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FROM the vast regions of the East, we now turn our eyes to the new world in the West, the discovery of which has had such an important influence on the affairs of Europe, and which has proved, in the hand of God, the means of extending 50 widely the glorious Gospel of his Son Evangelized as a portion of America is, multitudes of its inbabitants remain in the grossest darkness. Endeavours to enlighten the Indians in North America, appear to be the appropriate province of our Anglo-American brethren, who, in the United States, have zealously associated themselves in Missionary societies, and whose endeavours, we earnestly hope, will be crowned with the richest success. But it is to the poor Africans, in a state of slavery, that this Society has for several years past directed their principal attention, and, blessed be God, not without success. In the detail of the proceedings we begin with
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British and Foreign Bible Society, 1811. YOUR Committee have now to report to the Members of the British and Foreign Bible Society, their proceedings during the seventh year of its institution. Adopting the same course of arrangement which has been observed in former Reports, as best calculated to connect the transactions of successive years, your Committee, under the general head of Foreign Connexions, will first advert to the information received from the continent of Europe.
Under this head, they have the satisfaction to report the completion of the Polish Bible. This event is announced in a letter from the Bible Society at Berlin, dated the 14th of last October. The notifioation is accompanied with the warmest thanks of the Berlin Society to the Parent Institution, for its very liberal contributions in aid of this sacred work, together with nine copies of the Polish Scriptures, as the first fruits of the labours of that Socie. ty in the Polish vineyard. The whole expense of printing 8000 Polish Bibles, and 4000 extra copies of the New Testament, amounted about to 16001. to which the British and Foreigo Bible Society contributed 9601 : and for this sum, the inhabitants of Poland have received a gift of inestimable value, which, in the present situation of affairs, they had no prospect of obtaining bg any other means.
The Report of last year stated the recommendation of your Committee to the Bible Society at Berlin, to form a committee at Konigsberg, for the espress purpose of printing a Bible in the Lithuanian language, and the premise of aseisting the execution of that work, by a donation of sool.
The recommendation was readily adopted; but the Konigsberg Committee, in despair of obtaining from a country impoverished by war, the additional funds required for printing a Lithuanian Bible, hesitated to enter on the im. mediate commencement of an undertaking which they saw no prospect of being able to complete.
Under these cireumstances, they addressed your Committee ; stating at the same time, that among the Lithuanian peasants there were numbers who earnestly sought the salvation of their souls. They therefore pathetically. implored the further assistance of the British and Foreign Bible Society.
An appeal of this nature could not be resisted. It was, therefore, deter. mined to furnish the Konigsberg Committee with the further sum of 2007. The letter informing them of this additional grant, arrived at a most seasonable period, and determined them immediately to proceed to the printing of 3000 copies of the Lithuanian Bible. The desire of obtaining it is so great, that no less than 1500 copies have already been subscribed for.
· The correspondence of your Committee with the German Bible Society, at Basle, during the last year, is restricted to a single letter, dated in October, 1810. After expressing the most grateful acknowledgments for the li. beral assistance of the British and Foreign Bible Society, it communicates the following interesting intelligence :
That the subscriptions opened for the purpose of a gratuitous distribution of Bibles and Testaments, not only continúe, but increase ; that hence the German Bible Society has been enabled to distribute, from year to year, many hundred Bibles and New Testaments; and that the French Bible, the printing of which was assisted by a grant of 3001. from the British and Foreign Bible Society, is almost finished.
Your Committee have accommodated the German Bible Society with an additional donation of 2001. for the purpose of printing an Italian New Testament. This measure was adopted in consequence of a desire expressed by that Society to convert the sum of 2001. originally voted for the Old Testament in the Romanese dialect, to the purpose of printing an Italian Ney Testament, as more immediately wanted. Your Committee, anxious to secure the accomplishment of the latter of these objects, without superseding the former, resolved to furnish the additional grant of 2001. as above describe ed; and thus both works, it is hoped, will proceed without obstruction or delay.
The Members of the Society will recollect the intimation expressed in the second and third Annual Reports, of an intention to promote an edition of the Scriptures in the languages of Esthonia and Livonia, part of the Russian dominions.
Your Committee most sincerely regret, that the execution of this design has been retarded by unavoidable impediments; as the state of the poor in those provinces, with respect to religious knowledge, and the means of acquring it, seems truly deplorable.
Without detailing all the information which has been received on this sub•ject, it will be sufficient to state the following circumstances, on the authority of a correspondent and native, well acquainted with the two provinces in question.
The poverty of the lower classes is extreme; many of the peasants are ignorant even of the existence of the Bible ; at all events, from its price and scarcity, it is unattainable by them ; not one family in a hundred possesses a copy; and there are four HUNDRED THOUSAND FAMILIES in Esthonia and Livonia absolutely without a Bible. It appears also, that, for the last forty years, almost every individual in Esthonia and Livonia has been taught to read ; and that there are many respectable and benevolent persons, both
Vol. IV.--No. XI.
among the clergy and laity, who are anxious for the religions improvement of their countrymen, and from whom an active co-operation may be ex. pected.
