« הקודםהמשך »
of the things which thou hast seen, and of those in which I will 17 appear unto thee : delivering thee from the Jewish people, and 18 from the Gentiles, to whom I now send thee; to open their eyes,
that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God; that they may receive forgiveness of sins,
and an inheritance among them that are sanctified through faith, 19 which is in me. From that time, 0) king Agrippa, I was not 20 disobedient to the heavenly vision : but declared first to them at
Damascus, and afterwards to those at Jerusalem, and through all the country of Judea, and then to the Gentiles wherever I came,
that they should repent, and turn to God, performing deeds 21 worthy of repentance. On account of these things, the Jews
seizing me in the temple, attempted to have killed me with their 22 own hands. Having therefore obtained help from God, I con
tinue until this day, testifying both to small and great ; saying
nothing but what the prophets and Moses have declared should 23 be ; that the Messiah having suffered, and being the first who
rose from the dead, should discover light to the people, and to
the Gentiles. 24 And as he was thus making his defence, Festus said with a loud
voice, Paul, thou art distracted : much study driveth thee to mad. 25 ness. But he replied, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but utter 26 the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these
things, to whom also I speak with freedom ; for I am persuaded
none of these things are hidden from him, since this is not an 27 affair transacted in a corner. O king Agrippa, believest thou the 28 prophets ? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto 29 Paul, Thou almost persuadest me to be a Christian. Paul said,
I would to God that not only thou, but also all that hear me
this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except 30 these bonds. And as he said this, the king arose, not able to hear
any more, and the governor, and Bernice, and those who sat with $1 them. And when they had retired, they spake one with another,
saying, This man hath done nothing worthy of death, or of bonds. 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, This man might have been set at li
berity, if he had not appealed unto Cæsar ; but now he has fout it out of our power to discharge him.
REFLECTIONS. Perfectly does our blessed Redeemer, in this instance, appear to have answered his promise, that when his disciples were brought before governors and kings for his sake, it should be given them in that hour what they should speak: For indeed it is impossible to iinagine what could have been said more suitable, or what more graceful, than this discourse of Paul before Agrippa ; in which the seriousness and spirituality of the Christian, the boldness of the apostle, and the po
* This, as Beza observes, is the exact import of the word, and is here used with great propriety.
Jiteness of the gentleman and the scholar, appear in a most beautiful contrast, or rather a most happy union.
There was no appearance of flattery, in congratulating himself upon an opportunity of speaking before one skilled in the manners and in the records of the Jews; for the more they had been attended to, with the greater advantage would the cause of Christianity have appeared. There was no arrogance in his insisting upon the strictness of his former life ; since those things which were once gain to hin, he had long since counted loss for Christ. The excellency of the end that inspired him was proportionable to the manner in which he was impressed with it. Well may they serve God instantly day and night, who have the hope of a happy resurrection before them; nor is the hope presumptuous and vain, since it is founded on a divine promise. Why should it seem incredible with any, that he who gave life should restore it ; that God should raise the dead?
It was this expectation that supported the Christians, while Saul breathed out threatenings and slaughter against them ; while mad with a profane and impious rage against Jesus of Nazareth, he compelled them to blaspheme, and persecuted them even to strange cities. But a conduct like this must occasion to him the keenest remorse, when he came to know what he did, and to see how gracious and condescending a Lord he had been persecuting in his members. When he took so gracious a method to reclaim him, it is no wonder that it.left an indelible impression on his memory and on his heart. Indeed the story is so pleasant, and so instructive, that we may well bear to read it a second and a third time; or rather may rejoice in it, as so many instructive circumstances are added to those which we before endeavoured to illustrate and improve.
