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The projector and compiler of this work, while examining many years since “ Histories of Religions,” and hearing numerous complaints by ministers and lay members of different denominations, that such books had unjustly represented their religion, was forcibly impressed, that a work like the one now offered to the public, was desirable and much needed : he then conceived the plan of obtaining the history of each denomination from the pen of some one of its most distinguished ministers or professors; thus affording each sect the opportunity of giving its own history-considering that a work thus prepared must be entirely free from the faults of misrepresentation, so generally brought against books of this character.
To supply this desideratum, and to furnish a comprehensive history of the religious denominations in the United States, and also to present to the public a book, as free as possible from all grounds of complaint, the projector, two years ago, made application to many of the most prominent divines and lay members of different denominations, for their views of such a work, receiving in all cases their approbation, and many at once consenting to aid, by writing or procuring the necessary articles.
It would be superfluous to say any thing in regard to the contributors to this work—they are too favourably known to their own sects to need it, and their names accompanying each article, is sufficient guarantee that justice has been done to all, so far as the projector was enabled to attain it.
It is presumed, that no writer in this work can have had any motive to wilfully misrepresent the doctrine of the denomination of which he is a member; it is admitted, that he may have been influ
enced by a bias, natural to many, to present the “Beauties of his own Faith” in glowing colours; and where this may appear to have been attempted, it is left to the reader to make all due allowance.
In the history, and especially in the creed of the different denominations, the unprejudiced reader has a subject for candid investigation, and will be able to draw his own conclusions from authentic data. Though truth and error may be commingled, still the lover of free inquiry will have nothing to fear. It must be admitted, that many opinions are presented which cannot be maintained by “ Thus saith the Lord;” but as the projector has done his part in giving each sect an opportunity of telling its own story, and in its own way he thus leaves it to a liberal and discerning public.
Lancaster, Pa., April, 1844.
By L. D. VON SCHWEINITZ.
The Methodist Society. By the Rev. W. M. Stilwell.
Methodist Episcopal Church. By the Rev. Nathan Bangs, D. D.
Methodist Protestant Church. By the Rev. JAMES R. WILLIAMS.
Reformed Methodist Church. By The Rev. Wesley Bailey.
True Wesleyan Methodist Church. By the Rev. J. TIMBERMAN.
The Mennonites. By CHRISTIAN HERR. -
Reformed Mennonite Society. BY THE Rev. John HERR.
Omish or Amish Church. By Shem Zook.
Reformed Presbyterian Church. BY THE Rev. JOHN N. MÄLEOD, D. D. 626
Restorationists. By the Hon. Chas. Hudson, M. C.
Shakers. By THOMAS BROWN.
Schwenkfelders. By Isaac SCHULTZ:
Second Advent Believers. By N. SOUTHARD.
United Brethren in Christ. By the Rev. WILLIAM HANBY. •
Unitarian Congregationalists. BY THE Rev. Alvan Lamson.
Universalists. BY THE Rev. A. B. Grosh.
ASSOCIATE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
BY THE REV. W. I. CLELAND AND THE REV. JAMES P. MILLER, N. Y..
This association of professing Christians consists (1844) of one hundred and six ministers, settled and itinerating; and of two hundred and ten organized congregations; and, as nearly as can be ascertained from the statistical tables of the different Presbyteries, which are, however, somewhat defective, there are about 15,000 communicants. Allowing four to each communicant for children and other adherents, it will make about 75,000 persons as connected with this society.
The number of students in attendance at the Theological Seminary during the last term, was twenty-nine; but as for several years there has been a gradual increase, their number may be estimated at thirty for the ensuing term--of which number, one-fourth is usually added every year to the list of ministers.
LOCATION. This society is found chiefly in the Middle and Western States. Prior to the year 1832, there was a Presbytery in the Southern States called the Presbytery of the Carolinas, consisting of eight ministers, most of whom had large congregations. But in that year by an act of the supreme judicatory of that body, all slaveholders were excluded from the fellowship of the church ; since that time all those ministers and most of the people, have either removed to the non-slaveholding States, or connected themselves with other societies. In the State of Vermont there are two small congregations, but none in any of the other New England States. There are three ministers and a few vacant congregations in Canada. The judicatories of this body now consist of a Synod and thirteen