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WHEN the Author was preparing for the serious
step, which he took nearly twelve years ago, of embracing the Catholic Religion, it was, if not his intention, at least his expectation, that he should never write again on any doctrinal subject. He was able to fancy himself, in the time then before him, discussing questions of philosophy or ecclesiastical history; nor did he exclude religious controversy, criticism, or literature, from his view; but it seemed to him incongruous that one, who had so freely taught and published error in a Protestant communion, should put himself forward as a dogmatic teacher in the Catholic Church.
This disinclination to engage in the more sacred departments of Theology was increased, first, by his finding his vocation already fixed, before he had had the oppor、 tunity of going through the regular scholastic course; and next, by the circumstance, that the Congregation, in which that vocation lay, had ever placed its formal duties in practical work, and had not commonly directed
even the personal talents or private labours or leisure hours of its members towards the discussion or illustration of Catholic doctrine.
On the other hand, the ordinary duties of a missionary priest have necessarily exacted of him to some extent, and have accordingly justified, the assumption of a teacher's office; and the unexpected honour of a Degree in Theology, conferred on him from Rome, without the ordinary exercises, would have been no slight encouragement to him to undertake that office, had he been otherwise minded to do so.
However, he has been faithful on the whole to the rule or anticipation, which he set before him on becoming a Catholic. Why he has departed from it in the present and one other instance, it is not worth while to explain. He will but observe, that his Volume of "Discourses to Mixed Congregations," implies by its title, that it is polemical and hortatory after all, rather than dogmatic, and addressed to those who are external to the Church. This is partly the case also with the Sermons contained in the present Volume; not to say that its title too, announcing that they have been elicited by particular occasions, carries with it the apology, that they are the result of external circumstances rather than of any set purpose of his own.
He takes the opportunity of its directly religious character to ask of all those who feel an interest in his past or present, to suffer it to be a call on them to bear
in mind in their charitable prayers his future and his end. He has no intention that this should be the last of his Volumes; but the last must come sooner or later, and the catalogue must be completed and sealed up; nor, at the age to which he has already attained, should he ever have reason to be surprised, if he were not allowed the time or the power to add to their number.
He has only to observe, as regards the Sermons which this Volume contains, that the first eight, the tenth, and the eleventh, were preached in High Mass, and written before delivery; the ninth and the twelfth have been composed from the original notes, the former of them immediately after delivery, the latter at this date. It must be added that two of them, the ninth and tenth, have been already published, and a third, the eleventh, has been already in print.
July 2, 1857.
P.S. He has added to the Third Edition (1870) two Sermons, published since the Second, and both written before delivery. And to the Fourth Edition (1874) one more, written down after it was delivered.