Saturday, October 22, 2011
JW miraculously saved from drowning
Sat 22 Oct 1743: I rode from Nottingham to Epworth, and on Monday set out for Grimsby. But at Ferry we were at a full stop; the boatmen telling us we could not pass the Trent. It was as much as our lives were worth to put from shore before the storm abated. We waited an hour. But being afraid it would do much hurt if I should disappoint the congregation at Grimsby, I asked the men if they did not think it possible to get to the other shore. They said they could not tell; but if we would venture our lives, they would venture theirs. So we put off, having six men, two women, and three horses in the boat. Many stood looking after us on the riverside; in the middle of which we were, when in an instant, the side of the boat was under water, and the horses and men rolling one over another. We expected the boat to sink every moment, but I did not doubt of being able to swim ashore. The boatmen were amazed as well as the rest, but they quickly recovered and rowed for life. And soon after our horses leaping overboard lightened the boat, and we all came unhurt to land.
They wondered what was the matter, I did not rise (for I lay along in the bottom of the boat); and I wondered too; till upon examination we found that a large iron crow, which the boatmen sometimes used, was (none knew how) run through the string of my boot, which pinned me down that I could not stir. So that if the boat had sunk, I should have been safe enough from swimming any further.
The same day, and as near as we could judge the same hour, the boat in which my brother was crossing the Severn, at the New Passage, was carried away by the wind, and in the utmost danger of splitting upon the rocks. But the same God, when all human hope was past, delivered them as well as us.
In the evening, the house at Grimsby not being able to contain one fourth of the congregation, I stood in the street and exhorted every prodigal to ‘arise and go to his father’. One or two endeavoured to interrupt; but they were soon stilled by their own companions. The next day, Tuesday 25, one in the town promised us the use of a large room. But he was prevailed upon to retract his promise before the hour of preaching came. I then designed going to the Cross; but the rain prevented; so that we were a little at a loss till we were offered a very convenient place by ‘a woman which was a sinner’. I there declared ‘him’ (about one o’clock) whom ‘God hath exalted, to give repentance and remission of sins’. And God so confirmed the word of his grace that I marvelled any one could withstand him.
However the prodigal held out till the evening, when I enlarged upon her sins and faith, who ‘washed’ our Lord’s ‘feet with tears and wiped them with the hairs of her head’. She was then utterly broken in pieces (as indeed, was well-nigh the whole congregation) and came after me to my lodging, crying out, ‘O sir! “What must I do to be saved?”’ Being now informed of her case, I said, ‘Escape for your life. Return instantly to you husband.’ She said, ‘But how can it be? Which way can I go? He is above an hundred miles off. I have just received a letter from him; and he is at Newcastle upon Tyne.’ I told her, ‘I am going for Newcastle in the morning. You may go with me. William Blow shall take you behind him.’ And so he did. Glory be to the Friend of sinners! He hath plucked one more brand out of the fire.—Thou poor sinner, thou hast received a prophet in the name of a prophet, and thou art found of him that sent him.