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magnitude, and has been hailed as the harbinger of good tidings, and the dispenser of blessings, by the people of the north and the south, the east and the west.
In the Philanthropist, a periodical work published in Loudon, we observe an address by some judicious friend of this Society, which we think so beautiful that we cannot lorbear giving the whole of it to our readers.
"Vie Advantage! of distributing the Holy Scriptures among the Lower Ordert of Society, chiefly by their own Agency.
"WHOEVER is acquainted with the history of the Reformation, cannot fail to hare observed the extreme anxiety displayed by our Martyrs and Reformers for the. tree circulation of the Bible. The same feeling has been found to animate wise anil good men in every age since the promulgation of the Gospel; and some of the charitable institutions which have arisen in modern times, hold out the pleasing assurance that this Christian principle still survives; that many are still emulous to follow the example before them, and are in some degree influenced by the spirit of those who have long since gone to the resting-place of the just
One of the most i mportant and effective institutions which the world has ever seen, is the British and Foreign Bible Society. Its means are great, but its projects are magnificent. It proposes to do nothing less than to diffuse the blessings of Revelation to all men. Its operations must be considered in a twofold view: as a British Society, it directs its first regards to the wants at home; and as a Foreign Society, it eucourages the reprinting and dissemination of acknowledged versions, where they already exist, and promotes translations, and the circulation of the Scriptures, where they are wholly unknown.
The efforts and utility of such an institution can be limited only by its means; and in proportion to the augmentation of its funds, will it extend the empire of knowledge and of truth. The assistance which has been afforded by Auxiliary Societies in many parts of the country, can hardly be estimated at too high a rate. By calling the attention of the opulent to the want of Bibles in their own vicinity, they have contributed very essentially to the benefit of thousands, who might otherwise have remained in ignorance; and by aiding the funds of the parent institution, they have enabled it to carry on its foreign operations with great and increasing success. Many are the prayers which have ascended from distant lauds on behalf of their benefactors in Britain, and many are the blessings which have been invoked on their heads.
That a project of this godlike tendency, so full of mercy, and so abundant in reward, should be checked or narrowed by the want of resources, is a circumstance deeply to be lamented. Yet nothing is more certain, than that the efforts already made, however glorious, and however unexampled, are not commensurate with the magnitude of the case. Here is a world in ignorance! a world to be enlightened and evangelized! To the reflecting mind it must be obvious, that a plan, which shall at the same time adequately supply the demands at home, and effectually meet the hopes and expectations of those myriads of human beings, who, in other lands, suffer " a famine of the word of the Lord," must be supported by more general interest, and aided by more extensive means.
To complete the system which has commenced, and been conducted with such happy results, no measure seems to have occurred of such reasonable promise as Bible Associations*. The contributors to the institution in London, and to its ituJEnries and branches in different parts of the country, consist in general of that class »f persons who are somewhat elevated in the scale of society. It is the object of Bible Associations to bring into action also the inferiour classes; to collect subscriptions not merely from the opulent, but likewise from that large body of the people, ■ho are unable to give much, and are yet not unwilling to give a little. If the nunv
"Bible Associations have been establishedin many places. The Auxiliary Bible Society for Blackheath, and its neighbourhood, have ten •urithinits district; and «nt within the town of Darlington, produces after the rate of 701. a year, being "wre than adequate to supply the deficiency of the Scriptures amongst the poor of 'ia» town,- thereby completely liberating the funds of the Auxiliary Bible Society W Darlington and its vicinity, so far as relates to the town of Darlington itself, ff the supply of foreign parts.
ber of contributors be great, the accumulation even of small sums will not be contemptible; and it may be presumed, that most persons, who are not absolutely in the lowest walks of life, can afford a subscription of a penny a week.
