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They are in danger of shipwreck,
and undergird their vessel.
A.M.cir.4066. an(j cou\^ not j,ear u„ jnto the wind.
A. D. cir. 62. l *
An. oiymp. a we let her drive.
cir. CCX. 3. i /• i j j
lo And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:
* Jonah 1. 13.
by sprinkling it upon the <leck, tho masts, the anchors, and the doors of the apartments; and stuck upon them a few of the feathers of the bird. Several bowls of meat were then brought forward, and ranged in a line across the deck. Before these were placed a cup of oil, one filled with tea, one with some ardent spirit, and a fourth with salt; the captain making, at the same time, three profound inclinations of his body, with hands uplifted, and muttering a few words, as if of solicitation to the Deity. The loo, or brazen drum, was! beaten in the mean time forcibly; lighted matches were held towards heaven; papers, covered with tin or silver leaf, were burnt; and crackers fired off in great abundance by the crew. The captain afterwards made libations to the river, by emptying into it from the vessel's prow, the several cups of liquids; and concluded with throwing in also that which held the salt. All the ceremonies being over, and the bowls of meat removed, the people feasted on it in the steerage; and launched afterward, with confidence, the yacht into the current. As soon as she had reached the opposite shore, the captain returned thauks to Heaven, with three inclinations of the body.
"Beside the daily offering and adoration at the altar . erected on the left, or honourable side of the cabin in every Chinese vessel, the solemn sacrifices above described are made to obtain the benefit of a fair wind, or to avert any impending danger. The particular spot upon the forecastle, where the priucipal ceremonies are performed, is not wil- | lingly suffered to be occupied or defiled by any person on board."
Verse 15. Andichen the ship was caught] HvvzcTra.'rtlevrQs' h rov ■nXotau. The ship was violently hurried away before this strong levunter; so that it was impossible for her avro-' f9aXfa£iv, to face the wind, to turn her proa to it, so as to' shake it out, as I have heard sailors say; and have seen them successfully perform in violent tempests and squalls.
We let her drive.'] Wc were obliged to let her go right before this tempestuous wind, whithersoever it might drive her.
Verse 16. A certain island—called Clauda] Called also Gaudos; situated at the south-western extremity of the island of Crete, and now called Goto, accordhig to Dr, Shaw.
Much zzork to come by the boat] It was likely to have been washed over board; or, if the boat was in roar, at the
17 Which b when they had taken up, A.M.or.«6s.
.. i.i j • ,. , AD.cir.62.
they used helps, undergirding the An.oiymP. ship; and, fearing lest they should cir:Jt:cix* fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.
» Jonah 1.15.
stern of the vessel, which is probable; they found it very difficult to save it from being staved, or broken to pieces.
Verse 17. Undergirding the ship] This method has been used even in modern times. A stout cable is slipped under the vessel at the prow, which they can conduct to any part of the ship's keel; and then fasten the two ends on the deck, to keep the planks from starting: as mauy rounds as thev please may be thus taken about the vessel. An instance of this kind is mentioned in lord Anson's voyage round the world. Speaking of a Spanish man of war in a storm: "They were obliged to throw overboard all their upper-deck guns; and take six turns of the cable round the ship, to prevent her opening." P. 24. 4to edit.
The quicksands] Eij njc mpriy, into the syrt. There were tico famous syrts, or quicksands, on the African coast; oiie called the syrlis major, lying near the coast of Cyrene; and the other, the syrtis minor, not far from Tripoli. Both these, like our Goodicin Sands, were proverbial for their multitude of shipwrecks. From the direction in which this vessel was driven, it is not at all likely that they were in danger of drifting on any of these syrts, as the vessel does not appear to have been driven near the African coast through the whole of her voyage. And as to what is said, ver. 27. of their being driven up and dozen in Adria, StaftpopSYwv iv rw ASpify it must mean their being tossed about near to Sicily, the sea of which is called Adria, according to the old Scholiast upon Dionysius's Periegesis, ver. 85. -\ Sixexixov rovro ro iteXzyo; Aipiav xaAtuor they call this Sicilian sea, Adria. We are therefore to consider that the apprehension expressed in ver. 17. is to be taken generally: they were afraid of falling into some shoals, not knowing in what part of the sea they then were; for they had seen neither sun nor stars for many days; and they had no compass, and consequently could not tell in what direction they were now driving. It is wrong therefore to mark the course of this voyage, as if the vessel had been driven across the whole of the Mediterranean, down to the African coast, and near to the syrts, or shoal-banks; to which there is scarcely any reason to believe, she had once approximated, during the whole of this dangerous voyage.
