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For, for into, A.V.; to a centurion named Julius of the Augustan band for unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band, A.V. That we should sail. Observe the "we," denoting that Luke was of the party. Connecting it with the "we" of Acts 21:17, the inference is obvious that Luke was with Paul through the whole of these two eventful years, and that it is to this presence that we owe the detailed circumstantial narrative of Acts 21-28., as well as, perhaps, the composition of St. Luke's Gospel, for which the two years at Caesarea afforded an admirable opportunity. The Augustan band; or, cohort (σπεῖρα); as Acts 10:1 (where see note). This σπεῖρα Σεβαστή, cohors Augusta, was probably one of the five cohorts stationed at Caesarea, consisting of auxiliary troops (though Alford does not think so). Its name "Augustan" was given, after the analogy of the Augustan legion, just as there was an "Italian band" as well as two or three "Italian legions." It has been conjectured (Kuinoel, in loc.), indeed, that the name may rather be taken flora Sebaste, Samaria, as consisting of Samaritans, seeing that Josephus ('Bell. Jud.,' 2. 12.5) actually mentions a troop of cavalry (καλουμένην Σεβαστηνῶν) called the troop of Sebaste. But the Greek name is Σεβαστηνῶν, not Σεβαστή, which latter designation is not supported by any similar example (Meyer).
Embarking in for entering into, A.V.; which was about to sail unto the places on the coasts of Asia, we put to sea for we launched, meaning to sail by the coast of Asia, A.V. and T.R.; Aristarchus for one Aristarchus, A.V. Adramyttium (now Adramyti, where ships are still built), on the north-western coast of Asia Minor, south of Troas, on the gulf opposite which lies the island of Lesbos, was a place of considerable trade, situated on the great Roman road which connected the Hellespont with Ephesus and Miletus. Which was about to sail; μέλλοντι (not μέλλοντες, as in the T.R.), describing the ship as a coasting-vessel, trading between Adramyttium and other ports on the coast of Asia. She was now on her homeward voyage. Aristarchus. He is first mentioned in Acts 19:29, as a Macedonian, and one of Paul's companions at Ephesus, pro-badly, therefore, the fruit of his first visit to Thessalonica. We find him again with St. Paul on his last journey from Corinth to Asia (Acts 20:4), and we gather from the present notice of him that he kept with him till he arrived at Jerusalem, and followed him to Caesarea. It would appear at first sight, from Colossians 4:10, that he not only stayed with St. Paul during his two years' imprisonment at Rome, but was his "fellow-prisoner," if at least the word συναιχμάλωτος μου is to be taken literally. This, however, is very doubtful, because in the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 16:7) St. Paul calls Andronicus and Junius his "fellow-prisoners," though he was not then in prison himself; and also because, in the Epistle to Philemon (23, 24), he gives this epithet to Epaphras, with the addition ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ("my fellow-prisoner in Christ Jesus"), and does not give it to Aristarchus, who is named in the same sentence as his συνεργός (see Bishop Lightfoot, on Colossians 4:10, and Bishop Ellicott, on ibid.). If συναιχμάλωτος is to be taken of a bodily captivity, nothing is known of the occasion which gave rise to it in the case of any of the persons to whom it is applied.
Treated Paul kindly for courteously entreated Paul, A.V.; leave for liberty, A.V.; and refresh for to refresh, A.V. We touched; κατήχθημεν (as Luke 5:11; Acts 21:3; Acts 28:12) of coming from the sea to land, contrasted with ἀνήχθημεν in Acts 27:2 and Acts 27:4 (ἀναχθέντες) of going out to sea (as Luke 8:22; Acts 13:13; Acts 16:11; Acts 18:21; Acts 21:1, Acts 21:2; and frequently in this chapter). At Sidon; where doubtless there were disciples, as well as at Tyre (Acts 21:4), though there is no special mention of such. Paul was glad to have an opportunity of visiting them while the ship was stopping there to unload, and set down and take up passengers; and Julius, perhaps by the orders of Festus and Agrippa, and also from the influence Paul's character and conduct had on him (comp. Daniel 1:9), courteously gave him leave to land, probably accompanied by a soldier. And refresh himself; literally, to meet with care. Ἐπιμελεία occurs only here in the New Testament, but is found in 1 Mace. Acts 16:14; Acts 2:1-47 Mace. Acts 11:23, and is frequent in Xenophon and other classical writers, by whom it is used with τυχεῖν, as here. Luke also uses the verb ἐπιμελέομαι (Luke 10:34, Luke 10:35); and ἐπιμελῶς (Luke 15:8). It is in very common use among medical writers for the care and attention required by the sick. It is very probable that St. Paul was suffering from his long confinement at Caesarea, and that the ἐπιμελία here mentioned has reference to his invalid state.
Putting to sea (ἀνάχθεντες, see Acts 27:3, note) for when we had launched, A.V.; under the lee of for under, A.V. We sailed under the lee of; ὑπεπλεύσαμεν, only here and Acts 27:7. A nautical term, very rarely met with. The winds were contrary. The wind apparently was westerly, the prevalent wind at that season of the year. Smith ('Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul') quotes Admiral De Saumarez as writing from near Cyprus, "The westerly winds invariably prevail at this season;" and M. De Page, a French navigator, as saying, "The winds from the west which prevail in these places (Cyprus) forced us to run to the north." This is exactly what the ship in which Paul sailed did. Instead of going in a westerly direction, and leaving Cyprus on her right, she turned due north, having Cyprus on her left. It was now late in August.
Across for over, A.V.; which is off for of, A.V. (τὸ κατὰ τὴν Κιλικίαν.). Across the sea. When they got under the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, they found the northerly wind, as M. De Pages did, and that enabled them to take a westerly course to Myra, a seaport in Lycia. The modern Turkish name of Myra is Dembre. (For an account and drawings of the wonderful rock-tombs of Myra, see Fellows's 'Lycia,' Acts 9:1-43.)
For, for into, A.V. He put us therein; ἐνεβίβασεν, only here in the New Testament, and once in the LXX. (Proverbs 4:11). It is a nautical term for embarking men on board ship (Thucydides, Xenophon, Lucian, etc.), and is also used by medical writers for "placing patients in a bath." The corn-vessel (naris frumentaria) from Alexandria to Italy may very probably have been driven out of its direct course by the same contrary winds which forced St. Paul to sail under Cyprus, or commercial objects may have brought it to Lycia, to carry Asiatic merchandize to Rome, in addition to its cargo of Egyptian wheat—possibly "timber from the woody mountains of Lycia".
Were come with difficulty for scarce were come, A.V.; further suffering for suffering, A.V.; under the lee of for under, A.V. Had sailed slowly (βραδυπλοοῦντες, only here). They were evidently sailing near the wind, and would have to tack frequently. They made in many days no more progress (some hundred and thirty miles) than they would have made in twenty-four hours with a favorable wind. With difficulty (μόλις) they could only just manage to do it, the wind not suffering them (μὴ προσεῶντος, here only). When they had with great difficulty got as far as over against Cnidus, on the coast of Carla, the north wind which caught them made it impossible to go further north. Accordingly they struck nearly due south, and bore down upon Crete, and passing Cape Salmone, its eastern extremity, they came along the southern side of the island.
With difficulty coasting along it for hardly passing it, A.V.; we came for came, A.V.; a certain place called for a place which is called, A.V.; Fair for the Fair, A.V. With difficulty coasting along it; παραλεγόμενοι, only here and Acts 27:13. It is a nautical phrase, meaning to sail alongside of the coast. In Latin legere has the same meaning. The difficulty arose from their being under the lee of the island, which sheltered them from the north-west wind, but left them without any motive power. However, they managed to get as far as Fair Havens, where they anchored in the roadstead so called, near to an obscure and otherwise unknown town called Lasea, possibly the same as Lasos, mentioned by Pliny as one of the inland cities of Crete ('Nat. Hist.,' 4. 12.20), or as Elaea (ibid.).
And for now, A.V.; the voyage for when sailing, A.V.; gone by for past, A.V. Much time (ἱκανοῦ χρόνου διαγενομένου). The word ἱκανός is very frequently used by St. Luke, both in the Gospel and the Acts, for "much," "many," or "long," but the exact quantity of time, or words, or people, etc., indicated is of course relative to what might reasonably be expected in each case. Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37) drew "much" people after him; the Jews at Damascus conspired to kill Saul after "many" days were fulfilled (Acts 9:23); Paul and Barnabas abode "long time" at Iconium (Acts 14:3); Paul talked a "long" while at Tress (Acts 20:3); and they sailed slowly off the coast of Asia "many" days (verse 7); the length, i.e. the "sufficiency" (ἱκανότης) must depend in each case upon the standard by which it is measured. Here "much time," measured by the common experience of sailing-vessels waiting for a favorable wind, may mean one or two weeks. It is more natural to apply the phrase to the time of their detention at Fair Havens, than, as Meyer and others do, to the time that elapsed since they sailed from Caesarea. The voyage was now dangerous (τοῦ πλοός, a late form for the older πλοῦ). Dangerous; ἐπισφαλοῦς,, only here in the New Testament, and in Wis. 9:14; also occasionally in classical authors, but very frequently in medical writers. The Fast. The great Jewish fast on the Day of Atonement, in the month Tisri, which fell this year on September 24 (Lewin and Farrar), probably while they were at Fair Havens. The Jews considered navigation unsafe between the Feast of Tabernacles (five days after the Day of Atonement) and the Feast of Pentecost. It became, therefore, a very serious question what they were to do. Fair Havens was an inconvenient anchorage for the winter, and not near any large town. On the other hand, if they passed beyond the shelter of Cape Matala, which lay a few miles to the east, and where the coast of Crete suddenly trends due north, they would be exposed to the violence of the Eterian westerly wind. They called St. Paul into their counsels. Admonished them; παρήνει, only here and verse 22. In classical Greek used especially of advice given by a speaker in a public speech. In medical writers it expresses the advice given by a physician to his patient.
The, for this, A.V.; injury for hurt, A.V.; loss for damage, A.V.; the ship for ship, A.V. Sirs, I perceive; etc. St. Paul's opinion and reasons are evidently not fully given; only the result, that he strongly advised against the course to which they were inclined, and foretold disaster as likely to ensue from it. I perceive (θεωρῷ), as John 4:19; John 12:19; Acts 17:22. In all these places something actually seen or heard leads to the inference or conclusion stated. So here the angry state of the weather and of the sea—perhaps they had walked as far as Cape Matala, and seen the rough waves—convinced him of the rashness of the enterprise contemplated. Injury (ὕβρεως, and at Acts 17:21); literally, violence, rough usage—properly of persons to persons (as 2 Corinthians 12:10), but metaphorically here transferred to inanimate objects. Compare the use of ὑβρίζω (Matthew 22:6; Luke 18:32; Acts 14:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:2), and the phrases ναυσίστονον ὕβριν (Pindar), θαλάττης ὕβριν (Anthol.), ὀμβρῶν ὕβρις (Josephus), quoted in Kninoel and Meyer. Meyer's explanation of ὕβρις, as meaning "presumption" or "temerity" on the part of the navigators, is quite inadmissible, especially in view of Acts 17:21. Also of our lives. Observe the thorough honesty of the historian who thus records the words of the apostle, though they were not justified by the event (Acts 17:22, Acts 17:24).
But for nevertheless, A.V.; gave more heed to for believed, A.V.; to the owner for the owner, A.V.; than to for more than, A.V. The master (κυβερνήτης), in the sense of "a commander of a trading-ship" (Johnson's 'Dictionary'); i.e. the navigator and helmsman, in Latin magister naris. The owner (ναύκληρος). The owner, no doubt, of the cargo as well as of the ship itself: ὁ δεσπότης (Hesych.); οἱ ναῦς κεκτημένοι (Ammonius). The κυβερνήτης and the ναύκληρος are often mentioned together; e.g. in Plutarch, Artemidorus, quoted by Alford, Kuinoel, etc.
Put to sea from thence for depart thence also, A.V. and T.R.; could reach Phoenix for might attain to Phenice, A.V.; winter there for there to winter, A.V.; a haven for an haven, A.V.; looking north-east and south-east for and lieth toward the south-west and north-west, A.V. Not commodious; ἀνευθέτου (not well placed, or disposed), only here. But the simple εὔθετος is used twice by St. Luke (Luke 9:62; Luke 14:35), in the sense of "fit" (also Hebrews 6:7), and is of frequent use in medical writers, for "convenient," "well adapted to," and the like. To put to sea (αναχθῆναι); see verse 3, note. Reach; καταντῆσαι, only in the Acts (frequently) and in St. Paul's Epistles. It is generally, if not always, used of coming from the higher to the lower place, and from the sea to the land (see Acts 16:1; Acts 18:19, Acts 18:24; Acts 20:15; Acts 21:7; Acts 28:13, etc.). Phoenix. It is variously written Phoenicus, Phoenice, and Phoenix; and probably derived its name from the palm tree, (φοῖνιξ), which is indigenous in Crete. It is identified with almost certainty with the modern Lutro or Loutro, which is both "an admirable harbor," situated exactly where Phoenice ought to be, and further by its proximity to a village called Aradhene, and another called Anopolis, shown to be the same as. Phoenix, or Phenice, which is described m ancient writers (Hierocles and Stephanus of Byzantium) as identical with or close to Aradhena and Anopolls (the upper city). Winter; παραχειμάσαι, so too Act 28:11; 1 Corinthians 16:6; Titus 3:12, and παραχειμασία in this verse. It is found also in classical writers. Looking north-east and south-east. The margin of the R.V. has "Greek, down the southwest wind, and down the north-west." This phrase has caused considerable perplexity to commentators. To say, as a recommendation of a harbor for winter quarters, that it lies or looks toward the south-west and north-west, and consequently is exposed to the most furious winter storms, is obviously impossible. If Phoenix was open to the south-west and the north-west, it would not be as commodius a place to winter in as Fair Havens was which was sheltered by Cape Matala. Two methods, therefore, have been adopted of explaining the phrase so as to make it give a reasonable sense. One, that adopted by Dean Howson and Bishop Wordsworth, viz. that it looks southwest and north-west, from the point of view of the sailor, or any one approaching it from the sea, the object upon which it looks being the land which locks it in and shelters it. The other is that supported by Alford, and adopted by the R.V., and rests upon the observation that λίβς and χῶρος are not points or' the compass, but the names of the south-west and north-west winds, and that to look down (κατά) a wind is the same as looking down a stream. If the harbour looks down the south-west wind it looks toward the north-east, and if it looks down the north-west wind it looks toward the southeast. Its open side would be from northeast to south-east, it would be entirely sheltered on the south-west and north-west side. This is the explanation adopted also by Dean Plumptre. The south-west wind; λίψ, only here in the New Testament, but frequent in classical Greek and in the LXX.. As a point of the compass, it is the rendering of בגֶןֶ (Genesis 13:14, etc.), נמָיתֵ (Numbers 2:10, etc.), of מוֹרדָ (Deuteronomy 33:23). The north-west wind; χῶρος (the Latin Caurus or Corus), only here in the New Testament, and not found in Greek writers.
