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Rules and Regulations of the Society.

anchor by which they hold amid the storms of this world; and the compass to direct them to that haven, where perils will no longer beset their course, nor disturb their enjoyment of rest and tranquillity for ever.

“Nor is it unimportant, on the present occasion, just to glance at the various classes of the community who have a direct and personal interest, exclusive of the paramount obligations attaching to them as Christians, in thus providing for the moral wants of this body of men. The owners of the vast mercantile marine of Great Britain, and the merchants, manufacturers, and traders of every description whose property is confided to the hazards of the deep, or whose prosperity is connected with foreign commerce, together with their numerous dependants; and the insurers of the almost incredible amount of merchandize and shipping entrusted to the care of British seamen; are all deeply interested in using their utmost exertions that those seamen should be raised from the degradation of their present acknowledged state of ignorance and profligacy, improvidence and insubordination; and that they should be taught principles calculated to render them pious, sober, and intelligent; faithful to their trust, and obedient to their superiors."

2. This address having been extensively circulated, a general meeting was convened on the 29th of January 1818, at the Mansion House, the Lord Mayor of London in the chair, when the "London Merchant-Seamen's Auxiliary Society" was established, "for the purpose of supplying British merchant ships with the holy scriptures," and subject to the following


I. That the Bibles and Testaments to be circulated by this society shall be without note or comment; and that those in the languages of the United Kingdom be of the authorised version.

II. That each subscriber of one guinea annually shall be a member of the society; and each subscriber of ten guineas at one time, a member for life.

III. That each subscriber of three guineas annually shall be a governor of the society; and each subscriber of twenty guineas at one time shall be a governor for life; and that governors be entitled to attend and vote at all meetings of the Committee.

IV. That the business of this society shall be conducted by a president, vice-presidents, treasurer, secretaries, and a committee, consisting of twentyfour other members, half of whom shall be members of the Established Church, and that five members constitute a quorum.

V. That all clergymen and other ministers making collections in behalf of the institution shall be members of this Society, with the privilege of attending and voting at the meetings of the committee.

VI. That the committee shall meet once every month, or oftener, on some day to be fixed by themselves.

VII. That a general meeting of the subscribers be held once, at least, in each year, when the accounts shall be presented, the proceedings of the past year stated, a new committee appointed, and a report agreed upon, to be printed under the direction of the committee.

VIII. That, in the formation of the new committee, such three-fourths of the other members who shall have most frequently attended the committee shall be re-eligible for the ensuing year.

Indifference of Ship-owners to the spiritual welfare of Seamen.

In addition to these Regulations, the following RESOLUTION was adopted at the general meeting:

"That the Committee be instructed to take the earliest and most effectual measures for obtaining the patronage, contributions, and active co-operation of the various corporate bodies, and of all merchants, ship-owners, underwriters, tradesmen, ship-masters, and others connected with the trade or marine of the port of London: that the officers and crews of merchant ships be encouraged to form Bible Associations on a plan to be framed by the Committee: that it is expedient to encourage the formation of Branch Societies at the principal out-ports of the British empire; such Branch Societies, and their individual members, to be entitled to the same privileges from the Auxiliary Society as its members derive from the Parent Institution: and that immediate steps be taken, by opening a correspondence with the different out-ports, for giving effect to this Resolution.”

3. A very limited degree of experience was sufficient to convince the Committee of the London Merchant-Seamen's Society, that the peculiar nature of the work in which they had engaged, demanded the application of extraordinary means. The plan of Depositories had been tried by the Thames Union Committee, on a scale that must have ensured success, had the inclination to possess the sacred records been prevalent among seamen. In addition to this, the Committee of the new society issued circular letters to the owners or ships' husbands of all vessels entering out at the Custom House, and to the captains of all such ships, soliciting their countenance and support, and proffering a supply of Bibles and Testaments on the most liberal terms. At their first annual meeting, they were compelled to report "the total and absolute failure of every effort made by them in this direction."

