Jonah 3:1
We see Jonah entering here on the second stage of his strange career. And it is adjusted logically to the first. His recent experiences and their resulting sentiments form an obvious preparation for the duty next to hand. He has sinned and suffered and repented. He has deserted, and been captured and surrendered unconditionally. He has prayed, and been forgiven and set free. And it is natural that duty should be faced from a different standpoint henceforward. He is in another mind now, and ready for a new departure in personal effort and official tactics. And the opportunity to make it is promptly furnished.

I. THE SPIRITUAL DESERTER'S RETURN IS FOLLOWED BY HIS RE-ENGAGEMENT. Jonah had discarded much and been stripped of more. He had refused to act, and had ipso facto forfeited his commission. Now with a return to his right mind there is reinstatement in his lost calling, and re-employment in his forsaken work. We account for this on the principle that:

1. There is forgiveness with God, that he may be feared. There is a forgiveness that only encourages transgression. Such is weak forgiveness, implying a want of firmness in the forgiver, on which there is the temptation to make further aggressions. Such is careless forgiveness, that takes no hostages for the future, nor even makes terms. Such is inequitable forgiveness, in which principle is ignored, and the offence hushed up without regard to the claims of justice. But the Divine "more excellent way" of pardon is at once equitable and defined and strong. Amends for the past and amendment for the future are both exacted sternly. God forgives when he has punished, and on the unbending condition that the offence cease. Then punishment is mingled with so much of mercy, and requirement is sweetened by such]promise of grace, that gratitude mates with reverence, and obedience is the firstborn issue of the happy tie. The insubordinate, mutinous Jonahs having been ironed and subdued, are at length released, that in after action they may exemplify obedience unquestioning and without a semblance of the old self-will.

2. Spitual office attaches to existing spiritual relation. The Divine government is paternal God's officers are first, of all his children. Their fitness for the discharge of spiritual functions is due to their previous endowment, with spiritual gifts. If unspiritual men and whilst unspiritual they may be formally in office, but are incapable of spiritual work. When Jonah fell for the time being out of the spiritual connection, he ceased to be a prophet of God. He could not be at once a recruiter and a deserter, an ambassador and a rebel. Now he has come back, and in resumed spiritual relations he finds the condition of restored religious functions. He may again speak for God now that again he is on God's side. No man goes legitimately on God's errand who cannot do it con amore. Spiritual officers are to be sought exclusively by promotion from the spiritual ranks. Every true shepherd has been first of all a sheep in God's fold, and to each relation has come in by Christ, the Door.

II. GOD'S PROGRAMME IS STEREOTYPED, WHATEVER ELSE MAY CHANGE. (Ver. 2.) God has not changed, although Jonah has. The prophet's mutinous outbreak has not moved him a hairbreadth from his purpose. What he meant at first he means still, and will have. So the prophet is brought back exactly to the point at which he had broken away, and told to begin where he had left off.

1. God is moved still by the same compassion for the doomed. "That great city." The repetition of these words on each occasion of the mention of Nineveh is significant. It shows that God had regard to the tact of its size; that all through the arrangement of measures for its warning he was moved by the thought of its teeming population given over to death. Hence it is styled in ver. 3 "a great city to God," i.e. in his estimation, and in Jonah 4:11 the Divine compunction is directly connected with the existence of its hundred and twenty thousand children, not yet responsible, but bound to perish with it. The Divine compassion is a glorious factor in human life. Its attitude is catholic. It embraces in wide paternal arms the heathen that knows not God, the infant that could not know him if revealed. Its outflow is unstinted, averting myriad evils altogether, softening the inevitable, indemnifying the past by the amends of rich compensatory good. Believe in God's pity. It is a splendid fact. It is hunger's provision, and pain's anaesthetic, and misery's comforter, and humanity's good Samaritan in the darkest reaches of its Jericho journey, and the most calamitous experiences by the way.

