Acts 27

CHAPTER XXVII.

It being determined that Paul should be sent to Rome, he is

delivered to Julius, a centurion, 1.

They embark in a ship of Adramyttium, and come the next day to

Sidon, 2, 3.

They sail thence, and pass Cyprus, Cilicia, and Pamphylia, and

come to Myra, 4, 5.

They are transferred there to a ship of Alexandria going to

Italy; sail past Cnidus, Crete, Salmone, and come to the Fair

Havens, 6-8.

Paul predicts a disastrous voyage, 9-11.

They sail from the Fair Havens, in order to reach Crete, and

winter there; but, having a comparatively favourable wind,

they sail past Crete, and meet with a tempest, and are brought

into extreme peril and distress, 12-20.

Paul's exhortation and prediction of the loss of the ship,

21-26.

After having been tossed about in the Adriatic Sea, for many

days, they are at last shipwrecked on the island of Melita;

and the whole crew, consisting of two hundred and seventy-six

persons, escape safe to land, on broken fragments of the ship,

27-44.

NOTES ON CHAP. XXVII.

Verse 1. And when it was determined, &c.] That is, when the

governor had given orders to carry Paul to Rome, according to his

appeal; together with other prisoners who were bound for the same

place.

We should sail] By this it is evident that St. Luke was with

Paul; and it is on this account that he was enabled to give such a

circumstantial account of the voyage.

Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band.] Lipsius has found the

name of this cohort on an ancient marble; see Lips. in Tacit.

Hist. lib. ii. The same cohort is mentioned by Suetonius, in his

life of Nero, 20.

Verse 2. A ship of Adramyttium] There were several places of

this name; and in different MSS. the name is variously written.

The port in question appears to have been a place in Mysia, in

Asia Minor. And the abb� Vertot, in his history of the Knights of

Malta, says it is now called Mehedia. Others think it was a city

and seaport of Africa, whence the ship mentioned above had been

fitted out; but it is more probable that the city and seaport here

meant is that on the coast of the AEgean Sea, opposite Mitylene,

and not far from Pergamos. See its situation on the map.

Aristarchus, a Macedonian] We have seen this person with St.

Paul at Ephesus, during the disturbances there, Ac 19:29, where

he had been seized by the mob, and was in great personal danger.

He afterwards attended Paul to Macedonia, and returned with him to

Asia, Ac 20:4. Now, accompanying him to Rome, he was there a

fellow prisoner with him, Col 4:10, and is mentioned in St.

Paul's epistle to Philemon, Phm 1:24, who was probably their common

friend.-Dodd. Luke and Aristarchus were certainly not prisoners at

this time, and seem to have gone with St. Paul merely as his

companions, through affection to him, and love for the cause of

Christianity. How Aristarchus became his fellow prisoner, as is

stated Col 4:10, we cannot tell, but it could not have been at

this time.

Verse 3. Touched at Sidon] For some account of this place,

See Clarke on Mt 11:21; and

See Clarke on Ac 12:20.

Julius courteously entreated Paul] At the conclusion of the

preceding chapter, it has been intimated that the kind treatment

which Paul received, both from Julius and at Rome, was owing to

the impression made on the minds of Agrippa and Festus, relative

to his innocence. It appears that Julius permitted him to go

ashore, and visit the Christians which were then at Sidon, without

using any extraordinary precautions to prevent his escape. He was

probably accompanied with the soldier to whose arm he was chained;

and it is reasonable to conclude that this soldier would fare well

on St. Paul's account.

Verse 4. We sailed under Cyprus] See Clarke on Ac 4:36.

Verse 5. Pamphylia] See Clarke on Ac 2:10.

Myra, a city of Lycia.] The name of this city is written

variously in the MSS., Myra, Murrha, Smyra, and Smyrna. Grotius

conjectures that all these names are corrupted, and that it should

be written Limyra, which is the name both of a river and city in

Lycia. It is certain that, in common conversation, the first

syllable, li, might be readily dropped, and then Myra, the word in

the text, would remain. Strabo mentions both Myra and Limyra, lib.

xiv. p. 666. The former, he says, is twenty stadia from the sea,

επιμετεωρουλοφου, upon a high hill: the latter, he says, is

the name of a river; and twenty stadia up this river is the town

Limyra itself. These places were not far distant, and one of them

is certainly meant.

