They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.
BASIL (329-379): Life is a journey which commences when we enter the world, and ends at the grave. We are like voyagers on the ocean, wafted by winds towards the port, whilst asleep in the vessel, and who, insensible of the progress made, arrive there before they are aware.
WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): God does not waft souls to heaven, like passengers in a ship who are shut under the hatches and see nothing all the way!
JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Imagine a number of ships at different times and from different places, bound to the same port. There are some things in which all would agree—the compass steered by, the port in view, the general rules of navigation, would be the same for all. In other respects they would differ. Perhaps no two of them would meet with the same distribution of winds and weather. Some we see set out with a favourable wind; but when they almost think their passage secured, they are checked by adverse blasts. After enduring much hardship and danger, and frequent expectations of shipwreck, they barely escape and reach the desired haven. Others meet with the greatest difficulties at first. They put forth in a storm, and are often beaten back; at length their voyage proves favourable, and they enter the port with a rich and abundant entrance. Some are hard beset with cruisers and enemies, and obliged to fight their way through. Others meet with little remarkable in their passage.
Is it not thus in the spiritual life? All true believers walk by the same rule, and mind the same things: the Word of God is their compass; Jesus is both their polar star and their sun of righteousness; their hearts and their faces are all set Zion-ward. They are as one body, animated by one spirit; yet their experience, formed upon these common principles, is far from being uniform. The Lord in His first call, and His following dispensations, regards the situation, temper and talents of each, and the particular services and trials He has appointed for them. All are exercised at times, yet some pass through the voyage of life much more smoothly than others.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): We shall not go to heaven sailing along with sails swelling to the breeze, like sea birds with their fair white wings, but we shall proceed full often with sails rent to ribbons, with masts creaking, and the ship’s pumps at work both by night and day.
JOHN NEWTON: I dreamed that I was crossing a sea. It was narrow but very rough. After long struggling with winds and waves I entered a still and beautiful harbour. I landed, and meeting a [man], I said, “What is the name of this port?” He replied, “The Harbour of Comfort.” “And what is that stormy sea which I have just crossed?” “The Bay of Care.” “I suppose this beautiful port can be reached sometimes without such trouble as I have had.” “Oh no; it is the will of the Master of the port that it shall be reached in no other way. Through much tribulation you must enter the kingdom.”
JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Believe that as sure as you are in the way of God you must meet with temptations. The first day therefore that thou dost enter Christ’s congregation, look for them. When they come, beg of God to carry thee through them.
SAMUEL RUTHERFORD (1600-1661): Look for crosses, and while it is fair weather, mend the sails of the ship.
C. H. SPURGEON: If we had no troubles, we should all have the less to declare…What does the man know about the sea who has only walked on the beach? Get with an old sailor, who has been a dozen times around the world, and often wrecked, and he will interest you. So the much-tried Christian has great wonders to declare, and these are chiefly the works of the Lord; for they that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. Tried Christians see how God sustains in trouble, and how He delivers out of it, and they declare his works openly: they cannot help doing so…
Let us not then, my brethren, fear to advance through our trials: they are for our good; to stop here awhile is for our benefit. Why! we should not know how to converse in heaven if we had not a few trials and hardships to tell of, and some tales of delivering grace to repeat with joy. An old sailor likes to have passed through a few shipwrecks and storms, however hazardous they may have been, for when he anchors in Greenwich Hospital, he will there tell [his companions] with great pleasure of his hair-breadth escapes. There will be some old soldiers in heaven, too, who will recount their fights, how their Master delivered them, and how He won the victory and kept off all their foes.