The rest were to follow on planks and various parts of the ship. In this way everyone was brought safely to land.
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.
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.
Biblical Museum.They were all saved notwithstanding —
I. THEIR FEARS TO THE CONTRARY. You have feared —
1. The power of the Evil One.
2. The subtlety of your own heart.
3. The world.
II. THE PLAY OF THE ELEMENTS.
1. The soft south wind of flattery.
2. The contrary wind of the world's opposition.
3. The fierce Euroclydon of adversity.
III. THE POOR HELPS THEY HAD. Every one had to shift for himself.
IV. THEIR GREAT VARIETY OF CHARACTER. Soldiers, sailors, landsmen.
(Biblical Museum.)I. THOSE ARE SAFE WHOM GOD HAS PLEDGED HIMSELF TO SAVE. We are constantly asking questions as to the numbers of the saved and the lost, and often rather try to make out a case for the smallest number. Some are fond of calling the Church "a Zoar" — "a little one" — we contract salvation to the dimensions of our own heart — "and my soul shall live!" let the rest be lost so that I am saved. On the contrary, how much there is in Scripture which, amidst the promises of the illimitable grace of God, points to the vast multitude of the redeemed! The law in all ages is that the heavens attract to themselves their own. When the world gets too wild in its will, God shuts up His own and bears them over. We often have our minds sorely perplexed by the residue of the vast populations. We are convinced that some are safe; but for the rest, where will they be found? I believe we need never despair, except for the hardened rend the hopelessly impenitent. We often behold the poor creature, ignorant and dark, and we say, "shall that be lost?" Or that heathen, "is there no hope?" or, amidst those superstitions which shock and shame religion, "is there no hope?" I know that there are hard religious creeds which affect to say so; but they are in harmony neither with the tone and structure of the Bible, the mission or the words of our Saviour, or the words of Paul. Why, how few comparatively are they who have what we call "an abundant entrance"! Here and there we behold a vessel in fall sail borne in upon the triumphant wave; but, on the contrary, what multitudes find, when they come to die, that all that was preserved to them was "the plank" of some promise — some "broken piece" of the ark of their hope. What shall I do with innumerable heretics, labouring over the waves, on their "broken pieces of the ship"? What shall I do with the Fearings, and Much-afraids, and Despondencys, which float together over the black sea, muttering their mournful elegies, who can see but little, but fall in despair on the character of God and His promises — who hold even those with a timid grasp? Well, I will believe that, "on boards" and "broken pieces of the ship," they escape "safe to land."
II. ALL MEANS ARE GOOD MEANS WHICH SAVE. In the matter of salvation how much we elevate conditions above grace! Yet no man is saved by ideal systems of salvation any more than ideal systems ever governed nations. Harrington's "Oceana," and More's "Utopia," and Plato's "Republic," and Bacon's "Atlantis," and Machiavelli's "Prince," are very healthful and pleasant reading, and they enlarge and strengthen the mind; but they never assist in the government of nations. And it is so with ideal systems of salvation. Men lay down as authoritatively the exact limits to which God can go in the provision for the salvation of a sinner, as they would lay down rules of arithmetic. These persons are like those who deny the possibility of miracle, and tie the Creator to the very creatures He has created. We must not confound our necessities with the necessity of the Divine procedure. It is true God has revealed Himself to us as conditioned by the laws of His own holiness; but how unconditioned He is in His provinces and arrangements of mercy we do well know. Some religious people have a religion full of symmetry. Every proposition grows out of the previous proposition. One would suppose, to hear them talk, that men are saved because they are able to reason correctly. How many make the reception of the gospel a mere matter of nomenclature, affixing the very conditions of salvation to the assent to terms not even understood. A minister once called upon a poor dying lad to console him in his last moments. He asked him if he had taken Christ in all His offices, and had for reply, "No, he'd never been taken by any officers." We smile at the poor lad, yet "the foolishness of preaching" saves. Words that fill scholars with contempt are the great powers of God unto salvation. "Boards" and "broken pieces of the ship" become the means for some small minimum of grace which supports the soul, and they are safe, while many a stately craft goes down by their side. I know a poor sister, whom the Lord dearly loves, although He has chastened her very sore. She was talking with me about her sons, who had very wickedly neglected her, and told me how she had agonised with God for them. She opened her Bible, and the first words she read were these, "I will contend with him that contendeth with thee: and I will save thy children." And if she dies tomorrow, she will trust their salvation on that plank. Oh, over the world there are thousands wrecked utterly, but for the "board" or "the broken piece of the ship."
