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Vol. V.]

Saturday, June 6, 1818.

[No. 5.

In our preceding Number we gave an account of the proceedings which took

place at the late Anniversary Meeting of the AMERICAN BIBLE SOCIETY, and mentioned the principal topics treated of in its Second Annual Report. We have now the pleasure to present our readers with an entire is contained in the body of that document, reserving for a future Number the names of Auriliary Societies, together with a more particular account of contributions to the funds of the National Society.

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SECOND REPORT

OF THE

AMERICAN BIBLE SOCIETY.

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ENCOURAGED by the increasing testimonies of public favour to THE AMERICAN BIBLE Society, and especially by indications of the Divine blessing upon its efforts, the Managers entered with alacrity upon the labours of their second year, which they have been enabled to complete with unimpaired harmony.

In the infancy of an institution so great in its object, so comprehensive in its plan, and so varied in its relations, difficulties are to be encountered and experiments made, which require much counsel, caution, and zeal, while yet they occupy but a comparatively small space in its visible operations. Many of those which are most essential are least observed, because they are only preparatory, and therefore do not furnish, except to the skilful examiner, a satisfactory test of its real progress.

Such has been the experience of the Managers hitherto. They have been employed in laying foundations on which a fabrick, not unworthy, they trust, of its noble inscription, may rely for its future eminence and stability; and they have had no time to spare.

One of the first measures which engaged their deliberations after the Anniversary Meeting of the Society, was the proper distribution of their stereotype plates. On this subject there existed an anxiety which demanded prompt attention, accompanied by circumstances involving questions of some delicacy, The Managers were fully convinced of the importance of affording every possible aid to the circulation of the Scriptures in distant parts of the country; of guarding against whatever might excite local embarrassments; and of preserving unimpaired the unity of the National Society, and the freedom of its agency through all its ramifications.

They, therefore, adopted as the basis of their proceedings with regard to the location of their stereotype plates, the principles contained in the following report of a Committee appointed to digest a plan for that purpose, which they feel it to be their duty to give at full length for the satisfaction of the mem bers of the Society.

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“ The committee appointed to report a plan for the location and management of the stereotype plates belonging to the Society, respectfully report, That they have bestowed upon the subject referred to them that deliberation to which its great importance entitled it. In the opinion of the Committee, the stereotype plates, it judiciously located and placed under proper regulations, cannot fail of being powerful instruments in spreading the knowledge of the Scriptures. But on the other hand, should local jealousies be excited by the distribution of these plates, or should they, by an inconsiderate location, interfere with the issue of Bibles from the Depository at New-York, they would counteract that great principle of unity of efforts on which the American Bible Society is founded and from which its fairest hopes of success are derived. Hence it becomes important to ascertain the general principle which ought to influence the location of these plates; and this principle the Committee think they find recognised and explained in the Address of the Convention to the people of the United States. On consulting this Address, we find that it was the intention of the Convention that the Society should “furnish great districts of the American continent with well executed stereotype plates, for the cheap and extensive diffusion of the Scriptures throughout regions which are now scantily supplied at a discouraging expense.” If, then, the principles thus recognised by the Convention be adopted by the Board, we are next to inquire how many sets of plates are to be disposed of. It is presumed that the Board will choose to retain for the use of their own Printing Establishment, the plates presented by the New-York Societies, and at least one set of the octayo and duodecimo plates executed for the Society. One duodecimo set. has already been promised to the Kentucky Bible Society. Thus the Board have now one duodecimo and two octavo sets to dispose of. An important question here presents itself, which is “ Ought the octavo and duodecimo sets to be separated.' The Committee believe that the Board acted wisely in procuring the large plates. The smallness of the Bibles hitherto distributed by our Bible Societies has been a subject of constant complaint; and it appears from reports of Bible Associations in England, that the poor, when they subscribe for Bibles, generally prefer those of a large type, although the price is proportionably high. Many of the poor read imperfectly, and find a large type far easier to read than a small one ; while to many of the aged, the small type is entirely illegible. At the same time the small type is the cheapest, and answers for a large majority of readers. If we separate the sets, one district will be supplied with the sinall type only, and many of its inhabitants will feel the want of the important advantages enjoyed by the more fortunate district which possesses the Scriptures in a more legible form: at the same time, another district will have an edition large and handsome indeed, but too expensive for gratuitous distribution. If, to remedy this inconvenience, it be proposed to place the two sety at such a distance from each other, as that an exchange of Bibles may constantly take place, the question immediately presents itself, Why incur the expense of two printing establishments, and the risk and trouble of a constant interchange of Bibles, when one establishment could supply each district with Bibles of the size desired? If it be admitted that the Bible Society possesses equal resources for printing Bibles, either on their own account, or on account of the board, with the Kentucky Bible Society; which, from present appearances, promises to become a great and useful institution. There are other places besides Lexington, at which plates might be conveniently located; but the value of the plates is so great, and the reputation and future success of the Society will so materially depend on the prudence with which these plates are distributed, and the wisdom with which the use of them may be regulated, that the Committee hesitate in recommending at present any new location. The Society is yet without experience, and possesses little local information or acquaintance with the character and resources of its Auxiliaries. But little inconvenience can result from postponing the location of all the plates, except the two sets sent to Lexington, until the Board shall be put in possession of such information as may be necessary to make a judicious location. At present we are ignorant of the terms on which paper can be procured and Bibles printed in different parts of the United States ; and it is possible that we might send the plates to a Society which could procure Bibles from another state cheaper than it could print them.”

