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Louisiana.-Earnest desire to receive the Scriptures.
“Although 3000 copies of the New Testament in French had been received by the President of the Society about the middle of December last ; owing to the disturbed state of the country, at that time invaded, none of them were distributed until about the 10th of February. After a few persons had received the New Testament, and it had become generally known that there were more in the hands of one of the managers, who had been appointed to make the gratuitous distribution of the whole number designed for this city, the applications were more frequent than could be supplied : a large crowd of some hundreds of people, of all colours and ranks, was formed before the house, and became literally clamorous to have a book ; a word which was often vociferated in French by fifty voices at once.
“Such an assembly, for such a purpose, never before witnessed in Louisiana, presented to the beholder many affecting scenes: the young and the old, the rich and the poor, as if alike conscious of their wants, pressed forward with out-stretched hands to receive the valuable gift. A child, not more than five or six years of age, was borne in the arms of its mother, a woman of colour, pressing through the crowd as one of the candidates for a treasure which she seemed justly to estimate : the silence and attention exhibited by the bye-standers were immediately rewarded, by hearing this infant read in an intelligent manner the story related in Mark x. 13—16, rendered doubly interesting by the incidents.
As all who presented themselves for a French New Testament were asked if they could read, and, if any doubts existed, were put to the trial. An aged black woman, being asked the usual question, and requested to prove the fact, answered, that she could not without her spectacles, which she had not with her ; but, unwilling to depart until the object of her wishes had been obtained, she renewed her application, and observed to the distributor, “ If I get a book by a falsehood, it will not be deceiving you, but God.' Many persons, who could not read themselves, wished the New Testament for their children, who said they would read it for them.” First Report of the Louisiana Bible Society.—Twelfth Report : App. No. XVIII.
“We know, from actual observation, that there are, on our western borders, thousands of families growing up without the Bible. Many of them are destitute of this invaluable treasure, not merely because they are too parsimonious or too negligent to obtain it, but because it is not within their reach. They reside 1000 miles from any place where the Bible is printed. Seldom is it carried thither by the merchants. We ascertained, by inquiry, that in many of the principal towns of the Western country there was not a Bible to be sold."-Sixth Report of the New-York Bible Society.
Among the applicants for Bibles, there have been several, who declared that they had been endeavouring, for years, some as many as for twelve or fifteen years, to obtain a copy of the Bible in French. Some declared that no present could be more acceptable to them; and others, that they esteemed it beyond hundreds of dollars.
“The Catholics, even the strictest of them, are willing, with scarcely an exception, to receive and read the Bible.
The Spanish inhabitants have been remarkably pleased, on obtaining the New Testament in their native language : they have received it with great demonstrations of joy. The expressions used by some, on being presented with a New Testament, deserve notice : One observed, ' This book "contains the pure truth, and nothing but the truth.' Another, on reading the title-page of the New Testament, as soon as he came to the words 'JESUS CHRIST,' stopped, and said, with much earnestness, “ This is my King and my God-He is my All. Another, on being asked if the Spaniards were satisfied Massachusetts.-Philadelphia.
with their New Testament, observed, that they could not be Christians who were not.'”-Second Report of the Louisiana Bible Society.
“ When this Institution was first proposed, there were some who objected, that it was not needel ; that the poor in this country are as well supplied with Bibles as the rich. But inquiry has proved this objection false. Many ministers, who had the same impression, have expressed their surprise at the want of Bibles in their societies. One thus writes : 'I am astonished to think that I should know no more : how many poor people are unprovided with the Bible!' Another writes : “ It is surprising, that, when the case of the poor with respect to Bibles is investigated, we should find such great deficiency. Another says: “I had no idea that there were so many destitute in this town.'
The books which have been distributed by the society have been received with gratitude and joy, and many interesting expressions of these sentiments have been transmitted to your Committee. One letter says : These
poor people received the Bibles thankfully, and requested me to make their acknowledgments to the society. Some of them were very eloquent in imploring the benedictions of Heaven on those who were instrumental in imparting to them so valuable a present.' Another says: ''Till I liad no more books to distribute, my chamber was constantly crowded. Could the society witness the manifest thankfulness with which their bounty' is received, I think they would believe their charity well applied in this region.' Another says := They all expressed much joy at the reception of the gift. Some could scarcely speak, to think that God should send them his blessed word, of which they were so unworthy. One aged man in particular, on accepting one of the large Bibles, burst into tears of joy, and put it under his coat near his heart, and said, I will put it as near my heart as I can.' Another says : A very vicious and indigent family, to which a Bible was given, have constantly attended Meeting for a number of Sabbaths, when I had never seen them in the Meeting-house for twelve years before.'--Can there be a greater encouragement or reward to the society, than this grateful eagerness with which the word of God is received p”
First Report of Massachusetts Bible Society. “ The deficiency of Bibles has been found to be much greater than was expected; and it is believed to be as great in many other places. The number of families and individuals who are destitute of a copy of the Scriptures is so considerable, that the whole of the funds of the Society could be profitably expended, in supplying the wants of this city alone ; and the opportunities of distributing them in other places are so numerous, that, if these funds were tenfold as great as they are, they would be still inadequate to supply the demand.”
