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ner for doing so. And he said unto them, Take me up and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. This prophet is considered in many ways to be a type of Christ, and here is one appearance of it. Caiaphas prophesying the death of our Saviour, said to the chief priests, Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. In like manner was Jonah, by submitting to a watery grave, to be the means of saving a whole vessel and its crew. Notwithstanding his command, the men could not bring the ship to land, for the sea wrought, &c. Here is a striking instance of the insufficiency of man; though the sailors rowed as fast as they could, still there is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord. Man can never equal the strength of the Almighty. He who bid the waters swell can alone calm the tempest. Their endeavours were fruitless. How many, alas! in the present day are striving to excel in greatness by their own works, and must come short eventually, of the praise which cometh from God only. How many are striving for worldly advancement by their own industry, without praying for the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Like the men in the boat, they strive earnestly to reach the haven of everlasting bliss by their own way: and by adopting methods of their own invention, instead of striving to enter in at that gate which the Lord himself hath made, and the paths to it he walked in himself, leaving us an example to follow his steps. And every attempt they make will most assuredly be thwarted; every way we take will become more difficult, like the sea increasing in its foams, unless we look up to that God, who is the way, the truth, and the life. The way to walk in, the truth to go by, and the life through which alone receiving strength, they can persevere.
2. The mariners' reluctant execution of Jonah's advice. In the 14th verse we notice the efficacy of prayer; and by casting the prophet into the sea, the intentions of Divine providence were performed. The sea ceased from her raging, and the power as well as the will of God was manifested. The displeasure of God towards the NiDevites was now extended to the very prophet sent to warn them of their danger. Jonah rushed into sin, and had scarcely slept in the act, but was thrown immediately into perils in the sea. But he had not long seen the state of the waters before he felt and acknowledged to the mariners, that he had grievously sinned. Hence we perceive the conviction that all men will have, sooner or later— a conviction of their depravity. Or if put into danger, or smitten with adversity, will then repent and fear like Jonah, "the Lord the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land." Agrippa when examined by Paul confessed that he was "almost persuaded to be a Christian." His conscience was tender, and it moved his heart in the same manner as the awful tempest reproved Jonah for his disobedience to God. Observe the effect it had upon the marinersfear and sacrifice. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." It is this holy fear which should govern all our actions; and well would it have been for Jonah if he had possessed it at the commencement of his sin, for it would have prevented him from falling into such open disobedience. This holy fear is the sum and substance of religion, and is the effect of grace. But the fear of man is more natural, as Jonah's sad example shows us, who possessed it to so great an extent that for the approbation or censure of his neighbours he neglected the calling of his heavenly Master. Had he for one moment reflected, the fear of God would have restrained him, and like Joseph, he would have said, "How can I do this thing, and sin against God i" However, it was not so: he was prompted by a slavish fear, his faith in God failed him, and he sinks into the billow's broad ocean. Happy is the man that feareth alway. But he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief. Happy is the man, who in all the vicissitudes of this mortal life can feel that his God is with him in all he undergoes. Happy is that man, who possesses a strong faith in the promises and commands of God; for the loss of which, Jonah became disobedient,
and was punished accordingly. Lamentable on the other hand is that man who loses his confidence in God, and is presumptuous enough to think himself in the right, whilst he is erring against the Divine commands. Lamentable is it, for it will always have some just punishment here, and will hereafter receive a heavy condemnation. Guard yourselves therefore, I beseech you, against a foolish fear of man, and a self-confidence of being in the right, when you are, perhaps, erring directly in contradiction to the demands of God. Peter denied the Saviour thrice: self-assurance was predominant in him. And this is an error which even at the present time is to be met with. Jonah's disobedience is a sad example of the neglect that is now prevalent to the duties of religion; and his sudden and melancholy punishment is a warning: let it not be lost upon us.
Vows were made, and sacrifices were offered unto the Lord; the men feared exceedingly. Similar indeed is it with Christianity now: men when they are aroused from their wickedness and see the danger of their state are very anxious to make any compensation to the Lord. But such vows are often momentary, and seldom performed. This is as wrong as the sin that Jonah was guilty of; this is another sort of disobedience: consequently will be productive of a just retribution in the last day. If for the neglect of one sovereign command Jonah was thrown into the waters of destruction, what will be the award for those, who are Daily and Hourly offending the Most High? Surely this is a consideration that demands us all to ask this question individually: what use have I made of the talents entrusted to my charge? what duties have I neglected to fulfil, and in what sins have I indulged contrary to the laws of God? Occupy till I come, is our Saviour's condition. Are we mindful of it? Such an examination as this is necessary for all since we know that a day is coming, when the Lord will bring to light" the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts, and then shall every man have praise of God." Therefore, let it not be forgotten, that the same voice which gave the command to Jonah to cry against the wickedness of that great city Nineveh, may issue a call to the present nation, whichlike Nineveh of old, is beset with sin.
That the same power which permitted Jonah to sleep fast in his open transgression may allow us of this generation to eat and drink, and be merry, and whilst in a fanciful and false security, like the shipmaster arousing Jonah, the Lord Omnipotent may exclaim,— Behold, the judge standeth before the door. Are we ready to stand at that day? or shall we like Jonah be glad to escape from the seat of judgment, feeling our sins lay heavily upon us. Need we be awakened to seek the Lord while he may be found, to call upon Him while He is near, and to obey his voice, while time, fleeting time is in our grasp. Let the statesman, the philosopher, the young and the old remember, that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," and employ no more time on the world than is necessary for subsistence. Our actions will merit a just account, and like Jonah, will meet with punishment or approval, as the case may be found.
3. We are now to consider—The extent of Jonah's punishment. The Jjord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah: and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
God has been pleased to punish Jonah in a manner suitable to the Sin of which he had been guilty. God has apparently given his prophet over, by permitting him to remain in the depths of the fathomless ocean. We have seen the shadow and the substance of religion—the difference between ob ;ying and not obeying God's commands. We have noticed how easily and how quickly men can follow the bias of their evil passions, when prompted by a slavish fear, and the lamentable events, which the Almighty only can and does effect, as the recompence of their wickedness and a warning for the future. The acts of the prophet Jonah are not so rare, as many may think, but disobedience similar to his, though differing according to circumstances, is daily practised by us all; therefore, as much as we see the error of it in him, so let us guard against it in ourselves; remembering always, that "there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." A slight chastisement was not adequate to the extent of his grievous offence: therefore, God not only allowed him to be cast into the deep and expansive ocean, but placed a fish ready to receive him, and probably to exterminate his existence. With respect to the "great fish" in which Jonah is said to have been consigned, a great deal of profane witticism and disputation have taken place. Probably it was a whale, if that fish were known in the Mediterranean; that is, supposing the fish did not actually swallow Jonah (and the text does not oblige us to affirm that it did), but detained him in its mouth. And this would render the prophet in less unpleasant circumstances than if he had been in the stomach of any other fish. For we are told that "the mouth of a common whale, when open, presents a cavity as large as a room, and capable of containing a merchant ship's jolly-boat, full of men, being six or eight feet wide, ten or twelve feet high (in front), and fifteen or sixteen feet long." I am quite convinced that the circumstance is not physically impossible, although there are difficulties which will remain under any explanation. It was the Lord who "prepared" the great fish consequently he might have exerted influences beyond the ordinary course of nature (though it does not appear they were ogainst nature) to ensure the accomplishment of his Divine purposes. The greatest difficult question which arises, is to find by what provision Jonah was preserved from suffocation? To this we answer, "Is any thing too hard for the Lord?" And to the Lord it was not harder to preserve Jonah in the belly of the fish, than the three youths at Babylon in the midst of the "burning fiery furnace." To those who read their Bible, and believe that the Almighty has at sundry times, and in divers manners exercised powers beyond the ordinary course of the laws which He has appointed to govern nature, will find the difficulties removed. And Jonah was in the belly of the Jish three days and three nights. This is not to be considered, as necessarily implying three entire days and nights ; but