They weighed anchor and for loosing thence, they, A.V.; along Crete, close in shore for close by Crete, A.V. Blew softly; ὑποπνεύσαντος, only hero in the New Testament, and not found elsewhere. Supposing that they had obtained their purpose. A south wind would be quite favorable for sailing east or east by north, from Fair Havens to Phoenix. They not unreasonably, therefore, thought they could effect their purpose of wintering at Phoenix. And so they at once weighed anchor; ἄραντες, without an objective case following, "having lifted up," understand τὰς ἀγκύρας, as in Julius Pollux, quoted by Smith. It was the nautical phrase. Sailed along (παρελέγοντο); see Acts 27:8, note. Close in shore (ἇσσον, comparative of ἄγχι, nearer, meaning "very near "). For the earlier part of their voyage they would be obliged to keep very near the shore, to enable them to weather Cape Matala, which lay a little to the south of west from Fair Havens. Some take ἇσσον as the name of a town on the coast, but the grammar of the sentence makes this impossible.
After no long time for not long after, A.V.; beat down from for arose against, A.V.; which is called Euraquilo for called Euroclydon, A.V. and T.B. There beat down from it (ἔβαλε κατ αὐτῆς). The meaning of this somewhat difficult phrase clearly is that given by Alford and Howson, and, on second thoughts, by Smith, viz. that a violent squall from the north-east beat down the heights and through the valleys of the island, becoming more violent when they had passed Cape Matala, and compelled them to alter their course, and run south-west before the wind towards the island of Clauda; ἔβαλεν in a neuter sense, "struck," or "beat," or "fell," as in Homer (see Liddell and Scott). Κατ αὐτῆς. Farrar thinks it "certain" that the right rendering is "against her," viz. the ship, because ἔβαλεν could not be used with nothing to follow it," 1.e. he thinks you must say ἔβαλεν κατὰ something. But as πλοῖον is the word used for the ship, not ναῦς, it seems very difficult to suppose that Luke could say αὐτῆς, and not αὐτοῦ. It is better, therefore, to refer ἀὐτῆς to Κρήτη, and either to understand it "down it," like κατ Οὐλύμποιο καρήνων, "down the heights of Olympus;" κατὰ πέτρης, "down the rock," etc., or simply "against it," as in the A.V., which obviates Dr. Farrar's objection. If taken in the sense of "down" there is the same idea of a squall "rushing down" from the hills into the lake, in Luke 8:23; and again in Luke 8:33 of the same chapter St. Luke tells us how the swine rushed κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ, "down the steep," into the lake. A tempestuous wind; ἄνεμος τυφωνικός, only here, and not found in Greek writers; but the substantive τυφώς τυφῶνος, is common for a "furious storm" or "whirlwind." Euraquilo. Compounded—after the analogy of Euronotus, the south-east wind—of Eurus, the east wind, and Aquilo, the north wind, both Latin words (like Corns, in verse 12), though Eurus is also Greek. This reading of the R.T. is supported by the Vulgate, and by "Lachmann, Bornemann, Ewald, J. Smith, Hackett, Bentley, Olshausen, after Erasmus, Grotius, Mill, Bengel, and others" (Meyer), and by Wordsworth, Alford, Liddell and Scott, Factor. On the other hand, Meyer, Tischendorf, Dean Howson, and others support the reading of the T.R. Εὐροκλύδων, and Lewis is doubtful. The derivation of Euroelydon would be from Εὗρος, and κλύδων, a wave. Whatever its name was, it must have been a north-easter. Psalms 107:25 naturally arises to one's remembrance, with its fine description of a storm at sea.
Face the wind for bear up into the wind, A.V.; gave way to it, and were driven for let her drive, A.V. Was caught; συναρπασθέντος, only here in this sense of being caught and carried away by the gale, but used in three other places by St. Luke (and only by him), viz. Luke 8:29; Acts 6:12; Acts 19:29. It is found more than once in the LXX., and is common in classical Greek. Sophocles uses it of a storm which carries everything away, Πάντα ξυναρπάσας θύελλ ὅπως. Face; ἀντοφθαλμεῖν, only here in the New Testament; but in Polybius and elsewhere it is said or' looking any one in the face with defiance. And so Wis. 12:14; Ecclesiasticus 19:5 (Complut. Edit.), ἀντοφθαλμῶν ἡδονᾶις, "resisteth pleasures," A.V. Compare the phrase, "looked one another in the face" (2Ki 14:8, 2 Kings 14:11, ὤφθησαν προσώποις). Hence here it means simply "resist," or "stand against," or, as well rendered in the R.V., "face." Gave way to it, etc.; ἐπιδόντες ἐφερόμεθα, a rather obscure phrase, but best explained "giving her" (the ship) to the wind, "we were carried" rapidly before it. Ἑπιδίδωμι, is to give, to give up, to give into any one's hand (Luke 4:17; Acts 15:30). ἐπιδόντες is opposed to ἀντοφθαλμεῖν, giving up to, abandoning her to, as opposed to resisting. Ἐφερόμεθα, we were hurried along before the wind, without will or choice of our own (as verse 17). Common in Homer and other classical writers, for being borne along by wind, or waves, or storm, etc. (For the application of φέρομαι in the middle voice to a wind, see Acts 2:2.)
Under the lee of for under, A.V.; small for certain, A.V. (νήσιον); called Cauda for which is called Clauda, A.V. and T.R; were able, with difficulty, to secure for had much work to come by, A.V. Running under the lee of; ὑποδραμόντες, only here in the New Testament, but common in classical Greek for "running under" or "between." (For the use of ὑπό in compound in the sense of "under the lee of," see Acts 27:7.) Cauda, or Caudos, as it is called by Pomp. Mela (2. 7)and Pliny ('Nat. Hist.,' 4. 12. 20), the modern Gozzo. Ptolemy (Acts 3:7) calls it Claudus. The manuscripts greatly vary. Clauda, or Cauda, was about twenty-three miles south-west of Crete. With difficulty (μόλις, as in Acts 27:7, Acts 27:8). To secure the boat. The boat was doubtless being towed astern. But in the violence of the storm, there was a danger every moment of her being parted from the ship by the snapping of the hawser, or by being broken by the waves, and it was impossible to take her up. Under the lee of the little island, however, the sea was somewhat quieter; and so after greater efforts they secured the boat, and, as it is said in the next verse, "hoisted it up" on to the deck.
And when they had hoisted it up for which when they had taken up, A.V.; be cast upon the Syrtis for fall into the quick-sands, A.V.; they lowered the gear for strake sail, A.V. Helps; βοηθείαις, in the New Testament only here and Hebrews 4:16; but frequent in medical language, for "bandages, "ligaments," "muscles," and all kinds of supports both artificial and natural, and generally to medical aid. Undergirding the ship; ὑποζωννύντες, only here in the Bible; but found, as well as its derivative ὑπόζωμα, in classical Greek, in the same sense as it has here. In medical language it is used of certain membranes which "under gird" and so strengthen and hold together certain parts of the human body, and specially was applied to the πλευρά. As regards the nautical sense in which St. Luke here uses the word, Dean Howson, in his excellent chapter (23.) on the 'Navigation and Ships of the Ancients,' writes as follows:—"In consequence of the extreme danger to which the ships of the ancients were exposed from leaking, it was customary to take to sea, as part of their ordinary gear, ὑποζώματα, undergirders, which were simply ropes for passing round the hull of the ship, and thus preventing the planks from starting;" and he adds in a note that "within the last twenty years marble tables had been dug up in the Piraeus, containing a list of Athenian ships and an inventory of their tackle, and that they all carried, as part of their "hanging gear," ὑποζώματα. Another great ship described by Athenaeus carried twelve such. The operation of undergirding is still occasionally performed, and is called by seamen "frapping." The German word is umgurten (Howson). Among ether recent examples the Albion was frapped with iron chains after the battle of Navarino. Cast upon the Syrtis. The wind was driving them straight toward the Syrtis Major, "the Goodwin Sands of the Mediterranean" (Farrar), and another twenty-four hours of such a gale might bring them there. The Syrtis Major was a wide gulf off the northern coast of Africa, now the Gulf of Sidra, lying between Tunis and Tripoli, considered very dangerous from its rocks and shoals. Be east upon (ἐκπέσωσι). The verb ἐκπίπτειν is the classical word (Homer, Herodotus, Euripides) for being driven or thrown ashore, and is used in this sense in verses 26, 29 of this chapter, and in a slightly different sense in verse 32. They lowered the gear (χαλάσαντες). Σκεῦος is a very common word, variously rendered "goods," "stuff," "vessel," according to the material to which it is applied (Matthew 12:29; Luke 8:16; Luke 17:31, etc.). In the LXX. it is used of agricultural implements (1 Samuel 13:20, 1 Samuel 13:21), of weapons of hunting (Genesis 27:3), of household furniture (Genesis 31:37), weapons of war (Deuteronomy 1:41), instruments of music (2 Chronicles 5:13). This is the only passage in the Bible where it is used in its technical sense as a nautical term. In classical Greek, when applied generally to ships, it means the whole tackling, sails, ropes, yards, stores, engines, etc. The meaning, of course, is narrowed when applied to some particular part of the ship. Here, on the whole, it seems to mean the "great yard," or, if that had been already lowered, the heavy "head-gear," ropes, pulleys, and the like, which, under the circumstances, would contribute to make the ship roll and be unsteady. The word rendered "lowered" is χάλασαι. It is rendered "let down" in Mark 2:4; Luke 5:4, Luke 5:5; Acts 9:25; 2 Corinthians 11:33; and 2 Corinthians 11:30 of this chapter (A.V.). In the R.V. it is sometimes rendered "let down" and sometimes "lowered." In the LXX. it is used in the sense of "spreading" a sail (Isaiah 33:23), which would be equivalent to "let down," if the sails were reefed at the top of the mast; and of "letting down" (Jeremiah 38:6). The R.V., therefore, is correct. The object of what they did was to enable the ship to go as near the wind as possible, and with as little straining and rolling as possible. The operation is called by sailors "lying to." Were driven (see 2 Corinthians 11:15).
As we labored exceedingly for being exceedingly tossed, A.V.; the storm for a tempest, A.V.; began to throw the freight overboard for lightened the ship, A.V. Labored; χειμαζουμένων, only here in the New Testament; but used by Plato, Thucydides, Diodorus Siculus, Josephus, and others, and especially by medical writers. It is the passive voice, and this is best expressed by the A.V. "tossed." They began to throw, etc. The phrase ἐκβολὴν ἐποιοῦντο is one of the technical phrases for taking a cargo out of a ship, given by Julius Pollux; ἐκβολὴν ποιήσασθαι τῶν φορτίων (Alford, from Smith). It is also the phrase of the LXX. in Jonah 1:5, Ἐκβολὴν ἐποιήσαντο τῶν σκευῶν τῶν ἐν τῶ πλοίω. They began to expresses the imperfect. It is inferred from this, and the subsequent statement (verse 19) as to throwing overboard the tackling of the ship, that, in spite of the undergirding, the ship was leaking, and therefore heavy with water, and in danger of going down (comp. Jonah 1:5). The freight here mentioned may have been heavy packages of merchandise other than the main cargo of wheat (see Jonah 1:6, note).
They for we, A.V. and T.R.; their for our, A.V. The third day after leaving Clanda. The leak doubtless con-tinned, and there was more water in the ship. With their (or, our) own hands; αὐτόχειρες, only here in the Bible, but frequent in classical Greek. The word seems to mark that the sacrifice was very great, implying a very pressing danger. The tackling (τὴν σκευήν). There is great difference of opinion as to what the σκευή means here. Smith thinks the main spar is meant, "the huge mainyard," and Farrar adopts his view, which he thinks is strengthened by the use of the aorist ἐρρίψαμεν (for he adopts the T.R.), implying one single act, and showing, by the use of the first person, that it was the act of the whole crew united. Alford thinks that it means all the furniture, beds, and movables of all kinds, and so Wordsworth and Meyer. Wetstein explains it of the passengers' baggage. Howson thinks it unlikely they would have thrown away a great spar which would have supported twenty or thirty men in the water in the event of the ship foundering. Schleusner renders it "apparatus quo navis erat instructa." Σκευή is not used elsewhere in the New Testament, and it is difficult to speak decisively. But the addition of τοῦ πλοίου, and the general use of σκευή in classical Greek favors the interpretation "the ship's furniture" ("meubles et ustensiles," Renan).
Shone upon us for many days for in many days appeared, A.V.; now for then, A.V. Neither sun nor stars, etc. This is mentioned, not only as a feature of the severity and length of the easterly gale (for the wind had shifted two or three points to the east), but specially because in the navigation of that time, before the invention of the compass, the sun, moon, and stars were the only things they had to steer by, or by which they could know the direction in which they were drifting. Shone upon us (ἐπιφαινόντων); showed themselves; i.e. "appeared,'' as in the A.V., which is the best rendering (romp. ἐπιφανεία, the appearance, or Epiphany). Now. Λοιπόν τοόν, and τοῦ λοιποῦ are used adverbially both in the New Testament and in classical Greek. It is sometimes rendered "now," i.e. for the time that remains; and sometimes "henceforth;" sometimes "finally" (Mark 14:41; 2Ti 4:8; 2 Corinthians 13:11, etc.). It seems that sometimes χρόνον is to be understood, and sometimes that it means "as for what remaineth" to be said or done (romp. the French du reste or au reste).
