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storm arose, which increased to a violent tempest, the wind blowing what is called a Levanter, which ranges from any point to the east between north and south. So terrible was this tempest, that the ship could not bear up in it; so she was allowed to drive, and presently came to the south of the small island of Clauda, which lies a short distance from the coast of Crete. Here it was with the greatest difficulty that they could secure the boat, which however they were able to do; and then so violent was the sea, that for fear the timbers of the vessel should part and open, they managed to take some turns of the cable round the whole ship to secure her more firmly. After this, considering that they were immediately opposite the dangerous sand banks called Syrtis, which lay on the coast of Africa in the direction of the wind, they lowered their masts and yards to prevent the too rapid progress of the ship, which thus drifted unmanageably. When this tremendous storm had continued a whole day, they lightened the ship by casting some things overboard : on the third day however, as the danger became greater, all the tackling and furniture of the ship were thrown overboard; a work in which all hands engaged, including prisoners and passengers. The storm continued for many days, during which the sky was so overcast, that they could neither see the sun by day, nor the stars by night; and as they did not possess the means of knowing their course so common in these days, they were entirely at a loss to guess where they were; and no one had any hope that they could be saved from foundering.

All the people in the ship had been a long time in a state which made them careless of food, or unable to take

Paul then stood forth amongst them, and reminded them that they ought to have attended to the advice he gave them at the Fair Havens, where, if they had remained, they would not have been exposed to such peril and damage; but he cheered them up, desiring them to take courage, for though the ship would be destroyed, no man's life would be lost. He told them the reason why he thus assured them of their safety. In the previous night, the angel of God had appeared to him, that God to whom he belonged, and in whose service he was engaged. The angel had told Paul not to fear. It was ordered in the providence of God, that he should be brought before the emperor; and God had given to him the lives of all those persons that were in the ship with him. Paul reported this vision to his companions, bidding them take courage, for that he had firm confidence in God's word; he felt assured that what had been promised by the angel in God's name, would certainly come to pass. However though the lives of all would be saved, yet the vessel would be cast upon some island thereabouts.

The tempest continued for a whole fortnight, and the ship was tossed, and drifted hither and thither in the sea, at the bottom of the Adriatic gulph. In the fourteenth night however, about midnight, the sailors thought that they were nearing some coast. They heaved the lead, and got soundings of twenty fathoms; a little further on the soundings were only fifteen fathoms; then they began to fear that the ship would strike in the dark on some rocks of the coast they were approaching, so they let go four anchors astern, anxiously expecting the daylight. The crew had privately arranged a plan amongst themselves, to make their own escape in the boat; which they lowered for the purpose, pretending that it was in order to let go an anchor from the fore-part of the ship. Paul however informed the centurion and the soldiers that were with him, of the intention of the sailors, declaring that unless the crew remained in the ship, the lives of the others could not be saved. The soldiers immediately prevented the departure of the sailors, by cutting the ropes by which the boat was being lowered into the sea. Ву this means the boat fell into the sea.

Meanwhile the day began to break, and Paul urged all who were on board to take some food; for fourteen days they had not been in a situation to take any meal, and now it was absolutely necessary that they should eat, in order to support their strength in what was yet before them. They might be convinced that they should be carried safely through everything, not the least harm should happen to any one of them. The apostle then himself set the example, and offering thanks to God as he took the bread before them all, he broke it, and began to eat. It is not clear whether the apostle by this act may not have intended the more significant token appointed in the Lord's supper. Every one felt encouraged, and each took his portion of food ; the number of persons in the ship being no less than two hundred and sixteen. Each person ate what he wanted, and then, in order to lighten the ship, they threw overboard the whole of the cargo, which consisted of wheat.

As soon as it was broad daylight, they found themselves near to some coast, without being able to tell what country it belonged to. They chose a kind of creek, where there was a beach, as the spot where they would desire to run the ship ashore. Then they cut the cables, and set the vessel free; and slackening the tiller-rope, they spread a sail before the wind, and ran the vessel ashore. The ship happened to take ground in a spot where there was a tremendous surf. The fore part struck and remained firm, but the stern part was speedily broken up by the violence of the sea.

