The Castaway of the Maldives
by G.J. Stewart
“I remember,”—said an old British “salt,” as we talked together on the forecastle of one of the liners between England and Australia—“I remember being cast away on one of the coral islands of the Maldive group in the Indian Ocean. We were in a brand new composite barque, and the captain was part-owner in her. We were driven on to the windward side of the island, and stranded on the coral reef that surrounded it.
“It then became a question of getting a hawser to the island, which lay quietly nestled inside the comparatively smooth waters of the lagoon formed by the reef; but there was the terrible ‘curl’ of the reef to pass through, upon which the billows of the outer ocean broke with all their fury, before the smoother waters could be reached; and volunteers were asked for the perilous task.
“At last an Italian sailor and myself volunteered to attempt it; and, with life-lines attached, we were committed to the boiling surf; and it so happened that, with a good deal of buffeting, we both got through safely, and reached the island, and were not long in getting a hawser ashore and rigging the cradle, which the rest of the crew were thankful to avail themselves of, and all, with only the ordeal of passing through the billows in the cradle, were safely hauled ashore, the captain and carpenter excepted.
“The captain having an interest in the ship was hopeful, as the gale had subsided somewhat, that he might get the ship off again, and had persuaded the carpenter to remain behind to help patch her up, if he should be successful enough to do so through some slant of wind or other providential means.
“But soon from the island we could see that a fresh storm was brewing from the old quarter, and we were sure the ship could not last long; and as I was anxious that the skipper and his companion should be saved, I proposed to my Italian mess mate to venture again on to the ship to induce them to come ashore while they might.
“‘I would not go through the curl again for a thousand pounds,’ said he.
“‘Well,’ said I, ‘I shall try it, as I should not like the skipper to be lost.’
“So I was hauled again on board, and, am thankful to say, succeeded in getting them both to come ashore; and only just in time, as that night the gale increased, and in the morning there was nothing left of the barque but wreckage.”
Here, dear reader, is a tale of one who voluntarily risked his life to save others, and who endured the breaking of the angry billows upon his head, as with strong arm and stout heart he forced his way through them to the smoother waters beyond, in hope of saving not only his own life, but also the lives of his friends and companions in misfortune.
He was successful, and his messmates were saved!
But in this he was not alone; another, equally brave and loving with himself, endured like dangers with like results, and they shared the honour of the successful issue of their attempt together.
There were yet others, however, to be saved, and he longed again to make the attempt to save them; and although, this time, it was not nearly so dangerous, yet the remembrance of former buffeting with the angry surf was too vivid to induce his companion to join him, so he went alone, and was again successful. Brave men! Heroic deeds!! Who would withhold the tribute of praise due to such men and deeds? And history tells of many such, for man can devote himself when he has an adequate object.
But, after all, did not self-interest form a large part of the motive power here? All were endangered in the first instance, and all must perish, unless one or more risked their lives a little earlier, with the hope of saving all. The second attempt was more disinterested, though the danger was not so great.
Ah! but how every human deed of heroism sinks into insignificance before His act, who gave Himself for sinners—His enemies!—an act supreme above all! Comparisons are infinitely distanced, as contrasts are thrown into deepest gloom by it.
Feeble is the illustration in the above of some of the elements that go to make up the mighty drama of Redemption.
The men risked their lives in hope of saving both themselves and their companions in misfortune.
Jesus gave His life to save those who were in danger, when He Himself was safe. Secure in His glory, He might have maintained His position in His own ineffable Peace; but He left His estate, and came down to share the sorrows of the position His enemies were in, and then went voluntarily down beneath the judgment due to them.
These subjected themselves to the buffetings of the billows of water to save themselves and others.
Jesus subjected Himself alone to the buffetings of the billows of divine wrath, and exhausted it, to save others, who never could have exhausted that wrath, but who must have endured it eternally.
They hoped that they might be able to save themselves and others.
Jesus knew assuredly that He could save others, and to do it He would not save Himself. What was that death to Christ? What that judgment? Ah, all was known and measured by Him, and all shrunk from with a horror with which only such a holy being could shrink from it—from being made sin! from drinking the cup of Jehovah’s wrath! Yet all was embraced and endured with a power able to exhaust it all, and in a love that lived through and exists beyond it all.
They made the attempt, if perhaps they might save themselves and others from a present danger simply, while they parted company, and lost sight of each other perhaps for ever when the danger was wholly past.
Jesus died, not that He might redeem His people from hell only, but that, cleansing them from their sins, He might walk in present company with them, and have them for ever with Himself in the glory.
The companions of the brave men above gladly availed themselves of the escape from danger provided for them at such a risk; they had, however, to feel the power of the waves, though being in the cradle.
Alas, how indifferently men can hear the tale of Jesus’ love and the deliverance effected by it for those who will accept it, without so much as tasting one drop of the judgment, together with the perfect provision that love has made for eternal companionship with Himself in the blessed conditions of the life and circumstances into which He has gone as a man.
Reader, will not you avail yourself of the provision made for such as you by that eternal love?
Or, will you refuse it?
You have an interest in the world, perhaps, as the captain had in the ship. But the clouds gather; the storm is brewing; yet escape is still at hand.
HASTE thee, sinner! ere yet the implacable fury of the devastating blast, that must wreck the world you love as it at present exists, and your soul for ever, burst upon you. Come now to Jesus. Accept His love. Be saved! BE SAVED!!
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
“Haste, traveller, haste! the night comes on,
And many a shining hour is gone;
The storm is gathering in the west,
And thou art far from home and rest.
Haste, traveller, haste!”
The Gospel Messenger 1899, p. 269