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Bibles should always be distributed with prudence.
therance of this object will be gratefully appreciated. Nor should he omit to recommend, where necessary, the regular collection of the annual subscriptions; the immediate circulation of the reports, and other publications, of the Parent Society; and that strict observance of economy, in every department, which is alike essential to the character and prosperity of the institution. His correspondence with the Parent Committee should be frequent and confidential, including an exposition of the actual state of every society he visits. And he should proceed in his work under the constant recollection, that he is the representative of an institution, whose object is PEACE, and whose watch-word is CHARITY.
“ Let every man when he puts his hand to this work, consider that he is entering into the immediate service of the Most High God; that he is en gaging in an enterprise which is capable of producing more important results, for this country, and for the world at large, than the greatest events of a mere temporal character ever have produced ; that he aspires to the high honour of being instrumental in a great moral and spiritual renovation, which God has declared the world will undergo, and to the effecting of which He invites the services of those who fear and love Him: and let every one bring with him to this service, such a solemnity of mind, such a conviction of the importance of it, and such a high sense of his privilege in being permitted to engage in it, as will prepare him for undertaking whatever part of the duty may be committed to him, with alacrity, and with a firm, decided purpose of diligence and perseverance. While those who embark in this great cause, do so with a seriousness becoming its importance, let them, at the same time, place their sole reliance on the special interference and blessing of God; let them lift up their hands and eyes to Him who dwells in Heaven: and ask his support and direction, who alone can guide them in perplexity and sustain them under discouragements; who can remove obstacles, quell opposition, and, as the rivers of water, turn the hearts of men whithersoever he will." •
When agents are intrusted with Bibles and Testaments for distribution, as is sometimes the case, especially on the continent, they should be particularly careful not to circulate them in places where societies are established, without a previous arrangement with the local committees; as, by neglecting this precaution, they may injuriously interfere with the plans of such societies. And in every instance gratuitous distribution should, as much as possible, be avoided ; and the people be induced to purchase the Scriptures, which are generally valued and read in direct proportion to the expense or trouble which they have cost in obtaining them. A judicious regulation on this subject was adopted at an early period by the exemplary Committee of the Bâsle Bible So
• Address of the Committee of the Hibernian Bible Society, 1820,
Auxiliary System the principal support of a National Society. ciety, on placing a number of French Testaments in the hands of a pious and zealous clergyman for distribution. After reducing the price of each copy to eighteen-pence, they inform their agent, that “ he is at liberty to sell some of the copies at a higher price to wealthier persons, in order that he may be enabled to sell them to poorer classes for, less than eighteen-pence, and to give some away to the most indigent and worthy."
It may not be improper to observe, that grants of Bibles and Testaments for distribution should never be made to an individual, if a society be established in the district. In this, as in other respects, all unnecessary interference with the local institution must prove injurious.
4. It is in promoting and supporting the Auxiliary System that a national society is peculiarly indispensable, and constitutes a common centre of union and of strength. Without this central medium, the cause might indeed go forward, in a partial, unconnected, and imperfect manner, but destitute of that order, cohesion, and uniformity of proceeding which characterize the institution, and give facility to all its operations. By allotting to every department its own particular duty, and providing for the strict adherence of each to its own business exclusively, the duties of the several parts are kept distinct and separate, the great work is carried forward with comfort, while regularity and energy pervade the whole.
It is extremely desirable that some plan may be devised, by which the annual meetings of Auxiliary Societies shall be held in regular succession, on fixed and certain days, so as to allow of those preliminary arrangements which may secure assistance from the Parent Institution. The great and increasing number of those societies in Great Britain, precludes the possibility of such a measure, with a view to the attendance of all those meetings by the same individuals ; but the object may be attained by following the example of the Assize Circuits, and making an annual appointment of visiters for each division of the kingdom. If a map of the country, indicating those portions of it in which Auxiliary Societies and Associations are formed, were placed in the Committee Room of every National Bible Society, it would materially assist the arrangement now suggested." A similar plan may be beneficially adopted by the Associations in connexion with any particular Auxiliary Society, so as to secure the assistance of a deputation from the latter : this has been done in Southwark; and the happy effects will be detailed in their proper place.
