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heathens, were the twin sons of Jupiter, and ranked among the Gods. To the protection of one or both these deities the ship was entrusted, and carved images of them were fixed in some conspicuous part of it.

To mention what sign the ship bore, may appear to some unworthy of the historian: but it served to distinguish this ship from another, and to record the kindness which they experienced from the commander. It is also one of those particulars in a narrative, a reference to which gives it credibility.

12. And landing at Syracuse, a port in the island of Sicily, we tarried there three days.

This place lay directly in their passage from Malta to Rome.

13. And from thence we fetched a compass, "coasted round," and came to Rhegium, a sea port in the most southern part of Italy, and after one day the south wind blew, and we came to Puteoli, a celebrated town on the bay of Naples;

There were Christians at this place before the arrival of the apostle and his companions, probably in consequence of the intercourse which the inhabitants had with foreign nations.

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Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days; and so we went toward Rome.

15. And from thence, when the

brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum, about fifty miles from Rome, and the Three Taverns, or, "Tres Tabernce," distant about thirty miles from the city.

We read of strangers of Rome being at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. It is probable, therefore, that Christianity was taught in that city upon their return. We know that a church had been long established in this metropolis of the world; for the apostle had written his epistle to the Romans several years before this time. The members of this church came out to meet Paul, to testify their respect for his character.

Whom when Paul saw, he thanked God and took courage.

Before this time he had been a little dejected by the prospect of appearing alone before the emperor of Rome, to take his trial; but the sight of so many Christian friends, by whose society he might be refreshed in his confinement, and who might aid his design of doing good, revived his spirits, filled his heart and lips with gratitude to the great Disposer of all events, and enabled him to proceed with cheerfulness and vigour.

16. And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself, with a soldier that kept him.

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This distinction was made between him and the other prisoners, probably, in consequence of the representations given of his character and behaviour by Julius, the centurion who had conducted him to Rome.

REFLECTIONS.

1. How commendable was the conduct of these islanders, in their readiness to relieve the unfortunate sufferers by shipwreck! They have furnished an example of attention and humanity, in reading of which the more enlightened professors of the gospel may well blush, who frequently, with a barbarity that would disgrace savages, take away what the fury of the tempests has spared, and endeavour to add to distress, instead of alleviating it. The dictates of nature had taught these men to behave in a different manner. Their hearts were open to the impressions of pity, and every selfish passion was extinguished and lost in the divine power of sympathy. In the calamities which they beheld, they recognized evils which they themselves had already experienced, or might one day suffer, and cheerfully gave that relief which, in like circumstances, they would reasonably desire. Justly was their meritorious conduct rewarded by that Providence which suffers not a cup of cold water presented to the distressed to pass unnoticed, by healing their sick and sending among them the doctrine of the gospel. But double vengeance must they expect, who trample upon all the principles of humanity, by making the unfortunate and helpless their prey.

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2. In the opinion which these islanders formed of Paul, when they saw him attacked by a venomous creature, whose bite was mortal, we perceive a disposition to judge of men's characters by their condition, and to conclude that there must be uncommon guilt, wherever there are uncommon calamities -a conclusion which is certainly false and dangerous: for it not only misleads the judgment, but perverts

the heart. For such an error, in the present instance, we may find a ready apology in the ignorance of those who had fallen into it, who were unacquainted with the true God and with the character of his providence: but it cannot be so easily excused, when found, as, alas, is too often the case, among Christians, whose religion plainly inculcates upon them this maxim, that although virtue be upon the whole accompanied with happiness and vice with misery, yet, in regard to particular events and circumstances, all things come alike to all, and one event happeneth to the righteous and to the wicked.

3. When men are employed in useful undertakings, and especially when they suffer in a good cause, let us do every thing in our power to encourage their exertions or to alleviate their sufferings. Such was the conduct of these pious Romans toward the apostle; and it proved like a cordial to his heart. If this divine messenger, conscious as he was of possessing miraculous powers, and of being under divine direction, experienced the benefit of such assistance, it must be still more necessary for ordinary Christians. Let us not, therefore, withhold from them services which are so easily performed. They are recommended upon the plain principles of humanity and benevolence; they are also enjoined by the authority of our master, who has pronounced a severe sentence of condemnation upon those who refuse to visit and comfort his disciples, when in prison or in bonds.

Acts xxviii. 17. to the end.

Paul, having arrived at Rome, sends for his countrymen the Jews, to acquaint them with the reason of his coming thither, and to make them the first offers of the gospel. The Jews proving obstinate or divided in opinion, he declares that he shall apply to the Gentiles. The history concludes with saying that

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he continued to preach in his own hired house two years after his arrival.

17. And it came to pass that after three days, Paul called the chief of the Jews together, and when they were come together, he said unto them, Brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans,

18. Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me.

19. But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Cæsar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of.

20. For this cause, therefore, have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you; because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.

As Paul came to Rome as a prisoner, he was well aware that the Jews would entertain an unfavourable opinion of him; especially when they heard that he was a prisoner for acting contrary to the customs of their ancestors, to which they were all zealously attached. To remove this impression, he assures them Vol. 3.1.

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