« PreviousContinue »
In the year
enlarged a school-room, and held service in it on Wednes. day and Sunday, more particularly for sailors. We agreed to have a light hoisted in the ship, where the prayer-meeting was to be held; and thus we went on till the days got long, in 1815, when Mr. Jennings, with some more, consulted to have a blue flag, with the word • Bethel,' a star, and a dove worked on it. In the course of the summer, Mr. S. coming up the river, took notice of the flag, and desired the waterman to put him to the ship. After having seen the way in which the meetings were conducted, he took an active part in the sailor's cause. 1816, no material alteration took place; but next year, 1817, the ‘Port of London Society' was formed ; and the year following, May 4, 1818, the Ark was placed on the Thames. The ‘Port of London Society' wishing to confine our social meetings to the Ark, the majority of our pious seamen were not agreeable. There
was a meeting held in the Lancasterian school, Potter's Fields, and another society was formed, called the ‘Bethel Union Society,' whose agents preached on board : thus went on this good work. In the mean time, in 1819, I being mate of the “Patient Success," was shipwrecked, and had a very narrow escape for my life. A gentleman who was a passenger, going up to join his ship in London, being one with us, and before a stranger to me, not long after sent me a kind letter, desiring me to go as mate with him, saying, I must not deny him, his soul was at stake. I weighed the matter close, and with prayer; and although I had a good ship, and a pious captain, I left, and went with him. I found him seeking rest, being forcibly struck with my conduct, as he said, in the hour of imminent danger. He wanted a counsellor, and I directed him to the Saviour; and it was not long before he found rest for his soul. While with him we made two voyages to Memel and Yarmouth; he got a Bethel Flag of his own, and we held meetings wherever we went. In the mean time, the meetings on the Thames increased ; places on shore were opened for sailors ; Bethel Flags had found their way to America and the West Indies ; and this and a thousand such things made us exceedingly joyful. In 1821, the 2d of January, I was offered the command of a ship. I scarcely knew what to do, but I made my case known to God, and begged, as Moses did, if His presence did not go with me, I might not be suffered to go.
But His ways are not ours; He went with me, and I got a worthy mate to help me. The first year I was in that ship we went to America, and I had the high honour of hoisting the first Bethel Flag at Miramiehi, and then at Memel: next year I was three times at Memel, and once at Riga, and at Hull. All the year I lived upon the fat of the land. I never heard an oath in the ship all the year; there was never one sailor drunk. I distributed two thousand tracts, some English, German, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, French, and Russian ; the two latter carelessly accepted, all the others thankfully. The Dutch were eagerly sought, and I have seen the fruit of some German tracts in Memel. On one occasion I sold eight German Bibles, and eleven New Testaments, all that I had with me: the next voyage I went to Riga, but could not sell any. Being in Russia in the fall of the year, 1 left the ship, and joined another ; and was supplied with six hundred tracts from a worthy gentleman of the Society of Friends, mostly French. Being bound to North America, I came to Liverpool; went again to Russia ; passed a long dreary winter in the Baltic; got to London in the spring. O, happy land! with all thy faults, there is in thee a few that love Jesus Christ. Went home after two years' absence, and joined the ship I now command. Went again to the Baltic; another adverse voyage; brought to the gates of the grave, and given up; other trouble I had none, only could not forget the partner of both my joys and sorrows, and her aged mother, totally blind. The Lord again raised me up, to try me a little longer. I had my Bethel Flag all eaten to pieces by the mice, but got home January 1, 1826 ; continued in the home trade ail the year; Bethel cause going on prosperously. Early in 1827, I was one among many who so earnestly sought the union of the Port of London and Bethel Union Societies ; have seen that
among many other things that gladdened my heart. O, that all who call themselves Christians were united in heart to love God. I have since been twice to Archangel, and once to Onega, where I found a captain belonging to Bristol, truly a man of God. Both he and I came off into the bay in our jollyboats, while another captain, coming off in his skiff, found a watery grave, and all who were with him. The worthy captain and I endeavoured to improve this awful circumstance the Sabbath after, leaving all in His hand that doth all things well. Since then I have been to Nova Scotia, and again to both Memel and Russia : the last
I have been in the coasting trade, and have had the privilege of attending many times the means of grace, which I find sweet to my soul. O Lord ! máy I improve them. In most of our social meetings I find strange faces ; many pouring out their souls to God. My prayer is, Ride on, glorious Conqueror, till all shall love and serve thee.
An old sailor, James Cowie.
“P.S. In noticing Nova Scotia, I found in Halifax, in the 53d regiment, eight hundred and sixty in number, two hundred and twenty-six belonging to the Wesleyans, one hundred and sixty-two to the Baptist Church, and ninetyfive to the Presbyterian Kirk; four hundred and eightythree in all, members of Christian churches ! also I heard five of the above-mentioned preach! Surely we may charitably hope not a few of these have been born again; as the Lord has promised, that the abundance of the sea shall be converted to him, and the forces of the Gentiles shall come to him. We see the dawn; O ! let us pray that the Sun of righteousness may shine in full meridian splendour.'”