2. God's prescribed step remains the fitting one to take. What other methods it was within the resources of Divine omnipotence to use for the conversion of the Ninevites, we cannot tell. What we know is that the proclamation of the truth was the ordinary method, and that God keeps to it. "The sword of the Spirit," with which he pierces the soul and kills its sin, is the "Word of God." "The foolishness of preaching" is that special presentment of the Word by which in all ages it has pleased God to save them that believe. And there is, if we could see it, the perfection of fitness in this ordinance. Truth is light revealing things as they are and as they ought to be. Truth is motive, presenting considerations that move intelligence to seek that better state. Truth is force, conveying to the soul and constituting in it the Divine omnipotent energy in the strength of which the new man arises, and the new life is lived. Truth is comfort, unfolding the soul rest and joy of the free which climb the throne of being when the new regime of righteousness begins. Then truth preached with the living voice and personal element is all this and more. To the influence proper to the abstract truth is added its influence as concreted in a human life. As light it is intensified by the added ray of an illustrative experience. As power it is reinforced by the impulse of a cooperant human will. As comfort it is at once confirmed and sweetened by personal testimony and fellow feeling. There is no conceivable substitute in the enginery of grace for the personal preaching to sinners of the word of life.

3. Repentance is best proved by obedience in the matter at which there was stumbling before. Jonah had passed through a severe discipline for the conquest of his self-will. Whether or not it was really overcome, this reiterated commission would test. And there was a needs be that the point should be settled. All judgment is "unto righteousness;" to bring us to it if afar from it, to restore us to it if we have strayed. And it is this not in the general, but in the particular. It is to check particular faults and produce the opposite virtues. In this object God will see that it succeeds... He cannot fail as men fail. His chains must bind. He gives no disputable instructions, nor moves to their observance by futile action. In tow of his disciplinary privataeers when they return to port, will be formal, as a prize of war, every skulking craft that had been trying to do the enemy's work. The proof that his measures have not been nugatory is the circumstantial realization of their purpose. The iniquity he visits with the rod he must see put away. The forsworn task he enforces with the strong arm he must see done. "God looks upon men when he has afflicted them and has delivered them out of their affliction, to see whether they will mend of that fault particularly for which they were corrected; and therefore in that thing we are concerned to see to it that we receive not the grace of God in vain" (Matthew Henry).

III. THE DISCIPLINED SERVANT IS AN IMPROVED SERVANT. (Ver. 3.) The stern discipline has done its work at last. The rebellious fit is over, and the unruly servant is pliant to his Master's will. What evils of terror and pain and agony he might have escaped if he had only done this at first! But God bends all things to his purpose, and Jonah's rebellious freak among the rest. His message to Nineveh is not only done, but better done than it could possibly have been at first.

1. Jonah is better prepared for it than he was. He has sinned and been forgiven, has suffered and been delivered, has prayed and received an answer. And each experience is of the nature of a qualification for the better doing of his work. "Rejoicing in the sweetness of a fresh and full reconciliation; lightened in spirit by tasting in God a mercy larger than he could formerly have thought of; cleansed from the darkness that brooded over his soul, and the countless images of terror and of evil which rose up before him while be was fleeing from his God in rebellion, and his God was pursuing him in wrath" (Martin), he would approach his Master's work as never before. Reverence for a God so great and good, and gratitude to a God so merciful and kind, would spring together and work together the new mind and way. Affliction, moreover, had left its mark on him. He was subdued and chastened. He knew experimentally his impotence and God's omnipotence. He could speak by book of the terrors of the Lord, and the fatuity of hoping to defy him and escape. And his preaching would have a reality and vividness about it attainable only by way of his late experience. Then "he had called upon the Lord in circumstances almost fitted to shut out the possibility of hope." If there be a case on record pre-eminently fitted to confirm the declaration, "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint," it is his. Would he not resume his post with livelier loyalty and implicit sense of duty, when he could resume it with the blessed protestation, "I love the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplication: because he hath inclined his ear unto me, I will call upon him as long as I live"? (Martin).

