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fled from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa," where "he found a ship going to Tarshish, so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it," hoping thus to shun the work which the Lord had set apart for him to do. But it is in vain for us to try and escape from the presence of God, for there is no part of the earth where He is not; every shore is His, and over every sea He alone has power: and unless we make up our minds to perform what we know to be His will, we can never hope for safety or happiness, although we should search for it in every land under the sun.
Jonah was not long before he found the Lord was still with him, and he soon began to feel that it is a fearful thing to fall under the displeasure of Almighty God: for "the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken;" then were the men all very much afraid, and each man cried unto his god, but to no purpose; they then threw overboard a great many things, to lighten the ship, but yet the sea raged, and danger was around them. All this time Jonah lay asleep in the side of the ship, "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.' When Jonah looked around him, and saw what was come upon them, his conscience (*) told him this was a punishment from the Lord. The people then said, "come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us; so they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah." He then told the people what he was, and that he fled from the presence of the Lord; then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, "Why hast thou done this?" Jonah said unto them, "Take me up and cast me forth into the sea, so shall the sea be calm unto you; for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you." The men did not seem willing to do this, and they rowed hard to bring the ship to land, but they could not, for the sea was very rough. Then they cried unto the Lord, and said, "We beseech Thee, O Lord, we beseech Thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood; for Thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased Thee." So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea, and the sea ceased from her raging.
Although the Almighty had thus punished his servant for disobedience,(*) He did not leave him to perish, but saved his life by a miracle, even at the bottom of the sea. God caused a large fish to swallow up Jonah, and in this fish was he kept alive three days and three nights; during which time he prayed unto his God, who heard him, granted his prayer, and caused the fish to throw him out upon dry land.
In the Eighth Letter I told you what was meant by a type of our Saviour; and in the preservation of Jonah three days. and three nights, in the fish, we may see the power and the mercy of that Divine Saviour who took upon himself the form of a man, and came down from heaven to dwell upon the earth, where he was illtreated, and had not a place in which to lay his head, but was scoffed at, and at length put to a painful death on the cross, from whence He was taken down and buried; but after He had lain in the three days and three nights, he arose, shewed himself to his disciples, and was taken from them into heaven, where He sits on the right hand of the throne of God.
You will conclude that after having
thus felt the danger of disobeying his God, and having been so wonderfully saved by the same powerful Being, Jonah would not again resist the word of the Lord, which came unto him a second time, saying, "Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee." He went and entered the city, a day's journey, and he cried and said, Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown."
We find that the people repented at the preaching of Jonah; and when their king heard of it, he arose from his throne, put on sackcloth, sat in ashes, and commanded that all in the city should fast, and cry unto the Lord, saying, "Who can tell if God will return and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?" When the Almighty saw that their repentance was real, he once more spared the city, and had mercy upon the people.
This displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry; he did not like that the words, the saying of which he had so dreaded, and from which he had tried to escape, should, by the mercy of God, be prevented coming to pass; perhaps if he had thought a little more how
much he himself owed to that mercy, his anger would have passed away: but if pride and selfishness are once given way to, we become blind to the good of others, and think only of ourselves. Jonah was very wrong to allow himself to give way to these bad feelings; but the Almighty was pleased to make him know his fault. He went out of the city and sat down till he might see what would become of it; then the Lord God caused a gourd to grow up over Jonah, and its shadow was very pleasant to him, and we read that "Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd." But while he was enjoying the refreshing shade which the plant threw upon him, God caused a worm to eat it at the root, so that it withered; and the sun shone very brightly, and a strong wind blew from the east upon him, until he fainted, and wished in himself to die. "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."
Here we see Jonah was sorrowful for the decay of the gourd, because he felt the want of it himself; he would have had it spared, because it was of use to him. "Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou