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Good Words 1860
The Crowded Harbour


The storm is yet fresh in our memories which wrecked the Royal Charter, strewing her rich treasures from the Australian shores upon the sands of England, and sinking into their "dark and wandering grave" those priceless human treasures, for whose anticipated return hundreds of hearts were beating and bounding with welcomes of love—welcomes which were doomed to die down into the silence of unceasing sorrow, until the day when the sea shall give up her dead.

Many a lighter craft on that rock-bound coast, nor there alone, shared the fate of the full-freighted ship. Many a fishing-boat never made port again. Many a brave sailor never gladdened from that night the longing heart of wife or child.

Like an hospital after the day of battle, the harbour of an English sea-port, in the neighbourhood of which I was then visiting valued friends, was crowded with disabled vessels from various quarters; and frequently a foreign tongue was heard along that thickly-peopled quay.

Such an opportunity as this of sending far and wide messages of peace, was not to be lost.

Cards of prayer, and little books, were heartily welcomed by the sailors, and conversation on subjects of eternal importance was eagerly sought. The captain of a large American barque courteously and cordially offered the deck of his ship for a Scripture-reading. And the superintendent of police, with the hearty and earnest sympathy of a genial nature and a Christian soul, made it known along the lines of ships which filled the harbour.

When the appointed hour arrived, the captains and crews of almost ail the vessels there had assembled on deck, and on the pier alongside the ship. Foreigners, with their interpreters, mingled with the crowd of English and American sailors. A policeman set a tune for the hymn, beginning—

"Come, let us join our cheerful songs
With angels round the throne,"

in which strong, manly voices joined with feeling and fervour; and then, reverently, with uplifted caps, the seamen listened to prayer for the presence and mighty working of God's Holy Spirit.

We then read together the glorious story of Paul and Silas, with unwashen stripes, and feet fast in the stocks, in their dreary dungeon, singing with such brave glad voices songs of praise unto their God, that "the prisoners heard them." And we read of the wonderful conversion of their Philippian jailer; how his brutal nature softened into kindly tenderness— "washing their stripes," and making his house a home for them; and how his coward spirit—that inseparable companion of a cruel heart—which would have taken refuge in suicide from the dreaded vengeance of the magistrates, gathered courage in a moment to confess Christ crucified, and be "baptized, he and all his, straightway." And all this on the simple reception of the inspired answer of the apostle to the great life-question, "What must I do to be saved?" "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."

A few of the most remarkable accounts of the revivals in America, in the North of Ireland, and in parts of Scotland, were listened to with deep interest; and, as the parting prayer was concluded, many a weather-beaten face that had been hidden was raised up wet with tears.

One by one they quietly approached us to receive a little book and card of prayer. A boy, with sunburnt flaxen hair, flung back from a face of truth and feeling, said to the policeman, "Tell the lady I'm not a sailor-man; but I have a soul I wish to get saved. / want to get to heaven."

God bless that earnest child! [A little American cabin-boy.] and keep him by His power through faith unto salvation.

Just then the setting sun shed over the sky a rose-crimson glory, tinting the ships, and lighting up the mass of upturned human faces, in a manner which caused the words to spring to my lips, O Sun of righteousness shine into every darkened heart here:—

"Brightness of the Father's glory!—
Light up every dark recess
Of the heart's ungodliness."

During the following week, whilst I was deprived of the use of my voice by an attack of sore throat, daily letters reached me from the harbour, entreating for another Scripture-reading, and describing the eagerness with which men were asking of each other the jailer's question, "What must I do to be saved"

The following letter was then written, and a printed copy of it was offered to every sailor in the harbour, and was kindly welcomed:—

November 16, 1850.

Dear Friend, —As I am prevented by illness from meeting you, at all events this week, for another reading of the Word of God; and possibly may never meet you again; I cannot be happy without writing to beseech you solemnly to ask the question we read together on Sunday afternoon, " What MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?"

Do not rest until God has enabled you to receive into your heart the great and only answer, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved!" [Acts xvi. 31.] Saved—from the wrath to come. Saved— from the worm that dieth not, and the fire that never shall be quenched. [Mark ix. 44.] Saved—from the bottomless pit, in which the lost will be for ever and for ever descending lower. Saved—from outer darkness, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. [Matt. xxii. 13.] Saved—from the tyranny of Satan and his evil ones, who now seek to entice you into sin in order that they may get you into their power to torment you for ever. Saved—for heaven. Saved—for holiness, for happiness, for life, light, and glory. Saved—not for a time, but for ever. Saved— to dwell with angels and archangels, and with all the company of the redeemed. Saved—to be made a king and a priest unto your God. [Rev. i. 6.] Saved—to dwell for ever in the presence of your Redeemer; and "in His presence is fulness of joy." Saved—to sit with Him on His throne, when He comes in glory to reign over the earth.

That day is coming soon. "The coming of the Lord draweth nigh," [James v. 8.] when He shall come to take vengeance on His enemies, and to he admired in all them that believe.

Oh! are you ready? Ready, at the sound of the trumpet, to be caught up to meet the King of Glory in the air; to meet Him, not with shame and dread, but with joy and triumph.

