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MEMOIR OF THE LATE CAPTAIN J. COWIE.
It was our painful duty, last month, to annonnce the decease of our estimable friend Captain Cowie, who had then but just finished his course, and entered his rest. In conformity with our promise we have much pleasure in furnishing a brief memoir of the departed saint, the materials of which have been obtained from our senior Thames missionary, and which cannot fail to instruct and interest every one, who, in humility and fidelity, is seeking to follow those who through faith and patience are now inheriting the promises.
Capt Cowie, was a native of Scotland, and went to sea when he was about the age of fifteen. In the former part of his life, he was much exposed to hardships and dangers, being several voyages to Greenland and Davis' Straits. He was also impressed into the navy, and served in several ships of war. During the French war he was captured and taken prisoner, but on the return of the peace was liberated, when he returned to his native land. All this time he was a stranger to the truth as it is in Christ. Though frequently the subject of powerful convictions it was not till the year 1817, whilst mate of the brig 'Venus,' of South Shields, that he became truly acquainted with the great and important truths of salvation. But on this change being effected, he very soon after joined himself to the Wesleyan Society, at South Shields; and his firm attachment to the cause of Christ, was fully evinced by his taking an active part at the Bethel meetings amongst sailors, then just established. In this labour of love, he was aided by many other pious captains and sailors.
His ship was known as a Bethel ship, not only in the port of London, but in ports both provincial and foreign. He possessed a Bethel-flag of his own,— carried it with him wherever he went, and was on no occasion ashamed to display this sacred colour when opportunity occurred, or when there appeared any probability of good being done.
At Woolwich and Greenhithe, he formed an intimate acquaintance with several pious and godly persons, with whom he made it his effort to spend the sacred sabbath. With this view he so planned, on his passage up, (being latterly in the coasting trade) as if possible to get near one or other of those places. He highly valued the christian society of those among whom his lot was there cast; and in their fellowship, experienced no ordinary degree of satisfaction and delight.
At Greenhithe, where he often used to ballast his ship, and more frequently spend the Lord's-day, he was not very seldom engaged in unfolding the truths of the everlasting gospel; and many a time has he been heard to detail circumstances connected with these engagements, of the most pleasing character. It seemed to be his very delight to work for Christ. His mode of address was simple and unassuming, yet clear and scriptural; and his arguments being founded on the truths of the gospel, were truly pointed and forcible. Of him it may justly be said, that he laid the axe to the root of the tree. He dealt faithfully with the
conscience, and whilst bringing before men the claims of the gospel, or holding up to their view Christ and him crucified, he was ever careful to deliver his own soul. His zeal for God was most manifest. Wherever he perceived or met with sin, he immediately reproved it; and never did he fail to admonish the offender, and beseech him to flee from the wrath to come.
As a christian, he was highly exemplary for his consistency of conduct, his selfpossession, and evenness of temper. In prayer, he was scriptural and powerful. He experienced, and therefore knew the value of devotion. It was the very delight of his soul to hold fellowship with God.
Yet our lamented friend was no stranger to the trials and afflictions of life. More than once he was called to pass through deep waters, and drink the cup of Yet in all his afflictions he found adequate support, and was often heard to say, 'It must be light, for underneath and around me are the everlasting arms.'
About two years ago, when coming up the Thames, he received a blow on the left side with the ships' tiller, which was followed by very acute pain, of which he afterwards complained much. He had recourse to medical aid, and by the blessing of God on the means employed, he so far recovered, as to be able to proceed to Shields. During this period of illness, he manifested great heavenly-mindedness; and notwithstanding the weakness and pain, from which he was suffering, there were visible a happy tranquillity and composure of spirit.
The effects of this injury were never wholly removed, and his health evidently declined each successive voyage ;-still he enjoyed peace of mind. He could speak of approaching dissolution, as one who was conversant with death, and who viewed it not afar off; and was therefore preparing to lay down the earthly tenement,-to put off the tabernacle of mortality. His whole conversation indicated, that like the great apostle, he 'desired to depart, and be with Christ, which is far better, Absent from the body and present with the Lord.'
