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They, Appearing Alive, Yet Being Dead

January 6, 2010


It’s cold in Louisville, so the time is right for a chilling sermon illustration from T. T. Eaton:

In 1775, a Greenland whalership became stuck in the ice.  The captain spotted a passing ship and signaled for help.  The ship did not respond, so the captain boarded the neighboring ship.  He identified the ship’s captain in his cabin, writing an entry in his log book.  Upon approaching him, he found the man dead… frozen!  Indeed, the entire crew of the ship were frozen as well.  The last entry in the ship’s log book dated from 1762.  They had all perished thirteen years earlier.

How many of us around here appear alive and are yet dead?

–From the T. T. Eaton Papers, SBTS Archives

This ghostly frozen vessel, known as the legendary Octavius, was supposedly discovered by the whalership, Herald, on October 11, 1775.  Octavius was said to have departed England for the Orient in 1761 but failed to return home.  The existence of such a ship may be the stuff of legend, but Eaton’s challenge is pointed in its application.  And that’ll preach.

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