Jacques Saurin.

Sermons of the Rev. James Saurin, late Pastor of the French Church at The Hague (Volume 1) online

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Late of Clare Hall, Cambridge ; Lecturer of the United Parishes of Christ Churchy
J^ewgate Street, and St. Leonard, Foster Lane, London.

varnn a likeness of the author, and a general index.






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Translations of works written in foreign languages possess a valufi
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, im-
partially 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 de-
serving. 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 live were translated by the
Rev. R. Robinson. The sixth by the Rev. Dr. H. Huxteu ; and the
last two by the Rev. J. Sutcliffe.

In the present Edition they are compressed into Six 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 ex-
press a confident hope, that they will not be found unworthy of being as-
sociated with those which precede them.


-, . V ^ X^ . . \ \- *>>% • ^ - ' ^^

Thts Ediliofl has .been careiully corrected by the Rev. J. Sutcliffe,

previously to the work beijqg-put-to the press, through w^hich it has been
my province to guide and correct it. To those who value the great doc-
trincs^gf C|irist(anity^ these volumes cannot but prove highly acceptable :
nor can they fail of making a due impression on the mind, by the for-
cible and eloquent manner in which they exhibit truth and holiness.


Brixlable Lodge. Mdytlale,
Jan. 1, 1824.


mttotmntion in Jftnntt;


T- HE celebrated Mr. Saurin, author of the
following; sermons, was a French refugee, who,
with thousands of his countrymen, took shelter
in Holland from the persecutions of France.
The lives, and even the sermons, of the refu-
gees lire so closely connected with the history of
the rieformation in France, that, we presume,
a short sketch of the state of reliijion in that
kingdom till t'le banishment of the Protestants
by Lewis XIV. will not be disagreeable to
some of the younger part of our readers.

Gaul, which is now called France, in the
tim'> of Jesus Christ, was a province of the Ro-
man empire, and some of the apostles planted
Christianity in it in the first centuries, while
Christianity continued a rational religion, it
spread and supported itself without the help,
an! against the persecutions, of the Roman
■emperors. Numbers were converted from pa-
ganism, several Christian soc eties were form-
e 1, and many eminent m^n, having spent their
lives in preaching and writing for the advance-
ment of the gospel, sealed their doctrine with
their blood.

In the fifth century Clovis T., a pagan king
of Franc°, fell in love with Clotilda, a Chris-
tian princess of the house of Burgundy, who
ai:r9el to many him only on condition ofhis
becoming a <^hri«tian, to which he consented.
[A. I). 491.] The king, however, delayed the
performance of this condition till five years
after hi? marriage; when, being engaged in
a desperate battle, and having reason to fear
the total defeat of his army, he lifted up his
eyes to h°aven, and put up this prayer, Goi of
Qitf.fn ClnlUda ! Grant me the rictorj/, and I
vow to bf baptised, and thfnc (forth to ivorship
no other God but thee! He obtained the victo-
ry, anl at hi= return, was baptized at llheims
[Dec. 25. 496.] His sister, and more than three
thousand of his subjec-.ts followed his exam-
ple, and Christianity became the professed re-
ligion of Franc:?,

Conversion implies the cool exercise of rea-
son, and whenever passion takes the place, and
does the oifice of reason, conversion is nothing
but a name. Baptism did not was!i away the
sins of Clovis ; before it ha was vile, after it
he was infamous, [)rictising all kinds of treach-
ery and cruelty. The court, the armv. and the
common people, who were pagan when the
king was pagan, and Christian when he was
Christian, continued the same in their morals
after their conversion as before. When the
Christian church, therefire, opened her doors,
and delivered up her keys to these new cou-


verts, she gained nothing in comparison of what

sh€ lost. She increased the number, the rich-
es, the pomp, and the power, of her famdy :
but she resigned the exerci=e of reason, the suf-
ficiency of scripture, the purity of worship, tho
grand simpl city of innocence, truth, and vir-
tue, and became a creature of the state. A
virgin before ; she became a prostitute now.

