A FRESH START
from "The Word of God Among All Nations"
a brief history of the Trinitarian Bible Society
In 1867 the Society entered upon an era of vigorous
activity and increasing prosperity. In that year the Rev. Ethelbert William
Bullinger was appointed "Clerical Secretary" and his predecessor, H. B.
Clissold, returned to the General Committee. At the time no one could have
foreseen that Bullinger was to remain at the helm during nearly the whole of
the next half-century. The previous ten years had seen three successive
clerical secretaries come and go, without a great deal being achieved. In 1861
the Society had nearly been dissolved for lack of funds. Most of the founder
members had died or ceased to take an active interest. The first secretary, the
Rev. G. W. Philips, had died in 1865. The first president, Thomas Erskine, had
died in 1864. The first treasurer, John Labouchere, had died in 1863, as had
the Rev. A. S. Thelwall, the first full-time clerical secretary. Just two
members of the first Committee continued to serve, the Rev. H. H. Beamish and
J. Graham, both of whom were to depart by 1870. With the passing of the first
generation, it might perhaps have been expected that the Society would quietly
wither away, but any such fears were rapidly to be proved wrong.
Bullinger was born in December 1837, and thus entered on his duties as TBS secretary at the tender age of twenty-nine. He was a profound student of the Scriptures, and possessed considerable energy and intellectual capacity. Bullinger was at his most resourceful when debating the principles of Bible society work. He lost few opportunities of demonstrating inconsistencies and fallacies in the arguments of those who supported the circulation of Roman Catholic versions of the Bible. He travelled all over England organising and addressing meetings on this subject, and publicising the work of the TBS. In the period up to 1881 altogether forty-six new auxiliaries were formed as a result of this energetic activity. The versions debate was also continued in the columns of local newspapers and the religious press, in various pamphlets (some bearing evocative titles such as "Poisoned Bread" and "The Old Paths; Why forsake them?"), and above all in the pages of the Society's Quarterly Record.
(From chapter six - "A Fresh Start")
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