Curious Coincidences or Divine Providences - Which?

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 11
GOD’S ways are always wonderful, for He is “Wonderful.” Ever perfect, for He is perfect, and His ways past finding out. I love that verse of a hymn—
“And when had come the moment,
He, calling by His grace,
Did gently, firmly draw us,
Each from his hiding place.”
The One who said to Adam in the garden, and brought him from his hiding-place behind the trees, “Adam, where art thou?” says the same to you, my reader, this very moment. And may He bring you by the still small voice of His love from wherever your fancied security is, to own, as the first man did—and so will the last one too—your unfitness for His presence, “I am naked,” to find all the fig-leaved aprons of religion and self-righteousness of no avail before Him, and then to find yourself cleansed and clothed as Adam in the 3rd of Genesis and Joshua in the 3rd of Zechariah did: which chapters do read, and may God bless them to you.
Years ago there were two young men living in the same garrison town. Their names consisted of six letters each—and four of these the same—and, further, each name began with Fra. So I will call them Frader and Franke. As boys they were acquainted with each other: in course of time both enlisted in the Army, Frader in the cavalry, and the other in the Royal Artillery. From this their paths diverged, and they did not meet again until some years after, during the Indian Mutiny in 1857, outside Cawnpore, that place of dreadful memories, where the horrible massacre, not only of our soldiers, but of helpless women and children, took place; calling forth the most terrible passions of the men of the force who relieved Lucknow, when too late to deliver the hapless garrison of Cawnpore. Well do I remember a gallant Highlander telling me they discovered the body of a female which had not been thrown down the too celebrated well, supposed to be that of General Wheeler’s daughter. Before burying it they reverently cut off the long tresses, dividing them amongst themselves, each swearing they would have the life of a rebel Sepoy for each hair, “and,” he grimly added, “we kept our word too!” Such is war. Oh, for the time when the “Prince of Peace” shall reign, and the prophecy of swords and spears being beaten into ploughshares and pruning hooks be carried out. It will someday, for God has said it.
Well, it was at Cawnpore the two met, to separate shortly to go into action.
During the time preceding this, Frader, whom I knew best, had many a serious thought, specially when he saw comrade after comrade carried off from cholera and buried in a few hours. But these impressions wore off, and perhaps this has happened to you, and you have put it away from you, listening to the Devil’s “tomorrow,” which never comes, instead of heeding God’s “today!” “Now is the accepted time.” Do not, let me beg of you, my reader, continue in this style—waiting for a more convenient season, like Felix in the 24th of Acts—for God will not be mocked: and though He has borne long with you patiently, remember He says, through the wise man in Prov. 29:11He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. (Proverbs 29:1), “He that being often reproved and hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”
One day there was to be a big fight outside Lucknow, and as Frader and the men of his tent were laughing and joking what they would do next day, my friend said, “I shall think myself lucky if I come off with the loss of a hand tomorrow.” The action took place. The cavalry charged, and Frader got separated from his troop, and found himself attacked by a Sepoy. The latter avoided the cut made at him, but with one sweep of his tulwar cut off his adversary’s left—the bridle hand—at the wrist. Two men came up and rescued him by killing the Sepoy, then pointed out the direction of the camp, which Frader—who had, as he said, “come off with the loss of a hand”—reached, nearly fainting, and almost falling off his horse from loss of blood, was taken into the hospital tent, and his handless stump attended to. After a little while another wounded soldier was brought in, and who should it be but his former friend Franke—his RIGHT hand shattered by the explosion of a shell which he had been preparing to fire into Lucknow. So there they were, one with right hand and the other with his left hand gone. To add to the horror of the scene—the groans, and, alas! curses of the wounded and dying—the tent caught fire, and each had to crawl out as best he could, most of the poor fellows losing all they had. Frader, being a methodical fellow, was enabled to drag out the best part of his kit with him, which he shared with Franke. They go down country together and borne in the same ship, are discharged, and again lose sight of one another.
A vacancy occurs for a messenger in one of the offices at W—, and one of these was appointed to the post. The hall porter was an earnest Christian man, and sought to set the truth of God’s love and Christ’s work for guilty sinners before the new messenger. He listened, but was not yet reached as to his conscience. Being removed to another billet, the other was appointed, and the same old porter spoke to the new messenger; but the moment had not come for him: but God was at work, and the recollections of the Mutiny and all he had gone through haunted him, giving him no rest. One evening Frader was returning to his quarters. He saw people going into a dingy-looking building, and out of curiosity followed them. The word spoken that night fell upon ploughed-up soil, took root, and peace like an even river flowing in, followed by great joy, was the result. On coming out, who should accost him but Franke, who himself had got blessing in the same dingy room through the same preacher. Again were they together attending the same room, and seeking to serve the same Master; and it may make you smile, my reader, they used to share the same pair of gloves!
Both are with the Lord now for some years— the artilleryman before the dragoon. The latter removed to a small seafaring town near Brighton, where he commenced a gospel work in an old sail loft, the result of which will only be fully known in “that day,” though there are several there, as in other places, to “rise up and call him blessed.”
Well, my reader, have you troubled to follow the curious, and to me very interesting, chain of events in the story of the two I have named, leading up to the grand result of not only being saved themselves, but seeking to bring others to Christ? Well, do I remember the happy faces of both as they more than once told me the foregoing curious category of coincidences, as some would call it, but prefer seeing the hand of a loving Father, and calling them Divine Providences.
Belonging to the same town, each “going for a soldier,” as people say, wounded in same action, attended to in same hospital tent, which was burnt over their heads, going home in same ship, one after the other filling the same office as messenger, spoken to by the same godly hall porter, eventually getting peace in the same dingy building, through the same preacher, remembering the Lord in His death at the same table, serving the same Master, and using the same pair of gloves. And now may the same blessed Holy Ghost, who called each from his hiding place, reach your conscience, my reader, convincing you of sin, if never before, till you cry with the jailer at Philippi, “What must I do to be saved?” then speaking peace to your soul by the same words, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and THOU, yes, Thou shalt be saved.” Saved now and forever, for God’s is an eternal salvation, like Himself.
S. V. H.