« הקודםהמשך »
married people—23 men and 23 women. Most of these, as I should think, are over thirty-five. Of the young people, a few more than half are males.
of the happy effect which this work of sovereign grace has already produced on our society, it would be difficult to speak with sufficient approbation and praise. Party contentions, jealousies, evil communications, profanity, intemperance, &c. have nearly disappeared from our Society. No candid observer of the influence of such a work on the feelings and habits of men, will question its tendency to promote the most perfect state of social order, virtue, and happiness. The change in numerous individuals is well described by St. Paul-"and such were some of you : but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
I have felt a wish, dear sir, to give you a short account of a small number of very interesting cases. But the bad state of my health renders it too laborious for me to write. It is more than a week since I commenced this long letter. I have been able to write only a few lines at a time; and those at long intervals. I am, however, very slowly mending. The good work continues with power. It is also very great and general in Enfield, and South Hadley, and Palmer; is begun with great promise in Ware, and Granby, and Amherst, and increases in Northampton. Other towns in the vicinity exhibit very flattering appearances. As to opposition to such a work of grace in Hampshire County, there is none.
Most respectfully yours,
EXPERIENCE PORTER. P. S.-Among the subjects of the work, we reckon five or six, blacks, one an old man of near 70, not yet brought in. Their cases are very interesting and clear.
LIVERPOOL RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY.
(Continued from page 694.) Nor can your Committee refrain from mingling with you in the satisfaction with which you must regard the growing and extensive operations of the Religious Tract Society in London, which in one sense may be deemed the mother of us all. Unimpaired by age, and aided and supported by the prayers, and efforts, and contributions of ber numerous offspring, she is stretching forth her benevolent arms to every quarter of the globe, and scattering the bread of life in every region of the earth. What heart is there, warmed by the love of Christ and of immortal souls, but must leap for joy at the intelligence that thousands of Tracts, conveying divine instruction, are annually distributed in the different states of Europe, and especially in Russia, amongst a people whom we were wont to denominate the barbarians of the North-that the same Hymns and Catechisms which we teach our children are now learned by thousands of the cbildren of idolaters, and in some of the heathen schools--that Religious Tracts are printed in the hieroglyphics of China, understood by nearly one third of the human race-and that not less than three millions and a half of these silent heralds of salvation have issued from their depository to all the nations of the globe, during the past yeat, Thus, in this noble institution we are honoured to be workers together with the excellent of the earth, of every paine and of every country under beaven; and, above all, to be workers together with God in mitigating and reinoving the evils of the curse, by destroying the love and induence of sin on the hearts and in the conduct of our fellow men. If this be not glorious, what is? The honours derived from such bigh association and benevolent work enilure--the glory of such enterprizes shall survive when the sun, moon, and stars have faileil, and every other glory that sheds its beams upon the creature's brow is absorbed in the fire that shall burn the world. "Then the riglieous shall shine as the lighi," &c.
And surely of all the noble institutions that distinguish and adorn the present age, there is not one that possesses claims to the sups port and countenanre of the religious public, on the score of economy, equal to this. How many quires of paper may be covered with the words of life, and to how many hundreds and thousands of our brethren of mankind, perishing in ignorance around us, may they be sent for a few shillings. Yes, a few shillings may furnish a village Tract Associativn, on the plan of those in the neighbourhood of Wem, with a supply of Religious Tracts for weeks and months: and multitudes, through their instrumentality, may be made wise unto salvation with little trouble and less Committee are convinced that the immense importance and efficiency of this mode of doing good bas not yet been sufficiently appreciated by the friends of Tract Societies in this quarter of the world, nor even by the members of this Society themselves; and when it shall be duly appreciated, (a period, they trust, not far distant,) they are confident that the increased resources you will place at their disposal will enable them to distribute ten times the present quantity at least. Calculating, then, upon such an increase as the state of the world requires, and your known benevolence in other institutions warrants ihem to expect, your Committee indulge the hope that the amount distributed in 1819 will be at least' 500,000, and in 1820 a million, and even then they will not bid you stay your hands, for still there will be supplicants waiting on the Continent of Europe, in England, Wales, Ireland, India, Africa, &c. “ In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand, for thou knowest not which shall prosper, this or that, or whether they mny be alike good.”
From Mr. J. Fenn, of Wem, dated 16th July, 1818, to the Secretaries. GENTLEMEN,
I send you the following plan for furnishing every family in the kingdom, whether rich or poor, with a Religious Tract weekly,
being that upon which the Religious Traet Society lately established at Wem is conducted.
This is not a visionary scheme, but has been pot in practice in the above market-town and its vicinity, About ladyday last, a few persons, friends to the Gospel, of different denominations, furored themselves into a Tract Society. They bave hitherto been supplied with Tracts from the Liverpool Institution, though they are, in other respects, independent, not being connected with it either as an Auxiliary or Branch Society.
Their mode of distribution is as follows:-Wem, with its neighbourhood, is divided into districts, and over each a di-tributor has been appointed; and these constitute the Committee for transacting the atlairs of the Society. Each district in the town contains in it one large street, or two or three small ones;
and in the country, a village with its adjacent houses. It has been found necessary, by experience, in order to make a few Tracts go a great way, and for the better regulation and dispatch of business, that the districts should be allotted as equally as possible ; for instance, suppose a village with its neighbourhood consists of 120 houses, and they are desirous of instituting a Tract Suciety, these should be divided into four equal parts or districts; and then twelve different sorts of Tracts, thirty of each sort, exchanged from one district to another, will furnish every family with a fresh Tract weekly, for twelve weeks: the whole number of Tracts wanted will be 360. This is upon a very sinall scale, but the proportion will be the same on a larger one.
