תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

bles and 33 Testaments given to necessitous and deserving persons, In the weekly welcome which accompanied the little offerings of the subscribers, and the gratification expressed by them when the books became their property, a powerful stimulus was found to the exertions of the collector, who, however, had often to regret her inability to extend them further, especially when solicited by the poor, " just to come where they lived," and while others, from a distance, brought their money, and begged to be taken on the list.* These efforts were confined to the east side of the town, where about onethird of the poor were reported by the collectors to be destitute of the holy scriptures, and, in many cases, without a wish to possess them. A great proportion of these were unable to read : a few were, however, induced to learn; and thirteen of these

poor women are now perusing the testaments with which they have furnished themselves. The deficiency in the more populous part of the town, adjoining the docks, was not ascertained; but the further the collectors advanced in the work, the more they were convinced of its urgent necessity, and of their inability to perform it. The funds of the Society being inadequate to the demands for Bibles and Testaments, even at reduced prices, your Committee were obliged to refuse several applications for grants to persons in indigent circumstances; but å seasonable donation of Bibles and Testaments, to the amount of £5, intended for the temperary supply of such persons as were unable to purchase, prevented the inconvenience which this circumstance would otherwise have occasioned. New difficulties were, however, continually arising, which called for new and untried expedients; and the benevolent designs of the institution were frequently impeded by that want of system which your Committee felt themselves incompetent to supply. With a view to remedy this de

* A woman, who gave her name as a free contributor last May, has since been, for some months, in the Infirmary. When the collectors called lately at her house, she immediately, without solicitation, paid for three quarters of the preceding year.

The following note was addressed to one of the Collectors, by a poor man, who had purchased a large Bible at a reduced price. “ Most GENEROUS YOUNG LADY,

“ I desire to return you my most humble thanks for the treasure which you have put into our possession; a treasure which we have long desired; but, as our family increased upon us, and we had some disappointments, we could not purchase one to suit my wife, as her eyes were weak; but this suits her very well; and I hope you will meet with a reward due to you for your encouragement. I trust, in time, it will make us richer than any other treasure you could have bestowed upon us, and I shall ever think myself obligated to you.

“I am your humble servant. J. L." A poor woman, who had before purchased a Bible by paying a small sum every week, said to the collector, on receiving a ticket which certified she had paid for a second, “I wish, Ma'am, you would put my name again in your book for a third Bible ; because I have three children, and I wish to leave each of them one as a legacy. I am very poor, but if I were ever so rich, I could leave them nothing more valuable.""

fect, and to extend the benefits of the undertaking as widely as possible, they solicited the assistance of CHARLES STOKES DUDLEY, Esq. who was at that time forming Bible associations in the midland counties, upon the Southwark plan, strongly recommended for adoption by the Parent Committee, and whose experience eminently fitted him for a counsellor at such a crisis.

On the 26th of December, 1817, a general meeting, for the reorganization of the Society, was held, pursuant to public notice, in the Music-hall, which was numerously and respectably attended. After an interesting detail of the successful exertions of the British and Foreign Bible Society, Mr. Dudley specified the nature and beneficial effects of Bible Associations, in enabling the poor to supply themselves with the sacred scriptures. The plan recommended by the Parent Society was unanimously decided upon for the government of the Associations in connexion with the Society, and ten were accordingly formed in the course of the following week; seven of them within the town, and the other three embracing the townships and villages of Toxtethpark, Harrington, Edge-hill, Mount Vernon, Everton, Kirkdale, Walton, Bootle, and Derby. The boundaries of each Association were distinctly traced; the mode of operation explained and approved ; and many ladies, resident upon the spot, were induced, by a knowledge of the happy effects produced in other places, to volunteer their services in behalf of the Associations. Each Association was provided with a treasurer and three secretaries, who are appointed, by the constitution of the auxiliary, members of that committee, and, with the addition of any other member acting as collector in the association, form a district committee for its superintendance. A report is by them presented at the monthly meeting of your Committee, stating the proceedings of the past month, the actual state of the district, the number of collectors, subscribers, &c. and any interesting facts or observations which have fallen under their notice. By this plan the harmony and co-operation of every branch of your Society are maintained, the experience gained in any point is circulated for the benefit of others, and a correct estimate is formed of the whole. The abstract of the District Committee's first three monthly reports, which will be given in the appendix, affords a clear evidence how well the plan is adapted to the accom. plishment of those important designs which the Liverpool Auxiliary Society had, for a long season, ardently, but ineffectually, pursued. The great variety there must necessarily be in the local circumstances which effect these reports, gives an interest to each, which renders selection difficult; but the following extract appeals to the benevolence of all who are concerned in advancing the welfare of our poorer neighbours. “Through a large proportion of this district, every house contains several families, most of them very poor. We have yet only been able to ascertain the state of twelve of our forty-five smaller districts; in these twelve, 635 families have been visited, 241 of which are destitute of any part of the Holy Scriptures, and 195 persons cannot read."

