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sincerity; it appeared in all his words and actions, and his promises were inviolable. He delighted in prayer, to which he gave a large part of his time; and he never said any prayer, or performed any religious office, with precipitation, whatever business of importance might be on his hands, or however he might be pressed for time. In giving audience, and in the greatest hurry of business, his countenance, his modesty, and all his words, shewed that he was full of the recollection of God. His spirit of prayer, and the love of God which filled his heart, gave to him remarkably the power of exciting and encouraging others to religion. A short address, even a single word or action, sometimes produced the most powerful effects in animating his clergy to repentance and to virtue.
This great and good man died in 1584, in the forty-seventh year of his age; with the same piety and sanctity which adorned his short but admirable life.
FRANCIS DE SALES was born of noble parents in Savoy, and was remarkable for a spirit of piety and meekness from his earliest years. His mother taught him to venerate the Church and religion : she read to him the lives of holy men; brought him with her to visit the poor, and made him distribute her alms to them. Having studied theology and law at the universities of Paris and Padua, his parents intended that he should follow the legal profession, and they had already obtained a lucrative and important office from the Duke of Savoy for him; but Francis had resolved to devote himself to the sacred ministry, and declined so advantageous an establishment. Through the intervention and entreaties of a relative, his parents were at length, with much difficulty, persuaded to accede to his wishes, and he then was appointed to a dignity in
the Church, and was ordained deacon. His diocesan, the bishop of Annecy, immediately employed him in preaching, in which he was eminently successful, as his sermons were always the result of fervent prayer. He was observed to decline whatever might gain the applause of the world; and he preferred resorting to the habitations of the poor, and to the rural districts, rather than preaching before the great and opulent. In 1591, the first year of his ministry, he instituted a society at Annecy, the associates of which were obliged to instruct the ignorant, to comfort and exhort the sick and prisoners, and to abstain from all lawsuits.
In 1594 the Duke of Savoy having conquered Geneva, and some of the adjoining parts of Switzerland, Francis de Sales was commissioned to preach in those parts to the reformed. Impressed, like the rest of his communion, with the mistaken notion that the Roman pontiff is, by Divine appointment, the centre of catholic unity, he of course viewed the reformed as separated from the true Church, and he laboured for their conversion for several years. He was much respected by Beza, and the rest of the reformed in Switzerland; and the excellence of his own character, and the piety and meekness which he always evinced, probably did much more for his cause than any other arguments by which it was sustained. The plague at one time raged violently in the place where he resided, but this did not deter him from assisting the sick in their last moments by day and night; and he was wonderfully preserved in the pestilence, which carried off several of the clergy who aided him. In 1599 he became coadjutor of the bishop of Annecy, with the right of succession to that see; and soon after was obliged to go to France, where he was received by all ranks and classes with the utmost distinction. He preached
before the king, who endeavoured to detain him in France by promises of a large pension, and of the first vacant bishopric; but Francis de Sales declined all these offers; and returning to the poor bishopric of Annecy, was soon after, on the death of his predecessor, consecrated its pastor in 1602. He now laid down a plan of life, to which he ever after rigorously adhered. He resolved to wear no expensive clothing; to have no paintings except of a devotional character in his house; to possess no splendid furniture; to use no coach or carriage, but make his visitations on foot. His family was to consist of two priests, one to act as his chaplain, the other to superintend his servants and temporalities ; his table to be plain and frugal. He resolved to be present at all religious and devotional meetings and festivals in the churches; to distribute abundant alms; to visit the sick and poor in person; to rise every day at four, meditate for an hour, read private service, then prayers with his family; then to read the Scripture; celebrate the holy eucharist; and afterwards apply to business till dinner. He then gave an hour to conversation, and spent the remainder of the afternoon in business and prayer. After supper he read a pious book to his family for an hour; then prayed with them, and retired to his private devotions and to rest. Such was the general mode of life of this excellent man.
Immediately after he became bishop, he applied himself to preaching, and to all the other duties of his station. He was very cautious in conferring holy orders, ordaining but few clergy, and only after a most rigid examination of their qualifications. He was also exceedingly diligent in promoting the instruction of the ignorant by catechising on Sundays and holydays; and his personal labours in this respect had a very great influence in persuading
the clergy of his diocese to follow so good an example. He still continued to delight in preaching in small villages and to the poorest people, whom he regarded as the special objects of his care. He had a very wide correspondence on religious subjects; and composed several books full of piety and devotion, but of course not altogether free from the superstitions of his age and communion. His compassion was so excited by the unhappy condition of a poor deaf and dumb man, that he received him into his own family, taught him by signs, and instructed him in religion. He founded a new order of nuns, in which few bodily austerities were practised, and no great burdens of religious observances were imposed; his object being to render it suitable even for the sickly and weak.
The same disinterested spirit which he had early manifested always continued. When he was solicited by Henry IV., king of France, to accept an abbey of large income, he refused it, saying, "that he dreaded riches as much as others desired them; and that the less he had of them, the less he should have to answer for." The same prince offered to name him to the dignity of cardinal at the next promotion; but he replied, that though he did not despise the proffered dignity, he was persuaded that great titles did not suit him, and might raise new obstacles to his salvation. His conscientious firmness was also remarkable. On one occasion the parliament of Chambery in Savoy seized his temporalities for refusing, at its desire, to publish an ecclesiastical censure which he thought uncalled for by the circumstances of the case. When he heard of the seizure of his possessions, he said that he thanked God for teaching him by it, "that a bishop is altogether spiritual." He did not desist from preaching, or apply to the sovereign for redress;
but behaved in so kind and friendly a manner to those who had insulted him most grossly, that at length the parliament became ashamed of its proceedings, and restored his temporalities.
In 1619 he accompanied the Cardinal of Savoy to Paris, to demand the sister of King Louis XIII. in marriage for the prince of Piedmont. While he was in that city he preached a course of Lent sermons, which, aided by his conferences, the example of his holy life, and the sweetness of his discourse, most powerfully moved, not only the devout, but even libertines and atheists. He was entreated, for the sake of his health, not to preach twice in the day. He replied, with a smile, "that it cost him much less to preach a sermon than to find an excuse for himself when invited to perform that office. God had appointed him to be a pastor and a preacher, and ought not every one to follow his profession?" Amongst his common sayings was this, "That truth must be always charitable, for bitter zeal does harm rather than good. Reprehensions are a food of hard digestion, and ought to be dressed on a fire of burning charity so well, that all harshness be taken away; otherwise, like unripe fruit, they will only produce pains. Charity seeks not itself nor its own interests, but purely the honour and interests of God. Pride, vanity, and passion, cause bitterness and harshness. A remedy injudiciously applied may be a poison. A judicious silence is always better than a truth spoken without charity." On one occasion, seeing a vicious and scandalous priest thrown into prison, he fell at his feet, and, with tears, conjured him to have compassion on him his pastor, on religion which he scandalised, and on his own soul. The man was so deeply impressed by this conduct, that he was entirely converted, and became a virtuous man from that moment.