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At a Special General Meeting of the Society
FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE, held at their House in Bartlett's-Buildings, June 13, 1823, agreeably to public notice:
PRESENT, His Grace Charles Manners Sutton, D.D. Lord Archbishop
of CANTERBURY, President, His Grace WILLIAM Magee, D.D. Lord Archbishop of
DUBLIN, The Right Rev. William Howley, D.D. Lord Bishop of
LONDON, The Right Rev. THOMAS BURGESS, D.D. Lord Bishop of St.
David's, The Right Rev. GEORGE-HENRY Law, D.D. Lord Bishop of
CHESTER, The Right Rev. WILLIAM VAN MILDERT, D.D. Lord Bishop of
LLANDAFF, The Right Rev. John Kaye, D.D.Lord Bishop of Bristol, The Right Rev. REGINALD HEBER, D.D. Lord Bishop of CAL
CUTTA, The Right Honourable George, Lord KENYON, The Right Honourable Thomas, Lord Lilford, The Very Rev, Robert Hodgson, D.D. Dean of CARLISLE, Sir Thomas DYKE ACLAND, Bart. M.P. Sir R. H. IngLis, Bart. Ven. Joseph Holden Pott, M.A. Archdeacon of London, Ven. John JAMES Watson, D.D. Archdeacon of St. ALBAN's, Ven. CHARLES James BLOMFIELD, D.D. Archdeacon of Col
CHESTER, Ven. Robert NARES, M.A. Archdeacon of STAFFORD, Ven. FRANCIS WRANGIAM, M.A. Archdeacon of CLEVELAND, Ven. WILLIAM STRONG, D.D. Archdeacon of NorthAMPTON, The Hon. & Rev. George NEVILLE GRENVILLE, M.A. Master
of MAGDALEN COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE, . And a large assemblage of MEMBERS OF THE SOCIETY,
His GRACE THE PRESIDENT, in the Chair :
The following VALEDICTORY ADDRESS to the Right Reverend Father in God REGINALD, Lord Bishop of Calcutta, previous to his departure for India, was delivered, on the behalf of the Society, by the Right Reverend Father in God John, Lord Bishop of Bristol.
MY LORD BISHOP OF CALCUTTA,
Your preparations for the arduous voyage which you are about to undertake, being now so far advanced towards their completion as to preclude the expectation that you will again, at least for a long series of years, be enabled to attend the meetings of this Society, it has been resolved, and all must admit the propriety and expediency of the resolution, that a Valedictory Address should be delivered to your Lordship on the present occasion. The highly responsible and honourable situation, which you have been recently appointed to fill, is intimately connected with objects, to which the attention of the Society has, for more than a century, been directed. They would, therefore, subject themselves to a charge--of all others most abhorrent from their real character and feelingscharge of indifference and inattention to the spiri(tual welfare of the inhabitants of Hindostan, did
not seize the opportunity, before your depar
țure for those distant regions, of publicly expressing the deep, the intense interest, which they take in the success of your future labours.
But while I acknowledge the peculiar propriety of the resolution, I must be permitted to state my unfeigned regret that its execution has not been entrusted to abier hands. When it was proposed to me to undertake the office of delivering the present address, I was not insensible to the difficulty of the task in which I was about to engage. Every approach which I have since made to the subject, has confirmed me in the conviction of my inability to do it justice—to produce any thing which should not be alike unworthy of your Lordship’s distinguished reputation, and of the reasonable expectation of the audience by which I am surrounded.
Happily, however, for me it is not requisite that I should enter upon the various important and interesting topics, which the occasion unavoidably suggests. In contemplating your elevation to the episcopal office, it is impossible to separate that event from the influence which it must necessarily have
upon the spiritual interests of the subjects of our Indian empire ; of an empire scarcely inferior in extent to that of Rome in the plenitude of her power, and containing millions of our fellow-creaturės, who are yet strangers to the saving truths of the Gospel. How grand, how overwhelming a subject is here presented to the contemplation! A subject, in which the most exalted intellect may find a fit opportunity for the display of allits
powers; but from which ordinary minds must shrink, oppressed by the humiliating consciousness of their own insufficiency ! Great, therefore, is the relief which I have derived from the reflection, that the design of the present address neither requires, nor even permits, me to expatiate in this ample field. It would be no less presumptuous in me, than foreign from the intention of the Society, were I to occupy your time and that of this meeting in detailing my own opinions respecting the most effectual mode of communicating the blessings of Christianity to the nations of Hindostan, or in offering your Lordship my advice respecting the course which it is expedient for you to pursue in discharging the duties of your high station. My province is simply to express to you the feelings with which the Society regard your appointment to the superintendance of the Indian Diocese, and to bespeak your protection and support for the efforts which they have long made, and, with the blessing of Providence, shall never cease to make, to diffuse the knowledge of the Gospel throughout that vast continent.
Yet, I trust that you, my Right Reverend Brother, and that the rest of this respectable assembly will not charge me with improperly digressing from the immediate business of the day, if I briefly advert to the change which has been effected in the prospects of the Society, since a similar address was delivered in this place. Strongly as the Society were impressed with the conviction that the forma
tion of a Church Establishment afforded the only secure mode of communicating the blessings of Christianity to our Eastern Empire-firm and deeply-rooted as was their confidence in the zeal, the discretion, the ability of him to whom the government of that Establishment was to be committed—they were, still, too sensible how shortsighted are the views of man, and how frail the nature of all his expectations, not to feel some anxiety and apprehension respecting the success of the newly-adopted measures.
Nine years have now elapsed since your lamented Predecessor entered upon the discharge of his episcopal functions; and that, which then could only afford a subject for conjecture and for hope, has become a matter of retrospect and of certainty. All the accounts which have reached the Society, concur in stating that the new measures have been attended with more complete success than from the shortness of time, during which they have been in operation, the most sanguine could have ventured to anticipate. Many of the impediments which directly or indirectly, retarded the reception of the Gospel, have been removed. The establishment of a visible Church has opened an asylum to the convert from the taunts and injuries of the professors of his former faith. The progressive improvement effected in the lives and conversation of the European settlers has deprived the natives of one of their most powerful arguments against the truth of Christianity. They no longer look upon us as mere