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THE MARINERS' CHURCH
SOLDIERS' & SAILORS' MAGAZINE:
RESPECTFUL ADDRESS TO CAPT. ELLIOT of the SAILORS' HOME
To Captain Elliott, Superintending Manager and Honorary Secretary of the Sailors' Home and the Destitute Sailors' Asylum, in Well Street, London Docks. Honored Sir-Permit me to address you respecting the origin of those two excellent establishments now under your philanthropic care and direction. I have just been this afternoon of Saturday, November S0th, 1844, to examine the ruins about Dock Street, at the back of your two excellent buildings in Well Street, and my mind is solemnly impressed with the deepest conviction that all this great work has been immediately from God, aud to him is all the glory justly due. Neverthelessaccording to the examples of Scripture, and the common usage of society, the chief instruments employed in founding and rearing great buildings, or commencing and establishing great works of charity and usefulness, are dem servedly mentioned, and their names and their labors are recorded as stimulating examples to future generations. Hence we have lately heard so much of Gresham and the committee who have erected the Royal Exchange, for the commerce and navigation of the British Empire. Allowme then, sir, humbly and respectfully to remind you that, in the order of Divine Providence, it pleased God to make me the founder, and you the reurer and finisher of those valuable buildings and institutions over which you now so happily and efficiently preside. In naming this, far be it from me to arrogate any praise to myself-God forbid !-I am in myself less : than nothing and vanity, and chief of sinners, but the blessed Apostle Paul was once driven to write what might appear as pride, but he provided for this by remarking, “ Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labors; and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand." “ But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."2 Cor. x. Yet he added in the 12th Chapter, to the church at Corinth,
I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me ; for I ought to have been commended of you; for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing." I do not mean to compare myself with this eminent
servant of God, but, seeing how the Lord has blessed the design of the Sailors' Home, I desire, aud feel it a duty, humbly and thankfully, to trace the operations of his hand, as Nehemiah did in the building of the walls of Jerusalem. I have seen newspaper accounts of many meetings held in London and the country for the Asylum and the Home, particularly at Plymouth, where many clergymen, officers, and gentlemen speak in the higbest strain of grateful admiration respecting those buildings, and with ali due honor and thankfulness, to you, sir, for
2 The Origin sf a Sailors' Asylum and a Sailors' Home. your noble, exertions, but not the slightest allusion to the humble indivi dual whom it pleased God to originate the whole. I do not complain of this, but I owe it to those friends who have kindly contributed to our British and Foreign Seamen, Soldiers, and Steamers' Friend Society, and to the Mariners' Church, where the Asylum and the Home originatedand I owe it, also, to the glory of Divine grace—to demonstrate that such contributions and such grace have not been in vain. It is now, Captain Elliot, seventeen years since your attention was first drawn towards East London through your brother officer and friend, Captain George Gambier, of the Royal Navy. A dissenting minister had published a violent book against mé, at the request of a society, and I understood it was that book which first brought Captain G. from the West-end of our metropolis, to examine for himself, by a personal visit to Wellclose-square, in the autumn of 1827. He favoured me with a visit at No. 20 in this square, and seeing so many shipwrecked and distressed sailors continually round my door-as had been the case for two years—he proposed taking a room as an office of me, in our Mariners' House, at No 19 in the square, that he might enquire into those cascs, and afford some aid to relieve me and our society of this heavy burden. The room was taken, and the next week you know, sir, that I provided him with the late Mr. Sergent, who had just returned as chief imate of a ship from Russia, and was recommended to me by his brother at Macclesfield. This you are aware, Captain Elliot, was the simple origin of all the Sailors’ Asylums and Sailors' Homes in the world, when I had not the honor of your acquaintance, and was personnally unknown to you ; but this circumstance, connected with my taking the Mariners' Church in 1825, and being obliged to remove from Cornwall to settle in this square, and commence the first land establishment for the religious instruction of sailors in England, is the more remarkable, in the providence of God. You know, also, that Mr. Sergent was conjointly the agent of Capt. G. in our house, and the Bethel missionary of our society; and, after awhile, we were favoured with your visit to the Mariners' Church, and our acquaintance commenced; but you will remember that I never heard one word from your friend, or yourself, during 1827, about either an asylum, or a home, or a society ; and, your own circular acknowledges that you never intended either, but merely as naval: officers and Christians to afford a little temporal relief to well authenticated cases of shipwreck and maritime destitution.