And when they had been long without food for but after long abstinence, A.V. and T.R.; then Paul for Paul, A.V.; set sail for loosed, A.V.; and gotten for to have gained, A.V.; injury for harm, A.V. Long without food (πολλῆς ἀσιτίας ὑπαρχούσης). Ἀσιτία is only found here in the Bible; but it was the common medical term for loss of the appetite, and such is the most natural rendering here. There is nothing about "long abstinence" in the text, nor does the verb ὑπαρχούσης admit of being translated "when they had been." It describes a present condition. The literal rendering is, when there was a great (or, general) loss of appetite among the crew. The terror, the discomfort, the sea-sickness, the constant pressure of danger and labor, the difficulty of cooking, the unpalatableness of the food, combined to take away relish of their food, and they were becoming weak for want of nourishment. Have gotten (κερδῆσαι). Schleusner, Bengel, Meyer, Alford, and the 'Speaker's Commentary' explain this as equivalent to "have avoided," or "have escaped," and quote Josephus ('Ant. Jud,' 2. 3.2), Τὸ μιανθῆναι τὰς χεῖρας κερδαίνειν, "To avoid staining their hands;" and ' Bell. Jud.,' 2. 16.4 (towards the close of Agrippa's speech), Τῆς ἥττης ὄνειδος κερδήσετε," You will gain (i.e. avoid) the disgrace of defeat," like the use in Latin of lucrifacere. But it is simpler on the whole to understand it in the sense of "getting" as the fruit of your own conduct. We should say in English, "What have yon gained by this? Nothing but loss and shame." Compare too the phrase Τὰ ὀψώνια τῆς ἀμαρτίας θάνατος (Romans 6:23). So Liddell and Scott give us one use of κερδαίνειν, to gain a loss, 1.e. reap disadvantage, and quote from Euripides, 'Hecuba,' 1. 518 (516, Scholefield), διπλᾶ δάκρυα κερδᾶναι, "to gain double weeping." Injury (ὕβριν); see Acts 27:10, note. In the A.V. "to have gained" observe the same idiom as in Acts 27:10, "and there to winter."
Life for any man's life, A.V.; but only for but, A.V, I exhort you to be of good cheer. Mr. Hobart remarks that this "has all the look of a doctor's expression, παραινεῖν being the term for a physician giving his advice," and "εὔθυμος εὐθυμεῖν, and εὔθυμως being used in medical language in reference to the sick keeping up their spirits, as opposed to ἀθυμία and δυσθυμυία" (see Acts 27:25, note). Loss; ἀποβολή, only here and Romans 11:15; but found in Plato, Aristotle, Josephus, Plutarch, etc. Mark how the message of mercy and love follows the chastisement and its fruit of self-humiliation. In their prosperity and self-confidence they rejected Paul's word at Fair Havens; they listen to it at death's door.
An angel of the God whose I am, whom also for the angel of God, whose I am, and whom, A.V. and T.R. Observe Paul's open confession of God before tile heathen crew.
Stand for be brought, A.V.; granted for given, A.V. Stand; παραστῆναι, the proper word for standing before a judge; comp. Romans 14:10, Πάντες παραστησόμεθα τῷ βήματι τοῦ Χριστοῦ: and in the subscription to the Second Epistle to Timothy it is said that it was written "when Paul was brought before Nero the second time" (Greek, ὅτε ἐκ δευτέρου παρέστη Παῦλος τῷ Καίσαρι). God hath granted, etc. Doubtless in answer to his prayers. Compare the opposite statement in Ezekiel 14:14, Ezekiel 14:16, Ezekiel 14:18, Ezekiel 14:20, "Though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered themselves;" and see also Genesis 18:26, Genesis 18:32. Paul's calm courage and kind words, added to the proof they had of his prescient wisdom, were well calculated to inspire the crew with a reverential trust in him, and to rekindle their extinguished hope.
Even so for even, A.V.; hath been spoken unto me for was told me, A.V. Be of good cheer; εὐθυμεῖτε, as Acts 27:22; elsewhere only James 5:13, but we have εὔθυμος verse 36 and Acts 24:10; common in classical Greek and in medical language (see Acts 24:22, note). Note how the servant of God has the light of hope and trust in the darkest night of danger and suffering (Psalms 112:4, Psalms 112:7; Psalms 46:1-3). It shall be even so, etc. Compare for the lesson of faith in God's promise, Luke 1:45, "There shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord." "Lord, increase our faith."
We must be east, etc. (ἐκπεσεῖν, Acts 27:17, note). Here St. Paul speaks distinctly by revelation, probably what was told him by the angel. We can see the same purpose here as in all miracles and prophetic utterances, viz. to give God's credentials to his ambassador as speaking in his Name and by his authority (John 20:31).
To and fro for up and down, A.V.; the sea of Adria for Adria, A.V.; sailors for shipmen, A.V.; surmised for deemed, A.V.; were drawing for drew, A.V. The fourteenth night, reckoned from their leaving Fair Havens (so Acts 27:18, Acts 27:19). Driven to and fro (διαφερομένων); it is rather carried across, or along, from one end to the other. Sea of Adria. Adria, as in the A.V., is scarcely correct, as a translation of the Greek (though the Latins did call it Adria), because the nominative case in Greek is ὁ Ἀδρίας, sc. κόλπος, Adrias, the Adriatic Gulf. Ἀδρία is the name of the town near the mouth of the Po, which gave its name to the Adriatic. As regards the use of term ὁ Ἀδρίας, the Adriatic, it is used in two ways: sometimes strictly of the Gulf of Venice, the Adriatic; sometimes, chiefly in latter writers, in a much wider sense, of the whole sea between Greece and Italy, including Sicily. This last is its use here. So, too, Josephus says that he was wrecked κατὰ μέσον τὸν Ἀδρίαν, in the midst of the Adriatic, on his voyage from Caesarea to Puteoli, and was picked up by a ship from Cyrene. This implies that he used the word "Adria" in the same sense as St. Luke does. Surmised that they were drawing near. Probably from hearing the waves breaking upon the Point of Koura, east of St. Paul's Bay. Υπονορω is only found in the Acts (Acts 13:25; Acts 25:18; and here); but it is used three or four times in the LXX. (Daniel, Job, Judith, Sirach), and is common in classical Greek in the sense of to "suspect, conjecture," "guess at" anything (see ὑπονοία, 1 Timothy 6:4). Were drawing near, etc.; literally, that some country (or, land) was drawing near to them. In like manner, the land is said ἀναχωρεῖν, to recede, as the vessel gets out to sea.
They sounded for sounded, A.V.; found for found it, A.V. (twice); after a little space for when they had gone a little further, A.V. After a little space (βραχὺ διαστήσαντες); literally, having interposed a short interval of time or space (comp. Luke 22:58, Luke 22:59, μετὰ βραχύ κ.τ.λ., and then follows διαστάσης ὡσὲι ὥρας μιᾶς "after an interval of about an hour").
And for then, A.V.; lest haply for lest, A.V.; be cast ashore on rocky ground for have fallen upon rocks, A.V.; let go for east, A.V.; from for out of, A.V. Cast ashore (see Acts 27:17, note). Rocky ground (τραχεῖς τόπους); Luke 3:5. The region of Trachonitis was so called from the rocky nature of the country—ἄκτη τραχεῖα, a rocky shore, Four anchors, "Naves quaternis anchoris destinabat no fluctibus moveretur" (Caesar, 'De Bell. Cir.,' 1.25). From the stern. Anchors are usually dropped from the bow, but under certain circumstances ships anchor from the stern. The British navy so anchored at the battles of the Nile, Algiers, and Copenhagen, and it is a earn-men practice of the Levantine caiques at the present day; and an ancient picture of a ship (at Herculaneum) distinctly represents "hawse-holes aft to fit them for anchoring by the stern." They did so in the present case, to obviate the danger of the ship swinging round and getting into breakers, and also that she might be in the best position for running on to the beach as soon as daylight came.
Sailors for shipmen, A.V.; seeking for about, A.V.; and had lowered for when they had let down, A.V.; lay out for have east, A.V.; from for out of, A.V. Had lowered (χαλάσαντες, see Acts 27:17, note). The sailors thought the only chance of safety was to get into the boat and run ashore on the beach. They pretended, therefore, that they wished to let down more anchors from the bow; and let down the boat, as if with that intention, being prepared to jump in and make for the shore, leaving the ship to be wrecked, with all on board her. What a contrast to the conduct of our English crews, who are always the last to quit a sinking vessel!
Paul said. It is remarkable what ascendency Paul had gained during this terrible fortnight. He now penetrated in a moment the design of the selfish sailors, and, with his wonted decision, told the centurion, who was in command of the whole party (Acts 27:11), and who, it is likely, had iris soldiers on deck to preserve order and discipline. Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. The ὑμεῖς is emphatic, you yourselves.
Cut away for cut off, A.V. Fall off (ἐκπεσεῖν, Acts 27:17, note, Acts 27:26, Acts 27:29). The action of the soldiers in cutting the rope and letting the boat loose was very prompt, but rather rash, as the boat might have been useful in landing those on board. But it showed their implicit confidence in Paul's word.
Some food for meat, A.V.; wait and continue for have tarried and continued, A.V. All; including the treacherous sailors whose plot he had just defeated. Having taken nothing; not meaning that they had literally been fourteen days without tasting food, which is impossible; but that they had no regular meals, only snatching a mouthful now and then in the midst of their incessant toil.
Beseech for pray, A.V.; food for meat, A.V.; safety for health, A.V.; a hair for an hair, A.V.; perish for fall, A.V. and T.R. Take; here in the R.T. μεταλαβεῖν instead of προσλαβεῖν of the T.R. Your safety; or, health; i.e. for the preservation of your lives in the impending struggle. Not a hair perish; or, according to the T.R., fall. It is uncertain whether ἀπολεῖται (R.T.) or πεσεῖται (T.R.) is the right reading. The Hebrew proverb, as contained in 1 Samuel 14:11; 1 Kings 1:52, is, "fall to the earth' or "ground:" Εἰ πεσεῖται τριχός (or, ἀπὸ τῆς τριχός or τῶν τριχῶν) τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν (LXX.). In Luke 21:18, it is Θρὶξ ἐκ τῆς κεφαλῆς ὑμῶν οὐ μὴ ἀπόληται (comp. Luke 12:7). Absolute and complete safety is meant. He still speaks as a prophet.
Said this for thus spoken, A.V.; and had taken for he took, A.V.; he gave for and gave, A.V.; the presence of all for presence of them all, A.V.; he brake for when he had broken, A.V.; and began for he began, A.V. Had taken bread, etc. The concurrence of the words λαβὼν ἄρτον ηὐχαρίστησε, κλάσας, which all occur in the institution of the Holy Eucharist (Luke 22:19), is certainly, as Bishop Wordsworth says, remarkable. But there is the same similarity of phrase (except that εὐλόγησε is used for ηὐχαρίστησε in the first passage) in Matthew 14:19 and Matthew 15:36, and therefore the conclusion to be drawn is that St. Paul's action and words were the same as those of our Lord, as far as the breaking bread and giving thanks and eating, went, which were common to both occasions; but in the institution of the sacrament the words "This is my body" were additional, and represented an additional and sacramental truth. Observe, again, the devout confession of the living God in the presence of unbelieving men (Matthew 15:23, Matthew 15:24).
Themselves also took food for they also took some meat, A.V. Of good cheer (εὔθυμοι); see above, Acts 27:22, Acts 27:25, notes.
We were in all, etc. From the number of persons, two hundred and seventy- six, on board the ship it is calculated that she was of more than five hundred ions burden. The ship in which Josephus was wrecked on his way to Rome, under the procuratorship of Felix (κατὰ μέσον τὸν Ἀδρίαν), carried six hundred souls ('Life,' sect. 3). The ship of Alexandria described by Lucian is calculated to have been of above a thousand tons. The mention of the number brings before us a striking picture of so many persons at St. Paul's bidding, in the midst of so great a danger, taking a cheerful and leisurely meal together, in dependence upon a speedy deliverance promised to them in God s Name. It also adds another vivid touch to the picture of the eye-witness of what he relates. Dean Plumptre well suggests that St. Luke very likely counted the crew on the. occasion of their being all assembled together for the first time.
Throwing out for and cast out, A.V. They lightened the ship; ἐκούφισαν, only here in the New Testament; but it is the technical word for lightening a ship so as to keep her afloat. So in Polybius, 1:39, Ἐκρίψαντες ἐκ τῶν πλοίων πάντα τὰ βάρη μόλις ἐκούφισαν τὰς ναῦς: and Jonah 1:5, "They cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them (τοῦ κουφισθῆναι ἀπ αὐτῶν" (see verse 18, note). Κουφίσαι τὴν ναῦν is one of the technical expressions for taking cargo out of a ship, given by Julius Pollux (Smith), The wheat (τὸν σῖτον). There is a difference of opinion as to what St. Luke here means by τὸν σῖτον. Meyer and others think it was merely "the ship's provision," and that, considering the number of persons in the ship, and the little consumption during the last fortnight, the weight of what was left would be considerable. They add that the cargo had been already thrown overboard in verse 18. Others, as Howson, following Smith and Penroso, Farrar, Lewin, and many older commentators, with more reason, understand "the wheat" to mean the ship's cargo from Alexandria to Rome; they think it had been impossible to get at it while the ship was drifting; and that, even had it been possible, it was the last thing they would have recourse to. But now, when it was impossible to save the ship, and the only chance of saving their lives was to run her on the beach, it was an absolute necessity to lighten the ship as much as possible. They therefore cast her freight of Alexandrian corn into the sea, and waited for daylight (see note to verse 18).
Perceived for discovered, A.V.; bay with a beach for creek with a shore, A.V.; and they took counsel whether they could drive the ship upon it for into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship, A.V. They knew not the land. It was seven miles from the harbor of Valetta, and a part of the island not likely to have been visited by the sailors, and presenting no marked features by which they would recognize it. A certain bay with a beach; αἰγιαλόν, a level pebbly or sandy beach (Matthew 13:2; Acts 21:5; and Acts 21:40), as opposed to ἄκτη, a high rugged coast (τρηχεῖα ὑψηλή, etc., Homer). They took counsel whether they could drive, etc. The rendering of the A.V. is surely infinitely better than the R.V. The meaning of βουλεύομαι, both in the New Testament and in classical Greek, is frequently and properly "to determine," "to resolve" or "purpose" (see Acts 5:33; Acts 15:37, note; 2 Corinthians 1:17; and Liddell and Scott's 'Lexicon '); and the order of the words here suits the rendering of the A.V. much better than that of the R.V., which would require καὶ ἐβουλεύοντο, instead of εἰς ὂν κ.τ.λ. The Revisionists seem to have been misled by the resemblance of Luke 14:31. Drive; ἐξῶσαι,, the technical word for driving a ship ashore (Thucyd., Luke 2:10, etc.). It only occurs in the New Testament here, and in a different sense in Acts 7:45. It is not uncommon in the LXX. as the rendering of החָדָּ and הַוּדּ (see Deuteronomy 13:3; 2 Samuel 14:13; Jeremiah 49:36. [LXX., 26.] etc.).
