Page images

Narratives, Anecdotes, &c.


“God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform ;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,

And rides upon the storm.”

Returning by the Belfast night mail to my distant parish in the North, from the Dublin Clerical Meetings of the year 1839, I found myself placed opposite to a gentleman, whose appearance engrossed, rather than attracted, my most profoạnd attention. His age, as he afterwards told me, was sixty; and perhaps I should have conjectured as much, though exposure to weather, cares, anxieties, and dangers, with a certain air of seriousness which seemed, as it were, to preside over them all, spoke, more than the effects of time, the progress of my fellow-traveller's earthly pilgrimage. In truth, his countenance was such a one as no observant physiognomist could contemplate without interest, or mark its amiable and diversified expression with. out respect and love. The coach in which we sat had scarcely cleared the pavement, and was rolling along the comparatively silent highway, when my companion addressed me with great ease and politeness. A few minutes sufficed to shew that the predominating sentiment of his heart was religion. His conversation was alınost exclusively of that character; and as he poured out the rich store of gospel truth and experience from the exhaustless treasury of a converted soul, the night had insensibly wore away, and the sun was long risen, as we changed horses at the last stage.

Little more than an hour remained, and I must probably part for ever from a man by whose conversation I had been inexpressibly captivated. I felt, as may be easily conceived, a strong desire to learn his history, and thus to fix more permanently on my mind the impression he had made. Accordingly, I asked him whether the turning of his heart to God had been caused by any sudden danger, or merely connected with his seafaring life (he had already told me that he com. manded a vessel trading between Liverpool and America), or was of a gradual growth? My question seemed to please him ; at least he replied to it with the utmost courtesy, saying, that in the last year but one of the last war, he was waiting in port with a fleet of merchantmen till convoy should arrive, it being deemed unsafe to sail without such protection. His habits, he observed, had always been irregular, to give them no stronger term, and he passed the period of detention in practices he could not look back on without sorrow.

At length the signal to weigh anchor was made, and his ship, as were also many others, was so short of hands, that he was glad to accept of any person who offered himself, however inexperienced he might be in navigation. At the very instant of departure, a boat came along-side, out of which a tall, robust man climbed actively on the deck, and gave himself in as a seaman willing to engage for the voyage. The boat which brought him had returned to the shore, and the wind was blowing nearly a gale; but, under every circumstance, my friend said he was glad to get even the addition of an equivocal hand to his scanty crew. His pleasure, however, was of short duration, for the new comer was soon found to be of a most quarrelsome, untractable disposition, a furious blasphemer, and, when opportunity offered, a drunkard. Besides all these disqualifications, he was wholly ignorant of nautical affairs, or counterfeited ignorance to escape duty. In short, he was the bane and plague of the vessel, and refused obstinately to give any account of himself, or his family, or his past life.

At length a violent storm arose, all hands were piped upon deck, and all, as the captain thought, were too few to save the ship. When the men were mustered to their quarters, the sturdy blasphemer was missing, and my friend went below to seek for him; great was his surprise at finding him on his knees, repeating the Lord's prayer with wonderful rapidity, over and over again, as if he had bound himself to countless reiterations; vexed at what he deemed hypocrisy or cowardice, he shook him roughly by the collar, exclaiming, “Say your prayers in fair weather.” The man rose up, observing in a low voice, “God grant I may ever see fair weather to say them.”

In a few hours the storm happily abated, a week more brought them to harbour, and an incident so trivial passed quickly away from the memory of the captain,-the more easily, as the man in question was paid off the day after landing, and appeared not again.

Four more years had elapsed, during which, though my friend had twice been shipwrecked, and was grievously hurt by the falling of a spar, he pursued, without amendment, a life of profligacy and contempt of God. At the end of this period he arrived in the port of New York, after a very tedious and dangerous voyage from England.

It was on a Sabbath morning, and the streets were thronged with persons proceeding to the several houses of worship with which that city abounds; but the narrator, from whose lips I take this anecdote, was bent on far other occupation, designing to drown the recollection of perils and deliverances in a celebrated tavern, which he had too long and too often frequented. As he walked leisurely towards this goal, he encountered a very dear friend, the quondam associate of many a thoughtless hour. Salutations over, the captain seized him by the arm, declaring that he should accompany him to the hotel. “I will do so," replied the other, with great calmness, “on condition that you come with me first for a single hour into this house (a church), and thank God for his mercies to you on the deep.” The captain was ashamed to refuse, so the two friends entered the temple together. Already all the seats were occupied, and a dense crowd filled the aisle; but by dint of personal exertion, they succeeded in reaching a position right in front of the pulpit, at about five yards distance. The preacher, one of the most popular of the day, rivetted the attention of the entire congregation, including the captain himself, to whom his features and voice, though he could not assign any time or place of previous meeting, seemed not wholly unknown. At length the preacher's eyes fell upon the spot where the two friends stood. He suddenly paused—still gazing upon the captain, as if to make sure that he was labouring under no optical delusion—and, after a silence of more than a minute, pronounced, with a voice that shook the building, “Say your prayers in fair weather.”

The audience were lost in amazement; nor was it until a considera. ble time had elapsed that the preacher recovered sufficient self-possession to recount the incident with which the reader is already acquainted, adding, with deep emotion, that the words which his captain uttered in the storm, had clung to him by day and by night after his landing, as if an angel had been charged with the duty of repeating them in his ears,—that he felt the holy call as coming direct from above, to do the work of his crucified Master,_that he had studied at college for the ministry, and was now, through grace, such as they saw and heard.

