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Cheerful co-operation of the Poor-Illustration of the subject.

for Bibles. The happy effects produced by these books were strikingly manifested at a subsequent period: for when the same collector visited the foundry again, after a considerable interval, the men exclaimed, on seeing him enter, Here comes the Bible-man! we have found the benefit of some of his Bibles; now let us all have Bibles.' And several of them immediately became subscribers."

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Northampton Ladies', 1820.-" The poor continue to feel the least pos sible inconvenience from paying for the holy scriptures by weekly instalYour Committee refer to a proof of it, in the case of a young woman, who was unable to attend the last public distribution to receive her Bible. When the collector called on her with it, and presented it to her, she said, Ma'am, I do indeed consider this as a very handsome present; for it comes like a present:-having paid only the small sum of one penny per week, I have not felt the purchase.'

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Hackney, &c. Ladies', 1820.—“ In one of my visits," a collector observes, "I called on a poor woman, to whom I proposed the question, whether she had a Bible: "Oh, yes,' she replied; I have three.' Knowing that she depended for her support upon her own labour, I was about leaving her; when she said, " May not the poor give something to the Bible Society as well as the rich ?" I replied,' Certainly, if they wish it.' She said, 'I wish to give a little;' and brought me twopence. At first I declined taking so much; but she repeated her request, and added, I will continue it weekly as long as I can afford it; and if I become unable, I shall rejoice that I have given something to so good a cause.'”

Plymouth, &c. Ladies', 1820.-"A man who, on the first call, received the collector with sullen disdain, opposing her exertions by every means within the sphere of his influence, and even refusing her access to his tenants up stairs, is now become a free subscriber, and a useful auxiliary. During her absence of three or four weeks, he collected part of the district for her; and in wet weather, wishes her to sit in his shop, while he runs to gather the pence-offering his services in any way in which he can be useful."

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› Ditto." The collectors, on entering the room where a poor man and woman lived, and telling the object of their visit, were answered very cheerfully, It will give us great pleasure to throw in our mite to this treasury; for we love the cause.'-Observing, however, that this interesting couple were apparently sinking under the effects of disease, and that every thing in the room bore great indications of poverty, the collectors thought it right to make some inquiry into their circumstances. They thankfully acknowledged, that aid was afforded them by the parish, and occasional help from a few benevolent friends. As it is a rule of your Associations never to accept free contributions from persons receiving parochial aid, the collectors, on this information, felt themselves obliged to decline the willing offering. A few days after, a lady, who frequently visited these afflicted persons, happening to call on them, they related to her, with tears in their eyes, the sad disappointment they had experienced, in being denied the privilege of subscribing to the Bible Society; asking, if there were no way in which it might be done; adding, 'Any sacrifice we could make would be a pleasure to us, if we might be allowed to contribute.'-The print of their own wellread Bible being small, and in many parts almost obliterated, they were recommended to subscribe for another for their own use. The proposal was readily accepted: And then,' said they, we shall have our little Bible to give to some poor creature who has none.'

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Cold must be that heart, and torpid those feelings that are not

Cheerful co-operation of the Poor.-Bibles should be stamped. awakened by facts like these! The labouring classes in Great Britain have furnished the best and most conclusive answer—that of practical refutation—to arguments they never heard, and theories they could never comprehend; while they have afforded the finest illustration of the admirable remarks of Dr. Chalmers, who observes, in reference to the influence of this part of the system on their circumstances and their character,

"It brings up their economy to a higher pitch; but it does so, not in the way which they resist, but in the way which they choose. The single circumstance of its being a voluntary act, forms the defence and the answer to all the clamours of an affected sympathy.-'You take from the poor.' "No; they give.'-'You take beyond their ability.' 'Of this they are the best judges. You abridge their comforts.' No; there is a comfort in the exercise of charity: there is a comfort in the act of lending a hand to a noble enterprise: there is a comfort in the contemplation of its progress: there is a comfort in rendering a service to a friend ;-and when that friend is the SAVIOUR, and that service the circulation of the message he left behind him, it is a comfort which many of the poor are ambitious to share in. Leave them to judge of their comfort; and if, in point of fact, they do give their penny a-week to a Bible Society, it just speaks them to have more comfort in this way of spending it, than in any other which occurs to them.”

The following remarks of the Boston Committee, in their Report for 1820, are so appropriate and judicious, that no apology is requisite for their introduction :

"The practical good which arises to the poor from Bible Associations, must be convincingly evident to every mind, that at all reflects seriously and dispassionately on the subject. It is only by personally visiting their dwellings, and actually investigating their moral wants, that the deficiency of the Scriptures can be ascertained. To affirm, as many worthy persons do, that the poor of this island may procure Bibles, if they choose to make a proper application for them to the benevolent and well-disposed, is indeed to state a most delightful truth: but matter of fact has indisputably proved, that this mode of distributing the sacred volume does not fully meet the exigencies of the case; it does not accord with the general views, and habits, and dispositions of the poor. Friendly visits must be paid them; their individual wants must be kindly inquired into; their prejudices and aversions must, if possible, be softened and conciliated; their ignorance must be calmly and judiciously reasoned with; and the necessity and importance of possessing a copy of the word of life must be pointed out to them, and pressed home upon their hearts with an earnest and affectionate solicitude. To be roused to the heights of mercy," says an eloquent divine, “you should have personal experience of what passes around you: one single morning devoted to explore the recesses of misery would preach to you through life." Wherever the object of Bible Associations has been thus recommended to the attention of the poor, and pursued with diligence and punctuality, the most beneficial effects have uniformly ensued."

III. In order to save time, and to fulfil in the best manner the duty enjoined by the Seventh By-Law, many Associations use a brass stamp and red ink, by which means the object in view is completely attained without disfiguring the title page. The Bible Secretary should stamp the copies as soon as they are received, before placing them in the Depository. Whether the title of the Association be

Cost prices cheerfully paid by the Poor.

stamped or written, it will be found conducive to the design in view to insert the number placed against the subscriber's name in the Bible Book, in some agreed part of the Bible or Testament, as recommended in the Twelfth By-Law of Gentlemen's Associations, Chap III. Section III.

IV. In places where the plan of public distributions is adopted (see Chap. VIII. Section III.), the following should be substituted as the Eighth By-Law :

"That the Bibles and Testaments issued by this Society be delivered publicly, at such times, and in such part of the district, as the Committee shall deem most suitable: but that every subscriber, having completed his or her subscription, and requiring a Bible or Testament previously to a public distribution, shall be supplied by the Bible Secretary."

v. A reference to the Specimen of the Collector's Monthly Report, in Section V. of this Chapter, will satisfy the reader of the facility with which the provisions of the Ninth By-Law are fulfilled. A strict and uniform attention to this regulation will materially promote the interests of the Society.

VI. It will be perceived that much is left to the discretion of the collectors, in the practical application of the Tenth By-Law; and that in no part of the executive details will greater caution be necessary, to guard against the abuse of the privilege thus conferred. The subject has already been adverted to in Chapter III. (Section III., Fourteenth Observation); but its acknowledged importance justifies a more full consideration of the principle it involves, by a review of its tendency and effects in those places where it has been most extensively applied.

The Committee of the Liverpool Ladies' Society observe,-"There may, to a casual observer, be an appearance of oppression, in requiring from a labourer the full price of a Bible; and were it demanded at once, it might possibly be felt by the individual as such but, on their own reiterated testimony, a penny a-week is never missed;' and, in the end, the Bible is received almost as a gift, though, as the fruit of their own industry, they are more pleased than if it were gratuitously presented. Out of 9755 Bibles and Testaments issued by this society, considerably more than one-half have been sold at the cost prices."

In the last Annual Report of the Hull Ladies' Society, it is stated;" It has always been earnestly recommended to the Col lectors, not to urge the poor and needy too importunately to subscribe their penny; for there are, doubtless, individual cases which claim the divine blessing- Thou didst well, that it was in thine heart;' but there are others, where the weekly contribution ap pears to enrich, rather than impoverish. A poor woman, who gave threepence per week for a Bible, declared, though times were very bad, she had never found herself poorer on Saturday night for paying for her Bible on Monday.' Of 1854 copies issued by this institution, 1811 have been distributed at the cost prices."

The Committee of the Bloomsbury and South-Pancras Auxiliary

Disadvantages of gratuitous distribution, generally.

Society report;-" The readiness of the poor to make their periodical payments is most gratifying. Their alacrity and punctuality have been such, that the Associations have been induced very generally to advance the Bible or Testament to the poor subscriber, after a proportion of the sum has been paid; relying on his character for the payment of the remaining purchase-money. By means of this small indulgence, which they have never found to be abused, the poor are encouraged to pay with the utmost cheerfulness the entire cost of the books." And, as a specimen of the mode of distribution adopted, they add,-" Of 195 Bibles and Testaments issued by five of our Associations within four months, 185 were sold at the cost prices."

The following is extracted from the Annual Report of the Lower Rotherhithe Association : -"The Committee beg to relate an anecdote of a person under no fear as to the operation of the property-tax: in other words, he works for ten shillings and sixpence per week. He applied to have his name put down for a Bible, and professed a strong desire to have one; and said he would pay for it as he could spare the money; at all events, at not less than threepence per week. Threepence he paid, ninepence he brought the next night, one shilling the next; and so great was his anxiety, that having collected the sum of four shillings, he brought it on the fifth night, at eleven o'clock, to secure his wished-for prize."

The Huddersfield Ladies' Association, in their First Annual Report, observe,-"The children appear to take great pleasure in saving the little money which is given them in the course of the week, that they may put in (as they term it) for a Bible; and are quite anxious for the Collectors on the Monday morning. In many families there are three subscribers in each; namely, the parents and two children." To which it is added, "118 copies of the sacred scriptures have been already distributed, for which prime cost has been paid."

The Helstone Ladies' Association observe;-"We have to state, that all the Bibles and Testaments have been disposed of at the cost price; and in no instance has discontent manifested itself in those who have purchased them."

VII. The disadvantages attendant on the gratuitous distribution of Bibles and Testaments, as a general practice, have been repeatedly alluded to in the preceding pages; but as cases may sometimes occur to justify this mode of supply, it is the object of the Eleventh By-Law to provide the means for carrying it into effect. The difficulties which opposed themselves to any specific arrangement, and the peculiar delicacy required to guard against fraud on the one hand, and the neglect of a positive duty on the other, were perceived at an early period; and the plan of proceeding recommended in the By-Law, and adopted by Ladies' Associations universally, has proved the most effectual expedient hitherto devised. The necessity of gratuitous grants, especially in places where the "Loan Fund" is adopted (See Chapter VIII. Section II.),

Liberality of the Poor.

will be rarely found to exist; and in a well-organised Association, where the collectors regularly adhere to the system of weekly visits, even the inclination to be thus supplied will generally give. place to a better feeling :-a desire will be excited among the poor to procure Bibles for themselves, and increased industry and economy will speedily furnish the means. But let it never be forgotten, that the occasional grant of a Bible may be a Christian duty, and that "the blessing of him who is ready to perish" may sanctify the gift." A minister lately entered the cottage of one of his parishioners. He heard a voice. He listened. It was the voice of a child, reading the Scriptures by the bed-side of a dying mother. "Where, my child, did you learn to read?" "At the Sunday School." "Who gave you that Bible?" "A Member of the Bible Society." Surely there never was a gem or jewel worn by British female, surely there never sparkled a diamond in the courts of kings,-which would not be gladly expended to purchase such a Bible, to be used by such a child, on such an occasion!"*

VIII. Many of the observations just offered are equally applicable to the Twelfth By-Law. It is evident that a Bible and Testament constitute an adequate supply, generally speaking, for every family; but where there are several children, and especially when they are about to leave home for service, the importance of encouraging their parents to supply them with this, their best companion, will be duly appreciated. The Committee of the Plymouth Ladies' Society observe,

"It is a touching and a beautiful sight, and by no means unfrequent, when the collectors are called on to receive from the pittance of age and infirmity the weekly penny for the purchase of a Bible or a Testament, designed to be the legacy of affection to the lisping grandchild. The poor have feelings; and rightly do they seek to embalm and perpetuate their memories, by selecting such a memorial."

But this benevolent principle acquires a higher value, when we behold its influence extending beyond the limits of the domestic circle. The Committee of the Sherborne Ladies' Association report :

66 A poor youth, about eighteen years of age, called on one of your secretaries for two Testaments. On being asked if he had not some months past obtained a Bible for himself, he replied, “Yes; I do not now buy for myself: there is a poor lad living near me without a Bible, and I want him to read it, because it has done me so much good: the other I want to carry to an old woman, who has long been confined to her bed, in order that I may read to her; and I assure you, there is no Bible in the room, and I wish to leave it there, for the good of all her neighbours who visit her."

And the exemplary Committee of the Colchester and East-Essex Auxiliary Society place this subject in a new and interesting point of view, by stating, that, "among the recent issues, have been twelve

Speech of the Rev. John Cawood at the Worcester Meeting, 1813.

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