As subscriptions from servants are solicited only through the medium of their mistresses, your Committee earnestly and respectfully entreat the ladies of Liverpool and its vicinity to co-operate with them in supplying their domestics with the sacred volume, by which they are effectually taught that obedience and faithful performance of their duty which will make them invaluable to their employers. Twenty-two pounds for Bibles have been raised by this class of contributors.

Whilst your Committee feel grateful for many proofs of kindness and valuable assistance they have received in various ways, they consider their warmest acknowledgments due to the collectors, for the zeal and activity with which they have come forward in the cause. Under the Divine blessing, they have been chiefly the means of bringing the institution to its present state of prosperity, and it is upon a continuance of their prudent and active exertions that it must still principally depend. In the course of the succeeding year, it is hoped, their numbers will be greatly increased. To those who have entered upon this highly honourable, because highly useful work, the Committee say, be steadfast and immoveable; and as the duty you have undertaken enjoins a strict adherence to the rules of the associations, let each one endeavour to act upon them in the spirit of that book which she is recommending to others; and, confining her attention to the simple yet comprehensive object of the Society, s to disseminate the holy Scriptures without note or comment,” by gentleness and propriety of conduct, be herself a “living epistle of Christ, known and read” by the most illiterate.

Thus have your Committee been led, by a way which they knew not, to the prospect of an extensive field of usefulness expanding before them. Did they believe they had engaged in this important work in their own strength, well might they now shrink from its awful responsibility, as affecting the temporal and eternal happiness of many; but they proceed in humble dependance upon his almighty aid, who, to display the sovereignty of his power, is sometimes pleased to select the weakest instruments for the accomplishment of his greatest designs.

Speech of LIEUTENANT-COLONEL Burgess, at the Liverpool Bible

Meeting, April 9th, 1818. MR. CHAIRMAN,

Having been requested to submit a motion for the consideration of this meeting, I am desirous to prefix a few observations in relation to the great Society we are assembled to support.

I have had the honour to be a member of the British and Foreign Bible Society from its earliest commencement, and therefore remember those happy and peaceful days when all sects and parties were united in its support, when there was but one sentiment entertained concerning it, and when, from the warm encouragement afforded to it by such Prelates as a Porteus, a Barrington, and many other firm friends of the Church of England, not the smallest doubt was entertained that it was likely to be prejudicial to the interest of that Church. In short, I remember, before Dr. Wordsworth first threw down his gauntlet, and provoked that war of words that has since ensued and produced such unexpected effects—I say unexpected, and, I believe I might add, undesired, effects in the minds of the enemies of this Society, because, to my certain knowledge, the public opposition to the Bible Society has materially added to its funds. If I recollect right, this was somewhere about the year

eleven; and at that period I had the honour to be a principal instrument in forming an auxiliary society in a very distant county (Cornwall.) The proposition was not, at first, opposed, but it was received rather coolly, and we, who had the management of the preparatory measures, would have gladly consented to fix the receipt of the auxiliary society for the first year at £300 ; but it happily occurred for us, that a few Clergymen had read Dr. Wordsworth's book, and imbibed his sentiments, which they retailed, in four or five anonymous letters, in the ornwall Gazette. This completely answered our purpose ; for it provoked inquiry, and thereby provided for us friends numerous and unexpected.

