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He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they (sarlors) glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Psalms.
SECOND ANNUAL REPORT
SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING THE GOSPEL AMONG SEAMEN IN THE PORT OF
Presented June 4, 1822. The proceedings of this Society for the last year, have chiefly been a continuance of the measures, the adoption of which was announced in their former report. And although they have nothing to boast of as to the greatness of their exertions, and much to lament on account of the backwardness of the commercial public in promoting objects so important as those pursued by this Society, yet they are grateful to the author of the Gospel, that their efforts to spread it among seamen are not wholly without success; that they are permitted, to some extent, however small, to witness the springing up of the good seed wbich has been sown, producing fruits which they would fain regard as the forerunners of a plentiful harvest.
Before entering into the details of their labours and success, they would call the attention of the public to the extraordinary number of disasters to ships and those sailing in them, which have occurred during the past year. Our own coasts have been visited with tempests of a most destructive character: and many of our seafaring countrymen have sunk in the ocean under the stabs of pirates. On the coasts of Europe an unusual number of sbipwrecks has taken place, accompanied with scenes of distress and death, calculated to excite the deepest feeling. On the coast of Jutland it is said that, during the past winter, more than fifteen hundred dead bodies of those who had suffered shipwreck had been found : and recently the loss of the Packet Ship Albion, Captain Williams, of this port, with more than forty souls, many of them known to us in the intercourse of society, some endeared to us in friendship, some of them seamen who have been indebted to the efforts of this Society for the last, perhaps the only offers of the Gospel ever made to them, and who have, in our Mariners' Church, either received the knowledge and love of the Redeemer or rejected the offers of his mercy, has given a melancholy memento to us of the importance of our labours and the necessity of renewed zeal and activity. The Directors would call the attention of the public to these things, not as affording any new proof of the uncertainty of life, or of the perilous nature of the employments of those for whom they labour, or of the importance of communicating the Gospel to those who are so soon to answer their judge for the deeds done in the body ; but as instances in which these common, these universally admitted but generally neglected truths have been illustrated in the most affecting manner. And in the light of such reflections as events like these ought to excite, the Directors would have the importance both of their enterprize and of their success viewed and appreciated.
The Directors will now proceed to render an account of their labours, and then mention the success which they have witnessed.
The Mariners' Church has been constantly occupied during the past year for the purposes for which it was erected. It has regularly been opened in the forenoon and evening of every Sabbath, for Divine worship, and the stated preaching of the Gospel. It has also been generally opened in the afternoon of every Sabbath, and the time occupied in prayer, and in the reading and communicating of religious intelligence by members of the board and others. And on the Wednesday evening of every week, a lecture and prayer meeting for seamen has been held in the room under the Church.
The Rev. Mr. Chase has continued in the service of the Society, affording to our seafaring population such pastoral services as circumstances would permit him to render. He has, besides supplying the pulpit on numerous occasions, visited the families of seamen and their boarding houses ; has held prayer meetings with them on board of ships and on shore ; has distributed among them about eight hundred religious tracts, and, when opportunity has offered, he has conversed with and advised them on the subject of religion. His services to the Society have been of the most valuable nature, and, considering the other avocations with which he was loaded by his connexion with the Wesleyan Seminary, do honour to his industry and perseverance, as well as to his piety. His useful services are still continued.
Convinced from experience of the importance of such pastoral services, and of their indispensable necessity for accomplishing, to any considerable extent, the purposes of the institution, the Directors, although supplied scantily with funds, and embarrassed in their pecuniary condition, considered it a profitable economy to engage a pastor who might devote all his time to such duties.
They had besides in view, the soliciting of funds in various parts of the country for this institution, and found that for this purpose, a pastor, who should know from experience the condition of our wants and the prospect which our labours afforded, and who should by his intercourse with seamen be warmed with peculiar zeal for their interests, seemed to them a necessary acquisition. They have accordingly engaged the services of the Rev. Mr. Trvair formerly of Cherry Valley: and they have a pleasure in recording their testimony to the zeal and diligence with which the pastoral duties of his station have been performed.