Strake sail] XaAas-amc To o-xiuoc. What this means is difficult to say. As to striking or slackening sail, that is entirely out of the question, in snch circumstances as they
Paul encourages them, but
predicts the loss of the ship.
A.M.cir.4066. jg j^n(j we hem if exceedingly tossed
A. D. cir. 62. ft, j *.
An. oivmp. with a tempest, the next day they cir- ccx' * lightened the ship;
19 And the third day * we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.
20 And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.
21 f But after long abstinence, Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.
22 And now I exhort you to be of good
cheer: for there shall be no loss of A-M,;cir;4(*f
A. D. cir. 62.
any man's life among you, but of the A«. oiymp.
, • cir. CCX. 2.
23 b For there stood by me this night, the angel of God, whose I am, and c whom I serve,
24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.
25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: d for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.
26 Hovvbeit • we must be cast upon a certain island.
2? But when the fourteenth night was come,
were; when it is evident they could carry no sail at all, and must hare gone under bare poles. Some think that loitering the yards, and taking down the top-mast, is what is intended; but in such a perilous situation, this would have been of little service. Others think, letting go their main, or sheet anchor, is what is meant; but this seems without foundation, as it would have beeu foolishness in the extreme, to have hoped to ride out the storm in such a sea. Passing by a variety of meanings, I suppose cutting away, or by some means letting down the mast, is the action intended to be expressed here; and this would be the most likely means of saving the vessel from foundering.
Verse 18. Lightened the ship'] Of what, we know not; but it was probably cumbrous wares, by which the deck was thronged; and which were prejudicial to the due trim of the vessel.
Verse 19. The tackling of the ship.] Trtv <rKiir,v; all supernumerary anchors, cables, baggage, &c.
Verse 20. Neither sun nor stars in many days appeared] And consequently they could make no observation; and having no magnetkal needle, could not tell in what direction they were going.
Verse 21. After long abstinence] IToXXi;; h ac-ma; vitnpytvcTj. ^rlr. Wakefield connects this with the preceding verse, and translates it thus: Especially as there teas a great scarcity of provisions. But this by no means can agree with what is said, ver. 3-1—38. The vessel was a corn vessel; and they had not as yet thrown the wheat into the sea, see ver. 38. And we find they had food sufficient to eat, but were discouraged, and so utterly hopeless of life, that they had no appetite for food: besides, the storm was so great, that it is not likely they could dress any thing.
Have gained this harm and loss.] It seems strange to talk j of gaining a loss; but it is a correct rendering of the original xEsJijauj, which expresses the idea of acquisition, whether of good or evil. Those who wish it, may see this use of the \ term well illustrated by Bp. Pearce, in his note on this verse. The harm was damage to the vessel; the loss was that of the j merchandise, furniture, &c.
Verse 22. There shall be no loss of—life] This must be joyous news to those, from whom all hope that they should be saved, was taken ate ay: ver. 20.
Ve.se 23 The—God, whose J am, and whom I serve] This divine communication was intended to give credit to the apostle and to his doctrine; and in such perilous circumstances, to speak so confidently, when every appearance was against him, argued the fullest persuasion of the truth of what he spoke; and the fulfilment so exactly coinciding with the prediction, must have shewn these heathens, that the God, whom Paul served, must be widely different from theirs.
Verse 24. God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.] Two hundred and seventy-six souls, saved for the sake of one man! This was a strong proof of God's approbation of Paul; and must at least have shewn to Julius the centurion, that his prisoner was an injured and innocent man.
