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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1833, by PEIRCE AND PARKER,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.
No person who peruses the sacred Scriptures with attention and diligence, can remain unconvinced, that a period is approaching, in which the Church of God in this world will enjoy far greater prosperity and happiness than it ever yet has done. This blessed season, technically called the Millennium, the Lord will hasten in his time. Those individuals who desire, pray, and labor for the advancement of this blessed day, are co-workers with him in bringing it forward, and all those Christian enterprizes which serve to introduce it, may be considered as harbingers of its approach. Such are the various benevolent Societies, whose object is to diffuse religious knowledge and instruction. They are combined instruments in promoting the conversion of the world and the salvation of men. They have an interest in each other, depend upon each other, and assist each other. There is no occasion for collision or rivalship among them. They are each of them important-and most of them absolutely necessary. They hasten the accomplishment of that glorious and animating prediction: "They shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord." These are precursors and will usher in the latter-day glory, as the morning stars precede the natural sun, and usher in the natural day. As this period advances, that system of benevolent operations which is designed to enlighten and bless the world, will increase in extension and efficiency. In order to this, a thorough knowledge of the nature, designs and progress of these operations, must be diffused through the community. This is necessary to awaken an interest, and to excite to vigorous and persevering efforts on their behalf.
It was thought that were the nature and importance of the several prominent Societies discussed and the
claims of each urged, and the whole presented in one volume to the public, it would contribute to this desirable end.
For many years the Author of the following work has been interested, in the Christian efforts for the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom, and for the last four years has been exclusively devoted to them. While engaged in the present employment, he feels bound to consecrate his whole strength to these benevolent enterprizes, which he considers the glory of the present age. With this in view, he has, considered it his duty to lay before the public the following dissertations. They were principally prepared some years since, but have recently been revised for publication. It is hoped they will appear to be fair discussions of the several topics on which they treat. An opinion of the comparative value or merit of the dif ferent benevolent Societies has been purposely avoided. · In the arrangement of the dissertations, it was deemed best to have no regard to the order of nature, time of formation or importance of them.
It was considered, that an Appendix, containing a brief historical and statistical sketch of the different benevolent Societies would be a valuable accompaniment. This, therefore, has been subjoined. In preparing the Appendix, much assistance has been received from a beloved Brother in the ministry.. This assistance became necessary as the Author's time was wholly engrossed in the discharge of his official duties.
The work was written, partly for the Author's own improvement, and he trusts he has received much benefit from the attention bestowed upon these subjects. His mind has been informed, and his heart more deeply interested in the general cause of benevolence. And his fervent prayer to the Great Head of the Church is, that the work may also be a blessing to others, and a means of promoting that cause which is so dear to the heart of infinite Love.
Boston, May, 1833.