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OTAGO BIBLE SOCIEIY., Issue 7918, 28 May 1889
OTAGO BIBLE SOCIEIY.
The annual meeting of the above" 86ciely was held in the lecture hall of the Young \S omen's Christian Association last evening, and was attended by nineteen persons j the Rev. Dr Stuart occupying the chair.
The proceedings being opened with prayer and the reading of a psalm, The Chairman said: Friends, I am sure it will not be neoessary for mo to introduce the business in a formal speech. I may say, however, that this society was organised something like twenty-five years ago or thereabouts —in the first instance for tho purpose of introducing copies of the Scriptures into Otago—in order to meet the new demands which the influx of population in connection with the diggings created. The society met with extraordinary patronage at tho outset. Judges, magistrates, ministers, and others crowded to its earlier meetings. I regret very much to see that in Dunediu a city which owes very much to the Bible —a community which was started for the purpose of commending and exemplifying the Bible in this new country—we have not now ten times, nay, a hundred times, a larger representation of the community, for the purpose of hearing what these great societies, which we in a manner represent, are doing for the Holy Scriptures. As far as my reading goes, the British and Foreign Bible Society and the National Society of Scotland are doing a very noble work in foreign lands and in heathen lands, and there are now whole islands of the South Seas and whole communities that have been Christianised very materially through the translation and publication of the Scriptures in their languages. We are greatly indebted to these societies, and I hope that the audience, though few, will be thankful. Who knows but that thoughts that breathe and words that burn will find utterance here this evening, and through the Press will touch hearts up and down the country, and so lea.l to a revival of interest in the Bible Society. May it be so. The secretary will now bring under your notice the annual report. ANNUAL REPORT, The Secretary (Rev. J. Niven) read an abstract of the report of the Committee, which was as follows :~ lho record of our society for the past year may unfortunately be presented in brief compass-, this not because of decreased interest, but in consequence of the long continued commercial depression, which has seriously diminished our income. Our work has been carried on silently and without ostentation. And perhaps it is as well that it should be so. While on the one hand we are called on to let our light shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify cur Father in Heaven, on the other there is no requirement that it should be exhibited with spasmodic eleotric brilliancy. At times that may be needful and advantageous, but in this excitement-loving age it is profitable that the agency which is intended to tell most effectually should work in quiet in order to produce permanent result. (Joral reefs are built up imperceptibly, but they withstand the roar and rush of the surges which beat against them in vain for ages, whilst man's work carried on oftimes amidst noise, and with violent effort, is not unfrequently destroyed by a single storm. Very muoh is it thus with Bible Society work. That which is now producing the best result, and yielding permanent good, was founded and built up for years in silence, and in the face of much opposition. During the past years 4,798 copies of the Scriptures were issued from the depdt, whereof 1,552 copies were circulated by the oolporteurß, and fifteen copies free grants. The total issues of our sooiety now number 72,284. The receipts from sales are 1-306125, raising the total of sales to L 4.590 18s lid. The amount from contributions, etc., is L 212 Q* 2d, thus the total free income of the society sinoe its formation is L 4.072. The amount of free contributions passing through the treasurer's books does not, however, represent all that has been contributed for Bible society purposes, as a considerable sum has been sent from Invercargill direct to the British and Foreign Bible Society. Our staff ot collectors has been materially reduced during the past year. There are Bome who have been steadfast friends of our society for many years, but alas their number is becoming small. It is with deep regret that we have to chronicle the death of Miss Lambton—ouo of our most successful collectors for fifteen years, during which period she was instrumental in collecting nearly LSOO for our society. From her death bed she sent in her last collections. Who will take her place ? Through the f orco of ciicumstancea some who had ga ned a good degree in this sphere of Christian effort have
been constrained to discontinue thin work of faitu and labor of love. Three years ago our collecting staff numbered 300. We close the year with only 175. As a reimlt plaoes that once appeared on onr list of contributions have disappeared this year. The remedy for this lies to a large extent with our ministers and other Christian friends exerting themselves to obtain colltotions in their own neighborhoods. That the revenue, not only of our own, but also of other Bible societies, shows great fluctuations need not be wondered at. The numbers of colls on Christian liberality are today vastly more numerous than in the early years of Bible sooieties. True, population has increased, but with that has also come additional claims, so that the one balances the other. Still, it must be admitted that much more might be done. The multiplication of churches with other Christian agencies call for greater outlay, but at the same time it should be remembered by those who enjoy