Verse 26. We must be cast upon a certain island.] The angel which gave him this information did not tell him the name of the island. It turned out to be Melita, on which, by the violence of the storm, they were wrecked some days after.
Verse 27. Driven up and down in Adria] See the note on ver. 17.
Deemed that they drea near lo some country] They judged
After long abstinence, they take meat, THE ACTS.
and are greatly encmtraged.
A.M.cir.4066. a8 we were driven Up and down
A. D. cir. 62. . l
An. oiymp. m Adria, about midnight the ship
— men deemed that they drew near to
28 And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms.
29 Then fearing lest they should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.
30 And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship,
31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers. Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.
■ 1 Kings 1. 52. Matt. 10. 30. Luke 12. 7. & 21.18. * 1 Sam. 9. 13.
Matt. 15. 36. Mark 8.6. John 6.11. 1 Tim. 4. 3, 4.
so, either by the smell of land, which those used to the sea can perceive at a considerable distance, or by the agitation of the sea, rippling of the tide, &c.
Verse 28. And sounded] Bo\i<ra.v?Es, heaving tlw lead.
Twenty fathoms] Opyvttzs ux-ori, about forty yards in depth. The opyvia. is thus defined by the Etymologicon: Hijjj-ouvsi rijv ix.ra.triv rtav ytiptuv, trvv rw ttXxrei rou rrfiovs' It signifies the extent of the arms, together with the breadth of the breast. This is exactly the quantum of our fathom.
Verse 29. Cast four anchors out of the stern] By this time the storm must have been considerably abated; though the agitation of the sea could not have subsided much. The anchors were cast out of the stern, to prevent the vessel from drifting ashore, as they found that the farther they stood in, the shallower the water grew; therefore they dropt the anchor a-stern, as even one ship's length might be of much consequence.
Verse 30. The shipmen] The sailors: let dozen the boat. Having loitered the boat from the dock into the sea, they pretended that it was necessary to cany some anchors ahead, to keep her from being carried in a dangerous direction by the tide; but with the real design to make for shore, and so leave the.prisoners and the passengers to their fate. This was timely noticed by the pious and prudent apostle; who, while simply depending on the promise of God, was watching for the safety and comfort of all.
Verse 31. Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.] God, who has promised to save your lives, pro
32 Then the soldiers cut off the A.M.dr.4066.
A. U. c\r. 62.
ropes of the boat, and let her fall off. An. oiymB.
33 And while the day was comi»g c"-ccx± on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing.
34 Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for a there shall not a hair fall from the head of any of you.
35 And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and b gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.
36 Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.
37 And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen c souls.
o Ch. 2. 41. & 7. 14. Rom. 13. 1. 1 Pet. 3. 90.
mises this on the condition that ye make use of every mean» he has put in your power to help yourselves.. While, therefore, y,e are using these means, expect the co-operation of God. If these sailors, who only understand how to work the ship, leave it, ye cannot escape. Therefore, prevent their present design. On the occonomy of Divine Providence, see the notes on chap, xxiii.
Verse 32. The soldiers cut off the ropes'] These were probably the only persons who dared to have opposed the will of the sailors: this very circumstance is an additional proof of the accuracy of St. Luke.
Verse 33. While the day was coming on] It was then apparently about day-break.
This day is the fourteenth day that ye have—continued fasting] Ye have not had one regular meal for these fourteen days past. Indeed we may take it for granted, that, during the whole of the storm, very little was eaten by any man: for what appetite could men have for food, who every moment had death before their eyes?
Verse 34. A hair fall from the head] A proverbial expression, for ye shall neither lose your lives, nor suffer any hurt in your bodies, if ye follow my advice.
Verse 35. Gave thanks to God] Who had provided the food, and preserved their lives and health to partake of it. Some think that he celebrated the Holy Eucharist here; but this is by no means likely: he would not celebrate such a mystery among ungodly sailors and soldiers, Jews and Ilenthens; nor was there any necessity for such a measure.
They arc wrecked on Melita,
and all get safe to land.
