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A Depository requisite.—Bibles, &c. should be stamped.
In addition to the annual reports and monthly extracts of correspondence, occasional papers, similar to the “ Brief View” and “Compendium,"* may be circulated with considerable advantage by National Bible Societies, particularly in districts where the design of the institution is not generally known or understood.
6. To insure a regular and adequate supply of Bibles and Testaments, a Depository is indispensably requisite. In Russia, America, Wurtemberg, and other countries where National Bible Societies are instituted, an establishment for printing and binding constitutes an important branch of this department; but in Great Britain, where the privilege of printing the holy scriptures of the authorised version is confined to the two universities, the king's printers, and, under certain limitations, the patentee, a printing establishment is unnecessary.
The trouble of examining and collating copies is materially diminished, except in the first instance, by the invention of stereotype printing; but those who are charged with the superintendence of the depository cannot bestow too much attention on the duties of this appointment. The quality of the paper, ink, and binding materials, as well as the workmanship, should be carefully examined, and no copies be sent out before they are properly seasoned. The designation of the society should be stamped upon the binding of every Bible and Testament issued,-a precaution which was adopted by the Parent Institution in London at its outset, and has been followed with advantage by the Russian, American, and some other National Societies.
It may not be altogether unnecessary to observe, that Auxiliary Societies, and, through them, Branch Societies and Associations, should receive their Bibles and Testaments from the National or Parent Society exclusively. The character of the institution is, in degree, involved in the acts of its connected societies; and if incorrect copies of the Scriptures, or any additions to them, were issued by any one of the latter, the whole would suffer. It should be the constant object and study of each and all, to preserve inviolate their fundamental principle.
7. The funds placed at the disposal of a National Society consist of its direct subscriptions, donations, and legacies; remittances from the institutions connected with it; the pro
See Appendix, Nos. v. and vi.
System of Control over the Funds of the Society. - General Meetings. duce of sales of Bibles and Testaments; and occasional grants from the Parent Society in London. The appropriation of these funds should be under the control and direction of the General Committee; but the examination and payment of bills may be referred to a judicious Sub-Committee, which should report monthly. The mode of keeping the accounts with Auxiliary Societies has been already detailed in its proper place; but it may be suitably observed here, that whether Auxiliary Societies give notice of their intention or not, they are at liberty to order Bibles and Testaments to the amount of the balance standing at their credit; and they should be requested, annually, to specify what proportion of such balance may be transferred for the general purposes of the National Society. A statement of the receipts and expenditure, duly authenticated and signed by the auditors, should be included in the Annual Report.
8. As the tone and spirit of the General Meetings of Bible Institutions depend, in a considerable degree, on the recommendation and example of those who represent the Parent Society on these occasions, this appears to be the most suitable place to introduce the subject.
Whoever has been in the habit of attending those meetings, especially within the last few years, must have perceived a material and progressive improvement in the manner of conducting them. In the earlier period of the society's existence, when its principles and its practice were alike questioned, the advocates of both found themselves compelled to adopt a defensive course, and an argumentative style, which are, happily, no longer necessary.—The importance of the cause, and the strict adherence of those who conduct its
proceedings to their fundamental principles, are generally felt and acknowledged ; and it only remains to confirm and extend these impressions, by the prudence, the wisdom, and the Christian liberality of its public agents, and the gradual developement of its beneficial tendency and effects.
“ It were much to be desired,” observes the Rev. J. Owen, " that in anniversary meetings in general, controversial topics should be wholly avoided, as alien from the nature of such commemorations, and adverse to the purposes for which they are held."* And the following extract affords a gratifying evidence, that a similar feeling prevails on the continent of Europe :“ Bible Societies are neither preachers nor interpreters; they provoke
Sec Preface to Owen's Hissory, Vol. I. p. xvi.
Proper feelings to be cherished by the Society's advocates.