Local wants best supplied by Local Societies.
It would further facilitate the communication between the Committee of every national society, and the Committees of its affiliated institutions, if the latter were to inform the Parent Committee of their days of meeting, which should be entered in a book kept for that purpose. And it may not be improper to suggest the advantage of holding those Committee Meetings early in the month, in order to receive and distribute the Monthly Extracts.
It will be evident, that when individual applications are made to National Societies for grants of Bibles and Testaments, the first consideration should be, whether local means be not already provided for the supply of the applicants. If an Auxiliary Society be established in the district, the claim should be referred to it in the first instance; and then all interference which might lead to confusion will be avoided. Even when the grant is solicited for prisons, hospitals, convict-ships, &c. it will be found advantageous to make it through the medium of the Auxiliary Society, which may be credited in account for the amount of such grant. It
be safely laid down as a general rule, that local necessities should be investigated and supplied by local societies; and any deviation from this rule should be considered as an exception, justified by peculiar circumstances alone.
If any Auxiliary Society require a supply of Bibles and Testaments, to an amount greater than the balance in its favour in the Parent Society's books, a minute investigation should precede the grant. Such an application would be novel in Great Britain, where it is the principle of every Bible Society and Association, at least, to support itself, if it cannot contribute in aid of the general object; but the case is different on the continent; and without the occasional aid of the Parent Institution or National Society, the demands could not be adequately supplied.
It may be worth the consideration of National Societies, whether the establishment of Auxiliaries and Associations will not be facilitated, by keeping a stock of Minute and Account Books, to be sold to such societies at the cost prices. A similarity of plan throughout the various parts of the system will thus be secured, and the mode of conducting the business rendered plain and intelligible. The Hibernian Bible Society has adopted this plan with considerable advantage.
5. The circulation of important and interesting information has been already referred to, as one of the most efficient
Correct Returns from all Auxiliaries, &c. very desirable.
means by which the design of the institution has been promoted. *
But it cannot be too strongly recommended to National Societies, to provide for the early and regular delivery of those publications to their subscribers and affiliated societies, and to apportion the space allotted to intelligence, so that every department may receive a due share of attention. The Annual Report should appear as soon as possible after every General Meeting, so as to confirm the impression made and the interest excited by the latter. The Appendix should contain a judicious selection of extracts; but brevity should be studied, not only from motives of economy, but because a voluminous report is seldom read by the great majority of those who receive it, and is unnecessary in reference to those Societies which publish monthly extracts of correspondence. For similar reasons, the list of individual subscribers may be advantageously omitted in the copies designed for general circulation. Every means should be adopted to procure correct returns of all Societies in connexion with the National Institution, and to insert them in the Annual Report, under their respective heads of-Auxiliaries, Branches, Associations, Marine, Juvenile, and Mechanics' Societies—the five latter being classed under the Auxiliary Societies with which they are severally connected. The interest and advantage of such a list would be materially increased, if the following particulars were inserted opposite to each :- 1. The estimated population of the district. 2. The number of individuals engaged as officers, collectors, &c. 3. The total number of subscribers. 4. The total number of Bibles and Testaments distributed. 5. The total amount received: and, 6. The amount remitted for the general object of the Parent Society. A printed circular, with a blank form of the required abstract, sent annually to the Committee of every Auxiliary Society, appears to be the best mode of attaining this object; which will be sufficiently illustrated by the following specimen of a return—the entries in Italics being made by the Secretaries of the Auxiliary Society. By deducting the aggregate population of those districts in which a Branch Society and Associations are established, from the total population of the entire district embraced by the Auxiliary Society, as specified in the first line, the proportion of the latter, which is still unoccupied by Local Bible Institutions, is immediately ascertained.
• See Section VIII.