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In the present divided state of the religious community, it is important to all, that the rise, progress and present state of the different denominations, should be correctly understood. Without such a knowledge of particular denominations, we should be able to form but an inadequate idea of the state of religion in the country: Our knowledge of its general history would necessarily be defective—a loss not easily to be estimated.
But if the members of any society are unacquainted with the particular history of their own body, they are in a great measure disqualified for discharging their duties as members. Every parent in the whole nation of Israel was required to explain to his children, the meaning and design of every historical monument that was erected to perpetuate any of God's mercies wrought for that people. That parent in Israel, who could not do so, was incapable of performing his duty to his children, whose right it was to be instructed in the use and design of those things. Yea, he was incapable of discharging his duty to God, who required him thus to instruct his children.
But have we not good reason to apprehend, that there are many facts, the knowledge of which is necessary to a complete and correct history of the Associate Church in America, which are not *now within the reach of all her members ? Much less can those without her communion be supposed to be acquainted with her history. Indeed, any opinion which such may form of her distinguishing principles, either in doctrine or discipline, might be unjust towards her, and consequently injurious to themselves, and even to the community at large. As an illustration of this remark, the reader is referred to the attempt that was made a few years since, to give a sketch of the rise and progress of the Secession in Scotland, in the Biblical Repertory, one of the most respectable
and influential religious journals now published in this country. Though the many errors and mistakes which appeared in the articles referred to, were met, and ably corrected, in a series of papers published in the Religious Monitor, for the year 1836–1-yet, how many might, and doubtless did, read
— and give credit to the errors, who never will see the corrections? And in every erroneous statement of even a historical fact, concerning any portion of the church of Christ, which receives credit to any extent, the general cause of truth suffers.
To furnish the religious community, and the members of the Associate Church in particular, with the principal facts necessary to a correct knowledge of the rise and progress of this church in America, is the chief design both of the Historical Introduction and the Biographical Sketches. The facts stated, are all susceptible of being authenticated by the most unquestionable references. Care has been taken to state nothing that rested on doubtful evidence. When the proof is documentary, the authority, in general, is either given at the foot of the page, or referred to in the Appendix. When, also, documents appeared in a perishing condition, and might soon be irrecoverably lost, especially such as appeared to be useful for future reference, and when their nature did not properly admit of their being introduced into the text, they have been inserted in the Appendix. This has swelled this part of the book beyond the size first contemplated ; it is hoped, however, that it will be neither the least interesting nor useful part. Most, if not all of the documents, will richly compensate for their room.
By some, indeed, these documents, as well as the facts published in this volume, may be deemed unseasonable, -as bringing to light the knowledge of transactions which had better been left in oblivion, which was fast spreading her mantle over them. Especially such as are connected with the formation of that Union, which gave rise to the denomination since known as the Associate Reformed Church. And had it been consistent with faithfulness and the interests of truth, the subscriber would gladly enough have suppressed any thing that he had reason to apprehend would be disrelished by any of his readers. But he had a debt to truth to discharge -a higher duty than to consult either his own feelings or the gratification of his readers. He has brought forward no fact which he did not deem important to the faithful history of the events which he has undertaken to record. He believes, also, that a knowledge of the origin of the existing divisions
in the visible church, is essential to a sound healing of those divisions.
As it is the first attempt, that has as yet been made public, of giving a history of the Associate Church in this country, the subscriber may not always have succeeded in arranging his facts in that order, which a more elaborate historical treatise would require ; yet, he trusts, the reader will meet with no difficulty in comprehending the events in the order and connection in which they occurred.
In collecting materials for the Biographical Sketches, and particularly in selecting the Discourses, the subscriber acknowledges with gratitude, the kindness and favors which he has received from a number of his brethren and friends.
He regrets that he has not been able to present his readers, in this volume, with Discourses, and more particular Sketches of the lives, of Messrs. Gellatly, Arnot, Mathew Henderson, Ebenezer Henderson, and Cree; and also of the late Dr. Banks. In the hope of obtaining some of these for insertion in this volume, the publication has been delayed longer than it otherwise would have been. He also regrets, that in transcribing, an omission of a foot note occurred, referring to Mr. James Leiper, whose name appears as a member of Presbytery, on page 29, and other places. This excellent man and exemplary christian, was, at that time, ruling elder from Mr. Clarkson's congregation, in York county, Penn.; he afterwards removed to Beaver county, Pa., where he was also ruling elder in the congregation at King's Creek, a part of the charge of the late Dr. Anderson. This notice is due to the memory and the worth of this man. His religious deportment and conversation is associated with the earliest recollections of the subscriber. He came to his grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in his season ; about the year 1813.
It also here be noticed, that Mr. Daniel Houston, another of the elders, whose name occurs as taking part in the transactions of that period, died a few years since, at an advanced age, in the bounds of the congregation of Mount Hope, Washington county, Pa., having also sustained to the last, his high character as a religious man.
While in the way of filling up omissions, it may also be noticed, that the time of the appointment of Mr. Marshall, and also of Mr. Clarkson, on missions to this country, and their arrival, so far as ascertained, will be found in the Sketches of their lives.