It was not the intention of the Directors, by engaging a stated pastor, to have the pulpit wholly supplied by his ministrations. The Catholic plan on which their institution is founded, and the principles on which they endeavour to conduct it, cause them to depend for a supply of preaching not merely on the services of a stated pastor, but on for promoting the Gospel among Seamen.
89 those of clergymen of various denominations, who would take a part in the duty, and for the former part of the year they depended on such assistance as the clergy of this city, with the occasional aid which the Rev. Mr. Chase could afford, for the supply of the pulpit. But the Directors have found, that independent of the absolute necessity of having some person stationed in connexion with the Church, to visit seamen, and to be visited by them for christian advice and instruction, and who might, by personal acquaintance, form an immediate link of communication between seamen and this Society, it was useful and necessary to have a pastor on whom they might rely for supplying the pulpit, instead of being wholly dependent on sources of a precarious nature. And that it was necessary, in order to ensure the attendance of seamen, that the regularity and constancy of preaching in the Church should be depended on.
The funds of the Society, of which a more particular account will hereafter be given, did not admit of their making any encroachment on them for compensating the pastor they have engaged. To accomplish this object they have set on foot a subscription for annual payments for this purpose, to be in the nature of a separate fund, and have made some considerable progress in raising a sum for his salary: they are however still far from having accomplished their design in this respect, and they rely upon the liberality of the commercial and mari. time public for their ultimate success in it.
The Sunday school for the children of seafaring people, has been continued under the direction of the Board. The school now consists of about eighty children, fifty of whom are females; and the number of female members of the school is increasing. Prayer meetings have been held for the children at the houses of their parents; and the Directors would greatly rejoice, if by an increase in the number of teachers, they could be enabled to carry into effect a contemplated plan of visiting, on the local system of Dr. Chalmers. The Directors consider the Sunday school as a very important branch of their labours, not only as affeci. ing the subjects of their instruction, but as tending to connect the parents with the objects of the Society, and to give them that interest in our plans which is always felt for any design where the welfare of our children is connected with it. A species of moral kindred is thus created, which will prove one of the most important auxiliaries to the success of our institution, and connect its stability with the very existence of mariners as a class of our population.
The scantiness of the funds of the Society, and their inadequacy to supply even the existing demands upon them, have prevented any attempts at the establishment of the weekly school for the gratuitous instruction of adult seamen, formerly contemplated by the Board.
The Christian Herald and Seaman's Magazine, continues to be published under the patronage of the Board, and they would earnestly press upon the friends of the Society the inportance of extending its circulation. It serves as an avenue by which the plans and the success of the Society reach the minds and hearts of the public on shore; and it operates to excite a general feeling in favour of the purposes of the Society --effects in which the Bible and Missionary Societies of the present day VOL. IX.
so abundantly feel the benefits of a religious press. At the same time, while it answers the same purposes among seamen, it serves to give them a general outline of what is going on in the religious and charitable world; and supplies them with interesting instruction and information, the consideration of which, during the solitary hours of the sailor's watch, will not only aid in elevating his views above sensual pleasures and temporal pursuits, but, like the pages of other religious tracts, may be used as a means, by the Spirit of Truth, to light the spark or keep alive the flame of vital religion. Many important advantages are accomplished by this publication, and the Directors would recommend its more extensive circulation as an object of great importance; and they would suggest the advantage which might arise, if ships, especially packets, were
regularly to be provided with a copy at the expense of the master or owners.
During the last year, the Society have printed an edition of fifteen hundred copies of the Seamen’s Devotional Assistant, the expense of which was in part defrayed by a legacy bequeathed to them by the late Mrs. Perit. The high character which this work had received from the friends of the cause in England, and a consideration that it might in many instances, by affording a facility for carrying on worship on board of ships, be the means of its being instituted there, and also be a real help to the devotions of pious mariners, were sufficient to induce the Board to adopt this measure. Copies of the work are for sale in various places.
