Edward S. Ufford, a Baptist preacher, often visited Nantucket Beach, a particularly dangerous coastal area, where many ships had been destroyed on the rocks. The local lifesaving station at Point Allerton had a Lyle gun to shoot out a lifeline to ships in need. While watching a lifesaving drill he noticed some of the previous wrecks. A friend of his recounted a scene, where a schooner was being tossed in a storm and was in danger of being destroyed. The lifeline was shot out several times but fell short until finally it reached the vessel and enabled the men to safely pull the ship in to safety. The title “Throw out the life line” stuck in Ufford’s mind, he soon went home and took out a pencil, and in ten minutes penned the words to this most beloved hymn.
If we were to see a person drowning, we would attempt to do something about it. If we were to see a person trapped in a burning building, we would attempt to do something about it. Compassion for our fellow man would motivate us to help him in some way or another. How much more important is a person’s spiritual condition than his physical life! Therefore, when we see a person lost in sin, our compassion for his soul should motivate us to “Throw Out The Life Line.”