2. He does it implicitly. (Ver. 3.) "So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh: Submission is now as thorough as at first self-will was resolute. The change is excellent, and its occurrence a vindication of the treatment that has brought it about. An infinitely wise and holy will is God's. The ideal of a man's life is to believe in that will, and will it, and find his joy in doing it. From irreconcilable variance to absolute harmony with that ideal is Jonah's change, a change that means his spiritual readjustment. It will mean no less to us all "The felicity of heaven greatly consists in perfect submission in all things to the government of Jehovah the Saviour. The misery of this world is the want of that temper of mind; the very end and desert of grace is to restore us to it; and so far as we are under the influence of the grace of life, we are brought back to it; the more grace the more submission; and grace will not cease its operation in the saints till every thought is brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (Jones). A man following absolutely the lines of the infinitely perfect will; a man moving thereon with fullest faith and sympathy and zest; a man starting therein as a child starts for the haven of a mother's arms; a man incapable of other thought than following them to the highest good, and till his life's end; - that is a man in the highest sense, and to the highest spiritual effect.

3. He goes closely by his instructions. (Ver. 3.) According to the word of the Lord. This terse record is instinct with suggestiveness. He went because he was told, and where he was told, and when he was told, and as he was told, and to do the thing he was told, and in the way he was told. His conduct now was exemplary as before it was intolerable. And his case is typical. His instructions were the preacher's instructions for all lands and times. "Preach the preaching that I bid thee." It was this Moses preached (Deuteronomy 18:18), and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:7), and Paul (1 Corinthians 11:23), and Christ himself (John 7:16; John 12:50). It is this we must preach. What else is worth preaching, or can or dare be preached? As to the substance of his message, the preacher has no discretionary power. He is not to preach science, nor philosophy, nor sentiment, nor his own notions, nor human knowledge. He is rightly to divide the Word of life. That is all, "There is not the greatest minister, not the most learned or acute, But must observe this rule; not James, not John, not Peter, not all the troop of the apostles, my once vary from this: he who shall bring other doctrine, let him be accursed by us; he who speaketh of himself, let him be refused by us; howsoever godly or holy he do pretend himself, yet if he decline that word which should be his direction, let him be declined by us" (Abbot). Here is an admirable maxim for universal use, "according to the Word of the Lord." It is good, and wise, and true, and pertinent to every case, the key to every puzzle of life. Are you a sinner? there is salvation for you, full, and free, and present, and "according to the Word of the Lord." Are you a seeker? expect to find, for salvation is in Christ, and of those that come to him there are none cast out, "according to the Word of the Lord." Are you a saint? then fight and persist and hope; for that you are "kept by the power of God," and will yet "reap if you faint not," is "according to the Word of the Lord." - J.E.H.







And the Word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying.
Here we learn what God is to those who truly repent. God may even restore all that has been forfeited. For those who have done grievous wrong, it is encouraging to think that there is honour, and glory, and a blessed restoration to the full love of God, if only they return out of the darkness into the presence from which they have departed. God sent Jonah on the very same mission in which he had failed before, — and yet with a marked difference distinguishing the second from the first call. The changed command, though full of restored confidence, implies a warning to be exact in fulfilling the will of God — to be careful as to giving the message exactly as he received it. It seems to say, Risk not any further disobedience even in the least particular of the mission on which you are sent.

1. The exceeding mercy of God shown in this, that He offers renewed opportunities to those who fail to profit by the first opportunity; and it may be even opportunities of the same kind. They may have to be followed after a different manner, but yet the same object, the same end may be set before us till finally accomplished.

2. There is this further wonder in the forgiving and forbearing of God, that He causes the trials of the returning penitent to be the means of good. Those who have passed through the experience of such penitential struggles and fears may become afterwards a blessing to others, because they can tell of the dangers that beset them, and of the mercy through which they have been saved. The grace of God not only restores a man generally, as it were, but renews him in the very point in which he had sinned and failed. Take courage then, you who are beset with some special sin. Let us learn from the long catalogue of those who have fallen and have been recovered to take hope for ourselves. God desires a perfect, not an imperfect work. Grace crowns acts of penitence and faith.

(T. T. Carter.)

— Jonah, the runaway prophet, is now before us as Jonah the successful preacher.

1. Sin in God s servants is a great hinderer.

2. Faithlessness in the servant does not necessitate failure to the Master. Chastisement may lead to consecration, and that to successful service.

3. Moral delinquency repented of is no impassable barrier to former favour, privilege, and honour. God does not take advantage of our weakness to cut us off for ever. He is patient, pitiful, forgiving, and will restore His penitent servants to forfeited blessings and dignities.

