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SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW-YORK, ss. BE IT REMEMBERED, that on the twentieth day of April, in the fortieth year of the Independence of the United States
of America, J. M. Mason, of the said L.S. district, hath deposited in this office the Title of a Book, the right whereof he claims as Authour and Proprietor, in the words following, to wit:
“A Plea for Sacramental Communion on Catholick Principles. By J. M. Mason, D. D.”
In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled “An Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the Authours and Proprietors of such copies, during the time therein mentioned." And also to an act, entitled “An Aet, supplementary to an act, entitled an act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the Authours and Proprietors of such copies, during the times therein men. tioned, and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of Designing, Engraving, and Etching Historical and other Prints.
So long a time has elapsed since the ensuing volume was promised, that the authour owes an explanation of the causes which have retarded its appearance.
The greater part of what was at first intended for the press had been prepared nearly two years before the proposals for printing it were issued. In the mean time the subject had undergone extensive discussion, and had excited inquiry in several parts of the United States. The manuscript was found, upon revision, to cover too narrow ground for the range which the question had taken; and the whole was to be written over. This labour, falling in with numerous and urgent avocations pressing upon an impaired state of health, proceeded, and could proceed, but slowly. It was performed at short and broken intervals : The work swelled, by degrees, beyond its anticipated limits, was interrupted more than once by the authour's absence from home; and
suspended for some time by other embarrassments. These things, it is hoped, will furnish a reasonable apology for the delay.
The reader will probably observe that the same thoughts recur in different parts of the work. This was in some measure unavoidable, from the affinity between topics which however required a separate consideration. Nor was there much solicitude to avoid it, as it is of benefit to many in whose minds the general course of reasoning might be confused or enfeebled without the aid of occasional repetitions.
The printed proposals describe Part II. as consisting of "proof from authentick facts, that “sacramental communion, on Catholick princi“ples, is agreeable to the faith and practice of “ the church of Christ, from the day of Pentecost “to the present time, with a few local and party “exceptions.” That his terms may not be stretched beyond his meaning, the authour thinks it proper to disclaim any construction which may be put upon them inconsistent with his own elucidation in the work itself.
The reader will not attribute to an affectation
of learning, the Latin and Greek quotations which occupy so much of the margin in the second part. Had the authour consulted merely his own wishes, he should have been satisfied with a simple reference to the primitive and reformed writers. But as they are extremely scarce in all parts of our country, and absolutely inaccessible in most, it was thought necessary to subjoin the original, in order that readers who have the ability, might also have the means, of judging whether his representations are correct or not.
He would also guard against a misconception of his language respecting the feelings and habits of religious sects in the United States. It might be supposed that they are all in such a state of mutual hostility as, without exception, to decline each other's communion. Such, however, is not the fact. Within a few years there has been a manifest relaxation of sectarian rigour in several denominations. And the spirit of the Gospel, in the culture of fraternal charity, has gained, upon a respectable scale, a visible and growing ascendancy. This happy alteration may be attributed, in a great degree, to the influence of Missionary and Bible Societies.
Still there is room for complaint, humiliation, and rebuke; and remarks of such a character must be viewed as referring to those among whom the Sectarian continues to lord it over the Christian. May that preposterous inversion come speedily to an end! May the Catholicism of “ truth” wax stronger and stronger, till “ “ Ephraim shall not envy Judah,” nor “Judah ves Ephraim”—the lust of sect being overcome and banished by the all-subduing love of God our Saviour! Amen!
New-York, April 16, 1816.