Obrazy na stronie

volve the new modelling of his whole life. Therefore the movement of his conscience was but the turn of a thought, the feeling of a moment; like the spark which blazes up, and on which at the same instant a drop of water falls, and it is extinguished. But it has shown that there is something within, something which we should not have been aware of if the spark had not betrayed it; something which might have grown up into a continuing and steady flame, if means had been used to foster and not to quench it. When account is given “of the things done in the body,” account must be given of the perverseness, the sinfulness, the hardness of heart, which checked that rising flame.

This would furnish just cause for Paul's passionate exclamation, and his prayer that Agrippa might be altogether a Christian. Not only almost, but altogether. He could be nothing else, if he were a Christian at all in any proper or available sense. There is no mid-way. To be a Christian, is to have sought acceptance with God through Christ, and to be looking for salvation through faith in him. This admits of no middle course. If one is accused before men, there is no middle course; he must be either innocent or guilty, and must plead either one or the other. So it is at the bar of God. Either we are trusting in ourselves that we are righteous; or because we are not righteous, we are trusting in Christ, who has made propitiation for our sins. Therefore there can be no mid-way as to FAITH; no meaning in being almost a Christian. Neither as to PRACTICE, can there be a middle course. Because either we are seeking “first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” or we are seeking this world first : that is, preferring it, wherever the interests of the one clash with the interests of the other. We cannot at the same time love God most, and mammon most. Either we are yielding to some desires, and habits, and temptations contrary to the gospel; or we are rejecting and opposing these, as they must who are altogether Christians, and bringing every thought, and word, and deed into obedience to Christ. Such must be their purpose and endeavour.

and endeavour. Not because to be altogether a Christian, a man must be altogether perfect. But because he must be altogether sincere in aiming at perfection, and allowing himself in nothing short of it.

This was the state of Paul's own heart, and knowing the comfort which he derived from the consciousness of this, and the blessed consequence which should follow, he earnestly desired that both Agrippa, and all before whom he was pleading, might be nothing less; might be not only almost but altogether Christians.

Agrippa, however, had now heard enough to satisfy his curiosity, and too much, perhaps, to maintain his ease of mind; and he would hear no


30. And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them :

31. And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of' bonds.

32. Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Cæsar.




ACTS xxvii. 1_12.

1. And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band.

2. And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia, one Aristarchus, a Macedonian, of Thessalonica, being with us.

3. And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.

He who saw fit that Paul should " bear witness to him at Rome,” provided also mitigations for the distresses of the voyage. Two faithful companions, Luke and Aristarchus, attended him. And as in former days, when the counsels of God required that Joseph should be carried into Egypt, God gave him favour first with Potiphar, and afterwards with the keeper of the prison ; so now he gave Paul favour in the sight of Julius the centurion. No doubt the character of Paul astonished him; and he saw that he was no ordinary man, though the principles on which he acted were a mystery to him. Therefore, he courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself. For everywhere he had friends, as the apostle of Christ. He could not stop at Sidon, or any other much frequented port, without finding those who had been " added to the church." These would gladly welcome their own apostle, Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles—Paul " the prisoner of the Lord,” the “ ambassador in bonds." And in such welcome and intercourse he would enjoy a compensation for the hardships he was enduring, and for trials yet to come.

4. And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.

5. And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.

6. And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing unto Italy; and he put us therein.

7. And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone;

8. And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called, The Fair Havens ; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.

9. Now when much time was spent, and when sailing

[blocks in formation]

was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,'

10. And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt, and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.

11. Nevertheless, the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.

12. And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the southwest and north-west.

The account here given describes human nature generally. Present inclination, present interests, bias the judgment, and lead men to act on the most improbable expectations. All the signs by which these voyagers ought to have been guided, concurred with the opinion declared by Paul, and showed that the voyage must be dangerous and ruinous. But the master and owner of the ship under-rated the danger, and despised the risk. They were anxious to proceed. Their opportunity would be lost : their market missed : their hope of gain disappointed. The centurion also was impatient; desired to see the end of his voyage, and to deliver up his charge at Rome. So the mariners advised to pursue their course in defiance of warnings ; and the officers acquiesced, and believed the

? The great fast of expiation, appointed, Lev. xvi. 29, to take place on the tenth day of the month Tisri, or about 25th September, the season of the equinoctial gales.

« PoprzedniaDalej »