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their Secretary, the Rev John Owen, which took place on Thursday, the 26th of September, at Ramsgate.
In adverting to the afflicting dispensation, which has deprived the British and Foreign Bible Society of the invaluable services of its late Secretary, the Committee cannot resist the impulse of duty and affection, thus to record their grateful testimony to his zeal and unwearied exertions.
As no one was more deeply impressed with a sense of the great importance of the Institution to the best interests of mankind, no one laboured more strenuously and effectually to promote its influence and prosperity. To this object, which was ever near to his heart, his time, his talents, and his personal labours were unremittingly devoted. The correspondence which his official situation imposed on him, was alone sufficient to occupy the time which he could spare from bis professional duties; but the energies of a superior mind enabled him to extend his care and attention to every branch of the multifarious concerns of the Society, and to accomplish more than could have been expected from individual efforts. His pen and his voice were incessantly employed in its cause. The former was frequently and vigorously exercised in elucidating the principles of the Institution, or in defending its character and conduct against misrepresentation or aggression. To his pen, the world is indebted for a luminous and authentic history of the origin of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and its progress during the first fifteen years of its existence; in which the characters of truth and impartiality are throughout conspicuous: while his eloquence, so often and successfully displayed in advocating the cause of the Institution, impressed on his audiences that conviction of its utility, which he himself so strongly felt, and which the progressive experience of eighteen years has now so amply confirmed.
But his eloquence was entitled to a higher praise; it was the effusion of a heart in which candour and liberality ever predominated; it was characterized by that suavity of disposition, which had endeared him to the affectionate esteem, not only of his colleagues and the Committee, but of all who were in any way associated with him, in transacting the business of the
Society; while his great and diversified talents commanded general respect and admiration, and never failed to produce, in public meetings, an harmonious feeling of mutual regard among all who had the privilege of attending them.
In the year 1818, Mr. Owen, at the suggestion of the Committee, undertook a journey to the Continent, principally with a view to the recovery of his health, which had materially suffered in the cause of the Institution; but also for the purpose of visiting the Bible Societies in France and Switzerland.
Of his conduct during this excursion, it is sufficient to say, that it tended to raise the reputation of the Institution of which he was the representative; and to cement that happy union which had so long subsisted between the British and Foreign Bible Society, and its continental associates; and that his advice and experience were eminently useful in forming arrangements for the establishment of new Societies, or for rendering those already existing, more active and efficient.
The Committee, while they deeply lament, individually and collectively, the loss which the Society has sustained, cannot but devoutly express their gratitude to Almighty God, for hay. ing so long granted it the benefit of the zeal and talents of their beloved associate : to the indefatigable exertion of that zeal and those talents, the British and Foreign Bible Society, as far as regards human instrumentality, is essentially indebted for its present prosperous state; while to the same cause must, in great measure, be ascribed that indisposition which has so fatally terminated.
The Committee, fully persuaded that all the members of the Institution will most cordially sympathize with them, on an event so peculiarly calculated to affect their feelings, resolved that this brief memorial of the merits and services of their late Secretary, be published in the Monthly Extracts of Correspondence.
MEMOIR OF THE REV. JOSEPH HUGHES M.A. JOSEPH HUGHES is a name that is entitled to imperishable honour, as he was the projector, and the first Secretary of the British and Foreign Bible Society. To him also belongs the high distinction of being one of the founders, and the first Secretary of the Religious Tract Society. His origin, therefore, and his early training, will be worthy of consideration by every admirer of those two great Institutions.
Joseph Hughes was born January 1, 1769, in London. His early love to the Bible led some to think him “ a Christian in embryo;" and the remark was not unfrequently heard, “ He will be a minister.” In his tenth year, he was placed with the Rev. Mr. Smalley, a Presbyterian minister, at Darwen, in Lancashire ; from which, after two years, he was removed to the Free School at Rivington, in the same county. He returned to London, in 1784; and his religious convictions deepening, he was received, after baptism, by Dr. Stennett, on the profession of his faith, a member of a Baptist church. His attention being directed to the Christian ministry, by the influence of Dr. Stennett and other friends, he was admitted a theological student into the Baptist College, Bristol, under the presidency of Dr. Caleb Evans. In 1727, having completed his terms at Bristol, aided by “Dr. Ward's fund,” he entered King's College, Aberdeen, and after three sessions there, in March, 1790, he took his degree of M.A. He then spent one session at the University of Edinburgh.
Mr. Hughes was engaged in 1791, to fill the chair of classical tutor in the Baptist College ; and, in 1792, for about three years, he assisted, in the ministry at Broad-mead, Bristol, Dr. Evans and Dr. Ryland. In 1796, he accepted the invitation to become minister of the Baptist chapel, Battersea, about four miles from London.
Mr. Hughes was zealous to do good, even while at Abeerden, where he formed a Sunday-school: and at Battersea, in conjunction with the Rev. J. Bowden, Independent minister of Tooting, he projected the “Surrey Missionary Society,” for the evangelization of the villages of that county. Mr. Hughes united with all whom he could find active in advancing the kingdom of Christ. He attended the public meetings of the London Missionary Society. Before the sermon at Surrey Chapel, on the morning of May 8, 1799, Mr. Hughes was present when the Rev. George Burder proposed his plan for a Religious Tract Society; he was present at the adjourned conference next morning at seven o'clock, May the 9th, at St. Paul's Coffee House, St. Paul's Church Yard, when Mr. Hughes offered the first prayer for the Divine direction; and, when they met again at the same hour, at the same place, the Rev. Rowland Hill in the chair, the Society was formed, Mr. Hughes was chosen its Secretary.
Mr. Hughes continued his office, as Secretary to the Religious Tract Society, until his death; and with what efficiency appears by the progress of that institution. The details of his extraordinary labours must be learned from his “ Life," written by Dr.
Liefchild, and the Jubilee Volume of the Religious Tract Society. The part he took in the establishment of the Bible Society, will be seen in this volume; and the esteem in which he was held, will further appear by the “ Memorial of the Bible Society Committee.” This truly great man departed to his eternal joy, October 12, 1833, in the exercise of faith and hope in the Saviour, as his Redeemer, in a manner corresponding with his character, as a minister of Jesus Christ.
Memorial adopted by the Committee on occasion of the death of the Rev. JOSEPH HUGHES, A.M., one of the Secretaries.
In preparing a grateful Memorial to their departed Secretary, the Rev. JOSEPH HUGHES, the Committee cannot but testify how much he was beloved and respected by their whole body; both by those who were acquainted with him during the entire course of the Society's existence, and by those who have only known him of late. In this feeling, the Committee believe that they are joined by all the friends of the Society. However any might be exalted in rank, whether in Church or State
-however any might seriously differ from him in subordinate points—all were agreed to reverence and love an individual in whom so many excellencies appeared.
To him, as the Committee have much pleasure in recording, belonged, in an eminent degree, the character of a Founder of the Society; and in him they desire to adore the manifold wisdom and goodness of God, which were so evidently displayed, when, the idea having been originated of a Bible Society for Wales, the thoughts followed in quick succession in Mr. Hughes's mind—“ Why not a Bible Society for the kingdom?—why not for the world?” While grateful science will ever admire the hand of God, in the falling apple that opened