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André Terrasson

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A French preacher, born at Lyons in 1669; died at Paris, 25 April, 1723. He was the eldest son of a councillor of the Lyons presidial (court. of justice ). Entering the Congregation of the Oratory he devoted himself to preaching, and winning high reputation was called to fill important pulpits. He preached the Lenten sermons of 1717 before Louis XIV, next at the Court of Lorraine, and later twice in the metropolitan church of Paris with considerable success; the last of these series broke down his health and led to his death. His eloquent diction, which was enhanced by his outward action, was marked by nobility and simplicity of thought, by forcefulness and absence of artificiality. His good judgment led him to avoid mere brilliancy of expression and clever artifices of speech but he was sometimes cold, perhaps as a result of his Jansenistic proclivities. About fifty of his discourses, mostly delivered as Lenten lectures, are preserved, and were published at Paris (4 vols., 1726, 1736).

GASPARD, brother of the preceding, born at Lyons, Oct., 1680; died at Paris, 2 Jan., 1752. He was also a member of the Oratory, teaching humanities and afterwards philosophy. His oratorical gifts were revealed at Troyes, 1711, on delivering the funeral oration of the Dauphin, son of Louis XIV ; but he did not devote himself to the pulpit till after his brother's death, when he fulfilled several engagements which the latter had made. Soon his reputation increased beyond that of André. For five years he preached at Paris, and finally delivered a Lenten course in the Church of Notre Dame. More stubborn even than his brother, he appealed time after time against the Bull "Unigenitus" ; he even published anonymously twelve "Lettres sur la justice chrétienne" (Paris, 1733), in which, to support the Jansenists whom the bishops deprived of the sacraments, he endeavoured to prove the inutility of sacramental confession. This work was condemned by the faculty of theology at Paris (1 Sept., 1734), and by the Archbishops of Sens and Embrun, as containing erroneous, schismatical and heretical assertions. Terrasson had to leave the Oratory and abandon preaching. He withdrew to the Diocese of Auxerre where the bishop, M. de Caylus, a well-known Jansenist, confided to him the care of Treigni. But he was soon arrested (Oct., 1735) by the order of the king for his Jansenistic activities, and was confined during nine years either at Vincennes or with the Minims of Argenteuil. A belated retractation, the authenticity or sincerity of which has never been well established, was attributed to him. He was living in retirement with his family when he died. As a preacher his chief characteristics are simplicity and clearness, but at times he carries the subdivision of his matter to excess; his style is somewhat dry and lacks vigour. Like his brother he holds a high place among the orators of second rank. A volume of his discourses appeared at Utrecht in 1733, but the first real edition was at Paris in 1744 (4 vols.). The sermons of the two brothers were reprinted by Migne in his "Collection des orateurs sacrés", XXIX (Paris, 1849).

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