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that we should sail into Italy." Who determined this? Festus had the vanity to think that he had determined it. (See Acts xxv. 12.) Poor deluded man! A much higher authority than an earthly governor, had arranged this long before Festus was born, in that "everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure." (2 Sam. xxiii. 5.) And Paul himself had been favoured with a vision immediately from the Lord, to tell him that he should bear witness for the Lord at Rome. (Acts xxiii. 11.) Could the world be made sensible of this divine ordination,when at any time the great ones of the earth are carrying themselves proudly, how would it tend to lessen their high-blown loftiness in the consciousness that they are but mere instruments for accomplishing the purposes of the divine will! The Lord's people, however, though unrenewed men know it not, should have it always in remembrance. It would save them many an' heart-ach, when at any time matters are dark and unpromising. In every event of life, the Lord is carrying on his own wise and unerring counsel concerning them. And his language, did they listen to it, and mark the tendencies of his grace in all that concerns their present and everlasting welfare, speaks in the same tender and affectionate manner as Jesus did to his disciples, when on earth: "What I do, thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter." (John xiii. 7.)

Let the reader observe, what is said of "Paul and certain other prisoners," being delivered into the charge of a centurion named Julius. Who, and what, those other prisoners were, is not said; but it should seem to have been, if not a goodly company, yet a numerous one, for the whole number of the crew on board, as we read in another verse (37), was no less than "two hundred, and threescore, and sixteen souls!" And here again ariseth no small subject for instruction to the Lord's people, whose lot, for the

most part, is not unfrequently cast among the carnal and profane. Painful as it is, and sometimes productive of sharp and trying exercises; yet there is much wisdom in the Lord's ordination, who "fixeth the bounds of his people's habitation." When we call to mind the one common fallen nature of all; and if now recovered by grace, to be able to mark the difference between ourselves and such as are still "in darkness, and the shadow of death; " yea, between what we once were, when like them, and what we now are, when "followers of God as dear children;" how will the sweet and affectionate words of the Holy Ghost by the apostle, often come home endeared to the heart: "For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou, that thou didst not receive?" (1 Cor. iv. 7.) Nay, to go one step farther in the spiritual improvement to be made of living in a carnal family, or among graceless relations; and when, like one of old, the heart is constrained to say: "Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, and dwell in the tents of Kedar!" (Psalm cxx.5.) Yet, even here, the Lord sometimes over-rules the very evils of their lives, to our greater good. For when from "day to day," like Lot, "our souls are vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked, and in seeing and hearing their unlawful deeds;" often amidst such scenes, to the redeemed and regenerated child of God, will these endearing expressions of the Lord the Holy Ghost come afresh, to the recollection and comfort of the soul: "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor. vi. 11, 9.)

I pause in this place, to bless the Lord for his mercies to Paul, in his over-ruling the mind of Julius to this courtesy, in allowing him to go on shore, to see his friends at Sidon, and refresh himself. Tyre

and Sidon had been favoured with the Lord's presence during his ministry on earth. (Matt. xv. 21.) And the disciples, which were scattered on account of the persecutions after the death of Stephen, had preached in the same neighbourhood. And Paul himself had been here before. (Acts xxi. 3-6.) It is highly probable that there was now a church formed among them. It must have been a high gratification to the apostle, that the centurion indulged him with this liberty. And is it not reasonable to conclude, that the Lord, of whom it is sublimely said, "He gathereth the wind in his fists, and hath bound the waters in a garment; " directed the ship to this very port, purposely, for this interview of Paul with the Lord's people which were there? And hence, as the Lord guided the winds and the sails; so the Lord influenced the centurion's heart: for there was a needsbe that both Paul and the people at Sidon should have a meeting, and spiritual refreshment together, in that meeting, from the Lord.

But while I bless the Lord for his mercies to Paul, on that occasion; I beseech the reader not to pass away from the review of this part of the apostle's history; until that he hath first looked up for grace,

and examined whether he cannot find somewhat to call forth his praises to the Lord, for many such an interposition from the Lord, in his own. It is of all others the most necessary truth to be impressed on the mind, that the Lord "waters his church every moment, and keeps her night and day, lest any hurt her." (Isa. xxvii. 3.). In a world like the present, where, from the very nature of things, the hatred manifested to our glorious Head must be alike rankling in the heart, if not continually breaking out against all his members; nothing can so effectually tend to bear the child of God up against all opposition from that quarter, as the constant remembrance that the

Lord reigneth! The reins of government of men's hearts, are in his Almighty hands; and their arms he restrains: yea, and as he said himself to a furious oppressor of old, who vaunted what he would do to the people of God: "I will put my hook," said the Lord, "in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips." (2 Kings xix. 28.) And what can any man do against the Lord's people, as long as the Lord's hook is fixed in their enemy's nostrils; and their lips made everlastingly sore by the curb of the Lord's bridle? Oh! what a fool have I been upon numberless occasions in life, in dreading this man's displeasure, and that man's frown! when, had I done as the prophet did by his servant, (2 Kings vi. 17.) prayed the Lord to open mine eyes; I should have seen the Lord's hook and the Lord's bridle preventing all their prancings. Sweetly that Scripture, if felt and acted upon by faith, husheth all into a calm of constant peace: "Fear ye not their fear, nor be afraid; sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread; and he shall be for a sanctuary." (Isa. viii. 12-14.)

I detain the reader with no farther observation on what is said in those verses, than just to observe the graciousness of the Lord towards his servant, in that of appointing several of Paul's "companions in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ," to be with him in this voyage. That Luke was with him is more than probable, from what we read, 2 Tim. iv. 11. Phil. 24. And Trophimus (Paul told Timothy, in his second Epistle) he left at Miletum sick; which could not have been, had he not been with him when, after the shipwreck, they all landed there. (2 Tim. iv. 20.) Aristarchus is mentioned by some, as being of the company. And this man was much beloved by the apostle, and was his frequent companion. (See Acts xix. 29. and xx. 4.)

And we read of him as Paul's fellow-prisoner. (2 Col. iv. 10.) We know but little of his history; neither of the history of thousands, whose names are in the book of life. But what a gathering will that be, when the whole, as satellites round the sun, shall be formed in one vast assembly, encircling the person of our most glorious Christ; " when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe!" (2 Thess. i. 10.)

HOLY SCRIPTURE.

"Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,

"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.

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

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

"And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.

"But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.

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And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive,

"And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:

"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." (Acts xxvii. 9—17.)

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