OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Having lived for the last 10 years in Alexander Selkirk's old home ( now rebuilt) and observing with growing interest the number of visitors of all nationalities and ages who came to admire the lovely statue above the door, it occurred to me that a short outline of his life, as far as it is known, might be of interest!
The writer's interest in him began 71 years ago, when as a girl of 10 years I spent a holiday with my mother and baby sister in the house opposite. I had just read Defoe's story "Robinson Crusoe," and like the majority of people thought of him as a "Story Book Man." To discover he had been a Real Man and had actually been born here, was a wonderful thrill to me. I can well remember gazing up admiringly at his statue. "My cup seemed to run over," when one morning the old lady who lived in the house invited me in to "See his bed" (an old boxed one on a stone floor) and ended by inviting me to sleep in it for the weekend! I did--
His parents were God fearing people who by example and precept would sow the seeds of religion in his heart. He was the youngest son of seven children and no doubt got more of his own way than was good for him!
There is no detailed history of his early life but one can understand his love of the sea and the freedom of a small village.
From what has been chronicled, he was very hasty and quick tempered and got into many scrapes--one of which ended in his running off to sea!
In the year 1704, Captain Dampier, an intrepid explorer, and alas, a buccaneer as a sideline, marooned Selkirk (who was his chief mate) on the remote island of Juan Fernandez as punishment for insubordination! Four years later he returned to pick up Selkirk ! !
The most thrilling episode in Selkirk's history, however, began while still in exile, probably in a state of despondency he resorted to his Bible for consolation and comfort.
On his return to England he told the story of his four years alone on his prison island.
This fired the imagination of Daniel Defoe who wrote the famous book "Robinson Crusoe," using the true story as the basis of his fiction "Robinson Crusoe" is still well worth reading and quite a thriller though young people in this age of astronauts, may not agree.
The real life hero of the story became a true Christian during his exile. There without any human help, guidance or persuasion the Spirit of God Himself taught Crusoe out of the Bible and led him to Repentance towards God and to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Here is his own account---"I had alas no Divine knowledge, what I had received by the good instruction of my father was worn out by an uninterrupted series for eight years of seafaring wickedness with such as were like myself -- wicked and profane to the last degree.
"I don't remember in all that time that I had one thought towards God! Or one reflection upon my own ways, but now, when I began to be sick and a leisurely view of the miseries of death came before me, my spirit began to sink, and conscience that had slept so long began to awake, then I cried out "Lord be my helper for I am in distress. This was the first prayer, if I may call it so, that I had made for years.
"I took up the Bible and began to read. Having opened the book casually, the first words I read were these, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify ME." (Psalm 50:verse 15). My thoughts ran exceedingly upon the Scripture, "I will deliver thee." This touched my heart, and immediately I kneeled down and gave God thanks aloud.
"In the morning I took the Bible and beginning at the New Testament I imposed upon myself to read morning and evening, not tying myself to the numbers of chapters, but as long as my thoughts would engage me. I found my heart more deeply and sincerely affected with the wickedness of my past life. I earnestly begged on God to give me repentance!
"When it happened providentially the very day while reading the Scriptures I came to these words, "Him hath God exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour to give Repentance and to give Remission" (Acts 5, verse 31), I threw down the Book and with my heart as well as my hands lifted to Heaven, in a kind of ecstasy of joy, cried out aloud, "Jesus, Jesus, Thou exalted Prince and Saviour"
A true conversion indeed. Reader, what about you?
Alexander Selkirk became a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy on H.M.S. Weymouth and died of fever in 1723 aged 47, on the West African coast.
Largo, Fife. April 1968
The writer's conversion was in many ways similar to Crusoe's but under different circumstances.
The Bible was a closed book until illness came, and through the prayers of friends - The Way, The Truth and The Life broke through, and at home, without any instruction other than Reading the Bible, a complete surrender of the will of God was made. The Result - a conscience sense of Peace and Forgiveness, which after 45 years daily grows stronger.
Wonderful Jesus -------- E.M.A.