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GENERAL RESULTS OF THE BIBLE SOCIETY.
Active labours so long continued, and operations so vastly extended, as those of the Bible Society, must necessarily have produced important results. These are found to be very various, and of the most delightful kind, in every country throughout the world. During the forty-nine years of its existence, the Society has put into circulation more than TWENTY-SIX MILLIONS of copies of the Scriptures, either in whole or in part; and its expenditure, for this purpose, has reached nearly FOUR MILLIONS sterling! And if the aggregate issues of Foreign Bible Societies be added to those of the British and Foreign Bible Society, the grand total will amount to more than FORTY-FIVE MILLIONS of copies of the entire Bible, or New Testament, or integral portions thereof, in different languages !
Facts and figures are thus easily expressed. Still the term Millions is required to aid our conception, both with regard to books and to money. But however lofty and comprehensive the minds of men may be, no one can fully conceive the vast benefits that have been the fruit of that mighty institution. What tongue, human or angelic, however eloquent, can express the importance of those benefits, regarding as they do every interest of mankind ? What pen can fully describe them in all their magnitude? The most laboured attempts to estimate them will utterly fail. They relate to the intellectual and moral improvement of nations—to the spiritual regeneration of souls
—and to their eternal salvation by faith in the incarnate Son of God!
These benefits are connected with the public ministry of the Gospel, and the conversion of sinners. They form part of the good arising from the successful instruction imparted in our Day and Sabbath schools—and they enter into the religious training of their millions of children, in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour. They are identified with our evangelical missions to the Heathen, and the calling of hundreds of thousands of deluded idolaters from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God, fitting them for immortal blessedness in the kingdom of heaven!
LITERARY RESULTS OF THE BIBLE SOCIETY.
Besides its sacred character, the perfect revelation of God to our world, and the grand charter of His mercy to mankind by the Redeemer, the Bible is the source of universal learning. It is the divine fountain of all true science, in geography, history, chronology, ethnography, morals and religion. It is the most ancient and most learned book in existence. All the wisest of men, however differing in opinion on general subjects, refer to it as the most valuable literary treasure, the book of ultimate appeal. Sir William Jones, one of the most accomplished of oriental scholars, has truly declared, therefore, “The Scriptures contain, independently of a divine origin, more true sublimity, more exquisite beauty, purer morality, more important history, and finer strains of poetry and eloquence, than could be collected within the same compass from all other books that were ever composed in any age or nation."
To distribute this blessed book alone, is the glory of the Bible Society. This Society enumerates 150 languages or dialects, into which the Holy Scriptures have been translated ; and, in all of them the
distribution, printing, or translation, has been promoted by the Society. This has been done, directly in 99 languages, and in 51 indirectly. Some of these languages or dialects have several versions : as, for example, the French has three, the German three, the Italians two, and the Chinese three; so that there are 177 versions of the Scriptures, omitting those which are printed in different characters. And of these, 123 translations were never printed before the formation of the Bible Society!
Immediately in connection with the translation of the Scriptures, there have arisen the most important results. Many languages, previously unwritten and even unknown to Europeans, have been reduced to written forms, and sanctified by our Missionaries translating into them the oracles of God. Grammars and dictionaries have been formed in those languages; and thousands of books have been prepared for the use of schools, and for the general instruction of the people. This is especially the case among some of the savages on the South Sea islands, of Tahiti and Raratonga, the Feejee, Tonga, and Samoan Islands; of the Sandwich Islanders and New Zealanders; of the native tribes in South Africa, and of the nations in India. Thus the minds of multitudes have become enlightened and elevated, filled with correct ideas of the earth and time, of good and evil, of God and eternity. They have risen to the true dignity of their rational nature; they have been fitted to take their proper station among the nations of the civilized world; as well as to inherit the kingdom of heaven!
These mighty works of that great Institution have given a wonderful impetus to the advancement of general literature, in all departments, and in all languages,—even in England and France, in Germany and the United States of America. They have produced a host of learned writers, and multitudes of intelligent readers. The effects of this kind are truly astonishing and delightful, wherever our Missionaries have laboured long in translating the Scriptures, especially in the East.
Among these results are to be attributed also the recent profound inquiries respecting Oriental antiquities. The more extensive study of the Bible excited the inquisitiveness of our distinguished modern travellers. And the literary treasures, exhibiting the wonderful discoveries of Burckhardt, Buckingham, Irby and Mangles, Wilkinson, Rawlinson, Botta and Layard, are to be regarded as some of the valuable results of the Bible Society!