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They watch the light.



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Do you think we shall get 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 toward 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 for another half-hour, though wind and wave seemed to do their utmost to compel him to return. The light grew larger and brighter as the vessel 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 upon the dark gloomy horizon until he was completely 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, "READY, ABOUT.”

The sailors answered, "READY."

A moment after, the captain's voice was again heard, in the loud but monotonous tone of command, "HELM'S A-LEE." There was bustle at the bows of the ship. A great sail flapped in the wind with a sound of thunder; the ropes rattled; the boom swung with violence across the deck; and the bow, which had been pointed directly to the light-house, their only star of hope, now swept swiftly around the horizon, until it left it behind them. The vessel plunged into the

Splitting of the topsail.


waves; and to complete this scene 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 among the passengers below, that the effort to reach Boston was abandoned, and that they were now standing out to the open sea, and that consequently 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

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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 labored so much in struggling against its fury, that even the captain thought it doubtful whether they should ever see the land.

In commencing this description, I did not intend to have given so full a narrative of the circumstances of this storm, and perhaps the reader has almost forgotten the subject which we are considering, and the purpose for which this incident is introduced. The subject is the feelings with which prayer should be offered in danger, and the narrative was introduced simply to present a distinct idea of a situation of danger, on the deep. The passengers in this packet were now in very

Protection never certain.

Object of prayer in danger.

imminent danger. They were all in their berths below, for so violent was the motion of the vessel, that it was not safe to attempt to stand. The wish was intimated by some of the company, and the desire soon extended to all, that a prayer should be offered; and they looked to our Christian traveler to express their petitions at the throne of grace.

Many persons may have such conceptions of the nature of prayer, as to suppose that if this company should now sincerely unite in commending themselves to God's protection, he would take care of them, and that they might feel perfectly safe. Many cases have occurred in which Christians, who have been in the midst of danger, have fled to Jehovah for protection, and have had their fears immediately quelled, and felt a calm and happy assurance that God would bring them through in safety. But such an assurance is not usually well grounded. Are real Christians never lost at sea? Do real Christians who on their sick beds pray that God will restore them to health, never die? Is a Christian who, on commencing a journey asks divine protection, never overturned in a coach? Is the family which always asks, in its evening prayer, that God will grant them quiet repose, never called up by the sudden sickness of a child, or aroused at midnight by a cry of fire? Facts universally testify that God does not grant every request. He reserves to himself the right, after hearing the petition, to grant or to deny, as may seem best to him.

You will perhaps say, Of what avail is it then, to pray to God in danger, if we can have no assurance that we shall be saved? It avails much. You can not be sure that you will be certainly preserved from that danger, but you can rest calmly and peacefully in the assurance that God will do what is on the whole for the best. "And will this feeling," you ask, "enable any one to rest in peace while he is out at sea in a storm, and in danger every moment of sinking?”


His peace of mind.

Yes, it will, if fully possessed. If we could feel assured that God was our friend, and if we had entire confidence in him, no danger would terrify us; we should be calm and happy in all situations. Christians have very often been calm and happy when not danger merely but certain death was approaching, so strong has been their confidence in God. Even Socrates, who had no revelation to guide him, and to whom the future must have been consequently very dark and uncertain, even he met his fate not merely with fortitude, but with calmness and peace, through the trust he reposed in his heavenly Protector.

He was in a cold dungeon, where his enemies had imprisoned him from jealousy of his extensive influence in behalf of virtue. He had been condemned to die, and in a few days the cup of poison was to be given him to drink. His wife came to his prison to bid him farewell; but she was so overwhelmed with agitation and sorrow that she could not remain. His other friends were around him in tears,—but he was all the time unmoved. He talked of the principles of duty, and of his hopes of a happy immortality after the poison should have done its work. Presently they brought him the fatal cup. His friends were overwhelmed with the most agitating sorrow, but he did not fear. He seemed to confide in divine protection, and took the poison from the jailer's hands and drank it all. He walked about a little while, and then lay down upon his bed and died. And shall a Christian, who knows the affection of his heavenly Father, and who is sure that there is a future world of peace and joy, shall he refuse to be calm in danger, unless he can first be sure that he shall certainly be preserved uninjured? No. When we ask God's protection in danger, we may, in all ordinary cases, expect protection. He has promised to grant our requests, unless special reasons prevent. Now as we may not know what these special reasons are, we can not be

True composure in danger.

The prayer.

certain of security, and consequently the foundation of our peace and happiness at such times must be, not the belief that we are certainly safe, but a calm and happy acquiescence in God's will. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without his knowledge-still sparrows often do fall. All that we can be absolutely certain of is, that whatever happens to us will come with the knowledge and permission of our best and greatest Friend—and every calamity which comes in this way, we ought to be willing to meet.

But to return to our ship. The passengers were all below. It was no longer safe for them to attempt to stand in any part of the vessel, and the Christian traveler, looking out from the berth to which he had retreated, called upon God to save them from their common danger. What prayer he offered I do not know. I learned the circumstances of the danger of this packet, first from a father on shore who was awaiting the arrival of his boy, who was on board when the storm came on, and afterward from several of the passengers when they had all safely reached the land. I do not therefore know what the prayer was, but that I may the more distinctly convey to my young readers an idea of the spirit with which prayer in danger should be offered, I will write one which, it seems to me, might with propriety, on such an occasion, be offered. Let us imagine then that the terrified passengers in their various berths in the dark cabin listen and hear, as well as the howling of the tempest and the roaring of the waves will permit, the following petition, in which they endeavor cordially to join:

Almighty God, thou hast promised to be with two or three who unite to call upon thee, wherever they are; we come, therefore, with full confidence that thou art with us now, and that thou, who dost rule wind and waves, art really present, to hear what we have to say as we come before thee.

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