Verse 6. A ship of Alexandria] It appears, from Ac 27:38, that

this ship was laden with wheat, which she was carrying from

Alexandria to Rome. We know that the Romans imported much corn

from Egypt, together with different articles of Persian and Indian

merchandise.

Verse 7. Sailed slowly many days] Partly because the wind was

contrary, and partly because the vessel was heavy laden.

Over against Cnidus] This was a city or promontory of Asia,

opposite to Crete, at one corner of the peninsula of Caria. Some

think that this was an island between Crete and a promontory of

the same name.

Over against Salmone] We have already seen that the island

formerly called Crete is now called Candia; and Salmone or Sammon,

or Samonium, now called Cape Salamon, or Salamina, was a

promontory on the eastern coast of that island.

Verse 8. The Fair Havens] This port still remains, and is known

by the same name; it was situated towards the northern extremity

of the island.

Was the city of Lasea.] There is no city of this name now

remaining: the Codex Alexandrinus reads αλασσα, Alassa; probably

Lysia, near the port of Gortyna, to the eastward.

Verse 9. Sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now

already past] It is generally allowed that the fast mentioned here

was that of the great day of atonement which was always celebrated

on the tenth day of the seventh month, which would answer to the

latter end of our September; see Le 16:29; 23:27, &c. As this was

about the time of the autumnal equinox, when the Mediterranean Sea

was sufficiently tempestuous, we may suppose this feast alone to

be intended. To sail after this feast was proverbially dangerous

among the ancient Jews. See proofs in Schoettgen.

Verse 10. I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt, &c.]

Paul might either have had this intimation from the Spirit of God,

or from his own knowledge of the state of this sea after the

autumnal equinox, and therefore gave them this prudent warning.

Verse 11. The centurion believed the master] τωκυβερνητη, the

pilot; and owner of the ship, τωναυκληρω, the captain and

proprietor. This latter had the command of the ship and the

crew; the pilot had the guidance of the vessel along those

dangerous coasts, under the direction of the captain; and the

centurion had the power to cause them to proceed on their voyage,

or to go into port, as he pleased; as he had other state prisoners

on board; and probably the ship itself was freighted for

government. Paul told them, if they proceeded, they would be in

danger of shipwreck; the pilot and captain said there was no

danger; and the centurion, believing them, commanded the vessel to

proceed on her voyage. It is likely that they were now in the port

called the Fair Havens.

Verse 12. Might attain to Phoenice] It appears that the Fair

Havens were at the eastern end of the island, and they wished to

reach Phoenice, which lay farther towards the west.

Toward the south-west and north-west.] καταλιβακαικαταχωρον.

The libs certainly means the south-west, called libs, from

Libya, from which it blows to. wards the AEgean Sea. The

chorus, or caurus, means a north-west wind. Virgil mentions

this, Geor. iii. ver. 356.

Semper hyems, semper spirantes frigora cauri.

"It is always winter; and the cauri, the north-westers,

ever blowing cold."

Dr. Shaw lays down this, and other winds, in a Greek compass, on

his map, in which he represents the drifting of St. Paul's vessel

from Crete, till it was wrecked at the island of Melita. Travels,

p. 331, 4to. edit.

Verse 13. When the south wind blew softly] Though this wind was

not very favourable, yet, because it blew softly, they supposed

they might be able to make their passage.

They sailed close by Crete.] Kept as near the coast as they

could. See the track on the map.