It should be particularly noticed, that the above are small Tracts, but when large ones are procured, a week being insufficient, a firnight should be allowed : in that case, the 120 houses should be divided into eight parts, and then twenty-four different sorts of Tracts, of fifteen of a sort, will be sufficient to have an excbange for a much longer time than twelve weeks. The large Tracts ought to be covered.
The duty of a distributor is to provide every house in bis own district with a fresh Tract every week, or every fortnight; and 10 collect such subscriptions as occur within his district, and also to endeavour to procure additional ones; all which are to be paid to the Treasurer at the quarterly Committee Meeting of the Society, which is held on each of the quarter days of the year. The Subscriptions asked for are only 6d per quarter, but several voluntarily give more.
As a town in general furnishes more persons than are necessary to act as distributors within its precincts, several of these become distributors for the nearer country districts; but at a greater distance many respectable persons offer their services for this important work.
Our Society had, even in so sbort a space of time as a quarter of a year, extended its districts eight or nine miles from the town of Wem; but we all concurred in opinion, that on account of the
distance merely, it would be more beneficial for the general good that they should form Societies among themselves, and this they have lately put into execution.
The time that has been judged most fit for the distribution of the Tracts has been on the Sabbath mornings, when some part of the fainily are most likely to begin to read them, instead of laying them by, and forgetting them, which might be the case were they delivered out on week days; and several of the distributors bave had the gratification to observe, that the moment they appeared at the door of most of the houses, the Tract that had been read during the previous week was readily brought to them, as if it had been kept at hand on purpose, with expressions of thankfulness for the new one then delivered. In the town, this business of taking in the old Tracts and delivering out the new ones, takes up about one hour; and in the country, it is always performed between the early morning prayer meeting and the regular morning service, and that even by a distributor residing in the town. On Monday morning, at eight o'clock, (or any other week day would do,) the old Tracts that have been read during the previous week are taken to the Depository, when he receives a fresh lot, tied up, with a label on it, containing the number of his district, which are to be given out on the ensuing Sabbath. The person who presides at the Depository should have a board with the number of the districts across the top, and under the number of each district, the number of Tracts wanted for each; and then columns under the above, in which, every week, is entered the printed number of the Tracts, so that it can be seen at one view what Tracts have been distributed to each district.
One very encouraging circumstance is, that persons in the higher ranks of Society, as well as the poor, still continue to permit the Tracts to be left at their houses, their first introduction having been owing to a civil request from the distributor, that a Tract or two might be left for the benefit of the servants. It is granted that in a few instances, (but they have been very few indeed,) the distributors have met with some repulses; but this has not discouraged them; and, with a very few exceptions, the Tracts are still delivered to every family, high and low, rich and poor; and to persons of every denomination, whether belonging to the church of England or Dissenters.
With respect to the final disposal of the Tracts after they have been read, it was in contemplation to have sent them into Ireland to be sold at a low rate, but if this is not done, they will be divided among the subscribers
Should it be objected that this Society only being quite in an infant state, we are unable to judge whether it can subsist any length of time, I would answer, first, That to gain an admission for a dozen religious and evangelical Tracts, not only in the houses of the poor, but also in those of our most wealthy neighbours, is a matter of no small importance ; secondly, That though our Society Las
been but of short duration, it at present goes on prosperously, and is likely to do so; and, thirdly, To delay communicating any thing that might have the most distant prospect of doing good till we have had more experience of its utility, would be culpable, particularly as providence so evidently opens a way for every exertion of this kind, by affording such abundant means for the distribution of Tracts throughout the kingdom, and inclining so many to receive them when offered.
It must be evident to all who peruse this paper, that the plan here proposed has respect only to the mode of distribution; a. material question then arises, where are a sufficient number of Tracts to be found to supply every family in the kingdom? The answer is plain and short; more must be printed; and, to effect this, let other large towns establish Institutions similar to the one at Liverpool.
It is reported that at Shrewsbury a meeting has been just held to propose measures for the formation of a Tract Society there, and it is to be hoped that every county town in the kingdom will follow the example.
And lastly, it is to be remarked that the above plan is recommended to all persons of every denomination, whether in the establishment or out of it, who are friends to the Gospel of Christ, are desirous of doing good to their fellow-creatures, and wish to promote the increase of the kingdom of God our Saviour. Address of the Workmen's Auriliary Religious Tract Society, Ray-street,
Clerkenwell. All the means of grace have their peculiar advantages, and many are adapted to peculiar circumstances. The dissemination of Religious Tracts is especially so. There are persons who never read the word of God, who never attend public worship, who have no fellowship with pious people ; and who, from heedlessness, prejudice, or hatred, concern not themselves about the things that belong to their everlasting peace; nay, who run into daoger, as far as they can, purely to escape from the fear of it.
A Tract is a missile weapon, discharged by an arm ignorant of the mark to which the Spirit of God may direct it; who may consecrate it to the conviction and conversion of a sinner, unassailable from any other quarter. It falls in the way of such a one. He would be ashamed to look at it before his companions; but he is alone, and he has nothing else to do;-something in the title attracts his eye; its brevity tempts his indolence :-he begins to read it with indifference, perhaps with repugnance; but his curiosity being excited, and feeling himself gradually more and more interested, he proceeds, with diminishing prejudice and increasing seriousness, to the end.
He has got through it; but he has not done with it. He lays it out of his hand, but he cannot lay it out of his mind : its story has not passed through his imagination only, like an arrow through the