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"COME AND HELP US!"
SUCH is the call which is daily reiterated in our ears; and it comes from every direction. It is the cry of the sailor, and of the sailors' friend. It is loud, urgent, and importunate. It is addressed to the whole christian church. And can the christian church turn a deaf ear to such a call? Can she be indifferent to the melting overtures of those who, in so many ways, subserve her interests, and facilitate her designs? It is in vain that we are directed to either HOME or FOREIGN missions, if our seamen are still left out of our calculation, and still denied the means of instruction and salvation. Now there are those who are willing to embark in this sacred cause, if but encouraged and sustained by the aid of the Parent Institution. Must we repress these energies? Must we deny them the pleasure of being co-workers with us in this department of labour?
At SUNDERLAND, it is in contemplation to unite the seaman's 'cause with an existing lower agency; at NEWCASTLE, measures are in progress for the establishment of a permanent chaplaincy; and agents are wanted in several large ports in IRELAND. In AMSTERDAM, the Reverend the Presbytery of the Reformed Church is now maturing a plan of benevolent effort, in which special regard is had to seamen. At RIGA, ELSINORE, CONSTANTINOPLE, and in several foreign ports, there exist numerous facilities for successful exertions among the sons of the ocean. But in every one of these cases, HELP is required, Either, therefore, they must be neglected, or our funds must be greatly increased. "He that soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound towards you; that ye always, having all-sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work; being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness."
AGENT'S MEETING:-HELD ON THURSDAY MORNING, 17th JUNE.
At this monthly concert, the Directors united with the agents in commending Captain GILLETT, one of the members of the Board, in solemn prayer to God, previous to his departure to Sydney. He has
embarked to that distant colony on special business; and, as he contemplated an absence of some years, the Committee felt that they could not give the Captain a better expression of their interest in his welfare, both temporal and spiritual, than in thus unitedly supplicating the presence and blessing of God on his behalf. It was a season of deep and solemn interest.
Junior Thames Missionary. - Mr. WELCH.-In drawing up a report, I always find a great difficulty, arising from having much to say, and little room to say it in, and, frequently, a very limited time for either; so that, at best, a scanty outline is all that can be expected.
"Bethel Flag not wanted here.”
So said the mate of a ship, which I boarded a few days ago, in the upper pool, to request the use of her deck for an agent to preach the gospel of Christ, -"The Bethel flag is not wanted here." Enquiring into the cause, he said,— "Our captain is sailing on the other tack." "What, (said I,) is he trying to get through the short voyage of life without religion altogether!" "Yes, (he said,) and I'm afraid we're all steering by his compass." On asking him, how this course would do in the straits of death, he became serious, and looked like a man awakened out of sleep; which gave me an opportunity of saying much more to him, on the subject of his personal salvation. He listened with great attention. Leaving him with a tract in his hand, he said,-" He thought he must down with the helm at once, and try to fetch the Bethel meeting tonight." May a blessing meet him there.
Thus, although the Bethel flag, in some instances, is rejected, opportunities are afforded for useful conversation, and from which, I have reason to believe, under the divine blessing, real good has resulted. The reception I
have met with on board most other ships is widely different, the flag is eagerly grasped at, and reluctantly parted with; indeed, on some occasions, not given up till a promise is granted of another service as early as possible.
Since the summer season has entered, my meetings have been held generally upon deck; and, although trying to the constitution, it has given many more an opportunity of hearing the word of life. Since May 5th, I have held thirteen services afloat, at which, exclusive of those who have heard from a distance, 260 have been present. Many of whom have engaged in solemn and earnest prayer for the divine blessing to be poured down upon themselves and all around. I have had the pleasure of dedicating four fresh ships to the Bethel cause, and about as many more captains have united in the same work.
Visitation of Shipping.—I have visited the crews of about 400 ships on the river, including the London and St. Katherine's Docks,-have obtained for the Society's agents fourty-four ships, for evening services, on the different stations, distributed hundreds of tracts -and entered into conversation with many a sailor on the interests of his soul.
