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in hither, not having a wedding garment I" What excuse will you then make to the Supreme Host of the feast? Now, indeed, you can trifle with your everlasting salvation,—now, indeed, you may make light of the invitation, and "go your way, one to his farm, another to his merchandise;—you may all with one consent begin to make excuse :—a piece of ground may require your attention, and you must needs go and see it; or you may have bought five yoke of oxen, and wish to go to prove them; I pray thee have me excused;" or, you may "have married a wife," (ana so entered into the most religious and sacred rite instituted on earth,) and therefore, with the rest "cannot come." But at the last day, such excuses will avail nothing hefore God. It may be, He will say to you, as the king said to the servants in the parable, "Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (xxii. Matt. 13 verse.)
Be assured, that if you are not fit on earth, you cannot be fit to join the Marriage feast at the Supper of the Lamb, in celestial mansions of purity and perfection. Unless you prepare yourself on earth, it is impossible for you to expect to be found meet inheritors of his glorious kingdom. Therefore, so long as you wilfully, or carelessly, or through erroneous impressions of ypur unworthjness, neglect this holy ordinance, so long are the vows of God upon you,—so long you are abusing this unspeakable privilege, you are guilty of profanation, yes, even "trampling under foot, the Son of God, and counting the blood wherewith yon are sanctified, an unholy thing, and doing despite to the Spirit of his grace."
Oh, let me entreat you, my Christian Reader, if you should belong to either of the classes just mentioned, to remain no longer as you are. If you value your own soul, be convinced of your danger!" Turn not away from Him who speaketh from heaven." It is your Lord's invitation—his parting benediction. Oh, treat it not slightingly and with disparagement. Draw near in faith, and accept it every time you have the Offer from your Minister, who is an "ambassador for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." Then you will be enabled to look forward with joy to that day when you shall drink this cup "new with your Saviour, in his Father's kingdom."
Are you poor? Christ only can make you rich; rich not in this world's vain goods and perishable possessions, but rich in the treasures of his Love. Do trials cloud over your path ?— "Take eat, this is my body, which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me." Here you will receive comfort and strength, this will support you in all your troubles, and carry you triumphantly through your difficulties. Here you will receive peace; peace which the world giveth not, neither can take away. Are you grateful for mercies received—for benefits conferred ;—the sacrifice of Christ for your redemption, his poverty that you might be made rich ?—if so, you will prove your gratitude not by empty words, but by celebrating his goodness in attending his holy table, that you may dwell in Him, and He in you; "then we dwell in Christ, and Christ in us; we are one with Christ, and Christ with us." Then when the days of your earthly probation are finished, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you have enjoyed sweet communion with your Saviour on earth; and with calm and happy resignation exclaim, "Father, my hour is come; I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, Lord, what wait Ij[for? my hope is in thee; for they that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him!"
A. M. W. Chelmiford, 26th March, 1845.
■ HKARCHOFT, TTP. CHELMSFORD.
THE NARRATIVE OF JONAH PRACTICALLY ILLUSTRATED.
JONAH'S CALL, DISOBEDIENCE, AND JUST PUNISHMENT.
Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the ton of Amittai, saying, arise, go to Nineveh that great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness is come up before me. 1st Jonah, 1st & 2nd verses. The narrative of Jonah's mission to the Ninevites and his refusal to discharge the honorable duty assigned him, affords a striking instance of that depravity of the human heart to which the holy scriptures bear such ample testimony. The capital of the Assyrian empire was plunged in the deepest vices, and God mercifully purposed to signify his displeasure, and warn the people of his anger by the threat of speedy punishment. Jonah was commissioned to publish this threat to the inhabitants; but, either apprehensive of personal danger, or more probably, shrinking from the possible reproach of being called a false prophet, if the mercy of God should spare the place, he took ship to Tarshish, declining to discharge his commission. In the course of his voyage, a violent tempest arising, he was cast by the mariners into the sea, where he must have perished, if the goodness of God who heard his prayers for deliverance from so imminent a danger, had not rescued him from his perilous situation. And how prone are we to disobey the call which has been given to us. Are we not labourers in the Lord's vineyard? and yet many of us are standing idle. Are we not exhorted to warn the wicked from the error of his way? for "he that winneth souls is wise;" and the time may come, when God willpunish us for wilful neglect as much as he did the prophet. Therefore, exhort one another daily while itis called to-day, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." The narrative before us may be made a warning, an example, and an encouragement. We will therefore consider it more at large; and may the Holy Spirit enable us to profit by Jonah's sad example, lest we, in the frailty of our nature, and perverseness of our ways, through sin, suffer for sin, and thereby lose the protection and favor of God in the hour of our greatest need. Though the Lord is merciful and gracious, still he is a God of justice, and according to our ways, so doth he deal with us; but when we become hardened, and sin in defiance of Him, as was the case with the Ninevites, his justice and mercy are then mingled together.— Nineveh cared not for God, and its inhabitants lived in total defiance of Him, till at length God threatened to destroy it. How similar this to the days of Noah, when God also witnessed a perpetual sinfulness in man's heart, and thereby drowned the world, leaving only eight souls to glorify him. Our nation is not purer, or more righteous; and if God visited them for their iniquities, shall He not also visit us? Nineveh was a populous city—great and grand; but it boasted of its evil deeds, and its inhabitants only triumphed in the wicked desires of their hearts and gratifications.
Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of A initial,— saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness is come up before me. Let us meditate more minutely on the subject before us, and consider 1st.—The name and call of Jonah—why such call was given: 2nd.—The disobedient course which he pursued, and the means he adopted. 3rd—The punishment which God was pleased to inflict upon Jonah.
1. The name of the prophet was Jonah, signifying " a dove ;"— most probably intimating the message he was to receive from God, of proclaiming to the Ninevites the sentiments of God towards them. The first notice taken of this prophet occurs in 1st Kings, 14 chap. 23—27, where we read, that Jeroboam, the son of Joash, king of Israel, from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gath-hepher.
Gath-hepher was a town of Zebulun, in the kingdom of Israel, and in after times a part of Galilee. By this we are led to suppose that he was contemporary with the earliest of the prophets, (Amos and Hosea) but more probably in a preceding reign, in which case he then becomes more ancient than the earliest of the other prophets His place of interment is disputed ; some supposing it at Nineveh, —others, at a place within the tribe of Zebulun, two miles from Sepphoris, on the road to Tiberias, which still retains the name of Gath. Jonah's call was a merciful act of God towards the Ninevites, and the same long-suffering is held out towards us, for which we ought to render our best thanks. Nineveh does not stand alone in guilt before God; let us remember this, and pray each one for himself, that wickedness may be rooted out of our land. Nineveh had transgressed to the greatest extent, (like Babylon of old) indulging in all kinds of evil, regardless of the consequences, and was standing on the abyss of eternal ruin, when Jonah was desired to warn them of the peril in which they stood. And is there not a second Nineveh to whom God has sounded forth a similar call ?— Now, even now, the voice of holy writ calls us to obey, to repent, and to watch, lest the Saviour come as a thief in the night, and find us sleeping. God may allow us to remain undisturbed in sin for a season, but no longer than His mercy shall have reached the limits he has ordained. Then will come the bitter reflection,—we knew the good, but chose the evil; we learned to do evil, and ceased to do well. We forgot the presence of God, and lived in paths of vice, and so were fitted to be cast into outer darkness: where should be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
2. The disobedient course which Jonah pursued, and the means he adopted. "But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshishfrom the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord."
No sooner had God given his injunction to the prophet,—not sooner had he become acquainted with the will of the Lord, than he manifests a disinclination to enter upon the service of his Master. Slavish fear of man predominating over respect for the will and commands of Omnipotence. God does not always prevent a sinner from entering into the path of ruin, neither, when once entered, take him away from it; but generally permits him to remain