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Good Words 1860
An Incident in the Artic Seas


In that most interesting volume just published— "Captain M'Clintock's Narrative of the Search in the Arctic Seas" for Sir John Franklin and his brave men—touching is the account, when, after manifold perils and hairbreadth escapes, the sad memorials they were in quest of were discovered.

As one of their number was travelling amid these icy solitudes he came upon a boat containing some bleached skeletons. These he was at no loss to identify from the clothing as the remains of Englishmen. Silver spoons and forks, with the initials and crests of the gallant explorers, confirmed without a doubt the mournful story of their fate. There were other evidences, moreover, still more affecting and impressive. At the bottom of the boat, and scattered around the mutilated and wasted bodies, were a number of English Bibles, Testaments, Prayer-books, and books of devotion. Many of these were carefully marked and underlined, and bore proof of having been diligently read—as if the owners had the conviction too truthfully impressed on them that their " night was far spent, and their day was at hand." In addition to what have been mentioned, and not the least impressive of these silent relics, were two double-barrelled guns—one of the barrels of each being loaded and on full cock. These were resting over the side of the boat, pointing upwards, occupying the same position which their owners had given them twelve years before. They had remained there ever since.

A friend in London writes that he had been lately at the United Service Museum, where all these precious relics of the Franklin Expedition are collected. There, are the marked Bible and the under-scored verses, and there, too, the guns just as they were found, leaning upwards, at their side. He mentions that as he was looking down on one of the sacred volumes, his eye fell on the words in Psalm cxxxix. They seemed to be the voice and utterance of these deserted men—destitute but "not forsaken"—cleaving in their hour of lonely despair to Him who is " the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea:"—

"1. O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.

"2. Thou knowest (though earthly friends are ail in ignorance of my sad fate in these regions of snow and ice, yet Thou knowest) my downsitting and mine uprising; thou understandest my thought afar off.

"3. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

"7. Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

"8. If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

"9. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

"10. Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me."

Brave men ! rest in peace; the icy crevices your sepulchre, the snow your winding-sheet! Yours is a picture all worthy of a place in the mind's gallery —a noble allegory is it of true Christian life! A little band "falling into a place where two seas met" (Acts xxvii. 41); the little sea of Time and the great ocean of Eternity. The truths and promises and directions of God's blessed Word scattered around you; your guide in life, your light in death; the loaded guns, their muzzles pointing upwards and heavenwards, types of diligence, courage, watchfulness, "not slothful in business," while "fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."

Do we in this land of Bibles value and treasure their divine guidance as did these hero-explorers? Is God, as with them, "our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble?" Let us see that on the great and solemn day, when that icy sea shall "give up its dead," these noble-hearted Bible-readers and Bible-lovers may not rise up in judgment against us, and condemn us ! Be this our habitual attitude—"Having our loins girded," the lamp of truth "burning," the "sword of the Spirit" unsheathed, '' the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left," trusting God in the hour of our bitterest extremity, adoring His sovereignty, clinging to His Word, magnifying His grace, "waiting for His salvation;" and then it matters not how soon or how suddenly the summons may be addressed to us as to them—"Get thee up and die!"


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