III. ALL MEANS ARE GOOD MEANS WHICH SAVE. My friend, poor Becky Williams, sailed into heaven on a plank. To her, in her loneliness, one text had come, and that text was a glorious raft — it was one of Luther's little Bibles — "All that the Father hath given Me, shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out." She knew nothing of theological casuistry. Sometimes she was sneered at when she talked of faith, and was asked for a description of it. She could only give "All that the Father hath given Me," etc. Some people who had all creeds at their fingers' ends told her her faith was not clear. "No," she said, "I often feel that; but it is not the clearness or the darkness of my faith, it's in Him — it's in Him — 'All that the Father giveth Me,'" etc. The incumbent of the parish went out of his way to call upon her: told her that grace came through the sacraments — that she could not partake of grace without them. "I don't mind," said she, "how often I remember my dying Lord; but grace does not come only so — 'All that the Father giveth Me,'" etc. When she lay dying, they asked her if she had clear ideas of sin. She did not know well what they meant; but she repeated her text. "Do you feel safe?" "How can I be other than safe, 'All that the Father hath given Me,'" etc. "And if I speak about you in the church next Sabbath, after your funeral," said her minister, "what message shall I give?" "Only, 'All that the Father hath given Me,'" etc. And I say what comfortable words there are in Scripture (Isaiah 50:10). In the storm of darkness and unbelief it seems as if all is shipwrecked in thee, broken in pieces; and yet see what scattered glimpses, what broken, imperfect discoveries of Jesus Christ float up and down, and do at any time appear in thy spirit. Thou wilt see some if thou wilt look and watch for them. Cast thyself upon them; these are the broken planks, the most imperfect, darkest, narrowest glimpses of Christ. Such intimations are better than the most symmetrical body of theology. There are words which transcend definition. Such words are often the planks upon which the spirit floats in much fear and trembling into rest — safe to land: or light shines through some little chink of speech opening up to large and settled manifestations of Christ. Thus God has been saving multitudes never heard of. Thus many a sacred text has been the "board," the "broken piece of ship," on which souls have "escaped safe to land."
IV. GOD IS A GOOD CAPTAIN. IF THE SHIP IS LOST, HE SAVES THE CREW. There is land, and all who sail in the ship are safe. I often seem to walk along the shore, and I see the wild waves of life, and time, and death, casting at my feet some spent swimmers. The other evening, after I had been preaching near where I spent all my first days, a young man came and gave me his card. It was the name of one of my oldest friends — the superintendent then of a school where I was first a Sabbath school teacher. And I said, "How's your father?" to the young man. "Oh, he has been dead two years." Dead two years! I knew him so well; and I never knew him out of trouble. And I walked away, and said to myself, "He is safe to land. One more dropped down on the way — one memory more — one presence less — but 'safe to land.'" Pace with me the shores of the great ocean of death. How they are cast up by every tide, flung out from innumerable wrecked vessels. Here is an infant: its pretty lips closed; and all those pretty ways forever lost to us. What a mistake! No, no mistake — "safe to land." Here, at my feet, are the lovely tresses of one before whom there seemed to spread a life so redolent of every charm — the light of the home — those fingers will wake the keys no more — the eye has lost its light, and the lip its witchery. Precious life to be wrecked so soon! No, not wrecked — "safe to land." And here, see here is a veteran — a body broken in how many wrecks and seas; but the last breath and the last good-bye was a triumph he is "safe to land." The other day a sailor died. One who was waiting upon him said, "How is it with you?" "How! I see land ahead!" said he — "I see land ahead!" And he fell back — "safe to land." Gather up all the promises which, like so many planks, have floated over and sustained on death's waves, and you would build a ship to hold the Church. Oh, sinner, how wilt thou do without a plank? No "board" — no "broken piece of the ship." Wave on wave sucking thee in, and sucking thee down, engulfed within the triumphant wave.