Verse 14. A tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.] Interpreters

have been greatly perplexed with this word; and the ancient

copyists not less so, as the word is variously written in the MSS.

and versions. Dr. Shaw supposes it to be one of those tempestuous

winds called levanters, which blow in all directions, from N.E.

round by the E. to S.E. The euroclydon, from the circumstances

which attended it, he says, "seems to have varied very little from

the true east point; for, as the ship could not bear,

αντοφθαλμειν, loof up, against it, Ac 27:15, but they

were obliged to let her drive, we cannot conceive, as there are

no remarkable currents in that part of the sea, and as the rudder

could be of little use, that it could take any other course than

as the winds directed it. Accordingly, in the description of the

storm, we find that the vessel was first of all under the island

Clauda, Ac 27:16, which is a little to the southward of the

parallel of that part of the coast of Crete from whence it may be

supposed to have been driven; then it was tossed along the bottom

of the Gulf of Adria, Ac 27:27, and afterwards broken to pieces,

Ac 27:41, at

Melita, which is a little to the northward of the parallel above

mentioned; so that the direction and course of this particular

euroclydon seems to have been first at east by north, and

afterwards, pretty nearly east by south." These winds, called now

levanters, and formerly, it appears, euroclydon, were no

determinate winds, blowing always from one point of the compass:

euroclydon was probably then, what levanter is now, the name of

any tempestuous wind in that sea, blowing from the north-east

round by east to the south-east; and therefore St. Luke says,

there rose against it (i.e. the vessel) a tempestuous wind called

euroclydon; which manner of speaking shows that he no more

considered it to be confined to any one particular point of the

compass, than our sailors do their levanter. Dr. Shaw derives

ευροκλυδων from ευρουκλυδων, an eastern tempest, which is the

very meaning affixed to a levanter at the present day.

The reading of the Codex Alexandrinus is ευρακυλων, the

north-east wind, which is the same with the euro-aquilo of the

Vulgate. This reading is approved by several eminent critics; but

Dr. Shaw, in the place referred to above, has proved it to be

insupportable.

Dr. Shaw mentions a custom which he has several times seen

practised by the Mohammedans in these levanters:-After having tied

to the mast, or ensign staff, some apposite passage from the

Koran, they collect money, sacrifice a sheep, and throw them both

into the sea. This custom, he observes, was practised some

thousand years ago by the Greeks: thus Aristophanes:-

αρναρναμελαινανπαιδεςεξενεγκατε

τυφωςγαρεκβαινεινπαρασκευαζεται

Ran. Act. iii. s. 2, ver. 871.

A lamb! boys, sacrifice a black lamb immediately:

For a tempest is about to burst forth.

Virgil refers to the same custom:-

Sic fatus, meritos aris mactavit honores:

Taurum Neptuno, taurum tibi, pulcher Apollo;

Nigram hyemi pecudem, zephyris felicibus albam.

AEn. iii. ver. 118.

Thus he spake, and then sacrificed on the altars the proper

eucharistic victims:-

A bull to Neptune, and a bull to thee, O beautiful Apollo;

A black sheep to the north wind, and a white sheep to the west.

And again:-

Tres Eryci vitutos, et tempestatibus agnam,

Caedere deinde jubet.

AEn. v. ver. 772.

Then he commanded three calves to be sacrificed to Eryx,

and a lamb to the tempests.

In the days of the Prophet Jonah the mariners in this sea were

accustomed to do the same. Then they offered a sacrifice to the

Lord, and vowed vows; Jon 1:16. See Shaw's Travels, 4to. edit. p.

329-333.

The heathens supposed that these tempests were occasioned by

evil spirits: and they sacrificed a black sheep in order to drive

the demon away. See the ancient Scholiast on Aristophanes, in the

place cited above.

