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Economy promoted by keeping a stock of Account Books, &c.

The extent to which this information is supplied, will of course depend on circumstances; but, as a general rule, it may be prudent to furnish an association with two or three copies of the Annual Report of the Parent Society, to circulate among the members of the Committee, and subsequently to be lent to the free contributors. Every collector should be regularly presented with a copy of the Monthly Extracts, and a requisite supply for the subscribers in the district. This subject will be more fully considered in Chapters III. and VII., in reference to the internal arrangements of Bible Associations.

12. It will be found conducive to the economy which has been recommended, for Auxiliary and Branch Societies to keep a stock of such account-books, papers, &c. as are necessary for organizing and conducting Bible Associations, and enabling them without delay to proceed to the discharge of their duties. Another advantage derived from this regulation, is the maintenance of one uniform mode of proceeding throughout the whole system, and the consequent facility of its extension where it is deemed expedient. Of the importance of this last consideration, the Committee of the Parent Society thus express their opinion, in the Fourteenth Report:

"Your Committee take this opportunity of suggesting, as the result of their experience, that, in order to render these institutions prosperous and effective, it will be necessary that their Committee Meetings be as frequent as local circumstances will admit; and that their operations be conducted throughout with that regard to system which is essential to the accomplishment of every undertaking."

13. It has already been observed, in reference to the XXIVth By-Law, that a number of the Annual Reports of an Auxiliary Society should be promptly transmitted to the Parent Institution. But the communication of any important intelligence is not to be limited to this medium :-any interesting information relative to the progress of the Society, derived from the Reports of the District Committees, Branches, or Associations, should be transmitted from time to time to the Committee of the Parent Institution, whose duty it is to select, arrange, and circulate such intelligence, as may tend to promote the general cause. Any Auxiliary Society that expects to be furnished with intelligence of the foreign and domestic operations, should not be remiss in contributing its quota to the general stock.

Influence of Bible Institutions on Society.

14. The Annual Report of an Auxiliary or Branch Society should contain a clear and faithful exposition of its proceedings and results throughout the whole of its allotted district. It has been already observed, that in places remote from the metropolis, a condensed view of the recent operations of the Parent Society may be introduced with advantage: but it should always be recollected, that the domestic details constitute the primary and paramount subject of a Local Report.

15. The benefits derived to the British and Foreign Bible Society from the practical application of the system detailed in the preceding pages, cannot be better described than in the following extract from the Twelfth Report:

"The Auxiliary Societies have justified their claim to that title, in the most extensive interpretation; as, independently of their liberality to the Parent Institution, and their local efficiency in distributing the Scriptures, they have contributed, by their influence and example, to excite an attention to the establishment of other Auxiliaries, of Branch Societies, and of Bible Associations-the whose exhibiting a system of benevolent co-operation for the best end, and through the purest means. By these gradations the lowest orders of society become connected with the highest in one great work of Christian charity; and the bounty of all, accumulated into one stream, is again poured forth, to enrich the spots from which it flowed, or to fertilize the barren tracts of distant regions.”

But important as are these advantages, there are other grounds on which the Auxiliary System may confidently rest its appeal to the countenance of the wise and good, while they furnish matter at this eventful crisis for deep and solemn reflection. These have been described by the Committee, at the close of their Sixteenth Report, in a manner which justifies the selection of the passage as an appropriate conclusion of this Chapter:

"Nor will it fail to have struck the members of the Society, while attending to the transactions of the year, how greatly the Institution has strengthened its claims to the veneration and support of the Christian public, by the increased evidence of its usefulness in cherishing the growth of vital religion, and thereby promoting the happiness of individuals and the best interests of the community. The craving desires which have been expressed for the word of GOD, and the thankfulness which has been uttered when this desire has been gratified, have been uniformly associated with those principles and feelings on which are founded loyalty and contentment, subjection to Principalities and Powers for con

Exemplary conduct of Local Bible Societies.

science sake, and a quiet and peaceable demeanour in all godliness and honesty. Nor would your Committee stand excused to themselves, if they were to omit to remark how strikingly the truth of this observation has been illustrated in the conduct of the Society's Domestic Auxiliaries, during the trial through which they have recently passed. While Infidelity has been lifting up her audacious front, and uttering her many blasphemies; while her adherents have been labouring with infatuated zeal to detach the labouring classes of the community from their allegiance to the Bible, the Societies and Associations in connexion with your Institution remained steady to their engagements; and bore, at their anniversaries, an unshrinking testimony to the truth and excellence of that WORD which no calumnies will be able to depreciate, and no violence to destroy.".

