תמונות בעמוד

to propagate, not the discovery of man, but the

, revelation of God the volume which discloses the fall and the redemption of mankind, which opens to him a stupendous scheme of pardon, unfolds a glorious immortality, and teaches him to attain it? On this first point then I will dwell no longer. No Christian can deny that it is his paramount duty to send the Bible to every accessible quarter of the globe.

It may however be naturally asked in the next place, Whether any considerable want of the Holy Scriptures prevailed previous to the existence of this Society? Because, however pure the object, yet if no extreme necessity appeared for the labours of the Institution, those labours would of course be in a great degree superfluous. Now, Sir, with regard to this point, a single word will suffice. All Europe, from Iceland to Gibraltar, and from the Mediterranean to the Frozen Sea, were in want of the word of life. In Iceland alone not fifty Bibles were found among fifty thousand people. In Asia, with its four or five hundred millions of every tongue, scarcely were any copies of the Scriptures to be met with. Twelve years of unparalleled zeal have hardly been enough to give her numerous tribes even a taste of the heavenly gift. And what shall I say of Africa, of Northern and Southern America, or of the countless islands of the Indian and Pacific Oceans : The whole earth fainted for the waters of life. Nor were we without afflicting wants at home. In Ireland, before this Society

, existed, you might pass through three millions of people without finding three hundred Bibles. Scotland, in the Highland part of it especially, called importunately for the Word of God. In the metropolis of your empire, one half of the poorer population were destitute of the Scriptures. And in this ancient and loyal principality, who is ignorant that for twenty-five years the mass of the people were sighing, and sighing in vain, for the best boon of heaven? It is a fact, Sir, that in ten parishes in Flintshire, thirteen hundred houses were found without Bibles; nor is it less true that one hundred and thirty thousand Welsh Bibles and Testaments circulated by this Society, besides a very large impression by the venerable Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, have but just served to satisfy the immense demand. In short, there never was a cry raised so loudly at home, and reverberated so distinctly from every region of the earth, as that cry of pity which gave birth to the simple but magnificent scheme which we are now assembled to support.

I pass on, then, in the next place to inquire, Whether the plan on which the British and Foreign Bible Society acts be the best that could have been devised; or if not the best, yet such at least as to deserve and demand our support? For however good the end in view, and however pressing the necessity, yet Christian prudence and integrity will always consider whether the means of attaining it be pure and laudable. Now, Sir, I conceive the uniting of all Christians in a plan in which they all agree, is the best and most efficient method that can be adopted; because it brings together the collected strength of the whole Christian community, and at the same time tends to promote our obedience to the great command of our Saviour, to love one another. In a Society then where the project begins and ends with the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, there can be no possible reason for limitation or exclusion. For myself, I must confess, that as a clergyman of the Established Church, I am happy to show that the separation of the different classes of Christians in this country from our communion on points of external discipline, does not lessen my readiness to co-operate with them in a scheme so simple and yet so important as the circulation of the Bible. Belonging, as I do, to the reformed apostolical Church of these realms, the leading principle of which is, that the Bible, and the Bible alone, contains the religion of Protestants; though I may and do lament what appears to me to be the errors of the different

communities, whether abroad or at home, who separate from us, yet I rejoice to hasten to the spot above that where the stream divides, and to drink together with them of that river which flows for the refreshment and life of the world. Let us differ, if it must be so, on every other topic, but let us at least agree in this, to distribute the word of God to every creature. I am sure, Sir, this is the true way to support the interests of our own venerable and scriptural establishment. Our Church was never really served by coldness and pride, and distance and repulsion, by straining matters of discipline beyond their fair importance, and laying on them a weight they can never bear-No, Sir, he best promotes her stability who acts with honest and discriminating firmness on points of real moment, and yet can unite in the bonds of charity with all other Christians in matters like that of the Bible Society, where no difference of sentiment can possibly arise. Besides, in this happy country it is the privilege of Britons to join in schemes of general duty and general benevolence, without regard to their particular differences. We unite in loyal attachment to the same Sovereign, and in obedience to the same laws. We sit in the same representative body. We fight in the same battles, and partake a common protection. Our local schemes of charity or of munificence are supported and governed without one exclusive principle. Christians of different denominations join in erecting a bridge or in founding an hospital: and yet there is a deeper gulph than the wintry torrent ever formed - there is a more beneficent house of mercy than any hand of charity ever reared-and why should not all Christians unite in throwing a bridge over the otherwise impassable gulph of misery and sin, and in building an hospital where moral distempers are for ever cured? This principle indeed is so clear, that our Society enjoys a greater patronage at this moment than was probably ever obtained by any religious Institution in so short a time. A majority of the Right Reverends the Bishops of the United Kingdom support our cause; and a Society exactly similar in its plan, The Naval and Military Bible Society, has at its head his Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primate of all England. To possess universal approbation was never the lot of any human scheme. Our passions and prejudices too effectually prevent this. If our Society had passed on without some opposition, the world would have been in a state not to need its aid. It is our part then to conduct ourselves with the utmost charity towards those who may differ from us, but to pass on ardently in the career of mercy which is before

How little the objections raised against us really avail may appear from a single circum


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