Page images
PDF
EPUB

duced to the good of mankind, and no further. This is applicable to religious Societies also. As far as the glory of God and the best interests of mankind are promoted by them, they are, either exclusively or along with others, entitled to support; but no further. And, if two Societies will do more to enlighten the world with “the light of “ life," than one would do, let there be two Societies ; whatever becomes of the exclusive interests of either of them. And may God abundantly prosper both.

The motion which I am about to make, leads me to mention the Penny Societies ; or Societies of poor persons contributing weekly one penny each in aid of the Bible Society. This may seem to be a small matter; but it will be found, if fully encouraged, a most efficacious plan. When I left your meeting last year, I considered what further I could do in aid of the design ; but before I had adopted any active measure I was taken ill. At that time my son, stationed at Gawcott, near Buckingham, came to see me; and, having set on foot Penny Societies in his neighbourhood, he went among the people in the villages adjacent to Aston Sandford, where he was well known ; and, without my interference, Penny Societies were established. I have since then done nothing in the business, except lending and dispersing a Sermon of my son's at Hall, on the subject; but I have this day brought ten pounds as the result. This is not all which

The S

e n the Army and Mary with Bibles is And on the sam e peras Bibles slone, and of mutta e n osil &momizatioas: yet it is supported by

The Bar and the Arkochap of Canterbury is the

will come to the Wycombe Auxiliary Society; and, as my son is a Secretary to the Buckinghamn Auxiliary Society, it was thought proper to send half the sum collected thither. The annual sum to each Society will be above twenty pounds, or above forty in all; the whole, or nearly the whole, collected from labourers and mechanics in two or three villages, and probably saved from needless expenses.

Unless, however, there be some person to set them on foot and attend to them, they cannot be expected to proceed or prosper : but, if the clergyman of each parish, the minister of each congregation, or a leading person in each village, would attempt it; the poor alone would raise more than enough to supply Bibles among themselves at home, and leave the other resources to more extensively useful objects. And here, though it does not directly belong to the subject, let me observe the importance of efforts being made in every parish and neighbourhood to teach the poor to read; not only in other respects, but as subservient to the designs of the Bible Society. He that can read, but has no Bible, has, as it were, eyes but no light; he that has a Bible, but cannot read, is as one with light, but blind. While one Society supplies the light; let us, either individually, or by other Societies, endeavour to enable the poor, especially the rising generation, to make use of it..

It is also highly important that, what the French call domiciliary visits (though made for very different purposes,) should be made through every village and town, for the benevolent purpose of accurately learning what families have, and what have not, the Bible. In respect both to men's.

temporal distresses and miseries, and to their spiritual condition, a distant spectator supposes them far less in want of help than they really are ; as the experiment almost always evinces beyond doubt. This, therefore, becomes an important duty on parish ministers, and others, in subserviency to our great object.

And here give me leave to observe, that Dr. Marsh, from his own personal knowledge, as he says, having lived some years in Germany, at an University in that large country, contradicts the statement of the Rev. Mr. Steinkopff, Foreign Secretary to the Bible Society, concerning the want of Bibles in Germany. But do those who live in Universities, or among superior persons, or the laborious parish ministers, who go from house to house and inquire into the state of the people, know best in what degree Bibles are wanting. I have no doubt but you will agree with me, that the ministers of this description know, in their several neighbourhoods, the actual state of the inhabitants, especially of the poor, even here in England, better than the chancellors, and vice-chancellors, and heads of houses of both Cambridge and Oxford. Mr. Steinkopff has his information from ministers of this description, on the spot, in different parts of Germany; and, I will venture to aver, knows the fact better than Dr. Marsh : and, as to veracity in reporting it, if ever I saw a man of whom I should say, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there “ is no guile," I would say it of my friend and brother, Mr. Steinkopff.

We give our opponents full credit for talents, . learning, eloquence, and indefatigable diligence : but, if all these have been employed against the

V

Bible Society, and have produced so little, or rather nothing, I infer that it is because nothing can be produced against it.

I conclude as I began · Precious Bible, what a * treasure !' “ the light of our feet, and the lanthorn “ of our paths ;” our guide in youth, our comfort in old age, our antidote against the fear of death! The longer I live the more I feel for those who have not the word of God. I am growing old, and feel the infirmities of age; I know I must soon die; I am a sinner against God; I must appear before him in judgment; I must exist for ever in happiness or misery; but I can find no light, no hope, no comfort, except from the Bible. What should I do without the Bible, and that Saviour whom the Bible reveals to me? Let us then, my friends, while the Bible is our own invaluable treasure, the source of all our knowledge, hope, and comfort, let us do what we can to communicate the precious treasure to others also, all over the world. We can do but little it is true, yet great multitudes, cordially uniting, may effect much. Time was, since I can remember, when, if I had possessed the means, I should hardly have known how to reach out the blessing beyond my own contracted circle. But this Society, and others of a similar nature, so to speak, lengthen our arms; and, by concurring heartily in the designs of those who conduct them, we may stretch out our hands to the inhabitants of the East and of the West; of Africa, of Asia, of America, as well as Europe ; and hand to them “ the light of life!” Let us then, my friends, do what we can, while here ; and so “wait for the “mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life!”

« PreviousContinue »