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by committing ourselves to God's care; but we can never feel, on that account, sure that we are safe. God very often makes sickness, or a storm at sea, or the lightning, or any other source of common danger and alarm, the means of removing a Christian from the world. You do not know but that He will remove you in this way. The next time a thunder-storm arises in the west, it may be God's design to bring one of its terrific bolts upon your head; and you cannot avert it, by simply asking God to spare you. He will listen to your prayer; take it into kind consideration; and, if you ask in a proper spirit, he will probably give you a calm and happy heart, even in the most imminent danger. But you cannot be sure that you will be safe from the storm. The ground of your peace must be, that God will do what is best; not that he will certainly do what you wish.
From one of the small sea-port towns of New England, a packet once set sail for Boston. These packets, which are intended to carry passengers, have one large cabin. The berths (which perhaps I ought to inform some of my younger readers, are a sort of large shelves, upon which passengers at sea sleep, one above the other) are arranged around this cabin; and a moveable partition, which can be thrown open by day, divides the room at night into two parts. On board one of these packets, then, a few years ago, a number of persons, ladies and gentlemen, previously entire strangers to each other, found themselves slowly sailing out of an eastern harbour on a coasting voyage of about two hundred miles. They did not know how long they were to be together, what adventures might befall them, or what dangers they might share. They were, however, to spend their time in the same room; and, as they were tossing upon the waves in the same vessel, a sense of common interest and of common danger brought them at once to terms of intimacy.
The next morning there was scarcely a breath of air. The vessel heaved gently on the water, whose surface was polished like glass, though it swelled and sunk with the undulations of distant storms. In the tedium of waiting for wind, each one of the passengers and crew amused himself in his own way. Here, you might see a cluster talking: there, two or three passengers gathering around a sailor who was letting down his line for fish: others, in various places, had their books.
A Christian traveller, who was present, sat down upon the quarter-deck, and opened a little bundle of books and newspapers and tracts, which he had provided for the occasion.
Presently a gentleman who had been sitting for halfan-hour gazing, for want of other employment, upon every sprig of sea-weed or floating bubble he could see, advanced to him, and asked,
"Will you lend me something to read ?"
Certainly, sir, any thing I have. I do not know that they will be interesting to you: most of my stock here is of a religious character, and I do not know whether you will take an interest in it.”
The gentleman replied that he should. He selected a newspaper or a tract, took his seat again, and began to read. Presently a lady made the same request. Others looked as though they wished to ask, but hesitated. Our traveller, observing this, said to all within hearing:
" If any others of the company would like any thing I have, I should be happy to have them take it. I always carry a supply of reading when I travel; though I select my books, perhaps, too much to suit my own taste alone. What I have here is chiefly of a religious character, and it may not be so generally interesting on that account. You are heartily welcome to any of these, however, if you please. It is rather dull sitting here, with nothing to do."
The books and tracts were soon generally in circulation; the passengers were nearly all busy in reading them; and the time passed swiftly away. Our traveller became known as a Christian; and, were I now upon the subject of Christian influence, I might describe many interesting occurrences which took place, the Christian acquaintances which he formed, and the conversations he had with various persons on board the vessel. But I am going so much into detail in this story, that I fear you have almost lost sight of our subject; which is, The duty of praying to God; with the feeling, that He will, after all, do as He pleases about granting the request.I must hasten to the conclusion of my story.
The passage was an uncommonly long one. They hoped to reach their port in two days; but, after ten had passed away, they were still far from Boston; night was coming on; and, what was still worse, the captain, who stood anxiously at the helm, said there were signs of an approaching storm. A dark haze extended itself over the whole southern sky. The swell of the sea increased. The. rising wind moaned in most melancholy tones through the rigging. The captain gave orders to take in sail, to make every thing snug about the vessel; and had supper prepared earlier than usual; "Because," said he, “I expect, from the looks of the sky yonder, that an hour hence you will not manage a cup of tea very handily."
The passengers ate their supper in silence. Their hearts were full of foreboding fears. The captain endeavoured to encourage them. He said that they were not far from Boston: he hoped soon to see The Light. If they could make out to get into the habour before it began to blow very hard, they should be safe. Yes," said he, "I am in hopes to land you all safely at the T before ten o'clock. Unless we can get fairly into the harbour, however, I shall have to put about, and stand out to sea;
for, if we are to have a storm, we must not stay tossing about near the rocks."
The storm increased. Sail after sail was reefed or taken in; but still the spirits of the company were sustained by knowing that they were advancing towards Boston, and by the hope that they should soon stand upon the firm shore. So great, however, was the pitching and rolling of the ship, that most of the passengers retreated to their berths, and braced themselves there. A few of the more hardy, or more experienced, remained upon deck, clinging to the masts or to the rigging; and watching, with intense interest, the distant glimmering of the Boston Light, which had a short time before come into view.
"We are not very far from the Light," said the captain; "but it blows pretty hard."
"Do think we shall you in?" asked a passenger. "I do not know," said he, shaking his head: "it is a bad night. I will, however, try for it."
The passengers watched the Light. They observed that the captain did not like to talk while he was at the helm, and they forbore to ask him questions. They knew, that as long as they were going towards the Light, there was hope; and they watched it, therefore, with a very eager eye. Sometimes the ship would veer a little from her course; and, as the Light moved off to the right or to the left, they were filled with solicitude, lest the captain was going to abandon the effort, and put out again to sea.
He kept, however, steadily on another half-hour, though wind and waves seemed to do their utmost to compel him to return. The Light grew larger and brighter as they approached it; but the wind increased so rapidly, that the captain seemed much perplexed to know what to do. He put the helm into the hands of a sailor; and went forward, and stood there looking into the dark,
gloomy horizon, until he was completly drenched with the spray. In a few minutes he returned suddenly.
""Tis of no use!" said he: and then taking the helm again, he called out, in his loudest voice, to the sailors who were before; which, however, the roaring of the waves almost drowned,
The sailors answered, "Ready."
A moment after, the captain's voice was again heard, in the loud but monotonous tone of command,
There was a bustle at the bows of the ship. sail flapped in the wind with a sound of thunder. ropes rattled. The boom swung with violence across the deck; and the bow, which had been pointed directly to the light-house, which had been their only star of hope, swept swiftly around the horizon, until it left it behind them. The vessel plunged into the waves; and, to complete the causes of terror, a loud sound, like a clap of rattling thunder, burst close over their heads, arousing every passenger, and producing universal alarm. It was the splitting of the topsail.
The melancholy intelligence was soon spread below, that the effort to reach Boston was abandoned, and that they were now standing out to the open sea; and that they must be all night exposed, unsheltered, to the violence of the storm. Although the commotion had been already enough to fill the passengers with fear, yet, to an eye accustomed to the ocean, there had not been any real danger. But real danger soon came. The wind increased; and the vessel laboured so much, in struggling against its fury, that even the captain thought it doubtful whether they should ever see the land.
When I commenced this description, I had no intention of giving so full a narrative of the circumstances of a