Billingsgate Market.—In this scene of general confusion and dissipation, divine service has been conducted on each sabbath afternoon. I have held six services in company with some of
the Society's agents and other friends; also in East Smithfield, near the London Docks, I have held services three Sunday evenings; also, at Stepney, I preached three times during the fair. These open air services have been attended by great numbers, and not a few sailors, who had been led there by ungodly associates, have heard the warnings of the gospel, and received religious tracts. May the divine blessing accompany them!
Sailors' Boarding-houses, I have visited, on Sabbath mornings, as usual. Many of these continue still to be the nurseries of every vice; however, permission is still granted to administer advice and instruction; and I am most happy, when I can bring a group of them with me to the Sailors' Chapel, in which I have sometimes succeeded.
Visitation of the Sick.-Again and again I have been called to visit the chambers of the sick and dying. On one occasion, I was called to be the bearer of heavy tidings to a tender fe. male, who had become a widow, under the most distressing circumstances. I found her surrounded by five small children, all under seven years, and herself but recently confined. To look upon this victim of sorrow, was a sad sight. She was unconscious of my errand. We bowed the knee to supplicate the support of Him, who said,- Leave thy fatherless children to me, and let thy widows trust in me.' It was with trembling I could proceed, with a bible in my hand, to inflict the dreadful wound. I said,-"I hope your husband's soul is in heaven. You are a lonely widow, and your children are fatherless, he was drowned last night, on his way from his ship to his desired home, by a fall from the boat." At that moment, I felt that the God of providence had laid upon me, to a certain extent, a helpless widow and her little ones. To the same Being I have reason to be thankful for the friends he
has raised up in her behalf. And I feel it to be my duty, and take this opportunity of acknowledging the kindness of those friends of humanity, who came forward to assist at this time of extreme need. And it will be a satisfaction for these friends to know, that by the divine blessing upon their efforts, she is placed in a situation, in which, by industry she will obtain a livelihood for herself and helpless orphans.
MR. PALMER'S REPORT.-Since my last report, I have humbly endeavoured to supply the lack of service of my brother agent, Capt. Prynn, who has been from London to further the interests of the Society, by advocating its claims in Sunderland, etc. In the lower pool, which reaches from Rotherhithe church to Limehouse, there is a great number of ships lying in tiers; on board many of which I have held Bethel services, several nights of the week; which, generally considered, have been very well attended. An excellent spirit prevails among seamen themselves: this is evident from the following circumstances, which have come to my notice.-One captain came on purpose, from Bugsby Hole, near Woolwich, where his vessel was lying, to our establishment at Bell wharf, for the purpose of obtaining an agent from this society; and paying the expenses himself, to go down the river with him to his ship, fearing he should be so entirely occupied in business, while in the lower pool, as to prevent the opportunity of having a religious service on board his ship. It is his intention to bestow some expense in fitting up part of his ship, that Bethel services, in future, may be more convenient and comfortable, to all that may attend. After one of my meetings, at which the Spirit of God in the exercise of earnest prayer was eminently bestowed, I was peculiarly pleased with the conversation of the captain of the ship.-'Captain, it was good to be here to-night!'
'He is the best of men: that seaman, sir, is my father! In early life, I was taught in a Sunday school, where, I trust, serious impressions were produced on my mind. I afterwards was apprenticed to a sea-faring life; and, unfortunately, fell in with a blaspheming master and a drunken crew. The Lord occasionally visited me during my apprenticeship; but evil communications corrupt good manners. I resolved in my own strength, at the close of my apprenticeship to serve. God; — but through the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the deceitfulness of the human heart, my course was the path of unrighteousness. So I continued for some years, God occasionally visiting me. At last I resolved to marry, and live to God; accordingly, looking out for a suitable person, I became a husband, and still deferred that attention which was necessary for the salvation of my soul. In the end, my father was taken ill. His illness increased; no one expected his life. Happening to be at home at that time, I sat up with him several nights; and on one night, which night I shall never forget, while he and I were alone, he fixed his eyes full upon me. I said, 'Father, there is something on your mind?' In a half-whisper, for his voice was nearly gone, he said,— 'My son, there is, and it is you; I have prayed for you-I have prayed for you for many years. I cannot pray for you now!'