A series of resolutions, recommenced for adoption by Bible Associations, is subjoined to this address. In illustration of that paper, it may be proper to observe, that while the committees of such associations are formed from the contributors themselves, yet the stimulus must be afforded by others. On the formation of an Auxiliary or Branch Society, the members of the committee, (under the designation of sub-committees,) should select certain districts for their own more immediate exertions, and endeavour to awaken the attention of the inferiour classes to the importance of rendering whatever aid they can afford. It would be expedient to appoint a numerous committee for each association, in order that a greater interest may be excited, and that the wants of the poor may be more accurately known. Certain members of the Auxiliary or Branch committees should also be appointed frequently to sit with the committees of Bible Associations. A proper direction will thus be given to tin ir efforts; a similarity of system will be maintained; aod the Parent Society, with all its auxiliaries and dependencies, will tints present a perfect whole, correspondent in plan and united in harmony; a noble fabrick, in which all the parts are combined at once for beauty and for strength; whose foundations are laid deep in the ground, but its pillars are seen from afar, and its turrets sparkle in the skies.
As the object and tendency of the measure here recommended, is to promote the widest circulation of the Scriptures, and to excite the greatest attention to them through the whole mass of the community, it may seem almost superfluous to enlarge upon the benefits which must result from its adoption. In a land professing to be Christian, where is the man who would arrest the free streams of heavenly mercyT Where is the man, who would not rather rejoice to behold every mound and barriersweptaway by the ample tide?—to see the liberal current "overflow and pass over" in all its rich and fertilizing influence? that the soil, which has hitherto been parched and unfrui'ul, or "fertile only to its own disgrace," may smile in new attraction, aiid cheer the eye with strange luxuriance.
If, in these awful times, we conceive ourselves to he placed upon an eminence from which we may contemplate the ever-varying, scenes which are flitting around lis, how melancholy is the prospect! The face of nature, indeed, continues the same: the works of creation still reflect the wisdom and goodness of the Creator: seed-time and harvest, and summer and winter, acknowledge their appointed course: the earth expands her beauties to the day, and the lights of heaven still rise and descend obedient to the will that formed them. But the moral world is thrown into convulsions; the image of God is defaced; the impress of the Divine hand seems to be almost obliterated; and the best and chiefest of his works—for the sake of which this fair aiid fertile earth is commanded to yield her increase, and the lights of heaven to travel on their destined way—presents little else than the fragments of a mighty wreck. Publick principle has been violated, publick order inverted; the fury of the nations lias shaken, even to their base, the pillars of civilized society, and the stately edifice itself seems tottering to its fall. Long have we remained in tranquillity, spectators of the scene. We have heard, indeed, the rolling of the thunder; but it was a distant sound. We have seen the terrours of the lightning; but its violence has been, spent upon others. The day seems now to be approaching, when this citadel of liberty itself may have to encounter the storm; to be rocked by the heavings of that earthquake, which has tumbled into ruins so many of the kingdoms around us. The ordinary checks of opinion and of law have been trampled upon with scorn. Plots of misrule, and confederacies strange to Englishmen, have spread with alarming rapidity, and have been accompanied by atrocities of sad and fearful expectation. Success has given confidence to crime: the incendiary hardly waits for the cover of darkness, and the hand of the assassin has executed its purpose even in the light of day.
