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directed attention to the Rev. Josiah Pratt, B.D., Secretary to the Church Missionary Society, at that time present. To this the Committee acceded; and the Rev. Josiah Pratt and the Rev. Joseph Hughes were appointed Secretaries accordingly.”
Mr. William Alers then “ arose and observed, that serious deficiency still remained to be supplied. Provision had, he said, been made for the establishment and the dissenters, but none for the foreign churches. He, therefore, recommended, that another office should be created, that of Foreign Secretary; and that it should be conferred on a gentleman who had already manifested his disposition and his ability to serve the Society—the Rev. Mr. Steinkopff. On the proposal as it respected both the office and the individual, there was but one opinion; and the result was, that the Rev. Mr. Steinkopff was added to the number of the Secretaries."*
Though the number of the Directors had been fixed, their qualifications were not defined; and “ they were chosen, therefore, from the Episcopal Clergy, Dissenting Ministers and the Laity at large. But it was “ determined, that the Committee should consist exclusively of laymen; that of thirty-six members, to which number it was limited, six should be föreigners, resident in, or near the Metropolis ; and of the remaining thirty, one-half should be members of the Established Church, and the other half members of other Christian denominations. In order, however, to secure the services of the clergy and of
* Owen's History of the First Ten Years of the Bible Society. Vol. I. pp. 53, 55
the ministers generally, provision was made for their admission to a seat and a vote in the Committee, on the terms which made them members of the Society; provision, which, while it conceded their names, recognised their privileges, and retained their co-operation. The merit of this plan belongs wholly to the Rev. Josiah Pratt."*
Mr. Pratt found it expedient to resign his secretariat; but he prevailed on the Rev. John Owen to undertake the office ; and these changes, including a revised plan of the Society, having been adopted by the Committee, a General Meeting of the subscribers and friends of the Institution was called for Wednesday, the 2nd of May. The Right Hon. Lord Teignmouth was invited to preside on the occasion, and he consented; but was prevented by ill-health. Granville Sharpe again presided ; when a report of the proceedings was adopted, and the cause nobly advocated by able friends, especially by William Wilberforce, Esq., M.P.
On the morning of May the 14th, Mr. Owen conferred with the Bishop of London, before attending the Committee on that day, when he mentioned the anxiety of the Directors to obtain a suitable patron. The Bishop recommended Lord Teignmouth, already a subscriber, as qualified to be “ an excellent President.” Mr. Owen proposed tothe Committee, that the Right Hon. Lord Teignmouth should be respectfully solicited to become the President of the Society; this was seconded by the Rev. Rowland Hill, M.A.,
* Owen's History of the First Ten Years of the Bible Society Vol. I. pp. 58, 59.
and carried. On the 16th, his Lordship signified his acceptance of the honour; and the Bishops of London and Durham, of Exeter, and of St. David's, accepted the appointment of Vice-Presidents, in June. In July were added the names of Sir W. Pepperell, Bart., Vice-Admiral, afterwards Lord Gambier, Charles Grant, Esq., M.P., and William Wilberforce, Esq., M.P. These, with Henry Thornton, Esq., Treasurer, determined the character and fixed the respectability of the Institution."*
It seems proper to record that the British and Foreign Bible Society was brought forth in the counting-house, Old Swan Stairs, Upper Thames Street, belonging to Joseph Hardcastle, Esq., Treasurer of the London Missionary Society, whose plans of benevolence, as well as of those of the Religious Tract Society, and the Hibernian Society, were formed in the same rooms, to bless the nations with the Gospel of Christ.
Considering the humble original, from which arose the vast fabric of the British and Foreign Bible Society; the comparative insignificance of those who laid its foundation and carried up its superstructure, until it attained that degree of strength, amplitude, and symmetry, which adapted it for the great purposes for which it was designed, we discern that manifest disproportion between the means and the end, which characterizes the great dispensations of the all-wise Creator, who is “ wonderful in counsel and excellent in working” in His gracious Provi
* Owen’s History of the First Ten Years of the Bible Society. Vol. I., pp. 67, 71.
dence. In tracing the history of the Bible Society, therefore, many have applied to it the language of the great apostle of the Gentiles :“God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are ; that no flesh should glory in his presence:” but “ he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Cor. i. 27, 28.)
The following are the honoured names of the first Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society : William Alers, Esq., Robert Howard, Esq., T. Babington, Esq., R. Lea, Esq., Alderman, Thomas Bernard, Esq., Zachary Macaulay, Esq., Joseph Benwell, Esq., A. Maitland, Esq., Wilson Birkbeck, Esq., Ambrose Martin, Esq., Henry Boase, Esq., Samuel Mills, Esq., Joseph Bunnell, Esq., Joseph Reyner, Esq., J. Butterworth, Esq., H. Schroeder, Esq., Robert Cowie, Esq., Granville Sharpe, Esq., Chas. Crawford, Esq., R. Stainforth, Esq., John Finn, Esq., Joseph Smith, Esq., Sebastian Fridag, Esq., James Stephen, Esq., Charles Grant, Esq., Robert Stephen, Esq., Claes Grill, Esq., C. Sundius, Esq., Jos. Hardcastle, Esq., Anthony Wagner, Esq., W. Henry Hoare, Esq., W. Wilberforce, Esq., Thomas Hodson, Esq., Joseph Wilson, Esq., Jno. Danl. Hose, Esq., George Wolff, Esq.*
* Owen's History of the First Ten Years of the Bible Society. Vol. I. p. 63.
FIRST DECADE OF THE BIBLE SOCIETY.
THE FIRST YEAR OF THE SOCIETY, 1804-1805.
ENTERING upon their responsible duties, the Committee began their labours, April 9th, by inquiries for the most ready and effectual means of obtaining a regular and competent supply of the Holy Scriptures in the English, Welsh and Irish languages. They directed Mr. Steinkopff to proceed with inquiries for the Society's object on the Continent of Europe. At the same time a letter was considered from Dr. Montucci, offering his services as editor of the Chinese translation of the New Testament, in manuscript in the British Museum. Sir G. Staunton and other Chinese scholars were consulted on the subject; and, though the offer was declined for the present, a China sub-committee was formed, afterwards called Oriental, to take charge of this department.
Considering the Baptist missionaries at Serampore, a Committee of correspondence was formed, July 23, 1804, consisting of “G. Udney, Esq., Member of Council, and the Rev. Messrs. Brown, Buchanan, Carey, Ward and Marshman,” with power to add other learned men in India to their number.
Printing from stereotype plates was now adopted