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with which the greater part of the crew now attended the worship of God. But there was a sad want of Bibles, Prayer Books, and other pious works. This evil, however, was partly removed on our going into port to be paid; as I obtained permission to apply to the Naval and Military Bible Society, from whom we obtained sixty-four Bibles. These, together with some hundreds of good little tracts, being the publications of the Religious Tract Society, I obtained permission to circulate, and saw distributed among the crew, and had the satisfaction of knowing that every mess possessed a copy of the Scriptures. Seldom, from that time forward, did I go between decks without seeing some of the crew reading them.
As soon as possible after this I applied for and obtained permission to form a public library of religious books on the following plan. Every member subscribed four shillings, and was entitled to have one book in his possession, and to ehange it for any other as often as he pleased; and, in the event of leaving the ship, to take one or more volumes with him as his own. ser's steward undertook to keep the library chest, and receive and give out the books. Most of the officers gave a gratuitous sum. Our number of subscribers exceeded a hundred and fifty, and our library, when purchased, contained above two hundred volumes of pious, evangelical works, two-thirds of which were always in circulation. Thus, from a state of barrenness, as to the Scriptures and good books, we were soon and easily in possession of abundance: for it must be observed, that many of the crew furnished themselves with Prayer
Books, besides their subscriptions to the library. The next object was to form a day-school for the poor boys. This was soon done, and was daily inspected by myself, and often visited by the captain. The singers, when their duty would permit, still continued to meet between six and eight o'clock, in a retired part of the ship; not that it was necessary to do so merely to practise singing, but, having for several weeks enjoyed this retreat from the noise and folly of the crew, they knew not how to give it up; nor could I find it in my heart to order it. On the contrary, I sometimes went below, and read a chapter or a tract, or a passage from some of our library books, as well for my own edification as for theirs.
Most thoroughly was I aware of my own need of instruction, and gladly should I have received lessons had there been any one to give them. This, however, was not the case; and as the
fellows were still more ignorant than myself, and willing to be instructed, I felt it a duty in these evening readings, when passages occurred, either in the Bible and other books, which I thought they did not understand quite so well as myself, to endeavour, for a few minutes, to simplify and explain them, and then to read on again, and conclude with prayer, much in the way as many heads of families conduct their evening worship. This done, I dismissed them with a few injunctions to be attentive to their public duties, as the first and best way of reducing to practice what they had heard. Little did I then think that this was the first leading-step towards the pastoral office. Our apartment was soon unable to hold those who came,
attended without the canvas curtains
which inclosed it. Nor were my hearers confined to the poor seamen and marines; but some of the midshipmen, and now and then one of the commissioned officers, came to hear M-s preach, as they termed my
read ings. In this manner things went on for half a year, when the storm, which had been silently gathering, began to discharge itself, and the cry of Methodism was in the mouth of several of my brother officers, who knew not the meaning of the word. Added to this, many foolish and false reports got into circulation, as to 'some of the men preaching. This took its rise from the circumstance of a few of them occasionally reading and praying in their plain and honest way, on some evenings when I was not present. But our revilerscould not distinguish prayer from exposition. The same spirit of enmity was shortly displayed by the great bulk of the crew, as had been shown by their superiors. They stigmatized their comrades with the name of Wingers ; * and though no one ventured to speak openly before me on the subject, yet I heard of many ungenerous things that were uttered in
absence. I had endeavoured to sit down and count the cost of my undertakings; but such was the fury of the storm when it first broke out, that it beat me down for a season, and, I fear, induced me almost to regret having done any thing beyond reading my Bible alone in my own cabin. But the Lord was merciful--he remembered whereof I was made, and graciously strengthened my hands, by showing, at this very time, how he had owned that work
* From the place where we met being called the Wing.
which man despised. More than one or two instances presented themselves, of very abandoned characters earnestly enquiring what they must do to be saved, and, to the utter astonishment of all their companions, they held on in a new course of life and conversation-Yes!
“The wretch who once sang wildly, danc'd, and laugh’d,
Thus encouraged, I went on, endeavouring, by a strict attention to my public duties, and kindness to my brother officers, to do away any real cause of complaint, seldom introducing religious subjects, and never dogmatically thrusting my own opinions on others.
In this way, through the blessing of God, many of them were brought to acknowledge the reasonableness of seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteous
Oaths and unchaste conversation were almost entirely banished from our mess-room, and a blessing was regularly asked by the president at our meals. The visible improvement in many of the wingers was a loud-speaking testimony that our Methodism had been useful. The whole of the officers were convinced that I could carry on the public duty without swearing at the men; and that the men could also do theirs without uttering an oath, whenever I was on deck.
About this time a pleasing and indirect testimony was borne to the general improvement of the crew, by one whose words would have considerable weight with many, as never having been suspected of psalm-singing,
I mean General ***
who, being on the inspecting service, at Berry Head and Brixham, at the time the fleet put into Torbay, was invited on board by our captain. After he had gone over and examined the whole of the ship, he expressed his high gratification, and particularly remarked to captain B., that he had heard little or no swearing as he passed among the seamen; a circumstance which he considered very singular, and very different from what would have been found on a like occasion among so many troops in barracks. But although the senior lieutenant professed great friendship, and pretended to rejoice at the moral improvement of the crew, he was secretly an enemy to myself and the cause of religion in general. He was a weak and vain man.
He viewed me as one who was gaining an ascendency in the ship, far beyond his own; and his friends in port persuaded him that all our meetings were for mutinous purposes, or that they would end in such. This afforded a pretext for complaint to the captain, who was earnestly solicited to put an immediate and entire stop to all religious assemblies and religious proceedings in the ship; and so effectually did my adversary, in my absence, plead his cause, that orders were the same night issued that it should be as he required. The following day I requested an interview with the commander on the subject; when I endeavoured to show him the absurdity of all fears on the score of mutiny and insubordination, and appealed to facts in proof that the wingers were always obedient to command, ready at every call, and foremost in every danger. From this view and statement I appealed to conscience