Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

doing some good work the past year toward meeting this demand. The Parent Society, with its usual liberality, has had a colporteur at work supplying the people with the Holy Scriptures and in supplying mission Sunday schools. Our hope and expectation are in the near future, as the country becomes populated with a more enterprising people, to organize Bible societies, with depositories, making them centres of supply for their own fields.

I desire to testify to the warm expressions of sympathy and the kind co-operation of pastors and officers of auxiliaries in my district, and to the universal appreciation of the great and good work done and being done by the American Bible Society at home and abroad.

Books sent to West Virginia, 6,354; of these, 731 were grants or consignments for colportage.

WISCONSIN AND MICHIGAN.—Rev. A. J. Mead, of Appleton, Wis., sends the following encouraging report from his field, which comprises these two States:

In making my report for the fiscal year just closed, I desire to record my gratitude to God for his mercies through another year of toil.

Notwithstanding the political excitement through which the nation las passed, and the almost unparalleled severity of the winter, the results of the year may be regarded as quite satisfactory. The immigration of foreigners has been steadily flowing in upon this field, ncreasing the population of our new counties and giving a necessity and an importance to the Bible work. The limited means with which many of these people have come to make for themselves a home in the wilderness will render much of this territory, for years to come, to a large extent dependent upon the liberality of the Parent Society in keeping up a suitable supply of the word of life. A field embracing over 110,000 square miles furnishes ample opportunity for the exercise of all the strength that the Superintendent of the work can command.

The following is a brief summary of my personal labors, but it cannot be regarded as an exhaustive statement of all the services rendered: Bible societies visited

189
New societies organized

7
Ecclesiastical bodies visited
Sermons and addresses delivered for tlie Bible

164
Official letters sent

1,637 Documents circulated

6,660 Miles travelled

24,887 Contributions received

$1,930 94 Whole amount of money received and forwarded 6,765 57

The special work of supplying the children has met with universal indorsement by all ecclesiastical gatherings to whose attention the work has been brought. Many of our auxiliaries have taken hold of

20

cause

this work with commendable zeal, and have freely promised aid to supply the destitute, when desired by the officers of the Sunday schools. In this work Bay County Society is worthy of special mention. This society has taken upon itself the work of canvassing every Protestant Sunday school within its territory, with a view of supplying all destitute children with a Bible as a personal possession. In addition to this, the society has assumed the responsibility of supplying an adjoining county in which there is no Bible organization.

Over and above the supply made by the Welsh auxiliaries, there has been at least 120 schools supplied. Through the generous aid of the Parent Society the Superintendent has succeeded, during the year, in placing a copy of the Bible in the hands of 2,012 children and youth.

Many of the teachers and officers in the Sunday schools are satisfied with the use of the “lesson-helps,” failing to realize that without the use of the Scriptures their method of religious instruction will furnish the rising generation with only a fragmentary acquaintance with the Bible as a book; yet this work of supply promises to be more extensive for the year to come than it has been for the past.

With the exception of the Welsh societies, the volunteer plan for soliciting funds and for Bible distribution has not proven the success that we had anticipated, so the conclusion has been forced upon us that in the future the work must be carried on at the expense of paid agents.

During the year six auxiliaries lave explored their fields, in whole or in part, with the following results : Families visited

9,432 found destitute

726 Destitute families supplied

183 individuals supplied in addition

252 The vast majority of our local societies have not aimed at anything more than to be distributing agencies, yet hundreds of copies of the Scriptures have gone into destitute homes, without a formal record being kept, so that the full results accomplished can not be formulated in our report.

The Bible, having been excluded from the public schools by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, demands of us more heroic efforts in its circulation than ever before, that none be left without the Holy Scriptures, which carry with them the loftiest of religious teachings and the sublimest conceptions of God and man, duty and destiny.

Books sent to Michigan, 15,708; of these, only 173 were grants. Books sent to Wisconsin, 11,950; of these, 2,348 were grants.

WYOMING.—(See Nebraska.)

