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THE CHRISTIAN HERALD.
Vol. IV.] Saturday, September 27, 1817.
BRITISH AND FOREIGN BIBLE SOCIETY. A very summary sketch of the celebration of the Thirteenth Anniver. sary of the above Institution was given in No. 21 of our last volume. . We have since received from our obliging correspondent at Liverpool a full account of that meeting, together with authentic copies of the severa speeches delivered on the occasion. These speeches are too excellent and interesting to admit of much abridgment. We shall insert them nearly en. tire in the present and subsequent Numbers of this publication. The Rev. Dr. Mason's speech we have already given in No. 24 of the last volume.
W. WILBERFORCE, Esq. Vice-President, in moving the adoption of the Report, (after apologizing for bodily indisposition) said,
My Lord, -I should, I confess, be sorry not to express, however imperfectly, the delight with which I have listened to the recital we have just been bearing, and with which I propose that the Report be adopted and printed, under the direction of the Committee.
“ We are called on, my Lord, to offer up our humble acknowledgments to the Almighty ; and while we offer our cordial thanks. givings to Him, to pour forth, at the same time, our congratulations to each other, that we are rendered the honoured instruments of diffusing throughout the world such a tide of light and happiness.
“ The glories of our Society, which we are now celebrating, are glories which will last for ever. And it is delightful to observe, that their merit is duly appreciated in other countries. I find, by one passage in the Report, that in Switzerland there are many who have entered on the same course, and are following in the path in which we have gone before them. This will be peculiarly gratifying to those who like myself, feel a more than ordinary mea. sure of cordial attachment to that land of liberty. Germany also, in which the great religious Reformation first bad its rise, is
prosecuting the good work of circulating the Holy Scriptures with more than common ardour. Germany is imitating our example, and emulating us with a rivalry which knows nothing of base or vulgar competition. The blessed flame, which we bave thus happily kindled on the Continent, we see infusing life and action throughout the immense mass of the Russian Empire, and awakening Siberia herself into motion, and communicating to it a kindly warmth.
My Lord, I must not attempt, for I am unable, to express the feelings which animate me ; but I cannot sit down, without stating for myself, and it is a feeling in which I doubt not every one else will
participate, that I propose the printing of this Report with the more pleasure, from the kind manner in which it mentions our
Speech of the Bishop of Gloucester at the
dear and excellent friend, whose absence we so much regret; I mean the Rev. Mr. Owen. In that afflicting dispensation, which has prevented him from having the gratification of continuing tu labour in our cause, we must, at the same time, recognize the mercy of Providence, which did not lay him by till he had gone through an almost unequalled amount of labour and service. He laid the foundation; he was permitted to see the superstructure rise to heaven itself; and still more, he was enabled to complete the History of our achievements, in a work which, though taborious, could not, even to the compiler bimself, be without gratification. For it is always gratifying to trace any great work from its outset to its consummation ; to trace its gradual progress i to see the obstacles it has overcome : and this work of our friend's will hereafter, I doubt not, be justly accounted througb succeeding ages an imperishable record of one of the most extraordinary dispensations of Providence, which ever was vouchsafed to enlighten and to bless the world.
*** Under this impression, it is with delight I see the Report pay this tribute of affection and gratitude to a man to whom we owe so much ; that when he is no longer able to come to us, we go, as it were, to him, into our sick friend's chamber, and there endeavour to pour the strains of gratitude and consolation into his ear, when that tongue, which has so often delighted us, is silent.”
Thanks to the President were moved by the Bishop of GloucesTER, Vice-President, and seconded by Sir T. D. ACKLAND, Bart. The Bishop'of GLOUCESTER :
My Lords and Gentlemen, " The modesty of my Noble Friend forbids me to dwell upon those particular features of his character, which this resolution recalls especially to our minds ; but I' cannot forbear expres-ing the particular pleasure with which I pay my humble tribute of respect to those public merits, which I know to be so consistently associated with eminent private virtues. But, my Lords and Gentlemen, this very connexion between public services and individual character, leads me to a train of thought, in which, with your permission, I will for a few moments indulge.
“ I gladly leave to those who are far better qualified the delightful task of expatiating upon the various interesting particulars which our Report, the annals of the year, has presented to our contemplation, and must content myself with venturing to press earnestly upon the attention of this highly respectable assembly my view of the feelings which such a Report should excite.
“ The first feeling should surely be, that of joy and gratitude to the Giver of so good a gift ;-to Him, who, in the midst of such unexampled difficulty and universal distress, has still naintained the spirit of our friends, and drawn forth even, as it were, out of deep poverty abundant liberality.
