Acts 27

* Paul's voyage towards Rome. (1-11) Paul and his companions

endangered by a tempest. (12-20) He receives a Divine assurance

of safety. (21-29) Paul encourages those with him. (30-38) They

are shipwrecked. (39-44)

1-11 It was determined by the counsel of God, before it was

determined by the counsel of Festus, that Paul should go to

Rome; for God had work for him to do there. The course they

steered, and the places they touched at, are here set down. And

God here encourages those who suffer for him, to trust in him;

for he can put it into the hearts of those to befriend them,

from whom they least expect it. Sailors must make the best of

the wind: and so must we all in our passage over the ocean of

this world. When the winds are contrary, yet we must be getting

forward as well as we can. Many who are not driven backward by

cross providences, do not get forward by favourable providences.

And many real Christians complain as to the concerns of their

souls, that they have much ado to keep their ground. Every fair

haven is not a safe haven. Many show respect to good ministers,

who will not take their advice. But the event will convince

sinners of the vanity of their hopes, and the folly of their

conduct.
12-20 Those who launch forth on the ocean of this world, with a

fair gale, know not what storms they may meet with; and

therefore must not easily take it for granted that they have

obtained their purpose. Let us never expect to be quite safe

till we enter heaven. They saw neither sun nor stars for many

days. Thus melancholy sometimes is the condition of the people

of God as to their spiritual matters; they walk in darkness, and

have no light. See what the wealth of this world is: though

coveted as a blessing, the time may come when it will be a

burden; not only too heavy to be carried safely, but heavy

enough to sink him that has it. The children of this world can

be prodigal of their goods for the saving their lives, yet are

sparing of them in works of piety and charity, and in suffering

for Christ. Any man will rather make shipwreck of his goods than

of his life; but many rather make shipwreck of faith and a good

conscience, than of their goods. The means the sailors used did

not succeed; but when sinners give up all hope of saving

themselves, they are prepared to understand God's word, and to

trust in his mercy through Jesus Christ.
21-29 They did not hearken to the apostle when he warned them

of their danger; yet if they acknowledge their folly, and repent

of it, he will speak comfort and relief to them when in danger.

Most people bring themselves into trouble, because they do not

know when they are well off; they come to harm and loss by

aiming to mend their condition, often against advice. Observe

the solemn profession Paul made of relation to God. No storms or

tempests can hinder God's favour to his people, for he is a Help

always at hand. It is a comfort to the faithful servants of God

when in difficulties, that as long as the Lord has any work for

them to do, their lives shall be prolonged. If Paul had thrust

himself needlessly into bad company, he might justly have been

cast away with them; but God calling him into it, they are

preserved with him. They are given thee; there is no greater

satisfaction to a good man than to know he is a public blessing.

He comforts them with the same comforts wherewith he himself was

comforted. God is ever faithful, therefore let all who have an

interest in his promises be ever cheerful. As, with God, saying

and doing are not two things, believing and enjoying should not

be so with us. Hope is an anchor of the soul, sure and stedfast,

entering into that within the veil. Let those who are in

spiritual darkness hold fast by that, and think not of putting

to sea again, but abide by Christ, and wait till the day break,

and the shadows flee away.
30-38 God, who appointed the end, that they should be saved,

appointed the means, that they should be saved by the help of

these shipmen. Duty is ours, events are God's; we do not trust

God, but tempt him, when we say we put ourselves under his

protection, if we do not use proper means, such as are within

our power, for our safety. But how selfish are men in general,

often even ready to seek their own safety by the destruction of

others! Happy those who have such a one as Paul in their

company, who not only had intercourse with Heaven, but was of an

enlivening spirit to those about him. The sorrow of the world

works death, while joy in God is life and peace in the greatest

distresses and dangers. The comfort of God's promises can only

be ours by believing dependence on him, to fulfil his word to

us; and the salvation he reveals must be waited for in use of

the means he appoints. If God has chosen us to salvation, he has

also appointed that we shall obtain it by repentance, faith,

prayer, and persevering obedience; it is fatal presumption to

expect it in any other way. It is an encouragement to people to

commit themselves to Christ as their Saviour, when those who

invite them, clearly show that they do so themselves.
39-44 The ship that had weathered the storm in the open sea,

where it had room, is dashed to pieces when it sticks fast.

Thus, if the heart fixes in the world in affection, and cleaving

to it, it is lost. Satan's temptations beat against it, and it

is gone; but as long as it keeps above the world, though tossed

with cares and tumults, there is hope for it. They had the shore

in view, yet suffered shipwreck in the harbour; thus we are

taught never to be secure. Though there is great difficulty in

the way of the promised salvation, it shall, without fail, be

brought to pass. It will come to pass that whatever the trials

and dangers may be, in due time all believers will get safely to

heaven. Lord Jesus, thou hast assured us that none of thine

shall perish. Thou wilt bring them all safe to the heavenly

shore. And what a pleasing landing will that be! Thou wilt

present them to thy Father, and give thy Holy Spirit full

possession of them for ever.
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