4. The preacher's true function is to declare what God commands him. The message as well as the commission must bear the impress of Divinity. Divine thoughts, purposes, desires, truths, and not human notions, creeds, sentiments, opinions, fancies, must ever fill the mind, inspire the tongue, constrain the utterance, and fire the eloquence and enthusiasm of every ambassador of the Cross. Note that Jonah was obedient at last to the holy orders. He did what he should have done at first. Obedience is true or false according to the temper in which we act. Notice the method and matter of his preaching. His method was earnest, courageous, impressive. He "cried." His matter was adapted to rich and poor. It was solemn, humiliating, definite, merciful. We have the practical fruits of the preaching, — repentance and reformation. Nineveh's repentance was well timed, well grounded, well evidenced, by self-denial, self-abasement, earnest prayer, personal reform. Learn that genuine repentance averts the punitive purposes of God. God watches for genuine indications of moral reform. Behold them, He refrains from executing His threatenings. Repentance is a wonderful power in the domain of moral government.

(J. O. Keen, D. D.)

The prophet Jonah opposed the will of God, and would not do what God commanded him, as did Balaam; but there was this difference between them, — that Jonah did fear and love God. God destroyed Balaam. He only punished Jonah, and brought him to repentance. It is then a very good thing to love and serve God; because those who do so cannot quite turn away from God, and Cod will never quite turn away from them. If they sin, they will be punished, like Jonah was; but those who love and serve God are still under His care, and like Jonah are brought back to repentance. If there are among you any that are wishing to serve God, but are yet sometimes tempted to disobey Him, you may learn much by thinking of what happened to Jonah.

1. God gave him a command to go and tell the people of Nineveh that He was about to destroy them. It was a very hard command for him to fulfil. Jonah could not tell what might happen to him, if he ventured into that great foreign and heathen city. But God could take care of him. He knew that God was a loving Father to him. Whenever we are disposed to do wrong, then we are afraid of the Bible; we are afraid of every thing that tells us of our sin; we are afraid of pious persons; we cannot bear to pray. Whenever you are disposed to do what is wrong, you feel equally disposed to flee from the presence of the Lord. You act like Jonah. Therefore our best way is to love and serve God with all our hearts, and ask Him for grace to do all our duty, as Jonah ought to have done. When the lot fell upon Jonah, they asked him what he had done; and he was obliged to tell them how he had been shrinking from doing his duty, and was trying to escape from God, who followed him, and who knew where he was, and what he was doing. It must have made him more miserable to have seen how much better the heathen were than he. For he had brought them into danger, and they were trying to save his life. At last, at his own wish, they took him up, and threw him into the sea. Ungodly persons, when they are brought into trouble, cannot pray. Now there is not a place on earth, and there is not a degree of guilt in which we may be living, in which our believing prayer cannot reach the ear and heart of God: for when Jonah cried unto the Lord, in the midst of his troubles, God heard him, and caused the fish to vomit him out upon the shore of his own land. How humble and grateful he must have felt that day! He was not left, however, to be indolent and inactive. Jonah was brought through all his troubles, to just this point, that he must obey the commands of God. God's commands never alter. Our sins will not alter them; our troubles will not alter them; our deliverance will not alter them. God commands you to love and serve Him with all your hearts; God commands you to confess Jesus Christ in the world, to make the Bible your rule of life, and to live by faith and in prayer. Jonah was brought to God's command a second time; and if he had refused, he would have been brought to it a third time. He must do God's will. When he accomplished the will of God, and found it so easy, doubtless he thought, "Why did I not do it at first?"

(Baptist W. Noel, M. A.)

Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee
What are the points of difference between them? One respects Jonah himself. Formerly he knew the message that he was to deliver. Now he is simply told that a message will be given him, but he is not to know it until he arrives at the place. It may be the same. It may be milder; it may be sterner. Undoubtedly this change has reference to his former disobedience. The message was different in its substance also, to meet the change in Nineveh. When the message was given, it proved to be the never varying cry, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be destroyed." Some think he preached on this as a text; but as the cup of Nineveh's iniquity was now full, what was proper to the case was just a cry of coming judgment, brief and plain, startling, stern, unalterable, except by quick and unfeigned repentance. Probably Jonah did not add to this message by the faintest hint or suggestion. The simplest interpretation is the truest. This message makes us think.

