But it was not long before a cyclone called the Northeaster swept down across the island.
I. HOPE IS A CONSTANT RESIDENT OF THE HUMAN SOUL. Thou didst make me hope upon my mother's breasts" (Psalm 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" (ver. 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" (ver. 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" (ver. 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.
But not long after there arose...a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.
Christian Age.No landsman who has never been in a storm at; sea can truly picture one. The description in our lesson is allowed by those who know to be one of the best ever written. It is on record that Lord Nelson read this chapter on the morning of the battle of Copenhagen, and it is a fact that the ships at that battle, as well as others in which Nelson had the command, were anchored by the stern (an unusual thing), as was the ship in our lesson. From this thrilling narrative we may gather some useful lessons.
1. God's particular knowledge of the whereabouts of His people.
2. His power to bless under all circumstances. See Paul's courage and self-possession. Contrast with sailors. The reason, his faith in God and his confidence in His word.
3. The value of real religion. It gives rest of soul in times of trial. Ensures final safety. Enables its possessors to be benefactors and comforters to others. Let us have Jesus as our Pilot, then always safe in our voyage of life.
I. NOT WINDS AND WAVES with their violence; for winds and waves must obey the Almighty.
II. NOT MEN WITH THEIR DESIGNS AND PLANS; for the Lord says, Resolve, and it will come to nothing.
III. NOT OUR OWN HEART, with its doubts and anxieties; for comfort comes from above: fear not.
(K. Gerok.)1. In his faith in God.
2. In his pastoral fidelity.
3. In his undaunted courage.
(K. Gerok.)1. Jonah flees from the presence of the Lord; Paul journeys in the service of the Lord.
2. Jonah brings the wrath of God on his fellow passengers; Paul becomes the comfort and safety of his.
3. Jonah is rescued from the jaws of death; Paul brings 276 souls to land.
4. Jonah goes to Nineveh to preach repentance; Paul goes to Rome to proclaim the gospel with the sacrifice of his own life.
I. THE STORM.
1. It may be compared to the equinoctial gale, coming with the force of a hurricane. The description reminds us of Psalm 107:25-27. Terror seized the crew and soldiers; "all hope was taken away." The compass was not yet invented, and the sailor's chart depended upon their observation of the stars, or the course of the sun. No rift in the clouds by night or day gave any knowledge. The whistling tempest, the moaning waves, the roaring breakers — these were the parts in the minor music of their despair.
2. Yet God was there. That storm, like every other since, had its meaning. A seeming evil is not the hiding of God's face. All is not dark which seems dark. Above the tempest; the sun shone every day in all his glory, and at night every star stood out as clear and beautiful as though their light were seen everywhere. In all this scene of despair an angel of God had come upon the deck of the ship (vers. 23, 24).
3. In the midst of that awful gale the apostle, pale and weakened from long fasting, stood up. It was he who had made Felix tremble. The voice which had almost persuaded king Agrippa was heard above the raging of the sea (vers. 21-25). The prisoner was from henceforth the captain. The centurion, accustomed to speak with authority, became the obedient servant of his prisoner.
4. Although he had thus spoken, there was no abatement in the tempest. They drifted at the mercy of the gale until midnight of the fourteenth day, when they awoke in the midst of the breakers. But even in that place "all were of good cheer." No other event; more clearly mirrors the power of the apostle over men; or, shall we not rather say, "Christ, who had dispelled all fears in the storm on Genessaret, wrought good cheer in that ship upon the Adriatic through His apostle"?
5. The tent maker, who could pray while he worked, could work while he prayed. He who, in the beginning of the voyage, had shown his interest in every preparation, would not leave the post of danger in the hour of trial. We are to pray for the Sick; but when the hour has come for us to give the medicine, we must give the medicine, and we can pray while we are giving it. The fireman can pray as he ascends the ladder to save the child. The citizen can pray while he cares for his neighbour's goods. Judging from what we know of his nature, the most active man on that ship was Paul; and this active man prayed without ceasing.
6. The promise was, "Lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee." It was not at all necessary for God to save the whole ship's company in order to prolong Paul's life that he might stand before Nero; but it was on Paul's account that the rest were saved. It was as when Lot by his presence kept back the impending fiery storm from Sodom. No real disciple can ever know the full extent of his influence upon the ungodly.
II. WITH THIS STORM AS A BACKGROUND, AND THE PROMISE GIVEN, WE ACCEPT THE GREAT FACT; namely —
1. The decreed certainty of their salvation. The sailors disbelieved, as they showed by endeavouring to escape in the boat. The centurion and his company may have feared, but Paul never doubted. The scene declares his unbounded faith. When morning had come, they could partially see the land before them through the rain and fog. "And it came to pass that," by swimming, and floating upon pieces of the wreck, "they escaped all safe to land." The Divine promise was as much of a fact as the salvation itself. Whatever God declares shall come to pass will come to pass. Around this shipwreck has arisen the question, Was the promise based solely upon the Divine will, or upon the Divine foreknowledge? In answer, we point to —
2. The condition embraced in the decree. Paul never ceased his vigilance. If they were to be saved without a condition, surely all this watching was in vain. The Divine promise was based on the free efforts of those on board. Thus the sailors were preparing to leave the ship when he, who had declared the certainty of their coming to land safely, said, "Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved." There was reason in these words. The sailors understood managing the ship, the soldiers could have done nothing. The Divine account took in the skill of the crew.
(D. O. Mears.)
