« AnteriorContinuar »
from the presence of the Lord. Each hour is ever ready to number us among the dead. What hope have we of eternal life? Are our deeds righteous? Are they such which we should hope to meet before God's judgment seat? Let us reflect on this, for it is time to seek the Lord; it is time to prepare. If our deeds are unsanctified by the Spirit of God they will not produce good fruit.
"See then, that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Although the figtree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation!"
"0 God, the strength of every heart,
Whom heaven and earth obey,
That we may keep thy way.
By all on earth thy will be done,
As by the hosts above;
And glory in thy love.
In hope like them to see thy face.
Lord, we would do thy will;
Thy precepts to fulfil.
We would no more from thee depart;
No more unfaithful prove;
As holy angels love."
Chelmsford, A. M. W.
27th June, 1845.
The NARRATIVE of JONAH continued.
JONAH'S DISPLEASURE AT GOD'S MERCY.—THE GOURD,
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry; and he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, 0 Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish : for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, aud repentest thee of the evil. Therefore now, 0 Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.
4th chap. Jonah, 1—3rd verses.
Another proof of the depravity of man's nature will now shortly appear strikingly before us. The opinion of man, and the ways of God are generally contradictory. Hence we observe the power and will of God continually over-ruling, and at times, frustrating our plans and conduct. And then often in the hardness of our hearts, and self-righteousness, we repine at the dealings of Providence. Well might the Psalmist exclaim, "What is man that thou art mindful of him ? and the son of man that thou visitest him ?" God having acted in a manner contrary to the views of the Prophet, he again falls into error, his rashness induces him to contend and reason, as it were, with the Almighty. Jonah was self-sufficient, and the same tendency to the spirit of independence exists now. To nothing are men more prone, and yet nothing is more hurtful and dangerous. Self-sufficiency has been many a man's ruin. Both will daily separate you from a close union with Christ. Rely not on your own strength, for ye are the branches, Christ the vine, and without him ye can do nothing.
The preceding remarks bring us to observe 1st.—Jonah's wickedness in repining at the mercy of God; and his prayer to die in consequence of it. The Ninevites' repentance, and thereby God's forgiveness to them was what Jonah had contemplated when he received the call from God,—the first time he heeded it not, and fled to Tarshish. The second time however, he obeyed God, and sounded forth the trumpet of alarm to the guilty Nineveh. She was alarmed by it, and God saw her repentance, and was merciful and gracious unto her. This displeased Jonah. And it is not unreasonable here to call him a false prophet and an impostor exhorting repentance, and in his heart desiring the contrary. Here is a witness to the deceitfulness of men. And how much would I exhort my Christian friends, those present in the body—the rest absent in the spirit, to look well to their actions; to see if their outward conduct agrees with their inward principles. Jonah acted deceptively towards God, and in the end deceived himself. Men of the world do the same towards each other. But God knoweth the heart, and in a future day he will award and judge us accordingly, not looking at what the appearances were,—" Man looketh to the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh to the heart."— Jonah's prayer to die in consequence of God's mercy being against his will appears very rash and unpardonable. He seems to wish to rule the Almighty, and goes so far as to pray for death, which always conveys terror to the Sinner. He desires to die rather than to be exposed to the reproach of men. How wicked to endeavour to rush into death unprepared. Yet Jonah did; and Elijah when obliged to give up the hope of regenerating Israel journeyed into the wilderness, and sat under a juniper tree, and prayed like Jonah for the Lord to take away his life. But Elijah was supported under his despondency, whereas Jonah was hereafter punished. "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?" Such an argument Jonah seemed to have forgotten. If he had possessed it with the grace of Christ he would have left the event in God's hand. He would have rather said, "Thy will be done," than attempt to cut his life off because of the foolish fear of man's reproaches, and his want of trust in the faithfulness of his Redeemer.
If there should be one into whose hands these pages may fall, and who feels within himself that he is chained to the world, and the wishes of his fellow men, Awake, awake, from such dangerous connection. If he feels that every word, or look, or command of man places more links to his chain of carnal bondage, let him ask himself why it is i and what will be the issue? If the will of God is neglected by him, merely because of his neighbours' scorn, what will God render unto him, when hecuts that chain asunder by death—and perhaps so eternally f If he has neglected to attend the Holy Sacrament on earth, because of the scoffs of ment how can he anticipate joining that more heavenly supper of the Lamb in the mansions of bliss > If he has acted unworthily before God on earth to gain worldly popularity or esteem, how can he look forward with joy to the coming of his Lord? If the multitude do evil, and thou follow after that multitude, what can the multitude do for you, after you have followed them in evil? Can they give you support in trouble, or deliver your souls in the day of death? Custom gives a certain code for men to follow, without enquiring whether it be the right path or not. Is it not a striking characteristic of the present age, that every body follows the fashion? And if only outward forms are observed without corresponding lives of holiness how can you expect to be admitted into heavenly felicities, unless you have proved yourselves worthy of them ?" many are called, but few chosen." The world may entice you, and hide the future from your view. But, I beseech you to look beyond what you can see, and feel, and hear,—to look to the issue of things. The multitude may stand first in the world, but when the Lord Jesus Christ shall unveil every character, what will be their position then? Will he who has been all his life time a slave to man's opinions and man's reproaches lift up hishead Jwillhe not rather at the judgment day be ashamed of Christ and his words, will he not lament his allegiance with sin and stand guilty and trembling at the bar of God, the eternal Judge? Do you feel your sins pressing heavily upon you, and so cherishing a disposition like Jonah's to die rather than to live and repent? Consider then well, one and all, of your position now in this life, and your prospects for the next. Eor the one, conscience and reason; for the other, passion and inclination plead. On the one hand, worldly glory, and fleeting existence; on the other, endless felicity, and never-fading life. "Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool; but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation."
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 what would become of the city. And the Lord God 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 exceedingly glad of the gourd.
We are now to contemplate briefly: 1st.—'The Lord's expostulation with Jonah, and his departure to see what would befall the city. 2nd.—The Gourd, and the prophet's delight for the same. After Jonah had given vent to his feelings of regret, the Lord answered him, which answer seemed to come home to him forcibly, foi he " went out of the city." His conscience once again convicted him, and he departed sorrowfully. He could not say as St. Paul did, "Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men." The Lord knew and saw that Jonah's heart was still depraved and still perverse.— Jonah had his sentiments, and as they were not brought into action by God's forgiveness to Nineveh, he therefore murmurs. Observe, how simply, and yet how forcibly, the Lord addressed him, "Doest thou well to be angry?" Art thou greatly angry at the dealings of God ? art thou displeased at not having thine own way? Art thou vexed that mercy should be shown to the penitent Ninevites? And here I would say to those in this world, who may be suffering from the vicissitudes of life, and who maybe in consequence vexed with, and repining against God, I would say, "Do