Books Should Be Free is now
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

The Existence of God   By: (1651-1715)

Book cover

First Page:

Transcribed by David Price, email



An ancestor of the French divine who under the name of Fenelon has made for himself a household name in England as in France, was Bertrand de Salignac, Marquis de la Mothe Fenelon, who in 1572, as ambassador for France, was charged to soften as much as he could the resentment of our Queen Elizabeth when news came of the massacre of St. Bartholomew. Our Fenelon, claimed in brotherhood by Christians of every denomination, was born nearly eighty years after that time, at the chateau of Fenelon in Perigord, on the 6th of August, 1651. To the world he is Fenelon; he was Francois de Salignac de la Mothe Fenelon to the France of his own time.

Fenelon was taught at home until the age of twelve, then sent to the University of Cahors, where he began studies that were continued at Paris in the College du Plessis. There he fastened upon theology, and there he preached, at the age of fifteen, his first sermon. He entered next into the seminary of Saint Sulpice, where he took holy orders in the year 1675, at the age of twenty four. As a priest, while true to his own Church, he fastened on Faith, Hope, and Charity as the abiding forces of religion, and for him also the greatest of these was Charity.

During the next three years of his life Fenelon was among the young priests who preached and catechised in the church of St. Sulpice and laboured in the parish. He wrote for St. Sulpice Litanies of the Infant Jesus, and had thought of going out as missionary to the Levant. The Archbishop of Paris, however, placed him at the head of a community of "New Catholics," whose function was to confirm new converts in their faith, and help to bring into the fold those who appeared willing to enter. Fenelon took part also in some of the Conferences on Scripture that were held at Saint Germain and Versailles between 1672 and 1685. In 1681 an uncle, who was Bishop of Sarlat, resigned in Fenelon's favour the Deanery of Carenas, which produced an annual income of three or four thousand livres. It was while he held this office that Fenelon published a book on the "Education of Girls," at the request of the Duchess of Beauvilliers, who asked for guidance in the education of her children.

Fenelon sought the friendship of Bossuet, who revised for him his next book, a "Refutation of the System of Malebranche concerning Nature and Grace." His next book, written just before the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, opposed the lawfulness of the ministrations of the Protestant clergy; and after the Edict, Fenelon was, on the recommendation of Bossuet, placed at the head of the Catholic mission to Poitou. He brought to his work of conversion or re conversion Charity, and a spirit of concession that brought on him the attacks of men unlike in temper.

When Louis XIV. placed his grandson, the young Duke of Burgundy, under the care of the Duke of Beauvilliers, the Duke of Beauvilliers chose Fenelon for teacher of the pupil who was heir presumptive to the throne. Fenelon's "Fables" were written as part of his educational work. He wrote also for the young Duke of Burgundy his "Telemaque" used only in MS. and his "Dialogues of the Dead." While thus living in high favour at Court, Fenelon sought nothing for himself or his friends, although at times he was even in want of money. In 1693 as preceptor of a royal prince rather than as author Fenelon was received into the French Academy. In 1694 Fenelon was made Abbot of Saint Valery, and at the end of that year he wrote an anonymous letter to Louis XIV. upon wrongful wars and other faults committed in his reign. A copy of it has been found in Fenelon's handwriting. The king may not have read it, or may not have identified the author, who was not stayed by it from promotion in February of the next year (1695) to the Archbishopric of Cambray. He objected that the holding of this office was inconsistent with his duties as preceptor of the King's grandchildren... Continue reading book >>

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books