"The numerous letters which they circulated among the owners and masters of vessels did not produce a single application for Bibles at the Society's depository in London: and since the formation of the institution, to the 31st of December 1819, only twenty-one Bibles and thirty-nine Testaments have been sold there. So utterly inefficient, indeed, did this method of accomplishing the object of the society prove, that the Committee, after persevering in the experiment for upwards of three months, were at last induced to discontinue it."

Nor should this failure excite surprise, however it may occasion regret. The nature of that connexion which subsists between seamen and their employers, particularly in the port of London, is too transient and uncertain to create or cherish an interest, on the part of the latter, in the spiritual welfare of the former. The ship-owners of Great Britain are, as a body, remarkable for their attention to the personal comforts of the men; but it cannot be denied, that an indifference to those concerns which regard their eternal interests has been

Necessity of an Agent; and appointment of Lieutenant Cox.

long and lamentably prevalent. On the other hand, sailors, as has been already observed, too generally look upon religion as a matter with which they have no concern;-the BIBLE is a book of which they had seldom heard; and they required to have its inestimable value pointed out to them in a manner which they could understand. Here arose another

difficulty for sailors must be addressed in their own way. The observation may seem strange, but it is no less true, that few landsmen are qualified to gain the attention and awaken the interest of this singular but valuable race of men. To these combined causes may be attributed the failure of every measure founded on the presumption that seamen would apply for Bibles. It was therefore evident that an interest must be created in the minds of sailors in favour of the Bible. To effect this, it became necessary to select an individual as AGENT, whose knowledge of the peculiar character, manners, and habits of seamen qualified him for this particular service. In reference to this important subject, the Committee thus express themselves:

"As vessels proceeding on foreign voyages generally bring up at Gravesend, for the purpose of obtaining their final clearance, it appeared to the Committee, that it would be highly important, indeed indispensable, with a view to the success of the institution, to station at that place an active and intelligent Agent, whose business it should be to visit all outward-bound ships, and to act, in supplying them with the Scriptures, under the general instructions of the Committee, according to the circumstances of each case. In Lieutenant Cor, of the Royal Navy, they had reason given them to expect the zeal, activity, intelligence, and discretion which the situation required; and they have not been disappointed. They were led to confide in his exertions, and he has fully justified their confidence."

As the Committee report, that "this plan has succeeded beyond their hopes," it appears necessary to enter more fully into its details; commencing with the


"1. It will be proper that you should make some provisional arrangements for a depôt, where the books in your possession may be safely kept, and conveniently arranged; and which may unite the advantages of forming a good look-out towards the river, and of being tolerably easy of access. It will be further necessary to engage the means of boarding outward-bound vessels with promptness and facility.

II. It will be your main business, for the present, to visit every ship destined on a foreign voyage, which may bring up at Gravesend, or stop there a sufficient time to admit of your boarding her; and to ascertain whether there are on board any, and what number, of copies of the holy scriptures, for the use of the ship's company during the voyage.

III. If no supply, or only an inadequate one, should have been previously procured, we authorise you to present to the captain or chief officer, for the

Instructions furnished to the Agent.

use of the ship's company, a supply of Bibles and Testaments, according to the following scale: viz.

For vessels navigated with six or seven men, one Bible and two Testa


For vessels navigated with eight or nine men, one Bible and three

For vessels navigated with ten men and upwards, a Bible for each
watch, and a Testament for every three or four men.

IV. This authority to bestow Bibles and Testaments gratuitously on ships that are unfurnished with them, need not, however, be used in cases where the captain feels the obligation incumbent on him, or shews a willingness to provide the requisite means of instruction for his crew. In such cases, copies of the Scriptures may be supplied to him at prime cost, and the gratuitous supply will then be unnecessary.

v. The description of Bibles and Testaments to be gratuitously bestowed must for the present be left to your discretion; with this general remark, that we should wish economy to be consulted, as far as may be consistent with higher objects.

