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First Juvenile Bible Society formed at Sheffield.

SECTION I.

ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF JUVENILE ASSOCIATIONS.

1. The first Juvenile Bible Society of which we possess any information, is that of SHEFFIELD, established, in the year 1804, without any knowledge of the existence of the British and Foreign Bible Society. The following extract of a letter

a from the Rev. T. Best, one of the Secretaries of the Sheffield Auxiliary Society, conveys so interesting an account of the origin of this remarkable Society, that no apology can be necessary for its introduction :

“ The Sheffield Juvenile Bible Society commenced in 1804. Its beginning was very small; it was indeed the least of all seeds.-A young lady about fifteen years of age, observing, in her visits to the poor, a deplorable want of the holy scriptures, determined to do what she could towards supplying this want : she mentioned to her younger brother her intention of contributing something every week towards purchasing a Testament; for at this time she had no idea of being able to give away a Bible. She began with a penny, and he with a halfpenny: they procured a tin box, in which they kept their savings, till at length they amounted to sixteen pence, with which they bought a Testament. This young lady next drew up a short appeal, which she sent to her school-fellows: the proposal was received and entered upon with ardour, and the Testaments were given away as fast as they could be procured. A degree of system was gradually adopted ; and the society has at different times received presents of books and money. The largest amount received in any one year was 321. At first the society distributed Testaments only ; but of late it has confined its distribution to Bibles ; and these, as much as possible, of the largest size. The Committee consists of four of the members, who meet every fortnight."

Although an Auxiliary Society, and, more recently, a Ladies' Association, have been established at Sheffield, this little society continues its operations independent of both, paying over its funds to the former, and drawing back the full amount in Bibles and Testaments at cost-prices. The total number of copies distributed, during the sixteen years of its existence, exceeds two thousand five hundred.

This Society, it will be perceived, expends the whole of its funds in the purchase of Bibles and Testaments for gratuitous distribution ;-a system which experience has proved to be inexpedient, and the evils of which can be counteracted only, by the greatest caution and judgment in the selection of the recipients.

The name of this young lady was Catherine Elliott. She is now the estimable mother of a family; but her zeal for the interests of the Society, which she founded, is unabated, and she still acts as its Treasurer.

Holborn Sunday School.-Surrey-Chapel Association.

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2. From no class of the community has the Bible Society received more constant, and, in proportion to their means, liberal support, than from the teachers and children of SUNDAY Schools. The first contribution from this source was made, in the year 1808, by the Holborn Sunday School; and the aggregate amount remitted by that institution, to the close of the year 1819, is 2821. 7s. 6d. The following extract of a letter from the Secretary explains the mode of contribution:

" Each teacher subscribes one penny per week; and those children who wish it give one halfpenny per week : and we have the gratification to see several of the old scholars, who have been honourably dismissed the school, cheerfully petitioning to add their little mite weekly to the common stock. May the Divine Author of the Bible continue to prosper the efforts of your truly honourable Society, till all the inhabitants of the globe shall possess the precious Word of God, and, by the influences of the Holy Spirit, savingly understand it."

3. In the summer of 1812, the first Juvenile Association on a regular and systematic plan was established, under the designation of the SURREY-CHAPEL Bible Association, and composed principally of the children and teachers of twelve of the schools in connexion with the Southwark Sunday-School Society, comprising about three thousand scholars. In reference to this subject, the author feels a melancholy pleasure in recording the name of his lamented friend Mr. BENJAMIN NEALE, to whose judgment, energy, and perseverance, the institution of this extraordinary Association must, in a great measure, be ascribed. He watched over its progress with parental anxiety; and to the close of his active and valuable life it continued to be an object near his heart.

Of the success which has attended this Association, the following statement of the aggregate results, to April 1820, will be a satisfactory evidence:Total number of Contributors and Subscribers, about ... 12,000

Ditto of Bibles and Testaments distributed 9,316 Total amount remitted to the Southwark Auxiliary Bible}£.2115

Society 4. In the year 1809, the young ladies of Miss Teulon's School at Hackney made their first remittance to the Parent Society, and have steadily continued their generous aid in every succeeding year. The average number of contributors is about twenty-five; and the total amount contributed to the present time is 1081. for which no return is required.

