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is, there can be, no question about the Bible Society, with those who really understand its design, and are free from the secret but fatal influence of prepossession and prejudice.
But I shall be reminded, that my particular motion respects the Committee of the Ladies' Societies. The simple plan of these excellent Committees is well known. It is merely to arrange the supply of the numerous poor, in our populous neighbourhoods, by the friendly visits of the benevolent Ladies resident in the vicinity. I cannot but avow my warm approbation of such a plan. To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, I always thought a duty of the female Christian; and to add to her other inquiries, the plain questions, 'Have you a Bible?'' Shall I assist you in obtaining one?" -is all that our Ladies' Institutions direct. Now I never could understand how it can be the duty of a female to make other benevolent inquiries, and yet not her duty to make the most benevolent. I never could comprehend why a line of demarcation is to be drawn just where eternity is joined with time, and temporal relief united with spiritual. If, indeed, cautions are thrown in as to the manner of conducting all this detail in the sub-operations of this vast society, I can understand them. Human infirmity must always require, and a wise and enlightened zeal will always rejoice,
in such cautions.
If additional reserve and
care, pushed even to scrupulousness, are enjoined, where the extreme delicacy of the female character, and the peculiar nature of its duties, are involved, I can readily acquiesce, and eagerly profit by the admonition. It is the same in all great and important measures. Humility, fear, dread of ostentation, simplicity, charity, self-renunciation, can never be too much enforced. The British and Foreign Bible Society has ever listened to the friendly voice of counsel. But all this is very different from hostility, indifference, misrepresentation, resentment. I would say, therefore, to the Ladies' Associations, as I would say to all our friends in all the branches of the Bible Society's proceedings, Go on; do the unspeakable good before you; but do it with as little attendant error and mistake as you can: guard every avenue to evil; receive every hint for improving your plans; but let not any incidental and accompanying infirmities deter you from conferring the main, solid, enduring, inestimable benefit, of giving to your fellow-creatures the inspired words of eternal salvation: direct, but do not extinguish your zeal; guard, but do not repress your love to your dying Saviour: and, above all, listen not to the wretched sophistry, which would exclude the affections of the heart from the very cause in which the ex
ercise of these affections is not only most legitimate, but most necessary and indispensablethe cause which directly concerns the glory of our Lord Christ, and the illumination and salvation of mankind.
Sir Claudius, I have done. My health is uncertain, and ought perhaps to have restrained me from appearing here to-day. But the last service that I could prevail on myself to decline would be, that which regards the universal distribution of the Holy Bible; which unites both worlds; which teaches us the love, and gratitude, and obedience we owe to our Saviour here, and which will prepare us for celebrating his praise in that eternal rest hereafter, which he has purchased for us by his own mysterious sacrifice on the cross.
A Prize Gssay,
THE THEATRE, OXFORD,
June 15, 1803.
Σοφίαν δὲ καὶ σωφροσύνην οὐ διώριζεν.
SENO. AПOMN. lib. iii. cap. 9. 4.