Casting off for when they had taken up, A.V.; they left them in the sea for they committed themselves unto the sea, A.V.; at the same time loosing the bands of the rudders for and loosed the rudder bands, A.V.; hoisting for hoised, A.V.; foresail for mainsail, A.V.; for the beach for toward shore, A.V. This verse, so obscure before, has been made intelligible by the masterly labors of Smith, of Jordan Hill. We will first explain the separate words. Casting off (περιελόντες). The verb περριαιρέω occurs in Acts 27:20; in 2 Corinthians 3:16; and in Hebrews 10:11; and in all those passages is rendered "taken away." So also in the LXX., where it is of frequent use, it means "take away," "put away," "remove," and the like. In classical Greek it means to "take away," "take off," "strip off." Here, then, applied to the anchors which were firmly embedded in the very strong clay at the bottom of the sea off Koura Point, περιελόντες τὰς ἀγκύρας means "putting away" or "casting off" the anchors by cutting the cables which fastened them to the ship, and, as it follows, leaving them in the sea, or, more literally, giving them up, dismissing them into the sea (εἴων εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν); comp. Acts 5:38. Loosing the bands of the rudders. "The ships of the Greeks and Romans, like those of the early Northmen were not steered by a single rudder, but by two paddle-rudders". These paddle-rudders had been hoisted up and lashed, lest they should foul the anchors at the stern. But now, when the free use of them was absolutely necessary to steer the ship toward the beach, they unloosed the lashings, i.e. "the bands of the rudders," and at the same time they hoisted up the foresail. The foresail; τὸν ἀρτέμονα, a word found only here in this sense, but used in Vitruvius for a "pulley," and so explained in Ducange. But artimon was till recently used in Venice and Genoa as the name of the large sail of a vessel. In the Middle Ages artimonium was the "foremast," mat de prone; but it was also used of the foresail," Velum naris breve, quod quia melius levari potest, in summo periculo extenditur" (Ducange). They hoisted the foresail both to give them sufficient way to run on to the beach, and to give precision to their steering. (For a further account of the ἀρτεμών, or foresail, see Smith, of Jordan Hill.)
But lighting upon for and falling taro, A.V.; vessel for ship, A.V.; fore-ship for forepart, A.V.; struck for stuck fast, A.V.; stern for hinder part, A.V.; began to break up for was broken with, A.V. Where two seas met; τόπον διθάλασσον, only here, and in Dion Chrysostomus. The explanation of this "place where two seas met" is as follows:—As the ship stood at anchor in the bay on the north-east side of the island, it would have the Koura Point (Ras el-Kaura) on its left, and on entering deeper into the bay westward, the little island of Salmonetta, or Selmoon, otherwise called Gzeier, would lie on its right, and would appear to be part of the island of Malta, from which it is separated by a narrow channel about a hundred yards in width. When, however, she was just coming upon the beach for which she was making, she would come opposite to this open channel, and the sea from the north would break upon her and meet the sea on the south side of the island, where the ship was. Here, then, they ran the vessel aground. Ἐπώκειλαν, or, according to the R.T., ἐπέκειλαν, is only found here in the Bible; but it is the regular word for running a ship aground, or ashore, in classical writers. Ἐπικέλλω has exactly the same meaning. The simple verbs κἑλλω and ὀκέλλω are also both in use for running a ship to land. The foreship struck; ἐρείσασα, here only in the Bible, but very common in classical Greek. Its meaning here is not very different from its frequent medical meaning of a disease "fixing itself" and "settling" in some particular part of the body. Remained unmovable. "A ship impelled by the force of a gale into a creek with a bottom such as that laid down in Admiral Smyth's chart of St. Paul's Bay, would strike a bottom of mud graduating into tenacious clay, into which the forepart would fix itself and be held fast, whilst the stern was exposed to the force of the waves". Unmovable; ἀσάλεῦτος, only here and Hebrews 12:28, in the Bible; but common in Greek writers in the sense of "firm," "unmovable." Began to break up (ἐλύετο, like solvo and dissolvo in Latin). The planks were loosened and disjoined. By the violence. The R.T. omits the words τῶν κυμάτων, and so has βία alone, somewhat like ὕβρις in Hebrews 12:21.
The soldiers' counsel, etc. The same stern sense of duty in the Roman soldier as moved the keeper of the jail at Philippi to destroy himself when he thought his prisoners had escaped (Acts 16:27). The prisoners; by which we learn, as also in Acts 27:1, that there were other prisoners beside Paul going to be tried before Caesar at Rome (comp. Josephus's account ('Life,' sect. 3) of certain priests, friends of his, who were sent as prisoners to Rome, to be tried). Swim out; ἐκκολυμβάω, only here, but not uncommon in the same sense in classical Greek (see next verse). Escape; διαφύγοι, peculiar to St. Luke here, but it is the common medical word for a narrow escape from Illness.
Desiring for willing, A.V.; stayed for kept, A.V.; overboard, and get first to the land for first into the sea, and get to land, A.V. To save Paul; διασῶσαι, and Acts 27:44 and Acts 28:1, Acts 28:4; a word of very frequent medical use, employed six times by St. Luke, but only twice elsewhere in the New Testament (Matthew 14:26; 1 Peter 3:20). Swim; κοολυμβάω, here only in the Bible; though κολυμβήθρα, properly a swim-ruing-bath, rendered "pool" in the A.V., occurs five times in St. John's Gospel. The verb means "to dive" rather than "to swim." Both the verb and the noun are used frequently in medical language for "swimming in a bath," and ῥίπτειν σεαυτὸν (like ἀπορρίπτειν here) is the phrase for jumping into the bath.
Planks for boards, A.V.; other things from for broken pieces of, A.V.; all escaped (διασωθῆναι) for escaped all, A.V.; the land for land, A.V. Planks; σωνίσιν, only here and in the LXX. of 2 Kings 12:9 (for the "lid" of the box) and So 2 Kings 8:9 (for "boards"); very common in Homer and other Greek writers, for "boards" and "planks" of all kinds. They all escaped. In exact fulfillment of Paul's prediction in 2 Kings 8:22. And thus ended the eventful voyage of about four hundred and eighty miles (as laid down in the charts) from Clauda to the Point of Koura on the north coast of Malta. It is one of the striking proofs of the identity of Melita with Malta, that the rate at which it is calculated that a large ship laying to in a gale would drift in twenty-four hours, viz. thirty-six miles, multiplied by thirteen and a half (the number of days occupied by the voyage), gives four hundred and eighty-six miles as the whole distance. Smith thinks that the coincidence between "the actual bearing of St. Paul's Bay from Clauda, and the direction in which the ship must have driven," with the wind blowing in the quarter we know it did," is, if possible, still more striking".
"The voyage of life" is an expression drawn from the common feeling of men that there is a close analogy between the course of a man's life through the world, from his birth to his grave, and the progress of a ship from port to port. The Christian metaphor of the ark of Christ's Church, tossed upon the waves of this troublesome world, yet finally reaching the land of everlasting life, is no lass familiar to us. It may not be without instruction to note some of the points of resemblance in a Christian's life to the apostle's voyage as described in the narrative before us. First, there is in both a definite purpose. The ship is making for a particular pert; the Christian is definitely seeking to attain the kingdom of heaven. But many a life would be far more useful, and far more consistent, if this purpose were more condensed. We are often too much distracted by the episodes in our life. The passing circumstances, the shifting situations, the immediate surroundings of the day, bound our horizon, and the intermediate seems to us as the final, or at least shuts the final out from view. The lesson is, keep steadily in view, in sunshine and in storm, under every variety of outward circumstance, the great end of the Christian life, to dwell with Christ in glory for ever, and bend your unrelaxing efforts to compass this end. Then, again, let us mark in the Christian life, as in the ship's voyage, the conditions of the enterprise. There is the fixed will and purpose, and the wisdom and skill and resolution of the man, on the one hand; but there are also the inevitable hindrances and obstacles, on the other. Changes and chances, vicissitudes and disappointments, obstacles and disturbances, arise unbidden, and often when we least expect them. The pleasant start, the cheering incidents which seemed full of promise for a prosperous future, are succeeded by dull delays and by tedious, disheartening, and disconcerting experiences. We have to deal with events of which we had not taken count. The sanguine hope of a rapid progress is succeeded by the tediousness of delay, and our own counsels are continually thwarted by the folly or incompetence of others of whom we cannot set ourselves free. By-and-by, when we think we see signs of improvement close at hand, things suddenly take a turn for the worse. All the elements of difficulty are multiplied a hundredfold; and our bark, whether freighted with earthly schemes or heavenly hopes, is in imminent danger of shipwreck. Happy is he who at such times lays fast hold of the promises of God, cleaves to the Lord Jesus with a steadfast faith, and perseveres to the end. In spite of delays, and in spite of dangers, he shall not be ashamed of his hope. Only let each alternation work its proper work, teaching patience and long-suffering, encouraging a life of simple faith, stimulating all the energies of the soul, stirring up to active exertion, engendering a calm and dauntless courage, and bringing out every resource of the mind according to the immediate need, and the storms and agitation of the voyage will in due time be exchanged for the peace and safety of the everlasting haven of glory in the presence of the Lord Jesus. Dear reader, be prepared for all; let nothing shake your faith or dim your hope, and then the most troubled voyage shall have a blessed end; and in the last review of the roughest passage your testimony will be, "He hath done all things well."
The escape from shipwreck.
The particular feature in this part of the narrative of the shipwreck to which attention is now invited is the sacrifices by which the final escape was effected. The eighteenth verse finds the whole party on board the ship in an encounter with a furious tempest. We can easily picture to ourselves the sea running high, the vessel crouching as it were before the wind, the waves breaking over the side of the ship, and the water beginning to fill her. At this moment the relative value of things in the mind of the master and crew undergoes a great change. The freight of the ship—so precious in the owner's eyes, acquired at great cost, put on board with much labor, and on which was set the hope of great gains when the vessel should reach the Italian shore—now loses all its value in his eyes. Something more precious is at stake—the ship itself, and the lives of those on board; and so the sacrifice must be made. They throw the freight overboard in order to lighten the ship, that it and all that are in it may not go down to the bottom of the deep. Some relief from the pressing danger seems to have followed this step. For a time the vessel was relieved, and rode more buoyantly upon the troubled waves. But the relief was only temporary. The ship began again to fill with water, and the danger was greater than ever. Some fresh sacrifice must be made if she was to be kept afloat. And so with their own bands they cast all the tackling into the sea (note on Acts 27:19). Things which once seemed necessary to their comfort, things without which the ship could never have started on her way, are now ruthlessly destroyed. They stand in the way of saving something more precious than themselves—the ship and its freight of human life—and so they are cast into the sea. But the needful sacrifices are not yet complete. For eleven more days the ship keeps afloat, though every hour might seem to be her last. But on the fourteenth night a new element of danger appeared. They were close upon a lee shore, and so their only chance of safety was to run her upon the soft beach. But how could this be done? There still remained in her the precious cargo of wheat which she was carrying from Alexandria to Italy. Lightened of this heavy load, there was a hope that she might run upon the beach, so that they might jump out and be saved. And so this sacrifice was made too. They threw out the wheat into the sea, for their lives were more precious than even the golden grain; and they escaped all safe to the land. This account exactly illustrates the Christian's career. There is a time when the things of this world—wealth, or reputation, or the world's friendship, or certain habits and opinions—are of supreme importance in his eyes. By-and-by some conjuncture arises in which he has to choose between them and the salvation of his soul. There is a struggle at first, and an unwillingness to part with them. But as the things of God rise in their immensity before his eyes, and it becomes clear that the sacrifice must be made if he would enter into life, his mind is made up. What things were gain to him, those he counts but loss for Christ, for whom he suffers loss of all things, and counts them but dung that he may win Christ. He makes the calculation, "What shall it profit me, if I gain the whole world and lose my own soul?" and the decision is not uncertain. Thus the Hebrew Christians took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing that they had in heaven a better and enduring substance. Thus Levi at the receipt of custom, at the call of Jesus, left all, and rose up and followed him. But it often happens that the whole sacrifice is not made at once, nor does the necessity for it become apparent at once. Some lighter loss is sustained at first, and the lightened soul moves easier on her spiritual way for a while. But then some new danger arises. This time it is the sacrifice of the man's self, some part as it were of his very being, that has to be made. The right hand has to be cut off, or the right eye plucked out, if he would enter into life. But still the decision is the same. There is nothing that he can give or take in exchange for his soul. The sufferings and losses of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed; and even in those extreme eases where the choice has to be made between life itself on the one hand, and faithfulness to Christ on the other, the true believer falters not. He well knows that the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal; and so he cheerfully lays down his life on earth that he may not make shipwreck of eternity. So the blessed Paul himself was led on from loss to loss, but through loss to eternal gain His legal privileges, his blameless righteousness, his high standing as a Pharisee among Pharisees, his consideration among his equals, his rabbinical learning, his boasted superiority, all fell one by one before the excellency of Christ. Desiring to be the honored benefactor of his race, he found himself the off-scouring of all things, hunted down and persecuted as one not worthy to live. But still his views of Christ's gospel kept enlarging; his conceptions of the blessedness of being in Christ kept brightening; the righteousness of Christ, and the glory of Christ, kept growing in the intensity of their all-absorbing interest, and so he was led on to suffer loss upon loss, and to heap labor upon labor, and to endure affliction upon affliction; till from being the prisoner of the Lord he became the faithful martyr of Jesus Christ, and laid down his very life in sure anticipation of receiving the crown of righteousness at the hand of the righteous Judge, when he should plant his foot in triumph upon the shore of eternal life.
HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON
The voyage of life.
The journey which is described in this twenty-seventh chapter may suggest to us some of the main features of the long voyage of our life.
