Page images
PDF
EPUB

“ in his own tongue wherein he was born, the won“ derful works of God,” and “the unsearchable “ riches of Christ.” Let our Wellingtons and our Nelsons, our brave soldiers and seamen, our nation at large, and its rulers, have their merited honours for what they did in these late dire contests; but the honour conferred on Britain, in giving birth to the Bible Society, and to all the numerous Bible Societies throughout the earth, is a distinction of a far more exalted, pure, and permanent nature; and in the light of eternity, and on that great day when we shall all meet again, (probably not sooner all meet again,) this honour will outshine and even eclipse them all.

But I would congratulate my country, not so much on this honour, (for to God be all the glory!) as on the peculiar felicity, of being the instrument of the gracious Saviour in communicating such rich, extensive, and permanent blessings to mankind : remembering that it was His maxim, “It is “ more blessed to give than to receive." I consider this event, also, as a pledge of abundant benefits to my native land: “ Upon all the glory “ there shall be a defence.” The present times, indeed, are very difficult and distressing : but let us not droop or despond. That country, which God has distinguished by the formation, and by the zealous and liberal support of the Bible Society, in the very crisis of the triumphs of infidelity and atheism, will doubtless be graciously favoured at length, with most valuable blessings, temporal and spiritual, on the present race, and on our descendents.

I would also congratulate this neighbourhood on the formation of an Auxiliary Bible Society among them, which, I trust, will be both supported and enlarged: and I anticipate, with joy and thankfulness, the happy effects which will speedily follow, to young and old, rich and poor; to you here present and to your posterity. I shall however beg leave again to revert to this subject, before I sit down.-Permit me now to make a few remarks upon some particulars noticed in the Report of your Committee.

germ, an im

If we trace back this majestic tree, (which, like that seen in Nebuchadnezzar's vision, seems likely ere long to fill the earth with its shadow and fruit ;) if we trace it back, so to speak, to its portant instruction may be deduced from it.-It was incidentally discovered, nearly thirty years since, that numbers of persons in North Wales, who highly valued the Bible, were greatly in want of that sacred treasure ; while Welsh Bibles lay neglected in the warehouses of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, no demand being made for them. This discovery made way for the sending these Welsh Bibles to the persons who needed them : but it was soon found that the supply was wholly inadequate to their wants. The Society was therefore induced to print another edition of the Welsh Bible: yet still more were needed and earnestly sought for. This led to the thought or purpose, in some pious minds, of forming a society to supply the Welsh with Bibles ; which, by expanding the minds of those concerned, made way for a reflection, that probably the want of many others, if duly investigated, would be found not wholly dissimilar, as to this sacred

book. Hence originated this most grand, most Christian Institution. In like manner, by means of the Bible Society, the case of very many others in Britain, and in other countries, having been carefully inquired into, the result has uniformly been, that Bibles have been far more wanted than before inquiry was any where supposed : and this has led to the formation of Auxiliary Societies, and Bible Societies, through many regions of the earth. Now a similar inquiry, and diligent examination, as to the Vale of Aylesbury and the circumjacent places, will doubtless produce the same conviction, and shew that all resources have hitherto proved, and are likely to prove inadequate, and that an Auxiliary Bible Society here also is greatly needed.

It is not merely assumed in the Report, that all the Bible Societies on the Continent, in the East Indies, in America, and in every part of the world, sprang from the London British and Foreign Bible Society; but the correspondents, I believe, from every one of them avow, and own their obligations in this respect to Britain in general, and to the founders and conductors of that Society in particular: they all, as it behoves dutiful children, honour this Society as their common parent.

Not only do nations widely distant from each other, and different in other respects, concur in this one common design of all the zealous friends of God and man; but, during the late most dreadful and even ferocious wars, Christians, in the different hostile nations, kept up an amicable correspondence with each other, as far as possible, and indeed beyond what could have been conceived possible, and aided in various ways each other's

efforts, for printing and circulating the sacred scriptures in different languages. They reciprocally supplied Bibles and Testaments, in their respective tongues, to the prisoners detained among them; and thus endeavoured to render even the distressing events of war subservient to the communication of the word of life and salvation to their captured enemies. Nay, in some instances, even the commanders of ships of war have refused to make prizes of the Bibles, belonging to the Societies, found on board captured vessels. One American captain, in particular, transmitted a considerable number, belonging to the London Bible Society, to an American Bible Society, by whom they were preserved, and have been restored to the original proprietors. Surely these facts constitute high commendation. The Society, in important instances, and in various ways, mitigates the horrors and asperities of war itself; and aims, not. unsuccessfully, I trust, to convert its most distressing effects into occasions and means of doing the greatest good, even to the most embittered foes ; while it preserves the communion of saints, in hostile lands, unimpaired, yea purified and enlarged. The angels' song at the Saviour's birth seems, indeed, inscribed in most legible characters on the pious and beneficent design : “ Glory to God in " the highest, peace on earth, and good will to

wards men !"

Not only do princes and rulers on the continent, and elsewhere, as stated in the Report, in many countries, patronize Bible Societies, by their names and liberal subscriptions, and general influence; but it is manifest that they heartily favour the de

sign, as most effectually calculated to inform the minds, improve the principles and morals, and meliorate the condition of their subjects; and so employ their reflections, and endowments, in devising the best plans of rendering it successful. For instance, as we have heard in the report, the Emperor of Russia, considering the state of his more immediate subjects the Russians, as to the sacred scriptures, and reflecting that the only translation of the Bible into the Russian language, made many ages ago, is become as unintelligible to the common people as some of our old English books would be to the cottagers in England; has himself designed and commanded a new translation to be made in modern Russian, and to be printed and circulated by means of the Russian Bible Society. This shews also that Kings and Emperors may, like other men, improve their talents, even their influence and authority, as well as their money, in promoting true religion, without having the least recourse to unscriptural or exceptionable measures, or interfering with the rights of conscience and private judgment; though numbers would persuade you that this cannot be done, and ought not to be attempted ;—that heathen Gallio is the only proper example to Christian rulers; and that to imitate David, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, Ezra, or Nehemiah, would be to exceed their commission, and to intermeddle in that which does not at all belong to them.

I shall only add on this point, that, besides all the instances briefly mentioned in the Report, it may also be stated, that the Baptist Missionary Society, aided by the British and Foreign Bible

« PreviousContinue »