Such Christians, in a long succes'^ion, con-
verted C iristianity into something worse than
paganism. They elevated the Christian church
into a temporal kingdom, and they degraded
temporal kingdoms into fi^fs of the church.
They founded dominion in grace, and they ex-
plained grace to be a love of dominion. And
by these means they completed that general
apostacy, known by the name of Popery^ which
St. Paul had tbretold, 1 Tim. iv. 1. and which
rendered the reformation of the sixteenth cen-
tury essential to the interests of all mankind.

The state of religion at that time [A U. 1.515.]
was truly deplorable. Kcclesiastical gorern-
ment, instead of that evangelical simplicity, and
fraternal freedom, whicii .lesus Christ and his
apostles had taught, was become a spiritual do-
mination under the form of a temporal empire.
A'l innumerable multitude of dignities, title?,
rights, honors, privileges,and pre-eminences be-
longed to it, and were all dependent on a sove-
reign priest, who, being an absolute monarch,
required every thought to be in subjection to
him. The chief ministers of religion were ac-
tually become temporal princes, and the high-
priest, being absolute sovereign of the ecclesi-
astical state, had his court and liis council, hi«
ambassadors to negociate, and his armies to
murder his flock. The clergy had acquired
immense wealth, and, as their chief study wa«
either to collect and to augment their revenues,
or to prevent the alienation of their estates,
they had constituted niunberless spiritual cor-
porations, with powers, rights, statutes, privi-
leges, and olRcers. The functions of the min-
istry were generally neglected, and, of conse-
quence, gross ignorance prevailed. All ranks
of men were extremely tlepraved in their mo-
rals, and the Po[)e's penitentiary had published
the price of every crime, as it was rated in tho
tax-book of the Uoman chancery. Marriages,
which reason and scripture allov/ed, the Pope
prohibited, and, for money, dispensed with
tho=e which both forbade. Church-benefices
were sold to children, and to laymen, who then
let then to under tenants, none of whom per-
formed the iluty, for whicli the profits were
paid ; but all having obtaiaod Ihcrn by siuio'.-iy,


spent their lives in fleecing the flock to repay
themselves. Tlie power of the pontiff was so
great that he assumed, anJ. what was more as-
tonishing;, was sn i'cred to exercise a supremacy
OV'T many Ifiiv^doms. When monarchs g;rati-
fi'vi his wrll, he ()ut on a triple crown, ascnii-
C'l a throne, snfforeil them to call liim Hoh-
ne.i9. an I to kiss his feet. When they disoblig-
ed him. he suspended all re!ii;:;ious worship in
their dominions ; published fdse and al)usive
libels, called bulls, which operated as laws, to
injure their persons; disjhars^ed tlieir subjects
from obedience ; and jj^ave their crowns to any
■who would usurp them. He claimed an infal-
libility of knowledge, and an omnipotence of
strength; and he forbade the world to examine
his claim. He was addressed by titles of blas-
phemy, and, thou<j:h he owned no juris liction
over himself, yet he affected to extend his au-
thority over heaven and bell, as well as over a
middle place called purgatory, of all which
places, he said, he kept the keys. This irreg-
iilar church polity was attended Avith quarrels,
jntriiTues, schisms, and wars.

Rfligion itself was made to consist in the
performance of numerous ceremonies, of Pagan,
Jewish, and Monkish extraction, all of which
niiglit be performed without either faith in
CJod, or love to mankind. The church ritual
was an address, not to the reason, but to the
senses of men : music stole the ear, and sooth-
ed the passions ; statues, paintings, vestments,
and various ornaments, beguiled the eye; while
the pause which was produced by that suilden
attack, which a multitude of oVijects made on
the senses, on entering a spacious decorated
edificp, was enthusiastically taken for devotion.
Blind obedience was first allovvetl by courtesy,
and then established by law. Public worship
■Was performed in an unknown tongue, and the
sacrament was adored as the body and blood
of Christ. The credit of the ceremonial pro-
duced in the people a notion, that the perform-
ance of it was the practice of piety, and religion
degenerated into gross superstition. Vice, un-
controlled by reason or scripture, retained a
Pagan vigour, and committed the most horrid
crimes: and superstition atoned for them, by
building and endowing religious houses, and
by bestowing donations on the church. Hu-
man merit was introduced, saints were invok-
ed, and the perfections of God were distribu-
ted by canonization, among the creatures of
the Pope.