I. THE VARIETY IS OUR COMPANIONSHIPS. As each passenger on board found himself inseparably associated with a strange admixture of fellow-travelers, so we find ourselves compelled to mingle, more or less closely, with various companions as we and they journey together over the waters of life. There are
(1) those who have a right to command us (the captain);
(2) those in whose power we stand (the soldiers, Acts 27:42);
(3) those who are bound to care for our safety (the sailors), many of whom will selfishly neglect their duty (Acts 27:30);
(4) those who can enlighten, heal, refresh us in spirit or in body (Paul, Luke, Aristarchus);
(5) fellow-sufferers (the prisoners).
II. THE NEED FOR LABOR AND FOR PATIENCE. Not only did the sailors strive strenuously to discharge their nautical duties (Acts 27:7, Acts 27:8, Acts 27:17), but all the passengers worked with all their strength in co-operation with them (Acts 27:16, Acts 27:19). And with what long patience had they to wait, not merely at Fair Haven, "where much time was spent," but also and chiefly when the vessel was drifting before the wind, "when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared" (Acts 27:20), and when riding at anchor, and fearing greatly that they would be forced on the neighboring rocks, they "wished for the day." Labor and patience are the two oars which will bring the boat to shore in the everyday passage of our life.
III. THE CERTAINTY OF HARDSHIP AND PERIL, MORE OR LESS SEVERE. The winds are sure to be contrary, as in the earlier part of this celebrated voyage (Acts 27:4, Acts 27:7, Acts 27:8), and they may be tempestuous, as they were at the latter part (Acts 27:14, Acts 27:18, Acts 27:27). We must reckon upon some adversity, some checks and disappointments, as certain to befall us; we ought to be prepared for calamity and disaster. No human voyager across the sea of life can tell that there is not a very cyclone of misfortune through which he is about to pass.
IV. THE EXCELLENCY OF A REFUGE IS GOD. What an admirable figure does Paul present in this interesting picture! What calmness he shows (Acts 27:21-25)! What comfort he conveys! What strength he affords (Acts 27:33-36)! What ascendency he acquires (Acts 27:43)! It is the prisoner, Paul, who is the central figure there, not the centurion, nor even the captain. If in the emergencies that will arise, in the crises that must occur, on those occasions when the higher virtues and heavenlier graces are demanded, we would show ourselves brave, noble, helpful, truly admirable, let us see to it that we have then—because we seek now—a Friend, a Refuge, a Stay in Almighty God.
V. THE OCCASIONAL DEMAND FOR SACRIFICE. To save life they "lightened the ship" (Acts 27:18); they "cast out the tackling" (Acts 27:19); they "cast out the wheat into the sea" (Acts 27:38). To save moral or spiritual integrity it is well worth while, and sometimes positively necessary, to abandon that which is precious to us as citizens of this present life (Matthew 18:8, Matthew 18:9).
VI. THE POSSIBILITY OF REACHING THE SHORE. (Acts 27:44.) In one way or another they all came "safe to land." We may arrive at the end like the captain who steers into port, his vessel whole, every sail spread to the wind, rich and glad with a prosperous voyage; or we may reach the strand like Paul and his fellow-passengers, on planks and broken pieces of the ship. We may die honored, strong, influential, triumphant; or we may reach our end poor, unregarded, shattered. It is of small account, so that we do reach that blessed shore—so that we are "found in him," the Divine Savior, and pass to his presence and his glory.—C.
We like to think of Paul at Sidon. We are not only glad to know that he had the opportunity of gaining such material provision as would help to mitigate the severities of the long weeks of suffering in store; we like to dwell on that one day's "happy interlude," when, forgetting the imprisonment at Caesarea, and ignorant of the imprisonment at Rome, he spent some hours of spiritual refreshment among his friends. We may dwell upon—
I. THE NEED OF SPIRITUAL REFRESHMENT. Our minds may be comparatively strong; our health may be sound; our spiritual faculties may be capable of very vigorous activity; but the time comes before many months, or perhaps weeks, or even days, when we need recreation and refreshment. The Father "worketh hitherto"—the omnipotent One, he who slumbereth not nor sleepeth, is putting forth untiring activity without cessation. But he is the Infinite One, the everlasting God who fainteth not, neither is weary; and even of him it is said that he "rested from his works." In some sense that was true even of the Supreme. We, with our feebleness and frailty, capable of such small and slight exertion, so soon weary with our work, need frequently recurring rest and refreshment of soul. Not only in mechanical industry or in mental exertion, but in philanthropic activities, and even in religious exercises, we need rest, change, and refreshment.
II. THE JUSTIFICATION OF IT. Can we spare any time from duties so imperative as are ours who are engaged in holy usefulness, for mere recreation? Is it right to be passive, to leave the weapon untouched, the ground untilled, when so much is calling and even crying to be done, when such terrible weeds and thistles are disfiguring the "garden of the Lord"? It is right. We have:
1. The warrant of our Lord himself: "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile" (Mark 6:31); and he himself often retired into the lonely mountain-fold for rest and refreshment of spirit.
2. Apostolic example (Galatians 1:18).
3. The experience of the wise and good of all ages.
4. The argument from necessity. Without it we break down; our spirit and our body are prostrated; the usefulness of our life is cut short. With it we regain strength, heart, and nerve for continued activity and helpfulness.
"Oh, rest awhile, but only for a while;
Life's business presses, and the time is short.
Ease may the weary of reward beguile;
Let not the workman lose what he has wrought.
"Rest for a while, if only for a while;
The strong birds tire, and gladly seek their nest;.
With quiet heart enjoy Heaven's quiet smile:
What strength has he who never takes his rest?"
III. THE SOURCES OF IT. We naturally suggest
(1) relaxation of ordinary effort, of whatever kind it be;
(2) change of scene and of employment. These are the simple and efficacious expedients which we commonly adopt. But beside these, we may mention;
(3) genial and inspiring companionships—the finding out such "friends" as those of our text, and having free, unfettered intercourse with them; and
(4) the solitude which suggests communion with God, that measure of loneliness which, without oppressing us, will send our thoughts first inward and then upward, in quiet meditation and in soothing, sustaining, refreshing prayer.
"Oh, rest awhile, for rest is self-return;
Leave the loud world, and visit thine own breast;.
The meaning of thy labors thou wilt learn.
When thus at peace, with Jesus for thy Guest."
Acts 27:4, Acts 27:8
Endeavor and attainment. The voyage from Sidon to the port of Fair Havens supplies us with an apt illustration of human labor struggling with adverse forces, but ultimately realizing its purpose. For the attainment of our hope, there must ordinarily be—
I. FULL ARRANGEMENT BEFOREHAND. Julius had to convey his prisoners westward: for this purpose he wanted soldiers, a sea-route, vessels that would be making the passage at this time. All this he provided carefully or calculated upon correctly enough (see Acts 27:6). We cannot hope to execute our purpose without a thorough consideration and preparation beforehand. We must always count the cost and provide the means. We may be engaged in God's work, but we must not presume that Providence will interpose to make good our carelessness, our negligence, our want of prevision and provision.
II. PATIENT LABOR. From point to point they made their way; with the winds against them, they at length made Myra (Acts 27:5). "They sailed slowly many days," but they went on towards Cnidus (Acts 27:7). They had much work to pass Salmone (Acts 27:8); but by dint of persevering labor they reached the port. Whether we seek knowledge, material resources, position, influence, or the accomplishment of any great enterprise in philanthropy or religion, we must be prepared for patient labor. We must make our way from point to point, struggling with "contrary winds,"" hardly passing," but managing to make our way beyond this mark and that, finally reaching our goal—exhausted, perhaps, but successful.
III. THE SUBMISSION WHICH PREVAILS. Julius would not have arrived at Fair Havens when he did, had not the captains of the vessels in which he sailed conquered the forces with which they had to contend by a wise submission. The captain of the "ship of Adramyttium" sailed on the other side of Cyprus from that on which he meant to steer, "because the winds were contrary" (Acts 27:4). "The wind not suffering" them, they did not enter Cnidus when they were "off" it (Acts 27:7). We must direct our course, guided by events. We are too feeble to carry our projects through without frequent tacking and changing. We may be resolutely firm in our principle, though we may vary our policy as circumstances may demand. We often find it wise to yield one thing in order to gain another which is not inconsistent with the end in view. We do well to concede small things that we may secure greater ones. If our aim is a pure and noble one, we shall gladly bend to the "contrary winds," if only we may, by taking another course, reach the Fair Havens which we seek. Between one man surrendering principles to gain position or resources for himself, and another man yielding to opposing winds in order to effect a high and beneficent purpose, there lies all the distance between meanness and magnanimity.
IV. READY USE OF FAVORABLE CIRCUMSTANCES. (Acts 27:6.) If we would do good and great things in our day, we must not only use the weapons which are thrust into our hands, but must eagerly and actively seize upon them when they are in reach. The centurion found, on seeking for it, a ship sailing in his direction. Many men are very near to failures in business, in society, in sacred service, because they expect opportunity to seek them out, instead of their looking keenly out for opportunity. Then comes—
V. JOYOUS ATTAINMENT. (Acts 27:8.) We arrive at the Fair Havens, the port of our hope, and the peaceful harbor is the pleasanter to our eye for the toil and the submission we have exercised to gain it.—C.
Disappointment is the strong reaction of the soul where it nurses an eager expectation and fails to secure the object of its hope. The familiar pleasantry which affirms the blessedness of him that expects nothing, is only a pleasantry; it does not contain any other grain of truth than that it is wise not to cherish hopes which are unlikely to be fulfilled, and this is a very simple truism. For—
I. HOPE IS A CONSTANT RESIDENT OF THE HUMAN SOUL. Thou didst make me hope upon my mother's breasts" (Psalms 22:9). Man must hope for that which is beyond him; otherwise he would sink fast and far in the scale of being.
1. We may set our heart on exchanging the insufficient for the satisfactory. That was the case here. The port of Fair Havens was "not commodious to winter in" (Acts 27:12); the sailors could not be satisfied that they were safe until they reached another which lay "toward the south-west and north-west" (Phenice).
2. Or we may desire to pass from the unsuitable to the appropriate; as when he who has left boyhood behind him desires to have the heritage of manhood.
3. Or we may long to move on from the good to the better; as when a man strives to rise to the higher post, to the superior position, to the wider sphere. Such hope is, in the first case, obligatory; in the second, desirable; in the third, allowable. But such is the feebleness of our nature and such the frailty of our efforts that—
II. DISAPPOINTMENT IS OFTEN WAITING UPON HOPE. HOW often does the" south wind blow softly" (Acts 27:13), and we think we "have obtained our purpose," and make ready to enter our "desired haven," when suddenly there arises "a tempestuous wind," and the" ship cannot bear up" (Acts 27:15), and we have to "let her drive" whither she will, but not whither we will! How often does some relentless Euroclydon interpose between us and the fruition of our hope! From childhood to old age, disappointment embitters the cup of life, saddens the spirit of man. It is the little child that fails to receive its coveted toy; it is the boy that does not quite win the prize; it is the young man who nearly secures the post, but is overmatched in the lists; it is the lover who returns with a heavy heart; it is the mother who cannot save the young life from an infant's grave; it is the statesman who is passed by that a favorite may have the portfolio; it is the student, the traveler that does not make the discovery to which he seemed so near;—it is the seeking, striving, yearning human heart that opens to receive and is bitterly disappointed. Of all the evils which fall upon and darken the path of life there is none more common, none more powerful, none more ill to bear. Beneath its blow, how many a heart has bled to death! under its cruel weight, how many who live about us and whose path we cross are compelled to "go softly all their days"! Let us thank God that—
III. THERE IS A REFUGE EVEN FROM DISAPPOINTMENT. The sailors in our text had very little consolation when they could not "obtain their purpose." There was no other harbor for which to make. But when disappointment comes to the human soul in the strife and conflict of life, there is always a resort to which the heart may flee, a haven m which to hide. It can always fall back on either
(1) the sympathy and succor of the unfailing Friend, or
(2) the hope "which maketh not ashamed," "that sure and steadfast hope which entereth within the veil.'—C.
Divine ownership and human service.
I. THE EXTENT OF Tile DIVINE CLAIM. "Whose I am." God's claim upon our service is simply complete; it is impossible to conceive of a tie stronger or more perfect. It rests on:
1. His absolute sovereignty over the universe.
2. His creation of our spirit; the fact that he called us out of nothingness into being, that he conferred on us our spiritual nature and our bodily life.
3. His preservation of us in being.
4. His provision for all oar wants, constant and generous.
5. His fatherly love prompting him to the bestowment of all His gifts, and greatly enhancing their value.
6. His redemption of us by Jesus Christ his Son; in this the last manifestation of Divine goodness, ratifying, multiplying his claim on us beyond all measure. "We are not our own: we are bought with a price;" "Redeemed with the precious blood of Christ." (1 Corinthians 6:19,1Co 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18, 1 Peter 1:19). Resting on such solid ground, God's claim on us is very great. He asks of us that we "yield ourselves unto him;" that we offer ourselves, all that we are and have, to himself and his service, that he may enlarge and employ and bless us. This giving of ourselves unto God, this act of self-surrender by which" living or dying we are the Lord's" (Romans 14:8), involves
(1) the subjection of our will to the will of God;
(2) the opening of our heart to the love of Christ;
(3) the purpose of our soul to spend our lives and powers in His service.
II. THE DIVINE COMMUNICATION. God has been pleased to make some special communications to certain favored individuals of our race. The Apostle Paul was one of these, and this shipwreck through which he passed was one of the occasions on which he sent his angel with a message from his own mind (text). But though the great majority of our race pass through life without such direct and special manifestation, we are all addressed by the Father and Savior of our spirits. God speaks to us:
1. In his Word.
2. By his Son, who is ever saying to each human heart that hears his gospel, "Believe in me;" "Abide in me;" "Follow me;" "Work in my vineyard."
3. By his Holy Spirit, who comes with enlightening, quickening, renewing energy to the individual soul.
III. THE RESPONSE WE SHOULD RENDER.
1. Faith. "I believe God." God
(1) gives us strong and sufficient evidence that it is he who is speaking; and then
(2) asks as to believe unquestioningly what he tells us. He tells us many things of himself and of ourselves, and particularly of our direct relation to himself, which we could not nave divined by our own imagination, which we cannot prove by our own reason, which we are not able to comprehend by our own perceptive powers; but it is reasonable and right that, having the strongest evidence that God is speaking to us, we should accept with creature humility and filial trust what we cannot fathom now, assured that, by believing his Word and acting on our belief, we shall rise to a height where we shall see what is now invisible and understand what is now beyond us. This is only what we have already done in the days of our childhood, on a smaller and earthly plane.
