Imágenes de páginas

perished !* Ignorant of the world, and impatient of controul, I had previously broken away from the constraint of social authority, and embarked on the great deep, in pursuit of honours and fancied happiness, which, as hinted in the foregoing chapter, I imagined were the every day scenes of a naval life; there, like others, I had to contend with the storms and dangers of an element, emblematical of the sinner's mind, never at rest, and to learn at an early period of my adventures, that in not a few things,

“The very wish is in possession lost."

How great the contrast between this and the day alluded to ! Few seasons ever witnessed a more serene and delightful day than this has been; few ever beheld one more tempestuous and severe than that in which our ship was stranded amidst shoals of ice on a foreign coast.

Methinks I now see the wreck lying on its side, and hear the howling northern blast roar through the confused and mangled tackling; methinks I now see the crew leaving this untenable abode, and betaking themselves to the rugged field of ice and snow with which we were surrounded! Memory again presents in full view all the dismal severities of that afternoon, when fifteen of my companions perished from the effects of cold in the space of three hours. It brings before me

* This date refers to the time when this paper was first written, and made its appearance in The Christian Guardian, or Church of England Magazine.

the gracious and visible interposition of Providence in preserving not only myself, but all the first party who quitted the wreck, from what would otherwise have been inevitable destruction.* As it was, I seem again to look over the dreary waste, and behold the scattered travellers, some in little groups, others alone; some growing faint, others stumbling and falling on their slippery and deceitful road; some benumbed and ex

* I shall observe, by way of note, that from the wreck we had a view of a building, at a considerable distance on the shore, and for this object we directed our course when we quitted the vessel. But we had not gone far, ere a snow storm came on, and obscured our view; and as the wind and drift came from the very point on which we had to proceed, its severity was felt to the utmost, and caused us imperceptibly to edge off to the right hand, and travel in a direction which, if continued, would have carried us off the shoal and field of ice into the sea ; or, at best, by the time we had discovered our situation, it would have taken us so far from any place of shelter, as to have left us to perish on the ice and snow during the night. This dreadful calamity was, however, prevented by one of our party having a pocket compass about him. He had taken the bearings of the above-mentioned object previous to leaving the wreck, and after some travelling, was induced to cxamine the course we were actually pursuing. Toour surprise, it was discovered how widely we were, and had been deviating from the right line. This, however, enabled all but one of the party to correct their march, though at the expense of many additional and laborious steps. The one who formed an exception was an exceedingly strong man, who had outstripped us all, and was too far in advance to notice our signals of recal, when we altered our course; and as the snow soon hid him from our view altogether, we had no doubt but he travelled on until he either fell into the sea, or found himself totally bewildered and out of all reach of shelter, and perished on the ice long before the light of another day.

pressing their misery; others endeavouring to cheer up their spirits ; some taking their seats on massy pieces of ice, and others in vain endeavouring to urge them on in the prosecution of their journey. Methinks I now see the gloom of that evening, and the departure of its early twilight, which just lighted my weary feet to the secure and friendly habitations of man; and I seem again to feel the toil and labour with which I mounted the sea-guard bank that had been thrown up around the walls and little domain of this timely and merciful refuge. Nor is this all which the same record brings before me; it calls on me to blush with shame and confusion of face at the recollection of


then worse than brutal insensibility and hardness of heart. For I know that not only then, but long afterwards, I lived as without God in the world, having no saving scriptural knowledge, no gospel hope. I was truly an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, and a stranger to the covenant of promise. O Lord! what shall I render unto thee for thy unnumbered mercies? How shall I, how can I, sufficiently adore that forbearance and tender compassion which spared and supported me through all the struggles and dangers connected with this my first shipwreck? Had I this day sixteen years ago been numbered among those who fell, O where, where would my immortal soul have now been? Where, but in hell! suffering the righteous judgments of abused mercy and insulted majesty !-beholding the felicity of the redeemed and the glory of the Redeemer; but my : self afar off! May I never allow the return of this season to pass by without gratefully acknowledging thy


goodness, and endeavouring to raise my mind to high and holy contemplations on Thee, thou Triune Jehovah, as the author of all mercies, and giver of every good and perfect gift! Should to-morrow's sun rise amidst clouds and storms, and drifting hail and snow, let it give me a realizing sense of the dangers I have passed, and while I am experiencing the comforts of a house, a home, and a fire-side, may I not forget the sufferings, the agonizing pains of those who, at this season, fell to rise no more. But especially when yonder leaflless trees, groaning beneath the winter's blast, send forth the hollow roar, and mimic the voice of storms at sea—when the frame of my cottage trembles under the pressure of sudden squalls and gusts of wind,

6. When winter comes ! when polar spirits sweep
The darkening world, and tempest-troubled deep!
When boundless snows the wither'd heath deform,
And the dim sun scarce wanders through the storm :"

O then may I in a more especial manner bear in my mind, in my heart, and in my prayers, those multitudes

* With respect to those who fall victims to the severity of cold, there can be no doubt but many of them go off without experiencing any other sensible pain or inconvenience than that of great fatigue and an unconquerable drowsiness, which latter seems rather to relieve them from their perceptions of cold than otherwise, and to dismiss the spirit apparently without a struggle. But in others it is far different, as appeared in the case of more than one of my departed fellow-travellers, whose drowsy fit or first sleep was followed by strong and agonizing convulsions, in which they beat themselves against the ice, so as greatly to disfigure their persons. ' One poor man absolutely severed the strong bone of his thumb in two between his own teeth.

[ocr errors]

who are still traversing these waters, encountering all the severity of such seasons, and all the perils of the deep. And O! most gracious God! may all thy children, under all the variety of circumstances and situations in which they are placed, call to mind thy former mercies, and laud and magnify thy holy name, until removed from this lower, this troubled and sinful world, they unite with that innumerable host around thy throne, in ascribing “blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour and power, and might, unto God and the Lamb for ever and ever."

« AnteriorContinuar »