_ The pillars that supported this edifice were
jmmense riches, arising by impoH from the
sins of mankind ; idle distinctions between su-
preme and subor hnate adoration; senseless ax-
ioms, called the divinity of the schools; preach-
ments of bufToonery or blasphemy, or both ;
cruel casuistry, consisting of a body of danger-
ous and scandalous morality; false miracles
and midnight visions; spurious books and pal-
try relics; oaths, dungeons, inquisitions, and
crusades. The whole was denominat<^d thf:


ond laid to the cliarge of Jesus Christ,

Loud complaints had licen made of those ex-
cesses, for the last hundred and fifty years, to
Uioic whoso busiiiGss it was to reiwria, and, as

bad as they ■were, they had o^wned the necessi-
ty of reformation, and had repeatedly promised
to reform. Several councils had been called
for the purpose of relorming; but nothing had
been done, nor could any thing be expected
from assemblies of mercenary men, who were
too dee|)ly interested m ilarkness to vole for
day. They were inflexible against every re-
monstrance, and. as a Jesuit has since express-
ed it, Thti/ ivonld not txliii^iiish one taper,
IhouirJi it uere to convert a.l the Hugonots in

The restorers of literature reiterated and
reasoned on these complaints : but they reason-
ed to the wind. The church champions were
hard driven, they tried every art to support
their cause: but th'-y could not get rid of the
attack by a polite duplicity : they could not
intimidate their sensible opponents by anathe-
mas ; they would not dispute the matter by
scripture, and thev could not defend themselves
by any other method ; they were too obstinate
to reform themselves, and too proud to be re-
formed by their inferiors. At length, the f)lam-
tifTs hud aside the thoughts ofapplying to them,
anil, having found out the liberty uhcreuith
Christ had made them free, we\it about reform-
ing themselves. The reformers were neither
popes, cardinals nor bishops, but they were
good men, who aimed to promote the glory of
God, and the jrood of mankind. This v as the
state of the church, when Francis 1. ascended
the throne. [151/).]

^Vere we to enter into a minute examination
of the reformation in France, we would own a
particular intf rposition of Provide^ ce : but we
would also take the liberty to observe, that a
happy conjunction of jarring interests rendered
the sixteenth century a fit era for reformation.
Events that produced, protected, and persecu-
ted reformation, proceeded from open and iiid-
den, great and little, good and bad causes. The
capacities and the tempers, the virtues and the
vices, the views and the interests, the wives
and the mistresses, of the i)rinces ofthose times;
the abilities and dispositions of the officers of
each crown ; the powers of government, and
the persons wl.o wrought them : the tempers
and geniuses of the people ; all these, and ma-
ny more, ■vvere springs of action, wliich, in their
turns, directed the great events that -were exhi-
bited to public view. But our limits allow no
inquiries of this kind.

'i'he reformation which began in Germany
spread itself to Geneva, and thence into France.
The French hail a translation of the Bible,
which had iieen made by Guiarsdes Moulins.
[In l'22-l.] It had been revised, corrected, and
printed at Paris, by order of Charles \'III , and
the study of it nov,- began to prevail. [1487.]
The reigning king, who was a patmn of
learning, encourageii his valet de chambre,
Clement Marot, to versify some of J3avid's
Psalms, and took great pleasure in singino-
them,* and either protected, or persecuted the

*■ His majesty's favourite psalm, whicii he
sang when he went a hunting, was the 42d.
The queen used to sing the 6tii, and the king'i
mistress th« l^^Olh. Marot translated fifty,



reformation, as his interest seemed to him to
require. Although he went in procession to
bnrn the first martyrs of the reformed church,
yet in the same year, [1535] he sent for Me-
lancthon to come into France to reconcile reli-
gion^ differences. Although he persecuted his
own protestant suhjccts with infinite inhuma-
nity, yet wlien he was afraid that the ruin of
the German prolestants would strengthen the
hands of the em(ieror Charles V. he made an
alhance with the protestant princes of Germa-
ny, and he allowed the Duke of Orleans, his
second son, to ofler them the Iree exercise of
thpjr religion in the UuUeilom of Luxemburg.
He suffered his sister, the Queen of Navarre,
to protect the relormation in her country of
Bearil, and even saved Geneva, wlien Charles
Duke of Savoy would have taken it. It was
no uncommon thing in that age for princes to
trifle thus with religion. His majesty's first
concern was to be a king, his second to act like
a rational creature.