At the conclusion of this affecting address, he called on the audience to join in prayer with himself, that the same words might be blessed in turn to him who first had used them. But God had outrun their petitions—my friend was already his child before his former shipmate had ceased to tell his story. The power of the Spirit had wrought effectually upon him, and subdued every lofty imagination. And so, when the people dispersed, he exchanged the hotel for the house of the preacher, with whom he tarried six weeks, and parted from him to pursue his profession, with a heart devoted to the service of his Saviour, and with holy and happy assurances, which (as he declared to me, and I confidently rely in his truth) advancing years hallowed, strengthened, and sanctified.

From that companion of a night I then parted, probably not to meet again till we stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. His history is too palpably instructive to require that I should add my own reflections. And with one only I conclude addressing those persons who seek God merely in the hours of danger and troublein the words of the captain, “SAY YOUR WEATHER."


“WILL YOU MEET ME THERE, FATHER ?” An infidel, some years ago, allowed his wife to send their two children to a Sunday-school. One of them, not long afterwards, was seized with illness, and it soon appeared, from the nature of the disease, that he could not recover. The father came home, on the last evening of the child's life, from an infidel meeting, under the influence of the sentiments and principles usually taught in such societies, when his wife said to him, “James is dying.” The father went up stairs, approached the bed-side of his dying child, and while the father was looking upon him, the child said, “Father, I am very happy; I am going to heaven; will you meet me there, father?” and immediately expired. This appeal was too much for him. Uttered with so much simplicity, and dictated by the Eternal Spirit, it was engraved on the tablet of his heart as with a pen of iron upon lead, and sculptured there for ever. He made many efforts to efface the impression from his mind, but without effect. He confesses that he was a drunkard, a blasphemer, and, to use his own language, “the vilest wretch out of hell.” The appeal continued to be more and more affecting to him, and on one Sabbath, having driven a party a few miles from town, for he was the driver of a fly, he put up his horses quickly, and went to church. One of the lessons for the day was 2 Sam. xiii., containing the reflections of David on the death of his child. When he heard the words, “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me,” he thought, “It is impossible.” His past life and infidel ridicule forbade the hope that he should ever meet his child in that happy world. Still his mind was greatly distressed. He had no pious friend; he could get neither light nor peace in this season of mental anguish. An agent of the City Mission at length called upon him; the man disclosed his state of mind; and the instructions, counsels, and prayers of the agent were blessed by the Holy Spirit: the man has renounced his infidelity; his character is entirely changed; he and his wife are regular worshippers in the house of God, and he is now cherishing the hope that he shall meet his child in heaven.

Father, mother, have you children in heaven? and WILL YOU MEET THEY THERE ?

“WHAT HAST THOU DONE FOR ME?" A clergyman in Germany, who had exercised the ministerial office for twelve years, while destitute of faith in the Redeemer and love to Him, was invited one day by a wealthy citizen, one of the members of his congregation, with some other guests, to a collation at his house. Directly opposite to him on the wall, hung a picture of Christ on the cross, with two lines written under it,

“ I did this for thee;
What hast thou done for me?"

The picture caught his attention; as he read the lines they seemed to pierce him, and he was involuntarily seized with a feeling such as he had never experienced before. Tears rushed into his eyes, he said little to the company, and took his leave as soon as he could. On his way home these lines constantly sounded in his ears, divine grace prevented all philosophical doubts and explanations from entering his soul, and he could do nothing but give himself up entirely to the overpowering feeling; even during the night, in his dreams, the question stood always before his mind, “What hast thou done for me?" He died in about three months after this remarkable and happy change had taken place in his temper and views, triumphing in the Saviour, and expressing admiration of His redeeming love.

Reader, apply these lines to your own character. Think what your Lord has done for you, and how you have treated him in return. Does he not say to you, in tones of thrilling tenderness,

“ I did this for thee;
What hast thou done for me?”


THE BLASPHEMER'S DEATH.-There is something so terribly startling in the following facts, which so fearfully exemplify the sin and peril of blaspheming the name of the Eternal, that had we not made careful enquiry among those living where the occurrence took place, we should have believed the whole to have been an exaggerated rumour, rather than the awfully true narrative of a dreadful judgment. On the morning of Sunday last, a married woman residing at the Friars, Newport, named Sarah Morgan, was observed with her infant in her arms, near her own house, disputing with a woman named Elizabeth Volan. A quarrel of a violent character, as far as words went, ensued, and in reply to an observation made by the woman Volan, Morgan exclaimed that she hoped the God Almighty would strike her blind, deaf, dumb, and stiff, if she did not revenge herself upon her in a particular manner. Almost directly she staggered, let her child fall from her arms, and would herself have fallen but that her neighbours immediately assisted her. A surgeon was promptly in attendance, and, we need scarcely remark, continued to render her every assistance which medical skill could suggest. From the moment that she was thus mysteriously stricken to the hour of her death, the only words she uttered, just after she was borne into the house were“Lord have mercy upon my poor soul—have mercy on my poor chil. dren,” and then her voice failed her and she became dumb; her sense of hearing was destroyed, her eyes became glassy and sightless, and in about sixty hours from the moment in which she was struck down,

« PreviousContinue »