Do not, I beseech you—do not rest—do not give God any rest until you can say, as a gallant soldier [Colonel Fordyce.] and Christian said, in the one moment between receiving his death-wound and his soul passing into eternity, "I AM READY."

Stand, as he did, a man acquitted before God. A man washed from every sin in the blood of a Divine Redeemer, the God-man, Jesus Christ; and clothed in the spotless robe of His righteousness.

You may do so this day! "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." "For the righteousness of God" (think of having that for your own!) "which is by faith of Jesus Christ, is UNTO ALL AND UPON ALL THEM THAT BELIEVE." [Rom. iii. 22.]

And shall a man who has received such a free salvation be ungrateful and faithless to the Saviour who bought it for Him with His own life blood? God forbid!

Henceforth, the life you live in the flesh, may you live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved you, and gave Himself for you. [Gal. ii. 20.] Henceforth LIVE!—for sin is death. Be FREE!—for sin is slavery. "He is the freeman whom the truth makes free : and all are slaves beside."

Remind your glorious Saviour that He has ascended on high, and led captivity captive, and received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious, also, that the Lord God might dwell amongst them. [Ps. lxviii. 18.] Make that your claim. Say to Him, "I have rebelled too long against Thee; give me now God the Holy Spirit, to dwell in my sinful, weak, unhappy heart, to make it holy, strong, and happy:—

"Come, Holy Spirit! heavenly Dove!
With all Thy quick'ning powers;
Come, shed abroad a Saviour's love,
And that shall kindle ours."

Pray earnestly for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon your heart, upon your shipmates, upon your friends and relations at home, upon your country, and upon the world.

Try to persuade your companions to begin, at once, to read the Word of God, and unite in prayer with you daily. If you can only persuade one, at first, begin with that one to-day. I give you a prayer to commence with; you will soon add more to it.

O God, our Father, wash us from all our sins in our Saviours blood, and we shall be whiter than snow. Create in us clean hearts, and fill us with the Holy Ghost that we may never be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under his banner against sin, the world, and the devil; remembering the words of the great captain of our salvation, " to him that overcometh will i grant to sit with me on my throne."

Give us the glorious joy of knowing that our Redeemer loves us; and that our sins are forgiven us for His name's sake. So that, wherever we may, we may serve the lord with gladness, and enter into his presence with thanksgiving.

Make us wise to win many souls to Jesus. Pour out Thy Holy Spirit on us, on all our shipmates and friends, and on our country, and on the world.

be to our country "a wall of fire hound about her, and the glory in the midst of her." We ask it all, because jesus christ our saviour lived and died, and rose again, and ever liveth to make: intercession for us. amen.

Now unto that Saviour who walked on the waters, and made the storm a calm, I commend you ! In every moment of danger, lift up the prayer to Him, "Lord, Save!"

And now, unto Him who is able (also) to keep you from falling, and to present you (body and soul) faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, I commend you, by earnest prayer; and remain, your sincere friend, C------M------.

A few days afterwards, the following answer was received:—

Royal Harbour, 21st November 1859,
On board the American barque "Linden."

Madam,—I hope you will pardon the liberty I have taken in addressing you. But there has been a great desire, not on my part only, but on the part of nearly the whole of the captains and crews of other vessels in this harbour, to return you our most heartfelt and sincere thanks for your Christian consideration of us on Sabbath afternoon, the 13th inst., in speaking to us from the deck of my vessel in that most Christian manner. And I hope it will please God to carry home the precious truths and warning to every sailor-man's heart present; and may one and all be led to say (as many are saying) what the poor jailer said, 'What shall I do to be saved?' I have every reason to believe that the meeting was productive of great good. We were truly sorry to hear you were so ill; but sincerely hope you are better. A great many of the seafaring people express a great wish to hear your Christian instruction again, and to thank you for the books and cards of prayer you so liberally distributed amongst us, and also for those precious letters which were given out to us by the inspector yesterday on board every vessel in the harbour. Again thanking you for your kindness, believe me to remain, your obedient servant,

H------K------.

One more opportunity was granted to my earnest prayers for meeting those brave, kind sons of the sea again, before the day when they and I must give account of our golden hour for telling and hearing the glad tidings of "glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will towards men," through the birth and life and death of the Man of Sorrows.

By the strong shake of the hand at parting, by the low, broken voices, the earnest expressions of contrition for sin, and of longing to find a Saviour, and peace and rest in Him, and by the willing promises from some of the captains to begin daily prayer-meetings with the reading of the Word of God amongst their crews, we believe that the seed of eternal life, sown in weakness, shall be raised in power, by the mighty working of that Lord and Giver of Life, to whom it is "nothing to save (or to work), whether by many, or by them that have no power."

Oh, that every reader of this brief narrative of "bread cast upon the waters" would pray, "Let each sailor who joined in prayer in that harbour become a temple of the living God."

English, Americans, and foreigners alike, carried away with them, "afar off on the sea," as a parting gift, a copy of the words of eternal life. And the promise of our God holds good, "My word shall not return unto me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."


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