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the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see, for certainty, what would become of the city. But the leaves of the arbour quickly withered, we suppose; and therefore the Lord God prepared, for this seems to be Jonah's favourite word, 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 exceeding glad of the gourd. The gourd, as it is called, was perhaps the palma Christi, or ivy; or some other broad-leaved plant. He was very glad; for a gourd in season, may be a greater blessing than a cedar out of season. He was very glad of the gourd for his own personal comfort, but sullen and fretful that God should spare a great and crying city. The gourd was the second miracle performed for Jonah in this Story. But God prepared a worm, when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And when the sun arose, God prepared a vehement east wind; which, by coming over the burning sands that lay to the east of Nineveh, became very sultry; 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; to be angry, as long as I live; yea, to break my heart with anger. Here the Lord graciously argues with Jonah. 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 persons, that cannot discern between their right hand, and their left hand; and also much cattle? As if he had said, Jonah, thou thinkest it a pity, that so beautiful and refreshing a plant should be so soon destroyed, and thou wouldest have had it spared; and should not I spare this great city, in which are a hundred and twenty thousand children, which cannot discern between good and evil? From the large number of children, under two years of age probably, it is likely there were in the city six hundred thousand human creatures; and the innocent
children, and cattle, would have been involved in the common destruction, Even the cattle, he continues, are of more value, than the withering gourd. But the inhabitants are immortal souls, and shall I not much more spare them? And the children especially, shall I not spare the city for their sakes? A forcible argument, to bring the rebellious and passionate spirit of Jonah to reflection, and repentance; and which probably did so, although it is not thus recorded. For surely, after this solemn and humbling expostulation from God himself, he could not but hasten to exercise his prophetical functions, with a more exemplary sense of his own evil heart, and of the sacredness of his office. Thus ended Jonah's second mission.
Thus did the Lord pardon Nineveh for this time; although, about a hundred years afterwards, having relapsed into its former sins, the City, as two prophets, Nahum and Zephaniah, had foretold, was taken and destroyed.
The great Moral of the Story is, God's pardoning repenting sinners, as he did at Nineveh; and his long-suffering with repining saints, as it was shown to Jonah.
First Mission.-1. We are taught that those who are God's ministers must be prepared for unreserved obedience, and to go on any emergency, and to any place, when the Lord shall call them. For this ready obedience, they should cherish a humble spirit of faith, patience, and selfdenial. The fear of danger, or the love of ease, must yield to the duty of honouring and serving God. There is always more danger in disobeying, than in obeying, any command of God.
2. Jonah fled from God, but God, by his judgments, overtook him. We cannot flee from the presence of God. If we run from him, we but run towards his, and our enemy, Satan. Even the Heathen sailors reproved Jonah for his wickedness, and inconsistency of character.
So, if Christians profess one thing, and do another; look one way, and walk a contrary; even infidels will have cause to reproach and condemn.
3. We notice, that even these heathen mariners so exercised the natural dictates of reason and conscience, as to have a confiding sentiment of an overruling Providence in the casting of a lot; that when the lot was cast into the lap, the whole disposal thereof was of the Lord. And also, that they were scrupulous about shedding innocent blood. In these, even some Christians may feel that they do not improve their bright sun of Revelation, so well as did the heathen their dim star-light of Nature.
4. From the practice and success of Jonah, while in his floating grave, we may learn the propriety and efficacy of prayer. We may be placed, by the will of God, in some situation, where we cannot, any better than Jonah could, avail ourselves of the prayers of the church, or of any pious persons; but, if we have prayer, must pray for ourselves; as, indeed, we ought always to do. And as Jonah, in his prayer, used many of devout David's expressions; so should we treasure up in our hearts the pious words and meditations of the saints in the Bible, to aid us in our prayers and thanksgivings to their, and our God.