1. Of the exceeding sinfulness of sin.

2. How inflexible is the justice of God.

3. What a stupendous power a city has for good or evil.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

Jonah was foolish, Jonah was wise; foolish to expect to balk God, wise to learn so quickly his folly. Misery, calamity, peril, and the sense of an ever present God who had brought them, did their work; and the prophet, back again at the starting-point, heeds the Divine voice, and turns with an obedient heart to fulfil the mission which he had thought to escape.

I. GOD'S AUTHORITY. The Being who speaks is conscious of His right. He does not mince words. God's demand on Jonah now is precisely what it was in the first place. There is no effort to compromise because of Jonah's former flight. Now comes the command again, plain, stern, uncompromising — "Arise, go, preach." The slight change of form in the expression seems full of meaning. "Arise, go, and preach the preaching that I bid thee." See that thou preach no other message than Mine. God owns men. All that we are, all that we have, all the service of our lives belongs to God. We delude ourselves with any sense of self-ownership. We get the idea that we own what God only loans to us.

II. GOD'S WAY WITH THE DISOBEDIENT. See how God goes to work to bring this man's will into subjection to His own. What a complex of world-wide, universe-wide machinery the Sovereign of all can set in motion for the subduing of a human spirit! Jonah is not more obdurate than Pharaoh. The storms, the seas, the worse tumults in his own bosom, the upbraidings of the crew, his thoughts of his past, his fear, — all are God's instruments, and under His direction each does its unconscious part toward the subjection of Jonah, and the salvation of the Assyrian capital. Jonah is a changed man. From a coward he has become a dauntless hero and prophet. Jonah thought himself free when he fled, but in fact his first real enjoyment of freedom came when he started to fulfil God's command.

III. GOD'S MISSIONARY MESSAGE AND ITS EFFECT. Jonah was the first foreign missionary. The men of far-off Nineveh were to learn of God, His love and holiness. The very heart of our conception of God as a moral being is His holiness. The holiness of God compels Him to insist upon holiness in all men. In Nineveh sin had taken on its most frightful developments. Nineveh had much, but it lacked just one element of fortune — righteousness. Nineveh's cup of iniquity was well-nigh full. Jonah's preaching was plain, earnest, effective, impressive. God went into the city with Jonah, but God had also gone before. The men of Nineveh were ready for the missionary. "The people believed God." To believe God is a great thing. The best possible evidence of the Ninevites' belief in the missionary's sermon was their conduct. They acted. They bestirred themselves as if they believed that the sin of their hearts and lives was endangering them. The ringing cry of Jonah reaches even the royal palace, and the king, humbled, joins his subjects in their plea for God's mercy. The people turned from their sin, and cried for mercy.

IV. GOD'S MERCY. God's heart was moved; doom was averted; Nineveh was saved. God was merciful to Jonah in following him through all his flight, in bringing him back to the starting-point, in using him though he had shown himself unworthy. God was merciful to Nineveh in sending the messenger to warn the city, and in preparing the hearts of the people for the message. And God is merciful in listening to their cry for forgiveness. God repented. His attitude toward Nineveh was changed. What changed it? Nineveh's attitude toward sin. What is meant by God's repentance? Speaking to man, God must use language with which man is familiar. Repentance means a changed attitude. The whole attitude of the Ninevites toward sin, and so, toward God, being changed, in that same hour God's attitude toward them was changed.

(John H. Mason.)

I. THE CHARACTER OF THE SERMON; or the objective elements of success.

1. It should be argumentative. To expect men to believe without proof is to expect them to become irrational.

2. It must be positive; mainly concerned in the teaching of truth, rather than in the refutation of error.

3. It is doctrinal. The larger part of those who compose our congregations depend upon the preacher for all the knowledge they will ever have of these great theological truths. That preaching is the most practical which indoctrinates the hearers with the fundamental elements of the Christian faith.