The Roman soldiers proposed to kill their prisoners, to prevent any of them from escaping from their charge by swimming ashore. Their captain however, was anxious to preserve the life of Paul, and therefore prevented this cruel act. He gave orders that those who could swim should throw themselves into the sea, and try to get to land first. Each of the remaining persons made his escape from the wreck as he best could. Some clung to spars, others to fragments of the vessel; and by these means every one came safely to the shore.

APPLICATION.

1. The first thing that strikes us at the opening of this portion, is the constant attachment of Luke and Aristarchus to the Apostle. Though they had not personally shared with him the inconveniences and dangers which had resulted from the first attack upon him in the temple at Jerusalem, yet they had sympathised with all his feelings, watched his progress, and doubtless had ministered to him the comfort of christian friendship, during his long detention at Cæsarea ; and now when he was to be taken as a prisoner to Rome, they voluntarily shared with him whatever might befal him by the way, and at the emperor's court. The constancy of christian friendship is a sweet foretaste of that union which shall be perfected when the Lord Jesus shall gather his saints around him; and is the merciful means which the Saviour employs to impart spiritual comfort to those of his people whom he calls into trying circumstances for his glory. His own Spirit in one of his members cheers and encourages another of his members in whom the same Spirit dwells; and the bond of friendship resulting from such union, differs from the natural kindly affections of man to man in the world, in that it flows from one and the same source, even the one Spirit of Christ working in each.

QUESTION. Towards whom do my affections go out most strongly ? Have I reason to believe that those affections are under the influence and guidance of the Spirit of Christ ? Have they been proved to be abiding ? Have they administered comfort under trial ?

2. The history of this voyage and shipwreck contains many powerful illustrations of the manner in which God permits his people to be placed in imminent danger, while he holds them safely up, so that no real evil can befal them. It shews too how, in such cases, the influence of christian wisdom is manifested, while the confidence of christian faith is put to the test. To the eye of the centurion, or of the master of the vessel, there was no more sure protection for Paul than for the meanest pagan sailor in the ship; yet had the Lord given his angels charge of that unmanageable vessel for Paul's sake, so that the

lives of all on board were preserved. While they were tossed up and down in Adria, not knowing whither they drifted, with no knowledge of their track, so that at any moment in the darkness of night they felt they might have been dashed upon a rock, the agents of Him with whom darkness is not dark were warily directing the course by surer signs than the stars or the sun would have been to the sailors; and not a wave that washed the deck could have power to sweep away a single sailor into the sea. The same process has been repeated thousands of times; and many of the Lord's people have been similarly guarded through like dangers. It has pleased God to leave upon record, in His holy word, the history of the hidden causes which influenced the circumstances of Paul's vessel, in order that the eye of faith might be enlightened to perceive the same agencies actively engaged for the preservation of his people generation after generation; and while the worldly mind knows nothing of such special protection, and smiles or sneers at the notion of a minutely directing Providence, the simple faith of the christian lays hold of the general promises, and applies them as confidently in his own case, as Paul did a particular promise upon this occasion. It is written, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered ;” and again, “ All things work together for good to them that love God;" and again, “ Fear not little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” The numberless proniises constantly recurring in the word of God stand in the place of that special revelation to Paul in the midnight storm; and the heart that can feel strong to say of Christ, “ whose I am, and whom I serve,” will have the confidence given to him in trying circumstances, which shall give him courage like Paul's.

QUESTION.

Have I ever been in circumstances of great peril? How far did my feelings at that time resemble the courage of confidence in Christ? Have I reason to hope that others may have been preserved through danger, because the providence of God was manifested for me as a true christian? or can I only rejoice that I happened to escape, because I was in company with those to whom providential protection was promised ?

3. Without supposing that Paul spoke by prophetic inspiration, when in the Fair Havens he warned the centurion and the master of the vessel that it was dangerous to attempt further

at that season of the year, we may observe the superiority of the simple good sense which appears in the apostle's warning, over the sailor's experienced wisdom, influenced as it was by the desire to advance his voyage, and without any sense of

progress in the

voyage

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