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we had been ambitious to acquire literary fame, this work would never have been published. Our chief aim has been usefulness. How far we have succeeded in accomplishing our object, the public must judge. We have endeavored to speak forth the words of truth and soberness, and to communicate our ideas in the plain, unvarnished language of truth. Whatever other faults may be found in this book, we think no man will say that the ideas and sentiments of the writers are not clearly expressed in it. To those who wish to compose sermons on the subjects treated upon here, this work will be convenient; as all the scriptures, and facts, and arguments, &c., will be before them at one view. This will save them a vast amount of time and labor, which would otherwise have to be spent in hunting up proofs, facts, authorities, &c. To those who are engaged in public discussion, either oral or written, it will be invaluable for the same
And to the general reader, especially those who have but little time, and perhaps as little inclination, to investigate these subjects as thoroughly as the importance of them demands, it may perhaps communicate some valuable, important, and useful instruction. If it shall accomplish the above objects, and be instrumental in promoting the great cause of truth and righteousness, we shall be satisfied. The question with us has not been, what did our ancestors believe? but what is truth? The present is the age of controversy; and the motto of the people is, “Give us facts.” For the opinions herein expressed we hold ourselves responsible to the public; and we ask for them a candid consideration. If any man feels disposed to controvert them, he must invalidate
the facts and arguments upon which our opinions are based. If we hold any opinions which are erroneous, we shall feel under peculiar obligations to the man who will point them out and prove them to be false. We hold ourselves in readiness to examine whatever may be said in opposition to our views, and will either acknowledge ourselves mistaken, or stand up in their defence.
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
THE first edition of the Book of Reference was issued in 1814, and met with a ready sale. The edition was exhausted about five years since, and, as the work was not stereotyped, the original publishers did not feel disposed to run the risk of issuing another. The call for the work for the few years past, from all parts of the country, has been constant and urgent; and, with the belief that in its revised and improved form it is calculated to do great good, it is NC W offered to the public.
BOSTON, SEPTEMBER, 1853.