We considered each of those anonymous letters to have been worth to us at least £100; for, when we came to make up our sum total, we found, to our great astonishment and joy, that it amounted to £910.

But the war against the Bible Society still continued, and book after book appeared, intended to show that the Institution was of a nature and tendency calculated to overthrow both the Church and State. Being sincerely attached to both, I thought it my duty to read these books carefully, and to consider maturely their arguments; because, had their assertions been true, no consideration whatever. would have induced me to have continued my support of the Bible Society. But I soon clearly ascertained, that their arguments were grounded in fallacy, in needless fear, and, above all, in a narrowness of view. I found, for instance, their argument fallacious in supposing, that the circulation of the Bible can possibly injure the interests of a Church that rests its pretensions to be a Church wholly upon the Bible. I found also, that a groundless fear had been entertained, that a combination of all Christians, to support Christianity in its purity, was likely to be injurious to any particular branch of that Christianity; which appeared to me to be about as reasonable as to suppose, that the general health of an individual was likely to be prejudicial to his heart, or any other particular member of his body. It strikes me, that it requires but a little exercise of reason to see, that, if the whole prospers, the separate parts cannot be doing very badly. And this leads me to the point upon which I wish more particularly to insist, namely, the very limited view of the subject which appears to have been taken by the opponents of the Bible Society, who, it is with much concern I am obliged to remark, are only to be found (generally speaking) amongst the Clergy of the Church of England; and, whilst all other Protestant Confessions in Europe and

America have united with the Greek Church in a cordial support of the Bible Society, they alone have thought it advisable to identify themselves, in a certain way, with the Pope and sacred College at Rome in opposing it.

Sir, we are bound, in Christian charity, to believe that the Clergymen of the Church of England, who oppose the Bible Society, are sincere and conscientious in their opposition ; but it does not result from thence, that the people of that Church are obliged to follow them in any erroneous opinions they may happen to draw. For instance : if they were to insist upon it that two and two make five, I am not aware of any authority for our subscribing to their calculation. If, therefore, it can be shown, that the view they have taken of the Bible Society is radically wrong, we are at liberty, I presume, to reject the inference that might be drawn from such a view. Now, it strikes me, that the view they have taken of the Bible Society is too narrow. They have considered it only in reference to the Church of England; whereas they ought to consider it as it regards the Church of Christ in the whole world, which our beautiful Liturgy denominates “ the holy Catholic Church.” They have, unhappily, considered, that, if the former flourish, no matter what becomes of the latter. But I am persuaded this respectable meeting cannot bring themselves to this conclusion.

I am aware where I am, and I am sure that I might as well attempt to persuade you, that, if the coasting trade only flourished, foreign commerce might safely be neglected. But the prosperity of the two things are intimately united together, so that, if the latter increases, the former is sure to increase with it. And so it is in the case before us: the more the Christian Church at large flourishes, the more will the Church of England, and every other separate Church and denomination, that is truly scriptural, flourish with it. But then the argumeut is, that this Bible should not be suffered to go forth without the accompaniment of the English Liturgy. This certainly all good Churchmen would desire ; but how is it to be done? What

; are the arguments that will induce the learned and pious Church on the other side of the Tweed to receive our Liturgy? Is it to be expected, that the Protestant Churches of Sweden and Denmark, of Holland and Germany, and of the United States of America, will subscribe to the articles of the Church of England, and accept her formularies? Is it to be thought, that the ancient and venerable Church of the immense Russian empire, which received its Liturgy immediately from the Greek fathers, should come over, with all its Patriarchs, Archbishops, and Archimandrites, and do homage to the Archbishop of Canterbury ? Or will the innumerable tribes of India, for whose use the Bible has been lately translated into so many languages, promise not to receive them without the English Liturgy, although, as yet, it has been only translated into one of those languages? The thing is impossible ; and therefore but one alternative remains, which is, to encourage the circulation of the

« הקודםהמשך »