2. Service. "Whom I serve." This service
(1) begins with the grateful and cordial acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of the soul: "This is [to do] the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent" (John 6:29; see 1 John 3:23);
(2) continues through life in the endeavor to please Christ in everything, to adorn his doctrine, to exalt his Name and extend his kingdom;
(3) is consummated in the heavenly service of the future life. Then, there, in very deed and truth, with undimmed and untiring devotion, "his servants shall serve him" (Revelation 22:3).—C.
Acts 27:24, Acts 27:31
The Divine and the human will.
These two verses have an appearance of inconsistency. How, it may be asked, can both be true? If God had given Paul" all them that sailed with him," and this so certainly that the apostle could say without qualification, "There shall be no loss of any man's life" (Acts 27:22), how could the desertion of the shipmen (Acts 27:31) have imperiled the safety of the passengers so that Paul exclaimed, "Except these abide," etc.? The answer to this question is found in the truth that God's promises to his children are always conditional on their obedience to his will. So truly is this the case, and so practically, that it is not only possible we may bring about the non-fulfillment of the Divine promise, but certain that we shall do so, if we do not comply with the conditions which are expressed or understood. We may find—
I. HISTORICAL ILLUSTRATIONS of this principle.
1.Genesis 1:26-31; Genesis 1:26-31 and Genesis 6:5-7. Genesis 6:2.Exodus 3:7-8; Exodus 3:7-8 and Numbers 14:28-34. Numbers 14:3. 2 Samuel 7:12-16 and 1 Kings 11:11-13, with I Kings 1 Kings 12:16.
II. INDIVIDUAL ILLUSTRATIONS OF IT.
1. Our entrance into the kingdom of Christ. We know that it is the will of God that all who hear the gospel should be saved by it (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 33:11). But we also know that those will never enter the kingdom who will not repent and believe (John 3:36; John 5:40; Acts 13:46).
2. Our progress in the Christian race. God wills our sanctification; he has arranged that they who enter into life by faith in Jesus Christ shall grow in grace, in strength, in virtue (1 Thessalonians 4:3; Ephesians 5:26, Eph 5:27; 2 Peter 1:5-8, etc.). But it is certain that if we neglect the means of grace and growth we shall not advance, but recede (John 15:4, John 15:6; Hebrews 10:23-25).
3. Our admission to the heavenly kingdom. God promises his children a place in his eternal home (John 14:2, John 14:3; 2 Timothy 4:8). But the crown of life will only be given to those who are faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10). It is only he that overcometh that will "eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God" (Revelation 2:7), and who will be made "a pillar in the temple … to go no more out" (Revelation 3:12). It is only they who have put out their talents to whom the "Well done" of the Divine Lord wilt be addressed (Matthew 25:14-30). "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest: any of us should seem to come short of it" (Hebrews 4:1).—C.
The shipwreck of the soul.
We are familiar with scenes of shipwreck; the stories read in childhood and the stern facts of later years bring them vividly before our minds. We see the gallant vessel, wall rigged and fitted from stem to stem, sailing forth on her mission of transport or merchandise, moving along under favor-able breezes, seeming likely to make the port where she is due; we see her overtaken by the storm, admitting the water which gains hour by hour upon her, sinking lower and lower, finally going down beneath the waves. But sad as this story is, there is a far more profound and pathetic sadness in the history, only too often to be told, of the shipwreck of a human soul. Bravely setting forth on the voyage of life, hopefully speeding on its course with helpful influences, promising to make its port on the other strand, we see it overtaken by the storm of some mastering temptation or falling into the irresistible current of some adverse spiritual force, and it makes melancholy shipwreck; instead of reaching its Fair Haven, it goes down into the waters of destruction. Some are wrecked in—
I. THEIR RELIGIOUS FAITH. They start on the voyage of life with that one chart in hand which alone can take them safely to their journey's end—the Word of the living God. Then they come into contact with fascinating but unbelieving companions; or they meet with a number of specious but shallow objections; or they look, with foolish and cruel persistency, on the one side of the difficulties, neglecting to pay proportionate attention to the arguments on the other side; and the end is that the vessel of their faith breaks up and at length goes down.
II. THEIR MORAL HABITS. Trained in godly homes, our youths and maidens acquire habits of moral excellency; they enter active life, honest, pure, sober, reverent, prudent. But they encounter those hurtful and deadly influences which, after a while, if not at the first attack, lead them down to dishonesty, to impurity, to intemperance, to profanity, to the pestilent habit of gambling. Usually they "make shipwreck of a good conscience," as the vessel is drawn upon the relentless rocks when it is caught in the strong current from which it cannot escape. Slowly, going further and further in the wrong direction, by every movement getting more at the mercy of the foe, the vessel drifts to destruction.
III. SPIRITUAL LIFE. One of the sad spectacles which we have often to witness is the decline and disappearance of the spiritual life which was in the soul. By degrees—for this loss is commonly gradual—reverence becomes weaker, zeal decays, sacred joy grows dim and dull, habits of devotion are relaxed, the regard for the will of Christ becomes feebler and less effective, until life is really gone, and the soul has become a spiritual wreck. The shipwreck of the soul is:
1. Inexpressibly sad. By how much the spiritual is greater than the material and the destinies of a human soul lager and longer than the fortune of a piece of human handiwork, by so much is the wreck of a soul a more pitiful thing than the loss of the noblest bark that ever foundered on the ocean.
2. Not absolutely final. Sometimes, but very seldom, a sunken vessel is raised, and "ploughs the main" once more; sometimes, but seldom, a soul that has lost faith, virtue, piety, is raised up from the deep, and sails again on its voyage, and attains its port. Let none presume; let none despair.
3. An evil that may always be averted. The mind that is open to the truth which is before it, that keeps clear of the dangers of which it is warned, that uses the spiritual resources which the generous Lord has supplied, will not make shipwreck, but reach, unharmed and safe, the heavenly harbor.—C.
HOMILIES BY E. JOHNSON
The voyage to Italy: an allegory of the Christian's course.
Bunyan wrote an immortal allegory of the Christian course as a journey by land. It may be rewritten as a sea-voyage.
I. THE CHRISTIAN SETS OUT IN STRANGE COMPANY', AND WITH OFTEN UNCONGENIAL SURROUNDINGS. Romans, Macedonians, prisoners, Alexandrians, are Paul's fellow-voyagers (verses 1, 2, 4-8). No seclusion, no picked society nor refined retirement, can be or ought to be the usual lot of the Christian. We cannot go out of the world. In society, among all the diversities of human character, our education and trial must go on, our experience be gained. The greater the variety of men, the more eliciting of our capabilities, the larger scope for doing good.
II. THE CHRISTIAN IS SURE TO MEET WITH FRIENDS. A friend and hospitality is to be found at most ports (verse 3). And love begets love. Captain Julius, another of those fine Roman soldiers who cross the stage of the Christian story, is glad of an excuse to show the kindness of his heart to his prisoner. Oh, let us believe in the human heart; if we speak to it in the tones of love, it will give hack its sweet echo everywhere. Unexpected acts of friendship are revelations of God to us in lonely places and sad hours.
"I fancied he was fled,
And after many a year,
Glowed unexhausted kindliness
Like daily sunrise there."
III. CLOUDY SKIES. (Verses 9-15.) Forebodings of danger are felt as the Christian goes on. Sunny life-seasons, the joys of calm friendship, must give place to dark skies and danger. The changing drama of nature mirrors the story of the human soul. The Christian, taught by experience, becomes prophetic, like Paul. The centurion and the master of the ship may typify that blind obstinacy which will persevere with its designs in the teeth of nature's laws. Nothing fatal occurs without previous warnings. In the natural and in the moral world we constantly come upon effects without visible causes, But the causes exist and are in action. Hence the constant duty of sobriety and watchfulness. The deep lesson of the gospel here illustrated is that we ought not to be taken at unawares.
IV. UNBELIEVING FEAR AND BELIEVING CONFIDENCE. The former in verses 16-20. To save dear life men will cast their treasures as worthless dross into the sea. And when, in spite of all, death seems near and inevitable, nothing is left but despair. But if earthly life itself is well lost for the sake of the immortal soul, hope need not set, but rather rise, like the morning star, above these troubled waves. This contrast is brought out by the behavior of the apostle (verses 21-26). Through the many sunless and starless days and nights, hope shines unquenched within his breast. There are reflections of such times within the horizon of the soul (Isaiah 11:10; Isaiah 63:17). Reason contends with faith; and in struggle with itself the spirit becomes conscious of its power and victory through God. Paul supports himself on a Divine intimation, confirming the promise of the past (Acts 23:1-35. Acts 23:11). The great thing is to be intent upon our work and witness; then comes the sense of security, the faith that no harm can come nigh us until our work be done.
"Too busied with the crowded hour
To fear to live or die."
It will be felt deeply true that—
"On two days it steads not to run from thy grave—
The appointed and the unappointed day;
On the first neither balm nor physician can save,
Nor thee on the second the universe slay."
V. SHIPWRECK AND LANDING. (Verses 39-44.) The day breaks. The face of God appears after the night of weeping and watching. When need is sorest, he is nearest. Yet his light leads to strange and unfamiliar scenes: "They knew not the land." The scenery that unfolds before the soul in the great crises of life or in the hour of death is that of a foreign shore. Death is a great break-up of all our familiar and trusted associations, and great experiences of change in the soul may resemble it in this. Their use is to teach self-reliance—that true self-reliance which identifies God with the truest impulses of the soul. At the moment when all seems lost, all is gained. The foreign and seeming unfriendly shore proves a haven and a home; the restless sea tosses them from its bosom to terra firma, and to a rest. So to the faithful soul do the fears and fancies of the terrified imagination give way to fixed prospects, and we are wrecked in transitory conditions that we may find a footing in the eternal.—J.
The example of Paul in the storm,
I. HIS FIRM FAITH IN HIS GOD, AND THE PEACE OF SOUL THENCE FLOWING, We may compare the picture of the Savior on the lake of Galilee, "Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?"
II. HIS CONSEQUENT CALMNESS AND PRUDENCE IN COUNSEL. He sets aside, with clear presence of mind, mistaken plans (Acts 27:27-32); he encourages dispirited minds (Acts 27:33-38); he acts with the fidelity of a pastor to the souls he feels committed to his care.
III. HIS PROPHETIC POWER. It is seen in warning of danger (Acts 27:10), and exhortation amidst trial. The spirit of the prophet is at home amidst the storms of the world; flits like the petrel above the troubled waves. He has heard of the still small voice; the noise and crash of elemental war cannot shut out the melody of God. He rides upon the waters, directs the storm, furnishes an ark for the faithful in secret. God is our Refuge and Strength; this song was singing throughout in the heart of Paul.
IV. HIS LOVING, THANKFUL, AND HOPEFUL SPIRIT. (Acts 27:34-36.) He breaks bread with the company, gives thanks, and utters the divinest and most successful consolation. A picture again that recalls the scene of the last Supper.—J.
HOMILIES BY R.A. REDFORD
The victory of faith.
"Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer," etc. The position of Paul in the voyage. Though a prisoner, yet really the ruler of the ship. An example of moral influence. The root of his character was neither his intellectual superiority nor the mere moral goodness of his motives, but his consciousness of direct intercourse with God. God had "spoken unto him."
I. TRUE FAITH OVERCOMETH THE WORLD.
1. By bringing in the light of the better world—so foreseeing the end, measuring present circumstances, maintaining physical and moral strength.
2. By lifting up the individual life into the sphere of the Divine purposes. Paul felt that he was living for Christ, and, as an ambassador, must be protected.
3. By cheering the heart with benevolence. "God hath granted thee all them that sail with thee." The sense of a philanthropic value in our own life is wonderfully cheering. We are doing good; what does it signify where we are, and how we are placed? Those around us must bless God for us.
II. THE VICTORIOUS LIFE OF FAITH IS THE ONLY LIFE WORTH LIVING.
1. The shipwreck of worldly confidence. Human wisdom, physical force, political supremacy—all fail. Our temptation in these days to trust in schemes of social remedy. Christianity alone can say, "Be of good cheer."
2. The Christian in the presence of suffering and death. Instances resembling Paul's. Mackenzie in the Pegasus. Then comes the trial of confidence, and what we want is to say, "I believe in God."
3. The ministry of the believer in a perishing, despairing world. Each one able to say to some and somewhere, "Be of good cheer."
4. The prophetic power of Christianity. Not idle dreaming, not fanatical predicting of events, but the certainty of the future brought to bear upon the present. One who can say," I believe that so it shall be," and who can show by his fortitude and cheerfulness that he does believe it, will be as a light in the world's darkness. Such a narrative rebukes the folly of our modern necromancy and soothsaying, and incites us to be true children of the day and of the light.—R.
HOMILIES BY P.C. BARKER
The bad man's extremity, God add the good man's opportunity.
The contents of this chapter are, in some respects, amongst the most striking and instructive for the deeper facts of human life and nature, in all the book.
1. The interplay of human action and of Divine providence, the harmony of human responsibility and Divine purpose, are forcibly illustrated more than once.
2. The moral superiority, the real strength, the solid ground to stand upon, which are the portion of the man with whom the truth of God dwells, in comparison of two hundred and fifty others, though he be the prisoner and they his masters, or at least their own, are most impressively exhibited and vindicated. Supposing that we read rightly, that there were as many as two hundred and seventy-six souls in that tossed boat, we may say that the length of this long chapter shows one man—him the chief prisoner—as the man whose heart fails him not, who revives the hearts of the others, when at all they are revived, and in whom, under God, the hope of all centers. The force of this contrast makes the chapter one of sustained and unique interest, on the one band, and, on the other, strews its path with suggestions of instruction. Though we read nothing positive respecting the state of mind of the personal companions and friends of Paul (the one of whom was the historian of the book, who for that very reason probably modestly abstains from speaking of himself), there is no reason to doubt that they shared the strength and peace and confident faith of Paul himself. In this present passage we may notice these four things in chief.