CHAP. III.

BIBLE ASSOCIATIONS

(CONDUCTED BY GENTlemen).

66 AS POOR, YET MAKING MANY RICH."-2 COR. VI. 10.

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.

THE system of Bible Associations has now been in operation, for more than eight years: the results are before the public; and the general opinion of their importance is manifested by the establishment of more than one thousand of these interesting institutions, and the progressive increase of their number. We are justified, therefore, in considering their effects with that attention which a national object demands: and as these effects are naturally connected with the developement of the system, a few general remarks, on the tendency of Bible Associations, will not be considered out of place in a work of this nature. It is a prevalent, but most erroneous opinion, that the end of these associations is attained when the local wants of the poor are supplied; and that the efforts of benevolence and the visits of mercy may then cease, without injury to the cause, or an abatement of that interest which had been excited throughout the mass of the community. Such a sentiment, in the author's view of the subject, strikes at the vitality of the Bible Society, to which the permanency of Bible Associations appears to him to be as essential as that of any other portion of the Auxiliary System.

But the consequences of this impression appear yet more unfavourable in another point of view. In direct proportion to the knowledge of the labouring classes acquired by those in the superior ranks of society, and to the benevolent interest and prudent attention manifested towards them, will the frame of civil society be strengthened and maintained. The rich will feel for the poor, and the poor will be grateful and respectful to the rich. There are a thousand kind offices that each may render to the other, but of which both have been deprived by mutual ignorance and distrust. Is it not evident, that the cessation of those kind visits and inquiries which originated with the Bible Association, will induce a

Effects of Bible Associations on the Poor.

belief that a merely temporary motive influenced them? And will not the interest felt by the affluent in the welfare and happiness of the poor gradually decay, if that which has nourished it be withheld? To render real assistance to the poor, by instructing them how to assist themselves, you must not only acquire but retain their confidence; and this can be done by steady perseverance alone. The various ranks of society may be compared to the inequalities of the earththe streams gush forth from the hills, that they may fertilize the valleys: yet it is not the wintry mountain-torrent, rushing impetuously from its transient source, that gives verdure to the fields; but the brooks, whose fountains are perennial, and whose waters overflow at their appointed seasons. It has been asked by an able and eloquent writer,* in reference to this subject: "What, after all, is the best method of providing for the secular necessities of the poor? Is it by labouring to meet the necessity after it has occurred, or by labouring to establish a principle and a habit which would go far to prevent its existence?" To this important question the answer is obvious" If you wish to extinguish poverty, combat with it in its first elements. If you confine your beneficence to the relief of actual poverty, you do nothing. Dry up, if possible, the spring of poverty; for every attempt to intercept the running stream has totally failed." That it is the tendency of Bible Associations, in connexion with other admirable institutions, to effect this great object, we have the most ample and unequivocal evidence. Education has laid the ground-work; but education is an evil rather than a good, if correct principles of action be not instilled and enforced. From the BIBLE alone can these be derived; and hence we have an increased motive to exertion. The poor, taught by the visits of the collectors how they may acquire a Bible at a sacrifice that is scarcely felt even by the most indigent, gladly embrace the opportunity. Gratified by the regular weekly calls of their superiors, they endeavour to render their humble abodes more cleanly and attractive:-the effort is noticed with approbation, and comparative comfort and order are enjoyed. The husband and the father no longer spends his evenings from his family;-he begins to taste the pleasures of home; and to consider whether his weekly earnings may not be more profitably expended than in sensual and degrading pursuits. The expected Bible is at length obtained,-the

• Dr. Chalmers, in his admirable pamphlet entitled "The influence of Bible Societies on the temporal necessities of the poor."

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