(E. Paxton Hood.)I. OF THE COMMON EXPERIENCES OF HUMAN LIFE WHICH THE CHRISTIAN IS BOUND TO MEET AND SHARE WITH ALL THE WORLD RESIDES. If you open the Bible, you will find that, in the thought of Jesus Christ, life was to be a rough and rugged thing, even for hearts stayed on Him. You will find there passages meant to warn the disciple of the Euroclydon which was before him, and to show how he might take advantage of that Euroclydon, for the eternal welfare of his soul. We have made a long stride in our Christian life when we come to understand that, in giving our hearts to God, we have made no trade with Him whereby we shall be exempt from the experiences of common life. If you have taken your money and invested it, and the market rises, your little all will increase; but if the market falls, it will decrease in value. If you have set your heart upon a single thing in life to be realised in this world, and there are circumstances which you are able to command and control, you will have it; but if circumstances set in the opposite direction, you will have it not. One thing that the Christian finds early in life as he journeys toward the celestial city is this: that he is often placed by stress of circumstances in a position which he knew beforehand would be adverse to his temporal interest, but out of which he has no power to disentangle himself. Did not Paul know when in the peaceful harbour of Crete that that soft south wind would increase and become a Euroclydon? There are exterior circumstances that rule the day and carry the boat, so that Paul, Christian though he was, had no option but to go forward to meet these circumstances which he knew would be disastrous. This is an experience of us all. There is a common human life which you and I must lead; there are circumstances governing our lives — circumstances which, even if we know they mean certain disaster, we cannot avoid, but must embrace. That is the plane of commonality on which we stand, the position which we occupy with relation to all the world besides.
II. UNCOMMON CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCES. While it is true that we must face many a Euroclydon, it is also true that there is an uncommon experience as we meet and welcome that Euroclydon which is denied to the man whose soul is not stayed on Him. It is very curious and interesting to see how soon the captive on this weather-beaten ship becomes the comforter. Whenever a large ship goes to sea it is deemed advisable to have someone in the forecastle who can play an instrument. When on one of our exploring vessels it is necessary to send off a boat which shall become detached from the ship, to make inquiry or in search of information, there is always placed with that brave little band someone who can play an instrument. It is not necessary that he should be an adept or a professor of music; it is simply necessary that he should be able some way to lend cheer to the natural despondency of those who find themselves in the grip of an emergency out of which they see no way of release. Paul was the only man who could play the instrument among those two hundred and seventy-five weary and dejected souls — the only man who was himself. His alliance with God gave him his uncommon opportunity, his uncommon experience. You cannot tell much about a man when the sky is bright and blue over his head; but let the clouds gather, and then the manhood stands resplendent. You have no difficulty in estimating the manhood of Paul, on the one hand, and the sailors on the other, in their common experience. You cannot tell much about a man when the stars are bright; but once let the soft south wind ripen into the Euroclydon, once put a man into the adversity of human life, and then if there is that in his soul that has made connections with heaven; if there is a hope that has over-reached that fearful river which you and I call death; if there is a sense of immortality in his heart — all the manhood that is in him will leap to the front and you will have no difficulty in discriminating him. The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, impresses this simple truth; shows how, when the south wind is blowing softly, we may enfold our hearts in the love of God, so that no matter how fierce the Euroclydon, how many anchors are out at the stern, no matter how imminent the peril. a sense of security and deliverance will sustain and comfort.
III. FOR THE DISCIPLE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST THERE IS RESERVED THE SENSE OF THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE. We have been talking about the common experience which we share With the world beside, and the uncommon experience which differentiates us and gives us the advantage in the troubled hour; now a single word about the ultimate experience. The disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ has no question about the ultimate experience; he knows that he is held in the hollow of the Divine hand; knows there is no bark so fragile that it can sink beneath the wave and carry with it his immortal soul; knows that all the powers in the world above and in the world beneath are absolutely powerless to delay the ongoing of that soul of his to the pert and haven which Jesus Christ has destined for it. And this is his comfort, this is his cheer, his joy, the reason why he is willing to walk by faith when he cannot walk by sight; this is the reason why he can sing songs in the darkness of the blackest night. Be a practical Christian. Expect to meet life's Euroclydon, to master it, and let the uncommon experience as it comes to your life cheer your immortal soul with the thought that the ultimate experience shall be yours; that, after having met every storm and weathered every cape, because of your fidelity and devotion and Christlikeness, you shall find an entrance at last into the harbour of the city of God.