During the last tempestuous winter in which so many thousands found a watery grave, our dear friend was exposed to the most imminent dangers. He suffered much from the fatal storms of that fatal season. Through a kind and gracious providence, however, he was preserved from shipwreck and death; but while he survived the tempest and the storm, disease was entering more deeply into his system. His strength became so reduced, that his medical adviser, in Shields, conceived it necessary that he should, during the period of one or two voyages, remain at home, and enjoy the benefit of rest and recreation. He did so, and hopes were entertained of his ultimate recovery. On his partial restoration, but before his strength was sufficiently confirmed, he was induced, about the middle of last May, to take another voyage to London. On his passage, being somewhat exposed, he caught a cold, which settled on his system, and resulted in the return of his former disease, accompanied with erisypelas, so that on his arrival in the port of London, medical aid became indispensably necessary. From this time he daily became more enfeebled, till by the advice of his medical attendant, it was deemed better to remove him on shore. But previous to his removal, and while the subject of much suffering, his mind was at perfect rest;-stayed on Christ, he enjoyed divine support. His very countenance was illumined, and beamed with a holy joy. He loved to converse and dwell on divine things. On being asked, What would you now do without religion?' he replied, 'Why, sink!'—but added 'the religion of Christ is no cunningly devised fable;-there is a reality in it. I would not give up my hopes of salvation for ten thousand worlds. My Saviour will not forsake me now. No, no;-it shall go well with me, even in death!
Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.' His strength and his voice failed him; he could say no more. For a while we were silent; when suddenly raising his eyes with his emaciated hand to heaven, he exclaimed :—
'My Jesus ever lives above-for me to intercede.'
When the question was put to him,- Do you feel Christ precious?' he replied, 'Precious Jesus !'
"Yes! thou art precious to my soul,—my Saviour and my God!'
Then pausing for a minute, as though to recover strength, said :
'I long to enjoy the embrace of his love.'
When he was taken on shore, and placed, on the bed on which he died, he remarked,—' This will be my last bed; I shall not be long here.' It was said to him, 'You are in the Lord's hands;' calmly and with christian resignation, he replied, 'All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come.' After a friend had engaged in prayer with him, he said, 'I am going home to glory. Praise God!-praise God!' His strength failed him, and feeling faint and exhausted, he added, 'Oh for strength to praise!' He could go no further, nature sank, and utterance there were none.
Next day on being visited, he was asked,- Have you doubts or fears oppressing your mind?' His reply was, 'No; thanks be to God, all is peace! The enemy is not suffered to come near.' He then appeared to be much in prayer; and when he spoke, could rejoice in a sin-pardoning God. In answer to a question put by a pious brother-captain, relative to his temporal affairs, but which involved a reference to Long-reach, where a number of collier vessels lay, he said,— 'If my vessel was in Long-reach, and I was well, London would have little of my company. I should find full employment among my little flock at Greenhithe. They are plain, humble christians; I love them much.'
It now became evident that his end was approaching; his faculties having become greatly impaired and weakened, his mind at intervals wandered; but even then, no sooner was mention made of any thing to him relative to the salvation of his soul, or his interest in Christ, than reason appeared to resume her seat, and holy rapture fill his soul. He passed one whole night in little else than singing a favourite hymn; and in the morning he appeared to be in a most delightful state of mind. He spoke of his confidence in Christ, in such a manner as to assure every one that he was in the full enjoyment of a hope blooming with immortality. To the question, ‘Are you able now, whilst passing through the valley of the shadow of death, to trust Christ with your soul?' he answered, (raising himself up, and exerting his utmost strength,) "Yes! with ten thousand souls if I had them!' 'Have you no fear-no doubts?' 'No, no ;-thanks be to God!' He then attempted to sing; the only word that could be heard or understood, was— 'Grace.' His speech began to fail him, but with uplifted hands he appeared (sensible of his approaching dissolution) to be engaged in prayer. It was said, 'You feel the need of prayer;' he replied, 'O yes!' and holding up his hands, said, 'Pray-pray-pray!' It was remarked to him, You are now on the suburbs of glory, another step and you will be at home. He answered, 'I have a desire,-Oh! to be with Christ!' Here his speech failed him. Solemn prayer was
then offered; he appeared to be not only earnestly engaged as far as his strength would admit, but to understand what was said. At the close he was found bathed in sweat. Nature was making its last struggle. Again we commended his spirit to God; and in about an hour after this, he closed his earthly career, dying in peace,-falling asleep in Jesus.
The death of this holy and excellent man, took place on Monday, June 10th, at half-past one o'clock in the afternoon. And on Friday, the 14th of the same month, his mortal remains, which were borne and attended by a goodly number of Bethel captains, were interred in the burial ground adjoining Ebenezer Chapel, Shadwell; when the senior pastor of the place, (the Rev. C. Hyatt,) first delivered an appropriate address in the chapel, and afterwards a very spirit-stirring oration at the grave to all assembled, but especially to masters of ships, and to seamen in general.
