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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 feelings-a charge of indifference and inattention to the spiritual welfare of the inhabitants of Hindostan, did they not seize the opportunity, before your depar
ture 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 abler 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-creatures, 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 all its
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
conquerors, greedy only of wealth and of dominion; but as a virtuous and religious people, not less superior to them in moral goodness than in civilization and manners-in justice and benevolence than in arts and arms. Their attachment to their caste, which seemed to present the most formidable obstacle to their conversion, has been overcome. The mists, which enveloped their understandings, are fast dissolving before the irradiating influence of Sacred Truth. The superstitious dread, with which they regarded their deities, is giving place to juster conceptions of the Divine Nature; and the priests of the idol of Juggernaut are compelled to bewail the decreasing numbers and diminished zeal of his votaries.
What a variety of emotions is the cheering prospect which has at length opened upon us, calculated to excite! What gratitude to Almighty God for the blessing which He has been pleased to bestow upon the labours of the infant Church! What reverence for the memory of the distinguished Prelate, whose wisdom and piety have, under the direction of Providence, conducted those labours to so successful an issue! How powerful an encouragement does it hold out, how strict an obligation does it impose, stedfastly to persevere in the prosecution of these holy designs, till the triumph over the powers of darkness in our Indian empire shall be complete, and no other vestige of the ancient idolatry shall remain than the deserted temples of the divinities, who were its objects. Nothing now