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assiduously in the instruction of his flock, and though both learned and eloquent, was studious to accommodate his discourses to the
capacities of his hearers. He was at length invited to Paris, and preached before the king, and obtained in 1669, without any solicitation, the bishoprick of Condom.
But being appointed in 1670, Preceptor to the Dauphin, he resigned his bishoprick, that he might devote himself more entirely to that important office. When he had completed the education of the Prince, Lewis XIV. advanced him, as a recompence for his attention and fidelity, to the see of Meaux. He was also made a Counsellor of State, and first Almoner to the Duchess of Burgundy. These offices he held till the 12th April 1704, on which day he died at Paris, in the 76th
year He wrote much; but his works are chiefly polemical. He took great part in the disputes which were carried on with the Protestants, although he was no advocate for the infallibility of the Pope, or his power of deposing kings; both which pretensions he zealously opposed, and refused the Cardinal's hat, which was offered him by Pope Innocent XI. as an inducement for him to remain silent upon those subjects.
of his age.
His Funeral Orations have been much admired. They are certainly able compositions ; and some of them record the praises of worthy and excellent characters; but it is painful to observe so much eloquence wasted on so unworthy an individual as the crafty and implacable Le Tellier.
Bossuet was, however, bold in expressing his opinions before his superiors. In a dispute betwixt himself and Fenelon, while the king was present, he expressed his opinion with so much warmth, as led the king to say, " What would you have done if I had taken part with Fenelon against you?” Bossuet replied, " I would have spoken ten times as loud.” On another occasion, as he had inveighed against theatrical exhibitions, to which Lewis was addicted, the monarch took an opportunity to ask him what he thought of attending them? To which he replied, “ For it there are great examples, and against it strong arguments.'
His Universal History, which has ever been considered his principal work, was composed while he was Preceptor to the Dauphin, and was chiefly intended for the use of that Prince. He has so well pointed out in his introduction the extensive usefulness of history in general, and of a chronological abridgment of it in par
ticular, that it is unnecessary to say any thing here on those subjects. He was, indeed, the first who produced a true general history, which, like a map, according to his own excellent comparison, collects and arranges, in one great and consistent plan, with perfect symmetry and correctness, the most material events of every nation from the beginning of time in their due situation, connection, and order.
This, however, is not the sole merit of his work, which derives great part of its value from the skill with which the history of religion is combined with that of the world, and the care which is taken throughout to shew the importance of the former, by the series of events exhibited in the latter. Every where he shews the over-ruling Providence of Him, who
“ Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm ;"
and shews, in the turbulence of human affairs, the execution of his designs, the performance of his promises, and the fulfilment of those threatenings which he has denounced against tyrants, and impious nations. It must, however, be remembered, that Mr. Bossuet was a catholic, and indeed a zealous one; of course he will be expected to speak as a Catholic. A few sentences have been passed over in this translation, where the expression of his peculiar tenets had no bearing upon the subject which occasioned them, but it has not been thought right to omit others, which would have broken the thread of the discourse, without any material advantage.
It is hoped that a faithful idea of the style of the author will be conveyed, and that this translation will be found to retain both the lucid order and force of the original.