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fought them. Blessed be God for his great goodness! During a long and trying period, he did not wholly pass by the suffering sons of the deep; for while the majority were sinfully exulting over victories, and priding themselves on the brilliant progress of our arms, he made a few poor sailors listen to the still small whisper of his voice, and in the midst of war and desolation, he caused some to rejoice in his mercy and love; mercy that is boundless, and love that passeth all understanding.
In the course of time, the religious world was awakened from its sinful lethargy, and individual effort soon became blended with public energy, till the Bethel Society, the British and Foreign Seamen's Society, the Naval Bible Society, and other excellent institutions sprang forth, to lead sailors to God.
But although much has been done for them, still the means are not at all commensurate with their wants. The harvest amongst them is very great, but the labourers very few. Here and there, we rejoice to say, that an humble Christian sailor is met with, but they are like the fruit on the topmost boughs, scarcely visible; and while a few are joyfully travelling to Zion, with their faces thitherward, thousands upon thousands are posting “ to the land of darkness and the shadow of death; a land of darkness, as darkness itself, and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness."*
Within a few years, a great deal has been done by the heads of the naval department, for the melioration of our
Their wants are liberally
* Job x. 21, 22.
supplied, and some attention is paid to their moral and religious state. The means of drunkenness are lessened; and Bibles, Prayer Books, and other good works, are distributed amongst them. This is very gratifying, and leads us to hope good things; but we are imperatively called upon to study their immediate good, and not to be blind to their present state. In whatever way the latter is viewed, it is exceedingly painful, and it presents a picture at which the feeling soul shudders. Inebriety, swearing, and other immoral acts, are expressly forbidden by the “ Articles of War,” and the general regulations of all ships; but the officers and men are not at all scrupulous in breaking them. It is true, that intoxication is generally punished, and comparatively speaking, it only exists to a small extent on board; but the dreadful vice is only smothered, not removed. The fear of punishment, the apprehension of disgrace, and an inability to procure liquor, restrain sailors afloat; but let them go on shore, their first care is to gratify the degrading and disgusting propensity to drunkenness. Swearing is as much interwoven with their speech, as ever; and though the presence of a superior often stops their blasting breath in public, it breaks forth in an awful strain whenever they are in their privacies. Follow a sailor into his retreat, seek him in his berth, and listen to him even in his bed-he utters the most dreadful oaths, cursings, and execrations. He lives in defiance of a merciful God, and delights in reviling his name.
on board, but oh! much more awful is it on shore. No sooner are they at liberty, than they give themselves up to the gratification of all manner of evil. It is a lamentable truth, that a sailor on shore, scarcely lives but for the satisfying of his lusts. Amidst numerous privations, he earns a little money, but rests not till he has squandered it in a course of life, equally destructive to body and soul. His labours and his enjoyments, are a perfect contrast. The sweat of his brow lasts for more years than his joy of heart for days; and what he has been years in gaining, he is frequently only hours in spending. His life is without pleasure, and his death without hope.
Such are the poor sailors who buffet the storm, and are the complete sport of the deep. How happy should I be,