Human Affection and Sacred Service
Acts 21:1-17
And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course to Coos…

God has so made us and so related us that we find ourselves closely and tenderly attached, one to another, in various bonds. It is impossible that these should not have great influence on our minds as the children and servants of God, great effect on our lives as co-workers with Christ. What is that effect?

I. HUMAN AFFECTION WAS A LARGE CONTRIBUTION TO OFFER TO SACRED SERVICE. We find it inciting all the disciples, including "the wives and the children," to accompany Paul on his way, to pray with and for him, and thus to cheer and hearten him (ver. 5). We find it leading Philip (vers. 5-7), and afterwards Mnason (ver. 16) and "the brethren" (ver. 17), to entertain the ambassador of Christ with open-handed and full-hearted friendship. And we find it now constantly leading men and women

(1) to educate and train,

(2) to entertain,

(3) to shelter,

(4) to influence by example,

(5) to evangelize the sons and daughters of men.

II. HUMAN AFFECTION SOMETIMES FORCIBLY INTERPOSES BETWEEN MEN AND THE SACRED SERVICE THEY WOULD RENDER. It did so here. Paul and his party had to tear themselves away from the elders of Ephesus (ver. 1). It required a very great effort to "get away." Clearly the entreaties of affection produced a very strong impression indeed on the susceptible heart of the apostle, and called forth the tender and touching remonstrance of the text (ver. 13). It had a like effect on the mind of the Master himself, and evoked a rebuke of no ordinary strength (Matthew 16:21-23). When conjugal, or parental, or filial, or fraternal love lays its detaining hand on the shoulder and says, "Go not on this perilous mission; stay with us in these pleasant places of affection," it is hard for the human soul to resist that gentle but powerful pressure.

III. HUMAN AFFECTION HAS OFTEN MUCH TO URGE ON ITS OWN BEHALF. The disciples at Tyre claimed to found their counsels on communications which they had from God himself. They said "through the Spirit" that Paul "should not go up," etc. (ver. 4). Undoubtedly the disciples at Caesarea based their dissuasions on the announcements of Agabus (ver. 11), and they probably pleaded, with no little force, that the Divine intimation of danger was given on purpose that the impending evil might be averted. Often with us, now, human affection has much to say that is plausible, and even powerful. It makes out a strong case why special spiritual faculty should refrain from sacrificing itself by presumptuous confidence, why it should "not tempt the Lord its God" by running into needless danger, why it should reserve itself for other paths of usefulness where it could walk with equal fruitfulness and without the threatening injury.

IV. CHRISTIAN DEVOTEDNESS RISES ABOVE THE STRONG. TEMPTATION. With Paul it "will not be persuaded" (ver. 14); with him it says, "I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die... for the Name of the Lord Jesus" (ver. 13). The Huguenot will not have the white ribbon bound round his arm even by the tender hand of the sweetest human love. Men will walk to the stake, and women to the open grave wherein their living bodies are to be enclosed, even though there are voices, gentle and strong, calling them to the home of affection. The will of the Divine Savior has been found, and will be found to the end of time, mightier than even these forces of affection.

V. HUMAN AFFECTION WILL RECOGNIZE ITS DUTY AND ACCEPT THE WILL OF GOD. It still says, after a while, "The will of the Lord be done" (ver. 14). - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara:

WEB: When it happened that we had parted from them and had set sail, we came with a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara.

Drawing Nearer to the Storm
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