On Sunday, March 6, 1881, a barque was wrecked off the north coast of Scotland. Fishermen on shore made several attempts to get a line on board, but the wind was too strong. They succeeded at last, however, by using an empty barrel. There were eleven men on board, but only four or five were able to do anything, the remainder being helpless from the cold. As soon as the apparatus was in working order for the traveling cage, which was to be drawn along the rope, one young sailor was put into it, and a few minutes found him on shore in the hands of kind friends.
This first man was scarcely saved when, through the tide and the wind, the ship was swung round among the rocks, and the traveling apparatus becoming entangled across her bow, was rendered unmanageable.
Then a man descended from the vessel and tried to save himself by coming along the rope hand over hand, but, alas, such an attempt was useless. The waves were beating over him like falling houses, and the poor fellow had gone but a little distance from the ship when the heavy seas swept over him, and in a few seconds he dropped into the surging waves. A few moments after this, the bow of the ship lifted again over the rocks, and soon the apparatus was disentangled and again workable, and all of the others were safely brought to shore.
When the captain was asked about the lost man he said, “We tried to persuade him not to attempt such a useless task, as it would be impossible for him to reach the shore in that way, but he would not listen to us. A fine fellow he was,” added the captain, “the best man in the crew; but he was lost because he tried to save himself in his own way.” Yes, all the rest were saved, but by other hands than their own.
Human powers are wholly inadequate for salvation. To rely upon them is to invite and insure spiritual disaster.