I. The first impression one receives in the study of this fascinating story is that of THE APOSTLE'S UNIQUE PERSONALITY, PERFECTLY ADAPTED TO THE DIVINE PURPOSES. From the beginning, the singular influence of his character is felt on all who surround him. The farther he goes and the more exigent the circumstances, the more distinctly does Paul loom into prominence and leadership. Captain, owner, centurion, and historian all do him obeisance. The captive Hebrew is master of every situation. This brief narrative is in some sense an epitome of the great apostle's entire life. It was not often or ever for long that "the south wind blew softly" over the seas on which he sailed. There were many other days in his career "when neither sun nor stars appeared and no small tempest lay upon him." He weathered more than one Euroclydon. His soul entered into peace at last only through the wreck of his buffeted and broken body. Of St. Paul's character and influence we cannot hope to say here anything new, but his demeanour amidst the scenes here described illustrates certain facts and truths of Scripture that we are impelled to notice briefly two of them.
1. The first is the reality of the spiritual world. Paul's insight reaches beyond the sensuous. "There stood by me this night an angel of God, whose I am and whom I serve." The voice of God penetrates his soul. His message from the "Holy of Holies" is no cunningly worded oracle, susceptible of many interpretations, concealing thought rather than expressing it. It is clear, terse, absolute: "I have seen an angel." "Thou must stand before Caesar." "God hath given thee all them that sail with thee." "There shall not a hair of your heads perish." There is a holy dogmatism which befits the Souls to whom God and angels and the world to come are actual entities. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him." To His friends He reveals all the mysteries of His love and grace.
2. The second thought suggested by the part which the apostle plays in this story is the old yet ever new one of the power of God's grace in man's heart and life. Grace loses nothing by having an inherently great nature for the basis of its work. Paul would have been a ruling spirit anywhere. In choosing Saul of Tarsus for the accomplishment of His purposes, God chose one of the mightiest of the sons of men, yet was there on this account no less but far greater opportunity for grace to work its marvels and its triumphs. Such was the man's natural greatness that grace had in him a wider sweep than in the case of smaller mortals. No doubt God can utilise not only relative but absolute weakness and ignorance for the accomplishment of His plans, yet He does not prefer weakness to strength. His choice of instruments and agencies proves this. His glory does not suffer by the use of greatest talent, ripest culture, most indomitable energy. As a rule. the most powerful men in His kingdom have been men of great intellectuality, of magnanimous spirit, of high and resolute purpose. God has never, either by His choice of agents or by any supernatural endowment of weakness or ignorance, put a premium on mediocrity and indolence.
II. THIS NARRATIVE MAKES IT EVIDENT THAT THE FORCE OCCASIONING AND SHAPING THE EVENTS WHICH IT RECORDS WAS THE PURPOSE AND PROVIDENCE OF GOD. The keynote of the story is sounded in those words to Paul, "Thou must stand before Caesar." Apparent hindrances to that plan had no real effect in delaying its consummation. The contrary winds, the multiplied landings, the transfer from ship to ship, the boisterous seas, the utter wreck "on a stern and rock-bound coast," and the tedious wintering in Malta, were all tributary to the fulfilment of a gracious and far-reaching design. It was none the less a single and controlling purpose, because of its complexity. "God fulfils Himself in many ways." We may not be able to define the exact relation of Paul's work in Rome to the subsequent spread of the gospel and the strengthening of the kingdom of Christ. And he was there by predestination, by design, in the direct providence of God. He kindled his fires not on the summits of the hills, like the Greeks when they announced the downfall of Troy, but in the crowded cities of the empire, from Jerusalem to Rome. Amid all the intricacies and cross activities and apparent in harmonies of his career, the purpose of God, vital, intelligent, and unconquerable, is the "spirit of life within the wheels."