plates ought to be sent only to such districts, as in the language of the Convention, “ are now scantily supplied at a discouraging expense, and that the large and small plates ought not to be separated, then it only remains to fix on the places in which the plates ought to be located, and the conditions on which ihe Society ought to part with them. The Board have already promised the Kentucky Bible Society the use of a set of the duodecimo plates ; and, for the reasons already mentioned, the Committee recommend to the Board to offer to the same Society the use of an octavo set also.. Whether Lexington, which is the seat of the Kentucky Bible Society, is the best place which could have been selected for a printing establishment in that part of the state, is a question .which the Committee are not called on to decide ; but they believe that, with the exception of Pittsburg, it possesses superior advantages to any town west of the mountains; and it may reasonably be doubted whether the Pittsburg

“With regard to the conditions on which the Board ought to dispose of these plates, it would probably be most expedient that they should be of general application. The committee, therefore, recommended to the Board the adoption of the following resolutions : viz.

“Resolved, that, whenever the Board of Managers shall grant to any Auxiliary Society the use of any of their stereotype plates, the grant shall be made on the following conditions:

“ 1st. The plates shall remain the property of the American Bible Society, and subject to be removed at the pleasure of the Board whenever, in their opinion, they can be more advantageously placed elsewhere. The plates shall be transported from New-York at the expense of the Board.

“ 2d. The Auxiliary Society to which the plates are sent may print from them, at their own expense, as many Bibles as they may think proper for gratuitous distribution or sale within their own district; but they shall not send out of their district any Bibles thus printed. The Auxiliary Society shall render to the Board, as often as may be required, a particular account of the number and cost of the Bibles printed and distributed by them.

“ 3d. In consideration of the gratuitous use of the stereotype plates, the Auxiliary Society shall cause to be printed, bound, and distributed, at the expense of the Board, and agreeably to their orders, as many Bibles as they may from time to time direct.

"The Committee beg leave to offer the following remarks on the above conditions :

“ By the first condition the Board reserves the important privilege of changing the location of the plates, should expediency require it; and to this no real friend to the Bible cause can consistently object. The Board also assumes the expense of transporting the plates, and will thus render the offer of them more acceptable than it would otherwise be.

“On the second and third conditions, the committee would remark, that in the disposition of the plates the Board of course will be anxious not to violate any of the fundamental principles of the constitution. One of these principles is, that no auxiliary shall, at its own expense, distribute Bibles beyond the limits of its own district, the general Society being entitled to all the funds of its auxiliaries which may not be appropriated to the distribution of Bibles within their respective districts. The Board cannot, therefore, either give or loan to any auxiliary a set of plates for the purpose of supplying any but its own district; otherwise the Society would lose its character of an auxiliary, would never have any surplus funds to transmit to the general Society, and would, in fact, become a branch of the American Bible Society: at the same time, it would be of comparatively little use to send plates to an auxiliary, if the Bibles to be printed from them were never to pass the confines of the district in which the Society is established. In order, therefore, to preserve inviolate the principles of the constitution, and the prerogatives of the Society, and at the same time to render our plates instrumental in giving to the Bible as wide a circulation as possible, the auxiliary is restricted by these conditions from distributing Bibles out of its own district on its own account; and it is at the same time obligated to act as the agent of the Board when required. Every Society imposed this restriction on itself when it became an auxiliary; and the condition leaves to the auxiliary all the rights to which it is entitled. It may expend all its funds in supplying the wants of its own district. The auxiliary to which the plates are sent will probably begin immediately to print Bibles; and then, the Board will have all the advantages of an experiment, without participating in its risk. We shall soon ascertain on what ternis Bibles can be printed at Lexiugton, for instance; and should we deem it advisable to establish there a great depot of Bibles for the supply of the Western States and Territories, the Kentucky Bible Society will, under the third condition, afford great facilities for the accomplishment of this important object. The Board may direct any number of Bibles to be printed for them, and may distribute them with no other trouble than giving an order on the Depository in Lexington.