Sir George Staunton (Embassy to China, vol. ii. p. 403) mentions

a similar custom among the Chinese, and gives an instance of it

when the yachts and barges of the embassy were crossing the Yellow

River:-

"The amazing velocity with which the Yellow River runs at the

place where the yacht and barges of the embassy were to cross it

rendered, according to the notions of the Chinese crews, a

sacrifice necessary to the spirit of the river, in order to insure

a safe passage over it. For this purpose, the master, surrounded

by the crew of the yacht, assembled upon the forecastle; and,

holding as a victim in his hand a cock, wrung off his head, which

committing to the stream, he consecrated the vessel with the blood

spouting from the body, by sprinkling it upon the deck, the masts,

the anchors, and the doors of the apartments; and stuck upon them

a few of the feathers of the bird. Several bowls of meat were then

brought forward, and ranged in a line across the deck. Before

these were placed a cup of oil, one filled with tea, one with some

ardent spirit, and a fourth with salt; the captain making, at the

same time, three profound inclinations of his body, with hands

uplifted, and muttering a few words, as if of solicitation to the

deity. The loo, or brazen drum, vas beaten in the meantime

forcibly; lighted matches were held towards heaven; papers,

covered with tin or silver leaf, were burnt; and crackers fired

off in great abundance by the crew. The captain afterwards made

libations to the river, by emptying into it, from the vessel's

prow, the several cups of liquids; and concluded with throwing in

also that which held the salt. All the ceremonies being over, and

the bowls of meat removed, the people feasted on it in the

steerage, and launched afterwards, with confidence, the yacht into

the current. As soon as she had reached the opposite shore, the

captain returned thanks to heaven, with three inclinations of the

body.

"Besides the daily offering and adoration at the altar erected

on the left or honourable side of the cabin in every Chinese

vessel, the solemn sacrifices above described are made to obtain

the benefit of a fair wind, or to avert any impending danger. The

particular spot upon the forecastle, where the principal

ceremonies are performed, is not willingly suffered to be occupied

or defiled by any person on board."

Verse 15. And when the ship was caught] συναρπασθεντοςδετου

πλοιου. The ship was violently hurried away before this strong

levanter; so that it was impossible for her, αντοφθαλμειν, to

face the wind, to turn her prow to it, so as to shake it out, as

I have heard sailors say, and have seen them successfully perform

in violent tempests and squalls.

We let her drive.] We were obliged to let her go right before

this tempestuous wind, whithersoever it might drive her.

Verse 16. A certain island-called Clauda] Called also Gaudos;

situated at the south-western extremity of the island of Crete,

and now called Gozo, according to Dr. Shaw.

Much work to come by the boat] It was likely to have been washed

overboard; or, if the boat was in tow, at the stern of the vessel,

which is probable, they found it very difficult to save it from

being staved, or broken to pieces.

Verse 17. Undergirding the ship] This method has been used even

in modern times. It is called frapping the ship. A stout cable is

slipped under the vessel at the prow, which they can conduct to

any part of the ship's keel; and then fasten the two ends on the

deck, to keep the planks from starting: as many rounds as they

please may be thus taken about the vessel. An instance of this

kind is mentioned in Lord Anson's Voyage round the World. Speaking

of a Spanish man-of-war in a storm: "They were obliged to throw

overboard all their upper-deck guns, and take six turns of the

cable round the ship, to prevent her opening." P. 24, 4to. edit.

The same was done by a British line-of-battle ship in 1763, on her

passage from India to the Cape of Good Hope.

The quicksands] ειςτηνσυρτιν, Into the syrt. There were two

famous syrts, or quicksands, on the African coast; one called the

syrtis major, lying near the coast of Cyrene; and the other, the

syrtis minor, not far from Tripoli. Both these, like our Goodwin

Sands, were proverbial for their multitude of ship-wrecks. From

the direction in which this vessel was driven, it is not at all

likely that they were in danger of drifting on any of these syrts,

as the vessel does not appear to have been driven near the African

coast through the whole of her voyage. And as to what is said,

Ac 27:27, of their being

driven up and down in Adria, διαφερομενωνεντωαδρια, it must

mean their being tossed about near to Sicily, the sea of which is

called Adria, according to the old Scholiast upon Dionysius's

Periegesis, ver. 85: τοσικελικοντουτοτοπελαγοςαδριανκαλουσι

they call this Sicilian sea, Adria. We are therefore to consider

that the apprehension, expressed in Ac 27:17, is to be taken

generally: they were afraid of falling into some shoals, not

knowing in what part of the sea they then were; for they had seen

neither sun nor stars for many days; and they had no compass, and

consequently could not tell in what direction they were now

driving. It is wrong therefore to mark the course of this voyage,

as if the vessel had been driven across the whole of the

Mediterranean, down to the African coast, and near to the syrts,

or shoal banks; to which there is scarcely any reason to believe

she had once approximated during the whole of this dangerous

voyage.

