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BY THE REV. HENRY HUNTER, D.D.
THE name of SAURIN, as a preacher and a ply; being thoroughly convinced that no comScripture critic, is so well known, and so positions of the kind are more calculated to be highly respected, as to render any panegyric useful to mankind. By the reception given or recommendation of mine altogether unneto this volume I shall be enabled to detercessary. His great work entitled Discour-mine whether it is proper to desist, or to ses 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, Esq., 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 heing 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 impression 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 peculiar satisfaction what Mr. Robined with original displays of pulpit eloquence son had reluctantly, or saw it his duty entireand whose taste is rendered fastidious by pro-ly to leave out. His readers and mine will, fusion and variety of excellence. 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,
To one 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 omitted altogether, because they coincided not with his religious belief. Under this disadvantage I did not labour in executing my task; as I agree in almost every point with my great original, and possibly translat
24th June, 1798.
But the public, it would appear, is still disposed to receive more of Mr. Saurin's Sermons, for I have been frequently and importunately solicited to undertake the translation of what ramains: a request with which, I acknowledge, I felt no great reluctance to com
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.
LUKE ii. 25-30.
And behold there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed to him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law; then he took him up in his arms, and blessed God. and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.
'Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive,' Gen. xlvi. 30. This was the exclamation of an affectionate father; might I not have said, of a weakly affectionate father, on a memorable occasion in his life. If such an emotion savour not of heroism, it is at least an effusion of nature. Joseph had been the centre of a fond parent's tenderest affections. Jacob had for more than twenty years been impressed with the belief that this dearly beloved son was devoured by an evil beast. He displayed ry token of affliction that could be expressed by the paternal heart, on the loss of a child, a darling child, thus cruelly torn from him. After so many years of mourning, he is informed that his son is yet alive, that he is exalted to the most eminent state of power and splendour which the king of Egypt could bestow; that he had sent to bring his father down to him. Every instant now appears an age to the good old man, till the period of their reunion arrives. Every thing that retards the accomplishment of his wishes seems to defeat it. He trembles to think on the length of the way, on the dangers of such a journey, on his own debilitated frame. He departs at length, he reaches the desired haven: he be-Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in holds with his eyes the endeared object of so peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes many earnest prayers. He feels himself in have seen thy salvation.' the embrace of his Joseph, he feels his visage bedewed with the tears of filial love. Joy deprives him of the powers of utterance, and with difficulty the faultering tongue can pronounce the words which Moses, if I may be allowed the expression, seems to have derived from the bowels of paternal tenderness: Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.'
ciation, in the day thou eatest of the fruit of the tree of good and evil, thou shalt surely die?' Gen. ii. 17. Did so many oracles, which announce a Redeemer, proceed from God, or from men? Is it possible that the love of God should rise so high, as to immolate his own Son in the room of the guilty? In a word, is the expectation of Israel well founded, or is it chimerical? The promise is at last fulfilled: that divine infant at last appears, whom God had prepared before the face of all peoeve-ple, a light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory of Israel,' Luke ii. 31, 32. Already has an angel of the Lord announced his advent to the shepherds: already has a multitude of the heavenly host made the air resound with these triumphant strains, 'glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men,' Luke ii. 14. Already have the sages of the east arrived to render him supreme homage, as to their sovereign. What remained to Simeon, after having seen the Saviour of the world, but to take possession of the long expected salvation? He according ly takes the child in his arms: his faith is now changed into vision, and his hope into enjoyment, and he in transport exclaims,
A greater than Jacob, my brethren, or rather a greater than Joseph, is here. Simeon had received from God the assurance of having his life prolonged till his eyes should see the promised Messiah. On the accomplishment of that promise depended the solution of these anxious inquiries, so interesting to the wretched posterity of Adam :-Is there any mitigation to be expected of that fatal denun
This devout rapture is to be the subject of our present discourse, and its import we shall attempt to unfold, after having made a few reflections of a different kind, tending to elucidate the text.
