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ONE SHALL BE TAKEN, AND THE OTHER LEFT.”
Matt. xxiv. 40, 41.
In the course of my earthly pilgrimage I have witnessed many a literal fulfilment of the above prediction, both by sea and land. But there was one in particular, which took place on the memorable second of February, an account of which may not be unacceptable to the reader.- We had two females on' ů our frigate. The one was a robust, musculine woman, who had. been at sea with her husband for more than two years, and consequently was inured to all the privations and hardships of a maritime life: the other was entire stranger to such a mode of existence. She had never been twelve hours on ship-board until the evening she came off to see her husband, whom we had impressed the last time we anchored in their road-stead. -Scarcely had this woman, timid and full of alarm, got on our decks, ere the weather became stormy, and the night set in. There was now no alternative, but patiently waiting for the return of day, or fairer weather. But that
very night, our destination to port, where we expected to refit and recruit after a dismal cruise off the coast of Norway, was countermanded. Some men of consid
erable political importance came on board, and we were ordered to sea at an hour's notice, and our visitor was thus unavoidably carried from her home and friends. She was indeed with her husband (a consolation not small to an affectionate wife :) but then she was not only an entire stranger to the scenes and inconveniences of a ship at sea, but was in herself a very tender and delicate woman, and, moreover, near the time of her confinement. As the weather continued rough, sea-sickness, and a thousand fears, seized on her, and in the course of the day she was delivered of a dead child.
Eighteen hours after this event, our ship struck the ground, and was stranded, notwithstanding all the efforts used to save her. Thirty hours more had barely elapsed, when our poor companion was called on to travel, or rather to stumble, through ice and snow; to set her face against the“stÀy of such a storm of wind, and hail, and sleet, as overcame some of the apparently strongest of the crew. In short, she had to travel that journey, and to endure that weather, under which fifteen perished.
Now, my reader, figure to yourself these two females quitting the wreck; and in one behold every thing of hardihood, in the other every thing the reverse. What would your expectations have been ? Doubtless, that the former bid fair to sustain, if not to surmount, all existing difficulties; that the latter must inevitably and speedily sink under them. Yet the contrary happened. . The hale maritime character perished by the way) having first had her child, a fine boy of nine months old, frozen to death in her arms,) the delicate invalid endured all the severities of that afternoon, held on through the
journey, arrived safe and uninjured at a friendly cottage, and for aught I know to the contrary, is still living! Should any one ask how this could be, or should he inquire what assistance was rendered these females, I shall briefly observe, it is not the character of British seamen to shrink from danger, or pass by a friend in distress. Many of the crew, indeed, were too much benumbed and exhausted to afford relief to others; yet there were some who, feeling less oppressed in themselves, could and did stretch forth a helping hand to their weaker comrades.—The two women in question received much of this attention from officers and men. But, alas! the storm blew with all the severity of a Siberian winter's blast, and none could shelter another from its fury—it seemed to pierce the very bones and the marrow; and animal heat was almost extinguished; the blood could but slowly circulate, even in the strongest; an unconquerable degree of lassitude and drowsiness seized on our unfortunate female traveller, in common with the others who fell; she halted, she sat down, she closed her eyes, convulsions seized her, and she died. If, then, we would ascertain how the other was enabled to survive the hardships with which she was surrounded, we must look beyond natural causes and effects, even unto the will of Him whose ever-watchful and over-ruling Providence numbers the hairs on our heads, and suffers not a sparrow to fall to the ground without his permission. We must look unto Him “who ordereth all things after the counsel of his own will;" to Him whom storms and waves obey; who can deprive the intensely heated furnace of all its pow
ers to burn, and the northern frost and hail of all their powers to chill and extinguish life; to Him who, in the dispensations of his providence, hath told us, that, on many occasions, “ One shall be taken, and the other left.” In so doing, we shall oft-times be compelled to acknowledge the short-sightedness of man--the folly of all human sagacity—the emptiness of all calculations. These things may indeed perplex, and at times almost confound us, especially if we suffer the mind to indulge in putting the question, “Why are they so ?” But wherefore should we indulge in any such idle and presumptuous inquiries? Is not the Eternal Jehovah omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent? Can He be ignorant of any passing event ? Can He lack power to perform his will, or can that will be other than supremely good, and just, and holy? Impossible.— Then let us learn to rest all secret, deep, and undiscovered things with Him to whom they belong, and study those which are revealed. Thus shall we know all necessary and essential truths, and these truths will set us free from all that perplexity of error, that chaos of manifold evil and confusion into which a proud unhumbled speculative mind has led thousands, who, like their rebellious prototypes, as described by Milton,
"Have found no end, in wand'ring mazes lost-
This life is at best a compound of many bitters, with a few sweets—our cup contains a mingled potion, capable of being rendered more or less unpleasant as we learn
to acquiesce in all the divine will concerning us. As then we would hope for, as we would desire to enjoy something like happiness on this side of heaven, let us learn not to cavil at the dispensations of Him, who, being the judge of all the earth, and the disposer of all events, must do right. If any presumptuous inquirer ask us, why ten talents are given to one man, and but two to another; or why those who were first in our estimation become last; and those whom we once expected to be last, do evidently become first ? let us "not be careful to answer them in these matters.” Or if, when the destroying angel goes forth in the pestilence, the famine, or the sword, we are asked, why one nation is singled out in preference to another; why one individual is taken and another left ? on all these occasions let us direct our eyes to heaven, and with the spirit of a little child, reply in the words of our blessed Redeemer, "Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight.” As to the events more immediately under our present consideration ; if it pleased the divine Majesty, by almost a miracle, to save the poor
enfeebled woman by way of displaying his great power and goodness—to take the child in proof of his love and tender compassion, and to call the strong woman in token of his righteous judgments, who shall say unto Him, What doest thou ?
Had the sick invalid perished, it would have been considered as a matter of course, and God would not have received the honour due unto his name; and had the babe survived, the same reasoning might have attributed his preservation to the flannels with which he