Strake sail] χαλασαντεςτοσκευος. What this means is difficult

to say. As to striking or slackening sail, that is entirely out of

the question, in such circumstances as they were; when it is

evident they could carry no sail at all, and must have gone under

bare poles. Some think that lowering the yards, and taking down

the top-mast, is what is intended; but in such a perilous

situation this would have been of little service. Others think,

letting go their main or sheet anchor, is what is meant; but this

seems without foundation, as it would have been foolishness in the

extreme to have hoped to ride out the storm in such a sea. Passing

by a variety of meanings, I suppose cutting away, or by some means

letting down the mast, is the action intended to be expressed

here; and this would be the most likely means of saving the vessel

from foundering.

Verse 18. Lightened the ship] Of what, we know not; but it was

probably cumbrous wares, by which the deck was thronged, and which

were prejudicial to the due trim of the vessel.

Verse 19. The tackling of the ship.] τηνσκευην; All

supernumerary anchors, cables, baggage, &c.

Verse 20. Neither sun nor stars in many days appeared] And

consequently they could make no observation; and, having no

magnetical needle, could not tell in what direction they were

going.

Verse 21. After long abstinence] πολληςδεασιτιαςυπαρχουσης.

Mr. Wakefield connects this with the preceding verse, and

translates it thus: Especially as there was a great scarcity of

provisions. But this by no means can agree with what is said,

Ac 27:34-38. The vessel was a

corn vessel; and they had not as yet thrown the wheat into the

sea, see Ac 27:38. And we find they had

food sufficient to eat, but were discouraged, and so utterly

hopeless of life that they had no appetite for food: besides, the

storm was so great that it is not likely they could dress any

thing.

Have gained this harm and loss.] It seems strange to talk of

gaining a loss, but it is a correct rendering of the original,

κερδησαι, which expresses the idea of acquisition, whether of

good or evil. Those who wish it, may see this use of the term

well illustrated by Bp. Pearce, in his note on this verse. The

harm was damage to the vessel; the loss was that of the

merchandise, furniture, &c.

Verse 22. There shall be no loss of-life] This must be joyous

news to those from whom all hope that they should be saved was

taken away: Ac 27:20.

Verse 23. The-God, whose I am, and whom I serve] This Divine

communication was intended to give credit to the apostle and to

his doctrine; and, in such perilous circumstances, to speak so

confidently, when every appearance was against him, argued the

fullest persuasion of the truth of what he spoke; and the

fulfilment, so exactly coinciding with the prediction, must have

shown these heathens that the God whom Paul served must be widely

different from theirs.

Verse 24. God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.] Two

hundred and seventy-six souls saved for the sake of one man! This

was a strong proof of God's approbation of Paul; and must at least

have shown to Julius the centurion that his prisoner was an

injured and innocent man.

Verse 26. We must be cast upon a certain island.] The angel

which gave him this information did not tell him the name of the

island. It turned out to be Melita, on which, by the violence of

the storm, they were wrecked some days after.

Verse 27. Driven up and down in Adria]

See Clarke on Ac 27:17.

Deemed that they drew near to some country] They judged so,

either by the smell of land, which those used to the sea can

perceive at a considerable distance, or by the agitation of the

sea, rippling of the tide, flight of sea-birds, &c.

Verse 28. And sounded] βολισαντες, Heaving the lead.

Twenty fathoms] οργυιαςεικοσι, About forty yards in depth.

The οργυια is thus defined by the Etymologicon: σημαινειτην

εκτασιντωνχειρωνσυντωπλατειτουστηθους It signifies the

extent of the arms, together with the breadth of the breast. This

is exactly the quantum of our fathom.

Verse 29. Cast four anchors out of the stern] By this time the

storm must have been considerably abated; though the agitation of

the sea could not have subsided much. The anchors were cast out of

the stern to prevent the vessel from drifting ashore, as they

found that, the farther they stood in, the shallower the water

grew; therefore they dropped the anchor astern, as even one ship's

length might be of much consequence.

