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PREFACE

BY THE EDITORS

OF THE PRESENT EDITION.

THE following work, written by the ingenious author of A Summary History of New England from its first settlement at Plymouth to the acceptance of the Federal constitution, has gone through several editions in America. The present one is printed from the third, which came out in October 1801, with large additions, and was dedicated to John ADAMs, late president of the United States.

The design of such a work is not to convey an idea of all religious principles being equally true, or safe to those who imbibe them ; but to exhibit the multiplied speculations of the human mind in as just and im

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partial a manner as possible. Such things exist, or have existed in the world, whether we know them or not; and the reading of them in a proper spirit may induce us to cleave more closely to the law and to the testimony; forming our religious principles by their simple and obvious meaning, and avoiding, as a mariner would avoid rocks and quicksands, every perversion of them in support of a preconceived system.

Several publications of the kind have appeared amongst us, on whose merits we shall not take upon us to decide. Suffice it to say, that the present work, having been written on the other side the Atlantic, and by a person who has not only imformed herself of the general state of religion in the world, but has manifestly paid a particular attention to the religious controversies of her own country, may be supposed to include many things with which our writers, as well as readers, are but little acquainted. While, however, we have printed those parts of the work, and the account of almost all the denominations which are become extinct, as they were, we have in respect of the living ones, frequently availed ourselves of other sources of information, where it appeared capable of being done to advantage. The late missionary undertakings

have furnished some additional matter with respect to Paganism, and Mahometism.

Some parts of the accounts, given by the author, of the Eastern Pagan nations we have onmitted, considering the authorities on which they are founded as suspicious. By a close attention to fact in those nations with which Europeans have lately been in the habits of the most familiar intercourse, we have been compelled to distrust much of the panegyric bestowed upon them by former writers, and to consider it as one of those indirect methods by which deistical historians, geographers, and travellers, have thought fit to assail the religion of Jesus.

Whatever corrections or additions are made, of any consequence, they are enclosed in brackets [ ] to distinguish them from the other. The articles Behemenists, and Friends or Quakers, have also been drawn up afresh, and should have been thus distinguished. The account of Nonconformists and Dissenters having been omitted in the early part of the Work, will be found under that of Puritans.

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