On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea. About midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land.
spoken unto him."
I. TRUE FAITH OVERCOMETH THE WORLD.
1. By bringing in the light of the better world - so foreseeing the end, measuring present circumstances, maintaining physical and moral strength.
2. By lifting up the individual life into the sphere of the Divine purposes. Paul felt that he was living for Christ, and, as an ambassador, must be protected.
3. By cheering the heart with benevolence. "God hath granted thee all them that sail with thee." The sense of a philanthropic value in our own life is wonderfully cheering. We are doing good; what does it signify where we are, and how we are placed? Those around us must bless God for us.
II. THE VICTORIOUS LIFE OF FAITH IS THE ONLY LIFE WORTH LIVING.
1. The shipwreck of worldly confidence. Human wisdom, physical force, political supremacy - all fail. Our temptation in these days to trust in schemes of social remedy. Christianity alone can say, "Be of good cheer."
2. The Christian in the presence of suffering and death. Instances resembling Paul's. Mackenzie in the Pegasus. Then comes the trial of confidence, and what we want is to say, "I believe in God."
3. The ministry of the believer in a perishing, despairing world. Each one able to say to some and somewhere, "Be of good cheer."
4. The prophetic power of Christianity. Not idle dreaming, not fanatical predicting of events, but the certainty of the future brought to bear upon the present. One who can say," I believe that so it shall be," and who can show by his fortitude and cheerfulness that he does believe it, will be as a light in the world's darkness. Such a narrative rebukes the folly of our modern necromancy and soothsaying, and incites us to be true children of the day and of the light. - R.
But when the fourteenth night was come...about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country.I. MEN POSSESS THAT WHICH TELLS THEM THERE IS LAND AHEAD. "The shipmen deemed," etc. There is, universally, a consciousness in man, that beyond this there is "some country." What that country may be we may not be able to define, and our feelings, in prospect of the landing, may widely differ; but to those who are sailing in the Gospel ship, and are being guided by the inspired chart, under the direction of the Heavenly Pilot, the land beyond is a glorious reality, and the prospect of the landing is a source of daily comfort. Let us, standing on the deck of the grand old ship, look out across the wide watery waste for some sign of the country to which we are bound, and make use of the helps to that discovery which our Heavenly Pilot has provided.
1. By the telescope land is discovered when the unaided eye sees nothing but water. As the Bible is a chart, so is it a telescope by which we discover what otherwise would be unseen. Sailors, use your telescopes! Don't use them for looking at the waves, as many do, to magnify their troubles; but for looking beyond the waters, that the sight of the land may assuage your sorrows, and fill your souls with joy. And what a blessed contrast there is between this definiteness and the hazy uncertainty which pervades all human theories and infidel fancies! Yes, there is a country beyond, and the prospect of standing on its shore helps us to rejoice in spite of "our light affliction, which is but for a moment."
2. By the telescope the land is defined, when without it its character would be uncertain. Men feel that there must be "another shore"; but revelation discovers to us much of what that shore is. As soon as the captain, by the aid of his telescope, has discovered the distant hills, every glass in the ship is brought into requisition. Little by little, as the vessel approaches the shore, the dim outline develops into hills and dales; the haven itself is sighted, the tall masts of the ships which lie in the harbour are plainly discerned, while here and there the very people are distinguished who are waiting on the shore. And so, by the aid of our telescope, much may be discovered concerning the Land of Best. By it we discover that it is "a better country, that is, an heavenly"; that there are "many mansions" for weary voyagers. And here lies the great difference between natural and revealed religion. The one makes us feel that there is "some country"; while the other reveals to us where and what that country is. The two may be seen illustrated on board that very ship; for while the sailors "deemed that they drew near to some country," Paul could speak most positively and say, "We must be cast upon a certain island." To make these discoveries, the telescope must be properly used. You are not to look at it, nor merely to look into it, nor to take it to pieces and criticise it, nor to strut about with it under your arm merely to display it. The Bible is the most ill-used book in the world, With its gilt edges it is admired by those who never look into it; thumbed to death, it is looked into by those who never look through it; it is pulled to pieces by the would be critic; and the would be pious carry it in their hands, while it never reaches their hearts. Now, by such use of the Bible as this no glimpse of the "better country" will ever be obtained. If the sailor wouldn't look through his telescope until he understood the laws of light, and all the various relations of the lenses which constitute that work of art, he would never see the land at all. To take out one glass and look through it, and then, because he couldn't make wonderful discoveries, throw it and all the rest into the sea, would be an act of supreme folly. But thus many treat the Bible! If you would see the country, take up the glass, just as it is, put it, not to the blind eye of prejudice, as Nelson, when he did not want to see a signal; but to the clear eye of living faith, and you shall see that "life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel."
II. MEN ARE DAILY REMINDED THAT THEY ARE NEARING THE "LAND AHEAD." The sailors had a terrible conviction that they were drawing very near to "some country." And without the aid of revelation we are not ignorant of the fact that the end of our voyage will soon be reached. The sailor knows when he is nearing land.
1. By soundings (ver. 28). As long as men are out on the wide ocean, no line carried by ordinary ships is long enough to reach the deep sea bottom, and therefore they never trouble themselves to take soundings; but as they draw near the land, and are able to take the depth of the water by the ordinary lead lines, they take soundings day by day, as they go.(1) Look around you.(a) Can you not see how shallow the water is becoming? Look at those who were boys and girls with you. What havoc time has wrought with them! So-and-So is getting old. Do you not see in all this that you yourselves are nearing the shallows? Time has not spared you.(b) See what death has done! Go to the churchyard and take soundings there! Be honest with your own souls! You may die at twenty, thirty, or forty years of age; but at whatever age the call may come, you are nearing the shore, and you ought to be prepared for the landing.(2) Consider yourself. Is it not true that each year finds you weaker, and leaves you weaker still? We hear people say, "The winters — they try me more than they did." That means that the waters are becoming shallow.
2. By observation. It was this that helped Columbus to persevere in his westward course till he had sighted the Western World. The sea bird is not an unwelcome visitor; but should a songster from the land fly for refuge towards his vessel, the sailor hails it with delight, and listens to its welcome song as to that of the "cherub that sits up aloft." And thus many an aching heart has been cheered in the voyage over the sea of life. Often, like some bright bird of paradise, thoughts of heaven, and music as of eternal love, have cheered the Christian soul, and told him that land was very near. Keep you the vessel's head towards the golden sunset. Land is ahead, and near!
3. By experience. As people know, by its influence on the atmosphere, when they are near to the sea; so men may sometimes know, on the sea, when they are drawing near to the land. As the land breeze comes out across the waters, the Christian turns his face towards his rest. Though he cannot see it, he seems to feel the influences of a "better country." Much of heaven may be known before we reach the harbour. As the sailors, long before they have sighted America, actually drink of the fresh streams which flow from the western mountains; so, before we reach the haven of rest, we may drink rich, deep draughts of bliss from the eternal hills of life.
III. MEN HAVE SPECIAL SEASONS WHICH REMIND THEM OF THE "LAND AHEAD." "About midnight the shipmen," etc. Times of midnight make us think of "home," and all men have such times. "Through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God." Midnight times are needful. "Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you." It is necessary to make us think of home. If God had not stirred up their nests in Egypt, the Israelites would never have longed for Canaan. It was when on the brink of starvation in a far-off land that the prodigal thought of his father's house, and wished to be there. Your business fails, to make you think of your heavenly treasure; your beloved ones are taken away, that you may look forward to the time when the family circle, eternally complete, can ne'er be broken; and pain and sickness lay you low, to remind you that "this is not your rest." Then think of home always! Lay up your treasure there!
IV. MEN HAVE OVERWHELMING INDUCEMENTS TO PREPARE FOR THE "LAND AHEAD." It is an awfully solemn fact that millions of our fellow men are living utterly regardless of these things.
(W. H. Burton.)
I. LAND AHEAD. "The shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country." That is very vague. They were not quite sure whether it was Europe or Africa; but there was something which said, "It won't be long before we are aground." There had been land ahead all the fourteen days; for how was it possible for any ship to be going about in Adria without having land ahead? But they never thought about it until they got uncomfortably close to it. The moment a tiny little craft is launched on the ocean of life, there is land ahead, and whether it be an hospitable one, or an iron-bound coast on which the craft goes to pieces, depends upon what sort of a voyage it has made and who is its captain. With some of us, it is a long time before we realise that we are coming to some country. Oh, it is a grand thing when there steals over a man's mind, "This life is not the end of everything; the time is not far off when my craft shall touch some country or another!" What is leading many a man to realise that he is drawing near some country? Sometimes it is a memory or a word; I have known it come through a dream. When Columbus was searching for the Western country, what kept up his brave heart was that every now and then he saw floating on the water either a stick or a leaf, that he knew must come from the land. Anon he would see flying overhead a bird, which he was certain had left the shore not many hours before. Ay, and there comes a time when a man will look round and see this, that, and the other all saying to him, "You are bound for another country." There starts up to his memory that which he has not thought of for many a long year — the word, perhaps, that mother spoke; that address given in the Sunday school; but all of a sudden something says to the man, "There is another world; you are drawing near to it." It may be that the warning does not bring very much comfort, as in the case before us. To cry, "Land ahead!" does not necessarily bring joy. It just depends on the circumstances of the person who hears it. It is one thing to know that you have land ahead when you see the harbour right in front of you; but it is another thing altogether when the night is dark and you are pitching and tossing, ignorant of your latitude and longitude. Tell a man then that there is land ahead, and he will say, "It is the worst news I could possibly hear." Some time ago, a brother preached here who was not very well up in nautical matters. In a very vivid manner he described such a storm as never blew. Eventually he asked, "Now, what does the captain do? Why, he keeps as near the shore as ever he can." An old tar who was listening, said, "Bosh! turn her nose and beat to wind'ard." Now, when the news of "Land ahead!" strikes a man's ear in a storm, it is no comfort to him if he does not know what land it is. And so is it with the soul. Tell some of us that there is land ahead, and we say, "Thank God! for I know what it is." But oh, if it were rung out in the ears of some of you, would it be good news or evil? A little while ago I had the privilege of helping to send a young wife out to her husband in the colonies. I can imagine that young wife standing on the ship's deck with her three little ones by her side, and looking anxiously before her as the vessel nears its destination. By and by the man perched aloft sings out, "Land ahead"! How that young wife's face lights up at the sound! how her eyes drink in that cloud-like object, which very soon will develop into the land she has come so far to reach! But on board that same ship there is a felon, who is being taken back through the Extradition Treaty. "Land ahead!" It is heard right down in his cell on board the ship, and he says, "Curse it! that means the gallows for me." We are all on board the ship of life, and the day is coming when the cry will be heard, "Land can be seen now." It will be with no dim eye, unless it be filled with tears of joy, that I trust we shall all be able to say, "Lord, that is the best news I heard for many a year."
II. HEAVE OUT THE LEAD. When those ship men took soundings they found twenty fathoms of water. Why did they sound? Because they knew they were getting nearer and nearer, and wanted to be sure of their position. Those men were wonderfully like some of us; they did not begin to sound until they were in danger. They found twenty fathoms, which is a good deal of water; but directly after "they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms." What, shoal off five fathoms so quickly! There can be no doubt now of danger. Oh, you dear fellows, I want you to heave out the lead. Have you realised how far your ship has got? Perhaps you could if I were to put a line into your hands. Take sounding by this —
1. The change that you can see in others. When you arrived home, after a long absence, and went to look at your old chums, you were astonished to see how they had grown. That bit of a boy is now as tall as yourself; and of another you said, "What an old chap he is getting!" But remember that you look as old in his eyes as he does in yours. Is it not strange how we can all mark alterations in others which we do not notice in ourselves? Take soundings, man.
2. Or, if you cannot realise your position in heaving out the lead in that way, call to mind the names of the ships you have sailed in and the crews you once belonged to. Where are they? How many captains have you sailed under? Any of them dead? Call up to mind those you have voyaged with, and I think, as you look along the list, and put a mark against those whose ships have touched the shore, you will come to the conclusion, "Shallowing fast! Twenty fathoms! — fifteen!"
3. And are there not signs in yourself that you are drawing near some country? Some of you will say that ships' sides are not so easy to climb as they were twenty years ago, and that it seems a longer way up the mast than it used to do. You have not the legs and hands you once had; your sight is not so clear as it was once. Your wife says, "I am going to pull out all those grey hairs"; but you say that if she does you will not have many left. Go and look in the mirror tonight, and, if you are a sensible man, it will be like heaving the lead. "Yes," you will say; "I cannot be far off some shore." Ah, life is shoaling fast with us all. Come, is it twenty fathoms — fifteen? Some of you are much nearer than that. Let down the lead again, and you will find that it is shoaling off to ten fathoms, five fathoms — less than that! Heave out the lead, then, those of you who are still a little way off. Do not go drifting on to the rocks like a fool. If you will not believe our testimony that there is land ahead of some sort, then heave out the lead for yourselves, and you will find, beyond all doubt, that your life is shoaling rapidly.