5. Amongst the earliest efforts of this description, those of a young lady at COLCHESTER deserve particular notice. On the 1st of January 1813, she commenced a Juvenile Bible

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Colchester.- Association at Mr. Elwell's School, Hammersmith.

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Association, consisting of fifty young persons, chiefly under ten years of age, by whose united subscriptions she was enabled, before the close of that year, to present a donation of 11l. 12s. 8d. to the Auxiliary Society. Under the prudent and persevering direction of the same benevolent individual, this little society continues its laudable exertions; and the aggregate amount of its contributions in the seven years, ending November 1820, exceeds ninety pounds, for which no return of Bibles and Testaments has been required. Several School Associations have been subsequently established in connexion with the same Auxiliary Society, which are thus noticed in their Tenth Annual Report:

“From one of these it appears the sum of 91. 18s. 4d. has been received ; from another, organized with a president, treasurer, secretary, and nine collectors, the sum of 101. 198. ; from another, the sum of 11. 4s, 8d. a contribution equally honourable to the parties who made it; and from two schools of poor girls in the parish of St. Peter, 12.; making together 221. 158. - In addition to these sums, your Committee have to state the receipt of 3 from an Association among the young gentlemen of Mr. Robertson's esta. blishment; and of 51. from one among those of Mr. Seaman's; and from the children of the Lancasterian Sunday School a free contribution of 17s. 10d. in addition to their purchase of Bibles. . ... These may be regarded only as parts of the sums actually contributed by our youth, many among them being subscribers to the collectors of districts in the Ladies' Association ; and it is also pleasing to observe, that many of those who have assisted your object have given a considerable assistance to other institutions of a religious nature.”

6. In February 1813, a Juvenile Bible Association was established among the young gentlemen of Mr. ELWELL'S School at Hammersmith; which has been conducted with such exemplary attention to system, and characterized by such a degree of perseverance, as entitle it to particular notice. As the members of this little society attribute much of their success to the practical application of their VIIIth, IXth, and Xth Rules, no apology can be requisite for introducing the entire Code of Regulations.

Laws and REGULATIONS of the Association. I. That this Association be denominated, “ A JUVENILE BIBLE ASSOCIATION, formed for the purpose of aiding the Funds of the Kensington, Chelsea, Fulham, and Hammersmith Auxiliary Bible Society, by Annual Donations."

II. That a Committee be appointed, consisting of nine members, includ. ing a chairman, a secretary, a treasurer, and a collector ; which shall meet every Wednesday; when the treasurer and collector shall give an account of subscriptions received that day, and donations received during the preceding week.

III. That no business be transacted, unless five of the committee be present.

Rules and Regulations of Mr. Elwell's Association.

IV. That all sorts of conversation, or behaviour, irrelevant to the business before the committee, from the time that order is called till the time that the meeting is actually adjourned, be considered disorder, and, as such, punished by a fine of twopence, to be added to the funds of the Association.

V. That all Resolutions agreed to by the committee be signed by the chairman.

VI. That a new committee, chairman, secretary, treasurer, and collector, be appointed at the commencement of every half-year.

VII. That, at the commencement of each half-year, the chairman make inquiry whether any evidence of improper conduct can be substantiated. against any member of the committee; and that if no such proofs are adduced, each member of the former committee may resume his seat in the new one ;-all vacancies being filled up by election.

VIII. That if any member of the Association give a donation of two guineas, or separate donations to that amount, at or after his departure from the school, he shall become a Vice-Patron.

IX. That those members who, at their departure from the school, give a donation of one guinea, shall be considered Members for Life.

X. That three deputy collectors be elected quarterly, who shall receive the weekly subscriptions and donations; and that no person be chosen a member of the committee who has not previously passed through the office of deputy collector for a quarter of a year.