The reformation greatly increased in this
reign. The pious Queen of Navarre made her
court a covert Irom evcy storm, supplied
France with preachers, and the exile* at Gene-
va with money. Calvin, who had fled from
his rectory in France, and had settled at Gene-
va, [1531] was a ciiief instrument ; he slid his
catecliism, and other books into Fratice. [1541.]
Some of the bishops were inclined to the refor-
mation ; but secre'ly, for fear of the Christians
of Rome. The relbrmation was called Calvin-
ism. The people were named Sacramentari-
ans, FAitiierans, Calvinists ; and n ck-named
Hugonots, either from Hugon, a Hobgoblin,
because, to avoid persecution, they held their
assemblies in the night ; or from the gate of
Hugon, in Tours, where they used to meetj
or from a Swiss word, which signifies a

Henry II., who succeeded his Father Fran-
cis, [l-')47] was a weak, and a wicked prince.
The increase of his authority was l/ie law and
the prophets to him. He violently persecuted
the Calvinists of FVance because he was taught
to believe, that heresy was a faction repugnant
to authority ; and he made an alliance with
the German protestant?. and was pleaed with
the title of Pro/ec/or of the Germanic liberties,
tliat is, protector of protestantism' This alli-
ance he made, in order to check the power of
Charles V. He was governed, sometimes by
his queen. Catharine de Medicis, niece of Pope
Clement Vil , who, it is saitl, never did right
except she did it by mistake : often by the
constable dc Montiiiorenci, whom, contrary to
the express command of his fatlier, in his dying
illness, he had placed at the head of adminis-
tration : chiefly by his mistress, Diana of Poi-
tiers, who hail been mistress to his father, and
who bore an implacable hatred to the protest-

Bi'za the other hundred, Calvin got them set
to music by the best musicians^ and every bo-
dy sang them as ballads When the reformed
churches made them a part of their worship,
the papists were forbidden to sing them any
more, and to sing a psalm was a sign of a Lu-

ants : and always by some of his favourites,
whom he suffered to amass immense fortune!
by accusing men of heresy. The reformation
was very much advanced in this reign. The
gentry promoted the acting of plays, in which
the comedians exposed the lives and doctrines
of the popish clergy, and the poignant wit and
humour of the comedians afforded infinite ih>er-
sion to the people, and conciliated them to the
new preachers. Beza, who had fled to Geneva,
[1548jcame backward and forward into P'rance,
and was achiefpromoterol the work. His La-
tin Testament, which he first published in thii
reign, [1556] was much read, greatly admired,
and contributed to the spread of the cause.
The New Testament was the Goliah's sword
of the clerical reformers, there vas none like it.
Francis IF. succeeded his lather Henry. [1559]
He was only in the sixteenth year of his age,
extremely weak both in body and mind, and
therefore incapable of governing the kingdom
by himself In this reign began those civil
wars, which raged in France for almost forty
years. They have been charged on false zeal
lor religion : but this charge is a calumny, for
the crown of France was the prize for which
the generals fought. It was that which inspi-
red them with hopes and fears, productive of
devotions or persecutions, as either of them
opened access to the throne. The interests of
religion, indeed, fell in with these views, and
so the parties were blended together in war.

