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THE DANGER OF DELAYING IT.
FROM THE FRENCH OF
THE REV. JAMES SAURIN,
MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL AT THE HAGUE,
A NEW TRANSLATION, WITH INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR,
JOHN S. GIBB, F.S. E. I.,
RECTOR, ACADEMY, DALKEITH.
“Be wise to-day, 'tis madness to defer.”
HE form of the following little work in
the original is that of Sermons. As such
they appear the first three discourses in the edition of Saurin's Works published at the Hague in 1749. In reading these several years ago, as part of a course of private study, I was struck with the freshness and cogency of the reasoning as well as the earnestness and depth of feeling manifested in the treatment of a subject so vitally important. The spiritual quickening which gave so much fresh life to the Church in America, in Ireland, and in Scotland, was just beginning. The luxuriant promise of that spring-time has in great measure passed away; but not altogether without fruit. Apart from the more marked and undeniable effects of the awakening, it is certain that it accomplished a deeply-important object, in correcting the idea, that none but ministers of the gospel have any special duty laid upon them with reference to the spiritual condition of the masses around them. That idea is now felt and acknowledged to be erroneous; and, without entering upon, much less deciding, the vexed questions connected with lay agency, this is allowed on all hands—that Christians, irrespective of office, are bound to do what in them lies to improve the moral and spiritual state of all within their sphere of influence. Hence an apology is hardly needed for the share the translator has had in the following work.
A word of explanation may be necessary as to the form in which it appears—a treatise, instead of detached sermons. Saurin himself seems to have felt that the sermon form was not the most advantageous for a lengthened chain of reasoning. Wefind himobserving in his introductory remarks: These reflections would doubtless be more effective together than separate. This first suggested the desirability of altering the external arrangement, if it should be possible to accomplish it without doing violence to the meaning and object of the preacher. A very cursory examination sufficed to shew, that whatever advantages might be derivable from such an alteration, they could be attained without in the slightest degree injuring the sense—nay, if we except the change of “hearers " into "readers,” and the omission of one or two sentences—not half a dozen in all-in which Saurin speaks of his intention to handle the subject in three discourses, there is absolutely no change at all. Indeed, those who may have objections to such a change, have only to read sermon, in place of part, to alter readers into hearers, and they have the matter in the original form, at least as nearly as the differing idioms of the two languages would permit.
The translator's primary object was, however humbly, to do good, by producing in a faithful and accessible form the weighty and important truths on conversion that, a century and a half ago, roused and startled as they fell burning from the preacher's lips within the palace chapel of the Hague.
Robert Robinson, of Cambridge, a Baptist, and eventually a Socinian, executed in 1775 a valuable translation in five volumes 8vo, of a selection of Saurin's sermons. This was supplemented by Dr Henry Hunter, in 1796, by a volume of discourses