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Acts 27:1-44 - Homilies By W. Clarkson

The voyage of life.

The journey which is described in this twenty-seventh chapter may suggest to us some of the main features of the long voyage of our life.

I. THE VARIETY IS OUR COMPANIONSHIPS . As each passenger on board found himself inseparably associated with a strange admixture of fellow-travelers, so we find ourselves compelled to mingle, more or less closely, with various companions as we and they journey together over the waters of life. There are

II. THE NEED FOR LABOR AND FOR PATIENCE . Not only did the sailors strive strenuously to discharge their nautical duties ( Acts 27:7 , Acts 27:8 , Acts 27:17 ), but all the passengers worked with all their strength in co-operation with them ( Acts 27:16 , Acts 27:19 ). And with what long patience had they to wait, not merely at Fair Haven, "where much time was spent," but also and chiefly when the vessel was drifting before the wind, "when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared" ( Acts 27:20 ), and when riding at anchor, and fearing greatly that they would be forced on the neighboring rocks, they "wished for the day." Labor and patience are the two oars which will bring the boat to shore in the everyday passage of our life.

III. THE CERTAINTY OF HARDSHIP AND PERIL , MORE OR LESS SEVERE . The winds are sure to be contrary, as in the earlier part of this celebrated voyage ( Acts 27:4 , Acts 27:7 , Acts 27:8 ), and they may be tempestuous, as they were at the latter part ( Acts 27:14 , Acts 27:18 , Acts 27:27 ). We must reckon upon some adversity, some checks and disappointments, as certain to befall us; we ought to be prepared for calamity and disaster. No human voyager across the sea of life can tell that there is not a very cyclone of misfortune through which he is about to pass.

IV. THE EXCELLENCY OF A REFUGE IS GOD . What an admirable figure does Paul present in this interesting picture! What calmness he shows ( Acts 27:21-25 )! What comfort he conveys! What strength he affords ( Acts 27:33-36 )! What ascendency he acquires ( Acts 27:43 )! It is the prisoner, Paul, who is the central figure there, not the centurion, nor even the captain. If in the emergencies that will arise, in the crises that must occur, on those occasions when the higher virtues and heavenlier graces are demanded, we would show ourselves brave, noble, helpful, truly admirable, let us see to it that we have then—because we seek now—a Friend, a Refuge, a Stay in Almighty God.

V. THE OCCASIONAL DEMAND FOR SACRIFICE . To save life they "lightened the ship" ( Acts 27:18 ); they " cast out the tackling" ( Acts 27:19 ); they " cast out the wheat into the sea" ( Acts 27:38 ). To save moral or spiritual integrity it is well worth while, and sometimes positively necessary, to abandon that which is precious to us as citizens of this present life ( Matthew 18:8 , Matthew 18:9 ).

VI. THE POSSIBILITY OF REACHING THE SHORE . ( Acts 27:44 .) In one way or another they all came " safe to land." We may arrive at the end like the captain who steers into port, his vessel whole, every sail spread to the wind, rich and glad with a prosperous voyage; or we may reach the strand like Paul and his fellow-passengers, on planks and broken pieces of the ship. We may die honored, strong, influential, triumphant; or we may reach our end poor, unregarded, shattered. It is of small account, so that we do reach that blessed shore—so that we are " found in him," the Divine Savior, and pass to his presence and his glory.—C.

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