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The reasons assigned by the Bible Society of Massachusetts for declining to receive the Bibles and Testaments redeemed by their liberality, could not fail to insure the acquiesc ence of our Committee, and whilst we cordially concur in the propriety of their determination, we are no less sensible of the delicacy with which it has been communicated.

Whilst we rejoice with our brethren in America, at the increasing interest excited there, for diffusing the knowledge of our Redeemer's kingdom, by the circulation of the holy scriptures, you will no less rejoice with us, at the efforts displayed all over the world for the attainment of the same object. The extent in which the principle of our institution has been adopted, furnishes a most gratifying proof of the veneration in which the holy scriptures are held; and whilst it calls forth our admiration and devout gratitude, suggests the duty of fervent prayer, that the light thus communieated to the eyes of men, may shine into their hearts.

In constant dependence on Almighty God for the continuance of that favor which has so signally prospered the proceedings of the Bible Societies so extensively established, it only remains to excite and emulate each other in the discharge of that duty, to which we have devoted ourselves, and which has the glory of God for its object, and the salvation of mankind for its end.

I have the honor to be, Sir, your most obedient humble servant.

TEIGNMOUTH Pres. of the B. & F. B. Soc.

W. PHILLIPS Esq.

Pres. Mass. Bible Soc.

LETTER FROM MR. WM. SWIFT.* New York, 23d Nov. 1815.

My dear Sir, The conduct of the Massachusetts Bible Society, in compensating for at quantity of Bibles, captured and sold by one of our privateers during the

late war, excited the admiration of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and perhaps had some influence in the fol lowing instance.

Soon after the arrival and imprisonment of the crew of the late U. S. Brig Siren at Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope, the Rev. George Thom, "Scot's minister and a missionary from the London Missionary Society," applied to the admiral for leave to furnish them with Bibles, and if agreea ble, occasionally to preach to them, but was refused.

Sometime afterwards however, application being made by the prisoners themselves, the desired permission was granted, and they were immediately supplied with a variety of useful Tracts, and each one with a Bible or Testament; and subsequently by the assistance of some liberal friend, Mr. Thom succeeded in establishing a valuable little library among them, subject to certain regulations while they should continue together, and to be equitably distributed among them when they should be separated.

Nor was the liberality of this active and truly benevolent man limited to the supplying of books merely, but sev, eral articles of small stores, conducing much to their comfort, were at different times supplied.

The gratification and improvement which these men seemed to derive from perusing their books, and the order and attention observed by them, during the time of his professional and very friendly addresses to them, afforded their benefactor, and others, the highest satisfaction, and caused him to part with them with regret.

But the value of this attention and kindness to prisoners in a distant land, perhaps cannot be duly appreciated but by prisoners themselves, or those who have been such. It affected me in a manner that I shall not soon forget. Your friend &c. &c. J. BAKER, Esq. WM. SWIFT.

* Perhaps the writer of this agreeable letter was an officer, but we have not been informed,

ED.

LINES COMPOSED ON HEARING THE NEWS OF PEACE

WHAT joyful sounds are those, that greet mine ear?
The pleasing news of PEACE, once more I hear!
Heaven looks serene, the stars more brilliant shine,
And smiling nature wears a look divine.
The dreadful sound of WAR is heard no more,
The trumpet's blast, nor thundering cannon roar,
But dove-like Peace her blooming olive bears,
She bids us smile, and dissipate our fears.
Husbands again, their faithful wives shall greet,
And tender parents, and their children meet-
Brothers and sisters, shall again embrace,
And joy and gladness animate each face.
Let hymns of praise and gratitude arise,

To that great GoD, who rules both earth and skies,
May peace and love, and liberty abound,
And pure religion in our hearts be found.
Then may we hope to reach that happy shore,
Where sighs and sorrow shall be known no more;
Where all the region breathes eternal peace,
And where our songs of praise shall never cease.
Andover, Feb. 15, 1815.

Massachusetts Peace Society. On the 28th of December 1815, a Society was formed in Boston by the name of the MASSACHUSETTS PEACE SOCIETY. This society is formed in strict subserviency to the great object of our Savior's mission, "Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace; good will toward men." It is established on principles which we think must meet the cordial approbation of every humane and benevolent mind. The Constitution admits the friends of peace of every name, without distinction of sect or party. The meeting stands adjourned to Thursday, Jan. 11, 1816, to be attended at Chauncey Place immediately after the public lecture. We hope to give the Constitution of the Society in our next Number"The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened."

JULIA.

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Candidates for the ministry in Cambridge and its vicinity.

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No. I.

THAT the people of the present age are less pure in principle and practice than their ancestors, is a common complaint. The amiable Cowper, in his Poems, has many things importing an awful degeneracy in Great Britain. Similar complaints are frequent in this country, and they are heard both from the pulpit and the press. By some things which are heard and read, one would be led to im agine that Christians of the present age when compared with former generations are little short of infidels and barbarians.

