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REV. BEAVER H. BLACKER, M.A.,
ST. MARY'S, DONNYBROOK, DUBLIN.
“ What meanest thou, O sleeper? What excuse canst thou offer for thine unreasonable conduct? Art thou dreaming of future opportunities to call upon God, when, for ought thou knowest, the ship may sink with thee the next instant, and thy soul may be plunged into the depths of hell? 'Arise,' I say, 'and call upon thy God,' and lose not a moment in a concern of such infinite importance."
WERTHEIM AND MACINTOSH,
24, PATERNOSTER-ROW. DUBLIN: W. CURRY AND CO., UPPER SACKVILLE-STREET.
Price One Penny.
THE PROPHET JONAH.
My design is to relate briefly the history of Jonah, and to make a few plain and practical observations upon what has been recorded for our learning. And let us bear in mind that our blessed Saviour thought proper to allude to the same individual, (Matt. xii. 39—41, xvi. 4; Luke xi. 32,) thereby confirming this interesting narrative, and sanctioning the practice of taking the inspired men of old as our examples in piety and godliness, when they acted rightly ; or as our beacons against the many dangers of sin, when they erred and went astray from the path of duty. May God's Holy Spirit enable me to bring the subject home with profit to
your souls !
About eight hundred years before the advent of the Messiah, during the period when the Most High was wont to reprove and instruct mankind by His inspired prophets, Jonah, an Israelite (a Hebrew, as he called himself, and one that feared the Lord), was commanded by God (Jonah i. 2,) to go and warn the inhabitants of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire, of an impending destruction, which was to befall them on account of the wickedness that prevailed in their great and populous city. But Jonah was rebellious (i. 3), unwilling, perhaps through fear, to carry the unpleasant message of Divine displeasure ; and he therefore endeavoured to shun this irksome duty, and to flee from the presence of the Lord, by going in a different direction—not to Nineveh, but to Joppa. With this view, he set sail for Tarshish; but, when at sea, a heavy storm arose (i. 4), and the mariners, finding all their efforts ineffectual, betook themselves every man to call upon
his favourite deity. Observing that their passenger was asleep, they roused him, exhorting him to supplicate his God in this their time of need. “What meanest thou, O sleeper ?” cried the shipmaster : “ arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.” (i. 6.) The tempest, however, still raging in all its fury, and their lives being in the most imminent danger, they had recourse to the casting of lots, in order to discover, as they superstitiously expected, the guilty individual, upon whom the wind and sea so loudly called for vengeance. (i. 7.) “ So they cast lots and the lot fell upon Jonah ;” who, in answer to their inquiries, penitently related his offence, and urged the men to throw him overboard. (i. 8–
14.) Then “they took up Jonah,” but with great reluctance, “and cast him forth into the sea ; and the sea ceased from her raging.” (i. 15.) Thus did judgment overtake him, as it had overtaken Achan in the camp of Joshua ; and, like Achan, he might well have been summoned into the presence of God. But lo ! God had taken measures for his preservation in this life. These, however, I need not particularize, since the manner in which he was miraculously preserved, and of what his preservation was a type, is known undoubtedly to all; as likewise the surprising success of his ministry among the profligate inhabitants of Nineveh, to whom, for the second time, he was sent with a message of destruction. “The people of Nineveh believed God,” we are told, “and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them
And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way ; and God repented of the evil that He had said that He would do unto them, and He did it not.” (iii. 5–10.)
Yet, strange as it must appear, this happy result of his second mission excited discontent in Jonah ; who, either indulging his Jewish prejudices against the Ninevites, or loving the praise of men, and fearing their displeasure more than the wrath of God, dreaded to be thought a false prophet for having announced a destruction, which God, in His tender mercy, saw proper to avert. (iv. 1-3.) Oh!