Dr. McIlvaine, in his Lectures in the Evidences of Christianity, relates the following:


"A well-dressed person of respectable appearance, good manners and sensible conversation called on me at my house, and looking at me earnestly, said, 'I think I have seen your face before.' 'Probably,' said I, thinking he had seen me in the pulpit. 'Did you not once preach in the receiving ship, at the navy-yard, on the prodigal son?' 'Yes.' 'Did you not afterwards go to a sailor sitting on a chest, and say, 'Friend, do you love to read your Bible?' 'Yes.' 'I, sir, was that sailor; but then I knew nothing about the Bible or about God: I was a poor, ignorant, degraded sinner. * * * I was for many years a sailor in the service of the British navy, indulging in all the extremes of a sailor's vices. The fear of death, or hell, or God, had not entered my mind. One day an humble Methodist preacher assembled a little congregation of sailors in the ship to which I was attached, and spoke from the text: 'Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation'[2 Corinthians 6:2]. I listened, merely because the preacher had once been a sailor. Soon it appeared to me that he knew me, though I was sitting where I [165] supposed myself concealed. To avoid being seen and marked, I several times changed my place, carefully getting behind the others. But wherever I went, the preacher seemed to follow me, and to describe my course of life, as though he knew it all. At length the discourse was ended: and I, assured that I had been the single object of the speaker's labors, went up and seized his hand, and said: Sir, I am the very man. That's just the life I have led. I am a poor miserable man; but I feel a desire to be good, and will thank you for some of your advice upon the subject.' The preacher bade me pray. I answered that I had never prayed in my life, but that I might be damned, as when I was swearing; and I didn't know how to pray. He instructed me. When Providence led you to me, sitting on the chest, you showed me a verse of the Bible, as one that would guide me; it was, 'Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out' (John 6:37). After this my mind was comforted with a hope of salvation through Jesus Christ. My vices were all abandoned. I became, from that time, a new creature in all my dispositions and habits, and have been for more than three years a member of the church of Christ."


"They took shipping, and came, seeking Jesus."--John 6:24. [166]


From: The Testimony of a Hundred Witnesses (1858) Compiled by J. F. Weishampel, Sr.

[THW 165-166]