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est thou well also to be angry?" Remember, that God acts in an unseen manner, that that which appears often to men harsh, and severe, and distressing at the time, may be working out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory! That the loss of earthly ties and earthly riches may be producing, (though perhaps at a distant period) the re-union of souls, and the blessedness of eternity; preparing the way to obtaining and enjoying the riches of God's grace, which we as christians look forward to in another and a better world, and for which the trials and probation we experience here, must be considered as the fitting and the corner stone. Jonah's departure out of the city proves that he felt ashamed of his conduct, and wished to hide himself once more from the presence of his Judge. He made a booth and sat under it in the shadow, in order to witness the events that might befal Nineveh. Although he had twice sinned, he still entertained some interest for the great city. He still felt anxious as to its fate, and once more watched over it as a sincere prophet, which brings us to the next point.
2nd—In this situation the Lord prepared a Gourd to shadow him from the heat of the sun, which was irksome. The Gourd is considered to be in reality the Ricinus communis, or castor oil-tree; it has broad palmate leaves, and serves beneficially to cover the parched traveller. It grows in all the warmer regions of the old and new continents, and flourishes in the driest soil among stones and rubbish. This plant was a great comfort to Jonah, and he rejoiced with great joy. It shaded him from the sun, and allayed his grief. How gracious and merciful is the Lord Jehovah to impenitent men. Though Jonah had grievously erred, the Lord took compassion on him. And when the Lord took upon himself our nature, which was eight hundred and sixty-two years after this Narrative, what principle did he practise and inculcate to his disciples, but this ?" Do good for evil. Love your enemies; bless them which persecute you, and pray for them which despitefully use you." Yet how many are found to act like the prophet (after the burst of pleasure has passed away) regardless of the kindness of God, and when once full, forget that they may again require sustenance. "Boast not thyself of to-morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth."
"Come, Holy Spirit! heavenly Dove!
Oar hearts are set on things below
Our souls, how heavily they go
In vain we tune our lifeless songs ,
Thy praises falter on our tongues,
Come, Holy Spirit, heav'nly Dove,
O shed abroad a Saviour's love,
Chelmsford, s A. M. W.
2nd July, 1845.
The NARRATIVE of JONAH practically concluded.
JONAH'S SECOND PUNISHMENT.
But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; 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. Then said the Lord ,- Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not 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 persona that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle T
4th. chap. Jonah, 7—11th verses.
The joy of the prophet was not of long duration—his joy was not arising from a sense of proper conduct, and therefore was but fleeting. The gourd was a blessing to him; in the midst of his trial he felt its value, and when he most prized it, God smote it that it withered. A just punishment it was, and when the heart most feels its own bitterness, and increase of trial assails it, then man knows his own worthlessness, and the supreme government of Jehovah. When we are in the midst of worldly happiness and prosperity, when we fancy ourselves most secure, and adversity or affliction comes upon us, then we feel the most acutely our loss.— Then it is that so many christians, like Jonah, are induced to murmur at their change from the Lord. Jonah was apparently happy—he knew not what would befall him on the day after. And here we notice our limited understanding. The past and the present are all we can call our own. The future who shall unveil? Who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun? Delight not in this world's possessions, for they are all as fleeting as they are fair. Place no dependence on broken reeds; or like Jonah, realize pleasure from earthly comforts, which will fade quickly away, in the same manner as the gourd, which came up in a night, and perished in a night.
It now only remains for us to consider Jonah's repining at God's mercy, is reproved by the loss of the gourd; and the excellent simile made by our Lord to Jonah, concluding with a few practical remarks arising from the contemplation of the whole Narrative.
At the loss of the comfort God had given, the prophet again wishes to die. He is again displeased with God. The sun was over-powering—the wind violent, and in this pitiful condition he preferred death to life. He no longer wished to endure the chastening of the Lord, and desired to depart for ever. This loss was a trial of his faith in God, and a trial of his zeal. We observe next, the wise, the beautiful comparison which followed such loss. Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? Dost thou care so much for the loss of a blessing to thyself, and yet regardest not the preservation of more than sixscore thousand persons in the city of Nineveh? Hast thou pity on the gourd, for the which thou laboured not, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night? and shall I, saith the Lord, not show mercy by sparing populous Nineveh, whose inhabitants could not discern between their right hand and their left hand, children who knew not wrong. Jonah here reminds us of Pharaoh, who notwithstanding all God's mercies, still hardened his heart; and to come to a more notorious case, -that of Jeroboam, "whose hand dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him; but, at the voice of God, was restored to him again; and yet he returned not from his evil way. (See 13th chap. 1st. Kings.)
Nineveh contained 600,000 persons, either to perish or to be saved. One fifth of the population were reckoned children. This seems immense; but look at London, which in 1831, contained not less than 1,776,500 persons within eight miles of St. Paul's. And shall such be destroyed without time for repentance? God acted according to this principle, and Nineveh was spared, and to impress it as right upon Jonah he experienced the loss of the gourd. And what must have been his reflections when God brought the matter so home to him? In what a contracted light must his mercy have appeared to him when contrasted with the mercy of God. If he cared for a trifle, how much more his heavenly master for the salvation of a little world! If he felt regret at the destruction of a plant of one night's existence, how much moremust God desire not to destroy a city, which repented of their evil deeds? How admirably Jonah was taught to judge of God's merciful character, and also to consider the value of human life,—that God has not made man for nought,—or predestined him to destruction, but regards all his creatures with Paternal affection. Therefore, "work the works of him that sent you while it is day, for the night cometh when no man can work." The people in Nineveh were in a deplorable state of ignorance, "more than sixscore thousand persons that could not discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle."
Thus ends this interesting Narrative; and what a display of Mercy has been seen throughout; which mercy still lingers towards all the world, if Sinners will but turn from their evil ways and live.
One thing may be advanced in favour of the prophet, that his repentance was sincere, and though the Ninevites fell a second time into forgetfulness of God, Jonah was once a sign unto them, and once turned them from darkness to light—-from Satan unto God. And as much as God forgave them, so will he also us, if we heartily repent. "I will arise and go unto my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son." Such a confession as this will never pass unheeded before God. For the Scriptures say "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."
Nineveh is now no more. Though spared by God, she relapsed into sin. And the prophet Nahum declared " affliction should not rise up the second time." So it came to pass, the Assyrians op