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people ; so now the world is in commotion, and the intellect of man is on the stretch after mechanical inven. tion, and artistic improvement, that may afford every possible facility for the dissemination of light and truth in the earth. Passing therefore these outward appliances, or facilities for the diffusion of knowledge, we come more particularly to consider the light and knowl edge, referred to in the prophecy, as being developed in “the time of the end." Let us look a moment at the general diffusion of knowledge on religious subjects.
1. The distribution of Bibles, as it were, broad-cast over the earth, is sufficient in and of itself to constitute a new era in the history of the world. At the time the English commenced operations by their “Naval and Military Bible Society,” the object of which was to supply the naval and military forces of Great Britain with Bibles, it is supposed there were not more than five or six millions of Bibles in the world. Since that, (in 1804) the “British and Foreign Bible Society" was instituted, with the design of furnishing Bibles for
“the whole world.” Says Goodrich, “This astonishing institution has reprinted the Holy Scriptures in forty-four languages; in five languages it has printed translations of the Scriptures ; in seventy-two languages and dialects, in which they never had previously been printed; and in thirty-two new translations commenced or completed; making a total of one hundred and fiftythree different languages and dialects.”* Bible Societies have also been organized in France, Switzerland, Prussia, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, etc., in Europe; also Madras and Calcutta, in Asia. The “ American Bible Society” was formed in 1816, and they have since published and circulated an immense number of Bibles, not only in English, but also in the French, German, Spanish, Irish and Welsh languages. By the agency of Bible associations alone, it is said, more than forty millions of copies of the sacred volume have been distributed in the earth. In addition to all these combined efforts, individual enterprise has not been wanting to help supply the world with the lively oracles. In the dark ages of English history, we are informed, it cost the labors of a life, among ordinary laborers, to purchase a single copy of the Holy Scriptures. Now the sum of twenty-five cents, less than the wages of half a day, will furnish a supply of the Old and New Testament, and the sum of seven cents will purchase a copy of the New Testament; and even if destitute of pecuniary means, families may receive the Scriptures by gratuitous distribution.
* Good. Church His. p. 140.
Thus has this mighty instrumentality been put in operation in the providence of God, to scatter the seed of the word far and wide, if possible, over the entire field of the world. There has scarcely been found in the history of man, any benevolent enterprise that would bear a comparison with the wonderful and glorious achievments of different Bible Associations, nearly all of which has been accomplished within the bounds of the present generation.
2. In the year 1799, a plan was projected for the dissemination of religious instruction, by means of tracts. To avoid all sectarian or denominational prejudices, they adopted, on the formation of the "Religious Tract Society” of London, as a fundamental principle, the resolution that their publications should contain nothing but "pure truth.” “ This flowing from the sacred fountain of the New Testament should run from beginning to end; uncontaminated with error: undisturbed with human systems; clear as crystal, like the water of life.”
The “ American Tract Society” was formed at Boston in 1814, and another in New York, 1825. Branches and auxilliaries have multiplied to more than four thousand five hundred.
Through the instrumentality of tract associations, religious tracts and volumes have been published in about seventy different languages, and circulated to the amount of more than two hundred millions of copies, not only among all classes of society in England and the United States, but also in China, the Burman Empire, Siam, Malacca, Hindostan, Armenia, Georgia, and various stations on the Continent of Europe, in South America, in the West Indies, and the Islands of the Indian and Pacific oceans. This important instrumentality has been mostly wielded during the present generation, and in the time of the end."
3. Another branch of christian enterprise is found in the system of colportage, recently adopted, and extensively carried out in Europe and America. Under the operation of this system, men of professed piety make it their constant business to visit the more destitute portions of society, going from house to house, distributing religious publications, engaging in religious conversa
tion, holding prayer meetings, etc. Much has been accomplished in this way, in enlightening the community, and reclaiming men from Romanism, infidelity and superstition; and particularly in France numerous revivals of religion have been the result. All this at “the time of the end."
4. One of the most remarkable events, that distinguish the present from all other ages of the world, is the multiplication of Sabbath Schools. But little interest was excited in the public mind prior to the present generation, in relation to the religious education of children and youth. In past ages it was principally accomplished by individual effort: but in our day, the energies of the evangelical world are put in requisition to devise and carry into operation a system of religious training, that the rising generation may be early instructed in heavenly and divine things. To this end associations are formed on an extensive scale, and by a sort of national combination, the efforts of the community are directed in this channel. An immense number of volumes have been written for the benefit of children and youth. Sunday Schools are everywhere organized. Libraries are extensively circulated, and often gratuitously; papers, and various periodicals, adapted to youthful minds are scattered throughout community, and every exertion is put forth in England and America to instruct the rising generation in the knowledge of Bible truth. We are aware that sore may object to the means used in the present age for the dissemination of light on spiritual subjects; but we simply allude to those wonderful events, as characterizing the present day as an era of light, when knowledge is increased : and in whatever way Christ is preached, we would, in imitation of the Apostle, rejoice, yea and we will rejoice. But to the subject. By the returns of Sunday Schools, as given at Exeter Hall, in London, 1833, it appears, there were at that time, one million, one hundred and fifty-eight thousand three hundred and fifty-four scholars in the Sunday Schools of Great Britain and Ireland.* The “ Sunday School Union,” was formed in England in 1803. The American “Sunday School Union” was formed at Philadelphia in 1824. Sunday Schools have also been established in Canada, New Brunswick, the West Indies, France, Denmark, etc. Nearly all this instrumentality has been put in operation at “the time of the end.”
5. The issue of periodicals and papers for the purposes of religious instruction is an affair of the present age exclusively. The “Boston Recorder," with a single exception, is the first religious newspaper ever published in the world, now there are numerous publications issued in the form of Weekly Journals and Monthly Periodicals, as the organs of different branches of the Christian Church. There are some two thousand eight hundred newspapers printed in the United States, of which two hundred are of a religious character, and over one hundred devoted to moral subjects.
One of these religious publications, the “American Messenger," has attained to the extraordinary circulation of more than two hundred thousand copies. What means this universal diffusion of spiritual light?
* Good. Church His. p. 439.