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cheering beams of the sun, have received ample compensation, in having their hitherto unpierced clouds of ignorance dispelled by the rays of the Gospel. The Bible has now become the class-book of the hedge-school, and supplanted those foolish legends which poisoned the minds of youth. The children read no other book ; and must necessarily imbibe all their ideas of good and evil from this pure fountain of morality, this unerring standard of right and wrong. The attention of the parents has been arrested, by the reading of their children at home; and in many places they have attended, with adults, the evening schools which have been opened for instructing persons prohibited by their daily occupations from giving up any other portion of their time. Nor is this the only effect of the circulation of the word of God. Your Committee have been credibly informed, that, in several remote vil. lages of your county, numbers of persons, anxious to receive Scriptural knowledge, meet together after the close of the evening schools, not, as formerly, to witness scenes of idle amusement, drunkenness, and gaming, or to enter into illegal combinations and dangerous conspiracies, but to hear the sacred volume read aloud to them, and to listen to those sublime precepts which inculcate love to their neighbours, loyalty to their king, and reverence to their God."
From the Ninth Report of the Hibernian Bible Society:
“ Your Committee could mention entire villages, formerly the abodes of idleness and immorality, now exhibiting the pleasing aspect of industry and decorum. The blasphemer fears an oath ;-the Sabbath-breaker respects the holy day of rest ;--the drunkard is sober ;-and he that stole, steals no more, 'but labours with his hands, to provide things honest in the sight of all men.'
“A striking proof of the salutary effect produced by the circulation of the holy scriptures, has recently come to the knowledge of your Committee, and deserves particular notice :- A middle aged man, who had been lately expelled from a yeomanry corps in consequence of expressing rebellious sentiments, has, since that disgraceful occurrence, been so changed by reading the Bible, that he is reported by the clergyman of his parish to be now a person in whose loyalty and integrity he can place the fullest con, fidence."
Although not immediately connected with the direct object of this work, it would be an act of the greatest injustice to conclude a section appropriated to IRELAND, without a distinct reference to two other institutions, which have essentially contributed to the moral and religious improvement of that country, by the circulation of the holy scriptures.
These are, “ The London Hibernian Society, for establishing Schools, and circulating the Holy Scriptures in Ireland,” formed in the year 1806; and “The Sunday-School Society for Ireland,” established in 1810.
The former has now under its care 529 schools, containing 58,202 scholars; and is only prevented by the state of its
• Twelfth Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society: Appendix, No. Lxxx.
Concluding Observations on Chapter the First.
funds, from extending its operations in a fourfold degree.* The number of Sunday schools connected with the latter institution, is 1091, containing 113,525 scholars; and its sphere of usefulness is progressively enlarging.t To both of these institutions, the British and Foreign Bible Society has frequently afforded the most efficient aid, by grants of the holy scriptures for the use of their schools, to an extent exceeding, in the aggregate, seventy thousand copies.
1. The reader, who has thus far traced the system of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and the more prominent results of its operations, will be prepared to acknowledge the justice of that sentiment, with the expression of which this chapter commenced; and be disposed to ascribe the origin, the extent, and the success of the institution, to him alone, " who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.” It has been well observed, that “ the seed from which this fruitful plant has sprung, was sown in a season apparently little favourable to its growth and fertility: but, nourished by the secret influences of Heaven, it has arisen and flourished amidst storms and convulsions; extending its loaded boughs to the ends of the earth, and offering the blessings of shade and refreshment to the weary and afflicted of every nation under heaven. It is still putting forth fresh shoots, in almost every direction ; and proclaiming, to all who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness, “ Fear not”—" for the tree beareth her fruit." I
Next to the protecting hand of Divine Providence, the success of the society is attributable to its strict adherence to the two great and fundamental principles of the institutionthe distribution of the Scriptures alone; and the admission of persons of all religious denominations to a participation of its privileges and its labours. But it is equally evident, that no inconsiderable portion of this success may be traced to the SYSTEM of the Society, and to those improvements of it which have from time to time been adopted. Whether this system
* See Fourteenth Report of the London “ Hibernian Society."
Tenth Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society, p. lvii.
Importance of System. - Sub-division of labour.
have yet attained that degree of perfection of which it is susceptible, is a question worthy the consideration of every National Bible Society; and any suggestions in furtherance of this object will be treated with indulgence.
2. The distribution of the Scriptures throughout the world, may appear to be a simple design; and so far as the term indicates a singleness of object, it is so: but the extraordinary fact, that three hundred and fifty years had elapsed from the invention of the art of printing, before any adequate measures were devised for the attainment of this object, is a conclusive proof that its importance was not duly appreciated; or, that the means of its accomplishment, if suggested, were deemed insufficient. Those means are now happily provided; but it is evident that the superintendence which a national institution can exercise over their operation, must be of a very general, though highly beneficial nature. The system of the society is founded on the sub-division of labour; and this principle, in its practical application, descends from the Parent Committee to its Auxiliaries and Branches, and thence to their Associations, until it is brought down to the actual dissemination of the Scriptures among the people.