What can be more affecting than the view which our Lord here gives us of the state in which the gospel found men, in comparison with that into which it was intended to bring them? A gospel-ministry was to open their eyes before blinded, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God; that they might receive the remission of their sins, and an inheritance among them that are sancti. fied. Enlighten, O Lord, the dark corners of the earth ; vindicate the wretched slaves of Satan into the glorious liberty of the children of God, and adopt them to that inheritance which thou hast prepared for thy sanctified ones.- Wonderful scheme of divine goodness! and happy the men who are employed in promoting it! Let the profane world call their zeal madness, and account for it in a less decent and candid manner than «Festus himself did ; these would be found the qvords of truth and sobriety, and the God of truth and of wisdom will approve them as such, when the wisdom of the world shall all appear foolishness and madness.
God grant that none of us may rest in being almost persuaded to be Christians ; when convictions begin to open, let us follow the celestial ray whithersoever it leads us, and not be disobedient to the heavenly vision. Would to God, that all who shall read or hear this discourse, might be not only almost, but altogether prevailed upon to be
Christians, and might attain to a temper like that of the blessed Paul, even though his bonds were not to be excepted! For that religious joy which such a disposition must introduce, would render chains, yet heavier than his, light; and they would quickly be transformed into ornaments of glory which shall deck the soul in the presence of God, with a lustre infinitely superior to that which the iadem of Agrinjra, or the robe of Festus, could.
Paul sets out on his voyage to Rome, and having suffered greatly in a storm,
is assured of his preservation by a vision. Ch. xxvii. 1-26.
1 D AUL's appeal to Cesar could not be recalled ; and therefore,
I as it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul, and some other prisoners, lo a centurion of the Au2 gustan cohort, whose name was Julius. And going on board a
ship of Adramyttis, we weighed anchor, intending to sail by the 'coasts of the lesser Asia; Aristarchus a Macedonian, a Christian 3 of Thessalonica, being with us. And the next day we reached
Sidon : and Julius treating Paul with great humanity, permitted
him to go to his friends in that place, and to enjoy the benefit of 4 their care, to furnish him for his voyage. And weighing anchor
from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were 5 contrary. And sailing through the sea that lies over-against Ci
licia and Pamphylia, we came to the port of Myra, a city of Lycia. 6 And there the centurion finding a ship of Alexandria bound for 7 Italy, put us on board it. And when we had sailed slowly forseveral
days, and were hardly got over-against the point of Cnidus, the
wind not permitting us to make greater disfraich, we sailed un8 der Crete, over-against the promontory of Salmone : and pas
sing it with difficulty, we came to a certain place called The Fair
Havens, in the neighbourhood of which was the city of Lasea. 9 And as much time was, spent, and sailing was now hazardous, be
cause the fast of expiation* was already over, and the winter was 10 coming on, Paul exhorted them, saying unto them, Sirs, I perceive
this voyage will be attended with injury and great damage, not 11 only to the lading and the ship, but also to our lives. But the
centurion paid greater regard to the pilot, and the master of the 12 vessel, than to those things which were spoken by Paul. And as
the haven was not commodious to winter in, the greater part of the company advised to set sail from thence, if they might possi
bly reach to Phenice, to winter there ; which is a haven of Crete, 13 looking to the south-west, and north-west. And as the south wind
* This fast was the day of atonement, which was kept on the 25th of our September: at which time sailing in the Mediterranean is unsafe on accouut of the Michaelmas flows. Vol. I.
blew gently, supposing they were secure of their purpose, they 14 weighed anchor, and sailed on close to the shore of Crete. But
not long after, the ship was in great danger, as there arose against 15 it a tempestuous wind, which is called Euroclydon*. And as the
ship was violently hurried away, and was not able to bear up 16 against the wind, we gave her up, and were driven. And run
ning under a certain island called Clauda, we were hardly able to 17 get masters of the boat: which when they had hoisted up, they
uscd all the helps they could, under-girding the ship to keep her
from bulging ; and fearing lest they should fall upon the quicksands, 18 they struck sail, and so were driven before the wind. And as we
were exceedingly tossed by the storm, the next day they lightened 19 the ship, by throwing over-board the heaviest wares; and the third
day we cast out with our own hands the very tackling of the ship. 20 Now as neither sun nor stars appeared for several days, and no
small tempest still pressed upon us, all remainder of hope that 21 we might be delivered, was taken away. And when there was great
want of food, all on board were quite dispirited, then Paul standing in the midst of them, said, Sirs, you ought to have hearkened to
me, and not to have loosed from Crete, and so to have gained † 22 this injury and loss. Nevertheless, even now I exhort you to be of
good courage; for there shall be no loss of any life among you ; 23 but only of the ship. For there appeared to me this night an 24 angel of the God whose I am, and whom I worship, saying, Fear
not, Paul; thou must be presented before Cæsar; and behold,
God hath given thee the lives of all of them that sail with thee. 25 Wherefore take courage, Sirs, for I trust in God that it shall be
so, according to the manner in which it hath been spoken to me: 26 But we must be cast upon a certain island.
