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FIFTI DECADE OF THE BIBLE SOCIETY.
THE FORTY-FIRST YEAR OF THE SOCIETY,
On entering upon the Fifth Decade of the History of the Bible Society, both the retrospect and the prospect appear highly instructive. The records of the past are full of wonders of the Divine grace. The prospect is bright and full of hope ; while “ we are bound to raise a grateful Ebenezer as we proceed to survey, in retrospect, the amount of work that has been done; the amount of good that has been effected ; and the willingness of mind to the work manifested by the varied agencies brought into operation.” All this, evidently, proclaims the Society to have been the work of God.
France claims our first notice, as the progress appears truly admirable. M. De Pressensé reports his issues for the past year, as 150,562 copies ; 16,452 Bibles and 134,110 Testaments : of these 125,547 were sold by colporteurs, chiefly to Roman Catholics. The French and Foreign Bible Society issued 14,031 copies; and the Protestant Bible Society of Paris, 6,697 copies of the Scriptures.
The Belgian friends of the Society maintain their ground against “ the inveterate opposition of the priests,” and Mr. Tiddy reports the issues of 11,562 Bibles and Testaments, chiefly among Catholics. The issues in Holland were 5,944 Bibles, 49,346 Testaments and 155 parts—total, 57,128 volumes in fifteen months : and the instances of spiritual benefit to men by these, are too numerous to record, in Belgium and Holland. The Netherlands Bible Society also issued 15,000 Bibles and Testaments, partly in the Dutch colonies ; besides aiding in translating the Scriptures into the Javanese.
In Germany, Dr. Pinkerton reports his issues from Frankfort 53,472 copies of the Scriptures, 13,170 among Roman Catholics, especially the new reformers. “ The immediate cause of this movement," says he, “was the exhibition of the so-called · Holy coat,' at Treves, to which upwards of half a million of Roman Catholics went in pilgrimage. How melancholy and humbling, in a Christian land, to hear the ignorant, superstitious multitudes singing the praises of this old rag; and crying out, ‘Holy coat! pray for us! Germany seemed stunned with this display of idolatry, which continued for six weeks, until the Catholic priest, Johannes Ronge, published, on the 1st of October, his remarkable protest, in a letter to the Bishop of Treves !"
Dr. Pinkerton also made a tour of eight weeks to promote the Bible cause in Hanover, Prussia, and Hungary. He found much to discourage him in the enmity and opposition of the Catholics, and in the Neologian philosophy of the Protestants. Still he was encouraged; as the Hanoverian Bible Society had issued last year, 3,194 Bibles, and 2,005 Testaments. 1,200 Jewish proselytes were zealous for the Bible; a Protestant pastor in Hungary issued 11,751 copies of the Scripture.
Dr. Steinkopff made a tour on the Continent, and reported his attendance at the thirty-second anniversary meeting of the Wurtemberg Bible Society, in the Cathedral, where upwards of 3,000 persons were present. In that period it had issued 464,576 Bibles and Testaments. The issues of the Bâsle Society were 14,680 copies in the year. Encouraging reports were made from other parts of Switzerland.
The Prussian Central Bible Society reports their issues as 53,986 Bibles, and 374 Testaments, and nearly 40,000 copies of the Scriptures from the depositories of the Auxiliaries ; besides 7,016 New Testaments supplied to the Prussian troops; in all 230,000, the expense of about half of which has been borne by the British and Foreign Bible Society.
The Danish Bible Society issued in the year 3,000 Bibles and Testaments; the Sleswick-Holstein Society 4,925 copies; the Swedish Agency at Stockholm 9,224 Bibles, and 17,230 Testaments: and the Swedish Bible Society 1,225 Bibles, and 15,175 Testaments. The agency in Norway issued from Bergen, Drontheim, and Stavenger 990 Bibles and 3,565 Testaments.
Russia possesses some friends of the Bible, forming a Committee of Agency at St. Petersburg; and their issues, in 1844, were 27,297, including 2,000 copies of the Scriptures on account of the American Bible Society. The Protestant Bible Society in Russia, during four years, to May 1, 1844, issued 45,115 copies of the Scriptures; and the Finnish Bible Society issued 1,148 copies, including 3,007 by its Auxiliaries.
Spain, Portugal, and Italy remained in a cheerless condition regarding the Scriptures, though they were desired by many of the people; so that the Pope, in his recent “Encyclical Letter," commands “ That all Bibles translated into the vernacular tongues, and published contrary to the decrees of the Roman Pontiff, be removed from the hands of the faithful.”
Malta appearing increasingly important as a depôt for about 12,000 copies of the Scriptures in twentyfive languages, the Committee engaged the Rev. T. Lowndes to take charge of it for the Society. The Rev. H. D. Leeves, at Athens, issued, in the year, 8,932 copies of the Scriptures, chiefly in the Greek language. Mr. Barker issued 4,810 copies at Constantinople; and several grants were made of Bibles in Hebrew, Syro-Chaldaic, Arabic, &c., for Jews and others at Damascus, Jerusalem, and Bagdad.
India, with its vast population, appears all important; and from the Calcutta Auxiliary, the issues last year were 51,580 volumes in various languages. The Bible Association for Calcutta issued 4,198 copies. The Madras Auxiliary issued 23,527 copies; the Bombay 3,146; and the Ceylon 13,734 volumes, besides 120 English Bibles.
In China, preparations were being made for a large distribution of the Scriptures, which were being revised by the Missionaries. The printing was commenced of the Mongolian version of the New Testament, as made by the Revs. Messrs. Swan and Stallybrass.
Several openings for the Scriptures appeared in New South Wales, South Australia, and Van Dieman's Land. Of the edition of the New Testament in New Zealand, 10,000 copies were granted to the Church Missionary Society. Order was given to print 5,000 copies more of the Tahitian Bible, for the London Missionary Society. The receipt of 3,000 Testaments in Rarotonga, and 500 reams of paper, are acknowledged by the Missionaries of the London Society ; and the printing of 10,000 Gospels of St. Luke and the Romans, in Samoa; and of the New Testament in the Friendly Isles, by the Wesleyan Missionaries.
Various grants were made to the Missionary stations in South Africa ; and £1,000 to aid the printing of the Caffre Testament. To Western Africa and the Mauritius, grants were made of Bibles and Testaments. In British Guiana, Central America, South America, and the West Indies, various efforts were made for circulating the Scriptures.
The American Bible Society advanced this year, receiving 154,440 dollars, and issuing 514,582 copies of the Scriptures. It has made grants to Northern India, Bombay, Madras, Ceylon, Siam, Esthonia, and Livonia, especially to the Hawaian Society.
In British America, the Bible cause prospered ; the issues of the Auxiliary for Upper Canada were