Verse 30. The shipmen] The sailors-let down the boat. Having

lowered the boat from the deck into the sea, they pretended that

it was necessary to carry some anchors ahead, to keep her from

being carried in a dangerous direction by the tide, but with the

real design to make for shore, and so leave the prisoners and the

passengers to their fate. This was timely noticed by the pious and

prudent apostle; who, while simply depending on the promise of

God, was watching for the safety and comfort of all.

Verse 31. Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.]

God, who has promised to save your lives, promises this on the

condition that ye make use of every means he has put in your power

to help yourselves. While, therefore, ye are using these means,

expect the co-operation of God. If these sailors, who only

understand how to work the ship, leave it, ye cannot escape.

Therefore prevent their present design. On the economy of Divine

Providence, See Clarke on Ac 23:35.

Verse 32. The soldiers cut off the ropes] These were probably

the only persons who dared to have opposed the will of the

sailors: this very circumstance is an additional proof of the

accuracy of St. Luke.

Verse 33. While the day was coining on] It was then apparently

about day-break.

This day is the fourteenth day that ye have-continued fasting]

Ye have not had one regular meal for these fourteen days past.

Indeed we may take it for granted that, during the whole of the

storm, very little was eaten by any man: for what appetite could

men have for food, who every moment had death before their eyes?

Verse 34. A hair fall from the head] A proverbial expression

for, ye shall neither lose your lives nor suffer any hurt in your

bodies, if ye follow my advice.

Verse 35. Gave thanks to God] Who had provided the food, and

preserved their lives and health to partake of it. Some think that

he celebrated the holy eucharist here: but this is by no means

likely: he would not celebrate such a mystery among ungodly

sailors and soldiers, Jews and heathens; nor was there any

necessity for such a measure.

Verse 38. They lightened the ship] They hoped that, by casting

out the lading, the ship would draw less water; in consequence of

which, they could get nearer the shore.

Verse 39. They knew not the land] And therefore knew neither the

nature of the coast, nor where the proper port lay.

A-creek with a shore] κολπον, Sinum, a bay, with a shore; a

neck of land perhaps on either side, running out into the sea, and

this little bay or gulf between them; though some think it was a

tongue of land, running out into the sea, having the sea on both

sides, at the point of which these two seas met, Ac 27:41. There

is such a place as this in the island of Malta, where, tradition

says, Paul was shipwrecked; and which is called la Cale de St.

Paul. See Calmet.

Verse 40. Taken up the anchors] Weighed all the anchors that

they had cast out of the stern. Some think the meaning of the word

is, they slipped their cables; and so left the anchors in the sea.

This opinion is expressed in the margin.

Loosed the rudder bands] Or, the bands of the rudders; for large

vessels in ancient times had two or more rudders, one at the side,

and another at the stern, and sometimes one at the prow. The

bands, ζευκτηριας, were some kind of fastenings, by which the

rudders were hoisted some way out of the water; for, as they could

be of no use in the storm, and, should there come fair weather,

the vessel could not do without them, this was a prudent way of

securing them from being broken to pieces by the agitation of the

waves. These bands being loosed, the rudders would fall down into

their proper places, and serve to steer the vessel into the creek

which they now had in view.

Hoisted up the mainsail] αρτεμονα is not the mainsail, (which

would have been quite improper on such an occasion,) but the jib,

or triangular sail which is suspended from the foremast to the

bowspirit; with this they might hope both to steer and carry in

the ship.

Verse 41. Where two seas meet] The tide running down from each

side of the tongue of land, mentioned Ac 27:39, and meeting at

the point.

Ran the ship aground] In striving to cross at this point of

land, they had not taken a sufficiency of sea-room, and therefore

ran aground.