no controversies; neither do they infringe the rights of any individual, or church : they content themselves with giving the book which every Christian communion respects, and which all acknowledge to contain the only laws which God has revealed to man. They engrave, on metal, the same commandments which were traced by the finger of God on tables of stone ; and they leave to the ministers of every religious persuasion the task of explaining them, and engraving them on the heart. Since, in the sight of God, there is no exception of persons, revealed religion belongs to the whole human race: and who can object, that this charter of the liberties and prerogatives of man should be translated into every language ; for where is the nation, or where the savage tribe, that has not its lot or part in this inheritance ?” *
Animated by sentiments like these, the Christian advocate of the Bible Society will pursue his course, “ zealously affected in a good cause," but asserting its merits with temper and moderation ;-firm and unshaken in his attachment, but governed, in his expression of it, by that charity which “suffereth long, and is kind ;"—expecting a continuance of that success which has hitherto attended his exertions, but prepared to attribute it to the mercies of God in CHRIST JESUS; and influenced by a desire to ascribe all the power and all the praise to the source of “every good and perfect gift.” Allowing, in its utmost latitude, the right of private judgment, he will never condemn the motives of those whose opinions differ from his own; and will always recollect, that a man may love his Bible, and yet decline to co-operate with the Bible Society. Among the many causes which have contributed to the success of the institution, none have been more conspicuous than the meekness and liberality manifested by its advocates : they appear to have imbibed the benevolent spirit of the cause, and to have realized the hope so admirably expressed by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer :-" It is not simply,” he observes, “to the diffusion of the Bible, but to the co-operation of all Christians to diffuse it, and to the effect of that co-operation on our own hearts, that I look, not only for the establishment of Christian faith, but the extension of Christian charity.” And in the loud language of their conduct, they seem to have said one to another, “ If we cannot reconcile all opinions, let us endeavour to unite all hearts.”+
Neither is it in his individual capacity alone, nor in the line of public advocacy, that he may thus illustrate the tendency and recommend the claims of the institution. His example will have a powerful influence on those who conduct the
• Third Report of the Bible Society at Lausanne, for the Canton de Vaud. + See Letters to the Rev. Dr. Marsh, and John Coker, Esq. Appendix, No. I.
Complimentary votes at General Meetings may be avoided.
proceedings of subordinate societies; and by "a word fitly spoken," he may contribute to the extension of the empire of charity and peace.
The improvement in the mode of conducting public meetings, is in no respect more manifest, than in the avoidance of that complimentary strain, which is peculiarly unsuitable on those occasions. In
every benevolent institution, the members are too ready to compliment one another for what they have done; forgetting, that what has been accomplished, may bear such a slender proportion to what might and ought to have been attempted, as rather to carry with it a portion of
And even in reference to those individuals whose patronage, or services, may have essentially contributed to the progress of the cause, the sentiment of gratitude should be expressed with caution, and under a constant fear of overstepping the line which separates respect and adulation. The most zealous and ardent friend of the Bible Society would be the first to shrink from that praise which he best deserved, and which subjected him to the risk of being classed among those, “who receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only.
Conducted in this spirit of conciliation and Christian liberality; giving honour to whom honour is due, but avoiding the language of fattery; and keeping steadily in view the single and simple object they are designed to promote; the meetings of Bible Societies will continue to confirm and extend an interest in the cause. But whoever has attentively watched the progress of the institution, must have lamented, in too many instances, the speedy evaporation of that pure and generous feeling, which had been excited; and under the influence of which, a strong desire had been raised to co-operate in a work replete with blessings to the human race. An impulse, rather than a principle, has been communicated ;-when we have separated, “the world and the things of it" have gradually resumed their empire in our hearts; and we have continued to act as we did before, until another year has witnessed a similar scene of excitement, and been followed by a return of unproductive intention. “Work while it is called to-day: the night cometh, wherein no man can work.”
Such are the means, by the application of which, under the , Divine blessing, the British and Foreign Bible Society has
• Fifth Report of the Paisley, &c. Auxiliary Bible Society.
“ We shall reap abundantly, if we faint not.”
been enabled to accomplish, thus far, its work of mercy. If there be errors in the agency employed, or in the system adopted, let them not impair the value of the object in our estimation, nor weaken our obligations as Christians and as men. “ If, among the thousands to whom the Bible is given, only one weary pilgrim of this earth should be refreshed-one sufferer relieved-one weak believer strengthened-one thoughtless sinner roused-one wanderer led back to the right way-one who has fallen raised up-one soul saved ....... who would not gladly co-operate in such a work, and cheerfully bestow his mite in its behalf?"*
In concluding this division of the work, the author recurs with pleasure to the just and animated language of his friend, the historian of the Society :
“Of this institution, founded on principles so simple and just ; directed to ends of such transcendent excellence and utility; combining moreover in its favour so many and powerful interests in almost every part of the world ; and—what is more than all—distinguished by such signal testimonies of the Divine approbation and blessing ; our hopes may be permitted to keep pace with our wishes : and there is scarcely a measure of prosperity that we could reasonably desire for it, on which we may not venture with humble confidence to reckon. Past occurrences authorise the expectation of its perpetuity; and present appearances lend to that presumption every confirmation.
“ In the confidence inspired by these considerations, the friends of the institution, both at home and abroad, may prosecute their labours with cheerfulness, and wait the issue of them with more than resignation. In disseminating the word which God has revealed, they are executing the plans of His wisdom, and fulfilling the purposes of His love. Every step they take in such a career, is so much done towards advancing the knowledge of His will and the kingdom of His Son. Through their instrumentality, and that of those who may succeed them, the work shall progressively go forward ; till, all nations being brought to the light of Divine truth, and subdued to the obedience of faith, every knee shall bow to the sceptre of CHRIST, and every tongue shall confess that He is LORD, to the glory of God the FATHER.” +
Speech of Lord Teignmouth, at the Sixteenth Anniversary, + Owen's History, Vol. III. p. 511 et seq.