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Dr. Pinkerton-turns his attention to the want of Bibles in Russia.
appeal on behalf of this interesting and destitute people. Through this circuitous channel the intelligence was conveyed, by a respectable correspondent in Edinburgh, to the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and thus the question of administering aid to the necessitous Icelanders was brought regularly and seriously before them.
“ Such were the circumstances to which we are to ascribe the introduction of the Rev. Messrs. Paterson and Henderson to the notice and the employment of the British and Foreign Bible Society ; and the origin of those exertions, which, promoted by the wisdom and activity of these diligent labourers, and fostered by the paternal care of a benign and gracious Providence, have terminated in measures so dignified and comprehensive, on the part of the Northern Powers of Europe, for circulating the Holy Scriptures among the inhabitants of their respective dominions
2. Another invaluable Agent of the Society is thus introduced :
“ The Rev. Robert Pinkerton, like his co-adjutors in the North of Europe, Messrs. Paterson and Henderson, is a native of Scotland, and emigrated from his country in May 1805, under the patronage of the Edinburgh Missionary Society, in order to serve as a Missionary, at the religious settlement in the Caucasus. In this situation he continued at Karass, till the state of his health compelled him to leave it, in September 1808. In the month of March, 1809, he took up his residence at Moscow; and obtained very honourable and advantageous employment, as preceptor in the families of several persons of distinction.
“ While thus occupied, Mr. Pinkerton never lost sight of the spiritual object to which he had considered himself devoted : and as he had been diverted from the pursuit of it in one direction, he resolved to let no opportunity escape, by which he might be enabled to promote it in another. In this state of mind, a letter from Mr. Steinkopff, at the close of 1809, decided him to turn his attention to the state of the Scriptures in Russia, and to the means of providing for them, in that extensive empire, a more general and more effectual dissemination. In the winter of 1811, Mr. Pinkerton had so far succeeded, as to have prevailed upon some of the first nobility to take an active interest in promoting the establishment of a Bible Society in the city of Moscow. In the spring of 1812, the plan of such an Insti. tution was digested in the Russian Language ; and this plan, which com, prehended the Scriptures in the native Slavonian as well as the foreign dialects of the empire, was to have been submitted to his Imperial Majesty in the ensuing winter, and, in the event of its receiving the Imperial sanction, the Society was to be forthwith established ct Moscow. Anxious for the accomplishment of this important undertaki.., and encouraged by the success of similar exertions both at Stockholm and Abo, Mr. Pinkerton was induced to open a correspondence with Mr. Paterson, which terminated in bringing them together t.”
One of the most important tours undertaken by the Society's agents, was that recently concluded by Dr. Pinkerton. Leaving his home and family at St. Petersburg in the spring of 1818, this devoted man proceeded into White Russia, Samogitia, and Lithuania, encouraging and assisting the societies already established, and preparing the way for similar institutions in
! Owen’s History, Vol. I. p. 240 et seq.
+ Ibid. Vol. II. p. 237 et seq.
Rev. W. Jowett-Rev. C. Burckhardt-Egypt, Syria, Palestine, &c.
creatures, he will appreciate the value of AGENCY in a cause like this; and acknowledge the justice of an observation already made, that its officers and advocates have been prepared and qualified, in an extraordinary manner, for the work wherein they were engaged.
4. In another and deeply interesting portion of the globe, comprising the eastern shores and islands of the Mediterranean, Egypt, Syria, and Palestine, the Society has derived great advantage from the extensive travels and zealous labours of the Rev. W. Jowett and C. Burckhardt. The latter, “a young man of superior talents, ardent piety, and the most enterprising zeal," passed some time at Alexandria and Grand Caïro; and then went to Jerusalem, where he visited all the convents and public places, and furnished them everywhere with the Word of God."-After succeeding in opening many acceptable channels for the distribution of the Scriptures, and making various important discoveries in connexion with this object in different parts of Egypt and Syria, he was suddenly carried off, by a fever at Aleppo, from his work to his reward ; leaving “to his friends," as the Secretary of the Malta Bible Society very properly observes, " the memory of an example, which must impel them to redouble their efforts, that the Word of the Lord may still have free course and be glorified*."
