“Profiting from the examples of Catholic preachers and above all those of Bossuet…” Gustave Lanson, History of French Literature, concerning the Reformed preacher Jaques Saurin.
Until recent times it’s the rare Protestant preacher or theologian who would take inspiration from a Roman Catholic. Yet the works of Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704) stand by themselves, not only with some Protestants but in French literature, where no other preacher of the Gospel has a comparable place.
I discuss some of the reasons why this should be so in this piece on Bossuet. And yet he is neglected, not only by Protestants but even Roman Catholics. You seldom hear him mentioned even amongst the traditionalists. Part of the problem is that his greatest fans have, understandably, been the French, whose influence in Catholicism has generally waned with the trials the faith has experienced in that country. (We should be so foolish and arrogant to discount him on that account!)
And yet he remains the greatest preacher of them all. Eloquent, learned, entertaining but not silly like we see now, both Biblical and Augustinian in outlook, his sermons and works are a delight to those who really want to return to well-founded Christian preaching.
The purpose of this series is to present Bossuet in English in an accessible format. Most of the translations are my own; some are not.
His works, as now available, are as follows, linking to the starting instalment, the later ones are linked there:
- Elevations on the Mysteries
- Meditations on the Gospel: