March 27, 1820 – it is with peculiar emotions of adoring gratitude that we acknowledge the distinguishing goodness of God seasonably interposed for our deliverance this day. While Brother Whitney was assisting in painting the outside of the vessel, which he considered not only as pleasant and profitable, but needful exercise, the rope on which he held by one hand gave way and let him fall from a temporary scaffold into the sea. His weight, and the force of the ship entirely broke his hold from the rope and left him astern calling for help. Capt. B’s orders were promptly executed, and the Brig, tho’ under full sail at the rate of 6 or 7 knots an hour, was “hove to” in less than 5 minutes and stopped sailing. In the meantime Br. W. whose perfect self-possessed skill in swimming enabled him successfully to buffet the waves after one or two had broken over him happily gained a small bench which had been providentially carried on deck a few minutes before, and was thrown overboard to serve him as a temporary buoy. On this he was easily sustained after it had once or twice deceived him by rolling, tho’ his strength was considerably exhausted. Never before did the Mission family know how much they loved him. In 5 minutes more the boat was cleared away and let down, and sent to his relief, which reached him in about 5 minutes at the distance perhaps of 1/6 of a mile. Before the Boat set off, he raised his hat and waved it, lest his anxious wife should be too much distressed, and then composed himself in prayer; while many on board were, in this “soul-trying hour” lifted up to God in fervent petitions that he would spare his life for his appointed work among the gentiles. Not far from 21 minutes after he fell, by the blessing of him who had said, “When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee”, he was safely returned and joyfully received on board and welcomed with many tears, and with thanksgiving to our strong deliverer who saved the sinking Peter, and who was now equally present with his saving help. Assembled this evening and presented our united thank offering to our covenant Father who is our “very present help in trouble”, who can at once deliver those who trust in him, from the waves and from the monsters of the deep, and with equal care “from the floods of ungodly obligation”.
We acknowledge too, our obligation to Capt. B. and others under him, not only for the kind sympathies which they manifested but for the prompt and efficient aid which they extended to our brother in distress. As the best return which we can make, may we be enabled to exhibit equal sympathy, promptitude, and efficiency in seeking their salvation. We hope this interesting providence will do us all good, make us feel more deeply the importance of constant preparation for our unexpected summons, produce in us a more cheerful spirit of laborious diligence in the work which we believe God has designed for our brother and the rest of us to do among the heathen, who without aid must sink in endless perdition. (Thaddeus Journal)
27th. Today our dear brother Whitney fell overboard as he was assisting the sailors paint the outside of the Brig. We were sailing at the rate of 6 knots an hour and it was some time before the Boat could be lowered to go after him but he was able to reach a bench which was thrown to him and so was spared his valuable life as we trust for great usefulness in Owhyhee (Hawaii). Thus is the Lord right to help in times of trouble. (Samuel & Nancy Ruggles)
March 27th. A kind and merciful providence, has this day interposed and rescued my dear Husband from a watery grave. This morning he felt in unusual good spirits and said to me, “I shall soon have a downfall,” intimating, that he expected something would turn the current of his feelings. Feeling the need of exercise, & the officers being engaged in painting, he offered to assist them. It was not long before I heard a running on deck – all seemed to be in great confusion. I could not imagine what could be the cause of such commotion; until I heard the cry “Morrison” (one of the sailors) “has falled over board.” I ran upon deck and was soon informed it was Mr. W. But the promise “as thy day is, so shall thy strength be,” was verified to me. I was enabled to compose my feelings & look to God in prayer. I felt willing to leave my dear friend in the hands of my heavenly Father, knowing that he would do what is best. The place itself where he stood was not dangerous, but the rope by which he held gave way, which occasioned his fall. We were sailing 6 miles an hour; but no sooner was it known that he was in the water than the sails were turned and the vessel stopped. This was done almost instantly. One of the officers afterwards remarked to me, “it seemed providential & very remarkable that so much should be accomplished in so short a time.” The boat was immediately let down & rowed for his deliverance. By this time the vessel had drifted a considerable distance from him, he had previously caught hold of a bench which was thrown over for his relief; & God was pleased to spare his life until other means were used to rescue him from danger & death. Here will I again erect my Ebenezer, for hitherto hath the Lord in mercy helped me. He has restored to me, my dear husband when he had sunk in the deep, and the grave seemed ready to swallow him up. O what shall I render to the Lord for his goodness. I hope this dispensation of providence may be sanctified, and prove a means of exciting us to diligence in our Master’s work. May we remember that death will soon terminate our labours and that “what we do we must do quickly.” (Mercy Partridge Whitney Journal)
27. – How mysterious are the ways of providence, & how frail this human dependence! When my mountain stood strong, and I said I shall not be moved, then God hid his face & I was troubled. But I cried unto him and he heard me, his loving kindness was great and he delivered me. – This morning as the officers were painting on the quarter, I thought it would be a good time for me to exercise, believing there would be no danger from the stage which was let down as I had taken the precaution to see that the rope was fast which was to support me. I had not been at work long before the ropes slipped & I fell back into the water the ship that this time was going at the rate of six miles an hour. With emotions not to be described I saw the ship, my friends, the wife of my bosom leaving me behind. But I was not left long to speculate on dissolving ties. Eternity appeared nearer than ever before. The thought of soon standing before my judge was for a moment dreadful. But he who said to the winds & the waves ‘be still’ gave me strength to commit myself into his hands. And there in the midst of the waves I renewed my covenants to spend my spared life in building up his kingdom in the Isles of the sea. Relief was at hand and in the space of 20 to 30 minutes I was again on board. Thus I now stand a monument of God’s mercy, bound by a covenant which I hope, & trust the influence of temptation will never cause me to break. (Samuel Whitney Journal)