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together in holy fellowship, and edifying thein in holiness and comfort.
The moral and spiritual lessons of these extracts are these :
1. This young sailor, with one only kindred spirit, was thrown away upon the high seas, among the enemies of religion, far from his much loved North Carolina and her happy prayer-meetings, and his beloved friends, with whom he had so often enjoyed the sweet fellowship of saints.
2. On his new ship, and from his new captain, he met at once almost crushing discouragements in his first attempt to form a prayer-meeting. And there, in all that ship’s company, not one more than the minimum number to secure the promise to a prayer-meeting. Two only to make a prayer
“There were only two of us, W- and myself.” But two or three will do.
3. Notwithstanding the discouragements—"two only”-and these refused permission by the captain, they go up to the main-top every evening, and there have prayer-meeting. There they ask God to open for them the way for doing good. What an interesting example of strong faith with telling works!
4. Their feeble and almost hopeless effort was crowned with success.
Soon to the little flock-to the two--seven were added. Now they are nine—too large a number to find pleasant accommodation in their little upper room “ the main-top.” Then the nine meet on deck, between two guns. This persevering boldness is soon rewarded. Two more are soon added to the nine. Now they are eleven disciples. This is really quite a prayer-meeting. Once more they make a bold advance. They now bring their meeting to the main hatch, in the midst of the deck. Soon two more are added. The prayer-meeting of two on
the main-top, is now grown to a meeting of thirteen, in the midst of the deck, at the main hatch-one more than the number of disciples Christ had with him in his weekly prayer-meeting in the upper room, the doors being shut. Here are now thirteen disciples, and Christ, making, in the sailor boy's prayer-meeting, fourteen, one more than in Christ's primitive meetings. The sailor's effort was a suc
It has a moral. Can we not apply it to matters of vital interest, and of almost every day's occurrence to matters producing most serious consequences for good or for evil to the cause of Christ?
Christian families, members of the church, are, by hundreds, every year, emigrating to the wild West, scattering over immense territory fast settling up by the constant tide from the East, and so depleting our old churches, and making it a matter of some doubt whether, on the whole, the church is gaining much, if anything, in numbers, just now. It might be a successful way of improving our historical lesson here, to follow some of these emigrations, and so have before us fact sketches from which to learn. We shall suppose two cases of not at all improbable occurrence. In the State, or Territory, and county of -, six families of our church, in regular standing in some of our eastern churches, and regularly certified as members thereof, settle down in the same vicinity. Two of them settle at the cross roads, or in the new village in said county. The other four settle, each out from the centre, one mile and a half in four opposite directions, making a circumference whose diameter is three miles. These four families will have each one mile and a half to travel to enjoy the privilege of meeting with their brethren for prayer and conference in the centre of their locality. An equal number, under similar circumstances and in like manner, settle in the State, or Territory, and county of
Immediately, after thus settling down in their new homes, the first group seek and form an acquaintance with each other--which thing they will soon do if they are under the influence of the attractive principle implied in the letters of certificate and dismissal they carry with them, or if they are of like spirit with the sailor boy and his kindred spirit friend, who went together every evening to the main-top. They at once organize themselves into a prayer-meeting. They establish their rules, and mutually agree to observe them. Every Sabbath day, when they cannot secure a supply of the preaching of the gospel, they meet in the centre for prayer and Christian conference. Also, weekly, on week-day or evening, they meet for the same object, whether supplied with the preaching of the gospel on the Sabbath or not. There, punctual to their rules, and faithful to their brotherly covenant and church obligations, each endeavors to be in his place in the prayermeeting on week-day and Sabbath. And as each feels an interest in the success of the society, in the prospect of an organized and settled congregation, in the prosperity of the cause of Christ, in their own and their children's spiritual advantage; as also, in the salvation of sinners and the welfare of their neighbors, with whom they are every day associated, they will all-like Moses to Hobab-say to those around them, “Come with us, and we will do thee good.” And so, like the sailor boy, on every proper occasion, by word and by Christian deeds, laboring and persevering, they will gain others, and their numbers must increase. Soon the six families should become a score. That bond which holds them together, they and their children will, by the blessing of God, draw within its folds an enlarged band, ripe for a congregational organization. This organization—like the sailor boy's prosperity--will stimulate still more, and soon they can have five prayermeetings, one in the centre, and one in each of the four extreme points, each of these still gathering around it, as did the first, and as the sailor boy's prayer-meeting did, and thus everything will be upward and onward, for there faith will be, and there God will work with them and for them.
To such a people the ordinances of the gospel will soon be all supplied regularly, and their congregation become self-sustaining. Still more: their youth, with the youth of all the fanilies of the church settling among them from time to time, and of those influenced to join them, will be kept from the world and preserved to the church. And 'still farther here: all who incorporate with them in good faith, together with their children, will be trained for and retained in the church as pillars; or, if emigrating elsewhere, will form certain and reliable nuclei for other
prosperous and solid congregations.
It may here be replied: Few families thrown together in new localities have the principle, or moral courage, attracting and holding them together in this way. Perhaps too true; and the more to be lamented. It might be said, too, and justly, there are few such sailors as this pious youth, from the prayer-meetings of the North Carolina. For good reasons, it may, indeed, be so said of too many of our families thrown together in new settlements. They were never well indoctrinated in the faith of their own church, or in the faith of the Bible. Especially, they have never been trained in our sailor's faith and practice in regard to the prayer-meeting. They are fixed in the faith and love of nothing of the kind, and, therefore, in the market for anything that may happen to form their surroundings.
The other six families:--Let us follow them to their locality, and mark their course and progress. They take the common popular course: they and their families glide along with the current. They form no particular acquaintance with each other. They organize no prayermeeting. Of course they have no Sabbath school. They have nothing of the denominational kind. They worship on the Sabbath with the most convenient assemblies, with little reference to their matter and forms of worship. Their children incorporate with the most convenient Sabbath schools—perhaps with the “Sunday” School Union. Perhaps, at best, these six families and their very inviting locality come to the knowledge of the Home Mission Board. A missionary is sent them. He may succeed in bringing them out to hear him on the Sabbath. He may succeed in bringing the better part of them out to a prayermeeting, while he remains with them to lead in the meeting, as they were wont to see in their old home churches. But the three or four weeks of supply pass by, and the young preacher is gone. To meet by themselves on the silent Sabbaths, and to conduct a prayer-meeting, without a minister to lead—these things are not to their mind; and then their youth and children must be in their places in the Sabbath school, from which they cannot withdraw them.
Next quarter, or perhaps at the end of six months, the Board sends them a month's supply. The missionary again wends his way to this fine field, where thousands are locating, and where many churches are directing their attention and their resources, as to “a centre of influence.” But he finds our six families, at best, statu quo; or,
any additional families have, in the meantime, settled in the bounds, they are discouraged, and the youth of all alienated from the church. So this routine of missionary rallying and Board expenditure, in a majority of cases, ends in a failure.
There is another page in the history of these two groups. The Home Mission Board claims a brief chapter here in