« AnteriorContinuar »
AMERICAN BIBLE SOCIETY REPORT, 1914
LL Societies and Institutions receiving this Annual Report are
respectfully requested to acknowledge the same by forwarding to the Secretaries of the American Bible Society, Bible House, Astor Place, New York, a copy of each of their reports or similar publications.
At the moment when the Annual Report goes to press the black shadow of war in its most dreadful phase overhangs the world. Almost without warning what has been so long dreaded, which men and nations dared to hope would never come, has befallen, and the great nations of Continental Europe are drawn one after another into the vortex. No one knows what will happen next or what the final outcome is to be. The words of the Prophet Joel seem strangely fulfilled: "A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness as the morning spread upon the mountains
there hath not been ever the like, nor shall be any more afterward even to the years of many generations." Mexico, and even the Balkan war, is for the time being almost forgotten in the new portent that has arisen in Western Europe. Christian nations in a death grapple! What a spectacle before the heathen! Mission work and religious activity must suffer grievous interruption on the immediate theater of war, and perhaps on a much wider area, for no one knows how widely the fire now kindled may burn. Bible work must of necessity suffer interruption, yet even here blessings will follow in the very furrows of the plowshare of war. The colporteur will not cease from the land, though his work may be difficult. The Bible Societies of Great Britain and the Continent will do their part. This Society has already received one appeal from Germany, and doubtless may expect others. These it may be difficult to meet on account of the interruption of the usual transportation facilities, but the best will be done that can be done to meet a necessity so extraordinary as that likely to be laid upon the great Bible-distributing agencies of the world.
Two of the principal Bible Societies on the Continent of Europe have just celeberated their Centennial Anniversaries—the Netherland Bible Society, with headquarters at Amsterdam, and the Berg Bible Society at Elberfeld in northern Germany.
The Rev. Dr. Leighton W. Eckard, who was about to visit Europe, was appointed to represent the American Bible Society. He reached Amsterdam too late for the public services, but was most cordially received, and bore appropriate greetings to the Netherland Society.
He then visited Elberfeld and was present at the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the Berg Society. As appears elsewhere in the report, there are eleven societies in Germany, and they have among them many hundred auxiliaries. They will doubtless be drawn upon heavily during the progress of the war.
Dr. William I. Haven, one of the Secretaries of the Society, was requested by the Board of Managers to visit the Far East, and made his arrangements to sail on a Japanese vessel, the “Shinyo Maru,” from San Francisco on August 15th to Yokohama. The possibility of interruption in his plan of travel was carefully considered by the Board of Managers at its August meeting, but the conclusion was reached that it would be wise for Dr. Haven to proceed in accordance with his plan to San Francisco, using his best judgment as to what should be done when he arrived there, but with the general expectation that he would go if the ship sailed. The steamship company postponed and then canceled the sailing. This, no doubt, was due to Japan's message to Germany and the consequences. Finally, at the last moment, however, August 24th, the “Shinyo Maru” sailed, with Dr. Haven aboard.
The preparations for the celebration of the Centennial Anniversary of the Society, in 1916, to which reference is made in the report of the Board of Managers (page 31), are proceeding satisfactorily. The Rev. Dr. Henry Otis Dwight has been detached from the ordinary service in order to prepare in ample season the History of the Society. Due announcement of this will be made later on. Various denominational bodies have taken action with reference to the Centennial, some of them appointing special committees to co-operate with the Society in its proper
observance. The Methodist Episcopal Churches, the Presbyterian group of Churches, the Congregational Churches, and the Protestant Episcopal Church, are among those which have taken the matter under consideration, several of them appointing committees.
Speaking of the approaching Centennial, we cannot avoid the wish that American Christians might realize how greatly the responsibil
ities have increased, to bear which the fathers called the American Bible Society into existence ninety-eight years ago. We may leave out of this account the ever-expanding and blessed work of the Society in foreign lands, “indispensable to the success of all other foreign missionary societies."
In the home land in 1816, dread of a people left to build up the territories of the West without the Bible impassioned the appeals of the fathers of our churches for the formation of a National Bible Society. At that time the population of the United States was a little less than nine millions. The American Bible Society was founded in order to supply the poor of this population and those who could not otherwise have the Bible. At its fiftieth anniversary (1866), the Society decided to make for the third time a general supply, so that no family in the country willing to read the Bible should be destitute of it. It was an enormous undertaking, for the population had quadrupled, then numbering thirty-seven million souls.
Since 1866 the population has almost tripled. If, in the United States, any section of the one hundred millions of its people should be left without opportunity to obtain the Bible in whatever language may be its vernacular, the American Bible Society would be deemed guilty of neglect of duty.
Yet the burden of supplying these vast needs cannot be borne unless the churches furnish the money that must be used in this great enterprise. Even in the twentieth century the Israelites could not make bricks without straw. The gifts of the living to the Society in its fiftieth year, that is to say in 1866, the gifts from churches, from auxiliary societies, and from individuals, amounted to $146,633. In the ninety-eighth year of the Society, to supply the poor of a population almost three times as great, the gifts of the living from the same three sources amounted to only $129,806.
ļo the Christians of America whose fathers called the Society into being the Board of Managers might justly say, as Moses unjustly said to the Lord : “Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant ? And wherefore have I not found favor in thy sight that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?" It is evident that American Christians need to note the enormous increase of our population, and to be thrilled with the foreboding which the fathers felt in view of the possibility of this nation growing up without the Bible.
The maps which accompany the report will enable its readers to follow it more easily, and appreciate the scope and character of the operations of the Society. It should be borne in mind that such maps are not scientific delimitation of frontiers. The exact boundaries of the various agencies cannot always be marked on such maps. The work done by colporteurs fluctuates somewhat, and its extent varies from time to time. In some cases, as for instance in Brazil, understandings with other societies as to the territory to be covered are of such a nature that on a small map it would be difficult to indicate them. The maps have been carefully made by a responsible firm especially for the Society, and the indication of the seat of the agency which is surrounded by a circle, and the general extent of the operations from this base, are indicated with enough definiteness to meet the purpose for which they are intended.
NINETY-EIGHTH ANNUAL REPORT
BOARD OF MANAGERS
NE would covet the leisure for such studies and reflections as would make it possible to write the history of the influence of the Bible upon the civilization of the world. In order to approach completeness such volumes
would have to provide for the addition of chapters annually. The report that we here present is the mere outline of such a chapter, for the American Bible Society is not alone in its great task of circulating the Scriptures among the peoples of the earth. Nor do the facts that arise in its work begin to cover the story of the effect upon nations and peoples of this wonderful Book. The fuller report that follows will give more in detail the record of the achievements of the last year. We are here privileged only to present a brief survey of the activities of the Society and the results during the year ending, in the Agencies, with the 31st of December, 1913, and in the administrative offices, at the Bible House, with the 31st of March, 1914.
The outstanding fact of the year is the remarkable increase in the issues of the Society. Both in the United States and in foreign lands there has been an unprece. dented call for the Scriptures issued by the Society.
ISSUES These issues are of two kinds—the books which the Society itself manufactures in the Bible House in New York City, with its own printing plant and bindery, together with those manufactured for it by establishments in foreign lands, notably at Constantinople, Beirut, Bangkok, Foochow, Shanghai, and Yokohama, and the Scriptures in foreign languages to meet the increasingly polyglot needs