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Gossner-Wittman.- Publications of the Parent Committee.
to the invisible Head of the Church ; you have opened to them the pure inexhaustible fountain, from which they may draw light in darkness, rest when oppressed hy a sense of sin, comfori under the weight of affliction, undaunted courage on the approach of death, peace and joy in this world, and perfect bliss in that which is to come *'
With the name of Leander Van Ess, those of M. Gossner of Munich (now of St. Petersburg), and Regens Wittman of Ratisbon, will be united in the grateful affection of mankind. The aggregate number of copies of the Holy Scriptures distributed by these three enlightened Catholics, chiefly through the aid furnished by the British and Foreign Bible Society, considerably exceeds HALF A MILLION.
The following extract of a letter from the pious and intrepid Gossner shall conclude this division of the chapter:
“In the midst of all contradictions, blasphemies, and persecutions, the peaceful kingdom of God makes rapid advances : many, both of the Clergy and Laity, are awakened and illumined by the Word of truth, and the Gospel of our salvation. God himself seems to have excited a hunger after this wholesome food ; and there are many flocking to me,-soldiers and students, citizens and peasants, servant-men and servant-women, whose hearts I can gladden by nothing more than by the gift of a New Testament."
PUBLICATIONS OF THE SOCIETY.
Nothing, humanly speaking, has more essentially contributed to the extension and success of the society, than the publicity of all its proceedings. From the earliest period of its establishment, the Committee were sensible, that, in order to obtain general support and co-operation, it was only requisite to explain its object and its principles, and circulate information relative to the necessity which existed for such an institution. If the importance of this measure was evident at the commencement of their labours, it became still more so at a subsequent period, when the purity of those principles, and the existence of that necessity, were called in question. Nor was it less desirable that the friends of the society, at home and abroad, should be put in possession of those interesting details relative to its progress and success, by which the hearts of the Committee were cheered, and their hands strengthened, in the discharge of their arduous duties.
To these combined causes may be attributed the numerous works, explanatory and illustrative, which have tended to
Owen's History, Vol. III. p. 98.
satisfy the public mind on this important subject—to silence,' if not to convince, those whose sentiments were adverse to the society-and to confirm the zeal and interest of its friends and advocates. They may be divided into two classes ; the regular and periodical publications of the society, and those which may be denominated occasional. 2. Under the former class, may be included,
1. The Annual Report, which, with its Appendix, contains a compendium of the proceedings, and a selection of the correspondence, during the preceding twelve months; an account of all contributions and legacies; an alphabetical list of Auxiliayr and Branch Societies; a catalogue of the various editions of the Holy Scriptures on sale at the Depository; a statement of all grants of Bibles and Testaments, and money made by the Committee; an abstract of the cash account, as signed by the Auditors; and a list of contributors, the latter being appended to a limited number of copies. Every member of the Parent Society may receive a copy of the Annual Report; and a similar privilege is extended to the Presidents, and such other officers of local societies as, from their services and exertions, possess a peculiar claim on the gratitude of the Committee. The proportion allotted to every institution at home, and to kindred societies throughout the world, is assigned under the direction of the Local SubCommittee, with a due regard to that economy which is so essentially requisite. Some further observations, in reference to this subject, will be found in the sequel.
11. The Summary. It is much to be desired, that a new and revised edition of this admirable abridgment of the Annual Reports, designed for more general circulation, should be speedily published. The last was issued in 1816, and has long been out of print. While it is freely conceded, that a due regard to economy should pervade every department of the institution, the application of this principle cannot be admitted in reference to “ the Summary;" as the expense attending its occasional (suppose triennial) publication may be beneficially counterbalanced by a judicious curtailment of the Annual Reports, and a reduction of the number usually printed. There are numerous individuals who cannot spare time to peruse, with attention, the voluminous records of the society, to whom an epitome of its most interesting transactions from the earliest period, arranged in lucid and systematic order, would
Brief View.-Compendium.-Monthly Extracts of Correspondence.
be truly valuable. Such a work, which might be comprised within the compass of fifty or sixty pages, is at present a desideratum.
III. The Brief View,
iv. The Compendium. The circulation of these papers has been productive of incalculable advantage ; and they are strongly recommended to National Bible Societies, as models of a condensed exposition of the nature, design, and effects of their institution. As these two valuable papers will be included in the Appendix, it is unnecessary to describe them more particularly. They should be liberally distributed previous to the formation of an Auxiliary Society, and in all cases where it is desirable to correct misrepresentation, or to extend a knowledge of the society.
V. Monthly Extracts of Correspondence. The introduction of this important part of the system, and the beneficial effects which have followed its adoption, justify a more particular consideration of its merits.
It had long been the practice of the Committee, to gratify the friends of the society with the occasional publication of interesting and important information, relative to the progress and results of the institution. The general satisfaction derived from these communications, and the example of cotemporary societies established for kindred purposes, induced a persuasion, that the more regular periodical issue of certain portions of intelligence, which the correspondence of the society abundantly supplied, would materially tend to the preservation and extension of an interest in the common efforts both abroad and at home. The result has afforded ample proof of the correctness of this anticipation. The first number of the “Monthly Extracts” was published in August 1817; and was so appropriately and impressively introduced, that no apology is necessary for inserting the following
ADDRESS TO AUXILIARY SOCIETIES, &c. “ It appears to the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society, to have become highly expedient that a plan should be adopted for transmitting to the various societies in connexion with the parent institution, more frequent communications than have heretofore been usual, of the interesting intelligence from time to time received, relative to the progress of the great work in which their efforts are united. The Committee regard it, indeed, little less than an act of duty, to impart to the friends of the cause, in every part of the empire, a portion of those moral treasuros
Committee's Address relative to the Monthly Extracts.