A National Bible Society, if properly organised, and its executive details conducted by Sub-Committees, as recommended in Section II., will find ample employment in the exercise of this superintendence ; which may be divided into the following branches :
1. The employment of Agents. 11. The establishment and assistance of Auxiliary Societies and
Associations. II. The publication of important and interesting information. iv. The means of insuring a regular and adequate supply of Bibles
and Testaments. v. The correct appropriation of the funds placed at its disposal. On each of which a few suggestions will be submitted.
3. The numerous and important advantages of judicious and well-qualified agents, cannot be too strongly impressed on the attention of the Committees of Bible Institutions. This subject has been amply illustrated in Section VII., as regards the foreign operations of the Parent Society: and the following instances will afford sufficient evidence of the value of domestic agency, in promoting the organization of local establishments.
Comparative State of different Auxiliary Societies.
The Reading Auxiliary Society was established in March 1809;
and was re-organized in April 1816. The following are the
comparative results :-
Ditto remitted to
Parent Society}1942 7 5
1723 Bibles and Testaments distributed.
3805 Bibles and Testaments distributed.
The LIVERPOOL Auxiliary Society was established in March 1811;
and was re-organized in January 1818. The following are the comparative results :
In Seven Years under former System: In Two Years under improved System : Total Amount collected....£.8917 10 8 Total Amount collected....£.6196 70 Ditto
Parent Society} 7722 1 10
Parent Society } 5937 18
21,213 Bibles and Testaments distributed. 15,409 Bibles and Testaments distributed.
The NorthAMPTONSHIRE Auxiliary Society was established in
May 1812 ; and was re-organized in October 1817. The fol
lowing are the comparative results ::
Ditto remitted to
Parent Society S
3934 3 11 8070 Bibles and Testaments distributed. 10,004 Bibles and Testaments distributed.
remitted to 4010 0 0
The PLYMOUTH, &c. Auxiliary Society was established in July 1811; and was re-organized in November 1918.
The following are the comparative results :In Seven Years under former System : In Two Years under improved System: Total Amount collected. ...£.2517 7 5 || Total Amount collected. ...£.3317 18 9 Ditto remitted to 2275 7 10
remitted to ? 2998 16 5 Parent Society
Parent Society S 5230 Bibles and Testaments distributed. 6046 Bibles and Testaments distributed.
The VALE-OF-AYLESBURY Auxiliary Society was established in
August 1815; and re-organized in October 1817. The follow
ing are the comparative results:In Two Years under former System : In Two Years under improved System : Total Amount collected.....£.243 11 4Total Amount collected.... £.1315 3 5 Ditto remitted to
Ditto remitted to
173 11 10 Parent Society)
1295 13 2 Parent Society
317 Bibles and Testaments distributed.
2873 Bibles and Testaments distribnted.
On the Employment of Agents. Qualifications necessary for an Agent.
Similar effects have followed the adoption of the system wherever it has been steadily pursued; and, as the employment of suitable agents appears to be the only mode by which it can be generally introduced, the attention of National Bible Societies should be directed to the selection and appointment of individuals, properly qualified for this important department. The astonishing success that has attended the exertions of the Parent Society's foreign agents—of which a sketch has been already given and the considerations which it forces on every reflecting mind, furnish an imperative call for the increase of such devoted labourers, to give effect to the gracious purposes of Divine Providence.
An agent should be intimately acquainted with the system of the society, throughout its various departments, and qualified to assist in forming and organizing new societies and associations. In the pursuit of his object, he will find the advantage of consulting those individuals whose station and influence in society, and knowledge of the district, render them competent advisers; and as the attainment of a positive good may be retarded, if not frustrated, by injudicious haste, he should always be influenced in his proceedings by local circumstances.
The attendance of general meetings constitutes a prominent duty; but his services in the committee-room are frequently of equal, if not superior, importance; and his arrangements should always be made with especial reference to this latter object, to which a more distinct allusion will be made in the next chapter. He should be furnished with an adequate supply of those publications which explain and illustrate the design and beneficial effects of the society; and avail himself of every favourable opportunity to circulate information on the subject.
In visiting Auxiliary Societies and Associations, he should note their comparative progress or declension;—investigate the causes of such effect ;-point out, temperately, but firmly, the slightest deviation from the strict line of procedure recommended by the Parent Institution;—and examine the tendency of every measure adopted for giving increased local facility to their operations. In no respect can his attention and superintendence be more profitably directed, than to the inspection and revision of the account-books of local societies. As it must be a source of satisfaction to all parties, to have these books kept in a correct and methodical manner, so as to exhibit, at any period, the actual state of the funds and stock of the society, any suggestions in fur