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Bible in sueh a manner as circumstances will admit of, namely, with, out note, comment, or accompaniment; or not to circulate it at all, further than within the kingdoms of England and Ireland, dominion of Wales, and town of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
But I feel persuaded that this liberal and enlightened assembly will not consent to limit the sphere of operation for the British and Foreign Bible Society to so narrow a compass. Gentlemen who have been accustomed, like many in this room, to traffic with all Europe, and all Africa, and all America, and who, of late, have extended their speculations to the most distant shores of Asia; and who, if Lord Erskine's fabulous Armata could be realized, would, no doubt, extend them to some neighbouring planet, will not, I am sure, cordially concur in any measure that would have a tendency to confine either their own operations or those of the Bible Society to the narrow limits I have alluded to. They will claim the whole world as the proper sphere for both. But, in that case, the boundaries which separate countries and different sects and parties from each other will insensibly disappear; and, in proportion as the enlightened mind soars above those distinctions, the more minute and indistinct they will seem. The interests of the county of Lancaster, (great as they are in themselves,) and of the Church of England, (great as they confessedly are in themselves,) will be lost in the general prosperity of the British empire, and in the more extensive enlargement of the Church of the Living God.
Notwithstanding all these reasonings, which appear to my mind conclusive in favour of the Bible Society, I am bound to admit, that a great and formidable opposition is now making against it. The design has been formed, and the wish has been cherished, if it has not been in words expressed, that the British and Foreign Bible Society, which is the glory of the British empire, which has distributed more than two millions of copies of the Holy Scriptures, which has translated them, in whole or in part, into sixty-six different languages, and which has evidently been the means of forming the Bible Societies which, in Russia, Prussia, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, America, and India, are endeavouring to place a Bible in the hand of every human being upon the face of the whole globe-may be destroyed and perish; and vast are the efforts, the underhand efforts, which have been long making to produce this result. The very idea of it is dreadful; but, blessed be God, the design will not succeed. The work is evidently his own; and he has said, that no weapon formed against his cause shall prosper. But, as he makes use of instruments to accomplish his gracious purposes, he will, I doubt not, continue to the Society the support of a large part of the Established Clergy, and of the independent Laity of England, who, recollecting at what a dear rate their forefathers purchased an exemption from Papal infallibility, will not readily surrender their opinions to any other infallibility whatever ; but will reserve to themselves the right of examining the pretensions the Society has to their protection, upon fàir, open, liberal, and unprejudiced grounds, and grant to it such continued aid and assistance as they may deem it worthy of In addition to this, the Society will not fail to have the warm support and countenance of the British Ladies. In fact, they possess it already; of which no greater proof can be offered than the extraordinary exertions lately made by the Ladies of Liverpool in favour of the Bible Society ; efforts that were no less noble and generous than they were opportune and well-timed. You know what happened, in December last, at Bath, when that pious Prelate, the Bishop of Gloucester, was so dreadfully and unnecessarily outraged by his inferior in the Church : which outrage was but a prelude to, and a ramification of certain other open and violent attacks which were made in London and elsewhere upon the Bible and Church Missionary Societies. I will not say that those attacks produced any real fear in the minds of the friends of those institutions, but they undoubtedly produced some serious apprehensions, which were not of the most pleasant nature. Under those circumstances, the news of what had been so kindly and generously, and affectionately, and zealously done for the Bible Society by the Ladies of Liverpool, produced the most cheering and exhilirating effects ; strengthened the hands of the Committee, and encouraged them to go forward in the cause, trusting in God.* As a permanent member of the Parent Committee, I think 'it a duty and a privilege to offer to those Ladies our grateful acknowledgments and thanks; but I must not say too much
upon this head, because our enemies charge us with flattering the Ladies, even by those few words which sometimes appear at the foot of our advertisements for public meetings. “N. B. Seats will be provided for the Ladies.” * But, though I may not flatter, I may encourage; yet even this I will not do in any language of my own, preferring to select the encouragement from that blessed book we are endeavouring to circulate. I am not uninformed of the labour and fatigue which the individuals who undertook the arduous office of Collectors for the Ladies' Association cheerfully supported, nor am I wholly unacquainted with the unkind and uncharitable repulses which they had sometimes to encounter. To the Ladies at large, and to the individuals I allude to in particular, I would, therefore, say, in language which you heard last Sunday, out of our most excellent Liturgy: "This is thank worthy, if a man, for conscience toward God, endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently; but if, when ye do well and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that
example that ye should follow his steps who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth ; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again, when he suffered, he threatened not, but committed himself to him who judgeth righteously.”