which are continually flowing in from all quarters of the world; and to admit them to share, with as little delay as possible, in the enjoyment of those fruits, to the production of which their local exertions have so mate. rially contributed
“But the Committee, in resorting to this plan, have an object beyond that of conveying satisfaction and delight. They are deeply sensible of the beneficial influence produced upon their own minds, by the communications from distant lands, read to them at their periodical meetings, both in exciting their gratitude, and stimulating their exertions; and they are anxious to establish such means of intercourse as may enable them to extend, as widely as possible, these salutary impressions. Experience has taught them to believe, that if extracts from the most interesting parts of the society's correspondence were read in the meetings of the Local Committees, and distributed among the members, for the information of others, it would tend greatly to enliven the spirit of those meetings, and to invigorate and expand the general zeal.
“ Under this conviction, the Committee have determined to issue, in the last week of every month, a sheet of brief extracts, from their articles of correspondence, similar in form to the present, with a view to their being read at the meetings of the Committees of the different Auxiliary and Branch Societies and Bible Associations, and distributed among
their officers, members of Committee, and gratuitous collectors.
" These Extracts will be transmitted to the secretaries of the Auxiliary Societies, who are earnestly requested to forward, without delay, a due proportion of the present, and of all succeeding numbers, to the secretaries of the several Branch Societies and Associations within their respective districts, so as to ensure the receipt of them in time for the meetings in each ensuing month.
“ The Committee anticipate much good from this measure, if their views are followed up by their friends in the country; and they trust they may reckon upon a diligent and punctual co-operation from the Auxiliary Societies, in giving it effect in the manner suggested.
As Auxiliary Societies may expect to derive considerable accession of strength, and even of pecuniary advantage, by circulating, and encouraging their Branch Societies and Bible Associations to circulate, copies of these papers, greatly beyond the extent which the Parent Committee would consider themselves authorised gratuitously to furnish, provision will be made for an extra demand ; and Auxiliary Societies may, for that purpose, be supplied with any quantity, on application to the Depositary, Mr. Cockle, at the Society's House, Earl Street, Blackfriars, at the rate of Four shil. lings per hundred, provided the order for them be received within the month immediately following the date of each number.”
The best evidence of the satisfaction with which this paper is received throughout the numerous affiliated societies, will be found in the fact, that 40,000 copies are scarcely sufficient to satisfy the monthly demands.- În many associations, and especially in those conducted by ladies, every free contributor of half-a-guinea or upwards per annum is presented with a copy monthly, and to regular subscribers of smaller sums they are lent for perusal. The following extracts are selected from a great variety of testimonies in favour of this measure:“ The Monthly Extracts from the correspondence of the British and
issue ence ed to mon ded The i in vely the
tee s of res
Testimonies to the advantages of the Monthly Extracts.
Foreign Bible Society continue to be circulated by this association, and appear to interest the lower classes of the inhabitants. The collectors have in some instances been reminded by the free subscribers, that they regard the regular perusal of them as their privilege and their right, while they continue to support the cause."-HAMPSTEAD and HIGHGATE Fourth Annual Report.
"The portion of the correspondence published monthly by the Committee of the Parent Society affords much true delight, and creates general interest. It is reported by one of the District Committees, that a little boy was so much delighted on reading one of the Monthly Extracts, that lie immediately requested his mother, at whose house it had been left, to allow him to give the penny a week, which he had to buy cakes, &c. to the Bible Society, which was readily complied with ;' and he is now a free subscriber to the Ladies' Bible Association."-NORTHAMPTON Second Annual Report,
You would be surprised to see the avidity with which the Monthly Extracts are read, among the more sober and intelligent of the poor of our several districts. The greatest difficulty in an Association is, to keep up the interest, and consequently the subscriptions of the small weekly free contributors. This difficully is most effectually met by the constant and systematic circulation of the Monthly Extracts. One or two of our subscribers have expressed their disappointment and regret in very strong terms, when they have been accidentally passed over by the Collectors.”
Leller from the PLYMOUTH Minule Secretary, Jan, 1820. “ The interesting intelligence, and solid advantages, which have been derived from the Monthly Extracts issued by the Parent Society, have come under the grateful observation of your Committee. The benefits have been considerably increased by the judicious plan adopted by the Ladies' Committee, of circulating them among the free subscribers, subsequent to their perusal at the Committee meeting. The good effects of this measure are sufficient to justify your Committee in earnestly recommending its continued use and universal adoption.”-HORSHAM Fifth Annual Report. :
The certain publication of these extracts on the last day of every month, causes them to be anticipated with joy in every part of the kingdom. Often has the author beheld the mechanic or the peasant seated, after the labours of the day, in the midst of his family, listening with eager interest, as his wife or child read this announcement of “good news from a far country," or the triumphs of the Bible in his native land: and more than once has he heard the humble dwelling resound with the accents of praise and gratitude to God, who had enabled its lowly inmates to co-operate in so great and glorious a work! Surely, at a period like the present, when far different publications are so widely circulated, it is a subject for congratulation, that this is added to the list of periodical antidotes to the poison of infidelity and sedition.
The example of the Parent Institution, in this, as in other respects, was speedily followed, both at home and abroad.
The Hibernian Bible Society published its first Monthly Sheet in November 1818;—a quarterly_selection of Extracts in the Welsh language, printed at Bala, commenced at Michaelmas 1819;--and the important continental tour of