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“ Our men every year, at least the greater part of them, leave us during the winter season to fish. This is one of the greatest evils that we have to contend with. The men, thrown into the streets and public-houses, and bereft of their ordinary means of grace, learn often wretched habits of dissipation and drunkenness. However, before they set out, they always assemble in a body in the church at morning service, and have a sermon preached to them; and they again meet in the same way to praise God for his mercies on their return. At our last meeting of this kind, about two months ago, though the weather was very bad, we had above 500 fishermen and sailors present. I might add that, always before the men leave us for the winter, we endeavour to see and converse with each of them at their houses, and always meet with a kindly reception: indeed, I never met with anything else on any occasion from our sailors.
• These are the chief means that we use among our men; and I hope they have not, through God's blessing, been in vain. We have still some drunkards and blasphemers among us; but I am thankful to say the great body are otherwise. As for fishing on the sabbath, a very few sermons were sufficient to put this down. Our men are indeed now so conscientious on this point, that even when away from home, and kept out at sea, they never let down their nets on the Sunday, but take them up, either lie to, or allow the vessel to drive, spending the day as well as they can in devotional exercises. As to licentious conduct, I can say there is very little of it here.
“You will then observe, that any effects that may have been produced on our men, have been, in a great degree, owing to personal exertions among them. • In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,' appears to be God's rule in granting his blessing, in the spiritual as well as the natural world. Kindness especially never appears lost on our poor sailors, particularly when joined with a frank and cheerful manner.
“We find it useful, too, to put them a little on their mettle, and to urge them to keep up the character of the British seamen. It was, I believe, on this ground that, at the time of the coronation last year, when 400 of our fishermen and sailors staid on shore for four days, amusing themselves with various processions, etc., there was not a single man of them who got drunk, or exceeded a pint of heer daily; and on the Saturday night they came out to me of their own accord, proposing to go to church on the following day in a body, and asking me to preach to them, which I did, and afterwards gave each a printed copy of the sermon, at their request.
With regard to Sunday fishing, also, our men have
deliberately come to the conclusion, that it is as inexpedient as it is irreligious to practise it. They tell me that those who thus break the sabbath are never found to prosper; that it is almost always when the nets are down on a Sunday that they get torn on foul ground, or meet with some other casualty. I hope now, that out of above 900 trawlers, and 40 hookers, we have not more than two or three that ever have a net in the water on a Sunday. I speak here of our men when away from our village; when at home, they never think of leaving the shore."
“ MY JEWELS.” “ And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels,” Mal. iii. 17. IN the preceding verse we have the true character of the people of God set before us: “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.” The fear of the Lord is often set before us for the whole tenour of religion itself; for those who have the fear of God before their eyes, have not only the form of godliness, but the power of it, stimulating them in all their actions, exciting them to every good word and work. “I will put my fear into their hearts," saith the Lord of hosts, “ that they shall not depart from me,” Jer. xxxii. 40. Those in whose breast this fear has its abode, have high and dignified conceptions of God, in the whole of his character; hence they are constrained to flee from and forsake sin, because it is displeasing to him. They watch and pray against every temptation. They guard against every unhallowed influence without, and every rising corruption within. In short, whilst they look to the Strong for strength, even to the Mediator of the new covenant, they carry on a continual warfare with sin, in whatever form or wherever it may appear; making a conscience of keeping the commands of God.
Whilst this is their character, another mark or feature, which manifests that they have passed over that line which is drawn by the unerring wisdom of God, to distinguish the man under the deadly power of the carnal heart from the true Christian, is, that they speak often one to another. All the children of God will delight in speaking concerning heavenly things. They love to converse about Christ, of his glorious and exalted character as Creator and Governor of the universe; as directing all the affairs of this world, to the advancement of his own glory, and for the temporal and spiritual good of his people. But especially do they speak of his amazing love and condescension, as displayed in his taking upon him the nature of man; and they desire to know nothing among one another but him, and him crucified. God sets his mark of approbation upon such. He that honours God, God will honour him. These are the jewels of Christ. “ And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels.” How rare, and comparatively few, are such characters! When we look around us, and abroad upon the earth, we are led to acknowledge the truth that darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people, Isa. lx. 2. Only here and there is to be seen a glimmering of light, amidst the surrounding darkness and gloom that hang over our earth, and which, like the first dawn of morning, is the forerunner of a glorious day, when the Spirit of the Lord shall shine forth with healing beams over all the world.
