Jacques Bénigne Bossuet

[Jacques Benigne Bossuet] Bishop and pulpit orator, born Dijon, France, 1627; died Paris, France, 1704. He was educated at the Jesuit college in Dijon and in Paris, where he was ordained, 1652, after a retreat made under the direction of Saint Vincent de Paul. After holding the post of archdeacon in Metz for seven years, he returned to Paris where he devoted all his attention to preaching. Appointed Bishop of Condom, 1669, he resigned, 1670, upon being chosen as preceptor of the Dauphin. When his duties ended, 1681, he became Bishop of Meaux. He took a prominent part in the Assembly of the French Clergy, 1682, and averted a schism. Bossuet is known chiefly for his sermons and funeral orations, but he also ranks high as an historian, a controversialist, and an ascetic writer. His best-known historical works are: "Discours sur l'Histoire Universelle," a philosophy of history, and "History of the Variation of the Protestant Churches." In his controversy with Fenelon on quietism, he shows himself unnecessarily harsh and bitter. He is ultra-conservative in his dispute with Richard Simon on the critical study of the Scriptures. His ascetical works comprise numerous letters of direction, "Elevations sur les Mysteres," and "Meditations sur l'Evangile." The French consider him the greatest master of pulpit eloquence and have surnamed him "The Eagle of Meaux." The best complete edition of his works is that of Guillaume (Bar-le-Duc). The funeral orations were edited by A. Gaste (Paris, 1883), the sermons by Abbe Lebarq (Paris, 1890).

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