The family of Charles the Great, which had
reigned in !<"' ranee for 236 years, either became
extinct, or was deprived of its inheritance, at
the death of Lewis the Lazy. [987.] Him,
Hugii Capet had succeeded, and had transmit-
ted the crown to his own jioslerity, which, in
this reign, subsisted in two principal branches,
in that of V'alois, which was in possession of
the throne, and in that of Bourbon, the next
heir to the. throne of France, and then in pos-
session of Beam. 1 he latter had been driven
out of the kingdom of Navarre: but they re-
tained the title, and were sometimes at Beam,
and sometimes at the court of France. The
house of Guise, Dukes ot Lorrain, a very rich
and powerful family, to whose niece, Mary
Queen of Scots, the young king was married,
pretended to make out their descent from
Ciiarles the great, and were competitors, when
the times served, with the reigning family for
the throne, and, at other times, with the Bour-
bon fimi'y, for the apparent heirship to it.
With these views they directed their family
alliances, perfected t! emselves in military skill,
and intrigued at court lor the administration of
affairs. These three houses formed three yar-
ties. The house of Guise (the chiefs of which
were five brethren at this time) headed one ;
the king of Na\arre, the princes of the blood,
and the great officers of the cruwn, the other;
the Queen mother, who managed the interest!
of the reigning family, extrcised her policy on
both, to keep either from becoming too strong ;
while the leeble child on the throne was alter-
nately a prey to them all.

Protestantism had obtained numerous con-
verts in the last reign. Several princes of lli»
blood, some chief otiieers of the orowi>, and



many principal families, had embraced it, and
its partisans were so numerous, both in Paris
and in all the provinces, that each leader of
the court parties deliberated on the policy of
strengthening his jiarty, by openly espousing-
Ihe reformation, by endeavouring- to free the
protestants from penal laws, and hy obtaining'
a free toleration lor them. At length, the
house of Bourbon declared for Protestantism.
and,of consequence, the Gu-ses were inspired
■with zeal for the support of the ancient reli-
gion, and took the Roman Cathol.cs under
their protection. The king of Navarre, and
the prince of Conde, were the heads of the
first : I'Ut the Duke of Guise had the address
to obtain the chief mamigemeiit of affairs, and
the protestants were persecuted with insatiable
fury all the time of this reign-
Had religion tlien no share in thesecommo-
tio?is.^ Certainly it had, with many of the
princes, and with mnltitndes of the soldiers:
but they were a motley mixture; one iought
for his coronet, another for his land, a third
for liberty of conscience, and a fourth for pay.
Courage was a joinlstock, and they were mu-
tual sharers of gain or loss, praise or blame.
It was religion to secure the lives and proper-
ties of no!-ie families, and thougli the common
people had no lordships, yet they had the more
valuable rights of conscience, and for them
they fought". We mistake, if we imagine that
the French have never ufiderstcod the nature
o! civil and religious liberty; they have well
uiulprsliiod it, though they have not ! een able
to obtain it. Huuin cuinxie would have been
as exjiressive a motto as any that the protest-
anl generals could have borne.

The persecution of the protestants was very
severe at this time. Counsellor Du Bouru', a
geitleman ■ f enunent quality, and great merit,
■n'as burnt lor heresy, and the court was inclin-
ed, not only to rid France of protestantism,
but Scotland also, and sent La Brosse with
three thousand men, to assist the queen of Scot-
land in that pious design. Thiswas frustrated
by the intervention of queen Elizabeth oi Eng-
land. The pei-secution becoming every day
more intolerable, and the knig being quite in-
sccessible to the remonstrances of his peojde,
the protestants held several consultations, and
took the opinions ot their ministers, as well as
those of their noble partisans, on the question,
whetlier it were lawlul to take up arms in
their own defence, and to make Vv'ay for a h-ee
access to the king to present their petitions?
It was unanimously resolved, that it was law-
ful, and it was agreed, that a certain number
of men should be chosen, who should go on a
fixed day under the direction of Lewis prince
of Conde, present their petition lo the king,
and seize the Duke of Guise, and the cardinal
cf Lcrrain, his brother, in order to have them
tried before the states. This affair v.'as discov-
ered to the Duke by a false brother, the design
was defeated, and twelve hundred were be-
headed. Guise pretended to have suppressed
a rebellion that was designed to end in the de-
throning of the king, and by this manreuvre,
lie procnre 1 the general lieutenancy of the
kingdom, and thv glorious title of Cciisarator

of his country. He pleased the puerile kin*
by placing a few gaudy horse-guards round his
palace, and he infatuated the poor child to

Online LibraryJacques SaurinSermons of the Rev. James Saurin, late Pastor of the French Church at The Hague (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 113)