“On the whole the committee believe, that the plan they now recommend is at least free from danger ; that no injurious consequence will result from its adoption ; and that until the Board shall possess more information it would be imprudent to locate the remaining plates, with the exception already mentioned; since in concerns of so much magnitude and importance it is easier to avoid mistakes than to correct them when made."

Conformably to the principles contained in the above report, an offer was made by the Board to the Kentucky Bible Society of a set of the oclaro in connection with one of the duodecimo stereotype plates of the Bible. The Managers of that Institution have expressed their entire approbation and acquiescence in the conditions stipulated, and their grateful acceptance of the grant.

While using their endeavours “ that the word of the Lord may hare free course and be glorified” throughout the United States, and especially in those parts where there is an incredibly swarming population, the Board have not been unmindful of their brethren of the woods. The condition of these natives, divided from us by their language, their manners, their ignorance, their degradation,-by every thing which distinguishes savage from civilized man-100 osten by the fraud and other injuries of profligate whites, addresses to us a mute but piercing expostulation for that help which they can obtain only in very small portions from any other quarter.

What their aggregate numbers are, it is impossible to calculate with precision, but small as their population is in proportion to the territory over which they are spread, yet surely it is not beneath the notice of Bible-philanthropy: nor, should they escape the extermination which threatens them, will they fail to make, by their conversion and increase,* a large accession to the Redeemer's glory, when he shall appear “having on his head many crowns.”

The Managers have taken up this matter with a view to ascertain what is practicable in itself, and can be accomplished by the Society.

Two modes present the only alternative; either to teach them English, as the medium of their access to the Bible, or to translate it for their use into the

* It is satisfactorily proved, tbat where the Gospel has been introduced among the Indians, accompaniesl, as it reguiariy is, with improve went in evilization, the populaiion increases; while list of the ticalben tribes diminishe..

ternacular tongue. The former has its advantages. It would put into their hands the same translation from one end of the Continent to the other; and that derived immediately from the originals, instead of being translated from a translation, as must in a considerable degree be the case if the Bible be rendered into Indian. It would tend to break down the great barrier to friendly intercourse between them and the whites of a better disposition than they are accustomed to see. It would facilitate the introduction of useful arts, and the exchange of their roving for a settled life. Having moreover no letters, it ig not easy to embody their speech in sounds of the English alphabet, and no successful attempt has yet been made to simplify their language, when written, by the invention of original characters.

But these advantages are counterbalanced., In common with all other nations, the Indians are strongly attached to their mother tongue. They will not submit to the pain of learning another, without such a thirst for knowledge as no savages possess. You must either convince them of its necessity by instructing them in the things of God through an interpreter, or their children

acquire it imperceptibly from their familiarity with the white settlements around them. Experience shows the first to be an Herculean task; and the question will always recur, why the worship of God is not as acceptable in Indian as in English? The second cannot take place but upon a small scale; it is a very slow process; the Indian strength is weakened with its acceleration ; the young people are in danger of learning vice as fast as they learn English ; the tribe is ruined when it is able to understand you ; and your end is defeated. Besides, as the propagation of our language must keep pace with the extension of our frontier, we shall not readily gain admittance far beyond the line of the worst examples that can be set before them; and it will prove, not an encouragement, but a hindrance to their embracing christianity. Their repugnance also to the whites, which, in this situation, must every day grow more inveterate from feeling themselves continually pushed off their grounds, will keep alive their prejudices, will kindle their resentments, and render them not very friendly to the white man's talk. Indians speaking to their brother Indians, " in the tongue wherein every one was born, the wonderful works of God," bid fair to carry the Gospel from the Mississippi to the Pacific, and from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico ; while the English preacher is wasting his life in penetrating a few miles into their own country. And why should we imagine that God, with whom “ there is neither Jew nor Greek, Barbarian, Scythian, bond, nor free,” may not in his mercy “open the hearts" of the red men of the woods, as well as of a “seller of purple,” to receive the things of his word, and purify their lips to proclaim among their fellows, “ the unsearchable riches of Christ ?”

The principal difficulty in the way of the Indian translations of the Scriptures arises from the multiplicity of the Indian dialects. It is long since the researchps of Philologists hare exploded the greater part of what were supposed to be radically distinct languages. Those of the Indians are ascertained, in many instances, to be dialects so near akin, that lettered as he is, a young Indien ran make himself master of severa!.

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