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Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France Volume 2: The Religion of the People and the Politics of Religion$
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John McManners

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198270041

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198270046.001.0001

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(p.58) 24 Sermons
Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France Volume 2: The Religion of the People and the Politics of Religion

John McManners

Oxford University Press

The people of eighteenth‐century France could attend ‘sermons innumerable’, not only at religious festivals but also for every civic and national occasion. An abundance of technical advice and models to follow were available to preachers, imposing length and structure and suggesting how to fulfil the needs and desires of audiences, using sermons written out in advance and learnt by heart. It was agreed that the reign of Louis XIV had been the great age of the sermon, making a direct appeal to the heart, but the eighteenth century did not produce great orators to rival those of the late seventeenth. As the century wore on, the principal tendency came to be to concentrate on questions of morality and humanitarian generosity, reflecting both the influence of the Enlightenment and of the Counter‐Reformation desire to bring conduct into line with belief.

Keywords:   Enlightenment, morality, preaching, rhetoric

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