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had already let down the life-boat, when Paul, perceiving their base design, said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.” The soldiers immediately “cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off" into

the sea.

The most critical hour was still before them. Again the apostle spoke words of encouragement, and entreated all, both sailors and passengers, to take some food, saying, “This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fåsting, having taken nothing. Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not a hair fall from the head of any of you."

“When he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.”

Then that worn and discouraged company of two hundred and seventy-five souls, who but for Paul would have become desperate, joined with the apostle in partaking of food. “And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea."

Daylight had now fully come, but they could see nothing by which to determine their whereabouts. However, “they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship. And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoisted up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore. And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the fore part stuck

fast, and remained unmovable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.

Paul and the other prisoners were now threatened by a fate more terrible than shipwreck. The soldiers saw that while endeavoring to reach land it would be impossible for them to keep their prisoners in charge. Every man would have all he could do to save himself. Yet if any of the prisoners were missing, the lives of those who were responsible for them would be forfeited. Hence the soldiers desired to put all the prisoners to death. The Roman law sanctioned this cruel policy, and the plan would have been executed at once, but for him to whom all alike were under deep obligation. Julius the centurion knew that Paul had been instrumental in saving the lives of all on board; and, moreover, convinced that the Lord was with him, he feared to do him harm. He therefore "commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: and the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land." When the roll was called, not one was missing

The shipwrecked crew were kindly received by the barbarous people of Melita. They kindled a fire,” Luke writes, “and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.' Paul was among those who were active in ministering to the comfort of others. Having gathered "a bundle of sticks," he “laid them on the fire,” when a viper came forth “out of the heat, and fastened on his hand." The bystanders were

horror-stricken; and seeing by his chain that Paul was a prisoner, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.”' But Paul shook off the creature into the fire, and felt no harm. Knowing its venomous nature, the people looked for him to fall down at any moment in terrible agony. “But after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.”

During the three months that the ship's company remained at Melita, Paul and his fellow-laborers improved many opportunities to preach the gospel. In a remarkable manner the Lord wrought through them. For Paul's sake, the entire shipwrecked company were treated with great kindness; all their wants were supplied, and upon leaving Melita they were liberally provided with everything needful for their voyage.

The chief incidents of their stay are thus briefly related by Luke:

“In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously. And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him. So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed: who also honored us with many honors; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary."

CHAPTER XLIII

In Rome

With the opening of navigation, the centurion and his prisoners set out on their journey to Rome. An Alexandrian ship, the “Castor and Pollux,” had wintered at Melita, on her way westward, and in this the travelers embarked. Though somewhat delayed by contrary winds, the voyage was safely accomplished, and the ship cast anchor in the beautiful harbor of Puteoli, on the coast of Italy.

In this place there were a few Christians, and they entreated the apostle to remain with them for seven days, a privilege kindly granted by the centurion. Since receiving Paul's epistle to the Romans, the Christians of Italy had eagerly looked forward to a visit from the apostle. They had not thought to see him come as a prisoner, but his sufferings only endeared him to them the more. The distance from Puteoli to Rome being but a hundred and forty miles, and the seaport being in constant communication with the metropolis, the Roman ChrisThis chapter is based on Acts 28:11-31 and the Epistle to Philemon.

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tians were informed of Paul's approach, and some of them started to meet and welcome him.

On the eighth day after landing, the centurion and his prisoners set out for Rome. Julius willingly granted the apostle every favor which it was in his power to bestow; but he could not change his condition as a prisoner, or release him from the chain that bound him to his soldier guard. It was with a heavy heart that Paul went forward to his long-expected visit to the world's metropolis. How different the circumstances from those he had anticipated! How was he, fettered and stigmatized, to proclaim the gospel? His hopes of winning many souls to the truth in Rome, seemed destined to disappointment.

At last the travelers reach Appii Forum, forty miles from Rome. As they make their way through the crowds that throng the great thoroughfare, the gray-haired old man, chained with a group of hardened-looking criminals, receives many a glance of scorn, and is made the subject of many a rude, mocking jest.

Suddenly a cry of joy is heard, and a man springs from the passing throng and falls upon the prisoner's neck, embracing him with tears and rejoicing, as a son would welcome a long-absent father. Again and again is the scene repeated, as, with eyes made keen by loving expectation, many discern in the chained captive the one who at Corinth, at Philippi, at Ephesus, had spoken to them the words of life.

As the warm-hearted disciples eagerly flock around their father in the gospel, the whole com

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