5. As the Christian reader contemplates the disinterested zeal and perseverance of these, and many other devoted labourers in this extensive field of usefulness, he will be reminded of the great Apostle of the Gentiles. Like him, they steadily pursued their course, “in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” As he follows the bright track which, through the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, they were enabled to pursue, he will indeed be induced to pause on the banks of the Ganges and the Dahl, and to linger in the vale of Tocat and the plain of
Aleppo, that he may drop the tear of gratitude on the graves of BROWN and of BRUNNMARK, of Martyn and of BURCKHARDT; but he will renew his survey, under the consoling reflection, that they devoted themselves to death "for the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus ;"—"as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
They have See Owen's History, Vol. III. p. 457 et seq. & 479 et seq. for many other interesting particulars relative to this faithful and indefatigable man.
Important nature of the duties that devolve on Agents.
entered, with PORTEUS, and BUCHANAN, and Milner, that “rest which remaineth for the people of God.” May their surviving friends and colleagues, rich in the same faith, and strong in the same hope, be incited, by their example, to renewed and persevering exertion!
6. The numerous advantages derived from the employment of suitable Agents, and the extensive field which is now open to their valuable labours, render it extremely desirable that a greater number of individuals, properly qualified, should be engaged for this important department. Under these considerations, the Committee have recently renewed their exertions to obtain additional aid, and with considerable
The following are the accredited Agents of the Institution at the present time, in the order of their appointment:
Rev. Dr. Paterson.
Rev. H. D. Leeves. + The Society is also under obligations of no common kind to many Clerical and other members of local societies, for their occasional assistance; which has been sensibly felt, and gratefully appreciated. If Clergymen, and other gentlemen who are interested in the cause, would more frequently offer their temporary services in visiting Societies and Committees, it would materially promote the design of the Institution.
7. It is difficult to define with precision the duties that devolve on an accredited Agent of the Bible Society; and even the Annual Reports, and Monthly Extracts of Correspondence, supply but a faint outline of his engagements. The re-organization and encouragement of existing societies, and that assistance in the establishment of new ones, which prudence prescribes and experience suggests, constitute the more prominent feature in this outline. But the labours of an Agent, especially in reference to the domestic department, may be as profitably, though less conspicuously directed to the improvement of the system of local institutions,
+ While this work was preparing for the press, intelligence was received of the decease of the Rev. Charles Williamson, who had recently been appointed one of the Society's Agents. He died in the Isle of Samos, after a short illness, on the 8th of November 1820;-thus adding another name to the list of those who “ rest from their labours," but whose works follow them."
Rev. Leander Van Ess—his representations of the state of Germany.
and the instruction of their Committees. Nor will he be less usefully engaged, in enforcing the necessity of a strict and inviolable adherence to the fundamental principle of the Society, and extending information relative to its practical results. Under the head of “Concluding Observations," at the end of this chapter, such further remarks will be introduced, as appear necessary with regard to this important subject.