“ In the second place, we may justly expect, that a determination to persevere in patient hope, will arise from the consideration
13th Anniversary of the Br. & For. Bible Society. I of this Report. Have difficulties arisen ? Has opposition increased in any part of our sphere of operations ? Have our funds in any instance appeared to lessen, and to be directed to other channels ? Surely, we shall derive from these little checks the right lesson of humility, and only become the more anxious to pursue our work in a Christian spirit, and to compensate for any failures by more strenuous efforts, and, if possible, by greater sacrifices. In due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
“ With this determination to persevere must surely be associated the firm principle of faith and implicit dependence upon the God of the Bible. Have all our astonishing successes been in vain? Is it nothing, that bigotry in one part of Christendom, and superstition in another; is it nothing, that Mahometan pride and Pagan idolatry bave begun in various quarters to give way? Has not the hand of God been almost visibly with us for good, and his presence among us of a truth? Has the Sun of Righteousness shone so long with uninterrupted splendour, and shall a little cloud make us doutt bis continued favour for a moment ? Shall we not rather 'cast ourselves still more simply and unreservedly upon his long experienced protection, and be assured that the cause of his word will find in him a rock which shall never be shaken the rock of ages, against which all the force or the devices of the powers of darkness shall never prevail ?
“ But, lastly, though I am conscious that I tread liere upon tender and delicate ground, I desire to press home, as upon my own heart, so upon that of every individual in this vast assembly, the following considerations : This blessed work of spreading far and wide the Scriptures of salvation engages our admiration, our affections and exertions. In this word thoroughly known, and duly prized, as dear and precious to our own selves? Have we made a right and profitable use of this treasure, so long in our possession ? Are we in the daily habit of devoutly studying and applying to our own casës' a portion of Holy Writ? Have we sought with earnest prayer to derive the genuine saving doctrines from it? Are we living in any measure conformably to its standard ?
" Are our spirit and temper such as are inculcated by the word of God, the wisdom which is from above :'pure, peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated; full of mercy and good fruits ; without partiality, and without hypocrisy ?'
« I venture to suggest these questions for a special reason, connected with the success of our Society.
66 The infidel, the careless, and the worldly minded, are apt 10 measure the value of our cause, and their own obligation to contribute to it, by the effects which this professed regard to the Bible has upon the life and conversation of its adherents. Let there be a prevailing consistency in our character and conduct. Let the instruments appear (humanly speaking) in some little measure worthy of the work; and all may be led to appreciate, to admire, and to support a cause, so obviously productive of the best and happiest results.
“ You will, I trust, my Lords and Gentlemen, excuse these ob. servations, which, however perhaps in some degree unusual, de not surely infringe upon our excellent principle, of abstaining from the introduction of peculiar sentiments of religion; and believe, that they are prompted by an ardent attachment to the Bible cause, and an earnest desire, that it may be all fair within, as it is assuredly all glorius without.”
Sir Thomas DYKE ACKLAND, Bart. M. P. Sir Thomas, on rising, being desired to draw nearer to the Chair, said, that of course be could feel nothing but increased gratification in a nearer approach to the centre of that Christian union which was then assembled before him ; and considering the purpose
for which he was desired to address bis Lordship, he might be allowed to recall to the recollection of the assembly the words of one of the most beloved, as well as most eloquent of their members, wbo bad once said, on a similar occasion, “ My Lord, you are the centre of the greatest circle that this world ever knew, a circle that encompasses the whole world, not limited by earth, but commensurate with beaven, continually expanding, not only througle all time, but to all eternity.”-He could add nothing to the effect of these words ; and to those who had had the happiness of hearing them first uttered by his excellent friend, the slightest allusion must be sufficient to recall the delightful impression they excited. To himself the recollection bad been peculiarly gratifying and encouraging at that moment, because, feeling deeply, as be did, the value of his Lordship’s services to the Society, and infinitely more of affection and respect than he could permit himself publicly to express in bis Lordship’s presence, he felt also how utterly inadequate any words of his own must be to describe the unfeigned sentiments of approbation and regard for his Lordship, which pervaded the whole of that assembly, which animated the breast of every Member of the Society throughout the world, and with the expression of which, on their behalf, he had charged himself, by seconding the motion just read. He was glad, therefore, that an accidental circumstance, at his rising, had enabled him to avail himself of the eloquent sentiment of his Honourable Friend, and, in return, he would take the liberty of confirming, from his own experience, a statement, in the Report, of that morning, so feelingly noticed by that friend.
He alluded to the co-operation and sympathy of that happy land of liberty and simplicity, of loyalty and religion, which had so admirably seconded the efforts of the Society, and whose best feelings were almost identified with our own. through that country, he bad frequently the happiness to hear his native land mentioned in a manner most gratifying to his national feelings. Her public spirit, and generous conduct ; her successful struggle in the cause of justice, and the glory of her arms, were topics which called forth continually a well-earned praise ; but praise, in some countries, is diminished by the imputation of selfish interest, or grudgingly yielded from somewhat of jealousy of
In his progress