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34 continue fasting, having taken next to nothing. Therefore I ex
hort you to take some food, since this is proper for your safety: 35 for not a hair shall fall from the head of any of you. And when
he had spoken thus, and had taken bread, he gave thanks to God 36 before them all, and having broken it, he began to cat. And being 37 all encouraged, they also took some food. And we who were
in the ship were in all no less than two hundred and seventy38 six souls. And being satisfied with food, they once more lightened 39 the ship, and cast out the corn into the sea. And when it was
day they had the shore in sight, but they did not know the land ; but they perceived a certain creek, having a shore convenient for land
ing, into which they were minded, if they were able, to have 40 thrust the ship. And when they had weighed their anchors, they
committed the ship to the sea, at the same time loosing the rud.
der bands, and hoisting up the main sail to the wind, they made 41 for the shore. But falling on a place where two seas met, they - ran the ship aground ; and the fore part stuck fast, and remained
immovable, while the hinder part was broken to pieces by the 42 force of the waves. And the counsel of the soldiers was, that
they should kill the prisoners, lest any one should swim away, 43 and escape. But the centurion, being desirous to save Paul,
hindered them from their purpose, and commanded those that
could swim, to throw themselves out first into the sea, and get 44 away to land : which they did ; and as for the remainder, some got
upon planks, and others upon some of the things of the ship ; and so it came to pass, according to Pauls prediction, that they all got safe to land,
REFLECTIONS, The section we have now been reading, contains a remarkable illustration of the obligations we are under to use the most proper means for security and success, even while we are committing ourselves to the care of divine providence, and waiting the accomplishment of God's own promises : For it would be most unreasonable to imagine, that he ever intended any promise to encourage rational creatures to act in a wild and irrational manner; or to remain inactive, when he has given them natural capacities of doing something at least for their own benefit. It is in exerting these that we are to expect his powerful aid ; and all the grace, beauty, and wisdom of the promise would be lost, if we were to take it in any other view : To abuse it in a contrary view, is at best vain and dangerous presumption, if all pretence of relying upon it be not profane hypocrisy.
How solicitous are men in danger for the preservation of this mortal and perishing life ! they cast out their goods in a storm ; they throw away the tackling of the ship to lighten it ; and for many succeeding days forget even to eat their bread : 0) when shall we see a solicitude any thing like this about the concerns of their never-dying souls ? Alas, amidst the extremest danger, they are rather like those who, in such a storm as this, should have been sleeping on the top of
a mast. Let us not wonder, if, when awakened on a sudden, and made to see and to feel the extremity of their case, they are for a while taken off from attending as usual to their secular affairs ; nor rashly censure that as madness, which may be the first entrance of true wisdom into their minds.We see how cheerful Paul was amidst the rage of winds and waves, under a sense of the faithful care of his God; and how the assurance which he gave to the rest, that their lives should be preserved, though their possessions in the ship were all lost, animated them to eat their bread with cheerfulness. With how much greater cheerfulness may they sustain all temporal losses, and relish in the midst of them all the reniaining bounties of providence (as some always remain) whose eternal life is secured by the word of God, and the engagement of a covenant which he has confirmed by an oath ?- To conclude :
It was to Paul that the lives of those that sailed with him were given : and his fellow-prisoners owed to him a double preservation, first from the sword, and then from the sea. Thus may a relation to God's faithful servants, and a community of interests with them, be the means of great temporal advantage even to those that are strangers to the covenant of promise. Surely after so many remarkable circumstances, pointing out the apostle to the company of this ship as a teacher commissioned by God, and favoured with extraordinary intercourses with him, they must be very inexcusable if they did not henceforward commence his attentive hearers and humble disciples. Those of them who did so, would find their deliverance from the fury of the sea but an earnest of another deliverance infinitely greater and better ; and are long ere this lodged with him on a far more hospitable shore, and in a more peaceful harbour, than Malta, or than earth could afford.
