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ptations ! what trials! what difficulties may I not have to encounter! How much do I need line
line and precept upon precept! Yet all is lost—10—my blessed Saviour will not leave me! My heavenly Father will not in anger cast me off for ever—I feel confident his Holy Spirit will go with me—And O Eternal Lord God! if thy spirit does accompany me, it is sufficient—Thou hast declared that all things shall work together for good to them that love thee-O Lord Jesus Christ! thou knowest this is my desire-O that I could confide more fully for time and eternity in thine unchangeable righteousness and love; for in this place of sin and iniquity thou art yet present in abundant mercy, and thy strength is sufficient—Oh it is best even for me to possess no power in the heavenly warfare! for when I am weak then am I strong in thee.”
Again, I observe, I shall make no apology for this production. The christian reader will sympathise with the stat-ef mind which dictated it, and give me credit, when I say that at the time I wrote it, I no more expected it would live to this day, or be laid before the public, than I expected it to be transmitted to the Emperor of China.—After a few days, I became composed, and applied my leisure hours to reading the Scriptures and such works on divinity as my kind friend and minister had recommended, and I hope I may say I grew in the right knowledge and experience of God's word, and in some measure of resignation to the divine will. But at the end of six or eight months, like the lepers in the Syrian camp, my conscience smote me; and I -said, “ This is the day of good tidings, and I hold my
peace.” Here are more than six hundred souls famish. ing in spiritual want, perishing for lack of knowledge ; they have not worshipped God, even in the form of Sabbath worship, for these five years past; they have had few, very few Bibles—no man has cared for their souls. I could not but feel my superior mercies, and I trembled at the thought of uselessly burying my little talent of knowledge and influence in the earth. But what to do, under all the many and great existing difficulties, I knew not; unless it were to introduce to the captain the subject of reading prayers on the Sunday to the ship's crew. As this was done on board many ships by the commander, or one of the commissioned officers, there was a distant hope of bringing the same about in the C- But full of fears and cautions, I passed day after day without finding any opportunity of introducing the subject. At length to my great joy, the very thing was done by the captain himself at his dinner-table, where religion happened to be brought on the carpet by some of the company.
I need hardly say, that on such an occasion many silly things were advanced, particularly on the point of acceptance, or justification with God. All had given their opinions, except the captain and myself, and had agreed that all religions and creeds were alike acceptable to God, provided men were but sincere in what they professed; and that he who did as he would be done by here, was sure of doing well hereafter, or, in other words, of going to heaven. It had been captain P.'s privilege, when on shore, to live near a pious minister, and occasionally to enjoy his public instructions and private conversation.
These had not been in vain; they had certainly furnished his head with much right knowledge, whatever the state of his heart might be. When, therefore, he gave his sentiments on the subject in debate, he confuted what had been advanced, alleging that, as God had imparted his will to man in the Scriptures, it was not left to man's choice to form a creed suited to his own fancies. I heartily seconded him, and added a few words to prove that neither our scanty performance of relative duties, nor our self-made creeds, could justify us before God, who had appointed his only begotten Son to be wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption to a lost world, and that there “was none other name given under heaven, whereby men could be saved, but only that of Jesus Christ." The only reply which followed my few observations was from captain P. himself, in these words: “You preach very well, M-s, and you shall read prayers next Sunday, if you will." My heart leaped with joy. I thanked him, and offered my willing services as often as the weather and public duty would allow. And now the news ran through the ship like lightning, that M—s was to preach next Sunday. Some smiled, others marvelled; but I secretly rejoiced, and thanked God for having thus favourably and unexpectedly opened such a door, and for having proved better to me than all my hopes and expectations. As this was early in the week, I had some opportunities of talking the matter over with the captain, and saying that I had a volume of plain discourses, short, and well adapted to the crew, if he would permit me to read one after
“Do as you like," was the answer.
At length Sunday came: the day was remarkably fine. No public duty intervened to set aside this holy
The church was rigged,* the bell rang, and the captain, officers, and entire crew soon took their seats, according to that order and discipline which prevails in ships of war. Much as I had longed for, and pleased and rejoiced as I certainly was at the sight, yet it confounded me. More than six hundred bare heads and attentive looks, all directed to myself, as I advanced to my stand, were more terrible than the muzzles of so many frowning cannon had ever been; a nervous feverish heat actually dried up my tongue, and nearly prevented articulation, which, of course much increased my confusion; in short, this proved one of the most formidable undertakings I had ever embarked in. I literally trembled, while I read through the prayers; and more so, if possible, when I came to the sermon. At length I got through the service, and retired to my cabin, full of confusion and self-reproach, in that I had not looked
with sufficient earnestness to God for a realising sense of his presence, as the only thing that could deliver me from this snare this fear of man.
O what a poor inconsistent creature is man! who fears the presence of a fellow-mortal more than the eye of his Maker, who shrinks more appalled at the censure of a
* A maritime phrase for clearing away and fitting up a convenient part of the ship, sufficient to seat the whole crew. This is done sometimes between decks, and sometimes on the quarter or upper deck. Stools are placed and flags of different colours suspended round the sides and over-head, so as to form an enclosed place, and to produce a pleasing effect.
worm like himself
, than he does at the threatenings of Omnipotence-O Lord God of mercy! pardon thy servant's many, many offences in this particular, from this first public instance of his weakness, even unto the present day. And henceforth give him grace not only to stand up in thy name, but to speak the word with all boldness as he ought to speak who advocates the cause of the King of kings, and Lord of lords !
As the ship continued several weeks off the mouth of Brest harbour, and frequently at anchor, we had service almost every Sunday, not only to all the officers and crew in the forenoon, but I obtained permission to read the Evening Prayers, and a sermon between decks, to such as chose to attend; these were generally about two hundred. That delightful part of divine worship, the singing to the praise and glory of God, was as yet wanting in our assembly. As we had a band on board, I thought it not impossible to form a choir, if I could prevail on some of the men to learn a few plain tunes, and to bear the reproach of “ Psalm-singers,” (a term of derision and contempt, among common seamen, even where there is no such thing as sacred music, or an attempt at it.) Here, again, I succeeded beyond my expectation. For having, on enquiry, found three or four men who formerly sang at church, or in chapels, they consented to meet the master of the band, and such young beginners as chose to practise. In short, in a very little time, we mustered ten or twelve vocal performers, who, with two clarionets and a bass, produced much better harmony than many country parish singers do. It was truly gratifying to witness the attention and apparent interest