the benefits of such that they owe them to the Bible, and that therefore the agency which has for its sole object Bible circulation has in reality, if not the first, yet still a paramount and permanent claim on their liberality, so that tue friends of the Bible Society should take care that the inoreased activity of other religiouß and charitable organisations does not prejudice or injure the grand and great object of giving the Bible to tne world. We need not grudge the success that attends other Christian agencies, but a responsibility is laid on us of increasing instead of relaxing our ffforts. Thus, if there be increased activity on the part of other Christian workers, there should be the samo in ours. The falling off of subscriptions in any year need not discourage us ; but should rather rouse to renewed and increased zeal. There is a source of revenue participated by the parent societies whioh we do not as yet share—that which accrues from legacies. Want of thought is perhaps the cause of this; but surely those who have more or IeBS prospered in this world might not be unmindful of an institution that has been the internment of good to themselves, and of so much blessing to the world. One reason why the income of our society fluctuates and ever with a downward tendency is to be traced to ignorance rather than to indifference. A generation has grown up who know little of what Bible societies have done and are doing, and henci if our society is not only to maintain its position, but enlarge its boiders, it is needful that that ignorance be dispelled. It must be thankfully acknowledged that some friends of Bible work do what they can in this matter, and that not a few clergymen are ever ready to lend a helping hand, but the ever-increasing and multifarious work of their congregations demand all their time and energies, so that, however willing and desirous, they cannot accomplish all they contemplate. Beside whioh Bible Sooiety work is not such an insignificant thing as that anyone can master its details in the time at the disposal of even the most warm-hearted ministerial fiiend of Bible societies. Doubtless great b.nefit would follow if clergymen would devote even one Fermon a year to this subject, and by pressing home the claim of Bib'e circulation in the heart and consciences of the people, open the way for the collectors. The excuse commonly made for not taking an active part in this work u that congregations have a struggle to meet their liabilities, and till that is done it is not right to ask them to contribute to schemes and agencies outsido of themselves. On the surface the excuso is plausible, but it is a sufficient answer U say: " There ia that scattereth, and inc-easeth yet more; and thero is that withhold-ith more than is meet, but it tondeth only to want. The liberal soul shall bo made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself." Reviewing Bible Society work as a whole there is no need for despondency, but rather for thankful - ness. During the past year more copies of the Scriptures have been circulated throughout the world than in any past period. The British and Foreign Bible Society reports a circulation of 4,206,000, the National Bible Society 632,073, the Annual Bible Society 1,504,647, and the Hibernian Bible Society 77,145—thus making by those a total circulation of 6,419,863 copies of the Scriptures in whole or in part. Since the beginning of this contury the total circuUtion, estima'ing that of all agencies, must be under Great as that circulation would bs, it mu9t be remembered that the popu lationof the world has been increasing at a tiemendous rate, with which the present issues of Bible societies cannot keep pace. For example, the Government statistics of British India say that the population now living on the same area has within 100 years increased by more than 100 millions. During the nine yearß between 1872 and 1881 the population of British India increased by 15,000,000—an increase that never would have taken place under Native rule ; and whit has occurred in that land is going en elsewhere. Facts such as these throw a responsibility on British Christians, for in the providence of God there has been given to our nation pre-eminently the work of distributing the Bible throughout the wnrld. The question that must now be faced is this : not shall the work be done, because it shall, but how aud when shall it be accomplished ? The answer is to be found in the liberality of professed Bible lovers. Onco it was the want of opportunity that hindered, now it is the lack of means. The total amount of free contiibutions at the disposal of the Home sooieties was L 165,052. This represents the contributions from all tho world to fhnaA societies hi the snread of the Scriptures. Surely that amount is not what it ought to be. Tho total gifts to extending Bible works in all agencies and for all tho world does not amount to L 300.000. The receipts from sales by tho Home societies U only L 119.625, This is Burely a sufficient answer to the charge bo often brought against Bible pocieties of making handsome profits from sales. But for free contributions, Bible sooieties would either have to abandon their work or largely increase the price of Bibles. Much is being done, but the field is so limitless, the race so multitudinous, and it dies away so fast. But when we remember Christ, and when our spirits, watching him, catch something of His Spirit—so intense, yet so calm, so patient, so possessed—then our mood will change. There is indeed a world of difficult work, but there is also a world of hope ; and it is ours to work and to be steadfast, leaving the time and seasons with tho Father, and with the Son who has not loved tho world in vain.
