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THE NINETEENTH YEAR OF THE SOCIETY, 1822-1823. INCREASING importance was seen to attach to the operations of the Bible Society. They became more extended every year, and always related to the glory of God and the salvation of the souls of men.
Reviewing the Bible Societies on the Continent, this importance is seen illustrated in the progress of those in France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany,—especially in Prussia and Russia. Each of these affords evidences of real prosperity, in conferring the greatest of benefits and blessings to the people of many nations, diffusing the knowledge of the gospel of Christ
Perhaps the most remarkable are the labours of Dr. Leander Van Ess, among his Catholic brethren. He had circulated from the commencement of his Biblical operations, up to May, 1822, no less than “ 456,870 copies of his New Testament, besides 8,934 copies of Luther's German Bible, and a number of copies in the Greek, Latin, and Hebrew languages. His supporters, among persons of his own religious persuasion, were on the increase; the Societies of the Netherlands, of Geneva, of Bremen, had collectively contributed about £200, to his funds; and among the donations presented to him is one from the Prince of Thum and Taxis. The Committee of the Parent Society granted him £600."*
Many copies of the Word of God were circulated among the Catholics, from Venice, Malta, Smyrna,
* Bible Society's Report for 1823, p. liii.
and Constantinople; and there appeared an increased desire among them for the Holy Scriptures.
The Bible Societies of the East Indies continued their operations, especially in Colombo and Calcutta. To the Baptist Missionaries at Serampore, another grant of money was made this year. The Report states, “Of the twenty-six versions of the Scriptures, in as many different languages and dialects, undertaken by that learned body, thirteen have been already carried through the press; eight are more than half printed; two are printed as far as the third gospel; and in another the gospel of St. Matthew is nearly finished.” “In aid of these efforts, the Committee have voted two grants, one of £2,000, and another of £3,000 in the course of last year."*
Sincere regret was felt by the Committee in London, on hearing of the decease of Dr. Milne, the colleague of Dr. Morrison, in translating the Scriptures into Chinese ; still, the work went on to completion by the labours of the surviving missionary.
Africa was still favoured by the Society with supplies of the Scriptures. Several small Bible Societies were formed in Portuguese and Spanish America, Buenos Ayres, Chili, Peru, and Honduras; and such were in operation in Jamaica, Barbadoes, and other of the West India Islands.
The American Bible Society proceeded nobly in its divine work, the details of which, however, are far too numerous and varied to be recorded in this place. Its Auxiliaries increased in many parts of
* Bible Society's Report, p. Ixviii.
the United States, greatly to the advancement of the Gospel of Christ.
Domestic operations were carried on with diligent zeal, sustained by a still larger number of important Auxiliaries in England, Scotland, and Ireland. A cloud, however, was brought over the Society this year, by the lamented decease of the Clerical Secretary, the Rev. John Owen.* He closed his invaluable services September 26th, 1822, and his loss was mourned over by a very large number of the followers of Christ among all denominations.
Divine Providence, however, directed the Committee to engage the services of the Rev. Andrew Brandram, M.A.; a gentleman every way qualified to serve the cause of Christ, as Clerical Secretary to the Bible Society.
The Nineteenth Annual Meeting was held on the 7th of May, when it was reported that the receipts of the Society for the year ending March 31st, were £97,062 11s. 9d. ; that the grants had been to the amount of £29,285 11s. 8d.; and that the issues of the Scriptures from the Depository were
Bibles . . 123,127
Total : 259,850
The President, Lord Teignmouth, occupied his chair, and the crowded audience was addressed by Lord Bexley, Earl Harrowby, Lord Calthorpe, the Secretary of the Russian Bible Society, the Hon. C.
* See his Memoir in Part III.
Grant, the Rev. Joseph Fletcher, Mr. Wilberforce, the Rev. Dr. Baker, and the Rev. J. Hughes. The joy of the Meeting was, however, moderated by reference to the decease of the late Rev. John Owen.
THE TWENTIETH YEAR OF THE SOCIETY, 1823-1824. In noticing the chief events of the Bible Society during the past year, reference must be made to the Societies in France. That country offered a most important field for Biblical labours; and the Auxiliaries had increased to 75, with an income of 130,000 francs. Since the formation of the Paris Protestant Bible Society, it had distributed 18,606 Bibles, and 23,523 Testaments. And Professor Kieffer and M. Boissard report to the Committee in London, “ We saw the moment approaching when we should have been obliged to suspend our issue of Bibles, had not your Society come to our assistance by this fresh grant. Our warehouse and our depositories in various places are unable to answer the great demands. On account of your own Institution, the following editions have been executed :
40,000 De Sacy's Testament, in 12mo.
5,000 Italian Testaments, in 32mo.” Many encouraging reports were made respecting the increase of Bible Societies in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Holland,
Prussia and Russia; and their increasing operations advanced the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Societies or Agents promoted the Bible cause at Malta, Smyrna, Corsica, Constantinople, Adrianople, Beyrout and other places, in various languages of the East, calling forth the zeal and piety of professing Christians.
The Calcutta Bible Society carried forward its active labours in publishing several translations ; after £2,000 were called for by the Bishop's College, in aid of the translation of the Old Testament into Persian. The Serampore Missionaries continued stedfast in their various works, and to them two grants were made; one of £3,000 to their general translation fund, and the other of £2,500, on account of new versions which they had in hand.
Missionary labours at Tahiti, having been crowned with the Divine blessings, in the conversion of many idolaters to the knowledge of Christ, 3,500 of the Gospels were printed at Huahine, one of the Society Islands.
Sydney, in New South Wales, and Van Dieman's Land, afforded evidence of the desire of many to possess the Scriptures. Various efforts to serve the Bible cause were made on the South, West, and North of Africa, Egypt, and the Mauritius. Many copies of the Scriptures were distributed also in South America and the West Indies, and considerable funds and contributions were received for the Bible cause, by the Parent Society.
The United States of America persevered worthily