8. It would indeed be unjust to close this section without a distinct reference to an individual, whose indefatigable zeal and invaluable services are beyond all praise.--Professor Van Ess is thus introduced by the historian of the Bible Society :
About this period (towards the close of 1812) a new labourer presented himself to notice, and claimed, through the channel of its Foreign Secretary, the attention and assistance of the British and Foreign Bible Society, on behalf of the German Catholics. This labourer was the Rev. Leander Van Ess, who, together with his brother, had produced a Translation of the Testament from the Greek; which the first Protestant Clergymen at Dresden and Zurich* concurred, with respectable authorities among the Roman-Catholic Literati, in recommending, as exhibiting a pure and correct version of the Sacred Original. This Catholic Professor of Divinity (for to that office he had been recently appointed in the University of Marburg) described the solicitude of the people to obtain the Scriptures as exceeding not only his means of supplying them, but almost any conception which the most sanguine mind could ever have entertained. “It is true (he says) that the New Testament is pretty well distributed in our circle ; but what are a few copies among so many? They are like the five loaves among those 4000 that lay at the feet of our Lord. May the great Head of the Church multiply this heavenly bread, as he once did the earthly, to the satisfying of all !.... The fields, (he continues) are more and more ripening for the harvest, by the increasing oppression of the times. All earthly, comforts are vanishing from the children of men : ill-treated, plundered, and heavy-laden as they are, their eyes, full of tears, look for refreshment and comfort towards the realms above, where alone they are to be found. This is the time to work: the hearts of men, humbled and softened, are more accessible to divine light and truth; they are opening, like the dry ground that languishes for the fertilizing shower : their eyes desire to see the salvation offered to them in the Word of God.'
And again, with a degree of importunity, truly affecting, he urges his suit in the following terms :
“ “ For Christ's sake, I intreat you to let me have a number of our New Testaments for distribution ! My sphere of usefulness is extending more and more: many worthy Clergymen of our Church join themselves to me, who, with the most lively zeal for the cause of God, assist me in my endea
The late Rev. Dr. Reinhard, first Chaplain to the Court of Saxony ; and the present venerable Superior of the Zurich Clergy, Antistes Hess.
Results of the labours of Professor Van Ess.
vours to do good. My request is for the highest and best gift; even for the Scriptures of truth, which are able to make men wise unto salvation.'*"
In availing themselves of this enlightened Catholic, the Committee had another opportunity of manifesting their scrupulous and watchful adherence to their great and fundamental principle. It was made a primary condition of any grant, that the few notes accompanying his own impression should be struck out from that which was to be printed and circulated at the expense of the British and Foreign Bible Society. With this condition he cheerfully complied. His object was, the glory of God, and the temporal and eternal welfare of his fellow-creatures : this object he has pursued “ with an intrepidity and perseverance increased, rather than diminished, by the difficulties and perils to which he saw himself exposed." In one of his letters to the Committee, he observes,
“ There is a great and irresistible desire in the people to have the Bible : the newly-issued mandates against reading the Scriptures have only tended to quicken attention, and to increase this desire. There is now a spirit evidently rising against the violated rights of conscience, which neither the sword nor any canonical proceedings can possibly stifle : and what right is more sacred than the undisturbed possession of that inestimable book, which is the property of all; which is given from Heaven, to inspire faith, hope, consolation, and peace, for time and eternity ; and which is as much a man's property, as God himself is his portion ?”
Within little more than three years and a half, ending in February 1820, Professor Van Ess had distributed 339,488 copies of his Catholic New Testament, and 287 Catholic Bibles, besides 10,639 Lutheran Bibles and Testaments; making a total of 350,414 copies.
Of the visible effects of the circulation, he thus speaks:
In some villages, meetings are held on sabbaths and other festivals, during which the New Testament is read with much edification. Whereever it is introduced into schools, a cheering dawn of the approaching day in the kingdom of God may be perceived. “ You,” he observes, addressing the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society, “ have brought thou. sands nearer their Saviour and their salvation; you have conducted them
See Owen's History, Vol. II. p. 229 et seq. for an animated account of this extraordinary man, who is thus described in the 3d Volume of the History :-“Leander Van Ess is now in the prime of life. He appears to be about forty years of age. His countenance is intelligent and manly; his conversation fluent and animated ; and his whole manner partakes of that ardour and vivacious energy, which so remarkably characterize all his writings and operations. The dissemination of the Scriptures, and the blessed effects with which it is attended, are the theme on which he delights to discourse ; they seem to occupy his whole soul, and to constitute, in a manner, the element in which he exists."