This broke my strong heartbrought me to my knees; and in language which I cannot now describe, I cried to God for mercy. God was gracious to my soul; he pardoned my sins, and blessed me abundantly. My father, seeing this, rejoiced; from that time he
gradually recovered. He is now with me in this ship. We are uniting to serve God together; and, if I can help it, I will never separate as long as I live.'
A short time since, a captain's son, an interesting lad eighteen years of age, whose father had a service on board his ship, after attending the prayer-meetings several nights, was favourably impressed. He bought a sailors' hymnbook for his use at sea, and signed the pledge to abstain from all intoxicating drinks.
Tuesday, May 18th, preached on the deck of the 'Ann,' of Goole, Capt. S., a Bethel captain in Regent's Dock, Limehouse. The captain of this ship hoisted the Bethel flag, for the first time, at Goole, on his last voyage home, on board his vessel. The service was attended by 300 persons. The inhabitants have requested a Bethel flag for the place. The ministers of different denominations offered to co-operate in the sailor's cause; and the owner of the ship was so much interested, that he offered ten pounds towards a place for seamen, where they might assemble together for the public worship of Almighty God.
I have felt pleasure in being able to attend to additional labours, for some of my brother agents, who have been prevented from fulfilling their engagements, by afflictions and bereavements in their respective families.
I also continue to attend the Lord'sday evening service, on board the large steam ships, as previously reported. At one of these services, some of the officers of the British Queen' attended, and expressed their gratification, and invited me on board that spacious steam packet.
Amidst all the changes of men and events, I am cheered by meeting again with our tried friend, Capt. R., who is not only a Bethel captain at home, but abroad, just returned from Hamburgh, etc, where Bethel meetings have been
held on board his ship; and at which place, he states, the sailor's cause is going on well. He told me, that his pledge-book, in favour of temperance, contains the names of sixty seamen. Several new ships I have dedicated to the Bethel cause.
A sailor's daughter has been benefitted by the preaching of the gospel, at Bell-wharf chapel, and become a teacher in the Sunday school.
In addition to a variety of requests from seamen's wives and seamen's mothers, publicly to pray for their husbands and sons, while far off at sea, I received a special invitation to meet at a sailor's house, some time ago, with his family and friends, on the last night before his departure on a foreign voyage; the benefit of which, to himself, he has since acknowledged with gratitude and praise to the Divine Being.
Would to God that engagements, similar to this, were more frequent among seamen generally; but, alas! they are singular-they are rare!
The principles of total abstinence are widely prevailing among many of the sailors whom I have met, at our different religious services.
courage (yet not without some things to depress the spirit) while employed in the delightful work of sowing the seed of the word of God among our seamen. On many occasions the services have been well attended; and in a few instances, more would have been with us, had there been room; while some have appeared to be much impressed under the word. May it, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, prove effectual to the salvation of their souls. In other instances the numbers in attendance have been few, although there were many in the tier where the flag was flying, inviting them to the footstool of divine mercy. Yet amid those discouragements it was good to be there the Lord mercifully fulfilling his gracious promise-'Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.'
Many prayers have been presented to God for the outpouring of the Spirit on seamen and that the time may speedily arrive, when they shall all, with one heart and voice, praise Him with joyful lips, for his great love and mercy manifested toward them in Christ Jesus. May these prayers be heard, and the publication of the gospel of our Lord and Saviour produce this happy effect.
There have been seven vessels set apart for the worship of the Almighty, during the above-mentioned time.
Extracts from the Journal of Mr. Kæving, during the year 1840.