« ForrigeFortsett »
mend clothes on Thursday, it will be quite easy to find a place where with all around him he may yet be alone with GOD. If he can find no better place, let him not be afraid to examine himself as he walks up and down the forecastle smoking his pipe. A great deal can be done for GOD when a man is smoking, and if he finds that in a noisy, crowded ship he can do his business best in that way then GOD will accept it. But it is not good for a man to stow himself away. This attracts needless attention and prevents him from obeying any sudden call of duty.
And now when shall a man examine himself? Some of the best times have already been noticed. If he is inclined to be sleepy at the mast-head or on the look-out on deck, it will help him to keep awake if he begin to examine his conscience. But it is not good to choose such times except as a remedy for some evil, such as sleepiness or bad thoughts, for the Christian seaman ought above all others to be a smart Seaman. The Chaplain if asked would gladly allow the use of his cabin to any man for the purpose of self-examination, and let him choose his own time. There are some very valuable intervals of time which occur in every ship, which are generally wasted, and which a Seaman who wants to get time for thought will have little difficulty in using. These are after the decks are cleared up and the bugle has sounded off “cooks," before dinner and supper, when ropes have been coiled down, or the brass rags have been returned and the watch on deck wait only the pipe to go below. The hours for mealsthe first watch at sea (after the singing is over)--the middle watch at sea (directly after the watch has been mustered, or better still, if there is “optional,” after that has been served out) ---the times between cleaning and quarters, or between shifting into night clothing and quarters, all these will suggest five or six precious minutes which a man will use who is on the look out for them.
A few words are added on the best way of conducting the examination.
It is a good thing for a man to examine himself, not only before coming to Holy Communion, but every day. If he does so, and thus gets into the habit of doing it, it is astonishing how much easier he will find it than if he examines himself only at rare intervals. He ought never to begin without lifting up his heart to God the HOLY SPIRIT to beg for a blessing on His work. Then let him adopt one of the following courses.
(1) Think carefully over the events of the day, beginning from the time when he turned out of his hammock in the morning watch, asking himself some such questions as these : Was my first thought about God? Did I say my prayers? Did I resolve to avoid some particular sin during the day? Did I swear or use any bad language ? How did I employ my thoughts between lashing up and breakfast ? Talking or listening when scrubbing decks? Or when cleaning the mess or lower decks ? When cleaning myself? At quarters for cleaning guns? At divisions ? At Prayers ? Did I pray at all then ? Watch on deck ? Or watch below? On Sentry? And so on. The principal events of ihe day will be fresh in his memory. His conscience may generally be safely trusted to tell him when he has done wrong. In this manner he will at last arrive at the time when he is making the examination, if he is doing it just before turning in. Or he may divide the examination into two parts-devoting five minutes to it in the dinner hour, and five minutes again in the evening. This will relieve the memory. Then let him gather up in a moment the sins he remembers by name, and make a note of them. He will probably have time then to say the short prayer for forgiveness on page 14; or, he may cry to GOD from his heart using his own words, and begging God to give him strength to break with these sins.
(2) Or if he has time, especially on a Sunday or Thursday afternoon, let him examine himself by the rule of God's commandments with the help of the following questions,—first of all saying this prayer :
Almighty God, who knowest my inmost thoughts and canst not therefore be deceived, assist me in this my examination that I may see how I have offended Thee in thought, word, and deed. By repenting of my sins let me obtain Thy pardon and peace; through JESUS CHRIST.
First Commandment. Do I try to love and serve God with all my heart ? Am I in the habit of trusting in myself or others instead of in GOD?
Have I neglected my duty to GOD, such as prayers, reading the Bible, Holy Communion, for fear of being laughed at by my messmates or shipmates ?
Do I aim at doing all my daily duties as in God's sight?
Do I willingly make companions of those who mock at religion ?
Am I proud of my talents, religion, repentance, or any good I have done?
Second Commandment. Do I attend Divine Worship on board or on shore as often as I can?