I. We are to make a few preliminary re flections, for elucidating the text. And here it is natural, in the first place, to inquire, who this Simeon was, who acts such a distinguished part, at this period of the gospel history? But all that can be added to the narration of the evangelist is merely a tissue of conjectural traditions palpably false, or, at best, extremely uncertain. Cardinal Baronius,* on the au thority of some ancient doctors of the church, insists that he must have been of the sacerdo
*Annal. Eccles. Antv. 1612. A. C. 1. p. 58. tom. 1.
tal order. This they attempt to prove from the words of the passage under review, He took the infant Jesus in his arms,' as if to present him to the Lord; an idea not supported by any one of the circumstances recorded in the gospel. Certain modern doctors* believe him to have been the son of the celebrated Hillel, who was chief of the sect of the Pharisees. They even go so far as to assert, that he was the father of that Gamaliel at whose feet Paul was brought up. With respect to his condition, a variety of fables are retailed descriptive of his person; such as that he was blind, and recovered his sight on receiving our Saviour into his arms: and that other, of his being one of the interpreters of the Septuagint version; that having found many passages which predicted that the Messiah was to be born of a Virgin, he refused to translate them; nay, that he substituted the term Wo-1, man in place of Virgin, in translating the noted prediction of Isaiah vii. 14: that having closed his tablets, on opening them to resume his labour, he found the word Virgin miraculously substituted in place of Woman; that he besought God to grant him an explanation of this wonderful phenomenon, and his prayer was answered: once more; that having seen in the temple various women presenting their children, he had distinguished the holy Virgin by certain rays of light which surrounded her person, on which he thus addressed the other mothers: Wherefore do you present these children before the altar? Turn round, and behold this one, who is more ancient than Abraham.' Fictions, of no higher authority than what is farther related of him, namely, that the Jews,|| jealous of his talents and virtues, and, more especially, scandalized at the testimony which he had borne to Jesus Christ, had refused him the honours of sepulchre: that his remains, after having reposed a long time at Constantinople, in a chapel dedicated by James, denominated the Less, were conveyed to Venice** in the thirteenth century. Dropping, then, legends of such doubtful authority, let us satisfy ourselves with exhibiting Simeon under three authentic characters, which while they lead us to an acquaintance with the man himself, will give us an idea of the state of the Jewish nation, at the era of the Messiah's birth. The first respects the faith of Simeon; 'he waited for the consolation of Israel.' The second respects his piety and moral conduct; he was just and devout.' The third respects his gifts and privileges; 'he was divinely inspired, and it was revealed to him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.'
It were easy to prove, that these are so many oracular predictions, which the inspired authors of the New Testament, the only infallible interpreters of the Old, understood as descriptive of the Messiah. And proofs would multiply upon us without end, were we more particularly to undertake to demonstrate, that the title of the consolation is peculiarly adapted to our Lord Jesus Christ: but however instructive such reflections might be of themselves, they would carry us too far from the present object of pursuit.
We could only wish, that the faith of Simeon might assist you in forming an idea of the state of the Jewish church prior to the coming of the Messiah. Believers, under that dispensation, entertained the same expectation with Simeon : like him they waited for the consolation of Israel.'
We by no means presume to affirm that their ideas on this subject were exempted from prejudice. We well know that they assigned to most of the oracles, which announced a Redeemer, a sense conformable to the colour of their passions. Isaiah, who represented him as 'despised and rejected of men ;' Isa. liii. 3, had, undoubtedly, a more just conception of him than the sons of Zebedee adopted, Mark x. 37, when they requested of him the most distinguished honours of his kingdom. Daniel, who predicted that Messiah should be cut off,' Dan. ix. 26, entered, undoubtedly, much more profoundly into the view of his coming into the world, than Peter did, who having heard him speak of the death which he was to suffer, began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee Lord: this shall not be unto thee,' Matt. xvi. 22; Job, who contemplated him by the eye of faith, as standing at the latter day upon the earth,' Job xix. 25, 26; and who hoped to behold him eye to eye, even after worms should have destroyed his body,' knew incomparably better the blessings which he was to purchase for mankind, than those grovelling spirits who expected from him temporal enjoyments merely. Even those of
1. He waited for the consolation of Israel,'
* Lightfoot, in supra.
*Consult Lightfoot, tom. 2. Horse Hebr. in Luc. ii. 25. p. 498. Rot. 1686.
† Baronius ut supra. Allatius de Eccl. Occid. Col. 1648. Niceph. Hist, Eccl. lib. i. cap, 2, Paris, 1630.
6 Baronius ut supra.
From a passage of St. Epiphanius misunderstood.
that is, for the Messiah. This phraseology was adopted by the ancient Jews, and is still in use among the modern. The years of the consolation, is a usual expression employed by them to denote the years of the Messiah. One of their most solemn oaths is that which appeals to the consolation: and one of their most common formularies is to this effect; 'So may I see the consolation, as I have done such or such a thing; so may I see the consolation, as my testimony is consistent with truth.' The prophets themselves employ the same style: Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God: speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem,' Isa. xl. 1. The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek... to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and to comfort all that mourn.' Isa. lxi. 2. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains; for the Lord hath comforted his people,' Isa. xlix. 13.