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and highly appreciated. Recently, the synod of New York, of the Presbyterian church, appointed a committee to make selections from these essays, in reference to the relation of baptized children to the church, for general distribution. These Essays, and the Review upon Episcopacy, have been stereotyped, so that any demands for either series can be speedily, and at a moderate cost, supplied. And it is believed that a general circulation of the church essays especially, would be very serviceable in the present state of the Presbyterian and the Congregational churches.

At first it was intended to publish only extracts from the "Letters upon frequent Communion," as the special reasons which called for them had nearly ceased, and were not likely to regain their influence; but upon more minute examination, it was found impracticable to make such a selection without mutilation or obscurity, so that either all or none must be printed. The whole, with the exception of the sixth letter of the series, is presented as forming an important item in the history of the American churches, and as exhibiting the resolution and energy of their writer in his early ministry, in denouncing VOL. I. 1

and effectually removing an onerous and unnecessary practice of will worship, which custom had raised to the importance of a divine institute, and in some cases above it; but more especially as containing suggestions and principles well worthy of the consideration of men now influencing religious assemblies, and directing the devotion and practice of the church in reference to this very ordinance.

The "Plea for sacramental Communion upon catholic Principles," first published in 1816, and republished in London in 1817, forms no part of the present collection. Through inadvertence. upon the part of the publisher, its conditional republication was not stated upon his prospectus, and the subscription had too far advanced to rectify the omission when discovered. It would have swelled the work another volume, perhaps unnecessarily, as a few copies of the first edition may yet be obtained.

Possibly the public may be surprised at not finding a life of Dr. Mason accompanying these volumes, as a general opinion is prevailing that the editor was preparing a life of his father. This is an entire mistake. He never designed such a work. He has been only engaged in collecting materials within his reach for some other

and abler pen. This was all he intended. Though unforeseen difficulties have arisen to delay and prevent the preparation of a memoir, the idea is not yet wholly abandoned; and it is deemed inexpedient to prefix any sketch to these volumes. When definite arrangements are made, the public will be duly informed.

As near two years have elapsed since the proposals were issued, some explanation for the delay is due. It is soon given. Eighteen months ago the papers were in the printers' hands; but severe and long-continued indisposition befalling first myself and then a brother, who superintended the press during my absence from the city, compelled the printers to enter into other engagements, which could not be abandoned at a moment's call. The work is now finished, and committed to the Christian community. I only lay claim to good intentions, and fidelity to my trust according to my ability; and add a fervent prayer that the contents of these volumes may advance the great interests of truth, (the sole objects their author had in view,) and be owned for that end by the Great Head of the church.


New York, Feb. 22, 1832.

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