The forepart stuck fast] Got into the sands; and perhaps the

shore here was very bold or steep, so that the stem of the vessel

might be immersed in the quicksands, which would soon close round

it, while the stern, violently agitated with the surge, would soon

be broken to pieces. It is extremely difficult to find the true

meaning of several of the nautical terms used in this chapter. I

have given that which appeared to me to be the most likely; but

cannot absolutely say that I have everywhere hit the true meaning.

Verse 42. The soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners] What

blood-thirsty, cowardly villains must these have been! Though,

through the providence of God, those poor men had escaped a watery

grave, and had borne all the anxiety and distresses of this

disastrous voyage, as well as the others, now that there is a

likelihood of all getting safe to land that could swim, lest these

should swim to shore, and so escape, those men, whose trade was in

human blood, desired to have them massacred! We have not many

traits in the histories of the most barbarous nations that can be

a proper counterpart to this quintessence of humano-diabolic

cruelty.

Verse 43. Willing to save Paul, &c.] Had one fallen, for the

reasons those cruel and dastardly soldiers gave, so must all the

rest. The centurion save that Paul vas not only an innocent, but

an extraordinary and divine man; and therefore, for his sake, he

prevented the massacre; and, unloosing every man's bonds, he

commanded those that could to swim ashore and escape. It is likely

that all the soldiers escaped in this way, for it was one part of

the Roman military discipline to teach the soldiers to swim.

Verse 44. And the rest] That could not swim: some on boards,

planks, spars, &c., got safe to land; manifestly by an especial

providence of God; for how otherwise could the sick, the aged, the

terrified, besides women and children, (of which, we may naturally

suppose, there were some,) though on planks, get safe to

shore?-where still the waves were violent, Ac 27:41, and they

without either skill or power to steer their unsafe flotillas to

the land? It was (in this case, most evidently) God who brought

them to the haven were they would be.

1. PAUL had appealed to Caesar; and he must go to Rome to have

his cause heard. God admitted of this appeal, and told his servant

that he should testify of him at Rome; and yet every thing seemed

to conspire together to prevent this appeal, and the testimony

which the apostle was to bear to the truth of the Christian

religion. The Jews laid wait for his life; and when he had escaped

out of their hands, and from their territories, then the winds and

the sea seemed to combine to effect his destruction. And God

suffered all this malice of men, and war of elements, to fight

against his servant, and yet overruled and counterworked the

whole, so as to promote his own glory, and bring honour to his

apostle. Had it not been for this malice of the Jews, Festus,

Felix, Agrippa, Berenice, and many Roman nobles and officers, had

probably never heard the Gospel of Christ. And, had it not been

for Paul's tempestuous voyage, the 276 souls that sailed with him

could not have had such displays of the power and wisdom of the

Christians' God as must have struck them with reverence, and

probably was the cause of the conversion of many. Had the voyage

been smooth and prosperous, there would have been no occasion for

such striking interferences of God; and, had it not been for the

shipwreck, probably the inhabitants of Malta would not so soon

have heard of the Christian religion. God serves his will by every

occurrence, and presses every thing into the service of his own

cause. This is a remark which we have often occasion to make, and

which is ever in place. We may leave the government of the world,

and the government of the Church, most confidently to God;

hitherto he has done all things well; and his wisdom, power,

goodness, and truth, are still the same.

2. In considering the dangers of a sea voyage, we may well say,

with pious Quesnel, To what perils do persons expose themselves,

either to raise a fortune, or to gain a livelihood! How few are

there who would expose themselves to the same for the sake of God!

They commit themselves to the mercy of the waves; they trust their

lives to a plank and to a pilot; and yet it is often with great

difficulty that they can trust themselves to the providence of

God, whose knowledge, power, and goodness, are infinite; and the

visible effects of which they have so many times experienced.

3. What assurance soever we may have of the will of God, yet we

must not forget human means. The life of all the persons in this

ship was given to St. Paul; yet he does not, on that account,

expect a visible miracle, but depends upon the blessing which God

will give to the care and endeavours of men.

4. God fulfils his promises, and conceals his almighty power,

under such means and endeavours as seem altogether human and

natural. Had the crew of this vessel neglected any means in their

own power, their death would have been the consequence of their

inaction and infidelity.

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