The inhabitants of St. Pierre, on the island of Martinique in the West Indies, were considerably startled early in May, 1902, when the slumbering giant volcano, Mont Pelée, awoke and with deep roarings and rumblings began to shower upon the surrounding plantations large quantities of cinders.
For 50 years not a tremor had been felt, and the light-hearted islanders, with no thought of lurking tragedy, picnicked on the mountainside or bathed in the cool waters of the crater. But now as night approached, the fierce noise increased, and the long hours of darkness were lightened by the lurid flashes of flame which issued from the crater.
During those days of terror refugees streamed into the imagined safety of St. Pierre, so that by the seventh of May the number of men and women and children within the town amounted to almost 30,000.
About 8 o'clock the next morning, with a frightful crash, the volcano spat out a cloud of what appeared to be dense smoke towards the heavens. For a few tense moments the air seemed dead. An unearthly hush fell on the city. In that cloud, what in reality was thousands of tons of molton lava, poured down Mont Pelée's slopes, through the streets of St. Pierre, and in a very brief time had destroyed every living soul in the town — but one!
The only survivor of those 30,000 islanders was a man named Joseph Jean Marie who was serving a sentence in the jail. He had just ended his meal of bread and water, when the glimmer of light which entered the narrow slit that served as a window was suddenly shut out, and into his cell came the scalding mud, but not sufficient to kill him. Shortly afterwards, a dead silence reigned, but the sun had risen and fallen three times before rescuers found, and were able to release the prisoner.
Gradually there came to his ears the steady tap-tap-tapping of a pick. As it came nearer and then seemed to grow more distant, feelings of hope and despair surged in the prisoner's mind. But at last a tiny crack appeared in the wall. Slowly it widened until a gap of several feet was made. Then three members of the rescue party leaped into the cell — and he was saved.
The awful destruction of St. Pierre and its pleasure-loving people was indeed a solemn judgment; but a more solemn judgment awaits this world which put to death the Son of God long ago, and still rejects Him today. The long-suffering and gracious God still bears with men's folly, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Soon all the warning will cease, and swift destruction will overtake sinners in their sins.
But it is yet the day of grace. Yield yourself to the Saviour, dear reader. Come now before this day of God's mercy closes forever.
Turn and believe this very hour,
Trust in the Saviour's love and power,
Then shall your final answer be,
Saved by grace for eternity.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16
Copied with permission from Messages of God's Love published by Bible Truth Publishers, Addison, IL 60101.
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