* The Ladies' Bible Society, at Liverpool, consists of about sixteen different associations, having upwards of four hundred female collectors, the whole under the management of a committee of sixty ladies.
Saturday, November 21, 1818.
OBJECTIONS TO ATTEMPTING THE CONVERSION
OF THE JEWS ANSWERED. Extract from the substance of a Speech delivered at Norwich, (Eng.)
Sept. 26, 1917, at the formation of a Norfolk and Norwich Auciliary Society, in aid of the London Society for promoting Christianity among the Jews, by the Rev. CHARLES SIMEON, M. A. Fellow of King's College, Cambridge,
It is thought by some to be a vain attempt. But why should it be any more vain for us to seek the conversion of the Jews, than it was for them to seek the conversion of the Gentiles? Were not the idolaters of former days as far off from God as they? Were not the people of this land, for instance, in as hopeless a state as the Jews at this day can be ? Yet behold what God has wrought in this country; and shall we despair of them ? Bat God has told us, that the work of converting them is much more within the limits of rational expectation than that which has already been wrought in us. “ If thou (says he) wert cut out of the olive tree, wbich is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive-tree, how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive-tree !” Besides, God has promised that the “Deliverer shall come out of Zion, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; and that so all Israel shall be saved ;" and therefore we know infallibly, that they shall be converted to Christ, and become, with the Gentiles, one fold under one Shepherd. We do not, indeed, certainly know that our efforts shall succeed: but knowing that the event shall take place, we are encouraged to labour with all our might for its accomplishment.
It is a mistake to imagine that God will convert the Jews without means, for in that place where God most strongly declares that he will restore them to life, Ezek. xxxvii. 1-5, he commands the prophet to prophesy unto them: and never till he prophesied, did the dry bones begin to move; but on his prophesying as be was commanded, they arose a great army. This shows us in what way alone we are authorized to expect the work of their conversion to be accomplished.
But, say others, the time is not come. But who, I would ask, is authorized to affirm this? Who has been the Lord's counsellor, so as to be perfectly acquainted with the times and the seasons which he has reserved in his own power ? Supposing that God were to tell us, as he did David, that the time for erecting his temple among them was not yet come, would he not at least commend us for having it in our hearts to build his temple ? and should we not, like that pious monarch, labour to provide materials for it? He spent not less than eighteen millions of money in preparing for the temple, though he knew he was not to build it: and surely all the efforts that we can use should be put forth to prepare the way of the Lord among them; and we should account it an honour to sow, though we knew that we were sowing for others only, and that others were to enter into our labours. But we have no reason to think the time is not come: on the contrary, if any man will declare what the signs of the times shall be when this great work shall commence, we will venture to say, that be shall see those very signs existing in the present day. Is there to be a stir among the Gentiles, and a commencement of their in-gathering? At what period has this been more visible than the present, when there are missions establishing on the whole face of the globe, and numbers in every place are turned to the Lord ? It is a certain fact, that both among the Mahometans and Hindoos in India, there is a general persuasion, that the time is rapidly approaching, when their respective religions shall give way, and yield to one general religion. Among the Jews themselves too there is a general opinion, that their Messiah is speedily to appear. Now precisely as at the first advent of Christ there was an expectation throughout all the Roman empire, that one should arise out of Judea, who should sway the sceptre of the world, so there is now among both Jews and Gentiles an expectation that his kingdom shall be established upon earth from the rising to the setting sun. The very zeal exercised in their bebalf at this present hour, so different from any thing that has occurred for many hundred years, is itself a ground to hope, that the Lord's time, if not yet fully come, is fast approaching: and the success which has already attended our efforts, though not great, may yet be considered as the first fruits of a future harvest, a drop before the shower.
