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Results-Former state of Russia.-American Bible Society.
The following abstract of the proceedings of the Russian Bible Society, to the period of its seventh anniversary in July 1820, constitutes the best comment on this extension of its object and improvement of its system :
Number of Auxiliary Societies in the empire 53
During the seven years of its existence, the society has printed and published 315,600 copies of the Holy Scriptures ; has now in the press 38,000 copies, and has undertaken to print 57,500; making a total of 411,100: and if to these be added 87,000 copies printed by the Auxiliaries, the grand total is 498,100 copies, in twenty-six different languages and dialects.
The total receipts of the society during the seven years have amounted to 1,747,862 rubles 74 copecks; and the total expenditure to 1,712,043 rubles 81 copecks.
When we contrast results such as these with the state of Russia in the year 1812, when, "according to the most authentic sources of information, it appeared that during 234 years, since Bibles were first printed in Russia, no more than twenty-two editions of the Slavonian Bible have appeared, consisting, in all, of scarcely more than sixty thousand copies !"* and when we reflect that these were the only source of supply for forty millions of people, during so many ages, we are constrained to adopt the language, “What hath God wrought !" and to acknowledge with the Committee of the Russian Bible Society, in their Seventh Annual Report, that “the rapid progress of the Bible cause, and the invisible power by which it is animated, are almost incredible. But although the first be evident to our bodily senses, yet the second must be inconceivable by all who are not penetrated, to the depth of their souls, by the power and Spirit of the Word of God!"
7. The AMERICAN Bible Society was established on v the 8th of May 1816, at a meeting of Delegates from different Bible Societies. This Convention having first resolved unanimously, “ That it is expedient to establish, without delay, a general Bible Institution, for the circulation of the Holy Scriptures without note or comment,” proceeded to appoint a Committee, consisting of eleven members, to prepare the
* First Annual Report of the Moscow Auxiliary Society.
Constitution of the American Bible Society.
plan of a Constitution for the said Society, and an address to the public on the nature and objects thereof. The Convention then adjourned for three days; and, at its second sitting, their Committee laid before them the draft of a Constitution, which, having been read first in the whole, and afterwards by paragraphs, and carefully considered, was unanimously adopted. *The Committee reported also an Address to the Public, which, in like manner, was unanimously approved.
CONSTITUTION. ARTICLE I. This society shall be known by the name of “ The AMERIcan BIBLE SOCIETY ;" of which the sole object shall be, to encourage a wider circulation of the Holy Scriptures without note or comment. The only copies in the English language to be circulated by the society shaļl be of the version now in common use.
Art. II. This society shall add its endeavours to those employed by, other societies for circulating the Scriptures throughout the United States and their territories; and shall furnish them with stereotype plates, or such other assistance as circumstances may require. This society shall also, according to its ability, extend its influence to other countries, whether Christian, Mahomedan, or Pagan.
ART. III. All Bible Societies shall be allowed to purchase, at cost, from this society, Bibles for distribution within their own districts. The mempers of all such Bible Societies as shall agree to place their surplus revenue, after supplying their own districts with Bibles, at the disposal of this society, shall be entitled to vote in all meetings of the society ; and the officers of such societies shall be, ex officio, directors of this.
Art. IV. Each subscriber of three dollars annually shall be a member.
Art. V. Each subscriber of thirty dollars at one time shall be a member for life.
ART. VI. Each subscriber of fifteen dollars annually shall be a Director,
Art. VII. Each subscriber of one hundred and fifty dollars at one time, or who shall, by one additional payment, increase his original subscription to one hundred and fifty dollars, shall be a Director for life.
Art. VIII. Directors shall be entitled to attend and vote at all meetings of the Board of Managers.
Art. IX. A Board of Managers shall be appointed to conduct the business of the society, consisting of thirty-six laymen, of whom twenty-four shall reside in the city of New York or its vicinity. One fourth part of the whole number shall go out of office at the expiration of each year, but shall be re-eligible.
Every Minister of the Gospel, who is a member of the society, shall be entitled to meet and vote with the Board of Managers, and be possessed of the same powers as a Manager himself.
The Managers shall appoint all officers, and call special general meetings, and fill such vacancies as may occur, by death or otherwise, in their own Board.
Art. X. Each member of the society shall be entitled, under the direction of the Board of Managers, to purchase Bibles and Testaments at the society's prices, which shall be as low as possible.
Art. XI. The annual meetings of the society shall be held at New York or Philadelphia, at the option of the society, on the second Thursday of
Official Communication from the President.
May, in each year; when 'the Managers shall be chosen, the accounts presented, and she proceedings of the foregoing year reported.
Art. XII. The President, Vice-Presidents, Treasurer, and Secretaries, for the time being, shall be considered, ex officio, members of the Board of Managers.
Art. XIII. At the general meetings of the society, and the meetings of the Managers, the President, or in his absence the Vice-President first on the list then present, and in the absence of all the Vice-Presidents, such member as shall be appointed for that purpose shall preside at the meeting.
Art. XIV. The Managers shall meet on the first Thursday in each month, or oftener if necessary, at such place in the city of New York as they shall from time to time adjourn to.
Art. XV. The Managers shall have the power of appointing such persons as have rendered essential services to the society, either members for life, or directors for life.
Art. XVI. The whole minutes of every meeting shall be signed by the chairman.
Art. XVII. No alteration shall be made to this Constitution, except by the society at an annual meeting, on the recommendation of the Board of Managers.
The following letter from the venerable President of this institution, announcing its establishment, is too important to be omitted :
Burlington, New Jersey, May 23, 1816. “ As President of the society, it is with more pleasure than can easily be expressed, that I officially execute the pleasing task of announcing to you the joyful event of our having, under the special agency of Divine Providence, after so great troubles and persevering efforts, succeeded in esta. blishing, with a harmony and unanimity unparalleled in so large a body, * An American Bible Society, of which the sole object shall be, to encou. rage a wider circulation of the Holy Scriptures without note or comment. The society shall add its endeavours to those employed by other societies, for circulating the Scriptures throughout the United States, and her territories, &c. 'I'he society shall also, according to its ability, extend its influence to other countries, whether Christian, Mahomedan, or Pagan.'
“ The subscriptions are filling fast, both as to members and donations; and every thing wears the appearance of success. There was not a single dissenting voice in the convention, though formed from various denominations : they seemed all to be of one heart and one mind.
“ The whole proceedings, in this business, from Wednesday the 8th inclu. sive, till Monday the 13th instant, clearly discovered the Divine agency ; and even some from among those least expected, could not help crying out aloud, “This is no other than the work of the Lord.' May God have all the glory!
“I have the honour to be, &c.
“ Elias Boudinot, President of the
American Bible Society." The highly respectable writer of the above, having attained the object which has long lain near his heart, in the establishment of a National Bible Society, has contributed the noble donation of 10,000 dollars in aid of its funds, which may secure the perpetual distribution of 1000 Bibles annually.
Scarcity of Bibles in America.-Address of the Committee.
That such an institution was necessary, and that 108 local independent Bible Societies, scattered through the American Union, had not the means of supplying the wants of the population, the following statement will sufficiently testify :
“In 1814, it was estimated, that there were in Ohio 13,000 families destitute of the Scriptures ; 12,000 in the territories of Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri'; 5000 in the Mississippi territory ; 8000 in Louisiania ; 10,000 in Tennessee ; and 30,000 in Kentucky !!”
To which is added, by another writer, that,
"So late as 1815, in many of the principal towns of the Western States and territories, there was not a Bible for sale.” •
The introduction of the following extracts from the Address already referred to, requires no apology:
“No spectaele can be so illustrious in itself, so touching to man, or so grateful to God, as a nation pouring forth its devotion, its talent, and its treasures, for that kingdom of the Saviour, which is righteousness and peace.
