imbuing the heart of the awakened sinner, with the agonies of contrition, or the consolations of hope. The former, would appear empty and insipid if unaccompanied by the action and impassioned tones of the living preacher; and the latter, would lose half their excellencies if they were not carefully perused amidst the quiet and meditations of the study.The former, seem to have been designed exclusively for producing an effect
upon a vivacious people from the pulpit; and the latter, as exclusively, for producing an effect upon a thinking people from the press.
In this hasty sketch of the characteristics of the French and English sermons,-it is designed to present a picture which is assumed to be correct only as a general outline of the respective classes. There are highly distinguished and honourable exceptions in both is must be well known to the readers of Massillon, Bossuet, Du Bosc, and others of the one class; and of Tillotson, Barrow, Gisborne, Cooper, Cunnningham, “et id genus omne," of the other. C! The people of these United States, can, perhaps, hardly be said to have any ixed national character. Every thing in this youthful country, is still in a forming state. But owing to the nature of our civil institutions, the ready incorporation into our political family of emigrants from every country in Europe, our early connexion and subsequent friendly intercourse with France, and other causes which might be mentioned; the peculiar habits of thought, and feeling, and conduct, which belonged to our English progenitors, have undergone an important modification;-and so far as our national character is developed, it may be said to combine the gravity and thoughtfulness of the natives of the British isles, with the buoyancy and sprightliness of the inhabitants of the southern sections of the continent of Europe./
If it be the duty of the moral and religious teachers of a people to adapt. their instructions to their general habits of thought, and feeling, and action, (which none will question,) and if the national character now forming in this union, partakes of the qualities ascribed to it above, then is it manifestly important that the occupants of our American pulpits, while they carefully avoid the shallowness of the French style of sermonizing, and the coldness of the English, should labour to combine the excellencies of both;—and thus form and prosecute a system which is best calculated to act upon the religious feelngs, and form the moral habits, of the nation.
The increasing attention paid to the cultivation of sacred literature and, theological learning amongst us; and the great facilities afforded to young men of piety and talents in their preparation for the sacred office, by our theological seminaries;—while they are hailed as an earnest of the increasing respectability and advancing power of the clerical profession, encourage the hope that a day is not far distant, when the American preachers, even now equal in point of usefulness at least, to any body alike numerous in any other country of Christendom, will be pre-eminent for ability, eloquence, zeal, faithfulness, and efficiency. When it will be acknowledged, not only that their field of labour is more extensive and promising than that allotted to the Protestant ministry of any other country, but also more highly and successfully cultivated.
One means of promoting so desirable an end, is, to furnish our younger clergy, and students of divinity, with the best models of pulpit composition." And where can one be found which may be more safely and profitably studied" than that contained in the succeeding pages!/ There are, indeed, many, very many volumes of excellent sermons in our own language, from the pens of native and foreign divines;—but will it be deemed invidious to say, that in none of them can be found more faultless models than these volumes afford of the style of sermonizing that is best adapted to the wants of the American Church, and the character of the American people it is true, Saurin was ance Frenchman-but his character as a man and a preacher, was modified, and doubtless improved, by several years exercise of his ministry in the metropolis of England,
--and a longer exercise of it at the Hague; so that the objectionable peculiarities of his national school were restrained and amended by the sobriety of the English, and the gravity and obtuseness of the Hollanders. His discourses, owing perhaps, to the peculiar circumstances in which he was providentially placed, combine, more happily than any others, the excellencies: of the continental and English schools of preachers, free from the glaring