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The prayer and thanksgiving of Jonah within the fish. 1 Then Jonah prayed unto my head. the LORD his God out of the 6 I went down to the bottoms fish's belly,
of the mountains; the earth with 2 And said, I cried by reason ber bars was about me for ever: of mine affliction unto the Lord, yet hast thou brought up my and he heard me; out of the life from corruption, o LORD belly of hell cried I, and thou my God. heardest my voice.
7 When my soul fainted within 3 For thou hadst cast me into me I remembered the LORD: the deep, in the midst of the and my prayer came in unto seas; and the floods compassed thee, into thine holy temple. me about: all thy billows and 8 They that observe lying vathy waves passed over me. nities forsake their own mercy.
4 Then I said, I am cast out of 9 But I will sacrifice unto thee thy sight; yet I will look again with the voice of thanksgiving; toward thy holy temple. I will pay that that I have vow
5 The waters compassed me ed. Salvation is of the LORD. about, eren to the soul : the 10 And the LORD spake unto depth closed me round about, the fish, and it vomited out the weeds were wrapped about Jonah upon the dry land.
LECTURE 1419. Of praying and giving thanks to God when in peril. At the beginning of this chapter, we learn, that the words before us were those in which “ Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly." No wonder that his prayer abounded in thanksgiving, when he found himself
, though in such singular jeopardy, still alive, and able to pray. No wonder that he began, continued, and ended, in a strain of thankfulness, when he felt himself safe, and well, and able to cry unto the Lord, and to feel that God heard him; though entombed so strangely, whilst yet alive, within another living being, and that being the tenant of an element which to him was certain death. It scarcely needed a prophetic revelation for him hence to augur his safe return to the land of the living. He might reason from the unparalleled mercy, which he was then experiencing, to a further manifestation of the goodness of the Lord. He could not doubt, that it was God, who bad miraculously prepared the fish to swallow him up just as he was thrown overboard, and had miraculously enabled him to breathe and live within its body. And he might hence without presumption infer, that God would not stop short of restoring him to the light of day, and to the privilege, which he had so rashly refused, of proclaiming the word of the Lord.
Amongst the many strange and awful situations, in which men have at different times been placed, either by the convulsions of nature, or by the casualties attending their own employments, none can be conceived more awful or more strange, than that in which Jonah must have found himself, when conscious that he was alive within the fish, and being borne to and fro in the
waters of the great deep. Most forcibly does he describe what he experienced, when compassed by the billows, when closed round about by the depth, when carried down to the foot of the mountains in the valleys at the bottom of the sea, there wrapped about with weeds, and surrounded by “the earth with her bars," and the waters of the ocean over head. “ Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight.” At the first he was tempted to give way to despair. But he soon added, “ Yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.” He called to mind that it was God who had brought him where he was. He considered that God could deliver him thence. And therefore he cried, by reason of his affliction, unto the Lord. And the Lord vouchsafed to hear him. He cried out of that living sepulchre. And the Lord heard his voice. When his soul fainted within him, he remembered the Lord; and his prayer reached even unto God in heaven. He acknowledged his past foolishness, in thinking to escape from God; admitting that those who pursue a course so vain and wicked bring their affliction on themselves. And in the anticipation of a full deliverance, prompted by the safety he had experienced already, he resolved to sacrifice to God with the voice of thanksgiving. Yea, he joyfully declared, whilst yet embowelled in that monster of the deep, “ Salvation is of the Lord.”
What a striking pattern of faith and thankfulness do the words of Jonah, thus viewed, set before us! How profitably might they come to our remembrance, if ever we, in the dispensations of God's providence, should be placed in circumstances of imminent danger, however seemingly helpless, hopeless! Let us never give ourselves up to despondency. Let us never think our case past prayer. We can be nowhere, whither God has not brought us. We can be nowhere, where He is not. We can be nowhere, whence He cannot bring us out, if it so seem good to Him. Let us then pray, even when at the worst. Yes, and let us also give God thanks. We cannot be in any situation, in which his goodness cannot reach us, his grace support our fainting spirits, and give us peace and joy. He can make us content in whatsoever state we are; even in the most, forlorn we can imagine. He can make all things work together for our good ; even the most dreadful we can undergo. If we are in the deep, He can enable us not to wish to be cast up on the dry land. If we are entombed alive beneath the earth, He can then make us glad to think that we shall no more see the light of day. He can cheer us with the near prospect of eternity. He can give us joy and glory in death, because of the joyful and glorious resurrection we are looking for. He can; and, if we ask Him faithfully, He will. He will; and therefore praise be to his holy name. For all we bave, and all we hope for, in life, in death, in the world that now is, and in that which is to come, praise be to his holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord !
Jonah preacheth to the Ninevites, who repent. i And the word of the LORD him with sackcloth, and sat in came unto Jonah the second ashes. time, saying,
7 And he caused it to be pro2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that claimed and published through great city, and preach unto it Nineveh by the decree of the the preaching that I bid thee. king and his nobles, saying, Let
3 So Jonah arose, and went neither man nor beast, herd nor unto Nineveh, according to the flock, taste any thing: let them word of the LORD. Now Ni- not feed, nor drink water: neveh was an exceeding great 8 But let man and beast be city of three days' journey. covered with sackcloth, and cry
4 And Jonah began to enter mightily unto God: yea, let into the city, a day's journey, them turn every one from his and he cried, and said, Yet for- evil way, and from the violence ty ys, and Nineveh shall be that is in their hands. overthrown.