I. THE FORCIBLE DESCRIPTION OF "MAN'S EXTREMITY."
1. It involves outwardly, in one common condition, the bad and the good.
2. It is day without one sight of the sun, night without the radiance of one star; it is tempest of wind and wave without respite; it is the heart "without hope."
3. It is the strain of long continuance of the same. This scriptural description may be taken to cover pretty well the subject, and brings any one sufficiently face to face with the question whether there be any higher, friendly power able, willing to interpose.
II. THE "PROPER MAN" FOR THE HOUR.
1. He is the man "in chains."
2. He is the man to whom the Roman centurion cannot help showing some consideration (Acts 27:3, Acts 27:11, Acts 27:31, Acts 27:32, Acts 27:43), though he has the care of him for Caesar's judgment-seat.
3. He is a man who knows what is due to himself, and, denying all traffic with the spirit of obsequiousness, holds his own, and dares to say, "You see I was in the right" (Acts 27:10, Acts 27:21).
4. Though he might well have stood off from the rest in the boat, and been excused for doing so easily by them, yet he does not take this course, not play this part. He throws himself and lot in with them and theirs.
5. He is the preacher of comfort and of courage, and the confident prophet of hope and safety, but tells the bad also with the good (Acts 27:26).
6. He is the genuine religious man, not "ashamed of Christ," and plainly tells the source of his own confidence and of the firm language he holds to his congregation of the boat, for all that he may be called or thought fanatical.
III. THE GOD WHO MADE THAT MAN OF THE HOUR. Let alone all which that God had done in the remoter past, and the earlier heretofore of his life, what had he done lately?
1. That God did not forget his child, his servant, his anxious sufferer. He had long so served Paul that nothing was more precious to him than to think he was the acknowledged and sure possession of God—"whose I am;" and no livery conceivable so honorable as his—"whom I serve." And now with gentle witness he makes him know that he does not forget him, has not taken his eye off from him, but is following him with that watchful, careful, loving eye. And "he sends his holy angel" to him.
2. That God strengthened and refreshed the confidence of his child and servant in a very noteworthy manner. For he condescends to repeat himself. Again he sends his angel, again the visit is the visit of the night, when "deep sleep falleth upon men" generally, but when little now visited the eyes of Paul or of others in that boat. Again the angel "stands by" Paul, ready for march, for work, for conflict, for victory. He does not over-hover nor seem in the attitude that would suggest the upward flight for Paid. Firmly on earth that angel of God condescends to plant his feet. Again the former words are repeated (Acts 23:1-35. Acts 23:11). Was it not enough that "God had spoken once," saying that the eyes of Paul should see Rome, and that he should preach in Rome? Again, however, the assurance is given him, and again the word of direct encouragement is addressed to the heart of Paul, "Be of good cheer" (Acts 23:1-35. Acts 23:11); "Fear not, Paul."
3. That God sets double and very high honor on his despised child and suffering servant. He "gives" to Paul "all them that sail with him." And it is not a secret covered gift, it is such a one as Paul can quote, and quoted, no doubt, not without Divine warrant, though this is not asserted. Thus the God who made Paul the man of the hour made him such in the strength of his kindly memory of him, in the comforting and assuring language he addressed to him, and in the practical honor, a very boon of honor, he bestowed upon him. It may have required some courage for Paul to have made this last announcement, except for one fact, significant enough, that by far the more part of "them that sailed with Paul" had none at all, had lost heart, and hope, and the tongue to jeer, and lip to mock, arid countenance to laugh unbelievingly, with all which it is highly likely his announcement would at any other time have been received.
IV. THE MEANS BY WHICH THAT MAN GOT HIS HOLD ON GOD. The declaration of these means stands on the page of the book and shines on the life of the man in simplicity, brevity, grandeur, unique. "For I believe God," says Paul. What a word is this! What a thing it is! How few say it firmly I How few who say it and even firmly, do it! How fewer still by far who consistently and persistently do it! Yet is it the secret of peace, of strength, of influence, of the only kind worth having and enduring, and of heavenly wealth. What does the man possess who can say this with simple, full truth," For I believe God '? And what can he want? Of him this may be said, and it is enough. He has all things and abounds." How mournful, pitiful, sinful, the instability of the man who cannot say this from the heart I How strong and safe from "shipwreck" the man who can!—B.
A glimpse at human nature and its behavior in three varieties at one and the same conjuncture.
The episode comprised in these few verses is full of startling effect. It displays human nature—that which is alike so one and so manifold—in this its latter aspect, rather than in the former. It invites us to look, to wonder, and, if wise, to be warned and learn in time. Let us notice the manifestation of human nature as made now by three varieties of people—
I. BY THE SHIPMEN. That is, by the "master and owner" of the ship (Acts 27:11), and evidently the officers and crew (Acts 27:27) of the ship. Every sentiment of honor, every plain demand of duty, called upon them to stand by their ship to the last, and to be the last to leave it. They now try to do all the reverse of this, competent to purpose it, and taken in the attempt to do it by craft, "under color" of doing something else. They reveal:
1. Cowardice. That they should fear was natural and a sign that nature had not gone callous in them. But cowardice began when they did not face to the end what had now some days been a common danger, one for which they were in part themselves answerable, which they could best meet, and which others must meet.
2. Selfishness. They try to save themselves,
(1) regardless of others who belonged to them, as if only so much freight;
(2) and yet worse, doubling the risk of them, by
(a) withdrawing their own professional help, and
(b) withdrawing the boat.
3. The unfaithfulness of the hireling. Seldom could there be found a more typical instance of this (John 10:11-13). They were hired, they "cared nothing" for the lives of those entrusted to their charge, and they did attempt to "flee."
4. The "wisdom in its generation" of human nature. For, baulked of their purpose, and baulked in a most transparent and peremptory manner, they are too "wise" to court lynch law; and they appear to follow the policy at once of saying nothing, and making the best of it. They fall into their places, and do whatever is to be done. So versatile can human nature be when it suits her.
II. BY PAUL. Paul under any showing was the character and the hero of the boat. We should not be content without knowing anything of him that opens to our view. A great deal does open to our view. He steps out not now for the first time since the storm began. It would be very far from the truth to say now that it was only human nature that we have the opportunity of seeing. No; the subordination of human nature was, perhaps, not yet perfect. Yet there was no willing strife (Romans 7:15-25), no great strife, no very distorting strife, between the human and the Divine in him.
1. Paul was the one calm watcher of everything that transpired.
2. His was the eye that read and that was then engaged in reading nature in others. It was in very deed, at any time, part of his office to do this very thing.
3. His was the eye that, so clear itself, detected the fraud, the would-be fraud of others.
4. His was the unfaltering tongue that declared it, though probably with no addition of safety to himself.
5. His was the mind conscious in its own rectitude and confident in God's truth and providence, that does not for a moment hesitate to expose itself to being taxed with certain theological inconsistency. Most positively and publicly had he committed himself to the statement that God had promised him himself and "all them that sailed with him." And yet he brings to the fore a condition, a new sort of proviso, and that one that postulated the help and co-operation of a number of godless and inhuman hirelings. These things all show, not only that the truest Christian need be no less a true man, but rather that it is only the true Christian who touches at all sufficiently the possibilities of the true man. For Paul the prisoner, on the way to trial, of many the despised, is nevertheless the man in every essential respect, in that boat, and succeeds in commanding not only a professed respect, but a practical obedience from all the rest.
III. BY THE ROMAN CENTURION AND SOLDIERS.
1. So soon as Paul has had his say, they see quickly, because their eyesight is keen by reason of the instinct of self-preservation.
2. They are not nice as to the source from which they derive their clue. Extreme peril has done a great deal to strip off from them all unnecessary artificiality, all dignified ceremony, all officialism and mere sense of authority. Nature itself stares them in the face, and puts not lispingly the alternative—Where may all these be very soon?
3. They act, act at once, and act trenchantly too. They cut off escape from the coward and the knave and the supremely guilty. Let what may be said to them, let what may be threateningly looked at them, they act, for so it is given to human nature to do in the last resort. And those who do not act in the presence of the solemn, supreme dangers of life, cutting off escape from the evil-doers, though these be themselves, are the men who will be left yet more "without excuse" for what is written in the book, in this threefold illustration of human nature in the presence of peril.—B.
An unexpected testimony to the force of goodness.
Not the least honorable testimony to Paul is contained in the incident related in this passage. It is one undeniable testimony among many as to where in the ultimate resort strength lies. It lies with goodness. It lies with the man who lives with God, works for Christ, is ruled in conscience and life by the dictates of the Spirit. Long periods may wear away first, and the most unpromising entanglements seem to forbid hope, but the vindication comes at last, and often in the most extraordinary and unanticipated way. For what a transformation it is now which shows the prisoner of the whole company, and the man who before has seemed to run the gauntlet of one continuous contradiction of then, standing forth, not merely the observed of all observers, which he had often been before, but the one respectfully listened to, followed obediently, and really appreciated by the witness and unanimous consent of cheered hearts (Acts 27:36).
(A) Notice, then, the persecuted and misunderstood good man comes to be regarded—
I. AS A FRIEND TO BE LISTENED TO.
II. AS A FRIEND WHOSE GOOD CONFIDENCE IS WELCOMED AND SPREADS A GRATEFUL INFLUENCE.
III. AS A FRIEND WHO IS PERMITTED TO URGE SIMPLE PRACTICAL DUTY.
IV. AS A FRIEND NOT MOCKED WHEN HE TEACHES RELIGION. Paul did thus teach, both
(1) by word and
(2) by his own act.
V. AS ONE WHO, BY THE SIMPLE PURITY OF HIS FRIENDSHIP, IS RAISED TO THE POSITION OF THE MASTER OF ALL, IN A MORAL SENSE.
(B) But a second series of suggestive lessons lies before us in the same passage. Notice—
I. WHAT RESOURCELESS FEAR THE FEAR OF THE WICKED IS!
II. WHAT DISABLING FEAR THAT FEAR IS!
III. How IT TAKES ITS VERY FIRST REVENGE ON THAT OUTER LIFE FOR WHICH THE SINNER LIVES!
IV. WHAT DISCORD, DISTRUST, AND EVEN DISSERVICE ARE WROUGHT BY IT AMONG "THE COMPANY OF THE UNGODLY" THEMSELVES! They who were one long time to oppose the true, soon fall to opposing one another.
V. TO WHAT DEEP SELF-CONVICTION OF SHAME AND HUMILIATION THE FEAR OF THE WICKED, EVEN IN THIS WORLD, REDUCES THEM, WHEN THEM FOR THE FIRST TIME THEY LEARN RESPECT FOR THE GOOD, AND BORROW CHEERFULNESS FROM THEM!—B.
The means human, the power Divine.
A series of lessons are suggested here which the facts of life are proving by a constant analogy. Notice—
I. A LESSON OF HUMAN MEANS AND ACTIVITY. No one of all the two hundred and seventy-six were saved by anything that looked like supernatural help. All were saved either by their own exertions in swimming, or by these together, strange to say, with the aid of the mere fragments of their broken vessel.
II. TRUE GOODNESS HAS ITS IMPRESSION FOR THE MOST IGNORANT AND THE WORLDLY, ESPECIALLY IF THESE ARE HONEST. Whatever might be the religious ignorance or inexperience of the centurion, he evidently was impressed and attracted by the manner of Paul, or by his evident quality, or by both. He saves Paul. And probably his honesty was the real account of the impression he took.
III. THE GOOD CHARACTER OF ONE MAN WILL AVAIL TO SAVE OTHERS WITH WHOM HE MAY BE CLASSED BY THE WORLD OR BY PROVIDENCE, THOUGH THEY BE NOT GOOD. Doubtless the righteous do sometimes perish with the wicked. How often are the wicked saved and the city spared for the sake of the few righteous! All the rest of the prisoners owed their safety (under God) to Paul and the silent influence of his integrity.
IV. GOD HIMSELF VOUCHSAFES TO SET ON ONE FAITHFUL SERVANT OF HIS THIS SAME MOST DISTINGUISHED KIND OF HONOR. It is written, ay, it was divinely said by the angel that God "gave all them that sailed" in that boat to Paul.
V. ALL THINGS COME OF GOD. He it was, he only, who saves all.—B.
HOMILIES BY R. TUCK
The good man's power to win confidence.
"Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty;" and, in so doing, he did but act as almost everybody acted towards the great apostle who had anything to do with him. St. Paul had a remarkable power of personal fascination. For instances of the impression which he produced on individuals, compare Acts 18:14; Acts 19:31, Acts 19:37. For Scripture illustrations of the power to win confidence, recall the incidents of Joseph's early life in Egypt, and the narrative of the three Hebrew youths as given by Daniel. For illustration in modern life, recall the liberty which the jailor gave to John Bunyan. Very possibly this Julius had heard Paul's address before Agrippa, and the kind consideration of the centurion must have been very helpful to the apostle, whose two years' imprisonment must have told unfavorably upon his health, and who can have been but scantily provided with the requisites for a long voyage. We direct attention to that power which St. Paul evidently possessed, of winning the confidence and the favor of those who came into intimate contact with him; observing that—
I. POWER TO WIN CONFIDENCE IS A NATURAL GIFT. It belongs to some persons in an unusual degree. Children at once recognize and respond to it. We are wont to say that the true teacher is the person who can gain the confidence of the children. From some persons we instinctively shrink, to others we are as instinctively drawn. it is a power that belongs to natural disposition and character; it is a Divine endow-merit or gift, the talent entrusted to some. So far as it belongs to character we may notice its dependence on three elements.
1. Transparency. Some men make you feel their sincerity, honesty, integrity, guilelessness. They make you feel that you know them as they are, and that there is nothing hidden behind.
2. Firmness. Some men are changeable, undecided, and you cannot rely on them. Others may be slower in forming their judgments or expressing their decisions, but you know that you can trust them; they stand fast by their promise; they are as steady as a rock.
3. Sympathy. A mysterious attraction is in some persons as they seem to understand us and feel with us, and their brotherliness commands our confidence.
II. POWER TO WIN CONFIDENCE IS A DIVINE TRUST. It takes its place among the talents. It is our characteristic, a force for good, which is entrusted to our use. It is ours as distinctly as may be the gifts of song, of eloquence, of art, of position, or of wealth. And this particular gift has even an unusual importance attaching to it, for, in inviting the trust of men in us, and meeting that trust faithfully, we may be revealing God to them and helping them to confidence in him. It is hard indeed for that man to have confidence in God who has never been able to rely on any of his fellow-men. This Divine "trust" brings its burden of responsibility. In relation to it we may be found faithful or unfaithful.