5. We learn, from the apparently helpless state of Jonah, while in the sea, and far beneath any human aid, never to despair of God's omnipotent mercy, even to the most rebellious of sinners, if they call upon him. If we descend into the deep, behold God is even there. It seemed impossible, that Jonah's life could be saved, after he was thrown headlong into the raging sea. But God could save him, and did save him, even there. And to do it, he performed a miracle, such as was never heard of before. And if Jonah, by the power of God, could live in the body of a fish; surely there can be no more unlikely or perilous place, from which God cannot rescue us. We are also taught, by the example of Jonah, to render thanks to God for his goodness, even in our severest trials; and when we vow to God, if he should relieve and restore us, always to be ready to pay to God that we have vowed.
6. Jonah was not only a type of Christ, by voluntarily laying down his life for the salvation of others; but the miracle done upon Jonah in the sea was a lively and very exact type of the death, burial, and resurrection of our Saviour, which occurred above eight hundred years after. And Christ prophesied of himself, that so long as Jonas was in the whale's belly, should be the Son of Man in the heart of the earth. And as this miracle of deliverance established the character of Jonah as a Prophet, so did the resurrection of Christ declare that he was the Messiah.
Second Mission.-7. In Jonah's second mission, we are taught, by the example of the Ninevites, the importance of national prayer, and the fasting of humiliation; especially in times of great moral delinquencies. The Ninevites, when warned to repent, or expect God's righteous judgments, cried mightily unto God, and humbled themselves as a people, even from the king to the servant, and put on the sackcloth, and sat in the ashes, of mourning. So we, if we do not give credence, and bestir ourselves, when we perceive God's providences, and read his warnings, do worse than these heathens did, and must expect heavier condemnations.
8. We perceive, that the king of Nineveh, when he made proclamation for a fast and prayer, also exhorted every one to turn from his evil way. So we, when con
vinced of sin, and earnest to avert the consequences of it, must not only pray, but act; not only repent, but reform. Reformation is the only true evidence of repentance. They that observe lying vanities, said Jonah in his prayer, forsake their own mercy.
9. We should take warning by Jonah, not to indulge in a fretful, unsatisfied disposition; and especially to guard against all exhibitions of selfishness, or passionate rashness. Jonah probably, when he denounced the judgments upon the Ninevites, exhorted them to repent, and encouraged them in hope of a reversal if they did so. when they repent, and are spared, he is angry. So he was exceeding glad of his gourd, and exceeding angry again when it died. This teaches even pious people the
necessity of watching their hearts, and ruling their spirits, before God, lest they provoke him to plague them with their own devices.
10. Doest thou well to be angry? This question, which God condescended to ask Jonah, we should always ask ourselves, whenever we are disposed to repine, if at any time God should think fit to take away any of our gourds; to send a worm to the root of any of our temporal comforts. And particularly, if, in order that others may receive a great blessing, we thereby should suffer a small disadvantage.
11. The gourd was but the daughter of a night. It came up in a night, and it perished in a night. Such is the emblem of human life, that has its root in the earth. The grace of the fashion of it soon passes away. A worm is at the root of every earthly enjoyment; a worm seen or unseen. And perhaps the gladder we are of our gourds, the sooner God causes them to wither, that we may plant our hopes upon the rock of ages. Thus do we grieve for the loss of a shadow. But if one gourd wither, God can cause another to spring up in its room. And let us not, because we have lost our gourd, so repine as to lose our God also.
12. We are taught the wonderful forbearance of God. Instead of killing Jonah at his word, he stoops to expostulate with him. We are also taught his regard for his creatures. He pleads, in extenuation of his sparing this great, but wicked city, not only their penitence, but that there were in it a vast number of little children, and also much cattle. Surely this humanity of God should move our hearts, as it doubtless did the hearts of the reprieved Ninevites.
13. Nineveh repented, when warned that they had but forty days to live. So we should be alarmed, if we were sure we should not live a month; and yet we are unconcerned, although we are not sure that we shall live a day. But as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of Man be to this generation.
From the mercy of God to the wicked city of Nineveh, we may take great encouragement to hope for mercy, if we humble ourselves, and repent of our sins, as