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The British and Foreign Bible Society

This is no sectarian institution: it is supported by "church and state," and by all classes of dissenters. It has now existed nearly fifteen years. Its sole object is to encourage and promote a wider circulation of the Holy Scriptures without note or comment; and besides the endeavours to provide every person throughout the British dominions with a Bible, it extends its influence, according to its abilities, to other countries, whether Christian, Mahometan, or pagan. In the promotion of this great work, immense efforts have been made, particularly in the translation of the Bible into various languages. Besides printing it in different sizes, in English, Welsh, &c., there have been prepared sundry and extensive editions of the Scriptures in Gaelic, Manks, Irish, Arabic, modern Greek, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Danish, German, Ethiopic, Syriac, &c. The auxiliary societies, which exist to an amazing extent, in the metropolis and suburbs, as well as throughout the kingdom, are entitled to purchase at prime cost; and subscribers procure them at 25 per cent. below the cost of the society. It is gratifying to learn that, following the example of the British and Foreign Bible Society, Bible societies have been established in almost every part of the continent, as well as in the East Indies, &c., each of which in the course of a year has circulated thousands and tens of thousands of Bibles ;—but many of them are greatly indebted to this society. At the last anniversary meeting, the report detailed the progress of the Bible Societies in the different countries on the continent, and in the Indies, &c., stated that the number of Bibles issued at cost and reduced prices, from the 31st of March, 1818, to the same period in 1819, was 123,247 Bibles, and 136,784 Testaments; making in the whole 260,031 copies, being an increase beyond the issues of the preceding year of 65,930 Bibles and Testaments; making, with those issued at the expense of the society, from various presses upon the continent, a total of more than two millions three hundred thousand Bibles and Testaments.

Of the efficiency of the Russian Bible Society alone, some idea may be formed from the fact, that within four years of its establishment, it had published, or was engaged in publishing, not fewer than forty-three editions of the Sacred Scriptures in seventeen different languages, forming a grand total of 196,000 copies!

The extent to which this society has been carried, in the formation of auxiliary societies, is amazing. There are upwards of FIVE HUNDRED auxiliary and branch societies in Britain alone, independently of Bible associations. In London there are fifteen auxiliary societies, established in and since 1812. The total net receipts for the year, ending March last, amounted to 94,306l.; and in fifteen years the society has expended about 700,000l!

The society has an immense library of Bibles and Testaments printed in various languages and ages. In 1817 was presented to it, a New Testament in 12 languages, by Elias Hutter, 2 vols. Nuremberg, 1599.

Related pages:
....Missionary Societies
....Prayer-Book and Homily Society
....Miscellaneous Societies

Source: Leigh's New Picture of London. Printed for Samuel Leigh, 18, Strand;
by W. Clowes, Northumberland Court. 1819