The balance-sheet which was appended showed the receipts to have been L 582 6s 3d, and the expenditure L 455 Ids 6d, leaving a balance in hand of L 126 lis 9d.
The Rev. J. Niven, in speaking to the report, mentioned that the next annnal meeting would bo the twenty-fifth anniversary of the society, and he was of opinion that something should then be done to make that meoting a most successful one. They should so manage it so as to have a meeting in some manner worthy of the occasion. He would also like to mention that there was considerable difficulty in procuring collectors, more especially for Dunedin and suburbs; and that though ten years ago there were only forty-seven collectors, and within the last five years 454 names had hcen added to the roll, there now remained but 175 collectors, The Chairman felt that the tone of the report was of too apologetic a nature. It seemed as though they were attempting to apologise for neglect, and the report would, if published, cause people to imagine that they were justified by the agent of the society. The Secretary : I don't think that conclusion could be formed if the report is read carefully. The Rev. G. Spence ultimately moved, the Rev. W. Dutton seconded, and it was resolved—" That the report be adopted, and in anticipation of returning commercial prosperity commend Bible Society work to the increased liberality of subscribers, in the hope that the twenty-fifth anniversary of this society may be celebrated by a large advance in our income, so that the contributions to the Home societies may be a worthy testimony of gratitude for their labors and of thanksgiving to God for the gift of His Word and the temporal blessings enjoyed." ELECTION OF COMMITTEE. The Rev. R. Porter moved—" That the cordial thanks of the society be tendered to the office-bearers of the paßt year, and that the following be the members of committee for the ensuing year:—The president (Rev. J. Gibb), the ministers of the Gospel, and Messrs J. Fulton, J. Paterson, R. S. Nicolson, R. A. Lawßon, W. D. Stewart, J. A. Torrance, Somerville, and Hon. T. Dick." The Hon. T. Dick thought that something should be done to improve the condition of the society, and to endeavor to remove the apparent lack of sympathy with it. He was deeply grieved that so little interest was manifested in the society, and was convinced that something should be done to resuscitate it. There was certainly something which was pulling the society back, but what it was he eould not say. The present meeting was a specimen of the meetings whioh were now held in connection with the society, and there were present, all told, some nineteen persons. It was certainly most unfortunate that such a limited number could attend, and if that state of things continued he would advocate the handing over ol the affairs of the sooiety to the women. They had attempted to keep the Young Mens Christian Association afloat and had failed,
and it was then handed over to the women ; and it seemed as though the Otago Bible Society, judging from the present appearance of things, should be also handed to the ladies, unless something was done to properly resuscitate the movement. Mr Lawson sympathised very much with the remarks of the last speaker, i»nd said that as far as the majority of the clergymen of the City were concerned, they were, in connection with the meetings of the Bible Society, generally conspicuous by their absence. It seemed as though there was a palpable lack of that confidence and trust which Bhould be reposed in such a Bociety as the Otago Bible Society, and which would go far to make a vast difference in the affairs of the society. He would move—"That it be an instruction to the Committee now appointed to take such steps during the year aa will lead to the better working of this society, and at the next annual meeting to bring forward a scheme for its formation on a better and more popular basis." This was seconded and carried unanimously. The Rev. Mr Borbib moved, the Hon. T. Dick seconded, and it was resolved—" That it be an instruction to the Committee to invite the Rev. M>" Robjobns (one of the British and Foreign Bible Society's agents) to visit Otago if possible during the year, or to come over at his earliest convenience."
The Secretary, in reply to the question whether the society was going to do anything in connection with the forthcoming Exhibition, said that letters on this subject had been sent to the Home societies, and replies were expected shortly. The society could obtain the Bible exhibit that had been shown in Melbourne for the payment of freight on the same. This was a liberal offer, and probably arrangements would be made to take advantage of it. The only difficulty was the familiar one of pounds, shillings, and pence, but _ with such assistance from the parent societies as had been given to Melbourne, a good deal might be done, for then it would only be necessary that a few friends should take the matter up and guarantee to give, or collect perhaps, LSO or L6O. All that could be done in this matter up to the present time had been done.
On the motion of the Hon. T. Dick, seconded by Mr Lawson, it was resolved—"That it be remitted to the Committee to arrange what amounts shall be sent to the Home societies." The proceedings then terminated.
OTAGO BIBLE SOCIEIY., Issue 7918, 28 May 1889
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