Monday, September 12, 2011
"They were ready to tear both them and me to pieces."
Mon. 12 Sept 1743. I preached at one on Treswithian Downs, and in the evening at St. Ives. The dread of God fell upon us while I was speaking, so that I could hardly utter a word; but most of all in prayer, wherein I was so carried out as scarce ever before in my life.
I had had for some time a great desire to go and publish the love of God our Saviour, if it were but for one day, in the Isles of Scilly. And I had occasionally mentioned it to several. This evening three of our brethren came and offered to carry me thither, if I could procure the mayor’s boat, which (they said) was ‘the best sailor of any in the town’. I sent, and he lent it me immediately. So the next morning, Tuesday 13, John Nelson, Mr. Shepherd, and I, with three men and a pilot, sailed from St. Ives. It seemed strange to me to attempt going in a fisher boat fifteen leagues upon the main ocean, especially when the waves began to swell and hang over our heads. But I called to my companions, and we all joined together in singing lustily and with a good courage:
When passing through the watery deep,
I ask in faith his promised aid,
The waves an awful distance keep,
And shrink from my devoted head.
Fearless their violence I dare:
They cannot harm, for God is there.
About half an hour after one we landed on St. Mary’s, the chief of the inhabited islands.
We immediately waited upon the governor, with the usual present, viz., a newspaper. I desired him likewise to accept of an Earnest Appeal. The minister not being willing I should preach in the church, I preached at six in the streets to almost all the town, and many soldiers, sailors, and workmen, on, ‘Why will ye die, O house of Israel?’ It was a blessed time, so that I scarce knew how to conclude. After sermon I gave them some little books and hymns, which they were so eager to receive that they were ready to tear both them and me to pieces.
For what political reason such a number of workmen were gathered together and employed at so large an expense, to fortify a few barren rocks, which whosoever would take deserves to have them for his pains, I could not possibly devise; but a providential reason was easy to be discovered. God might call them together to hear the gospel, which perhaps otherwise they might never have thought of.
At five in the morning I preached again, on, ‘I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely.’ And between nine and ten, having talked with many in private and distributed both to them and others between two and three hundred hymns and little books, we left this barren, dreary place and set sail for St. Ives, though the wind was strong and blew directly in our teeth. Our pilot said we should have good luck if we reached the land; but he knew not him whom the wind and seas obey. Soon after three we were even with the Land’s End, and about nine we reached St. Ives.