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Preface

From Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England.

Written on September 8, 1851.

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It may be necessary to state, that by "Brothers of the Oratory" are meant the members of an Association or Confraternity of seculars attached, but external, to the Ecclesiastical Congregation, to which the Author belongs. These are the persons to whom the following Lectures are addressed, with a view of suggesting to them, how best, as Catholics, to master their own position and to perform their duties in a Protestant country.

The Author repeats here, what he has several times observed in the course of the Volume itself, that his object has not been to prove the divine origin of Catholicism, but to remove some of the moral and intellectual impediments which prevent Protestants from acknowledging it. Protestants cannot be expected to do justice to a religion whose professors they hate and scorn. It has been objected to the Author, as regards both this and other of his works, that he succeeds better in demolition than in construction; and he has been challenged to draw out a proof of the truth of the Catholic Faith. Persons who so speak, should consider the state of the case more accurately: that he has not attempted the task to which they invite him, does not arise from any misgiving whatever in his mind about the strength of his cause, but about the disposition of his audience. He has a most profound misgiving about their fairness as judges, founded on his sense of the misconceptions concerning Catholicism which generally pre-occupy the English mind. Irresistible as the proof seems to him to be, so as even to master and carry away the intellect as soon as it is stated, so that Catholicism is almost its own evidence, yet it requires, as the great philosopher of antiquity reminds us, as being a moral proof, a rightly-disposed recipient. While a community is overrun with prejudices, it is as premature to attempt to prove that doctrine to be true which is the object of them, as it would be to think of building in the aboriginal forest till its trees had been felled.

The controversy with our opponents is not simple, but various and manifold; when a Catholic is doing one thing he cannot be doing another; yet the common answer made to his proof of this point is, that it is no proof of that. Thus men shift about, silenced in nothing, because they have not yet been answered in everything. Let them admit what we have already proved, and they will have a claim on us for proof of more. One thing at a time is the general rule given for getting through business well, and it applies to the case before us. In a large and complicated question it is much to settle portions of it; yet this is so little understood, that a course of Lectures might profitably confine itself simply to the consideration of the canons to be observed in disputation. Catholics would have cause to congratulate themselves, though they were able to proceed no further than to persuade Protestants to argue out one point before going on to another. It would be much even to get them to give up what they could not defend, and to promise that they would not return to it. It would be much to succeed in hindering them from making a great deal of an objection till it is refuted, and then suddenly considering it so small that it is not worth withdrawing. It would be much to hinder them from eluding a defeat on one point by digressing upon three or four others, and then presently running back to the first, and then to and fro, to second, third and fourth, and treating each in turn as if quite a fresh subject on which not a word had yet been said. In all controversy it is surely right to mark down and record what has been proved, as well as what has not; and this is what the Author claims of the reader as regards the following Volume.

(Continue.)

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Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Fri. 06/30/06 07:14:40 AM
Categorized as Historical & Literary & Religious & Speeches and Suchlike & The Present Position of Catholics.

   
         
         

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