4. It should be systematic. As there is a logical coherence between all the parts of the religion we teach, why should we exclude system from our mode of exhibiting it?

5. A bold, unflinching testimony to the great doctrines of God's sovereignty, man's inability, election, and other unpopular doctrines of the Gospel.

II. THE CHARACTER OF THE MAN; or the subjective elements of success.

1. Individuality.

2. Earnestness is self-evidencing.

3. Consciousness on the part of the speaker that he is speaking to his audience. Some preach for the sake of the sermon. Others preach for the sake of the people.

4. The good preacher speaks with authority. Which may be derived from —

(1)Consciousness of official dignity.

(2)Unwavering conviction of the truth.

(3)Consciousness of personal acceptance with God.

5. The manner of delivery should be in accordance with the rules of good speaking. Delivery is an art, and is based upon scientific principles.

6. The preacher must have weight of personal character; not only piety, but weight of character. "Who of us is sufficient for these things?"

(J. W. Pratt, D. D.)

The Lord seems to say to Jonah, "Begin where you were when you started out to have your own way. Come back to. the very point at which we were, and start again." But the Lord distrusted him a little still, notwithstanding the discipline to which he had been subjected. Now God is more definite. "The preaching that I bid thee." There must be no mistake, no dodging, no evasion. Man may disobey God in two ways. He may not go, may plead excuses, and refuse to try to do the work. Or he may not do what God tells him to do, may do something somewhat like it, but not it. It is against this second kind of disobedience that God guards His servant. It is not difficult to obtain men, in this age, who are quite ready to go to great cities. But there are many who, when they go, do not do what God tells them to do. There is preaching enough, but when you come to take out of it the theological dialectics, and the wranglings, and the discussions of the secular phases of life, and the material interests of the Church, and the meddling with current events, you find that the bulk of God's preaching is comparatively small, and often of weak portent. The great question which lays itself down at the door of our hearts is, Are we doing our whole duty to the city? — not to one's self simply, but to the city? We are here upon God's errand. Is the city being saved? Is it being saved as we might save it? As God expects us to save it?

I. WHAT ARE THE METHODS WITH WHICH WE ARE TO GO INTO THIS GREAT CITY AS APPOINTED BY THE ALMIGHTY? God sends us with a definite commission, and there is to be decisiveness of action on our part. There is to be activity, earnestness. We are to impress upon these sinners round that we can die for them, but we can never leave them unsaved. This indefiniteness, this far-off century, this millennium dawning out of small faith is not of the Gospel. That is for the prophets of evolution, of aesthetics and social culture, for the false prophets. Within the Church are the leverages and forces to bring the millennium to this sinking world.

II. WHAT ABOUT THE PLACE; WHAT ABOUT THE EXACT METHODS; WHAT ABOUT THE APPLIANCES OF THE GOSPEL? If we are to preach to people the preaching God bids us to preach them, how are we to reach them? Jonah was to preach street preaching. Jesus Christ preached in the streets. The preaching of the Gospel should be just as accessible to men as when it is preached in the streets and in the fields. Christ expects men and women to be able to come to the preaching of the Gospel with as much freedom as they go along the highways. There should be nothing in the Churches or in the preaching of the Gospel that shall embarrass in the slightest degree any poor man, or plainly clad man, who may want to find Jesus Christ. We have built our churches away from the people. We imitate a useless, liturgical style of architecture. We let pews to the well-to-do. When men come to the altar of God, and it is their home, how they then throng about their minister; they don't hide away from him.

III. WHAT SHALL WE PREACH? The Gospel. Just simply the plain old Gospel of the old time. You and I are to preach that very same Jesus who went into Rome, and into Athens, and into Asia-Minor, and whom our fathers preached, and whom our fathers revered. Human nature needs it as much as ever it did. Preach to it the Crucified One; not a petty little philosophy of salvation, or a poetic story of a perfect Man Christ. But preach a God Christ, a Divine Christ, who was torn, lacerated by a devil-world; a risen Christ, risen by His own power, which He will exert in due time for all who die in Him. Preach a Gospel of conviction of sin, of repentance, of regeneration, of the witness of the Spirit, by which human hearts are made new, human character is transformed, human faces are transfigured, and dying mortals are translated into that glory where all are always like Him.

