Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

E commence our Appendix with the report which we promised to lay before our readers, of the proceedings which took place at Cambridge on the occasion of forming an Auxiliary Bible Society. A public meeting having been previously appointed to be held at the town-ball on Thursday the 12th of December, the hall was crowded at an early hour. About half past eleven Lord Hardwicke entered it, and, on the motion of Lord Francis Osborne, seconded by Dr. Jowett, was unanimously called to the chair. His Lordship opened the business of the day, by stating, that he had not attended the meeting from any consideration of his official situation, either in the university or the county; but he was happy to meet his friends and neighbours as a Cambridgeshire gentleman, to promote so beneficial an object. He had in. deed but lately examined with attention the statements respecting the Bible Society; but they had produced in his own mind such conviction, that he had felt equal surprize and regret, when he found that a contrary opinion was held by some individuals, and particularly by one”, for whose literary attainments he had the highest respect, and whose society he had never enjoyed * Dr. Marsh. Chaist. Observ, Apr.

without deriving instruction from his conversation. He was glad that individual was not present, that there might be nothing but harmony and unanimity in the meeting. His Lordship stated, that during the earlier period of the Bible Society, his official duties had called him to Ireland, where, as he was happy to state from his own knowledge, many respectable Roman Catholic clergymen were anxious to distribute the Bible. His Lordship next adverted to Dr. Buchanan's Christian Researches in the East, where we had so ample a field for the exercise of benevolence, particularly among the Syrian Christians. The EARL of HARDwicke then read the following extract of a letter, dated December 9, addressed by his Royal Highness the Duke of GloucEsteh to the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Bristol: “As I am a warm friend of the • British and Foreign Bible Society;” as l am anxious to see the Auxiliary Society established, being convinced that this institution, so far from being injurious to the Established Church, must be of essential utility to it, I cannot refuse offering a donation; and if at the meeting it should be proposed to make me the President of the Auxiliary Bible Society, I could not certainly decline such a propo which must be considered 5 M

as a flattering distinction. I have now to request of your Lordship to have the goodness to state to the meeting the impossibility of my being present, but to convey the assurance of the warm interest I take in the success of the Auxiliary Bible Society, and to mention my intention of sending a donation of fifty guineas to the institution.” His Lordship concluded by stating, that he should not expatiate farther on the objects of the Bible Society, which the secretaries from the parent society, who had favoured the meeting with their presence, were so much more able to explain. Lord FRANcis Osboang then rose, and observed to the meeting, that he entirely concurred in the sentiments of the noble Earl, except in one part. He wished that all who object to this society were present, particularly the learned professor alluded to. He would not pretend to place himself on a level with that gentleman, either in natural endowments or literary attainments; but on this point he should have no fear fully to meet his objections, to which a complete answer might be given even by a child, provided only that child were a Christian. He concluded by stating, that he should have the honour of moving certain resolutions, as the basis of the Cambridge Auxiliary Society, and requested, that previously to his doing this, the Secretaries of the parent society, who were then present, would favour the audience with their observations. Rev. Mr. Owen of Fulham then came forward, and submitted to the meeting a few preparatory considerations, as necessary to clear away the rubbish thrown up, by hands which might, he thought, have been better employed, against that noble edifice which had been erected for the spiritual benefit of all nations by the British and Foreign Bible Society. Mr. Owen thought it material to observe, that the tastitution on behalf of which he appeared, was Purely voluntary, and therefore not to be compared, as to the extent of

its ecclesiastical patronage, with a society which, from the nature and object of its constitution, laid a sort of imperative claim for patronage on the rulers of the established church.-lt was, further, an institution which had but one, and that an accurately predefined object, the circulation of the authorised Bible without note or comment. It was not, therefore, fair to identify it with a society which had a variety of objects. Inasmuch as it distributes precisely the same Bible as the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, it should be considered as so far friendly and auxiliary to that society: and inasmuch as it distributes nothing more, it cannot

justly be considered as either super

seding or designed to supersede the uses of that society. It is also a society actually in existence and operation. We do not (said Mr. Owen) appear before you with a project for creating a society; but with an institution which has had the trial of nearly eight years, and that on a scale of prodigious extent. It was, therefore, in the power of every one to determine by a reserence to experience, whether the principles on which the society was founded were such as could be safely and beneficially reduced to prac: tice; and also to make up his mind whether an instrument of such magnitude, excellence, and popularity, should be shut out from the superintendence and co-operation of our established church. Mr. Owen submitted, that the age of a society was not the best criterion of its value. So much stress had been laid on this circumstance, by some injudicious advocates of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, that they seemed to prize its grey hairs more than its Christian fruits. For his own part, he thought a society might be considered as old enough for all the purposes of respectability, if it could be show". that it had accomplished, in fe" than eight years, the work of a century. After many other Po

