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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1835, BY MARSII, CAPEN & LYON,

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.


The following work treats of an important and very extensive subject. A subject that requires, for its full and proper elucidation, far more learning than the author possesses, and much more time than he can spare from the duties of his profession.

Convinced, however, that such a work might be at this time, of practical utility to his countrymen, and not knowing of any upon the subject, he has been induced to undertake it. But he is fully aware of the incompleteness of his performance, though he trusts it will be to some extent useful; and hopes it may serve to awaken attention to the subjects he has noticed, and encourage others of more leisure and ability to prosecute the same inquiries.

The first portion of the work, treats of past times, and of religions, and forms of religious worship, that have long since passed from civilized communities.

Some allusion to them, however, seemed proper, especially to show that religious customs and institutions are changeable and progressive, and have constantly improved and been rendered more useful to mankind, as civilization and knowledge have increased.

Other portions of the work are devoted to considerations arising from some of the forms of Christian worship. In remarking upon these, the author at first, may, be accused of advancing very unscriptural opinions. But he begs his readers, before coming to any conclusion, to give the whole work an unprejudiced perusal, and also to study the New Testament upon the subjects alluded to, free from all preconceived opinions, as if it was a work but just issued from the press-to study it with all the aids which history and science will afford them, and above all, to study it with as sincere and ardent desire to find the exact truth, as to find

the author wrong, and their former views confirmed.

The writer is aware that he has treated some long established opinions with great freedom, but he has endeavored to do so with candor and honesty. Entertaining a profound respect for the religious sentiment, notwithstanding the absurd forms, ceremonies and customs with which it has been connected, he hopes to render it more productive of good, by exhibiting the evils which some of these ceremonies and customs have caused mankind, and which will continue to afflict them, unless they are abandoned.

From the slight view given in this work, of different religions, the reader may see the vast superiority of that of Christ, even in promoting the physical welfare of mankind; though he will also see that its incomparable purity has often been marred, and its spirit entirely misapprehended, by the ignorance of some, and the ambition of others.

In giving this book to the public, the author indulges the hope, that it will have some influ

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