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reclaim them from their proverbial wickedness, or to arouse them to consider the end of their ungodly career! Conduct and habits that would have shocked us in other classes, have been tolerated and palliated as characteristic of the sailor. Most persons, indeed, have been in the habit of considering the immoralities of seamen as inseparable from their profession, rather than as the effects of an unrestrained growth of the rank weeds of our common nature. And even the religious public, alive as it was to the deplorable condition of the heathen world, and active as it was in the various branches of Christian philanthropy, seemed, until of latè years, to wink at the ignorance, carelessness, and depravity of their seafaring countrymen, or to forget that they also were of that responsible order of beings who must render an account of themselves unto God! At length, however, a small sense of our neglects and obligations in respect to seamen has been graciously vouchsafed to us, and considerable efforts are now being made in various seaports in the United Kingdom, and still more extensive efforts in the commercial towns of America, for the improvement of the religious and moral condition of seamen. These efforts are chiefly made through the instrumentality of organized associations of benevolent indi. viduals, and the necessary expenses provided for by voluntary contributions : and, as but little suitable accommodation is to be found in our Churches and Chapels for the numerous seamen frequenting the more considerable seaports — the providing of Churches, and other places of Worship, expressly for them, has become a characteristic feature in the operations of the various Societies established for their spiritual benefit. In the bestowment of this boon of gratitude, the Dissenters of Britain had the distinguished honour of taking the lead, and through their vigorous exertions, with the co-operation, in many instances, of members of the Established Church, several “Arks,” or “Floating Chapels,” were early fitted
for the use of Seamen. The first place of worship appointed for this purpose, under the form and discipline of the Established Church, was the “ Episcopal Floating Chapel" in Dublin; next followed the “ Mariners' Church” at Liverpool,* with similar institutions in Hull, Plymouth, London, and Cork.
Previous to the institution of these places of worship, the seamen amongst us, for the most part, were not only peculiarly destitute of the public ministrations of religion, but, as regarded the Establishment, they were almost excluded from the pale of the Church. But when the Establishment made provision for the restoration of her seafaring sons, experience immediately proved that their absence from our Church was not because of indifference to her privileges, nor of objection to her formularies; but either from the deficiency of accommodation, or from the want of encouragement to worship along with us.
* The vessels appropriated as Churches in Liverpool and London consist of ships of war, and are lent to the respective Societies established in these two ports by the Government.
In regard to the Mariners' Church at Liverpool, their regularity of attendance, and peculiar strictness of attention, give unvarying occasion for both Minister and Patrons of the Society to thank God and take courage. During three years and a half, the interval of time since the opening of the Church, the attendance of seamen has been very numerous,-to the amount (inclusive of occasional visitors, and about a fifth-part of females) of six or seven hundred on an average; and their attention and decorum have ever been most striking, and often deeply affecting. There is, indeed, an intenseness of attention—an openness of ear and heart—a tenderness and simplicity of feeling, so remarkable, as to form a uniform characteristic of this interesting congregation. And as to the success which it has pleased the Great Head of the Church to yield to the humble labours of the privileged Chaplain of this favoured institution, he can only in Christian diffidence say, that the most encouraging tokens of the Divine blessing have been graciously vouchsafed, and of the beginning of the prophesied period, when “the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto God.”
As the ministrations of religion on shore are but sparingly within the reach of seamen in general, it has been the leading aim and earnest desire of the author of these Discourses, to endeavour to promote and facilitate the performance of public worship, as well as the exercise of personal religion, at sea. With this object, the Discourses now presented to the public have been selected out of the author's pulpit ministrations in the Mariners' Church, in preference to subjects more familiar and popular, in order to comprise together a series of the most important doctrines of the gospel, with such applications to the circumstances, vices, and habits of seamen, as seemed most particularly requisite. And whilst the primary design has been thus to furnish the means of additional religious instruction to “ them that are afar off
the of strengthening any impressions made by the preaching of the gospel when on shore--and of guarding them against prevailing destructive vices when abroad in foreign lands,-a secondary object has been to bring prominently forward those striking features of our distinguished Church, by which her apostolical character is so strikingly stamped, and her scriptural doctrines so boldly and constantly elicited. At the same time, the author has the peculiar satisfaction of avowing that he has not discovered any other method of bringing forward the fundamental doctrines of the gospel so powerfully, or with so much interest, as
by the observance and improvement of the great Festivals and principal Fasts of that Church of which he has the privilege and honour to be a Minister.
As to the style of this little work, a single observation may be necessary. Generally speaking, it is presumed, it will be found adapted both to the capacity and modes of thinking of the persons for whom the Discourses are designed; but if in any case the author has departed from that simplicity of thought and diction which might seem to be most suitable for seafaring men as a body, he has been induced to do so, in order to meet the views and sentiments-prejudices or objections of the class of superior officers and masters of ships, according as the intelligence, reflection, and enquiry of many with whom he has conversed seemed to require.
The author now commends this humble endeavour for the furtherance of the gospel, to the gracious favour of Him who hath commanded to teach all nations,' devoutly praying that it may be made the instrument of some usefulness wheresoever it may be circulated, and especially of promoting His kingdom among those " that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters.”