THE OÍIGIN OF A SAILORS' ASYLUM AND SAILORS' HOME. The time is fast approaching, Captain Elliot, that should remind you and me, and excite our mutual gratitude to that God' who graciously advanced the growth of this grain of mustard seed to which our divine Master so appropiately. compares the kingdom of heaven, or the cause of God in the world; or, when the clond, the bigness of a man's hand, rising out of the sea, should prepare the way for the Asylum, the Home, and your society. That time will be next New Year's morning, in 1845, when it will be seventeen years since 1 first conceived the idea of a Destitute Sailors' Asylum, on the morning of 1828, about 3 a.m., after the interesting watch night at oar Mariners' Church, 'when neither you or Captain G. were present, or
Shipwrecked Destitute Sailors Perishing in Dock Street. resided nearer to us than the West End, in the neighborhood of Regentstreet. The occasion that gave rise to this design I shall briefly relate. I bad announced at the close of 1827, that on our usual sailors' watch night, Dee. 30th, I should have a humble meal of bread and cheese provided for sech shipwrecked and distressed sailors as might be utterly destitute; and, for this purpose, I had bills printed and circulated at the expense of our society, inviting distressed seamen alongshore. I called on some friends for subscriptions, but Captain Elliot will please to recollect that on this occasion I did not trouble him or his brother officers for any assistance, and that they were entirely free from any charge or connection with this meeting that led to such important results. Our watch night as usual, began at Op.m., Dec. 30th, 1827, and closed at 1 a.m., Jan. Ist., 1828, when all the shipwrecked and destitute sailors were arranged on forms, and about twenty persons attended to serve out bread and cheese plentifully for them. This so much resembled our Lord feeding the five thousand by the instrumentality of his disciples, who were chicily fishermen of Galilee, that I addressed the sailors, and reminded them of this miracle, directing them to the Lord Jesus Christ as their great feeder and supporter on the present occasion. This humble meal with the half-starved sea-faring guests lasted until 3 a.m., when we closed the night with solemn prayer and praise. This was the time, Captain Elliot, when the first idea of a Sailors' Asylum occurred to me. (Thus, when holding the first generally advertised meeting for preaching to sailors, in a tier of ships, on board the Agenora, of Scarborough, Capt. Posgate, on the river Thames, the sight of so many boats pulling up alongside, and a-head, and astern, to attend the meeting in 1817, first suggested to me the idea of a ship as a floating chapel, which I was enabled ultimately to have established.) When the sailors had finished their meal in the Mariners' Church, at 3 a.m., Jan. 1st, 1828, we were obliged to dismiss them from the Mariners' Church, and close the doors; but, as they were totally pennyless and houseless, they had to walk the streets, and I was really locked, as a minister and a sailor, to think of the horrid neglect of my country in general, and the religious world in particular, who had never cared for sailors (upon whom the whole country depends) so much as to provide an asylum for them in distress. SHIPWRECKED, DESTITUTE SAILORS PERISHING IN DOCK STR.
I determiued, therefore, this new year's day, after a few hours' sleep, that, at least, they should have a shelter from the inclemency of the cold, and frost, and snow of winter, if nothing more could be done. We had then a large sea boys' day school, and the school-master was Bethel agent of our society in No. 19 of this square, as our Mariners' House for busi
I, therefore, requested him this New Year's Day of, 1828 to go out into the lanes of the immediate neighbourhood and see what empty warehouse or loft was to let. He was engaged for two days in this enquiry, and Captain Elliot will recollect that I never consulted him, or Captain Gambier, or any one else, I can assure him, upon this business, but simply proceeded in humble dependence on the Lord my God, from a conviction of duty and an impression of faith that the Lord would bless the work. Here, then, I pause for a moment, and beg that Captain Elliot; and all