‘Why has God done this to me?’ I asked myself. But then I remembered my wicked life, and I said to myself, ‘Why do you ask why God has done this to you? Ask instead why you were not killed long ago’.
Sadly disturbed by these thoughts, I went to my chest to look for some tobacco. There I also found the Bibles I had taken from the ship. I took one of the Bibles and began to read. The first words I saw were these: ‘Call on me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you, and you will praise me.’ The words were very relevant to my situation, and I often thought about them afterwards. Before going to bed, I knelt down and prayed to God. I asked him to fulfil the promise of the Bible and deliver me. I had taken rum and tobacco, so I fell asleep and did not wake up until about three in the afternoon of the next day. When I awoke I was refreshed and cheerful.
July 3. I thought often about the words in the Bible, will deliver you, but it seemed impossible that I should escape from the island. Then suddenly I said to myself. ‘But I have been delivered from my illness!’ God had delivered me, but I had not praised Him. Instead of thanking Him for saving my life, I had thought only of escaping from the island.
July 4. I began to read the Bible seriously. I decided to read a little every morning and every night. Now I understood the words ‘Call on me, and I will deliver you’ in a different way. Before I had asked to be delivered from my island-prison. Now I asked to be delivered from the guilt of my sinful past. Deliverance from sin is a far greater blessing than deliverance from misery.
My mind was now calm and comforted. I had been on this unhappy island for more than ten months. I believed that no human being had ever come here before. I was lord of the whole island. If I liked, I could call myself king or emperor. I had enough wood to build twenty ships, enough food for an army. However, if I could not use it, it was of no value to me. I had enough to eat, so the rest was useless. I would have gladly given all my money for a little ink, because it would have been useful.
My life was now much easier than before. I thought much more about the blessings of my present life and much less about its misfortunes.
My ink had been gone for some time. My clothes were all worn out. I made new clothes for myself from the skins of the goats I killed. This was very slow and difficult work, since I had no needle. The weather was so hot that I could have gone naked. However, I did not want to go naked, even though there was no one to see me. I could not go naked, because the sun was so strong that it would burn my skin. I therefore made myself clothes, a hat, and even an umbrella. I tried to make a boat or canoe with which to escape from the island, for on a clear day I could see the mainland. It took me a long time to build the canoe. When it was finished it was too big for me to move. I could not get it to the shore, and so I left it where I had built it. Later, I made a smaller boat, but this was not large enough to take me to the mainland. I used it to sail around my island.
My life continued in this way for many years. It was an orderly life, filled with work and the praise of God. I was not unhappy. I was king of my island. My subjects were the goats, the dog, the cats, and some parrots I had tamed. There were no rebels among my subjects.
One day around noon something happened that changed my life on the island. I found the print of a man’s naked foot on the beach. I stood and looked at the footprint in amazement. I looked around me but saw nothing. I went to higher ground and looked again, but it was the same. I saw no one, and no other footprint except that one. I was terrified, and went home to hide myself.
At first I thought it must have been the footprint of the devil, for how could a human being have come to this place? I then began to think the print was left by savages from the mainland. They must have come in canoes and left again. I was very thankful that they had not seen my boat.
How strange is the life of man! Today we desire what tomorrow we fear. For years I had desired human society. Now I was terrified at the thought that another human being had set his foot upon the island!
I thought again of the words in the Bible: ‘Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you, and you will praise me.’ I prayed to God to deliver me from danger. Afterwards, I opened my Bible and read. Wait on the Lord, and he of good cheer, and He shall strengthen your heart. Although these words comforted me, I was still afraid. Fear of danger is ten thousand times more terrifying than danger itself. I no longer trusted in God, as had before. If I had kept my trust in God, I would have been more cheerful in this new distress.