VI. At the same time that the ship is thus supplied with the Scriptures for the use of the seamen, it will be desirable that an offer should be made to the seamen themselves of Bibles and Testaments, for their own use, at half the prime cost. We are disposed at present to think that it will not be expedient to give copies of the Scriptures to individual seamen. Those who value them sufficiently to make this course at all proper, will not hesitate to purchase them at the reduced rate which has been mentioned.

VII. It will be particularly important that every fact should be minutely noted by you, as far as time and circumstances will permit, which may be likely to aid us in our future measures, and to throw light on the moral condition of the seamen, on the disposition manifested by them to receive and read the Scriptures, and on the disposition shewn by the officers to encourage their men in so doing. It would also be useful to know how many there may be on board who can read them; and if an opportunity should be offered of making the suggestion, those who cannot, might be incited to employ their leisure time, during the voyage, in learning to read from those who can.

VIII. We are well persuaded that no prudent exertions will be wanting on your part to interest all classes on board in the Society's object, to induce the officers to give the requisite encouragement to the men in reading the Scriptures, and to induce the men to read them, and to dispense the benefit of them also to such of their shipmates as cannot read themselves.

IX. It will be proper also to recommend the books to the special care of the captain or chief officer.

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x. Besides keeping a book, which shall exhibit clearly the receipts and issues of Bibles, and the stock in hand, under columns corresponding with the numbers in the inclosed schedule, and a book which shall also clearly record all your cash transactions in the society's account (with which books you will be furnished), it will be necessary to keep a clear register of all your proceedings in a book which will also be furnished for the purpose, and according to the form there prescribed. + Of the entries in the book, it will be necessary that transcripts should, on a fixed day in each week, be sent

to us.

This schedule will be found under the head of " Agent's Registry," in Section IV.

+ This form is similar to that recommended in Section IV. of this chapter.

Weekly Report of the Agent.

XI. The secretaries will also furnish you with a number of copies of the address and plan of the society, and of the circular letters intended for shipmasters, which you will employ according to your discretion in forwarding the society's views."

5. The following extracts from the First Annual Report of the London Merchant-Seamen's Society, will illustrate the practical tendency of these instructions, and of the mode pursued by this society :

1. "Those who are acquainted with the state of the maritime concerns of this port, will feel the propriety of confining the gratuitous supply of the Scriptures within the limits prescribed by the Committee. While such seamen as value the Scriptures sufficiently to pay a trifling price for them, have the opportunity of purchasing them, the copies which are gratuitously supplied are given, not to the seamen themselves, but to the ship for their use: they are to be regarded as part of the ship's furniture, to be used for the instruction and edification, not merely of the present crew on the present voyage, but of successive crews on successive voyages.

II. The instructions given to Lieutenant Cox have been carried into effect with a singular degree of regularity. The Committee have never failed to receive, on the appointed day, the weekly report of his proceedings; and each succeeding report has tended at the same time to excite a livelier interest in the society's objects, and to call forth their gratitude for being allowed to bear any part, however humble, in promoting their attainment. III. The reports of Lieutenant Cox are drawn up in a tabular form, and they exhibit distinctly the following particulars :

1. The Date.

2. The Name of the Ship visited.

3. The Captain.

4. The Ship's Owner or Husband.

5. The Port to which the Ship belongs.

6. The Voyage on which the Ship is bound.
7. The number of the Ship's Company.

8. The number of those who can read.

9. The number of Bibles and Testaments found on board.

10. The number supplied gratuitously.

11. The number sold, and the amount.

These particulars are accompanied by general observations, of a very useful and interesting description."

In order to prevent the improper disposal of Bibles and Testaments designed for "the use of the ship," the Committee, in addition to the stamp affixed to the title-page, have directed their agent to brand the outside cover of every copy distributed, with the words "Merchant-Seamen's Auxiliary Bible Society, London." They have also adopted the plan, originally devised at Bishop-Wearmouth, of recommending the owners and captains of ships to provide boxes, of which the agent exhibits a model, for the preservation of the Bibles.

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