tinent observations, Mr. Owen concluded an argumentative speech by -representing not barely the population of the united kingdom, but that of the whole world, as interested, to a certain degree, in the business of this day; and by reminding the assembly, that in aiding this glorious cause by the establishment of an Auxiliary Society, in so important and commanding a station, they would render themselves benefactors, in no common degree, to men of every nation under heaven. Rev. Mr. Steinkopff, foreign secretary, apologizing for the difficulties under which he laboured as a foreigner, said he would venture to plead the cause of humanity in a language to which he was almost a stranger; but he hoped to be heard with that candour which he had always found so highly characteristic -of the British nation. He then proceeded, with great simplicity and eloquence, to set forth time advantages already experienced abroad by the establishment of the Bible Society; and described, in most attecting terms, the gratitude expressed by the inhabitants of very remote regions, for the blessings communicated to them from this land of piety and benevolence. He instanced the tribes of Finlanders and Laplanders, who, from their comfortless abodes in regions beyond the Arctic, had been allured to the north of the Gulph of Bothnia by the contributions made to them from the Auxiliary Bible Society of Stockholm, which, as a grateful tribute to the sorrows of an injured monarch, it should be recollected, had been established by the unfortunate Gustavus. By means of it, the blessed light of the Gospel had been carried even to the shores of the Icy Sea, among a people who, in addition to the chilling horrors of their frozen and barren territory, were further subdued by the most lamentable mental darkness; and so eager were they for the possession of the longpromised gift, that for a single copy of the Bible they had been found

to have undertaken and accomplished the most surprising journies. Was not this a subject for the most delightful meditation ? Was there a single inhabitant of Great Britain who would not feel his bosom warmed, in the reflection that his country had been the means of conveying the cheering beams of revelation to the cold and gloomy dwelling of the poor Laplander Nor was it only to those distant realms that the exertions of the Auxiliary Bible Society of Stockholm had been extended. It had been found upon inquiry, that near the very seat of the Swedish government, there were thousands of Swedes without the possession of a single copy of the Bible. And then, adverting to the state of Germany, his native country, he begged leave, in the name of every German, to offer the expressions of his gratitude for the acts of beneficence which the London Society had extended to them. Such was, he said, the want of Bibles throughout all Germany, with the exception of Saxony alone, that he scarce knew a part of Europe which called more for the notice it had received. The love he bore his own country, he said, called for the grateful acknowledgment, that the Gospel of Peace had already been printed in the German language; and that the Old Testament was also printing. Many of the former had been distributed among the German soldiers in the British service, who are now tighting the battles of England and of Europe. And who could have the heart to deny to a wounded soldier the consolation of a Bible “ Recollect, gentlemen,” said he, “that in the instant when I am addressingyou, thousands and tens of thousands are lifting up their hands and hearts to God for the preservation of England;—thousands whose uames En

[blocks in formation]

*ngs to all the inhabitants of Great Britain—to its amiable, but deeply afflicted Sovereign in particular; to the Prince Regent, and all the members of the Royal Family; to the Chancellor, and the members of this university; to those especially, who with such gladness and unanimity, such liberal zeal and distinguished piety, have here met together to communicate to others the blessings they themselves enjoy, and to magnify the name of the Lord. Rev. Mr. Hughes expressed himself much indebted for the manner in which the meeting had intimated a willingness to hear him. At the same time, he was sensible that nothing but the office he sustained in the British and Foreign Bible Society could have authorised him to address them. The force of truth, he trusted, would uphold him. And he recollected that his countrymen were generous; and with regard to his deficiencies, he was persuaded that their injurious tendency would be lost in the excellence and splendour of more able advocates. “The founders, and early promoters of the British and Foreign Bible Society,” he observed, “ have uniformly wished, and now they wish more than ever, to obtain for it the most extensive publicity. For they were confident not only that the principle on which it rested was an impregnable rock, but that, the more keenly the institution with all its bearings was examined, the more entirely would it approve itself to the judgment, and endear itself to the breast of every pious, candid, and benevolent man. What project indeed could be so free from blame, and so fully entitled to universal encouragement, as the simple, the humane, the sacred, the grand project to exhibit the Scriptures in all the languages of the earth ! “The object, the sole object of the society, is, to encourage a wider circulation of the holy Scriptures. Hence it neither establishes schools, nor distributes tracts, nor employs the ministry of the Gospel. }.