(J. R. Day, D. D.)

There was never a mission undertaken apparently more unpromising than this of Jonah to Nineveh. Here was. —

I. A MOST UNSUITABLE MISSIONARY.

1. To begin with, he was thoroughly unwilling to go. His reason he gives in Jonah 4:2. He was fearful that the heathen would repent at his preaching, and in that case God would have compassion, and forgive and spare them. What a fear to be entertained by a missionary!

2. Unsuitable because of the self-deception which he could practise on himself, and his moral confusion and compromise. Let us not think worse of Jonah than the case demands. He has his good traits. At least he is honest, and he is as severe on himself as he is on others.

3. It would have seemed unfavourable also that Jonah should be sent on such a mission entirely alone.

II. NINEVEH WAS A VERY DIFFICULT FIELD. Perhaps the most discouraging thing about it was that its people already knew Jonah's country, his race, and his religion, and thoroughly despised them all. It was to the proud metropolis of a resistless empire, overflowing with wealth and numbers, filled with insolence and luxury, that the lonely man from the village of Gath-hepher was sent. And did it not make matters worse that God had bidden Jonah to carry to Nineveh such a disheartening, exasperating message?

III. YET THE MISSION OF JONAH WAS A SUCCESS. A success scarcely paralleled in ancient or in modern times. Nineveh "believed God." It is not possible to tell the extent or the permanence of this national repentance. Learn —

1. All races of men have been in God's loving care.

2. We see the method of God's mercy to the heathen.

3. We may cherish great expectations concerning the hardest fields of the heathen world.

4. The religious use of fear.

5. The moral power of leaders, whether social or political.

6. Learn Christ's own lessons from this history.

(Arthur Mitchell, D. D.)

The eye of God is always on man. We seem to act as if God retired into the distance of heaven, and took no cognisance of the actions of man. But if God's eye does look upon man, the disposition of God is to show mercy to man. For do we not see here the messenger sent to Nineveh? If God has a disposition to show mercy, God is one whose patience has limits. We are not to suppose that we can trifle with God; that we can go on with our iniquity, and that God will never vindicate His honour. Learn also that we may hope in preaching to the very worst and most abandoned. Wicked Nineveh listened to the voice of warning. The text further teaches us the duty of the Church, the duty of all God's people. They are to arise and go and preach the preaching which God bids.

1. We are to arise and go. Here at once activity is demanded at our hand. There must be no lethargy and no lukewarmness.

2. Besides showing activity, the Church is to be aggressive. Jonah was to go away into the haunts of wickedness, and there to scatter in the midst of those people the warnings of Almighty God. So we are to go unto the dark places, and carry that light which God has communicated to man.

3. The Church is to be as the "salt of the earth." What does that involve? That it is to influence everything that it touches. And how many are the stimulants to urge us to this active, aggressive work! And observe that we are to preach the preaching that God bids. The preaching must be only what God wants. There must be no addition on our part, no fancies or imaginations of our own. Three parts in preaching.

(1)A warning to the people.

(2)We are affectionately to expostulate.

(3)We must speak the .language of comfort and encouragement.

(Canon Hussey.)

This is an age of enterprise. The world is more active and energetic than ever before. Gigantic schemes, of which the world scarcely dreamed in days gone by, are being hourly put into practical effect. This spirit also pervades the Church of Christ.

I. CHRISTIAN ENTERPRISE IS DIVINELY COMMANDED. "Arise and go" is the Divine command to every church, to every society, to every Christian to-day.

II. THE OBJECT OF CHRISTIAN ENTERPRISE. It is included in God's command to Jonah, " Arise, go...and preach... that I bid thee." The work of the Church is to preach, to proclaim what God commands it — all the word of God. Nothing can be accomplished without time, trouble, expense, and labour.

III. THE EFFECT OF CHRISTIAN ENTERPRISE.

1. It had its proper effect upon the people toward whom it was directed. They believed God, they repented in sackcloth and in ashes.

2. It received the approval of God. God was pleased with Jonah and with the people. He heard their cry of repentance.

(S. H. Doyle.)

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