An ungodly sea captain lay in his cabin in mid-ocean, death staring him in the face. He shrank back in the presence of “the king of terrors,” and the dread of eternity took hold upon him.
Captain Coutts sent for his first mate, and said, “Williams, get down on your knees and pray for a fellow. I have been very wicked, as you know, and I expect I shall go this time.
“I am not a praying man, you know, captain, so I can’t pray. I would if I could.”
“Well, then, bring a Bible and read me a bit, for my rope is about run out.”
“I have no Bible, captain; you know I am not a religious man.”
“Then send for Thomas, the second mate; perhaps he can pray a bit.”
The second mate was soon in the presence of the dying captain, when he said to him, “I say, Thomas, I am afraid I am bound for eternity this trip. Get down and pray for me. Ask God to have mercy upon my poor soul.”
“I’d gladly do it to oblige you, captain, if I could; but I have not prayed since I was a boy.”
“Have you a Bible, then, to read to me?”
“No, captain, I have no Bible.”
Alas for the dying sinner! How awful his condition. On the brink of eternity, and without Christ!
They searched the ship over for a man who could pray, but they searched in vain: and for a Bible, but none could be found, until one of the sailors told the captain he had seen a book that looked like a Bible in the hands of the cook’s boy, a little fellow named Willie Platt.
“Send at once,” said Captain Coutts, “and see if the boy has a Bible.”
The sailor hurried off to the boy and said to him, “Sonny, have you a Bible?”
“Yes, sir, but I only read it in my own time.”
“Oh, that is all right, my boy; take the Bible and go to the captain’s cabin. He is very sick and wants a Bible. He thinks he is going to die.”
Away went Willie Platt with his Bible to the captain’s cabin.
“Have you a Bible, my boy?”
“Then sit down, and find something in it that will help me, for I am afraid I am going to die. Find something about God having mercy on a sinner like me, and read it to me.”
Poor boy! He did not know where to read, but he remembered that his mother had him read the 53rd chapter of Isaiah just before he left home for that voyage.
Willie turned to that blessed chapter that so fully sets forth the love and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ in dying for poor sinners such as John Coutts, and commenced to read. When William got to the fifth verse―”He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed,” ― the captain, who was listening for his very life, realizing that he was surely having his last chance of being saved, said, “Stop, my boy! That sounds like it! read it again.”
Once more the boy read over the blessed words.
“Aye, my boy, that’s good―that’s it, sure.”
These words from the captain encouraged Willie, and he said, “Captain, when I was reading that verse at home, Mother made me put my name in it. May I put it in now just where Mother told me?”
“Certainly, sonny; put your name in just where your mother told you, and read it again.”
Reverently and slowly the boy read the verse:
He―Jesus―was wounded for Willie Platt’s transgressions. He was bruised for Willie Platt’s iniquities, the chastisement of Willie Platt’s peace was upon Him, and with His stripes Willie Platt is healed.”
When Willie had finished, the captain was halfway over the side of his bed, reaching toward the boy, and said, “My boy, put your captain’s name in the verse and read it again ―John Coutts, John Coutts.
Then Willie slowly read the verse again: “He was wounded for John Coutts’ transgressions. He was bruised for John Coutts’ iniquities, the chastisement of John Coutts’ peace was upon Him, and with His stripes John Coutts is healed.”
When the boy had finished, the captain said, “That will do, my boy; you may go now.”
Then the captain lay back upon his pillow and repeated over and over again those precious words of Isa. 53:5, putting in his own name each time, and as he did so, the joy of heaven filled his soul He was saved? Yes, praise the Lord! reader, he was saved! Another poor sinner for whom Christ died “had received Him”.
Before John Coutts fell asleep in Jesus, he had witnessed to everyone on his vessel that the Christ of God ― the man of Calvary ― was wounded for his transgressions, bruised for his iniquities, that the chastisement that he rightfully deserved had fallen on his blessed Substitute, and with His stripes – the stripes that fell on Jesus – he had been healed!
Beloved reader, do you know anything about this salvation? Have you taken your true place as a poor “ungodly sinner” before God and trusted in Christ for pardon?
“God commends His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8