First Report of the Philadelphia Bible Society, “ The most affecting account which we have of the want of Bibles, in this country, is to be found in Messrs. Mills and Smith's Report of their Missionary Tour through it, during the last year. They represent every part of which they speak, as covered with gross darkness, for want of the light of Scripture. They tell us of old men, who greatly desired a Bible, and who had often sought it, who, nevertheless, have never had a Bible in their houses. They tell us of mothers, with their children in their arms, pressing through the crowd to solicit à Bible. They tell us of families who never saw a Bible, nor heard of JESUS CHRIST. They speak of large territories, where more than two-thirds of the inhabitants are supposed to be destitute of the Scriptures. “In Kaskaskias, a place containing from eighty to one hundred families, there are, it is thought, not more than four or five Bibles.' In the Illinois territory they say, they did not find any place where a copy
West Indies-Surinam-Demerara-New Providence.-Bahama Islands.
of the Scriptures could be obtained.' They declare it as their sober conviction, that at least 76,000 Bibles are necessary for the supply of the desti. tute in that part of our country. And, it is thought, by judicious people, that half a million of Bibles are necessary for the supply of the destitute in the United States.' There is, then, much to be done ; and we are called upon by the worth of souls, by the example of thousands, and by the blessing of Heaven, to engage, with renewed spirit, in this work.”
Thirteenth Report: Appendix, No. XVIII. WEST INDIES, &C.-Extract of a letter from Surinam:
“ You can scarcely form any adequate idea of the eagerness with which the Dutch Bibles and Testaments have been sought after. Indeed, scarcely was it known that such books had arrived, when old and young
flocked to house, in such crowds, that my door was, as it were, besieged from morning to night ; and, no sooner was it opened to dismiss one party, than another entered, in such numbers, that I was really apprehensive lest accidents might happen. As I myself enjoyed the privilege of being an almoner of this bounty, I can testify, from personal observation, that the gift was received with evident marks of gratitude, reverence, and attention.”
Eleventh Report: Appendix, No. XXXVIII. “ In the Islands of Antigua and St. Christopher, copies of the Scriptures, furnished by your Committee, have been distributed among an eager and a thankful people. Several pious Blacks,' writes a correspondent, from Barbuda, an island a short distance from Antigua, to request that a few Bibles and Testaments might be given them : for these they begged in a very affecting manner. I gave them two dozen Testaments. On receiving the rich treasure, their joy was inexpressible, as might be seen by the tears which flowed down their sable faces.”
“Similar accounts have been received from Berbice and Demerara ; from the latter of whích places, the distributor writes :— I had no just idea of the number of Negroes that wish for Bibles, till I mentioned to some of them that I would procure Bibles for those who wished to have them. The next week, applications poured in from every plantation, and every quarter.'”
“ Statements of a like nature have been transmitted from New Providence, where whites and blacks emulated each other in expressing their thanks for the Bibles and Testaments received, and in petitioning for further supplies.”
Fourteenth Report, p. lxxxiii. et seq. From a Minister in one of the Bahama Islands :
The books of which you advised me, arrived safe, and in excellent con. dition. They have proved a most acceptable and seasonable supply. I am persuaded the attention of the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society could not have been directed to a part of his Majesty's dominions, which stood more in need of Bibles and Testaments than the Bahama Islands. I am happy to say, that numbers of families who had no Bible or Testament (some indeed had a few leaves carefully preserved) now possess the book they prize above every other, and rejoice in its possession. One poor woman told me, that she never read a chapter in her life, till she read one in the Testament I let her father have, and that she never received such light as she did from reading it. The Committee would be pleased to see the poor old widows reading their large Testaments : they consider themselves rich indeed, and they requested me to return their thanks to the Committee for so great a gift ; some of them would insist on giving the widow's mite, and some gave sixpence. I beg leave to offer my thanks, and those of the poor people, both whites and blacks, to the Committee, for the Bibles and TestaPopulation of the globe.-Time required to supply the world.
ments I received from them, and pray that God may bless every member of the Committee here and hereafter.
