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CLEAR was the sky and smooth the water, when, on a beautiful day, I walked on the cliffs opposite
For some time the wind had been unfavourable for outward-bound ships, but at last it had changed, and the whole surface of the deep appeared to be adorned with masts and sails. More than two hundred ships of various kinds were at once visible, each pursuing her way through the trackless waters to a distant shore.
Freighted with men and merchandise, some of these were bound for Ireland, some for France, some for America, some for the East and West Indies, some for golden Australia, and some for China. I watched them with no common attention. “Fair breezes and God's blessing!" said I, as they proceeded on their several courses.
It was a sight to be remembered. Crowds from the parades, the sea-beach, and the Downs above the cliffs, were gazing on the glowing scene. Hope, with sparkling eyes, was present, cheerfulness was abroad, and joy was keeping holiday. Not
many days had passed, when from the same place was witnessed a different scene. It was high water, and the sea was exceedingly rough. The crew of a schooner which had just discharged her cargo did their best to get her off. All was done by them that men could do, but all was in vain; for the strain upon the vessel was so severe that the moorings were pulled up and the shore-tackle broken. She soon broached to, and drove on to leeward with the sea breaking furiously over her.
It was a sad sight to gaze on, when, in the season of their extremity, the captain and crew were dragged by ropes through the surf to land, the wind howling, the waters roaring, and the schooner driven against the sea-wall, heavily beating and pounding the shingle with her hull.
Her keel could cleave the deep no more,
For the waves had beat and bound her;
With the white foam raging round her.
Not long could the vessel hold together, for she was fir-built, old, and crazy. While the anxious and excited spectators that crowded the shore looked on, she split right across the middle, her masts falling and her timbers parting asunder.
As I stood gazing alone the following day on the part of the hull that remained on the beach, my attention arrested by the bulged bows, the broken bulwarks, and the shivered timbers partly buried in the shingle, the tide washed against it with great force, sometimes nearly breaking over it, as though the raging deep would not give up its prey so long as a rib or spar remained visible. “Be satisfied,” said I, addressing the roaring
“Have you not done mischief enough?
must your voracious and insatiable maw devour the last plank of the vessel you have destroyed ?" But the only reply that I obtained was a splash in the face from the next wave that broke against the wreck.
It just suited one of my disposition to muse on the shore above the broken hull whose ribs had been crushed, and whose bowsprit was deep bedded in the sea soil; for, while I was there, children came playfully to peep at the spectacle, well-dressed visitors took a hasty survey, and departed, and aged men stood a while with serious faces at the spot. I guessed their thoughts by my own. They could not choose but think of Him who alone can control the wind and the waves. “The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land:” Ps. xcv. 5.
“ Guide us, heavenly Pilot, guide us,
Till the storms of life shall cease;
Bring us to the port of peace.”
Such as live upon the coast, and are accustomed to witness shipwrecks, regard them with less emotion than strangers experience when gazing upon them. To me the scene was full of awful interest, pressing on my mind various considerations, such as the mighty power of ocean waves, the great danger to which mariners are exposed, the sympathy we ought to feel for them, and the necessity that they, and we, and all God's intelligent creatures, should ever be looking to Him in whom alone we “live and move and have our being."
But the wreck of a vessel may suggest to our minds also the wreck of a soul; for many a soul that appeared to set out like a ship on a prosperous voyage has been wrecked, forever wrecked, not in a storm, but in a calm; not when darkness prevailed, and the hurricanes of the earth were raging, but when all was tranquil and sunbeams were shining around.
When a ship is wrecked, there is sometimes hope of escape. Some friendly sail may opportunely heave in sight; the broken hull, dismantled and dismasted, may yet bear up against the storm; or the crew, in the crisis of their danger, some by swimming, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship, may get safe to land; but the wreck of the soul is nothing less than helpless, endless, irrevocable ruin.
No wreck, where angry Ocean's billows roll,
o What is man,
It was long before I left the beach; and when I did so the ocean waves were still dashing against the stranded hull of the broken vessel, fastened as it was to the shore with a chain cable. Sobered and solemnized by the mournful spectacle, I walked away in musing meditation.
unless preserved by his Almighty Maker? At sea and on land he is in equal danger. Be thou my stay, 0 Lord, in every storm, that
not suffer shipwreck. Give me grace so to love and trust thee
That my soul in her need, when the tempest is nigh,
WHAT ARE YOUR POINTS?
It has been said that every man has a “strong corner," the meaning of which expression is, that
, every man has a particular point or quality which in some degree distinguishes him from others, or that he has a hidden strength which circumstances alone make manifest. Whether this be true or not generally, it certainly is occasionally so in individual
The different points or prominent qualities among mankind are well worthy of our best attention, that we may emulate the good and avoid the evil. The humble and teachable pick up many a lesson that the proud and opinionated pass by or despise.
One man has faith, so that he looks up to his Heavenly Father with such unbroken and unshaken trust, that, come what will, he is never stricken down. One is stopped in his course by mole-hills; another will remove mountains of difficulty, and never so much as doubt the attainment of his object. He seems to take as his motto the text, “The Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed :" Isa. 1. 7. Faith is the gift of God, and a precious gift it is;