Page images

could I present a picture the very reverse of this, respecting those who are filling other situations on board our ships. Alas! I cannot. In many things they are far removed from the unsophisticated tar, because birth and education make them so; but in those things affecting their eternal welfare, they are all alike; lost to themselves, to happiness, and to heaven.

It is true that our seamen have the Bible, and that on board men-of-war they are obliged on the Lord's day to attend divine service; but these means, though valuable in themselves, fail in the good effect they are calculated to produce through the dreadful indifference of the men, and the irreligion of the officers. Some of the king's ships have chaplains, but nearly all of them are unconverted men, who live, as those

about them, equally unconcerned for their own, and the spiritual welfare of the never-dying souls committed to their charge. While these things continue, and captains, and other officers, delight in ridiculing and opposing everything of a religious nature, we cannot hope to see our seamen even moral characters.

Sailors, however steady they might have been ere they left their homes, soon exhibit deplorable proofs of a departure from all that is “ lovely, and of good report.” A ship is a dreadful nursery for immorality, and ungodliness. It is a circle in which vice acts with celerity, vigour, and success. The tide of corruption which flows on board a ship, sweeps all before it, and it requires a powerful force to stop it; but, alas ! there are very few officers, either in the king's, or merchants' employ, who exert themselves for the cause of truth and righteousness. The majority are compelled to reprove open dereliction, but oh! what a fatal stab does their example give to precept. None cry out by their lives and conversation, “Let us now fear the Lord our God.”

Though, in these remarks, I have chiefly adverted to the character and condition of sailors in the navy, or as it is understood the king's service; what I have said respecting them may be said also of the thousands in the merchant service. The same features distinguish their characters, though their condition is somewbat varied. Seamen on board merchant ships are miserably off, as to means of religious instruction. Year succeeds year, and

the majority scarcely visit a place of worship, much more hear the sound of the gospel, and they really might say, “ no man careth for my soul.”

The number of men employed at the present time in the navy and merchant service, amount to about 500,000; and from all I know, I should suppose, that there are no more than five godly men in every hundred. *

If this conjecture be near the truth, it leads to the distressing conclusion, that 475,000 of our fellow-immortals are perishing for lack of knowledge.

Christians! deeply consider these things, and do not suppose that

you have done enough in forming different societies for their present and eternal

Perhaps there is not near that number, but I would rather overrate it than be thought uncharitable.


good ; but pray earnestly to God that he may pour out his blessed Spirit upon them, to make them concerned for their precious souls. They are a very useful, and oh! pray that they may be made a very happy class of

Entreat the Lord to bless them with godly officers and pious chaplains ; men after his own heart, who may be instrumental in winning souls unto Christ. Officers and men have a great claim upon your pity, and prayers;

be not therefore weary in well-doing, but pour out your hearts unto the dear Redeemer, that the superior may set an example, and watch over the inferior; and that every officer may be led by a holy determination for the Saviour, to say to those around him, “ we are journeying to the place of which the Lord said, I will give it thee; come

« PreviousContinue »