III. THIS HISTORY ALSO VIVIDLY ILLUSTRATES THE PROVINCE OF THE HUMAN IN THE EXECUTION OF THE DIVINE PLANS. The zigzag course of the vessel during much of the voyage, shows us, as in diagram, the purpose of God as affected by human action, apparently deflected, modified, halted entirely amidst the breakers in "St. Paul's Bay," yet in reality, unchanged, unarrested, and always steadily moving to its destiny at Puteoli. Within the bounds of the Divine decree there is ample scope for all legitimate human action. It has been shown by competent sailors acquainted with the seas traversed by Paul, that all three of the ships which bore him were skilfully navigated; that soundest judgment was exercised from first to last in handling them. God's sovereignty and the free agency of man have occasioned no end of controversy. How God and the creature are united in operation is doubtless known and knowable only to God. Free beings are ruled but are ruled as free and in their freedom. The two co-exist, each in its integrity. Any doctrine which does not allow this is false to Scripture and destructive of religion. For practical purposes we may emphasise the function of the human. It is not irreverent to say that Paul must plant and Apollos must water if God is to give the increase. The purpose of God embraces the volition of the man. Three attitudes are possible in relation to that purpose. The creature may antagonise it, as the sailors unwittingly did when, under cover of casting out anchors, they would have slipped away to land, leaving the rest to go down with the ship. Man may stop short of the purpose of God, as the captain and the centurion doubtless did. The aim of the captain was simply to reach port in safety and unload his ship. The controlling purpose of the centurion was to deliver his distinguished prisoner to the praetorian guard. Or, lastly, the plan of the creature may be coincident with the providence of God, as was Paul's. "After I have been to Jerusalem," he says, "I must also see Rome." In all his prayers for the Church he desired that it might be God's will that he should visit them. "I longed to see you that I might impart unto you some spiritual gift." "I purposed to come unto you but was hindered hitherto." Paul's purpose was God's purpose. The lesson which we have studied enforces many important and practical truths. It suggests the use and rewards of consecrated gifts. It affirms the futility of every life which is in conflict with the Divine will. It teaches that the largest freedom for the soul is found within the bounds of the Divine purpose. It magnifies that grace which is essential to the salvation of great and lowly alike. It reveals how God's purpose is sometimes accomplished by deliverance from trial and sometimes by its patient endurance. To the true believer both deliverance and defeat are alike success. All things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose.
(W. S. Apsey, D. D.)
I. THE SELFISHNESS OF PAUL'S COMPANIONS.
1. The sailors. They were men accustomed to the sea, best able of all on board to take care of themselves in the event of the ship's going to pieces, charged moreover with the care of the lives with them.(1) Their overwhelming desire was to save themselves. "They were seeking to fall out of the ship" regardless of consequences. Life is dear to every man. We do not blame the sailors for wanting to escape — Paul wanted to escape probably as much as they did. But they are justly blamable for having no other pressing desire in their hearts than just to keep themselves alive. They were cowards of the most abject and truly heathenish sort.(2) They forgot others. There were the soldiers and the prisoners in their charge. Life was just as precious to them as to the sailors themselves. They believed in the struggle for existence. Brotherhood meant nothing to them. So they schemed to take the one boat, in which there seemed any hope of safety, and let the rest of the people on board take care of themselves. Just as though living were all there is to life.(3) The sailors abandoned their duty. They were guardians of the ship and all in it — especially the passengers. They were not trying to do right — they made no inquiry concerning it. They were trying to do only that which was pleasant for themselves. Let us be grateful to God that He has so constituted this world that those who live only with such selfish purposes are destined to be cheated of their gratification.
2. The soldiers. They had already made a decision to kill the prisoners whom they were guarding "lest any of them should swim out and escape" (ver. 42). They as well as the sailors showed themselves to be directed only by selfish motives.(1) They were going to commit a horrible crime because of a danger to themselves which was only as yet hypothetical. Roman jailers and guards were kept honest by being made responsible for their prisoners — life for life.(2) Their selfishness was not hindered by the brutality of their plan.(3) They were ungrateful, as selfish people always are. Paul had saved the lives of the soldiers (thus far at least) by preventing the abandonment of the ship by the sailors. The soldiers could not have managed it, and wreck would have been certain but for Paul's discovery of the attempt of the sailors to run away. Beside that, the soldiers as well as all others in the ship were indebted to Paul for his encouragement (ver. 34), which had led them to bestir themselves to take such measures as relieved the ship (ver. 38). But the soldiers cared nothing for these things. Gratitude played no part in their thinking.(4) Danger hardened them, as it did the sailors. Confronting death, one ought to have the most unselfish, pure, and noble feelings possible. All that is best in the heart ought then to be stirring. Yet how often the exact converse is true — that danger makes men forgetful of all but selfish interests, turns them into cowards, and brutalises them. Every one of us has known of people who were well thought of until some moment of danger showed how utterly selfish and base they were. And such a revelation is not unfair. It shows the true man. Crises come to us all in various ways.