On the following sabbath, his funeral sermon was preached in the Sailors' Chapel, Shadwell, by the Rev. R. Ferguson, to a numerous and deeply attentive audience, composed chiefly of seamen, to many of whom the deceased was well known. It was a solemn but interesting scene. And it is hoped, that the impression which seemed to have been produced on the minds of many, will lead to results which will add to the joy of heaven, and the songs of angels.
In closing this brief memoir of an eminent saint and faithful servant of Christ, we would impress it on the minds of pious masters, that in the removal of their departed brother, they have a loud and urgent call to renewed devotedness, and to enlarged effort in the cause of God. You have in charge the souls of your crews. Watch for these souls. The hour of your departure and of your account is rapidly approaching. Be faithful unto death. Abound in the work of the Lord, that when you rest from your labour, your works may follow you; and by their great character, give additional weight and lustre to the crown of life.
AGENT'S MEETING-HELD ON FRIDAY EVENING, 19th JULY.
If there be any efficacy in prayer, we cannot but believe that the spirit of devotion which pervades these monthly concerts, will secure a yet larger measure of holy special influence on the labours in which we are engaged. And just as our work cannot be done, so our prayers cannot receive their full answer, till the abundance of the sea is converted,'
Senior Thames Missionary.-CAPT. PRYNN. With thankfulness to God, I look back on the multiplied labours and increased engagements of the past month. Many circumstances of both
a pleasing nature and otherwise, have come within my notice. But on a review of the whole, I have much reason to take courage and go forward. My ground of rejoicing is, that God is bless
ing the work. This is evident from the events of every month. The number of pious captains is increasing, whose holy influence will by the blessing of God, bear on the moral and spiritual interest of their brethren. From this source, we may anticipate much good, especially among those, who, on foreign voyages, are shut up in the narrow limits of a ship for months together. The godly example of the pious captain or mate will restrain the vices of the thoughtless and inconsiderate sailor, and lead many to seek refuge in Christ. Oh! when will all our seamen be brought home to God!
Welcome that auspicious day,
A most pleasing instance of good, resulting from holy example, is furnished in the case of the ship R. lately arrived off a voyage of nearly four years. On board this ship, the service of God had been regularly carried on, and when touching at any of the islands in the Southern Pacific Ocean, where missionaries were established, the crew were taken on shore, to attend divine worship during the whole of the sabbath. This became matter of observation among the captains and crews of other ships, who were astonished at the order, steadiness, and attention of those men, together with the cleanliness and discipline apparent on board the ship. Temperance greatly obtained among all on board. The captain, who has not tasted ardent spirits for many years, although visiting those remote and distant regions, assured me that the greater part of his crew had followed his example, and abandoned the use of ardent spirits; and that he had the happiness to know, that several of them had evidenced an entire change of conduct, and, he trusted, were decided for Christ. This is what we wish
to see more fully exemplified. Then should we often be in possession, as in this case of 'good news from a far country. One of the Society's libraries was put on board previous to her leaving London, and I am happy to be informed, that the books have been attentively and profitably read.
Other instances of a similar nature have come under my notice, and the interviews which I have had with some captains have been of a most pleasing character. Nor have the crews been unmindful of the Society. They have freely given their contributions to aid its funds and operations.
Ship-Visitation.-In alluding to this important branch of my duty, I may truly say, that divine light long anticipated is seen to spread abroad, and by it, the thick dark clouds of ignorance and prejudice are passing away. The enquiry on the part of captains, mates, and sailors, When will you come and hoist the flag on board of our vessel,' has been more general, than on former occasions. There have been five or six applications at a time. Only one could be attended to. Several pious friends, who have accompanied me when holding religious services, have kindly assisted in the work of the Lord, and proffered their continued assistance, and expressed their delight in witnessing the prosperity of the cause of Christ among sailors. There is much earnest devotion in the sailor's prayer. With regard to many whom I have heard pray, but who never prayed in public before, it was evident that they had been taught rather in the school of Christ, than at the feet of Gamaliel.
I have visited 380 vessels on the river, 131 vessels in the docks; held sixteen religious services on the river, where 417 persons have attended, and 64 captains and sailors have offered up prayer and supplication to the God of all their mercies;-1097 tracts have been dis