“ If there be a single measure which can over-rule objection, subdue opposition, and command exertion, this is the measure. That all our voices, all our affections, all our hands, should be joined in the grand design of promoting peace on earth and good-will toward man '--that they should resist the advance of misery-should carry the light of instruction into the dominions of ignorance, and the balm of joy to the soul of anguish ; and all this by diffusing the oracles of God-addresses to the understanding an argument which cannot be encountered, and to the heart an appeal which its holiest emotions rise up to second.
“ Under such impressions, and with such views, fathers, brethren, fellow. citizens, the American Bible Society has been formed. Local feelings, party prejudices, sectarian jealousies, are excluded by its very nature.
Its members are leagued in that, and in that alone, which calls up every hallowed, and puts down every unhallowed principle—the dissemination of the Scriptures, in the received versions where they exist, and in the most faithful, where they may be required. In such a work, whatever is dignified, kind, venerable, true, has ample scope : while sectarian littleness and rivalries can find no avenue of admission.
“ People of the United States, “ Have you ever been invited to an enterprise of such grandeur and glory? Do you not value the Holy Scriptures ? Value them, as containing your sweetest hope ; your most thrilling joy? Can you submit to the thought, that you should be torpid in your endeavours to disperse them, while the rest of Christendom is awake and alert? Shall you hang back, in heart. less indifference, when Princes come down from their thrones, to bless the cottage of the poor with the Gospel of peace; and Imperial Sovereigns are gathering their fairest honours from spreading abroad the Oracles of the LORD your God? Is it possible that you should not see, in this state of human things, a mighty motion of Divine Providence? The most heavenly charity treads close upon the march of conflict and blood! The world is at peace! Scarcely has the soldier time to unbind his helmet, and to wipe away the sweat from his brow, ere the voice of mercy succeeds to the clarion of battle, and calls the nations from enmity to love! Crowned
Owen's History, Vol. III. p. 233.
Rapid extension of the Auxiliary system in America.
heads bow to the Head which is to wear many crowns;' and, for the first time since the promulgation of Christianity, appear to act in unison for the recognition of its gracious principles, as being fraught alike with happi. ness to man, and honour to God."
In America, as in Russia, the results of a NATIONAL Bible Institution have afforded the best evidence of its advantages. In their Third Annual Report, the Committee observe,
“ But three years are now elapsed since the American Bible Society was formed, and its success and the extent of its labours during this time have exceeded the expectations of its warmest friends." * At the end of the fourth year, they report,
“ It affords the managers unspeakable gratification, and will unite the hearts of their fellow-members of the Society in fervent thanksgiving to God, that, at the termination of their fourth year's labours, they have occasion for no unpleasant retrospect; that Christian love and fellowship havo grown with mutual intercourse; and that conciliation and harmony have uniformly governed their measures. They have found an ample requital of all their exertions in those feelings of affection and attachment, which the principle of our association, and its simple but magnificent design, are so well calculated to foster and increase."
The total number of Auxiliary Societies, officially known and recognised, as reported at the Fourth Annual Meeting, held in New York on the 11th of May, 1820, was, TWO HUNDRED AND SEVEN.
The total number of Bibles and Testaments, or parts of the latter in the Indian languages, printed for the society, or obtained for circulation, during the four years of its existence, was ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY-Two, in nine different languages; and several other editions of Bibles and Testaments had been put to press.
It should be distinctly stated, that Russia and America have printing and binding establishments connected with their
respective Bible institutions, and that they possess many sets of stereotype plates, both for the whole Bible and for the Scriptures of the New Testament. The Board of Managers of the American Bible Society observe,—“The present printing
" establishment is sufficiently extensive to furnish an average amount of One Hundred Thousand Bibles and Testaments annually;" and, as they judiciously remark, “the comparative difference of expense in conducting an establishment on a large and on a contracted scale, in the purchase of materials, the cost of labour, and the superior execution of the work, warrant the belief that Bibles issued from the general depository of this society can be afforded at a much lower rate, in proportion to their quality, than from any other