These are scenes at which wise men are confounded, and good men turn pale. Nor will the considerate mind be much eased of its anxiety, by turning to the occurrences of private life, especially among the ignorant and unmstructed. In poverty there is nothing which necessarily tends to debase the character. Many have "wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy:" "The Son of Man" had "not where to lay hi* head:" but who can dwell, without emotion, upon the wretched state of the untutored and irreligious poor? It is here that we see human nature in its lowest condition, degraded and sunk in shame. We behold a creature, formed after the Divine *&semblance, but without one feature remaining to indicate his heavenly origin. For him there exists no reciprocal charity, no real union of affection, no Christian sentiment of mutual regard. To these feelings he is unable to rise; he knows them not; neither does he desire to know them. Thatstate which was intended, by the Giver of every good and perfect gift, to add, above all earthly means, to the happiness of man, by die society of one who should lie, at the same time, the ornament and the blessing ef social life, presents little else than the spectacle of cruelty and of suffering. The wickedness of the parent is reflected in his offspring. Scarcely has the inlant tongue learned to nrticulate, before it begins to blaspheme its Maker. The languageot cursing and reviling is there; and those who ought to be the pledges of affection, contribute only to exasperate evil, and accumulate misery;—the scandal of then-neighbours and the disgrace of their kind;—without comfort in this world, without hope for the next
Many are the evils, both of a publiek and private nature, to which human legislation can apply no remedy: they are to be removed by that influence alone which can reach the heart; by those sacred principles which are developed and enforce! in the records of unerring wisdom. The Scriptures have ever been acknowledged, hvgood men, as the best foundation of morals; and those who labour to give them, general circulation, ami to excite a general interest fur the perusal of them throughout the great body of the people, must be considered as rendering no common service both to individuals and to their country.
Let it be granted, that by any means the Holy Scripture is perused with diligence by every poor man who is able to read it: what would be the consequence.' Is it too much to hope, that the noise of tumult and disorder may be hushed in peace? that men may be taught to fear God and to honour the king? to do unto others as they «ish that others should do unto them? and to discharge with fidelity all the duties and relations of life? Is it an unreasonable expectation, that husbands may learn to cherish their wives and to love their children? that woman may rise to her just elevation and legitimate influence; and that the virtues of the parents may shine forth in their offspring? If the blessings of Christianity should be extended to all according to the \ measure in which they are enjoyed by many, how would this world of sorrow and of pain be converted into a picture of heaven! Should we refer to past experience, there is no fact more certain, than that the religious and moral state of every country ■ nay be fairly estimated by the facility of procuring Bibles, and the disposition to read them. c Appeal to a Christian, in any age and in any country, aud ask him Ahat is the greatest benefit which one child of mortality can confer upon another: "ill be not refer you to the Bible? He will tell you, that the streams of charity may, indeed, flow in ten thousand channels, and that they will not fail to convey blessings wherever their course can be directed; but that the records of Heaven are calcula'ed, above all other means, to meet the wants and to diminish the sufferings of man; to point out to him his condition; to point out to him also his privileges: to improve his state, and to brighten his prospects: to impart consolation as he proceeds upon his earthly pilgrimage, and to cheer his last hours, even in the agonies of dissolving na'ure, with a hope full of immortality.' It would seem as if the very touch of the inspired volume had power to communicate new feelings, and to kindle new desires; to elevate the standard of principle, and to raise the tone of morals; to purify the springs of domestick happiness, to tame the fierceness of the passions, to civilize manners, to bind in harmony the various ' members of the embodied state,' and to give to the family on earth some resemblance of the family above. Whenever Christianity has been permitted to walk forth in the native majesty of her form and the loveliness of her character, a blessed influence has travelled by her side. Her •harms have fixed the regards of infancy and of age. The mouth which was once 'full of cursing, deceit, and fraud,' has learned to utter the language of sincerity and praise. The feet which were 'swift to shed blood,' have run with alacrity in the <ray of God's commandments. Mankind have been taught to love one another, and lave delighted in the assembling of themselves together: the house of prayer has seen crowded with worshippers, and the sentiment of every heart has echoed responsive to the sweet singer of Israel: ' How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts! my soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee.' Let it be granted that the Scriptures are read with
of the creation are not at onec hushed in repose, or converted into sounds of joy' the promise is indisputable, and the blessing is sure. The change in the moral world will resemble the change in the natural: the sun arises, Mid the dews descend; hot the rigours of winter do not instantly abatoj nor does the face of nature at once resume the gayety of spring; yet the great principle of life and fertility is seemly «t work; it is imperceptibly operating in ten thousand channels, and gradually covers the regions of sterility with luxuriant vegetation and abnndant harvests.
