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in Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Arabia, and Egypt. For this purpose it has printed the New Testament and Psalter in Arabic, and has already sent a large number of both, with some other tracts, into Persia and India. It has published three several editions of the Bible in the Welsh language, and distributed them through every part of Wales, to the amount of fifty thousand copies. It has made provision for the education of youth, and the due celebration of divine worship, in the Scilly islands, where there was the utmost need of both : and it has likewise printed and dispersed over the Isle of Man many thousand copies of the Old and New Testament, of the Common Prayer, and other religious books, in the vulgar language of that island.
By this constant attention of the managers of the Society to the Spiritual wants of the poor in many different parts of the world, as well as at home, the number of religious tracts and books which they have distributed, from their first institution to this day, is so immensely great, as almost to exceed be
lief.* And although, in some instances, the success of their endeavours has not fully answered their expectations, yet there can be no doubt but that upon the whole their labours have done infinite service to the cause of Religion. Indeed, all the clergy who are members of the Society, and have made a constant and discreet use of their tracts, can bear, and many of them have borne, ample testimony to the advantages resulting from them. Next to the stated offices of divineworship, and the regular instructions from the pulpit, it is evident, that nothing can contribute more to excite and keep alive a due sense of religion in the minds of the common people, than supplying them constantly with a variety of well-composed and well-chosen religious treatises, each of them judiciously adapted to their respective necessities. It supplies, in some degree, the want of that most useful branch of ministerial duty which has, I fear, of late years,
. * Even within the last fifty years, the number of books and tracts distributed by them has amounted to no less than 2,834,371.
grown but too much into disuse, personal conference with our parishioners; for which, unless we have some such substitute as this, we shall find, probably, that our public instructions will produce much less effect than they naturally ought
There is another argument for the distribution of small religious tracts among the common people, which has, I think, considerable weight. It appears that this is the very mode made use of by the adversaries of our Religion, in order to undermine and destroy it. They consider small tracts of infidelity, as the best and most effectual method of disseminating irreligion among their readers and admirers; and accordingly, have employed all their talents in composing, and all their industry in dispersing them over the world.* · Let us, then, endeavour to foil our enemies at their own weapons, which will surely
* It is certain, that M. Voltaire, in particular, has written innumerable little pieces against Revelation; that he prided himself greatly in having found out this method of enlightening the world : and that he was highly applauded by M. D'Alembert and others, for the wisdom and prudence of his conduct in this respect. .
prove more powerful and more successful, in the hands of truth, than in those of error; and let us, with that view, give all possible encouragement to a Society, which is instituted for the very purpose of furnishing us with a constant supply of the best helps towards counteracting the pernicious designs of those who “set themselves against us ;" who make use of every artifice to deprive us of all religion, or to introduce a corrupt one.
Inconsiderable and trivial as the little treatises dispersed by the Society may seem, yet it is by the repeated efforts of such small instruments as these, that the greatest effects are often produced. Their numbers, their plainness, and their cheapness, will give them a force and efficacy, and extent of circulation, which much more voluminous and more laboured compositions may not be able to acquire ; just as we see that the lowest and humblest, and most numerous bodies of men, not the opulent and splendid few, are those that constitute the real strength and wealth of the community.
It has been frequently asserted, that it is philosophy, modern philosophy, which has enlightened and improved mankind. But whom has it enlightened and improved ? A small knot, perhaps, of wits and philosophers, and learned men; but how have the multitude, the bulk of the people, those who really constitute the world, been enlightened and improved ? Do they read the works of Bolingbroke, of D'Alembert; of Hume, or of Raynal? Thanks be to God, those elaborate and bulky compositions are equally beyond their understandings to comprehend, their leisure to peruse, and their ability to purchase. And even the smaller pieces above-mentioned of Voltaire and others, are not calculated for the lowest classes of mankind, but for men of some education and some talents. And, their object is not to inform, bụt to perplex and mislead; not to convince by argument, but to entertain with strokes of wit and buffoonery. Most fortunately for mankind, the mischief of such writings is confined (comparatively speaking) to a very narrow. circle, which their admirers, however, are pleased to dignify with the name of the world. The vulgar, the vile populace, so far are those great philosophers from desiring to instruct and