Still we have to lament that there are so few, comparatively speaking, who know anything experimentally of true, vital godliness. The great mass of the people are still under the power of the great adversary of the soul, who blinds his subjects so that they cannot see any beauty or excellency in Christ, or in the power of his resurrection. True believers have ever been few, compared with all mankind. Among the vast population which inhabited the earth previous to that awful visitation from God, the deluge, there was only one family who could be counted worthy of a refuge. In the cities of the plain, when Abraham pleaded with God, such was the prevalence of sin amongst them, so much were they tainted by its pollution, that not ten righteous could be found to rescue them-an awful display of the power of corruption. The church of Christ in the wilderness was but a little band inclosed from the numberless nations by which they were surrounded, and kept distinct from them by the power of God. They appeared like a solitary star shining forth amidst the midnight darkness; hence, says Moses, “ The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you because ye were more in number than any people, for ye were the fewest of all people,” Deut. vii. 7. And the church of Christ has continued the same down to the present time; whilst the broad road is covered with the vast multitudes who are pressing forward to eternal damnation,
“ Wisdom shows a narrower path,
With here and there a traveller." Oh! that you and I, my dear reader, may be found amongst these chosen few, that when the Lord shall appear in all his terrible majesty, to take vengeance upon those who regard not his name, we may be numbered among his jewels.
It was very
TRACT EFFORTS ABROAD. THE Rev. Mr. Kincaid, from Burmah, writes as follows:-“ After we had all gone to sleep, I was roused by a low voice, saying “Teacher! teacher! and starting up, I saw a man standing in the water by the boat. Before I had time to make any inquiry, he began to apologize for disturbing me at that time of the night, and said he had been absent, and when he returned a neighbour read to him a tract about God. Learning where he had got it, and fearing I might be gone before daylight, he resolved to come at once. dark, but I could perceive by his voice that he was an old man. In few words I explained to him the character of God, and the provision God has made for the happiness of intelligent beings ; and gave him a small book and two tracts. The poor old man went away, pouring forth a torrent of kind wishes, and saying he wished to understand these subjects. For the first time in his life he has heard there is an eternal God, who made the heavens and the earth. For the first time in his life he has had in his hand the gospel of peace.”
TRACT EFFORTS AT HOME. A POOR, pious, labouring man has distributed tracts for some years in the neighbourhood of
and with many pleasing instances of the Divine blessing. In a nobleman's family, the tracts were distributed among the servants, and one of the females became deeply concerned for the salvation of her soul, and, after attending the means of grace, became a decided Christian, and joined a Christian church in this place: afterwards, another and another became seriously iinpressed, and are now living in the fear of God. The valet, who is a foreigner, became alarmed, and thought it his duty to acquaint his lordship of what had taken place, which he did in the following words :-“ My lord, de religion is got into the house, and I cannot help it! I hope your lordship will not blame me.” To which his lordship made no reply. I am happy to say, the same poor man has introduced the tracts into every family in this place, and is determined that no nobleman's house within his reach shall be destitute. There are several in our neighbourhood, and I think there is now only one where they have not been introduced, and great good has followed. He is now collecting money for a standing library for the place where he resides.
UPON THE SIGHT OF A FLY BURNING ITSELF IN THE CANDLE.
WISE Solomon says, that the light is a pleasant thing; and so certainly it is : but there is no true outward light which proceeds not from fire; the light of that fire then is not more pleasing than the fire of that light is dangerous; and that pleasure doth not more draw on our sight, than that danger forbids our approach. How foolish is this fly, that in a love and admiration of this light will know no distance, but puts itself heedlessly into that flame wherein it perishes ! How
many bouts it fetched, every one nearer than the other, ere it made this last venture! and now that merciless fire, taking no notice of the affection of an over-fond client, hath suddenly consumed it: thus do those bold and busy spirits, who will needs draw too near unto that inaccessible light; and look into things too wonderful for them, so long do they hover about the secret counsels of the Almighty, till the wings of their presumptuous conceits be scorched, and their daring curiosity hath paid them with everlasting destruction. O Lord, let me be blessed with the knowledge of what thou
TRACT MAG., THIRD SERIES, NO. 83, Nov. 1840.