If this be a just representation of the moral change which a knowledge of the Bible is calculated to produce, and if the system of Bible Associations tend, in an especial degree, to the general diffusion of that knowledge, few arguments can be so powerful as those which recommend their adoption. To the rich and to the middle ranks it may be urged,' You have a deep interest in the welfare of the poor If the security of a state depend upon the loyalty and morals of its people, by what other means- ean you contribute so essentially to the preservation of order, to the authority of the law, and the stability of the government' Among what description of men wJl you look for patience and industry, for sobriety and obedience!1 Who are the persons most deeent in their demeanour, most frugal in their habits, and, (what is no mean political consideration,) most anxious to avoid the necessity ot becoming chargeable to their parishes? The answer is obvious. And is it not then a matter of policy, as well as of duty, to create an interest among the lower classes for the possession and perusal of those sacred reeords from which benefits so great ami various are acknowledged to flow?
* And if' righteousness exaltcth a nation,' if national piety be recompensed by national mercies, in wlmt way can 'you hope so effectually to secure to your native country the protection of Him by whom 'kings reign and princes decree judgment,' as by extending lite, knowledge of his name and the blessings of his religion' By such means mav this empire be fixed indeed upon the Rock of ages,—tranquil ania's: general disturbance, and safe amidst surrounding ruin.
'Your zeal has already been attended by great success. By your liberal exer. tions, Britain has already become the benefactress of distant lands; and, while the nations are crumbling around her, she stands alone and pre-eminent. You bite opened many channels through which the streams of mercy and of life may flov: but extensive deserts are still to be found, and England itself yet contains many i parched and thirsty waste. If the lower orders be ignorant, it must be yours to instruct them; if they he careless and indifferent in this good cause, it must be yours to rouse them into action. Show litem their privileges and their duty: lay before them the benefits which they must themselves experience from hearty co-operation in such a service, and appeal to their hett feelings by displaying the blessings whitti they will eonferupon others. Let a concernfor the circulation of the Scripturesbc thus excited through the great body of our population, and the lapse of a few yean will furnish every poor family in the British dominions with the treasure of a Bibk If the poor can be induced to subscribe even the smallest weekly sum for the possession of the ScriptureB, and the distribution of them to others still |toorer—if they car he led to inquire into the wants of their neighbours, and to arrange the best means of supplying them—an interest will gradually be created in their own minds, to white they have hitherto been strangers; and that which at first was matter of indifference, will become the object of earnest attention. Such is the natural progress of the human mind. Those who give the Bible will soon find a desire to peruse it; and while engaged in recommending it to others, they will be impelled to examine it for themselves; to read it in their houses, to teach it to their children, and to make it the frequent subject of their tliottghts and conversation.
•Let not coldness or timidity suggest, that the attempt will be abortive: if despair of success should be the guide of our counsels, what great project could ever be accomplished? Had this feeling been suffered to damp the ardour of those who firr. raised the standard of Christianity among our ignorant forefathers, or to depress uV spirit of our reformers, what might have been at this day the condition of Engbtrel Was it in despair of success that the champions of humanity fought, for twenty loe-i; years, the battles of injured Africa? Was it thus that they rose again, after eotnta' and defeat, still fresh for engagement? No! Confident in their good cause, and in the approbation of Him who is the friend of the poor and needy, hoping as against bop<. they pursued with determination their glorious way, till at length they broke ber chains, and gave freedom to her sable sons. And why should you doubt of success n. attempting to interest the poor upon the most interesting of all subjects' Have uV> not senses, feelings, affections, passions like yourselves? Are they not influenced by the ordinary motives of hope and fear? Shall the ebullitions of folly, and the arose'■■-i harangues of democracy, awaken their enthusiasm for earthly liberty, whea thecan complain of no oppression, and can urge no nrwing; and shall they be utterly in. sensible when called to contemplate that heavenly liberty which makes them free indeed? which releases thera from the dominion of those sordid habits and degrading passions whose tyranny they experience every day? which rescues them from the bondage of Satan, and converts them into the children of God? Are they, in so many tnsucices, ready to confer a trilling benefit upon their poor neighbour, and will they deny him the greatest which a child of mortality can bestow? Shall the motive's which direct and govern them in the ordinary transactions of life, fail in that instance alone from which they derive tenfold force and incalculable importance? Shall the impression be less as the reasons are more powerful?
