Images de page
PDF
ePub

love, zeal, determination. The President of the Consistory, M. Paumier, won' my heart by his sweet and affectionate piety, and the interest he took in the business of the Society. I left the committee determined to subdivide the city of Rouen (eighty thousand souls) into districts, and search out the scattered Protestants, in order to furnish them with the Sacred Scriptures. But I was still further delighted, when I arrived åt Paris, the spring and centre of all the French societies, and witnessed the enlightened and diligent proceedings of that meritorious committee; for they are covering Protestant France with kindred bodies—they publish monthly bulletins of their progress--they correspond with the chief Bible institutions on the continentthey emulate, in short, the exertions and ardour of our great parent society at home. Nor are they without encouragement. Almost in every part of France, a desire is kindling to possess and study the Holy Book—the piety of former ages is beginning to revive—and the Roman Catholics themselves, are, in numerous instances, excited to inquire after the blessed words of Jesus Christ. It is impossible, I think, for any one to set his foot in France, and not bless God for the British and Foreign Bible Society. And yet France is only.one division of Europe, and Europe only one division of the world;—and our Bible institutions, in one hun

[ocr errors]

dred and forty languages and dialects, are gently making their way, and peacefully proclaiming

, the name of a crucified Saviour in almost

every place; that is, they are every where silently preparing for the conversion of the Heathen and Mohammedan nations, and for the revival of primitive Christianity, with all its blessings, where it is already professed.

And here, Sir Claudius, a child may be qua lified to answer the chief objection raised in this country against the Bible Society; for what would our English Liturgy, and the devotional or controversial writings of our English Episcopal Church, avail in foreign nations, and amongst foreign churches ? What would the Evangelical churches of France say to us, or the Roman Catholic bodies, if we attempted to give our Prayer Book with the Bible? The attempt would be madness. And yet, who for a moment would hesitate, on this account, to give the inspired book of God himself, which is able to make wise unto salvation, to every human being in all these various countries? Who for an instant would compare, in point of value, the distribution of a human Liturgy, however excellent, (as that of our own Church most undoubtedly is), but which you cannot effectwith the distribution of the life-giving Book of Grace, inspired and dictated by the Holy Ghost himself, which you can? But, in truth, there

is, there can be, no question about the Bible Society, with those who really understand its design, and are free from the secret but fatal influence of prepossession and prejudice.

But I shall be reminded, that my particular motion respects the Committee of the Ladies' Societies. The simple plan of these excellent Committees is well known. It is merely to arrange the supply of the numerous poor, in our populous neighbourhoods, by the friendly visits of the benevolent Ladies resident in the vicinity. I cannot but avow my warm approbation of such a plan. To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, I always thought a duty of the female Christian; and to add to her other inquiries, the plain questions, Have you a Bible?'_Shall I assist you in obtaining one?' -is all that our Ladies' Institutions direct. Now I never could understand how it can be the duty of a female to make other benevolent inquiries, and yet not her duty to make the most benevolent. I never could comprehend why a line of demarcation is to be drawn just where eternity is joined with time, and temporal relief united with spiritual. If, indeed, cautions are thrown in as to the manner of conducting all this detail in the sub-operations of this vast society, I can

society, I can understand them. Human infirmity must always require, and a wise and enlightened zeal will always rejoice,

[ocr errors]

in such cautions. If additional reserve and care, pushed even to scrupulousness, are enjoined, where the extreme delicacy of the female character, and the peculiar nature of its duties, are involved, I can readily acquiesce, and eagerly profit by the admonition. It is the same in all great and important measures. Humility, fear, dread of ostentation, simplicity, charity, self-renunciation, can never be too much enforced. The British and Foreign Bible Society has ever listened to the friendly voice of counsel. But all this is very different from hostility, indifference, misrepresentation, resentment. I would say, therefore, to the Ladies' Associations, as I would say to all our friends in all the branches of the Bible Society's proceedings, 'Go on; do the unspeakable good before you; but do it with as little attendant error and mistake as you can: guard every avenue to evil; receive every hint for improving your plans; but let not any incidental and accompanying infirmities deter you from conferring the main, solid, enduring, inestimable benefit, of giving to your fellow-creatures the inspired words of eternal salvation: direct, but do not extinguish your zeal; guard, but do not repress your love to your dying Saviour: and, above all, listen not to the wretched sophistry, which would exclude the affections of the heart from the very cause in which the exercise of these affections is not only most legitimate, but most necessary and indispensablethe cause which directly concerns the glory of our Lord Christ, and the illumination and salvation of mankind.

Sir Claudius, I have done. My health is uncertain, and ought perhaps to have restrained me from appearing here to-day. But the last service that I could prevail on myself to decline would be, that which regards the universal distribution of the Holy Bible; which unites both worlds; which teaches us the love, and gratitude, and obedience we owe to our Saviour here, and which will prepare us for celebrating bis praise in that eternal rest hereafter, which he has purchased for us by his own mysterious sacrifice on the cross.

« PrécédentContinuer »