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RELIGIOUS IMPROVEMENT OF SEAMEN.
“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters, these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths ; their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeih them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then they are glad because they be quiet, so he bringeth them into their desired laven. O, thạt men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.” Such, often, are the dangers, fearfulness, and deliverance of mariners, when tempest-tossed upon the ocean. The world of ters.is frequently in dreadful agitation. Then it is that seamen are in tremendous peril; then it is that they witness scenes most sublime and awful; and then it is that they become dismayed, and their soul is melted because of trouble. In such scenes-scenes which try men's souls, they need the support of religion. At such times, if there is within them a heart to pray, they will cry unto the Lord
in their distress, and He whom the winds and the sea obey, will command with the voice of authority, “Peace, be still."
I. Seamen peculiarly need religion.
Seamen need religion in common with other men, as it instrumentally sanctifies and saves the soul. Nothing but this will render them happy in the life that now is, and that which is to come. But they peculiarly need religion,
1. Because of their peculiar exposure to temptations. This is very great and arises from their condition in life. They are almost literally,
“ Outcasts from God, and scatter'd wide
To every country under heaven.” By the very circumstances of their employment, they are banished from their kindred and friends, and the better part of the community. They are compelled to associate with those, who are the mere dregs of society, exposed to all kinds of vices and all kinds of temptations. Such is · the state of mariners.
• They, therefore, peculiarly need religion to guard them from unhallowed allurements, to preserve them from the devices of Satan and evil men, and from the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.
2. Seamen peculiarly need religion, because of their hardships and exposure to dangers. .
At times, their hardships are great; their toils are abundant; their labors are unceasing. Tlieir exposure to dánger is most imminent. They are in deaths ost, in jeopardy every hour, in perils of waters, in perils of heathen, in perils of the sea, in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often. In seasons of tempests, "they mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro and stagger like a drunken man and are at their wit's end,"
Under such trials, sailors need religion to sustain them. Nothing but this will support the fainting heart, calm the agitated soul, and render it submissive to the will of Heav
How peculiarly important then is religion to the tempest-tossed mariner !
II. Efforts should be made to impart to seamen the blessings of the gospel.
1. One motive to effort is, without religion seamen must perish forever. They have souls to lose or to save. They are sick unto eternal death, unless rescued by ạn Almighty Arm. Sin is the malady of their souls. They need, therefore, the balın of Gilead and the Physician there. No other sovereign remedy, no other infallible Physician, is to be found. Here is an antidote for every poison ; a balm for every wound ;-sins may be forgiven, souls may be sanctified, hell may be escaped, and heaven may be obtained.
Those who 6 do business in great waters” can be converted as well as others. It is not true, as some have remarked, that “ sailors, do what you will. for them, will be sailors still, and you may as well labor with a main-mast to produce a moral change, as with a sailor.” Many seamen have been converted to the faith, as it is in Jesus; and were the means of grace properly employed in respect to them, multitudes would be brought into the kingdom of our Lord. They are men susceptible of strong emotions, generous in their character, tender in their feelings, and as likely to be affected, renovated and saved by the gospel, faithfully dispensed, as any other class of people, equally exposed to sin and temptation. This renovation and sanctification they must experience, or never be admitted to the haven of eternal rest. And the salvation of such men is as important to them, and, for aught we know, as valuable in the eyes of Christ wlio di
ed for their redemption, as that of the wealthy or honorable.
2. Efforts should be made for the salvation of seamen, on account of their number and importance. Their number is great. According to the best calculation, there are in the United States 100,000, and in Great Britian 500,000 seamen. In different parts of the world there are probably more than 3,000,000. The number of sailors on the sea shores of the four quarters of the globe, and of the islands of the seas, and on the navigable rivers and canals is immense. It is thought by some that the water population, including all the families and persons connected with the shipping and boating, must be one fourth part of the whole mass of the human race.* What multitudes of men are engaged on the rivers, lakes, and seas! How important this class of the community in respect to numbers ! how important in respect to their occupation and influence! They are a “bulwark of defence to the liberties of the country" for · which they act. " It is also most manifestly true, that we depend on them for most of our luxuries, and for many of the necessaries of life.' Look upon our tables and then into our wardrobes, and see how many articles we can discover there, which has been provided for our comfort or convenience by the sailor's toils, privations and sufferings. Some of these very articles may have come to our convenience at no less expense to some poor sailor, than the loss of his life, and to his family, the loss of a husband and a father.” Surely then, seamen are worthy of respectful regard, and should have the prayers and efforts of Christians on behalf of their conversion and salvation.
3. The influence of seamen on those around them is
another reason, why efforts should be made to impart to them the gospel of Christ. By. sympathy, precept, and example, we affect those with whom we associate. If our influence in these respects is good, happy will be the result. Christians, by associating with sioners, may convert them from their evil ways, and save souls from everlasting death. But "evil communications corrupt good manners." “ One sinner destroyeth much good.” • Now seamen mingle with a vast multitude of people, and their influence must be hurtful or salutary. This will depend very much upon the character they possess. If they are vicious, deleterious will be their influence. If they are pious, beneficial in its effects will be their intercourse. How important, then, that seamen should possess religion, and .commend it by their holy deportment to all around them - to all with whom they are associated in life.
4. Efforts should be made to convert seamen from the consideration, that, in an important sense, they are to be the carriers of the gospel to the islands of the seas and to the ends of the earth.
This fact is agreeable to prediction. . Says the prophet Isaiah, “Surely the Isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them upto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee.” Dr. Scott remarks, " This prediction will be accomplished when Christians shall unanimously agree to make commerce and navigation subservient to the preaching of the gospel in every country with which they trade.” Then swift messengers of salvation will be sent in vessels on every sea. Mariners will convey Missionaries to every heathen land and clime. The merchandise of our Tyres shall be holiness to the Lord; it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for their 'merchandise shall be for