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master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.
It is an example of the feelings to which men yield in things concerning the soul; and the whole history furnishes an useful illustration..
The gospel itself may be compared to a refuge : the sort of refuge which Paul would have persuaded the mariners to secure. But present interests stand in the way; the refuge is not sought; the haven is not entered. There are pursuits which, if it were entered, must be given up: there are pleasures which must be resigned too many in the world imagine that some future time will suffice to secure the interests of the soul: and men believe the things currently spoken in the world, more than the things spoken by the Bible and the ministers of religion. The obstacles are present, the self-denial immediate: and the heart cannot be prevailed on to oppose the obstacles and submit to the self-denial, whilst a hope remains that the storm may be dispersed, and the voyage be prolonged.
Ye should have believed me, said Paul afterwards, and not have incurred this harm and loss. When the danger is no longer distant, then appears the wisdom of those who have fled for refuge whilst yet there was time. When the storm rises-perhaps affliction-perhaps sickness and approaching death--then is the want of a refuge felt, and then is seen the blessedness of having secured the haven.
For that must be first provided. The storm will
not carry the vessel to the shelter which it needs. It must be found anchored there, when the tempest comes. Then they who are within the haven to which their faith has brought them, the haven of God's mercy in Christ, enjoy that "strong consolation" which they desired and sought, when they "fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before them." Though the clouds gather, and the winds blow, and beat upon the soul, it shall not sink, for it is anchored upon a rock.
THE SHIP IN WHICH PAUL WAS SAILING BEING IN. DANGER, PAUL FORETELS THE PRESERVATION OF THE LIVES OF THOSE ON BOARD.— A. D. 62.
ACTS xxvii. 13–26.
13. And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.
14. But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.
15. And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.
16. And running under a certain island, which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat;
3 See Heb. vi. 18.
17. Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.
18. And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship ;
19. And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.
20. And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.
21. But after long abstinence, Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.
22. And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship.
Whilst affairs are prosperous, the opinion or advice of such men as Paul is neglected and despised. In the hour of difficulty, their counsel is more justly valued. When Belshazzar gave a royal feast to a thousand of his lords, and "the harp and the viol, the tabret and pipe, and wine was in the feast;"1- there was no place for Daniel : his presence would have cast a gloom over the whole assembly. But when the alarm arose, and "king Belshazzar was greatly troubled, and his lords were astonished ;"--then let Daniel be summoned, for "an excellent spirit is in him," and the best hope of safety is there. It is much the same in this voyage. Paul's advice had been disregarded. But now the mariners had exhausted
1 Dan. v.
every measure by which they expected to preserve the ship, and were reduced to despair. All hope that we should be saved was taken away. Paul alone comes forward to their comfort and encouragement. He reminds them that he had some claim to be credited, for he had forewarned them of the harm and loss which they had incurred, and if they had hearkened unto him they would not have loosed from Crete. Now, therefore, they might believe him, when he exhorted them to be of good cheer, for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. And then he declares the reason of his confidence. It had a
firm basis to rest on.
23. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
24. Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Cæsar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.
They had seen from the first, and Paul does not conceal it, that he was the servant of a God whom his fellow-passengers knew not. And now he openly proclaims this. He had been visited by the messenger of God, whose I am, and whom I
Though all do not likewise serve God, all are likewise his. "It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves." As Daniel reminded Belshazzar; "the God in whose hands thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, thou hast not glorified."
To Belshazzar, God manifested himself in judgment. Here was the voice of mercy. Fear not, Paul: that which has been determined concerning thee must take place: though all things conspire together to oppose it, thou must stand before the emperor at Rome. And, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.
Paul, we may be sure, had been earnest in prayer before God in behalf of these people. And now he announces that God had listened to his prayer; had given him assurance that there should be no loss of any man's life among them. He exhorts them, therefore, to feel that confidence which those are entitled to feel, who have received God's promises. For the promises of God are not like those of man, sometimes turned aside by change of purpose, and sometimes failing through defect of
25. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer; for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.
26. Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.
I believe God. Such is the simple description of the state of Paul's mind. He did not suppose that God had spoken, and would fail to make good what he had spoken. But he believed him. As Noah had done, when God had foreshown that he would cover the earth with a flood, and destroy the world which he had made. Noah believed God, and "prepared an ark to the saving of his house." So, too, Abraham had done, when in his old age a son was promised him, "in whose