II. We turn now to the beautiful and noble story of THE UNSELFISHNESS OF PAUL. The very same circumstances outwardly were at work upon him as upon the soldiers and sailors. The same thing revealed shame in them and glory in him.
1. The way in which Paul's unselfishness was exhibited.(1) In devotion to others rather than to himself. They thought only of their danger, and he thought only of them. He kept the sailors in the ship and so held fast to any possible chance of guidance into safety. He noticed the weakness of the ship's company through hunger, and led them to eat. He cheered them up by telling them that no one should be lost.(2) Paul's unselfishness was shown in practical ways. It was not Utopian, fanciful, subtly reactive upon self. For sometimes one is unselfish on a low level only to indulge selfish feelings of a high sort. But, that is selfishness just the same. Paul's helpfulness was very downright and business-like. His unselfishness was not dramatic and spectacular, but practical, and therefore successful. Being unselfish is not romantic, but prosaic and sometimes hard. It is for this reason all the more difficult to live out.(3) Paul encouraged those about him. He ate his bread as quietly as though there were no danger at all threatening, not forgetting his usual habit of thanking God for it (ver. 35). His example had a good effect. A cheerful heart makes others cheerful. And there is more unselfishness in being cheerful sometimes than is guessed.(4) These traits of Paul's unselfishness were brought out by danger. Notice that it was the same danger which brought out only selfishness in soldier and sailor. Again we are reminded that events do not give us our character, they only reveal it; and it is the same whether those events be pleasant or unpleasant. Either kind of fortune, good or bad, serves to bring out what is in us.
2. The cause of Paul's unselfishness as thus exhibited.(1) He had faith in God. This worked either way for him, whether he lived or died; God's will in any case would be accomplished, and that was enough for him. And he had faith in God's word to him, however hard of accomplishment it seemed. The waves and the winds now as ever were held in the hollow of the Almighty's hand. How can a man who is without faith in God be anything but selfish?(2) The cause of the way in which Paul's unselfishness showed itself was that in him grace and common sense worked together. Paul used his supernatural endowments as though they were natural. So his unselfishness worked along on everyday levels and was truly efficient.
3. The result of his unselfishness.(1) Bad men were thwarted in their evil designs. It is a part of the result of a good man's good life that it prevents sin as well as encourages to righteousness.(2) Paul himself was saved. He was not thinking of this chiefly. His care was for others, and he was taken care of himself. God always keeps watch of those who are doing His will.(3) The whole ship's company were saved (ver. 44).
III. FINAL LESSONS.
1. Faith in God should be the most vigorous element in our emotional being. It is the centre of all the Christian's life. On it rests his eternal salvation. On it rests his conduct of every day.
2. Let us believe in our safety from accident. We are perfectly safe until God's time for us to die has come. And then we should be unwilling to live.
3. Life is best spent in helping others. A self-centred soul becomes uncentred. We become what is best by giving out of that which is best in us. The way of the Cross, which is the way of supreme success, is the way of giving up.
(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)
I. THEIR DIFFICULTIES AND DANGERS. This part of my subject may be illustrated by attending to the difficulties and dangers which Paul and his fellow Christians met with on their voyage to Rome; for —
1. We have reason to believe that the number of Christians who were in the ship with the apostle was very small, when compared with the number of men that the ship contained, which we are informed was two hundred, threescore, and sixteen souls (ver. 37). And so also the number of the children of God, in any one period of time, is but small when compared with the rest of the world (Luke 12:32).
2. The apostle and his companions had but very indifferent company, which consisted of other prisoners, a band of soldiers, and the sailors which belonged to the ship: and thus it is with the Church of Christ while passing through this world; for they are as u lily among thorns (Song of Solomon 2:2), and like righteous Lot of old, are frequently vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked (2 Peter 2:7); with whom, to the grief of their souls, they are sometimes obliged to keep company.
3. That Paul and the rest of his fellow Christians met with contrary winds while on their passage, as appears by the fourth verse of this chapter: and thus it is sometimes with the Christian while on his passage through this world, for he meets with many things to oppose him, and which also may be compared to contrary winds, because they have a tendency to stop or drive him back while on his passage through this world to another.
