« ZurückWeiter »
at But now a sudden change came over the whole
remonstrance would at that time have been useless THE SCOTCH FERRY-BOAT.
also; so "he held his peace, even from good, though JHE ferry-boat
his sorrow was stirred.”
On leaving Newhaven the sun was bright, about to be held the water calm, and the wind gentle. The boat at a place on the was half way across the Frith, four miles from either opposite side of shore, when the sky became suddenly over-cast, the the water, which wind rose to a storm, and the waves began to roll was several miles with a violence which threatened destruction to the broad. The com- boat. In addition to its being fearfully overladen with pany on board,
its living freight, it was very old, clumsy, awkward numbering about to manage, and insufficiently manned. two hundred, were
The storm increased to a terrible tempest. Rain mostly dissolute men of the fell in torrents, and the wind blew with a fury that class who wander about from struck terror into the hearts of all on board. It fair to fair. Their ostensible is needless to say that the sport was over for that business was to buy and sell,
time. Presently came forward the captain of the and get gain, or to make gain ferry-boat. in less reputable ways. Almost all were ignorant, de- “I and my men have done all in our power," said praved, vicious, and profane. Oaths and
he to the affrighted crowd of passengers who, pale and polluted the ear, and contaminated the dark souls of prostrated by sickness, were huddled together in every utterers and listeners alike.
variety of attitude on the wet and slippery deck : “we But among this herd of wicked men was one who, can do no more," he explained, adding that there had though with them, was not of them. His business was never to his knowledge been so furious a storm before not at the fair, or, if so, it was lawful business on on the Frith; that there was no hope of reaching shore which he was going. Of one thing we may be sure
on either side, and that a short quarter of an hourhe utterly loathed the company in which he found even if the old battered boat should hold together so himself ; for his righteous soul, like that of Lot in long-was all that they could reckon on for life. Sodom, was vexed with the filthy conversation of the We may imagine if we cannot describe the scene wicked." The name of this godly and God-fearing
which followed this announcement. Horror-stricken man was John Brown, a faithful preacher of the Gospel countenances on every side ; muttered prayers for at Haddington.
mercy; shrieks of terror and despair; mute misery; He was alone, but not alone ; for, withdrawing him- wringing of hands in hopeless agony; embraces ; self as much as he could from the crowd on deck, he foolish, maudlin, and extravagant offers of reward for communed with God in prayer, secretly and silently, impossible rescue; the wind howling the while around, but with a full and sorrowful heart, praying for the
the water washing over the deck, the boat timbers wicked men around him.
strained and creaking with every angry blow of the He had not long been on board, however, before he waves; blackness above, a dark, seething cauldron was recognised; and while some, probably, declared below, and a thick mist all around. with oaths that if they had known a parson was There were no loud curses now to be heard ; but among them before the boat started, either he or they presently arose a bitter cry which gave utterance to the should have remained behind, others made up their thought.
“ The minister! the minister! Can he do nought since he was there. The sport was rough, for they for us?” were rough men, even had their intentions been The minister of the Gospel, whom in utter despite playful and good-humoured, which they were not. for the Gospel's sake they had abused and insulted, Stirred up by hatred of religion and teachers of religion, both with deeds and words, was now all at once the and further instigated by the master they served, they greatest man on board. proceeded, in every conceivable way, to annoy and “Pray for us! Oh, minister, will ye not pray for insult their fellow-passenger, whose only offence was us?” And stretched out to him in supplication were his daring to show himself among them. They hustled hands which a short half-hour before were ready to him from side to side of the boat, mocked at his garb buffet him, but now would have touched him, and his office, and poured their filthy jests and though,” says the narrator, mere contact with the blasphemies into his ears. The good man bore all person of a human being could shield another and with patience and meekness. Resistance, indeed, that other an unpardoned sinner—from the righteous would have been not only vain, but would have vengeance of a holy God." brought upon him more serious bodily injury; and A man of like passions, and also of like infirunity,
minds to have some sport out of “ the black coat,"
with his fellow-passengers, Mr. Brown was suffering Brighter and brighter grew the hopes of captain, from the effects of the terrible storm, when the loud, crew, and passengers, as the yet labouring boat slowly agonising shrieks of the despairing wretches reached his made way towards the landing-place which they hadi ear from every quarter of the deck; for the cry had despaired of ever reaching. The wind and waves been caught up and repeated as soon as heard.
