Did I Do All That I Could?
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
IN a terrible storm on Lake Michigan, the Elgin was wrecked near Evanston, Illinois. The life-savers of the crew of the Northwestern University worked heroically for the rescue of the people. One member of the crew after another became exhausted with his labor, until only two brothers were left. At last they, too, sank down, worn out, on the beach. One brother said to the other: " I must go out to the wreck one more time." The brother answered, " You are not able ; you will perish in the storm." He said, " I cannot bear to see those people die," and, breaking from his brother, went to the wreck.
After a time, he returned, more dead than alive, bringing two persons in. He fell upon the beach so exhausted that he could not speak.
They laid him out on the sand, and when he had rallied a little, he uttered a faint whisper. His brother, leaning over him, caught these words : " Did I do all that I could? Did I do all that I could? " The brother said, " Certainly you did, you saved seventeen." He answered faintly, " What are seventeen to the many who were lost." They took him to the hospital, where for some time he lay in a critical condition, and was heard constantly to say, " 0! if I could have saved just one more."
More than twenty years afterward, Miss Harriet Taylor was making an address to young women in Los Angeles, Cal., in which she made reference to this man's heroism. A young lady, at the conclusion of the service, came to the platform, and asked the speaker if she knew who that young hero was. The speaker answered that she did not know, except that she understood that his name was Spencer. The young lady said, " That man was my father ; the terrific struggle of that hour made him more or less of an invalid for life. He is now entirely used up. He is a very devout Christian, and when he undertakes to do church work, even, we have to hold him back ; but he always answers, ` I must work as hard to save souls from being lost as I did to save the people from the wreck.' "
Every member of Christ's Church belongs to the crew of the life-saving service, and should do everything possible to rescue the perishing.
There can be no life question more important than the one asked by the noble hero on the sand, " Did I do all that I could? " It will be well if the affirmative answer given to him shall be heard by us. Not a fraction of duty imperfectly done, but all of duty fully performed, should be the motto of every Christian.
The deep life-saving instinct which led the brave young man to say, " Oh that I could have saved one more," was worthy the heart of an angel, and suggests intense passion for the rescue of souls which prompts the spirit to this lament, " Oh that I could have saved one more."