Under all these circumstances, your Committee have earnestly recomamended the formation, (if practicable,) of a Livonian Bible Society. And deeply feeling the pressing wants of so many thousand poor in those parts, they have determined immediately to transmit the sum of 6001. for the pur pose of printing 10,000 Testaments in the Lettonian and Esthonian dialects.
The liberal and well-timed assistance furnished to“ the Evangelical Society” at Stockholm, for the purpose of enabling them to print the Swedish Scriptures on standing types, has had the most beneficial influence all over the country, as will appear from the printed Report of that Society, which has been recently received. This Report, which contains highly interesting facts and observations, will be communicated in the Appendix. Suffice it, therefore, in this place to state, that the Stockholm Society proceeds with the greatest zeal and activity ; that it has already printed three editions of the Swedish Testament, to the amount of 10,600 copies; that a fourth edi. tion of the same is in the press; that the printing of 5,000 copies of the whole Swedish Bible is considerably advanced ; and that the demands for the Swed. ish Scriptures, from all quarters, are much greater than can be satisfied, and are daily increasing.
Your Committee, in their last Report, stated, that they had arailed them. selves of the assistance of the Society above-mentioned, to print the New Testament in the language of Lapland ; they have now the pleasure to an. nounce the progress of this work, and the prospect of an early completion of it. From the information of their correspondent, it appears, that half of it was firished in November last ; and a hope was entertained, that the whole yould be finished in time to allow of copies being forwarded to Lapland in the course of the spring.
· The printing of the Icelandic Bible, as noticed in the fourth Report, ha been retarded by various unforeseen impediments : your Committee, however, have reason to believe, that these impediments have been, in a great measure, removed ; and that this important work has either been actually commenced, or will be very speedily undertaken.
The printing of the Turkish Testament at Karass, according to information, dated from Moscow, in August last, appears then to have advanced as far as to the end of the Acts of the Apostles.
Your Committee will next solicit the attention of the Members of the Society to the extensive operations carrying on in India, with a view to the cir. culation of the Holy Scriptures ; premising, that the information now detailed is derived from the half-yearly Reports of the Corresponding Committee in Caleutta, and the letters annexed to them.
It may be generally observed, that the various translations are all proceed. ing with great spirit and energy; and that the accuracy of these versions is considered by the Calcutta Committee, a point of the first importance ; that a spirit of harmony prevails among the translators; and that, in the course of a few years, there will be editions of the Scriptures in various Oriental languages. Among these, the Tamul, Malay, Sanscrit, Bengalee, Orissa, Seek, Hindoostanee, Mahratta, are already printed, or in the press.
The Arabic, Persian, Telinga, Malayalim, Burman, Carnatica, and several otlier dialects, to be hereafter enumerated, together with the Chinese, are preparing ; and the printing of some of them is begun.
With a view to general and harmonious co-operation in the translation and publication of the Holy Scriptures, the Corresponding Committee at Calcutta havo entered into a regular and encouraging intercourse with the strera!
ministers and others engaged in this work, throughout the different stations in Iodia.
They have also adopted a measure, which appears exceedingly well calcu. lated to facilitate the great object of their labours, the establishment of a BIBLIOTHECA BIBLICA, consisting of a Bible Repository, together with a Library for the use of translators, under the auspices of the British and Fo. reign Bible Society, and their own immediate superintendance.
The Repository is intended to contain Bibles and Testaments for general accommodation, in all languages, both European and Asiatic, to be disposed of by sale at moderate prices. The importance of such an institution, as it respects not only India, but other parts of the world, may be estimated by the consideration, that the port of Calcutta is the annual resort of multitudes from all quarters, for the purposes of trade; of Arminian Greeks, from the Archipelago ; Arabians, Jews, Turks, and Malays; “ some of almost every nation under heaven.” To many of these, a copy of the Scriptures may prove an invaluable treasure, and by these means copies may be introduced into their respective countries.
The Library is to consist of the original Scriptures, Lexicons, Grammars, Works on Biblical Criticism, and, in general, all such books as tend to facilitate and perfect the labours of translators.
Your Committee, impressed with a deep sense of the great utility of this Institution, in both its branches, have assisted its establishment, by procaring and consigning to the Corresponding Committee at Calcutta, editions of the Scriptures in various languages, for sale, as well as a copious supply of books for the sole use of the translators. The latter, (among which is a valuable copy of Walton's Polyglott, presented by Thomas Hammersley, Esq.) of course, are not to be sold, but to be considered as the exclusive property of .the British and Foreign Bible Society, and as merely lent for the purpose specified.