Before going into a detail of the success of their efforts, the Directors feel bound briefly to notice those who are auxiliaries in the great labour in which they are engaged. The Bethel Union Society and the Marine Bible Society are so identified with this institution in the objects of our pursuit, and our labours all have so much the same tendency, that it is impossible for us to determine to which of them any particular good effect is owing; they therefore demand a brief notice on the present occasion.
The Bethel Union has proceeded in its useful labours, and has been the means of bringing the language of prayer and of religious exhortation to the ears of numbers, to whom probably it ever had been, and perhaps would otherwise have continued to be, a stranger. Prayer meetings have been held during the year in every week, and often for several evenings in every week, on buard of ships in port, and during the winter at the boarding houses of seamen; and they have been attended generally with larger audiences than bad been anticipated, and conducted with a degree of propriety very creditable both to the audiences and those by whom the meetings were carried on.
The Marine Bible Society has continued its useful services in supplying with Bibles the crews of ships and individual seamen about proceeding to sea : it is a matter however of regret, that from the scantiness of its funds, and other causes, its labours should not have been more extensive.
In proceeding to detail the effects which have attended the labours of the Society, it seems proper to advert to one circumstance which ought to be taken into view in an estimate of their success. It is, that whatever good effects do palpably appear to our view, yet we may be sure that we do not know the whole. The seafaring population on whom
for promoting the Gospel among Seamen. our labours are administered, are mostly a transient population : they are occasionally present here and then return to their homes in distant countries; or if inhabitants of our city, they go off on the ocean, or to foreign climes, and many of them never return. What effect the preaching of the gospel has on these, no mortal will know until it shall be revealed at the last day: whether it have been the means of washing away, şin in the blood of a Redeemer, or have stained the suul with wickedness of a deeper dye, none can know until the great Judge shall declare it. Yet if we may judge from what we do observe, and if we have reason to believe from its good effects on some, that others of whom we can know little are proportionally benefited, we may rest assured that we must not rate our success by its apparent extent.
The Directors have the pleasure to state, that the effects of their labours have been good, and that to an extent greater than they had expected.
The attendance at the Mariner's Church has generally been as large as that of most of the regular congregations in this city, and much larger than that of some of them. And your directors have in several instances had the pleasure, when casually over-hearing the conversation of seamen in the streets of our city as well as at other times, heard them speak in terms of grateful and familiar regard of their chuch. Their conduct in the church has with few exceptions been marked with propriety and earnest attention.
The attendance at the Bethel prayer meetings a circumstance intimately connected as an effect with the preaching in the church) has generally been respectable both in numbers and conduct. Some seamen have engaged actively in the devotional services on such occasions, and many have not only freely consented to, but in many instances requested Bethel meetings to be held in their boarding houses. The fact of meet-, ings for prayer being held in seamen's boarding houses, with the consent or at the request of themselves or of the landlords, is no less true than it is encouraging to the friends to the promotion of the gospel among seamen. Three years ago, what would have been said of a proposal to hold a meeting for prayer on board of a ship? what to hold one at a sailor's boarding house ? How would the individual have been characterized as an enthusiast and a visionary, who should have then predicted, that at this day such meetings would not only have been held but requested by seamen and the landlords ? And how pleasing and encouraging is the actual state of facts on this subject. Although the plan needs further perseverance, yet it seems easy to see, that a beginning being made by the keepers of the boarding houses, the example will be followed by all who desire to be esteemed reputable in the line of their business, or to have the custom of decent orderly seamen, who alone can substantially make their business advantageous and agreeable; and that orderly boarding houses being thus formed, all seamen, in like manner, who desire or hope for comfort and decency in their places of abode, or are at all regardful of character, will seek houses of this description; and that the others will be frequented by those and those only who will make them deus of the most fierce and debasing passions. Decency, order and religious worship being introduced into the abodes of seamen on shore, will be imparted to their ships, and they will eventually as