Puul and his companions are hospitably entertained at Malta, where he ex
ercises miraculous powers. Ch. xxviii. 1-16.
THE apostle and the rest of the ship's company having escaped 1 1 the danger of the shipwreck, and being got safe to land, they
then knew the island on which they were cast was called Melita or 2. Malta. And the barbarians (as the Romans proudly called them)
treated us with uncommon humanity ; for having kindled a fire
they brought us all to it, because of the present rain, and because 3 of the cold. Now as Paul was gathering up a bundle of sticks,
and laying them upon the fire, a viper coming out by reason of 4 the heat, fastened upon his hand. And as soon as the barbarians
saw the fierce animal, hanging on his hand, they said one to another, This man is certainly a murderer, whom divine vengeance hath not perunitted to live, though he be saved from the sea.
5 But he shaking off the fierce animal into the fire, suffered no evil. 6 However they expected that he should have swollen, or sụddenly
have fallen down dead : and having waited a considerable time,
to observe the effect, and seeing no mischief befall him, changing 7 their minds they said he was a God.-And in the neighbourhood
of that place, there was the estate of the Chief, or governor of the island, whose name was Publius ; who having received us
into his house, entertained us in a courteous manner for three days. 8 And so it was, that the father of Publius, being seized with a fever
and bloody-flux, was confined to his bed : to whom Paul going
in, and having prayed, laid his hands on him and healed him. 9 Now therefore when this miracle was wrought, the rest also who 10 had disorders in the island, came and were healed : Who also
honoured us with great honours, and when we departed they put 11 on board such things as were necessary.--And after we had been
here three months, we departed in a ship of Alexandria, that had
wintered in the island, whose sign was Gemini, or the twins, Castor 12 and Pollux. And being arrived at Syracuse, in the island of Sicily, 13 we continued there three days. From thence we coasted round,
and came over-against Rhegium, in the south of Italy. And after
one day the south wind arising, we came in two days to Puteoli 14 near Naples ; where we found some Christian brethren, and were
entreated to stay with them seven days, to which the centurion kind.
ly consented ; and so having left the ship, we went for Rome by 15 land. And from thence the brethren there, having heard of our
situation, came out to meet us, some as far as Appii Forum ( which was fifty-one miles from Rome) and others to the Three Taverns
(which was about thirty) whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, 16 and took courage. And when we came to Rome, the centurion
delivered the prisoners to the præfect, or captain of the prætorian band: but Paul was permitted to dwell apart in an house of his own, with a soldier that guarded him.
REFLECTIONS. Let us again pause, and, on this new occasion of doing it, adore the wise conduct of providence, though its ways were in the sea, and its paths in the great waters. Still did our dear Redeemer take care of his faithful servants and ministers, not unly delivering them and their companions from destruction by shipwreck, but providing tenderly for them in their destitute condition, when their wet and probably torn garments seem to have been all they could call their own. The custom of Rome and Greece taught them to call all nations but their own barbarous ; but surely the generosity which these uncultivated inhabitants of Malta shewed, was far more valuable than all the varnish which the politest education could give, where it taught not hunanity and compassion. It is with pleasure that we trace amongst them the force of conscience, and the belief of providence ; which some more learned people have stupidly thought it philosophy to despise : But they erred in concluding that calamities must always be inter
preted as judgments ; and let us guard against the same error, fest, like them, we unwarily censure, not only the innocent, but the excellent of the earth.
God wrought a most seasonable miracle for the preservation of Paul from the fury of the viper : and this frank and honest, though ignorant people, immediately retract their censure : But, as human nature is apt to do, they fall immediately from one extreme to another, and from pronouncing him a murderer, conclude him a god. They afterwards submitted to be better taught, and learnt to regard him as what he really was, a holy man favoured of heaven, and raised up to be an instrument of great good, both to the bodies and souls of his fellow-creatures. Let us also be willing candidly to correct and confess our mistakes, when means of better information offer ; and study to adjust our notions of men's characters according to truth; that we may neither calumniate nor deify them, but judge righteouo judgment.
