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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 inundation, 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 discovered 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
injudicious, for their object has not been defeated. Naked statements, which offend the accurate and cautious, are necessary upon occasions to infuse seriousness into the indifferent.
These are the reasons, whether satisfactory or not in the judgment of others, for the style and manner of the earlier Tracts. When, however, from the circumstances of the times or from other causes, more interest seemed to be excited among Churchmen concerning those doctrines which it was their object to enforce, discussion became more seasonable than the simple statements of doctrine with which the series began; and their character accordingly changed.
It would be unbecoming to go into this detail in this place, were not a prejudice entertained against these Tracts by many who know them only by a few detached sentences, complete indeed in themselves, and on the whole not unfairly selected, but which, so detached, will not be understood in their true sense and bearings by readers unacquainted with the language of our old divinity. Dr. Pusey's valuable Pamphlet in answer to one objector, is, with the kind consent of the Author, appended to this Advertisement.