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He records six distinct escapes from the most imminent danger. In his youth he agreed to accompany some coin panions who were going on board a man-of-war on the sabbath. On his way to join them he was detained by some unexpected circumstance, and when he reached the spot, they had sailed; but they never returned — the boat sank, and all perished. Some
years afterwards, when off the African coast, he challenged his mess-mates to a drinking bout. In the course of it he proposed as a toast, a horrible imprecation against the man who should leave the table first. This proved to be himself. His brain fired with the spirits he had drunk, he was dancing about the deck like a maniac, when his hat flew overboard. He was just springing over the ship's side after it, when one of his comrades caught him. Had he plunged into the sea, he must have perished, as, even when sober, he could not swim the tide also was running very strong, and his companions were too much intoxicated to have got out a boat for his rescue.
One night a violent storm broke upon the vessel in which he was, and the aların was given that she had struck. He was hastening on deck, when the captain met him, and bade
him return below for a knife, appointing another man to take his place during his absence. His substitute was washed overboard almost immediatley. On two other occasions, during this voyage, did the same watchful Providence preserve him from the most imminent perils. On his next voyage to the same coast, he had been engaged for some days in fetching wood and water from the shore. As he was pushing off one afternoon, the captain hailed him and told him to return, saying, that “ he had taken it into his head that Newton should remain on board that day, and some one go ashore in his place.” The captain could give no other reason for the change, than that such was his will. Newton of course obeyed. The boat was swamped, and the sailors who went in her were drowned.
Some years afterwards, Newton had arranged to go on board a ship at a given hour. As he was remarkable for his punctuality, often sitting with his watch in his hand, lest he should be a minute behind time, his friends were much surprised at being kept waiting for hiin on this occasion. At length he arrived, having been detained by an unexpected and pressing engagement. Whilst on their way to the vessel,
she blew up with a fearful explosion. Had he been (according to his previously invariable practice) punctual to his appointment, he must have perished with all on board. The detention of a few minutes, reluctantly submitted to, prolonged a life of unspeakable value to the church of Christ.
The late Mr. James Haldane, so well known from his efforts to revive evangelical religion in Scotland, at the commencement of the present century, was, like Mr. Newton, originally trained to the sea as his profession. He was throughout his life distinguished by that energy, courage, and stern derotion to duty, which form the basis of the noblest characters, and which only need the renewing and sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit, to prepare for the greatest achievements in the Christian warfare. Though preserved from running “to the same excess of riot” into which Newton, in common with so many seamen, plunged, he yet attained the age of manhood before his great natural endowments were laid at the foot of the cross, and consecrated, in simple faith, to the Saviour. It was whilst he was living without God, that he experienced the following providential deliver
“ The ship in which he sailed," says his biographer, " was crowded with passengers ; amongst whom was a cavalry officer, who was returning home-a notorious shot, a successful duellist, and much of a bully. It afterwards appeared that he had been forced to leave the king's service in consequence of his quarrelsome temper and aptitude for such brawls. In the course of the voyage he made himself very disagreeable, and was a general object of dread. On one occasion, some high words arose between him and Mr. Haldane, arising out of a proposal to make the latter a party to a paltry trick, designed to provoke an irritable invalid, as he lay in his cot with his door open, and was, in fact, actually dying. Mr. Haldane's indignant refusal issued in this captain's taking an opportunity, deliberately and publicly, to insult him at the mess-table, when, in return for a somewhat contemptuous retort, the aggressor threw a glass of wine in Mr. Haldane's face. To rise from his seat and dash at the head of his assailant a heavy ship's tumbler, was the work of an instant. Providentially the missile was pitched too high,* pulverized
* The reader will probably remember a parallel incident in the life of Henry Martyn, who, like Mr. Haldane, narrowly
against the beam of the cabin, and descended in a shower of liquid upon the offending dragoon. A challenge and a duel ensued. The two antagonists were placed at twelve paces distant, and were to fire together and by signal. Before the pistol was given into Mr. Haldane's hand, his second, in a low tone, repeated what he had said before, that this was which he must have no scruple about shooting his opponent; that it was not a common duel, but a case of self-preservation, and that one or the other must fall. The signal was given, and as Mr. Haldane raised the pistol, with a strange inconsistency he breathed the secret prayer? Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit;' thus verifying the observation of Tertullian, that in moments of danger men involuntarily call upon God, even when they seem practically to forget his existence, and trample upon his laws. With this prayer in his heart, and with his eye fixed on his antagonist, without a symptom of trepidation, he calmly drew the trigger, when his pistol burst, the contents flying upwards, and fragments of the barrel striking and
escaped being a murderer; having, in a fit of passion, hurled a carving-knife at the head of a person who had offended bim.