THE PIOUS MATE AND INFIDEL LADY ON
MR. EDITOR, There are probably fewer classes of persons who are more deprived of the regular ordinances of religion, and none who need the consolations which the religion of the Gospel imparts, more than those who “go down to the sea in ships, and do business upon mighty waters.”
That multitudes of seamen are living without God, and opposed to His righteous commandments, is a fact which should arouse us to increased exertion, and call forth our united prayers, that those who are afar off may be brought near to God.
Iı is, however, delightful to observe, that amidst the moral darkness in which so many are enveloped, the Sun of righteousness has arisen, scattering the clouds of ignorance, and diffusing heavenly blessings; and perhaps we seldom observe the fruits of a life directed to God more apparent than in our pious seafaring brethren : their opportunities for usefulness
are numerous, and God has honoured many as the instruments of doing much good. It is to them we should look as the heralds of salvation, conveying the tidings of the Gospel to the distant nations of the earth.
Conversing a few days since with the pious mate of a coasting vessel, known to the writer for some years as a humble and devoted follower of the Lord Jesus, and whose conversion to God, I understand, is the fruit of the ministry of one of the agents of your Society, Mr. Joyce, he related the following narrative, which, while it shows the awful hardness of the hearts of those who are strangers to God, teaches us that God sometimes employs the humblest instrument to confound the wisdom of this world. Hoping the perusal of these lines may prove useful to your numerous seafaring readers, its insertion will oblige,
1. J. B. Hackney, Dec. 8, 1835.
“ A few months since,” observed the mate, a lady was on board as passenger ; her attainments in knowledge appeared very great, and she seemed well conversant on every topic but that of religion. One morning early, during our passage, our captain, after giving orders not to carry too much sail, and to call him if the wind increased, had gone below to his berth to get an hour's rest. I had the command of the vessel. Our female passenger, not finding herself disposed for sleep, came upon deck, and entered into familiar conversation, and appeared much interested in any information respecting the management of the vessel and the habits of the men, &c. She inquired what was the probable time we should reach the port to which we were destined ? I answered, that if the wind continued, we should, if God pleased, reach it by such a time (mentioning it). She interrupted me hastily, by observing, I had said, if God please! and asked me why I used that expression. I replied, that as I considered all things under his control, it was the common way of expressing myself. She said, “ All things came by nature, and therefore she was a believer in nature.' 1 appeared not to understand her, in order that she might repeat her sentiment, which she did by saying, that all things came by chance, and that it was folly to attribute them to any other source. The morning being very fine, and the stars unusually brilliant, I directed her attention to the heavens, and asked her whether she thought it possible that the multitudes of
stars pursued their courses with so much exactness, and that day and night, and summer and winter, succeeded each other uninterruptedly without some over-ruling hand ? She said that the earth had ever been, and would ever continue. I asked why man did not continue, and what became of his immortal part ? She said age and infirmity rendered it necessary that he should die, and so make room for other generations; but the idea of the soul existing in a future state she completely ridiculed. I appealed to the Scriptures, the inspiration of which of course she did not believe. She said they were written in the dark ages, to keep the ignorant in subjection. I pointed to the standard of morals they presented, and asked, whether, if we lived up to them, our world would not be a little heaven upon earth?
I should not injure you, neither would you wrong
She confessed they were very well for ignorant people; but that she paid no attention to such nonsense.
A long conversation ensued, which only tended to show how bewildered is the mind when left to reason alone, without the light of the Scriptures and love to God. I regretted I was unable to argue with her. To the plain test of truth – the Scriptures-she would not come, and seemed to pity those who did. At length we reached our port, ạnd our passenger departed to visit her friends.
“A short time after this the lady came on board, and took her passage to return with us to London. We left our harbour with fine weather and a fair wind; but had not been long out at sea before every thing indicated an approaching storm, which in a very short time came on with much fury. The wind was boisterous and contrary, on which occasions much anxiety for personal safety is often felt by those who are accustomed to the perils of the sea; while those who are unaccustomed to such scenes are very often much distressed. This was the case with the lady above referred to. During the prevalence of the wind, she appeared much agitated. On my going on one occasion into the cabin, she inquired whether the wind appeared to abate ? I replied, that there were no such symptoms at present; when, with a look of deep concern, and calling me by my name, she said, “Oh, Mr. pray for a fair wind !' • Pray, Madam !' said I, “to whom shall I pray?' She blushingly answe
wered, I don't know.' Neither,' replied I, according to your account, do I know.'
She appeared much confounded; and, during the remainder of the voyage, very reserved.