Christian World.It is an interesting confession that Mr. Moody makes, that when the Spree, on which he made his passage home, was thought to be sinking, "it was the darkest hour of his life." "My thoughts," he says, "went out to my loved ones at home — my wife and children, anxiously awaiting my coming — my friends on both sides of the sea — the schools and all the interests so dear to me — and realised that perhaps the next hour would separate me forever from all these, so far as the world was concerned: I confess it almost broke me down...I could not endure it. I must haze relief, and relief came in prayer." A good deal of unreal talk is indulged in about the Christian taking no heed of death, and welcoming it under any form in which it may come. If a man did get into such a state, he would simply have attained to a state of supreme selfishness. He would be cruelly and callously careless of the pain to all who loved him, and would resemble a man who rejoiced simply because he was going to exchange a post of arduous, earthly service for his Master for a life of pure, spiritual enjoyment. Is that Christianity? It was not Paul's idea of it. He looked for the "far better," but he wanted still more greater opportunities of present service, and he was prepared to sacrifice his hopes of heaven, if need be, for his work's sake. Paul was not particularly cheerful at Ephesus, when, with the presentiment of early death upon him, he took a final farewell of his friends. The true Christian loves his life, and shudders at the "figure clothed in grey," though he does not dread death "as one that has no hope."
Scientific Illustrations., S. S. Times.The frigate bird (Figata) spreads its wings to the extent of three yards, and its power of flight is, therefore, very great. When a hurricane arises it mounts up far above the storm, and remains in these empyrean regions until the tempest is overpast. In consequence of their immense expansion of the wing they can sustain themselves in the air for days together without taking or requiring rest. The human soul, like the frigate bird, possesses a power to rise above its storms. Upon the pinions of faith it can ascend above the tempests of time, and calm itself in the prospects of immortality. No storms can beat it down, for it possesses a spirituality which, as Dr. Croley says, enables it to rise higher and higher with every fresh wave of its wing.
And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind. — In the Greek, Could not eye the wind. This directs attention to a peculiarity of ancient Oriental ships. In the Egyptian sculptures, the war galleys have often at the prow a lion's head or a ram's head, with the eyes clearly represented, and looking ahead of the ship. In the Khorsabad sculpture copied by Layard in "Nineveh and its Remains," the ship is in the form of a sea monster, with a horse's head as the prow, a nondescript body forming the bulk of the vessel, and a fish tail forming the elevation at the stern. The Oriental ship was thus conceived of as an animal: its figure head was really the head of the animal form; and the figure head at the prow was balanced by the figure tail at the stern. This conception of a ship as a sea animal was not alien to the sailors of the Mediterranean at the time of Paul. In the paintings on the walls of Herculaneum we see several ships, not only with swan-head prows, but with gigantic eyes painted on either side of the swelling bulk beneath the swan necks. The vessel thus had two pairs of eyes — the small eyes in the swan's head, and the large eyes on the bow. In other cases, the whole bow was a gigantic human head; but even in such instances a well-defined tail is sometimes shown in the paintings. It is worth noting that a relic of this custom still survives on the Mediterranean, many of the vessels still having large eyes painted on the bow; and the swift Turkish skiffs, with long and high prows and sterns, which recall the form of the ancient animal ships, are still called "swallows." Chinese junks are always supplied with eyes on their bows, and the traveller who asks the significance of the custom is told, "Junk no have eyes; no can see."
(S. S. Times.)
We let her drive. —Hartford Courant, a "Weekday sermon to the business men of Hartford," based on this text. The lesson of it was obvious. There are many times when, in the providence of God, there is nothing for us to do but to stand still and wait till a storm has blown itself out. It may be a financial storm. It may be a gale of popular fanaticism. It may be an attack of disease. It may be a new flurry of temptations. There may seem to be nothing for the believer to do hopefully. At all events he can wait — and trust.
(H. C. Trumbull, D. D.)
PeopleAristarchus, Augustus, Julius, Paul
PlacesAdramyttium, Adriatic Sea, Alexandria, Asia, Cauda, Cilicia, Cnidus, Crete, Cyprus, Fair Havens, Italy, Lasea, Lycia, Malta, Myra, Pamphylia, Phoenix, Salmone, Sidon, Syrtis, Thessalonica
TopicsBeat, Burst, Carried, Course, Euraquilo, Euroclydon, Force, Furious, Hurricane, Island, Mountains, Named, North-east, Northeaster, Rushed, Ship, Shore, Stormy, Struck, Swept, Tempestuous, Violent, Wind
Outline1. Paul shipping toward Rome,
10. foretells of the danger of the voyage,
11. but is not believed.
14. They are tossed to and fro by a storm;
41. and suffer shipwreck;
44. yet all come safe to land.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesActs 27:1-44
LibraryA Short Confession of Faith
'...There stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve.'--ACTS xxvii. 23. I turn especially to those last words, 'Whose I am and whom I serve.' A great calamity, borne by a crowd of men in common, has a wonderful power of dethroning officials and bringing the strong man to the front. So it is extremely natural, though it has been thought to be very unhistorical, that in this story of Paul's shipwreck he should become guide, counsellor, inspirer, and a tower of strength; and …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts
A Total Wreck, all Hands Saved
Tempest and Trust
Seasons of Covenanting.
The Wyclif of the East --Bible Translation
Of the Practice of Piety in Fasting.
Upon Our Lord's SermonOn the Mount
Appendix xv. The Location of Sychar, and the Date of Our Lord's visit to Samaria.
First Missionary Journey Scripture
Pastoral and Personal
Second Sunday Before Lent
That the Christian Miracles are not Recited, or Appealed To, by Early Christian Writers Themselves So Fully or Frequently as Might have Been Expected.
Meditations Before Dinner and Supper.
The Wisdom of God
The Doctrine of Angels.
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