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In a Letter of Mr. DUMONT, Pastor of the French
Church at ROTTERDAM, and Professor of the Oriental Languages, and Ecclesiastical History, to Mr. SAURIN at the HAGUE.
BY ROBERT ROBINSON.
ABRIEL DUMONT, author of the following essay,
was born at Crest in Dauphiny, August 19th, 1680, and died at Rotterdam, January ist, 1748. He was a "r fugee for religion, and was pastor of the Walloon church at Rotterdam, and professor of the Oriental languages and Ecclesiastical history. He published nothing himself during his life: but after his decease Mr. Superville, his colleague, published, with a short preface, one volume of his sermons, containing twelve discourses, the most plain, artless and edifying, that I ever had the happiness of reading: not so disputatious as those of Amyraut, not so grave as those of Superville, not so stiff as those of Torne and Bourdaloue, not so far-fetched and studied as those of Massillon, nor so charged with colouring as those of Saurin : but placid, ingenious, gentle, natural, and full of evidence and pathos: just as wisdom from above should be, pure, peaceable, mild, . full of mercy and good fruits .. sown in peace to make peace, James iii. 17, 18. The public owe this volume to Mademoiselle de Heuqueville, the pious patroness and friend of the author, who had as it were extorted them from him before his death.
Mr. Saurin, who published this essay in his dissertations on the bible, says, “ I follow our version, and the general sense of interpreters. A learned man (Mr. Dumont) has investigated the subject at large, and, if he doth not furnish us with demonstrations in favour of the system he, proposes, yet his conjectures are so full of erudition, and so very probable, that we cannot help admiring them, while we feel an inclination to dispute them.”
For my part, I own, if I inay venture a conjecture, I think Mr. Dumont has placed his opinion in a light both beautiful and in a very high degree probable. To sum up his meaning, he would read the passage thus.
1 SAMUEL, Chap. xxi.
Ver. 10. And David Aled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish, the king of Gath.
11. And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David the king of the land ? did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands ?
12. And David was struck to the heart with these words, and was sore afraid of Achish king of Gath.
13. And he changed countenance before them, and fell convulsed into their hands, and he hurt and marked himself against the posts of the gate, and he frothed on his beard.
14. Then said Achish unto his servants, Lo, you see the man is épileptic: wherefore then have ye brought him unto me!
15. Have I need of epileptics, that ye have brought this man to fall into convulsions in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?
CONDUCT OF DAVID
COURT OF ACHISH KING OF GATH.
May venture to call the letter I have the honour to write
to you, an Apology for the conduct of David at the court of king Achish, for my design is to prove three things: first, That if David had counterfeited madness on the occasion mentioned in the twenty-first chapter of the first book of Samuel, he would not have committed any sin. Secondly, That David did not feign himself mad, as is generally supposed. And thirdly, That this heir apparent to the crown of Israel, had not at the court of Gath the least degree of madness, either real or feigned. I. If
you were a man, who decided a point of morality by human authority, I might allege in favour of this first article the following distich of Caio,
Insi piens esto, cum tempus postulat, aut res;
(1) Disticha de moribus, lib. q. Dist. 18.