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until he sees the error of his ways,—is penitent, and humbly sues for pardon. Thus was it with Jonah, who, following the bent of his wilful and perverse inclinations, continued for a season his rebel course, without any apparent dread of the displeasure of the Almighty. What self-assurance must Jonah have possessed; well may we exclaim, "that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it? Alas! who can? The heart of Jonah deceived him, and assisted him in his wicked undertaking. There is much to be gleaned from this, for ourselves. The source of Jonah's sin was a most culpable timidity—he shrunk from a duty at once honorable and beneficent, which he surrendered with imaginary danger, until he fairly deserted the pathway of obedience and mercy, and left a great city to perish without an effort for its reformation. How many like him are to be found in the present times, who through the fear of man which bringeth a snare, are led astray from the paths of religion and the service of God; who are lulled into forgetfulness by ease, luxury, pleasure, and the pride of life: and when the watchman sounds the trumpet in Zion, will be found wanting! How many through the fear of being called religious overmuch, neglect and refuse to fear Him, who can destroy' both soul and body in hell; and for this foolish apprehension of their neighbours' scorn, numbers are ushered into the presence of their Maker unprepared! How many Young Persons after Confirmation, fearful of the ridicule of their companions, partially neglect the Holy Sacrament of Christ, and allow their youthful carelessness to grow into habitual neglect!
Jonah paid the fare of his ship, and went down into Tarshish, from the presence of the Lord. It has been supposed by some, that Jonah merely went to sea, and that the Mediterranean was intended. Others, a particular place. Josephus says, it was Tarsus, in Cilicia, the birth place of St. Paul. Others, Tunis, or Carthage, in Africa; and lastly, Tartessus, in Spain. The latter appears to be the most probable.' The people of the ship were Phasnicians, foreigners, and idolaters—and understood his language, which clearly implies that it was not a nation more remotely foreign than thePhoenicians. Tarshish was in a contrary direction to Nineveh. Jonah was anxious to remove himself from his Maker, forgetting that He was Omnipresent, and went to Joppa. Arriving there, he found a Phoenician ship bound for Tarshish and other places ; for Tartessus was a colonial emporium of the Phoenicians. The disobedience of Jonah was instantaneous, and his punishment sudden and unforeseen : he neglected his duty, and went apparently in a calm manner into the depths of sin, by disobeying the message of God. There are many things which we do quite contrary to the laws of religion and virtue, yet we become habituated to them, and soon forget that they are sins. Disobedience, be it remembered, not only consists in neglecting, like Jonah, any commission from the Lord, but also in doing what God has forbidden. This is a point upon which I would slightly touch. Acts of omission may receive pardon; though at the same time depending upon the quality of the error: acts of commission, and of which we must all individually feel a part, merit and will hereafter receive condemnation, if not previously punished on earth; for this is erring against reason and the revelations of God. The man who desecrates the Sabbath-day in order to perform some secular business, forgets that he is violating the 4th commandment of God; and yet he will tell you, that he hopes for heaven. And the man who neglects his holy vocation, will one day be punished for wilful omission: for our Saviour declared, that he who knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For to whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. Such an assertion as this is decisive and overwhelming. It is too true, that most of men's lives contradict their profession; and it is equally certain, that many talents lie hid, and many opportunities for usefulness and religious exercises are lost by the love of pleasure, or sordid engagements. And what a fearful account will have to be offered by those, who like Jonah, have run in their own sinful course, have met with no hindrances at the commencement, and when least suspecting danger, are thrown into an awful eternity. "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes : but know thou that for all these things, God will bring thee into judgment."
3. The punishment which God was pleased to inflict upon Jonah. We shall soon perceive that although Jonah was proceeding in an apparently comfortable manner, he was overtaken by a storm, which was likely to prove fatal.
Disobedience to God we find almost invariably will have its due punishment. Our courts of justice in this world may be taken as proofs ; and in that which is to come, there awaits all, high and low, rich and poor, a tribunal, "where every man shall receive a reward according to his works." This is sure, and well would it be, if Christians thought, and said, and did, as if it were on the threshold of their houses. But the uncertainty of the time of its coming, frequently produces forgetfulness or disregard of it; and so it may come upon us at an hour when we think not. "And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch, lest ye enter into temptation.— Behold, the Judge standeth at the door."
But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was likely to be broken.— Then the mariners were afraid, but cried every man unto his God, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea to lighten it of them.- but Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship, and he lay and was fast asleep. So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest, thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not."
In the time of danger, fear is certain to reign. In the time of ease and peace, God is often forgotten. Then it is that he sends his dispensations, and tries the heart, when it is the most tender for the operations of his Divine will. Men are seldom awakened to a sense of their danger until they are almost beyond recovery from it, as was the case with Jonah Lukewarm, self-confident, and self-deceived in themselves, and unmindful of the actions and dispensations of the Almighty who is omnipotent, and ruleth over all. "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the Gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" It appears that Jonah had no sooner commenced his voyage, determined against God, and almost ignorant of his presence, than the waves began to roar. He had scarcely shown the seed of his disobedience, than he felt the effects of it. His actions had been watched, aud the hardness of his heart had deceived him. The sea was tempestuous, and the ship likely to be broken. What an awful position for the mariners! They were afraid, and cried every man unto his God :—here we notice the all-sufficiency of prayer; the help it is when all human powers fail.
Be assured, that in worldly troubles there is nothing equal to prayer, for consoling the dejected spirit, and leading us to that God who can alone comfort us by the riches of his grace. "Oh, that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men. And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing. They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters: these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep: for he commandeth and raiseth the stormy wind which lifteth up the waves thereof." Such is the language of the Psalmist, and is applicable to the perilous situation of the ship of Jonah. "They cast forth wares that were in the ship into the sea to lighten it of them."— Anxious to save their lives, and fearful of the majesty of the Most High, they endeavour to lighten their vessel in the hopes of proceeding onwards. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship, and he lay fast asleep. Observe the lukewarmness and cool indifference of this prophet. Unmindful of danger, not suspecting calamities to fall upon him, he retires to rest: perhaps with the intention of forgetting his sin and thereby satisfying himself in his wickedness. Jonah is fast asleep, ignorant of his danger, enjoying that repose which is a rest to the heavy-laden, and a comfort to the servants of God. He was permitted to enjoy this luxury for a short season, until the shipmaster came to him and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God. He was suddenly aroused from his fleeting enjoyment, and to answer for his late disobedience. "Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses." He awakes to feel his guilt, and to tremble for his sin. What meanest, thou, 0 sleeper? is a question which might be put to many now, who are sleeping in the path of duty, and when weighed in the balances will be found deficient. How many are pursuing the things of time, and leaving the momentous concerns of eternity. How many are priding themselves in the possession of wealth, honor, and popularity, and neglecting to obtain that crown of life which shall never fade away, reserved in heaven for the just. To such, we exclaim, as the shipmaster to Jonah, Arise, call upon God, if so be that God will think upon us that we perish not. This request was urgent, and appears to have been attended to. Supplication to God is the only means for gaining pardon'. "Who knoweth if he will not return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God? Who has not experienced some time in his life, the blessing and the mercy of God, who, in the season of adversity has not found him a Comforter, a Father, a Friend 1 Who has not found the Lord gracious and long-suffering, slow to anger, and of great kindness? Thus the shipmaster felt, and he was preserved. Well may we exclaim with the Psalmist, "Oh, how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that trust in thee, before the sons of men! The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord : and He delighteth in his way. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart."