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MY REVEREND BRETHREN,
ADDRESSING you, for the first time, in your collective and corporate capacity, I am happy to be enabled to announce the probable increase of your numbers to an amount more nearly adequate to the spiritual necessities of India; to the arduous and peculiar labours which the Indian clergy undergo; to the casualties of an enfeebling and devouring climate, and to that fair proportion which might be looked for between the ecclesiastical establishments of Fort William and its subordinate Presidencies.
The number of chaplains allotted to the former is increased, by a recent order of the Honourable Court of Directors, from twenty-eight to thirty-one, while the transfer of Mhow and Nagpoor to the establishments of Fort St. George and Bombay will enable the government of this Presidency to avail itself, in other quarters, of the services of the clergymen who now officiate there; and the change, which is further directed, of “station” into “ dis
trict” chaplains, may lead, I trust, to measures still further increasing the effective nature of their ministerial labours.
For the munificent and parental care which has prompted these measures, it would ill become me to conceal the expression of my gratitude,—and it is in the hope of so far exciting (by an unvarnished statement of our wants) the zeal of our brethren at home, as not to render vain the Christian care of our rulers,—that I am induced to mention (what, to those who hear me, is unhappily but too familiar) the very great deficiency, in numerical strength, of the Clergy on the Indian establishment.
Of twenty-eight chaplains assigned by the Honourable Company to the Presidency of Fort William, fifteen only are now on their posts, and effective, Five are, from ill health and other unavoidable causes, at present absent on furlough ; while of the remaining eight appointments, no fewer than seven are represented as vacant, the clergyman who fills the eighth only, being reported on his voyage from England.
The consequence has been, that, even in Calcutta and its vicinity, some Churches must have been shut up but for the occasional help of clergymen not in the Company's service; that at Cawnpoor, a single labourer is sinking under the duty of a military cantonment about five miles in length, containing two places of worship, two burial grounds, two distinct establishments of barracks, schools, and hospitals, and for which the wisdom of
ment had designated two resident ministers ;while in the other mofussil provinces, some of the most important stations are addressing to me, almost daily, their earnest (and, unhappily, their unavailing) applications for that comfort and instruction which in our own country is accessible to all.
This is a state of things, beyond a doubt, sufficiently lamentable. It presents the revolting spectacle of a nation almost without a priesthood to the Romanists who dwell among us, and to the surrounding heathen. It has a tendency to increase itself and its own evils by oppressing and overpowering the strength of those labourers who still continue in the vineyard. And it excludes, in the worst and most effectual manner, from the teaching and ordinances of our religion, the daily increasing multitude of our countrymen and their descendants, of whom by far the greater part are still ardently attached to the faith and worship of their fathers.
In all which I have said, I am far from designing to convey a censure on our rulers. Those rulers have shown (I cheerfully bear them witness) a progressive attention, during many years, to the spiritual wants of their servants and soldiers in these distant lands. Their endowments have been liberal; they have been careful of the comforts and respectability of their clergy, and, in the general exercise of their patronage, they have exhibited a disinterestedness and an anxiety for the cause of
God and goodness, which few bodies of men have exhibited under similar circumstances. The inadequacy, the delay, the frustration of their measures for the spiritual good of India, may be ascribed, with more justice, to the general ignorance which prevails in England on most points connected with these important but distant territories; to an apprehension, (certainly not an unnatural one,) on the part of the younger clergy, of an unhealthy climate, and almost a life-long banishment, and to their consequent backwardness in soliciting or accepting appointments, the duties of which are little understood, but the sacrifices incident to which are easily and generally appreciated.
And I have, therefore, thus strongly, but truly, depicted the condition of our Indian Church, both as it accounts, in no small degree, for that tardy progress of Christ's kingdom in the east with which our adversaries are not slow to taunt us; and as it affords me an opportunity of bearing testimony to the diligence, the fidelity, the conciliatory and affectionate spirit, in which, so far as I have yet seen or known, the clergy of this diocese, to their power, and in some instances beyond their power, have laboured and are labouring.
Nor will I conceal my hope, that when our wants are more generally known, deserving candidates may more readily offer themselves to our rulers for situations, which, as they claim, undoubtedly, no common share of talent and diligence to discharge their duties effectually, so a greater and more im
mediate return of usefulness is obtainable in them than in almost any stations of ministerial labour which have come within the compass of my experience.
It is, indeed, most true, that those men would be much mistaken who should anticipate, in the fortunes of an Indian chaplain, a life of indolence, of opulence, of luxury. An Indian chaplain must come prepared for hard labour in a climate where labour is often death; he must come prepared for rigid self-denial in situations where all around him invites to sensual indulgence; he must be content with an income liberal, indeed, in itself, but very often extremely disproportioned to the charities, the hospitalities, the unavoidable expenses of his station. He must be content to bear his life in his hand, and to leave, very often, those dearer than life to His care who feeds the ravens.
Nor are the qualifications which he will need, nor are the duties which will rest on him, less arduous than the perils of his situation. He must be no uncourtly recluse, or he will lose his influence over the higher ranks of his congregation. He must be no man of pleasure, or he will endanger
their souls and his own. He must be a scholar, and a man of cultivated mind, for, in many of his hearers (wherever he is stationed), he will meet with a degree of knowledge and refinement which a parochial minister in England does not often encounter, and a spirit, sometimes of fastidious and even sceptical criticism, which the society, the