'Will it be insinuated, that the lower orders would rather associate and contribute ior a bad purpose than for a benevolent object? The very persuasion of their prone* ness to associate, should be an argument for attempting, with all your might, to give a right direction to that tendency, and to correct and improve it: if, by thus employing them in a good cause, they can be preserved fro in base and injurious combinations, you will render, both to them and to society, a double service. In times like the present, these considerations come with peculiar force.
'Will it be urged, that we have no encouragement to proceed in this work of charity? What! when millions are rousing themselves, in different quarters of the world, from the lethargy of ages, anxious to behold ' the desire of all nations,' can we possibly need any additional encouragement or motive for circulating those inestimable records which testify of Him?
'Will it be contended, that no great effect can be produced by small contributions? The contribution of an individual to the government is small; but it is by the aggregate of such sums that the slate, is supported. A ray of light and'a drop (if rain are small; but it is by the sun and the shower, that our harvests wave in the field, and by the accumulation of waters that the riches of all lauds are transferred to this.
*'Freely ye have received, freely give:' if you acknowledge for yourselves the blessed influence of Divine Revelation, invite others to partake of it The light of Heavenis streaming in all its effulgence, above and around you: () let not the beams be interrupted! Open for it a free passage into the dwellings of the poor!'
To men of humbler condition it may be observed, iu uddiliou to the arguments already adduced:
1 Although, for reasons best known to infinite "Wisdom, the Alruighty has withheld from you rank and opulence, yet has he given to you the privilege of conferring benefits on others, and of conferring litem in the highest degree. The facilities which you possess, for discovering ths wants of those immediately around yoa, may be considered as an intimation of Providence; that according to your ability you should seek to relieve them. Silver and gold you may have none to give; hut you can give that which is better tliau rubies. You -caunot, indeed, raise your poor neighbour above the pressure of the times, or remove those afflictions which arc especially incident to his condition: but you can furnish him with a remedy for alt: you can present him with those oracles of wisdom which will enlarge his views and imghteu his prospects; which will teach him that this scene of trouble is but the pilgrimage of a day; that he is but the tenant of an earthly tabernacle, which shall fresently be dissolved; and that the disembodied spirit shall then seek its everlasting home, shall ascend to that' building of God, the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.'
'Since the beginning of time, no method has ever been devised, by which you might do good on so large a scale, and by such easy means. The effects arising from other acts of charity must often be confined to the immediate object; but On- influence of your liberality will probably be permanent, and descend with increasing innings from age to age. It is an enterprise of exalted benevolence, which would become a sovereign better than his crown, and add a greater lustre to his throne than ibe wiriest enlargement of dominion. This is a work which may bring all classes into action without prejudice to any: here the rich and the poor may meet together in common exertion, for common good: poverty itself may be thus enriched, and the lowest rank ennobled: one generous feeling may animate all the orders of society, may impel them to the same labour of love, and crowu them with the same reward.
* What pleasure can be derived even from wealth, like the pleasure of doing good? and this is a gratification which, without riches, you may enjoy in its highest measure. Look upon your poorer brethren, and then ask, whether any delight can surpass the enjoyment of charity like this?—of charity, that extends blessings the most pure and exalted, to the humblest of mankind—that produces * an elevation of aiad and of feeling, which no poverty but Christian poverty can exhibit'—thatpves