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cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about; all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. His imagination seems filled with waters. The seaweeds, he continues, were wrapped about
I went down to the bottoms of the mountains. Yet, he adds, When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord ; and my prayer came in unto thee. Such, and more also, was the prayer, and the glorious triumph of faith, of Jonah, in his living grave. And after three days and three nights ; that is, a part of three natural days, as in the case of our Lord probably; the Lord spake unto the fish, and it cast out Jonah upon the dry land ; or, so near the shore, that he could easily wade to the land. Thus ended Jonah's first mission.
After this, the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee ; or shall bid thee, when thou comest thither. It was necessary to prove Jonah's repentance, by sending him again upon the same mission. And it was great condescension in God, again to employ Jonah, after his former disobedience. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh, being, as we said, near sixty miles round, was a city of three days' journey. A day's journey for a man on foot was, at that time, reckoned about twenty miles. And Jonah began to enter from the gate into the city a day's journey; and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. This was the alarming burthen of his cry, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. This was the cry, through the principal streets, Yet forty days ; leaving them a space for repentance. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. Jonah wrought no miracle, nor showed any sign, that we read of, yet the people believed ; per
haps from Jonah's being a Hebrew ; or perhaps from having heard of his miraculous preservation when cast into the sea; or perhaps from feeling self-convicted of their own guilt. For even the king of Nineveh, when word came unto him, arose from his throne, and threw off his gorgeous robe ; and, to set a humble example, he put on the habit of a mourning penitent; he covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And the king, and his nobles, issued a decree, that neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, in Nineveh, should taste any thing ; they should not feed, nor drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God ; yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not ? Even the beasts were covered with mourning ; and kept without food and water, that their moaning might move the people. And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way ; and God repented of the evil that he had said he would do unto them; and he did it not. God changed, when the people changed. He saw their humiliation ; he saw that they were true penitents, and he spared them for this time.
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. He rather should have rejoiced in this great mercy; but he was vexed from his selfish concern for his own credit as a prophet. And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying when I was yet in my country?' Therefore, I fled before thee unto Tarshish. He pleads this as an excuse for his former disobedience ; saying, I thought that it would be so ; that thou wouldst pardon them ; and then my countrymen would say,
I was not sent by thee to Nineveh. For, he continues, for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful. How strange, that Jonah, and a prophet of the Lord too, should mention these endearing traits of God's mercy, only to complain of them. But such, and so wicked, are we. Therefore now, O Lord, he prays, take, I beseech thee, my life from me ; for it is better for me to die, than to live. Then said the Lord, Doest thou well to be angry? So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on
the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see, for certainty, what would become of the city. But the leaves of the arbour quickly withered, we suppose ; and therefore the Lord God prepared, for this seems to be Jonah's favourite word, prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. The gourd, as it is called, was perhaps the palma Christi, or ivy; or some other broad-leaved plant. He was very glad ; 'for a gourd in season, may be a greater blessing than a cedar out of season.' He was very glad of the gourd for his own personal comfort, but sullen and fretful that God should spare a great and crying city. The gourd was the second miracle performed for Jonah in this Story. But God prepared a worm, when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And when the sun arose, God prepared a vehement east wind; which, by coming over the burning sands that lay to the east of Nineveh, became very sultry ; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die ; and said, It is better for me to die, than to live. And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd ? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death ; to be angry, as long as I live ; yea, to break my heart with anger. Here the Lord graciously argues with Jonah.
Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast pot laboured, neither madest it grow ;
which came up
in a night, and perished in a night. And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons, that cannot discern between their right hand, and their left hand ; and also much cattle ? As if he had said, Jonah, thou thinkest it a pity, that so beautiful and refreshing a plant should be so soon destroyed, and thou wouldest have had it spared ; and should not I spare this great city, in which are a hundred and twenty thousand children, which cannot discern between good and evil ? From the large number of children, under two years of age probably, it is likely there were in the city six hundred thousand human creatures ; and the innocent
children, and cattle, would have been involved in the common destruction, Even the cattle, he continues, are of more value, than the withering gourd. But the inhabitants are immortal souls, and shall I not much more spare them ? And the children especially, shall I not spare the city for their sakes? A forcible argument, to bring the rebellious and passionate spirit of Jonah to reflection, and repentance; and which probably did so, although it is not thus recorded. For surely, after this solemn and humbling expostulation from God himself, he could not but hasten to exercise his prophetical functions, with a more exemplary sense of his own evil heart, and of the sacredness of his office. Thus ended Jonah's second mission.
Thus did the Lord pardon Nineveh for this time ; although, about a hundred years afterwards, having relapsed into its former sins, the City, as two prophets, Nahum and Zephaniah, had foretold, was taken and destroyed.
The great Moral of the Story is, God's pardoning repenting sinners, as he did at Nineveh ; and his long-suffering with repining saints, as it was shown to Jonah.
First Mission.-1. We are taught that those who are God's ministers must be prepared for unreserved obedience, and to go on any emergency, and to any place, when the Lord shall call them. For this ready obedience, they should cherish a humble spirit of faith, patience, and selfdenial. The fear of danger, or the love of ease, must yield to the duty of honouring and serving God. There is always more danger in disobeying, than in obeying, any command of God.
2. Jonah fied from God, but God, by his judgments, overtook him. We cannot flee from the presence of God. If we run from him, we but run towards his, and our enemy, Satan. Even the Heathen sailors reproved Jonah for his wickedness, and inconsistency of character.
So, if Christians profess one thing, and do another; look one way, and walk a contrary; even infidels will have cause to reproach and condemn.
3. We notice, that even these heathen mariners so exercised the natural dictates of reason and conscience, as to have a confiding sentiment of an overruling Providence in the casting of a lot; that when the lot was cast into the lap, the whole disposal thereof was of the Lord. And also, that they were scrupulous about shedding innocent blood. In these, even some Christians may feel that they do not improve their bright sun of Revelation, so well as did the heathen their dim star-light of Nature.
4. From the practice and success of Jonah, while in his floating grave, we may learn the propriety and efficacy of prayer. We may be placed, by the will of God, in some situation, where we cannot, any better than Jonah could, avail ourselves of the prayers of the church, or of any pious persons; but, if we have prayer,
for ourselves; as, indeed, we ought always to do. And as Jonah, in his prayer, used many of devout David's expressions; so should we treasure up in our hearts the pious words and meditations of the saints in the Bible, to aid us in our prayers and thanksgivings to their, and our God.
5. We learn, from the apparently helpless state of Jonah, while in the sea, and far beneath any human aid, never to despair of God's omnipotent mercy, even to the most rebellious of sinners, if they call upon him. If we descend into the deep, behold God is even there. It seemed impossible, that Jonah's life could be saved, after he was thrown headlong into the raging sea. But God could save him, and did save him, even there. And to do it, he performed a miracle, such as was never heard of before. And if Jonah, by the power of God, could live in the body of a fish; surely there can be no more unlikely or perilous place, from which God cannot rescue us. We are also taught, by the example of Jonah, to render thanks to God for his goodness, even in our severest trials; and when we vow to God, if he should relieve and restore us, always to be ready to pay to God that we have vowed.