The elders of the Church often speak of the care shown by the Lord in preserving his Saints from harm. He has delivered them miraculously from accidents and death many times.
I will tell of a case which God exercised his power in behalf of a company of his people.
The children who read the Instructor perhaps all know that hundreds and thousands of Saints gather to this country, from far-off nations, every year. Many ship loads of them have crossed the Atlantic Ocean - a voyage of nearly 3,000 miles. On the sea, many accidents occur whereby people lose their lives by drowning, through the sinking of ships in storms. But nothing of this kind has ever taken place with a ship load of Saints. The reason for this is, that God has promised to protect his elect who should gather from the four quarters of the earth in these latter days.
In the year 1866, Elder Brigham Young Jr., who was then president of what is called the European Mission of the Church, appointed the writer of this article to take charge of a company of about five hundred Saints from Great Britain to the banks of the Missouri River, in this country, on their way to Salt Lake City. The Saints did not cross the sea in fast sailing steamships in those days. They traveled over the waters in slow-going sailing ships, depending for speed on favorable winds. At that time six weeks was considered the average length of time for a voyage from England to New York.
We left port the port of London on the 23rd of May, 1866, a very fine company of people, not a few of whom, I am pleased to say, are good, honorable members of the Church, in Utah today. I have in my mind especially now some of the boys who were with us. I have seen them grow up to manhood, and they are still faithful.
When the American Congress, on which we sailed, was near the shores of Newfoundland a thick fog prevailed for several days, which prevented Captain Woodward from taking an observation, being unable to see the sun. He therefore could not tell exactly where we were.
About this time the captain and Brother John Rider, who now lives in Kanab, and who was one of my counselors in the presidency of the company, were conversing on the part of the ship called the quarter deck. I was standing some distance away from them. Brother Rider happened to turn his face in the direction in which the ship was sailing. At that moment the fog lifted up from the surface of the sea, as if a vail or scroll had been raised. He saw clearly between the fog and the water for some distance ahead.
Suddenly he exclaimed, pointing forward, "Captain, what is that?"
Captain Woodward, who was tall, powerful and active, made no answer. It was no time for orders. He sprang to the wheelhouse with the agility of a tiger, and knocked the man at the helm "heels over head," sending him sprawling upon the deck. At the same instant he grasped the wheel, turning it with the most surprising rapidity. Although his movements were so quick, he did not lose his presence of mind a moment. He was busy with his voice as well as his hands, for awhile he acted as I have described, he shouted, in clear, loud, piercing tones, the several orders directing all hands to "bout ship." The sailors sprang to their posts. They were active limbs and busy hands among the rigging. The good ship American Congress, swayed slowly around, and the moment of peril was past.
Had this action been delayed a few moments the vessel would have been among the breakers, upon the rock, dashed in pieces and probably not a soul of the nearly five hundred on board would have escaped a watery grave.
The rocks and breakers ahead, on the line of the vessels course, were what Brother Rider saw when the fog lifted. The captain asked us, as a special favor, not to say a word to the people about the danger with which the ship had been threatened. He being the commander of the vessel, we considered it right to respect his desire; besides, we thought his suggestion wise, as a knowledge of what had occurred would doubtless have caused an uneasy feeling among the passengers. The company were, therefore, not aware of the great danger they had escaped.
Elder Rider and myself thanked God for his goodness in so manifestly exercising his power in behalf of his Saints. The Lord fulfilled the promises made to us by his servants at the time we left England for the land of Zion. [p.19]
BIB: Nicholson, John, "Saved by Providence," in Juvenile Instructor 16:2 (15 January 1881) p.19. (CHL)