Still, however, it is possible that these complaints are in a great measure groundless, and that there is a gross deception in such estimates. Similar complaints have probably been common in every age and in every Country, and may be traced back through the line of our progenitors to the age in which they were all Pagans.

In the book of Ecclesiastes we find a passage from which No. 2. Vol. IV.

5

it may appear, that such a complaint was made among the Israelites in the days of Solomon"Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this." Eccles. vii. 10. A similar defeet of wisdom may be suspected relating to the inquiries and opinions of men in the present age.

That there is much error and vice prevailing at the present time will not be denied. Nor shall we deny that there has ever been such a thing among any people as a growth of degeneracy from one generation to another. But suspecting that there are misapprehensions relating to this subject, which have a pernicious influence, we shall state some of the probable sources of mistake-propose a standard for deciding the questionand then examine the matter in view of historical facts.

Let it however be understood, that it is not the object of this inquiry, to cast reproach on our ancestors, but to illustrate the

mercy of God to their posterity, and to encourage benevolent exertions for the moral improve ment of society.

Probable sources of misapprehen

sion.

First. It has probably been the fashion in every age for children to eulogize their ancestors, and to ascribe to them a

greater share of virtue than they ever possessed. By following this fashion, people have been led to imagine, that there has been a gradual declension and degeneracy from age to age for many centuries, if not from the days of Adam. Indeed if we might give full credit to the eulogies of ancestors and the complaints of degeneracy, which have been made in past ages, and in the present age, it would be natural to suppose that by tracing back our pedigree fifteen centuries we should arrive to a race of men as pure as the angels of heaven. But on opening the pages of history, we find abun dant evidence that our ancestors

were "men of like passions" with

ourselves, and that there was a great diversity of character among them in every age, as well as among our cotemporaries. Some of them were doubtless eminently good, and many of them eminently wicked and irreligious.

Second. The characters of but a small part of our ancestors have come down to us, and those of whom we have the most in formation, are those who were the most eminent for virtue, or

the most popular men of the age in which they lived. We are

therefore exposed to form our estimate of a whole generation of ancestors from the characters of a small number of eminent however were fathers to but a or popular men. These men small part of the present gener. honor of having descended from ation. How many claim the pious ancestors, who would find by pointing out a single person it difficult to support'their claim eminent for piety in the line of their progenitors, since the man who built the ark? How many boast of pious ancestry on DO better ground than this-their ancestors happened to live in the neighborhood of some pious men!

Third. Biographical accounts of men, who were eminent and popular with their own sect or party, have too commonly been such prepossession as naturally led their biographers to conceal their defects and to overrate their virtues. Hence it is reasonable to suppose, that we have in many instances but an imperfeet view of the character even

written under the influence of

of good men of former ages; and

that those whom we have been

taught to venerate, as models of purity and excellence, were less perfect than has been generally imagined. This opinion will shall come to an examination of perhaps be supported when we

historical facts.

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ous of the present age. Not on ly so, while we take into one seale the vices as well as the virtues of the present age, we in a great measure exclude from the other the vices of former genera

tions.

Fifth. The present amount of population. either in Great Britain or in the United States, is much greater than it was in former ages; and consequently there may be now a greater number of openly vicious and irreligious characters than there was in earlier times, and still the moral state of society may have been greatly improved-the number of virtuous persons, compared with the whole population, may now be really greater than it was at any former period.

Sixth. Some errors and vices may be more prevalent now than they were a century ago, and still the general amount of error and vice may be comparative ly less-that is, less in proportion to the population. For error and vice have their fashions as well as dress, and some vices may have been in a measure abandoned to give place to others.

Seventh. The scarcity of any important article enhances its value and its fame. When such is the state of society that there are but a few men of improved understandings and virtuous dispositions, these few will naturally acquire a greater share of notice and celebrity, than the same persons would obtain if surrounded with a great number of equals or superiors. The scarcity of men in past ages, who were eminent both for knowledge and vir. tue, may have been one cause of

deception in the estimates which have been made, in comparing men of the present generation with their ancestors. Had there been in Egypt a thousand cotem. poraries equal to Joseph, less would probably have been said of the whole, than has been said of him.

Eighth. It has not perhaps been duly considered, that the standard of eminence in knowledge and virtue has been varying by the progress of light. Since the first settlement of our country a remarkable change has taken place in regard to the advantages of education and the means of knowledge. Customs, opinions, and habits of thinking, have consequently been changed. A man, who had his education 150 or even 100 years ago, might indeed be eminent, compared with his cotemporaries; yet a man, possessing an equal share of knowledge and virtue in our day, would perhaps not be at all distinguished or celebrated. Let any one read the history of Massachusetts, and reflect on the conduct of the magistrates and the ministers of religion, in their persecution of the Quakers, and their hanging people for supposed witchcraft, and he will deplore the ignorance, the folly, and the fanaticism of former ages He' will also find reason to adore the distinguishing goodness of God to the people of this age, in granting us a more improved state of society, and freedom from those dreadful delusions, to which the first characters in the state were formerly subjected.

Ninth. In past ages, as well as the present, the pagan virtues of

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