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Old Sailor of Southwark, 125.
Mate and Infidel Lady on board, 156.
Sailor! there is hope for thee! 374.
Reflections on reading the Pilot for August, 298.
Life and Death, 371.
Report of the Committee on Shipwrecks, 289.
· Shall Seamen perish ?. 82.
Temperance Bethel Flag, 323.
Thames Missionary at Gravesend, 176, 277, 377.
Ramsgate, 176, 276.
Visit to a Coast Guard Station, 159.
Sailors’ Boarding House, 134,
Watchfulness of Admiral Boys, 367.
Ship missing, 342.
Friends of Sailors may essentially promote their interests, by
FOR JANUARY, 1836.
A NEW YEAR'S INQUIRY, • Shall we continue to neglect the souls of our 220,000
CHRISTIAN Britain! generous and sympathizing with the suffering and degraded of all nations, is yet deeply guilty in relation to the hundreds of thousands of our maritime labourers. Are they, indeed, undeserving of regard, that while the most serious, convincing, and heart-stirring appeals are ever being made to the churches on behalf of the heathen, sailors seldom find an advocate among any of our Christian patriots—the people of God?
Rev. W. Jay, we remember, some years ago, in preaching a missionary sermon in London, took for his text the following words :—“ And they said one to another, we are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear.”—Gen. xlii, 21.
The design of the preacher, which he pursued with peculiar ingenuity in applying the passage of Scripture, was to lead his hearers to contemplate the ignorance, guilt, and misery of the heathen world—to recognize the hundreds of millions of pagans as brethren in our common nature, but alienated from God—to acknowledge their guilt in having neglected to care for their souls—and to resolve, in the Divine strength, to arise in zealous efforts for their evangelization and salvation.
That eminent servant of Christ was powerfully eloquent on this occasion, more remarkably so than common, and the effect corresponded with the object of the preacher; as many were constrained to feel truly guilty of neglecting the souls of the heathen.
British merchant seamen, however, have been grievously
neglected-in many instances to a degree fully equal to that even of the idolaters in pagan nations. Seamen in most parts seem to have been generally regarded, by many at least, as a hopeless race of men, hardly human; or as by their occupation so far cut off from society and religious ordinances, and so deeply immersed in disgusting habits, as to be almost beyond the power of reclaiming to holiness and the love of God!"
Seamen, it is, alas ! too true, painfully separated from society and domestic enjoyments, have in numerous instances been sunk in depraved and pernicious habits. It may not be possible to deny altogether the dark and appalling portraiture, that has been drawn both by the imagination and with the pen, of the degraded character and condition of our 'seamen ! But are there no mitigating circumstances which are clearly visible, and which arise from their occupation at sea, and their entertainment on land?
Deprived of the privileges of Christian ordinances, how are religious impressions likely to be produced on their minds? Or if previously stamped on their hearts by the power of divine truth, are they not likely, in such a disadvantageous condition, to be weakened, obliterated, or eradicated ? Especially considering the numerous and powerful temptations from “ the world, the flesh, and the devil,” and in their grossest forms, while in port, whether in their own native country or in foreign lands ? Who that is at all acquainted with human nature, unrestrained by the sanctions of religion, and uninfluenced by the grace of God, can wonder at young men- - sailors-or even those in advanced life, falling into temptations and sins in sea-ports, not having the sweet sanctuary of a domestic home? Enticements of various kinds to indulge in excess, intemperance, and impurities which cannot here be named, await the unsuspecting seaman, when he reaches his home-port; and tens of thousands have fallen victims of disease and remorse, by their guilty tempters of both sexes, enemies alike of their present and eternal welfare! Multitudes of these unhappy men may be daily seen in circumstances of wretchedness, disease, and despondency, as if abandoned by God and man, in the ports of Hull, Bristol, and Liverpool, but especially in the port of London.
Seamen, possessing equal susceptibilities with landsmen, could not have been thus sunk in irreligion and alienation from God, had there been suitable provision made for their
spiritual welfare; and till within about the last twenty years scarcely any one, even among the ministers of the Gospel, seemed to consider them as capable of genuine godliness, especially while occupied in business on the mighty ocean. During this period that delusion has been in a good degree dissipated, and many of the ministers of Christ have exhibited a laudable zeal and solicitude to include even seamen within the compass of their commission as given by the Son of God. Nevertheless seamen, it is painfully manifest, are still neglected to a most culpable extent, with few individual exceptions, by all denominations of Christians in Great Britain !
Loyalty to God our Saviour, and Christian consistency, alike require that every one professing to believe the Gospel, should lay the case of neglected sailors to heart, and inquire, “Who ought to care for the souls of seamen?” This important question shall engage our present attention, for the sake of seamen themselves, for the honour of our country, and for the glory of our common Christianity.
1. Ministers and churches in our great sea-ports ought to care for the souls of seamen.
Having such masses of the maritime population always before their eyes, they are doubtless best acquainted with the habits, and characters, and moral necessities of seamen. Unquestionably it is their duty to seek, in every practicable way, to provide the means of salvation for this peculiar class of the community; and many of the churches, with their pastors, of different denominations, do manifest the most praişeworthy zeal in self-denying labour to promote their everlasting interests. Liverpool, Bristol, Hull, Plymouth, Sunderland, and several of the smaller ports, have been distinguished by these evangelical labours of love, and many sailors, once sunk in irreligious and evil courses, have cause to bless “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” for having inclined his servants to regard them, making their endeavours effectual to bring them to the knowledge of his great salvation and hope of eternal glory. All professing Christians, however, in sea-ports, have not worthily endeavoured to promote the spiritual benefit of sailors ; though they are so familiar with their privations, temptations, and religious destitution : and in many cases those who have entered upon the generous but arduous work have declined in zeal and enterprise, through inability to sustain the burden of the service, without the general co-operation of Christians.