MASSILLON, JEAN BAPTISTE, one of the most distinguished of modern pulpit orators, was b. at Hieres, in France, June 24, 1663. His father, a notary, designed the boy for his own profession; and it was only after repeated ,and persistent efforts that Massillon obtained his father's permission to enter the congregation of the oratory iu 1681. It was while he was engaged in teaching theology in one of the houses of the congregation in the diocese of Meaux that he made his first essay in the pulpit at Vienne. His funeral oration on M.Villars, the archbishop of Vienne, was eminently successful, and led to his being called by the superiors of the oratory to Paris, where he first had the opportunity of hearing. Bourdaloue,whose style and manner, withou t being exactly taken by Massillon as a model, had great influence in forming the taste of the young aspirant. Like Bourdaloue, he avoided the declamatory manner and theatrical action then popular in the French pulpit; but the earnest impressiveness of his look and voice more than supplied the vigor and energy which other speakers sought from these adventitious aids. His course of ecclesiastical conferences, delivered in the seminary of St. Magloire, established his rep utation. The criticism of Louis XIV., after his advent course at Versailles, that " when he heard other great preachers he felt satisfied with them, but when he heard Ylassillon he felt dissatisfied with himself," well expresses the characteristics of the eloquence of this great orator,who, more than any of his contemporaries, wa,s able to lay bare the secret springs of human action, and to use the feelings and the passions of his audience as arms against themselves. He was again appointed to preach the Lent at Versailles in 1704; but although
the king was again equally warm in his admiration of the preacher, Massillon was never afterwards invited to preach in the presence of this monarch; yet his funeral oration on the prince de Conti, in 1709, was one of the greatest triumphs of his oratory. Soonafter the death of Louis XIV.,Massillon, in 1717,was named bishop of Clermont, and in the same year was appointed to preach before the young king Louis XV., for which occasion he composed his celebrated petit cargme—a series of ten sermons. It was not till 1719 that be was consecrated bishop of Clermont, in which year also he was elected a member of the academy; and in 1723 he preached the funeral oration of the duchess of Orleans, his last public discourse in Paris. From this time he lived almost entirely for his diocese, where his charity, gentleness, and amiable disposition gained him the affections of all. He died of apoplexy in 1742 at the age of 79 years. His works, consisting mainly of sermons and other similar compositions, were collected in 12 vols., by his nephew, and published in 1745-46; later editions are those of Beauce (4 vols. 181'7), Mequignon (15 vols. 1818), and Chalandre (3 vols. 1847).