III. DOWN WITH THE ANCHOR IN THE OCEAN'S BED. After those sailors had let down the lead it was no use their saying that they did not believe the tale that it told, for it said, very plainly, "In a few minutes you will be on that rocky gridiron." There was only one thing to be done now — to drop anchor, and pray God that they might grip. So out went the four. That must have been a very anxious moment; for they did not know whether there was good anchorage or not. Captain Smith tells us that the very best possible anchorage is in St. Paul's Bay, and another nautical book says, if only the cable do not give way, no anchor will ever drag there. They were in the right place, though they did not know it. For a moment they asked themselves, "Will the cables snap? Will the anchors drag?" But, thank God! they held; and now the ship is stopped. There is hope for them now, though they are not saved yet; and so they go down on their knees and pray for the day. This scene reminds me of a far different one; but there Paul also was throwing out his anchors. He is in Damascus. The Lord has stricken him down; he is blind — in the dark; but he confesses his sin — and then out go the anchors of prayer, and hope, and faith. Out with the anchors, and let your prayer be that of these men, who "prayed for the day." They got their answer. They had conscious salvation brought to them, for when the day dawned, Paul came to them and said, "Be of good cheer; not a hair shall fall from the, head of any one of you." They are not out of the ship yet, but prayer is answered; there is light in the sky, and God says they shall all be saved. "And when it was day" they saw a little creek right in front of them, and letting go the anchors they steered right for it. True, the ship went to pieces; but every one of the two hundred and seventy-six on board got safe to land. Look you, the poor ship of man's human body has to go to pieces; but that need not trouble us much so long as the passengers are all right — as long as the soul is secure, never mind the old ship. We shall all get "into a place where two seas meet" before long. If we are called to die Christ will show us a creek where we can die safely. And the Lord will do for our old ship what was not done with that of which we have been speaking — He will put it all together again on the Resurrection morning; and it will be a better ship than before.
(Archibald G. Brown.)
Then, fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern
I. THE ANCHOR WILL BE YOUR PREPARATION FOR THE STORM. When a ship is leaving the docks, little heed is given by the landsman to any preparation which has been made for emergencies. As long as she is nicely painted and well dressed out with bunting, she is admired by the crowd, and pronounced "ready for sea." You can never judge of a ship by merely outward appearances, and so men cannot be known by that which is merely external. The casual observer sees as much religion in the formalist as he does in the most sincere worshipper. Because Eliab was a fine handsome fellow, Samuel thought he was the man whom God bad chosen to be a king. "But the Lord said, Look not on his countenance...the Lord looketh on the heart." How about your heart? To me you all appear alike. Together you bow in the attitude of prayer. Like the ships leaving the docks for the voyage, I see you all drifting down the river to the ocean. Are you ready for the dangers that will come? God knows, and you know. In what do you trust? "Christ in you, the hope of glory," alone can be your sheet anchor when trials come. There is as much difference between a man who is "without hope," and one who has "a good hope through grace," as there is between a ship that has no anchor, and one that is well provided. When the storm comes, the one has no alternative but to be dashed to pieces on the rocks, while the other can cast her anchors and hopefully wait for the day.
II. THE ANCHOR SHOULD BE THE OBJECT OF YOUR SOLICITUDE IN THE STORM. With many of us the storms are already felt. We are driven up and down on life's Adria, and sometimes "wishing for the day." Like the sailor, let us stand by our anchors. Take care of your hope! These men were ready to cast everything into the sea; all might go; but the anchors, heavy and cumbrous as they were, they must be guarded as dear life. The extremity to which they were driven may he gathered from the fact that even the "tackling," the very thing which would be needed for the working of the ship, was cast into the sea. What will men not do to save their lives? "Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life." But though these men gave up so much, their anchors were retained. A landsman, knowing nothing about the use of anchors, would have been puzzled to know why those ugly, heavy things were spared, when all that merchandise was being thrown into the sea. Does somebody question whether such a fool could be found? I submit that, spiritually, this is ever the way of the world. Let men be placed in a position which demands the giving up either of their bales or of their Bible, and there are thousands who would be ready to counsel the throwing overboard of the anchor and the saving of the goods. Christian, take care of your hope! How can you proceed on the voyage of life without it? If today you are "without hope," let me entreat you, at once search for your lost treasure. As we were cruising in the Solent, we noticed a large ship "lying to," with two or three boats "dragging" around her. Being curious to know what hindered her, we found that she had let her cable slip and had lost her anchor. Of course the captain could not think of going to sea without his anchor. Not long after, however, before the shades of evening had gathered around her, we saw that the anchor had been found, that all sail was being crowded upon the vessel, and, as though glad to be gone, she was running away before the breeze. Hopeless Christian, imitate that shipmaster. Regain your hope. Do you ask how? — where? Drag for it. Go to the place where it was lost. Remember where the mistake was made which cost you your peace. At any cost recover your hope. You may have to cast your wares into the sea your money, your friends; but if your anchor is safe, even though "all his waves and his billows" should go over you, like David in similar distress, you will be able to exclaim, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul?...Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."
III. THE ANCHOR WILL BE THE SOURCE OF YOUR CONFIDENCE THROUGH THE STORM. Christian and Hopeful suffered much in Doubting Castle simply through forgetfulness. The key which was found in Hopeful's bosom would have let them out the first night as well as the last. When the emergency came, these men knew how to use their anchors. Whether they felt quite easy is open to doubt. A sailor, to feel happy, requires to know —
1. That his anchor itself is trustworthy.
2. That the anchorage into which he has cast it is good. A good anchor is useless with a bad ground, and a good ground is equally useless with a bad anchor. Now, these men doubtless knew their anchors well, but they were ignorant of the anchorage to which they were moored. It is possible, as in this case, to have good anchors and anchorage, and yet, through ignorance, to be all the time in suspense; and it is equally possible, as many have proved to their destruction, to have a false confidence in that which is bad. Sailors have often ridden out a gale, expecting every moment to find their anchor "gone"; while others have been suddenly alarmed to find that very anchor upon which they could have staked their lives has "come home." And so in the religious world, there are many who have a "good hope," but who fear it is bad; while there are also many who have a useless hope, and who believe it to be good. The whole question is set before us in the words of Paul, "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil." Have we this anchor and this anchorage? Or are we ever saying, "I know what I do," or "what I feel," or "what I try to be? Legality, Formality, and Experience" have been the ruin of millions. As anchors they have been tried, and they have utterly failed. What, then, is the "hope" which "maketh not ashamed"? It is the fruit of faith in Christ. Talk to any ordinary man, and he will tell you that he hopes to get to heaven; but if you ask him to give you "a reason for the hope" that he indulges, he will be totally unable to supply one. Our wishes are not hopes. For a ploughman to say that he hoped one day to be the King of England would be absurd and false; but for the heir-apparent, who had reason to expect, as well as to desire, the exalted position, the expression would be justifiable. Then don't say you hope to get to heaven unless you have good reason to expect it. Don't pillow your soul on a lie. A bad hope is infinitely worse than none at all. As long as men have something they can call a hope, they do not concern themselves about the "good hope through grace."
IV. THE ANCHOR WILL BE THE MEANS OF YOUR DELIVERANCE FROM THE STORM. But for their good anchors, humanly speaking, they would never have seen the day for which they wished. So, Christian, if your anchor is good, it will be the means of your deliverance. Storms of afflictions will come, but, by "a good hope," you shall be held until the calm of blessing shall succeed. In the Rapids of Death, when your vessel is altogether beyond your control, and you seem to be thrown about by the troubled waters, even then Hope shall find that the anchorage is good, and you shall outride the danger.
(W. H. Burton.)
Wished for the day.
(F. Jacox, B. A.)
LinksActs 27:27 NIV
Acts 27:27 NLT
Acts 27:27 ESV
Acts 27:27 NASB
Acts 27:27 KJV
Acts 27:27 Bible Apps
Acts 27:27 Parallel
Acts 27:27 Biblia Paralela
Acts 27:27 Chinese Bible
Acts 27:27 French Bible
Acts 27:27 German Bible
Acts 27:27 Commentaries