The institution of the Bibliotheca Biblica has received very general en, couragement in India. Four thousand volumes of the Scriptures, or parts of them, have been collected in the following languages; English, Portuguese, Arabic, Persian, Hindoostanee, Sanscrit, Mahratta, Orissa, Bengalee, and Chinese ; and are now exposed to sale. A liberal subscription has been rais. ed for that branch of it which is intended for the use of translators; and it has made a still more important acquisition of useful and valuable books in presents from individuals.
Yonr Committee have further the satisfaction to add, that the plan of the Bibliotheca Biblica, as far as regards the circulation of the Scriptures, having been communicated to the several Chaplains under the Presidency of Fort William, in Bengal, has received their unanimous approbation, and a promise of cordial co-operation on their parts. It appears also, that donations have been received from the different military stations.
Of the Tamul Translation it may be observed, that it was executed and revised by the most able scholars, and is entitled to the highest praise for the correctness of its version, and the accuracy of its printing. The Telinga Translation is advanced to the end of the first Epistle to the Corinthians; and although your Committee have to express their deep concern at the death of Mr. Desgranges, who inspected and revised the labours of Anande. rayer, they have the satisfaction to add, that, previous to his death, he had procured two able assistants, by whom the work of revision will be continued.
The Corresponding Committee in Calcutta, having learnt, that, among twelve thousand native Protestant Christians, belonging to the Tanjore Mission, none, the native teachers excepted, possessed the Old Testament, and pot above qae in two or three hundred the New, exerted themselves with
żeal to supply the deficiency. They had the satisfaction to learn, that several copies of the Tamul Scriptures might be procured from the Tranquebar and Vepery Missionaries; but, as the funds remaining in their possession were inadequate to the purchase of them, an appeal was made to the publie in Calcutta ; and the members of the Society will participate the gratification of their Committee, in being informed, that a sum exceeding 10001. was raised by subscription, on account of the British and Foreiga Bible Society, for the purpose of distributing the Tamul Scriptures in Tanjore.
The Corresponding Committee, in consequence, have been enabled to purchase 500 Old and 400 New Testaments, together with 300 copies of the Psalms in the Tamul dialect, being all that could be obtained. They have also purchased 150 New and 200 Old Testaments, in Portuguese, for the xcommodation both of Portuguese Protestants and Roman Catholie priesta, and private Christians, many of whom are no longer averse to receive them.
Your Committee cannot omit stating, respecting the Tamul Seriptures, that the inquiries of the British and Foreign Bible Society, concerning an edi. tion of the Scriptures in that dialect, first led to the knowledge of this want.
In connexion with this part of the subject, your Committee have fur. ther to add, that in consequence of a representation that a supply of the Ta mul Scriptures could not be obtained in India, adequate to the demand for them, they have procured and dispatched, on account of the Society, a printing press and a fount of Tamul types, with a considerable supply of paper, for printing the Seriptures in that dialect.
Your Committee have also the satisfaction to lay before the Members of the Society, a prospect of a still more ample diffusion of the Holy Seriptures, in various eastern dialects which have not been enumerated, and in which they have never appeared. Dr. Leyden, whose extensive knowledge of these dialects is unrivalled, has submitted to the Corresponding Committee of Cal. autta proposals for procuring versions in the following languages: the Sia. mese, Macassar, Bugis, Afghan, Rakheng, Maldivian, and Jagatai ; comprehending the colloquial dialects in use, from the eastern boundary of Bengal to the Islands of Borneo and Celebes, inclusive. The expense of translating the four Gospels into each of these dialects, is estimated at about 800 rupees; and the Corresponding Committee, anxious to take advantage of Dr. Ley. den's proposal, expressed their approbation of it, and agreed to pay the sum of 200 rupees on receiving a copy of each Gospel in any of the dialects endmerated. This engagement has been fulfilled with respect to four of the proposed versions; that of the Gospel of St. Matthew having been completed in the Pushto or Afghan dialect, and the Maldivian, excepting the two last chapters, together with versions of the Gospel of St. Mark, in the Bagis and Macassar.
As a very considerable part of the expense attending the printing of the JIoly Seriptures in India, arises from the excessive dearness of paper there : your Committee have therefore judged it expedient to provide against any
annecessary expenditure in this article, by sending very large supplies of paper to those parts of India where it will be required. A considerable quanti. iy has been consigned to Bombay, for printing the New Testament in the MI:Jayalim language at that settlement. This work is considerably advanced, (a printed copy of the Gospel of St. Matthew having been laid before your Committee,) and the completion of it is anxiously expected by the members of the ancient Syrian church.
it may be mentioned as a singular and not uninteresting circumstance, that a native of India, and a llindoo, has subscribed 100 rupees to the funds of the Society, and has addressed a letter to your Committee, acquainting them with it.