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all-sufficient patronage; and this, if vouchsafed, will countervail all other deficiencies, and secure its eventual success. It is by no means, indeed, uncommon for God to begin a good and even great work in this manner; according to the prophecy concerning the restoration of Israel, " The "Lord shall save the tents of Judah^nsf, that the "glory of the house of David, and the glory of the "inhabitants of Jerusalem, do not magnify them"selves against Judah." I hope what is here stated will not be understood, as implying that the Society would not thankfully and respectfully receive the countenance and patronage of the Nobility, Gentry, or superior Clergy, in the vicinity, if it could be attained; but hitherto all our applications have met with a discouraging reception.
The attempt was indeed encouraged by a sort of confidence in the effects of religious instruction, which, in many of the neighbouring places, has long been given; and by a persuasion that the judgment and heart of the people, as to the blessed book whence that institution was deduced, would effectually influence the concurrence of numbers. If the Bible was indeed your treasure, your solace, the ground of your hope, the light of your path, the joy of your heart, the guide of your youth, or the support and comfort of your old age, and in the near prospect of death; we are assured you would gladly concur in a design of rendering its invaluable contents more generally known in the neighbourhood, and indeed to the ends of the earth, and would be induced to use every active exertion, and to afford a liberal contribution, according to your circumstances, for that purpose: that "the "abundance of your joy and your deep poverty, "would abound to the riches of your liberality." I trust the Society will also be blessed to invigorate and extend these principles and desires, and, in proportion, to render them more abundantly and durably effectual.
It would be vain in me to attempt, on this occasion, to enumerate the various and most important advantages resulting from the Parent Society and its extensive efforts; and from every one of its active assistant Societies, in their several circles.— You have heard to what a degree even the effects of war itself have been by its means mitigated, and converted into an occasion and an opportunity of attempting "to overcome evil with good." It also unites the most distant and discordant nations in one bond of union, and opens an intercourse between them, far more benign and salutary than can result from the most honourable and equitable commerce. It brings the several parts of the Christian church, in many nations, to act in concert in one grand design; and, by the correspondence thus carried on, and the mutual assistance afforded, and the many prayers and thanksgivings offered for each other, to unite them, far more nearly than before, in love and communion, and a lively interest in each others' welfare. In this our land, the British and Foreign Bible Society forms one central spot, in which the ministers and members of the established church, and all the different descriptions of dissenters, may meet on friendly ground and combine in one work of exalted piety and philanthropy, without giving up one tittle of their respective sentiments; and so learn to love, and bear with, and help one another: thus softening also the deplored asperities of religious controversy. The design brings rich and poor, young and old, together, as concurring in the same great and good work; while it also, at the very time, reciprocally reminds them of their several duties towards each other, and excites each in his place to practice them with increased love and cordiality. It expands the understanding, even of the most unlettered, to those views of the state of the human race at large, respecting the grand concerns of religion, which in other circumstances few even of the learned attain to; and it excites an interest in the heart, "a good will to man," tending powerfully to universal benefit.
In every place where Auxiliary Societies are formed, they greatly excite the poor to learn to read the book thus circulated among them, and parents to get their children taught to read; and this stimulates their superiors to furnish them with the means of accomplishing it. Even the poorest, and children also, are thus excited to a salutary hope of rendering themselves useful, as well as receiving good from others ; and this proves a happy remedy to those low pursuits, and that mischievous indolence, which generally in other cases occupy their leisure hours. Like the bee-hive to the bees, the Society in the neighbourhood is a repository in which to place to good purpose those trifling sums, which children and young persons-so generally waste in things useless, if not pernicious; but which, (like the particles of honey in the hive,) when thus collected, form a useful store. Thus * they learn to 'save, not in order to hoard, but in order to give,'1 and a more important lesson can hardly be inculcated.—Thus also the delightful idea is excited that by subscribing to a Bible Society, or Association, I can both procure a copy of that blessed book for myself, and with the same sum of money, gradually advanced, which would purchase one at a shop, I can also give a Bible to some unknown fellow creature "perishing for lack of knowledge," which may be the means of his eternal salvation. This especially recommends the Penny Associations.
The Magistrates already, in many districts of this land, bear unequivocal testimony to the beneficial effects of these Societies on the morals of the people, and I cannot but hope that ere long prevention, from concurring causes, and the influence of different Societies, will render crimes and punishments much less frequent, and our internal peace and security more stable, than has hitherto been the case in any age.
The formation, and proper conduct of an Auxiliary Society in any neighbourhood, soon bring the state of the villages in that neighbourhood into notice, and make way for the supply of those wants which before were unknown and unsuspected. And nothing can so powerfully aid the inhabitants of any place favoured with scriptural instructions, in appreciating the value of their privileges, and de riving full benefit from them, as the circulation and reading of the scriptures: nothing can so much strengthen the hands and encourage the heart of the faithful minister of Christ. On the other hand, if indeed any places have only indolent or heretical ministers, what can so effectually make up the deficiencies of the former, or counteract the poison of the latter, as the reading of the holy scriptures themselves? At the same time, the whole process tends to lessen the number of persons, who in most towns and villages are more numerous than the regular attendants either at church or meeting, the absenters; and who are wholly out of the way of obtaining good to their souls.
But time fails, and the subject is inexhaustible. Go on my friends and prosper. With much inconvenience and even danger I have met you to day—probably for the last time: but I trust you will remember my words when I can myself no longer speak to you.
4 The times are indeed hard, very hard ; and many of you are little able to give, even what once you could and would have done. But remember that the Society itself was, so to speak, born and educated in "troublous times," and is inured to hardship, and to labour and prosper amidst great difficulties. Do then what you can; retrench every superfluity, if you have any, rather than not concur with your little help ; and trust Providence to make up what you thus expend.—The husbandman, even if very poor, would rather stint himself and his family in food than not have seed to sow on his land, as this alone promises an increase. So be you sure to spare a little seed corn in this respect also: the ground on which you sow it will prove fertile, and the increase will be sure and plenteous.
Hut we want your active services and exertions, |oji. vi. o