which had seemed ready in their fierceness to over“Oh, sir, pray! Pray for us! Pray for me! I am whelm and engulf them, now, in their abated strength, a great sinner! Oh, minister, pray for me! pray, speeded them onward to safety, and ere long the
“ desired haven” was reached. The Lord had brought And forgetting his own weakness, banishing, too,
them to it. from his thoughts all recollection of the taunts and Delivered now from their fears, and with the full insults and persecutions he had just before suffered, or
tide of worldliness again rushing in upon them, the rather bearing in mind the injunctions of his Master, passengers hastily disembarked, and were making “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do
towards the fair-ground, when the clear voice whose good to them that hate you, and pray for them which tones and accents had yet scarcely died away from their despitefully use you, and persecute you,” the good hearing, called upon them to remain where they were. man, standing in the midst of the terrified passengers, “It was the voice," writes the biographer, " to which who had eagerly gathered around him, lifted up his they had so eagerly listened amid the wild revelry of voice to God in earnest and urgent supplication. howling winds, surging waves, and deluging rain. It Amid the noise of the elements, the howling of the was the voice of the man of God who, in the hour of wind and the beating of the waves, his voice was their sore peril, forgetting the insults they had offered heard, praying that God would have mercy upon the him, had complied with their request to act the miserable sinners on whom His hand was now so part of intercessor for them in the court of that evidently laid ; that He who rules over all things, Omnipotent and Omniscient Being whom storms and who holds the winds in His fist, the waters of the sea tempests obey. It was the voice of one of whom all in the hollow of His hand, would be graciously present felt assured they should never forget; and pleased to say to the storm, “Peace, be still."
nearly all of those who had been in the boat clustered He prayed and prayed, and still the apparently
around him." doomed vessel rolled fearfully; yet it held together. Then, raising himself above them on a timber-balk, He continued in prayer, and his prayer was accom- the minister preached to them the Saviour whom they panied by the deep groans and convulsive sobs of had despised, the God whom they had so lately defied, many a fearful sinner who, it may be, for the first and whose power, both to punish and to deliver, they time for many a day, if ever, witnessed and listened to had just experienced--preached to them the Gospel of “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man.” Him who came to call, not the righteous, but sinners
Effectual! Yes; for while he prayed a marvellous to repentance. He faithfully unveiled to them their and utterly unlooked-for change commenced. The guilt and danger, and besought them, now that it was wind began to moderate its force, the waves, though
the accepted time and the day of salvation, to receive still rough, abated in their fury; the pelting rain
the offered mercy, and flee for refuge to lay hold on the ceased, and gleams of sunshine broke through the hope set before them in the Gospel. murky atmosphere, bringing with them some rays of
Out of the fulness of his heart the mouth of the hope, which brightened and strengthened, until at preacher spake, and he was listened to with rapt length the voice of prayer became the voice of praise attention and strong emotions. “Many a sun-browned for so prompt an answer, and so wonderful a deliver- cheek,” we are told, was that day bedewed with ance from imminent danger and threatened death. penitential tears; and the power of the Lord was Never before had any on board that old ferry-boat present both to wound and to heal, both to bruise and witnessed so literal a fulfilment of the psalmist's words
to bind up." —“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do The preacher ceased, and the audience departed. business in great waters; these see the works of the Would the effect be lasting? He had cast the bread Lord, and His wonders in the deep. For He com- on the waters ; would it be seen after many days? mandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth My word,” says Jehovah, “shall not return unto up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, ? they go down again to the depths : their soul is melted and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger It is not always given to the faithful servant of Christ like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end. Then to know how successful his labours have been. He they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and He never can know perfectly and in full to what extent bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the he—or rather the Gospel he has preached, either by storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. word or by life-has been “the savour of life unto life.” Then are they glad because they be quiet; so He But sometimes God is pleased, for the encouragement bringeth them unto their desired haven.”
of those who work for Him, to show them that
their labour has not been in vain in the Lord. It years John Brown was gratified and gladdened by was so with the courageous and prayerful man of many unquestionable attestations to the fact that, on whom we have told. He had witnessed for Christ, the memorable day of which we have spoken, in and Christ witnessed for him. Instrumentully the reward for the promptitude and faithfulness with means, by earnest prayer, of bringing temporal deli- which he did his Master's work, that Master had been verance to his persecutors, he was permitted to know, pleased to give him many souls for his hire. in after days, that the Holy Spirit had deigned to It is possible that some reader of this narrative may
acknowledge and bless his efforts for their rescue from ask, "Is it likely that God would, at the prayer of His the greater danger of spiritual death to which they servant, so interfere with the ordinary course of nature were exposed.
as to turn away the storm, and save the imperilled ferryIt would be pleasant to be able to give the particu- boat and her wicked passengers ?” The Christian, howlars of some of the conversions witnessed that day, ever, who really believes in the efficacy of prayer, has a and to show how, in the after-life of the converted, ready answer to the question in his own soul and expo God was glorified and souls were saved. In after rience that God is the Hearer and Answerer of