AM.cir.4066. 39 ^nd when they had eaten ^'oi^.' enough, they lightened the ship, and cir-ccx-*• cast out the wheat into the sea.
39 And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship.
40 And when they had 'taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore.
41 And falling into a place where two seas met, b they ran the ship aground; and the
» Or, cut the anchors, they left them in the sea, 5fc.
Verse 38. They lightened the ship] They hoped, that by casting out the lading, the ship would draw less water; in consequence of which, they could get nearer the shore.
Verse 39. They kneic not the land] And therefore knew neither the nature of the coast, nor where the proper port lay. A—creek with a shore] Kokxov, sinus, a bay, with a shore; a neck of land perhaps on either side, running out into the sea, and this little bay or gulph between them; though some think it was a tongue of land, running out into the sea, having the sea on both sides, at the point of which these two seas met, ver. 41. There is such a place as this in the island of Malta, where tradition says, Paul was shipwrecked; and which is ca lied, la Cale dc St. Paul. See Calmet.
Verse 40. Taken up the anchors] Weighed all the anchors that they had cast out of the stern. Some think* the meaning of the word is, they slipped their cables; and so left the anchors in the sea. This opinion is expressed in the margin. Loosed the rudder bands'] Or, the bands of the rudders; for large vessels in ancient times had ttco or more rudders, one at the side, and another at the stern, and sometimes one at the prow. The bands, I^-jxrr^iac, were some kind of fastenings, by which the rudders were hoisted some way out of the water; for, as they could be of no use in the storm, and should there come fair weather, the vessel could not do without them, this was a prudent way of securing them from being broken to pieces by the agitation of the waves. These bands being loosed, (he rudders would fall down into their proper places, and seive to steer the vessel into the creek, which they now had in view.
Ilcised up the mainsail] ApTEfj.no. is not the mainsail (which would have been quite improper on such an occasion) but the jib, or triangular sail, which is suspended from the fore-mast to the bowsprit; with this, they might hope both to steer and carry in the ship.
Verse 41. Where two seas met] The tide running down
forepart stuck fast, and remained ^^°i.rir4^' unmoveable, but the hinder part was An. oiymp. broken with the violence of the waves. cir- ccx- s
42 And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out and escape.
43 But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land:
44 And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, c that they escaped all safe to land.
from each side of the tongue of land, mentioned ver. 39. and meeting at the point.
Ran the ship aground] In striving to cross at this point of land, they had not taken a sufficiency of sea-room, and therefore ran aground.
The forepart stuck fast] Got into the sands ; and perhaps the shore here was very bold or steep, so that the stem of the vessel might be immersed in the quicksands, which II would soon close round it, while the stern, violently agitated 1' with the surge, would soon be broken to pieces. It is extremely difficult to find the true meaning of several of the nautical terms used in this\chapter. I have given that which appeared to me to be the most likely; but cannot absolutely say, that I have every where hit the true meaning.
Verse 42. The soldiers1 counsel was to kill the prisoners] What blood-thirsty cowardly villains must these have been! Though, through the providence of God, those poor men had escaped a watery grave, and had borne all the anxiety and distresses of this disastrous voyage, as well as the others • now, that there is a likelihood of all getting safe to land, that could swim; lest these should swim to shore, and so escape, those men, whose trade was in human blood, desired to have them massacred! We have not many traits in the histories of the most barbarous nations, that can be a proper couater-part to this quintessence of humano-diabolic cruelty.
Verse 43. Willing to save Paul, fyc] Had one fallen, for the reasons those cruel and dastardly soldiers gave, so mu't all the rest. The centurion saw that Paul was not only an innocent, but an extraordinary and- divine man; and therefore, for his sake, he prevented the massacre; and unloosing every man's bonds, he commanded those that could, to swim ashore and escape. It is likely that all the soldierst escaped in ti;i> way; for it was one part of the Roman military discipline, to teach the soldiers to siciw.