9 Who can tell if God will turn 5 So the people of Nineveh and repent, and turn away from believed God, and proclaimed a his fierce anger, that we perish fast, and put on sackcloth, from not? the greatest of them even to the 10 And God saw their works, least of them.
that they turned from their evil 6 For word came unto the way; and God repented of the king of Nineveh, and he arose evil, that he had said that he from his throne, and he laid would do unto them; and he his robe from him, and covered did it not.
LECTURE 1420. Various and strong motives to repentance. Very gracious it was of God to send his word the second time to Jonah, when he had so ill received it the first time. And very willing was Jonah now to go whithersoever God would send him. How many
of God's words have come to us, and that, more than once or twice, not indeed for revelation unto others, but for warning, or direction, or encouragement to ourselves; and we have refused to hear them! Oh let us now at length arise and obey; lest He speak to us no more. Let us believe what He tells us, do what He bids us, and rely on what He promises us, now; lest it be for the last time that He has spoken, lest it be now that we must hear, or never. We have had many a deliverance, if we did but know it, as great, though not as strange, as that which Jonah had experienced. Our whole life is a miracle of mercy. From our birth to the present hour we have been compassed with dangers, above, beneathi, around us, and within us; of which if we could but see the hundredth part, withdrawing nature's veil, and viewing the numberless contingencies by which the spark of life is ever nigh to be extinguished, we should feel deeply how much we owe to God for safety each moment that we live. Oh let it not be because our mercies are so many that therefore we give no heed to them! Oh let us never thanklessly imagine, that if God had only once saved us signally, we should be more disposed to serve Him, than now when He is preserving us continually!
But the prophet is not the only pattern of obedience here supplied to us. The men of Nineveh are pointed out by our blessed Lord, as a notable example of attention to God's word, and of meek submission to God's will. They repented at the preaching of Jonas.” Matt. 12. 41. The terrors of the Lord were the subject of his preaching. “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown;" these were his awful words, as he went a whole day's journey into the city. This was the message which he delivered at God's bidding, and which the people of Nineveh believed at Jonal's preaching. And not only the people, but also their king : all were of one mind, high and low, rich and poor; and that, the very mind which the Lord desired by this warning to bring about. The king and his nobles proclaimed a decree for fasting and repentance. And to the weight of their authority they added the force of their example. The whole city, as one man, abstained from the use of food, and adopted the garb of mourning. Nay, they extended these observances to their cattle, as if to signify their sense, that these also must suffer in the general destruction, and that being in the service of man, it became them to share in the humiliation of their masters, before Him who created all.
“ Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not ?" this was the reasonable and pious summing up of the proclamation published in Nineveh. This is the just and consistent view which a right faith teaches us to take of the terrors and warnings of the Lord. Certainly He “is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent.” Num. 23. 19. That is to say, He is not changeable as we are, one while of one mind, and another of another. But bis warnings, however expressly stated, prevent Him not from forgiving them that repent. For it is all along his purpose to forgive the penitent. And the more entirely we believe such a word of prophecy as this which Jonah preached, we ought to feel so much the more anxious to repent, and to express the depth of our repentance, in the hope that God, though He never change his mind, will vouchsafe to reverse our sentence. Thus acted the Ninevites, more wise than they, who consider such decrees on the part of God as irreversible. And God seeing what they did, and knowing that their contrition was sincere, “repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not!” Here then is another very powerful motive to repent; the hope of pardon. It may be now or never that we can turn to God. We may have had mercies past number persuading us to turn. And if even these considerations fail to move us, let us lay to heart this one more: if we repent, even now at length, God is graciously willing to forgive.
Jonah murmuring is reproved by means of a gourd. i But it displeased Jonah ex- nah was exceeding glad of the ceedingly, and he was very gourd. angry.
7 But God prepared a worm 2 And he prayed unto the when the morning rose the next LORD, and said, I pray thee, 0 day, and it smote the gourd that Lord, was not this my saying, it withered. when I was yet in my country? 8 And it came to pass, when Therefore I fled before unto the sun did arise, that God preTarshish: for I knew that thou pared a vehement east wind; art a gracious God, and merci- and the sun beat upon the head ful, slow to anger, and of great of Jonah, that he fainted, and kindness, and repentest thee of wished in himself to die, and the evil.
said, It is better for me to die 3 Therefore now, O Lord, than to live. take, I beseech thee, my life 9 And God said to Jonah, from me ; for it is better for me Doest thou well to be angry for to die than to live.
the gourd ? And he said, I do 4 Then said the LORD, Doest well to be angry, even untodeath. thou well to be angry?
10 Then said the LORD, Thou 5 So Jonah went out of the hast had pity on the gourd, for city, and sat on the east side of the which thou hast not labourthe city, and there made him a ed, neither madest it grow; booth, and sat under it in the which came up in a night, and shadow, till he might see what perished in a night: would become of the city. u And should not I spare Ni
6 And the LORD God prepar- neveh, that great city, wherein ed a gourd, and made it to come are more than sixscore thousand up over Jonah, that it might be persons that cannot discern bea shadow over his head, to deli- iween their right hand and their ver him from his grief. So Jo- left hand; and also much cattle?
The ends for which God chastises us. Here we see the selfishness of the heart of man laid open, in all its foul deformity. Jonah had rather Nineveh should perish, than that his own credit should be impeached, in the message he had been charged to deliver. Here we see man's proud notions of consistency, in contrast with God's gracious attributes of truth and mercy. Jonah considers his honour implicated in the execution of the sentence to which he had given utterance, however greatly the case might be altered by the change which has taken place in the party condemned. God speaks, and acts, as though it were not derogatory to his glory, nor inconsistent with his knowing all things, as He does from the beginning to the end, and also overruling all, for Him to sentence unto death, and yet to spare the life, to threaten the wicked, and yet to forgive