REFLECTIONS. We see in this renewed instance the great force of a virtuous character, and of a truly worthy and honourable behaviour, towards engaging the esteem of all around us. Julius the centurion had a reverence and affection for Paul, which, as in the beginning of this voyage it procured for him the satisfaction of conversing with his friends at Sidon, and receiving the fruit of their affection, so it was in the progress of it the occasion of saving this great apostle's lifi; and with it that of the rest of the prisoners. Let us learn thus to soften the fierce; and to convince the prejudiced, and humbly trust in that God who, if our ways please him, can turn our enemies into friends, and can preserve and bless us, by means of those who were intended to be only the instruments of affliction.
From the account which is here given us of the danger and distress which Paul and his companions suffered upon the mighty waters, let us
* Or, in modern phrase, a Levanter. See Shaw's Trav. p. 358_-361.
+ “ Gained” is here an improper word. The passage is better rendered, “ Ye should have followed my advice, and not have loosed from Crete to get “ this,” &c. W.
learn to pity those who, being providentially engaged in a sea-faring life, are often in such deaths as these. When we hear, as it may be we do while far from the shores of our island, the stormy winds raging around us, and see the effects of that fury in those stupendous instances which sometimes appear, let us send up, as it were upon their rapid wings, our compassionate cries to that God who holds them all in his fists, that he would help and save those that are ready to be swallowed up quick in a watery grave, and perhaps many of them, while just on the brink of eternity, in the number of those that are of all others most unprepared for it.—Happy the man, in whatever extremities of danger, that is conscious of a relation to the God of heaven, as his God and his father; that can say, like Paul, in this blessed parenthesis, whose I am, and whom I serve! Let us, when we can use the language, take the comfort of it, and commit ourselves to the guardian care of our God with cheerfulness: He knoweth them that are his, and will take care of his own. Let our faith puț a reality into all his promises, that it shall certainly be, even as he hath spoken unto us. Thus let us encourage ourselves in the Lord our God, and the event shall not shame our hopes; but we shall find by happy experience, that God will not only save us from ruin, but conduct us to joy as well as to safety everlasting. Amen.
Paul and his companions are at length shipwrecked, but all escape with their
lives. Ch. xxvii. 27, &c.
THIS violent storm which we met with in our voyage had now 27 1 continued thirteen days and nights. And when the fourteenth
night was come, as we were tossed up and down in the Adriatic
sea, the mariners suspected about midnight, that they drew near 28 to some land : and sounding the depth they found it twenty fa,
thoms ; and having gone a little way from thence, and sounding 29 again, they found it only fifteen fathoms. And fearing lest they
should fall upon some rocky shore, they cast four anchors out of 30 the stern, and wished that the day would break. But when the
mariners endeavoured to flee out of the ship, and had let down the
boat into the sea, under pretence that they were about to carry out 31 anchors from the ship-head, Paul said to the centurion and the
soldiers, Unless these men continue in the ship, ye cannot be 32 saved*. Then the soldiers cut off the cords of the boat, and let 33 it fall off before they had got into it. And while the day was com
ing on, Paul exhorted them all to take some food, saying, To-day you are looking for the fourteenth day since the storm began, and
* The promise of saving their lives being upon condition that they took the most prudential methods the present circumstances would admit.