« PrécédentContinuer »
Tag name of Saurin, as a preacher and a ply; bțing thoroughly convinced that no com-
To one advantage only over my predecesThe late Reverend Robert Robinson, of sor do I presume to lay claim, congeniality of Cambridge, has given a very good translation sentiment with my author on certain points of of five volumes of the Sermons' of Saurin, doctrine, of rites and ceremonies, of church disselected from twelve, of which the original cipline, and some others, in which Mr. Roconsists ; to these he has prefixed Memoirs of binson differs from him. There must be mathe Reformation in France,' and of Saurin's ny passages, accordingly, which he disapprovLife.' This work has been so well received ed while he translated; and some sermons he all over Great Britain, that a third large im. probably omitted altogether, because they copression of it is already nearly exhausted : a incided not with his religious belief. Under striking proof, surely, of the author's extraor. this disadvantage I did not labour in executing dinary merit as a Christian orator, especially my task ; as I agree in almost every point if it be considered that this approbation is ex- with my great original, and possibly translatpressed in an age and a country daily enriched with peculiar satisfaction what Mr. Robined with original displays of pulpit eloqueno 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 priBut the public, it would appear, is still dis- vate judgment, and, I trust, practise the same posed to receive more of Mr. Saurin's Ser- candour and forbearance which he and I mons, for I have been frequently and importu- thought ourselves obliged by precept and by nately solicited to undertake the translation of example to recom end.
.H. what ramains: a request with which, I ac- BETHNAL-GREEN Road, knowledge, I felt no great reluctance to com- 241h June, 1798.
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 ciation, in the day thou eatest of the fruit face, because thou art yet alive,' Gen. xlvi. of the tree of good and evil, thou shalt surely 30. This was the exclamation of an affec- die?' Gen. ii. 17. Did so many oracles, which tionate father; might I not have said, of a announce a Redeemer, proceed from God, or weakly affectionate father, on a memorable from men? Is it possible that the love of God occasion in his life. If such an emotion savour should rise so high, as to immolate his own not of heroism, it is at least an effusion of na- Son in the room of the guilty? In a word, is ture. Joseph had been the centre of a fond the expectation of Israel well founded, or is it parent's tenderest affections. Jacob had for chimerical? The promise is at last fulfillmore than twenty years been impressed with led: that divine infant at last appeara, whom the belief that this dearly beloved son was God had prepared before the face of all peodevoured by an evil beast. He displayed eve- ple, a light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory token of affliction that could be expressed ry of Israel,' Luke i. 31, 32. Already has an by the paternal heart, on the loss of a child, a angel of the Lord announced his advent to the darling child, thus cruelly torn from him. shepherds : already has a multitude of the After so many years of mourning, he is in heavenly host made the air resound with formed that his son is yet alive, that he is ex- these triumphant strains, 'glory to God in alted to the most eminent state of power and the highest, and on earth peace, good will tosplendour which the king of Egypt could be- wards men,' Luke ii. 14. Already have the stow ; that he had sent to bring his father sages of the east arrived to render him sudown to him. Every instant now appears an preme homage, as to their sovereign. What age to the good old man, till the period of their remained to Simeon, after having seen the reunion arrives. Every thing that retards Saviour of the world, but to take possession of the accomplishment of his wishes seems to de- the long expected salvation? He aecording. seat it. He trembles to think on the length of ly takes the child in his arms : his faith is the way, on the dangers of such a journey, on now changed into vision, and his hope into his own debilitated frame. He departs at enjoyment, and he in transport exclaims, 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 This devout rapture is to be the subject of bedewed with the tears of filial love. Joy de our present discourse, and its import we shall prives him of the powers of utterance, and attempt to unfold, after having made a few rewith difficulty the faultering tongue can pro- fections of a different kind, tending to elucinounce the words which Moses, if I may be al. date the text. lowed the expression, seems to have derived 1. We are to make a few preliminary re from the bowels of paternal tenderness : 'Now flections, for elucidating the text. And here let me die, since I have seen thy face, because it is natural, in the first place, to inquire, who thou art yet alive.'
this Simeon was, who acts such a distinguished A greater than Jacob, my brethren, or ra- part, at this period of the gospel history? But ther a greater than Joseph, is here. Simeon all that can be added to the narration of the had received from God the assurance of hav- evangelist is merely a tissue of conjectural ing his life prolonged till his eyes should see traditions palpably false, or, at best, extremely the promised Messiah. On the accomplish- uncertain. Cardinal Baronius,* on the au ment of that promise depended the solution of thority of some ancient doctors of the church, these anxious inquiries, so interesting to the insists that he must have been of the sacerdowretched posterity of Adam :-Is there any mitigation to be expected of that fatal denun- * Annal. Eccles. Antv. 1612. A. C. 1. p. 58. tom. I.
