HomeAbout the Bible SocietyScripture Resource CenterBiblesBicentennial: 1808 - 2008MembershipDaily Scripture PassagesGet InvolvedMemorials & HonoringsBequestsAssociation of Bible SocietiesVisit or Contact Us

Letter from Robert Ralston of Philadelphia to Josiah Roberts, Esq of London

Dated November 10, 1808

Extracts from the script of Josiah Roberts:


The receipt of the former report of the Bible Society, I endeavor to improve to promote a similar establishment in this country, and I hope your present letter with the last report, which accompanied it, will be made serviceable in brining into operation so valuable an institution.

The aid which you mention can probably be attained from the Society in London, will I trust animate the friends of the measure, who have had their fears that a failure might attend the undertaking if attempted at the present time.  To delay I consider is to risk the object – a better state of things may not, and probably will not present for years to come, and under any state of awkward difficulties, if the blessed head of the church patronize the work, we know it must, it will succeed.  If discouragements of this kind ought to avail, I am sure the state of your country for many years past would have formed a sufficient excuse – yet with the increased pressure of National difficulties have been the increased exertions of the friends of Zion to promote the Redeemer Kingdom and to do good to all the world.  Let us then profit, and be animated by your example, working while it is called to-day, for the night of death will soon overtake us in which there is no work or device.  I shall endeavor to apprize you of the result of the exertions that may be used on this occasion.”


History of the letter:

Josiah Roberts was one of the original managers of the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) founded in Britain in 1804.  Roberts lived in Philadelphia from 1801 – 1803 on the same street as Ralston (according to directories at that time).  Based upon the frequency of letters that went back and forth between Ralston and Roberts over the years it is safe to assume that these two gentlemen were strong acquaintances or even friends when Roberts lived in Philadelphia.  According to this letter above Roberts had sent Ralston a copy of one of the reports of the BFBS (“the Bible Society”) and it was from this report where Ralston gained the inspiration to start a similar society here.

Have any questions about our history - Email us at:  history@pabible.org