[ocr errors]

members individually do what they please; but in their collective capacity they are restricted, and can do." only what has just been specified. The holy Scriptures, as circulated by the society, appear without a single line of exposition. So far have the Committee thought it expedient to exemplify a scrupulous adherence to this principle, that, when a Mohawk chief, a gentieman of high respectability, then resident in England, presented them with a translation of St. John's Gospel, observing a brief preface, intended to recommend the perusal of the book, they cancelled the leaf which contained that preface, and sent forth the Evangelist without even a word of encomium. At another time, the Committee were informed that a respectable society of Christians in the north of Europe had published a harmony of the Gospels, but that they needed pecuniary assistance in order to defray the expense they had thus incurred. This was felt to be a trying case;

, the Committee, however, conceiving

that the circulation of a harmony would ill accord, if not with the letter, at least with the spirit of their laws, denied their own feelings by refusing the request of their foreign brethren. The only copies in the languages of the United Kingdom to be circulated by the society, are those in the authorised versions. These languages are five.—In the Irish, the Committee have re-published the New Testament in the ancient and approved version of Bishop Bedell. In the language of the Isle of Man, they have adhered to the standard version recognised by the venerable Society for promoting Christian Knowledge. In the Gaelic language, they have adopted the version sanctioned by the ecclesiastical authorities of Scotland. With regard to the English and Welsh languages, the law of the land places them under that direction which leaves the society no power, except that of purchasing the copies they may have occasion

to distribute. The foreign versions patronized by the society are those made by Protestants, and considered As possessing the highest authority. This principle will be kept in view as much as possible in the sanction afforded to the new versions, or rather, the only versions now so rapidly advancing in the Asiatic languages. I need say nothing in vindication; your minds will suggest much in praise, of the society's wish and endeavours to extend its influence through all countries, whether Christian, Mahometan, or Pagan ; for Compassion can never pause till she have terminated her sublime career in the remotest regions of the globe, and in the everlasting felicity of her objects. “How shall the British and Foreign Bible Society attain the end of its establishment; that is, so far attain it as to preserve its abettors from the charge of mingling, with philanthrophy, a wild extravagance; the extravagance involved in aiming at a vast result, when the ineans are pitiably slender? Surely by the combination of all the resources and energies that can be secured. My Lord and Gentlemen, all those resources are too small, and all those energies too feeble for our purpose. They will enable us to go forward, they will accomplish what our fathers did not anticipate as the achievement of the present age; but they will leave an immense field to be cultivated by our posterity. Let all then who assume the Christian name, embark in this truly Christian cause. True it is, that any person may become a member by the annual subscription of a guinea; and therefore the society may be expected to include men whose opinions on subjects of awful moment are diametrically opposite to each other. Will this be urged as an objection ? What then is its operation? The Scriptures, it may be alleged, may be conveyed by the hands of a fanatic, a heretic, a deceiver. We allow it; and it were devoutly to be wished that such hands were never

employed in worse work. These suspicious agents are either occupied in other pursuits, and shew but little of the partisan; or they have leisure, and they glow with unhallowed zeal. Agents of the former class can scarcely awaken our alarm. And what have we to apprehend from agents of the latter class? Perhaps they will take the pains to travel among the poor, and, as often as they presenta Bible, drop some mischievous surmise against sound doctrine. But the memories of those whom they address may prove treacherous; and as for the poison distilled, it is accompanied, accouding to the supposition, with the Bible, which is its antidote. These suspicious agents may disperse tracts wherever they disperse Bibles; and these tracts may teem with mischievous errors. We are sorry for it. Yet, as smaller donations would probably be presented in much greater numbers, were the larger withheld, it seems sufficient to reply, that it is better for a man to possess a Bible with an ill-principled tract, than to possess an ill-principled tract without a Bible. “The union of parties, instead of rendering the character of the society doubtful, is a strong guarantee for the correctness of its proceedings. For as, when Christians of the early centuries deviated from each other into separate churches, their very jealousies and animosities contributed to the preservation of the sacred text in its pure unsophisticated state; so the parties associated in the British and Foreign Bible Society have a common interest in the support of its constitution ; and while that constitution lasts, the uncontaminated stream of life will flow, a blessing to all nations. Such a society tends only to the happiness of man, and employs no instrument except that which all Christians profess gratefully to accept as a gift from Heaven. That many other societies deserve encouragement, who ever questioned We adduce no charge against them : we institute no unge

« AnteriorContinuar »