XI. That the committee be regular in their attendance on the appointed day; and that no member of it be absent more than once, (unless some sufficient reason for his non-attendance can be assigned to the chairman,) on pain of vacating his seat.

XII. That when the votes are equal, the chairman may give a casting or deciding vote; and shall have the power of calling a special meeting of the committee when he thinks proper.

XIII. That no sort of canvassing or bribery be allowed at the election of new committees, or officers of the Association, or at the proposing of Reso. lutions.

XIV. That no member be permitted to borrow money out of the funds of the Association.

XV. That a general meeting of the members of the Association be held twice every year, at such times as the committee shall think fit to appoint.

The following is an extract from the Report of this Association, for 1819:

“ Besides the advantage immediately derived from your subscriptions and . donations, your example brings with it one still greater. It will, doubtless, give you great pleasure to hear, that one of your former members, whose zeal in this cause has often been witnessed, bas lately established a Juvenile Bible Association in a school near Portsmouth, and' adopted the rules of your association. Your Committee earnestly exhort other members to follow this example; hoping that, by this means, associations on a similar plan may be formed, and thus a greater number of youthful advocates may arise to succeed those who are now the great supporters of the Bible Society. Your Committee feel happy in the consideration that it is not a fleeting impulse of youthful ardour which has excited you to undertake the support of so great a cause, but a steady determination, arising from feelings of love to mankind and gratitude to God, which has influenced your exertions, and directed your operations.”

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Results of this Association.—Leaf-Square School.— Edinburgh Association.

The average number of contributors is thirty-six ; and the total amount already remitted for the general object of the British and Foreign Bible Society, is 2311. 3s. 7 d.

In reference to this Association, and to a kindred institution in the same district, the Committee of the Kensington Auxiliary Society, in their Third Annual Report, observe :

The young gentlemen of Mr. Standen's Academy (Hammersmith) have continued to present their yearly donation of fourteen guineas : while those in connexion with the establishment of Mr. Elwell, of the same place, have raised their former subscription of twenty guineas to twenty-five, and have given five guineas, in addition, to the Hammersmith Association. Let those attend to this fact, who thought that the continuance of juvenile ardour was not to be expected, and that the hopes expressed of this nature were sanguine and unwarranted. For themselves, the Committee still entertain the same hopes; and from no quarter do they less apprehend disappointment than from the young."

At York, Bradford, Exeter, Manchester, Kingston-on-Thames, and a few other places, similar Associations have been subsequently formed. Of these, the Juvenile Association of the Leaf-Square Academy, near Manchester, merits particular, notice, in consequence of the zeal and judgment that have characterized its proceedings. It was established in the year 1814: the average number of contributors is about forty; and :

; the amount, collected to April 1820, is 1171. 11s, 3d.

7. As there is no country upon earth which is more indebted to education and the Bible than SCOTLAND-elevated as she has been in the scale of nations through their instrumentality—so there is none that has more strikingly evinced its gratitude, by promoting the extension of the one, and the circulation of the other. In the formation of Juvenile Bible Associations, her youth exhibited an early example, and have continued with steady perseverance their liberal aid. The first institution of this kind in Scotland appears to have been that of the Edinburgh Juvenile Society, established in the spring of 1813, the origin of which is thus described in the fourth Annual Report of the Edinburgh Bible Society :

“A few young persons connected with a Sabbath School voluntarily began with contributing the small sum of a halfpenny per week on account. of the Bible Society : their numbers gradually increased, until some grown. up persons considered it their duty to encourage their efforts, and agreed to form them into a society, and to assist in the management of their con

It appeared to them, that, by an Association of this kind, besides the pecuniary advantage to the Bible Society, an impression peculiarly favourable might be made on the minds of the young persons themselves. While it cannot be expected that all who become members will do so under the influence of serious feeling, it is at least likely that this Society will contain none openly wicked and profane. By the frequent intercourse of,

cerns.

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