4. We are informed also, in the ninth verse of this chapter, that the sailing of Paul and his companions was at this time dangerous: and thus it is with the saints while sailing through this world; for they are in danger through the abounding of iniquity, as they are also from the errors and heresies which are spreading around them.
5. That the apostle and the rest of his companions met with a great storm on their voyage (see vers. 14 and 18), and this also applies to the Christian, who meets with many storms on his voyage to heaven; and it is well for him that Christ is a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest (Isaiah 32:2); and that he is built on such a foundation that the most violent storms cannot move or destroy.
6. That while on their passage they lost sight of both sun and stars for many days, as appears from the twentieth verse of this chapter; which not only added to their danger, but also made their voyage uncomfortable to them; and thus it is sometimes with God's dear children while on their passage through this world to heaven, Christ the Sun of Righteousness is not seen by them for many days following each other, on account of the clouds which interpose between Him and them. The stars, moreover, or the ministers of the gospel are removed from them, so that their eyes cannot behold their teachers; which situation not only makes their voyage through this world the more dangerous, but also the more uncomfortable to them.
7. That so great was this storm, that all hope of salvation was gone (Psalm 69:2).
8. In the midst of their dangers and distress we are informed that Paul stood forth and said, "I exhort you to be of good cheer, for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you" (ver. 22). And thus also says the Redeemer concerning His Church and people, "they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of My hands" (John 10:28). For though the Christian's enemies come against him as a storm against the wall, yet the Lord will be their Strength, their Refuge, and their Shadow from the blast of the terrible ones (Isaiah 25:4). And —
9. Notwithstanding Paul was informed that not a life should be lost, but that God had given him all them that sailed with him, yet he made use of every prudent means for the preservation of their lives, as appears from vers. 17, 18, 19, 31, and 38 of this chapter. And thus it is also with God's people in a spiritual point of view, for although Christ hath said that they shall never perish, yet that promise does not set aside the use of those means which God hath appointed, in order to bring their salvation about. But, having taken notice of the difficulties and dangers of God's people on their passage to heaven, I proceed to take notice —
II. THE CERTAINTY OF THEIR ARRIVAL THERE — which is emblematically set forth in these words: and so it came to pass that they escaped all safe to land. And thus it shall be with all God's children, for notwithstanding the various difficulties and dangers to which they are exposed, they shall none of them prevent their safe arrival at the land of eternal rest, the certainty of which is built or founded upon —
1. The absolute promise of a faithful and unchangeable God, who hath said by the prophet Isaiah, "Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation" (Isaiah 45:17), and as it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18).
2. The certainty of the saint's arrival at glory is built also on their redemption by Christ, who hath redeemed them from the curse of a broken law, from all iniquity, and from wrath to come: and we are told that the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing to Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads (Isaiah 51:11); therefore it shall come to pass that they shall all surmount their difficulties and escape their dangers, and get safe landed at the last.
3. That the certainty of the saint's arrival at glory is built moreover on the perfection of the work of God the Spirit; concerning which the apostle says, being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). And if so, then it shall come to pass that they shall all escape their dangers, and get safe landed on Zion's sacred shore.
(From an old Author.)Missouri when she landed at Philadelphia on the 22nd of April. Some weeks before, this steamer came upon the Danmark in mid-ocean in a sinking condition. At once, with much labour and sacrifice, the passengers of the sinking ship were transferred to the Missouri. Everything was done for their comfort, and after much anxiety the vessel with her precious freight came safely to landing at Philadelphia. "Hundreds of voices blended in a great shout, and cheer upon cheer rent the air as the Missouri, with her precious cargo, which she had so gallantly rescued, arrived safely at her dock. Ferryboats and tugs which were passing added to the enthusiasm with their steam whistles. Brave Captain Murrell, who stood on the bridge of the steamer, was the cynosure of all eyes. He was at once surrounded by a great crowd, all bent on paying a tribute to his gallant services in saving so many lives." But there is a grander welcome than this awaiting that one who shall conduct some soul safe to the shores of heaven. And all heaven will rejoice over the fact of your rescuing that soul from death and bringing it with you to heaven.
(H. W. Beecher.)immortelle upon his grave.
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.).
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