“ All the Spanish Testaments are disposed of; forty-eight were sold in one day. My friend, Dr. Dumaresq, who took upon himself the disposal of the whole, having been acquainted with many of the Spaniards, told me, that, as soon as they found it to be the New Testament, the avidity with which the books were purchased was beyond description. Dr. Dumaresq has received applications for upwards of a hundred Testaments.”
Fifteenth Report : Appendix, p. 245 et seg. 3. Having thus shewn, from unquestionable documents, the state of the various portions of the world, with regard to their want of the holy scriptures, and their desire to possess them, it may not be unprofitable to place this important subject in another point of view.
To ascertain the population of the globe, is a question on which accuracy cannot be expected; but it has been estimated at one thousand millions, which have been thus divided :
630 millions of Pagans,
12 millions of Jews, 188 millions of Mahomedans, 170 millions of Christians, including the Greek, the
Papal, and the Protestant Communions. And it has been computed, that the total number of copies of the holy scriptures issued from the press, from the discovery of the art of printing to the present time, does not exceed twenty-five millions. When compared with the wants of the Christian world, how insufficient is this supply, even supposing every copy to have been preserved! But, when viewed in reference to the infidel and heathen world, what a powerful claim does it furnish on the feelings and exertions of all who believe in the truths of the Bible, and acknowledge that “there is no other name given under heaven among men, whereby we can be saved," but that of Jesus Christ!
On the basis of this estimate we may pursue the calculation, and endeavour to ascertain the probable period when the light of revelation will illuminate the abodes of ignorance, superstition, and idolatry. Sixteen years have elapsed since the establishment of the Bible Society; and it has, either directly or indirectly, added Four millions of copies to those which had been previously printed. Even supposing-what we know cannot be the fact-that these, and every Bible and Testament on earth, with all that have been ever printed, are still preserved, and possessed by professing Christians, and that we allow five individuals to a family,—no fewer than Nine
See Gregory's Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, article “ Population ;" and, Adams's View of Religions.
Appeal founded on the preceding statements.
millions of Christian families are still destitute of this guide to heaven and to happiness. And it is evident, that if it have required sixteen years to supply four millions of families, it will demand the continued exertions of thirty-six years to provide nine millions of copies, for our destitute brethren of the Christian name, so that every family may possess a Bible.
But are eight hundred and thirty millions of our fellow-' creatures to remain destitute? They, too, are heirs of immortality; they, too, have souls which must be eternally miserable, or for ever happy! Many of them are now demanding, with anxious solicitude, the blessed Scriptures, “ which are able to make them wise unto- salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus;" and under the influence of that. charity which " never faileth,
never faileth," the means are provided for their supply. If we continue the estimate in reference to the heathen and infidel world, we shall find, that, without greatlyincreased exertion and extended resources, it will require more than six hundred and sixty-four years to place one copy of the sacred volume in every family upon earth!
Well, therefore, may we adopt the words of an eloquent advocate of the Bible Society:
“Let any man, who feels as he ought for the interests of Christianity and the welfare of his fellow-creatures, look upon a map of the world, and y his heart must sicken at the sight of kingdoms and continents immersed in the profoundest ignorance, without hope, and without Gop in the world.' Whether we direct our attention to the myriads of China, and to the overflowing population of the civilized East ; or pass through the barbarous kingdoms of Africa, and then fix our regards on the superstitious inhabitants of the West; how little has been done to spread, through those benighted lands, the knowledge of the word of God! And if we turn to those countries where the light of Christianity has in some degree shone, how little, in most instances, are we able to trace of her genuine character !"
Contemplating, as Britons and as Christians, the state of the world as here exhibited, and beholding the prospects which a God of infinite mercy is opening on every side, we may surely urge on the attention of every individual, the animated appeal of the Bishop of Gloucester to the clergy of his diocese; and tell him,
“ That, if, by elevating his estimate of the claims of charity a little higher, above the worldly, towards the Christian standard ; if, by a little stretch of self-denial, he can augment his fund for charitable contribution ; he may safely and joyfully cast his mite into the treasury of the British and Foreign Bible Society, enrol his name among a large proportion of the most justly distinguished characters in Church and State, and assume his share of the labour and delight of erecting that stupendous edifice which is the glory of
• Dealtry's Vindication of the British and Foreign Bible Society, p. 35.