In confirmation of the former objection, it is further said by some, that we have expended much, and done little. That our success has not yet awhile been great, I readily admit: but in truth it is not tili the present hour that the fittest means have been used for effecting the conversion of the Jews; for in comparison of the translating the New Testament into Hebrew, all other means are of little worth. Doubtless there was, at the commencement of this Society, an erroneous notion that the kingdom of God was to come with observation: and too great a dependance was placed on an arm of flesh. I think too there was a want of due caution in relation to many things. But still it should not be forgotten that the whole was uptrodden ground; and that' in a matter of such difficulty many errors and many failures might reasonably be expected. But whatever objections might be urged against the Society as it formerly existed, they are no just cause of objection to it in its present state, now that every error that forinerly obtained is sought out with care, and corrected with diligence: rather, I should say, the removal of all those persons or things which were dishonourable to the Society in its former state, is a pledge to the public that the affairs of the Society are, and shall be, as far as human prudence and caution can effect it, conducted with all possible care for the glory of God, and the advancement of the work
committed to us. I say again, that if the existence of evils in the Society as formerly constituted and conducted, has weakened the confidence of any, the unsparing removal of those evils is a ground for restoring that confidence to those who now administer its affairs,
Some have said, We wait to see what you do ; and if we find that you do any thing of importance, we intend to assist you. But how can we do any thing of importance, unless we are first aided by the public: we cannot embark in great concerns at our own cost; especially after having discharged, without any assistance from the public, the immense debt that bad been previously contracted. 'Let us meet with encouragement to act, and we will do our utmost to approve ourselves worthy of the confidence reposed in us.
But, after all, it is not fair to say that little has been done. If there had been but one truly and savingly converted, it ought not to be called little ; since one soul is of more value than the whole world, But is it little to have accomplished the translation of the New Tes. tament into pure biblical Hebrew? No man would say so who knew what efforts have been necessary to effect it. It is, in truth, a great national work, an honour to our country, and it has laid the foundation of all that we hope hereafter to behold in the conversion of thousands and myriads by means of it. At this very hour it is producing a spirit of inquiry among the Jews upon the continent to a great extent; and we trust that the new edition of it which we are about to issue from the press, will give a very effectual answer to this objection.
A fourth objection is, that there is work enough for us to do among the Gentiles. There is; and I rejoice that God has stirred up the hearts of his people to consider their case, aud to send to them the light of his truth; and so far am I from grudging the exertions of Christians for the Gentiles, that I pray God they may be increased an hundred fold. But still we must not on that account neglect the Jews; for the Jews have, in reality, a prior claim. God has expressly said, that his salvation is sent to the Jew first, and next to the Gentile ; and those who were first commissioned to preach it, were to preach it beginning at Jerusalem. The Jews have a claim upon us which none of the Gentiles have. Who were the first in God's estimation? The Jews. Who were they who composed and delivered to us the lively oracles ? Jews. Who was the Saviour of the world himself? A Jew. Who were they who first sought the Salvation of the Gentile world, and even laid down their lives for us? Jews. Say then whether the Jews have not a claim on us ? But see what St. Paul has said in Rom. xi. 30, 31. " As ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief, even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.” The weaning of this passage is briefly this: “God made the Jews the depositories of his word for us; and he now makes us the depositories of his word for them. We came to the enjoyment of this blessing through their unbelief; but they are to be restored to the enjoyment of it through the