[merged small][ocr errors]

The review of the year's operations is darkened by the sad tidings just received of the sudden death, on the 20th of April, of the Rev. L. N. Wheeler, 1).D., who only three years ago was called upon to take up the work in China, and occupy the post from which Dr. Gulick had been compelled to retire by the failure of his health. At the time of his appointment Dr. Wheeler had charge of the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, but years of missionary life in China had made him familiar with the necessities of that immense field and given him special qualifications for the responsibilities of the Agency. IIe entered upon the work with every prospect of a long and useful career, arriving in Shanghai about the 1st of October, 1890, and devoting himself thenceforth to the duties of his office, which included the printing of numerous editions of the Scriptures and the oversight of all plans for their wide distribution, whether by colportage or otherwise. In this he is believed to have merited and received the confidence and affection of all with whom he had to do. At the time of preparing this Report no information has been received except a single cablegram, which announces his death but gives no particulars.

Some of the most satisfactory results of the year are reported from Spanish America. The fact that the attention of the civilized world is just now directed in a remarkable degree to the hemisphere whose existence became known to Western Europe only four hundred years ago, makes it appropriate in this connection to refer to the work which the American Bible Society is doing for the countries lying to the south of the United States.

The Society was formed in 1816 with the avowed purpose of extending its influence to other countries, whether Christian, Mohammedan, or pagan. While its founders recognized the duty of doing all in their power to circulate the Scriptures in the United States and their Territories, responsibility was felt at the very outset for men of other tongues and other lands. The earlier Reports of the Society testify to the solicitude of the Managers for their brethren of the woods, divided from us by their language, their manners, their ignorance, their degradation-by everything which distinguishes savage from civilized man," and announce the opening of “correspondence with gentlemen through whose instrumentality it is hoped much may be done to introduce the Scriptures among the inhabitants of South America.” Of this they proceed to say:

There is perhaps no country which has a greater claim to the attention of the American Bible Society. Forming a part of our own hemisphere, it is filled with a population the numbers and resources of which seem to have been but lately developed to the other nations of the world, and it is now engaged in a struggle which subjects the inhabitants to the evils of a sanguinary war. The Board will not fail to embrace every opportunity of furnishing them with that word of truth which both 'exalts a nation' and gives to man his best support and consolation amidst the horrors of bloodshed and civil strife."

Great changes in territory and population have occurred in seventy-seven years. Since 1816 the United States have acquired Florida from Spain, Alaska from Russia, and Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California from Mexico, bringing the inhabitants of an immense territory into contact with American institutions and the English language. Attracted by the conditions of life in a new world under the benign influence of American institutions, millions upon millions of European immigrantsGermans, Scandinavians, Bohemians, Poles, Italians—have made our country their home, bringing with them the speech of their native lands and threatening us with a Babel-like confusion of tongues. While the Bible Society needs to have special consideration for awhile for such natives of other lands, in order that every man may have the opportunity of reading the Scriptures in the tongue wherein he was born, no one doubts that eventually the English language must prevail in the intercourse of Americans with each other, or that, in accordance with inexorable law, the combined influence of society and trade, of public schools and an untrammelled press, will result in a uniformity of vocabulary and idiom from the Atlantic to the remotest west.

But in the countries of Latin America no such result is to be expected. It may be a question, indeed, whether the Italian and German colonies of Southern Brazil and the Argentino Republic will abandon the speech of their fatherlands; but Portuguese is too deeply rooted in Brazil, and Spanish in the other republics of South America, in Mexico, Central America, and Cuba, to leave any doubt that for a long time to come the peoples of those lands will need large supplies of the Holy Scriptures in Spanish and Portuguese.

The discoverers of the new world took possession of its shores in the name of Christian sovereigns, introducing at once to the native population new forms of religious worship, new books of sacred lore, new truths for the intellect, new motives for the heart, new hopes for the soul. As the centuries have rolled along the colonies have become republics, the aboriginal races have in large measure faded from view, and the reins of government and progress are in the hands of those who profess the Christian faith and acknowledge the significance of the symbol of the cross. But the contrast visible to-day between the nations of this western world whose life has been developed under the forms of Latin Christianity, without the Bible in the hands of the laity, and the nations which have felt the influence of an open Bible accessible to every man, is such as to emphasize the need of renewed effort to put the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments within the reach of all who are willing to own and read them.

Various obstacles have impeded the circulation of the Scriptures in Central and South America, some of which

« AnteriorContinuar »