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“ If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the
PRINTED FOR J. G. & F. RIVINGTON,
& J. H. PARKER, OXFORD.
The present Volume will be found to persevere in the change of plan adopted in the latter part of the Second, the substitution of Tracts of considerable extent of subject for the short and incomplete papers with which the publication commenced. The reason of this change is to be found in the altered circumstances under which they now make their appearance.
When the series began, the prospects of Catholic Truth were especially gloomy, from the circumstance that irreligious principles and false doctrines, which had hitherto been avowed only in the closet or on paper, had just been admitted into public measures on a large scale, with a probability of that admission becoming a precedent for future. A great proportion of the Irish Sees had been suppressed by the State against the Church's wish, all parties who were concerned to resist the measure, acquiescing either in utter apathy or in despair. Scarcely a protesting voice was heard, and the attempt to remonstrate was treated on all hands with coldness and disapprobation. A sense of the dreariness of such a state of things naturally led to those anxious appeals and abrupt sketches of doc. trine with which the Tracts opened. They were written with the hope of rousing members of our Church to comprehend her alarming position, of helping them to realize the fact of the gradual growth, allowance, and establishment of unsound principles in the management of her internal concerns; and, having this object, they spontaneously used the language of alarm and complaint. They were written, as a man might give notice of a fire or inun-dation, to startle all who heard him, with only so much of doctrine and argument as might be necessary to account for their publication, or might answer more obvious objections to the views therein advocated.
This peculiarity in their composition has occasioned them to be censured as intemperate and violent. If this be true in such sense that they discover any personal feeling, bitterness, wrath, want of candour, unkindness, or reviling, of course nothing can be said in their defence. Or if they contain an extravagant doctrine, crudely imagined, confusedly or hastily expressed, and unsanctioned by our standard Divines, then, too, they are entitled to very little respect. But if the charge of intemperance simply means that they contain strong expressions upon high and delicate matters, suddenly introduced, unexplained, and therefore obscure and harsh, though not intrinsically erroneous, then by intemperance is meant nothing else than want of judg
Want of judgment, however, is commonly imputed to proceedings which tend to defeat their object, though allowable in themselves, and based upon true principles; and if so, the style of the Tracts in question is not