tal order. This they attempt to prove from that is, for the Messiah. This phraseology the words of the passage under review, He was adopted by the ancient Jews, and is still in took the infant Jesus in his arms,' as if to pre- use among the modern. “The years of the sent him to the Lord; an idea not supported consolation,'*, is a usual expression employed by any one of the circumstances recorded in by them to denote the years of the Messiah. the gospel. Certain modern doctors* believe One of their most solemn oaths is that which him to have been the son of the celebrated appeals to the consolation : and one of their Hillel, who was chief of the sect of the Pha- most common formularies is to this effect ; .So risees. They even go so far as to assert, that may I see the consolation, as I have done such he was the father of that Gamaliel at whose or such a thing; so may I see the consolation, feet Paul was brought up. With respect to his as my testimony is consistent with truth. The condition, a variety of fables are retailed de- prophets themselves employ the same style: scriptive of his person; such as that he was Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your blind,t and recovered his sight on receiving God: speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, our Saviour into his arms: and that other, of Isa. xl. 1. The spirit of the Lord God is his being one of the interpreters of the Sep- upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me tuagint version :# that having found many pas- to preach good tidings unto the meek . . . to sages which predicted that the Messiah was proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, to be born of a Virgin, he refused to translate and to comfort all that mourn.' Isa. Ixi. them; nay, that he substituted the term Wo. 1, 2. 'Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, o man in place of Virgin, in translating the not- earth; and break forth into singing, O mouned prediction of Isaiah' vii. 14: that having tains ; for the Lord hath comforted his peoclosed his tablets, on opening them to resume ple,' Isa. xlix. 13. his labour, he found the word Virgin miracu- It were easy to prove, that these are so malously substituted in place of Woman ; that he ny oracular predictions, which the inspired besought God to grant him an explanation of authors of the New Testament, the only inthis wonderfnl phenomenon, and his prayer fallible interpreters of the Old, understood as was answered: once more ;s that having seen descriptive of the Messiah. And proofs would in the temple various women presenting their multiply upon us without end, were we more children, he had distinguished the holy Virgin particularly to undertake to demonstrate, that by certain rays of light which surrounded her the title of the consolation is peculiarly adaptperson, on which he thus addressed the other ed to our Lord Jesus Christ: but however inmothers : • Wherefore do you present these structive such reflections might be of themchildren before the altar? Turn round, and selves, they would carry us too far from the behold this one, who is more ancient than present object of pursuit. Abraham. Fictions, of no higher authority We could only wish, that the faith of Simeon than what is farther related of him, namely, might assist you in forming an idea of the state that the Jews,ll jealous of his talents and vir- of the Jewish church prior to the coming of tues, and, more especially, scandalized at the the Messiah. Believers, under that dispensatestimony which he had borne to Jesus Christ, tion, entertained the same expectation with had refused him the honours of sepulchre : Simeon : like him they waited for the consothat his remains, after having reposed a long lation of Israel.' time at Constantinople, in a chapel dedicated We by no means presume to affirm that by James, denominated the Less, were con- their ideas on this subject were exempted from veyed to Venice** in the thirteenth century. prejudice. We well know that they assigned
Dropping, then, legends of such doubtful to most of the oracles, which announced a Reauthority, let us satisfy ourselves with exhi- deemer, a sense conformable to the colour of biting Simeon under three authentic charac- their passions. Isaiah, who represented him ters, which while they lead us to an acquain- as despised and rejected of men;' Isa. liii. 3, tance with the man himself, will give us an had, undoubtedly, a more just conception of idea of the state of the Jewish nation, at the him than the sons of Zebedee adopted, Mark era of the Messiah's birth. The first respects x. 37, when they requested of him the most the faith of Simeon; "he waited for the conso- distinguished honours of his kingdom. Daniel, lation of Israel.' The second respects his piety who predicted that “Messiah should be cut and moral conduct; "he was just and devout.' off,' Dan. ix. 26, entered, undoubtedly, much The third respects his gifts and privileges; more profoundly into the view of his coming he was divinely inspired, and it was revealed into the world, than Peter did, who having to him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not heard him speak of the death which he was see death, before he had seen the Lord's to suffer, began to rebuke him, saying, Be it Christ.'
far from thee Lord : this shall not be unto 1. 'He waited for the consolation of Israel,' thee,' Matt. xvi. 22; Job, who contemplated
him by the eye of faith, as standing at the * Consult Lightfoot, tom. 2. Horse Hebr. in Luc. latter day upon the earth,' Job xix. 25, 26; ii. 25. p. 498. Rot, 1686,
and who hoped to behold him eye to eye, † Baronius ut supra.
Allatius de Eccl. Occid, Col. 1648. Niceph. Hist, even after worms should have destroyed his Eccl. lib. i. cap, 2, Paris, 1630.
body,' knew incomparably better the blessings Baronius ut supra. From a passage of St. Epiphanius misunderstood those grovelling spirits who expected from him
which he was to purchase for mankind, than See Epiph. tom. 2. de Vit. Proph. p. 150. Paris 169. Codin. Orig. Const. p. 56.
temporal enjoyments merely. Even those of ** Tillemont, Memoir. Eccles. tom. i. p. 418. Par.
* Lighisoot, in