Well was Publius, the chief of the island, with the other inhabitants of it, rewarded for their kindness to these distressed strangers, by the cures wrought on the diseased in their respective families; and naturally did their kindness and liberality to the increase, with such experience of the miraculous power which wrought by Paul. We cannot but conclade, that this holy apostle whose heart was always so warm with zeal for Christ, especially when it was quickened with such a deliverance, would take this happy opportunity of diffusing the savour of his name here. He would tell them, no doubt, who it was that healed them, and testify to them of that greater salvation and niore important cure, which they were to seek from him ; nor can we imagine that his labour was entirely in vain in the Lord. Happy wreck ? on the ruins of which the temple of the Lord was raised, and by occasion of which Barbarians were transformed into Christians! Who can say, how many distempered minds were healed ? how many sons and daughters were born to God and to glory, in these three months which Paul and Luke spent here? For modest as that beloved physician of souls, as well as of bodies, is in every thing relating to himself, we cannot imagine that he was inactive or unsuccessful in this pious labour. And how naturally did all this tend to raise the regard of the ship's company for these servants of the most high God, to whom, as instruments in the hand of his good providence, they first owed their lives, and now their accommodations ; to whom also, we hope, some of them owed even their own souls !
It is extremely probable, that the indulgence shewed to Paul in Rome, the remains of liberty which he enjoyed while in bonds there, and the much more valued opportunities of usefulness which that liberty gave him, were, in some degree at least, owing to the experience and report of these extraordinary events. Thus, O Lord, shalt thou lead us into whatever difficulties and dangers thou pleasest, and we will cheerfully wait the happy event which shall at length prove the wisdom and kindness of thy most mysterious conduct. In the mean time, even while travelling in the bonds of affliction, may we see thine hand in all the countenance which we meet with from our chrislian brethren : and cheered with their converse and their friendly offices, may we, like Paul, thank God, and take courage, in an humble assurance that thou wilt stand by us in every future unknown extreme ity; and wilt either manifest thy power and goodness in raising up human supports, or display thine all-sufficiency in a yet more glorious manner, by bearing us up when they all fail us !
Paul's solemn audience of the Jews at Rome, most of whom reject the gos
pel, but he continues to preach it during two years of his confinement. Ch. xxviii. 17, &c.
17 AND it came to pass that after being three days at Rome, Paul
A called together those that were the chief of the Jews who sojourned there. And when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have done nothing contrary to the Jewish people, or to our paternal customs, yet was I deliv.
ered a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans ; 18 who having examined me, were willing to have set me at liberty, as 19 there was no cause of death found in me. But when the Jews op
posed it, I was obliged to appeal to Cæsar ; And this I have done 20 not as having any thing of which to accuse my own nation. For
this reason, therefore, I entreated that I might see and speak with
you : for it is on account of that which is the hope of Israel, that 21 I am bound with this chain. And they said to him, We have nei.
ther received letters from Judea concerning thee ; nor hath one of
the brethren that hath come hither, related or said any evil concer22 ning thee. But we desire to hear from thee what thou thinkest;
for as concerning this sect of the Nazarenes it is known to us that 23 it is every where spoken against.–And having appointed him a
day, many of them came to him at his lodging ; to whom he expounded many passages of their own scriptures, testifying the kingdoin of God, and persuading them of the things that related to Je
sus, both from the law of Moses and the prophets, from morning 24 till evening. And some were persuaded by the things which were 25 spoken ; and some believed them not. And so disagreeing with
each other, they brake up the assembly : Paul only saying this one
word in the close, Surely well did the Holy Spirit speak by Isaiah 26 the prophet to our fathers, when he saith, Go to this people, and
say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand ; and seeing 27 ye shall see, and shall not perceive : for the heart of this people
is become gross; and with their ears they hear heavily ; and they have drawn their eyes together ; lest they should see with their
eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, 28 and should be converted, and I should heal them. Therefore