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" It il comports with the majesty of truth, or the character of God, to believe that he has built the noblest superstructure on the weakest foundation ; or reluced mankind to the miserable alternative either of remaining destitute of the knowledge of himself, or ol de riving it from the source of impious imposture." - Robert Hall.
BY WILLIAM L. STONE.
PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS,
NO. 82 CLITP-STREET, AND SOLD BY THE PRINCIPAL BOOKSELLERS THROUGHOUT THE
Sistered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1835,
By HARPER & BROTHERS, In the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New-York.
It was not until the last week in the recent month of April, that the idea of the presens work was suggested. In conversation with a distinguished clerical friend, upon the subject of Matthias and his impostures, particularly in regard to the respectability of the people whom he had succeeded in leading so widely astray, the writer mentioned the fact, that, after all, the pretended prophet was but a circumstance, as it were, in a series of delusions originating in fanaticism twelve or thirteen years since, which, in their progress, had been marked at different periods, by transactions and absurdities scarcely less censurable, or extraordinary, than the gross impieties of the arch-impostor himself. With a great number of facts in relation to the matters referred to, the writer had become acquainted as they transpired; and in the belief that he could possess himself of all others essential to a continuous history of one of the most singular and extraordinary delusions that have ever appeared, and flourished for so great a length of time,, among an intelligent Christian people, he suggested the idea of collecting the particulars, and publishing them in a little volume. “ Do it by alt raeans, if you can obtain the facts," was, in substance, the reply. Before, however, the work was seriously undertaken, the writer mentioned the project to a number of clerical, and other religious friends, by every one of whom he was urged to proceed. The materials were mostly collected early in the month of May-since which period the work itself has been written, at intervals of time, and amidst the calls of a daily occupation, which is as endless as the circle.
At the time when the composition of the work was commenced, and even after the first sheet had been stereotyped, the writer was not certain of obtaining access to the private prayers, meditations, and other manuscripts, of the late Elijah Pierson; nor did he then anticipate so full and interesting a narrative of the connection of Mr. and Mrs. Folger with Matthews and Pierson, as he has since been so fortunate as to obtain; although from the first, he was promised assistance from that quarter.
The papers of Mr. Pierson are alike curious, remarkable, and interesting; and the narrative of Mr, and Mrs. Folger, which
has been incorporated in the work entire, forms one of the strangest chapters in the history of the human mind, that have ever been written. It also raises the veil which has hitherto concealed from the public eye, the proceedings of Matthews and his disciples in the "Mount Zion" of Singsing, and gives a full account of the internal police of that establishment. The writer has likewise succeeded in obtaining a larger number of facts and anecdotes respecting the impostor, and authentic details of interviews and conversations with him, than he at first expected; so that the work has grown in the process of its preparation, to upward of a hundred pages more than was originally intended. Still, it is believed the reader will not be wearied in the perusal. Much available matter has been omitted, and nothing has been retained which was not deemed essential to the object and design of the work. It is often necessary, for the cause of truth, to expose opinions, which, in themselves, are so monstrous as not to merit a moment's consideration.
Unless the writer is greatly deceived, these pages will be found to comprise a history that is perfectly uniquema delusion sui generis-whether arising from individual fanaticism, or enthusiasm, or madness; or combined, or individual imposture. It has been contended by some mental philoso