Verse 41. And the rest] That could not swim: some or*
Observations on some remarkable
facts in the preceding chapter.
boards, planks, spars, &c. got safe to land; manifestly by an especial providence of God; for, how otherwise could the sick, the aged, the terrified, besides women and children, (of which, we may naturally suppose, there were some) though on planks, get safe to shore? where still the saves were violent, ver. 41. and they, without either skill or power to steer their unsafe flotillas to the land? It was (in this case, most evidently,) God, who brought them to the haven where they would be.
1. Paul had appealed to Ca:sar; and he must go to Rome to have his cause heard. God admitted of this appeal, and told his servant that he should testify of him at Rome; and yet every thing seemed to conspire together to prevent this appeal, and the testimony which the apostle was to bear to the truth of the Christian religion. The Jews laid wait for his life; and when he had escaped out of their hands, and from their territories, then the winds and the sea seemed to combine to effect his destruction. And God suffered all this malice of men, and war of elements, to fight against his servant, and yet overruled and counterworked the whole, so as to promote his own glory, and bring honour to his apostle. Had it not been for this malice of the Jews, Festus, Felix, Agrippa, Berenice, and many Roman nobles and officers, had probably never heard the gospel of Christ. And had it not been for Paul's tempestuous voyage, the 276 souls that sailed with him could not have had such displays of the power and wisdom of the Christians' God, as must have struck them with reverence, and probably was the cause of the conversion of many. Had the voyage been smooth and prosperous, there would have been no occasion for such
striking interferences of God; and had it not been for the shipwreck, probably the inhabitants of Malta would not so soon have heard of the Christian religion. God serves hit will by every occurrence, and presses every thing into the service of his own cause. This is a remark which we have often occasion to make, and which is ever in place. We may leave the government of the world and the government of the church most confidently to God: hitherto he has done all things well; and his wisdom, power, goodness, and truth, are still the same.
2. In considering the dangers of a sea voyage we may well say with pious Quesnel, To what perils do persons expose themselves, either to raise a fortune, or to gain a livelihood? How few are there who would expose themselves to the same for the sake of God? They commit themselves to the mercy of the waves; they trust their life to a plank and to a pilot; and yet it is often with great difficulty that they can trust themselves to the Providence of God, whose knowledge, power, and goodness, are infinite; and the visible effects of which they have so many times experienced.
3. What assurance soever we may have of the will of God; yet we must not forget human' means. The life of all the persons in this ship was given to St. Paul; yet he does not, on that account, expect a visible miracle, but depends upon the blessing which God will give to the care and endeavours of men.
4. God fulfils his promises, and conceals his almighty power, under such means and endeavours as seem altogether human and natural. Had the crew of this vessel neglected any means in their own power, their death would have been the consequence of their inaction and infidelity.
St. Paul, and the rest of the crew, getting safely ashore, find that the island on which they were shipwrecked is called Melita, I. They are received with great hospitality by the inhabitants, 2. A viper comes out of the bundle of sticks laid on the f,re, and seizes on PauFs hand, 3. The people seeing this, suppose him to be a murderer, and thus pursued by divine vengeance, 4. Having shook it off his hand, without receiving any damage, they change their minds, and suppose him to be a god, 5, 6. Publius, the governor of the island, receives them courteously, and Paul miraculously heals his father, who was ill of a fever, SfC 7, 8. He heak several others also, who honour them much, and give them presents, 9, 10. After three months^ stay, they embark in a ship of Alexandria, land at Syracuse, stay there three days, sail thence, pass thestreights of Rhegiurn, and land at Puteoli ;Jind some Christians there, tarry seven days, and set forward for Rome, 11—14. They are met at Appii Forum by some Christians, and Paul is greatly encouraged, 15. They come to Rome, and Julius delivers his prisoners to the captain of the guard, who permits Paul to dwell by himself, only attended by the soldier that kept him, 16. Paul calls the chief Jews together, and states his case to them, 17—20. They desire to hear him concerning the faith of Christ, 21, 22. and having appointed unto him a day, he expounds to them the kingdom of Christ, 23. Some believe, and some disbelieve; and Paul informs them, that, because of their unbelief and disobedience, the salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles, 25—29. Paul dwells two years in his own hired house, preaching the kingdom of God, 30,31.