III. POWER TO WIN CONFIDENCE IS CAPABLE OF CULTURE. Not so much of direct as of indirect culture. As in other cases so in this, culture comes by use. To employ any talent, to exercise any gift, is to nourish it into strength; but those powers which belong to character are cultured in the general moral culture, in the daily training of the spirit and ordering of the life. Occasion may be taken here to plead for the duty of "keeping the heart with all diligence, seeing that out of it are the issues of life."
IV. POWER TO WIN CONFIDENCE IS SANCTIFIED BY RELIGION. This St. Paul well illustrates; his faith in God, his devotion to men, his renewed disposition, his sense of the living presence of Christ, the measure of his change into the very mind and image of Christ, all told directly on the purifying and perfecting of this his natural gift. Christian faith sanctifies character, especially bearing its force on those three features of transparency, firmness, and sympathy, on which we have seen the power to win confidence mainly depends. Impress that, from the Christian standpoint, a man will only use this power of drawing others to himself in order that he may draw them all to Jesus, and, in and through him, to God.—R.T.
The mission of Divine warnings.
St. Paul was moved by God's Spirit to warn the sailors of the consequences of proceeding on the voyage. No doubt the apostle had a large experience of the sea, and in part gave his personal opinion, but we must recognize that he had the gift of foresight, and this may very readily, on occasion, pass into the gift of prophecy. We note that it is an almost universal method of Divine dealing to warn before judgment falls. Illustration may be found in Noah's warning before the flood, Jonah's warning to Nineveh, Daniel's to Nebuchadnezzar, the warnings of Jehovah's prophets, and our Lord's warning addressed to the guilty people of Jerusalem. We ask why these are given both to individuals and to nations, and what precise purposes do such warnings accomplish.
I. THEY MAY BE PREVENTVE OF CALAMITY. St. Paul's would have been if it had been heeded. The warning of Jonah was, for the king and people of Nineveh did give heed to it. Explain that in the Divine rule of the world and men, no events need be regarded as absolutely and irrevocably settled. God's foreknowings and fore-ordainings are quite consistent with the conditional character of all events as regarded by men. We can prevent overhanging calamities up to certain limits of time. We can if we will duly keep Divine principles, and heed Divine warnings.
II. THEY SHOW THE CONNECTION BETWEEN MAN'S CONDUCT AND MAN'S CIRCUMSTANCES. This is always the point of a Divine warning. This connection we are always in peril of denying or of forgetting. If we possibly can we think of events as accidents, and then all moral relations and uses are taken away from them. We never can call them "accidents" in the face of Divine warnings, for these distinctly affirm that the character of the coming events depends upon ourselves. It should be carefully shown that public events may not depend on individuals, but they do upon social conditions; and it may also be shown that the wrongdoing of some one may involve the calamity of many. In further and more minutely unfolding the mission of Divine warnings, it may be shown that—
III. THEY MAKE MEN PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE, AND GIVE THEIR AFTER-ACTIONS A DISTINCT MORAL QUALITY. The warned man does not act at unawares. All excuses are taken away. The character of his proposed conduct is revealed to him in its issues. He acts upon knowledge, and the action is obedient or self-willed, good or bad.
IV. THEY SOLEMNLY AFFIRM THE SUPREME KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, AND THE DIVINE OVERRULING OF ALL AFFAIRS. In man's willfulness he says of some things, "They are mere calamities; man's conduct had nothing to do with them;" and then again of other events he will say, "They are simply the natural consequences of men's foolish and wicked doings, and we need not think that God has anything to do with them." Correcting both errors, God's warnings make us understand that he rules and overrules all events, all actions, all sins, "making the very wroth of man to praise him." Show, in conclusion, that warnings still come to us
(1) through men;
(2) through the Word;
(3) through providences;
(4) through the inward witnessings of God's Holy Spirit.
Individuals and nations now cannot press on in paths of evil without finding, again and again, God's angel of warning blocking the way, as he did for foolish, covetous, willful Balaam.—R.T.
Good cheer from a good man.
This interesting incident of the voyage may be introduced by a description of the perilous condition of the vessel, and the distress and hopelessness of the sailors and passengers. Canon Farrar's careful narrative will be found helpful. A few sentences we may give: "The typhoon, indeed, had become an ordinary gale, but the ship had now been reduced to the condition of a leaky and dismantled hulk, swept from stem to stern by the dashing spray, and drifting, no one knew whither, under leaden and moonless heavens. A gloomy apathy began to settle more and more upon those helpless three hundred souls. There were no means of cooking, no fire could be lighted; the caboose and utensils must long ago have been washed overboard; the provisions had probably been spoiled and sodden by the waves that broke over the ship; indeed, with death staring them in the face, no one cared to eat. They were famishing wretches in a fast-sinking ship, drifting, with hopes that diminished day by day, to what they regarded as a swirl and certain death. But in that desperate crisis, one man retained his calm and courage. It was Paul the prisoner, probably in physical health the weakest, and the greatest sufferer of them all. But it is at such moments that the courage of the noblest souls shines with the purest luster, and the soul of Paul was inwardly enlightened." Notice the apostle's sensitiveness to visions at all the great crises of his life. He was a man of prayer, and when a man has gained the habit of communion with God, special times of nearness and revelation are sure to come. A man may, by prayer and communion, make the veil between himself and God very thin and very shadowy, only a mist through which the shinings of God may, at times, easily pass. If we inquire why, on this most depressing occasion, this one man Paul kept so cheerful and so hopeful, the answer is that in him we see the triumph of the man who is conscious of God's presence with him. St. Paul here gives an illustration of his own words, "I can do all things through him that strengtheneth me," In these verses note—
I. THE GOOD MAN'S REPROOF. (Acts 27:21.) It might seem unfitting and unkind to remind the officers of their past mistake; but St. Paul was a moral teacher, and everywhere he sought to do his moral and religious work. He would not miss the opportunity of producing a sense of sin which might be the beginning of better things. If his reproof had been a mere taunt, in the spirit of our irritating way of saying, "I told you so," it could not be commended. It belongs rather to the reproofs of which it may be said, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend."
II. THE GOOD MAN'S ASSURANCE. (Acts 27:22.) It was found in the strong brave words St. Paul used, but even more in the tone with which they were uttered. There could be no question about his own assurance. On his own faith he could uplift and cheer others. Compare the calmness of St. Paul with the unnatural calmness of Jonah when the storm raged about him; and give illustration, from modern tales of shipwreck, of the power of the godly man to quiet alarm and prepare men for death.
III. THE GROUND OF THE GOOD MAN'S CONFIDENCE. (Verses 23-26.) In this case a Divine communication. In other cases more general grounds, such as
(1) our good. Father's care and power;
(2) the "exceeding great and precious promises;" or, sometimes, a strong impression made upon our minds. Impress that the power to cheer others may be won by any and every godly man. It follows upon a real living faith in God; it is the proper power of the man who is calm by reason of his trust in God, and cherished sense of the Divine presence.—R.T.
The sanctity of human life.
This subject is suggested by the fact that they cast out the very wheat into the sea, bring willing to lose everything if they could only save dear life. "Skin after skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life." There is no intenser passion in the creature than the desire to preserve life. Not the tiniest insect, not the gentlest animal, but holds life most dear, and will do battle for it to the very last. The foe that man most dreads, all earthly creatures dread. God does not permit us to see anywhere around us life that is not valued, and for the sake of which all else will not be sacrificed. Man can do everything but die. Man can calmly lose everything but his life. Circumstances the most wretched, pains the most violent, desolation the most complete, can all be borne rather than life should be lost. Poor men cling to life as much as do rich men. Ignorant men hold life as tightly as do wise men. Young men value life no more highly than do old men. Well does the poet say, "All men think all men mortal but themselves, themselves immortal." Now, why has God made life thus sacred, and implanted such an instinct for the preservation of life in one nature?
I. TO ACCOMPLISH GOD'S PURPOSE THE TIME OF EACH MAN'S LIFE MUST RE IN HIS OWN HANDS. Life is a probation for us all, and one man requires a longer probation than another. One lad may be fitted for the business of life with four years' apprenticeship, while another may require six years. So it is in our schooling for eternity. God must hold in his hand both the incomings and the outgoings of our life. Some end life almost as soon as it is begun, while others drag wearily through their seventy or eighty years. And yet man has the power of taking away his life at any moment. God has, indeed, hidden away all the vital parts of our frame in secret places: covered the brain with bone and hair; set the arteries deep down beneath the flesh, and preserved the lungs and heart within a bony cage. Nevertheless, man can easily reach and spill his life. The poor suicide finds easy entrance into the secret chambers where his life dwells. It would almost seem that, if the entrance of life is in God's hands, the exit of it is in man's. And yet it must not be so. For man's own sake it must not. But how shall man's hand be guarded from touching his own life? God has done it by simply making the love of life the one master instinct in every man. He has also done it by revelation and by law, declaring, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." But, more important than any merely outward revelation is the inward revelation found in the clinging of the creature to its existence, so that, until the brain reels and self-control is lost, man will bear anything and lose anything rather than die. So God alone knows the appointed time for man on the earth, and he can accomplish in each his purposes of grace.
II. THE ORDER AND ARRANGEMENT OF SOCIETY COULD NOT BE MAINTAINED IF MEN HAD UNLIMITED CONTROL OVER THEIR OWN LIVES, Consider how the reasons which now induce men to take their lives would then be multiplied. For the smallest things, a little over-anxiety, a little unusual trouble, a commonplace vexation, slighted love, or unsuccessful effort, men would be destroying themselves. We think life is sadly full of change now that, at God's bidding, homes are here and there broken up, and hearts are rifled. But what would be the uncertainties and the crowded miseries of this world's story, if men were unchecked by this universal feeling of the sanctity of life? Widows moan, and orphans weep, and homes are desolated now; but then—if life were felt to be without value, and might be flung away for trifles—then, everywhere men would walk amidst ruins, fallen pillars, broken carvings, shattered roofs, scarce one stone upon another, and the wretched remnant would soon cry out of its desolation that God would seal again the sanctity of life.
III. BUT FOR THIS INSTINCT OF LIFE, MAN WOULD HAVE NO IMPULSE TO TOIL. We know that toil is necessary for the well-being of every creature; that Adam had to till the garden of Eden in the days of his purity and innocence. We know that the judgment on sinning man, that "he should eat bread at the sweat of his face," was no mere punishment, but the indication of the process by which he should be recovered to goodness. We know that through work moral character is cultivated, that alike the common necessities and the higher training of human nature demand toil. We must work if we would eat. We must work if we would know. We must work if we would be "meetened for the inheritance of the saints in the light." Yet who would work if there were not this instinct of life? What motive would be left sufficient to urge us to earnest endeavors, and to the mastering of difficulties? Though men do not say it to themselves in so many words, their real reason for working is that they must live, they want to live, they cling to life, they will do and bear anything if only they may, as we say, "keep body and soul together."
IV. THIS INSTINCT OF LIFE IS THE MEANS OF PRESERVING US FROM THE LAWLESS AND THE VIOLENT. That clinging to my own makes me jealous of my brother's life. As I would not imperil my own, so I would not endanger his. Let him be in the waters or in the fires, we would do our utmost to save his life. But suppose there was no such instinct; suppose life were of no higher value than property,—then we should be at the mercy of every lawless, vicious man, who would not hesitate to kill us for our purse. Every robbery would be liable to become a murder, a robbery with violence. But now, even in the soul of the thief and the vicious man is this impress of the sacredness of life, and only at the utmost extremity will they dare to take it. We may therefore bless God for this universal instinct, recognizing its importance in the economy of this world. We may be comforted, as Christians, when we find it so strong within us as to make us even dread death. It is better for the race, it is better for all, that this should be a mastering instinct; and we may be willing to bear a seeming disability which is so evidently for the good of the many.—B.T.
Safety at last, somehow.
Luke succeeds in presenting a very vivid picture of the exciting scene, when he says, "And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land." St. Paul gave orders that "every one who could swim should first fling himself overboard, and get to land. The rest seized hold of planks and other fragments of the fast-dissolving wreck. The wind threw them landwards, and at last, by the aid of the swimmers, all were saved." St. Paul was probably one of the swimmers, and we may be quite sure one of the most active in helping the others. We may find in this thrilling scene, and in the various experiences of such a time, a picture of the getting home to God at last of human souls.
I. SOME GET HOME AS SHIPS THAT SAIL INTO HARBOUR AFTER A SUCCESSFUL VOYAGE. Somewhat bruised and battered, indeed, by the wild winds and the stormy seas, but whole and sound, and with sails all set, and ropes trimmed with flags, and shouts of joyous welcome from the shores. And thus all God's redeemed children ought to go home to him, and would go home, if in the voyage and the storms of life they fully trusted and fully used his offered grace. There ought to be for us all "the abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom."
II. SOME GET HOME AS SHIPWRECKED MARINERS COME ASHORE. With life hardly saved. With all the works of the life abandoned and lost, like a shipwrecked vessel. Illustrate cases of Christian lives in which the conflict against sin has not been maintained, and the poor soul is almost lost; or cases in which the frailties and easy besetments are unmastered to the end; or cases in which intellectual doubts spoil Christian faith up to the very hour of passing; or cases in which the passion for luxury and worldliness and pleasures give a wrong tone to Christian conduct all through life;—all such cases may coincide with a genuine and saving faith in God, but in all such cases the home-coming is sadly like the picture of the strugglers for dear life given in our text. St. Paul presents the same thought under another figure. He speaks of some as "saved, yet so as by fire." In the great testing-day, every man's life-work is to be "tried by fire, of what sort it is." Some will find their life-work, in which they had so prided themselves, prove nothing but wood and hay and stubble. It will all burn up, and burn away, if God can find nothing but self-seeking and self-serving in it, and the poor soul will cater into life like one plucked naked from a burning house. Surely if we magnify the exceeding grace which permits us all to reach safe home at last, we may well long and pray and strive to win our way to heaven and God with all sails set, bringing safely in the full cargo of a life of good works, done in a good spirit, under Divine leadings. Such a cargo as God may make to "enrich the markets of the golden year."—R.T.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Acts 27". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28