great a danger as he believed it to be; nor, above all, a danger of the kind to repel Protestants from Cathohcism, since, after all, it is in a Protestant country that the works of Madame Guyon are still read in our day. But to properly explain these points we should have to write volumes; it suffices here to throw some light on Bossuet's controversial work with this general remark: his essential purpose was to get rid of the reasons for resistance which Protestants drew from the substance or the form of Catholicism, in opposition to the reasons for reunion.
In this remark, also, is to be found the decisive answer to the question, often raised, and amply dis- cussed for some years, of the Jansenism of Bossuet. Jansenism, indeed, involves two things: the "Five Propositions" — a doctrine, or a heresy, formally and solemnly condemned; and a general tendency, very much like that of Calvin, to rationalize Christian morality and even dogma. So far as Jansenism is a heresy, Bossuet was never a Jansenist; but so far as it is a mere tendency, an intellectual disposition and a tendency to effect a mutual drawing together of reason and faith, it is scarcely possible to deny that he leaned towards Jansenism. Quite apart from the satisfaction which his ovm genius, naturaUy at- tracted to order and to clarity, found in this con- cQiation of reason and faith, he judged tliis the most propitious ground of all for the reconciliation of Protestantism with Catholicism. But to this it should be added at once that Bossuet, while not adding to the difficulties of faith, made it a con- dition that care must be taken not to trench upon faith, and this trait it is which completes the picture of Bo.ssuet's character. Tradition has never had a more eloquent or a more vigorous defender. Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est; this was for Bossuet, in a manner, the absolute criterion of Catholic truth. He had no difficulty in deducing from it "the immutability of morality or of dogma"; and in tliis precisely, as is well known, consists his great argument against the Protestants. The "History of the Variations of the Protestant churches" is nothing more than a history of the alterations, it one may say so, to which the Protes- tant Churches have subjected dogma, and the ad- justments or adaptations of dogma which they have pretended to make to circumstances that had nothing but what was transitory and contingent. But "the truth which comes from God possesses from the first its complete perfection", and from that it follows that as many "variations" as there are, so many "errors" are there in faith, since they are so many contradictions or omissions of tradition.
This point has been reserved for the last in the present article, because no other trait of Bossuet's genius seems to have gone further towards estab- lishing the common conception of it. It is easy to see that that conception is not altogether false; but neither is it altogether true, nor, above all, fair when, as is often done, it is extended from the genius of the controversialist or theologian to the character of the man himself. Tradition, we repeat, has had no more eloquent or more implacable champion; it has had none more sincere; but tradition such as he comprehended it is not all of the past, for so understood it would include even heresy and schism. Tradition, for Bossuet as for the Catholic Church, is only what has survived of the past. If Nestorian Christianities stiU exist to-day — and some do exist — they are as if they were not, and Nestorianism does not on that account constitute a part of tradition. It would, and does, constitute a part of the tradition of Free Thought. But for the Church, tradition is only what she has thought herself obliged to pre- serve out of those doctrines which have succeeded one another in the course of her development , among which she has made her choice in virtue of her
magisterium , retaining some, rejecting others, without even being always obliged to condemn the latter. It can be proved, on the other hand, that, thus under- stood, tradition in the writings of Bossuet, and on his lips when he invokes it, does not exclude re- ligious progress, even if, perhaps, the former does not postulate the latter as a condition. And already, doubtless, it is beginning to be half seen that the true Bossuet, even in theology, even in his long combats with the heretics, was not the unbending, irreconcilable man he is commonly painted.
This will be still better seen if we reflect that a great writer is not always the man of his style. In his sermons as in his wTitings, it would be impossible to deny that Bo.ssuet has an imperious and au- thoritative style. He counsels nothing which he does not command, or which he does not impose; and to evePf'thing which he advances he communicates the character and force of a demonstration by his manner of expressing it. Not that many pages of a different tenor might not be cited from him, and some such will be found notably in liis " Uplifting of the Soul", his "Meditations", or his "Sermons for Festivals of the Virgin". But the habitual qual- ity of his style, for all that, remains, as we have said, imperious and authoritative, because it is in harmony with the nature of his mind, which demands first and foremost clearness, certainty, and order. It may be said of him that, seeing all things in their relation to Providence, he expresses nothing except under the aspect of eternity. A great poet in later times has said: "Qu'est-ce que tout cela qui n'est pas ^ternel", and, looked at in this light, there is a perfect agreement between the style and the thought of Bossuet. But as to his character the same thing cannot be said; here everj' testimony aUke shows us in this writer, whose accent seems to brook no con- tradiction, the most gentle, the most affable, and sometimes the most hesitating of men.
Such was the true Bossuet. In his life we cannot always find the daring of his eloquence, nor in his conduct the audacity of his reasoning. This great dominator of the ideas — one might even say of the intelligences — of his time siiffered himself to be dominated more than once by the thoroughly human dread of being disagreeable and, above all, of giving offence. "He has no joints", he himself said of one of the gentlemen of Port Royal who was somewhat lacking in flexibility; to which the in- dividual in question retort«d: "And as for him, you may tell him that he has no bones!" The strong, concise mot sums up all the reproaches that can be made against this great memory. Had his strength of character and his apostolic vigour equalled the force of his genius, he would have been a St. Augus- tine. Falling short of St. Augustine, a CathoUc and a Frenchman may be permitted to believe that it is still something rare, sometliing exalted among men to have been merely Jacques B^nigne Bossuet.
De Burig.n-y, Vie de Bossuet (1731); de Baus.set. Histaire de Bossuet (4 vols., 1814): Floquet, Etudes sur la vie de Bossuet (4 vols., 1855-70 — the-^e four volumes, unfortunately, do not go beyond 1681): Reaume. Histoire de Bossuet l3 vols.. 1869); Lanson. Bossuet (1890); Rebelliau in Grands f<-niain« iran^ais; Bossuet; Journal de I'abbc Le Dieu (4 vols.. 1850-57 : Delmont, Auiour de Bossuet; Leb.\bcq. Histoire de la j/n^i- cation de Bossuet il8S8).
For an almost complete list of historical works and literary criticism which deal with Bo.ssuet, of. Bourseaud. Histoire et description des manuscrits et des editions originaUs dte ouvrages de Bossuet, with an indication of the translations of them, and of the writings which they occasioned at the time of their publication (Paris. 1897); Urbain in Bibliothique de bibliographies critiques (Paris, Soci^t^ des Etudes historiquest.
Bost, Arxold. See Trithemius.
Boste (or Bo.ist), John. Venerable, priest and martjT, b. of good Catholic family at Dufton, in Westmoreland, about 1544; d. at Durham, 24 July, 1.594. He studied at Queen's College, Oxford, 1569-